X-Men fan fiction
Chapter 1: Mayday
Chapter 2: Sunset Home
Chapter 3: Sunset Home, part II: Exam
Chapter4: Sleeping Rough
Chapter 5: The Bogarts
Chapter6: The Bogarts, part II: Glasses
Chapter 7: Xavier
Chapter 8: New Students
Chapter 9: Eve of Grey
Chapter 10: Grey Christmas
Chapter 11: Dilemma
Chapter 12: Confrontation
Chapter 13: Jack O'Diamonds
Chapter 14: Escape
That weekend Trisha and Richard Bogart took Scott to the air show, and Scott couldn’t remember ever having so much fun. They spent all morning wandering through the Air and Space Museum. Richard had already seen the behind-the-scenes tour on more than one occasion, but he tagged along with them while Trisha happily guided Scott from one exhibit to the next.
After that, they toured the hangars, where pilots and mechanics were busy prepping their planes for this afternoon’s show. That was the best part, by far. Scott couldn’t help being fascinated by the planes, and seeing them up close was absolutely amazing. Richard was amazed just listening to the two of them discuss where and when the vintage planes had been made, how they’d been used, what battles they’d flown in, how many years they’d served.... Scott knew as much or more about their histories as Trisha did. And Scott was the happiest that Richard or Trisha had ever seen him. That made both of them happy.
Scott kept his glasses off for most of the afternoon. Once the planes were in the air, he hadn’t wanted to miss anything. As a result his headaches had come back, but he had found that all he had to do to keep the pain under control was to wear the glasses for a little while. He had hardly noticed it after that. He felt so free, watching the planes soar overhead, soaking in every detail.
It was the perfect day.
As they walked out to the parking lot after the show, Scott didn’t have a worry in the world.... They had planned to go out to dinner together after the air show, but Scott had to admit that he was exhausted. Even though he didn’t say so, it was obvious to Richard and Trisha that his head was still bothering him, so they drove him home before they went for take out.
Richard paused on the front step. He had just unlocked the door to let Scott in, and Scott stood in the foyer looking out.
“You are going to be here when we get back, aren’t you?”
The thought had crossed Scott’s mind. But as much as he was tempted to avoid the goodbyes he knew were going to be difficult, Scott smiled and agreed to stay.
“Yeah. I won’t run out on you guys.”
“Good. We won’t be long.” Richard smiled back, then returned to the car.
Scott watched them drive away. Then he spent a couple of minutes walking aimlessly through the house. He found himself looking at family photos that lined the walls. It was a bittersweet exercise. Scott accepted that his time here was up. This wasn’t his home... but the fact that it was a home still fascinated him. And Scott was glad that he had gotten to experience this, at least for a little while.
He had no way of knowing that at that very moment Richard and Trisha were seriously discussing what it would take for them to keep Scott, or that they had been thinking of little else for the past twenty-four hours. By the time they had returned home that night, Richard and Trisha had every intention of making the arrangement permanent, assuming that Scott would accept their offer to adopt him.
Scott was lost in thought when he heard the sound of the front door opening, and he didn’t register the difference between a lock pick and a key turn.
“Nice place you got here.”
Scott wheeled, mentally kicking himself for getting too comfortable, for letting down his guard. Jack Winters stood there in the foyer, looking him over, head to toe.
“And you’ve cleaned up real nice too.” The lock turned back over when Jack closed the door behind him. “Me? I’ve been sitting in a holding cell for the past week, but I guess that’s no concern of yours, huh partner?” Jack took Scott’s stunned speechlessness as an invitation to come further inside. “Of course, at first, I figured it might take you a couple of days to raise bail, but now I can see you’ve got something a little different in mind.”
Scott swallowed hard. He could tell by his overly restrained tone that Jack was mad, and just short of dangerous mad. Scott had to navigate a very narrow playing field. He still had a chance at calming Jack down and getting him out of here, if Scott played this right. If he didn’t... well, this was going to get ugly real quick, and Scott didn’t want to think about the consequences.
“Listen, Jack, I was always gonna come back. But I would’ve been in the cell right next to yours if these suckers hadn’t taken pity on me. You can’t blame me for taking advantage of that,” Scott argued, taking a deep breath. “I swear, though, I didn’t forget about you – and I wasn’t holding out either. I just haven’t been able to get much of a foothold here yet. I’ve been try’n not to do anything that’ll raise their suspicions. But just a little more time... and I can have these suckers right where we want ‘em.”
Scott watched Jack’s emotions shift as Scott laid all that out. Predictably, his anger and suspicion were staring to fade now that he was seeing an upside for himself in all this.
“Don’t get me wrong, Slim.” Winters came closer, and it took every ounce of willpower Scott possessed not to back away in response. “I’m still real mad. You landed me in jail, and then you ran out on me when you found a better deal. But I’m not stupid. You and I, we’ll hash that out later. Right now, I’m willing to let it go, considering you’ve already cased this joint and gotten the marks out of the way for the night.”
Scott shook his head. “That’s not what I’m doing here.”
“It is now,” Jack responded.
“Jack. I’ll leave here with you. I’ll pick up business for you, same as before. But these are decent people. I’m not gonna let you steal from them.”
Scott knew he had just drawn a line in the sand, and he knew exactly how Winters would respond to it.
“You arrogant, ungrateful little–”
Scott didn’t try to get out of the way. Winters slapped him, hard enough to knock the glasses off his face. Scott heard them smash against the floor, and he suspected that had been part of Winters’ intention. Scott straightened and faced his former mentor stubbornly. It was going to take more than a slap in the face to break him. He was willing to stand up to Winters, take this, and refuse to yield.
“You’ve forgotten your place, Slim,” Winters growled. “I think you need a reminder.”
The next blow was a lot harder than a slap. Winters worked him over in earnest for the next couple of minutes, all the while reminding Scott, coldly and cruelly, of what he was and what he owed Winters. Finally he pinned Scott against the wall and held him there, his heavy-handed restraint steadily pushing the air from Scott’s lungs.
“You might think you can fool these do-gooders with a pretty face and a sad story, but I know different. You’re nothin but a street rat. Riffraff. Gutter trash – just like me,” Winters told him. “This nice, happy family – it’s nothin but an illusion. You’re not their son, and you never will be.”
Scott struggled to breathe. His eyes had glassed over, and he wasn’t entirely sure that was all physical reaction.
“Get– off me– Jack,” Scott demanded. That was the first time he had ever spoken back to Jack Winters. Scott didn’t care where the pieces fell after this. He wasn’t going back to the way things had been.
Jack cursed him, but stopped short of hitting him again. A split second later Scott understood why. He heard voices, and the sound of a door opening.
Scott broke loose from Winters’ grip enough to catch his breath and yell a warning for the Bogarts to stay out. Winters immediately grabbed Scott’s arm and jerked him back. Scott froze when he felt the blade of a knife pressed to his throat.
Trisha clasped a hand over her mouth to stifle a startled scream. And for a second everyone stood unnaturally still and silent. Scott’s heart was pounding against his chest. His eyes had already started to smart painfully without the aid of his glasses, but suddenly it felt like his head was going to split wide open. He tried to ignore it and focus on the moment. This was his mess, and he had to get the Bogarts out of it before they could get hurt.
“Just walk away, and call the cops,” Scott urged them as calmly as he could. “We’ll both be gone before they get here.” Only silence met his ears, excruciating. “Please, just go,” Scott begged, “he’s got no reason to hurt me.”
“I don’t need a reason, Slim,” Winter’s voice grated in his ear.
This was going bad in a hurry. The blade was replaced by Winters’ forearm, and his grip tightened violently at Scott’s throat. Scott tried not to react, but only a couple of seconds later he was reduced to gasping for breath and clawing at the arm that was strangling him.
He was blacking out. It was a strange feeling. For a second he saw everything that was happening around him and to him, through a haze, from outside his own mind. His fear and panic faded. His life started to flash before him, and he felt strangely calm, peaceful, like he was listening to a quiet, reassuring voice from deep inside himself.
“Easy,” Scott heard another voice, this one vivid and familiar. “We can both get what we want here. You don’t have to hurt the boy,” Richard insisted, trying to reason with Winters.
“That’s up to you. Do everything I say, and he won’t have to get hurt.”
“He can’t breathe,” Trisha whispered, her voice strained with worry and fear. “He’s turning blue.”
Scott’s knees nearly gave way under his own weight when the crushing pressure against his throat was released. He could breathe again, but Winters still held the knife to his throat as a threat.
“Hand over your wallets and jewelry. Place ‘em on the floor, slowly.”
Scott watched, stunned, as Richard and Trisha calmly handed over their valuables in exchange for his life. Winters took a step back and pocketed his knife so that he could pick up the valuables. He released Scott but kept a handful of the back of his shirt in order to control his movements.
“Scott.” Trisha reached for him, encouraging him to come to them.
Scott watched the two of them, so clearly scared for him and anxious to get him away from Winters. And Scott had never wanted anything more than he wanted to go to them... but he knew Winters better than that. Jack had come here intending to settle up with Scott, and take everything else that he could get. He wouldn’t be content with just a few valuables when he thought he could get far more. Winters got back to his feet behind Scott, and Scott heard the sound of a gun being cocked.
“Now, why don’t you show me what else you got in this place.”
Scott didn’t stop to think about what he was doing. If he had, he would have realized that it was incredibly dangerous and stupid. He pivoted and grabbed Jack’s wrist, trying to wrestle the gun away from him, but Scott was no match for Jack.
“Wrong move, Slim.”
Jack slugged him, hard, and Scott went down like a sack of potatoes.
Richard tackled Jack an instant later, and the two men fought for control of the gun.
“Scott–” Trisha bent over him and held something soft against his temple. He must have been bleeding.
“I’m alright,” he breathed stubbornly, but his head was a mess. Scott kept his eyes shut and pressed his palm against his forehead, as if that pressure was going to stop his head from splitting open. He could feel Trisha’s hands shaking as she helped him up.
“The glasses broke,” he managed. “I’m sorry–”
“Glasses and valuables can be replaced,” she told him certainly. “You can’t be.”
Scott shuddered at the trace of a forgotten memory. Shaking hands and a gentle, reassuring voice... those were his last memories of his mother.
Then Trisha called Richard’s name, alarmed. Scott could hear the sounds of a fist fight.
Richard called back for them to get out.
Scott forced his eyes open, and immediately threw up an arm against the light and the accompanying pain that blinded him. He couldn’t see anything but a couple of moving shadows surrounded by blinding light.
A shot rang out, and Scott instinctively pushed Trisha behind himself, but she screamed Richard’s name and rushed toward her husband when he fell. There was a second shot, and two people were dead.
Scott dropped to his knees between the two bodies, stunned. Pain seemed to explode inside him and he threw back his head to scream in agony and grief... but the pain erupted from his eyes in an uncontrollable blast of optic force.
The house started to fall in around him, and Scott realized he was somehow the cause of that destruction. He slammed his eyes shut and threw his arm across his face, panting, his blind eyes streaming and painful.
Then Winters was grabbing at his arm in the rubble. “C’mon! We’re get’n out of here. Now, Slim.”
Scott pushed him off. “No!” he screamed. “I won’t go!”
Jack tried again to pull him up off the floor.
“Get off me.” Scott shoved him away, and this time his shove was enough to upset Jack’s balance over the precarious footing and send him tumbling into the debris.
“Fine!” Scott heard him yell back. “But if you know what’s good for you, you’ll clear out. Cops’ll be here soon, and you’ll be their prime suspect.” Scott heard Winters flee from the scene after that, and Scott knew he was right. The cops would come, and they’d come after him. Scott paused to press his head against the rubble-strewn floor and whisper in apology, “I’m so sorry. I never meant – any of this.” Then he got to his feet and stumbled away, keeping his eyes tightly shut.
Two Months Later
For the next two months all anyone could talk about was the mysterious deaths of Richard and Trisha Bogart. The husband and wife had been found shot to death, and their home partially destroyed by an explosion of unknown origin. And though the police had been searching for a person of interest, a teenage boy who had been living with the couple at the time of their deaths, the young man had yet to be found.
Scott had lost track of how long he had been on the run, but he knew it was only a matter of time until the cops found him. He was almost relieved when they did. Scott couldn’t help but appreciate the irony that his life had become. It was like something out of a Greek tragedy. After all the time he had spent playing the blind beggar, now he was blind by his own will, terrified of what would happen if he opened his eyes again.
And, if that wasn’t enough for tragedy, he was hearing voices in his head.... He determinedly shut them out whenever they pushed into his thoughts.
“I already lost my sight. I refuse to be losing my mind too,” he muttered.
“Kid, we’re not gonna hurt you. We just want to talk to you.”
Scott assumed he was in a police station.
“Is your name Scott Summers?”
They hadn’t released that information to the general public, but they had been collecting all the information they could on Scott as the authorities had searched for him over the past two months.
Scott turned his head, tracking a second voice.
“According to his medical records there’s nothing wrong with him, mentally or physically. He was being treated for headaches, which were cured by corrective glasses. He’s not blind. There’s nothing wrong with his eyes.”
“No! I can’t open my eyes.”
“I don’t care what his records say. This kid’s obviously not right in the head.” Then more quietly, “Ask Doc Lawson to give us a hand on this one, and get a couple of guys to help restrain him long enough for the doc to sedate him. We need this kid’s cooperation, and I don’t want anybody getting hurt in the process.”
“Wait! Wait– please– don’t,” Scott fought against the hands and arms that tried to hold him still long enough to give him an injection of sedative. But each time he struggled free of one grip there was another waiting to take its place.
This was bad. He had to keep his eyes closed, and Scott didn’t know if he would be physically or mentally able to do that once they drugged him.
“C’mon, kid, just be still for a minute,” one of the voices insisted. “This won’t hurt.”
“Please don’t do this–” he begged desperately.
“It’s okay, kid. You’ll feel a lot better in a couple minutes.”
They had control of his arm and were preparing to inject him. Scott struggled violently but was unable to free himself. “No!” he yelled in desperation. “Don’t! You can’t make me open my eyes!”
Then a familiar voice intervened. “If you will consult his medical records further, you’ll discover that Mr. Summers is highly resistant to most pain represents, as well as sedatives.”
Scott instinctively tried to shut the voice out of his mind, but this time the voice was real.
“So there’s really no point in attempting to sedate him,” that voice concluded simply.
There was a brief pause where only the sound of pages being turned was heard. Scott had stopped struggling; it seemed both sides were waiting to see what would happen next. No one openly acknowledged the stranger’s statement as true or false, but a few seconds later Scott relaxed slightly when his overall restraint lessened and the pressure band was removed from his upper arm.
“Exactly how is it you’re so familiar with his medical history? You a family member?”
“No. However, I was previously consulting on Mr. Summers’ case. The young man has a worsening medical condition which prevents him from seeing without special glasses; even small amounts of light can cause him intense pain.”
Scott knew he had never heard that voice except in his own head, but he kept his silence and played along; he didn’t see where he had much choice anymore. Besides, whatever the man’s motives, his lie had just helped Scott avert near-certain disaster.
“It would be extraordinarily cruel to expect him to open his eyes. I think that once he understands your intent is not to hurt him in this manner, you’ll find him quite rational and cooperative.”
“Escort the boy and his doctor, here, into a quiet room. Keep the lighting low. Once he’s had a chance to calm down, someone will be in to ask him a few questions.”
“Thank you, officers.”
Scott let two bodies escort him into a second room and sit him down in a metal chair facing a metal table. And he listened to the sounds of their footsteps leaving, wary when he and the stranger had been left alone.
“Who are you? Did someone from the orphanage send you to bring me back?”
Scott listened for a reply, and he noticed the sound of a small motor and wheels instead of footsteps as he tracked the man’s movements.
“My name is Charles Xavier. I’m not here on anyone’s behalf. My advice to you, Scott,” he offered quietly, “is to tell the police the truth, as much as you possibly can.”
Scott was instinctively defensive. “That’s interesting advice, coming from someone who’s not who he says he is,” Scott stated, trying to keep the sound of his voice calm, conversational.
“You’re right. I’m not a doctor, but I am extremely interested in your case.”
“I’m afraid we haven’t time for those details just yet,” he conceded. And Scott got the curious impression that he was smiling. “But know that it is in both of our best interests for me to help you out of this situation without anyone seeing what happens when you open your eyes.”
A chill ran down Scott’s spine.
“One question first,” he insisted. “How long have you known about me?”
Scott reflexively jerked back when he heard the response in his head. I think you already know the answer to that question, Mr. Summers. It was the same voice he had been hearing in his mind for the past two months, the same quietly reassuring voice that he had first heard when Jack Winters had been choking the life out of him.
Then, out loud, he said, “I started trying to make contact with you as soon as you came to my attention, but you’ve done a good job of eluding me since then.”
Scott was still deeply suspicious of this Charles Xavier, his intentions, and his interest in Scott, but Scott kept his silence. For now it was enough to know that this was not the mysterious benefactor whose whims had manipulated most of his life, treating his circumstances like a game of chance.
Scott tilted his head when he heard the door open. Two pairs of heavy, deliberate footsteps entered the room before one of them introduced himself, a police detective. Again, Scott heard the hum of a small motor as Xavier repositioned himself. Then the two policemen came the rest of the way inside and sat down opposite Scott.
With Xavier by his side, Scott answered their questions about the events leading up to the night Richard and Trisha Bogart died. He told the police how the Bogarts had unexpectedly taken him in and pursued medical treatments for his headaches, and he told them how Jack Winters had come looking for Scott, angry, and wanting to cash in on Scott’s recent good fortune.
After that, Scott took a couple of deep breaths and swallowed hard. With great difficulty, he explained how the Bogarts had risked themselves to protect him from Winters, and he described their deaths in as much detail as he was able to, avoiding the truth only when it came to the destruction of the house. Scott was particularly adamant over the fact that he hadn’t known Winters had a gun; he knew about the pocketknife that Jack kept on him at all times, but before that night Scott had never seen Jack Winters use or even handle a gun.
Scott told that part of the story as best he could.... He didn’t like remembering it, and what he did remember was so tied up with his own pain and confusion... even if he had tried to tell the whole truth, he didn’t begin to know how to explain what had happened that night.
“Then you don’t know what caused that blast?”
Scott shook his head. “I didn’t see any blast.”
“The roof and the entire second floor caved in directly above you. You had to have seen, or heard, something.”
Scott shook his head in answer, but remained silent.
“Nothing fell in from the outside. There was no evidence of any kind of explosion: nothing inside the house burnt or melted. Just utter destruction, like the place had been dropped by a wrecking ball.”
Scott’s face was ghastly white.
“You can’t explain any of that?”
Scott shook his head numbly. “No,” he barely whispered, “I can’t explain it.”
“Come along, Scott,” Xavier insisted. His voice was businesslike as he gave Scott’s forearm a squeeze. Let’s get out of here, he offered more generously. Scott nodded and lifted his arm, finding the back of Xavier’s chair and allowing the man to lead him outside.
Once the police had finished their questioning, Xavier had offered to take responsibility for Scott. He had provided the police with contact information, and they had released Scott into his custody – seemingly eager to be rid of them both, Scott thought.
The police had assured them that they would find Jack Winters, but Scott doubted that would happen. Strangely, he didn’t even feel mad about that. Scott felt numb. He couldn’t rail against Jack with any honestly because Scott was just as compliant in the crime. He had led Jack there, given him the motive and the opportunity, placed the Bogarts in the line of fire. Scott hadn’t pulled the trigger, but he was just as responsible for their deaths.... And now he was covering his tracks.
Scott felt cool air on his face and took a deep breath. A car motor was idling nearby, and Scott allowed himself to be guided in that direction. Nobody knew that Scott had caused that explosion, partially reducing the Bogart’s home to rubble, and he had to keep it that way. Whatever had happened that night when Scott had opened his eyes, he could never let it happen again. For better or for worse, it seemed that he and this Charles Xavier both understood that.
Scott sat alongside Xavier in the back seat of a comfortable and spacious vehicle. He didn’t ask where they were going; in fact, Scott remained strangely quiet under the circumstances. He still wanted, rather doggedly, to know why this man was so interested in him, but he was exercising patience in waiting for Xavier to initiate the conversation. Scott assumed that when he finally did, the resulting subject matter would be something of significant importance to the man.”
“Have you ever heard of mutants, Scott?”
“I know what it means, from science class. Mutation is a change in an organism’s DNA that causes the creation of a new genetic trait. It’s a basis of evolutionary theory, if you subscribe to Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection,” he tacked on.
Professor Xavier smiled at the impromptu science lesson he’d been treated to. “A succinct description, and I certainly do believe in the reality of evolution. Scott, I have observed that there are individuals among us, mutants, possessing an X gene. This gene has been called, by some, the next step in human evolution. Individuals possessing this X gene can manifest a wide variety of extraordinary abilities. Usually the onset of these abilities occurs after puberty, and onset is often triggered by episodes of heightened emotion and profound stress.”
Scott could hardly breathe and his mouth felt dry. What he was hearing was incredible, and it made perfect sense of his current circumstances.
“You think I’m one of these mutants.”
“And you are too.”
“How many are there?” Scott asked next.
“Hard to say,” Xavier responded. “Many of us learn to keep our abilities hidden from the world, and wisely so. There are others who would react fearfully to what we are capable of, or try to manipulate us for their own devious purposes.”
Scott fell silent. “It’s impossible for me to hide what I’m capable of – unless I go through the rest of my life with my eyes closed.”
“I sincerely hope we can find some way around that,” Xavier offered. “Most mutants initially find it difficult to control their abilities, but are able to learn control over time.”
Scott’s brow furrowed. “You think I can learn to control this?” he asked, and not without a great deal of skepticism and incredulity
“Oh, I am all but certain of that, Scott,” Xavier responded confidently, then he paused, “but there will be time to discuss those possibilities later.” Scott heard him take a deep breath before he asked his next question.
“Scott, how much do you know about a man called Nathaniel Essex?”
“He was a doctor at the orphanage where I lived.”
“Did he take any extra interest in you?”
“He treated me for a year while I was in a coma. After that I only saw him for checkups. Creepy sort of guy. Kids nicknamed his hospital wing the Lair of the Mad Scientist; he never came out and only patients were allowed in. No one wanted to be sent to him.”
“Fitting,” Xavier murmured distastefully. “Nathaniel Essex has a longstanding interest, shall we say, in mutants. Particularly, in their genetic properties and the subsequent development and manifestation of their mutant traits. I suspect he also possesses some means of locating mutants. I find it hard to believe that you ended up in his charge purely by coincidence.”
Scott felt a chill, like the temperature had just dropped violently. He was starting to feel as though less and less of his life had been his own.
“How do you know him?” he asked Xavier.
“We have crossed paths before, though I don’t believe he is eager to do so again.”
Scott felt himself relax. That hadn’t really answered his question, but it reassured him. If this man was on the opposing side from Essex, then Scott knew he was in the right place. Scott only hesitated for a second before offering Xavier another question.
“I always wondered, if the orphanage was telling me the truth about my parents and my brother.”
He heard Xavier sigh, and Scott braced himself for bad news.
“As far as I know, Scott, they died in the crash you narrowly survived.”
Scott lowered his head, fighting back bitter disappointment. The loss still hurt.
“But I can look further into the matter, if you want for me to.”
Scott shook his head. His throat felt tight, making it hard for him to breathe, let alone speak. He was as mad at himself for getting his hopes up as he was for his loss of control over his emotions. How many times did he have to reconcile himself to being alone in the world before the thought stopped hurting so much?
“No. Thank you,” he finally managed. “It was foolish of me–”
“Never foolish to hope, Scott.”
“Foolish to wish for the impossible,” Scott bit back.
“Only until the impossible becomes possible,” Charles Xavier countered softly. And a silence fell between them until Xavier spoke again.
“Family is not just flesh and blood, but people who care deeply for one another. Those connections can be built as readily as they can be born. You don’t have to be alone in the world any longer, Scott,” he whispered.
Westchester, New York
For two-and-a-half months Scott had lived with his eyes closed. For the last two weeks Professor Xavier and his doctor had been hard at work trying to find the cause of Scott’s optic blasts. That’s what the professor called it: his power, talent, gift. Scott didn’t believe any of it.
He was grateful to know that there were others like him, and grateful for Xavier’s efforts to help him, but it was too much to try to put a positive spin on all this. His head hurt constantly – like it was ready to split open at any moment – no matter what they gave him for pain. And Xavier had already had to reverse course on part of what he had told Scott the day they met. Scott would never be able to control his mutant ability; the best he could hope for was a means of safely containing it.
Scott had accepted that grim news stoically. In fact, he had hardly been surprised when Xavier told him. Deep down, Scott had known for a long time that something was very wrong with him; the constant pain left little room for doubt. Scott feared being blind for the rest of his life, but he feared even more what would happen if his control slipped, he opened his eyes and obliterated everything in his path. That possibility had woken him in a cold sweat nearly every night for the past two-and-a-half months.
“Well, Mr. Summers, now is as good time as any to trust me.”
Hank McCoy had just placed the pair of glasses he had made for Scott into Scott’s hands. Scott moved his fingers over them for several minutes. They felt like normal glasses, except that when he put them on they wrapped closely around his eyes so that no light could get through... or escape.
Scott remembered the house collapsing around him. There was no way special lenses could stop that; he didn’t care what Hank or the professor told him.
“What if it doesn’t work?” Scott asked.
“It will, Scott,” Professor Xavier insisted quietly.
“There was a reason those special glasses helped your headaches,” Hank explained patiently. “The lenses contained a quartz extract which was able to safely absorb the very small amounts of energy your eyes were then emitting. The effect was similar to the way normal eyeglasses relieve eyestrain for those of us with less than 20/20 vision.”
“These ruby quartz lenses have been reinforced considerably. They will stand up to the full force of your optic blasts,” Professor Xavier reassured Scott.
McCoy concurred. “The professor is correct. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prove that but to test them. And I’m afraid that test will require a leap of faith on your part, Scott.”
Scott swallowed hard. “It’s not that I don’t believe what you’re telling me,” he offered cautiously. “I just– I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Scott said softly.
“You won’t, Scott,” Professor Xavier assured him. “Just look straight ahead, and open your eyes.”
He took a deep breath, barely peeked, then shut his eyes tightly and lifted hands to inspect the glasses. They were intact. It took three more such attempts before he was able to leave his eyes open without expecting the world to collapse around him. After that, he looked around the room in cautious disbelief. He could see. Everything was red from the ruby quartz, but he could see clearly through it, and the blasts from his eyes were safely contained.
“How’s that feel?” Xavier asked.
“Better,” Scott realized. His head didn’t hurt.
“Just as I suspected,” Hank said, smiling widely. “Your eyelids were effectively blocking the optic blasts. I suspect all of your body’s cells are immune to the blasts’ power – meaning you are unable to damage yourself – but continuously blocking that flow of energy was causing enormous pressure to build. The lenses, however, are able to absorb and safely dissipate the blasts, thus releasing the pressure those stores of energy were creating behind your eyes and alleviating your pain.”
Professor Xavier nodded, pleased.
Scott took in his, and then McCoy’s appearances warily. The first was an older bald man seated in a wheelchair. The other could only be described as an animal-like mutant, an enormous human possessing the heavy-set, powerful build of an ape. Xavier looked somewhat like Scott had expected from the sound of his voice, but he had a hard time reconciling McCoy’s easy-going manner and scholarly voice with the polar opposite in physical appearance.
A stab of self-pity shot through Scott, dampening his newfound relief. So this was his life now, just another part of a well-meaning freak show. He regretted that harsh thought almost immediately. The professor’s voice responded gently in his head.
The glasses are only a beginning, Scott. “Now that we better understand your gift, we can find a way to harness it. You can learn to use it constructively.”
“How?” he asked unconsciously, fascinated by that unexpected thought.
“Well, we’ll get to that challenge in due time. For now I think you should re-familiarize yourself with the house and grounds, enjoy the sights,” he offered with a proud smile.
Scott grinned, happier than he had been in a very long time. It felt wrong. Worry pushed in, practicality. There had to be a catch.
“What happens after that?”
“After you figure me out, then what?”
Professor Xavier smiled, recognizing the problem. “Then I hope you’ll stay on as a student. As I told you before, Scott, this place is to be a school for traditional learning, as well as a safe place where mutants can learn to use their abilities in ways that are beneficial, both for themselves and for the whole of society.”
Scott had heard all this before, but he was really listening for the first time. It was a real possibility to him for the first time.
“A tough nut to crack, that one,” Hank admitted once Scott had left them.
The professor nodded in agreement. “Scott hasn’t had anything given to him in life, and far too much taken away... but he’s not bitter or hateful. He’s a strong young man with the potential to become outstanding, given time and some nurturing of his abilities.”
“His optic blasts are truly amazing,” Hank offered, genuinely fascinated.
“They are, indeed. But his strengths run far deeper than his physical mutation alone,” the professor murmured. “As you may have already deduced,” he offered with a smile, “it was the unique strength of his mind which initially drew my interest to Scott. ”
Hank smiled. “Hardly a mystery worth solving, given your unique talents and perspective. As powerful as Scott’s mutation is...” Hank readily conceded.
“There are other, more powerful, mutants out there,” Xavier concluded. “However, I doubt there are many who possess the strength of character and internal fortitude that Scott has already shown.”
“The mental discipline involved in keeping one’s eyes closed constantly over such a long period of time is, in and of itself, an impressive feat,” Hank conceded. “And the pressure building behind those blasts was far beyond excessive. The headaches he’s been experiencing could easily be termed ‘debilitating.’ Most people would have crawled into a dark corner and waited for it to, mercifully, be over.”
“Not Scott,” Professor Xavier whispered. “That boy has something special about him, intangible. Once he gets his feet under him, he will lead, and the other students will follow him....”
“Like a beacon, shining red,” Hank murmured.
Scott took the professor’s advice and explored the mansion and grounds thoroughly, making mental notes to revisit various places that caught his interest, but he stopped when he found the game room. He played pool for hours. It was a little thing, but it was something he was good at, and he had never expected to be able to do it again, certainly not just for the fun of it. He had just completed a particularly spectacular shot when he heard a voice behind him.
Scott turned on his heel, his back to the table like he was hoping to hide it from view. He was embarrassed. Pool shark was probably not a terribly respectable talent to a man like Charles Xavier, especially considering the way Scott had once honed his skills.
“That’s quite a talent.” The professor rolled inside and came to a stop closer to the table. “Don’t mind me,” he encouraged Scott. “Please, continue.”
Scott continued playing, cautiously at first, but he quickly became so absorbed in the flow of the game that he forgot Xavier’s presence almost entirely.
Meanwhile Xavier watched his young charge raptly, the wheels already set in motion for a use of this concussive force that Scott’s mind couldn’t control, but seemed built for. Scott set up shot after shot, intuitively combining the proper use of force, trajectory, and angle necessary to place each shot precisely where he wanted it. And he also seemed able to fully understand how his action would affect every other piece on the table. Xavier saw the makings of a brilliant tactician and strategist.
Scott looked at himself in the mirror. The professor and Hank were at each side behind him. He liked it, liked the look, liked the fit. He played with pulling the visor off and on, testing the tenacity of its construction. Then he walked outside where an area had been cleared for him to safely practice.
The first controlled beam of his optic blasts both stunned and elated him, but it was Hank who coined the awed phrase “Cyclops” when the ruby quartz visor glowed red and Scott’s optic blasts engulfed his eyes into one thin, red slit of powerful concussive force.
Scott had complete control over it. With just a slight adjustment he could change the duration of the beam, the flow of energy, the intensity of the blast, and he did so repeatedly until he had tested the visor’s capabilities in every conceivable way.
“You like it then,” the professor teased him with the understatement.
Scott laughed. “I wish I never had to take it off.”
The boy stood taller, felt stronger, and that was saying a lot. Scott had grown considerably in his short time at the mansion, filling out his tall frame with regular meals and exercise. He looked and felt well and healthy. Charles Xavier was pleased beyond measure by all of that progress, but much still remained....
“I’m afraid the glasses are still more inconspicuous for general wear.”
“But the visor is so much more stable. I always have to be careful to keep the glasses in place. And without them, either the blast is uncontrollable or I’m blind; there’s no in-between.” Scott took a deep breath, reigning in his emotions. “You know I’m grateful for them,” he insisted.
Professor Xavier nodded. He did know that. Scott did not easily let down his guard, and he certainly didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he was fiercely, intensely loyal. He would never forget the magnitude of what Xavier had done for him, and he would always be grateful.
“It’s just that the glasses have limitations. I couldn’t defend myself with them on.” The memory of Winters easily slapping the glasses off his face came unbidden to Scott’s mind. The same action now would be nothing short of disastrous. “I can’t risk a slip.”
The professor nodded thoughtfully. “That is a problem, but it’s one I’m afraid you will always face, Scott.” Even before Scott spoke, Xavier knew what was coming next.
“Are you sure there’s no way I can control it myself? Therapy, surgery? The risk doesn’t matter to me if there’s a chance it might pay off.”
The professor lowered his head. He knew this was a huge step forward for Scott: hope, possibility, light at the end of his tunnel – maybe for the first time in his life. Xavier didn’t want to crush Scott’s newfound optimism, but he had to be honest. It was important that Scott learn to accept his strengths as well as his limitations.
“I wish I could tell you otherwise, Scott,” he offered honestly, “and maybe one day... but right now there’s simply nothing we can do to repair the damage your mind suffered in the crash.”
“That caused me to lose control over the optic blasts,” Scott concluded heavily.
Professor Xavier studied him intently. Xavier also understood the need for control, and the fear of its loss... vulnerability, and the desire to overcome weakness.
“Scott, being in this chair has taught me not to waste time dwelling on weaknesses. Be aware of them, but make the choice to concentrate on your strengths and use those to compensate for your weaknesses.”
Scott nodded. He didn’t say anything, simply took the advice to heart, as he often did, with a determination and a resolve that were impressive to behold.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004