To Every Thing There is a Season (After the Fall, 8/8)
- To Every Thing There is a Season (After the Fall, 8/8)
Months had gone by, and life was achieving a semblance
of normality for us all. With spring, 'Ro's
landscaping efforts were showing, and the gardens and
fields looked much as they had before the siege. To
me, anyway. She told me she was trying a new color
scheme in the South Flower Garden. I, of course,
couldn�t tell the difference. "I'm still looking at
the world through rose-colored glasses," I reminded
her, the old joke sounding less bitter than it had
lately. To my ears, at least.
We began thinking about what, if anything, we should
do to commemorate the battle anniversary, which was
approaching. And which day to use as anniversary,
anyway. When Kurt had, against his will, attacked the
White House? When Charles and I had been taken
captive? When Jean had sacrificed herself to save us
all? Ultimately we felt that the first anniversary of
the siege of the school was most important to the
students, and planned a general assembly and moment of
silence for that day. We expected it to be a
difficult day, but cathartic. Necessary. We were
taken aback a little at how hard most of the school
found the day *before* the anniversary, though. More
weeping, more hollow-eyed blankness then than the
anniversary day itself. Perhaps reflecting on the
last day before our world fell apart was harder to
take than remembering the first day after.
I had a tough day, myself, the day before. And the
anniversary itself, and a few days after. Reliving
those days of a year before, thinking what I could
have done differently. But I wasn't worried that I
was sinking into depression again. I was cutting
myself some slack and giving in to the melancholy for
a few days, recognizing that I had healed a lot, but
still needed to grieve some, one year later.
Mostly, I was functioning very well. Not just
functioning, enjoying my work in a way I hadn�t for
some time. I was teaching my classes with a renewed
zeal, working effectively with Alpha Flight - our
affiliate team in Canada - and the FBI reps on our MPP
project, training with the team and with students in
the Danger Room, directing the school play. I was
starting to feel like myself again.
A lot of feeling better was just letting time work its
magic. Some of it was the result of getting over the
stubborn insistence that I had to handle all this
myself, and truly enjoying and benefiting from the
comfort that my old friends could give me. Charles,
�Ro, Hank � they all shared my loss and I found, over
time, that talking and listening to them was more
consoling than painful. There was a healing factor in
just being in my own home, doing my own job with the
people who cared about me and had cared about Jean,
and once I opened myself to it, I profited from it.
There were still times I missed Jean so much I could
taste it. Even worse were the times when I forgot she
was gone, tried to say something to her in my brain or
rolled over in the night reaching for her. But, as
time went on, those were fewer and farther between.
Jean�s absence had felt like a sharp wound for months
after her disappearance. But lately it seemed only a
dull ache most of the time, and even that was
No, it wasn�t Jean�s absence that was worrying me
lately, but what seemed to be her presence. Or the
presence of *someone* or *something* that called
itself Jean. The dreams, and even waking impressions,
of Jean speaking to me telepathically became quite
frequent in the first few months after she was lost.
She�d tell me she wasn�t dead, that she�d be coming
back. At first I thought they were just an expression
of my own longing, wish fulfillment in dream and
fantasy. But they were too insistent and too real for
Charles had alluded to similar experiences, saying he
wasn�t surprised that I thought Jean might be alive
but we hadn�t talked about it much. He�d tried to
raise the subject once or twice after I told him what
I suspected, but I wasn�t ready to discuss my
experiences or let him into my brain and he�d backed
off. Time had passed, though, and the messages from
Jean were getting more and more frequent. I brought
the topic up again with Charles and he confessed that
he, too, was hearing thoughts from Jean. Only he
wasn�t sure that they *were* from Jean. He wasn�t
able to articulate exactly why he doubted the
messages� veracity, but he said that somehow it didn�t
*feel* like Jean in his brain.
He told me that the last moment he'd felt Jean as
herself was when we were all in the Blackbird and she
was outside. He'd tried to convince her to join us in
getting to safety, assured her that she could move the
jet and escape, too, if we all worked together. And
then it was as if another being was there, along with
Jean. When Jean took over his mind and spoke through
him to me, saying "Good-bye," something happened. He
was sure there was someone else there in his brain,
too, along with her. Jean had never had powers that
could overcome his. He wasn't sure what had happened
then and he wasn't sure what was left now, but it
wasn't Jean as we knew her. An enhanced Jean, a
mutated Jean? Or was Jean dead and someone had
absorbed all her memories and was impersonating her?
He didn't know the answers, but he felt sure that the
being that was contacting him was someone other than
the woman I'd loved.
And once he�d told me that, I attended to the dreams
more and found the same thing. The words were Jean�s
� the references to things we�d done were ones only
she would know � yet somehow the presence in my mind
was not Jean�s, not what I remembered. I didn�t know
what to make of this. If not for Charles, I might
have thought that I was just imagining the difference,
not remembering anymore just what it felt like to be
telepathically connected to her. But I didn�t think
we could both be imagining this. And, then it wasn�t
just Charles and me, but Logan, too. Still, it took
me a while to realize that he was experiencing
Logan certainly had a role in my improved state of
mind, as well. We weren�t lovers, not in any real
sense. I think I could have fallen in love with him.
I was certainly needy enough and he was appealing
enough. But he had made it so clear that love was out
of the question for him and that kept me at arm�s
length, emotionally. He was friendly, and he was a
valuable team member, and we were having sex several
times a week, but there was still a certain reserve
about him that made clear the boundaries of the
And, truth be told, that was fine with me. I was
increasingly sure that I didn�t want to go back into
the closet, but I wasn�t sure I wanted to step out so
far, either. If I�d been involved with someone where
we were kind of a social couple, I�d have to deal with
that with my colleagues and students in a way I wasn�t
With Logan � well, we certainly weren�t an
acknowledged couple and I think it unlikely that most
people even realized we were friends. The time we
spent together was out of the watchful eye of students
and faculty. I wasn�t suffering from insomnia so much
anymore, but I was still meeting Logan at night, to
train together and to talk, as well as to have sex.
We�d often start with one activity and end up with
another: swimming laps or working simulations and
then, in the flush of success and exertion, sucking
each other off or fucking on the Danger Room floor or
by the side of the pool. And long conversations
afterwards, with him telling me his fragmented
memories of long ago times, often spurred by poems I�d
recited to him or books of historical fiction I�d lent
So, I was getting the advantages of regular sex and
the excitement of getting to know Logan in ways I
hadn�t before, in ways I don�t think anyone else at
the school did know him. And I didn�t have to deal
with the potential changes in how colleagues and
students would view me if I came out more publicly. I
was getting annoyed, yet again, at the girls in the
poetry class and their crushes, but I also saw their
mooning in class as a good thing, as a sign that they
saw me sort of coming back from the dead, not thinking
about Jean all the time.
That Logan might be disturbed by thoughts of Jean
hadn�t occurred to me. He�d gotten into the habit of
knocking on my door at night when the aftereffects of
a nightmare were bothering him. I hadn�t seen the
full-body shaking again that had so alarmed me that
night in Vermont, but he often seemed shaken and worn
out by the time I saw him. He said that sex helped
and I was only too happy to provide that kind of
assistance, for my own sake as much as for his. I
never thought much about the fact that he seemed not
to want to have sex, or even talk much, in my bedroom
� that we always had to go to his room or the Danger
Room or the pool or the gym. My room was on a student
floor and more in the thick of things than his, which
was right near the Danger Room. So, I figured he just
wanted more privacy than we could have in my room. But
one night when he knocked on my door just past
midnight I felt kind of settled in bed, and asked him
to stay there with me.
�I can�t.� He shook his head.
�It�s okay. The soundproofing is good here. No one
will hear us,� I said, with a smile, gesturing to him
to sit on the bed. He just shook his head, looking
nervously around. �What�s wrong, Logan?� I asked,
feeling suddenly like there was more to his refusal
than worry that some student would hear us having sex.
He kept looking back and forth, not meeting my eye.
�I can�t tell you.�
�You�ll think I�m nuts.�
�I haven�t yet,� I replied, trying to reassure him.
�And you�ve told me some pretty crazy-sounding
stories. Imprisonment and torture at the hands of two
governments; fragmented memories that seem to span
well over 100 years from a guy who doesn�t look a day
over 30. You�re not nuts � you�ve just had a lot of
crazy things happen to you.�
�Yeah, well, this is different.� But he did sit down
on my bed.
I reached over and started rubbing his shoulders,
which were terribly tense, talking to him
reassuringly. �Did you have another nightmare?� I
asked, and he nodded but didn�t say anything. �Lie
down,� I said. �I�ll rub your back.�
He lay prone across my bed and I got on top of him,
straddling him as I rubbed his shoulders and back,
feeling some of the tension go away as I massaged and
talked to him softly. �That feels good,� he said,
sounding sleepy and relaxed.
I, on the other hand, was feeling more and more awake.
His body under me was giving me ideas for more than
just a back rub. I leaned down to his face, turned to
the side, and tried to kiss him, but he turned away.
�Not here,� he said. And then he was asleep.
I wasn't quite resigned to just let him sleep. I kept
rubbing his back, thinking it might wake him a little
and lead to something else. He turned on his side in
his sleep and after a while I lay down next to him,
pressed against his back, spoon fashion. Nuzzled his
neck a little, reached around and started stroking his
cock. He was getting hard, seemed to like it. He was
maybe sort of half asleep and half awake, moving into
me, sighing happily. But then he stopped suddenly,
took my hand away and said, "Stop it."
�Why?� I asked.
�She doesn�t want us to.�
He sat up and turned on the lamp. "I didn't mean
that. I was half asleep."
"I know you were half asleep, but I think you did mean
it. You're talking about Jean, aren't you?"
He nodded, slowly. We looked at each other. "I don't
believe in ghosts," he said.
"No, me neither. She's not a ghost."
"She�s talking to you, too?�
"Yeah, except I'm not sure it *is* her." I explained
what Charles had told me about that time in the
Blackbird and how her telepathic presence had felt
"Jean never talked to me in my head, before. I guess
I wouldn't know how it should feel." He looked me in
the eye. "What do you think it means?"
"I don't know. But this I know for certain sure:
Jean wouldn't tell you not to have sex with me. Is
that what she's telling you?"
"Yeah, but I figured I'd just agree not to do it in
your room. Her room."
"So, you're compromising with a ghost? A ghost you
don't believe in?"
"Okay, when you say it like that it sounds a little
strange." I laughed at that. He thought some more
about what I'd said before. "Why not? Why do you
think she wouldn't tell me not to? Don't you think
she'd be pissed off about you and me?"
I shook my head. "If she were, she wouldn't let it
govern her actions, anyway. That's not how we were
with each other. I told you - we didn't know if it
would work out between us. But what we did know was
we wouldn't stand in each other's way." I stopped
talking, mulling over what he'd said before. What he
said about ghosts was bothering me, making me think of
something. "Nineteenth Century American Literature."
"What are you talking about?"
"It's a class of mine. We're reading _The Turn of the
Screw_. There's all this whispering and muttering in
class. Three kids transferred out of class, saying
they couldn't read it, that it�s giving them
nightmares. I meant to talk to Charles about this -
I've taught this book before without trouble. I was
figuring it was indicative of more after effects of
the siege. But now I don�t think so. It's a ghost
story. I never thought of it that way, but yeah,
somebody who wasn't familiar with how telepathy feels
might think it's Jean's ghost talking to them."
"So you think Jean - or whoever it is - is talking to
some of the kids, too?"
"Maybe. And scaring the shit out of them in the
process. That�s not like Jean at all. If it were
Jean, she�d assure them she�s not a ghost. Or stay
away from the kids altogether, not wanting to scare
them. But this being isn�t showing that kind of
judgment. Charles, you, me. Students, too. What
does she want? Who is she?"
"I don't know. I'm just relieved to know I'm not the
only one she's talking to." He thought some more.
�Do you think Jean�s alive?�
�No.� I shook my head. �I think it�s someone or
something else. But that somehow whoever it is got
hold of her memories. Because if it were Jean in my
brain, no matter how she�d changed, I think I could
tell. And if someone had her captive she�d be in my
brain. If she were alive, nobody could stop her from
talking to me. And the other stuff � telling you not
to do it with me, scaring the kids � none of that
gibes with the woman I knew.�
I was convinced and I think I managed to convince him.
We needed to be on guard, I thought, from whoever
this presence with Jean�s voice and memories was,
since we didn�t know her intentions. But she wasn�t
Jean. That�s what I believed and what I kept on
believing. Until the day Jean walked in the door.
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