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Before the rain

 

Fandom: X-Men (movie)

Disclaimer: I haven’t left reality. (Well, not yet) I know that I do not own any of the characters here. But is it my fault when they keep waking me up at night, demanding their story to be written? See? No. Please, don’t sue me before I’ve learned how to defend myself against it. :o)

Rating: PG-13

Category: R/L

Feedback: I live for feedback. Really. Makes my day so incredibly much brighter and better.

author's note: Loads of thanks go out to the ever-wonderful Jane Jinn for betaing this even though she has never seen the movie. You rock, babe. :o) Oh, and thanks also go out to Diebin for encouraging me to actually send this. :o)

Dedication: Hm. Three people. First of: Sez. Who's the person responsible for me being here. And such a cute 'lil bugger. :o) Second: willa. Who's just awesome. Go read her Buffy and X-Files stuff and you'll know what I mean. Third: My Padawan Kat. Who's just writing on her first X-Men fic and was too shy to tell me about it . . . I need to talk to Yoda . . .

Summary: Weather tends to have the most curious effects on people. Even more so on Logan and Marie.

***


Hottest summer in a hundred years

But summer didn’t bother

getting up this morning

And so all the trees forgot to wake

They were dropping all their leaves

On the ground below them

((Fran Healy )

***


Had it been any different, it might have been like in one of those corny movies or cheesy TV-shows. Glittering bodies, dampened hair, sighs, moans, erratic breathing.

But it wasn’t. It was awful, and they felt it. All of them.

***


The second week of the heat wave had just started without any mercy, and while it had always been bearable to stay inside the mansion, with its huge, dark furnished halls and the cool air that seemed to radiate off of every single stone the old house was built of, this second week it had exhausted its powers. Which was – hail to fate’s very own irony – exactly the point when the air conditioner broke . So there they were, left with the casual reply that there were a lot of people with the same problem and that it couldn’t be fixed anytime before next week. The mansion was number 80 on the list. And Storm - the one person who could have made this whole mess bearable, was off on a conference in London and was not expected to be back before the end of the week.

Even the water in the big pool had gone lukewarm and no one really cared to set foot in it. A lot of the students who still had family that accepted them to some extent decided to go home and spend this time in air-conditioned rooms instead of the mansion. School had been delayed, since not even the ever correct Professor Xavier had been able to deny the powers of the heatwave. No one could concentrate.

Scott had retreated to the basement to flee from the heat, and Jean nearly locked herself in her laboratory, trying to achieve exactly the same goal. And whoever else had the slightest bit of a sane mind left stayed inside as well.

So they did. The fine sheen of sweat could be spotted on every single face, some looked better, some looked worse.

Marie decided that Logan was definitely one of the aforementioned category. He had always been the one for cold places, and this heat drove him out of his mind. She couldn’t count the times he had tried fixing that fucking air-condition himself. Not that he had been successful, mind you. But all of his swearing and growling as he tried had been rather amusing.

She found him in the kitchen - the last place she had expected. His denim clad legs were curled under him while his bare upper body nearly vanished in the fridge. The sounds that left his throat while he sighed were less than Logan-ish.

"What are you doing?" she asked, amused.

Her smooth voice startled him and his head came up so fast that he hit it on one of the shelves which promptly gave way and dropped about 10 cans of Coke on him.

"Shit, kid!" Oh yeah. That growl sounded more like Logan now.

"Hand me a Coke, would you?" she asked sweetly.

He narrowed his eyes and looked at her with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. Nevertheless he threw one of the cans in her direction and then scrambled to put all the other ones back in the fridge. She noticed that he took his time.

"So, what brings you here?"

He was so cute when he was trying to act casual after just embarrassing himself.

She decided to play along anyway.

"I couldn’t find Bobby anywhere, so I thought I’d join you."

His left hand stopped dead in its tracks. His right hand went to his temple and rubbed it lightly.

"Bobby?"

A grin slowly and lazily spread over his face as he turned - this time careful not to cause another disaster - and grabbing a cold beer, shut the fridge door.

"Don’t you dare tell . . ."

"What? That you tried to mate with the fridge? Oh come on, sugah. You really think I’d share this fun picture with anyone?"

His eyebrows shot up, while she casually opened her can with a loud swishing noise.

"Let’s get outta here." He pulled her along, out of the kitchen.

They quietly walked down the broad wooden stairs.

He looked at her for the first time then. Really looked at her. And he didn’t like what he saw. Even though it was the hottest fucking day he had ever witnessed in his whole life, she was covered from head to toe. Granted, the shirt probably wasn’t very heavy, but still it covered her completely. Together with the gloves, the scarf and the leather boots. He wanted to howl at the picture. Was she trying to kill herself?

They had just walked down the last step when he put a rough hand on her arm.

"What’s this?" He motioned towards the black shirt

She looked confused for a second. "What does it look like?"

Her hair still smelled as fresh as the morning dew, but her forehead and her upper lips were glistening with perspiration. She looked tired.

"Like you’re wearing too many clothes for this weather," his voice had lost some of its rough edge. His eyes raked over her figure. Wondering what she would look like without all that covering. Wondering if sweat-slicked skin couldn’t perhaps be a good thing. Wondering why the fuck he was thinking about that now.

An unconscious hand found its way to her lower lip and she wiped away the perspiration with her crooked thumb.

He noticed the movement with a barely audible intake of breath as he watched her suck her full lower lip between her teeth and release it again.

Damn.

His thoughts were going with rapid speed where they shouldn't be going at all.

"Nah," she answered. "I’m fine."

It was a lie, and she knew it. But she didn’t want to go through this. Not now. Definitely not now. It was even too hot to think straight.

He was looking at her. That long, lonely gaze he didn’t display very often and that made her quiver inside. Then suddenly, as if he had caught himself, the gaze shifted and he growled angrily. "Get that fucking thing off, kid."

She stared back at him - a little baffled at the sudden change of his tone.

"D’ya wanna boil in that or what?"

He tugged impatiently at the long-sleeved shirt she was wearing. "Get it off."

Marie was at a loss for words. Was she imagining this? Was her mind playing tricks on her, trying to convince her she actually heard what she thought he just said?

"What?"

The tone of her own voice shook her out of her reverie. It sounded a little too loud and too angry to be comfortable with.

"You really have the guts to tell me . . ."

A spark of interest flickered in his warm hazel eyes and he cocked a brow. Lazily he ran a hand up his bare upper arm that was glistening with perspiration. "What? I have the guts to tell you what?"

Swallowing slightly at the unconscious movement of his, her thoughts trailed off and she had a hard time getting them back in line.

‘This is NOT the time for drooling, Rogue,’ she scolded herself.

No. She wanted to get through this debate, wanted to have an adult discussion. She didn’t want to be softened by him, and she didn’t want to be glossed over by whatever damn sexy movement he made. No matter how much she wished . . .

"You know exactly what I mean, Logan."

‘Oh, that was great. Just go ahead. Try that even a little less enthused.’

"I do?" The eyebrow went up a little further.

"Yeah. You know exactly that I can’t just run around like all the rest of us. You remember that, don’t you?"

"What do I know about you, kid? Left out the fact that you’re hiding behind that damned barrier of clothes, trying to remind everyone of how different you are?"

Her eyes flared up at this, and she would have exploded right away - if there hadn't been the lack of anger in his voice and those fucking soft eyes. That look that had made her defences melt with even less earnestness in them.

It was on full impact now. Hitting her in the guts with its full force. It hit her so hard that she missed the first few words he spoke after the slight pause.

" . . . enough, you know. You gotta stop this. Stop feeling all too sorry for yourself."

She didn’t say anything. Simply stared into his eyes with a look that would have made killers look like sissies. Breathing in and out for a few seconds she found the strength to push a single word out from between clenched teeth. "Bastard."

She didn’t know whether she screamed or whispered this, the only thing that was for sure was the fact that Logan - the Wolverine - flinched slightly. No one else would have noticed this, but she knew his every movement, knew his eyes, knew his smell, knew him, because she had been him, and she saw him flinch.

And it gave her a sick kind of pleasure in her rage, to see that she held this kind of power over him.

"You fucking bastard." Her voice was too loud but she had lost the power to control it. Rage boiled up inside of her so hard that she could feel herself starting to shake. "Do you think it’s fun to suddenly have people inside your head? To juggle around with images and feelings that aren’t your own? To try and separate all that stuff, trying to stay sane? Don't you think it hurts to feel their revulsion about what I am?"

He actually looked a little worried about her reaction.

Raising a hand in defence he said: "Look, kid I didn’t . . ." He stopped when he felt her burning gaze directed at him. He wanted nothing more but to make that anger he saw glistening in her eyes disappear. "Aw, shit, Marie . . ."

"No. Don’t Marie me. That doesn’t work this time. Everytime you’re saying or doing something that is upsetting me, you start calling me Marie, like it’s the cure for everything and you expect me to feel better. Well, guess what, Logan?"

The cold emphasis she put on his name made him shiver inside. She had turned away from him and walked a few steps down the dark furnished hall that still exuded some kind of coolness.

"It doesn’t work this time," she finished. "So, just go ahead. What were you trying to say? Are you going to tell me you know how I feel? Are you going to tell me that I should cheer up and try to be like the others?" Swirling around and looking at him, her looks were like daggers. "Shit, Logan, didn’t you get the memo or what? I. am. not. like. the. others."

Her breathing was ragged by now and she felt her throat getting sore. Had she been yelling? She couldn’t remember. Part of her felt embarrassed at making a scene, and it was this part that reminded her that she was acting like in a B-movie. But the other part of her, the one that was fuelled by anger didn’t care.

He had the nerve. He actually had the nerve to look like a beaten puppy. How dare he? This was the time he was supposed to be mad as hell, mad at her screaming at him, mad at her for making a scene.

But she had never expected this kind of defeated look on his face. If she hadn’t known him better she would have sworn he was blushing crimson. But that wasn’t possible. That was Logan and a certified bad ass didn’t blush. No, not Logan. Just as he would never . . .

"I’m sorry, kid."

. . . say he was sorry. His words were so simple and came so suddenly that she didn’t hear them right away.

"You’re sorry," she stated flatly.

"Yeah, if I had known . . ."

"If you had known?" she echoed. A snort of bitter laugher escaped her. "You said you would protect me, didn’t you, Logan?"

He looked her straight in the eyes, trying to put as much into his look as possible, to make her understand that he was truly sorry, that he had never intended to let this go so far. "I did."

"Yeah, right. Bang up job, Logan."

It hurt him to hear his own words being thrown back at him. She even pronounced them exactly the way he did. It hurt him. Hurt him more than he thought he could be hurt by simple words. He had stopped caring about words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

Had there ever been a bigger lie? He didn’t care for words. But why did it hurt so much to hear those angry words directed at him. Why did it hurt to see her mad at him? What was the reason?

He didn’t need people. He was the loner, the one who never needed anyone, who was very well capable of living on his own, without worrying about what others might think of him. Then why . . .

"You have to believe me, Marie. I’ve never been more serious in my life. About anything. That promise I gave you . . ." He took a deep breath to quell his inner voice that screamed at him not to voice the following words. "It was meant forever. I’d guard it with my life. I would never let anyone hurt you."

At this Marie sobered up a little and stood for a while, her hands shaking at her sides until she cramped them together in fists. His eyes searched for hers and his hand reached out, searched for some understanding, for forgiveness, for anything that would tell him she wouldn’t stay mad at him. His hand stopped half-way, when she glared at it.

Had he been trying to touch her? After all of this? She didn’t want this touch, not even through clothes. Not now. Not ever. Yeah. Not ever.

‘Go on. Maybe you believe it in a hundred years.’

"Who . . ." Her voice broke audibly over the words she was trying to squeeze out from her suddenly much too dry throat. "Who’s going to protect me from you, then?"

His head shot up and a look of pained surprise plastered itself clearly over his face. This time their eyes met, soft hazel meeting warm brown. He had no idea how long they stood there, just staring in each others eyes. The only thing he remembered was the loud squeaking noise of the front door.

"Logan, Rogue!" The silky voice of Ororo Munroe echoed through the schools main hall. "Is that you?"

Marie’s attention shifted and as if she finally realised what she was doing, she tore her eyes away from him and ran towards Storm.

"Storm!"

Her voice was too loud again, and too cheery, but she didn’t care. The woman with the long white hair dropped her bags and exhaled deeply.

"Quite the weather you have here, huh?" She grinned widely and sighed appreciatively as the door closed behind her and the hot humid air stayed outside. "Could it be that you missed me while I was gone?"

Marie grinned back. "You have no idea."

Still feeling Logan’s burning gaze at her back, she linked her arms under Storm’s and walked into the opposite direction of where Logan was standing, staring at her.

***


It started raining the night Storm arrived.

Soft warm rain fell in heavy curtains, and everything and everyone breathed sighs of relief. The longer it rained the cooler it got and soon all of the pupils and teachers of Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters went back inside.

All but one.

Marie went out just now, she had shied away from the cheering crowd, feeling strangely unattached to the whole happiness. She had seen Logan’s eyes on her and suddenly she wished nothing more but for this whole cursed argument to never have taken place.

Tentatively she stepped out in the cool rain and took off the long-sleeved shirt that had been choking her all day long.

Soon the rain had soaked her thin silken top and plastered it against her body. Stepping out even further into the dark Marie didn’t give a damn about modesty and took the wet piece of restricting clothing off.

She felt the rain on her body, on her bare skin, desperately wishing it were his hands.

***


What she didn’t know was that a few hundred feet away he was standing hidden, watching her slender figure in the rain, wishing for exactly the same.

finis

 
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