Public Relations

*Jean, that man is staring at you.*

*Thank you for pointing that out to me, Scott, I hadn't noticed.*

*Are you being sarcastic? It's kind of hard to tell.*

Jean tried to swallow her laughter, but it slipped through. The man gave her a funny look.

"So what are you kids doing at this conference?" the man asked, trying to make polite conversation. They had been stuck in the elevator for about three minutes, but already it felt like hours.

Scott pulled at the collar of his dress shirt nervously. At least Storm isn't here, he thought to himself. She would not do well in this small space. According to the workmen who Scott had talked to on the emergency telephone, it could be hours before they got out. They were stuck between floors and something was wrong with the cables.

"We're here to hear the debates on mutant rights and registration," Jean answered with a smile.

"For our school paper," Scott added hastily. He had spotted a pin on the man's jacket and suddenly the only thing he could think of was getting out of the elevatornow.

Jean shot Scott an annoyed look, *are you ashamed of the fact that we're mutants?* Jean thought in astonishment.

Scott didn't bother to answer, but instead thought *Jean, look at the pin that man is wearing.*

Jean looked. On the man's jacket was a large white button with the initials FOH printed in large black letters.

Jean gave out a small gasp. The friends of humanity. The professor had told his students all about them. They were an anti-mutant group who Logan had dubbed the KKK of the new millennium. Jean tried to maintain a clam exterior as she remembered reading about some of their peaceful' demonstrations.

Scott glanced over at Jean. His heart ached at the look on her face. It was a mixture of fear and embarrassment that made him realize the man had been projecting his thoughts. And with the way he had been staring at Jean's legs, Scott had a feeling what those thoughts were.

*Jean, let's play a game* Scott thought, hoping to get her mind off the man's thoughts.

*Ok, what game?*

*How about funny thoughts?*

Jean smiled, that was one of her favorites. She and Scott had been playing that game since they met. *Ok, here's one for you* Jean sent Scott a mental image of Logan in a tutu.

Scott bit his lip and struggled to regain his composure. The first one to laugh out loud lost and Scott was determined not to lose. He looked over at Jean and shook his head, *Nice try, but you're not getting me that easily*

Jean gave him a dazzling smile that took his breath away. She then promptly crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him.

A choke of laughter escaped before Scott could stop it.

"I win," Jean announced smugly, completely forgetting about the man staring at them.

"No way," Scott said as he crossed his arms, "That was against the rules, you're a cheater."

Jean turned her back to him, "You're just a sore loser."

"Well if those are the new rules, then I guess this is allowed," Scott reached out to her sides and began to tickle her through the black fabric of her dress.

Jean's knees weakened and she collapsed into a fit of giggles. Scott knew all of her most ticklish places. *Not the back, Scott, not the back* she thought as she felt her hands graze over the bare skin of her back.

"Yes, the back," Scott answered as he tickled her relentlessly.

Jean laughed breathlessly and turned to face him, her face lit up with pure happiness. Suddenly, she stopped. Her face paled, making the smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose stand out. She looked away from his eyes nervously and fixed her gaze on the floor.

Scott glanced at the man. He was staring again, his eyes half-closed slits. Scott placed a protective arm around Jean's waste and tried to pull her in close. *Jean, what's wrong?*

Jean just shook her head and pushed away. She looked ill. She backed into the corner of the elevator and continued to stare at the floor, tears were beginning to form in her eyes.

*What is he thinking? Jean, what is he thinking?* Scott thought, but he got no response. Jean had shut off their link. She doesn't want me to see what he is thinking, Scott realized in horror. It's THAT bad.

Jean blinked back tears as the images rushed into her head. "So what do they look like, mutants I mean," she asked in a harsh voice.

*Jean, what are you doing? What is he thinking?*

Jean didn't respond.

"Did you see the one who came to the conference? Dr. McCoy," the man said with a bitter laugh. "You can't miss him, he's the huge blue beast man."

"So are all mutants like that?"

"Like what?" the man straightened and asked.

"Ugly," Jean responded in a flat voice.

Scott could only stare in amazement. What the hell was this guy projecting to her that mad her this upset? *Where are you going with this, Jean? Don't get him angry*

The man reached into his coat pocket and removed a pamphlet. He held it out, "Here, take a look at this. It's one of our informational pamphlets," he smiled at Jean, happy that she had taken an interest in him.

Scott reached out and took the pamphlet. "Thanks," Scott said as he circled an arm around Jean's waste.

The man just blinked, he wasn't impressed at all.

Scott scanned the pamphlet. The cover had a picture of a typical American family. Nice house, white picket fence, two kids a dog. Hell, he thought with a smirk, this could be Jean's family. "The Friends of Humanity" was written across the front in green script letters. Scott flipped through and found a section titled "Facts on mutants." He held it open, allowing Jean to see as well. All mutants, especially males, are prone to violence. The females, in a drive to pass on the mutant gene, are very promiscuous, becoming sexually active at as young as thirteen. They are dangerous and criminal, ugly and evil. But the Friends of Humanity are here to save us all.

"There's an address in there if you want to become a member," the man pointed out proudly.

Scott was having a very difficult time controlling his anger. He knew Jean was as well, and this was the one thing that kept him cool. Having lived with Jean for so many years, he knew full well what was possible if she were to lose her temper.

Suddenly Scott found images entering his head. It was Hank, running through the woods with somebody slung over his shoulder. It looked like Hank, but not really. The beast in the image was not the cultured, intelligent, witty man he had come to know and love. He was a monster. Sharp teeth, dark eyes, violent sudden movements. As the scene progressed, Scott saw the man from the elevator running after Hank. Hank tossed the person he was carrying onto the floor and turned to face his pursuer. It was then that Scott realized the person Hank had been carrying was Jean. She was crying hysterically, her clothes were shredded about her body leaving her virtually unclothed from the waist up, bruises and cuts covered her face and arms. The man approached Hank and, after performing a series of physically impossible moves, he had knocked the beast unconscious. He then lifted Jean up into his arms; she buried her face into his chest and hugged him fiercely. He kissed her on top of the head and whispered to her. The image stopped as Jean raised her face to meet his.

*Sorry, Slim, you can't see the rest of the show without parental guidance, but I think you get the general idea,* Jean commented dryly.

*God, Jean, I'm sorry,*

*Sorry?*

*Yeah, I'm sorry that you have to put up with this shit.*

*Scott Summers, did you just swear?*

Scott rolled his eyes, Jean was the master at subtly changing the topic.

*I'm serious, Jean*

"So, where you kids from anyway?" the man asked with a pleasant smile.

"We go to school in New York," Jean answered him.

The man's eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Wow, and you came all the way out to L.A. just for this conference?"

Jean nodded.

The man gave a low whistle. "Well, I hope we get out of this elevator sometime soon so you can actually see it. I hear that beast man brought along a couple of mutant kids with him too."

"Really, have you seen them?" Scott asked.

"No, but if they're anything like the good doctor I'm sure you won't be able to miss them," he laughed.

Scott just gave the man a fake smile.

"Thank the Lord my kids aren't freaks," the man said with a nod.

Jean's eyes widened and Scott knew the man was projecting again. Scott looked nervously at her, he didn't know how much more she could take.

A silent tear slipped down Jean's face. Scott gave a ragged sigh, enough, he decided. "Stop it." Scott said quietly.

The man stared at him for a second, "Uh, are you talking to me?"

"Yes, stop it."

*Scott, it's not worth it, just let it go*

*No Jean, if we let it go things will never change*

"Stop what?" the man asked slowly.

"Dr. McCoy is a good man, he would never hurt anybody like that."

The man just gave him a confused look.

Scott gritted his teeth, suddenly overcome with anger, "She's sixteen years old," Scott said in a controlled rage as he nodded to Jean. "She's sixteen years old and that is statutory rape. You don't even deserve to think about her you fucking bastard."

"Scott!" Jean said in surprise as she pulled at his arm.

A slow look of realization spread across the man's face. It was quickly replaced by a look of rage. "You freak! You've been going into my mind, you're a fucking mutie!" the man roared and lunged for Scott. He took a swing at Scott's face, which Scott managed to dodge. The man's hand grazed against Scott's glasses and knocked them off.

A blast of red fired upward from Scott's open eyes. It broke through the top of the elevator and continued upward. He snapped his eyes shut just a fraction of a second too late.

Jean watched in horror as Scott blindly searched for his glasses. She tried to freeze the man, but she couldn't concentrate and the man was too strong, too fast. He was moving toward Scott again.

"No!" Jean shouted as she put her shoulder down and tackled the man. He slammed against the side of the elevator. The whole elevator shook. He was stunned momentarily, but he quickly got to his feet to shove Jean aside and move for Scott again. Jean was thrown into the corner. "I read your mind!" Jean cried out in a panic. The man turned to face her. "I'm the mutant, I'm the one who read your mind!" *Scott hold out your hand*

*Jean, what are you doing?!* Scott thought as he stopped searching for his glasses.

As the man closed in on her, Jean concentrated on guiding Scott's glasses into his open hands. Momentarily defenseless, Jean was lifted off the ground. The man picked her up and slammed her violently against the wall of the elevator. The whole elevator shook and there was a lurch. The elevator dropped a few feet then stopped.

Scott regained his balance and quickly slipped on his glasses. He watched in horror as the man slammed Jean's head against the elevator wall. He released her and she slid down into a heap.

Scott let lose an angry cry and ripped his glasses off, looking directly at the man's back. The force of the blast pushed the man forward against the wall. He was instantly knocked unconscious and fell beside Jean.

There was a creaking sound and suddenly Scott felt his stomach drop. The elevator had come loose from the cables and had begun to plunge down the shaft. Jean screamed as they fell. She snapped her eyes shut and concentrated on stopping the elevator. Gradually, the elevator began to slow and eventually it stopped.

Jean knelt on the floor, hands pressed to her head, eyes tightly shut. "I don't know how much longer I can hold it," Jean managed to say, sweat beaded on her forehead.

Scott nodded. He turned to the elevator door. "If there's anybody out there, move away from the door!" Scott shouted as he lifted up his glasses praying that there was nobody there. The doors blasted open. Scott turned to help Jean up. He placed a gentle hand on her head and drew it back as he felt sticky blood matted in her hair. He lifted up his hand and stared at it.

Jean opened her eyes and looked at him. "Scott, you've got to get him out of here," Jean glanced at the man who was just barely gaining consciousness.

"No way! You first, I'm getting you out first. Stand up, Jean," he commanded as he pulled on her arm.

"Scott! Take him, I can't hold it!"

"No! Get up!" He yelled at her with a mixture of fear and anger in his voice.

The man was still woozy, but he opened his eyes and listened to the argument.

"Save him, Scott! Civilians first, get him out of here. You're an X man and so am I, I can hold it a little longer, just go!" Jean closed her eyes again, suddenly drained after spending so much energy speaking. She was having a hard time staying conscious.

"Jean, we're on the fourth floor, if you fall from here" Scott pleaded with her.

"Go!" Jean shouted and in a momentary burst of energy shoved Scott back with a telekinetic push.

Scott stumbled back amazed at the strength of the push. Furious, he bent down and began to drag the man out of the elevator. He had gotten him out, both of them standing outside the elevator. He looked back in and began to hurry back to help Jean. Scott watched helplessly as Jean screamed and collapsed to the floor.

"Jean!" he yelled as he watched the elevator drop. "No!" he screamed as he heard the elevator crash into the basement floor.

The man struggled to sit up. He stared at the empty elevator shaft.

Scott tightened his jaw, tears slipping down his cheeks. He ran to the stairwell and flew down the stairs to the basement.

The man stumbled up and, not knowing what to do followed after the boy.

Scott burst through the door and looked wildly around for the elevator. "No," he whispered harshly as he saw the crashed elevator. Jean was in there somewhere. *Jean!* he thought desperately. There was no response. "Jean!" He yelled as he began ripping debris away.

The man came down the stairwell and watched as the boy in the glasses frantically pulled the remains of the elevator out of the way. But he wasn't strong enough, he couldn't move the huge pieces. The man ran over to help.

Scott looked up and saw him approaching. He shoved the man out of the way. "Get the fuck out of here!" he screamed.

"II want to help," the man pleaded.

"Go get Dr. McCoy," Scott said in a shaky voice as he ran a trembling hand through his hair.

"Who?"

"The big blue beast," Scott barked at him.

The man jumped and took off in search of the doctor.

Scott turned back to the remains of the elevator. He sunk to his knees, unable to move any more of the large pieces. "Why'd you do it Jean?" he cried. "He should have been the one we left, he doesn't deserve to live. It's his fault!" Scott screamed and began to lift a large chunk of cement from the pile. His muscles felt as if they were bursting. With one last cry he heaved the tremendous block off. He sunk back to his knees exhausted.

"Scott!" Hank ran in and looked at the remains of the elevator, "Good heavens," he whispered.

Scott looked up as Beast rushed over and began heaving the large pieces of metal away. "Jean!" Beast called as he put all his strength into moving the debris. Tears had begun to slip down his cheeks.

The man watched the scene in disbelief. He cringed away from the Beast as the creature frantically ripped at the remains of the elevator.

There was a flash of red. Hank doubled his pace. "Jean!" She lay unconscious, half covered in debris. "I don't want to move her, her neck could be broken." He didn't even want to entertain the possibility that she could be dead.

There was a creaking noise and dust filled the air as the remains shifted and resettled. "We have to get her out now," Scott urged.

"I must concur," Beast said hesitatingly. He reached down and lifted off the last of the wreckage and hoisted her up into his arms. He was overjoyed to feel he slow rise and fall of her chest as he pressed her to him. "Thank God," he smiled as he lifted her out. "Scott, go call an ambulance," Beast told him.

Scott didn't even hesitate, he raced up the stairwell.

The man watched from the corner he had been standing in.

"Jean?" Beast asked gently.

Jean's brow furrowed and her eyes fluttered open, "Dr. McCoy?" she asked in a slow voice. She coughed weakly, spitting up blood. "My head hurts," she whispered as she shut her eyes in pain. "And my leg," she gritted her teeth and gasped, "it feels broken."

"Just be still, my dear, help will arrive soon enough," Beast smiled and hugged her carefully. He didn't want to alarm her, but he could tell that she had broken some ribs and that there was probably some very serious internal bleeding. "What happened?" he asked quietly.

Jean felt dizzy; she made an effort to speak but was caught in a fit of coughing. Instead, she played the scene out for Hank, sending it directly to his mind. She left out the part of what the man had been thinking.

Beast's eyes widened in disbelief. How could this man have attacked children? His eyes narrowed his children.

Jean smiled weakly and placed her arms around his neck. "I guess this means I'll be off the track team for a while."

"Don't make such premature conjectures, my dear," he said brightly, wanting her to hope for the best.

The man stepped forward, anxious to know if there was something he could do. He could scarcely believe the scene before him. The huge blue beast holding the young girl tenderly in his arms.

Jean caught sight of the man. She buried her face in Beast's chest and shuddered. "Make him go away," she said quietly.

The man hesitated.

Beast glared at him. He bared his teeth slightly and took a step forward.

The man trembled and backed off slowly.

Beast stared at him as he carried Jean toward the stairwell. "Monster," Beast growled to the man as he walked past.

Beast hurried up the stairs and outside to where Scott was waiting for the ambulance.

"Dr. McCoy," Jean started, "I'm sorry I wasn't able to hold the elevator longer. Tell Scott I'm sorry" Jean lost consciousness mid-sentence.

"Jean?" Beast shook her gently. "Jean, wake up. Jean, you need to stay conscious, you have a concussion," Beast urged.

Scott trotted over to them, his brow furrowed in worry. "I called the ambulance, but they might take a while. There was a ten car pile up, they said they would get here as soon as they could."

Beast nodded. "I am going to go back inside and endeavor to obtain some emergency medical supplies. Do you think you can hold her? I would rather not lay her on the sidewalk I do believe she would kill me if I dirtied her dress."

Scott smiled wryly at the comment. Beast transferred her to Scott's waiting arms. Scott was a little surprised at how heavy she was. Wow, he thought to himself, I'm glad she wasn't conscious to hear that thought. He was exhausted from the energy he had expended lifting off the rubble. His arm felt like it was on fire, he was pretty sure he had torn some muscles. He watched Beast dash away. Scott shifted from foot to foot, uneasy with the realization that he could not hold her for much longer. "Dammnit, Jean. Why'd you have to be so tall?"

It'd been about twenty minutes and Beast had still not returned. Scott's arms were beginning to feel like lead. He shifted Jean again. "You really need to lose some weight, Jean," Scott mumbled.

Jean's eyes slowly opened. She scowled at him. "Scott Summers I certainly do not need to lose any weight."

Scott's face lit up in surprise and happiness. He looked down at her angry face and smiled.

"Just because you're a ninety eight pound weakling does not mean that I am overweight. And furthermore-"

Jean didn't get a furthermore. Scott laughed and pulled her to him closely. He kissed her on the forehead and smiled. "That was a very stupid thing you did, Red. You ever do that to me again, I'll kick your butt."

Jean snorted, "As if you could, Slim."

"Watch what you say, I may drop you," he grinned at her. He was shaking a bit, trying to cover his relief with a smile.

"I'll hold her, if you need some help," the man from the elevator was approaching slowly. He knew he was not wanted, yet at the same time, he knew he should be there.

Scott glared at him, a somewhat ineffective gesture due to the dark glasses he was forced to wear. "I think you've done enough," Scott said.

"II'm sorry," he said slowly.

Scott remained silent. *Scott, talk to him.* Scott heard in his head. He looked down at Jean's face. Her blue green eyes stared up at him. "What's your name?" Scott asked impulsively. Jean was always talking to him about building better relations between mutants and humans, she was a true follower of the professor's dream. Not that he wasn't, but he was a little more cynical. What Scott had always loved about Jean was her optimism. Her innocence, her compassion, her capacity to hope, her smile, her laugh, her humor, her freckles, her passion, her courage, just herScott's thoughts trailed on.

*I heard that, lover boy* Jean laughed in his head.

He smiled down at her. *Good*

"Gregory. Gregory Heinbach," the man answered.

"I'm Scott Summers," Scott said as he stepped toward the man. "And this is Jean Grey," Scott said quietly as he nodded down at the girl in his arms.

Jean smiled, "Hello," she said softly.

The man nodded dumbly.

"We're mutants," Scott said.

Jean stared at the FOH button that was pinned to Gregory's jacket.

He followed her gaze and blushed as he looked down at the button. He quickly removed it and held it in his hand for a moment. He held it in his hand, staring at the large block letters, thinking about what the FOH had taught him.

Mutants were violent. But it was he who threw the first punch.

Mutant women were sluts. He blushed. They were his thoughts, not hers.

Mutants are ugly. The two young people who stood before him were certainly not ugly. And thought the beast was far from normal looking, he was not ugly. The way he had held the girl to him and cried for her so tenderly amazed Gregory. No, the beast certainly wasn't the monster. It was he who had been the monster.

He looked up to find Scott and Jean watching him quietly. He sighed as he looked at Jean. Her long red hair was matted with blood and dirt. Her dress was ripped and stained with dark patches of blood. Her pale face was dotted with red specks of blood; a bruise formed oh her cheekbone. But she was smiling.

He tossed the button away. It clattered against the street and split in two.

End.