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FIC: No Secrets Better Kept (What’s Past is Prologue 6/18)

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  • Mo
    No Secrets Better Kept (What’s Past is Prologue 6/18) Scott’s student – RoseAnn – left and he ushered me into his office. My flight had been late, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 23, 2005
      No Secrets Better Kept (What’s Past is Prologue 6/18)

      Scott’s student – RoseAnn – left and he ushered me
      into his office. My flight had been late, and I’d
      just barely made the meeting. I put my suitcase out
      of the way and sat down. He didn’t say anything at
      first. I just sat there and looked at him for a
      minute, wondering how he was doing and what I could
      say that would be of comfort.

      He looked tired most of all. And I can’t even say
      what made me think that. Usually it’s the eyes that
      show fatigue and of course his weren’t visible. But
      there was something about his face that just looked so
      completely weary. Well, grief can wear you out.

      “Thanks for coming here,” Scott said, finally. “I
      know how busy you are and I really appreciate you
      taking time for us.”

      “I want to do what I can,” I told him, meaning it

      “Are you settled in?”

      “No, my flight was late. I came straight here. I
      don’t even know where I’m staying.”

      “Rogue will know. We have so many extras these days.
      She’s been managing room assignments, and a lot more.”
      He thought for a minute. “Wendy and Arthur are here
      for a few days. They’re in the room where you usually
      stay. I think you’re in Charles’s guest suite, with
      Anjuli and little Hank, but check with Rogue.”

      “Anjuli’s here?”

      “Yes, didn’t you know? She arrived a couple of days
      ago. To consult with Jean about Hank.”

      “What do you mean? What’s going on?”

      “It seems he might be coming into his powers. I
      thought you would have known.”

      “I’ve been out of town.” I thought about what he’d
      said. “Coming into his powers? He won’t even be two
      until September.”

      “I know. It’s very unusual. I don’t really know the

      “I’ll talk to Anjuli later and get the whole story. I
      know you’re busy – I don’t mean to take up your time
      with this. Let’s talk about what you’d like me to
      write for the memorial service.” I took out some
      papers, as well as a pad and pen. “I made some notes
      and I want to hear more about what you’d like

      “Good. There are some other issues I wanted to
      discuss with you as well.”

      “I thought there might be. And Scott, before we get
      down to it, I just want to offer my condolences in
      person. He was a very special person and a great loss
      to us all. I feel it acutely myself, having known him
      so little. I can’t imagine what you’re going

      “It’s not an easy time. Still, I’m managing. We all
      are.” He sighed. “Sometimes it feels like just
      yesterday he was alive. And sometimes it seems like
      years, like I can barely remember him well.”

      “Time gets distorted during mourning.”

      He nodded his agreement. “Grief makes one hour ten,”
      he quoted.

      “I know this is a hard time for all of you. I want to
      do whatever I can to help. The memorial service
      program and any other way you can use my skills.”

      “Thank you. And thank you for the beautiful letter,
      too. It really captured just who Charles was. That’s
      how you got roped into writing the program for the
      memorial service.” He smiled at me, then continued.
      “There’s something else I’d like to talk to you about
      before we discuss details of the program, though.” He
      paused, as if gathering his thoughts. Or perhaps
      steeling himself to say what was on his mind? When he
      began, he seemed to be stalling. “I want you to know
      that Charles always considered you a member of the
      team and I do, too.”

      “I’m glad to hear that. I’ve sometimes thought of
      myself as sort of an auxiliary X-Man.”

      “As far as I’m concerned you are an X-Man, no
      auxiliary about it. I hope you’ll continue to do work
      for us, as you can. I recognize you have a full-time
      job, of course.”

      “You have a couple of full time jobs.” He laughed at
      that. “I can make time for you, for the X-Men,” I
      continued. “I want to. And Scott? I’m glad that
      you’re still looking on me as part of the team, that
      you’re not seeing me as just having been affiliated
      with the X-Men when I was with Jean-Paul.”

      “I had meant to tell you how sorry I was to hear of
      your break up.”

      “Thanks.” I wasn’t sure how much to say. “It’s still
      new,” I said, finally. “We’re kind of finding our
      way. While I’m here we’re going to talk about how we
      can manage co-parenting, particularly if he’s staying

      “Good. I hope you can work it out. I have a vested
      interest in that,” he said, smiling again. I laughed.
      “I’m not just thinking of the X-Men, you know,” he
      added, more seriously. “I hope for all your sakes you
      can make this work. It’s very hard, I know, forming a
      post-break up relationship, but it’s worth it, I
      think.” He paused, as if wondering whether to say
      more. “Jean and I never had a child, but we had a lot
      that tied us together after we broke up, too. It was
      difficult, very much so for a while. But I’m glad we
      persevered. I’m thankful we were able to develop the
      friendship we have now. I hope you and Jean-Paul can
      find your way through this.”

      “Thanks. I really do care about him still. We’re
      talking. We’ll work something out. It’s just...
      there are a lot of hurt feelings.”

      Scott nodded. “There always are. In my case, it was
      complicated by my coming out, and by my relationship
      with Logan. I realize that was incredibly difficult
      for Jean to accept. Yet she did accept it, and with
      such grace and kindness. And patience, during a
      pretty protracted period where I was trying to figure
      out what I really wanted in life. I’ll always be
      grateful to her for how she handled that.”

      “I guess I’m kind of in that period of figuring out
      what I want in life right now. Jean-Paul has been
      really patient, as well.”

      “Is it not a permanent separation then?”

      “I don’t know.” Neither of us said anything for a

      “I hope it works out some way that makes you both
      happy, whatever that is,” he said finally. “I am glad
      to have Jean-Paul on the team full-time. Actually, I
      want him to have two full-time jobs, too,” he added.
      I looked at him quizzically. “I’m hoping he’ll teach
      French at the Academy, as well.”

      “I had no idea. He hadn’t mentioned it.”

      “Well, I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it.
      Or maybe I figured I’d get him on board with one job
      before I spring my plan on him and completely inundate
      him with work.”

      I laughed at that. “You’re your father’s son.”

      He laughed, too, but then turned serious. “That’s
      related to what I want to talk to you about. There’s
      a reporter from the Washington Times. He’s... well,
      he’s investigating me, starting with my relationship
      with Charles. He called me up to ask how we’re
      related. ‘Are you his natural son?’ was the exact
      question.” Without seeing them, I was quite sure he
      rolled his eyes as he said that.

      “I know about him – Rick Kapell. I was going to tell
      you he’s looking into that. I didn’t realize he’d
      called you directly. What did you tell him?”

      “Nothing. I said all the information about Charles’s
      life that we were giving out was in the press release
      and I wasn’t giving any interviews. But obviously
      that didn’t dissuade him.” He thought for a minute.
      “How do you know about this? Do you know him?”

      I shook my head. “No, I’ve spoken to him on the phone
      but never met him. Believe me, I didn’t tell him
      anything. He got my number through the journalist’s
      grapevine – he’s a friend of a friend. It’s a slimy
      paper, but he seems like a pretty nice guy. Still, I
      don’t think he’s giving up. He’s looking for
      something, and he’s not going to be satisfied until he
      finds a story the Washington Times wants to print.
      You know what that paper is like.”

      “Unfortunately, yes. And I know that he hasn’t given
      up. He’s been calling other people – Jean, some old
      professors of mine. Even Martin Kline.”

      “Shit! So that means he knows about the X-Men role in
      Callahan’s capture?”

      “Suspects, anyway. They’ve printed innuendo about it
      already.” He took a deep breath. “I need your help,

      “I do want to help, but I don’t think I can do
      anything for you. I can’t get him to stop, Scott. I
      don’t even know the man. Anyway, it wouldn’t matter
      if he were my best friend. *I* wouldn’t back off of a
      story just because someone close to the person I’m
      investigating asked me to. It just doesn’t work like
      that. I wish he weren’t on this, but I don’t see any
      way I can stop this investigation.”

      “No, I didn’t think you could. That’s not what I want
      from you.”

      “Then what?”

      “I want you to do your own investigation.”

      “What? You want me to investigate Rick Kapell? To
      what purpose?”

      He shook his head. “No, you misunderstand. I want
      you to investigate me.”


      The team meeting went well. I had been worried that
      it wouldn’t. I hadn’t really had time to prepare
      much. Plus, I’d been so distracted with worry about
      this reporter and what he might find that I didn’t use
      what little time I did have well. But Logan’s idea of
      sending Adam to investigate me was a sound one.
      Meeting with Adam about that relieved some of the
      anxiety. I found that as soon as he’d agreed to do
      it, I relaxed considerably. I went into the team
      meeting in a better frame of mind, and that helped.

      I began by welcoming Jean-Paul as a full-time X-Man
      and announcing that Jean would be hors de combat, for
      at least the duration of her pregnancy. “And I’m
      pleased to say,” I added, “that Rogue has been
      persuaded to rejoin the team.” They all cheered, led
      by Bobby, and she stood up and took a bow. “So we
      have two more who will be in the field, and Jean
      remains a key member of the team, albeit a

      We still had some difficult topics to cover. I let
      Warren explain the financial constraints we were
      operating under. He gave background on how the war
      and its aftermath had affected the holdings of the
      Xavier Foundation, and the austerity measures that
      needed to be put in place for the time being. No one
      balked when he got to the part about salaries being
      cancelled. He was careful to say that it was only a
      temporary measure, and that records of salaries owed
      would be maintained and everyone made whole once the
      financial situation improved. “If any of you have
      personal financial concerns,” he added, “you can
      discuss them with either Cyclops or me privately. We
      will work something out.”

      They all seemed to take it well. John quipped that if
      the X-Men were working for room and board now, the
      food had better improve. Jean-Paul said that it was
      just his luck to sign up right when we stopped paying,
      but he smiled when he said it. Everyone seemed to be
      pretty good-natured about the whole thing, and not too
      alarmed. Warren had done a good job of presenting the
      situation as serious, but temporary. I made a mental
      note to congratulate him on how well he handled it.

      We did our standard post-mortem on missions embarked
      upon since the last meeting. All had been successfully
      accomplished during this period. Still, there are
      always things that went wrong and others that could
      have been done better, so it took a while. Then I
      gave a briefing on known upcoming missions. I handed
      ‘Ro a list of new simulations and told her to work
      them with sub-groups of her choosing. “These are the
      last ones Charles devised,” I told them all, my voice
      steady with some effort. “I’ll come up with some new
      ones by next month. Let’s see if you can get through
      them all by then.”

      Jean discussed plans for the memorial service, and
      explained what it would be like, and the role the
      X-Men would play. “We’ll be in uniform,” she said.
      “And not just us. Everyone who’s ever been an X-Man,
      ever gone on a mission with us. There will be a
      moment of silence near the end, and we’re all going to
      stand up for it. It’s a tribute to Charles’s
      vision,” she added, voice shaking a little. “Everyone
      who has been an active part of enacting that vision
      will be standing there, in one room, visible and proud
      to be part of our team. It’s what he would have
      wanted.” She took a minute to compose herself and
      added, tone changing to a sardonic one, “And I know –
      August in New York is not a great time to be wearing
      leather. We’re hoping the air conditioning holds. If
      not, we’re counting on you, Bobby.” The laughter that
      followed that broke the tension.

      They all left but Logan afterwards, although it took a
      while, a few of them lingering as if they weren’t sure
      it really was the end of the meeting. “What were they
      all waiting for?” he asked.

      “I think they were expecting me to announce a new
      field leader.”

      “Or announce that you’re not gonna have a new one.”

      “Maybe. I really wish I could talk ‘Ro into it.
      She’s been second in command for a long time. She’s
      the obvious choice.” I sighed. “But she’s adamant
      she won’t take it on. She says she’ll sub for me any
      time, but she doesn’t want it as a full-time position.
      Maybe she’s afraid I’ll second-guess all her
      decisions in the post-mortems.”

      “Where would she get an idea like that?”

      I laughed. “Logan,” I said, “What about you?”

      “What about me?”

      “Field Leader. You could do it. You’re the only one
      other than ‘Ro I’d trust with the job. You’ve got
      more combat experience than any of us. You’ve led
      plenty of missions.”

      He shook his head. “Not me. I’m not a leader. Not
      much of a follower,” he added, with an ironic smile,
      “but I’m not a tactician. That’s your strength, not

      “Well, do you have any ideas? If not ‘Ro or you, who
      can do it?”

      “I don’t think you should give it up.”

      “I hate the idea of giving it up. But I can’t do it

      “That’s right. You can’t. But why give up what
      you’re best at? You are the Field Leader. I’m not
      big on following orders, but I follow yours. We all
      do. Who else could get that unruly crowd all doing
      what they’re told? You keep them alive and you get
      the job done. It’s your greatest gift, Cyclops.” He
      put his arms around me, held me close for a minute,
      speaking in my ear. “You don’t have to try and *be*
      him just ‘cause he’s dead. Do what you’re best at.
      Use the rest of us for what we’re good at. You got
      Worthington doing the financial shit. Let Jean take
      over some of the management and the school stuff. And
      let me do what I’m best at – fighting and teaching the
      kids how to fight. You just keep bringing them back
      alive, Scott. It’s what he’d want you to do.”


      I was lying on my bed, reading. Well, trying to read
      would be more accurate. I could hear the sounds of
      two happy toddlers bathing in the adjoining bathroom,
      and Anjuli’s voice, as well. I’d offered to bathe
      them, and to do it in my room, since I’ve got a big
      tub and she was in Charles’s guest suite with just a
      shower. She took me up on the offer of the bathroom
      but said she’d handle the bath. I was wishing I’d
      insisted, bien sur. I needed something to keep my
      mind occupied and this book wasn’t doing it. Ezra
      and Hank are not only adorable together – they’re
      absorbing. You have to keep your wits about you with
      those two. They’re at the age where they can do
      untold damage if you blink. Yes, two almost
      two-year-olds can be an exercise in barely averting
      calamity at all times, but maybe that’s what I needed
      to keep my mind off of Adam.

      He was here, I knew, although I hadn’t seen him yet.
      Anjuli said they’d be rooming together while they were
      both in Westchester, just like in DC. Earlier in the
      day, before the monthly team meeting, Adam had met
      with Scott. Later, after Ezra was in bed, we’d talk
      about our future. Our future as co-parents, not as
      lovers, in all likelihood. I was having a hard time
      accepting that.

      Not that it was certain. I’d told him on the day of
      Jean and Sasha’s wedding that I still wanted him. I
      said that I hoped he’d be willing to give Jake up and
      try again with me. I tried to tell Adam I loved him
      in every way I could – with my body, with my words,
      with my unshakeable resolve to make amends for how I’d
      hurt him. With my complete forgiveness, for real this
      time, for how he’d hurt me. He’d said he wasn’t ready
      to make a decision yet.

      It had been two months since that day, the last time
      we’d had sex, the last time we’d touched. The last
      time we’d talked about the possibility of a future

      He’d never told me that he *had* decided. But he’d
      been spending more and more time with Jake and we’d
      fallen into a routine, albeit an uneasy one, at least
      for me. We spoke on the phone every couple of days,
      saw each other less frequently. We talked about Ezra;
      we talked about work. We were cordial with each
      other, friendly. He told me about his assignments and
      I told him about my missions. We talked about mutual
      friends. We’d spent the evening together – Adam,
      Anjuli and me – the day we’d heard of Professor X’s
      death, drinking cheap wine late into the night and
      reminiscing about him. I consulted with Adam when
      Scott offered me a full-time position with the X-Men.
      He’d offered good advice and said he was sure we could
      work out the issues with Ezra. He was clearly willing
      to be friends.

      I didn’t want to be his friend, not only his friend.
      My body ached for him - I could barely stand being
      near him and not touching. It had felt wonderful the
      one time we had had sex. And then I had felt
      completely empty afterwards when I’d asked him if we
      were getting back together and he’d just joked about

      At this point I just wanted to know. I wanted him to
      decide already. Either we had work to do to rebuild
      our relationship or I had work to do to get over him.
      I wanted to know which kind of work was in store for
      me and I wanted to get started on it. Every day I
      told myself I’d tell him it was too long, that he had
      to decide. Too long, mon ami, I’d say. Give up Jake
      or make this separation permanent. And every day I
      realized again that I couldn’t face what I feared
      would be the result of that ultimatum.

      So, I’d read very little of my book as I went over all
      that for the millionth time. Anjuli’s call from the
      bathroom would have been a welcome distraction if not
      for the urgency in her voice. “Jean-Paul! Come in
      here – right away!”

      The boys looked fine. They were sitting in a bubble
      bath, playing with rubber ducks and buckets and
      sponges. Ezra was chanting something over and over
      again, as he tends to. Everything looked perfectly
      ordinary, from the waist up, anyway.

      Anjuli cleared some bubbles away and pointed at Hank.
      “See? It’s just like it happened before. Just like

      Without the bubbles blocking my view, Hank’s feet and
      legs were visible now. And they were blue. Not the
      slightly bluish tint of a child whose bath has gotten
      too cold. Not the blue of a robin’s egg or a
      blueberry or a bluebell or a cloudless sky. Not a
      blue I had ever seen in nature. Not even the dark
      blue/black of the fur that had covered the skin of his
      father and namesake. No, little Hank’s skin was the
      bright, clear unnatural blue that children loved, or
      at least toy manufacturers thought children loved.
      The blue of blue Playdoh, of bright blue balls and
      color block primary color crib toys. Blue of blue
      buckets and shovels for playing at the beach. Hank
      was holding just such a bucket right now, and he stood
      up to pour the water in it over Ezra’s head, making
      them both giggle. As he did, I got a better look at
      those bright blue legs, matching the bucket as if
      they’d been dyed in the same lot.

      The blue on his legs was spreading. At first glance,
      he was blue only just past his knees. Now it was up
      to his thighs and moving. It was spreading in a sort
      of web-like pattern, with tendrils of blue taking over
      his skin and then the spaces between them filling in.
      It was mesmerizing to watch, the bright color
      spreading over buttocks and genitals now, inching up
      to his waist. I realized what Ezra had been chanting
      before, as he resumed now. “Blue Hank! Blue Hank!
      Blue Hank!” Over and over. And now Hank was joining
      in, and they were saying it together.

      “It’s a two word utterance,” Anjuli said, irony in her
      voice. “A milestone. We need to tell Dr. Cohen.” We
      didn’t look at each other, both staring as the
      transformation was complete.

      “What do you think it means? Is he manifesting?”

      “What else could it mean?” she answered, a little too
      sharply. Then, “I’m sorry. I’m just having trouble
      adjusting. I didn’t think I’d be dealing with this so

      “I know. It’s hard even later.”

      “Yes, particularly when it’s a manifestation that’s
      so... obvious.”

      “Can I do anything?”

      “Get Jean,” she said to me. “I don’t know how long it
      will last this time. I want her to see it.”

      Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo

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