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6226FIC: Past Grief (What’s Past is Prologue 12/18)

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  • Mo
    Jul 29, 2005
      Past Grief (What’s Past is Prologue 12/18)

      “Are you all moved in?” I asked, as Scott opened the
      door to what had been Professor X’s office. I
      followed him over to the seating area by the
      fireplace, which was cold and devoid of wood, of
      course, in August. I noticed right away that the spot
      that had always been left empty for Charles’s
      wheelchair now had a large, upholstered armchair in
      it, the mate of the one across from it. I wondered
      idly if it had just been bought for this purpose.

      “Not really,” he said, in response to the question I’d
      asked, sitting down in the big armchair and gesturing
      to me to sit down on the couch near him. He looked
      around a bit at his surroundings. “I’ve been avoiding
      moving in here, but I need the space. My office is
      too small for a lot of the meetings I hold. Shuttling
      back and forth was getting ridiculous.” He shrugged.
      “So, it may take a while to move all my stuff in, but
      I’m doing it. And I told Rogue she can reassign my
      office. My old office, I guess I should say.”

      “I hope it was okay that I introduced Rick Kapell to
      you, yesterday.” I hesitated. “I wasn’t sure what to
      do. I thought of just pointing him out to you.”

      “You did the right thing. I would have asked to be
      introduced if you’d pointed him out. I don’t want to
      act like we’re scared of him.” He smiled a kind of
      sour smile. “Of course I am scared of him, or at
      least of what he might find out, but I don’t want him
      to realize that. I was kind of alarmed that he was at
      the reception. I guess I should have seen that
      coming. The consequence of having it at the church,
      rather than here, where we could control who

      “It made it more accessible to have the reception at
      the same place as the service.”

      “Yes, that was the idea. Particularly accessible for
      the wheelchair crowd.” He thought some more. “It was
      probably the right decision, but it made for an odd
      atmosphere. It was a pretty public event that felt
      like a private party. I know the team and the kids
      all knew not to say anything at the reception that
      ought to stay intramural. I’m pretty sure Wendy
      impressed the same thing on the Outpost crew. Still,
      I wish I knew who was talking with Rick Kapell, or who
      was talking that he was overhearing.”

      “Jean-Paul and I kept tabs on him. Between the two of
      us, we stayed with Rick the whole time. I don’t think
      we’ll like his write-up of the service or the
      reception, knowing the way his paper talks about
      mutants, but I don’t think he learned anything

      “Thanks for doing that. I’ll thank Jean-Paul, too.”

      I hesitated before continuing. “There’s someone I do
      think you should talk to about Rick, although as I
      said, we were watching, and I’m quite sure Rick didn’t
      speak to him at the service. Simon Graves.”

      “You’ve spoken to Simon?” I nodded. “I... I was
      surprised to see him at the reception. We haven’t
      spoken much in recent years, although he did send a
      condolence letter.”

      “Yes, that’s how I came to contact him in the first

      Neither of us said anything for a minute. “How much
      did he tell you?” Scott asked, finally.

      “Everything, I think. I don’t think he meant to. I
      don’t think he’d say anything to anyone else, but I
      suggest you talk to him, just to reinforce the need
      for discretion.”

      Scott didn’t seem to take in my suggestion that he
      talk to Simon. “Adam,” he said. “When I met Simon...
      well, it was a very difficult time in my life. I was
      very young and I was on my own, and blind and...”

      “Scott, don’t. Please. You don’t need to explain
      yourself to me. I understand. And, besides, I’m only
      doing this for you. And the X-Men. I’m not judging
      you or... I don’t want to invade your privacy.
      Really, I don’t. I just found out what I could, and
      I’m telling you about it. I admire you immensely, I
      always have. For all you do and for who you are.
      Nothing I've found out changes that, lessens that, at
      all. All I'm doing is trying to find out what
      information is out there that could be damaging to
      your reputation, and that of the team, if it were
      published. So, I think you ought to speak to Simon.”

      He nodded. “I will. And thank you.”

      “I really don’t think he’s spoken to anyone about you
      besides me. I had his letter, and that gave me a kind
      of entrée others wouldn’t have.” I didn’t know how
      much more to say. “He thinks very highly of you,
      Scott. He’d read everything in the papers about you,
      in the wake of Charles’s death. Simon seems, well,
      very proud of your accomplishments. He’s not looking
      to hurt you. He feels he let you down, and I think
      that led him to be less discreet with me than he
      should have been.”

      He nodded again. “I understand how that could
      happen.” Neither of us said anything for a minute and
      then he continued. “I think this is awkward for both
      of us. I very much appreciate you taking on this
      assignment. I guess I was hoping you wouldn’t really
      find anything out, though.” He smiled then, and I
      did, too. Then the smile turned into a frown and he
      asked, “Is that all you found out?”

      “No, it’s not. This is hard stuff. I wasn’t even
      sure how much to tell you of what I did find out.”

      “I want to know it all.”

      “That’s what I eventually concluded. And, frankly,
      I’m more concerned about Rick Kapell finding
      information from before you came to New York than I am
      about him uncovering what you did when you got here.
      I’ve been to Indiana. I hope he hasn’t.” He didn’t
      say anything, although he blanched a bit. “That’s not
      something you’ve kept a secret – where you’re from. I
      don’t think anyone on the team is talking to him, but
      if they did...”

      “I never say much about my childhood. I always just
      say I’m from ‘a small town in Indiana.’ It just seemed
      like something I *could* say, when there wasn’t a
      lot.” He sighed.

      “I know. And I don’t know that Kapell will tumble to
      it, since he hasn’t heard you say that, like I have,
      but... well, there’s a discrepancy between what you
      say about your childhood and the official record. Or
      what seems to be the official record. Certainly
      everyone on the team knows that you came to live here
      when you were sixteen. It’s well known that you were
      Charles’s first student and the first X-Man. The kids
      know that, too. But you’ve got a birth certificate
      that says you were born in Vermont, and that your
      parents were Charles Xavier and someone named Maria

      He didn’t say anything at first. “We just made her
      up,” he said, finally. “It was so I could go to
      college. We were all applying – Jean, Warren, Hank
      and I. And they ask for parents’ names, and birth
      date, and... I don’t know. Charles just thought we
      should have a paper trail. And then later, I needed a
      passport, and a driver’s license and... It was useful
      to have a birth certificate that listed him as my

      “I figured it was something like that. It’s got your
      real birth date.”

      “Yeah, we thought it was easier that way, if I didn’t
      have to remember a different birthday.”

      “Makes sense. Like people who assume a new identity
      but use the same nickname or the same initials. I
      started looking through records in Indiana for that
      date. The name’s not exactly the same, but close
      enough.” I wasn’t sure what to say next. “I’ve been
      to Goodland. And a few other places. I think I know
      what happened. I’ve gotten access to records,
      including some that were supposed to have been sealed.
      I’ve spoken to your mother.”

      He seemed to swallow hard. “How is she?”

      “I can’t really say. We only spoke briefly. She...
      she wasn’t very friendly. And it didn’t help that I
      said I knew you.”

      He nodded. “I gather she didn’t ask how I am.”

      I shook my head. “I’m sorry.”

      “Did she say anything about me?”

      “She said that as far as she’s concerned, you died
      when you were fifteen.”

      He nodded again, exhaling loudly. “Was Alex – my
      brother – there?”


      “So, you know what happened to my father?”

      “I think so. Nobody there knows, I don’t think.
      Scott, I pieced it together. Most of it, anyway. I
      still have some questions, but I think I know
      basically what happened. I read the medical
      examiner’s report, trial transcripts, transcripts of
      police interviews with witnesses. I think you killed
      him accidentally, when you first came into your
      powers. Am I right?” He nodded. “I don’t think
      anyone knows that, though, or almost no one. The
      mutant phenomenon was fairly new. It happened really
      suddenly. And you were gone afterwards. I don’t
      think anyone put it together. The medical examiner
      might have suspected. He did point out anomalies,
      things that didn’t fit the case the police put
      together. But they had a confession and an easy
      explanation and I think the cops and the prosecutor
      just thought it would confuse things to bring it up.”

      “A confession? Someone confessed to killing him?” He
      sounded completely bewildered. “Who?”

      “Your brother.”

      “Alex?” The anguish in his voice was worse than I’d
      imagined it would be, and I’d been imagining something
      really bad. “How? Why?”

      “I don’t have all the answers. What do you remember,
      Scott? About what happened to your father, and about
      Alex. Maybe between your recollections and my
      research we can figure out what happened.”

      He took a deep breath and then started talking. It
      felt like he lost sight of me being there, almost like
      he was talking to himself. “It was my fault. I
      shouldn’t have let it happen. I was late – at least a
      couple of hours. I was supposed to be helping my
      father repave the walkway up to our house and I stayed
      too long at Toby’s. I spent a lot of time at Toby’s
      house then. My father didn’t like it, didn’t like
      Toby, didn’t like me being friends with him. I don’t
      know if he suspected anything.”

      “You and Toby were lovers?”

      He shook his head. “No, nothing like that. He was a
      friend from school. I was in love with him, but he
      never knew. We never... did anything. I never said
      anything. But I don’t know. Maybe it showed. When
      you’re in love, when you’re young and in love,
      particularly – well, it’s hard not to let it show. He
      was all I thought about. I know I talked about him
      all the time, or did until my father started making
      veiled comments about Toby. He called him a ‘pretty
      boy.’ So maybe he had an inkling. I don’t know.

      “But, anyway, he didn’t like me spending so much time
      with Toby, and he was really mad that day because I
      didn’t get home in time to work on the walkway. The
      paving stones were all stacked by the house and we had
      already pulled up the old ones. I was late and he was
      getting mad, and... I think he went looking through my
      stuff to find Toby’s number, to call me. But what he
      found...” He stopped talking and put his head in his

      “Letters. Love letters to Toby, right?” He nodded.
      “I've seen them. You never gave them to him?”

      “No, he had no idea. Not until my father started in
      on me. Yelling at me as soon as Toby and I showed up
      on our bikes, calling me names. Alex was there. A
      couple of kids next door stopped to listen, too. It
      was this huge... spectacle or something. Major
      Summers and his faggot son. And he started *reading*
      the letters, out loud, right there. With everybody
      *listening*. Toby ran away, hands on his ears. I
      don’t think he saw what happened. But Alex, the

      “I don’t think anyone but Alex was close enough to see
      what happened. At least the neighbors’ stories were
      confused, contradictory. The cops didn’t know what to
      make of what they said.”

      “I had no idea. I didn’t know I was manifesting,
      didn’t know what was happening. My head hurt, my eyes
      hurt, but I didn’t know what it meant. I was trying
      not to cry, trying to just kind of will him to stop.
      And he wouldn’t. And I looked at him... I wanted him
      dead at that moment. I can’t deny that. But I didn’t
      kill him on purpose. I didn’t even know what
      happened. I could see a bright red light and I could
      just... feel something. Something I’d never felt
      before. Something coming out of my eyes. I didn’t
      know what it was, what it meant. But then he was on
      the ground, and his head... It was... I’d never seen
      anyone look like that.”

      “I know. Strong concussive force. That’s what the
      medical examiner’s report said. But Scott, you could
      see him? After he fell? No optic blasts coming out

      “No. It was... intermittent. I didn’t even know
      that. I didn’t know anything.” He put his head in
      his hands again. “I haven’t thought about this for so
      long.” He thought some more. “He was dead, I was
      sure of it. I checked. No pulse, and the back of his
      head. It was, well there was no way someone could be
      alive with that kind of injury. I think the other
      kids ran away, maybe to get help. But Alex was there.
      And I looked at him and... Wait! I looked at Alex
      and saw the red light again, felt the blasts coming
      out, but nothing happened to him. And then I closed
      my eyes because I was scared it would happen again.
      And I ran.” He was lost in the memory again. “I
      opened them a few times, tentatively. I didn’t know
      how to function blind yet. But I learned quickly.
      And more and more it was happening, whatever it was.
      A few days had gone by and I was hundreds of miles
      away before I realized I was a mutant. By then, I
      knew I had to keep them closed all the time, because
      it was happening whenever I opened them.”

      “How long did you keep your eyes closed, Scott?”

      “Umm. I don’t know. I lost track of time for a while
      there. Over a year, anyway. When Charles found me,
      he didn’t know how to control it, either. So, I was
      still blind most of the time. But he used to take me
      outside. When nobody was around. And he’d tell me to
      just look up and open my eyes. And the blasts –
      they’d come out but they’d dissipate. Just into the
      air, not hitting anything. I’d never thought of that.
      Well, I couldn’t really do it in the city, I don’t
      think. I couldn’t have done it anywhere without
      someone to help me, to tell me when there was nothing
      above me. I didn’t have anyone to help me, not until
      Charles.” He closed his eyes, remembering. “Once
      Charles took me to the beach. A private beach, no one
      around, just so I could look at the ocean. It was so
      beautiful, just looking out at the water. And
      sometimes I could open them at his place in Vermont.
      It’s pretty remote. Nobody saw us. He’d tell me when
      it was safe to open my eyes. I cut down trees with my
      eyes. We used them for firewood. God, you can’t
      imagine what it felt like, to see after all that

      “It’s amazing to me you could keep them closed that

      “I had to.” He didn’t say anything for a while.
      “What happened with Alex?”

      “He hit your father in the head. With one of the
      paving stones. They were heavy. The medical
      examiner’s report said he appeared to have been hit
      *after* he died, both because there wasn’t enough
      blood on the paving stone and because of where he hit
      him. Alex was much shorter than your father – it
      wasn’t possible that he could hit him on the head like
      that, with that angle, unless it was after he’d
      fallen. That’s what the ME’s report said, but the
      cops kind of ignored that and it didn’t come out at
      the trial. It was a closed courtroom; he was tried as
      a juvenile. No one was trying to solve it, you know.
      No one was looking to clear him. He was saying he did
      it. They didn’t look any further.”

      “Why? Why did he say he did it? He had to have known
      it was me.”

      “I don’t know, Scott. Maybe he was protecting you.
      Maybe he thought he did kill him. He didn’t say much
      about what happened.” I took out my notes. “Here. ‘I
      hit him with the stone. I hit him hard. He said bad
      stuff about my brother. I wanted him to stop.’ No
      one knew what had happened. It was an easy

      “What did they do to him?”

      “He was in a juvenile detention center. Until he
      turned eighteen.”

      “Do you know where he is now?”

      “In prison.”

      “For a crime he supposedly committed at thirteen?”

      I shook my head. “No, he’s been in trouble with the
      law since. He never really settled down after he came
      out of the center. It doesn’t seem they provided him
      with much in the way of services when he got out. And
      he didn’t really have anywhere to go. His – your –
      mother wouldn’t take him back home. I think the only
      people he knew by that point were criminals. He’s
      been in and out of prison ever since. Some drug
      charges, armed robbery. The latest was kidnapping.”


      “A hostage situation during a robbery.”

      “It’s my fault this happened to him. He must hate

      “You didn’t know what happened to him?”

      “No! I knew nothing about any of it. I should have.
      I should have found out. I was too scared to. And my
      brother suffered.”

      “You were just a kid. You couldn’t have known what to
      do. You were in over your head.” He didn’t answer.
      “What did Charles know?”

      “I don’t know. You can’t tell with him. Sometimes he
      turned out to know more than... I don’t think he knew
      this, though. I never told him any of it, just that I
      ran away from home. I said I couldn’t go back and I
      wouldn’t talk about it. I was so ashamed. And scared
      of what he’d think of me if he knew. I thought he
      might send me away. I couldn't go back on the street.
      I just couldn't." He stopped a minute, lost in
      memory. "I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t
      think about it. So, I don't think he ever knew.” He
      stood up and paced back and forth for a minute. “I
      have to see Alex,” he said, finally. “You know where
      he is? What prison?”

      “Yes. Terre Haute. I can give you the details.”

      He stopped pacing and turned to me. “Good,” he said,
      in his confident Field Leader voice. “I’m going to go
      see him. I’ve got to get him out of there.”

      Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo

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