X-men Evolution Fan Fiction / X-Men Fan Fiction ❯ BurnOut ❯ Chapter 7 ( Chapter 7 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter 7
In a cavern, towering nearly 9600 feet above the Pacific Ocean, an Angel slept. His wings flexed involuntarily, in synch with his breathing. He had been flying for days.
It would be better for Jean if you stayed away…
Charles Xavier's telepathic suggestion echoed in his mind. When he first heard it in Xavier's office back at the Institute, the man's black, fathomless eyes seemed to be digging into his brain - scanning every interaction, every sighting, every fantasy, every thought he had ever had about Jean. Warren had to get out of that room. He had to get away. But he could hardly stand. His wings felt like they weighed hundreds of pounds, and his legs and back were so weak they could barely support them.
Staggering slowly out the door, he moved in the direction of the terrace. Wolverine snarled at his bent back as he struggled to pass him. He wasn't going to make it. He was going to fall on the floor. Logan's steel-toed boot loomed before him. Then Rogue appeared. She wrapped her arms under his shoulders.
“Lean on me,” she said, walking him over to the glass doors that opened out onto the terrace.
He noticed every step was easier than the last; his wings were getting lighter. The radius of Xavier's mental control only extended a few dozen feet. His back straightened. He opened the doors himself. Once outside, his wings seemed to pull him up into the sky by themselves.
“Rogue, thank-you,” he called down quickly before her small figure dropped out of sight as he rose into the sunset.
Beyond the dampening effects of Xavier's psychic dominance, Warren felt more powerful than ever. He wondered what Jean had done to him. Some strange new energy was running through him, speeding his flight. He must be going over 150 miles an hour, far faster than he had ever imagined. As the forests and hills of western New York State gave way to Lake Erie he contemplated how far he could go. What if he never stopped until he dropped out of the sky? If he couldn't be with Jean, he never wanted to touch ground again.
After what seemed like three and a half days, he noticed his altitude had steadily increased. There were no lights beneath him and no planes in sight. The pre-dawn horizon revealed snow-capped peaks ahead. He broadened his wings, slowing down to survey his surroundings. Suddenly he was blinded by a flurry of feathers. A flock of Tundra Swans overtook him from the East. They passed him on both sides, crossing his field of vision in interlacing V shapes. I'll follow them, he thought. Within miles he tasted salt. He must be near the coast. He cleared a cliff and dove thousands of feet to feel the spray of the ocean.
Having not eaten for a while, he found he enjoyed fresh Pacific Halibut. He preferred it raw, caught with his own two hands. When the fish meat hit his gut, he knew he was really exhausted. Rising into the cliffs he spied an oddly shaped cavern cut into one of the highest peaks. The hole it made in the mountain resembled a man with a top hat. If he was lucky, it would provide cover and dry earth to sleep on. He'd only rest for a few hours before continuing his journey to find out how far he could go.
Throughout his sleep, his thoughts remained in the heavens. He dreamt he flew higher and higher until he reached an impossible distance, tens of thousands of feet above in the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere. Too high, too high, he told himself. The air thinned out. He couldn't think. One minute he was sweating, feverish, the next he was freezing. He felt pressure building up in his internal organs. Must get down. As he plummeted to Earth like a meteor, his wings caught fire. The ground was so close he smelled dirt. He stopped. Jean Grey held him. A thousand stars burned in her eyes.
He awoke. Was that Jean's voice or just his dream? It was her. He knew it. He had to go back. He couldn't just fly on forever. Jean was calling. Let Charles Xavier try to stop him.
* * * * * * * *
Scott Summers looked up at the girl in the sky. The midday sun set the flowing waves of her red hair ablaze with a hundred different scintillating hues. Gazing at her radiant form, he was mesmerized by her beauty.
I love you, Jean…
She didn't hear him, or if she did, she gave him no sign. Where was she? Maybe her surging powers were distracting her, or in her mind she was still locked in a deadly confrontation with Apocalypse. He desperately didn't want to believe she was intentionally ignoring his thoughts. He feared the hundred-yard cable stretched taut between his chest and her levitating body was their sole connection.
“Jean, control it. I know you can do it. Come down to me,” he called to her, jerking the cable.
She had been in love with him until two and a half weeks ago. Now she wasn't aware he existed. Calm down, Scott told himself. She would come around. The Professor's regimen would succeed, even if it took several more weeks. She would be his Jean again. She would smile at him like she used to; the warmth would return to her emerald eyes.
But what if she was thinking about Warren? All Angel had to do to win her affection was fly after her one day and fall out of the sky? Summers had been jealous before, when Jean dated Duncan, the captain of the football team at Bayville High. But this was something else. Seeing Jean and Warren suspended together, enveloped in her brilliance, stung Scott's heart. The anger and pain was unlike anything he'd ever known. He felt betrayed.
“Jean!” he called up to her. “Come down, please.”
He had liked Warren. He had actually felt sorry for him. When he and Rogue first tracked down the elusive Angel of Manhattan, Scott had sympathized with Warren's isolation - way up in a skyscraper afraid to be seen because he could barely conceal his wings. But Warren couldn't have Jean. She was all Scott cared about. Losing her would mean losing everything he loved in the world.
Finally, the floating girl removed her gaze from the horizon and looked down at him. The cable slackened as she descended. When she was within his grasp, he reached for her waist and gathered her into his arms.
“It's not so bad down here,” he said, holding her.
Jean pushed his arms away and lowered herself to the ground. “Help me take this off, Scott,” she requested, indicating the harness that bound her chest. “I won't fly away, I promise.”
“Just wait until we're inside. There's no risk that way.” Moira approached them. Scott turned to the doctor seeking approval.
“Do as she says, Scott. I think it's time Miss Grey made her own decisions,” MacTaggert responded.
Scott wondered why Jean didn't do it herself. She could have manipulated the clasp using her telekinesis in far less time than it took him to fumble with the release using his fingers. Maybe she wanted to feel his hands. God, he hoped so. She rose up, beyond him, as the harness dropped from her shoulders and then sank down, tapping the marble surface of the terrace with the toes of her tennis shoes.
“Charles is in the Danger Room, Jean. He and Hank have something to show you,” Moira told her. Jean nodded and calmly walked inside.
“She's humoring us. She doesn't want to be down here,” said Scott, coiling the cable, after the doors closed behind her.
“Jean wants to stay with us, Scott,” Moira assured him.
“Then what's going on with her and Worthington?”
* * * * * * * *
Jean punched in the code that opened the thick metal doors of the antechamber that led to the Danger Room. For the past eighteen days it had been her bedroom and living quarters. Entering it now she saw a large prison cell with reinforced adamantium walls. The Professor and Hank were waiting.
“I'm happy you walked here,” Charles remarked.
“I can control it, Professor,” said Jean, sitting down on one of the examination tables.
“Perhaps you're doing better than I thought, Jean. You might be ready for this.” Xavier turned to Hank McCoy.
“Care to try this on?” Dr. McCoy offered, holding up a strange looking black vest. It was halfway between a futuristic life preserver and a streamlined flak jacket.
“Lovely,” she said, standing up. “What does it do?” she asked pulling it on.
“It will help you maintain a connection to the ground without a cable. The charged adamantium fibers inside increase in density the further their distance from the Earth's gravitational center…”
“Thanks, Hank. Let's save the complete explanation for another time. Jean doesn't need to fully understand how it works at this point. Is it comfortable?”
“It's better than the harness. But it's heavy.”
“It's resisting the negative energy field you've been generating…” Hank, taking note of a disapproving glance from Xavier, stopped abruptly. “I have to get back to the lab,” he strolled towards the exit, “I have something in mid-process.” Beast's last words were muffled by the hydraulic press of the vault closing behind him.
You don't want me to learn how it works?
“Jean, it's less likely you'll be tempted to disarm it if you're a little unclear as to how it operates. Anyway, I think it will be all right for you to go back to your old room if you wear this as a precaution.”
“I can sleep in my bed?”
“Sure, starting tonight if you like. Just keep this on to make sure you wake up there.”