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FIC: Lost All My Mirth (What’s Past is Prologue 2/18)

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  • Mo
    Lost All My Mirth (What’s Past is Prologue 2/18) The funeral was private. It was held at St. Paul’s Chapel of St. John’s Episcopal Parish in South
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2005
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      Lost All My Mirth (What’s Past is Prologue 2/18)

      The funeral was private. It was held at St. Paul’s
      Chapel of St. John’s Episcopal Parish in South Salem,
      of course. That had been the venue of every Xavier
      family funeral since that of Erasmus Xavier in 1903.
      No one attended but the priest and the X-Men. Current
      X-Men only, and all of them in uniform. They filed in
      silently, Cyclops in the lead. If Father Charlton
      thought it strange that they were in black leather
      rather than dark suits and dresses, he didn’t say.
      And if any of the others thought it should have been a
      more public event, they weren’t saying, either.
      Private and in uniform was how Scott said it was going
      to be, and nobody was arguing with Scott these days.

      They had discussed it among themselves, though, in the
      days between the Professor’s death and the funeral.
      Rogue had returned to Westchester a few days before
      Charles’s death, and had stayed around to help out.
      She had offered to take charge of answering calls to
      the mansion, to free up the current X-Men for other
      duties. Quickly inundated with questions she was
      unable to answer, she had set incoming calls to go
      directly to voice mail and gone looking for Jean. She
      found her in the teacher’s lounge, with the other
      X-Men. All except Scott, who was right then meeting
      with Father Charlton to make plans for the funeral.
      “How long has he been in there?” Rogue asked.

      “Going on two hours,” Bobby replied, glancing at his
      watch. “He’s telling him a million stories about the
      Professor, I bet.”

      “And ending every one with ‘don’t forget to put that
      in the eulogy,’ no doubt,” Warren added, eliciting
      chuckles of recognition.

      “Well, what do you all want me to say?” Rogue added,
      looking at Jean first, and then casting her eyes
      around at all of them. She looked at her notes.
      “They’re all asking when the funeral is. I’ve gotten
      calls from the White House, heads of state of three –
      no make that four – foreign countries, senators, heads
      of major corporations, the President of Yale. They
      all want to know when the funeral is. What am I
      supposed to tell them? I can only stall for so long.”

      “Tell them the funeral is private,” Jean said firmly,
      “but there will be a memorial service later and we’ll
      provide details when we have them.”

      “Are you sure?” Rogue brushed a lock of hair off her
      face with her gloved hand.

      Jean nodded. “I’m sure. I’ll talk to Scott. I’ll
      work it out with him. Let’s just get through the
      funeral first.”

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

      The meeting had started off so well. It went downhill
      fast, though, as soon as Miriam and Warren clashed.
      It wasn’t the first time that had happened. Still,
      when Charles was alive he’d known how to intercede
      before things got out of hand. Scott didn’t feel
      equal to the task.

      It was the first Foundation Trustees meeting since the
      death of Charles Xavier. Scott had scheduled it for
      Charles’s office, since that’s where they’d always met
      before, but had decided at the last minute to move it
      to his own. “We’ll go back to meeting there soon,”
      he’d told Warren and Miriam. “There’s more room and
      we have access to all of his files that way. I’m
      just not quite up to it yet.”

      Miriam had patted his hand and offered sympathy and
      assistance, both of which he’d gratefully accepted.
      “I’m counting on both of you,” Scott had said. “A
      lot. I don’t know that I can give the Foundation the
      attention it needs right now.”

      “I’m quite happy to take a larger role,” Warren
      replied. “I’m sure Miriam is as well.”

      “Yes, of course,” she’d said. “I’ll do whatever you
      want me to, Scotty.” Warren looked up at the “Scotty”
      but Scott didn’t react. “For the Foundation, for the
      school. I was very involved in Adam’s education, you
      know. I’m sure there’s lots I can help with at the
      Academy. For the X-Men, too, if there’s anything that
      you think I could do. I don’t suppose everything you
      do requires superpowers. And Adam can help out, too,
      with anything you need written or anything you want
      him to find out for you. He did uncover the
      information that ended the war, after all,” she added,
      pride in her voice. “I’d offer Jean-Paul, too, but
      he’s already working for you.”

      Scott smiled at that. “Yes, he is. And thank you.
      I’m sure I’ll be calling on you in many different
      capacities, Miriam. I really appreciate all you do,
      and your willingness to take on more.”

      “From each according to his – or her – abilities,” she
      paraphrased.

      “And to each according to his – or her – needs,” Scott
      continue. “Let us know if we can do anything for you.
      And I’ll speak to Adam as well.” He hesitated.
      “Adam and Jean-Paul...”

      “They’re having some problems right now,” Miriam said
      briskly. “Couples do. It’s nothing to worry about.”
      She pulled out some papers from her bag and passed
      them to the two men. “Okay, let’s get started. I have
      plans for new programs listed here. We can go over
      them and I’ll explain them in greater detail.”

      “Just a minute, Miriam,” Warren interrupted. “I think
      we should go over the finance report first.”

      “That can wait. I really want to tell you both about
      the plans for the new Drop-In Center program for
      homeless mutant youth. It was your mother’s idea,”
      she added, turning to Warren.

      “Yes, I know,” he said. “She told me about it. But
      it’s not going to happen. Not this year.”

      “What?” Miriam’s tone had gone from excited to
      antagonistic.

      “We just don’t have the funds. We can’t introduce any
      new programs right now. What we really need to talk
      about is which ones we’re going to cut back on
      refunding, or not refund at all.”

      “Uh uh.” Miriam was shaking her head and pointing her
      index finger at Warren, who was silently bristling at
      her manner. “No way. These kids need the drop in
      center.”

      “Of course they do,” Warren answered, struggling to
      keep his voice calm. “And I hope we will be able to
      give it to them. Eventually. Right now we need to
      talk about how to cut back. Our financial situation
      is fairly dire.”

      Miriam made no effort to sound calm herself. “Dire?”
      she asked, voice rising. “You’re sitting there in
      your thousand dollar suit talking about dire financial
      situations? These kids don’t have *homes*.”

      Warren opened his mouth to answer, but Scott stepped
      in. “Miriam, why don’t we just hear what Warren has
      to say.” He turned to him. “How bad is it?”

      Warren passed out financial reports. “It’s all in
      here. It’s not good. We don’t have to sell the
      Blackbird or rent out the mansion or anything, but
      we’ve got to go on an austerity program for a while.”

      “What happened?” Miriam sounded like she was at least
      willing to listen to the answer, although her tone was
      still surly.

      Warren shrugged shoulders and wings. “Mostly the War
      on Mutants happened. Our assets were seized for
      months. That had a terrible effect on earnings.
      Production of the Rollabout stopped for eight months,
      too, and that’s a big part of our revenue.”

      “I thought it’s manufactured in Canada,” Miriam said.

      “It is, but key parts are made in the U.S. and we
      didn’t have access to them. Or the funds, with all
      the U.S. assets seized, to start producing them
      somewhere else. Customers didn’t wait; they went
      elsewhere. We’re only starting to get some of them
      back. I think it will be a year before we’re back to
      full capacity.

      “Plus, there was considerable damage to the building
      here; Cerebro was destroyed. All of the rebuilding
      and renovation has been expensive. This looks like
      it’s just a house, but it’s a lot more than that.
      There’s a complicated electronic infrastructure, much
      of which was too damaged to be repaired, so it had to
      be replaced. Insurance won’t pay for damage caused by
      acts of war – we were on our own for all the expenses.

      “And then there’s the Outpost. It was mostly
      self-sufficient before the war, but we’ve had to
      support them a lot in the past year – there was a much
      larger population than they could handle on their own
      for the duration.”

      “I know,” Scott interjected. “I was there for much of
      the war myself. We never would have been able to
      continue operating during the war if not for the
      Outpost. We need to continue to support them.”

      Warren nodded his agreement. “There still are more
      people there than they can support through their own
      efforts,” he added, looking at Scott. “A lot of
      mutants are just not comfortable returning to this
      country.”

      “I can’t say I blame them,” Scott concurred. “We need
      to provide whatever support Wendy and Arthur need to
      house those people. Eventually they’ll re-achieve
      self-sufficiency, but in the mean time, we’re honor
      bound to help them.”

      Warren nodded and continued. “The rescue missions
      during the war were expensive. All of this with our
      assets seized. And in the few months since they’ve
      been released, the whole country has experienced an
      economic downturn. That’s affected our investments as
      well. It’s not a pretty picture.”

      “Can we get back on our feet?” Scott asked.

      “Yes. For sure. It’s just going to take time. We
      need to follow some austerity measures until then.”

      “I don’t need to draw a salary for a while, if that
      would help,” Scott offered.

      “I guess you haven’t looked at your bank balance
      lately.” Warren smiled. “I cut you off of salary two
      months ago.” Smiling a little sheepishly he added, “I
      haven’t drawn one for a year, not since before the
      war. Charles and I both stopped drawing salary at the
      same time.”

      “I don’t need my trustee fees,” Miriam added.

      “Thanks.” Warren continued, after a minute, “I think
      we should cancel salary for all of the X-Men for a
      while, actually. Bring it up at the next team meeting
      – the X-Men are working for room and board for now. I
      don’t think anyone will object.”

      Scott nodded. “How long do you think it will take
      until we’re solvent?”

      “I don’t know. Depends on the market. Six months if
      we’re lucky. A year or more, if we’re not.” He
      paused. “There is something else we can do.”

      “What?”

      “Well, you know how we’ve been getting requests for
      X-Men assistance from the federal government, and
      foreign governments, too.”

      “Yes, there have been more of those official mission
      requests lately. We undertake them when they fit our
      core vision and we have the resources to do them – the
      right people with the right powers. I know some of
      these missions are costly, but I think we have to take
      them on if they need us.”

      “I’m not suggesting not doing them.”

      “What then?”

      “Well,” and here Warren was clearly hesitating. “Some
      governments are willing to pay. We’d still only be
      performing missions we felt were right, but we could
      get some revenue to offset the costs. There isn’t a
      lot of competition for what we’ve got to offer. We’ve
      got unique capabilities. There’s willingness in some
      quarters to pay well.”

      “Absolutely not.” Scott’s tone left no room for
      argument. “We’re not mercenaries. I’m not betraying
      Charles’s vision that way.”

      Warren sighed. “I was pretty sure you’d say that, but
      I thought it was worth a try.” He shrugged shoulders
      and wings. “I’ve still got some Worthington stock.
      Not a controlling interest, anyway, so it doesn’t
      matter so much whether or not I hold onto it. I’ll
      sell some if we need an infusion of cash. We’ll be
      okay in the long run. It’s a short term problem.”

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

      “Can you just try to get along with her?”

      “I am trying!”

      “Can you try harder? She does so much for us and
      she’s got skills we really need.”

      “I know she does. I really do respect Miriam. She
      has great ideas. She works hard. And offers Adam’s
      and Jean-Paul’s services, as well. Plus, she’s the
      only person in the world who can get away with calling
      you ‘Scotty’,” he added, making Scott chuckle. “I’m
      glad she’s working for us. Well, glad in theory.
      Very glad when she’s nowhere near me. But when she
      gives me that look...”

      “What look is that?”

      “You know, that ‘when the revolution comes, buddy,
      you’ll be the first to die’ look. I just lose my
      sense of proportion.” They smiled at each other.
      “But I’ll try harder.”

      “Thanks. And thanks for handling this financial
      crisis, Warren.”

      “Hey, it’s what I do best. That and flying.”

      “I’m glad you’re doing both of those for the X-Men. I
      rely on you a lot, Warren.”

      “Like you – and Miriam and Karl – said: from each
      according to his ability; to each according to his
      needs.” They smiled at each other. “Do you think it
      will help me with Miriam that I’ve learned that one?
      Maybe she’d let me live after all.”

      Scott laughed and then turned serious. “What about
      your needs, huh? How are you doing?”

      “Up and down. Sometimes I just can’t believe he’s
      really dead, you know?”

      “Yes, I know very well.”

      “I’ll tell you one thing, though. I’m glad I made up
      with him and came back here. I thank you for that,
      Scott. I never would have done it if not for you.
      This is where I belong. I’m doing what I need to do.
      But even more than that – I feel like... there was no
      unfinished business between us. It makes a
      difference.”

      “I’m sure it does.”

      “Before he died, he told me... well, he said he was
      proud of me. I’ll always remember that.”

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

      Scott found Jean in the lab, looking in a microscope.
      “You busy?” he asked.

      She smiled at him. “Time for a break, anyway.”

      “What are you working on?”

      “X-gene analysis. I figure it’s time to get back to
      it. I didn’t really have the heart for it after Hank
      died. And then Anjuli was making progress on the
      other end, with HFC and so forth. There’s always so
      much going on here... But it’s been two years. I
      never meant to leave it this long.” She smiled sadly.
      “Besides, it gives me something to do, something
      positive to focus on. I need that now.”

      “How are you holding up?”

      She shrugged. “Better some times, worse others. You
      know what the worst is? I forget sometimes. I say
      something to him, in my head. Something mundane,
      generally. And it’s not until he doesn’t answer that
      I remember.” Tears filled her eyes. “I wanted him to
      feel the baby kick this morning. Opened my brain and
      my sensations to him, all excited. And then... well,
      then I remembered.” She sniffed a little, clearly
      making an effort not to cry. “I’m sorry, Scott.
      You’ve got your own grief to deal with. You don’t
      need to hear about mine.”

      “Sure I do. A burden shared. Jean, I don’t think
      anyone else can understand how it is for you and me.
      Not even Warren and ‘Ro. We need to share this, you
      and I.” Neither of them said anything for a minute.
      “You can feel the baby kick? Already? Isn’t that
      early?”

      She nodded. “Yeah, but I’m not so surprised. I’ve
      seen it before in psionics. We’re more in tune with
      our bodies or something. Or maybe it’s that we’re in
      tune with others close to us.” She looked down. “Very
      close. Growing inside. It’s so amazing to me. I
      know I sound ridiculous saying that, like I think I’m
      the first person in the world to have a baby. But I
      just can’t get over it.” And then she was crying.
      “Oh Scott! He wanted so much to see this baby. He
      wanted to stay alive long enough for that. I haven’t
      seen him wanting anything that much since... I don’t
      know. Since he wanted us to become the X-Men, I
      think.”

      “I know.” He reached out his arms and they held each
      other for a minute.

      “We’re going to name it after him,” she said, finally.

      “Do you know that it’s a boy?”

      She shook her head. “Sasha doesn’t want to know, so I
      went along with that. We’ll let it be a surprise.
      Charlotte’s a nice name, too.”

      “Jean... about the baby.” Scott hesitated, unsure of
      how to proceed. “I think you should be hors de
      combat, from here on in. I don’t think you should be
      taking those kinds of risks, not while you’re
      pregnant. Maybe not after, either. There’s plenty to
      do besides combat missions.”

      He looked at her anxiously, but was relieved to see
      her smiling at him. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “I
      didn’t want to ask, but I thought so, too. And
      Sasha’s been after me to talk to you about it. But I
      didn’t want you to feel like I’m not pulling my
      weight, particularly now.”

      “I’d never think that.”

      “I can take over more with the school if you want.
      Work with students more – free you up.”

      “That would help. I feel like I’m neglecting the kids
      a lot lately. I don’t think I realized just how much
      Charles did until I started trying to do it all,” he
      added, shaking his head. “I feel in over my head,
      particularly on some of the political stuff, and it’s
      the school side that’s suffering. I’ve cancelled
      advisement sessions for the summer, as usual, but I
      generally check in on my advisees anyway. And this
      summer I’m just not doing it.”

      “Well, two of them are keeping each other busy.” He
      looked at her questioningly. “Jamie and RoseAnn. You
      didn’t know? They’re kind of *the* couple at school
      now.”

      “I had no idea. I guess that’s how out of it I am.”
      He thought about it. “What do you think of that?”

      “They’re totally adorable together. Both a little
      intense types, though. Maybe jumping into a more
      serious relationship than they’re ready for at their
      age? Broken hearts are just as painful in your teens
      – if not more so – as they are later.”

      “True. It may be puppy love, but it doesn’t feel like
      it when you’re a puppy. Nothing we can do to prevent
      that, anyway.”

      “No, we can just help pick up the pieces if it
      happens.” She smiled. “Who knows? There’s no reason
      to predict an unhappy end. Right now they’re in love
      and happy and it’s infectious. Nice to have some joy
      around here.”

      “You can say that again.”





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



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