AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE 4b (S/J, prefilm)
- Continued directly from part 4a....
Lee Forrester had been practicing with 'the boys' for exactly one
month when Thanksgiving break rolled in along with the November fog
and cool nights. EJ departed for sunny LA, but neither Scott nor Lee
had any place to go. Lee wasn't a student at Berkeley, nor at their
great rival, Stanford. She did take occasional classes at Mills
College in Oakland, but mostly worked for her father's boat rental
service. Warren had offered to fly out to pick up Scott, but Scott
had declined. It had seemed to him an unnecessary expense for a
four-day holiday, and he didn't go down to San Diego for the same
reasons he hadn't gone there for Christmas the year before.
So Lee invited Scott out on the water with her. "Salt-water turkey,"
she'd told him.
"What about eating with your family?" he'd asked her.
"Dad and I kinda avoid the whole 'family holiday thing.' My mom died
four years ago."
"Oh." He had paused, unsure how to answer such a tragic statement
delivered with such self-possessed equanimity. "Well, um, okay.
Sure. Thanks. I like to sail."
And so it was settled. Scott would spend Thanksgiving with Lee. He
wondered if he should call this a date or simply mutual propitiation
of the gods of boredom. He was never sure with Lee Forrester. One
practice session, she might flirt with him shamelessly, then the
next, put up a barrier bigger then the Hoover Dam. She was a strange
girl: stubborn, hardheaded, and as bitter sweet as cider vinegar.
She wore independence like plate armor, and he wondered if anyone,
ever, would be permitted a peek inside. Maybe. But it wouldn't be
For her own part, Lee couldn't explain her fascination with a boy
three years younger than her. Her one, long-standing rule in bands
had always been not to fuck over or fuck with fellow band members.
It made things messy. She'd learned that from vicious experience. A
sharp tongue and good right hook was usually all it took to dissuade
the persistent. Yet here she was, inviting Scott to go sailing over
Thanksgiving with every intention of getting his pants off. Being
naked physically was proxy for the emotional. She wasn't foolish
enough to believe in 'no strings' sex; in her experience, there were
always strings, whether or not she wanted them. But sometimes, if
one got lucky, they weren't of the kind that trussed one up like a
rodeo calf, flung down in the dirt and squirming helpless. Even if
she'd never seen his eyes, she could tell that when he looked at her,
he saw more than tits and ass. He saw that, too �- he was young; he
was male -� but he asked her opinion on things, and actually listened
to her replies. It wasn't love, by any stretch, but it was respect,
and in Lee's experience, that was rarer.
"Did you bring a jacket?" she asked him when he showed up on the dock
with his backpack, short sleeves, and a pumpkin pie in grocery-store
He patted the backpack. "In here. I've been sailing before."
Taking the pie, she eyed him. "How much do you know about a boat?"
"Not a lot. It wasn't mine. Don't ask me to do anything with the
sails. But I know enough to've brought a jacket."
"Mmm," she said, and walked off towards the Arcadia, her favorite of
the family boats -� big enough to move around on, but not big enough
to be fat and awkward in the water. He leapt aboard after her with
obvious familiarity. He hadn't been lying, about having been on
"How long has your family had this business?" he asked, finding a
seat on a bench while she finished preparations to cast off.
"Since before I was born. Dad and Mom came out here in the �60s,
along with half of California." She uncovered and ran up the
mainsail. "But they came from Florida. He'd owned a pair of shrimp
boats there, but sold them when he got married. He wanted to do
something that didn't keep him out for weeks. Boat rentals on the
Bay were big business. Still are, though there are a helluva lot
more of them these days. But we've been here for ages. We survive."
Scott nodded while staring out over the Bay. Almost noon, the fog
had disappeared by this hour and it looked to be a gorgeous day, warm
for November. "Well go up north towards the Bridge," she said. "and
you can see it from the underside."
He grinned at that. "Cool."
They didn't need jackets after all, and late in the fall, on a
family-holiday weekend, there weren't many boats out. They talked
about California compared to life in the Northeast. Lee had never
been to New York; she'd barely been outside the state, while Scott
had lived in a variety of places, even Korea for a year, as a child.
The side benefits, he said, of being an air force brat: no place to
call a hometown. Sensitive to the sour irony in his voice, Lee
carefully avoided asking him any questions about his family �- such
as why he hadn't gone to visit them for the holiday �- and he
returned the favor.
As they approached from the east into the afternoon shadow of the
Golden Gate Bridge, Scott said, "I've never seen it this close."
Her glance was sharp. "You haven't been across it yet?"
"You've been out here since August, and you haven't been across the
She didn't reply to that, just tacked the boat to bring it in closer
to one of the pilings. He stood up and stared hard overhead. "What
are you thinking?" she asked.
"I always wanted to be an engineer." She didn't reply to that,
wasn't sure it needed a reply, and he went on after a minute. "An
aerospace engineer. I wanted to design planes, or maybe even
spacecraft for NASA, if I got lucky. But seeing this . . . it's
"One of the engineering marvels of the Twentieth Century." She made
it sound like a tour guide blurb.
Grinning, he glanced around. "But it is. I mean, that's said so
often, it's a clich�, but" �- he looked back up at the monstrosity
looming ahead of them -� "it really is."
She moved to stand beside him and study his face. Rapt was the best
word she could think of. "You really get off on concrete and steel,
That elicited a grin. "Sometimes."
"You said you wanted to be an engineer, but not like you were
planning to be one."
And looking down, he said, "I'm not. I'm a math and education
"As in becoming a math teacher?"
"Why'd you quit engineering? You haven't been at college long enough
to have flunked out of the classes."
He shook his head and sat down again on a bench, opening the cooler
to fetch a Coke. Minutes stretched before he finally replied to her
question. She'd assumed he hadn't planned to reply at all. "I
changed my mind," he said. "About engineering. I want to teach high
"It sounded to me like you wanted to be an engineer."
His smile was wistful; it turned up just the corners of his full
mouth. "I did. But things change."
Eyeing her, he sipped from the shiny red can. She usually cat-footed
around the territory of his personal life, so her question now caught
him by surprise. Maybe she hadn't meant to pry, or maybe she'd
simply grown tired of peaking in the windows of his isolation. He
pondered how to answer and finally opted for honesty, up to a point.
He tapped the edge of his glasses. "These."
"What do they have to do with engineering? I thought you said you
were just light sensitive?"
"I am. But, well . . . ." he trailed off, then concluded simply,
"My sight is different now. There are some things I just can't do
anymore. And I do want to teach." All of which statements were
true, although only the last was a direct reason for his change of
plans. His full motivations weren't something he could share, and he
took refuge in his handicap, trusting that natural embarrassment
would prevent her from inquiring further. With EJ, it wouldn't have
worked. But with Lee, fences were usually respected.
And Jesus Christ, he wondered, when was he going to level with EJ?
Ever? The longer it went, the harder it would be, but also, the less
inclined he was to tell. The risk of losing that friendship, his
only real emotional tie at Berkeley, was simply too great for him to
For her own part, Lee pondered what he'd said, and also wondered �-
not for the first time -- how much his disability had altered his
life. At their very first band rehearsal, he'd explained �-
nonchalantly -� about the glasses, and it hadn't struck her as
significant at the time. Significance had emerged slowly, like the
constant pound of the surf, eating away at stone. She'd never seen
his eyes, and maybe that was a good part of her fascination with him,
that lure of the unknown. But it was also the root of her
diffidence. Unlike his ebullient friend, she found him difficult to
interpret and occasionally elusive, such as now.
She let the matter be, though, and returned to steering the boat,
bringing them under the bridge close to the south spire. He stood up
again, Coke can forgotten in his hand, and just studied the elaborate
red iron weave. Tacking around in the water beyond, she headed back
under again, this time, right down the middle, and then they headed
back south towards Oakland. She knew a few quiet places where boat
traffic ran low, and she picked one to anchor, so they could eat:
turkey sandwiches, store-bought stuffing, cold rolls and the pumpkin
pie. She sat beside him on the deck bench, close enough that their
thighs brushed, bare skin against bare skin. He had fuzzy legs, and
she could see the stubble of beard on his jaw, heavier than she might
have expected with his fine skin. Turning at one point, he caught
her staring at him, but didn't object, just stared back through the
glasses. This was the corner. Did she want to look around to the
other side? She thought that maybe she did. And maybe he did, too.
Leaning in, she brushed her lips over his, and he didn't pull away.
He smelled like the onion in the dressing, and pumpkins, and salt
"I'm not in love with you," she whispered, because she didn't want
"I know," he replied, and as honesty required honesty, he added, "I'm
not in love with you, either."
"Good. I won't get involved with a band member."
She watched him consider that, and though his eyes were hidden, his
mouth told a story as he chewed it over. "This isn't getting
"No. It's scratching an itch. A one-time thing."
"I thought that was usually the guy's line."
She shrugged. "So, I think like a guy."
"No. Not really." But he was smiling, and he obviously didn't
consider that an insult.
"I'm not some sentimental Barbie!"
"I never said you were. You still don't think like a guy." He
frowned. "Why? Do you want to?"
She didn't reply, didn't want to reply, so she kissed him again, and
he let her, though his own mind was back on what she'd just told him.
Finally, he drew away to say, "Being a guy isn't all it's cracked up
to be, Lee. There's a lot of pressure on you."
Her dark grey eyes hooded slightly and her chin went up. "Did you
ever want to be a woman?"
He blinked. "No."
"So you like being a guy?"
"I don't really have much choice. But yeah, I guess so."
Pulling all the way out of his grasp, she leaned up against the edge
of the boat. "Men never want to be women. They shy from the whole
idea of it, because -� even if you won't admit it -� the idea of
being female is degrading, isn't it? Who'd want to be a girl if he
didn't have to?"
She rose abruptly then and went to mess with the sails and start
hoisting the anchor. Bewildered and a bit put off by her anger �-
and her claims -� he stared hard at the leftover pie. Finally, he
said, "That's not entirely true, y'know. For some guys, maybe it is,
but that's not why I never thought about being a woman. I just . . .
never thought about it. I like being a guy. But that doesn't mean I
think being a woman is degrading." He grinned. "I like girls quite
a lot, actually."
Her movements were almost violent as she wrapped the anchor rope.
"Sexually," she snapped. "Sexually, you like girls. But you
wouldn't want to *be* one. That's like saying, 'Some of my best
friends are black, but I wouldn't want to marry one.'"
Emotionally slapped, he rose up to stalk over �- or stalk as well as
anyone could on a boat -� and grabbed her wrist. "My best friend
*is* black, in case you didn't notice. And my other best friend is a
woman who happens to be a medical student *and* a Ph.D candidate.
She's one of the smartest people I know. I *like* her, and I
*respect* her, and that has nothing to do with the fact she's got two
That he was also sexually attracted to her wasn't something he wanted
to admit. It didn't, to his mind, have anything to do with his
friendship with Jean Grey. If anything, their friendship existed
"Maybe you're just weird, Summers," Lee was saying. "Most guys see a
girl and think with their dick. They come out to rent a boat, see me
behind the counter, and assume I'm some brainless bimbo who doesn't
know the tiller from the boom!"
Scott let her wrist go to cross his arms. "Well, I don't know the
tiller from the boom. Or I guess I do, but you know what I mean. I
don't think you're brainless. Or that being a woman means you can't
sail a boat. I don't make assumptions like that."
Her expression was one part amused to one part skeptical. "Oh, no?
You should've seen your face when I showed up to audition for your
Annoyed, he threw up his hands. "Jesus H. Christ! Your name isn't
exactly gender specific, Lee, and most drummers are guys. A little
assumption is to be expected. Big whoop! We did ask *you* to be in
the band, not one of the other guys we auditioned, and before you say
a word, we didn't ask *because* you were a girl, either. You're not
window-dressing. We asked because you were the best, hands down. So
what if we were a little surprised when you walked in? Your gender
didn't have anything to do with our decision." That wasn't entirely
the truth, of course, as he and EJ had discussed the matter, but in
the end, it hadn't factored much into their choice, and hadn't
mattered at all, since.
At least, not as far as music went. He had to admit that he'd never
before considered if he were interested in getting his drummer's
"Don't knock being a girl," he said finally. "I'm glad you are one."
Then abruptly, and maybe a tad reluctantly, he reached his decision
about the clothes. "And it's not because I want in your pants. In
fact, I don't think sex'd be a good idea. It'd make things really .
. . weird. At practice."
And a bit startled, Lee blinked. No one had ever turned her down
before. Not that she offered often, but she'd never been turned
down, and she couldn't decide if she were more relieved, or more
insulted. To her horror, "You don't think I'm pretty?" slipped out
of her mouth before she even thought about it. "Never mind," she
blurted. "Stupid question. Sorry." Upset and off her stride, she
tried to turn away.
"Yes, I think you're pretty." He put his body between her and the
rope that would let out the mainsail, so she couldn't escape him.
"I'm flattered by the offer, too -� and I'm not just saying that to
spare your feelings. But I don't want to have sex with you. I'd
rather be friends. And band members. And a really good rhythm
section. Sex would just . . . make it complicated. You said
yourself that you didn't love me."
"Since when did the *guy* want to wait until he's in love?"
"Why should that be so weird? But that's not it. I just . . . .
Dammit! It doesn't always have to be about sex, y'know."
She glanced up at him and the sea wind blew her curly hair back away
from her face. She was a pretty girl, if not a striking one, like
Jean, but Jean wasn't why he couldn't love her. He couldn't love her
because she didn't love herself. But he could like her, and he
offered her a hand to shake. "Friends?"
She studied the hand a moment, then gripped it firmly and they shook
once. "Friends," she said. "And a really good rhythm section."
Grinning, he leaned in to kiss her �- on the cheek.
The Sunday following, when EJ returned from LA, he asked �-
deliberately casually -� "So how did the sea date go?"
"It wasn't a date, Eeej. We just went sailing."
EJ's eyebrows climbed. "Oh, really?"
"Yeah, really. Nothing happened."
"You didn't sound so sure nothing was going to happen before I left."
"Well, I didn't know, before you left. But nothing happened. And
it's not going to."
Raised eyebrows lowered into a frown. "Nothing *bad* happened, I
"Nope. Nothing bad happened, either. We're just friends, Eeej. And
that's all it's going to be."
And sure enough, at the next scheduled band practice, all the sexual
tension had drained away. Scott and Lee were easier with each other,
affectionate, but sibling-like, and EJ was relieved -� not because he
wished Summers ill in the romance department, but because he hadn't
looked forward to being the odd-man-out in a band of three when two
were sharing a bed.
A few days later, after that very practice, Scott asked EJ, "Did you
ever think about being a girl?"
Taken by surprise, EJ glanced around from where he was working at his
desk in their room. Summers was working at his desk, too, under the
window, highlighting material in a textbook. "Not really," EJ said.
"Why? Have you?"
"I hadn't." Summers' expression was distant, even without being able
to see his eyes. "But now, I don't know. Isn't that a little odd,
when you think about it?"
Spinning his desk chair around, EJ plopped his feet on the corner of
his bed. "What brought this up, anyway?"
"A conversation. It made me think, so I asked Phoebe and Elizabeth
the other day if they'd ever thought about being a guy, and they both
said yeah, sure -� like that was normal, to have thought about it.
But I hadn't thought about it, and you said you hadn't, either. Why
is that? I mean, why do women think about it and men don't?"
Tipping his head back, EJ pondered the question. "Well, I'm not sure
a sample of four is a good statistic, man. You're the math major;
you should know that. Anyway, our society don't exactly reward the
fairer sex for being the fairer sex. I grew up with three sisters,
but I wouldn't want to be a woman. Not because I think there's
anything wrong with being one, but because I wouldn't want to put up
with the shit that goes with it. I think it's harder, to be a girl."
"So you think it's unconscious sexism?"
"Sure, some. There's a hell of a lot more sexism and racism still in
the U.S. than people like to admit. It's just gone under the porch
to hide, y'know? Let's put it this way. You ever think about being
"Occasionally, I guess."
"(Occasionally.* Well, I have to think about being white every day.
Being black is like living in a two-story house. Upstairs is my
world and downstairs is yours. I have to go downstairs all the time,
but you can't ever come upstairs, not really. I can tell you about
it, what it's like up there, and you can get a sense of it, maybe
even feel it a little, but you can't ever come all the way up the
steps. Being a woman must be like that. We don't have to think much
about what it's like to be a girl, but they have to live in our
world, y'know? Growing up, when my sisters started talking �bout
girl stuff . . . man, I was *out* the door! It was like I was afraid
I was going to catch cooties, or be a sissy or something, if I hung
around. Kinda stupid, now, but that says a lot, don't it?"
Summers was nodding, and the strangest expression had come over his
face. "There are a lot of two-story houses like that," he said.
"Yeah. There are."
"And you'd be willing to tell me what it's like to be upstairs in
"If you really want to hear. It might not always be easy to hear.
You can't take it personal."
"I won't. And yes, I'd like to hear."
"It's a deal then, slim-boy." And EJ grinned at him. Summers
Continued directly in Part 4c....
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