Summary: An operation, and Jean reflects on the two faces of Scott. S/J, implied R/L c. 4500 words
Warnings: There's description of a medical procedure herein which may turn the stomachs of the especially squeamish. Skim it if it bugs you. I doubt anything else will prove offensive.
Notes: Scott's backstory here follows the film/book universe in which (apparently) his parents are still alive contra comic canon. Even in the comic, Scott's full name was never given. I allude to a couple details about Scott's hobbies which are purely fictive. My sincere thanks to Crys Wimmer and husband (an Ophthalmology technician) for their corrections to the information on cataract surgery. All remaining errors are my own; don't blame them. :-) The seed idea behind this one started the first time I saw Marsden as himself. I was shocked at his youth; he looks even younger than he is.
And I do not have it in for Scott and Jean honest. This story isn't what it seems.
Disclaimer: The X-Men Movie, of course, belongs to Marvel and 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended, and god knows, no money is being made.
The day I saw Scott's eyes for the first time, is the day that I fell out of love with him.
And whatever the students are saying, Logan had nothing to do with it.
Now, understand, I had seen pictures of Scott's eyes pictures from before. A lot of pictures. He'd been an extremely attractive young man and adolescent vanity had ensured that he hadn't fled when the cameras came out. These days, he does, hates to see himself behind reflective red. So he's the one who takes the pictures, and amateur black and white photography has become one of his hobbies revenge by Minolta on a world of color he can no longer see. For a while, in fact, to catch him on film became a game among the students, who chased him with cameras like teenaged paparazzi until the day he ripped Bobby Drake's out of his hands and smashed it against the atrium wall. He's always very controlled, almost mild. Except when he isn't.
But I'd seen his high school year books, and his personal photo albums, and the white-and-red Wal-mart processing paper packets stuffed with undated images of events he never talked about containing the faces of people he wouldn't name. Scott after never looked at these pictures any more than he willingly permitted his own to be taken. I don't think he wanted to be reminded. But I'd asked him once, after we'd started dating, if I could see a picture of him "BV" (before visor), and he'd shrugged and gone into a closet, opened a few of the boxes he'd brought from his parents' house when he'd left Southern California for Xavier's, and dug around in them. Coming back with one, he dropped it on his bed. "Here." Then he'd left his bedroom. We never did look at those pictures together, though I asked, begged, and even promised sex on his bike at three in the morning when we could be certain no one would surprise us in the garage. (He has a few vanilla fantasies and I'm a telepath.) It was the only time he's ever turned down a direct request from me that wasn't potentially dangerous (at least to the body). He said, "No," and that was that.
But it was while looking through this box of albums and mixed-up mementos from high school and college a pressed carnation once blue and now brown; his acceptance letter to Berkeley; his GRE scores for the graduate degree he never completed (the man had gotten a 780 on the logic portion for crying out loud); and a sports Letter for volleyball it was within that box that I found a birth certificate for one Michael Scott Summers.
He'd never told me Scott wasn't his first name. That annoyed me for some trivial reason.
I called him on it later, over supper at the "teachers" table in the mansion dining hall. "So, Micky Blue Eyes," I began as I took my usual seat across from him, "when did you become 'Scott'?"
Ororo actually spit juice out her nose and Hank barked. (People really can bark when they laugh; it sounds ridiculous. It's even more ridiculous when the one doing it has blue fur.)
But Scott just glanced over at me, corners of his mouth tipped up in that way he has when half amused and half annoyed. "I became Scott when my family moved from Omaha to San Diego. Do you have any idea how popular the name 'Michael' is? There were eleven count them, eleven in my grade alone, in Belleview. At least I didn't have to share 'Scott' with half my class." He paused, put salt on his fries and added, "And I was never Micky, Mick, or Mikey. Just plain Mike Summers, thank you."
Ooof. That's the sound of wind being knocked out of my sails. His reply had been so very Scott. Calm, rational, logical. It made me feel stupid and petty. Of course, my needling had been stupid and petty, so I deserved it.
But you see, that's how I started calling him 'Micky Blue Eyes.' Never again in public, or to his face. But I did it in the privacy of my own thoughts. Scott Summers was my boyfriend, later, my fiance; the man I made love to at night and sorted his socks and shirts and BVDs by day; the man who would look right at me while playing bass when I was talking to him and not hear a word I said; the man who could build bookshelves, fly jets, fix cars, and teach History of Technology with the kind of passion that made sixteen-year-olds actually care why bronze had been rare and expensive in antiquity, how rice-paddy farming had come to be, why horses were choked by oxen yokes, and why the wheel was never invented in the Americas. Math is his specialization. History of engineering his passion. He took a degree and teaching certificate in math for Xavier, because the professor had needed a math teacher. He gave up a degree in anthropology for me, because of love. It's the one thing Xavier has never forgiven me for. It took me a long time and an operation to understand that I had never forgiven Scott.
But at that point, I saw Scott as responsible, dependable, fiercely private, a logician with the soul of an artist, a young man with the heavy weight of command in his voice. Micky Blue Eyes had been a fresh-faced grinning angel imp whose irises were the color of summer. Pun intended.
God, he'd been more beautiful than Warren was now.
I thought that seeing those albums
would satisfy my curiosity, end it. Except it didn't. Later, when the
need to see him to see his eyes grew too great, I would go into
his closet (then our closet), fetch down that box when he wasn't there,
and look at pictures. My Micky Blue Eyes. But pictures are pictures.
Flat. Two-dimensional. And these were Scott at seventeen and sixteen and
even younger, a sky-eyed kid. They weren't my Scott in all his complex
mystery behind red.
So why did getting my wish to see those eyes in his living face destroy us?
It's a complicated tale, as complicated as he is, as complicated as I am, a woman eight years her lover's senior but only recently aware of what that means, what it cost. A price I didn't want him to pay.
Let me begin with how I got to see those eyes in the first place.
It started with Hank McCoy. A couple of months after the incident with Magneto at the Statue of Liberty, Hank returned to the school from sabbatical. Logan was still off chasing his tail in Canada and waiting for a little girl to grow up. We were delighted to see Hank, half because he gave relief from doubled-up classes and work in the lab, but also just because he was Hank, our over-educated, quirky Beast. As much my mentor as the professor, I loved him like an uncle his wacky humor, his big gentle hands and blue fur, his slow smile, the amusement in his voice when he and Scott went off on one of their ridiculous theoretical-philosophic arguments over the price of rice in China or whatever had been on the front page of the newspaper that morning. He's the only person I know with whom Scott finds it impossible to become angry.
In any case, one evening after supper, Hank knocked at the door of the room Scott and I shared. Scott let him in because I was still in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and Hank plopped down all his three-hundred pounds in the leather office chair at the desk in the corner. The chair groaned.
"How'd you like to get rid of your glasses?" Hank asked Scott without preamble.
I sprayed the mirror with toothpaste. Dropping the brush and hurrying out, I was in time to see Scott sit down slowly on the bed, his body rocking back a little as if accepting the impact of a heavy object. "I could see colors?"
That was his first question, the thing he most fiercely denies that he misses.
To see colors.
"No," Hank said, gently. Sadly. He understands. "I'm sorry."
Scott just nodded once. "Then explain."
"Cataract surgery. With a twist."
"Huh?" I said from my place in the bathroom doorway.
The old Hank-grin let loose then. "It came to me, Jeannie. Stars and garters! I have no idea why it didn't before. Elegantly simple. If we can replace his current eye lenses with artificial lenses that have a micro-layer of rose quartz attached – very similar procedure to cataract surgery – he won’t require the glasses. I think."
When Hank said 'I think,' it worries me. Hank was now blue, instead of just unusually large and hulking, because he'd had one of his infamous ideas and acted first, thought later. Not to mention that any surgeon attempting to operate on Scott's eyes would first have to survive the operation.
A "mere blip" to Hank.
I think I love him so dearly because the man is irrepressible.
And that day, Scott needed it. He needed hope. As it turned out, we were over two years away from making Hank's theory become reality.
But they did it, Hank and Scott and Xavier together. They built some contraption (I am not an engineer so don't ask me how it worked) that would contain the power of Scott's eyes, or really, the energy in Scott's head, long enough for Hank to operate. They also had to build what amounted to a permanent visor with imbedded triggers. It's behind his ear, like a hearing aide. Very small, unobtrusive. No one can tell that it's actually implanted in bone. I worry about that, as a doctor. I worried then and I still worry at the invasive cost of the procedure that gave Scott back his eyes.
But the day came at last when all was ready, done, prepared. Xavier and Scott's machine had been triple tested (because Scott was like that), and Hank had completed the artificial lenses. Those floated in solution, down in the lab, little clear circles of red. I caught Scott looking at them the day before, turning the bottle in his long musician's hands, an expression on his face somewhere between wonder and mild disgust. He does better with emergency situations than in controlled blood-letting like surgery the opposite of most of us. If he ever had to watch an autopsy, I think the fearless leader of the X-Men would fall over in a dead faint.
So Cyclops was going under the knife, and would emerge with a blank face. A whole face. He would never see our colors, but we would, at last, see his. Very early on the morning of surgery, long before he even woke up (do you honestly think I slept?), the students had begun to gather in the chapel. Some prayed, some sat, some had lit candles. When he woke, I took him down there because I wanted him to know. He didn't realize what it was about until he glanced in, saw them there and turned around to walk rapidly away.
He never cries in front of them.
It was Rogue, of course, who explained it to them, to the new ones, the children who had not been there long enough to understand Scott, to understand why the older kids so loved this stern-faced man with the occasional smile of a Puck. She had her own prickly alpha wolf to interpret, so she could fathom mine a little better. Logan had been home almost a year by that point. He hadn't come back for me. Instead, he paced around the mansion, taught kids how to keep from getting themselves gutted, and watched and waited while his Marie turned from a girl into a woman. As I had once watched and waited for a boy to become a man I wasn't afraid to touch.
What I didn't realize that morning, yet, was that he never really had.
It was Ororo who sat with him, held his hand while he waited for Hank and I to prep ourselves for surgery and the professor to prep the machine which would keep his deadly gift inside his skull for an hour or so. The entire surgery including the controller implant would take far longer than that, but replacing his lenses was a simple matter requiring only half an hour total done in countless hospitals around the country daily and once done, his eyes would be safely bandaged.
Hank hadn't wanted me to assist. I don't know who he thought could. We didn't have a nurse. And I'd be damned if I sat this one out, and told him so. I wanted to help give Scott back his eyes. I had absolutely no hint of what it would mean. We were all excited.
When I went to fetch him, dressed now in one of the filched blue hospital gowns we kept in the lab, Ororo was telling him bad lawyer jokes (I'm not kidding), and Logan was there, too, holding up a wall. They like each other, Scott and Logan. They'll never admit it, but they do. Once they quit clashing over me, they adopted periodic testosterone flexing as a peculiar expression of mutual respect. Scott needs someone around who doesn't take him seriously. It's good for his ego, which is always threatening to over-extend itself. I loved him, but I know his faults. He's too good at too many things, too smart, too handsome. It makes him cocky. But gentleness and a deep-rooted concern for justice saves him from hubris, that and his wonderful rare smile that makes you smile back at him before you realize it because it springs out of his heart and soul and warms a room. He'll never be sympathetic like the professor, but we don't need two professors. We need a Scott. Even Logan knows that and Logan was here to keep Scott from spazzing, because he knew Scott would never admit fear with Logan in the room.
Truth was, this could be a fantastic disaster. We could blind him, damage the ocular nerve or cause some other sort of permanent condition. The chances of the lens replacement going wrong were vanishingly small, but it could happen. Surgery, however routine, is always about chances. It was that damn box and everything that went with it which we were inserting in his head that worried me.
When they saw me, Logan and Ororo, they slipped out, Ororo kissing Scott's cheek before she went. His eyes had fixed on me behind red quartz. He smiled, full and white. "I trust you," he said. "I trust you and Hank both." That was all. My commanding officer had put himself in my hands. It made me cry a little. I came over, kissed him and told him to close his eyes. Then I took off his glasses and brushed my fingers over those cheekbones as I did so. He laid down on the gurney. I gave him anesthesia and told him to count backwards from ten. He got to negative seven. Most people are out before three but Scott fights. He hates to lose control. Once he was out, I administered a retrobulbar block by needle into the muscle cone under the eye, to keep it from moving, then shaved just behind his right ear where the implant would go and took him in.
Cataract surgery is, as noted, a simple, routine procedure. Normally the patient isn't even put under, just has a local and the block, but in Scott's case, it was absolutely necessary for the "suppressor," or whatever the hell they were calling the machine, to work. They put it on his head, a band of black that fit over his brows with little twinkling lights, like a prop from Star Trek. And even if not for the problem of Scott's powers, he'd have had to be out because when we were done with his eyes, Hank was going to saw into the skull behind his ear to insert the controller implant. I hated to see them put that thing in his head.
Now, with the suppressor in place, we opened each eye wide with lid speculum and cut a slit in the top, normally three centimeters but in this case four and a half because the ruby quartz kept the lens from bending. Then we emulsified his old lens, irrigated the cavity to remove the debris, and inserted the thin artificial lens with its ruby quartz protective covering. Normally, stitches weren't necessary, but with a slit wider than usual, it took a few. It sounds grotesque, I suppose, but that's how it's done. Very simple.
I focused on the mechanics of the procedure, not on Scott-my-lover who breathed quiet and dreamed perhaps, while we made irrevocable changes in his body. Once we were done with the eye operation, we bandaged them and put his visor on. Under normal circumstances, he'd have had his vision back immediately, but Hank had decided to make him wait twelve hours, just to be on the safe side. Then the bandages would come off and we could see whether or not this had worked.
Then Hank lifted the bone saw and little black box. I helped with that, too, although it was much harder to distance myself from the grind of serrated surgical steel cutting a hole in his skull. This was the truly dangerous part. We were playing very close to Scott's brain. Any slip and no telling what would happen.
Nothing slipped. Hank is good at what he does, though for the life of me, I don't understand half of the mechanics behind this fusion of flesh and metal and nearly microscopic nanotech that joins the controller to the eye lenses so that Scott can still be Cyclops when all this is over. They're giving him a machine to do what his brain is too damaged to do. Scott understands it. The professor does a little. And Hank, of course. But me, I'm a simple physician and bio-geneticist. I'm not even technically a surgeon, though I did my rotation years ago. Yet, like I told Hank, I'd be damned if I was going to sit this one out.
The whole operation, from beginning to end, took almost ten hours, nine tenths of it concerned with the controller and the delicate work there. Hank and I had been fitted out with catheters, like brain surgeons, because we couldn't take a little bathroom break while there was a hole in Scott's head.
Finally it was done. Hank declared that, as far as he could tell at this point, it was a complete success. Everything had gone off without a hitch. Scott would have his eyes out from under black metal and quartz, and the X-Men would still have our Cyclops.
And who says miracles never happen? Exhausted though I was, I went to tell the students in the chapel and den and dining hall. There was much cheering, whooping and celebrating. Scott woke a few hours later around eight-thirty, woozy still from pain killers, but insisting on seeing 'his' kids. Well, not seeing them. He had gauze around his face and his visor on. But he could hear them and touch them. They trooped through our bedroom to grip his hands and giggle at the shaved spot in his hair, do the things that teenagers do when they're excited and happy. He was happy, too. They made him smile, and that made me smile.
But that night after everyone had gone, he clutched at me while we lay in bed. Temporarily blind, and scared, he was drowning in the nightmare he’d known at seventeen. All I could do was repeat to him what Hank had said. There was absolutely no reason to expect anything had gone wrong. He would be able to see again. I repeated it. Over and over.
The next day dawned clear and bright, without the usual muggy heat of a New York July. A beautiful day for bandages to come off. We made it a private little ceremony attended by four and held outside, where red optic blasts could do the least damage if something went wrong. Scott, Hank, me and Professor Xavier not even Ororo. She understood, I think. The rest in the mansion would know soon enough. Some of the kids were back in the chapel. Hank was too excited to stand himself, or be stood by us. Scott sat white-lipped. Xavier held his left hand and I held the right as Hank removed the bandages. When he was done, instead of telling Scott himself, he nodded to Xavier. It seemed fitting.
"Open your eyes, Scott."
No red. No blast of scarlet light. Nothing.
Just blue. Micky Blue Eyes.
"I can see," he whispered, awed. "It's still a little fuzzy, but I can see. And I'm not killing anything."
I cried. I cried for what he said, and because there on a field in Westchester, New York, I saw my lover's eyes for the first time. And I fell out of love.
My strong and beautiful one, my fearless one, my commanding officer, my dependable, logical, faithful lover was a boy a boy with eyes like the summer sky above us and a face even younger than his twenty-seven years. Smooth and shocking in its fine-boned beauty. Even more shocking in its youth without the camouflage of black metal and rose quartz.
This was not my Scott.
I was thirty-five. He was twenty-seven going on seventeen; he had ten years hidden behind metal from which to unbend himself. I wanted a man, not a boy. Am I wrong for that? Am I cruel?
My heart broke that day. It's been in pieces ever since, waiting for Scott to put it back together. Not Micky Blue Eyes.
I got up and walked away because he would know. He thought I was overwrought. I was. It took me five days to tell him why, to tell him that I couldn't look in a mirror and see our young-old faces side by side. I didn't know this boy. I didn't love this boy who'd left his passion and his dreams behind at Berkeley to teach math, fly a black jet, and be my lap dog. I want a man who belongs to himself.
I cried for us both as he moved
his things out of our room, I cried because he wouldn't. Some wounds go
He's stolen all the girls' hearts at the school. I knew he would. Like groupies at a rock concert, they sigh when he walks into class. They would sign up for bean counting if he taught it. I find this funny, and it hurts a little less now to see their dazed faces. You'd think they'd have gotten over it after six months. You'd think I would, too, but I haven't. He is the grinning, fresh-faced angel boy who leads the X-Men.
He's just not my angel.
I am like Logan. I am waiting for my child to grow up, to become the man I thought I saw, and loved, and maybe, will love again. So Logan and I measure our days in patience, together. We trade a look, a smile. We know what we're waiting for. The students don't understand, assume we are in love with each other. Some have even suggested that I left Scott to go to Logan. How absurd.
I left Micky Blue Eyes to wait for Scott.
I think he may have finally figured it out. I spoke to him at breakfast this morning and he told me he'd been accepted at CUNY this fall and had found a man in the anthropology department willing to direct his thesis. Xavier is giving him time off from teaching. He's got two more semester's worth of classes and a dissertation to write with a fast-approaching deadline hanging over his head. If he doesn't finish soon, it'll be too late and he'll have to start over. Ten years from passing qualifying exams is all a grad student has to complete the defense. But if anyone can beat time, it's Scott. He's doing research on bellows temperatures and the relative percentage of tin and copper in bronze found on Cyprus and around the Mediterranean, with a committee composed of chemists, engineers and archaeologists. I didn't understand a word of it, but I loved listening to him try to explain it to me. This is the man who carries a pocket-sized Table of the Elements in his wallet just in case he needs to consult it. He's crazy. Then he smiled at me, asked if I'd meet him in the garage tonight. At three. In the morning. By the bike.
He was bringing a box of pictures.
Dr. Scott Summers. I think I like the sound of that. So what if his eyes are blue.
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The quasi-sequel is Body Memory