Disclaimer: I do not own X-men Evolution. It and all characters are property of Marvel.
Note: This takes places during the events of Ascension 1 and the beginning of Ascension 2 and contains spoilers for those episodes.
Jean Grey looked at herself in the mirror. It was astonishing how composed she could look when her world was falling apart. For the tenth time, she picked up her brush and ran it through her thick red hair. The Professor was gone. He and Storm were now Apocalypse's horsemen.
Whenever they had fought before, she told herself that everything was going to be alright. No one could beat the X-men. Now she wasn't sure. Apocalypse had some of the most powerful mutants on his side. She had to fight against people she loved. People that might die because she had to work against them. So she had to admit that there was a strong chance that everything wasn't going to be alright.
Jean finally put down her brush and left her room, walking down the hall until she saw a light under Scott's door. Hesitantly, she opened it into his room. He stood there, staring at something on his bed. "What are you doing?"
"Looking at pictures. Memorizing them," Scott wrapped an arm around Jean's shoulders as she stood next to them. "If someone doesn't come back, I don't want to forget a thing about them."
"Don't talk like that," she pleaded. "We're all going to come back."
"I know you well enough to know you don't believe that. I can hear it in your voice." He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "Jean, I hate to admit it, but I'm scared."
"Is it wrong to be?" She sighed at his troubled look, wishing she could take the entire burden off his shoulders. "Do you want to sit down?"
Scott shook his head. "I might never stand up again. Surprisingly, my legs haven't given out yet; I don't want to give them the chance." Suddenly, he grabbed her in a fierce hug and buried his head against her shoulder. "I don't want to be separated from you."
Her hands stroked through his hair comfortingly. "I know, I know. I wish we could be together too, but we have to be where we're needed the most. Jamie, Amara, Tabitha...they need me."
"I want to be able to protect you. If you get hurt, I'll never forgive myself." He looked up into her green eyes, face set with determination.
"I won't, Scott. I promise you, I won't let myself get hurt." Jean was glad his visor kept her from meeting his eyes, because she wasn't sure if she would have been able to say that last sentence if it meant she might be lying to him. She knew she could get hurt, she could die, she could watch others die. But even if that was the truth, it wasn't what he wanted to hear.
"Thank you," He sighed, loosening his grip on her a bit. "I hope Kurt and Kitty have some luck recruiting others. We need everyone we can get."
Jean nodded, then looked at the photos on his bed. One was her pitching. "I remember this. The softball game, right?"
"Amanda took it and I had her make me a copy." He picked up the rest of the shots from the game and handed him from her, enjoying her laugh to cut the tension.
"That was a fun time. We should do it again when we get back," she said, putting pressure on "when we get back." "Let's see what else you have here."
For a few minutes, they searched through the pictures. There were shots of the after-party from the Dracula musical Kitty and Rogue were in, a few of which had Evan in the background giving the camera a high five until the girls pushed him away.
There were a few from the Geology Club field trip as well as the survival camp. Scott smiled the most at pictures Alex had sent him. It was the two of them together and several pictures of Alex surfing. Both paused as they came upon shots from the Sadie Hawkins dance. "I was going to ask you, ya know," Jean said quietly.
"I wished you would have before Taryn did. I just felt bad saying no to her." He ran a hand through his hair.
"It's too late now," she shrugged. "Besides, now that I think about it, Duncan would have gone crazy and that would have ruined the night."
"Worse than demons from another dimension?" Scott asked and they laughed.
"As many good times as we've had, I'm glad to be out of school and teaching here," Jean confided.
School agreed with a nod, "But I'd go back to Bayville High any day if it means today wouldn't happen." Jean stared at him for a moment, focusing on his face. "What are you doing?"
"Remembering what your eyes look like. They were beautiful. I want to work on being able to see your eyes again." Jean reached over and stroked his face.
Without hesitation, Scott took this as his opportunity to kiss her. His arms held her tightly as he sucked on her bottom lip. They meshed themselves together desperately, wishing for time to stop and never start again.
"I love you, Jean," He told her passionately as they broke away.
"I know, Scott. I love you too." She stayed in his arms until something caught her eye out the window. The helijets were landing. "We have to go soon," she said in a choked voice, eyes clouding over.
"If I cry, will you think less of me?" He asked suddenly.
"Scott, it's me. Of course not," Jean hugged him tightly. "Especially since I think I'm going to start crying against too."
Cyclops wiped away the few stray tears running down his cheek and Jean silently cried against his uniform. Her heart was heavy from what happened to the professor, but there was nothing he could do to decrease the pain she was feeling. "I have something I want to give to you," he told her.
She looked up at him questioningly as he went and pulled something out of his dresser drawer. He held a small box in his hand, and opened it to reveal a petite gold ring. "Scott, I…"
"You don't have to say anything. This just means you promise that no matter what happens you'll come back." He took it out of the box and held it out to her.
Smiling through the tears that still filled her eyes, she took it from him and placed on the ring finger on her left hand. "I promise." Then, she kissed him tenderly.
"Do you want to give me anything to swear on?" He asked, half-smiling at her.
She shook her head. "It's alright. I know you'll be here when I get back. I have faith in you, Scott Summers." The ring fit nicely, shining from the glow of Scott's lamp.
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "C'mon, we have to go. Wouldn't want to miss out on a big chance at saving the world."
The two went down to the courtyard where everyone was grouping off and saying goodbye, wishing each other good luck. Bobby and Kurt attempted to keep the atmosphere considerably light with a few jokes here and there. While no one wanted to hear it, they're spirits weren't up to shutting their friends up.
"Alright, one minute and I want you all on those jets!" Logan grumbled.
Jean was hugging Kitty, then went to go say goodbye to the new mutant boys and Kurt. When almost everyone had boarded the helijets, Jean went back to hug her boyfriend one last time. "I love you, Scott," she whispered in his ear.
"I love you too, Jean," He leaned down for a final kiss, only breaking it when Wolverine put a hand on his shoulder.
"C'mon, Cyclopes, we've got to get going. You'll see Juliet when you get back."
"That's a bad simile, Wolverine. Remember what happened to those too." Despite his apprehension, he gave Jean one last hug and got on his jet.
"Good luck, Red," Logan wished her as she climbed into the jet that was to take her to Egypt. It took off and she refused to look out the window and watch the Institute disappear. Professor Xavier said she had to be strong for everyone and that was what she was going to do.
The gold band around her ring finger provided a certain strength, as if magical. Or, maybe it was just the fact that it was filled with Scott's love. No matter how corny it sounded, that was what provided the greatest hope in her heart.
On the other planes, she tried to imagine what her friends were doing. Inside, she wished Scott was thinking about her also. Mr. McCoy was doing research, trying to think of anything that could help them. Kurt was almost positively praying, and as an afterthought, Kitty probably was as well.
Jean had never been religious, but what could it hurt? She wondered if it worked like telepathy, so she thought really hard to God. Um…I'm actually not sure what to say. Weird, huh? Jean Grey always knows what to say. But I'm scared. More scared than when I learned about my powers, or had to present a speech in front of the school board officials. Then I was just confused, and the worst that could happen was that I had to find a different school. I could die this time. And that really scares me.
Jean looked around the jet. Piotr was by himself, drawing on a random legal pad that he had probably found up by the pilot. Amara was snuggled in the middle of Jamie and Tabitha. The latter was attempting to be brave, and Jean had to admit that he was. She never had to even think of any of this when she was thirteen.
God, it's not fair that Jamie has to be here when he should be at home, hanging out with his friends, worrying about a test. Not about the world ending. Please, protect the kids. Amara, Jamie, Tabitha, Bobby, Roberto, Sam, Ray…all of them. We tried not to treat them like babies, but I can't help it. They really are just children and they have so much ahead of them.
No one should have to go through this. I really can't bear the thought of my friends being hurt. I want to protect them all, but I can't. So, if you could watch over the ones that I can't, the ones that I can't protect, I'd really appreciate it. Everyone is so precious to me; sweet Kitty, funny Kurt, everyone. Without them, I don't think I'd be the Jean Grey I am today.
She suddenly remembered Xavier's warning before he left. Guilt and tears rose through her. Unfortunately, a few blinks and a wipe of her cheek didn't remove the liability. I will get the Professor back. I shouldn't have let them go in the first place. That's my responsibility.
As sun glinted off her ring, she smiled sadly. More than anything, watch over Scott. I love him more than I can imagine. Without him, I just…There would be no point in going back if he wasn't there. I need Scott. Please keep him safe. She clutched the gold wrapped around her finger, squeezing her eyes shut as if it would help convey the message to any higher being out there.
She wasn't sure if she drifted asleep or not, but before she realized it, they were going to land in Egypt. Her heart had seized up in her chest. It had never seemed so true, but seeing the pyramids in real life made them all too real.
Especially since her possessed Professor was sitting on the top of it.
Jean carefully took off her ring and put it in a side compartment where it was visible, wanting to make sure someone could give it back to Scott if something happened to her.
She assembled in line with her teammates. Tabitha, Jamie, herself, Amara and Piotr were ready to fight. The man who had been a father figure to more than half of them was ready to kill them. But sudden courage told her not to fear.
Suddenly, she heard Logan's voice coming from a radio. "Ok, teams, this is it. Everything you've ever learned about yourselves, your strengths, and your limits... it all comes down to this very moment. We're the world's last, best hope to stop this madman. So we're going to trash those pyramids any way we can! No matter who we gotta go through to do it."
Jean looked at the Professor, wondering what he could possibly be thinking. But in her heart, she remembered what he had said, "Whatever happens, I need you to remain strong, for everyone."
She may have been a friend, a girlfriend, a student, a teacher, a daughter, a sister and many other things. But right now, first and foremost, she was an X-man.
And God as her witness, this was one battle she would not lose.
A/N: I'm not sure what prompted me to write this (or to ignore writing my speech and the constant need to sleep to do so), but I'm glad I did. Jean gets bashed so often, but I think she's great, and some people fail to remember that she is human and she's not perfect.
Questions, comments, reactions and reviews are greatly appreciated.