Yeah, he's kind of a dick. An overachieving Boy Scout playing with his own private army. Thirty years old and he still thinks the world's divided into good guys and bad guys. And he's oh so sure that the good guys are the ones with the perfect hair, perfect clothes and perfect smiles. But he really loved her. Got to give him that.
I didn’t, not really, not like he did. If I'm being honest with myself I have to say that. I do know that I couldn't forget her, much as I tried. No, not even after nailing every willing redhead between here and Alkali Lake. Didn't help a bit. I said I came back to find out what really happened to me. I knew I came back for her. But was that love or just wanting to get into her pants? Was it just the challenge of getting a girl like that, one I knew I couldn't have?
Maybe it wasn’t even so much about her, as about him. Was it just to get his goat? To take that superior look off of his face by doing his woman? I've got to admit, that was a big part of my fantasies of Jean and me - Cyclops brought low. Yeah, I liked to imagine Jeannie on her knees, gobbling up my dick, and then Summers walking in just as I'm about to shoot all over her face. That image got me going on many a cold night. Still does, many a night since her death. Pretty damn callous of me, jerking off thinking about her. Thinking about him. What the hell - I never claimed to be one of the good guys.
Well, guess I did, that once. Or at least told her I could be, for her. I think I meant it when I said it, but we both knew it wouldn't last. I'm not cut out for this hero shit and I'm not cut out for love. I would have said anything to have her and we both knew it. So, no wonder she goes with the guy who really loves her. The guy she really loved. Even if he is kind of a dick. And I figured I could be a good guy long enough to tell him about that, to let him know that he was the one she chose.
That kind of changed things between me and him. I don't think her death alone would've made a difference. He'd still resent me for trying for her, and hate me for not knowing if she'd stay with him or go with me. And I'd hate him for being too stupid to know what he really had with her. But me telling him what she said sort of softened him toward me, took some of the anger away. And it did something to me, too. Sometimes when you do something nice for someone it makes you like them, or at least not hate their guts. Funny how it can work that way.
Plus I had to admire how he was with the kids, with the team, with everyone at that place. Pretty clear he was on the verge of falling apart, but he never stopped. He's a dick alright, but he's got perseverance. And he's something to see in battle. I've fought with him and I've fought against him. He's a guy to have on your side.
So, it wasn't exactly Butch and Sundance, but him and me were doing okay. Some of the two man missions it was me he asked first. And some of the times he did, I found myself saying okay. We were out Tuesday night breaking up an attack on some mutants upstate a ways. It would have gone quicker - and been a hell of a lot more fun - if he didn't have this stupid idea that we should do it without killing anyone. Still, it was a pretty satisfying fight, a good way to spend the night. I crawled into bed when we got back and slept for hours. He went off to shower and change and start his work day. I didn't find out until late Wednesday night that he'd collapsed during his first class.
I ran into him at the pool round about midnight. I looked both ways to see no one was in the hall outside there before I jimmied the lock, knowing they closed it down at 10:00. Strict rules - no swimming except with a lifeguard on duty. So, I was surprised to find there was already someone in the pool.
He was swimming laps, cutting through the water in one smooth line. He didn't see me. At least I don't think he did. Wearing swim goggles, dark red so I guess they were ruby crystal, too, but maybe his eyes were closed, anyway. He didn't seem to have any idea he wasn't alone. I stood by the side watching him, not sure whether to get in or not. There was plenty of room - six lanes and he was only using one - but it didn't seem my place or something with him there. So I just left my clothes on and sat there for a while.
He was something to see. No unnecessary movements, swimming like a seal or a dolphin or something, like he was totally in his element. No trace of the Field Leader or the English Teacher. No thinking, no plotting, no orders - just gliding through the water like he was made for it, like he was in his own world of water and movement. All body, no brain. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Finally he stopped at the shallow end and saw me.
"What are you doing here?"
"Same as you. Just haven't started yet."
"I thought I'd locked the door." I held up my picks and shrugged. "Nobody's supposed to swim alone. It's not safe."
"So what are you doing here?"
"I'm tired of safe." He scowled. "If I'd known you were there, I'd have had you count laps for me. I go into a trance, kind of, when I'm swimming. Never know how much I've done unless someone else counts."
"Why do you want to know how many laps you swim?"
"I don't know. I like to quantify my accomplishments." I didn't ask who used to count for him. "You want the pool now? I'm done." He got out.
"Nah, I changed my mind." He toweled off, gathered his stuff together, didn't seem to even notice me. "Hey, Cyclops," I said, as he was walking out. "I'm gonna go into town. Wanna come?" He shook his head. "Come on. Have a couple beers, check out the local scene. Pick up a couple of girls, even."
"I'm not interested in any women but Jean. She's the only woman I ever loved." He said it quietly, in a flat tone.
"Not everything's about love, Summers." He didn't answer. "I guess you need your sleep, anyway - up all last night, working all day today."
"I slept most of the day, actually. Drug induced." He smiled at my surprised expression. "Doctor administered, Logan." He shrugged, embarrassed. "I kind of fell apart during poetry class this morning."
"What, you blacked out?"
"Something like that. Hank says I'm overworked. So, he gave me some sort of injection and I slept all day. Now my circadian rhythm's all screwed up."
"So, you're up anyway. Come on." I gestured to the door with my head.
He looked down, gestured at his trunks. "Okay if I get dressed first?"
I don't know why I went with him. I didn't feel like company and I didn't want to go anywhere. I never like going into town and generally manage to avoid trips there. When I do go it's usually with some of the kids, or another faculty member, a shopping trip for supplies or the occasional meal in a restaurant to celebrate somebody's birthday. Not my idea of a celebration. I always feel we're being stared at and am on alert the whole time, in case we're attacked. I count the hours until we're back home and safe. Maybe like I said to Logan, I was tired of safe. Or maybe I didn't want to go back to our room. My room now.
Anyway, he took me to some out-of-the-way dive where a whole lot of people looked considerably stranger than I do, so I wasn't so worried about being stared at. We sat at the bar and ordered burgers and beers. The barmaid smiled at me, pointing to my glasses. "So, are you a movie star?"
"No, I'm just practicing in case I am some day."
She laughed. "No, really. Why the shades?"
"I have a problem with my eyes," I told her. "I just had surgery for it. I have to wear these all the time for a week or so. My eyes can't take the light."
"It's not very bright in here."
She went off to get our drinks and Logan leaned in, saying, "I think she likes you."
"I told you - I'm not interested in women besides Jean."
"Yeah, I know. Look, I'm not doubting you or anything. I know as well as anybody she was somebody special. I know you're grieving. But it doesn't always have to be love, you know. You can't give up on sex - it's not natural."
"I didn't say I wasn't interested in sex. I said I wasn't interested in women." That took a minute to sink in. I could have predicted exactly what would happen when it did. We'd been sitting on bar stools, close together to hear each other amid the noise. He practically knocked his stool over moving away from me. I looked at him with scorn. "Don't worry. You're not my type."
I wasn't even sure I'd heard him right at first, not until he said I wasn't his type. "Really, Cyclops?" I asked. "You're..."
"Gay, queer, homosexual, a faggot. Take your pick."
"But Jean..." I wasn't sure what I was asking.
"I loved her."
"Did she... Did you..."
He sighed, wearily. "Yes, Jean knew I'm gay. Yes, we had sex. Yes, we were planning on getting married. No, I don't know if it would have worked out. That's part of why we'd been together so long and hadn’t married yet. We weren't sure it could work. But we loved each other and it makes a difference."
"So, how did it work? You fucked guys on the side? Jeannie was okay with that?"
"No, Logan. I didn't 'fuck guys on the side,' as you so elegantly put it. We only had sex with each other. I haven't been with a man for years."