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Serious stories

Stories by Maelstrom

"Walk with Me"
Jean Grey-Summers is diagnosed with breast cancer and goes through the bitter stages of denial.

elsewhere in Alykat's World:

"Tale of the Last Twinkie"
Bobby steals the last Twinkie in Hank's stash -- and must pay the price for it.
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)

"Never Mess with a Furry Blue Genius"
When Bobby replaces Hank's missing Twinkies with low-fat ones, Hank plans revenge. Sequel to "Tale of the Last Twinkie"
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)


This idea suddenly popped into my head while I was on the way to work. I don't think Marvel would ever have something like this in their continuity, so I wrote it. Note that I am not a Jean fan and I may have characterized her wrongly. If so, I apologize. Hope you like it.

Don't walk in front of me,
I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me,
I may not lead.
Just walk beside me
And be my friend.
-Albert Camus-

Numb. That was all she felt. Numb to the pain inside, unfeeling to the world outside. Voices screamed in her head but she could not hear them. Hurt scalded her skin but she could not feel it. She wondered if this was what it was supposed to feel like.

This couldn't be happening. Not to her.

Well, why not her?

It would be selfish to object, when she obviously wasn't the only one in the world to undergo this. Why should she be an exception? Just because she was a well-known figure? Because she was part of an oft-televised mutant superhero team? Why should she be spared?

Scott had tried to be supportive. "It's going to be okay," he'd tried to comfort her. "There's surgery. Modern medicine's come a long way. We can fix this."

"Dammit, Scott!" she'd screamed back. "I'm not a machine that can be fixed! This is a part of me, not something you can just dismantle and throw out the window! This is breast cancer! Deal with it!"

He'd pretty much left her alone after that.

It was a mixture of grievances. Grief over what she would lose, at what price. What it meant to her identity as a woman. Grief over the risk that despite surgery, there was always the chance of reoccurrence and spreading. Grief over her mortality. She'd died a few times before, but the fact that this kind of death seemed so. . . normal, made it seem all the more frightening. Grief over everything to be lost. Grief over nothing to be gained. Grief.

No one else knew about it. She wanted it to stay that way. And she'd pretended not to notice the odd looks she got from the others when Scott started taking care of her. Soothing her and being mild and gentle, being so loving. And the way she kept snapping back at him. She knew it was wrong, that she shouldn't be hurting him when he was in as much pain as she was, but she couldn't help it. She just shut out the flashes of hurt she saw on his face whenever she fought him off, whenever the others saw her fight him off.

He never tried to argue, probably thinking it would increase her pain. But she wanted to fight, wanted to scream and let everything out, make him listen and make him yell. But he wouldn't.

She could feel his love through that ever-present link of theirs, but she'd shut out the rest. No more telepathic thoughts as they lay in bed in silence. She didn't have anything to say. She didn't want anything to say.

She would begin treatment next week. She wondered if it would even change anything.

Hot coffee scalded her lips and tongue, but she treasured the sensation, hoping it would block out the pain for even a minute. She squeezed her eyes shut and let tears wrench themselves free as she continued to drain the blistering liquid.

Suddenly she felt the mug yanked away from her and she stumbled in her seat, eyes shot open. A wide-eyed Rogue was staring at her, mug in gloved hand. Behind her were a startled Ororo and Betsy.

"Jean, are yuh insane?" she cried. "You coulda hurt yourself! This is burnin' hot!"

"Is not," she muttered.

"Ah could see th' steam waftin' inta your face, sugah. It was hot!" She set the mug down on the kitchen table, out of Jean's reach. Ororo and Betsy were already taking seats.

Oh great. Just what she needed, an audience.

Ororo was gazing at her, concern etched on her face. "Jean, what is the matter? Your recent behavior is starting to worry us."

She couldn't keep from snapping back, nor restrain the bitterness in her voice. "Well pardon me, Ororo, if my behavior is not up to your standards! Anyone forbid we act more than our facade allows us to!"

"Jean!" Betsy chastised. Ororo's eyes widened in shock.

"What's the matter, Betsy, Little Miss Jean not nice enough for you?" she shot back.

"All right, Jean, give it up." Now Rogue was jumping into the furor as well. Whoopee. "What's been eatin' yuh these past few days You're not yourself anymore."

"Well maybe I never was! Maybe this is the real me, so deal with it!"

"Jean, we're your friends," Ororo pleaded. "Please, tell us what's going on. We want to help."

"Help? Help?" she cried bitterly. "Why should you want to help, weather goddess? You and your powers worshipped by natives, beautiful and picture-perfect. You never were helpless, never had to fight an enemy you could never defeat! And you," she turned to Rogue, "invulnerable to everything so you're protected in your little shell. Can't get hurt and what do you do? Cry boo-hoo-hoo over not being able to touch! Rich, that's what it is!"

"Jean, stop it!" Betsy yelled.

"Don't you tell me what to do, you Playboy material, you! Always dressing in skimpy outfits, flaunting those breats and body! You're shameless!"

"Oh, like you don't slip into a bikini every now and then! You complaining when you got puppies shaped like lifeboats?"

"Well say goodbye to them, dammit, because they're going to be hacked off! Off, you hear me? Off! So go ahead, cry over your stupid little angsts! See if I care!"

Hushed silence followed. Three pairs of wide eyes stared at her, uncomprehending.

"Jean?" Ororo whispered at last. "What do you mean?"

She couldn't help it. She couldn't hold it inside anymore. She broke down crying. "I have cancer," she sobbed. "I have breast cancer."

It took only a few seconds for this to sink in before they hovered around her, hugging her in their arms and squeezing her hand. "Oh Jean, we're so sorry," Ororo whispered. "We didn't know. . ."

Everyone seemed to be crying at once. "Oh God, I'm going to die," Jean sobbed.

"Hush now, sugah," Rogue choked between tears. "Ain't no such thing. You'll be fine."

"There's always a chance -"

"Don't think about it," Betsy ordered. "Not even for a second."

The tears continued although the loud sobs had subsided somewhat. Jean's shoulders continued to hitch every now and then, but the warmth of arms around her seemed to comfort her much more than when she was holding everything back. Her throat hurt from the hot coffee and sobs. Everything hurt.

She began to chuckle.

Ororo lifted her head, alarmed. "Jean?"

She was gasping between a sob and a laugh. "Oh God," she said hoarsely, "puppies shaped like lifeboats..."

They snorted, then the chuckles increased. Perky li'l breasts," Rogue giggled.

"Skimpy Playboy outfits," Betsy choked.

Laughter was hysterical now, and tears flowed afresh. "Oh God, this is crazy," Jean was sobbing. "I'm not supposed to be laughing. I'm not supposed to be laughing. This is crazy."

"Life is crazy, sugah," Rogue hitched, blinking away wetness from her eyes. "We're just insane enough ta live it."

Jean hugged her friends tighter, more tears streaming on the way. Behind them she heard a sound and turned. Scott was standing in the doorway, staring at the scene.

"I'm ... sorry," he said. "I didn't know you girls were here." He quickly left.

Jean just gazed at the empty doorway for a moment, then gently disengaged herself from her friends' arms. She didn't want to leave their protective embrace and their love, but there was someone she had to see. They just nodded at her, tears in their eyes. She rose to her feet and walked away from the scene.



Okay, so it's not all that good. I'm lousy at writing this kinda stuff. If anyone wants to make a sequel out of this, you're more than welcomed to do so. Not that anyone wants to. Just something I had to write. - Maelstrom


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