1963-07-22 - Sputnik, Shmutnik
Summary: Flying lessons between Rogue, Jean, and Sam. Or "How the Soviets stole Logan's girlfriend."
Related: None
Theme Song: Cold War Kids - First
rogue cannonball jean 

The hazy morning dawning over New York promises another sticky day of droning fans and kids playing in the fountains. The dog days of summer have arrived, and barring Bobby conjuring a snowstorm for the pleasure of all and sundry, the students of the Institute suffer right along with those citizens from Harlem to Chelsea, and all points in between. This explains entirely why Scarlett, or whatever name she uses today, is up while the temperature is at its low for the day: 78'F.

At least she makes a point of bringing breakfast with her, a pair of bagels stolen from the kitchens with some of that famed New York cream cheese to go along with it. That sits inside a paper bag in her left hand; slung over her back is a long green cloak in will be, no doubt, her signature colours. Fashion makes more than a few faux pas in these years, but what will never go out of style? A girl veiled in a forest green catsuit, in a way that would pay homage to Emma Peel. For a student body used to seeing her only in her bohemian dresses and foreign outerwear, this is not playing fair. She's a young woman grown, not a grumpy twelve year old complaining about another redskin rolling up to see the professor, someone else answer him. Wherever Sam may be, he's about to have her settling in his vicinity. Be that his room, mucking out the stables, or running the horses around. As it goes, she's good about finding people.


As it happens, Sam is pacing around the lake, wearing a pretty unusual outfit himself for these warm months: bomber jacket, jeans, and goggles. He's dressed the same as he was when he first arrived, fresh off the flight from Kentucky to New York (and boy were his arms tired) — from the way he keeps bouncing on the balls of his feet and glancing heavenward, it's safe to guess that he might be considering another flight.

Well, he was considering it, before the Scarlet Rogue showed up in her Avengers-worthy attire. Sam isn't unaware of the show, but Ma had very stern ideas about him watching it, so what little mental preparation he might have had for women slinking around in skintight suits is immediately brung low, as he might say, by the reality. He gapes. He stares. He stammers. Are his goggles fogging up?


Avengers only wish they looked this good. Really. Their costumes need some refinement and until they get Betsy Ross (aka Golden Girl, what the hell) to sew them up some flags and threads, they are confined to looking *less* awesome than the rest of the heroic crew over here.

Scarlett takes in the sight of that figure pacing around the lake, but she closes the distance in longer strides than normally permitted to her. Wearing minidresses does not permit her to use her full gait, and it's a pity because she can eat up the ground in those over the knee boots held down by devices and buckles as only Hank can design. Presumably he did. It might have been one of the glamorous fashion houses over the Pond. Either way, the redhead holds up the paper bag like the treasure it absolutely is. "Time for a lesson in something we can be good at, Mr. Guthrie!" she calls, her voice hopefully penetrating the mental fog. "I thought you might like to get some practice in before the rest of your courses." She tosses him the bag, possibly out to test his reflexes. "Ever had a picnic and watched the aurora? Let's go have some fun and blow this popsicle stand, shall we?" With a snap of her freed up hands, she circles the green cloak around her shoulders. No simple snaps fasten it; for the speeds she's contemplating, faster than a desultory bicycle race, she needs a bit more than that.


Bacon. It was something that Jean managed to make that didn't taste like feet. And she had a plate of it. A nice, heaping plate of it. You really can't go wrong with that. Because honestly? Everyone loves bacon. (Thankfully, the term vegan wasn't present in 1963! They'd be lynched worse than the mutants.)

While she wasn't fast on Scarlett's trail, she was close behind. Close enough to hear her call out towards Sam. She stops abruptly, finally noticing their state of dress, her brows furrowing and cheeks puffing out and her lips curling in an awkward way to show her obvious confusion.

"Uh.. bacon before you practice? It's.. not raw this time and perfectly crispy." Just like she was taught!


Sam's reflexes aren't at their best, but after a few requisite slapstick juggle-smacks to keep the bag of bagels in the air while he tries to get a decent grip on them, he manages to have it land wedged in the crook of his elbow. "Good— good mornin', Miss Rogue, Miss Jean," he says, eyes wide behind the lenses of his goggles. "What, uh, what kinda lesson were you thinkin' of, exactly?" he asks. Flashing a grin and doing his best to stop staring, he answers, "Ah ain't never said no to bacon, and I don't plan on startin' now."

It's starting to show, actually: Sam's starting to put on weight. Switching from tightly budgeted meals rationed out between nearly a dozen siblings to the limitless portions available at Xavier's means that the lanky boy's limbs have begun to edge away from their pipe cleaner proportions. He reaches out with his non bagel-laden arm to snag a strip.


Crispy bacon, you say? You smell? Looking over her shoulder, the tall redhead breaks into a luminous smile. "If you weren't after my own heart, I would be shocked. That might be just the thing. We are going to burn through a fair bit of energy, Sam, so you might want to fill up as much as Jean will allow." She points a gloved finger up towards the sky. "I thought it proper we put some of those theories Alex was suggesting into action, and get a bit of time on the course in before it starts getting too congested. After a certain point, it seems best just to wait until nightfall, but then the usual issues of darkness and not seeing clearly become their own frustration." Her explanation comes in its own time as she finishes latching hooks and securing the underside of the cloak across her chest, the hood thrown back to allow her braided scarlet hair to pool behind her. No way can the hood stay upright, presumably, but the rest of the time she makes a wonderful woodland skulk about to invade the Soviet Union by way of Karelia.

"I thought we might get some flight hours in. Sam here has been refining his talents, and we never have enough room or time downstairs." A nod vaguely indicates the whereabouts of the Danger Room. She takes a piece of bacon and with another murmured word of thanks, nibbles on the edge.


There was a little grin that plays upon Jean's lips as she watches Sam juggle the bag o'bagels, the plate lifting even moreso now because.. bacon and bagels? You could make a sandwich! Too bad she didn't think to bring anything to drink. But she remained quiet for the time, her eyes darting towards him and then to Scarlett, then down at her own attire which was comprised of a t-shirt and a lonely pair of school shorts. It's been hot lately, and Jean has been in hiding. This was her effort to be more social.

Though Scarlett's words actually accomplish a -huge- blush on her part, a slight crackling sound is heard as she tries to suppress an awkward laugh that'd reach their ears. "I.. uh.." She stammers a little, her head bobbing left and right as she fights to search for the words.

"Flight hours?" Jean, looked perplex. "You can actually fly?" She looks towards Rogue, seriously. And then towards Sam as well. Well, she knew that Sam was like a rocket, but controlled? "I.. I want to see this." Yeah, they can have the plate of bacon.. screw that. She wants to see them grow proverbial wings.


"You fly, Miss Rogue? Ah don't think Ah ever knew, either," Sam says, tilting his head and giving the woman a curious look. "Ah guess that explains — Ah mean, you're always real graceful when you're, uh, skippin' around, as you do." Everybody who flies seems to do so gracefully, with one significant exception. He sighs, shrugs, and adds, "As it happens, nighttime's not a great time for sneaky flyin' anyway, in my case."

Nibbling on the edges of a strip of bacon might work for some, but the aforementioned pile of competing siblings long ago taught Sam to wolf down his food. The delicious, crisp morsel simply disappears, leaving a lopsided grin in its wake. "Shoot, Jean, that sure was tasty," he tells her with sincere approval. "You're gettin' better in the kitchen, and no mistake." He vanishes another rasher or so before digging open Rogue's bag with that distinct brown-paper crinkle. "Ooh, bagels."

Of course, breakfast is all well and good, but that doesn't mean he has lost track of his — or, it seems, Rogue's — purpose out here. "Ah was thinkin' along more or less the same lines," he tells her a few seconds later around a mouthful of the deli's finest. "Ah been flippin' around in that harness of Bobby's for a good few weeks, and it's about time Ah found out whether my technique's gotten any better."


"Family secret," replies the girl in green, drawing a lazy spiral with her fingertip to encompass most of the grounds in a single go. "Most of them do not know, and I try to keep it under wraps so they avoid asking me for lifts into the city. It also helps against mental intrusion. If they never expect I can leave the ground, an enemy cannot anticipate that and act on it. Tactically sound, I suppose, though perhaps a touch underhanded." Her smile fades a fraction on that note, confessing to what she knows is wrong. On the other hand, given almost no one has their own car except the eldest students, so it really does make sense why they would want someone who can fly them to London in under four hours. Less, actually.

The glance over Jean's attire holds no judgment, only a reflection of scrutiny about weather. "Do you want to come? I can carry you, as long as you keep your hands off my face. You can take the cloak, though you really might want a better flight suit. Pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt at the very least, because temperature drops off heavily above the air. Given the haze up there?" She glances up, and all those hours spent in a meteorology class actually serve her well. "We'll have to get above ten thousand to stay out of trouble, though I usually hit higher than that. Twenty in the cloud tops, it's like a right dream. But, Miss Jean, I would not wish to leave you landbound when you brought us bacon. I can manage you easily enough if you want to go. Him, on the other hand, he might be a little too scientific to latch hold of. Your choice, of course."

Exactly how the yoga master of the campus is going to carry Jean beyond hugging her isn't clear. She has some definition to her muscles, but not to the point of other gentlemen around the place. On the other hand… Sam knows that hand. The one that hauled him off from a playground. She waits anyways, folding her legs as she simply floats in space, adopting a lotus position easily.


There was a subtle look around the course and up into the air. She finally lets out a breath, those defenses slowly dropping down to allow herself of the feeling kind, gentler kind of Jean. Though, if what she put on before was gentler, this sort of Jean would be sweeter than a can of condensed and sugary milk. Enough to cause a touch of diabetes if she could.

She blows a bit of breath out of her lips with puffed cheeks, finally focusing in on the conversation, a wide smile given towards Sam and then another towards Rogue as she speaks of flying. "Thanks.." She says firstly to Sam. She was trying. She was focusing in the kitchen. The books also helped.

"Uh.." Her green eyes dart up towards the sky again, squinting, one hand shielding her brow as she finally gives a shrug. There were a few things that could happen..

1. She'd prove too heavy to Rogue and she might fall and probably die.
2. She'd probably die due to shock.
3. They'd get clipped by a plan or some random object and she'd die.
4. She'd just die.

It all almost seemed welcome. But it was a rare treat indeed to be airborne, so she jumped at the chance. "I don't need the cloak, I'll be okay! Yeah.. I want to go." Where one would toss the plate of bacon aside, she carefully bends to set it politely on the ground. And steals a few strips for herself.


"Oh, Ah can carry people!" Sam clarifies, stopping with a bagel halfway to his mouth. "Did it the first time Ah used my powers. The blast sorta surrounds stuff Ah'm carryin' — good thing, too." He slouches a little more, goes pink in the cheeks, and awkwardly explains, "If it just came outta my skin, it'd be real hard to, um, keep warm. If you catch my drift." In case it's not obvious what he's getting at, the mere thought is enough to make the boy pull his thick bomber jacket a little tighter around himself. He also jams the remainder of the bagel into his mouth, just to make sure he doesn't let fly any more embarrassing admissions.

He doesn't have the benefit of any meteorology knowledge more advanced than what can be gleaned from the Farmer's Almanac, and he certainly doesn't have the slightest clue how to measure his own altitude in flight. Still, he accedes to Rogue's suggested flight plan with an amiable nod. He might not be graceful and he might not be all that refined, but he's game, you have to give him that.

Oh, and need it be said that he grabs a few more strips of bacon before Jean sets the plate down? He's not letting that go to the ants.


Freed, gloved hands run over her braids and settle them behind the neckline of her catsuit. A play of the zipper tugs up towards her long throat, and Rogue flashes a quick, sassy smile towards the other. "Are you sure you won't get cold? Outstanding, we can make the best of it. If you are feeling chilly, give me two tugs on my sleeve and we'll descend somewhat." Instructions are simple enough to provide direction, and she stifles a laugh at the explanation offered for how Sam manages to keep hold of his passengers. "It sounds like we could start a courtier service. Timely delivery of sensitive packages, mind the landing if it doesn't stick?" An attempt at a joke comes with her easy charm, golden on the tip of her tongue. "The cold rarely bothers me, but I've taken some fairly high parabolas into the atmosphere, and the different parts of it. So, shall we go ahead and load up?" Her gloves are sealed under the zippered wristbands of her sleeves, forming an almost seamless sweep of polished forest green on white. It matters.

The implied agreement nonetheless brings a whisper of laughter, and she turns her glittering emerald gaze sky borne. "Freedom comes with us today. Very well, Jean, your sky awaits you." She holds out her sheathed palm. "Mind it means a hug, but we can keep it slow from the start. Remind me when I get to ground to ask about a tether or something, Sam. It's a good idea."


"Uh.. what?" Yeah. Jean didn't get it. She didn't even get why he's tugging his jacket closer to himself. Does he burn? Does he freeze? Man, everything went -way- over her head. It would be a surprise if it wasn't in Cotton Candy land. Maybe he was squishy at the sides?

"I'm sure I won't get cold." She reassures Rogue. "I've.. spent most of my time hot. And most of my time nothing at all. I think I'll be alright." She smiles and takes a little step closer, pins taken from her hair at their position as she begins to afix her lovely red locks into something akin to a bun. She even gets a band, tying it around to make sure it fits, even though a few of the curls spill out. Her body was ready.

Jean understood the instructions completely, her lips pursed as she gives a nod to the woman, and then towards Sam, she gives a smile. "It'll be easy, right?" She says about them practicing. She reaches out to take Scarlett's hand, giving it a tight squeeze. "Besides, what could go wrong?" DUN DUN DUNNN!

Jean just ruined everyones lives with that one line.


Rogue might be joking about a courier service, but Sam Guthrie is always on the lookout for a new way to make a little more cash. "Y'think people would really pay for that?" he asks her, sounding genuinely curious. "Be like the Pony Express back in the wild west," he says with a grin. "Ah could get used to that."

He takes a few steps away from the pair of women, zipping up his bomber jacket and tightening his goggles. His cold-weather gear isn't extensive, or even what one might consider complete, but he has never seemed concerned. More inquisitive minds might theorize that his powers create a buffer of warmth and pressure to that keeps him comfy up high, but Sam himself has never put too much thought into it.

The thought of a tether, though, does get a grin from the boy. "Ah'm a hugger, myself," he says. "Reckon any kind of tether would just give my flyin' buddy whiplash."

As if to underscore the point, he takes off, an explosive shockwave flattening grass in a wide radius and, in spite of his giving them some space, perhaps buffeting the girls more than they might like. The high-volume roar of his flight fades quickly, zero to who knows what in no time, but the bright glare of his blast field and its rocket trail still easily visible against the daylit sky.


"If you feel like skydiving, I can let you free fall and try aerial acrobatics, but not something I recommend on your first time unless you have a love for it. I guarantee you I can catch you." Which scientifically suggests that Scarlett can outrun a young woman's falling speed, or supreme confidence on her part, though history wouldn't support being a cocky mutant strutting her stuff. Not when hiding her talents, including one so simple as defying gravity. From where she floats midair, though, it might be hard to put the bohemian child of flowers and joy up against the green-eyed, lithe sylph about to open the sky for the sheer delight of sharing it.

As soon as Jean proves herself ready, Scarlett stoops to wrap her arm around Jean's waist for a secure grip. "Imagine like we're about to go dancing," she says, picking out an easy explanation. "You can even step on my feet. These boots are plenty thick enough I could have a statue standing on them, and I wouldn't feel discomfort. Darling, you're a feather on the breeze." The imbued strength in her grip is barely touched upon but there, plain as day, given she lifts up her other redheaded counterpart like she weighs no more than a schnauzer puppy. less, perhaps. The pair rotate on a slow upward spiral, giving Jean time to adjust to no longer being on the grass in the light of an early morning sun. The spin is slow rather than tight and quick, showing a degree of considerable finesse as they levitate more than spiral. "Feeling comfortable?" Her voice has to pitch a little louder to be heard over the natural noise of the air moving, though it barely ruffles her braids, yet.

Then Sam goes flying off like a Saturn V rocket, and she just gives a soft laugh. "Difference between us right there. He fires off, and we take our time. No trouble, though, I can catch up to him once you feel up for it. Or make him wish he were appreciating it!" Fifty feet becomes a hundred in time, but the courtly waltz is mean to give the Grey girl her bearings without a taste of horror to accompany it.


"That.. actually sounds like a great job. I'll join in on it. But I'll take a bike." Any job is a good job, she was starting to feel horrible about not doing anything and using up Charles' money. Even though it seemed like it as and endless endeavor, Jean really didn't need much and barely asked for anything. Hence why she was out there barefoot. No one really notices it anyways, and she barely heads into town!

"I like hugs." Tee'hee. But Rogue was ready, Sam was already zipping up his coat and she was stepping upon the woman's boots like they were a set of lifts. Sam was already gone, which knocked her bun off to the side, and they were already in the air, Jean looking up in attempts to find her fellow student with a squint of her eye and a glance back towards Rogue. And.. well.. she was kind of shaking. "I'm feeling okay." She confirms, keeping a slight tight clench of her toes as they slowly lift up into the air.

"Would he fall back down or is he staying up there? I.. I mean I wouldn't mind catching up but at a decent pace.." One that wouldn't make her hurl.


Sam's not within earshot to hear any of Rogue's sassy comments, even if he could over the racket his powers make. It seems, though, that he isn't planning on just blasting upward indefinitely: after gaining a pretty colossal amount of altitude, his blast field cuts off and the boy just lets himself fall. He's never been much afraid of heights, and with the added assurance of a nice protected blast field landing, he doesn't have much trouble with this sort of foolhardy activity.

After several seconds of freefall for the ladies to gain height in their more leisurely manner, Sam plummets past them. (Someone might be attentive enough to notice that it takes Sam significantly longer to reach them falling than he spent blasting to gain the distance, and make a deduction about his speed versus terminal velocity.) He rockets upward again — at a slight, unintentional angle — but this time cuts thrust early enough to hit the peak of his parabola just above them.

"Ah don't think it's workin' right!" he hollers, voice dopplering as he sort of midair-bounces past them. He falls away, then blasts a little more to get back into earshot. "Not the blastin', that's fine, but the — shoot…" He falls away once again, blasts once again, and spends a third handful of moments capable of conversation. "The steerin'! Can't balance right with all this danged wind!"

Apparently their midair conversations are going to have to follow a sort of leisurely pogo pattern: a bungee jumper in reverse.


A courier service started by the girl who can't touch anyone, and the Pony Express reborn. Either Charles will smile or his eyebrows will blow off his head in as many days. Nonetheless, no one can deny an entrepreneurial spirit in this current crop of students out to bankrupt him in other ways.

Hugs are a secure place in the world, the difference of a strong pair of arms around someone. Those slender limbs betray themselves to be made from something equivalent to an immovable force, when it matters. Jean is treated with care, not that she might be made of porcelain, but very much flesh and blood and bone. Thus being lofted upwards, she'll eventually feel the call of gravity when the spiral straightens out into a much longer arc through the sky that heads mostly up rather than back. "I think he keeps moving from momentum until he explodes again, like a rock skipping on a pond? Hard to say, I haven't seen him fly." Scarlett's voice is shredded by the wind, but the endless slow rotations through the air cut that down some. Her cloak whips around them in a forested swirl, and when permission to accelerate is granted, gravity's shackles finally come completely off. Little adjustment is made to how tight she has to hold, but the green-eyed Bohemian arches her back slightly and gathers force to her thoughts, simply untethering herself from mother earth's smothering, if loving, grasp.

Imagine being on a motorcycle that goes from a sedate 30 miles an hour to 90, on a steady stream instead of an explosive burst. An exhilarated laugh tumbles out, the slipstream of air beneath them displaced easily enough. For the moment, the girls are going up rather than angling the long way out of the interests of not being detected on radar or satellite, or by a really confused bird who somehow can report this to a metal bird. "Stars and moon, you make it look like fun!"

The nice way of saying he's kangaroo hopping around like he's drunk, but then what works best for all of them. Another punch of acceleration cuts straight up the heart of the last arc Cannonball took, so it's rather like riding a great glass elevator towards space. Minus, you know, a roof.


Permission given and taken. As soon as Scarlett shoots up into the air Jean's hands manage to find themselves smacking against her face. Her eyes were closed throughout it all, at least until she could get used to the speed and the velocity in which they shoot upright. She does cup her hands around her eyes, at least so that her eyelids wouldn't feel as if they'd peel off of her face.

Not to mention, when her hands were covering? There was probably a scream or somewhat in there.. or at least something resembling that.

She didn't want to look down, but the ping-pong of Sam had her only focusing on him instead of the ground.. which was a nice backdrop of green and various shapes that were sectioned off and expertly divided..

"I..""..can pro..""..bably..!"

She realized that she was screaming. She also realized that she was leaning forward in Rogue's tight grip, obviously trusting the woman at her strength. I mean, look at them? She kept Jean safe and secure with just a wrap of her arm.

Her hand strikes out to try to wrap Sam within her tether, the simple wish, want, envisioning of a grab attempting to pull him up to their status in the air and keep him still just so that he could at least speak without ping-ponging about. If she's achieved that?

"Tilt your body!" She screams out. "Say you want to go that way and GO!" And the intensity of which she tries to yell this out reflects within her power. It.. may be trying to give Sam too sharp of a 'hug'.


It's unlikely that Sam Guthrie will ever stop coming up with bright ideas to perplex and perturb the school's headmaster. For an avowed non-intellectual, he sure does seem to get creative where unmanageable group activities for young people with too much time on their hands are concerned.

The boy is just bouncing up for another two-second t?te-?-t?te when Jean snatches him out of his sine wave with her telekinetic power. At first, he's shocked, but he quickly laughs — it's a much more convenient and sensible way for them to talk, he must admit.

Unfortunately, as she explains her idea, her concentration gets a little too intense, and he grits his teeth, smile going a touch manic. "That's a goodhrkidea, Jean, but y'think y'couldgkloosen up a little?" he shouts back the best he can without the ability to expand his chest much. He's wriggling his shoulders, but his arms are pinned helpless at his sides. He might be able to blast free, but who knows what feedback effect that might have on Jean? He'll hold off on that option unless he absolutely has to use it.


He sure does seem talented at raising a mob with pitchforks for saying the wrong thing, so only fair he gets to barnstorm on occasion. If that barn happens to cost $150,000 and contain priceless Rolls-Royces, history will be on their side because in time, Charles won't need all those fancy cars anyways, and Erik can smooth out the bumps and lumps anyways. Good to know dent removal and repair is in the German's future, if he ever decides for a lower profile position elsewhere. Mags the Mechanic, satisfaction guaranteed or your hemoglobin's free. Freely suspended…

The scream earns a laugh in Jean's ear, a merry sound rather than mocking. Understanding conveyed in an instant, for Scarlett knows the awful, heavy effect g-force can have. No sudden drops or lurches here, she focuses on swirling through the clouds smooth as an ice cream machine dispenses a perfect Dairy Queen cone. Laughter ripples even louder when no longer is Sam bouncing along but suspended in a web. "Amazing! Sunshine, you caught yourself a shooting star. Now what shall we do with it?"

The question may be raised while she's etching a tightening circle that will inevitably give way out into a bird's graceful sweep, an arc drawn over the cloud tops they've reached at the very lowest levels. It means, probably, pulling along Sam. If not, a range for telekinesis is about to be tested.


There were distractions about. The sights, the sounds, the need to escalate her voice to higher and louder tones than she was used to.. So it's no wonder as to why that 'special hug' was becoming something a tad bit dangerous than necessary, not to mention.. she's never really grasped people before. It was slightly amazing.

"OH!" She shouts out, attempting to pull back that hold upon him, forcing herself to relax.. Rogue would feel that tension and slight irritation slide away.. or lessen at least while she keeps Sam still.


Now, what exactly was she going to do with Sam? She really didn't know. And while this was thought about, Scarlett takes their trail to a new low, just beneath the very clouds they wound about. Her hand drops.. and that grasp lessens and lessens.. the range was still there, but Sam was able to break free and move at his own accord.


"Much obliged, Miss Jean," Guthrie calls out as soon as the psychic's grip relaxes. He is indeed taken for a bit of a ride, slaloming along in their wake like an airborne waterskier, and he grins at what, for him, is an unusually graceful flight through the clouds. "So this is what flyin's like for the rest of y'all!" he calls out. "Nice 'n gentle. Not quite as much excitement as Ah'm used to, though." Leave it to the redneck rocketeer to pine for a roaring engine and a near-total lack of steering.

Once released, Sam immediately falls — predictably, one must suppose — but he doesn't seem to mind, tilting earthward with a loud rebel whoop. He blasts away a second later, now angled horizontally and a bit downward, but shortly his rocket trail is arcing back upward. The gentle curve has a sort of grace, viewed at enough distance to get over the noise and harsh light.

Shortly, he's testing Jean's theory, cutting thrust and trying to angle his body to steer like a skydiver, using the blasting wind to his advantage rather than his detriment. Combined with the core and balance work he's been doing on the ropes — his substitute for Rogue's suspiciously foreign yogic exercises — it's the most success he's ever had at steering in midair.


The shouts are just enough to send the exhilaration flooding through her bloodstream, feeding the endless hunger of her vampiric soul. Proximity denied means she cannot feed upon the living, vital presence in her arms, and Scarlett shows absolutely no hint of that tension. After all, the curse is laid on every string of her genetic code rather than a conscious impulse. Instead, she delights fully in all the reactions shown by the rising redheaded duet, experiencing the thrill and fear in the same moment. Scarlett provides the essential security, holding Jean suspended a kilometer above the earth's surface, which is reduced to a patchwork of fields and forests, streams and the lake. Buildings are mere toys on a game board devised by the gods.

"You're doing gloriously," she sings into the fireball psychic's ear. Up here, the words are hard to capture. The energized force pulling them along, she wraps her arm firmer around Jean's waist and then breaks into a torpedo twirl that might leave poor Sam spinning around like a propeller in a wide arc. It's only momentum pushing her forward as she effectively cuts the acceleration, gliding rather than barreling along. As soon as he is let go, the taller of the flying pair swivels to put them upright again so telekinetic control isn't lost by having wind in one's face.

The psychic gifts may not be really understood, but she can guess and learn on the fly. Literally.


"What do you mean y'all?" Jean cries out. "I'm being carri—.. Eeeeeeeee!!" Whatever phantom magic Scarlett kicks up, it's allowing Jean to soar. Her arms even stretch and fan out, imagining herself as she's one with the skies… not to mention, she's hanging onto Sam but not for dear life. Just a protective hug, protective, not crushing or guiding!

"I'm trying my best!" She cries out towards Rogue, her mind racing with such wonders. The upright swivel allows her to look down and up towards Sam as he tries to use her idea in a literal sense. And this makes her smile. "I really, really wish I could do that!" She hollars to her red-headed friend. Or marm. Or tutor.. whatever she was to the institute. "I can't imagine what it must be like for you!" Cue clipping of the voice. And an urp. She must have swallowed a fluffy cloud piece!


Cannonball would answer, but alas, he is very far away and very, very loud. Like Rogue, he can fly around on momentum. Unlike her, it's really obvious whether he is doing so or not. At the moment, he's keeping his blasts to less that a second in duration, just to give him a chance to try to reorient while he's coasting on speed. There's an acrobatic, gymnastic quality to it: attempting to flip around while flying through the air at better-than-highway speeds. At first, the teenager is concentrating on what he's doing, afraid of messing up. After a minute or two, he's just enjoying the thrill of flipping through the air like a maniac. And with the added safety net of Jean's loose telekinetic tether, he's allowing himself a rare burst of genuine confidence in his abilities. Jean's right: this is fun.


Cloud eating is highly recommended, for those unfamiliar with it. Fluffy mouthfuls of pure moisture that cool the skin and dot the flesh in moisture immediately sapped away by the swirling air is well worth the introduction. Laughing as she goes, the student — alas, Scarlett does not teach officially, though this may soon be changing — gives Jean a reassuring squeeze measured with a heavy dose of caution. No broken ribs are needed. She swoops like a falcon on the wing, teetering at a slow tilt that sends them hurtling away on a ten degree angle relative to the plane of the horizon. Her braids whirlwind around her, a streak of green and Christmas red redoubled by the girl in shorts (!) and a contrail of invisible psychic energy. Watching that dot in the distance widen back into a person again, she measures where Sam is largely based on whether or not he has vanished.

This is beyond fun for Scarlett: it's life. No longer a terror but a joy, and she largely uses Jean's reactions — physical and auditory, mostly — to guide just how exciting the loop is going to be. "Do you want me to pass you to him?" she shouts, though it's hard to hear some of the smudged out syllables. All the same, a hand pointed briefly towards the Kentucky mutant with a thumbs up or down, wobbled in a question mark, might help. Failing that, they'll just cross paths over and then under him as the Bohemian basically flies a bow around him.


And who is to say anyone notices the sparkly thing so far overhead? The clouds do obscure bits. Sparkle sparkle of doom.


Jean has him. Even so much that she could practically have herself and Rogue in that unknowing, protective grasp. There was nothing but good feelings in the air; and for once she let them free. She let them inside, she let herself feel it. For once? She was truly happy and knew the meaning just as if it were her own name.

The brief squeeze to her ribs allow her to prepare, that swooping feeling, her hands immediately clasping her face so that her lips won't flap in the wind, a harsh giggle from behind her palms is heard as her hands strike out again like the wings of a plane. Did.. did Jean just 'yee-haw?'!? Sam would be damn proud.

"What?!" Jean shrieks out, a near laugh on her lips. "I don't know, I like being with you!" She hollars back, but she watches.. well squints in Sam's direction, her closed fist smacking into the palm of her hand to nudge the knuckles deep within her skin.

"Okay.. okay! Throw me towards him!"


Feeling a bit of a daredevil, Sam has just oriented himself for a flyby of the girls, picking up some momentum off of a longer blast and then cutting thrust to whoosh by. As he drops thrust, he tilts back to almost upright and splays his limbs out, the wind hitting him full-force. He's just intending to wave as he passes by, but Rogue seems to have more elaborate plans than exchanging a simple greeting.

Before Sam knows what's going on, Jean is flying right at him! Half hollering in surprise, half laughing in sheer exhilaration, Sam holds his hands out to cushion their collision. They don't hit all that hard, but between his focus shifting from not bonking their heads together and simple inertial transference, the pair are sent spinning. Grinning and blushing furiously as he's split between the necessities of getting a solid grip on Jean and not touching her in a way that his Ma wouldn't approve of, Sam eventually leans a little harder on the former and gets the girl secured. Of course, by that point, they're spinning practically out of control and losing altitude fast. The farm boy grins: no problem.

"Get ready!" he shouts over the wind, and without really giving Jean time to, he cuts in with a blast.

The sensation isn't what you'd expect. For one thing, they're somehow insulated from the blast; it's much less loud and bright to be Sam the Cannonball than it is to be a little distance away. A warm, gentle buffer, not unlike Jean's own telekinetic power, wraps around her, taking the edge off the cold of altitude and, surprisingly, negating the wind all but entirely. Jean will be able to see around herself fairly well as they rocket upward past Rogue, at least until they're into the cloud cover.

Sam exhales, relieved, his arms wrapped tightly around Jean. "There. That ain't so bad, is it?"


Charles Xavier totally does not have a class on how to pick up girls, or how proper wing(wo)men behave. They don't include throwing a redhead at ten thousand plus feet at another boy, and then peeling off to a dramatic vertical trajectory going two hundred miles an hour for lofty altitude that means a backwards freefall is all the more fun. Scarlett throws with particularly good aim and force; anyone who says throws like a girl hasn't seen a ball pulverized in their chest by the force of a solid object meeting an almost invulnerable one. She and Colossus are going to have so much fun if they ever meet. In the meantime, there is a well timed toss to Cannonball that leaves Jean momentarily and truly airborne, suspended by no more than her own luck and will. Merriment follows the spinning top in a hooded cloak, the emerald sylph twirling as she commands the skies for a brief instant. That rapid movement has a double purpose, to give her enough of a headstart to catch either should they fall.

Seeing as how Sam can catch a hint, especially a hint with red hair and telepathically long reach, Scarlett enters the narrow free fall she's been craving since the hour she was born. The dive backwards uses her knit fingers to slice through the air, deflecting currents up her streamlined body. Acrobatics naturally will follow, as she topples forward into a wobbling succession of somersaults and pulls up to simply feel the gravitation forces snap her around like a rag doll. It's all fast, horrifyingly fast, at speeds which should shear limbs from her body and cause her to black out. But it doesn't, clearly not, because those manoeuvres happen so fast they must be instinctive and a manifestation of her self-confessed curse.

No, the self-confessed cursing is where they go. "What in the Three Weavers' names is /that/?" Of course, they can't hear.

They're blowing themselves up into the sparkle shiny's path of doom. See Scarlett. See Scarlett waving furiously. Oh, doesn't she look so excited! She's waving! Yay!


As the saying goes, it's either now or never. If her parents knew what she was up to? There would be millions of calls to Charles and a promise to sue the ever living daylights out of him. But what the man doesn't know won't hurt him. Right?

The push and throw was hard. Hard in the sense that she had to gain momentum, to follow in that line of where Scarlett's aim was true. There was no time to flail, to kick, only the high pitched squealing shriek of enjoyment passes through her lips marks her impending arrival into Sam's arms. And boy do they clash!

It didn't knock the wind out of her sails, but it does allow her to snap her arms around his neck and legs around his waist. It was a near desperate spider monkey attachment that says if he falls? She would too. You go down, I go down! And then *POW*!

It was amazing, it was like a shield that was of Sam's own making protected her from the powerful blast of his power, shooting them up high and into the clouds in which she ducks her head to take a breath. No dusty desert in those eyes or nose of hers! And then she finally looks around, a loud laugh upon her lips as she tries to search and suss out where Scarlett was. "No! It's not!" She hollars out, seeing the wave from Scarlett from her position and offering one back as well!

"Look at her! She's really pretty, isn't she? HI!" She screams out, then laughs.


His hue a healthy pink of excitement rather than the scalding red of shame, for once, Sam grins giddily with his chin on Jean's shoulder and answers, "Absolutely gorgeous," without looking down. It's the moment of purest happiness the farm boy has had since arriving for his new life at Xavier's. The pair sweep through a cloudbank, getting a brief reminder of the violent power on the other side of the blast field when the mist is forcibly knocked in all directions away from them, creating a growing column of clear, turbulent air surrounded by worried wisps of fog. In all honesty, flying is the last thing on Sam's mind right now.

A second later, he's reminded why that is a terrible idea.

The poor, steering-disabled flier barely has a second to register what's about to happen and instinctively (if unnecessarily) throw a guarding arm up over Jean before the pair smash into a metallic superpressure balloon, fabric and fragments of the airframe splintering and smashing around them. A second after they plow out the other side, Sam moans and cuts his thrust. "Jumpin' Jesus H Christ, what was THAT?!" he wails.


The beauty of freedom compels man to reach for the moon and abandon his terrestrial home. Ask any Air Force pilot what he experiences and the answers will boil down to what Scarlett herself practices in meditation: a kind of nirvana. However, the glorious wonders of the morning sun glancing off clouds wisping into soft forms rotund as any heap of freshly mashed potatoes come second to trying, without success, to warn her friends they are about to smash into something very much physical.

The copper-haired bohemian tries to ascend in a way that won't cut out Sam's escape routes, assuming he has the least idea. She cannot intersect his plane of movement on the horizontal without knowing his speed, and that means interpreting what he will do and if there's one thing she is not, that's precognitive. Math yes, precognition no.

On the other hand, the air completely cracks open when the pair disappear into the cloud cover. Wind slaps her in the face, her narrowed eyes stinging as she tries to follow the sound. Experience of looking around at high velocity helps somewhat. Sound will not serve her nearly so well unless it comes from the velocity crack of a jet fighter (or herself, for that matter…), or Charles shouting at the top of his lungs that the Greys would love to know why their daughter is up there.

She hurls herself straight up into the air, spiralling around. "You get twenty points if you took out bloody Devil-cursed Sputnik!" she snarls.

"This is soooo amaaaziii…"


Whatever happiness that Jean had in that moment was gone in that second. To the point she busts out into tears. "OWwww.."

This is where we'll freeze everything and go through a detailed explanation. Given that Sam's powers protect him from impact and those he holds close, Jean didn't feel a thing. But there is a lesson in a certain type of shock and fear that makes everything painful. It reduces a young woman, aged twenty-three into a seventy year old with a bad back. That shock and fear radiates down to the legs and makes those ears ring, which is a viable reaction for her hands unlacing quickly from Sam's neck to press against her head.

And what do you get when that twenty-three year old, who never really has flown before, and spent close to eight years in a mental institution surrounded by people who may have just been a little bit crazy and popping sounds that were right inside of her head as they fixed her with a bit and pressed those tongs to her head?


Really, that's all she heard. And it reduces her down to tears.

"I wanna go home!" She belts out. "I wanna go home! I wanna go home! I don't want to do this anymore! I wanna go home! I wanna go home!" It was like a chant, a cadence, one that assaults them if they were open to such machinisms to practically witness and feel what she felt the moment the electroshock therapy took place. The ever buzz in the ear, the sound of your skull cracking, even rose the sound of your teeth breaking against metal and wood.. vice versa.


"Naw, Jean, we're okay! We can't get—" Guthrie's voice cuts out mid-reassurance as Jean's instinctive psychic lashing batters through him. His hands, of their own accord, mirror the girl's motion and press against the side of his head. Whether this is from her direct influence or his own reflexive attempt to shut out the buzzing, sparking pain she's transmitting, the end result is that neither of them is holding on to the other. They peel apart in the air, toppling uncontrolled along with the wreckage of the balloon they just destroyed.

Guthrie doesn't know what's happening. If he did, he might be able to bring the strong positive feelings of a moment ago back to the surface, overwhelm Jean's panic with his own happiness. He might be able to create a mental pattern: a simple mantra that would stabilize his emotional state and put his consciousness back in charge. He might simply try to reassure Jean through her panic, ignoring her illusions the best he could.

But he hasn't the slightest idea, which means he has no defense.


Pain, terrible pain, comes piercing through the broken psychic landscape that contains bits and pieces of the girl calling herself Scarlett. Sweet revenge plunders the frostfire in her face, the zipping lines of air cutting through her cloak and repelled by the catsuit wrapping her from throat to toe. She convulses to that unexpected benediction, rising against her flesh and cutting over every synapse in muted melody. Her flawed soul revolts and churns upon itself, the abyssal coils wracked and spasming to throw off the unwanted violation even as some part of her faulty double helix might crave the touch denied.

Telepathic invasions, where she is involved, always go slant. Fractured pieces of selves who never were, borrowed memories and stolen lives, throw back a cacophonous pandemonium wail within her skull on a psychic wavelength. Unless attempting to tune it, they aren't broadcast outside. But imagine brilliant cut diamonds intercepting light, trapping some inside, letting more out, and that's a little like what happens when a focused beam of attack hits her. A bit rattles around, and whole lot ends up lost, and the rest of the energy dissipates.

It means she can hold together long enough to tear through the stratosphere, embracing the fuzzy, frozen agony, the electric charge. Little Miss Sunshine dropping like a stone has the other redhead on a collision course to snap her up in a hug and carry her on a slowing sine-wave pattern, even if that wild pathway is going to be entirely and totally dictated by not being thrown entirely off base.

She may hurt, may convulse, but all those piled up curses have to be worth something.

History re-written.

If there ever was a linguist who would be able to recall this moment and to come up with a word to fit into the latest dictionaries, they would call this: The Drama Queen. Jean's full of it, chalked up with a bad past, ignorance, lacking of people skills and forced isolation. PTDS, bad sounds, defeatism and fatalism. She can never be happy because something would always bring her there. Something would always draw her back to those years where her hair was matted and she practically twisted her head in three-hundred-and-sixty degree angles and vomitted pea soup on the orderlies.

Hey. It was bound to happen sooner or later!

The warm and fuzzies would have been a great thing from Sam. His come in fathoms, even the breakneck joy of Scarlett's flight patters had done her justice. And it all ended with a pop.

Being caught by Scarlett was one thing, but what about Sam!? Jean wasn't able to snap out of her torrential downfall to at least try to grasp ahold of them during their freefall. But she did manage to kick out as she's being hugged by Rogue, those accented swears penetrating her brain enough to make her laugh maniacally through her sobs. The assault was quick, but it was ever lasting. It still lingered on her mind and a horrid guilt now soon begins to grab her. Could anyone else feel it? The crushing pain of her chest as her heart breaks into a million pieces? (Bi-polar, much?!)

Oh yeah.. someone grab Sam!


Sam Guthrie is falling. Curled up, clutching his head, battered and tumbled by the wind he was free to embrace or smash aside a second ago.

Associations are a strange thing. The human mind links scents, sounds, and sensations to the emotions they inspire and the memories they create. Any one of the set, dredged to the surface, drags the others along with it. Throw in the psychic contact of two minds, and there's a whole new dimension: the web is squared. Jean isn't just throwing off the feeling of pain and the noise of the electrodes: she's sending out wave upon wave of her purest fear. In Sam's mind, unlike Scarlett's, that fear finds a clear path to reverberate along: his own pattern of associations. The harsh buzz finds its echo in dull, thudding impacts; the burns kick up choking clouds of coal dust; the spark finds its reflection in the purest darkness ever to pierce the human eye.

This is how my father died.

In his head, the fatal phrase is the coldest of affectless certainties. In his voice, it's a ragged scream, lost in moments as the boy lashes outward with everything in him. With something he once didn't even know he had — something that once saved his life. Just like that, Sam's gone, knocking clouds aside, leaving nothing behind but an echoed roar. He'll be over the horizon before he knows it. In time, he'll find his way back.


If it comes down to it, Scarlett could take them both. But saving one will mean subjecting the other to terror induced by memories dredged out of her fractured life. She's already at the first point in the turn, swinging up out of the initial arc that would cross the invisible contrail left behind her to find Sam. Sam Guthrie, the laughing boy, freckled face, foot in mouth.

Then the static crack hits the ears, and the ripple follows, knocking ions and floating mutants a little off-kilter. He is gone, and her vast, troubled eyes glint unnaturally green in the sunlight.

Already they're losing altitude at a rate that would alarm a pilot, send them into emergency measures to control a descent. Speed is less the factor than the ratio of descent and angle. "Jean," she murmurs, over and over again. There is no explicit knowledge of comfort. She has never been a mother. She doesn't whisper to horses. She is simply a young woman in the first blush of love, distraught by another person's pain, someone so utterly cursed she cannot — must not — touch by bringing her cheek to the redhead's scalp. But she can hug her all the same, the hood a barrier against subtle touch. Active efforts to touch her, that will be another matter entirely. So she tries.

"We're going home. We're going down. Can you open your eyes? Home," she repeats, drawing those widening and narrowing spirals above the lush, green countryside of the county. "There's the Institute, back home. I'll slow down if you need me to or we can speed up, but it's safe. You are safe. We'll never let you down. Promise. Shh, it's safe…"


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