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Seeing Red

Kaylee

 

The intercom was cheap. He's just installed it yesterday. Hadn't even gotten around to telling the others it was up yet...he wanted to run it through a few tests first.

Now he was wishing he'd already told them.

*Whatcha doin' here, Red?*

*I wanted...to see you.*

*Gal comes around dressed like that...a guy just might get some ideas.*

He stood frozen by the little speaker, heart starting a wary dance against his ribs.

*You're...one of my dearest friends, Logan.* A pause. He waited without breathing. *Weeks, Logan. Weeks and it still hasn't come back. I feel...I feel so _alone._*

*You're not alone, Jeannie. Ya know that.*

*It's so _silent_. I'm...blinded.*

*Ya just got an adjustment to make, darlin'. We'll help ya through this.*

*Logan...I need you. I need you to...make me feel _alive_ again.*

He put a hand to the speaker, wanting to do, to say something. _Anything._

But he only listened.

*This...ain't right, Jean.*

*I just want something to hold on to. Something to let me remember how it feels to...to _know._*

The gruff voice sounded a little strained. *You love _him._ We all came to terms with that. An' he loves you.*

*But I don't _know_ that anymore! Words...words aren't enough! I can't _feel_ that love, and it's...it's tearing me apart, Logan. _You_ don't need words. With you I've just always known...*

"Please, no," he whispered, barely aware that he even spoke. "Please god, no..."

*Jeannie...I've wanted you since day one. You know that. But that ain't enough for a gal like you. Ya need...you deserve better.*

*Logan...I need to fill up this emptiness.*

*But I...I tried to fill it...*

*I need to _feel_ again.*

*Jean...*

*Shhh... Don't...don't talk. Just...show me how you feel...*

His jaw tightened. Relaxed. Tightened. The hand slid away from the intercom, and he slowly, slowly backed to sit on the edge of the bed.

A low groan, almost a growl, from the speaker. The poor quality thing interrupted the quiet sounds with little pops and scratches.

But it wasn't enough to disguise the whisper of cloth over flesh, of skin against skin.

Scott stared blindly at the intercom as if he could somehow see through it to what was happening in the hangar bay. Thoughts were milling; seeking order that wouldn't be found. His chest felt heavy and tight, his throat constricted.

Low and husky'*Jean...*

All this time. All these years. _One_ thing that sustained him...a strength that kept him going when it all seemed futile.

Whispered'*Logan.*

Lost and found and lost and found and...lost.

*Logan, I...oh yes...*

He'd learned it as a child. Learned never to trust, never to love. They always left you in the end. You weren't good enough. Smart enough. _Normal_ enough.

*Ohhh...*

Pain and rage had made him temperamental. Friends had been few and far between...and even those never really touched that inner hurt. Nothing touched it. Nothing until he'd thought, for just a _brief_ time, that he'd found parents...a family...people who would love him despite those strange headaches that tore his brain apart; despite how hard it was for him to open up.

*That's it...right there...yesss...*

But they'd left, too. Not a word. Not an explanation. Just..._gone._ And that tentative openness he'd allowed himself was crushed back, internalized as yet more hurt to carry deep inside. Closed off. Angry. Alone.

Until the Professor had taught him how to channel the pain. Until he'd learned to lock it away where it didn't interfere with his judgment.

Until _she_ came along and slowly worked her way into a heart he'd tried to contain safely behind bars forever...

That husky growl over the speaker again. A drawn-out moan in response. Scott cupped his head in his hands and stared through ruby quartz down at a red-tinted floor.

Years of learning what it meant to love. The agony of loss. The overwhelming joy of finding.

Unflagging devotion and faith that sustained him through all his doubts, all his insecurities.

Warm, loving arms that held him at night and helped chase away some of the darkness they faced every day.

Snapping green eyes that flared with temper or passion or humor.

The growl. *Oh, Logan...* A soft cry. *Please...yes...*

"She never...said please...to me..."

His head jerked up at the sound of his voice in the closed room. Breath shuddered into his chest, feeling thick and tainted. He gave a short bark of laughter, then choked it down sharply. "I can't...can't..." Stared at the speaker, feeling nothing and everything at once. "J-Jean..."

Mocking, echoing'*Jeannie...*

His words. His arms. His love. Not enough. She'd gone to one who could _show_ her better than he...who could prove his emotion past the barrier of lost telepathy.

One thing sustaining.

*Oh, Red...*

One thing supporting.

*Logan!*

One thing giving him faith in himself. In his decisions. In his life.

*Ohhh!*

Gone.

*Oh, yes!*

Lost.

*Ahhh!*

Leaving him behind...as everyone did.

He stood. Walked to the speaker. His finger hovered over the button that would allow them to hear his voice...to hear him as he heard _them._ His hand was shaking. Somehow he pressed the one that would shut off the noise, instead.

At least, the _audible_ noise.

Red-tinted vision swept the room. Bastion had stolen the momentos of their life together. Only some clothing and a few scattered nick-nacks she'd found decorated the space. A hand went to rub at his chest. Still tender from surgery not so long ago. Sore on the outside.

Bleeding on the inside.

Fingers closed over the 'X' emblazoned on his uniform. His face contorted, teeth bared as he tore it off and flung it away from him.

"No!" he gasped, ordering himself firmly. "No." He sat. Stood. Sat again. Ran fingers into hair and gripped tightly.

*Internalize it. Internalize it. Internalize it.*

A whisper; "No."

*Internalize it!*

"I...they...she..."

Hands pulled away from his head. A hair snagged in the band of his wedding ring. Trembling fingers freed it, then his hand raised to spread open before his visored eyes. The ring glinted, painted golden-red in his vision.

A pleading murmur'"Jean..." A begging thought. *Jean...*

Nothing.

Scott stood once more. Retrieved the 'X' emblem from its resting spot and walked unsteadily over to the speaker. Set it down on the small chest of drawers they'd bought to fill some of the empty space. A little shiver traveled through his frame, but he ignored it. Two fingers closed on the wedding band, slowly twisting it off.

*Leave her a note,* some part of his mind ordered. *She has a right to know.*

He ignored it. The ring nestled down neatly over the middle of the 'X' as if it belonged there. He turned from it sharply, pulling open drawers and drawing out clothing. Scott undressed and redressed as swiftly as unsteady hands would allow, removing his visor and donning red shades, then cramming the visor and other clothes into a small duffel.

(*I need to fill up this emptiness.*)

He swallowed hard as he took a last, lingering look at the room they'd shared so briefly, the bed they'd slept in.

Voice husky and strained, he told the air, "Me, too."

The ring and the 'X' mocked him silently, but he turned his back on the sight, shouldering the duffel and striding out. Only a very small handful of people would have noticed the added tension in his jaw. A smaller handful might have seen the tremors that shivered through him every few steps; tremors of rage, tremors of pain...all internalized.

But none of that handful were there to watch as he left, and so he went on unhindered...and alone.


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