Title: The Saint's Eyes|
Author: Shana Nolan
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Summary: A "blind" girl is taken in by our heroes.
Spoilers: the movie (but I'm a comics grrl too). I'm also assuming J/S are engaged, not married, at this point.
Genre: drama, angst
Disclaimer: Fox and Marvel Entertainment Group have the X-Men and their movie. Stan Lee, I worship at your feet. I don't own anyone and I don't intend to sell this. no money, no sue, no powers. but my CB handle was Phoenix (great, date yourself, why don't you). AND: I own nuthin' regardin' Russell Crowe, Val Kilmer or The Faculty (that ref is obscure, at least *eg*)
Archive: myself, Melissa's, X-Grrls, x-menmoviefanfic, Diebin's fic closet, others ask
Comments: are welcome. Flames, however, are only accepted from a mutant named Pyro and even he knows better.
Someone once told me the world is full of colours, bright and dark shadows that delight us and inspire us to ideas loftier than what we learn in school.
Up until my fourteenth birthday, I would have believed them.
I hate my life. I didn't choose this, I didn't ask for this. I used to ride horses and play soccer every Saturday, and within a week I was out of school, taught by lousy tutors, and my parents were going "You'll bump into that" every other second.
I hate being blind and I hate that I can still see. By myself, it's darkness. Black, unrelenting, oppressive black. Unless I touch someone, and then it's their eyes. What they see, where they look, how often they blink, the colours they see-- I see that.
I don't have a choice. It just happens. Dad won't say it, but I'm a mutant. Mom is freaked. Every day that passes, now that I can use dad's eyes if he's in the room, I see her looks, the disappointment, the way she avoids me when she can, the fear if someone asks about me, the way that she lies about why I left school.
I know I'm supposed to love her, but all I can feel is this well of hatred forming for her. She doesn't understand, and I don't think she wants to.
I'm alone in this world now and I'm not even old enough to vote or drink. I may as well throw out my driver's license, not like I'll need it.
I really wish I could read. I miss my weekly Dressage lessons. I want to be able to dress myself without mismatching my clothes, or bathe without asking for help. Through my brother's eyes the sunset is wicked pretty, and he takes me to the movies so I can still follow my favourite actors, but it's not the same. It'll never be the same again.
Is a normal life just too much to ask for?
"What's her name?"
Charles Xavier, pulling a thick file off his desk, gave the woman standing next to him a curious glance. Since the mention of this potential student, Jean Grey had been pestering him for more information, anxious to hear more about the nature of the girl's mutation. "Lucy McNeil. Nineteen, lives in Searsport, Maine with her parents and elder brother; she was taken out of school when she was fourteen."
"When she went blind."
"Yes, Jean, exactly. The doctor's reports are inconclusive, and it looks like the bloodwork results were sealed. If this girl is a mutant, it appears that her family did their best to hide it."
Taking the file and scanning the medical report, Jean sighed. "Says here that they suggested a psychiatrist. That the blindness and a sudden hysteria over being touched by anyone was caused by a trauma, and could be treated."
"Rogue could be of some help with her."
"Yes, but I don't like what I see, Professor. Since Lucy has been out of school, she's lost weight, and has been in and out of the hospital for very treatable conditions. Injuries--"
"She couldn't see where she was going."
"And cases of pneumonia, sinus infections, even some food poisoning. She not only needs a haven, but a good doctor."
Xavier nodded and looked up into the concerned gaze of his former student. "Yes, she does. So many children come to this school devoid of care and comfort, and it's getting worse every year."
"No thanks to Senator Kelly and his brethren."
Tapping the desk with a finger, he didn't show his agreement. It was inappropriate at the moment, and they had more important issues than debating the state of American politics. "Book a flight to Maine for you and Scott. We need to give this girl's parents as comforting image as we can, and I fear that if they were to see that the school their child is being taken to is run by a man in a wheelchair, their fears will ferment."
Jean looked away. To her, the wheelchair was more normal than the Professor walking, but it was moments like these that reminded her that she was in the minority...
In more ways than one.
"Alright, but I wish you would go with us."
Xavier smiled and tapped a temple. "I will be, just not physically."
Jean returned the smile and nodded. "If you'll excuse me?"
"By all means."
Tucking the medical records under her arm and pushing open the doors with her mind, Jean let her thoughts wander, trying to get past the initial stir of disgust over any parent who would let their child be that sick. A child was sacred, to be cherished, adored, given the chance to discover the world and become a part of it, not a reclusive victim of those who thought the world was theirs to dominate.
Raising her head, Rogue and the student named Bobby walking by her, she swallowed and gave them a nod. "Is there anything you need?"
"No, I was just goin' to ask you the same," Rogue fidgeted in place. Had she been wrong in reading the older woman's expression?
"I'll be in Maine for a few days, retrieving a new student. I'd like you to show her around once she arrives, if you could."
"But--" Looking to the boy next to her, Rogue held out her gloved hands.
Bobby shrugged at her.
"She's got some kind of phobia about touching people; we thought that you could help her. You're uniquely qualified to show support without coddling her."
"I'm just asking you to be friend that's her own age. As far as I can tell," she indicated the file under her arm, "she hasn't had a real friend in a few years."
"I know wha' that's like."
"Exactly. Scott and I will be back in about a week. I'll make sure you aren't too busy with assignments, if that's fine by you."
A look of envy touched Bobby's ice blue eyes.
"Alright, but this seems kinda weird."
Jean nodded. "Around here, weird is more common than normal. I'll see you two later."
Watching the redhead walk towards the elevator leading to the clinic, Rogue sighed and fingered the lock of white hair falling down the side of her face. How long had it been since she had come here? How long had she had this shock of white in her formerly solid brown hair? It couldn't be as long as it seemed, being accepted for who she was, her powers less of a curse here than it was back home.
And then again, here she covered her arms and hands and no one asked why. They understood that it related to her gift, and not like she was some freak with something to hide.
"What are you thinking?"
Bobby's question brought her back. Shrugging, slipping the scarf back up by her neck, she smiled. "About the homework I get to skip out on."
Her accent drawling the "I," she pursed a lip. "I hope so."
"So this is Maine."
"That's what the airport sign said."
Jean Grey sighed and leaned back in the passenger seat, adjusting the air conditioner. Ignoring the rough condition of the road, absently listening to the radio as she tuned it with a telekinetic finger, she caught the sharp exhalation from the driver's seat. "Problem?"
"Other than not being able to just fly here with the jet, not really," Scott groused, shaking his head, the curves of the road becoming monotonous. Too much more and they'd be taking a break... were there any decent places to stop. "How about some music?"
"Working on it."
With the whining blare of a harmonica, both members of the X-Men nearly jumped out of their seats. Forgoing the telekinesis and switching off the radio with her hand, she ignored the impending comment.
"Maybe we should have brought a tape to listen to."
"You would think there'd be more stations here, not just that country one."
"I'm beginning to doubt it. Tell me about this girl."
Reaching back for the file, Jean leafed through the top pages. "The professor knows very little about her powers, but she's been blind since age fourteen. Very sick since, likely very reclusive and there's that phobia about touching people..."
"This sounds familiar."
"I noticed that too. I'm hoping Rogue will be-friend her."
"So she's blind?"
She set the files back down and stretched her cramping legs. "It's related to her mutant power, I'm certain, but it may be impossible to guess why until we separate her from her parents. I talked to the headmaster of her old school and was sternly warned that her mother is one of the most difficult women in Searsport and her father--"
Scott turned his head as his fiancée trailed off her last sentence. "What?"
"They suspected him of abuse. I guess we won't know for sure until she's back at the school."
He growled and returned his attention to the road. "Oh, look, here we are. Get out the directions, would you Jean?"
The house was a Victorian, white with light green gables, the roof pointing up into the sky, the little round window in the attic covered with some kind of bright beaded curtain. The porch surrounding the front door and bay window was decked with a few wicker chairs and some tables, an old broom leaned upside down by a railing. Surrounded by burly deep green bushes, the property seemed to extend back at least an acre, the picket fence winding its way past an old tree and a few pieces of rusted playground equipment.
Cutting the engine to the rental car and stepping out, Scott Summers glanced around, the quiet of the place strange. The sky was hazy, the clouds hanging in the sky with no purpose other than casting dismal light over the area, the wind heavy with the smell of seaweed and salt. No one was walking on the street, no neighbours chatted, no children were playing. In the distance somewhere a foghorn blended with the cry of a seagull.
This was not a good omen for them.
Slipping on her jacket, Jean sighed and prepared herself for the worst. Circling the car and slipping an arm around Scott's waist, she put on her professional smile. "Come on, let's get this done."
"Let me change out to the other glasses first, then we'll go in."
"Oh." She wrinkled her nose. They were in pure Homo Sapien territory here, no longer permitted to remain unknown to the strangers around them. The visor that covered not only Scott's eyes, but much of his forehead and ears was out of place here assuredly, the need for it hopefully negated by the semi-peaceful atmosphere of the little town. There were no actual physical battles to fight here; only those of the mind and heart.
Returning to her side with a kiss on her cheek, he smiled thinly. "Now we can go."
She nodded and followed his lead, deciding that it was to their advantage to play up their relationship with these people. A happy couple speaking of a school with glowing achievements and supportive staff went over much better with the mundane than the other image they often presented: a telekinetic doctor and a occasionally stoic leader with deadly beam generators for eyes, both members of a group that hid behind anonymity and powerful technology.
Opening and holding the gate aloft for her to walk through, Jean shot him a look. Now he acts noble? The ruby quartz glasses, though showing more of his face, hid most of the expressions she was used to reading on others, but there was a glimmer of amusement, like he enjoyed the chance to act this way.
If only the reason they were here was a happier one. Alighting the steps with ease, she smoothed the front of her blouse and skirt and knocked, gathering her patience and politeness into a singular package.
The door opened with a creak. "Yes?"
She smiled and extended a hand. "I'm Doctor Jean Grey and this is my fiancé Scott Summers. I believe I talked to your husband on the phone?"
The woman, her salt and pepper hair pulled back into a tight bun, gave a slightly suspicious glance at the pair. "Ayuh. Come on in."
Scott nodded a thanks and set a hand on Jean's back, ignoring the look she gave him as he made them make their entrance together. "Come on. This is how normal people act."
She resisted the urge to hit him, instead plastering the friendly smile on her face as a man of about 50 and a early 20s boy, presumably her brother, stood when they entered the main room. The decor was a little unmatched and homely, the woman gesturing to a couch with an afghan on it.
"Please, sit. Can I get you something to drink?"
Scott shook his head, ignoring the antique fishing gear mounted on the wall. "No thank you."
"And you, ma'am?"
"No, but thank you for asking."
The woman shrugged and left the room, presumably heading for the kitchen. Leaning forward in the recliner, steepling his fingers, the man let out a long breath. "So you're the people from that school, right?"
Both of them nodded.
The man paused, clearly thinking about his next words. "I'm Richard McNeil, and this is my son Patrick. My wife, who I should apologise for ahead of time, is Margie. She didn't want me to call you folks, but I didn't see us having any other choice."
Scott nodded sympathetically. "It was a difficult decision, but your daughter will be very well taken care of at the school. She'll make friends there, I'm sure."
Patrick's face was scrunched up in worry. "Will someone take her to the movies?"
"And shopping, I'm sure," Jean soothed. Using her limited abilities, she extended her senses out to the two family members in the room, picking up on their outermost thoughts. "Do you have any questions for us?"
"Will you make my Lucy happy again?"
The mutants in the room exchanged glances, neither wanting to divulge the full story of what they could do for the girl. "Yes," Jean began, holding out her hands, "your daughter is special, Mr. McNeil, and we can help her deal with that. In a few years she'll be able to function like a normal person, or better."
"But she's blind, Miss Grey."
Scott beat her to the response. "Disabilities are not a burden, Mr. McNeil, not if you don't let them be that way."
"You aren't blind are you, Mr. Summers?"
"No, I can see. I just have... an extreme sun sensitivity."
"Ayuh, well, why don't you go see Lucy then. She hasn't said much, but I'm sure she'll be happy to see you."
Standing up, waiting for a visual clue from Scott, Jean nodded. "I'll go, if you don't mind. I'm sure there are other questions you'd like to ask Scott."
Ruby quartz hid the surrendered glare.
"So, Mr. Summers, tell me about your school."
Before I left school, I had this friend that told me about the Saints. They taught us about them in the Catholic school, but he always said they left the really good parts out of it, and would fill me in during lunch or sometimes after school as we walked home. He was really into it, got these really big books at the antique stores and poured through them every chance he had. I saw the shelf of them once. They were all lined up by size, the biggest one at the end his prize. That book contained illustrated plates. He was really proud of that book, and his parents wouldn't take it away because "it was better than him having pornography."
He told me once about the saint with my name, Lucy. How she was martyred as a virgin, even though she was branded a whore. They burned her alive, ran her through with a sword. I can't imagine what that'd be like, other than hurting a whole lot. Sometimes I wonder how long she could see her own blood, how long she could see the flames burn up her clothes, all before she passed out from the pain. I wonder how long she endured. I wonder if I can endure that long.
He also said Diocletian cut out her eyes. I guess that's why she's a patron saint for the blind.
Maybe that's why I have her name. Someone whispered to my mama when she was having me; something about what would happen... so she gave me the name of a girl who burned alive with a sword through her and no eyes.
Tells you a lot about my life, I guess.
"Are you comfortable back there?"
Ignoring the concerned voice of the woman doctor, Lucy curled tighter under her blue and black diamond comforter, trying to rest her head against the vibrating armrest of the passenger door. They had been in the car for twenty minutes, long enough, by her memory of the streets, to be nearly out of town. "Fine."
"Are you hungry?"
The man, his voice sounding a little stressed, sighed. "Well, if these directions are right, we should be to the inn in a few minutes. We could order room service if you want."
Lucy nodded a little. It was better than her mother's food, anyways "Which one?"
Jean looked up from the internet printed street map, casting a quick glance back to their new ward. The girl was very internalised, her mental walls impressive. "The Blue Lobster."
The girl laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"My uncle used to work there. He always said if you had money to burn, go there."
Jean and Scott exchanged looks. "Well," he started, braking at the four-way stop sign, "you can order whatever you like."
"Okay," she murmured, shifting under the comforter. She was so tired, all she wanted to do was sleep for a few hours, and maybe take a bath.
Jean nodded and rested back in the passenger's seat, clearing her thoughts. When she had gone into the girl's room, the decor painfully reminiscent of early teens rather than the blossoming young woman in the backseat, her heart had gone out to Lucy McNeil. Curled up in her bed much like she was now, she was pale and thin, her black hair sloppily braided, her clothes loose and worn for comfort. Her body was trying to grow, but there was a way the girl held herself, all those trips to the hospital taking their toll on her adulthood, her sightless green eyes mirroring the misery she had willingly endured for too long.
She had refused to touch Jean when she offered a hand, instead stepping carefully out of the bed and padding gingerly over to the white and pink dresser, responding to the "get packed" request with a stumbling grasp for an Adidas duffel bag and stuffing clothes she picked by touch. She had done all this alone, not saying a word to the doctor that had come for her, grabbing her comforter and stuffed rabbit as an afterthought, clutching the toy animal like a life raft, the ragged ears evidence of years of worrying.
"Lucy, do you need us to get you anything?"
"No," was the murmured response from under the comforter.
Jean shook her head and closed her eyes, listening absently to the car's engine. This wasn't the first time she had dealt with a difficult teen, but those experiences didn't make it any easier. Stretching her toes in the pumps, she missed when Scott noticed her posture.
"Nothing a warm bed and one of your shoulder rubs couldn't cure."
He smiled. "I could arrange that."
"Mm, good. I think I'll order a cheesecake when we get to the room."
"Whatever you like, dear."
Two heads turned to regard the head now peeking out from underneath the black and blue cover. "Yes. Would you like some too?"
There was a pause before Lucy nodded, the sour expression on her face breaking up with a flash of youthful exuberance. "Yes, please, Miss Grey."
"Call me Jean."
"Jean," she murmured, letting the sound roll over her tongue. No adult had ever given her permission to call them by a first name before. Maybe these two were different... "What's his name?"
Jean suppressed the giggle, the mirth affecting her voice. "Scott."
"Can I call him that?"
"Yes," Scott responded himself, giving into the warm smile worming its way onto his face.
Under the comforter, Lucy blinked at the darkness that made up her world. For the first time someone besides her brother was treating her with respect.
It was a nice feeling. It almost made the darkness bearable.
Signing the bill the young man handed him after rolling the food laden cart in, Scott winced. Lucy was right. The bed and breakfast, although beautiful and very well set up for its guest's comforts, was costing them a fortune.
The blonde boy nodded, his eyes widening at the generous tip he had just received. "Thank you sir. If there's anything you need, just ring the front desk."
Scott cleared his throat and nodded. "Of course."
Closing the door behind him, he shook his head and watched as Jean was checking the trays, handing a small plate with some pasta on it to Lucy, the girl perched at the end of a bed. Nearly touching the girl's hand as she handed over a fork, Jean caught the poorly restrained flinch. Studying the girl, the doctor inside her kicked in, concern darkening her stare.
Shifting a foot, he looked down at the floor.
Jean's eyes slid up to catch Scott watching them, the frown on his face betraying him.
He froze suddenly, a little embarrassed. "Sorry, was I projecting again?"
Crossing the room and flicking her wrist, the deadbolt on the door latching a second later, Jean nodded, her voice low. "Yes, you were; I'm worried too. I'm going to get showered and changed while she eats. I'd like her to consent to an examination but she's so..."
"Amongst other things. Scott, watch her for me? She probably won't let you help her, but don't let her injure herself, okay?"
The pleading in her voice was enough to make him agree to almost anything. She always did that to him. "She doesn't have a cane?"
"I didn't see one."
"Hmm. Alright then." Sliding a palm along her cheek and kissing her lightly, he smiled and stepped back, releasing the tender grip. True, they were away from the school and the responsibilities they bore there, but now he felt even more constrained to behave, their newly found student still unfamiliar with them, or anything they would be showing her in the next few days. But still...
"Can I get you anything, Lucy?"
Setting the fork down and licking her lips thoughtfully, she turned her head in his general direction. "A napkin?"
He smiled, grateful for something to distract his meandering thoughts. "Sure, coming right up."
"Mr. Sum-- Scott?"
Circling the bed, pulling a few napkins from the cart, he held them out in a hand near her hands. "Yes?"
"I heard my dad say something about your eyes... ?"
Scott shifted, wondering how best to broach the subject. This girl didn't know about mutants, not like he did, and the information would still be alien at this point, even frightening for her. "I can see, it's just... I have to wear special glasses or I can seriously hurt people."
"But you can see?"
"Only with the glasses on. Oh, I'm sorry, the napkins are next to your left hand."
She blinked and shifted her head, reaching tentative fingers toward him. Brushing a thumb over the rough fabric, she pushed her hand farther along, hesitating initially when she felt his warm skin. Not yet. She wouldn't be able to see though him yet, it took a few...
Sightless eyes widening, Lucy leapt back on the bed, scrambling for the headboard, the plate crashing to the floor and shattering.
Scott froze, dumbfounded. "Lucy?"
"You-- you-- I can't see though you... why?! All I see is the great red haze..."
All his skills as a leader, all his experience, failed him. Standing in place, helpless, he held out his hands. "Lucy... I'm not going to hurt you."
"No... it won't end... it..." Curling tight into a ball, she bumped her back against the headboard, letting out a little shriek.
His instincts were screaming at him to reach out and touch her, calm her, soothe her, but every step he took sent her skittering back more. "Lucy, it's okay, nothing's wrong."
Reaching hands out for something solid, she found the edge of the bed, pulling herself into a tight coil near the edge. "No, no! Don't touch me! Get away!"
Scott clenched his fists, helpless. He could hear the water in the bathroom suddenly shut off, Jean clearly now aware that something had gone wrong.
Now if only she could do what he apparently couldn't.
Slipping past the frustrated form of her fiancé, Jean paused less than a metre away from the huddled, crying form on the bed. Dropping to her knees, ignoring the water dripping down the shirt that she had hastily pulled on in the bathroom, she extended her hands out gingerly, opening her senses, trying to get past the walls the mental walls the girl had erected around herself.
"Lucy? Lucy, can you hear me? I just want to see if you're okay... Lucy? If you can hear me, nod."
There was a quick shake of the girl's head in between sobs.
Jean swallowed. This was what she was afraid of. "Now, Lucy, I need you to take a deep breath and tell me what happened. Are you in pain? Did something hurt you?"
"No. Eyes... can see... "
"Can see what?"
"Red, neverending red... so bright... "
Scott coughed behind them. Turning around to regard him, Jean watched him tap his glasses. "She was asking about this, and then she touched my hand."
She chewed her lip, the surface thoughts of the girl turbulent and confused. "Lucy, has this ever happened before?"
Lucy took a ragged breath, "Yes."
Uncurling a little, the teenager raised her head, trying to get a better idea of where Jean was. "I--I touch people and I can see through them. See what they see. He said he can see, but there's nothing but red... I don't... I want it to go away..."
Inching forward, Jean set her hands on the girl's shoulders, pulling her upright a little more. "Relax. I want you to take a deep breath and hold it as long as you can, exhaling it just as slowly. Now, when you touch someone, does it go away eventually, seeing through them?"
Lucy nodded, fresh tears trailing down her cheeks.
"Then I want to breathe deep and slowly until the red goes away. There are pillows right next to you, roll over a little bit and lay back... okay?"
She nodded again, grateful that the doctor hadn't touched her skin.
"And then I'll get your comforter so you can keep warm. I'm not leaving the room, so if you need me, just call."
Standing up with a sigh, easing her hands off the girl's thin shoulders, Jean paused to regard the worried face following her every move. Shrugging a little, she touched his chest, her fingers idly homing in on an area where she could feel his heartbeat. "It'll work out. It always does."
Scott frowned, not entirely convinced.
"And once she's settled in, you own me a shoulder rub."
The smile slipped across her lips as she pulled the comforter over the teenager's body, brushing away a stray lock of black from her forehead without thinking. "Of course."
The snarl in his throat caught as he knocked on the door in front of him. He had been back a few months now, the sting of constant snow on his face finally wearing off.
But now he was at the beck and call of Charles Xavier and the rest of the geeks at the school. Sure, they gave him respect, his solitude when he needed it and some companionship that wasn't completely annoying, but it all still occasionally left a bad taste in his mouth.
"Come in, Logan."
Setting his jaw, still unnerved that Xavier did that, Logan turned the knob and pushed the door open, peering around while he sniffed the air, a little surprised to find himself alone with the lauded professor. "Professor?"
Xavier smiled and rolled the wheelchair back a little behind the desk. "Come in, Logan; I was wondering if I could talk with you."
"Sure. Whatcha need?"
Picking up on the semi-good mood, the adamantium laced mutant before him rarely known for jubilant moods, Xavier tapped once on his desk. "I wanted to ask you about Rogue."
Spine stiffening in the seat, Logan narrowed his eyes. Of all the sore spots inside him, Rogue was one of them. He could endure popping the claws every time, take on snowy Canada without a shiver, beat half drunk goons to an unconscious state without a flicker of morals, but the girl named Marie made him think twice. Sure, he had his eyes elsewhere, but that elsewhere was someone else's territory: do not enter.
"What about her?"
Xavier cocked his head. "In a few days Scott and Jean will be bringing back a girl close to Rogue's age. I think there is a kinship that needs to be fostered between this girl and her, each of their gifts similar enough that they can learn from one another."
"So what does this have to do with me?"
"Of all of us here, you're her closest confidant. You have a rare understanding of what she goes through, Logan, and I would like that insight."
Logan ground his teeth, trying to evade a thoughtful conversation. "She doesn't like touching people, and for good reason."
The British warble broke a little with frustration. "And neither does Lucy, so in that they share a weakness. I do have a fairly good concept, but I need to know whether or not Rogue can handle this new responsibility... by your unique insight."
Leaning back in the chair, he caught himself looking around, almost as if distracting himself could stop the powerful telepath from catching his thoughts. Rogue. She was strong, she made herself that way, and she could probably handle anything... but she was still a girl. He had resisted taking back his dog tags upon his return because of the way she clutched to them when she thought he wasn't looking.
It was endearing... and mystifying all at once. But, of course, he had never claimed to understand women. "Honestly? She could use a friend she doesn't have to hide her hands from. She doesn't say much to me about it, but I can see it in her eyes."
"Her friendships here are not as strong as they should be."
Logan snorted. "No kidding."
Xavier cocked an eyebrow.
He shrugged. "If Rogue says yes, give it a shot."
"And do you think she will?"
"Now I really wish we had brought the jet."
Her head down, ignoring the stewardess as she squeezed down the airplane aisle, Jean Grey rubbed her temples, fighting the building headache. "It would have been easier."
"And faster," Scott continued to grouse, casting an annoyed glance towards the cockpit. If it were him flying, there wouldn't be any problems, but given the like of commercial airlines...
"Stop thinking so loud."
Scott Summers sighed and dropped his head back on the rest. It wasn't either of their faults that the plane was delayed after they had begun boarding, but between his irritation over the apparent incompetence in the airline and Jean being trapped in a large metal object with many all too open-minded people, they were both a few fuses short on patience.
Lucy, though, to her credit, was quiet as a mouse, sitting peaceably by the window with her seatbelt already on, a pair of headphones covering her ears. Her arms wrapped around the stuffed bunny on her lap, she was now wearing a pair of silver-tinted sunglasses over her eyes, her mouth relaxed into a surrendered expression.
Leaning over, Scott set a hand on Jean's shoulder, pulling her backwards a little, removing her arm from out of the aisle. Smoothing a lock of her red hair, he leaned her against his chest, murmuring into her ear, "Too many minds?"
She laughed darkly, "It'd be too much to ask these people to stop thinking, wouldn't it?"
"Remind me to ask the professor about blocking thoughts when we get home."
"And to take the jet from here on out for things like this."
Jean nodded shortly, trying a breathing exercise to stop the dull stab in her temples. The pain wasn't too bad, but coupled with the fact that she had been watching Lucy like a hawk since the girl had panicked in the hotel room; and now with the crowded plane playing at her better tuned senses, all she really wanted was a little quiet... and someone else to act like the responsible one.
Unfortunately, the only other person that could do that was trying to distract her and act like the leader he was trained to be. "Scott?"
"Did you get a chance to talk to the professor?"
Absently stroking her hair, he nodded. "Briefly. I mentioned your recommendation for a psychiatric evaluation, but he said it might do more harm than good. Once we get her settled in and up to her best health, he plans to introduce her to Rogue."
"He assures me that they'll help each, but I don't know. Both of them are so reclusive..."
Raising her head a bit, wincing at the whine of the airplane engines as they started to revv, she prompted, "And?"
"Logan might scare," he cocked his head towards Lucy, "her."
Jean sighed loudly. What was it with those two? "I doubt it. He's not the ass you try to make him out to be."
"And he won't hurt either of them, not if he can help it."
"So dump the testosterone and let things happen the way they will."
Scott snorted, dubious.
"I'm serious." Sitting up and rubbing her forehead absently, Jean shook her head. "You know as well as I do that I'm not going anywhere, so what's the problem?"
He refrained from commenting.
"Do you like him?"
The question was not entirely expected. "I won't betray you, if that's what you're asking."
Sitting up totally, she shot her supposedly confident and mature fiancé a disgusted look. "He's not unattractive, Scott, and I've taken a look at him, but it's not like I'm sneaking off in the middle of the night to cheat."
Scott sighed, feeling a little chagrined. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't doubt you."
"But you had to ask?"
"It's a guy thing?"
Resting her head back on the rest, calculating how much longer she would be stuck on the plane, she blew out a flustered breath and made a mental note to seek the company of women when they got home. "I realise that, but I don't like it."
He leaned his own head back, glaring at the airplane's ceiling, examining the different hues of red the glasses cast on it. "I'll work on getting along with Logan."
He grunted again. This getting along thing was going to take some work.
Sometimes I wonder if people realise I'm listening. I mean, I put on my headphones when I want to tune out the world, but I can still hear them, their voices sneaking in under the music no matter how loud I turn it up. Mom's I can hear through Prodigy or Trent Reznor, but my Uncle-- the one who treats me like I'm normal still-- I can't hear him over the first minute of my Enigma CD.
You'd think I would tune out the ones I don't want to hear.
But today, I can hear the plane. I can hear the mechanical clicks of a huge metal bird getting ready to cut through the air. I can hear the people walk by me and I have to wonder if they're looking at me with these glasses on and thinking "oh, there's a little blind girl."
And I can hear the pair of people talking next to me. Even after they serve the meal, I'm half-listening to these two and wondering why they would bother with me. I'm just one girl. I'm not that different, or really that special, not from what I've figured out about these two and the others they talk about. And yet they still seem to care about me.
I know they're different, different than my family and friends... maybe that's why. After touching Mr. Summ-- I mean, Scott, I sometimes think that red haze is still in my eyes, and it hurts. It's stronger than the blackness, and I can't get rid of it. I couldn't before. It finally faded, but if I move my head a little, I get this red blur and I feel the panic coming back.
I don't know how he can live with it. I guess he learned to adapt, like I did.
"So this is what New York smells like?"
In the driver's seat of the black Mercedes, Ororo Munroe cast a curious glance back at their new student. "Yes."
"Does the school smell like this?"
Jean bit back a smile, relaxing in the spacious back seat. She was quickly becoming used to the non-visual sensory observations Lucy was making, the trip through the airport a first time experience for the girl, and a slightly intimidating one at that.
"Not really, but there are lots of different scents on the grounds. You'll get your chance to discover them all," Scott said, absently scratching his neck where he had cut himself that morning while shaving. How ironic for him to slip with the razor now after years of flawless coordination and practice...
Ororo's voice cut through his reverie. "So how was your trip to Maine?"
"It's a pretty state, and the lobsters there really are superior."
Jean chuckled in the back seat.
"And it's rather expensive," he added grudgingly.
The white-haired woman made a sound of interest, and turned the steering wheel as they reached the driveway to the Salem Centre's gate. "We're home."
A sigh of relief escaped Jean's lips as Ororo stopped the car, rolled down her window and punched the gate key in.
"So now what?"
"What do you want to do, Lucy?"
"Can I go to my new room and take a nap and shower, and then I can get enrolled?"
There was a set of piqued looks exchanged from the first of Xavier's students. "Rest and a shower would be just fine, " Jean answered quickly, "but you're already enrolled, so it's mostly a matter of getting acquainted with everyone."
"Do I have to go to your infirmary thing?"
Nodding, ignoring the stray lock of red falling in her eyes, she nodded. "Yes. I'd like to perform a physical examination on you."
The girl's lips curled into surrendered acceptance. With luck, this doctor would be better than the ones who had told her parents that she was a danger to herself. "Okay, but I don't like needles."
Both people in the two front seats of the car made agreeing noises.
"They really aren't so bad."
Scott snorted derisively. "Matter of opin-- ow!"
Crossing her arms in the backseat, Jean smiled and summoned the pen back to her after jabbing it at her fiancé's arm. "You were saying?"
Ororo hid her laugh as best she could.
Nervous. He was actually feeling a little nervous, sitting there waiting with Rogue, scratching his hands like he did all the time, occasionally pressing a finger down hard enough to feel the tip of a claw.
"I don't think this is such a good idea."
"You can't back out now, kid." Gesturing at the office they were waiting in, Logan shoved down the instincts feeding him information. Here he was, sitting next to a slip of a girl, waiting with her like she'd asked him to, and he was getting restless.
As if it were him on the spot... which, in a way, it was. Chuck had asked him his opinion of Rogue and he had given it with a secure tone in his voice... not that his voice was ever any other way. But the truth was, as it seemed to him now as he nearly sat on one hand to keep from scratching at the other, was that he wasn't so sure about it. He could see the insecurity in her posture, her nervousness, her curiosity on why she had been singled out for this, and not someone else.
And he could smell the edge of fear on her-- that was what was getting to him. They were still a little entwined from those two times he had touched her flesh to flesh, giving him a taste of a mind still blessed with youth and that bitterness over her forced loneliness. Her longing to just reach out and hug someone, even in the gesture of friendship, made him want to howl at the moon like the beast people occasionally accused him of being, her urges and pain sticking to his mind like dried honey.
"This idea sounds pretty weird to me, too, but these guys won't set you up for anything you can't handle."
Her glance was hopeful. "I hope so, but," the drawl thickened a little, "how am I supposed to act? I'm not like them, Jean an' Scott an' Ororo."
"But you're you."
"Look, the professor told me that this girl has powers kinda like yours, and maybe you two could help each other. I think he could be right."
He shook his head and shoved down the urge to lay an arm across her shoulders, the collar of her shirt exposing just enough pale skin to cause trouble. It was tempting to risk fate again, but not then. "I wouldn't have come back if I didn't think so."
"Oh." Her eyes dropped to her lap and Rogue fiddled with her gloved hands, running satin against satin as she chewed a lip. "So I'm her guide or somethin'?"
"Or something." Keeping the babysitter comment to himself, he reached out and pulled her hands apart, stroking a covered palm with his fingers. "Now stop worrying so much, you're giving me a headache."
Her voice grew soft for a moment, temporarily forgetting why she was sitting in the office. "I can still feel you in my head."
"And it's your-- whatever it is that made me go out and eat chocolate when I was in Alberta."
Her eyes widening a little, she stared openly.
"It's true, don't look so shocked."
"I don't think it'll ever go away."
The door opening with a click, her expressed thought died on her lips. Ororo, pocketing the set of car keys, smiled to the two of them on the couch and nodded back to the rest of the entering party.
"We'll finish this talk later," Logan said under his breath quickly.
Rogue nodded, feeling nervous again.
Moving far slower than her usual, confident pace, Jean stepped in, holding her arm out a little, a thin, pale hand wrapped around it, the fingers tangling in the thin blue cotton of her shirt. Having convinced Lucy to let herself be guided through the unfamiliar territory, the girl had only relented, not wishing to repeat the experience of earlier, if she would not have to touch skin.
Something that Rogue immediately noticed. Her gaze intensifying with curiosity, she watched the red headed doctor move the girl to a chair, biding her time for the flood of questions that were teasing her mind. This was odd, they way the girl acted, it was like--
Like she was blind.
Smoothing her skirt, ignoring the dire urge to scrub every bit of airport from her body twofold, Jean cleared her throat. "Okay. I'd like to introduce our new student, Lucy McNeil. Lucy, there are four of us in the room with you. You've already met myself and Ororo, but the two on the couch across from you are Logan and Rogue."
Quirking her head, the silvery glasses covering most of her expression, Lucy didn't smile, but her lips relaxed a little. "Is she the one you talked about?"
Rogue blinked. How much did each of them know about the other?
"Hi," Rogue murmured, playing with her hands again. "Your name is Lucy?"
"Yes. You're from the south, aren't you?"
"I always wanted to go there."
Catching the wandering glance from Logan, his eyes darting back and forth between the girls, Jean shifted her feet. The only man in the room, he seemed intent on figuring out what was so different with the small creature sitting away from them, his posture mildly protective-- of Rogue, no doubt.
"Alright, now that we're here," Jean started, sitting on the edge of the desk, pushing a paperclip cup out of the way, "I can explain. All of us in this room are mutants. We're different from normal humans-- like your parents, Lucy-- and we have special abilities. You have a strong idea of Scott's already, Ororo can summon the weather, Logan here is a phenomenal healer, I can move things with my mind and Rogue... Rogue can draw someone's life out when she touches them."
Rogue lowered her eyes to her gloved hands. It wasn't an insult, pointing out her power, but it still proved to bother her.
"Yours, Lucy, we're not entirely sure about yet, but it relates to contact with others as well."
"I can see through people if I touch them."
Logan narrowed his eyes. It was an interesting concept, but...
"Which is why you refuse to touch people, as a whole."
...his suspicion disappeared, suddenly covered with a feeling he sometimes associated with Rogue: isolation. Neither of the younger women were out to harm people. They felt themselves cursed, not blessed, with powers.
The dark haired girl nodded. "I could only trust my brother. He let me see through him, and I liked that. He knew what I needed, wouldn't hurt me."
"I'm sure you'll find people here you can rely on as well," Jean assured, making a mental note to speak to the Professor about the girl, that maybe a more psychic connection could benefit her, feed her need for interaction in the outer world and yet not stir her fear of physical contact. "And in the meantime, you'll be staying with Rogue in her room. You and she are both limited, but only need to call for help if you need it."
Rogue raised her head, the white bang falling across her cheek. "But how can she walk around if I can't touch her?"
Apparently only the adults in the room had noticed how effectively each of the unlikely pair were covered with clothes, their lack of exposed flesh a sharp contrast to the knee high skirt of Jean's and Ororo's low necked shirt.
Logan quirked an eyebrow. "Between your gloves and her long sleeves, it ain't gonna be a concern."
Rogue locked a stare on him. He was for this? He wanted her to do this, to take on this girl? "I s'pose."
"So it's decided?" Jean prompted.
The silence in the room was deafening. Rogue, standing up, crossed the room carefully, stopping in front of the chair Lucy was sitting in, studying the girl. Leaning down, the shift of air causing Lucy to stir, her head cocking to the side as she listened, Rogue licked her lips and wrapped fabric cased fingers around the glasses, pulling them slowly off to expose the sightless eyes.
Flinching back, Lucy relaxed as Rogue murmured, "I've got gloves, I'm not hurtin' you." With a quick tucking back of thin black hair back behind ears, Rogue was surprised at the green eyes that couldn't meet her stare.
Picking up on Logan's stirring, Jean smiled a little. "Looks like this will work. Lucy, I'd like you to come to the infirmary with me, and then we'll take you to your and Rogue's room."
Logan shrugged, consenting even if his opinion didn't matter. Rogue seemed willing enough.
Desperately curious, the blackness taunting her wish to see what this other girl with the lilting southern accent looked like, Lucy nodded.
This was the start of something that would be better for her. It had to be.
Reading over her reports for a third time, a scowl darkening her face, Jean Grey bit back the rising ire over what she was reading. It was incredible and disgusting in the same breath to her, the test results the kind she had never hoped to see in a person, much less a child.
Sighing loudly and rubbing a hand over the back of her neck, she jumped when someone coughed behind her.
"Oh, it's you. I'm sorry Logan, I didn't hear you come in."
Crossing his arms, the mild interest glittering in his eyes, he looked over her body. The way the white coat hung off her shoulders and the shadows under here eyes were sure marks that she had been in the infirmary for a while without a break. "I wanted to check up on the new girl."
"What would you rather hear?"
He cocked an eyebrow.
Turning to face Logan completely, relieved to have someone in the lab with her, Jean leaned up against one of the tables. Her eyes were hard, like she was bottling the anger just below the surface.
Drawing a deep breath, knowing the Professor would be unhappy if she completely lost her temper, she spoke slowly and quietly. "Lucy is malnourished, dehydrated, it looks like she's been anemic for a long time--and untreated for it. She has bruises and scars on her body that are not only indicative of bumping into things and typical childhood injury, but possibly--"
Catching the word hanging in the air, Logan snarled a little. "Abuse?"
Jean nodded curtly. "There's no way to confirm it unless we ask her and investigate into her family life, but I think so. I gave her all the newer booster shots, Hepatitis B, MMR, so on, plus what vitamins I don't have to liberally shove down her throat every morning. I also put her on penicillin for about a week."
"Sure she should be hanging out with the other kids?"
Jean shrugged. "She knows her limits far better than the rest of us, and having fun is just what she needs for her mental health. Interaction."
"Friends." Logan said, not totally convinced. "You're expecting miracles."
Giving him a shrug, she pulled her hair out of the ponytail and stripped off the white coat. "You came back, didn't you?"
She did have a point, one he had been pondering himself. Even though he didn't ever "miss" the school, he had come back, promise to Rogue aside. "Something about this place."
Pulling a silver bracelet off a small table and slipping it on, Jean let the slight smile curl up her mouth a bit. "Why do you think so many of us stay around, Logan?"
"Free computer access?"
Shaking her head, gathering up the test results to take them back to her office. "It's a haven, and a reliable one at that. Girls like Rogue--Marie-- and Lucy would be in runaway shelters and hospitals if it weren't for us... but we can never find the all."
"The world ain't fair."
"And it never will be," she agreed, catching him watch her every move. Things hadn't changed much since the last time he was here, apparently. Slipping the coat over her arm and heading for the door, she intentionally walked close enough to brush an edge of skirt against his leg, watching him narrow his eyes suddenly. "So, do you think you can change the world, Wolverine?"
Watching her exit, his eyes dropping down to watch the sway of her hips, Logan shook his head. Stretching his neck absently, listening to the harsh bone and metal pops, he inhaled the scent of the clinic, the traces of Jean's perfume lingering in his nostrils over the reek of medical equipment.
Yeah, the world wasn't fair. But her anger was something he had never seen before, not like this. People like her didn't get mad over little things. He knew the urge to reach out and grapple someone's throat all too well; but possessed in the form of the usually unflappable Jean Grey, it made him think twice.
It also made him wonder what drew him back to this place.
"You've been here a while?"
Rogue nibbled at the bowl of popcorn sitting on her bed as she studied the word problem. "Yeah, they came an' got me when I was in Canada with Logan."
Lucy, laying back in her new bed, relaxed into the pillows, her damp hair feeling good, clean, on her skin. "He has such a different voice. Almost feral."
Rogue couldn't help but smile. "They call him Wolverine. He's got these claws, real long, they cut through everythin', includin' one of Lady Liberty's crown points."
"He must be really strong."
"Yeah, but he's real nice, too."
There was a pause, Lucy reaching a pale hand out for the mug of hot cocoa she was drinking. Touching the handle with her pinky, she circled her hand around and carefully sat back again with it, sipping.
Rogue blinked, suddenly enraptured, watching how easily the blind girl moved. Fluidly, delicately, but not carelessly... almost as if she could pass her hand through a wall like Kitty Pryde in one moment and hold objects in an impregnable grip the next. "What's it like?"
Taking a large drink and sitting up, feeling the nightstand with a free hand, the darker haired girl set down the mug and sighed. "I don't know how to explain it. I started having these headaches and double vision when I was fourteen, and I got to stay home and stuff, which was kinda cool, but one morning I woke up and it was all black. Nothing. I cut open my hand that morning trying to get to the hallway, and freaked when my brother touched me. First, 'cause I didn't know it was him, and then there was the flash of white, and then I could see myself, but not like a mirror... I saw my own eyes trying to lock on something... and I just started screaming."
Lucy continued, sitting up a little taller, her strength seemingly feeding off the memories. "I musta screamed until my parents got me to calm down and tell them why. They took me to the hospital for my eyes, also saying what I 'saw' was a delusion."
Rogue stirred on her own bed, causing the other to cock her head. "I was in the hospital for three days under evaluation. They tried to say I was faking my blindness, but I wasn't. Then they wouldn't stop touching my skin. I hated that. I kept on seeing through this nurse who would always check herself in the mirror, until I yelled at her that her hair was fine. They only touched me with gloves afterwards."
"You don't hurt them when they touch your skin?"
"No. Just their vision for as long as they're around me, like in the same room."
"Wish I had tha' choice," Rogue murmured.
"Sometimes I slip up and do it by accident, or don't have a choice and just deal with it, but I only ever trusted my brother. He would take me to the movies, and taught me to walk with him so I looked normal."
"An' he couldn't come."
"He's not like me, and dad never would have let him go. He needs someone to sympathise with when mom gets all riled up."
"Ah. I wish I had someone like that."
"I thought Logan was," Lucy said, her tone surprised. "He's older than me, and you, I think..."
"He's just a friend. A... good friend."
"What does he look like?"
"Kinda tall, short spiky dark hair an' a beard that goes up his cheeks. He's rough like those guys at the biker bars, but there's somethin' about him." Pausing to stir her cocoa, the last marshmallow still undissolved, Rogue added, "An' I've touched him. I almost killed him... twice."
"An' he saved my life both times."
Running a hand through her hair, Lucy's curious expression turned sad. "Have you ever touched anyone else?"
"I kissed a boy-- once."
Both girls remained quiet, one brooding, the other wondering desperately.
"But he almost died too. Tha's why I left."
"What's it like to kiss a boy?"
Lucy shook her head. "Mom wouldn't let me go out after I lost my sight."
"It's kinda-- well, I don' know. I liked it, but I can't compare it to anythin' else."
"Oh. Maybe Logan will make you touch him again and then you can compare."
A ghost of a smile crossed Rogue's face at the thought. "Maybe. I hope so. He's the only one that seems to get back up after I knock 'im down."
"Could be fun." A glimmer of life touched Lucy's sightless eyes. "And then you can tell me all about it."
Pushing a lock of white hair off her math book, Rogue nodded. "Sure. Sometime you should touch him an' make him look in a mirror so you can see what he looks like."
There was a flash of doubt. "Maybe."
Looking up from the book again, Rogue pursed a lip. They were alike after all, minus one difference: where she couldn't touch others, Lucy wouldn't.
If it weren't for the misery that self-created edict seemed to cause the other girl, Rogue would have been jealous.
Washing her face in the bathroom, Jean Grey jumped as a hand settled on her back.
"Whoah, it's just me."
Water trailing down her cheeks, Jean caught the reflection in the mirror and sighed. "Sorry, Scott."
"What's wrong? You've been a mess since this afternoon."
Grabbing a hand towel and drying off, she turned around to read the wrinkle of concern in his facial expression, knowing the eyes behind the glasses were rife with worry. "I'm just a little worked up over those tests I ran on Lucy today."
Following her back into their bedroom, Scott tried to not push. He knew better than to try her patience when she was like this. "Is something wrong with her?"
"It's all curable, but-- God, Scott, how could anyone let a child go that long without proper medical attention?"
"I don't know," was his somber reply.
"And if she really was abused, who knows what kind of emotional scars she has? Do we have any idea of what the last few years have been like for her?"
"No, but we can ask her."
"I'm not sure she would want to remember that."
Frowning, Scott sat on the edge of the bed near to where his fiancée was pacing, reaching out for a hand and clasping it hard until she stopped moving. "I'm sure the Professor can help her. You can heal her outer wounds, he can heal her inner ones."
Jean pursed her lip. "Maybe."
"No 'maybes.' That's an order."
"You're not in command here."
He shrugged. "I fly the jet, I coordinate the missions, I watch over all of you--"
She rolled her eyes.
"--And you know I hate to see you upset."
"So come here."
With a half nod, Jean circled around his legs and sat down on the bed. "So what should I do?"
"Relax now so you can sleep, otherwise you'll be stressed out and tired tomorrow." Releasing her hand, he stroked a finger along her cheek, smiling lightly.
"Will come as it always does."
"That it will."
Playing his hand over her exposed neck, Scott shook his head, listening to her sigh in response despite her resolved dark expression. She was so stubborn sometimes. "I'll get you to sleep, I promise."
With a single, arched eyebrow, Jean studied the face in front of her, surrendered to the soothing feel of his caress and told herself to worry tomorrow. The girl was well enough to sleep in a real bed and go without supervision, and was well on her way to being a happy, healthy young woman.
Nevertheless, the anger still lingered in the back of her mind.
In his day, Professor Charles Xavier had seen many things, enduring many hardships himself, watching life test the limits of the people around him. Sometimes, life would crush the person with its unintentional cruelty; sometimes the person would emerge twice as strong, their ability to survive proved.
The girl before him, however, could go either way. She was sitting quietly in the chair across from his desk, her head cocked to the side, listening to the room's sounds. Her lips pursed, she had been sitting there in silence, waiting for him to make the first attempt at conversation.
"Lucy, could you tell me something about yourself?"
Shifting in the chair, studying his voice, she sighed. "I don't know what to tell you."
"Whatever you like," was his suggestive reply. "Is there something you've wanted to say to someone? Perhaps some kind of request?"
Running a hand over the arm of the chair, feeling the soft fabric shift against her skin, Lucy wondered what this man wanted to hear from her. She could tell he was different from the others, older, and maybe smarter. She wasn't sure what his gift was, but since she had been guided into the room and then left alone with him, she had noticed that there was a mechanical sound that coincided with the location of his voice around her. He also seemed to know exactly what she was thinking, along with her moods, shifting with them as they changed.
"I miss my brother."
"What is he like?" Xavier's voice was patient, smooth, coaxing the girl out of her reclusive shell.
"He's older than me, maybe a little taller. He always said that no matter how old we both got, he'd still be my big brother."
"What happened when you lost your sight?"
"He didn't freak, unlike everyone else. We used to go to the movies, and he would tell me about what he and his friends would do. One time, when he went driving, he let me go with him, and I touched him so I could see what he was doing. It was... neat."
"Did he defend you against your family?"
"At first, and then we both stopped. Mom and dad didn't want to accept the truth; I think mom learned to hate me, and after the first fight my brother and I both knew it didn't do any good to try to change her mind. So I ignored her and so did he."
The walls were easing around her mind as she paused, the memory of her sibling easing some of the deeply buried anxieties blocking her... but something was missing. "What was the argument about, Lucy?"
The girl's face screwed up, her eyes mimicking her internal search for his answer, the green irises dancing around despite the fact that they saw nothing. Playing with her hands, her fingers twining with each other, she shook her head slowly. "I don't know."
Leaning forward, steepling his fingers, Xavier partially closed his eyes and opened himself, sensing the edges of well closed emotions inside the young woman. Her mind was like a murky sea, rippled with both light and dark hues, her recent years of unending darkness mingled with the memories stolen by the sight of other's eyes. "Just... relax, and let the memories rise to the surface."
Lucy drew a long breath. "Mom was angry over something broken... I didn't mean to do it, but my hand slipped. I remember I cut my finger-- it was bleeding all over. I could feel the warmth slide over the rest of my hand and I was scared 'cause mom would freak out, so I tried to get to the bathroom."
"But you couldn't..." Xavier murmured, the events sliding into place in his own mind.
"My brother intercepted me, took me to the bathroom and washed off my hand. I watched him clean the wound-- it was really deep-- and saw the fear in my own eyes over messing up and then--"
Lucy froze as the door to Xavier's private office opened.
His attention having been largely focused on her, the Professor raised his head up quickly, the connection between him and the girl severed. His eyes flashed warning as he spotted the lean form of Scott Summers standing in the doorway.
Starting, clearly recognising his error, the former student dug for a quick response. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise-- I thought you'd be--"
Lucy stiffened visibly, her fear over being trapped with the red haze coming back at the sound of Scott's voice.
Xavier raised a hand, the tension mounting palpably in the room. "It's all right, Scott, but if you don't mind, I'll summon you when I'm finished here."
Suitably shamed, Scott lowered his head and nodded shortly, backing up. "My apologies." Closing the impressive doors behind him and pacing down the hallway a bit, he stopped and threw his back against a paneled wall. Banging his head against the hard surface, the impact jarring his ruby quartz glasses, the usually confident leader swore and berated himself for such a stupid mistake. How many years had he been here?
With a sigh and another vulgarity aimed mostly at the stars, he headed for the garage, intent on working some of the frustration out on axel grease and dead bugs.
The knock on the door, while hardly timid, was a subtle one, Logan determined not to make a big show of this somewhat uncharacteristic move of his.
But if neither of them answered the knock within a few minutes he would blow this plan off and just deal with it in his own way.
With a soft click the knob turned and Jean, still in her black and blue ensemble from earlier, smiled at him, her surprise unhidden. "Logan, is there something I can do for you?"
No longer able to dodge the half assed idea, he shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and resisted a long look at the redhead's body. "Is Scott around?"
Jean paused. "Yes, he is. Do you want to see him?"
Logan watched his chance to escape fade. "Yeah. I was wondering if I could to talk to him."
"Oh. Let me get him." Turning around and partially closing the door, but not before casting a second glance at the furry mutant, the redheaded doctor circled the bed and set a hand on the shoulder of her fiancé, waiting for the inevitable look of disbelief. "Scott, Logan wants to see you."
Closing the closet door and facing her, his mouth parted as if he were about to say something, his eyebrow arched. "Oh, really?"
Jean sighed. "He's not here to pick a fight."
He made a less than convinced sound. "You do realise that he and I don't exactly mesh, right?"
"Go for me, and try to have fun. At least this way I can clean the debris from your bike fetish off the shower and bathroom floor."
With a surrendered sigh and a grab for his clean jacket, Scott took a moment to kiss Jean, embracing her briefly in order to memorise the feel of her body against him, the sensation hopefully enough to last him through whatever the next few hours would hold. Then, with a parting look to her and a forced smile, he opened the door and met the partially relieved gaze of Logan.
"Let's walk, shall we?"
Logan shrugged. "Better yet, let's go to bar down the street."
There was a pause, but after the day he had had, a drink could be just what he needed. "Sure."
"The one good thing about Alberta," Logan began, the cigar in his hand creating smoke circles, "is that if you do get the shit kicked out of you, it's too cold to really notice."
"The short time we were there was enough for me."
There was a scoff. "Too much for ya, bub?"
"Hardly." Sipping at the beer, Scott made a less than enthused gesture. "But Omaha winters were bad enough. I'm happy here."
"What's in Nebraska?"
"Orphanage," he murmured under his breath. "Not that I was stuck there my whole life, but developing this there," he touched his red glasses, "made it rather memorable."
Staring at the bottom of his beer, tapping cigar ashes into the nearby ashtray, Logan grunted. Smug or otherwise, Cyclops was a little more scarred than he had thought at their first meeting. "Life ain't easy."
"Not for us anyways. So, what's so wrong that you and I have to talk over beers off the school grounds?"
"That girl. She's got everyone riled into coils around there."
The sound was an unsurprised one. "She nearly goes into hysterics if I walk into the same room with her."
"What's she got to fear from you?"
Scott took a swig from the longneck and once more pointed to the less obtrusive "sunglasses" covering his eyes. "She panicked in Maine after she touched me. I guess her power only let her see red rather than what I usually do."
"Which is?" Genuine interest, partially stimulated by imbibe, prodded at Logan.
"Nothing like normal, that's for sure. I can see most details, shadows, light and that; but I don't teach art for a good reason."
"All kinda reddish."
"Yeah. I'm assuming the ocean is still blue, right?"
Logan chuckled. "Guess you really do see the world through rose colored glasses, huh?"
Scott paused at the comment, thought about it and then started to laugh. "Pretty much. So, we know why she doesn't like me, what's your part of the problem?"
"She's got Rogue all worked up, and that damn Belle won't tell me why. I can see it in her eyes and it bugs the hell out of me since I've still got this dopey sense of responsibility to her stuck in my head."
"You like her."
"She's a good kid," Logan said, maybe a little too quickly. He shook his head and puffed at the cigar, watching his words carefully. "But she's a kid. Give her a couple years and I'll think about it, but for now, if she wants me to help her out, she's got it."
"And something about Lucy is bothering her."
"Yeah. I'm guessing it's something to do with that no-touching thing they both got. Rogue can't do it or she'll hurt people; but the new one doesn't touch anyone by choice, and I know that burns Rogue up."
"But Lucy's terrified to reach out to anyone."
Uncapping the fresh beer the bartender presented him and taking a first swig, the shorter of the pair nodded. "Yeah, well, Rogue does too, to a point, just not as bad. She gets these big scared eyes when she sees her power suckin' someone dry."
"You would know."
"Not that I mind saving her life, but it hurts like a bitch."
"Jean would agree."
Logan made a noise resembling an unhappy grunt. "Yeah."
"She, Jean, won't admit it-- I'm noticing a trend-- but since we brought Lucy back here, she's been wound tighter than a spring. She hides it well enough, greater mental talents and all, but it's wearing on her."
"It's not the girl's fault."
"I know that," Scott interjected, then made himself stop, listening to the argumentative tone slip into his voice. "But she's going to break soon and I'll be damned if I won't try to prevent it."
"You're hooked on her, Cyke."
"Tell me something I don't know. So, what about Rogue? Last time I saw her she and Lucy were talking with some of the other students in the courtyard."
"I think she likes the company in her new room, but it ain't going smooth. Could be fear, but it don't seem that way to me."
Scott shifted his gaze from his absent examination of the bar decorations, the ruby quartz glasses leveling on the other mutant. "Was it a mistake to put them together? They could learn a lot from each other, but that doesn't mean they should become reliant on one another. "
"You're saying Chuck could be wrong?"
His intrusion into Xavier's office came screaming back to him, self-punishment included. "Not necessarily. We were so anxious to pair two alike," he paused as he observed other bar patrons sitting within earshot of them, "students that we didn't consider that they may each need something different to better help them."
"Then split 'em up."
"And do more damage? Lucy seems to be trusting Rogue enough to go out and socialise with her. That's progress. The Professor wouldn't let us destroy that, not without warrant."
Logan sighed and stubbed out the cigar, trying to summon up nicer words. What he thought was one thing, but what he would say was another.
But both would be the truth at least. Whether or not he had personal issues with the other man drinking with him didn't matter. They were both trying to fix something, and team playing seemed the key to the solution in this case. "I can try and get Rogue to calm down, or tell me what's wrong."
"And I'll see what I can do to find someone that Lucy can trust like she did her brother. I'd offer myself... "
"But you've got leading to do and she don't trust you even with thirty feet between ya."
"Exactly," Scott said, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket. Setting a twenty on the bar, he shrugged when Logan gave him a strange stare. "Even if you and I rarely see eye to eye, we've got enough in common for one of us to buy the other drinks once in a while."
"So, next crisis you're buying. Thanks for the company." Slipping on his coat, Scott stood, put his wallet away and walked out the door of the bar, turning right when he reached the sidewalk.
Murmuring, "And there exits the great hero of the X-Men," Logan set an elbow on the bar and watched as the glasses clad mutant headed, still solid on his feet, back towards the school, his soul apparently soothed by their little chat. Forcing himself to admit that he felt a bit better about it too, if nothing else because he wasn't the only agony arms in the deal, Logan ran a hand over his neck, feeling the hair scrape against his palm. Rogue he could talk to, probably convince to do what was best for all, whatever the hell that was, and end some of this mess right off.
The rest of it... he'd just have to trust Cyke to do, which wasn't really a problem. The occasionally smug leader of the X-Geeks could live up to his nickname of "dickhead," but at least he was reliable. True, he held in his grip the love of a woman Logan could never have a shot at, his feelings be damned, but Scott Summers wasn't blind or stupid.
And, Logan realised to himself, if he ever saw different, he'd act on his instincts and gut anyone who would dare hurt Jean. One too many times he had held back, instead stalking out into a winter storm in a blind fury after some asshole with a buzz struck a woman for no reason other than to hit her.
Drumming fingers absently, he shrugged to himself, pulled a five dollar bill out of his jacket and added it to the twenty already sitting on the bar. Flagging down the bartender, he pointed at the stack of cash and then at an empty beer bottle. "One more."
He needed a little more time to mull over what he was going to do anyways.
Something has changed. I'm not sure what, but something feels different to me, and I'm not scared about it.
I talked to my brother on the phone yesterday, told him what had happened since I left and all about this school. He seemed happy for me. Dad misses me, or so my brother said, and my mom is apparently considering turning my room into a sewing area.
I wondered if she would do that. I figured it would hurt, but it doesn't. It's more like this empty sensation, cold and unforgiving; the place where I laid my head down to sleep every night for eighteen years has been suddenly turned into a desk for sewing fabric. And the thought of it is icy in my heart.
So now I'm left with what these people here are offering. I've considered asking if I can have my brother come here too-- he would love it-- but they tell me it's not a good idea. That being human like much of the rest of the world makes him too different from me; that he would be the outsider, misunderstood and hated by some because he unintentionally represents what many of us have been victimised by.
Maybe he could visit. I just want him to see that I'm happy, to know that I've actually smiled and laughed in the last week... and I can see a future for me. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but here I have hope, the potential to move beyond this... disability... that I never asked for.
And yet, there's still the fear. The fear of failure, and that neverending black. They tell me here that if I can come to accept it, my mutant "power" can let me see the world, even if it's through others' eyes.
But I don't know. At least with the nothingness, I know what to expect.
"They've been talkin' about you, I think."
Lucy raised her head, continuing to slide her thumb across the edges of the ring in her hand. "What have they said?"
"I don' know," Rogue responded, playing with the edge of her gloves, "but I caught Logan lookin' in on the group of us when we were watchin' TV. He was starin' at you until I caught him there."
"He was?" Moving the large ring from hand to hand, the cool metal tickling her palms, she hoped she wasn't in trouble. "Did he say anything to you?"
"No. He gave me this funny look an' then shrugged."
"Do you think something is wrong?"
Recalling the glint in Logan's eyes, the look indicating that he knew something that she didn't, she sighed, not bothering to hide the irritation. "I don' think so, but all the adults are actin' strange. I think Logan an' Scott were talkin' a few nights ago, but neither of them are sayin' anythin' to me."
"They won't send me home, will they?" Lucy winced, hearing the concern in her own voice.
"No, but somethin's goin' on." Rogue paused, biting her lip suddenly. Maybe she was assuming too much... "But I don' know. Hasn't Jean said anythin' when she comes an' checks on you?"
"No," the dark haired girl responded, cradling the ring before rolling it around again. "She gives me these pills and asks me how I feel, and then I come back here."
"Now. I counted the number of steps from the infirmary to this room, and I can tell it's ours because of your perfume."
Rogue blinked, surprised. "You can smell it?"
"It's soft, but I like it."
Waiting for a few moments, saying it in her head a few times before speaking, Lucy let the hesitation slip into her voice. "Why do you go by Rogue?"
"I... it's more like me than my real name. I don' feel like I'm 'Marie' anymore... if tha' makes any sense."
"I think so."
Rogue looked around the room, seeking something to help her explain what she had chosen for herself. "I wasn' the girl I used to be. Marie was my mama's daughter, but Rogue is me. I miss my mama, but I don' know if I can go back there again."
"It's not home anymore," Lucy murmured.
"Yeah." Observing the sudden silence, she played with the fingers of her arm length gloves, stroking the satin. "Do you like your name?"
"All the adults 'round here have two names, it seems. Sometimes us students talk about the names we could take if we became X-Men, choosin' secret identities tha' are like our powers."
"Really?" Her tone was suddenly intrigued.
"Bobby says his name's gonna be Iceman."
"What about Johnny?"
Rogue grinned. "Bobby says he should go by Firestarter, like the horror movie."
Lucy giggled. "You mean the book."
"By Stephen King, right?"
"Yeah. He's from Maine."
"Oh." Rolling one of her gloves down, Rogue studied the hems, the strings looking a little more abused of late. "So wha' would you go by? Your secret name an' all."
"I could never be like them."
Lucy made a face. "My power only lets me see through others, and I can't even control the person I see through. What could I do?"
The silence was heavy between them. "You could be like the Professor, savin' the world by goin' to the Senate and stuff, bein' a good representative for us mutants."
"Why doesn't he fight like the others?"
Rogue paused. "You don' know?"
"He's in a wheelchair."
Dropping the ring into her lap, Lucy's mouth fell a little open. "That's the sound that I hear around him, isn't it? One of those chairs with a motor?"
Leaning back in the bed, Lucy shook her head. Maybe she had been wrong. She never realised, or dared to consider that one of these people, these mutants determined to help the world, could be burdened by something like a disability. In her mind they were all heroes of the first degree, strong and brave, people to look up to...
And now she began to realise they were real. Real people, with real problems, and that determination to keep going.
The latter of which she didn't have; not in her mind anyways. "He can't walk?"
"I don' think so."
"That wheelchair must be depressing to him."
Rogue shook her head. "I don' think it is. None of the others seem to mind, and I guess it'd be more foreign to think of him as walkin' round."
Rogue stripped off her other glove and stared at her hands, her tan from a few years back gone, replaced with a milky pale hue. "A lot of us got disadvantages, but I guess it's a matter of workin' past them."
"But you hate your gloves."
"Yeah, I do. But I don' see how a white cane could be any worse than my gloves."
"I don't know if it is."
"But lookin' at how Professor Xavier lives, not lettin' that chair get him down, I guess he's a model to us in that."
"Do you think he'd let me touch him?"
"You want to?"
The darker haired girl pursed a lip. "Maybe. When he was in my head it didn't hurt, so seeing through him might be okay."
"You coul' ask him."
Rogue nodded, smiling. "Yeah. So what's your secret name goin' to be?"
Logan, slouched comfortably in a chair in one of the many lounges, took full advantage of the fact that there was no one else to object over his choice of television. Watching the latest Leafs game, the bottlecap in his one hand an idle distraction, he didn't bother to look up when he heard someone walk into the room and sit down in one of the nearby chairs.
Raising his eyes to meet the curious gaze of Ororo Munroe, he nodded. "Yeah. Fell behind in the playoffs, but as long as the blood is still bouncing I ain't missed much."
Ororo leaned back in the chair and focused on the television, strangely drawn towards the movement of the heavily padded men.
"So whatcha doing up here? The world all saved?"
She laughed and drew her gaze away from the sudden outbreak of fists and sticks. "Is it ever? Classes are done for the day, and I thought I'd find something to do. Relax, you know?"
"So you choose to watch ice hockey."
"It seems to be working for you." She gestured to his relaxed posture, his jeans covered legs flopped up on the coffee table.
"Yup." Sitting up a little, reaching into a pocket and withdrawing a cigar and a lighter, he gave the white haired woman a quick smile and lit the stogey, the puff of smoke curling up into the air. "So what's new and exciting in the world of heroes?"
She shrugged. "Nothing. I guess the Senate is trying to pass another one of those Mutant Registration bills, so the Professor and Jean are likely going to Washington again."
"Damn pricks won't be happy 'til they got us collared and locked down."
"Or dead," Ororo murmured morbidly.
Blowing out a puff of smoke, Logan growled. "What about the shape changer? You'd think she'd be hot to stop all that bullshit from the inside."
"Mystique? She doesn't have the exact goals we do, but thanks to her, Senator Kelly's voice is gone from that conservative camp."
"And is regularly doing her 'do I use the ladies or the men's room' impression."
Ororo laughed and adjusted the necklace around her neck. "I've wondered about that myself. But, seriously, it's an ongoing battle to even get equality at this point."
"Ain't going to be easy."
Her eyes drifted back to the hockey players on the TV screen, momentarily distracted. "That's why we're here, Logan."
"And you're all nuts to do it, but I respect ya for it."
Tapping the ashes into a nearby tray, Logan looked up towards the archway between the lounge and the hall, the sound of heels clicking on the floor catching his attention. The little smile touching his face, he waited for Jean Grey to be totally visible before he spoke. "Hey, Red."
Stopping midway, settling her feet a little apart, Jean smiled back. "You two having fun in there?"
"Oodles," was Logan's sarcastic reply. "So how's the blind kid?"
"Adjusting," Jean started, crossing her arms loosely over her chest. With a shrug to herself, she stepped inside the lounge. She wasn't in any real hurry anyways. "I need to check on a few final tests, but she's got a clean bill of health now. Otherwise, she's still a scared little girl."
Ororo pursed a lip. "Are she and Rogue not getting along?"
"Nah, they're good," Logan interjected, taking a drag off the cigar before continuing, "but Rogue can't exactly play guide dog. Got someone in mind that can help Lucy out, Jean?"
"Not really," the redhead admitted, "and thanks to our dearly beloved government I get to go to the capitol for a few days to argue with right wing bigots."
Ororo sighed and nodded. They were used to this process by now. "There are some students that would be glad to help, I'm sure."
Jean nodded. "Want to help me find them?"
The other woman smiled, recognising her accidental volunteering for the job. "Sure. I'll do that."
Putting out the cigar and looking at each of the women, both of them quite comfortable with each other, Logan leaned back in the couch and winced at the slap shot on the TV.
He grunted. "Hm?"
"Why don't you help a bit, too?"
"Could do that."
Ororo raised an eyebrow.
Jean waited, catching his lingering thought.
"Yeah, I'll help," Logan muttered, upping the volume on the TV.
Jean grinned and sauntered out of the room.
"Lucy, I need you to relax... don't try to resist anything, no one here will hurt you."
Her head bent down, the black hair covering her ears and most of her cheeks, the girl sighed and wondered if everyone felt this way when their mind was being touched-- invaded, really-- by another. "How?"
His eyes darting up to briefly meet Jean's, her role in the room observer and backup if he needed it, Charles Xavier inhaled silently, pressing a calming thought into Lucy McNeil's mind. "Breathe evenly and slowly, Lucy, and don't listen to any of the noises in the room. Everything that should matter right now is here," his thumb touched her temple, "right here."
Nodding a little, counting the seconds until her "power" would kick in, she tried to make her heart slow down, the beating of her blood too loud in her ears. Nervousness, it seemed, plagued her every time she allowed the Professor to do this to her. Like the first time, the sensation of being muffled by a blanket took her senses and she lurched, her hand muscles flying up to grasp the elder man's strong wrists.
Closing his eyes finally, the girl's grip tight, he waited a few moments before sinking into a deeper consciousness, opening his own senses to the internal world of the girl sitting across from him. "Can you feel this, Lucy?"
Her mouth screwing up in a frown, suddenly realising that she wasn't seeing with Xavier's physical eyes, but rather something more... psychological, she tried to find the words. "Is it supposed to tickle?"
The ghost of a smile touched his lips. "Sometimes. Now..."
Her eyes widening, feeling as if cold water had just drenched her from head to toe, Lucy's hands tightened as she instinctively jumped again. All of a sudden, despite the fact that Xavier's eyes were closed and she could see nothing through him, she felt as if her senses were wide open, taking in the whole world in a single gasp of breath. Through what she guessed was his mind and the apparent abilities behind it, she could envision the whole room in its every detail, and it almost hurt. Trying to shrink back, she felt his hands fall on her cheeks, solidifying the hold he had on her.
It was his voice, but it was if she was hearing it on two planes.
"Lucy, answer me."
"What do you see?"
He really had a gift for asking the hard questions, she mused to herself. "I'm not sure. Dancing light and colours, but I can see the room... is it really shifting around like this, kinda shaky?"
Catching the quiet sound from Jean in the corner, Xavier nodded. "When you can sense the energy, yes. It surges around all of us constantly, but many times we're too closed off to notice."
"Blind. It doesn't matter, not for this."
"I can feel it in my head, too."
His non-corporeal brushes along her mental walls became a little more insistent. Apparently her mutant gift was stronger than any of them had noticed, but it was locked away, despite his helping her. "Lucy, do you remember that argument that we were talking about last time?"
She nodded a little, growing almost comfortable with his hands on her face. "Yes."
"What happened after you cut your hand?"
"Mom came in... she was furious, like someone had killed the pet dog or something. My brother tossed the washcloth with my blood into the sink and stepped in front of me..."
Her voice trailed off, the last words strained. Jean sat up a little, the sudden turn of emotion in the girl like a warning beacon.
"What happened, Lucy?" Xavier prodded gently, exerting a little more control over the girl.
Swallowing, she heard her own voice go quiet. "My brother said that it wasn't my fault, and that mom should remember that-- and then mom yelled that it had to be someone's fault, and that if I was always going to be that careless with her property, I had no place in her house. He called her a bitch, and then she slapped him really hard."
"And you saw this all through his eyes."
"Yes. He watched her storm out of the bathroom and said-- said some really nasty things about her."
"And that if she ever touched me, he and I would run away and live on our own, no matter how hard it was."
The darker corners of her mind tried to slip away from his gentle probe. "Did she ever hurt you?"
Lucy hesitated visibly. "I don't know."
Xavier's voice hardened before he drew back some of his concentration. "Lucy, I'm going to remove my hands. I want you to sit back and relax-- try to get used to how the air vibrates, see how it feels when you focus on something specific."
The girl nodded, shaking her head when her hands fell away from his retreating wrists, the sound of his wheelchair distant in her ears.
Jean, standing up in the corner chair, nodded at his silent request and walked outside the office, waiting for Xavier to join her in the hall.
Letting the door latch between them and Lucy, he drew a breath. "Her abilities are more telepathic in nature than I first suspected."
"She has a lot of potential locked behind the mental walls and repressed memory."
"But," Jean's voice softened a bit, her concern obvious, "if this argument she's recalling with your help is just the beginning of an abuse pattern, should we really be pushing her to remember?"
"The pain there can be treated just like a physical wound, and if she can learn to deal with that, she has the potential to be more powerful."
"And she can come to control her mutant abilities once she has reign on her emotions."
Xavier smiled. "Precisely. You understand that process very well yourself."
"And with luck, if she learns control, she can be more self-reliant."
Tapping a finger on the armrest of his wheelchair, his eyes drifted back towards the office where Lucy was still sitting. "Have you found a student that can help her with normal routines until then?"
"Logan suggested, and I quote," her eyebrow quirked up, remembering the conversation from the previous day, "'the blue haired kid.'"
"Henry McCoy, I'm assuming."
She chuckled. "Yes. I've set up an evening where I can put him, Lucy, Rogue and a few of the other teenagers together to see how they interact. If it all works out, I'll set up a schedule for him so he can continue his studies and help her for at least part of the day."
Checking her watch, Jean indicated down the hall. "If you'll excuse me, I have to get some things taken care of before we leave for the Capitol."
Xavier caught the look in her eye, touched that the need to have his approval still coloured some of her actions around him. "Of course. If I need you, I'll notify you."
"Thank you, professor."
"I don' get it."
Logan sighed and pointed at the TV screen. "They slap the little black puck around until it goes into the net."
A gloved hand smacked his arm. "I gathered tha' much."
"And they try to beat each other... and beat each other up."
Rogue sighed and wiggled her toes. "Why?"
Snorting, Logan shook his head. They had been at this since she first wandered in and sat down next to him on the couch. "'Cause they can."
"This is much more violent than 'Mystery, Alaska.'"
Logan made a face. "Russell Crowe plays music, not hockey."
Rogue's eyes widened. "Like in a band?"
He groaned. "Yeah."
"And he sings?"
The rush of teenager enthusiasm boiled over into the room. "Yeah."
Logan slid down on the couch, stifling the ruder of his comments. "So, what's up, kid?"
"Oh, um," stopping her giggling fit when she spotted his reestablished stare at the TV, she waved a hand around. "Not too bad. I was thinkin' about Hank and whether or not he coul' help Lucy."
Logan winced as a defenseman was slammed into the boards. "And?"
"He's pretty cool."
"And he's also a space alien tha's goin' to take over the school."
"And I'm the space alien queen."
"Good for you, kid."
Rogue smacked his arm again. "Are you listenin'?"
"Sure. Space alien. As long as you don't object and she's happy."
"Yeah." Running a hand through her hair, she sighed. "And I thin' she needs a secret name like the rest of us."
"Define the rest of us, Rogue."
"Well, Bobby's fancyin' 'Iceman' and I got mine already. Jubes likes hers and Kitty is gonna go for somethin' evil if the boys don' stop goin' 'here kitty, kitty, kitty--'"
"So," he scratched his chin, "a name for her, huh?"
"You don't wanna hear my first idea."
"How 'bout 'Saint.'"
"Like the movie, kid?"
Rogue nodded a bit, loathe to admit her short lived Val Kilmer crush. "She told me 'bout that Saint Lucy thing, and I thin' it fits her."
Breaking away from the game, he caught the hesitant look in her eyes. She was really bucking for approval here. "Then tell her."
"I guess I should."
"Yeah. So explain that high stickin' thing again."
I'm beginning to realise that there could be hope for me. It's weird-- it feels like someone turned the lights on for me, and all of a sudden the shadows are chased away. And it's only been six months.
I guess time sometimes blesses us with fast passing when we try to take on a new life.
But I love it here. The people treat me like I'm an adult, and not a source of pity like I had almost gotten used to when I was younger. I heard Rogue and them talk about next month and some kind of plans about a party-- it hadn't occurred to me that they were referring to my birthday until Professor Xavier asked me if I thought being nineteen years old would feel different than eighteen.
I'm hoping it makes me feel braver. Kitty and Rogue are thinking of convincing one of the adults into letting them go to the Jersey shore for a day and see the ocean, and I want to go, thinking about it. It sounds like fun, and if I drag Hank along-- as if he'd need much convincing in the first place-- I can enjoy it for the sights too.
Hank is cool. I like him-- he's got a good sense of humour and he's so smart. He's taken it upon himself to teach me calculus so I can quiz him on his own studies, but I don't have the heart to tell him that his variables make no sense to me. I have the bare mechanics down, and I can almost write them so they're legible when he's around, but the formulas are too much.
I liked art before I went blind. Now, I stand to get obsessed with it. The colours are so entrancing, even when my power wears off and I'm laying in bed listening to Rogue sleep, I can see them. They dance in my mind and give me dreams of one day finding a trick to be able to see a little longer, a little further, a little clearer.
Or, as Bobby commented once, "the Saint wants to perform a miracle on herself."
Sounds good to me. Jean and the Professor seem to think there's more to what I can do, and despite the fact that they aren't telling me everything, I think I've beaten my own expectations.
Or the ones that my family had, and therefore passed onto me, anyways. My brother visited a few weeks ago, and thanks to Hank I saw the shocked look on his face. His thin little weak sister was healthy and vibrant, actually interacting with other people and for once, and this was the weirdest thing, he was the odd one out-- not me. For so many years I was the freak for being a mutant amongst humans, the weirdo in the family, and just a few weeks ago, it was my brother who stood out as the different one.
But unlike the humans who dare to condemn us for being ourselves, I won't make the mistake of calling them freaks or throwbacks. We're all what we are and we do the best we can.
That's what the Professor tells us.
He also tells me that I need to be careful with Scott. It's rather ironic, really, but once I found some semblance of myself, I started to fear him less. Well, it's the red thing. After having a chance to talk to him--with others present, including Xavier-- I'm stuck with this drive to better understand him, and one of those drives is to intentionally touch him and see if the red haze freaks me out when I'm expecting.
Neat idea, but reckless. I've had enough of the red haze to last me quite a few years. The effect itself is claustrophobic, but I like Scott, and he now tries to draw me out intentionally. I guess I'm a challenge to him.
And it's odd, considering the amount of time I spend with Logan and Rogue, who have that outsider perspective-- mostly Logan's though-- and then there's Hank who's halfway between a friend and a student.
I really do like it here.
He wants me to stay, the Professor. Someday teach, and maybe I can be one of the people that waits here for the others, the X-Men, to come back from missions, maybe help them out while they're out saving the world. If I keep working on my braille when Hank's not around and my other reading and writing when he is, they say I could be a good researcher, and help them find information.
And... I suppose I miss home. I suppose I should, anyways, but here is where I belong. My namesake went to the grave of Saint Agatha to ask for the healing of her mother. I came to Xavier's school to ask for the healing of myself.
Martyrdom hopefully set aside, I think I've got it.
Looking up from the book she had stolen out from underneath Hank McCoy's gaze, the dark haired girl smiled at Rogue, stifling the giggle over how the blue haired boy sized up her roommate and the clingy black shirt. He refused to admit his eyes wandered over the southern girl's body, but there was no hiding it from Lucy McNeil, aka Saint, and her powers. "What's up?"
Rogue held up two tickets. "You two goin' to the game with the rest of us or are ya goin' to study your youth away?"
Tapping a finger on the stack of calculus calling his name, Hank shrugged. "I'd like you to try and explain when I somehow manage, after a stellar semester, to fail an exam because of a slap shot."
Logan stepped in and looked over at the studying pair over Rogue's head. "One game ain't gonna ruin your GPA, bub."
Hank shook his head. "There are more important things to life than hockey."
Rogue snorted and smacked Logan on the arm with a gloved hand. "Hardly."
Elbowing the blue haired boy after catching his gaze wandering to his favourite female body part, in this case Rogue's black cased legs, Lucy then raised a hand out towards Logan's. "We'll go."
"Lucy, we need to finish--"
"The girl's spoken, Hank. Pack up your pocket protectors and calculators, you guys are done for the day."
Rogue smiled at the other girl. "If Henry can keep his eyes off the pretty girls in front of 'im, I'll point out that skunk Lindros and his actin' up."
Hank raised an eyebrow and closed the textbook sitting in front of him. "Never thought of you as a Flyers fan, Rogue."
The southern girl shrugged. "Coul' be worse choices."
His arm was smacked again by a gloved hand. "Le's go, Lucy. I got plans for you."
The darker haired girl stood, made her way across the room and nodded. "Better than sitting in a room alone with nothing but the dark to keep me company."
Both men made agreeing gestures, Logan ignoring the honeyed look Rogue gave him. Sure, now she started approving of his gestures "That's why we're dragging you off, kid. We're your sanity."
Lucy smiled and turned her head, seeing her own happy facial expression through Hank's eyes. Finally she was getting used to it. "And my friends. Now let's go before we hit traffic."