Coping MechanismStarted by John Allerdyce at Aug 26, 2020 8:45 AM
November 30, 2023
Flick. Click. Ignite.
Mind the burn.
He’d been on his side fixing his motorbike in the mansion garage for how long he didn’t quite know, without realizing it soon lying there staring into space, lost in a memory that he would not be able to forget anytime soon. Every single survivor of that day had either heard about who had vanished or saw it happen and for John Allerdyce, it was the latter, one of his closest mates, an older man he’d come to view as a brother. Jason Wyngarde had been their one minute racing his motorbike around the track then, like so many of his fellow riders, he was simply gone, leaving his bike to keep up its momentum for a short amount of time before spinning out and sliding into one of the sidewalls.
Around him, Pyro had watched as other members of Jason’s team had too disappeared, leaving only a few left standing. The shock on their faces had been palpable. The disbelief soon to follow and, when they’d all gathered themselves enough to take a look around, it was then they’d noticed over half of those in attendance at this particular race meet had also very suddenly just ceased to exist.
Pyro had gotten up off the ground at this point of the memory, shaking his head, pulling out his lighter and flicking it open and closed in a desperate need of something to help calm him down. No, there had been no tears, but he was experiencing all over again that overwhelming feeling of dread when he hadn’t been able to raise his mate on the radio. The begging of his name repeated over in his head as he exited the garage through one of the single side doors closest to the back of the grounds. The firebug headed on around through the garden, across the back lawn and down the path right past the hedge maze, only stopping when he finally reached the shores of Breakstone Lake.
“Get a grip, Allerdyce,” he said. “He’s been back for ages now. He’s fine. Come on!” He thought he had the anxiety from that day under control, always trying to concentrate on the positive. While they’d lost many of the staff members of the rescue centre, his Mum and Sister had been spared, and he’d learnt later on too that by some miracle Shaw hadn’t been affected either. He’d had the closest members of his family there, all of them helping each other cope with the pain of losing so many others.
Sometimes, though, it would all come flooding back. Pyro knew true and honest friends were hard to come by and, out of all the ones who’d vanished, it had and always would be Jason that’d affected him the most. Add to that learning after finally meeting and befriending Bobby that, he too had been dusted and the emotional agony of that event and everything that came after was never truly going to be gone.
Gathering up a few pieces of washed-up driftwood, sticks, and other consumable items, John made a small fire pit, sitting down to stare at it for a bit. He wasn’t sure how long he'd been sitting there this time before the fire abruptly burst upwards from his lighter, eagerly sent in a steady, concentrated stream towards materials now being forced to dry and ignite under the sheer amount of heat he was using in an effort to burn away the memory and the pain.
Not all of us can control our powers.
The garage was one of the places within the mansion where one could most likely find Scott. He spent a good deal of time there tinkering or doing maintenance on the school's vehicles, including the X-Jet. Today, he was working to boost the engine of his motorcycle. Summers was a fan of speed, but he had always been too responsible to put his mechanical skills to that end. Never has he participated in any kind of race, official or not, but the desire to do so was ever present and repressed by the constraints of his life, such as the eternal red tint in everything he saw due to his need to use special glasses or a visor to be able to keep his eyes opened for any length of time without destroying everything around him. He knew it would be dangerous to race against others, especially when proximity came to mind. Now, to speed up alone at a lonely road? He has done that a lot and enjoyed it every time.
Another one of Scott's virtues was being very observant. He noticed he wasn't alone at the garage that day. John Allerdyce, a recent arrival at the mansion with his foster sister and niece, was there working on his motorcycle as well. He had no reason to disturb the other's work and had his own to accomplish, so he decided to leave a flannel hanging to show the other man he had company in case he needed any help. No kind of noise beyond the usual sound of tools came in his direction until a moment he heard total silence when he turned off his own electrical screwdriver. He wondered if John had left while he was absorbed by his work, but he heard a faint noise and decided to go check its source. The younger mechanic was still there, but lost in a world of his own.
Even though Scott wasn't a psychic like his mentor, wife and son, he had lived long enough around them to know when someone was catatonic while lost in a memory. He could even guess the contents of such memory to leave the younger man in such a state of mind. Scott had been gifted with not loosing his core family and closest friends to that fateful event, but, like everyone, he had lost people he cared about for five years until not long ago. Logan came to mind. They've always had their philosophical differences, but it was infinitely better to argue with him than not having him to argue with. The Decimation placed everything into perspective in the lives of those who had stayed behind. He knew it was best not to try to wake John up from his current state of mind. He went towards the tool table and removed his cover glasses, which helped fix his ruby quartz glasses in place while he was working and protected them from harm. The glasses were more comfortable to wear than the visor, which he only wore when the work he had to do needed a fine control of his mutant power.
So, Scott was already paying attention to John's movements when the other stood up, still a little dazzled by his memory, which reinforced his own belief about its contents, and left the garage through one of the side doors. Scott followed him while keeping his distance. His intention wasn't to intrude, but to look after the younger man, who was clearly still taken by his thoughts. His steps were steady and silent, not that he believed the other would notice his presence following him in his state of mind. His own mind returned to that day. Scott had always disliked the cosmic entity which had taken his beloved Jean away from the planet for three years decades ago, but that day it had saved all those who were within the mansion. Though it still froze his blood the emotionlessness of Phoenix's voice through Jean's mouth when it told them that half of the universal population had been removed from existence, at least, it could relate to the feeling of failure somewhat, but no pain was shown until Jean woke up from the psychological trauma. He also had Phoenix to thank for his wife and his mentor Charles not to have died from the cheer psychic shock that event would have caused them otherwise. In a nutshell, he had a love/hate relationship when it came to the Phoenix Force.
Scott shook his head out that memory when his steps, while still following John, took him to the shores of Breakstone Lake. He had himself chosen that place to think many times before and made very important decisions for his life there, alone and in Jean's company. He understood why the younger man would choose that place to put his mind in order. He had to disturb the quiet rage of burning fire on the wood sticks to make his presence known. He cleared his throat to announce his presence while leaning against a nearby tree and then let the other know what had brought him there. "It's not my intention to interrupt your me time, but the way you left the garage made me worry. Is everything okay with you?" His voice was gentle not to startle John. "We didn't have many chances to talk before now, but I'm the other motorcycle aficionado here." He added in the hope of creating common ground for their conversation.
Being at the mansion again after some years abroad brought a lot of good memories of him growing up into adulthood on those grounds with his fellow mutant friends, feeling accepted and being cared for. He couldn't complain about his family really. They weren't of the worst kind. They never once rejected him as their son due to his mutation as he knew other parents had done to their children in his generation, but they also preferred it when he kept his distance. In time Bobby discovered how to walk that fine line between him missing his family and his family also missing him enough to want his physical presence at the house. Today was one of those days. The first time he had visited them after coming back from Australia. He had just returned from his parents' place when he left the car he had borrowed back at the garage, just in time to see a concerned Cyclops leaving through the side door.
Actually he had been in contact with his father by phone and e-mail since he blipped back into existence, so they had talked before today. He could remember the shock and happiness in his old man's voice when he heard him again. His father told him Charles Xavier had told him he was among the vanished. Dead. A few days after, everyone everywhere already knew that everybody who had vanished had somehow come back. Bobby was just one of many. Maybe he should have waited a few days to call home, but he felt funny and felt the need to hear their voices to know that he was real. He called the mansion as well and visited his closest Australian friends, Shaali Evans and John Allerdyce, the same day he reappeared within one of the bathrooms on TAFE's grounds.
Thankfully, TAFE reactivated his enrollment under "Special Circumstances" and allowed him to finish his course on Interactive Game Developing. He was always joking during the next few months that his was sure to go into the Guinness Book of Records as the longest hand wash of the history of all mankind. It had taken him five years to finish. That was Robert Francis Drake in his deepest essence. He was serious when the situation called for it, but he also took life's unfortunate moments in stride, making jokes about things that would cause depression on other less emotionally resilient people. Since he was concerned about Scott's concerned demeanor, Bobby decided to follow his former teacher until both reached the shores of Breakstone Lake.
Getting there, he noticed that Scott himself was also following someone else, his Aussie friend John, who was clearly not his best self at the moment. He knew the other young man enough to know he needed some cheering up. Not something difficult for him to accomplish. He let Scott finish talking before making his presence known to both men. "Hi." His cheery voice came from behind a tree before he appeared waving his right hand. "Sorry to interrupt, but already doing so..." Now he was closer and placed a hand on Scott's left shoulder. "John, Scott was one of my teachers here. Cool guy. You'll like him when you get to know him." He then moved his hands to show a double thumbs up sign towards both of them. "I see you need some chilling out, mate. The air is too hot here." He added but did nothing else other than take a seat beside his friend and offer him his shoulder if he needed it by patting it while sporting one of his shiniest smiles.
Kurt was a simple soul. Always willing to help and offer a kind word to a hurting heart. Someone who was nearly infinitely forgiving, specially considering everything he had been through due to his very obvious mutant appearance from the moment of his birth. Kurt wasn't one to dwell on the past. He had always found a way to move on, if where he was wasn't a place at which he felt comfortable, literally or figuratively. Though it didn't mean he had no unresolved baggage.
His sore point was never knowing who his parents were or are, as there was still a remote possibility that they could still be alive, but considering his looks he knew for a fact that they had to be mutants too. Why would mutants abandon a baby for looking like a mutant? For someone who always found a way to understand everything in his life as a lesson to be learned, that was one whose answer he didn't seem to grasp. It didn't mean Kurt hasn't forgiven them for what they did in his heart, but like any abandoned child he wanted to know why instead of imagining the reason forever.
After he partially lost his memory during the fight with the Shadow King in 1995 in Cairo until his return to New York in 2000, Kurt had been in his birth Germany trying to answer that burning question about his parents. He had recruited the help of Father Jurgen, who had given him shelter at his monastery. The hooded robes they used covered his mutant features very competently and that was one of the best periods of his life. He could study and further learn about his faith. Those five years cemented his current views.
After his return to America, Kurt kept contact with Father Jurgen, who was still trying to find his origins in Germany. They were in a videoconference when it happened. His mouth stayed open for a few minutes after the man who had been so kind and gentle to him when he was so confused just vanished, leaving nothing but dust where he had once been. Kurt was there when Phoenix explained to everyone at the mansion what had just happened. His friend was gone. Taken from existence by a mad alien being who thought he was balancing the universe. Thankfully no one at the mansion had been affected, thanks to the cosmic force inhabiting Jean's body once again. That was proof that some balance existed.
From that day on, Kurt accepted the unspoken unofficial title of school counselor. He was always willing to help others deal with the pain of having lost someone to the snap or anything else really. His own pains always minor to him, but he had to confess he was overjoyed when he could reconnect to Father Jurgen once again nine months ago. Not for what he could tell him about his parents or anything else, but because a good man was able to be there for many other people as he had once been there for him.
Kurt was thoughtful as the videoconferencing screen went black as it had many times before. When in such a state of mind, he always liked to go think by the lake. He felt peaceful there. Not expecting company, he just teleported there. Bamf. In a moment, Kurt was no longer looking through his room's window at the lake shore but actually standing right in front of it. He took a seat on the roots of an ancient tree and started to meditate on the news he had just gotten. The silence was broken when he heard other male voices not far from his location. He identified Scott and Bobby, but they seemed to be talking to another person whose voice he hadn't heard yet to his recollection.
He decided to join the others by walking towards their position. Very slowly. It wasn't his intention to startle anyone who might be more on the edge there. After confirming his previous thought about the unknown identity of the third male in the conversation, he introduced himself. "Hi. I am Kurt Vagner." He approached the trio further and continued. "I am alzo ein teacher here." Not that it was a vital information for someone who clearly needed another kind of help, but for now it was better to get to know the situation so he knew how to help John properly.