X-men Evolution Fan Fiction / X-Men Fan Fiction ❯ End of our Days ❯ Inside my Mind ( Chapter 1 )

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

`Telepathic Speech'
Chapter 1: Inside My Mind
Didn't anyone drink coffee in this blasted place, Magneto wondered, pretty pissed off, as he rummaged through all kitchen cupboards, searching in vain for said substance.
`It's not going to come out with annoyance, you know.' he heard in his mind and turned sharply around, only to see Jean leaning at the doorframe, an amused half-smile playing on her lips. Though still slightly sleepy, she looked utterly charming in a pair of red pyjama pants and a t-shirt, that suspiciously looked like one of Logan's. Perhaps seeing his confusion as to that particular garment, she chuckled “Mr Anger forgot the laundry two weeks ago and let me borrow this as compensation, since I had no clean one of mine to wear. Then, I kind of forgot to return it and he hasn't asked for it back, either, so I just kept it. It's real comfy to sleep in anyway.”
He felt his own lips pull in a slight smile “Well, not that it was my business to pry in the first place.” She lifted a brow “But you wanted to.” and he added, feeling caught red-handed, but still unable to suppress a grin “Touché, Madame Telepathe.”
Jean went to the counter and fumbled somewhere in the cabinet right under it, taking out a jar of what looked like instant coffee. “Here.” she passed it to their guest “Try this - it's not black, but it's just as strong.” His fingers faintly brushed hers as he took it and she let her eyes linger a bit on him. Dressed in informal beige pants, a black shirt hugging his upper body, its sleeves rolled up and only the middle three buttons done, and with his longish, silvery-white hair falling a bit in his eyes, he gave out quite the casual look. Plus, she had to admit, it suited him, wondering if now he wore civilian clothes more often. But then she dismissed the thought, smirking inwardly - he just wouldn't be himself without the armour.
“Here you go.” he offered her a steaming mug, as he leaned against the counter holding his own. “So, are you now the only instructor - if we don't count the Wolfman, that is?”
“Nope - quite impossible with all the students we have. Got several others too, but they're all on the move in the moment. Should be here, though, sometime today, so you'll get to meet them. There're a couple of familiar faces you'd probably recognise.”
He sipped his coffee, his gaze never leaving hers “Like who?”
“Kurt, for starters - he's visiting Amanda in Germany and I guess proposing too.” Jean humoured, watching his eyes grow wide at that. “And remember Warren?” Erik raised a brow “The Guardian Angel?”
“Very same. He's one of us now, together with his girl, a certain Betsy Braddock or Psylocke.”
“A relation of Captain Britain?”
“His twin-sister, actually. But both she and her beau are in Japan right now, on an assignment with Neal - Thunderbird, another new addition. Mind you - these two guys are in for big trouble, seeing how Bess has them both round her finger.”
He smirked “Reminds me of the old days - only with different players this time. And without all the teenage angst. Don't you go on missions too, from time to time?”
“Only on the most dangerous or demanding ones.” Jean felt herself sigh, unable to help being still a bit apprehensive around him. After all, trust didn't come that easily. “I guess; I've grown a taste for the thrill. Otherwise, I get most of the Danger Room exercises. And trust me; these kids can exhaust anyone beyond imagination. Thank goodness, they at least have a separate canteen now, or I wouldn't get any much needed time away from them!”
Though he had noticed the slight uneasiness she still felt in his presence, Erik couldn't hide the humour dancing in his eyes as he added “Must give you quite the trouble then?”
“I simply finally find out what `Ro and Logan had been through, for all these years, while they had to coach us.” His chuckling mingled with her own, an eerie feeling of calm settling in him as he watched, contented, her emerald gaze light up.
Somehow, seemingly lost in a world their own, they didn't notice the figure at the door, until it made itself known by a subtle cough. Or a grunt was actually closer to the truth.
They both turned and he felt Jean tense a bit as they faced the Wolverine. “Jeannie, Chuck wants tah have a word with you before yah go with your first group. He'd be in his office, he says.” Magneto sensed Logan was eyeing him suspiciously and wondered about the reason, but Jean's voice brought him out of his musings “I'll go get dressed then, can't meet him in my PJ's.” She emptied whatever was left in her mug in the sink, filling it with water and gave him a somewhat apologetic look “I'll see you later then, Erik.”
“It's quite alright, just call me when I'm needed, I will be about the school - can't miss having a good look around…” She turned to leave, but not before one last “Enjoy your tour.” He saw her barely suppress a grin “And don't frighten the kids.” then disappeared out of the door like a vision in mist.
“Yah better watch yahr step, bub.” The grumble of his feral companion caused Erik to abandon staring at the door's direction, without seeing it and take his attention back to him. “And that is supposed to mean?” he replied, completely unfazed by the threatening vibes oozing full force from the other mutant.
“Yah cross the line even for a sec and yah're a goner - got it?” Magneto gave him his best sarcastic half-smile “I'm sure Charles appreciates your concern, Wolverine, but, I deem, you already know that he is a good enough judge of character. Most of the time. So if hethinks that I pose no threat to this school or its inhabitants, then I believe you should accept his conclusion on the matter. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other things to do.” He walked past the feral mutant, not paying him any heed, but was suddenly, yet unsurprisingly, met by a set of metallic claws pointed hard at his throat. “What is it now?” his calm evident in every single word, gaze blank, but for a mild trace of amusement.
“Chuck makes mistakes, we both know it, but Irarely do. And keep yah self away from Jeannie. If yah do anythin' to her, yah'll have me to answer to.”
Magneto stiffened just slightly at the direction their `conversation' had just taken, but his outside betrayed nothing “Is that a threat?”
“Nope - just a warnin', but I make it official.”
“Then I must inform you, that whatever intentions I might have regarding Miss Grey are non-existent at best. You have no reason to worry yourself, I assure you. But even ifI had any, they would be none of yourbusiness anyway. Plus, I am actually here for a very different reason, one that, I guess, is beyond the capacity of your primal mind to comprehend.” Wolverine growled low and pressed his claws further into his skin, but Erik used a bit of his magnetic powers and lightly pushed them away from himself before purposefully striding out the door, the Canadian's last comment dissolving in the air around him “I'll be watchin' yah - make no mistake `bout it, bub…”
“Are you a new teacher?” the paradox of that question itself startled Magneto further, beside it coming out of nowhere, as he whirled around only to face a young boy of about ten or twelve. The child's inquisitive look seemed to him quite unusual for his age, not to mention a bit unnerving. “No, I'm afraid.” he said deciding to be patient, as he remembered Jean's, albeit humorous, warning. The boy looked a tad disappointed.
“I thought you were - you look like the other Professors.” That exact comment caused the older mutant to gaze in confusion at his unexpected companion. “How come?”
“You give out this particular air. Like you have all the authority in the world and all of us poor students better beware.” Erik couldn't stop himself from laughing “Is that so?”
“You definitely look like it. Plus, you came from the West Wing and only the teachers reside there, so it's sort of a logical conclusion.” The sheer seriousness of the way this was said, so atypical for a child that young, made Magneto smile again. “I am simply a guest of Charles Xavier. Very unlikely to stay beyond today.”
“Shame - I think you would've made a good instructor. You have it in you.” This particular phrase caused the older man to realise something.
“Are you a telepath, by any chance?” The boy nodded, a gleeful look in his eyes “Actually not very developed yet, but Miss Grey says one day I'll be quite good.”
“She's coaching you then?” he nodded again and went on, seemingly unable, or unwilling, to stop talking to the stranger “And she's real nice too, so is Miss Braddock, but she and Mr Angel - man, they can be real gross sometimes!” Magneto failed to stiffen a laugh at the child's remark, finding it way too funny to miss.
Meanwhile, the youngster continued chattering “And I can time-travel too, but not too far back. Merely to yesterday or the day before, at most. And only alone - can't drag anyone with me, I'm not powerful enough. Plus, they won't let me anyway - `You can't use your powers to show off.'” His childish annoyance at one of the principal rules of the Institute was really amusing to behold.
“I'm Casey, by the way - Casey Bingham, from Ontario, Canada. What's your name?” Magneto was taken aback by this inquiry and hesitated whether he should reveal anything at all, but then again, it wasn't like he would do anything to the kid. Plus, he sort of wanted to see his reaction - whether it mightactually succeed in making him silent for once.
“I am called Magneto.” It didn't produce the intended result at all, though. Casey just eyed him pensively, then concluded “You deal with metal then, right?” There was only curiosity, no apprehension whatsoever from hearing a name, that had inspired fright in so many others. And surprisingly, it felt oddly good not to be feared for a change. Especially, when he wantedit to be this way. “Metal control and manipulation is one of my abilities. But I have others too.”
“Wow! Sounds quite fun! I wish I had such awesome powers. Mine aren't really good.” Casey's disappointment was more then evident.
That struck something inside the older man. He contemplated for a split second, then lowered himself, so his gaze was at the same level as Casey's and addressed him seriously “You should not think so, child. Each of us mutants is bestowed with a unique gift, maybe not in general, but to ourselves. And every ability we have is `good' of its own, because it can be used for a purpose. Of course, what that is depends ultimately on the person in question, but never forget that your talents are yours and no onecan take that from you! This alone makes them worth having, whatever, and however small, they may be.”
Casey eyed him first in disbelief, but then his expression became one of curiosity again “You think so? Truly?” Magneto nodded, a small smile stretching his lips “I don't thinkit, child - I know it.” The boy's gaze lit up and he concluded happily “See - I told you, you have it in you! You actually sound loads like Miss Grey - she tells me similar things. Too bad you ain't staying; I would've introduced you to her.”
“No need for that, I'm afraid - we already know each other.” Casey's eyes grew wide “How come? Were you a student here too?”
“No, we are just, let's call it…” What were they exactly? Enemies-turned-unwilling allies? Distant acquaintances? Or simply two people, who knew quite a bit about each other, yet they didn't really know the other much? “…we are old friends.”
“Excellent! Can I tell the others too?” the kid's look was almost pleading.
“Better not - I had no intention of dealing with a whole bunch of children, you are quite the handful on your own!” Casey seemingly took that as a compliment, judging by the huge grin he sported. “All I had in mind was a tour around the Institute.”
“I can take you then - but call me Casey! I hate it when I'm called `child'.” He pouted at that last. “Still you area child.” Erik pointed out.
“Maybe, but it's bad enough to know you're one - I don't need to be further reminded of it!”
“Ah, you are one of those who want to grow up faster, then?” his companion nodded. “Well then, Casey, lead on!” And as if on cue; the boy's small hand had grasped his much larger one, startling the older mutant a bit. There was so much unexpected trust in that simple gesture, he thought - trust that only an innocent child, such as the one walking by his side, could have for someone like him.
He had never liked kids, especially not older ones - they were too much of a nuisance. He hadn't even felt, let alone been, a real father to his own twins. And now things were far too damaged for him to ever try patching them up.
But this particular kid had proven to him that maybe there was something bearable, even likable about children. If one didn't count the chatter box tendencies Casey seemed to have.
“Looks like, it is true, when they say one continues learning throughout their life…” he mused in a whisper. And as his partner in crime led him swiftly down the corridor, he felt some odd sense of belonging. Like he was sort of home...
“So we have finally come down to business.” The annoyance of being kept in the dark about the whole ordeal was really getting to Magneto and he couldn't hide it anymore as he settled in the armchair he had occupied the previous day.
“I cannot thank you enough for being patient, Erik…” Xavier started, but he cut him off “Like I could be otherwise. I admit to normally possessing patience in abundance, but that particular virtue of mine has been wearing thin lately, considering your bizarre enterprises,old friend.”
“I'm afraid this occasion is not such, seeing as it is actually quite serious.” Magneto eyed him questioningly; confusion in his gaze, but surprisingly the answer came from a different source.
“It's a long story - but the moment has come for it to be told.” He spun around in his armchair to meet Jean's emerald eyes, as she entered quietly and took her place in the one beside him. “Yet, the most important thing is that the time draws near for Apocalypse to rise again.” the redhead went on and he felt his eyes widen with astonishment.
“Hang on! Didn't your Rogue defeat him for good with Leech's powers, five years ago? Last time I heard, he was lost somewhere in time - how can he come back? What are playing at, Charles?”
Once more, it was Jean who replied though “When you both were controlled by Apocalypse as his Horsemen, the Professor was able to see some of the future in his mind.” Magneto turned to Xavier frowning “I had an inkling something like this had happened, judging by your slightly odd behaviour afterwards. Still, why didn't I catch anything of the sort? I was under his influence too.”
“Simple, my friend - I was the only telepath of the Four, but what I glimpsed at, has only secondary importance here. For, it wasn't me, who saw the new rise.” The telepath's eyes glanced sideways of Magneto and the latter realised, startled, that his host was looking at Jean, apparently prompting her to continue. The Master of magnetism was now more than confused. What did she have to do with all this? Yet, she went on explaining.
“What happened five years ago was simply a probing of the ground - the launching point for something bigger. He let Rogue have the upper hand in their confrontation to confuse us, and his sending through time isn't a problem he can't solve. But a victory against him, even a false one, would've made us let our guard down and be more than unprepared later. Because when he rises this time…it will be for real. And neither Rogue nor Leech can do anything against him.”
He listened, mouth agape, until finally finding his voice with difficulty “How is that possible? I mean, wasn't the boy's ability the only way to at least stop him?” Jean shook her head “And how on Earth do you know all this, if Charles didn't get it from Apocalypse's brain?”
Then, it dawned on him, realisation hitting him hard, while he stared at the redhead as if he'd never seen her before. “Charles didn't…but someone else did…You?” He immediately grasped the absurdity of this supposition, but to his shock Jean nodded “Yes - me. I was the only other living soul on this planet to ever enter Apocalypse's mind.”
“Oh, God…” Erik finally felt himself say, thoughts assaulting him of the terrible experience she must have been through, considering the twisted brain of En-Sabah Nur. And an unfamiliar sensation gripped his insides in a cold, vice-like grasp - fear, but not an ordinary one. It was something, the ruthless leader Magneto, who had always regarded all others around him as mere pawns in his war against humanity, able to be sacrificed without second thought, had never felt in his life before. Genuine concern for someone else, beside himself - fright for the safety of the young woman sitting at his side, considering what she probably had had to endure trapped in the mind of that madman, knowing what he could he do to her own…
Catching his thoughts, Jean felt herself become rigid with dread. This was it - the moment she had to lay bare her deepest secret. She was helpless in stiffening a mirthless laugh - a cold, hollow sound “And I did it of my own free will, no less.”
She saw Magneto wildly shake his head, looking at her as if she didn't know what she was talking about. “No!” he blurted out so quickly, that she hardly understood him “You can't have done it willingly - he probably controlled you too.” However, the dark look in her brilliant green eyes told him she was neither jesting, nor confused - it was simply him being unable to assimilate the truth.
Magneto looked from Jean to Charles and back to her, as if seeking an explanation in their expressions, yet suddenly reverted to Xavier, for he had realised that the telepath's face was just as perplexed as his own.
`No, my friend!' he heard the other man's voice projected in his mind`I have never heard the whole story either - only what Jean said before about the second coming. And to tell you the truth, I am just as surprised.'
“But…but how? Why?” was the first thing that came to the Master of magnetism's mind, when, after absorbing all information so far, he finally could speak again. Jean locked her gaze with his and he found himself entranced by its sheer intensity “Before we all went off to fight Apocalypse, I started having dreams - very odd dreams. And my powers began to increase. First, not by much, but as the time of the confrontation approached, they became almost uncontrollable…”
Magneto eyed the other man present with disbelief “Didn't know about that at least, Charles?”
“I could feel Jean was troubled, but she shut me out every time I tried to gauge it from her mind. Yet, when the mansion started to shake each instant she had one of these nightmares, I knew something was horribly wrong. What exactly, however, was a mystery.” He glared slightly reproachfully at his favourite student, who shook her head “I didn't want to disturb you. I wanted answers too, but I yearned to find them on my own. Plus, I soon found out I could suppress my growing powers, burry them deep in me - it took all out of me, but I did it.”
Erik couldn't hold his next inquiry back “Couldn't you possibly help her somehow, Charles? You're the strongest telepath on Earth, for goodness sake!”
“That was what puzzled me too, old friend - I was unable to penetrate Jean's mind, even with my strongest exertions. Whatever had happened to her had made her a lot more powerful than I can ever be, however impossible it may sound. She repelled me with the tiniest effort, making it more than clear she did not want my help and it would be useless anyway.”
Magneto's eyes whirled to Jean again and she nodded “It's true. I myself was more than surprised. But I didn't need more meddling in my mind - I managed dealing with it by myself in the end. Plus, I someway knew not even the Professor could do anything.
“The others didn't pay my surges much heed - they thought I was just going through a period of my own, distress or the like. But all I wanted was for it to stop - the things I saw in my visions; I can't even begin to describe them…”
Erik felt a sudden surge of compassion for the young woman, having himself had his fair share of nightmares in his life. “Were they that horrible?” he asked, concern flowing from him in almost tangible waves. To his utter surprise, however, her reply was “No. Most of them were actually oddly beautiful…Yet, their beauty was rather terrifying, like when you watch the forces of nature unfurl before you in their full might. It was just too much…I wasn't ready to witness what I saw - perhaps, if it had come later…But not then, especially when it turned out that the start of all this coincided exactly with Apocalypse's awakening.”
“So, you think both were somehow connected?” he asked, taking the logical path of reasoning.
“I don't think - I know it. I didn't before we went to fight him, but now I do.”
“How?” was all he could muster, totally engrossed in what he was being told. Jean gave him an almost non-existent smile “From the source.” Realisation dawned on Magneto as he muttered “That's why you entered his mind…” and she nodded “I had been suspecting a connection, yet wasn't entirely sure.”
Erik suddenly felt rage rise in his veins. To his astonishment, it was actually the same kind of fury one experienced, when learning that someone who mattered to them had exposed themselves to danger, with potentially fatal outcome. Yet, he attributed it to his own experiences with Apocalypse, which he didn't wish to anyone, least of all on someone as innocent as her. He shuddered slightly - it was such a foreign sensation, whatever possessed him to feel it in the first place! Still, he couldn't shake it off.
Jean, though, seemed to have caught on his emotional changes, retorting “I had to be certain - that was the only way.” she explained calmly “So, I had resolved to take this step, no matter the risk.” A painful sigh escaped her lips “Only it was him who made the first move…”
Both men had been listening to her more than intently, Jean knew, and her disclosure had rendered them close to speechless. But the biggest shock was yet to come.
“I was with my team, we had just arrived at our destination - the storm was raging full force already and we prepared for the worst…” she went on as she saw in both her companions' minds they urged her to “I had closed my eyes for one last time, my thoughts running over what we had to do, when I heard it. A voice so familiar, yet one I couldn't place. But I could somehow tell it was him. Nobody else from my group, or from the other three, perceived it - his call was seemingly destined only for me. He called my name, but not the one I'm given, not Jean Grey. He used another, which I had heard just in these dreams I had, yet I somehow felt, knew it was mine - Phoenix… And the way he did it - it was somewhat personal almost…intimate…” Both men's jaws almost literally dropped. “Yet, that was just the start. For, I didn't open my eyes, but followed his voice instead until...”
Jean opened her gaze and looked, completely puzzled, at her environs, as she found herself in a place, vastly different from where they had all landed mere seconds ago. He seemingly had transported her somewhere of his own liking. Darkness engulfed her fully, yet suddenly, an eerie glow surrounded her like a visible aura, or a force field of sorts, chasing the shadows away, making the place light up as if from a blaze. Fire? But there was none here…
And then she realised - it was like she had somehow always known…Looking down at herself, Jean saw that the glow had turned to real flames, which now swallowed up her whole body and she barely resisted the urge to scream. She was burning! But strangely enough it wasn't hot at all…if only it disappeared too…
Jean thought this so far had been shocking, yet when, as if on cue, the flames slowly withdrew, melting in her body, seemingly becoming one with her till they were no more, she was petrified. Not to mention that her normal dark-blue and green uniform had changed into what looked more like second skin. Scarlet and gold attire with a large symbol on her chest - a majestic golden bird, its wings spread wide and free.
Do not be alarmed.” he spoke again “For, there is no point in fearing yourself.” Jean felt anger rise in her, the glow appearing again “Why don't you show yourself? Or you're too much of a coward to face me and prefer scaring me with those visions? All that power I can barely control - I know it's you, who's doing this to me!” He, however, chuckled darkly “No, Phoenix, you do not know! Because if you did, you would not be here. But yes, I have answers - only some I have to confess, yet the real question, I deem, is whether you are going to believe what I am about to tell you.”
So, you admit it was you? And why do you call me Phoenix?” Jean addressed him again, although he still didn't appear, instead choosing to make his voice sound as if coming from everywhere around her “Yes, you could say that, to an extent, it was me who called to you now. Yet, the growth of your powers is, I'm afraid, not my doing - but your own. Just as Phoenix is your real name. As for what you saw, they weren't mere dreams, but a catalyst, needed to ensure you would experience what was meant to be, from the very beginning of Time…”
What I saw wasn't real, then… You sent them to manipulate me right into this trap.” His chuckle became even darker “No, they were every bit as true as can be. Besides, I would never make you come to me by force - and certainly not through deception. And I can't have - for, I am powerless to command your memories.”
Jean frowned “Memories? What is your game?” She nearly sensed the sudden gloom settling in his voice “Yes, they are memories - yours…I will never lie about that - and even if it weren't so, I cannot stop the process, unleashed by them starting to return to you… I only wanted to provide you with all I am familiar with on the subject. Because for millennia I have known this moment was going to come.”
I don't trust you and, truth be told, I never will - how can you even expect me to believe you're telling the truth? For goodness' sake we're enemies! This probably is some sick way you came up with to take me out of the fight, or use me against the others - why else would you kidnap me.”
She could almost feel the sadness in his invisible smirk, as he replied mirthlessly “You can always leave here if you choose to and I will not stop you, if this is what you want. But do you truly think me your foe? Your friends' probably yes, yet am I really yours as well? Is the world still black and white to you, who created it in all its shades of grey?” Jean felt her anger boil now, the fire from before awaking and engulfing her, seemingly connected to her mood or sentiments. What was all that nonsense - creating the world? Her?
And how dare he question her principles! How dare he question her…them…It was more than clear they stood on opposing sides, so of course he was her adversary too - how could he not know that? Letting her rage get the better of her and with the flames now blazing full force, she almost shouted at the empty space she was (or they were) in, hoping he'd finally appear from wherever he was hiding and explain - satisfactory, what was going on “And where on Earth or Hell am I?”
You did not answer myquestion, I'm afraid. Yet, I actually expected you to ask this in the very beginning. Still, the reply is quite simple, in fact…” And then, a tall, distinctly male figure started emerging from the remaining shadows, till he came out completely, red eyes blazing and Jean felt herself stiffen a gasp. He moved to her swiftly, with such unusual grace, his large, muscular frame now seemingly towering over her much smaller form. Thick, long, raven hair fell past his broad shoulders, framing his solid jaw and high cheekbones. His thin lips were unnaturally almost black and his skin colour was a strange mixture of both very pale blue and light grey, but in general, his features were not that bad to behold. If the colouring had been normal, she would have even called him attractive…Still, this creature, this…man, was light years away from the image they had seen, prior to their departure. “Welcome,” the mutant, or demon, in front of her said “inside my mind.”
Who…who are you?” Jean blurted out, unable to comprehend what was happening. He, however, was completely calm “Well, my dear, I thought you already knew this one. But I guess a real introduction will not hurt - 5000 years ago, I was named En-Sabah Nur, the First One. Yet, I prefer the name the world has come to know me by - Apocalypse. The bane of all unworthy mortals, the second of a new line - a race of gods!”
Jean crossed her arms, the blazes slightly subsiding “I thought you were always the first in everything…” she said incredulous and slightly sarcastic.
Ah, I can never be the first in this case - that place is already taken. But I gladly surrender it, since the one it belongs to is so amazing to behold!” Jean eyed him confused, but then something started plaguing her mind and she whispered, not liking the feeling at all “Who?”
He took her small hand in his much bigger one and lifted it to his lips, brushing them lightly over her knuckles, his scarlet eyes never leaving her pools of emerald. “Youare the original and the most powerful. In fact, there is no one completely like you, not even me - well; there is only the two of us anyway. Others exist too, who claim to be like us, but they are lesser, weaker, not getting close even to me, let alone to you, Phoenix - the Goddess of the Universe…”
Jean tugged her hand out of his grasp and backed away a bit. “No.” she shook her head, suspicion coursing through her “I don't believe a word you're saying - what's all that rubbish! Me - a goddess, creator of the world? The most powerful? It's simply impossible - I'm not even twenty yet! And you can't convince me you're Apocalypse. It must be some scheme that you - whoever you are, and that Egyptian madman, had cooked up to confuse us all! Hell, you don't even look like him, from what we know! ”
She expected him to attack, or at least get angry, yet instead, he seemed mildly amused at her outburst. His crimson gaze seemed to be boring into her very soul. However, she knew he wasn't attempting to invade her thoughts. Strange - she had never imagined an adversary would respect the privacy of her mind. For, she still had that foreboding feeling that he was an enemy - even if she wasn't familiar with his precise identity. Then, his expression changed back to seriousness “I had my doubts as to whether you would accept what I was going to reveal.” his tone carried slight disappointment “Yet, given the growth of your powers and the return of some of your memories, despite your reluctance to allow them to become part of your conscious thoughts once again, I considered that you were at least partly ready. Looks like I was wrong - you are still too naïve and righteous to accept you true self. Or our connection.”
He paused, turning his eyes away from her, till he found his voice again “You say I do not resemble myself, as far as you know. But just how much does any one of you truly knowabout me, of me? Yes, you have learned bits and pieces - mere facts, which in the end can tell you nothing. Your pathetic mortal friends don't know me.And I am truly pained to have to admit that youdon't, either. Not yet - not until you have remembered who you are…But all of you are still quick to judge and condemn. You too - just like them…” He turned towards her once more and Jean saw something totally unexpected in his dazzling red gaze - regret, and what strangely looked like a mixture of hurt and loss.
However, no matter what you think, this is me- the real me, the way I used to be so long ago. And now…now, I'm a divided man - just like you are still, and this image survived only inside my mind. For, all you lot know,is only a shell of who I once was, born into a body that is not mine…” His voice dropped close to whisper “I have been mistaken - the time is too soon. But what I have already set in motion cannot be stopped now. However, without you being whole, I am still too weak to truly continue on my own. I shall have to let that pathetic mortal girl think she can defeat me and go into slumber for a while again, making everyone believe I am permanently vanquished.
But when the trials of life have finally fully unlocked the door to your completion, I shall rise once more - this time forever, to aid you in going through it all, to help you remember…And then, you will be again who you always were - my Phoenix, my Goddess, my soul…” His scarlet eyes were not completely crimson anymore - only the background was, and he had normal pupils and irises, but the latter were pure white, boring into her again “I ask just one thing from you, before you go.”
Jean looked at him confused “What is it?” she asked softly, sensing in herself an odd reluctance to leave. He was so close to her, his face only inches from hers and now, on more careful look, she saw that a streak of his raven mane was actually colourless - like crystal. Not knowing exactly why she did the next, Jean reached out and lightly brushed her fingers over the lock, but withdrew them startled, gasping, when under her touch, as if it had awakened it, a silvery-white wave flowed over the crystal strand until it was fully coloured.
Don't shut me out…” was the enigmatic reply as Jean found herself unable, (or was it unwilling?), to break eye contact. Then, her own voice turned to him, with her feeling like it wasn't her saying the next, but knowing that it was “I will return - that I swear to you…Ten-Nar.” Immediately puzzled to the core by her words, Jean was, however, caught by utter surprise by their impact. Her companion's gaze was full of a strange mixture of pain and hope, his whole being oozing vibes of these two emotions “I'll wait till the end of Eternity, if need be, my Eternal Flame…”…
“And in a flash, I was back with my team - and not even a minute had passed.” Jean finished reliving her memory, while she relayed to the two men all but the bits she considered `too intimate' to share. Oddly enough, the Professor didn't seem to have caught onto her withholding these, but Erik had a strange look in his eyes - as if he was trying to decipher her. Or was suspecting she wasn't telling absolutely everything. Yet, he made no move to force her to spit it out completely. As if…he understood her reasons…
“But why...?” Xavier eyed her sadly and Jean could see what she, admittedly, had expected, but it didn't stop her from feeling hurt - disappointment. She sighed bitterly, sending silent apologies to her mentor and dear friend “I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it…Too many other things happened so fast and that particular encounter, however unusual, didn't seem to be that important. Besides, even if I had told you all, there was nothing any of us could've done to stop what is meant to occur. He will rise again, but now we know and can be prepared. He's waiting for something, though, this time and I gather, I'd soon be able to learn what exactly.”
Erik looked at her questioningly “How can you tell?” his concern from earlier still flowing in his otherwise steady voice. She turned to him “Because he has started calling to me again.” He opened his mouth to reply, but this time Charles beat him to it. Throughout the whole explanation, his expression had turned progressively darker and more scalding, as he addressed his one-time student “Jean, you were the last one I would have ever expected such irresponsible behaviour from. You, who best of all knows the dangers! And I am not talking about risks to the school or the students, for, I'm sure that you're more than capable to avert these, but the dangers to YOU! Letting yourself venture in his mind - what if you never got out? And to top it all, you still allow him to contact you - how didn't I sense this?!”
Calm and collected, but nonetheless more than stressing his point, and Magneto had to agree he had one when it came to the risks Jean had exposed herself to. She, however, seemed completely unabashed by his scalding, though Erik noticed the slight hurt in her gaze. He had to admit that Charles had overreacted a bit and it wasn't fair to blame Jean for deciding to take the initiative. Yet, he himself was quite curious as to how indeed had all this passed unnoticed by his friend, and as if having caught his thought, a small smile grazed Jean's lips, while she replied “You didn't sense him, because I concealed his presence even from you, Professor.”
Charles' jaw positively dropped and Magneto found himself gaping too at this display of pure power. Xavier was possibly the most powerful telepath on the planet and hoodwinking him must have taken incredible ability. He noticed Jean was actually a bit amused by their reaction. However, the same couldn't be said about Charles, who frowned at her and went on “Jean, I know that in the past years you had quite the traumatic experiences, but it is high time you realised it was NOT your fault! You couldn't have possible done anything different from what you in fact did, in any of these situations. You just have to accept you had no choice, so stop trying to punish yourself for something you're not responsible for. Because, that is exactly what you are doing by constantly taking all these reckless risks.” His tone, despite the frown, had been the fatherly one he usually used with her, the disappointment long gone.
Magneto, however, was puzzled as to what Xavier was referring to, still, he didn't miss the raw pain that swam in Jean's eyes and etched itself on the fine lines of her face. Yet, she continued on the point in a dark, cold manner, so atypical for her - she had always been serious, but nevercold, nor had she ever shown any traces of an inner darkness, Erik remembered. She had preserved an innocence, which many of her then age, lost quite early these days.
But as startled as he was to see her so changed now, he recalled her words from the previous night: It changes a person - leaves its traces on their soul. And it's not always for the better… He felt a sting in his insides and another foreign emotion ensnared his senses - longing to know her trials and give her understanding and comfort…
Jean's voice, however, brought him out of his reverie “True,” she said bitterly “I did what I did.” Erik was unsure whether she spoke of the present or the past, and sensing his compassion intensify, he reached out and covered her slender hand with his, squeezing it lightly, his fingers caressing soothingly the inside of her palm. Strangely enough, she didn't object or take away her hand, instead sending him a mental `thank you', as he felt her gradually beginning to relax.
“Believe it or not, though, I somehow knew he wouldn't harm me. And I think it's high time, Professor that you realised that I'm equally as able to protect myself. The risk was far from reckless. As for what I did - I believe, it was up to me only! And the regret and guilt are mine to feel, or not, if I choose to!” And with that, she abruptly stood from her armchair and departed, leaving a dumbfounded Charles and Erik feeling strangely bereft, when she took her hand away from his.
Magneto, still himself surprised by calm, respectful Jean practically snarling at her mentor, with such cold sarcasm, was the first to break the resulting heavy silence “You know, Charles, Jean's right. You can't baby them forever - she needs her independence, and I believe she is perfectly entitled to her own decisions and choices. And, besides, what you said was completely uncalled for. Whatever it is you were talking about, was obviously too painful to her and you are aware of that, so why, in all good's name, did you bring it up?!” he couldn't help reprimanding the telepath. Xavier, however, eyed him confused “Surely, you don't think that what Jean has been doing is to be commended - she endangered herself knowingly! And since when do you allow yourself to care, Erik? I considered you a man, who did not let his emotions be born easily.”
“That is beside the point - I have been through my own fair share of traumatising events and so have you! You know perfectly well the effect of talking about them on the participants - you are a telepath, for goodness sake! But that has seemingly failed to teach you any tact! And how do you expect Jean, or anyone, to trust you completely? Trust, if you have forgotten, has to be earned, yet your way of doing it is more than odd! Now I realise why you called me here - to actually give the others someone, who understands them.”
Erik saw his friend gaping at his tirade, but he didn't care as he stormed out himself and went to look for a certain, probably very upset, emerald-eyed redhead…
The wind swept her hair around her face almost violently, but she didn't care. She was boiling with anger inside, feeling her suppressed powers flare to life and struggle to get to the surface. How dare he! As if he, or anyone else for that matter, could possibly know what it was like! And he still dared judge her and then reproach her for her lack of trust. When had he turned into such a hypocrite?!
“I think that deep inside he has always been so, at some level.” She turned startled, to find the owner of the voice resting against one of the columns of the elaborate balcony. In the dying day the colours of the sunset reflected on his silvery tresses, making them glow with an eerie red-gold tint. His otherwise ice-blue eyes, now surprisingly held sympathy and…understanding… “I…How?!” she asked him, confused as to his knowledge of her exact thoughts, and he came to stand by her side, hands on the railing, explaining “Your thoughts practically shouted it. It was impossible not to hear - I didn't mean to intrude, though. After all, your mind is your own. Something, I believe, Charles should finally learn. Especially, when it comes to keeping what's inside it, to oneself - given he himself is really good at it…”
She looked again at the sunset “It's good to know, that there's at least someone, who doesn't make such a big deal out of me hiding the exact events.”
“You of all people, I'm more than certain, would not do it, without a very good reason and, considering that he had known you much longer and better than I have, I'm surprised he reacted so.” His hand came to rest once more over hers, squeezing it reassuringly. “I believe in you, though…” he didn't even know why he said that, but something inside prompted him to - an instinct, or subconscious reaction, he wasn't sure, yet he nevertheless knew he meant it.
“Whatever had happened is no reason for him to hold you back - whether with your powers' growth or your own…Although, I assume that it was far from pleasant in either case.” His gaze hadn't left her frozen profile, noticing the steely quality her eyes had acquired. As if sensing him looking at her, Jean turned and their glances locked together “Are your abilities still bothering you?” he asked in almost a whisper. “No.” was her simple reply “Not anymore. They were really hard to control but I managed in the end. To push them deep down, that is.” He nodded comprehending “So, it is just running away then…”
“I never use them fully, well - almost never. Because, if I let them out, they would engulf me completely.”
“You are afraid…from hurting people?” he unconsciously drew her shivering form more into the warmth of his body.
“That…and losing my sanity. Sometimes I think I'm going to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what I can do - if only I let myself do it. And my mind has trouble accepting it - that I can wipe out the Omniverse, if I wish…It scares me Erik and I can't stop dwelling on it.”
She did indeed look like a frightened child, searching for a safe haven from the nightmares and he found himself strangely willing to provide it. His hand gently stroked her scarlet tresses, as he felt her lean into his sort-of embrace. “You can reign in your abilities, Jean - there is still time and I can, no, I will help you with getting there, in any way I'm able to.”
She lifted an incredulous look at him “Why do you want to?” Why indeed, he asked himself, but found no answer, except one “Because Charles is unable and you know it too, I presume. That is the reason you didn't tell him, when your powers first started to increase. You felt he wouldn't understand and will see you only as someone he can't control, a danger. And he was going to do everything in his power to restrain you, to hold you back…”
Jean couldn't believe it, he seemed to be reading her mind, without being a telepath. “Yes,” he went on, having seen her startled expression “I know, because that was exactly the course I took with my daughter, by shutting her in that asylum.” Now she really was taken by surprise - she had never expected him to talk about his past, let alone his twins, so openly and least of all, willingly. Yet, now he seemed ready for it somehow - as if he had come to terms with it.
“I did what I did, only out of fear that I couldn't control her abilities. Still, the realreason behind was different than your mentor's. For, I left her there, because, as wild as her powers were, they were of no use to me. But Charles', I assume has something to do with what he had seen in Apocalypse's mind…or with his own fears. In either case, restraining you would've been the wrong way of dealing with it.”
“He still thinks he should do it, though, I saw a stray thought along these lines. Ha, as if he could - especially not now that they have developed almost fully!” she sighed sadly “I just wanted to know who I was, am, will be, Erik - this woman, one half of whom is me, and the other lives in my sub-consciousness. Apocalypse has the answers and I went to him and then let him come, so that I could learn them. It was nothing risky, damn it! Why does he have to make it sound like a life hazard?!”
Magneto found himself surprised - Jean swearing? He had never heard of her ever so much as think, let alone say out loud, a choice word, but he was amused by it, nonetheless. Especially, since it had made her eyes light up a bit.
However, when she brought up the risk part, it made him contemplate. Taste for the thrill, she had said. No, it had to be something more - there definitely was a deeper reason for Jean exposing herself progressively more to danger. Perhaps, there was some truth in Charles' accusation, that she used jeopardy to punish herself. But for what?
His fingers reached to cup her chin “I know that it's probably too painful for you to talk about it, but I can see that behind the all risk-taking, lays another thing you try to run away from. I won't ask you to tell me, if it will be hurting, yet you have to face it one day, I'm afraid, whether you like it or not. And it won't be less agonising, than it already is. Does it have to do with your powers? Someone got hurt from you using them?”
Ah, he finally brought it up. Jean knew he didn't want to upset her, not more than she already was. What surprised her, though, was that he did it with a lot more tact than she had expected. That and the odd sensation, that he wouldn't judge her, if she told, but instead would understand…She was numb already - telling wasn't going to hurt anymore than it did by now…
“It's the New Mutants…” Her voice failed her even now, as it always did, when she turned to the sore topic. Erik looked puzzled “What do they have to do with it?”
“It's because of me…that they're dead…”
Pure shock - that was the best way to describe his expression right now, Magneto thought. All those kids - dead?! He just couldn't bring himself to grasp it fully. Still, there was no way it could ever be because of Jean, but he had to know the whole story!
“When? How?” he found himself asking, almost on instinct, and her eyes dropped, as if he had accused her outright. “No, look at me - I have no intent to judge, never before I know the facts anyway. I simply want to hear it - that is, if you feel yourself able to tell. I don't want to force you into talking, if you don't consider you're ready…” That seemingly took her by surprise and Jean's emeralds met his sky-blue orbs again - she shook her head “Maybe it's time I let it out - it won't make it any better to keep it. After all, it didn't for the past three years.”
Was she starting to trust him? Nah, it couldn't be that - simply her trying to get it out to someone, no matter who, who'd comprehend, or at least try to. After all, he had so far…
“It was three years ago; we got a distress call from Scotland. Legion had apparently gone completely senile by then and enjoyed attacking people's minds, possessing them and then killing the host.”
“He was a maniac even before that.” Erik remarked and Jean agreed “True, but his last encounter with his father must have sent him totally over the edge - he simply enjoyed what he did. Relished in the control he had over others. It was like a drug to him - I saw it in his eyes then, when I, Cyclops and the New Recs went to confront him.”
She saw Erik open his mouth to ask a question, but a sudden yell startled both of them. “Miss Grey!” a girl's voice shouted almost desperately, causing them to abandon the story for now, as they whirled around to face the person who had called. A teenage girl of about fourteen stood at the door of the balcony, panting for air, yet still trying to talk as fast as she could, blurring some words in the process “Miss Grey…Kevin…he's at it again…we couldn't stop…him…half the Danger Room…destroyed…the simulation…the others are out cold…” She couldn't finish her sentence though, as Jean cut her off “Maddie, get the Professor! Is Mr Logan still conscious?” the girl shook her head and Magneto saw Jean's eyes darken with concern “It will be okay, dear, don't worry - just do as I asked and then go rest. I'll check on you when we've sorted Kevin.” the teen only nodded and left at top speed.
Magneto's companion turned to him “I must go - although, we'll finish this, I promise.” She made a move to leave quickly, but he caught her hand “Wait! I'll come too - you could use some help.” He saw her mind feverishly considering it and then she decided “Okay, just don't get in the way!” a small smirk forming at that last. And as they set off fast towards the Danger Room, her actually flying- something, which surprised him, since it wasn't from her teke, but he resolved to ask later, his own lips curled into a smile at having been the cause for her own…