Archive: If you must, let me know.
Author's Note: The rating is for language, mainly and a little blood. Hmmm. Not sure exactly. Blame Vic for getting me started on Movieverse again, and Eoen for one little twist
Disclaimer: Uh-huh. Still not mine. Damn.
His arm ached and they needed a new blackboard for the atrium. Scott grimaced slightly and tried to ignore the pain as he wrote trig functions on the freestanding blackboard, bracing the shaking surface with his left hand. The flex in the board made writing with his wounded right arm more painful. He didn't deliberately court pain, but taking anything stronger than aspirin wasn't really an option. Not with his mutant power. Or with his responsibilities. He couldn't afford to have his wits dulled at all.
"Mr. Summers," came a voice he didn't hear very often. He turned around, brow rising as he faced the pale, red-haired boy who had spoken. Gavin didn't fit in very well, even at a school for mutants. And Scott was still trying to figure out why.
"Gavin?" he acknowledged.
"Mr. Summers, you're bleeding."
One of the girls stood up, gasping. Kitty. Scott turned his gaze on her and she sat down again with a hard plop in her seat. Then he looked down at the sleeve of his sweater. He should have known better than to wear a light color. A dark stain had spread in a line across it at where he knew the bottom edge of the bandage to be.
Scott sighed and moved toward the table at the front of the room, gaze flicking to the clock over the door. Class was almost over anyway. Anxious faces looked back at him from the two rows of filled seats. They knew about the team. There was no hiding it from them. And Scott had never made the mistake of assuming teenagers were stupid.
"Thank you, Gavin," he said calmly, meeting the boy's eyes for a moment. He found a surprisingly mature appraisal there. "There was an accident in the gym yesterday. I must have popped a stitch."
"Cool. Stitches?" St. John said, eyes brightening as he leaned closer with teenage boy goulishness. "How many?" Scott let a wry smile cross his mouth. Then sobered slightly. Time for another kind of lesson. He perched on the edge of the table, looking over the kids. Making sure of his audience.
"Stitches aren't cool, John," he said quietly, unbuttoning his cardigan. He shrugged out of it carefully, not wanting to pull off the bandage on his arm yet. "They hurt like hell." He heard nervous laughter from some of the kids. He didn't swear in front of them often.
He'd chosen to wear a medium color tee shirt under his sweater today, so the sleeves were short. Some of the kids were standing now to get a better look. The bandage ran the length of his forearm, tape curling away in spots where his normal activity had rubbed it against his sweater. Blood had soaked the end near his elbow, where he knew the deepest part of the wound to be.
Scott reached over and grabbed the box of tissue from the table, pulling out several sheets and folding them into a pad. He laid the improvised wadding on his thigh, then grabbed a dangling piece of tape and ripped the bandage away in several steady jerks. He heard hissed in breaths and groans from the kids just for that. Then gasps as the line of the still-angry wound dotted with stitches was revealed. He was right. He'd popped the bottom stitch and blood was steadily oozing from the gap.
"Twenty-six, to answer your question, John," he said, examining the rest of the stitches to make sure he hadn't strained any others. They looked solid. He picked up the pad of tissue and pressed it to the bloody part, careful not to press too hard.
He looked up, gauging the various reactions. Most of the kids were staring in a kind of horrified fascination; a few looked away, squeamish. Kitty looked ill. Gavin was watching his face, rather than his arm. He met the boy's look steadily for a moment, then scanned the rest of the class.
"This is one consequence of what we do," he said, voice low and even. "If you fight, you can get hurt. Even if you just train, you can get hurt."
"So why do it?" Bobby Drake asked, his expression confused. Bobby's parents had placed him at Xavier's. Bobby still had a home that would accept him. So did Kitty. Most of the others didn't. Scott looked around the room, picking out faces. Jubilee they'd rescued from the streets of Los Angeles. Rogue had been on the run. St. John's parents had put him here, but had made it clear he wasn't welcome home again. Gavin as well.
"Because each of you are worth it," Scott said, pinning each of them in turn with his gaze. Rogue put her hands over her mouth, stifling a soft sob. He knew she still had nightmares about what had happened in the Statue of Liberty. He did too.
"It was Logan, wasn't it?" Rogue's soft voice asked. Scott looked at her and shrugged.
"That's not important. What I want you all to understand is that this isn't a game. It's deadly serious. But we fight only when we have to, when all other options have been exhausted."
"But you fight," Gavin said, pale eyes bright. Surprising him again. Scott met his gaze and nodded.
"Yes," he said simply. Then the door to the atrium opened and he looked up at Ororo as she entered. Her eyes widened when she saw his unbandaged arm, but she came forward calmly.
"Time for History, guys," she said as she approached. Students moved back to seats with groans and mutters, the spell broken. She stopped beside Scott, setting her books and papers down on the table beside him. Glancing at his arm.
"You'd better get Jean to look at that again," she said quietly, her dark eyes concerned. Her gaze flickered to the chattering kids and he nodded at her reassuringly. She didn't look appeased. He knew she'd have more questions to field. And while it didn't seem to be something she was looking forward to, he knew she would handle it well.
Scott stood up and smiled at her. "I was planning on it."
* * * * *
At dinner that night, Scott had more than his share of curious, admiring followers. Jean watched, amused, as several boys plied him with questions about his wound and how he'd gotten it. He patiently answered most of them, passing along the ones to her that he felt needed a doctor's perspective. The only thing he wouldn't discuss in detail was how it had happened. Logan sat at the far end of the table, scowling at them all. Eating with a fierce concentration. Scott ignored him.
After shooing the boys away finally so both he and they could eat dinner, Ororo shot Scott a dark look.
"Thanks for bailing on me today," she said, a touch of humor in her voice. "They wanted to know everything about fighting. It turned into a synopsis of military history. Iím going to have to get a whole new set of textbooks."
"Sorry, but I was bleeding, you know," Scott grinned back at her. She smiled and rolled her eyes at him in amused disgust. Then sobered and poked at the salad on her plate with sudden concentration. As if the tomatoes were going to run away if she didn't keep them in line.
"I think you should go talk to Gavin," she said after a moment, something in her tone alerting him to trouble. Scott sobered immediately, shooting Jean a surprised look. She just shrugged, equally puzzled.
"I'd rather you just did. He asked some. . . disturbing things in class."
"Oh?" he said, raising an eyebrow. Ororo wasn't easily spooked, but she seemed uneasy. Scott looked down the table to the Professor. His mentor raised a brow in reply.
//Gavin is stable enough, Scott,// the professor said in his head. //And you know I prefer not to pry. I suggest you take Ororo's advice and visit him tonight.//
He nodded shortly, noting in passing Logan's dark frown. The Wolverine was still uneasy around telepathy. "I'll take care of it, 'Ro."
* * * * *
It was study time. The hour after dinner was allotted as quiet time. To be used as each student saw fit, but most used it as a time to catch up on homework. So that they could join in evening activities. Falling behind got you suspended from the rec room. A fate worse than death to most teenagers.
Scott made his way up the back stairs in the boy's wing, heading for the top floor. Gavin's room was at the back side of the mansion, in the corner. Actually one of the bigger rooms. When he'd first arrived, Gavin had run through roommates like no other. It wasn't because of fighting or anything to do with his mutation, but after a few days, most of the boy's they'd put in with him had asked to be moved. They'd never given a solid reason, just that he was weird and they didn't want to room with him any more. But that had all stopped when Julio arrived a few months ago. Julio was two years Gavin's junior, but they somehow clicked. The two boys were mostly inseparable outside class.
Scott paused when he heard footsteps behind him on the stairs. He wasn't surprised at all to find Logan following him.
Logan stopped on the landing below, glaring up at him.
"Avoiding me?" Logan said, his tone sharp, mocking.
"No. I'm busy," Scott said, watching him calmly. Aware that his knuckles had gone white on the railing beside him.
"Nothing's settled between us."
"It can wait," he said, then turned and continued up the stairs. Logan snarled at him, but stayed where he was. Scott approached Gavin's closed door, and paused outside. Head cocked, he listened for a moment. Logan hadn't left. He shrugged and knocked on the door.
"Yeah?" a voice called through the door. Not Gavin's.
"It's Mr. Summers, Julio, can I come in for a moment?"
He opened the door and stepped inside. Took a moment to let his eyes adjust to the low lighting before closing the door behind him. The only illumination came from a desk lamp. A slender dark-haired Latino boy sat at one of the two desks in the room, papers and books spread out in front of him. He stared at Scott with barely veiled hostility. Julio was always like that. He didn't trust any of the adults much. He'd had it rough before he came to them. They still didn't know exactly how rough, but Scott had his suspicions.
"Studying?" Scott asked with a quirk of his lips.
"Yeah," the boy said, not relaxing his rigid posture. Scott glanced quickly around the room. Gavin was nowhere to be seen.
"Where's your roommate?"
"Julio," Scott said quietly, gentle reproach in his voice as he cocked his head at him. Julio glared back. Scott just waited, face calm. Then the boy seemed to wilt slightly. The thin shoulders shrugged carelessly.
"Gym probably, like always," the dark-haired boy said. Disgust in his tone.
"The gym?" Scott asked, surprised. Julio's dark eyes flashed with anger again. So defensive. It made Scott's heart ache.
"Yeah, he can use the gym during study time if he wants!"
"It's okay, Julio," Scott said soothingly. "I just didn't realize. I'll go talk to him there." Thinking that it would be better to talk to Gavin without Julio around anyway. He had turned around and had his hand on the doorknob before Julio's voice stopped him.
"He's not in trouble, is he?" The voice was low, scared. Scott looked over his shoulder. Julio's eyes were wide, and the lamp on the desk began to shake, then the desk rattled. The boy's mutant power was to generate force waves. Kind of like earthquakes.
"No, he's not, Julio. Take it easy," Scott said soothingly, turning around to face him again, hands spread wide. "I just need to talk to him about something that happened in class today. No big deal." The shaking eased, but the boy's expression stayed wary.
"I'll ask him," Julio said defiantly, warning him. Scott smiled reassuringly, trying to keep the expression easy, but feeling rather grim inside.
"You go ahead and do that, Julio, but he might not want to talk about it. It's up to him. But Iím telling you he's not in trouble," Scott said firmly. Julio stared at him, his expression far too hard for a fifteen year old boy, then finally nodded.
"Okay, Mr. Summers," he said. Scott nodded back, then left the room.
He stood outside the door for a moment, frowning. Julio needed more help than they could give him. There were so few of them on the teaching staff that they just didn't have enough time to spend with every kid, even with the Professor's telepathic monitoring. But they couldn't send him to an outside therapist, for obvious reasons. Julio's attitude had improved greatly once they moved him into Gavin's room. Both boys had done better. But there was still a long way for them to go. He looked up into Logan's eyes.
Logan was standing, tense and wary, at the top of the stairs. His gaze flicked to the closed door behind Scott.
"Felt it. What's up with the kid?"
Knowing that the doors weren't that thick and that any of the boys could come down the hall at any time, Scott moved toward him, heading for the stairs beyond. Logan watched his approach intently. Scott passed him without answering. Logan's hand shot out and grabbed his upper arm. Scott's head snapped around and he pierced Logan with a furious look through his glasses that made the other man rear back in surprise.
"Not here. And never around the kids," Scott said, his voice low and dangerous. "If you've got a problem with me, it stays private. Anything goes down in front of them and I'll take you out myself." Logan's hand tightened painfully on his arm and his eyes narrowed to angry slits, then he flushed with something like embarrassment. Scott stared him down, his blood pounding in his ears.
Logan's gaze finally fell and he stepped away. Scott continued down the stairs. Alone.
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