the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la…
good to be home for the holidays, even if it means surviving my
parents’ holiday party. I haven’t been back for more than a day trip
since I started school.
How nice to see you!”
are you Mrs. Corrigan?” I smile politely as I get squeezed too hard in
a hug. “Merry Christmas.”
a good one to you as well. I’m fine, except for the gout and my hip
that keeps acting up. But that’s neither here nor there. You’re
looking wonderful. Your parents tell me you are doing splendidly at your
because I only tell them half of what goes on there. “I’m doing all
right,” I shrug innocently. “The class size is so small that I
can’t help but get personalized attention.”
have to confess that I’d never heard of the Xavier Academy before you
enrolled, Jean,” Professor Robert Gresham, a colleague of my
father’s, walks over to join the conversation. “We certainly
haven’t gotten any graduates from there at the university.”
actually one of the charter students,” I explain. “Professor Xavier
is looking to try some alternative methods when it comes to pedagogy and
since he’s an acquaintance of Dad’s, I get to be a guinea pig. But
I’m grateful for the opportunity.” Am I really, though?
nods. “Charles Xavier? I should have guessed. Xavier’s always been
running on a different track from the rest of us in the education
business. Very much an auto-didact, he is.
I’m surprised he wanted to take on students.”
is very heavily stressed,” I agree. “But we’re actually a very
close-knit student body.” The team that defeats super-villains
Xavier still fascinated by the occult?” Gresham asks with a smirk.
“Years ago, he wrote several articles on telepathy and other kinds of
hocus-pocus that he tried to assure his readers were all among us. If it
weren’t for his brilliant work on the treatment of trauma victims,
Xavier would be considered quite the crackpot.”
smile benignly. Very few people outside of my immediate family know
about my powers. Hocus pocus, hmm? I don’t think Professor Gresham
would appreciate a demonstration right about now, else I’d levitate
him to the ceiling.
mother says you get to go on quite a few exciting field trips,” Mrs.
Corrigan regains her voice.
yes, we go all over and get to see some very interesting things, not to
mention meet a wide variety of people,” I agree heartily. Magneto, the
Blob, Unus, the Maximoff twins, Mastermind, and, of course, the Toad.
“Professor Xavier is most generous with our travel plans. We have
rarely a dull moment.”
get through the rest of Professor Gresham’s and Mrs. Corrigan’s
questions without having to dance around the truth too much. We get
interrupted by my sister at the piano starting to sing Christmas carols
and I manage to slip away for a little while. I come downstairs when I
start to hear people leave.
My father groans in relief as the last guest leaves and he closes the
door with a wave to the departing. “I’m glad we only do this once a
Mom sighs, surveying the rooms filled with cups, saucers, dishes,
glasses, and the other debris that a party, no matter how populated by
university faculty, leaves behind.
clean up,” I announce.
is too much for you, honey,” Mom shakes her head. Left unsaid is that
she’s scared of me using my telekinesis with the good china.
been training every day, Mom, you’ll be surprised. Watch,” I
mentally pick up all of the napkins and other garbage and float them
over to the trash bag my sister is holding. I’m already standing in
the doorway between the kitchen and dining room, so I can watch the
dishes and silverware float directly into the dishwasher without
incident. After I get the first round of saucers in, Mom takes her hands
away from her eyes – she obviously hasn’t gotten over the time I
dropped her great-grandmother’s vase all those years ago. By the time
I’m done, however, she’s almost beaming.
Dad kisses me on the cheek. “Xavier’s really teaching you to get a
handle on your abilities.”
watch me with the Christmas presents tomorrow morning,” I smile.
Academy, may I help you?”
It’s Jean. What are you doing around? I thought you were going to
spend Christmas with Warren and his folks.”
ummm…” I can almost see Scott scratch his forehead like he always
does when he’s been caught and doesn’t know what to say. “It would
have been too awkward. They would have felt obligated to get me some
sort of gift and, well, since they have all that money, no matter what I
brought it would have looked shabby.”
know Warren doesn’t care about that and I’m sure his parents
wouldn’t think poorly of you. It’s the thought that counts. So you
are spending the holiday with the Professor? I called to wish him a
he’s been gone since the day after everyone left. One of his secret
missions, didn’t even tell me where he’s going or when he’ll
return, although I suspect he’ll be back before you and the guys come
he won’t. I’ll be there in about two hours. Pack what you’ll need
for the next few days. I am not letting you stay there alone for
Cavendish doesn’t count and she’s taking most of this coming week
off anyway. I’ll see you around three.”
don’t let Scott get a word in edgewise. I take a quick shower and
explain my plans to my parents before I wheedle the car keys from Dad.
They have no problem – they actually offered to house any of my fellow
students for the holidays as we live closer to the school than anyone
someone so cut out to be a leader of men – not to mention someone so
cute – Scott can be so remarkably insecure. Maybe it has to do with
growing up in an orphanage. I don’t think it has anything to do with
Scott being a Nebraska boy in New York, which is what he always tries to
brush it off as.
I suspected, Scott is not packed when I get to the mansion. He intends
to try and talk me out of having him stay the rest of the holiday and
I’m not going to let him.
on ‘Fearless Leader’,” I mock, using Hank’s choice name for
Scott. “You can either go pack or I can float all of your clothes out
to the car by myself.”
his voice trails off when he realizes I’m serious. “I appreciate the
offer, but I don’t want to stay with your parents. I kind of like
know you can’t understand, but yeah.”
explaining to me why you’d prefer to be here in this huge house all by
yourself. It’s dead silent here.”
grew up in an orphanage. Eight boys to a dorm room. Silence was unheard
of – pun intended. Privacy, quiet, free time… the novelty hasn’t
worn off yet. It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with you and
the guys, but I like hanging out without you guys, too.”
nod after a moment. “I’ll buy most of that, especially since it
explains why you can be found periodically wandering around the grounds
by yourself, but I still want to know the real reason you’re here
alone. As I recall, you got offers from all four of us to visit for the
holidays. If you didn’t want to go to the Worthingtons’, you could
have stayed with Hank or Bobby or me and nobody would have felt snubbed.
may be golden, but you shouldn’t be by yourself during probably the
most family oriented time of the year.”
sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. “I have none – you guys
and the Professor are as close as I get to family. I hate getting
reminded of what I’m missing. I know you don’t mean to be rubbing it
in, but that’s what it feels like. The family dinners, the presents…
I don’t have any ugly sweaters I have to wear because my great-aunt
knitted them especially for me. I don’t have any crazy relatives
sending me fifty pounds of fruitcake.”
can be considered to be a good thing.”
is and it isn’t. When I was at the orphanage, every year they’d farm
out the kids to spend Christmas with families around town. We’d get
some little present from the host family and then the present that the
orphanage got for us, and we’d open those while the foster kids were
opening their piles and piles of presents. And every year, there were a
few presents that the kids liked – some cool toys or something – and
a whole bunch of things that they’d hate but have to play with or wear
because they were from family.
presents were never personal. I never got clothes because no one ever
knew my size – stuff got handed down at the orphanage until it
couldn’t be worn anymore. I never got the game I wanted because nobody
ever asked. I’d get whatever was on sale at the toy store or maybe a
I guess I should stay away from the books next year, huh?” I smirk.
That was what I had given him right before I went home.
Oh, no, I wasn’t complaining about what you got me. You got me a book
that I actually want to read. You picked out something you thought I’d
like, and that’s what’s important. It could be a book or a pair of
mittens, it doesn’t matter if there was consideration behind it.”
you want a pair of mittens?”
Mittens? Uh, no, I was just using them as an example. I’m a gloves
man,” he smiles, that lopsided smile that first made me think of him
as something other than just another one of my classmates.
said that you think of us as family, right?”
could you possibly consider spending time with me and just think of my
parents and sister as accessories? We can pretend it’s not a holiday,
that you’re just coming over for dinner. I know how well you cook –
you need all the help you can get with Mrs. Cavendish off today.”
should resent that, but I know better.”
boy. Bring stuff for tonight – we’ll all be in a food coma after
dinner and it’ll be too late to drive you back – and I’ll bring
you back here tomorrow, okay?”
nods without saying a word and I sit in the chair in the foyer while he
goes upstairs to get his things. Even if I didn’t have a wicked crush
on Scott – and sometimes I wonder if it isn’t a little bit more than
that – there are times when all I want to do is hug him until he
can’t breathe anymore.
so into my own family life, especially now that my sister’s gotten out
of that annoying pubescent phase, that I forget that not everyone’s in
the same boat. Especially since Scott is so darned secretive about his
feelings. And here all I was thinking about was finding a subtle way to
get him under the mistletoe that we have hanging in the entryway to the
am shaken from my reverie by the sounds of Scott coming down the stairs.
He’s got a shirt and tie on and I’m about to get on him for being
too formal when I realize he’s wearing his Felix the Cat tie. He’s
also changed into the glasses that Warren got him for his birthday –
the frames are much more stylish than his everyday ones – and you can
see a lot more of his face with them. He looks gorgeous in them, but
since they aren’t really good for chasing bad guys around, he only
wears them when he’s sure we’ll be able to pretend to be civilians
for the whole time.
bad, Mr. Summers,” I try to sound casual. He mock-bows.
for my next trick, I’ll employ proper table manners and social
etiquette,” he grins. “Actually, I wanted to ask if we could stop
somewhere so I could pick something up. I don’t want to show up empty
if you promise not to get any more food. Mom’s been going crazy all
day as it is.”
drive down to Salem Center wasn’t too bad considering that it’s in
the direction of the city and it’s one of the biggest shopping days of
the year. In fact, I’m going out with my mom and sister after I get
I guess I’ll see you after the weekend,” Scott says, really to his
shoes, as we sit in the car. His increasing awkwardness as we’ve spent
time together yesterday and today only make me more certain that Scott
notices that I’m a girl. Especially when he turned as red as his
glasses when I finally did catch him by the mistletoe.
although don’t be surprised if Warren calls and wants to do something
before then,” I reply.
he say something before he left?”
but if he’s feeling at all how I’m feeling, he’ll call. And for
propriety’s sake, he’ll call you before he calls me.”
are you feeling?” Scott looks up in half-horror, half-curiosity, as if
he’s sure if I’m going to say that I know he likes me and he’s
terrified to know my reaction. As if I had the guts to tell him.
I’m away from my family, or at least like I’m away from the people
that know me best,” I sigh. I’ve been thinking about this for a
while. “I’ve spent my entire vacation pretending I’m normal and
more and more, I can’t help but feel like that’s a lie.”
family knows that you’re a mutant,” Scott points out. He watched my
command performance with the dishwasher last night.
nobody else does. And my parents and sister certainly don’t know
exactly how I use my powers. I showed them my wool cards – they think
I’ve improved my abilities just by learning to sew telekinetically. I
don’t dare tell them that their little girl is fighting the forces of
Yeah, I guess that’s not exactly dinner table discussion,” Scott
agrees after a pause.
Hank, Warren, Bobby – you are the only ones who understand what it’s
like to have to pretend that nothing exciting is going on while carrying
your X-Men costume around. I’m not the Jean Grey that left home to go
to the Xavier Academy, but I can’t tell anyone. The falseness is
getting to me, and I expect to Warren and Bobby and Hank as well.”
nods and I can tell he understands.
sit there facing each other, both dying for the other to make the first
microscopic step towards the other so we can kiss and get this awkward
dance over with. But nothing happens. Marvel Girl and Cyclops, two of
the newest, most amazing crime-fighting team around are unafraid to
battle either the Master of Magnetism or just plain Mastermind, but to
face rejection? We’re both chicken.
I guess I’ll see you in a few days then, Marvel Girl,” he smiles
wryly at me.
then, Cyclops,” I return the expression. We both appreciate the irony.
Other Stories by Domenika