This is one of my "floofy-ish" pieces after finishing
CLIMB. Indulge me. <g> It's really a vignette. URL
posted as always, for those who prefer html.
IDLE MUSINGS OF A WOMAN AT EIGHTY
Summary: An old woman on good endings. L/J/S (but not
a threesome) c. 2100 words
Warnings: Adult subject matter.
Notes: I wouldn't mind having the wisdom of sixty,
the libido of thirty, the body of twenty, and the gall
of eighty. This is my drool-over-Logan piece. And
what *would* it be like to watch him stay the same
Disclaimer: Marvel owns, not I.
Sweat beads on slick skin and slides together, then
runs in rivulets down his back and out from beneath
his arms. I watch it. I want to lick it off, lick
him clean like a popsickle. I wonder what his skin
tastes like? Salt and cigars and that indefinable man
He's not beautiful. Not in the usual
magazine-sculpted ideal of chiseled and starved
perfection. I slept with chiseled perfection for
forty-one years. After a while, it loses its appeal.
Contempt of the familiar, I suppose. This face is
handsome, but the skin is less taut and faint lines
bracket the mouth, crease the forehead. It's a face
that is aging, but not old, a face in the flower of
manhood. All the smoothness of youth has been sanded
off by years and experience, and the eyes -�
all-color-hazel and none �- are deep with the weight
of things seen. He knows the underside of life, and
its brilliance, too, the whole kaleidoscope-complexity
of being human. It's drawn his mouth gentle and
curved with irony.
No, he's not a beautiful man. But he is a handsome
one, and interesting -� which is more important. It's
not the animal magnetism that attracted me then, nor
attracts me now. He has that, but so do a lot of men.
What always interested me about him was that, when I
talked to him, he listened. And I often thought that
if he'd made love to me, he wouldn't have rushed.
Patience is a virtue of age.
So I watch him a moment more from the shadow of the
gym doorway. He's too involved in his lesson with the
kids to have smelled me yet.
But I can't stay hidden forever, indeterminate in the
doorway, so I enter the room with measured steps, feel
it as they all register my presence.
The Grand Dame of Westchester.
They look at me with awe, I feel it beating against
the glass lantern of my mind like the fluttering wings
of moths. I must be so careful with them or I would
burn them up. I am Phoenix. Yet I am also simply me.
Plain Jean. I don't feel so special on the inside of
my skin, and I wonder, idly, if this is how Charles
felt when we idolized him, so many years ago.
Inscrutable, omniscient Professor X. Now I am the
inscrutable, omniscient one. Senator Jean Grey. How
funny. I wonder if these children know how I snore
like a chain saw, or that I put ketchup on my cottage
cheese. Scott always thought that was nuts � both the
ketchup and the eating of cottage cheese, in the first
place. "Live dangerously Jean," he used to say, "try
some salsa." And I'd laugh and poke him in the belly.
The belly got wider as he got older. But then, so
did mine. He never did lose his hair, at least.
Now, I make my way across the floor. 'Magestically,'
I've heard it called. In truth, I just can't walk
fast any more. Only one pair of eyes doesn't watch me
with awe. There's a glint in them. *Come to keep
tabs on me, Old Woman?*, he asks in my mind, where the
students can't hear.
*No. Just came to watch you sweat, Old Man.*
*Care to lick it off later?*
And Jesus, just which of us is the telepath here? I
meet his eyes and shake my head faintly. Aloud, we
speak of other things, such as the importance of
physical exercise for mental agility. It's true
enough. But Lord, it sounds so . . . potted. Like a
two-bit column in a health magazine. At least Logan
no longer must teach them how to keep themselves
alive. Prejudice isn't dead, but it's gone to hide in
the dark under the porch. Xavier didn't live to see
that, but Scott did. He was among the chief
architects of that tolerance. I was another. We two
built a palace together on Charles' foundation, and
God, I loved that man. Scott, not Charles.
*I miss you, Slim.* It's the whispered litany of
eight years, no less poignant for the passage of time
but less sharp at the edges. I think of Scott softly
now. We grew old together. I watched his body
change. I watched his hair turn grey and his muscles
go lax. And I watched him become the moral leader
that Charles had seen inside when he'd put him in
charge of the X-Men. Scott never held public office
(that was me), but he did become a bit of a legend.
Yet heros are hard to live with at home, no matter how
much you love them. He was only ever half here. Too
many people needed a piece of Scott and he had a bad
habit of bringing them to bed with us at night.
Sometimes I found myself talking to the wall of his
ear. He lived with a mobile phone and his HP notebook
just as much as he lived with his glasses.
But Logan listened to me, and still does. Sometimes,
I need to be a woman. Not a doctor. Not a
researcher. Not a senator. Not an X-Man. And
dammit, not a political activist's long-suffering
Sometimes I wonder if I am the Grand Dame here for me,
or as Mrs. Scott Summers, even though I never took his
name. That was the funniest thing of all. We just
didn't quite get around to a wedding, woke up one
morning and realized we'd been sleeping in the same
bed for seven years and that was Common Law. So we
registered it and went on with the important things in
life. My sister asked me once if I didn't resent him
for not marrying me formally. God knows, I resented
him for a lot of things, but never that.
Smiling at the thought, I wait for Logan to dismiss
his class. Today, I feel a need to speak to someone
who doesn't idolize me, or hate me, or want something
from me. He walks me back towards my office �- the
old corner office that once was Charles' and then was
Scott's and now is mine -� and gallantly offers me his
arm on the stairs, makes a flourish of it for humor to
conceal the fact that without the arm, my bad knee
would probably go out and send me crashing
ignominiously to the bottom. Most of the time these
days, I use the elevator.
You're old, Jean Grey.
My back aches when I unbend from sitting, and I have
arthritis in my hands and knees and feet �- too many
years of standing for hours in ridiculous heels. Now,
I wear flats, but still look most men in the eye
despite the shrinking of bones and a touch of
osteoporosis. I should have drank more milk when I
was nursing and taken my calcium like a good little
"Is Nate arriving in time for the party?"
"His plane gets in at four. Chris is going to pick
his dad up. And shhh. They think it's a secret."
He laughs. *They should know they can't keep secrets
from a telepath.*
*Nate IS a telepath, Logan.*
*Then he really should know better.*
That makes me smile. *He's Scott's son. He's
predisposed to selective blindness.*
*And grand gestures.*
We've reached my office door and he opens it for me,
ushers me in. I expect him to leave then; Logan has
become marginally respectable in his old age and
oversees the mansion for me. I don't trust anyone
else to do it, even Emma. She manages the school, and
that's enough. But this place still exists at two
levels, and Logan manages the Underground. They used
to tell me that I was the heart of the X-Men and Scott
was the soul. I'm not sure what Logan is, but we
couldn't exist without him, even when it's no longer
necessary to save -� or fight -� the world. Maybe
Logan has been the soul all along, and Scott was the
mind. That makes more sense to me.
Now, he shuts the office door and follows me towards
my desk, stops me before I can get behind it, great
mahogany thing that it is. My shield, my mask, my
dignity. His hand comes down on my shriveled shoulder
and I can smell him strong, all salt and musk and
health. So unlike Scott in his last years with his
persistent yeasty cough from the walking-pneumonia
that was killing him, or the slightly sour old-man
smell, like dirty socks in a hamper or day-old
washcloths. It's a smell you become used to. As he
was used to mine. The medicine astringent of Ben-Gay
under expensive perfume, or too much stale coffee on
But now, Logan stands close behind me, close enough
that I can feel the heat of him through the Egyptian
linen on my back. He says nothing for a moment, just
drags his thumb gentle over the bared, wizened skin of
my neck, as if I were still the same woman he first
met, a woman of thirty-three, ripe and rich and
conflicted. I'd desired him then. I'd dreamed of
fucking him hard against a wall. But I'd loved Scott
with everything in me, adored my beautiful, brilliant
boy. And I chose. I never faltered, never cheated.
And I never regretted my choice except in those
half-way seconds between sleep and waking, or when
Logan passed too close and I smelled that salt and
musk and scent of wind. Like now. Bending, he kisses
my cheek and I feel the scratch of his beard on my
tissue-paper skin. It sends shudders through me, and
my dry, old passage goes moist. There's still heat
there. There's still life there, rising like my
namesake the phoenix, though the womb has been dead
for almost twenty-five years.
Silly old grandmother.
"Happy birthday, Jeannie," his whispers.
I turn slightly, a shift of weight to move my shoulder
out from under his hand. My chin goes up. This silly
old grandmother still has some pride. I don't want
his pity. I look him in the eyes and mean to say so,
but it never gets out.
I see my reflection there: mostly white hair with
vestiges of auburn, a face ravaged by gravity, a
sagging chin. The skin around my lips is stitched by
a drawstring of lines and my eyebrows no longer arch
like the wings of butterflies. But the eyes
themselves belong to Phoenix. They're as black as
coal. And seeing my eyes in his eyes, I see what he
sees beyond the face. There is a girl inside eighty.
And there is a boy, still, inside the unknown years of
his own life. Bending, he kisses that girl as his
hand runs up my side to cup the breast of a woman. He
rubs a thumb over my nipple, which can still remember
how to get hard. Desire spikes out through my chest
and belly. I'm old, not dead. Then he steps back,
lips quirking up in that self-depreciating smile.
"I've waited a long time to do that, Red. But I'd
better get down to the dining hall. There's a
surprise party to prepare for, and punch to spike."
"What?" I ask him, lifting an eyebrow. "You think you
need to get me drunk to pass second base?"
"Nah. But if I didn't spike the punch, Nate would
think I'd gone soft in my old age."
"And we couldn't have that, could we?"
Winking, he ducks out the door, leaves me to myself.
Maybe I should feel ashamed for what just transpired,
but it seems senseless. Perversity is in the eye of
the beholder. I spent most of my life in the bed of a
man almost nine years my junior, and have still
outlived him by almost a decade. So what if I kiss a
man who is, I'm quite certain, at least twice nine
years my senior? The fact that he has the body of a
thirty-five year old is irrelevant. They say age is
in the mind. My mind is ageless. It's my body that
I pick up a picture from my desk. Scott, teaching
Nathan to walk. Scott stands behind with Nate's
little fists gripping his father's fingers as he
toddles. In the background, almost out of the
picture, Logan sits on a step and watches. Not with
envy. It think it's with pride. Logan had loved
Nate, too -� the slightly gruff old uncle. And he'd
respected Scott. Human emotions are never shoe-box
simplistic, tagged and stored and consistent.
The three men in my life. Eight years ago next week,
I buried one of them after watching him live on
willpower alone for five years. Another is flying in
today to see his mother turn eighty. And tonight, I
believe I shall sleep with the third.
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