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Resolutions - Chapter 9
I flew down to Miami with Jeff for Thanksgiving break. There was no way I was spending a week away from him. We had a late night flight out on Friday. Though he tried to be tough, I could tell Jeff was exhausted and worried. He knew he had to tell his parents what had happened. How the hell do you tell your parents you were raped? Once we were in the air, I took matters into my own hands. Thinking back, I know it was a dirty trick, but Jeff needed some rest.
Jeff sat staring ahead as he held my hand. He'd be an emotional wreck by the time we got to Miami. I squeezed his hand, and he gave me a small smile. "It's cool, Dan."
"Yeah," I answered, knowing he was full of shit. "Come here." I lean over and kissed him. I know that caught him off guard. His eyes were so full of emotion when I pulled back; I almost had to kiss him again.
"Wow." It hadn't been the most passionate kiss. Hell, it was chaste, but he knew how hard it was for me to be that demonstrative in public. How vulnerable it made me feel. So I think he got the message. "Thanks, Dan."
I brought his head down so we here forehead to forehead and we just sat like that for a while. I hummed the lullaby Gram used to sing to me when I had nightmares. It took me years to realize it was a spell. This was magick I could do without thinking. I grew up with it, and I hoped it would help. I could feel his tension easing. With a soft whisper of magick, and yeah it was magick, Jeff's head slipped down to my shoulder as he drifted into a dreamless sleep.
Yeah, that was really underhanded of me. He'd have been hurt if he'd known I'd cast a spell on him; but as I sat there, holding him as he slept, I knew I'd do anything to keep him from hurting again. I spent the flight in my own thoughts; my only link to where we were was the beautiful guy resting against my shoulder.
As we began our final approach I brushed his cheek and released the spell. After a minute of gentle petting he came around and yawned. "Oh Jeez, I'm sorry, Dan."
I smirked. "I enjoyed it, and you needed the rest."
Blinking away the last of sleep he nodded. "Yeah, I guess I did." He looked a bit queasy as he heard the landing gear drop into place. "This is it, huh?"
I squeezed his hand and smiled. "Wait till we get home, Jeff. I don't think the airport is a good place for it."
He barked a short laugh. "Yeah." Looking at me, he squeezed my hand hard enough that it was actually uncomfortable. "My home is where you are; you know that, right?"
I eyes misted a bit, and I nodded. Anyone who says seventeen year olds aren't romantic has his head up his ass.
Jeff told them. It was hell. I don't even remember what was said. The scene went from tense worry, to shock, to grief, then to outrage so fast my mind reeled. I never imagined I would see Jack so filled with hate and anger; honestly, it scared the piss out of me. Nora looked like she'd just had something removed from her gut; removed with a really dull spoon. The worst of all was Jeff. He was leaning forward, his face in his hands, crying. He kept whimpering for them not to hate him. I thought I was going to die.
Nora got to him first. She had him in her arms and cradled him like a broke piece of china. She kissed him and rocked him and kept murmuring that it was ok. Jack just stood there; he looked so lost. Jack had always been the guy who had the answers. There aren't any answers for something like that.
Jack turned and walked into the kitchen. I followed. He stood there in the breakfast nook looking out the window into the night. I waited. He started to talk without looking at me. "Thank you, Dan."
I blinked. "I didn't do anything."
He looked back at me. "I know we didn't hear the whole story, but I can see it in your face. You saw it, and I know in my gut you stopped it."
I didn't want to look at the memories. I brushed them aside as I wiped away the tears. "Not like I should have." Just the thought of what had happened made my gut twist. In truth, we had no idea how bad it had been. I might have gotten there shortly after they started; it might also have been going on for a half hour or longer. Jeff's memory wasn't there. The emotions and sense of violation were there and from what we'd learned, it had gone on for long enough that emotionally he was breaking by the time I intervened. I knew we would never know for sure, and that was the worst part. I looked at Jack. "It was all my fault."
He blinked at me. "You can't protect everyone, Dan."
I shook my head. "They were just trying to get at me. They couldn't hurt me." I looked at Jack with the weight of it crushing me. "So they went after Jeff. If he hadn't been my boyfriend, they wouldn't have touched him." I couldn't help it, I was sobbing. It was all my fault that Jeff's family was suffering.
Jack grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. "You aren't responsible!" He looked me in the eyes compelling me to look back. "You got there. You stopped them, right?"
"It wasn't your fault. Don't do this to yourself. Don't take the responsibility!"
I swallowed. "I won't if you won't."
He let go and stared at me. "What?"
"I was there, and I couldn't prevent it." I held his eyes like he'd held mine. "Sending him to school didn't cause it. He's been hurt, but you didn't do it."
Jack was shaking. "I'm his father. I should be able to protect him. I should have been there for him."
"He didn't need you then; he needs you now." I looked at him with as much conviction as I could muster. "He needs to know you don't think any less of him and you still love him."
Jack bowed his head and sank into one of the kitchen chairs. He was crying full force. I had nothing I could do. I wasn't a good people person. I wasn't Jeff. Jeff always knew how to make people feel better. I was just powerful, too powerful, but it didn't make me a better person.
"Dad?" Jeff was standing in the doorway. His voice was choked with tears and pain. Jack was standing and had Jeff in his arms before he could say another word. They clung to each other and cried.
It was all too raw for me. I got out to the lawn before I puked. I knew I should have left. I should have taken my bags and flown. The thought of living without Jeff had me doubled over on the lawn. I never knew you could love someone like that. I never knew that the very thought of losing them could have you curled around yourself in pain.
I felt Nora's hand brush my hair. I looked up at her, and she gave me a teary smile. All I could see in her eyes was pain and love. She pulled me into her arms, and I cried. She kept rocking me and murmuring that everything would be all right.
I just sobbed. "I wish it had been me... why couldn't it have been me?"
She didn't try to tell me I was wrong. She didn't tell me not to feel what I was feeling. She just held me through it. I don't remember when I went to bed, but I know I slept with Jeff in my arms. I slept knowing I would never let him go.
We survived the holiday. There were a lot of tears, but there was a hell of a lot of love. Every moment down there I fell deeper in love; not only with Jeff, but with our family. The doubts I had of their acceptance of me evaporated. Nora refused to let me call her anything but Mom. Everyone was down for Thanksgiving Day, and I finally got to meet Jeff's sister. Janet was just as great as the rest of them.
With exams coming up, Jeff and I were slammed with studying and homework when we got back. We didn't get anything done over the Holiday but be two guys in love. The price we paid was that we had to work overtime to catch up. Even in the chaos, an idea had formed in my mind that wouldn't go away.
It was at the end of a team practice, and we were goofing around. The X-team members treated me like an equal instead of a student since the thing with Jeff. I wasn't a kid any more; they all knew it.
I tumbled backwards as a sweaty towel impacted my face. I heard Scott laughing. "Ok, King of the Hill, hit the showers and get back to your studies."
I laughed. "What? Can't keep up with the kid, huh?"
Scott snarled at me and caught me around the waist. We tumbled about until he had me in a headlock and was mussing my hair with abandon. "I'll show you who can't keep up!" Kurt hid his smile behind his blue fingers, Ororo laughed and Logan just tried to look indifferent.
"Ok, ok! Mercy!" I was laughing too hard to concentrate on getting free.
Scott let me go, stood up and offered me a hand. "You're a great kid, Dan. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." With a smirk, he added, "Not even that stubborn SOB with the terminal case of bad-ass." I watched Logan scowl menacingly, but he loved every moment.
As everyone was leaving, I tapped Scott on the arm. "Can we talk?"
That caught his attention. He nodded and hung back as everyone else left. Logan stopped at the door. "Hey, you stink to hell, Summers. Get your ass to the showers."
I could tell that was probably an invite for something else. I looked around Scott before he could respond. "I won't keep him long, promise!"
Logan frowned but nodded and left.
"What's up, Dan?"
I smirked. "I want to try something, and if it works I want you to help me do something for Jeff."
Scott's eyebrows went up. I couldn't really see them behind the visor but it still worked. "Ok, what?"
I stepped back a couple feet and cupped my hands like I wanted to catch spilling water. "Blast my hands."
He stood there for a moment. "Huh?"
"Trust me, blast my hands. I mean really strong."
Scott knew I could deflect anything he sent at me. Hell, after last Christmas I don't think he had any doubt about my abilities. He only paused a moment and then touched his visor.
The energy slammed into my palms as I concentrated. This was the strangest thing I'd ever tried. I'd been analyzing the idea for a week and I knew, in theory, that I could do it. The energy seemed to get absorbed as soon as it got to my hands. After a few moments, it actually happened. "Ok."
Scott stopped, and I stared into my hands. My palms were coated in a black powder. For a moment I think Scott believed I'd been burned. "What the hell?"
The smile I gave him was probably as bright as any one I'd ever done. "You're not going to believe me, even though you were right here."
He frowned. "What did you do Dan?"
I rubbed the carbon dust between my fingers with an overwhelming sense of awe and pride. "I made matter."
To say my little stunt caused a "reaction" would be like saying New Year's Eve was just a "party." Hank was all over me like scales on a fish. It was one thing to theorize about "energy-matter conversion" but it was something else entirely to have it done. You'd have thought I'd just set off an atomic bomb in the basement.
The one thing that was agreed upon that evening was that I shouldn't tell any of the other students about it. I was glad because I really didn't want another reason for people to look at me weird. I wanted to share it with the guys, but the Professor was adamant. That took a little wind out of my sails.
"Can I at least tell Jeff?"
The Professor looked at me for a few moments. "Yes, Dan, you can tell Jeff."
I beamed. I would have kept it secret if he'd told me to but I hated the idea of keeping anything from Jeff. "Thanks, Professor."
Hank left with the Professor, discussing possible ramifications and advancement of quantum mechanics and such. Scott stayed behind as I washed my hands.
"You'd asked for my help if 'it worked'."
I nodded. "I want to ask Jeff to marry me."
Scott looked stunned. "You're only kids."
I nodded. "We'll be eighteen next year. I don't want to get married till we graduate."
He just stood there shaking his head. "How does this involve me?"
"I want your help making the rings."
For the second time that evening Scott did a double take. "You want to what?"
"I want to make the rings." I shrugged. "I guess it will take a LOT of energy to make a set of rings out of anything heavy, like gold or platinum. I don't want to blackout the east coast or anything. I thought you'd be able to provide the power."
"You'll have to get permission from the Professor."
I nodded. "If he says I can?"
Scott sighed. "Yes, Dan, I'll help."
I was so happy I literally floated from the floor. "Thanks, Scott."
He laughed at me as I landed. "You ready for that? Marriage?"
I nodded. "I don't think I've ever been more certain about anything in my life. I want Jeff to know that, no matter what, I'll always be there for him."
He smiled. It looked a little sad but it was sincere. "You're a good kid, Dan. You'll make a great husband."
I smiled. "Yeah; I'll even wear the apron."
I had to get Hank's help to convince the Professor to let me try. Hank was too intrigued by the prospect of witnessing the process not to push for it. It was scheduled for the evening after my last exam. I hadn't told Jeff about the whole "energy-matter" thing. I wanted to keep it secret till I had the rings. He wasn't all that happy that I had "special training" during the post exam blowout the guys were planning.
"Jeff, I'll get back as fast as I can." I really hated when he was upset. "This is really important."
He shrugged. "Yeah, I know."
I pulled him into my arms and smiled into his eyes. Over the semester I'd grown another inch and was as tall as he was. "We've got two full weeks of sun and fun planned, right?"
He smirked. "Yeah."
"Then you have nothing to worry about. After tonight you've got my full attention."
His hands slid down my back and squeezed my butt. Gods I loved when he did that. He knew he could have me hard and panting with just a few good squeezes. "I want to see this in bikini's all vacation; no complaints."
I grinned. "Deal."
I was pretty nervous. I'd gotten Kate's help to memorize the atomic structure of the material I was going to make the rings of. I also memorized the shapes and sizes. She didn't know why I wanted to have those two things "burned into my brain" but she didn't push for an answer. She knew if I wanted to do it I had my reasons.
I sat on the floor in the danger room and set my hands down on a block of steel they'd set as the target for Scott's blast. The Professor was there, and Hank had so many recording and sensing devices around us the place looked like a movie studio.
Scott settled down in the chair before me and nodded. "Ready?"
Nodding, I defocused my eyes and began to recite the mantra I'd picked to hold the images in my head. The energy leapt out and hit between my hands. We sat, like two people studying a chessboard, in silence.
Time ticked away as more and more power warped to my will. Scott's pulse rate had increase along with mine. We were sweating. He tapped the side of his visor and it went full open. The increase in energy sped up the process but it still felt like hours. I could do nothing but focus on the patterns in my brain. I knew if I let my mind deviate it would fuck up. I simply "knew" when we were done, and I bent the energy away from my work.
Scott shut off his visor with a low groan. "God, how long was that? My eyes feel like I sandpapered them."
"Thirty seven minutes, fourteen seconds," I replied softly. Yeah, absolute time sense sucks. I couldn't even bring myself to look at the block. I was so scared I'd fucked them up.
Hank came over and scanned the rings for radiation. "Clean, pure," he stopped. The metal looked sort of like platinum but not quite. He ran the scan again and stared at me. "Adamantium?"
I nodded, so exhausted I couldn't really form words. I did give Scott a small grin. "What else would I use for what I feel for him?"
Scott shook his head. "Logan is going to kill you."
"No he won't." I reached down to the rings and touched them. They were cool and perfectly smooth. No work of art, but I thought flawless, seamless bands would be the most representative of my love for Jeff. "He'll just hurt me really bad."
I got back to the room an hour later. I was still feeling totally wiped. Jeff was waiting. He took one look at me as I sank to the bed and shook his head. "What'd they do?"
I shrugged. "Experiment." I sighed; I really was exhausted. "Jeff?"
"Could we just hang for a little bit before we join the guys?"
He smiled, sat down beside me and ruffed up my hair. "You need a shower anyway. You stink."
"Ha ha." He was right.
Lifting me like I was a feather, he carried me to the bathroom. "We'll get you cleaned up and refreshed."
I smiled. "Are you trying to seduce me, mister?"
"Nah, I just want to get my hands on your ass."
I snuggled against his neck as his aura reached out and started the shower. "Yeah, I thought so."
We'd been back in Florida for three days and the waiting was killing me. I had my reasons. Yule was the 22nd of December that year. It was the Time of Rebirth for Wiccans. It was when the God returns from the underworld and the dark times begin to wane. This was one of the most magickal times for new beginnings. I wanted to propose when I had the most astrological backing.
I couldn't believe that after all we'd been through I was nervous and worried that he'd say no. I tried not to let it show but Jeff knew something was up. After dinner, I asked Jeff if we could go for a walk. I think that made him as nervous as I was. I made sure I held his hand and smiled; my stomach was knotted so bad I was worried I'd lose my dinner before I had a chance to tell him how I felt. We walked quietly on the beach looking at the sky and the lights of the hotels and resorts.
Stopping Jeff, I turned him around and looked at him. Gods he was beautiful. "Jeff," I swallowed and tried to keep the bile from rising, "I need to..." I choked. I don't know about anyone else but facing rejection from the one person in the world who means more than anyone else was enough to make me pass out. I was shaking.
He looked at me, and he wasn't smiling. There was a look of dread on his face that made my stomach ache even worse. His voice wavered, "Dan, what's wrong?"
I pulled out the pouch I'd been keeping the rings in. I lifted his hand, turned it palm up, and poured the rings out of the bag. "This is what I did the night after exams."
He blinked at them and felt them. He knew immediately that they weren't a normal metal. "You -made- these?"
I swallowed and nodded. "Adamantium."
He looked from the rings to me in awe. "Holy shit."
"I wanted you to know how I felt about us." I looked away, took a deep breath and looked back at him. "Will you marry me?"
I was swept up and felt like I was having the air crushed out of me. Jeff spun us around and whooped before plopping us down on the sand and grabbing my face. He kissed me so hard I thought we might get bruises. Between the exquisite pain of his kisses he whispered "Yes, yes, yes..."
I couldn't stop myself from crying. I'd been so scared. Jeff was crying too, and finally he let out a huge breath and smiled at me. "You scared the shit out of me, Dan. I thought something was wrong."
"I was worried. You might have said no."
He looked shocked. "How could you think that?"
I shrugged. "Low self-esteem, I guess."
He sat down and pulled me down between his legs. His arms wrapped around me while resting his chin on my shoulder. "Well stop it. I don't love losers. You're the best thing that ever happened to me."
I snuggled back and nodded through my tears. "I love you so much."
I held him tight and promised. "Forever."
Tyler was trying to get me free from the twisted metal that held me captive. "I can't get you out!" He was crying and ripping at the steel with his hands.
"Tyler, TYLER!" He blinked as I yelled at him. I think he saw the truth in my eyes because he started crying hard. "Ty, I'm not going with you."
"No, no, no, no, no." He was pleading with me. "Dan, no..."
"I'm dying Ty. I can feel it. You've got to be the hero now." I smiled at him weakly. "You've got to save our friends."
"I can't leave you."
"You've got to. You'd never get the jet off the ground if the Bitch gets back up here. Even if you did, she could knock it out of the sky or just track us down." Talking was so hard. I just wanted to let go. I was already feeling transparent. "I'll keep her here. I'll stop her. I can't do it knowing the people I love aren't safe."
He was crying and his head was hung in defeat. He knew I was right. "I love you, Dan."
I smiled. "I love you too, little bro'."
It didn't hurt when he hugged me. I'd lost touch with so much of my body that he probably could have broken a few bones, and I wouldn't have noticed. After a moment, he stepped back, turned, and moved to our floating family. He began to push them down the path I'd made to the Jet.
He looked back at me, tears mixing with the blood on his face, "Yeah?"
"Tell Jeff I'll always be with him."
He choked and tried to say something but couldn't. After a moment, he composed himself, nodded, and took our family out of there.
It was only a matter of time. I was going to make every second count.