Wolverine: Shattered Silence – Chapter 12 – Epilogue: Whisper to a Scream

It wasn’t my intention to mislead you
It never should have been this way
What can I say
It’s true I did extend the invitation
I never knew how long you’d stay
When you hear temptation call
It’s your heart that takes, takes a fall
Won’t you come out and play with me

Step by step, heart to heart, left right left
We all fall down like toy soldiers
Bit by bit torn apart we never win
But the battle wages on for toy soldiers

It’s getting hard to wake up in the morning
My head is spinning constantly
How can it be
How could I be so blind to this addiction
If I don’t stop the next one’s gonna be me
Only emptiness remains
It replaces all, all the pain
Won’t you come out and play with me
Step by step, heart to heart, left right left
We all fall down like toy soldiers

~ Toy Soldiers (Martika)

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Author’s Note: The following chapter will be bisected by two events in the New X-Men series, “Riot at Xavier’s” (# 135 – 138) and “Murder at the Mansion” (# 139 – 141). I’ll toss in another Author’s Note (with Spoiler Warning!) to let you know when these events take place, because I have no time to rewrite them within my story. In the form of dreams, some other events will be alluded to, that take place in further issues of New X-Men. For those who want to know more, please refer to these issues as well for details: “Assault on Weapon Plus” (# 142 – 145) and “Planet X” (# 146 – 150).

That having been said, it may be a bumpy canon ride from here on out – sorry about that! My story will lead up to the riot and murder, jump over them, and then resume afterward. Fair warning, here be spoilers! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)

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She watched in frustrated silence as Scott’s expression softened, his thoughts obviously wandering. Beast and Emma, in contrast, were paying close attention to Professor Xavier’s words – until her presence at the door made him pause.

“Yes, Jean? Did you need me?” Charles asked.

“No, and I’m sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to let you all know I was leaving – I’m meeting my friend Nicole for dinner. She found a new spot in Mt. Vernon she wanted to try, after conquering all of the bistros in Manhattan.”

“Oh, yes, and I hope you have an enjoyable evening.” In her mind, he added, I trust she can help you relax? You’ve been all too stressed lately, after our talks…

“Thank you, Charles. Nicole and I always have a wonderful time.” Don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll feel better by the time I come home.

Frowning at the lax expression on her husband’s face as he stared out the window, Jean turned on her heels and left, heading for the garage. He didn’t even seem to care if she was there or not and it pierced the guilt she had almost begun to feel.

Jean didn’t bother to take her car. Enveloping herself in a burst of telekinetic power, she rose up from the driveway outside of the building and shot into the clouds.

~ ~ ~

With a yelp, she felt them topple off the edge of the bed. Growling, Logan pulled her over him so that it was his shoulders and back that slammed into the floor. Jean laughed, loving the indignant look on his face. She started to get up from where she had landed, plastered over him, but he grabbed her arms in his strong hands and held her still.

“Where ya goin’?”

“Back onto the bed? We can’t just –” She swallowed her protest when he lifted his head to suckle on a nipple.

Releasing it to look up at her, he grinned, displaying fangs. “Said ya wanted t’ know how tha other half lives. It’s either fuck me on this grimy carpet, or we go teach ya how t’ bar fight.”

“Are those my only options?” she teased.

“We could always go upstate an’ hunt deer – in tha nude, with our bare hands.”

“I’ll take the carpet.”

“Figured ya’d see it my way.”

Jean stared down into his eyes, entranced by the fierce passion and humor shining in them. They had been rough, as bestial as he needed to be, and then they had been slow and soft, making love in a way she never had before him. She’d spent hours in this room, looking at his beautiful strong body, touching it, tasting it – but she never tired of watching his eyes.

Without looking away, they let hands and bodies find each other again. She felt tears well up as he entered her, thrusting beneath her, until the blue jewels of his eyes closed slowly as sensation and heat overwhelmed him.

One hand on his chest could feel the pounding of his heart, as the other pressed her palm to the side of his face. Her thumb caressed the soft black sideburn there.

His hands stroked her so skillfully that she knew he could have brought her to climax only by that touch. Yet with every thrust, every slow grind she gave his hips, the passion they made took their breath away.

Still, she found she wanted more. As she had done once in the cave, she connected to his mind on a deeper level, allowing a closeness she had both craved and missed. He felt the change and she knew the difference for him was shocking – almost as if they’d become one being.

“Oh God,” he whispered, all rough teasing forgotten. “I love ya, Jean…”

“Logan, look at me.” When those eyes locked onto hers, her tears began to fall.

“What’s wrong –”

“Shhh … I just want to see your eyes, see how you look at me.”

There were facets in them, multiple shades of blue, with a few flecks of amber and slivers of green. The other colors set off the blues until they gleamed.

His fingers rose to catch her tears, bringing them to his lips. When she leaned in to kiss him, he rolled them over. Before his weight came down, he left her, but only to lift her in his arms.

Laying her down gently in the devastated bed, he took her foot in his hands and kissed the instep, then the arch. Setting it down farther from the other foot, he picked that one up next and kissed it.

Falling to his chest between her legs, he pressed his lips first up one calf and then the other. His tongue flicked at the undersides of her knees before she bent and raised them, spreading them wide. Her fingers slid into his hair, gently tugging to move him, but he wasn’t in a hurry anymore. Urgency had been melted into something else, something she’d never experienced before.

His blunt nails ran up the inside of her thighs, his tongue and lips following after, first one and then the other. Catching her hands, he used his thumbs to press gently on her wrists, below the pinky fingers. She didn’t understand why, until the careful but steady pressure began to intensify her senses and her lust.

The care he took in touching her, in giving her pleasure, and the things she sensed in his thoughts, made her feel … worshipped. Yet it was his need for her, as always, that sparked her passion, spiraling it beyond expression.

Hot breath on her shuddering skin, his fingers caressing lightly below her navel, he whispered, “Lie t’ me, Jeannie … just this once…”

She covered her face with her hands, conflicted, afraid to hurt him.

“It’s okay … I know ya don’t. I know. I just … please…”

His mouth was rising higher, heated breath brushing her sex as muscular arms circled her thighs. In the moment that he began to suckle her, she gasped out a cry. What she sensed from him then made her feel safe, protected … and gave her courage.

Eyes squeezed shut under her hands, she breathed out, “Logan, I … I love you.” She gasped again at his groan as his tongue lapped, and then thrust into her.

Hands falling hard to his shoulders, her fingers grasped the back of his neck, trying to bring him to her. He rose at her urging but didn’t enter her again. She felt his hard cock against her thigh and tried to shift, but his arms blocked her shoulders and held her still.

The kiss nearly stole away her mind, her thoughts separating like smoke as his tongue twined on hers. It was almost more than she could bear without him in her. He kept her on edge until she thought she might scream, and then thrust up into her hard, all at once. A few fast pumps to quiet her, and then he settled into that rhythm that he could maintain forever, yet would only keep until inspired to change it – speed, angle, or urgency altering to make her come over and over. She knew he could exhaust her long before he was close to losing control of his own passion.

His fingers were touching her throat, the pad of the thumb of his other hand pressing carefully into the center of her chest between her breasts, somehow making her pleasure double, her stomach flutter. Then he began other tricks he’d never done to her before, and finally, on the waves of another climax, she did scream, but he took her mouth and swallowed the cry.

Only when she was boneless and half mad with pleasure, did he begin to pay attention to his own release. His thrusts grew urgent, and she tried to raise her knees higher to allow him to push deeper. His hands gripped her behind the knees and lifted them up, his back bowed as he shoved himself as far as he could into her, their bodies slick with sweat.

Logan drew in a long breath and she knew he was scenting her, drowning in her. Opening her eyes, she met his – and the light in them stole her breath all over again. He held her gaze until his body convulsed, his seed spilling. Then the blue jewels closed tight, his mouth opening, the tendons standing out on his neck as every muscle tensed and then shuddered.

Unconcerned about any neighbors, he let his shout become a bestial roar before he collapsed – falling onto his palms on either side her head. Panting, he looked down at her; his expression and mind were open, welcoming her, his slight smile vulnerable.

She reached for him, wanting to feel his weight, and he lay on her for a moment, shuddering again when her hands stroked and kneaded the muscles of his back.

Finally rolling to her side, he gathered her up into his arms, holding her close. His lips pressed to her forehead, the kiss whispering over her skin.

They lay silent for a long time, letting their breathing slow. When Jean could feel his heart thumping more calmly under her hand, she stirred. Lifting her face to his, she kissed him lightly, feeling his lips smile under hers.

“It’s got to be getting late,” she whispered. “I should get back.”

“Bit cold out now t’ fly,” he said, dropping his head to kiss her throat. “Lemme drive ya.”

“That won’t look a little odd? I’m supposed to be out with Nicole. No one would ever mistake you for leggy fashion designer.”

“Not even if I stood on tiptoe?”

“Also, she’d never ride a Harley and even with proper lubricant, I may still be too sore to sit on one. It wouldn’t really be any warmer, either.” Groaning, she moved back to get his mouth off of her skin. “Don’t – start that again, or we’ll be crawling back at dawn with a lot of explaining to do.”

“They all heard me leave hours before ya did. Told Beast an’ Angel I was headin’ int’ tha Bronx.”

“Well, at least you weren’t lying.”

“My point bein’, ya had too much wine an’ needed a lift. Yer friend was gonna call ya a taxi, but then I happened by, checkin’ up on ya. Yer eatery was on tha way home from my ratty bar. See? I can lie just fine.”

“First, let’s get out of this evil bed and get cleaned up … then we can discuss your lie further.” She extricated herself from his embrace and stood.

Grunting, he rolled over onto his stomach, throwing his arms up around his head. “Ladies first on tha shower.”

Sighing, Jean picked her way through their strewn clothing, snatching what she’d worn on the climb up to this dump of a room as she went.

~ ~ ~

By the time she shut off the hair dryer that was nailed to the wall and emerged dressed, Logan was sound asleep and snoring like a buzz saw.

Looking down at him fondly as she put on her boots, she blew him a kiss and slipped out, making sure the lock clicked behind her. For a few moments, she leaned against the door and took a couple of deep breaths, trying to get her thoughts and her story straight before returning home to a den of telepaths.

Jean drew on her coat as she walked down the stairs, shivering in the chilled night air. As she walked by the motorcycle, her fingers stroked down the leather seat. Then a voice spoke over her head, making her jump.

“Sure, sneak off just t’ pet tha scoot. I’m thinkin’ ‘bout gettin’ jealous, Red.”

He was dressed, if a little rumpled, and had obviously skipped the shower. He buckled his belt as he came down the stairs, cowboy boots stomping with uncharacteristic noise. It was almost an apology for having snuck up behind her, and it made her smile.

“I was going to let you stay and sleep.”

“I was gonna give ya a ride home. ‘Sides, if I slept too long in a hole like that, I’d wake up with fleas. One o’ tha disadvantages o’ tha pay first no-tell motels.”

“It was your choice. I suggested the Waldorf Astoria.”

“Wouldn’t fit in with yer backwoods education; plus, they know ya there. Ain’t nobody gonna mistake me fer Slim neither, even in tha dark an’ blind drunk.”

Passing her, he mounted the motorcycle, put up the kickstand with his boot heel and settled the heavy machine between his legs. The shocks groaned just a little under his weight. His thick and gorgeous arms crossed over his chest, bunching the yellow X on the black t-shirt.

Her eyes traveling over his tight leather pants, she answered, “I’m sure I left some hot water up there.”

“Folks are used t’ seein’ me drag home smellin’ like booze, stogies, an’ sex; nobody’ll bat an eye, trust me.”

“They’re not used to seeing me like that – and Nicole’s not that kind of girl.”

“What a shame,” he answered, grinning. “Had yer shower, though, so not a prob.”

“You’re not playing fair, sitting like that.” She loved the sight of his muscular body holding up that brute of a machine, and all the old distaste and fear of his rougher edges had long since begun to fade.

“I know – why’d ya think I sat on it? C’mon, Jeannie – let yer hair down, let it blow. I can always drop ya off a mile out an’ let ya fly in, if ya’d rather.”

Shaking her head, she approached and accepted his hand to help her up behind him.

“Whattaya think now, yer ass good t’ ride?”

“I suspect I will survive the experience. Did you know you’re absolutely incorrigible?”

“Yup. Tuck in an’ hang on.”

He drove up the Hutchinson River Parkway and then changed over to Interstate 684 and on into Westchester County and Salem Center. At the rate of speed they were going, they wouldn’t be too late getting home.

Jean held him tightly, alternating between laying her head on his shoulder and pressing her face against his furry cheek. She sighed when he finally pulled over on a smaller road and stopped, the noise and vibration of the machine still reaching into her bones.

Turning his head, Logan kissed her. “Gotta twenty minute trip from here, Jeannie, as tha telekinetic crow flies.”

Jean leaned in and kissed him back, letting it deepen just to hear the thrumming soft growl of lust deep in his throat. Escaping his mouth before she ended up pulling him off of the motorcycle and into a convenient ditch, she murmured, “Maybe I did have too much wine with dinner?”

Grinning, he made the Harley jump forward and swung into the road again. Inspired by her tightening grip and shout of laughter, he put on another burst of speed until they almost were flying.

The mansion was mostly dark when they pulled into the garage. As soon as Logan turned off the engine, he gave her his arm to help her down and then set the machine on its kickstand.

Patting uselessly at the tangled mess of her hair, she watched him dismount, but when he came up to embrace her, she stepped back.

“We have to be careful,” she whispered, trying to placate the fresh spark of his frustration. A little louder, she added, “Thanks for picking me up. Goodnight, Logan.”

He didn’t move or respond, and she retreated from both his silence and his warmth while she was still capable of walking away.

She didn’t hear the garage door open and shut again until she was halfway up the stairs.

Jean reached her suite, her tale of a wonderful evening ready, but her husband wasn’t there. A quick scan told her he wasn’t even in the mansion. Touching Beast’s thoughts in his lab, she reached out to him.

Hank? Where is Scott?

Oh, hello, Jean, did you enjoy your evening out?

Yes, Nicole is an amazing woman. Scott? He’s not here?

He left on a mission with Warren. Sorry – I assumed you knew.

No, I didn’t. Thanks, Hank. Goodnight.

Goodnight, my dear.

Abruptly irrationally angry, she stripped off her coat and boots and tossed them across the sitting room. Staring at the coat where it had fallen, she finally forced herself to move, to get ready for bed.

~ ~ ~

She woke after hours of fitful tossing and turning and lay in bed in silence for another hour before rising. Pulling her robe over her nightdress, she went through the empty suite and out into the hall.

Entering the men’s residence wing, she stopped outside of Logan’s door. Touching his sleeping mind lightly, she was surprised to find him in the grip of a strange nightmare.

Testing the doorknob and finding it unlocked, she slipped inside the room and closed the door. Assuming he would scent her in the room, she moved to his bedside.

Her hand was just reaching out to touch his shoulder, when he gave a shout and jerked up, the claws snapping out with a ~snikt~. She leapt back, barely in time to avoid injury. Hands on her chest, she stared down at him, her breath coming fast.

“Jeannie … what … are ya doin’? Ya know better – I coulda hurt ya!”

“I’m sorry. I sensed you where having a bad dream – I wanted to wake you.”

With a ~snakt~, the claws retracted, and he rubbed his face with his palms. “Fuck. Nearly stabbed ya…” His hair was still damp from a shower, his eyes haunted when he looked at her.

“What were you dreaming? The emotions were … bad.”

He shook his head and sighed. His knees rose under a sheet damp with sweat, and he rested his wrists on them. “Rather not jaw ‘bout that, Red. Whattaya doin’ here? All worried ‘bout appearances before, weren’t ya?”

“I was sleeping alone – or not sleeping… Logan, I’m so tired of being alone.”

“I’m tha quick fix fer that, remember? Unless ya wanna chuck it all; then I’d be happy t’ be tha long fix – if it was public.”

“Can’t I just stay – for a quick fix?”

He knew it was a bad idea as well as she did, but he pulled back the sheet without a word. She lay beside him when he stretched out and sighed softly as he held her close. Her hand stroked down his stomach, but his whispering voice stopped it.

“Jubes said they went t’ Allentown, won’t be gone long.” Picking up her hand, he brought it to his lips and kissed her fingers. “Just relax, Jeannie … sleep if ya can. I’ll wake ya when I hear tha jet.”

~ ~ ~

Jean realized she’d been holding her breath as her latest class filed out. She kept her private thoughts buried under a windswept world of snow at all times now. It was the only way to even hope to keep a clandestine tryst a secret in a house full of telepaths. She knew Charles felt the clever block and it left both of them feeling awkward around each other – they were used to a comfortable mental connection through most of the day. Emma never tried to pry, for which she was grateful.

The telepathic students were another matter. They often pushed boundaries in all areas of life, trying to test and try their abilities. She was relieved she only had this one class with them. Most of their education in mindreading and blocking was Emma’s responsibility.

She turned to erase the board. Her last two classes of the day had been cancelled for the school’s field trip into New York. Only a few students were staying behind and Hank was in charge of them.

Jean rolled her shoulders and sighed. She was supposed to talk with Scott, but at the last minute, Charles had asked if she could spare him for the trip. One look at her husband’s expression and she knew he wanted to go. All at once, it just didn’t seem important; at least they hadn’t asked her. Herding excited students in a huge busy city would not help her relax.

A crunch startled her but a breath later she sensed him behind her. Logan had claimed the apple that had been left on her desk. “Trying to prove you can sneak up on me without being noticed? You convinced me of that in the rose garden.”

“Movin’ quiet is my natural state, Jeannie. If ya didn’t keep yer brains on lockdown, ya’d sense me quicker.”

“I thought you got drafted to go into the city.”

“I ain’t nobody’s first pick fer chaperone duty on tha town. Cyke’s too worried I’d take tha older boys off an’ teach ‘em how t’ win bar fights.”

“Did you know I was staying?”

“Nope, Hank just told me. He’s out at tha pool with tha bunch that couldn’t go. They turned tha heat on t’ go swimmin’. I’m ‘sposed t’ ask ya if ya wanna burger or a dog.”

“Neither.” She paused, staring at him. He didn’t comment, too used to her attention splitting off to scan the school and grounds. “Are you going back out there?”

“Not unless ya are. Ain’t a soul in tha house right now, not fer hours. Pool crowd’s gonna watch movies in tha home theater when they come in.”

Jean turned to see him leaning a hip against the corner of her desk. He took another bite of the apple and winked at her. He was dressed in loose black jogging pants and barefoot. His white undershirt was clean but bore tell-tale holes in places that were stretched open over his muscles.

“For hours?” She couldn’t help the slight smile that crept onto her lips.

He held out the apple. “Temptin’, huh? Wanna bite?”

Moving to stand in front of him, she slid her fingers over his and held them as she bit into the fruit, letting the juice wet her lips. His kiss melted her into him. He broke it to feed her the last few bites of fruit. Tossing the core into the trash bin by the desk, he backed away from her toward the door.

“Where?” she asked.

“My room – nobody left here has tha guts t’ bug me on a night off.”

“I’ll meet you in a few minutes.”

He gave her a nod and turned away. As she closed up the room, she couldn’t hear him going down the hall or up the stairs.

Jean went to her suite to change and freshen up. He loved the soft knit dresses, so she chose one in dark blue that had sleeves and set it on the bed. With a smile, she slipped her panties and bra off and found a set to wear that she didn’t care for much. She pulled the dress on over her head and then brushed her hair. Not showering seemed strange to her, but she knew he’d want her to hurry more than he’d care about that.

In the bathroom, she stared for a moment at Scott’s things on one side of the double sinks. A sadness welled up inside, but she pushed it down. He could have chosen to be here, to put us first. He chose to run off away from that. Down the hall is a man who loves me with everything he is. I may not know what I want, but I do know I’m sick of being alone.

Walking off barefoot, she closed the suite door and went to Logan’s room. The closer she got, the more she wanted it and knowing he would know only made it more intense.

Her knock was soft. “Logan?” she called as she opened the door. Closing it quietly and leaning back against it, she saw him standing by the window. When his head turned to look at her, she opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t as she watched him stride swiftly across the room.

He never spoke; he grasped her upper arms and kissed her, his body pressing hers into the wood. She clung to him and ground her hips against him, gasping when he broke the kiss to put his mouth on her throat.

“Now,” she whispered in his ear. “Right here.” The growl she got and the slide of his hands to shove her dress up made her groan. Two fingers hooked in her panties on either side. “Cut it, rip it, I don’t care…” She cried out when he tore it and then she reached to fumble with his waistband.

Logan yanked his cock out, the pants barely clinging to his ass. His fingers found her wet and ready. They struck the door hard as he gripped her leg behind the knee and lifted it. She buried her face in his wild long black hair and when his cock shoved up inside her, she opened her mouth and bit his shoulder to keep from crying out.

Jean groped for his mind as he thrust, the feral nature hard to grasp even as he opened to her eagerly. I want to know what you feel… It swallowed her when she connected to his need, the physical and emotional sensations and curling tension gathering in her body. She felt how his body experienced hers. Pushing for more, she clung to him harder and came instantly when she almost became him.

Logan growled low and hungrily, drawing his breath in deep with a hiss. As he began to come, she did cry out at the pleasure of it from two sources clashing in her body and in his.

They both staggered briefly, and then he swept her up in his arms and carried her to his bed. She watched as he stripped down and then stripped her. Lying there in her bra, she whispered, “Cut it with your claws…”

~Snikt~

He stared at her, drinking in her lust as a single claw slipped under the strings between the cups and slit them. They fell away to bare her breasts and he crawled over her to suckle the nipples, one after the other. He was going to pleasure her until he could … mount her … again. The thought was his and while it might have driven her away before, now it only made her more eager.

~Snakt~

After only a few minutes of his tongue thrusting inside her, he was ready again. He didn’t ask, he didn’t need to – she shifted, he rose and entered her again and they clutched at each other, their mouths frantic and greedy.

Time blurred, her world shrinking down mercifully to one room and one tireless lover. She hadn’t noticed the changing light outside as the sunset painted red and orange right over the bright blue of day.

~ ~ ~

Returning from his bathroom, she paused to glance at his books, smiling again at the titles that would have surprised most people who had ever seen or met him. Reminded of the small altar across the room, she glanced at him. “Would you mind if I burned some incense for her? I don’t know if that is … proper?”

He nodded to her without answering.

Jean turned and knelt naked before the altar, feeling a little oddly self-conscious with the smiling photo of the beautiful and regal Mariko seemingly watching her fondly. She set a cone of cherry incense in the small bowl in front of the frame and lit it. Shutting the little cabinet, she looked at the photo.

I’m trying, she told the woman. Tears pricked her eyes as the sweet smoke rose.

“She woulda liked ya…” he whispered. “She took t’ Madelyn in an instant. Hell, she liked Rogue right off tha bat – way before I quit growlin’ long ‘nuff t’ give tha poor girl a chance.”

“Madelyn and Rogue weren’t leaving your bed to pay their respects.”

“What happened t’ Mi’ko-chan had nothin’ t’ do with ya, darlin’; yer spirit, yer dedication t’ tha fight – yeah, she woulda loved ya straight off. She had a gift fer readin’ folks’ hearts.”

Jean sighed, turning her head to look at him over her shoulder. “She saw yours; it took me so long to see it … beneath the rest…”

“Jeannie…?” He held his hands out to her.

She rose and went to sit on the bed in front of him, taking his hands in hers. He leaned in to kiss her and when the tears fell, he kissed them away. “We don’t know when they’ll get back,” she whispered.

“Sun ain’t even down yet – we got time.” He kissed her neck and down to her collarbone. One hand released hers to caress her back, the fingers slowly exploring below the base of her tailbone. The hand that still held hers tightened their grip. “Damn, darlin’, I just can’t stop…”

“You’re afraid if you let me leave this room, it could be a while before the next time.” She gasped as a fingertip rubbed gently at the tight muscle of her anus. It had been good that way in the shabby motel, easier than in the cave…

“Am I wrong?” he whispered.

“No… It’s difficult to hide this. I…”

“Ya ain’t gotta explain, darlin’; I know what I signed on fer.” His exploring fingers moved to her hip and stilled. “Ya wanna try an’ fix yer marriage or ya woulda dumped ‘im by now. Even if ya can’t fix it, ya might not be ready t’ take up with me. Hellfire, maybe yer never gonna be an’ ain’t never gonna want me that way. I can’t change how ya feel no matter how much I wish I could.”

“I know we have a lot in common, especially here with the school, but it seems there’s so much more that isn’t easy to compromise on.” Jean took a deep breath and let it out slow. “This is an insane and unfair question, considering I’m the one wearing the scarlet letter here, but … could you be faithful to me? You don’t bring anyone here; you just … leave and find them.”

Logan smiled. “Ya heard too many infamous tales o’ tha walkabouts an’ road pussy o’ tha single Canucklehead. If we were a pair, Jeannie, in tha open, ya might find me less antsy. Rest assured I can keep it in my britches if ya stake a claim on it. T’ be honest, a lot o’ that restlessness comes from havin’ t’ watch ya with Slim. Oh I gotta wanderlust, no lie ‘bout that – but a happy critter with ‘is mate in a warm den ain’t gonna need t’ wander so much. Ya might be surprised what I’d be willin’ t’ curtail t’ make ya mine.”

“That’s … one of the problems we have, Logan. If I try to change you into something you’re not, you could end up resenting me. If you had someone you could go traveling with, who loved the wilds as much and could let their hair down more…”

“I ain’t in love with nobody like that, Jeannie – I’m in love with ya, plain an’ simple. I can wait, an’ if it never happens … then I’ll just hafta cross that bridge. Ya know, I’d already fallen fer ya before I met Mi’ko-chan. She was even more proper an’ cultured than ya ever wanted t’ be. I knew it wasn’t in tha cards t’ ever have ya, so I let ‘er in an’ ended up so in love it’ll probly never die – even though she … did.”

“Our enemies destroyed your dream of marrying her, but later, you separated. I wasn’t around for that…”

“I wanted t’ take out ‘er father’s criminal mess my way, but she wouldn’t lemme do that. Tha slow an’ honorable way o’ doin’ it ‘erself got ‘er killed. She wanted tha samurai, not tha beast. She was willin’ t’ gimme time t’ get there, as a wife, then or later. Then we both just … ran outta time.”

“You did become the samurai for her. The others told me.”

“I did, yeah … or part o’ me did. I learned that no matter how hard I try t’ deny my nature, it’s still there. Sometimes it came out in ways that strained us t’ a pretty thin line, but we were workin’ it out, mostly on opposite sides o’ tha world. If I ever run int’ somebody that’s more like me an’ wants me, maybe I could love ‘em, but it seems t’ me I keep fallin’ fer ladies that challenge me t’ step up an’ be a better man. What if that’s what I need? ‘Nother wild thing like me would probly just get me stuck bein’ a beast half tha time, too damn dumb t’ notice that he could be more.”

“Logan… You are more. Your feral nature has merit too, and the samurai is a part of who you are, just as the beast is; none of us are one thing only.”

“Now an’ then, I think I try t’ be things cuz I dunno who I am at my core. Always feel so rough on tha edges, such a blank fucked up slate. Sometimes I wonder how ya can stand it, yer so t’gether most o’ tha time. Me? Don’t even know my own name. ‘Logan’ was on a dog tag when I woke up outta tha red haze. It was all I had.”

“I … feel lost now, too. You are so good to me, such a generous and astounding lover. Yet we were great friends first and I can’t ignore how this could hurt you. You say you’ve loved me for so long; don’t you ever get tired of waiting for me?”

He leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Been ‘bout fed up a few times, yeah. Then I see or scent ya, hear ya laugh … an’ I just seem t’ end up waitin’ a li’l more. It’s a choice I make, Jeannie – not like ya sentenced me t’ this.”

“I don’t want to hurt you. It has to be like torture. I wish I knew what to do.”

“Tha others, tha women I meet… Dunno if I don’t deserve a li’l o’ this sweet torture o’ yers. Tha ones that just wanna tear offa piece, that’s a game, but tha ones that get hurt cuz they want more? I can’t seem t’ give that, but I take tha ghost o’ it fer comfort an’ they … take it like I promised somethin’, an’ in a way, it’s true.”

“This isn’t penance for that. It’s my mess and you stumbled into it because I pulled you in. You have your own troubles and I should have respected that, but it’s done now. I’m so afraid of telling you I could try … because I’m already terrified that I’d make it worse for you. Your anger, the rages… You don’t need me toying with you because I feel lonely and abandoned. As your friend, if someone else treated you this way – I’d tell you they were awful and that you should leave them and go be happy.”

“Tha anger…” He sighed. “Sometimes I need tha bar fights an’ tha battles, t’ work out tha rage an’ tha shame o’ doin’ what I do, o’ bein’ what I am or not knowin’ who I am. I got no right t’ mix up some defenseless stranger in that, but ya know me, probly better than I do; yer strong, even when ya think yer not. I guess … I guess I dunno what tha fuck I’m tryin’ t’ say…”

“You … feel safe … loving me?”

“Even when ya pull my heart out an’ tuck it back in later upside-down … yeah, I do.”

“You can’t help not being able to love them. We love whom we love.”

“Been obsessed with a thought lately, can’t remember where it came from – book, song, play, no clue, but it stuck. ‘Do not sow where ya cannot expect t’ stay.’ When I know it ain’t just fer kicks t’ ‘em an’ I got no intention o’ stayin’ when tha sun comes up … then I ain’t bein’ an honorable man at all. Needin’ comfort an’ release, that ain’t no excuse.”

“I’m not sure if you’re talking about you or me, now,” she whispered, “but I know you are an honorable man. We all make mistakes, do things we regret.”

“I ain’t doin’ tha honorable thing with those women that I know have fallen fer me by a long shot, but it’s … easier t’ pick up an’ leave than explain t’ ‘em that I already gave my heart away. Ya can try t’ give it back, Jeannie, but I dunno how t’ stop lovin’ ya. I’ve tried… It won’t stop.”

She fought the urge to cry, but he already knew before the tears even welled to fall. He caught them on his fingertips and wiped them away. His mind and heart were open to her, all but laid at her feet as he gave her comfort, gave her his body, and asked for so little in return. In that moment, he kissed her so softly that she was afraid she might be able to do anything to stay with him – but she knew it wouldn’t work.

“There are many different kinds of love,” she whispered.

“Hush, darlin’ … it’s okay. We can have this fer now, like ya wanted, whenever ya need. Lemme ‘pologize now though, if I get frustrated an’ short tempered; tha beast in me already feels yer ‘is, ‘specially with no other rivals touchin’ ya, an’ instinct can be a bitch. Havin’ ya is almost worse, ups tha stakes more’n I can cope with some days, but not havin’ ya … dunno if I can do that, neither. Ya gotta hear me, though. If ya go back t’ ‘im, or just find someone new, want ya t’ be happy; yer far more capable o’ actually managin’ that than me.”

“I want the same for you. If I can’t … if I can’t…” Jean fell against him in tears and he held her close, his fingers gently stroking her hair.

“I don’t think happy is in tha cards fer me, darlin’. A man that don’t know ‘isself ain’t gonna know how t’ be happy. Guess I’ve just been hopin’ that if ya could want me, ya might love me and maybe then we could figure that out t’gether. Which is insane; nobody can fix a person but that person ‘isself. I been at it awhile now, though, an’ I ain’t gettin’ too far on my own.”

Jean kissed him and wiped at her face. “I asked Ororo once why she goes flying in thunderstorms; she said the chaos and power of it can soothe when no softer comforts can.” She moved away from him to lie on her stomach. She swallowed her tears as much as she could and gently took his wrist to move his hand where she wanted him. Logan, please … give this to both of us.

His hand cupped her ass, his thumb sweeping between to touch. She felt the instant lust sparking in his mind and emotions, but sadness was there, too.

“If ya can’t even say it in my head – maybe ya shouldn’t do this just cuz ya dug it outta my depths that I like doin’ it…”

“I want it, too. I told you – it’s something I can give you that I’ve never shared with anyone else.”

“Could face me, Jeannie … ain’t gotta be on yer belly.”

“I need it this way and I think you do, too. Be the beast for me, Logan. I want to be pinned and filled, I want to be what you need … in a way that I … can.” Looking back at him, she flushed with guilt. “It feels wrong to ask for more…”

“Ya wanna be in my head. Ain’t tha safest place at times, darlin’.”

“I need it – to feel truly close to you…”

Logan moved to lie between her legs, his fingers gentle as he exposed her. His tongue slipped out to lick and tease, slowly working inside. After everythin’, Jean darlin’, I’m still willin’ t’ give ya all I am. Wish it was everythin’ ya needed.

Guilt and shame warring with need and lust, she reached to connect and bind them. It was far more intimate than the feeling of him carefully opening her body to accept him. The pleasure began this time the moment he entered her, his weight pressing her down. She grabbed and twisted her hair out of the way when she sensed his impulse to bite. The fangs opened to hold the nape of her neck, to hold her still.

She was afraid to push further now, to enter his mind so deep that she felt herself as him, thrusting inside her. It was too addicting and if she allowed it too much, she might never be able to stop.

A thought lanced through her and she gasped. Logan … when I go deep, when I did that, could you … feel me?

Yeah, but I was me then. It was diff’rent when I was … tha animal…

No, you don’t understand. I reveled in that too, in the intensity of it. He didn’t answer, but she felt the doubt and his self-loathing hurt her. I can show you, she offered. How you are in those moments and how it made me feel. Seeking an understanding that words couldn’t give him, she showed him the memories … and the emotions – both hers, and his.

Confusion clouded his thoughts the moment it began. His mind didn’t close and it didn’t fight her, but as it often happened with him, it simply became awash with things she couldn’t read, touch, or understand. Stumbling into near-panic, she groped for his conscious mind and struck a tangle of damage, dark and clustered, and sharp as shining black thorns.

Logan? Oh, God, I’ve hit something, a block or a trigger… Charles taught me that triggers are set by trauma, a breaking of the shields his mind has developed in order to function within the damage. The mental blocks that feel alien were done to him by the Weapon X project. In a desperate attempt to cope with it all, his subconscious formed it into symbols and a telepath can see them, even if that telepath can’t interpret them. If I hadn’t formed such an intimate connection, I would have been expelled from his mind by the sheer chaos of this. Charles is the only one who has been able to understand what he sees and use it to help heal him. What if I do more damage trying to get out?

All around her, the black thorn hedge grew like a trap in some horrid fairy tale. Glinting inside it was metal – silver wire formed into webs that spanned the branches. Strange objects hung from the webs at intervals, swaying with menace like caches of living meat to feed unseen monsters.

Logan, please stop this… He didn’t respond and her sense of him grew clouded. Come back to me… Be who you are. She heard the growl before she saw it – the pale shape of him crouched among the thorns. Yes, please come to me, I need you, and I’m … trying not to be afraid of this place…

The beast slipped out, one of the strange hanging things nudging his shoulder as he passed under the wires. To her horror, she realized they were how the animal in him viewed the claymore mines of an All-American that were strung throughout his fractured and missing memories by the part of him that had once been a soldier – an aspect of him she had never met.

The sound he made as he reached her was like a wolf reassuring a pup as she felt his consciousness sink into a deeper, older layer of self. As it did, the nightmarish thorns and wires faded into a simple dark forest.

Jean’s astral form in his mind knelt to greet him. He sniffed her and then rubbed his head against her shoulder.

Who am I? Jean held her breath.

Mate…

Moving slowly, she lowered her body to offer herself. She couldn’t feel either of them in the physical world, but hoped this could help her bring him back to himself. With a hungry growl, he mounted her from behind.

Fear snaked into lust, but it didn’t sour the pleasure, it intensified it. All at once, she couldn’t stop herself. As gently as she could, she followed the connection deeper and what she found there was savage, vicious, with too limited a self-awareness to be called cruel. It did not encompass sentiment beyond survival – to eat, drink, find shelter … to fight and protect, and to mate… The fear wavered with the knowledge that the beast was a natural, if deadly, creature and far less terrifying than the alien defenses of his wounded mind.

Why should I feel afraid of this entity? To him, I am mate, and he will protect his mate, even from himself.

She sifted through the myriad emotions and sensations of their bonded selves and found nothing but heat, a blinding heat that burned through her. When terror erupted, it wasn’t fear of him. Eclipsing his savagery, covering it in shadows, wings of fire were spreading through her soul. It set the forest ablaze, threatening to burn the world to ashes. Her skin burst in the heat and began to melt at the sound of a piercing timeless shriek of defiant rage.

~ ~ ~

Jean woke out of the trance with a start. Still on top of her, Logan twitched and cried out, waking from the beast’s influence the moment he came inside her. With a loud ~snikt~ in her ears, the claws burst out to stab the mattress on either side of her. She winced, confused and afraid.

“Fuck…” His voice was low with fear. “Jean…” ~Snakt~. He put his hands down by the holes he’d cut and carefully withdrew from her body. Pushing himself up to sit next to her in a slump, his hands balled into fists in his lap. All of his hackles were standing up. His head lowered, the haunted blue eyes watching her through his disshevelled black hair.

What was that? He felt it, too. The moment she sat up, she reached out to touch his knee. “Logan? Are you … okay?”

He almost looked drunk. Struggling to regain control of himself, he scrubbed his face with his palms before he nodded. “Did I lose it? Yer not hurt?”

“No, I’m fine,” she whispered, “only a little rattled because I messed up. Logan, I’m so sorry. I wanted to show you a memory through our mental link, to prove I’m not afraid of your animal side. You … sort of went away and he was here, but that was my fault, I was remembering how intense it was to be with him and … I guess he heard me.”

“Tha damn beast within… Aw, hellfire. All I remember is blankin’ out in tha middle.” He shook his head as if to clear it and then froze. “Beast.”

“Yes, I know. It’s –” She startled when his hand shot out to cover her mouth.

Logan didn’t move. Slowly, she realized he was listening. She cast out a telepathic net and almost swallowed her tongue. Hank was climbing up the stairs and heading for the door. Her eyes widened when she realized she hadn’t locked it when she came in. Her telekinesis shot out and turned the latch before he reached the landing.

A soft knock sounded. “Logan? Sorry to disturb you, noticed your light was on; my batch of tykes are tucked in and Charles called, they’ll be home within the hour. If you don’t mind, keep an ear out? I’m heading down to the lab. Jean must have gone to sleep.”

Logan waited a breath and then called out, “Got it, Hank.”

“Excellent. Good night, my friend.”

Jean tracked him nearly to the lab long after Logan removed his hand, but neither of them spoke until she wilted in relief. “I have to go, I have to shower.”

“What a clusterfuck that coulda been, but – no harm, no foul. Are ya sure yer awright? Poppin’ claws at yer head sure tha fuck ain’t tha way t’ get ya t’ stop bein’ afraid o’ me.”

“I’m okay, I promise. I fell into one of your weird mental landscapes and then it meshed with … I guess what was a nightmare of mine. They blended…”

“So we both ended up in some combined freakshow nightmare trance. Not my first choice fer an excitin’ new date activity t’ share. When did it start?”

“Well, in the middle, while we were…” She ignored his raised eyebrow. “You were triggered by what I tried to show you. I ended up lost in the deep end of your trauma and I wasn’t sure how to get out.”

“So that’s where tha fear scent came from,” he muttered. When she moved to get up, he caught her wrist. “I know ya gotta go. Kiss me an’ tell me ya won’t call it quits cuz o’ tha bloody mess in my head.”

“I won’t,” she whispered. “It was my fault. I need to stop going on safari in your head. I’m still dealing with my problems and I just don’t have the same level of skills as Charles for coping with yours.”

“Ya didn’t hurt me.”

Jean sighed. “I am hurting you. I have no business doing this, any of this.”

“I don’t care, Jeannie; I need ya too much an’ it’s my choice t’ be here, t’ be whatever ya need.”

He pulled her gently closer by the wrist he still held and kissed her as if he was trying to give her his soul in the soft and seeking intimate touch. It made her want to stay, even as she heard his fearful thought that she probably wanted to run away from him entirely after all that she had seen. He didn’t know, couldn’t know, that the thing she wanted to run from was herself.

~ ~ ~

Throughout the following days, she felt Logan’s irritation and frustration as they began to smolder. Scott was staying home more on Charles’s insistence, to help alongside him as they dealt with her problems with the erratic Phoenix Force.

It had inspired her to try to talk with her husband more, though she still fell into Logan’s arms once when need and opportunity collided. She kept her distance from him around the others. She didn’t intend to be cold to him at those times, but it was confusing to feel all that she was feeling and not mess up and blow it around Charles, Emma, or even one of their telepathic students. Ororo and Hank had already commented on how preoccupied she’d become.

Finally, in self-defense, she stopped trying to make time to be with him. It hurt, but she knew a choice was coming – if she didn’t start trying to save her marriage, there would be nothing left to save.

The memories of what they’d done together burned her and it was difficult not to lead Logan on when he could scent her arousal no matter what she did.

Once, he’d baldly suggested a practice session in the Danger Room in front of Warren and Jubilee. Of course, he could pull off a perfect nonchalant air, but she had nearly babbled nervously as she declined the offer. After that, she just tried not to be alone with him at all.

Walking to the kitchen one morning, she stopped when she heard Logan’s voice in the room. Ororo was there too, with Jubilee, their backs to the hallway. Jean moved to stand near the doorway, where only Logan could see her and listened as Ororo spoke.

“I’m sorry, Logan. It was on the news yesterday while you were out. I asked Emma to confirm that it was your friend, and what her status might be after the attack.”

“What’d she say, ‘Ro?”

“It was Rooke. Chicago is buzzing these days with the news that Doctor Octavius is in the city. Someone had snapped a photo of him and sold it to a news station, and the young woman he was carrying off was Rooke. Emma said she hasn’t been admitted to any hospital in the area, and the mind she sensed near the girl could only be Octavius.”

“Crap, Wolvie – what if he really hurt her bad? I want to come with you!”

“No, Jubilation – I ain’t riskin’ ya ‘round that crackpot. I’m goin’ out there alone.” He caught Jean’s eye and added, “‘Sides, stayin’ here’s drivin’ me nuts. Gotta chance t’ do some carvin’ on a guy who both deserves it an’ can take it – that’s gettin’ rare these days.”

Ororo’s back stiffened as she crossed her arms over her chest. “This man is insane, Logan. Perhaps I could –”

“Don’t start, Stormy. Tell ya what, ya wanna help? Rip tha jet outta Slim’s greedy paws an’ drop me an’ tha scoot off at O’Hare; faster I get there, faster I can find Rooke.”

“Very well,” Ororo replied, “but keep in mind that Doctor Octavius can be a dangerous opponent – even for you. This girl has many abilities and strengths; she would be quite difficult to kill. If he has managed to seriously injure her –”

Logan’s hands fisted, the shining tips of his claws tearing the skin between the knuckles. “Gonna slice tha bastard int’ high-tech sushi if she ain’t in one piece!”

“Can I at least ride in the jet over there, if I stay with Storm?”

“Said no, Jubes.”

Crestfallen and worried, the girl knew it wouldn’t help to argue further. Unafraid of his ire, Jubilee slipped between his fists and hugged him fiercely. “Be careful, ‘kay, Wolvie, and bring Rooke back if you can? When will you be back?”

Without looking away from Jean, he replied, “Dunno – but don’t hold yer breath.”

~ ~ ~

Jean sat in her chair in the control booth, her fingers lax on the board. Through the glass, Rogue was running a junior class through a snow-swept plain.

Mindee, one of the more gifted young telepaths, found the enemy mutant, but Jean had tuned out as the program wrapped, forgetting to end it. Staring at the distant black mouth of the mountain cave, her thoughts had drifted far away.

Abruptly, the substitute teacher flew up to the control booth window and knocked on it with a fist. “Earth ta Phoenix – wake up in there, sugah, we’re all done down here. Ah’m ready ta ditch rug rat duty, too.”

Shaking her head, Jean tried to smile. “Sorry, Rogue.” She began flipping switches and typing in codes. The room returned to normal and the outer door unsealed.

As the students filed out, their teacher came up in the elevator. “Ah’m gonna go get lunch with Remy at Harry’s Hideout – wanna come along?”

“Oh, no, that’s okay – thanks, but … you two should be alone. Three’s a crowd, right?”

“It’s lunch, Jean – don’ make it a romantic getaway.”

“I was going to grab something in the kitchen and work that bug out of the program you found this morning.”

“Fine, sugah, fine – jus’ don’ be ‘all work, no play’ forever, huh?”

“I won’t, don’t worry.”

Shaking her head, Rogue turned and entered the elevator. “Startin’ ta worry, sugah – you gotta take care of yourself a tad ‘stead of tryin’ ta do everythin’ for everybody, all th’ time.”

Jean nodded and smiled until the elevator doors shut. Leaning back in the chair, she closed her eyes.

Scott is still distant, unless he’s working with Charles to ‘fix’ me. Logan’s been gone over two weeks now – seriously angry with me when he left, too. How did I get myself into this mess?

Rising, she began to shut the session down. When she left, she didn’t bother going to the kitchen. Heading for her bed, intending on taking a nap, she veered at the top of the stairs and entered Logan’s room instead.

The bathroom and closet doors were open and she slowly wandered into the bathroom, her fingers lightly brushing over his things. The medicine chest was open too, so she reached out to close it, avoiding her reflection in the mirror.

Little differences say a lot, like no pill bottles in the medicine chest – not even aspirin, and no band-aids in sight.

She picked up the dark amber glass bottle of Fahrenheit on the counter. A designer Christian Dior cologne, it was exactly the sort of thing he would never get for himself. It had been a Christmas present she’d given him last year. Spraying a bit of it into the air, she breathed in the refreshing woody scent of balsam, honeysuckle, and sandalwood.

Setting the bottle down, her fingers brushed over a black leather case, its zippered top open.

A shaving kit? For those rare moments when he bothers to get the stubble off his chin? Now and then, he’d scrape off the familiar mutton chop sideburns and let a goatee grow, but Jean had gotten used to the sideburns. It never takes them long to grow back, at least. Everything else in here is exactly the sort of things a tough guy would have around – bare bones efficiency, zero effort on décor. Smiling, she whispered, “Scott, Remy, and Warren have almost as many hair products and styling tools as I do, but not this one…”

Drifting into the wide walk-in closet, her hands stroked down hanging sleeves and jangled heavy belt buckles on their row of hooks. Along the back, a black tux was hanging up, still in the clear plastic from their local dry cleaners. Most of the clothes, with the exception of the uniform items, were biker leathers, jeans, and t-shirts.

Cowboy boots and heavy motorcycle boots were largely scattered on the floor, instead of sitting on the wooden shoe shelf below the hanging clothes. Here and there, a crumpled shirt, pair of worn jeans, or cotton boxers lay forgotten, too.

Picking up one of the shirts, she carried it with her out into the bedroom and started looking over the bookcases. They were stuffed with an eclectic array of volumes, but most of the books were classics and collections of poetry.

Jean ran her fingers over hardcover spines of Thoreau, Poe, Coleridge, Hemmingway, Dickens, Wilde, Twain, Eliot, and Orwell. Below them, were Shakespeare, the Brontë sisters, Harper Lee, and Jane Austen. She smiled to notice Moliere, Hawthorne, Dante, Dumas, and even Tolkien.

“Everyone who ever called you an animal should take a peek at your library,” she muttered. “There isn’t even a TV or computer in this room, and you’ve never bothered with a phone. Come home, Logan. I want to have a talk with you about Hamlet and To Kill a Mockingbird. I want to know that side of you and I’m … sorry I never noticed it, years ago.”

Sighing, she took his shirt over to the rumpled bed. Lying down on it with her boots hanging off the edge, she balled the shirt in her fist at her chest and closed her eyes. Exhaustion crept into her limbs, and she let the faded scent of him from the shirt lure her into dreams of a cavern under snow.

*****************************************************************

Bowing his head for five minutes of peace before the door to the house slammed open and launched Jubilee at him, Logan took a deep breath. Chicago had been rough – but not in the way they all expected.

He heard her footsteps, and then the door. Without looking up, he got off of the Harley and set it on its kickstand.

“Wolvie! What happened?” She grabbed him in a running hug that almost rocked him back a step. Just as quickly, she released him and began her rapid-fire questioning. “You didn’t bring Rooke home with you? Is she okay? Tell me everything, huh? Spill, dude – inquiring minds want to know!”

“Long story, no, I didn’t, she’s alive, an’ can’t it wait, darlin’? I’m beat.”

“Storm said you had her drop you off in Genosha! That’s a big jump from Chicago, you know. Was Rooke in Genosha?”

“She went there, yeah. Turns out, Doc Ock brought ‘er home after she was hurt. I found that outta bit late, though, after I startin’ whalin’ on tha man.”

“Wait – he’s not the one who hurt her?”

“Nope. Magneto did. She went t’ Genosha t’ kick ‘is ass, but it didn’t quite go tha way she planned.”

“But –”

“Later, darlin’, okay? Do me a favor – tell Stormy an’ Chuck I’m home. I gotta grab some rack. Wake me up fer breakfast.”

“It’s lunchtime.”

“All tha better fer me.”

He almost groaned at the scent that was on his door when he reached his room. Stifling a sigh, he opened the door and closed it behind him, quietly turning the lock. For a moment, he just watched her as she slept on his bed in her clothes, clutching one of his t-shirts in her hand.

Moving slowly to the side of the bed, he yanked his boots off and set them by the bookcases. Jean didn’t wake when he sat on the bed, so he just stretched out beside her on his back without touching her and closed his eyes. He wasn’t quite asleep when she stirred.

“Logan,” she whispered, her hand settling on his chest. She didn’t ask any questions, and her scent was warm and inviting.

Without opening his eyes, he asked, “Wanna fresher shirt? Been in this one long ‘nuff t’ work up a good sweat. One ya got’s gone stale.”

He heard her toss the balled-up shirt at his boots, felt her shift and lean on her hands over him.

“I’ve missed you,” she said. “I’m sorry for how I behaved … ignoring and avoiding, pushing you away – it won’t happen again.”

“Yeah, it will.” When her lips bushed his, he allowed the kiss, but responded to it sluggishly, half asleep.

“Are you okay?”

“I’ll live, darlin’ – just wiped out. If ya wanna get back t’ that nap, yer welcome t’ stay, but I ain’t gonna be much good t’ ya right now.”

The softness of her lips on his forehead was a balm on his flagging spirit. “I’ll let you sleep.”

“‘Preciate it, Jeannie.” He rolled to his stomach when she got up. Abusing the pillow until it fit his face just right, he sighed into it.

“When you feel up to it…”

“Yeah?”

“Meet me in the Danger Room?”

“Be there with bells on, darlin’ – t’morrow, though.”

“Sleep well…”

As exhausted as he was, he’d feared sleep might be elusive – but her sweet scent mixed with the smell of lavender and rose covered the bed and pillow, and breathing it in was as effective as the cherry blossoms incense had ever been.

~ ~ ~

The Danger Room was full of snow and howls in the freezing wind, but the bleak landscape was empty and the door leading to it was sealed.

Inside the mountain in a large cavern, Logan lay flat on his back on bare rock near the crackling flames. Pleasure fired every nerve, making him feel elated, overwhelmed, and almost drunk at once. His eyes fluttered closed and then flew open again, not wanting to miss a moment of it.

I feel like a college student cramming for finals, Jean’s mind voice told him. Considering what her mouth was doing, speech was impossible.

Logan snorted. “Ya ain’t gotta try t’ put tha whole thing in at once.”

No, not that. I meant that it’s nerve-wracking, wondering if I’m doing it right, trying to please you under pressure…

“No complaints, Jeannie, an’ no pressure,” he answered, trying to remember how to breathe.

The sight of his cock disappearing into her hot mouth, even part of it, was something to savor for a lifetime. Her hand tried to make up for what her mouth couldn’t handle and he didn’t think he’d care if he died just then.

You can’t fool me; most of the carnal flotsam in your mind trumps anything I’ve ever done. A few of your ladies outshine me by a long shot, too. Not to mention some of those tricks you learned in the Shi’ar Empire. Who had time to do that with everything that we had going on there?

“There’s always time fer that. Don’t worry ‘bout skills, that comes with time an’ practice, darlin’. Happy t’ be yer guinea pig fer that, though.” When she faltered, trying not to let him know that she was struggling not to choke, he decided to rescue her pride. Lifting his hand to her, he whispered, “C’mon up here, yer damn good at that.”

Her mouth left him, but then she straddled his hips and that was just fine, too. His sharp indrawn breath was loud around them when her body took his inside it. Her hands pressed down on his chest.

Logan settled his fingers on her ankles on either side of him and began gently rubbing the outer side of them, next to her Achilles tendons, slightly above the heel.

“Oh, I feel like my jaw might fall off. Sorry I’m not –” She stopped short when the effect of his touch hit her. “God, Logan – how do you do that?”

Chuckling, he enjoyed watching her as he worked the pressure points, knowing from recent and murky past experience that it would prolong and elevate her stimulation.

“Can’t give out all my secrets, can I? Where’s tha fun in that? Jean, darlin’, how’d ya manage t’ be married so long an’ ain’t done that before? Cyke too vanilla t’ blow, or do ya just not like it? No crime if ya don’t, ya know. I won’t pine fer ya any less, I swear.”

“He’s … repressed. I’ll leave it at that, since I know you don’t like to discuss him.”

“Not particularly, no.”

“It’s amazing to feel what that does to you, even though it’s like I’m competing with every wet dream that lurks in your brain.”

“Don’t look in there, then. Can’t chase ‘em out – they live there.”

“Even your lady Mariko knew more than me, in spite of being proper in ways I could never be. That thing she did, sitting like this? Do you know how she did that?”

“Well, I ain’t got one o’ those, but as far as I can grasp it from tha receivin’ end, ya just contract an’ relax yer muscles in there while yer at it. Play with it ‘til ya learn a rhythm ya like, watch fer what yer partner likes. Ya got that telepathic advantage, so…”

“So … like this?”

Logan sucked in a breath and couldn’t stop his body from shivering. “Oh fuck, Jeannie…”

“I guess so.” She leaned down and kissed his open mouth. “I want to learn things. What was that you told your combat students yesterday? ‘You have all the equipment – you just need to learn how to use it to the best advantage to win’?”

“What’re ya tryin’ t’ win?”

“Your heart?”

“Ya already got that. C’mon, darlin’, talk t’ me – why tha worryin’?”

“It’s … stupid. You’ll think I’m some sort of arrogant jerk.”

“Hey, it’s me, tha guy that worships ya, arrogant or not. Spill it.”

“You have me on a pedestal. When I see and feel some of the things you’ve done, things done to you, what you like – I’m not that girl and I don’t know how to be. I think maybe I’d like to be … but I don’t know how and I’m … embarrassed to try.”

“Why?”

She stopped moving and took in his soft and loving regard, his concern and desire for her. It gave her courage, even as she flushed with shame. “I’m used to being good at things. I can tell my students it takes time and practice to learn new things, but when it comes to me … I want to be good right away and I usually … am. This is one area of my life that I’ve had very little practice with. I don’t want to fall off of your expectations of me and have you thinking that I’m –”

“Jeannie, stop. Listen, okay? I love ya fer who an’ what ya are an’ I ain’t got expectations right now, or at least I’m tryin’ t’ put tha brakes on what I want, fer yer sake. If ya wanna learn some tricks just cuz ya wanna know ‘em, happy t’ teach ya, happy t’ play practice dummy. Thing is, ya can’t disappoint me, even if ya never lemme call ya mine. I accept an’ own tha pedestal thing in general, maybe I do need t’ work on that – but yer not just a woman that hasn’t learned fancy tricks. Yer tha woman I love.”

She smiled through gathering tears, leaned down and kissed him. “But what if –”

Running a hand up her side, he used it to protect her when he abruptly moved and rolled her beneath him. She grabbed her wadded up jacket to use as a pillow. Abruptly, he missed the furs they had worn in these caves, dreading pulling on the uniform leather pants again. Grinning at her gasp, he began applying his best piston motion to stop her nervous chatter. He knew he could keep it up longer than she could take it, and reveled a moment in the fact that she picked that thought up, too.

“The session is timed, Tarzan,” she teased.

“Fuckin’ syllabus.”

“You said it, not me.”

He kissed her as he thrust, burying his face in her hair so he could nip at her throat with his fangs. It never took long after that, for either of them. He let his roar shake very convincing dust off of the illusory ceiling of the cavern as his ejaculate fired, the bone-deep heat of it threatening to turn him into mush.

Backing off and out of her, he settled back on his heels, panting, and watched her. When her knees rose, bracketing his hips, he rested his palms on them, a soft smile wandering onto his lips.

“Why do you love me?”

“What? Why’s it matter t’ ya?”

“Logan…”

He sighed. “Figured ya wouldn’t wanna hear it.”

“Heavens, maybe I don’t. Is it that bad?”

“I’ve pondered it, Jeannie, mostly while tryin’ t’ be rid o’ it. T’ be honest, I ain’t gotta fuckin’ clue. Sure, yer beautiful, smart, all that – a bit repressed –”

“Hey, at least I try.”

“Not judgin’, just sayin’.” His smirk faded as he tried to seriously articulate an answer. “Fact is, I’ve had a lot o’ partners, loved some amazin’ women – but most o’ ‘em are dead. Damned if I know, maybe it’s tha way ya put Sabretooth in ‘is place.”

“Why on earth would that attract you to me?”

“Cuz it means maybe he couldn’t come ‘round an’ slaughter ya fer tha ugly fun o’ it, that’s why. Hell, Deathstrike, tha Reavers – I’d want popcorn, but I’d love t’ see ‘em try t’ take ya on. Call it a weird sense o’ security … I know ya can handle yerself, whatever comes down over yer pretty head.”

“I’ll let the sexist cutesy comment slide. This started way before I smacked Sabretooth with a TK fist, though.”

Logan shrugged. “Maybe tha real reason is lost up here somewhere.” One hand lifted, his finger tapping his temple. “Doesn’t matter, really.”

“You don’t want to know why? I probably analyze things too much about myself, though, so I’m surprised when others don’t.

“I don’t question it, Jeannie. It just is.” He smiled again to relieve the worried look on her face. “An’ yeah, ya analyze stuff too damn much.”

“Yes, well, we can’t all be the king of living in the now.”

He laughed, but it was short and bitter. “Shit, I live in tha past more’n anyone. Just can’t remember much o’ it in any kind o’ sensible order. Tha beast inside … he lives in tha now, not me.”

“Our ‘now’ is about to come and get us. Help me up?”

Logan got to his feet and gave her a hand, pulling her against him. She was three inches taller, but he’d never given a damn. She was perfect, flaws and all.

“We have to get out of here and now you’re thinking about my flaws? I should make you list them before I go to Hong Kong so I don’t obsess about what you think they are for the entire trip.”

“My brain is a murky place, Red, proceed at yer own risk. Why do ya hafta fetch this one personally?”

“Afraid you’ll miss me?”

He growled softly, lowering his head to nuzzle her neck. One hand wandered, the fingers brushing her breast. Her hand caught it and held it still.

“Admit it, yer goin’ so ya can miss this stupid Open Day.”

“No, though the thought occurred to me. I support the Open Day, but I still can’t be there for it. Sorry.”

“No yer not – yer enjoyin’ my misery.”

“You’ll survive it, I’m sure everyone will. What could be so bad?”

“‘Sides more wet-behind-tha-ears kids runnin’ ragged than we already got?”

Smiling, Jean lifted his hand to her lips and kissed the fingers. “We need to get dressed, Professor Logan. Sex Ed is over – for now. Do I have any homework?”

“Work on yer kegel exercises, an’ recite ‘I like anal sex’ twenty times a day, in tha mirror.”

Jean laughed. “I may have to settle for a B+. Can’t I enjoy doing it while retaining my lady-like squeamishness over saying it?”

“Sure. Then again, if ya keep fuckin’ me, I bet I’d let ya slide on most o’ tha class rules.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

He crushed her to him once more before she could slip away, before they were back out there, where they had to pretend, where he couldn’t touch her. He kissed her, trying to lure her soul to him with his mouth, so she wouldn’t go, wouldn’t leave him.

She clung to him, too, though she always denied it. Yet try as she might, her scent couldn’t lie to him and her body couldn’t hide its hunger for his.

 

*****************************************************************

Author’s Note / Spoiler Warning: This is where the events from the New X-Men series, “Riot at Xavier’s” (# 135 – 138) occur. After this point, spoilers lurk…   For those who don’t care about that, all you need to know is that the X-Men put down the rioters in short order, though instigator Quentin Quire halted Logan with shocking ease by plunging him into one of his tormenting circular half-memories. In defeating Quire, one of the young telepathic Cuckoo sisters, Sophie, died in the fight. The surviving sisters had a serious mad on for their teacher Emma Frost, and to get some payback, they told Jean Grey about the psychic affair Emma was having with her husband, Scott Summers. Jean reamed Emma’s mind over this to prove some ugly facts (and discovered that Emma truly loves Scott), and then Jean had it out with Scott, who took off to figure out the mess in his life. In New X-Men “Murder at the Mansion” (# 139 – 141) Emma is shot in her diamond form and shatters. To solve the murder, Jean uses her Phoenix Force to resurrect Emma, discovering that Esme Cuckcoo is the murderer, but Esme had already escaped.

My story resumes following the aftermath of the riot, Emma’s return to life, and Jean’s fallout over the crumbling mess of her marriage. Graduation for that year is over, and Xavier has announced that he will be stepping down as headmaster of the school. School closes for the summer, and my tale resumes… – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)

*****************************************************************

 

Jean slept fitfully, plagued by nightmares. Images flashed in her thoughts, some real, some not – or not yet. Shifting in the murk of her subconscious, some of the images bore the stench of prophesy.

One thing was real: Emma Frost reduced to a shining pile of diamond fragments, shot by a student under the control of Esme Cuckcoo. As the nightmares continued, the fire of the Phoenix swept up the glittering pieces of diamond and made a woman from them – a woman who loved her husband. Rage erupted and the fire burned, melting the woman’s pale flesh.

The fire spread, consuming the thinning leaves of the trees, their blackened branches a reflection of her loss, promising more desolation to come.

Moaning and speaking in her sleep, she was bathed in sweat in a vast bed – alone. “No, can’t be … can’t be true, they’re lying! Scott!”

Sitting bolt upright with her hands over her lips, Jean felt tears slip down her cheeks. The bedroom was dark, she was alone. Or was she? Afraid, she stared into the darkness.

“Logan?”

“Jean.”

Gasping, she turned and found him in the far corner, half hidden by the curtains near the window. Through the glass, the trees were full of dark and secretive green, unharmed by her fire.

“Why are you here?”

“Heard ya thrashin’, came t’ check on ya.”

“Did you know? Emma and my husband … did you?”

“Never knew – did it in their heads, so no scent. Thought Emma was actin’ strange here an’ there, but she’s strange a lot. She told me, after ya got done with ‘er. Fer what it’s worth, I believe ‘er. Ya got yer own, though, didn’t ya? Mind reamin’ tha girl, showin’ ‘er all ‘er ugly bits? Didn’t make ya feel better, did it?”

“I saved her worthless life, didn’t I?”

“Not fer ‘er sake – not sure that counts.”

“I didn’t ask you to pass judgment on me.”

“Wasn’t judgin’ ya. I see Cyke left; place barely smells like ‘im now.”

“Get out.”

“No.”

He came forward to the foot of the bed she had shared with Scott for so long. To her shock, he was standing there naked.

“What are you doing?”

“Middle o’ yer thrashin’, it hit ya – yer hungry, Jeannie.”

“If someone saw, if anyone found out –”

“Ain’t a soul can see me when I don’t want ‘em t’ – not even a telepath. Ya know that.” Logan moved again, coming around to the side of the bed, the side that wasn’t a rumpled mess. He set a knee down on the white sheets, his thick erection ready. “Ya can deny me, but ya can’t deny yer own wants.”

“I can’t – I can’t do it here, in our bed.”

“Ya got no ‘our’ anymore. He left. Ya made it easy fer ‘im t’ leave.”

“He betrayed me!”

“Ya betrayed ‘im first – with me.”

“Logan, no.”

“Think that word works anymore?”

He touched her, fingertips on her throat – that was all it took. They fell together, his weight pressing her down, his mouth on her breast.

“Make it rough.”

“No.”

“Please … please … I need…” She thrashed under him, trying to throw him off.

With a low growl, he grabbed her wrists over her head, the other hand tearing the sheets away from her. She fought and he forced her, his fangs biting into the side of her throat when he pushed himself inside her tense and struggling body.

~ ~ ~

Jean opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of orange juice.

“Grab me a beer, would ya, Red?”

She looked at him and saw everything that had happened in the night flash through her mind’s eye. Logan’s face betrayed nothing. She opened her mouth to speak, but then Ororo and Hank entered the room.

A smile on his blue-furred face, Hank reached in and got the beer, handing it to Logan. “You’re going to ruin all of those Global Warming statistics, Jean.”

“What?” She flinched when Hank took the refrigerator door out of her hand and closed it. “A little early for beer, isn’t it?” she asked Logan, ignoring the others.

“Had a rough … week – figure I earned it.”

“I’m not sure why we have alcohol in a school,” Jean retorted.

“School’s out. Nobody underage or over ever risks it, anyhow. Students would rather take on Apocalypse than snag one o’ my brews; they know what happened t’ tha last one that tried it.”

“Any more luck sorting out what Quire did to you during the riot, Logan?” Ororo asked.

“Nope. Put my brain on some sorta loop, stuck on one thought, a thought I can’t even remember. Froze me good. Ain’t gonna miss that li’l shit, ‘Ro.”

Hank started up some coffee. “Maybe you could help him sort it out, Jean?”

“Yeah, Jeannie – maybe in tha Danger Room later.”

“Perhaps you should ask Charles; I have quite enough to sort out of my own, thank you.” Glaring at him, she swept out of the kitchen.

~ ~ ~

Logan stood in the howling wind beside the cavern wall, his boots crunching in the snow. “Gettin’ tired o’ this hot an’ cold shit, Red.”

“That never stops you from doing it.” To prove it, she kissed him, roughly, trying to push him back against the stone.

He turned her, the loud ~snikt~ ringing in her ears as he punched the claws into the rock beside her head with a growl. “If ya want it, get it yerself.”

Opening his belt and zipper, she drew out what she needed and watched it grow harder as she fumbled to hike up her dress. The claws were yanked out of the rock and stuck with exhilarating speed between her trembling skin and damp cotton panties. The cloth fell in pieces, one of the claws shearing away a few red hairs.

He grabbed her hips, pulled them forward, and shoved it in. Her head struck the stone when his weight pushed her back into it, but she didn’t care. Her legs began to tremble as his thrusts went on and on.

~ ~ ~

The corridor was empty. Logan came out of the sitting room and started to pass her, stopping at the scent of her desire.

“No. Damn it, Logan, if you touch me, I’ll break you.”

“Say no t’ me again, Red, an’ it’ll be fer keeps.”

~ ~ ~

“Do it, Logan, harder … yes…”

Her knees were bruising on the floor of the control booth, his arms around her and one hand squeezing her breast through her shirt from underneath.

He hadn’t said a word when he entered the booth. She had turned away from the windows, where Jubilee was running a solo practice session in the Danger Room below. One look had passed between them, and then she had gone down to the floor on all-fours.

It was fast and fierce, his fangs in his own arm again to stifle his cry of release. Jean let her cries echo in the room, hoping the firecrackers the young mutant was exploding would cover the sounds.

“Hey, Jean-ster, how about them pafs, huh? Jean?”

On her knees, she smoothed her hair back into place as Logan stood behind her. Struggling to her feet as she put her pants back together, she stepped forward, sure that Jubilee could only see her from the waist up.

“Impressive, Jubilee – now let’s up the threat level, okay?”

“Bit late fer that, Red,” Logan whispered.

She whirled to look at him, but the doors had already slid shut.

~ ~ ~

Dinner was over and the others had left, carrying the last of the plates into the kitchen. Jean could feel the heat of Logan’s skin as he passed her chair, sensed his thoughts as he lifted his hands to grasp her shoulders.

“Don’t. Not now.”

“When? Been too long, Jeannie.”

“I said no.”

He was silent as she stood, turned her back, and left him standing there.

~ ~ ~

Jean stood in the snow, her scans offering the last proof that the frozen landscape was empty. “Where the hell are you?” Biting her lower lip for a second, she sighed and then called out, “Professor Grey-Summers, termination code 00X2, execute.”

The Danger Room turned hard and gray around her, as empty as the snow had been and just as cold.

*****************************************************************

Logan chomped down on the cigar. “Don’t give up now, bub; I’m just gettin’ warmed up.”

The bloody and bruised man in the biker jacket glared, wiping a smear of red on his sleeve from his wet beard. He and his buddy behind Logan were the last men standing, as their unconscious friends littered the floor of the seedy bar.

Ranged around the three-way standoff, more bikers from a rival club laughed and shouted insults. The two men couldn’t be seen as weak, or leave their brothers behind. Logan smiled as he saw the mix of fear, hate, and desperation cloud the bloodshot dark eyes of the man in front of him. The other one was grabbing up a chair by the pool table.

When the bearded biker rushed in with a switchblade, Logan punched his wrist, sending the knife flying. Two more hits with adamantium-laced fists, and the huge man went down in a heap.

The bell over the door sounded, jangling harshly over the laughter and thumping jukebox. All eyes turned to the door, but Logan didn’t need to look; he growled as his nose told him who was there.

With a grunt and heave that would have telegraphed his attack to a deaf man, the last assailant with the chair hoisted it to swing it at his broad back, but Jean’s power grabbed it and made it strike him in the head. She’d managed it so fast that the others probably thought he’d done it to himself when the chair slipped out of his bloody hands.

A cheer went up as the poor slob fell and a mug of beer was thrust into Logan’s hand almost before he could step back from the carnage.

“That Breed scum didn’t know what hit ‘em,” Bull said behind him. “Man, you should ride with us. You want a mama?”

Glancing around at the rough women in the bar, all of them looking eagerly back at him, he smiled as he turned to face his newest bar buddy. “‘Preciate that, but my ol’ lady takes good care o’ me. Thanks fer lendin’ a fist, Bull.”

“She’s a hot damn thing, for sure, you bastard.” He offered his hand and Logan shook it. “Me and my brothers are happy to call you one of our own, Logan. You got a problem in Jersey, you call on the Warlocks.”

“I’ll do that.” Police sirens cut short the rest of the conversation. “Go on, Bull – I’m gonna finish my beer. No cop will believe I dropped these guys alone; I plan t’ say yer boys did it.”

Bull laughed. “Just makes us look good.”

Enduring an impressive slap on the back, he watched them step over and sometimes on their rivals on the way out to their motorcycles. Several of them gave Jean appraising looks as she moved out of their way, but none of them touched or spoke to her. When they roared away, only his scoot was left in front of the bar.

“Your ‘old lady’?” Jean asked.

“Means I gotta claim on ya, yer not a communal toy. Keeps ‘em from tryin’ anythin’ stupid.”

“I don’t need protection from them.”

“They needed protection from ya, darlin’.”

Logan returned to the bar where the grateful bartender put a bottle of single malt in front of him without a word.

Jean crossed the floor, carefully picking her way through the men who had tried to harass him. The jukebox, clearly cursed, began to play a haunting Bruce Hornsby and the Range song, called Mandolin Rain.

The song came and went
like the times that we spent
hiding out from the rain
under the carnival tent
I laughed and she’d smile
It would last for a while
You don’t know what you got
till you lose it all again

Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break
every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind
Sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears roll
Down my face as she turns to go

A cool evening dance
listen to the bluegrass band, takes the chill
from the air till they play the last song
I’ll do my time, oh
keeping you off my mind
but there’s moments that I find
I’m not feeling so strong…

Breaking the silence between them, Jean asked, “So should I have let the thug hit you with a chair?”

“Didn’t need ya t’ save me, Red.”

“I wasn’t saving you; I was saving him.”

Logan couldn’t stop a smile from tugging at his lips, but the whiskey and beer chaser wiped it off a moment later.

“I tracked you to New York. I always knew you kept some strange company, but Frank Castle?”

“Returnin’ somethin’ Rooke ‘borrowed’ from ‘im an’ ‘is tech buddy; that don’t make us friends.”

“New Jersey was a surprise.”

Logan shrugged. “It was a change o’ scene.”

Looking around at the unconscious bloody men, she sighed. “I redirected the police. They’ll realize their mistake after we have a chance to talk.”

“Nothin’ left t’ say.” Downing the beer, he left his bar stool and carried the whiskey bottle with him over to the jukebox. As he went, the final strains of the ballad about loss and heartbreak dogged his steps.

The boat’s steaming in
I watch the sidewheel spin
and I think about her when
I hear that whistle blow
I can’t change my mind, oh
I knew all the time that she’d go
but that’s a choice I made long ago…

Rummaging through his surface thoughts, Jean said, “I didn’t come here to say goodbye. Will you talk with me?”

“Yer gonna do most o’ tha talkin’ Jeannie, but I’ll listen.”

Logan fished quarters out of his jeans pocket, dropped the coins in and pressed buttons. Staring into the glass front as the discs inside it whirred and flashed, he leaned one palm on the edge of the machine as a Little Feat classic covered by Outlaw Jim and the Whiskey Benders filled the small room. Sung with a slow, old pain, he let Jim’s rough voice wash over him. The song was Willin’, cranked to ten.

I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
and I’m drunk and dirty, don’t ya know
I’m still willin’
and I’m out on the road late at night
and I see my pretty little Alice in every headlight
Alice, Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
I’ve driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
I’ve driven on the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
and if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
and show me a sign
I’ll be willin’ to keep movin’…

Her hands touched his leather-clad shoulders as the music played, her body leaning in to hold him close. “Dance with me?”

Plucking the smoldering cigar end out of his teeth, he crushed it in the ashtray on the jukebox. Turning, he took Jean into his arms and held her tight.

For a moment, just a moment, he wished they were at the Auger Inn in Salem Center, before the mission to Kentucky. He scented her hair as he had then and tried to wish that all that had happened in between … hadn’t.

“Don’t, Logan, please…”

“If ya don’t like what ya find in my head, why do ya keep lookin’?”

“No regrets. I want … something new.”

“No ya don’t. Ya want somethin’ ancient, somethin’ that ain’t never a good idea.”

“You don’t want it? Look at me, Logan, and tell me you don’t.”

“Jeannie…”

~ ~ ~

His body didn’t know it was any different as they strained and moved, didn’t care as it thrust inside her, craving her with a hunger that might never end. He tried to keep his mind from knowing it, to keep her from the thoughts, but he couldn’t. It was the last night. It had to be. Unless things changed, unless she agreed to things he knew she never would.

When it was over, he felt empty.

“I’m cold; please hold me.”

Logan drew her close in the dark. The rough cotton of the tangled sheet fought him a moment before he could cover them with it. The tiny motel room was stale, barely cleaned since its last occupant had died in it. Grimacing unseen beside her, he hoped she wasn’t still scanning his mind.

“It’ll be okay; we can keep meeting in the city, in Manhattan or maybe Brooklyn – anywhere.”

“Ya know that’ll never work, darlin’ – hasn’t been, not fer long.”

“It can, if we want it to.”

Logan was silent for a long time and Jean didn’t speak again, as if she was afraid of how he’d answer. He drew in a deep breath and ignored the plaintive thump of his battered heart.

“If we can’t be t’gether without hidin’ … we gotta wait ‘til we can, if ever. I’m willin’ t’ do what it takes, t’ change my life fer ya, but yer not – not yet. I don’t need t’ be a telepath t’ know that yer gonna want a reckonin’ with Slim. When ya get that, ya might wanna try again. I can’t watch ya walk that path, make that choice.”

“Scott left me. He had an affair with Emma, but worse … he loves her and she loves him.”

“Don’t mean yer claim on tha man is void.”

“Logan, you don’t understand; he loves her – in a way he’s never loved me.”

“Bullshit – ya an’ Slim have been an item forever.”

“Exactly, forever – we fell in love as teens. When we grew up, we changed. He loved the idea of me, someone I haven’t been in a long time. Marriage has been a daily reminder to him that he didn’t, couldn’t, marry the girl he actually fell for. I guess I felt it too and ignored it, buried it. Maybe … we’ve been in love … with love – and reality has just not been enough. He would never discuss children, even before Apocalypse changed him, and afterward, he wouldn’t discuss anything. We used to talk; we used to be each other’s whole world. Now he loves Emma. She … she sees him as he ‘really is’, listens to him, accepts him. Or so he thinks. With her, he feels … alive … again.”

Logan growled. “Tha bastard told ya that?”

“He didn’t have to.”

Logan sat up and pulled her up to face him, though he knew she could barely see him in the dim room. His hands held her upper arms gently. “If that’s true, if there’s no goin’ back … let it go. Jean, I love ya – if we drop tha lies, tha sneakin’ ‘round … why not ya an’ me t’gether?”

“Turn our lives inside out? My life has already been gutted. The others –”

“They ain’t gotta stake or a vote in what we do. Slim left an’ they’re all worried ‘bout ya; all they want is t’ know yer gonna be okay. This ain’t a fling with us, we both been feelin’ this thing between us fer years, an’ it ain’t been that big a secret. Even while things were good with ‘im, ya still felt this fer me; gotta be somethin’ t’ that. Just tell me yer willin’ t’ try t’ see what this could be. Jeannie, I’d do anythin’…”

She was silent, her breath caught in fear, not revelation. It changed her scent and he knew she shrank from the future he dreamed of without even uttering a word, or turning away.

“Please, Logan, I need time … but I can’t face this alone.”

He let his hands drop. “I can’t. What yer askin’ – ya want me t’ be yer solace, ‘til ya heal. When ya heal, ya might be ready fer a new love, but it won’t be me, will it? Ya love what I do t’ ya, but ya don’t love me. Ya won’t even try.”

She began to cry and he embraced her and held her close because he couldn’t refuse her comfort. He was in this room now because he couldn’t refuse her at all. That meant he’d have to go, leave the school, for a time.

“No, don’t…”

“I hafta, darlin’, an’ ya know why.” When she didn’t protest a second time, he knew she understood. Yet her quiet acceptance of his decision tore his heart out. She wouldn’t fight to make him stay. She didn’t need him. “I’ve laid all I am at yer feet: my love, my heart, my pride… It ain’t ‘nuff an’ I guess it never will be,” he whispered. “Can ya tell me why? Do ya even know why?”

I can’t, she spoke in his mind, as sobs wracked her body.

Logan held her, stroked her hair and kissed it. “Hush, darlin’, hush…”

When she quieted, she stirred restlessly in his arms. “We should go back.”

“Please give me this,” he whispered into the flood of her hair, his head bowed. “Give me t’night…”

She lifted his chin and kissed him until the passion that had always been between them threatened to burn them again. They touched, they moved together, filled their bodies with fire – and when it burned out, they both knew the ashes were cold.

~ ~ ~

Logan shifted and groaned in his sleep, gripped by horrid images, a visceral nightmare.

He and Jean were together in a small, hot place. They were going to die. As powerful as they were, they had done everything they could – but it wasn’t enough.

Jean was dying; she couldn’t breathe because the oxygen was leaking away. In their last moments, she asked him a terrible question. In agony, he answered, and shot his claws into her body to end her suffering. As the light in her emerald eyes faded, a new fire flared in its place. Bursting from within her, the Phoenix Force exploded and its cosmic fire destroyed the world.

“Logan, wake up, please!”

With a shout of horror, he woke and sat bolt upright with all claws out, his breathing ragged. “Jean … Jeannie … yer alive, yer safe…” ~Snakt~. He was covered in sweat and the sense of foreboding had not faded with the nightmare. It’s tha same, tha same dream that started just after we returned from Kentucky, an’ tha caverns. Maybe it ain’t just a dream – an’ Jean is gonna die cuz I kill ‘er, I let tha Phoenix Force out…

“What is it, what did you dream?”

“Stay outta my head, Jeannie.” The stale miasma of the motel room filled his nostrils. As she held his stiff body, he let the sweet smell of rose and lavender in her hair chase it away, but her scent couldn’t soothe him as it once had.

“Logan, what is it?”

He was silent, unable to tell her. He never did tell her.

~ ~ ~

Logan looked back once as the noise of the motorcycle destroyed the quiet morning. Jean stood at her bedroom window, her hand pressed to the cold glass, her eyes full of shining regret.

He had told her he needed to help Rooke and would go back to Chicago. She had known he intended to be gone longer than he claimed, but she hadn’t said anything. In an empty hallway of a nearly empty school, they hadn’t touched when they said goodbye.

Lifting a hand to her in farewell, he tried to smile. He would go to Chicago, and then he would search for answers. It was possible that the nightmare was saturating his sleeping mind because of the mental connection she kept with him so often.That morning, he had asked her to break it. Whatever the dream was, if there was a way to stop it, he would find it. Even if he had to prevent it by simply staying away from her, it could not be allowed to happen.

There were mysteries to be solved and if he focused on them, he might be able to forget how she had looked at him in a motel room in the Bronx, how she had felt in his arms, under his body. Images and sensations tormented him: the Danger Room, a rose garden at night, the crush of grass under her as his hands slid her dress up her thighs. He had brushed leaves from her hair in the shadow of so many telepathic minds, all unaware.

Through the window, her expression was one of bewildered loss. She had looked that way in the snow, where grass and trees had stood. With the cavern at her back, the impossible arctic wind blowing her hair into her face, she had seemed vulnerable. Able to reach out at last, she had dared to shatter the silence of their unspoken feelings. The silence between them had healed, and someday she would, too.

Turning away, he left her. The cold wind in his face did not echo with the strange alien cries of predators, and no snow crunched under the wheels as he drove down the lane; yet his heart, trapped in frozen silence, longed to hear those cries again.

 

FINI.

 

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Author’s Note: Logan’s adventure in Chicago, going off to help Rooke, shows up in my Doc Ock tale, “Of Dreams and Dust”. For those who are curious about what’s going on with Rooke, see that story for details. Doc Ock and Rooke’s dealings with Magneto happen before the ‘Eve of Destruction’ storyline, which begins in Uncanny X-Men # 392.

Comics Spoilers: For those who like timelines, Scott ends up in the Hellfire Club in “Assault on Weapon Plus”, (New X-Men # 142 – 145). He watches a stripper morphed to look like Jean in her Dark Phoenix incarnation, and has a drinking match with Logan, who is trying to make him own up to his mistakes, in my opinion. Those events occur after my story is completed, and lead up to the events in Logan’s recurring nightmare actually coming to pass. If you want to read more on that, look out for a story called “Planet X” (New X-Men # 146 – 150). After that story, Jean does “die” as far as the X-Men know. The Phoenix Force resurrects her again and according to comics canon, she goes to this “White Hot Room”, but I’m jumping off into AU territory at that point, because I’m writing a mini-series of fics with Jean/Sabretooth, while the X-Men still think she’s dead. Yes, I’m serious – LOL. I will start posting those in their planned order over in my Sabretooth series, “Equilibrium: of Cruelty and Pain”.

Logan’s quote “Do not sow where ya cannot expect t’ stay” is a paraphrase from Nancy Springer’s novel, The White Hart. The actual line is, “I would be a coward to sow where I cannot expect to stay.” Frank Castle is the Punisher, of course. I do apologize for taking forever to finish this story – life got in the way. I will finish my other works-in-progress as expediently as I am able. Thank you for your amazing patience and thank you even more for reading my tales. I appreciate so much all of your comments, but I can’t answer you outside of the forum threads for the stories. I do try to answer your kind feedback in those threads, though. For now, this tale is completed, but Logan has a part in the back half of my Sabretooth story “Redemption”, as well. It’s probably as close to an immediate sequel of this story’s events as I’m likely to get. Logan may have more fics of his own eventually, but he actually shows up in my Sabretooth series a lot. I’ll be working on my Sabretooth, Joker, Doc Ock, and Texas Chainsaw stories next. – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic)

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