Looking for a New Connection
Written by Darkstorm5000
Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.
Chapter 13- The Queen is Dead
-Bayville Medical Center
With the summer vacation break only a few weeks away, a growing sense of excitement had been steadily working its way through the student body at Bayville High. For those students who also resided at the Xavier Institute, the prospect of getting to return home to see family and friends over this extended break for the first time in months was one that they very much anticipated. And was a joyous sentiment shared equally by some of their fellow housemates, who themselves may not necessarily have a 'home' to go back to, but were nonetheless looking forward to days spent lounging out in the sun poolside or involved in other equally non-vigorous activities.
Even for faculty-members, both at Bayville High and at the Xavier Institute, the expectation of having a bit more free-time to themselves to rest and recuperate from yet another trying school year was one that they too eagerly anticipated. None more so than one of Bayville High's teachers, for whom the end of the school year had brought with it a most unpleasant encounter.
"I think she's down this way."
For a small group of Emma Frost's students, their own current anxiety had taken on a greater and more far-reaching complexity in the form of concern for their teacher. Weeks after a severe attack that had left Miss Frost in very critical condition, they were just now being allowed the opportunity to visit with her. And, held the distinction of being her first students' to see her since her doctor cleared it, as these teenaged individuals now appeared in the doorway to her hospital room.
Even though some amongst their number had been keeping silent vigil over Miss Frost from afar, in the event that whatever was behind this should decide to return.
"Some fancy digs that they got you set up in here." Jubilee, who was the first to enter Miss Frost's room, was also the first to light-heartedly say as she looked all around said hospital room.
"I don't believe that I would describe my current accommodations quite that way. And, hello Jubilation." Miss Frost replied, doing so in that ever-present formal tone of hers, which all of her students had grown well-accustomed to by now.
As this small group of her students' entered her room one by one, Miss Frost struggled through her various injuries to re-fasten her robe for modesty's sake, and then to retrieve her eyeglasses from off of the nearby nightstand next to her bed.
"How...are you feeling?" Lynn Meikle, who was one of several non-mutants intermingled within this group, nervously inquired as all of Miss Frost's students surveyed her current physical state.
Despite the tremendous and life-threatening injuries that she had sustained, most of the bruising and swelling had by now subsided with only a few hints remaining on her body to mark the blunt-force trauma that had been inflicted upon her, the most prominent of those being a cast wrapped around her left arm.
"Better." Miss Frost first paused, then replied. The tone of this single-word response from her should have been something of an indication that, while her physical wounds were well on their way to fully healing, the indelible emotional scarring that she had experienced from this incident was another matter altogether.
"We just wanted to bring you a few things to help cheer you up while you're stuck in here." Paige Guthrie said next, as the principal organizer behind this visit presented an oversized get-well card to Miss Frost, which she had made sure had been signed by all of their classmates before bringing it with them.
"And, we thought you might like having these in here to keep you company too." Lorna Dane now told her teacher, as she and Clarice Ferguson took the arrangement of assorted white roses, tulips and other flowers that they had brought with them, and cleared a place for the transparent-green glass vase holding them on the small nightstand beside her bed.
"I started to bring you a couple of my favorite novels too, to help you pass the time. But I wasn't sure if you were into Johnny Burnes or not?" Angelica Jones happily remarked, referring to the rather risqué author of whom she had become an avid reader.
"The flowers and card are more than enough. And very thoughtful, thank you." Miss Frost told them all, momentarily returning a partial-smile as a sign of her appreciation.
"Mostly I...we, wanted you to know how much we've missed you."
Which, was perhaps the most poignant thing that had been said thus far to Miss Frost during her students' visit this evening. Probably, because it had been offered to her from the most unlikely of sources, Monet St. Croix. Who herself had been quietly standing to the rear of this group gathered in there this entire time, and who now had unwittingly let her guard down just enough that Miss Frost could psychically sense through Monet's mental barriers the swell of genuine emotion behind her sentiments.
"If you would all pardon my interrupting, but I believe that visiting hours will be coming to an end shortly. And I would like an opportunity to speak with Miss Frost for a moment before that time arrives." Another older, and substantially more masculine voice requested, as everyone looked over towards the door to now see Professor Charles Xavier sitting there.
"Sure, Professor. We can always come back to bug Miss Frost and wear-out our welcome another day." Jubilee, who by now had gone and taken a seat down on the right side of Miss Frost's sizable hospital bed and made herself comfortable smirkingly replied, as she got up to begin exiting the room with her fellow classmates.
And within just a few moments the hospital room had been cleared out, save for the patient to whom the room had been assigned and her concerned colleague.
"I am to assume, then, that your reason for coming here wasn't to offer to read to me selections from the trashy romance novel of my choice?" Emma now sarcastically posed, her tone quickly taking on a surprisingly more acrimonious resonance as she addressed the man now seated at her bedside, while her gaze had turned away and elevated back up towards the ceiling–mounted television once her students had departed.
"Fortunately, no." Charles replied with a smile and a bit of good-humored inflection thrown in, "I merely wanted to personally wish you a speedy-recovery."
"From one mind-reader to another, I somehow have a feeling that there's more to it than just that." Emma stated, gingerly repositioning herself in her hospital bed, so as to better face the man that she was now conversing with. Who himself responded with a smirking expression to confirm that she was correct in this last assumption of hers.
"Well, I also wanted to see if there were any additional details from the night of your attack that you could provide, to aid us in better identifying your assailant or assailants." Charles sank back a little in his wheelchair and then asked her.
"I'm sorry, but I've already told the police everything that I was able to recall." Emma replied. Which, hadn't been very much with regard to what had happened.
Just recollections of her coming home late that night, after having chaperoned the end of year semi-formal dance at Bayville High. Of her walking into her darkened house, and before she even had a chance to flip on a light switch, an instant searing pain that she felt after being hit from behind. Followed by the sensation of being tossed about and slammed around like a rag doll, before losing consciousness and waking up several days later here in the hospital.
"I understand. But, perhaps there is something that you've overlooked, some small piece of critical information. If you would allow me to--" Charles further postulated, but was quickly cutoff.
"Allow you, to what? Go traipsing about through my mind like some amateur, telepathic Sherlock Holmes on a search for clues to help solve the big mystery? I don't think so!" Emma strongly responded, as a swell of anger seemed to spring up and over her.
"It just seems highly unusual that a psychic of your caliber wouldn't have picked up the presence of your attacker, sensed that you were in danger and--" Charles was starting to say, his own mind running through several theories as to how this woman before him could have been caught so unawares, but was once again interrupted before he could finish.
"And...that I should have then been able to stop whoever, or whatever, that thing was with a mere thought, just like you? Before it put me through several walls of my home, then through a plate-glass window and left me for dead on my front lawn? I'm sorry Charles, but I'm not you or one of your damned X-Men!" Emma verbally spat back at him, with a rare display of raw emotion that Charles both heard and felt from her through his own formidable psychic defenses, "I thought that I had made myself quite clear with you on that point some time ago."
"Of course." Charles quickly and calmly told her, "And I certainly wasn't trying to imply that you were in any way responsible for what happened to you."
"No, I believe the blame for that can be laid solely at your feet!" Emma indignantly remarked as she sat up in her bed, her ice-blue eyes now locked dead-center onto his brown ones.
"I'm...afraid that I don't quite follow." Charles replied, a bit confused by her last comment.
"Tell me, have you ever considered that what you've been doing has only made things worse, not better?" Emma posed to him, then relaxed back into the cushioned surface behind her, "That by having your own personally-trained, mutant paramilitary strike-force running around, now out in public and without any real manner of official oversight, that you've actually helped feed into the very fear of mutants that you claim to want to eliminate?"
To which, Charles Xavier didn't immediately respond.
Instead, he silently sat there and earnestly took in these honest criticisms, having often pondered these very same arguments to himself in his own moments of quiet self-introspection and reassessment.
"When you first presented me with the idea of coming here to teach, to be able to do what I love and not have to hide the fact that I am a mutant while doing so, I welcomed it as an opportunity to make a real difference. Even, in the face of such opposition to my being here." Emma continued venting, albeit now a bit more calmly, saying aloud some of the things that had been on her mind for quite a while now, "But after everything that's happened, from the accusations of worried parents' concerned with the radical ideological rubbish that they assumed I must be filling their children's' heads with, to the constant subtle and not-so-subtle harassments, and now an attempt on my life that I can add to that rather stellar list, I've at last gotten their message loud and clear."
"And all I want to do now is gladly get as far away from this place as possible. As soon as possible."
Emma then turned away from Charles to face towards the window of her hospital room, closing her tired eyes and allowing this latest round of pain-killers being delivered to her intravenously to take effect. Leaving her visitor alone for a few brief moments with just his thoughts, his own feelings of possible culpability, and the consistent beeping of the vital-monitoring equipment in there to keep him company. Until, he too finally turned around and away to make his departure.
Nearly twenty-fours later, a solid black SUV with deeply-tinted windows unexpectedly entered the estate grounds of the Xavier Institute and slowly made its way up the winding driveway towards the front of the spacious central manor within. Rolling to a complete stop a few moments later, what Everett Thomas, Jamie Madrox, and Ray Crisp (all of whom had just happened to be outside when this vehicle arrived) noticed from afar was the golden shield-shaped logo emblazoned on the vehicle's side, which featured a red lion clenching a large broadsword in its powerful jaws.
Which to be more precise was the official coat of arms belonging to the Kinross family, the commanding symbol of a proud Scottish heritage that went back several generations.
Immediately recognizing what it was, and that its appearance here meant that students from the rival Kinross Academy were now quite literally at their front doorstep, these young mutants also known as Synch, Multiple, and Berzerker respectively, prepared to simultaneously confront these uninvited guests, as well as alert their Headmaster and fellow X-Men as to what was happening.
That was, until their own Headmaster himself appeared under the mansion's huge front double-doorway to greet these individuals, who were now exiting the large luxury vehicle parked in his driveway. And, was a strong allusion to the fact that these visitors' apparently weren't as 'uninvited' as had been previously thought.
Christopher Aaronson, Manuel de la Rocha, and Marie-Ange Colbert, the young mutants also known as Bedlam, Empath, and Tarot were the first to appear, each clad in matching green and red with yellow-trim uniforms that had the Kinross Academy logo positioned distinctively up on their upper left chest. They proceeded on into the mansion alongside their Headmistress, who herself was wearing a more formal light-gray jacket and skirtsuit, as Professor Xavier led the way towards his private study.
"So Charles, do you want to tell us what the devil this is all about? Or, were ye just sittin' there waitin' for us to read your mind?" Dr. Moira Kinross asked as soon as the doors to the study had been closed and went to take a seat directly across from where Professor Xavier was seated behind his desk.
As she spoke, two of her students' took up positions beside her, with Chris leaning back up against a nearby section of hardwood paneling off to her right-flank, and Manuel promptly taking a seat, invitation or not, to her left. Meanwhile, Marie-Ange was more than content to remain in the background, as the very soft-spoken French girl went over to stand in front of a large window that overlooked the Xavier estate, playing mindful observer to the gathering now in here. It was the first time that Professor Xavier and Dr. Kinross had met face-to-face in some time, the last time having been after a calamitous brawl that had broken out at the high school between the X-Men and the Fold.
"I asked you here because I wanted to discuss a most serious matter with you and your students', involving a malicious and mysterious incident that happened a few weeks ago." Professor Xavier was starting to say, when he suddenly received a very hostile response.
"It is just as I said! The only reason that he invited us here, was so that he could toss more false incriminations at us!" Manuel loudly replied, quickly jumping to the conclusion that he had come to earlier with his two peers during their journey over here.
Chiefly, that they were about to once again be accused by Professor Xavier of instigating or participating in some manner of local delinquency.
"Ach, there'll be no tossing of anything at any of ye while I'm here! Now, please show a little respect and allow our host to at least finish." Dr. Kinross looked over and told Manuel, doing so in a both stern, yet calming tone.
"Of course. My apologies, Baronesa." Manuel just as quickly settled back down and regretfully replied to his Headmistress, while she turned back to face Professor Xavier and gestured for him to continue.
"As you may or may not know, I had the opportunity to visit with Miss Frost yesterday. And while her recovery is coming along exceptionally, especially with all things considered, she did make mention of the possibility that she may not be returning to teach at Bayville High next year." Professor Xavier said, as he got right to the point of why he had requested this audience with these individuals from the Kinross Academy, "I realize how close many of you are with Miss Frost, and I have already spoken to my own students' about this prospect. And, have made very clear to them my desire to not have a repeat of what happened last year following the Matthews' trial, with emotions overriding good judgment."
"So, you're saying we should sit around and do nothing? Just sit back and take it, and wait until another one of us is made an example of? I don't believe it!" Chris now shook his head and cynically replied.
"Not at all. What I am wishing, is to avoid making a bad situation unnecessarily worse. By acting rashly and exacerbating the perception to the public of us as mutant vigilantes out for justice on our own terms." Professor Xavier explained, much as he had earlier that morning when confronted by similar questions from his own students on this very same subject, with a firm realization of just how much of a potential there was for things to escalate out of control.
"As if you've had absolutely nothing to do with putting that perception into the minds' of most folks?" Dr. Kinross indignantly replied to what she saw as a rather hypocritical statement coming from this man seated across the desk from her.
Moira had initially been very much supportive of her old friend, back when Charles first began talking with her in their younger days about his plans to start a school for 'gifted youngsters' (as was how he had originally referred to young mutants) all of those years ago. But as time passed her faith in him, and particularly with his methods, had waned. So much so, that she had decided to remain in Bayville after being contacted by her former colleague for her assistance in a joint effort to help the young woman named Rogue. It was a decision on Moira Kinross' part to take a more active role in the face of what she saw as tunnel-vision by Charles Xavier, with his focus on simply training an effective group of mutant soldiers overriding some of their other needs.
That, he would've waited so long to ask her for her help (which she immediately gave without any hesitation at all despite whatever falling out that the two may have had so long ago) and had allowed Rogue to suffer all of that time with being unable to touch another living soul was in her mind unconscionable. And with his more or less writing off of The Brotherhood and neglecting of other young mutants', who were less than 'ideal' for his saintly X-Men but just as much in need of guidance, was the main motivation behind her opening her Kinross Academy and intentionally bringing in these troubled teens to fill it.
"Face it. Sometimes, if you want any kind of justice, that's what you have to do. Go out and get it for yourself." Chris folded both of his arms in front of him and made his own assertion to both Dr. Kinross and Professor Xavier regarding his outlook on what was going on. And, unwittingly wound up having the last word on the subject.
"I believe all's been said that needs to be said, Charles." Dr. Kinross abruptly said, as she immediately stood up from her chair and gestured to her students' for them to prepare to leave, "You have my word that my students' won't do anything to make this situation worse."
Her own body language, however, was broadcasting the heavy irritation that she was feeling at the sheer pomposity of having been asked to come all of the way over here, just so she could listen to Charles go on about his 'desire' for her to remember to keep her trouble-making, juvenile delinquents in line.
"I trust then that you will also inform us if you do happen to find out anything else regarding what happened, Moira?" Professor Xavier assumptively inferred, sitting back with his elbows resting atop his desk and hands arched up together.
"You can be certain that any pertinent information that we come across will be passed along to the proper authorities. And, I trust that you and yuir X-Men will do the same accordingly." Dr. Kinross sardonically replied with one last parting shot delivered back at her old acquaintance, before turning her attention back to her own three young charges with her, as they all made their departure.
(Bonus story)- Shattered Dreams
In the subterranean levels buried far beneath the Xavier Institute lie a number of wondrous, hidden facilities utilized by its residents. And while the Danger Room, and as a direct result the uniform utility-room, were the two areas principally used by them on a regular basis, there was one other section of this underground labyrinth that also seemed to be in frequent use. Which was also for reasons usually associated with the Danger Room living up to its name, but for others that were sometimes unrelated.
"Here a little earlier than usual tonight?" Dr. Henry McCoy, one of the Xavier Institute's instructors and its de facto chief medical administrator commented, appropriately enough, from within this underground medi-lab when he saw its exterior doors slide open. And, had a fairly good idea as to who it was that was now entering.
"Has there been any change?" Professor Xavier queried, simply offering a nod in response to Hank's remark regarding the off-routine timing of his arrival this evening, while wheeling himself over to one of the beds in there.
Moving past this furry blue man dressed in a white labcoat to whom he had just spoken to, Professor Xavier continued on towards the hospital bed where David Haller was laying. Which was where his son had been for the last several months, ever since being left in a deep comatose state.
"As you know, the monitoring equipment down here records every one of his vital signs imaginable, continuously day and night. But unfortunately, there's been no discernible change." Hank replied, as he was using a handheld device to download said readouts into.
"And, no sign of my son trying to return to me." Charles sighed, as he bowed his head a little and proceeded to gently run a single hand over David's forehead. He then used his own formidable mutant telepathic powers to try to reach out to his son, entering David's mind in the hope that he would find something, anything, to give him at least the faintest spark of hope.
But it was to no avail, as Charles drew nothing but the equivalent of a blank page from his son's mind. Just as he had received every night before, ever since David had been brought to reside here at the Institute.
"Anything?" Hank looked up from his analysis charts and optimistically asked, recognizing the sort of psychic communion that Charles was having with his son. And, was hoping himself to hear a bit promising news for a change.
"No." Charles replied as he opened his eyes, the tremendous disappointment that he was feeling obvious from his expression, " Just as you said, things are the same as they were yesterday."
"Then, unto us tomorrow comes." Hank once again commented, this time as he came over to place a sympathetic paw on this distressed father's shoulder.
Hank then took his leave from the medi-lab, to allow the Professor some time to be alone with David. And, with the endless self-recriminations that he felt with regard to his son's current condition.
Professor Xavier had believed that after Jean Grey had managed to cast out the dominant Lucas persona from his son's mind during her epic showdown with his old nemesis known as the Shadow King, that David's own personality would have been automatically restored. But, just as life seemed to generally work for them, things hadn't quite turned out as expected.
Hank's working hypothesis from that point on had been that David's mind would eventually return, perhaps once he had had a chance to fully recover from his experience of being turned into a puppet of the Shadow King. Professor Xavier however was struggling to remain confident about that prognosis, and wondered if this was perhaps a sign of things to come? That this was to be the true cost of his dream, to be left waist-deep in those fallen friends and loved ones around him unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire of his fight for a better tomorrow?
With Emma Frost having become the latest in what was apparently a growing list of those winding up as unintended collateral in his struggle to help unite a world seemingly growing more and more fractured by the day, Professor Xavier's thoughts unexpectedly drifted off to other friends and loved ones, and to his relationships with them that had also suffered as a result of his life's work. Namely, with his brief marriage to David's mother Gabrielle, and with how their divorce had wound up having such a lasting and irrevocable impact on their son. But, he also thought about his strained friendship with Dr. Moira Kinross, if friendship was the word at this point that could even be used to describe their association with one another?
Although, he had been extremely surprised when Dr. Kinross suddenly appeared back here in Bayville, offering her help in finding a means to alleviate the problems that Rogue's mutant powers were causing her. And while it had been additional assistance that he, Hank, Forge, and Dr. Reed Richards were nonetheless glad to have, it was amazing to Professor Xavier when she unexpectedly appeared at his front door. Particularly, since neither he nor Dr. Kinross had been in contact with one another in several years.
That, and the fact that she had managed to somehow arrange a remote consultation between the group with their old college professor, the now very aged and reclusive Professor Robert Windsor. Whose, own extensive and long-standing expertise in the field of genetics was what filled in the gaps to their incomplete research data, and who was the one who ultimately provided them with the necessary details with which to actually help Rogue.
Drawing himself out of this quasi-stroll down memory lane, Professor Xavier now turned his attention towards the book sitting on his lap and opened it up. It was a personal favorite of his, one that he frequently used as a lecture aid and also read and re-read himself simply for the sheer pleasure of it. Partly, because it took him back to his own childhood, of dreams of chivalrous days long since past where noble knights spent them righting wrongs and rescuing fair maidens in distress.
Now, it was one of several books that he chose to regularly read to his son David during these nightly visits. It was his way of trying to make up for all of those years that he wasn't there to do so when his son had been growing up.
And thinking, hoping, praying that one of these nights it might, just might, be the thing that would help his son find his way back home...