Jean shook from the chill the morning air brought as she surfaced herself from the slowly decaying house. It has taken some doing but with Wolverines sheer strength and her power of telekinesis they had been able to rip away the remaining vines. She paled slightly at the odour which had assaulted her senses as the drying vines had been torn away; the smell of death had never been so pungent.
Her thoughts then focused more on the fact that it was indeed morning, her heart raced in panic as she realised that although it was at the latest 6am people would still be rising and they didn't need to see any this. She looked back to see Wolverine emerge from the low door and wipe the grime from his hairy arms, he would not be in a good mood for a while and Jean sighed from the predictable journey home with the two men.
"Where's the Cajun and that brat?" Wolverine grumbled coming up to meet Jean, she flinched as she heard the footfalls close to her as her mind was already on edge from the threat of unneeded attention. She closed her eyes and searched for Remy and the new mutant and immediately locked on to the wall of noise which still seemed to be the girl's way of protecting herself.
"Their back in the cemetery... whatever Gambits doing seems to be calming her down, I don't sense anymore... bodies" Jean replied, lowering her slim hands back to her sides, "We better get going, I don't want any of the residents round here to notice us" Jean looked back to Wolverine who nodded with a grunt.
Remy helped the girl to stand, feeling the distrust that still lingered in the back of her mind. There was no doubt the girl was odd, with or without powers she was a character but there was something deeper with her and he felt it. He could tell the young girl had been hurt many times in the past and this would have strengthened her distrust. He followed Mercy out of the tomb, thankful for the clean air that met him with the early morning sky. Now out into the semi light of the morning he could just about make out the images of his fellow X-men in the distance, however it seemed that Mercy had spotted them to and Gambit felt her tense. Mercy stopped in her tracks,
"Heey, cheri do not be nervous" Remy moved to stand next to Mercy, patting her shoulder as comfort, he jumped as the girl snapped her eyes up to his,
"Gambit" Her voice wavered slightly "Promise I will be okay?" Remy blinked, he'd never promised anyone anything. He stared into the girls eyes unable to look away from them, he hadn't noticed until now that they were an unusual colour, a pale yellow not unlike the dried chamomile Aurora used in her tea. It was then he was hurried from his musings, the eyes shadowed by a frown,
"Petite, I promise you I will let you come to no harm" Remy smiled his signature smile in reassurance, "my friends are to be trusted oui?" Mercy nodded in reply although it was obvious she wasn't entirely sure but a small smile was shown in return of his. They continued on to meet up with Jean and Wolverine. Jean bit her lip as she catalogued the state that the girl was in, it appeared that the last thing she had worn was her school uniform although now the blue tartan skirt was frayed and torn beyond repair and one side dangling in tatters. Her school shirt and cardigan were soaked and darkened from dried blood as well as the single sock that had remained on her foot. Jean felt the sudden apprehension in the girls footfalls as her and Logan neared them.
"You guys look like death" Gambit joked, trying to break the tension that he felt so very strongly, Jean awkwardly smiled at the jest while Logan remained silent obviously still angered by the events not so long ago.
"Thanks Gambit" Jean replied, absently tugging a few pieces of tiny debris from her hair, she looked to the girl as they finally stopped in pace, "Sorry if we scared you back there" she sensed the distrust in the girl 'must be careful' she mused to herself. The girl didn't respond only looked around her as something ticked behind her eyes,
"Ey, we okay now right petite?" Gambit grinned and patted Mercy on the back softly only now in the daylight taking note of how small she seemed next to him, but the girl still wouldn't respond, "Mercy? You dere?" Gambit leaned over slightly trying to grab her attention.
She heard the question of her name from the large man behind the woman named Jean, but ignored it for right now she heard the stirring around her. Although her 'powers' had dimmed she knew that the remnant souls of the dead still felt it, desired it, for they still craved life. Is this what she'd felt for all these years walking through this graveyard? Each time she'd kidded herself that the scrape, click of whistle of the wind was just that of the elements was actually a decayed body craving to get closer? With no warning to the trio that surrounded her she turned heel and began a quick pace out of the cemetery,
"Wha-? Whoa! Mercy where you goin?" Gambit, startled and the drag of his arm from around the girl turned to catch up followed by Jean who had been taken equally by surprise,
"Logan, are you coming?" Jean looked back, her red hair playing in the early morning light; Logan grunted avoiding eye contact,
"I ain't chasing after no girls, I'll be waiting in the jet" Jean sighed as she watched Logan walk back in the direction of the landed jet, she recognized not to push the matter and in some way she knew that Logan has seen the wariness in the girls eyes when she had first laid eyes on him, perhaps him not tagging along was best for them all. With a quick last glance to Logan she turned and ran after Gambit and the girl.
She felt the gravel beneath her feet as she pounded against the pavement not caring for the pain and more for the distance of herself and that god forbidden cemetery. As she heard the foreign man shout her name behind her she looked up to see herself now out and in front of the row of street her house resided. With a quickened step she aimed for her house, not sure as to why but she had an urging desire to go there. The last tall hedge of the other houses finished and next to it was the dewy rosebushes that she and her next door neighbour had planted two springs ago. The gravel and glass crunched underfoot and she drew her gaze up to what once a white vicarage cottage. Remy came to a halt as he took sight of Mercy her figure a few feet away and static, he could see her eyes wandered over the house which was undoubtedly hers and he grimaced in concern.
"She is untrusting" He breathed out as he felt Jean stop as his side,
"I can see that" Jean replied, her hands coming to rest on her small waist, "She spoke to you though, what did she say to you in that crypt?" Her eyes focused on Gambit who was currently facing away from her his attention fixed on Mercy,
"she is scared, she is angry" Gambit responded, in truth he had done more talking, "I think she is more at ease knowin' we are not white suits now" He turned his head back to Jean, smiling as to reassure,
"You told her about the school? About the professor?" Jean responded in surprise,
"I'm as shocked as you are cheri, not like me to go and pitch the professor now is it?" He turned back and twitched slightly when he noticed that Mercy was no longer in sight, "Merde! You see where she went?" He began walking, quickly turning to Jean,
"No" She responded frustrated, since the disturbing events earlier her game-face had slowly deteriorated, "But I sense she's in the house" she felt relieved that at least one part of her mind was alert. They both ran to the door, Gambit turned to his left and spied the girl in what had once been the kitchen picking up broken bits of porcelain plate. Jean stayed in the doorway as she watched Gambit approach the girl, whatever he had said or done had made the teen feel more at ease than whatever soft spoken words she had voiced earlier on. Her eyes wandered the scene, the walls were died a tinge of pink and the red vines which were once lush and viscous had now become thin and anorexic, not dissimilar to tree branches. Since they had evacuated the house it had turned into more a run down, unlived in house that was slowly being taken back by nature. The smell was now just musty and the ash on the floor which had once been corpses now only imitated thick dust. If she hadn't been so steadfast in what she had witnessed Jean would have just assumed it a delusion or dream - only the dried blood on the girl and the cuts on her own skin were symbols that what had occurred was real.
Mercy picked up a silver tray that had once held an old tea set, she numbly gazed into its warped and glinting reflection.
"Petite?" She felt the solid form of the one named Gambit come to her right side,
"The… things in the cemetery were restless" She replied, her words merging in a slur every now and then "I needed to get out". Remy felt a chill, although he was an empath he had never chanced upon the emotions of someone who for all intent and purpose were passed, the energy of such a creature were entirely different and something he hoped never to come across and for that he felt for the girl,
"They not around you no more?" he replied, quieter than he had expected but Mercy still heard,
"Too far away now, they are to weak… my dad bought me this, when I was ten" Mercy gripped the gilded edges of the silver tray and absently put it to her chest,
"Where is your father?" Gambit was not used to this 'caring' side of him, it had always been number one or at least until he had met Rogue, but this was not a lust or adult love, and he wasn't familiar with being gentle,
"He is in America, hes part of a large company and he's very busy" Gambit was taken aback by her response, it was almost like a well-rehearsed recording – there was no sense of heart ache,
"I see…. What about your mother?"
"Shes dead" again the lack of emotion was almost like an eerie peace, "If I come with you, I can find my father" Gambit wasn't sure of how she'd discovered they were from America, perhaps she had identified Jeans accent,
"Perhaps, America is big no?" He knew it was a small chance that she would find him, he had no idea how much the girl knew about her father or where he was but if it meant she would come with them it was too much of an opportunity to extinguish, "The Professor has his ways, I'm sure he could help you" Remy grinned warmly as the girl looked up, her eyes looked heavy and her pale complexion suggested her fatigue. Her eyes lowered to the direction of Jean who perked slightly at the sudden attention, Mercy placed the tray on a nearby table and with shallow steps walked over to Jean,
"I will come with you" The girl replied, her eyes lingering on anything but Jean,
"If that is what you want" Jean could tell the girl was still agitated but smiled warmly, "Would you want to grab a few possessions to take? Or find some clean clothes?" the girl nodded and turned to head up the stairs,
"I'll go with her Gambit; You keep an eye outside okay?" She looked to Remy, who had watched Mercy as she ascended,
"Yeah, sure" He responded and she felt an unsteadiness in his words,
"She's calm now, I think she'll be fine" Jean squeezed his leather clad shoulder as he passed; he'd obviously been shaken to. She waited for Remy to exit the house before following the girl up the staircase. The upstairs was just as dusty, the door to the girl's room was no longer there thanks to Logan and she noticed the girl crouched down next to what once was a bookcase. She had an old leather satchel in her lap and was carefully depositing what appeared to be tattered books into the confines.
"You like to read?" Jean asked softly, the girl paused,
"I like to write" She corrected, continuing to place the last fully intact book into her satchel, she stood up and placed the satchel against the wall nearest Jean and the doorway. She returned to the middle of the room and began undressing, Jean blinked and turned her gaze from the unexpected changing,
"You do not mind me being here while you…?" She queried, appreciating the girls dignity,
"You're a woman are you not?" Mercy glanced toward Jean as she nodded, "Then I have nothing which you have not seen on your own body" she smirked, "Also, having to get changed for p.e leaves you with little to worry about" Jean quirked her own lips up in response,
"Gambit said your name was Mercy" Jean chirped, feeling conversation was better than awkward silence as she watched the girl wander around in her underwear searching out clean clothes, everything had seemed to have become thrown around in the events earlier.
"Aye" Mercy responded as she slid a clean although slightly dusty pale yellow brassiere on and throwing the old and soiled one on the floor, she did the same with her knickers.
"M-my names Jean" Mercy turned around making Jean jump slightly and the suddenness, "Jean Grey" her eyes glanced at Mercy's torso to see an old whitened scar slither from her collar bone to her opposite thigh, she gave no signal that she'd seen it but noted that she must ask her about it a later date,
"Mercy Connolly" the young girl replied and nodded before turning back and dragging a pale blue dress out from underneath some broken wardrobe doors and pulled it over her head, letting it straighten out as she moved around, "ah.." she breathed as she spied a pair of old, black and very worn doc martin shoes under the tattered remains of her duvet. She grabbed the boots and slung them into the middle of the room before depositing herself down to pull them on,
"W-wait!" Jean gasped, running over to place a hand over hers, the girl jerked back instantly and bewildered, "I'm sorry" Jean bit her lip, "But, your feet" Mercy looked down to her feet and blinked in shock. The pads of her feet still had small pieces of gravel and glass lodged into the tender skin which ranged in differing colours of rouge, brown and purple; she was amazed that she hadn't felt anything until now as the warm sting of pain began radiating from her soles.
"Can I go find some water and a towel? I'm sure we can get some of the pieces out before we leave" Jean decided to avoid prying into Mercy's mind for now instead waiting to get a physical response – she had seen how agitated she had been at the discovery of Jeans ability early on. Mercy nodded and cradled one of her feet in her hands as Jean went in search of the necessary items. Mercy looked around her room and felt like she was somewhere else entirely, the wallpaper had been split and torn and the window panes shattered. Her furniture lay broken or tossed and most of the china dolls had been shattered. Her conscious mind focused to not let the memories of earlier in, she knew the voice that had spoken to her had not been entirely hallucinated, there was something there.
"Right! Lets get those feet cleaned up!" Jean padded in, holding a jug of water which Mercy recollected once having dried flowers in and a pink and white flannel which came from the bathroom. She welcomed the chirpy voice of this new stranger as it blocked out the memories of before, however any other time she may have asked the woman to leave, "Do you mind if i?..." Jean waited for Mercy to make eye contact,
"Your hands probably are steadier than mine" Mercy replied, scooting a foot out in Jeans direction,
"Don't worry, I help to heal wounds pretty much on a regular basis" She smiled before kneeling down in front of Mercy and gently taking her foot, "Why don't you use the flannel to clean your face and arms, you'll probably feel a bit fresher then" Jean smiled as Mercy took the damp flannel, staring and it briefly before proceeding to scrub her face. Jean lowers her gaze to the teens sore feet, somewhat relieved to see that there isn't as much debris embedded there as she first assumed. Carefully she pulls at the small pieces of glass, the shards coming away easily with only a few short gasps from Mercy,
"I overheard you and Gambit, you say your father is in America?" Jean begins, hoping that conversation will cover most of the discomfort,
"Yes," Mercy breathes, taking the flannel away from her face, a few strands of her ash brown hair following it, "He works there"
"Ooh, what does he do?" only a few more pieces left,
"He helps people" Mercy frowns, its been a long time since somebody asked about her dad,
"Really, is he a doctor? Or someone like that?" Jean sits up and takes the flannel that Mercy had placed back near the jug and submerges it in the water before rinsing and carefully wiping away the dirt and blood from her feet,
"Maybe…" the rest of the task is completed in silence, Mercy thanks Jean quietly and reaches to her side table which is still surprisingly intact. Inside is a pair of long lilac socks which feel gloriously soft as she pulls them onto her feet and to her knees. The boots go on with little resistance and she allows Jean to help her up,
"You can walk okay?" Jean worries, watching was Mercy gives her laces a final tug,
"Yeah, they don't really hurt" Mercy replies, looking to her feet and wiggling her toes under the leather.
"If you're sure" Jean allows Mercy to take the lead out the door, her satchel over her left shoulder scuffing slightly against the curve of her hip. Jean took one final look at the girls bedroom, something she had assumed Mercy would do but it never came 'the professor will have a field day analysing her' Jean thought, there were so many mysterious ticks.
Gambit surveyed the surrounding area, the policeman were still down for the count although after a more intent listen he was sure one had shifted to sleeping – a light snore on the airwaves. He perked as he heard a shuffling behind him, lilac clad legs came into view as a slightly cleaner Miss Connolly came through the front door. She smiled shyly at him and he wondered if she was really aware of what had taken place,
"You lookin' much fresher now Petite" Gambit beamed hoping to make Mercy more at ease,
"Its morning" Mercy looked up into the sky, the clouds glowed a deep red, "It'll rain today" she looked back down to Gambit, "If you want to leave we should do it now… Charlie usually comes around at half seven"
"Charlie?" Jean questioned behind her, Mercy turned her head,
"Paper boy" she replied shortly,
"Well, let's take our leave then" Gambit began his walk down the partially destroyed path, Mercy and Jean following shortly behind.
"You sure you've got all you need?" Jean queried one last time,
"I never was one for sentimentalities" Mercy lifted her gaze to Jean, "All I need is what's in here" She tapped her head and continued away from the house.