Rachel was in the Danger Room, alone, when Scott found her.
He had entered the observation deck half way through her simulation and had watched silently as she took down her holographic adversaries with an aggressive – some might say uncontrolled – strategy based on vicious physical assault.
Of course, Rachel had sensed him the second he has entered, but had similarly chosen not to call him out on it. It wasn't the first time she had had an audience during her private sessions – in fact, she was beginning to think Logan was encouraging idle students to do just that – so she was not as bothered by it as she otherwise might have been. Though, as she tended to do when being observed by the kids, she made a subconscious effort to pare back of some of the more... unnecessary violence.
Even as she fought, she had curiously skimmed his surface thoughts to gauge his reactions, and found mild amusement about the boy band soundtrack playing over the simulation – a prank Kitty had set up for when Rachel next logged into the system, and one which she had not bothered to turn off – and meditative thoughts about the Wolverine-like approach she was taking to the scenario. Beside his purely professional judgement of her technique, however, he was in awe of her and wondering just what he could say when she was done.
When the session finished and the Danger Room congratulated her on defeating all her opponents and reported on her time and score, Rachel took a moment to catch her breath and to clamp down on the rage that usually spurred her to fight like this, and which she used to enhance her performance. Then she grabbed her towel, slung it around her neck, and trekked up the stairs to meet her young alternate universe father.
He was waiting for her in the middle of the room, standing somewhat unsurely and feeling somewhat intimidated by her performance – and by her origination.
"Good job down there," he told her, smiling encouragingly like he was one of her teammates.
Although Rachel had had plenty of time – almost an hour since he had first registered on her radar– to prepare for coming face-to-face with Cyclops, his vulnerability nevertheless caught her off guard. He had experienced none of the trauma or adversity that his current self had, yet there were scars of insecurity marring his mental state from even before he and the others had arrived in this time. He was not as sure of himself yet – that was the biggest surprise – and how his team had handled the news of the radical leader he had become had certainly done a number on his confidence.
"Thank you," Rachel replied, plastering her warmest smile on her face.
"Rachel Grey, right? I'm Scott Summers," he held out his hand to her, and she shook it firmly, suppressing a smirk at the sombre expression on his face. "I know you've already met me, but—"
"It's nice to meet you, Scott," Rachel cut him off, earning herself a grateful smile.
Now that the awkward introductions were over with, Scott retreated to familiar territory – battle plans. Rachel couldn't say she was disappointed – or shocked. This version of Scott was not yet used to the idea of family, and certainly not yet ready to confront the fact that he had a daughter older than he was. "Jean told me that your powers are the same as hers –telepathy and telekinesis. Why weren't you using them in combat?"
"Sometimes we need to practise other skills. If I was to lose my powers, like all those other mutants did on M Day, I wouldn't want to be suddenly unable to protect myself or those around me. We have to be prepared for everything, after all."
Scott nodded approvingly, and Rachel caught the fleeting impression of familiarity – although she had gotten Jean's powers, there was something exclusively him in her. The thought warmed both of them.
Then, abruptly, Rachel became aware of another train of thought – one that was not unusual, though nonetheless unpleasant. He was purposefully trying to keep his gaze from the markings on her face, trying to be polite; trying to to stare at what he thought was an obvious part of her mutant status. He should have been more concerned about where his mind was going, however. No one would ever be able to tell where he was looking.
"I don't have a physical mutation." That caused him to start, and he looked at her guilty, his lips parting to stammer out an apology. Rachel quickly elaborated, however. "I was branded for being a mutant. In my universe, I was used to hunt and kill others of our kind. I'm here to stop that from happening in this universe."
Rachel wasn't sure what caused the sudden need to explain herself, but the wave of empathy she felt emanate from Scott was more comforting than it was from anyone else. His eyebrows drew together, his lips pursing in dismay as he considered the implications of her experiences. "I'm sorry," he finally said, his tone genuine and laced with many layers of understanding.
As she typically did, the redhead shrugged nonchalantly, as if to say "it was no big deal" and brush the ugly subject aside. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine." He wasn't, but Rachel let it slide. They were both better at pretending than talking, though Marvel Girl wasn't sure that sharing such a trait with her teenage father was a good thing.
They stared at each other a second longer, both slightly overcome, before simultaneously looking away. Their eyes roamed the room, falling on anything but each other. Scott wanted to ask his daughter if he had been a good father to her, if he had comforted her when she needed it and taught her how to be strong, but it wasn't in his nature to ask. And it wasn't in Rachel's to break his heart.