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FIC: Sitting with Children Telling Stories (A Time to Every Purpose 2/10)

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  • Mo
    “Who is it this time?” Jean-Paul asked, helping himself to more ravioli. He cut up some of the cheese-filled pasta, putting some of the pieces on the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2005
      �Who is it this time?� Jean-Paul asked, helping
      himself to more ravioli. He cut up some of the
      cheese-filled pasta, putting some of the pieces on the
      tray of Ezra�s high chair and some on Hank�s. Both
      babies were a happy mess, with tomato sauce and cheese
      in every facial orifice and throughout their hair.
      Stray sauce and cheese decorated the wall nearby, too.
      Between the food stains, the baby paraphernalia, and
      the toys, Anjuli Radavan�s Georgetown apartment looked
      very different from the neat and organized home it had
      been when she�d lived there alone.

      �Logan and Charles Xavier,� she said, answering
      Jean-Paul�s question.

      �What�s up?� Adam weighed in.

      �I don�t know, exactly. They�re visiting Magneto,
      trying to get some information from him, I think.
      Then later in the week Charles is meeting with the
      President again. Trading telepathically acquired
      intelligence for concessions on mutant rights? I
      don�t know precisely what�s going on. I�ll draw some
      blood from Logan while they�re here, anyway.�

      Jean-Paul rolled his eyes. �He�ll love that.�

      Anjuli shrugged. �He puts up with it, which is all I

      �How long will they be around?� Adam asked, handing
      pieces of green beans to the babies as he did.

      �About a week, I think. Oh, and Charles said he
      wanted to talk to all of us together while he�s here.
      Something about Hank.�

      �Hank?� Adam looked at the baby in question, who was
      smearing cheese on Ezra�s nose, much to the latter�s

      �Not this guy. Hank, Senior. Something about his
      work as a trustee of the Xavier Foundation.� She
      paused to take a drink of her wine. �I don�t know why
      he�d be talking to the three of us about that. Hank
      and I used to talk about the Foundation, of course,
      but... Well, no point speculating. I�ll find out when
      he�s here what he wants to talk about.�

      �Charles isn�t staying here, is he?� Jean-Paul asked.

      �No, he�ll be at the Willard, as usual. But Logan
      will stay with us, so we need to clear all that stuff
      out of the third bedroom again. If past is prologue,
      there will be meetings here, too. And maybe more
      X-Men coming down, particularly if it ends up going
      longer than a week. Which it usually does. Maybe
      Scott coming down to see Logan on the weekend.�

      �We wouldn�t want Logan to have to go without,� Adam
      replied with a smile. �He�s not fun to be around when
      he�s sexually frustrated.� He shrugged. �So, we need
      to get ready for crowded quarters again.�

      �I think we should get a larger place.�

      �What?� Anjuli and Adam said it simultaneously, both
      looking at Jean-Paul in surprise.

      �There�s barely room for the five of us here,
      particularly since both of you are often working at
      home, or at least trying to. And it�s almost never
      just the five of us. Really, think about it. You say
      Charles and Logan are arriving on Friday, n�est-ce
      pas?� Anjuli nodded. �So, two weeks since Storm
      left. And before that it was your mother,� he said,
      looking at Adam. �I�m always happy to have her,� he
      added hastily, seeing Adam�s expression.

      �Happier than I am, a lot of the time.� Anjuli and
      Jean-Paul both laughed.

      �My point is that there are extras here more often
      than not. I think that these two weeks are the
      longest stretch we�ve had where we haven�t had
      visiting relatives, friends, or X-Men.�

      �It has been busy,� Anjuli concurred. �I�m glad to
      help the X-Men out, but I�m surprised they always stay
      here. It is crowded, as you say, and there�s all the
      noise and chaos from the babies. Adorable as they
      are, I�m not sure a three-bedroom apartment with two
      toddlers is the ideal spot to hang out in when you�re
      in DC for a business trip. They�ve still got the
      lease on Hank�s old place, don�t they?�

      �Oui, but they don�t want to use it like that. It�s
      for emergencies, and that means keeping it quiet. Not
      having a bunch of mutants rotating in and out. Things
      are much better, with Professor X and the President
      practically friends, but the Professor thinks they
      still might need a place around here that isn�t known
      to be a mutant outpost. And hotel rooms aren�t
      secure. The Professor stays at the Willard because
      it�s more comfortable, but he doesn�t have his
      meetings there, you�ll notice. Too much chance of
      listening devices. So the X-Men flock to Toddler
      Heaven.� Anjuli smiled at that. �But they�d rather
      have more room, too,� he continued. �And they are
      willing to help with that. I spoke to Cyclops. He
      said the Xavier Foundation would be willing to pay
      part of the rent if we get a bigger place, in
      recognition of how much they�re using our � your -
      apartment, anyway. He also said it might be
      worthwhile for them to buy a townhouse. Then we�d
      rent from the Foundation at a well below market rate,
      in exchange for taking care of the place and making
      the guest room available. It could be fortified more
      than this place, too, if it�s a place they own.�

      Adam put down his fork and stared at Jean-Paul.
      �You�re really serious about this? You�ve already
      talked to Scott about buying a place for all of us?�

      �I didn�t commit to anything. I wouldn�t do that
      without talking to you two.�

      �That�s not what I meant. I�m just... surprised.�
      Adam wasn�t sure how much to say, not wanting to hurt
      Anjuli�s feelings by saying that he had thought
      Jean-Paul wouldn�t want to live with her any longer.

      He needn�t have worried. She weighed in similarly.
      �Yeah, me too. I figured you guys would want to get
      your own place.�

      �Bien sur, that�s what I thought at first, but this is
      working out. We can help each other with the babies.
      We�re all pretty compatible. And the two of them,�
      gesturing at Hank and Ezra, who were feeding each
      other bits of ravioli now, �are just too cute
      together. Hard to think of splitting them up, hein?�
      He smiled. �So I�m getting to like a m�nage � trois.�

      �Yeah, well should be quatre,� Adam interjected. �We
      need to find you a fella.�

      Anjuli rolled her eyes. �I don�t think so,� she said,
      shaking her head.

      �Oh come on. You afraid to introduce some guy you�re
      dating to us?� Adam asked, eyes twinkling. �You don�t
      know what to say? It�s easy. �These are the men I
      live with, Adam Greenfield and Jean-Paul Beaubier.
      And these are our children � Hank and Ezra.� You
      don�t think that would go over well? You think that
      might scare some guy off?�

      Jean-Paul picked it up. �I think it�s a fine start.
      You�ll just have to explain a little more. �You see,
      Bill...� Bill�s a good name. I think you should date
      a Bill. �You see Bill, it�s not what you think. Yes,
      we call it a m�nage � trois, but it�s okay. Really.
      They�re gay. Oh, and Jean-Paul�s a mutant. And the
      babies aren�t really *ours.* Not exactly. Ezra�s
      theirs and Hank�s mine. I had him with my late mutant
      lover. Hank might be a mutant, too. We don�t know
      yet, but we have hopes.� There. That will reassure
      him, bien sur. But we do need a bigger place. You
      don�t want Adam and me having to rap on the wall
      because you and Bill are going at it so loudly we
      can�t sleep, do you?�

      When she�d managed to stop laughing, Anjuli said,
      �Okay, I trust you�ll leave all that speculation out
      when you explain the kind of place we need to Charles

      �You want to go ahead with Jean-Paul�s idea?�

      She nodded. �Let�s look into it, at least. Room for
      our growing family. All for one and one for all.�

      �That�s us � the Three Musketeers,� Adam said happily.

      �Only if I get to be D�Artagnan,� his lover replied.

      �Well, then we need a fourth,� Adam said, reasonably.
      �Athos,� he added, pointing to himself with a fork,
      �Porthos,� pointing to Anjuli.

      �That�s okay,� she added. �Bill will be Aramis. Now
      you guys just have to find him for me.� The three of
      them smiled at each other. �Oh, shoot. I forgot �
      Adam, somebody called for you before, while you were
      out. It was while I was making dinner. I wrote down
      his name and number. Somewhere. What did I do with
      that piece of paper?� She stood up and rifled through
      a pile of papers on the kitchen counter.

      �Was it someone you knew?� Adam asked.

      �No.� Still looking for the scrap she�d written it on,
      she answered with her back to him. �Never heard of
      him. He was a professional contact, a reporter. He
      said he�d been trying to reach you at work.�

      �That�s strange,� Jean-Paul said. �Why didn�t he just
      leave you a voice mail?� Adam didn�t return his gaze.

      �Damn! I can�t find it.� She stopped looking for the
      scrap of paper and stood there, staring off into the
      distance, trying to remember. �He was from a paper in
      San Francisco. The Chronicle, I think. Name starting
      with a J. Jack, Jonah...�

      �Jake?� Jean-Paul asked. �Jake Patterson?�

      �Yeah, that�s it. Do you have his number, Adam? I
      don�t know what I did with that paper.�

      �I�m quite sure Adam knows how to get in touch with
      him.� Jean-Paul�s tone was strange, Anjuli thought,
      as if there were more meaning than just what he said.
      And Adam looked peculiarly uncomfortable. She
      wondered what was going on.


      Charles Xavier looked up from the paper he was grading
      to the clock on his desk when he heard the knock on
      his office door. Seeing the time, he called, �Come in
      RoseAnn� and wheeled out from behind the desk, moving
      towards the seating area at the other side of the
      office. A couch, coffee table, and one armchair were
      situated near the fireplace. Charles wheeled over to
      his accustomed place at the end of the coffee table
      nearest his desk, across from the armchair. The door
      opened and Scott Summers, not RoseAnn Mendez, entered.
      �Oh hello, Scott,� he said, looking behind his Field
      Leader to see if the girl he was expecting was waiting
      outside the office. �Can we talk later? I�ve got a
      meeting with RoseAnn scheduled. She should be here
      any minute. I thought you were her.�

      Scott strode in and sat down on the couch, near
      Charles. �She�s not coming,� he said. �I told her
      not to,� he added.


      �You�re pushing her too hard. It�s too much, too
      fast. She�s not ready to use her powers. She needs
      time to feel comfortable with *not* using them, with
      her ability to suppress her gift.�

      �She�s made enormous progress. Really, Scott,� he
      added, as Scott opened his mouth to respond. �She�s a
      wonderful student. Talented, hardworking, and an
      excellent subject for telepathy. She is ready to go
      to the next stage. She�s suppressing it all the time
      now. RoseAnn hasn�t made a mistake in weeks. She is
      able to eat with regular silverware � no more plastic.
      She�s even wearing jewelry again. It�s time to move
      on to the next step, to go from suppressing it to
      using the gift responsibly.�

      Scott shook his head. �Not yet. You�re scaring her.
      She�s not ready. She doesn�t want to use it. She
      came to talk to me because she was frightened to come
      for this appointment and didn�t know how to get out of

      Charles sighed. �It is frightening. I don�t doubt
      that. They all go through that. We all go through
      that, I should say. I remember being frightened of my
      gift when I first came into my powers. I remember you
      being frightened of yours, for that matter.�

      �Hey, I�m still scared of mine.� Ironic smile on his
      lips. Perhaps pain in his eyes, though. Charles
      couldn�t see that, but he could feel it.

      �Understandable. For what it�s worth, me too,
      sometimes. They�re all scared. Some of the kids need
      a little push. RoseAnn is one of those. It�s like...
      oh, I don�t know. Like being scared of the water.�

      Scott laughed. �Always looking for an analogy the
      person you�re talking to can relate to, Charles?
      Well, I�ve taught a lot of these kids to swim, but I
      don�t throw them in the pool.�

      �No, but you push them some, don�t you? When they
      need it. If I don�t urge her to use her powers, to
      learn to use her gift responsibly, she may never get
      to that point. What a waste that would be! She�s a
      most powerful mutant, you know.�

      �I know. You showed me on Cerebro, before we went to
      get her.�

      �She needs to learn to use that power. I can teach
      her. And, Scott, we need her. There won�t be a
      Cerebro to find others with if I don�t get her help.�

      �It�s working, isn�t it?� Scott sounded anxious.

      �Yes, still working.� Charles nodded his head,
      reassuringly. �You and Logan did an excellent job of
      reconstructing it, with limited tools and without the
      skill � or the mutant power � that Erik used to help
      me build the original. It�s been an invaluable tool
      and we wouldn�t have had it if not for the two of you.
      But it�s not going to last. Cerebro � the
      reconstructed Cerebro � is pretty much held together
      with paperclips and mind control at this point. I
      need RoseAnn Mendez. I need her gift to rebuild it

      �Not yet. Give her time.�

      �I don�t think we have time. Other than Erik
      Lehnsherr, she is the only one with this gift we�ve
      ever found. If she can�t help us, well he�s the only
      one to turn to. And it�s not very practical to look
      to Erik to rebuild Cerebro while he�s in prison.�

      �And he�s not coming out any time soon. Right? Not
      even on furlough to work on Cerebro? Now that your
      influence in Washington is growing.�

      �Of course not. Please don�t think that I would do
      that. Scott, I regret more than I can express the
      times I trusted him, and the misfortunes that befell
      you because of that. I would never trust him again.
      I�m just telling you that we don�t have other options.
      RoseAnn is our only hope. We need her.�

      �Not yet, Charles. Please. Trust me on this. I�m
      her advisor. I�m the one she�s closest to. You need
      to let me make these decisions.� Scott leaned

      Charles sighed. �I know you mean well.�

      �I don�t just mean well. I know what I�m doing, in a
      way that you don�t. In a way that you can�t. Look, I
      defer to your greater knowledge and expertise in so
      many areas. This time I�m the one who knows more.�

      �I don�t know what you�re getting at.�

      �We never talk about it, you and I. And, truth be
      told, that�s fine with me most of the time.� Scott
      smiled ruefully. �In general, I prefer not to think
      about it much. But it is relevant.�

      �What�s relevant?�

      �Oh come on. You know what I mean. I haven�t gotten
      around to making the movie yet, but I was a teenage
      mutant prostitute.�

      Charles laughed, in spite of himself. Then, turning
      serious, he said, �We don�t need to talk about that
      time. It�s not necessary, if you�d rather not.�

      �I don�t mind, really. And I do think it�s relevant.
      I can understand what she�s going through in a way
      that you can�t. I know *you* mean well, Charles. I
      know you�re thinking of what�s best for all of us. I
      understand your sense of urgency, but you can�t push
      her like this. You do and she�ll bolt. We�ll lose
      her altogether.�

      �RoseAnn�s circumstances are quite different from what
      yours were.�

      �I know that. She�s younger than I was. She ran away
      from home before she came into her powers, and that�s
      a significant difference. And she�s got a pimp, which
      I never did. But you know, I really can relate to a
      lot of what she�s going through. And those
      differences? Well they�re the kind that just make it
      more likely that she�d run away from here, which is
      something I never would have done when I was a kid. I
      didn�t have anyone out there to run to. You were all
      I had, Charles.� Scott sat back, closed his eyes in
      memory. �There was one guy � not a pimp � a man who
      kept me for a while. Protected me. It didn�t last.
      After that, I was just on my own, until you came to
      get me.�

      �I know, Scott. I wish it had never happened to you.
      I sincerely wish I�d found you earlier.�

      Scott shrugged. �I�m not asking for pity. Or regret.
      I�m just saying that I know what it�s like to be a
      kid on your own and defenseless, to feel like you�d do
      anything for someone who will take care of you.� He
      opened his eyes and Xavier saw the red glow behind the
      glasses once more. �That how I felt about you,
      Charles. I was willing to do anything for you.�

      �I know.�

      �Well, that�s how she felt about this Nick. And if
      you push her too hard, she�ll go back to him. She
      sees him as her protector.�

      �Protector?� Xavier scoffed. �He�s a criminal and a
      coward, living off drugs and theft and teenage girls
      selling their bodies and giving him the proceeds.�

      �I know that. Do you think I�m defending him? I
      think he�s scum. A parasite destroying the lives of
      kids like RoseAnn and making money off of that. I
      know the type all too well. But she�s convinced he
      cared about her. And he kept the johns from beating
      her and worse. Or at least made sure the ones who did
      hurt her got some of what they dished out in return.
      So she feels like he was taking care of her when
      nobody else would.� Scott shook his head. �And he
      probably only did that because she was less marketable
      with bruises and a black eye. But she thinks he loved
      her. And now that she can suppress her gift, she�s no
      longer worried he�ll find out she�s a mutant. That�s
      the main reason she was willing to stay here at the
      start � she thought he�d kick her out anyway if he

      �Do you really think she�d go back to him?�

      Scott nodded. �You need to give her more time,
      Charles, if you don�t want her running back to Nick.
      I don�t want her leaving. We can help her; we don�t
      want to lose her. If we�re not going to lose her, she
      needs to feel like she�s safe here, protected.�

      �And you are her protector?� Scott nodded again. �I
      think you should be careful. Her feelings for you are
      perhaps stronger than you realize.�

      �Kids have had crushes on me before. All teachers
      deal with that. I can handle it.�

      �You�ve always handled that very well.�

      �I had a good teacher.� They smiled at each other.

      �This might be a little more problematic than your
      standard schoolgirl crush, I�m afraid.� Scott didn�t
      answer. Charles thought for a minute. �Okay, I
      concede you understand her more than I do. You�re
      right � we don�t ever talk about that time in your
      life. I�ve always felt awkward about bringing it up.
      But there�s something I want to say about it,
      something I�ve wanted to say for a long time, but
      haven�t known how to.�

      �What�s that?�

      �I feel like I failed you, Scott.�

      �No, Charles, not at all. You�ve taught me everything
      in my life that�s worth knowing. You haven�t failed

      Xavier held up his hand. �No, hear me out. I didn�t
      know how to deal with that... element of your past
      when you first came here. It was uncomfortable for
      me, and embarrassing. It was easier just to ignore
      it, never mention it. I told myself at the time that
      I was doing that for you, showing you I didn�t think
      of you as a prostitute, that I thought better of you.�
      Scott started to speak again but Charles stopped him.
      �But you�ve shown me how much better it can be
      handled. You take these kids � the ones who were
      involved in all manner of illegal and degrading
      activities before they came here � and you convince
      them that their past doesn�t define them. And you do
      it without sweeping anything under the rug, without
      pretending it didn�t happen. You affirm who they are
      and acknowledge what they did, both at the same time.
      I felt like I could only do one or the other, but
      you�ve shown me I was wrong. You�ve taught me, too.
      You taught me a better way. But I learned too late,
      too late to treat you as I ought to have done.�

      Scott didn�t say anything for a long time. �Thank
      you,� was all he finally said.

      �You�re still teaching me. We�ll do it your way. How
      long do you think we need to wait before RoseAnn will
      be ready to use her gift?�

      �I don�t know. I don�t think we can put a time limit
      on it. Let�s play it by ear. You�re in Washington
      all next week, right? You and Logan?� Charles
      nodded. �Okay, so let�s wait until you get back at
      least. I�ll talk to RoseAnn more while you�re gone.
      I�ll try to get a handle on how she�s feeling, how
      much time she needs. We can�t rush this.� Charles�s
      furrowed brow led Scott to ask. �Are you okay with
      that? You can wait?�

      �I�ll wait. I trust that you know what you�re doing.
      But, Scott, don�t make me wait too long. I�m afraid
      I�m running out of time.�

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