She felt like a real bitch for thinking that. And she sure tried hard not to think it when she was working with the Professor on Cerebro. It had been bad enough when they’d been working for hours and getting nowhere and she’d thought to herself “This is so fucking boring I could die.”
“No one ever died of boredom, RoseAnn,” he’d said in that calm, even way of his, as if she’d said it to him out loud. “Sometimes we wish we could,” he’d added with a smile. She’d tried to keep better control on her thoughts when she was with him after that. When he told her that he was trying to stay alive until this mission was finished, she didn’t let herself think “Well, I hope we finish soon, then.” That night, in her bed, though, she not only thought it but imagined herself saying it to him.
Yeah, it was a bitchy thing to think, but she couldn’t help it. She’d never really liked him, never understood why everybody here seemed so crazy about him. He was just using them all, she was sure. Trying to use her, from that first night when he and Mr. Summers had picked her up. “Some day I may want you to use your powers,” he’d told her in the car, before they’d even gotten to the school. And he could barely wait a day before he was trying to make her use them. If not for Mr. Summers, he wouldn’t have backed off and given her time to even know that she could control it. She was sure of that.
But then, later on, when Mr. Summers and Dr. Grey had asked her to work with the Professor to reconstruct Cerebro, she’d agreed gladly. They explained that Professor Xavier was very sick and that nobody but him could operate it the way it was now. “It’s really important that I be able to use Cerebro, too,” Dr. Grey had said. “My powers aren’t as strong as his and... well, the one time I tried I had problems. It’s an essential tool for us, you know. It’s how we found you. We need to reconstruct it while Professor X is well enough to work on it. You’re the only one who can work with him. And we don’t know how much time he’s got.” Her voice cracked at the last part and Mr. Summers had put his arm around her shoulders, protectively. RoseAnn had sat there, embarrassed, while Dr. Grey cried.
“We don’t want to push you, RoseAnn,” Mr. Summers had added. “We’re just not sure how long we have.”
So she’d agreed right away. She wanted to do anything she could to help the X-Men, and she sure wanted to do anything Mr. Summers asked her to. He’d seemed so happy when she’d told him “yes” and he wasn’t seeming happy very often lately. So, she was glad she’d told Mr. Summers and Dr. Grey that she’d help the Professor with Cerebro. Glad until she actually started doing it.
Reconstructing Cerebro was the kind of project that was both hard and boring. RoseAnn didn’t mind hard if something was interesting. That’s why she had had such a good time in Mr. Summers’s Shakespeare seminar. Well, that and how pleased he’d been with her work. Also talking with Jamie about the seminar. That was fun. So, yeah, sometimes reading the plays and the essays about them just made her head hurt while she tried to figure out what they meant, but when she did get it, she felt it was worth all the effort.
She also didn’t mind boring if something was easy. She could – and did – often spend hours doing car repairs that were dull as could be. Didn’t bother her one bit. She could think about whatever she wanted while she did them, and when she was done, well there was that feeling. You could look at a car that everybody thought would never run right and know you fixed it, using nothing but your hands and a few tools and just the knack to know what to do. Plus there was Mr. Summers shaking his head in wonder and saying that it was ridiculous that a girl who could fix anything wrong with a car wasn’t allowed to drive one just because of her age.
But boring and hard? That’s what she just couldn’t abide. Using her mutant power was still so difficult that she ached all over every time she did it. And Professor X needed her to do it for so long and so often. She dreaded that knock on her dorm door or just on her mind, saying that it was time to come back to the big round room for another session. It was mind-numbingly boring, holding pieces of metal together with her brain, in an endless variety of configurations she didn’t even understand, going on for hours at a time. Maybe it could have been a little bit fun if you could think about other stuff while you’re doing it, but it took pretty much all of her concentration. And maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if she were doing it with somebody she liked. Her discomfort in the professor’s presence made the whole thing even harder. So, who could blame her for wanting this to be over?
Wanting the Cerebro reconstruction mission over was one thing, but wanting the Professor dead was something else. She knew it was a horrible thing to wish for, but more and more she found herself wishing for just that. They were just kind of sitting around waiting for it to happen, all the X-Men, she could tell. It made them distracted and short-tempered. Mr. Summers barely had time for her. She’d wanted to talk to him about Jamie, but he was always so short with her she never did. And Dr. Grey had been occupied with her wedding, and then she was just worrying all the time about the Professor, too, it seemed. Neither of them was paying any attention to RoseAnn. So, although she was careful not to let on – either by words or conscious thoughts – during the day, sometimes at night she’d lie in her bed and think, “When he’s gone everything will be back to normal around here.”
Only then he did die and she found out she was wrong. Nothing got back to normal. If anything, it was worse. Everyone was just unhappy all the time. The teachers were just going through the motions in class. Everybody had said that summer term at Xavier’s was fun – rules not so strict, classes as much for entertainment as learning. But that’s not what it was like this summer. RoseAnn thought the kids who had somewhere to go until September were the lucky ones.
People – teachers and kids – were crying right in the middle of stuff. And it seemed like kids were getting into fights all the time, too, and none of the teachers had the patience to deal with that. Or with kids out after curfew or any of the other stuff that they used to just take in their stride. They were all yelling at the kids at the smallest things, losing their tempers over stuff that would have made for a mild rebuke a couple of months ago.
Mr. Summers wasn’t one to lose his temper, at least not with the kids, but he was so busy all the time. All the other kids said that he’d be naming Ms. Monroe as the new Field Leader soon, but it hadn’t happened yet. Cyclops was still Field Leader and Mr. Summers was headmaster now, too. And he was planning a memorial service for Professor X and spending time with all sorts of people who came to see him after the Professor’s death, some of them Very Important, judging by their cars and their entourages. RoseAnn missed him. Plus she wanted to talk to him about Jamie, about her and Jamie.
She stopped by his office often, but he never seemed to be alone, and she didn’t really want to make an appointment. He had cancelled all advisement sessions for the summer, and although he said he was happy to schedule additional meetings with any of the students, she wasn’t sure he meant it. She even tried looking for him in his bedroom one evening, although she’d agreed months ago not to do that anymore. But she just wanted to talk to him when he was alone. Only he wasn’t alone. She could hear his voice and Logan’s from behind the closed door. She didn’t catch the words but the tone made it clear that Mr. Summers did lose his temper sometimes, with some people.
RoseAnn missed Dr. Grey, too. She’d liked talking to her – Mr. Summers was right. She was the kind you could tell things to, and when he’d been in Washington, RoseAnn had confided in her. But since the Professor’s death Dr. Grey wasn’t around much. RoseAnn looked for her in the dining hall, but she was missing meals more often than not. And whenever RoseAnn did see her it was when she was with Mr. Cherevko. Well, that was nothing new, and before it had never stopped RoseAnn from asking to talk to her alone. It hadn’t stopped Dr. Grey from kissing Mr. Cherevko and saying “I’ll catch up with you later, love” and ushering RoseAnn off for a chat. But now that they were married RoseAnn didn’t feel like she could interrupt them like that. And with red eyes and a miserable look on her face all the time, Dr. Grey didn’t look like she felt like chatting, anyway.
So, RoseAnn didn’t feel like she had anybody to talk to about what was happening with Jamie. They were officially boyfriend and girlfriend now – sat together in the dining hall, did their homework sitting in the library at the same table, walked hand in hand in the halls. Kids talked about them as Jamie-and-RoseAnn just like they said Ruby-and-Max.
Mostly it was wonderful. She’d never really had a boyfriend except Nick, and it was great to have a boyfriend who was, well, a boy. A high school kid like her. Yeah, she felt more like she really was a high school kid now. You’d think the classes and the homework and the dorms would do it, but there was something about having a real live boyfriend, to do homework with and go to the movies with and IM from your dorm to his, that made it seem all the more real.
RoseAnn loved talking to Jamie. They talked about school and about being mutants and about what they wanted to do when they grew up. And he’d never tried to do anything more than kiss her, which was just fine with her. Holding hands all the time, sitting together on the couch in the common room watching TV, a sweet goodnight kiss – that all made the whole normal high school kid thing seem even more real. It helped with the verisimilitude, as Mr. Summers would say.
And RoseAnn loved Jamie’s wings. She was fascinated by them, thought they were the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, loved to touch them and look at them, even before she’d seen them in action. When she saw what he looked like flying, she knew she was in love. All her life she’d dreamed of being able to fly. She almost felt like she was right there with Jamie when he rose into the air and swooped and soared.
She had been shocked when he told her about his parents having them cut off, and what they did when that didn’t work. “I’m so lucky,” he’d said.
“Lucky? Lucky that they did that to you? It’s horrible!”
“I meant lucky that they grew back, and that they still work. But, yeah, I guess in some ways it’s lucky they did that. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t have come here. Professor X went to court to make sure they could never take me back, you know. He was my foster father. I think if he lived he would have adopted me, like he did Mr. Summers...”
“Do you think he’ll adopt you?”
“I don’t know. But I can stay here as long as I want, that I know.”
“Yeah, that’s what they tell me, too.”
“I want to stay here as long as you do,” he’d said, looking serious as could be. RoseAnn smiled at him.
But the more Jamie told her about his past the more she worried about what to say about her own. She felt bad not to tell him, but she didn’t want him to know. She wanted to just be that high school kid she was pretending to be, not a washed up whore trying for a new life. Could you become the person you wanted to be if you tried hard enough, pretended hard enough? RoseAnn hoped so. She’d told Dr. Grey about feeling like an imposter at school, had said it was like a new version of the old Gidget movies – Gidget Goes to Mutant High. But more and more, as time went on, she wanted that to be her life. She wanted to be Gidget. A mutant Gidget with a flying Moondoggie.
“Would you like to fly with me?” Jamie asked her one Saturday morning, as they were hanging out on the south lawn.
“Really? How could I do that?”
“I’d hold onto you. Warren does it all the time. He said Mr. Summers was the first person he flew with, when they were kids here. Do you want to see what it feels like?”
He’d told her to stand still and then he’d come up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, being oh so careful not to touch her breasts. Jamie was funny that way. But then he’d gotten hard, all pressed against her like that, and let go, red-faced and not looking at her. “I’m sorry,” he’d managed to say, just barely. “I can’t help it.”
“I don’t mind. Please, can’t you take me anyway? I just want to know what it’s like.”
And he had overcome his embarrassment enough to fly with her - arms around her waist, legs wrapped around hers – although she could feel him hard against her the whole time. It was truly like a dream come true, like she really was flying. Rising into the air she felt a thrill and a sense of recognition – it was exactly like her dreams. The school looked so different from the air, a completely different angle on everything. And the air blowing by them was exhilarating. It was so exciting, such pure joy that it didn’t even occur to her to be scared of falling until after they’d landed.
Feet on the ground now, alone in the enclosed garden, RoseAnn had turned around and hugged Jamie. “That was wonderful!” she’d exclaimed, and kissed him.
“You liked it?”
“I loved it! I want to do something for you, too,” she’d said. And dropped to her knees without even thinking about whether or not this was a good idea.
RoseAnn had managed to find Scott alone in his office the next day, surprisingly so. “Do you have a minute, Mr. Summers?” she’d asked.
“Just about,” he’d answered. “I’ve got someone coming for a meeting in a few minutes, but come on in. What’s up?”
She’d been excited to find him alone and now she didn’t know what to say. She’d fumbled a bit. “Do you know about me and Jamie?” she’d managed finally.
“Yes, of course. I’m sorry, I haven’t been so involved in the school as usual, but some couples are hard to miss.” He smiled almost like he used to. “I’ve been glad to see you two getting close. Two great kids.”
“He took me flying yesterday!”
Scott beamed. “I have a friend with wings. Angel – Mr. Worthington. He flies with me sometimes.”
“I know. Jamie told me.”
“When we were kids and he took me flying for the first time – well I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.”
They smiled in mutual understanding. Then RoseAnn scowled. “It’s great with Jamie. It’s just that... well, I don’t know what to say to him. About, you know. He’s so good to me and he tells me everything. But I worry that he wouldn’t like me anymore if he knew. Do you know what I mean?”
Scott sighed deeply. “Yeah, I know. I don’t know what to tell you, RoseAnn. Jamie’s a great kid, but... I don’t know. Maybe it’s better not to say anything.” He was looking distracted again, retreating into himself. “I never told anyone, when I was a kid,” he added.
“Mr. Summers? Do you mean that you...?”
But then there was a knock on the office door and Mr. Summers called “Come in.” Adam Greenfield entered and Mr. Summers started to introduce him to RoseAnn.
“We know each other. We met at the wedding,” Mr. Greenfield said. “Nice to see you again, RoseAnn.”
“Let’s catch up later,” Mr. Summers had said to her and she’d left.
“What we did yesterday...”
“You don’t mean flying, do you?”
“You liked it, didn’t you?” He just about melted looking at her face. That worried expression, her mouth in a slight pout. Her mouth. Remembering it on him yesterday made him lose his concentration for a minute.
“Of course I liked it. I... I... I’ve never felt anything like that. It’s just...you did that before, didn’t you?” She nodded, frowning. “Is he someone here?”
“The guy you sucked off!” He looked down. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to sound like that. Were you going out with someone at Xavier’s, before me? That’s all I meant.”
“No. I’ve had lunch with a couple of the guys from the Car Club. Played pool with some of them. That kind of thing. Joe kissed me once, but I told him I wasn’t interested in dating.” She touched his arm. “That’s all. Since I’ve been here. You’re the first boy I’ve been interested in. Really.”
“So it was somebody from your old school?” RoseAnn nodded, wondering what she was getting herself into. “Does he know you’re a mutant, your old boyfriend?”
“No. He doesn’t know anything. Not where I am or what happened. I just left.”
“How did you find Xavier’s?”
“They found me. Professor X found me on Cerebro. He and Mr. Summers came and got me.”
“Do your parents know you’re here?”
She shook her head. “They don’t care. They didn’t want me around anyway.”
“You think he wouldn’t like you anymore if he knew?”
“Your old boyfriend.”
“Probably not. He didn’t like mutants.”
“Do you still like him?”
“Not the way I like you.”
Jamie didn’t say anything for a long time. “Did you have sex with him? I mean, not like we did. Did you go all the way?”
RoseAnn took a deep breath. “No,” she said, finally. “He wanted to, but I was scared of getting pregnant. We just did... what I did with you. And some other stuff.”
“What’s his name?”