Mon, 16 Jul 2001
queenB planitclare@yahoo.com
[Gauguin: Psylocke, X-Men] "Les Parau Parau" 1/1

Disclaimer: The X-Men aren't mine. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money is being made.

Notes: This is the eighth story in The Gauguin Series, taking place about the same point in time, though a few days after, "Otahi." All of the other stories in this series can be found at The Itty Bitty Archives and Fonts of Wisdom. The title of this story, "Les Parau Parau," named after a painting by Paul Gauguin, loosely translates as "Conversation." I'll let you guess at the main content of this story. :-)

Thanks to Xander, Pebblin and Lise Williams for their wonderful betas. Thanks also to both Mitai and Alicia for saving this story from oblivion. I really owe you guys.

PG-13 for a smattering of nasty language.


Gauguin Series

Les Parau Parau

queenB

 

When Betsy Braddock disembarked from her plane at LaGuardia International Airport, she didn't expect to see any familiar faces. After all she had only called Xavier's School a few hours before she boarded a plane in Manchester and the only greeting received was from the automated answering service. She knew her fellow X-Men were probably away on a mission without her or were taking care of more pressing matters than meeting the returning prodigal at the airport. And even though she didn't expect to see Logan or Jean or Ororo waiting for her, she still felt hollow inside as she headed towards baggage claim on her own.

She had been gone from New York for more than a month and aside from Warren's turbulent visit and the one phone call from Jean, she hadn't heard a peep out of her fellow teammates. And while she knew it was for the best, that she left so suddenly to clear her head and to escape the confines of wearing an "X," she found herself missing her friends immensely. She was still no closer to straightening out her thoughts on what had driven her from Westchester, but she knew it was time to stop hiding. She needed to see Jean again. She needed to know where they stood, where she stood with all her teammates. But mostly she needed to be active again. Sipping tea at Braddock Manor with her brother and sister- in-law was a nice vacation, but it wasn't her life. And as much as she hated to admit it, it wasn't her home anymore. And she needed to go home.

As her ears grew accustomed again to the American accents filling the airport around her, she watched the conveyor belt for her luggage and released a quiet sigh as she said quietly to herself, "Home again, home again. Jiggity-jig."

But before she had any more time to feel sorry for herself, she heard a familiar voice behind her, its tone laced with a slight Chicago accent. "There you are, Betsy! I was afraid I missed you."

Betsy turned with a surprised smile on her face. "Kitty?"

The two shared an awkward embrace as Betsy kept one eye out for her luggage. "I didn't expect to see anyone."

Kitty shrugged as she dug in her backpack for a mint. She offered one to Betsy, but she refused. "Well, I was coming into the city anyway and thought I'd give you a lift. I know what a pain in the ass it can be to catch a cab out to Salem Center."

Betsy smiled as she retrieved her suitcase from the conveyor belt. "I appreciate it, Katherine."

Kitty winked as she took hold of Betsy's luggage and pulled out the sliding handle. "It's no problem."

Betsy followed her younger teammate through the baggage claim area and towards the parking deck, slowly immersing herself back into the hectic pace of New York and New Jersey. When they were away from most of the noise and into the deck, Kitty asked, "So how's Brian and Meggan? Still enjoying marital bliss?"

Betsy shook her head and grinned as Kitty unlocked the trunk of the Xavier-issued Audi sedan and helped get her bags inside. "Very much so. Once Brian gets settled at the lab, they're even talking of an addition to the family."

Kitty chuckled. "Get out! This soon?"

Betsy nodded. "Yes. Meggan is insisting on it."

They got into the car and Kitty smirked as she started the ignition. "She's bored out of her mind isn't she?"

Betsy laughed. "I think she's afraid to admit it."

"Of course she is. She's finally got what she's always wanted and now she doesn't know what else to do."

Out on the freeway, Betsy said as she checked her hair in the mirror, "She says she may come for a visit soon. She misses you and Piotr and Kurt terribly. And they both send their love."

"Well, the feeling's mutual. It's good to be back in the States, but that doesn't mean I can't pine for the islands every now and then, right?"

"No, it doesn't. They have a way of getting under your skin. Even if you are a Yank."

Kitty laughed and they spent much of the drive either engaged in small talk or commenting on the scenery. Not much had changed since Betsy had left. Same buildings. Same trees. Though they were greener now that spring had taken hold on the state of New York. But as they turned onto Greymalkin Lane, Betsy felt a lump rise in her throat and a thrill of subdued anxiety creep up the back of her neck.

As they idled in front of the gate and Kitty entered her security codes, Betsy finally probed at the unsaid something that was looming between them. "Kitty, can you tell me something? Has it been awkward since I left?"

Kitty raised an eyebrow at Betsy. "Of course it has. You knew it would be."

She folded her hands in her lap as they drove through the gates. "Oh, I see."

Kitty waved a hand at Betsy and said nonchalantly, "But there's nothing to worry about. Remy, Hank, Ororo and Nathan returned a few days ago and things are sliding back to normal. Like it always does when people come back from a mission. I don't think anyone will give you a hard time. And Bobby's back now, too."

Betsy nodded. "That's good to hear. He always seems to set the entire mansion at ease."

Kitty smiled. "Sure does."

The grounds were quiet save the merry chirping of a few birds as Kitty rolled the car into the garage and turned off the engine. They both sat in the front seat for a few seconds and Betsy laughed awkwardly. Kitty took the keys out of the ignition and placed them in the visor above the driver's seat. "Just go in there and be yourself, Betsy. Stay under the radar for a few days. It was just a vacation. Everyone takes one every now and then."

Betsy pursed her lips. "It's the reason for my vacation that worries me."

Kitty released a sigh and turned to look at her teammate. "I can't say it wasn't shocking. But we're getting used to the idea of it now. Some of us more than others."

"May I ask who?"

Kitty pursed her lips. "Well, Piotr and Kurt are more than a little wary of the idea. And Ororo was more than a bit shocked when she came back and heard what happened. But she's 'Ro. She's open-minded. I think she's just a little hurt. You and Jean are two of her best friends. It's only natural. And then there's Nathan. I'd just avoid him if I were you."

Betsy's eyes widened as she laughed nervously. "I tend to do that anyway."

Kitty winked. "You're not the only one. But honestly, no one really knows what to think because no one knows what's going on."

Betsy opened the door and walked toward the trunk as Kitty opened it for her. "Like you said, you're not the only one."

"Well, looks like you'll have enough time to get unpacked before dinner. Rogue's cooking tonight."

Betsy grimaced. "Not chitterlings or whatever she calls those things?"

Kitty's eyes grew wide and she grimaced. "Oh, no! Hank mentioned something about craving lasagna so she's doing Italian. Besides, the only one who'll eat them besides Remy and herself is Logan. And he'll eat anything."

Inside the mansion, they made their separate ways, Betsy to her room and Kitty to the lower levels. The house was completely quiet and Betsy assumed the team was down in the Danger Room training, so she began to unpack when her private line rang. A shirt still in her grip, she answered the phone.

"Hello?"

"Hello sister of mine, it's Brian. How was your flight?"

Betsy shook her head as she put the shirt into a dresser drawer. "Brian! I thought I was supposed to call you?"

"You were. But Meggan and myself are going out on the town and I was afraid you'd miss us."

She frowned at herself in the mirror. "I see."

"So how's everything there? Any dramatics or hair tugging yet?"

Sitting down on the bed, Betsy released a sigh and said, "No. I haven't heard a peep. Kitty picked me up at the airport... she says hello, by the way... and she was her usual chipper self. But other than her, I haven't seen anyone. But I just arrived. Kitty told me not to worry. Just to... how did she put it? Stay below the radar."

"Sounds like good advice. What will you do when you see Jean?"

Betsy drew another sigh, trying to keep her stomach from knotting up at the mention of Jean's name. "I suppose I'll do whatever comes to mind. I'm trying not to over-think this. Just get back on with my life."

"Another excellent idea."

Brian paused for a few seconds and Betsy stood up from the bed as she listened the pops and crackles from the international circuit. "Well, Betsy. I have to be going. Sorry to cut our conversation short, but Meggan will kill me if we don't make our dinner reservation."

Smiling as she wrapped her finger around the receiver cord, Betsy said, "Go. Don't keep that wife of yours cooped up any longer than you have to."

"You'll call us if you need anything?"

Betsy nodded even though she knew Brian couldn't see her. "Always. Love you, Brian."

"Love you, too, Betsy."

Betsy hung up the phone and continued unpacking. When she was finished, she stepped out in the hallway and walked down toward the ornate staircase that overlooked the large foyer connecting to the living area and dining room. Standing at the top of the stairs, she listened for any signs of life below, but heard nothing. So she went to back to her room, deciding to take a quick nap before dinner.

Before she knew it, someone was knocking at her door.

The door creaked open as Betsy sat up and wiped the sleep from her eyes. It was dusk outside and she had slept longer than she intended.

"Elizabeth?"

It was Ororo's voice she heard and her friend walked quietly into the room and turned on the light. Stretching her arms over her head as she blinked, she asked, "What time is it?"

Ororo sat at the foot of her bed, a regal expression on her face. "It is almost seven. Dinner is almost ready."

Getting to her feet, Betsy nodded. "I'll just wash up and then I'll be down."

On her way out of the room, Betsy turned as Ororo said to her, "It's good to see you again, friend."

She then brushed past Betsy, her long organza skirt sounding like the swishing of reeds by a placid lake, and Betsy was left alone, glad that Ororo was still Ororo even though certain things had been left unsaid between them.

As she finished washing up and descended the stairs, walking quietly toward the dining room, she heard the voices of her teammates chattering about the workout earlier in the afternoon, the stock market, the plans they had for their next furlough... nothing of particular importance. For a brief moment, she wished she still had her telepathy. Most of her pleasant memories of being an X-Man were centered around this table and the psychic buzz surrounding her teammates usually brought a smile to her face. It was always good to see them relax and enjoy each other.

When she stood in the doorway, they suddenly grew silent as each one noticed her presence. She surveyed their faces and found Ororo, Kitty, Piotr, Kurt, Remy, Rogue, Hank, Bobby, Nathan and Logan all studying her with differing expressions. And as Logan got to his feet and pulled aside a chair for her, she couldn't help but observe that one face in particular was missing.

Betsy moved to take the offered seat between Rogue and Logan. "Here you go, darlin'. Saved a seat special for ya."

He sat back in his seat and began chewing on a slice of Italian bread. "Wanted to wait for ya, but seems somebody had ants in his pants."

At the corner of the table, across from Betsy and next to Hank who sat beside Nathan, Bobby protested, "Hey! Some of us were hungry. I was just looking out for Blue here. You know how he can't stand to be rude."

Hank laughed as he arranged his napkin on his lap and took his first helping of lasagna, "My friend, it is always worth the wait when a lovely lady is the cause of the delay."

Betsy smirked at her furred teammate and apologized for being late to dinner. Some things would never change. The sun may cease to rise and set, but Hank McCoy would always been the finest gentlemen she knew.

As Rogue filled her plate for her and batted a gloved hand at Remy as he hovered over the bread she was trying to pass her way, Betsy smiled. "It smells wonderful, Rogue."

Rogue grinned. "Why thank you. Glad someone appreciates it 'round here when a lady spends her afternoon over a hot stove."

Finally getting a handful of bread, Remy said nonchalantly as he grinned, "Oh, we 'preciate it, chere. You should know better than anyone these full mouths are all the t'anks we're capable of givin'."

On the other side of Nathan who sat stoically and silently, Ororo dabbed the corner of her mouth with a cloth napkin. "It is delicious, Rogue."

Rogue smiled as she cut into her lasagna. "Thank you, 'Ro. Y'all just remember to save room for dessert."

Across from her, Hank beamed. "And what fine concoction did you assemble for us this evening, milady?"

Rogue winked. "Why the only dessert worth making."

Bobby grinned from ear to ear. "Not Mississippi Mud Pie?"

Rogue nodded as Hank and Bobby giggled like schoolboys and Kitty and Kurt shook their heads. "You know me too well, sweetie."

The team commenced eating, obviously hungry from the day's exertion, and Betsy took a few timid bites, impressed at Rogue's skill with oregano but not at all hungry as it became glaringly obvious the table was only set for eleven.

She wasn't there. She wasn't going to be there. She wouldn't come trouncing down the stairs or in from the garage, tossing her red mane of hair over her shoulder and apologizing dramatically for being late as she grabbed a morsel from Bobby's plate. She wouldn't smile at Betsy with a twinkle in her eye and let her know that everything was okay and that whatever happened in England could be sorted out. She wasn't there to make Betsy feel better or even feel worse. She wasn't there to assuage her guilt or even to tell her that it was all a mistake and they could go back to their lives as they once were. Jean just simply wasn't there and the realization of it dug a gaping pit in her stomach.

Her teammates' small talk went unnoticed as her thoughts hummed noisily in her head. She closed her eyes and tried not to grimace as she briefly felt the room spin around her. Finally, she couldn't take it any longer and as she clenched her napkin tightly under the table and searched the eyes of her teammates, she blurted out, "Where's Jean?"

The table grew silent as they all stared at her wordlessly. A few agonizing seconds passed and then she asked again, her voice more strained and urgent, "Where's Jean? Will someone please tell me?"

Beside her Logan remained silent as Kitty squirmed in her seat and coughed. Betsy dropped her napkin into her plate and pressed both palms against the dark, oak table. "Is she here? Is she afraid to face me? What? Please? I have to know."

They all looked at each other, obviously trying to decide who would tell her the news when Nathan said gruffly, his expression cold and expressionless, "She's not here. She left. She's gone."

Betsy pushed her chair away from the table and stood quickly, gripping onto the back of the chair with white knuckles as she faced Nathan. "Where? She's gone where?"

He put his fork down and crossed his arms over his chest. "Away."

Next to her, Logan reached out to touch her arm but Betsy swatted him away. "Where, Cable? Dammit, tell me where!"

Nathan squinted at her as he said coolly, "As far away from the stink of you as she could get, Psylocke."

Ororo dropped her fork as she exclaimed, "Nathan, please!"

But Nathan paid her no heed as he continued, "You should have stayed in England where you belonged."

Around her, she heard the sound of chairs backing away from the table as her teammates prepared for the worst, but Betsy took a deep breath and pressed a hand to her head and asked calmly, "So you're blaming this all on me?"

Nathan shrugged, "I don't know. You see any other ninja sluts moving in on married women before they've had a chance to grieve for their missing husbands?"

Next to him, Ororo whispered, "That is not fair, Nathan."

He addressed her as he continued to stare at Betsy, "No. But it's the truth."

Betsy laughed as her grip tightened around the ornate chair back. "Your truth maybe. Yours. But it's not mine, Nathan. You don't know me well enough to make that sort of judgment call. Do you want to hear my 'truth'?"

Backing away from the chair and opening her arms wide as she surveyed the room. "Do you all want to hear my truth while we're here and it's all nice and ugly?!"

She glared at her teammates who all stared blankly at her, apparently intent on her side of the matter, so Betsy began, her words quiet but focused, "What I know is I went away to help a teammate because the lot of you asked me to. I know we both got more involved than we even thought was possible. I know that Warren doesn't want be a part of this team anymore because of it. I know it's got most of you thinking I really am the whore people have always whispered about me being."

Betsy began to pace as Logan grimaced and Rogue shook her head. "But do you know what? I don't give a flying fuck. I don't. Because I'm me and she's her and whatever goes on between us is our business. I don't want to offend anyone but if I do that's not my problem. It's yours. If you want to think the nimbo seduced the sweetheart of the X-Men and is leading her down a road of ruin, fine! If you want to whisper about me behind my back, fine! It's not like I haven't already endured the gossip when Kwannon was here. Or when I first started dating Warren. Goodness knows I'm used to living in the roles the lot of you have placed me in. Whore, spy, assassin, traitor... I've been a lot of people under this roof. So if you want to hate me, fine! But I'm still your teammate and I'm not going anywhere."

After Betsy grew silent, they remained quiet for a few moments when Kurt finally said in a gentle tone, his concern for her etched obviously across his face, "We don't hate you, mein freundin. Some us may not understand. But you are our friend, we cannot hate you."

Betsy took a deep breath as she looked around the table. Piotr and Remy were sitting stiffly, obviously uncomfortable with the drama of the evening while Kitty, Bobby, Hank and Rogue were nodding in agreement with Kurt. She couldn't bare to look at Logan, afraid his expression would cause a chink in the armor she was drawing around herself. But it was Nathan's expression that chilled her to the core. His amused smile as he lifted a fork to his lips and chewed casually on his meal told her all she needed to know. Regardless of the status of their relationship, Jean's surrogate son would always see her as the slut who romanced his mother over the barely cold corpse of his father.

Releasing a quiet sigh, she said evenly as she walked slowly from the room, "Thank you, Kurt, I appreciate the sentiment. Now if you'll excuse me."

Behind her, Rogue protested, but she held up a hand and said with a smile, "Hank is welcome to my piece of the pie. I seem to have lost my appetite."


A half an hour later as Betsy dried the tears that naturally came after confronting her teammates... tears that she didn't know were caused by the stress or from her sadness over Jean's absence, tears she didn't want to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing, tears that flowed quietly without sniffles or cries of sorrow... she sat on the far side of Breakstone Lake looking out at the reflection of the stars over the water as she clenched her hands in her lap and breathed slowly.

Above her, she heard the rustling of leaves as a gentle breeze tossed her hair gently against her cheek. She tilted her head up as she felt someone treading lightly on the grass nearby, her presence barely contorting the atoms around her. "Hello, Storm."

She watched Ororo smile. "I thought I might find you out here, friend. Unlike most of the students at Xavier's, you always preferred brooding by the lake instead of on the roof."

Betsy cracked the barest recollection of a smile. "What can I say? I like to be a little original in my unoriginality. Though I think Logan probably started the trend of lake-side brooding. He just doesn't have as many disciples."

Crossing her bare feet, Ororo sat in the grass next to Betsy and held a smooth pebble in her hand. A cool breeze rolled off the lake for their benefit and a long wisp of white hair tickled her teammate's bare shoulder, smelling of earth and lilies and well- guarded treasures. "I would say you have a bit in common with Logan these days."

Titling her head to better see her friend as the moonlight reflected silver off her features, Betsy asked almost defensively, "Pardon me?"

Ororo didn't return Betsy's gaze as she turned the stone over twice in the palm of her hand. "The knack for disappearing, the hot-headed temper, the fondness for certain red-heads. It seems you have more in common with the old man than you may think."

Betsy raised an eyebrow. "I always did admire him. Though I think we both know I'm not out to emulate him... especially in matters of the heart."

Her eyes crinkling in the barest hint of a smile, Ororo faced her friend. "This I know, Elizabeth."

It was becoming apparent that Ororo wasn't out here to comfort her and Betsy remembered Kitty's words... that Ororo's hadn't been the most approving member of the team regarding the news of Betsy and Jean's tryst. So Betsy asked, "Why did you come out here, Ororo?"

Ororo tilted her head, still gazing at Betsy. "I do not really know why. I suppose it seemed the proper thing to do. I suppose I have things to say and you have things to tell me."

Betsy squeezed her knees against her chest. She was not looking forward to this, but all things considering, she'd rather have this conversation with Ororo than any of her other teammates. She respected, even loved Ororo in her own way and she knew that everything that was about to be discussed came from her heart and out of concern for her and the whole team.

So she took a deep breath as Ororo began, her smooth voice easing the harshness of her words. "Elizabeth, you know I hold you as one of my dearest friends. And I am as forward-thinking as the next person."

She grew silent for a brief moment, and Betsy volunteered, "Probably more forward-thinking."

Ororo nodded. "Perhaps. But this, well, it is just ludicrous. You and Jean? You cannot be serious. I can understand Jean getting caught up in this idea of the two of you, being so fragile at the moment with Scott's passing. And she has always been such a romantic at heart, never quite thinking with her head. But you? Elizabeth, I thought you would be practical about the matter."

Pursing her lips, Betsy said quietly, "I'm trying to be practical now. That's why I came back. I don't know how I feel and I don't know if there is even to be anything between us more than friendship. I just want to get back on with my life."

Flipping the smooth stone once again in her palm, Ororo said, "But you left Warren just when you seemed happier than I had ever seen either of you. He will not come back to the team now. You know how he gets when he has been wronged."

Betsy drew a deep breath as she tried not to dwell on the pain she had caused Warren. "Things aren't always what they seem, Ororo. And besides, we all knew that Warren's heart wasn't in the X-Men anymore. The only reason he was still here was me."

Ororo nodded. "That may be... but you were careless, irrational."

Hanging her head into her hands, Betsy said with a whisper, "I know, I know. But sometimes you have to follow your heart."

The two locked gazes and Ororo said with a glint in her eye, "Sometimes following your heart causes nothing but pain... for yourself and those who love you."

As they fell into silence, Betsy bit her lip. She dared not throw Forge and the sacrifices Ororo made regarding him into the conversation. She didn't need to mention him or how Ororo had a track record of sacrificing her heart to duty. It hung, understood, between them like a fine mist. It was the unspoken example of what Ororo expected of her.

And so the words stopped flowing between them and Betsy realized their conversation was at an end. Ororo got to her feet and pressed the smooth, flat pebble into her hand as she said casually but regally, "It is good to have you back, Psylocke. The X-Men have missed you."

A gentle wind kissed Betsy's face as Ororo took to the sky, leaving the estate grounds far behind as she went to join the clouds. She knew if she stayed out of doors long enough, a gentle rain would eventually fall from the sky as Ororo communed with the heavens.

Behind her, she heard a rustling of leaves as Logan stepped out of the foliage and into the dim moonlight. Without a word, he sat next to her on the grass and they both stared out over the lake together.

They sat in silence for many minutes when Logan finally fished something out of his pocket and pressed it into Betsy's hand, exchanging it for the smooth stone Ororo had left her. Apparently the evening currency of conversation. She examined the object Logan gave her, finding it was a postcard, but in the dim light she couldn't tell what it was of.

She held it in her lap and rubbed a thumb over the smooth laminate covering the picture side of the card. "What's this?"

"World's biggest ball of twine. We were up on a mission near the Lakes. Rogue wanted to take a detour to see it. Was about to send it to ya but since yer back, thought I'd deliver it in person."

Betsy turned to face him. "What does it say?"

His eyes crinkled in the slightest hint of a smile as he stared hard at her. "Wish you were here."

She laughed quietly as she turned the card over twice in her hands. "Why do you always know exactly what to say?"

He rested his hands on his knees. "Maybe because I've been around long enough to know what ya need to hear."

Betsy sighed as she turned her gaze back out toward the water. "Why do we make our lives so complicated?"

Logan chuckled. "Now that I don't know, darlin'. If I did know, I'd probably make a killin' in the self-help industry."

She shook her head and smiled as one of the first crickets of the season chirped nearby. Next to her, Logan lit a cigar and took a puff as he asked, "Don't let Ororo get to ya. She's just trying to help. Duty and honor are important things to people like us, ya remember that, okay?"

The two fell into silence again as another cricket joined the first and the lake rippled from an unseen fish dancing below the surface. After a while, Betsy asked quietly, "Where did Jean go, Logan?"

Flicking an ash from his smoke, he asked her in return, "If I tell ya are ya gonna go chasin' after her?"

Betsy paused, taking a few seconds to think. "No. I don't think so. As long as she's coming back eventually."

"She is. She called yesterday and said she had to take care of some loose ends."

She nodded. "Good. She needs to do that."

He took another puff and let the smoke linger in his open mouth before he exhaled. "She does."

Turning once again to face her friend, Betsy asked, her brows knit with concern, "Why did she leave, Logan? I hope it wasn't just because of me."

Logan shook his head. "Nah. It was lots of stuff, naturally. It's never simple with Jean. I'll be honest with you, Betts. I'm scared for her. With all the stress, she's having trouble coping with her heightened telepathy. She pulled a stunt one night at Harry's that got me real worried. When she does get back, you, all of us gotta take it easy with her. She needs help. And as much as I hate to say it about her considering how much strength that woman has, she's fragile right now. She could really get herself... all of us into trouble."

Placing the postcard on the grass in front of her, Betsy pulled her knees against her chest. "What is it? What did she do?"

Taking another draw from his cigar, the cinder at the end bathed his face in an orange glow. "One of the spookiest things I ever saw, Betts. She had that whole bar thinking with one mind. It was like she was losin' herself in them. If I didn't know who had taught her and what she was capable of, I'd still be worried, but not as worried if ya catch my drift."

Within X-Men circles, there were two types of telepaths... those trained by Xavier and those who weren't. Ones like herself and Emma Frost had always had less restraint and at times looser ethics, but in her opinion more overall control. Xavier taught his telepaths a high sense of ethics, but also incredibly strict control over their powers, even getting them to compartmentalize their telepathy to another mode of thinking, even separating their telepathic mind from their regular brain patterns. When that control snapped, bad things often happened as Onslaught and Phoenix before him had proved. Her eyes widened as she understood exactly why Logan was so worried about Jean. Xavier's teachings were successful with a mutant like Jean who wielded both telepathy and telekinetic powers but now that she relied more on her telepathy that was even stronger than before the loss of her telekinesis, the walls she and Xavier before her had erected were bound to crumble.

Pursing her lips, she said, "When she gets back, I suppose I should spend some time with her. But without my telepathy, I'm not sure if I can help. Besides, working intimately with me might cause even more stress."

Logan nodded. "I was thinking we could call Emma at the Academy."

Betsy agreed. "She'd be perfect. You can call her in the morning so she'll be ready when Jean gets back."

He grinned. "I was hoping you'd do the honors."

Her eyes grew wide. "Me?"

"Yeah. Ya know what's going on with her more than any of us, considering what ya two went through in the Pacific."

Betsy sighed as she rubbed her forehead. "I suppose you're right. But I'm not looking forward to that call."

She then chuckled nervously. "How do you explain what we went through to someone you barely know?"

Logan stood up and offered her a hand. "I suppose you just start talkin', darlin'."

Pocketing her postcard, she placed her hand in his. "She's just going to think I'm a tart."

He winked at her. "Who cares what she thinks? Besides, this is Emma Frost. Ain't nothin' gonna shock her."

He helped her to her feet and then said with a smile as he tossed the butt of his cigar over his shoulder and into the lake, "Now let's get back to the house. Hank insisted on sharing the last piece of pie with ya."

Betsy smirked and shook her head as they walked back towards the twinkling lights of the Mansion.

All matters aside, it was good to be home.


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