Mike meets a pretty girl. Unfortunately,
Title: Weak and Strong
Author: Pat Phillips
Rating/warning & pairing/characters:
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", and a major character in a
number of other stories I've written.
WEAK AND STRONG
Not surprisingly, Xavier boosted security around the mansion after I
sabotaged Cerebro. He and Grey were also being more aggressive in
using their telepathy to scan the school. And just to top it off,
that bastard Logan was in the area. He had my scent and could find
me no matter what form I was wearing.
So finding out what was going on inside of Xavier's school was no
longer as simple as changing into Bobby "Bad-Hair Day" Drake and
walking through the front gate.
Still, Erik needed information about Xavier and his X-Kindergarten.
And it was my job to get that kind of information for him.
Something had to be done.
So I decided to develop informants within the school. Since the
school had two powerful telepaths in residence, trying to turn
someone to our side wouldn't be a successful long-term strategy.
Instead, I had to get some an unknowing accomplice. Somebody who
would give me day-to-day information, and carry "harmless" items
into the school for me, without realizing what they were doing.
Fortunately, we had an opening. The school was filled with kids,
many of whom had been loners and outcasts for most of their young
lives. The solution to my problem was obvious.
I would take on a teenage form -- something attractive, but not too
attractive. Then I'd bump into one of Xavier's more socially
incompetent brats somewhere off-campus and develop a relationship
with him -- "him" because men and boys are always more vulnerable to
a pretty face. Then I would grant that lucky, lonely fellow some
Fact of life: give a young loser a blow-job and he'll do anything
It was Friday night and I was in a Salem Center coffee-shop that was
popular with the local kids. I'd memorized the files and faces of
several targets from Xavier's school. Now it was just a matter of
waiting until one of them wandered within striking distance.
So much of this job consists of just waiting. I sat at an isolated
table, nursing an expensive coffee and trying not to think too much
The door opened. Instead of directly watching the door, I was
keeping an eye on a security mirror on the back wall.
It was one of the boys I was looking for.
Mike McWhirter. Fourteen years old -- going on fifteen soon.
According to his school records, he was as dumb as a rock. There
was no way that this stump had ever had a girlfriend. And given
that he was so young, there was a good possibility that he would be
attending Xavier's school for years to come.
I kept an eye on him as he grabbed a chair. He had a backpack
filled with books. He pulled out one of them and started flipping
through it. The title said something about history.
Oh, yeah. Friday night and Mike was alone and doing homework. He
It's a pretty good hike to Salem Center, but sometimes I just had to
get away from the school. It was kinda nice to get away from the
constant "Woe! We are mutant outcasts!" atmosphere at the school.
I'd just spent an hour in the video arcade, wasting some quarters.
Then I grabbed a couple of burgers. Afterwards, I decided that
catching up on some reading in the local coffee shop would be a good
way to finish off the night.
There was no point in hurrying back to the school, it was mostly
empty that night.
I mentally ran down the lineup of who was doing what and with who.
Mr. Summers and Dr. Grey were spending the weekend in New York City.
Kitty and Peter were doing dinner and a movie here in town. Sigh.
You know, life would be a lot easier for me if I could find it in me
to dislike Peter. Why did he have to be a really nice guy?
Mr. Logan and Marie had "gone for a drive". Not a date. Nope. No
way. Those two don't date. Just ask Mr. Logan -- if you dare.
He'll instantly tell you that It Is Not A Date while Marie smiles at
his side. I think she has her own opinions on the subject.
Jubes had a date with the new guy -- whatsisname. I was pretty sure
that he wasn't going to have as good a time as he was hoping for.
Since Mr. Logan and Marie were out on the town, that meant Bobby was
in his room playing really depressing, angsty, whiny music about
hopeless love on his cd-player. Yeesh, at least I have some dignity
Miss Munroe was alone as usual. I don't pretend to understand that.
And John would get a date just as soon as medical science perfected
the personality transplant.
The rest of the kids at the school were doing whatever was on their
personal schedule -- and it seemed to be a busy night. Even the D&D
game had been cancelled.
So where did that leave me, the school's resident village idiot?
The guy who has about as much of a chance of getting a date as
John "you mean being a jerk doesn't attract chicks?" Allerdyce?
It left me in a coffee-shop, reading about the Emperor Constantine.
Then this cute girl bumped into my table and knocked my backpack to
"Oh! I'm sorry!" she said as she reached down to pick up the pack.
That gave me a view down her blouse. She apparently didn't believe
in bras. The evening was definitely looking up.
OK, that was a bit on the crude side, but it's not like I was
dealing with an agent of the Mossad. Mike enjoyed the free show.
So the good news was that he wasn't gay, which meant that the female
form I was wearing should be good enough for the job at hand.
I handed Mike the backpack and gave him a smile.
He stood to take the backpack. He was the courteous sort. That was
useful to know.
"I'm sorry, that was pretty clumsy," I told him.
"Hey, no problem. There's no harm done." He paused, then went
on, "My name is Mike."
Not exactly a silver tongue, but he had a good, strong voice. When
you got down to it, he was an OK-looking boy. He had a dark
complexion, black hair, and brown eyes. Also a good build, with
some surprisingly well-defined muscles on his arms.
"My name is Ray. I'm really sorry about the books. Hey, how about
I buy you a cup of coffee to make up for it?"
He grinned in honest delight. Nice smile, too. Nobody was ever
going to call Mike handsome, but all of a sudden I was thinking the
more intimate parts of this job might actually be a little fun.
"Sure," he answered.
Ray was about my age. She was cute, not beautiful, but any guy
would like the look of her long black hair, snub nose, terrific
grin, and slender body.
And she was nice enough to apologize for the accident with my
books. That was a good sign.
She bought me a coffee, and then sat at my table.
"I don't recall seeing you around," she said.
"I go to the Xavier Institute."
That was a make-or-break thing to say. Some of the local kids in
Salem Center have a problem with kids who go to Professor Xavier's
school. We tend to be standoffish. Of course, we do that for good
reason, but they naturally don't understand. I hoped that wouldn't
be a problem with Ray.
"Really?" Ray said in an intrigued voice, "I've heard a lot of
strange stories about that place, what's it like?"
"I gotta admit that it's kinda fancy, but the people there are real
nice. I was really worried that I wouldn't fit in when I first got
there. But I eventually made a lot of friends."
I glanced at the scatter of books on the table. There was a worn
and battered copy of Gibbon's first volume of "The History Of The
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire". Procopius' "Secret
History". Ambrose's book on D-Day. A Norwich book about Byzantium.
A Foote on the Civil War. There were a few more in the backpack.
That was some heavy reading for a kid who wasn't supposed to be too
bright. In fact, it looked like Mike and Erik had similar tastes.
"You must be a history buff," I said to him.
"Yeah. It's the only class I do well in."
"I never had much interest in history," I said truthfully. Anything
to keep the ball rolling.
Yada yada yada. Keep the conversation rolling. I figured that
after an hour or so of chit-chat I'd drag Mike into the nearest
alleyway and take him for a walk on the wild side. After that, he
would be my dog.
Ray's eyes were glazing over a bit as she looked at my pile of
books. Great, I was the school dummy and she was deciding that I
was a boring book-worm. I figured it would be best to get Ray
talking about herself.
"So how long have you lived in Salem Center?" I asked her.
"Just a few years."
"It doesn't bother you that I go to Professor Xavier's school? A
lot of people here in town don't seem to like us much."
She seemed to think that one over. Then she smiled, "It does a
little. A lot of people think you guys are kind of strange."
"Heh. Yeah. Well, we definitely have our odd points, but when you
get down to it, there's not much difference between us and anyone
There was something a little tight about her smile. "Really? Not
I laughed, "Yeah. In all the things that matter."
"What is it that matters?"
"You said, 'in all the things that matter'. What do you figure
I thought about it, "Look, we've got everything you see in any other
school. We've got good students and bad students. We've got
straight kids and gay kids. We've got trouble-makers and suck-ups.
We've got every race and religion you can think of. We've got
people who dress up and people who like to wear dirty clothes with
holes in them. We got jocks and nerds. It's not really that
different than any other school."
"Do you have any bullies?" she asked.
That just popped out of my mouth. Damn it, I was supposed to be
controlling this conversation -- not getting involved in it.
Mike shrugged, "Yeah, we've got a few. I'm worried..."
Then he stopped. There was something odd about his tone of voice.
"Worried about what?" I asked.
I cocked my head to one side. I'd hit some kind of nerve. It would
be best if I could make this conversation intimate as soon as
possible. If Mike opened up, he'd be a lot more vulnerable.
Giving him my best 'I want to help' look, I said, "Come on, Mike.
What's bothering you?"
"You asked about bullies. I'm worried that I might be one of them,"
he said quietly.
I blinked in surprise. Mike really didn't come across as the type.
"What do you mean?" I asked. Good! The dummy had some self-
doubts. That made him even more vulnerable.
"I've pounded a few guys over the last few months."
"Mike, you don't look like the kind of guy who gets into fights."
"Look, can we drop this? I shouldn't have said anything."
I cursed myself. What the heck was wrong with me? The smart way to
handle Mike was to sweet-talk him. Or screw him. Challenging him
wasn't going to make him into somebody useful to me.
"What do you care?" he asked.
"I've always wanted to know what makes bullies tick. You don't
strike me being one, but you're worried that you are. I want to
Suddenly, I was trembling slightly. I was remembering. I was
remembering my screaming.
A half-dozen of them knocked me down and then stood in a circle and
took turns kicking me. I cried and tried to curl myself into a
ball. Begging didn't help. That just made them kick me harder.
I was a weakling back then. A damn weakling. And because I was
weak I deserved what they did to me. I deserved all of it.
I took a long swallow from my drink. My mouth was dry.
Mike didn't notice. He seemed to think over what he was about to
"I've never been real good in school," he started slowly.
"So I took a lot of grief about that. By the time I got into junior-
high, I sometimes thought my real name was 'dummy'."
I tried to give Mike an encouraging smile. But the memories
wouldn't stop coming.
After they finished kicking me, they dragged me into a nearby
house. When we got there, they forced me to take my clothes off.
Bruised and naked, they made me stand in front of that big mirror.
And then they...
The handle of my coffee cup snapped off in my hand.
Mike stopped in surprise.
"So what happened?" I prodded him, fighting to regain control. I
was breathing harder than normal.
"You're bleeding," he said shortly, pulling a bandanna out of a
pocket on his backpack. Then he grabbed my hand. I almost panicked
and hit him. Damn, he was fast! Then I realized that he was
wrapping the bandanna around a nasty gash in my right hand.
I took over and tightened the makeshift bandage. Believe me, I know
all about bleeding.
"Is everything OK?" asked an anxious voice.
It was the counter girl, she ran over when she saw that I was
"It was an accident," I said. "I guess I was holding the cup too
tight. I'll pay for it."
She fussed over us for a minute or so, telling me that I didn't have
to pay for the cup and asking me if she should call for help. I
told her no -- although Mike wasn't so sure about that. Then she
got me a fresh coffee. In a paper cup.
"And what happened then?" I asked Mike.
"Ray, for Pete's sake, we've got to get your hand looked at."
"It looks worse than it is, Mike. Don't worry."
The bleeding was steadily slowing. I don't heal as fast as Logan,
but I heal real fast.
"C'mon, Mike, tell me the rest. You were in junior high and
everyone was giving you a hard time," I asked, putting a bit of "oh,
pretty please?" in my voice.
Mike looked unsure, but he finally went on.
"Then one day I found out that I could fight back," he said.
Yeah. Oh, yeah. The other part of Mike's file. He can bench press
a small car. Like most mutants, his powers developed when he hit
puberty. It must have been quite a day when he found out that he
didn't have to take crap from anyone anymore.
"So how do you fight back?"
"If anyone hassles me, they get a chance to cut it out. If they
don't, I make sure they understand."
Years later, Erik helped me track them down. The leader was older
and flabbier. But in his face I could still see the tough, young,
seventeen year old. The one who made me get on my hands and knees
Briefly closing my eyes, I let out a long breath.
You know, I hear that Logan desperately wants to remember his past.
Mike was studying me, concern all over his face, when I opened my
"What do you do to them if they didn't stop?" I asked Mike. I could
hear the hunger in my voice.
"It depends on the situation," he said carefully, still looking me
over. "I usually do something that lets them know that it's not a
good idea to try and push me around. Usually I just do something
that shows them that I'm a lot stronger than I look. If they still
don't get it, then I get physical. Hopefully, they figure it out in
a hurry and it doesn't ever have to come to that."
"Did you ever hurt anyone really bad?" I asked.
He winced, "Yeah."
The memories rolled on.
The leader wasn't anywhere near as big and bad and brave as he was
when I was thirteen, and he was seventeen, and he had all his
friends with him. It didn't take long until he started begging and
that was music to my ears. Sheer music. And his begging didn't
help. It just made me hurt him more.
He deserved it. you see. He deserved it because he was weak. And
he and his friends taught me that the weak deserve whatever they got.
"Tell me," I said to Mike, my voice low and soft.
Mike sighed, "Back home in Denver, my big brother and my little
sister and I went to this concert in a park. After the concert, my
brother took my sister to the bathroom. While they were gone, some
guys who were drunk or high or whatever started hassling people. I
tried to avoid them -- I was hoping the cops would show up. But the
cops never showed and then they started on me."
He took a drink from his coffee cup before continuing. "At first, I
was going to run. But then I got scared that when Andy and Mary got
back, they might get hurt. So it turned into a fight."
"One guy got hurt pretty bad."
Oh, yes. It was in the file. That was the reason Mike had been
sent to Xavier's. One of those boys was in a wheelchair for the
rest of his life.
Nodding, I tried to separate Mike's story from my memories.
I didn't kill the leader. Oh, no. Not him or any of the others. I
wanted them to remember what I did to them. I wanted them to
remember for the rest of their lives. Just like I wanted them to
remember the promise I left with them all. The promise that someday
I would be back and I would do it to them again.
Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next month. Maybe next year. Maybe twenty
years. But I would be back
He was weeping when I finally left. I told him to have a fun rest
of his life.
"Do you feel bad about that? About hurting that other guy?" I asked
Mike's eyes were cold, "Yeah. Yeah, I do. But not much."
I leaned back in my chair, "So far, I don't see the problem, Mike."
"It's getting easier. To hurt people, I mean," he said.
I shrugged. Of course it was.
"It seems to me that you're worrying too much," I said. "Some
people get what they deserve."
He looked me over with those brown eyes, "Ray, is something wrong?"
He studied me.
"Ray, did someone hurt you once?" he asked very quietly.
Long pause. A real long pause. I had underestimated Mike.
"Yes," I finally said.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"Not as sorry as they are," I said. And there was no way to keep
what I felt out of my voice.
Mike's body language changed. He knew.
Her disguise slipped when she said the part about them being sorry.
Her eyes went yellow and there was a shimmer around the edges of her
body and face. She quickly regained control, but there wasn't any
question who "Ray" really was.
I didn't want to start anything, but I was tensed and ready to up-
end the table on her. I was pretty sure that she wouldn't try to
kill me right in the middle of a local coffee-shop. But you can
never tell with Mystique. From what I've heard, she's more than a
She finished off her coffee and said, "Mike, remind me to never
judge anyone on the basis of their damn grades ever again."
I didn't answer.
She stood up, "OK, this night is a bust. But before I leave, I want
to make you an offer."
"What kinda offer?" I asked cautiously, still ready to throw the
table at her and run like hell. Mr. Logan, Marie, and Pete were all
in town somewhere. I was perfectly willing to run down the middle
of the street screaming for help, if that was what it took to get
out of this alive.
"Leave the school. Leave Xavier. I saw the look in your eye when
you talked about that kid you crippled. You belong with us."
I shook my head, "No way. Your boss has hurt a lot of my friends."
"Have it your way," she said as she unwrapped my bandanna from
around her hand and threw it on the table. Her hand wasn't bleeding
"Listen..." I began, trying to stop her from leaving.
What was I doing? Mystique was a psycho. A killer. She could give
Mr. Logan a hard time in a fight. She helped put Marie in that
thing on the Statue of Liberty. I didn't want to have a
conversation with her -- I wanted to get the hell away from her.
"Talk to the Professor. Maybe he can help you."
Her face froze, "I don't need any help. From anyone."
Cool. Fine. Good. Wonderful. Now I would just shut up and she
would go on her way. I'd just ignore that look in her eyes. That
look that was all pain. I'd ignore it and...
"That's a bunch of bull," I heard myself say. "Someone tore
something out of you. Look, just talk to Professor Xavier. Nothing
else. Just talk to him."
Her laugh was a shaky and more than a little crazy, "Nobody did
anything to me, Mike. They did it to someone else. They did it to
someone who was weak."
Then she left.