Continuing direction from part 5a/10....
On his way to the professor's office, he ran into Jean in the hall,
stopped to hold her close a minute. She'd been acting strangely all
morning. Or rather, even more strangely than she had for the past
several weeks. Pulling back, he studied her tired face. "Are you
He didn't believe her, but wasn't going to argue with her. He
wouldn't get any better answer now than he had the last ten times
he'd asked the same question. Instead, he said, "Jubilee finish the
Jean nodded, but frowned. "You're too hard on them sometimes, Scott.
She and Bobby were just being kids."
"She and Bobby are almost adults, in a world that doesn't like them
much. They need to learn a little discipline. Sitting still for an
hour a week won't kill them."
"I agree. But embarrassing them to death in front of all their
friends by dragging them out of chapel and making them clean the
bathroom isn't the best way to deal with it."
Less than five minutes and already they were bickering. That seemed
to be the nature of their interaction, these days. She was on him
constantly; he couldn't do anything right for her any more. Now, he
drew away. "Well, it's the way I did deal with it. I can't undo it."
"You could apologize."
"You've gotta be kidding!"
"Scott -- "
"Don't 'Scott' me! I'm not apologizing! They were out of line.
Severely. It's my job -- "
"It's your job as what? Their teacher or their drill master?"
That did it. "Never mind. I can't talk to you any more." And he
stalked past her. Behind him, he thought he heard her sob, but didn't
turn back to see. If he tried to say anything, he'd probably make a
bigger mess of it.
Thus he arrived in the professor's office in a very foul mood,
collapsed in one of the leather chairs to wait while Xavier spoke on
the phone to someone. Xavier gave him a raised 'wait a moment'
forefinger and the glare. He wasn't pleased about something --
probably what had happened in chapel that morning -- and Summers was
starting feeling more like a boy sent to the principal's office than
a teacher in his own right.
The professor hung up the phone, folded his hands on his desk and
studied Summers, who squirmed. After a moment, Xavier sat back. "I
don't need to say anything to you at all, do I?"
Scott didn't answer immediately, then replied, on defense, "I
punished them for it. I don't think they'll do it again."
"That wasn't what I meant." Xavier sighed. "There were better ways of
handling this, Scott. You might have had Jean levitate the notes over
their heads where everyone else could see what they were doing, or
perhaps even read a few out loud. That would have been enough, I
Had Jean been right? Had he been too harsh? He looked away. "I'm
sorry. They made me angry."
"Yes, exactly. They made you angry and so you reacted instead of
acted." Then Xavier waved his hand dismissively. "No matter. They
learned their lesson. And so did you." He glanced out from under his
brows in that way he had. "You didn't come here for me to tell you
again what Jean already said."
Scott felt the blood scald his ears. Had the professor mentally
overheard his quarrel with Jean? But as Xavier had said, that wasn't
what he'd come to the office to talk about. Forcibly, he turned his
mind back to the proposal he had to make. "I talked to Grace. About
her refusal to come to chapel." He took a deep breath. "She says she
can't worship under a roof."
"I doubt she can." The professor's mild reply startled him a little.
"She had a counter-proposal," Scott said.
"And that was?"
Summers explained Grace's objections and her idea, finished with
"She'd like to have some of the kids join her next week. She even
offered to take Jubilee." He grinned.
Xavier was nodding. "I think it would be an excellent idea."
Xavier steepled his hands and gave Summers that subtle head-tilted
half-grin. "Scott, really. Grace hasn't ask for anything
unreasonable; why should I object? I'm pleased to hear that she's
willing to step forward and take more of a leadership role at the
school. In fact, if this should work out, I've been considering
asking her to teach a class all her own next spring."
"Teach *what*?" He couldn't imagine a subject she was qualified to
teach. He had a dual degree in education and mathematics and a
teaching license for the state of New York. Grace barely had a high
school diploma. He would have decked anyone who called her stupid,
but that didn't mean he thought she belonged up in front of a
classroom. They had a responsibility to these kids, a duty to give
them a proper education whether this was 'mutant high' or not . . . .
Xavier was smiling at him. "You're reading my mind, aren't you?"
"You're very predictable, Scott." But it was said with great
affection. Then he went on in Scott's mind, *You might be surprised
at what Grace could teach the students about life. What she could
Summers got up and paced over to the window. Down below, he could see
Jean and Ororo heading off up the road towards the stables. Jean
walked with her head down, shoulders hunched, arms wrapped around
herself. He shouldn't have snapped at her earlier. She'd been right.
But why did she have to pick at him so much now? These days, all he
felt around her was guilt. Guilt for whatever he wasn't doing that
she wished he would. Guilt for whatever he did that she wished he
wouldn't. And guilt over his inappropriate feelings for Gracie.
*Do you want to talk about it?* The mental invitation made the
inquiry gentler, less accusatory.
"Can a man love two women, Charles?" He rarely used the professor's
first name, but at the moment, it seemed right.
"Of course. Can a father love two children? Can a man love two
He hadn't expected that answer, swung his head around and blinked to
adjust from the glare outside to the dim of the room. The pain behind
his eyes was returning, too, after its too-brief hiatus. He rubbed
his forehead. "I didn't mean to fall in love with her." He didn't
need to say who 'her' was. "I wasn't trying; I wasn't looking. It
just happened. She makes me laugh."
"There's nothing going on. I've never touched her. She's never
touched me. Not like that. I don't intend to break up with Jean."
"I know that, too."
"Grace and I have nothing in common."
"She just makes you laugh."
"Our worlds are completely different."
"You spend a lot of time with her, for such completely different
Scott shook his head and came back to sit down. "Are you
*encouraging* me? I'd think you'd be telling me to keep my distance.
That's what I've been trying to do."
"Seeking her out this morning was keeping your distance?"
He blushed. "That was just part of the job. Someone needed to talk to
her. And not Jean."
Xavier didn't bother to point out that it could as easily have been
himself or Ororo. Instead, he steepled his hands again and leaned
elbows on his desk. "What I'm encouraging, son, is for you to know
yourself, be sure of yourself before you take a step with Jean that
you can't easily undo."
"I already made that decision."
"No, you did not. There is no ring on your finger. What do you think
an engagement is? A trial period. A time to be certain before the
vows are spoken. The engagement itself isn't the vow. You have an
overdeveloped responsibility muscle."
Summers smiled. It was true.
"That sense of responsibility is why I've always intended for you to
lead the X-Men. But you also have a duty -- and I use that word
intentionally with you �- to be certain that Jean is the right one
for you. You have a duty to Jean, and to yourself. Even Cyclops has a
right to be happy." He smiled faintly. "And you were very young when
you first met her. Very young. You still are young. Neither you nor
Jean has had much opportunity for a normal dating life."
"I never wanted one." Leaning over, Scott rested his own elbows on
his knees and rubbed at his temples again. To be without the ache
even for a little while had made it that much worse when it came
back. "But I don't know any more," he admitted finally. "I don't
know. If I wasn't . . . . If I wasn't with Jean, then yes, I might
be interested in Grace. But we're so *different* in so many ways. And
I can't fool around, Charles. It's not in me to do that."
"Of course it's not. No one has suggested that."
"I can't break up with Jean, either. She needs me."
"She needs you to be certain of yourself."
"I can be certain. As I told her, love's a decision, not a feeling.
What if Gracie had come a year from now? After we were married. Would
you encourage me to get a divorce just because -- "
*But she didn't come a year from now, did she?* The mental question
shut Scott up. "The Lakota believe that nothing happens by accident,
nothing of this degree of import, in any case. First Logan, now
"You think it's *fate*?" Summers didn't believe in fate.
"I think it's normal to question at this stage. Even healthy.
Sometimes you're so certain of yourself that it worries me. I learned
a thing or two from my friend Erik, before we went our separate ways.
I learned that even Jacob wrestled with angels. Even Abraham
bargained with God. The Jews are very good arguers." Xavier leaned
back, smiled a little. "You don't like to question. You're a
mathematician and an engineer. You like formulae, you like answers.
You're decisive -- all good traits in a leader. Too many questions
make you nervous. But life is all about questions." He spread his
hands. "Let yourself ask a few. Let yourself dare to wonder what
might have been, had you met Grace Kills-his-Horse first. If you
don't ask that question now, and settle it, it will haunt you for the
rest of your marriage."
"Fine. I'll think about it." Summers got up and started for the door.
This had stopped being a comfortable conversation -� if it had ever
been one to begin with. Before he got out the door, however, he
paused and glanced back at the professor. "Gracie said something to
me, earlier." He touched his temple. "She stopped the pain in my
eyes, for a while. Touched my eyes and made it go away. She said that
she thinks there may be some kind of problem with my powers,
something not quite right."
Frowning slightly, Xavier sat up. "Did she elaborate?"
"She said that it felt like a 'buzz' to her, a note out of tune, and
that my powers shouldn't cause me pain. It's not much pain and it's
been there so long, I'm used to it. I never think about it. But it's
Xavier leaned back again and Summers could see him turning this over
in his mind, then he gestured Scott back over, around the desk, to
kneel down in front of his chair. Summers was so used to living with
telepaths that he knew precisely what was wanted, how to clear his
mind. The professor touched him lightly, right between the brows. It
lasted a few moments, felt to Summers like someone rustling around
inside his brain. Not uncomfortable, but a bit *strange*. When Xavier
or Jean did this, he always had to steel himself to keep from yanking
away. After a few moments, Xavier released him, grunted thoughtfully.
"She may be right. I simply can't tell for sure."
"But you're more powerful."
"We have different gifts. What is obvious to her is only a dim shadow
to me. I would like her to examine you again. I think that Grace has
only begun to tap into her full potential as an empath and healer.
That was part of why I wanted to bring her here. To help us, yes. But
also for us to teach her." He smiled faintly. "Despite your earlier
protests, the two of you have a great deal in common -- including a
stubborn streak if you are told you have something yet to learn."
Scott laughed in spite of himself, sat back on his heels but didn't
rise up. He didn't like to stand over the professor, tended to stay a
step behind or to the side if he was on his feet, although he knew
Xavier wasn't troubled by the visual symbology. Summers was troubled
"As much as you might not like to hear it," the professor went on, "I
look forward to the return of Logan. Just as Jean's gift is a
compliment to my own, so Logan and Grace share a similarity in
"You think *Logan* can teach her something?" Summers couldn't keep
the scoff out of his voice.
"Logan understands his own power better than you think. It is not an
intellectual understanding, but neither is it for Grace. And Logan is
older, has been living with these powers far longer."
"I can't see those two, together."
"You don't *want* to see those two together." Xavier winked at him.
He looked off. Would Grace be drawn to Logan in the same way that
Jean had been? And if she was? It might be simpler on them all. But
Scott didn't like it. In fact, just now, he liked it even less than
he'd liked Jean's attraction to the wolverine before �- and that
bothered him most of all. Was he ready to give up Jean to Logan if it
meant he was free to pursue whatever this was he felt for Gracie?
"Logan's in Canada, so it doesn't matter."
The professor just smiled.
And at that very moment, Summers heard the roar of a motorcycle at a
distance off down the mansion lane. *His* motorcycle. He knew the
sound of that specialized engine. He leapt to his feet and scooted
around the professor to lean far out the office window, look up the
Logan. Black leather on black steel and no helmet on his head,
popping goddamn *wheelies*.
Rogue, who had been out in the yard, had seen him, too, and now let
out a wild yelp, went charging at full tilt down the road towards
him. Logan slammed on the brakes to avoid running her over; the
wheels skidded on gravel and the bike almost went out from under him.
"Son of a bitch! He'd better not wreck my bike!"
Summers jerked around from the window. "You knew he was coming back!
How do you time these things? You're a telepath, not a prophet!"
"By the clock," Xavier said mildly, indicating the grandfather clock
in the corner; it read three in the afternoon. "Logan called last
But Summers was already out the door. Behind him, Xavier laughed.
*Show the bull the cape and off he charges,* he sent after his
favorite prot�g�e. It didn't even slow Summers down.
End of Chapter 5, go on to Chapter 6
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