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Fic: Down the Rabbit Hole [PG]

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  • Mara Greengrass
    TITLE: Down the Rabbit Hole AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass AUTHOR S EMAIL: fishfolk@ix.netcom.com. Feedback is better than chocolate. PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Sure,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2003
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      TITLE: Down the Rabbit Hole
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
      AUTHOR'S EMAIL: fishfolk@.... Feedback is better than chocolate.
      PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Sure, just let me know.
      CATEGORY: Several categories and pairings. You'll just have to deal with
      the uncertainty.
      RATINGS/WARNINGS: PG
      SUMMARY: Think of this as four faces of Scott Summers--a series of
      vignettes featuring different AU versions of movieverse Scott.
      DISCLAIMER: The X-Men characters belong to Twentieth Century Fox,
      Marvel, and many other people with expensive lawyers, not me.
      NOTES: This is my response to Min's power-swapping challenge, giving
      Scott the powers of other comics characters. (To simplify things, I
      chose to only change Scott.) Point of view and mood will vary, so be
      prepared for some whiplash. And yes, in one of them I stole an idea from
      the show "The Sentinel." Oh well.

      **telepathy**

      * * * * *

      One: Through the Looking Glass

      When Scott phased through the heavy wood door of the Professor's office,
      neither Jean nor Professor Xavier looked particularly pleased. He
      grinned, knowing they hated when he did that instead of knocking. "Why
      the long faces? We completed the mission, retrieved the information, and
      made it back in time for a late dinner."

      "That's true, but beside the point," Xavier said.

      "Then what *is* the point?" Tapping a small button on his wristband, he
      made himself solid and dropped onto the couch beside Jean. She rolled
      her eyes and frowned harder.

      "The point," Xavier said firmly, drawing his attention away from the
      redhead, "is Jean's report on this mission."

      "Scott, you've got to stop taking these kinds of chances."

      "Why? When I'm intangible, I'm as good as invulnerable. And thanks to
      Hank's little gadget," he tapped the wristband, enjoying the sound and
      feel of it, "now I can be solid. But I only stay that way long enough to
      grab something or someone. I've got the best of both worlds."

      Jean and Xavier looked at each other and he felt a surge of anger.
      Neither of them understood. Well, *they* hadn't been intangible for
      years, a ghost floating through other people's lives, not eating, not
      touching. It was his time to live and he was going to enjoy it.

      Xavier spoke. "You cannot assume that our enemies will never figure out
      how to hurt you. If we can make you solid, they can as well."

      "But until that day, I need to take these 'chances' to get the job
      done." He stood up and phased out again, planning to leave.

      Xavier stopped him halfway through the door. "I'm turning leadership of
      the X-Men over to Ororo and taking you out of rotation."

      "What?" Panic clawed at his chest. "No! You can't do that, you need me."

      "I must. For your own safety as well as the others."

      Jean looked near tears. "I'm sorry."

      "Why'd you do this to me?" He stared at her, the breath knocked out of him.

      "You're reckless, Scott. You can't lead the X-Men like that."

      "Is that why you chose Logan over me?" The words came out before he
      could stop them. "You figured he'd come back alive?"

      Her gaze dropped to her lap. "No. I chose Logan because I knew he
      *cared* if he came back alive."

      * * * * *

      Two: The Queen's Croquet Ground

      "Join the team? Become an X-Man?" Scott asked, snorting as he stuck his
      head back into the guts of the Blackbird. "You must be kidding."

      "No, Scott, I am not making a joke." Ororo folded her arms.

      Reveling in the emotionally uncomplicated smell of engine grease, he
      continued to ignore her. From the sounds, she was pacing back and forth
      and he grinned. Damn, she was fun to annoy. Unfortunately, she was also
      new to the mansion.

      "I do not understand, Scott. I know you share the Professor's ideals."

      "I do. And my job here is to keep this place running, design curricula
      for the children--"

      "That is not what I mean."

      "I know." He sighed, knowing what he'd have to do to convince her. "Do
      you know what my mutation is?" he asked, pulling his head back out of
      his beloved engines.

      "No. The Professor assures me that you are alpha-level, however."

      "I suppose I am. But he didn't explain it to you, did he?"

      "He said I needed to ask you directly."

      Scott leaned back against the plane and twirled the spanner in his hand.
      "I'll give you a demonstration, but not near the plane, please, I've
      spent too much time fixing it."

      She raised her eyebrows, but allowed him to lead her out of the hangar
      and into the empty gym. With a practiced eye, Scott swept the room for
      serious problems and saw none.

      "Okay," he said, "let's run through a low-level sparring match. Just
      like yesterday."

      She frowned. "But--"

      "Trust me."

      A nod and she relaxed into position. He took a moment to concentrate on
      the part of him that was his mutation. It always felt a bit odd, like
      putting on a pair of bad eyeglasses that made everything a bit sharper
      and clearer in some areas, and fuzzier in others.

      "Are you ready?" she asked.

      "Go ahead."

      Shifting her balance to the left, she kicked out with her left foot at
      his chest. He didn't move, but her foot never connected, instead she
      found her sneaker slipping on the mat.

      One hand on his hip, Scott watched her fall, slipping and sliding like a
      movie comedian on a banana peel. Eyes wide, she stared at him from the
      floor.

      "You--"

      "On your feet. Let's try it again."

      She jumped up and started circling him. He turned in place and waited,
      then lunged at her. A twist with his mind and...

      He found himself flat on his face with a sore spot on the back of his head.

      "Ow."

      "Are you okay?"

      Wincing a bit, Scott took Ororo's outstretched hand and stood up. Her
      mouth was open and she was apparently at a loss for words.

      Chuckling, he went to sit down on a weight bench while she looked
      between him and the sprinkler head that had hit him.

      "It...you...why..."

      "Why did that decide to fall down at just that moment?"

      She nodded.

      "Well, I was *trying* to do something to knock you off-balance again,
      but it backfired. My mutation does that, you see." He rubbed his head.
      "I was in an accident as a child that damaged the portion of my brain
      that controls the mutation. It manifested at the normal age but I have
      only partial control over it."

      "But what *is* your mutation?"

      He blinked. "Oh, didn't I make that clear? As far as we can tell, I have
      psionic control over probability. If it always worked, I could ensure
      that everything worked in my favor and against my opponents. But it
      doesn't."

      "Wow."

      "You don't know the half of it. If I tried to use this in a combat
      situation, I might very well end up getting myself shot. There's no way
      to predict what might happen, except that it will be something unlikely
      to happen under normal circumstances."

      "Oh." Ororo drooped a bit and came to sit next to him. "I'm sorry I
      pushed you. I didn't know."

      Rueful, he smiled. "It's okay. Nobody ever believes it until I demonstrate."

      A voice from the doorway. "I know *I* didn't."

      "Hi, Jean," he and Ororo said.

      She leaned against the frame of the door and Scott felt the warm burn in
      his gut that always accompanied her presence. "Since I'm here, do you
      need any medical attention after this little demonstration?"

      "No, although I think I'll go put a little ice on my head. It's my
      experienced opinion that I'll have a bump otherwise."

      She nodded approvingly. "Good idea. I can explain the rest of it to Ororo."

      Scott headed toward the elevator, listening with half an ear to the
      conversation behind him.

      "How did Scott demonstrate his mutation to you?"

      "We were outside," Jean said. "First, a passing seagull managed to..."

      The door to the elevator closed with a click on Ororo's laughter.

      * * * * *

      Three: The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch

      Jean watched Scott carefully as he eased his way around the corner in
      front of her. Watching him was one of her favorite activities, to be
      honest--he moved like a cat, lithe and dangerous, sleek and sexy.

      His claws were already out, bone spikes that were far more dangerous
      than any house cat because they were directed by a tactical mind.

      The corridor was clear, and with a touch on her mind through their
      psi-link, he said they could proceed. Dashing toward the end of the
      hallway, she tried to move as silently as he was, without success.

      Somewhere in this facility, mutants were being held, and as Scott
      scented the air, she could feel his rage building. Touching him with a
      calming thought, she tried to avoid reading what he smelled. It would
      only make her job harder.

      He cocked his head, indicating the mutants were to their left, or at
      least their scent was. The silence was eerie, making her skin crawl as
      she imagined what sounds might be muffled by the soundproofing they'd
      seen everywhere.

      Scott stiffened in alarm, passing on to her the sound of approaching
      footsteps. There was nowhere to hide.

      **Sc--** was all she had time to send before they were under attack.
      With a wave of her hand, she knocked aside the black-clad man who was
      about to shoot her.

      Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Scott sliding between their
      attackers, almost casually cutting, stabbing, whirling, a dancer
      following music only he could hear. A bullet went through his shoulder
      and he barely flinched, the wound starting to heal before he'd finished
      throwing the gunman against the wall.

      Moments later, all the assailants were out of commission and she ran to
      Scott's side as he leaned against the wall panting.

      **I'm fine. Let's go.**

      She knew that was a lie, but nodded and they started moving again.

      The silence and dim lighting were broken by flashing strobes and
      whooping sirens. Graceful Scott staggered against the wall, hands over
      his ears, and she reached out with her mind, just as they'd practiced so
      often.

      Screaming pain, overload, a thousand knives stabbing from the inside of
      his head. Or was that her head?

      She concentrated. Feeling her way through, ignoring the pain. There.

      As he pushed away from the wall, face a neutral mask, she felt the
      familiar self-loathing surface in his mind. It didn't matter how many
      times she felt it, it still made her stomach roll like she was in a
      fast-moving elevator.

      **Stop that,** she thought at him, but he didn't answer. It didn't
      matter, because she knew what he was thinking--it was the same thing he
      always thought at times like this.

      He loathed his mutation, the way it made him lose control, act like an
      animal. He hated the way damage to his brain meant he couldn't handle an
      overload on his senses, couldn't get past certain sounds or smells
      without her help.

      Most of all, he hated that he couldn't function as an X-Man without her
      help. They'd tried all kinds of mechanical dampening methods, but none
      left him able to use his enhanced senses in any meaningful way. They
      were suitable only for daily life, not the superhero life.

      He loved her, but he felt trapped, believing she had to feel the same way.

      Following the man she loved down a dim hallway, Jean considered how
      little telepathy aided real communication and understanding.

      * * * * *

      Four: Which Dreamt It?

      Charles made it a point to regularly visit the set of spartan rooms in
      the sub-basement of the mansion. Jean, he knew, thought it was
      masochism, torturing himself for his failure. But it wasn't.

      Well, maybe a little.

      But in truth--a truth he would never allow anyone to know--he still held
      out hope for Scott. Hope that one day the damage to his mind might heal,
      allow him to control his mutation, rather than be controlled by it.
      After all, hadn't science proven in recent years that brain cells *were*
      capable of some regeneration? And nobody deserved it more than the
      unfortunate young man who lived in his basement.

      A deep breath as his chair rolled up to the doors, a moment to steady
      his mind and reinforce his mental shielding to its fullest extent (a
      lesson learned early on). Dropping that shielding and attempting to
      reach Scott's mind required enormous preparation and had knocked him
      unconscious on two occasions.

      Reaching out, Charles tapped a code into the keypad next to the door and
      rolled his chair in when it opened. The first door shussed close behind
      him and the inside door opened, allowing him to enter Scott's room. He
      frowned at the objects strewn across the floor. Someone should have been
      in to clean this up earlier, he thought, making a mental note to talk to
      whoever was monitoring the room this shift.

      Scott was huddled on the bed, arms curled around his knees, his entire
      body rocking back and forth as he hummed tunelessly. Sighing, Charles
      rolled up to the bed, ignoring the crackle of papers and crunch of
      crayons under the wheels of his chair, and spoke softly. "Scott?"

      There was no response, so Charles started to pick some of the nearest
      objects up off the floor. As always, the papers were covered with a
      mish-mash of drawings and words.

      A sketch of the Statue of Liberty, quite accurate, the word "death"
      written across it in block letters. Charles hung his head, sorry Scott
      had seen those events, the loss of a young woman who had trusted him to
      protect her. Another of his failures.

      Another page was nearly all text and Charles squinted at it. There was
      something about war--skulls littered the edges of the page--and a place
      called Genosha.

      Out of habit, he stacked the pages neatly on the lone table. He'd
      learned early on that when Scott came out of his autistic reverie, he
      would want to look at his writings and if any pages were missing, he
      would become agitated.

      Eventually, Scott would weed through the papers and allow some of them
      to be removed. They'd never been able to determine the logic behind the
      decisions--Hank claimed there wasn't any, but Charles refused to believe
      it. There was a reason, there was a tortured mind still inside Scott,
      some semblance of the bright teenager he'd first met.

      Or not. Scott's sanity had degenerated so quickly, it was hard to tell
      what was the product of his mutation and what was madness. Sometimes,
      when he was feeling particularly melancholy, he wondered what Scott
      might have been able to do if brain damage hadn't made his mutation
      impossible to control.

      Scott hummed louder, brown hair that needed a trim flopping over his
      eyes. Charles sighed again, certain that Scott was currently
      unreachable. If he wanted to make his periodic attempt at communication,
      he would need to come back later.

      He glanced down at the paper in his hands, momentarily taken aback at
      the spare image. It contained little detail and yet it was indubitably a
      self-portrait. But this Scott stood tall and proud, dressed in a
      conservative pair of khaki pants and a cream cardigan. The most striking
      feature were a pair of ruby red sunglasses perched on his sharp
      cheekbones. His face was stern as he stared at...Charles peered closer.
      This drawing was composed of even fewer lines, but surely that was Logan.

      Disturbed for no reason he could pinpoint, he flipped to the next page.
      Scott with a spanner in his hand, leaning against the X-Jet with a grin
      of pure glee. Next, a smirking Scott with his head sticking *through*
      one of the mansion's doors.

      There were more, Charles noticed, sorting through everything: an angry
      Scott holding flames in the palm of his hand, Scott and Jean in tuxedo
      and wedding gown, Scott on a motorcycle.

      Charles bowed his head, saddened.

      Scott's humming changed slowly to words.

      "Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?"

      * * * * *

      Final author's notes: The mutations I've given Scott belong to Shadowcat
      (Kitty Pryde), Wolverine (Logan), Domino (if she has a real name, I
      don't know it), and Destiny (Irene Adler), although I think I've
      expanded Destiny's powers a bit further than the comics. I had
      originally planned to do Cypher's powers as well, but it didn't work
      out. Oh, and penknife's story "Opposites Attract" was the partial
      inspiration for the ending of the Wolverine segment.
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