Title: Chaos Theory
Rating: R for non-graphic sexual situations, disturbing
subject matter, and graphic language.
Universe: XMM, along with "Beast," slightly AU due to
discrepancies between comics and the movie cameo.
Classification: Post-X2. "What if" scenario.
Spoilers: Up through X2
Distribution: XMMF archive.
Others are welcome to link here:
Just let me know where it ends up.
Important notice: Header information that "spoils" fic? Not
for me. I will, however, reiterate that there is "disturbing
subject matter." Please read responsibly.
Disclaimer: The author respectfully acknowledges the
ownership of 20th Century Fox, Marvel Comics, Stan Lee,
Bryan Singer, and about sixty other people who have a far
more legitimate claim to the characters and situations of
the X-Men franchise. This story was written for a good cause
(see end notes) and resulted in no profit of any kind for
the author or her cats. Suing any of us would gain one
nothing but a beaten-up laptop and some hairballs.
Out of the children's suffering came a terrible silence.
They scarcely moved except to go to classes, and even then
they just sat with their textbooks and their assignments and
their confusion. Just three days ago, Dr. Grey had been
among them. There had been laughter to go with their
learning. Now the whole building was wrapped in an eerie
stillness as if the very walls felt Jean's absence.
Marie was grateful for the smooth comfort of Professor
Xavier's voice as he spoke to the children about the
memorial service the following day. She sat in the front
row, with the rest of the students who had been aboard the
Blackbird when Jean died, her head resting on Bobby's
"This is called a memorial service. We will gather to share
our memories and to help one another with the loss of our
Artie raised his hand. "What's the difference between a
funeral and a memorial?" he asked.
"Well, a funeral is usually a service that precedes - that
means 'goes before,'" Xavier clarified, "the burial of the
body. Ms. Munroe has already explained about the force and
energy of the water at Alkali Lake, so most of you will
understand that we...could not recover Dr. Grey's body."
Cyclops put up one hand to shield his face for a moment
before regaining his impossible composure. The beloved Mr.
Summers had been the children's focus, for his silent,
ghostlike presence was a constant reminder of the agony he
was holding at bay. He hadn't eaten, and rumor had it that
he hadn't slept. Any tears he shed for Jean were shed in
private. Even so, there was no doubt in the mind of anyone
who saw his pale, lean face and the minute trembling of his
lips. This was a man in deep mourning.
The other adults were deep in mourning as well. Jubilee had
caught the Professor sobbing over an old book Jean had given
him, and Storm could often be found sitting on the floor
with the smallest children, weeping with them. An old Ally,
Dr. Hank McCoy, was called in to talk with the ones who had
been on the Blackbird. Marie was impressed with the
tremendous compassion Hank showed even though his own
sadness was palpable.
The Beast, as he was known, made suggestions about keeping
the kids who'd witnessed Jean's sacrifice in one place
rather than leaving them spread amongst the dormitories.
Newly minted X-Men Marie and Bobby were given private rooms
on the "adult" floor, while the other boys and girls were
placed nearby. Sure enough, they had all ended up in Marie's
room that first night, huddled together, whispering memories
of Jean Grey and taking comfort in their shared pain.
The only one who showed no emotion was Wolverine. He strode
up and down the hallways with military posture and dry eyes,
and the students hated him for it.
The children shared their anger at Logan with Marie. She
knew what they could not comprehend, that Logan was masking
his inner torment with an outward show of composure. From
the first moments on the jet, when Logan's had been the
unwilling shoulder on which Scott had poured out his agony,
Marie had understood the depth of Logan's anguish. She had
shared enough of his energy to intuit what the others were
missing, Logan's surprisingly deep love for this woman he
had barely known. Marie was painfully aware of the almost
imperceptible flicker of his eyelids and the silken shudder
of steel just beneath his knuckles.
She approached him long after the Professor had called them
all together for his announcement about the service, when
she expected everyone else to be asleep. As she had
expected, Logan stood like a sentry in the hall, an unlit
cigar between his fingers. "You should be in bed," he said
without looking at her.
"I was. But guess who's right below me? Nightcrawler. He's
stuck to the ceiling, sayin' a rosary about every fifteen
minutes. What woke you up?"
"Him." Logan indicated the door at the end of the hallway,
the room Scott had shared with Jean.
Marie cocked her head to one side. Nothing. She frowned. "I
can't hear anything," she said.
Logan leaned against the wall. "I wish I couldn't."
"Why? What's he doing?"
It was the Wolverine she saw when he looked at her with
ferocious, haunted eyes. "He's crying."
Oh. She pressed her lips together tightly.
"From the nightmares. That's why he's not getting much sleep
- he wakes up crying. He's real quiet about it, but I can
still hear him." Logan continued. "Sometimes he cries so
much I can even smell the salt."
That was more than she could endure. Marie's eyes filled in
sympathy. "Poor Scott," she murmured.
"Yeah." Logan put the cigar between his teeth, biting down
hard. "Poor Scott."
Marie slipped her gloved hand through the crook of Logan's
elbow and leaned her cheek carefully against the warm cotton
of his sleeve. Before either of them could say anything
else, Ororo passed them and knocked on the door of Scott's
room. He let her in, glancing briefly at Marie and Logan.
His face was covered in three days' growth of beard and his
glasses could not conceal the dark circles beneath his eyes.
Both Logan and Marie averted their gazes, respecting Scott's
"I wish you could just grieve for her like he does," said
Marie after a few silent moments had gone by. "Except for a
few seconds on the Blackbird I haven't once seen you cry,
His eyes fluttered shut. "It's not my place," he replied
curtly, but Marie could feel the tremor going through his
More than anything, Marie wanted to pull him to her,
consequences and Bobby be damned, and let him cry or put his
fist through a wall or whatever would unbend the
ramrod-straight spine he affected. Logan disentangled her,
leaning over to kiss the top of her head. "You're a good
kid," he murmured, staring at Scott's door as if he could
see through it. "Ask Nightcrawler to pray for you to get
She nodded. "Or, I could grab him by the arm and hold on
until he shuts up and I turn all holy and stuff."
Logan flashed her a tight smile that didn't do anything to
brighten his eyes. He walked softly to his own door and
paused with his hand on the knob. "Night," he murmured.
"G'night." Marie watched Logan go into his room, then
stretched with her arms high above her head. A tight muscle
next to her her shoulder blade relaxed, making her sigh
loudly. For a moment she thought about taking Bobby into her
own room, but suddenly his wasn't the body she wanted next
to hers, after all.
The next morning dawned with a sickly, pale light that did
nothing to change the somber mood at the mansion. After a
breakfast that went cold on their plates, the students and
their teachers gathered in the little chapel where Jean and
Scott had planned to be married.
This should have been a wedding, not a memorial service,
Marie thought as she and Bobby paused at the entrance to a
pew. Jubilee and Kitty, both uncharacteristically quiet,
scooted over to give Bobby more room and to let Marie sit
near the aisle. It wasn't like her grandma's funeral. There
wasn't a body to look at, all wizened and greenish. There
was no casket. Atop the altar was a picture Ororo had taken
of Scott and Jean at the Professor's birthday party a few
weeks ago. So, so happy.
A few weeks ago, Marie thought with a shudder. They were all
so happy that day, throwing confetti and getting little sips
of champagne. John had taken someone else's glass as well as
his own and had nearly set the birthday cake on fire when he
came too close with his lighter. Pyro was gone, now, too.
Not dead, but as good as dead.
He had been Bobby's friend. Marie wished with all her heart
that she could take off her gloves and stroke Bobby's face.
He was sitting next to her, utterly still, setting his jaw
as if determined to live up to his "manhood" by being as
stone-faced as Wolverine.
Logan didn't sit in the front with Scott, the Professor, and
Ororo, but all by himself in the row behind. He looked so
forbidding - covering the pain, Marie reminded herself,
still stinging from his rebuff when she'd tried to take a
seat near him - that no one would have dared take a seat in
his pew. God only knows where he'd scared up the dark suit,
and he must have cut the hell out of himself shaving because
the little marks weren't completely faded.
There were a couple of prayers in Kurt's broken English. A
hymn sung by the youngest children. The one thing they had
all expected, a eulogy from the Professor, didn't take
place. Marie knew that Xavier had loved Jean like a
daughter, that he was closer to her, emotionally, than to
anyone else in the world. She also knew that the strain of
speaking would have been more than he could bear.
It was Scott who got up in the Professor's place. He walked
slowly but with his head held high, shaking off Kurt's
His voice had never been so dark, so devoid of feeling, as
when he said, "Jean was my life." Xavier stiffened in his
wheelchair and Ororo put her hand over her heart. Scott
pulled himself together for a few more sentences. "I was
just a scared kid when I met her - like so many of you. And
like so many of you, she took me under her wing and made me
realize that I wasn't a freak. That I was gifted. But the
greatest gift in my life was Jean." He took a deep,
shuddering breath that went through Marie like a knife. "It
should've been me. I should have crushed enough rock to
divert the waters, I should've blown a hole in the back of
the plane so I could go and get her. But in the end, she was
stronger than I was. And we've lost her because of me."
"Oh, no," she whispered, trying to blink back her tears.
"I was planning to marry Jean in this room. I wanted to see
her dressed in white, I wanted to put a ring on her finger
and kiss her. How can I say goodbye to that dream?" At that
moment, Marie lost all semblance of control. Bobby had to
hold her in her seat as she tried to wriggle away and throw
her arms around her teacher and friend.
Ororo began to get up, but Logan beat her to it and stopped
her with a look. He climbed the stairs as if his body were
filled with lead rather than adamantium. "Scott," he
admonished softly, using Cyclops' birth name for the first
time. "Don't do this."
Scott set the picture down and reached for Logan's hand. For
an instant Marie thought it was a handshake, something
simple and quiet between two men who shared a loss. Then
Scott started to press Logan's hand, his thumbs working up
and down the claw sheaths. "C'mon," he breathed. "Where are
"What the hell?" Logan fought him off, but despite the
sleepless nights and the days without food, Scott was
surprisingly strong and absolutely determined to get Logan's
claws to come out. "Cyclops, stop!"
"I want to be with her!" he cried, twisting Logan's upper
arm so hard that the claws unsheathed after all, probably as
a subconscious response to the pain.
"For the love of God, my friend, do not do this!" Kurt
tugged at Scott's shoulders. "Jean would not want you to
take your own life."
Scott turned around and sent the Nightcrawler flying with
one blow. The delay bought enough time for Logan to sheath
his claws again. Marie winced as she saw him cradle his hand
against his chest. When Scott turned around, Logan grabbed
his forearms and shook him. "Not here, not now. You want to
go crazy, you go to the Danger Room and I'll show you
crazy." As Scott's exhausted body sagged in his arms, Logan
said, "You think I don't understand exactly what you're
feeling right now? Buddy, if I could kill myself, I would."
Marie heard the collective gasp, her own intake of breath
like a knife through the heart.
"It's too hard," Scott whispered against his shoulder. "It's
too hard to go on without her."
"The hardest part of recovering from the death of a loved
one," Xavier said softly from the front pew, "is to go on
"She sacrificed herself for you. For all of us," Logan
added. "We have to honor that. You understand? We have to
honor what she did."
Marie and all the others were completely focused on Scott,
watching as he straightened up, still letting Logan support
him. His glasses glinted as sunlight struck them. "Jean," he
murmured in a terrifyingly calm voice.
"Don't, don't," Logan warned. "You can't lose it here, not
in front of the kids."
Scott just shook his head, a smile creeping across his waxen
"What do I do?" Logan half shouted. "He's hallucinating,
The light in the chapel grew brighter, not the rising of the
sun but some other illumination, something not of this
world. Logan turned around and gasped, then Marie followed
his line of sight.
Oh, holy God, they were all hallucinating.
It was Jean.
Not a bedraggled corpse, not some wraith come to haunt them,
but a fiery, living presence with copper eyes and flowing
red robes that matched her hair. Marie thought she was
losing her mind until Bobby sputtered something
unintelligible as the apparition walked slowly forward.
"Oh, my God," Ororo whispered.
Nightcrawler was on his knees, holding his rosary next to
his heart. Logan still held on to Scott, who extended his
arms and cried out, "Jean! Jean!" He struggled and fought
his way free, racing up the aisle until he stumbled and
landed at Jean's feet.
She leaned over and touched the side of his face. "Scott,"
she murmured in a voice that sounded like a chorus. Her
lover pulled himself up onto his knees and threw his arms
around her, burying his face in the curve of her waist. He
looked up at her as if she were the very light of heaven.
With one hand she absently stroked his hair.
With the other, she gestured to Logan.
He stumbled down the stairs like a man possessed and his
steps faltered as he came closer. Marie leaned out into the
aisle, forcing him to meet her imploring gaze. Why can't I
be a telepath? Don't do this! Logan, don't do this!
He looked at her for an instant, his eyes full of unshed
tears. And madness. He turned back to Jean. "We thought we'd
lost you." Choking on the words.
"You did. But I came back."
"Jean, Jean, welcome home!" Professor Xavier called as he
wheeled himself up to her. Of course. He couldn't see
Logan's face, he didn't know what Marie could see coming a
mile off. Xavier looked so happy. "My dearest girl, I can't
begin to tell you--"
Even as he spoke, Jean was tugging Wolverine's forearm,
pulling him closer until she could reach the back of his
head and drag him in for a kiss. Not sisterly, not
welcoming, but full of untapped desire.
Even through the panicked rush of blood past her ears, Marie
could hear the children gasping aloud. Scott looked up at
Jean. "What are you doing?" he cried, rising unsteadily, too
stunned to pull Logan away, too stunned to do anything but
repeat the question. "Jean, what are you doing?"
She pulled back from her conquest and opened her piercing
eyes, lips swollen and slightly moist. "Living," she
It was Ororo who pulled them all apart. "Jean, you're
exhausted. Let me take you to your room." When Scott rose
shakily to follow them, Ororo shook her head. "Let her rest.
I'll get you when she's ready to see you."
Seemingly obedient, Jean let Ororo lead her away. Scott
slumped to his knees in the middle of the aisle, his mouth
Logan hung his head.
Marie scrambled out of her seat and forced her way through
the crowd until she was at Logan's side. Out of the corner
of her eye she could see Bobby and some of the other boys
dragging Scott to his feet and leading him away. No one
looked at Logan; it was as if he had become invisible. He
was too poleaxed to notice.
She cupped his elbow in her hand. "C'mon," she murmured.
"Let's get out of here."
Logan stood riveted to the spot. "She's alive. Jean's not
dead, she's alive, she's alive."
"I know that, I saw," Marie said, becoming agitated. "Didja
have to let her kiss you like that?" Fortunately, Logan was
too wrapped up in his own thoughts to sense the sudden rise
of jealousy in her voice. She was disgusted enough with
herself, envying Jean for not being dead. "Jesus," she
Behind them, Nightcrawler was finishing yet another Hail
Mary. "It vass a miracle," he said to them in between
prayers. "Gott is truly gracious."
At that moment, Logan snapped back to himself. "Where's
Cyclops?" he asked breathlessly. "Shit, he must be ready to
"Bobby has him. I'm sure they went into the main house."
Logan straightened his shoulders. "Let's go."
Maybe Logan wanted to get his ass kicked, but Marie wasn't
looking forward to this. They made their way through the
excited throng of children to Professor Xavier's private
study. Logan burst through without knocking and Marie peered
around his large frame to see Scott slumped in a high-backed
chair, a glass of something amber dangling precariously from
his shaking fingers. Whatever he was drinking, the Professor
was already pouring another glass for himself and even Bobby
had a splash of it.
This was so screwed up.
"Ah, Marie," Xavier said gently. "It's been quite a day,
She nodded, her mouth suddenly gone dry. "Yes, sir."
The Professor poured another brandy and pushed it toward
Bobby, who handed it to Marie. His hand was shaking, and
when Marie brought the brandy to her lips, it was ice-cold.
But it was worth it for the sting of alcohol, grounding her,
reminding her that this might be impossible but it was
Logan stepped over to Scott. Tentatively, he put one hand on
the other man's shoulder only to have it shaken off with a
grunt of displeasure. "Listen to me."
"Fuck you," Scott slurred.
Not deterred, Logan stood his ground. "I'm glad she came
back to you," he said quietly.
His choked laughter was even more painful than his tears had
been. "You have got to be kidding me."
"She was confused, she wasn't thinking straight, she caught
me off guard," Logan said, ticking each aspect off on his
fingers. "She's alive, man. You gotta accept that gift."
For someone who was malnourished, exhausted, and well on his
way to being drunk, Scott moved with surprising speed. He
leapt out of the chair and threw himself into Logan full-on,
knocking them both against a barrister's case. Marie
shrieked as Logan's shoulder went through the glass,
shedding shirt and flesh.
Of course, Logan could have done any number of things to
stop Scott's attack. Instead he let his opponent rain blows
on him, curse him, flail at him so hard that Scott's glasses
went flying across the room. Scott's flash of energy didn't
last long enough for anyone to attempt an intervention. With
a low, despairing moan he sank to the floor with his back to
the bookcase. "Oh, God," he whispered. He pulled his knees
toward his chest and wrapped his arms around them. His hands
were swollen, the knuckles raw. Marie was pretty sure he had
a broken finger or two. Then her own tears started, and she
couldn't remember a time when she hadn't felt like ten miles
of bad road at the end of the world.
"You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"