1963-08-01 - The Giants of Genesis I
Summary: Camping with Sam in the woodlands, Jean has a frightening dream that leads her into a cavern containing a terrifying secret.
Related: Into the Woods
Theme Song: None
cannonball jean 

It's slipping on toward night. The sun is just setting, creating a dazzling reflective display on the surface of the lake, just visible in the distance through the trees. After the pair set up their tents and gathered brush and fallen trees for a fire, Sam settled in to catch fish in the stream. As it's not all that exciting, and he was gently insistent that using his blasting or her telekinesis to catch supper would be cheating, he let Jean bed down for a nap.

The southerner had pretty good luck, and has already caught and cleaned a couple of decently sized trout. They're sizzling on a little wire grate over the fire under his watchful eye, so fresh that he hasn't even buried the innards yet. He plans to wake Jean with dinner as soon as it's ready, but in the meantime, he'll let her rest. She has had a pretty eventful day.


Darkness, whispering, all around. Jean can feel dry veins deep in the earth, bloodless and still. They gather toward a dusty heart under the hills: a pained throb where a pulse should beat.

A voice, barren and creaking with age: "Young one."

As soon as Jean perceives that earthwork heart, she's there — a cave by the lakeside, a jagged fissure in the ground. The shadows seem to flow from it, exhalations of a god long buried.

"Come to me," that woeful voice continues. "Worship at my altar."

Jean can feel the ground itself, dragging her toward the cave mouth. She is frozen with fear. A pair of bright eyes blaze in the darkness, lighting morose, downward-curving sunbursts etched onto craggy cheeks.

"My fire… my sacrifice… come to me…"


Jean awakens from the nightmare with a start.


It was like a sort of death; that ill tempered fear. Being unable to wake and thrashing in that spot that you lay in. Well, the feeling of thrashing, where you imagine your limbs and legs kicking, your body rocking back and forth but everything felt as if it were hard pressed by a boulder that keeps you locked in place. Even screaming.. it sounds like a whimper.. the constricting press .. the way she couldn't breathe.. the.. the..

"SAM!" She finally screams out, her arms a brief flail which sends the spokes of her own tent bursting from the ground with a loud explosion. The sheet of it, slowly floats to the ground, trapping her in it's horrid embrace, her feet kicking and fingers scratching at the tarp like fabric as she screams bloody murder.


The collossal effect of her thrashing and flailing about, the fear of the nightmare drawing nearly almost all wildlife to converge right to the point of origin.


Sam glances over at the first rustling from Jean's tent. At first, it just sounds like she's waking up, and he smiles, removing the fish from the fire and sliding it onto the little mess-kit plates he had set aside for the purpose.

But then, Jean cries out, and a telekinetic whirlwind collapses her tent right on her. Without even a thought for his own safety, Sam drops the makeshift grill and bolts over, whipping tent fabric aside to pull the girl free from her constriction. "Ah'm here, Jean, Ah'm here!" he tells her, voice loud but carrying as much reassurance as he can put into it. "It's alright — Ah'm here!"

As soon as she's free, he's going to gather her into his arms, running his hands down her back and repeating quiet, simple reassurances. "You're okay, Jean. It was just a bad dream."


That burst of energy and fight took a lot out of her. By the time the cloth of the tent was free from her, she was in his arms, clinging to the neck of Sam with huffed and tired breaths. There was a quiet whine that drew from her breath as she tries to calm herself, her cheek pressed to his, her eyes squeezing shut tight as she tries to curl into a tiny, tight and safe ball within his lap.

"It.. it felt so real.. It felt so real.." She constantly repeats. "It.. it's real.. I swear it.."


"Okay. That's okay," Sam answers. He has comforted many a younger sibling through the aftermath of a nightmare, but he has never felt quite this fierce protectiveness. He sits back on his haunches, holding Jean securely, stroking her hair. "It felt real — but you're safe with me now. Let's think this through, now that you're awake, and we'll see if the fright don't go out of you a little, now that you're clear-headed."

He leans back, lowers his head, and looks at her with his bright blue eyes and a gentle smile. "What did you see, Jean? Just talk me through it a step at a time."


Jean keeps her arms around him, her head laying upon his chest as her bottom lip trembles. Green eyes go nearly vacant as she tries to recall the memory of the dream. It was fleeting.. disappearing from her with each moment that passes.. but the feeling remains the same.

"I.. I don't remember.." She confesses, her arms slowly drawing away so that she could curl into herself as he holds her.

"But.. it felt wrong. Like.. someone was calling me.. you know? Or.. like it knew me. Something.." She lifts her eyes, staring out towards the rippling waters of the creek. "It.. it was so strange and intoxicating.."


"You were bein' called away by somethin' bad," Sam says with a slow nod. "Ah've had dreams like that." He gives her a reassuring smile. "Ah thought there was a trap door in the corner of my room once, full of skeletons. Went and pulled up the carpet, just to prove to myself it wasn't really there. Pa was good 'n mad when he found out — but Ah felt better, knowin' for sure it wasn't real."

He holds her snugly again, rocking her back and forth ever so slightly, in time with her breathing. "Was there anythin' you remember from the dream? Somethin' we can go and look and say, 'yep, that ain't real'?" He offers this suggestion brightly. "Ah'll bet that would make you feel better. And at the very least, a bit of walkin' around will get your mind off it."


Jean felt like such a big baby, but she was genuinely scared. The way she nods brushes her cheek against his chest repeatedly, feeling cool and calm as she closes her eyes to focus on her breathing. "Really?" She asks, her voice lightening just a touch, a little laughter drawn out as she draws her arm around his waist.

"I suppose. I .. remember a voice. Usually the one that I.. nevermind." She clears her throat, shifting away from his lap to crawl towards the opening of what used to be her tent. "I remember a statue with glowing eyeballs." She confesses. "At least I think it was? I mean, it had a weird outline. Like it wasn't a person, but I think it really was a statue." She clears her throat, then begins to look around at the mess that was made. "Can.. we eat first? Maybe fix the tent.. unless.. you want me sleeping with you?"

She grins at that, playfully wiggling her eyebrows. "I snore loud."


Blood rushes to Sam's entire face. He moves to follow Jean to the tent, then thinks better of it and stays seated. "Uh. Ah mean. If you're scared, you can… move your sleepin' bag into my…" He trails off, mouth slack. He knows this much: when you fully unzip two sleeping bags, you can lay them on top of each other and zip them together into a double. Up until this point, that knowledge has been purely theoretical, with no perceived practical application outside his wildest fantasies. (Sam has fairly tame wild fantasies.) "You can…"

His wide blue eyes blink twice. "You can eat," he says in a pinched voice. He stands — hunched over a bit — and spins around, marching back toward their campfire and the relative safe activity of serving some nice, innocent grilled fish.

Overhead, the stars are starting to come out as night descends over the woodland. In the distance, a warm glow is still visible: electric lights from the Xavier Institute, near enough to reassure, far enough for them to feel alone.


"Well.. I don't know where those thingies are.." Jean says, finally standing to her feet as she begins to move the fabric around with a foot. "You know, those stick things.." She had probably blown them off miles from there, who knows where they could have landed. And that seemed to be a primary worry for her. "I'm not scared.. but.." They kissed right? Maybe.. no. It really was a bad idea to try to sleep next to him right after. "..it's okay. We have time to find those rods before we actually go to bed tonight bu.."

And, he was off. Marching off for fish, Jean frowns just a little then looks up over the trees, her head shaking as she puts herself to the task of finding those rods herself. Every few paces or so? She kicks a bit of a rock, even lowering upon her hands and knees to feel along the ground for a little bit of salvation or.. safety to sleep alone. Because sleeping alone was safe.. right?


Jean frowns just a little, her head lifting.. "Sam?" She leans back now, her bottom settling upon her bare feet. "Is that you?"


When Jean turns, it's not Sam she sees. It's not anyone. Without really paying attention, she's made her way down to the lakeside, her path taking her farther into the hills at a diagonal from the stream. There's a little path of pebbles — not unlike the ones she has been kicking — leading up the hillside a ways, to a patch of shadows so deep, it's hard to believe that they're being cast by simple moonlight. A few of the pebbles are still skittering downward, as if they've been recently disturbed: the sound that drew her attention. Perhaps some wild animal just ran past…?

Back in the circle of firelight, Sam stands up, a plate of fish in each hand. He turns back to the tents, lopsided grin in place. "Jean? Supper's on," he says gently, walking back to discover that her tent is still collapsed and the girl nowhere to be found. He frowns, eyebrows descending in concern. "Jean?"


Jean turns around in a three-sixty degree angle, the frowns still apparent as she reaches up to jam her fingers onto the bridge of her nose. "Ow.." She had left her glasses in the tent. But with her so distracted she had lost the trail and the path to get back, not that she was actively looking for a way back without that tent rod to fix her.. space. "Who's there?"

She waits, then shakes her head a little, moving along the path of fallen debris with a quiet little hum. With her hands outright, keeping her balance as she walks upon a fallen log, a rush of black passes through her vision which makes her stop abruptly and gasp, one leg struck out as her arms flail to try to catch her balance within the air. But alas, she falls right upon her bottom, skidding just a touch as she makes contact with the ground. "OW.. dangit!" She mutters to herself, slowly rolling towards her knees, her hands drawn behind herself to dust along her backside.

"Okay.. this isn't funny anymore! Jubilee? Scarlett?" She grunts as she gets to her feet. "Logan?"


Only silence answers Jean's call. That shadow that darted past her seems to have joined in with the larger patch of darkness on the hillside. Wait… That's not a shadow.

It's a cave mouth, jagged rocks bordering each side. The path of pebbles making her footing unsure leads straight into it. Perhaps the path is from stone, weathered inside the cave? That doesn't explain how it got outside, though. There's a whisper of dripping water from the depths: slow, quiet. It feels like there's another whisper at the back of her mind. The cavern seems inviting enough…


"Someone.." Jean murmurs quietly, her eyes half lidded as she slowly begins to walk.

It was a calling, that metaphysical tug and pull that sent her gaze lowering just enough for her to appear asleep, yet the psychic focus of that call was drawing her near. Her mind wasn't allowed to wander as much; like.. why she didn't wear any shoes this far away from camp. What was she doing /this/ far away from camp.. why was her stomach growling.. it.. was slightly cold..

There wasn't even a look backwards as she enters into the darkness of the cavern.. no hint of hesitation, no act of resistance..


Starlight alone bleeds into the cave; mere yards past the entrance, it is absolutely dark. Yet Jean's bare feet find a path, gentle turns taking her downward through what should be unnavigable shadow. The subterranean chill seems unnatural in this warmest of months, but though she might recognize it in a clinical way, Jean is insulated from the pure physical sensation of cold creeping over her skin.

When she gets to a certain point, she simply knows it's where she should be: there is no impulse to advance any further. But there, in the darkness, a bloodless voice addresses her. "Young one," it whispers, straight into her mind. "Worshiper. Sacrifice." She feels the beginnings of a tickle at the back of her brain.

Something slams into Jean from behind: a tangle of limbs and sudden, bright light. Hands grasp her shoulders, turning her to face her attacker.


Even if the drawl weren't immediately identifiable, the anxious face, underlit by a dropped flashlight, would be unmistakable: it's Sam! "Heard you callin' out, and Ah followed your voice," he explains in a rush. "What the heck are you doin' down here? Ah was worried sick!"


It was the sweetest feeling. Like being wrapped in a cool embrace that staves off the heat of life and the chill of death. There was a middle ground here, one that relaxes her.. massages her.. draws her arms down to her side as she walks along with a dragging of her feet..

"M..Master?" She mumbles out, her arms slowly lifting as her lips part, her head drawing back as she prepares to offer all of herself and more. Her life. It was a .. godsend. She already had thoughts of leaving this life behind until that kiss. Giving it all up.. suffering no more..

The assault draws a shrill breath from the girl, her eyes nearly rolled back into her head, her knees buckling as she begins to scream and lightly smack away at his chest. "STOOP!" She barks, but.. it was Sam! His voice.. it brought her back to the here and now.. slightly drowsed.. confused.

"Oh..I .. I don't know.." And she truly didn't, the most heart breaking thing is the lost look upon her face, and the way she crumbles before him in a matter of seconds into tears.. "S.. something is wrong.."


"I'll say somethin's wrong," Sam answers, wrapping his arms around her tightly, offering his strength to hold her limp form upright. There's not even a thought of disbelief, of suspicion or blame. Jean's fear is real and Sam doesn't question it for a moment. "We're gettin' you out of here right now. Just hold on, Jean, I'll—"

Without warning, Sam stops mid-sentence. In a sudden, instinctive, protective motion, he steps past Jean and swivels, so that he is between her and something he is staring at behind her. The beam of the fallen flashlight meanders across the uneven floor, creating large pools of shadow against stark yellowish light. Before it hits the cavern wall, however, it falls brightly on something else: mottled gray, with a texture like stone, it is nonetheless unmistakably a huge, motionless, bare leg. The circle of light barely reaches past the knee, which is at Jean's waist height.

Breathless seconds pass. Nothing in the cave moves; there is no sound but the rattling of the mutants' breath and that steady, distant drip. Peeling one arm away from Jean, but keeping the other wrapped around her, Sam crouches, inch by inch, to wrap his hand around the flashlight and lift it. As soon as he makes contact, the beam starts to shake in his nervous grip, but it moves upward, glacially, to reveal the rest of the body: a naked giant, nearly twelve feet tall, either petrified or carved from stone.

"My God," Sam breathes. "The giants of Genesis."

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