Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men. Don't sue me.
Summary: Jean thinks about her feelings for Scott and what it means to truly place your faith in someone. (Evolution 'Verse; Jean's POV, Sequel to "Trust")
Author's Note: Okay, basically I didn't actually plan to write a sequel to "Trust," but one came about anyway. Here's how. About a month ago, my computer broke, and I, like a moron, didn't save any of my works in progress on disc. Sooo, I'm currently unable to work on any of the fanfics I've started. :( Because I don't want to restart a story when sooner or later I hope to have my computer back, I haven't been writing anything. Anyway, to make a long story longer, I was sitting in the computer lab, got bored, and decided I wanted to write fanfic. But what? I didn't want to restart anything, and I didn't want to begin yet another X-Men epic (did I ever mention it's my goal in life to write the Great American Novel starring Wolverine?) when I have so many already started. So I was staring at a blank page, thinking "what to write, what to write?" and an idea suddenly popped in my head—I'll write a sequel to "Trust!" The last one was written on a whim, why not this one, too? So, lo and behold, here's the sequel, told from Jean's POV, as opposed to Scott's again. Enjoy! (This incredibly too long author's note has been brought to you by my long-standing absence from the world o' fanfiction, which has left me desperate to write anything…literally…anything… I miss my laptop…)
Feedback and Archiving: Please. Both are cool. Send all feedback and archiving request to email@example.com or sign on AIM or AOL and IM ChereRogueMarie. (That's me, btw, if you couldn't figure that out… *wink*)
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By: Addie Logan
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Waking up hasn't been the same in a while. Not since the morning I woke up next to Scott. Sometimes, when I'm in that place that's almost more dreams than reality, yet still consciousness at the same time, I feel like I'm in his arms again, the way I was that one faithful morning.
I'd never seen a look on Scott's face like the one he wore when he was sleeping. The constant marring by worry and doubt of his perfectly chiseled features was gone, leaving in its wake the freshness of youthful innocence. It was a side of Scott I knew no one other than me ever got to see.
He trusted me enough to let me in, and with Scott, that spoke more than what could be confined to mere volumes.
I rubbed the pillow that he had laid on not very long ago. I could still remember the feel of his finger against my lips as he gently silenced me before getting up and leaving me alone in the suddenly too cold bed. He was afraid to stay, I knew, afraid that I'd tell him that the night before had been just a product of my weakened state, and that we should forget about it. That it had been nothing but him bathing me, dressing me. Simple, everyday sort of acts. That it had only been one friend helping another, not a meeting of souls.
I wanted to stop him then, to tell him anything but what he expected to hear, but I couldn't. There was nothing else I would've said, and Scott knew that. After all, as he once put it himself, he knew me better than anyone else ever had or ever would.
Which, if I was honest with myself, was why I was with Duncan Matthews and not Scott Summers. Duncan would never be anything to me but a boy who would someday become the fleeting thought of an old woman, when she thought back on high school romance. I'd known that from day one, which is what made it so easy for me to be with him, to fall into the easy role of "Duncan's Girl."
Scott was different. From the moment I saw him I felt something, as if a part of me was crying out for its other half. Through all my girlish fantasies and dreams about finding "The One," I'd never honestly believed in such a notion. Love was a product of time and effort, something that grew slowly.
I know now that I was at least partly right in my childhood dreams of love at first sight. It takes only a moment to fall in love.
It takes time to build the trust that makes that love meaningful.
I thought back to that night, and how easily I'd consented to letting Scott bathe me—how simple it had been for me to put myself at his mercy completely, and let him in to my life in some of the most intimate ways imaginable. I hadn't even thought twice about trusting Scott with my whole being.
It was the kind of trust that could only grow out of love.
With that thought, I sat up. I didn't want to think about love and Scott. It was too real—too permanent. There was no doubt in my mind that with Scott, it would be forever—or at least pretty damn close to it. I was certain that there wouldn't be any of the hemming and hawing I'd done with Duncan. Scott was the sort of man who gave of himself entirely when he finally let you in, and he wouldn't expect any less of me.
As much as I hated to admit it, even in my private thoughts, that idea scared me. Could I let myself love a man who would want me to lower my boundaries and open myself up in the same way I knew he would? I'd known from the first time I'd seen Scott that he'd wanted to be with me, even without him ever making a move. His first thought, while only being one word, had said it all.
I still smiled at the memory. It had been all he could think of every time he'd seen me, at least for those first couple of days. Then, I'd been flattered. After all, what teenage girl wouldn't be when a handsome young man was that tongue-tied every time she as much as walked into a room? But even then, there'd been more to it than that. I'd felt the same way about him, and it scared me. Too much, too fast. The deep yearning I felt to be near him had to be the stuff of an adult world, not of the world that held proms, note-passing in homeroom, and trips with the girls to the mall every weekend. Being a mutant had already made me grow up more than I wanted to, why should I rush it even further?
So I tried to push away my growing feelings for Scott, file them in the back of my over-cluttered mind until I felt old enough to handle them. I ignored what I knew in my soul to be right and let myself be immature. Other girls my age could still be children, never having to worry about blocking out the ever-intruding thoughts of people around them, never having to prepare for the dreaded day when a war could break out between humans and mutants.
So when Duncan asked me out for the first time, I took the easy road. I said yes, and embraced immature youth, tossing aside anything deep and meaningful for a last-ditch attempt to grasp on to the shallow and artificial life I'd known before my best friend died in my arms, and a new and terrible world opened up before me. And Scott accepted it. He did what I know now comes from an innate sense of chivalry on his part.
He let me be with Duncan. Sure, his jealousy flared from time to time. After all, as textbook-perfect he tries to be, beneath it all he's only human. But he never made a true attempt to steal me away. He accepted that for the time being, I was Duncan's.
So I let myself believe it, too. I wrapped myself in immaturity until it blinded me, and I saw things as only going according to my design. And eventually, I decided that I could handle Scott. That if I didn't want things with him to be anymore serious than teenage love, then they wouldn't be. I made up my mind to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. I never dreamed that he'd end up with Taryn, that I'd end up with a date I wanted to maim, or that I'd finally find the downside of embracing the so-called benefits of young age.
Even after all that had taken place between us the night that I'd let Scott bathe me, I'd thought that I'd be able to accomplish something by asking him to a stupid high school dance. I'd still been trying to hold on to my physical age, when in reality, life had pushed me so much further. And then, I'd thought it was all lost just because Taryn had gotten to Scott first. In high school, dating is everything, and one date can solidify you as a "couple."
So I told myself one date, one little dance, had caused me to lose Scott to Taryn. And, in an overly high school sort of way, I placed her on a level with Judas Iscariot, betraying me in the time-honored teenage way or choosing a guy over a friend.
Only it had been by kissing Scott, not me, that Taryn had committed what at the time, seemed like the ultimate act of betrayal.
But none of that was real to me anymore.
I remembered yesterday morning, when Scott had come so close to telling me how he felt—telling me what I'd known all along but never wanted to admit. He'd said it was time to "get it all out in the open, and as much as I'd wanted to hear it, I felt as if it would be too much if he spoke the words. So when Duncan made me leave, while on the surface I resented his overly boisterous and just plain old obnoxious behavior, part of me was grateful. Running from Scott's admission meant I could hold on to the last bit of the lie—and the last bit of what I deemed "normalcy" that I had left.
I told myself it was the right thing to do. By now I hated Duncan, hated Taryn, hated every aspect of my life, including myself. I hated the kind of person I was more than even Rogue ever could. But I couldn't let go. Letting go meant growing up. The onslaught of a mutant gene had stolen so much of what remained of my childhood, why should I let the last few strands I was clutching fall down to the ground?
Scott. It kept coming back to him, no matter how much I tried to keep my mind off of him. I knew in the back of my mind that I belonged with him, only not as I was. He was the love of an adult Jean, a Jean who was sure of herself in reality, not simply wearing the mask of self-assurance through petty high school popularity.
And Scott knew that Jean. That was the Jean who he had held that night, who he had bathed. That was the Jean he knew better than anyone ever had or ever would. Honestly, he was the only person who knew her at all. And he had given that Jean his trust wholeheartedly.
But I had rejected it. Not in words—never in words. Worse. I rejected it in actions. I had pushed him away through coy, meaningless flirtation deflected by the daunting presence of an All-American football-playing boyfriend. The kind of boyfriend that aspired only to win the next game and eventually to be prom king (if only to up his chances of scoring with the prom queen), and was never seen without his prized letter jacket.
Scott had tried to give me something much more substantial. In the past I could've rationalized my rejection of his feelings by telling myself that he'd never stated them out loud. How could I have refuse something that had never been offered?
Now, that line of reasoning no longer kept my conscious clear. Scott and I didn't need words to communicate. We never had. He'd offered himself to me as much as if he'd spoken every word possible, and I'd turned him down just the same. Still, his love was there for me to take. And his faith in me had never wavered.
He'd waited for me. He put his confidence me, and once given, Scott's trust was not something that one could lose easily.
Last night, the last bit of the wall of immaturity I'd put around myself had crumbled. I'd faced something more emotionally damaging than anything I'd faced before.
We'd all lost.
Before going into battle, we'd joked about how easy facing the Brotherhood would be. After all, we'd done it plenty of times before, and never had it been anything but a cakewalk. But this time had been different. This time, we'd faced something we couldn't handle.
And truth be told, it had only been an angry young girl.
Scott had been ashamed, guilt-ridden. He'd blamed himself for the failure, as he was wont to do. It was one of his greatest failures as a leader, while at the same time being one of his greatest strengths.
And what had I done? Had I stayed with him as he had with me when I faced my own personal nightmare? Had I held him in my arms and comforted him, assuring him that this was only a minor setback, and that next time, we would be victorious?
No. I'd gone up to my room and shut the door without as much as even telling him good night. But when I'd woken up alone with the image of Scott being beside me so many nights ago still somehow emblazoned in my mind, I realized the importance of trust beyond love, beyond pretty words or gentle touches.
Scott had unselfishly given himself to me that night, washing me, dressing me, holding me. I'd trusted him to do all that, to touch me more intimately than any man ever had before, and yet, I hadn't had the courage to let myself accept what was staring me in the face.
And then I'd let him sleep alone when he needed someone to lay beside him and listen to his fears.
I got up from the bed, leaving behind me the last pieces of childhood, embracing what I had become the first time I'd shared my mind with the thoughts of someone other than myself. I walked softly down the hall to Scott's room, the mansion quiet and dreamy in the early morning hours. I opened the door and slipped into the bed beside him.
"Jean," he said, his voice like a whisper, never needing to open his eyes. He knew it was me. He'd always know.
"It wasn't your fault, Scott," I told him, wrapping my arms around him and pulling him close. "You did all you could."
"How can you be so sure?" he asked.
"Because I have faith in you, Scott," I replied. "I have faith in us."
And then he did open his eyes, and I could almost see into those deep brown pools through the red lenses of his sleeping goggles.
He didn't ask about Duncan. He didn't mention Taryn. They didn't matter. None of it mattered. Everything before that moment was wrapped in the sleepy film of youthful memories, while from now on we both knew that everything would be crisp, clear, and frighteningly real.
Together we could face it. It was if we were somehow meant to be, and yet not in a written-in-the-stars, fairy-tale lovers sort of way. It transcended romance. Scott Summers and Jean Grey. I mused for a moment on how easily the names flowed and I knew.
"This isn't going to be easy, Jean," he said, as if he, not I, was the one who could read thoughts.
"I know. I don't want it to be."
Scott pulled me to him, and we shared everything in that first kiss. Hope, fear, desire. A piece of our souls.
I knew in that moment that the faith I placed in Scott would never go away, nor would the faith he placed in me.
Because love is built quickly and comes as easily as it goes.
True faith is unbending.