Continuing direction from part 1a/10....
An hour later, their tour ended at an elevator tastefully concealed
behind wood wainscoting. Proudstar had been checking his watch
throughout, hurrying her along. He'd been here too long if he lived
by the damn clock. "It's time for your appointment with Dr. Grey," he
said now. "Somebody will come to take you to her. I'm due in history
class." He headed off, waved absently behind him. "Later, Sioux
She waved back. "Later, Geronimo-Rides-Again."
"Geronimo-Rides-Again?" said a voice behind, thick with amusement and
a British accent.
She spun, found herself looking down at the professor in his
wheelchair. "I didn't hear you."
"You mean you didn't *feel* me. That must be an odd experience for
Professor Xavier smiled at her. A young man was with him, stood a
little behind, assurance in his posture, if not quite arrogance. He
wore a grey turtleneck under a navy button-down, loafers, chinos --
very preppy -- and a pair of reflective sunglasses like a film star
attempting incognito. He certainly had the looks for it, all sleek
dark hair and strong-jaw with sculpted cheekbones and flawless skin.
Was it a requirement for mutants to be above average in looks? If so,
she failed on that qualification. He was watching her curiously -- or
so she interpreted it. With his eyes covered, she couldn't read his
expression, and with the professor present, she couldn't sense him,
either. Xavier was a wall. "Shall we go?" the professor asked. "The
doctor is waiting for you."
At a nod from Xavier, the young man touched a panel in the wall and
it parted, admitting them to the elevator which in turn deposited
them in a long corridor, illumined blue-white up each side like
something out of Star Wars. Gracie followed a pace behind Xavier; the
young man matched her on the left. "Forgive me, I should have
introduced you," Xavier said. "Grace, this is Scott Summers, a
teacher here and my assistant."
Ah. Mr. Impatient himself. But he didn't walk like he had an iron bar
shoved up his ass.
"Scott," the professor continued, "meet Grace Kills-his-Horse, late
of Upper Cut Meat, South Dakota."
Summers' lips had twitched. "Upper Cut Meat -- ?"
"-- is a town. More or less. If you sneeze, you'll miss it."
"Is there a Lower Cut Meat, too?"
His response startled a laugh out of her, more because it was
unexpected than because it was funny. They'd reached the far door and
stopped, stood a moment just grinning at each other. "Scott?" the
professor said. Summers jumped slightly, like a schoolboy caught
daydreaming, then reached out to trigger the lock. Metal X doors
parted to reveal an examination room decorated in institutional
steel; a tall woman with auburn hair pursued busy-work as people will
when waiting. "Jean -- our newest guest," Xavier said. "This is
Grace Kills-his-Horse. Grace, Dr. Jean Grey, our physician and
genetic research specialist. She's also a telepath, like me."
"Not so powerful, though," the woman said, looking up to smile. Ororo
had been delicate and striking, Proudstar handsome in the way of
budding young men, and Summers, well -- If he ever got tired of his
day job, he could probably find work as a Chippendale's dancer. This
woman had a different quality altogether. Beauty certainly. But
something older, sharper, more clever . . . .
Gracie moved away from Dr. Xavier. Instinct rather than deliberate
choice. Like a child who smells something she can't quite place and
would follow the scent to its source. Out of the chair-bound
professor's immediate sphere and concentrating as she was, her senses
flared up strong as burning sage. A swirl of impressions from the
other woman washed over Gracie; she picked them apart seeking the one
thread that interested her.
*Wildness.* White-grey wildness, like a coyote's coat, like the
woman's own name. That was what Gracie had sensed in her. Not
cruelty, or passion, or even arrogance. Nothing so simple. Under that
polished, educated exterior and despite the lab coat and fancy
equipment all around her, Jean Grey was not a tame thing. She longed
to run free even as she longed for safety and concealment. Coyote
lived by her wits and her caution. A wise person didn't trust her.
She would turn and bite if threatened. Or flee and never look back.
Jean Grey stared at Gracie for two seconds, then sucked in started
breath. "An empath?"
Behind Gracie, Xavier chuckled. "Indeed. An empath and healer both.
She can do for others what Logan does for himself."
"We don't know. That's your job, my dear."
From Xavier's other side, Summers was measuring her. His humor had
shifted into an expression that seemed to say, How can I use you? But
still in the shadow of the telepathic professor, she could get no
real feeling for him: his impulses, his fears, his motivations. She
hadn't realized how much she relied on her extra sense to understand
people. The professor couldn't be read unless he permitted it, as he
had permitted it at their first meeting that morning. But she had
seen enough then that she trusted him now implicitly. Just as she was
leery of Grey. Summers, she simply couldn't judge, and that
*bothered* her. Instincts and experience told her to doubt attractive
men. They were too accustomed to having people give them things they
hadn't earned. But there had been that moment of communion in the
corridor, a communion which -- for once in her life -- hadn't
depended on her own ability to pick up another's mood and reflect it
back at him. They had simply taken an accidental step in unison, the
sort of thing that happened to normal people all the time without any
assistance from mutated senses.
"Will you permit the doctor to give you a physical, Grace? I know
that you were raised in a traditional manner."
It was the professor. She glanced back at him. "We're a practical
people, Tunkashila, and we live in the modern world. I drive a Honda,
not a horse, and I heat soup on the stove only because I don't own a
microwave. But thank you for thinking to ask." She walked over to hop
up on an exam table. "Prod all you want, doctor."
Grey had glanced around to focus a smile on Summers as he approached
and propped himself against an empty exam table, hip shot towards
her. Gracie needed no extra senses to interpret that posture. The
good doctor and the professor's prot�g� were lovers. Old lovers, too,
though Grey must be near ten years his senior. They shared that sense
of oneness without touching which came from a long time of sleeping
butt to butt. They didn't need to touch any more.
Grace focused on him. Now out of the professor's blocking shadow,
Summers radiated as clear as the heat of the season whose name he
bore, and she probed him with impunity. He knew she was doing it --
met her eyes calmly and let her. Maybe this was the first part of her
Her knowledge of people had always come to her in colors. Scott
Summers was brown and blue, pink and rust and deep violet. Calm
colors, mesa cliff colors. Responsibility and dignity and underneath,
a kindheartedness half afraid of itself. Unexpected shyness, an
impish sense of humor that he seemed to think inappropriate most of
the time. But above all, he possessed centeredness. The circle
center. All directions radiated out from him. *Inyan*: the rock on
which the professor had built his house. Every wolf in the world
could huff and puff and not blow that house down.
Gracie understood the May-September romance then. Summers was
everything Grey felt safe with. Pure power of potential leadership,
steady, dependable, if not always exciting. And his attraction to
her? She was every teenage boy's fantasy come to life -- the smart,
leggy older woman who he'd sweated over with his hand at night when
eighteen. By twenty-two, back from college and filled out in shoulder
and chest, he hadn't needed the hand anymore. She'd taken him to her
bed. Shouldn't that prove his manhood at last?
She slipped free of him, back into her own skin, and realized
abruptly that the room had gone very quiet. Summers' perfect
complexion was as red as his glasses and Grey had turned away, her
face stark. They'd been listening to her thoughts. For a moment
Gracie felt badly, then reconsidered. This was their exam; she'd just
Behind them, the professor cleared his throat. "Scott, Jean will do
fine without you hovering. We need to check the navigational computer
in the Blackbird. Jean can give us her report later." His glance
included Gracie. "You're invited of course, since it will concern
"So I'm not just the lab rat?"
"We don't keep lab rats here," Summers said, face still averted. He
fled in the professor's wake.
The doctor finally turned back when the men were gone. "Tact isn't
your strong point, is it?"
"I'm an Indian."
"Is that a reason or an excuse?"
"Your culture is not mine, white woman. I was taught to tell the
truth as I see it. If you don't want to hear it, don't ask."
"We didn't *ask*. You probed him and he let you. He doesn't usually;
he was being gracious. But you then interpreted what you thought you
saw there without knowing a damn thing about either of us. You can't
read his *thoughts*. Or mine. There's more going on here than
insecurity or testosterone-drunk lust."
A bit ashamed, Gracie didn't reply. The doctor was right. Tact wasn't
her strong point. But Grace was right, too, in what she'd seen -- and
Grey was on the run now like Coyote, twisting and snapping in panic.
Gracie understood that. It wasn't a blessing, to know others'
intimacies, either of thought or emotion. Grey had spoken of Summers'
graciousness, but it was easy to be gracious if one didn't live under
a constant battery of Otherness. "I didn't say there wasn't more,"
Gracie told her now.
Grey had turned away to work angrily at the protective plastic
covering on a needle. "We've been together almost three years and
were friends for a long time before that. Scott is . . . an amazing
man. Thoughtful, brave, kind, highly intelligent -- "
" -- impatient. Or so I hear."
"He has his faults. But compared to other men I've dated in my life,
he's a saint. What woman wouldn't love him?"
"What woman could love him until she stops heroizing him?"
Grey's eyes had narrowed. "Why, you have a *crush* on my fianc�."
It was the predictable sucker punch. Gracie smiled. "Not a crush, no.
But I do like him; he has a sense of humor -- something you left off
your list. I make up my mind very quickly about people, Dr. Grey.
Just like you do."
"I feel like I'm fighting a hydra. You have an answer for everything,
don't you?" Grey held up a syringe. "Please roll up your sleeve, Ms.
Kills-his-Horse; I need to take a blood sample. You've had quite
enough of my blood today already. My turn."
End Chapter 1, go on to Chapter 2 . . . .
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