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Cold Shoulder (After the Fall 4/8)

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  • Mo
    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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2004
      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,
      anyway."

      "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
      getting lately."

      "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
      asked, calmly.

      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
      finished, indignantly.

      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
      embarking.�

      �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
      Logan�s amnesia?�

      �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
      added bitterly.

      "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
      considerably.�

      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
      announcements?"

      "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
      that works."

      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
      worry."

      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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