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AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE: 5c (S/J, prefilm)

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  • Minisinoo
    Continued directly from part 5b.... ... And where the fuck were *you*, man? EJ asked -– loudly -– as soon as he unlocked their dorm room door. Summers
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2002
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      Continued directly from part 5b....

      ---

      "And where the fuck were *you*, man?" EJ asked -� loudly -� as soon
      as he unlocked their dorm room door. Summers had missed their
      English class, and a quiz, and that wasn't like him. EJ had conjured
      visions of accidents or other dire emergencies until he'd gotten back
      to Norton Hall only to see Summers' racing bike locked up downstairs
      in its usual place.

      "Don't yell, please," came a voice from the bed. The room was dark,
      or at least dim, with the curtains shut tightly, and Summers lay on
      his bed, on his back, a cloth over his eyes. The room stank badly,
      all sweet and sharp, making EJ gag.

      "God, did you *vomit*?"

      "Yeah. Jesus, I'm sorry. I just . . . I'm so sick. You might want
      to go somewhere else tonight."

      *Shit*, EJ thought to himself. This was the fourth time Summers had
      suffered one of his migraines since the year had begun, but always
      before, the migraines had hit him in the late afternoon or early
      evening, and had never been this bad. Shaking his head, EJ dug
      through his dirty clothes for a towel. The smell told him where
      Summers had dumped his breakfast near the bed's foot in front of the
      little fridge; it had half-dried into the cheap brown carpet.
      Getting down on his knees, he began to clean it up.

      "*Don't do that*," Summers hissed from the bed. "You don't have to
      do that."

      "Don't have to, no," EJ said softly. "But the longer it's on the
      floor, the worse the room'll smell. And you're in no shape."

      "EJ."

      "Shut the fuck up, Slim. You're sick."

      He finished the job, though he gagged three times and almost emptied
      his own stomach in the process. It took two towels and a bowl of
      water. When he was done, he opened the windows but left the curtains
      shut, then seated himself carefully on the edge of his friend's bed.
      "You take anything for it?"

      "Yes." Summers' face was pasty even in the low light and he was
      sweating, his jaw clenched tightly from pain.

      "It's bad, isn't it?" EJ asked. Summers didn't reply. "I think you
      ought to go to the Tang, man. I'll drive you over there." Tang was
      the student health center.

      "No."

      "Slim-boy �- "

      "No, EJ. I've had them this bad before. It's just . . . too much
      light." He was almost panting as he spoke. "It'll be better by
      morning."

      "Maybe so, but you got a quiz to make up. You know the prof requires
      a legit excuse to let you retake a test. You need a doctor's note."

      "Not for this. Migraines are on my disabilities form."

      "Then at least let me call one of the student health workers.
      They're just downstairs."

      "No, dammit!" And he winced. "Ow." A pause to breathe. "Just go
      away, okay?"

      So EJ took his books next door and tried to study in Phoebe and
      Elizabeth's room, but they were perched cross-legged on their beds,
      deeply involved in a discussion of which show's heroine was tougher:
      BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. On another
      afternoon, he might have found it amusing, or even joined in, but not
      today. Fed up, he returned to check in on Summers, who appeared to
      be asleep. Cautiously pulling out the chair at Summers' desk, EJ
      seated himself where a little late afternoon light slipped in through
      the curtains and he could read. He might have retreated to the
      lounge, but didn't want to go that far, in case Scott needed him.
      Breathing heavy, Summers had rolled onto his side, the white cheese
      cloth still over the upper half of his face. He'd said before that
      wearing glasses or goggles only made it hurt worse when he got these
      headaches. Too much weight on his eyes.

      About an hour had passed when Summers suddenly said, "I need to go
      pee."

      EJ glanced over at him. "You want help?"

      "Maybe to get down there, yeah."

      So EJ shut his book and helped Summers to sit up very slowly, while
      Scott tied the cloth over his eyes like a blindfold. Then EJ helped
      him stand. He was shaking and still sweaty. "I am so sorry to bug
      you with this," he said, an edge of both anger and real pain in his
      voice.

      "It's not a problem, man. What do you think friends are for?"

      Summers didn't reply to that. He'd been taught to stand on his own
      two feet, keeping pain -� either physical or emotional -� to himself.
      He might be happy to give assistance, but hated to take it unless he
      were utterly incapacitated. As he was now. Needing EJ's help
      speared his pride. Fortunately for them both, the bathrooms were
      close to their room, and nearly empty just now, but the bright light
      of the hall, the necessity of movement, and the noise of conversation
      or music from other rooms sawed into Summers' skull like a dull
      knife. As soon as he got into the restroom, the first thing he did
      was push his face up against the cool tile wall. "Hurts," he said.
      EJ almost had to carry him into a stall, which got odd looks from the
      few others in there.

      "Bad trip?" one asked.

      "It's not drugs," EJ snapped back. "He's just sick."

      "Whoa," the other boy replied, holding up hands and backing out of
      the toilet area. "Just asking, dude. Maybe he should go to Tang?"
      But he was gone before EJ (or Scott) could reply.

      "You don't have to hold me up; I can piss by myself," Summers said,
      shutting the stall door in EJ's face. Shame had rendered him rude.
      Taking it philosophically, EJ grabbed some paper towels from the
      dispenser above the sinks, in case he needed them, only to be
      interrupted by a crash behind. Summers had collapsed after all -�
      fainted in fact -� and EJ had to crawl under the door to get inside
      so he could stand him up and pull on his pants. But EJ's hands felt
      wrapped in gauze and a belly-deep panic caused him to fumble buttons
      and zippers. The stall was too narrow for two people, and the whole
      situation fell to the far left of absurd, but they weren't going to
      be laughing about this later. Conscious once more, if groggy,
      Summers was sobbing in humiliation like a drunk, apologizing over and
      over and saying he was too dizzy to stand.

      "Stop it, man," EJ hissed. "Come on, stop it. You're making
      yourself sicker and you'll throw up again. Relax and let me take
      care of you. Trust me, okay? You gotta trust somebody."

      Summers nodded and, in that moment, something subtle shifted. EJ
      felt his body relax, and he leaned his forehead into EJ's shoulder.
      "Okay. I trust you."

      So EJ got him dressed and slipped an arm around him, walking him over
      to the sinks where he could wash his face with cool water, or as much
      of it as the cheese-cloth bared. Then he just picked him up and
      carried him back to their room. *He ain't heavy, he's my brother*,
      he thought, trying to lighten the moment because he was scared out of
      his mind.

      After getting Summers back into bed, EJ did something he knew wasn't
      kosher, but he was desperate, and one step away from calling an
      ambulance. Taking Scott's cell phone off his desk, he went out into
      the hall and pushed "1" on the speed dial, waiting while the phone
      rang, and breathing out in relief when a woman answered, "Hello?"

      "Is this Jean Grey?" he asked.

      Silence. "Yes. Who is this?"

      "EJ Haight -� Scott's roomy. Man, I need your help. He's really
      sick and I don't know what's up but he won't let me take him to the
      school health center or call a student health worker and I'd call an
      ambulance but I thought I'd try you first and see what you thought I
      should do, if there was anything else to do, and �- "

      "*EJ!*" she interrupted on the other end. "Stop! Calm down."

      He stopped and caught his breath. "Okay."

      "Good. Now listen to me. You cannot take Scott to a hospital. Do
      you understand? Do *not* take him to a hospital! They won't know
      what to do and could wind up hurting him. I need you to answer some
      questions for me. Can you do that?"

      "Yeah."

      "Then tell me what, exactly, is happening."

      "It's one of his headaches, but *really bad*. It must have hit right
      after breakfast �cause he missed class. He threw up, too, and he
      just totally flipped me out in the bathroom by fainting."

      "He fainted? Tell me, how many times did he vomit?"

      "Just the once."

      "Does he know where he is and who he is, or is he delirious?"

      "No, he's okay on that score, I think."

      She sighed into the phone and he realized that she must have been
      scared herself. "That's not so bad, then. Is Scott where I can talk
      to him?"

      "I'm out in the hall. He doesn't know I called you."

      "I thought maybe as much," and he could hear the amusement in her
      voice. "Take the phone back into the room and give it to him. I
      need to ask him some questions."

      "He's going to kill me."

      "Not when I get done with him. You did the right thing. He's pushed
      himself too far."

      So EJ took the phone back into their room and sat down on Scott's
      bed. "Hey man, Jean's on the phone and wants to talk to you."

      "What?" Summers muttered, rolling slowly onto his back and reaching
      out blindly to feel for the phone. EJ put it in his hand. "I didn't
      hear it ring."

      "It didn't. I called her."

      "EJ!"

      "You're in a bad way, man. I needed some advice."

      *Scott*, came from the cell phone's earpiece and Scott put it to his
      ear. EJ moved over to his own bed, to give them some privacy. He
      couldn't hear what Jean asked, but Scott replied only with 'yes,'
      'yes,' 'no,' and 'okay.'

      Finally, he held out the phone to EJ, who took it back to ask, "So?"

      "He'll be fine," Jean replied. "This is a bad one, yes, but he's
      been through worse and there isn't much to be done beyond what you're
      doing already. Just let him sleep and give him Imitrex �- his pain
      meds �- if he asks for it. And he'd better ask for it. In the
      morning, he owes you an explanation. I told him that. But call me
      again if he should start vomiting, become delirious, or complain of a
      great pressure in his head."

      "All right."

      "EJ -� thank you. He won't say so, but thank you."

      So EJ bullied Scott into taking some pain medication, then went next
      door again to let him sleep, hoping Elizabeth and Phoebe were past
      their Kick-Butt-Women-on-TV debate. They were, but he still got
      little studying done and retired early at ten o'clock. The next
      morning, Summers was up but wobbly on his feet, so EJ insisted that
      he stay home from class. When EJ returned some time after two, he
      found Summers sitting at his desk under the window, showered,
      dressed, and wasting time surfing the Net. He turned at EJ's
      entrance. "Hey."

      "Hey! How you feeling?"

      "All right, I guess. A little stupid."

      "Why? It wasn't your fault."

      But Summers just looked off at the far wall, no expression on his
      face. Light from the window behind cut his profile clean and sharp.
      Then he stood. "We need to talk, Eeej." Head tilted, he eyed his
      friend. "You asked me yesterday to trust you. Okay, I'm going to."

      "Why does this sound like something I may not like?"

      Summers shrugged. "I don't know what you'll think. But after
      yesterday, you deserve to know the whole truth. Let's go somewhere
      else, though. Some of this, you need to see �- and I don't dare show
      you here."

      EJ's unease was metamorphosing into a low-grade alarm. "What's so
      bad you can't show me here?"

      "It's not bad. It's just . . . . I can't show you here. Let's go
      up to that little woody area near the Big C. Come on." And he
      slipped past EJ, out into the hall, then paused to glance back. EJ
      still stood in their dorm room, his backpack over his shoulder.
      "Look �- I'm not going to take you up there and murder you or
      anything." He grinned, but it was strained and the joke fell flat.
      "Let's go," he finished, and EJ tossed the backpack onto his bed and
      followed him out.

      They rode bikes; EJ still had his even though he'd brought back a car
      after Christmas. No one drove on campus. Only mid-afternoon on a
      Thursday, students were still thick on the sidewalks, so they had to
      weave their way carefully, which suited Scott. He wasn't yet up to
      great physical exertion. The spring temperatures were mild and trees
      were blooming under a clear-quartz sky, early flowers bright in
      mulched beds and crowded into artfully placed cement planters. The
      ride might have been pleasant had his stomach been churning less.
      They reached the rise that led up to the Big C overlooking the Bay,
      but he turned off the path before they were even halfway there,
      heading into the surrounding trees on foot, pushing his bike. EJ
      followed, and Scott kept an eye out to be sure that no one else did,
      accidentally or not.

      Some way inside, there was a little clearing that Scott had found the
      previous August. A fallen pine had taken down two others, creating
      an odd triangle of rotten wood draped in vines and white lichen.
      There, they leaned their bikes against trees and faced each other �-
      edgy, unsure, suspicious -� until abruptly, Scott started laughing.
      "Christ, this seems so pretentious!" Baffled, EJ said nothing, just
      watched as his friend sat down on a fallen log. "Sit, Eeej. You
      look like you think I have a brain tumor or something."

      In fact, that very fear had flitted through EJ's head earlier, but he
      couldn't imagine why Summers wouldn't have been able to tell him that
      in the dorm, or what Summers had to show him that necessitated being
      outdoors. "Okay," he replied cautiously, and came to sit on another
      log, a few feet away. Summers noticed the distance but didn't
      comment.

      And now that the moment was upon him, Scott had absolutely no idea
      where to start. He'd spent most of the day thinking it through and
      rehearsing, but -� perhaps predictably -� everything had scattered
      out of his head when the time had arrived. So he went with the short
      and simple. "I'm a mutant."

      EJ didn't immediately answer, then said only, "Huh?"

      And Scott Summers blinked. He'd anticipated any of a good half-dozen
      replies, even prepared for them, but none had included �Huh?'
      Perspective thus duly returned, he laughed at himself. However much
      the events in Winnipeg had preyed on his own mind for the week since
      spring break, EJ had probably forgotten all about it. "I'm a
      mutant," he repeated. "You remember that guy from the news when we
      were down at your house? The guy up in Winnipeg who was �- "

      " -� turning over cars?" EJ's bafflement had transformed into shock,
      but not into alarm. "But you don't . . . you're not . . . ." EJ
      stopped and stared. "You don't look like that guy did."

      "No. Each mutation is unique. I have no idea who that guy was, or
      even what his mutation is, other than excessive strength. I don't
      get my jollies flipping SUVs, though. I usually try to avoid hurting
      people. My own mutation . . . " He tapped his glasses. "It's here,
      in my eyes."

      "What do they look like?"

      "Huh?" His turn now for monosyllabic brilliance.

      "Your eyes -� what do they look like?" EJ leaned in a little. "I
      figured there had to be something serious wrong with them, since you
      won't ever let anyone see them."

      "Actually, they don't look any different at all �- as long as they're
      closed." He glanced up, to be sure no branches obscured the sky
      directly overhead, then shut his eyes and pulled his glasses off.
      "See? It's when they're open that we have a problem. That's why I
      have to wear the glasses, and why I had to bring you out here. I
      could try to explain it to you, but it's probably easier just to show
      you."

      Tilting his chin up, he opened his eyes and felt the energy coil,
      then explode skyward in a bright neon wash of red.

      One second, two, three.

      Shutting his eyes once more, he lowered his chin to put the glasses
      back on. There was silence, not even the call of birds. And no
      sound from EJ at all.

      Safe behind ruby quartz, Scott opened his eyes to find his friend on
      his feet and half way across the clearing. But he wasn't running.
      Instead, he wore a stupefied expression. "Holy *shit*! *You're* the
      Berkeley UFO?"

      ----

      Yes, it's a bit of a cliffhanger, and yes, I have a reason for it
      besides yanking the chains of readers. :-)

      If you're a fan of the images I include in html chapters, check the
      website tomorrow, to see if I've been able to upload the chapter
      there, with images.

      Feedback is -- as always -- welcome.

      --Min


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