Continued directly from 15a......
March 1, 2001, 3:22pm PDT
bonedigger: <<sung>> 'I'm makin' a list, and checking it
jeangrey: ??? Have you had too much beer?
bonedigger: not at 3:30 in the afternoon. Just feeling silly.
bonedigger: been looking into schools out east
bonedigger: couple of possibilities
bonedigger: well, believe it or not, CUNY and Albany -- also
Penn State, Ohio State, Boston U, Yale and Harvard.
bonedigger: I doubt I could get into Harvard or Yale --
Berkeley or no Berkeley -- nor would I want to.
bonedigger: But CUNY? Along with Penn State, it'd be among
my first choices.
bonedigger: In some ways, PSU would be best, faculty-wise,
but CUNY is right there and they have a great grad program.
jeangrey: Scott, you don't *have* to come back to New York.
bonedigger: well, no -- but maybe I want to come back.
bonedigger: I kinda miss it.
jeangrey: Really? What do you miss?
bonedigger: oh, red hair.
jeangrey: You're a flirt.
bonedigger: Sometimes. Sometimes I'm serious, though.
jeangrey: I'm not sure how to answer that, Scott.
bonedigger: You don't have to answer it. Just think about it.
jeangrey: Shit. I have to go. Beeper's going off.
bonedigger: Is it really, or are you running away?
jeangrey: I'm not running away. It's going off. Later, Don
Juan. We'll talk.
** user jeangrey has disconnected **
Jean came barreling into Trauma A just in time to hear "Roll call!"
She had made it down in three minutes on the nose. "Here!" she
answered to her name as she gloved and gowned, then she asked,
"What've we got?"
"Motor vehicle accident," the head nurse replied, voice brisk,
reading from her clipboard. "Car rear-ended a semi, went right under
it. They had to use the Jaws to get out the driver. ETA is about
four minutes. Definite head and chest injuries -- he hit the
steering wheel -- along with a probable concussion, abdominal
injuries and multiple leg fractures. The EMTs tubed him on site but
his blood pressure is bottoming." And the nurse rattled off his
"Shit," Jean muttered under her breath. If the driver survived to
reach the ER they'd be doing well.
Four minutes could pass incredibly slowly, when one was waiting.
Around her, the trauma team finished preps. It was Jean's luck to be
teamed with Jack Lippman. He barely glanced at her as he listened to
the EMTs on the radio, and she tried to regularize her breathing.
She'd been here two weeks but this would be the worst she'd seen so
far. She watched the others -- they were primed, pumped, ready. She
was just scared shitless. She wasn't cut out for ER.
But the ambulance had arrived; she could hear the slam of the outer
ER doors, the calls of EMTs and nurses, and the drumming of feet on
linoleum. Seconds later, the trauma doors burst open and there he
was -- a bloody, torn figure amid stained sheets. Middle-aged,
unconscious, but still alive. "Primary assessment, people," Lippman
called. "Get him bagged and vented! EKG and pulse-ox stat! Type
him, too; we're going to need some blood here!" And whatever Jean
might have thought of Lippman personally, she had to admit he didn't
flinch. Jean went about her duties mechanically, weaving in and out
of the trauma-room dance, and tried not to look at the man's
shattered body as his clothing was cut away.
He wasn't going to make it.
How she knew that, she couldn't have said, but she knew. Oh, they'd
fight; they'd battle till there wasn't any hope, because they were
doctors, but he wasn't going to make it. Some things a body just
couldn't recover from.
Flashes struck her like strobes, the white and black illumination of
**Two kids in the den, a vivid impression of a stone fireplace and a
cherry armoire entertainment center. Arguments over the controllers
of a Play-Station. Two kids. Two girls. One had red hair. "Make
her stop, Daddy!"**
**The heat of summer and the choking dust kicked up by a mower.
Yellow iris along a fence and a yellow dog digging in the tomatoes.**
**A blonde woman reading a magazine and the same yellow dog sitting
beside her on the couch.**
**The blonde woman with her head thrown back, caught in the moment of
**Girls asleep, red hair and fair on pillows, the hum of a fish tank
in the background.**
"Jean! What the fuck are you doing? I said put in a central line,
Startled, she jumped to obey.
**The rise of mountains, blue with fog, and the twisting roads of the
Appalachian Trail. A hand on his knee, sliding up the inside of his
thigh while he checked signs for the right exit, looking past white
wedding flowers wrapped around the antenna.**
**Blinking lights on a Christmas tree.**
**Blinking fireflies in a June twilight.**
**Blinking lights on a highway . . . . Sliding lights . . . . too
fast . . . . gripping the wheel. Impact. Pain.**
SLAP! "Wake up! Or get the hell out of my trauma room!"
"Okay, okay," Jean muttered, blinking, struggling to focus on her
hands. She had an impression of nurses nearby in blue and green,
like fog and mountains.
**What's her problem? She looks drunk.**
**She's freaking out, freezing up.**
**Move, you stupid cow.**
**It's dark here. It's quiet. I think I'll stay.**
**Get her out of my ER.**
**Get her out of our ER.**
"Where's that blood, Hogan?"
**So quiet here. It doesn't hurt. Bye, bye, baby. Bye, bye, my
"I've got no blood pressure!"
**Get her out . . . **
**Get me out . . . **
**Out . . . . **
Some part of her is hungry, a sharp pain below the diaphragm. She
should find food. Lights whiz by. Horns. Voices. Sound lengthens,
then it speeds up, accelerating to a whine like bees. She can see
only one object at a time. A yellow fire hydrant. A concrete bench.
An abandoned white cardboard cup. A young girl in a striped
stocking cap. A blue U.S. mailbox on a street corner.
**Is she drunk?**
**Get out of the way, white bitch.**
"Hey, you wan' sometin', Mamma?"
Rough hands shove at her. She stumbles, then she dances. Twirl and
spin. Like headlights. Like a car out of control. Like death.
She laughs at them when they shy away. She's dead but they keep
speaking to her.
Where is her purse? She left it on the subway, she's sure. And a
bag of groceries. Her pictures were in that purse, her last
pictures. She follows the lights to some station. She's not sure
which. **I have to find my purse,** she says.
**Tough luck, lady.**
**But it's got pictures of my boy. My last pictures of my boy. He
died a month ago in Vietnam.**
**Vietnam ended twenty-five years ago, you freak.**
There's a little dog and a pack of Camels and a brown leather jacket
that she wears because it belonged to her brother. It still has the
smell of the docks about it. **My name's Jill, what's yours?**
**You like dogs, Julio? You like my little bitch?** She wiggles her
ass and laughs.
**I like you, baby.**
**The whine of an old air-conditioner kicking in before noon tells
her the day will be hot. Kids scream obscenities at each other in
the next room but she's too tired to care and the checkbook is
reading negative numbers again. "Shut the hell up!" she screams
finally, and her voice edges sharp with the lilt of Brooklyn. The
kids shut up. For two minutes.**
**Daisies spread under her fingers, and fern and lilies. She binds
their stems with sticky green tape and the bright smell of cut
flowers is strong. The shop bell rings. "I'll be right with you!"**
**Honeysuckle blooms in April. She remembers the fat waxy scent, and
the ugly shotgun houses lined up beyond the River. She remembers
Bourbon Street and the sour smell of old men who hadn't bathed, the
fetid stink of bad teeth when they kissed her, and the impatience of
calloused fingers pinching her nipples. Now her breasts sag and
she's old herself. Her pantyhose are wrinkled like the legs of
elephants as she lumbers down sidewalks.**
**She shifts the weight in her arms and pulls up her shirt, undoes
her bra. A hot mouth latches on and sucks hard. Pull, pull, until
the let down of milk. It gushes. And she, sleepy with the
sensation, relaxes back into her chair like the moment after climax.
Her fingers stroke the fine hair at the base of her baby's scalp.**
**"Candi tastes sweet, Candi tastes sweet, such a treat, all the boys
love to eat." But that's not the way it usually goes. On her knees,
she's doing the eating, and it's salty-bitter. A radio in the
background plays Red Hot Chili Peppers. She needs to tuck in her
blouse in back, and her neck hurts.**
It was a comment on the limits of Francesco's power that he wasn't
the first to know of Jean's awakening. Charles Xavier was. He'd
been the one to erect the walls in Jean's mind, and he knew it the
moment they crumbled, battered apart by the ram of a luckless man's
dying impressions. Death had woken her power the first time, and
death had called it forth once more, rising like a phoenix. There
would be no shutting it down again. The egg had hatched, Charles
thought. Now, the race was on to find her.
Yet he informed none of the other students at the mansion -- eleven
of them now, not counting Ororo and Frank. This, he had to do alone
insofar as he could; Jean's pride would bear no pity.
But first he made an overseas phone call to Scotland. The physician
couldn't heal herself, and there was no way to guess in what state
he'd find her. Besides, he might need Henry's assistance in the
weeks to come. Then he headed down to Cerebro. It was eight-fifteen
in the evening when he entered, but it took him half an hour to
pinpoint her location. Her fragmented mind led him on a merry chase,
darting in and out of the bushes of others' psychic impressions, and
he had to be so gentle, so gentle. A contest of wills with his
phoenix would only result in mutual bruising. This hunt required
stealth and skill. Finally he caught her in his net, holding her
mind like a man might hold a baby rabbit, fearful she'd leap and slip
**Quiet, little one. Sleep.**
And in Washington Heights on the steps of the Hammer Building only a
few blocks from New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Jean Grey sat down
and stared blankly at the street. Initially, she'd meandered out of
the immediate area of the medical center, but now had wandered back,
led to this one building by cosmic irony or years of habit. People
stepped around her; a few had seen her there before, including the
security guard, and so left her undisturbed. A dazed resident in
scrubs after a bad day wasn't so uncommon a sight, but there was
something a bit mad in the face of this one, and her hands were still
unwashed, stained red past the wrists. Pedestrians kept their
distance and their eyes rolled white like spooked horses -- even
those who might otherwise have tried to get away with something. The
insane were never predictable.
It took Xavier an hour and ten minutes to reach the area, then he
left his driver and car in the hospital parking lot to continue on by
himself. Here among the tall medical buildings, people were jumbled
into a mac�doine salad of skin, dress, and social class, and no one
glanced twice at the man in a wheelchair as he moved purposely up the
block towards the bright spot of fire in his mind. At last, he
spotted her. Curled up in nearly a fetal position on the landing,
she seemed far too small for the psychic glow she cast. Stopping at
the base of the stairs, he sent, **It's time to go, my dear.**
She'd seen Jesus and he was bald. Giggling, she called out, "Where's
your cross?" then unfolded herself to spread her arms wide like a
crucifix. The knuckles of one hand hit a corner of brick and it
hurt. Yanking it back, she sucked at it, got a mouthful of salty
iron. This is my blood that was shed for you.
**It's time to go,** he told her, and beckoned, and the taste of his
mind was strong -- intoxicating like aged, oak-cask cabernet, full of
smoke and plum and pepper. Was he Jesus or Dionysos, god of her
madness? Headlights slid by behind him. They beckoned, too, like
the white lights of death. But she'd seen death and it was dark.
**Goodbye, my babies. Goodbye, my Annie. Goodbye, goodbye.**
"Are we going to heaven?"
"We're going home, Jean."
But Jean wasn't her name. He couldn't be there, calling her home by
a name that wasn't hers, she thought. Yet what was her name? Jill?
Juanita? Candi? Maria? Jean? Autumn? Semele?
Semele. She was Semele with a veil as broad as the heavens because
her womb had held a god. "I'm Semele," she told him, then waited for
the strike of the thunderbolt that would immolate her.
But he said only, "Let's go home, Semele."
Rising, unsteady on her feet, she tripped down five concrete steps to
take the hand he stretched out to her, and in so doing, a little of
her confusion sloughed off like old skin. "Let's go home," he said
Continued direction in 15c.....
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