"The Player on the Other Side" (WIP, CH.1) Scott [PG-13] X1 and X2
- CH. 1 con't
"Did you sleep well?" Charles asked. He reached up and locked his
arms around Scott's neck. Scott straightened, lifting Charles off the
bed. He pivoted and gently placed the older man in his wheelchair.
Charles released his grip and settled back. He accepted the baggy
sweatshirt Scott handed him and pulled it over his head.
"I guess." Scott draped a jacket over Charles' shoulders, in the
apparent belief that the fleece shirt and sweatpants could not
be relied upon to stave off pneumonia during the perilous trek through
the air-conditioned hallways to the school gym. "Think I was more
tired when I woke up than when I went to sleep. I was having this
dream about rock-climbing in Colorado."
"Maybe it was Nevada."
Scott shot him a quizzical look. "Maybe. My old man was stationed at
Nellis when I was eight." He turned away and began to strip down
Charles motored from his bedroom through an enlarged doorway into the
adjoining bathroom specially modified for wheelchair usage. He was
rinsing out a mouthful of toothpaste when Scott walked in with a
bundle of Charles' linens and pajamas, which he dumped it into the
laundry hamper. In the other hand he carried the plastic urinal
Charles used as necessary in the night. He emptied it into the
toilet, rinsed it in the utility sink, set it to one side, and washed
Charles observed him in the mirror over the sink. He said nothing.
Every now and then he said something. Every week or so he would say
mildly, "We really should hire another orderly," and Scott would
assume his most forbidding expression, the one he reserved for
genocidal maniacs and Logan.
Charles asked abruptly, "Did you want to go back for a visit?"
"What?" Scott was now rummaging inside the linen closet.
Charles rubbed a damp washcloth over his face. "Colorado. Nevada.
Alaska. The places where you grew up." He hung up the washcloth on
the rack next to the sink.
Scott leaned backwards with an armful of fresh sheets. "Yeah, right."
Charles could positively hear the eyes rolling under the red
shades. "Yeah, I should go to my tenth high school reunion in San
Diego. Wouldn't even have to pay for a hotel. The D.A. said there'd
always be a cell for me."
"Scott. . . ." Charles hesitated. Did he really want an answer? "What
would you have done with your life if I hadn't interfered?"
Scott stopped short. "Interfered? Is that what you think you did?" He
looked astonished. "You didn't interfere. You gave me my life back."
"I gave you *a* life. Is it one you wanted?"
Scott tucked the fresh sheets under one arm and shut the door of the
linen closet. He turned around and planted his back against the door
as he considered the question.
He said, finally, "It's not what I planned on, no. I didn't plan on
turning into a human ray gun, either. Plans change." He paused. "I
always knew I didn't want a job. I wanted a mission." He paused
again. "Yeah. This is the life I wanted all along."
It was exactly the answer Charles wanted to hear. He shifted
uneasily. Excepting Jean, the X-Men would be surprised to meet the
Scott he knew -- overly eager-to-please, too suggestible, too easily
manipulated by those who professed to love him. Erik had very nearly
managed to exploit Scott's fatal flaw, and Charles had found the
strength to send Erik away. Was he, Charles, no better a father?
"There are number of other ways in which you could make a
difference," he said. "Think of Warren and Hank. You don't have to a
teacher. You don't have to take over the school." Charles
hesitated. "You don't have to be involved with the X-Men."
"Charles, it's what I want to do with my life." Anger crept into
Scott's voice. "I'm not here because I can't think of anything better
He stalked out of the bathroom.
Charles prudently dawdled a bit before motoring back into the
bedroom. He glanced in passing at the training schedule posted on the
door of the linen closet. Even at a distance he would have no
difficulty reading Erik's -- no, Scott's -- copperplate. An upper-
body workout with free-weights, today. On other days, Scott would
lift him out of his wheelchair and move him among several different
Cybex or Nautilaus machines for a series of exercises designed to
strengthen his abdominal and lateral and back muscles. Twice a day,
before getting Charles out of bed in the morning and after putting
him to bed in the evening, Scott would move Charles' legs through
range-of-joint-motion exercises designed to prevent muscle
contractures. Charles sighed. It was obvious to him and to every
other resident of the mansion that Scott could not tend to a
paraplegic in addition to his other duties. But Mystique's
assassination attempt had added a few million miles to Scott's guilt
trip. And Charles could not bring himself to shoo Scott off until
Scott was ready to stop clinging.
Ever the altruist, Charles, the memory of Erik sneered. Nothing in it
for you, I'm sure.
Be quiet, Erik, he thought tiredly, and motored into the bedroom of
"I wasn't suggesting that," he said, as though there had been no
break in their discussion.
Scott nodded stiffly. Silently and clearly he communicated his wish
to discontinue this particular conversation. Charles communicated
Scott turned back to the task of making Charles' bed. The tightly
tucked sheets and sharp hospital corners would have brought tears of
joy to the eyes of any drill sergeant. Not so the bed's maker.
Scott's face was stubbled, his hair was rumpled, his Xavier Institute
jersey and gym shorts were too threadbare for the rag bag. Charles
could scarcely believe Scott's gym shorts had yet to actually
disintegrate, but he suspected the day was rapidly approaching, and
that Jubilee would manage to be a witness.
"Thanks for the image," Scott muttered. He raised his head, tried to
scowl, and wound up reluctantly smiling back. Somewhat self-
consciously he scraped the knuckles of one hand along his jaw.
Charles remembered when Scott used to fake it with a razor to impress
Jean. And as happened often and unpredictably these days, tears stung
Charles' eyes when he thought of Jean, or more specifically, Jean and
Scott, and he quickly maneuvered his chair around toward the window,
as though to await the sunrise.
He knew he was a party, however unwittingly, to the disintegration of
the relationship between two people he loved dearly. Apparently he'd
become so superannuated he'd honestly perceived Logan as just another
stray child. And so he had invited another alpha male into Scott's
territory, with results that anyone could have predicted -- anyone,
it seemed, but a licensed psychiatrist.
Logan had demonstrated on Liberty Island that he would make a
valuable addition to the X-Men, but that had become rather beside the
point. Scott's happiness was the point -- had always been the point
of Charles's endeavors, all the activities he supposedly undertook
for the good of mutantkind. It shamed him, at times, to think how
truly parochial his motives were. Logan had helped to save the world,
and Charles found now he simply wanted the man gone.
But Logan was not going to oblige until Charles furnished, as
promised, a solid lead to his missing past. And as Charles had
discovered, Logan had taken advantage of an old man's irritatingly
slow convalescence to pursue Jean ever more openly. Silly, vain girl -
- could she not understand that Logan viewed her simply as another of
Scott's possessions to acquire?
Charles firmly resolved that by the end of the week -- no later -- he
would unearth sufficient information to satisfy Logan and send him on
his way. And he'd think of an excuse to send Scott and Jean to some
romantic spot to mend fences. He didn't want to think what would
happen if their relationship dissolved. He didn't want to think what
would happen if Scott were a free agent. A man could only practice
self-restraint for so long.
The grandfather clock chimed six times. Hurriedly Charles wheeled his
chair about and motored through his bedroom toward the door to the
hallway. He knew, without looking, that Scott would follow.
- Title: The Player on the Other Side
Characters Ch. 4: Scott, Lyman, OCs.
Summary Ch. 4: Life goes on as usual for the troops stationed at
Alkali Base. Life does not go on as usual for Scott Summers.
Note Ch. 4: Please, folks, don't necessarily believe what you read
here about U.S. domestic policy on terrorism. There is
(intentionally) a lot of bullshit and bad information flying here.
Note #2: I don't know the official Marvel explanation for how Scott
operates his visor. Hope you like what I made up.
Summary WIP: A popular officer is framed for the destruction of
Alkali Base. His friends band together to ruin the mutant they
Rating Ch. 4: PG-13
Author: Rachel Martin
Archive: Archive anywhere.
Disclaimers: The X-Men belong to Marvel and 20th Century Fox. No
copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.
Feedback: Feedback is welcome. Critical comments will not be
misinterpreted as a flame.
Tyler picked up his tray and glanced around the Alkali Base mess hall
for a seat. Sam Tyler was used to eating alone. There weren't a lot
of people at Alkali with whom he could associate with propriety.
Major Lyman, if he wanted to court a case of acid indigestion. First
Sergeant Gonzalez. And -- yes, Major Kraski, sitting at the table by
the plastic dustcatcher -- a ficus tree, he thought it was supposed
to be. Lyman was seated at the same table, not at Kraski's
invitation, of that Tyler was certain, and appeared to be well into
the process of ruining Kraski's appetite. Lyman was mostly ignoring
Dr. Yates, who had taken the seat next to him. Jesus, this place,
Tyler thought. The soap opera that was Alkali Base would have amused
the shit out of anyone who didn't have to live it.
Lyman leaned forward over the table and touched Kraski's arm,
apparently to drive home some point. Kraski leaned backward. Tyler
ground his teeth.
Sam Tyler was in love in with Ellen Kraski. It was one of those
hopeless love affairs that exist only in the Army and some of the
more caste-conscious cultures of the Third World. Tyler's wife had
been dead for six years and Kraski was divorced, but that was beside
the point. Sam Tyler was a colonel and Ellen Kraski was a major.
Major Kraski was the reason why, after thirty-two years of service,
he had quietly removed himself from the one-star list and submitted
his retirement packet.
"Kraski," he said stiffly, nodding to her, ignoring Lyman and Yates,
as he put his tray down on the long cafeteria table and took a seat.
He was well aware that every kid in the mess hall was covertly eyeing
their table. He and Kraski were the highest-ranking male and female
officers on the base -- "rankin'est", as the kids said -- the alpha
male and female of the facility, as it were, and the rest of the pack
paid close attention to them and their doings. All the more reason to
behave with excruciatingly correct decorum.
"Sir," Kraski said in evident relief.
"Sir," Lyman echoed unenthusiastically.
"Colonel," Yates said politely.
Tyler began eating.
The four of them ate in dead silence for about five minutes. Tyler's
rank had a way of creating situations like that.
"So," Tyler said, finally. "Movie Night, right?"
Kraski was the headquarters commandant, meaning, in a base as
isolated as Alkali, that she was the jack-of-all-trades, the go-to
guy, his right-hand man. Woman. Person. And among her many additional
duties was that of Morale, Welfare and Recreation Officer. That, in
the eyes of the troops, made her the most important person in the
complex. Maybe the second-most important -- the cook probably took
the top spot.
Kraski nodded. Movie Night wasn't about watching movies -- every kid
in the complex seemed to own a portable DVD player. Movie Night was
about socializing and sharing the stale junk food that people's
parents sent them via a numbered mail drop in Washington, D.C. Tyler
looked forward to Movie Night. It was his only opportunity to see
Kraski with her hair down and make-up on.
"*The Fast and the Furious,*" Kraski said. "And *Black Hawk Down.*
For the friggin' millionth time. It's turning into the *Rockie Horror
Picture Show.* All the guys yelling the dialog."
"So I guess I'm never going to see the ending of *Harry Potter,*
Kraski affected a scowl. Tyler grinned. The Harry Potter movie had
been one of her less than well-received choices.
They ate. Tyler was pleased to see Kraski finish her lunch. Lyman and
his ham-handed flirting would put any woman off her chow, he thought,
and Tyler, who had grown up lusting after Marilyn Monroe, preferred
his women curvy. And Kraski was going to be his woman. If he had to
shove Lyman off Alkali Dam.
Kraski pushed the tray aside, picked up her cup of coffee and turned
it around in her hands. "Sir. . . . you got a moment?"
He nodded. Every meal at Alkali inevitably turned into a working
breakfast or lunch or dinner. She looked at Lyman, with whom she had
been assiduously avoiding eye contact. Lyman immediately perked up.
Tyler repressed the sudden intensified urge to choke the shit out of
"The, uh, the mutie," she said quietly. All four of them
automatically glanced around the mess hall. Their table was quite
isolated. "How long is this situation gonna go on, sir? We can't keep
going on like this."
Lyman dropped his smile. His eyes narrowed.
"Like what?" Tyler asked warily. He glanced at Lyman.
"It's a violation of the Geneva Convention, sir," Kraski said.
"He's a terrorist, sir," Lyman snapped. "A detainee. Not a P.O.W. The
Geneva Convention doesn't apply."
"He's wearing a uniform with rank insignia on the collar. That makes
him not a terrorist, Lyman. He's entitled to --"
"He's entitled to shit. Or do you think you know the law of war
better than the Secretary of Defense?"
"Kraski," Tyler said, and sighed. It killed him to side with Lyman on
any issue, including the time of day. "I checked it out with Army
Pentagon. Summers is a detainee, not a P.O.W. That uniform of his
means jack shit. It means about as much as a red bandana. The Crips
and the Bloods aren't soldiers and neither is he."
"But sir -- then --"
"He took over for Magneto, Kraski," Lyman said. He seemed to be
recovering rather quickly from his shock at being seconded by
Tyler. "They think he's Magneto's son, for Chrissake. The FBI's been
watching him ever since Liberty Island."
Kraski did not look happy. "So why is he here?"
"It's a deception tactic, Major," Lyman said condescendingly. "We
don't want al Qaeda or the mutants to know we've got him. So the
Secretary is detaining him in isolation here. The Pentagon is busy
feeding all kinds of bullshit to both sides in his name."
"I understand that, Lyman," Kraski said in a poisonously sweet tone.
Tyler remembered hearing that tone of voice for the first time in
1975. The time he'd bought a car without bringing his bride along to
the dealership, because what did girls know about cars?
"That wasn't my question," the future Mrs. Tyler continued. "My
question is, why isn't he in a civilian jail? He's an American
citizen. He's entitled to due process and all that kind of stuff."
"For Christ's sake, he's not even a human being, Kraski. How the fuck
can he be an American citizen? Maybe you think a mutt deserves a
trial before going to the pound."