Author's Note: This is a companion piece to 'Because You Love Her'. It's written from Storm's POV. Like the first story, this seeks to fill in a gap in X3—the moments leading up to and immediately following Jean's death. Or maybe it's just another bunny that just wouldn't go away. Since it kept me up until 4 a.m., I figure I have to post it, if for no other reason than because I don't want to have lost all that sleep for nothing. Enjoy.
Not For Them
As we board the jet, he is silent. No one approaches him or attempts to speak to him. Not even me.
The younger team members give him a wide berth because they always do after a particularly bloody fight. Idle chit-chat, they have learned, will only get them growled at. The Wolverine needs time to decompress, to squelch the blood lust and relegate the killer instinct to the deepest part of his psyche. But tonight even the first-timers, Kitty and Peter, know that this time was different, although they don't understand why. Not the way I do.
I alone know what really happened.
Always before, it was the beast who wielded the claws. Not today. This time, the Wolverine had no part in the killing.
It was Logan who climbed up that concrete slab, not his feral alter-ego. And in his eyes, it wasn't the Phoenix who waited for him at the top; it was Jean. When he plunged those blades into her body, it wasn't an act of violence; it was an act of pure love.
I'm the only one of us who saw it happen. The others were busy getting the boy with the bald head and the big blue eyes to safety, but I stopped running and turned around just in time to see the words forming on their lips as they spoke to each other for the last time. I couldn't hear their voices, but still somehow I understood every word as if I were standing right next to them on that piece of the Golden Gate Bridge…
"You would die for them?" the Phoenix asks, her black eyes filled with contempt. The Phoenix has no concept of self-sacrifice, cannot comprehend compassion or loyalty. His motivation escapes her.
Logan's face registers confusion and disbelief as he answers her.
"Not for them," he declares, tears running down his cheeks.
Her expression softens, begs for clarification. If not for them, then who?
"For you," he assures her, "for you."
The air goes completely still, no longer vibrating with the energy released by the bodies and objects the Phoenix obliterated in her wrath. Logan's words have found their mark. Jean is in control again.
Recognition fills Jean's eyes as they flash from black to red to their original beautiful green. She knows her savior.
For one tiny instant, a spark of hope flares in Logan's eyes. Hope that his claws won't have to be stained with her blood. Hope that the woman he would eagerly sacrifice himself to rescue has instead defeated her own demons and can come home again.
But she knows better. She knows what she needs from him now.
Logan's hope dies and is reborn as admiration for her bravery. The look of understanding that passes between them is so deep, so intimate; it almost makes his last words to her redundant.
"I love you."
Her unspoken I know hangs in the air between them as he sinks his claws into her belly. And in that moment, as he cradles her dying body against his, before her eyes close for the last time, his face glows with the realization that she finally sees him the way he has always wanted her to see him. He is, once and for all, the good guy.
Hank offers to pilot the jet back to New York so that I can stay with Logan, but I politely refuse his kind offer. Logan does not need me now. He will grieve alone at first, inside himself, like he did for the professor and even for Scott. Eventually, as he did when Jean vanished beneath the waters of Alkali Lake, he will seek me out and we will take comfort in shared memories—and in each other's warmth and love. But not now.
He claims his usual seat, directly behind me, and straps himself in with practiced ease. He deliberately shuns eye contact with the entire team, unwilling to risk showing even a sliver of his vulnerability to them.
My heart breaks for him as I take the controls and turn the Blackbird toward home.