The following is a complete work of fiction.


This is the 2nd story of my "X Universe" series. The story began in "Resolutions." Please read the first book before starting this one; things will make more sense that way.


The following story may contain erotic situations between consenting adults. If it is illegal for you to read this please leave now.

Any resemblance between the characters and any real life person is completely coincidental. Please do not copy or distribute the story without the author's permission.

The characters of this story are the exclusive property of their original authors, publishers and production companies. No assumption of copyright has been made in this work.

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X Universe - Book 2

Ties that Bind - Chapter 6

I hadn't slept well for the entire week after the wedding. Every time I closed my eyes, I felt Chris and John in my mind. I wasn't feeling their bodies; I wasn't remembering the drug enhanced sensations they had induced in me; I was remembering their minds. I was remembering their screams. The screams weren't just physical; their minds had cried out in ways the voice couldn't imitate. If you can imagine someone's reflection in a mirror, frozen in utter, life ending terror, and then find the mirror shattered and dripping with blood, that is what their minds had been like when it was over. Ben had to wake me up at least once a night, because I'd been thrashing and crying against the memories.

By Friday, when Logan returned from an impromptu trip north with Scott, I was pretty strung out. He didn't care. I'd gotten in his face, and he'd promised to make my life hell when we got back to training. He had no idea what my hell was like; I think the abuse was more like a relief. He kicked my ass twelve ways to Sunday and the aches and pains I was feeling didn't even come close to how much I hated myself. I wished he'd used his claws.

He was disgusted with me when the session ended. Ty looked like he was going to cry. Ty'd asked Logan to give me a break a couple times, but that only pissed him off more. He snarled as he wiped some spit from his chin. "You're pathetic, kid. You could have stopped half the abuse, but you just cowered like a puss and put up token resistance. No wonder you have victim stamped all over your ass."

I mumbled something akin to "sorry", and pressed the towel against my split lip. I knew I could have stopped him at any time, but I didn't. No, I couldn't have stopped him physically; I could have squashed him with a thought if I'd let loose. I wasn't going to do that; never again. I'd have rather slit my wrists. Hell, I'd thought about it more than once already.

"Monday, six am. Find some balls over the weekend, kid, or I'm going to kick your ass worse." Logan looked like he was ready to spit nails. He looked at Ty before he left. "If he can't find his, feed him yours. At least then he won't be a no-nuts pushover."

Ty looked shocked, but I knew Logan was right. I wasn't worth the effort; we all knew it. I didn't even notice when Ty walked over to me. I was too wrapped up in my own world of self hate and guilt. His hand on my bare shoulder sent a tingling down my spine. For a split-second I could almost feel the sincere concern and care in his touch. I yanked back and lashed out at him; I didn't deserve his friendship. He should have just left me alone. "Don't Touch Me!"

Ty wavered, almost like he was going to be sick, and stumbled back. It took me a moment to realize what I'd done. I hadn't just lashed out vocally; I'd lashed out telepathically. Anyone else would have been more than sick; they'd have been hurt, and hurt bad. What ever it was about Ty that made him impossible for me to read, it saved him from my hurting him as well. I had the sudden impulse to pull him to me and cry; he was the last person in the world, next to Ben, that I wanted to hurt. Instead, I ran.

Yeah, that was me. When the going got tough, I got going... in the opposite direction. I was in the room, had a bag on the bed and was tossing clothes at it before I realized what was going on. I was doing it again; I was such a loser. I hadn't even noticed that Ben was in the bathroom, showering, when I'd come in. I sank to the floor, wrapped my arms around my knees and began to rock. I wanted someone to take me away; I wanted to forget all the things that had happened since May. I wanted the illusion back. For the first time in my life, I realized I could never have it back again. All I could do was cry.

It was finally Friday. It had been a long week since returning from Florida. What made it longer was the return of Brandon's sleeping problems; nightmares again. I didn't get a single night's sleep without at least one interruption. Not that I was all that surprised. He'd nearly been raped for a second time; that must have been a real fuck to his self-worth. The problem was: he wasn't talking to me. Ok, he wasn't giving me the silent treatment, but he wasn't talking about what happened. Other than his sob filled recounting and apology fest last Saturday morning, he hadn't said anything else about it. I could understand it, but I don't think he was dealing with it.

Another thing I noticed was that Brandon was avoiding Tyler. It seemed weird, since before our return they'd been almost inseparable. I wasn't sure if I should have been relieved or worried about Bran's retreat from his friendship with Ty. I knew Tyler was confused and concerned. I watched how they "didn't" interact over the week. I probably wouldn't have bothered had Kate been around, but she had stayed down in Miami. It gave me nothing better to do but workout and start noticing things I hadn't paid attention to about stuff at Xavier's.

I think what struck me the most was how often Brandon would look at Tyler when they were in the same room. It wasn't the "eye lock" love thing; it was a worried, hurting, scared look that would only last as long as he didn't think anyone was looking. Tyler would look at him pretty frequently too; his look was more sincere concern and desire to do something but not knowing what. The damn dance was driving me nuts. I wanted to talk to Kate or Dan about it, but they weren't here.

Kate got back late Thursday night; I'd waited up; we only spent a few moments together last night. She let me carry her suitcase; which made me feel good, even though we both knew she could carry it all without any real effort at all. I was glad she was back. I needed to talk with her; she could sense it and told me to do breakfast; a late breakfast.

I woke with Brandon and went off to work out while he went to his training. Logan was back, so it was time for them to get back to combat-training. I was glad Brandon was taking self defense classes. He needed something to build up his confidence and help him protect himself. I couldn't imagine what it was like to be in his shoes; how could I? Brandon had spent nearly half our lives trying to keep us in a fantasy life; no real problems, no real fears, nothing but life like on "Leave it to Beaver". I had no idea how scared he really was. I don't know how I would have handled seeing all the dark, twisted thoughts in every person he met.

Brandon had told me, after one of his mini-nightmares soon after we got to Xavier's, that sometimes he could see people's dark desires. Those momentary little fantasies we all have when we get pissed, or irritated. The ones we'd never in a million years do, but we think them. How do you respond when you know someone has thought about you dead? How do you continue to love people who've had moments of anger and resentment that you had to witness in full color? I think I'd have been scared too. Hell, I wouldn't have been scared; I'd have been a basket case. The fact that he'd been able to hold it together for so long without help or training was amazing. I think finally seeing just how hard he struggled to keep his faith in the world only made me respect him more.

When I came in and saw his clothes tossed all over the bed, I was stunned. That ended pretty quickly when I saw him rocking on his ass near the foot of the bed. How do you deal with your brother when he's crying into his knees and rocking back and forth like a three-year old who'd been hit? I dropped down in front of him and pulled him into my arms. He flinched, only for a moment, and then just melted. He had always melted whenever I'd hugged him or held him as we grew up. For a while I'd thought it was just a twin thing; since he could calm me down just with a touch as well, but it was more than that. Then I thought it might have been because he was gay, but that really didn't make sense since he honestly had no "incestuous" desires. It had taken a while, and an awareness of what Bran's powers felt like, but it finally sank in that when I held him, he could stop trying to block out the world. Something about "us" let him relax; it was like I was a set of mental earplugs for him.

He cried into my shoulder. I couldn't make out what he was saying, but it sounded something like "make the pain go away." When it felt like he'd calmed down, I pulled back and saw his face. He was fucking busted up. I'm not talking little bruises; he looked like he'd been bitch slapped by a steel bar. I sat back and yanked up his shirt; he whimpered a little but didn't stop me. He had bruises and welts all over the place. I'd seen him, Ty, and Rogue come out of trainings with a few bruises, but I'd never seen it that bad.

I barely had the sense of mind to yank on the sweats I'd laid out before I was out the door. Seeing red didn't describe the condition I was in. Something about seeing Brandon hurting always set me off. It had since we were kids; I'd gotten in more fights over someone upsetting him. I was about to get in another; I knew full well it would probably get me tossed out of school or dead, but I wasn't all that rational when it came to Brandon. It's a twin thing.

It was only a little past seven when I blew open the cafeteria doors. Logan and Scott were sitting at the far wall, talking about something that my arrival interrupted. I didn't even think about it. I just lifted my hand and swatted at Logan like a bug. His surprised yell and the crunching noise he made as he hit the brick wall only made me smile.

"What the hell are you doing?" Scott was on his feet and was reaching for his glasses when I flicked with my left hand. The red-specs flew off his face and to my palm in a momentary flash of red before Scott could cover his eyes.

"Not your fight." I dropped his glasses on the table near me as Logan got up and launched himself at me. I didn't give a shit how indestructible he was; he's paw prints were all over my brother, and I was going to make him hurt for them.

A few students, who were up and in the cafeteria that early, scrambled for the door as I swung my right hand at Logan. I'd never launched a full power lightning bolt at anyone before. The most I'd ever done was let electricity flow from my right to left hands. The thunderclap was deafening as the power erupted from my palm and slammed into Logan's chest. He flew back as if a Mack truck had just plowed into him. Even though he'd flown over a few tables, crashed through one to the floor, and was lying on his back with smoke rising from his chest, I was still planning to do more. I didn't get to. One moment I was lifting my hand to finish the job, and the next Logan was standing, burnt shirt and all, leaning against the wall with an angry frown on his face. Scott was inscrutable behind his glasses, and Professor Xavier was looking up at me from his wheel chair. I'd burst into the room at about five after seven; the wall clock said seven-fifteen. I'd lost about ten minutes.

The Professor did not look pleased. "Will you please explain, Mister Hanson, exactly what you think you were doing?"

My eyes didn't leave Logan's. The way his jaw was twitching, I could tell he was ready to finish what I'd started. Pissed wasn't the word; I think the only thing holding him back was that Xavier was between us. The feeling was mutual. I knew I couldn't get a shot off with the Professor there; he'd stop me before I had a chance. "Teaching the bastard who beat my brother a lesson."

I'd hoped Wolverine would have jumped me then. I could have blasted him without making an excuse. He'd tensed, but I saw Scott's hand suddenly grip his arm. The guy was boiling, but he maintained his control. I had to admit, I couldn't. I was never one to be restrained when I got mad.

Xavier raised an eyebrow and looked at Logan for a moment. Logan's frown just deepened. "The kid needs to start fighting his own battles; you aren't up to it."

My hand came up involuntarily and his claws extended, but that's all that happened. Xavier simply frowned. "Logan, please refrain from the unnecessary opinions."

He snarled, his eyes never leaving mine. "The boy could have stopped the session at any time; he didn't. He wanted to be hurt."

"That's bullshit!" I spit it at him. Brandon wasn't like that; he couldn't have been.

"You don't have to believe it, bub, but it's true." He sniffed. "I know when someone's scared; he wasn't scared. Unlike you..." Xavier gave Logan a warning look, and he continued. "If he'd been scared, or asked to quit, I'd have stopped long before when I did." I made a disgusted sound.

"You're wrong." I jerked around at the sound of Brandon's voice. He had his bag packed and he looked exhausted. His eyes seemed to avoid mine, and he stopped a few feet away.

"I'm scared all the time; I'm just not scared of you. I'm scared of me." He looked at the professor, dead in the eyes, and I couldn't believe what he asked. "I want you to take it away. I don't want to be a telepath any more."

Xavier frowned. "I can't do that, Brandon."

"Yes you can. I've seen it in a few of the nightmares people have had. You've blocked other people's powers before; some kind of mental blocks or restraints." He took a slow, deep breath and held the Professor's gaze. "I want mine gone; I don't want to be able to hurt people any more."

They just stared at each other, eyes locked, while the rest of us just stood there. I didn't know what to say. It sounded like Brandon was asking someone to cut out a part of his head or something. After a couple minutes, tears started pooling at the edges of Bran's eyes. Only a couple slipped down his cheeks, but his face had gone hard. He didn't say anything; he turned and left.

I'd almost made it to the stairs when I felt the Professor's thoughts. Brandon, come to the cafeteria, please. Though polite, I could feel that if I didn't answer the call, it would become a compulsion. It took me a moment to realize Ben was in there.

Logan was leaning against the wall. His shirt looked like someone had burned a hole through it, but his chest looked fine. "You don't have to believe it, Ben, but it's true. I know when someone's scared, bud; he wasn't scared. If he'd been scared, I'd have stopped long before when I did."

He really didn't have a clue. "You're wrong." Ben looked stunned, but I ignored him. He was protecting me again; just like when we were kids. He couldn't spend his life protecting me. "I'm scared all the time; I'm just not scared of you. I'm scared of me."

I knew what would fix everything, and I looked at the man who could do it. "I want you to take it away. I don't want to be a telepath any more."

Xavier frowned. "I can't do that, Brandon."

"Yes you can. I've seen it in a few of the nightmares people have had. You've blocked other people's powers before; some kind of mental blocks or restraints." I took a slow, deep breath; I could live without them. "I want mine gone; I don't want to be able to hurt people any more."

Xavier's thoughts washed over mine. I held my ground; I knew I couldn't stop him, but I refused to cave. He started probing, pushing at my walls, while he talked to me. Do you really think your powers are your problem, Brandon?

For a second, I thought of other issues, but I held. If I'm not a telepath, I can't hurt anyone else.

If you learn control, you won't harm anyone either. He pushed again.

I slid a little, but I wasn't caving. I don't care about training. It isn't fair; why should I have to spend my life seeing all the ugly shit in people's heads? Why do I have to be the one 'in control'. I want it over; I want it gone; I want to be able to live like everyone else.

You aren't like everyone, Brandon. He pushed again.

I kept losing ground. I could feel my eyes tearing up. You can make me like everyone else.

He held his pressure against me, and then found a crack. Do you want me to make you straight and not be interested in younger men as well?

I don't know if I flinched outwardly, but inside I recoiled. The images of Tyler that he pulled up scared the piss out of me. A part of me wanted to say yes, but another part of me wanted to die at the thought of not liking Tyler anymore. Xavier just peeled open the denial and fears like a wet paper bag.

You're asking me to help you commit suicide, Brandon. You're asking me to decide who you should be. I'm not God; I don't have the right, even if I were inclined to do it.

I hated who I was; I didn't care if he was 'inclined'. I could just start hurting people. I could keep doing it till you had to stop me.

No, Brandon, you couldn't. It isn't who you are. Like with my fears, he peeled back the curtains I kept across my self-awareness. I never wanted to know "Brandon". That was a person I couldn't face. Xavier was right. Any hurt I caused would only hurt me more; I was such a bleeding hearted wimp. I wasn't strong like Ben; I couldn't just "do it". I always worried about how it would affect other people; all the time, every day. No matter what I did, someone always got hurt.

At that moment, I hated him; I hated the professor for forcing me to look in the mirror. Just like every other illusion I'd tried to hide behind, my self image was stripped away. He knew I'd fold. The only thing that registered in his eyes when the hate welled in me was a flicker of sadness. I didn't have any options; I never had. I'd fooled myself when I was a kid; I'd thought I could make everything right by "dreaming it" that way. I was just as scared, but I wasn't a kid any more. Dreaming life away didn't work.

I couldn't make him give me what I wanted; but I didn't have to do what they wanted from me either. I turned, and left. I think in a way, I just shut down. Xavier had put up a few blocks. I could feel them; they kept me from doing what I really wanted to do. I couldn't leave, I couldn't starve myself, and I couldn't do any physical harm to myself. The only reason I knew was that I wanted to do all three; but whenever I tried I found I couldn't. There was no compulsion to "do" anything, only barriers "not to do" certain things.

I avoided everyone for the rest of the day. I wasn't sure how I was going to face Ben. He'd gone off on Logan over me. He'd been so hurt when he realized not only that I'd let it happen, but I'd wanted the beating. It wasn't a sexual thing; I really wanted Logan to hurt me. How do you ask your brother to forgive you for wanted to die? I was sitting against the oak tree when Tyler found me. He probably knew where I was at any moment he wanted to, so I suppose "found me" wasn't the right term. He finally confronted me after dinner, while I sat there trying to figure out how to make it all go away. He just sat down, close but not touching, and waited.

We must have sat there, in silence, for nearly a half hour before he finally spoke. "Do you really hate me, or were you just mad?"

"I don't hate you, Ty." I didn't look at him; I didn't want to see if there was hurt in his eyes. That'd have killed me.

"It felt like you hated me."

I still wouldn't look at him. "I don't hate you, Ty. I hate me; there's a big difference."

"Why?" How little did I realize that 'why' would become Ty's most common question. I supposed I was a mystery to him. It took me years to realize that I'd never been a mystery to him; I was a mystery to myself, and he was just trying to get me to solve it.

"I'm a loser, Ty. I'm a coward. I'm a liar and a freak. I don't see anything here to like."

He seemed to chew on that for a while. The sun was pretty low when he spoke again. "I don't think you are."

"You don't think I'm what?"

"All those things." I felt him shrug. I knew he was looking at me, but I refused to look back. "I think you're scared because you aren't what you think you should be." After a moment, he mumbled, "I know how that feels."

At that point, I had to look at him. His eyes were glistening, but he hadn't shed any tears. "I'm not what I want to be, Bran. I'm small, I don't think the way other people do, and I can't pretend I'm like anyone else."

"So how do you deal with not liking who you are?"

He shrugged, and gave me a lopsided smile. "I remember that I have friends who think I'm worth something. One of them even thought I was worth dying for. If someone's willing to die for me, I've got to be worth something."

God he was so cute. Not in the "awww, cuddly, cutesy" way, but in a "melt your heart" sort of way. I couldn't stop myself when I mumbled, "I think you're worth it."

His smile got larger, and next thing I knew, the little shit had snuggled in, was under my arm, and was leaning against my side. "I think you're worth it too."

A part of me wished I could be who Ty thought I was. I wondered what it would be like to be that kind of person. I wondered what it would be like to be worth something. I didn't realize I was holding him tighter to me till I felt his head settle in against my chest.

He let out a little sigh, and asked, "We're still friends, right?"

I rested my chin on his head and watched the last rays of sunlight fade over the horizon through tear-filled eyes. "Yeah, we're still friends."

I didn't mind eating crow over my actions. I'd always been one to go off half-cocked, but I didn't like how I felt after Brandon walked out. Something was really, really wrong. I could feel it. I'd realized it this week, but I wasn't sure what to do about it. I knew I hadn't been paying much attention for the last few weeks, and I wondered if I'd missed something else. I felt like August was my month to be blind-sided.

The professor looked at me, calmly, before he began wheeling out. "Come with me, Mr. Hanson."

I was surprised that his words weren't harsh. They didn't even sound judgmental. I looked at Logan for a moment. He still looked pissed and wanting to rip me open. Unlike Bran, I didn't like to have unfinished business looming over me. "Can I take my ass-beating later?"

Logan growled. He stalked right up to me and glared at me. "You haven't got the guts."

My back went rigid. He may have been able to gut me, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of backing down. "Name the time and place."

His smile made my bladder clench. Fuck he was intimidating. "After you finish up with Q-ball, get on some shoes and a shirt and meet me down in the danger room. We'll settle scores."

Maybe Logan didn't scare Brandon, but he scared the piss out of me. That look was a mixture of complete self assurance and the predatory look of a hunter who knew he had his prey. Oh well, I did blast him across the room with a lightning bolt... I can do it again.

I caught up with the Professor in the hall. Kate was coming down the stairs, rubbing her eyes and looking like she had just been yanked out of bed. She yawned at me, and followed us to the Professor's office.

"Shut the door, Katherine." After he'd rolled near the window and turned the chair around, he nodded at the chairs. "Have a seat, both of you."

We sat down, and Kate tilted her head. She didn't say anything, but it was obvious she was in the dark about why we were there.

"Has Brandon told either you how he managed to stop his rapists?"

I looked at Kate, and then back at the Professor. I shook my head; so did Kate.

The Professor sighed. "He killed them."

I blinked. Killed? They had been alive when we'd gotten there. It took me a moment to shake the shocked look off my face. "They were alive; we saw them!"

He shook his head. "They were physically alive, yes. Brandon destroyed everything that made them individuals." The Professor looked out the window. "He had no way of knowing, or even stopping, what would happen when he struck back. He was drugged. Unfortunately, he isn't dealing with it."

He was supposed to be dealing with it? That was a bazaar thought. How do you deal with the fact you killed two guys who tried to rape you while you're drugged up?

"Brandon is not a person who is ready to be 'someone who kills'. It isn't his nature. I am concerned that the trauma is pushing him to the breaking point." He looked sad. "I can not help him until he asks, no matter how much I may want to."

Kate took my hand. Just the feel of it there helped keep me from buzzing out of control. "What do you want us to do?"

The Professor looked back at us. "Keep an eye on him; be there when he needs you. I have put a few temporary restraints on him to keep him from doing anything to hurt himself." Those words sent a chill through me. Why hadn't I seen it coming? What kind of brother was I that I couldn't see how much pain he was in? "When he's ready, Elizabeth, Emma or I will be here to help him recover."

It really didn't hit me till we got back to the room. I was sitting on the bed, trying to tie my sneakers, when I realized my hands were shaking too severely to make the knots. Kate knelt down and stopped me by gripping my hands. "It will be okay, Ben. I promise."

I was so glad she was there. My eyes were stinging from the tears I was trying to hold back. "How could I have missed all this shit, Kate?"

She smiled. "You still have a kind of -hero complex- about Brandon. Like it or not, in your world he is still your foundation and 'larger than life'. You don't see Brandon as he is, you still see him as the perfect brother who always had the answers."

It was true. As many flaws as kept coming up to crack my image of him, I just couldn't bring myself to think of him as being as lost and afraid as I was. I know I sounded pathetic, but I was really feeling helpless. "You're sticking around for a while, right?"

Good thing about Kate was that she never let you see her sweat. She just reached up and pulled me down into a brain-melting kiss. By the time she let go, I'd slid off the bed and was on my knees with her. God she was good. "Even if we weren't dating, Ben, I'd still be here."

How could you not love someone like Kate? "What do you think we should do about Bran?"

Kate sat back, and looked at my still unlaced shoes. She traced a finger down my chest to circle my belly button. Not only did she cause my laces to knot, but I was feeling a bit knotted up below the belt too. "For today, we give him some space. The Professor said he put in the blocks, so we know he won't hurt himself. Tomorrow, we'll just keep an eye and make sure he knows we're here."

I knew I was probably giving away secrets, but I had other concerns. "What about Ty?"

Kate blinked. "What about him?

She was very protective of the little guy, like a big sister, so I knew I had to be careful. I hedged. "I think he has a crush on Bran."

Kate laughed. "How long did it take you to figure that out?"

It was obvious that, once again, I was the last to know. "When we were searching for Brandon last Friday." I shrugged. "The way he looked when he was worried about Bran was a hell of a lot more than 'friends'."

Kate sighed. "Yeah, well, I hope Brandon gives him a chance."

"You what?" Yeah, I was shocked.

"I hope he gives Ty a chance." She gave me a curious look. "I think Ty'd be good for him."

"Kate, he's fourteen!"

She rolled her eyes. "And what were YOU doing at fourteen?"

I was about to say, "dreaming about girls," but I stopped. When I was fourteen, I was doing more than dreaming and with older girls too. "I wasn't screwing around with someone who was eighteen."

"Neither is Ty." Kate frowned. "It isn't all about sex, Ben."

I cringed. "I didn't mean it like that..."

Looking at me doubtfully, she stood up; flowed was more like it; the only person who was even close to as graceful as her was Dan. I grabbed her hand.

"I didn't." I knew she could make me let go, but I also knew that Kate had a hard time not 'reading' a person she was touching if she was being emotional. I felt the tingle. I'm just worried about Brandon.

She relaxed, and squeezed my hand. "I know, Ben. Honestly, I'm more worried about him with that than I am about Tyler." She sighed. "Dan's all worried about Tyler being hurt; I'm not. I've read both of them several times. Tyler can handle it; he's a hell of a lot more mature than anyone gives him credit for."

I realized she'd left out what she thought of Brandon. "And Bran?"

Kate looked sad. "Honestly, Ben, I don't know. He's such an emotional mess at the moment that I wouldn't want to make a decision one way or the other. I hope he can. The way he looks at Ty, when he doesn't think anyone notices, is so needy and longing that it's almost painful."

I'd noticed that too. Before last Friday I had just thought the kid annoyed him. No, he bothered Bran a lot more than annoyance; Bran was scared of the kid and wanted him at the same time. "This is so fucked up."

Kate laughed and gave me a quick kiss. "Welcome to Xavier's School of Gay Relationship Dramas."

I frowned as I stood up. "That's sick, Kate."

She just smiled. "You think those two have a complicated set of issues to get past? Wait till you get to know Scott and Logan better; how those two have made it last this long is one of the Mysteries of the Universe!"

I still couldn't believe Scott and Logan were gay; ok, from all I'd heard, 'bi'. Nearly every gay guy I'd met since I got to Xavier's had blown my mental images of what a "gay man" was. Hell, I hadn't even known any gay guys before Xavier's.

Kate must have picked up on my thoughts, and she grinned. "You've got a meeting with one of the mysteries to get to." With a kiss on the cheek, she handed me my shirt and pushed me out the door. "I promise to help sooth the aches and pains when you get back."

Frowning, I gave her an unhappy glare. "You don't have any faith in me."

She smiled. "I have total faith in you. That's why I didn't say, 'I'll visit you in the infirmary later'."

That really did nothing to boost my confidence. She walked me to the elevator, and gave me a good luck kiss. As the doors closed, I wondered how thoroughly Logan was going to pound my ass into the floor.