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"Chaos Theory" (2a/3, Ensemble, Marie POV)

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  • Marguerite
    A few weeks passed, then a month, then two months. During that time whatever Jean and the Professor talked about on his daily visits to the carriage house
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2004
      A few weeks passed, then a month, then two months. During
      that time whatever Jean and the Professor talked about on
      his daily visits to the carriage house remained a secret
      between the two of them. Silence between telepaths.

      Marie struggled with her schoolwork. Never fond of sitting
      still for extended periods of time, she found it agonizing
      to stare for an hour at the empty chair where John used to
      sit. Even more difficult were the days when Bobby became
      clingy and needful, his offers to help her with her calculus
      simply transparent ploys to be close to her.

      The worst, though, were Scott's lectures.

      He had always tended toward the pedantic. The Professor
      called him "focused." The kids called him "Tight-assed."
      They had all tried to cut him some slack in the weeks after
      Alkali Lake - a lot of it, considering that he'd been
      through his fiancee's "death" and her subsequent abandonment
      of him. But he'd come to a physics class with notes for
      motorcycle repair, given them a test on something they
      hadn't covered yet, and called Colossus "Flea" by accident.

      Once in a while they'd hear Jean or Logan outside, talking
      to one another or the Professor, and those were the times
      Scott just gave up and told them to take a walk.

      About a month after Jean had moved out, on the day of Marie
      and Bobby's graduation, Scott had come to the ceremony with
      stitches on his chin and a swollen cheekbone. No one knew
      exactly what had happened to him, but Marie noticed that the
      RX-8 was no longer in the garage and that the Professor's
      driver tended to take Scott on errands.

      In other words, Scott Summers was a walking time bomb.

      That bomb went off a few weeks after the suspected car
      accident, when Scott took ten kids to the Danger Room and
      two of them ended up in the clinic with broken legs. In both
      cases it was because their leader had been, as Kitty and
      Flea put it while Peter drew on their brand-new casts,
      "spaced out."

      Hank McCoy had been visiting the mansion that day and he
      stayed to help with the injured children. Marie found
      herself drawn to the strange man with the amazing
      vocabulary, and he certainly didn't seem to mind an
      audience. At Marie's suggestion, Hank had tried a transfer
      of powers from Logan to Marie in an attempt to heal the
      broken bones, but Marie could not pass the regeneration
      along the way she had with Scott. No one really understood
      why until Marie mentioned that she had been worried about
      Scott on the flight back from Alkali Lake and had
      inadvertently put her bare hand on the back of his neck.

      "Then that certainly is the key - despite all you have
      learned about controlling your powers, you must have had
      prior contact with the patient before a transfer of power
      will be efficacious." Hank was fairly bubbling at having
      solved the mystery. "Perhaps it might be best to 'inoculate'
      all of the children, as it were, by your touch."

      Even though he was still winded from the transfer, Logan
      stood up straight and fixed Hank with a glare. "That's a
      great idea, Doc, except that everyone Rogue touches, she
      keeps up here." He pointed to her temple.

      Grateful not to have to bring it up herself, Marie sighed as
      Hank processed the information. "Ah, I didn't realize that -
      my apologies for the suggestion."

      "It's a good idea," Marie said weakly, "but there's only so
      much room in there, you know?"

      Hank patted her on the head. "I believe that there is an
      infinite capacity in your mind, my dear. But, to be on the
      safe side, let us endeavor to keep the population under

      Logan rolled his eyes. Marie knew there was only so much of
      Hank's prose he could listen to before he wanted to beat the
      crap out of the guy. Still, he lingered a little by the exam
      table where Marie was resting. "You gonna be okay, kid?" he

      "Yeah, I'm good. Thanks for tryin' this, Logan."

      "I'm sorry it didn't help." He flicked a glance at Hank.
      "Don't let her get up and run around for a while - last
      thing we need is for her to crack her skull open."

      "I wouldn't mind if it'd let all the people out," Marie
      complained. She sat up quickly and put her hands over her
      mouth as if to stuff the words back in. "I didn't mean
      that!" she cried.

      At the first sign of tears Logan was at her side, but Hank
      was faster. The protective coat of blue fur along with his
      medical gloves made him impervious to her deadly skin and he
      held her tightly in his arms. "There, there, child, of
      course you want to be alone in your own mind."

      Through the haze of tears Marie could see Logan standing
      nearby with his hands still outstretched, and for a moment
      his face was unschooled enough that she could read his
      expression even without their mental bond.

      He did love her. Maybe not the same as he loved Jean, but he
      loved her nonetheless, and he was hurt that she sought
      comfort from someone else.

      Then his eyes hardened again and he nodded curtly before
      leaving the lab.

      Marie allowed herself the luxury of being held while she
      cried herself out over Logan, over Scott, over Jean. Over
      everything. Her father used to do that, used to hold her
      while she sobbed. Before. "I'm getting your fur wet," Marie

      "As long as I don't begin smell like a dog, I don't mind,"
      Hank said mildly, patting her cheek.

      That made her laugh, and she sat up again while Hank handed
      her some tissues. She dabbed delicately at the skin under
      her eyes, although she suspected her makeup was a dead loss
      at this point. Hank went into the other room to give pain
      medications to his patients, and to give Marie some privacy.

      She studied her reflection in the mirrored tray that held
      some of the instruments. Not too terrible, although the tip
      of her nose was red and her eyes were swollen. She could go
      to dinner and pass for normal, maybe, with some eye drops
      and foundation. Otherwise, Bobby would hover.


      Marie sighed heavily. Poor guy. Now that the infatuation
      stage was over, Marie found herself strangely uninterested
      in him. He was funny, sure, and smart, but there was an
      essential spark missing. "Maybe I just need a bad boy,"
      Marie murmured.

      "So many young women feel that they do," Hank said mildly.
      His feet, though huge, were padded, and he had an alarming
      tendency to sneak up on people and just start talking.
      "Sometimes the very best women have an urge to try a man
      with a wild side - like an itch they feel they must
      scratch." His eyes twinkled. It wasn't a judgment on her,
      just an observation. "Then, they either find they no longer
      have the itch--"

      "Or they have a big ol' scar."

      Hank's laugh was an infectious bark. "Precisely!"

      Tracing a design on the tray with one finger, Marie tried to
      make her voice sound casual. "Like Jean, with Logan."

      In the reflection she could see Hank's face fall. "Perhaps.
      Although with Jean, it may be symptomatic of another
      underlying pathology altogether."

      Marie scrunched up her face. "Smaller words?"

      "Smaller words, longer paragraphs. Perhaps you would like to
      sit down before we begin." He waited for her to take a seat
      before he perched on the exam stool. A blue, fuzzy
      gentleman. "Jean and I were the first two 'pupils' Charles
      brought here. We were both bright and inquisitive, both
      interested in medicine. But that is where our similarities

      "Because you were interested in developing your powers and
      Jean was more interested in controlling hers?"

      "Thank you for your succinct rendering of the situation,"
      Hank said. "When Ororo and Cyclops came, I freely competed
      with them but Jean always held back. Always kept something
      of herself in reserve. Once in a while we would get a brief
      glimpse into what abilities she truly possessed, but most of
      the time she would be content to pass the salt without
      touching it."

      "She strikes me as having been pretty much content, period,"
      Marie commented.

      "One would think that, judging from all outward appearances.
      She was content to develop her powers a little at a time,
      content to attend medical school while passing for human.
      Content to choose a stable man who could pass for human, as
      well - only with very cool shades."

      She blinked rapidly. "Choose a stable man? She made...a
      choice? Like from among several?"

      Hank lowered his eyes. "Between two," he said softly.

      Of course. She'd heard about this, about how Hank had been
      normal in appearance until just a few years ago, when an
      experiment left him with the additional mutation. He had
      slight control over it, enough to do a shopping trip or an
      interview, but most of the time he was "The Beast."

      "Crap," she whistled. "Is there any man in this whole
      building who isn't in love with Jean Grey?" Then, mortified,
      "Oh, my God, did I say that out loud?"

      She felt guilty when Hank laughed and ruffled her hair. "You
      did, indeed, and thank you for that, else I might have
      become maudlin with the remembrance of things past."

      "That's a book," Marie said, mostly to cover her
      humiliation. "Bobby was reading it. In French, because he
      liked to show off."

      "He's not the only student at this school to have been
      captivated by a pretty face." Hank got up and gathered some
      of his instruments together. "Nor the only man. And, I would
      imagine, the same is true for our young women here. Being a
      mutant can be a...separating experience. We're set apart in
      a small community, and it's only natural that our fancies
      turn to love now and again. There's eros, of course, as in
      the case with Jean and Scott, romantic love. Then there's
      agape, a more familial love, as we see between Jean and the

      "Is that why he's having so much trouble separating Jean
      from the Phoenix?" Marie asked.

      Hank touched her cheek without flinching, something Marie
      appreciated than anything she could imagine. Yes, my dear,
      as much as I love the Professor I must confess that he has a
      blind spot where Jean is concerned. He sees only the best
      parts of her, the purest and noblest essentials. He has
      never delved into the troubled parts of her psyche, never
      encouraged her to bring them to the surface so they could be
      analyzed and understood." He smiled at her. "I can see that
      you are astonished to think of our Professor as anything
      less than perfect. He is assuredly the finest man I have
      ever had the privilege to have encountered. Yet what is he
      but sinew and bone, and a heart just like yours or mine?"

      She needed time to process that thought. She slid down from
      the exam table, keeping her face averted when she asked, "Do
      you think Jean will ever be Jean again?"

      "It would be folly for me to offer an opinion on that. But I
      do know one thing - Jean may not be Jean right now, but
      Scott is most certainly Scott. I believe he would benefit
      greatly from a sympathetic ear. In many ways, I fear for him
      more than for anyone else involved in this contretemps."

      That was all Marie needed to hear. She ran at top speed,
      breathlessly pausing in every room in the mansion until
      finally she realized that Scott would probably be outside.

      She found him under a tree, lying on his back with his arm
      thrown over his eyes. His glasses were on the ground within
      easy reach. She didn't know whether he was awake or asleep,
      so she knelt beside him and put one hand on his arm.

      It happened so fast that she had no time to register what
      was going on. One second she was poking Scott in the arm,
      the next she was lying on the ground and Scott was picking
      leaves out of her hair. She tried to focus her eyes on him.
      "What happened?"

      "I got...startled. I forgot I didn't have on my glasses."

      "You opened your eyes?" Marie looked up and saw the tree was
      denuded of quite a few of its branches. Huh. She seemed to
      be wearing one, more or less, on her head. Huh, again.

      "I don't think it hit you, just grazed you, You're more a
      wood sprite than anything else right now. Hold still." He
      pulled some more leaves out of her hair. "I'm sorry."

      "Don't be, I'm fine," Marie assured him. She really was
      fine, just startled, and she held out her hands. "Give me a
      hand up, I'll walk you back."

      He didn't look as if he wanted to go back, but he smiled
      graciously as he pulled her to her feet. "How are Kitty and

      "Peter's waiting on Kitty hand and foot. She couldn't be
      better, the little princess. And you know the Flea, he'll be
      out of bed in no time."

      Scott's steps slowed. "I shouldn't have let them go in
      there. I should've been more alert."

      "It's hard to be alert when you haven't been sleeping,"
      Marie commented. Scott glared down at her, the effect
      magnified by the reflection from his glasses. "Well, I get
      up in the morning and look for the pecan waffles I got the
      day before, but they're not in the freezer. And since you
      and I are the only people who like 'em..."

      "Maybe I just eat breakfast earlier than you."

      "Maybe you just eat breakfast at three in the morning
      because you can't sleep."

      He snorted. "You're just not going to let that go, are you?"

      "Nope. A man who takes my pecan waffles is just sniffin'
      around for a fight." She felt Scott stiffen alongside her.
      "Sorry, bad choice of person to imitate," she mumbled.

      Then, surprise of surprises, Scott's arm was around her
      shoulders, holding loosely. "Don't be sorry. It's about time
      someone treated me like my glasses are quartz instead of

      By the time she finished laughing, they were back in the
      house. Ororo was standing by the stairs, talking to a couple
      of girls. Her eyes widened when she saw Marie. "What do you
      have growing out of your head? And why?"

      Marie caught sight of herself in the mirror and gasped.
      Scott lowered his head. "My fault. I knocked down a tree
      limb and she was under it. Won't happen again, boss," he

      Ororo smiled. "You're both a mess. Don't come down to dinner
      like that or people will think you've taken up wrestling in
      dirt." She shooed them upstairs.

      Scott's new room was the first on the left and he paused
      with his hand on the doorknob. "You're really okay, then?"

      She nodded. "Some shampoo and a rake and I'm good as new."

      His laughter was a welcome relief. "I don't know whether to
      send you to a hairdresser or a gardener." He leaned forward
      and took another stray piece of greenery from behind her

      "Scott," Marie said softly, indicating the room where Logan
      had stayed, "I can tell that Logan feels terrible about
      this. He feels awful, and guilty."

      "But not guilty enough to stop," Scott said, just as softly.
      He backed into his room and Marie followed as if his warm,
      soft sorrow were lapping at her like an undertow.

      They stood like that for a long time, Scott with his hand in
      Marie's hair as she looked up at him, waiting for something
      she knew would either save them or damn them.

      "You're a girl," Scott whispered at last.

      "I'm glad you noticed."

      His smile was achingly sad. "There's not a sentient being in
      the hemisphere who hasn't noticed. I meant, you're a young

      "I'm eighteen!" she cried indignantly.

      "And I'm twenty-six."

      "And Jean's thirty-four." She hadn't intended it to be mean,
      just a statement of fact. "It's a decade, not a lifetime,
      and I have you in my head and it hurts, Scott, it's fucking
      killing me because I hurt just the way you hurt!"

      He reeled as if from a blow. "I didn't know. I'm sorry."

      "Not your fault," she said, unable to endure both his guilt
      and his sadness. "I'm tired of hurting, that's all."

      "We all are. And I'm tired of being the cause of it." He
      rubbed his temple below the earpiece of his glasses.
      Headaches were a constant reminder that his mutation was
      closer to a curse than a blessing. Jean had once explained
      it to Marie when she'd seen Scott lying down with a wet
      washcloth over his beautiful, deadly eyes.

      Marie put her cool hand on Scott's warm forehead and
      immediately felt a residual stirring of the power she had
      gleaned from Logan. Standing on tiptoe, she tugged at his
      hair and made him bend over enough for her to press her lips
      to his cheek. Only a second lapsed, but she felt a dull
      throbbing behind her eyes just as Scott sighed in
      relaxation. Logan was healing Scott through her. How ironic.

      Immediately, Scott shielded Marie's eyes. "Are you okay?" he
      asked. "Do you need my glasses?"

      "No, I'm fine, it was just for a second." She shook his hand
      off before she could leech any more of his power away, then
      she took it between her gloved hands and pressed it quickly
      to her lips.

      There it was again, the heaviness she always felt when the
      Professor stopped the world around them. Maybe it had
      stopped on its own this time. She didn't know. But Scott was
      staring down at her with a tear streaking its way beneath
      his glasses, and Marie felt a yearning stronger than any she
      had ever known, and when she held her arms up to him it was


      "You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"

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