Chapter Eleven: Home (Jean-Paul, et. Al.)

                Once she could speak again, Jeanne-Marie had told him about it. About what Sinister had done to her, and to Pietro. She told him that Sinister had wanted to know if he, Jean-Paul, would feel it when he hurt her.

                He had.

                The memory of it, of arriving at the castle Remy had shown them to, of suddenly feeling that sensation in his mind. Like someone was burning her, from the inside out. Scrambling her signal, making it feel… wrong. He'd become so used to it, in the time they'd been together. So sensitive to her, when he thought about it.

                Her mind had been screaming for him. That much, he could feel. Even when she was in so much pain, even when the submissive, frightened Jeanne-Marie she had within her was in control, she still believed he would come for her. He wanted her to know that he was there. Tried to think it over and over again, "I'm coming". But he didn't know if she could hear.

                She said she couldn't remember, when he asked. She sometimes didn't remember things, when the emotions were too extreme, so he still didn't know if she had or she hadn't.

                It had been three days, and he still could not shake the feeling of it. Of her absolute terror. It had no shape, no words. He was not a strong enough psi for that. In fact, the Professor believed that Jeanne-Marie was stronger, projection wise, which probably explained the intensity of the feelings. 

                Jean-Paul was good at shutting people out. Jeanne-Marie was good at letting them in. He thought that suited them, really. Whether or not it worked outside of their link, or on the very small percent of the population with strong telepathy, as it seemed to with the Professor, remained to be seen.

                He couldn't shake the nagging feeling that it had been his fault, their fight. And not because of what he'd said. But because he knew damn well that he'd shut her out, and was afraid that was what had sent her to her room crying. And now, his fears were almost entirely confirmed, now that he knew he could, in fact, shut her out entirely.

                He tried not to think about it. But every time he looked at her now, he couldn't help but remember that he'd almost lost her. And before he'd apologized. When she still thought he didn't love her.

                He'd come to the conclusion that Scott had been right, just before the battle. His sister was troubled, anyone could see it. And if he loved her, he'd have to take care of her. And if she needed affection, he'd have to make sure that she got it in an… appropriate way, if necessary. The passive-aggressive thing wasn't going to work. Particularly not when she was feeling more outgoing. He was likely to end up with a busted lip, on those occasions, not to mention wounded pride. His face and his pride were two things he was not about to sacrifice, for the sake of being obtuse.

                No, he'd decided to tell her that he had been out of line. She would undoubtedly do the same, and all would be well, no one the worse for the wear. At least, that was the plan. He was never good at apologies. In fact, he couldn't remember the last time he'd made one, to anyone.

                Perhaps he wouldn't say I'm sorry. But he would think of something else. Something to let her know. But he never got to, before they took her.

                And in the end, he'd said it over and over again. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

                Holding her, as she cried silently. He'd resisted the urge to do the same, whether because he was so drained, or because she was, he would never know. Not there, not in front of all of them.  Not that he really noticed who was there, but he felt them looking at him now and then. And he didn't care enough to look back, or to calm down. Just enough not to cry.

                "There are two very distinct personalities in your sister. One, she associates with the little girl at Madame DuPont's, Jeanne-Marie. She is scared, unhappy, and extremely fragile. She does not seem to have a grasp on the reality of the everyday life of your sister. She is introverted, does not speak English well, and does not appear to recognize anyone as friendly, with the obvious exception of yourself. When something traumatic, or painful, happens to her, this personality tends to take control. It can release her slowly, or quickly. We've seen evidence of both. It can be a matter of a day, or a few hours. Possibly longer, or shorter."

                Jean-Paul just stared. Jeanne-Marie had been sent away, after the session. Her third deep session with the Professor, to try and eke out just what was happening to her.

                He was stunned. Of course, it made sense… but he didn't want to accept it.

                The Professor was continuing, however, and he made himself listen. He had to hear this. He had to know.

                "The second is a personality she associates strongly, now, with Aurora, her code name. This is a vibrant, outgoing, dominant young woman. Almost the exact opposite of Jeanne-Marie, she wants to take risks, and thrives on adrenaline. This personality seems to become dominant when in a dangerous situation, such as in the Danger Room or any time she feels too stifled and needs to be free. Its hold seems to have a similar duration. This is the side of your sister that causes her to… behave recklessly at times."

                He winced, though mostly internally. The side that caused her to throw herself at every male in a five mile radius, no doubt. Lovely.

                "But the two are not always so mutually exclusive. I cannot say for certain, yet, but it seems that they either have joint control, or that there is a third personality that provides her with the middling, everyday persona we know as Jeanne-Marie around the house. She is quiet, but she knows when something needs to be said, or done, and she knows what she wants. Sweet, thoughtful, intelligent, but with flashes of jealousy, need, and temper. In short, a normal, well-adjusted teenager, for the most part."

                Jean-Paul put a hand to his temple, and rubbed at it. It did nothing for the headache, however. He hadn't really expected it to. But god, this hurt. "What can be done for her?"

                Xavier was watching him, carefully. Speaking in a carefully measured tone. Brilliant and helpful and infuriating all at once. "I believe what we are doing is what's best for her. She should not be treated as an invalid—she is anything but. Your sister is more an asset than a liability to anyone who knows her, and she's proven that repeatedly. I have considered removing her from the team, but I fear that not only would it encourage her to retreat more into herself, but also discourage her development into her full potential."

                "Mutant potential, or personal?" He knew it sounded sarcastic. And he'd meant it to. Honestly, he knew Xavier wanted what was best. But he couldn't shake the nagging feeling that his sister was still being used. To forward this man's goals, now. And Jeanne-Marie did not need to be used for anyone else's goals, no matter how noble.

                "Both," Xavier nodded, gently. "However, she needs your help. And so do I. I'd rather not use drugs—,"

                "No," he interrupted immediately, "she won't let you anyhow."

                Again, he nodded, "I believe you're right. And the extreme personalities only take control of her under extreme circumstances, so I feel she is in very little danger, here at the Institute. The memory blackouts they cause her could be problematic, but in this fairly controlled environment, it seems they  are unlikely to emerge. We should be vigilant, however."

                He just nodded now, closing his eyes. The light was hurting his head. Oh god. Jeanne-Marie.

                "I will talk to her about this, in a later session. If you like, you're welcome to be present, so long as she still wants you here. And I have a feeling she will. I'm telling you now, because I want you to be aware of what's happening to her, and what it means, immediately. Your link to her can provide us with the best information on how to help her, and how she's reacting to the world around her when she becomes unresponsive. And your love will keep her grounded, more than anything else here can."

                He opened his eyes again, at that, and met Xavier's. "I have a temper."

                The older man understood. "So does she. And you will fight, you're both too strong not to. But it won't always cause her to retreat, once your relationship is better established, and once she can trust in you more fully."

                "I shut her out," he admitted.

                It had been making him crazy, really. Thinking of what he'd done. He hadn't meant to, not really. But… he had. And look what it had done to her.

                "Yes, and it may happen again," the Professor told him, slowly. "But you will pull through the difficulties. And we will all be here when it happens. This is not your fault, Jeanne-Marie's disorder. She was subjected to far more than any child should ever have to see or feel, and at a very young age. This is simply her psyche's way of dealing with the trauma. You are not responsible. But you can take some responsibility for her, in the future. If you are able."

                Jean-Paul nodded, without having to consider the issue any further. "Anything."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Logan was tired. Not physically, of course. It'd be a rare day that he stayed physically worn out for any extended period of time.

                But he thought maybe he could use a nap. Or a soundproof room. Or something.

                The kids were all outside, and he was looking down on them, from the balcony out back. Mutant ball. He watched the twins closely, and saw nothing but what could be expected. Aurora smiled and batted her eyelashes at Roberto. Northstar used the opening to tag him, as his foot slipped off base, when he stepped closer to her.

                Cute.

                Sometimes, he really had to wonder what the hell Charles was thinking. Bringing these kids here. Issues and powers and hormones, jammed into a house that was starting to feel a lot smaller than it should.

                But sometimes, it worked out ok. Sometimes. At least, for the Beaubiers, it seemed to be working.

                Jean was laughing. Jeanne-Marie was dancing in front of their mirror.

                "And then he told me that if I thought I was the first girl who'd tried to out-flirt him, I had another thing coming. But when I kissed him, he shut right up!"

                It was a perfect match, she had to admit. Berto was a bit younger than JM, but the Brazilian boy needed someone who could keep him in check. And it seemed to make Jeanne-Marie happy, to be the one who could do it.

                "What about you, Jean? Are you really going to leave us all?"

                She stopped laughing. She'd been thinking about it a lot lately. After this year, after getting so close to everyone, after everything they'd been through. And Scott… she really would miss Scott. Seemed like it had taken her so long to realize what it was she wanted. And now she knew. And now… "I guess so. I need to go to college, after all."

                Jeanne-Marie shrugged, "Can't you go here, like Scott?"

                The girl was too perceptive.

                Not that it was hard to tell what she was thinking, probably. Everyone had been asking her lately, if she was really going to go. The answer was always the same.

                "I guess I could… but this is a really good school."

                Jeanne-Marie came and sat beside her, putting an arm around her. She was looking so much better after a month with them. No longer skinny and underfed. She looked good. Even more beautiful than she had been when she'd come. "If you go, we will miss you. But I will come visit."

                She smiled, and hoped it didn't look sad. "You'd better."

                Jean-Paul fell backwards, and landed in the sun-warm grass with a thump. Too bad he didn't tan so well, or it'd be the perfect day for it, really. Damn northern genes.

                "You two haven't fought in almost a week," Rogue was saying to him, making it her business to pop the heads off every dandelion within a ten foot radius of them.

                He laughed at her, and was surprised at how it felt. He never really noticed before, but maybe Jeanne-Marie was right. He really didn't laugh all that much. "Missing the entertainment?"

                "Somethin' like that."

                "You upset that Remy's leaving?"

                She glared at him, "No. We're just friends. Not even friends, really. He's not exactly the trustworthy type."

                He reached around her, and into her back pocket.

                "Hey! Don't get fresh with me, flyboy!"

                And held up the card she kept there. The queen of hearts.

                Her normally deathly white face grew pinker, under all that make-up. "It's just for luck."

                He flicked it at her, and it landed in her lap. "Sure, sure, chere. Or should I not call you that, anymore?"

                "Ah hate you, Jean-Paul."

                He took one of her gloved hands in his and put it to his lips, well amused with his own cleverness. "I know."

                This time, she laughed too.

                Janos was in a world of pain.

                That's pretty much it. All that existed. Pain. Red burning pain. Behind his eyes, in his veins.

                They'd fucked it up. A stupid little mission and they'd fucked it. One more chance. That's all they'd be getting. One more chance.

                But first, the lesson.

                Which was where the pain was coming from.

                He'd be sure not to fuck up again. He'd be damn sure.

                Wanda rolled her eyes. "Don't be such an idiot."

                Pietro raised his eyebrows at her. "Ahh, come on sis! It'll be fun!"

                "I don't do practical jokes. Why don't you go and find Todd."

                He was suddenly on the other side of her. "Cause that's our victim!"

                Suddenly, she was a little more interested.

                Anyhow, would it kill her to try and figure out what the hell he saw in this whole irritating delinquent thing? Maybe it'd make him a little more tolerable. And really… she might as well tolerate him. He was pretty much the only family she could claim, or that could claim her, by rights. And she did…

                You know, care.

                "Alright… what's the plan."

                "I knew it!" He bounced joyfully. "Ok ok. You go and act like you want into his room—,"

                "Ok, stop right there. I'm not going in there."

                He made his pouty face. She had a sudden flashback to being a child, with him. Nothing much, just that same face. She almost laughed at it. He still looked the same, really. "Wandaaaa."

                "Whining won't help. New plan."

                He sighed, "Ok, I'll think of something else. Back in a flash."

                She shook her head, and very nearly smiled. "Ass."

                Rogue let go of the bar, tucked up into herself, saw the floor flash below her.. and landed.

                Perfectly.

                "Holy shit, ah did it!"

                Kitty and Kurt joined her in a little dance, punctuated with much whooping and singing—the last two mainly from Kurt, before they all went back to what they were doing.

                Jean-Paul wasn't going to believe her. He'd make her do it later, to prove it.

                But she still felt pretty damn good, even knowing that.

                Really, things had been surprisingly quiet lately. Aside from the weird disquieting effect of having Remy in the house, she'd been pretty happy. And not that Gambit made her unhappy, per se… just…

                Well, something else for Kitty to tease her about, anyhow.

                She complained about it, but really, she liked it. Teasing was a kind of affection even she could appreciate, really.

                Jeanne-Marie leaned back on Roberto and took the remote control from him.

                He made a face at her.

                She smiled sweetly and turned the volume up, then returned the remote.

                He nodded, and patted her shoulder.

                Footsteps behind them as Jean-Paul came to lean on the back of the couch, hanging over so his head was next to hers. "What's on?"

                Berto froze.

                Jeanne-Marie laughed. "Bad music videos."

                Her brother pulled a face of utter disgust. "Pass."

                Berto didn't seem to be breathing.

                Jeanne-Marie was highly amused by this reaction in her new love interest. Any time her brother appeared, whether he was near her or across the room from her, he suddenly developed some kind of muscle-lock issue. Funny, coming from someone with Roberto's self-confidence, really. Cute, even. Eventually, she would reassure him that Jean-Paul was not a wild cat, and would not tear his throat out.

                But she wanted to make sure it was true, before she promised anything.

                Her brother stood now, and ruffled her hair affectionately.

                On his way out, he ruffled Berto's hair too. Roughly.

                Roberto's eyes widened in terror.  

                She took the remote control back. This time, he didn't bother making a face.

                Remy had a choice to make. He knew where to find Magneto, now. It had been the set amount of time. If he wanted, he could be found.

                Or, he could disappear.

                On one hand, he really should finish the job. And inform the "boss" of what, exactly, had almost happened to his children while he was busy playing at espionage.

                But on the other hand… fuck him.

                Scott ducked another of Alex's high kicks, and swept his leg out from under him.

                The blonde boy hit the ground, hard, laughing like a madman. "Oh dude, I am never going to learn!"

                Smiling, Scott reached down and offered his brother a hand up, "Sure you are. Mr. Logan has been working hard with you guys, it shows. I'm just taller, so I had the advantage there."

                Alex used the hand offered him and jumped to his feet. "Ok I've had enough of getting my ass kicked. How about you drive me into town and we get some burgers. I'm starving."

                "Sounds good," he agreed, nodding.

                The kid was in good shape from all that surfing. He wondered how long it would be before he got sick of being landlocked for so long, before he missed the ocean. It was a short drive, from here, of course. But it wasn't quite the same. The freezing cold water of the northern Atlantic really didn't have the waves that the sunny beaches of Hawaii could claim.

                But it was good, for now, having him here.

                Scott was proud, really. Watching him with the other New Mutants. The kid was good. Maybe he'd be an X-Man before too long. He really couldn't imagine that they'd be like the Beaubiers, after all, getting into fights in front of everyone. It'd be fun, having the kid on the team.

                "Hey, earth to Scott. C'mon man, I'm starving."

                Pietro wasn't really sure what he was supposed to say. He'd come with Wanda, who wanted to see Kitty.

                But really, he wanted to check on Jeanne-Marie. He'd been having nightmares, lately. He wouldn't admit to it aloud, of course. But he had to wonder… maybe she had too.

                He'd found her, around back, with her brother. Hesitated for a minute, trying to think of what it was he'd wanted to say to her. He couldn't remember now. And this seemed like a really shitty idea all the sudden.

                Jean-Paul saw him though, and was nodding in his direction. His sister turned, smiling, and half-ran over to him.

                She looked good. She looked happy. He hadn't seen her since the X-Jet, on the way back from London. When she could barely speak. When she'd been clinging to her brother. Well, he hadn't seen her up close, anyhow. When either of them turned up somewhere near him, he left the scene pretty quickly. He didn't really like to think about it, too much.

                He found that he was relieved, to see her alright. She did not look like a girl who was having nightmares.

                "Pietro!" She threw her arms around his neck. "It's good to see you!"

                Shocked to find her in his arms, he paused, his eyes catching Jean-Paul's. Completely on accident, of course.

                The guy just grinned at him. Shameless.

                That shit. Not that it hadn't been flattering, and all. But Jesus.

                He squeezed her once, and let her pull away. "Look, um… I just wanted to see if you were ok. I mean, I saw you the other day…"

                "At the mall," she nodded. "I wondered why you disappeared so fast."

                He shifted. "Yeah, I was busy. Wanda's inside. I'm just… on my way somewhere."

                She leaned in and kissed his cheek, then started toward the house, "I'll go say hi."

                And he was left, stunned again, staring at Jean-Paul. "What is it with you two?"

                He shrugged, leveling those bright blue eyes at him. "Race you to the house?"

                It was at that moment, when he actually looked the other boy in the eye, that Pietro had a realization—Jean-Paul was trying to fuck with his head. The guy had kissed him in an attempt to catch him by surprise, and make him nervous. He could see it now, the way he was looking at him. He was trying to make him squirm.

                That was his trick!

                If Pietro were anyone else, it would've pissed him off. But, being Pietro, he was simply impressed. Now this was a guy who could keep up with him.

                "Don't even fuck with me, Beaubier. You want me embarrassed again, I can feel it."

                "Don't make me drop you this time. I think Wanda would kill me."

                He paused now. Only for an instant, while his mind jumped tracks. Jeanne-Marie. Crying. Flashfire through him. Green bubbling something. Bars. Trapped.

                "She ok?"

                The dark haired boy nodded, "As ok as she can be."

                "Something's… wrong, isn't it?"

                Again, he nodded. Slowly this time. Like he didn't want to say it. He wasn't grinning anymore. "Dissociative disorder."

                "Fuck."

                "Yeah."

                They just looked at each other for a second. Another flash of silence. Quicksilver tried to think of something funny to say, but his mind was racing too fast. Crying. In French. Nice smile. Poor guy. Pretty fast. Like me. Wanda. Practical joke. Jeanne-Marie. Gambit. Sinister. Every thought brought fifty more, in a split second.

                Oh, what the fuck.

                "Hey, I got this great idea."

                "I'm listening."

—The End!—

~Or… is it…? Will Jeanne-Marie be able to hold together? Will Jean-Paul be able to stay friends with Pietro? And what about when school starts? Stay tuned for the Further Adventures of Aurora and Northstar in Bayville! Watch for "Here Comes Trouble," the utterly random sequel, where plot bunnies run amok!~

AN: Thanks to everyone who read! SilverCaladan and Fata Morgana, your input was really wonderful, and well appreciated. Risty, thank you so much for catching my mistake, calling her disorder MPD! Relwarc, The Rogue Witch, Girlonthem00n, and as always, the M, thank you for the encouragement!

And Sue! SUE! *tackle*