|Fri, 7 May 1999|
The One-Eyed King
This story is for Kaylee.
Mainly because she deserves a story dedicated to her, but also cause its her guy and her challenge. Which one of her challenges? Probably all of them, I can't remember any more.
Disclaimer: Guess what? They're Marvel's. I make no money from this.
The One-Eyed King
'You're looking beautiful.'
She laughs and unconsciously he forms a picture of her in his mind. Leaning her hip against the desk, the phone cradled to her ear, all grace and loveliness in the lines of her body. She had told him the colours she was wearing that morning and he puts them in - the green pencil-slim skirt, the open-necked white shirt, her hair all autumn leaves and sunsets, her green eyes aglow.
'Why are you ringing me?' she asks and the question echoes in his mind. ~I can talk to you like this - we hardly need something as cumbersome as a phone.~
'I just wanted to tell you I love you,' he says. 'And I wanted to hear your voice. And I want everyone else there to know exactly how much your husband loves you.'
She laughs again, a delicate peal. 'You're trying to make people jealous?' she asks lightly. 'Phoning me in my lunch-break will hardly do that.'
'Ah, but you can't see yourself,' he replies, grinning. 'You can't see how your eyes lit up when they told you I was on the phone, how your cheeks flushed, how you laugh and cradle the phone close to you. They can see you. They're jealous.'
'Scott Summers,' she says. 'You're acting like a teenager with a crush.' A noise behind her. 'I have to go, my love. I'm due back in class.'
'Take care,' he says, and his day is made infinitely brighter by her whispered 'I love you'.
He hears her key in the front door and his book slides from his hands. Before he can pick it up, before he can get up and go to her, he hears her light footsteps running down the hall and then she has thrown herself into his arms. She kisses him softly, then harder, her mouth a benison of delight.
Finally she lifts her mouth from his and he leans forward until his forehead touches hers. 'What was that for?' he asks, cradling her face in his hands.
'For making everyone jealous,' she says. 'For being here when I got home. Because I love you.'
'Love you, too,' he says and then she has leaned away from him and her hands touch his face and she is lifting his glasses off. Careful as ever, he shuts his eyes before she removes them and then he smiles as she gently kisses his eyelids, a butterfly brush of lips.
'Just what are you planning, Jean Grey-Summers?' he asks, one eyebrow lifting.
He hears the smile in her voice. 'I'm planning to tease you into wildness and then *devastate* you,' she says and her mouth slides over his ear.
'You're acting quite the wanton wench today,' he says. 'What would the parents think of the new teacher if they saw this?'
'I don't care what they think,' she replies, letting go of his ear. 'And I was aiming for shameless hussy.'
'Oh, I think you're on target,' and then she has lifted herself from his lap and taken him by the hand. She leads him down to the bedroom.
He can smell something burning.
With something half-sob half-scream he jolts from sleep.
'What's wrong?' she says and her voice has the panic-stricken note of the suddenly woken.
'Something's burning,' he says, and he can hear the note in his voice that tells him he is nearly hysterical.
But then her hands are on his shoulders and she soothes them over his face, gently. 'Nothing's burning,' she says. 'It was just the dream. Just the dream again.'
'Are you sure?' He can't keep the fright from his voice, from her mind.
'I'm sure,' she replies and then she is leaning over him, her hands gentle as she holds him and he pictures her face in the dark and he holds that vision of her in his mind as she soothes him back into a sleep that, this time, is dreamless.
He walks down the street beside her, the air crisp with the scent of spring, the sun warming him, the world bright around him.
Her hand tightens on his arm and then someone is in front of them. John Kirby, he matches the face to a name. One of her boys. He knows their faces as well as she does now.
'Hello John,' she says.
'Hello Miss,' the boy replies. 'This is my mom.'
'Jenny Kirby,' the woman says. She is quite plain, her features not helped by the tightly drawn ponytail, but her eyes are kind. 'Please to meet you, Mrs Grey-Summers. John's told me all about you.'
'Pleased to meet you,' Jean replies. She turns to him. 'This is my husband, Scott.' He reaches out and shakes the woman's hand and then she is being dragged away as John sees one of his friends.
Jean's eyes follow them and the world dances in brightness.
He dreams of fire. She soothes him, cradles him. He tells her he loves her.
He looks in the mirror at the naked body reflected. ~Not bad,~ he thinks. ~Everything's looking good. Hair good, stomach flat, great breasts~ and then she is laughing so hard he is drowned out.
~I thought I told you not to look through my eyes,~ she says.
~Who else's eyes would I look through?~ he says, his voice very innocent.
~You know what I mean,~ she replies and she sends him a vision of her chasing him around the room, a rolled-up newspaper in her hand. ~Not when I'm just out of the shower. Not when I'm looking in the mirror and feeling more than a little vain.~
~Spoilsport.~ Even in his thoughts he manages to sound pouty. She just laughs.
The dream starts again. He whimpers and fights against it, but he knows he will not wake until the end.
It always starts with pain. Pain in his head like knives. An image of rock, fallen beams, dust rising. Then the world turns dizzy angles as a hand grasps the back of his uniform and lifts him up. A grinning face, teeth, fur, rose-golden eyes. 'Boss wants a word with you.' A hand raised, falling. A white space in his consciousness, a frame cut out of his life.
'Know what to do with you.'
Images of darkness. Time passes. He waits, patient, knowing they will come for him. He picks at a collar he can't see.
White light through door-frame. Fluorescence. The collar removed.
Red diamond. Eyes of blood. His visor taken off and he sees that skin is white. 'You know what to do.'
Colours. He had nearly forgotten colours. Orange eyes, not rose-golden. White walls. Blues, greens, mauves. He drinks in colour.
'We're going to break you.' A smile that is half-leer. 'Boss is tired of you screwing with his plans, so we're going to break you and give you back to your little band of boy scouts so we can watch them break too.' He tries to pull away but he is held by hands like iron. Laughter. 'You can't do a thing, solar-powered boy. You've been too long out of the sun.'
A hand, claws, turning in front of his eyes. 'I would have used these.' Blood-thirst. 'But boss says we've got to make sure your optic nerve is destroyed.'
Red. Burning red.
Horror - no words for the horror.
'Hold him.' Hands, impersonal hands holding open his eyes. He fights, violently, but he can't escape.
'Last thing you'll ever see.' Orange eyes smile in his and then red, searing red fills his vision, is his vision, eats his vision.
The world catches fire and burns away into black nothingness.
He wakes with something that is half-sob, half-scream.
It is dark.
It will always be dark.
She is waiting for him. She soothes him. She loves him.
The party swirls around him and takes her from him. She looks back at him but he waves her away. He is quite happy in the corner cradling his drink. He can hear her talking, laughing.
A voice in front of him. 'Scott Summers,' it says and he orientates towards it, smiles at the woman in front of him.
'I'm Trish Fowley,' she says and her voice is fluttery, light. Jean turns for an instant, looks for him and he sees the woman is short and plump and somewhat frizzy-looking. He has seen her before, fairly often. He offers her his hand and she shakes it warmly.
'I'm the fifth grade teacher,' she says. 'I work with Jean sometimes.'
'Yes, she's mentioned you,' he says and his smile softens. Jean likes this lady.
'She's lovely, your wife,' says Trish. 'I couldn't believe how beautiful she was. So smart, too. You're a lucky man.'
'More than you can imagine,' he says. 'She is the heart of my heart.' He always knows where Jean is and his smile reaches her now in the crowd. He sees himself smiling and only just stops himself from blowing a kiss.
Trish is flustered. 'Oh my,' she says, all girlish giggles. 'It's not often you hear a man say such nice things about his wife.' She pats at his arm.
He remembers when he would have shied away from her touch, remembers when his love for Jean went unspoken, unremarked, unless they were alone. He remembers being stoic and grim and utterly controlled. He remembers when he was blind in a way that had nothing to do with vision.
'I love her,' he says. 'Am I supposed to keep it a secret?' He presents a worried face to Trish and she laughs at him.
'Would you like to tell my husband that?' she says and then turns away from him. He can tell by the way her voice changes. 'Doesn't she look lovely tonight?'
'I wouldn't know,' he says gently and he knows Trish is looking at him in shock. 'I'm blind, Trish,' he continues.
'She isn't just my heart.'
'She's my eyes.'
The title comes from the saying 'In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.'
And in just in case you go 'A-ha, he was reading a book!', it was a braille book.
Hope you like it, Kaylee.