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Brothers III:

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Marvel, and are
used without permission for entertainment purposes only.

  I was tired, as I scrubbed my face and smiled weakly. But I knew in my heart some things couldn't wait. This was one.
  Jean telekinetically lifted Logan and Mint, careful not to disturb the sleeping pair, and gently deposited them on the hospital bed. Unconsciously, the little girl snuggled closer to her father, and the young woman tucked a blanket around them both, smiling tenderly.
  I knew from the expression on her face the others gathered, many huddled against one another in sleep, knew Mint was out of danger and the hospital room was off limits.
  We had to go out onto the stairs in the end, careful not to wake Jubilee, who was asleep against Remy.
  I need to...share the past with you Jean....
Her eyes, full of love and light, held my gaze. She held me, gathered me against her, and I closed my eyes.
  I'm here, Scott. I'll always be here...
And I was again not Scott Summers, Cyclops, Leader of the X-Men, but pathetic little Scotty Summers, Grames' "pet", a child lost in a world ruled by the monster under the bed, the bogeyman - and worse. Far, far worse...
  I let her into my mind, into my past, and she caught me, kept me from being swept away by eddies of fear and loneliness that had swamped the child-Scott all his life...

  There was only me and ten other boys in E-Wing, largely because it was so new. Me, a skinny kid named Anthony, and a smaller, mean-spirited kid that insisted on being called Line were the oldest.
  It all started there. Men came, picked a boy, and could do whatever they wanted. I would try to kick, to struggle, but often that just made it worse. They'd make me listen as the younger ones screamed. Sometimes they never came back.
  Anthony was kind to me, and in our futile way we formed a friendship, an alliance. The other kids hated us, and Grames seemed to enjoy that. One day, he came in and took Anthony - the creep he gave him to was a mutant-hater.
   It took Tony almost two days to die.
   I wished it'd been me, I wished I could go crazy, find some - madness - to hide myself in.
   I couldn't.
   So I stared at Grames and swore to make sure he'd pay.
   And he smiled at me.

   I can't remember the rest. I was crying, shaking like a child.  Whenever I try, I wake up - I just remember the Professor finding me. I don't remember anything else! Help me, Jeannie!  I cried it in desperation, because after so many years I couldn't let it go. I had to know.
  Her arms held me, her chin resting lightly against my head as she rocked me. I felt comforted, but still afraid, so terribly afraid. I'm here....you're safe with me, no one can reach you...
I physically jerked. Where had that come from?
  Jean stroked my hair, smiled at me, knowing the bond of brotherhood I had found, and obviously approving. There was some puzzlement in her steady gaze, but she held me gently. I can help you, Scott. I can help you open that block. But you have to let me. I won't force you, ever.
  Help me!
it was a gasp of pain.
  The darkness shattered into shards of edged black, tearing through my mind, letting loose my hidden memories.
   I screamed silently, but plunged, a phoenix borne on broken wings, into the past.

   I was screaming, struggling, crying, even begging, as the man dragged me toward his car. The other kids, three were dead, but the others were alive. Grames was calmly standing against the wall, neatly wrapped in a raincoat as the storm vented it's fury on the warm night, taking notes of "adoptions" taking place.
   Lives being shattered, hearts being torn so badly they would never open up again...
   "Evenin'." it was a low growl, coming from a figure perched on top of the car. Only the eyes showed, burning blue, cold as a winter fire. One of the men pulled a gun - and stared dumbly as blood spurted from the stump that had once been his arm.
   "Help us!" I screamed.
   The man had claws! He bounded over the cars, sniffed the air, and suddenly pushed me to the ground as another one of Grames' customer's opened fire. Bullets thumped into him, but he picked me up and started running, and I saw other men, shadows really, scooping up the others without breaking stride.
   Holding me in one arm, the man clambered up the wall, meeting a shadow on top.
   I didn't understand the words, but I understood they were arguing.
   Remember, Scott, don't be afraid...
It was Japanese.
   "This little one is the one you sought, sensei?" the voice was carefully respectful.
   "Hei." No other explanation, as he set me on my feet, wrapping a warm, dark jacket around me. It had a symbol, but I couldn't see it for my angle.
   Then I remembered no more.
   I moaned, but soon Jean helped me back into the months I'd lost as a boy, the three years gone in my life.

   My rescuer never gave me a name, but when his companions could locate no relatives, he took me in. I loved him for that. He showed me the basics of defending myself, telling me, "When you fight a man, treat him as an honored guest. Welcome him in. Learn everything about him. In this way, you learn to defend yourself and others."
   "But what about killing him?" I was bitter then, so angry. I saw the others practice killing moves, but my teacher taught me none of them. None of the ones that would let me hurt the ones that had hurt me.
   "If you want to hurt someone, you have the wrong reason." he told me, and made me find all the woodchips from a target practice from the other, older kids.
   It took me months, but finally I worked up the guts to ask him something I was hoping for.
   "Sensei, are you my father?"
    His back was to me, he did not turn for a moment, but finally knelt, placing a hand on my shoulder.
    "It's time for you to go back to the Hard World, kid. This isn't the world for you."
    My eyes filled with tears, I can remember the desperate hurt, the anguish.
    "I HATE YOU!" I screamed. I flailed at him, tried every maneuver, but nothing eased my heart. Until he wrapped his arms around me and held me until I was exhausted, too tired to even move. Finally, he stared me in the eyes. Hypnotic and wild, like the unmarred summer sky.
    "Lissen to me, kid. Ya can't stay with me." His voice became soft, using the magic of his own training, the shadow-people who had protected me and loved me for a scant few years. "But when ya need me, I'll be there....like a brother. I promise ya that."
    I was barely awake, but I feigned sleep as he lifted me - all the while I wanted, for the first time - to throw my arms around his neck and hang on - carried me to another place and left me.
    His voice became weird after I heard an electric sputter, and he was speaking to someone.
    "I'll bring the kid." Muffled words, a kind, concerned voice. "You don't need ta know. I know he's got two sibs."
    I fought to keep the tears down, but my stomach dropped. Two? Alex and - who?
    I felt his hand ruffle my hair, once, then returned to speaking. He knew I was listening.
    Consciousness was fading. No! Not yet!
    "Three, countin' me. Take care a' him, or you'll be answerin' to me." A click.
    I woke with a gasp. I was covered in sweat, but Jean was there, holding me tight.
    And Logan, crouched down to regard me with an unreadable gaze.
    Without warning, I reached up, and pulled them both to me, and the tears came. Tears of release, of hope, of finding one's way home. In that instant, he had found himself.
     "Okaerinasai, Logan-sama. Okaerinasai, Jikei." Welcome home, Logan. Welcome home, older brother.
     Logan's feral expression softened briefly to a smile, while Jean smiled, eyes filled with tears.          
     I would never let them go again. And, despite his gruffness, Logan slid down to provide a backrest for me while Jean wept, a smile of pure joy on her face, and held us both tight.
     Both of them held tight in my arms, didn't see the shadowed stairwell or the dingy walls.
     I saw what we were, together, all of us.
     I saw the most perfect, beautiful Light.

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