I have hopes that this is the one I’ve been looking for since Hal left. I’ve been watching him for a few months, and will need to do so for a while longer, I think, before I take any action. I’m not putting all my hopes in him; I’m still investigating other possibilities. Still, I have a strong feeling he’s the one.
He’s quite young – not yet sixteen and just came into his powers a few months ago. He has huge promise. A very powerful alpha class mutant – Cerebro lights up the whole room when I’m watching him. His is a mutation I haven’t seen before, a kind of forceful beam that comes out of his eyes. I’ve decided to call it “optic blasts.” Excellent combat potential. And he has an amazing level of self-control. He can’t control his powers yet and he’s managed to keep his eyes closed for months now, since first manifesting. The original manifestation resulted in the death of his father, which is certainly a powerful motivator, but there are very few with that kind of resolve and physical control, regardless of motivation. I think he’ll be able to withstand the training much better than the others could.
Another crucial difference is that this one seems to have no ties to anyone or anywhere. He lost his family and his home when he inadvertently killed his father. He’s living on the streets, surviving through prostitution. Of course that means there’s a risk of HIV, which would certainly rule him out, but he seems to engage mostly in low risk behaviors, and I have hopes that he’s uninfected.
He’s very much alone, which is a good sign, for my purposes. He seems to have no friends, no procurer. There was a man who kept him for a while and provided some protection, but that ended quite suddenly. Now he has nowhere to go, no one to turn to. That’s exactly what’s needed. The demands I make are, I know, onerous. Those I’ve tried to train before left before their training was completed. I’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on them and gotten no return. After Hal, I resolved to find someone who not only had the potential to lead a mutant combat team but also was desperate enough to see my offer as saving him, as a way out of his misery. I think if I wait a little longer, that Christopher Scott Summers, Jr., late of Goodland, Indiana, might be just the person I’m looking for.
It was the first entry and it felt like a physical blow reading it, like he’d been punched in the stomach. Scott remembered Logan asking him if he wanted to know what was in the journals. He had thought he did. Now he was reeling and couldn’t bring himself to turn the page and read more. He stared at the journal, trying to make sense of it. Could it be something other than what it seemed? Hardly. It was Charles’s handwriting, in Charles’s safe in Charles’s office.
Charles? Charles who’d loved him, who’d nurtured him, who’d been his friend, his mentor, eventually his father. Charles, who’d picked sixteen-year-old Scott up off the streets and taught him everything in life worth knowing. Who’d made him Field Leader of the X-Men. Charles, who’d apologized to Scott before he died, told him how sorry he was he hadn’t been able to find him earlier.
Charles had sounded completely sincere, finally talking about the topic they’d never discussed, his illness making them both want no unfinished business between them. They’d finally spoken of Scott’s year as a hustler, living hand-to-mouth on the streets of New York City, a subsistence living of money and food for sex. Charles had told Scott he wished he could have found him earlier, wished he could have saved him that year of misery, deprivation and constant fear. Scott could hear his voice, in this office, lowered with emotion and illness, saying “I always wanted to tell you, but I’ve never known how to say it – I feel like I failed you then.” Scott had reassured him, told him he had nothing to apologize for.
Charles had known where he was all along? Had been waiting for him to be desperate enough? And he’d known what happened to Scott’s father. Did that mean he also knew what happened to Alex? That he let Alex grow up in a prison for juvenile offenders, incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit? And left Scott with the guilt of his brother having been there, let him believe it was his fault it had happened?
It all seemed preposterous, impossible to reconcile with what he knew of the founder of the X-Men, a man he’d loved intensely for close to twenty years and mourned constantly in these months since his death. If Scott had not found them himself, he would have been sure these journals were forgeries, that the Charles Xavier he had known would never have written those words. But somehow he was going to have to face the fact that he had.
This was looking like it might be a very strange training session, Storm thought. Wolverine and Alex – “Havok” he corrected her, which was the first that she heard that he’d chosen a code name – were in the Danger Room when she arrived, half an hour before the session was scheduled to begin. Wolverine never arrived to training early and she wasn’t expecting Havok at all, since his name was clearly on the Disabled List. Officially Alex had had an accident, but it was an open secret that the wounds in his shoulder were left by Logan’s claws, making it even more surprising to find them alone here together.
“Why are you here?” she asked Havok. “Do you wish to observe?”
“I’m not much for spectator sports,” Alex replied. “I’m here to train. I hear I have a lot to learn,” he added, with a sideways glance at Logan.
“Jean tells me you are hors de combat due to your accident,” Storm said, looking at his arm, slung to immobilize his wounded shoulder.
“That’s right,” Havok replied, eyes still on Logan. “I’m not fully capable of fighting at this point, and I wouldn’t want to endanger the team by going on a combat mission. But I can train.”
“Well, if Jean says it’s okay...” her voice trailed off as she noticed the two men glaring at each other. “You’re both early,” she added.
“That’s okay,” Logan jumped in. “We can just spar for a while, until the others get here.”
“Good idea.” Alex grinned as Wolverine’s claws extended. They circled each other a minute. “So, Wolverine,” he added, “tell me something. I know your wounds heal real quick, but before they do – can you feel pain?”
“Yeah. As much as any normal person.”
Alex smiled. “That’s what I was hoping to hear.”
The other X-Men arrived one by one, expecting to train but then stopping to observe the pair sparring in the center of the room. Jean-Paul was the first. Wearing t-shirt and jeans, he walked into the Danger Room with a huge grin on his face, his mind clearly still elsewhere, and began to walk across to the changing room, but was arrested by the sight of Havok and Wolverine in a two-man practice session that looked more like a genuine fight.
It was something to see. To the untrained eye they seemed pretty evenly matched, but Northstar thought he knew otherwise. Numerous missions fighting on the same side left him with the impression that Logan was holding back, whether from concern over doing permanent damage or just out of deference to Alex’s injury, he wasn’t sure. Wolverine managed to dodge a number of Havok’s plasma blasts, but some hit home. When they did they knocked him flat, eliciting low grunts of pain. Still, Logan was on his feet and back in the fray within seconds after each blow. His clothes showed continued evidence of wounds that didn’t last long, but Jean-Paul felt sure would easily have killed another man.
Wolverine’s claws were out some of the time, but he seemed to be connecting more when they weren’t. Alex’s left eye was bloody and closed from a fist in it, and he was staggering a bit, with pain or confusion. His plasma blasts were still strong, but his aim was not as good as it should have been. A few shots missed their mark by inches. Others seemed to release too soon, before Alex meant to shoot.
Other X-Men walked in and stood by the wall with Northstar, watching silently. Angel, already in uniform, came in quietly, wings spreading and flexing but eyes on the pair in the center of the room. Rogue and Iceman entered together, chatting about something, but stopping in mid-sentence. Then Pyro, Sasha – newly code-named Scope, for his microscopic visual capabilities – and Colossus. All watched, and although none spoke, facial expressions and the occasional raised fist led Storm to believe the whole team was rooting for Wolverine.
Last to arrive was Cyclops. Like Northstar he was in civilian clothes, but his outfit was a suit and tie, suggesting he had had a business meeting prior to the session. Scott had turned over the leading of training sessions to Storm, as part of his attempts at delegating some of his former responsibilities in order to allow himself time for the new duties he’d taken on in the wake of Xavier’s death. Still, he attended as many training sessions as he could find time for, believing that training with the team was key to leading them effectively. Seeing Wolverine and Havok in the center of the Danger Room, Scott looked questioningly at Storm. Her calm demeanor and I-can-handle-it glance eased his worries.
The two men were moving as they fought, traveling farther from the observers by the door, heading to the other side of the large room. Alex looked not so steady on his feet and more than once had to wipe the blood away from his eyes to see clearly. Still, he was managing to back Logan into the east wall of the Danger Room. Wolverine was dodging the blasts as he went, backing up warily, eyes darting every which way, looking like he wanted a way out and couldn’t find one. Finally, back to the wall, his options to dodge severely limited, Logan was hit square in the chest from close range, a blast coming out of Alex’s good hand, the one not immobilized in a sling. Logan slumped down to the floor, blood pouring through his ripped uniform, as Havok walked closer, looking like he was moving in for the kill.
But then, suddenly, their positions were reversed. It happened so quickly that the observers on the other side of the room weren’t sure how Wolverine had managed it. All they knew was that now Havok’s good arm was pinned to his side by Logan’s powerful body. The adamantium claws were out again, and Logan appeared to be using them in earnest now. The two outer claws were on either side of Alex’s neck, spearing the wall. The middle one was only partially extended, tip just barely touching Alex. Extending it all the way was clearly going to kill him.
“That will be enough,” Storm said in a voice that managed to be both serene and commanding at the same time. “A fine workout, but it’s time now to start the team session. Havok, Wolverine – go clean yourselves up and put on fresh uniforms. Everyone else who’s not dressed to train – change immediately, as well. Be back here in five minutes, ready to work.”
Scott pulled Warren aside at the end of the training session, as the others went to change. “I’ve got to talk to you,” he said.
“I think he might work out after all,” Warren replied.
“Who?” Scott’s manner was distracted.
Warren laughed. “Your brother. Who else would I be talking about? We’ve got one new X-Man, one team member who came here directly from being released from federal prison, one guy I told you that you were crazy to recruit. Who else would it be?”
“Oh, him. Yeah, I guess he did okay. It’s good he wanted to train, in spite of the injury. Shows a certain level of commitment.”
“He sure held his own against Logan.”
Scott shook his head. “Logan wasn’t even trying. Not until the end there.” He looked around. “Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about.”
“I started reading them. Charles’s journals. I just... I don’t know... They’re... We’ve got to talk. You’ve got to help me make sense of this.”
“Are you okay, Scott?” Warren’s look was fond, concerned.
“I don’t know.”
Warren clapped an arm around his friend’s shoulder. “Tell me about it.”
“Not here. After dinner? My office?”
“Sure.” Another look at Scott’s tortured expression led him to throw his arms around him, giving his friend a bear hug. Scott hugged him back, saying “Thanks. I really do need to talk to you.” They held each other for a minute. It was at that moment that Logan returned to the Danger Room.
This is chapter 5 of a 10-part series. The complete series is being archived here .