Disclaimer: If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended. That you did but slumber'd here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme is no more yielding then a dream. Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend (Shakespeare). I don't own any characters recognizable from X-Men. Marvel, et al, owns all characters. No copyright infringement intended.

Summary: Challenge fic. Her pain was her own. It wasn't meant to be shared. It wasn't meant to be understood. The kind of pressure she could overcome was enough to break millions in its wake, but she brought it to a halt, stared it down, made it bend to her will. Her control was the stuff of legends. And her perfected control was something she refused to compromise, even for the death of her friend. Surrender doesn't come without price, but this was not a love song.

Theme #3: The Sexuality of Terror, or "Help, I'm out of control, thank God!"
Verse: Movie-verse. Post X2. Not taking into account Halle's new wig for X3.
Dedication: This one is for the homies. ;)
Lyrics excerpts from "Breaking the Girl" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but most of my inspiration came from a song called "Ebla" by E.S. Posthumus and "Breathe (2 A.M.)" by Anna Nalick
Special thanks to Sassy Lil Scorpio for all her marvelous input. I don't know where this story would be without her. I also want to give a special thanks to Nick, Monica, and Anna who were kind enough to take different sections of this fic and proofread it for me.

Control Lost
by Tempest

I. Strength
She was a girl
Soft, but estranged

The mansion was a lot quieter these days. Seldom was there any laughter without guilt; the halls smelled of tears and grief. Everyone had their own way of dealing with the tragedy, but one thought unified all minds, "What more could I have done to prevent this?" They tried to take comfort in the fact that Jean had chosen her own fate. She made herself the martyr to save them.

Between classes and the team missions, Ororo rarely stayed in the mansion anymore, preferring the soothing touch of Mother Nature to the suffocating sorrow of the mansion. She didn't know if anything would ever mend the hurt, the rage, she felt. She searched the skies, her mind, her heart, her friends for answers, but there were none to be found.

She tried to remind herself that life springs from death, but her heart rebelled against that idea. What life could possibly come from Jean's death? What good had come from her death? They were still hated and feared; the incident at Alkali Lake was nothing more than a rumor in the wind; the collapse of the dam blamed on substandard structure.

The world continued on as it always had while they suffered in silence; the professor with his secrets; Scott with his nightmares; Logan with his lost memories; her with her dreams. Despite the blow Jean's death had dealt, they still had the ability to pull together and face their assignments as a team. The missions were the only time the team expressed themselves.

All the anger, pain, and frustration was directed toward whatever enemy they faced. Every misguided mutant, every potential enemy, was a concern. The influx of new students helped the current students cope; they provided a distraction for them. Life kept going for them. They would grow up and this tragedy would be only a distant memory. Youth allowed such proclivities.

She continued down the hallway, but paused when she saw the door to Jean's classroom open. The room hadn't been used since Jean's death. She pushed the door open. Nothing had changed; it was like walking into a picture. Jean's neat, precise handwriting rolled across the plains of the chalkboard, her papers sat untouched on her desk. Echoes of Jean's clear voice still filled the room.

The only thing out of place was Scott. He sat in the windowsill, looking out the window, gripping one of Jean's texts in his hand. The setting sun accentuated the gaunt hollows of his face. Ororo treaded toward him slowly; he didn't turn to acknowledge her. "Scott?" She reached toward him, but she let her hand drop to her side. Her heart ached to look at him, but she felt she couldn't provide him with the comfort he needed.

Scott turned toward her slowly. "Every morning I wake up and I regret, Ororo. Will I ever be okay, again?" Scott asked. His face cracked for a moment. He dropped his head, burying his hands in his hair. His body shook for a moment, a silent sob. He took a few deep breaths, and when he looked up again, his face was void of emotion.

Broken, that's all she could think when she looked at Scott these days. He'd always been a stronghold in her life, in everyone's life. Dependable, strong in the face of adversity, capable, these were words that were generally used to describe Scott, but now, he was just broken like a child's favorite toy.

She had never thought of him as fragile, but everyday as she helplessly watched him waste away, she noticed how his shoulders rounded in defeat, how diminutive he seemed in a room when he had once commanded so much presence. But this was the ultimate defeat. They would continue to live out the professor's dream while the hurt continued to fester until…

Until what? She didn't know. For the first time in a long time, she couldn't see beyond this moment. Whatever happened next was anyone's guess, and she'd always known this. Being part of the X-Men meant that life was a constant upheaval, but none of that means anything when you have your friends at your side. It didn't matter what life threw at you, as long as the people you loved were constant.

She tried to be the beacon of strength during these tough times, tried to lend her strength to those who needed it most, while keeping her own emotions in control. She had to be the one to protect them. She had to be the infallible voice of reason and the will to endure. She had to save everyone from themselves.

She had shed few tears, and when she'd wiped them from her face, she'd look at them with wonder. Tears were foreign to her. There were few times in her life that she had actually cried. And she'd admit only to herself that she was tired. This had taken a lot out of her, and everyday she could felt more and more of her energy being sapped away from her doing just the mundane things in her life. But she had to keep it together, to muster up strength from somewhere.

Sleep was her only way to reenergize, her only escape, her only means of really getting any rest, even with her cryptic dreams that meant everything and nothing. In her dreams, no one needed her. She was safe from all her emotions. She was free to lose control while lost in this fantasy world that her mind concocted. Sometimes, she'd wake up and all she'd want to do is go back to sleep.

She wouldn't falter, though. She would stay strong for herself, for her family.

- - -

Side note: This fic is almost done, and I'd originally thought I post it as one long one-shot, but that's not in the stars. The next to last chapter of this fic (or the last chapter for this site) will be edited due to some explicit sexual content, but if you want to read it, it will be posted in it's entirety at either the Rolo Realm and Adultfanfiction – both links can be found in my profile.