Fandom: X-men movieverse
Characters: Charles Xavier, Scott Summers, mention of Emma Frost.
Disclaimers: Not mine, etc.
A morning haze was rising from the Allegheny Mountains as Scott piloted the single-engine plane into a textbook-perfect landing. There were no commercial flights into Alderson, West Virginia; just this tiny airstrip where the Blackbird would only attract the wrong kind of attention. When Charles had suggested that the two of them pay a visit, Scott offered use of the Cessna. It was his own private craft, the down payment a thirtieth-birthday gift from Jean. It was a beautiful plane, exactly like the one that his parents died in, and Scott loved it.
Jean had known he would love it, Charles reflected, as they left the plane and Scott wordlessly helped him into the small rental car. Charles himself had doubted, wondering whether the gift would raise too many painful memories. He and Jean had talked it over extensively –- two of the world's most powerful telepaths, trying to predict the reaction of a man they were both supposed to know. But minds were not tea leaves or tarot cards, and knowing what a man's thoughts and feelings had been could be only so useful in predicting the future. Perhaps it was true, as Jean believed, that Scott thrived when he could conquer and control the things that might hurt him. Or maybe he simply would have loved any gift, because it came from her.
Scott pulled the car onto the two lane rural highway, observing the stop sign and using the blinker, although there was no traffic in sight. Charles carried the directions folded in his breast pocket, but he knew Scott would have them memorized, and wouldn't insult him by offering. The flight down had been quiet, though not uncomfortably so. Neither man talked for the sake of hearing his own voice. They drove for a mile, passing only an auto body shop and a two-pump gas station.
"You know," Scott finally said, "they shouldn't send a woman like her down here to put her in prison. They should send her here to live, and make her stay."
"Why Scott," Charles answered with a smile in his voice. "I had no idea you were such an East Coast elitist snob."
He sniffed. "Come on, we're talking about Emma 'I can't go to the grocery story without my diamonds on' Frost. How far do you think we are from the nearest Bloomingdale's?"
"I had been under the impression that you were one of Miss Frost's defenders."
"No," Scott answered. "But -- all that talk about Hellfire or whatever they call themselves aside, I don't think she's actually evil. An arrogant, misguided, trouble-making pain in the ass, yes but –" He paused. "You think we should fix her up with Logan? That might solve two annoying problems in my personal life." Charles let a moment slide by, until Scott said, "Come on, that was my famous deadpan humor."
"I was almost certain," said Charles. He decided to let the Emma issue go for a moment - there would be time – and looked out the window at the clouds starting to lower over the mountain pass. "You would enjoy it here? A simpler life, perhaps?"
"I'm from Nebraska. I'd survive. At least this place has landscape." Scott reached to turn on the radio, but static greeted his efforts. He hit the scan button and watched the numbers run all the way around the dial without hitting a station. "Huh. Well." Focusing back on the road, he said. "Jean would probably miss Bloomingdale's."
"Of course," Charles answered. "Jean." He glanced over at Scott's Oxford, fine-spun cotton in a winter white. "Where did you get that shirt?"
"I could shop online. They'd ship out here." He cut off the useless radio. "Then I'd try everything on and I'd hate it. Send it back. I'd drive Jean crazy, and she'd divorce me." A light rain began to spatter the windshield. Scott flicked the wiper. "What were we talking about?"
"Emma Frost," Charles answered.
"Right. Yes. My own personal stalker. Who we are visiting in federal prison. For some reason that I trust you will explain, some time in the future. Most likely, after it should already be obvious but I'm being too dense to figure it out by myself."
"It's as though you know me," Charles said gravely, then, unable to resist needling back a little, "Why do you think we're going?"
"Visiting the imprisoned." Scott answered, dueling with Charles' deadpan. "Classic good deed. You know. A mitzvah."
Charles' mind flashed back to that plastic prison, Scott behind him, arms crossed and sullen. He had only been allowed to enter on the first visit. The security staff seemed to pride themselves on arbitrary exercises of authority, and had since decided that he wasn't allowed. But in all honesty, the conversations had gone more smoothly without his monosyllabic presence. "As little inclined as you are to speak to Erik, given the opportunity, it does seem he played a certain role in your spiritual development."
"Hmm," Scott answered. "You forget. Before I came to you, I had ten years of charity homes and Catholic schools. Lots and lots of nuns." He raised a hand off the wheel and flexed his fingers, as though feeling a phantom whack to his knuckles. "Whatever I can say about Magneto, he never had me on the wrong end of a ruler."
Charles thought of the scrupulously well-mannered teenager he had met, all those years ago. "Scott," he said. "I have a hard time believing that you came in for much discipline."
"You'd be surprised." He gripped the wheel tightly again. "I wouldn't talk. Wouldn't answer. They didn't like that."
Once he spoke, Charles remembered digging into the boy's school records and finding references to "uncooperative behavior" and "poor participation." He dismissed these as the words of teachers who made no effort to understand the boy, and beyond that never paid much attention. They seemed so alien from the Scott that he knew.
"I didn't talk for two months, one time." Scott tapped the wheel. "It took eleven days for anyone to notice. And that was because I was skipping confession." The rain was coming harder, and Scott slowed down to take a curve. "Jean's family is Lutheran."
"Scott!" Charles exclaimed, pieces of the conversation falling together. "I had no idea you and Jean were thinking about children."
Scott turned to stare, jerked the wheel, overcorrected, and pressed the brake so that the car skidded along the road. "Can you please warn me when you're going to do that?"
"I'm sorry," said Charles, sincerely. "But I wasn't reading your mind."
"Fair enough," Scott sighed, focusing back on the road. "Because why else am I thinking about Jean's religious upbringing or my own crappy childhood? What else did I say?"
"Divorce," Charles answered. "You said 'Jean will divorce me'. Not 'break up.'" Scott bit his lip and nodded, his jaw clenched tightly. "There's no need to feel uncomfortable about the subject. You and Jean have been together for a long time. It's perfectly natural to start thinking of your lives in more permanent terms. In fact –" He placed a hand on Scott's shoulder, and tried not to let the word 'grandchildren' slip into his mind, because that would be sentimental nonsense. "In fact, that would be lovely."
"Lovely," Scott echoed. "Yeah, I –" He laughed, but the sound was hollow. "I'm glad you feel that way. I really really am."
He looked at Charles, and for a moment the older man felt cowardly in his gratitude that Scott had no chance of reading his thoughts. 'Lovely,' he did think. 'Lovely.' But he also remembered a teenage girl calling herself after a mythical firebird, and asked himself what might happen to the child of one mutant who could not control his phenomenal power, and another who hadn't always wanted to.
"I'm glad you feel that way," Scott repeated. "But like it or not, a lot of people won't. I was just remembering -- All of the other insanity in these past few weeks, God knows why it should stick with me. But. I was walking through the station and there was this mom with two little boys. And I was wearing ---" He pointed at the visor. "And just civvies, no hell for black leather or anything. The kid smiled. I smiled back. I like kids. I work with kids. It was an instinct. His mother took one look at me and just dragged them off. It's not like I was wearing a sign that said 'Hate me, I'm a mutant.' But people are so tuned to be scared of anything different."
Charles nodded. "This causes you to reevaluate your feelings about bringing children into this world."
"What it causes me to reevaluate is whether we need to do it now, because if they pass that registration law, in a few years maybe they decide it's illegal and --" His voice stopped, and the furious rush of the wipers filled the silence. "Professor, I haven't even said this to Jean. So, please."
They rounded a corner, and the lights of the prison loomed ahead of them. "You know what drives me crazy about someone like Emma Frost?" said Scott. "Senator Kelly used to be on the board of her school. Look, I know the man's dead, and that shouldn't have happened but -- Jean had the guts to get up in front of Congress, and the man basically called her a traitor and a Communist. I'm worried about whether I can talk to somebody's child in public, much less have my own. Meanwhile, cable news is covering what the Senator's best friend Emma Frost -- who just happens to be a class three telepath, but nobody mentions that -- wore to her sentencing. Something doesn't add up."
"Indeed," answered Charles. "In fact, it appears our Miss Frost would rather allow herself be sent to prison for trading in secret stock tips than face a trial."
"What does that --?" He slapped his hand on the wheel. "Oh, Jesus. She's afraid a trial would reveal she was getting her information by – Oh, Jesus. Why are we coming to visit this person again?"
"She wrote a letter asking me to. Apparently, she would like to share some information."
"With you?" Scott pulled the car up to a security checkpoint, and handed his identification and Charles' over to the guard.
Charles leaned over and said, "We're expected."
The man nodded, regarded Scott's sunglasses with no particular suspicion, and let them through. "Well, technically, you're expected," said Scott. "I'm just along for the ride."
"Oh no," said Charles, not quite hiding his smile. "Emma Frost asked for you by name."
"Oh Jesus." Scott hit the brake, and crossed his arms across the wheel. With a jut of the chin, he said, "I'm staying in the car."
"Now now, Scott. You've come this far." Charles touched his shoulder and smiled. "Consider this a mitzvah."