Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Sean/Emma, mild Scott/Emmma and Scott/Jean
Challenge/Prompt: gameofcards Writing Pass It On: Serena Ryder's Electric Love (If you join, tell them Kat Lee of Team Clubs sent YOU!)
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death, Spoilers
Word Count: 2,572 (How's THAT for the first story of May? :) )
Date Written: 1 May 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
Her nights have grown sleepless again. She hasn't felt this way since her time with Generation X, the second time she was foolish enough to believe she could make a difference in children's lives, the third she was stupid enough to tell herself she was playing an important role in a family unit. She remembers those days well, perhaps too well. She thinks of them every day and reminds herself every night, as she lays down with a man she doesn't love, how easily the whole world can, and will if given the chance, turn against her, including the very people whose lives she's worked hard to save again and again.
People aren't grateful, not for anything. They are a callous, wretched bunch for the most part, eager to prosper on some one's pain and always desperate to pass the buck, as it were. She did what she had to to save those children's very lives. She killed her own sister before Adrienne could kill them, and yet, still, they turned away from him. Still, he turned away from her, the very man who first made her believe her redemption was possible.
Emma scoffs underneath her breath as the night wraps around her. He hurt her worse than any of the others, worse than any of the children or the countless people whom she had been foolish enough to allow to get close to her, including her own parents who had sealed her away to save their family embarrassment in an asylum and promptly forgotten about her because it was the easiest path for them to reach freedom of mind and heart. She wonders if their souls were ever free; she wonders if hers will ever be free.
She hears their screams every night, those final cries of the lives she's taken. She hears the accusations of family, friends, and enemies every night, telling her that she's nothing but a whore, a cold-hearted bitch, or both. She hears his gentle, wonderful Irish lilt verbally telling her apart sometimes every day and night, sometimes, like now, every time she closes her eyes.
It's been another year, another year and Cassidy still hasn't returned, another year and she's no closer to becoming the woman he wanted her to be than she was when he turned his back on her and walked away, allowing their team to dismantle, allowing their students to scramble, allowing some to walk back to their old lives and meager beginnings and others to drive themselves forward to their deaths. It's been another year, and she's no closer to being over him than she was the second time her heart broke as badly as when Selene killed all her cherished Hellions.
The others don't know. They don't understand. They can never guess how much any of her children, or Sean himself, meant to her. They don't know her, and she won't let them. She even keeps her new students at bay these days. She lets them think her heart is cold, frozen over as Bobby's said, and she cares for no one but herself, because that's far easier than caring again and having her heart broken again.
She lets them think the best of Sean too, but that's for different reasons. The man was a hero. He had truly wanted to save those people, but she had been with him when he had died. Though she hadn't seen him, or even been near him, in months, though they hadn't really talked since he had betrayed her and cast her aside after she'd made one of the greatest sacrifices she's ever dared to give to protect those of their students who had remained, she had still been with him when he'd died. She'd felt his pain, his horror, and his relief. She'd heard the words whispering rampant through his mind, that he was finally free, that he could be with Maeve or Moira or even both, that he never had to face her again, that he didn't have to tell her the truth.
And yet, she had known it all along. It was what had made the first days of their team together so exhilarating. It was what had made her believe in herself again. Sean Cassidy had loved her. He had never said the words aloud, because he was a man of too much honor and had pledged his love to Moira already before they ever became close, before he ever saw her as more than another enemy of his beloved X-Men, before he ever looked pass all her layers, all her barriers, all her protections, and saw the real her.
Every day, she had hoped he would let a little of that honor slip. Every day with him had been exciting. An energy and joy unlike anything she'd ever felt before had passed between them whenever they'd been close, whenever they'd touched, whenever they'd simply exchanged verbal barbs, even if it had only been through the telepathic links they'd shared for a while. Every day with him in her life had given her more hope. She'd hoped he'd be man enough to admit how he felt. She'd hoped he'd be honorable enough to end what he had with Moira, to allow the freedom of returning to Charles, who Emma had quickly deduced the woman still loved the few times she'd been around the two of them together, and ultimately, that he would come to her and admit his feelings for her.
She'd tried every trick in the book to make him admit how he'd felt for her, how he'd secretly loved her and longed to be with her. She'd even created enough new tricks that she could have written a new book all her own. But nothing had worked. Nothing had worked to make him walk away from the dying woman he pretended to love and toward a future with her, and in the end, when he'd had the chance to walk away from Emma herself, he'd taken it and supposedly never looked back.
He, like their students, had walked away from her, citing that she would never really change, that they'd been wrong to believe she could, citing that she couldn't change with the blood of her own sister on her hands and conveniently forgetting, or failing to accept, that she had killed Adrienne to protect them. They had betrayed her, left her in a place that, for Emma, had been worse than death. She understands too well why Sean saw his death as an escape, and yet, she's waited every day, like almost all the rest of the X-Men who have died, for him to return.
She realizes tonight that she should have known better. Yes, Jean, Logan, Scott, Ororo, Charles, Piotr, Kurt, practically all of the other X-Men have died and returned again, but there's been something different in every one of their deaths than in Sean's. They hadn't wanted to die. They hadn't been ready to leave their loved ones. But Sean had flown toward his death with hope in his heart for his final, peaceful escape. It had been granted.
He won't return, she tells herself, because he doesn't want to, and yet, she knows, tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, for as long as there is breath left in her body, which is really, especially on nights like tonight, beginning to feel its age, she'll keep hoping for his resurrection. She'll keep hoping he'll come back to her alive and ready to claim what they both felt between them but would never speak aloud. Perhaps she should have made the first move. Perhaps she should have told him she knew he loved her -- that she could feel his love for her every time they were together but for the last --, but he would have simply lied.
He would have lied like he lied to Moira every time they talked and he told her he loved her not because he did, not because he wanted her still over Emma, but because it was the honorable thing to do. The woman was dying, and he had refused to cause her more pain. She understands why he did what he did, why he lived the lives he chose, but it doesn't make it any easier. Nor does living a similar lie, bedding the X-Men's leader in order to keep a place for herself guaranteed in the team, any easier or more right.
As the night wind whispers around her so, too, do the voices from the past. Sean used to aggravate her with a burning fire, and yet he'd been able to make her laugh so easily, deeper and freer than anybody else before or since. She vaguely remembers how to laugh genuinely now. But along with all the good conversations they shared are the lies he told, the lies she accepted, and the lies she tells now.
"Are you coming to bed?"
"I . . . " Emma responds and stops, the words of another lie dying in her throat as she looks, genuinely startled, to see Scott standing patiently behind her.
He holds out a hand to her, and the lips she knows so well, the lips she ravishes every night and has already tonight, lift into a little, sad smile. "Don't think I don't know," he says.
"What?" she asks, her own lips suddenly dry and her heart -- that heart everybody believes is made of ice -- pounding fiercely in her chest.
"I know you loved him, Emma. Correction," he rectifies, licking his own, drying lips, "I know you love him. You wouldn't be with me now if you didn't think that it's the only way the others will accept you: that your being with me leaves them without a choice but to accept you into the team. I won't say you're wrong, but I will say they're blind and naive. They don't see the wonderful woman for whom I've come to care so much, the one I call my best friend these days."
"Scott -- "
His fingers curl toward her. "Come to bed with me, Emma."
She glances back at Sean's grave. "I'm not sleepy," she says in a cold, odd voice that almost sounds detached from her body.
"I didn't say anything about sleep -- " Her ice blue eyes cut sharply back at him. "Or that. Just come to bed with me. Let me hold you. You can keep thinking about Sean. You can even tell me about some of the moments you shared together." When she doesn't answer, he adds, "It's cold out here tonight, and you're barely dressed."
She smirks at him. "Well, I am dressed."
"I didn't say you weren't," he speaks patiently, not understanding her reference to another moment she shared with Sean what now seems like so very long ago. "But come to bed with me," he says again, stepping closer to her while still holding out his hand. "I'm lonely too. I'll listen. I want to listen. You've certainly listened to my stories about Jean more than enough."
She smirks again at that. She has listened. She has listened to how wonderful Jean Grey was again and again, and despite what they tell the team, despite what they show them, she knows his heart truly belongs to his dead wife, just as Sean's truly belonged to her although he tried his very best to make it belong to his own dead wife or dying fiance. She wonders, not for the first time, if Moira hadn't been dying, if Sean would have left her and admitted his feelings to Emma, if they could have been together then.
"Probably," Scott whispers. Emma glances up at him, her gaze having returned, thoughtfully, to Sean's gravestone. "But he was a fool to give up what he could have had with you for a lie with another woman, even if she had been dying."
Emma nods, accepting the truth that passes between them. "He was a fool, but he was an honorable fool, and I -- I loved him." She gasps with the pain of the admission. It's the first time she's ever told any one that.
"No," Scott says gently, closing the distance between them, taking her hand in his, and threading their fingers together. "You love him just as I love Jean and always will. We go on in this world, rather we want to or not, because we must. We must for the younger generations, for those mutants still growing into their powers, for the ones who can't fight, for the ones who don't know how or haven't even been born yet. We fight -- we live for them, and sometimes living is the hardest thing to do."
She nods. "Sometimes it is," she agrees, again remembering the relief Sean had felt when he'd known his death was finally inevitable and knowing she herself has searched for her own death far too many times though she's never, ultimately, taken the easy way out. She wonders now if that's perhaps because she's still waiting, still hoping, for Sean to return to her.
She couldn't sleep back during Generation X's early days,back during their early days together, because she'd been too eager to spend more time with Sean and see what his next move would be, how he would next make her laugh, how he would smile at her again, how he would love her even if he would never admit the truth to her or even to himself. But now she doesn't sleep for another reason. Now she spends every moment she has to herself thinking of him and wondering, anticipating, hoping breathlessly that he will return to her after all.
"We'll wait together," Scott says, pulling her close and wrapping his arms around her. "I'm still waiting for Jean to return."
His arms around her feel comforting. The beat of his heart is true, and she knows he genuinely cares for her, even if he doesn't love her. Nevertheless, the possibility of Jean's return still concerns her. He kisses the blonde hair over her ear as he whispers to her, "There will always be a place for you here, Emma, with me, if not with the team." He rubs her arms, trying to rub a chill from her skin of which she's not even aware, and holds her closer.
She nods against him and lets her lead him back to their bed, her fingers entwined with his, but not without one last glance, for tonight, at Sean's undisturbed grave. Scott may not love her as Sean had. She might not love him as she claims to. But he does care for her. He does love her as a friend, and in the end, Emma fears, that may have to be enough. Sean may never return to her -- nor Jean to Scott this time --, and they may have to be enough for each other.
For the sake of mutant kind, for those generations yet to come and those already born but who can not fight for themselves, it will have to be enough. Emma's hold tightens on Scott's hand. They will have to be enough for each other and for the lives for which they fight. They will be, and that, she promises herself as much as those she risks her life every day to protect, if not more so, is not a lie.