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"Seven Blue Stones," Unspoken R.R. #50, Scott/Jean

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  • Minisinoo
    SEVEN BLUE STONES Minisinoo Summary: Scott takes a leap of faith; c. 3500 words Warnings: Not much for this, but do beware of language. Scott s inner thoughts
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2001
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      SEVEN BLUE STONES
      Minisinoo


      Summary: Scott takes a leap of faith; c. 3500 words

      Warnings: Not much for this, but do beware of language. Scott's
      inner thoughts aren't always, um, *clean*.

      Series: Unspoken #50 (Good God!) Overlapping with Shaz's.

      Notes: All right; I watched the season premiere of Ally McBeal
      tonight, with Marsden as the firm's new lawyer. I got suitably
      inspired. ;> That big grin is just SO darn cute. How could any
      woman resist an earnest, grinning Scott? This came out in first
      person; Scott insisted on talking. ;> As per the novelization, his
      parents are still living, and as per comic canon, Chris Summers was a
      test pilot for the USAF. The thematic mugs are for Jenn, the REMF
      reference is for Lelia, and thanks to Shaz, who saw this literally
      hot off the press in a fast and furious email chat. We were writing
      at the same time.
      --------------

      When I was ten years old, I found seven perfect blue stones in a
      stream bed on the Korean base where my father spent a year's duty
      assignment. I hated that year -� everything was so alien: the food,
      the customs, the clothing, even the night sky. To this day, I can't
      stand the smell of kim-chee. (Then again, who can?) Since Dad was a
      test pilot, he'd be gone for weeks or months at a time, leaving Mom
      at home alone with Alex and me. And as most of his job was highly
      classified, he couldn't even tell us where he was. Out flying
      Blackbirds on spy missions probably. He still hasn't told me the
      half of it. Not that we talk much these days, and he doesn't know
      that I fly the same plane -� albeit modified into next year �- that
      he did. If he ever found out, he'd probably shit pinecones and then
      crawl up REMF ass until he found out how Xavier had acquired an SR-71
      in the first place. (REMF equals 'rear echelon motherfuckers.'
      Needless to say, real soldiers don't think much of the chairborne
      rangers.)

      But I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, he'd be proud of me,
      too -� proud of what I do. It was my father who raised me to believe
      that protecting people, even at the risk of my own life, is the
      highest calling that a person could have.

      But that's neither here nor there. Back to the stones. I'd never
      seen anything quite like them �- as blue as a robin's egg, as blue as
      my eyes -� and no bigger than by thumbnail. All the same size; all
      the same flat oval shape, worn water-smooth. With that typical
      quasi-magical thinking of kids, I'd decided they were meant just for
      me. Better than a rabbit's foot. I'd carried them in my pocket for
      the rest of that awful, awkward, lonely year -� never lost a one �-
      and when we returned to the US at the end of it to move to Offut
      outside Omaha (headquarters for the USAF Strategic Air Command), I
      naturally took my stones with me. And I got them as far as US
      Customs, where I made the foolish mistake of being honest about what
      was in my pockets and showing them to the customs agent. The stones
      were confiscated -� which baffles me now, because they were neither
      animal nor plant material, but I suppose the custom's officer was
      anal retentive. (I should find that funny, but don't. I'm a
      self-confessed control freak, yet I have a little common sense about
      it all.)

      My mother might have put up a fuss, argued to let me keep my stones
      -� she'd never lacked for assertiveness -� but my little brother Alex
      had been a monster for most of the twelve hour trip back, my father
      wasn't with us, and Mom had just been too tired and frazzled to argue
      it out with a customs agent over seven 'worthless' stones, however
      pretty they might be.

      "You can get new ones, Scotty," she'd said, and dragged me away. But
      of course, I never did find new ones like those, though I've looked
      ever since. Some people hunt for four-leaf clovers, I check the
      edges of lakes and stream beds for blue stones. And I don't think
      I've ever wholly forgiven my mother, but I'm older now, and
      occasionally worn out at day's end from the whining of adolescents in
      crisis, so I understand why she carted me off that long-ago
      afternoon.

      What did I learn from my little international incident? That parents
      make mistakes because they're only human, and that the occasional
      white lie might be a lot less trouble than telling the truth -�
      though I don't share that tidbit with my students. And I still have
      an almost pathological need to tell it like it is even if that
      doesn't necessarily win friends and influence people.

      But most of all, I learned that seven blue stones are rare, and you
      don't give up on something like that without a fight.


      ***


      I could never claim to be a class-act lady killer, but the dog did
      know a few tricks. On the way to Warren's apartment, I dropped by
      the local World Market to pick up a package of glass beads -� the
      flat, shiny kind used in interior decorating or handed out as "Dragon
      Tears" at those Ren Faires to which Marie had dragged me every summer
      of our liason. She could wear gloves there without attracting
      notice. Anyway, I got the beads -� blue the package said -- and a
      box of twelve imported champagne truffles in individually-wrapped
      gold foil. Then I dropped by a florist for a special selection of
      flowers: yellow iris, lily of the valley, fern, and red and white
      roses with the thorns removed.

      This floral and candy artillery in tow, I stopped first at the corner
      coffee shop located in the bottom floor retail section of Warren's
      building. I asked the counter help to hold the flowers for me, and
      to hold a table at the rear of the shop, too. I'd be back. Sensing
      an elaborate, romantic set-up, the girls grinned and agreed, placed
      an empty coffee cup on the table of my choice and a newspaper.

      I headed up to Warren's apartment then. This could be really awkward
      if Warren was there. Or a complete waste of my time if Jean wasn't.
      But no battle was ever won by dithering behind lines, so I made my
      preparations: seven blue glass beads down the hallway to the
      stairs, and a truffle on the top step, then seven more down to the
      next floor, and a truffle there, then seven more . . . . But I
      figured I'd better not put out any more truffles or a casual passerby
      might make off with my Hansel and Gretel lure. Trotting back up to
      the tenth floor, I laid the note I'd written -� with a glass bead on
      top �- right in front of the door and knocked on it . . . then ran -�
      hid in the stairwell to see what happened.

      It took a little while before the door was opened �- and by Jean, to
      my relief. She came out to look around in confusion, and I quickly
      ducked back so she wouldn't spot me.

      I hadn't signed the note, you see -� and I hoped she had a
      researcher's curiosity to follow the trail. Finishing a line of
      beads and truffles all the way down, I waited at the stairwell
      bottom, almost held my breath. But only a few minutes later, I heard
      her step on the stairs. So far, so good. Slipping out the door, I
      set beads all the way out through the building foyer . . . to the
      vast amusement of the security guard. "Don't give me away," I told
      him, exiting the building onto the sidewalk which led to the coffee
      shop. He shook his head and resettled his hat as I watched from
      behind a big potted palm outside the building. Jean emerged from the
      stairwell door, hair pulled back in a clip and dressed all in simple
      jeans and flannel. She was still a damn goddess. Her hands were
      full of gold foil truffles and she was grinning; I felt my own lips
      tips up. I had her now. Leaving a few more glass beads on the
      sidewalk leading towards the coffee shop, I taped a second note to
      the door and slipped inside to take my place at the back table where
      I hid behind the newspaper.

      Less than two minutes later, the door tinkled open and I snuck a peek
      around the edge of the paper. Jean studied the little shop with its
      high round tables set about with stools, the forest green walls with
      abstract art and the shelves stacked with thematic mugs and French
      coffee makers for sale. Those things really did make the best damn
      coffee. When it comes to food or drink, trust the French to do it
      right. There was jazz on the stereo and a TV high in one corner,
      showing CNN close-captioned. Only a handful of other patrons were
      holed up in the shop that afternoon, so it didn't take her long to
      spot the guy at the back table with flowers waiting in front of a
      vacant stool.

      She recognized me, paper or no paper. I doubt it was hard. I
      watched her rock back on her heels and pull in her chin, consider
      whether or not she was going to accept my peculiar invitation. I
      laid down the paper, crossed my arms on the table top, and grinned --
      the Trademark Summers' Smile. As lethal as cyanide but twice as
      sweet �- so Marie had dubbed it. I'd never been ignorant of what it
      got me with the opposite sex. I'd figured that much out by the time
      I was four years old, and I wasn't above using it when the situation
      was desperate.

      She approached me to dump glass beads and truffles on the table in a
      shower of sound, then seat herself across from me. "Okay, Scott, you
      get points for creativity �- I'll give you that. Was there something
      you wanted?"

      "To talk. To apologize. We . . . ended it badly last time."

      "You're a grand-master of understatement."

      So. She wasn't going to make it easy for me, even while she wouldn't
      flounce out like an offended diva �- and I was struck by just how
      different that was from the Drama of Rogue. God, I did love Marie,
      but she'd had a rare talent for getting on my nerves at least once a
      week. She'd wanted life cast in grand passions and heroic emotions .
      . . and that just wasn't me. At first, I'd found it charming.
      Later, I'd found it grating even as Marie had grown increasingly
      restless, needing more from me than I'd been willing to give. My
      life was complicated enough without adding the personal to it -�
      which was why these past weeks had set me on my ear. I'd never
      equated keeping my emotions on an even keel with a lack of passion,
      but I needed something less like a Greek tragic trilogy. I was a man
      for formulae and equations.

      And Jean was a scientist, too. She understood that.

      But just now, I had to get past the abysmal mess that I'd made of it
      last time. "Tact," I said now, "was never my strong suit. I was
      three kinds of ass the other day -� I jumped to conclusions that were
      more in line with something my teenaged students would come up with
      than anything adult and rational. I should have asked, not assumed.
      I apologize."

      She studied my face with frank brown eyes and almost unerringly
      caught my gaze behind red quartz. People rarely bothered to try, and
      for those who did, it took practice. But Jean had done it from the
      very first; it was more than telepathy. "I accept," she said
      finally, and turned her attention to the flowers, laid them out
      neatly in a line on the tabletop. "It's not your typical bouquet,
      Scott."

      "It's from 'The Secret Language of Flowers.'" I didn't think it wise
      to confess that I'd first stumbled over the book on Marie's shelves.
      Instead, I pointed to the Lily of the Valley and the fern. "These
      mean that I'm fascinated by your sweetness."

      The look she turned on me was pure amusement. "Flattery will get you
      everywhere, Mr. Summers."

      I ignored that and went on, touched the yellow iris. "This is for
      passion." And for some reason, I suddenly found myself blushing.
      I'd lost my virginity at the ripe old age of fifteen, and had lived
      with Marie for going on five years now, but here I was, blushing in
      front of this woman I barely knew like I was a schoolboy again.

      But she WAS a woman, not a girl. And I suddenly felt very silly for
      the flowers. Christ. Jean had a freakin' Ph.D. in addition to the
      M.D, with six papers in print in respected journals such as JAMA or
      THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. She was even first author on
      one of them . . . and she was only thirty-two years old. I was just
      a high school math teacher who dressed up in black leather on
      weekends and pretended to be a superhero with machine-engine grease
      under his fingernails.

      Maybe I should just get out of here before I made an even bigger ass
      of myself.

      Either she'd been half-following my thoughts, or the tensing of my
      muscles gave me away. Her hand went out to cover mine. "Don't you
      dare bolt again after luring me down here with truffles, Scott
      Summers."

      But I could barely concentrate on her words. Her touch had sent an
      electric shock all under my skin and I had to close my eyes just to
      keep my breathing even. Everything that had been missing with Marie
      a few nights ago . . . . This was where it had gone to hide. I'd
      been waiting for Jean to touch me again, like she had in the cabin.

      Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. I'd never been a monk, but
      I had always been serially monogamous, only ever interested in one
      woman at a time. It was like a goddamn compass below the belt, and
      right now, the arrow was aimed straight at Jean.

      And Christ, could she pick *that* up? Don't mind me, ma'am; the
      little cyclops in my pants is just acting like an idiot.

      "And what do the roses mean?" she asked softly now.

      My eyes snapped open again and I wet my lips so I could speak. She
      watched my mouth �- it was involuntary, I think. "Unity," I managed
      after a moment. "White and red roses stand for unity." Reaching
      out, I picked them up to hand them to her, so she could add them to
      the rest.

      "No thorns," she noted. "Thanks."

      "Roses without thorns mean I'm no longer afraid." I blurted it out
      before I could lose my nerve. Her dark eyes had gone wide. "I'm not
      afraid of this. Of us. Of whatever it is we have."

      Not afraid my ass. I was utterly terrified -� and this was why Marie
      would never be the right one for me. She didn't terrify me this way,
      didn't evoke that kind of emotion. Safe, safe, plastic-knife safe.
      But just sitting at this table with Jean Grey was like handling a
      katana. All about *risk*. She could cut me fatally with a single
      word, and she knew it.

      But she didn't cut me. She just smiled soft and ran her fingers
      along the rose stems. "I can tell you all about DNA helixes, but I
      never did learn the language of flowers." She bent to smell the
      roses, and the lily of the valley. "They are beautiful. Thank you,
      Scott."

      "You're welcome. Can I buy you some coffee?"

      Glancing over at the two girls behind the counter, she said, "Well,
      it is a coffee shop. I suppose we should give them some business. I
      wouldn't mind some Chai."

      So I got up to fetch Chai for her and a cappuccino for me, and
      watched the TV idly while I waited. It gave me a moment to catch my
      breath and rearrange my thoughts. And what the hell did I really
      want to say to her, anyway? I think I'm in love with you, will you
      move in with me and let me fuck your brains out?

      *That* would go over splendidly. I'd probably get myself slapped.
      And I'd deserve it.

      After a moment, what was actually occurring on the local news
      penetrated my sex-preoccupied brain. An explosion in a warehouse
      somewhere. Looked nasty. Probably arson. I hoped it wasn't mutant
      related, but there was really no reason to assume it would be. New
      York hardly lacked for violent crime.

      The Chai and coffee was ready, so I took it back to the table. Jean
      had used the wait much like I had, lining up blue beads and truffles
      on the table like the thoughts in her head. We both started in at
      once. "Jean, I'm not sure what this is we have, but -� " "Scott, I
      meant to leave again with Logan, but -� "

      Laughing, we broke off. She drank tea. I watched. God, I envied
      even a coffee cup, wanting her mouth on my lips instead.

      Get a grip, Summers.

      "What are you staring at?" she asked me.

      "You."

      Red tinged her ears and neck. "You know, I am almost four years
      older than you."

      "Not old enough to be my mother, then. And don't women usually
      outlive men by about ten years?"

      The red was fading from her skin. "It wouldn't bother you � dating
      an older woman?"

      "Should it?" But I was acting a good deal more cavalier than I felt,
      and I suspected that she �- telepath that she was -- knew it. So I
      just frowned and traced a bit of spilled foam milk on the table top,
      and 'fessed up. "It bothers me a lot more that you're educated right
      out of most gainful employment while I'm still trying to finish a
      masters before I lose my New York teaching certificate."

      "You need a masters for that?"

      "To teach high school for more than five years in the public schools,
      yeah. Private schools have more leeway, but Xavier does try to run a
      tight ship. It wouldn't look good if his sub-headmaster didn't
      fulfill state requirements for even public schools."

      "You're the sub-headmaster? But I guess I should have figured that
      out."

      Half laughing, I slipped my fingers up under my glasses and rubbed at
      my eyes. I could feel one of my headaches starting. "Christ. How
      did we get on the subject of my certification?"

      Dipping her head, she smiled. "You were worried about my penchant
      for collecting degrees. But Scott, haven't you heard the old joke?
      What does a B.S. stand for?"

      I was thrown. "A Bachelor of Science?"

      She was laughing at me. "Don't be so literal. A B.S. stands for
      'bull shit.'"

      I started to smile. She went on, "An M.S. means 'more of the same,'
      and a Ph.D. means 'piled hirer and deeper.' You had the right of it,
      you know. I'm educated out of most normal jobs, and out of a lot of
      normal life. I can run a scanning electron microscope or put a trach
      in a choking ER patient. But I can't run a sewing machine or cook a
      pot of rice."

      "I can cook rice . . . but I wouldn't go much further than that."

      "So we'll make a pact. I won't force you to eat my cooking and you
      won't force me to eat yours." She held out her pinky. A little
      bemused, I hooked mine through it �- and as before, there was that
      *electricity*, but it felt more manageable this time, maybe because
      it wasn't unexpected. "Deal?" she asked.

      "Deal," I replied, biting back a stupid little laugh because here we
      were making a pact about cooking before we'd even had a first date.
      We'd just leap-frogged right over the usual exchange: 'Jean, will you
      go out to dinner and a movie with me?' 'Yes, Scott, I'd love to.'

      Maybe I should ask her to move in with me after all.

      We still had pinkies locked, and were grinning at each other, when my
      cell phone rang. I pulled it out and flipped it open. I'd freed my
      pinkie but only to move my hand into hers, or hers into mind,
      depending on one's perspective. Our fingers laced. "This is Scott
      Summers," I said into the phone.

      "Scott -� Scott, where are you?"

      "Warren? I'm in the coffee shop near your apartment. Why?"

      "Can you -� Um . . . I need you, man. I -� " A pause, a strange
      sound, like choking.

      I sat up, started to pull my hand free but Jean didn't let me go. He
      grip was strong. "Warren. Talk to me. Where are you? Are you
      okay?"

      "Can you get down to St Mary's Hospital? There's been �- God.
      Just . . . can you get down here?"

      I was already on my feet and reaching for my jacket. So was Jean,
      moving just as fast as I was. She didn't question, didn't demand
      instant details that I didn't have. She'd switched to all business
      -� Dr. Jean Grey -� with the same calm focus that she'd shown at the
      Statue. "We're on our way, Warren."

      ----

      I'm passing the baton to Shana....

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