CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (9b/12 - NEW) ensemble [Heyoka II]
- Continuing direction from part 9a/12.....
"So how long until we can take him home?" Ro asked as she seated
herself beside Grace at a corner table in the cafeteria near a big,
artificial silk Ficus tree. It was suppertime and the place was
"Hank still thinks it'll be another three or four days," EJ replied
as he dumped three packages of sugar into his coffee and stirred it.
"Having a little black bean with your sugar, man?" Victor asked.
EJ just grinned. Now that Scott was conscious again, he was in high
spirits. After Grace had emerged to tell them all the news, Hank had
gone back to examine him, and then let in EJ and the professor for a
few minutes, to bring him his sleeping goggles. Xavier had been
carrying them around in a pocket "for when he needs them." Xavier's
own talisman against the unspeakable.
Now, Scott was sleeping once more, and Hank had taken the professor
home to the mansion. Grace's latest healing had pushed Scott over
the hump and Hank seemed to think a round-the-clock medical vigil no
longer necessary. "Anyway," EJ said now, "Scott's out of real danger
at last, but Hank's going to leave him in ICU for another day or two,
to make it look good, then maybe move him to a room on a floor. He
doesn't want to transfer him to the mansion until they take out the
drain tubes, and they don't dare take those out for another three or
four days, or it'll seem suspicious."
"How much can you do at once?" Ro asked Grace, who'd been listening
to EJ talk while she wolfed down a large dinner. Healing made her
"I am not sure," she said around a bite of ham and cheese sandwich.
"It is harder to work like this, healing only a little at a time.
Before, I have always done it at once. If I couldn't, it came
unraveled. Now . . . " she trailed off, trying to describe how this
was different, what she had learned to do with Scott. "It is like
reaching the end of your beading for the day and sealing off the band
until you can start again in the morning. The professor thinks it is
good training. Instead of draining myself completely and being
useless for days after, I do a little and stop, let myself recover,
then do a little more. It is less dramatic, but in the long run, it
is faster." She took another bite, chewed, and added, "I'd be able
to do more tonight, but Henry thinks I should wait for tomorrow, or
Scott will appear to get better too quickly."
When they'd finished up supper, they all headed back to the ICU. As
they approached the waiting room, EJ's pace slowed and he muttered,
"Well, I'll be damned."
Two men stood in the hall, obviously ill at ease with each other.
The taller and younger of the two slouched with arms crossed, glaring
at the floor as the elder scolded him about something Grace couldn't
hear. And if the elder had Scott's posture and gestures and high
cheekbones, the younger . . . .
His coloring was different -� lighter -� the hair a dark blond, and
the skin a translucent peaches and cream. And he was taller. But
otherwise, Grace was looking at a younger version of Scott without
glasses. Only the nose was different, more arched, and the dimple in
the chin was deeper.
"Alex?" EJ asked as he approached, as if he doubted the other's
presence despite the evidence of his eyes.
Frowning, the blond Scott-clone glanced up. "Long time, no see, EJ."
His resentment and anger were a gray-brown cloud of angry bees
buzzing about him, eclipsing Grace's sense of the older man, who must
obviously be Christopher Summers, Scott's father.
"When did you get in?" EJ asked, coming to a halt a couple feet from
Alex, hands on his hips, lips thinned by displeasure. EJ was no
happier to see Alex than Alex was to be there. "How long are you
"Ready to see the back of me as soon as possible, huh?" Alex asked.
"That's enough," the elder man snapped.
"Well?" Alex asked, sullen. "I don't see why you made me come out
here. Mike's going to be fine, and he's got EJ here already. It's
not like he needs me, and I've got analyses to run on a new set of
rock core samples for my advisor."
"Sweet mother of God," EJ snarled, "Is it possible for you to be any
*more* of a jerk, Alex? And it's 'Scott,' not 'Mike.' He's gone by
Scott for how many years now? If his own mother can get used to it,
I don't see why you can't, Blondie."
Alex didn't reply, just glared back, and Grace traded a look with
Victor. *Not a lot of love lost there, ain't it?,* Victor said into
her head, disgusted. He couldn't bespeak most people, but he could
bespeak her. The ties of blood and similar power.
Reaching out, Grace took his hand and squeezed. *The wasicun don't
*Some do. And some Indians act like they got no family, ain't it?*
Victor was silent for a moment, then tilted his head to the side.
*He's afraid to be here. Can you feel it? He's more than angry �-
he's scared of something.*
Grace hadn't been paying attention, but now she did. *You may be
right,* she sent, but found it difficult to focus on Alex. Her
attention was directed further up the hall, towards his brother.
*Go on,* Victor said. *You're only about half here when you're not
with him. You may as well go.*
So she left them in the hall and slipped back into the ICU. When she
reached Scott's room, she found that he was still asleep, but he
wasn't alone. An older woman who surely had to be his mother was
sitting at the bedside. Grace had already gathered that, for
whatever reason, the fifteen-minute visitor limit wasn't strictly
enforced with Scott. The woman glanced around at the sound of
Grace's squeaky rubber soles on waxed hospital floor. "Who are you?"
It wasn't hostile, quite. More tired, and maybe a bit overwhelmed.
"My name is Grace." She opened her mouth to say more, but then
closed it, unsure. Ororo had warned her that Scott's parents still
didn't know who she was; no one, even Jean, had felt it her place to
explain the break-up. "I work at the school where Scott works."
"Grace . . . . You're the healer?"
So someone had told the woman that much, at least. "Yes, I'm the
Scott's mother moved back, to give Grace access to the bed. "You
came to do more?"
"Not now, no. I have done all today that I can do." The other woman
looked skeptical. "He can't be seen to heal too fast," she added.
"Too suspicious, Mom."
It wasn't Grace's reply, and Scott's mother whipped around towards
the bed, losing all interest in Grace. "How are you feeling, honey?"
"Tired." His voice was stronger than it had been earlier, and he had
his goggles on so he could see, which made him seem less helpless,
but he was a little silly with pain medication and his speech was
slurred. "Got bees buzzing �round up here. In my head." Grace
edged around to the bed's other side as his mother stroked his face.
"You came," he added.
"Of course we came. Your father flew us out as soon as we heard."
Relief, joy, and the raw devotion a son brings to loving his mother,
however estranged, welled up in him. If he could have shed tears
with his eyes open, he'd have been crying. "Thanks."
"You're our child, Scott. It was you who left home."
"Maybe at first. You didn't have to stay away. I've told you that
A pause. "Don' wanna argue."
She was still stroking his hair. "Neither do I."
Grace felt like a voyeur; this moment should have been private. But
Scott turned his attention from his mother to her, and smiled a
little. "Hey, pretty Sioux woman. Come'ere." He opened his palm on
the white bed sheets, too weak even to hold out his hand.
Coming forward, she took it, felt warm skin over aching pain beneath.
She blocked the pain and focused on his satisfaction instead. He
had his mother and his woman, and he was alive when, by all rights,
he shouldn't have been. He didn't have much to complain about, and
he grinned at her with the pure joy of survival. She grinned back.
Their fingers laced.
His mother was studying her with interest. It wasn't hard for the
woman to see there was a bit more here than mere gratitude on his
part, even without an empathic gift. Mothers had extra senses when
it came to their children. "Scott?" she said, let his name be the
question. He turned his head back, and what could be seen of his
face showed a drugged perplexity. Realizing that he hadn't followed,
his mother elaborated, "You want to introduce your friend?" There
was the slightest hesitation, the slightest emphasis on the last
"Oh! Yeah. Duh, well, uh -� you 'member I called last month? Told
you �bout the baby?"
"Considering the stir you caused, I don't think I could forget." Her
expression suddenly turned sour. "Your brother's fianc�e left him,
"Not my fault. Dummy lied to her. I'd leave 'im, too." Drugs made
him uncommonly blunt.
His mother sighed. "I think you could have handled it better. Your
brother is here, by the way. And he's not happy about it."
"Oh, gee, yippee." He stopped and just breathed a minute, clutched
his pillow against his chest. The nurse who'd brought him pain
medication earlier had given him the little pillow to hold, should he
need to cough. It would help ease the pain a bit. Now, he went on,
"Since Alex told everybody I's dead, must be mad I didn' die. Like
an episode of "Twilight Zone." Du-de-du-du, du-de-du-du. I'm the
brother who won' stay dead." If the words were silly, the ache
beneath was serious, and worse than the physical pain. It coursed
through Grace. Scott would be a long time forgiving Alex for that.
"Honey, he was afraid."
"So? He think no brother's better than a mutant brother?"
"Stop it," Grace told Scott. "You said you didn't want to fight."
He glanced at her, irritated, but the medication prevented him from
becoming angry, and he was too drained anyway. Emotional upset cost
energy he didn't have. "Tell her the rest," Grace prompted.
He sighed. "The whole thing with Alex kinda distracted me. I didn'
get t'tell you all of it."
His mother's expression had gone back to thoughtful, the long eyes
half-lidded as she considered Grace's hand in Scott's. "And the rest
"Jean and I are gonna have the baby, Mom, but we broke up, too. The
baby . . . it was, uh, kinda an accident. Surprise package." He
snorted in amusement, then mouthed 'ow' and pushed the pillow against
A complex knot of confusion and disappointment made his mother less
than sympathetic. "Since you aren't married to her, I'd assumed it
was an accident, regardless."
Which elicited an answering annoyance from Scott, mixed with a good
dose of hurt. "Why'd I know you'd say that? Do I get the lecture
next 'bout the sin of cohabitation?"
"That's enough. You know how I feel about it." She didn't approve,
but she was trying to keep her cool, Grace thought. "I won't lie to
you. And I'm *worried*, Scott."
He took a careful breath. "Don' be. We're gonna raise him together.
But I didn't wanna hate Jean. I hated her and I didn't want to, so
we broke up." That hadn't made a great deal of sense, but explaining
the complex was a little beyond him at the moment. "A baby shouldn'
have parents who hate each other," he added. His voice was getting
weaker, so he subsided to catch his breath and his mother didn't
reply. Instead, she stared at the floor, her face a mixture of
disapproval and regret as she struggled to come to terms with his
news, not engage in pointless bouts of recrimination. Scott remained
silent from sheer exhaustion. Grace watched him fight to keep his
eyes open, but his grip on her hand had loosened and all it took was
a little nudge from her power to slide him back into sleep.
"He's out," she said quietly.
The older woman raised her eyes. "What's your role in all this?"
"I was the straw that broke the camel's back." Grace faced her
across Scott's sleeping form, a tendril power *keeping* Scott asleep.
Now that he'd broken the ice, Grace could handle the rest.
"So he's living with you now?"
"No," Grace replied. "And though it's none of your business, we
haven't slept together yet, either." She should be more respectful
to a woman her mother's age, but she had a difficult time doing so
here. Katherine Summers loved her son, but she was also
strong-minded, opinionated, and bitter about things that had nothing
to do with Scott, yet that bitterness edged into everything and
tainted it, curled the edges like a dying plant.
"Scott and Jean's relationship was already in trouble when I arrived
at the mansion. " Grace shrugged with one shoulder. "Scott and I
began as friends; we thought alike. We wound up in love with each
other for . . . a lot of reasons. And no -� he never cheated on
Jean." Never mind that kiss in the garage between them, the day
Logan had returned. That evening had been the final throws of a
dying affair. "Life ain't always neat and tied up with a bow."
A hard laugh was her answer to that. "Definitely not." Then, "Do
you love him?"
"Yes." It wasn't a wild, passionate love, but it was real �- as
quiet and certain as spring, as solid as the World Tree that held
together the universe. And that suited them both. "We understand
The older woman rose from the chair with a creak of fake leather and
walked across to the window, stared out into the lights of New York.
"Two engaged sons," she said finally, "and both engagements failed.
But Alex didn't leave his fianc�e pregnant. I'd have expected better
of Scott. He was always the responsible one."
"He still is. But accidents happen."
"He might have been better off if he'd chosen a woman his own age to
begin with -� and not one who treated him as if she were mingling
with the commoners by seeing him."
And that, Grace thought, was the heart of Kate Summers' dislike of
Jean Grey: plebeian versus patrician.
"She didn't see it that way," Grace said, surprised to hear herself
defending her rival. But she believed in speaking the truth. "Jean
loved him, and still does." She could feel the resistance in the
older woman to that. She didn't want to like Jean any more than
Grace did. "You said that he was always the responsible one," Grace
went on after a moment. "But don't you see that he's trying to do
the right thing here, too? The responsible thing? Even if you can't
approve of his choices, at least you can approve of the fact he's
trying to be responsible about it. A lot of men would of run away."
Scott's mother didn't turn, but she watched Grace's reflection in the
windowpane. "Maybe in the end, that's the best truce we can reach."
"Maybe it is."
" Heyla, *wichinchala*. Howya doin'?"
"Logan!" Gracie jumped up to hug him. She hadn't seen him since the
night he and Ro had picked her up. He hugged her back, half-lifting
her off the ground. He always felt so solid. It was more than the
metal on his bones. It was the feel of the earth in him, the smell
of tobacco on his skin, the bear bristle of his sideburns. She let
him go. "How is Dani?"
"Doing good. She and Sam Guthrie hit it off like old friends. You
couldn't pry those two apart with a crowbar."
Grace laughed at that, trying to imagine the gangly Appalachian boy
with the tall, muscular Indian girl. But she supposed it made sense.
If anyone else at the mansion could understand reservation poverty,
it was Sam. "Has she heard from her baby's father?"
His eyebrows hopped. "Not that I know of. Was she expecting to?"
"Hoping, I think," Grace replied. They sat down together again on a
bench outside the cafeteria, where Gracie had come to have a
cigarette. She might be trying to quit, but she hadn't entirely
managed yet. Logan took out a cigar and joined her. "What do you
think of her, Logan?"
"Dani?" Logan glanced up in the midst of lighting his cigar, then
shook out the match and took a drag, considering. "Not sure how you
mean." He let out smoke with the words.
"The spirits led me to her." She could say that to Logan and know it
wouldn't elicit amusement. "The professor sent me out there to find
those other children, but the spirits meant me to find her, bring her
back. She *feels* just like Scott, Logan. You were complaining that
the younger team didn't have a clear, standout leader. She'll be
He wrinkled his nose, thoughtful. "Mmm. Y'know, Guthrie's been
edging to join the team, too. And even Neal Sharra, though I think
he hasn't decided yet if he wants to stay here or go home to Delhi
when he graduates. But Sam . . . and Dani. They'd be a good pair to
match for training, once she drops that kid. They're about the same
height. Mostly, I matched girls with girls for reasons of weight and
reach, but Dani could take Sam. As for the rest . . . . " He took
another drag. "We'll see. It's still early yet to talk about who'll
be leader. She's settling in, but she ain't settled yet, Sam or no
Sam. Your spirits may be talking to you, but I'm not sure they're
talking to her, ain't it?"
She nodded, then grinned. "You have been hanging out with Vic and me
too much, Logan. You're starting to sound like an Indian."
He laughed, as a new voice said, "Well, if this is the Indian corner,
I guess I should join you."
Grace looked around to find Colonel Summers standing there. He
seated himself on a bench across from her and Logan and took out a
pipe. "Logan, I know," he said. "But you must be Grace? I'm
Scott's father." He offered her his hand -� the one not holding the
pipe. She shook it. Like his son, he was as solid as a rock, a man
with little patience for nonsense, and although Alex might resemble
Scott more in looks, this man *felt* more like Scott.
Logan was watching Summers with ill-concealed suspicion. "Jean told
me that Chuck offered you an advisory position with the team." He
wasn't saying �X-Men' out where anyone passing on the sidewalk might
The colonel's eyes flicked up. They were black, black. "And did she
tell you that I turned him down, too?"
"She mentioned that."
Scott's father went back to trying to light the pipe. "I'm not
staying unless Scott's consulted." The tobacco caught finally and he
puffed at it to get it burning, then pulled the stem from his mouth.
"It's Scott's team. Xavier doesn't know shit about field command, if
he's jumping over heads. An REMF running the show. Damn. Classic
set-up for a clusterfuck."
Logan laughed at that. "He tries."
"Trying isn't good enough when there are human lives on the line."
When it was his son's life; but he wasn't saying that. "It worries
"It worries me, too. Scott's got talent, but not much experience."
Chris Summers just nodded, too pragmatic to be offended. Grace
studied his flat profile. He wasn't beautiful like Scott. He had a
big nose and small, down-slanted black eyes in a seamed face with a
prominent chin, high cheekbones . . . . She stopped and blinked
twice, let stray pieces fall into place. 'If this is the Indian
corner, I guess I should join you,' he'd said, and it had passed
right over her head. But quite suddenly, several small things about
Scott that had nagged at her as familiar in an unspecific way snapped
together in her head to form a new -� and unexpected �- picture.
"What tribe are you?" she blurted without preamble.
Both men turned to stare, and she was suddenly less certain of her
guess. Pegging part-bloods could be tricky, but then he said,
"Officially, I'm enrolled Tlingit. My mother was from Juneau.
Unofficially, there's Haida and Cheyenne in there, too."
She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. Here, she'd thought she was
dating a white man and he turned out to have a Tlingit father. "Why
didn't you ever *tell* him? That he was Indian?"
Summers blinked, as if surprised by the question, and Grace was
vaguely aware that Logan was sitting there with blank shock on his
face. But he was staying out of this one. "I left Anchorage as soon
as I could get away," the colonel said. "It's not easy to be a
�breed in Alaska."
"It's not easy in South Dakota, either," Grace replied. "But it's
worse not to know your people."
The colonel shook his head. "By the time Scott and Alex were born,
I'd been to 'Nam and back, had an officer's commission and a wife,
and was stationed in *Florida*. I hadn't set foot in Alaska in over
a decade. My tribe hadn't thought a quarter-blood red enough to be
Red, so why in hell would I want anything to do with them? I barely
even remember my native name. Scott's not an Indian -� he wasn't
raised in the culture and doesn't know the stories."
"But you never even told him!" Grace couldn't imagine that, why this
man would have robbed Scott of his ancestors, his people, his
heritage. Even now, she could feel the shame and mixed emotions
radiating off Christopher Summers. He might joke about it, but he
didn't like being Indian. He wasn't proud of it. And he was old
enough to remember what it had been like before -� before Alcatraz
and Wounded Knee, AIM, Red Power and the March of Broken Treaties,
before being Indian became 'fashionable,' before blue-eyed men with
blond-ponytails made up genealogies tracing back to Pocahontas, and
New Age stores sold packs of "Native American" tarot cards. He
belonged to Grace's mother's generation, when alcohol and shame and
government policies of assimilation had nearly accomplished what the
Indian Wars hadn't. Gracie's mother had hated being a half-blood,
too, caught forever between cultures, and she'd wound up dead on a
reservation highway because she'd sought escape through the bottle.
"You have to tell him," Grace added now.
"Actually," Summers said, "I did tell him. I told both my sons when
they were young; neither was interested. I wouldn't be surprised if
he doesn't remember, and I can't imagine that he'd care about it
She let out a bark of laughter. "Not care! I -� He �- Oh, hell!
He'd care! And he's more Indian than you think. It's more than
stories and knowing the colors of the directions. He's a lot white,
but he's a little red." All those small things . . . all this time.
The body language and little social cues that had subconsciously read
as familiar to her, yielding an ease between them that she'd
responded to without recognizing. Abruptly, she started laughing.
"He's pink! My white man is *pink! Hah-ne!*"
Note: Scott's native ancestry was not invented by me for this story.
Claremont invented it way back when. I have, however, increased the
probable blood quantity, but Chris Summers of the Paul-Smith-art days
looks very Indian. And the family was historically from Alaska.
It's not hard to imagine that Chris Summers mother was a halfbreed.
Making him Tlingit is a small joke. One origin story for Wolverine
(before Origin) tied Logan to the Tlingit, too.
And being reasonable, friends, I doubt I'll get Chapter 10 posted
tomorrow until equally late. I mean, it's Christmas. :) And if it
doesn't get up until the day after, don't be surprised.
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