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FIC: Changing Everything Carefully (Returning Spring 5/10)

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  • Mo
    Changing Everything Carefully (Returning Spring 5/10) I started by talking with ‘Ro. I wanted to begin with Scott, but it didn’t seem like a good idea
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19 4:45 AM
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      Changing Everything Carefully (Returning Spring 5/10)

      I started by talking with �Ro. I wanted to begin with
      Scott, but it didn�t seem like a good idea until I�d
      paved the way more. It just about broke my heart to
      see how he looked at me any time we were together.
      Well, of course, I couldn�t actually see how he looked
      at me. Through a glass darkly was still the only way
      he could see. But I could see him avoiding me
      whenever he could and when he couldn�t avoid looking
      my way, I could feel some of what he was feeling.
      Scott was keeping his mental shields up all the time
      now, but strong emotions leaked through. His feelings
      when he looked at me were very strong � a mixture of
      hostile mistrust and confusion.

      Occasionally I�d catch a whiff of guilt, too. I
      wasn�t sure what that was about. Maybe this thing
      with Logan. I wish I knew what to make of that. Was
      it a diversion, just a physical thing, or something
      more serious? And not that it really matters who it
      is, but I have to admit it bugs me a bit that it�s
      Logan he chose. Why did it have to be someone who had
      been interested in me? Well, interested in the person
      I was, the Jean Scott loved and lost. Did Scott�s
      interest in Logan have something to do with trying to
      get over that loss? Was it connected to his mistrust
      towards me? Was he trying to keep Logan away from me?
      And just what was Logan getting out of this? I tried
      to penetrate Scott�s shields, just a little, to
      understand better what he was feeling and thinking. I
      knew if I tried hard enough he�d realize what I was
      doing, but I thought if I could just sneak in, well,
      no harm done. No go. I don�t think I ever remember
      him being so defended.

      So, I knew I had an uphill battle convincing them all,
      but Scott would be the hardest. Even �Ro, who had
      welcomed me with open arms and without reservations,
      was starting to question, so I thought I should work
      on reassuring her. I don�t think she knew I was
      picking up her doubts, and she certainly was still
      behaving towards me as a true and loyal friend, but
      behind the warm smile and calm demeanor was a mind
      full of questions and contradictory feelings. She
      wasn�t doubtful enough to put her shields up, so I
      could clearly hear the questions in her mind. She�d
      watch me interacting with Scott or Charles or Logan
      and think �Jean doesn�t sound like herself.�

      That wasn�t all doubt. It was partly sympathy for me,
      partly concern for what she saw as changes in my
      personality. But in the back of her mind was a
      growing sense that maybe I didn�t sound like myself
      because I was really someone else. I didn�t want her
      thinking that. It was bad enough that Scott already
      did. I was counting on �Ro to help me convince him.
      So I needed to do a little convincing of her to make
      that work.

      I didn�t tell �Ro I knew what she was thinking. I
      didn�t want to embarrass her or make her feel like I
      was invading her privacy. If I had done that, she
      might have put up her shields, too, and I felt it was
      important to know what she was thinking. Still,
      without letting on that I had heard her doubts, I
      tried to reassure her whenever I could and however I
      could. I did it mostly by talking about how I didn�t
      feel like myself, didn�t feel back to normal yet. I
      told her that I was hoping that familiar surroundings
      and a loving community were all the healing help I
      needed, but that I wasn�t sure.

      �Work is the best therapy,� I told �Ro one afternoon,
      as I helped her in the vegetable garden. On our
      knees, weeding. The calendar said it was the tail end
      of winter but a warm March sun and a gentle breeze
      felt like spring.

      �Suffer them now and they�ll outgrow the garden,�
      she�d said, enticing me to join her. I told her she
      sounded like Scott, always quoting Shakespeare.

      �That�s one reason why I want to get involved in the
      MPP and other projects,� I told her, pulling a
      particularly persistent weed. �It will help me
      recover. I�m not doing enough here.�

      �You�re planning to talk to Charles about that, aren�t
      you? I�m sure there�s plenty for you to do.�

      �Yes, I have an appointment with him for later today.
      I think I can do more in the Medical Department, for a
      start.�

      �You�ve been so gracious about Hank becoming Medical
      Director while you were... gone, Jean. I�m sure you
      can work something out with Charles and Hank. Nobody
      wants to supplant you.� She paused and added, �And
      when you�re ready, maybe you can work at the clinic in
      Yonkers again.�

      �Yes, I want to, although I�m not sure how to pave the
      way, you know? Charles told them I died. I hear the
      staff there were all at the memorial service. I don�t
      want to just show up there unannounced. I realize now
      it was a bad idea to do that here.�

      �Talk to Charles. He can explain to them. If you
      want to go back, that is.�

      �I do. I want to do whatever I can to be useful.
      It�s when I feel most... normal or something, when I�m
      working. Still, I don�t know if it�s enough. I�m
      wondering if I could benefit from some counseling.�

      �I think it�s a good idea,� she answered, looking at
      me. �You�ve been through a most difficult time.
      We�ll do all we can for you, but perhaps a
      professional therapist can help you make sense of it
      in ways you can�t on your own and offer support and
      expertise that we just don�t have.�

      I sighed. �I know I should but the whole idea just
      seems so overwhelming. Finding a mutant-friendly
      therapist, and then having to tell my whole life
      story. I haven�t done that for so long. And the
      thing about life-stories is they keep getting longer
      and more complicated as time goes on.�

      She laughed at that. �I know what you mean. It could
      take a few 50-minute hours just to explain the X-Men.�

      �It feels daunting. I�m a doctor and a teacher and a
      mutant superhero � talk about trying to have it all.�
      She chuckled at that, too. �So, we�ll start off with
      the therapist thinking I�ve got all the typical
      problems of a childless 33-year-old woman, magnified.
      And then on top of all the career stuff, I�ve got to
      tell him about Scott and me. I know an awful lot of
      people will think a marriage to someone like him is
      just doomed. It�s not the kind of relationship that
      many people can understand, and it�s not easy to
      explain how it really works for us. Worked anyway,
      and I hope will again. I hope we�ll be able to get
      married. And then once I go through all that I have
      to explain about Logan, too.� I paused a minute to
      see if she�d ask what I meant, but she didn�t, so I
      went on. �Then I�d need to tell him about the mission
      to find Kurt and the whole siege on the school and the
      battle against Stryker. All that before I get to what
      I really need to talk about.� I could feel tears well
      up in my eyes and my voice begin to crack.

      Storm put down her tools. She touched my arm as I
      continued. �Deciding that the only way to save
      everybody else was to die there, thinking that was the
      end for me. And then finding out I wasn�t going to
      die � at least not just yet � but living as a
      prisoner. What they did to me. What it did to me to
      be so alone, so frightened, so totally devoid of hope.
      All the times I wished I could die, wished it were
      just over. How terrified I was to try to hope that
      I�d ever get back here. How I truly believed that
      everything would be okay if only I could go home. And
      then coming home and wondering if Thomas Wolfe was
      right.�

      �Do you think you could go back to Dr. Leeds?� she
      asked, then answered her own question. �No, he�s too
      far away, I guess.�

      The sobs overtook me and �Ro put her arms around me,
      saying I didn�t have to talk about it anymore if I
      didn�t want to. �I do want to talk. I don�t want to
      burden you, though.�

      �You�re not burdening me. I�m your friend, Jean. You
      can talk to me any time.�

      �I appreciate that, really I do.� I paused, swallowed
      hard, and tried to pull myself together. �You�ve been
      great, �Ro, really. Everybody has. But I feel so...
      defensive sometimes, so short-tempered, so afraid of
      rejection. I know how hard it was for everyone when I
      came back, how it must have felt like I was a ghost or
      something. I realize I made mistakes now. But I was
      so excited to be free and I guess I was just expecting
      that everyone would be thrilled to have me back.� I
      worked to get the bitterness out of my voice. �So it
      was such a let down. And I think it makes me too
      pushy or something and that just drives people away.
      It�s like a vicious circle or something. I can�t talk
      to Scott; I can barely talk to Charles and Hank.
      Sometimes, �Ro, I think you�re the only one who really
      listens to me, who really believes me and believes in
      me. Sometimes I don�t even believe in myself.� I
      felt her doubts slipping away, but I thought it best
      to cry a little longer, just to be sure.

      ***********************************
      �Dr. Jean Grey.�

      �Oh! Wrong number.�

      �Logan?�

      �Yeah. Sorry, I guess I dialed the wrong extension.
      I was trying to reach Scott.�

      �No, you dialed the right number. I�m in his office.�

      �Oh. Well, tell him to call me back when he�s free.�

      �Actually he�s not here. He�s out on a mission.�

      �What�re you doing in his office?�

      �Just looking over some of his class notes. In case I
      need to sub for him.�

      �How long is he gonna be gone?�

      �I�m not sure. Charles thought it would just be a few
      hours.�

      �So why do you need to sub?�

      �I just thought I should be prepared, in case the
      mission lasts longer. I know you�re new to this,
      Logan. But we often have missions that start off as
      just a few hours and become much more complicated.
      Stick around for a while, and you�ll see.�

      �I�ll call him tomorrow.�

      �I�ll tell Scott you called. I�ll see him as soon as
      he gets back... I�m sure he�s eager to hear how
      things are going with the MPP. How�s your security
      review coming along? Will you be home soon? I really
      want to see you, to talk to you.�

      �Just tell Scott I called.�

      *************************************************
      When two telepaths talk, usually the conversation is
      multi-layered and complex. There�s the spoken
      conversation, but it�s punctuated and enhanced by
      telepathy. The words are only one little part of
      what�s conveyed, with thoughts and emotions adding
      texture and meaning to make something that�s greater
      than the sum of the parts. When you�re accustomed to
      that kind of conversation, a speech-only one feels
      flat.

      Charles Xavier and I were having a flat conversation.
      And a formal one. He was seated behind his big wooden
      desk, not in front of the fireplace with the
      comfortable seating area. I was on the other side of
      that large, heavy barrier. Even discounting the lack
      of telepathy, he wasn�t speaking to me like someone
      he�d known for close to two decades, someone he�d
      guided and taught. And loved. He was talking in a
      friendly, helpful way, but as one would to a stranger.
      He was also studiously avoiding saying my name.

      �I�m glad we have this opportunity to talk,� he said.
      �I was pleased to hear you say you feel ready to take
      on more work.�

      �I really want to, Charles,� I replied, trying to
      convey my enthusiasm through tone and reflecting again
      on how inferior speech is to telepathy. Still, we
      both had our reasons for keeping our mental shields in
      place. �I�m helping Hank out as much as he needs, and
      I�m always happy to sub when teachers are away. But I
      feel like a bit of a fifth wheel or something. The
      X-Men seem to be sufficient unto themselves, without
      me, like you filled in the hole or something. I
      feel... superfluous, I guess.� I paused, hoping he
      would reassure me that I was needed, but when he
      didn�t say anything I continued. �So that�s why I
      thought this MPP project would be a good fit. It�s
      new, and you�re still working on staffing it. I
      thought my skills and my powers could be helpful. I
      felt left out, and left out of something I could make
      a contribution to. I am sorry I barged into the
      meeting, though. That wasn�t the way to make my
      point.�

      �That�s okay. You�ve made your point now and we can
      forget the other time. I do think you have something
      to offer the project. I�d like for you to go up to
      Vermont. You can meet with the Alpha Flight
      representatives and the FBI and try to figure out what
      the best way for you to contribute is. Northstar and
      Sasquatch are there now. You remember them from joint
      Alpha Flight/X-Men missions, don�t you?�

      �Yes, of course,� I answered, worried a little that I
      said it too quickly. �And Logan�s there, too, right?�

      �Yes, but he�ll be returning before you go up.�

      �Oh. How come?�

      �We�re trying to provide the X-Men staffing contingent
      on a rotating basis. Once Logan has the security
      review complete and the work on fortifications has
      begun, I�ll need him back here. You can help with
      some of the security renovations, I imagine.
      Telekinesis is helpful in that sort of situation. And
      your telekinetic powers are much stronger lately,
      aren�t they?� He asked it in his usual calm and open
      manner, but somehow I felt there was a note of
      suspicion in the question.

      �Yes,� I answered. �Remarkably so. I used to be able
      to only lift items telekinetically that I could lift
      with my hands, but now... I find I can lift objects
      that weigh thousands of pounds.�

      �Yes, I heard you had lifted one of the cars in the
      garage yesterday.�

      �Ah, Bobby must have told you. Yes, he seemed
      surprised when he walked in and I had a car over my
      head.�

      �What exactly were you doing with it? Bobby seemed to
      think you were doing some... repairs or something.�

      �No, not really. Just seeing how much I remembered of
      what Scott had taught me about auto mechanics.� I
      smiled, and added, �Without getting myself all dirty,
      rolling under the car.�

      �I see. Well, I don�t know that there will be any
      need to lift cars up in Vermont, but I imagine ability
      to lift heavy equipment could come in handy during the
      security renovations. Jean-Paul will be directing the
      work and I�m sure he can make good use of your
      powers.�

      �So maybe I should go up before Logan comes back, and
      he can show me what has been done and what work is
      still in progress?�

      �I think Jean-Paul can handle the transition. We�ll
      plan on you going next Wednesday, after Logan�s
      return. I may want you to escort a family up there �
      new participants in the program. If so, I�ll send
      Storm with you. It all depends on whether they are
      ready to embark on their journey of new identity yet.
      I think it will be helpful to have on site medical
      staff, too. Ethan has certainly been a help, of
      course.�

      �Ethan?�

      �Ethan Leeds. You knew he was up there, didn�t you?
      He�s in Bellows Falls.�

      �Yes, of course. I just forgot.�

      �He�s an essential member of the MPP team, offering
      psychiatric services to our MPP participants and also
      doing a physical exam and evaluation and making
      referrals as needed. But Ethan never practiced
      general medicine and it would be a good idea to have a
      physician involved other than him.� He hesitated.
      �You also might benefit from consulting with him
      yourself. You�ve been through a great deal of trauma
      and change. We discussed therapeutic support for you
      when you first... returned, but you said you weren�t
      ready yet. What do you think about that now?
      Certainly you couldn�t do better than Ethan.�

      �Oh I don�t know.� I was not eager to go into therapy
      and explained - as I had to �Ro � how daunting the
      prospect of telling my whole life story would be.

      �But that�s why I�m suggesting Ethan. You wouldn�t
      have to start from scratch with him. And he�d be so
      happy to see you. Again.� The last word hung in the
      air.










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