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FIC: Outgrow the Garden (Returning Spring 3/10) part a

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  • Mo
    Author s note: Outgrow the Garden is a long story, over 4000 words. It s intended to be read as one story, but I m posting it in two parts as some email
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2005
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      Author's note: Outgrow the Garden is a long story,
      over 4000 words. It's intended to be read as one
      story, but I'm posting it in two parts as some email
      clients can't handle messages that long. - Mo

      Outgrow the Garden (Returning Spring 3/10)

      The MPP project team met weekly, on Sunday evenings,
      in Charles�s office. I�d only gotten back from
      Vermont late last night, so I was expecting to report
      on my experiences there as the first order of
      business.

      I arrived for the meeting on time and found Charles
      and �Ro already settled in the seating area by the
      fireplace. �Ro was in the big leather armchair next to
      the couch, with Charles in his usual spot across from
      her, where the matching armchair would have gone, if
      he hadn�t left the place empty for his wheelchair.
      Logan and Hank hadn�t yet arrived. I sat down on the
      couch, figuring I could use the opportunity to catch
      up on what I�d missed during my absence. �How was
      subbing for me in Nineteenth Century American
      Literature, �Ro?� I asked.

      Ororo and Charles exchanged glances. �I did sub the
      first week, but I couldn�t this past one.�

      �That was my fault,� Charles interjected. �I always
      forget how much I rely on you until you�re away,
      Scott,� he added, with a smile. �I�m afraid I pulled
      Ororo away from both her classes and yours to be a
      substitute field leader this past week. A couple of
      missions came up unexpectedly. We can review them in
      detail at tomorrow�s team meeting, but it looks like
      we have a few more MPP participants lined up.�

      �So what did you do? I know Hank�s been subbing in
      Kurt�s classes and he had a pretty full schedule
      already. As do you,� I added, nodding to Charles. �I
      can�t imagine you could take on �Ro�s classes and
      mine. So were they cancelled for the week?�

      �No, that wasn�t necessary,� Charles said.

      �Who subbed? I can�t see Logan teaching literature.�

      �Jean stepped in,� �Ro replied. �She�s been taking
      some of my classes when I�ve had conflicts,� she
      added, �and she was kind enough to offer to take
      yours, as well, this past week. She said it was easy
      to do. She was reminiscing about all the time the
      three of us spent in your room discussing and arguing
      and working out details for those companion
      history/English classes. Jean says she spent so much
      time on the lesson plans when we were developing them
      that she�s sure she knows all your lectures pretty
      much by heart.�

      I didn�t know what to say to that. From things she
      had said to me and others, I knew that the imposter
      did have enough of Jean�s memories that what �Ro said
      was credible. Yet, I didn�t think this evidence that
      she was Jean, and I wondered if I should make that
      clear to �Ro. Or should I just let it go? She
      already knew that I disagreed with her. At any rate,
      I was saved from responding by the entrance of Hank
      and Logan. Hank apologized profusely for their
      tardiness, in a characteristically verbose and
      sesquipedalian manner. Logan said nothing. �Now that
      we�re all here,� Charles interrupted, as Hank�s
      explanation of their lateness went into the third
      paragraph, �why don�t we begin by hearing from Scott
      how things are going in Peru?�

      I was about to answer, but was stopped by the door to
      the office opening again. She walked in. Slowly,
      confidently, she strolled over to the seating area,
      pausing by the fire to warm her hands, just like I�d
      seen Jean do a thousand times. Looking directly at
      me, with Jean�s loving and intimate smile, she sat
      down on the couch. She settled there, between Logan
      and me. Turning to him, she leaned over and whispered
      something in his ear. I found myself wondering what
      she was saying to him, and couldn�t help but notice
      her hand resting on Logan�s leg as she spoke. I
      looked away.

      �We weren�t expecting you...Jean,� Charles said
      mildly, the slight pause before her name noticeable to
      all in the room.

      �I guess not, since you didn�t tell me about the
      meeting,� Jean replied, with a smile. �Telepathy
      comes in handy.�

      �I�m sure it does, but this isn�t your meeting,� I
      said. It came out more hostile than I�d intended, but
      she didn�t seem to mind. She looked at me with an
      amused smile, her hand still on Logan�s thigh, but
      didn�t answer. Logan shifted a little, uncomfortably.
      Was it her touch or my comment that bothered him? I
      couldn�t tell.

      Hank turned to Jean. �You�re an exemplary and
      invaluable addition to any undertaking, Jean,� he
      said. �However, it would be disruptive and disorderly
      and engender labyrinthine consequences to include an
      additional constituent project participant at this
      late phase in the development of the preparations.�

      �I�m afraid Hank�s right,� Charles interjected. �We
      appreciate your interest, but the MPP doesn�t need
      anyone else on the project right now.�

      �I just want to be helpful.� The tone was Jean�s �
      sincere about wanting to help, but business-like,
      careful not to let the hurt at being left out show.

      �Of course you do.� Charles smiled at her. �Why
      don�t we talk later? I�d be glad to review our
      ongoing projects and make some suggestions for where
      you�d be most useful. I�m sure there are plenty of
      ways you can help.� His smile faded, but his eyes
      remained locked on hers. Nothing happened for a
      minute and then she rose, slowly, and turned towards
      the door. It opened as she approached it.

      Charles waited until the door closed behind her, and
      then began the meeting as if there had been no
      interruption. �Let�s start with a status report,� he
      said, turning towards me and switching to the brisk,
      getting-down-to-business voice he uses when talking
      about a mission.

      �Sure. Okay, as you know, we decided to start by
      training and resettling Angela Jenkins. Nightcrawler
      and I took her up to the house in Peru, and we met
      Northstar and Sasquatch there. Our two FBI reps,
      Martin Kline and Alan Green, joined us shortly
      thereafter. Ms. Jenkins has been kept pretty busy
      between learning her new identity and her sessions
      with Ethan Leeds. Our team up there hasn�t had a lot
      to occupy us, though,� I added with a rueful smile.
      �Maybe it was kind of overkill to have so many of us
      for just one MPP participant. Jean-Paul, Walter and I
      have been keeping ourselves occupied doing repairs
      around the house in Peru. Kurt�s happily absorbed in
      his bible studies. But the FBI guys are kind of
      climbing the walls. I think they just aren�t happy
      unless they can arrest somebody or shoot somebody.�
      They all laughed at that last part.

      �How is Angela adjusting?� �Ro asked, adding, �I miss
      her. I spent a lot of time with her during and after
      the rescue mission.�

      �She misses you, too,� I assured her. �I�m not quite
      sure what to say about her adjustment. She�s pretty
      gung ho and really working at assimilating the new
      identity and learning a lot about her new home �
      London, Ontario. She corrects any of us who slip and
      call her �Angela� and seems to be developing a solid
      identity as Cassandra. Still...�

      �Still what? What�s with her?� Logan sounded
      impatient.

      �Well, I�m just not totally convinced she�s ready. Or
      even that we�ll know when she is. Maybe I�m just
      anxious since she�s our first. We�ve never done this
      before and can�t really know what the patterns of
      recovery are. I�m trying to keep that in mind.
      Still, I find myself wondering how Cassandra will seem
      to people she meets in her new home and new life.
      And, well, I�m worried she�ll *appear* traumatized,
      that new acquaintances will feel like there�s
      something wrong with her.�

      �I believe you should consider the possibility that
      Ms. Jenkins appears traumatized in your perspective of
      her persona due to your superior acquaintance with the
      trauma that led to her having been accepted into the
      MPP program initially.�

      �I�m sure that�s part of it, Hank. I see it because
      I�m looking for it. It�s hard for me to know what
      she�ll seem like to a stranger. I also think she just
      opens up more to us, so we�re going to be more aware
      of problems.� I thought about that a little more.
      �But her behavior is a little strange sometimes, and
      it concerns me. For one thing, she�s obsessed about
      security in the house in Peru. Did Ethan talk to you
      about that, Charles? He said he would discuss it with
      you.�

      �Yes, he did. What�s your take on it? Do you think
      we need to improve security?�

      I shrugged. �It couldn�t hurt. I�m not sure how much
      of an issue it really is, but certainly we could
      benefit from a security review.� I thought about it a
      little more. �Yeah, I think we ought to have one, if
      only to see if Angela relaxes when we do. Her idea of
      a panic room is not a bad one. But, really, I think
      there are limits to how fortified we can make the Peru
      house. It�s not ever going to be as secure as the
      school here.� Looking around and remembering,
      vividly, the events of a little over a year ago, I
      added, �And with all our fortifications here, we were
      unable to withstand a siege. In Peru, we�re relying
      for security mostly on not letting what we�re doing
      there be known.�

      �I agree that there are limits,� Charles interjected.
      �On the other hand, I think we do need to do a
      comprehensive security review. There are different
      security needs for a ski house and the location of a
      project like this. I also agree with you that it�s
      worthwhile to do for the peace of mind of our MPP
      participants � now and in the future.�

      �I anticipated you�d feel like that,� I told him. �I
      talked to Martin Kline about the possibility of doing
      a security review. He said they could recommend
      consultants. I assume they�re reliable � and
      confidential � if they come with an FBI
      recommendation.�

      �Perhaps, but I don�t want outsiders involved.� He
      turned towards Logan. �I want you to go up there and
      see what needs to be done. And what�s feasible. You
      can enlist the help of the staff up there � ours,
      Alpha Flight�s and the FBI agents. It sounds like
      they�re not being overtaxed at the moment, from what
      Cyclops says. And if you need additional assistance or
      materials you can�t purchase in the area, just call
      and let me know.�

      Logan nodded his assent. �I�m not buying any
      materials up there that don�t look like simple home
      repair stuff,� he added. �I�m with Scott � we�re
      safer there if nobody knows what we�re doing. I don�t
      want anyone figuring out we�re fortifying the place.
      I�ll work out some way to get materials we need.�





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