Summary: Jean Grey, on her own for the first time
in her life, pays a visit to her old friend Hank McCoy, a PhD candidate at Columbia.
This is slightly off-canon.
The storm beat Manhattan up with no warning. Wind and rain wrestled together, kicking over metal trash baskets, driving flying vermin into the skyscrapers and drenching almost everyone. Nasty rain on a nasty day. Sticky black streets so hot the raindrops vaporized on contact. Nature's own garbage man in some parts of the world but not in this city. The storm wrecked shoes, outfits, hair and magazine stand inventories with caustic abandon. Appearances suffered, except for those of a tall, clean-faced, red-haired girl strolling through Central Park West. Jean Grey. Her cheekbones were feline. She wore green and white running shoes and a green knit WillieWear dress that clung to her fresh-waxed thighs, carried a black leather folder under her arm, and held a sticky, cherry-flavored lollipop to her mouth. Ball-hard candy dyed her mouth syrup red, and she stroked the color into her lips with her tongue.
The black leather folder contained her tear sheets. She had loads, modeling pictures torn out of 'Vogue', 'Harper's Bazaar', 'Ladies Home Journal', 'Cosmopolitan', 'Town and Country', 'Redbook', 'Glamour', and 'Spiegel' from the Fall, Winter, and Spring shoots. There were a few Summer pages, but her most dramatic feature wasn't pulling in the jobs like it used to. If it had been the reason for her early success.
Her lustrous hair, mostly red but struck white gold by a bleaching brush in Soho, stuck close to the shape of her head before falling glamourous-wavy over one dark-lashed green eye and curling under at the point just past her her shoulders. The agency had been specific, even if they hadn't gotten her name right. (Blonde would be best, Joanie. Nobody wants a model who draws more attention than the clothes in their collection.) "Make me look like that," Jean told Steven, pointing at an old black-and-white of Veronica Lake. Despite the retro-fever of the new Fall collection, the House of Halston went with another girl.
Using her tk to keep the rain and the steam from messing up her fifty dollar 'do, Jean reflected that she had knocked Magneto out with a telekinetic punch and lifted her own weight in bad-guys with the power of her mind but was having the devil of a time making rent on her smile.
Maybe she could make her Wilhemina appointment next week. Maybe she should have gone with Ford. Maybe she'd never work again.
Thanks to 'Mahogany'
so smooth that Billy Dee, give Warren a run for his money
black girls were all the rage - Beverly Johnson, Pat Cleveland, that gorgeous African shepherdess and even that crazy she-man Grace Jones. What was an all-American redhead to do?
That was easy. Wait for the phone to ring. If it hadn't been disconnected because she didn't pay the bill.
Modeling was like that. Sometimes you had more work than you could commit to. Other times, your agency swore up and down they had called when you knew, and the girl on the other side of the phone knew, that neither she nor your handler had done any such thing.
In the vicinity of the Columbia University Medical Campus dorms, Jean ordered a large pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausages. She held the warm box beneath her tear sheet folder. Heat and moisture radiated from the pie through the scratchy-smooth cardboard and onto her hands.
She let herself into Hank's building. It was an all men's dorm. Jean masked the awareness of her passage from the thoughts of the students on the first floor. Before the professor died he had awakened her latent telepathic power. It was a whole new world, a magic carpet ride of the mind, but she missed him and his guidance.
She took the stairs - there was no elevator - and let her awareness eke out
ahead of her. She couldn't help but overhear mnemonics and lies
If the Professor were alive she'd ask him about it.
Last time she visited Hank, in the company of Bobby and Warren, she had been stunned by the power of mundane minds in the building. A hundred brains memorizing, meditating. A heady, if noisy mix.
As Jean walked up the stairs she passed students. Unable to see her, they could smell the pie. She bit down giggles. What if she herself had an odor and there was a mutant that could smell her? How would she go about masking herself from him or her? Well, she was retired. She was a model who had worked, not a super-hero, not anymore. She had traded-in her Marvel Girl mask and costume for a rolodex and a crash course in the glamorous world of high fashion.
There was no one in the dingy hallway - scuffed tan linoleum and half-and-half walls, dark brown on the bottom, light green on top.
Hank McCoy was a scholar-athlete. Number one draft-pick for the Dallas Cowboys the year he graduated from High School and a Westinghouse Scholar. He had dreamy blue eyes, linebacker shoulders, wavy brown hair and hands like - like pizzas! But Jean, knocking on the door and shifting her slight weight from foot to foot, had never caught a shine for the big lug. Her hands were starting to hurt. Jean held the pie box and leather folder with both hands, made a mental fist and knocked. She knew Hank was in there - Hank's shields were tight but his mental exertions radiated - being near Hank was like being in a power plant.
Wherever you go inside that building, you can sense turbines spinning magnetic forces into electricity.
Because she was alone in the hallway Jean hollered, "Henry C. McCoy! You let me in this instant!"
The door burst open and a large, familiar hand grabbed Jean by her arm. He had no style, none that counted, none that she could recognize as Such; gray Cornell Med T-shirt clothing his massive torso, crimson sweat-pants bearing a white Harvard seal on the upper left thigh and his socks and slippers on his unlikely - meaning always surprisingly enormous - feet. His expression shifted from pleased surprise to appalled realization and a real, sideways smirk twisted itself onto Jean's face.
"Nobody saw me come up."
Hank tugged her in, stuck his head out the door, looked down either side of the hallway to verify the veracity of her statement, ducked back into the room and slammed shut the door.
Being superhumanly fast his actions, after he tugged her inside, were a blur.
"Lady Grey," Hank intoned, bowing at the waist, his eyes glimmering at her with humour. "Is it your intention to forestall any chance of my matriculating from this fine establishment?"
"It's good to see you, too, Big Guy, and no." She tossed her folder on his bed, hugged him with one arm and pressed her cheek against his in a brief embrace.
He caught her up in his huge arms, lifting her off the ground. She squealed, "The pizza, I'll drop the pizza -"
Someone knocked on the door and Hank and Jean froze. Hearts pounding, they clung to one another.
"McCoy, you got a girl in there?"
"Certes, I do not!" Hank managed, but his voice quavered.
"Lemme in or I'm busting this door open. Girls ain't allowed and I know I heard one."
"Open the door," Jean whispered in Hank's ear.
He set her on the ground and did just that.
William Hennery, Jr., the resident advisor, had a fiancee in Weehawken that he never saw enough of. He stood at the threshold to Hank's room, the expression on his broad face less than triumphant. From that point he was able to see the room in its entirety.
Jean stood in the middle of the room, her arms behind her waist, a lop-sided grin gracing her face.
"Hunh," said William Hennery, Jr., from Weehawken. "I must've been hearing things. Sorry about that. Good luck on that quiz Friday."
"Thank you," said Hank, and closed the door. "Oh my stars and garters. I thought I was done for."
"I'd never let that happen." Jean replied, moving stacks of books out of the way before seating herself on the floor. "You look about ready for a study-break. Share a pie?"
"Most certainly, fair maiden."
"Before you sit down why don't you crack open a window?" she suggested.
Horrified, "Is there an odor?"
"No. Not in here anyway, but the pizza smell will linger."
"Indeed. It is 'Henry P', by the way."
"'C's' for 'concentrating.'"
While they ate she asked him what he knew about neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. He complied. When he asked her where she'd heard of it she told him she'd overheard a student thinking.
"On the way up here I did a light scan."
Hank picked up the empty box and folded it to the size of a paper- back with his hands. He put it in the waste-basket.
"Why aren't you looking at me like that?" Jean asked because he was engrossed with the waste-basket.
His blinked at her, twice. "Like what?"
"Like I said something scary."
"Jean, how did you get here?"
"In prodigiously inclement weather, yet your coiffure is perfection itself; your raiment, as artful as the dawn."
"Your words, they're another shield you're using to keep me out."
"There's no way you could know that."
"I'm a telepath of course -" Jean's brow furrowed. "How are you blocking me?" she whispered.
"Translation of Othello into Sanskrit."
"Looks like Gibberish."
"No," Jean brought her fingers to her forehead in concentration. "I can sense that much."
"Jean-" Hank warned.
"Oh, Hank, I'm sorry! How could I forget? I guess I stopped thinking and - you're not angry at me are you? I came up here because I wanted to talk about - well, about me, really, and here I am digging for your thoughts only I - where'd you get those shields? Professor Xavier doesn't teach that kind, I don't think I've ever seen it."
"A little something I came up with on my own."
"Just in case I was in the habit of prying into your mind?"
"It's plain on your face." She got up on her knees. "When I first got my telepathy I thought it was funny that you always had theater on the brain; but you were making sure to keep me out." Jean stumbled to her feet. "That's great. That's just great - do you think I'd 'pry' if I could help it? I came here to spend time with my friend. I had a lousy day, and now I find out that he's building defenses against me."
Clearly, Hank's voice, or at least her perception of it, entered Jean's head. If you weren't pretty you wouldn't have any friends.
"Is that what you think of me?"
"My thoughts and my shields are imperfect. I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to read me though them. Therein only lies hurt."
"That's for sure."
"What did you read."
"That I wouldn't have any friends if I wasn't pretty?"
"Jean, I count your friendship more precious than rubies -"
"English, Hank E. McCoy."
Superheroes together they'd been. She was the one female member of the five person team, the telekinetic; while he, a one-time suitor of hers, had super-agility, super-speed, super- strength and a vocabulary she could not believe.
Her truculence had her eyes throwing up sparks like a wire dragged along a rocky road.
Raking his hands through his hair, "I really see no point for us to continue this conversation."
"No. I don't suppose there is one."
He walked her to his door. The journey took longer than it should have. "You really are one of my dearest friends," he said, careful not to look at her.
Lingering at the door, her back to him but her hand on the doorframe, she answered, "You have a funny way of showing it."
Her bright head was bowed.
"I'm not done. The hard thing is, knowing a person's thoughts doesn't make it easy. Scott's mind, it's like a glass to me. I know how he feels, what he wants, how he loves me; but that doesn't mean it works - whatever we have. I didn't mean to try to pry into your thoughts. And I don't know why you've been constructing shields against me in your spare time."
"It's not there against you specifically. I wish - may I make a suggestion."
"The next time we see each other, let's act as if this day never happened? You never came to see me, and we never quarreled."
She hugged herself.
"Jean? Maybe it'd be worth a try? With the professor gone and all of us scattered to the four winds, I don't want to lose our friendship."
"I'll think about it," she said.
Hank watched her walk down the hall. The light from the far-off, lone window crowded her silhouette, only until the faintest afterimage of her walking away remained.
He looked over on his bed and saw that Jean had left her black leather folder.
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