Mr. Winters and how he ruined Scott Summers. Xavier makes an appearance.
Scott Summers devoted as much time as he could to extracurricular activities. If they were free ones, all the better. Money was a problem for Scott.
Mister Winters did not like Scott wasting money.
The ones that earned money were better, and funded the ones that didn’t. And sometimes contributed to his dinner.
But he had to be home by seven. Or Mister Winters would get angry.
Mister Winters got… unpredictable… when he was angry.
Scott didn’t want to make him angry. He did everything he could, every day, to make absolutely, positively certain that Mister Winters was as happy as he could be. Every morning, he got up the instant he heard the alarm clock in the neighbours’ house. Cleaned himself carefully with a washcloth and soap and as little water as he could get away with. He re-bound his eyes and cooked Mister Winters’ favourite breakfast by smell and feel.
Eggs. Sunny side up. Bacon. Toast. Golden brown and fried in the bacon grease. A one-inch thick slice of steak tomato, also fried. Sausage, pork. Lightly salted and peppered. Cooked to a T. Set up in Mister Winters’ place in front of his best chair and a hot coffee and an ice-cold beer. Knife, fork, cup and glass all just so on the tray.
And all the mess cleaned away before he could see it.
Only when Mister Winters slumped in his chair would Scott find and clean a bowl and spoon before helping himself to whatever cereal had the least bugs in it.
There was no milk. Milk was for pussies.
He ate quick. He had to finish before Mister Winters or he would notice. Things went bad when he noticed. He swallowed his last mouthful and got to washing up before the telltale creak that meant Mister Winters had got up again.
“What in hell do you call this?”
Scott offered his hand for it. It was only sometimes that Mister Winters remembered that Scott was effectively blind.
“Ah, shit,” gnarled hands put cold glass in his.
His fingers traced the label. “Feels like… your beer?”
“Stupid-ass shit,” growled Winters. “Can’t see it, can ya, cloth-eyes?”
Crap. He was angry. No matter what he did, things were going to go bad. People asked dangerous questions when he came to school with bruises. Questions that got Mister Winters mad. Questions that caused more pain.
And sometimes the inspectors came, and made sure the house was clean and that Scott had access to food and water and hygiene. Made certain he had clean clothes.
And did exactly nothing about anything that was happening beyond that. Because if he told the truth, nothing legal was done, and Winters would be vicious for months afterwards. If he told the right lies, there was a passing chance Winters would only use his belt for one night, and forget about his fists for at least a week. Figuring out which was the best thing to do was a no-brainer.
Somehow, during today’s beating, his bandages came off. They were cheaper than sunglasses, which some of the rich mean kids stole for laughs and then mocked his scars. And he could make them out of any old rag Winters let him have. What happened next… was confusing.
He saw…. the table, the floor, the pile of porn that the inspectors ignored because Scott was blind. The opposite wall. All tearing away in the force of a bright red light. He felt lifted up. Tossed like a rag doll against the other wall. And then all feeling was gone.
Consciousness. After what he’d just seen, Scott did not want to open his eyes again. He used all his senses to figure out what was going on.
Old pleather. The back seat of Mister Winters’ car, replete with the stink of old sex from when the old man could rent a woman for some fun. And the miasma of rotten take-out. Moving. Just a hair on the side of legal. Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Soft cussing from the drivers’ seat.
He started to sit up.
“Stay down, asshat. I tole everyone you were in hospital.”
Scott huddled in place. Breathing shallowly so he didn’t have to choke on the stink of the back-seat cushions. He tried to count the turns and measure the distance, but he had no starting point, and no idea where he was.
At last, they stopped.
Winters got out. Opened a back door. “Out.” And then dragged him out anyway. Roughly pushed him in conflicting directions. Manhandled his head.
“Sumbitches think they goin’ steal money off'n me… sumbitches got another think comin’…” Winters mumbled.
It was cold, and he was still in his singlet and shorts. What passed for pajamas. It was quiet. “Is it night time?”
“Shaddup an’ open your eyes, idjit.”
“I don’t wanna hurt anyone or anything,” risked Scott. It was the first time he objected to anything Winters told him to do.
Fist to the kidneys. Rough hands wrenching him up by the hair. Alcohol-infused breath in his face. “When I say open your eyes, scumnuts, you open them right up! Now OPEN! THEM! EYES!”
He was right in front of Scott.
The last thing Scott saw was Winter’s face as he realized this. Seconds before his head both blew apart, and off.
Scott shut his eyes just as the red light hit the ATM and shattered the money-box. He tore off Winter’s weather-worn sleeve and desperately wrapped his eyes with it. And then, because something warm, wet and sticky was touching his leg, Scott got up and walked, carefully, until he found a reference point.
Good wall. Nice wall. Warm wall. It mustn’t have been far into the night because it retained the heat of the day. Therefore, west wall. He followed it away from the scene. Tried to sop up as much heat as he could before he had to go in other directions.
Car. blocking his escape. Pulling up just as he ran out of wall.
“Who are you?” he asked. “Not a friend of Mister Winters?”
“No. I never had the misfortune of meeting him. My name is Professor Charles Xavier. And I would like to help you.”
Someone wrapped him up in something warm. Someone who smelled like spices and hot, lazy days. “My name’s Ororo. Would you like to come with us?”
There was take-out chicken in the car. Fresh. There were no other answers but, “Yes, please?”