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Summary: Jean attempts to remember the mystery gunman

Location: Xavier Mansion

Participants: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Charles Xavier

Rating: FMT for Freaky Mind Things


The twin protests are on the verge of spilling over into a no-hold-barred street fight. The two sides are beginning to converge, with each side trying to scream louder and louder than the other side. The X-Men are on the scene, at least some of them, dressed in their civies and trying to keep an all out riot from occuring. Everything is exactly as it was the day before, except that the scene has been slowed down, with no sound audible, everything floating around as if in a movie or a dream. Everything, that is, except Jean Grey.


"Try to concentrate, Jean," the voice of Xavier says, seemingly pouring out from every angle and direction, as if from some unseen loudspeaker from the very voice of God. "Try to concentrate on just the subject."


Jean Grey's physical body is seated across from Charles Xavier's. Her eyes closed, she is breathing slowly, deeply, while her consciousness is turned inward.


Inside the memory, Jean Grey is standing on the street, looking around. She should be moving through the crowd, desperately searching for... something. Someone? But she's not. "It was... a boy." Clenching her fists at her sides, she tries to concentrate on the boy. But what did he look like? Was he tall? Short? Skinny? "Not a boy -- a young man."


"Good start," the voice of God compliments. "Where was he? How did he seem? Did he say anything to you?" Focusing on the questions seems to eliminate other portions of the world, the buildings and features slowly fading, growing darker by the second. People start to fade away too, one by one. On the far side of one of the crowds, a single figure remains. Jeans, green zip-up sweater with athletic stripes down either arm. His face is turned away, but some of his features are clear even at this distance: slim, slightly shorter than average height, strangely dressed for the dog days of summer in New York.


"Yes, we spoke. I think he shouted at me." As all of the extraneous people and scenery begin to fade, Jean walks forward. Though she follows yesterday's path, she moves slowly and without the desperation from the previous day.


"Hey there," she says to the boy, as she approaches. Her hands have unclenched, and she holds her palms open at her sides.


The young man doesn't move towards the voice talking to him, remains stalk still, facing away. "Don't...just don't try to stop me," a few away whispered voice says, raspy and low. "Someone needs to do this."


"Is this the subject Jean?" Xavier asks, an edge of concern in his voice as it comes from all around. The rest of the world dims, leaving Jean and the subject alone in a blank, black room.


"Yes," Jean replies in a whisper. "I'm not trying to stop you," Jean says to the boy, following through the motions of the memory. "Now, he's going to yell at me. He's going to... to shout..."


In the memory, Jean presses the heels of her hands against her forehead. They have almost come to the point where the brain-tampering occurs, and trying to remember is getting more difficult, and her head is beginning to throb. Her physical body winces, though her hands remain motionless in her lap.


The whispered voice begins to get louder, warp, sounding like a cassette tape unraveling. "They nEEd to DIE," it warbles, as the body begins to turn. Brief flashes cross across his features, none of them fully solid, none of them fully correct. This isn't what he looked like before, none of it. "DoN'T You GET it...if tHEy dOOOn'T DiE, tHaT chanGES EVERYTHING!" The body finally turns fully and after a bright flash, and its gone, leaving Jean alone in the dark.


The whole psychic world disappears, as Xavier breaks contact. He opens his eyes slowly and steeples his fingers over his lips. "I must admit, Jean, this is highly unusual. Even for me," he says slowly. "It would be one thing if there was an actual mental block, but as far as I can tell, it looks like part of your actual memory hasn't been blocked, but...forcefully removed." The implications clearly until the Professor, before he turns his attention towards his protégé and friend. "How do you feel? Physically ill? Headaches?" he asks curiously, but also clearly concerned.


As soon as the psychic contact is broken, Jean pops back into consciousness, her eyes open wide. "For you? Try being me. I'm not going to sleep for a week." And with her on-going battle with nightmare-fueled insomnia, that's not hyperbole.


Drawing her legs up into the chair, she wraps her arms around her shins and rests her forehead on her knees. "All of the above, yes." Her grip on her legs leaves her knuckles white, probably to keep her hands from shaking. "I'll be fine in a minute."


Xavier nods his head slightly as he watches Jean. Silently, he pushes out to help the calming process with his own mind; for most people, it would be an unremarkable sense of sudden calm; for Jean, it probably feels something more akin to a comforting pat on the back or a psychic hug. "If it is any consolation," he says slowly, "you're not crazy. Kitty has a similar memory, including the giant block on the identity of our gunman. And she also has a rather sizeable chunk of her memory missing. So unless we're dealing with a clever and powerful illusionist, I suspect that the subject was real. At least, at least at one point he was. I would attempt to track him down using Cerebro, but with no physical description to even go on, or a psychic signature..." He trails off, before offending.


Jean lifts her head from her knees and offers the Professor a small, grateful smile for his comforting gesture. "Well. It's a comfort to know that I'm not going insane. Again." Reaching up, she combs her fingers through her hair, pulling it back and away from her face. "Or at least that, if I am, I'm taking Kitty down with me. So, at least I'll have company."


Sitting up straight, Jean puts her feet back on the floor, then smoothes out the legs of her pants. Folding her hands primly in her lap, she then fixes Xavier is a calm, level gaze. Orderly appearance, orderly mind. "I really more concerned about his mission than the man," she remarks, voice calm. She gives herself a little mental pat on the back for pulling herself together. "Who are 'they'? What is he trying to change? That is more troubling than a few... a few missing memories."


"My concern for them both are intertwined," Xavier says cooly, creating a crook with his forefinger and thumb for his chin to rest in neatly. "The obvious targets here are either the mutants or the Friends. As he clearly has some sort of abnormal ability, my suspicion is that he is interested in killing the members of the Friends. His motives remain a mystery, though he might just be a concerned metahuman. I can sympathize with his concerns, but of course his solution is unacceptable. We might want to keep an ear to the ground in regards to future Friends demonstrations." A short pause. "And I shudder to think what our gunman has planned for the upcoming convention, especially if he has any co-conspirators.


Xavier's frown is deep across his lips before glancing towards Jean with a small, sheepish grin. "I'm...probably not helping your anxiety. I will talk with my associates on if they've heard of any similar abilities. For now, you are to get plenty of rest. Don't worry about this, and absolutely don't push yourself to try to find something that isn't there. The memory is gone, Jean. Now amount of strain can will it back into existence."


"Yes, sir," Jean replies, obediently. And every mental shield she has got has been put up into place. She just wants some mental peace and quiet, right? She wouldn't be trying to hide any sneaky ideas, no. Not from the Professor! Pushing to her feet, Jean leans down to place a daughterly kiss on the top of Xavier's bald noggin, then takes her leave.


Xavier doesn't think twice about Jean shielding herself up, merely giving her the space and time to get away to have some time to herself, to rest and recover. I mean, she'd always listen to his wise suggestions...


Right?



Scott's office is extremely well organized. To an almost diturbing degree, actually, with even the small bits of clutter that he does have being arranged in neat, straight piles. Currently Scott is going through and proof-reading some quizes for the upcoming school semester, while also looking over the student file of one TJ Wagner. Multi-tasking is something that the Summers have gotten down to an art, and Scott is the Picasso.


After leaving the Professor, Jean makes a beeline for Scott. That's not unusual, right? If she's feeling rattled, it's natural for her to seek out his comforting presence.


"Knock, knock," she raps lightly on the door, before sticking her head into his office. "Are you busy, honey?"


Scott looks up from his quiz to offer Jean a wide grin. "For you? Never. Come on in." He sets the paper down (though not so quickly as to actually have it set down at a diagonal, perish the very idea) before standing and making his way across his office. Arms wrapping around Jean, he squeezes her close and offers a few short kisses to her lips before speaking again. "Feeling any better? I know yesterday got you real shaken up..." he says, sounding equal parts concerned and happy she's there.

Jean slips her arms around Scott and snuggles against his chest, hugging him tightly. "Physically, I feel kind of awful, but emotionally, I couldn't be better just now." Tilting her head back, she smiles up at him. "I just finished with the Professor." The smile fades a few watts as she shares her morning. "He says that the memory of what happened at the protest wasn't just blocked, but... removed."


Scott's own smile flattens a bit at the mention of Jean not feeling physically well, bringing a hand up to her forehead to check for a fever. "Think that punk gave you something?" he asks, a slight protective growl in his voice before he starts to back up, pulling Jean gently by the belt loops of her pants with him. He sits on the edge of his desk, looking up at her with pursed lips. "And I'm assuming that's...odd?" he says. Clearly the specifics of how psychic attacks work are lost on him, despite how many times Jean may have tried to explain it.


"No, he didn't give me anything. He took something." As Scott settles himself on the edge of the desk, Jean leans against his legs. She slides her arms around his shoulders and lightly strokes her fingers through his hair and down the back of his neck. "It isn't just odd. It's... a violation of my mind. And Kitty's. He forcibly took our memories from us, and even the Professor can't get them back."


Scott's own hands rest on Jean's hips, primarily the back half of them as he listens and nods his head, frowning deeply. "That's...not good," he says, clearly still processing exactly what that means. "So that is why you can't remember what he looked like, he basically plucked that memory out, leaving you with a blank spot where he should be." He's sounding protective again, as if he doesn't mind someone futzing around with his girl's mind.


Jean nods her head. "Yes. It isn't just 'not good'. It's morally reprehensible." Her fingers continue to stroke the back of Scott's neck, the contact as much for her own benefit as for his. "The Professor says that it is completely and utterly gone, and I shouldn't strain myself trying to search for it. But..." she bites her lower lip as she gazes at Scott, hesitating a moment before she continues. She knows he's not going to be thrilled with this next bit, "But... you might have seen him, and not even registered it. Your brain could have just filed it away under 'extraneous information'. And he wouldn't have thought to remove it. If you'll let me, I can look."


Scott screws his mouth slightly at that, adjusting his weight slightly as he considers that. "So what, you want to peek in my memory, see if I caught a glance of him when I was scanning the crowds?" He doesn't sound so much hesitant as he is just trying to sound it out so that he can better understand it.


After a short consideration, Scott finally nods his head, squeezing Jean's hips supportively. "Okay. If you think this will help us find this creep, then take a look, see what you can find." He leans forward, lightly presing his forehead against her own and slowly closing his eyes. And slowly starts to "open" his mind, giving Jean full access to any and every corner she might wanna snoop around in.


"I'll be gentle, and I'll only look." Jean knows full well that Scott doesn't care to have anyone -- even her -- poking around in his mind. Most people don't. And so, as she slides her hands up to cup his face between her palms, she tilts her head to give him a quick, loving kiss before she goes poking around in his brain.


One of the very, very first things that the Professor taught her -- deeply instilled in her -- was a code of ethics. It is a code of honor that Jean has stuck to. Scott's mind is easier than any other for her to enter; they share a special, psychic bond, after all. «We're looking for a young man in a big sweater. He should stand out.» Drawing on Scott's memory of yesterday's events, she puts herself in his place. «It was green...» But of course, all of Scott's memories aren't exactly in proper color, are they?


«Light green or dark?» Scott asks, a bit sarcastically. «Tones are easier to spot than specific hues. But any sweater should stand out.» Within his memory, Scott looks around, paying more attention at first to the meta-side of the twin protests. He scans the crowd, looking over the area. Within the memory, what their saying is drowned out, as if watching from underwater. All of the faces are angry, twisted, shouting out in hatred and fear. All faces except one. Leaning against the far wall is a young man. Black, shaved head and a green zip-up hoodie sweater. He seems to be watching the scene with a nervous energy, looking around slowly as if searching for something of interest, fingering something in a pocket of his sweater. A slight, faded tattoo is seen over his right eye: the letter "M". «That the kid we're looking for?» Slowly but surely, everything snaps back together, the lost puzzle piece found. Yes, yes, yes screams Jean's brain as her actual, full memories come back to her. The moment of him disappearing is especially clear, how he seemed to implode, getting sucked into himself. He didn't teleport away; he simply ceased to exist, as if he was never there at all. And thus, why memory of him was exercised from Jean's mind: he was never there to begin with. Only, here he is trapped, in Scott's periphery memory.


«Yes! Oh, Scott!» As the young man is found in Scott's memory, and Jean's memory is returned to her, she pulls a neat, telepathic trick: she overlays her memory on top of his, shifting his from red into full, brilliant technicolor. «That's him!»


"Oh my gosh," she says out loud, her voice hushed. "How did he...? What happened? How did he do that?" She hasn't broken the psychic, memory-sharing link just yet. She replays it once, then again, slowing it down to study the young man's appearance.


The sensation of seeing actual colors is a bit disorienting for Scott. Not that he never had, but it has been a decade-plus since he saw them regularly, when things were constantly shades of red. He focuses on the kid. «M...for mutant? Maybe a gang thing?» he asks telepathically, speaking aloud and being this deep in a memory is maybe a bit too much mutli-tasking for him. He focuses as much as he can on the kid, his movements. He's watching the crowd, looking towards the other side. As Jean's memories start to play back, the part where he disappears becomes foggier and foggier, as if looking at it does harm to the actual memory playback. "If they don't die, that changes EVERYTHING!" he shouts in the memory, only then his face contorting into anger. «I think you interrupted him from doing something...he lost his chance...» Scott hypothesizes telepathically.


«Maybe. I don't know. I don't recognize him at all.» Jean frowns as the memory begins to get foggier. «Dammit, no!» Sighing, she withdraws from Scott's mind, easing slowly. She doesn't move physically, however, and remains standing with her forehead resting against his.


"What could he possibly be talking about? The Professor thinks 'they' are the FoH. But what could he possibly mean, 'change everything'?"


It takes a few moments for Scott to realize his mind has been evacuated, slowly opening his eyes (not that anyone would notice, thanks reflective lenses) and squeezing Jean again. "Don't know...though, if he wants to, maybe we could just not exactly stop him." He adds quickly, "That was a joke, by the way." He's no psychic, but he knows when a lecture is coming from either the Professor or Dr. Grey. "Maybe now that we have a better idea what he looks like, we can get the Professor to find him."


Jean tries to give Scott a very disapproving look, but with her face just an inch from his, it probably doesn't work very well. "Joke or not, there's no telling whether or not changing everything would be changing it for the better," she points out in a tone that she very likely learned from the Professor. "Maybe so, if he can be found. If he didn't just cease to exist, instead of pulling a smell-free teleportation. And if he did, I wonder if we can get him to teach it to Kurt."

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