Death is a Lonely Place
Seasons of ChangeAuthor:
Marvel Entertainment LLC owns all of the intellectual property printed in their comics, along with the television and movie adaptations of said same property. Not mine, don't sue, and so forth and so on.Dedications & Thanks:
Thanks to Joe for being a support and a pretty awesome editor.Summary:
Love is love, but there's always obstacles that stand in the way of happily ever after.Lexi's Note:
I'm an unabashed Jean/Emma shipper. This is my first real attempt at prose in a LONG time.
May 7, 2009
The Xavier School for the Gifted - Salem Center, New York
Singing along softly with one of her favorite songs as it poured from her white earbuds, Emma Frost makes her way across the courtyard. Thanks to her powers, avoiding the other students milling between classes is child's play during her leisurely walk to the main building for her Advanced Applied Psionics class. Raising one hand, she brushes the blond flyaway strand as it sweeps against her nose, her soft alto making out the words to the music playing on her iPod."You've applied the pressure,
To have me crystalized,
And you've got the faith,
That I could bring paradise.
I'll forgive and forget,
Before I'm paralyzed.
Do I have to keep up the pace,
To keep you satisfied?"
Her singing is interrupted as the wind catches another lock of her platinum hair, this time blocking her vision as it splays over her glasses. Stopping in her tracks with a huff, she pulls the wild hair away and tucks it behind her ear as she stretches her consciousness outward… there! Without a note of amusement in her mind's voice, she reaches out to the source of her vexation. 'Very cute, Oiseau. You could have said something if you wanted my attention, instead of blinding me with my own hair.' 'Awww… you're no fun, Emma.'
The teasing retort is followed by a giggle that rolls through Emma's mind, and then the redhead bounces into view from behind Emma. As always, a wide smile graces her freckled face, her large green eyes sparkling in the late morning sun. Another constant is the way her long, wild, orangish-red hair tumbles over her shoulders, cascading to the middle of her back. Reaching out with her powers, Jean's eyes shift from their normal verdant color to a smoldering gold. Matching golden auras flare to life around both her head and Emma's earbuds as the ginger gently tugs them free with her mind, laying them atop the books in Emma's arms. As the glow fades, Jean's smile grows - if possible - even larger. "Hi!"
"Hello to you too, dear. I see you're progressing well with fine control." A small smile forms on the prim adolescent's face, her sapphire eyes looking proudly at her friend. Without warning, she pushes her small pile of books at Jean, not waiting to see if she will… "Hold."
With a squeak, the golden aura sparks back to life around Jean's head, and another around the books as she catches them before they topple to the ground. Stepping inside the telekine's personal space, Emma's hand caresses Jean's now-blushing face before dropping to the undone top button of her white blouse. Eyes widening, Jean starts to fidget, knowing the towheaded girl's propensity for public displays of affection. This time, though, Emma's thin fingers merely work the button closed before sliding down to the redhead's tie. With a slight wiggle and push, she nudges Jean's blue tie back into perfect alignment.
Letting out a sigh of relief as she realizes Emma's only intent was to fix her tie, Jean closes her eyes and tries to slow her rapidly beating heart. A familiar fragrance again sets off the butterflies in Jean's stomach, her eyes popping open to find Emma's familiar face mere inches from her own. Her concentration falters, the books in her telekinetic grasp almost falling to the ground before she remembers them and reinforces her mental grasp. Tugging two green hair ties from her purse, the blonde works Jean's fiery mane into two low pigtails with practiced ease. "Jean, dear, you need to keep yourself tidy. We are the pride of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, are we not? Also, Father and Christian are taking us to lunch."
Giggling nervously, Jean allows herself a mental sigh of relief but before she can respond, the platinum-haired girl gently brushes her lips against the redhead's. Eyes widening as she flushes brightly, Jean's telekinetic grip on Emma's books fails. Fortunately, their owner has already secured them before they could fall to the ground. "Emma! People!" Winking at her girlfriend, Emma chuckles lowly at that and takes Jean's hand in hers, leading her slowly towards their next class. As they weave through their fellow students, Jean's attention is caught by a young, violet-haired girl in a school jumper that matches hers, and she greets her with a wave. "Hi, Betsy!"
"Ahoy, Jeannie. Ello, Emma." Betsy Braddock calls back in the unmistakeable tones of Received Pronunciation as she makes her way over to her two friends. Throwing herself forward, she wraps her arms around both girls and gives them a squeeze. As the group hug breaks up, a wicked grin flashes across Betsy's face. "So, you got your little Birdie to kiss you. In broad daylight, even. Brava, Emma."
The blonde responds with a grin of her own and Jean's face, which has just cleared, flares bright red again as she slugs Betsy on the arm. Trying desperately to take the attention off of herself, Jean tries to push the conversation back onto her British friend. "So, you have American History now, right? I heard you guys are getting a guest lecture by Captain America!"
"Oi, yeah, but I doubt even he can make history less dull." Betsy pouts, wilting at the idea of having to go sit through yet another lecture on times long past. "Oh well. We need it to get into university, right?"
"Yup!" Jean replies with her typical, infectious smile. "Though we should get to class or we'll get in trouble again."
Smirking, Betsy draws Emma's attention by way of an elbow to the ribs. "Speaking of class… I bet you'll be paying plenty of attention in World History tomorrow, Emma." The blonde raises an eyebrow at that, and Betsy's grin widens. "Black Widow is here all week. 'The Cold War: A Russian Perspective'. Any of this ringing a bell? I'm surprised you of all people would forget."
"Now why would I care if…" Emma trails off as Betsy mouths the words 'ginger fetish' at her. "Ah. I see. Just out of curiosity, you do remember that I can make you think you're Paris Hilton's British cousin, right?" Still grinning, Betsy raises her hands in surrender, making the blonde scowl.
Turning to continue towards the main building, Emma abruptly freezes in place. Betsy and the other telepaths in the crowd of students quickly follow suit, all of them craning their necks to look in the same direction. Their eyes are searching for something on the horizon they can sense but not yet see when, with a loud screech of tires, three large vans slam into the gates of the school, knocking them to the ground. There is a moment of silence quickly broken by screams and Emma can feel the life of a young boy snuff out, his body pinned under the wheels of one of the vans.
"Everyone get to the school!" The shout comes from one of the other students, Emma isn't sure which, but everyone is still in a state of shock as men in black body armor pour from the vans. The shockingly loud crack of assault rifle fire finally brings home what's happening and hysteria sets in, the students stampeding as they try to flee to safety.
Buffeted by her peers, Emma quickly finds herself separated from Jean and Betsy. 'Jean! Betsy!'
Calling out frantically with her mind, the blonde keeps one eye on the invaders, watching in horror as two more students fall, her powers making it impossible to miss the exact moment when their lives are cut short. Reaching out with her mind, Emma tries to force her will upon the attackers but finds herself encountering a curious emptiness. Rather than waste time pondering that, though, she pivots and connects her mind to as many as she can, serving as a mental switchboard between the panicking crowd and the adults in the school. She can feel the teachers and others coming, using her information to coordinate their response, but how long would they take? 'Please, Oiseau… answer me!' 'Emma?'
Jean's worried voice breaks through the din of panic, like a laser into Emma's mind. Emma can feel the panic resonating through their bond, yet the telekine's thoughts are more of sadness and concern. 'Betsy's with me. She's created a shield, you should be able to see her. Oh god, Emma. Sam… Sam's dead.'
Glancing to her right, Emma can see clusters of smaller kids huddled behind a glowing violet barrier, Betsy's characteristic butterfly shaped violet aura blazing around her head. As the blonde watches, several other shields spring up as the other telekines follow Betsy's lead, quickly creating a Venn diagram-esque rainbow of safety. Quickly borrowing Jean's eyes, Emma glances at her violet-haired friend, taking in the blood that soaks the right shoulder of her white blouse, hoping that it was the blood of another. Turning to scan the group through Jean's eyes, she sees several other wounded… and then Sam Guthrie's blank stare. A bullet has torn through his head, just above his eyebrow, ending his short life.
Pulling herself free of Jean's mind, Emma watches as the adults begin to stream out of the school. She turns her attention back to the massacre, seeing the way her fellow students are using their powers to help each other… and knowing she can help. Breaking into a run, she reaches out to her girlfriend again with her mind. 'Jean… Oiseau, I need you to help Betsy and the others to make a shield.'
Tentatively, Jean closes the young blond boy's eyes, standing up and moving over to her friend's side. Emma can feel the redhead's power stir as she reaches into herself, pushing forth a wall of psionic energy as she creates a flaming shield easily twice as large as any other, flinching as each bullet strikes her barricade. 'I'm doing it Emma… please hurry…' 'I'm on my way, love. I'm going to shift now… I'll help to stop them.'
Her psychic link fades as her flesh gave way to organic diamond. As she moves towards the front of the crowd, Emma does her best to herd the panicked students back behind her, towards the students projecting shields. A sharp tap against her chest makes her grunt, a round ripping through her shirt and slamming into her chest as her diamond skin stops it.
Reaching the front line, Emma allows herself a small sigh of relief. While there are a number of wounded students lying outside of the protection afford by the shields created by Jean, Betsy, and the others, their number is fewer than she'd feared. Thundering footsteps to her left herald the arrival of the large Russian boy from her art class, rounds flattening against his organic metal skin as he scowls at the gunmen. More shots tear through her clothes, ricocheting off her own glistening skin harmlessly. Their number soon swells by two more as they're joined by Frenzy and Rogue, walking forward slowly and drawing fire from their unprotected peers.
And then the adults are there, a red, white, and blue blur whizzing over Emma's head as Captain America's signature weapon slams into one of the shooters. The round, patriotic shield rebounds off a van on its way back to its owner, a redhead in a black catsuit sliding past beneath it as she opens fire with twin pistols of her own. A moment later, a bestial roar announces the arrival of Instructor Howlett as he launches himself into the crowd, the bullets tearing into his flesh only enraging him more as his blades find their marks.
Further reinforcement comes in the form of a red beam of light that begins picking off the zealots one at a time, along with the crack of thunder and strikes of lightning. As the adults take up the defense of the school and its students, Emma and her three companions begin moving the wounded back behind the shields created by the telekines. As she steps out from behind the shield to search for more wounded, Emma pauses and turns to brush her fingers over Jean's shoulder. "I'm proud of you, Jean. We're all going to be okay."
Beads of sweat trickle down Jean's face as she exerts herself, but she still manages to return an exhausted smile to the girl of diamond. Suddenly, the golden aura around Jean's head flickers and dies, her shield disappearing with an audible 'whoosh'. A look of confusion washes over the redhead's face and Emma glances down to find a spreading red spot slowly soaking Jean's blouse. The redhead's mouth works silently for a moment and then a whisper emerges. "…Emma…"
Shifting back to flesh and blood, Emma catches Jean as the redhead's legs give out. Panic wars with rage within the young blonde: concern for her girlfriend fighting for dominance against outrage that someone would dare touch what was hers. Spinning as best she can with Jean in her arms, her eyes lock on to the assassin as he lines up another shot. Lashing out with all of her hate and rage, Emma's mind easily overwhelms the psychic inhibitor worn by the shooter. A torrent of her power roars through his mind like a freight train, ushering him onward to the next great adventure in a wave of horrific agony. Her thirst for vengeance satisfied, Emma turns her attention back to her beloved. Tears streaming down her face, the blonde presses her hand to the hole in Jean's chest, desperately trying to staunch the bleeding. Looking around wildly, her hoarse screams echo across the school grounds. "Someone help me! Please!"
The massive blue form of Dr. Henry McCoy appears before Emma, saying something her mind can't acknowledge. Her everything focuses on the hurt girl in her arms, until a sharp shake from Dr. McCoy rattles her free of her catatonia. Stumbling back, she watches the doctor's feline fingers work deftly as he fights to stabilize Jean's condition. He barks out orders to some of the school's medical staff and they converge, placing the wounded girl on a stretcher before racing back inside.
Staggering to her feet, Emma watches them carry her love into the school before turning to watch the last moments of the waning battle. She stares blankly at the other heroes and police arriving to apprehend the scattered few killers who survived the attack, and then slowly turns her attention dully to the corpses of children scattered around her. '…Emma? …Emma, where are you?'
The soft whisper in her mind makes Emma whirl around. Is it her imagination? Or… 'Oiseau?' '…Emma, I hurt…'
As the words cross her psyche, all the pain and hurt of the last few minutes hit the blonde at once. Tears pour uncontrollably from Emma's blue eyes, nearly blinding her as she runs towards the school. Ignoring the elevators, she slams the door to the nearby stairwell open, thundering down the three flights to the medical bay. Bursting into the waiting area, she tries to make her way into one of the surgical rooms but is brought up short by the locked door. Collapsing against it, she sobs.
A warm hand gently caresses Emma's face and the blonde looks up, finding herself in an unfamiliar, pure white room. It's wholly unnatural in is featurelessness: the walls blend into the floor and ceiling, there's no visible source of illumination… there is only her and Jean. Slowly rising to her feet, she looks at the young redhead in confusion. 'What's going on? Where are we?' 'I'm sorry.'
Looking away from Emma, Jean can't stop the tears that have welled up in her own eyes. 'I don't have long…'
Horror shoots through Emma's heart and she takes a step forward, clutching at her girlfriend's hand. Unable to say anything at first, one word finally emerges. '…no.'
Jean turns back to her love, tears streaming down her face. She reaches out and places her hand on the blonde girl's chest, over her heart. After a moment, she pulls herself close to Emma, resting her cheek against the top of the smaller girl's head. 'I have to go. She says she needs me. That I have a higher purpose.' 'Who..?'
Looking around the blank room, Emma's eyes fall on a corner. Her eyes hurt to look at it, almost burning, as a shape solidifies from the whiteness. After a moment, she can make out a glowing female form. It's radiant to the point of pain, and yet Emma refuses to look away. 'Who are you?' 'I am She. I am the cycle. I am Death and Rebirth.'
The voice crashes into Emma's very being, like the entire ocean onto a single grain of sand. 'The Hatchling is needed.' 'No!'
Emma shouts at the Entity, trying to lash out with her psychic abilities to no avail as she clutches Jean to her chest possessively. 'She's mine! I love her! You can't have her!'
The Entity stands before them, its burning eyes staring unblinkingly at the pair. It raises a hand and Emma finds herself lifted from the floor, pulled away from Jean as her arms forced out away from her sides as if she's being crucified. She wants to fight, wants to scream, but is unable to do either. Approaching the blonde, the Entity stares at Emma for a few seconds, looks back at Jean, and then returns her attention to Emma. 'The Hatchling is needed. The world will need her, and she will need you.'
Staring down at her hands, Jean takes a deep breath and then looks up to meet Emma's eyes. 'I love you but… I have to go. Please don't hate me.'
Before Emma can respond, the Entity places her palm on the blonde's chest and, with a push, forces her back into reality. Screaming in anguish as she falls to the floor, Emma swears she hears the cry of a bird of prey as she slips into unconsciousness.
A short time later, she awakens to find a man staring down at her. Quickly getting her bearings, she realizes she's still in the waiting room, sitting in one of the chairs. And then she realizes who he is: Dr. Bruce Banner, the man the school turns to when Dr. McCoy's prodigious skills simply aren't enough. This time, however, even he wasn't enough. Her icy blue gaze bores into his brown eyes as she straightens up in her chair. "I want to see her…"
Swallowing, Dr. Banner raises his hands in an attempt to pacify her. "I can understand that, Miss Frost, but I really don't think that would be wise…"
"I know she's gone, Doctor. I was in her mind with her when she died." Emma's voice dips to absolute zero as she slowly rises from her seat, taking a step towards him. "Don't make me force you into letting me see her, sir. It would make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
Taking a step backwards, Dr. Banner exchanges looks with the uncommonly serious-looking Dr. McCoy, who nods in assent. Sighing, the worn-looking brunet offers Emma his arm, waiting while she straightens her skirt with her free hand before leading her into the operating room. As they enter, the medical staff stop what they're doing and back away mutely as the slight young blonde is led towards the body in the center of the room.
Standing at the head of the surgical table, Emma looks down at the lifeless girl laying upon it. Her fiery hair, spread about her head like a halo, her large green eyes closed as if sleeping. Tears slowly roll down Emma's stoic face as she tries - and fails - to fight the pain. Making its way down her cheek, a single teardrop falls on her love's face as cracks begin to form in Emma's perfect diamond wall. The tears are followed by a choked sob, Dr. McCoy placing one large, warm paw on her back as she leans forward and buries her face in the neck of her lost love. Her body wracked by mournful tears as she pulls Jean's lifeless body towards her own, trying to push her own life force into the dead girl even though she recognizes the futility of it all.
Jean is gone. 'I love you, Oiseau. And I always will.'