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FIC: He Who Hesitates (Summers in a Sea of Glory, 1/10)

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  • Mo
    I was going to tell Jean. There was never any question about that. Not in my mind, anyway. And there shouldn’t have been any in Logan’s, either. I’d
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2006
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      I was going to tell Jean. There was never any
      question about that. Not in my mind, anyway. And
      there shouldn’t have been any in Logan’s, either. I’d
      told him – long before anything had happened between
      him and me – that Jean and I didn’t keep secrets from
      each other. I would have told her about Logan even if
      he and I had just been fuck buddies. Which, of
      course, was all we had been when this whole thing
      started.

      Now it feels like we have – or at least had –
      something more than that. I’d told Logan I was in
      love with him and I’d meant it. I’d believed him when
      he told me he felt the same. My feelings haven’t
      changed. I don’t know if his have, although I worry
      that he’s cooled towards me. We haven’t spoken about
      it since Vermont.

      We haven’t spoken much at all, Logan and I. He’s
      avoiding me, it’s clear. He hasn’t said a private
      word to me since we got back.

      Well, maybe I’m avoiding him, too. Or at least I’m
      accepting his avoidance of me. I certainly haven’t
      sought him out.

      I should talk to Logan. I want to talk to him. I
      just don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know how
      to explain how I feel about Jean. I’m not in love
      with her, that I’m sure of. Still, l feel responsible
      for her well-being, at least until she’s back on her
      feet, in all senses.

      I want Logan to understand that. I want him to know
      that what happened with Jean doesn’t affect how I feel
      about him. I still want what we both said we wanted
      together – love and sex and facing the world as a team
      of two. An army of lovers can conquer the world.
      That’s how I had been thinking of Logan and me - a
      warrior/lover pair, like in the Theban Band. I don’t
      think I’ve ever been happier than I was when he told
      me that’s what he wanted, too.

      We’d thought Jean was dead at the time, thought that
      we’d had an imposter in our midst. Maybe that’s what
      it took to really open our minds to the possibility.
      At least I think that was what it took for me, as
      defended as I was against loving another man.

      It’s been a long time since I’d even considered the
      possibility. I’d come out the first time when I was
      fifteen, but once Jean and I were together I’d settled
      into this half-closeted state. I’m not one of those
      fundie crazies who try to go straight, even if it
      looks like that on the surface – gay through my teens
      and then at age twenty I get involved with a woman.
      It wasn’t because of some religious conversion, and I
      didn’t think of myself as an “ex-gay man.” I mostly
      just didn’t think about my sexuality at all.

      Jean and I had gone through so much together, shared
      so much. We loved each other and although we’d kind
      of fallen into the relationship, it felt to both of us
      like it was worth working on. I’d had sex with a lot
      of guys, but I’d never had the kind of closeness I had
      with Jean, and I didn’t want to risk what we had.
      “That way madness lies, let me shun that.” I knew
      that if I had sex with a man it would damage what Jean
      and I had, and our relationship was very important to
      me. Love was something I shared with Jean, not anyone
      else. That’s how it was until she died. Well, until
      I thought she was dead.

      I was so sure that this woman who showed up was
      someone else, someone who inexplicably looked like the
      woman I’d loved and lost. We’d since found out
      otherwise, now knew that Jean had been invaded or
      possessed. Whatever had taken over her body and her
      mind was gone now. Jean was back, really back this
      time.

      That didn’t change anything. Not for me, not for how
      I felt about Logan. I’ll always care about Jean, I’m
      sure. We’ve been friends since we were kids and we
      were lovers for years. We’d planned on marriage. I
      feel a great warmth and fondness towards her. In some
      sense I’ll always love her, but I’d known for some
      time that I wasn’t in love with her anymore.

      I knew I wasn’t going to try to live a straight life
      again. That’s a decision I’d made over a year ago and
      one I’ve never wavered on. It had taken me some time
      to clearly understand that the relationship Jean and I
      had tried to build was a mistake, but I did understand
      it now.

      It never would have worked, I realized. I hadn’t been
      true to my nature. Now that I was in love with a man,
      I’d learned something essential that had always eluded
      me before. Now I understood that deep love and
      intense desire could have the same object, and it was
      a life-changing realization. It was very clear to me
      that there was never going to be anything but
      friendship between Jean and me. This was information
      Jean had a right to know and I was definitely going to
      tell her.

      Still, it was something I needed to do carefully, not
      just blurt out. Jean was in no condition to hear news
      like that without some preparation. Logan should have
      understood that. He knew what had happened to her.
      Well, as much as any of us knew, which wasn’t a whole
      lot.

      I’d called Charles as soon as I could, as soon as we
      were sure that *thing* was truly gone from Jean. As
      soon as we’d established that the inhabitants of the
      Vermont house it hadn’t killed were safe and well, as
      soon as I was sure the house was secure. I’d
      explained to Charles what had happened to Jean and
      told him about the deaths of the FBI agents assigned
      there. I don’t know what he’d told the G-Men’s
      superiors, but he assured me that Jean would not be
      arrested for their deaths. Then he and Hank joined us
      in Vermont, to run interference with the FBI as
      needed, as well as to try to get a better sense of
      what had gone on there and to formulate a plan for
      what to do next.

      Two more grim-faced FBI agents showed up shortly after
      Hank and Charles, looking almost exactly like the ones
      who had died. They interviewed us all and took
      extensive notes. Neither of them betrayed any
      emotion, even when Logan and I described finding their
      colleagues dead, hearts pulled from their chests and
      placed neatly on the hall table. Logan and I
      exchanged glances while they muttered about satanic
      cults and ritual murder, but didn’t try to correct
      them.

      The G-Men left with the bodies of their fellow agents,
      and no local law enforcement showed up. I checked
      local newspapers as long as we were in Vermont, and
      nothing about two gruesome deaths interrupted the
      articles about school funding and ski tourism.

      We stayed on for a few more days, in order to look for
      clues as to what it was that had taken over Jean’s
      body, and in order to interview our Alpha Flight reps
      and Cassandra, our Mutant Protection Plan resident.
      They were the people who had been on the spot and knew
      best what had happened. Logan and I had come into it
      too late to have the whole picture. Both Sasquatch
      and Cassandra had been attacked by “Jean” and we hoped
      we could find out more from them about the being that
      had invaded her.

      It quickly became clear that Sasquatch would be no
      help to the investigation. We’d found him
      unconscious, but without a mark on him. He awoke a
      couple of hours after Jean became herself again, but
      with no memory of anything that had happened that day.


      His memories before jibed with the rest of ours, but
      added nothing. He’d noticed a difference in “Jean”
      from when he’d first arrived in Vermont to work with
      her. She had seemed changed, unlike the woman he’d
      known for years. He and Northstar had compared notes,
      speculating that she might be an imposter, a
      shape-shifter taking Jean’s form. That she was Jean
      but possessed by some inhuman entity had never entered
      their minds.

      By contrast, Cassandra’s memories were clear and
      complete. She was able to tell us exactly what she’d
      experienced. Her mutant power for predicting
      catastrophe had warned her that she’d be attacked by
      Jean. As soon as she had the vision, she’d tried to
      escape, planning to return to Westchester. Jean had
      tried to stop her and Cassandra had taken refuge in
      the panic room. We’d had to coax her out of there
      afterwards. It took some doing to convince her that
      Jean hadn’t really been the one who attacked her, and
      was no threat to her now.

      After we’d learned everything we could on site, we
      returned to Westchester. We brought Cassandra with
      us, and also Ethan Leeds. Charles had asked him to
      take a few days off to join us. We needed his
      expertise and his established therapeutic
      relationships with both Cassandra and Jean.

      Hank examined Jean carefully and did pretty much every
      test modern medicine had available to assess her
      physical and mental state. Charles examined her
      telepathically, and assessed her mutant powers with
      Cerebro. Ethan Leeds interviewed her at length,
      bringing his professional expertise, his experience
      with mutant psychology, and his long professional
      relationship with Jean to the table.

      The three of them were a formidable team. If anyone
      had been able to figure out what had happened to her,
      it would have been that trio. Still, with all the
      expertise, intelligence, and mutant power brought to
      bear, we weren’t clear on just what had invaded her
      body or what that being had done to her. We were
      referring to the invader as “the Phoenix” – a
      reference to the fiery, bird-like shape that seemed to
      be coming out of her body when Jean became Jean again.
      But giving it a name wasn’t getting us any closer to
      figuring out who or what it was.

      As far as they could tell, Jean seemed physically
      unaffected by more than a year of having her body and
      mind under Phoenix control. It also seemed that it
      hadn’t diminished her mutant powers at all. If
      anything, it seemed to have intensified them. Her
      telekinetic ability was exponentially stronger than it
      had been. And Charles said her telepathy was now so
      strong it was rivaling his. It wasn’t clear how that
      had happened. Had possession by the Phoenix had an
      intensifying effect on her gifts? Or was it a natural
      progression that had just coincidentally happened at
      the same time as the possession? I tended to think
      the latter.

      Ever since we’d fought Magneto at Liberty Island
      Jean’s powers had seemed to be growing by leaps and
      bounds – growing faster than her ability to control
      them at first. I remembered the bed shaking while she
      dreamed, objects flying when she was frustrated or
      unhappy. She had told me nothing was wrong, but it
      was clear that something had changed in her. It
      seemed that her telekinetic gift was growing and
      developing almost as if she had just come into her
      powers. She was exhibiting the same lack of control
      our students often experience during that period of
      change. During more than a year of Phoenix
      possession, perhaps her telekinetic ability had
      continued to grow, and to stabilize, so that she was
      now in better control, now that she had her body back.


      So, physically Jean was perfectly well, surprisingly
      so. And her powers were stronger than ever. Still,
      that didn’t mean she was emotionally healthy. It
      didn’t mean she was ready to take what was bound to be
      hard news without some preparation.

      Psychologically – well, it would take time to know
      just how badly hurt she was, but she had clearly been
      traumatized by the experience. Ethan reported that
      she was suffering from acute anxiety – trouble
      sleeping, having panic attacks, nightmares when she
      did manage to sleep. And the way she had clung to me,
      shaking, when the Phoenix finally left her body didn’t
      leave me thinking that it was a good time to tell her
      I had a new lover. A man. A man she’d thought had
      been in love with her, thought I’d been jealous of.

      Jean certainly knew something was up. In Vermont
      she’d been assigned a room by herself. She’d looked
      at me questioningly when Walter said he’d show her
      which room was hers, but said nothing. When we
      returned to Westchester, she asked Ororo where she was
      staying, not looking at me. ‘Ro took her to the room
      that she’d lived in – under Phoenix possession – for
      the last several months. All of her things were
      already there. She had no need to come back to our
      room, and didn’t. I wasn’t finding myself alone with
      her. If I’d wanted to explain about Logan and me –
      and I really didn’t think it was a good idea to do so
      yet – I’d have needed to ask to speak to her
      privately.

      She didn’t spend much time with me, in general. I saw
      her at faculty meetings, in the dining hall, at team
      meetings. She didn’t sit with me and she didn’t look
      at me.

      It wasn’t to me to whom she turned to find out what
      had happened while she’d been possessed. She gave an
      overview of her experiences of the past year at the
      first team meeting after her return. Or more
      accurately, her non-experiences. “It feels like I
      fell asleep at Alkali Lake and woke up the next
      morning in Vermont,” she said. “I know over a year
      went by, but I only know it intellectually. I have
      some moments of memory – at Xavier’s and in Vermont –
      but it’s like little bits of a dream. Incomplete,
      hazy, only barely remembered. I’ll look to you,” she
      added, turning from me and towards Charles and ‘Ro,
      “to fill me in on what I did during the time after I
      came home.” She shrugged. “I hope none of you will
      hold me responsible for my actions.”

      Everyone quickly assured her that she was in no way
      responsible for her Phoenix-controlled behavior.
      Charles added, “We’ll do our best to fill you in on
      what happened while you were with us, Jean. It’s also
      possible that Ethan and I can help you fill in some of
      the time before you showed up here.”

      “How could you? I’ve really tried to remember. I
      know that may well be the key to finding the Phoenix,
      or at least figuring out what its intentions were.
      But there’s nothing there, no matter how hard I try.”

      Dr. Leeds weighed in. “It’s possible there is
      something there, some memories, but they’re not
      accessible to you. Maybe the experiences were too
      traumatic to remember. Maybe the Phoenix has walled
      off the memories, hidden them from your conscious
      self. Maybe both are operating. I think that with a
      combination of hypnosis and telepathy, Charles and I
      may be able to help you recover them.” He paused, as
      if unsure whether to continue. “It wouldn’t likely be
      a pleasant process. Ultimately I think you’ll find
      that the more you know, the better off you are in the
      long run. Still, revisiting trauma is never easy, and
      can often be re-traumatizing.”

      “I want to do whatever I can to get answers,” she’d
      replied without hesitation, “for all of our sakes.”
      She smiled weakly. “I’ll count on you to pick up the
      pieces, if necessary, Ethan.” As always, I admired
      her courage, persistence, and commitment to the team.

      I tried to talk to Jean after the meeting, following
      her to her office. I began by expressing my
      admiration for her fortitude and telling her I wanted
      to do what I could to help her. I told her to let me
      know when she felt ready to rejoin the team, but that
      she shouldn’t feel under pressure to do so right away.

      She didn’t say anything for a long time. When she
      spoke, it wasn’t in response to what I said. “It’s
      over, isn’t it?” she asked.

      I nodded. “I’m sorry.”

      She shrugged, smiling sadly. “Nothing to be sorry
      about. We always knew it was a long shot.”

      “Jean, I’ll always –”

      “Don’t, Scott. Don’t finish that sentence. I don’t
      think I can take hearing that right now. Maybe some
      day.” She turned her head away. “I think I need to
      be alone now.”

      How could I have told her then?


      Mo
      Mofic Website: http://mo.fandomnation.com/fic/
      www.livejournal.com/users/mofic

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