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CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (7b/12) ensemble [Heyoka II]

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  • Minisinoo
    Continuing direction from part 7a/12.... ... By the time Logan and Ororo had taken the body back to the mansion and secured it in the lab s own icebox, then
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 23, 2001
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      Continuing direction from part 7a/12....

      ------

      By the time Logan and Ororo had taken the body back to the mansion
      and secured it in the lab's own icebox, then returned to the
      hospital, Summers had been in surgery for five hours. The professor
      was still waiting outside when they reported their mission a success.
      "How is he?" was Ro's first question.

      "Alive still and the dangerous bleeding has been halted," Xavier
      replied. "Victor brought out Grace about an hour ago �- unconscious,
      of course, and I was frankly surprised that Victor could walk
      himself. She drained them both.

      "Like in the medicine wheel?" Logan asked.

      "Not quite, but similar. Due to the intertwined nature of Grace and
      Victor's gifts, and the empathic-telepathic bonds that they share,
      she can draw on his strength almost as completely as she can draw on
      her own. In the medicine wheel that she created, she could draw
      only a portion of each person's strength. In any case, it would have
      been very unwise for her to heal Scott completely here. One could
      hardly explain a miracle of that magnitude." He smiled, but it
      didn't reach much past his mouth.

      "Yeah, I know," Logan said. He'd worked out as much for himself.

      "Jean had her close the wounds in his liver, since they presented the
      primary danger, and also heal the lung enough that they could
      re-expand it from the collapse. But they will still have to place a
      drain in his chest, and the intestines had to be sewn closed. The
      wounds from the surgery itself are extensive. To open his chest
      cavity, they had to cut through the sternum and break his ribs to
      bend them back. That will leave an ugly scar."

      Logan touched his own chest, remembering vague flashes of being
      opened up in much the same way to secure the adamantium inside him.
      The pain had been . . . just mind numbing. His body had been a world
      of pain in a sky of agony, and he blanked his mind almost
      automatically. Some memories, he was happy to lose. But now, he had
      not a spot on his skin to show for any of it. "He won't have a scar
      at all when Grace is through with him," he muttered.

      Xavier tilted his head, then nodded. "Yes, of course. I forget.
      But she dare not do more here than small healings -� enough for Scott
      to go home, where we can take care of the rest. The main concern now
      is to get him through the night. The next twenty-four hours are
      critical, Hank tells me. Grace has done all that she can, and would
      not be available in an emergency. If he begins to bleed again, we
      could lose him."

      "But he'll probably be all right?" Ro asked, more as a denial than as
      a real question.

      "His odds are very good now."

      "Do the children know?"

      "I sent to EJ, when Grace and Victor emerged."

      Remembering the suppressed fear that he'd seen on Haight's face
      earlier, Logan was glad Xavier had thought to inform him.

      "How much longer he gonna be in there?" Logan asked.

      "I am unsure. They have only just begun to close."

      Logan nodded. "I'll head out to baby-sit with Haight." At least out
      in the waiting room, it felt less like a hospital.




      After such an extensive operation, closing took a long time, and the
      sun was rising before Summers was out of OR and into recovery. Jean
      had gone to watch over him, and Grace and Victor were still sleeping
      in one of the residents' on-call rooms, which had been appropriated
      for the purpose. A weary Hank McCoy arrived in the waiting room
      along with the professor to inform the gathered that Summers was
      critical but stable, and out of immediate danger. He would be in the
      hospital with a chest tube for a week. There was no way to speed
      that up without it looking too suspicious. As soon as they could
      reasonably remove him, they'd transfer him back to the mansion and
      Grace could work as much magic as the limits of her gift permitted.

      Logan listened with half an ear while he watched the kids' faces.
      Pure relief across the board. Most had come to the mansion from
      unstable environments �- often the street �- and as much as they
      might bitch and moan about the Boy Scout and his rules and regs, he
      nonetheless represented stability in their lives. They trusted him,
      they looked up to him for guidance, and they appreciated the clear
      and visible boundaries that he set �- appreciated them far more than
      they would admit. He was the leader of the X-Men, the de-facto
      headmaster of the institute, and the bedrock of "Mutant High." Logan
      had no doubt that, if push came to shove, the school could survive
      his death. It'd have to survive anyone's, even Xavier's, but it
      wouldn't be easy.

      With the status report on Summers' condition given, tension broke and
      various groups of students mulled over what they were going to do
      next. Most arranged transportation back to Westchester, but a few
      appeared inclined to stay -� mostly the remaining X-Men trainees and
      their friends. Dani Elk River had been accepted right into that
      crowd under pressure of crisis bonding. Haight alone still seemed
      decidedly grim despite the good news. At least he'd finally washed
      some of the blood off his face. Logan approached him and said
      softly, "Now that he's out of danger, I suppose I'm allowed to bitch.
      What possessed that idiot to take off the kevlar?"

      "Trust," Haight replied without looking at him. His eyes flicked all
      around the room, from blue-padded chairs to end tables stacked with
      dog-eared magazines to the low-key abstract art on the wall. Logan
      was unsure if he were looking for something specific, or just seeking
      absolution "The kid -� Derrick -� he was scared shitless and not
      inclined to trust our offer about the school. He said, 'You got
      bullet-proof vests. I got nothing.' So Scott took his off." Logan
      watched Haight's jaw work while he struggled for control. "Kid
      figured that if Scott was willing to risk his own neck, he must be on
      the level. Now that kid's dead and Scott damn near died. And me? I
      don't got a scratch. They weren't fucking firing at *me*, were
      they?"

      "Of course they weren't firing at you." It was said, with no little
      heat, by St. John Allerdyce.

      Haight turned to study him. "What d'you mean, 'of course' they
      weren't firing at me?"

      "You're a norm," Allerdyce told him. Straightforward and blunt.

      Haight met the boy's eyes and nodded slowly. "Yeah, I am. You got a
      problem with that?" It wasn't hostile . . . quite, but it was a
      challenge and Logan was reminded that Haight dealt with street kids
      all the time. Haight knew he couldn't let Allerdyce win this one or
      he'd never get his authority back. The other students had stopped to
      watch; they seemed to sense that this was a critical moment. Drake
      had opened his mouth to intervene but Logan gripped his wrist and
      squeezed, hard enough to hurt but not enough to bruise the bone.
      Haight had to do this on his own; he wouldn't appreciate being
      'rescued.' Drake subsided.

      Allerdyce had shifted his posture back slightly, but without giving
      ground yet. He'd slung the cloak of a studied indifference about
      himself. The opposite of liking wasn't hate, it was apathy, and
      Haight wasn't inclined to let him get away with it. More forcefully
      now, Haight asked again, "You got a problem with the fact I'm not a
      mutant?"

      "No," Allerdyce said finally, low and soft, almost a warning.
      "Unless you got a problem with the fact I am one."

      Abruptly Haight grinned �- that startling, take-everyone-by-surprise
      smile that granted him his electric charisma. "I got no problems
      with that, man, long as you don't burn my pants." The kids laughed,
      more from relief than in amusement, but Haight had grown serious
      again. He dropped the confrontational posture to motion Allerdyce
      closer �- and the other kids, too. "Now, level with me. You all
      don't seem surprised by what happened to Scott. How often this be
      happening, man? Police harass you regularly?"

      "Depends," Allerdyce replied, "on how much like a mutant we look. I
      pass." He gestured to Drake, "So does Bobby, and Jubes and Kitty.
      Rogue gets weird looks for the gloves, but if she dresses goth, she
      can pass, too. Mr. Summers, though . . . it's the glasses. They're
      not noticeable most of the time, in New York. But up in Westchester,
      especially if people look close . . . . It's not like most people
      his age put *blinders* on their sunglasses. So yeah, we've seen
      people move away from him. Clarice has the same problem, with her
      eyes and skin, and there are others at the school like that. Little
      things give them away and they have trouble. Dr. McCoy can barely go
      out any more. I mean, he *does* -� he just ignores it -� but people
      spit at him behind his back. Or they stare."

      "When they stare at you," Kitty added, "you don't know if they're
      just curious, or if they're going to follow you off somewhere and do
      worse things than spit." She was, Logan noticed, fingering the Star
      of David that she always wore.

      Frowning, Haight shook his head. Logan was sure the basic tale was
      an old tune to him, if not necessarily with mutants as the targets.
      "It didn't used to be like this, man, not when we was in college."

      Neal Sharra shrugged. "How long ago was that? It's been getting
      worse since Kelly started his mutant registration campaign. It's not
      like this in New Delhi, either. Or it wasn't. No telling, these
      days. I haven't been home in over a year."

      "Scott knew when he went in there that he was taking a chance," Drake
      said.

      "Then why the *hell* did he take off his vest?" Haight nearly yelled.
      "And I let him do it."

      That, Logan thought, was the heart of it. Haight was blaming
      himself. Survivor's guilt. Xavier turned from his conversation with
      McCoy. "It was a matter of trust, EJ -� as you yourself pointed out
      to Logan. Scott did what he had to do."

      "And nearly got himself freakin' killed!" He was still angry, at
      Summers, at himself, and at a fearful society that had demonized his
      friend for an accident of birth.

      "It is the chance that we take," McCoy said quietly.

      Jaw tight, Haight met his eyes. "It ain't right."

      "No," Xavier told him. "But little in the world is 'right.' We do
      what we can to change it."

      "Damn," Haight whispered. And in that moment, Logan saw precisely
      why he and Summers were friends. A pair of crusaders, the both of
      them, out tilting at windmills in defense of how the world ought to
      be. There was a pause like an in-drawn breath, and something shifted
      in Haight's face. "Yeah. We do what we can," he echoed. And in
      that moment, Logan knew the man's final decision about joining the
      team had been made. Maybe there had never been any real question.

      The X-Men had just increased their number by one.

      "Dr. Xavier?"

      Nearly everyone in the waiting room jumped, both at the unexpected
      voice and at the unusual address. Turning towards the doorway, they
      found a dignified man with black hair, graying at the crown. He
      wasn't particularly tall, but his posture conveyed that impression
      all the same. Military ramrod, just like Summers.

      The cheekbones, the mouth, the firm jaw -� all like Summers'. At his
      elbow stood a woman with faded blonde hair and striking, long cat
      eyes in blue. Italian eyes.

      "I'm Charles Xavier," the professor said, turning his chair to face
      them. "Lieutenant Colonel Summers, Mrs. Summers, welcome to New
      York. I wish your first visit here had been under better
      circumstances."

      ----

      end Chapter 7, go on to Chapter 8....



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