FIC: No Secrets Better Kept (Whats Past is Prologue 6/18)
- No Secrets Better Kept (Whats Past is Prologue 6/18)
Scotts student RoseAnn left and he ushered me
into his office. My flight had been late, and Id
just barely made the meeting. I put my suitcase out
of the way and sat down. He didnt 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 cant even say
what made me think that. Usually its the eyes that
show fatigue and of course his werent 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
dont even know where Im staying.
Rogue will know. We have so many extras these days.
Shes been managing room assignments, and a lot more.
He thought for a minute. Wendy and Arthur are here
for a few days. Theyre in the room where you usually
stay. I think youre in Charless guest suite, with
Anjuli and little Hank, but check with Rogue.
Yes, didnt you know? She arrived a couple of days
ago. To consult with Jean about Hank.
What do you mean? Whats going on?
It seems he might be coming into his powers. I
thought you would have known.
Ive been out of town. I thought about what hed
said. Coming into his powers? He wont even be two
I know. Its very unusual. I dont really know the
Ill talk to Anjuli later and get the whole story. I
know youre busy I dont mean to take up your time
with this. Lets talk about what youd 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 youd 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 cant imagine what youre going
Its not an easy time. Still, Im 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,
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. Thats
how you got roped into writing the program for the
memorial service. He smiled at me, then continued.
Theres something else Id 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.
Im glad to hear that. Ive sometimes thought of
myself as sort of an auxiliary X-Man.
As far as Im concerned you are an X-Man, no
auxiliary about it. I hope youll 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? Im glad that
youre still looking on me as part of the team, that
youre 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 wasnt sure how much to say. Its still
new, I said, finally. Were kind of finding our
way. While Im here were going to talk about how we
can manage co-parenting, particularly if hes staying
Good. I hope you can work it out. I have a vested
interest in that, he said, smiling again. I laughed.
Im not just thinking of the X-Men, you know, he
added, more seriously. I hope for all your sakes you
can make this work. Its very hard, I know, forming a
post-break up relationship, but its 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 Im glad we
persevered. Im 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. Were
talking. Well work something out. Its 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. Ill always be
grateful to her for how she handled that.
I guess Im 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 dont 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. Im hoping hell teach
French at the Academy, as well.
I had no idea. He hadnt mentioned it.
Well, I havent had a chance to talk to him about it.
Or maybe I figured Id get him on board with one job
before I spring my plan on him and completely inundate
him with work.
I laughed at that. Youre your fathers son.
He laughed, too, but then turned serious. Thats
related to what I want to talk to you about. Theres
a reporter from the Washington Times. Hes... well,
hes investigating me, starting with my relationship
with Charles. He called me up to ask how were
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 hes looking into that. I didnt realize hed
called you directly. What did you tell him?
Nothing. I said all the information about Charless
life that we were giving out was in the press release
and I wasnt giving any interviews. But obviously
that didnt dissuade him. He thought for a minute.
How do you know about this? Do you know him?
I shook my head. No, Ive spoken to him on the phone
but never met him. Believe me, I didnt tell him
anything. He got my number through the journalists
grapevine hes a friend of a friend. Its a slimy
paper, but he seems like a pretty nice guy. Still, I
dont think hes giving up. Hes looking for
something, and hes 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 hasnt given
up. Hes 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
Suspects, anyway. Theyve printed innuendo about it
already. He took a deep breath. I need your help,
I do want to help, but I dont think I can do
anything for you. I cant get him to stop, Scott. I
dont even know the man. Anyway, it wouldnt matter
if he were my best friend. *I* wouldnt back off of a
story just because someone close to the person Im
investigating asked me to. It just doesnt work like
that. I wish he werent on this, but I dont see any
way I can stop this investigation.
No, I didnt think you could. Thats not what I want
I want you to do your own investigation.
What? You want me to investigate Rick Kapell? To
He shook his head. No, you misunderstand. I want
you to investigate me.
The team meeting went well. I had been worried that
it wouldnt. I hadnt really had time to prepare
much. Plus, Id been so distracted with worry about
this reporter and what he might find that I didnt use
what little time I did have well. But Logans 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 hed 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 Im
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. Ill come up with some new
ones by next month. Lets 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. Well be in uniform, she said.
And not just us. Everyone whos ever been an X-Man,
ever gone on a mission with us. There will be a
moment of silence near the end, and were all going to
stand up for it. Its a tribute to Charless
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. Its 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. Were hoping the air conditioning holds. If
not, were 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 werent 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
Or announce that youre not gonna have a new one.
Maybe. I really wish I could talk Ro into it.
Shes been second in command for a long time. Shes
the obvious choice. I sighed. But shes adamant
she wont take it on. She says shell sub for me any
time, but she doesnt want it as a full-time position.
Maybe shes afraid Ill 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. Youre the only one
other than Ro Id trust with the job. Youve got
more combat experience than any of us. Youve led
plenty of missions.
He shook his head. Not me. Im not a leader. Not
much of a follower, he added, with an ironic smile,
but Im not a tactician. Thats your strength, not
Well, do you have any ideas? If not Ro or you, who
can do it?
I dont think you should give it up.
I hate the idea of giving it up. But I cant do it
Thats right. You cant. But why give up what
youre best at? You are the Field Leader. Im not
big on following orders, but I follow yours. We all
do. Who else could get that unruly crowd all doing
what theyre told? You keep them alive and you get
the job done. Its your greatest gift, Cyclops. He
put his arms around me, held me close for a minute,
speaking in my ear. You dont have to try and *be*
him just cause hes dead. Do what youre best at.
Use the rest of us for what were 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 Im best at fighting and teaching the
kids how to fight. You just keep bringing them back
alive, Scott. Its what hed 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 Anjulis voice, as well. Id offered to bathe
them, and to do it in my room, since Ive got a big
tub and she was in Charless guest suite with just a
shower. She took me up on the offer of the bathroom
but said shed handle the bath. I was wishing Id
insisted, bien sur. I needed something to keep my
mind occupied and this book wasnt doing it. Ezra
and Hank are not only adorable together theyre
absorbing. You have to keep your wits about you with
those two. Theyre 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 thats what I needed
to keep my mind off of Adam.
He was here, I knew, although I hadnt seen him yet.
Anjuli said theyd 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, wed talk
about our future. Our future as co-parents, not as
lovers, in all likelihood. I was having a hard time
Not that it was certain. Id told him on the day of
Jean and Sashas wedding that I still wanted him. I
said that I hoped hed 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 Id
hurt him. With my complete forgiveness, for real this
time, for how hed hurt me. Hed said he wasnt ready
to make a decision yet.
It had been two months since that day, the last time
wed had sex, the last time wed touched. The last
time wed talked about the possibility of a future
Hed never told me that he *had* decided. But hed
been spending more and more time with Jake and wed
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. Wed spent the evening together Adam,
Anjuli and me the day wed heard of Professor Xs
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.
Hed offered good advice and said he was sure we could
work out the issues with Ezra. He was clearly willing
to be friends.
I didnt 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 Id asked him if we
were getting back together and hed 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 Id tell him it was too long, that he had
to decide. Too long, mon ami, Id say. Give up Jake
or make this separation permanent. And every day I
realized again that I couldnt face what I feared
would be the result of that ultimatum.
So, Id read very little of my book as I went over all
that for the millionth time. Anjulis 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? Its just like it happened before. Just like
Without the bubbles blocking my view, Hanks 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 robins 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 Hanks 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 Ezras head, making
them both giggle. As he did, I got a better look at
those bright blue legs, matching the bucket as if
theyd 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.
Its a two word utterance, Anjuli said, irony in her
voice. A milestone. We need to tell Dr. Cohen. We
didnt 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, Im sorry. Im just having trouble
adjusting. I didnt think Id be dealing with this so
I know. Its hard even later.
Yes, particularly when its a manifestation thats
Can I do anything?
Get Jean, she said to me. I dont know how long it
will last this time. I want her to see it.
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