Title: Math is Fundamental
Author: Pat Phillips
Summary: Mike McWhirter is a new
student at Professor Xavier's school.
Ororo quickly determines that the
young man needs academic help. Some
students quickly learn that Mike can
take of himself. And Mike learns to
love Math -- or at least tolerate it.
Rating/warning & pairing/characters:
Ororo, John, Bobby, Kitty, OC(Mike)
With the exception of Mike McWhirter,
I do not own these characters. Instead,
they are the property of Marvel Comics.
As a firm believer in property rights,
it's only reasonable that I specify that
my use of these characters should in no
way be interpreted as a threat to Marvel's
ownership of them.
All of my fan fiction, including this story,
is a not-for-profit venture. After all, when
you get down to it, who would pay for this
Readers of my other fiction may notice that
Mike is a minor character in "A Sacrifice
of Flowers". Note that this story assumes
that there was significant period of time
between the defeat of Magneto and the
Brotherhood at the Statue of Liberty and
Logan's leaving to investigate the Alkali Lake
facility. During that time Jean, Scott, Ororo,
and Logan conducted missions for the Professor.
That may not be exactly canon, but it allows
for some interesting stories.
MATH IS FUNDAMENTAL
Miss Munroe is one heck of a strange lady. I've never seen someone
with black skin and long white hair. She has this funny accent,
too. Also, she's really, really old -- in her late twenties, I
think. Even worse, she's a teacher. Despite all of that, she's
They shipped me off to this weird school in New York State. I don't
really want to be here. I want to be back home in Denver with Mom,
Dad, Andy, and Mary. But I got into trouble, and because I'm one of
those mutant-guys, the judge said I had to come here. That's not
fair. Andy is a mutant, too. And he got to stay home.
So now I'm sitting in front of Miss Munroe's desk. And she's
reading some school records about me. Which means she knows all
Miss Munroe sat down the paperwork and looked at me. "Michael, I
want to ask you a few questions about class subjects. It's like a
test. But don't worry, there won't be any grade."
I nodded while thinking, "No math. No math. No math. No math.
Please, no math."
"The first few questions will be about math," she said.
"OK, ma'am, shoot," I said.
"What is seven times three?"
I thought about it for a second, "Twenty-one."
"Good. What is nine divided by two?"
I had to think a little longer on that one, "Four with a remainder
She nodded, "That's correct. Can you give that to me in decimal
"Uh. You mean like a fraction?"
"Yes. Take your time."
I began to feel panicky -- I'm not good with fractions, but I
buckled down and worked it out.
"Four and a half?" Dang it, I didn't mean to sound so unsure.
"That's correct. Very good." Miss Munroe had a very pretty smile.
"OK, Michael. Next question. What is three raised to the second
Bingo, that was an easy one. "Six."
One of her eyebrows rose slightly. I was going to get real familiar
with her habit of doing that.
"That's enough math, Michael."
She wrote something on a piece of paper that was sitting on her
Whew. Now if she just didn't ask me anything about English.
"Now I want to do a few English questions."
"What is a noun?"
"That's a word that stands for something -- like a person, place, or
thing. Dog is a noun."
"Good. What is a verb?"
"Lessee, that's a word that means some kind of action, right? Like
jump or throw."
"Good. What is a pronoun?"
"I... Uhm. I..."
"Is that an answer, Michael?" The eyebrow was up again.
"Never mind. How about an adverb?"
"I... I don't know, Miss Munroe."
She made another mark on the paper in front of her.
"Let's try history next."
"In which century was the Civil War fought?"
"Which one?" I asked.
She gave me a long look, "You mean -- which civil war?"
"The American Civil War."
"The nineteenth century -- 1861 to 1865."
The eyebrow struck again. That was really getting me nervous.
"Tell me something about the American Civil War, Michael. Anything
about it," she said.
"It's a big subject, Miss Munroe."
"I know, Michael. Please give it a try."
"It was fought between the Northern and Southern states, over a
bunch of economic and political issues. But slavery was the biggest
problem. The President of the United States of America- the north -
was Mr. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The President of the
Confederate States of America - the south - was Mr. Jefferson Davis
of Virginia. It's really hard to say when the war started. Most
people think it was the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Other folks
will take it as far back as the fighting in Kansas and Nebraska from
1853 to 1861. I think that's a good place to start a description of
the war. The fighting in Nebraska and Kansas -- mostly Kansas --
was about whether or not it would be legal to own slaves in those
territories after they entered the Union as states. That was
called... Is something wrong, Miss Munroe?"
She was doing two eyebrows at the same time.
"No. No. That was fine, Michael. In fact, that was very
"Thank you, ma'am. OK, to continue, most folks called the fighting
in Kansas and Nebraska, 'Bleeding Kansas'. It was..."
"That's enough, Michael."
"Oh. OK. You sure you don't want some more? It's hard to
understand the Civil War unless you understand that arguments that
let up to it."
"Perhaps later, Michael."
She made more marks on the paper. Then she let me go.
Two of the older guys from the school caught me as I was walking
from Miss Munroe's office. I had met them that morning, before Miss
Munroe called me into her office. They were named Bobby and John.
Bobby seemed to be OK. I could tell that John was a creep.
"How'd it go?" asked John, giving me a smile I didn't much like.
"OK, I guess. She asked me some questions about math, English, and
"How did you do?" asked Bobby. His smile was a lot more real than
"Well, I got lucky and nailed the math. But I did lousy at the
English. The history was so-so. I don't think Miss Munroe agrees
with me about the start of the Civil War."
"That sounds like you did OK," said Bobby encouragingly.
"Yeah. And I thought you were supposed to be some kind of retard,"
Bobby made a face at John, but didn't say anything.
"Yeah. I've heard the same thing," I said.
"Heard what?" asked John.
"That I'm some kind of retard."
He smiled again, "Everybody has to know their limits."
"I guess," I said with a shrug and started to walk away. I suppose
every school has somebody like John.
He grabbed my shoulder, squeezing hard, "Hey, I didn't say you could
"John," said Bobby with a worried look on his face.
"Cut it out, John!" said a girl's voice.
I looked in the direction of the voice.
She was beautiful. With brown curly hair, brown eyes, and a wide
mouth. The kind of mouth that smiles a lot. Cute body, too. She
looked to be maybe two or three years older than me -- say sixteen
or seventeen. But I like those exotic older women.
John didn't let go of me, but now he was paying attention to the
girl, "Take it easy, Kitty. I'm just not done talking to the kid."
"Let him go, John! You're being a jerk!" she said angrily. Hey,
cute and a good judge of people, too.
"Ease up, John. He's just a kid," said Bobby.
He ignored them both and looked back at me, "Why are you here, kid?"
"I was told me to come here."
"No, dummy. I mean, what's your power?"
I reached up and took hold of John's wrist.
"I'm not sure what you mean by a 'power'. But, I can bench-press
two tons." I applied a little pressure. Just a little. Then I
started to increase it slowly. If John was smart, he wouldn't wait
until it hurt.
He wasn't smart. John squealed and let go of me. Then I let go of
Believe it or not, he pulled a lighter out of his pocket. What the
Kitty stepped between John and me. Bobby put his hand over John's
I tensed. I didn't want a fight, I still wasn't out of trouble for
the last one, but if John tried to hurt Kitty...
Miss Munroe came out of her office, flipping through a handful of
Kitty stepped back, but was still standing between John and me.
Bobby put his hand down. John's lighter went back in his pocket.
John and I looked each other in the eye. He wasn't scared. And
they call me stupid.
Miss Munroe glanced at us. Maybe I was imagining things, but she
seemed to look at John and me a bit longer than the others. Then
she looked at Kitty and Bobby real hard. Then she left.
"Welcome to the school," said Kitty to me, ignoring John and
Bobby. "You'll be happy to know that almost everyone here is not a
jerk. What's your name?"
She had asked me a question. Life was good. Now I just had to say
something cool and smart to her.
"I'm Mike. Uh, Mike McWhirter. I'm from Colorado. Denver. That's
west of here."
She was nice about it, "Did your family send you here? Or did the X-
Men bring you?"
X-Men? What the heck was that?
"My family and the judge said I had to come here."
"Judge?" Hey, she could do the eyebrow thing too. I wonder if all
the girls here do that.
"I got into trouble because of a fight."
"What kind of fight?" asked Bobby.
"I went to the park with my big brother and little sister to hear a
concert. There were a bunch of guys there who were drinking and
stuff. They got rowdy. After my big brother took my sister to the
bathroom, they started picking on me."
"What happened? Where you hurt?" asked Kitty in a worried voice.
I shrugged, "Nah. I was fine. But the other guys ended up in the
hospital. One guy might not walk again. The cops arrested me, and
then my dad and the judge yelled at me a lot. The judge told my dad
that if I didn't come here, then he was going send me to jail. So
they sent me here. I'd rather be home."
John was rubbing his wrist and looking at me. He looked like he was
getting the message. That was good.
A couple of hours later, I was back in Miss Munroe's office.
I hoped that if she had any more questions, they would be about
history. I was pretty lucky on the math stuff earlier.
"I've arranged for some special tutoring for you," she said.
In case you don't know, "special" means dumb. Once a school decides
that you're "special", you're completely screwed.
"Do we have to, ma'am? Can't I just take regular classes with
everyone else?" I asked.
"You will be taking classes with everyone else, Michael. You'll be
in the remedial English class and the advanced History class. But
you will have a student tutor to help you with Math."
Blast it. She must have noticed that I wasn't as sure about all my
Math answers as I sounded. She was good.
"What does 'tutor' mean, Miss Munroe?"
"Another student will sit down with you and help you with your
I didn't like the sound of that at all. A kid who liked math was
obviously strange in the head. This 'tutor' would be probably spend
a lot of time giving me grief.
"I'm not sure about that. Can't I try it on my own, Miss Munroe?"
"Don't get upset, Michael. Kitty is a very good tutor."
"Katherine Pryde. I saw you talking to her a little earlier today.
She's going to be with you two hours a day, helping you with an
individualized class that we're putting together for you."
Well. Well, well, well. That changed things a bit. Math was
finally going to be useful to me.
"OK. I think I can give that a try."
Miss Munroe picked up her pen. I suddenly noticed a slight smile on
"That's good, Michael. When do you think you would be able to
schedule a meeting with Kitty?"
"Now?" the smile was a bit larger. And there was more eyebrow
action going on, too.
"Yep. Right now. There's no time to waste, Miss Munroe. Math is
lot more important to me than I thought it was."
Maybe this place wouldn't be so bad after all.