Background: This is a dark little one-shot involving Jean Grey in mourning. Meant to take place when Rogue was seventeen or eighteen, and Jean is twenty-one. Gambit is now an X-Man. Hints of Romy, no other planned pairings.
Warnings: some language and major angst.
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men, nor am I making money from this story.
Rain poured down from the dark sky, as if even the heavens were mourning the loss of life. It had been raining steadily for hours now, and it didn't appear as if the early spring shower was going to stop anytime soon.
The rain, however, was nothing compared to the amount of tears Jean Grey had cried in the past few days. They had been one of Jean's constant accessories for almost a week, and one she would keep with her the rest of her life.
I'm glad it's raining, Jean thought heavy-heartedly as she closed the door to her black SUV, a gift from her parents for her seventeenth birthday. I don't want blue skies and sunshine. Not on a day like this.
Aparticularly strong gust of wind blew open her camel-colored Dior trenchcoat as she stepped onto the sidewalk, allowing her Sevens jeans and her cashmere sweater to be splashed with raindrops, but Jean continued to walk. She grimaced as she unwittingly placed her foot in a puddle, but rather than concern for her expensive footwear, it was from frustration with herself that she once would've have bothered to worry about such a trivial and materialistic thing like her leather boots being ruined .
Now Jean Grey was long past the point of caring.
She entered the open gate into Bayville cemetery, fresh tears stinging her eyes. She didn't bother to brush them away; she knew once she started crying, she wouldn't be able to stop.
Jean walked past the rows to the freshest grave dug in the earth. The headstone was dark granite, with an all too familiar name inscribed upon it. Jean stared at it, remembering the owner of that name.
Grief swelled in her chest, creating a lump in her throat that didn't quite choke the sobs that soon followed.
"Why?" Jean demanded through her tears. "Why would you just lay down your life like that? For me?"
Jean's throat felt sore from all of the crying she'd been doing lately, but she ignored the sensation and continued. "You would've done that for Kurt or Kitty." Jean's voice grew quiet. "For Logan, for Scott, for Remy." She whispered. "Why me?"
The tears were falling faster now. Jean had no idea when, or if she would ever stop crying. She never wanted to, that was for sure.
"You were barely three months away from graduating. You had just been accepted at Princeton, for God's sake!" Jean didn't know why this mattered, but for some reason she thought it should.
"Why would you sacrifice yourself for me, Rogue?" Jean demanded, her voice trembling. "Why would you give your life to protect me, of all people?"
Jean gazed at the grave with such fixation that a casual passerby would have thought she was trying to resurrect its occupant. She shivered; she hadn't thought to bring an umbrella, only thinking she needed to get away from the Institute for awhile. Jean had been desperate for some isolation, some privacy, but the other grieving residents of the Mansion were apparently eager for that, too.
When she had gone into the kitchen to get a drink because her throat was so dry from sobbing, Logan had been sitting at the table finishing off a six-pack, eyes red from mourning the loss of his surrogate daughter. Jean had felt like an intruder, and so she had left him to his anguish, knowing he wouldn't take sympathy, or even empathy very well. In away Jean knew how Logan felt: that he was the one suffering the most out of all them, due to how close he and Rogue had been. Jean herself was too exhausted with sorrow to tell him different.
The New Recruits had taken over the library, united in a hope that together they would be better able to cope with such a hard loss, and Dr. McCoy was doing his best to console them, but was too grief-stricken himself to really help. Kurt's sorrow was practically tangible in the air, and Scott had gone to comfort his friend.
When Jean passed Professor Xavier's study she had picked up both his thoughts and Mystique's, reminiscing about the girl who had never thought much of herself, but everyone else thought the world of. Their grief had seemed beyond tears. Jean had concluded that the woman had come to visit Kurt in attempt to give him strength during this hellish time. Evan had returned for the funeral, and Jean could sense him and Ororo in the living room, so she had walked into the Rec room with the hope of driving out the despair by filling her head with the nonsense on the tube. Kitty was already there, and offered Jean a wan smile as the redhead joined her on the couch to watch reruns of That 70's Show, but then an advertisement for Goth Topic came on, and Kitty ran from the room sobbing. It was then that Jean had felt the overwhelming urge to get out of the house.
And so here she was.
Rain mixed with the tears running down her face as sobs wracked Jean's frame. "Why?" She screamed, her voice hoarse with raw sorrow. "Why?"
"I wish I knew, mon amie."
Jean turned to see Remy standing a few paces behind her, a bouquet of roses in his hand. Flowers. She hadn't even thought of that.
Jean moved to allow him space to stand beside her. He stepped forward and placed the bouquet against her headstone, then looked at Jean.
"Dat belle femme was one of de greatest people I ever knew." Remy said solemnly. His own tears dripped from unusual red and black eyes.
Another sob forced its way from Jean's throat. Remy put an arm around her comfortingly. He hadn't been outside for very long; his ponytail was still relatively dry.
"She really thought ya were amazing." Remy said.
"What?" Jean looked at him in confusion. "Rogue never liked me. I can't even figure out why she would do this." Another sob shook her body.
"Dat's obvious, ain't it?" Remy took his arm from around Jean to shuffle his playing cards. "Rogue admired ya. She knew she could never be like ya, cheerleading, playing soccer, running track, and all dat. But she admitted ya were talented."
"I suppose you knew her pretty well." Jean swallowed.
Remy smiled bitterly. "Ain't never gonna meet another fille like that one. Ain't never gonna try, either."
"So because Rogue's gone, you're just going to be miserable the rest of your life?" Jean challenged.
"Well it's something we can have in common." Remy glanced at her meaningfully.
The tears blurred Jean's vison, and she could no longer see. "What hell do you want me to do, Remy? She died! She saved my life by dying in my place! How-" Jean's words were broken by a sob, "how do you expect me to react to that?"
"Ya said Rogue never liked ya." Remy said, brushing his hand across his face.
"She didn't." Jean said raspily.
"But ya said she died for ya."
Jean said nothing, but her sobs conveyed more meaning than words could ever say.
"You don't think I know that?" Jean asked when she had calmed enough to speak again. Her tears hadn't ceased, and neither had Remy's. "She shoved me away from those rabid mutant-hating bastards to take the bullet herself. And she died." Jean choked. "When I got to her side, she was dead."
There had been no last words to say to Rogue; maybe that was what tore Jean to pieces the most out of everything. Rogue had no dying words because she was dead before she hit the ground. At least it had been quick for the younger girl, but Jean felt like a monster to even think those words.
Jean looked Rogue's headstone, at the depiction carved from the granite. "That's what she was. An angel. A dark angel." Jean's red hair fell in front of her face for a moment, shielding her grief from the world. Then she straightened. "It was like she was my guardian angel."
"If she was that willing to die for ya, mon amie, I don't think she didn't like ya." Remy said. "No one else blames ya for dis, Jean. Maybe ya should stop blaming yerself."
"Why did it have to be this way?" Jean sobbed. "I never- I didn't-"
"I know dis hurts a helluva lot, Jean."Remy walked over to her, worried his friend might collapse. "Trust me, I know."
"I want her back." Jean whispered. She threw her head back and screamed to the sky. "I want her back!"
"So do I , Jean." Remy said, sorrow laced with every word. "So do I." Images of Rogue filled Jean's mind. She could remember the girl laughing, smiling, scowling at her from across the room. Clunking up the stairs in her heavy combat boots, swaying to music that only she could hear on her iPod. Dominating the Danger Room sessions, taking off for motorcycle rides with Logan after she had gotten her license.
Within weeks, everything about Rogue would be erased. Her posters would be taken down from the walls, leaving only spots of chipped paint to tell where they'd hung. Her possessions would be given to her mother, Mystique. There would be no Rogue to complain about waking up early. No Rogue to argue with Bobby about what TV channel to watch, or to hassle Scott to change the radio station, which he would eventually do amiably. Scott had always harbored a soft spot for Rogue, something Jean had secretly been jealous of.
Jean and Rogue had been very different. When Rogue would complain, Jean would look on the bright side. When Rogue had a problem with someone, she made it clear, but Jean would try to be polite no matter what. When Rogue would argue, Jean would try to be agreeable. If Rogue was brooding, Jean would try to be enthusiastic. Rogue was a rebel where Jean was an honor roll student.
Jean hadn't meant to, but she had used Rogue as an example for herself as how not to be. And yet, she and Rogue had been alike. When Rogue was involved in a dispute, Jean never knew her side of the argument to be irrational. Sometimes Jean even agreed, though not out loud. And when Rogue used her powers against the New Mutants for annoying her, Jean didn't approve, but inwardly she had thought they'd had it coming to them. Jean sometimes thought that Rogue was much like her. Except Rogue was her antithesis.
And so when Jean mourned Rogue, it wasn't just because Jean felt responsible for Rogue's death. It was because when Rogue died, a part of Jean died with her. Jean had always known what to do because Rogue did the opposite.
But now, Rogue had left her alone.
And Jean didn't know what to do.
At first, I debated to have Scott in the story, then Mystique, then I decided on Remy. It might've worked better with another charcter, but I still thought this turned out okay in the end.