He looked real surprised when I said I’d go with him. That’s understandable - I kind of surprised myself. I wasn’t sure why I told him yes. Sure, partly it was a case of why the fuck not? It wasn’t like I had anything else to do. No more cage-fighting in that place. I could move on and find somewhere else to fight, but I was kind of sick of it anyway. I’d been trying to figure out what I was going to do next, even before he showed up.
That was a shocker, him showing up, and like that. Threw me for a minute, and he used the chance to get a couple punches in, which just pissed me off at the time. Really, he’s the last guy I’d expect to find in that cage with me.
I hadn’t thought much about him, or the X-Men, for a long time. Hadn’t been thinking about her, neither.
It wasn’t always like that. I’d thought about her right after I left, alright. A lot. I was thinking at the time that it would be hard to get over her. When I left there I pretty much nailed every willing redhead between Salem Center and Alkali Lake, thinking about her, trying to forget. But after a while something strange happened: I found I was trying to remember instead.
I couldn’t really picture what she looked like, remember what she smelled like. I didn’t think about her much at all, really, unless I was trying to. At first I sort of nursed it, kept thinking about her, kept screwing women who looked a little like her. But after a while I started asking myself, why try? And then I mostly didn’t think about the X-Men at all.
Well, sometimes I’d think about them – about him – when I was riding his bike. That’s one fast machine. I’d ride it with a smile on my face, for the fun of riding it and for imagining the expression on his face when he realized I took it. But after a while it seemed like kind of a lame gesture: taking his bike ‘cause I couldn’t take his girl.
It made me think that maybe me wanting to fuck Jean wasn’t about her at all. It was about him, about wanting to get his goat. Or something. The funny thing is even though I couldn’t really remember her face, I sure could remember his. I could close my eyes and see him right in front of me – the pretty boy looks, the superior smirk, long lean body, confident walk. The dark glasses and that slight red glow behind them. I could tell what he was looking at by where the glow was brightest. I don’t think anybody else can – heightened senses make the difference. And just paying attention, too. I could remember him looking right at me, just like he was right in front of me. Yeah, sometimes I thought about that at night. Not sure why he made such an impression. Maybe because of the bike; maybe because he had the girl I’d wanted. I don’t know – it wasn’t something I wanted to dwell on.
So then I got the camper and just mounted the bike on the back of it and didn’t think about it much. Or them. But sometimes I’d see it on the back there and just remember a bit and kind of wonder what happened with the X-Men after I’d gone. I’d think sometimes about going back there, too. I could tell the professor that his tips on finding out about my past hadn’t panned out, and ask if he had any other ideas. Maybe he’d have ideas for finding stuff out or maybe he’d want me to join the team. And sometimes that seemed like a good idea. Something to do, anyway.
So it was something that came to mind from time to time. Still, I didn’t do nothing about it. I’ve been on my own a long time and mostly that’s the way I’ve wanted it. But then I’d hear that professor’s voice in my head that one time, saying “You’re not the only one with gifts” and I’d feel something. Some sort of... longing.
I’d always known there were other mutants in the world, ever since I figured out that’s what I am. And I figured staying away from them was the best thing I could do. You hang around obvious ones and people catch on. Not that I’m scared or anything. It’s just easier if no one knows. But then I got mixed up with the X-Men and the whole thing with Magneto and saw that there was a different way of looking at being a mutant. Two different ways. Magneto’s way of fighting the normals or the professor’s way of educating them, of fighting for something.
I’ve never been much for education, it’s true. But I saw what they were doing in that school and started to feel like this could make a big difference to mutant kids like Marie. And if I’m choosing between the geeks who protect her and teach her and the guy who was willing to kill her ‘cause he was too scared to risk his own life, well I know which team I’d rather be on. If I’m going to be on a team. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to be on anybody’s team. So I thought about going back, once in a while, not often, but I didn’t do anything about it. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to be on a team, or maybe I didn’t want to see Jean again. Maybe I didn’t want to see Summers.
I’d pretty much hated his guts at first sight. Arrogant, rich, standing there with the fancy glasses and the stupid ass cardigan and the freaking code name. Cyclops. Just oh so sure he’s the good guy. It’s a type I can’t stand, everything handed to him on a silver platter. And then when I found out she was with him that pissed me off more. Believe me, I wondered what she saw in him. But that was before I saw him in action.
“Field Leader” just sounded like a fancy title, but see him risking his life for the team and you think a little different. It’s probably not for me, that do-gooder stuff, but it’s still something. A good place for Marie and them other kids, like I said. And just seeing him fighting and teaching and just running stuff there – well I realized there’s more to him than just a pretty face. Jean told me once that he’d had to keep his eyes closed for months before they figured out about the ruby quartz. That takes some kind of control. And I saw it for myself when we were fighting in the cage. He shut them so fast when I knocked the glasses off of him that there weren’t any blasts. And then he fought me blind, getting hit again and again, weaker by the minute but he kept them closed. It was something to see. It wasn’t until I’d knocked him out that they opened, when he sort of almost woke up. Just a second or so, but long enough to blow the roof off.
When they’d realized he was a mutant it looked to be a mob scene there. They’d come after him and he wasn’t in no position to defend himself. You could see that mixture of fear and hate all over their faces as they approached. It would’ve been the end of him, they were set on making sure he never woke up. So, I popped the claws and told them to back off.
Well, they were all chickenshit. Willing to take on a dangerous mutant, sure, long as I knock him out for them first. Not one that’s ready to fight back. I saw the same hate and fear again, only now it was for me, but they weren’t gonna take me on. Not until they got some weapons, anyway.
So I grabbed him and hightailed it out of there. Jenkins met me at the camper with the rest of Scott’s stuff and a hundred bucks he said was for him. And I drove far away and just waited for him to wake up. I wasn’t thinking about going with him then.
But then I had him in my camper and I watched him. Unconscious, vulnerable looking on the floor there. Although really it’s the camper roof that was vulnerable if he opened his eyes. I was curious as fuck about why he came there. I figured it was something to do with me and Jean. Started feeling good about it when it turned out I was right, that he was jealous of me. But funny thing – it didn’t make me miss her or feel like I was wanting her all over again, just made me feel good that he was jealous. Kind of petty, I guess. And I wasn’t even mad at him anymore, but I guess it just made me feel superior or something. I took his bike, I beat him up, and still he can’t stop thinking about her and me. Can’t stop thinking about me.
So then he tells me this scheme the professor cooked up and at first I think it’s more bullshit but he talks to me some more and he sounds real sincere and then he’s all tactics and plans so I figure it’s for real. And I start thinking maybe I want to do it. For something to do and to do something for Marie and kids like her. And yeah, for getting back at Magneto for what he’d done to me and tried to do to her.
And maybe for finding out a little more about Scott Summers along the way, too. I was getting kind of curious about him. There’s more to him than meets the eye. Maybe I was wrong about him being all rich and spoiled. I just assumed, seeing him in that mansion and with all that stuff, but maybe I assumed wrong. Getting a hundred bucks out of Jenkins – well, that’s not something I think a rich guy would do. Maybe he wasn’t always a rich guy. I wonder where he was before the professor took him in, what he was up to.
And he wasn’t a whiner like those rich and spoiled types usually are. I fucked him up real good and there wasn’t really much to help with that in the camper – no meds or anything. But he didn’t complain, just washed the wounds so they wouldn’t get infected and waited it out. Didn’t wait that long, neither. He said the next day he was ready to go. Still moving kind of funny, but he didn’t complain.
So we headed out of there. He told me where he’d put his jet, turned out we were about 200 kilometers from there. I sold the camper in the next town, had some cash in my pocket. We went on from there on the bike. I told him he could drive. “Big of you,” he said, kind of laughing. “It is my motorcycle. You were just borrowing it, remember?” Then he said I could drive if I wanted, but I told him it was okay. Then he said he doesn’t see well in the dark, so he drove while it was still light out and then we switched. And I don’t know why, but I kind of liked sitting behind him and holding on, and liked it when he was behind there holding on to me, too. I was getting to like the look of him, too.
Feeling kind of randy, going without for too long. And hey, I’ve spent time in prison and in the army. When you’re stuck places without women you learn to be flexible. He was looking pretty good. That mouth on him – thinking of things I’d like him to do with it. But not much chance he was thinking the same thing, so I just concentrated on getting out of Nowhere, Saskatchewan and back to civilization. And this mission I’d gotten myself into. Looks like I’m an X-Man again, for a little while.