Night Chill (After the Fall, 2/8)
- Night Chill (After the Fall 2/8)
Yeah, he's kind of a dick. An overachieving Boy Scout
playing with his own private army. Thirty years old
and he still thinks the world's divided into good guys
and bad guys. And he's oh so sure that the good guys
are the ones with the perfect hair, perfect clothes
and perfect smiles. But he really loved her. Got to
give him that.
I didn�t, not really, not like he did. If I'm being
honest with myself I have to say that. I do know that
I couldn't forget her, much as I tried. No, not even
after nailing every willing redhead between here and
Alkali Lake. Didn't help a bit. I said I came back
to find out what really happened to me. I knew I came
back for her. But was that love or just wanting to
get into her pants? Was it just the challenge of
getting a girl like that, one I knew I couldn't have?
Maybe it wasn�t even so much about her, as about him.
Was it just to get his goat? To take that superior
look off of his face by doing his woman? I've got to
admit, that was a big part of my fantasies of Jean and
me - Cyclops brought low. Yeah, I liked to imagine
Jeannie on her knees, gobbling up my dick, and then
Summers walking in just as I'm about to shoot all over
her face. That image got me going on many a cold
night. Still does, many a night since her death.
Pretty damn callous of me, jerking off thinking about
her. Thinking about him. What the hell - I never
claimed to be one of the good guys.
Well, guess I did, that once. Or at least told her I
could be, for her. I think I meant it when I said it,
but we both knew it wouldn't last. I'm not cut out
for this hero shit and I'm not cut out for love. I
would have said anything to have her and we both knew
it. So, no wonder she goes with the guy who really
loves her. The guy she really loved. Even if he is
kind of a dick. And I figured I could be a good guy
long enough to tell him about that, to let him know
that he was the one she chose.
That kind of changed things between me and him. I
don't think her death alone would've made a
difference. He'd still resent me for trying for her,
and hate me for not knowing if she'd stay with him or
go with me. And I'd hate him for being too stupid to
know what he really had with her. But me telling him
what she said sort of softened him toward me, took
some of the anger away. And it did something to me,
too. Sometimes when you do something nice for someone
it makes you like them, or at least not hate their
guts. Funny how it can work that way.
Plus I had to admire how he was with the kids, with
the team, with everyone at that place. Pretty clear
he was on the verge of falling apart, but he never
stopped. He's a dick alright, but he's got
perseverance. And he's something to see in battle.
I've fought with him and I've fought against him.
He's a guy to have on your side.
So, it wasn't exactly Butch and Sundance, but him and
me were doing okay. Some of the two man missions it
was me he asked first. And some of the times he did,
I found myself saying okay. We were out Tuesday night
breaking up an attack on some mutants upstate a ways.
It would have gone quicker - and been a hell of a lot
more fun - if he didn't have this stupid idea that we
should do it without killing anyone. Still, it was a
pretty satisfying fight, a good way to spend the
night. I crawled into bed when we got back and slept
for hours. He went off to shower and change and start
his work day. I didn't find out until late Wednesday
night that he'd collapsed during his first class.
I ran into him at the pool round about midnight. I
looked both ways to see no one was in the hall outside
there before I jimmied the lock, knowing they closed
it down at 10:00. Strict rules - no swimming except
with a lifeguard on duty. So, I was surprised to find
there was already someone in the pool.
He was swimming laps, cutting through the water in a
smooth, graceful line. He didn't see me. At least I
don't think he did. Wearing swim goggles, dark red so
I guess they were ruby crystal, too, but maybe his
eyes were closed, anyway. He didn't seem to have any
idea he wasn't alone. I sat by the side watching him,
not sure whether to get in or not. There was plenty
of room - six lanes and he was only using one - but it
didn't seem my place or something with him there. So
I just left my clothes on and sat there for a while.
He was something to see. No unnecessary movements,
swimming like a seal or a dolphin or something, like
he was totally in his element. No trace of the Field
Leader or the English Teacher. No thinking, no
plotting, no orders - just gliding through the water
like he was made for it, like he was in his own world
of water and movement. All body, no brain. I
couldn't take my eyes off him. Finally he stopped at
the shallow end and saw me.
"What are you doing here?"
"Same as you. Just haven't started yet."
"I thought I'd locked the door." I held up my picks
and shrugged. "Nobody's supposed to swim alone. It's
"So what are you doing here?"
"I'm tired of safe." He scowled. "If I'd known you
were there, I'd have had you count laps for me. I go
into a trance, kind of, when I'm swimming. Never know
how much I've done unless someone else counts."
"Why do you want to know how many laps you swim?"
"I don't know. I like to quantify my
accomplishments." I didn't ask who used to count for
him. "You want the pool now? I'm done." He got out.
"Nah, I changed my mind." He toweled off, gathered
his stuff together, didn't seem to even notice me.
"Hey, Cyclops," I said, as he was walking out. "I'm
gonna go into town. Wanna come?" He shook his head.
"Come on. Have a couple beers, check out the local
scene. Pick up a couple of girls, even."
"I'm not interested in any women but Jean. She's the
only woman I ever loved." He said it quietly, in a
"Not everything's about love, Summers." He didn't
answer. "I guess you need your sleep, anyway - up all
last night, working all day today."
"I slept most of the day, actually. Drug induced."
He smiled at my surprised expression. "Doctor
administered, Logan." He shrugged, embarrassed. "I
kind of fell apart during poetry class this morning."
"What, you blacked out?"
"Something like that. Hank says I'm overworked. So,
he gave me some sort of injection and I slept all day.
Now my circadian rhythm's all screwed up."
"So, you're up anyway. Come on." I gestured to the
door with my head.
He looked down, gestured at his trunks. "Okay if I
get dressed first?"
I don't know why I went with him. I didn't feel like
company and I didn't want to go anywhere. I never like
going into town and generally manage to avoid trips
there. When I do go it's usually with some of the
kids, or another faculty member, a shopping trip for
supplies or the occasional meal in a restaurant to
celebrate somebody's birthday. Not my idea of a
celebration. I always feel we're being stared at and
am on alert the whole time, in case we're attacked. I
count the hours until we're back home and safe. Maybe
like I said to Logan. I was tired of safe. Or maybe I
didn't want to go back to our room. My room now.
Anyway, he took me to some out-of-the-way dive where a
whole lot of people looked considerably stranger than
I do, so I wasn't so worried about being stared at.
We sat at the bar and ordered burgers and beers. The
barmaid smiled at me, pointing to my glasses. "So,
are you a movie star?"
"No, I'm just practicing in case I am some day."
She laughed. "No, really. Why the shades?"
"I have a problem with my eyes," I told her. "I just
had surgery for it. I have to wear these all the time
for a week or so. My eyes can't take the light."
"It's not very bright in here."
She went off to get our drinks and Logan leaned in,
saying, "I think she likes you."
"I told you - I'm not interested in women besides
"Yeah, I know. Look, I'm not doubting you or
anything. I know as well as anybody she was somebody
special. I know you're grieving. But it doesn't
always have to be love, you know. You can't give up
on sex - it's not natural."
"I didn't say I wasn't interested in sex. I said I
wasn't interested in women." That took a minute to
sink in. I could have predicted exactly what would
happen when it did. We'd been sitting on bar stools,
close together to hear each other amid the noise. He
practically knocked his stool over moving away from
me. I looked at him with scorn. "Don't worry.
You're not my type."
I wasn't even sure I'd heard him right at first, not
until he said I wasn't his type. "Really, Cyclops?" I
"Gay, queer, homosexual, a faggot. Take your pick."
"But Jean�" I wasn't sure what I was asking.
"I loved her."
"Did she... Did you..."
He sighed, wearily. "Yes, Jean knew I'm gay. Yes, we
had sex. Yes, we were planning on getting married.
No, I don't know if it would have worked out. That's
part of why we've been together so long and hadn�t
married yet. We weren't sure it could work. But we
loved each other and it makes a difference."
"So, how did it work? You fucked guys on the side?
Jeannie was okay with that?"
"No, Logan. I didn't 'fuck guys on the side,' as you
so elegantly put it. We only had sex with each other.
I haven't been with a man for years."
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