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"The Player on the Other Side" (WIP, CH.7) Scott [PG-13] X1 and X2

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  • rachel_martin64
    Post 2 of 3 So the Mustang it was. Rogue flipped through Mr. Summers CD collection and discovered that he liked jazz, blues, and German opera. They listened
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 6, 2003
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      Post 2 of 3

      So the Mustang it was. Rogue flipped through Mr. Summers' CD
      collection and discovered that he liked jazz, blues, and German
      opera. They listened to Billie Holiday and Lena Horne, and Lena
      sang, "Someday he'll come along, the man I love, And he'll be big and
      strong, the man I love, And when he comes my way, I'll do my best to
      make him stay."

      Mr. Summers popped out the Lena Horne CD and popped in "Count Basie
      Recorded Live at the Southland Theatre Restaurant, February 20,
      1940," according to the insert. Mr. Summers didn't seem to listen to
      anything recorded after World War II, which actually sort of fit in
      with her image of Mr. Summers, unless he kept those CDs stashed in
      the suite he shared with Dr. Grey. And right on cue Mr. Summers
      started singing along to, "The Chicks I Pick Are Slender, Tender And
      Tall," and Rogue thought she just might bust a gut laughing.

      So the drive wasn't nearly as long as she might have wished, but she
      was excited, nevertheless, to arrive. She'd never seen anything of
      the city, except, of course, for Liberty Island (and that trip most
      definitely did not count). Rogue gawped through the windshield in
      amazement at the buildings, the lights, the crowds, and the traffic.
      She gawped, as well, at Mr. Summers' driving. The streets of midtown
      Manhattan seemed to summon forth the sedate Mr. Summers' inner Dale
      Ernhardt. Rogue privately thought that if she were the Professor, she
      wouldn't let Cyclops get behind the wheel of anything more expensive
      than a 1978 Pinto.

      Rather to her surprise, the Mustang didn't have a scratch on it when
      Mr. Summers parked it in a garage on Eighth Avenue and 49th Street.
      She wrapped her hooded cloak closely about herself as he led the way
      along the crowded sidewalks of a working class, multi-ethnic
      neighborhood Looking up at the street signs, she saw that they had
      arrived at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 45th Street.

      "Hell's Kitchen," Mr. Summers said cheerfully, sounding far more
      upbeat than Rogue thought anyone in a place called Hell's Kitchen
      ought to be. "Here we are -- " and he ushered her into a lushly
      decorated restaurant that Belle Watling would have felt right at home

      Ornate crystal chandeliers gleamed through gauzy scarves swathing the
      ceiling and draping the windows. Candles of all sizes and shapes
      flickered on tables glimpsed between potted palm trees. A porch swing
      was drawn up to one side of the table to which the matre d' led them.
      At Mr. Summer's gesture, Marie hopped into the swing. He took the
      perfectly conventional chair placed on the other side of the table. A
      waitress appeared and handed each of them a fancy leather folder and
      walked away. Rogue thought the waitress did a good job of pretending
      not to notice Mr. Summers' glowing red glasses.

      Mr. Summers looked across the table and said, "Why don't you order
      for the both of us?"

      Rogue opened the fancy leather folder to discover a menu tucked
      inside. Fried chicken. Carolina pulled pork. Chicken-fried steak.
      Blackened catfish. Yams, collard greens, okra, macaroni and
      cheese. . .

      "A lady named Alberta Wright is the cook and owner," Mr. Summers
      said. "She's from Charleston, South Carolina. Excuse me." He
      unclipped the fanciest cell phone she'd ever seen from his
      belt. "Yes," he said simply. "In the city. . . . No, no
      mission. . . . I'm being spontaneous. . . . Thursday, six to twelve,
      be spontaneous. It's all there in my day planner, Jean. . . . Very
      well, thanks, and you? . . . . Really? The claim form is in the top
      left drawer of my desk. If you wouldn't mind filling in the date and
      faxing it to my insurance company? Oh, and Rogue's with me. Out."

      Mr. Summers thumbed the side of the cell-phone-looking thingie and
      stowed it. He smiled benignly.

      "Uh, Mr. Summers?" Rogue said hesitantly.


      "Did, uh --" Her inner Erik warned her not to go there. She said
      instead, "Did something happen to one of your cars?"

      "Motorcycle," Mr. Summers said.

      "That's too bad."

      Mr. Summers shrugged. "I got my money's worth."

      The waitress returned with two glasses of sweet tea.

      "Mr. Summers?"


      "I'm real sorry. For, you know, the way I been talking to you."

      "Don't worry about it. I can cope with Logan." Mr. Summers looked
      amused. "But your Erik Lenscherr impression, now that's scary. "
      Deepening his voice dramatically, he said, " 'Just where do you think
      you're going in that costume, young man? A fetishist club?' "

      Rogue laughed half-heartedly. "I, uh, I didn't know you knew him."

      "I guess there are a lot a things you know now that you didn't know

      "I won't -- I mean -- I know it's private stuff." She could feel her
      face getting hot.

      Mr. Summers regarded her steadily. "I know you know. We trust you."

      "Yeah, well, that's cuz you're idiots." Rogue sneered. "Maybe I
      should call your pals at the National People's Radio. Let's see how
      liberal they *really* are. Whaddaya think?"

      Mr. Summers sat back in his chair and said, "I think you'd never do
      anything to jeopardize Rogue's welfare. And right now, the
      Institute's welfare and her welfare are one and the same. Now if
      you'd kindly crawl back under your rock?"

      "Sorry," Rogue said meekly.

      "Stop apologizing."

      She said abruptly, "Why'd he have to go?"

      But Mr. Summers only shook his head.

      "Mr. Summers?"

      "Hmm?" He began to unfold the linen napkin by his plate.

      She gestured around the restaurant and asked in a low voice, "Was
      this Logan's idea?"

      Mr. Summers dropped his napkin and stooped over to retrieve it. He
      straightened up and smiled at her.

      "That's right," he said. "He was worried you'd spend the rest of the
      day in your room crying."

      "Huh!" Rogue instantly fired up. "Like I'd cry over his sorry ass
      when I got Bobby *and* John asking me out! I swear I don't know how
      he managed to fit his ego inside that camper of his." She swigged her
      tea as though it were a bourbon-and-branch.

      "You go, girl," Mr. Summers said gravely, causing Rogue to very
      nearly snort her tea out her nose.

      So Rogue did not spend the evening crying in her room (as she had
      fully planned to do). Instead she spent the evening stuffing herself
      with smothered pork chops, collards, macaroni and cheese, and sweet
      potato pie. She ordered barbecued ribs for Mr. Summers, because her
      inner Logan yearned to see Mr. Summers get messy.

      And after Mr. Summers got all the barbecue sauce off his hands and
      face (the tie was a lost cause), he escorted her into the subway for
      a short trip downtown to Alphabet City and the East Village. Rogue
      instantly fell in love with the East Village. Mr. Summers said he was
      negotiating to buy the Institute a safe house in the East Village,
      and his choice of venue needed no explanation. Nobody gave her a
      second look. She suspected nobody would give Sabertooth a second
      look. Mr. Summers got second and third looks, but she didn't think
      all those guys were staring at his glasses. Her inner Logan was
      always so busy pointing out Scooter's flaws that only now did it
      occur to Rogue that Mr. Summers was cute. Really, he was, in a Wally
      Cleaver kind of way. He looked like the All-American boys in the
      Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. Logan wasn't cute. He was
      overpoweringly, breathtakingly masculine, but she wasn't sure if
      Logan even qualified as handsome, and she doubted anyone would ever
      hire him as a model, except, maybe, America's Most Wanted.

      She shoved Logan out of her thoughts and had herself a good time
      rifling through the racks of the funky boutiques along St. Mark's
      Place. Mr. Summers said he hadn't spent near the money that Logan had
      left for her, and she decided to blow some of it on a fur boa.
      Actually it was a string of fake-fur-covered pom-poms. Mr. Summers'
      eyebrows climbed up under his hairline as she wrapped it around her
      neck and flung the ends over her shoulder, but he refrained from
      comment, merely fished out his wallet and handed her thirty dollars.
      The sales clerk chomped her gum and said, "You got him trained, hon."

      Rogue stifled a giggle. She turned and peered around the untidy heaps
      of ratty clothes and leather accessories in hopes of catching Mr.
      Summers' reaction. Mr. Summers, alas, had wandered outside. He was
      standing in front of the shop window and studying the display (two
      mannequins engaged in a salacious act) with apparent morbid
      curiosity. Logan sneered that Scooter was probably trying to pick up
      a few pointers. Rogue told Logan to give it a rest. Rogue, with
      feminine perspicacity, was learning to discount about ninety-nine
      percent of anything Logan said about Scooter -- er, Mr. Summers.

      The sales clerk kicked aside piles of vests, scarves, skirts,
      blouses, and leather things Rogue didn't really care to learn the
      purpose of. Having cleared a path through the shop, the girl led the
      way to the cash register and rang up the sale. "Hey," she said,
      tortuously counting out change. "Your boyfriend, he's a mutant,
    • rachel_martin64
      Post 3 of 3 Any amusement Rogue felt at the first two words had disappeared by the last. She looked sharply at the other girl. Her hair was pink with purple
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 6, 2003
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        Post 3 of 3

        Any amusement Rogue felt at the first two words had disappeared by
        the last. She looked sharply at the other girl. Her hair was pink
        with purple streaks, but the telltale brown roots proclaimed her
        coloring to be the product of Crazy Color Cream, not the X gene.

        The girl shrugged. "Come on. I mean, yeah, this is New York and all,
        but I don't see a whole lot of guys walking around with glow-in-the-
        dark glasses, ya know?"

        There seemed no point in denying the obvious, and the girl seemed
        friendly. Rogue said cautiously, "Yeah, he's a mutant." She could not
        quite bring herself to say, "We're both mutants." Her inner Erik
        damned her. Her inner Logan assured her that she was just being

        "Cool." The clerk dropped Rogue's change into her palm and grinned.
        As Rogue stuffed the bills and coins into the pocket of her coat, the
        girl leaned closer and said in a conspiratorial sort of whisper, "So
        is it true what they say?"

        "Say about what?"

        "You know. Fuckin' a mutie."

        Rogue stared a moment. She unwound the string of pom-poms from around
        her neck and dropped it on the shop floor. Without asking for the
        rest of Logan's money back, she turned and shoved her way between the
        untidy racks and out the door.

        "Hey," Mr. Summers said, hastily tearing his gaze away from the shop
        window. "You change your mind about the uh, the, uh. . . . "

        "Yeah," she said.

        "Well," he said, "plenty more stores thataway." He pointed down the

        "I think I'm all shopped out," she said. "Maybe we could go home?"

        He looked at her sharply, but said nothing other than, "Sure. We
        should walk back over to Broadway and get the train to Times Square."

        "Okay," she said.

        They crossed Second and Third Avenues. With Astor Place in sight, Mr.
        Summers said quietly, "Did someone tell you to get out of the store?
        Did the clerk refuse to take your money?"

        "No," Rogue said. "She asked me what it was like to fuck a mutie."

        Mr. Summers halted. He said nothing. His expression did not change.
        But he turned and began striding back the way they had come.

        Rogue lunged after him. "No," she said imperiously. "I won't have you
        subjected to the prurient curiosity of a wretched shop girl."

        Mr. Summers stopped dead. Slowly he faced around.

        "I can take care of myself, Vati," he said gently. "I'm all grown up
        now. See?"

        Rogue blinked back sudden tears. Lowering her head, she whipped
        around and began walking almost blindly toward Broadway. In a moment
        she sensed rather than saw Mr. Summers fall into step beside her.

        "I hate him," she muttered. "I hate him."

        "You're entitled."

        "You should hate him too."

        Mr. Summers said tiredly, "I'm working on it."

        They turned north onto Broadway.

        "Did you really blow up La Jolla Senior High?"

        "Some of it."

        "Did they really send you to jail?"

        "The Herman Stark Youth Correctional Facility. Yes."

        "Because you're a mutant."

        "No, Vati. Because I was a mutant who didn't know how to control his
        power. There's a difference."

        "Oh, here we go." Rogue rolled her eyes. "I betcha turned yourself in
        like the good little citizen you are. Betcha begged them to beat your
        ass, huh? Good goddamn thing you and Chuck ain't black, or they'd
        still be sitting in the back of the bus."

        "Do you mind butting out?" Mr. Summers asked. "This is a private

        Rogue stopped dead in the middle of the busy sidewalk.

        "I hate this!" she screamed. "I hate it! I hate having all this shit
        in my head!"

        This being New York City, absolutely no one paid any attention to her
        outburst. The crowd flowed around them. She and Mr. Summers might as
        well have been standing under a glass dome.

        "Hey," Mr. Summers said. "Hey, now."

        "How could people do that to Logan? How could people do that to
        Erik?" She sucked in a deep breath. "How can you be such a wimp? Erik
        says they were going to put your eyes out. Erik says -- "

        Mr. Summers reached for her gloved hands and held them
        firmly. "Listen to me. Okay? You listening?"

        She managed to nod.

        "Rogue, it's not right that you should have to live with what
        happened to Logan and Dr. Lenscherr. Nobody should have to live with
        that. Not Logan, not Dr. Lenscherr, and sure as hell not you. Don't
        ever shut the Professor out. Don't ever skip any of your sessions
        with him. Let him help you. Okay?"

        "Okay," she whispered.

        "Okay," he said. "And listen. What happened to me was bullshit
        compared to what happened to Logan. And what happened to Logan was
        bullshit compared to what happened to Dr. Lenscherr. Maybe you want
        to tell Logan that when he's feeling sorry for himself."

        She wrenched her hands away. "You son of a bitch. Who the fuck are
        you to preach to me? What the fuck do you think you know about it?"

        "I know you have a healing factor and six million Jews didn't. Now
        shut up."

        Logan shut up.

        "My life is a movie," Rogue said. "*Psycho.*"

        Mr. Summers sighed. "Yeah, well, we better beat it before somebody
        from Tisch shows up with a film crew."

        So they found the subway station and took a train up to Times Square
        and walked to the parking garage on Eighth Avenue. Rogue was so
        amazed by the spectacle of Times Square that she made Mr. Summers
        walk through it with her twice. He escaped a third go-round by
        assuring her that the older students had plentiful opportunities to
        visit the city.

        So ended the day that had promised to be one of the most miserable of
        her life. It had been. . . not horrible, she admitted to herself, as
        Mr. Summers parked the Mustang in the mansion's enormous garage. It
        had been a good day, even. Proof that Logan loved her. He might have
        gone away for a while, but he was still looking out for her, just as
        he had promised.

        Mr. Summers killed the engine. He glanced at his watch and
        said, "Well, dang. I think we made curfew."

        "Mr. Summers?"


        "Do you think you should turn your cell phone back on?"

        Sighing, he unclipped the cell phone, or whatever it was, from his
        belt and ran his thumb along one side of it. Instantly it began
        bouncing in his hand like a Mexican jumping bean.

        "Okay, maybe you should turn it off."

        "What an excellent idea." Mr. Summers thumbed the device again and it
        stilled. "Oh, ow." Suddenly he pressed the heel of his hand against
        his forehead. "It's no use. I'm being paged."

        Rogue's smile faded. "Are you a dog, then, to be summoned with a
        psychic whistle?"

        "Don't start, Vati."

        "The girl as good as performed brain surgery on you. Without my
        knowledge or consent, might I add."

        "I gave *my* consent, and that's all that matters."

        "Oh, indeed," Rogue said dryly. "And have you enjoyed being privy to
        her fantasies of that oaf?"

        Mr. Summers closed his eyes. Rogue knew he had closed his eyes,
        because the red lenses of his glasses stopped glowing. They looked
        just like regular sunglasses, now.

        Mr. Summers let his head fall back onto the headrest of the driver's
        seat and he said, "You've waited nine years. Go on. Say it. 'I told
        you so.' "

        Rogue hesitated. "I have never approved of her, it is true," she said
        quietly, "but I would not have wished for this situation either, mein

        "I appreciate that," Mr. Summers said.

        "And after all -- she did not leave you."

        "Because he sneaked away without telling her?" Mr. Summers laughed
        unhappily. "Now she'll say she was planning all along to stay. I'll
        never know."

        Rogue laughed cruelly. "That's right, asshole. You never will."

        An awkward silence settled upon the interior of the Mustang.

        Rogue popped open the passenger's side door and paused.

        "Are you gonna be all right?" she asked hesitantly.

        Mr. Summers turned his head. "Who's asking?"

        "Me, Mr. Summers."

        He said, "I'll be all right if you'll be all right. Do we have a

        "Deal," she said, and got out of the car.

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