THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
"Good morning, Xavier," Will said cheerfully as
he walked by the Professor's office.
Xavier glanced at his clock. "It's a quarter past ten,
so I guess that qualifies. How do you feel?"
"Pretty good. I wanted to thank you for letting me use
"We're not going to get any other use out of them,"
Xavier shrugged. "Besides, once you get everything established,
you might be able to teach a class or two for the Massachusetts
"Maybe," Will agreed. "I'm going to take a
look at the building later today. I'll draw up some plans
to show you before I actually do anything."
"Fair enough. I can have a power line run over from
the main house if you want."
"No need. I'd like to be able to say that I spent some
of my own money on this little project. I think I'll look
into buying a windmill and storage batteries."
Xavier thought about that a moment. "I like that idea.
Sometimes I think we're getting too dependent on our Shiar
technology. Something as simple as a windmill would be a nice
change of pace."
"Well, it may be a while before I even reach that stage.
I want to see what sort of work the building is going to need
"Okay, step one: Start shoveling."
Rogue and Logan, who had volunteered to help Will out, looked
at the debris covering the dirt floor of the stable building.
"Looks like some local critters took up residence,"
"Nothing's all that fresh, though," Will replied.
"I doubt that I'll be getting any unwanted visitors."
"What should we do with everything once we get it out
of here?" Rogue asked.
"Ororo said that we could dump anything biodegradable
onto her compost pile."
"Let's get started, then."
"I'll handle the wheelbarrow," Logan said.
After shoveling for the better part of an hour, they managed
to clear away the refuse and expose the bare dirt of the floor.
Will spent the next several minutes studying the condition
of the wood used to construct the stables. "Set in concrete,
treated with creosote. The roof looks like it could use some
work, but the framework's in good shape. I'll have to slap
on an extra few coats of preservative, though."
"How are you going to protect the wood from sparks?"
"I'll buy some extra aluminum flashing when I fix the
roof and nail a layer of it onto the studs closest to the
"Sounds simple enough," Logan said with a nod.
"Want a closer look at the roof?" Rogue offered.
When Will nodded, she wrapped an arm around his waist and
flew him up to the top of the stables.
"Okay," he said to himself as he studied the timbers,
digging into them with a penknife as he checked for insect
damage. "Looks like standard tar paper and asbestos shingles.
I might have to replace a sheet of plywood.... I think that
OSB would be a bit stronger.... then strip the entire thing,
put on a new coat of tar and reshingle. I wonder how much
slate would set me back."
"Slate's expensive," Logan pointed out.
"True, but given the risk of fire, I think it would
be a good investment. I'm done, Rogue."
"How will you set things up in here?" she asked
as she lowered him back to the ground.
"I was just considering that. I think I'm going to keep
the individual stable walls in place, and use each part for
a different activity." Looking at the six pallets, which
measured about two by three meters each, he pointed to each
of them in turn. "Woodwork, office, pottery, tool storage,
art studio, and materials storage." He walked over to
the rear area of the building, which had been used to store
hay and bridle equipment. "Since there aren't any walls
back here, I think I'll build the smithy against one corner,
and the kiln across from it."
Logan nodded in approval. "You want to use wood or coke
for the smithy?"
"Coke would be hotter, but it takes forever to make.
I might see if I can find a supplier."
"What about an anvil?"
"I placed an order for a thirty-pounder just after breakfast.
It should be here by the time I'm done with all the prep work."
"What about bricks for the furnaces themselves?"
Rogue asked. "And you still need wood for the fire."
"Well, I think a few hours of wandering in the woods
will give me a good starting supply of wood. As for the bricks....
I think I feel like a walk over to the lake right now."
"You are absolutely the last person I thought I'd ever
see playing in the mud," Rogue said with a laugh.
"Please," Will said in an offended tone, "let's
get our terms straight. I'm playing in the clay."
Will had tossed his sneakers and socks aside when they had
arrived at the shore of the lake, and was happily standing
knee-deep in the water, running his fingers through the silt
at the bottom and revealing the rich, red clay underneath.
He pulled out several double handfuls, dropping them into
a bucket that he had brought along, then walked back onto
"Now," he said as he sat down and buried his hands
deep into the clay, "all I need to do is make a mold
for the bricks and dig a deep hole."
Logan was confused for a moment. "Why dig a .... oh,
I get it. You're going to make a fire pit."
"Right. Once I get a hot enough fire going, I'll set
up a reflector over it, and put the bricks around the base.
Of course, after the kiln is built, I can use it to make the
bricks for the forge."
"What about the hole?" Rogue asked.
Will thought a moment, then looked at Logan. "Feel like
helping me find a good, thick log?"
"No problem, but why?"
"Once the anvil arrives, I'm going to need to set it
into the ground so that it doesn't fall on my foot. Here's
what we'll do: we find and cut the log, then bring it back
to the stables and dig a hole big enough to hold it. Once
we're sure that the hole's the right size, I'll make some
reflectors to put over and around it. The hole will be the
fire pit, and I'll be able to make some headway on building
the kiln and do the work on the roof at the same time. After
the kiln is ready, I'll just dig out the ashes from the pit,
put the log back in, and add enough dirt to hold it in place.
Then I can attach the anvil."
Logan considered it. "Good plan. You get a few things
done at once. What'll we need from the tool shed, then?"
"For now, just a chainsaw and a post-hole digger. But
before we do that, why don't we let Xavier know what we're
planning? I promised that I'd keep him in the loop."
"Gimmie a sec." Logan closed his eyes for a moment.
Will's got his plans all set up. He briefly outlined
their intentions for the building. You got any objections?
None. It sounds like this can keep both Will and Rogue
occupied for a while. Are you going to stay involved with
Once I'm done with this part, I'll just let 'em know that
I'll be around if they need me. I might help with the roof,
All right. Tell him I said it's fine.
No problem, Chuck. Later. "He said have a party,"
he informed Will.
"Great. Let's get those tools."
"What do you think?"
Logan looked at the top of the log. "Looks like it's
in good shape. I remember the storm when it fell. It wasn't
that long ago, so the wood should be pretty much solid. How
long do you want it?"
"Well, I'd like it to be about seven decimeters or so
in the ground, just to make sure it doesn't go anywhere while
I'm pounding on it. Add the length above ground, and I'd say
we need a meter total."
"Sounds right to me. Better stand back." He waited
for Will and Rogue to get a few feet away, then put on his
safety goggles and started the chainsaw.
"Just make sure the cuts are straight!" Will yelled
above the roar of the engine.
Logan nodded and got to work. Three minutes later, he kicked
the length of wood over onto its other side and shut off the
Will walked over and looked at the log. "Good. No insect
damage." He bent down and took hold of one end, waiting
for Logan to do the same. "Rogue, could you bring the
wheelbarrow over here, please?"
"Why bother?" she asked. "I can just throw
that thing over my shoulder."
"Not until Henry gives you his okay."
"I have to agree, darlin'."
"Okay," she shrugged, "I guess I can't win
this one. I've lost enough arguments with both of you to know
when I'm out of my league."
Once the log was in the wheelbarrow, it was hauled back to
the stables. At Will's suggestion, Logan extended one claw
and made a mark on the wood that would indicate when it was
deep enough in the hole. After checking the distances a third
time, they marked a place on the ground.
"What can I do while you're busy at this?" Rogue
"Well," Logan said, after considering it for a
moment, "you can either build the reflector or gather
up some firewood. Either way, you'll be saving us a step later."
"I think I'll make the reflector first," she decided.
"Corrugated cardboard and a double layer of tinfoil,
"Right," Will confirmed. "Make it conical,
like a teepee, and leave a hole in the top for smoke and ash
"How big do you want it?"
"A meter wide and tall should do it. Make sure that
it can be opened so we can add wood to the fire."
"Okay," she agreed. "I shouldn't take too
"We're not going anywhere for a while," Logan assured
Rogue returned about twenty minutes later, the reflector
in one hand and a pitcher of iced tea in the other. "Here
you go," she told them as she placed them both down.
"I used that box that the new freezer came in. We'll
have to get more tinfoil on the next shopping trip, Will."
"Just put it down on the list so I don't forget,"
he requested. He took a cup from her and poured for Logan
first. "Oh, I needed that," he said as he drank
his own portion.
"How's it going?" she asked.
"We were just about to check the depth," Logan
informed her. "Ready?" he asked Will.
After tilting the log onto one end, they slowly lifted it
straight up and shuffled over to the hole. "We do
have it right side up, don't we?" Will asked through
Logan nodded. "I checked. Have we got it on target,
She bent her head down and checked. "Perfect. Bombs
The two men counted down from three and let go of the log.
It dropped straight down into the hole, bouncing slightly
once it hit bottom. As it forced the air out of the hole,
it sent up a plume of dirt which covered both of them.
Will sneezed. "That was fun."
"It worked, didn't it?" Logan pointed out.
"True. Now for the not-fun part."
"Hold it," Rogue said. "Doctor's orders or
not, I am not going to stand here and watch you two give yourselves
hernias." She closed her eyes. Jean, could you come
over to the stables for a second, please? There's no rush.
Jean arrived a few minutes later. "What's the problem,
"Could you lift that thing out of there, please?"
she asked, pointing to the log. "These two he-men won't
let me help, and I'm not looking forward to seeing either
one of them in a truss."
Jean smiled wickedly. "Oh, I don't know. It might be
fun playing doctor."
Logan and Will gave Jean identical looks. "I have enough
problems with Scott, thank you very much," Will said
Jean laughed. "Step back, please." She took hold
of the log with her mind and lifted it out of the hole. "Where
do you want it?"
Will indicated a spot against the middle of the wall. "Could
you just lay it on the floor there?"
"No sweat," she replied as she set it down. "Anything
"That's it for now," Will said. "I think I'm
just going to gather up some firewood for tomorrow. I still
have to build a mold for the bricks, but I can do that tonight."
"You'll be making bricks all day tomorrow?"
"Probably. We had a leftover bale of straw, so I'll
have a binding agent to work with."
"Why not make a few molds?" Logan suggested. "That
way we can help you out."
"Are you sure?"
"Why not? I actually enjoyed doin' all of this."
"So did I," Rogue added. "It's sort of novel
to spend the day hard at work on something that doesn't have
any global stakes."
"Okay," Will shrugged. "I'll make one mold
by hand, and you can run it through that three-dimensional
Xerox machine in the basement." He picked up the wheelbarrow
and started out. "Right now, though, I'm going to gather
"I'll come along."
Four people were able to gather together a sizable amount
of firewood in a short time. "I never realized how much
dead stuff was out here," Jean remarked.
"Well," Logan pointed out, "we've smashed,
zapped, crashed through, or fallen through a good chunk of
those woods over the years."
"Good point," Rogue admitted. "Think we have
"This should be enough for the first few batches of
bricks. I'll probably have to order cordwood once everything's
set up. What time is it?"
"Just after six," Jean told him.
"I'll check the paper and see if any locals are selling
wood. I think I'd like to keep this little project of mine
electricity-free for now."
Jean's eyes became unfocused for a moment. "Hank says
that you have half an hour or so until dinner's ready. Why
don't we call it a day?"
"Works for me," Logan said.
"Same here," Will agreed. "I'll head down
to the basement after we eat and make a prototype mold."
"First things first," Rogue told him. "You
really need to take a shower."
Henry kept dinner simple for the night, choosing to take
some of the leftovers from the refrigerator and make soup
from them. He baked a large batch of breadsticks as a side
"Very good, Hank," Will said upon smelling the
soup. "Let's see.... you used my last batch of chicken
stock, mild sausage, meatballs, spinach, farfalle, carrots,
and lots of black pepper."
"You could tell that just from the smell?" Bishop
"Well," he admitted, "the kind of pasta was
"How is the project going?" Ororo inquired as everyone
"We'll be spending tomorrow playing in the mud,"
Rogue said with a grin.
Laughing, Rogue explained Will's plans for the next day.
"Interesting," Ororo decided. "Would you mind
an extra set of hands? I can't think of anything more back
to nature than digging through the clay."
"Not at all," Will replied agreeably. "I just
want to make sure that I don't take away too much clay. I
don't want to damage the lakebed."
Xavier broke out into laughter. "Will, that lake's seen
spaceships land in it. It's been boiled, frozen solid, and
whipped into a frenzy. Losing a few pounds of clay isn't going
to do it any more harm, I promise you."
"If you say so." He dabbed at his mouth with his
napkin and stood up. "I'll be down in the workshop if
anybody needs me." He walked over to the elevator and
Once Rogue and Logan were done, they decided to see what
Will was up to. They found him working at the small table
saw, cutting a series of slots in a piece of wood. "What's
that?" Rogue asked him once he shut off the saw motor.
"Finger joint," he explained. "Once I get
all the pieces cut, I'll join them together with glue, drill
a hole through each corner, then keep the whole thing together
with some dowels."
"Isn't that a lot of work for something that's going
to get covered in mud?"
"Clay," he corrected. "I'm probably going
to have to use the thing a few hundred times, so I may as
well make something that's going to last."
Logan nodded in approval. "No shortcuts for you, then."
"Nope. When I build something, I build it to be around
for a long time. I hate the throwaway mentality. It's
one of the reasons why I like antiques so much. At least you
know you're getting quality work." Logan and Rogue fell
silent as Will completed his cuts. Fitting the pieces together,
he brought the mold over to the drill press, where he bored
four quarter-inch diameter holes into the corners. He then
selected a small dowel from the scrap pile, checked its length,
and cut four equal sized lengths from it. He took the pieces
apart again and slathered a generous amount of wood glue on
the fingers of the joints. Placing the joints back together,
he made sure that the holes were aligned, then tapped the
dowels in with a small hammer. He finished by wiping off the
excess glue and cutting off the exposed ends of the dowels.
"Very nice work," Logan said after inspecting the
finished product, which had interior measurements that were
two by three by six inches, the standard size for a brick.
"What's the set time on the glue?"
"About an hour. Once it's dry, I'm going to go over
it with a router and round off the edges. It'll make the molds
easier to handle once they're wet."
"Good idea." Logan glanced at his watch. "It's
almost eight-thirty. Why don't you two hit the sack early,
and we'll start work right after breakfast?"
Will nodded in approval. "Feel like hitting the local
home supply store with me once we have enough bricks? I still
need to get tar paper, roofing tar, and a sheet of plywood,
not to mention mortar."
"No problem. What about the slate?"
"I may have to special order that, but we'll see."
He frowned. "Now that I think about it, I'm going to
have to cut holes in the roof for the kiln and smithy chimneys.
We'd better add a few more sheets of plywood to the list."
"We'll figure it out in the mornin'. Take a powder,
both of you."
"Okay, okay," Rogue said, raising her hands in
mock surrender, "we're going."
"Actually, darlin', I wanted to ask you somethin'."
He glanced at Will, who just nodded and walked over to the
Once the elevator door had shut behind Will, Logan turned
back to Rogue. "This is a personal question, so you don't
have to answer it if you don't want to. How are you two doin'
She smiled, both because she was touched by Logan's concern,
and her certainty that he would be discreet. "We're doing
okay. Once we got over the first hurdle, everything after
it was pretty easy."
"Good. Next question: I caught a whiff of your scent
as I walked by Will's room last night. I've gotta ask: what's
goin' on between you two? I just want to make sure that you're
both all right."
"It's not what you think. We just hold each other. We
talk, and we sleep. That's what's so great about being with
him.... there's no pressure to do anything else."
He nodded. "Good. I'm glad to see you're both playin'
"If it makes you feel any better, he's still letting
me call all the shots."
"I was expectin' that. I'm just worried about whether
he'll let you know if he wants to slow down."
"What do you mean?"
Logan sighed. "Think about it, kiddo. It took what was
essentially a nervous breakdown to get him to admit how he
felt about you. Now that he's let his guard down, though,
he may be edgy about tellin' you if he's uncomfortable about
"I hadn't thought of that," she admitted after
a moment of consideration. "I might have to drag things
out of him."
"Don't get too nosy," Logan cautioned. "I
just wanted to give you somethin' to think about. Go get some
rest, darlin'. You still need recovery time."
"Don't worry, I intend to take it. I still feel like
I've got some dirt on me, though, so I'm going to take a nice
hot bath before I go to bed."
"You should let Bobby know that. He'll never get to
"Now there's a thought," she said with a
wicked smile as she started up the stairs.
Saying goodnight to Ororo and Henry as she passed by them,
Rogue walked up the stairs to her room, where she found a
note taped to her door. Opening it, she found a note written
in Will's small, unruly print:
Surprise for you inside. Relax. Sleep late. Remember,
you're still on vacation.
Smiling, she opened her door, then gasped in delighted surprise
as she walked in.
Her bedroom and bathroom had been filled with a multitude
of glowing candles, in various sizes and colors. They were
stacked on her night stand, dresser, desk, and vanity. A dozen
long-stemmed red roses lay on top of her bathrobe, which had
been removed from her closet and placed on her bed. A large
wicker basket, placed next to the roses, held an assortment
of bath oils, salts, bubble bath, body scrubs, facial masks,
and several varieties of shampoo and conditioner.
After she had slipped out of her clothes, tied back her hair,
and donned the robe, she picked up the basket and entered
the bathroom, where she found that her bath had already been
drawn. The amount of steam rising from the tub told her that
Will had remembered that she liked her water much hotter than
the average person did. A small bowl placed on the lip of
the tub held still more rose petals. A TV tray had been placed
next to the tub, holding a plate of apple and pear slices
and small, foil-wrapped chocolates, and a champagne flute
stood next to a small ice bucket. Rogue laughed out loud when,
upon opening the bucket, she found that Will had decided to
give her a choice, providing her with small bottles of both
champagne and sparkling apple cider.
A gentleman to the end, she thought to herself as
she popped open the cider bottle and poured herself a glass.
She removed her robe and placed it on the towel rack (where,
she noticed, Will had placed her favorite fluffy towel), then
sank into the hot water with a sigh of pleasure. After a few
moments of indecision, she added some peppermint bath salts
and some of the rose petals to the water, then applied an
apricot face mask and lay back, letting the heat and fragrances
draw the stress and tensions of the past few days out of her
After an indeterminate amount of time, which allowed her
to emerge from the tub feeling refreshed, supple, and blissfully
sensuous, she toweled herself off and went back to her bedroom,
blowing out the candles on the way. A moment of searching
produced a vase to hold the flowers. Three minutes later,
she had curled up in her nice, warm bed, with the light of
one remaining candle helping her drift off to sleep.
Logan was already eating when Will came down for breakfast
the next morning. "Mornin'," he mumbled as he ate
Will appeared, for once, to be both fully awake and in a
good mood. "Morning," he replied cheerfully, taking
the milk form the table and pouring some into a Pyrex measuring
cup. "I was thinking that we might want to hit the lumber
and hardware store early.... unless you've got a training
"No, I'm free 'til lunch. Which van do you want to take?
Yours or the Institute's?"
"The one that I bought is the Institute's, as
far as far as I'm concerned. We might want to give it a once-over,
though. Let's use the other one until you get to take a look
at it." He sat down and sipped at his cocoa.
"Makes sense. Okay, we'll get going once you're ready."
"Just let me finish this," Will said, lifting his
mug, "and I'll be ready."
Twenty minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot of
the local hardware and lumber superstore. "Want a cart?"
Logan asked as the automatic door opened for them.
"I think we'll need one," Will said with a nod.
"Do we have a list?"
"Here." Digging into his shirt pocket, he pulled
out a folded sheet of paper. "Let's just walk the aisles,
though. I may have forgotten something, and I'll probably
remember it if I see it."
"It's your nickel," Logan shrugged.
After an hour, they had selected enough supplies to satisfy
Will, and a clerk helped them load the OSB panels into the
van. Logan and Will handled the rest, and they were on their
way a few minutes later.
"Why don't we just drop everything off at the stables?"
Logan suggested as they entered the Institute grounds.
"All right. No reason to make more than one trip, anyway."
Logan nodded and drove over to the stables, backing up to
the door. Will got out and opened both the stable and van
Logan cut the engine, then stepped out of the van and helped
Will unload everything. "How long did they say it would
take for the slate to come in?"
"Two days or so. That's why I got the tarp: to keep
things dry until then."
"Want me to get the staple gun?"
"Why don't we take a break? We'll pick up the gun and
the molds, and see if the ladies are ready to get started.
I want to change clothes beforehand, anyway."
"Okay. Actually, it might be a good idea if we take
care of the roof first. Three of us can handle that, and the
other two can get the fire started."
"Good idea." They walked back to the mansion, where
Logan went down to the workshop to gather the tools. Will
went upstairs to the women's wing and knocked lightly on Ororo's
door, which opened a few moments later.
"Good morning, Will," she said with a smile. "Is
"All set. Logan and I already picked up the supplies,
so we can get right to work."
She nodded. "Give me a few minutes, and I will meet
you at the stables."
"Take your time. It's not like we're on a deadline.
Can you contact Jean for me, please? I still have to wake
up Rogue and change into my work clothes."
Will smiled, hopped down the steps, and tapped lightly on
"Who is it?" was the muffled response.
"It's Will. We'll be getting started soon, so...."
He was interrupted in mid-sentence as the door was jerked
open and something was thrown over his head. Before he realized
what was happening, he was pulled forward into Rogue's arms
and given a kiss which could probably have caused Bobby to
spontaneously combust.... while in his ice form.
He staggered slightly when she released him, then took a
deep breath. "I have no idea what that was for,"
he confessed as he pulled off the sheet, "but I'm not
going to lodge any complaints."
"That was for being such a wonderful man," Rogue
told him with a smile. "You gave me just what I needed
"I'm glad you liked it. How do you feel?"
"Fabulous!" she said with a look that would brighten
a dark room. "Are we all set outside?"
"We can start as soon as you get there."
"Great! I'll be just a few minutes." She took the
sheet from him and shut the door.
Will went to his room and changed into an old pair of jeans
and a ratty T-shirt, then put on a pair of work boots. A few
seconds of rummaging through his closet produced a pair of
duck boots, which he tied together by the laces and slung
over one shoulder. He then went downstairs to help Logan.
"Okay," Jean asked fifteen minutes later as she
looked at the stable roof, "what's the best way to handle
"Why don't you, Logan, and Rogue work on the roof,"
Will suggested, "and Ororo and I can get the fire set
up for the pit?"
"That works," Logan agreed. "We won't be tripping
all over each other."
"Allez oop," Jean said, lifting up Logan
and the tools as she ascended towards the roof. Rogue floated
up beside them, holding the sheet of plywood. Logan pulled
out the old panel, shingles and all, and let it drop to the
ground. He and Rogue positioned the new sheet, making the
seam as tight as possible. Jean handed them both the nails,
and Logan hammered them in, while Rogue chose to simply use
her strength to push them through.
Will, meanwhile, had quickly set up several layers of sticks,
decreasing the thickness of the wood as each layer was added.
He finished by setting up a small teepee of twigs at the top
of the stack, which he filled with a small wad of loose cotton.
Ororo simply watched with interest.... her only contribution
to the exercise had been to keep the wind at a minimum.
"Finished," Rogue announced from above them
"Where'd you put the tarp?" Logan asked Will.
"Here you go." Will walked over to the pile of
supplies, removed the tarp from its wrapper, and tossed it
to Jean, who caught and unfolded it mentally. Logan and Rogue
nailed it into place, and they were all back on the ground
a minute later.
"It's not perfect," Logan conceded, "but it
should keep things dry until the slate goes up."
"That's all we need it for," Will reminded him.
"Now for the messy part of today's plans." He took
several plastic buckets and the molds that he had made and
placed them in the wheelbarrow. "Could somebody get the
hay and that old panel of plywood in the corner?" he
"I've got them," Jean said. She followed the others
to the lake, where Will changed into his duck boots. "I'll
dig out the clay," he volunteered, "and you can
"That's all right," Ororo said as she kicked off
her sneakers and waded out to join him. Since her powers made
her resistant to temperature extremes, she had simply worn
shorts for the day. She and Will quickly filled the wheelbarrow
"Now what?" Rogue asked.
"We mix in some of the straw as a binding agent,"
Will told her. "Then we just fill up the molds and put
the bricks on the panel. We should be able to put between
twelve and sixteen bricks around the pit at one time, so we
ought to try to keep the total that we do today at a multiple
"Right." She ripped several handfuls of straw off
the bale and tossed them into the wheelbarrow, mixing them
in by running her fingers through the clay.
Once it seemed that there was enough straw to keep things
solid, Will dipped his mold into the water to make it slightly
slippery, placed it on the sheet of plywood, then took a double
handful of clay from the wheelbarrow and molded it into a
roll that was vaguely brick-sized. He dropped the roll into
the mold, then pushed it into place with his fingers, attempting
to remove any air bubbles. He then lifted the mold up, allowing
the brick to slide out and remain on the sheet. "Any
questions?" he asked.
"It seems straightforward enough," Ororo replied.
"How much space should we leave between the bricks?"
Will thought about it. "Better make it about a finger's
width between them on the long side, and two on the ends.
That should give us enough room to grab hold of them so we
can put them in the pit."
Everyone nodded. "I'll start at the other end,"
Rogue said. "That way we won't have to worry about my
accidentally absorbing anybody."
Half an hour later, after pausing twice to refill the wheelbarrow
with clay, they had made about sixty bricks. "That should
do it for today," Will said. "It's going to take
at least a day to bake all of these."
"I may be able to cut that down by reducing the local
humidity," Ororo suggested. "I can do it while we
work on something else."
"Will it be a strain?"
She shook her head. "I can just keep it in the back
of my mind."
"All right. Let's move these into the stable."
They each picked up a corner of the panel and shuffled it
over to an area next to the pit. "Rogue, could you please
move the reflector out of the way?"
"No problem." She picked up the reflector, which
was slightly hot to her touch, and placed it to one side.
Will quickly placed twelve bricks around the edge of the
pit, then tossed several handfuls of sticks into the fire.
"I might move a sleeping bag in here," he mused.
"I'll be adding wood to this fire almost non-stop for
the next few days until I have enough bricks to make the kiln."
"You'll need mortar," Logan reminded him.
"I want to have enough bricks to work with before I
start mixing anything. Besides," he pointed out, "I
still have to cut holes for the chimneys."
"Good point. What can we do while we're waiting?"
"I'd suggest working on the doors," Logan advised,
looking at the old barn-style door, which was cracked and
"Okay. I figure I'll need about forty-eight bricks for
the base of the kiln, anyway. The total number for the kiln
will be about five hundred bricks."
"And how long will each batch take?" Ororo asked.
"Probably between eighteen and twenty-four hours. That's
the standard time."
Rogue did the mental arithmetic. "That means that the
kiln's going to take forty-two days to make."
"I can probably cut the drying time in half," Ororo
pointed out. "That cuts it down to three weeks."
"And then I can keep both the kiln and the pit going
twenty-four hours to make the bricks for the forge,"
Will finished. "Which gives me plenty of time to get
everything else done."
"Seems like a slow process," Jean commented.
"It's not like I'm on a deadline, Jean. I'm doing this
for fun. If I started pressuring myself over the time, that'd
be defeating the whole purpose."
She nodded. "So you're going to be camping out here
for the next few weeks?"
"I doubt it. Once the kiln is done, I can just add fuel
every few hours or so and leave it be. I just want to make
sure that I have the process down right."
"Okay. Want us to move a bunk out here?"
"I think I can stand one night in a sleeping bag."
He glanced at his watch. "It's almost lunch time. Why
don't we take a break?"
"How's the workshop coming along?" Bobby asked
them as they sat down at the table.
"Slowly," Will replied, "which is just what
I want. What are we having?"
"Meatball sandwiches and salad."
"Sounds edible." He looked at Xavier. "I may
need to let an unauthorized vehicle on the grounds sometime
in the next day or so. I have to get some wood for the kiln."
Xavier nodded. "All right. How much are you going to
"I think I'm going to get two full cords. Better too
much than too little."
"Good idea. We're running a little low ourselves."
After lunch, Will leafed through the paper and found someone
who was selling cordwood. Will made his day by offering to
buy everything that he had if he could deliver by that evening.
Once that was done, he went back to the stables and added
wood to the fire, then got to work on the door.
Rogue came by about half an hour later. "Need any help?"
"I think I've got it. Sit down, relax." She did
so, watching as he tore off some of the rotten pieces of the
door and replaced them with new lumber.
"What are you going to do with the scrap?"
He looked at the old pieces of cedar, which were nearly stripped
of paint, and removed the nails. "Just toss them in the
fire," he told Rogue, handing them to her. "No need
to waste them."
"Okay." She dropped the wood into the pit, blinking
at the blast of heat which hit her as she opened the reflector.
"Wow," she said to herself. "I wasn't expecting
it to get that hot."
"It's got to be able to bake all of the moisture out
from the bricks," Will pointed out.
Will bolted the new pieces of wood into place, then tested
the balance of the door. "That should work."
"Won't this place get cold in the winter?"
"Probably, but I'll have either the kiln or the forge
going, so that should warm the place up."
"What about when you're working at your desk?"
"I may just move the desk closer to the fire."
She nodded. "Is there any other work you need to do
on the building?"
He thought about it. "I'm going to have to add some
rain gutters eventually. I'll just put a fifty-gallon drum
at the base of each downspout."
"I'm going to need something to quench the iron
when I'm done working with it."
"Okay, that was a silly question. I just...." Her
voice trailed off for a moment. "Betsy says that the
guy is here with the wood."
"That was quick. Ask her to let him know that I'll be
there in a few minutes." He started running down the
trail towards the main gate.
"Wait for me."
Will ran quickly, but not at enhanced speed, and so was able
to reach the gate in a few minutes. Rogue flew after him,
but landed running once she got within visual range of the
"You Pearson?" Will asked the grizzled old man
behind the wheel.
"Yep. You Riley?"
"Yep. Mind if I just hang on the side and point the
"Nope. Hop in, little lady."
"Thanks." Rogue sat in the passenger seat, and
the truck pulled up beside the stables a few minutes later.
"Where do you want it?" the old man asked.
"How about near that tree over there?"
"You got it." Pearson backed the truck up to the
indicated area, then used the pneumatic pistons on the truck
bed to tilt it back, dumping out the wood into one huge pile.
"Sorry it's not split, but you didn't ask for that."
"That's okay," Will told him. "I could use
the exercise, anyway." He pulled out a wad of bills and
paid the agreed price, and the truck was on its way a minute
"You're going to split all of this?" Rogue
asked as she looked at the massive heap of wood.
"Why not? All I need is an axe, a sledge, and a wedge."
He paused a moment. "Hey, that rhymed."
She rolled her eyes. "I think we've got what you'll
need in the basement."
"Good. I'll have to get my work gloves, too."
A few minutes of searching produced the desired tools, and
Will was soon swinging the sledge over his head, splitting
the wood into manageable pieces. After a while, he began to
work up a good sweat, and had to strip off his shirt, causing
Rogue to whistle in appreciation. "Aren't you going to
have to let this dry out?" she asked him.
"Now that the fire's hot enough, I should be able to
just drop it in. As long as I don't add too much green wood
at one time, I should be fine." He started stacking the
split wood into a tidy pile.
Will had taken care of a respectable portion of the wood
by the time Logan walked over to announce that dinner would
soon be ready. "Not bad," he complimented Will,
seeing how much work he had done in a short time. "Maybe
we'll have you moonlight as a lumberjack."
"No thanks. I've never developed a penchant for women's
clothing, and I hate bar crawling."
"No, I beg you," Rogue moaned as she added some
more wood to the fire, "no Monty Python jokes."
"Oh, please," Will begged with a perfect Michael
"Stop it," Logan warned him.
"He said the word!" Will cried an a high-pitched
voice, then ran as Logan and Rogue both started chasing him
back towards the mansion. "He said it! Oops, I
said it! Ack, I said it again! Oh no, I said it...."
Continued in Chapter
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