Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: teen!Scott+/teen!Jean, Cyclops/Jean Grey, mentions of Professor X/Magneto
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,297
Date Written: 21 October 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
Scott wakes with Jean’s mind unconsciously calling to his. His eyes ache to open wide to see what has her so astonished, but his instincts override his desires. He reaches for his ruby quartz glasses instead and only opens his eyes once he knows it’s safe and he won’t blow everything and everyone around him to smithereens.
His room is dark. It’s late. He can feel that in the air around him although he doesn’t look at his clock. What on Earth is she doing up this late, he wonders, and what is she watching with such wide-eyed wonder? Could it be Magneto? But no, Scott already knows that’s impossible, because the old man has gone away every Halloween night ever since Scott has known him in this time.
There are rumors that he goes to Professor Xavier’s grave and other rumors still that he actually visits with the Professor himself on this haunting night. There are many theories about ghosts walking the Earth on Halloween night, but although experience has taught Scott to believe in ghosts, he’s not at all certain the Professor would deign to visit only Magneto if he does walk the Earth tonight. There are too many others he would want to see and too many more important things than spending an entire evening with the Master of Magnetism for the good Professor to want to spend his only night amongst the living with his old foe and friend. Scott knows there was supposedly something more between them, but he still doesn’t see it.
He pads barefoot through the hallways, following the signature of Jean’s mind. It’s still so weird to have his best friend’s thoughts in his head, but he knows it’s weird for her too. Plus it’s not as though their lives weren’t already weird when this latest development happened. It’s one thing to secretly love your best friend. It’s another entirely to love her and know that that love will bring heartache and death not just into your lives but into countless others.
In the timeline they’re trying to alter, his cherished Jean Grey became the Phoenix, and the Phoenix almost destroyed the whole Earth. It’s true that the only thing that gave Jean the strength to stop the cosmic entity was her love for Scott, but it had been her love for Scott that had first caused her to sacrifice her own life to save his and their team mates. If it hadn’t been for that moment, she probably would never have became the Phoenix, and the entity would never have had its attention brought to this planet that has so much less to offer than many of the other worlds out there in the cosmos.
Scott sighs. He might as well face it: Their lives are never going to be normal, and no matter what he feels for Jean, rather it’s only the friendship they share now or something more in which they can not afford to indulge, he can only ever be her friend. Nothing good can come from anything greater developing in them.
His stomach flops suddenly. He knows Jean doesn’t love him as anything more than a friend. What if she’s not really trying to call to him? He can sense that, at the same time her mind is shouting in astonishment, she’s also trying not to share whatever it is she’s witnessing with him. What if she . . . What if she’s with James or Warren or another guy? What if she’s . . . doing the things a girl does alone with a guy in these last night hours? Crimson creeps up Scott’s cheeks. What if he really, really shouldn’t be paying attention to her mind tugging at his?
He’s about to turn around and head back when Jean hisses at him, “Get low, and be quiet.”
His head jerks up. He hadn’t even realized he’d been approaching the stairs until right now. Jeannie’s eyes are big and almost luminous in the moonlight filtering in through the high windows and their sheer curtains. Scott opens his mouth to talk, but Jean places a finger on her nose and almost yells in his head, Hush!
He looks at her, puzzled, but doesn’t speak. She gestures for him to join her at the head of the stairs. He crouches low and crawls over to where she’s kneeling. She nods her head toward the stairs, indicating that he should look down. Scott follows her wide-eyed gaze and feels both his breath catch in his throat and a sudden pang strike his heart.
His mouth drops wide open. For a moment, all he can do is stare. Then his mouth slowly begins to work again. Jean quickly wraps an arm around him and covers his mouth with her hand. She isn’t wearing her uniform, and his lips tingle at the touch of her bare palm against the soft flesh of his lips. Be quiet! she reminds him.
Sorry, Scott apologizes, reaching up and slowly, gently taking her hand from his mouth. He turns his gaze from the couple dancing below them back to Jeannie’s own, astonished face. Is that . . . he asks, . . . really . . . us?!
She nods and looks back down the stairs to the woman swaying with the man. Both man and woman are gazing at each other as though they are the only ones in the entire world. It’s clear, from the intense looks on their faces and especially in their eyes as they dance together to music the awestruck teenagers can not hear, that they love each other.
It is, Jean’s mind whispers inside of Scott’s.
Scott leans back a little but keeps watching the couple. Wow, he breathes in astonishment. I know what everybody’s always said about us . . . about them loving each other, but . . .
It’s different to actually see it, isn’t it? To actually see them . . . us.
Scott shakes his head in wonder. How did he do it?
Do what? Jean asks. Kill the Professor? He didn’t. The thing inside of him -- the Phoenix -- did.
The Phoenix. A shiver runs through Scott as he thinks of the nearly omnipotent force. That monster has destroyed galaxies. It’s almost destroyed the Earth countless times. And it destroyed any chance Scott might have once had of loving a woman like the man below him loves his wife.
He sits back and wordlessly watches the couple dance. He tries not to think of all the things those two who are himself and his best friend, and yet also are not, have experienced and shared together. He tries not to think of everything of which the Phoenix has robbed them. He tries to pull his hand away when Jean’s hand finds his in the darkness, but he can’t quite manage to force himself to pull away from her. Instead, somehow, he ends up holding her hand.
I guess it’s true, Jean whispers at length, still awed.
What? Scott asks, still puzzled. That we love each other? Or did, anyway.
No. I . . . I knew that was true, she admits. But the whole ghosts walking the Earth on Halloween night thing.
I wonder how many of them do? Scott says. I mean, does this mean Magneto’s really out there somewhere meeting the Professor? Would he really waste his one night back on Earth with that man?
It’s not a waste, Jean says, to be with the one you love. If her hand tightens a little in Scott’s gentle grasp, he tells himself that he’s just imagining things.
But even so . . . why . . . Why here?
I guess because Jean -- that is, the older me -- was already here haunting me.
So Scott came to her. His next words are meant to be shared, but somehow they nevertheless leak through the connection of their minds. Like I came to you.
Scott -- Jean’s voice seems almost to breathe his name within his mind, but then she suddenly freezes. They see us!
Scott ducks back behind the railing, but even so, he thinks, It’s too late to hide now. He still doesn’t try to stand up out of his cover.
The shadows don’t keep the couple from seeing the kids, however. They seem to look right up into their eyes, Scott into his younger self’s gaze and Jean into the eyes of the girl she’s been haunting every moment for the last several weeks up until tonight. You have a lot to learn, the older Jean’s voice suddenly says within both their minds.
Jean rolls her eyes. “Don’t remind me,” she grumbles.
Scott’s hand tightens on hers. Jean! he hisses mentally.
“It’s too late, Scott,” Jean tells him as though she’s stating the obvious. “They already know we’re here.”
Down below them, the Jean still holding to her husband’s hand smiles. She looks different than her younger self has ever before seen her. She looks prettier and . . . more at peace. She almost seems to gently glow. “We’ve known since you first appeared at the staircase, Jean.”
Jean blushes, her cheeks turning as red as her hair. “You could’ve said something,” she mumbles.
“No,” Scott dismisses the notion, “not until we had you two together.”
His younger self frowns. “Why would you want us together?”
“Because we had something to show you.”
“This,” Jean answers. She raises their joined hands, then turns and kisses her husband’s cheek.
The older Scott again speaks, “Your future is yours to decide, Scott, Jean.”
The older, taller, more beautiful Jean at his side almost seems to smirk. “Don’t let us stop you,” she teases her younger self.
This time, it’s Scott’s turn to blush, but the older Jean just laughs. “We always have had a temper, but we’ve also always done well at controlling it. You think our romance is part of what doomed us,” she tells them, growing serious once again, “but you couldn’t be more wrong.” She squeezes her husband’s hand where she still has it raised with hers. “Our love didn’t weaken us. It made us stronger. It’s the only thing that gave us the strength to stop the Phoenix every time she came. If you choose that path, you’ll find strength there too.” She smiles at them, and for once, her smile is genuine.
“Don’t be afraid to love, Scott,” Scott’s older self tells him. “Use your brain, but don’t let it tell you not to love. Love isn’t weakness. It’s strength. Many times over the years, I did the right thing or made the winning move simply because I followed my heart, not my mind.”
“Are you . . . telling me to love her?” Scott asks in a hushed, emotional whisper, looking wide-eyed at his best friend beside him.
“No.” His older self shakes his head. “I’m telling you to choose your own path, your own love, but don’t be afraid of that path or that love, whatever or whoever it may be. I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. Follow your heart, and it won’t mislead you.”
Jean looks at her younger self. “Follow your heart, little tiger, and you will stop the Phoenix when she comes.”
“Speaking of coming . . . “
“We,” he says gently, squeezing her hand, “should be going.”
“Are you . . . really going to leave me now?” the younger Jean pipes up again.
Jean smiles at herself. “Yes,” she answers. “I’ve taught you what I can, and this is the final and most important lesson I can give you. Besides, my life may be over, but my story is far from finished. Isn’t that right, hubby dearest?” she asks teasingly and with a wink up at Scott.
He beams. “That’s right, beautiful,” he says, cupping her face in his loving hands. He kisses her, and as their kiss deepens, the two vanish from sight, leaving their teenaged selves gaping at empty air.
“Wow . . . “
Jean’s skin crawls, but she grins. “You said it,” she agrees, looking at Scott who’s still holding tightly to her hand.
They lean back against the wall and sit silently for a long time, gazing at nothing but still holding one another’s hands. It’s almost dawn when Scott finally breaks the silence. “Jean,” he says very gently, “I just want you to know, when the Phoenix does come, you won’t be alone.”
“I know,” she answers just as quietly and squeezes his hand.
“We’ll beat it. We’ll beat her.”
“I know,” Jean says again and squeezes his hand once more. She wonders, not for the first time, what it might be like to kiss her best friend again, but she doesn’t dare -- not yet, at least. Instead, they stay silent for a while longer, still holding hands, before she whispers, “Scott?”
“Yeah?” he answers when she pauses and doesn’t speak again.
She smiles. “Happy Halloween.”
Her smile grows as she hears his grin in his voice as he returns solemnly, “Happy Halloween.” He squeezes her hand again, and she knows whatever life may yet have in store for them, whether it’s future, past, or even present, they will beat it. They’ll win together as they’ve always been meant to be.