The first time I notice the absolute blueness of Jean-Paul’s eyes we’re standing in the kitchen at the X-mansion. I wasn’t too clear on why Alpha Flight had stopped by, but since this is how Jean-Paul and I ended up in the kitchen alone maybe I should’ve paid more attention. I’m getting a glass of water, then he asks for one. I hand mine over and our fingers brush, our eyes meet.
Suddenly the act of handing him a glass of water isn’t so very simple. I blame his eyes for turning this into a profound for Bobby moment. They’re blue, but they’re not that deep blue of Hank or Kurt’s fur, no they’re lighter. They aren’t pale blue like the sky. No, they’re this medium blue, like a Smurf or how blue the ocean can get when it’s crystal clear.
I’m caught, frozen. I take in the pain and the walls Jean-Paul hides behind, that are just right there in his eyes for all the world to see. It’s too much and my gaze settles downward, takes in his lips and I’m struck by how all I can think about is closing what little distance there is between us to capture his lips. All I want is to kiss him.
I became aware of the glass we were still holding, our fingers still touching. It would be so simple to set it aside, to press Jean-Paul against the counter and kiss. I hesitate. The last guy I’ve done anything with was Cloud. It’d been simple with Cloud, so easy, until it wasn’t. Everything had been resolved, sure, but Cloud was basically a nebula again and I was alone. Still it had been simple. Jean-Paul is complicated, closed off and sarcastic. I’m not sure I can handle complicated. And what if I’m misjudging this? Alpha Flight are our allies right now, Wolverine’s past co-workers and now once again friends. I’ve enough self-preservation to know that pissing off Wolverine’s friends isn’t a good idea. Also Jean-Paul’s kinda famous. He’s a regular Canadian ski-medal-winning hero! From what I understand he only gave that up to be near his sister.
I force myself to lift my gaze upward, can’t have Jean-Paul getting the wrong idea and Alpha Flight hating us X-men. Only thing is Jean-Paul’s eyes meet mine, he sets the glass aside without changing how absolutely on top of each other we practically are. His head tilts and he’s leaning in and I move to meet him.
Then his sister is just there, arm wrapped around him, as she pulls him away while sending me a glare. Jean-Paul smiles at her and presses a kiss to her cheek and the moment between us is just gone. He spends the rest of the visit with his sister and Walter. I try to tell myself I’m relieved, except I keep reliving that moment when our lips had almost touched.
Jean-Paul had kissed Rogue or rather Rogue had kissed Jean-Paul. I wasn’t too clear on the details, but it made me want to abandon all hope. Who was I compared to Rogue? It might be time to find a way to abandon my growing crush. Then Scott says, “He seemed a bit horrified actually.”
I should know better than to get my gossip from Scott, but sometimes he’s got the good gossip.
Horrified, that one word gives me hope, ‘cause really who could be horrified by kissing Rogue? Well, okay, there are her powers to consider, but considering she didn’t have them at the moment…Well, Rogue is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, so could being horrified to kiss her mean that Jean-Paul isn’t interested in woman?
I sigh in frustration and continue my conversation with Scott as I try to find my way back to being determined to abandon all hope where Jean-Paul is concerned. What do I know about dating guys? I’ve only ever dated Cloud and she was sometimes a woman and he was sometimes a man. Is that how you say it or is there some all encompassing pronoun I’m missing? Cloud always seemed to use she and tangent, really. I’m awkward, I know. I’d be even more awkward with Jean-Paul because he’s someone I want. I’d probably go fully into klutz mode, which he probably wouldn’t find endearing at all. Lorna had hated it.
Opal is normal, she’s so painfully normal that she’s a breath of fresh air. I want normal. College education, find a girl…normal. Also I don’t have to question what I’m doing with her because there’s an easy script to follow, one taught by watching my parents and the older guys at the mansion. Movies are good for this too. It’s supposed to be easy, familiar. It might not have worked out with Lorna, but I know what I’m supposed to do with Opal.
Only I can’t quite get rid of that uneasy feeling that things won’t remain easy, complications will arise. I’m fully prepared to deal with my parents ‘but she’s not white’ issues. I’m fully prepared to fight that battle because she’s Opal and I love her and I don’t really think our cultural differences should stop us from being together.
Then Alpha Flight is back at the mansion and Jean-Paul and I are once again in the kitchen. He doesn’t ask for water, just stills when he realizes we're alone. I get a slow smirk as he stalks towards me and puts both hands on the counter, trapping me. He leans in and my breath catches.
“Think I’m getting better at blocking my sister,” he tells me. He starts in on his pick up line, but then our lips meet and don’t get me wrong I like kissing, but this…this is something more, this is an intensity I’ve never had before. This is just take your breath away good and I don’t think about anything else, but pulling him closer, kissing him harder.
There is none of the absolute I’m going to screw this up terror I felt with Lorna. There isn’t the ‘can I do this?’ ‘is this okay?’ questions that there were with Cloud. There isn’t the certainty that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with Opal. There’s just Jean-Paul and this want burning inside of me. He touches with intent, pulls me close, we grind slow and steady and…
His lips begin to trace a path down my neck and my breathing is harsh in my own ears. I moan, twist, capture his lips again and slowly realize this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing no matter how much I want, no matter how caught up I am in the feel of him, the taste of him. I also realize we’re standing in the kitchen and at any moment anyone could just walk right in.
“Can’t…can’t,” I manage shakily as a push him away.
Jean-Paul frowns at me, tilts his head, still in my personal space and it would be so easy to just pull him back in, swallow my own protests, but Opal and normal call me back towards reality.
“I’m with someone.”
He steps back and I want desperately to close the distance between us, to have him close again. I close my eyes and try to slow my breathing.
“Woman or man?” Jean-Paul asks.
“Her name’s Opal.”
Jean-Paul takes another step back, frowns and for a moment I think I’m going to get a sneer or a scathing comment. Instead he asks, “Are you happy?”
I smile as I think of her, “Content, yeah.”
“My mistake then. I’m sorry.”
“S’okay. I should’ve said something sooner,” I somehow manage even as I want to curl back against the counter, even as I hate the emptiness of not having him close.
Jean-Paul nods, leaves and as I watch him I realize that while I’m in love with Opal, I’m in lust with Jean-Paul. I go to bed trying to think of her, but I can’t get the intensity of his blue eyes staring at me out of my head.
I want normal so badly, I want to prove to my parents I can have normal so badly that when Opal turns out not to be normal we can’t survive it. We try, but we don’t.
Remy isn’t the man I want and I understand that he’s just frustrated because he can’t have Rogue. I’m lonely. It doesn’t last long.
Jean-Paul and I start to talk. We don’t mention the tension between us, he has someone. He’s happy, I think. He never says.
When they break up we try to arrange a date, but we keep having to reschedule because of distance and busy lives. A month goes by.
I never got to meet her, but her loss still hurts.
Jean-Paul is in pain.
Just when he needs his privacy the most, to be able to grieve her loss, his life is being intruded upon.
He’s suddenly the most talked about member of Alpha Flight and he weathers the storm with a weary determination and scathing quips. On the phone he sounds like glass.
Three weeks later and I’m standing outside his apartment. We’ve talked every day in the last month and a half. It’s not always for long, but even if we’re brief there is an affection and anticipation I’ve never felt with anyone else. I’m also worried for him. I want to hold him and offer comfort.
Jean-Paul stares at me when he opens the door, “Is that Wagner’s image inducer?”
I shrug, step inside and turn it off, “You said to wear one. Didn’t get the why until I saw all the people hanging outside.”
Jean-Paul’s smile is bemused, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. I set the device on a nearby table and shrug.
“It was nice of Kurt to let you borrow it.” Small talk, I hope we’re not stuck on small talk my whole visit.
I shrug, not sure how to draw him out, “Well he always says the beer doesn’t taste as good.”
Jean-Paul smirks, just slightly.
“There’s some line in your head that you’re not saying,” I tease.
“Don’t need one,” he concludes and then we’re finally kissing. He presses me back against the door with the same intensity he’d had when he pressed me to the counter. The only doubt I have is that I know he’s grieving, but we’ve both wanted for so long that there are no questions as to why I’m here.
Three days. We spend three days holed up in his apartment before Heather calls breaking in with reality. I watch all the tension and grief seep back into him as the call lengthens. I have to look away. Looking at the remnants of my breakfast, well maybe breakfast or a late lunch, doesn’t help. Eventually he says his goodbyes and then buries his face in his hands and takes a slow steady breath.
“There are more press conferences,” he explains.
“Haven’t you had enough of those already?” I ask, hoping the concern I feel is coming through and not the annoyance, “You’ve barely had time to grieve.”
Jean-Paul shrugs, “Well instead of the horrible terrorist that’s changed for the better or the Olympian who cheated because he’s a mutant, I’m now the gay superhero. People want to know how to categorize me. I can’t be complicated, so they need to unravel me and the press is good for Alpha Flight.”
He pushes his food away with a disgruntled look. He’s not done. I know he’s not done, he could eat a third plate. I move to take his hand and he pulls back sharply.
“Don’t, this is going to be difficult enough as it is,” he reprimands.
I sit back and try not to react. He hasn’t rejected my touch once and it stings, but I try to remind myself he’s hurting.
“I’m sorry.” He sounds lost.
“I have to be single,” he tells me.
“Did Heather tell you that?”
Jean-Paul shakes his head slowly, draws in a slow breath and lets it out, “Our PR-manager got on after her. He feels that the public can accept my being gay, but I have to be non-threatening so that means perpetually single. He also feels we can spin the death of my daughter into sympathy so that despite my being gay, people like me and still like Alpha Flight, even though I’m in it.”
“He really…” I start as I moved around the table towards him.
“Don’t,” Jean-Paul cut me off, his eyes are haunted as he looks up at me, “If you touch me right now I’ll call him back and tell him where he can take his ludicrous demands. Besides what are you going to tell your parents?”
I go cold and not in the good mutant power way. I clench my hands into fists and am tempted to wrap my hands into my jeans to keep from touching him because all I want to do is touch him, but my parents…
How would I tell my parents? They accept my being a mutant, but they’ve never been satisfied with anyone that I’ve dated. My dad has a heart condition and my mom…I try not to upset her. I know this would. She’s been pushing and hinting since I graduated from college that she wants to see me settle down with a wife and get started on those grandkids. Apparently they don’t make themselves.
Still what would I tell them? How would they take the truth? What kind of hijinks would ensue if I tried to lie?
“We can’t just stay here, eventually we’d go out and there would be pictures all over the tabloids and your parents would see them,” Jean-Paul tells me as he slowly works the emotion out of his voice and ends up at practical by the end.
I protest more, but we both know he has me, that he’s hit my weak spot. I go home dejected, angry and worried. After I get his image inducer back to Kurt, who grumbles at it annoyed before he tosses it into a drawer, I set off to find Logan. I try to explain the situation to him, because really I think Jean-Paul can use an impartial third party that knows what’s going on with Alpha Flight, but isn’t right in the middle of their situation. I mean to only babble a little and yeah, I turn quickly into one big babble.
What can I say? Logan still intimidates me, especially when he just stares at me, not commenting and continues to smoke his cigar. Finally when I babble myself from a trickle into nothing he pulls the cigar out of his mouth slowly and tells me, “You don’t deserve Johnny.”
I throw my hands up in defeat, “You think I don’t know that? I can already tell this is going to be one of those life decisions I regret in the end!”
If I had any backbone I’d have gone to my parents instead of the mansion. I’d have told them about me and Jean-Paul and then gone back to him. Instead I’m standing here with Logan looking as though he could strangle me. I just stand there, knowing I’m not measuring up to whatever standard he’s set for me.
That takes backbone right?
He grunts this half disgusted noise at me and leaves. Apparently he packs a quick bag and heads straight for Canada. Apparently his timing is perfect too because he marches right into a press conference when he gets there, wades his way right up to Jean-Paul and tells him, “Fuck your stupid manager.”
Then he kisses Jean-Paul, slowly, for all the cameras to capture. I wish it’d quit playing on TV.
Sam is a bad idea from the start. He should stay firmly in friend’s territory. I should throw myself into a mentor role. We become those kind of friends that are attached at the hip. Not the easy comfortable kind of friendship I have with Hank, where we can spend time apart and come back and pick up right where we left off like no time has passed. No this is one of those intense, live out of each other’s pockets, gonna burn out fast, friendships. Then he gets his heart broken and we go from friends to making out on the couch in the rec room to crashing out in either his room or mine every night.
It’s lust, affection and a burning need not to be alone.
I keep thinking his eyes are the wrong shade of blue and then feeling like an ass for such a thought.
The horror of almost losing my father, the fear of almost losing Sam, my parents finally seeming to accept my being a mutant and a road trip with Rogue slide us back into just friends territory. Sam’s not the type to hide and my parents might just begin to accept my mutant superhero ways. And Rogue, she has stories about Jean-Paul. She hadn’t just kissed him with no powers, she’d kissed him with powers too. We talk about my issues, we talk about her issues and she’s a nice counterbalance to my not understanding some of where I’m screwing up, at least where Jean-Paul is concerned. It’s also a relief to just find a friend I can talk to without being judged.
We both just need the break.
I don’t know how things get screwed up so quickly. I thought after talking things out with Rogue that given another chance with Jean-Paul I wouldn’t screw things up. Some silly part of me thought that if my parents accepted me as a mutant they might accept me as bisexual too.
Then my mom suggests I date Kitty Pryde and I’m hit with the reality that they’ve only just begun to deal with my being a mutant.
My life turns into one adventure after another ‘till I’m hoping my mom realizes I have no time to date and that pressuring me for grandchildren isn’t going to speed up the process.
Opal and Hong Kong change everything. Opal and I had occasionally gotten together after we’d officially broken up, we’d talked about trying to get back together, talked about making things work, but there was no way Robert was mine. I can do math. I have the degree to prove it! Still, for her, for a family, for that normal life I thought I’d given up on, I would be willing to try.
I almost call Jean-Paul when the whole thing goes south, at least he might understand the pain I’m dealing with now better than Hank.
I don’t expect Black Tom, a secondary mutation or losing my whole body. I don’t expect how I have to rebuild my body or that I’m even capable of doing so. I don’t expect Alex Summers, Josette, Annie or Lorna. I should know by now getting involved with any woman who wants Alex is going to leave me standing there with a broken heart. I should know better.
And Jean-Paul’s there, every day. Annie even tries to set us up. How I let some women mind control me when Emma had taken over my body once I…yeah. We verbally spar a bit, but any comfort level between us is gone and I don’t help. I’m miserable and I take it out on the people around me, the ones I care for the most.
Then one night I walk into the rec room and he’s sitting on the couch, the lights turned down. I drop down beside him and glance over. He catches my eyes and we stare at each other silently for awhile.
He frowns, “Something wrong with you, more than that woman influencing your mind.”
He touches my chin and I want to just wrap my arms around him and hold on, but my chest is ice and I’m beginning to believe I’m going to be that cold always, inside and out.
So I tell him the one thing I can tell him. “Opal called me to Hong Kong, lied and said we had a kid together.”
“Just before you got here,” I answer as I glance at the TV knowing that if I look at him right now my face will give away that Opal and Robert aren’t the only reason I’m being a jerk.
He shuts off the TV. I turn back. For a moment I think he’s going to reach for me, instead he asks, “Boy or girl?”
“Boy, she said she named him after me, but I’m not sure I trust her after this.”
His hand moves towards me again and then settles back into his lap. I reach out, he takes my hand and squeezes it. Our fingers intertwine.
“I didn’t even…I barely…I didn’t know it hurt this badly.”
Jean-Paul wraps his arms around me, pulls me close, “It’s always going to hurt, but you’ll get stronger with each day.”
I finally break down and cry, all the hurt and fear of the last few months comes pouring out of me and I should be embarrassed, but I just feel safe. We talk and end up back in my room, where I show him what’s happening to my chest. I’m too drained not to confess everything. He borrows a t-shirt and boxers to sleep in and stays the night. I fall asleep thinking we’ll work out this time.
He dies the next day. We never even got to have sex again or go on the date we’d talked about.
No one ever stays dead. Logan killed Jean-Paul because he’d lost his mind and Logan is determined to save Jean-Paul from The Hand. Logan doesn’t want to hear that we won’t get Johnny back. Cynically I wonder if that’s guilt or something more talking.
Like most of my relationships with women Mystique is a bad idea from the get go. I realize this, but she reminds me of Cloud, able to change gender and she’s just that right shade of blue. She also thinks it’s fun to play house while pretending to be Opal. It’s not healthy for either of us, but I don’t protest.
Then she turns into a guy and unlike with Cloud I don’t freak out the first time it happens, or the second or the third…I had issues back then, okay?
This time I take in the way he’s grinning at me, initiate the kiss and when it ends ask, “Can your eyes be blue?”
His eyes dart over my face, “Who is it you want?”
“You, like this, just blue eyes.” I can’t do that to Jean-Paul. I should be disgusted with myself that I can about Opal.
He grins and turns into Alex. I shove him away. Hank, Scott, Warren, Remy, Logan all in progressive states of undress and each posing in a different way.
I protest loudly and cover my eyes. She’s suddenly prying my hands apart looking concerned.
“I never wanted to see that.” Not Logan, not ever.
Part of me is relieved she didn’t turn into Sam or Jean-Paul.
She kisses me and changes back to the man she was before, but with blue eyes. I pull him close.
Things work out great until she tries to kill me.
Story of my life.
I should hate Kyle Jinadu, but I’m adult enough to realize I dug my own damn hole and well he’s kinda hard not to like. Once he gets past the wide-eyed ‘Oh my god! There are mutants everywhere’ stage he’s pretty cool. He gets my jokes. He tells his own. I’m pretty sure Jubes and I could talk him into helping us prank if she wasn’t caught up in this whole new vampire thing.
And when he’s around Jean-Paul doesn’t go out and party with Dazzler and Pixie till all hours. Who’d have thought Jean-Paul and Dazzler would become instant friends? They just get each other in the way that Hank and I get each other. It’s almost intimidating watching it happen with two other people.
Then Kyle and I manage to get a TV with a working VCR all to ourselves. Then he finishes my sentence and I realize that he’s me. Well, me if I was more attractive and comfortable in my own skin. We stare at each other. He frowns and it’s obvious he’s thinking the same thing.
“Hey, did you and Jean-Paul ever…” It’s obvious what Kyle’s asking, even if he trails off.
I may gape a bit, but it’s only a moment, before I’m breathing again and manage, “Once, shortly after Joanne died, but I fucked it up and I…”
I’m not sure what to say.
“Are you even out?” Great, he realizes I have a thing for his boyfriend and the first thing Kyle is doing is looking at me as if he’s concerned for me.
I sink down on the couch beside him, “Hank, but Hank knows everything about me.”
He just sits there quietly, patiently.
“You’d think everyone’d have figured it out by now. I have dated two people who are genderfluid.” I grumble.
“Didn’t Mystique try to kill you?” Kyle asks.
I shrug, “It’s my lot in life. There was Cloud too. No one ever remembers Cloud.”
I really hope he asks me to explain Cloud, but I’m not that lucky. Instead he continues to look concerned.
“You have to stop looking at me like that, I babble.”
Kyle crosses his arms, slouches in his seat so I know he’s absolutely not going anywhere and glares at me. I turn back to the TV and huff as I worry he’ll turn it off. I glance over at him. He’s not going anywhere.
“My dad has a heart condition,” I shrug, “And my mom has always been very specific about the kind of woman I’d end up with.”
I stare at the TV again, wishing I could find it distracting, but this conversation is not headed anywhere good and…I grab the remote and shut the TV off with a scowl. He doesn’t say a word.
“No sage advice?” I tease.
“What would you have me say? I could tell you my grandma sounds like your mom, but I grew up in a pretty progressive household, my sister and I were allowed to discover ourselves.”
I look at him and wonder what that’s like, except maybe I did have that, moving away when your barely at teenager to live in a mansion and learn how to be a superhero isn’t exactly a normal way to end your childhood years. Scott, Warren, Jean and Hank all had expectations as did Xavier.
“I don’t know what I’d say to my friends,” I continue.
“Hank doesn’t care,” Kyle points out, “Didn’t he come out publicly a few years ago?”
“One of his girlfriends broke up with him because their relationship was publicly compared to bestiality,” I grumble. I’m still upset with Trish over how she broke up with him. Who does that over an answering machine? I frown, “It was a way to throw off the media.”
Kyle nods, “And not trying to point out to you…”
He shrugs, “You guys have a lot more issues then I originally thought and it can be a bit overwhelming to an outsider.”
“Yeah, I guess. Being a mutant is hard enough without adding anything else into the mix.”
He nods his understanding.
“But what can you do? Until the world becomes a more accepting place…” I trail off and shrug.
“Move to Canada?” he teases.
I take one look at his face and laugh before I point out, “Running away from my problems never seems to work. I tried burying my head in the sand too and that’s even worse.”
“Bobby,” he worries.
“I’m not seeing anyone and I don’t plan too,” I tell him, “When the time comes the time comes, but right now I’m just going with the flow and trying to keep my family safe.”
“What about you? What you want…”
Now would not be the time to tell him that what I actually want is his boyfriend and then to assure him I’m good at suppressing what I want and putting on a happy face because, well, he’s way cool, Kyle is, and I wouldn’t want to do that to him. Not that I could, but I wouldn’t even if I could.
“My last girlfriend tried to kill me,” I point out, “I think staying single is probably the best thing I can do for myself.”
I grab the remote and turn the TV back on. We sit in silence for a moment.
“If you need anyone to vent to,” he offers.
I’m helping get ready for a family get together, at my parents house, when the news that Kyle’s been killed comes across the TV. The latest threat to Canada’s been defeated by Alpha Flight. Northstar still isn’t officially a member, but his fiancé had been killed regardless.
I stop and stare at the TV. I don’t know what to do with the horror running through me and the TV reporter has that grave look on. My mom catches the glass cleaner as it falls out of my hand.
“You should go,” she tells me.
“Canada’s fine and miles away,” I manage.
“Mr. Beaubier isn’t fine,” she points out.
“No, no he isn’t.” I manage. There is no way Jean-Paul is fine right now and I want to cry. Why do we always have to lose the good ones? The people that actually care about us? Why does it feel that they always have to pay a price for loving us?
“Then you should go,” she tells me, “and then stay before anyone else steals him away.”
I turn. I stare.
She crosses her arms.
“You think I’m blind. I’ve seen the way you look at him,” she pauses to touch my cheek, “The way your voice changes when you talk about him. You’ve been in love with him for a very long time and I don’t know what happened, but any man would be a fool not to love my son. Yes, he’s grieving right now, but he needs help and I know you can be a great comfort when anyone you love is in pain.”
“You let me handle your father, just go.”
I look around the half clean house.
She gives me that stern look and grips my chin in her hand, forcing me to meet her eyes, “Maybe when he’s done grieving you two will work out, maybe you won’t, but it will eat at you if you don’t go help him now. Go take care of your friend. Don’t make me tell you again.”
I know better. I don’t second guess until I’m standing outside Jean-Paul’s door and knocking.
“Go away Mac,” Jean-Paul yells as he opens the door, “I don’t want your plati…”
The anger on his face bleeds into grief and he wraps his arms around me. I drop my bag and pull him close.
“I want him back,” he whispers against my neck, “It’s not fair.”
“I know,” I manage as I hold him tighter, hold him as he cries.
I get a clearer picture as to why he thought I was Mac when an hour later both Hudsons show up. Heather is trying to be sympathetic, but Jean-Paul just watches her dully. Mac tries a more pragmatic approach, pointing out press conferences and the good of the team. I kick them both out.
The phone starts ringing and Jean-Paul stares at it with trepidation. I pick up.
“Drake?” Logan questions, “Didn’t you have a family thing?”
“I left,” I explain.
“You tell your parents why?”
“Yes,” I answer evenly even though I want to brittle at the accusation in his tone, “My mom bought my ticket while I packed.”
“Put Johnny on.”
I hand the phone over and he glares at it.
Frowning he takes the phone as he curls into me. After a moment of back and forth with Logan he puts the phone to his shoulder, “Stay with me?”
“As long as you want me to,” I promise.
He nods and gets back on the phone with Logan, “That sounds like a good idea. I shouldn’t have to explain myself. I can’t go through it again.”
I tighten my hold on him. He sounds like he could break so easily.
Puck shows up that night with alcohol, but Jean-Paul doesn’t want any. He stays a bit, then pats both of us on the shoulder gravely and then sees himself out. Jeanne-Marie shows up with Walter the next morning. She bustles around with breakfast, trying to be overly cheerful and Jean-Paul silently gets through it. He grabs my hand when I start to protest.
Logan shows up in the middle of me kicking Mac out again. Mac thinks Logan will talk some sense into Jean-Paul.
“Go home to your wife, spend time with your kid,” Logan grumbles, “We’ll do the visit thing when I’m done here.”
Logan gives the both of us image inducers and bustles us out the back to his jeep. Jean-Paul curls up in the back seat while Logan and I carry out the suitcases. Logan insists I sit with Jean-Paul and not in the front. We drive for hours and say little.
We stop in a small town that has few houses and a tiny grocery store attached to a gas station. There’s one restaurant across the street and one church sitting on a nearby hill. Logan leaves us in the car, fills up on gas and comes back out with two brown bags filled with food. He sets them on the front seat.
I’m not sure what I was expecting after we drove for another forty five minutes, before turning down a long dirt driveway, but a small cabin out in the middle of nowhere seems somehow very Logan. Him dropping us off and telling us to call him if we need anything is almost a welcome relief. We carry our things in and Jean-Paul immediately climbs into the bed. I put the groceries away before taking in the cabin. There are only two rooms and one of them is a bathroom. The tiny kitchen/dining area takes up half of the room. The refrigerator sits in a corner while the long counter next to it has a sink in the middle. Above the sink is a window and on either side of the window are cabinets. A table and four chairs take up the other side of the room. A rug and couch in front of the fireplace must be a living room, but there is no TV and it’s quiet. In the corner, across from the living room is a bed and dresser.
After I take all this in and wish I’d brought more books with me then I had, I take the few steps over to the bed and check on Jean-Paul. He pulls me into bed and wraps himself around me, “Stay until I fall asleep?”
“Far more interesting than reading a book,” I tease as I begin to run my hand through his hair.
He nods and buries his head against my chest, “You think if I’d joined Alpha Flight that…”
“No,” I cut him off, “This isn’t your fault.”
I tilt his chin upward and wipe the tears off his face, “You were trying to save people. That…that…the guy who killed Kyle was only interested in hurting and…Jean-Paul this isn’t your fault.”
“I…” he closes his eyes and takes a slow breath, “Promise not to tell anyone I’m a wreck?”
“Can’t,” I try, “You’d get back at me with some scathing comment about a time you’d helped me and I should be grateful.”
“I would,” he agreed, with almost a hint of a smile, “How long are you staying?”
“I’m not leaving.”
“Don’t you have a fam…”
I wrap my arms around him more firmly and tell him, “I’m not leaving until you get so fed up with me you kick me out of your life all together and well, maybe not even then ‘cause you know, I could probably still convince you to keep me around. I’m persuasive and we banter good. It’s a thing.”
This gets me another hint of a smile, then worry mixing with suspicion slides firmly onto his face. Cautiously he asks, “What do you want from me?”
His eyes bore into me and I’m frozen, no pun intend, but just like I was the first time I noticed his eyes. What do I want from him? I love him. I have for a long time, but I was afraid of that. I’m not anymore, but I’m still figuring out who I am. He’s grieving the loss of the man he’d decided to spend the rest of his life with. I’m not ready to get into a relationship, neither is he. Maybe one day in the future, but…
He buries his head against my shoulder and groans, “Complicated?”
“No,” I finally manage as I run a hand into his hair, “That’s your lot in life. I don’t like complications. I want…I want to be here with you. I want to help you. I want you to let me help you.”
“You love me,” he accuses as he lifts up to look at me.
“You love Kyle.”
He closes his eyes in pain.
“You will get through this,” I continue, “I’m here to help and yes I love you, but…”
Jean-Paul presses his fingers to my lips, “You make this complicated enough by being the best kiss I’ve ever had and now you can actually say those words. Don’t make them mean less by explaining how now isn’t the right time. We both know that. Be my friend for now, alright?”
I nod. His blue eyes meet mine and even though there’s grief there I also glimpse hope.