I came home on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in mid-October, back in time for my eighteenth birthday. I came home.
It was a quiet advent. Warren was away at school, Hank was off doing interviews for a post-doc at the University of Chicago (which would put him closer to his parents), and Jean was buried in medical school. Only the professor was there to welcome me back, but that was all I needed. I drove through the outer gate and up the gravel drive to find that he'd come out on the wide porch, having sensed my approach. He didn't say anything in my head, didn't wave, but he was there, and it was first time that anyone had been there like that, like a parent, waiting for me to return. I stopped the car in front instead of following the drive around to the garage, and got out. We just looked at each other across fifty feet of pavement, concrete and lawn.
"Welcome home, Scott," he called aloud, and I mounted the steps then, bending to embrace him. He hugged me back. "Park your car and I'll meet you inside."
I nodded and did as he said, lugging bags and boxes back to my room, where I found my fountain and pictures awaiting me. Unpacking enough to fetch the present I'd gotten for Xavier, I went downstairs for dinner, handing over the carved bone whale, a totem done in the Tlingit-Haida style. He examined it with great interest, and later that evening, it went upstairs with him to his own rooms, not to his office. In later years, I came to realize that his office was for gifts from students. His rooms were where he kept family things.
We sat down to eat then, and it was nothing exceptional and everything wonderful because I was home. After that, life returned to a quiet passage of days interrupted by small celebrations and surprises -- the kind of existence that most people lived. This was what 'normal' felt like. Two years ago, I wouldn't have believed this could be my life. I was healthy, I had a future and a home -- I was heir to the whole goddamned estate. I felt . . . okay. Even optimistic on most days.
And in that spirit, I finally applied to colleges -- including Yale. I didn't expect to wind up in 'Sunny New Haven.' It was mostly a ploy to silence Warren, but the fact that I applied at all was a step I wouldn't have been capable of the previous year, and I recognized as much.
Now that I was eighteen, I decided I should get a job as I wasn't in school, but Xavier called me into his office in early November, and we had a frank conversation. "When you were living in Omaha, I understood your need to work, but there's no need for you to take a job now, Scott."
Uncomfortable, I folded my arms and looked out the oak-cased window at the gardens beyond. "I'm not contributing anything. I'm just . . . living off you."
"I'd like to think I'm more than your landlord."
The slight edge in his voice made me turn and look. Nothing showed on his face, but sometimes I could read his tone. "I didn't mean to imply that, professor." I never called him 'father,' but 'professor' had that connotation for me, a peculiar term of endearment to suit our peculiar relationship.
Sighing, he motored over beside me and spoke without looking up. "The families we're born into come with years and years of learned expectation -- for good or bad -- which we don't have. You may have become my son, but you weren't born to that role and don't know what it entails."
I was a little hurt. "What does that have to do with me pulling my own weight? Other kids my age work if they're not going to college -- and some work even if they are."
Backing up the chair a little, he regarded me thoughtfully. "Other 'kids your age' are not a Xavier, even by adoption. Quite honestly, Scott, you don't need an outside job. I don't need for you to have an outside job. I need you to learn to run this estate and assist me. I've been doing it alone a long time. If you want to contribute, that is how you can best contribute. This place doesn't run itself."
I felt my face color. I'd never even considered that. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize --"
"Hush," he said. "Of course you didn't realize. That's why I'm telling you. You needed to prove things to yourself on your own terms. And I think you have."
He searched my face, to see if I'd agree. Slowly, I nodded.
"Very good," he said. "Then it's time to show you what goes on around here." And thus, I embarked on a new adventure, learning to manage a 296-acre estate and a 650-million family trust.
And I discovered that I liked it. I wasn't any good at figuring the stock market, but honestly, neither was the professor; he let his brokers handle that. It was the management aspect that I enjoyed. Parts of estate affairs had been sliding because Xavier couldn't do it all alone, even with a steward and groom and gardener, so I took over the outer estate, the land itself, which had remained intact for over two-hundred years. Xavier wouldn't consider selling off portions, even if few neighbors still had this much of a spread. He seemed to think it might be useful one day -- and perhaps he had a bit of prescience along with his telepathy to foresee the future straits of mutants even then. Nonetheless, it was costing us a pretty penny in property taxes for what was essentially forest and underbrush.
So I proposed that we re-cut the riding trails on the back hundred acres beyond the lake and rent it to the surrounding stables. With a little initial investment in a brush-cutter and MERI crusher plus monthly summer upkeep -- and the appropriate legal contracts to cover insurance -- the land might earn us something.
As my first proactive suggestion, I wasn't sure how it'd go over, but I'd investigated the idea thoroughly, and now held my breath as the professor looked over my plans. Finally, he turned and considered me. "You really think this is a good idea?"
"Given the current rate of development up here, good trail land is getting harder to find. A hundred and nine undeveloped acres is pretty attractive. There's no reason for that land to sit out there unused, and with the lake in between us and it, we'll still be able to maintain our privacy."
I caught the faint twitch of his lips, then he said, "Very well. See to it."
"Yes, sir." And rolling up maps and plans and cost projections, I headed for the door, relieved.
Before I reached it, he called out, "Scott." I turned back. He was smiling now. "A very clever suggestion."
My back straightened unconsciously with pride. "Thank you."
It wasn't long after that, Xavier brought up something else. We'd continued the quasi-formal counseling sessions that we'd been having almost since I'd arrived, but one day he said to me, "I think it time for you to consider a real therapist, Scott."
Taken by surprise, I retorted, "Aren't you a 'real therapist' or is the Ph.D. just for show?"
He simply smiled. "I may be a licensed psychologist, but you've become more than just a patient -- if you ever were that." He had a point; most therapists didn't name their patients as their heirs. "Furthermore, your . . . situation isn't something in which I have a great deal of training. Being a mind-reader does not make one an expert."
Turning my head sideways, I eyed him. My 'situation' sounded annoyingly sterile, and if he'd just said I wasn't his patient, I suddenly felt like one. "You mean you don't have experience dealing with ex-prostitutes and you're not sure what to do with me now."
"You resort to baiting when you feel insecure."
"Don't tell me what I feel --"
"Then don't attempt to bait me."
Annoyed, I rose up to stomp around a bit. We were in his office, and it was a little after noon. The sun was warm, coming in the window past the heavy velveteen curtains. He sat off to one side of the desk and watched me. "I realize," he said after a while when I refused to speak, "that the prospect of going to see a stranger about something this personal is daunting."
"I'd have to explain everything all over again," I replied, flapping my arms in impotent anger. "You already know what happened. Why should I have to tell somebody new?"
"How we talk about our past is an act of self-interpretation, and that's valuable in itself. You spoke of 'telling someone new,' but in fact, Scott, I'm not sure whether you've told anyone yet. We've all learned about your past either by default, or in bits and pieces, or both --"
"I told Warren," I interrupted defensively.
"Perhaps, although I'm not sure how much you told him."
"I told him enough --"
"-- enough to draw his own conclusions so you could avoid explaining. Since the beginning, you've told 'enough' to avoid telling more -- which was fine, at the time. You weren't ready to talk about it."
"And now I am?"
"You lived on your own all summer, traveled to Alaska alone, and proposed a clever new business project for our estate. Yes, I think you are, Scott."
Fists on hips, I just glared for a long moment, then said, "What if I don't want to? It sounds awful. I mean, come on -- 'I was a teenaged prostitute who sucked cock for money.'" I made my tone presumptuous, and thus, ridiculous.
But he refused to let me made a joke of it. "Yes, it does sound -- and was -- awful. And you're able to recognize that now."
Exasperated, I tugged at the back of my hair with one hand. "I knew it then, dammit! Don't you think I knew it then?"
"Of course you knew it. But you were trying to survive, and couldn't afford to think too much about what you were doing, in order to keep doing it -- so you could survive. A Catch-22. You dissociated."
"Well now I don't want to 'sociate' at all. I just want to forget it."
"You're damn right I can't, because you keep bringing it up!"
"Scott, you can't forget it. Do you remember what I told you once? There's no way around it, over it, or under it -- only through it. You have to go through it, in order to truly leave it behind."
"I already went through it!" I screamed. "I lived it! I was the one who got fucked every goddamn day! What do you know about what that feels like, you self-righteous prick? How can you sit there and tell me I have to go through it again?"
I was close to sobbing in fury and hated myself for that, and hated him for pushing me to the brink. "Scott," he said softly, "I don't know what it's like, and that's exactly my point. I don't know, and you need a therapist who does."
Collapsing back into the chair in which I'd first been sitting, I just glared at him from beneath my bangs.
"This isn't something you can shove into a box and ignore," he went on. "I'm amazed by how far you've come; you're a very strong young man. But you're ready to move on."
"You're the one who keeps dragging all this shit back out!"
"No, Scott. You've only begun to deal with 'this shit.' You needed so many other things first -- a sense of safety, a sense of belonging, friends. You couldn't begin to deal with 'this shit' until you had those things. But you've stopped jumping when someone walks into a room behind you, you let people touch you without freezing up, you've quit burning yourself on candles, you eat when you're hungry instead of limiting your food intake to have control over something, and you don't explode in fits of rage over relatively minor annoyances. Most of all, you've stopped being passive about your life."
I blinked; I hadn't been aware he'd been watching so closely -- but of course he had.
"All of that tells me you feel safe; you've reached a point of equilibrium. You're ready."
"Ready for what? To screw everything over by dredging up the past?"
"You're ready to find a firmer foundation. So yes, I think it's time to upset the applecart . . . so you can restack it more securely."
"How about just throwing a tarpaulin over it?" I suggested, only half sarcastically.
"Because if the apples aren't secure, they'll just dribble out from under the cloth," he replied, smiling as if to say, 'Nice try; no cigar.'
We were silent then for some minutes. He wasn't made nervous by silence, which annoyed me. I wish I knew how he could do that. I rubbed my hands together and jiggled my leg, and thought. Finally, I said, "All right. When do you want me to start this therapy? Next week?"
"Oh, nothing so soon. You'll want to talk to therapists yourself and pick one with whom you feel the most comfortable."
"You're not just giving me to someone?"
He frowned. "Scott, I'm not 'giving' you to anyone. I'm not passing you off." I blinked; I hadn't even thought about how I'd phrased it, but it was clear the wording upset him. "I'd like you to find someone who can help you in ways that I cannot. As you yourself noted -- I haven't been through what you have."
Now it was my turn to frown. "I was just being a jackass," I told him.
A small smile touched his features. "Being a jackass or not, you were also being honest. You need a therapist who understands what you're experiencing."
I made a noise of disbelief. "I bet there are just loads of psychologists who used to be hustlers."
He shook his head at me. "Psychologists are often wounded healers, Scott. Like bones, we can become strongest in the very places we were broken."
But I didn't start searching for a therapist immediately. The holiday season had rolled around, and with only the two of us living at the mansion now, Thanksgiving was a quiet affair, as was Christmas. I'd have liked to visit my grandmother, but flying to Alaska in the dead of winter could be problematic, so she suggested I wait for spring. The day after Christmas, Xavier accepted the Grey's invitation to drive up to Annandale-on-Hudson instead. I wasn't enthused. "It won't be for long, Scott," he told me as we loaded luggage into his Rolls, but my anxiety wasn't assuaged. I'd learned to hate holidays at other people's houses.
We took back roads past mansions and stables and older farms, many decorated for the holidays. When we arrived at the Grey's, it was a two-story brick Tudor with a red door and icicle lights hanging from the gables, strings of white lights crowning bushes. At least, I assumed they were white; they all looked pink to me. Parking the Rolls in the drive (and wouldn't that get second glances from the neighbors?), I opened the door to the modified rear seat where the professor's traveling wheelchair had been stowed. The house wasn't handicapped accessible, so the collapsible version was required. Getting it out and opening it, I wheeled it around to his side of the car and helped him into it. He didn't like assistance, but accepted it from me, and that told me as much about my place in his house as my name on the will. He'd have to accept a lot of assistance from me over the next three days, in fact, and I realized that I wasn't the only one for whom this visit meant a certain amount of embarrassment, yet the professor hadn't even mentioned it, and I was suddenly ashamed.
It didn't wind up being as bad as I'd feared. Even if the Greys good-naturedly tried to make us feel 'like family' in a family we weren't a part of -- 'No need for you two to rattle around all alone in that big, old mansion' -- it didn't grate on me the way it had in foster homes. Xavier and I had each other, and we'd already had our family Christmas.
I'd found him waiting for me in the foyer on Christmas Eve, ready for Midnight Mass, just like the year before, and Warren had arrived shortly after with the limo, to pick us up. The previous year, it had been their way of honoring the fact I had a past of my own; I didn't exist solely as an object in their lives. But this year, it'd been less about my past than about our future. Attending Midnight Mass was no longer just something I'd done as a child; it was something we did, and would continue to do, and having that sense of commonality binding us made it easier to be guests in someone else's home at the holidays.
Quaint and eclectically decorated best described the house. It was old, with narrow halls, hardwood floors, and high ceilings. The doorknobs were glass and the sink fixtures in the bathrooms were old. The paneled wooden doors and window casings weren't painted, but I liked best the old French doors that opened onto a back patio full of potted plants. Elaine Grey was an amateur gardener, as well as an amateur antique collector of depression-era glass, which she displayed in Amish pie safes. John Grey collected model trains. They were stacked everywhere from the top of an old (ivory-key) piano to any bookshelf that had a bit of spare room. He also collected picture books, mostly of military history, and that was what led to my last Christmas present that year.
They gave it to me at dinner the final evening, a large rectangular package, which, even wrapped, seemed rather obviously a framed picture. I couldn't imagine what it was. First of all, I was surprised to get a present, at least from anyone besides Jean, since the holiday was over and part of the reason for coming up afterwards, I'd been assured, was so that no one felt obligated to buy presents. But I was further baffled by the explanation. Xavier said, "John stumbled over it quite by accident, in one of his books, and Jean confirmed it."
"And the professor knew who to write, to get hold of a copy," Jean added with a smile. "So it was a joint project."
My curiosity thus piqued, I unwrapped the gift only to find an enlarged copy of a Kodak color photograph that must have dated to the 1970s, showing my father -- my father -- standing at the center of a group of grinning, uniformed crew along with another man. Both were dressed in white flight suits, helmets under arm, and behind them lay the black bulk of an SR-71. The Blackbird.
I had other pictures of my father. Family albums had been among the personal items that social services had collected years ago before the furniture had been auctioned off in an estate sale and the base had reclaimed the house. I had several boxes of these personal items. But there were relatively few photos of my father in uniform, and even fewer of him next to any planes in posed publicity shots. And there were none of him with a Blackbird.
"Where did you find this?" I asked once I'd regained my voice.
In reply, John Grey pulled out a big picture book from where he'd set it under his chair, and passed it around the table to me. It was about the history of Lockheed Martin, titled Skunkworks. One of the pages had been marked with a Post-It tab, and I opened it to find a much smaller, black-and-white version of the framed photo that I held, with the caption, "Maj. Christopher S. Summers, pilot, Maj. John T. Fulton, RSO, and flight crew, 1977." I would have been an infant, I thought idly. There was an eleven-page write-up about the SR-71's development, but no mention of my father outside the photograph.
"I found that in a used book shop about five month ago," John Grey told me, by way of explanation. "I was flipping through it one night, looking for info about reconnaissance during the Cold War, when I happened to glance at the photo caption and something clicked in my head. Jean had told me that your father was a pilot in the air force, and had served in Vietnam. Summers isn't that uncommon a name, but I didn't figure there could be that many USAF pilots named Summers who'd be the right age. So I called Jean to ask if she knew what your father's name and rank had been and if he'd ever flown a Blackbird. She said the name started with a C, and that he'd been a test pilot but she wasn't sure of his rank. So I called Xavier. He confirmed that it had to be your father."
"After that, we contacted the book's author," the professor said, taking up the tale, "to learn where he'd found the original, and see if we might obtain a copy. A few inquiries, a few explanations, and Lockheed Martin sent us a color copy of the original, with their compliments to Major Summers' son."
I was stunned by the story -- stunned first that John Grey had happened over it and remembered that his daughter had a friend named Summers whose father had been a pilot. But even more, I was stunned by the fact that virtual strangers had been willing to help recover this photo. I still wasn't used to anyone doing things for me for free 'with compliments,' and if a request from New York old money had helped, the compliments hadn't been for Dr. Xavier's ward, but for Major Summers' son.
"Thank you," I said finally, not knowing what else to say. Xavier simply nodded, while Jean beamed.
"We were glad to do it, Scott," Dr. Grey said.
Later that evening, I was out back having a smoke when Jean unexpectedly joined me. She'd put on a bulky sweater and mittens and hugged herself while her breath made clouds under the porch light like the smoke from my pipe. "You know," she said by way of greeting, "I'd think winter would be a good motivation to quit."
I just eyed her, then blew smoke rings at the night sky by way of answer. After another minute, I said, "Thanks again for helping get that picture."
"It was exciting," she said with a smile. "I know you have pictures of him --"
"But not many like that," I finished.
We didn't speak then for a bit. I smoked; she looked out across her yard. It was cold, and quiet, and peaceful. Finally, she glanced down and kicked at the icy concrete with the toe of a boot. "You look like him, I think," she said. "It's something about the shape of your face. Do you remember much of what he was like, as a person?"
"Some," I told her, and it was a measure of our friendship that she could ask that so boldly, and I'd answer. "My grandmother told me more. He was pretty wild when he was my age, stubborn and independent. But I remember he liked a good joke, and he'd strike up conversations with strangers in line at the supermarket. He must've been one of those 'life of the party' guys." I shrugged. "Sometimes I can remember him being mad, too. He had a temper, but so did my mom. I remember them screaming at each other, and I'd try to get between and make peace or something."
I stopped; I'd all but forgotten those fights, and how they'd made me feel -- impotent and frightened. "I can remember Mom pushing me aside and telling me it was okay, they were just yelling and they'd get over it." I took a pull on the pipe. "Didn't make me feel better."
She was watching my face. "Is that why you don't really like to argue? Because your parents did?"
I blinked. "Huh?"
"You pull back. Sometimes you get mad at little things that happen and completely blow your top, but you don't get mad at people much. Remember how you told me once that if I was pissed off at you, I should say so? Well, it goes both ways."
I just shrugged.
"Scott . . ."
"You don't want me to get mad at you, okay?"
"Why? Scared you might hurt me?" It was tossed off half as a tease, half as cheerful mockery, and that annoyed me.
"Actually -- yeah."
"Hey, I'm bigger than you, in case you didn't notice. Not by a lot but --" She grinned. I didn't. She really had no idea. I just knocked the ashes out of my pipe and put it back in my pocket while she went on. "Expressing anger, even at people you care about, is normal. I think that's what your mom was --"
I had her slammed up against the wall before she could finish the sentence, one hand in her hair holding her head fast, the other around her narrow throat, and my body crushing hers into brick. She was so surprised, she squeaked. "I didn't learn to fight nice. I learned to fight to survive. I control myself for a damn good reason. If I lost it, I could hurt you, even without the beams. And the last thing I want is to beat-up on my best friend." I let her go, gently, and moved back. "Don't provoke me just to get a reaction. It's not a good idea."
She looked at me as if she'd never seen me before and if that stung, I had to wonder if it might not be a good thing. "I'm not trying to scare you, but sometimes you act like this is an After-School Special. I'm not a nice person, Jean."
The fear washed out of her expression, replaced by annoyance. "No, you're not. Sometimes you're a real son of a bitch. But you're a good person, and that's what matters. I've told you that before, and I'll keep telling you until you believe it. Control is a wonderful thing. But turning yourself into a pressure cooker isn't. You've got to find ways to let off steam, Scott, and I don't think it's just the street that made you that way."
"Maybe a little."
I shook my head and looked away, out over the yard. "Xavier wants me to go to a new shrink. He says I'm 'ready' for it -- whatever the fuck that means -- says he can't do it himself and I need somebody who knows what I'm 'going through.'" I pantomimed air quotes around the last two words.
"He thinks he's too close to it -- to you," she said. "He's afraid he's not objective anymore."
"I know what he's afraid of. But the more I think about it, the more I'm not sure. He says I need to tell someone my story -- that it's important, the telling. But the problem is, if I tell, it's not just my story. I don't exactly have a normal situation, and I don't mean the street stuff. If I tell somebody my story, I'd have to explain not just my own mutation, but Xavier's and Warren's and yours and Hank's. I don't think the professor thought of that."
"I think he probably did. But there's this little thing called 'client-therapist confidentiality.'"
"I know all about that," I told her. "Foster care." She looked embarrassed to have forgotten. "I also know the legal limits. Therapists have to report suspected child abuse, and any threats of harm to anyone. I'm not inclined to off myself, so that's not an issue. And I'm not molesting little boys, so that's not an issue, either. But I did murder someone -- three someones -- and the professor did some kind of weird mojo so I never even got questioned about it."
Her head turned sideways and her jaw tightened. "That was self-defense, and even then, it was an accident. All the details didn't come out because it would have wound up being hugely complicated, but trust me -- there are people in the police force who know exactly what happened, agree it was self-defense, and complied with the deep-sixing. The case was closed, it will never be reopened, and you did not murder anyone, Scott Summers."
I stared at her hard but she met my eyes behind the glasses until I looked away first. "Okay, but there's still the issue of other people's privacy -- including yours."
She hugged herself again and admitted, "I'm not thrilled about you telling your therapist I'm a telepath -- people get freaked out by that. They think the TK's pretty cool, but telepathy?" She shook her head. "Still, you don't necessarily have to tell everything about us, or use our real names. Call me Elizabeth if you want; it's my middle name."
"That might work with you, and Hank -- but Warren's pretty distinctive, pseudonym or not, and using a pseudonym with the professor is pointless."
"The professor is the one who suggested you get a therapist in the first place. You know what I think? I think you're looking for excuses."
I pulled my head back a bit, surprised. "No, I'm not. Those are legitimate concerns --"
"Sure, they are. And they're also pretty easy to work around. You don't have to tell the guy --"
"I'm not going to a guy."
"-- whoever -- everything right off the bat. Feel out the person. And this isn't about me, or War, or Hank. It's about you."
"So you think I should do it, too?"
"Even if I tell her about you?"
"Hell, yeah. You can tell her all about your friend Elizabeth." She wrinkled her nose at me playfully and I put an arm around her, leading her back inside.
We returned to Westchester the next day, and Jean rode down with us. Warren's family was throwing a party for New Years and he'd begged us both to come, so of course we agreed. Xavier had his own shindig, and sent Jean and I off in my Corvette to Warren's party. I was reminded of the time two years before, when the three of us had stolen away to bowl on New Year's Eve. I'd worn my new freedom as awkwardly as my new suit, but tonight, I wore a tux and escorted Jean in a red, backless dress. The party was full of half-sloshed people I didn't know drinking martinis and talking on cell phones, and we spent twenty minutes hunting Warren in the crowd.
"Boy am I glad you're here," he said in an undertone when we found him, and then he dragged us about and introduced us to people I'd never remember. Paparazzi took our pictures, though they were more interested in Warren and Jean than in me, and I was happy to step back out of the camera eye and let them shine. I thought they made a pretty pair, and if Jean wasn't Warren's formal date, when midnight rolled around, she still got a New Year's kiss full on the lips. But she surprised me by turning in Warren's arms to plant one on me, too, where I stood beside them.
We both stayed that night at Warren's, sleeping in his room. In fact, so many guests stayed that rooms ran out, even in that house. Thus, the three of us -- very tipsy on tequila shots -- wound up in Warren's bed because it was the only one left. We stripped out of our fancy clothing and climbed in, passing out more than falling asleep. When I woke the next morning, I found myself squeezed between the two of them, one of Warren's wings covering us all. Maybe I should've been embarrassed -- all I had on was underwear -- but I had to piss too badly and my head hurt. By the time I got out of the bathroom, Warren was up, too, and we traded places. Jean still snored on the sheets, sprawled on her stomach, one of Warren's t-shirts rucked halfway up her back so her red bikinis showed. I plopped down next to her and rolled on my side to look into her face. Her mascara had smudged overnight, and her cheeks were flushed from the room's artificial heat. She had funny ears with almost no lobes, and reaching out, I touched one. Making a noise of protest, she turned her head away, and grinning, I rubbed her bare back instead, feeling the invisible hairs over soft skin. She seemed to like that, and wiggled up against me. We both went back to sleep, my arm around her waist.
We stayed for a week on Long Island. Warren's parents (and the other guests) left the morning after the party, so it was just the three of us in a house full of servants, yet we continued to sleep all tangled up in Warren's bed, bare limbs intertwined under heavy winter blankets. What the servants thought, I have no idea, but no one said anything about our menage-a-trois. Wealth excused eccentricity. Our arrangement was astonishingly platonic, however, simple and pristine, even while being deeply intense. We were young and ardent and sensual, given to impassioned professions and physical affection that stopped just shy of the erotic. Balancing on the cusp of something recklessly complicated, we lived in the now and enjoyed our unconventional triangle. Yet on Sunday, we went our separate ways, knowing even then that we'd never recapture that peculiar alchemy. It belonged to the idealism of young adulthood, which circumstance and social mores would force us to leave behind. Jean went back to med school, Warren went back to Yale, and I returned to Westchester and a list of four therapists to interview. I can't say I was eager.
But I had my questions all ready. The professor had helped me prepare them, though the idea of interviewing a therapist struck me as both amusing and daunting. "You have to feel comfortable with this person," Xavier told me. "You're hiring them; they're not hiring you." So clutching my list, I showed up on a Monday afternoon for my first appointment. The therapist was a woman in her mid-forties and it was a no-go almost from the start. She had all the right credentials and plenty of experience, but I just couldn't talk to her. So I tried the next name on the list, to a similar result. I felt intimidated, or over-sympathized with, and I wondered what was wrong. "Try Jonathan Bennett," Xavier advised. Bennett was the sole male name on my list.
"He's a guy."
"It's a guy."
He smiled faintly. "So am I."
"Mmm," was all he said. But a few minutes later, he added, "You may find it easier to talk to a man about certain things, Scott. Or you may not. But you can't know until you try."
"Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse? Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?" I retorted in a sing-song.
Xavier chuckled, but answered, "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may."
"I do not like green eggs and ham," I retorted, and we didn't talk about it again. I interviewed the third woman, and if I felt neither intimidated nor smothered, I wasn't excited, so on the following Tuesday afternoon, I called the office of Dr. Jonathan Bennett and made an appointment. I didn't tell Xavier, and drove myself alone into the Bronx for the interview, my worn list of questions in hand. It was late in the afternoon, almost suppertime. Intake interviews were often late in the day in case they ran over. It turned out Bennett was black. I'm not sure why that surprised me, but it did.
I asked him about his training, and whether he had any experience with prostitution, not just child sexual abuse. He caught my eyes behind my glasses and said, "What's the difference?"
"I consented? I made money at it?"
"Bullshit." He'd pulled out a pack of cigarettes and now lit one. I'd asked if I could smoke, and he'd said I could smoke if he could smoke. So I had my pipe and he had his Newports. "How old were you, when you hit the street?"
"Yeah. From foster care. But I'm legal now," I added, because I had a young face.
He waved the hand with the cigarette. "So you were fourteen. Not a lot of options for fourteen-year-old runaways. You an addict?"
"No, no." I felt nervous and shifted in the chair. It was overstuffed and comfortable, if not quite a couch. He had a couch, too, but it didn't look much used. The chair was opposite his own seat at a big L-shaped desk, and an end table stood at my right hand. His office was in his house, but distinct; it even had a little waiting room adjoining. The main office where we sat now had been decorated in far-eastern themes with a bamboo screen and rice-paper artwork. He had a fountain with rocks and a bonsai tree. I'd jokingly asked, when I'd arrived, if he were a Buddhist or something, and he'd smiled, replying that he believed in Feng Shui. I didn't know what that was, but didn't ask; I'd look it up later.
"A lot of them were on something," I said now, "but not me. I used a little -- mostly pot, no blow, none of that shit. Bought some acid once -- weird crap. Didn't do that again."
He was nodding. "You like to stay in control." It wasn't really a question.
Glancing down at the pipe in my hand, I raised it. "I guess this counts as an addiction."
"Always a pipe?"
"No. Cigarettes at first."
"Why a pipe now?"
"Pipe tobacco has less of the bad stuff, so it seemed like a smart move. And I like making a pipe." I shrugged.
"Different image, too," he said.
"Yeah, it's a different image," I agreed, expecting an analysis, but he didn't pursue it.
"So you were fourteen, on the lam, with pretty face and not a lot of options --"
"I could have hustled pool. I did for a while. Hustling my ass was easier."
He watched me for long enough to make me uncomfortable and I opened my mouth to reply, but had nothing to say. Or things to say that I didn't want to admit. "I'm not pathetic," I said finally.
"And I don't pity you," he replied. "But even if turning that first trick was your own idea, you didn't have a lot of choices, and if some bills changed hands at the end, that doesn't alter anything."
Xavier had told me the same -- several times -- and intellectually, I knew he was right. But -- "There's a difference between what I did and Johnny Straight-A-Student whose scout master feels him up in a back room," I pointed out.
He shook his head. "More bullshit. Listen to me -- being a hustler doesn't make you any less a survivor of sexual abuse. How it happened, how many times it happened, whether you got paid -- those are details. Important details, but don't let them get in the way of the essentials, okay?"
He continued to watch me through a haze of smoke, then said, "Nothing you say is going to shock me," he went on, "and I'll take you just as seriously as Johnny Straight-A-Student. Nor, for that matter, would I take Johnny Straight-A-Student less seriously than you. That's not how I operate. And a couple other things, while we're on the subject -- I'll never touch you without asking your permission first unless it's to restrain you from hurting yourself, and I'll never touch you intimately in any way. I'll never ask for sexual favors or expect to meet you for drinks after hours. Likewise, if you offer sex, I'll tell you you're not my type." He grinned faintly. "I'm your therapist, not your date."
I'm sure my face was stark, but I was also relieved to have it out on the table; Xavier had done the same thing, when I'd first arrived at the mansion two years ago. It made things easier.
"What you say here will stay here," Bennett went on. "This isn't court-ordered therapy, so I'm not required to report to anyone but you, and you can end the therapy at any time you choose. I hope you won't end it prematurely, but that is your prerogative. It's also your prerogative to look at your file any time you want. I make notes as we talk, mostly for me, but you're welcome to walk in and ask for them, and we'll look at them together.
"Now, because this is voluntary therapy, I'll need you to fill out some forms, and sign an informed consent. I want you to read the consent carefully before --"
"I know all about that stuff. Been there, done that. I'll sign the form."
He snorted, but it sounded more amused than annoyed. "And you'll be real careful about what you say to me for a while."
I raised an eyebrow. We understood each other. But then he shook his head and stubbed out his cigarette. "Look, just to be clear from the beginning, though I doubt you'll believe it for a while -- I'm a lot more interested in your healing than in siccing vice cops on you for past actions, or in going after the guys who solicited you, or anything you did to survive out there. This is about you, not the perps."
That sounded a lot like what Jean had said and I rubbed the bridge of my nose below the glasses. Now came my next hard question. "Okay. Do you know what mutants are? Would it bug you, to work with one? Mutant as in having an X-gene, I mean." While the general population still didn't know much about mutation, the medical community was another matter.
"I've heard of it. You --?"
"Yeah, me." I tapped the glasses. "If I take these off, I'd give you a new window to match that one." I thumbed at the big bay behind me. "I have these eyebeams; they punch holes in things. They're not lasers," I added, because that was the usual assumption. "The glasses control them, though. I'm not dangerous."
"What if the glasses fall off?" But he didn't ask as if he were scared, more as if he were curious.
"Uh -- they don't. They're pretty tight. And I have a visor that fits even tighter. You could knock the glasses off, but they're not going to just fall off. And I'm pretty good at shutting my eyes."
"Then you're blind? Without the glasses?"
"Yeah. You don't want me to open them otherwise. I'm the definition of 'If looks could kill . . .'"
"Must be terrifying."
I just blinked at that. "Uh -- yeah."
"How long have you been stuck with the glasses?"
"A little over a year and a half."
"You can't take them off at all? You have to sleep in them? Shower in them?"
"I have goggles to sleep in, or shower in. I can't turn off the eyebeams, no." I tapped the back of my head. "Brain damage." I shook my head. "It's a long story."
So I told him. Not everything -- not by a long shot. But I told him the basics -- how I'd been orphaned, a little of what had happened to me in foster care, and why I'd run. I explained that I'd wound up at Xavier's because I was a mutant. Bennett asked me point blank if Xavier had ever demanded sexual favors and I said no. He accepted that at face value, though I was pretty sure we'd come back around to it later, just like my old case-worker had. I didn't tell him about Erik Lehnsherr, or how I'd gotten the professor's name, and he didn't ask. I was sure we'd get back to that, too.
But however abbreviated the story, he was the first therapist with whom I'd gotten this far. It seemed I'd found my counselor. That he was male surprised me enough to wonder if Xavier had set me up, so later that evening, I asked the professor, "How do you know Jonathan Bennett?"
He blinked at me. "You went to talk to Jonathan?" I nodded, and he managed to avoid smiling. "I know him by reputation only, Scott, though I spoke to him at length on the phone before putting him on your list."
"So you didn't put his name down because he's, like, some ex-student of yours?"
"Scott, really. I don't know everyone."
"Sometimes it feels like it," I told him. He only chuckled.
I spent the rest of that winter and spring meeting with Bennett once a week. He characterized his therapy style as "whatever works" -- pragmatic, not ideological, and I think that's why I picked him in the first place. He wasn't like the professor, and reminded me of nothing so much as a sleepy-eyed sloe. He'd lean back in his big leather seat with his cigarette and his eyes half-shut and listen as if he were bored, then suddenly speak up with an observation that shocked me with its perceptiveness.
It took me a while to get around to my time on the street. He let me talk about where I was now, and my experiences in Nebraska before I'd run. He was patient. I walked around and around the sixteen-and-a-half months I'd spent hustling, getting a little closer with each session. Still, I resisted. "It was ugly and there's not a lot to tell. For some of it, I was too strung out to remember." Bennett didn't push. He said I had a lot of other things to process.
Yet rather than become more centered as our sessions went on, I became less so, as if I'd regressed. Any little thing set me off, and I had nightmares now, too; some days I felt as if I were drowning. Jean and Warren worried. Xavier didn't, though he was the one I woke up at night, screaming (mentally as much as vocally). He'd come to my room and turn on my CD player to lute music, then sit patiently until I went to sleep again. I have memories of his shadow by the window, the orange burn of his pipe picking out his profile.
The nightmares weren't of my time on the street. They came from earlier -- flashes of the accident that had orphaned me, or the helplessness of sleeping in that split-level in midtown Omaha, my second foster home after the family in Kearney had been forced by economics to give us up. I'd been the new boy in a house with three foster kids already, and a big, big secret. I'd been shockingly naive, having no idea grown men did things like that to eight-year-old girls. But I wasn't a stupid kid, and it didn't take long for me to put the pieces together. I tried talking to the other boys in the house, who told me to keep my mouth shut -- at least it wasn't us. I'd hear his feet coming down the hall to the girls' room, and she'd cry afterwards, like a sacrificial lamb. So one night I took a butcher knife to bed and waited until I heard him, then snuck out to stab the son of a bitch while in the act. After that, the truth spilled, like his blood all over the floor, and my arms and chest and face. It spurts, if you hit an artery. He didn't die, though, so I got off with just assault in exchange for my testimony. I'd had a good lawyer, and the judge had been sympathetic, so I was sent to Boys' Town, and anger-management therapy, instead of juvie.
I told Bennett about that and he replied dryly, "Gee -- can't imagine why you might have been pissed off." That's another reason I liked Jon. He was irreverent. "But what would you do differently today?"
"Use a camera instead of a knife," I replied without hesitation, and Bennett laughed.
"Why didn't you go to the police, though?"
"Tyler wouldn't," I said. "I promised to go with her and back her up, but she wouldn't go. And if she wouldn't go, and the other boys wouldn't testify, what was the point in me doing it? Yeah, now I know they have to check out that stuff, but I didn't know that then, and if she wouldn't testify against him, the charges wouldn't have stuck. At least stabbing him when he was in her bedroom with his pants down kinda proved my accusation."
Bennett grew unexpectedly serious. "That's important, Scott, to recognize what you knew at the time and how it contributed to your decision, and not to blame yourself for what you didn't know -- but also to have learned from the experience. I think you realize now that stabbing the guy wasn't the best choice you could've made. But there's a difference between learning from an experience -- recognizing what went wrong, or at least what could have gone better -- and being weighed down by guilt from it. One's proactive, the other's handicapping."
That was how our conversations would go, and thus, he gradually pulled me around to new ways of thinking about myself, and what had happened to me. "You've been in combat, Scott. And like a lot of combat vets, you're dealing with post-traumatic stress."
It was a comparison I'd never have thought of. "You've got to be kidding me. Combat vets wouldn't want compared to hustlers."
"Doesn't make it invalid. Like war, prostitution creates its own world where reality gets skewed in order for you to continue doing what you're doing, and those outside the life have a hard time understanding it, just like non-military have a hard time understanding the military mindset. In both cases, it's tough to re-enter the 'normal' world. In the military, though, they put you through discharge classes called 'military separation' -- teach you how to become a civilian. Exit classes for prostitution are few and far between, and mostly for women."
I snorted, astonished. "You mean there are such things?"
"Oh, yes. But the life conspires to keep you from hearing about the programs, or trying to leave." He pulled open his top drawer and rummaged a moment, then found a business card, which he tossed to me. Streetlight, the card said. "I think you're past a lot of what they offer, in terms of services, but you might be interested in attending their group meetings."
I shook my head, but I shoved the card in the pocket of my shirt. I had an idea. I was young then, and impulsive, but I was also by nature disinclined to navel gazing. I felt a need to do something. So three days after that session, I showed up in Streetlight's Manhattan office. It was a small suite on the seventh floor of a building not far from Times Square. I asked if the director was there, and a woman came out. "I'm Andrea Chow. How can I help you?" She was striking with features half-Asian and half-black, and cautious, too, hovering near the edge of a counter -- probably with a finger on a concealed cop buzzer in case I was an angry pimp. "I'm not here to hurt anybody," I told her. "I heard about this place from a guy named Jonathan Bennett."
"Yes, I know Jon." Chow eyed me. "Did he send you here to ask about programs?"
"No, he just told me about it. I wondered if you had more cards -- like this?" I held up the one he'd given me.
One delicate eyebrow went up, but she nodded to her secretary, who turned to a cabinet to get out a box. I was offered a handful of business cards, which I took and pocketed. "Thanks." They had brochures, too, and I took some of those. At no point did I say I'd been in the trade, and the two seemed content to let me be semi-anonymous. They didn't even ask my name.
"People don't know about this place," I told them. "Well, I mean, not the right people."
Chow smiled, as if trying not to be offended. "We work at getting the word out."
"Yeah. And I'm going to help." I offered her my hand. "Thanks."
She shook it. "Be careful."
"I know my way around."
"I'm sure you do," she replied easily. "Still be careful."
Nodding, I left, then went to meet Jean for supper. The professor knew I was in the city, but I hadn't told him what I was really doing, and seeing Jean gave me an alibi of sorts. Why I thought I needed one, or kept my plans to myself, I couldn't have said, but I wanted to do this on my own. I remembered how it had felt to rescue Warren two years ago -- how powerful that had made me feel, how worthy -- and I wanted that feeling back. I'd been insanely lucky, and couldn't stop thinking that I might still be out there, or be dead, if not for the chance of my DNA. So now, I felt pushed to act.
I went back to the 'fag stroll' I'd worked. Streets were generally segregated by sex, and divided up by pimps, most of whom specialized in girls or boys, but a few kept both, like Jack. I figured I'd start with people I'd known. Turnover is heavy, but I assumed I'd still recognize a few faces; I just wasn't sure where they'd gone. After Jack had died, his stable would have scattered with much choosing up at clubs. So I drove about slowly, looking for a familiar face. My red, antique Corvette screamed 'money,' and some of the guys whistled or waved. I stayed in the car, relying on the shadow and my glasses for anonymity. I was quite sure I was marked.
Finally, I spotted a kid about my own age named Jeremy but called Stone. He'd dyed his hair pink, and he was thinner, and taller, but I recognized his prominent nose under the slick glow of neon lights. Pulling the car over to the curb, I beckoned and he popped the friend with whom he was standing, then strutted over to the car. "Yo."
Leaning down, he peered in the window. His eyes were puffy, like he'd been snorting a little too much before work. "Whoa -- Scott? What the hell? Get out of here, man."
"I'm working, you ass."
"So? I'll give you break. Get in."
He breathed out, but walked around to the other side of the car and got in. "You are so dead. And I am so fucked if anybody sees us together."
"We won't go where anybody's gonna see us."
"I don't got a lot of time, man. I have to make quota."
"How's a bill?"
He gaped. "Fuck. You got that to throw around? Word is you punked Jack's ass and squared. You looking to get back in?"
"No way in hell." I drove the car out of the Village and headed towards SoCo, the area south of Columbia, along Amsterdam.. We didn't talk. He'd turned his head to watch lights and people and cars, as if apathetic, or too spaced to concentrate on conversation. After a bit, I said, "I did square. And this is my own car. And I have a bill to throw you, just for talking to me for half an hour. You want to know how to get out, too?"
This was my version of a flash roll -- the conspicuous display by pimps looking to bump the girls or boys of other pimps. Jeremy probably wasn't my best choice for a first try -- he seemed to have turned into a crackhead -- but he was the first one I'd recognized. Now, he didn't reply as we pulled into a garage, parked, and got out. I'd dressed for tonight, too -- Jean had asked earlier what was the occasion -- in fine linen pants and a black silk shirt with a tie. It wasn't the staid wear I kept most of the time, but it wasn't too flashy. Just expensive. Like the car. Jeremy looked me up and down as we walked to Mama Joy's, where we fought the cramped crowd for coffee, then went strolling down Broadway. I pulled a brochure out of my pocket and a small stack of cards, handing them to him. "If you want out, go here," I said. "Even if you don't want out, take these and pass them around. Other people may."
He glanced at the cards, then the brochure, and made a face. "You're full of shit, you know that? You wanna get me jacked up? I'm with the Colonel now."
"You don't have to be with anybody. You can leave, Jeremy."
He jerked his head around when I called him by his given name. "You were half-square then and you're really square now. Who's gonna fucking pay my leaving fee? You got ten grand in your breast pocket? Or you gonna come down and kill the Colonel, too?" He threw the cards and brochure back at me; they scattered in the wind, trampled instantly under the feet of other pedestrians. "Blow it out your shit hole. I'm not stupid. I know what happens to people who run -- same thing that happened to Marianna." He stressed the name and I flinched, looking away. Leaning in, he said, "Give me my fee and then leave me alone, diss-bitch. I'll take the subway."
His words burned. Weaving between streams of moving people, I made my way over to lean against the brick wall of a shoe store, closed at this hour, and pulled out my wallet and the promised hundred, which I folded around one of the cards and put it inside the napkin I was carrying from Mama Joy's. He'd followed but avoided watching me, acting jumpy and scanning the crowd as if there might be cops about. Now that he'd decided I really was on the other side of the street and decidedly uncool, he just wanted his first break so he could get back to work. I handed him the napkin. "Don't spend your cut on snow," I told him.
"Bite me," he said, pocketing the bill (with card), and left. Sighing, deflated, I finished my coffee and meandered back towards my car.
I tried a few more times -- I was stubborn in addition to impulsive -- but other receptions were similar. By the fourth try, no one would even come near the car. Some of the boys made cat-calls and shot birds my way. Word gets around. I'd gone from the guy with enough juice to take down Jack O' Diamonds to the equivalent of a vice cop. So I tried a different car; that just got spotted, too. Furious, I stalked down to the dock when I got back to the mansion that final night, stack of useless cards in hand, and flung them all into Breakstone Lake. Maybe the fish would listen better.
Xavier, of course, found out about it. At dinner the next night, one of the Streetlight brochures was set next to my plate. Sitting down, I picked it up and turned it to face where he sat across from me. The table was a big, long thing, but we always sat at one end, across from each other, no one occupying the head seat. He was cutting a pork chop and didn't look up. "Are you pissed?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Other than littering the lake, no." He raised his eyes then, and put a bite of meat in his mouth.
"I wasn't trying to go behind your back or anything, I just --"
"Thought I would tell you not to go back down there."
"Do you want to talk about what happened that led to confetti on the lake?"
I sighed explosively and dropped my fork onto the china plate, and told him. He listened intently and ate his pork and asparagus. "A commendable effort," he said when I'd finished.
"But a total waste of my time."
"How would you have responded two years ago?"
"I'd have listened! That's why I went down there -- back then, I didn't know programs like this existed!"
He didn't reply, just went back to his pork chop. So of course, I had to think about it, and I remembered what Jeremy had called me -- "half-square even then." It was true. I'd spent my extra cash on books instead of drugs or alcohol. I couldn't judge what others would do based on what I'd have done.
Finished with his dinner, he set aside his fork and folded his hands, studying me a moment. "You weren't especially typical, no, but even so, imagine your response if you'd been offered a stack of cards to pass around to fellow hustlers about a program for exiting prostitution? What would you have said to the person who offered them?"
"But I lived it!" I protested instead of answering. "I'm not some . . . born-again evangelist trying to 'save their souls.' I know. I know what it's like, and I know you can get out."
He was relentless. "Think, Scott. You stayed here at the mansion two-and-a-half years ago only because I offered you sanctuary a long way from the street. You didn't think your pimp could find you -- or a stack of cards in your apartment, or hear you talking to others about leaving the life."
"And I was wrong, wasn't I?" I said bitterly. "He did find me."
His voice softened. "That wasn't my point. And I don't blame you for that."
"But it was my fault. Just like it was my fault Marianna died." Rising, I walked away from the table. Jeremy had been right. Why would anyone trust me? I got people killed.
"Scott!" he called after. I ignored him. Scott, you tried to help then, just like you're trying now. That's admirable. But instead of playing the Lone Ranger, why don't you check the 'volunteer opportunities' in that brochure? You may have experience on the street, but they have experience getting people off of it.
So I went back to Streetlight and talked to the director about volunteering. I'd learn later that I wasn't the first ex-prostitute to have tried what I had -- with as little success -- and that the majority of their clients came from court-ordered referrals. It took a radical interruption, like an arrest or hospitalization, before most people were willing to change. I'd learn to measure success in smaller increments, and that I couldn't rush others through a change of perspective that had taken me two and a half years to achieve.
Yet I wasn't at all sure what I had to offer. "They have these 'guest speakers' at their group sessions," I told Bennett at my session that week. "People who used to be in the life come to talk about leaving. But I hate public speaking, and it's not like my experience is normal. How many multi-millionaires are going to swoop down and offer them a room in his mansion?"
Jon shook his head. "You're less atypical than you think. Yeah, some details are a bit out there, but you've been through the foster care system, you've done the group-home thing, you were a runaway, and you turned tricks to survive on the street. Those are experiences you share with a lot of kids. There are ten thousand others out there like you, and I wish to hell I was exaggerating numbers, but I'm not. Girls and boys. Baby trade."
"But how I got out -- that's different."
"Yes and no. You got offered a chance -- and you took it. You got the legal snarls ironed out and you learned new ways of coping. You changed how you dressed, and how you thought about yourself. You made friends. Then you earned your own money at a legit job, and kept your own apartment. That's the part that matters. That's what others need to hear. And that's what you were essentially trying to tell your old friends from the street -- here's a chance, take it -- but they weren't ready yet to hear you. These people in the program -- they might be ready. They've got a chance now, too. What they need is to see somebody who took advantage of his chance and made it out.'"
"I'm no good at standing up in front of people period, never mind to talk about that."
"So don't do it that way. I'm not sure you're ready for that, either. One-on-one is a good place to start. You might even consider joining one of the affirmation groups yourself."
"Why? I've been out two-and-a-half years."
"And you're only now re-connecting with people who know what it was like. It's important to be able to talk to others so you don't feel as if you're isolated. Like the mutant thing. You've adjusted to that remarkably well -- but you've been surrounded by people who share the experience and helped you cope. This is no different. You could always try a group for a couple sessions, and if you didn't connect, you could drop back to individual therapy."
That made me sit up. "You mean I'd stop seeing you?" I hadn't realized until that moment how much I'd come to depend on seeing him once a week to straighten out my head.
"No, no." He waved a hand in negation. "I'm not suggesting group replace individual therapy. I'm suggesting you try that in addition to individual therapy. They offer different things. You're going through some intense feelings right now, and memories. I think you might benefit from both."
So I tried group therapy as well as individual, and also spent one extra night a week, helping out at Streetlight. I washed dishes after the Wednesday Night Supper, and talked to the participants. Jon had been right -- I wasn't peculiar, or I was less peculiar than I'd thought. Perspective is an amazing thing, and I was finally starting to gain it with regard to that part of my life. By mid-April, I was able to say, "Yeah, I used to be a hustler, but I quit. I'm going to college next year."
Which college I was going to remained to be seen, however. I'd already received acceptances from a couple schools, but on April 16th, I found a thick envelope lying across my plate when I arrived for dinner with the professor, Yale's seal in the upper left-hand corner. And even if I hadn't given much thought to it since I'd applied -- I'd had too many other things on my mind -- my stomach still dropped as I picked up the letter and looked at Xavier, seated opposite me. "Do you know what it says?"
"I don't open your mail," he replied with a slight smile.
Grabbing a case knife, I slit one end of the envelope and pulled out the papers inside, unfolding the top one. My hand shook as I read: We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the Class of 2000 . . .
"They said yes." I sank down into my seat. "Yale said yes."
Xavier pushed his cell phone across the table. "Why don't you call Warren? I think he'll want to know."
Notes: Please note that just as Scott's background has changed closer to the comic, so has Jean's. Her parents aren't the same people here as depicted in Accidental and other stories. This Jean is rather more psychologically stable, just as Scott is less so. Many thanks to Heatherly (as always) for her assistance with the specifics of sexual abuse counseling. Jonathan Bennett is lovingly dedicated to a former supervisor of mine, Imogene; and for his image, I simply had to use one of the best actors (imo) ever to grace the TV screen -- Andre Braugher. Streetlight isn't a real New York program, but such programs do exist in larger US and Canadian cities. Just to prevent confusion, the year is 1996; Scott would belong to the graduating class of 2000.
Story XIV is "Lux et veritas"
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Title: Green Eggs and Ham (Special 13)
Series Name: SPECIAL: The Genesis of Cyclops
Author: Minisinoo [email] [website]
Details: Series | 62k | 10/16/04
Characters: Scott, Xavier, Jon Bennett (OC)
Notes: This entire series is ADULT.
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