Title: Secrets and Lies
Summary: There’s something Jean never told Scott.
Request Used: Charles Xavier/Jean Grey or Charles and Jean. Charles teaching Jean how to control her powers and if the author can, his teaching her about telepathic sex. Inclusion of Scott is fine in either scenario as well.
Scenario: “Secrets and Lies” draws only upon the first X-Men movie as canon, so the account of Jean’s childhood, family, and entry into the X-Men does not match that depicted in X3 or that of the comics. This story is, in addition, consistent with my X1 fiction and expands upon some events briefly recounted in my series “Canadian Nights,” “Reminiscences,” “Taking Chances,” and “Past and To Come.” Except for the reflection at the end, everything takes place before the events depicted in “I Know What You Are.”
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to my betas: talktooloose, niteslayer, lilacsigil, bittenfeld.
Secrets and Lies
It weighed on Jean sometimes that she’d never told Scott the truth. Their relationship wasn’t the kind where you kept things from each other. Their whole lives were entwined: they lived together, worked together, went into battle together. Scott and Jean had built the school together, along with the other X-Men. They’d been a couple for close to ten years, and she was still as much in love with him as the day they’d met, when she’d been totally bowled over by the boy who had been Charles Xavier’s first student. She still felt blessed and sometimes even surprised that he loved her back. With all they shared, with all they’d revealed to each other that no one else knew, this was the one thing Jean didn’t feel she could tell him. It wasn’t so much that she felt he couldn’t handle knowing. It was more that she felt she couldn’t handle him knowing. And that made her feel inadequate, both as Scott’s girlfriend and as a member of a superhero team facing far more terrifying challenges. But still, she didn’t tell him the truth.
She hadn’t always felt ambivalent about keeping her secret. When she’d first met Scott, she had been certain she didn’t want him – or anyone but Xavier – to know. It had even been one of her conditions in agreeing to join the Professor. She wanted no one to realize how damaged she was, how incapacitated by a telepathic gift she couldn’t control and didn’t want. She did not want them to know what he’d done to help her. She was introduced to Scott – then the Professor’s only student – as a telekinetic. It was a useful skill for combat and one she needed guidance with, a clear reason he’d wanted her to join what would later become the X-Men. Not that Charles had told Jean’s mother that his agenda for her daughter included being a key combatant in his planned private army. No, Alice Grey thought her daughter was only leaving home to attend a special school for the gifted, the chromosomally gifted.
Her mother had been ready to sign Jean up after Charles’s first visit to their house; he was that persuasive. Not that it took much convincing to part with a sixteen-year-old daughter who was increasingly a stranger, a frightening stranger at that. When Alice Grey said to her friends with similar aged daughters “I feel like I don’t know Jean anymore” they all nodded in agreement. Still, Alice knew her friends’ agreement was based on bad attitude and loud music and staying out too late with boys, problems Alice would have been grateful to have. Instead, Alice was dealing with unpredictable flying objects and screaming tantrums over overheard thoughts never meant for Jean to know. The loud music was there, briefly, but it was an attempt to drown out the voices in her head, an attempt that only lasted until Jean realized it was unsuccessful. Alice worried that the next try would be drugs.
Alice talked to Brad about the change in Jean as soon as she realized what was happening to their daughter. She hoped he’d have some ideas, although she certainly wasn’t counting on her ex-husband coming up with a solution. He had been a fond, if somewhat uninvolved, father before the divorce and the fondness remained afterwards. The involvement – such as it was – decreased to visits every other Saturday and weekly phone calls on Wednesday evenings. Even with such little contact Alice was sure he had to see the change in Jean, but denial is a powerful thing. Brad Grey would not believe that his little girl was a mutant.
“It’s just a phase,” he said. “She’s a teenager. Hormones make them act out.”
“She’s not ‘acting out,’ Bradley,” Alice replied, trying unsuccessfully to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “She’s moving objects with her mind, hearing things that were never said. Yesterday she got mad at me for something I was *thinking* and before I knew it one of her boots flew up and would have hit me in the back of the head if I hadn’t turned in time and ducked!”
“Come on, Alice. You’re exaggerating again. You didn’t see the boot ‘fly up,’ right? You turned and saw it flying, after she threw it. It’s bad behavior, not a mutant power. And there would likely be less bad behavior if you’d be a little more consistent with discipline.”
“What about reading my mind?”
“Anyone can read your mind. It’s an open book. Right now you’re thinking ‘That Brad should take more responsibility for his eldest daughter and give me some relief, instead of busying himself with Layla and the twins. If he’d only been as interested in Jean when she was two years old as he is in them, maybe he never would have left.’ Am I right?”
He was too close to right to argue, although she’d also been thinking of snarkily remarking that his knowledge of adolescent behavior was more current than hers, since he’d married an adolescent. But, of course, Layla wasn’t really an adolescent, even if she was too young for him. And Jean really was a mutant, even if her father didn’t want to know it. Alice found herself tuning him out as he continued to lecture her on lax discipline, but her interest perked up when he started “reading her mind” again.
“I’d have Jean live here for a while if I could, you know it,” he said. “But Heather and Dylan are a handful already, and there just isn’t room. I don’t regret at all giving you the house – it was important for continuity for Jean. But you’re two people in a five-bedroom suburban house and we’re four in a city apartment. We just can’t take Jean on. Plus you know how impossible Jean can be around Layla.” Alice thought of turning his comment about consistent discipline back on him, but she knew he’d just accuse her of poisoning Jean’s mind against Layla, and there was too much truth in the accusation for her to be comfortable provoking it.
“We could revisit the boarding school idea,” he continued. “Maybe she needs to get away from home. Maybe you need a little distance from her.”
Brad handed Alice a file folder of glossy boarding school brochures the next Saturday he picked Jean up. She threw them away unread, but she didn’t disagree with the basic idea. She did need some distance from Jean, but she thought it unlikely that she could find a boarding school that was willing to take an emerging mutant, or would know how to teach the girl if they did. Only as it turned out she didn’t have to find a school, because the school found her, or at least its headmaster did.
Charles Xavier clearly knew a lot about the Grey family before he visited. He showed up on Tuesday at 2:00. It was Alice’s day to work late, so she wasn’t expected at the library until 5:00 and Jean, of course, was at school and not due home for another hour. An hour in which the Professor told Alice all about his vision for a world where mutants and normal humans coexisted peacefully, as well as the school he had founded to further that aim. He didn’t mention that right now the school was mostly in his mind, that he had only one student so far. Neither did he mention his plans for a mutant combat team, or that he believed Jean’s powers had great battle potential.
Alice was convinced by the time Jean came home, but her daughter was more wary, asking pointed questions of the Professor about his plans. It was only from Jean’s questioning that Alice found out that the school was just beginning. “For now,” Professor Xavier explained, “I’ll be your teacher. I can assure you I’m qualified to handle all high school subjects,” he added with a smile. “As we grow, I’ll hire specialists as needed. But right now I believe I’m uniquely qualified to teach you to control and manage your powers, along with instructing you in the standard high school curriculum.”
“I don’t want to control it. I just want it to stop.”
“Many mutants feel that way when coming into their powers,” he responded, calmly and sympathetically. “It’s only natural. You’ve never heard anything good about mutants. They – we – have always been presented to you as freakish outcasts. Mutants are almost the archetypical ‘other’ in today’s society and it’s very hard to assimilate the knowledge that you’re one of them.” The tears in Jean’s eyes told her mother the professor understood what Jean had been through. “I know just how you feel, Jean. I’ve been there myself. But your mutant powers are gifts, truly, and in a supportive mutant environment with instruction on how to control and manage your powers I firmly believe you’ll come to see them as such.”
“Tell me about the boy you love so much,” Jean said, changing the subject abruptly and startling Alice. “Not like that, Mom,” she added, hearing Alice’s alarm in her brain. “He’s the professor’s first student, and almost like a son to him. He has such hope and dreams and love for this Scott Summers.” Turning to the professor, she added, “He must be someone special.”
“Oh he is, and so are you, Jean. I want to teach you to understand just how special you are. Come with me, see our school, meet Scott, and then decide.”
“I’ll come with you if you’ll make this stop,” she said, hands on her head. “You can do it, can’t you?”
They ended up compromising. He told her that he understood that it was too much to adjust to at once, and that telepathy was a particularly difficult gift to use and control. So before her first visit to the nascent school he suppressed it, walling the ability to hear others’ thoughts in a restricted part of her brain, locked until they both agreed she was ready to open the door.
Jean certainly didn’t want Scott to know about her inability to handle her telepathic gift when she met him. She wanted to make a good impression. Not that she ever dreamed that a boy who looked like him could be interested in her. And he wasn’t, well not at first, not the way she wanted him to be. They did become friends right away. Both were achingly lonely and just thrilled to find each other. Charles had done his best to be a companion to him but Scott was delighted to have a classmate finally, to be around someone his own age. Jean and Scott studied together and trained together and watched movies on TV and went into town on shopping expeditions. He was so beautiful she found it hard not to stare at him, particularly when they swam or trained together. And she wished she could see his eyes. But she didn’t think he’d ever be her boyfriend.
In those early months of Jean’s tenure at Xavier’s, Scott used to go off campus sometimes in the evenings. Charles always seemed a little bit concerned when he left, although he never said why and as far as Jean knew he never objected to Scott’s disappearances. Of course Scott only left when all of his school work was done and he’d completed enough studying and combat training to satisfy his own high standards – considerably higher than what Charles expected of them. He would stay out late and not say where he’d been, at least not to Jean. Jean figured he had a girlfriend in the city – perhaps someone he thought Charles would not approve of, since he never mentioned her at the mansion.
Jean knew that Scott had been homeless for a year before the professor found him. Who knows what kind of people he might have met on the streets of New York City? Jean imagined her as tough, experienced, and very beautiful – maybe a dancer or an actress. The evenings Scott went out, he would leave a bundle of tension, wound too tight for words. And then he’d be relaxed and happy at breakfast the next morning. She wanted to be happy for him but she was sure that the girlfriend – whoever she was – couldn’t love him like she did, couldn’t understand him like she did. Still, it was clear he only wanted to be Jean’s friend. Or at least it seemed clear those first few months.
The next year Warren and Hank joined them. Jean went from being one of two students to the lone girl in a group of four. They coalesced quickly into a class of sorts and into a fighting team. They came up with the name “X-Men” and started truly implementing Charles Xavier’s plans for them all. Hank was always way ahead of the others in their school work; Scott led their training and the more and more frequent missions Charles assigned them. They all bonded, became close in the way that only living and working and risking your lives together can engender. She loved all three of them, truly, but it was only Scott she wanted, and he had no interest in her as a girlfriend.
Warren was a different story. He asked her out the day he arrived, and seemed not to think she meant it when she turned him down. Jean figured if you’re the only son of a billionaire you get to thinking you can always get what you want, so she tried to be very clear, but he kept trying. It was flattering, but she only had eyes for Scott. Not that she told Warren that. She just kept telling him no and he kept asking. Then one day he wore her down and she let him kiss her in the Danger Room after practice, after the other boys had left. Scott walked back in from the changing room and stopped stock still. Jean pulled away from Warren. If she could have seen Scott’s eyes, she would have said their eyes met. And suddenly she felt something, something unaccustomed, the first telepathic activity she’d experienced in almost two years. It was Scott’s jealousy, painfully sharp in her brain. He left quickly but she ran after him, more worried for the moment about the misunderstanding than the possibly re-emerging telepathy.
“It’s not what you think,” she told Scott when she caught up with him.
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me. I was just surprised. There’s no reason you and Warren can’t go out,” he replied. “I just didn’t know...”
“We’re not going out. He wants to but I don’t. That’s the only time he even kissed me.” She took a deep breath and it took all the courage her 17-year-old self could muster to say what she said next. “I want to go out with you.”
It was as simple as that – they were a couple. She felt nothing more from his brain, but he threw his arms around her and they hugged. And he kissed her, a kiss that was everything she’d hoped it could be and more. When finally she pulled away from him, she said, “You have nothing to be jealous about.” He gave her a wry smile, as if he wasn’t quite sure.
Jean had never been happier. Warren grumbled at first, but even he could see how happy they were. Jean had never had a boyfriend and couldn’t believe her luck to get just the one she wanted, the one she knew she’d stay with forever.
They were inseparable – studying together, going for long walks on the mansion’s grounds, going into town (Scott used a white-tipped cane, pretending to be blind, so no one would think it strange he never took off the dark glasses) or to the Connecticut beaches (where the glasses were not a problem, of course). And after a few weeks of kissing and cuddling and wondering whether she’d have to make the first move on that as well, there was sex. Scott confessed that he, too, was a virgin, a statement that shocked Jean. She didn’t need telepathy to know the effect he had on other girls – and grown women, too. Yet he told her he’d never had sex with any of the girls he’d met in his previous life, never felt he’d met the right one, but now he had.
It was wonderful to discover sex together. Well, kind of awkward and a bit embarrassing at first. No one had ever even seen her naked before. She was scared for him to. But it helped that she was his first, that he felt awkward and unsure, too. Sharing the newness made it less embarrassing and more fun. And over the course of a couple of weeks they got to know how to please each other and marveled that such joyful coupling was possible, certain that no one else had ever had it so good. They lost a little perspective, perhaps. Charles – discreetly, privately – told Scott they needed to tone it down a bit, not touch each other so much when the others were around, not skip group meals or training sessions to be together. Jean was mortified when Scott relayed the message and abashed the next time she saw Charles. Had they really been so blatant in their new found sexuality?
In spite of her embarrassment, Jean knew she had to talk to Charles privately. The moment of feeling Scott’s jealousy when Warren kissed her turned out not to be a fluke. What was happening wasn’t like the uncontrolled telepathy she’d experienced before Charles’s intervention. That had been constant, a cacophony of thoughts and feelings any time she was with other people. This was occasional, intermittent, and limited to the people she knew well – Scott and the other X-Men, her family when they visited or she went home on vacations. She could be in a crowd of strangers and hear nothing other than what was spoken. Still occasionally – and with greater and greater frequency – the thoughts of her friends and family were entering her brain.
“Are you making this happen to me?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No, but I’m not surprised. The telepathic wall I built couldn’t hold forever.” He looked at her, a considering expression on his face. “May I?” he asked, his mind knocking on the door of hers.
She nodded her assent and he went in. She could feel his presence, his exploration. It went on for a while. Then he left and was merely sitting in front of her again. “Can you fix it?” she asked.
“Maybe. I can try to shore it up, but it will still be temporary. Maybe it’s time to open up, instead. It’s starting to dismantle itself. I can help it along.” She felt the beginning of panic, but then his presence returned to her mind, reassuring her it would all be okay. “I’ll do it slowly,” he added in speech, “and teach you how to control it as you go. I know what your experience has been, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It can be... selective. I don’t listen in to your thoughts, you know. I ask, like I just did. I do that with all of you. This is a power that can be controlled. And it’s one that can be used in combat, as you know well.”
“Yes, we’ve always benefited from your ability to tell us what the adversaries are thinking.”
“I can’t always go with you,” he said, looking down at his motionless legs. “My disability sometimes precludes it. And I won’t always be with you,” he added.
“Professor? Are you okay?”
“Fine, fine. I didn’t mean to sound melodramatic. It’s just reality. I expect to be with you and the other X-Men for a long, long time. I plan on seeing generations of mutants grow up in this house. But I’m also planning for a team that can continue after I’m gone, and a strong telepath is an important asset. It’s a fairly rare power, particularly when combined with other psionic gifts. You’re very special, Jean.”
She smiled. “That’s what you always say.”
“I want you to have the use of all your special ability.”
“Okay, I’ll try.” She paused. “But I don’t want anyone to know that you’ve suppressed it all this time.”
“Not even Scott?”
“Especially not Scott. He’d wonder what else I’d kept from him. And I haven’t... kept anything, that is. It’s just... I don’t want him to know. Can’t we just say I’m developing telepathy, and you’re helping me with controlling it and managing it? It’s so close to the truth. It *is* the truth; it just leaves out what happened before.”
He agreed and that’s how her new power was presented to the other X-Men. She worried that they’d feel like their privacy was being invaded, but they’d all been accustomed to sharing quarters with a telepath, so it didn’t faze them to have two in the house. And Charles had been quite right about the importance of telepathy on missions, and about the limitations that his disability presented. He had often come along on combat missions previously, but the energy and time necessary to keep their mobility-impaired leader physically safe had been an impediment to the team’s effectiveness in battle, even as his telepathy had been a boon. With Jean providing telepathic reconnaissance instead there was no downside and they quickly became a much more effective fighting team.
The adjustment in Scott’s and Jean’s personal relationship was a little more bumpy. They both really loved having a telepathic link to each other, reveled in the ability to speak privately and silently while others were there and to speak to each other when separated, as well. In many ways it made Jean feel much closer to Scott, something she’d thought wouldn’t have been possible. But continuing telepathic contact with your boyfriend wasn’t an unalloyed blessing. Sometimes she heard thoughts she wished she hadn’t.
There are all sorts of times that it's just best not to know too much about what your partner's thinking. If she asked him if she looked fat in her new jeans, she wasn’t really looking for an honest answer. If he was kissing her and his mind wandered to the mission they’d just been on or the paper due tomorrow, she found she’d rather not know that. There were some misunderstandings, some too much understanding, and some tears those first weeks that Scott and Jean adjusted to her emerging telepathy. But Charles taught Scott how to use mental shields and they both became more accustomed to dealing with, and averting, the potential negative consequences of Jean’s developing powers. Scott learned to use his mental shields more often and Jean learned not to listen to his brain all the time, and not to mention it if she accidentally caught a thought not intended to be shared. Yes, it was all working out well except for one area: sex.
Scott and Jean found that as they got aroused the control that they both had – her in not projecting her thoughts and him in shielding his thoughts – diminished. It wasn’t something they were ready for and Jean in particular found that unsettling. On the one hand she was excited in an almost overwhelming way by the feelings and thoughts he projected right before and during orgasm. On the other hand she found that she herself just could not relax enough to climax, knowing he’d feel what was happening to her. If she had felt awkward when naked in their first sexual experiences, it was nothing to what she felt now. A nakedness of her mind, her sensations and even her soul – it was too much. She couldn’t take it.
Embarrassing as it was to share with her mentor, Jean found herself confiding in Charles that she and Scott were unable to shield their thoughts during sex, and that it was ruining their sex life. “Teach me how to stop – how to stop feeling his thoughts, how to stop him from feeling mine.”
“I can’t,” he said, shaking his head. “During times of high arousal – sexual and otherwise – none of these techniques work.”
“Well, what am I going to do?” She blushed, realizing how desperate she sounded.
“Learn to like it,” he said with a smile.
“Of course you can,” he responded, with the same even tone he used when assuring his students they could succeed at a particularly difficult simulated battle or a complicated math problem. “I can teach you some telepathic relaxation techniques, which should help you get over the block. This doesn’t have to be a negative. I think you’ll find that sharing one’s partner’s experience enhances the sexual connection. Maybe you’ve felt a little of that already.”
Jean blushed scarlet. “I have, but the other way round, I can’t... this is so hard to talk to you about.”
“I know. I wish we had a house mother for you – a telepathic house mother. We’ll certainly have to work on getting some more female students, at least. I realize it’s hard for you to be the only female in the house, and to have to confide in a stuffy old man like myself about sexual matters.” She started to protest, but he continued. “I know it’s embarrassing, but for now I’m all you’ve got. And this is a subject I do know something about. I’ve been a telepath a long, long time. I’m telling you, if you learn to relax and just accept the telepathic component to sexual relations, you’ll find it increases pleasure, increases closeness. It can even make up for something that’s missing.”
Jean looked down to avoid meeting Charles’s eyes. But then, worried that it would appear that she was looking at his motionless legs, she looked up again.
She’d never thought of Charles as a sexual being. He was her teacher, her mentor, and more of a father figure than her own father had been. So she didn’t – couldn’t – envision him that way.
But of course she knew that there was more to Charles Xavier than what she saw of him. With no feeling or voluntary movement in the lower half of his body, the only kind of sexual sensation accessible to him was what he felt telepathically as his partner experienced it. No wonder he said it could make up for something missing. Jean found herself speculating about whether Charles had a lover now, and if so, who she was.
Charles turned out to be right on this subject, as on so many. Once Jean was able to relax enough to let go even knowing that Scott would feel what was happening to her, they had a truly shared sexual experience, beyond what they’d been able to feel before telepathy. It was new and wonderful, an excitement and a connection that profoundly affected them both. Cuddled together in the afterglow, Jean related to Scott what Charles had said about it making up for what’s missing, and they felt a pang of shared pity that Charles could never fully experience what they had with each other.
Over the years, when Jean remembered that time, she felt vaguely guilty, thinking that Scott had always been so honest with her and yet she was still implicitly lying to him, still keeping this one secret. Then later, when everything fell apart, Jean remembered those early days with a new kind of sadness, one full of bitter realization of how wrong she’d been in thinking she was the only one with secrets and lies. But she also remembered with new insight. Charles hadn’t been talking about “something missing” for him, she realized, but something missing between her and Scott. It just about broke her heart all over again to realize that Charles knew what was missing long before she had had any idea anything was wrong.
Additional Note on Request Not Used and Why: joanne_c had a Scott/Logan slash request and that’s most of what I write so my first inclination was to do it. The request was “Scott/Logan or Scott and Logan (much prefer slash but is okay if not). Learning about each other after Jean's death in X2, the good and the bad and accepting each other for who they are. I would like for Jean/Logan to have been completely one-sided on Logan's part, please.” I didn’t do it for this ficathon because I decided I’d written that story pretty thoroughly already here and didn’t have anything more to say about it.