Notes: A little early Christmas present for all you femslash fans out there! Don't know how to (or even if I should) continue this, so feedback will be appreciated. Perhaps give me some ideas?

I Know

by Yimmy

Christmas should not hurt like this. I heard people talking about this most wonderful time of the year, a season filled with good cheer and greater will. Miracles happened, not tragedies.

Yet "Scott and Emma" was a tragedy.

They sat in the back now, ogling each other, pressing their lips together, Emma's left hand massaging his swelling crotch, his palms squeezing and fondling her leather wrapped buttocks. The other X-Men pretended not to see, their eyes forced onto the television and its associated yuletide film. They pretended for the sake of pretending, to give the headmaster and headmistress their privacy, but most importantly, they pretended for Jean.

Well, that is everyone but Logan and myself.

He sat in the front, angled in such a way that his sidelong stares could cruise over Jubilation's head, shoot past Rogue's shoulder, and see Scott gently nibbling on Emma's lower lip. The stocky man's mood remained as dark as a raging storm's, evidenced by his external jugular vein showing through the tensed skin of his neck. His sharp canines gleamed as bright as diamonds, froze there by his silent snarl.

I, on the other hand, kept my neutral look. Instead of Logan's rage, my heart ached with a malignant, unyielding pain. The only shows of emotion I could have conveyed were tears, and in the interest of keeping my sanity, I refrained.

If I started crying now, I may never stop.

Unlike Logan or Rachel, I did not begrudge Emma of capturing Scott's affections. The White Queen had a craving for power and generously gifted sexual organs, two things any man with a last name of Summers had in great supply. Add to that her obsession for acceptance and it served as no surprise whose bed she gravitated towards. No, Emma was not at fault here.

Neither was Scott. He needed companionship and the only one brave enough to give it to him was Emma. He took what life gave him and tried to turn it into a positive. Emma made him feel alive. Emma had sex with him. Emma became his partner to restore the Xavier Institute. Emma did not allow him to wallow in his own inadequacies or losses. Emma was good for Scott and he realized that.

But Jean made them a tragedy because their relationship signaled an acceptance of her death. Their breathless gasps killed what was left of the Phoenix and I could not accept that. She might have been meant to die. She might have seen her fate coming. She might have engineered it. She might have accepted it.

I could not.

"Excuse me," I said, getting up from my space on the couch sandwiched between Lorna and Ororo. Everyone waited for the reason behind my departure but I gave them none. Emma's moan as Scott slipped a finger beneath her waistband was enough to send their heads back to the television.

Over Henry, around Lucas, and by the coupling couple I walked. Emma gave me a sultry grin, convinced that her flamboyant display had sent me running. True though it was, I refused to give her any satisfaction. My legs carried me out of the entertainment room, up two flights of stairs, and into my sanctuary.

Ororo called my room Spartan. Lucas called it functional. Logan grunted in quiet appreciation. I did not tell them that this was the way I lived because I had no use for anything I could not carry on myself. My childhood taught me that harsh lesson, my years in the Hellfire Club only reinforcing it. I never told anyone the reason for my preference.

Anyone except for Jean.

I took off my sunglasses and stared into my bathroom mirror. My ashen white complexion brought out the scars given to me by Elias Bogan. Running over them: the tears I had been holding back for months. Interestingly, my throat did not constrict nor did my eyes run red. My hands remained as steady as they had ever been and my lips did not quiver. I was not crying but I was sure some part of my soul hurt so deeply that my body could not ignore it.

Christmas always reminded me of her.

We met at this time of year ages ago. Charles had just brought me to the United States and I was still learning the language. Even then my mentor had grand plans, fueled by Magnus' jadedness and the horrors which faced emerging mutants. He wanted to ease me into this different society so he brought me on many of his recruiting trips in an attempt to teach me social etiquette, subtle manipulation, and compassion. That was how I met Jean, the girl who lay quietly at her parents' house, eyes wide open and mind closed.

While he broke her from that catatonic prison, my face was the first one she saw.

"Who are you?" she asked innocently.

"Tessa," I replied.

"Oh. Ok."

She did not ask. She did not pry. She did not demand any more out of me, but she accepted me. When she found it was Christmas, she even gave me a present. For the first time, I was not looked upon with scorn or pity, not when she learned I was a mutant, not when I told her I did not have any friends. Charles smiled that smile of his as he saw me emerging from my isolated shell. Whenever he visited Jean, he brought me along, and through those visits, our lives intertwined. She envied how I had such a tight control over my telepathy. I envied her easy laugh and telekinetic prowess. Despite our world of differences (or perhaps because of), we became close friends. I had never met a person as genuine as her, a true free spirit with nothing to hide and no ulterior motives to guide her. Because she was so honest, I was honest with her, honest about the kind of life I had before Charles rescued me, honest in why I became his student. She trusted Charles because I trusted him.

Still, a year passed before he offered her a chance to come with us back to Westchester.

"Tessa, this is going to be so great! We'll be around each other all the time!"

But it was not meant to be. The Hellfire Club caught his attention and he had no way to monitor it. They had some sort telepathic blocker developed by persons unknown. Cerebro showed signs of mutant activity. Rumors of a mutant eradication machine filtered into his ears. Seeing no other option, Charles pressed me into action. A day before Jean was suppose to show up at the mansion, I called her.

"Where are you going?"

"I cannot tell you, Jean."

"Is this like that show, Mission: Impossible?"

"Maybe, I do not know."

"Umm… do you think Professor Xavier is going to make me do whatever you're doing?"

I recalled the words he said to me, the things about the X-Men being heroes and the need for those who stood in the shadows. The Hellfire Club required me to be in the shadows, a place I had lived in much of my life and been very familiar with. Jean was so bright, so good, so pure…

"No," I answered with more certainty than I had ever known. Whatever was going to happen to me was not going to happen to her; of that much I promised myself.

"Well, don't be too long now. I'll wait for you to get back!"

That was the last I heard recognition in her voice. To protect my cover, Charles told me he eradicated my memory from her mind. I felt numb, betrayed even, but by then I was in the Hellfire Club and in no position to return to the mansion. Still I held out hope because I knew no one, not even Charles, could touch my memories of Jean. I believed that I could reach her, that we could reclaim our lost time together, that I would not be Sebastian Shaw's plaything for long.

I learned otherwise.

It was not until Jean, now a grown woman so beautiful and vibrant, appeared at Mastermind's side that I saw her again. I risked everything by breaking my shields and touching her mind, but Jason had confused her so fully, corrupted her so deeply, she was not herself. I nearly died when the Dark Phoenix erupted from her, but it was not because of the awesome telekinetic powers.

I had lost my friend.

Yet through my grief, a longing woke. Imagines of Jean, dressed in that velvet cape and bust held in check by that black corset, assaulted me. At night, I dreamed of taking her on the bed of her parents' home, the same bed on which we talked and played. During the day, I took every opportunity to investigate her supposed demise, going so far as to demand it of the Professor. I found myself enjoying sex with redheaded women because I could conjure Jean's face over theirs and pretend, pretend she was not dead, pretend someone named Scott Summers had not taken her love. Emma and Selene observed my preference and tried to seduce me: I let them think they succeeded only because their bodies matched closest with what I envisioned Jean's would be.

The sick game continued even when I found out she was alive, even when she battled against the Hellfire Club, even when an amnesic Madelyne Pryor showed up as Selene's thrall. Sebastian thought I was acting on his orders when I cornered her. In reality, I did so because I held a glimmer of hope that she was Jean, not Madelyne. My memories of Jean triggered a violent reaction in her psyche, one which left me bedridden for weeks and her amnesia lifted.

Being telepathically wounded by Jean's clone—unknown to me, that was the closest I would ever get to her.

My fist pounded softly against the bathroom mirror, the hurt still there and the rage still muted. When I returned to the X-Men, I watched her from afar, contenting myself with her mere presence. We had moved on, I tried to reason. Even if Charles had not destroyed our past, we were no longer bright-eyed teens. Maybe some time in the future, when we knew each other again, I could tell her about us, show her what our mentor took away, maybe even be friends again.

Then she had to die before my eyes. The others told me that Scott never stopped mourning for her the first time she died, that even when he married Madelyne he held a torch for her. They said he waited months before looking at another woman. In the unsaid air between them, they knew as long he held her memory, Jean was not dead.

I saw no torch now as he all but fucked Emma in front of us. Jean was dead and it was Christmas.

Christmas should not hurt like this. I should not have to miss out on what Henry termed as her "annual celebratory psychosis." I should not be one of two people carrying her torch. She loved me like she loved everyone and everything, nothing less and nothing more. I had no claim to her heart, no claim to her affections, no right to even mourn her.

Yet she had all of me and no one knew.

A ripple against my fist on the mirror almost made me scream. My eyes shot up from sink to reflection, but my image was not staring back me.

"Jean," I gasped.

She was as beautiful as I remembered. Unlike her last moments, the Phoenix's flames did not engulf her, her eyes did not glow an inhuman white. Her glorious body—unfettered by clothes—met my gaze, every inch of her surpassing what my fantasies had told me about her. Her hand reached out, seemingly beyond the mirror, and caressed mine. I flattened out my palm to feel all of her.

She felt warm. Safe. Genuine.

I missed my chance once, and no matter how impossible my brain said this was, I was not going to miss another time. "I love you," I whispered at the ghost, scared my voice would carry out of my room and to the ears down below.

A kiss brushed against my skin as a warm shiver took me in its grasp. "I know."

"H… he had no… no… right," I stuttered, emotions long since repressed bursting forth ferociously. I remembered the long nights in the Hellfire Club where only her face kept me warm. I remembered seeing her with Mastermind and praying for a hint of recognition from her. I remembered her dying and wishing for myself to die in her place.

"I know."

"Do you? Do you know how much I hurt every passing second? Do you know how I fell in love with your memory? Do you know the kind of deviant things I have done to ensure you would not have to do the same? Do you know how much of Charles' manipulation I endured because I thought I would come back to you? Do you know how much I love you?"

By now my face hovered an inch from the mirror. My breath should have put a thin layer of condensation on it, but no. With her palm pressed against mine, Jean leaned forward. The glass warped as if water. The glossy, reflective qualities melted into a frightening realness. Her lips surged against mine, hungry like eternity. Our tongues lashed out against one another, neither holding any of ourselves back, both being consumed by a need transcending Charles' dream and his reasons. She tasted soft, soft like air, soft like innocence, soft unlike anything I had ever known. She was generously demanding, erotically romantic, and roughly sensual.

When she stopped, I found my hands and face flat against the mirror. She was still there, though now shielded from me. Fire crept up from all around her, molding itself into the Phoenix.

"No!" I screamed at her fading image, not caring anymore who heard me. "You will not leave me again!"

"I know," she said one last time. Then, she added with a smile, "I won't."

Someone pounded against my door. "Tessa?" Ororo's voice. "Are you all right?"

"Jean!" My hands bashed against the mirror, against the fire, against the Phoenix, against my loneliness. "JEAN!"

But she disappeared anyway, leaving me to my tears.

- The End?