Title: Another Day In Paradise
Disclaimer: Not mine, the characters belong to Marvel and I'm just borrowing them for a spell.
Summary: A brief look into Jean and Emma's life together amid the chaos of life at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. The story is a companion piece to my story Underneath it All, and takes place about a year after the events depicted in that story.
Note: Loosely (very loosely) based in the Astonishing verse with the major change of Jean and Emma are a couple and the head mistresses of the institute in Xavier's absence.
Frost-Grey Bedroom - Night
Emma stared at the ceiling as she fought a powerful urge to sigh, loudly. Being in the dog house was no fun. She had anticipated that her little stunt would upset Jean, but she didn't think that the redhead would have stayed upset for this long. Of course she knew, theoretically, that telling Jean what she had planned would have been the wisest course of action, but she knew that if she had told her that Jean just would have talked her out of it and that would have been no good since it had been an effective demonstration.
Turning her head to the side, Emma once again took up her night watch over Jean. Her lover had her back turned to her and was lying on her side near the edge of the bed putting as much space as possible between them without actually falling over the edge.
It was almost comical, really.
Shifting slightly, Emma tuned onto her side as well and inched her way across the mattress until she was lying behind Jean. She then wrapped her arm around the redhead's waist, spooning her before she placed a soft kiss on her exposed shoulder.
"Stop that," Jean said almost immediately. She hadn't been asleep and she suspected Emma knew that which was why she had slinked on over.
Emma simply continued to softly caress Jean's skin with her lips. She knew that her lover hadn't been asleep. Jean wasn't finding it any easier to sleep all the way over on the other side of the bed than she was.
Even though Jean was mad at her, she still missed her touch.
"Emma, I mean it. Go back over to your side of the bed," Jean said struggling to turn around in the loose circle of Emma's arms so that she could then push the blonde away from her body.
"I can't sleep," Emma responded, almost pouting as she relaxed her body to make it more difficult for Jean to push her away though she didn't obviously put up a fight.
Jean would have found the blonde's expression cute at any other time, but as things were it just made her push harder.
Emma wasn't going to charm or caresses her way out of this.
"Then use the time to think about what you've done," Jean muttered once she managed to get Emma far enough way that they weren't touching anymore.
Emma stared at her for a moment as if considering something and then opened her mouth to speak.
"Don't even think about it," Jean said before Emma could speak, she didn't need telepathy to know that her lover was about to give her some kind of half-assed apology.
Emma leaned back on the bed, a soft exhalation of air escaping her as her head hit the pillow.
"I'm just trying to prepare them," she said softy but seriously, her gaze on the white ceiling above, a surface she had become very familiar with over the past hour. "It's a hostile world out there, even more so than when we were children. Eons ago," she added knowing that normally Jean would find it funny. "We're not doing them any favors by treating them with kid gloves, patting their heads and telling them that everything will be alright, and that love conquers all, and that we should all just stand around in a circle singing Kumbaya while making friendship bracelets and eating cake. They not only need to know how to defend themselves, they need to be aware that there will be a need for them to defend themselves."
Jean was quiet for a long moment after Emma had spoken. She had heard her lover earlier in the day say something about how the homo-sapiens would always hate them at the end of her opening assembly speech, but she had been distracted quieting down and comforting the students in the aftermath of Emma's not so little demonstration. Once order had been returned, she had not been in a very forgiving mood and had chalked up Emma's closing words as an extension of her 'lesson'. However, while her words were dramatic, Jean now realized that she also strongly believed them – which she realized, thinking about some conversations they'd had in the past, shouldn't have surprised her.
"Emma," Jean finally said turning to face the blonde, reaching out for her a moment later and placing her hand on Emma's cheek trying to draw the blonde's eyes over to hers. "I know the Homo-Sapiens disappoint you," she continued when Emma's clear blue eyes landed on her. "They disappoint me too. There are times … I've had moments of doubt too, when I've turned on the television and seen another report about a mutant being attacked, or have accepted another student into the institute that's been kicked out of their school or home. Even Charles had moments of weakness when he wondered if his vision for the future, for humanity, was just a pipe dream," she went on feeling Emma relax under her touch even though her eyes were still watching her intently and curiously.
"Ultimately, despite our disappointments and doubts, what we do here is practice hope. Maybe what you said is true, maybe they will always hate us, maybe Charles has started us on a fools errand. But, maybe one day if we fight hard enough and long enough we can close the divide. I don't know, but what I do know is that I can't live thinking that we're doomed. I can accept finite disappointments but only because my hope is infinite," Jean continued feeling Emma shift under her hand, her eyes momentarily flickering away from Jean's face. "We need to teach these children how to control their powers, we need to teach them how to defend themselves should be the need arise, but we should never teach them fear Emma. Fear is the killer of hope, and when we lose hope they've won."
Emma was quiet when Jean stopped speaking, her eyes dropping away again so that she could watch as her hand came to rest on Jean's hip once again, certain now that the redhead wouldn't pull away. Then she slowly shifted forward until their noses touched, holding Jean close for a second before dipping down to capture her lips, kissing her slowly, softly, a fleeting thought that she could taste Jean's goodness flashing in her mind.
It made her tighten her hold on her lover and deepen the kiss.
She sometimes felt like succubus around Jean, clinging to her desperately, feeding on her decency and light to draw her out of the dark and sustain her, terrified by the thought that one day she might bleed Jean dry.
"Hope has always been a frightful, elusive thing for me," Emma mumbled finally pulling away from Jean's lips, resting her head on the redhead's shoulder as Jean gently brushed some hair off of her face. "I can't do it. Not in the face of endless disappointments."
"You can," Jean replied immediately. "You have," she continued looking down, her eyes traveling over Emma's mane of white-blonde hair. "You're here," she went on as Emma lifted her head from her shoulder and leaned back putting some space between them so that she could see Jean's face, "teaching, looking after the children, preparing them for the future despite the pain that doing so has caused you in the past. You could have given up, used your vast resources to buy an island somewhere and commissioned some kind of giant laser to destroy to planet, or you could have stayed with the Hellfire Club and plotted to take over the government, but you didn't because you believed you could make a difference."
Emma released a sharp puff of air through her nostrils and closed her eyes.
"Sometimes I don't recognize myself through your eyes," the blonde mumbled shaking her head.
She was completely unused to being described with integrity and honor instead of hostility and disgust, and sometimes she wondered if the others were right and Jean was seeing something inside of her that just wasn't there. However, most of the time she preferred to think of herself as a treasure hunt and concluded that Jean had simply arrived at the 'X' first.
She didn't always recognize what Jean saw in her, but she liked the person she was in Jean's eyes.
When Emma stilled again Jean leaned forward and pressed her lips to her lovers tenderly before taking up the position Emma had occupied moments ago, resting her head on the blonde's shoulder.
Even if Emma couldn't see it yet, she believed in her. But, even with that being true, the blonde hadn't really expected – and Jean suspected – didn't really want a sappy response to her statement, so she didn't voice one.
Snuggles however, she knew Emma never turned down.
"You said it was an effective demonstration," Jean said a moment later knowing a change of subject was necessary. She was feeling somewhat emotionally exhausted herself and sensed the same fatigue coming off of Emma. It had been long a day, and was too late at night to continue the conversation they'd been having. She wasn't sure what it said about their lives that discussing the simulated Sentinel attack Emma had thrust on the students during the opening assembly to show them the importance of constant vigilance was a light topic, but she wasn't going to dwell on that at the moment.
"Hmm," Emma said glad for the change in topic, and the physical contact. "During the chaos I scanned the students. Nearly ten percent of them were quite titillated by the prospect of a fight."
Jean frowned at that, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on those students. Despite the rather pessimistic tone of her speech, Emma had mentioned the importance of non-violence which was a very necessary statement. The last thing the institute, the X-Men, or mutants at large needed was a bunch of cowboys that liked loud noises taking things into their own hands.
"Which students …" Jean began.
"I'm not Charles, dear … or you for that matter," Emma interrupted knowing Jean was going to ask which students were excited by the opportunity to fight.
She was slightly annoyed by the question since if Jean had stopped for a half a second to think before speaking she would have remembered that she wasn't nearly as powerful a telepath as the redhead or Xavier.
"I can narrow down the list over the next couple of days, but it'd probably just be easier if you did it," she finished sighing slightly.
"If you want," Jean replied hearing the slight irritation in Emma's voice and knowing that she'd annoyed her a little with the question. The alpha in Emma didn't like any reminders that anyone was a more powerful mutant than her, even if it was her life partner.
"It would be best," Emma responded reaching out for Jean. "Tomorrow," she continued smiling slightly as her hand slipped under the thin silky, spaghetti string tank top Jean was wearing.
Emma was sure that somewhere in the back of Jean's mind the redhead had hoped they would make up, because there was no excuse for wearing something like that to bed if she didn't plan on being at least a little frisky.
"Mmm," was all that Jean managed to get out before she leaned forward and captured Emma's lips, keeping them busy for quite a few hours afterward.