body link=##FF3300 body vlink=#660099

What Dreams May Come: Chapter Thirteen

Author's note: Xavier had seen many futures through the mind of a mighty being, which path will this lead to? Post Ascension, Phoenix Saga.

"Really Erik, how are you?"

"A broken leg, some bruises and a badly wounded head, Professor."

Charles Xavier's eyes darted from the leg in the huge cast to the matching white bandages on the man's head. There were still faint pale pink blotches on the cloth. He would have to get Hank to examine the stitches and change the bandages later. "Please, call me Charles. Do you remember what happened?"

Erik shook his head lightly. "I don't have any memory of what happened." There was a pause, before he added. "Where am I? Who are you people?"

"I am Professor Charles Xavier. I run a school for the gifted. You suffered a nasty fall after an...attack. We brought you here for medical attention. The doctor who attended to you is one of my staff, Dr Henry McCoy."

"Why are you helping me?"

"You have a special condition. If you were sent to a hospital, I'm afraid they wouldn't be able to attend to...your special needs." Xavier leaned forward in his wheelchair and met Erik's eyes. Dammit Erik, what game are you trying to play?

"What is this special condition you speak of?"

"You are a mutant, like all of us at this Institute. Each of us has a super-human ability."

"Ah," Erik voiced, as if enlightened. "It explains for my ability to attract metal."

"More precisely, you are able to manipulate magnetic currents, thus gaining total control over all forms of electromagnetism. With this, you are able to levitate yourself and manipulate all metallic objects, project concussive blasts and generate force fields." Xavier narrated this from the back of his mind. Did Magneto really lose his mind (pun intended)?

Erik nodded at selected moments. "How do you know so much about me Charles? Who are you? Who am I?"

Xavier was taken aback for a second. How was he going to broach this subject? "I...knew you Erik. We were...are friends from a long way back. Don't you remember anything? Your wife and children? How your powers manifested?" He was half-worried and half in disbelief.

And there was the inevitable denial of any knowledge of these. Erik seemingly struggled to remember even the slightest hint of his past, but his mind was just a blank. Regrettably, he shook his head and Xavier was half-saddened when realisation that Erik could be permanently amnesiac.

"What kind of a man was I, Charles?" Erik asked, breaking the silence.

Xavier looked up from his steepled fingers. "Are you sure you want to know? Maybe some things are just better left unsaid."

"You can't hide it from me Charles. I read the papers. I was referred to as 'mad', 'merciless' and" -- Erik raised his eyebrow -- "'Magneto'? I infer that it is a derivative of magnet and effectively describes my powers."

Charles Xavier could not help but chuckle lightly at that statement.

***

The professor found Hank McCoy scribbling on Jean's chart when he wheeled into her observation ward.

"How is she Hank?"

Sadly, Hank shook his head. "There has been no change. I don't know how long this is going to last. I'm afraid, truthfully speaking, she might not recover."

"Don't lose hope. We must have faith that Jean will find her way back to us."

There was a soft rapping on the (open) door.

"Come in Scott." Xavier turned his head to see the young man walk in. He rarely wore his signature pair of ruby quartz glasses now that he had found a new security in the dreaded inhibitor. "What can I do for you?" He sensed the tenseness radiating from Scott.

"I have made a decision, sir. I'll be returning to CUNY to complete the rest of my studies."

Xavier smiled. "That's good news to hear, Scott. When will you be leaving?"

"Tomorrow. I already missed technically a week's worth of classes, so the sooner the better."

Xavier nodded.

"I'd like to focus my time on studying, so I'd probably be spending the whole of the next two years on campus, if that's alright with you, sir."

"Of course it's alright Scott. Take as long as you need." He had deep wounds that needed healing, and some time away from the mansion would also do him a great deal of good. "I'm glad you're starting to think positively again."

"Thank you, sir."

"Do you require any special arrangements to be made?"

"It's all been taken care of, Professor."

Xavier nodded; Scott was Scott.

"I just have one special request, sir."

"Yes, Scott?"

"Take good care of Jean for me."

"We will Scott. Rest assured."

"Thank you."

"Charles, the CAT scans for Erik are ready, would you like to examine them?" Hank diverted the attention from Jean.

"Yes, we should. Lead the way, Hank."

The two adults exited the room, leaving Scott to spend some quiet moments with Jean.

***

A few more weeks passed and life at the Institute returned to normal. Student recruitment also grew sizeably in numbers, and Logan and Ororo constantly found the students to be quite a handful. There was never a dull moment, but then again, there has not been a dull moment since the first day.

"We must be getting old," Ororo joked. On this bright sunny morning, they were putting the new recruits through a training exercise.

"Tell me about it," Logan replied, keeping a watchful eye on all the activity that was going on. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a couple of students fiddling around playfully with some of the equipment. "Hey, hey! Whatcha guys think yer doing?" He barked. "Drake! Yer s'posed ta be watchin' 'em!"

"Sorry Mr Logan!" He heard Bobby call from a distance.

Logan slapped his forehead. "Who put this kid in charge?"

"I believe it was Charles," Ororo stated matter-of-factly.

He groaned. "Who in ta right mind would wanna become an instructor anyway? Must be hangin' around One-Eye too long."

"Well, you have to give Bobby some credit. Besides, this is coming from an instructor himself." Ororo laughed.

"Oh shut up 'Ro."

***

"Are you sure this is the right room?" Clarice looked nervously at Theresa.

"Aye, that's what both the cook and Mr McCoy said."

The institute's chambermaid Mariah had been down with the flu, and the cook had called upon the first student to deliver breakfast to a certain guest residing in the mansion. The two students happened to be Clarice and Theresa, who were incidentally looking to hiding from that morning's training session.

"They said he's a nasty old man, and a 'bad guy'." Clarice steadied the tray in her hands and looked at the door. "You knock." She urged the other girl.

"I'm not gonna knock. Ye can knock if ye want to."

"I'm carrying the tray, so you have to knock." Clarice stuck her tongue out.

Theresa sighed as she lifted her arm and rapped softly on the door three times. There was no answer.

"You've gotta knock harder than that."

Theresa frowned and proceeded to deliver a set of harder knocks when the doorknob suddenly turned and the door opened. Startled, she let out a small shriek before covering her mouth abruptly. Clarice was thankful the glass didn't shatter.

"Mariah?"

The two girls peered in the doorway. "She's...erm...sick today. The cook sent us instead." Clarice almost squeaked.

"Well then, come on in girls. I don't bite but I'm starved. I would have gone down to get breakfast myself, but Dr McCoy insisted I should not move my leg yet." With ease, he floated the metal tray from Clarice's hands to him.

"You're telekinetic?" Curious, Clarice inquired.

"No, I'm only good with metal. I can manipulate magnetic currents." Demonstrating, he lifted the metal fork and floated it to his fingers. The girls looked on. "So, what can you two do?"

"I'm a teleporter," Clarice chirped.

"Well, I..." Theresa stalled for a little while, and got a nudge from Clarice. "I can scream real loud and make ye deaf and shatter glass and stuff. Not a very good power, is it?"

"It's not that. We're all different in our own way, powers or not, we have to learn to accept them." Erik spoke after swallowing a mouthful of his breakfast.

"Yeah, be glad you don't have to walk around in purple skin and pointy ears."

"There yer are, I've been lookin' all o'er fer ya girls," Logan appeared in the doorway, surprising the girls.

"Mr Logan! We were..."

"Skippin' my trainin' sessions again? 'Mr Drake' must be goin' soft on ya."

"Sorry, Mr Logan."

Logan looked at Erik. "Are they botherin' ya?"

"No," Erik sipped at his tea. "And you're being too hard on your students. They're terrified of you." From his window, he could watch the expanse of the Institute's field, where daily morning sessions took place.

"Try takin' 'em fer a run," Logan growled under his breath.

"Hmm...is that a challenge? Maybe I should," Erik chuckled as he saw Logan lead the girls away.

***

Later that night, Logan related his encounter with Erik to Ororo over supper, or rather, tea and coffee.

"I'm tellin' ya 'Ro, that's what he said," Logan looked up from his coffee mug. Rina sat beside him, contented with fiddling with her mug.

"I think the coffee could be getting to you. You shouldn't drink coffee at night," Ororo raised an eyebrow and set her tea down. "People can change Logan. Deep down inside, Erik has a good heart."

"It's more like I heard Charles tell me he lost his mind, literally," Logan half-laughed. Ororo eyed him sternly. He turned his attention to Rina, who was fidgeting restlessly in her seat. Ever since she joined the X-Men, she was practically trailing Logan all over the mansion.

Well, they're two of a kind; who could blame her? Wolverines stick together, Ororo mused as she finished what was left of her tea. As she got up to rinse her mug, the two ferals rose and stretched.

"We're goin' out fer a night prowl, see ya tomorrow 'Ro."

"Goodnight you two."

With that, they disappeared into the night.

***

Fresh from Spring Break, the students were gathered in the Danger Room for their first training session of the new term. There were talks of a new instructor joining the Institute.

After Logan and Ororo had gathered the students and got them to settle down, the professor made his announcement. "Good morning students. This morning's training session will begin shortly" -- this drew a groan from the entire student population -- "But first, I would like to introduce a new member of our teaching staff." From a corner, a silver-haired man stepped forward. A few of the older students gasped.

Xavier continued. "Some of you may recognize Mr Erik Lensherr as Magneto, but rest assured Mr Lensherr is a changed man. We must all learn to look past superficial fašades and first impressions. Building trust is also another lesson to be learnt. Today, Mr Lensherr will be taking you in your training session. That is all."

Charles Xavier wheeled out of the Danger Room with Ororo while Logan made his way to the observation deck. Erik did a brief formal introduction of himself, and upon his requests, the students did a name call, though it was impossible to remember everyone in the room at first glance.

Logan watched from above as Erik floated a metal sphere towards him with ease and tossed it into the air, instructing Rahne, or technically this instant Wolfsbane, to catch it in midair. And effortlessly, Iceman created an ice slide with which Wolfsbane slid back down to safety. The students cheered. "They love 'im already," Logan laughed lightly to himself.

***

A car pulled up in front of the Institute's front gates. The driver reached out to the call box and pressed the call button.

"Please identity yourself and state your purpose of visit."

"Scott Summers. I have an interview with Professor Xavier regarding the position of an instructor."

"Welcome Mr Summers," with a loud click, the gates automatically unlocked itself and opened. Ever since the Mutant Registration Act, the Institute had heightened its security for the protection of its residents. Scott's two year absence had rendered his passcode invalid.

The mansion's outer appearance had not changed, even the slightest. The driveway and the fountain were familiar sights. He stopped his car at the porch as he no longer had the key to the garage. A wave of nostalgia hit him as he climbed the stairs into the mansion's foyer. But through the glass doors, he could see that changes to the interior had been carried out. Leaving his luggage in the trunk of his car, he carried with him only his briefcase and made his way to the reception desk in the foyer. Scott was formally greeted and had his identity cards checked before he was permitted to enter.

"Professor Xavier's office is the last door down the right hall," the lady smiled and gestured.

"I know, thanks," Scott returned her kind smile. At one subtle glance, he saw she had her inhibitor on her wrist. In the past two years at CUNY, he had observed a handful of people walking around with inhibitors, in accordance with the law. It was surprising to know that many mutants existed, even if most of them only exhibited delta and gamma level mutations. And sometimes the least expected people, even a professor.

Strolling down the hall, he saw a couple of students racing down the foyer stairs, just like Jean and him used to do at their age. Scott mused and unintentionally stared at them for a second. They stopped immediately to acknowledge their guest before the lady at the desk walked over to reprimand them.

Stopping in front of the professor's office, Scott knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer. He knocked again.

"Scott, is that you?"

He turned to see a white-haired woman approach him with a handful of books and assignments.

"Ororo," Scott greeted her with enthusiasm.

"It's so good to see you again."

"Yeah, it's good to be home. Do you need help with those?"

"Oh, yes please," Ororo passed her books and papers to Scott before unlocking her office door. "Come on in."

He helped set her stuff down on her desk. "Do you know where the professor is?"

"Charles? He's class should've ended by now. Maybe he's running a little late."

"Nifty office you have here," Scott fiddled with the leaves of the plant on her filing cabinet.

"Believe it or not, Logan has one too," she laughed.

"That's new," Scott raised his eyebrow. "So do I get one too?"

"Charles had the room directly across the hall from mine cleared out for you."

"Great."

"It's the one next to Logan's," she grinned.

"I can live with that. So what do you teach?"

"Mostly History and some English."

"What about Logan?"

"Hmm...to be precise, he doesn't really teach, unless Driver's Ed counts. He oversees the Danger Room sessions. And he's our discipline master."

"That's kinda expected," Scott shared a laugh with Ororo.

That was when Charles Xavier peered into the open office. "Am I disturbing anything?"

"Professor," Scott turned and stood up.

"Charles. Scott was expecting you."

"If I was interrupting..."

"It's alright Professor, we were just talking." Scott straightened his jacket. "It was nice to see you again Ororo." He leaned forward to give his mentor a hug.

"You too, Scott." She returned his gesture. "I guess I'll see you later." She waved as Scott exited her office.

The professor's office was much bigger, Scott observed as he walked in and took a seat at desk as Xavier wheeled himself behind it.

"How have you been for the past two years?"

"Fine sir, though I was really looking forward to coming home."

"Welcome home Scott." Xavier smiled.

"Thank you sir."

"Do you mind if we got down to business first? There're just a few documents you need to go over..."

It took Scott a little longer than expected, but after that was over, he was officially and legally an accepted staff of the Xavier Institute for the Gifted.

"Wasn't Erik here before I left?"

"Why yes he was Scott. A year ago, he left to assume the position of headmaster of another school I opened in Massachusetts. It was a measure taken to accommodate the influx of young mutants. Robert, Amara and Rahne are helping Erik out."

Scott nodded. He had read about the Massachusetts branch of the Xavier Institute in the papers. He paused and swallowed before asking, "How is Jean, sir?"

Charles Xavier leaned back into his chair, steepled his fingers and sighed.

Scott folded his hands in his lap and looked out of the window. It was late autumn. The leaves had turned red and were falling.

"She hasn't changed when you left."

Scott nodded gravely and avoided the professor's glance. He continued to concentrate on the falling red leaves. They were distracting. There was a pain in his throat he couldn't swallow. He had thought they would be able to find a cure for Jean by the time he returned. That was the main reason why he had thrown himself into his studies fervently. Just to try to forget about all the issues which were troubling him. Maybe things will revert back to normal if he did not interfere. But apparently, nothing had changed. He burrowed deeper into his seat.

Charles Xavier could read the sorrow and frustration in Scott's eyes. He did appear so different without the ruby quartz. "I'm sorry Scott."

Scott turned away and tried to blink away the tears that threatened to form. "Can I...go see her?"

"Of course Scott. I'll notify Henry then walk you down to the subbasement."

"Thank you sir." His whisper was barely audible. Scott was fully immersed in his thoughts.

***

Scott and the professor made their way down to the subbasement in companionable silence. Hank met them in the main medbay.

"Scott, it's such a pleasure to see you again."

Hank was still as blue as Scott remembered as he accepted Hank's handshake. "You too Hank."

Hank could tell Scott was anxiously awaiting to see Jean. "We've shifted Jean to the ward at the end of the hallway. More peaceful."

"You'll have to excuse me gentlemen, but I have my next class to prepare for." The other two men nodded as Charles Xavier wheeled out of the main medbay.

"Come with me Scott. This way."

chap fourteen

back