They had discussed it among themselves, though, in the days between the Professor’s death and the funeral. Rogue had returned to Westchester a few days before Charles’s death, and had stayed around to help out. She had offered to take charge of answering calls to the mansion, to free up the current X-Men for other duties. Quickly inundated with questions she was unable to answer, she had set incoming calls to go directly to voice mail and gone looking for Jean. She found her in the teacher’s lounge, with the other X-Men. All except Scott, who was right then meeting with Father Charlton to make plans for the funeral. “How long has he been in there?” Rogue asked.
“Going on two hours,” Bobby replied, glancing at his watch. “He’s telling him a million stories about the Professor, I bet.”
“And ending every one with ‘don’t forget to put that in the eulogy,’ no doubt,” Warren added, eliciting chuckles of recognition.
“Well, what do you all want me to say?” Rogue added, looking at Jean first, and then casting her eyes around at all of them. She looked at her notes. “They’re all asking when the funeral is. I’ve gotten calls from the White House, heads of state of three – no make that four – foreign countries, senators, heads of major corporations, the President of Yale. They all want to know when the funeral is. What am I supposed to tell them? I can only stall for so long.”
“Tell them the funeral is private,” Jean said firmly, “but there will be a memorial service later and we’ll provide details when we have them.”
“Are you sure?” Rogue brushed a lock of hair off her face with her gloved hand.
Jean nodded. “I’m sure. I’ll talk to Scott. I’ll work it out with him. Let’s just get through the funeral first.”
The meeting had started off so well. It went downhill fast, though, as soon as Miriam and Warren clashed. It wasn’t the first time that had happened. Still, when Charles was alive he’d known how to intercede before things got out of hand. Scott didn’t feel equal to the task.
It was the first Foundation Trustees meeting since the death of Charles Xavier. Scott had scheduled it for Charles’s office, since that’s where they’d always met before, but had decided at the last minute to move it to his own. “We’ll go back to meeting there soon,” he’d told Warren and Miriam. “There’s more room and we have access to all of his files that way. I’m just not quite up to it yet.”
Miriam had patted his hand and offered sympathy and assistance, both of which he’d gratefully accepted. “I’m counting on both of you,” Scott had said. “A lot. I don’t know that I can give the Foundation the attention it needs right now.”
“I’m quite happy to take a larger role,” Warren replied. “I’m sure Miriam is as well.”
“Yes, of course,” she’d said. “I’ll do whatever you want me to, Scotty.” Warren looked up at the “Scotty” but Scott didn’t react. “For the Foundation, for the school. I was very involved in Adam’s education, you know. I’m sure there’s lots I can help with at the Academy. For the X-Men, too, if there’s anything that you think I could do. I don’t suppose everything you do requires superpowers. And Adam can help out, too, with anything you need written or anything you want him to find out for you. He did uncover the information that ended the war, after all,” she added, pride in her voice. “I’d offer Jean-Paul, too, but he’s already working for you.”
Scott smiled at that. “Yes, he is. And thank you. I’m sure I’ll be calling on you in many different capacities, Miriam. I really appreciate all you do, and your willingness to take on more.”
“From each according to his – or her – abilities,” she paraphrased.
“And to each according to his – or her – needs,” Scott continued. “Let us know if we can do anything for you. And I’ll speak to Adam as well.” He hesitated. “Adam and Jean-Paul...”
“They’re having some problems right now,” Miriam said briskly. “Couples do. It’s nothing to worry about.” She pulled out some papers from her bag and passed them to the two men. “Okay, let’s get started. I have plans for new programs listed here. We can go over them and I’ll explain them in greater detail.”
“Just a minute, Miriam,” Warren interrupted. “I think we should go over the finance report first.”
“That can wait. I really want to tell you both about the plans for the new Drop-In Center program for homeless mutant youth. It was your mother’s idea,” she added, turning to Warren.
“Yes, I know,” he said. “She told me about it. But it’s not going to happen. Not this year.”
“What?” Miriam’s tone had gone from excited to antagonistic.
“We just don’t have the funds. We can’t introduce any new programs right now. What we really need to talk about is which ones we’re going to cut back on refunding, or not refund at all.”
“Uh uh.” Miriam was shaking her head and pointing her index finger at Warren, who was silently bristling at her manner. “No way. These kids need the drop in center.”
“Of course they do,” Warren answered, struggling to keep his voice calm. “And I hope we will be able to give it to them. Eventually. Right now we need to talk about how to cut back. Our financial situation is fairly dire.”
Miriam made no effort to sound calm herself. “Dire?” she asked, voice rising. “You’re sitting there in your thousand dollar suit talking about dire financial situations? These kids don’t have homes.”
Warren opened his mouth to answer, but Scott stepped in. “Miriam, why don’t we just hear what Warren has to say?” He turned to him. “How bad is it?”
Warren passed out financial reports. “It’s all in here. It’s not good. We don’t have to sell the Blackbird or rent out the mansion or anything, but we’ve got to go on an austerity program for a while.”
“What happened?” Miriam sounded like she was at least willing to listen to the answer, although her tone was still surly.
Warren shrugged shoulders and wings. “Mostly the War on Mutants happened. Our assets were seized for months. That had a terrible effect on earnings. Production of the Rollabout stopped for eight months, too, and that’s a big part of our revenue.”
“I thought it’s manufactured in Canada,” Miriam said.
“It is, but key parts are made in the U.S. and we didn’t have access to them. Or the funds, with all the U.S. assets seized, to start producing them somewhere else. Customers didn’t wait; they went elsewhere. We’re only starting to get some of them back. I think it will be a year before we’re back to full capacity.
“Plus, there was considerable damage to the building here; Cerebro was destroyed. All of the rebuilding and renovation has been expensive. This looks like it’s just a house, but it’s a lot more than that. There’s a complicated electronic infrastructure, much of which was too damaged to be repaired, so it had to be replaced. Insurance won’t pay for damage caused by acts of war – we were on our own for all the expenses.
“And then there’s the Outpost. It was mostly self-sufficient before the war, but we’ve had to support them a lot in the past year – there was a much larger population than they could handle on their own for the duration.”
“I know,” Scott interjected. “I was there for much of the war myself. We never would have been able to continue operating during the war if not for the Outpost. We need to continue to support them.”
Warren nodded his agreement. “There still are more people there than they can support through their own efforts,” he added, looking at Scott. “A lot of mutants are just not comfortable returning to this country.”
“I can’t say I blame them,” Scott concurred. “We need to provide whatever support Wendy and Arthur need to house those people. Eventually they’ll re-achieve self-sufficiency, but in the mean time, we’re honor bound to help them.”
Warren nodded and continued. “The rescue missions during the war were expensive. All of this with our assets seized. And in the few months since they’ve been released, the whole country has experienced an economic downturn. That’s affected our investments as well. It’s not a pretty picture.”
“Can we get back on our feet?” Scott asked.
“Yes. For sure. It’s just going to take time. We need to follow some austerity measures until then.”
“I don’t need to draw a salary for a while, if that would help,” Scott offered.
“I guess you haven’t looked at your bank balance lately.” Warren smiled. “I cut you off of salary two months ago.” Smiling a little sheepishly he added, “I haven’t drawn one for a year, not since before the war. Charles and I both stopped drawing salary at the same time.”
“I don’t need my trustee fees,” Miriam added.
“Thanks.” Warren continued, after a minute, “I think we should cancel salary for all of the X-Men for a while, actually. Bring it up at the next team meeting – the X-Men are working for room and board for now. I don’t think anyone will object.”
Scott nodded. “How long do you think it will take until we’re solvent?”
“I don’t know. Depends on the market. Six months if we’re lucky. A year or more, if we’re not.” He paused. “There is something else we can do.”
“Well, you know how we’ve been getting requests for X-Men assistance from the federal government, and foreign governments, too.”
“Yes, there have been more of those official mission requests lately. We undertake them when they fit our core vision and we have the resources to do them – the right people with the right powers. I know some of these missions are costly, but I think we have to take them on if they need us.”
“I’m not suggesting not doing them.”
“Well,” and here Warren was clearly hesitating. “Some governments are willing to pay. We’d still only be performing missions we felt were right, but we could get some revenue to offset the costs. There isn’t a lot of competition for what we’ve got to offer. We’ve got unique capabilities. There’s willingness in some quarters to pay well.”
“Absolutely not.” Scott’s tone left no room for argument. “We’re not mercenaries. I’m not betraying Charles’s vision that way.”
Warren sighed. “I was pretty sure you’d say that, but I thought it was worth a try.” He shrugged shoulders and wings. “I’ve still got some Worthington stock. Not a controlling interest, anyway, so it doesn’t matter so much whether or not I hold onto it. I’ll sell some if we need an infusion of cash. We’ll be okay in the long run. It’s a short term problem.”
“Can you just try to get along with her?”
“I am trying!”
“Can you try harder? She does so much for us and she’s got skills we really need.”
“I know she does. I really do respect Miriam. She has great ideas. She works hard. And offers Adam’s and Jean-Paul’s services, as well. Plus, she’s the only person in the world who can get away with calling you ‘Scotty’,” he added, making Scott chuckle. “I’m glad she’s working for us. Well, glad in theory. Very glad when she’s nowhere near me. But when she gives me that look...”
“What look is that?”
“You know, that ‘when the revolution comes, buddy, you’ll be the first to die’ look. I just lose my sense of proportion.” They smiled at each other. “But I’ll try harder.”
“Thanks. And thanks for handling this financial crisis, Warren.”
“Hey, it’s what I do best. That and flying.”
“I’m glad you’re doing both of those for the X-Men. I rely on you a lot, Warren.”
“Like you – and Miriam and Karl – said: from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” They smiled at each other. “Do you think it will help me with Miriam that I’ve learned that one? Maybe she’d let me live after all.”
Scott laughed and then turned serious. “What about your needs, huh? How are you doing?”
“Up and down. Sometimes I just can’t believe he’s really dead, you know?”
“Yes, I know very well.”
“I’ll tell you one thing, though. I’m glad I made up with him and came back here. I thank you for that, Scott. I never would have done it if not for you. This is where I belong. I’m doing what I need to do. But even more than that – I feel like... there was no unfinished business between us. It makes a difference.”
“I’m sure it does.”
“Before he died, he told me... well, he said he was proud of me. I’ll always remember that.”
Scott found Jean in the lab, looking in a microscope. “You busy?” he asked.
She smiled at him. “Time for a break, anyway.”
“What are you working on?”
“X-gene analysis. I figure it’s time to get back to it. I didn’t really have the heart for it after Hank died. And then Anjuli was making progress on the other end, with HFC and so forth. There’s always so much going on here... But it’s been two years. I never meant to leave it this long.” She smiled sadly. “Besides, it gives me something to do, something positive to focus on. I need that now.”
“How are you holding up?”
She shrugged. “Better some times, worse others. You know what the worst is? I forget sometimes. I say something to him, in my head. Something mundane, generally. And it’s not until he doesn’t answer that I remember.” Tears filled her eyes. “I wanted him to feel the baby kick this morning. Opened my brain and my sensations to him, all excited. And then... well, then I remembered.” She sniffed a little, clearly making an effort not to cry. “I’m sorry, Scott. You’ve got your own grief to deal with. You don’t need to hear about mine.”
“Sure I do. A burden shared. Jean, I don’t think anyone else can understand how it is for you and me. Not even Warren and ‘Ro. We need to share this, you and I.” Neither of them said anything for a minute. “You can feel the baby kick? Already? Isn’t that early?”
She nodded. “Yeah, but I’m not so surprised. I’ve seen it before in psionics. We’re more in tune with our bodies or something. Or maybe it’s that we’re in tune with others close to us.” She looked down. “Very close. Growing inside. It’s so amazing to me. I know I sound ridiculous saying that, like I think I’m the first person in the world to have a baby. But I just can’t get over it.” And then she was crying. “Oh Scott! He wanted so much to see this baby. He wanted to stay alive long enough for that. I haven’t seen him wanting anything that much since... I don’t know. Since he wanted us to become the X-Men, I think.”
“I know.” He reached out his arms and they held each other for a minute.
“We’re going to name it after him,” she said, finally.
“Do you know that it’s a boy?”
She shook her head. “Sasha doesn’t want to know, so I went along with that. We’ll let it be a surprise. Charlotte’s a nice name, too.”
“Jean... about the baby.” Scott hesitated, unsure of how to proceed. “I think you should be hors de combat, from here on in. I don’t think you should be taking those kinds of risks, not while you’re pregnant. Maybe not after, either. There’s plenty to do besides combat missions.”
He looked at her anxiously, but was relieved to see her smiling at him. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “I didn’t want to ask, but I thought so, too. And Sasha’s been after me to talk to you about it. But I didn’t want you to feel like I’m not pulling my weight, particularly now.”
“I’d never think that.”
“I can take over more with the school if you want. Work with students more – free you up.”
“That would help. I feel like I’m neglecting the kids a lot lately. I don’t think I realized just how much Charles did until I started trying to do it all,” he added, shaking his head. “I feel in over my head, particularly on some of the political stuff, and it’s the school side that’s suffering. I’ve cancelled advisement sessions for the summer, as usual, but I generally check in on my advisees anyway. And this summer I’m just not doing it.”
“Well, two of them are keeping each other busy.” He looked at her questioningly. “Jamie and RoseAnn. You didn’t know? They’re kind of the couple at school now.”
“I had no idea. I guess that’s how out of it I am.” He thought about it. “What do you think of that?”
“They’re totally adorable together. Both a little intense types, though. Maybe jumping into a more serious relationship than they’re ready for at their age? Broken hearts are just as painful in your teens – if not more so – as they are later.”
“True. It may be puppy love, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re a puppy. Nothing we can do to prevent that, anyway.”
“No, we can just help pick up the pieces if it happens.” She smiled. “Who knows? There’s no reason to predict an unhappy end. Right now they’re in love and happy and it’s infectious. Nice to have some joy around here.”
“You can say that again.”