Past Interlude #18
New Haven, Connecticut - 2000



Scott pulled his shoulders back, his vertebrae popping. Correcting midterms played hell on his good mood, even one augmented with a 3.8 GPA.

"Remind me again: why did I agree to do this?" Warren asked, grabbing fistfuls of hair.

"The professor needs help," Scott said. "He's only got one other teacher on staff and a load of consultation work. Besides, I need the work experience for my degree."

"Well, I don't. So I repeat: why did I agree to do this?"

"You're doing it for the take-out pizza."

Warren eyed the remaining slices with a grimace. "Of course." Taking a swig of pinot noir, he said, "You do realise that by doing this you've slammed the last nail in the coffin that will forever hold you to Xavier's."

"We need teachers."

"As long as you actually want to teach." When, after a few minutes, Scott didn't reply, Warren asked, "You do actually want to teach."

"I don't know," said Scott. "I've never really thought about it."

"You're getting an education degree and you're not even sure if you like teaching?"

Scott shrugged. "I don't hate teaching."

Reaching over the table-- not that wide to begin with-- Warren filled Scott's half-empty glass. "You know what your problem is, Summers?"

"I'm sure you'll tell me."

"You let people walk all over you. Xavier wants a teacher, you become a teacher. Your dad needs a babysitter, you take care of your brothers. Your brothers need a nursemaid, you come to their rescue. Try being a little selfish once in a while; it's good for you."

"I can be selfish," said Scot, frowning. "I asked you to come help me mark, didn't I?"

Warren shook his head. "And I thought we made progress since you started at Xavier's. The hell with this; if we've got to spend Friday night working, we're going to make this fun, dammit."

"Would that be like making Emma smile?"

"Emma smiles."

"Only when she's feeding on the liver of the young. Under a red moon. While shedding her skin to reveal the demon living in the hollow there her heart is supposed to be."

"Point." Undeterred, Warren announced, "What we need is a Test Marking Drinking Game."

"A drinking game?" Scott's left eyebrow went up. "Are you trying to embody the frat boy cliché or does it come naturally?"

"Shut up, Gamma Gaze. Here's one: take a drink for any nines that look like lower-case G's."

""We're going to get so wasted."

"Now you're catching on." Warren stretched his arms high above his head. "Last one conscious buys the loser the Heart Attack Special at the pub tomorrow."

"Deal," said Scott. "And Warren? Thanks for the--" His cell phone chirped, making both of them jump in surprise. Seeing Remy's private cell phone number on the display, he quickly answered it. "What's wrong?"

"Adam's missing," said Remy, as close to scared as Scott had ever heard.

He was on a plane to San Diego in the next hour.

"What happened?" Scott asked as soon as Remy picked him up, his Aston Martin's tires smoking from the hard brake.

"I don't know," Remy said. A cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth, its filter hopelessly chewed but left unlit in deference to Scott (or probably more accurately, the damage Scott's optic blasts could do to the car's interior if he was inclined to use them to get rid of the cigarette). "He was supposed to be home from school by dinner yesterday."

"Yesterday? And you only told me now?"

"I know knew now myself. The cops have an amber alert out. Few of them circling the neighbourhood."

"Why don't you have your gangster friends helping?"

"Why don't you have your WASP squad?"

They drove in silence all the way home. Alex claimed the single, his face drawn into a grimace as he tapped a beat out on the floor with his cleats. A detective sat with a woman who could only be Dad's current girlfriend. This one looked about Jean's age, Scott thought with disgust. Good old Dad. Where the hell was he, any way?

"He's out with the search party," said the girlfriend when Scott asked the question out loud. "Y-You're Scott right? I recognize you from the pictures."

He nodded shortly. "I can't say the same."

She flushed. "My name's Jassie. Jaspreet. You dad and I met just this year."

Tessa was last year and she'd been French. His dad's love life, as always, gave Scott a headache. He rubbed his temples. "Alex, why didn't you call as soon as Adam didn't come home?"

Alex stopped drumming his heels on the floor. "Dude, he's thirteen not three. I have my own things to do. Besides he eats dinner at his friends' houses sometimes."

"Does no one here understand the concept of cell phones?" Scott demanded, sweeping his look across the room. "Did I just buy them for you all to decorate your backpacks?"

"Well, maybe if someone wrenched himself away from his precious school every now and again, he'd be able to keep track of all three of us better," Remy shot back.

"I wouldn't talk, Mr. Week-Long Security Conference in Belgium."

"You got me all figured out, don't you?" Remy stalked to his side. Scott crossed his arms, his forehead wrinkling. "Well, I got you figured out, too, Scotty."

"Oh, do you?"

"Yeah. And y'know what? Fuck you, too."

Scott's features evened out into a mask. "You have five seconds to tell me what the hell you mean by that remark. If you can do it in less time, you get to leave without my footprint on your ass."

"You hate us," said Remy.

Scott rolled his eyes, a non-verbal reply that was no less effective for all that it was unseen. He moved from the doorway to the kitchen table and began cleaning up the used dishes.

Alex slouched into the couch. "Oh Christ, Mommy and Daddy are fighting again."

Remy waved his arms out, encompassing the room. "You got a great new place upstate, deputy headmaster to gifted children. You got a fiancée who's upper-middle class, older, hot, a doctor that probably screams Victorian curse words in be; a best friend who owns a multi-million corporation and a private jet. Scotty, you have got a fan-fucking-tastic life! Why the hell would you need to be reminded of us? I mean," he chuckled and it was a bitterly choked sound, "we're not even worth introducing."

"You're always too busy to come up to meet her," said Scott, "and I can't just fly off to New Orleans or San Diego in the middle of the school year. Let's face it; we were never big on the holidays even when we all lived in the same house."

"You barely let her talk on the phone when I call," said Remy accusingly. "What, afraid I'd charm her away even from this far away?"

"World Remy strikes again." Scott kept clearing the table, the dishes clattering angrily as he transferred from them the countertop to the sink to the dishwasher. "You barely talk to her on the phone because every time you call, it's always about some insignificant problem that you managed to trip into again and again and again. And, why is it about you again, anyway? You're not the injured party here. You're not around any more than I am so excuse me if I'm less than sympathetic to your dramatics."

"How can I be sympathetic if you tell me shit-ass nothing about your life? I can get why you hate Pops and me," Remy said, leaning against the wall. "You look at me and you can't stop thinking about the fact that your daddy slept with someone else while he was still married."

Alex finally stood up. "Everyone just shut up right now! Just shut the hell up, okay? You two always do this when we're in the same room! It's like fucking Jerry Springer without the cross-dressing."

They ignored him. "Alex is easy enough to clash with since he can be such an egotistical turd," said Remy.

"Fuck you, Remy."

"Shut up, Alex."

"You shut up, you himbo."

Scott slid the dishwasher closed oh so gently. Jassie was long gone and Scott was willing to bet that Dad was going to be single again real soon. Nothing like family to make you want to get the hell out of Dodge. "Both of you shut up," he said. "Adam's just being an annoying, idiot teenager but this isn't helping any."

"You deal with annoying idiot teenagers every day," Alex pointed out.

"None of them give me as much trouble as you guys." His head throbbed. He was surprised that his skull hadn't fractured with the force. Scott turned his attention to the living room. The carpet needed vacuuming. Who the hell did the vacuuming when he wasn't around? Obviously, no one.

Smirking, Remy leaned against the back of the couch. "What's that matter, Scotty? No pretty middle-aged redheads here to massage the stress-boner away?"

Scott moistened a dishcloth to wipe down the countertops.

"Maybe he's got the crone on one side and a sweet little thing on the other," he continued. "That must be why you don't hate them as much as you hate us."

"What makes you think that Dad or any of you register long enough on my radar anymore to generate hatred?" he said through gritted teeth.

Remy and Alex went silent. The room conspicuously cleared of all policemen; they were probably outside sucking down coffee and contemplating vasectomies.

In a harsh whisper, Remy said, "Fine."

Alex took a deep breath and released it in a nervous chuckle. "Oh, wow, that's a great Jerry Springer episode right there."

Scott and Remy ignored him again. "Okay, Scotty, you do me this favour," said Remy. "Help us find Adam and after that, we can be dead to you once and for all, okay, fucktard?"

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