At this point—after Xorn, after so many bad futures averted, after so much closeness that he never thought he’d have-- Scott wouldn’t trade his psychic connection to Emma for anything. It, and she, had literally saved his life. And maybe the world.
But having a special telepathic connection to such a fiercely committed classroom teacher…. had its downsides. When Scott wasn’t careful he could take in, even all the way across the school, whatever his lover was teaching, especially when it was unfamiliar material. Tactics and rhetoric? how to speak clearly, how to make complex commands intelligible? those kinds of lessons barely registered—they were already in Scott’s head.
Literature, on the other hand, and especially long classics…. not much room on Xavier’s syllabus for those, and even less room at the orphanage in Nebraska. Jean was a reader, sure, but not so much for the old stuff.
Emma, however, read everything. And remembered everything that she had read in her classy school. She said it helped her anticipate both her allies and her opponents; said it was the closest a non-telepath could probably come to reading strangers’ minds. Especially famous old stuff in other languages.
“What I love about this part of teaching,” Emma said yesterday, “is how it’s not about fighting for your life in a world that hates and fears you—until you really look at the poetry, darling, and then you see that it is.”
Along with the four-squad division—her favorite Hellions, Dani’s New Mutants and so on-- Emma had started teaching Latin this year: it’s not like Magma was available, and gentle telepathic help meant basic language lessons could go by fast. Julian hated it but got good marks. Sooraya struggled. Anole (from what Scott could sense, remotely) ate it up.
Today the students Scott can sense from across the mansion are only a little ways into the story. Troy has fallen, and burned. Aeneas, who fought for Troy-- and lost big-- is fleeing the burning city, trying to save his father along with his son. “Come dear father, clasp my neck; I will carry you on my shoulders; that task won’t fail me. Whatever may happen, it will be for us both…. Some hostile power scattered my muddled wits.” A fiery, noisy wreck, receding, farther and farther away.
There’s a roaring in Scott’s ears, and heat, and flames, without the ruby-red overlay that tints everything in his adult sight; the sound of an engine. The sound of propellers, failing. A child who wants to save his mother, and can’t. And a baby, and everything turns ruby red. It's the end of the world, for a kid. Except it's not... and there's a parachute... Scott has to walk away. He can't overhear-- or overread-- Emma's class from the new garage, so he works on a motorcycle for a bit until he thinks they're done.
But still: he wants to know what happened, if he can.
Now Mercury speaks to Aeneas, wings on his feet, and the proverbial wings on his words, much smaller than Warren’s, the same white feathers. “Were you thinking of settling down with your wife in Carthage and building a great city here? You can’t; you’re needed elsewhere. The gods command it.” Aeneas: the man of destiny, the man singled out to found a new nation for his people, hated and feared by the Greeks. The man who’s not allowed to settle down.
And suddenly Scott can see himself in Alaska.
“Darling, what is it? What did Warren want?”
“He… er… needs me to meet him in New York—today!”
“Scott Summers, if you walk out that door, don’t bother coming back!”
Cyclops walks away to look at some floorplans for the new school and devour a sandwich. But then he tunes into the classroom again, half-willingly. They’re still on Virgil. Dido confronts Aeneas, who has already chosen to leave her: she’s cursing him out, with the deities, or the idols, of Carthage behind her. The students are translating as they go.
“If our gods have power," Queen Dido tell him, "you will drink from the cup of suffering till it’s dry as you sail to the destiny that has no place for me. You will call out my name again and again, and when death has split my soul from my body, my ghost will be everywhere. You’re going to be punished by Fate for this, cruel lover. I’ll get the news when I’m in Hell.”
Emma is asking Sofia: do you think Dido meant it when she told her sister that she was going to use magic to start a new life, to escape from her old obsession with Aeneas? Or did she know what was coming next?
Now Scott sees himself in New York, but it’s not New York. Buildings, streets, parks warp and shift in the heat.
“You hoped I was dead… so you could enjoy your one true love in peace. You’re such a pathetic fool.” Maddie’s hair, all fire, five shades of red, a hazard to anyone near her. “You don’t know what you’ve tossed away…. It wasn’t me you wanted. It was never me.” The portal-dimension to the Goblin Queen’s Limbo shimmers and yawns on the roof.
The Academy X students are still reading, still trying to translate Virgil by sight. Now Virgil is describing Dido's choice. “Rolling her eyes, her cheeks red, she rushed into the flames with her borrowed sword… ‘I will die without vengeance. But I am willing to die.”
Not flames, exactly, Julian corrected Sofia. “Pyre. Bonfire…. Inferno.”
Did Emma know Scott was listening? They had talked about Jean so much, especially in the beginning, before either Scott or Emma knew how Emma was changing, how Emma was falling in love for real. But they had never really talked about Maddie.
Was the whole classroom week for Scott’s benefit?
How well could Emma—not read, but know; anticipate; even try to heal—Scott’s mind?
Scott hears Maddie again. “I’ve learned I wasn’t made for happiness…”
And then Jean. “In her heart, she knew. She wanted the truth. She wanted it to end.”
And then Emma, a staircase away, still and always a teacher. “David. When do you think Dido knew Aeneas would leave her? Do you think, in her heart, she wanted it to end?”