by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: I'm a movie fan. I've been referred to the comic canon on Scott's past, and it still sounds really complicated, and damn near killed my bunnies, so I'm ignoring it. This fic is based on the movie and the novelization (which you don't need to read to understand this). Got that? I am defying comic canon. You have been warned!

Sequel to "Shut Your Eyes". I got this bunny while writing that one. It interrupted the slash bunny I was writing, and it was short, so I indulged it. I hope it lives up to "Shut Your Eyes". Please let me know.

Thanks/Dedication: To kaly, who sat up with me until insane hours of the morning betaing. Sleep? What sleep? Why sleep when we can have hysterical fun devising endorsements for raybans! One small step for Scott, one giant leap for rayban... Jean wouldn't thank us, but Logan might. *g* kaly, you are powerful, to not only make me see a character I like, but to make me stay up late writing fic for him, complaining about people who don't do him justice, and happily betaing for you when I've never betaed before! It's all your fault! *laughs* (See, told ya I'd respond *g*). Wait...there was supposed to be a fic in here? Right. Okay, back to business...

Scott was listening to the TV when the doorbell rang. He stood, barely paused to turn off the set and was carefully finding his way to the stairs when a familiar set of clicks told him the door was being unlocked and opened. He cursed under his breath, trying to move faster. He couldn't deal with this, not again, not anymore. Couldn't they just leave him alone?

Visitors in the past two months hadn't been friendly. Reporters that had heard of the 'incident' at the dance kept showing up with invasive comments. Parents worried for their children watched him constantly - he could feel their eyes, even if he couldn't see them looking. The kids themselves hurled cruel words at him, tempting him to unleash his power on them. Instead he shut his eyes tighter, and hunched his shoulders against their verbal barbs.

It was enough to make Scott want to hide from the world. He'd shut himself away from it when he closed his eyes, but he hadn't realized the harsher parts would chase after him. It wasn't fair. If he was going to give up the world, why couldn't he give up all of it? He did all he could, and that included making himself scarce when his parents answered the door.

He had his foot on the first step when the dreaded words reached his ears. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Summers. My name is Charles Xavier. I was hoping I might have a word with your son."

Something stopped Scott from bolting up the stairs. He couldn't have said what it was, but his mom must have felt it, too, because she didn't respond the way she had to everyone else. "Why?" Instead of resentful, or protective, she merely sounded curious. Odd...his mother had become his gauge on the outside world. Her simple question made him willing to hear the response.

The tone of Xavier's answer was grave, but reassuring. "Because he's very alone right now, Mrs. Summers. He's been cut off from the world, or the world has abandoned him. He needs someone to show him the way back. Someone to help him see the future again."

Maybe it was stupid, but it was that phrase 'see the future' that brought Scott back into the living room. "Mom?" he asked, a bit uncertainly, not sure she was still there. "It's okay. I'll talk to him."

"If you're sure..." His mother trailed off, but a moment later there was the sound of the door shutting. Scott frowned. Why couldn't he hear footsteps? He went and sat on the couch, letting his visitor come to him, because there was nothing to tell him where Xavier was.

And then somehow he knew where to look, knew to offer his hand at waist height, rather than to lift it higher. "Scott Summers," he introduced himself.

His hand was taken in a firm, dry grip. "Charles Xavier. It's good to meet you." Scott nodded, not sure how to respond to that. "I suppose you're wondering why I'm here."

"Not really." The words slip out before he can stop them, but he can't regret that they've been said, no matter how rude it was. "Everyone comes for the same reason. They heard about what I did, and they're scared. Or they're worried. Or they're curious, and they want a demo." The words come fast, his tone growing firmer with every sentence. "I'm sorry, but I'm not a sideshow freak. I don't perform on command. And you don't need to worry. I closed my eyes, and it stopped. I'm not going to open them again."

The man that sat before Scott probably didn't deserve to hear that outburst. It wasn't aimed at his visitor, but at the world that at once rejected Scott and hounded him for what he'd become. Now that someone was finally listening Scott discovered the words needed to say what he'd been feeling.

"Of course you are," Xavier said, sounding almost proud, "but not for me. You'll open your eyes because you can't see without them. And you're going to need to see."

Scott tilted his head. "Why?"

There was hardly a pause before he spoke, but somehow Scott knew the answer he got wasn't the whole story. "I've founded a school. It's in Westchester County, New York. I created it for people, for children, who need a sanctuary. Children with gifts, like you, and like me."

The words rang true, but Scott found himself growing more and more curious about the further purpose he somehow knew was lurking. Sanctuary. A place of safety, for children. But children need guardians... The idea that was forming in Scott's mind was vague, but it fit with Xavier in a way a darker purpose would not have. Still, it was so hard to trust blindly...

"Give me one reason I should believe you can do any of that. Give me one reason I should trust you." The words were phrased as a challenge, but spoken as a plea. Safety had become a dream in the past two months, a dream that grew more distant with every day his dad refused to speak to him. With every friend that hung up the phone on him. With every day he woke, his eyes taped shut because he didn't trust himself not to blink when he first woke.

"Come outside with me, and I'll show you the reason." In the world of sounds that Scott's life had become, there was something about this man's voice that said 'trust me'. He reached out, and his fingers found an arm. "Hold onto the back of my chair, and I'll take you outside."

This man was in a wheelchair? As soon as the thought surfaced, Scott felt ashamed of it. Personal strength wasn't necessarily reflected in physical strength. It was something he'd always known but never really understood, until now... Maybe it was true.

They stopped on the sidewalk that bisected Scott's lawn. He could see it in his mind's eye, but quickly shoved the familiar image aside. Imagination was temptation.

"I spoke to the doctor that examined you after your gift manifested," Xavier began. Scott found himself grinning for the first time since the prom. 'After his gift manifested', not 'after the incident'. "And I spoke to the people that were there. It took me longer than I would have liked, but I eventually discovered something I'd like you to have." Something brushed against Scott's hands. Sunglasses? He frowned. Was this some kind of a joke, after all?

"Trust me, Scott."

There's power in a name. It was the loss of his name that told him the world had rejected him. Maybe, just maybe, part of the world was ready to take him back. Scott took the sunglasses and slipped them on carefully. They hugged his head as if they'd been made for him, and the frames traced a path around his eyes, fitting more closely than any glasses he'd worn before. Trusting Xavier, but not himself, he turned his face towards the sky. He could have done this before. It would probably have been safe, but if imagination were temptation, then action would be damning.

Opening his eyes was hard. They'd become gummed shut, though he did his best to wipe a lot of it away. More than that, it was hard to overcome weeks of training his eyelids not to so much as flicker. It was hard to hope. Most of all, it was hard to face the red beams that he knew would emerge. To be forced to acknowledge his mutation.

No. His gift.

Scott let out a long, nervous breath, and forced his eyes open. He almost cried out as the beams lanced out. Just in time, he realized that they traveled no farther than the glasses he wore. Glasses with red lenses, so that the entire world was bathed in ruby light, as if escaped after all.

Scott lowered his head from a red sky to survey the red tinted world before him. A man in a wheelchair was looking up at him, smiling slightly. At that moment, Scott recognized him. He was a dream. He was hope. Scott blinked back tears, but found them falling anyway when the simple freedom of that action struck him.

He let out a short, slightly hysterical laugh, and closed his eyes briefly so that he could remove the glasses and wipe the tears away. Replacing them, somehow not ashamed of crying, he held out his hand and introduced himself again. "Scott Summers. I'd like to go to Westchester with you, Mr. Xavier."

Xavier's smile broadened. "The school will be glad to have you, Scott."

"I'll be happy to attend it," Scott said, smiling. The expression stretched muscles that had grown unused to it. He smiled wider. "But that's not why I'm going. I'd like to work with you."

Xavier looked started for a moment, then chuckled. "In time, Scott. In time."