by C. Elisa
Summary: A student's-eye view of Xavier, post-X2.
Feedback: Please. c-elisa@...
Disclaimer: Charles Francis Xavier belongs to Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
and Fox Entertainment Group, Inc.
Note: Magneto/Xavier slash references.
"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and
nameless? But you are young and I am old."
-- The Fellowship of the Ring
"You like the cups?"
I looked around. Everybody was gone except me and Professor Xavier.
The class had ended and I didn't notice. I was sitting by the shelf
where he kept his tea set and I started looking at it and I must have
gotten distracted. That happens sometimes.
When I came to the school, when she was still alive, Dr. Grey said I
wasn't autistic. I had known that but no one had ever believed me. She
said I was something new, and she made a name for it. Nominal
clairvoyant. It means that I know all the names of things. I'm not a
telepath -- I can't see what you're thinking right now. But if you gave
your bicycle a name when you were ten, I know it, even if you forgot.
If your bicycle got lost and I found it, I could see your name on it,
and I could see your parents' names because they named you, and their
parents' names. I can keep going back and back until there are no names
left, and sometimes it's hard to remember to stop.
Mutant powers are supposed to start at puberty. But I can remember the
brand name of disinfectant that they used in the hospital where I was
born. The first word I said that someone understood was "pacifier." I
was four months old. But I was eight years old before I spoke in
Dr. Grey said that sometimes a mutation needs to do something to the
body or the brain before birth, to get ready. Like Meggan Rowell's fur.
Like Terry Melton's blue hair. Like The Incredible Nightcrawler's tail,
although I didn't know him then. She said that my real power must be
going to come later. But I'm not a teleporter, or a shape-changer, or a
hydrokinetic, because I would see those names inside me. The power I'm
going to have has to be something that no one has named yet.
Dr. Grey said that I didn't learn like other children because I knew the
names of things before my eyes could even focus right, so I never really
had to look at things. She said it would help if I learned how to draw,
but I can't, not even a stick figure. I can't remember what her face
looked like, now, either. The shampoo she used was made with lavender
and honeysuckle and the names of them were in the air.
I was still looking at the paintings on the cups. They were of flowers
and each cup was different, and the flowers' names were written on them
so that everyone would know.
"What do you see?" Professor Xavier asked.
"Old names," I said. "Thomas Green. William Clarke. Mrs. Rebecca
"Those must be the authors of the herbals that the patterns were based
"_The Universal Herbal_ and _The Moral of Flowers_."
There was something else that I could barely see, among the other cups.
I put my hand there, trying to feel it.
"What are you looking for?"
"There's a flower with no cup," I said. "_Rhododendron
"The rhododendron cup was broken, years ago. By Dr. Grey, when she was
younger than you are now. I've thought of replacing it, but it wouldn't
be the same. This china was left to me by my mother."
"Catharine Emma Xavier."
"She owned them for only a few years before she died."
"Her name is still on them."
"I've always thought so."
He didn't say anything for a while. Then he moved his wheelchair
forward and took two of the cups. "Do you like peppermint?"
"I'll take that as a yes."
He went to the credenza and turned on a Cuisinart cordless electric
teakettle that had been given to him by Ororo Munroe.
"You didn't say a word in class today."
"The others talked."
"A little, at any rate. I think they're happy to be reading _The Once
and Future King_. They're treating it as a vacation. Which it is,
of course. I thought we could all use one." He took Horizon 2% milk
from a compact refrigerator I had never seen before, though I had seen
its name behind the oak doors of the cabinet. Then he put it down on
his desk. "You were fond of Dr. Grey, weren't you?"
"I don't understand how she could have died."
"That's hard for all of us to understand. I think what we have to
remember is that Dr. Grey gave her life so that the rest of us in the
plane could live."
That wasn't what I meant. She was supposed to have another name but no
one gave it to her yet. Nobody wants me to say it but it's true. Kitty
Pryde said that someone could give her a name even after she's dead, but
that's not it because I would know. I can't see what the name is until
someone gives it to her, but I know she's alive when she gets it and I
also know she's really dead.
"It's not right. It doesn't make sense."
"No, it doesn't."
He waited for steam to come out of the teakettle. He put a bag of
Celestial Seasonings peppermint tea into one cup and then he poured in
water. Then he took out a canister of proper tea for his own cup.
"I understand I owe you an apology for the inadequacy of our
acquisitions budget. Mr. Summers tells me you've read every book in the
library two or three times now."
"Some only once," I said. "Some are hard for me."
"Oh, I see. I'm sorry. We'll get back to our textbook soon, I promise
"T.H. White," I said. "He's not like the others. He tells you the
right names of things."
"When Arthur turns into an ant, he turns into _Messor barbarus_.
Most writers would just say he turned into an ant. They wouldn't say
what kind, not even to themselves. That's the problem with fiction."
"Well, I think sometimes a writer doesn't have anything to say about any
one species of ant, but only about ants in general. Being any more
specific would just be distracting."
"But Arthur can't turn into ants in general. He has to turn into one
particular kind of ant. There are ten thousand species that have names
and it would take me a long time to think of all of them."
"I see the problem. Imagine if it were a beetle."
I was thinking about names of beetles. Then I realized that he had
handed me a cup. It had a picture of _Veronica chamaedrys_,
Speedwell. I drank a sip. I could taste honey made by _Apis
mellifera ligustica_ out of nectar and pollen from orange blossoms.
"I had hoped you might have something to tell us about the end of _The
Sword and the Stone_," he said. "About how the boy has to change his
name to King Arthur and never be called Wart again."
"He didn't change. He was still Wart, even if nobody called him that."
He took the tea strainer out and held it dripping over his cup. "Yes, I
suppose that's true. Just as Henry the Fifth is still Hal... as Ben
Kenobi is still Obi-Wan."
"Like Magneto is still Erik."
"Ah. Yes. I suppose you know all about... that."
"His name is on that tea strainer."
He looked down at it and stroked the handle with his index finger.
"Yes, it is."
"It's a lot of places in this house."
"It was on your old wheelchair."
"I had to leave that one behind." The name of tears was in his eyes but
I couldn't see the water.
"He was your," I said, and then I stopped. I have to remember that
people don't usually like me to call things their true names.
"It's all right," he said. "You're allowed to talk about it." He put
the tea strainer down on a tray. "You know, when I was about your age,
I used to be troubled sometimes by things that I would see in other
people's minds. Thoughts. Emotions. I didn't know how to keep them
out yet, but it helped me just to talk about them. To be able to name
them out loud."
"Yes, he was the one that I could talk to then." He poured milk out
into his tea and stirred it. "What I meant to say is that... I don't
know how to make it stop, but if it disturbs you, it's all right to say
I didn't say anything. I didn't know what he was talking about.
"It's difficult," he said, "when you can see through deception. It can
seem that the whole world is made of lies. But what we have to learn is
that sometimes pretense is necessary. No one else here ever knew him as
Erik. Jean was the only one.... It could only be hurtful for me
He covered his mouth with his fingers. He closed his eyes, just for a
second. Then he opened them again.
"Or maybe it's just that I haven't been able to find the words."
Then I understood.
"It's grief," I said. "It's betrayal."
"Yes, of course. But being used in an attempt at something worse than
genocide, by...." He paused. "Well. Since euphemism would be
pointless, by a lover. Words seem inadequate."
"It's situational depression," I said. "You also know the name
"Perhaps you're right," he said. "I suppose I've been putting on airs,
in a way. Like falling in love, and imagining it's somehow different
from what anyone has felt before, when it's really a very old story.
That sort of self-dramatization would sit better on a teenager than on
an old man."
"That's not really one of your names," I said. "'Old man.' It's not
something you are, it's just a state you pass through."
"Yes. On the way to something else."
I was looking at his face, like Dr. Grey taught me to do, and then I
realized something. What he felt was grief, but it was not the same as
Mr. Summers' grief. They had the same name, but the name didn't tell
you everything about them.
Once there was a flock of pigeons overhead, and I looked up and saw that
one was special, because it had names. It had been called Joseph's
Double Dutchess by a man named James Kinnear, and a boy named David
Conce had called it Josie. It was a racing pigeon. It was of a breed
called Dordin. It would always have known where its home was. I think
I would give what I have for that knowledge. But it had forgotten. Or
maybe it changed its mind.
Sitting there in Xavier's office, I realized that the pigeon wasn't
special. Or they all were. Only the one had its own name but they were
all different. Saying _Messor barbarus_ isn't really any better
than saying _ant_. Ants and pigeons and emotions should have
proper names, like people, but they don't.
I could try to give them all their own names. But there are so many.
"Life is too short," I said.
He paused with his cup halfway to his lips. The flower on it was
_Viola tricolor_, wild violet, also known as heartsease, and he
"I hope you may always continue to think so."