The team and school were informed over dinner that Cyclops would be on a one-man mission for the next couple of weeks, and that Storm would be Acting Field Leader in his absence. Solo missions were unusual but not unheard of. The mystery surrounding this one caused flights of fantasy in already seething adolescent brains. The school was quickly buzzing with rumors.
Storm politely but firmly declined to answer when a delegation of students asked her whether it was true that Mr. Summers was being sent to capture Mystique, in her current disguise as Senator Kelly. She wondered, though, if the students had gotten it right and if so, why Charles had sent him alone.
Scott asked Jean to cover his classes and the Car Club meetings while he was gone, and she agreed, distractedly, without any question about where he was going or when he’d be back. Any doubts he’d had about the necessity of this mission vanished when faced with her complete lack of curiosity as to his plans. It seemed that nothing he did was of interest to her anymore.
Scott wanted to believe he was imagining the change in her, but it was all too evident. Ever since the mission against Magneto – the one mission with Logan on their side – he’d seen the woman he’d known and loved for all his adult life turn into a stranger. An increasingly powerful stranger. As her interaction with him decreased, the strength of her telekinetic gift was intensifying at an alarming rate. He had seen her lifting objects telekinetically that had always been way beyond her capabilities: cars, boats, once the Blackbird itself. And at night their bed shook convulsively with the force of telekinetic dreams.
This wasn’t the first time Scott and Jean had dealt with a change in mutant powers and the impact that can have on a relationship. When they’d first met and first fallen in love, neither of them had full use of the mutant gifts they were developing. He’d been effectively blind, still hoping at that point that he’d learn to control his optic blasts, hopes that were eventually dashed when an EEG revealed that the damage to his mutant control center was permanent. Jean for her part had only telekinesis, the telepathy she would later develop not yet in evidence.
The first two X-Men, they trained together and learned to fight with the limitations imposed by Jean’s limited superpowers and Scott’s inability to control his. Eyes firmly closed except when using his blasts, he’d rely on her signal – vocal or tactile – to open them. Endless practice and his almost superhuman self-control made them effective in combat in spite of his disability. It wasn’t until later, when they’d discovered ruby quartz could block the optic blasts, that the visor enabled him to fight independently.
Scott had fallen in love with Jean before he’d ever seen her. He didn’t know back then whether he’d ever see her. He loved and lusted and learned to please her with his eyes closed, reveling in a world of touch, smell, sound, not knowing if he’d be able to add sight to the senses with which he explored her.
Scott had asked her what she looked like, but didn’t know whether to believe her description. “Red hair, gawky, glasses, ugly,” she’d said, without a trace of self-deprecation or sadness in her tone, as if she were describing the weather. “A boy who looks like you would never be interested in me, not if he could see me,” she’d added.
“I bet you’re beautiful,” he’d replied. And when he finally could see her, he knew he’d been right.
Scott’s blindness – and his consequent reliance on her – had been a major factor in their relationship in the beginning. If anyone was the leader then, it was Jean. She was four years older than him, which is a lot of time and maturity when you’re in your teens. Even more importantly, Jean had come into her powers years before Scott had. She had been living at the Xavier mansion since she was twelve.
Jean seemed to Scott – only months into trying to accept and adjust to his mutant status – infinitely sophisticated and wise. She could expound at length on the X-gene and the evolutionary development it represented and had a pride in being a mutant that seemed completely natural to her. Scott admired and envied her comfort, still struggling not to think of himself as a disgusting freak.
Jean could pass for normal, too. And help him pass for normal – it had been Jean’s idea to get Scott a white-tipped cane and glasses dark enough that no one could tell his eyes were tightly closed behind them. Off of the grounds of the mansion, they often appeared to be an ordinary couple, normal except for his disability, and that disability an apparently unthreatening one.
Sex was the only area where Scott felt more mature, more experienced than Jean. He’d had a variety of sexual experiences, the first with a divorced woman who lived next door to the Summers family and used to ask Scott over to help her with tasks around the house. “I miss having a man around the house,” she’d said after he’d come down from the ladder, having changed the light bulbs that were too high for her. “There’s something else I’d like you to do,” she’d continued. It wasn’t until she kissed him that he realized she wasn’t just looking for handyman work.
That had been Scott’s initiation into sex, but there had been girls his age, too, while he’d gone to the local high school. And then, when his father insisted that he transfer to military school, his good looks and easy manner had attracted some boys, too. He turned them down firmly, but without anger, even when his would-be seducer was his best friend and roommate, Carl. Carl had been flustered when Scott declined, frightened of how Scott might react. “I really thought – ” he’d begun, but Scott had stopped him before he could say what he thought, assuring Carl that he understood that the offer meant nothing more than desperate sexual need due to the lack of women. Scott explained that he preferred his right hand and waiting until he got home and Carl relaxed.
Scott definitely wanted to be home. He had no idea he’d never see his home again, his life about to be upended by the X gene’s activation. Scott looked forward to the next vacation and what he thought would be his next trip home. Home was where the girls were plentiful and many were interested in young Scott Summers with the prominent cheek bones, bright blue eyes and oh so kissable mouth. Jean never got to see the blue eyes, but she made clear early on that she was interested in the rest of what Scott had to offer.
She had lived an isolated life as Charles Xavier’s only student, with no opportunity to meet boys during what would have been her high school years. Then, in college, a shyness borne of fear of potential boyfriends’ reactions to her mutant powers prevented her from dating. Jean had never even been kissed before Scott came into her life. He’d told her he didn’t want to rush her, that her first time should be special. “I’m a 20-year-old virgin, Scott,” she’d said. “I just want to get it over with.”
Under the bravado, though, he felt her insecurity and listened to that much more than the words. He insisted they take the time they needed to really explore each other’s bodies and get to know each other’s responses. They touched, they kissed, they stroked. He made her come with his fingers and his tongue before he ever entered her. “I didn’t know it could be like this,” she said.
“Me, neither.” His fingers touched her face and found he’d made her smile, and cry.
Yes, his blindness was a key element of their relationship, initially. Yet they’d adjusted to the change and their relationship had grown and deepened when his sight was restored. They’d become a more effective fighting team, as well.
Bit by bit he took over the leadership role, proving – as the ranks of the X-Men increased – to be the best among them at tactics and at ensuring team safety. Scott’s time blind had left him hyperaware of his surroundings and with a heightened ability to use all of his senses. He always knew who was endangered, who was injured, who needed backup. He could redeploy team members immediately when necessary. No one was surprised when Charles named him Field Leader. He had been their unofficial leader for months, the guy who brought them back alive, against all odds, again and again.
Jean and Scott adjusted well to that change, too. His leadership in the field led to no inequality in their private relationship. If anything, it helped to eliminate some of the inequity that those four years and her more extensive education had represented.
A few years later, when Jean had begun developing telepathy, they had adjusted well to that, too. Charles had initially seemed concerned about that new development, a reaction that puzzled both Jean and Scott. Why wouldn’t he be happy that one of his own had a new mutant power, an extremely useful one in the combat missions he was more and more frequently sending them on? Charles never explained his reluctance but he seemed to get over it over time. He worked individually with Jean, teaching her how to use and control her telepathic abilities.
Scott had been frankly thrilled by Jean’s new powers, by their ability to have a constant mental link. It gave him greater confidence of his ability to ensure her safety in combat and provided them with a continuing connection during the times they needed to be separated. It added something to sex, too, to feel each other’s thoughts and emotions, bringing a new level of intimacy. Feeling her orgasm from inside her brain as well as inside her body was a level of sexual joy he couldn’t even have imagined until he’d experienced it. “Remember how it was when I could finally see?” he’d said to her at the time. “It was like a whole new component to our sex life.”
“I remember. You turned into a sex maniac,” she’d replied, smiling. “And you’re doing it again.”
“Are you complaining?”
“No, celebrating. Some women turn to sexy lingerie or toys or new techniques from women’s magazines to keep their men interested. I develop mutant powers.”
It hurt Scott to remember that conversation now – the easy sexual banter, the deep connection. The distance between them now made it seem so remote, as if they’d been different people back then. Scott tried to recall when they’d last had sex. He couldn’t remember.
He remembered the disaster that had been the last time he’d tried, a couple of weeks ago in their bathroom. She’d been brushing her teeth as he showered when he’d suddenly pulled back the shower curtain, reached out and pulled her into the shower with him. She’d shrieked and then laughed as her nightgown got soaked. Scott had wished he had his glasses, so he could see how it clung to her. Eyes tightly closed, he’d pulled her close to him, kissing her, touching her breasts, guiding her hand to his hard on. And then – nothing. Her brain was a blank wall to him.
“What are you thinking about?” he’d asked, accusingly.
“This. You.” She stuck her tongue in his mouth, hand stroking up and down his shaft, but it didn’t distract him.
“Logan. You’re thinking about Logan, aren’t you?
“Of course I’m not.” But the mood had been broken. She knew he didn’t believe her. No presence in his mind, but the slamming of the bathroom door left no doubt as to her feelings. He stood there a long time under the hot water, anger and frustration and regret all at war in his brain. His hand fell to his cock, stroking first idly, then with purpose. Thinking about Jean. And Logan. It took him a long time to come and when he did his orgasm was a release more angry than joyful. He’d slept on the couch in their sitting room that night. And a lot of nights afterwards.
He tried once more to talk to her, the morning before he left. “Tell me,” he said. “Why are you closing me out? What don’t you want me to know? What really happened between you and him? Tell me the truth and I can live with it – whatever it is. I can’t live with not knowing.”
She shook her head with exasperation. “Nothing happened. I don't know how to convince you of that. Why won't you believe me? He liked me. I liked him. He was interested in me. I told him up front that you and I are together. Nothing happened. I’ve been faithful to you since we met. Ten years, Scott.”
“Is ten years too long? Are you bored? Sick of being with the good guy? Need to go after some dangerous loner? Someone who doesn’t have to put the team and the school first?”
“This is all in your imagination. Nothing happened between Logan and me and I’m sick of trying to convince you.”
“If nothing happened – if you’re not thinking about him – why are you closing me out of your brain?”
“I’m not!” He had been speaking loudly but she was truly yelling. “I’m closing me out of yours!” Jean took a deep breath and calmed down enough to continue in a normal voice. “I can’t stand listening to your suspicion 24 hours a day. You’re obsessed with Logan. You don’t even see me when you look at me. You see him. You can’t make love to me without thinking about him. How sick is that?” She started to cry. “I can’t deal with you concluding that every move I make, every thing I say, is somehow evidence of an affair. An affair I never had!
“It’s good you’re going on this mission, whatever it is. I need a break from this. We need a break from each other. Get over this insane jealousy and I’ll let you back in – in all senses.”