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  • Minisinoo
    An Accidental Interception of Fate Prologue: The House Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/aiof_prologue.html See separate intro post for notes. This
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 24, 2002
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      An Accidental Interception of Fate
      Prologue: The House

      See separate intro post for notes. This prologue has been posted on
      my site for some time, but not previously posted to lists


      Let us begin with the house.

      Finished in 1789, upcountry of a slowly expanding New York, it became
      the retreat of a sour, die-hard Tory after the victory of the
      Colonies against Mother England. Five subsequent generations of
      Xaviers have lived there, and ivy has crept all the way to the third
      story and over the eaves in places. The entryway stones are
      dangerously slick in wet weather due to buffing from the passage of
      many feet, and the main banister is sanded smooth from the slide of
      countless hands. Lead-glass panes in older windows have settled from
      the pull of gravity across two hundred years, the stables were built
      as an add-on to the main house in an age when no one dreamed of the
      automobile, and the current garage was once the carriage house.
      Aside from the main residence, there are servants' quarters, a
      gatekeeper's shack, and a boathouse.

      The last Xavier to occupy the house -- the last Xavier who ever would
      -- had a British accent and British education that would have made
      his five-times-removed ancestor proud. But the plebian uses to which
      he put his venerable family mansion would have set the poor man
      spinning in his grave.

      It was one more private school in a county full of them: boarding
      schools where the offspring of upper-class American families received
      (or perhaps suffered) the same sort of education offered in similar
      boarding schools in Merry Ol' England. Literature, math, Latin,
      French, history, a little dance, a little music, riding lessons, and
      -- most of all -- training in the fine art of social snobbery and
      emotional cruelty.

      But this particular school was not of that stripe. Beyond the iron
      gate and nondescript sign, up the gravel lane, past the trimmed
      hedges and carefully cleaned reflecting pool, lay a school for a very
      particular kind of student. "Gifted Youngsters" the sign advertised,
      and the neighbors took that for mere flattery: select parents with
      the right number of digits in their bank account could have a
      "gifted" child if they paid the yearly tuition. And the headmaster,
      the last Xavier, was content to let them think so.

      But his students were gifted. A quirk of DNA had bestowed upon them
      abilities that respected neither bank account nor the purity of a
      WASP parentage. They were few in number, but that -- the headmaster
      hoped -- would change. Initially, only five young people lived
      there, and two of those were enrolled at nearby universities, coming
      to the house only on weekends. Of the younger three, the eldest
      could have graced any of the other local boarding schools without
      raising an eyebrow. He had the fine profile, sandy hair, narrow nose
      and height of his British cousins in the House of Lords across the
      great Atlantic lake, and a private jet that could fly him there in
      ten hours or less. His surname said old money, American royalty like
      the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Roosevelts, and there were Roman
      numerals after it -- Warren Worthington, III. His family owned a
      penthouse overlooking Central Park, and a private residence larger
      than Xavier's out on Long Island. That he also possessed a pair of
      perfectly functional feathered white wings -- spanning sixteen feet
      at full extension -- and the proportional strength and fine eyesight
      of a bird of prey was an ill-kept secret that made him popular at the
      right kind of society parties among his bored and jaded
      contemporaries. Wealth excused, even encouraged, a multitude of

      Of the elder two students, one was also a member of New York society,
      if from a few rungs down the class ladder. Her shoes were imported
      leather from Italy and her dresses had designer names on the label,
      but she bought them at Bergdorf Goodman; they weren't tailor-made.
      Nonetheless, her mother held membership in the Annandale-on-Hudson
      chapter of DAR, and her pedigree had names that boasted a noble title
      in front, as well as a British spelling: Grey. The dark auburn hair,
      however, came from a Scottish girl, one Mary Jane Duncan, collateral
      descendant of Shakespeare's king in MacBeth -- albeit a good deal
      more historical than the bard's play. It was that ancestor's son
      whom this young woman admired most, and in fact, whose profession she
      had chosen to pursue: the healing arts. Dr. Nathaniel Grey would
      have been pleased, if perhaps somewhat startled to see his
      granddaughter reading a copy of Cecil's Essentials suspended in
      midair, while she took notes with her right hand and held a sandwich
      in the left. For the hopeful Doctor-to-be Jean Grey, the power of
      mind over matter meant more than willing herself to stay awake for an
      all-night study session.

      The other three students at Xavier's school were hopelessly middle or
      working class. The second of the elder two was the son of a nuclear
      physicist who'd fallen head-over-heels for a tree-hugging
      environmentalist and given up his research to run an organic farm
      outside Deerfield, Illinois. Too much radiation, perhaps, had
      altered the father's genes, producing a child with a bestial physique
      but a brilliant mind. Henry McCoy could be found climbing the
      mansion walls at odd hours while muttering select quotes of Donne or
      Hawking, depending on his mood. One of the younger boys wasn't
      American at all, but an island Italian whose father had moved to
      Genoa to work the docks, and died there in an "industrial accident."
      The child had gone insane as a result of foreseeing the event -- and
      not being able to stop it. He'd been graced (or cursed) to see past,
      present, and future in infinite variation, like a modern-day
      Nostradamus. It might have earned him a Special Study assignment
      from the Vatican, had Xavier not found him first. But Francesco
      Placido wasn't a prophet. He was a mutant.

      All of them were mutants, including the headmaster himself. Charles
      Francis Xavier had been born with the ability to pick up the thoughts
      of those around him, even to control them. He was, arguably, the
      most powerful mutant on the planet.

      But this isn't a tale about Charles Xavier. It's a tale about the
      third of those middle-class students -- the one who had been enrolled
      first of all. Son of an Air Force pilot and a second-generation
      Irish-Italian immigrant, he had, at seventeen, blasted a hole through
      the bathroom wall of his gym on prom night, and thus blasted his way
      into national attention and a blurb on the cover of THE NATIONAL
      ENQUIRER, right next to "Don Juan-Son: making love keeps me young
      says Nash Bridges hunk." Thankfully, he never saw that copy.

      But Charles Xavier saw it. It was carried into him by his maid on
      his breakfast tray, right along with his morning grapefruit, toast,
      tea, and THE NEW YORK TIMES. Twelve hours later, Xavier was knocking
      on the front door to a little ranch-style house in the San Diego
      burbs, 1569 Maple Lane. Thus, it was chance, yellow journalism, and
      a bored maid in the grocery checkout line that made Scott Summers the
      first student at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

      Jean Grey first spoke more than three words to the future Cyclops
      when he hit her car.

      With his racing bike.

      Of the pedal-variety.

      He was coming down the hill towards the mansion after his morning
      five-mile-ride, while Jean was headed out to Columbia's teaching
      hospital to do more lab research for her dissertation. It was an
      overcast Wednesday morning, not raining yet but looking to start
      soon, the air moist and heavy with a fine mist that had covered the
      windshield. Jean glanced down to hit the wiper blades once, to clear
      the glass. She looked at the wrong time. And he wasn't looking
      where he was going, and going far faster than he'd needed, caught up
      in the thrill of wind and speed. He saw her car too late.

      He tried to stop but the momentum was too much, and it had rained all
      the previous day. Thin racing wheels slid in black New York mud. At
      least he had the presence of mind to get his feet out of the pedal
      clips and leap off before the bike smashed into the front of Jean's
      car. Thus, he didn't smash into the front of Jean's car with the
      bike. Instead, he landed on the hood and rolled over the top to
      smash into the ground on one side. The impact knocked his visor off.

      Jean Grey leapt out of the car to kneel in the gravel and mud beside
      him, shouting, "Oh, my God!" over and over, even as he said, "Christ,
      I'm so sorry! I didn't even see you! Are you all right?" He winced
      in evident pain, but kept his eyes shut.

      Jean was fine but her car's front end wasn't. And neither was Scott.
      His arm was bent at an angle that could only indicate it was broken,
      there were scratches all over him, and the tell-tale dribble of
      impact blood, forced out of nose and ears and even tear ducts. She
      could actually see his eyes as his visor was lying about five feet
      away, covered in muck. He tried to feel around for it with the arm
      that wasn't broken.

      She grabbed it and said, "Don't move!," checked him to see if
      anything else had broken (his back, for instance). Nothing had. She
      forgot and asked him to open his eyes so she could check the pupils
      for concussion. Even lying on the muddy ground, hurt and suffering,
      he managed to laugh. "I don't really think you want me to do that."

      She smiled, then remembered he couldn't see it with his eyes screwed
      up tighter than an old maid's disapproving mouth. "I think you're
      right," she said. "Here's your visor. Well, maybe you don't want it.
      It's kind of a mess."

      He took it anyway, but didn't put it on. She helped him to sit up.
      She knew who he was, just had never talked to him at length before.
      But it would be hard to live at Xavier's new-born institute for
      'gifted youngsters' (did she still qualify as a 'youngster' at almost
      twenty-six?) and not know Scott Summers, even if she'd only been
      there two months. It was even harder not to notice him -- especially
      now, with a bare face.

      It should be illegal for a boy to be that pretty.

      Down, Jean, she told herself. He's a kid. And the closest thing the
      professor would ever have to a son. Definitely off limits.

      So Jean Grey bundled Scott Summers into her car, and his mangled bike
      into her trunk, then pointed the vehicle's dented nose back towards
      the mansion and the infirmary in the basement. She and Hank McCoy
      set the arm and cleaned him up while he apologized (profusely) all
      over again for wrecking her car and making her late. Once they got
      past the apologies and the setting of the arm, they laughed about the
      whole thing. There was a certain irony, Scott said, in managing to
      get into the first car wreck of his life (on a bike no less) by
      hitting a medical doctor, even if only one in training. At least
      he'd had instant first aid.

      Jean never did make it to the hospital that day.

      And almost five years later, Scott Summers would hit her car again --
      but that time on purpose, from behind, on a bike of a different
      variety, and without leaving a human-sized dent in it. In both
      cases, he got her attention.

      Jean Grey referred to their love affair as an accidental interception
      of fate.


      Chapter One: Phantoms in Westchester to be posted tomorrow (Monday).

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