It was one of those nightmare scenarios that you always knew was possible but never wanted to believe could actually happen to you. Statistically, it never should have happened. They'd been careful, beyond careful. She was dating the largest control freak the world had ever seen, love him as she did. He had calculated it down to a 99.999 chance that this could actually happen. A one in a million chance.
And yet here she was, waiting in his bedroom for him to get back from his latest training session with this impossible truth.
Maybe they really were freaks of some sort. One would think that no matter who you were, if you took enough precautions…
And now she really was starting to sound like Scott. How many times had she told him he couldn't control the world, no matter how he wanted to? Here she was trying to do the same. Sometimes the world couldn't or wouldn't be controlled and whoever was there had to deal with the aftermath of it.
The door opened and her belly clutched as she saw him enter the room, fresh from a shower after training. He was in a good mood, as training usually left him.
"Jean, hey." She just watched him silently as he took in her face. The smile faded and his face clouded over. The ends of his mouth curved downwards, and the lines in his forehead appeared, the three careful worry lines that crossed it and the two that formed vertically between his eyebrows, just barely visible over his glasses. "What's wrong?"
How did she tell him this? How could she possibly explain? She looked down at her hands trying to come up with the right words, the right way to explain. There had to be something that would make sense, come out right, in a situation that was just so wrong.
She found her hands enveloped by two larger rough ones. They squeezed hers as Scott spoke. "Hey, hey look at me."
She looked up at him where he'd crouched down at her feet and felt her eyes start to water. Jean cursed herself for it, not wanting to break down and cry right now. She was better than this, stronger than this. The worry lines on Scott's face deepened and he reached up to brush her hair out of her face. "C'mon Jean, don't cry. I'm here, it'll be okay. Just tell me what's wrong and I'll fix it."
That was just like Scott, to think he could take everything that went wrong and fix it for her. Right now she wasn't sure if she was endeared by it or pissed off like she usually was. She supposed right now it wasn't really all that relevant because he couldn't fix it.
She steeled herself, figuring there was only one way to do this. She sucked the tears back in and looked him dead in the eye. "Scott, I'm pregnant."
She could feel him withdrawing from her, both physically and mentally. "I know—" she started, reaching out to him, but he stood and pulled away further.
She watched him with worried eyes as he began pacing in his room. "Jean, that's impossible. It's just impossible."
He stopped and turned to look at her and she wished he would open his mind link so she could have a better idea of what he was feeling, thinking. "We worked it out so that this wouldn't happen."
She caught the accusatory look that flitted over his face and the tears were still threatening but now temper reached up to join it. "Well it did, okay?" She yelled, standing up and glaring at him right back. "You can't control everything Scott. I didn't want this; I didn't ask for this damn it!"
Her voice hitched and she turned away from him, wrapping her arms around herself. She was not going to cry, she wasn't. She had no intention of being 18 years old and pregnant; she had been keeping up with her birth control and had been continuing with her studies and work outs, never even entering the idea that she would become pregnant within the next seven or eight years. Hell, within the next ten.
She was stuck with it anyways and so was he.
"Jean, shit, Jean, I'm sorry," she could hear the emotion in his voice, the depth of the apology. His arms wrapped around her from behind and he pulled her close. "I didn't mean to imply—I just…."He stopped speaking and buried his face in her neck. She felt the wall he'd shoved down between them drop away. He was going to let her back in.
Jean turned in his arms, offering what comfort she could to him. The confusion was pouring out of him, the uncertainty and the feeling of failure. "I know. I know." She cupped his face in her hands and pulled his face down until their foreheads touched. "It was the same for me. I didn't know how to handle it."
It took a few beats, and then Scott had managed to pull himself back inside. That sheen of control was back over all of his emotions. It always fascinated her to watch Scott do that and no matter how hard she tried she could never manage it quite as well as he could. "How long?" he asked simply when he angled back to look down at her.
"I'm about a month gone."
Scott loosened his grip on her and kept a hold of her hand. "I meant how long have you known."
She bit her lip and sat back on his bed. "I've suspected for a little while but I couldn't be sure." She'd been keeping it from him, as there were some things that they just couldn't share all the time, and she knew he'd suspected something was up. It had been necessary to be sure before she said a word to him. "I took three pregnancy tests this morning Scott, they were all positive."
"So," he asked, sitting down on the side of the bed next to her, "what do we do now?"
That had been the question of the week as she'd considered it and this morning when she had finished with the tests. There was a little voice in the back of her head that said she should have at least asked him for his opinion, but it wouldn't have changed anything for her. "I've made an anonymous appointment down at the local clinic. I'm going to take care of everything."
That was pretty much the end of that. She didn't want to discuss it, because so far as she saw there was nothing to discuss. She watched as it took a second for all of it to click in his brain. "Jean." She could feel the internal tug of war going on in his head. He knows she's right, she can feel it. But that loyalty and love that has always been left open in Scott since the plane crash is arguing the other way. "How do you know it's the right choice? You've only known since this morning."
She could go and do this without his consent, and would if she had to, but she would much rather know that he understood. "Scott, there isn't another way," she started explaining, appealing to his rational and practical side. "We're 18, we're in college, and we run the X-Men for God's sake. We cannot bring a child into all of this madness. We're not ready for this. I can't even guarantee I could make it to full term without something happening."
They couldn't promise even safety until adoption. There were no other choices and she wasn't going to risk everything now. There was so much that they had to do, accomplish before they could ever consider bringing kids into the world.
"Everything would suffer for it Scott," Jean continued on. "We've already made so many commitments and taken on so many responsibilities, to take this one on too," Jean shook her head thinking of it. "We just can't do it. There wasn't that much of a choice to make when it came down to it."
Scott nodded. "You're right, I know you're right." He looked up, a half smile tinged with sadness formed on his face, "Someday."
He said it with such certainty and promise that it almost scared Jean. "Yeah, someday," she returned, hoping that when all of this was over, they'd still be looking towards someday together. "Just not now," Jean reiterated.
Now just wasn't the time. There was no way that it possibly could be for her or Scott.
"When's the appointment?"
"1:30, it was when they could squeeze me in. I know you have a class."
He didn't even acknowledge her words. "I'm going with you."
Jean shook her head. Scott only missed class if there was a mission or some other life and death situation. This was just going to end up being a doctor's appointment with a minor procedure that was all. "Scott, go to class."
"I'm not leaving you alone with this Jean," he told her with an air of finality. "I can take a day off of classes. Just give me some time to set up some people to take notes and that sort of thing. I won't let you do this alone."
There he was, practical enough to think about covering the class. She should have known he would have insisted on coming with her.
"I don't deserve you."
"I know, you deserve better," Scott said, smiling at her, "but I'm what you've got. And I'm sticking for as long as you'll have me. Stay here for awhile," he insisted, laying her down on the bed, "and sleep."
She was tempted to argue but she was so tired after the past week and the worries that had been gathering. He took the blanket from the end of his bed and spread it over her and then pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I'll come get you in a little while."
Jean meant to nod and to thank him but she found her eyes drifting close before he shut the door to his room. With any luck she'd wake up in a few hours better prepared to face what was about to come.
The ride to the clinic was practically silent, with just the light hum of the car and the soft tinny sound of the radio on its lowest setting. It was a beautiful day out with the sun high overhead heating up the spring day. Normally, Scott would have taken the top down and they would have laughed and talked as they zoomed through Bayville.
Instead the top was up and they hadn't said a word to each other. They could feel each other well enough that they didn't need to speak, and even if they couldn't, there really weren't words for what it was that they were feeling. It was all such a churning jumble.
Jean wasn't sure what Scott had told the Professor, but it was probably the truth. Scott always hated to lie and she had a feeling that lying about this to the man who had become his surrogate father wasn't going to be an option. She didn't want to face the Professor or anyone else after this. All Jean wanted to do was to get this over with and curl up in bed and sleep for as long as humanly possible. If she was lucky enough she would wake up and it would all be a bad dream.
Scott's hand slid over hers, warm and comforting, and she could feel worry darts mixed in with the comfort he was trying to give her. Jean turned her hand over and linked her fingers with his, and sent thanks back towards him. She honestly couldn't remember why she had thought she could do this all without him.
He let go as he shifted gears on his automatic roadster and pulled into the parking lot. Scott parked them into a space and then looked across at Jean. "We're a bit early."
"Better than being late," jean attempted for a joke but it fell flat. "Well, I suppose we should head in."
They got out and reached for each other as they came around the back of the car. If the appointment was for anything else, Jean would have smirked at the way Scott's face paled as they stepped into a clinic that was clearly for 'womanly needs.' She wished that she could have needled him over it and laughed a little, but she just steeled herself and walked up to the window.
"Mary Stevens, 1:30," she told the receptionist, using the fake name she had come up with to make the appointment.
"The doctor will be with you in a little while, have a seat."
They walked across the room and slid into the hard plastic seats that were there for function and cleanliness rather than comfort. Jean lifted a teen magazine as Scott stared at a blank spot on one of the walls. They both studiously ignored the pregnant woman and her husband who were sitting off in one corner looking at a book of baby names and the young girl with a baby in her arms. They didn't want to know anything about these other individuals that populated the waiting room.
She leafed through her magazine, unable to focus. The words bled together and didn't make any sense. Some of what she caught wasn't relevant. Who gave a damn about what the perfect color eye shadow was? In an age like this how could you ever pretend that being pantsed in the cafeteria was the worst thing that could ever happen to you? There were worse things one could face. She had nearly died several times in her young life. There had been more necessary but painful decisions she had had to make than she had ever wanted to make.
When her name was called she would make yet another in that column, and that was just the way the world worked.
It took Jean a moment to understand that the nurse was calling her. She put the magazine down and carefully and collected her purse. "That's us."
She stood and while her stride started off confident, by the end of it Scott was ushering her down the hallway.
The appointment was longer than Jean had initially expected, and more tedious. They'd mention it would be a couple of hours, which they'd already passed, and had said there would be some paperwork and testing-not nearly as much as had been shoved at her. The first two and a half hours was all questioning and testing and half of it they had shooed Scott away from her for. They'd claimed confidentiality reasons and while she had told them she didn't give a damn what Scott knew, they sent him away anyways.
And then there was the pre-abortion counseling. A million questions about how it happened and were they sure that this was the option they wanted. She and Scott had remained firm on the issue and had been honest that they had no idea how it happened. Jean couldn't understand for the life of her why they had to cover the same ground over and over again.
She had thought about it, agonized about it. And while people would assume you couldn't make this decision quickly, for Jean it really wasn't really much of a choice. Who were they to be raising a baby while running around and trying to save the world? They weren't ready for this and they couldn't give up the responsibilities that they had already taken on in order to be part of the Institute. They had a duty to the Professor, to the vast number of mutants that they were helping, that was exceptionally important. She needed to finish school so she could find more answers, bridge the gap that people insisted was between normal individuals and mutants.
Explaining that in terms that didn't prick up concern about who she was wasn't what she was looking to do so she had made up answers that sounded rational enough to her.
But now they were preparing her for the actual procedure and had let him back in. Jean could see the worry and concern on his face and all but feel how he was trying to hide his fear from her. If nothing else the way he was gripping her hand was a tell tale sign but she was gripping his right back.
"Ms. Stevens, you're just going to have to try and relax the best you can while the procedure goes on, it will help to keep the pain down."
Jean nodded and focused back inside herself, willing herself to go anywhere else in her head. She picked out a happy memory and reached out to Scott with her mind, bringing them both back to the cruise they'd gone on before the rest of the kids at the institute had managed to broadcast to the rest of the boat that there were mutants on board. They were standing by the railing, enjoying the sea air and the beautiful night. His arms were around her and they were watching the stars.
There was a whirring noise that Jean created into a helicopter flying off from one of the islands in the Caribbean.
Jean could feel the railing underneath her just as if she was back there. "It's just so peaceful, out in the middle of the ocean, just floating. And no one knows we're mutants, no one is calling us names, no dirty looks."
"But, the best part is," Scott told her, taking her hands, "you and I finally get some personal time."
The sound of giggling clued Jean into the fact that there were people behind them. She turned just in time to see Kitty and Kurt disappear. "Kitty and Kurt have way too much time on their hands."
"I know." Scott seemed more amused than he should have been and Jean sent him a glare for good measure. "I'll kill Kurt later, but they're gone."
"You're right," Jean said, leaning back into him. "Let's get back to that personal time thing." She could feel a light cramp go through her but leaned into Scott instead, focusing on the feel of him and the balmy summer air. "We're really going to have to do this again without the Professor and Ororo and the rest of the kids."
"What," he asked her, teasingly. Sometimes it was hard to remember that Scott had this lighthearted side when the Institute was busy stressing them out. "You don't like having to straddle that line between being babysat and being the babysitters?"
"No, not really. Do you?" She asked, deciding to run with this mood that the vacation brought, "Is there something that you haven't been telling me Scott Summers?"
"I'm madly in love with Kurt."
Jean started to laugh but cut off with a sharp intake of breath. A cramp rippled through her abdomen, more painful than the last few, and Jean's hands gripped the railing tightly as she tried not to sway.
Two sturdy hands had caught her and were pulling her upright again. "Jean?"
She straightened, rubbing the heel of her hand against her belly. "I'm alright. Just a little cramp."
Concern was radiating through him as he rubbed his hands up and down her arms. "You sure?"
She could sense that need of his to take care of her pushing outward from inside him. He was practically broadcasting the thought of picking her up in his arms and carting her off to her cabin on the ship. It sent a comfortable thrill through her and she smiled up at him. "Yeah, yeah, I'm okay, really."
The thought didn't die, and she should have known it wouldn't. Scott started stroking her hair, brow furrowed as if he was trying to "We can go back to your cabin and you can lie down. I'll stay with you."
"I know you will, but I want to be out here with the stars right now, and you. You can make me lie down soon enough, okay?"
"I'm giving you five minutes," he insisted, with a sternness that was belied by a sparkle in his eyes.
"Deal," she said with a grin and leaned up to kiss him. She lingered over his lips and told herself that her fingers tightened on his shoulders out of the feeling the kiss was giving her and not the cramp that snaked through her.
She couldn't help but smile as him as she planted her feet firmly back on the deck and turned back to look out over the sea. Scott's arms banded around her and Jean held on to him as they continued to watch the stars overhead and the gentle rocking of the boat as it moved through the calm Caribbean waters. She let the sensations run through her head to keep her relaxed even when cramps seemed to threaten and when the whirring noise picked up.
The voice was out of place and Jean's concentration broke. She opened her eyes to spot the nurse standing over her, peering down with concerned eyes. Scott was still beside her, holding her hand, his expression grim. "We're going to have to move you to wheel you to recovery. The doctor will be back check on you again in a little over fifteen minutes, okay?"
Jean nodded, and the woman talked about how it looked like the procedure had gone well and all fetal tissue had been removed. Scott was silent as he helped the nurse move her to the wheelchair and out of it when they reached the next room. She was ashamed to admit that she clung to him as he helped to move her less out of inability to stand and more out of her unwillingness to let go of him for more than a second. It was stupid and foolish, as she knew if she let go of him he wouldn't just slip away, but she couldn't seem to convince herself of that.
"Jean. Do you want me to go and get the doctor?"
"No," she cried out practically panicked, her fingers practically clawing at his arm as she struggled to keep him there. Jean took a moment and pulled the emotions back in and repeated "No," this time in a much calmer voice. "I don't want to be alone right now."
She closed her eyes, holding his hand, trying to find some of that focus and control that seemed to be eluding her at the moment. Scott was here, holding her hand, nothing was wrong. So she was experiencing some pain and emotional upset that was to be expected. She had known the consequences going in and the benefits outweighed the negatives.
"I'm not going to go anywhere Jean," she heard Scott whisper.
She managed to open her eyes enough to smile at him. Everything was going to be alright. "I know."
"Try and get some sleep okay? You need to relax. I'll be right here with you."
She focused herself in on his thoughts, that comforting feeling he was sending out to her despite his own anxiety. She started to dream them into the last bit of the fantasy on the cruise, where he'd brought her back to her cabin and they were just laying on the bed together. The boat rocked gently beneath them, Scott's lips were pressed to her ear, giving both soft kisses and words of comfort. She allowed herself to just float away on the feeling, forgetting where she really was and what had really happened.
Scott watched her drift away into sleep and wished he could too but he figured that wouldn't be ideal at the current moment. One of them needed to be awake and on top of things. He could sleep later, he could feel later. Right now, all that mattered was that Jean needed him and he wasn't going to let her down.
She was usually so strong and independent, his Jean. The way she had clung to him just moments before was so unlike Jean, it was proof of how deeply this whole thing had shaken her. Despite her constant convictions, there was a loss here, and they could both feel it.
Jean had been right, he'd known it when she had said it, and he knew it now, but there was a part of him that wished she hadn't been. They wouldn't have been able to take care of a baby and give it all of the things that it deserved. And giving up a possible mutant baby for adoption, what if it had ended up with parents who would have hated what it might have grown up to be? How would they have been able to live with that possibility? It was the right choice.
It never should have happened in the first place. They had worked so hard to prevent ending up in this place to begin with, yet here they were, stuck facing the one decision he had never wanted to have to make. There was no rational reason for it to have happened this way, and that was what bothered him the most. They hadn't done a damn thing wrong.
There would be other chances, a better time, a better place. One where he wouldn't have to wonder how he'd support his family or worry about if he could do the right things for his children. There would be a day when he and Jean wouldn't have to make this sort of decision but today wasn't it.
There was so much that needed to be done, seen, and experienced. So much that wasn't safe for a baby. Between classes and training, both as a student and a teacher, he barely had time for himself let alone for a child. He was barely making a dent in the debt that was owed to the Professor, he wasn't about to put more of a burden on that. He had made a promise to the world, to mutants everywhere when he led the X-Men. He wasn't going to stop Jean from reaching her true potential as a brilliant scientist or as a mutant. There was more potential in her than in anyone else.
She was right. This was the way it had to be.
He just wished it had never come to this.
Scott worked to push it out of his mind, and the setting they were in. Instead he started doing out the training regimen he would be running the New Mutants through next week and about the recruiting mission that Xavier had him lined up for in a few days. He needed to focus on anything but this, because if he continued to focus on this, he would fall apart. He couldn't do that, not yet. Jean still needed him.
Within a half an hour, the doctor was back to check on Jean. Scott collected the prescriptions that they had given her, making careful mental notes about the instructions that went with them. She was fine, or as fine as one could be after one had had an abortion. It looked like there would be minimal scaring but she would have to come back in a few weeks for them to check.
Jean was incredibly calm through out all of it and wasn't sure if he should be proud of her or worried. He decided on proud for the time being. They were in a public place with strangers and Jean hated to cry when they were alone.
She was surprisingly sturdy when she stood up, but Scott refused to let her try to walk out of the clinic on her own. He put his arm around her and tried to get her to lean against him, but it wasn't until they were half way across the parking lot that he felt her sag in his arms. He maneuvered her into the car and buckled her in; surprised she didn't bat his hands away and do it herself.
They drove away from the clinic the same way they had driven there, with the silence stretching between them. It was a different sort of silence this time. Something hollow and empty, a sort of gulf and Scott couldn't find his way through to connect with Jean.
He stopped at the pharmacy and got her medications filled and when he came back out the car she looked exactly the same as she had when he had left her there. He put the medication down and reached a hand out to touch her. She jumped but didn't turn to look at him. "Jean, it's okay to be upset. You did what you had to do but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."
She turned to him now, the tears welling up in her eyes. They began to slip out of her eyes and down her face. "You don't hate me, do you? You understand, don't you?"
He struggled to reach across the console in between the two seats and the stick shift that was there. He stroked her hair as he held on, trying to send as much love and comfort as humanly possible to her. "No, no Jean, I could never hate you." He felt the tears pricking at his own eyes. "I understand. It's going to be okay."
God, why did she have to sound so broken, and make him want to break too? He couldn't, not now when she needed him. "Yeah, it is," he insisted, wishing her confidence had not deserted her so blatantly. "You know it is. You've just forgotten right now. Come on, I'll take you home."
She cried the rest of the ride back, big silent tears rolling down her face, with only the occasional hitch of breath. When he didn't have to be shifting, he held her hand with his, afraid to break contact with her for too long.
Once they pulled into the Institute, Scott was out of the car in a heartbeat. He raced around to the other side and helped Jean out. The tears were slowing down but Jean wasn't in any condition to walk anywhere. Scott lifted her into his arms and began to carry her out of the garage without so much as a complaint from Jean. She simply turned her head into his chest and let him.
"Oh my god, Scott what happened?"
"Is Jean okay?"
The barrage of voices and questions hit them like a wall as they started through the living room. He'd forgotten the hour and that everyone would be bustling through. Jean seemed to shrink against him, pulling even closer. Scott didn't falter and continued to hold her as he walked through the group of kids. It wasn't any of their business.
"Scott," a furry blue hand landed on his arm, and yellow eyes peered at him inquisitively. "What happened?"
"She'll be fine Kurt, just a stomach infection."
It was close enough to the truth at this point. Maybe he'd open up to Kurt on it later, when they weren't out in front of everyone else. He gave Kurt a shaky smile before carrying Jean up the stairs, ignoring the sets of eyes that were trained on his back. It was Jean's choice at this point to tell them what she wanted to but she didn't have to make that decision right now.
He pushed the door to her bedroom open and was confronted with all of her stuff. All of this stuff that screamed that she wasn't as old and sophisticated as she came off as. That despite what it might feel when they were fighting and however old they felt when they were in that clinic today, they were still young. There were posters covering parts of Jean's walls, old soccer trophies and memorabilia from school dances, a peg board covered with pictures.
His heart broke for them a little more as he brought her into her inside and tucked her into her bed. The truth was he still had stupid car models that he'd done right after the Professor had gotten him his new glasses and all sorts of other things the twelve year old boy he had been had felt he couldn't live without.
He walked into the bathroom to fill up a glass of water in order to get her to take her medication. Glancing at his red tinged face in the mirror, he noticed that he looked older. It wasn't easy to see when your face was all one color, but the day had drained him of anything that felt like youth. The things he had planned for himself and Jean in their time off this evening seemed like a lifetime away.
Not wanting to look any longer, he shook his head and headed for the bedroom.
"Do you need anything else?" he asked, handing her the pills and the water.
Jean shook her head at him, looking up at him with heavy eyes. He helped her to swallow the pills down and still remained shocked at how much she had let him do. His usually strong, self sufficient and resilient girl had turned into something small and fragile somewhere in the hours that had passed since the last time they'd really talked.
He moved to put the glass away and found his arm caught by her hand once again. "Stay with me, Scott, just stay. I'm not ready to be alone yet."
He lay down beside her and wrapped his arms around her. Her hair smelled of her fruity shampoo, but it was lightly tinged with the sickly smell of the clinic. Scott didn't pull away, knowing it was the last thing she needed at the moment. "Me either," he whispered in her ear.
Once her breathing evened out and Scott was certain that the drugs had done their part in getting her to sleep he let his own tears begin to fall as he held onto her.
A week later, Jean sat out on the lawn of the Institute watching Scott run the training games for the New Mutants. It wasn't that long ago that she had been running through those with Scott when they'd first come. It seemed like ages ago now.
They hadn't discussed what had happened that much, there was not a lot to say. He understood what she had done and agreed with her, he didn't think less of her. She'd been so afraid that he wouldn't understand, that he would think her a horrible person. And while she was all for making her own decisions there had been a dark fear that word would get out at the Institute and they would all think less of her as well, for getting pregnant, for having an abortion.
She didn't like it much herself.
But at the end of the day it was the lesser of two evils.
A stream of electricity whizzed past Jean's head. That just proved her point, didn't it? She barely made it out alive of sitting outside while there was training going on. There was no way she could bring a baby into this Mansion now and there was no way she could live outside of the Institute with one. Eventually the world would be a safer place; she would be able to do the research necessary to accomplish what needed to be done. She would be older then and married and they would be ready.
Scott looked over at her and she could see the worry lines that had yet to ease out of his forehead whenever he looked at her. I'm fine she thought back at him. She was, or as much as she was going to be today, and she would be even better as time went on.
She didn't doubt that anymore.
His lips lifted in a half smile before he turned around and barked at Roberto and Ray for fighting while other people were taking their turns and nearly taking out innocent bystanders. Life was slowly easing back into its normal pattern for them. Jean knew that they'd never forget, but she wasn't about to let it control either of them.