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Fitting

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Jean focused, lifting the heavy stone block into the air with her mind and carefully fitting it into position. It was good, she thought, to be doing something that demanded her full concentration; it stopped her from thinking too much about what had happened.

She rested for just a moment, then began on the next.

She had lost count of the times over the last few years that she had helped rebuild the mansion after one crisis or another. But this was different: this time the attack had come from Magneto himself. Magneto, who had helped her the first time she had done this. Magneto, who Professor X still believed could be persuaded to seek a peaceful solution to the issue of mutant-human relations, now saw the X-Men as not only misguided but an active threat to his plans.

Magneto, who had stood unmoved as Peter had, in desperation, told him the truth that he had long kept hidden about their relationship, trying to turn him away from his attack. Who had said -- and genuinely seemed to believe -- that it was a cheap ploy to distract him.

The block in the air wobbled and Jean only just regained control of it before it fell on a group of watching students. So much for using her full concentration stopping her from thinking too much. She put her hands to her forehead, forcing herself to focus once more. Once the block was in position, she staggered backwards a few steps.

It was only then that she realised that Peter was there, smiling at her. "You look like you need--"

"--a break."

And between one word and the next, he had scooped her up and deposited her half a mile away on the far shore of the lake.

"Peter!" she said, but he had disappeared again.

This sort of impulsive behaviour was exactly the sort of thing she -- and Scott -- loved about Peter, but it did worry Jean in the context of what had just happened yesterday with his father.

Peter was back again a moment later, this time carrying a bewildered Scott.

"Oh," Scott said when he realised what had happened.

"I know what else we need," Peter said, and sped off again.

"What's going on?" Scott said.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Jean said.

"There's only one mindreader here," Scott said mildly.

Before they could discuss it further, Peter reappeared, carrying a picnic hamper loaded with goodies from the kitchens.

"There!" he said, laying out the blanket and sitting down on it. He made little patting motions either side of him, indicating that they should sit.

Scott might not have been a mindreader but he had clearly been thinking along the same lines as Jean. As they sat down, he said, "Peter, you know it's OK if--"

"I walked it off," Peter said. "Well, ran it off," he said after a moment.

"Where did you go?" Scott said.

"Oh, you know, around," Peter said. "Houston, San Francisco, that sort of thing."

They had talked about this before -- how Peter's mind kept pace with his body. It wasn't impossible that a sustained run might have given him a great deal of thinking time to process his feelings.

"And that's why I'm really hungry now," he went on. "I mean, I could eat all this by myself and then go back for more, but I'd rather share it with my two favourite people."

Jean exchanged a look with Scott, and they both kissed him, one on each cheek. Jean put her hands lightly on the back of each of their heads, connecting their minds to each other as well as to hers. Only on a surface level, and only briefly, but enough for them to communicate to Peter what he wouldn't want them to say out loud: that he does have a family, that he does belong. With them.

As she withdrew, Peter smiled, a small smile but a genuine one. After a moment, he said, with exaggerated enthusiasm, "Come on, you must eat!"

Scott dutifully began to rummage in the basket.

"Now, let's talk about something important," Peter said, as he munched on a sandwich. "Like how after four years on the squad, one of the famous X-Men still doesn't have a codename."

"Oh, stop it," Jean said, taking the hint nonetheless. This was a regular topic for idle discussion, and not only amongst the three of them. Many long journeys in the X-Jet -- at least those on the return leg, the crisis of the day solved, the end of mutantkind and/or the world at least postponed -- had been "enlivened" by this debate.

"You can't be 'Miss Grey' forever," Scott said.

Jean raised an eyebrow. "Are you making me an offer, Mister Summers?"

Peter laughed at Scott's slack-jawed reaction. "He'd better be careful, you've rejected every other name he's suggested."

"But that's true of everyone else as well," Jean said, mildly.

Scott recovered himself. "I do still like 'Marvel Girl'."

Jean harrumphed.

"It's true, though," Scott said. "You do need -- something fitting. You are amazing."

"Wow, you're right. 'Amazing Girl' is even worse than 'Marvel Girl'," Jean said.

"He's right, though," Peter said. "Look at what you've just been doing." He gestured across at the half-rebuilt mansion. "What you always do. Help us come back." In that moment, Jean knew that there must have been a point on his run across the country where he'd considered not returning. She was glad he'd realised he had something to come back to. "Look at the school, rising like a phoenix from the ashes ..."

"Well, how about that for a codename?" Scott said after a moment.

"What, 'ashes'? What sort of a codename is that?" Peter said, at the exact same time that Jean said, "Phoenix?"

"Why not?" Scott said. "There are times when I look at you, and it's as though you're wreathed in flames."

"She doesn't like it when people make cracks about her hair," Peter said.

"That's not what I--"

"No, I suppose not. After all, everything looks red to you," Peter said, tapping the side of Scott's glasses.

"Now who's making a crack--"

"No," Jean said, quietly. Peter and Scott stopped immediately, turning to look at her. A feeling -- at once utterly new and achingly familiar -- had been building in her since they'd first said it. "No," she said again. "I like that one. It feels like it ... like you said, Scott. It's fitting. It fits." She leaned back on the blanket in between them. "Just like we do."