Unto Us, A Child...
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, except for
Rhapsody. Slym, Redd, and Nate Dayspring are characters owned by
Note: If you haven't read Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, do it!
It is a *very* good miniseries, and this story will make a whole lot
more sense if you're familiar with it. For those of you who
haven't read it, Slym is Scott, Redd is Jean, and Nate is Cable, and the
whole storyline is set a thousand years in the future, when Apocalypse
rules the world and humans are enslaved by the mutant caste. Scott
and Jean are raising Cable while they all pretend to be ordinary humans.
Now, on to the story...
The Dayspring unit walked through yet another checkpoint on their way to
their latest home. They were dusty, weary, and half-frozen from
the long trek through the winter snows, but they'd made it to New Canaan
City safely and were more than grateful for that blessing.
The pretty red-haired woman looked down at the five year old boy snugged
to her hip and smiled. "Yes, Nate?"
"What's that song you're humming?"
"Silent Night. It's a very old song. I'll tell you the
story behind it when we get to our new squat. Now hush and
listen." Redd began to sing then, her words in a language
that had been dead for a thousand years. "Silent night/ Holy
night/ All is calm/ All is bright/ ?Round yon virgin mother and child/
Holy infant so tender and mild/ Sleep in heavenly peace/ Sleep in
heavenly peace..." She kept her voice down, not wanting
anyone to overhear her easy command of the ancient English words, and
Nate nestled his head down into her shoulder, comforted by his adoptive
mother's gentle crooning.
Slym, Redd's lifemate, limped over to them and gently caressed his son's
hair, adjusting the cloak around the boy's thin form to better conceal
the metal arm and the facial scarring. "I've made contact.
This way." He led the way through the milling crowd of
ordinary humans, dodging the occasional slumming mutant as he followed a
red-cloaked man at a distance.
Red-cloak led them through a labyrinth of streets and tunnels until they
reached a particularly old and maze-like section of the city's
underbelly, where he stopped and gestured for them to join him.
"Our section leader, Lady Rhapsody," he introduced them,
bowing respectfully to the thin, scarred woman who bore a small
medallion identifying her as a Sister of the Askani.
She bowed to them. "Welcome, Unit Dayspring. I've been
anticipating your arrival with some pleasure. Come, join me in my
quarters." She led the way into a set of rooms, and threw off
her cloak with relief. Even here in the heart of the city, the
streets were cold, but these rooms were warm and even cozy, if somewhat
shabby. She gestured for them to make themselves comfortable on
the floor pillows, and they gratefully complied. It had been a
long walk from Old Bagda, and their pack shmule had been killed by a
predator halfway through their trip. They were more than willing
to lay their burdens down.
"Redd? You gonna tell me the story now?" Nate
asked drowsily. He'd nodded off a while before, but the warmth and
light of Rhapsody's sanctuary had awakened him.
"In a little while, Nate."
Rhapsody looked curious. "What story is this?"
They exchanged glances. "The Christmas story," Redd
replied. "Have you heard of it?"
Rhapsody tilted her head curiously. "No. Is it a tale
of Xavier and the First Ones?"
Slym shook his head with a smile. "Older than that by far.
It was two thousand years old before Xavier was even born."
Rhapsody looked impressed. "I was told that you knew tales of
the Long-Ago, but I had no idea they went back that far. May I
Slym shrugged. "I don't see why not." He exchanged
a glance with Redd, then said, "Tell you what Nate, since Redd sang
the song that got this whole subject started, why don't I tell the
story, okay?" Nate smiled and snuggled up to Slym, who began.
"Once, long ago in the land of Israel, there was a young woman
He told the story of a young maiden chosen by God, of the angel who told
her of her pregnancy and that her child was to be the prophesied Son of
God, and of how Joseph, her intended husband, chose to marry her despite
her peoples' taboos against premarital and adulterous sex and raise a
child not his own. Of how they traveled through the winter to the
city of Bethlehem to pay taxes, though Mary was heavy with child, and
how she came to bear her child in the stable of an inn, because there
were no rooms to be had. Of the angels who sang to the shepherds
in the fields and told them that the savior was born.
Nate was enthralled, as was Rhapsody. As Slym's voice began to
crack with overuse and exhaustion, Redd took up the story, telling of
the three Magi who followed a star to the child Jesus and of the
wickedness of King Herod, who thought that the child presented a threat
to him and so slaughtered every child under the age of two, but failed
to kill the infant Jesus because an angel had come to Joseph and warned
him to flee before the soldiers could find them. Of how the Magi
finally found them and gave them gifts, honoring the one their arts told
them was the prophesied king.
Eventually, Nate's eyes drooped and he fell asleep, curled up in his
adoptive father's lap, and they all fell silent, watching the child that
so many had risked so much to save.
<And is young Nathan the next Jesus?> Rhapsody asked in their
minds, using the telepathic abilities known to all the Sisterhood of the
<No. Nate is all too human, I'm afraid. No Son of God,
merely the son of a man,> Slym replied wearily. <But he has a
destiny to fulfill and an important role to play, and Apocalypse, for
all his power, is still but a man himself. It's a hard road he has
to travel, but I think he can do it. I know he can do it.> He
tried hard to conceal his yawn, but the road had been long and the hour
"Ay, me. Look at me, keeping you up half the night telling
sleepytime tales," Rhapsody said, apologizing. She'd kept
them well supplied with food and drink, however, and the other rebels
who had slipped in quietly during the storytelling gladly took their
packs as they were led to the rooms that had been set aside for them.
Slym laid his son on the pallet in their new rooms and brushed his hair
back from his face. If he looked hard, he already see the very
first touches of grey beginning to lighten the reddish-brown of Nate's
hair. His hand then traveled down to the star-shaped scars around
Nate's right eye, legacy of his continuing battle with the
techno-organic virus that he'd been infected with by Apocalypse as an
"Scott?" Redd said, using his real name for the first time in
months. "Are you all right?"
Slym looked up at her with a sad smile. "I'll be all right,
Jean. It's just... I know how Mary must have felt, all those
centuries ago. It's hard to know that you're raising a child with
the power to change the world. Hard to know that their lives will
be so very hard, and the sacrifices so very painful. All I want to
do is to protect him, to love and cherish him and keep him from harm.
But I know I can't and it hurts."
"But you do it anyway, because that's what he'd want you to do.
For all the pain he's gone through, Cable... Nathan... hasn't given
up." Redd wrapped her arms around him. "All we can
do, all anyone can do, is give him what happiness we can, for as long as
we can. All we can do is love him, and stand by him, and hope that
when the job's done, he'll be able to find peace."
Scott smiled slightly. "Peace on earth, good will toward
"Mm. Merry Christmas, Scott." She gave him a kiss.
"And God bless us, every one..." he answered wryly.