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"The Archetype Association"

The Archetype Association

Author's Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49


"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 the stables."

"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 students."

"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 first."

"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," Logan noted.

"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?" Rogue asked.

"I'll buy some extra aluminum flashing when I fix the roof and nail a layer of it onto the studs closest to the heat."

"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 dry land.

"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. Chuck?

Yes, Logan?

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 the project?

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, too.

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 engine.

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 asked.

"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?"

"Right," Will confirmed. "Make it conical, like a teepee, and leave a hole in the top for smoke and ash to escape."

"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 long."

"We're not going anywhere for a while," Logan assured her.

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 clenched teeth.

Logan nodded. "I checked. Have we got it on target, Rogue?"

She bent her head down and checked. "Perfect. Bombs away!"

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, Rogue?"

"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 primly.

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 else?"

"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 firewood."

"I'll come along."

"Me too."

"Me three."

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 enough, Will?"

"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 dish.

"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 asked.

"Well," he admitted, "the kind of pasta was a guess."

"How is the project going?" Ororo inquired as everyone settled in.

"We'll be spending tomorrow playing in the mud," Rogue said with a grin.

"Excuse me?"

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 descended.

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 elevator.

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' now?"

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' it smart."

"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 anythin'."

"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 sleep."

"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.

Love you,


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 body.

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 his waffles.

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 session."

"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 doors.

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 everything ready?"

"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."

"Of course."

Will smiled, hopped down the steps, and tapped lightly on Rogue's door.

"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 last night."

"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 this?"

"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 asked.

"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 mold it."

"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 with clay.

"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 of four."

"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 rotting.

"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 order?"

"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?" she asked.

"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 truck.

"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 way?"

"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 later.

"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 Palin impression.

"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 43


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