X-Men fan fiction
part 1: Gifted Students
Chapter 1: Homecoming
Chapter 2: Recharge
Chapter 3: Regenerate
Chapter4: Xavier's Decision
Chapter 5: X-Men in Training
Chapter6: Mission Fatigue
Chapter 7: New and Improved
Chapter 8: Fear Itself
Chapter 9: Through the Glass
Chapter 10: Mourning Glories
Chapter 11: Ghost Stories
Chapter 12: The Devil and Despair
Chapter 13: Spuytin Dyvil Falls
Chapter 14: Evil Spirits
Chapter 15: Heart Stone
Chapter 16: The Rubble O'r Our Sins
Chapter 17: Shadow Boxing
Chapter 18: House Rules
part 1: Gifted Students
Westchester, New York. Circa 1987.
It was after midnight when a plane set down on the grounds of the Xavier Institute in Salem Center, New York and six people disembarked. The first to walk down the boarding ramp was a tall young man who walked with his shoulders slightly bowed. He was holding his right arm awkwardly in front of him, and his face was obscured behind a visor plated with thick, red-lense glass; that obstruction did nothing to hide from sight the way his every step caused him to grimace with suppressed pain. The young man was followed by another man who dwarfed him in height as well as in girth; his large hand was protectively splayed against the boy’s left shoulder, supporting his balance as the two of them maneuvered down the boarding ramp.
They were closely followed by a pair of teenage girls. The first had long, bright white hair and a gait that seemed to glide with casual elegance. The second was a fiery redhead who bobbed along briskly in the two men’s wake, her every movement exuding insistence and impatience. That quartet was hardly on the ground before the final two passengers emerged: an older bald man who was seated in a wheelchair rolled slowly to the ground, followed by a tall and strikingly handsome blonde-headed man who wore an oversized trench coat draped across broad shoulders.
Once on the ground Professor Charles Xavier quickly made his way toward the rest of the group; they all waited while the man in the wheelchair rolled to the boy’s side. Clearly, Xavier was anxious to see Scott Summers and to speak to him face-to-face. It was an anxiousness that Scott also shared, and the two engaged in a few moments of tense conversation.
Warren Worthington III watched the impromptu debriefing unfold, still standing stiffly behind Xavier. The exchange was neither combative nor uncomfortable; the tension was rooted in the fact that important things needed to be said, positions taken, explained, defended. And the entire group watched attentively, knowing that even more important decisions remained to be made at the end of this discussion.... For now, however, those decisions would have to wait.
Xavier gave his students an encouraging smile, then nodded curtly to Hank. Henry McCoy placed his hand on Scott’s back in response, ushering the young man away once more. It surprised no one that the two of them were closely followed by Ororo Munroe and Jean Grey; the three teens were as close as any trio of friends could be. Charles watched his three students walk toward the Xavier Institute’s infirmary under Hank’s supervision, knowing that Scott was in good hands with Hank, and that Jean and Ororo wouldn’t be moved from Scott’s side. All the same, Charles wanted nothing more than to remain with them at the young man’s side until he, too, was certain that Scott was firmly on the mend... but instead Professor Charles Xavier remained where he was.
It had hardly escaped Charles’s notice that Warren also hung back. As Xavier turned to face the man, his friend, he knew that Warren was eager to speak his mind, angry, and perhaps justifiably so.
“This was a mistake,” Warren stated after Hank and the students had disappeared indoors “They weren’t ready for anything like this, Charles,” Warren told him, “and we’re damn lucky none of them were hurt beyond broken bones, scrapes, or bruises.”
“You’re right,” Charles agreed heavily.
Warren only blinked in response. He hadn’t expected unconditioned agreement.
“And the responsibility for that failing is mine alone,” Xavier conceded. “Maybe they’re still too young. Certainly, they’re not yet comfortable or confident enough in the practical use of their abilities, nor are they yet able to function cohesively as a team. But I’m confident that they will continue to grow into their individual strengths, and they will learn to face adversity together.”
“Then you do mean to continue this.”
“Nothing has changed, Warren,” Xavier said softly. “The mutant, Jack O’Diamonds, was destroyed tonight. He can no longer endanger humans and mutants with his criminal activity, but you and I know there will be others like him. As I told Scott, the final decision is not yet made. But our deliberations must move forward with an understanding that the stakes are far too high for us to arbitrarily walk away after a single setback.”
Warren hung his head, frustrated and disappointed, but those emotions had nothing to do with himself, or even Xavier. It had everything to do with their students. He wanted more for them than this. They were good kids, and they deserved the opportunity to go out into the world and live their lives on their own terms, unhindered by the burden of being different from the rest of the world.
“None of us can escape what we are, Warren,” Xavier said softly. “And, believe me, this is far from what I envisioned for the three of them when I brought them here... but it is what we are faced with now. We cannot turn away, cannot shrink from our duty to live fully in these times. There is no hiding from this reality.”
“I know,” Warren finally admitted bitterly. “I don’t have to like it.” For the past two years Warren had poured out the best of himself, given every ounce of his energy and enthusiasm into teaching and mentoring these kids. No lofty speech about harsh realities could make him forget the anguish of seeing what he had seen in their faces tonight: fear, worry, helplessness, pain, and the damn brave, stoic acceptance – responsibility – with which they had faced it all.
He heaved a heavy sigh. Xavier was right; as young and as green as they were right now, they would grow into roles that no one should be asked to take on, shoulder burdens heavier than most could imagine. They had the strength and the resolve to follow this through, regardless of the cost it would demand from them. They would willingly risk their lives and sacrifice themselves for the good of a society that would shun and fear them in return. Because they had been born different. They’d been born mutants.
“I promise you, Warren,” Professor Xavier responded determinedly, “the next time – if we ask them to go into this sort of danger again – they will be fully prepared for it. We will make certain of that. That is, if you and Hank are still willing to assist me.”
Warren nodded. And Xavier nodded in return, offering nothing more than a tight smile.
The simple truth was that something had been set in motion here that could not be stopped. There was no going back. As counterintuitive and as heart-wrenching a prospect as it was to accept, if they wanted a peaceful and just future for their students to enjoy, wanted them to live in a world where they would be accepted and treated fairly, they would first have to fight to establish those conditions. Xavier was right. There was no escaping this reality.
“Now, if you would kindly accompany me,” the professor prompted Warren, as though they were late for a pressing business engagement, “there are still a few loose ends to be wrapped up tonight.”
Warren followed Xavier into his office and watched Charles enter a code which caused a console to spring to life from the previously flat surface of his writing desk. Warren quickly recognized that the console went far beyond cutting edge communication technology, even at the high end of the market spectrum. That meant one of two things. He quickly dismissed the first possibility involving illegal activity; his second suspicion was confirmed when Fred Duncan’s image appeared on the screen. This was high-level government, specifically, the FBI.
Fred Duncan was not Warren’s favorite person, and judging from Duncan’s expression the feeling was largely mutual. After an initial measuring glance he chose to ignore Warren’s presence.
“Charles,” Duncan offered a thin smile, “I take it the mission didn’t go exactly to plan.”
Xavier nodded warily. “There were some unexpected complications.”
Duncan’s thin smile vanished into an impatient grimace. “Which resulted in every police and fire unit in the area being called to the scene.”
“That was unfortunate–”
Duncan interrupted again. “I thought we were on the same page here, Charles. I was counting on you keeping this thing quiet.” He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his thinning hair as he sat back in his seat, collecting himself. “You have no idea the trouble this kind of attention causes.”
“I regret that as much as you do, Fred, but in this case it was unavoidable. Jack Winters was hellbent on accomplishing what he had come to that nuclear facility to accomplish – and, as Jack O’Diamonds, he particularly seemed to enjoy causing as much destruction as possible.”
“Then I take it Winters did manage to fully irradiate himself.”
Duncan suppressed a curse. “And the mutation?”
“As expected, and feared, the radiation exposure transformed his entire body into a diamond-like substance, making him all but impervious to attack.”
Duncan’s anger faded into stunned defeat. “That was our worst case scenario. That madman managed to mutate himself into some kind of Living Diamond,” he breathed in bitter awe.
Charles nodded. “Following that transformation we narrowly defeated him. Jack O’Diamonds did enough damage to slow us down significantly, but most of his destruction was limited to the facility itself. Our success was thanks only to Hank’s ingenuity.
“Was – for lack of a better word – disintegrated,” Warren answered pointedly.
“Destroyed,” Xavier continued, his voice more subdued, “by Hank’s harmonic frequency device.”
Duncan nodded heavily. “I know that’s not what you wanted, Charles – and I appreciate that you got the job done anyway – but this was messy. I understand there were difficulties–”
Warren thought Duncan’s voice sounded less appreciative and understanding the further he continued.
“You have a real funny way of expressing appreciation, Duncan,” Warren challenged.
“Maybe I do,” Duncan bit back. “You see, it’s the results that concern me, not the heroics.”
Warren bristled at the man’s continued ingratitude. “You’re the one who came to us for help, not the other way around!”
“I came to Charles because he and I have an understanding. That understanding has served the both of us well until now because we’ve always stressed the need to handle these things quietly.”
“These things–” Warren bristled again.
Xavier interrupted. “That understanding has served us well, Fred. The only difference is that I have a team behind me now. Like it or not, I’m afraid a wider approach is going to be necessary when dealing with potentially dangerous mutants, like Jack O’Diamonds.”
Duncan nodded thoughtfully. “You know I risk myself every time I share information with you, Charles. That’s a risk I take because we both recognize the need to solve these issues discretely.
Warren snorted, still displeased with Duncan’s characterization of the mutant phenomenon, but he otherwise controlled his angry reaction.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the whole reason for this exercise, and it’s my first priority. If that has changed, Charles, I need to know it.”
“It hasn’t, Fred. I understand your caution – it’s well-placed – and I sincerely hope that our partnership can and will continue forward. But it will take more than the two us to face some threats. I trust my team; I need you to do the same.”
Fred gave a reluctant nod. “No offense, Charles. You, I trust. What I don’t want is a bunch of kids thinking they can mete out vigilante justice,” he said, giving Warren a wary look. “I know you did the best you could out there tonight. I won’t forget that, and I won’t forget all the other cases you’ve helped me close over the years. If you’re telling me that the game is changing and you have to change with it, I can accept that. Truth is, I’d go to bat for you any day of the week, Charles. You’ve earned that, both as a friend and as a colleague.”
Then he hesitated, glancing at Warren again. “And I hope you know that I’m not just trying to sweep the Bureau’s dirty laundry under the rug here. I understand that what’s at stake here is larger than any of us. The world is not ready to have the existence of mutants thrust upon them, and especially not in the form of someone like Jack Winters. My ability to protect that truth gets real thin if questions start coming at me from higher up the food chain. My bosses could care less what’s in the case files as long as the cases get closed and the Bureau keeps its hands clean. But nights like tonight raise too many eyebrows. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve fielded already; they all want answers, and that’s no good for any of us.”
“Have they found anything that raises suspicions?” Charles asked.
Duncan shook his head. “Very little. All that was left of you and your team was a flattened landing field and some mangled radiation suits – and, of course, massive destruction,” he conceded, but he spoke with more of an envious awe than anger this time. “It’s good to see that you got out of that unscathed, Charles,” he concluded with relief in his voice.
“Quite so,” Xavier added in dry agreement. “Are you anticipating more trouble?”
“So far the local news is running with the story that Jack Winters was a disgruntled employee who broke into the nuclear facility pursuing a personal vendetta. But his plan backfired on him when the damage he caused to the facility became so severe that he never made it out. Between the series of fires and explosions that rocked the facility, and the violent thunderstorms that swept the area... well, reports of a tornado touching down are now becoming more widespread than earlier reports that multiple suspects could have escaped by air.”
Duncan gave a shrug. “The wild weather explains the condition of that field, and the stray suits could have been carried outside by wind or explosion. Even wilder conspiracy theories are sure to ensue, but as long as no contradictory evidence emerges, nothing there should draw the attention of the press or my supervisors.”
Xavier nodded. “Then, hopefully, that can be the end of Jack Winters.”
Duncan nodded in agreement. “We can hope so.”
A few minutes later Xavier’s office had returned to its previous state, leaving Charles and Warren surrounded by nothing more than a darkened room and four walls filled with books.
“Well, that exchange proved somewhat less than encouraging,” Xavier offered as the two men exited his office. By unspoken agreement they headed toward the infirmary in the estate’s lower levels.
“I’m sorry things got a little heated, Charles,” Warren admitted. “Maybe I should have kept my opinions to myself. We do have a history, after all.... But you knew that going in, and you still wanted me present.”
“Oh, I’m well aware that you and Fred Duncan have never seen eye to eye,” Xavier readily agreed, “and no harm was done by a little heated discussion. In fact, I think we needed to get all our cards on the table, so to speak, all the players involved.
“I meant what I told Fred,” Charles continued once the elevator door had closed shut. “If we are to push forward with this, it will involve more than just him and me; we will all need to work together to make this venture successful. Fred’s acceptance that things are going to have to change moving forward just adds one more piece to the expanding puzzle.”
Warren held silent for a couple of moments as the elevator slowly descended. “I see you shoring up your assets. Duncan and myself have fallen into place, and I see no reason for Hank not to do the same. But I assume by your continued use of the word ‘if’ that you haven’t entirely decided what roles the others should have in this.”
“As strongly as I feel a need for action, I also feel the same obligation that you and Hank feel toward Scott, Ororo, and Jean. Given everything that happened tonight, I am hesitant to put them further at risk.”
“You also said that you trusted us,” Warren hesitated, “despite the failings in this mission.”
“I do,” Xavier answered simply.
“We can start whenever you’re ready, Scott.”
“Isn’t there any way we can do this while I’m awake?” Scott questioned carefully.
Hank smiled and turned back to face his patient. He and Jean had spent the last twenty minutes getting prepped for an emergency surgery, and Hank had just finished explaining every aspect of the coming procedure for Scott. Sure, that was enough to make anyone nervous, but Scott was more nervous about the anesthesia than he was about his injury or the surgery required to repair it.
“Trust me, it will be easier on all of us if you sleep through it,” Hank told him. “Just count back slowly from 200.” He placed one hand on Scott’s healthy shoulder and placed the gas mask over Scott’s nose with his other hand. “Hopefully you’ll be asleep by 50.”
“I wouldn’t lie to you, Scott. This will be tricky. But I am certain we can do it safely.”
Scott nodded. He trusted Hank, in contrast to the last time he had been here in Hank’s care. Hank understood that too, and he gave Scott’s healthy shoulder a reassuring squeeze, appreciative, and also mindful of the added trust he had been given.
Henry McCoy had understood from the beginning that whatever medical treatment Scott required would be up to them to provide. Thankfully, Hank was up to the task. And he was grateful that Jean and Ororo were willing to volunteer their help. Jean was doubly motivated; like Hank, she had a deep interest in medicine. Ororo was less enthusiastic than Jean for the task, in and of itself. But she readily stepped in to fill the need, knowing that it was up to them to make sure Scott got the best possible medical care.
“Don’t worry.” Jean smiled as she sat down by Scott’s side. “You’re in good hands.” She believed that, absolutely.
Scott took one deep breath before he nodded, and started counting backward.
Jean turned on the anesthetic gas, then sat watching the readouts of his vital signs, listening attentively to his breathing and the sound of his voice.
Hank had spent the better part of the flight back to the Institute treating Scott’s injury and preparing a specialized drug protocol for his anesthesia. Of course, when Jean looked it over she had realized that it was roughly three-to-four times the normal dosage, blending no fewer than three powerful anesthetic agents. Her shock must have shown, but Hank had only smiled good-naturedly in response.
“Naturally, I started at the low end of the dosing spectrum.”
“Jean had laughed nervously. “For what, an orca?” But she sat watching Scott’s induction, which was going as smoothly as any textbook procedure.
Hank glanced toward the observation area adjacent to the infirmary and saw that Xavier and Warren had just joined them.
“Ororo, would you mind giving Warren and Charles an update for me?”
She nodded. “Certainly.”
“You can tell them that we’ve just begun inducing anesthesia, and that Scott is responding well to our protocol. And assure them that I will be out to talk to them as soon as the surgery is completed.”
Around 120 Jean saw Scott’s eyes close– well, she saw his visor darken, which was as close as you could come to seeing Scott’s eyes close.
And therein lay the reason they were here, in a makeshift surgery suite beneath the Xavier Institute, as opposed to anxiously waiting outside a hospital operating room. The uncontrollable nature of Scott’s mutation meant that his visor (or special glasses) had to be worn constantly. That, coupled with what Hank described as an extraordinary resistance to pain medications and sedatives, meant that hospital was out of the question for Scott.
Scott realized the drugs had started to take effect when he lost his place around 75 and couldn’t focus enough to remember what should come next. That scared him. For most of his life Scott had instinctively understood that he had to be in control: show no vulnerability, no weakness, and as little emotion as he could manage. It had been that way for as long as he could remember, protection in the Home (the orphanage where he had lived following his parents’ deaths), then survival on the streets after he’d left the Home. With no one to rely on but himself, his strength was his survival, and self-control was his strength.
A lot had changed over the past few years, but some things would never change. Scott Summers didn’t like being out of control of his life for any reason. But lying there feeling fuzzy and detached, he realized that if something went wrong – if his visor shifted – he couldn’t close his eyes to stop his optic blasts. By the time Hank or Jean could even realize that something was wrong, in those few seconds Scott could demolish half the Institute... or worse.
Jean took his hand. “It’s okay, Scott,” she whispered. “Don’t fight it. We’re taking care of you.”
His fear immediately died down with the sound of her voice, which surprised him, because it didn’t make sense. His circumstances hadn’t changed; the danger was the same, and Jean knew it as well as he did. She knew that without the safeguard his glasses or visor provided he was a danger to anything he looked at, conscious or otherwise. And she understood that he had no way of controlling it, especially now. The stubborn, logical part of his brain – the part that had just been silenced for the first time ever – insisted that he should have been reminding her, warning her....
“You promise?” he asked instead, his voice sleepy, words slurred, but the focus behind them remained sharp; he needed to hear her answer. Without the defense of logic, the pursuit of control, Scott was left feeling utterly helpless, reaching out to her for reassurance. She had to know how much that terrified him... and even that didn’t seem to matter the way it should have. Hearing her reassurance, the sound of her voice, was all that mattered to him.
“Yeah, I promise,” Jean answered certainly, tightening her grip on his hand.
The last thing he remembered before his eyes fell closed again was Jean, smiling at him, beautiful.
“Everything’s alright,” she whispered. And the sound of her voice felt like the sweetest song, reverberating deep into every corner of his brain. “Don’t worry, Scott; just go to sleep now,” he heard her say.... That sounded like the perfect solution... so simple... especially when he was so tired.
His thoughts and emotions stilled, giving in to the sleep that was rapidly overtaking him. Jean kept part of her attention lightly focused on Scott’s mind while the rest of her focus remained on the readings that monitored his vital signs, until both were telling her the same thing.
“He’s under,” she told Hank.
“Good. Let’s get you scrubbed in for surgery, then we can get started.”
Jean nodded. Ororo had returned to take Jean’s place monitoring anesthesia. Jean took a deep breath and began readying herself to assist Hank in the surgery.
Several hours later the door opened and Hank emerged, shedding his surgical gown and mask. He was smiling tiredly.
Warren quickly got to his feet.
“How did it go?” Xavier asked, rolling forward.
“The procedure went well, and Scott came through surgery with the proverbial flying colors.”
Warren clapped Hank’s shoulder, a broad smile covering his face. “Excellent job, Hank.”
“I had excellent help.” He motioned toward Ororo, who stood alongside him. “And of course, Jean,” who was still monitoring the patient.
“Hey,” Jean said softly, “how do you feel?”
Hank had warned her that Scott would likely wake quickly once removed from the constant flow of anesthetic. But, for the near future, he shouldn’t be expected to retain consciousness for more than short bursts of time.
“Groggy,” Scott answered resentfully. He tried to turn his head in order to get a look at his injured arm but his muscle control wasn’t what it should have been. He shut his eyes when the sudden movement jarred his visor. But before he could reach his own hand to secure it, Jean’s hands were already there, keeping his head steady, holding his visor in place.
“Easy,” she said gently. “We gave you enough anesthetic to take down a Clydesdale.”
Scott laughed in spite of himself.
“So you need to give yourself some time to recover,” she admonished him. “Okay?”
“Yeah,” he answered, and she took her hands away from his face. Just to be sure, he waited another couple of seconds, until she sat back, before he opened his eyes.
She was watching him worriedly, but still smiling, just as beautiful as he remembered.... And seeing her now, he got the same funny feeling in the pit of his stomach that he’d felt the very first time he had seen her. He closed his eyes again, remembering that day two years ago. He was standing on the front steps of the Institute watching Jean Grey arrive with her parents.... Scott felt like he never wanted to look away from her... and he couldn’t figure out if that elated or terrified him; the sensation felt like a little of each. Before he could think on it any further he had drifted back into restful sleep.
“His resistance to pain medications will make his recovery exceedingly difficult to manage,” Hank confessed to Xavier. Ororo and Warren had already gone inside the recovery suite to see Scott. Xavier took a moment to observe the joy with which Jean, Ororo, and Warren were keeping their vigil. All around, concerned expressions were gradually being replaced by relieved smiles. Hank repressed a worried sigh of his own; now hardly seemed the time to borrow additional worry. “But I suppose there will be ample time for those worries.” he conceded aloud.
“Were you able to check the other’s conditions?” Charles asked.
“Briefly, on the flight back,” Hank answered, “and I found minor injuries only. Jean was suffering the aftereffects of smoke inhalation. Ororo has some cuts and scrapes, but nothing serious.” Hank’s brow furrowed with worry in spite of that good news. “But Scott’s case is altogether different.” He resumed thoughtfully trying to solve that puzzle. “It will take time for his shoulder and arm to heal, and every plan of action I come up with for his long-term treatment is problematic.”
Xavier patted his friend on the back. “I have faith in your abilities Hank, and in your ingenuity. I know you’ll find the answer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to join the vigil.”
Hank nodded, still with a bit of distraction, as he watched Xavier roll to Scott’s side. It then occurred to him that he hadn’t checked Warren earlier, and he probably should have; Warren had taken a nasty spill when he’d been knocked out of the air at one point during their struggle against Jack O’Diamonds. However, when Hank pulled Warren aside a few moments later he immediately noticed that Warren’s previously visible minor injuries had already healed.
“Curious,” Hank exclaimed thoughtfully. “Warren, does your metabolic healing factor extend to broken bones?”
“I’ve got a few cracked ribs that are on the mend,” Warren conceded.
“I wonder... might I take a sample of your blood for analysis? If I could manage to transfer those healing properties to another host....”
“Do you think that’s possible?”
Hank shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. Otherwise, I’m not sure what to do for Scott,” he confessed. “Given the strength of his resistance to sedatives and pain represents, I’m left with very few viable options for long-term treatment. I’m worried that will translate into a long and very painful recovery process for him.”
Warren nodded. The decision hardly deserved a second thought. “Of course. I hope it will help,” he offered.
The two men retreated to a quiet wing of the infirmary which served as Hank’s medical laboratory. There, Warren seated himself on an exam table, his powerful wings flexed closely against his back, and allowed Hank to collect a sample of his blood.
Warren’s mind wandered, returning to a scene several years earlier. Warren had been a man of action then, badly in need of temperance. Maybe he still was that. But the first time Warren had stood in Charles Xavier’s office, it was with Fred Duncan standing outside in the hall... waiting to see if Warren would choose to join Xavier’s Institute or if Duncan would take him away to face charges. Obstruction of justice, interfering with police investigations, and generally being a menace to society by trying to save it from itself.
“Mr. Worthington. Fred Duncan tells me you are quite talented.”
“Is this the part where I should plead the Fifth?”
“Not at all,” Xavier answered agreeably. “But I do think this is an important moment for you. You have a decision to make. Continue on your current path and it will be only a matter of time until you are exposed, not as a high-flying vigilante but as a mutant. For the moment we are a curious genetic anomaly. In time, as our numbers increase, we will become the next stage in human evolution. Duncan knows this as well. That knowledge is why he brought you to me instead of to the attention of his colleagues. Unfortunately there are many out there – Duncan knows some – who would prefer to lock you away, for observation, at best.”
“Experimentation, at worst,” Warren concluded.
Xavier nodded grimly.
Warren bristled. “He’d do better to stop his colleagues from using us as science projects.”
“Perhaps so. But sometimes working for reform within the system offers more options than attempting to subvert it single-handedly.”
Warren snorted at the thinly veiled reference to his vigilante ways. “You said ‘we’.”
“Ah. Quite right. I have neglected to properly introduce myself. My name is Professor Charles Xavier, and I am also a mutant. My gift is telepathy.”
Warren raised an eyebrow. “So this place is what? A sanctuary for mutants? And what am I supposed to do in here that I can’t do out in the world?”
“Part sanctuary. Part school. Part research institution. This place is the Xavier Institute for Gifted Students. My ultimate goal is to locate mutants whom, like yourself, don’t fit neatly into society. I want to gather them here and use this place to give them the tools they will need to live productive and fulfilling lives. Once they are ready to rejoin society, they can reintegrate themselves into the world as ambassadors for our cause, if you will.”
“What if I don’t want to ‘fit in’? What if I’d rather shake things up, change the world?”
“Change is a slow process, Warren. Out there, you can help people, one or two at a time, if you’re lucky. If you can manage to elude the authorities and the press, if you can keep yourself hidden in the shadows. Here, we can build toward a future where all mutants can one day come out of the shadows.”
“Just not today, or tomorrow, or the day after–”
“You’re right. The world is not ready to see us as we are – not yet – but one day it will be. In fact, that day may well come sooner than we expect. We have to be ready for it. We cannot afford to wait idly and hope the world will accept us with open arms.”
Warren snorted. “Not likely.”
“No. It’s not. But we can change that.”
You see, I believe that as we prepare mutants for the world, we simultaneously prepare the world for mutants.”
“You should put that on a bumper sticker.”
“I’ve already made it my school motto: Mutatis mutandis.”
“Latin translation: ‘Changing only those things which need to be changed’.”
Xavier nodded. “Discretion doesn’t have to be a dirty word, nor temperance. You don’t have to try to change the whole world all at once, Warren. Nor must you set out to change the world alone.”
“Mutatis mutandis.” Warren gave a thoughtful nod. That had made sense to him....
Warren watched Hank draw his blood, then carefully put the sample vial away behind a locked cabinet in his lab. The hackles on the back of his neck raised as Warren hopped down from the exam table. There it was, the reminder that even a simple medical procedure wasn’t simple for them. There was always a catch, always a risk.
“Thank you very much, Warren.”
“Of course,” Warren answered, attempting to shake off his discomfort. When he had first committed himself to Xavier’s school, he had known this part would be a challenge for him. Warren had never minded risking his life for total strangers on the street, but sometimes he missed the part where he could fly off into the night after that.
Instead he stayed, accepting his place at the Institute, making this place part of his mission in life. He’d become a teacher, a leader, a mentor. He’d become a responsible adult, part of the system he had once lived to rebel against – and a part of him still resented that fact. Sometimes he missed being able to solve his problems by simply taking flight.
His gaze rested briefly on the vial of his blood now locked away behind shatterproof glass cabinets. Some risks demanded to be taken.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004