A Father's Perspective

March 05, 2016:

After a bad visit to the mansion, Rachel hides out in Mutant Town, only to be tracked down by her father, Cyclops.

Mutant Town

An alley alongside an abandoned squat.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: beast, jean, ravager

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's the morning after the night before. After her fairly - all right, totally - disastrous visit to the Xavier Institute, Rachel was honestly a bit surprised that no-one stopped her leaving, and grateful that no-one's tried to drag her back. She wouldn't have put it past Nate or Laura to try, but last night's arguments were bruising enough. Rachel had no desire to rehash them with her playing the part of Henry.

Rachel takes a last look around the upper floor of the abandoned building in M-Town that she's been calling home since she arrived in this world. She's leaving it pretty much as she found it. There's not much left to suggest she was ever here, or where she might be going, and that's fine. What little stuff she's managed to amass - mostly stuff that the local residents had thrown out - is stuffed in the backpack that's slung over one shoulder.

With a final shrug, Rachel turns and clatters down the slightly rickety staircase to the ground floor, and moves toward the side door. She lays a hand on it, and on the other side, the heavy, rusted chain and padlock open seemingly of their own accord, allowing the door to swing open. Time to leave.

Scott Summers pulls up just at the mouth of the alley on his motorcycle, a sleek Kawasaki, black trimmed in scarlet. He's wearing his uniform, the X-emblem of his visor casting a rosy glow through the glass. He pulls it off and steps off the bike just as she starts to step out. The X-comm had been relating her Cerebro coordinates to him, letting him track her to her location.

He didn't really know what had happened. He was told that Rachel had come to the Institute, for the first time in a long time, and then left again. He knew there had been some sort of conflict, but, again, the details weren't given to him. He didn't need them. Rachel was his daughter and he wanted to have her home. The rest could be sorted out. First, though, he'd had to find her and convince her to come back with him.

"Hello, Rachel," he says as she steps out. "Not sure about your choice of accommodations. I'd have recommended a Motel 6, at least."

If Rachel had been thinking slightly more clearly, then she'd have scanned the alleyway before opening the door. But strategic thinking doesn't seem to be something she inherited from her father. The man who's now standing right in front of her, blocking her way. Rachel stops dead, green eyes wide. It's abundantly clear that this is not something she was expecting.

The moment that she gets a grip on herself is pretty clear too. Her instinctive move toward Scott is checked within half a step, and the look of shock melts away. She even crosses her arms tightly as if to stop herself from reaching out toward the man in front of her. He's not really her father. She tells herself she needs to remember that.

"Scott." She manages. At least she didn't lead with 'Dad'. "I'd tell you not to judge from the outside, but the inside is worse." As an attempt at humour, it's pretty weak. She shrugs. "I was trying to make Nate's money last. I'm going to need it."

Scott Summers considers for a moment, "I"m not sure where Nate's getting his money either, but that's a conversation for another day. Last I checked, he isn't working that bar at Harry's Hideaway," he says.

"But the more important thing is that you already have a place to stay. I don't know what happened yesterday, but I know that you belong with us. I'm a big believer in Mutant Town and in trying to make it a better place, but it's not there yet. It's not safe here and I want you to be back with us, on the team, helping people," he says. "If you don't want that, I understand, but I'd like to at least know why."

"He puts on a magic show." Rachel finds herself answering on autopilot, the words being spoken without her brain getting a look-in. "I don't think it pays very well." It's only when Scott mentions the Institute, even obliquely, as a place to stay that Rachel manages to wrest some control over her side of the conversation.

She shakes her head, firmly. "I'm not safe." Her arms unfold, and she runs a hand back through her short red hair, unconsciously mussing it. "It's not this place. It's me. I'm not safe to be around. I don't know what Henry or Betsy told you but… I'm probably not who you think I am." She does look younger, not to mention thinner, than he's probably expecting. "But I know what she did and who she hurt. I know it's not been forgotten, and that I'm a danger to anyone around me. Henry was… pretty clear on that point." Rachel blows out a breath, her eyes sliding to the mouth of the alley and then back to Scott. "I don't anyone hurt because of me."

Scott Summers frowns and shakes his head, "You're one of us, Rachel. If you were unsafe - and I don't accept that, not by any means - then we would find a way to help you and deal with it. As for Henry…Henry's been through some things himself lately. I'm not sure he's thinking too clearly, for all his intelligence. If he wants to throw a conniption about you being there, he knows where my office is and can take it up with me. Or Jean, for that matter."

He considers for a moment, "I accept what you say about not being the same Rachel, not only because you look a little different, but because I trust you. And what happened before, with the other Rachel…mistakes were made, no doubt. But not all of those mistakes were hers. Some were mine. We're none of us perfect. But the way to be our best selves is to work together to make it so."

A traitorous part of Rachel is starting to relax in Scott's presence. She'd like more than anything to believe him, to be able to come home. She finally stops being rooted to the spot and walks toward Scott, moving to lean - or rather slump, she didn't sleep well last night - against the wall of the building she's been staying in. She wants to argue, she's stubborn like that, but she's having trouble finding the strength. "Henry wants what I want." She says, when Scott pauses. "He wants the school to be safe. Someone tried to shoot me, almost as soon as I got here. They knew what she'd done - or maybe what I WILL do - even if I didn't. If Nate hadn't have been there, she'd have succeeded." Rachel can't look into Scott's eyes, but she's trying. "I don't care about that. I only care about who might take a bullet for me." She looks away again. "And that's only one side of it. The Government… You don't want them looking at the Institute. I know where that leads."

She goes quiet, but looks up in surprise when Scott starts speaking again. He believes her, and he doesn't blame her for what 'she' did. Including to him. That's another surprise. After a second, she smiles a bit. "I was going to run. Maybe to Canada. Hide out until what's going to happen… happens. Then try to help." She shakes her head. "It wasn't much of a plan."

Scott Summers just listens for a moment, letting her speak her peace before he answers. His posture is a little stiff, because he's Scott Summers and he could teach British aristocrats proper posture. His arms are crossed, but not in a hostile way, just thoughtful as he considers. "Well, Canada's not the worst idea - at least they have free healthcare. And syrup. I do like a good pancake." he says

"I know about the shooting, but Ravager's also not in her best place right now. Her background makes her reactionary and dangerous - she's still learning how to be her best self, too, and right now she's a little off-track. Again, part of that is my fault and I'll deal with that in due time. And anyone who takes a bullet for you does it of their own free will - we'd all do it for one another. That's part of being an X-man. Part of being a family."

"I have no patience for people taking matters into their own hands on what ifs or might have beens. It was one of the mistakes the other Rachel made, in fact, and one of the lessons I learned from it. We can't try to play God or pretend we can control the future. We have to try to make the best world we can, today, with our best efforts and hope it works out. Anything else will just make us crazy. And your mother has been working to smooth our relationship with the government - hell, part of the effort to be cooperative and open with the government is what has a hair up Henry's backside to begin with. But none of that is your fault. None of us are without sin and I don't want any X-men casting stones at each other. Least of all my flesh and blood…"

Rachel leans her head back against the rough brick wall behind her and snorts when Scott manages to convey exactly what he thinks of her whole 'run away to Canada' idea with a bit of mild humour. She lets her eyes close for a moment, admitting to herself that she hadn't been thinking clearly, that she'd been letting fear drive her. She's such a screwup, even before her other self's actions are taken into account.

Her eyes open again in surprise when Scott speaks just as calmly and matter of factly about about Rose as about everything else, and proceeds to demolish another pillar of Rachel's argument. When his tone changes a bit, when he addresses her mistakes, Rachel straightens up, away from the wall. A stubborn light is in her eyes, and her jaw sets, but this is Scott Summers, senior X-Man and, effectively, her father. Arguing with him was never going to be easy. Arguing with him when he's demonstrated how dead wrong she's been about everything so far is a lost cause. She tries anyway. "I met another time traveler. Nathaniel Richards. He told me this world doesn't have long. He…" Rachel shakes her head, giving up. "You're right. I can't control any of this. From what I've heard… she already tried that." Rachel goes quiet again. If she's honest with herself, there's nowhere to run to, and her judgement is shot. "What do I do, Dad?" She finally asks. She doesn't even realise what she just called him.

Scott Summers relaxes a little bit, feeling his shoulders untense a bit at the word. He isn't naturally a warm guy - Scott's hard to know, as anybody who grew up in orphanages getting regular beatings is likely to be. He has family now, both real and adopted, and he holds onto them fiercely. "We are the watchers on the wall, Rachel. When we see evil, we go towards it. We fight. If bad things are on the horizon, we're going to be there and we're going to win. Together," he says.

He takes a step forward and extends a gloved hand towards her, not forcing an embrace or trying to drag her. Just offering her the opportunity. "You come home, Ray. You are wanted and you are needed. Plus, your mother will kick my ass to Genosha if I don't come home with you on the back of that bike."

Rachel's eyes focus on the hand Scott extends to her. He's made it all sound so simple. Maybe, a traitorous voice in the back of her mind suggests, if she just listens to him, it can be. She reaches out and takes his hand, and her eyes come back up to his ruby red gaze. She doesn't move quite yet. "You know I want this." She tells him. "And not just because I've got nowhere to go and I'm living… here. I want this. But you have to promise me one thing." Rachel grits her teeth. She asked Nate this already, but he thinks her knows her better than she knows herself. "Don't let me make things worse."

Scott Summers squeezes her fingers when she offers the hand and, at her words, he does pull her towards him, wrapping his arms around her to give a hug. Again, it's probably a little stiff, just because he isn't sure if it's welcome and he doesn't want to push her boundaries - he's trying to bring her back into the fold, not drive her off, after all.

"Having you here will already makes things better. I don't know how much history you share with that other Rachel, but if your future is like the one she described to me, I'm glad to have you here and safe and away from all of that. You are special, yes, but that doesn't mean you're not also the same. It sounds to me like you have your heart set on making the right choices and trying your best - that's all I ever ask of any of my X-men. You're going to make me proud," he says.

When she's ready, he'll break the embrace and nod towards the bike, "C'mon, I think Jean left some lasagna in the fridge for me. I might share a bite or two with you, if you're lucky."

The hug takes Rachel off guard, and it's a couple of seconds before she can do more than simply stand there rigidly. Then, slowly, she relaxes, her free arm coming up to return the embrace at first tentatively, and then suddenly fierce and tight. Her breathing is ragged, loud in her own ears, and she doesn't trust herself to speak enough to answer at first, but he'll probably feel her nod, when he mentions her past in the world she came from.

What causes her to almost pull away, to stiffen a bit, is when he talks about pride. "In the future… my past… I did things you wouldn't be proud of." Maybe he already knows, maybe he doesn't. "I'll do better." She makes it a quiet promise, and when he lets her go, she's composed again.

She even manages a smirk when lasagne is mentioned. "Lasagne or out of date beans." She says, hefting her backpack for emphasis. "OK, you win." She follows him to the bike and climbs on board behind him.

Scott Summers nods seriously when she promises to do better, "I'll hold you to that," he says. He does have high expectations, but he subjects himself to them as much as he does anyone else. But, for now, they could leave that on the table. He reaches down to the side and pulls out a spare helmet from the knapsack on the side of the bike, tossing it to her. "Safety first, young lady," he says, climbing on.

"Hold on tight, though - I ride fast," he grins, waiting for her to join him before peeling out and heading out of the city, back towards the Institute. Back towards home.

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