31. The Photograph
Everything is happening so quickly. We are entering the institute. The professor is shocked - he didn't even realize they were gone; he had been working on finding new mutants using Cerebro all night. Now, we are carrying an unconscious Warren through to the medical room. The blood won't stop. Jean and I are crying. I'm scared. Scott escorts me from the room and I sob into his chest.
"This is all my fault!" I moan through the tears.
"No! Don't be stupid!" Scott reassures me. "Nothing is your fault!"
"Someone could die because of me!" I cry harder.
"He'll be fine. I promise." He kisses my hair. "Go to my room. Wait for me there. I need to help the professor."
"No. Go. Now. You're in no state to help here." My head falls at his comment. He didn't mean it in a negative way, but I feel the full force of the words.
I walk slowly through the winding corridors and into Scott's room. I collapse onto the bed and let the tears flow freely. Warren hurt himself like that to free me! Maybe it would be better if I wasn't part of the X-Men. Less than a day in and I've already potentially killed someone and almost turned our leader into a murderer. There is no need for me here. I will just mess this up more!
Something catches my eye through the wall of tears. There is a small piece of paper on Scott's nightstand. I pick it up gently, holding it away from my face, so as to not dampen it with my tears. It's a photograph, a photograph of a family - Scott's family. The parents and younger brother he had told me had died in an accident. This can't have been taken long before that, as Scott looks around the age of ten (the age he was when the incident happened). I smile at the grumpy looking blonde boy next to Scott. That was obviously Alex - the little brother Scott so regularly avoided talking about. I rub my thumb gently over the image. We are Scott's family now - the X-Men. I can't leave him; he's been left too much before. I pull the photograph against my chest. And somehow, despite the guilt, rage and sadness bubbling inside of me, I fall into a deep sleep.
I awake to the feeling of a light kiss on my cheek. My eyes flutter open and, for a second, I forget all of the pain of the night before. But it soon comes rushing back. I sit up quickly.
"What happened? Where's Warren?" I pant.
"He's fine. He's stable now and is starting on a steady recovery." Scott is sat on the bed in front of me. He smiles softly. I sigh with relief.
"Can I see him?" Light streams in through the translucent curtains. "What time is it?"
"Later, he's resting. And it's about 11am." 11am?! What?!
"Oh no! My mum-"
"The professor has gone to talk to her." He places his hand on my knee.
"About what?" I question. Please say he's not telling her the truth!
"He's validating that crazy 'biology class' story you sold her!" He laughs. I stand, wincing at my aching muscles. The photograph flutters to the floor and Scott bends to retrieve it.
"What were you doing with this?" He's not smiling now.
"Evelyn, this is private!" He slides the photograph into an open drawer and shuts it strongly. Woah.
"I was just-"
"I can't- I don't want to talk about my family, okay?" I shrink back down onto the bed and nod.
"I just thought that-"
"Well don't 'just think'." He says bluntly.
"I'm sorry." I let my head fall to my knees. He sighs and I feel him relax slightly beside me.
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. I just don't want to think about the people I've lost when last night I came so close to losing you too." He touches my cheek. I stay silent, still embarrassed. He lifts my chin so that I have to look at him. "Look, Evelyn. Last night... I- I can barely explain how I felt when I saw you- When you were- When I almost lost you. I was terrified. All control I had over myself and my emotions just went away. I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to be the leader the professor expects me to be. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep control when everything I wanted was being taken away from me. And then afterwards, when I had that bastard outside, defenceless. I just wanted to kill him. I saw red - so to speak - and all I wanted to do was blast his head into the ground."
I hug him quickly. "You'll never lose me." I whisper in a sweet promise.
"No buts. We're X-Men now. And we can look after ourselves pretty damn well. You won't lose me." I squeeze him tighter, never wanting to let go.
"Never ever put yourself in danger again, especially not for me. Okay?" He says as more of a statement than a question.
"I'll always risk myself for you. You know that. I will never stop that." It's true. Scott is more than everything to me now.
"You're so infuriating, Ardor!" He hisses. We both laugh. I pull away, kissing him lightly on the cheek as I do.
"But you love me, Cyclops." He kisses my lips quickly, before standing from the bed.
"I have to go. Get some more rest."
"But Scott! Please stay! I don't want to be alone." I beg. Jeez, I sound disgustingly desperate.
"Evelyn," he sighs.
"Please," I blink up at him.
"Fine. But only until you fall asleep." He crawls into bed behind me and wraps his arm over my body. There is a harsh red mark on his wrist. I run my fingers over it lightly.
"I won't let anyone hurt you again." I whisper tiredly.
"Shhh. Sleep now." He kisses my hair and I close my eyes. Soon, I drift off into a peaceful sleep.