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FIC: "Chaos Theory" (1a/3, Ensemble, Marie POV)

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  • Marguerite
    Title: Chaos Theory Author: Marguerite E-Mail: marguerite@swbell.net Rating: R for non-graphic sexual situations, disturbing subject matter, and graphic
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2004
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      Title: Chaos Theory
      Author: Marguerite
      E-Mail: marguerite@...
      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:
      http://4dw.net/marguerite/chaostheory.html
      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.

      ***

      CHAOS THEORY

      ***

      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
      shoulder.

      "This is called a memorial service. We will gather to share
      our memories and to help one another with the loss of our
      dear friend."

      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
      privacy.

      "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,
      Logan."

      His eyes fluttered shut. "It's not my place," he replied
      curtly, but Marie could feel the tremor going through his
      body.

      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
      some sleep."

      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
      proffered hand.

      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
      they?"

      "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
      living."

      "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
      features. "Jean."

      "What do I do?" Logan half shouted. "He's hallucinating,
      he's--"

      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
      replied.

      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
      open wide.

      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
      muttered.

      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
      kill me."

      "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,
      hasn't it?"

      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
      certainly real.

      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"

      http://4dw.net/marguerite
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