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FIC: "The Box Room" 1/1 [R] {J, L/J, S/J, A/U}

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  • bishclone
    Title: The Box Room Author: Kat Part: 1/1 Rating: R Coding: Jean, Logan/Jean, Scott/Jean, A/U, Movieverse. E mail: Bishclone@ntlworld.com Summary: An A/U tale.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30 10:55 AM
      Title: The Box Room
      Author: Kat
      Part: 1/1
      Rating: R
      Coding: Jean, Logan/Jean, Scott/Jean, A/U, Movieverse.
      E mail: Bishclone@...
      Summary: An A/U tale.  Jean POV (mostly.)  What might have happened had the movie not ended so nicely.
      Archives: Want. Take. Have.  Kielle's archive and the rest.
      Feedback: Yes. Please. I don't bruise easy. Bad or Good.
      Dedication: Spyke Raven, she of the cool epics.  Naomi, for being a damn good beta reader for "November Dawn" that is proving a nightmare to edit.
      Author's Notes: Everything in {brackets} should be in italics and denotes a flashback.
      They kept her in a box room.  A box room in New Haven.
      Once a week she was visited by a priest and a woman who nobody ever quite 'caught' the name of.  It was Spanish, this name, and rushed whenever she was asked to give it.  And it was obvious this woman hadn't-been-born-in-the-states and geez, weren't there more and more of them now, and didn't these nurses despair...
      The box room, which was nice enough, had a good view of the teaching grounds, and more importantly the young doctors who traversed them daily.  She liked to watch them, imagine what their lives must be like, imagine what was out there, beyond the box room, and New Haven, and the faint imprint of New York that she was sure she could see if she squinted.
      They fed her food that had no discernible shape.  They told her she was pretty when she was no such thing.  They took her out of her room to shit and for tests and to tell her, sternly, almost matronly, that all the other patients were having a good time being braindead on the ward, and why the fuck did she have to be so different and be braindead in her own little box room...
      Or something else that the woman with the low and thick Brooklyn accent used to bark at her as she was wheeled to the elevator.
      She got an elevator ride on Tuesdays and Thursdays and one Sunday, that she remembered distantly, when some terrorist faction (that probably had all the good reasons Jean could list to blast New Haven from the Earth) had said they'd infected the water with some ultra-new, ultra-bought-from-China, ultra-lethal poison and that everyone would -like- die if they didn't free some people in Outer Mongolia.
      To Jean's immense dissatisfaction, it had been a hoax and a lousy hoax at that, changing one thing, and one thing only from Jean's daily routine: she now drank her water with an unhealthy ferociousness, in the vain hope that this was the one cubit of water they got around to poisoning.  It never was, and so her days tumbled on.
      The calendar in the box room still read October 2010, but she knew it was later than that.  She had no mirror, because she'd thrown it out of the window an autumn ago, or maybe a spring ago, and judged her age by the rough and lined hands that she would stare at as they tried to grip at her fork and knife.
      She asked her nurses which year it was, but they never told her.
      And then one day, as if out of the blue (although which blue she'd never decided, as she always imagined the blue water they kept in the staff toilets, where she'd hidden last time she'd escaped, and she didn't think toilet water was an acceptable blue) someone other than the priest and the Spanish woman, who was growing rounder by the Christmas but still had no name, came to visit her.
      And he was called Logan.  And he had come once before, maybe years ago, and they'd asked him if it was okay, "Mr Logan..."
      And he'd said, "Just Logan."
      And the frumpy little nurse (who had long since married and disappeared) blushed a scarlet and tried to hide the fact that she would have liked very much to have kept him this close to her greasy little desires for the rest of her overly-drawn-out life.
      He'd walked out of Nurse Grogan's life (Jean was not so braindead as to neglect learning her captors' names) as well as he had Jean's and it was odd to see him back, what must have been years later, staring at her blankly from the edge of her bed.
      She wondered if he was married.  She'd been married.  She saw the ring on her dresser, where they'd made her leave it because she'd twisted it so incessantly around her finger that she'd made the skin break and bleed.  Hooper, who was fat yet jolly and made inane jokes about Monday's Jell-O pots, had said that she imagined Jean's husband was a very handsome man.  She'd said, with a smile in her eyes, that she would not be surprised if he was an astronaut, or a motor racing driver, or, and this was the funny one, a chartered surveyor.  Jean wondered if Hooper had once been in love with a chartered surveyor and he had not returned her affections. 
      Jean had been close, yet unable to get her mouth around, telling Hooper that had Jean been her chartered surveyor and the object of Hooper's no-doubt suffocating affections, then she would have married the plump dietician in a second, maybe even half that.  And maybe if she had gotten these words out, Hooper would have smiled.  But the words were mumbled, and then stopped mid sentence and then Jean had refused her Jell-O pot for what Hooper marked as the eighth time on her pedantic little clipboard.
      By the time Logan appeared on the edge of her bed, Jean had refused her Jell-O pot for twenty-six times straight.  A record she was immensely proud of.
      "How are you?" he asked her.
      She wondered if he was so naïve as to think that she could answer him.  She smiled enigmatically, as Rollings had told her that was her best smile and played with some of her hair.
      "Silly question," he said glumly, proving to her satisfaction that he was not so naïve.
      There was a pause and his look disappeared out of her window, onto those nice medical students and their nice Yale educated lives, all wrapped up in their nice Sears-bought coats.  "Good view," he said awkwardly, proving Jean's assumption that this was not a talkative man. 
      She noticed that he didn't look any different from the man of years ago, the way she remembered him.  And she found it slightly perplexing that he hadn't aged. Everything aged. She knew that she had.  She knew she had lines on her face, and viewed the world from beneath a sunken profile, deep set eyes and flat lips.  And sunken.  Didn't that feel like such a great word for everything?  Sunken.
      "They told us you'd died."  His look was still fixed on some far off horizon.  She wondered if he could see NYC, the tall towers, the fairytale penthouse lofts.  "They said you'd died and they wanted to know what to do with the body...they said we'd neglected you, not coming and all, they said..."
      His look turned back towards her and his eyes narrowed, a small smile curled his lips.  "They said you were lonely.  You lonely, Jeannie?"
      She shook her head and let him have the small, calculated 'I'm fine!' smile she'd been practising for her meeting with entities known only, and fearfully to Jean as 'THE BOARD.'  She pointed to the row of videotapes that sat beneath her television - period drama and romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle, Casablanca, Taxi Driver - and the books that sat on the window sill near her bed - Austen, Dickens, Catcher in the Rye, a Gideon's bible, a journal.  She almost felt compelled to jump from her bed, all slippers and terry cloth robe, and show him the day room.  Maybe he'd be just as excited by the elevator!  Would he like to see it?  Maybe Hooper was around...was it a Monday...was it a Monday...was it...?
      "Monday?" she asked him, blinking, sitting up in her bed now and grinning at him.  "Monday?"
      He gave her a short look before shrugging his shoulders and looking away.  "Friday," he said.
      "Ah," she replied, dejected.  "Always Friday."  She gave him a small, spoilt look before descending back into the fluffed cushions of her bed.
      He edged closer to her and she felt her skin begin to tingle and the tips of her fingers hum a little.  She realised he smelled different.  Not like everyone else. Different.  And then admonished herself for her lack of descriptive function.
      He smelt of outside.  Shit!  He'd probably even been to New York.  Sears.  Broadway.  Brooklyn Bridge.  Hot dogs outside of the World Trade Centre.  She had a book with the pictures...what was it called?  What the hell was it called?
      He scratched the back of his head.  "Well...this I could have done without."  He smiled naturally at her.  "You're looking...good."
      She rolled her eyes at him, an action that felt far more familiar, more right, than the usual juvenile wailing she subjected her nurses to, her pouting and her adolescent sneering.  She imagined, before the accident, she had been beautiful. 
      He looked at her as though she had been beautiful once.  When his view snapped back from whichever horizon it had been fixed upon, and it touched her features, her old, sunken features, disappointment would twitch across his face.  She was not, nor ever would be, the woman he remembered.
      Had he been in love with her?  He reached out and grabbed her hand like he had cared for her once.
      She had let him grab her hand, and as he did so she'd remembered, distantly, in a time before elevators, and Yale doctors, and the sunkenness of everything, she had kissed this man.
      But he did grab her hand.  He didn't hold it.  Gripped it in a way you would the hand of a child, as though you were afraid the grasp would be broken and the person would run from you, out of dangerous curiosity, or a pointless need to be free.  But free of what?  Free of everything.
      "We missed you, Jeannie," he whispered.
      "Nice," she said caustically, before bringing his hand, clasped in hers, upwards, so she could see it.  He had strong hands.  But he clipped his nails.
      He nodded his head, held down a smile.  "Well,  that's one word for it."
      She examined his hand, the mottled skin touched by sunlight.  He had been somewhere hot recently.  She brought the hand closer, angled it a certain way as though viewing an antique treasure.  She kissed the knuckles and tasted the slightest hint of metal...
      {Santa Monica Detention Centre. Protecting American Citizens into the new Millennium! Funded by the State Lottery of CA.  It could be you!}
      He looked at her, worried.  He didn't strike her as a man who scared easily.  "Santa Monica," she said, asking for a reply as she pinned him with her dark, green eyes.  ("Jeannie has the best eyes, mom!"  "You know, you could have been a model...if you didn't do the weird mind things."  "Gee, Jeannie, you're getting married and you don't even know the colour of his eyes!"}  She rarely looked people in the eyes anymore.
      "Santa Monica," he replied, letting out a long whistle like she'd heard people do in her movies.  "They said you didn't talk..."
      She dropped his hand, and he was so surprised by the action that it fell before he realised and landed on her knees.  Then stayed on her knees.  "Talk," she ordered.
      She moved closer to him, and reached out a hand, ran it along his cheek, against the bristle of stubble that he was definitely not the kind of man to bother about shaving off and kissed his cheek.  He let out a small gasp and caught her slim hips, underfed slim hips clothed in the long white night-gown that had always been hers.  In her weakness, she fell into him, head against his chest, breathing to his time.  He wrapped his arms around her.  They stayed like that for a while.
      It was comforting to be touched.  They never touched her here.  Barely even looked at her.  And she didn't like their hands, their smell, their dirty emotions...because, oh God, they hurt so much....
      The Nurse on 10B.  Her father had died. Not that she'd ever known her father - except for missed birthday bunches of flowers (how many four-year-olds liked flowers?) and the odd postcard from Reno, Boston, fucking London, England.  But it hurt that he'd died...and her own children, her own fatherless children would grow up lost...losing...lost...
      Jean had never seen the Nurse on 10B - but knew her intimately, against her will, as though she was another part of her character.  That wasn't natural.  It wasn't natural that he hadn't aged.  It wasn't natural that they didn't turn the calendar over in her room.
      She hugged him closer.  "Tell me.  Tell me about Santa Monica."
      He stroked her hair, lopping the red curls around his fingers, the metal tainted knuckles.  "I'm glad you grew it long," he said softly.  "Suits you."
      She hadn't grown it.  It was more of a matter of not having it cut.
      He had been in love with her.  And, though she could barely remember the sensation, she had loved him back, he had completed her, she had woken up to his touch every morning and he had smiled at her.
      He let out a long sigh. "Santa Monica, huh?  There are some thing we'd rather forget."
      The only thing she'd like to forget was that she had lost her memory.  Everything else she wanted back.  All of it. Even the shitty stuff.  No, especially the shitty stuff.  Someone had once told her that the bad times reminded you that you were still breathing.  She wanted to be reminded of that.
      She clutched at his old shirt with her hand.  Checked.  Real, red and black and blue and smelling of fire and smoke.  He had lost a button at one of the cuffs.  She wondered if her hands were steady enough to sew it back on.  She almost didn't remember when he started talking...
      "...you and me, Jeannie, we're not like other people.  Not at all.  We're different, 'gifted' is the word they use now on the television.  Like it's gonna make us feel any better, right?"  He looked down at her for confirmation and received only a wide-eyed smile.  He shrugged.  "Anyway, mutant powers and shit although I'm guessing you've figured that out by now..."
      {A girl standing, her hair in braids, tears running down her cheeks. There are children laughing.  Why are they laughing?  Maybe they'll take her away...that's what they're saying.  Chanting. No. Taunting.}
      {'Mutie! Mutie! Mutie!'}
      "...and there's this one great guy."  He sniggered to himself. "Let's call him Chuck..."
      {He was a very beautiful man.  And she wondered, standing all gawky and awkward and chewing her bubble gum, if he realised how beautiful he was.  His profile was classic, defined, and regal almost.} 
      {'Hello Jean, my name is Charles Xavier.'}
      "...and he started a school.  Called it Xavier Academy.  Set it up in this nice area, Westchester, New York and tried to help others of his kind, our kind, get on in life you know...like some big school teacher guy, all set up to save the world from itself.  Noble, y'know?"  He stroked her hair again.  "Then one day, the government threatens that all these different people, these 'mutants'-"
      {And the children chanted on.  'Mutie! Mutie! Mutie!'}
      {Then came a woman, and she was wearing blue, and her name was Mrs Gildmore.  She said magical things to Jean, things like,  'I love two things in life Jean, my roses and my science.'  'Look at this, Jean.  I wonder what Gallileo would have made of the Milky Way.  You think he could have believed something we didn't make could have been so beautiful?'  'Have you ever seen anything more wonderful than a snowdrop, Jean?  Millions of snowdrops, like blankets tossed over the ground.  Just gotta be in awe of the precision of nature!'}
      {Mrs Gildmore didn't say Jean's name like it was a curse, a dirty word only broadcastable after nine.}
      {When Mrs Gildmore came, the children stopped. their taunts.}
      "-they're saying that they're going to put them all on this huge list.  All the names, all the powers, everything.  So the fucking FBI can track us or something...and there's this guy, and, yeah, his name was Kelly and he was fighting in the Senate to have us all listed neatly.  And you were there Jeannie, not taking any bull -"
      {' For reasons still not known to us, we are seeing what some are calling the beginnings of another stage of evolution -'}
      {The Senate was like that playground.  They taunted.  They laughed.  Their ring leader paraded and preened.}
      '...But then this other guy shows up.  One of Chuck's friends from way back.  And he's pissed off about this list and goes on this rampage.  Things get blown up. And then he kidnaps this girl, and she's called Marie, sweet kid, and he uses her for this machine...this huge, serious machine, up in the Statue of Liberty...'
      Maybe she'd seen more than pictures of the Statue of Liberty.  Maybe she'd been there.
      "Was I...?" she began, but her words were swept away in his story.
      "...he wants to use her to turn the world leaders to mush.  We fought, damn, we fought hard but it wasn't enough and..."
      He stopped.  Why had he stopped?  Why had he...?
      He looked down at her.  "Jeannie, maybe this isn't the right bedtime story..."  His voice was full of something misplaced, some emotion he was trying to hide. 
      "Santa Monica?" she asked, her eyes wide but dry, and her mouth a small shape, quivering as she hung onto him.  She felt that if she let go she'd really fall this time.  Fall and land hard.  Real hard.
      "After that, the bill was passed.  And we, you, me and everyone else, we were labelled 'dangerous' by this list and they put us in Santa Monica and..."
      That was enough.
      The room was dark.  Cold.  And she was close to someone, and he was rubbing her back, telling her it'd be okay, that she'd be okay.
      And God she loved this man.  Loved him from the very moment she'd met him, but was too damn stupid to realise it.  For the rest of her life she'd never love anyone as much as she loved him.  As much as he loved her.
      She couldn't remember what he looked like.  But she could remember the damp walls, the grey suit she wore, the dry desert air that seemed to clog up her lungs.  Yes, she could remember that.  But not him. 
      She could feel his pain, edging onto hers, taking her over and almost, to the point of pain, she could hear his voice and not his words, his timbre and not his message.  He was like a ghost, nothing for her to grasp, to call her own.
      She remembered roll call.  She remembered standing in line and being barked at.  She remembered the tests...she remembered...
      "...and that was the seventh year, and then we were edging into the eighth..."
      Around her the wall of her prison, her cell, her bunk-bed and toilet and exercise yard began to disappear, and the Box Room filtered back into life, as though someone were opening the shades...
      "You, Scott, the Professor...fuck me if I ever see anything like it again.  I don't know how you did it.  Some telepathy mind thing - I mean, obviously, they had you and the Prof. in collars, dampen your psy force y'know, and you used one-eye as this kind of anchor...and you blasted us out of there.  Had enough.  Got us out.  It was all in the papers. Everywhere.  'Bad treatment of mutants! The liberals screamed, as though they weren't the exact ones, eight years ago, who'd called us murderers and gone on talk shows with their little suburban horror stories."
      She looked at him when he finished.  The pause that formed didn't sit well between them.  Did she love this man?  There had been a man.  A husband.
      "Do you love me?"
      The question put him off guard.  He looked up at her, eyes as innocent and neglected and open as she'd ever seen them, or ever remembered seeing them.
      He reached out to her, and cupped her head, bringing her closer to him.  She almost wasn't surprised when he kissed her.  Pressing his lips to hers.
      She kissed him back.  She imagined, before the accident, she was a woman to be kissed.
      {"God, I love you Jean Grey.}
      It was surreal, dazzling, to be held so tenderly again - to feel the brush of lips against her own, that simple and familiar caress that had always been, for her, sickeningly like the storybooks.  She had fallen in love, and it would be forever.
      She kissed him again and he pulled her a little roughly towards her, pressed his mouth to her own.  He tasted of the outside. Hot Dogs at the World Trade Centre.
      {"You're making me blush."}
      {"Then blush."}
      He had found her.  He was rescuing her.  He would take her away, this Logan, from her Box Room, steal her away and keep her safe.
      {"God, I love you Jean Grey."}
      {"And I love you, Scott Summers."}
      She kissed him just below his ear.  "And, I love you, Scott Summers."
      He dropped her, and blinked.  And each time the lids closed for the briefest of seconds, she couldn't help but wonder if his view of her was changing.  Beautiful, talented Jean Grey. Blink.  Tired, ill, but fighting Jean Grey.  Blink.  Depressed, Jean Grey. Blink.  Scarred Jean Grey.  Blink.  Sunken Jean Grey.  Blink.
      Brainddead Jean Grey.
      It was hard to tell if he was upset, or angry, or neither.  He just stared at her, stared and blinked.  "I'm not Scott, Jeannie," he said at last, looking into her eyes and nodding as if trying to teach her, as one would an animal, that this was the 'way' of things.
      "No," she nodded her head, her brow knitting. 
      Because if he wasn't Scott, and he made her feel like that, then who the fuck was Scott?  And more importantly, where was Scott?  Her eyes flickered to the gold band on her bedside table.  No, it didn't look like Logan's style.
      Night had come and her world was dampening, turning the light many shades of grey.  "But you do love me?"
      He grinned, not a smile - more callous, calculated, just like the man at the head of 'THE BOARD.'  "I don't think I ever loved you like Scott loved you."  He paused, as if he had more to say, something else to quantify the statement, but eventually he just shook his head and stood, making his first move away from her in what felt like hours.
      She wanted his sun-mottled hands on her skin again.  She wanted to make jokes about his glasses.  But then, tough breaks, he didn't wear glasses.
      "It hurt me.  This mind thing.  It hurt me, didn't it?  It put me in here."
      His nod was solemn, but brusque, not unlike a manner he would assume while attending the funeral of someone he didn't really care for.  She had seen him at a funeral.  That was a memory that struck her.  And he hadn't been wearing black.  "Yeah," he said, "and then the voices wouldn't let you rest...you had no control.  You're here..."
      "...for my own safety?"  She'd heard those words before.  Barked at her from all corners, all sides, as if the words made sense to her.
      "Yes," some kind of emotion leaked onto his tone, but she had no way of telling which.  "You want to go home?  Leave here?"
      She looked around her room.  The VHS cases smiling at her, the sun setting behind the New York smudge on the horizon, her books, the white nightdress that had always been hers.
      Did he even have to ask the question?
      "Yes," she said, nodding emphatically.  "Take me away."
      They kept him in a box room in Manhattan.
      He'd been there so long they'd painted the name onto his door in white.  The Nurses had given him nicknames.  The machines in his room blinked in rhythm.  He could see the Statue of Liberty - or what was left of it - from his bedroom window.
      She'd fallen asleep in his car and he'd carried her into the hospital.  Made up some lie about 'jetlag' so the nurses wouldn't worry.  Held her in the elevator.  He didn't have the heart to wake he up.  But then, he'd once been told he didn't have much of a heart to begin with.  Didn't have much of a body that wasn't made of metal either...
      He laid her onto the bed next to him, and reflexively she curled against his body.  Looking at that, he berated himself for being a stupid fucking leader of the X Men and not doing this earlier.  Chuck had died, and that's when Jeannie had been admitted.
      Him?  Well, he'd been asleep for a very long time.
      He kissed Jeannie's hair.  Looked down at Scott and smirked, mouthed 'Lucky bastard' before turning to leave. 
      And just as long as no one told, he'd keep his reputation as an emotionally deficient hardman.
      They kept them in a boxroom in Westchester.
      She could still see the city.  Make jokes about his glasses.  Live in his dreams.
      The Spanish woman came.  The Spanish woman went.
      The Spanish woman transformed into a tall, blue mutant with red hair.
      The Spanish woman still didn't have a name.
      "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."
      Eleanor Roosevelt
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