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FIC: Fear and Wonder (A Time to Every Purpose 7/10)

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  • Mo
    “Who was that?” Sasha’s worried tone matched Jean’s expression. “Sloan Kettering. Levitan.” “Clearly not good news.” She shook her head. “I
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2005
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      �Who was that?� Sasha�s worried tone matched Jean�s
      expression.

      �Sloan Kettering. Levitan.�

      �Clearly not good news.�

      She shook her head. �I wasn�t expecting good news,
      but it�s worse than I thought.�

      Sasha put his arms around her. �I�m so sorry,
      darling.� He kissed her on the forehead. �I�m glad
      you talked to Scott, and that it is all out in the
      open now.�

      �Yes, me too. I was worried about how Charles would
      react, but I think it turned out to be good for him.
      Having to talk to Scott has helped move him along or
      something in his acceptance of the illness. It�s so
      sad to see him thinking about succession, but it�s
      necessary. I do think he was kind of in denial for a
      while there, feeling like if Scott didn�t know it
      wasn�t really happening.�

      �Do you think that�s why it wasn�t caught earlier? He
      was in denial and didn�t see a doctor when he ought to
      have?�

      She shook her head. �No, it�s the nature of the
      disease. It�s a really bad one. Fast growing, rarely
      responds to treatment.�

      �But so quickly as this? It seems like just yesterday
      he was healthy. Well, healthy considering his
      disability.�

      She nodded. �That�s what pancreatic cancer is like.
      People can go from not knowing they are sick to...
      dying in just a couple of months. Often there are no
      symptoms until it�s quite advanced. Even more likely
      with Charles. His disability is not just paralysis,
      you know. He has so little feeling in that part of
      his body � I wouldn�t have expected that he would know
      anything was wrong for a long time.� She shook her
      head sadly. �I hate to see him like this. He looks
      awful.� She shrugged and smiled a little. �At least
      his eyebrows are coming back. Makes him look more
      like himself.�

      �And lucky he had no head hair to lose.� Sasha�s wry
      smile was as sad as Jean�s. �What did the oncologist
      say?�

      �He said he doesn�t think we should count on Charles
      being at the wedding.� She choked away the sobs as he
      held her.

      ******************************************************

      �Show me once more. I can do it.�

      �Give it up, Worthington. No way you can manage this
      maneuver.�

      The words taken by themselves were adversarial. The
      broad smiles on the faces of the winged man and boy
      suggested it was all in good fun.

      �You little pipsqueak,� Warren continued. �Don�t tell
      me what I can and cannot manage. I was flying before
      you were born.�

      The grin on Jamie�s freckled face spread wider.
      �Yeah, that�s what I was saying. Can�t teach an old
      dog new tricks.� Warren laughed and Jamie added,
      relenting. �Okay, old man. I�ll do it one more
      time.�

      He rose about fifty feet into the air and hovered for
      a minute. Then gracefully, smoothly, he flew in a
      perfect figure eight, flying upside down on the down
      strokes, finishing squarely in the middle, right where
      he�d started. In one smooth movement Jamie flipped
      his body from vertical to horizontal and continued
      without stopping. He moved first to the east, then to
      the west, forming an infinity sign intersecting with
      the eight. Finishing at the middle again, he took a
      bow in the air and landed.

      �Okay, so how do you do that without feeling like
      you�re going to throw up? I get as far as finishing
      the eight and I�m too nauseous � and too disoriented �
      to know if I�m right side up or upside down. I can�t
      do the infinity one until I land and catch my
      bearings.�

      �Trade secret. I close my eyes. It�s all in the
      eyes, the vertigo. Just feel where you�re going.
      Don�t look.�

      The X-Man known as Angel tried the eight-infinity
      maneuver once more. Rising into the air, he muttered,
      �I�ll do it if it kills me.� When he landed, he was
      all smiles.

      �So? Admit it,� he said.

      �Yeah, you did it,� Jamie replied. �I guess you
      haven�t totally lost it yet.�

      �Thanks for teaching me.� Warren�s voice was serious
      this time. �It�s good to push myself, try something
      new. It�s not exactly the kind of thing I can do on
      missions,� he added. �If you close your eyes in
      combat, you might never open them. But, it�s good to
      know that stops the vertigo. I never picked up on
      that in all these years. How did you know?�

      �Trial and error. You taught me that trick about
      looking at the horizon, and that helps avoid vertigo
      with normal flying. But there�s no horizon when
      you�re doing the complicated flips, or not one you can
      focus on. So, I wondered if it�s looking that�s the
      problem and figured I�d try without vision.� Jamie
      thought some more. �I�m glad I�ve got you,� he said,
      his tone serious now, too. �I�m learning more than I
      would on my own. How�d you even learn how to fly with
      nobody in your life with wings?�

      Warren shrugged shoulders and wings. �Trial and
      error.� He spread his wings out as far as they could
      go and sat down on the grass next to Jamie. �I�m glad
      I have you, too. It�s good to do new stuff with them.
      Good to find out I�m not totally washed up,� he
      added, punching Jamie on the upper arm. �Nice to know
      these things are still good for something besides
      picking up chicks.�

      �Well, I�m glad mine work for flying,� the red-headed
      boy said, his smile looking more ironic now. �They
      don�t work with girls. If anything, they repel them.�

      �I doubt that. Jamie, you�re young. Plenty of time
      ahead of you.�

      �Were you a virgin at fifteen?�

      �Well, no,� Warren conceded. �But I think most boys
      are. There�s nothing wrong with it.�

      �I�ve never even kissed a girl. Never been on a date.
      Most of the girls here won�t even talk to me.�

      �You�re fifteen years old and taking exclusively AP
      classes. And you�re the top student in all of them.�

      �So what?�

      �You�re both too young and too smart for the girls in
      your classes. They�re intimidated by you. It will be
      different when you�re older. You just have to wait it
      out.� He thought some more. �I wish Hank were here.
      He could tell you. He went through the same thing.
      It�s hard being smarter than everybody else.�

      �Don�t you think being blue and furry had more to do
      with him not dating than being smart?�

      �He wasn�t then. Blue and furry. It happened later.
      And blue and furry didn�t stop him, did it? There�s
      little Hank to prove that.� He looked at Jamie. �Do
      you really think the girls at school are repelled by
      your wings?� His voice was openly scoffing.

      �No, not all of them, anyway. You�re probably right.
      They think I�m too young. Most of the girls in my
      classes are 17, or even older.� Warren suppressed a
      smile at the reverential way Jamie said that. �But
      there�s this one girl... I really like her, and she�s
      around my age.�

      �Yeah? Do tell.�

      �Nothing to tell. She won�t even look at me.�

      �Well, tell me about her. Maybe I can give you a few
      tips. Who is she?�

      �She�s new.�

      �The new girl? RoseAnn?� Jamie nodded. �Well, give
      her time. You don�t want to rush her.�

      �Do you know her?�

      �Not really. I pretty much stay away from the school
      side of things, but I�ve seen her around. She just
      came into her powers.�

      �So?�

      �Well, it�s different for most of them than it is for
      you and me. We had a different experience � for good
      and for bad � since we always knew we were mutants.
      Most mutants � well, all they know about being a
      mutant is that it�s freakish and disgusting.
      Something that happens to other people, you know? And
      then somewhere around fourteen or fifteen or sixteen �
      when kids are usually focused on fitting in � that�s
      when they find out they�re part of that freakish
      group. So, they don�t always react well. If they�ve
      got a mutation that doesn�t show, yeah sometimes they
      avoid being with more obvious mutants. They just want
      to be normal.�

      �I�m getting to hate that word.�

      Warren laughed. �Yeah, me too. But it�s � dare I say
      it? � pretty normal to react that way. It�s directed
      outwards, towards the more visible mutants, but what
      it really is is self-hatred. And,� he added, starting
      to sing now, �There�s no hatred like self-hatred like
      no hatred I know.� Jamie laughed at that. �Give her
      time, Jamie. Maybe she doesn�t want to look at your
      wings now. Maybe she doesn�t want to interact with
      obvious mutants. She�ll get over it. Before you know
      it, she�ll be asking you if she can touch them. Women
      always do.�

      ******************************************************

      �Scott?�

      �Hi, Logan. How�d it go? What did Anjuli say?�

      �A whole lot of stuff I can�t begin to understand and
      I�m not even going to try to repeat. But the main
      message is � haul your ass on down here. Anjuli can�t
      wait to get her hands on you. Not quite like me. She
      wants to do tests on you.�

      �So she thinks there�s something to my idea?�

      �She thinks you�re fucking brilliant. The healing
      factor is in jizm and it�s not like it is in blood.
      All her preliminary tests are coming out showing
      you�re right. It�s there; it�s strong; it doesn�t
      need some complicated process to isolate and
      concentrate it. Healing semen. You called it.�

      �Yes!�

      �I�ll tell you, I�m way pissed off to find out I�ve
      been putting up with her jabbing me with needles all
      this time when I could�ve been jerking off instead.
      Anyway, she�s more excited than I�ve ever seen.�

      �And she wants me to come down there?�

      �Yeah, she�s dying to take you apart and see what
      makes you tick. She wants you to bring your complete
      medical records, too. Everything Hank kept on you.�

      �Did you ask her about cancer?�

      �Yeah, she doesn�t know. Either with the HFC or the
      new stuff. She said it really could go either way.
      It might cure him, it might make it worse. She said
      it�s up to the Professor if he wants to risk it.
      She�s going to talk to him about it. They have a
      meeting set up. They�re talking about something about
      the Foundation, but she said they�ll talk about
      alternative treatments, too.�

      �I�m glad I talked to him. Thanks for talking me into
      telling him what I know. He�s not hiding it anymore.
      He�s talking to Anjuli, to other people. It�s out in
      the open.�

      �Stupid to keep a secret of being sick.�

      �Yeah, I agree.�

      �Do you think he�ll try the HFC? Or whatever she�s
      going to call the healing semen stuff?�

      �I don�t know, but conventional chemo isn�t working
      for him. This may be his only chance.�

      �Then I hope he does it.�

      �Me, too. I�ll tell you - I�m having a hard time even
      thinking of life without him.�

      �Scott?�

      �Yeah.�

      �Whatever happens with him... Well, I�m here. Not
      going anywhere. For the team. For you, too.
      Whatever helps � talking, sex...�

      �Thanks, Logan. I really appreciate that.�

      **********************************************

      �Adam Greenfield.� Adam wasn�t sure anyone was on the
      line at first. He waited. It wasn�t unusual for
      this to happen when he got a call at work.
      Particularly one in the evening like this, when a
      caller might expect to get his voice mail and not
      really be prepared to speak to him. Sources sometimes
      didn�t talk right away. �I�m listening,� he said.
      �This is Adam Greenfield, at the Miami Herald DC
      bureau.� When the person on the other line finally
      did speak, it was clear he wasn�t a source.

      �You bastard. What the fuck are you trying to do to
      me?�

      �Who is this?�

      �Jake Patterson. Remember me?�

      Adam took a deep breath. �I don�t have anything to
      say to you.�

      Jake�s voice was shaking with anger. �Then don�t say
      anything. Just fucking listen. I don�t know what
      sick game you two are up to, but you don�t get to use
      me for it anymore. What did I ever do to you to
      deserve this?�

      �Jake, look. I really don�t think we should be
      talking.�

      �I liked you,� Jake said, his voice on the phone
      bristling with anger. �Do you know that? I admired
      you, respected you. When I saw you speak I wanted to
      talk to you. I didn�t know where it would lead. Sex,
      friendship � I had no idea. I just thought you were
      someone I wanted to get to know. You know what�s
      really ironic? It was you talking about ethics on
      that panel that got me interested. How about some
      personal ethics? Using other people to spice up your
      boring married sex life? Ever think about what it
      feels like to be the one who gets used?�

      �Jake, I think we both probably did things we
      shouldn�t have. I don�t see any point in talking
      about it now. I�m not comfortable talking to you.
      I�m sorry. I don�t want to rehash who did what or how
      things should have gone differently. I don�t see any
      point in that. We spent very little time together and
      it was a long time ago. I think we�re both better off
      if we just drop it now and go on with our own lives.
      This all happened a year ago.�

      �I *was* going on with my life, until you two decided
      to use me as some sort of sick diversion from your
      domestic monotony. I�m not talking about a year ago.
      I�m talking about today.�

      �I don�t know what you mean.�

      �Yeah, right. Like you weren�t in on it.�

      �I really can�t talk to you. I�m sorry. That�s just
      how it is. Please don�t call me again.�

      �Don�t worry about that. I wish I never met you � or
      him. Call you? I never want to talk to someone who
      fucks with people like you do. Don�t think for a
      minute I�m falling for that innocent act. You know
      what I�m talking about. And if you don�t, well ask
      your boyfriend. Ask Jean-Paul.�

      Adam listened to the dial tone for a while before he
      hung up the phone.


      *****************************************************

      �I finished it, at least. It�s not very good, but I
      wrote the essay. I left it in your box last night.�
      RoseAnn looked down. �Did you read it yet?�

      �At least five times,� Scott replied. �I think it�s
      wonderful. The best thing I�ve read in a long time.�

      �You�re kidding.�

      �Not at all. I even called Professor Xavier in
      Washington to read it to him, I was so excited about
      it.�

      �It�s not even an essay, really. Not all of it,
      anyway.�

      �That rewritten scene? It was amazing, RoseAnn.
      Truly, I want you to try rewriting the whole play with
      Desdemona as the central character. I bet you could
      do it. But even with just the final scene rewritten
      to focus on her, you made me see things in her
      character � see things in the play � I never saw
      before. I often learn from my students, but almost
      never like this. I am excited about Othello, about
      the potential of the play, in a way I haven�t been for
      years. Because of your essay.�

      �You�re just saying that because you want me to get
      into this academic shit. You�re giving me �positive
      reinforcement�.� She drew out the last two words in
      an exaggerated fashion.

      Scott laughed. �Well, I do want you to be interested
      in academics, and I do try to reinforce positive
      behavior. But I do it by telling the truth. RoseAnn,
      this class is really a senior seminar, you know.
      Occasionally I�ve got slightly younger kids in it.
      Only twice has anyone taken my Shakespeare seminar who
      wasn�t at least 16 � you and Jamie Moore. Do you know
      Jamie?�

      �I don�t think so... Wait, is he the one with the
      wings?�

      �Yes, that�s right. Red hair. White wings.� She
      laughed. �He took my Shakespeare seminar three years
      ago. I made an exception. And you know what? I
      ended that class with a new and deeper understanding
      of Hamlet. Because of Jamie, because of his essay.
      And now I�m getting new insights into Desdemona from
      you. I only take younger kids in this class if
      they�re really ready for it. I only take them if I�m
      sure I�m going to get something out of it,� he added
      with a smile and she laughed again.

      After a minute, she said, �Do you really think I could
      do the whole play like that, turn it from �Othello�
      into �Desdemona�?�

      �You won�t know unless you try. You did such a
      splendid job with the dying scene, but maybe not every
      scene lends itself to that.�

      �Maybe not every scene needs to be in the play. Maybe
      some new ones do.� She was clearly getting excited.

      �Well, give it a try,� he said. �I need to talk to
      you about something else,� Scott added.

      �What? Did I do something wrong?�

      �No, not at all. I want to talk to you about my
      plans. I�m going to be away from the school for a
      while. I�m not sure how long. I need to join the
      Professor and Logan in Washington.�

      �What for?�

      �X-Men business. Ms. Monroe will sub in my classes
      while I�m gone. I�m trying to catch up on all my
      advisement sessions before I go. That�s why I asked
      you to move your appointment up from next week.�

      �You don�t know when you�ll be back?�

      �No, I�m sorry. It�s kind of open-ended. But
      RoseAnn, you can call me at any time. And if you need
      anything, if you�re worried about anything, if you
      have any problems � you can always talk to Dr. Grey.
      She�s rock solid reliable. You can tell her anything.
      I�d trust her with my life � I have on many
      occasions. You can trust her to help you with any
      problem you�ve got.�

      �You were going to marry her.� RoseAnn�s cheeks
      reddened. �I don�t know why I said that.�

      Scott laughed. �I don�t, either, but it�s true.
      Jean�s one of my closest friends. For a while we
      thought we could make a life together. I�m happier
      than I can say that even though we realized that would
      be a mistake it didn�t mean losing her friendship.�

      �And now she�s marrying Mr. Cherevko?�

      Scott nodded. �Someone much more suitable. They�re
      great together. They really bring out the best in
      each other. Love can do that to you.�

      �And that�s okay with you?�

      �More than okay. I�m very happy for them. I�m going
      to be best man at their wedding.� There was a knock
      on the door. �Come in,� Scott called.

      Jamie walked in, then hesitated when he saw Scott
      wasn�t alone. �Oh, I�m sorry... I didn�t know... Am
      I...?�

      �You�re right on time. Jamie, you know RoseAnn? We
      were just finishing. We�d been talking about you, in
      fact,� Scott added. �I was telling RoseAnn how you
      had given me new insights into Hamlet.� Jamie�s face
      shown bright red under the freckles. Scott was
      surprised. Jamie was usually so self-confident about
      his academic prowess, not one to be embarrassed when
      his work was praised.



      Mo
      Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo
      www.livejournal.com/users/mofic

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