1963-07-27 - Cannonball Walkabout
Summary: Sam finally returns to the institute.
Related: None
Theme Song: Fly Me to the Moon
cannonball jean 

When Sam Guthrie got back from his nearly week-long walkabout, he took just long enough to shower and change before setting out to find Jean Grey. He headed for her room with determination, purpose, and a five-day start on a beard: unlike the shower, he judged shaving more time-consuming than it was worth.

Of course, Guthrie didn't really think through the fact that Jean, being a girl, would have her room in the girls' dormitory, meaning that he would have to walk through the girls' dormitory to get to it. At which point he — a boy — would be visiting a girl in her bedroom. In front of a bunch of other girls. Reactions from passers-by range from total disinterest to not even noticing, but each encounter erodes Sam's confidence as he progresses down the miles-long hallway toward Jean's door.

He arrives with no determination and his purpose mostly forgotten. (The scruff is more persistent.) With a bob of his adam's apple, the lanky boy raps his knuckles on the door, rapidly and more quietly than he intended. "Jean?" he calls out in a croaky voice.


The morning was spent fidgeting. Fidgeting in so much that she couldn't even lay down without properly crying. She was sore. Bruised all over. The little scorpion stings wrapped up in bandages that held bandaids and her arm? Nearly bruised to hell and back, mangled as it was, was put into a cast and slung against her body to cradle protectively. And it all hurts.

She refuses pain medication for a reason, only taking asprin for the swelling.

The soft knocks upon the door has her lifting herself with a slight wince, an effort of a grunt, her bare feet swinging to the ground as she drags her tail towards the door, her hand reaching out to tug the door open with a little bit of a huff. "Huh?" Oh. Oh. Why didn't she scan.. "Sam?!" She nearly shrieks out, "SAM!" Sam sam sam! She spent -days- going back and forth to his room and he finally beat her to the punch!

"You're back!" She leans in, one arm, the good one, reaching around his neck to try to pull him into a tight hug.


"Jean?!" Sam blurts out in surprise when he sees her state. He offers no resistance to the hug — in fact, moving gingerly so as not to hurt her, he returns it, arms snaking around her shoulders, cheek against her hair. His embarrassment is completely forgotten as protective instincts override it. In fact, his entire purpose for being here is forgotten. "What in the heck happened to you?" he asks, shock mingling with worry in his voice. After a long second to hold her, he reluctantly pulls away, taking in her injuries again with a sympathetic wince while keeping his hands on her shoulders.


Where there was a need to cry, she does it! Though, not full body, wracking sobs that would break any heart, just the sorrowful tears that fall upon her cheeks and a hitch of her breath as she speaks. "I'm so glad you're home. I went to your room almost every night. I couldn't hear you. You know, like hear you inside of my head or like.. feel how happy you were when you'd cook in the kitchen. I haven't been in the kitchen yet. It's horrible.." Not the kitchen, but Sam not being -in- it. It was horrible.

Though, his question, it has her pulling away, her shoulders raising to shrug his hands free as she steps aside, leaning against the door with a tip of her head to the side so that he can enter. "I.. it's.." She sniffles slightly. "I.. we were.. attacked and.. Sam.. I lo.." She steps away from the door then, stumbling into her room to flop upon the bed, her head hung low.


Sam steps into Jean's room in a daze, concerned blue eyes fixed on her as she stammers through her answer and finally drops on the bed. He follows and seats himself on the edge of the bedspread, his back to her and his shoulders hunched. "Jean, Ah'm so sorry. Ah wouldn't've stayed away if Ah knew all this was happenin'. It was selfish of me."

He twists at the waist and reaches out to hold her uninjured shoulder and give it the gentlest squeeze he can manage. "Ah'm back now, and Ah ain't going anywhere. Take it slow and tell me what happened a little bit at a time, and if you need to stop to cry, that's just fine. Someone attacked you?" Sam's soft drawl is gentle and reassuring, but there's steel underneath this last sentence.


Jean shakes her head. "No.. it wasn't.. you did what you needed to do an.. I shouldn't have came with you all. It was all my fault too." She sniffs loudly, leaning over with a wince to pick up a box of tissues, carefully dabbing at her nose as she looks towards him. Having Sam here was a reminder of her needing isolation, not friends.. not family, nor anything could help her with her afflictions.

Though, the story of how this all happened again came up, she keeps her head lowered, her fingers playing with the ones within her deadened, broken arm with quiet murmurs. "I.. just wanted to go outside.." She says quietly, her bare feet digging into the floor. "Maybe just go for a walk and get some ice cream.. and it felt good, you know? Just.. being away from everything for once. Maybe get some ice cream.." She laughs sadly, her hands lifting to dig the heel of her palm into her eye.

"I.. I turned the corner and.. there was a protest.. I don't know why I didn't just go back home but.. I just tried to get through and.."


Jean's insistence on isolation jogs a memory for Sam, and he shakes his head. "Jean, that ain't right. You don't have to hide yourself away. That ain't on you." He reaches out tentatively, trying to wipe at her tears with his thumb, a gentler gesture than the forceful ones she uses on herself. "Listen, Ah don't know if you know this, but Ah got… flashes of what happened to you, back when we were flyin'."

He shifts around to face her more directly, one thigh raised up to lie on the mattress. "Jean, those men? They were wrong. They were wrong to do what they did, and they were wrong about the way they wanted you to feel about yourself." He hangs his head, his own eyes starting to gleam, and continues, "The reason Ah had to leave is because Ah just… Ah couldn't believe people would do something that awful. Not to anyone, and especially not to you. It made me feel… scared, Ah guess, at first. But then Ah just felt sad."

He takes a deep breath, his shoulders shaking, and adds, "Ah ain't good with words, so Ah can't really say it right. But Ah know that you deserve to not be scared. You can go flyin' with me any time." He pauses, glances down at her sling, and then flashes a lopsided, rueful smile at her. "Maybe bring some backup the next time you go to a protest, though."


She lets him, leaning a little bit into his thumb but still, her shoulders remain slumped. That was a little part of her that no one else has seen, the electroshock therapy, how her teeth nearly cracked and shattered upon the bit in her mouth and how she had bruises for days but.. oddly enough. Everything was peaceful. Sometimes she missed that. Her hand reaches up to rub lightly against her temple as she stares off, a soft little whimper heard as she looks to him.


She lets him, leaning a little bit into his thumb but still, her shoulders remain slumped. That was a little part of her that no one else has seen, the electroshock therapy, how her teeth nearly cracked and shattered upon the bit in her mouth and how she had bruises for days but.. oddly enough. Everything was peaceful. Sometimes she missed that. Her hand reaches up to rub lightly against her temple as she stares off, a soft little whimper heard as she looks to him.

"Sam.. I.. I think they did what they could for me at the time.. and.. I think.. it was last resort and.. maybe they were scared, I don't know but.." She leans forward, her left arm lifted, her good elbow supporting her weight as she hunches. And then she laughs, shaking her head slightly. "Maybe…"

"It was more'n that though. Like.. everyone, I could feel everything. Like the whole world was a raw nerve and picking at my own and I didn't know who I was." She pauses a little, holding her breath before she speaks, letting it out in an inhale. "There was just all this anger. This hate. We were being pushed towards an exit it felt like. Then, all of the sudden, I felt something crawling on me." She shudders. "And then it started to stab me. And maybe others, I don't know.. but it turned into total chaos and mayhem and I fell and everything hurt and.. there was blood and I just.. I just snapped Sam. I.. I just snapped.." Her hand covers her face out of pure shame.

"What.. I.. I could just see everything happening and people were.. oh god Sam.. they were so.. I.." Now.. now she was blubbering.


Sam might not be a great with words, but he makes up for it by being a good listener. Attentive and sympathetic, he watches Jean as she explains what happened. His eyebrows lower, expression skeptical, when she offers up excuses for the doctors who tormented her. He felt the fear she felt. He isn't as quick to forgive as she apparently is. Still, he doesn't argue with her; he just lets her talk her way through it.

When she talks about things crawling on her, he lowers his hand to hers, giving it a reassuring grip. "Machines? Ah think Ah saw one. Jubi brought it home — said it bit her." Hoping to forestall any fear, he quickly adds, "We locked it up, down in the Danger Room. Thought we might be able to learn somethin' from it. There's some writin' we're gonna try to translate."

As she starts to sob, he lowers his head, looking directly at her, trying to share his calm and his sympathy. He doesn't know much about psychics, but given what she said about 'feeling' him in the kitchen, maybe it'll help. "Hey, now. Jean? Listen. If there were machines crawlin' on me, bitin' on me? Ah'd panic, too. Anyone would. Ain't nothin' to be ashamed about, and it ain't your fault." He squeezes her hand. "So take a second, alright? Settle a little bit. You can keep goin' when you're ready."


Hearing that Jubilee actually has a machine actually makes her stiffen. She rocks a little back and forth, the pens upon her little desk begin to roll and clatter to the floor as she chair itself scrapes across the surface. Even if it was locked up, she was still scared. Now she really didn't want to leave her room out of fear, what if it got out? "I.. don't let it get me.." Even though it wasn't after her, that fear? It.. was terrible.

But she scoots over as he consoles her, leaning against him along with her head upon his shoulder as she dabs a little at her cheeks. "I.. it's foggy." She waves her hand a little. "I.. exploded. Literally. There were…" She frowns a little, holding out her good hand for him to take. She'd rather show him..


"It's broken, Jean. Broken, and wrapped up, and locked away in a bunker where it won't escape," Sam assures her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. He leans away for a second to smile encouragingly at her. "Heck, if it'll make you feel better, we can go down there and you can smack it around a little with your powers. Don't even have to go in the room — just look through the window, and see it can't do you no harm."

When she offers her hand, he barely hesitates for a split second before touching his fingertips to hers. Whatever his experience in the sky did to him, it seems he's free from ongoing hangups related to it. "Ah know all about explodin'," he says. "Go ahead and show me."


Jean doesn't want to see it. She doesn't even want to get near it. Thinking about it even ..hurts.

So when she slowly draws her fingers against his, hooking thumb against thumb as she clasp the rest of her fingers along his own.

…And then he'll see it..

The shouting crowd and the firework display telling people to fan out..
..Jean reaching out for a native american woman to seek shelter with her..
The little mechanical scorpions stabbing her..
The look of her frail legs bloodied as she falls onto the floor..
Even the necklace that was given to her by the Submariner was snatched and broken. Her hand was seen holding onto it for dear life even though it was broken due to people trampling and maiming her..
Then the flash of light happens, people surrounding her fly away from her like bowling balls, held outward like they were frozen in time in that moment.
..And there was Jean, hovering in the air, her eyes near vacant as she slowly slid across the ground in a fit of raw, energetic anger.
..And the people were frightened. So, so frightened.

She was careful at drawing Sam out of that visage, her head lowering again in so much shame. So much that the emotional connection that went along with what she showed him remained and he could feel exactly as she did in that moment.


Sam Guthrie is no stranger to shame. From minor daily embarrassments right up through something he secretly considers a profound personal failure with devastating consequences for his family, he can empathize with what Jean is going through. So he doesn't try to tell her she didn't do anything wrong, or that she should get some perspective, or that he feels differently about what happened. She wouldn't believe him. It wouldn't matter.

He just holds her closely and says, "Ah saw it, Jean. Ah saw what happened, and Ah don't think any less of you."


"I know.."

Jean probably looks a mess, her face slightly swollen from all of the crying and red with the harsh wiping of the tissue. She still, keeps her head down, but nods ever so slightly. "I.. I don't think any less of you either. I'm.. I'm so sorry about your father.."


The boy's breath hitches as Jean comes right out and says it. Of course, it's out there. He can't deny it. So he shakily resumes his slow breathing and nods. "It's been real hard," he admits. That's all he'll say on the matter, but of course Jean knows a lot more than he has to say. "Ah'm sorry about what those doctors did. It ain't ever gonna be better — not really. Not for either of us. But Jean?" He locks eyes with her. "You're so much more'n what they thought. You ain't gotta be afraid forever." rt


Cannonball has left.


Cannonball arrives from Institute - 2nd Floor.


Cannonball has arrived.


Jean really didn't have a filter in her. When she saw things and it needed to be said, she was going to say it. Sometimes, she felt she should have had some regards towards other peoples feelings, but this time? She didn't. For in truth they both were a bunch of miserable sad sacks who were just victims of their own circumstances.

As they both lock eyes, Jean afixes herself appropriately. They were face to face now, her hand in his as she squeezes it ever so tightly. She was afraid; she had never spoken about this outloud but she felt a certain kind of safety in this moment. "But.. Sam.." She starts, bringing his hand to her chest to rest over her heart. "Y..you don't understand.. if I stop being scared and afraid.. I just know something bad is going to happen." She didn't try to break his fingers, but that squeeze was just tight. "I wish you could fly us to the moon and we could just stay there. It'll be so peaceful.." Though, her face does dissolve into something of painful laughter.

"Even if we're killed by the vacuum of space.." And boy does she giggle. And cry. It was insane almost.


Sam's eyebrows inch together across his freckled face, a dimple forming over his nose. "Well, Jean, Ah ain't no genius, so take this as you will… but it seems to me like just the opposite," he says tenderly. He's hesitant to contradict her, lacking confidence in his own guesses, but he doesn't want to leave this unsaid. "When we were flyin' along, not a care in the world, everythin' was wonderful until I was a datgum fool and ran straight into the only thing in the sky for miles. Then you got scared and things went bad. When you were at that riot, wasn't until you were frightened and hurt that you did somethin' you didn't mean to."

He lets her grip his hand just as hard as she wants. He gives a quick, gentle squeeze back, just to reassure her. "Ah never took you for a Sinatra gal," he says, ducking his head to catch her eye with a weak smile. "But anytime you want to play among the stars, just say the word. Ah'll drop what Ah'm doing. You know Ah can get there quick."


"Th.. the opposite?" Jean's eyes nearly grow owlish at the thought. "I.." Wow. He had her stumped. The owlish look soon fades into something.. something unrecognizable. She wasn't upset. No. She didn't even want to get up or throw a fit. She was truly considering his words and it truly, truly hit home. It.. made sense. Just like that. "Oh.."

Her hand slackens just a little from Sam's, her shoulders slumping, her eyes looking into his as she lets out a smile. It was genuine. Even if they were a little tired. But she grabs him up again to draw his hand upright to kiss his knuckles, then leans forward to rest her head upon his shoulders. "Let's.. tomorrow night?" With that proposal out there, she frowns just a little.

"Where did you go, Sam?"


A lopsided, uninhibited grin grows on Sam's face as he watches Jean's reaction. To see her sincerely smile again, to watch her really consider letting go of the fear that constrains her, to think that he helped — it makes him giddy, buoyant. A thrill of excitement colors his cheeks. For once, he feels like he could just float gently, instead of crashing through walls and bringing down buildings.

Let's be honest: the brush of her lips against his knuckles and her hair against his face? That helps. A lot.

"Tomorrow night," he echoes, grinning and leaning closer, then nodding and squeezing her hand. "Wherever you want to go."

Which does bring up the matter of destinations. He laughs, a little bit embarrassed — though, for once, not caught up in it — and reaches up with his free hand to scratch at his scrubby five-day shadow. "Ain't it obvious? Ah been bummin' around the woods for a while. Campin', you might say. Figured Ah'd look like a hand-to-God mountain man by now."


It was the scratches that make her kind of shrink away from him, though not too far, just enough to look at his chin -finally- and to reach out to brush the back of her knuckles against her cheek. "Well, no. I mean it could have been, I could have not asked but I wanted to hear it?" If that made sense. "But.. this kind of makes you look old. Not old old in a sense but wise." Maybe that's why he said what he said, it was the best thing anyone had ever pointed out to her.

"Now, for mountain men, I think you'd need like maybe a raccoon hat. And a bear pelt on your shoulders. Maybe a lion." She pokes at his side, then grins. "I.. I mean I know you were scared, and maybe a little bit sad.. but, why didn't you come home right away?" She sighs a little.

"I mean, we went on this.. mission of sorts that had like.. dead bodies and zombie like people and.." No, she wasn't going to say that last bit. "It was just bad, Sam."


Sam twists away from the poke, grinning and snickering. "Yup. Ah went into the woods and came back a wise man. Figured Ah'd change out of the lion skin before comin' to see you, though — lions are powerful smelly creatures, not fit for a lady's company. 'Specially them that live in New England."

As her questioning grows more serious, he too sobers a bit — although almost nothing can entirely dim his smile now. "Back home, when Ah was feelin' confused, or bad about something, or Ah just needed time alone, Ah'd go campin'. With ten brothers 'n sisters, ain't much space for thinkin' around the homestead," he explains. With a light shrug of his shoulders, he continues, "Ah had to think about what Ah'd … seen, so Ah just did what Ah always do. Can't deny Ah'm a creature of habit."

He sags a little bit and sighs. "Now, of course, Ah realize that was dumb. The school's huge. Got all the space Ah could want. Need to stay outside? Go a mile that way — you're still on Xavier's property, but you're deep in the woods." He shakes his head. "Truly, next time Ah'll stick around. May not be all that bright, but Ah do mean to be reliable."


Despite the serious nature of the conversation she's involved herself in, she does manage to crack a full blown laugh. Just imagining him rocketting off with a lion (dead no less) on his back was truly amusing, if she could clap her hands she would, but instead she finally disengages from him to smack her hand against her thigh. "Ow.." She laments, but.. still. She was grinning.

"I can relate, honestly. I have.. two sisters and two brothers. I don't think our house was ever quiet until the eldest two moved out and got married. But.. I'm just only speaking from second hand knowledge. I was in the hospital since I was fifteen.." She looks nearly vacant then, her eyes soon cast downward. "Was always loud there. No quiet time.."

Though, he does have a good point. The property was large and vast; another idea of what they could do within the comforts of their home comes to mind. "Can we go camping out there? I've never been camping.."


"Careful, now," Sam chides when she bumps one of her bruises. Grinning, he answers, "Of course we can go campin'. There's stuff we can borrow from the school, and Ah know some places in Salem Center that sell supplies, too, if you want your own." He gives a pleased little sigh just thinking about it. "We'll get tents and sleepin' bags and some fishin' poles and just wander off into the woods. Summer's a perfect time for it, too." Raising his eyebrows and leaning closer, he adds in a conspiratorial whisper, "We can even cheat a little. Won't take me but a minute to blast back here if we forget anythin'."

He tilts his head to one side, giving the other mutant a tender look. "Jean — you ain't in that hospital. You got out. And you're gonna live twice as much to make up for that lost time, y'hear? Campin', flyin', goin' out to quiet places in the mountains and visitin' noisy cities. Ain't nobody to stop you, and plenty who'll give you a hand if you need it."


"I'm being careful.." Jean snootily says. Playfully, of course. But the prospect of camping was too good to pass up. She does at least have some idea that she couldn't go right this second, there was still the initial swelling she had to go through. And probably permission from Charles, and maybe some babying from Moira.. something! But she was already conjuring things to do in her head, even as he feeds her little secrets about the cheating. "Ooooh.. you're right. Like if we want some soda. Or maybe a bag of chips or something.. you can just come back and get it.."

Man, she was ready. So ready. But she does cut him a look that almost seems sad, but she nods again. She can't be afraid. When she's afraid, people get hurt. "Okay. Okay. I know. We're going to do this." She smiles, then nods. "We should plan this. I'm going to read some books to see if there's some activities we can do. But.. in the meantime I need a nap. And.. Scarlett.. I think you should check in with her. Say hi. She probably misses you too, Sam."


Sam smiles and gives Jean a nod. "You rest up, Jean. Ah'll be sure to find Miss Rogue and let her know Ah'm back. It'd be intolerable rude to do any less."

He hesitates for a second, leaning about an inch closer toward her, then flashes a bashful, lopsided grin and eases up off of her bed. "You rest," he repeats, then turns and walks out, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he goes.

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