Title: Piano Playin' Fool
Author: Pat Phillips
Summary: Mike gets caught practicing
a solitary vice.
Rating/warning & pairing/characters:
Marie, Kitty, Jubilation, Logan, OC(Mike)
With the exception of Mike McWhirter,
I do not own these characters. Instead,
they are the property of Marvel Comics.
As a firm believer in property rights,
it's only reasonable that I specify that
my use of these characters should in no
way be interpreted as a threat to Marvel's
ownership of them.
All of my fan fiction, including this story,
is a not-for-profit venture. After all, when
you get down to it, who would pay for this
Readers of my other fiction may notice that
Mike is a minor character in "A Sacrifice
of Flowers". Note that this story assumes
that there was significant period of time
between the defeat of Magneto and the
Brotherhood at the Statue of Liberty and
Logan's leaving to investigate the Alkali Lake
facility. During that time Jean, Scott, Ororo,
and Logan conducted missions for the Professor.
That may not be exactly canon, but it allows
for some interesting stories.
PIANO PLAYIN' FOOL
It was just after dinner and everyone else in the school was
studying, watching TV, or otherwise busy.
I vanished. I did that by just sorta wandered off without drawing
attention to myself. Then I drifted around the mansion, doing
nothing in particular, talking to nobody. Finally, I drifted to my
destination. My biggest secret.
The Conservatory. Danged if I know why they call it that. Or what
the heck it conserves. I call it the piano room.
Yep. I play the piano. That startles the heck out of people who
don't know me.
My Mom has a piano sitting in our living room back home. Dad says
he tolerates it for Mom's sake. She loves to play. One of my
earliest memories is of watching her take a break from chores,
sitting at the bench and picking out some Bach, a basketful of
laundry beside her.
Oh, and by the way, Dad loves it when Mom plays. He just pretends
he doesn't. I've seen him more than once on the porch, with a beer
in his hand, supposedly "listening to the game" on the radio.
Except the radio was off and the window was open and Mom was playing
away in the living room. Why does he do that? Danged if I know.
It's one of those mysterious grownup things.
Mom tried to teach my brother Andy. That was a flop.
She didn't have to teach me. One day she heard the piano and walked
into the living room. To her surprise, there I was, frowning in
concentration as I hacked out the tune I heard her playing the day
before. That's maybe my second oldest memory.
I've never needed lessons. Once I hear a tune I like, I spend a
half-hour or so figuring out how to play it -- and then I can play
it from then on. No, I can't explain how I do that. I think it's
part of me being a mutant.
It drives my Mom crazy -- even though she likes to hear me play. It
bugs my little sister Mary, too. She wanted to play like Mom and
me. But she had to learn the hard way. She once got mad and threw
a book at me after I took a few minutes to learn something that she
had been struggling with for days. She got a lecture about keeping
her temper and I got one about showing off.
I closed the door to the piano room behind me. The room is fairly
sound-proof. As long as I don't pound the keys, it's fairly tough
to hear me playing.
Let's see... What first?
The History Channel had just finished a series about the Russian
front in World War II. Pete and I had watched it together. A
couple of times, I had to ignore the tears in his eyes. Later, Pete
recited to me the long, long list of men from his family who had
been fed into that meatgrinder. Not many of them came home. And
now all that was left was names and old folk's fading memories.
It's the same way in this country, too. We just didn't have to
bleed as bad.
There's this song. It was originally written for the guitar, so
it's awkward for the piano, but I've alwyas loved it. Al
Stewart's "Road to Moscow." -- about a soldier who fights through
the whole war for Mother Russia. And then after the fall of Berlin
he's casually sent off to die in Siberia by Stalin's thugs.
I don't sing (you can relax). I just play the music. But I could
hear the words in my head as I started working the keys...
"They crossed over the border the hour before dawn
Moving in lines through the day..."
I finished and there was the shocking sound of applause from behind
I almost screamed.
Kitty, Marie, and Jubes. Standing at the door. Grinning evilly.
My forehead hit the keys and the piano said something
No, no, no. They'd never let me live this down.
I felt a pair of hands carefully grab my shoulders and begin gently
working the muscles there.
"He's pretty talented. Surprising that he's so good at such a
girlyish thing," said Jubes. She was the one holding my shoulders.
Meanwhile, Kitty and Marie both slid onto the bench with me, Kitty
to my right, Marie to my left.
Nightmare. That must be it. I was having a nightmare. Please let
me wake up.
"Just imagine how the Professor will react when we tell them," Marie
"The Professor loves music," said Kitty. "So I imagine he'll end up
like all the other kids who can play instruments."
OK, I had a plan. I would run out of here, throw some clothes into
my traveling pack, and hop the first freight train back to Colorado.
"That means..." and Kitty paused dramatically.
"A Recital," they all whispered together.
"Just imagine, Mike. You'll be in a nice black suit, with a cute
little tie, in front of the entire school..." suggested Kitty,
whispering in my ear.
The heck with the clothes. I was heading straight from here to the
Marie ran a gloved hand through my hair, "Of course, Michael dear,
there might be a way out."
A brief spark of hope.
"We just need you to do a few things for us," said Jubes, giving me
a kiss on the back of my head.
Hope was dead.
"Of course, we'll need our rooms cleaned for the rest of the school
year," said Marie thoughtfully.
"Somebody has to write my history reports," added Jubes.
Well, it's not like that would be too hard.
"And you need to pay a little more attention to your math lessons,
and less to my body, when I'm tutoring you," mentioned Kitty.
Sigh. I guess I was being more obvious about that than I thought.
"And you're going to be cooking breakfast for me every Sunday from
now on," continued Marie.
Oops, Marie's revenge. But if she was willing to run the risk of
eating my cooking, I'd do it.
"Good idea. In fact, let's make that breakfast for all of us," said
More guts than brains on their part, but OK.
"I guess the argument about moving on to advanced geometry is over.
We start tomorrow," said Kitty thoughtfully.
"With a little training, I'm sure he'd do a good job of washing
clothes," suggested Marie.
"Foot massage. Lots and lots of long, lingering, foot massage,"
added Jubes eagerly.
"Get out," said Mr. Logan.
Everyone jumped. Including me.
He was standing at the door. Looking disgusted.
"Charlie knows all about the kid and the piano. I heard him playing
the first time he snuck in here. I was impressed and I told
Charlie. So you got nothing to hold over Mike. Now get your skinny
little butts outta here and leave him alone."
There was a lot of grumbling and complaining. A backhanded swat was
delivered to a backside belonging to a particularly loud mouth.
There was an outraged squeal.
When we were alone, he sat down on a nearby couch.
"Thanks. I owe you one," I said.
"Look, kid, you know they were just teasing you, right?. They're
good girls and they like you. They wouldn't do anything to hurt you
or your feelings."
"So why'd you get involved?"
"'Cause I figured they were going to spend all evening screwing with
your head. And you haven't got around to playing any jazz yet."
"The Professor really knows?"
"Yeah. But he figures that if you want some privacy, then you
should have it. Which reminds me, do you want me to leave?"
"Nah. How about some John Lewis?"
"Sounds good. OK if I go grab a beer before you start?"