So, there I was in Peru. Peru, Vermont, that is. Well, actually I was staying at Charles’s house in Peru, but at the moment I was about 30 miles away, in Bellows Falls. Fellow's Balls, the locals call the town. I was sitting in Dr. Leeds’s office. Yes, the same Vermont house Charles had wanted me to go to a few months ago and the same Dr. Leeds Charles had tried to convince me to consult. I sat down, offered greetings from Charles, and then used up the whole fifty-minute hour. Surprised that the time had gone by so quickly and with much more to cover, I made an appointment to return the next week.
No, I wasn’t having my head shrunk. I was interviewing Dr. Leeds, finding out whether he could be a help to us with the MPP Project. Our mutant refugees were likely to need psychiatric support, both for dealing with after-effects of trauma and for easily assimilating into their new lives and identities. Dr. Leeds wasn’t a mutant, but Charles assured us he was well acquainted with mutant physiology and psychology and utterly trustworthy. And he was certainly conveniently located.
Ethan Allen Leeds was a true Vermonter, meaning his family had been there for more than three generations. In his case he traced his family's residence in Vermont back to his namesake’s time. But he had gone to medical school at Columbia and done his residency at Bellevue, before returning to set up a practice at home. While at Bellevue, Dr. Leeds treated a young woman who had been committed for observation after multiple suicide attempts. Her symptoms were varied and severe, including hearing voices in her head and a strong conviction that she could move physical objects with her mind. When the woman’s roommate showed up and agreed that the patient could do what she said, Dr. Leeds thought he had a case of folie à deux on his hands. He’d tried to explain that to his patient, as she sat in his office after her roommate left. “Is there such thing as ‘folie à trois’?” she’d asked, as the dictionary in Dr. Leeds’s office flew off of the shelf and landed on his desk, pages flying by until it was opened to “F”. So, when it turned out his patient was a mutant, not a schizophrenic, Dr. Leeds had been determined to learn everything he could to help her. That's how he met and befriended Charles.
Hank had originally planned on coming to Peru with me to meet with the doctor, but as Medical Director he was being kept very busy lately. A respiratory infection had close to half the school down. Recent rumors of bio-terrorism directed at mutants had all of us worried that it might be more than just a run-of-the-mill virus. Once it had been cultured and Hank had determined it was just this year’s flu strain, we all breathed a sigh of relief and made plans to offer flu vaccine next year. But Hank had to stay and tend to the ill, so I made the Vermont trip without him.
Interviewing Dr. Leeds wasn’t the main focus of the trip, just a side issue. I was charged with doing all that was necessary to prepare the house in Peru for its new role. And doing it in a way that wouldn’t be noticed by the neighbors.
Not that the neighbors were all that close. Driving directions to the Peru house had that familiar Vermont refrain in the middle: this is the point where the paved road ends. The house itself was on 38 acres of land, in the middle of dense woodland. It was far enough from the nearest neighbors that we never worried that the noise of a bunch of mutant kids on a nature field trip or ski excursion would bother anyone. Still, what we were concerned about for its future use was secrecy, not just avoiding being a nuisance.
The house had been in the Xavier family since Charles’s childhood. A huge old farmhouse with attached barn, it had been practically falling apart when Charles's father had bought it for a song. He must have put a fair amount of money into fixing it up, but nothing compared to what it was worth now. Charles could have made a fortune if he'd wanted to sell it. But the kids liked going there and besides, he already had a fortune.
A portrait of a teenage Charles Xavier hung in the hallway between the living room and the master bedroom. He smiled back at me with a full head of hair, standing on skis. I always stopped and looked at it for a while the first day I was there, contemplating what he must have been like before he’d lost the use of his legs.
I generally was at the Vermont house a couple of times a year, but this was the first time I wasn’t there as a chaperone. It was Hank who suggested that we set up the Peru place as a safe house for mutant refugees who would be in the MPP, while we trained them in all the particulars of their new identities. It was a great location for that – large, remote, quite self-sufficient. Easy to get to from New York, Toronto and Montreal, making it convenient for both Alpha Flight and the X-Men. And only used by the Xavier Institute a couple of times a year. We could easily house several MPP participants there for a few weeks at a time without interfering with the house’s other uses. But we needed to do so without anyone in the area knowing, which meant that the refugees themselves, their trainers, and all the supplies they needed had to be brought in silently and secretly.
The Blackbird was perfect for that. Our jet doesn’t care where the road ends and its stealth features make it practically undetectable – by eye, ear, or radar. The Peru house had a clearing in the middle of its woodland that would be good for landing, too, given the jet’s vertical landing capabilities. But getting from the clearing to the house itself was an issue. Our refugees would be of varied health and physical capabilities; their arrival would be at unpredictable times. We couldn't count on their ability to trek through the woods during a Vermont winter to get from the landing spot to the house. After some discussion, we’d decided that what we needed was a tunnel, leading from under the Blackbird’s woodland clearing to the barn. There was a secret room in the barn, a hiding place from when this house had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. I'd seen the hiding spot and shown it to the kids as an onsite visual history lesson. It seemed fitting to put the former slaves' refuge to work for a whole new crop of refugees.
Pyotr had been my first choice to help me with the tunnel. Between my blasts and his organic steel strength, we’d have it dug in no time. That is, we would have if he hadn’t come down with the flu, along with everyone else. Logan doesn’t have Pyotr’s powers, but he’s strong and a tireless worker, so when he offered to pinch hit, I agreed gratefully.
Logan, it turned out, was a better choice than Pyotr for this mission, even without Colossus’ super strength. He not only had the physical capabilities, but also knew a lot about design, construction and engineering, certainly much more than I did. I took out the plans Charles had drawn up for us, and he read them in a couple of minutes, nodding in understanding, then throwing around terms like "cut and cover " and "driven tunnel construction" as we surveyed the site.
"Guess what?" I said. "I think you should be foreman for this operation."
"Fine," he grunted, walking around the spot where the tunnel opening would be.
"How do you know so much about this stuff, anyway?"
"I don't know."
It was hard work, but satisfying as well. We blasted and dug all day for over a week. "Resolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of men." We spoke little as we worked, just saying what we needed to get the job done. Logan told me what to do and I did it, not minding being the one taking orders this time. Cutting through the rock with my optic blasts and digging with conventional tools, as well.
In the evenings we talked more. And read. I'd quoted him that "resolute, dumb, uncomplaining" line and he'd liked it, wanting to hear the whole poem. Then when he'd heard that he wanted more like it, so I read him a few by Robert Service. And others, too. Sandburg, Jarrell. He nodded in grim recognition at Jarrell’s “Death of a Ball Turret Gunner”, saying, “With a hose. Yeah, that’s how we did it.” Gave me shivers. But I didn’t ask, just read more poetry. Poems about war or work or strife. Nothing flowery, nothing romantic.
"You should take my poetry class," I said. "It's all girls - it would be a nice change not being the only man in the room." He grunted in answer, scoffing at the idea of him in class. But he asked me to read another poem a few minutes later.
I chose "Chicago" and he was enchanted with it, had me read it twice. "Yeah, that's the Chicago I remember," he said.
"You never heard the poem before?"
"I don't think I ever did. Is it a famous one?"
"He sure paints a picture, doesn't he? When was it written?"
I looked at the book. "1916," I said, and we looked at each other. "Does that mean..."
"I don't know." He didn't say any thing else.
The days were exhausting but satisfying, the evenings relaxed and companionable, but the nights were hard on us both, for different reasons. I was uncomfortably aware of a strong and growing attraction to Logan and more and more worried that, given his heightened senses, he'd become aware of how I felt about him. Oh, he had shown calm acceptance of the knowledge that he had a gay colleague, field leader, and temporary housemate. Still, I thought it likely that easy comfort would vanish if he had any idea what my private thoughts and dreams were like. I did what I could to ensure he wouldn’t find out. The conscious thoughts I just worked on banishing, using that famous Cyclops control to get my mind on other things. "That way madness lies; let me shun that" I told myself again and again.
My unconscious mind wasn't listening, though, and he invaded my dreams with his strong, hairy body, his powerful arms and hands, that killer smile. Every night I'd tell myself it wasn't going to happen this time, read diverting material before bed, and then find myself in the arms of Morpheus - and Logan, in spite of all my good intentions. On my knees in front of him, my mouth moving up and down on a rock-hard cock, or underneath him, listening to him groan and roar as I felt him pushing deep inside me. I woke up each time excited, disturbed, and confused about what to do about my feelings.
I wasn't the only one dreaming. If my dreams were exciting but troubling, Logan's were pure hell. The first night I didn't even realize it was a dream. I woke up, hearing sounds of struggle in the next room and then a cry like a wounded beast. I ran to the door and it was locked. "Logan!" I yelled, rattling it. When there was no answer, I blasted the lock off and went in.
He was sitting up in bed and didn't look happy to see me. "Go away," he said.
"Are you okay?" He grunted something and gestured to the door. "A nightmare?" I asked, belatedly realizing I'd gone into superhero mode unnecessarily.
He nodded, and told me to leave again. But as I walked out, I heard him saying, "Thanks, Summers."
I went to him almost every night, although I tried to be more respectful of his privacy after that first time. Often I didn't go into the room at all, just knocked on the door and called to him until he answered, verifying that I'd woken him up. He always thanked me for stopping the nightmare. He never wanted me to stay. I suggested a couple of times that he get up and read, or we could play cards or something, but he'd just wave a large, strong hand, shooing me back to bed.
Then one night it was different. I woke up to the moaning and groaning and knocked on his door, calling his name. I heard him yelling, "No!" and then kind of a strangled sound followed by an almost inhuman sobbing. I went in. Standing by the doorway, I called his name, louder and louder, as he thrashed around on the bed, his movements jerky and mechanical, as if some invisible puppeteer had him on strings.
Finally, he opened his eyes and sat up. "How long you been there?" he asked.
"A couple of minutes."
He held up his hands to show the claws were retracted, and then gestured to me to come closer, saying, "I'm not dangerous. Not now." He turned on the lamp and then put both hands to his eyes, rubbing them like he was trying to erase what he'd just seen.
I sat down in the armchair near his bed and looked around. He was a mess. The room was a mess. The bedclothes were ripped to shreds; there were holes in the wall. And there was blood everywhere, lots of it. Staining the torn sheets, drying on his chest and arms. No visible wounds, but they'd probably been there a few minutes ago.
"Were you trying to hurt yourself?" I asked.
"Nah. I was just fighting them off," he said, looking at his blood all over the bed. "I guess I got in the way."
"Dreams can be like that."
We sat there for a while. I didn't want to leave, since he wasn't telling me to, but I was pretty uncomfortable. Trying not to look at his body lying there on the bed next to me, but looking in spite of myself. I hadn't been this close any of the other nights and I wondered if he always slept naked, and whether I would have found some excuse to come closer on other nights if I'd realized that.
The remnants of the sheet were thrown over him, but most of him was clearly visible. He was sweaty, presumably from the dream, but now that that was over it looked like the glistening sweat of exertion and power. I wanted to lick it off of him.
And then he started shaking uncontrollably, all over his body, like some machine was churning inside of him and he couldn't turn it off. He tried to hold onto the bed with both hands to steady himself, but they were shaking, too.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Shit!" he said. "I hate this." He clenched and unclenched his fists, grabbed onto the bed frame, seemed to be trying to do anything he could think of to make it stop, but nothing was working. "Sometimes it just takes me like this, afterwards," he said, still trembling uncontrollably.
“Do you want me to call Dr. Leeds?”
Well, unlike Charles, I can take no for an answer. “How about Hank? Maybe he can prescribe something.”
He tried to shake his head, but the trembling made it go back and forth in a bizarre, almost robotic way, his teeth chattering. “No doctors,” he said. “No drugs.”
"Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"Yeah, yeah," he said. "Come over here. Put your hands on my shoulders. Hold me still."
So, I did. I got onto the bed with him, holding him by the shoulders, talking to him softly. He seemed to relax after a while and the trembling stopped. "Thanks," he said.
"Is there anything else I can do?" I tried to keep my mind off what I wanted to do.
"Yeah..." There was a long pause and I almost asked again. But then he said it, "Suck my cock."
"What?" Had he really said that, or was my strong desire making me hear things? I figured I should check, just in case he'd really said "Take the clock" or something like that and my overactive imagination had turned it into something more exciting.
"You said you like to do it? Right?" I nodded, figuring we weren't talking about clocks. "It helps. Sex is the only thing that... makes it stop. For a while, anyway. Come on, Cyclops. Do me a favor."
So, I did. He sat on the edge of the bed and I got down on my knees, stroking him to hardness, looking at his cock. I’d sneaked peeks before but this was the first time I was seeing up close. He had curly dark hair at the base; the skin on his balls was dark. He was circumcised, which surprised me. I figured he'd be old enough that it wouldn't have been a common practice. His cock was long and hard and seemed very thick, with a purplish head that looked like it was straining to be sucked. He looked delicious.
I bent down and started licking him as I stroked, savoring the taste and the feeling, one I'd wanted for so long. Then I put the whole head in my mouth, kissing and sucking, moving down a little farther with each stroke until I was taking him all the way in and pulling all the way back up. He stroked my hair and moaned as I did him. I could smell the sweat and the blood and it seemed almost like I could smell his fear disappearing and turning to joy and excitement. The sounds he was making were driving me crazy, better than I could have imagined: moans and sighs and seemingly random spoken words of joy and lust, all in this almost growling undertone, as he stroked my hair and cheeks encouragingly. I cradled his balls with one hand while I held the root of his cock with the other, bobbing up and down, almost overcome with the taste and the feel of him in my mouth, with the sounds and smells all around me. When he came he was in up to the root and breathing hard.
He stayed still, catching his breath afterwards, smiling ear to ear. "God, that was good," he said, after a minute. "You've got a real talent for it."
"Field missions, English classes and blow jobs. I think it's important to have varied skills," I replied, and he chuckled.
He moved over on the bed, sitting with his back to the headboard and feet stretched out. He sighed happily and patted the space next to him. "Come on," he said. "Sit down." I joined him, very aware of my hard cock straining against my boxers.
He was aware, too. "You do like giving head, don't you? Turns you on. Well, let me take care of that for you," he said, pulling my dick out of the opening and starting to stroke me with a loose fist. "Only fair."
I leaned in to kiss him, but he turned his head away. Kept jerking me, though, with a truly wonderful motion of his hand. I wasn't even sure what he was doing, but it felt great. And then he reached under my shirt with his other hand, playing with one of my nipples, then the other. He was making me squirm and moan. I closed my eyes and just gave myself to the feeling.
And he kissed me. Not on the mouth, but on the shoulder, licking and sucking and biting a little, moving into my neck all the while he was rubbing and stroking like he knew just what I needed. "I'm going to come," I told him.
"Good," he said, right in my ear, as I shot on his hand and his leg.
"Good," I echoed, head back and coming down from that high now. "Very good."
"You came buckets. Been a long time?"
"Too long." Neither of us said anything for a while. "Maybe we could do that again sometime?" I asked.
"Yeah, maybe," he replied with a chuckle.