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He Who Has Ears (the Rocky Ground Remix)

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Jethro doesn't meet another mutant until the Marines. Not a lot of them passing through Stillwater, at least none dumb enough to announce it. If you had to be a mutant, better to be one who isn't obvious about it, that was how most folks thought. Jethro'd always hated that. One of the few things he and his father had agreed on.

"Nobody deserves that, son," the old man grunted. "Specially not for being what God made 'em."

Once the headaches started, and he realized what lay beyond the pain, he understood and he hated it. Hated the town and almost everybody in it. He thought he'd left it behind with the town, but that hadn't lasted long at all. It was worse in the Marines. Jethro learned quick to grit his jaw, bury it down deep where he wouldn't slip and know something he shouldn't.

Worked, mostly, but that just made it worse. Made him angrier. Shannon tried to help, but his secret wasn't the kind of thing you put on paper. Wasn't something you risked saying where anyone might see or hear.

The anger comes in handy after a while. It drives him on, pushes him, until he's one of the best going and thriving on the knowledge that a goddamn mutie like him can leave the rest of them in the dust and doesn't even need his powers to do it. It's not much of a reward, but it's something and it does the trick until he's somewhere he can't admit to being, with a bunch of marines who aren't here, and getting his ass saved by people in unfamiliar uniforms. People who just happen to be mutants.

After a battle that levels half a city and damn near wrecks the mutant team's plane, Jethro stands on the waterfront amidst burning rubble and gets angrier than he's ever been in his life. He watches the mutants go to work on their plane, chatting back and forth, laughing and ignoring the ever-vigilant marines giving them wary looks while examining their own ruined equipment. They're comfortable in their own skin and he envies the hell out of that.

Someone calls his name and Jethro turns around, going to help. At least for a while. His attention keeps straying back to the mutants and their work. Mostly the big blue guy is doing the work, head and shoulders inside the ship's engine while the others sit around and keep out of the way. One, the leader in fact, is sitting on the pier, staring out at the water like he didn't just demolish a building like some kind of demented Care Bear. He's a clean cut guy, broad shouldered, and the picture of mutantkind, but there's a dull throb in Jethro's temples that tells the tale. Alex Summers is okay with it now, comfortable in his skin and the strange uniform he's supporting, but he didn't used to be.

"Would you believe I'm a teacher?" Summers says when Jethro gets closer. "English." He grins at the water, like it's some kind of private joke and Jethro gets a glimpse of stressed out teenagers staring at test papers. If you ignored the occasional blue-skinned or green-haired student, the warm afternoon sun and expensive furniture would have made it seem like any other private school.

"That's not all you are."

Summers looks at him. "Or you."

Jethro thinks about lying, about shrugging it off like he does every time the conversation comes up with the guys, but he doesn't. He nods and sits down next to him. "That suit of yours mean something?"

'Everything' resonates through his mind in Summers' voice. The mind-reading comes and goes, never something he can rely on, but that's not what made him sit down. His gut's screaming at him that Summers and his people aren't here because of a guerrilla war. No, his gut says they're here because of him.

"You could say that," is what Summers says aloud. "There's someone who wants to meet you, Gibbs."

"This someone got a name?"

"Yeah," Summers nods. "And it's not one that any of your buddies should be hearing." He looks back, twisting to look over his shoulder at his team and Jethro's fellow Marines. "No offense, but it's harder to trust them than it used to be."

The weight of history settles on the conversation, making Jethro's head throb all the harder as he pushes past the buzz of information and instinct. "They're all right."

"Do they know?"

"Not a chance in hell," Jethro grins at that. "They're all right, but--"

"Yeah, but." Summers gestures at his chest. "This kind of thing'll still make them shit themselves."

He doesn't say it. Whether it's because he knows Jethro might hear it or because it's too obvious to need saying isn't something Jethro cares to figure out. Summers is right anyway. A guy who shoots lasers out his chest (or something like them anyway) doesn't hold a candle to a guy who knows your every secret, no matter how well you keep them off your face.

"They ever find out what you are—" Summers warns. "Forget getting kicked out. What they'll do is worse."

"I know," Jethro says, and he does. He's seen it. He'd figured that out in basic when one of the guys had turned out to be a low grade telekinetic. He'd gone AWOL three days after a fight in the mess and Jethro knows he didn't go willingly. "Cross that bridge when I come to it."

Summers looks at him, incredulous, then nods with something like approval. "Okay, your call."

"He still want to see me?" Jethro asks, surprised by the anxiety creeping into his voice. He doesn't want this unnamed man to go. There's an answer whispering at him, the kind of answer that keeps him up nights worrying about his abilities and whether or not Kelly will inherit any of the them. The kind of answer that makes him think what happens if she does? What happens to her and all the others like her? He thinks about that and he looks at Summers. "Really?"

"Wouldn't have flown halfway around the world otherwise," Summers says with a little grin.

"Still don't see why."

"Yeah, you do," Summers stands. "That's why you're talking to me and not sitting with your guys." He nods at his people and Jethro's. Most of whom are watching the mutants and their plane. Most. When Jethro looks, he sees a few of the guys look away before he can meet their eyes. "Westchester, New York, Gibbs," he says. "Open door—whenever you're ready."

It won't be years, not until his girls are gone and his abilities leave him raw and open, but he'll be there.

And walking through that door gives him an idea.

"Yes," Charles Xavier says with a smile all those years later. "Precisely."