CHILDREN of the MIDDLE WATERS 11
Warning: By this point, has anyone not figured out this novel series
is adult? :) They finally get it on; it's only taken, what, most of
Notes: Thanks to Lelia for the details of Kurt's Rom background and
a little about the Rom themselves, but I have modified Kurt's origin
story. I imply no connection between Kurt and Mystique; he was born
Rom. Anne Marie helped a bit on legal questions, and Grace giving
Scott colors was a suggestion from Crys, way, way back there. My
impression of Sam come from the 'New Mutants' era more than
'X-Force.' Picture of Francesco on the website.
Scott left the hospital on a winter-rainy morning seven days after
he'd been admitted. What the ambulance drivers saw when they
released him at the school's doors was a small but efficient private
clinic, not the delivery entrance to a venerable old mansion. But
they got their transfer papers signed and went cheerfully on their
way, and Scott was taken below ground to the infirmary, where Grace
was waiting. She'd gotten up with the sun and gone out to pray,
purifying herself with sage and cedar in preparation, and was now
waiting cross-legged on a spare bed to do the healing that hadn't
been possible in the hospital. His parents were present, too, as
were Jean and Victor. Hank had done the receiving, and he and EJ now
wheeled Scott below. Xavier showed up with them. Curious students
had been barred, just as curious media had been kept away from Scott
at the hospital.
He looked peaked when he arrived, and tired. He might be doing very
well for someone who'd undergone thoracic and abdominal surgery in
one fell swoop just a week ago, but he'd had the drains out only that
morning and the trip from the hospital hadn't been easy on him. Not
that it would matter, shortly.
Yet Grace wouldn't be healing him all at once. Instead, she was
going to employ this new skill of partial repair. Fact was, she
probably couldn't heal him in a single sitting on her own anyway,
even with Victor. The surgery incision was too extensive. And while
she'd repaired most of the internal damage to his abdomen and lung,
the surgical incision, controlled or not, was debilitating. She
hadn't been able to do much with it because it was highly visible.
Hank, Victor, and EJ got Scott transferred onto an infirmary bed with
minimal fuss and then all eyes turned to Grace.
It was her show now.
Sliding off the spare bed, she came over to look down at him, brush
greasy bangs off his forehead, and he made his eyebrows hop above his
night goggles, all impish -� his version of a wink. They didn't say
anything, didn't really need to. She glanced around at her brother
who laid hands on her back; he held her up, kept her from falling.
She'd told Scott once about polarities of power. Together, she and
Victor formed that kind of polarity, female and male, the one who
received and the one who gave. Then she reached out to lay her own
hands on Scott's chest where the hospital gown had been removed to
bare the bandage covering the incision, and he laid his on hers,
completing the hoop. Then she sang for him, the song the spirits had
given her, a healing song. Her power opened out.
Red ache and body weakness. She sank into the bruised tissue around
the incision and bound severed muscle, sealed broken ribs. She heard
him gasping. It was hot, the power of her healing, or so she'd been
told by those who'd been conscious. It burned like fire, like
passion, like love, as stark and beautiful as the Paha Sapa rising in
butts and mesas over the Dakota badlands. Lines of power to the
heart of the world. She drew him down and up again into the skyworld
where the ancestors and the Grandfathers and the spirit beings lived,
branching out like the limbs of the world tree, touching all. She
had the strength of the turtle people, *keha*, solid and steady. The
heart of the turtle beat even after death. It didn't give up. He
had the strength of the rock people, *inyan*, deep, deep, as far down
as world tree roots, and Victor had the power of the buffalo people,
*tatanka*, brother to the Indian. Her heart, his roots, Victor's
strength. They opened the sky at the center and pulled down the
power of re-creation, the power of healing, like a holy whirlwind,
*We are children of the middle waters, children of the earth,* she
sang. *Grandfather Creator, have mercy on us, that we may live.
Wakan tanka, Tunkashila, onshimala ye.*
*Enough,* whispered through her skull. *Enough for now. You can
finish later.* It was Xavier's voice, reverberating with the
authority of an Elder. So she obeyed.
And when she opened her eyes, she stayed on her feet. Barely, but
she stayed on her feet. Looking at Scott's face, she found him
grinning at her. "Wow," he whispered. "That was . . . just
amazing." Jean had come forward with Hank, and Gracie moved back a
bit, leaning on her brother. Jean unsealed the bandage edges and
folded it down so they could see.
Tender, wide, angry red line, all fresh and sore -� but *closed*.
The incision was closed, the surgical staples pushed out by the power
of her healing. It looked as if weeks had passed instead of days,
and his color was back. There was a collective sound of amazement
from the onlookers. He tried to lift up on elbows to see for
himself, but Jean pushed him down again. "Relax. Sleep." She
turned on Grace. "You, too. Eat. Sleep. In that order. You can
do more this evening, if you're up to it."
"I'll be up to it," she said, barely above a whisper.
Famous last words. She slept until almost midnight, then woke
ravenously hungry. She'd missed supper, and had gotten up to go raid
the kitchen, but when she exited into the nearly-dark hallway, she
noticed a light coming from under Scott's door. Surprised, she
stopped to knock, and inside, there was a shuffle and grunt, then the
door opened to reveal Scott. On his feet. He was dressed in loose
clothing to spare his chest, but he was up and looking strong.
"What on Earth are you doing in your bedroom?" she asked, amazed.
"Shouldn't you be in the infirmary in bed?"
"Why? I have to be careful not to tear anything, but you did most of
the work." He stepped aside and gestured for her to enter. "I'm
okay. Really. I'll sleep more comfortably in a real bed. Come on
in. I was waiting for you to wake up. Vic said you'd probable be
hungry again, so I brought up something. Well, EJ brought it up
because Jean won't let me carry anything heavier than a paperback,
but still. Juice, Cheeze-its, and apples. Not exactly a gourmet
spread, but it's all safe for the no-sugar girl. I ate the cookies
myself." He grinned.
Even if it hadn't been Scott offering, the prospect of food would
have been lure enough. The box of crackers, juice and apples had
been set out on the little table under his window. "I don't guess I
should be surprised that you're still awake," she said, seating
herself and digging into the Cheez-its box with a rustle of waxed
"It's not past two yet," he replied, easing down into the other
chair. He might be on his feet, but he was being very careful. "Of
course I'm up."
"I get up at five, you go to sleep at two �- what does that give us?
Three hours in the same bed together?"
He laughed, then winced and said 'ow' but still chuckled. "Opposites
"More like the sun and the moon," she replied. "Or larks and
He picked up one of the apples and exchanged his glasses for his
visor, then said, "Watch this," and proceeded to slice the apple for
her with a knife-blade of red. Grinning, she took the pieces he
offered her, ate one right out of his fingers. He made her give him
a kiss for slicing it, which rapidly turned serious and she forgot
about the rest of the food, straddled his lap to kiss him thoroughly
� but was careful not to put any of her weight on him.
When she finally pulled away, she unbuttoned his shirt enough to see
the red scar, laid a palm over it. "You ready for another round?"
"Gracie, I don't know . . . . There's no one here, if something �- "
"Shhhh." She kissed him to shut him up. "I won't overdo it, I
He was sufficiently distracted not to argue with her further.
Getting up, she pulled him over to his bed and made him lie down,
then climbed on after and sat cross-legged beside him. "Take your
shirt off." He did as she said, unbuttoning it all the way without
protest, folding it and laying it on the pillow beside him. She
picked it up and casually tossed it on the floor behind her. He
started to protest, then just shook his head and smiled ruefully.
"You're learning," she said, and laid her palms over the long
Her power rose and slid out into him, easier this time, a smoothing
and sealing instead of real reconstruction. What had been bright red
and angry faded to pink and glossy, and the still-cracked ribs
beneath knitted solid. The scar remained, but tomorrow, she'd finish
and there wouldn't be even that. As before, the healing generated
heat between them, but not all of it owed to her power. Some stemmed
from her hands on his bare skin, sliding butterfly fingers along his
torso from the base of his throat to the line of hair that ran from
flat navel down under the loose waistband of his sweatpants, arousing
him as a by-product. She made a soft humming in the back of her
throat, and he let his own hands rub up and down her arms, impatient.
He wanted to hold her. He wanted to be inside her �- an insistent
desire that had been postponed too long, from his perspective. The
connection between them shifted but didn't disappear as her power
faded. He pulled her down to kiss her mouth. His chest could bear
the weight of her now; it didn't hurt. "Is the door locked?" she
managed to ask.
"I locked it when I let you in," he whispered back.
"Very boy scout of you �- plan ahead."
He just laughed, and rolled her off his chest, down beside him on the
bed. "You spending tomorrow with me?" he asked.
She knew what he meant. The night before she'd left for Pine Ridge,
she'd turned him away at her door with the explanation, "When we
sleep together finally, I want us to wake up together, too, and spend
the day after together."
"I guess I am," she told him now.
He was leaning over her, looking down a little anxiously. "It's okay
"It's okay, Thunderbird Eyes. I want you." She ran her palm over
the curve of his shoulder and raised her knee to push against his
groin. He grunted. Her shirt ended up by his on the floor, and her
jeans and his sweatpants made a lump under the covers at the foot of
his bed where he kicked them both. It had been a long time since
she'd done this, and a while since he'd done it with anyone but Jean.
They were awkward with unfamiliar bodies, but they knew how to laugh
about that, and it was exciting as well, a wonder of discovery.
She'd never slept with a white man. He wasn't made much different,
circumcision aside, but he was a different color, plum purple instead
of dark brown, and a lot fuzzier everywhere. He laughed when she
said as much. "Hairy's not an adjective I've ever applied to
myself." His voice was throaty, and distracted.
"Indians don't have much body hair, unless it comes from white
blood." He didn't reply to that, instead tracing fingers over the
swell of her breast and down her belly. "Most full bloods can't even
grow a beard," she added, "but you've got hair on your ass."
"You sure talk a lot."
He shrugged, and she could sense what he kept to himself. With Jean,
he hadn't needed to talk.
And though he *didn't* say it, had better manners than that, jealousy
still bubbled up in her like a miasma of old bilge water. She wasn't
about to be outdone by Jean Grey. Rolling him onto his back, she
straddled his hips and took his hands in hers. "Let me show you
something." And she opened to him the rainbow river of feelings
coming from the others in the mansion, feelings that she usually kept
at bay. They flitted like a school of vibrant fish, awing him with
colors he could only remember, no longer see, and though she'd
thought to do this in order to best Jean Grey, now she spread her net
wider purely to please him, caught green peace and vermillion
anxiety, yellow excitement and lapis calm, silver joy and deep violet
depression, and somewhere, a red flash of passion. They weren't the
only ones having fun between the sheets. Curious, he tried to grab
that fish but she stopped him, whispered, "Let others have their
He let it go; it wasn't that important. Far more important were the
colors. She'd given him back colors. Jean had sometimes let him see
through her eyes, but this was different. It poured over him, made
him gasp, stirred his gut. "How do you manage this?" he asked,
shaded in sun-brilliant amazement himself. "It's overwhelming."
"There are advantages to living where there aren't many people. And
it didn't come on me all at once. I had time to learn to be quiet in
my own soul, sort out what was me and what wasn't. And I had people
to teach me, people who made me choose how to use the power. It's a
great gift, and a great responsibility."
She let the immense school fade out and disappear until it was just
them alone. "Let me feel what you feel," he whispered. "I want to
know how it feels when I touch you." And he slid his hands up her
belly and over her breasts. "You're so beautiful. Do you know what
you do to me?"
"I know." And she gave him what he asked for, pulled him into her
own sensations, more spread out in her body than his, which all
centered in his lap. But this wasn't head knowledge like he'd had
from Jean, an intimate narrative, the most personal of diaries. This
was actual physical sensation, and he gasped, because he hadn't
expected that, hadn't expected the power of it. It bowled him over.
His feelings, her feelings, they wound together tight, twisting like
rope, strong. She raised up a little on her knees to let him enter
her body, filled and filling. He made a noise of shock, then a
breathless protest, "Wait! I didn't use �- "
"It's safe; I'd know. But if you're worried . . . . " One of her
hands reached behind her to find his scrotal sack and cup it; then
there was *heat*. Not painful, but surprising, and arousing, too.
He gasped. Grinning, she shook her hair over his face, playful.
"See? Raise the body temperature a little, and no babies."
"Christ," he breathed, "do that again and I'll come, do not pass go,
do not collect two-hundred dollars." Laughing, she bent lower to
bite his earlobe, and he began to move inside her, shocked still by
the doubled sensation. Their climax struck fast with a clenching of
muscle that raised both their hips off the bed as his back arched.
Orgasm shot out from the base of the spine through the groin in a
bright, bright body rush, to curl toes and drive breath out of lungs,
then it uncoiled in a series of convulsive little thrusts until they
were completely spent. She slumped down on top of him, and he
cradled her as they slid towards sleep. *I don't have any clothes
for morning*, she thought, or maybe she said it aloud, because he
responded, "Don't worry about it. I'll show you the door I cut in
the back of our closets while you were away. You can get into my
room, or the reverse, without going out in the hallway."
That made her laugh and hit at his shoulder. "You sure were certain
of yourself, weren't you?"
"Did I have a reason not to be?"
"Arrogant." But she was still laughing.
When she woke the next morning it was almost noon and he wasn't
there. She'd been so tired that she'd outslept him -� certain to be
a rare thing. He'd left a note on his pillow:
Morning, bright eyes. I had some things to do.
To find the door, go open my closet and look at
the right-hand wall. There are two hooks on the
left side. Unfasten them and you can push the
door open into your closet -� just be careful
that you don't knock your hangers off the bar.
She really should smack him for the presumption, but a door was just
too convenient; she found it just as he'd said, let herself into her
room and giggled a bit at the whole idea of old mansions with secret
passageways. Generations from now, would the occupants find their
private access and speculate on how and why it had been put in, and
Showered and dressed, she headed downstairs. She found evidence of
Scott in several places, but no Scott in the flesh. Back from the
hospital only a day and still not fully healed, yet he was off trying
to handle business as usual. The man had not a lick of common sense,
but she wasn't his mother, and if he got overtired, well, it would be
a lesson in limits. So she went to her own office. It was the
school office really, but she thought of it as her domain even if she
hadn't been there since her return. Too many other things had
occupied her. Now, she found the files a disaster and three dead
fish floating in her tank. Sighing, she got them out and cleaned up
as best she could before tackling the files. It looked as if someone
had ransacked the place, looking for something, and then hadn't
bothered to put things back in order. That was more Ororo's style
In fact, it was Ororo who found her still in there after lunch. "You
were into my files, weren't you?" Grace asked without preamble. "And
I had dead fish! Hasn't anyone been feeding the poor things?"
Grinning, Ororo perched herself on the edge of the desk and shook
back white hair. "Rogue fed them, I believe. But she has not been
here since Scott was hurt, so I fear your fish may have suffered in
the crisis. I am sorry, about the files. And Scott is looking for
In fact Scott, with EJ behind, walked in the door on the heels of
Ororo's comment. "Make him sit down, dammit!" EJ said to Grace.
"Make him shut up," Scott retorted, but he sank into one of her
maroon leather chairs, muttering, "Fuck, I'm tired."
"I am not surprised," Grace said, facing him with arms crossed, and
thinking that EJ's presence was having an interesting effect on his
vocabulary. Then she glanced from him to EJ, who held out his hands
in helpless surrender.
"I been chasing the crazy son of bitch all morning. So's Jeannie.
He thinks he got work to do. I think I need a sledgehammer to knock
him upside the head."
"Well, you hit him, and Ro and I will sit on him," Grace replied,
which made the others laugh.
Scott did, in fact, seem inclined to sit still for a while, so they
discussed mansion business until Ro had to take Scott's mother to the
airport and pick up Valeria's son, Francesco. Scott's father was
staying at the mansion a while, so his mother was taking a commercial
flight back. EJ went to start supper with Valeria so she could show
him last minute things before returning to Italy, and Grace co-opted
Scott before he could sidetrack himself with more useless necessary
duties, saying that he needed to meet the new student. "You'll like
her," she told him.
They found Dani Elk River in the stable, in the company of the horses
and Samuel Guthrie. "How you been?" Grace asked her, throwing Sam a
glance over Dani's shoulder and hoping he might make himself scarce,
but he didn't appear to catch the hint. She liked Sam, he had a good
heart, but he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. If, as Scott had
once told her, mutants generally averaged a bit higher on the IQ
scale, Sam was no exemplar.
"I been all right," Dani replied now, her eyes following Scott, who'd
gone to greet his gelding, his usual quick-paced gate slowed down
considerably. "That your man?"
"The black's his? Nice horse. Pretty mouthy for a gelding, though,
more like a stallion. He must've been either hand raised, or fixed
"You know horses?"
"Sounds like you know a lot." Most Indians couldn't afford to keep a
good car running, much less afford a horse. The horse tribes of the
plains were reduced to their feet these days, and a thumb out in the
Frowning, Dani shrugged and looked off. "Greg's family owned
stables. I worked there. That's how we met. Horses like me, but I
can't ride all that well, not like Greg."
"Have you heard from him?"
"In a manner of speaking. The letter I sent came back to my
grandfather, unopened." Her mouth was hard, and the emotions rolling
off of her now were anger and insult, instead of the shame and guilt
she'd worn before. Grace was glad to see it, even if it made her
less pliant. Pliant wasn't her true nature, and she needed to
Then Grace took her by the elbow. "Come meet Scott," she said and
pulled Dani over to where Scott was leaning up against the stall
door, talking to Sam and scratching his horse's nape. The animal had
lowered his head and his eyes were half-closed.
"Man, is he blissed out," Dani said, letting her own hand move up to
pat the horse's cheekplate even as she put herself where the horse
could see her and not be startled.
Looking around, Scott grinned at her. "He's a hedonist �- likes food
and being petted, and turns snarky if he doesn't get his special
attention. Sam was telling me he's been reaching over the stall to
take casual bites out of passers by, just for the fun of it." Then
to the horse, he said, "You missed me, huh, lardbutt?" and rubbed the
animal's ears. "Been a bad boy."
"Well, he can't chase the mares any more so he has to get his fun
where he can," Dani replied.
Which made Scott laugh. Grace formally introduced them then, and
Scott talked with Dani a bit more, asking the usual round of
questions. Dani answered, but appeared more interested in his horse,
and before long, Scott gave up talking about school and concentrated
on horses. Taking her into the tack room also gave him an excuse to
sit down on a bench. Grace didn't miss that. He was putting a good
face on it, but he was becoming increasingly tired. Finally, Dani
and Sam went on their way, leaving Scott and Grace alone. Grace
recalled the last time they'd been alone in the stable together �- to
talk about his child, among other things. Now, she picked up a
halter from a hook on the wall and ran her fingers over the
sweat-dark leather. "Dani's boyfriend, the baby's father �- he don't
want nothing to do with her."
"Damn," Scott muttered, and rubbed at his chest with his free hand.
"How's she taking it?"
"She's angry. But angry is better than guilty."
"Agreed." He was still rubbing, and he looked genuinely pained now,
not just tired.
Enough was enough. "Come on. I'm taking you back to bed. You done
more than enough for one day." She offered him a hand up.
He didn't object to her assistance, but waggled his eyebrows at her.
"And when you get me back to bed, what do you plan to do with me?
And will I like it?"
She thwapped him gently on the shoulder. "I am going to make you lay
down, and then I am going to finish what I started last night."
"That was just the start, huh?"
She slipped her arm through his, as much to support him as for
affection, and led him towards the elevator, not the stairs. "Well,
I should hope it was the start of something." She caught his grin.
When they'd reached the privacy of the elevator and the doors had
closed, he grew serious. "And today? Was today okay? I mean, you
said you wanted to wake up with me, but I took off �- "
She put her hand over his mouth. "Figuratively, Scott. I am more
annoyed with you for wearing yourself out. You don't have the sense
to come in out of the rain, white man."
"You can't call me 'white man' any more, Sioux woman." He looked
positively smug. "My dad's a quarter Indian."
"Then I will give you an-eighth of a roll of toilet paper to wipe
your part-Indian ass."
That just made him howl. Grinning, she added, "And you are still a
white man, but you are my white man, and I don't mind that you're a
Continued DIRECTLY in 11b/12....
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