First, yes, I did post part 7a/12, but it doesn't seem to have gone
through yet. In an effort to avoid flooding mailboxes, I'll wait
another few hours before reposting it.
CHILDREN of the MIDDLE WATERS 8
Notes: Again, thanks go to Cyclops&Phoenix for info and assistance,
especially medical info and an education in Air Force rank As for
the professor's connections to the FBI, while the film didn't give
any indication that he had them, he did have them in the comics, so
I've chosen to borrow from that. As established elsewhere in my
stories, 'Scott' is Cyclops' middle name, but he's been using it
since high school, so after that many years, I think his parents
would be used to calling him Scott, at least most of the time.
Chris and Kate Summers ... aren't the same characters we find in the
comics, and neither is Alex for that matter. Chris is a good deal
more conservative, but there are some aspects of his personality
which I've tried to maintain, including a certain love of risk-taking
and a pragmatic turn of mind. Kate and Chris did have marital
problems at one point, although both boys were much younger.
Obviously, I tweaked it to suit myself, just as I've had to tweak
other things in order to maintain a few important details about Chris
Summers' background, including his time as a POW in �Nam. Here,
obviously, he was much younger and not yet married. In my time line,
Scott couldn't have been born much before 1979 or 1980.
Dead on her feet, Jean Grey collapsed into a chair of the corner ICU
room she'd commandeered for Scott. Quite a bit of finagling, that,
to get a room on an exterior wall facing east so that he had the
direct morning sun �- all without explaining *why*. The less said
about the details of his mutation, the better. Even if she'd never
figured out precisely how his body did what it did, he *fed* on
sunlight, which helped his healing process. When he was this far
down, the smallest thing could make all the difference in the world.
After a long night without the sun, he needed it most in the morning.
"I'm not going to lose you," she whispered, almost angry. Looking
away and blinking rapidly, she fought for control -� a control she'd
learned from him. She didn't have to be his lover to love him still.
"I need you, dammit. Charles needs you. The kids need you. Your
*son* needs you. Don't you dare die on us."
Not that he was conscious enough to hear her admonitions, or would
ever willingly give up on anything, especially life. She probably
should have been ashamed of the futility of the words but there was a
point past which fear could push a person until absurdity ceased to
matter. So she sat in a chair by the window �- blinds pulled back as
far as she could get them -� and spoke to the half-obscured and very
pale face of the man in the bed. The machines were loud with hisses
and beeps, and even though she could name them all and explain
precisely what they did, seeing them hooked up to him hurt. It was
too personal a violation, and that made her angry �- not at the
machines themselves. She was angry at the ones who'd made it
necessary, the ones who'd shot him so full of holes that he couldn't
breathe without an endotrachial tube pushed down his throat into his
lungs. Hiss and snap, hiss and snap as the ventilator regulated the
draw of oxygen into his body. He had a nasogastric tube down his
esophagus into his stomach, an A-line directly into his heart with a
monitor attached, two drain tubes out of his chest, a Foley catheter
in his bladder, and the various, ubiquitous IVs. It was grotesque
and dehumanizing. She'd never before realized just how much.
But it was better than the sterile cold of an icebox, which was where
he'd have been this morning, alongside the boy he'd tried to save, if
not for Grace's mutant gift.
It had been bad enough to owe Grace for her own life. Now, she owed
her for Scott, as well. But the Indian woman couldn't have done it
without Jean, and Victor, too, just as before, she'd needed the X-Men
in order to save Jean. It had, Jean supposed, been a team effort.
Scott would tell her that was what the X-Men were about: a team, a
family. And one didn't have to like every member of a family to rely
on them, even to love them. Certainly Scott and Logan proved that,
though they'd started out acting far sillier in their mutual
antagonism than Jean and Grace ever had.
So last night, she and Grace had relied on one another. *Heal the
liver*, Jean had told Grace when she'd met her in the scrub room, to
help her dress for OR. They'd spoken telepathically, lest anyone
overhear: *The liver is the most critically wounded right now, and
the least likely to be obvious.*
*I can't be that specific,* Grace had said. *I don't heal by sight;
I do it by feel -� what feels out of whack �- and right now,
everything in his body feels that way. I can tell even from out
Jean had jerked around to stare. But of course Grace would work in a
different fashion from a physician. With Scott wounded in so many
places, Grace wouldn't be able to pick out one internal organ easily.
So Jean had replied, *All right, I'll show you what to do.*
And that was how they'd saved him. Jean's knowledge conveyed
directly into Grace's own mind, combined with Grace's mutant healing
gift and Victor's enormous raw power. Touch and go for while there,
in part because it had to be done so carefully and covertly. The
professor's illusions worked better if they were based on reality.
So Grace had dressed up as a doctor with her brother for an
assistant, and she'd been given a cauterizing laser to hold while she
and Jean had linked together like two halves of one whole: telepathy
and empathy, with Victor -� who was a little of both -� as support.
Now Scott's liver was as good as new and Grace had effected some
healing in the lungs, as well. He wouldn't need the ventilator for
long. It was operating at the moment mostly to keep the collapsed
lung re-inflated. In fact, the worst injury Scott currently had -�
aside from general effects of extended trauma -� was the repair to
his intestines and the extensive incision made for the surgery
itself. That incision couldn't be healed quickly. They had to get
him stabilized enough for Jean to risk transporting him back to the
mansion, where Grace could finish the job. So any healing must
continue in small bouts, beginning with the deep wounds -� things not
easily seen but which affected his overall recovery. As Jean and
Hank continued to be his primary physicians, there was less to hide
from fewer people.
The doctor in Jean wondered why they should hide Grace's gifts at
all. How precious it was, how potentially salvatory in a hospital
crowded with people in pain. The girl wouldn't have to manage
complete cures, just a little tweak here and there -� things medicine
couldn't do. The lives it could save . . . like Scott's. Why should
they have the advantage of her talent, but not the other families who
arrived in the emergency room only to be told their loved one was
gone forever? Jean was a doctor; she hated to lose a battle against
But she was also a pragmatist, and she'd touched Grace's mind . . .
she understood why it had to be this way. It cost Grace even to set
foot in a hospital rank with the miasma of agony, and Jean's respect
for her had (reluctantly) shot up a notch or two. Grace was tough,
and Jean -� survivor of a Ph.D. program and residency both -� admired
tough. Nonetheless, Grace wouldn't survive a week in a hospital
without going insane. Unlike Jean, to utilize her gift, she couldn't
employ shields. Jean's telepathy was to her advantage, but she
lacked the depth of empathy that would have made life as a physician
intolerable. By contrast, Grace felt everything. Moreover, the
healing side of her gift simply wasn't that strong. The drain on
her, day after day, would kill her, even assuming her sanity could
survive it. As astonishing as her healing gift might be, it was
limited. And Jean knew all too well the lengths to which people
would go, when desperate for a cure. If word of Grace's mutant power
got out, the girl would be hounded to death. They had to protect
her; it was that simple. They had, Jean supposed, become her tribe,
and John Proudstar had once said that in a tribe, the medicine people
were the most protected of all.
With her head resting on the back of the chair, she'd almost gone to
sleep, lulled by the regular hiss of the ventilator. Abruptly, the
room's glass door opened wide to admit the professor, followed by a
middle-aged couple whom Jean recognized immediately from pictures, if
not from ever meeting them in the flesh. Slightly shocked, she
jerked to her feet.
"Colonel and Mrs. Summers!"
". . . and this," the professor was saying, "is Dr. Jean Grey."
But she wasn't their interest. They barely noticed her on their way
to the bed where their first born lay, wounded almost to death.
Whatever the minefield of their past interaction with him, here, now,
they were parents. Scott's mother ran a hand over his hair in a
classic maternal gesture, though she had to reach past tubes and
monitors to do so. Then she laid her hand over his bandaged eyes.
"Is he going to be okay? Was he blinded, too?"
*I have spoken with them only a little, Jean,* the professor said
into her head, *and I am not a physician. They need the reassurance
of his doctor.*
Shaking off her surprise, Jean gripped her hands together behind her
back and approached the side of the bed where Chris Summers stood,
his arms crossed and his feet splayed in a posture that so reminded
her of his son that she nearly lost her composure. But she swallowed
and forced herself to nod towards Scott. "His eyes are fine. We
bandaged them in case he woke disoriented and opened them without
"So he will wake up?" his mother asked.
"He's survived the night, and the surgery, so his chances are very
good." She decided not to bring up Grace. Scott had told her that
his parents still didn't know about the Indian woman, or that she and
he had broken up. "He suffered some extensive internal damage and
lost a lot of blood. But it's nothing that can't be healed. He's
young, he's strong, and he's healthy."
"He's also a rather stubborn young man." It was said fondly by
Katherine Summers shot her husband a glance. "I wouldn't know where
he got that trait."
"He has a great deal to live for," Xavier added. Jean watched as
Scott's parents glanced in her direction, their eyes moving down to
"You've had a long night," Christopher Summers began, "are you sure
you should be here �- ?"
"I'm fine." She smiled to take the sharp edge off her interruption.
"I've had an easy time of it so far; there's no need to worry."
"She's pregnant, Chris, not ill. Pregnancy is a perfectly natural
condition �- not that you were ever around to know."
One of Ororo's lightning bolts couldn't have electrified the room
more. "There was a war, Kate. The cold war. And it was a long time
ago; this isn't the place."
"Of course not." *It's never the place, or the time.* That last
comment hung unspoken in the woman's mind. Splendid, Jean thought,
and ironic. Scott's parents were having marital problems, too. She
glanced at Xavier, who shook his head minutely.
"The two of you might like some time alone with him," Jean said.
"I'll be right outside at the nurses' station. I need to make some
entries into his chart. Please call me if you have any questions."
And she followed the professor out.
Before the door snicked closed, she heard from Colonel Summers, "Did
you have to start in again here, Mary Kate?"
Jean didn't say anything until they were halfway down the hall. "I
didn't expect them to come." She couldn't keep the bitterness out of
"He is their son, and his parents do love him."
"Funny way they have of showing it sometimes."
"I didn't say the family dynamics were healthy, Jean, but it was
clear from the moment they arrived that they were terrified for him.
Colonel Summers flew them out here as soon as they were informed of
his condition." He paused and glanced back at her over his shoulder.
"You should know as well as I do that Scott's . . . issues . . .
with his parents aren't entirely one-sided."
They'd reached the nurses station and she ducked in to fetch Scott's
chart out of the honeycomb of slots, returned to the entrance and
flipped it open on the counter edge. Without looking at the
professor, she said, "I know. He told me he was a little rebellious
in high school."
Xavier chuckled. "'A little rebellious' is putting a light spin on
it, I fear."
"Basically," said a new voice, "he chose to believe the opposite of
whatever I believed."
Jean started and dropped the pen, turned to see Christopher Summers
standing there, hands behind his back. Xavier was regarding him with
mild amusement. "He wasn't a bad kid," Scott's father continued.
"He didn't get into trouble in the usual ways, and his teachers
always told us he was 'a joy to have in class.'" He made it sound
bitter almost without trying. "Too bad he wasn't a joy to have at
"Maybe if you hadn't tried to force-feed him your religious and
political views �- "
"Jean," the professor snapped.
"No," Chris Summers said, "that's all right." He considered her
thoughtfully. "I don't believe in make-nice conversations. That's
one thing Scott and I do see eye-to-eye about. Ms. Grey, I believed
then -� and still believe -� that it's my duty as a parent to teach
my sons right from wrong. You'll understand that very soon. You
don't let a kid go ride his bike down the middle of the damn highway
just because he wants to. As a parent, you know all the dangers; you
protect them. And you give them a proper set of ethics."
"Scott is one of the most *ethical* and unselfish men I know," she
bit out. "He almost got himself killed last night because of his
*ethics*, because he cared about a boy he didn't know from Adam!
Because he believed that trying to help people is more important than
his own safety!"
Scott's father had turned his attention to the professor. He had a
hard stare, like Jean had always imagined Scott's would be, if she
could see it. "Actually," he said, "I came out here because I'd like
to hear exactly what my son -� who has no military or police training
�- was doing in that building in the first place, much less without a
flak-jacket? Who in hell put him up to that?" The expression on his
face made it clear that he already had a good idea, and held Xavier
personally responsible. Jean was hyper-conscious of the nurses at
the station in the background, trying to listen in without appearing
to do so.
Xavier and Summers continued to eye one another for several minutes,
then Xavier said, "If you would be willing to forego the answer to
that question for a brief time, I can promise you a full
'Full' explanation? Jean swallowed her shock; surely he didn't mean
what she thought he meant. Revealing the existence of the X-Men to a
pilot of the USAF Strategic Air Command, even if he was retired and
father to the X-Men's field leader, seemed like a very, very bad
idea. Scott had always been extremely careful in what he told his
parents. All they knew was that he taught math to mutant students at
the private school to which he'd gone himself. That was more already
than the average person knew.
"Right now," Xavier was saying, "I must see to the paperwork for
Scott's admission and insurance, as I am his employer and have power
Jean could sense that didn't sit well with Scott's father, that a
'stranger' from his perspective had legal control over his son's
affairs. He eyed her. "Shouldn't you be doing that, as his
And how in hell should she answer? Xavier came to her rescue, "Dr.
Grey has more important things to do, just at the moment. If you'll
excuse me?" And he left them.
Suddenly uncomfortable with this man who moved and spoke entirely too
much like Scott, and yet was so different, Jean turned her attention
back to the chart, hoping he might go away. He didn't. He waited
for her to finish her notes. It gave her time to collect herself
somewhat. When she was done, she returned the chart to its cubbyhole
and then faced him. He wasted no time. "Will he live?"
Like Scott, this wasn't a man who'd appreciate being coddled. "As I
told you and your wife earlier, his chances are very good."
"But not certain."
"In all honesty, Colonel Summers, I didn't expect him to survive the
surgery. But he did. Every hour that passes is a victory."
"In less poetic terms, please, doctor. How long until he's out of
"I imagine he'll be downgraded from critical to stable at the end of
forty-eight hours. But there are several other things that we're
going to have to watch for. His intestines were punctured, so we'll
have to worry about peritonitis, and his lung cavity was compromised
as well, with a collapsed right lung, so anoxia is a danger. And in
about a week, we'll witness a breakdown of the transfused blood, so
he'll have severe jaundice and he may even require dialysis and
additional transfusions. Not to mention that the chest tube drains
will be in for a week. We're still a long way inside the proverbial
He nodded and looked off thoughtfully, but before he could say
anything else, Jean saw EJ Haight coming down the hall. He'd changed
his top since the last time Jean had seen him, when he'd been outside
the apartment building, covered in Scott's blood. Somebody must have
brought him something from the mansion -� it was a school sweatshirt.
His pants, though, were still a blood-streaked mess. She embraced
him, hard, as he walked up. "You okay?" he asked quietly.
"I will be. How about you, Eeej?"
"Xavier said I could see him." He seemed only then to notice Scott's
father, and offered the man a hand to shake. "Colonel."
Summers took it. "EJ. It's been a long time."
Neither said more than that, and their posture made it clear that no
little tension existed between them. Jean didn't know the details of
it, or even when EJ might have met Scott's father, but it was easy
enough to extrapolate. EJ had always been in Scott's corner, and
Scott had repeatedly turned to EJ's father, not his own, for advice
when he'd needed it.
Just now, EJ was speaking to her. "Can I see him? I know I'm not
family but -� he's my brother."
She sighed, but nodded. "I'll let you in myself. The nurses aren't
likely to argue with me. His mother's with him, too."
A bit belatedly, EJ glanced at Scott's father. "Do you mind? I know
they only let in two at a time. I just want a few minutes."
The colonel nodded. "Go ahead. Speaking of brothers, I have a phone
call that I need to make." And he turned on his heel to walk away.
"Man," EJ muttered, watching the man go, "I wonder if Slim has any
idea how much he moves like his dad?"
Jean snorted softly, then dissolved into giggles. It hadn't been
that funny, but the tension of the past hours undid her. When the
giggles turned into tears, EJ wrapped her up and rocked her a little
as she sobbed. He was crying, too. Now that the crisis was past,
she supposed they were both permitted to fall apart for a few
minutes, be just worried friends instead of the physician, or the one
who had to ride herd on a waiting-room full of anxious teenagers.
After a minute, she pushed back a little, her hands on his upper
arms, and he loosened his hold. "He's going to look terrible," she
warned him. "He lost a lot of blood, and we have him hooked up to
just about every machine under the sun. It's disconcerting, when
people �- "
"He looked terrible last time I saw him, too," EJ interrupted. "I'd
rather see him with tubes in him than with his blood all over the
sidewalk and coming out his mouth while he choked on it."
Nodding, she wiped her eyes and tried to avoid smearing mascara.
"Let's go." And she walked him down the hall with an arm around his
They found Katherine Summers still sitting at Scott's bedside,
holding his hand in one of hers, and praying the rosary with the
other. Jean wasn't sure what Scott would think of that, though she'd
caught him a few times �- when he was deeply upset -� muttering to
himself, "Hail Mary, full of grace . . . ." Not that he'd admit to
such a thing, but some aspects of childhood never wore off. Scott
would always be a Catholic even while he fought the Church, tooth,
nail and claw. Jean had long ago concluded that being Catholic
constituted a way of life in a completely different manner from being
Protestant. So she smiled a little, to see his mother praying for
him, and she knew that although a part of him would hate it, another
part would understand.
EJ left her side to kneel by Kate Summers' chair and say the rosary
with her. He might be a Baptist, but he was a preacher's son and an
educated man. Kate smiled, though her eyes remained closed, and she
laid the hand that held the rosary on EJ's head for a moment, like a
blessing or a benediction. Jean stood by the door and felt awkward.
When she'd been growing up, her father had liked to say that people
made their own miracles, and they'd be a lot better off getting down
to business in a crisis than getting down on their knees. That was
part of what had made her a doctor, and then an X-Woman. She
couldn't sit by and wait. And yet, to be fair, she'd never seen EJ
wring his hands or cool his heels, either, and she knew that was why
he and Scott got along despite the fact that EJ *believed*, and Scott
was an agnostic, on a good day. She'd never heard Scott belittle
EJ's faith, as he was occasionally wont to do with others. Scott's
problem with religion concerned what he saw as the hypocrisy of too
many who practiced it. He detested hypocrisy in himself, and reviled
it in others. Very little made him angrier than fear or hatred
parading as belief, and he couldn't abide patriotism linked to
religion. He refused on principle to say "under God" in the pledge
of allegiance, but she'd seen him fume when someone left out a flag
in a rainstorm or dropped it on the ground. "People go off about
disrespecting the flag, but they don't have a damn *clue* how to
treat it properly!" He was funny that way. Military brat that he
was, he kept the school's flag folded in triangles, always had it
brought in at sunset, and had burned the old one when it had grown
too frayed -� much to the shock of some students who hadn't realized
that was what one was *supposed* to do. He was the most religious
areligious man whom Jean knew.
Kate Summers' voice murmured quietly, and the morning sun had walked
its way off Scott's bed, retreating to the chair under the window.
Tired again, Jean crossed to sink down into it. Her movement caught
EJ's attention and he glanced her way, then rose to come join her.
"How long is he going to be like that?" he asked.
"You mean hooked up to all the machines?"
"Yeah. I can't even fucking tell if there's a person under all the
machinery." He sounded furious, but she knew it wasn't with her.
Both of them were angry at the same thing: the ones who'd put Scott
"As I told his father, it'll be about a week before he'll be
stabilized enough to have him moved to the mansion. From there," she
spoke more softly, "Grace can take over, unhindered, and he may be
back on his feet in a matter of days."
EJ nodded tightly and returned to the bedside, reached out to grip
his unconscious friend's hand. "You hear that, brother? You just
gotta hang in there a little longer."
The room had been quiet enough that Scott's mother had overheard what
Jean had said, despite the lowering of her voice. Now, she rose up
and came over. Once, she must have been classically pretty with a
soft face, straight nose, and the shocking-blue eyes that she'd
bequeathed to both her sons, even if Jean had never seen Scott's
outside pictures. But age and the strain of being an Air Force
officer's wife had put lines in her cream skin and steel in her gaze.
"What do you mean, that you're moving him back to your mansion in a
week? I may not be a nurse, but even I can tell that he won't be
ready to leave a hospital by that point."
"There are certain advantages that we can offer to Scott, at
Westchester �- "
"Including round-the-clock nursing? Trained doctors? Forgive me,
Ms. Grey, but I'd understood your specialty was *genetics*. I can't
see how that will help my son much. I'd prefer him to be treated by
a trained surgeon. Surely your private school has provided him
sufficient insurance to cover the cost?" A touch of acid, in that.
*Careful, careful*, Jean cautioned herself. Mary Kate Summers was
not a foolish woman, and right now, all her instincts as a mother
were at fever pitch. She alone of Scott's immediate family had kept
open the lines of communication between Scott and the rest of them.
Jean had never much liked how she'd treated him, but when all was
said and done, she'd remained his mother, been unwilling to let him
go or throw him away, as some parents had done to their mutant
Noting the tension, EJ had come over to join them, and now laid a
hand on Katherine Summers' shoulder as Jean licked her lips and
resisted the urge to stand up. She didn't want to tower over the
other woman. "As I said, Mrs. Summers, we have certain advantages at
Westchester. There are many kinds of mutations." She glanced at EJ,
who just nodded as if to say, 'You may as well tell her.' "Some of
those mutations include healing. At Westchester, Scott will be able
to recover much faster than he could, in a hospital."
A brief silence followed as the older woman processed that. "You're
telling me," she said finally, "that you have a mutant healer?
Someone who can heal him? Where is that person? Why can't they take
care of it right here, right now �- !"
"She already did!" Jean cut her off. "She saved Scott's life."
Then she took a breath and tried to marshal her thoughts to explain.
"She's just not strong enough to do more. She's currently
unconscious from the strain."
"Gracie's her name," EJ put in. "Like Jean said, she saved Scott's
life." Even if he'd foregone a formal pastoral route, he'd inherited
his father's calming voice and steady presence. "He got shot up too
badly. He'd be dead right now, if not for her. But she can't do it
all instantly. It don't work that way."
Jean sent a silent 'Thank you' into EJ's head as she watched Scott's
mother chew over their words. It was clear that Kate Summers knew
they weren't telling her everything, but for now, she appeared
willing to accept a half-truth. Jean breathed a sigh of relief.
God, how she loathed dealing with families. DNA helixes didn't talk
back or argue with medical orders. She could tell already that with
Scott's family here, it was going to be an interesting week. And
neither she nor Scott had tried yet to explain that she was carrying
Scott's child, but wasn't going to be Scott's wife.
Something else to look forward to.
"What the hell do you mean you don't have time to come? Your brother
is hanging by a thread in the goddamn hospital! You get your ass out
Jean had just left Scott's room and was headed back to the waiting
room. The voice, which she recognized as Christopher Summers', was
coming from the little bank of public phones near the main bathrooms.
She knew she shouldn't eavesdrop, but she slowed her walk in any
"I know all that. Tell your professor that it's a family emergency.
If he wants proof, give him the number of that school Scott works for
and let him call! But I want you out here on the next plane; your
mother needs you. This is not a matter up for debate, Alexander."
And the phone was slammed down. Jean hurried on her way before she
Life just got better and better. Not only would Scott wake to find
his parents here, but to find his brother, as well. Wouldn't he be
Continued DIRECTLY in part 8b/12
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