A/N: So it's 1 o'clock in the bloody morning and I'm going to Philly in six hours with friends. Yay!! Except I can't sleep. And I'm so freakin' buzzed :D Mad dogs people! You gotta stop at two. *picks herself off the floor again* Right, bygones. Here's chapter two! I hope you like..
Westchester, New York
“Cyclops, I advise you to give this another thought.”
He continued to throw a few things into his rucksack while I parked myself right across from him on the other side of his bed, blocking his way to the door.
“Don’t pull rank on me *dad*. You know I’m not about to budge on this one.”
He knows I only address him as Cyclops in front of others as per field protocol. When we’re alone I use the call-sign purely as a last resort, just as he refers to our extremely private father-son relationship when nothing else works… or as a verbal equivalent to rolling his eyes at me. Interesting this… disassociation he’s created in his mind – the wise professor whose every word he hangs on to, admires, obeys… is not same as the exasperating, slightly nagging, zealously protective father who embarrasses him like every typical parent does a child.
“Besides I thought you agreed.”
“The suggestion has potential yes, but I see no need for us to be so hasty.”
“Hasty? We wait any longer and there’d be no *us* left! We can’t afford to waste another second. The Right’s been whipping our asses and handing ‘em back to us on a monthly basis for a whole year. We’ve got to do something!”
Whole year my left lame foot. That was grossly exaggerated and he did it only for effect. But I didn’t bother to take the bait.
“Scott, this mutant you seek is an unknown variable. We don’t know where his loyalties lie. We don’t know if he would share our beliefs and be willing to risk his life for our cause. For Christ’s sake we don’t even know what his mutation is!?!”
He sighed deeply and went back to his packing. Not much, just two sets of clean and ironed shirts and a change of jeans. Underwear, sunglasses, visor just in case, cologne. A framed photograph of Jean and Scott from their vacation in Seychelles, three years ago.
“Doesn’t matter. If this guy is as powerful as you think he is, then someone is going to try and recruit him sooner than later. It’d rather be us than Magneto or Hodge or Sinister or any other psychopaths out there.”
Good point. And yet…
“How do you know he isn’t one himself? Look I think it’s worth deliberating once more to check for anomalies. Maybe we should use my sources to dig up this man’s history before jet-setting halfway across the globe, probably for nothing.”
“Fine then. You deliberate, go back to the Cerebro, talk to your sources… do whatever. Just keep me posted, I’ll be in touch. We’ll waste less time that way. And it’s only Canada for God’s sake, dad.”
There, the over-drawled *dad* again. The boy wasn’t listening to me! And I was getting a tad desperate.
“Scott I am not convinced about this. And until I am, you are *not* to leave the mansion premises. I forbid you.”
He paused then and looked at me straight. The deep oceanic blue of his eyes all the more intense with fervor… a stark purpose and tenacity that was there the first time I looked into my son’s unshielded young eyes… but had been missing ever since I asked Storm to take over. The profound hurting has been there for a while now.
// You think I can’t handle it. //
Yes, we resort to mind-speech when words feel too heavy a burden for our hesitant tongues to bear.
// You’re weak. You throw up everything you eat. You tire easily. //
Behind the ruby quartz, Scott could mask his soul… his emotions so easily. Now without it, there was nowhere to hide. His face was still stone rigid but his eyes were achingly expressive. He didn’t want to hear what I had to say, anyone could see that. Heck I didn’t have to see his face at all to know the pain I’d just caused him.
Oh all right, so it was a cheap shot. But I did try reasoning with him professionally first didn’t I? A concerned father’s frantic babbling is not likely to make much of a dent either, I was quite aware of that. But, I knew I *must* try.
Scott joined me about seven years ago, he was nearly sixteen then. Parents died when he was nine in a car crash with the boy in it. He suffered severe head injuries and lost his ability to control the optic blasts forever, course he didn’t know it at the time. That coma lasted seventeen weeks.
Once he woke up, thanks to this country’s *excellent* social welfare system, the child was shipped from one foster home to another for the next six years. Coming into his mutant powers suddenly one night, Scott panicked and ran and spent a whole year living on the hopeless streets of New York before I found him. Blind, scared, alone with not a soul he could trust… and yet supporting himself through whatever means available… resolute never to open his eyes again lest he cause any more destruction… any more death.
His strength and uncompromisable integrity shone right back at me through the psyionic reaches of the Cerebro… and I just knew he was the one I’d been looking for.
What followed was completely unplanned for. I grew exceptionally fond of the young boy and in time, observed more than just a mission-driven relationship take shape between us. I adopted Scott Summers as my legal heir soon thereafter, he’d been with me for a little over nine months by the time. He approached our new relationship with thorough caution, eager to please… wary of making mistakes that other teenagers would give no second thought to. Such… hesitation, it used to break my heart on a daily basis. Took him a whole three months to introduce me as his father to his friends. That wretched utterance of the joyfully *American* endearment “Dad” took another four.
And now my son was sulking… unhappy to hear me state the obvious, refused to look me in the eye and resumed packing. Donned his jacket that once fit him well. Now draped over him loosely as if from a hanger in his closet. As if he was once again the underclothed undernourished kid groping his way through the dark, dank alleys of his morbid past.
// Why do you insist on disobeying me so? //
I asked, even while I suspect I already knew the answer to that.
// Because I can’t just do nothing. You know I can't.//
// Send Warren. //
// We can’t take any X-Man off the team right now. //
// I should go then. //
// You’re leaving tonight for the summit in DC. //
// I’ll cover both in one trip. //
// You can’t afford to be unavailable that long, Storm might need you here. //
// You have an answer for everything today don’t you? //
/ /It’s my job… isn’t it? //
And then with a moment’s hesitation he whispered…
“I am still your second-in-command right? Or is that Warren now?”
I shook my head in resignation.
He was right you know. He’d been right since the moment I told him about this unique and extraordinarily powerful mutant I sensed while in Cerebro this morning. The one who seemed unattached to any faction on either side of the war right now.
He who goes by the very unusual codename of, what was it? Oh yes - Wolverine.
He who may well tip the troubled scales of control back in our favor, were he to come aboard the X-Men.
Scott was done packing. He waited only for me to bid him farewell, in other words to grant him the approval he so desperately sought… but would leave without if need be. And while I knew he was right, I also happen to be a father. A worried one at that.
I suppose I was in denial. Like the mountain mule I can be, I was clinging to my faith that Scott’s mutation would soon return, and my intended field leader for the X-Men would be reinstated. Not because that was the initial grand design as Warren once cynically remarked, but because Cyclops *is* the most eligible person I know for the job.
I need his quick strategic thinking and unwavering focus on what’s important and what’s not. I need his strength and courage, and above all his composure and structured stability, to head this team of otherwise extremely independent, impassioned young individuals.
Cyclops is the rational adhesive that keeps them together. Without him… they drift as orphans driven purely by emotion, heeding no common direction.
However, that Cyclops was gone… for now. I wasn’t able to save him in his moment of weakness and now all I had left was this young man, Scott… too broken in body, if not in spirit, to wage this war, any war. All those insecurities from his boyhood had come rushing back, making him feel more vulnerable and less in control. And while it was surely prudent to send him away from this mayhem because he was only stressing himself out here with frustration… who knew what ghastly troubles awaited him in the barrens of Canada.
Could this mutant – Wolverine be trusted?
I may have lost my field leader for now, but God knew I was not prepared to lose my son. Not now, not ever.
//I need to do this Charles… please. //
I sighed, audibly, I suppose. Sometimes I forget how very much like me he can be.
Stubborn as a mountain mule.
“Packed your medications I hope?”
He smiled. In relief. And nodded.
He flung the bag over his left shoulder and came over to my side. For the briefest of moments he bent to hug me, then broke apart before I could start counting his un-fractured ribs again.
Next chapter >>
A/N: Um, let me know what you think?