A few weeks passed, then a month, then two months. During
that time whatever Jean and the Professor talked about on
his daily visits to the carriage house remained a secret
between the two of them. Silence between telepaths.
Marie struggled with her schoolwork. Never fond of sitting
still for extended periods of time, she found it agonizing
to stare for an hour at the empty chair where John used to
sit. Even more difficult were the days when Bobby became
clingy and needful, his offers to help her with her calculus
simply transparent ploys to be close to her.
The worst, though, were Scott's lectures.
He had always tended toward the pedantic. The Professor
called him "focused." The kids called him "Tight-assed."
They had all tried to cut him some slack in the weeks after
Alkali Lake - a lot of it, considering that he'd been
through his fiancee's "death" and her subsequent abandonment
of him. But he'd come to a physics class with notes for
motorcycle repair, given them a test on something they
hadn't covered yet, and called Colossus "Flea" by accident.
Once in a while they'd hear Jean or Logan outside, talking
to one another or the Professor, and those were the times
Scott just gave up and told them to take a walk.
About a month after Jean had moved out, on the day of Marie
and Bobby's graduation, Scott had come to the ceremony with
stitches on his chin and a swollen cheekbone. No one knew
exactly what had happened to him, but Marie noticed that the
RX-8 was no longer in the garage and that the Professor's
driver tended to take Scott on errands.
In other words, Scott Summers was a walking time bomb.
That bomb went off a few weeks after the suspected car
accident, when Scott took ten kids to the Danger Room and
two of them ended up in the clinic with broken legs. In both
cases it was because their leader had been, as Kitty and
Flea put it while Peter drew on their brand-new casts,
Hank McCoy had been visiting the mansion that day and he
stayed to help with the injured children. Marie found
herself drawn to the strange man with the amazing
vocabulary, and he certainly didn't seem to mind an
audience. At Marie's suggestion, Hank had tried a transfer
of powers from Logan to Marie in an attempt to heal the
broken bones, but Marie could not pass the regeneration
along the way she had with Scott. No one really understood
why until Marie mentioned that she had been worried about
Scott on the flight back from Alkali Lake and had
inadvertently put her bare hand on the back of his neck.
"Then that certainly is the key - despite all you have
learned about controlling your powers, you must have had
prior contact with the patient before a transfer of power
will be efficacious." Hank was fairly bubbling at having
solved the mystery. "Perhaps it might be best to 'inoculate'
all of the children, as it were, by your touch."
Even though he was still winded from the transfer, Logan
stood up straight and fixed Hank with a glare. "That's a
great idea, Doc, except that everyone Rogue touches, she
keeps up here." He pointed to her temple.
Grateful not to have to bring it up herself, Marie sighed as
Hank processed the information. "Ah, I didn't realize that -
my apologies for the suggestion."
"It's a good idea," Marie said weakly, "but there's only so
much room in there, you know?"
Hank patted her on the head. "I believe that there is an
infinite capacity in your mind, my dear. But, to be on the
safe side, let us endeavor to keep the population under
Logan rolled his eyes. Marie knew there was only so much of
Hank's prose he could listen to before he wanted to beat the
crap out of the guy. Still, he lingered a little by the exam
table where Marie was resting. "You gonna be okay, kid?" he
"Yeah, I'm good. Thanks for tryin' this, Logan."
"I'm sorry it didn't help." He flicked a glance at Hank.
"Don't let her get up and run around for a while - last
thing we need is for her to crack her skull open."
"I wouldn't mind if it'd let all the people out," Marie
complained. She sat up quickly and put her hands over her
mouth as if to stuff the words back in. "I didn't mean
that!" she cried.
At the first sign of tears Logan was at her side, but Hank
was faster. The protective coat of blue fur along with his
medical gloves made him impervious to her deadly skin and he
held her tightly in his arms. "There, there, child, of
course you want to be alone in your own mind."
Through the haze of tears Marie could see Logan standing
nearby with his hands still outstretched, and for a moment
his face was unschooled enough that she could read his
expression even without their mental bond.
He did love her. Maybe not the same as he loved Jean, but he
loved her nonetheless, and he was hurt that she sought
comfort from someone else.
Then his eyes hardened again and he nodded curtly before
leaving the lab.
Marie allowed herself the luxury of being held while she
cried herself out over Logan, over Scott, over Jean. Over
everything. Her father used to do that, used to hold her
while she sobbed. Before. "I'm getting your fur wet," Marie
"As long as I don't begin smell like a dog, I don't mind,"
Hank said mildly, patting her cheek.
That made her laugh, and she sat up again while Hank handed
her some tissues. She dabbed delicately at the skin under
her eyes, although she suspected her makeup was a dead loss
at this point. Hank went into the other room to give pain
medications to his patients, and to give Marie some privacy.
She studied her reflection in the mirrored tray that held
some of the instruments. Not too terrible, although the tip
of her nose was red and her eyes were swollen. She could go
to dinner and pass for normal, maybe, with some eye drops
and foundation. Otherwise, Bobby would hover.
Marie sighed heavily. Poor guy. Now that the infatuation
stage was over, Marie found herself strangely uninterested
in him. He was funny, sure, and smart, but there was an
essential spark missing. "Maybe I just need a bad boy,"
"So many young women feel that they do," Hank said mildly.
His feet, though huge, were padded, and he had an alarming
tendency to sneak up on people and just start talking.
"Sometimes the very best women have an urge to try a man
with a wild side - like an itch they feel they must
scratch." His eyes twinkled. It wasn't a judgment on her,
just an observation. "Then, they either find they no longer
have the itch--"
"Or they have a big ol' scar."
Hank's laugh was an infectious bark. "Precisely!"
Tracing a design on the tray with one finger, Marie tried to
make her voice sound casual. "Like Jean, with Logan."
In the reflection she could see Hank's face fall. "Perhaps.
Although with Jean, it may be symptomatic of another
underlying pathology altogether."
Marie scrunched up her face. "Smaller words?"
"Smaller words, longer paragraphs. Perhaps you would like to
sit down before we begin." He waited for her to take a seat
before he perched on the exam stool. A blue, fuzzy
gentleman. "Jean and I were the first two 'pupils' Charles
brought here. We were both bright and inquisitive, both
interested in medicine. But that is where our similarities
"Because you were interested in developing your powers and
Jean was more interested in controlling hers?"
"Thank you for your succinct rendering of the situation,"
Hank said. "When Ororo and Cyclops came, I freely competed
with them but Jean always held back. Always kept something
of herself in reserve. Once in a while we would get a brief
glimpse into what abilities she truly possessed, but most of
the time she would be content to pass the salt without
"She strikes me as having been pretty much content, period,"
"One would think that, judging from all outward appearances.
She was content to develop her powers a little at a time,
content to attend medical school while passing for human.
Content to choose a stable man who could pass for human, as
well - only with very cool shades."
She blinked rapidly. "Choose a stable man? She made...a
choice? Like from among several?"
Hank lowered his eyes. "Between two," he said softly.
Of course. She'd heard about this, about how Hank had been
normal in appearance until just a few years ago, when an
experiment left him with the additional mutation. He had
slight control over it, enough to do a shopping trip or an
interview, but most of the time he was "The Beast."
"Crap," she whistled. "Is there any man in this whole
building who isn't in love with Jean Grey?" Then, mortified,
"Oh, my God, did I say that out loud?"
She felt guilty when Hank laughed and ruffled her hair. "You
did, indeed, and thank you for that, else I might have
become maudlin with the remembrance of things past."
"That's a book," Marie said, mostly to cover her
humiliation. "Bobby was reading it. In French, because he
liked to show off."
"He's not the only student at this school to have been
captivated by a pretty face." Hank got up and gathered some
of his instruments together. "Nor the only man. And, I would
imagine, the same is true for our young women here. Being a
mutant can be a...separating experience. We're set apart in
a small community, and it's only natural that our fancies
turn to love now and again. There's eros, of course, as in
the case with Jean and Scott, romantic love. Then there's
agape, a more familial love, as we see between Jean and the
"Is that why he's having so much trouble separating Jean
from the Phoenix?" Marie asked.
Hank touched her cheek without flinching, something Marie
appreciated than anything she could imagine. Yes, my dear,
as much as I love the Professor I must confess that he has a
blind spot where Jean is concerned. He sees only the best
parts of her, the purest and noblest essentials. He has
never delved into the troubled parts of her psyche, never
encouraged her to bring them to the surface so they could be
analyzed and understood." He smiled at her. "I can see that
you are astonished to think of our Professor as anything
less than perfect. He is assuredly the finest man I have
ever had the privilege to have encountered. Yet what is he
but sinew and bone, and a heart just like yours or mine?"
She needed time to process that thought. She slid down from
the exam table, keeping her face averted when she asked, "Do
you think Jean will ever be Jean again?"
"It would be folly for me to offer an opinion on that. But I
do know one thing - Jean may not be Jean right now, but
Scott is most certainly Scott. I believe he would benefit
greatly from a sympathetic ear. In many ways, I fear for him
more than for anyone else involved in this contretemps."
That was all Marie needed to hear. She ran at top speed,
breathlessly pausing in every room in the mansion until
finally she realized that Scott would probably be outside.
She found him under a tree, lying on his back with his arm
thrown over his eyes. His glasses were on the ground within
easy reach. She didn't know whether he was awake or asleep,
so she knelt beside him and put one hand on his arm.
It happened so fast that she had no time to register what
was going on. One second she was poking Scott in the arm,
the next she was lying on the ground and Scott was picking
leaves out of her hair. She tried to focus her eyes on him.
"I got...startled. I forgot I didn't have on my glasses."
"You opened your eyes?" Marie looked up and saw the tree was
denuded of quite a few of its branches. Huh. She seemed to
be wearing one, more or less, on her head. Huh, again.
"I don't think it hit you, just grazed you, You're more a
wood sprite than anything else right now. Hold still." He
pulled some more leaves out of her hair. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be, I'm fine," Marie assured him. She really was
fine, just startled, and she held out her hands. "Give me a
hand up, I'll walk you back."
He didn't look as if he wanted to go back, but he smiled
graciously as he pulled her to her feet. "How are Kitty and
"Peter's waiting on Kitty hand and foot. She couldn't be
better, the little princess. And you know the Flea, he'll be
out of bed in no time."
Scott's steps slowed. "I shouldn't have let them go in
there. I should've been more alert."
"It's hard to be alert when you haven't been sleeping,"
Marie commented. Scott glared down at her, the effect
magnified by the reflection from his glasses. "Well, I get
up in the morning and look for the pecan waffles I got the
day before, but they're not in the freezer. And since you
and I are the only people who like 'em..."
"Maybe I just eat breakfast earlier than you."
"Maybe you just eat breakfast at three in the morning
because you can't sleep."
He snorted. "You're just not going to let that go, are you?"
"Nope. A man who takes my pecan waffles is just sniffin'
around for a fight." She felt Scott stiffen alongside her.
"Sorry, bad choice of person to imitate," she mumbled.
Then, surprise of surprises, Scott's arm was around her
shoulders, holding loosely. "Don't be sorry. It's about time
someone treated me like my glasses are quartz instead of
By the time she finished laughing, they were back in the
house. Ororo was standing by the stairs, talking to a couple
of girls. Her eyes widened when she saw Marie. "What do you
have growing out of your head? And why?"
Marie caught sight of herself in the mirror and gasped.
Scott lowered his head. "My fault. I knocked down a tree
limb and she was under it. Won't happen again, boss," he
Ororo smiled. "You're both a mess. Don't come down to dinner
like that or people will think you've taken up wrestling in
dirt." She shooed them upstairs.
Scott's new room was the first on the left and he paused
with his hand on the doorknob. "You're really okay, then?"
She nodded. "Some shampoo and a rake and I'm good as new."
His laughter was a welcome relief. "I don't know whether to
send you to a hairdresser or a gardener." He leaned forward
and took another stray piece of greenery from behind her
"Scott," Marie said softly, indicating the room where Logan
had stayed, "I can tell that Logan feels terrible about
this. He feels awful, and guilty."
"But not guilty enough to stop," Scott said, just as softly.
He backed into his room and Marie followed as if his warm,
soft sorrow were lapping at her like an undertow.
They stood like that for a long time, Scott with his hand in
Marie's hair as she looked up at him, waiting for something
she knew would either save them or damn them.
"You're a girl," Scott whispered at last.
"I'm glad you noticed."
His smile was achingly sad. "There's not a sentient being in
the hemisphere who hasn't noticed. I meant, you're a young
"I'm eighteen!" she cried indignantly.
"And I'm twenty-six."
"And Jean's thirty-four." She hadn't intended it to be mean,
just a statement of fact. "It's a decade, not a lifetime,
and I have you in my head and it hurts, Scott, it's fucking
killing me because I hurt just the way you hurt!"
He reeled as if from a blow. "I didn't know. I'm sorry."
"Not your fault," she said, unable to endure both his guilt
and his sadness. "I'm tired of hurting, that's all."
"We all are. And I'm tired of being the cause of it." He
rubbed his temple below the earpiece of his glasses.
Headaches were a constant reminder that his mutation was
closer to a curse than a blessing. Jean had once explained
it to Marie when she'd seen Scott lying down with a wet
washcloth over his beautiful, deadly eyes.
Marie put her cool hand on Scott's warm forehead and
immediately felt a residual stirring of the power she had
gleaned from Logan. Standing on tiptoe, she tugged at his
hair and made him bend over enough for her to press her lips
to his cheek. Only a second lapsed, but she felt a dull
throbbing behind her eyes just as Scott sighed in
relaxation. Logan was healing Scott through her. How ironic.
Immediately, Scott shielded Marie's eyes. "Are you okay?" he
asked. "Do you need my glasses?"
"No, I'm fine, it was just for a second." She shook his hand
off before she could leech any more of his power away, then
she took it between her gloved hands and pressed it quickly
to her lips.
There it was again, the heaviness she always felt when the
Professor stopped the world around them. Maybe it had
stopped on its own this time. She didn't know. But Scott was
staring down at her with a tear streaking its way beneath
his glasses, and Marie felt a yearning stronger than any she
had ever known, and when she held her arms up to him it was
"You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"