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The Uncertain Trumpet

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There is ragged wallpaper beneath his fingers. Scott slides his hand across it till his fingers bump an outcrop of smooth painted wood. Right. Windowsill. He gropes for the catch on the window, silently making yet another mental note to ask Kurt to give him a proper sitrep when he drops Scott off in random places. Kurt's pretty good about it in relation to the battle - right now, for instance, he knows Hank is fighting Toad and the Blob across a pile of rubble from him, Bobby and Rogue teaming up on Pyro on the west side of the street and Jean squaring off against Phantazia between them.

But no, Scott grumbles to himself as the window finally slides open, "Fourth floor, double-hung windows" is apparently too much to ask.

He orients himself towards the battle and sends a query Jean's way. The inhuman screeching from somewhere above indicates that Sauron has just arrived in his Pteranodon form (which Scott expected to happen at some point, or he'd be on the roof).

About time, Medusa, Jean sends with a mental smirk. What happened, Nightcrawler took you out for coffee?

He concentrates on picturing his right hand (a hand that feels twenty-three but looks sixteen, in his head, and will always look sixteen) and raises its middle finger.

She giggles (in his head, which is always slightly alarming). Wanna burn holes in this bitch's ass?

Just point and shoot, O Fearless Leader.

Muscles he didn't even know were tense relax in his neck as the familiar tendrils of Jean's power sink into him, feeling his location. Jean, who stood by him when Logan wanted him off the team. Who was the first one to convince him to open his eyes. Who is still the only one he really trusts to make sure anything he incinerates is evil or inanimate. God, he wishes he knew what she looks like.

Gotcha, she says, turning his head down and a few degrees to the right. I'm holding her off for now, we need to rescue Beast. Fire in three!

Scott smiles as he starts counting off - her command voice has improved drastically. She was never comfortable leading the X-Men in the field at such a young age, and he hadn't helped at the start, constantly second-guessing her strategy - it was so frustrating, having the instinct and the confidence of a born leader but being unable to fulfill his potential. He couldn't make split-second decisions when he relied so heavily on an oral report or, at best, a telepathic infodump from Jean or the Professor. And on top of that, guilt and fear, constant fear of killing someone just by looking at them. He'd taken it out on her. He'd taken it out on everyone. He wasn't proud of it.

Still, they worked through it. He eventually settled into "strategic advisor and artillery" with some form of dignity intact. There is still that rising terror when his eyelids quiver, but he tells himself, Jean's got me. And Jean's got him.


Scott opens his eyes.