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HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace (2a/10) (ensemble)

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  • Minisinoo
    First, I m not really sure why part 1b shippped out twice. It s exactly the same. My apologies. Now, on with the show.... ... HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace 2
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2001
      First, I'm not really sure why part 1b shippped out twice. It's
      exactly the same. My apologies. Now, on with the show....

      ------

      HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace 2
      Minisinoo
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/heyoka2.html


      Notes: Regarding my interpretation of telepathy: common wisdom
      assumes that a telepath would be privy to emotions as well as
      thoughts. Fair enough perhaps, but there are other possibilities and
      I decided to use a narrower definition for my purposes here. Also,
      while I'm well aware that if one wears sunglasses of a particular
      color for long enough the vision will compensate, that assumes
      Scott's power doesn't modify his sight. I'm not sure it wouldn't, so
      in this tale, it does. The lyrics referred to are from the album,
      "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."

      -------

      Scott Summers, sometime jet pilot, military strategist, math teacher,
      motorbike daredevil, and current computer repairman, had more
      pressing things -� more *global* things -� to concern himself with
      than the mentally-overheard snap judgements of a woman he had known
      for less than fifteen minutes. He wouldn't even have been aware of
      what was going on in her head had Jean not caught him up in that damn
      investigative mental snooping. Jean linked him in sometimes without
      asking him first. She was trying to be generous, but frankly, he
      preferred his own quiet skull, didn't necessarily *want* to eavesdrop
      on other's random mental images. Most of the time, they were inane.
      And when they weren't, they could be embarrassing.

      The leggy older woman who he'd sweated over with his hand at night
      when eighteen. And nineteen. And twenty. And . . . .

      He was supremely irritated with Grace Kills-his-Horse, but *angry*
      only at himself. She'd just laid open what she'd found in his own
      mind at that particular moment.

      No, not in his mind. Wrong head. What she'd found resided due south
      of his navel. But how was it wrong for a man to desire his own
      fiancee, especially one who looked like Jean? He'd be abnormal if he
      didn't. Trouble was, it *embarrassed* him to be normal. He'd never
      been normal, even before the mutation had manifested. Maybe mutants
      were marked out from birth with wacky psychology.

      His grip on the screwdriver slipped and the philips-head scraped
      across the black-glaze case of the Blackbird's navigational computer.
      Nails-on-chalkboard noise. "Damn. Sorry."

      The professor didn't respond. Probably not a good sign. Summers could
      feel an analysis coming.

      As if on cue, Xavier said, "What goes on in people's heads isn't
      necessarily any more insightful than what comes out of their mouths,
      Scott. Just less politic."

      "I know that. I've lived with both of you for eight years."

      He felt, rather than saw, the professor's smile. "Grace was a bit
      blunt this afternoon."

      "You could say that. She was wrong, too."

      "She's not the only one who's occasionally blunt. Or wrong."

      "I know what not to say, dammit!"

      "Nor did she say it."

      True. And Summers didn't respond for a moment. He had out the screws
      holding the cover in place, slipped them into a ziplock bag for
      safety and set them aside. Replacement screws for SAC jet fighters
      couldn't be found at the local Ace Hardware. "She may as well have
      said it. We all heard what she was thinking."

      The professor's lips twitched. "Yes, but she didn't intend for you
      to. Jean was broadcasting rather loudly; we'll have to work on that
      at our next lesson. Ororo may even have heard it, up in the danger
      room."

      "Christ." Summers unhooked the case and set it aside, turned his body
      so that he could slip in under the cockpit.

      "As I said, Grace didn't realize that Jean was broadcasting, or even
      that Jean could hear those particular thoughts." The professor had
      propped one flashlight on his knee while Summers fixed two more,
      snake-necked, to light up either side of the now-open navigational
      computer. For this kind of work, he needed more light than a normal
      man since his gift doomed him to life in dim perpetual red.

      "Maybe not," he said now, slipping the motherboard free. "But that
      doesn't mean I appreciate being lumped in with hormone-crazed
      teenagers."

      "And how far off would it be?" The tone was teasing.

      Summers stopped to glare though he knew the professor couldn't see
      it. Xavier could feel it. "At twenty-five, I think I'm a little past
      that."

      "Sometimes I wonder if you ever let yourself live through it to begin
      with."

      Summers didn't reply. Sex wasn't something he wanted to discuss with
      Professor Xavier, even to be teased gently. He remembered a line he'd
      read once in a book: 'Sex and sleep remind me I'm mortal.'
      Supposedly, Alexander the Great had said that. Summers understood.
      Self-mastery was the greatest conquest of all. At least Jean knew
      what he wanted and how he wanted it, even how often. He didn't have
      to talk. A hand on her hip, his face pushed into her soft hair . . .
      .

      Stop. Steely dan was making a lump in his pants.

      He took a breath and returned his attention to fried motherboard. Ah
      � the glory of integrated circuitry. "Shit," he muttered to no one in
      particular. "I need some butter and maple syrup."

      "Why is that?" An edge of anticipation in the voice above him.

      "Because this whole friggin' thing is toast."

      "Ah, Scott. What would the students say if they heard the leader of
      the X-Men resorting to scatalogical language and bad puns?"

      "They might decide I was human after all."

      "Your sense of humor is your best-kept secret."

      "I have a sense of humor? I thought school legend said mine had been
      amputated at birth."

      He won a real laugh that time, and smiled to himself where the
      cockpit dashboard concealed it. "By the way, tell Ororo that next
      time she calls up a storm and fries my navigational unit with a bolt
      of her lightening, she gets to fix it. I flew back by the seat of my
      pants."




      Life with Charles Xavier negated a need for cell phones or beepers,
      at least around the mansion. Summers was coaching basketball late in
      the gym when the professor's familiar voice in his head summoned him
      to the med lab. He should have taken time to shower �- he smelled
      like a horse run hard and put away wet -� but Xavier hadn't given him
      time. When he showed up in the downstairs lab, he had sweat rings
      under his armpits and a dark stripe down the middle of his back. His
      hair was a mess. Jean gave him an appreciative-but-inquisitive
      glance. She liked him sweaty. "Basketball," he said by way of
      explanation as he leaned up against a far wall.

      "Did you let Warren use his wings?"

      "Absolutely not."

      From the room's center, the professor tsked lightly, smiling. "It
      might be more interesting to let him. Let each of them utilize their
      powers."

      "Interesting, but not exactly fair. Some of them have gifts the
      others can't match, at least on a ball court."

      "Ah -- but dear boy, do you think any of them could stand up to
      Michael Jordan, powers or no?"

      "Michael Jordan? He's a professional ballplayer and very -- " He cut
      off. The professor was watching him, smiling slightly, letting him
      complete the sentence in his head, where Xavier could hear it just as
      well *-- gifted.*

      "But Michael Jordan doesn't play alone," Scott added after a moment.

      "Exactly. He has a team to support him. And the X-Men don't fight
      alone, either, do they?"

      All of a sudden, he laughed. The professor was always doing this to
      him: backing him into a corner until he saw the absurdity of his own
      position for himself. If Xavier had simply told him he was wrong,
      he'd have been too angry to listen to why: his stubborn streak. It
      had put he and his father, or he and his teachers, at odds more times
      than he cared to count. Only Xavier hadn't been threatened, had
      chosen to lead him instead of forcing him, explained, not insisted.
      Scott had once overheard the professor tell someone, "Order him to do
      something and he balks worse than a mule. Ask him to help you and
      he'll bend over backwards and put himself out ten times over." He'd
      been more flattered than insulted.

      "Touche," was all he said now. The professor's smile widened.

      Their newcomer had been sitting on the lab's single couch, head back,
      clearly exhausted and apparently ignoring everything. A dark
      sweatshirt had been draped over her torso like a blanket. Storm had
      already gone to bed. It was almost nine in the evening and they'd
      taken a red-eye the night before. But now, Grace raised her head to
      stare at him. "One of your students has *wings*? With feathers, or
      like a bat?"

      "Feathers." He gestured vaguely over his shoulder. "They grow from
      his back. At full stretch, they reach about sixteen feet."

      "White?"

      Something tipped him off. Her tone maybe. He felt himself grin.
      "White as Gabriel's. And blond hair, too."

      She burst out laughing. "No angels in the outfield, but angels on the
      ball court! And they say white men can't jump."

      "It's not considered polite to laugh over another person's mutation,"
      Jean snapped.

      Grace shook her head and the motion ignited highlights in hair that
      lacked the sheen he'd have expected of blue-black. It must be a deep
      brown. Over the years, he'd learned how to interpret colors from the
      red-black-grey he habitually saw, but he didn't always get it right.
      "There's a huge difference between laughing at someone and laughing
      at irony," Grace said. "But you want to talk about my mutation, not
      your Gabriel's, so go ahead."

      Rising, Jean switched on the light boxes along one wall, snicked up
      CATs of Grace's brain, EKG reports, and other medical transparencies,
      began spouting medicalese until Scott's eyes crossed. The professor
      was following her as usual, but finally, a bit frustrated, he raised
      a hand. "Jean -- simpler, please. What can she do, and what can she
      not do?"

      "Well, as we knew, she has a similar ability to what we saw in Logan,
      if not as dramatic. He could regenerate himself. She regenerates
      others."

      "How bad? I mean, how bad can the injury be -- "

      "I can't bring back the dead."

      That from Grace, not Jean. Her voice was flat. This wasn't a joke.
      She didn't seem inclined to elaborate and he opened his mouth to
      press but the professor interrupted him. "What of the empathy?" It
      took Scott by surprise. He'd have expected the professor would want
      to know all about her regenerative capacity. It was an incredible
      gift, one they'd never seen until that damnable Logan had showed up
      with it.

      But Jean accepted the redirection. "Telepathy and empathy are two
      sides of the same coin. I'm looking at one side, Grace sees the
      other. You" -- she glanced at the professor -- "see both."

      "Not quite" he replied. "I see a lot of one and a little of the
      other."

      Jean accepted the correction, glanced at Scott. "Telepaths see only
      mental images." He nodded; he knew how her telepathy worked, but
      maybe Grace didn't. "I can't feel emotions directly. I figure them
      out because I know what emotion a particular thought or experience
      would generate, or because I can sense the mental interpretation."

      "What you feel and what you *think* you feel aren't always the same
      thing," Grace warned.

      Jean glanced at her -- a hard look. "We're not a bunch of impulses,
      Ms. Kills-his-Horse. I, at least, am a rational woman. My mind
      interprets -- and controls -- physical impulses. Elementary
      biological psychology. Our 'emotions' are simply biochemical
      reactions, and the same reaction will be induced whether a situation
      is exciting or frightening. Our *minds* interpret that situation,
      tell us whether to embrace it or to flee. Without the capacity to
      reason we would be little better than animals."

      Scott had never heard Jean use that tone before, certainly not to
      another mutant: downright patronizing. Grace's jaw had hardened and
      the two women glared at one another for a moment.

      Good God. What had happened in the lab after he'd fled? Grace may
      have embarrassed them, but after his talk with the professor and his
      workout on the ball court, any irritation Summers had felt was
      drained away. He wasn't angry any more, even at himself. Jean knew
      what he felt; she was the one who mattered. Grace Kills-his-Horse
      would understand when she knew them better. This was not like his
      Jean at all.

      Now, Grace was speaking. "I call the animals my relatives, Dr. Grey.
      You could learn a lot from them, if you looked up from your
      microscope long enough to see the world. But I think you are afraid
      to. I think the animal inside you, inside others, terrifies you
      because it fascinates you."

      Jean's face had gone white and Scott had to look away to conceal the
      rush of strong emotion blasting through him. Not that such a gesture
      would do any good, with an empath.

      *The animal which fascinates . . . .*

      Grace couldn't know. She couldn't possibly know. She hadn't met Logan
      or witnessed Jean's reactions to him.

      If Grace was aware of the whirlwind her words had raised, it didn't
      stop her now. "People can deny what they feel, suppress it,
      misunderstand it. The more rational you think you are, the more you
      are kidding yourself. You can't even find a word in my language that
      means 'objective.' My people know that it don't exist. You are not
      your mind, Dr. Grey. You're your whole self: body and spirit. But I
      doubt you believe in spirits, either, ain't it?"

      "Ladies," the professor interrupted, clearly irritated, "we can
      debate philosophic worldviews later. May we return to the matter at
      hand?"

      Jean and Grace held their glare a moment more before Jean returned to
      her transparencies. It gave Summers a good look at how his pissing
      contest with Logan must have appeared, a few months earlier. He
      didn't like the revelation. He didn't like this side of Jean, either.
      She was usually the one reigning him in, the kind-hearted one.

      "Ms. Kills-his-Horse's empathy is directly connected to her ability
      to heal." Jean said now. "Not only can she sense biochemical
      reactions in a human body � what we call emotions � but she can
      manipulate those biochemical reactions, up to and including rapid
      cell re-growth. Hence, her healing talent."

      Sudden revelation pierced Summers; he glanced at Grace. "If you can
      manipulate biochemistry, you can make another person feel something
      they weren't? Not simply know what they do feel? You could impose
      fear or confusion or anxiety in an enemy?"

      She blinked as if the thought had never occurred to her. "I guess. I
      never have. It ain't right."

      The simplicity of that reply kicked Summers right out of his
      strategical planning mode, but Jean wasn't so easily deterred.
      "Sometimes we must do what wouldn't be ethical in a more perfect
      world, in order to secure a more perfect world," she said, but it was
      calm, not cold. She sounded more like herself.

      Grace snorted anyway. "The ends justify the means?"

      "Not entirely," the professor replied, coming to Jean's rescue.
      "'Means are ends in the making.'"

      "Mohandas Gandhi." Summers said. The professor had it etched on a
      plaque hanging on his office wall. "*Sarvodaya* -� the welfare of
      all. But Gandhi also said, 'Where there is only a choice between
      cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.'"

      Xavier smiled faintly and nodded to him. "Force should never be the
      first choice, but sometimes, it is necessary if the alternative is a
      greater evil. Not admirable, nor excusable, but necessary."

      Grace had tilted her head sideways, like a bird of prey. "I won't
      argue with that. After all, we fought you when you gave us no choice.
      You were killing us."

      For a moment, Scott had absolutely no idea to what she referred. When
      he thought 'us' and 'them,' he thought mutants versus normal humans.
      His confusion must have shown despite the visor, or perhaps she could
      feel it. "The Little Big Horn," she elaborated. "Or Saint Claire's
      Defeat. Or Osceola in the Everglades. Or Cochise and Geronimo. Or
      even Alcatraz in '69 and Wounded Knee in '73. We kicked your
      collective white ass every time we weren't outgunned, like the Red
      River War. Or betrayed by allies, like Tecumseh. Or given a kangaroo
      trial, like Leonard Peltier. I have no problem with fighting back. I
      do have a problem with broken treaties and white man lies and stolen
      land. Poverty that kills our children and gives our men nothing
      better to do than drink themselves into a stupor or knife each other
      in the back after pow-wows."

      Rising, she stalked out. The slamming door reverberated into silence.

      "Where in hell did *that* come from?" Scott muttered.

      "Now you see what I've had to put up with all day," Jean replied,
      taking down transparencies and slapping them on a table. "She's here
      because we paid her to come. She made that very clear to me. She has
      absolutely no concern with the welfare of other mutants. She doesn't
      consider herself to be one of us."

      The professor had held up a hand. "Jean. Did you give Grace a
      complete physical?"

      She glanced around, surprised. "Yes, of course."

      "So if you were to give a report for a clinical pathology conference,
      how would you describe Grace?"

      Scott had absolutely no idea where this was going, and neither
      apparently did Jean. "A Native American female," she said, "age
      twenty-three, presenting with slight diabetes controlled by diet, ten
      miligrams of Glucotrol XL and twenty of Glucophage, a hairline
      fracture to the left arm and two to the right, now healed, some
      pelvic expansion showing parturition before full adulthood had been
      reached -- "

      "And where is the child of that parturition?" the professor
      interrupted.

      "I have no idea, I -- "

      She stopped, looked at Scott.

      *I can't bring back the dead*, the professor echoed Grace's words in
      their minds. "How would it feel to watch your daughter die in your
      arms because your family couldn't afford a phone and couldn't afford
      a car, and you lived two miles from the nearest person who had either
      one? And your gift wasn't quite strong *enough*? Grace was
      seventeen."

      "We didn't cause that," Jean said, but the words weren't harsh.

      "Didn't we? Not the lack of sufficient power to heal -- but the
      poverty and the rural isolation? Oh, yes, Jean, we did cause that.
      Little pink squares on a map, more commonly known as reservations."

      Jean's back had snapped straight. "I don't believe in collective
      guilt, professor. If I did, I'd hold every unmutated human
      responsible for what happened to me, to Scott, to Ororo, to Logan, to
      you . . . ."

      He held up a hand to stop her tirade. "I know. But you feel anger for
      it, do you not?"

      "Yes, of course -- "

      "So does she." Xavier sighed. "Despite her words, she doesn't see us
      as her enemy. But it may take some time before she trusts us, and I
      promise you she never will unless we make an effort to understand her
      *and* her anger -- however uncomfortable it may make us. There is
      more to Grace Kills-his-Horse than anger, a good deal more. I'll go
      talk to her." And he wheeled out.

      Jean sighed, too, ran a hand through her hair and spoke to Summers.
      "I know what you're thinking."

      "Do you?"

      His words came out harsher than he'd intended and she blinked,
      started to reach out towards his temple but he pulled back. She let
      the hand fall; they stared at one another a minute and then she left,
      too. He didn't try to stop her. He was too conflicted to deal with
      Jean just now. He stayed a while, sifted through the transparencies
      discarded on a table, more for something to do with his hands than
      because he could make any sense of them. He couldn't have begun to
      say what he was feeling. Anger, certainly. He was very tired of being
      both white and male and catching shit for it. He hadn't asked to be
      born either one. Or handsome, either. He tried not to be a vain man,
      but he'd been a vain teen. He knew what he looked like. His vision
      worked perfectly, if one didn't account for a distinct lack of color
      differentiation.

      Yet none of that altered the fact he was a mutant. He supposed it was
      a bit like being gay. He could make his mutation obvious if he
      wanted, but most of the time in his sunglasses, he passed. And if he
      chose to pass, he enjoyed all the privileges of being white, male,
      and handsome, whether or not he'd asked for it. It put him in a
      strange position. Social hypocrisies were more evident. But that
      didn't mean he liked being a minority group's punching bag just
      because his secret made him more willing to listen. He had a few
      punches against the larger society that he'd like to throw himself.

      He wasn't sure how long he'd been there when the door opened behind
      him. He jumped, spun. Grace Kills-his-Horse seemed equally startled
      to find him; she must have assumed the room safely deserted. "I left
      my sweatshirt," she explained, gestured vaguely towards the sofa. The
      dark shirt still lay there; he hadn't even noticed. She fetched it,
      headed for the door, stopped with her back to him. "I shouldn't have
      snapped at you earlier. I'm sorry."

      "Did Professor Xavier ask you to apologize?"

      "No." She glared over her shoulder. "I was taught it was polite."

      Glancing down, he waved a hand like a flag of truce. "I'm sorry. I'm
      just -- "

      "Angry."

      He smiled tightly. "No. Frustrated."

      Her chin came up and she turned. "Angry is part of frustrated."

      "Fair enough."

      "You're feeling guilty, too."

      "Yes." Little point in trying to lie to her.

      She just nodded, turned back to the door but didn't open it. "She
      don't bring out the best in me, your Dr. Grey. I know she is your
      lover -- "

      "Fianc�e."

      "Being one don't cancel out the other."

      "No." But it did put a different spin on the relationship.

      "She gets my back up. I'm sorry about that, too."

      He wasn't sure how to respond. Tonight, Jean had annoyed him, as
      well. He shifted a little, a nervous gesture and was sure she could
      read it as such. "I've known a few people who did the same to me." He
      thought of Logan. "Others may like them. I can't."

      But could he honestly say that he disliked Logan? When push had come
      to shove, the man had stood by them, played with the team, almost
      given his life to save a girl he hadn't known the week before. Scott
      could forgive much for that. Once they'd gotten past the issue of
      mutual respect, he'd even found that having Logan around provided
      someone to joke with, however black the humor they shared. Jean
      didn't give him that. She had passion and sweetness, and he loved to
      make her smile, but they didn't laugh together much. Other things
      bound them.

      "Do I get your back up, too?" he asked Grace now, curious.

      She turned, smiled at him. Luminescent. She wasn't a beautiful woman
      -- no match for either Jean or Ororo -- but her smile was
      luminescent. Pretty hair, pretty smile. "No, you don't."

      "Why not? I'd think you'd like me even less."

      She just shook her head. "You know how to laugh at yourself. And you
      feel guilt. You can feel guilt." She opened the door. "Good night,
      Scott-Summers-called-Cyclops." And she left.

      Jean was in bed asleep by the time he got back to their room. He
      should wake her and ask what had happened that afternoon, apologize
      for shutting her out earlier -- it had been cruel -- but he just sat
      down on his side of the bed and kicked off his shoes, stripped and
      donned his sleep shirt. New York Knicks in blue and orange on white.
      Or to his eye, black and darker red on bright red. There was a stain
      on the belly where he'd spilt coffee and never been able to get it
      out, and there were holes under both arms, another near the collar.
      Jean teased him about that shirt, threatened to burn it or at least
      put it through the office paper shredder, but never did.

      He slipped under the covers and glanced over at her. If she wasn't
      asleep, she was faking it well. He turned off the light and closed
      his eyes, exchanged his glasses for the band he wore around his eyes
      at night -- a reminder to keep his lids closed if he was startled
      awake. Jean had sewn it for him, put sharp-scented flax seed in the
      part that covered his eyes. It helped. Discomfort had been his
      constant companion since seventeen, a low-grade ache like a mouthsore
      or back pain. He'd become used to it, didn't think much about it any
      more. But the flax helped, felt cool and heavy.

      Beside him, Jean rolled away, tugged the blankets up to her chin. She
      hated to sleep uncovered, would pile everything from their closet on
      the bed during the winter. It drove him nuts. Then there was her
      tendency to leave her shoes by the door where he'd trip over them, or
      dump clothes on the desk chair if they weren't dirty enough to wash,
      but too dirty to put back in the closet. He had to clear them off
      before he could sit down, not to mention that it made the room look
      messy. Sometimes she left lights on, and forgot to turn the shower
      knob back to the bath faucet when she was done at night so that when
      he started water in the morning, it hit him in the head. Of course he
      was getting in the shower anyway, but that got his glasses wet.
      Unlike most people who wore glasses, he couldn't open his eyes to see
      what he was doing when he cleaned them off.

      *And you have no bad habits?*, he asked himself. This was why he
      didn't want to talk it out when he was angry. He needed time to get
      his temper under control, time to remember that whatever Jean had
      done to piss him off, he was sure she could name plenty in turn about
      him. That was the nature of love. Mutual admiration, yes. But mutual
      putting-up-with, too. She put up with a lot.

      She turned again, or flopped really, back towards him. He found her
      shoulder by feel, gathered her against him. She snuggled down but
      didn't really wake; he didn't mind. It was better just to hold her
      right now. Apology by body contact. "Good-night, hon," he whispered,
      kissed her hair.

      ----

      Continued directly in part 2b/10....


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