The MPP project team met weekly, on Sunday evenings, in Charles’s office. I’d only gotten back from Vermont late last night, so I was expecting to report on my experiences there as the first order of business.
I arrived for the meeting on time and found Charles and ‘Ro already settled in the seating area by the fireplace. ‘Ro was in the big leather armchair next to the couch, with Charles in his usual spot across from her, where the matching armchair would have gone, if he hadn’t left the place empty for his wheelchair. Logan and Hank hadn’t yet arrived. I sat down on the couch, figuring I could use the opportunity to catch up on what I’d missed during my absence. “How was subbing for me in Nineteenth Century American Literature, ‘Ro?” I asked.
Ororo and Charles exchanged glances. “I did sub the first week, but I couldn’t this past one.”
“That was my fault,” Charles interjected. “I always forget how much I rely on you until you’re away, Scott,” he added, with a smile. “I’m afraid I pulled Ororo away from both her classes and yours to be a substitute field leader this past week. A couple of missions came up unexpectedly. We can review them in detail at tomorrow’s team meeting, but it looks like we have a few more MPP participants lined up.”
“So what did you do? I know Hank’s been subbing in Kurt’s classes and he had a pretty full schedule already. As do you,” I added, nodding to Charles. “I can’t imagine you could take on ‘Ro’s classes and mine. So were they cancelled for the week?”
“No, that wasn’t necessary,” Charles said.
“Who subbed? I can’t see Logan teaching literature.”
“Jean stepped in,” ‘Ro replied. “She’s been taking some of my classes when I’ve had conflicts,” she added, “and she was kind enough to offer to take yours, as well, this past week. She said it was easy to do. She was reminiscing about all the time the three of us spent in your room discussing and arguing and working out details for those companion history/English classes. Jean says she spent so much time on the lesson plans when we were developing them that she’s sure she knows all your lectures pretty much by heart.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. From things she had said to me and others, I knew that the imposter did have enough of Jean’s memories that what ‘Ro said was credible. Yet, I didn’t think this evidence that she was Jean, and I wondered if I should make that clear to ‘Ro. Or should I just let it go? She already knew that I disagreed with her. At any rate, I was saved from responding by the entrance of Hank and Logan. Hank apologized profusely for their tardiness, in a characteristically verbose and sesquipedalian manner. Logan said nothing. “Now that we’re all here,” Charles interrupted, as Hank’s explanation of their lateness went into the third paragraph, “why don’t we begin by hearing from Scott how things are going in Peru?”
I was about to answer, but was stopped by the door to the office opening again. She walked in. Slowly, confidently, she strolled over to the seating area, pausing by the fire to warm her hands, just like I’d seen Jean do a thousand times. Looking directly at me, with Jean’s loving and intimate smile, she sat down on the couch. She settled there, between Logan and me. Turning to him, she leaned over and whispered something in his ear. I found myself wondering what she was saying to him, and couldn’t help but notice her hand resting on Logan’s leg as she spoke. I looked away.
“We weren’t expecting you...Jean,” Charles said mildly, the slight pause before her name noticeable to all in the room.
“I guess not, since you didn’t tell me about the meeting,” Jean replied, with a smile. “Telepathy comes in handy.”
“I’m sure it does, but this isn’t your meeting,” I said. It came out more hostile than I’d intended, but she didn’t seem to mind. She looked at me with an amused smile, her hand still on Logan’s thigh, but didn’t answer. Logan shifted a little, uncomfortably. Was it her touch or my comment that bothered him? I couldn’t tell.
Hank turned to Jean. “You’re an exemplary and invaluable addition to any undertaking, Jean,” he said. “However, it would be disruptive and disorderly and engender labyrinthine consequences to include an additional constituent project participant at this late phase in the development of the preparations.”
“I’m afraid Hank’s right,” Charles interjected. “We appreciate your interest, but the MPP doesn’t need anyone else on the project right now.”
“I just want to be helpful.” The tone was Jean’s – sincere about wanting to help, but business-like, careful not to let the hurt at being left out show.
“Of course you do.” Charles smiled at her. “Why don’t we talk later? I’d be glad to review our ongoing projects and make some suggestions for where you’d be most useful. I’m sure there are plenty of ways you can help.” His smile faded, but his eyes remained locked on hers. Nothing happened for a minute and then she rose, slowly, and turned towards the door. It opened as she approached it.
Charles waited until the door closed behind her, and then began the meeting as if there had been no interruption. “Let’s start with a status report,” he said, turning towards me and switching to the brisk, getting-down-to-business voice he uses when talking about a mission.
“Sure. Okay, as you know, we decided to start by training and resettling Angela Jenkins. Nightcrawler and I took her up to the house in Peru, and we met Northstar and Sasquatch there. Our two FBI reps, Martin Kline and Alan Green, joined us shortly thereafter. Ms. Jenkins has been kept pretty busy between learning her new identity and her sessions with Ethan Leeds. Our team up there hasn’t had a lot to occupy us, though,” I added with a rueful smile. “Maybe it was kind of overkill to have so many of us for just one MPP participant. Jean-Paul, Walter and I have been keeping ourselves occupied doing repairs around the house in Peru. Kurt’s happily absorbed in his bible studies. But the FBI guys are kind of climbing the walls. I think they just aren’t happy unless they can arrest somebody or shoot somebody.” They all laughed at that last part.
“How is Angela adjusting?” ‘Ro asked, adding, “I miss her. I spent a lot of time with her during and after the rescue mission.”
“She misses you, too,” I assured her. “I’m not quite sure what to say about her adjustment. She’s pretty gung ho and really working at assimilating the new identity and learning a lot about her new home – London, Ontario. She corrects any of us who slip and call her ‘Angela’ and seems to be developing a solid identity as Cassandra. Still...”
“Still what? What’s with her?” Logan sounded impatient.
“Well, I’m just not totally convinced she’s ready. Or even that we’ll know when she is. Maybe I’m just anxious since she’s our first. We’ve never done this before and can’t really know what the patterns of recovery are. I’m trying to keep that in mind. Still, I find myself wondering how Cassandra will seem to people she meets in her new home and new life. And, well, I’m worried she’ll *appear* traumatized, that new acquaintances will feel like there’s something wrong with her.”
“I believe you should consider the possibility that Ms. Jenkins appears traumatized in your perspective of her persona due to your superior acquaintance with the trauma that led to her having been accepted into the MPP program initially.”
“I’m sure that’s part of it, Hank. I see it because I’m looking for it. It’s hard for me to know what she’ll seem like to a stranger. I also think she just opens up more to us, so we’re going to be more aware of problems.” I thought about that a little more. “But her behavior is a little strange sometimes, and it concerns me. For one thing, she’s obsessed about security in the house in Peru. Did Ethan talk to you about that, Charles? He said he would discuss it with you.”
“Yes, he did. What’s your take on it? Do you think we need to improve security?”
I shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt. I’m not sure how much of an issue it really is, but certainly we could benefit from a security review.” I thought about it a little more. “Yeah, I think we ought to have one, if only to see if Angela relaxes when we do. Her idea of a panic room is not a bad one. But, really, I think there are limits to how fortified we can make the Peru house. It’s not ever going to be as secure as the school here.” Looking around and remembering, vividly, the events of a little over a year ago, I added, “And with all our fortifications here, we were unable to withstand a siege. In Peru, we’re relying for security mostly on not letting what we’re doing there be known.”
“I agree that there are limits,” Charles interjected. “On the other hand, I think we do need to do a comprehensive security review. There are different security needs for a ski house and the location of a project like this. I also agree with you that it’s worthwhile to do for the peace of mind of our MPP participants – now and in the future.”
“I anticipated you’d feel like that,” I told him. “I talked to Martin Kline about the possibility of doing a security review. He said they could recommend consultants. I assume they’re reliable – and confidential – if they come with an FBI recommendation.”
“Perhaps, but I don’t want outsiders involved.” He turned towards Logan. “I want you to go up there and see what needs to be done. And what’s feasible. You can enlist the help of the staff up there – ours, Alpha Flight’s and the FBI agents. It sounds like they’re not being overtaxed at the moment, from what Cyclops says. And if you need additional assistance or materials you can’t purchase in the area, just call and let me know.”
Logan nodded his assent. “I’m not buying any materials up there that don’t look like simple home repair stuff,” he added. “I’m with Scott – we’re safer there if nobody knows what we’re doing. I don’t want anyone figuring out we’re fortifying the place. I’ll work out some way to get materials we need.”
It was late and I was trying to finish grading papers before I went to bed, but I wasn’t getting anywhere with them. I was seated at the desk in the study alcove of my bedroom, all the papers that had been turned in while I was gone in two piles. The graded pile was dwarfed by the ungraded one, I noticed with a sigh.
I kept trying, but couldn’t get my mind off of Logan. I’d been trying to keep my feelings in check, to remind myself that I had no claim on him. This relationship – such as it was – was a casual one and nothing more. But knowing that wasn’t stopping me from thinking about him, from wondering where he was and what he was doing.
Where had he gone after the meeting? I’d intended to talk to him, to ask him if he wanted to get together later tonight, but ‘Ro had collared me to talk about one of the missions she’d handled in my absence. By the time we were done, he was gone. Had he left to meet the woman who claimed to be Jean? I’d looked in vain for Logan in the Danger Room and the pool, and then had come back here to finish grading.
Not that I was getting very far. I realized I’d read the same paragraph for the third time and still didn’t know what it said – or even which class it was for. Should I give up on grading for the night? No one but me expected that I’d be caught up the first day back from a mission, I knew. A knock on the door was a welcome distraction.
Logan walked in before I had a chance to answer. “Hi,” he said and smiled at me. His hand brushed my shoulder as he walked by me and sat down in the armchair next to my desk.
“Hi back. What’s up?”
“I’m feeling horny. You wanna fuck?”
I wanted to ask him where he’d been, what she’d said to him in the meeting, had he met her afterwards. I didn’t say any of that. “Yeah, sure,” I answered, deliberately casual. “I’m getting nowhere with grading these, anyway. Sex would make a nice change.” I wasn’t sure I meant it, but it seemed like the thing to say. We sat there for a minute, looking at each other. I still had my red pencil in hand, student paper in front of me.
Logan got up and stood behind me. I felt his fingers on my shoulders and neck, the heat of his presence so close to me. He massaged me with strong, firm movements. “You’re tense. Tight.”
“I thought you like tight.”
He chuckled a little. “Yeah, I like a nice, tight ass. But I think you need to relax a little or we’re not gonna get to that point. Come over to the bed,” he added. “I’ll help you loosen up.”
So, I did. I pulled off my shirt and lay down prone on top of the bed. “There’s some of that massage oil in the nightstand drawer,” I reminded him.
He got it out and put some on his hands, then got on top of me, straddling me on the bed. He began rubbing my back and shoulders, the oil on his hands warm, his strokes relaxing and exciting me at the same time. “What is this stuff anyway?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Some concoction of ‘Ro’s. Something herbal. It’s supposed to help me relax. She thinks I’m too tense. It feels good – warm. Your hands feel great, Logan,” I added as he moved lower down on my back. He bent down and kissed the back of my neck briefly. I could feel him hard, pressed against me, as he did.
As he sat up again, I heard the familiar Snikt sound of claws extending. I stayed very still, with some effort, as Logan sliced my pants and pulled them off of me. Then he was rubbing and kneading my cheeks, and I couldn’t stay still. I was moving with him and breathing hard. “Do you think this stuff would work for lube?” he asked.
“Sure, why not? Yeah, that feels good,” I added, feeling his finger stroking my crack, sliding into the opening. I pushed back to meet his hand. “I won’t tell ‘Ro we used it for other than its intended purpose.”
I heard him unzip his pants. I reached behind to feel his cock for a minute, big and hard in my hand. “Get up on your knees,” he told me, reaching for the massage oil again. I complied, resting my head and arms on the bed, my ass in the air, legs slightly spread. “You look good like that,” he said, with that husky voice that tells me he’s really hot. “It makes my cock twitch just to see you there, all ready for me.”
He moved to kneel between my legs, and started pushing in slowly, kind of humming as he did. He was in all the way. I could feel his balls pressed against me and his big dick filling me up. An involuntary moan escaped. “You okay?” he asked.
“More than okay,” I answered. “I want you moving in me. I want you to fuck me now.” And he did, sliding in and out slowly, rhythmically, kneeling behind me like that. I pushed back, moving with him, driving his cock all the way in me with each stroke.
We got into a good rhythm together, going a little faster now. Logan was breathing hard, sweating hard. I could feel his whole body trembling a bit. He seemed to be having trouble keeping his balance as he fucked me harder and faster. Leaning down now, he pressed against my back, anchoring himself. The trembling stopped. He still had all his clothes on and I could feel his shirt soaked with sweat, pressed against my naked back. He was lying on top of me, pushed hard against me as he pumped into my hole, his adamantium-laced body heavy on me.
I braced myself with one arm and reached with the other to stroke myself, but Logan pulled my hand away. “No,” he said, putting my hand back on the bed and pausing in his movements, his cock shoved all the way inside. He licked the back of my neck and added, “I want to do that.” And he did, holding my hard cock in that large and sensitive hand, resuming fucking me, moving up and down the shaft with each stroke inside me.
I couldn’t get over how good it all felt. He was breathing hard in my ear, whispering something in a language I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what he was saying, but it sounded great. His hand was making me move and moan and stretch to push against him, trying to get more of what he was giving me any way I could. The weight of the metal inside him made it hard to move, hard to push back, but it was worth the effort it took. His dick inside me felt like the perfect tool, like it was designed just to give me pleasure. “I’m going to...” I tried to tell him, but came before I’d even finished the sentence.
The hand that had been on my cock moved to my hip now. Logan got back up on his knees and held me by both hips, moving me to the position he wanted me in. He fucked me harder and harder, the bed creaking with his exertions, as I continued to move with him. Animal-like growls and groans mixed with words of pleasure and lust punctuated his movements. And then he pushed in hard as his orgasm overtook him, lying against my back again, full on me, as his cum pumped into me.
“Thanks,” he said when it was over, pulling out of me and lying down on his back. “You okay?” he asked again, looking at me as I stretched a little. I nodded. “Adamantium’s heavy,” he added.
“Tell me about it.” I lay down close to him, one arm across his chest. “It’s the first thing I noticed about you. I couldn’t believe how heavy you were when I pulled you away from that burning van. Of course, I didn’t realize it was adamantium then. I guess I thought it was just muscle.” I unbuttoned a couple of buttons on his shirt and slid my hand inside, wanting the skin-to-skin contact. I kissed him on the mouth, deep and slow. “I like the metal in you. The weight of it,” I added. “You feel...substantial. Strong.”
“You’re strong, too.” His hand cupped my ass, stroking lazily as he spoke. “I never did anybody who could take the full weight of me like that. Not that I can remember, anyway.”
“That’s why you need me. I can take it.”
“You can take it all, alright,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t have to hold back with you. And you give as good as you get. You’re a great fuck, Cyclops.” I felt warmed by the compliment, crude as it was.
“I’m moving down the hall from you,” Logan said after a while.
“That room you had when you first were here? I thought that was going to be a dorm room for upper classmen.”
“It is. Nah, the one next to it, by the storage room.”
“That room used to be a storage room. It’s tiny and windowless. Don’t move there.” Logan shrugged. “Why don’t you move in here instead?” Logan narrowed his eyes. “What?” I said, feeling like I’d gone too far, trying to get back on track. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Like I’m proposing or something. This is practically a two-room suite, with the alcove and all. I’ve felt guilty occupying it all by myself. There’s room for two, that’s all. And you’re here more than half the time, anyway.”
“That’s okay.” I didn’t say anything and Logan added, “I mean thanks and all. But I need a room of my own. I know I’m here a lot. I like being with you. The sex is real good, you’re good to hang out with. But, sometimes I’ve got to be by myself. If I don’t want to kill anyone in the night, that is. You know, when things get bad...” His voice trailed off.
“Do what you want,” I said, shrugging. After a minute, I added, trying for a light tone, “I think you’re better off being with somebody when things are bad. What happened with Rogue – well, it’s because she came in when you were in the middle of the nightmare and didn’t know what to expect or what to do. I’m not some kid who doesn’t know what the deal is with you. I’ve stopped the dreams plenty of times, you know. I know how to wake you at the beginning.”
“You’ve been a big help with the nightmares. I said thanks. I still want my own room – even if it used to be a broom closet or whatever.”
Neither of us said anything for a while. “Why are you moving, anyway?” I asked him after a few minutes.
“Now that Jeannie’s staying, she’s not gonna be in the professor’s guest room anymore.”
“So she’s taking your room? Just like that?”
“I offered. It’s right next to her office and near the lab. And she was here before me.”
“No, she wasn’t.” I shook my head emphatically. “She’s not Jean.”
Logan shrugged. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”
“Look, you know her better than I do, but still. She looks like Jean. She sounds like Jean. She smells like Jean. She knows stuff only Jean could know.”
“And she’s got a pretty convincing story, I know. She could fool almost anybody. Maybe she’s fooled you, but not me. She doesn’t *feel* like Jean.” Logan looked at me questioningly. “In my brain, I mean.”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“I know. And I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s real.”
“What happened to her – it could’ve changed her. You, too. Time passes, things happen. You’re not quite the same person you were last year. Even I can see that, and I don’t have the history. Plus, I’ve been here with you. You and Jeannie haven’t seen each other. You thought she was dead. It’s got to feel strange seeing her again.”
“It’s none of that. Don’t think I haven’t thought of all that. And more. I’ve asked myself if maybe I don’t *want* her to be Jean, don’t want that complexity in my life, don’t want to have to tell her it can’t be like it used to for us. I’ve beaten myself up about that one.” I waited for Logan to answer, but when there was no reply I continued. “If she were Jean I’d have to be dealing with all that. It would be hard, I’m sure, but I would deal with it. She’s not Jean.” I paused again. “Charles agrees with me, and he doesn’t have my motivations for self-deception.”
“He wants anything that makes you happy.”
“Not at Jean’s expense. If that were really Jean – if there were a chance she’s really Jean – he’d be overjoyed to have her back. You have no idea how close they were.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I have no idea about any of it. I’m the outsider looking in. I didn’t grow up in this insane asylum like you did, and I don’t understand half of what goes on here.” His voice was getting louder and sounding angrier as he spoke. “I’m not pretending I do. But what I do see is everyone else convinced it’s Jeannie. A Jean who’s been through hell and shows the scars of that, who isn’t the woman you remember, okay, but who would be? Makes sense to me she’d have changed – changed how she thinks, how she reacts, how she feels in your fucking brain, whatever that means. It’s just you and the professor who doubt her, and I’m thinking you’re wrong.”
Neither of us said anything for a few minutes. “She wanted me to have sex with her.” I said it tentatively, not looking at Logan, wondering how he’d react.
“I figured.” After a minute, he added “Me, too.”
“I said no,” I told him, turning to face him.
Logan looked right back at me. “I said yes.”
“It was just the once,” Logan added.
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
A long pause. “Are you leaving soon?”
“Yeah. Probably tomorrow. Maybe the next day.” I didn’t reply. “Can I take your bike?” he added. I nodded. “Thanks,” Logan said.
“Not much point in saying no. You’d take it anyway.” I turned towards the wall, back to him.
Logan didn’t say anything more. He didn’t touch me either. He zipped up, got up, and left. He closed the door hard, but not hard enough to really have slammed it.