Title: A Sure Thing
Disclaimer: I have a cat and two bags of Ramen noodles. Bring it on, Twentieth Century Fox!
Archive Rights: Sure, just ask me first.
Rating: PG. Maybe PG-13. Stay, you'll like it anyway.
Summary: I've read a lot of Logan Has a Nightmare fics. My version.
Author's Notes: Still kinda rusty at writing fic again.
Hope, the patent medicine
For disease, disaster, sin.
Wallace Rice (1859-1939)
He woke abruptly and came up swinging, claws fully extended with a swift, slicing pain that brought his surroundings into focus.
"Fuck," he muttered, when he began breathing again. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat still for a moment while he fought to get his bearings. Bedroom. The States. Westchester.
A cold sweat covered what felt like his entire body and he shivered with a sudden chill that raced along the length of his spine. Deep breaths as the claws retracted and the skin between his knuckles healed over immediately. Nausea gripped him like a vise and like always, always, always, he thought that if he just sat perfectly still that he'd be able to make it without vomiting.
Bile rose like acid in the back of his throat and he was up and in the bathroom just in time.
He was kneeling in front of the toilet, his head resting on a forearm braced across the bowl, when he became aware of her presence. A part of him marveled at how out of it he must be, to have missed hearing the bedroom door open, to miss the sound of her footsteps and the scent that was unmistakably Marie.
"Get out," he told her, even as he listened to her fill a glass with cold tap water he felt a sudden thirst for.
Her easy dismissal of a direct order would have rankled him in the light of day, but in the shaky aftermath of his worst dreams he found her refusal to leave him reassuring. "I'm naked," he told her, rather unnecessarily, in a weak last effort to send her away.
"Ain't nothin' I don't have your own memories of," she told him, and he felt her small gloved hand stroking over his shoulders. "C'mon, sugar. Stand up."
"Look, I'll flash ya later and we'll call it even. Promise."
A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and he groaned, letting go of the porcelain bowl as he stood. She handed him the glass and told him to rinse, brush his teeth, then sip the water slowly.
"Shit, kid, ya think I haven't been through this drill a time or two?" The words lacked any heat at all and he raised the glass to his lips as she stepped around him. He rinsed his mouth out and spat into the sink as she flushed the toilet.
He watched her pull aside the shower curtain while he brushed his teeth. She slipped a glove off one hand to test the heat of the water and then plugged the drain with a rubber stopper.
He'd never had a woman draw a bath for him before and he found the gesture infinitely intimate. He liked the feeling in ways he didn't feel up to exploring so he turned away from her while he scrubbed the back of his tongue with the toothbrush. She's twenty, he told himself. Twenty.
He rinsed out the brush and jammed it in the holder perhaps a little harder than needed. "There's no chance you're gonna let me bathe in fuckin' peace and quiet, is there?"
"Nah." She flipped the lid down over the toilet and took a seat, pulling her glove back on. "I'm all woke up now and in the mood to chat."
"Whatever," he muttered disbelievingly. He passed in front of her and climbed into the tub, losing more and more of his self-consciousness along the way. It wasn't that he was embarrassed by his own nudity in the company of a woman, but Christ, this was Marie and God only knew what thoughts were floating around in that pretty little head of hers.
"You're right, I'm totally lying." She rolled her eyes and blew a tangle of white and brown hair out of her face. "I thought I'd stick around 'cause, mm mm mmmm, I sure do love me some sick, clammy man."
All right - heh. "Don't be a bitch."
"Don't be an idiot, then," she huffed in return. "I'm not some starry-eyed twit struck dumb by the sight of your body. You've got a nice ass, sure, but I just watched you toss your cookies. You still look pretty green around the gills."
He felt a laugh rumble through his chest despite himself. "Takes a bit of the shine off, eh?"
"I'm just sayin', I'm not exactly pantin' over you at the moment."
Logan leaned back in the deep bathtub as the water rose around him. "Well, hell, I guess Chuck's right," he said, closing his eyes and resting the back of his head against the wall. "There's a first time for everything."
Her little outraged gasp amused him. "You - I can't believe - oh fuck you, Logan!"
"Now there's that quick-witted charm you Southern belles are famous for."
She gave another irritated huff of exasperation and he wondered if he'd always find it so fun to get up under her skin.
"I've got more charm in my little toe than most of the women you . . . associate with, sugar," she informed him rather archly. "You just don't see it 'cause you've got your head stuck so far up your ass where I'm concerned that it's a wonder you can tell the difference 'tween night and day."
Oh fuck, he thought, lifting one eyelid long enough to watch her try to get comfortable on top of the toilet. I should have seen this coming. "Don't start," he told her, using a stern tone of voice he hoped would nip this conversation in the bud.
"I'm just sayin' -"
He heard a 'hmph' and then, "I was just going to point out that this is a perfect example of how good I could be for you."
"Fine, then," she snapped back. "I won't say anything at all about how comforting and caring I could be when you're having awful nights like these. You know, given half a chance and a nylon suit."
Shit, a twenty-year-old Marie in a body stocking. He didn't need thoughts like those while he sat stark naked in a hot bath right beside her. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he said, "Look, kid, you wanna comfort me? You wanna show me a little caring?"
"Yes," she answered. Immediately, sincerely, whole-heartedly. Shit.
"Good," he replied. "Go get me a beer, then."
"Now why do you gotta be like that?"
"Why do you gotta give me mouth when I tell you to do something?"
The chocolate warmth of her eyes took on a special little gleam and he mentally kicked himself for his own choice of words. She let the silence thicken between while her smile stretched wider and wider. "Give me an order worth following and I'll be the best little soldier ever. Like 'Kiss me, Marie.' Or 'Right there, Marie,' I'd follow that one. Ooh! Hey! 'Faster, Marie.' I'd be all over that -"
"Shut the fuck up, Marie." But there was a suspicious lack of animosity to his tone and he guessed his smile might have taken a little more out of the intended sting.
"See, that's an order that'll just get you . . . what did you call it? Mouth."
Her words carried enough teasing innuendo to conjure up some pretty interesting mental images. As it was, he couldn't keep his gaze from dropping to her full, soft lips, which wasn't lost on her at all if that sudden smirk was any indication.
His eyes drifted lower, down over the high neckline of her thin, white cotton nightgown, and there he halted. He could tell the material was soft, made to feel like a well-worn t-shirt, and it clung to her body in ways that made him think thoughts he knew he couldn't afford to think in his current state of undress.
But he couldn't stop himself from glancing lower, at the high, rounded breasts that seemed barely contained by the gown. His eyes lingered on her breasts and as he watched, her nipples rose and hardened against the thin material and he knew he'd never again have to wonder at their color. Just their taste.
Over the past year since his return, she'd starred in a number of his more sordid fantasies, but he'd made sure to give her no outward sign of his interest. He told himself that she was too young, too impressionable, too untouchable, and that no matter how hard she threw herself at him he wouldn't catch her. So he was more than a little alarmed when he'd realized one afternoon that his definition of 'sexy' had shifted at some point, from tall, willowy women to one short, curvy girl in particular.
An unmistakable shift in her scent, coupled with a quickened heart rate, and he forced himself to tear his gaze from her body. Unfortunately, certain parts of him had already taken a rising interest in the goings on around him.
The whole stupid situation made him crazy. Her youth irritated him. Her unshakeable devotion irritated him. Her recent, relentless pursuit, which more often than not left him conflicted and hard, irritated him.
He was in deep shit with her and knew it, felt like he had nothing but a teaspoon to dig himself out with, and that, more than anything else . . . irritated him.
"Get outta here, kid."
She laughed, thoroughly amused, though he noticed that she was having a hard time keeping her eyes up around his torso. "What's so fuckin' funny?"
"You," she replied immediately. "Calling me 'kid' two seconds after staring at my tits. I find it kinda funny, 'cause I have this feeling that you're gonna be calling me that my whole life. Even after we've been together for years and years, I can just see it now - 'Kid, do this' and 'Kid, do that.'"
Christ. "*Marie*, I really hate to have to break it to ya, but we ain't ever gonna be together the way you're thinking."
Her smile never wavered, not a single bit. "Bullshit, sugar."
He found her utter confidence both annoying and endearing, which only served to further irritate him. "What the hell makes you so certain?" It was out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He wanted an answer, and hadn't stopped to think before asking. He'd always put a stop to these conversations when they started to get out of hand, but shit, reason had taken a flying leap fifteen minutes ago when he allowed her to stay while he relaxed naked in the fuckin' tub.
"Certain about what?" And damn if she wasn't moving off the seat onto the floor, scooting over to lean against the tub near his waist. She rested a forearm on the edge of the tub and tucked her feet up under her in an effort to get comfortable.
He realized that she probably found it hard to carry on a conversation while trying to avoid looking at his prominent erection, and that's why she'd positioned herself so she'd have to completely turn her head to see it. He knew her well enough to know she'd never be so impolite as to stare at him as he'd stared at her, and he thanked his lucky stars for the Southern upbringing he teased her for so often.
In answer to her question, though, he clarified his request with a gruff voice. "About us endin' up together. No matter how many times I shake you off or push you away, you keep right on lookin' at me like I'm one real slow motherfucker and you're just waiting around for me to find a clue," he grunted. Before she could respond, he added, "And when you're not doin' that, you're lookin' at me like I personally climbed up and hung the goddamn moon. Why?"
She rested her elbow on the edge of the tub and propped her chin in her hand, and her smile was sweet and slow-growing and oh yeah, he thought, there's that Hung the Moon look again.
"One of these days you're gonna realize you love the hell out of me," she began, and he didn't need any of his enhanced senses to tell him she believed what she was saying. "It'll hit you like a ton of bricks - bam! - and you'll know, you'll just know, that I'm the one you can't imagine being without. You'll just have to have me, no ifs ands or buts about it. And knowing our luck, you're sure as shit gonna have this sudden epiphany while you're thousands of miles away and you'll have to drive like crazy to get back to me."
She reached out and pinched his shoulder with her gloved fingers, twisting a bit of his flesh sharply. "You asked," she said, releasing him. "Work with me here."
"Fine," he muttered, briefly closing his eyes so she wouldn't see them roll. "And then what? I get back from God knows where and - what?"
"Well, I figure you'll steal me away in the middle of the night." There was a glint of mischief in her eyes and he could tell from her scent she was at least partially yanking his leg. "See, I've got this bag all packed with these neat little trial-sized toiletries and I'm talkin' everything a girl could need for at least a month on the road. Hairspray and mouthwash and lotion and the cutest little shampoo and conditioner bottles. Gloves so I can touch you and jeans, t-shirts and makeup. And there's something like a hundred sheer scarves to kiss you with, most of 'em black so you won't feel all unmanly about the whole scarf deal."
Something tightened in his chest at her words and the dreamy expression on her sleepy, clean-scrubbed face. He knew the bag was real at least, he'd seen it pushed under the corner of her bed. A part of him wondered at the contents, and a part of him didn't want to know how much of what she was telling was true.
"Where would we go?" he heard himself asking, seemingly despite himself.
Shoulda figured, he thought. "By way of Canada?"
"Nah. We'll head west across the States and then north," she answered, her smile widening. "We're gonna make a stop in Las Vegas 'fore we head up through Canada. And then we'll spend a few weeks in that cabin of yours in the boonies, have fantastic sex that's just gonna blow your mind, and then sometime after that we'll make it to Alaska."
By the time she finished speaking, his eyebrows felt like they were somewhere in his hairline, and he couldn't stop the laugh that rumbled up from the tips of his toes. "I gotta get hitched by an Elvis impersonator before the fantastic sex?"
"No, of course not." And she laughed at the very absurdity of making him wait for marriage, and he was just about to laugh along with her when she added, "You gotta get hitched to keep on having that fantastic sex. Momma didn't raise no fool."
His shoulders shook and he all but howled, which probably didn't endear him much to her but he couldn't help it if he tried.
It took a moment or two to catch his breath, and when he did she was waiting with an arched eyebrow and a mouth that tried not to grin.
"Okay," she said, dipping her fingers in the water and flicking a few droplets at him. "You done laughin' at me yet?"
He took a deep breath and wondered at the ache in his face from smiling far more than he was accustomed to doing. "Yeah," he answered, capturing her gloved hand in his before she could splash any more water. "But now I'd like the truth."
"Damn," she smiled, a bit ruefully. "One of these days I'm gonna pass your lie-detector."
"No fucking way, baby." He felt her hand clench his just the slightest bit at being called something other than the dreaded 'kid' and he stored that away. "Talk."
"Alright, that was kind of a fairy tale answer," she admitted, and her cocky bravado seemed to melt away right before his eyes. "The real one is actually pretty simple."
She suddenly found the tile pattern on the floor considerably more interesting than she had a minute ago. "The truth is that I'm not at all sure of how things'll end up bein' between us. I stopped tryin' to hide how I feel about you because the older I've grown, the farther apart we've drifted and I have no idea where or how I'm supposed to fit into your life. I have an idea, though." Big brown eyes met his briefly before returning to the intense study of tiles. "So basically, to answer that question from like, ten minutes ago, I act the way I do because I guess I'm - well, I guess I'm just . . . hoping."
He let go of her hand and reached out to stroke her hair, and he was glad she wasn't looking at him because he had no idea what his eyes would tell her. Something shifted inside him, maybe it was his old heart turning over, he didn't know. He wasn't ready to think too much about it, yet.
"You need to go to bed," he told her after awhile. "So do I."
"And hey, there's a big bed out there," she answered, regaining some of her sparkle. "Two birds, one stone, what do ya think?"
"Yeah, yeah," she muttered, rising to her feet with a yawn. "I'm gonna go change your sweaty sheets and then I'll be out of your hair."
He caught her gloved hand when she turned toward the door and when she looked down at him, surprised, he pressed a brief kiss to her bare wrist and felt her pulse jump beneath the delicate skin. "Thanks, kid. I mean . . . thank you," he said, a bit too gruffly, and he wished the words didn't feel and sound so unfamiliar in his mouth.
He knew he should say more, but he couldn't find the words. He wanted to thank her for braving his claws to help him out after a nightmare, wanted to thank her not leaving him alone, wanted to thank her for caring about him in a way no one else on earth had ever cared about him.
She nodded, her big eyes soft and understanding. She heard it. She knew it. "I'll see ya tomorrow, Logan."
"I'll come by and getcha for breakfast."
"Can't," she said, and she shook her head apologetically. "I've got a breakfast date in the mornin' with Remy."
He opened his mouth to make a remark but closed it again without comment. "Hmph."
She ruffled his hair with gentle fingers. "I'm waitin' on ya, sugar, oh yeah. But I never said I'd wait all by my lonesome."
He thudded the back of his head against the wall behind him and groaned. "Shit, you just fuckin' don't give up, do ya?"
"Why should I?" A seemingly innocent shrug and he had to look away from the sway of her breasts. "You're like, this close to cracking. And when you do, oh Logan, it's gonna be so good between us. So good."
Thud. "You're gonna be the death of me, kid. I know it."
"Take it like a man," she laughed. "You're tough. You're - what did they call you? - you're the King of the Cage. You really think a little love is gonna knock you on your ass?"
He only sighed, couldn't even answer. What was he supposed to do, admit to fear? Fuck that. "Go on, would ya?"
Her eyes were fond when she reached the doorway and looked back over her shoulder. "It's gonna be all right, Logan."
She left the bathroom then, and he could hear her humming softly as she stripped his bed and made it up again with fresh linens. When she stuck her head in to say goodnight before she left, she blew him a saucy kiss that had him yelling all over again, and when he finally got out of the tub he crawled between clean sheets that smelled like Marie.
There would be no more gut-wrenching nightmares tonight, he knew. No, if he dreamed at all, he had a feeling that he'd see sheer black scarves instead of faceless doctors. Elvis impersonators and tiny toiletries instead of soldiers and bloodshed.
He'd sleep peacefully and maybe, if he was lucky, he'd dream of a sweet stubborn girl who hoped for him.
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