CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (5a/12) ensemble [Heyoka II]
- CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS 5
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
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.
"I'll be curious to see who emerges at the end of it. Cyclops or
Logan grunted. "You wanna put that in plain English?"
"The Scott that EJ knows is a bit different from the Cyclops of
"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
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
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
"You're *not*?" Marie asked.
"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
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.'"
"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
"What's wrong with either one? You read 'em, too."
EJ chuckled. "Nothing's *wrong* with them, man. I just want to expand
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
"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*."
"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
"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
"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
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
Logan pulled up the stool that Summers often used, and sat down to
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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