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5489"The Player on the Other Side" (WIP, CH.7) Scott [PG-13] X1 and X2

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  • rachel_martin64
    Dec 6, 2003
      Post 2 of 3

      So the Mustang it was. Rogue flipped through Mr. Summers' CD
      collection and discovered that he liked jazz, blues, and German
      opera. They listened to Billie Holiday and Lena Horne, and Lena
      sang, "Someday he'll come along, the man I love, And he'll be big and
      strong, the man I love, And when he comes my way, I'll do my best to
      make him stay."

      Mr. Summers popped out the Lena Horne CD and popped in "Count Basie
      Recorded Live at the Southland Theatre Restaurant, February 20,
      1940," according to the insert. Mr. Summers didn't seem to listen to
      anything recorded after World War II, which actually sort of fit in
      with her image of Mr. Summers, unless he kept those CDs stashed in
      the suite he shared with Dr. Grey. And right on cue Mr. Summers
      started singing along to, "The Chicks I Pick Are Slender, Tender And
      Tall," and Rogue thought she just might bust a gut laughing.

      So the drive wasn't nearly as long as she might have wished, but she
      was excited, nevertheless, to arrive. She'd never seen anything of
      the city, except, of course, for Liberty Island (and that trip most
      definitely did not count). Rogue gawped through the windshield in
      amazement at the buildings, the lights, the crowds, and the traffic.
      She gawped, as well, at Mr. Summers' driving. The streets of midtown
      Manhattan seemed to summon forth the sedate Mr. Summers' inner Dale
      Ernhardt. Rogue privately thought that if she were the Professor, she
      wouldn't let Cyclops get behind the wheel of anything more expensive
      than a 1978 Pinto.

      Rather to her surprise, the Mustang didn't have a scratch on it when
      Mr. Summers parked it in a garage on Eighth Avenue and 49th Street.
      She wrapped her hooded cloak closely about herself as he led the way
      along the crowded sidewalks of a working class, multi-ethnic
      neighborhood Looking up at the street signs, she saw that they had
      arrived at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 45th Street.

      "Hell's Kitchen," Mr. Summers said cheerfully, sounding far more
      upbeat than Rogue thought anyone in a place called Hell's Kitchen
      ought to be. "Here we are -- " and he ushered her into a lushly
      decorated restaurant that Belle Watling would have felt right at home
      in.

      Ornate crystal chandeliers gleamed through gauzy scarves swathing the
      ceiling and draping the windows. Candles of all sizes and shapes
      flickered on tables glimpsed between potted palm trees. A porch swing
      was drawn up to one side of the table to which the matre d' led them.
      At Mr. Summer's gesture, Marie hopped into the swing. He took the
      perfectly conventional chair placed on the other side of the table. A
      waitress appeared and handed each of them a fancy leather folder and
      walked away. Rogue thought the waitress did a good job of pretending
      not to notice Mr. Summers' glowing red glasses.

      Mr. Summers looked across the table and said, "Why don't you order
      for the both of us?"

      Rogue opened the fancy leather folder to discover a menu tucked
      inside. Fried chicken. Carolina pulled pork. Chicken-fried steak.
      Blackened catfish. Yams, collard greens, okra, macaroni and
      cheese. . .

      "A lady named Alberta Wright is the cook and owner," Mr. Summers
      said. "She's from Charleston, South Carolina. Excuse me." He
      unclipped the fanciest cell phone she'd ever seen from his
      belt. "Yes," he said simply. "In the city. . . . No, no
      mission. . . . I'm being spontaneous. . . . Thursday, six to twelve,
      be spontaneous. It's all there in my day planner, Jean. . . . Very
      well, thanks, and you? . . . . Really? The claim form is in the top
      left drawer of my desk. If you wouldn't mind filling in the date and
      faxing it to my insurance company? Oh, and Rogue's with me. Out."

      Mr. Summers thumbed the side of the cell-phone-looking thingie and
      stowed it. He smiled benignly.

      "Uh, Mr. Summers?" Rogue said hesitantly.

      "Hmm?"

      "Did, uh --" Her inner Erik warned her not to go there. She said
      instead, "Did something happen to one of your cars?"

      "Motorcycle," Mr. Summers said.

      "That's too bad."

      Mr. Summers shrugged. "I got my money's worth."

      The waitress returned with two glasses of sweet tea.

      "Mr. Summers?"

      "Yes?"

      "I'm real sorry. For, you know, the way I been talking to you."

      "Don't worry about it. I can cope with Logan." Mr. Summers looked
      amused. "But your Erik Lenscherr impression, now that's scary. "
      Deepening his voice dramatically, he said, " 'Just where do you think
      you're going in that costume, young man? A fetishist club?' "

      Rogue laughed half-heartedly. "I, uh, I didn't know you knew him."

      "I guess there are a lot a things you know now that you didn't know
      before."

      "I won't -- I mean -- I know it's private stuff." She could feel her
      face getting hot.

      Mr. Summers regarded her steadily. "I know you know. We trust you."

      "Yeah, well, that's cuz you're idiots." Rogue sneered. "Maybe I
      should call your pals at the National People's Radio. Let's see how
      liberal they *really* are. Whaddaya think?"

      Mr. Summers sat back in his chair and said, "I think you'd never do
      anything to jeopardize Rogue's welfare. And right now, the
      Institute's welfare and her welfare are one and the same. Now if
      you'd kindly crawl back under your rock?"

      "Sorry," Rogue said meekly.

      "Stop apologizing."

      She said abruptly, "Why'd he have to go?"

      But Mr. Summers only shook his head.

      "Mr. Summers?"

      "Hmm?" He began to unfold the linen napkin by his plate.

      She gestured around the restaurant and asked in a low voice, "Was
      this Logan's idea?"

      Mr. Summers dropped his napkin and stooped over to retrieve it. He
      straightened up and smiled at her.

      "That's right," he said. "He was worried you'd spend the rest of the
      day in your room crying."

      "Huh!" Rogue instantly fired up. "Like I'd cry over his sorry ass
      when I got Bobby *and* John asking me out! I swear I don't know how
      he managed to fit his ego inside that camper of his." She swigged her
      tea as though it were a bourbon-and-branch.

      "You go, girl," Mr. Summers said gravely, causing Rogue to very
      nearly snort her tea out her nose.

      So Rogue did not spend the evening crying in her room (as she had
      fully planned to do). Instead she spent the evening stuffing herself
      with smothered pork chops, collards, macaroni and cheese, and sweet
      potato pie. She ordered barbecued ribs for Mr. Summers, because her
      inner Logan yearned to see Mr. Summers get messy.

      And after Mr. Summers got all the barbecue sauce off his hands and
      face (the tie was a lost cause), he escorted her into the subway for
      a short trip downtown to Alphabet City and the East Village. Rogue
      instantly fell in love with the East Village. Mr. Summers said he was
      negotiating to buy the Institute a safe house in the East Village,
      and his choice of venue needed no explanation. Nobody gave her a
      second look. She suspected nobody would give Sabertooth a second
      look. Mr. Summers got second and third looks, but she didn't think
      all those guys were staring at his glasses. Her inner Logan was
      always so busy pointing out Scooter's flaws that only now did it
      occur to Rogue that Mr. Summers was cute. Really, he was, in a Wally
      Cleaver kind of way. He looked like the All-American boys in the
      Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. Logan wasn't cute. He was
      overpoweringly, breathtakingly masculine, but she wasn't sure if
      Logan even qualified as handsome, and she doubted anyone would ever
      hire him as a model, except, maybe, America's Most Wanted.

      She shoved Logan out of her thoughts and had herself a good time
      rifling through the racks of the funky boutiques along St. Mark's
      Place. Mr. Summers said he hadn't spent near the money that Logan had
      left for her, and she decided to blow some of it on a fur boa.
      Actually it was a string of fake-fur-covered pom-poms. Mr. Summers'
      eyebrows climbed up under his hairline as she wrapped it around her
      neck and flung the ends over her shoulder, but he refrained from
      comment, merely fished out his wallet and handed her thirty dollars.
      The sales clerk chomped her gum and said, "You got him trained, hon."

      Rogue stifled a giggle. She turned and peered around the untidy heaps
      of ratty clothes and leather accessories in hopes of catching Mr.
      Summers' reaction. Mr. Summers, alas, had wandered outside. He was
      standing in front of the shop window and studying the display (two
      mannequins engaged in a salacious act) with apparent morbid
      curiosity. Logan sneered that Scooter was probably trying to pick up
      a few pointers. Rogue told Logan to give it a rest. Rogue, with
      feminine perspicacity, was learning to discount about ninety-nine
      percent of anything Logan said about Scooter -- er, Mr. Summers.

      The sales clerk kicked aside piles of vests, scarves, skirts,
      blouses, and leather things Rogue didn't really care to learn the
      purpose of. Having cleared a path through the shop, the girl led the
      way to the cash register and rang up the sale. "Hey," she said,
      tortuously counting out change. "Your boyfriend, he's a mutant,
      right?"
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