Disclaimer: Marvel owns her. No money is being made, no infringement intended.

Note: This came about when Timey and I were discussing Jean. So. Her fault. This is set sometime (probably) during the second movie. No spoilers.

Rating: Well, PGish, but there's some graphicy violent-type stuff. Mention of suicide.

Turpentine Roses

by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Sometimes, she remembers them.

It can be something simple that reminds her. The way one of the students giggles a little too oddly, or one of Piotr's more outlandish artistic efforts. Scattered puzzle pieces in the students' lounge or broken egg shells while she's making cookies.

And then the memories are there crowding in and pushing at her, pulling, begging to be remembered and loved, too.

Jenny, first. Blonde and lithe and completely vacant when she looked at you. If she was looking at you. So often, she'd be staring silently at her latest puzzle, the pieces scattered halfway across the regulation gray carpet of the institute. Malachi next, his fingers stained with acrylics, the ends of his hair stiff with dried color. Karen, Terry, Phillip... Lauralee, her dark hair twisted and snarled as she threw herself again and again at the padded wall she was locked behind.

They hadn't let them have anything that could be dangerous. No magazines, no knives, no oil paints--Malachi had cried for days about that. Turpentine, once, and then never again --

An image smashed through, Terry sprawled on the floor, blood seeping out of half a dozen ragged cuts on his arms--he'd done them himself, his nails raking the soft flesh--whilst snot and worse dribbled down his nose. The vacant stare in his eyes was worse than Jenny's would become, for it was born of death and not madness. Though perhaps madness had been what caused him to tilt his head back and pour turpentine down his nose.

He'd been screaming before he died, his mind grabbing desperately around for purchase.

She'd died with him, felt that cold blackness gape before her and snatch him away.

Nearly followed him. But Jenny had been next to her, vibrant and calm, something that sparked in the distance, something light and whole--and she'd grabbed desperately for it. Beautiful golden-brown eyes had stared at her for a moment, the inherent vivacity sparkling madly.

Vacant eyes now.

Jean flinched and leaned against the wall.

The memories didn't normally catch her like this. But Rogue was so like Karen, the brown hair, the diffident smile--but Karen's eyes had been pale blue. Calculating and assessing as she carefully pulverized her egg shells during craft hour.

But it had been Karen who stopped her, the second time. Caught her with the razor in her hand.

"You don't really want to do that." Her tone had been even, cool. As if she didn't really care one way or the other.

Jean remembered her own suddenly nervous defiance. "I have to get free. I have to leave. You're all--you're loud. I can't stop the voices anymore." She never could. Not until later, until now.

"Are we? I suppose you could simply have asked us to be quiet."

"Doesn't work that way." She'd placed her fingers to her temples and whimpered. "When I'm not drugged, I can hear everything and everyone, and it hurts so much--I killed her, you know."

The abrupt statement didn't faze Karen, she'd merely nodded. "I know."

"I didn't mean to." Jean had whispered, eyes going distant. "But she was there, so vibrant and loud and Terry was dragging at me so..."

Something had flickered in Karen's eyes, but she'd simply nodded again. "It wasn't your fault."

"Wasn't it?" Bitterness had colored her words, then, and she'd laughed softly. "Even you think it was."

"She's not dead, Grey."

"No. Instead she's silent, staring at nothing forever and a day." Another laugh, this one sounding like something clawing its way out of her throat.

Jean shoved the memory away and straightened. There were things she had to do. She didn't have time to dwell on her past. The future demanded too much of her. There were mutant children to save.

But she wouldn't forget.

Perhaps she'd take the memories out one night, when Scott wasn't there. And perhaps she'd finally mourn.


Further Note: This was written to a very... appropriate soundtrack, I suspect. Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. And, causality being what it is, at a certain moment, 'Suicide Isn't Painless' began playing. I am amused.