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Mid-winter Thaw (After the Fall 5/8)

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    Mid-winter Thaw (After the Fall 5/8) Logan and I were in the Danger Room, but it wasn t in the middle of the night and this was no chance meeting. I d been
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2004
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      Mid-winter Thaw (After the Fall 5/8)

      Logan and I were in the Danger Room, but it wasn't in
      the middle of the night and this was no chance
      meeting. I'd been spending my Sundays there for
      several weeks now, but this was the first time Logan
      had joined me. He'd agreed when I'd asked him, but he
      was showing signs of regretting that now.

      We had been spending the last few hours working on a
      particularly nasty simulation, based on discovered,
      never-executed plans of Stryker's. I was determined
      to complete it successfully, although my confidence in
      my ability to crack it had been wavering the last
      couple of weeks.

      It was just one of several new drills Charles had
      given me a couple of months ago, and I'd been working
      through them methodically until I got to this one. He
      had called me into his office a day after I'd
      confronted him about the MPP project. He had handed me
      outlines of the new simulations he wanted me to work
      on, telling me to call a team meeting as soon as I'd
      read through them and to work out a project plan to
      master them all. Charles was concerned, he said, that
      we'd mostly been focusing on rebuilding and kind of
      continuing as normal, but that we needed to make sure
      we were ready for any future attacks or other
      emergencies.

      I couldn't argue with that. We hadn't had any new
      exercises in a long time, and I'd seen for myself many
      times in close to 15 years as an X-Men how important
      continuing practice on both strategy and tactics are.
      Still, I didn't find the timing of the release of the
      new simulations coincidental. Charles was trying to
      do more than just upgrade our preparedness, I was
      sure. I didn't know whether he was trying to distract
      me from my musings about Jean or just to demonstrate
      confidence in my leadership abilities. Maybe both.

      I had found most of the simulations challenging,
      beyond what we'd done in the past, but ultimately
      solvable. I'd also thought they were excellent
      preparedness exercises in case the political tide
      turned against us and we were again under siege. They
      were also turning out to be great for morale. Details
      of the simulated missions were never shared beyond
      Charles, the team members who participated in the
      exercises, and me. But successful drills were
      announced at dinner following their completion, with
      some anecdote about a team member whose contributions
      had been essential to the drill's success. Those who
      participated stood and received thundering applause.
      It helped the team to feel competent and appreciated
      and I think the kids felt protected and more secure,
      as success followed success, helping to heal the scars
      of the siege.

      This Stryker exercise, though, was something else. It
      had had me stumped for close to two months. I was
      determined to conquer it. I knew that the assault had
      never been executed as Charles had found it detailed
      in the discovered plans, but that didn't mean someone
      else wouldn't try the same type of attack. I wanted to
      feel sure I could handle it if they did. Well, I knew
      I could take it on with all of the X-Men, but Charles
      assured me this one could be beaten by a two-man team,
      although I had my doubts, having tried it numerous
      times without success.

      Several of the new simulations had been designed for
      one or two of us to combat them, a change from our
      usual training, where we practiced with larger teams.
      As Charles had explained when he gave me the new
      training assignments, the MPP project was going to
      require a lot of one- and two-man missions when it
      went live, since both the rescue and resettlement
      operations had to be done without attracting
      attention.

      I've no doubt that Charles really did think it was
      important that the X-Men improve our ability to work
      singly and in pairs. Still, as with the timing of the
      new exercises, I was equally convinced that he had
      ulterior motives for giving me these particularly
      thorny two-man simulations. Working on them was
      forcing me to spend time with each of the X-Men
      one-on-one, breaking the pattern I'd fallen into of
      avoiding spending time alone with my friends and
      teammates. At first I'd been somewhat annoyed,
      feeling manipulated by Charles, certainly not for the
      first time. But I soon saw the wisdom of his plan, as
      my somewhat strained relationships with many of the
      team warmed as we worked together one-on-one. The
      Stryker Exercise was an important step in this
      improvement, although it was frustrating me no end in
      the process. I'd worked out plans during much of my
      spare time during the weekdays and had spent several
      Sundays on it already, trying different approaches
      with 'Ro, then with Hank, then with Kurt, and finally
      with Pyotr. A few times we came close to success, but
      the end result was always both of us "dying" or
      getting captured.

      Logan was pretty much my last hope on this one, so I
      refused to quit even after we got 'killed' a dozen
      times in a row. We'd conferred after each attempt,
      thinking we had a new approach that would work, but no
      dice. He wanted to stop, at least for this particular
      Sunday, but I wouldn't hear it. We screwed our
      courage to the sticking place and gave it one more
      shot. And damned if we didn't get them that
      thirteenth time! So, there we were, sitting on the
      floor of the Danger Room, catching our breath and
      feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.

      "You just don't give up, do you?"

      We were sitting side to side, our backs to the wall.
      I turned to look at him, not sure if he'd meant it
      critically, but he had a great big smile on his face
      so I chose to interpret the question in a positive
      way. "I admit to being indefatigable, occasionally,"
      I replied, smiling back at him as he rolled his eyes.

      "I'll look it up later. Anyway, you can be a pain in
      the ass with this 'never say die' shit, Cyclops, but
      it paid off this time." He chuckled and shook his
      head remembering. "Fuck, we were good!" he said,
      slapping my thigh for emphasis. And then, just
      leaving his hand there. He turned and looked at me,
      his hand still on my leg. The look in his eye and the
      feel of his fingers on my thigh were suddenly
      riveting. Uncomfortably so. I looked away.

      He pulled his hand back and kind of stumbled over his
      words. "I didn't mean... I'm not... I wasn't..." I
      didn't say anything and he stopped after a minute.

      We just kind of sat there, the easy camaraderie of a
      moment before gone, replaced by an awkward silence. I
      broke it. "I know you're straight," I said.

      "I know I'm not your type," he said, head cocked to
      the side, expression open, questioning, friendly.

      I shrugged. "It seemed like the thing to say at the
      time. I don't think I have a type, really. I don't
      think my attractions are all that predictable."

      "Can I ask you something about that?" I nodded.
      "Jeannie? You and her? I just keep thinking about
      that. I know it's none of my business, but...well...
      what was it like? For both of you, I mean?"

      I sighed and thought about how to answer. "It was
      good. It was good in lots of ways. We loved each
      other. We had a shared vision, a purpose, a life we
      built together.�

      �Was that... well, enough?� he asked.

      �We did enjoy making love, both of us, if that's what
      you're asking. Did you know we had a continuing
      telepathic link? We always could hear each other's
      thoughts, any time we wanted to. It kind of adds
      something to sex, another dimension." I paused, not
      knowing what else to say. "She was the first woman I
      ever slept with," I said finally.

      "How'd you get together?"

      "We were friends first, from when we were kids. Hank,
      Jean, and I, and Warren - you don't know him, he left
      years ago - we were the first X-Men and we kind of did
      everything together. I was 16 when I first came here.
      I was the first. Jean showed up a few months later.
      Then the other two." I looked around. "The place
      wasn't like it is now. The Danger Room was here, and
      the labs, but not the classrooms or the dorms. We
      weren't a real school then. There were just the four
      of us, and Charles taught us academic subjects in
      between training us for combat and sending us out to
      fight."

      "Fight?" he asked, sounding surprised. "You were a
      combat team then, when you were kids?"

      "Yeah, that's how it started; that was Charles's
      original concept. And that�s how he chose us � for
      our potential as members of a fighting force. He
      started building a school and taking more kids in a
      few years later. I think he really conceived of
      Xavier's Academy as just a front for the X-Men at
      first. Gym and pool hiding the Danger Room, Blackbird
      taking off out of the basketball court. Stryker
      wasn't so far off when he called it a mutant training
      facility. That�s what it was when we were kids. But
      we all kind of got into having a school for its own
      sake, not just to train new X-Men. We all wished we'd
      had schooling where mutants were accepted and we
      wanted to give that to the next generation, you know?�

      Logan nodded solemnly. �It�s a great thing you�re
      doing for mutant kids here.�

      �*We�re* doing. You�re part of it.�

      He shrugged. �For a while,� he said. �So what
      happened with you and Jeannie?�

      "Jean and I went to college together. We'd racked up
      enough AP credits that we could both get in and out in
      three years and come back to Westchester. We had it
      all planned out. She was pre-med and I was an English
      major and I was going to run the humanities program
      for the school and she'd be head of the science
      department." I looked at Logan to see if he was still
      listening, still interested. He motioned to me to
      continue.

      "Neither Jean nor I could bear the idea of living in
      dorms. I think we felt too old for all that. We
      weren't that much older than the other freshman, but
      we'd been on a mutant fighting force for 3 years by
      that time, risking our lives daily. Other kids seemed
      like... kids. So Jean and I got an apartment
      together. In some ways it was the stereotypical gay
      man/straight woman friendship - we were often lusting
      after the same guys." I laughed at that, remembering.
      "But then our second year in college it changed.
      Maybe we'd both gotten our hearts stamped on too many
      times, or something. We already had each other as
      companions, study partners, roommates. It didn't seem
      that strange to add sex to the mix. We definitely
      looked on it at first as just friendship, friends who
      fuck, you know? But over time it felt like more. And
      when we came back here, after graduation, well we came
      back as a couple. Got a room together. I started
      building the school, with Charles. Jean was commuting
      to the city for med school. My life seemed sort of
      normal, all of a sudden. Respectable."

      "And you wanted that."

      It wasn't a question, but I nodded agreement anyway.
      �Does that bother you?�

      �Why should it bother me?�

      �I don�t know. You might feel like you wanted Jean
      for her own sake and I wanted her for respectability.�

      �None of my business. Anyway, it�s what she wanted,
      too, right? Love, marriage, family, a life with the
      good guy.� He shrugged. "Nothing I could give her.�
      He thought some more. �Did you think it would last?
      Did you think you'd... change?"

      "I don't know, really. Maybe. I was pretty
      disillusioned with gay life by that point. There's a
      kind of idolization of physical perfection, at least
      in the circles I was running in. And being a
      brain-damaged mutant didn't fit in very well with
      that. I'd meet guys who were interested in me, guys I
      was interested in. But when they found out..." I
      laughed ruefully. "And it's not like I could keep it
      a secret for very long. A guy knows something's up
      when you won't let him see your eyes, not even during
      sex." I sighed. "And I wanted a more regular life.
      I was feeling like two big things that were different
      about me was one too many. And maybe this one was
      malleable."

      "Don�t take this the wrong way, but did Jean feel...
      used?"

      I shook my head "Believe me, I agonized over that
      one. She'd have had every right to feel exploited.
      But we did love each other. That was always there and
      it was a big part of who we were. And, remember, we
      had that telepathic link. We each knew what the other
      was thinking. I wasn't deceiving her. She knew I was
      still attracted to men, and she knew I wasn't having
      sex with men. Mostly I wasn't even thinking about
      that, was determined to just not let my mind go there.
      'That way madness lies; let me shun that.' I thought
      maybe after a while I'd just forget about that part of
      me." I mused on that for a minute. �You know, I�ve
      never talked to anyone but Jean about this. Not even
      Charles.�

      �Why are you telling me?�

      �You asked.� He laughed at that. �Okay, that�s not
      it, really. I never said enough for people to ask.
      Maybe I just needed somebody to talk to. And you were
      here.�

      He didn�t say anything for a long time. I wondered if
      he was offended at my suggestion that I was talking to
      him just because he was around when I needed to talk.
      But his mind didn�t seem to be on that at all. When
      he did speak, he referred back to what I�d said
      before. "Do you still think you could change, forget
      about that part, like you said? Could you meet
      someone else, another woman? Fall in love?"

      I shook my head. "No, I'm pretty sure I couldn't.
      Even if I did meet another woman, I wouldn't try to
      live like that, not again. It was a mistake, what
      Jean and I tried to do. An honest mistake, a loving
      mistake, but still a mistake. I've given it a lot of
      thought. It's not just about sex for me. I think I
      notice men more, am drawn to men more in lots of ways.
      But a whole lot of it is sex. You can't help what
      turns you on, and it's men's bodies that turn me on.
      I spent so much time fighting it, and I want to be
      true to myself now. It feels good not to fight it
      anymore. I can�t go back. Sex with men is the only
      kind I want. It's different, there�s more to it � for
      me, anyway � than there is with a woman. It's hard to
      explain. I don�t know if you could understand,
      really."

      "I know the parts are different."

      I laughed. "Yeah, and that's certainly a lot of it.
      But it's not all. As close as telepathy during sex
      made me feel with Jean, we weren't really sharing the
      experience, not in the same way as when I'm doing it
      with a man, even a man I didn't love or even know
      well. There's something about having sex with another
      guy... it's hard to explain.� Well, that�s what I
      said, but what I was thinking was that I didn�t know
      whether or not I ought to try to explain. I wasn�t
      accustomed to talking about my sexuality at all, not
      having done so for a long time. And it felt a little
      bit risky to discuss it with Logan, although I wasn�t
      sure why. I took a deep breath and continued.
      �There's a shared understanding that I just don't
      think men and women can have, or at least that I can't
      have with a woman. Can I be specific? Or is that
      going to make you uncomfortable if I talk about
      homosex?"

      "Go ahead."

      "Okay. Here's an example: I love giving head. And
      some of that is just being totally turned on by men's
      bodies. There's little that feels as good to me as a
      big, hard cock in my mouth, down my throat." I
      sneaked a sidelong glance at him, checking to see that
      he wasn't getting upset with the graphic description,
      but he looked interested and listening. "It's more
      than that, though,� I went on. "I have this really
      intense impression every time I do it. I find myself
      thinking 'I know what this feels like; I know what
      he's feeling.' And there's an erotic charge and a
      connection in that knowledge that I just don't think I
      could have with a woman."

      "Well, that's true. I can see that there's something
      there with a man that there isn't with women," he
      said, not seeming disturbed by the conversation at
      all. "But there's something else with women that you
      can�t get with a man. Some mystery or something. I
      don't know how to say it. Do you know what I'm talking
      about?"

      "Yes and no. I do know that, for many men, that sense
      of 'otherness' about women is profoundly erotic. It
      doesn't matter that you don't know how to express it,
      Logan," I added with a smile. "I've heard it enough.
      Much of Western literature is devoted to expressing
      just that." I shook my head. "I understand it, in a
      way. I can teach it, I can write about it, but I
      don't *feel* it. It doesn't touch me the way it does
      you, or most men." I sighed and continued. "I've
      thought a lot about this, since Jean was...lost. I
      loved her so much, but not having her I've thought
      more about what kind of love it was, what kind of
      feelings I've had. I did think sometimes that I would
      change, when Jean and I were together, but I don't
      think it now. We loved each other and that was no
      small thing. But sex, even with some guy I didn't
      know, didn't care about, wouldn't see again, was
      always more intense, more fulfilling, more... complete
      than it was with Jean." I smiled wryly at Logan.
      "So, I really am gay."

      He smiled back. "I guess so."

      I'd been uneasy talking to Logan about this, and was
      glad he hadn't freaked out on me. I was feeling good
      about the conversation now. These were issues I'd
      been mulling over since Jean's disappearance and I'd
      felt the lack of someone to talk to about them. It
      wasn't until later that it occurred to me to wonder
      what he'd meant when he agreed with me that there was
      something different, about sex between men, something
      you couldn't get from a woman. Was he speaking from
      experience?


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