X-men Evolution Fan Fiction / X-Men Fan Fiction ❯ BurnOut ❯ Chapter 8 ( Chapter 8 )

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

Chapter 8
The journey back East was far more difficult than the flight West had been. Whatever power she had given him was spent. Buffeted by strong headwinds, he struggled to clear each mile. He spent the time imagining their future together. They just needed a place of their own, beyond the reach of Xavier and the X-Men. Soaring alongside a lone albatross, he watched it rest while gliding on the wind. He mimicked its winged posture. Then he thought about resting. Instantly the full weight of his fatigue hit him. Warren was out at 10,000 feet.
* * * * * * * *
Jean heard a tapping sound. She felt herself being pulled out of her bed, up into the air and over to the window of her bedroom. Warren was out there. The latch on the pane moved on its own accord, the glass opened, and she was out in the night sky. Warren's face emerged from the darkness strangely flickering, as if lit by firelight.
“Jean,” he said, sailing towards her, “I'm in love with you.”
Jean reached out to him and saw her arm was covered in flames. Horror-struck, she pulled it back. He embraced her before she could get away. His flesh, his wings were burning. She could smell his singed hair.
“Warren!” she screamed, throwing him off.
Jean saw her contorted face reflected in the Professor's deep black irises. She wasn't outside with Warren; she wasn't even dreaming alone in her room, she was with Charles…
“Jean, it's all right. Nothing has happened...”
She was shaking, “Why did you show me that, Professor?”
“The vision came from you, Jean.”
* * * * * * * *
Angela Preston didn't feel like sleeping. It was too early. Tonight, sipping the Chardonnay that Toby complained tasted like dirt and cost too much money, while sitting out on the porch watching the waters of the vast lake fade into the misty night, she felt alive.
“Angie, I'm going to bed. Doug and I are gettin' up real early,” Toby told her through the screen door.
“Yeah, I know, you're huntin' tomorrow,” she responded, making no movement indicating she was going to follow him inside.
“We're gonna have duck for dinner.”
“Can't wait. You go on.”
“Ange, I know the skeeters don't like you, but don't stay out there all night gettin' drunk, okay?”
“I'll be in soon. Just gimme a minute.” She was relieved she didn't have to say more.
She knew he was tired. He rarely lasted beyond his customary third beer. He walked off to bed. He didn't seem too angry. Well, she wasn't going to get up at six in the morning. She wouldn't be needed until the afternoon when the men would come back with their trophies. Doug's wife Jen and their twins Amber and Jayson would arrive and she and Jen would pluck the birds for the men to roast.
Angela decided the next few hours would be hers, hers alone; she would sit and look at the lake. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness and if she tried she could still make out the military reservation radio tower on the opposite bank. She poured the last of the wine into her glass and walked out to the landing where the boat was secured. In the diffuse moonlight she discerned pockets of vapor, resembling layered silken veils, wafting across the surface of the lake. Suddenly, she sensed a dark shape growing above her. Something huge slammed into the water, maybe a quarter mile from the shore. It looked like a bird, the largest bird she'd ever seen.
Discarding the wine glass in the grass, she quickly undid the rope tied to the small boat. Having watched Toby fiddle with the engine hundreds of times, she was fully capable of starting it in the dark. This creature was probably injured, she thought, rushing to the location where she estimated it had fallen. Fearful of hitting whatever it was, Angela turned off the motor. She used a flashlight she found under one of the life-vests to search. Guided by the current through the fog she came up on it, bobbing in the waves. The beam permeated the vapor illuminating a human form, a young man, with wings. Angela caught her breath. An angel had landed in Devil's Lake.
* * * * * * * *
Rogue couldn't believe it, but she was starting to feel bad for Jean Grey. Two days ago Jean had moved back upstairs, leaving the Danger Room to serve its primary function: a dynamic training environment where Rogue regularly got her ass kicked. Logan said they were “getting back into swing of things,” whatever that meant. He ordered Rogue, Scott, Kitty, and Kurt to report for exercises that morning.
The four of them were surprised when Jean walked in. It soon became obvious that it wasn't just the weighted vest she was wearing that was different. Performing with robotic accuracy, she was seconds ahead of everyone. She waited after every maneuver, a bit impatiently, for her teammates to complete their moves. Despite the prowess displayed, when Rogue stole a glimpse of her vacant expression, she realized Jean wasn't truly with them; her mind was elsewhere.
After lunch, everyone gathered on the south lawn for a soccer game. The Jean Rogue knew would never miss an opportunity to show off her award-winning football skills, but the redhead failed to appear on the field. Rogue found it weird, but she felt compelled to go find her. Nobody had assigned her to the morale squad, she just sensed Grey needed her. And the even stranger thing was she didn't have to guess where to go, she knew: the Gazebo overlooking the reservoir.
The Gazebo, situated on an overhang which dropped precipitously into the massive Kensico Reservoir, was a loaded place for Rogue. Some months ago, she pushed the stone remains of Mystique, the woman she once called Mother, over the edge. Watching Mystique shatter into a million pieces, she reveled in the emotional release. Only later would she be haunted by the devastation that spread across the face of her brother, Kurt Wagner, also known as Nightcrawler. Jean was levitating a few feet off the cliff looking out, unblinking, at the horizon.
Rogue walked up behind her, “I thought that vest kept you on the ground.”
“I can't go far,” Jean responded, maintaining her thousand-mile stare.
“What's this thing with you watching the skies all the time? What are you looking for?” the words had barely escaped her lips when the answer manifested in Rogue's mind. Jean was searching for Warren.
You know…
“It's okay,” Rogue said, as Jean whipped around 180º to face her, “you can trust me.”
Jean's stony demeanor crumbled, “I don't know what to do…”