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HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace (3a/10) (ensemble)

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  • Minisinoo
    HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace 3 Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/heyoka3.html Notes: To forewarn the squeamish, there s blood in this one. And I
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 2001
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      HEYOKA: The Advent of Grace 3
      Minisinoo
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/heyoka3.html



      Notes: To forewarn the squeamish, there's blood in this one. And I
      refuse to employ bad spelling as a way to convey dialect in speech.
      It's impossible to read. There are better ways to get across Rogue's
      accent, or anyone else's for that matter.

      --------------

      For a week, Gracie played guinea pig to Jean Grey. A tense week. She
      wasn't sure what came after this. Home, probably; she missed her
      family. Xavier had said she could call whenever she liked and she
      did, every night. Her elder sister's place had a phone. She told
      Charlene all about the school -- Professor Xavier, Ororo, Jean Grey .
      . . Scott. She hadn't seen Scott Summers much after that first
      morning, but whenever she did, he always had a smile for her, a brief
      exchange, some joke, a query about how she was. She found that she
      looked for him. Just his voice heard at a distance down an elegant
      oak-paneled hall was enough to turn her mouth dry.

      "You like him, ain't it?" Charlene said.

      "Of course I do. He's a nice guy."

      "That ain't what I meant."

      "He has a girlfriend."

      "Miss I-hate-your-guts?"

      "Yeah. I don't know what he sees in her."

      "If she looks like you described, I do."

      Gracie laughed.

      "You *like* him," Charlene said.

      "Yeah, sure, but like I said, he has a girlfriend."

      "Why a white man?"

      "I don't know." Gracie twisted the phone cord around her finger. "He
      don't talk down to me. He don't drink. Much. He's not loud. And he
      has a sense of humor."

      "In that order?"

      "No. I think the sense of humor comes first."

      Charlene had laughed and hung up.

      Gracie sighed and leaned back against the wall, knocked her head a
      few times into plaster. "Idiot. You have a crush on a Berkeley boy
      scout." Just as Jean Grey had accused her of at the outset. Yet she
      hadn't lied that first day when she'd told Grey that she didn't have
      one; at the time, she hadn't. It had stolen up on her slowly over the
      past week, snuck in the window of her heart and curled up around her
      cynicism, muffling it. A single one of his lips-curled-at-the-corners
      smiles could send the blood running through her veins like a night
      thief.

      But she genuinely *liked* him, too, and therein lay the rub. Had it
      been a plain crush, it would have been easier to ignore. It wasn't.
      He got her backhanded humor. And she got his. Just last night they'd
      spent an entire dinner waging an escalating war with very bad puns
      over chicken parmesan, to the amusement of Ororo, the appreciation of
      the professor, the shock of a few students, and the disgust of Jean
      Grey. In fact, had Grey not watched their every move with such
      evident hostility, Gracie would have found more excuses to look up
      Scott. As it was, she settled for the accidental, could have sworn
      that he arranged a few of those accidents. He liked her, too -- but
      it was only friendship. He still felt guilt for it, a shade of
      jaundiced yellow, as if their affinity betrayed Jean Grey. Gracie
      knew better. She'd seen how his ruby gaze followed the doctor.
      Adoration and devotion as keen as a dog's, lust too. Colors in deep
      reds, maroon and violet. Grey had only to snap her fingers and he
      asked how high he should jump. When he looked at Grace, it was with
      pink affection only. He enjoyed her company.

      She lingered another week after the doctor had finished her tests. No
      one suggested she go back to South Dakota, so she didn't. Although
      she missed her family, there was a seductive attraction to this place
      and not for the conspicuous wealth. She was not different here, even
      to be *lila wakan*. Besides, Scott was here. He held her with the
      same magnetism by which he held the rest of them. A *wasicun* Crazy
      Horse with a vision of freedom that set him apart and made them honor
      him. And fear him, too, a little. He'd been born for this. The
      bullets of the enemy -- be they of words or steel -- couldn't pierce
      his heart, kill that dream. The school belonged to Xavier. It rotated
      on the old man's axis, and the vision had ultimately been his. Yet
      Gracie didn't see him much. He taught his classes and spent the rest
      of his time on the phone or in meetings with the wealthy and
      influential, raising funds and working for the protection of all
      their kind. Mutants, not Indians. Scott, by contrast, was everywhere.
      Toilet in the boy's wing backed up? Call Mr. Summers. Jubilee and
      Bobby fighting again over the Playstation in the den? Call Mr.
      Summers. St. John had burned a hole in his dorm room carpet? Call Mr.
      Summers, then get lost. Fast.
      Ororo had been right that the kids were a bit nervous of him,
      considered him strict and weren't always sure when he was kidding and
      when serious. But he still had a cloud of them that orbited him, in
      the dining room or den, in the gym or on the PE field outside. They
      asked him to play ball with them, or table hockey or pool; they asked
      him for help with their homework. They were teens, and needed someone
      to heroize. Scott made an admirable hero. Some of the boys even
      mimicked his straight-backed walk without being aware they were doing
      so. They wanted to be him, from Warren-of-the-white-wings to John
      Proudstar. And the girls --

      "What color do you think his eyes really are behind those glasses?"

      Jubilee. Gracie stopped outside the door to one the girls' rooms.
      Eavesdropping.

      "You've asked that before," said Kitty. "About nine-hundred times.
      They have to be black. Black dreamboat eyes like Ashton Kutcher's."

      "Who's that?" Rogue.

      "Remember Kelso from 'That 70s Show'? He's on 'Baker Street' now,
      Tuesday nights, plays the geeky bartender."

      "Yuk. He was such a ditz. *Is* such a ditz."

      "He is not!"

      "Yeah, he is. Don't insult Mr. Summers. And I bet Mr. Summer's eyes
      are blue, like Tom Cruise."

      "Tom Cruise got hazel eyes, girlfriend," said another girl whose
      voice Gracie couldn't place.

      "No, they ain't. They're blue."

      "Whatever." Kitty. "I'm sure Dr. Grey knows."

      "Nobody *knows*," Jubliee replied. "He'd blast you."

      "Like Zeus and Semele," said Kitty.

      "Zeus and who?" Jubilee.

      "Dionysus' parents. You know -� as in the Greek god? Don't you pay
      attention in Miss Munroe's class? And I'm sure Dr. Grey has asked,
      and I'm sure he told her. So she knows."

      "It's not the same thing as *seeing*," Jubilee retorted.

      Grace smiled and went on. Later that day, she ran into Scott. It was
      lunch. Jean Grey was no where to be seen and for once, none of the
      boys were hanging on him. He stood in front of the kitchen window
      teasing Valeria the cook. They weren't speaking English. "*Pazienza!
      Pazienza!*" Valeria was yelling at him. Gracie stopped at his elbow
      and the cook reached over the counter to pat her cheek. The woman
      couldn't get inside a foot of anyone without grabbing them. Even
      Rogue. She just made sure to touch cloth. Very Italian. Not very
      Indian. "*Ciao, ciao, bambola!* This man has no patience. *Un grande
      ragazzo!* He wants his pizza right now, just like a little boy!" It
      was Friday and Grace had been told that Friday meant pizza day. Real
      Italian pizza. "*E come va, bambola?*"

      She blinked. "What?"

      "How are you?" Scott translated. "Say *'Bene, grazie, e tu?'*"

      "*Bene, grazie, e tu?*" she repeated.

      "*Non c'� male.* Not bad, not bad." And Valeria handed her a plate
      with a pizza slice.

      "Hey!" Summers yelled. "I was in line first! *Ti faccio vedere io!*"

      She smacked him on the back of his hand. "*E dove � la tua
      gentilezza?* She's a lady, ragazzo! Ladies first, no?" And Valeria
      went back to the cutting board, fetched him his pizza and handed the
      plate over. Three slices. "*Va', va'! Va' a farti friggere!*" She
      made shooing motions at him and turned to the two other students
      who'd approached for their lunch.

      "What'd she say?" Gracie asked.

      "Get lost. Essentially." He swung a leg over a bench to sit down.

      "Ororo told me that you teach Italian here. Don't seem to be on the
      same ballcourt as algebra. You learn it when you went to Italy?"

      "I knew it already �- learned some as a kid and then took it in
      college." Picking up the restaurant-style jar of grated parmesan, he
      sprinkled his pizza. "My grandmother was born in Turin. Angela
      Momigliano. She fled to the States when Mussolini let in the Germans
      to round up Jews in '43, met an Irishman in New York and married
      him."

      "I didn't know there were Italian Jews."

      "Not a lot, but some."

      "An Italian grandmother *and* a Jewish grandmother all rolled up in
      one. How'd you survive?"

      "Very well, actually. She spoiled me rotten. Still does."

      "She don't care that you're a mutant?"

      He glanced down at his plate, frowned and spoke quietly. "She's knows
      what it means to be persecuted, Grace."

      Grace just nodded, said after a minute, "So you do Chanukkah instead
      of Christmas?"

      "No, she converted when she married my grandfather. I'm a lapsed
      Catholic who still crosses himself by habit in a cathedral and
      genuflects to the altar, but that's about it. Oh," he gestured
      absently with a slice, "I remember the rosary, too. God knows I had
      to say enough of them when I was a kid." He took a bite.

      "Good altar boy."

      "No, very naughty altar boy."

      "I can see it. There was a Catholic priest on the res. My grandmother
      never let him get near me. She didn't want me messed up. She barely
      even let me go to school." She poked at her lunch. "What kind of
      pizza is this anyway? There ain't no sauce on it."

      "White pizza. Sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic. Try it. And why
      wouldn't your grandmother want you in school?"

      "She was afraid it would spoil me. She raised me Indi'n."

      "How would going to school change that?"

      The question was genuinely curious, not mocking, so she answered.
      "White education is not like ours. The things you think are important
      aren't things we think are."

      "Reading and writing and arithmetic aren't important?"

      "No."

      He snorted but didn't reply, took several bites of pizza instead,
      finally asked, "So what do Indians teach at school?"

      "It is not school like you think. We learn from our Elders. Stories
      and practical things �- how to listen, how to see, how to do what is
      right. How to walk the Red Road."

      "Ethics and observation and applied common sense. There's nothing
      wrong with that. I try to teach that, too."

      "I'm glad you approve!"

      He set his pizza down, raised both hands. "It wasn't an insult,
      Grace. I'm not a very good teacher if all I teach them is math.
      That's what I meant."

      She nodded. "Sorry. But it's an old story, for Indians. White man
      coming in to tell us what we should know. What matters. My people and
      yours have different ideas of what matters in life."

      "Maybe not as much as you think."

      She met his eyes behind his glasses, or as much of them as she could
      see. Dim red points. The light actually came *from* his eyes; it
      disappeared when he blinked. Right now, he was doing his level best
      to hear her, not just listen to her words.

      Something buzzed in her jaw and chest and gut like the wings of a
      hummingbird. Powerful. Fragile. A bright thing arrowing between the
      sky world and mother earth, bearer of hope and luck, healer of her
      spirit. "Maybe not," she echoed.

      They didn't say anything else for a while. She listened to the
      students talk around them, suddenly remembered the conversation she'd
      eavesdropped on earlier. "What color are your eyes?"

      He stared at her a moment, then that quirky grin. "Why?"

      "Some of the girls want to know."

      He didn't reply for a full minute. "*Which* girls?"

      "Jubilee, Kitty, Rogue, another whose name I can't remember."

      "Jen, most like." He shook his head. "Why do *you* want to know?"

      "Curiosity killed the Indian. Though in this case, I'd rather that
      weren't literal, so keep the shades down, Mr. Risky Business."

      He lost it, laid his forehead down on his folded hands and just
      howled. It got everyone's attention as students glanced around at
      this remarkable apparition of Mr. Summers laughing his head off -�
      though perhaps with less surprise than they would have a week ago.
      Then they returned to their previous conversations. "They're blue,"
      Scott said finally, raising his head. "Were blue. They're red now.
      Everything I see is red."

      That took her by surprise. "Everything?"

      "Red and black."

      "Don't your eyes adjust? To the color of the glasses?"

      "It's not the glasses. It's my eyes. I see in dual tone, like *film
      noir*. Or *film rosso*, I guess."

      "Oh."

      Jean Grey picked that moment to walk in, spotted them talking
      together and frowned. Finished with her pizza, Gracie made a hasty
      goodbye and took off, passed Grey on her way out. "All yours, Coyote
      Woman."

      Outside, she pulled her cigarettes from her pocket and lit one, blew
      smoke up at a blue sky.

      Red and black. Robbed of colors. Robbed of the sky. Gracie pondered
      that. His flip tone might have told anyone else that he didn't care,
      that he'd adjusted to it. Gracie knew otherwise.




      It was that same Friday afternoon on which two important events
      occurred. The first was that she picked up the phone in the office.

      She'd walked by the place a dozen times, a door with a long glass
      window beside it. No one was ever there. Files had been stacked
      haphazardly on expensive wood filing cabinets; there was a computer
      with a fancy printer, a fax-phone, mailboxes along one wall, and the
      desk supplies matched in maroon. Stacked on the desk's hutch were
      boxes of pens and dry-erase markers, post-it notes and pink slips for
      taking messages, stationary, a yellow and black book entitled WORD
      PERFECT FOR DUMMIES and various other software reference guides, some
      brochures about the school. Outside, stenciled in black on the glass:
      "Xavier's School for the Gifted. Main Office." Sometimes the phone
      was ringing. Once, she'd seen Ororo sprint down the hall to yank open
      the door and snatch up the receiver, give a breathless delivery:
      "Xavier's School for the Gifted. This is Ororo Munroe. How may I help
      you?"

      So this day, when she walked by and the phone was ringing yet again,
      she entered to lift the receiver. "Xavier's School for the Gifted.
      This is Gracie. How may I help you?"

      A mother. A mutant daughter. A distraught tale and a message for
      Professor Xavier. Gracie took it down on pink pad and tucked it in
      the upper corner of the desk blotter. Then she turned to survey the
      Leaning Tower of Files with student names under plastic tabs. Anybody
      could walk in here and access sensitive information. Grades, medical
      reports, behavioral records written up by the teachers. She shook her
      head. This was probably not the truly sensitive stuff, but sloppy
      nonetheless. She opened the filing drawers and got to work.

      The second important thing occurred a few hours later when someone
      stopped by the office. Gracie was still there, sorting mail and
      cleaning out cabinets. She'd taken two more messages, as well. One
      for the professor and one for Scott. How did anything get done here
      if there was never anybody in the office? And people accused Indians
      of poor organization.

      Now at the sound of feet, she looked up to find the girl called Rogue
      watching her from the doorway. Marie, Scott had named her.
      Untouchable. Her 'gift' was to drain the life force and powers out of
      anyone unlucky enough to contact her bare skin. The office lights
      shown down on her hair, brown with a startling white streak in the
      front. "Watcha doing?" she asked.

      "Fixing the office. Don't the school have a secretary?"

      "Not that I ever seen. Mr. Summers does most of it, or Miss Munroe."
      She came inside a little further. "Can I ask you a question?"

      Gracie stopped her work, turned. Strobe hope and fear in Rogue, who
      was literally wringing her hands together. "What is it?"

      "They say you're a healer. Might could you heal me?"

      Grace left the cabinet open and came around the desk until she was
      face-to-face with the girl. They were almost of a height. Plains
      genes or not, Gracie had never been tall. "Being a mutant ain't a
      disease. Not something to fix. I can only work with what your body
      thinks is natural. For you, 'natural' includes your gift."

      "It's not my gift!" In distress, Rogue bit the back of her wrist,
      spoke around it. "It's my fucking curse!"

      Gracie didn't know what to say. Rogue's pain beat at her. Reaching
      out, she wrapped a hand around Rogue's upper arm enclosed in its thin
      body suit. "I'm sorry, Little Sister. Life is shitty sometimes."
      Rogue wasn't looking at her. Her face had turned away. She was all
      grey and black and the wide winter-quartz sky of vacant grief, like
      the voices in the wind at Wounded Knee.

      Gracie reached out with her other hand on instinct. No thought. The
      hand connected with the side of Rogue's face, cupped the girl's
      cheek. For a moment, nothing. Then a sting, bee-like, or maybe a wasp
      grasped in the palm. Burn, burn. Growing more intense. A weakness
      behind Gracie's knees, a knotting at her jaw, a pain under her
      sternum. Her heart skipped once, twice, three times. *Wakan Tanka,*
      she prayed. *Give me strength.* She didn't let go of Rogue, didn't
      let the girl pull away despite shocked brown eyes and lips parted in
      protest.

      And then the burning drained away. All that was left was the feel of
      Rogue's young skin under Gracie's palm. Grace smiled. Rogue's mouth
      closed. Tears sprang. "You healed me."

      "No, Little Sister. I just touched you."

      In that moment, the people came. Jean Grey first, racing through the
      door, expecting -- What? To find Gracie dead on the floor? Grace was
      aware of the professor's mind-touch. He'd sensed what she'd done, the
      surge of her power, the cause of it, and sent a lightening mental
      call to Grey. Scott was right behind his doctor fiancee. Seeing her,
      seeing Rogue, his jaw dropped. Students had followed him. Bobby
      Drake, who had a crush on Rogue. Jubilee and Kitty, eyes wide at the
      spectacle of A Rogue Touched. Ororo, too, as stunned as Scott. Gracie
      didn't let go of Rogue, who wept openly now. Instead, she put up her
      other hand to hold both sides of the girl's face, pulled her forehead
      to meet Grace's own. "Hey, Little Sister. You'll be okay."

      ----

      Continued DIRECTLY in part 3b/10


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