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Take Him for All in All (What’s Past is Prologue 11/18)

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  • Mo
    “The professor would have loved this.” That’s what I decided I’d say about the service. I’d heard it in a movie once. This woman kind of sniffed,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2005
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      “The professor would have loved this.” That’s what I
      decided I’d say about the service. I’d heard it in a
      movie once. This woman kind of sniffed, sort of
      half-crying, and says to someone after the funeral,
      “He would have loved it.” Meaning the dead guy. It
      was a weird thing to say. I mean if he loved it, then
      he would have been at his own funeral. What does that
      mean? But it sounded kind of classy and I figured it
      was good to have a line ready, since Mr. Summers said
      I’d be meeting a lot of people at the reception
      afterwards. So that’s the one I decided on.

      The big surprise about the service was that *I* loved
      it. I was figuring the memorial service would be
      boring, but maybe the reception could be a little bit
      fun if everybody didn’t go around miserable through
      the whole thing. Everyone from the Outpost would be
      there. I’ve never been to the Outpost, but everybody
      at school talks about it. Jamie and a bunch of the
      others lived there during the war, so they know all
      the kids there. I thought it could be interesting to
      meet mutants from other places. So, I thought the
      reception could be okay but I sure wasn’t looking
      forward to hearing a couple of hours of people talking
      about Professor X.

      But it was fun! Who knew? The people who did talk
      about him told some interesting stories and some
      really funny ones, too. People laughed almost as much
      as they cried, and the crying didn’t feel all gloomy
      or anything. It felt appreciative, I guess. Yeah,
      that’s it. Maybe it comes from doing it a while after
      he died, but it wasn’t a downer or anything. It was
      “an appreciation,” just like it said in the program
      that Mr. Greenfield had written.

      I started feeling a little appreciative of Professor X
      myself, even, like maybe what I saw of him wasn’t all
      there was. It made me remember that only time Mr.
      Summers *ever* said something critical of the
      Professor to me. It was when I was complaining that
      he was trying to make me use my powers when I was
      still trying to learn how *not* to. He sighed and
      said he’d talk to the Professor. And then said,
      “You’re not seeing him at his best, RoseAnn.” No more
      than that, but I remembered it because it was so
      unlike him to say anything against Professor X. And
      now that I was hearing from people who’d known him for
      years, and stories about things he’d done with the
      X-Men or the kids, I was starting to feel like his
      best might have been really something to see.

      And then there was the music. Mr. Greenfield said at
      the reception that it was “standard New York Celebrity
      Funeral stuff,” but I’ve never been to a New York
      Celebrity Funeral so I didn’t know. Broadway stars
      and pop singers and gospel singers. Like it was some
      sort of *show* instead of a memorial service. And the
      lines of people outside the church waiting to get in
      seemed to think it was a show, too. It was great how
      we just walked up there and got ushered in without
      waiting. Still, we all got searched and had to go
      through metal detectors and that kind of shit, because
      there were lots of important people there, including
      the President!

      It was pretty funny to watch Logan give the security
      people a hard time when he set off the metal detector.
      “What do you have in your pockets?” the guy asked.
      And he answered by showing that it wasn’t anything in
      his pockets but in his hands – extending just the
      middle claw. I almost died laughing. What a stupid
      question, anyway. Like there’s any room to hide
      anything in these outfits!

      Yeah, that was another fun part. I got to wear an
      X-Men uniform just like the real team members. All of
      us kids who’ve been on missions did, and my fixing
      Cerebro counted as a mission, so that was good for
      something after all. And it was just so cool to be in
      the uniform and feel like a real X-Man. And then at
      the end when we all stood up and lots of people showed
      off their powers, with Jamie and Angel and Northstar
      all flying and Logan extending all his claws and
      holding his hands way up and Storm making lightning
      and thunder outside loud enough and bright enough that
      everyone saw and heard it and Iceman juggling icicles
      and Pyro juggling fireballs. Well, it sure made all
      the normals in that big church sit up and take notice.
      It made me feel like I was part of something big and
      important and I could see why people followed the
      Professor if that’s how he made them feel.

      So the service turned out to be fun when I thought it
      would be a total bore. And the reception was great,
      too. Mr. Summers introduced me to lots of people,
      including the President. And also to Guardian, who’s
      head of Alpha Flight and he said “Charles always spoke
      so highly of you, RoseAnn.” Which mostly made me feel
      good, but also a little shitty for all my bitchy
      thoughts about him. And Jamie introduced me to all
      the Outpost kids, and to alumni I didn’t know. “This
      is my girlfriend, RoseAnn,” he kept saying, and “I
      want you to meet my girlfriend.” And they all acted
      like they’d heard stuff – good stuff – about me before
      we even met.

      The reception felt like a real party, like a great big
      one with lots of people coming from all over. Almost
      like Dr. Grey’s wedding. Lots of people were running
      up to each other and hugging and all excited to see
      each other and smiling and laughing. And then they’d
      sort of get all serious and say “Oh, but I wish it was
      under happier circumstances” and then go back to
      laughing and joking and just being happy to see each
      other again. And there were all these little kids
      around, too, because the Outpost has babies and little
      kids and not just teenagers and also Dr. Radavan’s
      Hank was there and Mr. Greenfield’s Ezra. I’ve
      babysat for them both before and they are beyond cute
      together. They’re even adorable when they’re
      fighting. They were each going “Mine!” about the one
      cookie with green icing on a plate of all yellow ones
      and just seeing who could say it louder. But then
      Ezra found another one so that stopped before they got
      mad for real.

      It just felt like one big family party or something.
      And I was part of it. Not bad, especially considering
      the last time I was hanging out on the Upper West Side
      it was when I was turning tricks in Riverside Park,
      not spending my time in a great big church. So, I did
      get to say “the Professor would have loved this.” And
      every time I did, whoever I said it to nodded and
      smiled, so I think it was a good thing. I don’t know
      if he would have liked it at all, really, but I had a
      great time.

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

      “Charles would have hated this.” Jean said it to me
      about mid-way. After the first speeches and during
      the much-too-glitzy-for-Charles entertainment. We
      were sitting next to each other, in the front row,
      Logan to my left and Sasha to her right. She touched
      my arm to get my attention, then said it in my brain.

      “This was your idea,” I thought back.

      She smiled, showing she wasn’t complaining about it.
      And we both thought together, minds touching, about
      how he’d always avoided this kind of
      self-aggrandizement when he was alive. Charles Xavier
      wanted to make things happen his way, wanted the world
      to move in a direction of safety and tolerance. But
      he didn’t want to be in the spotlight. Always the man
      behind the curtain, never the public face. Still, we
      weren’t doing this for him.

      And mostly I think it really was accomplishing what
      we’d wanted it to. Waiting a while helped, let people
      work through some of the initial shock and opened them
      up to a service that was less mourning and more
      appreciation. Sure, some of it was just too trendy
      and too New York for words, but even then the words
      were good ones. Adam had done a wonderful job of
      summarizing Charles’s life and his life work in the
      program, as I knew he would. The speeches had been
      enjoyable, alternately moving and funny. The music
      was certainly professional, if not exactly what
      Charles would have chosen. Well, we’d done the
      traditional hymns at the private funeral. That was
      for him. This was for the crowd.

      And what a crowd it was. Movers and shakers from all
      sorts of venues where Charles had an influence:
      government, industry, education. The President
      himself was there and dignitaries from a number of
      foreign countries. Plus all of Alpha Flight, the
      entire Outpost community, and almost everyone who’d
      ever attended Xavier’s or been affiliated with us in
      any way. It seemed like every known mutant in the
      Western Hemisphere was right there in Riverside
      Church, with the exception of the members of Magneto’s
      Brotherhood. And sitting right there with non-mutants
      – those who knew Charles, those who’d been helped by
      him (a whole section of pews had been cleared to
      accommodate wheelchairs) and those who were just
      curious. With plenty more curiosity seekers outside
      because even that huge space was not big enough for
      everyone who wanted to attend. It was inspiring. My
      mind said to Jean’s, “He might be rolling over in his
      grave, but I’m glad we did it. It’s an important
      statement we’re making. Thanks for persuading me to
      do this.” She squeezed my hand.

      But near the end I started to have second thoughts on
      the wisdom of it, or at least on the wisdom of the
      X-Men being so visible. We’d wanted to impress the
      crowd, to show we were numerous and powerful and could
      be counted on. That’s why we were all easily
      identifiable in uniform, even those who could pass as
      normal. That’s why we all stood up and those who
      could demonstrate their powers easily did. Yes, we
      wanted to impress.

      But what kind of impression were we making? There was
      a kind of low rumble of people murmuring to one
      another. Logan, whose claws had been extended and
      held high, retracted them and leaned over to whisper
      in my ear. “There’s more fear in this room than on a
      plane about to crash,” he said. “I can smell it.”
      And I started to wonder if impressing the crowd had
      been such a good idea after all.

      ********************************************
      I shouldn’t have reacted. I should have just kept
      walking and ignored her. But the reception had been
      such fun and I was having such a good time and I just
      wasn’t on guard like I should have been. Jamie’s arm
      was around my shoulders and he was whispering in my
      ear as we walked out of the church. I wasn’t even
      thinking. I heard “Tawny!” and I turned around.

      Nobody had called me that for months. I didn’t expect
      anyone ever would again. I’d been feeling like I was
      RoseAnn and like maybe someday I’d have an X-Men code
      name, too, but I’d never be Tawny. But as soon as I
      heard it I turned. Well, that’s what you do when you
      hear someone call your name and I guess in part of my
      brain that was still my real name.

      It was Crystal, and she was all excited to see me.
      One of the people outside the church who never made it
      in, she came bounding up to me in black high-heeled
      boots and a tiny retro black and white check
      mini-dress – all 6’2” of her. Reached down to hug me
      so hard I thought something would break! And she
      said, “Tawny! Where you been, girl? We’ve all missed
      you so much. And Nick has been going crazy looking
      for you.” Shit. Why did I have to look her way? Why
      did this have to happen? With Jamie right there.

      *****************************************
      Just as we were leaving the church, Adam Greenfield
      came over to me with a man I didn’t know. I’d seen
      him with Northstar and then with Adam at the
      reception. I’d wondered briefly who he was.
      Jean-Paul had appeared to be introducing him to Adam.
      Now Adam wanted to introduce him to me. “I’d like you
      to meet Rick Kapell,” he said, and we shook hands.
      Before I could say anything else, Adam added, “I’ve
      already reiterated with Rick that you are not
      available for interviews. I just thought you ought to
      know who he is, since he already knows who you are.”

      Logan was standing beside me and his claws came out as
      soon as Adam offered Kapell’s name. “Beautiful
      service,” Kapell said, his eyes on Logan although the
      comment seemed to be addressed to me.

      “Thank you,” I’d answered, and excused myself. I
      wondered what Kapell would say about the service,
      particularly the X-Men demonstration, in tomorrow’s
      paper.




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




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