AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 1a: Phantoms in Westchester (S/J, prefilm)
- AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE
Ghosts in Westchester
Dedication: The quote comes from Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene,
with some slight modification of the medieval lettering . I owe both
Naomi and Domenika big time for the 'New York City flavor.' I
couldn't have written this chapter without them; all errors are my
own. Remember, Moira in my fanfic is not a Scottish geneticist,
though I took the basic idea of Moira as maid from old UXM.
Warnings: Initially, this story won't contain much that's graphic,
only adult language and a few (humorously) suggestive situations.
But later, there's some disturbing imagery and some sex. Rather than
put a warning on each section to list minor things, I'll put them
only on sections that merit them.
Doctor Henry Philip McCoy was an impressive man.
Friends and strangers alike were daunted by the breadth of his
vocabulary and of his shoulders in nearly equal measure. A defensive
linebacker caught in a lab coat. At first glance he didn't seem
tall, but that may have owed to his perpetual slouch; when he stood
up straight, he had to duck to clear most door lintels. The majority
of his time was spent hunched over a computer, a book, a microscope,
or lab utensils, and when he walked, usually lost in thought, he kept
his eyes on his very big feet. He had a pair of granny glasses, a
dimple in his chin, and a round face that, when he grew excited,
shown like a polished apple. When he was irritated, the cheeks
merely flushed hot pink, and the degree of his annoyance could be
measured by the number of times he'd push his glasses up his nose.
Just now, the count was at three, which meant he was moving from the
merely irked into serious vexation.
"But Hank, you've got to help me. You *know* her. What does she
"I reiterate -� as I have stated already several times �- I *have* no
suggestions to offer." And he pushed his glasses up again (that made
four), regarding Scott Summers with impatience. "Now please. I have
tests to conduct." He turned back to the lab table littered with
shiny-metal and dull-black equipment. The mansion's infirmary was
his domain and Summers was an interloper.
Now, slumping down on a nearby stool, Summers drummed absently on the
seat with the thumb of his good hand. He was finally out of the sling
he'd worn since breaking his arm, but wore a light cast yet, a dirty
flesh shade contrasting badly with the smooth tan of his skin.
Unlike McCoy, he was neither tall nor particularly broad, and his
most distinguishing (still-visible) features were the high cheekbones
he'd inherited from a Tlingit grandmother, and a mouth as full as a
woman's. That mouth thinned when he became frustrated �- as he was
now. "Well, I've got to do something for her. I wrecked her car."
"I believe the best 'something' would entail paying to have it
fixed," McCoy pointed out, then wished he hadn't.
Lips thinning even further, Summers looked away. "The professor is
Scott, of course, had little money of his own. Most everything in
his life came on the professor's charity, and he was sensitive about
that. McCoy had momentarily forgotten, and now sighed. The boy had
an amazing ability to combine kicked-pup pouts with tight-jawed pride
until one felt just miserable for him. "Look," McCoy said, "If you
want to do something for her, why not take her to the opera?" But at
that suggestion, Scott's expression blanched as stark as it might
have at an announcement of immanent nuclear holocaust, and McCoy had
to stifle a laugh. "You're not a fan of opera, I see."
"Rock opera, maybe. I always wanted tickets to JESUS CHRIST
McCoy shuddered. "Andrew Lloyd Webber. Ugh. All pyrotechnics, no
"Says who? It's cool music, and Ian Gillen sang the best Jesus. He
was the lead for Deep Purple, y'know." Then Summers dropped his head
back to regard the ceiling above with its banks of fluorescent
lights, as if he might find the solution to his dilemma etched there.
"I have to think of *some*thing." But this was vocalized more to
himself than McCoy, who returned to his preparation of slides for the
electron microscope. When Summers had been quiet for several
minutes, Hank dared to hope that maybe he'd given up. Hank should
have known better. Summers was like a terrier when he got an idea in
his head: persistent and mouthy. McCoy had completed only a second
slide before Summers spoke again. "Maybe I could take her to see
something on Broadway?" Then he sighed. "Yeah, right. Like I could
afford tickets to Broadway!"
McCoy spoke without turning. "I could get tickets for you."
Anything to make the kid go away. Usually, he enjoyed Scott's
company, but just at the moment, he was more interested in the rate
of nuclei decay in frog heart cells that had been subjected to a
particular type of radiation.
Yet Summers perked right up. "You *could*? You �- I mean, you'd
do that for me?"
Setting down his slide, McCoy turned finally. "I might." But he
didn't believe in giving things away for free. People appreciated
them more if they had to expend effort to acquire them, and if
Summers had no money, he did have time -� and young, strong muscles.
"You have some knowledge of automobiles, do you not?"
Suspicious, the boy tilted his head and spoke slowly. "Yeah. My dad
and I used to fix up old cars together. It was his hobby. He was a
pilot. Air Force."
"So I've heard," McCoy replied, his voice dry.
That won a blink, then a smile. "I guess you have." The boy might
be earnest, but at least he had a sense of humor.
"Ostensibly," McCoy went on, "vehicular care falls on my duty roster,
but I rarely have time to devote to mundane upkeep." In truth, he
found it unbearably tedious.
"And you want me to do it." It wasn't a question.
Summers actually grinned. "If you can get us two seats to PHANTOM OF
THE OPERA that aren't nose-bleeds, it's a done-deal, Hank."
McCoy drew himself up to his full height �- which was a good six
inches over Scott Summers. "My dear boy, I can assure you that not
only will your nasal cavities remain sanguine-free, but you will find
yourself on the floor within twenty feet of the stage." Though why
anyone would want seats to that particular debacle of Webber's, McCoy
couldn't fathom. Even the dated JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR was
But Scott was ecstatic. "Holy shit! *Twenty feet from the stage?*"
Hopping off the stool, he offered McCoy his hand. "The garage is
mine. Thanks, Hank."
Moira had kept house for the professor for over twenty years, and
took advantage of her seniority on a regular basis to berate him for
sleeping too little or forgetting his vitamins -� but she was not a
chef, she said, and anyone beyond herself, Xavier, the groom, and the
gardener was too many to expect her to feed. So when Francesco
Placido had come to live at the mansion six months ago, his widowed
mother had come with him to be the new cook. Like any Italian woman
worth her salt and pasta, she could feed a small army, or a handful
of teenage boys, without breaking a sweat.
Being neither male nor under twenty, Jean Grey usually tried to
escape Valeria's maternal attention �- and her carbohydrates -� by
waiting until the older woman had vacated the kitchen for
early-afternoon siesta. Then Jean would sneak up from the lab to
make herself lunch. One Wednesday afternoon in late April, she was
making a BLT sandwich at the counter when Scott appeared at her elbow
like one of the jin, a spirit of air and fire, waving a pair of
tickets and sporting that enchanting grin. It gave him dimples, and
gave her Very Bad Thoughts. At full-wattage, she thought he should
have a Surgeon General's warning: 'Dangerous to female rationality.'
"PHANTOM OF THE OPERA," he said, very obviously pleased with himself.
"The Majestic. Two seats. Row nine �- in the orchestra. Row
She gaped. She'd have killed for those tickets. "Who's the lucky
Now she really did gape. Ever since they'd met concussively a month
prior, he'd been orbiting her like a minor celestial body. She'd
never had a little brother, had been the little sister instead, and
rather enjoyed this new opportunity to play older and wiser. But she
wondered if he may have gotten the wrong idea. "Scott, I �- "
"Just say 'yes.' I owe you. I wrecked your car."
Lethal puppy seriousness. And he knew just how to beg without
begging, too. She sighed. "All right."
The grin exploded onto his face once more. "Fantastic! Friday
night, next week. Be ready to go at six." And he disappeared back
out the kitchen door.
Jean shook her head. This was probably a mistake, she thought,
fetching a diet Snapple out of the fridge from her personal stash;
but if she had it to do again, she'd still have agreed. She was
going to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Broadway, and bit her lip to
suppress a very school girl squeal. So what if it was a bit of
theatrical junkfood? Hank wasn't, she thought, the only one with the
occasional taste for a Twinkie.
*This isn't a date*, Scott Summers told himself as he tried to avoid
cutting his chin with a razor. *It's a bribe.* He was going out
with Jean Grey because he had a pair of Broadway tickets that she
wanted badly enough to consent to an eighteen-year-old escort.
But his hands still shook and his brain occasionally detoured into a
youthful Neverland of what he wished could be, and he wound up
cutting himself three times anyway, each a bright sting of pain like
a stainless-steel admonishment. Finally, he dropped the razor into
the sudsy water with a plop, and leaned over to brace palms on cool
porcelain. "Get a grip. She's not going with you. She's letting
At ten to six, he was pacing, all nervous, in the wood-paneled den:
over to the pool table, around the Ficus tree, across the Persian
runner in front of the door, past the black-leather couch, and back
to the pool table. Francesco Placido, who was inelegantly sprawled
over a florid-red Queen Anne seat, quit reading to watch him, and
pulled thoughtfully on the cigarette he wasn't supposed to be smoking
inside. "Chill out, Scott."
Summers glared, but Placido just extinguished his cigarette, stood up
and fished in his back pocket. Dragging his wallet free, he took
something from it and came over to slip it to Scott. A condom.
Trojan-enz Spermicidal Lubricant. "*Non si sa mai.*" Just in case.
Scott blushed and snorted at the sheer innocent bravado of the gift.
"Yeah, right! Get a clue! She's twenty-six, Frank."
Frank Placido might be the most shut-mouthed Italian Summers had ever
met, but in some ways, the younger boy was still a walking Latin
clich�. Slapping the condom back into his friend's hand, he said,
"Forget it. And I have one already, if I really need it."
Grinning, Placido put back the condom and spoke in a fluent if
heavily accented English. "You will do okay, hey? She watches you,
you know? I see her watch you." He leaned across to straighten
Summers' tie absently, then slapped him on the upper arm. "*Bello e
chic, mi amico!* Fine threads. You will knock her out, no?"
Winking, he wandered back to the chair and returned to the book he'd
been reading. Beppo Fenoglio's IL PARTIGIANO JOHNNY. Frank had a
recent and passionate fascination with the Italian Resistance to
Mussolini's fascists during World War II. He saw himself as a
partisan born fifty years too late. In the end, Frank believed that
the good guys in the white hats (or the blue bandanas) had to win.
Watching him read, something occurred to Summers and he stalked over
to lean across the chair, one hand braced on the back. "You know
something? You see something, Frank?"
Placido glanced up, and Summers decided that he would cheerfully give
ten years of his life for eyes like Frank's -� if visible, of course.
Deep-set and intense, and as black as midnight velvet under gypsy
tarot cards. What fortune would he tell Summers?
"I see many things," he replied now. "I see enough to know to trust
more what I observe. Men make their own futures, when they are brave
enough. You go tonight. You be yourself. You two maybe start your
own little history, eh? Maybe ten years from now, they talk about
you. *Scott Summers e Jean Grey, la coppia perfetta!*" The perfect
couple. He kissed his fingertips in illustration.
Snorting, Summers pushed himself away. He could never tell when
Placido was being a jackass, a hopeless romantic, or prophesying -�
which was precisely the way Frank wanted it. But there was always
something sad in his face, and wise, and sometimes, Scott wondered
which of them was really the elder. Then again, if he could see the
future in the kaleidoscope that Frank did, he might be old before his
A sound from behind alerted them, and they both turned. In the den
doorway, Jean smiled. "Hi. Sorry I ran a little late."
"Wow! *Ciao, bellezza!*" Placido leapt to his feet to take her hand
and kiss it, drawing her gracefully into the room to cover the fact
that Scott was busy trying to pick up his jaw off the floor. Frank
was a good friend to him sometimes. Dressed in simple dark satin
that hugged all her curves, she stunned with pure elemental elegance
and teased Scott's imagination with the slit high up her left side.
His heart pounded and his tongue had cleaved to the roof of his
mouth, yet she seemed perfectly at ease, laughing at Frank, then
sniffing the air.
"You're smoking again, and inside, too. Bad boy." She shook a
finger under his nose. "Don't come to me when you get cancer at
"Life is for enjoying, Bella. I like to smoke. My choice. There is
too much sadness in the world to make more by worrying about
tomorrow. I let the future take care of itself, no?"
He was lying through his teeth. No one in the mansion had more
nightmares about the future than Francesco Placido. But it sounded
good. Jean backed off, in part because she didn't feel like arguing
with an Italian, even a shut-mouthed one, but also because he'd
reminded her that he knew better than she did what his future held.
Summers had finally pulled himself together enough to approach, and
she smiled at him � gentle, soft, but a bit impish at the edges. Her
smiles always felt personal, a present just for the one smiled at.
They made him stupid with longing: she was his Gloriana, his Faerie
Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
That greatest Glorious Queene of Faerie lond,
To winne him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave....
"You ready to leave?" she asked, jerking him out of mental
"Uh. Yeah." Chivalrously, he offered her his arm. "Let's go see
Scott was helping Jean into the passenger side of a little red
Porsche when the garage door opened to admit a metallic-orange
Lamborghini Diablo Roadster, all sleek and wicked and going too fast
for the tight fit, but the driver managed to avoid crashing into
Warren Worthington, of course. He sought speed in all things, be it
on the road, at sea, or in the sky. But he could only drive that car
out here; it wasn't street legal in New York City. Hopping out, he
raised a hand in greeting. "Good God, man. Joe Cool in a suit and
tie! Where are you off to? A funeral?" But he was grinning, and
sauntered over to slap Summers' raised hand, gripping it tightly for
a moment then bending to peer in the Porsche's passenger side. The
wings that normally set him apart were strapped down and hidden
beneath a tan, Egyptian-linen sport coat. "Jeannie �- you look
divine. Are you actually letting this clown take you somewhere?"
She didn't quite titter, but approached it at a glancing angle.
Worthington had that effect on women, even those in their
post-menopausal years. They lined up for his crooked smile and a
flash from sea-blue eyes. He was lively, he was charming, he was
rich, and he wasn't interested in getting serious. He held people at
a distance by seeming to confide a great deal. Non-stop chatter. It
took knowing him well to realize how little he ever actually said,
and how little any of it reflected the mind of Warren Worthington,
III. Arriving at Xavier's only a little after Scott, it was Warren
who'd followed Scott about the mansion for the two months it had
taken Hank to finish Scott's glasses, making sure the younger boy
didn't fall down staircases or bark his shin on the furniture. He'd
seen Scott get frustrated with his blindness, and witnessed his fear
that it might never change. He'd found the filched pistol that Scott
had hidden in his nightstand and put it back in the professor's
locked display case. All he'd said was, "That's the coward's way
out." And later, it was Scott who'd sat with Warren on the mansion
roof the day that Warren's parents had taken off to Bucharest for the
weekend and forgotten his twenty-first birthday. Scott had watched
an angel cry. They never talked about those things, but words were
Warren's shield. The real things in his life, the deep down things,
he acknowledged in silence.
There were still times, however, that Warren's casual confidence
annoyed Summers. This was one of them. "We're going to see PHANTOM
OF THE OPERA," he said.
Half laughing, Warren jerked up. "You're *serious*?"
"Yeah -� so?" He started to add, 'Hank got me tickets,' but didn't.
Let Warren assume he had his own means. "I wrecked her car. I
wanted to do something nice. Why's it such a shock to think I might
have a little culture?"
Warren waved his hands in amused surrender. "That wasn't what I
meant. But Phantom isn't exactly culture, Gamma Gaze. That's the
show all the tourists go see, along with the
It was out before Warren considered either the timing, or who was
sitting in the car below, overhearing the whole exchange. Scott
Summer's face had blanched white in chill humiliation -� which hadn't
been Warren's intent. He'd just been shooting off his mouth again
like he always did. "Uh -� I'm just kidding, man."
Summers knew he wasn't. "Sure." And he shut Jean's door to walk
around to the driver's side.
"Really," Warren insisted. "It's a popular musical for a reason."
But he was digging himself in deeper and knew it. "Hey -� you guys
have a good time."
"Gee, thanks." Summers shut his own door and started the engine.
Sighing, Warren backed away and watched the car pull out of the
garage. "You fucked up big time, asshole," he muttered to himself.
Inside the Porsche, one of those dreaded, awkward silences had
descended. Scott drove with knuckles tight on the wheel and his jaw
clenched, while Jean stared out the window at the passing
countryside, bathed in the deep green-gold of a spring evening.
Beneath the elegant arch of budding hardwoods, beds of tulips and
hyacinth glowed, as shocking and vibrant as a schoolchild's drawing.
Beside the front gate, cherries had shed the last of their blooms
like a late spring snow squall, and up on the surrounding hills,
green was coating the stick-art of New York winter forests. She
caught a brown flash beside the road on the right.
"Doe," Scott said.
"Wow. This far in town?"
He shrugged, and a moment of tense silence followed before he
"For taking you to a *tourist* show."
Turning her head, she smiled, finding him so young, and so earnest in
his dignity. "Scott, don't be silly. I've only been to two shows in
my life, both off Broadway, and I've never had seats this close.
It'll be grand fun. I really appreciate the invitation."
The car had reached the lane's end, and he hit the brakes to glance
both ways, then pulled out onto Route 126, past Harry's Hideaway
Tavern, and headed for the Salem Center MetroNorth station. "It's
the thought that counts, huh?" But it was said with sarcasm.
Eyes on the marching line of quaint New England suburban houses, she
said with complete seriousness, "Yes. It is."
Continued directly in part 1b..... (posted tomorrow)
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