The X-Men are adjusting to a world without Charles Xavier. Scott is growing into his new role. Jean-Paul has joined the X-Men full time and he and Adam are back together. Then an enemy thought long gone strikes.
Categories: X1 Characters:
Adam Greenfield, Alexander Summers, Jean Grey, Jean-Paul, Logan, Scott Summers, Warren
This follows Past and To Come.
1. Chapter 1 by The Mo
2. Chapter 2 by The Mo
3. Chapter 3 by The Mo
4. Chapter 4 by The Mo
Chapter 1 of 10
Lives and Fortunes - Chapter 1
Logan pushed hard into Scott, talking softly right in his ear. He wasn’t making much sense, but Scott didn’t care. Random words of lust and joy, Logan’s body on his back, Logan’s cock sliding in and out of him, Logan’s fingers interlaced with his own, the warmth of the fire in the hearth so close to them – this was all he needed. He pushed back to meet him, getting up on all fours. Logan reared back, holding Scott by the hips now as he fucked him hard, and then pressed down on him again. Scott braced himself to hold the whole weight of Logan’s adamantium-laced body.
“Almost there,” Scott said to him. “I want to feel you coming. Give it to me.” Logan put his arms round Scott’s chest, his breath loud in his ear as he fucked him harder and faster. Then with one thrust he jerked his head against Scott’s, knocking the glasses onto the rug.
“Shit!” he said, and pulled out.
“No, no. Don’t stop. It’s okay. I closed them in time. Just leave the glasses. Fuck me some more.”
Logan slid back in gently. Soon he was lying on Scott’s back again, his cock pumping in and out of Scott’s tight hole, hand reaching around to squeeze and tug until Scott came, then fucking him fast and hard, both arms around his chest.
The claws slid out of Logan’s hands as his orgasm overtook him, arms spread wide now, metal shining bright in the firelight.
Logan pulled out of Scott, claws retracting slowly as he caught his breath. He sat down on the rug, back against the couch, looking into the fireplace. Scott felt around for his glasses, put them on, and opened his eyes. Then he stretched out on the rug, face turned towards the fire. “Thanks,” Logan said, sitting cross-legged behind Scott, patting him on the ass. “That was great.” He tousled Scott’s hair.
“Yeah.” Scott sighed happily.
“Sorry about the glasses.”
“No harm, no foul. I think my eyes were just about rolling back in my head by that point anyway.” He smiled at his lover. “It’s good doing it here, isn’t it? Although when these were Charles’s rooms, I don’t suppose he had to clean cum stains out of the hearth rug so often.”
Logan chuckled. “I’m glad you decided to move in here.”
Scott laughed. “Because you like fucking in front of the fireplace?”
“We do it like that in your office, too.”
“That rug is getting cleaned more often, too.” Scott sat up, leaning against his lover. “But it’s a little more private here. Not what you meant, though? You’re not glad because of the fireplace?”
“I do like a fire. Particularly at night. I can’t stand being cold at night.”
Scott reached over and touched Logan’s leg. “I know. I could kill them for what they did to you.”
Logan shrugged. “You and me both, bub. Unfortunately, time did it before either of us had a crack at them.”
Neither said anything for a minute; they just looked into the fire. “So why are you glad I left my old bedroom and took over Charles’s rooms?”
“It makes the mansion more your place, you know? It’s the master bedroom suite. You own the house, the school, too. You’re the headmaster, the team leader. These rooms should be yours. For a while there, it seemed like you were kind of taking care of stuff for him – the house, the school, the X-Men – not really in charge.”
“Oh, not that it showed with the team. Or the kids. As far as they were all concerned you’re the leader. They all do what you say. But I could tell the difference.”
“You see a side of me nobody else does.”
“I hope so,” Logan replied grinning. “It was sort of like you weren’t really sure he was gone. It got a little creepy, like you were looking around for his ghost or something. Like you didn’t want to make any of your own decisions, just wanted to figure out what he would have done. I thought of getting you a WWXD bracelet for a while there.”
Scott smiled. “I do feel guided by him, by all he taught me over the years. That’s always been true. It still is. I want to fulfill Charles’s vision. That’s been my touchstone since I was a kid, why I stayed here all along and worked for him. I thought of leaving a few times over the years, but I always ended up deciding that this is what I want to do with my life. That’s why I promised him that I’d take over, continue the school and the X-Men and the Foundation, take care of them all after he was gone.” He thought a little more, then added, “I want to keep his memory alive, but I do want to make it my own operation, too.”
Logan nodded in approval. “You need to put your own stamp on it. No, not that – keep your own stamp on it. The X-Men, the school – they always were yours, you know, even when he was alive. Yours as much as his. You built this place every bit as much as the Professor did. He couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why he didn’t start building a school or a combat team until he’d suckered me into doing it with him.” Wry half-smile. Logan touched Scott’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’m okay now. It was worth doing.” Scott sighed. “And he really did love me.”
“You believe it now?”
“Yeah, however badly it began – and I’ll tell you sometimes I’m still bitter from finding out just how callous he was in the beginning – the love Charles Xavier professed was very real for most of the time I knew him. He was a good father to me, and I did my best to be a good son to him.”
“You were a great son to him. Better than he deserved a lot of the time.” Logan ran his fingers through Scott’s hair again. “But, you know, it’s still weird how you seemed ready to just obey his every fucking whim after he died. For a while there, anyway.”
“Finding those diaries made a difference. Seeing a side to him I didn’t know was there. Feet of clay and all that.”
“Then I’m glad you found them, if it helped shake you out of just doing what he wanted. But you sure weren’t like that when he was alive. You never felt like you had to just go along with what he said. You disagreed with him lots of times, fought with him, even.”
“Yeah. About you, some of the time.”
“Not just that, though; you’re right. We’d argue about how to run the X-Men, which missions we should go on, how best to spend the Foundation’s money, how to handle the students. We had a shared purpose, Charles and I, a shared vision, but we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on how to enact it.” Scott thought a moment. “I think when he was alive, I felt like voicing disagreement with him was a good thing, that bumping heads with Charles had a positive outcome. Often he was right, and arguing it out made me see that. And sometimes he wasn’t, and arguing about it made that clear, too.”
“Like about you and me.”
“That one I was always clear on.”
“After you got over the idea that you could stop liking dick if you tried hard enough.”
“I think I might never have come out if it weren’t for you, Logan. I was really settled in that life. I wanted what felt like a normal life; I wanted a place in the world. I didn't even think about sex with men. I’d almost forgotten about that part of me. But then you showed up and all that fell apart."
"That's me – destruction wherever I go."
"Well, you certainly rocked my world. I knew I needed you. I wished I didn’t, at first. I thought my life would get back to normal when you left – that's what I was hoping for. Instead I found I couldn't get you out of my head. I wanted to find you, wanted to work for a new normal. You made me really think about my life and the decisions I’d made. You gave me an opportunity for growth. Not that I knew that at the time, or would have thanked you then if I had.”
“All that by knocking you down in the Danger Room and telling you to suck me off. And here I thought I was just horny.”
Scott laughed and punched him in the arm. It was a light, mock punch but still hard enough to feel the metal underneath. “And I knew the team needed you, and that you needed us – long before you knew. Charles came round before he died, too.”
“Yeah you told me that he was okay with you and me. But that’s all you told me. What did he say?”
“He said that I’d been right about you and he’d been wrong. That you’d proven to be a huge asset to the team, and to the school. That I’d seen your potential when he’d only seen your limitations. And that he knew we really love each other.”
“Telepathy comes in handy.”
“Yeah, particularly when you’re in love with a guy who doesn’t like to say it,” Scott said, with a smile. “But I knew it anyway. I know what silent love hath writ.” He stared at the dancing flames for a minute and then went on. “You’re right, though. I did lose some sense of proportion after he died. Those first few months I felt the loss of him so keenly. Not just personally, not just missing him. I was at sea without him telling me what to do. I was trying to take over for him and at the same time do all the stuff I've always done. I didn't even realize how much Charles did until I tried to do it all, too. And with all the shit that went on those first few months – with that reporter from the Washington Times, with finding Alex, the financial constraints we were under, Jean going hors de combat – I did feel overwhelmed a lot of the time. So I probably did fall back too much on ‘What Would Xavier Do?’ I probably relied on you too much, too.”
“Nah, I want to help you – any way I can.”
“Well, good. I needed your help. Still do. And you’re right about this suite, too – keeping his rooms set up like they had been when he was alive, with all of his things still in them, it was a kind of denial. Sort of Miss Haversham-esque.” He looked around him. “But it wasn’t easy to make changes. These rooms had been Charles's all the time I knew him. This is where I sat with him when we were first planning the X-Men; it’s where I first met Jean. And this is where he died. I didn't even take out that hospital bed for weeks after his death. Jean finally convinced me to have it moved back to the infirmary." Logan saw the red glow behind Scott's glasses fade as he closed his eyes. "I’d come in here sometimes and just sit on the couch and look at his empty chair and try to imagine him sitting in it, imagine him rolling over here and telling me what I should do.” He opened his eyes, looked at Logan, and smiled.
“Yeah, you’re right. It is kind of creepy.”
“Was. You’re past that. The wheelchair’s not here anymore; you are. You’ve moved into the master bedroom suite, you’ve got your own stuff here, your pictures on the wall. You’ve worked out a new command structure; you’ve got new trustees for the Foundation. You’re back in charge.”
“I do feel like I’m moving on, hard as it is. Thanks for helping me.”
“You’re still doing too much shit yourself, you know.”
“I gave Storm the X-Men training program and Warren the Foundation chairmanship. Jean’s pretty much running the school, even now when she’s supposedly on mat leave. I’m not giving up being Field Leader – not unless you’ll take it on.” Logan shook his head. “So what could I give up?”
“Well, you could give up teaching.”
“No, I really can’t. Maybe I should, for the kids’ sake, since missions are pulling me away so often. But I need it. It keeps me sane.”
“Then give up doing all that shit for Obama.”
“You know I can’t. That’s how I got Alex out.”
“Yeah, and some prize he turned out to be.”
“I think he’s going to work out. He’s making progress.” Logan rolled his eyes. “Come on, you've got to admit he's turning into quite a fighter."
"Yeah, if only he'd stick to fighting during combat missions, instead of spending his energy pissing off half the team all the time, he'd be great."
"I think he's doing better. Not everyone has an easy transition. He doesn't have a history of team work – it's all new to him." He shrugged. "Even if he doesn’t make it as an X-Man, I’m still glad I got him out of prison.”
“You did right by him. Don’t know that he appreciates it.”
“He’s not very demonstrative. Maybe you can relate to that.” Logan snorted. “Anyway, I mostly like the connection with the President. It’s important work, work worth doing. I think it’s good for the mutant cause, and good for the country that we do those missions.”
“Plus you get to dress up in a monkey suit and go to a state dinner.”
“Hey, you could have come, too. The invitation said ‘Scott Summers and Guest.’ And I know you have a tux, since I bought it for you for Jean’s wedding.”
“I wouldn’t know how to act at something like that.”
Scott lay down again, stretched, and pulled Logan down next to him. They held each other in front of the fire. “Maybe we won’t get any calls from the White House during the break. It would be nice to have some time off. I like having the house so empty.”
“Jean and Sasha are staying, right?”
“Yeah, they don’t want to travel with the baby, yet. And Adam’s still here – he’s got something in the City tonight – but he’s joining Jean-Paul and Ezra at the Outpost tomorrow."
“She and Little Hank are visiting her sister for the week. So the place is almost empty. It feels weird – in a good way – that there aren’t any students here.”
“It’s the first time that’s happened since I’ve been here.”
“I don’t know if it ever happened. I can't remember any times it did. We always seemed to have a few during the breaks. They don’t all have homes to go to. Charles and I always came up with something for them to do – fun stuff. We wanted to make it feel like vacation, but with some structure.”
“You never took the ones left behind on vacation?”
“Yeah, actually we did.” Scott closed his eyes, remembering. “The Vermont ski house got lots of use on vacations. I didn’t think of that.” He opened his eyes and looked around. “The house was this empty before, only I didn’t notice it, because I wasn’t here. Jean and I were always the chaperones. We did it in part to give Charles a chance to be ‘childless’ for a week or so. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Now it’s Alex and ‘Ro giving you and me some privacy.”
Logan snorted. “Privacy? If your brother would stop calling you every five minutes complaining about something, it would feel a little more private. Not to mention Storm calling to complain about him.”
“Well, it’s his first time chaperoning. I’m glad he agreed to do it – he seems to be settling in to the school side. And you have to admit, there haven’t been any major problems with the ski trip.”
“That’s my point. If the house isn’t burning down and nobody died, he could suck it up and just deal.” He paused a minute. “Storm I got more sympathy for. I couldn’t spend a week in Vermont with a bunch of kids and your brother and not call for help a few times. I don’t blame her if she needs to talk to a sane adult from time to time.” He turned on his back and looked up at the ceiling. “I’ll take the next call. If it’s him, I’ll tell him to shut up, and if it’s her, I’ll tell her to make Havok shut up. Problem solved. ”
“You don’t know that there will be another call.”
“There’s always another call.”
“With the place this empty I want to get some work done on it. I’ve got painters coming in – the dorm rooms really need it. And I want to work on a couple of the cars and on the Blackbird. You want to help?”
“Sure. Whatever you want. As long as you allow some time for more fucking by the fireplace. Or anywhere else. With almost nobody here, there’s lots of possibilities...”
The phone rang. Scott started to get up. Logan pushed him back down. “What did I tell you? I’ll get it.” He stood up and walked over to the other side of the room, picking up the phone. “Xavier’s,” he said into the receiver, and then “Yeah, it’s Logan. What’s going on?” Scott turned to look at Logan. The expression on his face made clear that the phone call was bad news. “Yeah, he’s right here.” And then to Scott, “It’s Kline. You’d better talk to him.”
Lives and Fortunes - Chapter 2
The living room in the main house at the Outpost was large and inviting. It had a two-story ceiling, a wood-burning fireplace along one wall, and a picture window along another. An oak table near the picture window was used for meetings, and occasionally for meals, when some of the residents grew tired of the dining hall and wanted to eat in smaller groups. Couches and arm chairs were scattered about, allowing for several groups of people to sit and talk simultaneously. There were lamps in several of the sitting areas, well placed for reading, but the main light was supplied by three rows of halogen track lights, 20 feet above the floor.
Jean-Paul Beaubier was hovering near the ceiling, a messenger bag slung over one shoulder. He had a flashlight in one hand, pointed at the lighting track closest to the outer wall. He was changing light bulbs.
Wendy Ringsmith walked into the room and looked at him. “How’s it going?”
“Almost done,” he replied. “Two more,” he added gesturing with a light bulb as he flew over to the last track and started unfastening the spent bulbs.
“Good, I’ll bring in tea. And brownies?”
“Oui. Definitely brownies.”
When she returned with the tray, Jean-Paul was done. He had landed and was flipping the light switches to make sure the bulbs were all functional. Wendy and Jean-Paul both looked up and smiled. “Thanks,” she said. “It was getting kind of dark in here.”
He chuckled. “Did you think I was going to live here forever when you designed the lighting in this room? You knew I was seconded here on a temporary assignment. It seems bad planning to have lighting that requires a flying mutant to change the bulbs. Not up to your usual design standards – between you and Arthur, you always think of everything.”
“I thought we did think of everything. I was planning on changing them telekinetically. The ceiling is well within my reach, but those latches on the bulbs are tricky. I can never remember how to open them and I can’t really see them well enough from down here to figure it out.” She looked up again and then at Jean-Paul. “Well, you’re not the only flying mutant in the world. I suppose if you don’t visit often enough we’ll have to recruit another to live here. Or recruit someone with superhuman vision to look at them close up and tell me what to do.”
“You could get a taller ladder.”
“I suppose. Anyway, you’re here now and I thank you. With tea and brownies,” she added, putting the tray down on a table in a corner of the room, with two armchairs next to it.
They sat down and she poured the tea. Jean-Paul sighed happily. “It is so good to be on vacation,” he said.
Wendy laughed. “Some vacation. So far you’ve fixed the water heater, tore your hair out trying to fix the mess that is Arthur’s attempt at bookkeeping, and changed diapers on I don’t know how many babies and toddlers – which I would think is a bit hard to go back to now that Ezra is toilet trained. And now that the Outpost kids are all in bed and there are no more diapers to change, you’re changing light bulbs instead. I’m glad you decided to spend Spring Break with us, but it doesn’t seem like much of a vacation to me.”
“I’m happy to do all that. It feels like vacation to me. And Adam and I will get some more traditional vacation time after he arrives. Thanks for agreeing to take Ezra while we’re off at the inn.”
“Arthur and I owe you for all the times you took care of April to give us some privacy.” She smiled. “It’s a great place. I think you’ll love the Hillcrest Inn. Beautiful setting, lovingly restored and furnished, great big beds. We felt like honeymooners again.”
“The Hillcrest – it’s gay friendly?”
“And mutant friendly. Not that easy to find in the prairie provinces.”
“Thank you for finding it then, as well as for babysitting.”
“I’m glad to do it. Particularly since I’m making you work for your time off.”
“This feels like time off, too, bien sur. A change is as good as a rest. And I needed a change.”
“I suppose it’s a bit of a relief – no combat involved, other than battling Arthur’s books.”
“Oh that’s not the part that I need a vacation from. I’m used to combat missions. Not so different with the X-Men from when I was with Alpha Flight. It’s teaching high school that I want to escape.” He shook his head. “I don’t know why I let Scott Summers talk me into that.”
“He can be very persuasive.”
“Oui. He is so like Charles Xavier that way. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into that office determined to listen politely and then say ‘no’ - and then an hour later I’m leaving having agreed to do whatever he asked.” He took a sip of tea. “The only difference is, when Professor X talked me into something, I always had the sneaking suspicion I got convinced through mind control.”
She laughed at that. “So how bad could teaching French be? You’re a balanced bilingual – they’re lucky to have you.”
“That’s what Scott says. Every time I want to just chuck it, he tells me how lucky they are to have someone fluent in both French and English. But fluency isn’t enough. Talking isn’t teaching.”
“You taught Oliver when he was here.”
“That was different. It was just conversation and reading together, not lesson plans and lectures and trying to keep a disciplined class when kids are talking and giggling. And half the time I’m sure they’re talking about me and laughing at how incompetent I am at this. It leaves me feeling like a complete imbecile. Bien sur, I’d rather be in combat.”
Wendy laughed at that. “Assaults on your body easier to take than assaults on your pride?”
Jean-Paul nodded solemnly. “I’m sure it will get easier as you get used to it,” she said.
“That’s what Cyclops says – that that’s just what teaching is like. Everyone wants to give up half-way through their first year, but the second year goes much smoother. I don’t know - maybe he’s right. I’m just not sure I’ll survive until then. I was so glad when we got to the end of the first semester. And totally dreaded going back after the New Year.”
“Why didn’t you go on vacation over Christmas break?”
“Too busy. That’s when Scott schedules all the non-urgent X-Men missions, since we’re all available for a couple of weeks with the school closed.”
“He really is a slave driver.”
“He’s his father’s son.” Jean-Paul thought for a minute. “With both of them – Charles then and Scott now – it would be a lot harder to take if not for the fact that whatever demands he makes on staff, he’s doing as much and then some. I don’t know when – or if – Cyclops sleeps.”
“He hasn’t named a new Field Leader?”
“No, and it looks like he won’t. Storm has taken over the X-Men training program – although Cyclops often shows up and trains with us, anyway. And Jean’s taken over a lot of the school administration, although Scott certainly keeps his hand in there, too, particularly now that she’s on maternity leave. Warren’s taking the lead on the Foundation business. But Scott’s leading as many missions as he used to. Maybe more. A whole lot are missions for the U.S. government. That’s a big change.”
“Sounds like a change you don’t like.”
He shrugged. “The X-Men used to be really independent.”
“Aren’t they still?”
“Yes, I suppose. It’s not like when I worked for Alpha Flight – we were part of the Canadian government. The X-Men were always Charles’s private army, and now Scott’s. But more and more what he’s taking on is under a request from Washington.”
“That started while Professor X was still alive, right?”
“Yeah, Adam and I always figured that’s part of how he got a lot of the legal restrictions on mutants repealed – developing this close relationship with the president. Obama was motivated to make the changes he could do on his own by executive order and to put pressure on Congress for the ones he couldn’t. Scott seems to have picked right up with that. He’s got some kind of arrangement with Obama, I think. It seems like half the missions we do are for the White House.”
“You can’t talk about them, I suppose?”
“No, sorry. The details have to remain confidential. But it’s not a secret that it’s happening. It’s all over the news, the X-Men/Obama connection. With various spins depending on who’s reporting.”
“Yeah, Fox News is having a field day. ‘Palling around with mutants’ – they make us sound so sinister.” She paused a minute. “What’s your old flame saying about the X-Men and the White House in his paper?”
“He’s not an old flame.” Jean-Paul’s sour expression matched his tone. “I picked Rick Kapell up in a bar and spent one night with him. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in months. Not since Adam and I got back together. And believe me, I don’t read the Washington Times so I don’t know what he’s saying or whether he’s even still there.”
Wendy concluded this was a sore point and didn’t press him. She changed the subject. “I saw a great picture of Scott and the President in the paper the other day, at that dinner honoring the poet laureate. He looked so good all dressed up.”
“Well, both of them, I guess. I wouldn’t kick either of them out of bed,” she added, garnering raised eyebrows from Jean-Paul. She ignored that and continued. “But I meant Scott. It seems weird to me, still. I pick up my morning paper and start reading it as I drink my coffee and suddenly I’m staring at someone I know – someone who lived here for a while – at an official White House event.”
“Get used to it. Scott’s at official events often enough these days – and, as to the less official ones, he’s got special permission to land the Blackbird on the White House lawn just so he can get there in a hurry when he’s called.”
“He should get you to take him if he needs to get there in a real hurry.”
“He has, when it’s really urgent.”
“But you get what I mean about it being strange? The X-Men have always been out of the spotlight, trying to work quietly and independently, and then first Charles in his last year or so and now Scott after his death with such a public presence.”
“Well, the missions are still secret, and the school is still off-limits to reporters. And Scott doesn’t give interviews.”
“I bet there are plenty of requests for them.”
“Yeah, but Rogue has standing orders to say he doesn’t talk to the press.”
“Is it because of Logan, do you think?”
“No, I don’t think so. They’re not closeted. Not exactly. It’s not a secret that Scott’s gay or that Logan’s his lover. I just think he’s trying to carve out some private space for himself while his work becomes more and more public. He’s in the news as Field Leader of the X-Men and informal advisor to the President, but his private life – and especially the school and the kids’ private lives – remains off-limits.”
“And he’s doing all that and still teaching, too?”
“Yeah, not as many classes as he used to, and he needs subs more often, but he won’t give it up.”
“Do you think he should?”
“I don’t know. Something’s got to give, though. I don’t think he can keep up like this indefinitely. Cyclops has always been driven, but since Professor X’s death he seems to have gone into overdrive or something. He’s constantly working – the team, the school, the Foundation, political work. He just doesn’t stop.”
“And expects the same of the whole team?”
“Oui. And vraiment, that’s okay with me. I may complain to you, but I’m happy to do what I can. So is Adam.”
“He’s still working for the X-Men on the side?” Jean-Paul nodded. “Is that what’s keeping him in New York until tomorrow?”
“No, this time it’s not X-Men business. He’s speaking at a panel discussion. At the 92d Street Y.”
“What’s the topic?”
“Intermarriage. I guess he’s Exhibit A.”
Wendy laughed, then stopped and thought. “What kind of intermarriage? Mutant/Normal? Or Jewish/Christian?”
“Jew/Gentile. It’s a Jewish Y – YMHA. Although I’m sure the mutant angle will come up, too. And the gay dad thing, no doubt.”
“Well there’s an angle where you’re not intermarried!” Wendy said brightly.
Jean-Paul’s expression showed the joke had fallen flat. “I wish he wouldn’t do this kind of thing. He sees it as increasing understanding, but basically I think it’s likely to be two hours of people sneering at us.”
“Is it a hostile group? Really?”
“Not necessarily. And anyway, not all of them. Miriam will be in the audience and she’s our biggest defender.”
“Next to me, that is.”
“Sometimes I think Adam just reconciled with me to get the two of you off his back.”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?”
“No, of course not. He finally realized what we had was too good to give up. I knew it all along, although I was pretty close to giving up anyway, bien sur. Particularly when he was spending all that time with Jake Patterson.” He shook his head. “I still can’t stand to hear that name.”
“Do you hear it much?”
Jean-Paul smiled sheepishly. “Mostly coming out of my mouth,” he admitted. “But I’m really working on getting over this, this time. I know things fell apart between us because I couldn’t before.”
“It’s hard, isn’t it?”
“Oui. Very hard. But not getting over it proved to be harder in the long run.” He thought for a minute. “Did Arthur ever cheat on you?” And then, quickly. “Or is that too personal to ask?”
“Please. With all you and I know about each other I can’t imagine there’s anything you could ask that would be too personal.” She smiled. “But why ask about Arthur and not me?”
Eyebrows raised again. “Okay, have either of you cheated?”
“No, not since we decided to get married.”
“That’s a lot of years.”
“Yeah, it is. And I’m glad we haven’t had to deal with that. I know how hard it has been for you; I’m happy you guys seem to be over it. But you know – I think with Arthur and me it’s at least partly luck, or circumstances or something. We’re almost always together; that’s how it’s been for years with us. We live together; we work together. We wear wedding rings, so anyone who meets us when we happen to be apart knows we’re married. We never encounter anyone who doesn’t think of us as a couple. It sets a kind of expectation. I would like to think that we’d both be immune to the charms of a straight equivalent of Jake Patterson under circumstances like Adam encountered him, but I’m not so sure.”
“Yeah, I know. Adam was forced into a position where he seemed to be unattached – forced by my refusal to come along. Plus he was mad at me and drinking and feeling lousy about himself.”
“It was kind of an accident waiting to happen.”
Jean-Paul nodded. “I know that now. If ever there were a circumstance in which Adam was going to cheat on me, that was it. I still wish he hadn’t.”
“But you can forgive him one mistake?”
Jean-Paul nodded. “I have to, for us to stay together. And that’s what I want, more than anything.”
“Good. If you’ve got to hate on someone for it, blame Jake.”
“I’d like to – I did – but it was hardly his fault. Why shouldn’t he hit on an attractive man he meets at a convention? And between Adam and me – there was plenty of fault to go around that our relationship got to that point. So hating Jake wasn’t really getting me anywhere anyway.” He sighed. “Adam has seen him – professionally, not personally – a few times. Their paths were bound to cross occasionally. And he’s very careful to tell me any time they do. I believe there’s nothing going on between them. See, I even left Adam alone in New York with Jake there.”
“I thought he lives in San Francisco.”
“He did. He’s back in school, in New York, getting a master’s in journalism. At Columbia.”
“Adam’s alma mater?”
“Yes, and Adam just started as an adjunct there now, too.”
“I didn’t know that. Good for him! I bet he’s a great teacher. He’s got so many stories to tell.”
“Yeah – journalism students love the war stories.”
“Is Jake one of his students?”
“No, not yet anyway. But they run into each other.”
“I guess they’d have to. But you know you can trust Adam.”
“I do. I do trust him. And I’m so glad he’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll even try to be supportive about this panel thing. Maybe he is managing to increase understanding.” The phone next to Wendy rang. Jean-Paul looked at the caller id. “It’s Xavier’s. If that’s Cyclops, come up with some excuse for why I can’t talk. Or at least find out what it’s about before you let him talk to me. With my luck, he’ll talk me into coming back just as Adam gets here. And then we’ll never get to that inn.”
“Hi, Scott,” she said. “Yes, he’s here but no, you can’t talk to him.” She smiled at Jean-Paul as she continued. “I know you. You’ll just convince him to go on some mission or take on some school-related assignment. Jean-Paul’s on vacation. Nobody gets to make him work but me and Arthur. Tell me what you want him to do and I’ll take it under advisement.” And then her smile disappeared. “I’m sorry, Scott. Yes, of course.” Jean-Paul watched, worried, as she passed the phone to him, saying “You’d better talk to him. Something awful happened.”
The right wing terrorist group Sacred Honor first appears in my series Safe House, and is featured largely in Unexpected Occurrences, during the War on Mutants. See Mofic if you'd like to read them.
Martin Kline hadn’t known a lot of details when he called Scott. He knew that Adam Greenfield had been kidnapped, at gunpoint, during the panel discussion he’d participated in that night at the 92d Street Y. He knew that the militia group Sacred Honor was claiming responsibility, puzzling to law enforcement officials who had thought the group defunt. Kline also knew that he’d been contacted, as FBI liaison to the X-Men, because a package left at the scene by the kidnappers had an envelope attached to it, addressed to “Scott Xavier Summers.”
That was what they’d told him it had said, at least most of what they’d told him, and it’s what he repeated to Scott. Someone else might have just said, “It was addressed to you” but the FBI trains its agents to be precise, so he read off the full name. He left out the epithets that followed, though, not thinking it was necessary to read the rest.
“Is that exactly what it said?” Scott asked.
Something in Cyclops’s voice suggested that the form of address was cause for concern, although Martin Kline didn’t know why it would be. He hadn’t conveyed to Cyclops what else was on the envelope, but it seemed Scott must know, based on his tone. He wondered briefly how he could have guessed, but working with mutants these past few years he’d learned not to be surprised by either unusual powers or unexpected knowledge. He just answered the question.
“Well, there was more,” he acknowledged. “I haven’t seen it – I don’t even know what’s in the envelope, or the package. The kidnappers handed it to one of the hostages and said it had the ransom note in it. NYPD wasn’t going to open it until the bomb squad cleared the package and the whole thing was dusted for fingerprints. But they took pictures and called me right away and sent me the photos. I’m looking at them now. The envelope says ‘To Scott Xavier Summers, Faggot Field Leader of the X-Men.’ Sorry.”
“Hey, nothing to be sorry about. Insults are not much compared to kidnapping.” Kline could almost hear Scott’s shrug over the phone. Clearly it wasn’t the use of “faggot” that had caused the tense sound in Cyclops’s voice when he’d asked about the name on the envelope, so maybe he hadn’t known that after all. So what was bugging him? Of course the kidnapping of a close associate was reason enough to sound concerned. Still, it seemed like there was something about the name on the envelope that seemed to be disturbing him particularly. “How did they get Adam out of there?” Scott continued. “Did they hurt him?”
“No, it seems he wasn’t hurt, at least as far as the witnesses saw. We can’t know what happened after they took him, but leaving a ransom note is a good sign. If they want something from you, they’re more likely to keep him alive and well.”
“What more do you know of what happened?”
“The assailants were in the audience, and nobody noticed anything unusual about them at first. The weapons must have been concealed. They let the panel go on for approximately twenty minutes. Witness accounts vary, but we believe there were seven of them. They had split up and were in place in different positions, all around the room. They pulled out their guns and the leader shot once, into the floor. Then they ordered everyone in the room to lie face down on the floor. The audience and all the panelists complied, but some had a view of Greenfield from where they were lying. The witnesses said one man who seemed to be the leader knew who he was and pointed him out to the others. Two of them ordered him to stand and handcuffed his hands behind his back. Then they surrounded him, and marched him out. Two of the assailants stayed a few minutes after the other five exited with Greenfield. They said no one should call the cops for fifteen minutes after they were gone and then they walked out, too. No other shots were fired.”
“Did they wait the fifteen minutes?”
“No. Miriam Greenfield called 911 when they first forced them to the floor. She’s one feisty grandma.”
“That’s our Miriam. She didn’t get caught calling?”
“No, they had no idea she was doing it. She just dialed and then didn’t say anything. She must have covered the phone with her body so the kidnappers didn’t see it and turned down the sound so they couldn’t hear it. The dispatcher couldn’t hear anything. It’s SOP to send officers right away if someone calls 911 and doesn’t speak. They used the GPS in her phone to locate her.”
“Good for Miriam. That was brave of her, and clear-thinking.”
“Yes, but the perpetrators were gone by the time NYPD arrived. PD called the FBI as soon as they realized it was a federal crime and I got called in because of the X-Men connection. That’s pretty much what I know at this point.”
“Thanks. It helps to have as much knowledge as we can.”
“Can you get there soon? They’ll know more by the time you arrive. They’ll brief you and show you the note.”
Scott, of course, agreed that he and Logan would go there right away and added that he’d have Jean-Paul meet them there. He asked Kline to make sure that the officers at the Y were expecting them. Then he quickly called the Outpost while he and Logan put on uniforms and headed for the garage. Passing on the basic information to Jean-Paul, he somehow managed to straddle the line between Field Leader and Concerned Friend.
En route to Manhattan, there were two topics of conversation: the way Scott had been addressed on the presumed ransom note, and the proposed X-Men mission. Logan drove. Scott’s poor night vision meant he avoided driving after dark whenever possible. Also, being a passenger left him free to make phone calls as needed.
“Who are you going to put on the mission?” Logan asked as they got onto the highway.
“Knowing so little complicates the staffing, but you’re right – I need to decide right away. We’d better assemble a team now.” He thought for a minute. “Okay, we don’t know what we’re doing yet, but it seems likely it’ll be a combat mission. We’ve got you, me, and Northstar. I’d better call Jean.”
“You gonna take her into combat now?” Logan sounded incredulous.
“Three weeks post-partum? No way. But she’s the only pilot I’ve got on site. I know she and Sasha were hoping to stay put for the week, but I’m sure they’ll agree to take the Blackbird to Vermont and relieve Storm and Havok – we need them for the mission. Jean and Sasha can bring the baby with them and chaperone the kids up there. Then Storm can fly the jet back here with Alex on board. Or meet us somewhere, as needed.”
“Makes sense. You, me, Northstar, Storm, Havok. Most of our best fighters. Angel?”
“No, he’s in Tokyo. Too long to get back. It’s probably enough without him. In terms of combat powers, anyway. What we really need is a telepath and a shape shifter. If we can find where they took Adam, it would be good to infiltrate and even better to know what they’re thinking.”
“The only shape shifter I know is on the other side.”
“And impersonating a U.S. Senator. Yeah, no joy there.”
“But you’ve got a telepath – Billy Halverson.”
Scott shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“What’s your beef with him?”
“Nothing. I just don’t think he’s cut out for combat. Too gentle or something.”
“Well, he doesn’t have the killer instinct,” Logan agreed, “but he’s got useful powers and he’s quick on his feet. He’s been doing great in team exercises lately. Ask Storm – she’ll tell you he’s making progress. Hell, you don’t have the killer instinct and you’re some fighter.”
“I just worry about accomplishing the mission and getting us all back alive. I leave the ‘killer instinct’ stuff to you. That’s why you and I make such a good team,” Scott added, garnering a chuckle from Logan. He thought a little more. “Do you think Bill’s ready for a combat mission?”
“I don’t know about hand-to-hand combat, but telepathic support while the rest of us do the fighting? Yeah. And we’re sure gonna need that.”
“I know. I’ve been feeling the lack since Charles died and Jean went hors de combat. I don’t think I ever realized how much we relied on telepathic support during combat until we didn’t have it anymore. Now every mission is like when we were fighting Magneto with that damn helmet of his. Fighting when you don’t know what your adversary is thinking is way harder.”
“In a case like this, knowing what they’re thinking might be the difference between getting Adam out alive or dead. Billy’s got great range – farther than any telepaths she’s tested, Jeannie says. We can keep him at a distance from the fighting and he can still tell us what’s going on in their heads.” Logan paused. “Is he close enough to activate for this one? Or did he go back home for the vacation?”
“No, it’s not vacation for him; Columbia’s on a different schedule. He’s in the city; he’s been staying at Warren’s place while Warren’s overseas. I can call him.” He thought a minute. “But if they really are Sacred Honor – if some of them escaped – they might recognize Bill. He got us in there during the war, remember? Infiltrated when he was driving the truck, brought them supplies.”
“Yeah, and then brought them a bunch of invading X-Men. But he’ll know if they’re the same ones he’d seen during the war.”
“True. He can tell by their ‘brain stamps’ whether he’s met anyone before, he says. He can stay out of sight if he’s concerned they’ll recognize him.”
“He’s one fucking powerful psionic. Use him.”
Scott nodded, then made the phone calls necessary to assemble the team. Sasha volunteered to go on the mission, in spite of his new fatherhood, but Cyclops assured him he’d be more useful with Jean and baby Charlotte at the Vermont ski house, relieving Storm and Havok and taking care of the students. Sasha sounded relieved when he acquiesced but told Scott to call right away if there was anything else he wanted from him.
The mustering of a combat team was complete and they were still on the Bronx River Parkway, giving Logan and Scott time to discuss the puzzling way the ransom note was addressed.
“Did you hear what Kline said it says on the envelope?” Scott asked. Logan nodded, his heightened senses having made it easy to hear both sides of the conversation. “Scott Xavier Summers,” Cyclops repeated. “How do you think they came up with that?”
“I don’t know. Where do you use that middle name?”
“I don’t. I don’t use any middle name. Scott’s really my middle name, but I dropped the first name to make it harder to connect with my origins. Hardly anyone knows my full name. Just the original X-Men – well, those who are left: Jean and Warren. Plus Adam. He knows it from when he was investigating. Maybe Jean-Paul, if Adam told him.”
“But who knows the fake name?”
“I don’t know. Same crowd, I’d say. Xavier’s only my middle name on the fake Vermont birth certificate – that’s all. We put it there to make it more plausible that Charles was my father. The other X-Men knew about that when we did it. They didn’t know what happened to my real father, but they knew we were creating a paper trail so I could apply to college and get a passport and all. Nobody knows about the Vermont birth certificate outside of the X-Men and Adam. At least I thought nobody knew. But where would they get that name?”
“It’s not on your passport? Your driver’s license?”
“No. They didn’t require middle names and I figured it was better to leave it out. I didn’t want questions raised about who my father was, you know?”
Logan nodded. “Do you think they just guessed? ‘Cause of the press release when he died, where you said you were his son? Maybe they thought you’d have his last name in there somewhere.”
“I don’t know. That seems farfetched. It’s not like it’s common to have your father’s last name as a middle name.” He shook his head. “I do wish I hadn’t put that in the press release about him being my father. It felt emotionally satisfying at the time to do it, but it’s caused all manner of trouble. It got that horrid obit in the Washington Times, with the remarks about ‘no record of Xavier having fathered or adopted a child’ or something like that. And then that Kappel character after me, looking into my background.”
“So what did he find out? Did he know the fake middle name?”
“I have no idea what he found out. Nothing ever showed up in his paper. I read that rag compulsively for a while there. Tons of paranoid stuff about the X-Men, about our mission, about our connection to the President. But nothing about my personal life or background. So I assumed he didn’t get anywhere with his investigation.”
“Adam found it all.”
“Yeah, and he started with the Vermont birth certificate and then realized it couldn’t be genuine. He knew stuff that that Rick Kappel didn’t, though.” He thought a minute. “Adam knew to go to Indiana – Kappel wouldn’t have had an inkling, I don’t think. Not unless someone told him I’m from Indiana. Which is possible – I never made a secret of where I grew up. Anybody could have told him that without realizing they were compromising me. Only as far as I know he never got to Indiana, never found out the real deal. But he must have looked for some records. Wouldn’t he have found the Vermont birth certificate?”
“How easy was it to find?”
“Hard to say. If he really did some research before writing that there was no record of Charles having fathered a child, you’d think that would involve checking other places Charles had homes, not just Salem Center. I know he knew about the Vermont house – he listed all of the Xavier homes in some awful article on ‘mutant excess’, and said I’d inherited them all. He made me sound like some godawful jetsetting dilettante, flitting between my various houses, living in luxury.”
“Instead of filling them up with kids and never getting a moment of quiet.”
Scott’s wry smile acknowledged the truth of what Logan had said. “And here we finally got some quiet and some privacy and Adam gets snatched.” He thought a bit more. “Back to Rick Kapell. If he knew to look in Vermont, knew roughly how old I am, he’d find the birth certificate. Adam didn’t have any trouble.”
“So maybe he did find it. But if he believed it, then there wasn’t any story, you know? If he thinks it’s real, then he figures the Professor was your father, so there’s nothing to write about. Then the press release is the truth and he’s got diddly.”
Scott shook his head. “If he believed it, then he believed Charles had a child ‘out of wedlock.’ They’d love that at the Washington Times. I can see the headlines. ‘Billionaire Mutant with Illegitimate Son’ ‘X-Man Leader Love Child of Powerful Mutant’ ‘Tainted Mutant Dynasty Influences President.’ They’d eat that stuff up.”
“So I guess he didn’t find it.”
“Or maybe he did,” Scott said slowly, “but he had some reason not to publish. It wasn’t that hard to find – I wish it had been harder.”
“Okay, so maybe he did. Let’s say he found the birth certificate, didn’t know it was fake. Thought he had a scandal to write about. But he didn’t. What would have stopped him, do you think?”
“I don’t know.” Scott thought about it. “Could Kappel be connected somehow with Sacred Honor? Could he be feeding them info? Could they have told him not to print?”
“Why would they do that?”
“Maybe they wanted to use the info themselves, differently. Maybe they were going to blackmail me.”
“You get any blackmail notes lately?”
Scott shook his head. “Still, I think there’s some connection here. I just don’t know what. How did they know where to find Adam, anyway? How did they get into that building with guns?”
“Good questions, Cyclops. I got no answers.”
“Yeah, me neither. We’ll find out more at the debriefing. At least about the kidnapping. But I want to know who’s been snooping around in Vermont, who besides Adam could have found that birth certificate.” Scott thought for a minute. “I’ll have Jean and Sasha right there in Vermont. Sasha said he wanted to help beyond just babysitting. I think I’ll have him do some investigating while he’s up there.” He picked up his phone again.
Scott and Jean-Paul had agreed to meet in Manhattan, at the 92nd Street Y, where the crime scene investigation was ongoing. Although Scott was traveling only a few miles and Jean-Paul over two thousand, it was Northstar who arrived first.
That was no surprise. Jean-Paul had wasted no time. He’d coached Wendy on what to say to Ezra, “Tell him Papa and Daddy are working. He knows ‘work’ is something that makes you go away, but you always come back” – a catch in his voice at the end. That was it and he left. Mutant gifts of flight and super speed meant he was arriving while Scott and Logan were still getting onto the highway.
It wasn’t until Jean-Paul arrived that it occurred to him he should have taken a few more minutes to think about what to bring with him and what to say once he got there. He hadn’t thought coherently about anything, really, his brain taken over by fear. He’d landed right on 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, instead of trying for some out-of-the-way spot as he usually did.
Jean-Paul was shaking with fear as he touched the sidewalk. Probably with cold, too, as he had no coat or hat, but he was supremely unaware of the elements. As oblivious to the gasps and stares of passersby unused to seeing a flying mutant as he was to the weather, Jean-Paul walked into the lobby of the 92nd Street Y. It was a place he’d been to numerous times before, with Adam for lectures and with Ezra for children’s concerts. The security station was there in the lobby as he remembered it, but the usual guards had been replaced by men in the blue uniforms of the NYPD. One of the cops asked him for ID.
Still in the torn jeans and Canadiens jersey he’d been wearing to do repairs around the outpost, Jean-Paul had no wallet, no passport, no identification of any kind. Scott had called ahead to make sure the police on the scene were expecting Northstar, but they knew nothing about him other than his name, his X-Men code name, and the fact that he was Adam’s spouse.
There still mightn’t have been a problem if Jean-Paul had thought the situation through and dealt with it calmly. He could have asked the cops to call Cyclops en route, and had Scott talk to him and then vouch for him, or even had the cops take his picture and send it to Scott’s cell phone, if they wanted to be sure. Or Jean-Paul could have offered information to verify his identity or even asked them what he could do to prove his identity.
He didn't do any of that, at least not at first, when the officer asked for identification. Instead he became belligerent, a belligerence that got the cops’ backs up, as well. Worry bordering on panic about Adam, and the strong feeling that he himself was better equipped to deal with Sacred Honor than either the NYPD or the FBI, made Jean-Paul short-tempered.
“Merde!” he yelled, after the third attempt to assure them he was who he said he was. “My partner could by dying while you’re delaying. I’ve told you enough to make clear that I’m not just some guy off the street. What do I need to tell you about Adam to prove that I’m his lover?”
“Calm down, buddy. We just got here. It don’t matter what you tell us – we don’t know anything about that guy except he was snatched from the panel tonight. You can tell us anything from his favorite breakfast cereal to the size of his dick and it’s not gonna prove anything. We’ve got orders to let in a Jean-Paul Beaubier, code name Northstar” – derisive air quotation marks making clear what New York’s Finest thinks of code names – “and as soon as you show me some ID that proves you’re him I let you in. So far you ain’t shown nothing.”
“I don’t have anything. I came here as soon as I was told my partner was kidnapped.”
“Yeah, from somewhere in Canada. It just happened a couple of hours ago. You want us to believe you got all this way in that time?”
“I’m a mutant! I can fly!” he yelled, rising into the air in demonstration. “And at super speed.”
The cops looked at him, open-mouthed. Jean-Paul descended and the cop who had been speaking to him collected himself and continued. “Okay, you’re a mutant. I’m telling you, I’ve got my orders. I don’t know nothing but what they told me.”
“So stop this bullshit and let me talk to someone who does know something.”
Jean-Paul’s last outburst didn’t persuade the cops at the entrance, but it was loud enough to carry into the conference room just behind the security desk, where the witnesses were being held. Miriam Greenfield – all 4’11” and 110 pounds of her – pushed her way past the cop at the conference room door before he knew what was happening. “Jean-Paul!” she yelled, tears streaming down her face, and then her arms were around him and she was sobbing into his chest.
“It will be okay, Miriam,” he told her, holding her close, his aspect changing instantly from angry to soothing. “We’ll get him back. I swear to you I won’t let them hurt him.” And then to the cops, “This is my mother-in-law. Do you want to check with your colleague at the conference room door that she is who I say? Or can you just let her vouch for me?”
“They won’t let you in?” Miriam’s indignation overwhelmed her fear for Adam’s safety, at least for the moment. As she turned to the men in uniform to give them a piece of her mind, there was a knock at the front door. Through the glass doors, Jean-Paul saw Scott, in an X-Man uniform and with his visor on, being let in by one of the cops.
Cyclops strode over to where Northstar and Adam’s mother were standing and introduced himself to the police officers. Whether it was because of the credentials Scott flashed, his commanding manner, or some combination of the two, it was clear that Scott was instantly in charge.
"I need to speak to the FBI agents immediately," he told the cops, who meekly nodded assent. "They should be expecting me. Agent Kline called ahead."
"They're in one of the offices in the back. I'll take you there." It was the same cop who had told Jean-Paul to calm down.
"Northstar will accompany me," Scott said in a tone that made clear he expected no disagreement. Jean-Paul walked past the cops to Scott's side. Miriam began to follow him. "Miriam," Scott added, "Can you stay here and identify Logan for the officers? He's parking the car and I don't want him to have any trouble getting in when he arrives." She nodded. "Thanks," he said, adding "It's going to be okay. We'll get him back."
She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. “I know you will.”
The policeman escorted Cyclops and Northstar through a corridor and knocked on an office door. A voice inside said, "Come in" and the two of them entered, the uniformed officer heading back. There were two men in suits in the office, one behind a desk and on a phone, the other seated off to the side, with a laptop in front of him. They gestured to Jean-Paul and Scott to sit down in the chairs in front of the desk. The one on the phone said "With you in a moment" and went back to his call. The guy in front of the laptop tapped keys intermittently.
"Good you thought of having Miriam identify Logan," Jean-Paul whispered to Scott, not wanting to interrupt the work of the G-Men. "I had a hell of a time getting in."
"Oh I didn't really need her to do that. I gave them Logan's picture and fingerprints when I arrived. Yours, too. Not in time in your case - sorry." He paused and looked at the G-Men, verifying they were still busy. "I just wanted to keep Miriam occupied while we're being briefed. If I hadn't she would have insisted on sitting in on this. She lived through Adam being kidnapped - I don't think it's good for her to hear about it all over again right now. Plus I don't want to be worrying about protecting her feelings while we're working." He stopped, realizing the implications of what he'd said. "I'm not forgetting what this is like for you, you know that, right? It's just that you're used to it and she's not."
Jean-Paul shrugged. "I don't think I am
used to it. I'm not partnered with a combatant. I can barely stand to sit here and wait when they've got him. I didn't expect..."
"I know. No one could have anticipated this. Look, I’m someone who is partnered with a combatant, who always has been. So listen to me. Here’s what we need to do. This is how we get him out safely: we pay close attention during this briefing; we think; we plan; we act. What we don’t do is feel. You listen to what the G-Men and the cops and the witnesses say; you work with me on the plan and then you follow my orders. You behave just like you would on any other mission. We execute the plan and get him out of there and home safely. Then – and only then – do you get to feel."
"You okay?" Arthur hugged his wife as he said it.
She pulled back and nodded. They sat down side by side on the couch. "Yeah, for now. At least I managed to get through telling Ezra where his papa went, without really telling him anything." She looked around. "We'd better be careful what we say in front of April, too. Little pitchers and all that.”
“I wish we knew more."
"Yeah, me too. Did you get hold of anyone at Xavier's?"
He nodded. "I talked to Rogue while you were with the kids. She’ll make sure someone calls us with updates as they get them there.”
"But she couldn't tell you anything now?"
"No, she doesn't know much more than what's on the news. NYPD and FBI are on-site. Homeland Security’s en route. Martin Kline, the X-Men’s FBI liaison, called Scott and he and Logan met Jean-Paul at the Y. The witnesses’ statements have all been taken. Sacred Honor is claiming responsibility.”
“But it can’t be Sacred Honor. They’re all dead!”
“Yeah, that’s what it said on the news, too. That ‘domestic terrorist group Sacred Honor’ had all died in a ‘mass suicide’ but an NYPD spokesman said a note left at the scene claimed they were responsible for the kidnapping.”
“It wasn’t mass suicide.”
“Well, we know that,” Arthur replied, “but that’s the official story – that they unleashed all their bioterrorism agents on themselves, after they were found out. Like a twenty first century Jonestown. So they’re speculating on the news that some of them declined to drink the koolaid, so to speak, and escaped.”
“Do you think any of them could have gotten out?”
He shook his head. “No, not from how Scott described it at the mission post-mortem. Remember? That disease-causing mutant let go everything he had. No one could even go near the compound without lots of protective equipment when the National Guard went in afterwards. There were no survivors and no sign that anyone had gotten out in time. They checked all the hospitals in the area. Anyone who’d escaped would have needed medical attention.”
Wendy thought for a minute. “Well, then some of them must not have been in the compound at the time.”
“That’s possible. Or it’s a new group, patterning themselves after the old one. These ‘patriot’ militia groups all revere Sacred Honor. They were the most successful. They started a whole war.”
“I think a lot of them still believe that mutants started the war and Sacred Honor just took the fall. That’s the story Marley is giving out – that it wasn’t mass suicide, that the X-Men killed them before they could tell the truth about the mutant plot that started the war, and then planted the evidence that showed Sacred Honor was behind the whole thing.”
“Well, that’s crazy.”
“Of course it is, darling.” She patted his arm. “They were compulsive documenters and the X-Men turned over all the documentation to the Feds. Plus, Adam had infiltrated them years before, so there was a whole history to compare to. It’s like Holocaust denial. People believe what they want to believe.” They sat in silence for a minute.
“They must hate Adam more than anything, whoever they are,” Wendy said. “If not for him, nobody would have known what Sacred Honor was up to. The X-Men wouldn’t have been able to find all that proof." They both thought about that for a minute. "What are they going to do to Adam?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“I don’t know. I hope to God he’s still alive.”
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