"For I am sure that no man asketh mercy and grace with true meaning, but if mercy and grace be first given to him."
-Julian of Norwich, 1342-1413
WARNING & HISTORY
This is a story about healing.
A story about hope, and kindness, and frustration, and triumph.
A story about a father and a son who choose each other.
A story about friends who take the worst with the best.
A story about a brutalized boy who becomes not just a man, but a leader.
It is, at its root, a love story.
It's not a story about sex or prostitution or rape. It's not a story wherein romance solves all problems.
It is not "hurt-comfort" or "fuck him/her all better" fiction.
It pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. It gets hard and it gets real. And sometimes it gets ugly.
Life is like that.
Let me take you on a journey where, by the end, you might believe in miracles -
not the divine sort, but the kind rising from human compassion and simple strength of spirit.
Sometimes, good things do happen to deserving people.
Special: the genesis of Cyclops is a "prequel" novel, which means events take place before X-Men: the Movie and no knowledge of the X-Men is necessary to read and understand it. It uses Scott's comics history imported into the movieverse and taken to a dark extreme. If not all the stories/chapters contain graphic descriptions of sex or violence (in fact, most won't), it's nonetheless ADULT due to overall subject matter. It's been estimated by UNICEF that as many as 100,000 children and teens in the US alone are involved in some kind of sex trade. Girls and boys. Homeless, abandoned, and/or runaway kids turn to prostitution, at least part-time, for mere survival. Far from being unlikely, Scott's experience in Special is all too likely.
Special was begun in April of 2001, when "Just About Sex" appeared as a one-off. It was completed in January of 2005. It went on to win several awards and be (positively) reviewed on non-fanfic, non-X-Men sites (including, most notably, by Eric Burns of Websnark).
It is - hands down - the hardest novel I have ever written (emotionally). It's also the one of which I'm most proud (fanfic or not). I've had letters from abuse survivors, foster kids, and once, from an ex-prostitute who wanted to know if I'd been "in the life" (the answer is 'no'). Nice reviews are nice. But when someone writes to thank you because something you wrote touched them deeply ... well, that goes beyond "nice." It's damn humbling. That's why I'm most proud of this story. Stories should touch the capacity of the heart - move us and heal us (if we're lucky). Climb the Wind may have got a lot of attention and praise in X-Men. Finding Himself did similar in Harry Potter. But Special is in a category all its own because it MATTERED to people, including people who'd survived a living hell. I salute them. They are far, far stronger than I.
While I've made every attempt to portray Scott's healing process as accurately as I could, be aware that the time frame is accelerated for narrative pacing. The healing process varies from person to person, and no one in recovery should measure her or his recovery time by that of another (especially not of a fictional character).
This novel could NOT have been written without the generous assistance of several people, most notably Lesani, who works with foster kids and sex abuse survivors. Yes, I was a therapist in "real life" for a while, but I did bereavement. We all specialize. Accuracy of specific foster system and therapy details owe to her help and advice.
It's a novel of 148K words, but it's really a series of braided short stories, each of which has a clear beginning and end (a little more clear than usual book chapters).
Because it assumes the history in the comics, Special includes two comics characters who do not appear until X3 (and then in different ways): Hank McCoy (Beast) and Warren Worthington (Angel) - as well as Scott (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Phoenix). Although Bobby Drake (Iceman) WAS part of the original 5, here, he's "replaced" by Ororo Munroe (Storm), as she was part of the "teachers" in the X-Men movie, so I made an adjustment. Her history here is, also, based on the comics.
(For anyone who likes visual images ... Aside from the actors cast in the parts for the film, I used a [young] Jude Law for Warren Worthington, Jon Favreau for Hank McCoy, as well as the extraordinary Andre Braugher for the original character, Dr. Jonathan Bennett, Scott's therapist.)
A FEW BASICS (posted with/before all X-Men novels):
In my X-Men fiction, I created TWO basic "worlds," each of which shares a common continuity. I re-use these because it's convenient, but that means things can get a bit confusing if one launches into the novels indiscriminately.
The chief difference between my two worlds involve radically different origins for Cyclops (Scott Summers). Essentially, these two worlds are "movie world" and "comic-based movie world." Or, Scott is not an orphan vs. Scott is an orphan. Each does have a "preliminary" or "prequel" novel that explains how the X-Men came to be in that particular "world."
In the first category (non-orphan), the history of Scott is based (loosely) on the history given in the novelization of the FIRST X-Men movie, or X-Men I (dir. Bryan Singer, please don't confuse it with the recent X-Men: First Class). X-Men I came out in 2000. The second category is much more heavily based on the comics themselves, and utilizes his official comics history as an orphan.
Novels/short stories that utilize the NON-ORPHAN background:
An Accidental Interception of Fate (prequel)
Climb the Wind (set after X1)
[Heyoka & Children of the Middle Waters (not available on FF-net)]
(story series) "Man Behind Red Shades" & "Micky Blue Eyes"
(short stories) "Letters and Papers from Prison," "Mutant Darwin Awards," "Sleepy Dragon," "101(and not Dalmatians)," "Bitch," "Idle Musings of a Woman at Eighty," "Broken," & "Agonia."
Novels/short stories that utilize the comics-based ORPHAN background:
Special: the genesis of Cyclops (prequel)
Grail: a novel of resurrection (set after X2)
(Short stories) "Five Pounds," & "Anahinga,"
(Crossovers) "Case X-1743: Unresolved" (X-Files) & "The Room With a Computer" (Harry Potter)
In terms of sheer wordcount, I probably produced more work for X-Men than any other fandom, especially if one also counts the purely comics-based stories (or "comicverse" vs. "movieverse").