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L. Burke

Elves, Weirdoes, and Ten More Degree's

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

"You think I'm crazy don't you."  Jean Gray Summers shot out at her husband from the location she was curled up in front of the department store to stay warm.
"Did I say that?" Scott Summers shot back from where he was standing on the sidewalk as he added, "The secret to staying warm in this type of weather is to just keep moving."
"You don't have to say it.  You have been giving me that look for the last hour.  How did my mother talk me in to doing this?"
"Guilt, I believe.  Something about Joey's Christmas being ruined if he couldn't get that new game system because it was the only thing on his Christmas list.  What you did wrong is not checking to find hot that it's this years hottest toy, BEFORE volunteering to get one for her.  I believe Elaine Grey pulled one over on you, sweetheart.  It's times like this I appreciate that my father spends most of his time across the galaxy." "Yes," Jean grumbled "My mother pulled one over on me.  So here I camping out in front of the department store in ten degree weather, so I can get Joey's game system."  Scott just smirked at her.
"The part I find really amusing, is that you're a telepath and you never got a inkling of what she was really up to."
"Don't rub it in mister or your getting the whitewash of a life time." Jean shot back at him.
Scott just chuckled at her as he spun around a streetlight with one arm, "I don't think you're crazy. I think Joey is very lucky to have an aunt that is willing to camp out in ten-degree weather to get the toy he wants.  Now that
weirdo uncle of his, THAT lets his wife do these things may be the certified nutcase of the Grey household." Before Jean could respond Scott stiffened up his glaze narrowing on a narrow alley across the street from them.  Jean just jumped to her feet, getting ready for action.  She did a quick sweep of the area and found the only thing in the alley was a teenaged girl.  Jean let her guard down a little and asked
"What is it?  I don't sense anything.  Is there something out there?"  She noticed that Scott was starting to relax. "No relax, I don't see any trouble.  I just thought it was strange." "Strange?"  Jean asked him wishing him to continue his thoughts.
"It was just strange to see a runaway in this part of town that's all.  Two much traffic and too many police patrols, too high of a chance of getting picked up.  Then I remembered we're right by a thermometer, one of the few
in this part of town."
Jean just gave him a strange look.  "I don't understand." Scott just looked down at his feet, "You wouldn't unless you have spent some times on the street.  It's ten above, the emergency no questions shelters don't open until the thermometer hits zero.  She is just hanging around trying to stay warm, trying to stay out of the view of the cops, hoping tonight it hits zero, so she'll have a place to crash."  Scott just sighed
"She's in for a long night."
"I don't understand.  There are other shelters she can go.  Why would she wait for the emergency ones in this weather?  She could be somewhere warm tonight instead of that dirty, cold alley."
Scott just sighed and met her eyes without really seeing her, "Most of those shelters are obligated to report someone under eighteen Jean.  What most of our lawmakers don't understand is that these kids don't want to be reported.
  So they would rather wait it out in the cold than chance going somewhere they can chance getting turned in and sent back to where they ran away from in the first place."
"Is there anything we can do?  Maybe we should go over there." "She'll bolt at fist sign of us.  The really sad thing is that most of these kids are so beaten down by abuse and the streets, most of them figure they're not worth helping.  They drown slowly, thinking that the streets are better than the bad situation that they are running from.  By the time they realize that it isn't, there in so deep they can't see a way out.  Half the fight you're up against when you try to help these kids is that they are worth it.  It is not an easy on either."
"Look on the bright side," Scott continued "With the way the temp is dropping it will probably hit zero be for the morning.  She will have a place to crash then and maybe even get some clean warm cloths too."  Jean just nodded and they both went back to where they had been a few moments before.  They stayed there sitting in silence for a very long time, when Scott suddenly got up.
"I going over to the all night sub place across the street.  You want anything while I'm there?"
"A big HOT cup of coffee would be great thanks."  Scott just nodded at her as he got up and headed across the street.  Jean watched as he headed straight towards the alley where the girl was.  She couldn't hear what Scott said to her, but after a few moments the girl came out of the alley and followed Scott in to the Sub shop.
A few moments later the girl bolted out of the Sub shop with a bag in her hand and bolted back down the alley.  Scott came out a few moments later.
"I thought she would bolt the moment we approached her?"  Jean gave her husband an amused look.
"I thought she would.  She was hungrier than I thought.  She didn't stick around for me to pay for it before she bolted.  Probably thought I would make her turn a trick for the sandwich. Called me a weirdo as she bolted out the door.  Poor kid she's half starved and wearing nothing more that rags.  She really needs a new winter coat."  Scott just shook his head sadly as he handed Jean her coffee.  "Sometimes this world really stinks.  You have to wonder what is so horrible that she is running from that she stays out here."
"Was it just as horrible for you?"  Jean suddenly asked.  "You never talk about the years you spent of the street." Scott just looked down at his feet; "I don't really like to talk about it.  I did an awful lot I am not very proud of when I was on the streets. It is going to be bad enough to look my children in the eyes and explain to them why I have a juvenile record, I don't want to have to go in to detail what I did while I lived on the streets.  The only thing I would be able say to them is I didn't hook or sell drugs.  Something in me just couldn't cross those lines.  I did just about everything else through.  It is very hard to talk about the streets with someone who hasn't been there because you have absolutely nothing to compare it too.  I think the worst part was when people just look through you like you didn't even exist.  Like you didn't matter.  It was if they ignored you or looked through you long enough, you would have to go away and they wouldn't have to think about you.  Like they thought you weren't worth it.  That was the hardest part.  Something's never change huh?  The strange thing is the thing is the times that stick out for me are when someone did a good deed and never asked for anything in return.  When you live in a world where everything has it's price and no one does anything just because it's the right thing to do, those moments really stick out."  Scott looked up from his feet and started chuckling softly to himself, "Now thinking back on it, I would have called me a weirdo too if someone had did what I just did." "Think of it as playing Christmas elf, Scott.  Now come snuggle up next to me and help keep me warm, we have a few hours until the story opens."

Jean managed to get the game system Joey wanted.  By the time the department store opened there was a long line of people backed up to the street.  Jean was very happy to have had the forethought to get there extra early.  She had managed to get one of the last three the store had still in stock.   As Jean pushed her way through busy crowd of holiday shoppers, once again she vowed she was going to get organized and get it all done in July like Scott did.  One day she would learn his secret to being overly organized.  As things were shaping up, Jean had little doubt that she would be finishing up the last of her Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve again.  As she pushed her way through another bunch of shopper, she decided she was going to smack Scott if he brought up the point, that he was done with all his shopping and all it took was a little organization and a list, just one more time.
Scott had long since grabbed a few ornaments off the Salvation Army's tree and headed for the toy store.  Jean personally thought he just wanted an excuse to be able to go play in the toy store with out getting any strange looks.  That man, though he didn't show it to others could be a big kid sometimes and some of the new modern toys just fascinated him.  Jean was in the process of picking out a pretty green blouse in green for Rogue, when she looked to see the girl from the alley last night getting dragged out of the store by a security guard. "Let go of me!  I ain't doing nothing.  This is harassment!"  The girl shouted.  Jean noticed that most of the customers in the store looked away or ignored the scene, she flinched inwardly Scott's words from earlier running through her head.  Scott was right she was filthy, skinny, and desperately needed an winter coat, and possibly an new pair of shoes. 
"Sure kid, I would say shoplifting a hundred dollar coat is a pretty serious crime.  Now lets get out of here before we disrupt any of the shoppers."  Was all the security guard said as he was forcing her out of the store, Jean just shook her head and wondered why anyone couldn't see that the girl needed the coat to stay warm. "I told you, I'm waiting for my sister.  I was just trying the coat on and she was going to pay for it.  I ain't stealing nothing!" "Sure Kid, whatever you say.  Come on."  As the guard started dragging her a little harder out of the front of the store. 
"There you are.  Did you find the coat that you wanted?  I told you I would meet you here.  Is this man giving you a hard time?"  The girl just stared at Jean as she walked towards them. The security guard just scowled at Jean; "She's with you then?  She tried to walk out of the store with out paying for the coat."  Jean just smiled at
him sweetly. "She was just trying to find me.  I sure she was not trying to steal it officer."  The girl just nodded up at the security guard. "Fine if she's with you then mind if I stick around to see the coat actually paid for?" "That fine by me officer.  What about you sis?"  The girl just nodded giving Jean a baffled look.

Jean ended up not just buying her a new coat, a new pair of boots, a sweat suit out fit, and some warm socks.  The whole time the girl never said anything to her.  The girl suddenly broke the silence by asking "Why?"  Jean just looked in to her brown eyes, and suddenly felt very old.  How many X-men was she looking at Scott, Remy, Boomer, Rictor, Jubes?  The question that really bothered her was 'How many future X-men was she looking at?'  That one bothered her even more. "Because you needed the help and I could give it to you."  The girl just snorted. "Yeah right, I ain't turning no trick for you lady."  Jean just sighed. "How about this one?  Think of me as your Christmas elf.  You remind me of a few people very dear to me and who knows maybe you'll be in a position to help someone else someday.  Think of what I just did for you as a debt, pay me back by doing a good deed for someone else.  There's places you can go you don't have to live on the streets."  Something like flickered in her eyes for just a moment.
"You're the lady that with that guy last night, aren't you.  If that weirdo is your boyfriend I would dump him, you know.  He's nuts saying I could possibly be someone who will help save the world someday.  He's nuttier that a year old fruitcake.  I think he probably keeps some mad scientist in his basement."
Jean smirked to herself thinking of Hank McCoy in one of his nuttier moods. 
"Probably does.  He could also be right you know?  You could be someone that could help save the world someday."
"Yeah right."
"Well," Jean said looking her straight in the eye "You never know.  You could be someone very important someday, if you believe it's possible.  She just looked down at the ground, reminding Jean of someone very dear to her heart.
They were at the front of the mall now at the doors leading outside.  The girl just looked at her for a moment.
"Thanks for the coat and stuff."  Was all she said as she bolted out the door. Jean just watched her vanish in to the alley.  Looking up at the thermometer which still read ten above zero.  Ten more degrees and the shelters would open.   As she turned back in to the mall to find her husband, Jean's thoughts just kept flowing back to elves, weirdoes and ten more degrees.


Other Stories By L. Burke


Please Get Well For Christmas

There's No Place Like Home

Beneath the Floor Boards

We Will Always Have the Stars

Elves, Weirdoes and Ten More Degrees

What Could Have Been

The Suggestion Box

Friday Nights, Guy Talk, Stalkers and Other Strange Things

New Begginings and Second Chances

A Very Bad Day

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