Chapter One: Scott's POV
It's really weird how your first impressions of people change. When I first came to the institute, Logan struck me as pretty intimidating, but over time, getting to know him has made me realise the softer side of him. I look up to him much, Ororo and the professor too. When I first met Ororo, I thought her a strong, independent woman, but previous experiences showed how vulnerable people can really be. The professor too.
As for Jean, whenever I think of her, it's sunshine (although it always has been). As far back as I can remember I met her when she was 13. I was 14 then. The professor brought her to the institute, saying that he could not afford to tutor her privately as the school was expanding in time. I thought the little redhead spoilt (she came from a relatively sheltered and well off background), and she probably thought me hostile. We were the only two students back then, and in time, we became the best of friends, constantly getting into trouble due to our mischief.
Life was so much simpler when she was just my kid "sister", so to speak. I 'lost' Alex back then, and in time came to 'adopt' Jean in place of Alex. She needed a big brother looking over her shoulder too, having had an elder sister before I came along. We were fine with this arrangement, and we clicked.
But lately, this brother-sister relationship has somehow...I don't know, like brother and sister never spoke to each other again. No, I didn't fall out with Jean, it's just that, overnight, we changed, and somehow, she appeared, totally different. I dared not touch her, fearing she might break, and just looking at her takes my breath away. No one looks at his sister that way. Someone kidnapped my sister, and replaced her with a goddess.
It was a brilliant Saturday morning. I was heading out for a drive, when I hear Jean call me from behind.
"Where're you going?"
"Out for a drive?" I shrugged.
"Can you accompany me to the mall, pretty please?" The puppy dog look was too hard to resist. I gave in.
"Sure." My throat suddenly went dry, and I barely croaked out a response.
"You're the bestest!" She gave me a huge hug. "C'mon, I've got lots of things to pick up for the prom next week."
I was as stiff as a pole until her tightened squeeze prompted me to return her gesture. I was still fidgety about her. The date last Friday didn't exactly happen. We had a mass outing to Egypt instead and as usual, saving the world got in the way. Jean and I have graduated from high school, and I totally forgot I actually asked her to the prom, or rather, she hinted. It was at the spur of the moment, and I didn't know how I managed enough courage to do so.
Right now, she was leading me out the door. We got into my car and took off. The drive there was a silent one, but it wasn't a long trip anyway.
The mall was pretty crowded, as usual, and Jean practically took me on a tour of the mall. I never knew so many shoe shops existed, until now... wait, it's still hazy in my memory, but I think I counted seven a few years back. Now there're thirteen, but that's beside the point.
A few years back, Jean dragged me shoe shopping. But for sport shoes, not stilettos.
She had just mastered her telekinesis, and was able to float objects ranging from books to chairs across the room. She was really excited back then, and having been admitted onto the school's soccer team was a double dose of joy for her. She wanted to pick out her new shoes, and so, I tagged along. It was a really fun romp around the mall, and she practically tried every shoe off the shelf. It was hilarious actually, and she would probably chase me all the way to the Brotherhood's boarding house if I ever told her that. What is with women and shoes anyway?
"Scott, what do you think of this one?"
"Hmm...erm...nice?" I was browsing through the sports section, specifically at soccer shoes.
"You said that for the last four pairs. I want an honest opinion."
"They all look the same to me, except this one has more straps than the previous two." Soccer shoe still in hand.
"I don't need those where I'm going." She grabbed the shoe and replaced it back on the shelf. "Now, what do you think?"
I shrug. "But you haven't bought your dress yet, how are you supposed to know which shoe?"
"I know I want my shoes specifically black. They match all colours anyway. So? What do you think?"
I could tell she was getting exasperated. And I was going to faint. I swear solving the shoe problem was worse than solving partial differentials. "Uh--"
Jean had gone to get another pair by the time I formulated a response in my mind. The pair she returned with was similar in design, with the strap buckle in a slightly different place. "This one?"
I was getting tired. And we still had to shop for her dress. Goodness. "Erm...does it feel comfortable?" I like comfy shoes, and I know Jean wouldn't want to have blisters by the time the prom ended.
"Good point." She took this pair off, and rubbed her heels.
She finally settled on a pair after ten tries, and a good couple of hours.
She paid, and then dragged me off to find her one perfect dress.
"You're not getting anything nice for yourself?"
"All suits look the same. I can pick mine later."
"I can pick mine later," she mimicked. "Well, we're not leaving until we choose one for you too mister. I want us to match." She gave me a sly grin, which personally translates into trouble, of any sort. I gulped, and sighed.
She must have caught that, and started smirking. "Men."
"What?" But she was already headed to the fitting rooms with three dresses in hand. What struck me was that they were all red. Jean never really liked to wear red. Or maybe it was just my shades.
Lucky for me, there was only a (short) row of red gowns, and she settled on one pretty quickly, thank the heavens. It had a plunging neckline, bared the back and showed off her curves.
"You are seriously buying that?" I was sceptical. Jean was usually practical. But now she was sensational.
"Why not? It's a once in a lifetime event." She gave me a wink and headed for the counter. She was surely not teasing me, or was she? Then again, her mischievous grin was a dead giveaway. And I was grinning too, and I didn't know why.
Shoes, dress...I counted. But that wasn't right, something was missing. "I'll be right back Jean. There's something I need to do."
"Get back here! We're not done with you yet!" She growled, and drew the attention of the cashier.
"I'll be back, I promise."
"And where have you been?"
"It's a surprise, so I'm not telling."
"I don't know what's so funny." She was irked, I could tell, not by the link, but through years of experience, one could tell from a person's body language and facial expressions.
"Come," she grabbed my hand. "I picked a few for you to try out."
I grimaced. Now she was shopping for me. Great.
Those that she picked were rejected. She said it was...I don't really recall, but something like it didn't suit me.
We sieved through the racks, and I decided I was going to make a bold move and pick one myself. One can only stand shopping for so long.
"Scott, where are you running off to again?"
"I want to try this one out."
"But I haven't seen it yet."
"You can judge it on me." The tone of my voice was slightly irritated. Maybe it was the shopping getting to me.
When I finally stepped out of the fitting room (stupid tiny cubical), her glare had suddenly turned into awe.
"What?" I was half-afraid she wasn't too happy about my selection, if not for her bright eyes.
"Not bad Mr Summers." She clasped her hands together. "You have taste."
"Thank you lady Grey." She chuckled. I had succeeded in making her laugh after five arduous hours.
The laughter died down. "I'm no where near that." She frowned.
"Yes, you are, in every way." I lifted her chin to let her eyes meet mine. We stood like that, lips just inches away.
Then, she turned away. "Ohmygosh, look at the time, we have to get going, or we'll be late for Danger Room practice. Let's get this to the counter and get out of here."
"The DR can wait. We haven't had ice cream yet."
"That coming from Cyclops?"
"Can't I be Scott for a change today?"
She laughed again. And I laughed too.
It's tradition to always end a shopping day with ice cream. And I'm proud of the fact I started it. Shopping makes me hungry. Or rather looking at Jean shop makes me hungry.
"Two cones please, one vanilla and one chocolate." I held up two fingers to the cashier.
"Nuh--uh. I don't want that."
"But I thought you like chocolate?" So much for a triumphant moment.
"I still do." She turned to address the cashier. "Could we change the order to a sundae instead? Thanks." I was stunned for a moment. She was speechless too, until the cashier prompted us.
"I am." We both answered in unison, and blushed slightly.
"I'll pay." I fish out my wallet and quickly paid before Jean could respond to that.
We were then ushered to a seat to wait for our order.
"Why the sudden change?"
"Isn't a change refreshing? I was beginning to tire of cones. I want to try something new." She was dodging my question.
"Isn't a little more quiet time together too much to ask? Or do you still want to catch the DR practice? We could get the cones instead and be off, just like that." She crossed her arms and leaned back with a humph.
"No, I didn't mean that, it's just...different. This change…this whole dating thing--"
She cut me off. "I didn't say this was a date. I just needed a shopping buddy."
Great, all's well isn't ending well.
"I uh--" The waiter approached with our order. Talk about timing.
"Forget it." She tucked in, and I followed suit.
We ate in uncomfortable silence. A few bites actually, then we started swirling the melted leftovers around and around. The vanilla started mixing with the chocolate, turning it into a pastel shade.
Why were we going around in circles? After all, we never went anywhere.
We swirled it around the cherry. I don't like cherries, never touched the stuff.
"Aren't you gonna eat the cherry? You don't like it now?"
"Huh. Oh...no no no...I--"
I fished the cherry out for her, and wiped it clean with a napkin. She glanced at me sheepishly and accepted it.
I watched her nibble on the fruit, cautiously around the stone. She used to just put the whole thing in her mouth, and then spit out the stone. I watched intensely.
She looked at me inquisitively.
"You used to just put the whole thing in your mouth, then spit the seed out."
She shrugged. "Sometimes, you just have to stop and take a look around, and appreciate the little things in life."
She looked up. I was still staring at her. And then she locked eyes with me. After all these years, Jean had become apt at finding me behind my shades.
"Sorry, it was rude of me to stare." I wanted to knock myself in the head.
"It's alright. Like I said, I was appreciating the little things in life."
So we sat, and stared. Over the speakers, a song started playing.
Remember when we never needed each other
The best of friends like sister and brother
We'd never be
Those days are gone now I want you so much
The night is long and I need your touch
Don't know what to say
Never meant to feel this way
Don't wanna be alone tonight
What can I do to make you mine
Falling so hard, so fast this time
What did I say, what did you do
How did I fall in love with you