The Wings of the Phoenix
"She could be so much more." Erik sighs.
"She isn't ready. She will do more harm than good."
"You're always so careful. So guarded when it comes to our strengths."
"You don't want her running rampant, do you? Bringing chaos to the school, not to mention the risk of exposing our purpose."
"Don't be so gloomy, Charles, it doesn't suit you."
"Fine, let's have an experiment, shall we?"
"What do you propose?"
A few days later, Charles removes a small part of the blockade in Jean Grey's mind. He had promised Erik they would each be tutoring Jean in private to establish an idea of her powers. Charles will be the first to tutor her, in his office, in case the plan backfires. His telepathic abilities should be able to keep her in check. The lesson works like a charm. Jean is able to lift stacks of books, and even a small table. The bookcases are, fortunately, too much for her. The first time they had met her, Jean had raised several cars up into the air like they were leaves of paper. Erik had been fascinated, but Charles wasn't that enthusiastic about it. Jean Grey's unleashed powers could have devastating effects on humans and mutants alike. Better to guide her and slowly let her adapt.
The next day, it is Erik's turn. His private lesson is to be held in Charles' stepfather's bunker to secure safety and secrecy. Both he and Jean enjoy letting various pieces of metal fly through the large empty space. They have little contests. Who can lift the heaviest piece of metal? Who can make metal fly fastest? Most of the time Magneto wins, which boosts his ego a little, but also makes him realize she is nowhere near her real potential. After all, she should be able to lift cars.
"I think we should take it further."
"It's dangerous enough as it is."
"She should be able to do so much more. Think of the possibilities. Not only for her, but for all of us."
"Jean is still a child."
"No, she's becoming quite a young woman and she behaves responsibly. You don't give her enough credit."
Erik knows how to push his buttons. If anything, Charles wants his students to excel. Broaden their horizons, test their wings. "Very well, I suppose we could try it one more time." He had been quite careful last time, the blockade was still firmly in place, so it might be possible to repeat the procedure and give her a bit more space to develop her abilities.
This time Charles tested Jean's telepathic capacities. He let down his own guard completely, well almost, and lets her invade his mind. Or try to at least. Jean was able to see what he was thinking whilst doing small exercises, such as a recognizing a particular color or object. She couldn't enter more complex thoughts that he had simultaneously, for instance, her reaction time that he measured, or his longing for dinner. "You're doing very well. We'll combine the tasks next time. You'll need to recognize the object, its color and two or three of its characteristics."
Erik was pleasantly surprised as well. This was more like it. He pushed her to her limits and she was up to the challenge. Jean would make a great asset once she finished her education. They needed powerful mutants like her for their protection. He is very pleased with her progress as she won most of the challenges that afternoon. Erik figures it is best not to mention the slight tremor he sensed in the bunker walls when Jean was disappointed she hadn't won their final game: let an object of your choice soar through the air in a perfect number eight. Sleeping dogs and all that.
The lessons continue and Jean keeps on improving. She is relatively in control during her hours in Charles' study; perhaps his tranquil demeanor keeps her steady or her innate knowledge he has the means to stop her. During her lessons with Erik, however, she takes bigger risks and he encourages it. At times, it becomes hard to keep her temper under control. Jean is the most impressive when her emotions take over and Erik delights in seeing such a display of perfection.
Charles had discussed Jean's skills with Erik over lunch. He was impressed with her development. She was now able to read his mind on more complex matters. He is hesitant to teach her other skills, such as closing her mind against invaders, since he may need it to control her. Erik shares a bit about his lessons but deems it wise not to give a full account.
Today, they have sword fights in midair. An excellent exercise for precise telekinetic control. They are quite a match for each other, with both of them winning and losing in equal measure. It's an pleasurable way to spend the afternoon. As Jean gets worn out, her mood alters. She becomes vicious and takes her losses hard. Erik briefly wonders if their fighting is still a game. Of course, he is the teacher and has every confidence in his skills.
"Please, don't! Jean, stop it, now!" Charles hears Erik's voice screeching in his mind. As he quickly enters Erik's mind he is startled. A sword is pointed at his chest, millimeters away from his flesh. He jumps to Jean's mind and takes over. A few minutes later, he arrives at the bunker physically. Erik is still trembling and Jean has subdued.
"I think it is time to stop these lessons, don't you?"
Erik nods silently.