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AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 3a (S/J, prefilm)

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  • Minisinoo
    AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 3: BERKELEY BOUND Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/aiof3.html (w/ images) Note: The Berkeley chapters owe a
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2002
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      AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 3:
      BERKELEY BOUND
      Minisinoo
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/aiof3.html (w/ images)


      Note: The 'Berkeley chapters' owe a great deal to Judy Hsu, without
      whose patience in answering many, many detail questions and helping
      me to find Berkeley campus images, I couldn't have written them. All
      errors are my own. Details about Christopher Summers come from the
      comic -� modified, of course. A Bethany Black American Baptist
      Church of Los Angeles does not actually exist, but the Quetzal Caf�
      in San Francisco does. And David gave me the UFO. "Gamma-gaze" is
      Warren's old nickname for Scott from way back in the Stan Lee days.

      ----

      Scott had not been back to California since he'd left with three
      suitcases of clothes, three boxes of personal items, and a thick
      white bandage around his eyes. At the time, he'd fully expected to
      spend the rest of his life sightless. Two months later, he'd had his
      sight back -� if reduced to dual tones of red and black -� but not
      his confidence. He was a freak, a genetic aberration, and he'd
      wallowed in self-pity for twice as long as he'd suffered real
      blindness. Since he'd had his needs met -� food, shelter, clothing
      on his back �- he'd had the luxury of self-involvement, and good
      looks and high school popularity had rendered him mildly spoiled.
      All of his life, things had come easily to him. It wasn't until the
      arrival of Francesco Placido, curled tight in fetal catatonia, that
      the truth of his situation had struck him forcefully, and he'd
      bounced back to his usually cheerful self almost overnight.
      Perspective was a wonderful thing.

      Yet when his mother had asked -� even begged -� him to come home for
      Christmas last year, he'd refused, driven by stubbornness, a
      lingering uncertainty as to his welcome, and a half-guilty gratitude
      to be free at last of what he considered (at eighteen) the
      embarrassment of his family. Even before the San Diego Uni High
      School Prom incident, relations at home had been strained. If he
      still chatted with his mother once a week by phone, his brother had
      yet to forgive him for mutating into something out of an episode of
      the X-FILES, and he'd failed completely to turn out as his father had
      envisioned.

      In fact, his perceptions of family attitudes were only half-right.
      Alex did resent him, but his father didn't. Chris Summers suffered
      from a wrenching grief that he didn't know how to express beyond
      chilly silence. He still carried in his wallet -� folded, faded and
      worn soft with years of handling -� a special father's day card that
      Scott had made, at age five. On it was a child's impressionistic
      picture of Chris standing beside his jet, and Scott himself in the
      pilot seat. For years, Chris had dreamed of seeing that drawing come
      to life. Now, it never would. He had chalked up Scott's teen
      rebelliousness to the growing pains of all fledgling young men.
      Chris himself had been far worse, and more inclined to real trouble,
      and when he'd become so frustrated that he'd wanted to strangle his
      son, he'd reminded himself that he'd never felt a need to search
      Scott's room, nor had to bail the boy out of jail. Scott was
      basically a good boy. But the manifestation of his mutant powers had
      ended any chance Scott had of becoming an air force pilot in his own
      turn. Chris didn't blame Scott for that. But it was some time
      before he stopped resenting God.

      In any case, there had been no reason for Scott to return to the
      Golden State until fall registration for his freshman year at
      Berkeley. He'd forgotten how bright it was in the full California
      sun, and how much he'd missed that. He felt like a glass filled to
      the brim with all the light. "Until your body adjusts, you will have
      to find a way to release it," Xavier warned him. The professor had
      come out with him, to settle him in for Welcome Week, just like the
      parents of other freshmen. Except Xavier wasn't Scott's parent, and
      Scott was very conscious of that, very self-conscious, in fact, when
      the professor paid the whole of his semester bill with one check.
      Scott had a scholarship, true, and received in-state tuition because
      he could claim a home address in Linda Vista, California -� but no
      one living at that address had wanted to see him at this university.
      His father had hoped he'd choose the USAF Academy in Colorado
      Springs, and his mother had prayed for Loyola Marymount in Los
      Angeles.

      But Scott had applied in secret to Berkeley, and won a scholarship
      based on near-perfect SAT math scores. When he'd finally admitted
      what he'd done to his parents -� and where he planned to go -� his
      father had told him flatly that a scholarship was the only way he'd
      attend UC-Berkeley, because Chris Summers would die and go to hell
      before he paid a dime to 'that school.' The Vietnam vet had too many
      foul memories of the violent Berkeley anti-war demonstrations,
      fire-bombed buildings, draft dodgers, "Free Huey" movement, and being
      spat on by those who claimed to support peace. Now, he and Scott
      fought an old battle in an era when no one under twenty could
      remember the conflict that had split families and wounded a nation.
      Scott had accused his father of living in the past and not caring
      what Scott himself wanted in the present, and Chris had accused Scott
      of going behind his back to apply to the one school in the entire
      state that Chris detested with real passion. They hadn't spoken
      fifty words to each other since, and most of the words they had
      exchanged had been said on the night of Scott's mutant manifestation.

      They hadn't been the words many other young mutants had heard.

      Although he sometimes felt resentful of his father, he would never
      forget that when Christopher Summers had come to pick him up at the
      prom and found the police manhandling him, he had barked orders in
      the voice of a USAF officer for the men to get their hands off his
      son until and unless they could prove that Scott had broken the law.
      Later, Chris had taken Scott's hand and led him to the car, then
      said, "It'll be all right," as he'd buckled Scott's seatbelt, because
      Scott was shaking too badly to do it himself. His hands had been
      gentle on Scott's face, and the man who'd survived a Viet Cong POW
      war camp hadn't been afraid to run his thumbs over the thin lids
      covering his son's deadly eyes.

      So Chris carried a thirteen-year-old father's day card in his wallet,
      and Scott carried the memory of his father's hands on his face. Both
      were a tender secret they couldn't quite admit to the other, and
      because they couldn't, the chasm remained between them. They were
      stubborn in their pride.

      Now, Scott and Xavier left Sproul Hall -� the administration building
      �- by the rear handicapped access, and Scott wheeled the professor
      around the long way before heading south towards Bancroft Avenue and
      Scott's new dorm. Off to their right was a line of trees shading
      special interest tables ranging from BAMN for Affirmative Action to
      omnipresent Greek organizations, all leading up in the distance to
      the famous Sather Gate -� focal point of so many protests and
      demonstrations during the 60s. The professor found the whole
      experience amusing and nostalgic, new and oddly mournful, at once.
      How many times had he seen a semester begin on a college campus? But
      always as the professor, never the father, even if his parenthood
      here were merely by proxy. Scott had still wormed his way into
      Xavier's heart, arriving in Westchester frightened and proud and
      desolate, certain he'd had no future, just as he'd had no sight.
      Xavier had taught him to hope again, to spread his wings, and now he
      was leaving the nest. He was hardly the first to attend college
      under Xavier's patronage, but he was the first to fly so far away.

      Scott's own thoughts were less coherent, edged with excitement, but
      also shame. Although he had a scholarship here, he couldn't forget
      on whose charity he lived. If Xavier thought of Scott Summers as the
      son he'd never had, Scott didn't yet think of Xavier as his father.
      None of it was his money, and he was uncomfortably conscious of that.

      But at least out here in the bright California sun, no one looked
      twice at the guy in red shades.

      From campus, they headed two blocks south to the Unit Three dorms on
      Durant Avenue. Norton Hall. Warren drove the rental car they'd
      taken from the airport, where Warren's private jet waited; idly,
      Scott wondered how many other students had been ferried cross-country
      in first class style. Along with a hundred others, he went through
      the process of checking in, then Warren helped him haul his
      belongings upstairs to the fourth floor and his double room. He
      hesitated as he unlocked the door for the first time, but was
      relieved to find it empty. He really wasn't ready yet to deal with a
      roommate; he needed time to establish his boundaries. "Hey," Warren
      said, behind him, still standing in the hall. "You okay?"

      "Okay enough," Summers replied, then snorted. "I can always run home
      again if I can't hack it."

      Warren shook his head. "You'll get over it. Everybody is freaked
      the first week or two."

      "Yeah, but 'everybody' can't level their entire building by
      blinking." It was hissed out harsh and low.

      "And 'everybody' doesn't have sixteen-fucking-feet of wings, either,
      to strap down *every goddamn* morning. It felt like shit for four
      years. Don't whine, Summers."

      Almost, Scott snapped back, but bit down on his retort. Pity wasn't
      what he needed, and Warren had never been inclined to give it to him.
      Instead, he smiled and raised his middle finger, and Warren boxed
      his ears -� lightly, so as not to displace the glasses. The
      professor had arrived, in any case, from the elevator access, and the
      two boys finished carrying up Scott's things. There really hadn't
      been that much, when it had come down to it. Clothes in suitcases,
      his acoustic guitar, his favorite books in two boxes, a laptop that
      the professor had presented him with as a going-away present, a
      coffeemaker, a small fridge the professor had insisted on buying for
      him once they'd arrived in the town, and assorted miscellany that had
      been dumped haphazardly in a pair of laundry baskets. Compared to
      his room at the mansion, the dorm felt horribly cramped, but the
      lightwood furniture and the wide window made it less claustrophobic.
      Scott claimed a bed, a dresser and the desk under the window (first
      come, first serve), and set up a framed picture on the latter. He'd
      taken it just the week before at Westchester � everyone crowded onto
      the mansion stairwell, the professor in his chair at the bottom. But
      it was just an excuse to have a picture of Jean on display without
      explaining to all and sundry that she wasn't really his girlfriend.

      And that, to Scott Summers, was the most wrenching thing about
      leaving New York. He needed a picture of her where he could see it,
      but she didn't need one of him.

      Of course, what he didn't know was that Jean had tacked up in her
      locker at Columbia's teaching hospital a picture of the two of them
      feeding squirrels on the rear mansion grounds, side-by-side and
      shoulders touching. And she had no qualms about explaining who the
      boy was in the picture. Everyone agreed that her adopted little
      brother was quite good looking. A few also noted that she talked
      about him rather a lot, for an adopted brother, but politely
      refrained from commenting on the fact.

      When everything was in the room, the professor sent Warren off to
      find a suitable restaurant for dinner and then had Scott sit down on
      his new bed. "Getting rid of him?" Scott asked.

      Xavier smiled faintly. "You might say that."

      "I don't think he was fooled."

      "I wasn't trying to fool him."

      Silence fell, and stretched, and tore slightly. "Being afraid is
      normal, you realize," Xavier said.

      "I know."

      "Why are you upset?"

      Scott stared down at his hands. Even with the blinds shut, the room
      seemed preternaturally bright, compared to dim New York winter days
      and the dark wood halls of Xavier's mansion. He could feel it even
      now, buzzing in his head, with the first press of a headache behind
      his brows. Reaching beneath his glasses, he rubbed his eyes
      carefully. "Can't you read my mind?" he asked at last.

      "I could. I'd rather not. I'd rather you told me."

      Scott opened his mouth, then shut it. How to begin, without sounding
      inappreciative? "I wouldn't be here without you. You have . . . no
      idea . . . how grateful I am. Well, maybe you do." He paused,
      feeling foolish. "I don't like being a burden."

      "You're not."

      "I am. You don't have to do this."

      "Exactly. I don't *have* to do it. I want to do it. You are no
      burden to me, Scott. You never were."

      Turning his face sideways, Scott blinked rapidly and was relieved
      that, when his eyes were open, he couldn't cry. The beams destroyed
      everything in their path, including tears.

      "Now," the professor said, "the part no one ever wants to talk about
      �- money." He watched the boy flinch visibly, and wished there was
      some way to make this easier. He knew better than to give Scott
      unlimited access, or the boy wouldn't touch a thing, counting pennies
      like a miser -� the very opposite of what most parents feared. "Your
      housing, meal plan, and tuition have been taken care of. Your books
      are to go on this." He handed over a credit card. "As are any
      clothing needs. This" -� he handed over an ATM card -� "is for your
      personal use . . . however you wish to spend it. We'll start with
      two hundred dollars a month. Incidentals." Scott was gaping and
      trying not to. That includes food outside your meal plan, books for
      entertainment, movies, and videogames." That last, Xavier said with
      raised eyebrows, teasing just a little to make the gift easier to
      swallow.

      Blushing, Scott reached forward to accept the card. "I won't use it
      all," he said, as if taking a solemn vow.

      "Perhaps not, perhaps so. In any case, two hundred dollars will be
      deposited in the account once a month. I won't be checking to see
      what the balance is." Leaning back in his chair, he winked. "Going
      to college without spending money isn't much fun." The boy had
      flushed a deep red almost as bright as his glasses.

      "I'll pay it back," he whispered.

      "No, you won't," Xavier snapped. "I have no children. I never will.
      Allow me to spend my money how and where I see fit."

      "Why are you doing this?" Scott raised his burning face. "I've
      never really understood that -� why you do this? Why you took us all
      in?"

      "Because I can. And because I want to."

      "I owe you so much �- "

      "You *owe* me nothing at all. A gift that expects repayment is not a
      gift. All I ask is this: pass it on. Help others, as you have been
      helped. If you do that, then you will have repaid me in the best way
      possible, son."

      Scott nodded. "I can do that."

      "I know you can."

      It wasn't much later that Warren returned with a short list of
      premier San Francisco restaurants and they took Scott to dinner, fed
      him well, then left him to settle into his new home in privacy. He
      spent a long time that night, staring at the picture on his desk.
      God, he missed them -� all of them, not just Jean. In the past year,
      he'd grown used to communal living. The dorm room was too quiet.
      Outside the door it was loud enough, with people coming and going and
      calling out to each other, exchanging names, interests, places of
      origin -� building the foundations of potential future friendships.
      He might have gone out, too. Even two years ago, he would have.
      Popular, good-looking, and easy-going, he'd been confident of making
      friends because he always had. But that had been before May of 1996,
      before his senior prom �- before rose-quartz glasses. What would the
      people outside the door think, if they knew what his eyes could do?
      Would they flee him? Would they condemn him as the freak he'd once
      thought himself? He didn't know. So he locked his door, curled up
      on his bed, took some aspirin for the sun-induced ache in his skull,
      and tried to pretend that he enjoyed his vaunted isolation.





      His dorm was co-ed in all respects. He'd known the floor was co-ed,
      but his first night there, he'd spent ten minutes looking for the
      men's room and had finally given up and asked, then been pointed
      towards a door. Finding another guy at the sinks (urinals or no),
      he'd assumed he was in the right place. But the next morning, as he
      exited his shower stall, only to find a *girl* entering the one
      beside his, he dropped shampoo, comb, and towel in shock, right there
      on the wet floor. Amused, she winked at him as she shut her stall.
      "Co-ed everything"drifted out to him, along with her laughter.

      "Jesus H. Christ," he muttered, "Welcome to Berkeley," and wondered
      why none of the Housing-packet literature had mentioned 'co-ed
      bathrooms' -� or had he just missed that part? In any case, the
      event caused him to rethink his liberality, as he found it rather
      disconcerting to be sharing a john with members of the opposite sex
      with whom he wasn't also sharing a bed.

      Not that sharing a bed with a girl was likely any time in the near
      future. He hadn't thought much about that since high school. Or
      rather, he'd thought about it quite a lot, but as thinking about it
      tended to sink him in a miasma of self-pity, he tried to avoid
      dwelling on it. Instead, he collected a campus map, a town map, his
      wallet, and set out on his own by foot. He'd slept too late to join
      the Welcome Week tour schedule, even if he'd wanted to, but he
      preferred to find his way around on his own. He started with the
      blocks around his dorm, then branched out onto campus, spending most
      of the day in exploration, from the Hearst theater and the stadium on
      the east, past the Memorial Glade with it's rich greenery, towards
      the campanile and the MLK student union. He enjoyed the opportunity
      to wander, and crisscrossed the campus via concrete sidewalks in the
      shadow of pine trees and mix-and-match university buildings, some of
      them being renovated by construction workers with loud radios.
      Students zipped to and fro on bicycles, and he narrowly avoided being
      hit once or twice. He spent a few hours wandering the huge library,
      dwarfed by its vaulted ceilings, and then spent a few hours more in
      the student store, and the union arcade. The whole time, no one
      spoke to him unless the situation demanded it. He was just another
      freshman.

      By sunset, he had a better lay of the campus, but he was also
      beginning to feel the effects of a surplus of sunlight, and made his
      way up a path towards 'The Big C' -� a steep clearing that overlooked
      the San Francisco Bay. He didn't go all the way to the drop off,
      veering from the path into the woody concealment of trees. No one
      was around, and at first, he tried opening his eyes towards the
      forest floor, but it just gauged up great chunks of loam and dirt.
      Not a bright idea. Reluctantly, but at a loss, he turned his face up
      to let the beams shoot skyward in a few short, intense bursts.
      Although he could not shut off his power completely, he could
      (somewhat)
      control the strength of it. If anyone noticed, perhaps they would
      take it for a peculiar skylight or a scientific experiment. He only
      dared five blasts, but felt better, and made his way back to the main
      path, then to campus, and then back to his dorm. Still no sign of
      his roommate -� but he didn't much mind. He grabbed a solitary meal
      in the dining hall, reading a book while he ate at a table in the
      corner. At first, he found the white noise of people coming and
      going to be distracting, but within half an hour, he'd remembered the
      essential art of tuning it all out and was completely absorbed by the
      meteorological descriptions of John Barnes' SF thriller, MOTHER OF
      STORMS.

      Maybe Ororo needed a nickname, he thought, grinning to himself. But
      when his supper was over, he trudged back to Norton Hall and his
      room. Alone.

      The next several days passed in much the same fashion. The only
      people he had cause to speak to outside of random cashiers,
      university staff, and the residence hall assistant (a mumbled excuse
      about why he wasn't getting involved in Welcome Week activities),
      were at the end of a phone line over two thousand miles away. In New
      York.

      "You gotta get out more, Gamma-Gaze," was Warren's advice. "Quit
      holing up in your room."

      "I'm not holing up. I get out everyday."

      "I mean get out and do something with *other* people, idiot. You
      won't meet anybody playing the hermit."

      And from Hank: "Your roommate still has not arrived?"

      "No, and it's *Thursday*! I'm starting to wonder if he's going to."
      As per Berkeley's Housing policies, Scott had been sent his
      roommate's name, address and phone number months ago, and had meant
      to contact Elijah Haight, but had never quite gotten around to it.
      So now, he knew nothing about the other boy that might explain the
      delay.

      "Hmm. Well. Haven't you introduced yourself to your dorm
      neighbors?"

      "Uh -� not exactly. I mean, I've met the RA, and all."

      A sigh on the other end of the phone line. "You should talk to your
      neighbors, Scott -� an exchange of names and phone numbers is hardly
      out of order."

      Frank had given similar advice, although the intricacies of the
      American college experience were beyond him. "What do you mean you
      have not met anyone? Where are the girls? You are in California,
      *cretino*! *Adossi il cafonismo come il mantello!*" You wear
      stupidity like a cloak. Like Warren, Frank had never been inclined
      to pity him, and Scott had been forced to laugh -� but at least Frank
      wasn't being evasive or sounding ominous, which was a relief.

      Of all the people at the mansion, though, only Jean hadn't talked to
      Scott since he'd left the East Coast -� almost as if she were
      avoiding him.

      -----

      Continued directly in Chapter 3b....


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