FIC: "Brotherly Love: Introductions" PG-13 (4/4)
- See part one for disclaimers, etc...
Jean stepped into the stream of memory in the middle of an argument. Through Alex's eyes, she saw a middle-aged man and woman standing in close proximity to Alex. His memories were not those of a telepath; he could only see others, not himself. The Professor had not yet taught her how to step out of the person whose memory she was investigating. So she watched as it played out.
//// "Why can't I go out?" He didn't understand. Why were they being so anal? It's not like _he_ had blown up the school.
"Your mother and I just don't like the way people are still whispering. I think it would be best if you..."
"If I what? Live the rest of my life like _him_? Like a _freak_?" Jean wanted to cry; she knew exactly about whom Alex was talking, and it burned her heart to hear him condemn the man she loved so wantonly.
"Alex! Keep your voice down, for God's sake!" Jean decided she like Scott's mother. Even if it was only to keep the neighbors from getting an earful, Mrs. Summers was looking out for the feelings of her eldest child.
"Alex, that's no way to talk about your brother."
"He's some kind of..._mutant_! He's one of those freaks on the news!" Alex cried even louder. Jean flinched. He pronounced 'mutant' like it was an insult or a curse instead of a simple distinction. Such prejudices were not uncommon, but they still wounded her. She was proud to be a mutant; it was nothing of which she should be ashamed. That he was talking about Scott only infuriated her further.
"Alex! We don't...we don't know that! It could be something else..." Jean's heart caved in as she listened to Mr. Summers trail off in denial. He didn't want a mutant, he wanted his son, his _normal_ son.
"Aw, Dad! How can you say that? I saw what he did! He destroyed walls with those eyes! Just cause _he_ needs to be locked away doesn't mean _I_ do!" Alex's heart was pumping faster as he got carried away in his memory. Jean detected a secret fear underneath the hatred, a fear that was surprising. Alex, this memory Alex, was afraid that genetic destiny might have something abnormal in store for him, too.
"Alex! You will not talk about your brother that way! Not while I'm around, you won't!" Mrs. Summers looked to be one comment short of smacking her youngest son. Jean cheered for her. Alex backed away from her irritated and wounded figure. "He's my son, and he's your brother. We can't simply treat him like an animal and be done with it. I don't care what the cost is to your social life, young man. How can you be so selfish?" *Bravo, Mrs. Summers!* Jean roared in her mind. Alex's present shame flared, so she quieted her own response to better engage the memory.
In this memory, Alex had lost it. He was scared. Scott, his big brother, the picture of an all-American teenager, was a freak, was inhumanly different. And he didn't know why. Worse than that, everyone was looking at him now, staring at him as if they weren't sure that any of the Summers' kids were _normal_. All this bubbled out in the next speech that she knew Alex would regret saying for the rest of his life.
"Selfish! _I'm_ selfish? What about him? Mom, they all think I'm a freak, too! Everyone keeps _looking_ at me! It's all his fault! Why the hell did he do that? If I don't go out there and prove that I'm normal, no one will ever speak to me again! It's not my fault Scott's a...a...a _mutant_! He's a _mutant freak_! He shouldn't be allowed to ever open his eyes again! What if he hurts someone? Why doesn't he just do us all a favor and go away!?!"
"Alex! I cannot...God..._Scott_..." Jean's heart sank and her stomach lurched as Alex turned towards the stairs. She could see Scott sitting there in the darkness, his eyes squeezed shut. The tears were still escaping those tightly sealed lids. He could not see his brother gaping and choking on his own hateful words. "Wait! Scott! Wait, he didn't mean..." Scott was gone before his mother could finish. ////
"Scott..." Jean whispered as she dove for the welcome sanctuary of her own mind. Alex's eyes were glassy and filled with tears.
"Now you know, Ms. Grey." Jean's heart felt like it was beating against the edge of a blade, and with each heartbeat, the tender flesh was severed just a bit more. Pain for Scott, but also pain for Alex. His regret was severe, and in light of the fact that his words had been made in ignorance, she could almost forgive him. He had not come to the school because he was normal. That meant he now knew the pain his brother felt at being revealed to be different.
*But there's something else...something he isn't saying or letting me see.*
"There's more, isn't there, Alex?" No response. "Tell me, please, or let me see."
"I _can't_, Ms. Grey...it hurts too much. That nearly killed me. What I said...I didn't mean...God," sobs choked Alex's words. She understood; so many people said so many hurtful things without really and truly believing or meaning them. It did not make it okay or right, but fallacy was understandable, even forgivable. Whatever else Alex Summers had done to lose his brother's love and trust, it must have been grievous indeed. She could not leave without at least assuaging some of his pain; the compassionate soul within her would not allow it. The same compassionate soul that the Professor had underestimated wanted to help this man.
"Alex," she soothed his mind with her calm, steady voice. Slowly, he controlled himself and looked into her eyes. "Alex, I have heard worse. So has Scott. So have all the students here. We know that such words are only nonsense born from ignorance and hatred and fear. I know that does nothing to reduce your guilt, but consider the fact that you're here. You must truly wish for an absolution of your words and thoughts, but you have to do more than wish for it."
"Alex, you have to want to be forgiven, and you must want forgiveness for selfless reasons. If you've come here for forgiveness simply because you are a mutant as well, then I suggest you leave." Alex started at her cold words, but Jean pressed on. "If you want Scott to forgive you, if you want any of us to forgive you for what you've done, you must want to be forgiven because you were _wrong_ and because you _hurt_ people. You _hurt_ Scott." Alex looked like she had slapped him when she said 'hurt.' She filed it away.
"I have to want..." He trailed off.
"Yes, you must be willing to admit that you wwere wrong, and that, even if you were not a mutant, that you would still have been wrong. Can you do that? Are you brave enough?"
"I...will try." That was no more than she could demand of him.
"Goodnight, Alex." Jean turned on her heel and closed the door as she left.
"That was some tough love there, darlin'." She jumped as Logan spoke from the darkness in the hall. The glowing end of his cigar butt being lit allowed her to locate him in the blackness. "Ya done good, Red." Jean's chin went up proudly.
"I know, Logan."
"I guess you know why the Professor didn't tell ya like he did 'Ro and me." Jean sighed and nodded. All day, she had had to put up with Ororo bringing down the heavens on them, Logan prowling like a savage beast, and Scott flatly refusing to talk or communicate at all. And all day she had tried to convince the Professor tell her what he told her teammates that had set them off. Jean could never have forced the Professor to tell her, his power dwarfed her own.
Now that she knew, she was forced to wonder if her exhaustion was not the better alternative. Exhaustion in ignorance seemed like heaven compared to the sorrow in her knowledgeable heart. Logan smelled her pain; it was a fragrant odor that made his heart twist for her.
"Go see him, Jeannie." With one long, pained look, Jean stepped farther away from the man who had ruined their peace and a step closer to the man she loved. All she wanted was to comfort him, to be with him, and to pray that she could cheer him and bring back the man she loved from his cold fury.
*I will try.*