SEVEN BLUE STONES
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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,
"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
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
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
"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,
"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.
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
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
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
"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....
Do You Yahoo!?
Make a great connection at Yahoo! Personals.