A/N: A story began on LiveJournal for likeadeuce in 2011 that I need to finish. Thus, I post the current chapters here in the hopes it'll galvanize me to finish and at least so I'll be all cross-posted up.
A Clash of Minds
- 1 -
"Dammit, Charles!" Emma Frost slammed down the phone so the sound echoed through her over-spacious, wood-paneled headmistress office. Her fingers automatically flew to her temples to begin massaging out the I-hate-my-fellow-lover/telepath/idiotic-antagonist -sized headache forming there. Her mouth continued to mutter unmentionables.
There was only one thing to do. She would have to step in and handle this situation herself.
The headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy for Gifted Young People dropped her hands from her head and rose from behind her massive desk. She swept up her white cloak and slipped it onto her shoulders while sending out a telepathic call to the teacher she leaned on most.
"You rang?" came the droll reply, much too quickly.
"What are you doing here?" Emma snapped out at the Hispanic woman leaning on the frame inside her door.
Angel Salvadore, also known as Tempest in the mutant community and watch-your-step-she'll-eat-you-alive among the students, rolled her eyes at Emma. "You did ask me to find out what I could on the 'incident' and bring it to you. I assume Charles is being problematic." She raised her eyebrows in what should be a sympathic look but succeeded more at being a smirk.
The two women had bonded long ago over the stupidity and short-sightedness of men and left the Brotherhood arm in arm with similar goals and ambitions. Angel was Emma's lighter half, dressed all in backless black dresses that gave her wings room to breathe; Emma was Angel's dark sister, dressed all in white evening or business attire that never could pass as 'good.'
Emma scowled at Angel darkly. "Tell me you learned something useful."
"Of course, I did." Angel came forward, waving a paper delicately. "And I hope you properly appreciate the lengths I went through to get it too." She grinned.
Emma held out her hand.
Angel finally quit teasing and set it there.
Emma read it and smiled. "You are an angel." She hugged Angel uncharacteristically and hurried out of the office. This would be just the thing to make Charles see reason.
Angel's scoffing voice tumbled behind her. "Of course, I am."
Charles Xavier frowned deeply as he laid one hand on the girl's forehead. He pressed the fingers of his other hand to his temple. The girl was small for her age; she looked twelve or thirteen, but a cursory check revealed her to be sixteen.
"No brain damage," he said aloud.
Hank's scratching pen assured him that his evaluation was noted.
Charles had seen far too many victims of mutant discrimination. This one had gotten off fairly lightly. Hank had already verified that besides a few bruises and a concussion, the girl seemed fine. It was left for Charles to do the careful work of ensuring her mind and mutation were fine and determining how the abuse had come about.
The owner of the mind was surprisingly absent, but her thoughts and memories were close to the surface. Her name was Katherine Pryde; she preferred to be called Kitty. Her mutation was the ability to "phase" through material objects, though experiments with phasing through electronics had resulted in disastrous consequences. She considered herself petite instead of short. Her eyes were brown. She was a practicing Jew, an only child, and something of a genius for computers.
She was also one of Emma Frost's students.
Charles broke the telepathic link with a start. He had not expected to find his friend/rival/sometime-lover involved in this situation. Kitty had been a hospital call from staff that knew he welcomed any mutant and had the means to care for them properly.
"Hank." Charles abruptly began to wheel his chair toward the door of the newly rearranged medical bay. "Please see that her rest is not disturbed." He did not look back to see what expression matched Hank's surprised mutterings and thoughts.
Emma Frost was possessive to a fault, though her protective instincts could use some work. Charles had left the hospital not one hour ago. Considering Emma's new jet and that she was only down in Massachusetts, he could expect her iminent arrival.
"Havoc!" he called as soon as the elevator doors opened on the main level. "We're about to have company!"
The warning came too late. A doorbell rang and Charles resisted the intense urge to swear in frustration.
A cold breeze rushed across his thoughts. He threw up just enough of a mental wall to let her know he wasn't in the mood for mental funny business, then started at a more sedate pace toward the front entry. He was not surprised to find a harried Alex Summers standing next to a polished and irritated Emma Frost when he arrived.
Charles gave her a quick, but careful assessment. Her French manicured nails were tapping a rhythmic pattern on her arm. The toe of her expensive white boot was keeping the downbeat. She was cool, but not downright frosty, and he didn't detect any steam blowing out from under her diamond lid.
Good, he thought. She might still be able to see reason.
I heard that, came the bored reply.
"Thank you, Alex," Charles directed toward his right hand man, who was still glaring at this former enemy. (Never mind, she had not been Brotherhood for years and Alex's two children.) "We'll meet in my study, shall we?" This he directed at Emma, who nodded coolly in reply.
Charles winced. This is going to be a long night.
Neither of them waited for the door to close to start in on each other.
I demand the return of my student, Emma thought fiercely. Once the door had closed, she added aloud, "Where is she?"
What exactly happened to her? Charles demanded in return. Once the door had closed, he coolly replied to her spoken words, "She's in the medical bay. You should be glad she's stable."
Emma sniffed. Disdain for both sides of their conversation. It made Charles want to grind his teeth. But then, she frequently had that effect on him and he on her.
"That's because you don't know how to have a healthy relationship with somebody you can't play daddy to," she retorted and sat down regally in the chair across from him.
They eyed each other warily. Both knew this particular tide would have to break sometime, but this was their first drawn battle over an active and enrolled student. As for potential students... Well, they didn't count.
Charles steepled his fingers together and took on his most reasonable—Most patronizing, Emma interjected—tone. "Katherine Pryde was admitted to the hospital with massive bruises, like she had taken a beating, and unconscious." Charles paused and looked at her.
"Seeing as she is able to pass through objects unhurt,"—assuming so many things that Charles did not want to get into—"I assume there was either some issue with her control or this was a deliberate attack." The implication was strong though. His students were trained to defend themselves. If she had been his...
She isn't. "Oh, please, Charles." Emma crossed one leg over the other and pulled a slip of paper out of purse. "You seem to think I'm incompetent."
He raised his eyebrows. "Never, my friend."
It was never a good sign when he rolled out the "friend" line.
"I am merely concerned that a young girl under your care was permitted to come to harm." Your acceptable losses have always been too high, he thought darkly.
He might as well have pulled off his glove and thrown it at her feet.
My acceptable losses? Emma smiled sweetly. "She isn't currently in my care so I can attend to her medical needs. I believe you took it on yourself to handle that, dear friend." Have you looked in a mirror recently? This last, belligerently.
Charles found himself absently rubbing his temples to begin massaging out the I-hate-my-fellow-lover/telepath/idiotic-antagonist -sized headache forming there.