continuing directly from part 2a/2
Despite the invitation, Mulder and Scully couldn't
simply pack their bags and go, as they might once have
done. That was the flip side of having a child; they
needed Margaret Scully to take Billy for the weekend.
And both agreed even without discussing it that -� as
benign as Xavier might seem �- they were not about to
take Billy to Westchester without knowing a good deal
more about the mysterious professor. Undue suspicion
perhaps, but it was a suspicion dearly bought. Xavier
had not quarreled at all, simply given that annoying
enigmatic smile of his and said that they were welcome
any time. Mulder was sure the man knew why they
weren't bringing their son, and equally sure that he
was amused by it. But the mutant community tended to
be wary, too, as witnessed by Grey's public
concealment of her own mutation.
"Dammit," Scully had said later that same evening
while crawling up on the kitchen counter to reach a
Corning dish on a top shelf. "I want that woman's
mutation! She's tall. What does she need telekinesis
for? She can *reach* her dishes!"
"I'm sure she finds a use for it," Mulder had replied,
slipping a hand past Scully's shoulder to nab the
out-of-reach cookware even while he'd swung her down
off the counter. "And I saw her eying your red hair.
Jealousy, thy name is woman."
She'd popped him �- hard -� with the back of her hand.
So it wasn't until Friday that they were able to leave
for Westchester County, New York. Before departing,
Mulder made a visit to Skinner's office. For someone
no longer an active agent, he still spent a god-awful
amount of time in the Hoover building. Skinner
returned from a meeting to find Mulder waiting in his
outer office. He raised an eyebrow. "Can I help you,
"Mulder, I �- "
"Charles Xavier has invited Scully and I to
Breathing out sharply, Skinner made a gesture for
Mulder to follow him into his inner office, then shut
the door behind. Mulder sauntered over to lean
insolently against Skinner's desk. "So what do you
know about Xavier?"
Skinner didn't reply immediately, then grunted, "Not a
lot," and came over to take his seat behind his desk,
pushing files around. "You're in my way, Mulder."
Mulder turned and bent over the desk, placing one palm
on top of whatever file Skinner was trying to hide in,
forcing the AD to look up. "Then how long have you
"I'm not sure I'd say that I 'know' him now. More
know *of* him. He has a great deal of influence."
"Like Cancer Man did."
"No, Mulder, like a man with money does. I've never
seen anything that would lead me to believe that
Charles Xavier is dangerous in the same way as the
Consortium. Rather the reverse."
"He's a mutant telepath. That's not dangerous?"
Skinner dropped his pen, or really, threw it down, and
gave up on trying to work. "Don't tell me that you,
of all people, buy into the current mutant hysteria."
Straightening up, Mulder crossed his arms and glared
absently at the couch on the far side of Skinner's
office. "Of course not. But I dislike secrets."
"Tell me something I don't know, Mulder. As for
Xavier, the few times he's had dealings with the FBI,
it's been to assist in the apprehension of criminals
with mutant capabilities."
"And sometimes, to protect them -� like Scott Summers
nine years ago in Omaha, Nebraska."
Leaning back in his chair, Skinner just studied Mulder
a minute. "Xavier has occasionally asked that we
deep-six certain cases involving mutant teens and the
*unintentional* accidents arising from the
manifestation of their powers. As with Mr. Summers.
Sometimes, those have been X-File cases. More often,
they haven't. But I've never heard of Xavier
interfering in a true criminal investigation in order
to protect a mutant who was using his powers for harm.
Remember Robert Modell? The Pusher? He was a
*mutant*, Mulder, had the gift of autosuggestion. I
hadn't met Xavier the first time Modell showed up, but
the second, in '98, I did know Xavier. In retrospect,
I should have called him in on it immediately, but I
didn't fully realize, at the time, what that man can
do. When I told him later about Modell and Linda
Bowman, he wanted absolutely nothing to do Bowman, was
glad to see her put away. Charles Xavier, Scott
Summers and others like them are not Robert Modell and
"Can you be certain of that, sir?"
"Go to Westchester and meet Summers for yourself. You
ought to like him. He's a Knicks fan."
"Of course he doesn't, Mom. You have to make him go
sit on the potty or he'll forget and wet his pants."
Pause. "Yes, Mom, I know. We'll be back Sunday, or
maybe Monday. Love you, too. Bye."
Scully snapped closed her cell and slipped it back
into her purse, looked out the car window at the
passing Maryland countryside: leaves budding again on
oak and maple after winter hibernation, and dogwood
and cherry in bloom �- brilliant white and pink �- on
the little square lawns of little square suburban
houses. "If she tells me one more time how all four
of us were toilet trained by the time we were two, I
think I'll scream."
"Billy's toilet trained," Mulder said, defensively.
He didn't like it when anyone criticized his son, even
"Billy is likely to use the toilet if someone catches
him in time and makes him try. That's not quite the
same as toilet trained, Mulder. He just wet my
mother's good couch." She looked off out the window.
"Mom's right. He should be better trained by now.
He'll be four in a month. This is ridiculous. We've
been lazy. We let him use diapers too long because it
was easier and we were busy. Toilet training takes a
concerted effort." She sighed.
Mulder didn't reply immediately, just hunched his
shoulders and kept his eyes on the road. "Well, this
is a vacation. You don't need to be calling your mom
every few hours about Billy."
She smiled faintly. "Only you, Mulder, would consider
a trip to visit Mutant High a 'vacation.'"
"Don't tell me you're not looking forward to getting
your hands on Jean Grey's research."
Her smile deepened. "Oh, I am. But that doesn't make
this a vacation. If it were a vacation, I'd be
wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not gray wool Amanda
Smith with matching heels."
Grinning, Mulder popped a sunflower seed into his
mouth and bit down on the salty shell, said around it,
"Your choice, Scully." He wiped salt off his fingers
onto his blue jeans, pushed up the long sleeves of his
t-shirt and adjusted the New York Knicks cap on his
head. He glanced behind him as he swung off the
access ramp onto I-70, accelerating to match traffic.
"Feels like old times, doesn't it?"
"Yes, it does. Except we only need one room now."
"Wow," Mulder said, at their first sight of Xavier's
School for Gifted Youngsters, off in the distance down
a little private roadway.
"Mmm," Scully agreed. "Wonder who mows their lawn?"
The 'school' was actually a mansion on an extensive
estate not far outside Salem Center, New York. 1407
Greymalkin Lane. He and Scully pulled up on the main
drive circle in their Honda Pathfinder and just stared
at the front for a bit. "I think we're under-dressed
and under-carred, Scully."
"You're under-dressed, Mulder. I told you to wear a
suit." She popped her door. "Let's go." And she was
out before he'd turned off the engine. She seemed
eager. But then, once they'd all gotten past the
initial shock and wariness in the hotel earlier that
week, Scully and Jean Grey had hit it off like a pair
of long lost fraternal twins. They'd sat on the couch
and chatted in medicalese for an hour until Mulder's
eyes had crossed. Himself, he felt a bit more
ambivalence. He couldn't shake a lingering annoyance
at Xavier's long-ago interference in his case.
And maybe, just maybe, he was afraid finally to track
down something extraordinary -� afraid that if it held
still long enough for him to satisfy his curiosity, it
would lose all sense of wonder, turn out to be
anti-climactic. Scott Summers was just a man, after
all. A mutant, true, but still a man. He taught math
at a private high school, coached basketball, and kept
the school's books. What was so extraordinary about
Scully had stopped in the middle of the walkway at the
foot of the steps, to look back at him, still standing
by the car. "Come on, Mulder."
"Yes, ma'am, G-woman."
"Oh, I like that," said Jean Grey from where she stood
in the now-open doorway at the top of the stairs.
"You have him well-trained, Dana." Then she leaned
back in the door just a little to call behind her.
"You hear that, Scott? He *comes* when *she* calls!"
"Yeah, yeah," said a voice from the depths of the
Grey was grinning. "Please, come in." And she stood
aside to let them enter Xavier's School. Hand in its
customary place at the small of Scully's back, Mulder
followed his wife inside.
His first impression was of expensive oak paneling
everywhere. A wall of great windows behind them let
in the butter-yellow light of a late April afternoon.
This appeared to be a den-turned-game-room for the
kids. There were a few students hanging around,
sacked out or sprawled on couches watching the
television, or playing table hockey. They glanced up
as Mulder and Scully entered, then went back to
whatever they'd been doing. Judged and summarily
dismissed as Too Old to be of interest. Mulder
grinned. The kids seemed to be normal teens. One had
blue hair, but Mulder wasn't sure if that owed to a
mutation or to a peculiar notion of fashion sense.
"Once an FBI agent, always an FBI agent," said a
pleasant tenor voice laced with good-natured
amusement. "Canvassing the place?" Mulder looked
down to meet the eyes of the speaker.
Well, not quite meet them. The other still had on the
eye-wear Mulder had noted in the hallway outside the
Senate � fashionable sunglasses with shiny red lenses
and what looked like dull-metal blinders to either
side, enclosing his eyes completely. Must be hell on
his peripheral vision. Otherwise, he had the boy
scout good looks of Middle Americana as dressed by L.
L. Bean. Coal gray cardigan over a black turtleneck,
dark hair, pale skin, small nose, dimple in the chin.
He held out a hand to Mulder. "Welcome to
Westchester, Mr. Mulder, Dr. Scully. It's good to
have you both." It seemed sincere enough.
And after a nine-year chase, Mulder reached out to
clasp the hand of Scott Summers. "Thanks."
Dana shook his hand, too. "And it's Dana, please."
He nodded. "Call me Scott." Then he gestured to
Mulder's hat. "You're a Knicks fan?"
"When the Knicks are playing," Scully said, "all life
stops and rotates around the television."
"As it should," Summers replied with an irrepressible
grin that made Scully smile back automatically, as if
dazzled. And Mulder found himself wishing for a very
big truck to drop on Summers.
*Maybe we should put a collar and leash on them both.*
Came an unexpected �- and very feminine �- voice
inside of Mulder's head. *She likes his smile, he
likes her hair.*
Mulder jerked his chin upward to stare at Jean Grey.
*The professor isn't the only telepath, I see,* he
thought back. She only smiled.
Aloud, Summers said to Scully, "They're talking about
us behind our backs."
"They are?" Scully seemed surprised.
"Jean has a thing for subversive telepathic
commentary. She forgets I can still hear her."
"I don't forget. I meant you to hear that."
"So what did she say?" Scully asked, glancing around
at the taller woman �- a little doubtful.
"She said that you like my smile and I like your
hair." Scully blushed, but Summers seemed mostly
amused. "She's right. I do. You have very pretty
"Thank you. I think."
"Um" -� Summers clapped his hands together and glanced
at Mulder -� "You need help with your luggage?"
Mulder blinked. From telepathic side-commentary to
unloading the car . . . this had gone past anti-climax
into suburban blase with head-spinning rapidity. Grey
seemed to pick up on that. "Slow *down*, Scott. And
Dana, Fox -� we're sorry. We're so used to our gifts,
we forget other people aren't. And yes, like the
professor, I'm also a telepath, if not one so
powerful. But I never read people's thoughts without
their permission. In fact, I try very hard not to."
"You didn't just read my thoughts?" Mulder asked her.
She smiled, showing pretty dimples. "Well, I read the
ones you projected. Please" -� she gestured towards
the door behind Summers �- "let's go into the kitchen
and get some coffee. And talk. We can unload the car
*later*," she said, glancing at Summers. Slightly
embarrassed, he shrugged.
They were led down a long, wide marble-paved hallway
to an industrial kitchen. Off to one side, near a
large set of windows, was a pair of eat-in tables.
Grey seated them at one while Summers set about making
cappuccino, frothy milk and all. "It's the only thing
in a kitchen he can handle," Grey confided in a stage
"Hey! I resemble that remark!"
Mulder exchanged a small smile with Scully. Grey and
Summers were trying very hard to put them at ease.
When Summers was done with the four cups, he brought
over two himself and Grey lifted the other two without
moving from her seat, set them down one each in front
of Mulder and Scully, then followed with the sugar
bowl. Scully was grinning with a kind of childlike
delight. "You didn't spill a drop. I told Mulder the
other day that I want your mutation."
Grey smiled back. "Actually, it took a long time for
me to learn to do that. It's easier to shove things
around than move them gently. When my powers first
manifested, my parents thought they had a poltergeist.
I was throwing chairs into walls, ripping down the
curtains, breaking the dishes. It was terrible."
"So you think most poltergeists are mutants?" Mulder
asked, curious and leaning forward.
Scully gripped his hand on the tabletop and squeezed
tightly, "Shut up, Mulder," then to Grey and Summers.
"Excuse him, please. Mulder is never off-duty, even
though he's not in the Bureau any more."
"That's okay," Grey said, grinning over the top of her
cappuccino cup. "Scott's never off-duty, either."
Summers elbowed her, but lightly so she wouldn't spill
her coffee, and took a sip of his own.
"I doubt," Scully said, "that being on duty for Scott
includes alien abductions and little gray men."
Summers actually snorted coffee out his nose all over
the white Formica tabletop, apologized and wiped it up
with a napkin, then glanced at Mulder. "Alien
"This from a guy who shoots laser beams out his eyes?"
"They're not laser beams," Summers corrected.
"They're optic blasts. No heat, just force. And I
don't blame them on little green men."
"Little gray men," Mulder corrected. Remembering the
crumbled bathroom wall at a San Diego high school, he
leaned his elbows on the table. "All right. I've
been waiting nine years for this. Just how do these
'optic blasts' work?"
". . . and *awaaaay* we go . . . . " Scully muttered
beside him, rolling her eyes. "He has the bit in his
teeth now, folks. But I confess I'm curious, too."
"It's okay." Summers was smiling. "Jean should
probably be the one to explain this, but essentially,
my body metabolizes solar energy and transforms it
into force beams, which are then released through my
"Why the eyes?"
Summers shrugged and sunlight flashed off the red of
his glasses. "You got me. It's damn inconvenient."
"That's why you wear the glasses?"
"Yes. I sustained brain damage as a boy, in an
accident. Well, I guess you know; it was the plane
crash that killed my parents. My brother and I were
the only survivors. My parachute caught on fire when
it opened, so I hit the ground hard, had a cracked
skull and a bad concussion. The part of my brain that
normally would have controlled my mutation was
damaged. So the beams are stuck in permanent on. I
can't turn them off. The glasses �- they're ruby
quartz �- dissipate the force of the blasts, so I
don't hurt people, pets, the furniture, the wall, the
ceiling . . . . " He gestured absently to encompass
"You have to wear them all the time?" Scully asked.
"I have to wear them all the time," he answered,
nodding, then tilted his head. "The professor told us
that you and Dana were the FBI agents sent out to
investigate what happened at my high school, the, um,
night everything hit the fan."
"Yes, that's right. We chased you all the way to
Omaha. Then your professor intervened." He couldn't
quite keep the irritation out of his voice.
Frowning, Summers ran a thumb up and down the side of
his white mug. He wasn't looking at Mulder, and
didn't reply for a long minute. Grey watched him,
then reached beneath the table to pat his knee. "I
know it's not exactly kosher," Summers began, "what
Charles did, but you have to understand, I wouldn't
have listened to you. I'd have been too scared to
hear anything you said. And you probably wouldn't
have known what to say, anyway. You wouldn't have
known what was happening to me. Not many people did,
"That was before the public became aware of
mutations," Grey put in smoothly. Her hand still
rested on Summer's knee. "Scott and I were some of
Charles' first students. Charles taught us what we
were, helped us learn to control our powers, and most
of all, taught us not to be afraid -� or ashamed -� of
being different. If you saw my presentation -� "
Scully and Mulder both nodded.
" �- then you know that mutations typically manifest
during adolescence under the pressure of a stressful
situation. In fact, it's a build-up of stress,
triggered by one specific, tense event. In my case,
my mutation manifested very young. At ten, I
witnessed the death of a childhood friend from a car
accident -� I *felt* her die, through my telepathy,
and went to pieces. I spent years in and out of
sanitariums diagnosed as schizophrenic because of the
voices in my head. No one could help me until I met
the professor. By contrast, Scott's powers manifested
quite late." She stopped to glance at him, let him
tell his own story. Or not. He stared out the window
instead, and the silence hung heavy for a while. Dust
motes danced in the slanting light, and in the
distance, Mulder could hear the voices of students,
rising and falling. He remembered what Elizabeth
Franklin had said, years ago. Pushing Scott didn't
get far. Grey hadn't quite pushed him. She'd just
walked him right up to the edge and was going to see
if he'd jump across on his own. Mulder doubted that
he often did.
But this time, he sighed and said, "I was under a lot
of pressure about school." He'd gone back to rubbing
a thumb up and down his cup. "I couldn't go to
college without a scholarship; my foster parents sure
couldn't afford to send me. They'd already given me
more than I'd ever expected. I had a rap sheet, and
even though juvenile records are sealed when you turn
eighteen, I wasn't eighteen yet. On every college
application, I had to explain myself, convince people
that taking a chance on me wasn't a mistake."
"But I thought you were accepted at Berkeley?" Mulder
asked. "That's pretty prestigious."
"Yes. But I kept expecting the admissions office to
call me back and say there'd been a mistake, they
hadn't realized everything I'd done wrong. When
you're an orphan, you get used to having the rug
yanked out from underneath you."
Grey had, Mulder noted, slipped her arm around the
back of his chair and now patted his back
unobtrusively. Consciously, he seemed oblivious, but
his body language had relaxed again and he'd quit
rubbing his cappuccino mug. These two knew each other
as well as Mulder knew Scully and he wondered how long
they'd been together. Summers was younger than Grey
�- notably so. Grey must have been graduating from
medical school when Summers was graduating from high
"The fight with my date at the prom wasn't that
important," Summers continued, "just a last straw kind
of thing. When I blew out the bathroom wall, I didn't
understand what had happened, but I was sure no one
would believe a JD if he said he hadn't done it on
purpose. Everything I'd planned on was shot to hell.
So I ran. That's why I wouldn't have listened to you.
I needed someone who could explain to me what I was,
what had happened and -� most importantly �- someone
who could fix it, give me back a chance to show I
wasn't a screw-up."
Looking from Summers to Mulder, Grey said, "That's why
Scott is so effective here. More than half our
students are run-aways, or have criminal records. He
can talk to them in a way I can't. He understands, on
a completely different level, what they're going
"And I can usually catch them at whatever they're
planning before they pull it off, too," he added with
a smile. "They think I have eyes in the back of my
"No, they know you have a telepathic fiancee."
"You didn't have that much of a criminal record,
Scott," Scully said.
He shifted in his seat, glanced at the table. "No,
not really, not compared to some. I have a little
more perspective now, but when you're a foster kid,
there's an assumption going in that you'll be trouble.
It doesn't take much to justify that assumption in
"I thought the Franklins were supportive?" Mulder
"They were. Very much so. I owe them a lot. But
it's one thing to be supportive when your foster son
stays out of trouble and brings home As. It's another
when he wrecks his high school bathroom. That was a
whole different level of trouble from a few arrests
for shoplifting or theft when I wasn't old enough to
know better. Without the professor, I'd have lost my
scholarship, and Gene and Beth would've been stuck
with me living there until I could get some kind of
two-bit job. I'd have been a burden on them. I
didn't want to be that."
It was said with complete frankness, not as a plea for
pity, and struck Mulder hard. He shared a quick
glance with Scully, and reached behind him to fish in
his jacket pocket, pulled out the letter that had been
waiting for nine years. He laid it on the table -�
face up so that "For Scott" was clearly visible in
Elizabeth Franklin's fine handwriting �- and pushed it
across to Summers. "I don't think they'd have seen it
Summers stared at the letter a minute, as if Mulder
had set down a viper in front of him, then laid a hand
down on top of it. "How'd you get this?"
"During the course of our investigation, we
interviewed your foster parents. The first thing out
of your foster mother's mouth when we arrived at the
door was, 'Is he okay? Did you find him?' She wasn't
mad at you; she was worried. When we found out that
the case had been closed -� by Xavier, I now know -� I
called them to explain. She asked if she could send
me this letter, to give to you if I ever did find you.
It's been nine years, but . . . this is yours. She
wanted you to know that you could come home. Call it
a hunch, but I doubt that's changed even after nine
Summers grabbed the letter and stood up so fast he
almost knocked over his chair, then he was gone. Grey
watched him go, turning back after a moment to smile
softly. "Thank you, Fox. This means more to Scott
than you can guess. If you'll excuse me?"
Continued directly in part 2c/2....
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