Cold Shoulder (After the Fall 4/8)
- Cold Shoulder (After the Fall 4/8)
Charles Xavier looked up as Scott walked into his
office, unannounced. The sun was streaming in from
the window behind him, making his reading lamp
unnecessary for perusing the papers on his desk. Hank
McCoy, sitting across from the professor, gathered the
pile of documents he and Charles had been reviewing
and slipped them into a manila file folder. Then he
turned to face his friend and colleague. "Hello,
Scott. What are you doing here?" Charles asked.
"I live here... I work here..." Scott walked over to
Charles's desk and sat down in the chair next to Hank.
He paused a moment then, continued. "Oh! You mean
what am I doing *here*? In your office? Right now?
It seems you forgot to tell me there was a planning
meeting going on." He sat back in the chair and looked
from Charles to Hank and back again. "What's up?"
"It's okay, Scott," Charles answered mildly. "We
don't need you right now. We were just finishing,
"Finishing what?" Scott sounded a bit on edge.
Neither of them answered. Hank changed the subject.
"We need to talk about lab supplies, Scott. I can't
believe the poor quality of the glassware we've been
"Take it up with 'Ro. She does the ordering."
Something about the grim set of his mouth made Hank
think Cyclops was glaring at him from behind those
glasses. "I'd rather discuss the MPP."
"MPP?" McCoy looked baffled. "That's an abbreviation
with which I am unfamiliar. What does it signify?
Metaphysical Polymorphous Postulate?"
"You've got a lot of talents, Hank, but acting stupid
isn't one of them. I know what it stands for and I
know you know." He swiveled in his chair, turning
angrily towards the professor. "Stay out of my brain,
Charles. I'm not bluffing. It's the Mutant
Protection Plan. You�re working on resettling victims
of anti-mutant violence in new places, with new
identities, so they can start life over somewhere no
one knows their mutant status. Right?� Neither McCoy
nor Xavier answered.
Without warning, Cyclops snatched the folder out of
Hank's hands. "And here are the preliminary plans," he
added, rifling through the papers. "Alpha Flight's
involved; the FBI, even. You�re modeling this after
the Justice Department�s Witness Protection Program�"
he mused, looking through the papers. "A major X-Men
project, from the looks of it. Strange not to even
let the Field Leader know about it, isn't it?"
"Where did you hear about the MPP?" Charles Xavier
Scott was still reading the documents. "Logan," he
answered without looking up.
Hank sputtered a bit, turning to Charles. "That man
was provided this intelligence with the clear
understanding that it was confidential. I told you he
should not have been entrusted with such sensitive
information, Professor. Revealing such material to
others is... is... not the act of a gentleman!" he
Scott Summers looked up, a grim smile on his face.
"Well, I don't think the Wolverine has ever claimed to
be a gentleman," he said. "But, for what it's worth,
he had no idea he was spilling any beans. He didn't
know I was an 'other' and by the time he realized it
was pretty much too late. Seems you forgot to tell
him you were keeping the new project a secret from me.
He naturally assumed I was in on it. Hell, I would
assume the same thing if I were him." The smile
disappeared and he pounded once on the desk with his
fist. "Some fucking drifter you barely know gets in
on the secret joint project? This guy I picked up for
you because you thought Magneto was after him knows
all about the new X-Men project and I don't? What the
hell is going on around here? Why him?" He looked
back and forth between McCoy and Xavier.
�Logan has assumed different identities several times
before,� Hank replied. �We thought he could help us
analyze and synthesize the necessary protocols to
formulate this new endeavor on which we are
�And was he a help?�
�Not to the extent we had anticipated his assistance
to be efficacious.�
�Because his amnesia is still pretty profound, right?
He�s still got huge gaps in his memory � years he
doesn�t know where he was or what he did. For any
period before the past 15 years, he�s unsure of where
he was or even who he was. He only has snatches of
memory of the different names he took on and what he
did under them. He certainly doesn�t have the
detailed recall of how he assumed those identities
you�d need for him to assist you.�
Charles nodded. �That�s correct. Logan�s continuing
amnesia really prevented him from giving us the
information we needed. We gained nothing by bringing
him into the project, just as you say.� He paused,
then continued. �How do you come to know so much about
�Because he talks to me and I listen. I bet Logan�s
spoken more to me than anyone else here,� he answered
softly, looking down. �I could have told you all that
and saved you the trouble of asking him,� Scott went
on, the anger coming back into his voice. �If you�d
trusted me enough to consult me at all, that is,� he
"Scott, clearly you're upset," the professor began.
"Wow, it�s true what everyone says about you, Charles.
You really are a powerful telepath, aren't you?
Somebody who trusts you finds out you've been lying to
him and confronts you about it and you can tell he's
upset. I am impressed."
"We haven't lied to you," Hank interjected. "You
weren't essential to this project, and we thought you
had enough on your plate." Charles nodded in assent.
"Not essential? Not essential?" Cyclops's voice was
rising again. "Plenty of field operations needed for
this one. Plenty of coordination. Missions of
various sizes and scope. So who's planning them?
Who's executing them?" Neither man answered "Look,
here's what this comes down to: am I Field Leader of
the X-Men or not? You can't have it both ways. If I
am, then stop this bullshit and treat me like your
field leader and let me do my fucking job. And if I'm
not, at least have the courtesy to tell me I'm out of
a job, so I can start looking for a new one." He
picked up the folder full of papers, dropped it on the
professor's desk, and stalked out of the room. Hank
called Scott's name as he left, but he didn't answer.
Charles Xavier looked for Scott at dinner, but he
didn�t show up. Discreet questioning of faculty and
students elicited the information that Cyclops had
shown up for his classes and advisement sessions, as
expected, and had attended the weekly meeting of the
Drama Society, for which he was the faculty advisor.
No one noticed any unusual behavior on his part, and
one student described Mr. Summers as very excited
about the plans to perform Twelfth Night as the school
play in March, news Charles found reassuring. Scott
didn�t appear to be acting like someone on the verge
of leaving Xavier�s Academy.
Charles excused himself early from dinner, and went
looking for Scott. He wasn�t in his room, although
that was not a surprise. He seemed to spend as little
time as possible there since Jean�s death. Continuing
his search, Charles didn�t see Scott � or any signs
that he�d recently been there - in either the Danger
Room, the pool, or his office. While rolling by the
library, which was closed for the evening, he noticed
the lights were on and went in. Scott was in the back
of the large room, with a few books on a table in
front of him and his laptop computer in front of him,
seemingly taking notes from one of them.
Charles approached Scott slowly, holding back a
little. Scott looked up and greeted him with a
sheepish smile. �It�s okay � you can come closer,� he
said. �I�m not dangerous. I�ve calmed down
Charles wheeled up to the table. �Glad to hear it."
Cyclops looked at his watch. "Aren't you supposed to
be at dinner? Who's making the evening
"Hank's covering for me."
Scott groaned. "I hope you provided all the students
with pocket dictionaries. And big pots of coffee."
Xavier laughed. "It's good for them. They'll stop
complaining about my announcements, now that they know
what they could be like." His tone changed, turned
serious. "I�m sorry, Scott. I made an error in
judgment and I wanted to tell you so. I didn�t want to
leave things the way they were between us.�
�I appreciate that. And I�m sorry I blew my top.� He
sighed deeply. �I wasn�t exactly the model of grace
under pressure you want in a field leader, screaming
at you and Hank,� he added, shaking his head.
�Well, let�s just say I hope *your* speech patterns
are rubbing off on Logan, too,� Charles replied, and
Scott chuckled. �I was surprised to hear you and he
have been spending time together.�
�I guess you�d be surprised to hear much of anything
I�ve been doing lately,� Scott answered, a bitter tone
coming into his voice. �It�s not like you�ve taken
much interest in what�s going on with me.�
�That�s not true. I�m always interested. I�ve gotten
the impression you don�t want me meddling.�
�You think it�s possible to show interest without
meddling, Charles? I do. You want a clue how to do
it? Don�t order me away from my home and workplace.�
�I�m sorry, Scott.�
�Yeah, you keep saying that.�
�I keep saying it because I mean it. I want to know
what�s going on in your life. I want you to confide
in me, but only if you want to. And I�m glad you�ve
found someone else to talk to if you�re not
comfortable talking to me. I�m just surprised it�s
Logan,� he added.
Cyclops shrugged. �We�re both outcasts, lately, I
guess.� He waited, wondering whether Charles would
tell him he was only an outcast because he chose to
be. Charles just sat there, listening. Scott wasn�t
sure how much to say. "It�s not just being mad at
you. That�s not the only reason I�m keeping to myself.
I haven�t really felt like having much company. And
I�m having trouble sleeping. I wake up and can�t go
back to sleep and I just can't stay put. I go to the
gym, the Danger Room, the pool... I run into Logan at
night. He doesn�t say much, doesn�t expect me to say
much. He�s easy.� He shrugged again. �Or, at least,
it felt easy being around him until this MPP thing.
Now I look at him and all I can think about is that
you trusted him and not me. I�ve calmed down, but I�m
still really mad, Charles.�
�And I�m really sorry. You�re quite right � we should
have told you. You shouldn�t have heard it from him.�
He picked up the book Scott had been looking at and
read the title out loud. �Resumes That Work?�
�I haven�t looked for a job in a long time. I think I
need a refresher.�
"I don't want you to look for a job. You're needed
here." Scott just shrugged. "What kind of work are
you thinking of doing?"
"I'm not sure," he answered, looking down at the book.
"Probably straight teaching. I don't imagine there
are a whole lot of combination
English-teacher-cum-superhero jobs out there." He
looked up at Charles, smiling slightly now. "On the
other hand, if I see one advertised I'll have a resume
Charles laughed at that. "Please, Scott, accept my
apology. It was an error in judgment not to include
you in the MPP project from the start. Mine alone.
And it was another error trying to send you to
Vermont. I was aching to see you in such pain and
didn�t know how to help you. I thought you could use
Dr. Leeds�s professional expertise. I still think
that. But I know now that he can only be a help to
you if you want that kind of help. I was dead wrong
to try to force it on you."
"Well, thanks for saying that, but it's not just
Vermont and it�s not just the MPP. I feel like you're
squeezing me out, Charles. I mean, it seems like
you're fine with how I'm handling the school
responsibilities, at least lately, but you're
second-guessing every decision I make with the team.
I don't feel like I'm Field Leader anymore. I hardly
feel like I'm an X-Man at all." He turned away from
the professor. "I know my performance isn't exactly
stellar, but I'm functioning, Charles. I accomplish
the missions. I bring them back alive." He choked a
little on the last sentence.
"I know you do. I'm filled with admiration for how
well you're functioning. Truly."
"So why are you over-ruling my personnel decisions?
Why are you keeping me here half the time when I
should be out there in the field?"
Charles shook his head sadly and didn't speak for a
moment. "I'm scared you won't come back," he said
finally. Scott opened his mouth, but Charles stopped
him before he could say anything. "It's not a
reflection on you, Scott, really. It's my problem. I
see a dangerous mission and I just can't bear the
thought of you going on it. I can't stand the thought
of you risking your life. I can't live with the
Scott chuckled ruefully. "I've been risking my life
for you daily, Charles, since I was 16. Aren't you
used to it, yet?"
"I was. Until we lost Jean." Charles sighed. "And
it's not like I wasn't aware of the danger or didn't
worry about you, all of you. I did, every time. But
part of me... I don't know. I think part of me
thought you were invincible. And I just don't feel
that way anymore. And I'm not saying I'm reconciled
to losing any of the rest, or that I don't worry about
them. But it's different with you. It always has
been. You and Jean. You were the first here.
They're all my children, in some sense. But it's not
just metaphorical with you. It feels more real than
that. You're my son, my only son, whom I love..." His
voice trailed off.
"Yeah, well he was willing to sacrifice his son."
Charles chuckled. "See why I can't spare you? Even
if only for a mission? Nobody else here knows what
I'm quoting, or even when I am." He turned serious
again. "We both need to heal, Scott. Maybe we've
both made some mistakes in the recovery process. I
know I have. I've been shielding you too much. I
won't do it again. Can you forgive me?"
Scott nodded. "I've made mistakes, too. I should
have talked to you more, opened up more, told you how
I was feeling. For my own sake as well as yours." He
paused, a hesitant look on his face, then plunged in.
"I want to talk to you now. I want to talk about
Jean. But I'm a little afraid to. There's something
I want to tell you, but I think it will sound crazy."
"You're the sanest man I know. Tell me."
"I don't think she's dead." Scott looked at Charles,
trying to gauge his reaction.
The professor didn't look surprised at what he'd just
heard. He nodded slowly. "I thought you might come
to that conclusion."
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