Logan tilted his head from side to side and his neck popped
like a string of firecrackers going off. He glanced at his
shoulder, which was already mended, then down to the
pathetic man huddled at his feet.
"I'd better go," he said. He was talking to Xavier but
looking at the floor.
"That might be for the best," Xavier began, but Scott
"Wait. Can...can someone help me? My glasses?" Slowly he got
to his feet, his eyes squeezed shut to prevent devastation,
an irony Marie felt in the marrow of her bones. Scott
reached out blindly, breathing in shallow gasps. Logan
retrieved the glasses and placed them in Scott's
"I think you hurt yourself," he said, exchanging a glance
with Marie. Shit, did he think she knew about wound care
just because she was a girl?
Scott struggled to get his glasses on straight. Blood
trickled from a gash on his left hand and his right was
already swollen to almost twice its normal size.
Still looking at Marie, Logan extended his hand and raised
"That won't work," she said quietly. "I can't make it...flow
"I saw you give some of Pyro's power back after you grabbed
him. You can do this. Just...try."
Tugging the fingers of her glove between her teeth, she
bared one hand and wrapped her fingers around Logan's wrist.
She hung on until she knew he was about to keel over, then
she walked up to Scott and touched his shoulder. "I'm going
to touch you for a second, okay?"
He nodded, gritting his teeth as Marie put her fingers on
his temple. She wasn't sure how to do this, how to redirect
the surge, but when she foced on Scott's mangled hands, it
just happened. Powerful. Visceral. Almost sexual. Logan's
regenerative strength flowed out of her even as she absorbed
some of Scott's mutation. It was enough for her to put a
hole through volumes six through nine of the Encyclopaedia
Brittanica in the bookshelf before she remembered to close
Scott brushed her hand away, then gently put his glasses on
her face. "Keep the seal tight," he said.
When she opened her eyes, the room had a weird tone to it,
as if the colors had been muted to a dull sepia. "Turn the
knob over your left temple," Scott instructed. "It'll put
the colors back in balance."
Marie did so, and looked at Scott. His eyes were open.
Normal. Sky-blue, almost silver, both beautiful and
heartbreakingly sad. "Oh," she whispered, then again, "Oh,"
as she looked down and saw that his hands were completely
healed. She felt a surge of pride, the only one she had felt
since the first time she realized she was a mutant.
"Thank you," Scott said simply and warmly. He put his arms
carefully around her, not touching her flesh, just cradling
her to his chest. He was slim and strong and oh, God, it
"I'm sorry," he said, both to her and to Logan. "That
was...out of line. Out of control. Whatever. I'm sorry."
"We've all been amazed at how much control you have shown
the past few days," Xavier said. "You're exhausted, Scott.
He nodded slowly, stroking Marie's hair for a moment then
releasing her. "Keep those on until you're sure my mutation
is gone. I can feel it starting to come back." Scott closed
his eyes. "Bobby, could you go to the Ready Room and pick up
As Bobby bolted out of the room. Scott felt the air with his
hand. "Logan? You okay?"
"Will be in a minute." His voice sounded strangely distant
and weak. "She took the stuffing out of me. Plus, you got in
a couple of good shots, there."
Scott shuffled slowly in the direction of Logan's voice. It
was awful to see this man, this leader, stumbling blindly
across the room. "Let me help you," Marie offered, slipping
her hand through his arm and guiding him carefully. "He's
His head lowered, Scott extended his right hand. Logan shook
it, not as roughly as Marie had expected. Even through the
filter of the glasses she could see empathy in Logan's
expression. "Don't worry about it," Logan said. "Important
thing is that Jean's come home."
A little smile tugged at the corner of Scott's mouth. Bobby
came back in, visor in hand, and Scott set it carefully on
the bridge of his nose. "Thanks."
"Sure. Uh, Storm said to tell you that Jean's changing
clothes and she's about to come downstairs." Bobby rubbed
his hands together nervously. "She's pretty pissed that you
got rid of her stuff."
Marie and Scott both flinched. With the help of Kitty and
Jubilee, they had gone through the closet and given
everything to Goodwill, everything but the evening gown
she'd worn to the Professor's party. And she could hardly
"Crap," Marie mumbled under her breath.
Xavier lead them into the foyer, where they peered anxiously
up the staircase. Jean began her descent. She was wearing
something of Ororo's, something black with long, flowing
sleeves. Like birds' wings, Marie thought.
"Did you get some rest?" asked Xavier.
Jean nodded. Her eyes were still brighter than they had
been, but they lacked the crackle of energy. "I guess I owe
everyone an apology," she said in a voice much more like her
own. "I haven't been like...this...very long. When I'm
having an emotional response, I can't really control
myself." She glanced around, cocking her head when she saw
Scott's glasses on Marie. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Logan said, but not before Scott replied, "We had
Jean closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "A fist fight.
Marie took Logan's power to heal--" She opened her eyes
again. "Scott, you're hurt!"
"Nah." He held up his hands. "Good as new." He took a step
forward. "Jean, this is...I mean, I dreamed that you'd
somehow be alive...I just..."
"Storm told me everything," Jean said. "And even if she
hadn't, I'd be able to sense what you've been through. All
of you." She smiled at last, looking the way Marie
remembered her, and crouched down at Xavier's side. "I'm
going to need your help to find my way back," she said.
Xavier put his hand on the side of her face, then at the
back of her head. She leaned into the caress, resting her
forehead on his arm with a long sigh. "I'm so tired,
Charles," she whispered.
"I can only begin to imagine." He stroked her hair. "We can
have all these conversations later. In the meanwhile, you
should go back to your room."
"Yes." She lifted her head and smiled shyly at Scott. "Come
"Oh, God, yes, of course." He helped her to her feet and
slipped his arm around her waist. HIs face radiated joy. "I
can't believe you're really here."
She laid her head on his shoulder as they slowly walked up
the stairs. Marie felt Logan stiffen behind her, reining in
whatever he was feeling right at that moment.
Xavier's voice broke the stillness. "Storm, did she tell you
how it happened?"
Storm waited until Scott and Jean were out of earshot. "She
said she doesn't remember much but there was a kind of
bubble around her. Energy that hadn't been expended, that's
what she's guessing. She said she must have been knocked
completely out. That's why you couldn't 'feel' her in your
Marie couldn't imagine the kind of energy it would take to
repel all that rushing water. "What about the clothes?" she
asked. "Where did they come from?"
Ororo pursed her lips. "Jean says she woke up in them."
"Whoa." That was Bobby, who had run his hand through his
hair so many times that he looked like a chia pet. "I'm not
the physics master or anything--"
Xavier hid his chuckle behind a cough.
"--but clothes can't just appear out of nowhere."
"I'm just telling you what she said to me. Then I told her
she looked like a bird made out of fire, and she laughed and
told me she was now the Phoenix."
"Risen from the ashes," Xavier said, nodding sagely.
Marie felt a sudden chill and rubbed her hands up and down
her arms. Bobby came up behind her, placing his palms well
within the safe boundary of her sleeves, but that only made
her feel colder. She didn't need an Iceman. She was too fond
of him to tell him to go away, so she stayed cold as she
went back to her room to forget about the day's events.
Especially that kiss. Even in the solitude of her bedroom,
whispers floated around her. The children's silence changed
to a muted susurrence. Dr. Grey is alive. She's alive.
And she kissed the Wolverine.
As if doing penance for being annoyed with him earlier,
Marie stayed close to Bobby for the rest of the day. The
youngest children pelted them with questions that they
couldn't answer. The adults just looked shellshocked.
Finally, after hours of having both Logan and Scott in her
head, Marie pleaded exhaustion and went to her room with
Bobby. She closed her eyes, hoping that she could feign
sleep so he would leave her alone with her chaotic thoughts.
After a while, Bobby stopped stroking her hair. Marie felt
his weight leave the bed and heard the door open and close
She didn't expect a hand on her shoulder. Leaping upright,
Marie gasped in shock.
"Take it easy, it's just me."
Just Jean, who must have slipped in as Bobby slipped out.
She was still wearing Ororo's black outfit, which
accentuated her pallor. Marie noticed that Jean was wearing
gloves. "Precaution," Jean said, flexing her hands. "I
didn't know how you'd react."
Marie sat up and leaned against the headboard. "Well,
considering that I was just wakened by someone who died four
days ago, I think I'm holding it together just fine."
"You weren't asleep," Jean said softly. "I don't imagine you
could be, not with two other people inside your head."
Of course Jean would understand what it was like to have a
mind crowded with thoughts that weren't her own. There were
still remnants of Erik Lensherr in her head, but they were
faint, smoky tendrils compared to the pulsing life forces of
Scott and Logan. Marie tucked her scarf more securely around
her neck, then pointed to her temple. "They're fighting,
even in here. Over you."
Marie tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. The white
hairs were coarser and tickled the soft flesh. "How's
Jean cocked her head. "You were in the chapel a couple hours
ago, crying at my funeral, and you're asking how's Scott?"
"You hurt him," Marie said, wanting to accuse Jean but at
the same time feeling such relief to be able to speak to her
"I'm sorry." Jean hung her head. For someone who had managed
to bring herself back from the dead, Jean was sure
apologizing a lot. "I know you care a great deal for him.
And he for you. But there's also Logan. What I feel for
Scott is not the same as..." Her voice drifted away on a
"As what you feel for Logan?" Marie offered, the words
sticking in her throat. Despite herself, she began to cry
silently, tears streaking down her face.
Jean wiped them away with her gloved hand, then sat beside
Marie on the bed and drew the girl into her arms. "I know, I
"I don't understand. You have a bond with Scott. And he
loves you. I mean, more than I've ever known anyone to love
another person. What else could you possibly--"
"Need?" The embrace tightened, and not pleasantly. Jean's
voice began to take on more and more overtones. "I'm a
phoenix back from the dead, Rogue. I want to change my
Marie tried to wrestle free, but Jean held her fast. "What
about your fiance?"
"My fiance," Jean said coldly, "didn't try to save me.
Didn't even try to find my body. Just gave up and ran away."
She couldn't know, of course, about those first desperate
minutes on the Blackbird when Scott had screamed and railed
about going back, while it was Logan who had held his arms
and shaken him back to reality.
"He wanted to," Marie said, hoping to convey some of that
anguish to Jean. "But Logan held him back. He'd have crashed
the plane into the water to find you. Hell, he'd have jumped
in the water and swum every inch. He'd have done anything."
When Jean didn't answer, Marie leaned toward her. "Go in
here. I'll show you what I remember, what I saw that day."
Long, slender, strong hands hovered over Marie's temple,
then pulled back. Of course, Jean's expanded power meant she
cold read minds from a distance, like the Professor. Marie
didn't feel invaded, the way she did when she was touched.
It was more like a gentle nudge. They were just sitting side
by side in a theater and the movie was about to begin.
I can't see through the window, I'm too far back and Scott's
blocking my view. He looks like he's trying to press himself
through the glass. The plane starts to lift off and I think
you'll be back any second, but instead he starts to shake
all over, like he's having his own personal earthquake.
Logan starts saying, "She's gone, she's gone," then Scott
rushes over to him.
I can't believe that Scott's doing this, he's BEATING on
him, yelling, "You don't get to say that! We have to go
back!" But Logan's holding him back, just saying, "She's
gone" like a parrot. He has his back to me so I can't see
his face, but Scott collapses against his shoulder, and oh,
God, Jean, the look on his face, he's so white, it's like he
died right there with you...
Without warning, Marie was alone in her own mind again. She
trembled with a sudden fear as she looked into Jean's eyes.
They were the same glowing copper as before, when she'd
acted so strangely in the chapel. They were fire-hot but
somehow still cold. Nothing of Jean's kindness or humor
remained in those burning eyes.
Neither one of them said anything for almost a minute. Marie
kept her gaze on Jean's eyes, watching in fascination as
they dimmed to a nearly normal shade of brown, as something
of Jean's essence returned to them. "I didn't understand,
"Do you understand now?" Marie hated how tight and needful
her voice was.
Jean nodded. "He felt so much pain. All that pain, and there
was nothing he could do." Rising slowly from the bed, Jean
continued talking. Marie realized with a start that the
conversation was one-sided. "There was nothing he could do,"
Jean murmured as she walked toward the door.
Well, at least Jean was coming around--
"Oh, poor Logan."
This wasn't over.
Any other day, any other situation, and Marie would have
been thrilled to be included in the meeting. But she went
into the room knowing something the others did not: they
didn't really have Jean back, after all.
The Professor sat at the head of the table with Scott on his
right and Ororo on his left. Logan sat uneasily next to
Ororo while the seat next to Scott was vacant. Neither Marie
nor Bobby took that seat. It was meant for Jean.
Marie considered telling someone about the encounter she'd
had with Jean earlier. But who would listen? Not Scott, the
wounded hero, nor Logan, punch-drunk with Jean's return.
Ororo...maybe. But Marie never felt a connection with her
and wasn't sure she would be taken seriously. And the
Professor? He was so happy to have his golden girl back that
Marie would be wasting her sweetness on the desert air.
She entered last, draped in red and black. Scott rose and
pulled back her chair, but she took a seat at the foot of
the table, opposite the Professor. Leaning on her elbows,
she smiled at the Professor. It wasn't a warm smile. "I
assume we're not going on a mission," she said. "I assume
we're here to talk about me."
"We do want to welcome you home, Jean," Xavier said mildly.
"In the midst of the confusion, it's entirely possible that
we may have expressed our joy in some...rather
unconventional ways. But we are relieved, and overjoyed."
From her seat next to Logan, Marie could see how tight
Scott's face was, how his hands shook even though they were
folded directly in front of him. She was grateful that she
couldn't see his eyes. There was no way she could have borne
the pain that surely was written across their depths.
"What is it that you need?" Ororo asked gently.
"Time," was Jean's sharp answer. "This was an enormous thing
that happened to me. I need time to process it."
"But you will rejoin the team," Xavier said without a hint
of doubt in his voice.
Scott turned to stare at her, beseeching.
Jean shook her head. "I was never really part of the team."
Over the combined protests of the others, she kept talking.
"I never had a set function. I never even had a name the way
the rest of you do." She smiled at Marie, but it wasn't
warm, wasn't pleasant. "Even Rogue walked in the door with
her mutant identity intact. I was only ever Jean."
Scott started to get to his feet, but Xavier stopped him.
"Let her finish," he murmured.
Everyone was staring at Jean. Even the ends of her hair
seemed alive, crackling with electricity, and the glow in
her eyes was back in full force. "Most of Jean Grey died
that day, even though the force of the water didn't
completely kill her. I'm a phoenix, and I'm alive, but I'm a
Dark Phoenix and that's going to be my name." She took a sip
of water from the glass in front of her. "Just as my name
has changed, so has my life."
Scott slumped in his seat as if shying away from a blow.
Jean delivered it. "I do love you, Scott. But love changes.
It mutates. You're all I've ever known." The look she fixed
on Logan was predatory. Dangerous. "I need time to discover
all the things I missed."
"I'm sorry you feel as if being here with us has deprived
you." Xavier's voice was deep and sorrowful. "That was never
our intent. Nor was it our intent to shelter you to the
point where you felt excluded from the team."
"I've always been the good girl. My whole life I've been
perfect little Jean, the perfect scholar, the perfect
mutant, the perfect lady, the perfect girl engaged to the
perfect boy. I'm done with perfect now. I want a man, not a
boy." Again, her gaze went to Logan, so full of desire that
Marie felt her own cheeks flushing in response. "I want
Even though Marie saw the punch before it was delivered, she
still reeled with the emotional force.
Logan just stared at Jean as if he were trying to read
something inside her head. He turned toward Scott. Marie saw
Scott go white, his lips compressed, his entire body utterly
stiff. He looked down at his hands.
"On the Blackbird, on the way home, I said I'd give anything
if I could see you just once more," he said slowly. When he
lifted his face, the pain was so evident that not even Logan
could look at him. Only Jean kept her eyes fixed on him,
observing with a calm Marie could not imagine.
"I said I'd give anything," Scott repeated. "And I have to
"I think," the Professor put in after an agonizing silence,
"that part of this discussion rightfully belongs to Logan."
"I'd say," Logan began slowly, "that this should be a
private discussion. But since there are telepaths
involved..." He trailed off, shaking his head. "What am I
supposed to say right now?"
"I'm not one of the telepaths," Scott snapped, "but I've got
a pretty good idea what you'd like to say."
"You got no idea." Logan stood up and leaned over the table
toward Scott, who stood up as well. So much power, so
scarcely controlled. The remnants of Logan inside Marie's
head were almost howling in shared rage. Marie put a gloved
hand on his arm only to have it immediately shaken off.
"This doesn't involve you, kid," he snarled.
Stung, Marie pulled away and slumped in the chair. She put
her elbows on the table and rested her forehead in her
hands. They were clammy with sweat until a little puff of
air cooled them. Bobby. He always knew.
Marie didn't have time to express any gratitude because
Logan was already speaking again, his voice a rough growl as
he stared Scott down. "If I agree to this - and there's no
guarantee that I will - we need to make something clear." He
turned to Jean, and the change in his tone made Marie's soul
ache. "I never got the chance to grieve for you because I
never got the chance to love you. If I'm what you want, I'm
not gonna say no."
"Son of a--" Scott began.
Logan cut him off. "But there are conditions."
Smiling contentedly, Jean leaned back in her chair. "How
"Three. Number one: this is temporary. When you come back to
your senses, it's over. Number two: you're gonna work with
the Professor, here, because the sooner that happens, the
"What's number three?" Scott asked between clenched teeth.
Logan faced him and squared his shoulders. "I won't do this
here, in this house."
"Afraid I might kick your ass?"
Never breaking his gaze, Logan shook his head. "I know what
you think I am, Cyclops, and right now I don't give a shit
except to tell you that you're dead wrong. If being with me
will help Jean, then I'll do it, but no way am I gonna
cuckold a man in his own house."
The room was so still that Marie could hear Scott's shallow
breathing as an embarrassed flush stole across his chiseled
features. Slowly he loosened his grip on the edge of the
table and melted down into his chair. "Is this what you
really want, Jean?" he whispered brokenly.
Jean sounded almost sad. "It's what I need right now,
Scott." She got up and took brisk steps to where he was
seated, then put the palm of one hand on top of his head. A
benediction. "Thank you for understanding," she added.
Logan walked to the door and held it open for her. Even
after she left, he stood in the doorway, looking sorrowfully
back at Scott. "I'll help her get her things out."
"Don't worry. I won't stay in that room anymore. You can
burn the damn thing to the ground if it makes you feel any
"Logan," the Professor said as Ororo reached across the
table to take Scott's hand in hers. He looked the way he did
when they'd all thought Jean was dead, as if he were
enduring her loss a second time. "Don't take her far.
There's a carriage house by the lake. She can come here to
see me, or I can go to you. But don't separate us until I
know for certain what her new powers are and how much of
Nodding, Logan turned his attention to Marie. The connection
between them crackled, like a tiny electrical current. "You
gonna be okay?"
The hell? How could he ask her that, with her heart breaking
and with Scott about to either turn into stone or implode?
But that wasn't his question. He wasn't stupid; he knew she
was far from being anything close to okay. But would she be
close enough to keep watch over Scott?
"Yeah," she breathed, trying to sound steady. "I'm good."
Again, Logan nodded. His face looked...older. Maybe it was
the fading light, or maybe he was just incredibly sad.
"Cy...Scott. I'm sorry."
This time Scott didn't bother to turn around. His jaw was
set and his hands were folded neatly in his lap. Control.
"Just get out." As Logan went out the door, Scott flinched.
"Take care of her," he whispered, and Marie couldn't help
but wonder if Logan's remarkable ears had picked up the
"You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"