By Seema

Disclaimer: Bryan Singer's! Marvel's! Not mine!

Author's note: Written for Penknife's 'first line challenge' found here.


Xavier’s office was cold.

Strange, I thought, considering what a beautiful day it was outside. I could see the sun playing across the green lawns, the light breeze swaying the upper branches of the maple and oak trees edging the property and above, the sky was a deep blue, not a single cloud against it. I turned away, jammed my hands in my pockets and stared at the professor, then across at Logan, who curled his lip up at me. And then finally, at Jean.

"What do you remember?" Xavier asked very softly. Jean didn't look at him, me, or even at Logan. I stood with my back to the window, my arms folded against my chest. Logan stood opposite me, next to the door.

"Intensity." Jean's voice was low, but somehow it filled the Xavier's office. "And then nothing." She blinked and then shook her head. "No," she said, and then she looked at me. I felt a sudden twinge of memory, of emotion. "Cold," Jean said. She gave a little, somewhat self-conscious laugh. "The water, I can't even tell you how cold it was. It just swept me away, this powerful force, and I let myself go." She closed her eyes. "And then it was almost as if I was burning up instead, and then--" she let her hands fall gently in her lap "-- then it was nothing." Jean paused briefly. "Then, you found me."

Xavier tipped his head slightly in acknowledgement. I hadn't believed him when he had told me Jean had somehow survived Alkali Lake. "I know what I saw," I had insisted. "She died, Professor. I watched her." Even six months after that watershed event, I still found it hard to contain my anger over what Jean had done. Yes, she had saved our lives, but she hadn't needed to sacrifice herself in the process. I had started to adjust to my new life, had discovered a new kind of comfort, and now the Professor was telling me it was all about to change. "I don't believe you," I had said hotly.

"You must trust me, Scott," Xavier had said coolly. "I believe Jean is alive. I believe I can save her."

That conversation had taken place just three days ago in this very office and now Jean sat in front of us. According to Xavier, she was still a massively powerful telepath and telekinetic, possibly even more powerful than he was. Only time will tell, Xavier had said, what a 'reborn' Jean Grey was capable of. In the meantime, he had told me, we must be patient, must help her away. And he gazed penetratingly at me and said, "Can I count on you?"

I had nodded, as the words had remained stuck in my throat.

"We are glad to have you back with us, Jean," Xavier said now, breaking into my thoughts. He folded his hands on the surface of his massive desk.

"You have been missed."

Jean nodded. When she spoke, her voice was soft, tentative. "Thank you, Professor. That--" she cleared her throat "-- it means... you do know, I mean, I do feel--" she stopped again.

Across the room, I looked at Logan. He tipped his head ever to the side, but his gaze remained firm on me. Flustered, I turned my attention back at Jean, saw that she'd seen me staring at Logan. Her lips turned up ever so slightly.

"Obviously, there have been some changes during your absence," Xavier said smoothly. "What you've been through, Jean, will require some period of adjustment. And we are here to help you. Myself, Logan, Ororo, and of course, Scott."

For the first time since we'd entered Xavier's office a half hour previously, Jean turned towards me. Her gaze was unflinching. I shivered.

"It goes without saying things have changed," she said without irony. "But I know I can rely on Scott." Her voice was cool, smooth, and confident now. "As I always have." In the light coming through the window, I thought her eyes shifted shade, turning almost yellow for a second. I blinked and thought, maybe it was simply my imagination, nothing more, nothing less. Jean stared at me, obviously waiting for a response. "Right, Scott?"

"Just tell me what you need," I said. My tone was crisper than I'd anticipated. At the other side of the room, Logan jammed his hands deep into his pockets. And I knew then, that he too felt the chill in the air.

~ end

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