Epic X-Men #5: Face-to-Face
*5 years ago*
“Hang on, Alex! And don’t look down.”
Scott held Alex tightly as he watched the explosion above him, looking for either of his parents among the falling debris. He was too young to know of how he should have landed with the drifting parachute or the repercussions a head injury such as that would impact his life. Honestly, who could exactly plan for the outcome of what became Scott Summer’s life? Getting up, he ran to the tip of the hill and looked around the area of any possible sign of his parents, or anyone who could help him in this situation. But for the moment, it was just him and Alex. He started to feel dizzy, but he couldn’t allow himself to waver. Alex would be relying on his strength from here on out.
“Alex, its going to be okay. So long as we stick together, we will be fine”, Scott said to his little brother as he walked down the hill.
“Are mom and dad coming back?”, Alex asked his big brother as he couldn’t help the tears fall.
“I don’t know, Alex. Until we figure that out, it’s just gonna be you....and....”, was all Scott out before he fell into darkness.
*5 years later; Anchorage Alaska*
Professor Charles Xavier continued to head down the road that his GPS directed him to. He looked to his right to check on Jean, who simply watched the trees pass by as they drove.
He had only had her as a student for over a week and already he was learning things about Jean he didn’t think were possible.
This situation was incredibly strange. Yesterday, in Cerebro, Jean had swore to him that Scott’s location was this exact area. Charles looked with Cerebro for himself, but could not find anyone that fit Jean’s description of Scott, but letting her use Cerebro revealed the location of newly born mutant in the very vicinity she described. Why Xavier could not locate Scott on his own was a mystery and nowhere else on Earth was Xavier able to find the boy. No, he was definitely there in Alaska like Jean has said before, but if that was the case, why couldn’t Xavier sense him with Cerebro previously? Why could Jean locate him?
It was a conundrum that had perplexed Charles even 5 years ago.....
*5 years ago; two days after the plane crash*
“Roger! Liam! Sara! Julia! Jean! It’s time for breakfast!”
Elaine smiles as she hear the telltale steps of her children thump on the second floor above her head. Turning around, she saw her youngest daughter Jean enter the kitchen first.
Going back to her cooking, Elaine kept an ear out and prepared herself when she heard the bickering of her eldest and second eldest daughters. Meanwhile, her two sons were busy roughhousing as they entered the kitchen, one grappling with the other until Elaine decided enough was enough through a simple look.
”Mom, could you please tell Sara to stay out of my room?”, Julia complained.
“I was not! Why would I want to go in your room?!, Sara argued.
“Because you are nosy and always try to borrow my stuff”, Julia says simply.
”Hey, come on, Jules! It’s no big deal! Sara is a good kid. I would let her in our room if she wanted”, Roger says.
”Oh, please, no one wants to be in your room to begin with. It smells gross with all your junk on the floor and beds”, Julia punctuates with a look of disgust.
”Oh whatever! You need to grow up”, Sara retorted.
“Whatever, loser. Just stay out, until I go to college”, Julia snapped.
”Hey! Watch it! Both of you! Your father is coming home from his business trip and is bringing a guess. I want you both on your best behavior for as long as he is here. That goes for all of you, capische”, Elaine scolds.
With all nodding in agreement, Elaine returns to making more breakfast, in case their guest happens to be famished upon entering. As she does, she hears the continuous giggling and whispering coming from Jean.
“What‘s so funny, dear?”, Elaine asks her daughter.
Jean does not answer immediately, but instead continues to laugh harder.
”Scotty! She can’t have any boys in her room! Mama and daddy would lose it if they were to know about Julia having a boyfriend”, Jean says.
“Uh, hey, kiddo. Who are ya talking, too?”, Roger asks.
“It’s just my new friend, Scotty”, Jean says nonchalantly.
”Ma, I think Jean’s lost it. I figures if anyone was gonna lose their marbles, it would be Julia”, Liam adds.
”Quiet! Your sister is fine. All of you just need to mind your business and leave Jean alone”, Elaine says.
Elaine returns to her cooking afterwards as Jean continued to giggle. Poor, dear, Elaine thought to herself. Ever since Annie left the state for a family vacation, Jean has been keeping to herself. This is probably just a normal way for her to combat the loneliness. Yeah, even kids Jean’s age have imaginary friend. It probably wouldn’t do to dash that creativity of hers.
“Mama?”, Jean calls time her mother.
”Yes, Jean? Would like some more pancakes? Or maybe you’re little friend would like some?”, Elaine offers.
“I’m okay, and Scotty can’t. He lives in an orphanage in Alaska, so he can’t have any”, Jean answers.
”Jean, don’t you think it’s a little, strange that he can speak to you from all the way over there”, Liam asks.
”Yeah, but he’s pretty nice, so why question it? “, Jean explained.
”Well, Scott has quite the backstory. Communicating all the way here from Alaska and living in an orphanage”, Elaine said as she listened to her daughter continue to talk about her friend.
”Yeah. He seemed like he needed a friend, since he had just lost his mom and dad. It was supposed to be him and his brother, but they took his brother from him, so he is pretty bummed”, Jean explained further.
Wow, she came up with all that on her own? Elaine was thoroughly impressed with how vivid Jean’s imagination truly was. Elaine had nothing to worry further about though. Once Annie got back, Jean would go back to her old self. Until then, she would humor Jean‘s imagination for a little while. That is, only if Scott was apart of her imagination, right?
”But it isn’t my imagination. I know Scott is real”, Jean answered.
“Uh, no one said he was”, Julia said with more attitude than she probably should have.
”Except mama did. Didn’t you all here her talk about how she was worried about lonely I was? and that Scott was something I made up to cope with being lonely?”, Jean asked.
Elaine did a double take after hearing that. How did she know that? Did I say it aloud, Elaine thought. No, the others just confirmed that she hadn’t uttered a single word. But if that’s the case, how did Jean know? Perhaps it was a lucky guess.
”No, it wasn’t lucky guess. I heard you say it. Have all of your ears gone out?”, Jean asked everyone around the table, in which they all merely stared. How did she...that was impossible, Elaine thought. Maybe Jean was one of those mutants John was gonna study further at the college?
“Elaine!”, rang John’s voice before closing of a door is heard in the silence of the house. It was then that Elaine ran to embrace her husband. John would be there. He could help her figure this out. “Well, hello to you too, babe.”
“Welcome home. Kids go upstairs, I need to talk to your father”, Elaine called back to them. After hearing their footsteps distance themselves, Elaine lets it out. “John, something- I don’t know what. It‘s Jean. She-“
Before she could finish her thought, she sees a bald-headed man in a wheelchair waiting patiently behind John. That’s right, he had company coming with him to breakfast. The whole commotion with Jean had distracted her so that she completely forgot.
”What do you mean? Why’s wrong with Jean? Sweetheart?”, John said suddenly with worry. “Jean?!”
As Elaine heard Jean’s footsteps, she contemplated what she was gonna do? How would this stranger react to Jean possibly being a mutant. Ever since mutants started popping up, people have begun going around hunting them and people they associate with. Elaine has no doubt John would still love his daughter, but how could Elaine go about telling John with a stranger in the house.
”Hi, sweetheart. How are you doing?”, John asked his little girl.
”I am fine, daddy. I was just doing over-the-weekend homework upstairs”, Jean said. John checked time see if anything looked out of place with Jean, but he found nothing out of the ordinary.
”So, you are okay?”, he once more asked Jean.
”Yeah. But mama? What is a mutant?”, Jean asked her mother before John could dismiss her.
”Hm? W-where did you learn that word, dear?”, Elaine asked.
”You just said it right now. Is it a bad word or something?”, Jean asked, confused on her mother’s behavior.
“If I may chime in, Jean, a mutant is a person like you and I, where they have a special gene that gives them extraordinary abilities. Do you know what gene’s are in science?”, he asks the red-head girl.
”Yeah. I learned about them at school not to long ago. What kind of special abilities?”, Jean asks the man.
“I’m sorry, Charles. I completely forgot my manners for a minute. I’m, honey, Jeannie, Is like you both to meet Professor Charles Xavier. He is a scientist himself and he has been studying how people become mutants. Apparently, they appear as normal humans at first because they are just that”, John explains.
”That is correct, John. From what I discovered, everyone has specific gene that lies dormant. It is around the teenage years that mutants usually gain their special gifts”, Charles explains expertly, showing his knowledge with confidence.
“But, is it possible for them to gain these.....’gifts’, earlier”, Elaine asks tentatively .
“Its a rarity, but not unheard of. And judging by your daughter, I’d say she is one of these rare cases”, Xavier says as he watches Jean talking to someone who appears like they aren’t there as she had at the table earlier.
“Jean”, John starts. “Who are you talking to?”
”My new friend. His name is Scott. I call him Scotty to tease him”, Jean explains. “It’s...a little more difficult to hear him with all the noise from upstairs, though.”
John paused for a moment to listen for noise that never revealed itself. Seeing that something was not right, John turns to his wife and friend in worry. Walking up to them, he starts speaking in a more hushed time away from Jean.
“So, you really think Jean could be a mutant? Like the ones we studied at that lab in Scotland?”, John asks Xavier. “Is she gonna be, alright?”
“I don’t know. Based on my own experience-“
”Wait, wait”, Elaine interrupts him. “You‘re a mutant, too?”
”Indeed, Mrs. Grey. I am. In fact, I am a mutant with the same gift of telepathy that your daughter seems to possess. And John, I really don’t know how Jean is coping, but looking at her now, I’d say she may need some guidance.”
Turning to Jean, a sense of panic begins to takeover as they see Jean clutching her head, every so often crying out in pain. John runs over and takes Jean to Xavier.
”Charles, please, help her”, he begs.
”Set her on the couch. I will see what I can do”, Xavier says as he wheels over to the spot where they would lay Jean...
*Present Day; Anchorage, Alaska*
It was a stressful time, but that day Xavier saw that Jean was too young to deal with her growing mutant abilities. He tried looking for the boy he had encountered in Jean’s mind with Cerebro after I left the Grey’s house with Jean’s powers under control, but his sudden disappearance from her head after blocking off her powers and the fact that Cerebro couldn’t pin point him gave the impression that he possibly was something Jean’s mind fabricated. An illusion of sorts as a sign of her powers activating. But thinking over in hindsight, of course cutting off her telepathy would stop the connection to the boy. Why Xavier gave up so quickly was something Xavier himself couldn’t understand? It was unlike him to wave things off so easily.
Now, it seems that Jean not only found him again, but Cerebro determined him a mutant whose powers have been active for quite some time. Jean has insisted on going with Xavier on the private jet to meet up with Scott as soon as possible. Thinking that Scott could use a familiar face, even if their conversations were telepathic based, would possibly warm Scott up to the idea of coming to the school.
When Xavier saw the orphanage come into view, he decided to test out his telepathic abilities. Reaching out with his mind, he tried to listen to the thoughts of the children running and playing. The result was rather strange. Though he could feel the kids joy as he got closer, from a distance it was incredibly faint. What was stranger still, he could not locate the boy in question when scanning the house.
The orphanage was rather secluded, where no paths actually led to the building. Not only that, but it took some time for Xavier to look up an orphanage in the exact area Jean had described and what he found was more vicariously through tourist websites mentioning an orphanage to pass by to get to a certain tourist attraction. As far as info on the orphanage itself, there had seemed to be no mention of this particularly one, which made it all the stranger to Charles Xavier. Something was up with the place and if Scott were in any danger, Charles would see to it that he do something about not only taking him away from this place, but saving the kids themselves.
After the car was parked, Xavier asked Jean to look for Scott while he go meet with the ones in-charge. Walking inside, Charles walks up to a desk where a young girl seemed to have been on her phone.
”Excuse me, child. Might inquire that you find someone to speak with me?”, Charles asked.
With a look that gave away nothing but her annoyance, she asked disinterestedly, “Whom May I be addressing? And who do you have an appointment with?”
”Charles Xavier and....no one. I heard about this place and came to have a look”, Xavier further explains.
“Well, this isn’t exactly a traditional orphanage. Those don’t exist anymore. This is more or less a stop for kids to stay at before the man or whatever decides what to do with them”, the girl says. “Basically, if you want to adopt any kids, you would need an appointment to go through the catalogue’s and then make an appointment to meet with the foster parents or something. It’s a long process that I really don’t care to go into.”
“I see. Well, I am not per se here to adopt a child. I am here on a different kind of business that may interest your boss if you don’t mind”, Xavier presses.
”.....Hold on a sec”, the girl says before leaving to another room.
As Jean walked the halls of this place, she found herself having quite an uneasy feeling, as if she were being watched. But no matter what she did, she could not get her telepathy to work properly. She really needed to get a better handle on it f she were ever to be more useful than this. She would not be so helpless ever again, especially when a friend may need her help. Walking from room to room, she finally came upon one where there was a boy with sunglasses of a red shade playing with an older looking version of a handheld game system. A Gameboy, perhaps?
“Scott?”, she said, choosing to just go forward with the meeting rather than linger staring at him due to being terrible at conversation in that exact moment of all moments.
The boy looked up at her in surprise, obviously not hearing her come in or expecting her arrival.
”Scott, do you remember who I am?”, Jean asked when he gave no answer. Behind those glasses, Jean couldn’t read his emotions and her telepathy was too unreliable to use at the moment.
”....No. Should I have?”
The question wasn’t meant to be mean, but for some reason it hurt. It sounds stupid to react in such a way, Jean thought. After all, she had gone her whole life not thinking about him until that day in Cerebro. Thinking back though, she remembered him feeling so sad at how his life became. About Alex, his parents....loneliness itself.
”I suppose not. I’m Jean. Jean Grey.”
”How did you know my name? Are you some kind of psychic or something?”
It was a joke, but Jean laughed at the irony instead of how true it was. Ignorant of her thoughts, he smiled anyways. That sight warmed her heart. She remembered how good it felt to hear him laugh in her head, to take away that pain. Just then, a thought came to mind and he suddenly frowned.
“Have you lost your parents? Or did they send you away?”
Remembering suddenly where she was, Jean denied the notions quickly.
”Oh, no, no. I am not- no. I...came here looking for you.”
Scott‘s faces changed into what Jean assumed was confusion behind his bulky glasses. She wasn’t explaining herself right at all. Pull yourself together, Jean told herself with a deep breath.
”What I mean is, me and my mentor, who happens to headmaster a school want to offer you a chance to go to his school.”
Scott, again, looked rather confused at that.
”School? For what? Special needs? Cuz’ I don’t have any....conditions? Not that having conditions is a bad thing. You seem like a perfectly normal girl. Gah! What I mean is-“
Before Scott could finish, he is interrupted by laughter from a group of kids. How long had they been there? Why hadn’t Jean sensed them? This place was odd.
”Look at Summers, strikin‘ out like the loser he is”, an older muscular boy said.
”Like he had a chance to begin with in scoring points with this cutie”, another boy about the same age said.
”Why not? He struck out with Claudine, before”, the third boy pointed out.
”What do you want, Nathan?”, Scott asked the first muscular blonde.
“What? Can’t a guy come hang out with his bestest pal?”, the boy apparently named Nathan said.
“No, he can’t. Now, leave”, Scott ordered.
”Or what? You gonna zap us with your freaky eye lasers again?”, the second boy taunted.
“So, I was right. You are a mutant!”, Jean said suddenly after hearing him.
Scott looked away embarrassed. He had heard about all those things they said on TV about mutants. Ever since Nathan arrived, Scott prayed for him to leave, hoping someone out there would listen. Now that there was cute girl who seemed nice for once and hadn’t met Claudine, Nathan had to go and ruin it.
”Scott, its okay. You’re not alone”, Jean said. Turning to her, Scott saw her smile and he felt as if all that pain he experienced for years had suddenly been worth it for this moment.
”Look, Nathan! Summers is blushing. He really has it bad for this one”, one of the boys had said.
”Well, if you think Summers is cute, than you oughta have pretty low standards, which means I must be your white knight. Or a bad boy. Whatever you prefer”, Nathan told her in a sultry tone grabbing her wrist.
Just as Scott had just about had enough, he got distracted by some books falling from his bookshelf. That didn’t normally happen. Weird.
”Let go of me. Now.”
Just as Jean had uttered the warning, everything in the room began to shake as her Jean’s hair suddenly started defy gravity, flowing wildly as if a gust of wind were blowing carelessly. Books started to fly about, Scott’s pillow flew across the room and hit Nathan square in the head, and Jean‘s eyes started to glow a pinkish hue. Fearing the abnormal going ons, all three boys took off out of the room. The two were alone again and Scott was honestly a little more frightened of the girl than he was previously. After the boys had left though, everything that had been taken from their place was put back in their original spot as if nothing ever happened to begin with.
“So, uh, what were you playing before I got here?”, was all Jean said after a minute long silence.
In the shadows of dark room somewhere in the orphanage, a man smiles at the display Jean had just presented to the boys who antagonized poor Summers.
What was more, she appeared to be as smitten with him as he was with her. It was all too perfect. Finally, the last half that completed Scott Summers has found its way to him and that opportunity would not be squandered.
Yes, the perfect specimens to develop the perfect offspring that would control the future evolution of humanity.