Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Between Life and Death

Familiarity and Confusion

by slickboy444 1 Reviews

A mission gone horribly wrong leads Scott Summers to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. But is he really dead? Or something more sinsiter going on? Scott/Jean, Kurt/Kitty, minor hints...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magneto, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat - Published: 2006/02/20 - Updated: 2006/02/21 - 7783 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 17: Familiarity And Confusion


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Blake Hellstrom hung up the phone and simply stood in a daze at the situation he was in now. Not only was he struggling with his own personal issues with amnesia, but now the Brotherhood was in turmoil, Wanda was in the infirmary, he was in a place he didn't know and where nobody trusted him, and now Mystique and Magneto were on their way here. Just when he thought he was finally making some genuine progress with the Brotherhood, this has to happen. Now he didn't know if he could even face Magneto after letting his daughter get injured like this when he was supposed to be protecting her. And that's not taking into account the guilt he felt for being the one who drew the Nasty Boys to them in the first place. After all, it was HE who was their target...Not them.

As he sulked in a deep state of thought, Kurt and Kitty turned down the hallway and saw the young man standing over the phone. Immediately, they ducked behind a corner and looked back with shock at the sight of the stranger that they had seen in school hanging around the Brotherhood standing in the institute.

"It's him...It's Blake," said Kitty as she and Kurt spoke in voices low enough so that the distraught young man wouldn't hear.

"I know...But vhat is he doing here?" replied Kurt, knowing full well that this young man had been a total mystery to both them and the Professor since they learned about him over a week ago.

"I have no idea. Do you think he was part of that commotion earlier?" suggested Kitty, remembering some of the frantic rumors that had been circulating around the institute for the past few hours.

"I vouldn't doubt it," said Kurt, "I vonder vhat the Professor is doing letting him in like this? I mean...Ve still don't know anything about him. He's really not one to talk much in school."

"Yeah, like, there's got to be a reason for why he showed up though," said Kitty as she and Kurt continued to watch the young man stay stuck in his daze.

Just then, Rogue appeared walking down the hall and spotted Kurt and Kitty hiding behind a corner for some reason, peaking over in a sneaky fashion that Rogue merely scoffed as them being mischievous together like they so often were.

"What are the two of you up too this time?" said Rogue, startling Kurt and Kitty from behind, "What's so..."

"Shh!" said Kitty as she cut Rogue off, "Quiet! See for yourself..."

Upon seeing the seriousness on both Kurt and Kitty's face, Rogue quickly ascertained that this wasn't some usual mischief and when she looked around the corner and saw Blake still standing there, she quickly fell just as silent as them and felt a new wave of suspicion come over her.

"Him?! What's he doing here?" she said in a low, yet serious voice.

"That's vhat ve're trying to figure out," said Kurt, "Ve figure it has something to do vith all that commotion Bobby vas talking about earlier."

"I guess it was true for a change..." said Rogue, knowing Bobby wasn't always the most reliable source for rumors, although in the wake of Scott's death things had been getting more serious around the institute as a whole.

"Bobby said he came in here with the Brotherhood earlier," said Kitty, "They looked really anxious about something and pretty much disappeared into the lower levels before anybody could really learn what was going on."

"But if they're down there...Then why is this guy up here?" pondered Rogue as she turned to get another glimpse of the mysterious man that had appeared out of nowhere so quickly.

"Beats me..." said Kitty as she and Kurt turned to take another look as well, "But you have to admit...Something about him seems...I don't know, strange."

"Yeah...You're right," said Kurt in agreement as he looked closer with intent, "I just can't quite put my finger on it, but..."

Blake was still in a daze as Kurt, Kitty, and Rogue continued to look with intrigue over the young man. He was not having a very good day to say the least and he had a lot on his mind. However, he wasn't stupid. Then, as the three younger mutants were still watching him, he let out a deep sigh and spoke.

"You three can come out now...I know you're there," said Blake, not turning to face them, but knowing they were listening to him.

Kurt, Kitty, and Rogue were definitely overcome with shock upon hearing this, for they thought they had been stealthy about this. After all those hours practicing sneaking maneuvers and such, they would have thought they had the ability to avoid detection better...But Blake knew they were there now and they soon found themselves come out of hiding to face him.

"How did you know we were there?" said Kitty, surprised by the young man's senses.

"Wasn't too hard..." he replied in his deep voice, "In addition to seeing the conspicuous heads peaking from behind the corner, you guys don't exactly have the quietest whispering voices."

Such a reason wasn't too uplifting to the three younger mutants as they approached Blake, but he didn't seem to give off any kind of threatening presence despite his membership with the Brotherhood.

"Don't feel too bad though," he added, "My hearing is also shaper than you think."

Such words didn't lighten the mood much, but Blake wasn't all that concerned with it as he looked at the three X-men standing before him. He could probably guess that he wasn't exactly very welcome in this institute given his dealing with the Brotherhood and not taking into account that they didn't know about him working for Magneto. But he didn't want them to think too harshly of him because of his allegiance, for he knew who was standing before him.

Kurt Wagner and Rogue were both the children of Mystique and this was actually the first time he got a chance to see them up close like this. He remembered his promise to Mystique...The one where he vowed to protect her children as well as Magneto's. But his confidence wasn't exactly the best at this point after what happened to Wanda. Never the less, they were probably in just as much danger now and it would only be a matter of time when Sinister pulled another move.

"So then...Why are you here?" asked Kitty as Blake continued keeping a rather grim expression on his face.

Blake didn't know if he should let them in on the situation. It was bad enough at this point and they would probably sleep easier if they didn't know. But despite this, they would probably have to know if they were to be vigilant against the Nasty Boys and Sinister.

"I'm here with the Brotherhood because there was a fight," he explained, "It was between us and a group called the Nasty Boys. They were after me...But Wanda got caught in the crossfire and was seriously injured in the process."

"Oh man...Is she okay?" asked Kurt.

"I don't know yet...She was in pretty bad shape when we brought her here," said Blake, still not forgiving himself for what happened to her, "And it's my fault she had to get involved in this to begin with. I was supposed to be protecting her...But I failed."

Blake's explanations brought more questions than answers for the three curious mutants as tried to decipher the meaning behind this strange situation. Even though they truly didn't know the mystery behind this man, they didn't doubt the graveness in his tone.

"You were supposed to protect them?" said Rogue, feeling there was probably more to it than that, "Why? Just what is it that's got you workin' for the Brotherhood? Did they frame you or something?"

"No...They didn't frame me," answered Blake, "I volunteered to join, lead, and protect them."

"You volunteered?" said Kitty skeptically, who had a more negative view of the Brotherhood than most others ever since her unpleasant breakup with Lance, "Why on Earth would you do that?"

"As a favor to a friend..." answered Blake.

"I didn't think the Brotherhood had many friends," said Rogue, "They aren't exactly the most welcoming of groups."

"It was a favor for Mystique and Magneto," said Blake, causing the three other mutants to tense upon hearing that name, "There was a threat to his children...And they had saved my life from a fate worse than death...I owed them. So I joined the Brotherhood with the simple duty to protect them from a force that was out to get them in order to strike back against Magneto for saving me."

"Well I don't know how new you are to this whole thing," said Rogue, finding it hard to believe that someone thought so highly of the Brotherhood and Magneto, "But Magneto and the Brotherhood ain't exactly model citizens. If someone's out to get them, then they probably have a damn good reason and they probably deserve it."

Upon hearing that, Blake knew his promise to Mystique would be quite harder. She had told him that they didn't think to highly of her or the Brotherhood, but given the danger of the current situation, it was definitely a mixture for conflict that Blake didn't want to deal with at this point...Not when things with Sinister were getting so heated.

"If you know just what they were up against and just how much things have changed in the past year, then you may think differently..." said Blake cryptically, not up for getting into an argument with the people he was supposed to protect.

"Like, yeah right!" said Kitty, "Since when has Magneto or Mystique ever done anything that didn't involve destruction or murder?"

"Since Apocalypse..." answered Blake, "Whether you choose to believe me or not, it's the cold hard truth. There's a good reason why the two of them disappeared in wake of the Apocalypse incident...There's a reason why the Brotherhood house was fixed up and they were given another chance at school...And there's a reason why the Acolytes were reformed and why they haven't bothered you in the slightest ever since."

"After everything they put us through?!" exclaimed Kurt, still not believing it one bit, "Do you really expect us to believe that?"

Blake ran his hands through his short blonde dread locked hair and sighed. Mystique told him that they probably wouldn't like even the slightest mention of her, Magneto, or the Brotherhood, but if they were to at least trust him on the level of danger they were in, then that would be enough. However, just as Mystique said...They were quite stubborn.

"Look...I can't show you I'm right," said Blake as he began to get a little frustrated, "It's up to you whether or not to take me seriously. But know this...You all are in danger now that I'm here and there's no way around it. The enemy I'm talking about is many times worse than Magneto or Mystique could ever be...And it's because of them and the Acolytes that everything hasn't gone to hell. Now you don't like them because they were enemies...But don't assume for a second that things can't change."

"Hey, don't get mad at us punk boy!" said Rogue as she started to get a little confrontational, "Just because they saved your sorry ass doesn't make them saints!"

Kurt ended up holding Rogue back somewhat as she grew increasingly frustrated with this stranger who she didn't feel to comfortable having in her home. But much to her surprise, Blake didn't respond with anger...He responded with a slight laugh.

"You are definitely Raven's daughter...It really shows," he said, somewhat humored by the familiar look on her face.

"What?!" exclaimed Rogue, "Don't you EVER compare me to that woman! Or I swear I'll..."

"Don't take it as an insult Rogue..." said Blake, somewhat surprised at her reaction, "I'd be proud to have a mother like Raven...I'd be proud to have a mother, period. Don't think I don't know her past and what she's done and don't think I don't know what Magneto's done as well. But I've talked to them, I've lived with them, and I've gotten to know them. And I've come to see that they are genuinely good people...They've made some mistakes, but at least they know what they've done and feel remorse for it."

"Remorse and my mother?" said Kurt skeptically, "Vhy should ve believe any of this? Vhy shouldn't ve believe that this isn't just another trick?"

Kurt had a point and Blake had no way of disproving it. He only had his word to go on and that didn't mean a whole lot to these three young mutant teens who probably saw him as an enemy despite the times he helped them back at the school. But there was only so much he could do and he knew first hand that Raven wanted more than anything to do what was best for them. He could only try and help them see it...For it was all up to them in the end.

"I guess I don't have an answer to that...I only have my word," said Blake, "That may not amount to much with you, but you don't know me...So don't judge me. I know Mystique and Magneto...And I know they both do truly love their kids as any parent should. A lot of things just got in the way and Apocalypse helped them see that."

"Oh come on! You really can't expect us to believe they've changed just because of Apocalypse," scoffed Rogue.

"You can't expect for them not to either..." argued Blake, "Now they feel remorse, but nobody is listening to them. You all are just assuming based on the past and not the present."

"Well why shouldn't we?" shot Kitty, "Given their track record..."

Blake just paused for a moment, taking a brief instant the think about how he was going to respond to this. He knew he wasn't the best one for this job and he honestly would rather be fighting the Nasty Boys than be put in this rather uncomfortable position, but despite his inherent frustration, he kept his cool and simply sighed.

"Just...Before you assume the worst like I know you probably are right now...Do me one favor," said Blake, "Ask yourself...What if?"

"What if?" said Rogue, not seeing the logic behind such words.

"Yes...What if I'm right? What if Mystique is telling the truth and really does feel remorse for what she's done and wants to make up for it? What if she and Magneto truly did change as a result of Apocalypse? What if she really does want to be the mother to you that I both know you want deep down? And say she does and you both keep doing what you're doing now and scoff at the notion simply because of the mistakes she's made in the past. She tries to protect you and wants to make amends...But you don't do shit about it. And for all her remorse and all her regret...She gets nothing out of it but bitterness and sorrow. And because of that...She'll probably end up going back to her old ways. And this time it would be YOUR fault...Not hers."

Blake's words were a lot harsher than he would have wanted them to be, but he was determined to prove a point. He may have had amnesia, but he didn't lose his sense of humility when it came to seeing people for who they really are. And this time...He didn't hear either of them scoff or scowl him in response. Instead, they were all silent as they took in what he was saying.

"I can't tell you how to get over your past with her..." he said in a slightly calmer voice, "But what good is feeling so much remorse and sorrow for what you've done in the past if nobody believes you? Now I'm not going to let myself be caught in the middle of your family issues, so I'm not going to say anything more about this subject. I guess it's all up to you...But take it from someone who has absolutely nothing...Don't throw it away!"

And with that, Blake chose to make his leave and return to the infirmary to check on Wanda, leaving a bewildered Kurt, Rogue, and Kitty behind him. As much as they disliked Mystique, Blake had given them something to consider. It seemed like an impossible notion...Mystique and Magneto actually reforming themselves. But they lived in a house full of telepaths, manipulators of the elements, and room full of death traps that they used as a gym...What was impossible?

As Blake nearly disappeared from sight, Kurt chose to try and stop him, for he still had more questions.

"Blake, vait!" he said as he started going after him.

However, the mysterious young man wrought with amnesia simply turned to face the younger mutant and said only one last thing.

"Sorry...But I think I've said enough," said Blake, "If you have any other questions...I suggest you take them up with your mother when she arrives later."

Upon saying that, Blake left the area...Leaving only a more bewildered and anxious Kurt, Kitty, and Rogue behind them. They knew he was serious, for he did not fit the profile of someone who joked around with stuff like that and they whole heartedly believed him when he said that Mystique was coming to the institute.

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Down in the infirmary, the Brotherhood continued to wait outside the doors of the infirmary in deathly silence. Nobody had said a word in the nearly two hours they had been there. From what they knew, Storm and Hank were still in there treating Wanda...And for all they knew she could be dead already. But nobody wanted to think of such a horrible notion...Not now, not ever. Pietro was by far the worst and he had been this still before and it was truly an unusual and surprising sight for the Brotherhood. Normally, he was so energetic and all over the place...But now, he hadn't moved more than an inch ever since he had been forced to stay out of the intensive care area. And because of this, some of the others were starting to get worried.

"They've been in there too long..." said Lance, starting to get worried, "Something's not right here."

The ever confrontational young man then got up with every intention of storming the intensive care area and seeing for himself just what Xavier and his staff was doing for her. However, Freddy and Todd quickly stopped him, not wanting to see him go off one of his temper tantrums and make the situation worse than it already was.

"Dude, just chill Lance..." said Freddy as he stopped the younger man from lashing out like he knew Lance wanted to.

"Yeah...Don't make it worse," said Todd in a deep monotone voice that seemed so unlike his usual tone.

"I can't help it!" he said angrily, "This is all wrong...This can't be happening."

"Well it is Lance!" said Freddy in a more assertive voice, "I don't like it any more than you, but it's happening! And things are bad enough as it is without dealing with one of your stupid temper tantrums!"

That got Lance to calm down somewhat as he forced himself to take a deep breath. Usually, he'd never be this edgy...But one of his friends was in the infirmary for crying out loud. It didn't help that he wasn't exactly too trusting of the X-men, having been rejected from this place by both the teachers and students when he tried to join. But there was little else he could do and their choices had always been limited. After his breakup with Kitty, his views on the X-men as a whole didn't change much to say the least...For they only got worse. Having faith in their ability to treat Wanda wasn't nearly as easy for him as it may have been for the others, but as the Brotherhood's history so often showed...They had few options in the matter.

Pietro hadn't moved an inch despite Lance's outburst and had been in pretty much the same state since they all arrived. Personally, he could understand Lance's feelings, but he was in too much of a stupor to be angry or suspicious. If Xavier could treat and save Wanda, then that was good enough for him. Right now, the past between the Brotherhood and the X-men was irrelevant for the sake of his sister...Whom he desperately didn't want to loose again.

As Lance returned to his seat and the room fell silent once more for a while, the Brotherhood continued to wait and worry. Then finally...The doors to the intensive care area opened and Hank stepped out. Immediately, Pietro shot up from his position as everybody now looked with intent at the ape-like mutant.

"How is she?" said Pietro, hiding the strain and worry in his voice, "Is she going to be okay?"

The look on Hank's face didn't seem too promising or hopeless either way, but he and Storm had worked feverishly on the young woman they had brought in and the final verdict was still somewhat questionable.

"Well I must say, Ms Maximoff's injuries were quite strange," he said, looking exasperated from all his work to help her, "You say she was hit with some kind of ray gun?"

"Yeah...I was there! I know she was!" said Pietro defensively.

"I don't doubt that Pietro..." said Beast, not wanting to insinuate anything that would make him or the rest of the Brotherhood any more volatile, "It's just that her condition was very unusual. She was in a strange state in between a coma and deep unconsciousness. Whether or not she crossed the threshold is still something I'm uncertain of...But either way, you were very lucky to get her here so soon. I'd hate to think what would have happened if you hadn't."

"So she's okay?" said Todd, looking somewhat more hopeful upon hearing Beast's words.

"Well like I've said, I've never dealt with something like this before, so I can't say with an absolute certainty..." he said, not wanting to give them any false hope, "But I think that in my expert opinion...She'll be okay."

Even though he was an X-man and the rest of the Brotherhood were not very trusting of many people, they did take those words to heart and breathed a much welcome sigh of relief. So much uncertainty was replaced by hope as the stress of this day for them finally seemed like it was starting to unravel...At least they hoped.

"Thank you..." said Pietro with a sigh of relief.

"You're most certainly welcome my speedy friend," said Hank with a smile, glad that the Brotherhood wasn't showing any animosity for once and actually proved to have a genuine concern for their own like the X-men, "She's not awake yet and her body has received a very powerful shock to the system, but we've managed, after some difficulty, to stabilize her so that her body can heal."

"How long do you think it will be before she wakes up?" asked Todd as the rest of the Brotherhood was now standing, eager for details.

"Well given the unusual circumstances of her injuries, I honestly don't know," said Hank, "Whatever hit her was something unlike anything I'm familiar with. But if nothing too serious arises...Then I'd say in about 12 to 14 hours, she would be strong enough to awaken. But then again...I'm still not too certain."

"Good enough for me," said Pietro, glad that the chances for his sister were no longer so grim, "Can I see her?"

"Of course..." said Hank with a reassuring smile, but I must warn you not to be alarmed by the amount of machines she's hooked up to...For each one of them is helping us monitor her for the slightest change towards danger."

"I don't care...I have to see her," said Pietro.

"Me too yo..." said Todd.

"Well you all can see her...Just know that she's in the best of care now and we'll make sure nothing happens to her," assured Hank as he led the weary Brotherhood into the intensive care area and towards Wanda's bed where her pale, still body was lying in it's motionless state.

Pietro immediately suppressed a sob as he saw his sister hooked up to so many machines, but the gentle beeping noise helped remind him and the others that she was still alive. Never before had they come this close to losing one of their own in the heat of battle...Not since Apocalypse had they ever even encountered one. Yet they had been given a true scare like no other...Nearly having lost one of their members. Being a part of the Brotherhood was like being a part of a bunch of misfits who had been rejected by both humans and other mutants. And as stubborn and cynical they were, they still were a family in many ways and such moments of anxiety like this one only helped to reinforce that.

"I'm sorry Wanda..." said Pietro as he sat besides her bed and touched her cold, clammy hand, "I'm so sorry."

Even though it seemed very unlike Pietro to get so emotional, the rest of the Brotherhood couldn't help but smile in relief. For with Wanda still alive, there was hope now that they could get through this and become stronger in the process. Knowing it was a powerful moment for all of them, Hank and Storm chose to make their leave and let them be alone for a while.

"If you all need anything...Don't be afraid to ask," said Storm, "You can stay here if you want, but we also have spare beds just in case."

"Thanks...But we'll be fine for now," said Lance, still thinking it would be best if the Brotherhood not mingle with the rest of the X-men.

"Okay then...We'll leave you be then."

And with that, the left as the Brotherhood continued to absorb the moment and hold onto the new hope that they had just been given.

*************************************************

As the hours ticked by and word spread throughout the institute of the Brotherhood's arrival and the situation with Wanda, Magneto, and the Acolytes, Blake chose to sequester himself in the quiet upper levels of the institute since most of the students were clamoring in and around the teachers for detail. He had already been downstairs to check on Wanda and see if she was alright and thanks to treatment she was given by the X-men, he was told that her chances for a full recovery were good. Yet he still found it hard to forgive himself for letting this happen. The Brotherhood still didn't know half of what he knew and it was a great strain on his already weary mind.

Looking at Wanda in her present state had been nothing short of heart wrenching for Blake, for she had been the first one in the Brotherhood to accept him and she had been the nicest to him all throughout his stay a the boarding house. She may have been a little temperamental when it came to certain issues, namely her father, but he knew her to have a genuinely good heart...In some ways more so than the rest of the Brotherhood. For this reason, he found himself unable to bear the sigh of her in that hospital bed for very long before he sought some solitude.

Passing through the upper levels of the institute, he received his share of suspicious looks from the others and they really didn't help. However, he was mostly occupied with other matters at the moment and was too distracted to care.

"This is all my fault..." he said to himself as he dragged himself up through the halls of the institute in search of some peace and quiet to get away from all the horrible complications that had been plaguing him, "None of these kids deserve to be involved in this...What have I done?"

The thought of bring more people into harms way only made things worse for Blake because it tore at his personal sense of responsibility for dealing with Sinister. It was he who this madman was after...Not the Brotherhood, not the X-men, but him. And what if one of these innocent bystanders gets caught in the crossfire just like Wanda? How could he live with himself then?

Blake had a lot on his mind and it didn't help that he wasn't getting any rest. His nightmares had been getting worse ever since last night. If he so much as dozed off for even a minute, he would find himself reliving some of those ghastly images that tore at his mind so greatly...But he chalked such pain up to being one of the heavy side effects to having amnesia.

Blake then passed by what he thought was an empty room, but unknown to him...Jean Grey noticed him. Because of his dazed state, he hadn't seen her...But Jean had seen him and it triggered a very strange feeling within her. Since last night during her unexpected late night drive when she first saw him standing in the window of the Brotherhood boarding house, he had been dominating her mind. Like him, Jean had sought refuge from the others as word of the Brotherhood's presence spread. However, upon seeing him...Her curiosity got the better of her as she felt determined to understand what it was that she had felt last night that had been so strange.

"Hey wait up..." she said as she ran out of her room just in time to catch the mysterious young man before he turned another corner.

Upon hearing her voice, Blake froze and hesitated to turn around and face her. For some reason...That voice triggered something in his mind...Namely his dreams. Now they came to him whether he was sleeping or not and it only served to heighten his confusion about being in this dazed and confused state that seemed like a mixture of the dream world and the real world.

"Hey...Did you hear me? Are you okay?" as Jean slowly approached the imposing young man.

Blake turned to face her. His blue eyes then came into contact with her green eyes and he quickly recognized her.

"Hey...You're that girl from last night," he said in his deep tone.

"Yeah...That was me," admitted Jean as she moved in closer to him and got a better look at his features.

She had to admit, he had a rather intimidating presence. His blonde, dread lock hair and elaborate tattoos that showed on his arm hinted at strength and resilience, even though Jean could sense nothing with her telepathy from his advanced, fiercely guarded mind. And judging by the look on his face, he was far from chipper in his present state. His expression was that of a true enigma...For it said one thing on the surface, yet hinted that there was so much more. Jean had been no stranger to such a look ever since Scott had died and seeing it on someone else only hinted to her that there was far more to this man than he was letting on.

"Who are you?" he asked, curious as to who this girl was and why he had felt such a powerful onslaught of nightmares upon first seeing her.

"I'm Jean Grey..." she said as they both now stood close in one another's presence, "And I've heard about you from the others...You're Blake Hellstrom."

"Or Blaze if you want..." said Blake, all the more curious as to what this Jean Grey wanted with him and why she seemed so shy near him, "So why were you outside the boarding house at two in the morning?"

"Well...Why were you still up?" said Jean, not answering his question directly.

"Couldn't sleep..." he said simply, "But you didn't answer my question...Why were you at the Brotherhood last night?"

"Couldn't sleep either..." she said, however that wasn't any bit as a convincing answer to Blake as his had been to her.

"Yeah right...Do you always go for drives like that when you can't sleep? It seems a little extreme...Unless there was another reason," said Blake, using the same evaluation skills he had on her as he had the Brotherhood when he first arrived. He knew when there was more to a situation and Jean hadn't done a very good job of hiding it for the most part, but she seemed to be aware of it.

"There is...But forgive me for not wanting to tell somebody I just met," she said, not wanting to recall the feelings of turmoil that had plagued her the previous night.

"I can understand that..." said Blake as he saw the somewhat disheartened look on her face, hinting that it was truly a sore subject that she hated to even think about, "I can relate...But still, why were you there? What was it about the boarding house that made you stop in the middle of the road just to look up at my window?"

"That..." began Jean, but she soon found herself overwhelmed yet again with the strange feeling she had felt last night and had to take a moment to filter out those strange thoughts and images that had been causing her so much strain since it happened, "It's complicated...For now let's just say I was curious."

"Curious?" said Blake, not at all sounding convinced, "Come on...That's a weak excuse and you know it."

Jean didn't like being pushed about this topic because it was still a very emotional issue that she was still dealing with as she grew somewhat more frustrated with having to deal with this topic.

"Of course I know it is..." she said, forcing herself to keep her voice from sounding too angry, for losing her temper at a time like this wouldn't make things any better, "I'm not stupid..."

"I never implied that you were..." said Blake, who could see that this was just as confusing an issue for her as it was to him...But in seeing that he couldn't help but wonder why, "I just wanted to know why of all the houses and all the places in Bayville you chose to drive by on a dark Friday night, you chose to park your car right in front of the house I was staying and looked only at the window I was at."

"Well like I said...It's complicated," said Jean, wanting to stay as calm as she could so that she could at least put this issue to rest, for she had enough trouble dealing with Scott's death at the moment, "And...I honestly don't know why I ended up at your home looking into your window but it's just that..."

Jean struggled to search for the right words to describe the strange sensations that drew her towards his window and his gaze...But she just couldn't put any of what she felt into coherent words and she soon found herself stammering before this mysterious young man that had triggered something so strange in the first place.

"I'm sorry...I can't really give you a decent explanation...Because I really don't know," she said, feeling somewhat at a loss, "I guess all I can really say is...Have you ever felt something you didn't understand, yet you could feel it so clearly and so vividly that it just...Overwhelms you in a way that you can't put into words?"

Blake looked back at her with a mix of confusion and awe, for it sounded so much like what he had been struggling with as well. But judging from the look in her eyes, he could see no reason not to believe her.

Suddenly, Blake found himself slowly raising his hand and running down the side of her soft face, taking in the warm sensation of her skin. Immediately, he felt a sudden weakness in his legs and a strange relapse of his nightmares, but he didn't break contact with her. Normally, Jean would have been a little uncomfortable with having a stranger do something like this...But for some reason, it felt right with him.

"Just...Who are you?" she suddenly asked as she looked back into the blue eyes of the confused young man.

"I told you already...My name is Blake Hellstrom," he said.

"I know, but...That doesn't tell me who you are," she said, only causing more confusion within Blake.

"I...I don't know," he stammered, "I...I have amnesia. My memory only goes back about a month."

"A month?" said Jean curiously, finding that span of time to be somewhat strange for it had been exactly a month since Scott had died.

"Yes...One month. Before that...I can't remember anything," he said, "Why?"

Jean felt her heart rate go up as she then took the hand he had kept on her face and lowered it. A strange feeling that had been present in the back of her mind ever since Scott's death was now getting stronger. At first, such a feeling was only the source of nightmares and sorrow...But now it was giving her a new feeling...One she could not explain. And one thing just kept pestering her now that she was desperate to decipher before she went completely crazy...Who was this man?

"Just...Let me try and help you," she said as she raised her hands to the temples of his head, "I know I can...Just let me."

At first, Blake kept all his mental shields up...But as he felt her warm presence start to probe into his head, he let them all down. The warm feeling of her mind in his was...Strange to say the least, for it almost felt as though it was familiar. But he didn't have a whole lot of time to think about this as Jean began to dive deeper into his mind, feeling certain gateways open before her...Almost as if Blake wanted someone to do this for the sake of the clarity he so sorely craved.

His mind was very advanced and complex...More so than any other mind Jean had sensed before. But it was still a mind and she kept going into it...Searching and searching for something she did not yet fully understand.

Soon, she was drawn to the part of his mind that contained his memories and as she suspected, there were huge chunks missing. At first, she saw the most recent memories from the Brotherhood and meeting Magneto and Mystique...But after she got to a certain point, she was suddenly stopped as if there was a brick wall in front of her. This was the point where Blake's memories ended and the nightmares began. Beyond this point was nothing but a formless void of darkness...As if nothing was ever there to begin with. Jean soon found herself pounding on the hard, solid barrier with her fists...Knowing everything around her was pure metaphor because of the nature of the mind. There was something beyond this point...She knew it. Even though there seemed to be nothing but ubiquitous darkness, something inside her said there was far more to this than it seemed.

Jean focused her mind even more, causing Blake to physically grit his teeth in pain as the feeling of someone pounding away in his mind began to grow stronger. The soreness he felt had grown into an all out searing pain as Jean kept trying to break down the barrier. He was about to shove her out...When suddenly, it broke and Jean found herself get sucked into the powerful void. She found it hard to keep her focus as she began to grow weary of being in a place like this...Full of inky blackness. She could see absolutely nothing and it was as if she was swimming in a pool of total darkness. Part of her wanted to leave before she went completely crazy...When suddenly, she saw something up ahead of her.

Blake couldn't take much more of this and Jean could feel it, but that only caused her to work harder to get this strange phenomenon that she had never experienced before in any mind. It was small...Only a mere point of light that looked like a bright star. It was colored a warm, ruby red and only grew brighter as Jean neared it. As she got closer...Suddenly she felt the warm feeling in her mind grow as well, as if this thing was some how reacting to it. It kept getting brighter as she kept getting closer. It was as if she was physically nearing a star or some sort of brilliant celestial object. It was so warm, comforting, and beautiful...And Jean couldn't help but be strangely drawn to it.

Slowly, Jean reached out before her and moved to touch the glowing light that kept getting brighter with each inch she drew nearer. Then...She finally made contact with the mysterious light...And suddenly, blinding flashes began to erupt all around her in every direction from within the thick blackness of the void. Jean then felt a sudden surge of memories go through her mind and was bombarded with a wave of pictures that flashed before her and seemed to emulate from the bright light that had been so powerfully activated by Jean's presence. All the flashes and the fury of activity kept getting more intense and the images that surged through Jean's mind were too great for her to handle.

Then...With a loud yell of pain, Blake forced her out and Jean fell back in shock, nearly loosing her balance in the process. The young man was now clutching his head in agony, as if she had somehow set off a bomb within his mind. He was stumbling for balance now and he was breathing in deep gasps in order to catch his breath. Jean quickly regained her composure and rushed over to him.

"Blake! Blake are you okay?" she said, weary about what she had just done.

However, as she got close to him, he fell back and Jean froze in her place. She didn't want to make things worse even though she had no idea what had just happened. She may have been young for a psychic, but she knew a strange anomaly when she saw one and this was definitely the case. Blake rose slowly and turned back towards her with a look of bewilderment in his deep blue eyes. He didn't say a word...For the sudden onset of the countless sensations in his head kept him from speaking. But as he managed to collect himself...The flashes that Jean set off in his mind started to form some sort of coherence. The strange sensation that each of them felt in their minds grew as the look on Blake's face became a true enigma...As if there were thoughts going through his head that no other human had ever thought before.

"Jean..." he said in a tone that made the young woman's heart skip a beat.

She was about to respond when suddenly...The institute alarm went off and a loud noise began to echo through the halls, causing Blake to suddenly break his train of thought, triggering his old protective instincts that he had promised to use to his full capacity for his friends. And even as the flashes in his mind kept firing off like fire crackers, he managed to determine what it was that was causing this disturbance.

"They're here..." he said in a breathless voice, "The Nasty Boys are here."

While part of him wanted to stay here with this strange girl and find out what it was she had just done to his mind, something inside was telling him that he would find the answers soon enough...For Sinister was connected. In the strange flashes...The eyes of Sinister were a dominant image and if there was any way to find some sort of clarity on his own with his ever tortured mind...It was with the madman who did this to him.

But even as he ran off, Jean Grey was still in a daze as the images she saw and felt while in his mind began to take shape...But she didn't believe what she saw. It was impossible...These thoughts...These images...Were Scott's. At first, it took a moment for her make the connection, but it soon became clear to her as she refocused her mind and filtered out the sound of the alarm. The warm feeling in the back of her head...It felt almost like...Although it couldn't possibly be...The link. Suddenly, it began to make sense...But it wasn't possible...Was it?

"No...It can't be..." she said, feeling as though it was insane to consider something like this, "Scott is dead...It's impossible...It couldn't be...Could it?"

*************************************************

AN: Okay, I think this is a good place to stop. Now things are getting quite interesting wouldn't you say? Right when Blake/Scott was about to piece together parts of the puzzle, the alarms go off...Some luck huh? Well trust me, it's going to get even more crazy now that the Nasty Boys are at the institute! The next chapter is going to be intense! There's plenty of action to come so I don't think you'll want to miss it! So what do you think of this fic thus far? Has it been a good read? Please tell me! Send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I love getting reviews and they help inspire me to do the best work I possibly can! Thanks a bunch for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!

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