January 2011



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Better Days

Fandom: X-Men: Evolution
Title: Better Days
Author: [info]brimac13
Rating: Not-Really-Naughty
Word Count: 1,638
Summary: One somber Christmas Eve, the X-Men think on life, loss, and love.
Author’s Note: This is set Post-Series, with hints at things that occurred in the comics and in the visions Apocalypse gave Professor X. Of course, I have fudged things a bit—but isn’t that my job as a fanfic writer—mostly because I’m not insanely familiar with the earlier (read most things not pertaining to Rogue and Pre the release of X1) comic history. So, yea, the things that don’t jive with canon I’m just going to call “artistic license” and be done with it.

(It is recommended that you read this while listening to “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls.)

Warning: Character Death.

Professor Charles Xavier sits in his study one chilly Christmas Eve and stares into the slow-burning fire. He closes his eyes and focuses his thoughts on the residents of his mansion.

* * *

In his hands, Scott Summers holds a picture. The frame is a simple cherry stained wood with no ornate designs, nothing that screams spectacular. But to him it is. Or, rather, the picture within it is. A sweet smile captured on peachy-pink lips beneath a perfect nose and bright green eyes surrounded by vivid red hair. It is a picture of the girl he loves—loved, because she’s…gone. If he could cry, he would. But his powers prevent it; the uncontrolled optic beams vaporize any tears that he even thinks of crying.

Instead, he stares at her. Jean Grey was not someone anyone thought would die. Or, at least, would die young. But, he thinks with a sour twist of cynicism, the good die young. That’s the cliché. His stomach clenches and a sudden rage shakes his body. How dare she leave him? He hurls the picture across the room and it smashes into the wall, the glass shattering.

Standing without remembering doing so, he breathes deep and hard, his chest heaving. And then, as suddenly as it came on, the rage evaporates and he collapses into the beige carpet and sobs dryly.

* * *

Logan has never been one for the touchy-feely shit. But with the recent loss, he feels an instinctual urge to reach out to someone. It’s not surprising that he reaches for Storm. What is surprising is that she’s reaching for him too. He kisses her and fists his hand in long, silver hair and forgets to think about death (or what might’ve, possibly been) for a little while.

* * *

This is the first holiday season Kitty Pryde has spent at the Institute instead of returning home to Chicago to visit her family. Though she longs to see them, she can’t seem to bring herself to leave her friends—her other family—at the Institute. There are days when it’s hard for her to breath and it feels like her world is shifting for the briefest second—and it is. Instead of having to concentrate on phasing, she’s having to concentrate to stay un-phased. And, worse, she’s not coping at all well with losing a good friend. Jean was sort of like her big sister and Kitty had been an only child for the longest time and was really starting to enjoy the idea.

She feels a large hand on her elbow, starts, and turns to face a concern-faced Piotr (but she calls him Peter because she’s not so good with Russian pronunciation most of the time.) She can feel the cool air from the window on her neck and it gives her a chill, but she smiles at him and takes his hand.

Maybe, she thinks, it’s all not so bad.

* * *

Kurt Wagner, like Kitty, elected to stay at the mansion this Christmas. His family—the second one to, in a way, adopt him—needs him more. He is on the roof of the Institute, alternately stargazing and praying. Stargazing because it is a clear night and the sky is bright with stars; praying, asking God why he would take Jean from them. In Nightcrawler’s opinion, Jean Grey was one of His most beautiful angels. Of course, he thought that of most of the women and girls he cared for. But, Jean was special.

If she and Scott hadn’t been so obviously made for each other, he might’ve had a crush on her—and maybe he did, briefly, for a minute or two until he realized the way Jean and Scott were meant to be Jean-and-Scott. She was a wonderful, understanding friend to him. He would really miss her—he already missed her.

A shadow at the Institute’s gates catches his attention. He ‘ports from the roof to an obscure tree by the gate to get a good look at whoever-it-is. Amanda. He ‘ports to her. She jumps and gasps before smiling a smile that he knows is just for him. It warms his insides in the most peculiar way. But before he can get caught up in it, he sees the luggage piled around her, like she packed up her entire life and brought it with her. He looks into her eyes and realizes that she has. He raises a three fingered hand and caresses her cheek. She nods her head slightly and puts a hand over his. They grab her baggage and he ‘ports them into the front hall of the mansion.

* * *

Bobby Drake had always been a joker, never one to take life too seriously. But, sitting out in the December cold, he looks like the most somber of boys. He wishes he could feel the cold, just so he could go numb for a little while. Because he had been numb for a little while—emotionally numb, that is—and he really wishes he could get back to that place. He feels a hand on his shoulder and looks up to see Danielle Moonstar smiling softly at him. She’s wearing a heavy coat and a wool cap with her long braids hanging down. She nods at the empty spot on the bench next to him and he nods. She sits next to him without saying a word. He briefly wishes she would, that she would chatter like Jubilee always did just to make his brain go numb. But then he misses Jubilee more than he’d really like to think about and is happy for Danielle’s silence.

* * *

Rogue stares out the balcony window of her room. She presses her forehead against the cold glass but doesn’t really feel it. She hasn’t really felt much lately and she can’t blame it on emotional trauma like everyone else—well, she could, but she’d be lying. And Carol wouldn’t ever let her hear the end of it. She hovers a few feet above the ground, almost checking on what she already knows. She’s permanently absorbed Major Carol Danvers—powers, psyche, everything. She wasn’t quite over thinking she was a murderer, but she was coming to terms with it a lot more quickly than she’d have guessed she would. She thinks it has something to do with Jean’s death.

Her feet hit the floor and her lips scrunch together in a hard scowl. She won’t call it “loss” like everybody else (even Wolverine calls it “loss”). She’s not going to sugar coat it; Jean died because some wacko entity tried to take over. That’s it, end of story. Of course, that’s not really the end of the story. She knows that. The survivors—with all their guilt—have to go on afterwards. But she’s not going to let herself be soft, because everyone seems to have gone soft and someone has to stay strong. And, though she’ll never admit it, a part of her wants to go soft and cry and cry because she killed a woman—however accidentally—and lost a girl she thought of as sort of friend, but cared for quite a bit (not that she really knew it so much until after Jean was gone.)

“Cherie,” She hears him say before she knows he’s behind her.

She doesn’t turn around, just half-heartedly tosses out, “Gonna have t’ get y’ a bell, Cajun.”

He doesn’t reply, but she feels his arms wrap around her—covered—waist, pulls her back against him, and leans his head on her—also covered—shoulder. She closes her eyes and relaxes into him.

* * *

Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy was usually a cheerful man, especially during the holidays, but he found his spirits would not lift this year. All the loss and hardship seems to be weighing heavily on his shoulders and he cannot find a plausible way to change it. He knocks on the door to Charles’ study.

“Come in, Hank.” He hears his friend’s voice in his mind.

“Charles.” He nods and closes the door behind him. Charles has positioned his chair so that he’s facing the door—and Hank when he walks in. Silence sits between them and neither is terribly inclined to break it. Hank thinks he should, perhaps, say something poetic, but it seems his stores of poetry and Shakespeare have left him.

A few hours and two cups of tea later, Charles and Hank are watching the night through the window of the study. Abruptly, Hank asks, “What would you wish for this year, Charles?”

It is a dangerous question with many an answer, they both know. But Charles answers only with this: “Better days, Hank. A chance that we’ll find better days.”


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