HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace 3
Notes: To forewarn the squeamish, there's blood in this one. And I
refuse to employ bad spelling as a way to convey dialect in speech.
It's impossible to read. There are better ways to get across Rogue's
accent, or anyone else's for that matter.
For a week, Gracie played guinea pig to Jean Grey. A tense week. She
wasn't sure what came after this. Home, probably; she missed her
family. Xavier had said she could call whenever she liked and she
did, every night. Her elder sister's place had a phone. She told
Charlene all about the school -- Professor Xavier, Ororo, Jean Grey .
. . Scott. She hadn't seen Scott Summers much after that first
morning, but whenever she did, he always had a smile for her, a brief
exchange, some joke, a query about how she was. She found that she
looked for him. Just his voice heard at a distance down an elegant
oak-paneled hall was enough to turn her mouth dry.
"You like him, ain't it?" Charlene said.
"Of course I do. He's a nice guy."
"That ain't what I meant."
"He has a girlfriend."
"Yeah. I don't know what he sees in her."
"If she looks like you described, I do."
"You *like* him," Charlene said.
"Yeah, sure, but like I said, he has a girlfriend."
"Why a white man?"
"I don't know." Gracie twisted the phone cord around her finger. "He
don't talk down to me. He don't drink. Much. He's not loud. And he
has a sense of humor."
"In that order?"
"No. I think the sense of humor comes first."
Charlene had laughed and hung up.
Gracie sighed and leaned back against the wall, knocked her head a
few times into plaster. "Idiot. You have a crush on a Berkeley boy
scout." Just as Jean Grey had accused her of at the outset. Yet she
hadn't lied that first day when she'd told Grey that she didn't have
one; at the time, she hadn't. It had stolen up on her slowly over the
past week, snuck in the window of her heart and curled up around her
cynicism, muffling it. A single one of his lips-curled-at-the-corners
smiles could send the blood running through her veins like a night
But she genuinely *liked* him, too, and therein lay the rub. Had it
been a plain crush, it would have been easier to ignore. It wasn't.
He got her backhanded humor. And she got his. Just last night they'd
spent an entire dinner waging an escalating war with very bad puns
over chicken parmesan, to the amusement of Ororo, the appreciation of
the professor, the shock of a few students, and the disgust of Jean
Grey. In fact, had Grey not watched their every move with such
evident hostility, Gracie would have found more excuses to look up
Scott. As it was, she settled for the accidental, could have sworn
that he arranged a few of those accidents. He liked her, too -- but
it was only friendship. He still felt guilt for it, a shade of
jaundiced yellow, as if their affinity betrayed Jean Grey. Gracie
knew better. She'd seen how his ruby gaze followed the doctor.
Adoration and devotion as keen as a dog's, lust too. Colors in deep
reds, maroon and violet. Grey had only to snap her fingers and he
asked how high he should jump. When he looked at Grace, it was with
pink affection only. He enjoyed her company.
She lingered another week after the doctor had finished her tests. No
one suggested she go back to South Dakota, so she didn't. Although
she missed her family, there was a seductive attraction to this place
and not for the conspicuous wealth. She was not different here, even
to be *lila wakan*. Besides, Scott was here. He held her with the
same magnetism by which he held the rest of them. A *wasicun* Crazy
Horse with a vision of freedom that set him apart and made them honor
him. And fear him, too, a little. He'd been born for this. The
bullets of the enemy -- be they of words or steel -- couldn't pierce
his heart, kill that dream. The school belonged to Xavier. It rotated
on the old man's axis, and the vision had ultimately been his. Yet
Gracie didn't see him much. He taught his classes and spent the rest
of his time on the phone or in meetings with the wealthy and
influential, raising funds and working for the protection of all
their kind. Mutants, not Indians. Scott, by contrast, was everywhere.
Toilet in the boy's wing backed up? Call Mr. Summers. Jubilee and
Bobby fighting again over the Playstation in the den? Call Mr.
Summers. St. John had burned a hole in his dorm room carpet? Call Mr.
Summers, then get lost. Fast.
Ororo had been right that the kids were a bit nervous of him,
considered him strict and weren't always sure when he was kidding and
when serious. But he still had a cloud of them that orbited him, in
the dining room or den, in the gym or on the PE field outside. They
asked him to play ball with them, or table hockey or pool; they asked
him for help with their homework. They were teens, and needed someone
to heroize. Scott made an admirable hero. Some of the boys even
mimicked his straight-backed walk without being aware they were doing
so. They wanted to be him, from Warren-of-the-white-wings to John
Proudstar. And the girls --
"What color do you think his eyes really are behind those glasses?"
Jubilee. Gracie stopped outside the door to one the girls' rooms.
"You've asked that before," said Kitty. "About nine-hundred times.
They have to be black. Black dreamboat eyes like Ashton Kutcher's."
"Who's that?" Rogue.
"Remember Kelso from 'That 70s Show'? He's on 'Baker Street' now,
Tuesday nights, plays the geeky bartender."
"Yuk. He was such a ditz. *Is* such a ditz."
"He is not!"
"Yeah, he is. Don't insult Mr. Summers. And I bet Mr. Summer's eyes
are blue, like Tom Cruise."
"Tom Cruise got hazel eyes, girlfriend," said another girl whose
voice Gracie couldn't place.
"No, they ain't. They're blue."
"Whatever." Kitty. "I'm sure Dr. Grey knows."
"Nobody *knows*," Jubliee replied. "He'd blast you."
"Like Zeus and Semele," said Kitty.
"Zeus and who?" Jubilee.
"Dionysus' parents. You know -� as in the Greek god? Don't you pay
attention in Miss Munroe's class? And I'm sure Dr. Grey has asked,
and I'm sure he told her. So she knows."
"It's not the same thing as *seeing*," Jubilee retorted.
Grace smiled and went on. Later that day, she ran into Scott. It was
lunch. Jean Grey was no where to be seen and for once, none of the
boys were hanging on him. He stood in front of the kitchen window
teasing Valeria the cook. They weren't speaking English. "*Pazienza!
Pazienza!*" Valeria was yelling at him. Gracie stopped at his elbow
and the cook reached over the counter to pat her cheek. The woman
couldn't get inside a foot of anyone without grabbing them. Even
Rogue. She just made sure to touch cloth. Very Italian. Not very
Indian. "*Ciao, ciao, bambola!* This man has no patience. *Un grande
ragazzo!* He wants his pizza right now, just like a little boy!" It
was Friday and Grace had been told that Friday meant pizza day. Real
Italian pizza. "*E come va, bambola?*"
She blinked. "What?"
"How are you?" Scott translated. "Say *'Bene, grazie, e tu?'*"
"*Bene, grazie, e tu?*" she repeated.
"*Non c'� male.* Not bad, not bad." And Valeria handed her a plate
with a pizza slice.
"Hey!" Summers yelled. "I was in line first! *Ti faccio vedere io!*"
She smacked him on the back of his hand. "*E dove � la tua
gentilezza?* She's a lady, ragazzo! Ladies first, no?" And Valeria
went back to the cutting board, fetched him his pizza and handed the
plate over. Three slices. "*Va', va'! Va' a farti friggere!*" She
made shooing motions at him and turned to the two other students
who'd approached for their lunch.
"What'd she say?" Gracie asked.
"Get lost. Essentially." He swung a leg over a bench to sit down.
"Ororo told me that you teach Italian here. Don't seem to be on the
same ballcourt as algebra. You learn it when you went to Italy?"
"I knew it already �- learned some as a kid and then took it in
college." Picking up the restaurant-style jar of grated parmesan, he
sprinkled his pizza. "My grandmother was born in Turin. Angela
Momigliano. She fled to the States when Mussolini let in the Germans
to round up Jews in '43, met an Irishman in New York and married
"I didn't know there were Italian Jews."
"Not a lot, but some."
"An Italian grandmother *and* a Jewish grandmother all rolled up in
one. How'd you survive?"
"Very well, actually. She spoiled me rotten. Still does."
"She don't care that you're a mutant?"
He glanced down at his plate, frowned and spoke quietly. "She's knows
what it means to be persecuted, Grace."
Grace just nodded, said after a minute, "So you do Chanukkah instead
"No, she converted when she married my grandfather. I'm a lapsed
Catholic who still crosses himself by habit in a cathedral and
genuflects to the altar, but that's about it. Oh," he gestured
absently with a slice, "I remember the rosary, too. God knows I had
to say enough of them when I was a kid." He took a bite.
"Good altar boy."
"No, very naughty altar boy."
"I can see it. There was a Catholic priest on the res. My grandmother
never let him get near me. She didn't want me messed up. She barely
even let me go to school." She poked at her lunch. "What kind of
pizza is this anyway? There ain't no sauce on it."
"White pizza. Sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic. Try it. And why
wouldn't your grandmother want you in school?"
"She was afraid it would spoil me. She raised me Indi'n."
"How would going to school change that?"
The question was genuinely curious, not mocking, so she answered.
"White education is not like ours. The things you think are important
aren't things we think are."
"Reading and writing and arithmetic aren't important?"
He snorted but didn't reply, took several bites of pizza instead,
finally asked, "So what do Indians teach at school?"
"It is not school like you think. We learn from our Elders. Stories
and practical things �- how to listen, how to see, how to do what is
right. How to walk the Red Road."
"Ethics and observation and applied common sense. There's nothing
wrong with that. I try to teach that, too."
"I'm glad you approve!"
He set his pizza down, raised both hands. "It wasn't an insult,
Grace. I'm not a very good teacher if all I teach them is math.
That's what I meant."
She nodded. "Sorry. But it's an old story, for Indians. White man
coming in to tell us what we should know. What matters. My people and
yours have different ideas of what matters in life."
"Maybe not as much as you think."
She met his eyes behind his glasses, or as much of them as she could
see. Dim red points. The light actually came *from* his eyes; it
disappeared when he blinked. Right now, he was doing his level best
to hear her, not just listen to her words.
Something buzzed in her jaw and chest and gut like the wings of a
hummingbird. Powerful. Fragile. A bright thing arrowing between the
sky world and mother earth, bearer of hope and luck, healer of her
spirit. "Maybe not," she echoed.
They didn't say anything else for a while. She listened to the
students talk around them, suddenly remembered the conversation she'd
eavesdropped on earlier. "What color are your eyes?"
He stared at her a moment, then that quirky grin. "Why?"
"Some of the girls want to know."
He didn't reply for a full minute. "*Which* girls?"
"Jubilee, Kitty, Rogue, another whose name I can't remember."
"Jen, most like." He shook his head. "Why do *you* want to know?"
"Curiosity killed the Indian. Though in this case, I'd rather that
weren't literal, so keep the shades down, Mr. Risky Business."
He lost it, laid his forehead down on his folded hands and just
howled. It got everyone's attention as students glanced around at
this remarkable apparition of Mr. Summers laughing his head off -�
though perhaps with less surprise than they would have a week ago.
Then they returned to their previous conversations. "They're blue,"
Scott said finally, raising his head. "Were blue. They're red now.
Everything I see is red."
That took her by surprise. "Everything?"
"Red and black."
"Don't your eyes adjust? To the color of the glasses?"
"It's not the glasses. It's my eyes. I see in dual tone, like *film
noir*. Or *film rosso*, I guess."
Jean Grey picked that moment to walk in, spotted them talking
together and frowned. Finished with her pizza, Gracie made a hasty
goodbye and took off, passed Grey on her way out. "All yours, Coyote
Outside, she pulled her cigarettes from her pocket and lit one, blew
smoke up at a blue sky.
Red and black. Robbed of colors. Robbed of the sky. Gracie pondered
that. His flip tone might have told anyone else that he didn't care,
that he'd adjusted to it. Gracie knew otherwise.
It was that same Friday afternoon on which two important events
occurred. The first was that she picked up the phone in the office.
She'd walked by the place a dozen times, a door with a long glass
window beside it. No one was ever there. Files had been stacked
haphazardly on expensive wood filing cabinets; there was a computer
with a fancy printer, a fax-phone, mailboxes along one wall, and the
desk supplies matched in maroon. Stacked on the desk's hutch were
boxes of pens and dry-erase markers, post-it notes and pink slips for
taking messages, stationary, a yellow and black book entitled WORD
PERFECT FOR DUMMIES and various other software reference guides, some
brochures about the school. Outside, stenciled in black on the glass:
"Xavier's School for the Gifted. Main Office." Sometimes the phone
was ringing. Once, she'd seen Ororo sprint down the hall to yank open
the door and snatch up the receiver, give a breathless delivery:
"Xavier's School for the Gifted. This is Ororo Munroe. How may I help
So this day, when she walked by and the phone was ringing yet again,
she entered to lift the receiver. "Xavier's School for the Gifted.
This is Gracie. How may I help you?"
A mother. A mutant daughter. A distraught tale and a message for
Professor Xavier. Gracie took it down on pink pad and tucked it in
the upper corner of the desk blotter. Then she turned to survey the
Leaning Tower of Files with student names under plastic tabs. Anybody
could walk in here and access sensitive information. Grades, medical
reports, behavioral records written up by the teachers. She shook her
head. This was probably not the truly sensitive stuff, but sloppy
nonetheless. She opened the filing drawers and got to work.
The second important thing occurred a few hours later when someone
stopped by the office. Gracie was still there, sorting mail and
cleaning out cabinets. She'd taken two more messages, as well. One
for the professor and one for Scott. How did anything get done here
if there was never anybody in the office? And people accused Indians
of poor organization.
Now at the sound of feet, she looked up to find the girl called Rogue
watching her from the doorway. Marie, Scott had named her.
Untouchable. Her 'gift' was to drain the life force and powers out of
anyone unlucky enough to contact her bare skin. The office lights
shown down on her hair, brown with a startling white streak in the
front. "Watcha doing?" she asked.
"Fixing the office. Don't the school have a secretary?"
"Not that I ever seen. Mr. Summers does most of it, or Miss Munroe."
She came inside a little further. "Can I ask you a question?"
Gracie stopped her work, turned. Strobe hope and fear in Rogue, who
was literally wringing her hands together. "What is it?"
"They say you're a healer. Might could you heal me?"
Grace left the cabinet open and came around the desk until she was
face-to-face with the girl. They were almost of a height. Plains
genes or not, Gracie had never been tall. "Being a mutant ain't a
disease. Not something to fix. I can only work with what your body
thinks is natural. For you, 'natural' includes your gift."
"It's not my gift!" In distress, Rogue bit the back of her wrist,
spoke around it. "It's my fucking curse!"
Gracie didn't know what to say. Rogue's pain beat at her. Reaching
out, she wrapped a hand around Rogue's upper arm enclosed in its thin
body suit. "I'm sorry, Little Sister. Life is shitty sometimes."
Rogue wasn't looking at her. Her face had turned away. She was all
grey and black and the wide winter-quartz sky of vacant grief, like
the voices in the wind at Wounded Knee.
Gracie reached out with her other hand on instinct. No thought. The
hand connected with the side of Rogue's face, cupped the girl's
cheek. For a moment, nothing. Then a sting, bee-like, or maybe a wasp
grasped in the palm. Burn, burn. Growing more intense. A weakness
behind Gracie's knees, a knotting at her jaw, a pain under her
sternum. Her heart skipped once, twice, three times. *Wakan Tanka,*
she prayed. *Give me strength.* She didn't let go of Rogue, didn't
let the girl pull away despite shocked brown eyes and lips parted in
And then the burning drained away. All that was left was the feel of
Rogue's young skin under Gracie's palm. Grace smiled. Rogue's mouth
closed. Tears sprang. "You healed me."
"No, Little Sister. I just touched you."
In that moment, the people came. Jean Grey first, racing through the
door, expecting -- What? To find Gracie dead on the floor? Grace was
aware of the professor's mind-touch. He'd sensed what she'd done, the
surge of her power, the cause of it, and sent a lightening mental
call to Grey. Scott was right behind his doctor fiancee. Seeing her,
seeing Rogue, his jaw dropped. Students had followed him. Bobby
Drake, who had a crush on Rogue. Jubilee and Kitty, eyes wide at the
spectacle of A Rogue Touched. Ororo, too, as stunned as Scott. Gracie
didn't let go of Rogue, who wept openly now. Instead, she put up her
other hand to hold both sides of the girl's face, pulled her forehead
to meet Grace's own. "Hey, Little Sister. You'll be okay."
Continued DIRECTLY in part 3b/10
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