An Ever-Fixed Mark (Unexpected Occurrences 3/12)
- An Ever-Fixed Mark (Unexpected Occurrences 3/12)
Watching Jake amble from our booth to the bar, I felt
some sort of brief sense of foreboding, a slight worry
that I really shouldn�t be here. It passed quickly,
or maybe I suppressed it. Mostly I was having a fine
time. Sitting in a bar in the Castro was giving me a
profound feeling of being back among my own people, a
welcome one after months of isolation. City life made
a nice contrast to being hidden away in rural
Saskatchewan, occupied with Ezra and Jean-Paul and
domestic chores and with helping Arthur and Wendy run
the Outpost. Getting nowhere on the novel I had
supposedly moved there to write. And then lately I�d
been much too occupied with the tragic side effects of
the War on Mutants, working to integrate the refugees
that were still streaming into the secret community.
I needed a break from all that, I thought to myself.
Now the crowded bar, the pleasant buzz of conversation
and loud music, the sexual energy I could feel all
around me in a room full of gay men � these were
sights and sounds I�d missed more than I�d realized.
The decidedly delectable Jake - heading back now with
our drinks - made a most welcome sight, both rear and
frontal view. Jake�s got the attractively scruffy
look of a raffish and charming journalist and the long
body and lithe grace of a long distance runner. Not
surprising, since he�s both of those things. I had
heard over dinner that Jake had covered the last
Olympics for the Chronicle, but he�d competed in the
previous ones, in Athens. For some unknown reason,
the fact that athletes in the ancient Olympics had
competed naked jumped into my head. �A nice custom
that,� I thought to myself, eyes on Jake.
I was glad to see Jake quickly and decisively brushing
off the extremely good-looking body-builder type who�d
accosted him en route. I�d worried that I might be
abandoned for the possibility of sex, but Jake seemed
eager to return to the conversation we�d been engaged
in. I was, too. I was certainly enjoying Jake�s
company, and not only � or even primarily - as eye
candy. It was so refreshing to talk to another gay
man, another reporter, someone with stories to tell
that I wanted to hear and with a willing ear for my
journalistic and sexual reminiscences, as well. I was
feeling the excitement of getting to know an
intriguing new acquaintance along with the relaxing
familiarity of conversing with someone who understood
a journalist�s lifestyle. All of that felt wonderful.
In fact, I�d been really enjoying myself since the
moment I�d arrived in San Francisco. The enjoyment
had come as a bit of a surprise, and a welcome one. I
had been so angry at Jean-Paul for backing out of the
trip at the last minute that I hadn�t left the Outpost
in a very positive frame of mind. I�d been worried
that my bad mood would spoil the whole conference for
me. I�d even considered canceling altogether and
staying home, too. I went ahead with it partly
because I felt I *should* go, since I knew it was
important for the upcoming assignments � both the
overt one and the clandestine one from Charles Xavier.
Mostly I went because I just couldn�t face spending
the next few days in Jean-Paul�s company, as angry as
we were with each other.
I�d left the Outpost last night with a cold nod to
Jean-Paul and a warm goodbye to our baby in his arms.
I couldn�t help venting to Wendy as she drove me to
the airport, even though I know I was putting her in
an awkward position. She�s at least as much
Jean-Paul�s friend as mine and it�s not fair to stick
her in the middle of our spat. But who else was I to
talk to? Perhaps ranting at Wendy had helped to purge
the bad feelings.
�I don�t get why he wouldn�t come,� I�d said for at
least the fifteenth time, as we drove along Highway
11, heading towards Regina. �It�s perfectly safe � no
way they�d know at U.S. customs that he�s a mutant.
Martin just refused, again today, to accede to the
American demands to put mutant status on Canadian
passports. And even if the P.M. gives in, you know
Alpha Flight will get around that. There�s nothing in
any of his papers to identify him as a mutant, and
he�s the classic case of one whose powers don�t show.
Jean-Paul�s passed as normal before and he can do it
again. He doesn�t have to be scared.�
�You know he wasn�t scared to come with you to the
States,� Wendy had patiently replied. �Come on, Adam.
Who are we talking about here? Jean-Paul�s not
exactly risk averse. When did he ever not do
something because it was dangerous?�
�Yeah, he�ll put himself in danger any time Mac or
Heather asks him to. He�s been in the States how many
times since the war started? He just got back from
that mission in DC. Washington, DC for God�s sake -
Ground Zero. I was terrified until he got back, but
he acts like there�s no danger.�
�No he doesn�t. He�s always sensible of the danger �
you know that. That�s what�s kept him alive this
long. He doesn�t avoid danger, but he knows it�s
�Yeah, I guess. He sure acts like the danger doesn�t
matter, anyway. Like he doesn�t give a shit if he gets
killed and leaves Ezra and me behind. There�s nothing
he wouldn�t do for Alpha Flight. But he won�t come
with me to this conference, no matter how important it
is to me. No matter that you guys � with all that�s
going on at the Outpost � offered to take care of Ezra
for us, letting us have this trip to ourselves. What
does Jean-Paul care? He isn�t willing to even cross
the damn border for my sake.�
�Try to see it from his perspective, Adam. The U.S.
has declared war on our people. Jean-Paul doesn�t
want to be there � none of us do. It�s my country and
I don�t even want to cross that border until this war
is over. It makes me sick to even think of going
home, going to a country where our people are labeled
�enemy combatants� just because of who we are.
�And Jean-Paul doesn�t have the ties to the U.S. that
we do. He doesn�t feel the pull you and I do because
it�s not home to him, and he still feels the same
revulsion as us at the thought of being there. But
he�s still willing to go when he needs to. He goes
wherever he�s sent. He�s willing to risk being
arrested as an enemy combatant when he really is one �
working as an Alpha Flight operative, trying to rescue
detained mutants or improve our intelligence. It�s a
�whole nother thing� � as April would say - to go
there for fun. I don�t blame him for not having the
stomach for that. He can�t just go off for a week of
vacation in a country that�s imprisoning and killing
our people. I know he wants to be with you. There�s
nothing he�d like better than to have a few days alone
with you, but he�s too serious a person to do this.�
�So, what does that make me? Not a serious person?
Frivolous?� I could feel that I was displacing my
anger at Jean-Paul on her, but I couldn�t stop myself.
�No, Adam,� she replied, ever patient, ever kind.
�It�s different for you � it�s work. Now that you�re
freelancing, you need all the contacts you can get.
Jean-Paul understands that. We all do. And we�re all
hoping you�ll pick up information this week that we
can use. We�ve got to find out what�s really going
on. It�s the only way we�ve got a chance of getting
Tabitha and Rogue out of that prison. The government
is certainly trying to keep a tight rein on what gets
to the media, but the press has a way of finding
things out. I�m glad you�re going to the conference,
and glad you�ll be in Washington next week.�
I tried to take Wendy�s words to heart, tried to
remind myself that I was at the conference for work.
I tried to quell the nagging feeling that this trip
was a self-indulgence Jean-Paul had rightly refused
and that I would have, too, if I�d been more
principled. Yet what Wendy said was right. The
conference could be a big help, both to my career and
to the underground war resistance effort.
The career and my participation in the resistance were
intertwined. I had only recently begun freelancing,
and was doing so mostly for the opportunity to help
the resistance. Charles Xavier had called me to his
room for a private meeting and told me he felt I was
underutilized at the Outpost. He had asked me to use
my skills and my profession to do undercover work for
the X-Men. �I�m sorry to interrupt your fiction
writing, Adam,� the Professor had said. �But right now
the mutant community needs an investigative reporter
on our side a lot more than we need a novelist. I�m
sure the book will be wonderful, but I�d appreciate it
if you put it off for a little while.�
I had agreed, of course, but I wasn�t sure how much I
could help, how effective I could be. Truth be told,
I was having trouble even thinking of myself as an
investigative reporter these days. Well, if Charles
read my mind and knew how doubtful I was, he didn�t
say. Maybe this conference, and next week�s
assignment in DC would help give me the contacts I
needed to fulfill Charles�s clandestine mission. Even
more so, I was hoping it would do something for my
sagging professional ego. Work is the one area where
I�ve always felt confident, and it has been so hard to
So, Jake�s enthusiasm when we met had been very
welcome. As soon as I introduced myself he started
telling me how much he admired my work, how he�d
followed my stories since he was in journalism school.
It was flattering to get that kind of response, take
on the role of a wiser senior colleague.
Meeting Jake had been just one of many pleasant
encounters in a lovely day. I had had a wonderful
time the entire first day at the conference, and even
more so when I joined a few of the other reporters �
Jake included �for dinner. Months of living in rural
Saskatchewan had left me wondering if anyone back in
the States remembered Adam Greenfield, journalist.
Try as I might, I wondered sometimes if I remembered
We all have our own pet theories. One of mine is that
everyone has a �real resume� that�s nothing like the
formal one. My formal resume lists my work experience
and educational credentials, major articles I�ve
written, awards I�ve won. It goes on for a couple of
pages. It�s the paper I send to prospective employers,
but it doesn�t represent the real Adam Greenfield. It
may have determined whether I got an interview for
this job or that, but what�s written there has nothing
to do with whether I could do the job. What decides
that for everyone, I�m convinced, is your �real
resume.� Your real resume is a short phrase or two
that truly sums up your abilities as a worker, the
description you never share with your employer
directly but try to convey in the interview your
formal resume got you.
I remember sharing my theory with Jean-Paul early on
in our relationship. He�d confessed his insecurity
about his lack of formal credentials, whispering into
my ear in bed that he�d wished he hadn�t dropped out
of school. �It doesn�t matter,� I�d told him, running
my hand along one of his strong thighs, and getting a
little distracted as I did. �Mac doesn�t care that
you never went to university. He knows what�s on your
real resume.� I explained the dual resume concept, my
hand sliding up his thigh and then cupping his cheek
as I spoke.
�So, tell me, mon ami: what does it say on my real
resume?� Jean-Paul had asked, throwing one leg over
mine, nuzzling my neck.
�Fearless, ferocious, and extremely loyal,� I�d
answered without hesitation. Then, hand wandering to
Jean-Paul�s half-erect penis, stroking him hard again,
I�d added, �And always ready for action.� To my
delight, he�d chosen to prove the last point and the
discussion of resumes � real and formal - had ended.
My own real resume had always said �Gets the story,
whatever it takes.� That dogged persistence has
served me well for years. It has always been even
more important to my success than my ability to write
quickly under pressure, although it was that ability
to write under deadline that was more noticeable to my
employers and colleagues. I had been so sure that
both the persistence and the quick writing (which my
friends jokingly refer to as my mutant power) would
serve me well when I quit the Herald and moved to
Saskatchewan. My plans were all set, and they
included a solid domestic life for the first time
since I�d grown up and left Brooklyn, as well as
finally having the time to write the novel that had
been growing in the back of my mind for years.
The domestic life had flourished but the novel was
getting nowhere. Days went by when I wrote nothing at
all, busy with Ezra, Jean-Paul, and the running of the
Outpost. Worse still, when I did manage to spend a
few hours working, I more often than not threw out
what I�d written.
What did it say on my real resume now? The face in
the mirror each morning seemed on good days to be
�Adam Greenfield, father of Ezra and partner of
Jean-Paul.� Was that enough? I�d ask my reflection.
Where had my ambition gone? What had happened to my
skill? On bad days, staring at the empty pages � or,
worse yet, at pages filled with a story that didn�t
seem worth reading, even to me - I felt like �Adam
Greenfield, failed novelist� was all it said on my
So, this conference had been a welcome distraction and
I had been looking forward to attending it with
Jean-Paul. I wanted to feel back in my element during
the day, and I was anticipating hot sex every night,
uninterrupted by our adorable but often wakeful baby.
I knew it was just the thing for me, and for our
relationship, too. We needed a reminder that we
aren�t just parents and partners, but lovers, too.
Some private, unencumbered, uninhibited fucking would
have done a world of good for us both.
The first day over, I was glad I came, even without
Jean-Paul. I was really enjoying myself. Well, I was
when I was managing not to think about him. I was
still too angry at his refusal to come along to do
what I usually do in the evenings when we�re separated
� head back to my hotel room to spend hours on the
phone with Jean-Paul. Half the fun of a good day was
usually talking to Jean-Paul, reviewing everything
that had happened, talking about life and love and our
growing son, attending to our relationship and our
erotic needs through phone sex. He knows just what to
say and how to say it to really turn me on, to make me
feel like we�re together. Still, I didn�t want any of
that tonight. I thought I might not even call
Jean-Paul at all. �Fuck you, Jean-Paul,� I muttered
under my breath. Let him think a day or two about how
much he�d hurt and disappointed me by staying home. I
went out with the guys I�d met instead of calling him.
I turned my thoughts away from my lover back in
Saskatchewan and towards the here and now. A day and
an evening in the company of people in my field,
people who were interested in what I had to say, who
clearly looked up to me, had been great for my bruised
ego. The ease and genial banter of reporters swapping
stories was something I hadn�t realized I�d missed
until I had it back again. The epidemic that had been
the excuse to start the war had peaked and waned, and
was on the other side of the country anyway. No one
here seemed reluctant to go out to dinner for fear of
infection. No one in the restaurant seemed to be
looking around for secret mutants. The world could
almost seem normal again.
Much laughter and wine later, I had headed off to the
nearest gay bar with Jake. As the only other gay man
in the group at dinner, and a local, he�d pulled me
aside as everyone was dispersing. Jake had offered to
take me to a place he knew while the others headed
back to the conference hotel. I had almost said �no�
� I�d had more to drink at dinner than in the past
month put together � but he convinced me to go for
just one drink. I was happy to let myself be
persuaded by young, rakish, funny, insightful Jake.
Talking to Jake felt so relaxed and easy.
He was awfully pleasant to look at, too, I thought
watching him saunter back from the bar, flashing that
engaging smile as he sat down, his hand brushing
against mine accidentally as he handed over my beer.
Jake took a sip of his beer, his tongue sliding out of
his mouth to catch a stray drop. Lovely tongue, that.
If only I were single.
Hmmm, does he even know I�m not? I hadn�t mentioned
my family to him, I realized. I figured I�d better do
that right now. I was enjoying looking at Jake,
enjoying the attention, maybe indulging myself a
little bit in imagining how that tongue might feel,
various places on my body. But it was crystal clear
to me that I was just looking. Even if Jake were
interested in me sexually � and he probably wasn�t � I
would never do anything with him.
Jean-Paul and I are committed to each other, committed
to monogamy. Okay, so I�m pissed off at Jean-Paul
right now, but that doesn�t mean I�d break my promises
to him. I�m disappointed in him, wishing he hadn�t
backed out like that, but I�m still in love with him.
Love is not love if it alters when it alteration
finds. We�ve been through other problems and we�ll
get through this one, too. I wouldn�t jeopardize our
relationship, our family, potentially our health for a
one-night stand with Jake. I haven�t had sex with
anyone but Jean-Paul for years now. And that�s the
way it�s going to stay, I reminded myself forcefully.
I�d better make that clear to Jake in an understated
way, by talking to him about my lover and son. Just
in case Jake was interested in me � which he probably
wasn�t � and thinking I was available.
Yet somehow I couldn�t find a way to inject Jean-Paul
and baby Ezra into the conversation. The secret
location of the Outpost had dictated caution in my
descriptions of my current life, both at the formal
conference and during the evening of convivial and
more personal conversation. I�d listed my residence
as still in DC when I�d registered, using Anjuli�s
home address as mine. I�d talked to Jake and the
other reporters at dinner about the novel I was
writing (although I hadn�t disclosed how little
progress I�ve made on it) and presented that as the
reason I had quit the Herald. I had mentioned
freelancing on the side. I�d expounded at length on
how frightened and how outraged I am about the War on
Mutants, tying what I�d seen in Belarus to what was
happening in the U.S. I spoke passionately about the
effects on mutant friends of mine. Yet I had never
mentioned to any of the other reporters that I have a
mutant lover and a child who might well grow up to be
a mutant. I just couldn�t figure out how to broach
the subject without letting on that a great deal of
what I�d told them hadn�t been strictly true.
�So, you gave up your apartment when you left the
Herald?� Jake had asked, responding to one part of my
recent life story I had disclosed. �Where are you
�With a friend in Georgetown - Anjuli Radavan - and
her son Hank. She�s a single mother with close ties to
the mutant community and she�s been going through hell
this past year.�
�I can imagine!� Jake responded, sympathetically,
leaning in close to hear me in the loud bar. My pants
started feeling a little tighter as he did.
�Hank � not the baby, his father � was a good friend
of mine, a mutant. He was killed in the 4/16 attacks.
I�m not there enough to need a place of my own, and
Anjuli�s glad to have company when I�m not off on
So, I went on to talk about Hank and Anjuli, about
other mutants I knew and worried about, but never
mentioned the one I�m closest to. I was feeling more
comfortable, trusting Jake better. I felt like I
could tell him I have a mutant lover without worrying
about shock or revulsion. And I know I could do so
without revealing where Jean-Paul and I are really
living. So, I wasn�t quite sure why Jean-Paul�s name,
and Ezra�s, just weren�t coming up. Maybe it just
felt too crowded and impersonal in the bar to discuss
such a personal issue. Maybe all the male flesh on
display made talking about family sort of incongruous.
I did want to tell Jake about them, though.
�Hey, you getting tired of the crowd and the noise?�
Jake was asking, as if he�d read my mind. �I am. Why
don�t we go back to the hotel? It will be quieter
there and we can talk in private.� He leaned in
close, hand on my arm.
I agreed right away. It seemed like a good idea at
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