Polarity Issues

June 05, 2018:

Lorna finally confronts some of her issues thanks to Jean

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Early June finds the Institute much reduced in traffic, what with much of the student body having gone home for the summer holidays. All that remains are the students with nowhere else to go, whether due to having no home or not being welcome at the homes they do have, the students taking summer courses, and those who roster the X-Men… the school's rather lesser-known branch of business.

Jean Grey is nominally a member of the last category, but in her position as an administratrix of the school, concerns herself much more with the first two. On this, one of the first pleasant days after a wave of humidity and unseasonable heat, she's taken her work out of her office and to a small window seat, where — accompanied by a cup of tea on a nearby end table, and the fading rays of the sun streaming through the south-facing window — she seems intent on drawing up some new curricula for the fall semester.

If the teacup occasionally floats to meet her, apparently of its own accord, well, that's just a common sight around here.

*

Lorna hadn't spent as much time in the mansion as she had in the last week. She'd been in Genosha since December, then her wedding had been ruined, she'd been kidnapped, and taken over by Malice.. It had been an eventful past six months. And now? Now she was a mother of a mutant baby and her father kept sending messages through round about ways inviting her to return to Genosha and give up her life in the states.

It wasn't an easy choice. Much less one she wanted to make after having fought in the Genoshan Civil War all that time. But Sinister was still out there, and so was Malice, undoubtedly.. and that hadn't sat well with the green haired woman in the least. So she stayed, muggy humidity of New York be damned. Still, she'd patched up things as best she could with most of the X-men.. But not Jean. She'd stayed away more or less from Scott and Jean. Given that they'd most disapproved of her actions in regards to Pietro and Wanda, and Magneto.. It was complicated to say the least.

The green haired mutant came out of her room at the end of the staff corridor, the room she shared with her now husband, Marcos Diaz and little baby Aurora. She looked exhausted, and tiredly rubbed at the shadows beneath her eyes. Her daughter was down for a nap, which meant she got to eat something without a baby on her hip and maybe to take a nap herself. Green eyes fell on Jean's figure outside of her office at the end of the hall at the cushioned window seat. The breeze wafting gently through the hall back toward her. She paused, her bare feet thumping to a halt on the plush carpet. Before the fact that she halted at the sight of the red head could well and truly make her feel even more awkward, the greenette stepped toward her once long time, close friend. "Hey Jean."

*

Jean assuredly knows Lorna is there long before she looks up. Perhaps she even knows the exact contours of Lorna's awkwardness towards her, though she tends to refrain from doing deep reads of anyone in the interests of basic privacy and decency.

Nonetheless, she doesn't need to do so, in order to know what Lorna's avoidance has meant. In order to guess at what has been going on in the younger mutant's mind and heart. Jean was empathetic and perceptive even before her powers gave her a way to verify all her hunches for sure.

The redhead finally glances up as she's addressed. If there's any hard feelings due to the events of the past few months, none are outwardly visible in Jean's calm green eyes, nor in the slight smile she affords Lorna. There is a quiet watchfulness, certainly, but a certain understanding as well. Disapproval and understanding can coexist. "Hey yourself," she says, before she glances across the hall, into an empty room.

A moment later, a chair comes drifting out and sets down beside Jean's window seat. "There's enough in the pot for another cup, if you want one," Jean mentions, shuffling her papers back into their folders. "You look like you could use one."

*

Lorna hesitated, once she'd have taken up the invitation to join Jean whole-heartedly, even with gusto and gossip and a few jabs at Scott's inability to crack a smile.. But a sigh dragged from her lips as she glanced at the chair that was tugged out to settle beside her and Lorna knew that if she took off now.. well, Nate had already told her to seek out Jean and get some mental help. It made it all the more awkward, because she'd avoided it since she'd come back.

A glance was spared for the tea pot, and Lorna reached up to rub the bridge of her nose before she settled down in the offered chair. Jean didn't need to be a mind reader to see the body language that peeled off Lorna in waves of awkwardness. It was clear in the line of her shoulders and the way she sat stiffly on the edge of the chair.

"I shouldn't. I should try to get a nap in after I eat something. Aurora is finally down for a nap, and that means I don't have to watch her and contain stray static electricity whenever she gets fussy." Along with normal new born problems, crying all the time and fussing.. Aurora managed to be a physical danger to anyone around her that didn't have some ability to shield against static electricity. Even when Aurora wasn't upset, her powers came in and out in bursts. Which meant Lorna had to be on hand more often than not to stifle it.

*

Green eyes flick up to take note of the hesitation, but Jean doesn't comment nor let her gaze linger. Instead she simply blinks her gaze away again, dismissing the look with a flick of her lashes, and waits patiently for Lorna to accept or not. With Jean, there is always a choice in that regard. For many reasons, Jean Grey finds forcing others to be anathema… a last resort, if one to be used ever at all.

Her demeanor warms a little when Lorna finally chooses to sit — albeit on the edge of her seat. "You'd think I was going to bite you," she teases, lifting her head with a slight toss-back of her hair and a smile. "You'll make me feel self-conscious, Lor."

It's a moment of levity that is brief. Her expression sobers slightly with thought. "I'm sure we can come up with something to help manage the child," she says. "what with all the state of the art facilities we have. Perhaps a ground, to help manage the excess energy, until she develops more fully. You need your rest as well."

She is quiet a few moments, before she closes the folder, her hand resting over top of it. "Lorna," she finally says, "I think we are overdue for a talk. You have been avoiding me."

Her head is slightly tilted, a small frown on her lips, her green eyes sober. "What do you think I will say or do to you?"

*

Lorna shook her head, her lips tightening. "No, I don't want her to ever grow up thinking or.. or with anything that would impede her powers. It's not right. I can handle it. Now with Drake coming to the school, he's a good kid. Good grip on his powers. He'll make a great baby-sitter, being an electrokinetic—" She broke off, aware that she'd started to babble as her nerves started to fray under those green eyes of Jean's.

She swallowed a lump of dryness at the back of her throat. Magneto had admitted to her that he'd blocked her powers when they'd manifested, had them taken from her because she'd— That thought broke off abruptly, and it was a sharp pain in her mind. Something she had yet to face or deal with either. Lorna had a lot of issues she'd been running from, and running from those that would make her confront them one way or another.

Her gaze lifted back to Jean and she snorted, shaking her head as she crossed her arms and leaned back in the chair. "Can't be worse than when Scott kicked me out. Which by the way, really still not sure why he added me to the Danger Room again. I don't think it was a good idea. I never settled on whatever it is I'm doing. And really, Sinister is still out there and so is Malice.. so really, it's a bad idea." Babble. Babble. Scott had tried to get her to go back into the Danger Room and she'd refused. He'd picked at the complicated fact that even prior to Sinister's kidnapping and Malice taking over her, her powers had been unstable thanks to the little electromagnetic battery Aurora had turned her into. Tests on Muir Island had been unsure if her powers would ever return to their full capacity.. Small things had been easy. She flaunted them all day.. But combat? She'd avoided it. Ruthlessly avoided it. Even it had come to Juggernaut and Molly and Drake..
She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Sorry Jeanie, I just don't know if I belong here anymore. Alright? Maybe it would be better for everyone if I just took Aurora and hid out in Mutant Town or something."

*

"I grew up with something impeding my powers," Jean replies, her eyes momentarily distant, no tone to her voice. There is no offense to her voice: she merely states a fact. "I would have died without that mental burette titrating them out to me slowly, over time, at the rate which was safest for me and everyone else."
A pause. "It is something to consider," Jean says mildly. Again — choices.

If she is aware of the deeper history behind Lorna's sudden silence, or of that passing pain that twinges in her heart, Jean makes no indication. She just listens as Lorna makes her semi-rambling answer to her simple question. "I think you know why," Jean says. "You know why Scott closed down your access… and you know why he still didn't fully put you out, even after that."

As for the rest? "You wanted a family," Jean says. "It's no crime to want that, though I could not support you in what you did to seek it out. But I think you will find — or have already found — that it is not the family for which you hoped. For people to be family to you, you must be sure they care for you… and that you are not merely secondary to something else they love far more."

She glances out the window, over the Institute grounds. "This place will always be a refuge," she says. "And it will be one for you, if you wish. But what you choose… is up to you. I think that you and the child are safest here. But if you are not happy here, and would be happier in Mutant Town, no one will bar your way."

*

Jean usually was a calming presence, a friend when Lorna needed her. She'd tried her best, and Lorna knew that Jean would continue to do so. That's why it had hurt so much, Jean's 'I'm not angry, just disappointed' face was far worse than when Scott had raged and thrown a mug at her. Scott had lightened up, tried to get her to ease back into things. Her powers, combat training, to include her again since she'd been taken over by Malice and everything.. and..

It hurt. The time she'd chosen to stay in Genosha with Magneto and get married had hurt, especially when she'd found Illyana's portal closed off abruptly. When all was said and done she'd come back here. Been welcomed back here. Despite everything with the Brotherhood and her father, with Genosha.. She'd been welcomed back here despite everything she'd done as Malice. And her daughter and Marcos had been welcomed there too. Perhaps that hurt all the more as Jean pointed all of this out. Her shoulders deflated, and her jaw tightened as she struggled to blink back emotion that welled there. But the comment about safest had her snorting and she rolled her eyes.

The green haired mutant glanced back to Jean, her hands combing through her hair. "You're not the only one to say that, that here would be safest. I don't know what to do. Jean. I don't know what's right. For me, or Marcos and Aurora. Some days I don't think that I can raise her. That she'll have a target on her back way more than any kid deserves because of me. I didn't want to be a mother.. and then I fought in Genosha that whole time to make a country for her to grow up in. Where she'd be safe and never have to be ashamed of being herself.. and now she's born and I'm not there. It's as if everything I fought for, everything I did was pointless." Her throat tightened up and she exhaled a rough breath.

*

"We are a state-of-the-art facility with a trained mutant strike-team on call. And a jet," Jean says, with a brief hint of humor, when Lorna remarks that she's not the only one to say the Institute would be safest. "It's a logical conclusion."

The humor is only a light gloss over the concern that flickers in her eyes as Lorna's body language changes. As she finally admits she doesn't know what to do, or what is right. That she feels all she fought for, all she did, wound up pointless…

"Hey." Jean puts aside her folders, reaching to take Lorna's hands in her own. "None of us ever know what is right, in the moment. All we can do is try to choose what we think is best, at any given time. What we decide, with the information before us, is the only 'right' we're ever given to have."

She leans forward. "Look back only to learn from what happened. You did the best with what you had, and to continue doing the best with what you have — and what you've learned — is all you can do now."

Her green eyes lower. "If the child has a target on her back, it is not your fault."

*

Lorna pursed her lips and rolled her eyes, "Yeah and still the mansion gets attacked at least once a semester and needs massive renovations at least once a year because someone gets it into their head to attack." She drawled, Pietro still said the X-mansion was the safest place. That Lorna and Aurora would be better off staying low profile and living there. Odd how her half brother back pedaled on the whole join the Brotherhood and fight. Only to stress the whole don't trust Magneto thing.. Perhaps on some level Pietro did care in his own way. He'd visited her in jail after all.

Strange..

She shook her thoughts from her mind with a rough exhale as Jean took her hand into her own. Lorna pursed her lips together and held her tongue until Jean was finished speaking. She tried to take the time to think, but it didn't really process. Self-blame and self-loathing were easier. "Yes, it is my fault Jean. If I hadn't agreed to go to Genosha, or demanded to go and confront my father.. if I hadn't stepped up publicly and let him use me as a propaganda piece to get the island under control no one in the world would've known about Aurora. But because I did that, I put her in danger. Me. I did that. I got the world's attention on her as Magneto's granddaughter when I'd worked so hard for most of my life to keep that under wraps. It was my fault that Sinister kidnapped me and everyone else. My fault that Aurora was brought to his attention. Don't you see? She's not going to live one second of her life without someone after her. With Magneto in the public eye and the registration act… there are government protocols on how to handle my father Jean. And now they'll be looking at her too. And it's all my fault." There was an edge of hysteria to her voice. Of bite. She swallowed a hard lump that formed in the back of her throat.

"It's my fault.."

*

"People get jealous," Jean quips. "What can I say? I think it says something we keep surviving such attacks." Half a smile crosses her face. "Attention is inevitable, given our profile, but we're pretty hard to knock down for good."

As Lorna finally begins to pour out some of what she has been holding in, however, Jean takes her hands in her own and simply listens. She listens and does not interrupt until the younger woman is quite finished, and only then does she respond.

"Shhh," Jean soothes, her right hand brushing to Lorna's cheek. "It's all right. All that happened…" She leans in closer, her voice gentle, but there is little that tone can do to gentle the frank words:

"…is you made a mistake."

Jean is not done. "But mistakes can be rectified. If they couldn't be, I would not be here. They teach us what we didn't know before. They teach us how to go forward now. Things are as they are now: you can't change that. But you can change what happens from now now. You, and I, and all of us here can do something to rectify it. We can stop people like Sinister. We can fight the registration act. We can reduce both of your public profiles. People are quick to forget, Lorna. Nothing is set in stone."

*

Lorna seemed to physically calm, a deep breath in and out, but her mind started to spiral. It was clear, why Lorna had avoided Jean.. She was afraid Jean would open up the flood gate. Afraid that if she started she wouldn't be able to put herself back together and be able to function again. That if she looked at the traumas, the mental scars and scrapes and issues.. that she'd fall into another pit of emotion and wouldn't get out again.

Her jaw worked into a tensed, clenched way, as she tried and fought against the emotions that welled and spiked in her chest and behind her eyes and caught in her throat. The green haired mutant's hands twitched in Jean's as Lorna closed her eyes and tried to breath. To calm down.

"Aurora's life isn't something I'm willing to take chances on Jean. My father, for all his flaws and his ability to be a shit father, he knew that he had enemies. He knew that he couldn't be in my life when I was a kid. That I wouldn't live to adulthood if he was around. I mean, damnit Jean. I was in Genosha for less than two weeks before that happened! When Zealot did just that! How can I raise her Jean? The public might forget but that doesn't mean the danger has passed." She exhaled a breath, her heart pounding in her chest. Her head throbbed in pain. Little sleep mixed with a sudden extremity of emotion as Lorna felt were not good combos.

*

It is a fear Jean understands well, but the former host of the Phoenix has her reasons for being somewhat pitiless about pushing for this catharsis. Jean Grey is, after all, a duality… just as much as the Phoenix, symbol both of life and death. For all Jean Grey's maternal kindness, that cosmic fire still burns in the dark places of her mind and soul, and often for her the solution to someone in pain, traumatized, suffering… is to scourge them. Purge them. Burn them down to their very ashes, until they are clean of all which knots their spirit, and free to rebuild a new peace up from the cinders.

To Jean, one must open those gates, fall into that deep pit, and burn. To linger on and on, avoiding that transformation, is anathema to her. So she doesn't let go as Lorna tries to keep herself under control. She holds on, and she listens.

"It isn't 'taking chances' with their lives," Jean murmurs, her hand lowering again so both can wrap around one of Lorna's. "It's doing the best for them that we can. You did the best for her that you could when you made those choices. You thought the island, if it was brought under control, would be safe. You thought what you were doing was the way to do that." Jean's mouth thins. "Your 'father' is quite well known for making use of people without regard to the cost they will pay."

Her eyes go distant. "But nowhere can truly be safe with people like Sinister in the world. They will always strike anyway. How, where, and when they choose. No mutant child lives a second of their lives without the risk of someone after them. Regardless of anything you do or don't do. The persecution some of our children have suffered before they came here… No, the solution is to burn this hate and ignorance away, not to blame ourselves."

Jean is gripping Lorna's hand just a little too hard. She shivers, her eyes flicker, and she relents. "If you think it would be best to give Aurora up," she says, strained as if from a brief brush with some emotion of her own, "at least wait until she is more stable."

She leans back and lets go, a slight shake to her hand as she reaches for her tea. "We have the resources here to ensure that."

*

Green and red. The two at opposite ends of the spectrum. One a protege of Professor Xavier, the other Magneto's daughter. How they ended up to be close friends is likely the story of their forerunners. Jean burns and is reborn, Lorna steels herself, bending and twisting herself into alloys to avoid breaking. Similar and yet vastly different. Lorna snorted at her friend, and slowly shook her head. "What would you know about fear for your kids, Jean? All of yours are from other futures, other dimensions and they're already adults. Already able to take care of themselves. And no one hates them because of you, or Scott. They're heroes, they're saviors. Your kids all turned out alright future scenarios when the world is trash or not." She huffed, her lips twisting into scowl.

But it softened as Jean took both of her hands in her own. A tightness in the grip that caused Lorna to break out of some of her defensive anger. It was a weak lashing out by comparison to what she'd done in the past. And immediately she looked chastened without Jean having to say a word. The green haired mutant pursed her lips, closing her eyes briefly and holding her breath before she exhaled slowly.
"I'm scared Jean if I mess up it hurts her… Mutants, kids in my family don't last long. If I can't protect her, she'll end up like…" Her father's first daughter the girl that had died long before she'd been born. The half sister she would never know. The death of such a daughter had led her father down the paths to hell and she couldn't be sure that the same wouldn't happen to her if something happened to Aurora.
Her mind blasted these thoughts, it was hard not to fixate when it was rapidly holding and hooking in her mind's eye like some horrible nightmare. Trask and the collars. A crib behind bars. Nightmare after nightmare haunted her.

Green eyes opened and Lorna exhaled another rough breath. "Look. I'm sorry Jean.. this.. this isn't working. I'm a bit manic right now and.." Excuses. Again.

*

Jean looks into Lorna's eyes. Usually the green of them is so gentle, like the light through the first leaves of spring, but now they burn with the sick glow of nuclear fire. Perhaps backed up by the fact actual flames seem to be dancing in them, there and gone, an unyielding fire flickering across her irises.

Jean may not need to speak to chasten Lorna, but she does anyway.

"I know plenty about fear for my children, Lorna," she says. Her voice is still so gentle, but it bares the steel of a mother mantled over her babies with a naked knife. "I know plenty about mourning the ways in which they are all already broken. I know that you know that. We will forget this was said."

True to her word, she does not pull back — in fact takes Lorna's hands more tightly — and her sternness relents as Lorna admits her fear. Her thumb brushes the back of Lorna's hand. "Your blood does not decide your future, or hers. Neither of your choices are set in stone." Her eyes half-close. "People are much more resilient than you'd think. One mistake is not the end, and the futures you fear are not yet here."

She is quiet a moment. "You are exhausted," she admits. "You have run yourself ragged. I should not push you. These things take time, anyway. Get some rest?" Her hand squeezes Lorna's. "We can talk when you feel more rested."

*

Lorna exhaled a breath, Jean's words twisting in her chest as she knew what she'd said was stupid and wrong for oh so many reasons. But anger and defensive anger at that, rarely care in the moment. The green haired mutant hung her head faintly, guilt blossoming anew in her mind. Sleep wouldn't come. Like her father, on the up or down swing she couldn't sleep for nightmares of Malice, of Sinister, of futures yet to come and the present's worries. She wasn't able to sit still, while at the same time she was exhausted. At least, she might be able to lay down for a while, lost in her thoughts.

It had been bad enough a few weeks ago that Nate had had to send her off to sleep with telepathic help. Of course, that had only taken the place of the pain killers from her broken leg..

Lorna shook her head, returning the gentle squeeze of Jean's hands. "Push me Jean whenever. If we waited for a time when I was getting enough sleep or mildly stable we'd be waiting till we were as old as Logan." She drawled, a faint dry tone in her voice. It muffled the pain poorly, especially when one's friend was a telepath. Lorna at least knew better than to lie to Jean. That never ended well.

"Everyone here runs themselves ragged. Not exactly a mentally healthy bunch, we few, we not-entirely-so-happy-few." She continued but got up with another sigh. She reached up to drag her hair back from her face and fought the urge to yawn again.

*

Jean doesn't continue to twist the knife. She can sense the guilt and remorse easily enough, and she knows well enough that people say irrational things in the heat of anger and exhaustion. As promised — it is forgotten after that chide.

She bows her head a little to the returned squeeze of Lorna's hand in her own. The younger woman's quip draws a faint smile. "Isn't that a fact," Jean says, mildly teasing, some hint of her usual light wryness returning to her voice. "We'll take it in stages. But I believe that you must face it, sooner or later. We must process what we feel to begin to make any sense of it at all."

We must burn to rebuild, is what she truly means, but there are kinder phrasings to use.

She looks pensive at Lorna's final remark. "We aren't," she says, with a rueful smile. "But we work through it, and we patch the cracks when they come." She lets the other mutant rise, opening her hands and leaning back, and reclaims her folder. "Go rest, Lorna," she says, rising herself. "If you cannot, call. I will come help you find sleep."

*

Lorna eyed the folder and giving it a side ways frown. "As if you don't work enough Doctor Jean Grey." She snorted, and shook her head. "I had to go off to try to secure a small island nation. You want to run a school. I still think the island nation is the easier path.. tropical beaches, coconuts.." She arched a brow upwards. "Meanwhile you have paperwork and grading." She teased the humor easier to cover up just how on the head Jean had nailed her exhaustion and troubles.

Lorna would have to get therapy, likely some kind of meds for her bipolar disorder (again) and work through her mental scars from the past year. It would be long, hard, messy and take countless hours of work. And only if Lorna actually stopped running from her problems head long into more problems long enough to try to do all of that.

"Don't work too hard, yeah?" She quipped, flipping the folder shut, stapled side against stapled side. Before she turned to go find food and after, perhaps a nap. That or an hour or two reading Emily Bronte

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