GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST AND PRESENT
featuring the Cyclops & the X-Men
Twenty Years Ago
Christmas. It was a hollow holiday really. Giving and receiving of gifts and spending time with one’s family. A great tradition of course. Only if one has a family and those to give and receive of course. None found the holidays harder than those that had nothing to their name. The State Home for Foundlings in Sage, Nebraska was such a place where those types lived. Orphans. Every member of the group living there were orphans. Whether they were abandoned by their parents or their parent’s died, they shared the space. A measly Charlie Brown style Christmas tree stood in the main living area to inspire some holiday cheer. It wasn’t working so well.
As the children laughed and played, one stood away from the rest. Large ruby glasses covered his eyes as the other kids seemed to shy away. Fear was a powerful motivator. Sandy brown hair stood in place as young Scott Summers stuck to his corner. Not interested in partaking in such childish endeavors. Five months had passed since the fateful day that led to the relocation to Nebraska. The flaming plane and the lone parachute. That day was ingrained into his memory. The explosion and the flaming debris. The fall to earth and the red beams from his eyes. The head injury and the hospital stay. All the way up to coming to Nebraska to stay and Dr. Milbury fitting him for the helpful but inconvenient and garish glasses.
Alex ran about the building, a small child without any cares in the world. Scott idly wondered if he had ever been the same. It felt like the answer was a resounding no in that case. Always older than he should have been in personality. That was what Christopher Summers used to jokingly say about his first born son. ‘Son you’re an old man in a young man’s body, wiser than your old man ever will be.’ At the sound of his father’s voice in his head, the boy cracked a small smile. It faded just as quickly.
“Scott! Come quick it’s snowing!”
The enthusiasm of the other boy was almost intoxicating. Almost. Sighing, Scott rose and moved to the window. There were indeed white flakes drifting from the sky. It gave an almost serene feeling to the world around them. “It is.”
“Snowball fight!” The other kids were gone outside, little blond Alex left standing in the hall eyeing his older brother. The young boy moved forward and his gloved hand slid into Scott’s and was clasped tight.
“Santa is coming Scotty.”
“Yes, he is Alex.”
“Can he find us in the orphanage? We’re not at home anymore.”
“Yes, he can find us. He’s magic.”
“Want me to stay inside with you?”
The antsy twitching betrayed the younger Summers desire to dash about the snow. Smiling lightly, Scott shook his head firmly. “No, go outside. Have fun.”
“Okay.” The hand was gone as the door closed behind the fast running Alex. As the snow continued to fall past the glass and cover the world outside, Scott’s smile actually remained. Perhaps the holidays weren’t as bleak as he figured. “Merry Christmas.”
Nine Years Ago
Westchester, New York
Snow falling seemed to be a constant thing when it came to Christmas in the life that Scott had lived up to that point. Nineteen years old and part of a surrogate family he never would have expected. Eleven years before at the age of eight he had nothing but dread towards the future. A year ago it all changed. Xavier had come and changed his life.
“You so can’t catch me Hank!” Alex, now known as Havok to those on the team, ran around the couch as their other teammate Hank, Beast, McCoy leapt over the furniture.
“You’ll have to try harder than that Alex my boy!”
Jean and Kurt sat upon the couch and laughed at the spectacle. Jean, so gorgeous. Red hair in waves down her back. Ever since coming to the school there had been a crush on Scott’s side aimed at her. It wasn’t returned it seemed. She seemed more at ease around his brother and the brainy Hank. Stick in the mud. Wet blanket. Stick up his ass. All were phrases and terms the others jokingly used to refer to the team leader. Perhaps all were true. Uptight and controlled was what he thought a leader had to be.
“Hank, please do be careful of the tapestry. It is quite old…” There was a loud ripping and crashing that silenced the rest of Xavier’s comment for the moment. “…and expensive.”
Hank and Alex slinked off with sheepish looks as Kurt laughed at them. Xavier looked exasperated, and Jean seemed not even moved by all that was going on. Green eyes were starting at him, and he felt as if they were burning their gaze through him. Why was she looking his way of all ways? Shaking it off, Scott moved over to gain more of the Professor’s family patented egg nog.
As the liquid poured into the glass a pale hand with a glass appeared by the bowl. Eyes were secure behind ruby lenses as he allowed them to drift up towards Jean’s semi smiling face. “Please?”
Nodding, almost unconsciously he poured the drink into her glass.
“Your so quiet over in the corner. Why not come join the rest of us?” The glass rose to her red lips as she took almost dainty like sips. The girl was killing him.
“I…uhh…just wanted to be back here. Just more comfortable I guess.”
“Hmm, I suppose. Though I know your brother wishes you would come over. Something about wanting to show his ‘anal retentive’ brother a good time for once.”
“Sounds like Alex.”
“Mm yes. It does. Blue?”
“Your eyes. Blue? Like your brother?”
Hands instinctively rose to the glasses that covered the eyes in question. “Umm no, brown. Like my father.”
“Ahh, Alex is like your mother then?”
“Yeah…I think. I don’t remember her that well most days.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Scott.”
“Not your fault.”
“Still…I can’t imagine not being able to clearly see my mother.”
“Guess that happens in time after their deaths.” A light shrug was given.
Across the room the others began pulling gifts from under the tree, and exchanging gifts as the Professor sat smiling. Sliding a hand into his pocket, Scott clasped the small present within. It was now or never. “I uhh got you something.” The small wrapped box came out and was handed to the red head.
Staring at it quizzically, Jean grasped it and opened the paper very carefully. Not a bit was torn upon her finishing the task. Pulling out the small box, she opened it with clear curiosity upon her face. Within lie a gold and silver locket with dark engravings all around it. A light gasp left her lips.
“Oh Scott, it’s beautiful. I can’t accept something this exquisite.”
“No, I insist.”
Nodding, she gave in easily. “I don’t have anything near as wonderful for you.”
“That’s okay. It’s the thought that counts.”
“Hmm, no that won’t do. Ooh I got it.”
Before he could ask what she had gotten, there was a feeling of something brushing across his brain. It was just like when the Professor spoke to him in the mind or skimmed his thoughts. Eyes locked on Jean as she held her head and concentrated. Flases of memory flew past his minds eye. They were full of images of a lovely woman reaching out to hug him. Katherine Summers. His mother. The visions were vivid and clear as if they had just happened. He could see his mother again. “Mother…how?”
“I uh, dug up your memories of her and brought them to the forefront. So you can see her again. I know it’s not much…”
“It’s perfect Jean. Thank you.”
Feet shuffled, and small smiles remained as they came to a lull in the conversation. Then the shorter girl stood upon her tip toes and placed a light kiss upon his lips and backed up blushing. A painted red finger tip pointed upwards. “Mistletoe.” The green sprig was right above them.
Then she was off to the couch again with the others. As Jean settled back beside Kurt, Scott knew. Knew he had a shot with her. Knew that he would be with her soon enough. Hell he knew she’d be the woman he married. The future sure seemed bright.
Westchester, New York
(Author’s Note: This story takes place post Uncanny X-Men #3)
Christmas. It was a hollow holiday really. Especially when one lost all that had meaning to them. The sounds in the mansion were muted and not as jubilant as the past. The X-Men team chosen by him had prevailed in their battle and now were home. Or at least what was standing in as home for the moment. Time would tell how long he could stay under Xavier’s roof without incident. James and Sam were already at one another’s throats, their different upbringings coming into play. Sooraya didn’t celebrate Christmas. Everett was down in the den on the phone with his mother. The Professor was no doubt off dealing with numerous other things. It was too quiet.
Upon the wall was a picture of times past, the first Christmas of the X-Men in fact. Hank, Alex, Scott, Jean, and Kurt looking so young. Kurt was no doubt off with Logan. Alex was moving on in the world, no doubt on some grand adventure. Hank had left shortly after his transformation. And Jean…Jean was gone. Taken from him forever. Visions of a family and a future were as cold as the swirling snow outside.
“Bah Humbug.” The words slipped from his lips as a sound came from behind. Whirling around with hand upon visor, he paused as Sooraya stood timidly within the doorframe.
“I did not mean to startle you.” Her English was coming along quickly after the Professor’s crash course in the language. There was still an accent and a few broken words, but she learned quickly.
“Usually works better if you don’t sneak up on a person.”
“You are correct.”
“No shit.” Muttering he turned back to the large window. “I thought you were off praying for forgiveness or something from Ali Baba or whatever.”
“Allah. No, no prayer. I do not…what is word…regret what I did. Evil men. Deserve evil punishment.”
“Good to hear. Everett is enough pansy for this team. Don’t need another fucking one around.”
“You are full of anger. Bitterness.”
“Thanks Sherlock Holmes, I really needed you to deduce that. You truly are the greatest detective around.”
“Please tell me I don’t have to explain Sherlock Holmes, or I swear I will…”
“No, why anger?”
“The Professor put you up to this didn’t he?”
“Yeah, sorry but a simple no doesn’t install within me confidence that he didn’t. The manipulative old bastard plays a mean game of puppet master. I should know. I spent ten fucking years doing his bidding.”
“You lose someone close?”
“Don’t even start with me. I’m not kidding girl. I’m not in the mood for third world psychoanalysis.”
Her head dipped slightly beneath the burka hood and veil, before turning away slightly towards the door. She paused and the head moved within the fabric folds some till her eyes pierced through him again. “There are many that will help you. If you but ask. You save me. Favor is owed.” Then she was gone.
“I swear, what the fuck am I in.” A fist pounded on the wall as he thought about the offer to come back to the X-Men and his accepting it. Jean was gone, but yet he came back. A frustrated growl emerged as he grabbed his forgotten about beer bottle and moved down the hall. Catching sight of Sooraya walking ahead he matched her stride. “I’m not gonna suddenly go all Dr. Phil or shit with you. Let’s just call it training. Danger Room five minutes. You’ll get your story.”
Surging ahead, he rounded the corner and was gone. Leaving so fast he missed when she pulled down the veil some and revealed a dazzling smile. The sound of bells filled the halls as the night of Christmas descended all around on a somewhat less darker mansion. It was a start.