White Rabbit

by Domenika Marzione

15/ November-December 2007

By unspoken agreement, perhaps some sort of geologist's intuition (Lily felt more different being an engineer in a posse of geologists than being the spouse of a group member and not one of the original cohort), they moved to a large rock formation a yard or so in from the walkway. Central Park was good for that. In warmer weather, there would have been children climbing all over the surface, but November had brought its chill and the youngsters who were not currently in school were too bundled up to be up for much in the way of exploration.

"I have to admit," Sanjay began with an obviously false curmudgeonliness as he leaned down to get a better look, "that young Dane was disturbingly cute in his Halloween costume. The Tigger outfit worked well with the rosy cheeks."

Lily smiled. Behind Sanjay, his boyfriend Adrian was rolling his eyes dramatically as if to indicate that Sanjay's initial reaction to the photos had been much less phlegmatic.

With Ji-Won back in the northern hemisphere for her sister's wedding this coming weekend and Sanjay returning to Princeton to deliver a talk, Valeri had flown in from Utah to make up an impromptu reunion of most of Alex's old Geology cohort. It was a time for catching up, really; a chance for Ji-Won to show off Kyung, for everyone to meet Dane in person and to see Lily for the first time since Alex disappeared, and for Sanjay to give up the pretense that he had no romantic life. Lily had been a little hesitant to join the group initially, but she was glad she had pulled herself away from her work to come to lunch and the extended socializing afterwards. It hadn't been nearly as hard as she thought it might be, although in the almost-year that had passed, many more things were falling into that category. Getting used to Alex's absence was both nauseating and comforting.

But any fears about lunch being awkward proved unfounded as they had mostly discussed academic stuff - Sanjay's attempts to get some sort of ichthyosaurus re-classified (Adrian providing a dramatic re-enactment of Sanjay at his most incensed that had had the waiter coming by to make sure nobody was choking), Valeri's adjustment to life in Utah ("I have traveled thousands of miles to escape one sort of totalitarianism only to plunge myself back into another one," he had sighed mournfully), Ji-Won and Kyung's fantastic tales of life in the New Lands (including the diamond mine that had been discovered accidentally outside Biosphere Seven when Facilities had gone to install a new humidifier), and Lily's recounting of the set-to with the Greek contingent that had recently been renewed by being moved into a more mainstream mechanical engineering journal.

As if sensing that he was the topic of conversation, Dane started making happy noise and indicating that he wanted out of his stroller. Lily unbuckled him and offered him to Sanjay, who at first looked like he was being offered a painful death, but took the baby and smiled in spite of himself as Dane nestled happily and Adrian looked on smugly.

"And this is all possible because of his outfit?" Valeri asked, reaching out tentatively and touching Dane's arm. Dane was dressed in his special clothes underneath his jacket and mittens and hat and, through them, even contact with his skin would not cause pain. The mittens and hat were to preserve body heat, but the jacket was half-open so that he wouldn't overheat.

"Yeah," Lily confirmed. The clothes were a miracle of alien technology combined with human ingenuity, although the Shi'ar aspect of it was not discussed. "Reed Richards worked with the idea for the fabric and it was made for Dane up in Westchester."

The fabric, such as it was, was a complex weave of super-thin fiber-optic cable, coated microns-wide copper wire, and cotton threads. And other stuff, which even Reed didn't quite understand. It wasn't as soft as cotton could be - it was more like cotton sheets than t-shirt material - but it was still pleasant to the touch and Lily had no worries about it irritating Dane's skin. Or getting damaged when he put it into his mouth. Dane was too far into the 'everything is edible' phase for Lily to be too worried about her son.

"Well, the whole idea that it glows is just boggling," Valeri mused, watching Dane's t-shirt change colors. It did so constantly and to a striking effect - the fiber-optic cable had been combined with something Reed had been annoyingly oblique about (although Lily knew that he often couldn't help himself) to produce an effect not unlike a cross between a mood ring and a neon sign. If Dane was at a relatively low charge, the material was in the purple-blue range and it worked its way up to the reds and oranges if he was carrying more volts. It was occasionally hard to coordinate outfits, but the tradeoff was worth it. For the first time in his life, Dane could be touched by someone other than his mother, his blood relatives, or a very narrow range of mutants.

"It's not that hard to understand how it does so," Valeri went on, sitting back even as he still watched the shirt shimmer between shades of indigo and green. "Different voltages activating different colors and all. But to be done on such a microscopic level..."

There was a general murmur of agreement. It was one thing to see such effects at the science fair in a giant demonstration. It was another to see it in a shirt small enough for the average infant.

"Now all that needs to happen is for it to be mass-produced," Ji-Won said, looking pointedly at Kyung before elbowing him gently in the ribs. "Dane's not the only baby - or even the only person - who could make use of it."

"We're working on it, we're working on it," Kyung cried out with a laugh. Indeed, Lily knew that the New Lands' Commerce Ministry was offering a bounty to any textile manufacturer who could produce the material. It was an offer typical of the general innovating initiative that was an essential part of the developing New Lands culture - the latest in everything high-tech, especially anything that could help mutants.

While there were plenty of Dane-specific items that had come from the New Lands, his outfits came courtesy of the Shi'ar fabricator in Westchester, one of the many invaluable gifts that had come from there. But despite the seemingly never-ending supply of gadgets, gifts, and new ideas that came from the X-types (now mostly from the XSE, although Lily had also been the beneficiary of Hank McCoy's friendship with Reed Richards), all had not been happy either in the Summers family or in the extended X-clan since Dane's birth.

The pressure for Lily to move to Westchester had grown intense, especially as the projected costs for Dane-proofing the apartment had mounted. With no precautions, Dane could rather easily push five milliamperes of current - enough to hurt people as well as damage property.

 But Lily had been adamant about staying independent - she didn't want Dane to grow up in the fortress-like existence in which the twins and Clare and now Harry and Nate were forced to live. Unable to move through the world because of their unprotected minds, they could have no other friends their ages. And, more terrifying to Lily, their social skills were developing wildly unevenly as the result of knowing only adult companionship and the admittedly weird confraternity of other psis. Lily didn't want Dane to either develop along similar lines or suffer the consequences of being headblind among children who did not understand the concept apart from the fact that it made him different from them. Logan had had to explain to Nicholas that Dane wasn't damaged because he couldn't reach out mentally the way little Nate could and that episode had only hardened Lily's resolve.

"Well, it must be cool to be so trendy so young," Ji-Won decided with an approving nod and Lily laughed with the others, happy that her wandering mind hadn't been detected. Especially among people who hadn't seen her in a while, any woolgathering on her part tended to be assumed to have to do with Alex when, point of fact, it rarely did anymore. At least in public.

"My son the fashion plate," she agreed, reaching out to wipe at the corner of Dane's mouth. As was his habit of late, Dane pulled his head away and batted ineffectually at her hand. "Ah, the downsides of emotional development."

In the end, it had been Scott who had effectively stopped the simmering through his quiet defection to Lily's side. He had never discussed his reasons with her, but Lily suspected that it had something to do with his own childhood and his reluctance to let any other child grow up feeling either dangerous or like an outcast. Whatever the motivations, things had settled down in the past month and there had been no lingering coolness when Lily had taken Dane up to Westchester for the twins' fifth birthday party the previous week.

"So has this haute couture made it easier to know when Dane's..." Valeri trailed off, gesturing with his hand to indicate what he meant.

"Too high voltage?" Lily asked and Valeri nodded, a little embarrassed. After six months, Lily had gotten used to people hesitating to use any terms that might make it sound like Dane was an appliance. But Lily had gotten over such qualms - voltage was as much a part of her life as Dane's weight and height and intermittent interest in learning to crawl. "Oh, no. Dane makes it perfectly clear when he's got too much juice. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize it wasn't colic."

In fact, Lily's understanding of Dane's energy needs was growing every day. He required some - if he got drained too far, he was lethargic (hence the automatic correlation between Bishop and naps; thankfully Dane had not yet gotten suspicious of the man). If he was carrying too much, he got fussy. Within his normal range (according to the voltmeter that had been attached to his diaper for much of his life), Dane was generally very happy. So happy that Lily occasionally got concerned.

"I worry sometimes that I'm doping him," she admitted with a wry smile as she pulled out a bottle and offered it to Sanjay, who took it and looked perplexed for a moment before Dane reached out for it. She'd started the transition to the bottle in earnest last month; she wanted Dane to be done with nursing by the time classes began in January. Thankfully, Dane was being accommodating, especially when people other than her offered bottles. "He likes being around electrical fields. A lot. And I wonder if I'm not keeping him on some sort of permanent high by living in Manhattan instead of going off to Alaska or someplace less urban."

There was a ripple of amusement through the group, although it was laced with a bit of curiosity and concern. The general reaction to Dane, both in and out of the mutant community, was one of awe - electrokinetics were not common and certainly not as a mutation that was infant-onset. The restrictions were novel to everyone, as were Lily's attempts to find ways to break them down. Personally, she didn't find anything extraordinary about it - she was doing exactly what every other parent of a child with special needs would do.

"Do you know if Alex was affected that way?" Ji-Won asked thoughtfully. "I mean, I know all energy producers aren't the same, but if there are similarities between Alex and his brother, then perhaps it's safe to extend the properties to Dane."

"I don't know," Lily admitted. "Alex was always happy outdoors, but who's to say whether that was because he absorbs cosmic radiation, which is more readily available outdoors, or simply because he grew up outside of cities and likes the outdoors? Scott's the same way, but in general he's really hard to use as an example. He was injured as a child and so nobody's really sure whether the differences between him and Alex in terms of their powers are a consequence of that or not. I haven't taken Dane far enough outside of the city for us to even know if he absorbs any sort of radiation - there's enough garden-variety electricity for him to be juicing up on that alone."

"Don't you have a place in Alaska you can go to?" Valeri asked, kicking some dry leaves with his foot until the grass was visible underneath. "Dane's old enough to fly. But it's a long trip..."

"And there's that whole 'please turn off all electronic devices' announcement they make," Ji-Won added with a derisive snort. "That's going to make vacations interesting. And here I was hoping to convince you to bring him down to Aliyah next summer."

"Well," Lily demurred, "there are always other ways for us to travel. Being Havok's son has gotten Dane a lot so far. A lot. I don't think I'd be able to do much of anything were I on my own. And the alternatives are unthinkable."

It was a horrifying and humbling thought, one that had gone through Lily's mind constantly in the months of tenseness between her and Westchester and one that still made her shudder: it was a fact of post-Merge life - with exceedingly rare exception, almost all children with alpha-level infant-onset mutations were institutionalized. Even were it possible to care for such a child at home, the costs of doing so were usually prohibitive. And while Lily had no concerns financially in terms of everyday matters - even on leave, Lily drew salary and (courtesy of some creative paper-pushing by Lorna) she still received Alex's paychecks for his being a part of X-Factor at the time of his disappearance - there was no way she'd have been able to afford even a fraction of the more advanced tools and toys she used to make it possible for Dane to live a nominally 'normal' life.  

"Paul and Stephanie thank heaven daily that Jeffrey hasn't manifested," Ji-Won agreed, her resentment at the direness of the situation evident in the set of her crossed arms. "But at least you've got the DCM now," she added with the pride of someone from the New Lands.

The Directed Conductive Matrix (DCM), roughly speaking, was a mesh of incredibly thin metal filaments coated in a mysterious material (patented and kept more secret than the Coca-Cola formula, although Lily privately suspected that it was really rather basic 38th-Century technology) that allowed for one-way conductivity. From any point on the matrix, the DCM absorbed certain kinds of energy, converted it to electricity, and sent it along the metal filament to battery-like energy sinks. The stuff came in giant sheets that looked like a cross between chicken wire and plastic kitchen wrap and was applied to walls and floors as if it were insulation and with nothing more high-tech than a blow dryer. While almost every new home in the New Lands was now built with it already installed, it had only recently been readily available - at a rather high cost - outside of Antarctica.

"I saw a demonstration of that last semester at St. Andrew's," Adrian murmured with a disbelieving shake of his head. A physical chemist, he and Sanjay had met at a symposium the previous year, although Sanjay had waited for months to tell anyone. When it had finally become unavoidable - Adrian had answered the phone one morning, apparently - Ji-Won had pronounced it the least surprising outing since Elton John. "Astonishing stuff. The presenter was going on and on about how they had barely gotten started on improvements and how they were still experimenting with the diameter of the filament and there were a few metal alloys they'd like to try and all I could think of was how they were missing the point. The whole idea in and of itself is just brilliant. In primary school we used to grow sugar crystals on wire running through solution. And now we're here."

"We are here," Valeri agreed. "Sitting on a rock in Central Park. Amidst trees and grass and flowers that I have almost forgotten that I knew existed. Salt flats do not do much for me if I cannot dig through them."

"You're drawing yourself a nice big salary," Sanjay retorted. "Buy yourself a shovel."


"Reed? It's Lily Summers. Judging by the beeps you've got a ton of messages, so I'll keep this brief. Dane's starting to short out the light-producing clothing. I don't know why yet - I don't have anything in the house that will let me see where the problems are. It's not a simple tear - they work for about ten minutes and then blow. I'll take them up to school on Thursday when I go in if I don't hear from you by then, but if you have a moment I'd really appreciate a call-back. Best to you, Susan, and Franklin."

*

"I know Mommy offered you carrots for dinner, but she's not very good with the labeling and one baggie of orange frozen puree cubes looks a lot like another. How about butternut squash? And I'm pretty sure the green cubes are kale and spinach, which I know you'll love because it does spectacular things to your diapers."

*

"Don't cry, Dane. It's not your fault. I told Felix that he was going to get in trouble if he bothered you when you weren't grounded. The cat will be fine. Heck, the shock may have been good for him - that's the fastest I've ever seen him run and I've known him longer than I've known you. It's all right, sweetie, don't cry. You scared him more than he scared you. Really."


"Lily!"

The call came from the other end of the studio and Lily looked up. Bobby was wearing a pained expression. And a Santa hat.

"Let me guess," she said, wiping off her hands on her jeans and standing up. "Diaper check?"

They had gathered in Piotr's studio - Rogue and Bobby had come down from Westchester and Orly from Rockland - to help Lily with the creation of a playpen for Dane that Lily could set up in her office at school. The idea was both simple and complex; to keep Dane amused while keeping him contained.  The plans had been designed by Lily and Orly with help from Piotr and the Fisher-Price website and involved what Lily hoped was a happy medium between Piotr's aesthetics and her mechanics.

Bobby's face went from pained to wry. "I can pretty much verify that the check will come back positive."

Lily sighed dramatically and shook her head. "You are such a wuss," she told Bobby as she picked the grinning Dane up from the cushion prison they had built for him. "And you, Sunshine, are not helping."

Actually, Dane was helping. Tremendously. Today was the one-year anniversary of Alex's disappearance and Lily had sharply refused all notions of a gathering - to commemorate what, she had asked. Instead, she could let the fact that Dane was going to celebrate his first Christmas take over her thoughts. That, and the challenge that was going to be her first semester back at school since Dane had been born. Professionally, the leave had been productive - well within the expectations she had set up when she had first decided to take the semester off. Two articles written and submitted for review was not a bad haul considering the complex life that had come into her own in May.

Key to the return to work was what to do with Dane. A babysitter was next to impossible - how could Lily leave Dane in the care of someone who couldn't take care of his needs without harm coming to them? The solution had presented itself - at a cost. The Mechanical Engineering department needed a new undergraduate 'mentor' and wanted someone to balance out the group - they already had one of the robotics people and the younger of the biomechanical specialists. It would mean an additional five hours a week of open hours (although Lily had been assured that it would be mostly free time) - almost two classes' worth of time on top of the two she was already teaching. But in return, Dane would be allowed to stay in the office with her and she'd get to switch offices to something larger than the breadbox she had been stuck in the past four-and-a-half years. What to do with Dane during class hours had yet to be determined, but in order for him to be there at all, Lily needed some place to put him. Hence today.

The playpen was not that far from normal - PVC pipe skeleton and synthetic mesh skin - but it had to be built from scratch rather than co-opting an existing model. There could be no exposed metal parts and there was insulated wire running through the padded PVC to connect the various appliances and toys. In addition to the sorts of low-level, brightly colored interactive toys that were good for toddlers (according to Fisher-Price), there were a couple of Dane-specific items to use up some of the energy he produced.

Pride of place went to a small colored-light board that Orly had found at a garage sale. It had removable plastic bulbs that were too big for Dane to swallow but were easy enough for his burgeoning motor skills to control. Rogue had contributed a string of Christmas lights in the shapes of farm animals, although they hadn't yet decided which two sides that would run along. There was also the requisite voltmeter and step-down controller, the custom-designed battery-cum-capacitor to draw off and store the electricity, the current adapter, and a ground-fault interrupter that had also been tweaked. And Bobby had somehow come up with two Westchester County "Danger: High Voltage" signs.

By the time Lily returned with a sweeter-smelling infant, Bobby and Rogue had run the last of the cord through the pipe. The bottom part of the frame was already assembled and Orly was testing all of the connections, muttering about how she was spending her weekends doing exactly what she did at work. Piotr appeared out of a closet with the plastic-wrapped padded cushion that was going to make up the bottom. It had come from the New Lands and was basically a giant square bolster with copper and nickel ribbon woven through it.

"It's pink," Bobby said with some surprise as Lily placed Dane back in the makeshift safe area. "I would have thought you'd have ordered it in another color."

"If it came in another color," Piotr replied with a shrug as he tore off the plastic. "Perhaps we might have done so."

Bobby made a face and then turned to shrug at Dane, who was observing him closely. Lily noticed that a lot with Dane - he was a big people-watcher.

"It's good to go," Orly pronounced as she stood up. "We can drop the top on now."

Rogue showed off a little by taking to the air and holding the frame slightly aloft so that it could be easily aligned with the base and the joints fastened in place simultaneously by the others. She then hoisted the entire playpen up - taking advantage of the fact that Piotr's loft had nice high ceilings so that all of the electrical connections could be made and checked once more.

The phone rang just as Piotr dropped the pad into the playpen. He went to the table by his desk to answer it while the others tried to figure out which was the best way to plug the cushion into the frame.

"I have to go down to Grinnell's gallery for a moment," Piotr announced when he returned.

"Is there a problem?" Rogue asked, looking and sounding concerned.

The general reaction to the return of Peter Nicholas had been positive, although there had been a couple of instances of paintings being sold because the owners hadn't wanted anything created by a mutant terrorist/hero. Within the art world, however, Piotr had been welcomed back to a degree that made him uncomfortable - he was not, Lily knew, a man for the spotlight and was greatly embarrassed by requests to talk at exhibitions and art schools. Nevertheless, Piotr was now working long hours to produce enough new pieces for the show opening next month that would commemorate the one-year anniversary of his 'return'.

"The opposite, actually," he replied, an odd smile playing on his face. "I should be back very shortly. There is beer in the refrigerator if you all finish before I return."

"All right," Bobby agreed slowly, obviously not quite convinced that Piotr was on a harmless errand. "We'll see you in a few."

Once Piotr left, the four speculated on the reason for the sudden departure. What could be going on at the gallery on a Sunday evening? Bobby wondered if it wasn't an incidence of anti-mutant destruction - say a damaged painting or a nasty poster. Rogue scoffed at that idea, saying that Piotr would have said something if it was anything like that. Orly wondered if someone hadn't come in demanding to meet the artist in order to commission a piece. Lily wasn't sure what it was, but didn't think it was any of the above.

When the playpen was minimally ready - it was still missing toys and pillows and other amenities - Dane was dropped in for a test sit. At first he wasn't terribly happy at being cut off from the rest of the world - he couldn't see everyone and everything. Lily had been worried about this. Ever since the failure of the energy-absorbing cloth, Dane had been basically reduced to four of his senses, lacking touch. To limit another one had to send off some sort of primal alert. His wail of distress was cut short, however, when he realized that his mother and everyone else were suddenly visible as they stood over the playpen. Object permanence hadn't really set in yet.

"Maybe we should investigate a mirror," Orly mused as Lily knelt down and held Dane up so that he was sort-of standing and holding on to the rail. He wasn't strong enough to stand for long, even aided, but it was enough for Bobby to drop to the floor and put his face against the mesh and get Dane's attention. Lily let Dane down so that he, too, had his face against the mesh. Bobby pulled away slightly to avoid any shock, but the two managed to have a cheerfully incoherent little conversation and Dane seemed slightly mollified.

Lily moved around to where Orly was checking out how the meters and converters worked with Dane actually in the playpen. The plug to the wall ran from the ground-fault interrupter and nothing in the room had flickered or otherwise indicated that there had been a surge or deficit. The small, flat digital readout gave the current power, the high and the low and the average in a neat order.  This was where the tinkering would have to be - how to draw enough energy off of Dane so that he'd be comfortable without leaving him perpetually sluggish.

Dane wasn't interested in investigating his little prison - and Lily realized that it had indeed gone from playpen to holding cell, at least until Dane accepted that nobody was going anywhere just because he didn't see them - until Rogue started playing with the lights and toys at the other end. That drew his attention somewhat and Rogue moved him over to the other side so that he could reach out for the bright red bulb, pulling it out. The bulb - a clear piece of plastic - went dark and he looked charmingly perplexed by what he had done until Rogue guided his hand back to the board and plugged the bulb into another slot and it turned blue. Dane squealed happily.

After a bit more playing, Lily picked up Dane and pulled out the baby food. While Piotr wasn't back yet, Dane could still eat. Rogue and Orly started a strange conversation about synthetic skin while Lily fed Dane semolina and purees of carrots and broccoli. Making her own baby food had not been anything she'd planned to do, but a box from her mother had contained silicone ice cube trays and instructions and the resulting emails had been the most civil and constructive that they'd exchanged in a long time. Of course, Dane was soon going to be ready for chunkier fare and there was no way her mother was going to have suggestions for how to properly emulsify beef stew, but Lily could be gracious enough to appreciate the help this far.

"Rogue," Bobby finally protested as she and Orly were still talking about synthetic skin tissue, his face wrenched in horrified disgust, "Can we please stop the further exploration of your 'Silence of the Lambs' fantasy? Fake skin isn't going to do you any better or worse than gloves and a body suit. And it's significantly more disturbing."

Rogue blushed and Orly and Lily laughed. Dane, attempting to mimic the laughter, dribbled applesauce. As Lily wiped his mouth, Dane tried to get away and then pointed towards the doorway with a chubby and dirty fist.

Piotr looked, for lack of a better expression, bemusedly distracted.

"You're safe," Bobby said by way of greeting as he got up off of the floor near Lily and Dane.

"I am," Piotr agreed, pointing behind him towards the hallway to the rest of the apartment. "And I am quite hungry. I would have thought you all would have raided the refrigerator already."

"Nah, we're all legit now," Rogue replied with a sigh, also standing up. "The X-Men woulda raided the fridge, but, well, I'm an officer now."

Laughter rang out among the group as they headed towards the kitchen. Rogue and Bobby had brought dinner supplies - a healthy stack of steaks and bag of potatoes. They attempted dinner with the same mixed results as the construction of the playpen. Lily mostly watched, holding Dane as he sat on the edge of the marble countertop, and doing nothing more than giving directions for the most efficient placement of steaks on broiler trays.

After dinner, as Piotr put up coffee and tea and gave Orly a plate to put out the pie she had brought, Lily put Dane down to sleep in Piotr's room. Dane wasn't a wiggler in his sleep and Piotr's bed was quite large, but Lily still put a few pillows around him lest anything happen.

"So," Rogue said as dessert was being consumed. "What happened at the gallery that you had to go in?"

Piotr smiled. "Callisto was there."

Everyone else murmured in surprise.

"What did she want?" Rogue asked, concern evident in her voice.

"I do not know," Piotr admitted, leaning back in his seat. "I do not know that she knows."

Lily wondered how awkward the conversation must have been - Piotr definitely looked as if a great deal more had happened than he was willing to say. And, today being what it was, she wondered if that is how it would go when she finally saw Alex again.

"I thought she was at the rally today," Bobby mused. "The one that Scott and Jean and Warren were going to."

"The Morlock one?" Orly asked. "About the museum?"

"What Morlock rally?" Lily asked, confused. Unless she made a special point of it, between Dane and the general business of the holidays, she didn't see the news.

"The city wants to finally build the Second Avenue subway line," Bobby explained, rolling his eyes. The MTA had only been threatening that for thirty years. "But the tunnels the MTA had dug for the original plans for the subway are the ones that the Morlocks lived in and that's where the Massacre was."

"And there's a group of Morlocks - I guess you'd call them former Morlocks now," Rogue continued, "Who want to turn the tunnels into a museum to commemorate the Massacre. But the city's sayin' that they own the tunnels and can't afford to dig new ones somewhere else and to say that the whole stretch should be a monument is too much. I suppose they're right about all that, but still, it seems kinda creepy."

"It's not as if nobody has ever built on cemetery or a site of bloodshed before," Orly pointed out, sipping at her tea. "Hell, most of Europe would have to be empty fields if they didn't. Even here, we've built over Civil War sites and Indian massacres and whole sorts of unpleasant things. Doesn't mean anyone's forgotten about them."

"True, but... I don't know," Rogue sighed "I was there, so I don't think I can be objective about it."

"The city is offering to build a memorial above ground somewhere," Bobby admitted, cutting himself another piece of pie. "And, let's face it, how many people are going to go to a museum that's a combination of sewer runoffs and subway tunnels?"

"Hey, I love the Transit Museum," Lily spoke up. "That's all underground."

"The Morlock tunnels are dark and dank and filthy and they stink," Bobby replied, shaking his head at the memory. "They're not exactly the place you can turn into a field trip for third-graders. Don't get me wrong; I think it would be great to have a memorial for the Massacre. But... I think there are ways of doing it to make it a much more effective presentation. Put together an exhibit of artifacts of Morlock life or something, give Marrow some more videotape to interview survivors..."

"Marrow - Sarah - is behind the rally, I think," Rogue said after the silence grew. "She was the one who called the XSE lookin' for people to come talk."

"Oh, so that was what Scott was mumbling about," Lily blurted in surprise. "He was being really vague and confusing when he and Jean came by for dinner last week and he didn't look like he wanted to go into it."

"Scott doesn't like the idea of a museum," Bobby explained. "He thinks something constructive should come out of the situation rather than just it being there as a mute reminder. And he's sort of stuck because he can't come out and say so."

"Why not?" Piotr asked.

Bobby rolled his eyes expressively. "Because he's the most visible face of the XSE now and most people still know him from the X-Men and there's the fact that at the time of the Massacre itself we were pretending to be mutant hunters. He doesn't want anything he says to be perceived as being anti-mutant and he's not sure how anything he says will get received at all."

"I have to admit to being glad that I am no longer a part of this," Piotr admitted with a wry smile. "Although, from what I gathered, I don't think Callisto was terribly in favor of turning the tunnels into a museum, either. Perhaps for similar reasons to Scott, although I think it is out of something a great deal more personal."

"What do you mean?" Rogue asked curiously, picking at a sliver of apple that was poking out of the pie until Orly handed her the knife and she sheepishly cut herself another piece.

"It is a very personal place to her," Piotr said with a simple shrug. "Her home, where her greatest victories and greatest defeats took place... It is where she earned the right to lead the Morlocks, where she lost that right, and where the people she was charged to protect perished.  She doesn't want to have people walking through it eating popcorn and cracking jokes."

"I am willing to bet the house on the fact that Callisto didn't phrase it quite so diplomatically," Bobby commented wryly.

Piotr shrugged again, smiling. Lily knew nothing of Callisto, but felt safe drawing the conclusion that the woman must be in possession of a sharp tongue to go with the apparently prickly personality.

Eventually the conversation moved on to other things and soon it was late enough that it was time to leave. Orly had driven in and volunteered to drop everyone off at home rather than make Rogue and Bobby worry about the Sunday schedule for MetroNorth. Dane was retrieved - he woke up as Lily dressed him, but was back asleep by the time they got to Orly's car.




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