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CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (9b/12 - NEW) ensemble [Heyoka II]

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  • Minisinoo
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2001
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      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
      appreciate family.*

      *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.*


      *Just 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."

      "Had to."

      "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,
      you know."

      "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
      his chest.

      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
      each other."

      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
      their leader."

      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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