It was a bright cheery morning that greeted Jean on the day she was scheduled to register. They had to make special arrangements because she was a high profile case. She even had to stand in a little trial, and that made her more nervous, adding to all the jitters she had already accumulated. Scott offered to be by her side just to hold her hand and provide her moral support. Furthermore, they had to go to Washington DC especially just for this. The daily gathering of humans protesting against mutants (letting them still roam the streets freely) was already formed outside the 'Mutant Registration' building when the professor's Rolls Royce pulled up.
Scott looked out of the window at the angry protestors armed with signs and even a few with eggs and tomatoes, some of which already smashed onto the windscreen. He set his jaw and glared behind his shades. The glasses were not necessary, but Scott was not willing to take any chances. Beside him, Jean was staring blankly ahead and shivering slightly.
"Jean? Are you alright?" Scott took her hand in his and rubbed it gently.
"Their voices, their anger," she rubbed at her temples.
"Don't worry, they're not supposed to hurt us if we don't hurt them. I'll protect you."
Jean nodded silently, suppressing the flaming anger that threatened to surface.
"Ororo, I would like you to wait here." Charles Xavier instructed firmly. "Scott?"
"I think Jean would like me to accompany her."
"Very well. Just remember, no powers under any circumstances."
Scott stepped out of the car to help the professor into his wheelchair and then Jean out of the car. The chants and curses got louder, but he tried his best to ignore it. Seeing that the men had worn their inhibitors, the crowd stepped aside to let them pass. That was until one of the protestors spotted Jean without an inhibitor and another threw a tomato at her, but missed and landed on Scott instead. Then another came flying in Jean's direction and instinctively she threw up a telekinetic shield and it was deflected to the pavement.
"Jean," Scott hissed through his clenched teeth.
"What? And just stand there and let them do that to you? Scott!"
"Jean, please." Scott held onto her arm and pushed her lightly forward, urging her to continue walking.
A man in a suit at the front of the crowd (appearing to be the leader of this demonstration) signalled a time-out to the crowd to stop the food throwing and the shouting. He managed a cold smile to the trio as they passed him.
"At least some people maintain to be civil," the professor made a passing remark. Scott wiped as much pulp off his soiled jacket as he could.
Entering the building, they had security check verify their identity cards against their inhibitors. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff of the special mutant task force under S.H.I.E.L.D. were present to escort Jean Grey whom the department had labelled as 'dangerous' into the court room. The twins were frequently called upon to deal with dangerous mutants due to Wanda's hexing ability and Pietro's speed. As they marched to the door of the court room, Pietro held Scott behind while Wanda led Jean and the professor inside.
"I'm sorry, but you're not permitted to enter, Mr Summers."
Scott threw Pietro a stern glare, but settled for a "Fine, I'll wait outside" instead.
As time passed (while the trial was ongoing), the two arch-enemies found themselves engaging in a little civil chit-chat. Times were different now.
Scott jumped to his feet when the doors finally opened and out poured a stream of people. Scott spotted Jean with Wanda and wanted to call out to her. But the professor wheeled up to him instead.
"How did it go? Is Jean okay? Where're they taking her?" It came out as an anxious chain of questions.
"It went fairly well, better than I'd expected and could hope for." The professor's expression was grim. "They're taking her to the examination room to deal with her inhibitor."
"So everything's okay now?"
"We got the best end of the bargain, Scott. They actually petitioned to have her locked up and put away...the judge's sentence was a permanent inhibitor instead."
Scott just blinked.
"Would you mind if you waited here Scott? I owe a great thank you to the judge." The professor said, then turned and wheeled down the hall.
"Your honour, Professor Charles Xavier is here to see you."
The judge, appearing to be a woman in her fifties, dismissed her secretary as she invited the professor in.
"You wanted to see me, Professor Xavier?"
"I would just like to say thank you for saving Jean, Raven."
She looked up from her papers. "Times are bad; I'm doing what I can to protect us, Charles."
Charles Xavier just smiled back.
Jean jumped. "Scott, you startled me."
She smiled, but it was sad. "It's okay. I've come to rely on my telepathy over my senses too much."
Scott walked over and put his arm around her shoulders.
"I've forgotten how beautiful the sunset is." She sighed gently.
"How do you feel Jean?"
"It's...quiet. It takes a little getting used to that's all, without the TP and the TK..." Jean trailed off and Scott held her closer and tighter. "I couldn't remember the last time my mind was peaceful. Keeping my own thoughts to myself, not being able to hear others...why couldn't they have just come up with this when I was ten?" She sniffed as her eyes began to water. Scott rubbed her shoulders. Jean pressed her head into the hollow of Scott's neck.
"Could you love a murderer Scott?" Jean asked after some silence had passed.
"Jean, if it's about that..."
"I don't want to hurt you, or anyone else."
"You're not going to. You have this." Scott pointed to her inhibitor.
"How do you know it works?" Jean looked up into his eyes.
"You know it does. Jean, we're all here to help you."
"But I'm not like you anymore," it came out harsher than Jean had intended it to be. "With this, I'm normal, I don't fit in anymore."
"You'll always be one of us Jean, no matter what."
"I...I don't know what to think anymore...I've killed people Scott, what if the Phoenix isn't just solely part of my powers?"
"I know you Jean. You wouldn't hurt any of us."
"Do you really know me Scott? I donít even know myself anymore..." A lone tear slid down the side of her face. The sea breeze stirred her hair. "Sometimes I wished I didn't have any of my powers, but now, I feel that a great part of me is missing. I'm so confused."
"You're more than just defined by your powers Jean."
"Easy for you to say."
"C'mon, it's getting cold. Let's go back inside. Dinner is waiting."
It was an ordinary midsummer night when the pair embarked on their after dinner stroll through the gardens and along the lake shores.
"Here," Scott made a swiping gesture as they walked past the blossoming rose bushes and plucked a flower off its branch. "For you," he presented it to Jean with a smile.
"Scott, Ro will kill you," she exclaimed in a hushed tone.
"Shh..." he put his finger to his lips and led her away with a hand on his back. Jean contemplated swatting Scott with the rose, but thought otherwise. The rose was too beautiful to spoil.
The waves washed ashore gently as the two of them walked barefooted in companionable silence, leaving a trail of footprints in the sand.
"So much has changed since I..."
"Yeah, it has," Scott replied as he kicked sand into the sea.
"The Institute has grown, all the new students, I don't think I can keep up..." Jean tucked a stray strand of hair that was blown into her eye behind her ear. Wrapping her arms around her, she looked up into the sky.
"So, you talked to the professor about going back to Columbia this fall?"
"He said he'd help me pull a few strings. I missed what...two years? I practically just disappeared," she dismissed with a lighthearted laughter.
Scott just nodded.
"I mean, you're out of school and teaching at the Institute, even Kurt is this close to graduating." Jean fingered the satin petals. Had it been that long? She looked up and into Scott's eyes. "How long have you been like that? Without the glasses?"
"About two years now. Just after they passed the MRA."
"Can you see...in colour now?"
"Well, sorta, I guess...Initially, due to the years of ruby quartz, my eyes still automatically filtered out all colour except red. Gradually, my retina started recognizing colour again...I mean there's still this slight red haze, but I can make out green from red...like your eyes," he reached out and brushed his thumb over her left temple at the level of her eye, "definitely a brilliant emerald green." He leaned in for a kiss, but as soon as his lips made contact with hers, Jean flinched and turned away.
"I'm sorry I..."
"It's okay," Jean turned her back towards Scott. She did not want him to see that her eyes were watering.
"Jean?" He spun her around gently and pushed away the hair that fell onto her face. "What's wrong? If it was about what happened just now..."
"No, it's not that, it's...I've a lot on my mind right now I..."
He pulled her into a hug as she started crying. "Shh...it's okay, everything is okay..." They stood there for awhile, bathed in the glow of the moonlight.
"Ted, get your hands off me! Get off me!" She felt him touching her all over.
"Aww come on babe, don't you like it?" He bent down and kissed her deeply. Jean felt powerless to do anything; she was completely drained of her strength and retaliation was futile. She started to cry as Ted climbed on top of her and proceeded to rape her.
"Stop it! Please!"
"Stop it..." Jean murmured in her sleep.
"Stop it!" Suddenly, she felt a surge of anger. Those familiar flames returned to her eyes and she found the strength to hurl Ted off her. Just then, Ted's appearance morphed into that of Scott's before he was abruptly flung out of the car, crashing through the windscreen and flying across the car park, engulfed in flames.
"No! Scott! Oh no...what have I done..."
She shuddered at the thought of her dream; she was probably still reacting negatively to intimate touches due to her encounter with Ted which almost resulted her in getting raped, if not for the Phoenix...the Phoenix...what if she did not have the inhibitor and Scott ended up like Ted? Jean could not bring herself to think of such an outcome.
She drew her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and rocking back and forth. She had potentially hurt a lot of people, and she could do very well do it again. But she could not risk hurting everyone in the Institute, not the ones she loved dearly. "Why me?" She sobbed softly, head buried in her knees.
Scott tossed and turned in his bed. He was still wide awake at past two in the morning. The events of his evening stroll with Jean kept playing in his mind. Scott wondered how Jean was coping, the Phoenix fiasco that had nearly ruined her life and put her in a coma, and then waking up to find your whole world turned upside down, living with those memories haunting her and being denied the use of her powers that have become second nature. Jean was taking baby steps on the road to recovery, but he could tell that she was still shaken from the blow life dealt her. Scott wished there was more that he could do for her; the most he could do was hold her hand through this and let time heal the wounds.
He sat up and stretched, wide awake and restless. Rising and exiting his room, Scott found himself walking in the direction of Jean's old bedroom in the old wing of the mansion. Something inside of him just wanted to be Jean right now, even if to watch her sleep and to be there by her side when she woke up. Slowly but surely, they'll work at repairing their relationship.
Scott padded through the quiet carpeted corridors. Approaching Jean's room, he could hear soft cries coming from within. He opened her door and peered into the darkness. The faint light from the corridor fell upon her huddled figure on the bed. "Jean? Jean, is everything alright?"
Jean lifted her head, the mess of her hair falling all over her face. Sniffling, she squinted to see who had come knocking on her door. "Sc...Scott?" He stood there for awhile before taking quick strides toward her. "Scott, don't...stop, don't come closer...I don't want to hurt you...don't want to hurt you..." Jean wrapped her arms and covers over her knees, inching away from Scott.
"It's okay Jean. Nothing bad is going to happen. You're not going to hurt me." Scott wrapped his arms around her shoulders. She flinched slightly upon first contact then sank into his embrace as he rubbed the sides of her arms up and down in a soothing manner. "It's okay. You probably just had a bad dream." Scott held her close in a gentle hug, taking care to leave her breathing room.
"I...I dreamt that...you were in place of Ted. I killed you like I did him. I didn't want to...it just happened...I couldn't stop myself..." Jean felt the tears welling up in her eyes again. Scott rubbed a thumb over each one that fell.
"I trust you Jean, you're not going to hurt me." He drew her closer and kissed her on the top of her head. "You'd never hurt anyone."
"But I did kill him!" Jean pulled away. "And others as well. They didn't have to die, but they did, because of me!"
"You were only trying to protect yourself. They hurt you; you were merely trying to fight back." Scott reached out towards her again.
"I didn't want to kill them, yet I did..."
"You didn't kill them, the Phoenix did..."
"But the Phoenix was me! There's so much guilt...and what if I became Phoenix again and hurt more people and --"
"I thought the Phoenix was taken care of, Jean --"
"-- especially the ones I love --"
"-- Jean, that thing is not going to bother you ever again."
"But somehow, I still feel her at the back of my head...maybe it's better off if I was dead!"
"Donít say that Jean! I wasn't better off when I lost youÖI'm not losing you ever again." Scott held onto Jean tighter.
"Do you think, you could stay for while..." Jean let out a soft yawn. Exhaustion was getting to her.
"I thought you said you didn't want me to stay --" he caught the glare in her eyes. "Just joking...I'll stay the whole night if you want me to." Scott rubbed the back of his neck. He helped Jean settle back into bed, pulled the covers over her and dragged a chair to her bedside. Jean then sat up abruptly and pushed the covers away. Scooting to the other side of the bed, she patted the empty spot beside her invitingly. "Just like old times? I really missed having something warm to snuggle against."
"You sure...uh...this bed is big enough for the both of us?" He sat down on that spot and slipped his feet under the covers.
"Hmm..." was the only answer he got from Jean, who appeared to be almost fast asleep, her head against his thigh. He shifted into a comfortable position with his arm around her, and began to drift to sleep soon after.
When Scott cracked his eyelids open, it was already morning. Jean was still soundly asleep, back against his chest, nestled in his arms. A lazy and contented grin spread across his face. He dared not move a muscle lest he break Jean's peaceful slumber. With his free hand, he absently toyed with the end curls of her hair, inhaling the rich scent of her shampoo. If he could wake up to this every morning, he would be a very happy man.
"Mmm...that tickles..." Jean began to stir gently, rolling over to turn and face him. Her eyelids fluttered open, and the first thing she saw was the browns of his eyes.
"Mornin'," he breathed, still tugging on a lock of her hair.
"Mornin'," she beamed and shimmied her body closer until their feet touched. Jean pulled the covers up to her chest, and nuzzled against the cradle of his shoulder. Her red hair fanned out on her pillow.
"Had a good night's sleep?" Scott asked.
"Yeah, you were always good at chasing the monsters away." Their feet were now engaging in a very interesting game of footsie. "The bad feelings are mostly gone. I feel much better now."
"I'm glad to hear that." Scott leaned in to rub the tip of his nose against Jean's in an Eskimo kiss.
Jean started giggling, and Scott propped himself up on an elbow to gain more leverage as he rubbed his nose harder against hers. Jean's hands suddenly found their way along his shoulders, up his back to the nape of his neck. He leaned in for a kiss on her lips, one that she returned with passion and hunger, combing her fingers through his tousled hair.