Disclaimer: The X-men and their world belong to Mavel/Fox. No profit or copyright infringement is intended. This is an X-men Shared Universe, orignally imagined by Tarchannon, Dark Legends is a dark future where the next generation of the Legacy virus has triggered disturbing changes in the X-men. For further stories by a variety of authors and poets, go here.


Gathering Shadows - Jean

It should be raining. With all the grief in the air, it should be raining but Jean was watching a glorious summer sunset and Logan, in the back field, digging graves.

He'd taken up the task without comment and everyone had been too ashamed and exhausted to say a word about it. Now, there were two neat rows of graves dug and filled over the last couple of weeks, each with a headstone of natural rock - also Logan's task. There were three white wrapped bodies on the grass, students buried in the sheets they'd died in. Logan had nearly finished digging - efficient as always. Jean rested her head against the cool grass and watched his bent back., shamed by the desire she felt for him, a body hunger that had nothing to do with love. They had become friends despite it, not because of it.

Behind her, Scott shifted and began to cough again. "J- jean?"

She went back to the bed, pulling her chair close and automatically laying a hand on Scott's forehead to check his fever. He still burned, to dry to sweat. The peculiar yellow tinge on his skin didn’t seem to be bothering him, it wasn't jaundice and that's all Hank had time to tell her - they'd worry about it later, if Scott survived the fever and the hemorrhaging in his lungs.

"How's your head?" She asked quietly, replacing the wet compress over his eyes and offering him a little water through a straw.

"Well -" Scott whispered, the scent of blood strong on his breath. "I'm not screaming. That's something."

"Scott -" Jean said helplessly.

"Shh." Scott reached up, blindly, fumbling his way up her arm to touch Jean's face gently. His fingers were hot and his thoughts full of his approaching death. Things he wanted to tell her, things he'd never said. "Shh - Jean. Just - I love you. You know - I love you. No matter what happens. No matter what. I'll always love you. You're all that I ever wanted. All that I ever needed - "

Swallowing the ache in her throat, Jean pressed her lips to Scott's fingers and conjured up a smile. Even if he couldn't see it, he'd hear it. "Let's not get too maudlin. We'll beat this. We've beaten everything else the world has thrown at us. We'll win this too."

He smiled wistfully back, Jean was used to reading his face without seeing his eyes. "I promise not to be embarrassed, years later, when you bring it up to our grandkids."

"Dozens of them." Jean agreed.

"Red-heads, every one."

Jean shook her head with a chuckle. "Not my temper too, I hope."

"You're perfect." Scott said seriously then started coughing up blood.

So much blood, until he fell back pale and weak and clutching his head. Hands shaking and head full of the static of Scott's disorganized thoughts, Jean prepared another sedative injection. The temptation to increase the dose - and decrease his suffering - was sudden and terrifyingly strong. He was so weak already and suffering so much - in the night, when the pain was particularly bad, he'd beg her to do something - anything to stop the pain. When he could talk at all. Even mute with agony, his thoughts were like screaming - until Jean was screaming to.

Jean stared at the little glass vial in her hand. Enough there to kill because Hank trusted her. Because Scott needed the relief. Because there wasn't anyone else. She was so tired. Tears streaking her cheeks, Jean dosed Scott and sat with him until he was quiet.