When Alex arrived, Jean-Paul was already in the Danger Room, in uniform. “You’re late,” he said, eyes on the clock on the wall.
“I thought you’d wait for me.” Alex’s smirk seemed undiminished by his teammate’s obvious annoyance.
“What’s that supposed to mean? I did wait for you. Go put a uniform on and we’ll get started.”
“I meant I thought you’d wait to get changed. You know, so you can sneak a peak at my ass in the changing room.”
Jean-Paul shook his head in evident distaste. “I’m not interested in your ass, except for teaching you how to avoid getting it kicked by the bad guys. Straight men don’t appeal to me.”
“On the whole, I find your kind crude, boorish, and sexually unsophisticated. Quite willing to ‘experiment’, bien sur, when they’re drunk enough. But I learned early that heterosexual men are... boring. Even when a man is very physically attractive,” and here he looked at Alex intently, “just knowing he’s straight makes him unappealing.”
“Is that right?”
He shrugged his shoulders and added, “Interestingly enough, it seems that knowing a man is gay makes him *more* appealing to straight women. It can make things awkward sometimes. Still, it’s understandable. I imagine women don’t like crude, boorish and sexually unsophisticated, either.”
“Well, I think – ”
But Jean-Paul cut Alex off before he could say what he thought. “Go put on a uniform. We have a lot of drills to get through and I told Storm we’d finish them today.” Alex turned to go. Jean-Paul called after him, “And leave the sling in the changing room.”
“Why? I’m supposed to wear it for another two weeks, at least. It keeps my shoulder immobile.”
“I’m supposed to teach you how to fight if you’re injured during combat. You wouldn’t have a sling to immobilize a battle injury. I could give you *another* wound, if you prefer, but I thought it would be more efficient if we just go with the one you’ve already got.”
They worked hard for the next three hours, managing to “kill” the robotic adversaries in four of the simulations and nearly defeating them in the other two. “Bien,” Jean-Paul said. “Enough for today. You did well.”
“Well enough to overlook the comment about you checking out my ass?”
“Lay off the homophobic bullshit and we’ll do fine.”
“So what are you? A heterophobe? You really think we’re all – what was it?” Alex’s grin suggested this was at least semi-friendly banter.
“Boorish, crude, and sexually unsophisticated. No, not all. Some of my best friends are heterosexual,” he added, with an ironic smile. “Not to mention our mutual benefactor, Charles Xavier.”
“What do you mean by that?” Alex’s tone became hostile again.
“Well, I don’t really know. I always assumed that he was.” He looked at Alex. “Oh is that not what you mean?”
“I’m just wondering what that ‘mutual benefactor’ crack was supposed to mean.”
“It’s not a ‘crack’ at all. We live in his home. Well, it belongs to Cyclops now, but he is Professor X’s heir, and we are all living here due to the Professor’s generosity. You didn’t know him but you’re as much the recipient of that generosity as the rest of us. Plus, you and I have spent the last few hours benefiting from one of his great inventions – the Danger Room simulator. It’s in large part thanks to this device that the X-Men are as effective as we are. We used it to train in Alpha Flight, too. I’d be dead several times over if not for this place,” he added, looking around. He waited to see if Alex would tell him what was bothering him, but he remained silent. Jean-Paul continued, “You worked hard today and it paid off. These were not easy simulations. They’ve stumped far more experienced operatives than yourself.” Powering down the simulator, he repeated, “You did well.”
“You could be good for the team. And the team could be good for you. It’s an opportunity to learn to fully use your powers, to be part of something worthwhile. It’s also a chance to continue your education, if you so choose.”
Alex laughed. “I’m a little old for that.”
“I think you and I are about the same age and I just started college, part-time.” He shrugged. “Very part time, but I find I’m enjoying it a great deal. I never thought I would go. Bien sur, I never finished high school. But living in a school – I find it makes one aware of possibilities. And the generosity of Charles Xavier – even after his death – makes some of them... possible.”
“It would be nice if his posthumous generosity extended to paying our salaries.”
“It will. Soon, I believe. I think Angel had underestimated how distressing the continuing financial constraints would be to the team. Now he understands better. I’m confident he’ll look for a way.”
“That would make all this a little more palatable.”
“I’ve gained a great deal through my association with Alpha Flight and the X-Men. It took some time, though, to really benefit. I had a large chip on my shoulder that was impeding my progress and preventing close friendships with my teammates. I think you’re suffering from a similar liability. Get rid of it and you’ll find a lot of opportunities open up for you.”
“Sorry. The tendons are healing but the chip stays.”
“The angry young man demeanor has a certain cachet in one’s teens and early twenties. But at our age it starts to seem a little pathetic.”
“Hey, that’s me. Boorish, crude, sexually unsophisticated and pathetic.” He smiled, but Jean-Paul didn’t smile back. “Thanks for the advice,” Alex continued.
“I’ll give you a little more. The ‘fag’ talk doesn’t go over well here, not just with me. You’re getting a reputation for inappropriate speech and it won’t help you. Homophobic talk is out of place here, as are deprecating remarks about non-mutants. My partner’s not a mutant – I won’t have him or our son hearing that kind of talk.”
“How chivalrous of you.”
“I’m quite serious.”
“I don’t doubt it. You certainly have always seemed completely humorless to me.” Jean-Paul didn’t answer. Alex thought about what he’d said. “Son? You and your... boyfriend have a child?”
“Yes. Ezra. He’s two and a half.”
“How did you do that?”
“It’s part of my mutation. I can fly, travel at super speed, and also get pregnant and give birth.”
Jean-Paul laughed. “No. I was joking. Trying to prove I’m not completely humorless.” Alex smiled and Jean-Paul continued. “There are many strange mutations, but men do not give birth, even among our kind. Adam and I adopted Ezra.”
“Is that hard to do? For someone like you?”
“Someone gay or someone who’s a mutant?”
“Well, both I guess, but I was focusing on the gay part.”
“Oui, or you would have said ‘someone like us,’ I imagine. It’s certainly easier for a married heterosexual homo sapiens couple, but there are ways. And both of Ezra’s birth parents were mutants, so that was less of a barrier. Ezra himself is a mutant and has manifested very early.”
“At two and a half? Really?”
“Yes, it’s extraordinarily early. Still, he is in the first generation of children with mutant parents – birth parents in his case. They seem to come into their powers earlier. In any event, this is a great place for him to grow up – I feel lucky to be here. As to adopting as a gay couple, we cannot be legally married in this benighted country, so Adam had to adopt him singly at first. We’re still working to acquire all legal rights for me as his father, as well.”
“Even though you’re the mutant?”
“It’s just how it worked out.” He shrugged and continued. “I meant what I said, Alex. As a gay couple and a mixed subspecies one, we deal with all manner of prejudice, but we don’t deal with it here, and I won’t put up with that homophobic crap or the mutants-as-homo-superior bit in front of Adam or Ezra. I will also warn you that there is a lot of concern about how one speaks to the students here.”
“Yes, I’ve gotten that impression from Storm.”
“Well, then it must be true if you’re hearing it from both of us. I’m telling you, if you talk like you have to me in front of the Academy students you may well find yourself out on your boorish, crude, sexually unsophisticated, yet very nicely shaped ass.”
Alex’s grin came back. “Ah, so you have been looking.” He held up his hands. “Okay, okay. I’ll stop.”
I really should be sleeping. I need to get up in just a few hours to catch my flight back to New York. Still, I want to write down everything that happened here now, while it’s fresh in my mind. And it’s only within the past hour that I’ve been able to stop shaking with anger enough to pick up a pen.
I expected that Scott’s mother would have profoundly mixed feelings about him, particularly if she realized that her husband’s death had happened because of his mutation. Accidental as it was, it’s still necessarily a very difficult thing to accept. I thought it likely her mother love would be at war with her grief for the loss of her husband. I believed her relief to hear that Scott is well and being cared for would be tempered by the knowledge that he is suffering greatly with guilt over his father’s death. I knew that she’d be confused and unsure of where to turn. At least I thought I knew that. I had planned to offer to continue to care for Scott, to ask her to let me become his legal guardian. I expected her to accept the offer with gratitude and perhaps a little guilt at her inability to care for him herself.
What I found was someone so lacking in sympathy for her son – for both of her sons, as it turns out – that she hardly seems deserving of the name “mother.” She has no idea that Scott killed his father with his optic blasts, does not even know that he’s a mutant. Yet she wants nothing to do with him, and solely because she believes him to be a homosexual. He’d written love letters to another boy and his father’s discovery of them – and the very public humiliation of Scott by reading them aloud in front of neighbors, Scott’s brother Alex, and the object of Scott’s affection – is what led to the great emotional turmoil that resulted in Scott’s manifestation and his father’s death. Alex, the younger brother, confessed to the killing, saying he’d hit his father with a heavy paving stone to make him stop hurting his brother. Katherine Summers believes that’s what happened. She has no idea that she has one mutant son and another who has confessed to a crime he didn’t commit to protect his brother. And she’s ready to write them both off – one for being a homosexual, and the other for killing his father in defense of his brother.
Of course she told me none of this. As soon as I told her that Scott was with me she cut me off and said as far as she is concerned her sons are dead. I read her mind to find the rest. And nowhere in her consciousness could I find any sympathy, any kindness towards these boys who have been through so much.
She is unaware of much that Scott has endured, completely ignorant of the strength and grace and simple dignity he managed to maintain in an extraordinarily difficult and degrading situation. She doesn’t have the knowledge of his perseverance in the face of adversity that I do, so she can’t feel the admiration I feel for him. Still, it is her distaste at the idea that he would love another boy that prevents her from finding out what he’d been through, from learning how he has maintained his sense of self and even his sense of joy “under the terrible burden of destiny.” She has no idea what she’s missing in giving up this extraordinary young man. Nor does she care to find out. I shook my head in disgusted amazement at the vitriol in her brain.
And the younger boy? Imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, out of pure loyalty to his brother. I cannot let that injustice stand. I will find where he’s held and see what I can do to assist him, now and in the future.
I’m glad I did not tell Scott where I was going. He is not ready for this news. I will find some other way to regularize his position with me, now that I know how averse his mother is to even knowing about his life. Asking her to sign guardianship papers is out of the question.
Perhaps it would be best to give Scott a new birth certificate and new parentage. I will give some thought to how to best accomplish that. And I won’t tell him about his brother’s incarceration, which would likely leave him feeling both guilty and powerless. There is plenty of time for him to find out what happened after he ran away. I will reveal it to him when I have implemented a plan to assist Alexander Summers.
I worked all of this out right away, after speaking to Katherine Summers. But then I came back to the hotel and thought some more. I find myself troubled by my own behavior and attitudes, perhaps more so than by those of this woman I don’t know at all. Am I better than her? I read my entries earlier on in this diary and wonder if I am. I see comments about hoping Scott’s homosexual behavior was just from expedience and not indicative of something integral to his personality. I see references to “unsavory” actions and worry that I’ve been as guilty of unreasonable hostility as this woman and her late husband, condemning their own son simply for falling in love. It’s true that I didn’t know about his love for that boy, and only knew of his degrading experiences afterwards. Still, it was not merely the necessity of prostitution that I found revolting, but also the possibility – now, as I know, the actuality – that this young man I admire so greatly is homosexually inclined. This prejudice in myself may be more subtle than that expressed by Scott’s parents, but it’s no less vile. I must root it out.
Yes, this episode is leading me to recognize failings of my own. Perhaps some of them are not reparable. One thing is for certain, though. My admiration and affection for that boy have grown strong over the months he has been with me, but it was seeing his mother’s callousness that has made me realize just how strong. I am a peace-loving man, but I truly wanted to kill her for her cruelty towards him. This I know, now and for the future: Scott Summers will never lack for parental love, not so long as I live.
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