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CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (5a/12) ensemble [Heyoka II]

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  • Minisinoo
    CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS 5 [Heyoka II] Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/children5.html Notes:  I have retained the comic premise that Logan
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2001
      CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS 5
      [Heyoka II]
      Minisinoo
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/children5.html


      Notes:� I have retained the comic premise that Logan has ties to
      Japan and training in the martial arts, even though the film didn't
      go into that. I liked it. Poetic license. Also, just for clarity,
      Mount Rushmore stands in the Black Hills, the Paha Sapa, or the
      center of the Lakota universe. It's regarded as something of an
      insult by native people, and has been the site of sit-ins and
      protests. E.g., Buddy Red Bow wrote, in "Where's Ben Black Elk
      Today?": 'In the most sacred land of the Sioux, four faces carved on
      granite stone, in the midst of our home, in the midst of our home
      ....' The best comparison I can make would be if Disney were to show
      up in Jerusalem and want to build a theme park called "Saladin,"
      celebrating the Muslim victory in the Third Crusade. You get the
      idea.

      ------

      Logan was in the den when Summers returned with the potential new
      cook. Or *dietician*, Logan supposed he should say. The guy was tall,
      inches taller than Summers, with cheap-expensive Ray Bans and muscles
      that owed as much to a health club as to hard labor. You didn't get
      pecs like that without a butterfly machine. He had gold hoop
      earrings, a fine gold chain, strong features, and a pate even balder
      than the professor's, but shaved on purpose. Very hip.

      Logan couldn't imagine a guy less likely to be the Boy Scout's
      ex-college roomie than Mr. GQ.
      Yet it was clear from their body language that they were as tight as
      two vines on a trellis. Logan had rarely seen Summers as relaxed as
      he was with the newcomer. And Haight treated Summers with the easy
      disrespect of a brother. The students watched curiously as Summers
      introduced Haight around, and Logan didn't miss Ororo's double-take,
      either. The Storm Goddess was appreciative. Then again, what was not
      to like? If EJ Haight and Scott Summers shared nothing else, they
      shared model good-looks.

      Jean came to join Logan on the couch. "This is going to be an
      interesting few days," she said.

      "How so?"

      "I'll be curious to see who emerges at the end of it. Cyclops or
      Slim."

      Logan grunted. "You wanna put that in plain English?"

      "The Scott that EJ knows is a bit different from the Cyclops of
      Westchester."

      "You mean there might be a human being lost somewhere behind the
      automaton with glasses?"

      Jean patted his knee. "Logan, you know better."

      Not long after Summers and the new guy disappeared out of the den,
      the mansion's other new arrival entered. There had been much
      speculation about Gracie's brother in the hours since he'd shown up.
      The kids were more inclined to judge the cover than the book, and
      weren't at all sure, in this case, what to make of the cover. Between
      the long hair, tattoo, and earrings, the cowboy hat, boots, and
      flannel, he looked to them like a rodeo gangster. A *big* rodeo
      gangster. To Logan, he just looked as if he'd just stepped off a
      reservation -- maybe a bit better dressed. Those were Tony Lamas he
      was sporting. The problem was that the kids didn't know how to
      interpret what they saw. Long hair was par for the course, and this
      guy must have been edging for chief of the Indian Brave Long Hair
      Society. The earrings were carved-bone, painted as eagle feathers,
      the tattoo a stylized snake. To the Sioux, a snake meant wisdom, not
      evil. Sitting up a little, Logan raised a hand in a gesture of
      welcome. "*Hau, mitakola*." And had the satisfaction of seeing
      Kills-his-Horse start.

      Then the other man grinned and ambled over, plopped himself down on
      the sofa at an angle to Logan and Jean, and put his feet up on the
      coffee table. The metal studs on his boot heels clicked against
      glass. Jean studied him with interest, and no little hesitation.
      Logan was well aware that Gracie wasn't Jean's favorite person. "You
      must be Logan," Kills-his-Horse said.

      "Grace mention me?"

      "Just a little." Kills-his-horse grinned. He had good teeth, for an
      Indian. "Said you knew the language."

      "Only well enough to get myself in trouble on the res."

      Which made Kills-his-Horse laugh. "Hey, she let you call her
      *wichinchala*. That's something."

      "What does that *mean*, anyway?" Jean asked. "And I'm Jean Grey, by
      the way. Welcome to Westchester, Victor." It was offered neutrally.

      Kills-his-Horse regarded her for a moment, humor in his expression.
      Logan was sure he knew all about her, and all about Gracie's distrust
      of her, too. Indian gossip. "*Wichinchala*," he said now, "means
      'little girl.' Grace ain't very fond of it." His smile deepened. "My
      sister has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. About the size and shape
      of Mount Rushmore, ain't it?"

      Logan burst out laughing, as much at Jean's broadsided expression as
      at Victor's characterization of his drum-beater sister.
      Kills-his-Horse just pulled a bag of sunflower seeds out of his
      pocket and popped one into his mouth, bit down. He winked at Jean.
      Abruptly, she smiled back.





      The first hint of what Jean had referred to occurred at supper. EJ
      had apparently been given the tour by Summers, introduced to the
      professor, then shown to his room to relax. Nobody expected him to
      cook that night. When dinner time rolled around, he arrived in the
      dining hall with Summers, who was surprisingly down-dressed in faded
      jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Haight chose not to sit at the
      teacher's table and made the Boy Scout join him among the students.
      He chatted them up, asking them about their interests, hobbies, and
      powers with casual ease. The Storm Queen picked up her own tray and
      went to join them, leaving Logan, Jean, Hank, Victor Kills-his-Horse,
      and the professor in their normal places.

      It was, Logan thought, the first time the age-division among the
      teachers had been so evident -- Victor aside. Ororo was her usual
      calm self, but seemed to be enjoying the chance to play hooky among
      the students. Summers acted a bit uncomfortable, but mostly because
      he wasn't sure where the stick that had been up his ass had gone.
      Yet, in a weird way, he seemed grateful, too, and Logan had one of
      those rare insights that strike like the proverbial bolt from the
      blue.

      Summers didn't much *like* being regarded as a stick-in-the-mud. But
      he wasn't sure what to do about it, either. The kid had a lot piled
      on him and was still trying to figure out how to balance it all
      without dropping something. When he learned to trust his instincts,
      he'd be one hell of a leader. Logan hadn't forgotten the night
      Jeannie had almost died. It hadn't been the professor who'd pulled
      them together, or himself, or even Gracie -- though she'd done the
      weaving. It had been Summers: the tactical rabbit out of a hat done
      on reflex and a half-conscious hunch. Summers had ordered Rogue to
      touch Grace, and then Logan to touch Rogue . . . and it had
      snowballed from there.

      "So what's your power, Mr. Haight?" St. John asked now, dragging
      Logan's wandering attention back to the present.

      Grinning, Haight pointed at Summers with a fork. "Putting up with him
      for four years."

      That clearly baffled the kids. "EJ isn't a mutant," Summers
      explained.

      "You're *not*?" Marie asked.

      "Nope."

      "You mean you're here and you're not afraid of us?" Jubilee asked
      with a stark honesty that was heart-breaking.

      Haight's face showed his shock, then he leaned across to tug gently
      on one big hoop earring. "I'm *terrified* of you, girl. But that's
      just because you're under twenty with raging hormones and a cell
      phone, not because you're a mutant."

      His reply got the laughter he'd aimed for. And Logan caught the
      professor's nod.

      Maybe Mr. GQ wasn't so bad after all.

      When the laughter had died down, Haight frowned at his pasta and
      pushed it about his plate. Then he said, "A wise man once wrote, 'Do
      you not see how necessary a world of pain and troubles is to school
      an intelligence and make it a soul? A place where the heart must feel
      and suffer in a thousand diverse ways.'"

      Hank McCoy's head jerked up, his expression a wash of surprise.
      "Stars and Garters! Keats!" Then he called back, "'Zeus lays it down
      as law / that we must suffer, suffer into truth.'"

      "Aeschylus, the AGAMEMNON," Haight said, without turning. "But 'Evil
      is unspectacular, and always human.'"

      "Auden."

      "Stop, already!" Summers yelled. "Christ!" But he was half-laughing.

      McCoy snorted. "Just because your narrative preferences run to Greg
      Bear and Frank Herbert -- on a good day -- does not mean the rest of
      us can't appreciate *real* literature, Scott."

      "Hey! Bear and Herbert both won the Hugo *and* the Nebula. Bear won
      the Hugo twice."

      "Neither of which is the Pulitzer or the Booker."

      "It's a losing battle, my man," EJ warned. "I spent four years trying
      to get this guy to read something outside English class that wasn't
      non-fiction or from the SF-F shelf."

      The Boy Scout looked like he'd enjoy flipping off either Haight or
      McCoy, but the kids were watching, so he settled for a weak riposte.
      "You're exaggerating, Eeej. I like Elie Wiesel, Michael Sharra, Anton
      Myrer, and Umberto Eco -- none of which are SF."

      "Okay," EJ granted, "Something that wasn't SF or the odd bit of
      historical fiction."

      "What's wrong with either one? You read 'em, too."

      EJ chuckled. "Nothing's *wrong* with them, man. I just want to expand
      your horizons."

      Logan tuned out the conversation. He was more interested in the
      expression of relief on Jean's face than the wacky literary
      *mano-a-mano* between McCoy, Haight and Summers.

      "What is it?" he asked her softly, but she slid her eyes in McCoy's
      direction and shook her head softly. He couldn't grab her hand at the
      table, so he moved his leg under it until his calf hooked against
      hers. Her eyes opened wide -- he didn't usually play footsie -- but
      then she got it and spoke directly into his mind.

      *They're razzing each other. I was beginning to fear for the team,
      that Hank wouldn't be able to work with Scott now.*

      Logan wasn't sure how to reply telepathically, so he just tried
      thinking it hard. *You mean you were afraid that he wouldn't be able
      to take orders from Scott.*

      Thinking must have worked because she nodded.

      *You can not get along with a guy, Jean, he thought back, and still
      respect him, take his orders if you think he knows what he's doing.*

      She met his eyes. *I'm not sure Hank is capable of the same kind of
      compartmentalization as you.*

      *I think you underestimate him.* Then he grinned. *He's a guy. We
      compartmentalize as a matter of course.*

      She smiled back but before she could reply, "the dead lizard in the
      freezer" got their attention. Both swung their heads about to look
      towards Haight and Summers' table.

      Summers was trying to escape off the bench, but Ororo had him by a
      belt-loop. "Dead lizard in the freezer?" she asked.

      Even the professor set aside his fork to listen to this. Giving up on
      escaping, Summers resorted to hiding his face in his arms. Haight
      thwacked him on the head. "You didn't tell them about the dead
      lizard?"

      "Christ, no! Why would I tell them *that*?"

      "Because it's famous, man! He" -- Haight pointed towards Summers --
      "killed a lizard."

      "It was a *newt*."

      "Whatever."

      "And I didn't kill it; it just *died*." Summers looked up finally. He
      was as red as a beet.

      "You gonna tell the story, or me?"

      "You never tell it right."

      "Fine, you tell it."

      Logan chuckled. Haight had just maneuvered Summers right into it.
      Jean was hiding a grin behind her hand and the professor was
      struggling to keep a straight face. Kills-his-Horse had that placidly
      amused smile of his and McCoy listened with a bland expression.

      "There's not much to it and it was a long time ago," Summers was
      saying, but he had an audience anyway. Every student at that table
      and the one behind had shut up to hear him.

      "I was supposed to watch a newt for a friend when he went home over
      spring break. I wasn't going anywhere because I had a paper due, so
      he asked me to keep it. I said no problem. How much trouble is a
      newt, anyway? They hardly ever eat and spend most of the time sitting
      there staring at you. Real exciting pet. Anyway, one afternoon about
      two days after he left, I heard this 'plop' and went to check on the
      newt. It had fallen off the side of the tank, back into the water. I
      didn't think anything about it, though -- figured it was napping."

      "No, no!" Haight interrupted. "Don't gloss it, man! Einstein here
      figured it was napping for *two days*!"

      "Yeah, well, I didn't know anything about newts. But after two days,
      it was still lying there on the rock -- on its back -- so I realized
      something was wrong. It was also starting to stink, which was a dead
      give away."

      "Bad pun, Slim."

      A few students snickered, but whether at the pun or the nickname,
      Logan wasn't sure.

      "So," Summers went on, "I nudged it with a finger to see if it was
      still alive and it fell off the rock into the water. I picked it up
      by the tail then, to get a good look at it, and it broke in *half*."

      Jubilee snorted and Marie's fair skin had gone red from suppressed
      giggles. Summers was getting into his tale.

      "So here I am, with this decomposing newt that I'm supposed to be
      taking care of. And I'm thinking, 'My god, I killed this guy's pet!'
      As it turned out, the newt was over fifteen years old and had died of
      old age -- but Jerrod didn't tell me that he'd had it since grade
      school! I couldn't exactly flush it down the toilet, so I sorta . . .
      put it back together and wrapped it up and stored it in the freezer."

      Haight picked up the story: "So I get home that Sunday, and Slim here
      doesn't tell me the damn thing is dead. I went to the fridge to get
      something -- ice for a Coke or something -- and there's this goddamn
      *dead lizard* wrapped up in pink cellophane, in the freezer. Lizard
      and ice and frozen pizza, and that was it."

      Summers was laughing and rubbing at his face. "I *forgot*, okay?"
      Then he resumed his tale, "Anyway, here comes EJ into the living
      room, holding the newt in the cellophane by the tail, and he says to
      me, 'What? Did you get some new mutation you didn't tell me about? Or
      were you just hungry and out to catch your own dinner?'"

      The entire dining hall had more or less dissolved. Even Logan was
      laughing. Ororo was about to fall off the bench where she sat beside
      Summers, and Jean choked on tea.

      "So what happened when the guy got back?" Bobby Drake wanted to know
      over the din.

      Summers and Haight both shook their heads. "Nothing," Summers said.
      "We gave him the newt and the tank back."

      "Frozen?" Marie asked.

      "Yeah, frozen. I think he fed it to his cat."

      The students were all just dying, squealing and hanging on to each
      other.

      "You sure you want this Haight to come work here?" Logan whispered to
      Jean. "One Eye may never get his tight-ass reputation back." She just
      smiled.





      Logan liked to get to the Danger Room early, warm up for himself,
      before his students arrived. Since it was scheduled out at the same
      time each day, including weekends, and had been since spring classes
      had started, he didn't expect to find anyone there. But when he
      punched in the keypad code, the door slid aside on Summers and Haight
      beating each other around the floor.

      Summers wore the visor, but not a uniform. Instead, he was in gi, as
      was Haight. Black belts tied off both at the waist. At the sound of
      the door, Summers glanced sideways quickly and Haight moved to take
      advantage of it with a roundhouse kick -- *mawashi geri* -- up
      towards Summers' head. Haight missed, because Summers was elsewhere,
      having moved with uncanny speed. "Good," Haight said, relaxing a
      moment and cracking his neck casually, "you avoided me" -- as if he
      were instructor rather than opponent. "But next time, try to turn me
      so that you can see the door; don't glance sideways. I know it's
      instinct, especially for you with the way your eyes work. Control it,
      Slim. Let's go again. *Hajime*." Then to Logan, "We'll be done in a
      bit."

      Logan pulled up the stool that Summers often used, and sat down to
      watch.

      So. EJ Haight had been shown not just the upper school, but the lower
      levels as well. Logan wondered how much he knew of what his buddy
      Slim did when he wasn't trying to shoe-horn algebra into adolescent
      heads. Enough, apparently.

      Of even more interest was the interaction between the two men.
      Summers was the junior here, no question. The kid taught martial arts
      to the students at the mansion though he released them after a
      certain point to train outside the school. Wisely. He was competent
      to a point and had his *sho dan* �- his first degree black belt,
      which wasn't handed out casually -- but Logan didn't think he had any
      business playing *sensei* with no senior present. Still, Logan had
      never said anything about it because Summers *was sensei*, and you
      didn't mess with that relationship. Just how he knew this, he wasn't
      sure. Not any more than he knew how he'd gotten the Japanese terms in
      his head, or knew that he could train the kids better, or even knew
      that Summers' style was Shotokan but Haight was trained in Isshin-Ryu
      -� the One Heart Way. Isshin-Ryu was meant for combat. Arm-reach,
      weight, and strength mattered, and Haight had them all over Summers.
      Logan was also pretty sure that EJ was a couple levels up from Scott
      on the black belt *dan*: *san dan*, maybe *yon dan*. He moved too
      well, like a *tashi*. An expert.

      They weren't fighting, precisely. Haight was working Summers like a
      master would a pupil, and brought Summers down inside five minutes.

      "Crap!" the kid snarled.

      Haight hauled him to his feet. "That's enough for now. You're out of
      practice, man. Doing *kata* ain't gonna keep up your edge."

      "I do more than *kata*, but I can't exactly wander down to the local
      studio" -- he tapped his visor for emphasis -- "with the way things
      are now, for mutants. And my students don't give me much of a
      work-out. Who have I got to practice with?"

      "How about me?"

      Now why the hell did I say that?, Logan wondered. But both men had
      turned to look at him. Haight appeared interested. "You know the
      discipline? You wanna have a go? *Kumite*?"

      Logan hopped off the stool and strolled over. Summers was nursing a
      bruised elbow, so he moved back. Logan wasn't really dressed properly
      for the mat, but he bowed and said, "I can't turn off my powers,"
      because it was the honorable thing to do. "I'm a rapid healer. And I
      have metal on my bones. But the claws stay in."

      "Claws?" Haight asked. Raising a fist, Logan showed him. "Yeow!" Then
      Haight chuckled, and bowed in return. "*Hajime*."

      They moved in, exchanged a few blows, mostly to see how the other
      sparred. Haight was smooth and strong, tending to rely on weight and
      reach -- like Logan. He wasn't as lethally fast as Summers could be,
      and he didn't have the advantage of Summers' eyes, which was probably
      why the kid could hold his own, at least for a short while until
      Haight landed a few blows.

      But Haight was cool. One minute, he was just playing around and the
      next he came in with all his skill and Logan hadn't seen a flicker of
      change in his expression. Only the long-time training that Logan knew
      he had but didn't remember getting saved him from taking a fall. From
      then on, all bets were off.

      It had been a while since he'd faced an opponent as good as Haight.
      This guy had competed and won or Logan was no judge at all. No wonder
      he'd been treating Summers like a student. Haight was as far beyond
      Summers as Summers was beyond the kids, and Logan wondered how long
      Haight had been fighting. Summers had started in high school, a
      pastime from before he'd had powers or ever dreamt of the X-Men. But
      Haight moved like a man who'd been doing this twenty years -- and he
      was about the same age as the Boy Scout. Shit. Logan began to realize
      that he could have fought *with* his claws out and Haight would still
      have held him off, though not without blood on the floor. He raised
      his estimation of Haight's belt degree. Definitely *tashi*.

      At one point, Logan caught a glimpse of the Boy Scott. Grinning, damn
      him. He was enjoying this. It distracted Logan just enough for Haight
      to take advantage of it, and get through his defense with a *roko
      gere* -- a side blade kick -- straight to the ribs. For the first
      time, Logan actually wondered if he might lose. He hadn't wondered
      that since he'd fought Sabretooth. Of course, he hadn't bothered to
      warm up first, which had been stupid, but it was too late to cry over
      spilt milk. Thank god for his healing factor.

      His students showed up in the middle of the match, filed in and
      leaned against the wall behind Summers. "Watch," he heard Summers
      tell them. "You won't get to see this every day. Not outside of
      competition. Mr. Haight is a third-degree Black Belt, a *san dan*. No
      telling what Logan is."

      "Third or above," Haight called from the floor, out of breath.
      "*Tashi*, maybe *renshi*." He never let his eyes waver from Logan,
      and Logan didn't reply. He'd take Haight's word for it. God knew, he
      had no idea.

      An audience inspired the Wolverine. He couldn't lose. Not in front of
      his kids. Not in front of Marie.

      He didn't lose. He didn't win, either, though he might have if he'd
      kept pushing. They finally agreed, by some unspoken signal, that
      they'd had enough and ended it with a bow. The kids erupted into
      spontaneous applause. So did Summers. He walked over to them,
      offering a pair of towels. Logan accepted his gratefully and wiped
      his face. The damn uniform was a hell of a lot hotter than a gi. "Why
      didn't you ever tell me?" Summers asked him. "I feel like an idiot; I
      had no idea you were that well trained. You should be teaching the
      karate class, not me."

      "You're their *sensei*," Logan replied simply.

      Scott grinned a little. "I appreciate the discretion, but I did it
      out of necessity." He bowed to Logan. "I concede right of place to my
      senior." It was very gracious, and entirely honest. Logan didn't
      smell envy. Then again, that wasn't Summers' style, not over
      something like this. He played by the rules, and Logan held the
      senior *dan*. It was his right of place.

      "I just wish I remembered how the hell I got to be one," Logan said,
      a little bemused.

      "Slim told me you don't remember anything past about fifteen years?"
      EJ asked. Logan nodded, and Haight continued, "Well, you're
      definitely third degree or higher. Probably higher; you could have
      beaten me. I haven't been run around the mat that hard in a *long*
      time, brother. Thanks." He offered a hand in more Western fashion.
      Logan took it. Then Haight and Summers headed off to the showers,
      leaving Logan with his students -- who were looking at him with
      something approaching awe instead of just fear. Maybe Haight had done
      him a favor.

      ---

      Continued DIRECTLY in part 5b/12 .....



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