DISCLAIMER: The following things belong to me: my sense of irony, my stunningly stupid sense of humor, my adult acne, and my pens.  The following things do not belong to me: The X-Men (no, not even Scott), the movie "X2," and the song "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence.

SPOILERS: "X2." Which, if you haven't yet seen, stop reading right now and plunk down the eight-or-more dollars necessary.  You will be amazed.

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  After seeing "X2" three times, I still cannot cleanse my head of the last scenes of the film.  Moreover, every format of radio station currently has Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life" on its playlist, and I can't listen to that song without perceiving it as a type of metaphysical, split-second conversation between Jean and the Phoenix force.  So out this spewed.  This is my first (and probably only) X-Men fanfic.

UNQUIET EMANCIPATION

With a weight on her heart, she made her choice.  As she descended the ramp, however, the heaviness brought on by fear and dread dissipated, leaving in its stead the airy crispness of certainty.  She knew what she would do, and she knew it would save them.

No longer shackled by the self-doubt that had taunted her throughout her admittedly exceptional life, even as recently as their strike on Liberty Island, she stood between the craft and the dam.  No sooner had she steadied herself for the arduous task at hand than she heard him call to her:  "Jean?"

But she steeled her mind from the probing thoughts of her mentor and focused on the ship.  She gave herself over to her powers, bringing the drained engines back online.  Just as the hum of the Blackbird's rejuvenated energy source began to calm and reassure Jean, her ears picked up on an awful sound--a cacophony of frozen bark cracking and air being forced to evacuate at a heart-stopping speed.  The angry gurgling of volumes of icy waters pulsed toward her, and she instinctively raised her free hand to divert the rapids around her and the ship.  Stray blasts of arctic water pelted her face and body, but she did not waiver.

She drew upon the reserves of her energy and strength, tapping any hidden resources, and did the unthinkable: She raised the ship from the cold ground with an unremitting awesomeness that, had she not been entirely mesmerized by her obligation, would have astounded her.  Never before had she tested herself and her abilities so unforgivingly.  Yet there was something more lurking inside of her, an assuredness that must have always been dormant, concealing itself in the recesses of her mind and soul.

She detected the myriad combating emotions coming from the ship, but rather than opening herself to her companions, she erected barriers to keep them out.  She would not be moved.  A fire twitched within her, yet she had no sensation of being in her body.  She was her mind.

Finally, she reached out to speak, to explain in the only way she could.

"I know what I'm doing.  This is the only way."

Satisfied that her friends were safe from danger, she felt a burst of heat in her mind, her eyes ablaze with unrestrained power like she had never before endured.  Although acceptance won out and overcame her, she did not want to end her life in a sea of blackness.  Regret over her decision never invaded her thoughts, yet the self-preservation instinct is colossally strong, especially in one who has been on guard against persecution for being "different" for so long.

"Goodbye."

Finally able to exhale fully, Jean lowered her hands and in an instant was absorbed into the flood.

* * * * *

How can you see into my eyes like open doors

Leading you down into my core where I've become so numb

Without a soul

My spirit sleeping somewhere cold

Until you find it there and lead it back home

"Jean."

A different voice.  It was there suddenly, full of heft and heat.

Wake me up inside

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

"I am fire, a force of life."

Another missive pierced her mind as her body remained pushed down by the numbing sea, seeping her last energies and her glimmer of life.

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

Save me from the nothing I've become

"You called out for aid. I answered."

The timbre was oddly familiar, something that had been with her for a while now, hiding in the light.  Her mind was collapsing onto itself, shrinking as the lack of oxygen constricted her very thoughts down to near nothingness.

Now that I know what I'm without

You can't just leave me

Breathe into me and make me real

Bring me to life

A foreboding quietly echoed in her ears, warning against a hastily made pact.  But the innate desire to stay alive is an irrefutable inclination in man and mutant alike, and she felt herself acquiesce almost without delay.

Frozen inside without your touch without your love darling

Only you are the life among the dead

She continued her descent while simultaneously ascending, cleaved in two, dying yet soaring, with a force unfathomable and terrifyingly breathtaking.

All this time I can't believe I couldn't see

Kept in the dark, but you were there in front of me

I've been sleeping a thousand years it seems

Got to open my eyes to everything

Without a thought

Without a voice

Without a soul

Don't let me die here

There must be something more

Bring me to life

"I am fire and life incarnate! Now and forever, I am Phoenix!"