This issue reprints Uncanny X-Men #136.
Second story :
Sage Airforce Base, Nebraska. Every year, the base throws an open house fair, inviting planes and pilots all over the prairie states to come visit. Scott Summers always wanted to go there but never had a chance until Robyn Hanover, the orphanage’s new physician, took him with her. He’s utterly happy, as he watches the planes, and rattles off his knowledge about them to Robyn and her friend, Trish Bogart. They are watching Trish’s husband, Rick, strut his stuff in one of the planes, impressing Scott. While the husband and wife tease each other, both quickly take a shine to the excited young boy and Rick offers him a ride in the plane. Scott first excitedly accepts, but then suddenly becomes dejected and turns the offer down.
Robyn tries to change the subject and points out the parachuters. The skydivers enhance their show with smoke flares. When Scott sees the smoke, he shouts out in horror that they are burning. Rick tries to explain but Scott, in a state of hysteria, insists that they are on fire. Robyn tries to calm him but he won’t listen and shouts, “the canopy’s burning! A Roman candle!” Robyn runs after him and Rick wonders if he can make some sense of Scott’s words.
Robyn finds Scott in the grass, slapping himself, as though he were on fire. She holds onto him and, for a moment, he believes he sees his mother. He asks where she’s been and begs her not to send them away again. Suddenly, he shouts that someone’s shooting at them. That they are burning. Then he shouts, “hold onto me, Alex—I’ll protect you!” As he sinks into her arms, Robyn wonders what happened to the boy and who Alex is. She tells the worried Bogarts that she’ll take him home and hopes that she hasn’t done him irreparable harm by taking him to the show.
Later, at the state home ,after she’s tucked Scott in, his roommate, Nate, gloats that he’d told her so. He adds derisively that she figures she knows it all just because of her stupid diploma. If she is so good, he needles, what is she doing working in a dump like this? Maybe this place needs someone better than the bottom of the barrel, Robyn points out. Cynically, Nate mocks her idealism. Turning the tables Robyn asks why he has the perpetual need to lash out at people. He coolly tells her that, one fine night, he may decide to tell her.
Sometime later, on a plane with Trish Bogart, Robyn confides that she’s scared of the boy. Sometimes, he seems more like a changeling than a real boy. She wonders if her inexperience isn’t the real cause for trouble. She’s a physician, not a psychiatrist. She’s out of her depth. Suppose she’s making things worse for both boys? Trish reassures her. She’s a fine doctor with sound instincts. Robyn tells her that she’s worried about bringing Scott back to the base but he’s been begging her to bring him back. Trish tells her that Rick loves kids and especially likes Scott. They’ll be fine together.
On the ground, Rick and a colleague watch as Scott goes through the preflight routine on a jet. The other man states that Scott acts as though he’s been around “blue suits” since he was born. Rick asks Scott if his father was a phantom driver. Mostly for fun, Scott replies but actually he was a Blackbird pilot. He intended to join NASA’s astronaut program. Rick shivers, telling Scott that he must be getting old as he can’t handle the cold as well he used to. Scott laughs and states that this isn’t cold. Now home, that’s cold. And where is that, Rick asks. Where’s what? Scott wonders. Home? The orphanage, he guesses. He seems to have completely forgotten what he told the grown-up about. Scott confides that he was in a coma and is a braincase. He lost part of his memories and will probably never be adopted. He’s damaged goods.
Later, in the base’s cafeteria, the grown-ups discuss Scott’s case, while he’s sitting a at the bar wolfing down an ice cream cup. Robyn tells the Bogarts what she knows about his medical history. While the trauma he received sounds grim, aside from his amnesia, there doesn’t seem to be any lasting effects. However, she hesitates, his eyes are extremely sensitive with a far wider field of perception than normal, causing him intense headaches. The only thing alleviating the pain are lenses of a special value of ruby quartz. Within a few years, he’ll probably have to wear glasses made of that substance permanently. Robyn adds that Scott does indeed have a brother, who was adopted almost immediately upon arrival, but his files are sealed. As far as Scott is concerned, his history begins the day he was wheeled into County General’s emergency room.
Rick states that he might be able to help. Scott mentioned that his father was a blackbird pilot with an application with NASA’s astronaut program. Scott’s familiarity with cold narrows the list of bases even further down. He plans to run down the leads and see if he has a family. Robyn objects. According to the files, every attempt was made to trace them. In that case, the Bogarts offer, maybe it’s time for him to get a new family.
The orphanage’s administrator, Pearson, is less than happy, however, accusing Robyn of having overstepped her authority. Robyn angrily shoots back that their evaluation profile shows the Bogarts to be extremely suitable parents ands states that one might almost get the impression that they are out to find families for every child but Scott Summers.
Pearson coolly denies this, while expressing disappointment in Robyn’s lack of professionalism. He doesn’t intend to oppose the Bogarts application. Robyn has set these events in motion. They’ll have to let them take their proper course now. Scott, who was eavesdropping from outside, smiles happily.
On a visit, Rick Bogart tells Scott he has been making inquiries, but no luck so far. Maybe he’s a space alien, Scott suggests sarcastically. Rick tells him he won’t give up. They’ll find the answers. Scott asks if they don’t want him and just want to dump him on someone else. Rick assures him that they do want him, but they want what’s best for him more. If he does have a family, they need to find them. In the meantime, they want him to be a part of their family. Rick tells him that their request is worked on and that Robyn thinks that there won’t be a real problem. He and Trish have to fly out for a meeting. Does he want to spend Christmas with them afterwards? Calling him ‘Dad,’ Scott happily agrees.
At night, Robyn Hanover wakes up to find she is no longer in her room, but in a strange lab, surrounded by machinery. She is greeted by the mocking voice of Mr. Sinister, who informs her that she and her friends, the Bogarts, have become a nuisance with their meddling. That is going to end now.
Later, during the day, Nate mocks Scott for being a dreamer. He has to learn that they don’t care about him. It was all an act. He assures Scott that he knew right from the beginning that they’d hurt Scott worse than he was ever hurt in his life. Scott sees Robyn walk by and calls out to her. Robyn no longer is as casually dressed as usual, but now dresses formally, with her hair pulled back in a tight bun. As she replies to Scott, she does so coldly and Scott hardly finds the courage to ask if there has been any word from the Bogarts. Nothing since they left weeks ago, Robyn states, clearly not caring. If they don’t care enough o pursue the application, it will be dropped, she announces and leaves.
Somewhere, in the mountains, undiscovered, lie the bodies of the Bogarts in the wreck of their plane.
Late at night, Scott gazes out of his room’s window. He refuses to believe Nate. He believes the Bogarts were good people, who cared. If they don’t come, it’s because something happened to them, same as Robyn. It’s this place. It does something to people, but it won’t get him. First chance he gets, he’ll be gone.
Suddenly, looking outside into the snowstorm, he sees two shapes, those of a bald man in a wheelchair and of a young red-haired girl Scott’s age. The girl, addressing the man as professor, tells him she can sense another mind, calling to her. Fascinating, Professor X states, that their mentalities should resonate on such a synchronous frequency. Is he a mutant, Jean wonders. Xavier admits that he doesn’t know, as he can only sense the boy though Jean’s perceptions for some reason.
Jean tells Scott not to be afraid. Scott, believing this to be a dream, steps towards them. Xavier cautions Jean away and one aspect of her follows, but another, surrounded by a flaming bird, reaches out to Scott. And, for the first time in his memory Scott responds in kind. This is one fire that doesn’t make him afraid and he knows that, on the darkest night of his soul, it will always be there to keep him war.