The sun kept coming up every morning.
Even after Bobby packed and moved out without a word. Even
when the students whispered about Marie, or, worse, shunned
her. Even when Jean became so irrational that the Professor
asked her not to visit the mansion but let him come to her.
The sun kept coming up every morning.
This morning it snuck around the place where the curtains
had pulled back a little, and a stream of it hit Marie in
the eyes. She grumbled and curled up in a tighter ball, her
head on Scott's chest. His navy blue t-shirt had been washed
a thousand times and its fabric was soft against Marie's
cheek. She could feel the soft rise and fall of Scott's
chest as he slept on and on. Perhaps he was dreaming of
something nice, because there was a little smile on his
She hadn't seen much of that smile in the last few weeks.
Most of the time Scott was sullen and withdrawn, shut off
from almost everyone. He had been talking to the Professor a
lot, and Hank, but little by little he spent more of his
time alone. Most days found him working on his motorcycle or
reading in the shade of the enormous maple tree by the pond.
Marie spent a lot of time in the Danger Room. Ororo had said
that losing weight was fine but losing muscle tone was
inexcusable, so Marie found solace in working out. Many
times Hank would join her. He was surprisingly agile for a
man his size, landing on his feet without the thump and
grunt that accompanied Marie's stunts. He also had a habit
of quoting poetry while pinning her to the mat, which she
found charming in a completely surreal way.
Scott moaned slightly in his sleep and Marie put her arm
around him, holding him close in hopes of quelling the
nightmares that came more and more frequently. "Hush, Scott,
it's okay," she whispered in his ear, and he became quiet
again although his muscles were still rigid. Marie wondered
if she should talk to Hank about it.
Hank had become a good friend since the day she had
swallowed her embarrassment and asked him to prescribe birth
control pills and also inquired, terrified of the answer, if
condoms would be necessary for protection from her powers if
Scott were "clean." They weren't, Hank explained in the most
genteel language possible when discussing the differences
between skin and mucus membranes. He cheered her up by
adding, "I believe that Scott will find that news to be
invigorating. He may even choose to act upon it with
When she had gone to Scott with the good news about being
able to have physical contact without a barrier between
them, Scott had smiled absently and said, "That sounds
good," as if she had been discussing the weather or a recipe
for chocolate souffle. Not only had he not "acted upon it
with alacrity,", but he also forgot he'd had the
conversation. When he reached for the condoms that night,
when they were making love, Marie had begun to cry and
didn't stop until the next morning.
He was sorry.
He was always sorry. He was also always a little bit
absent-minded, a little bit distracted. A little bit
humorless. Almost the only thing that made him laugh anymore
was the continually changing designs Marie drew around the
slits in his sheets. The ones that really made him chuckle
were the ones Marie later made permanent with embroidery.
God knows it was hard enough to get Scott to laugh these
days, so it was worth the pricked fingers.
Scott was beginning to wake up now, struggling against the
current until he broke through the surface. He even woke up
predictably: a stretch, a yawn, then his hand on his sleep
glasses to ensure they were fastened properly. Then he
turned over and put his gloved hand on Marie's face. She
rubbed her cheek against his palm, almost purring.
"Morning," Scott said in the sleep-roughened voice that
always made Marie's insides turn to jelly. Sometimes he'd
ask if she'd had sweet dreams. She always jumped him when he
did that. Once he made the connection between the words and
the sex, Scott used them more frequently.
"Did you have sweet dreams?" he whispered into her ear, and
within minutes they were making use of the sheet with the
atom diagram surrounding the slit.
She decided at that moment that it was worth whatever cruel
form of limbo they were all existing in, just to have the
opportunity to make love to Scott Summers.
He wasn't Logan, and she wasn't Jean, but they found solace
in one another and, in time, the solace had become genuine
pleasure. Mutated, if you wanted to put it that way.
Whatever the cause, Marie was content to let Scott pour out
his affection on her and delighted to be able to do the same
for him. Body and soul and mind, all flowing like liquid.
She was damned, she thought as Scott collapsed against her
and told her she was beautiful, if she knew why they were
both so fucking miserable.
As Marie stood at the stove, scrambling eggs - she loved
their cook, but didn't anyone understand that scrambled eggs
should be kept on the fire until they weren't shiny anymore?
- she heard the Professor's wheelchair coming up from
"Good morning, Marie. Burning some eggs?" Xavier inquired.
"Making a civilized breakfast, yes. You know, actually
cooking my food?" She stirred the eggs more vigorously.
"Care to join me?"
"Thank you, no, I've had my breakfast already." He liked
soft-boiled eggs, served in porcelain cups. Her first week
at the mansion, Marie had thought they were votive candle
holders and the children had laughed at her for it until
Jean sent a mental warning that embarrassed them all into
"One of the cups still smells like a vanilla candle," the
Professor remarked mildly. When Marie blushed, he put his
hand on her arm, resting it on the sleeve. "I'm reading your
face, my dear, not your mind. Actually, I quite like that
cup. It reminds me of a less complicated time."
"I'd think," Marie said, speaking slowly and keeping her
gaze on the contents of the frying pan, "that the best times
were the ones before I came."
His sharp eyes opened wide. "Marie, that is simply not true.
We have had challenges, to be sure, but I can no more
imagine this place without you than without Scott."
She refused to let herself cry. There had been too much of
that these last few months. In the moments that lapsed
before she regained control, she turned away from both the
Professor and the stove, and a few seconds later she
realized that the eggs were burning. "Dammit!" She scooped
them up with the spatula and tilted her head to look
underneath. Almost black.
"I'd say they were done enough even for you," Xavier
Afterwards, Marie wouldn't remember what made her throw the
eggs against the wall. Or the frying pan, which landed on
the rug and nearly set it on fire. All she knew was that
suddenly she was on the floor, shaking from head to foot
while the Professor tried to soothe her. She sensed his
voice in her mind even though she could not make out the
words. The sound was so comforting that she drew herself up
on her knees and put her head down on his lap.
"Marie, Marie," he murmured as he stroked her hair.
Still holding her tears at bay, Marie relaxed a little,
willing her breathing to even out, forcing down the lump in
her throat. She could smell the fine wool of the Professor's
trousers mixed with the acrid, sulphuric smell of the burnt
eggs. She kept her eyes squeezed tightly shut the way Scott
did when he thought his glasses might have slipped.
Somewhere in the maelstrom in her brain she wondered if her
powers might mutate to where her tears became as deadly as
"Marie," the Professor said again, "may I ask you to do me a
She sat up, sniffling a little, and opened her eyes. No acid
rain here, just the Professor's serene face. "Stop trying to
cook?" she asked.
"No, indeed. But the reason I came in was to ask you to take
a look at a young man who came to us yesterday."
"That's kind of unusual," Marie said. Actually, it had never
happened before. It was always Ororo or Hank who checked on
the new arrivals. "Does he have a mutation like mine?"
"Hardly," Xavier replied. A smile tugged at the corners of
his mouth. "The boy's name is Rafe, and his 'special power'
seems to be seeing through plastic."
Marie stared at him. Was this a joke? "That's it?"
"Pretty much. I think he might benefit from a little
conversation with you. He feels that his 'gift' isn't
adequate, a self-diagnosis based on the way the other
children are shunning him. Rather the way you felt when you
first came and had the incident with Logan's claws."
Okay, so maybe this Rafe kid wasn't going to be a special
needs mutant after all. "I get it, Professor. I really do."
"I knew you would. Now pick up the mess and I'll have Angie
make you a proper breakfast. Even if you do insist on eating
She got up, straightened her clothes, and brushed her hair
back from her face. "At least I won't have chickens coming
out of my breakfast," she retorted as she leaned over and
kissed him on the top of his head. "I'll go talk to Rafe the
Wonder Boy. What are you doing today?"
"Giving a lecture. Seeing Jean and Logan."
Cold knife deep in the heart.
Marie shrugged it off, or tried to. "Any progress there?"
she asked. Neither of them had returned to the mansion since
the unfortunate dinner. Suddenly, the task of scraping eggs
off the floor and cleaning up after herself took on an
unexpected benefit: the Professor could not see her face.
But he could sense her, of course. Not only a telepath but a
damn good judge of human - or mutant - nature. "Some,"
Xavier said cautiously. "It's very odd that Jean is usually
quite subdued, even loving, when she's in the carriage
house. It's when she comes here that the problems manifest
themselves." He sighed. "She misses Scott terribly."
"Having an affair with Logan is a funny way of showing it,"
"Yes. Finding solace in the arms of a surrogate does make
one wonder about many, many things."
Her cheeks burned but she kept her voice level. "And how's
"You can ask him yourself. He's coming up here so I can talk
to Jean in private. He is very concerned about you."
"He's not going to try and give Scott an ass-kicking or
anything, is he?"
"No, no. Not only have I expressly forbidden it--"
"Like that'd stop him," Marie said under her breath.
"Not only have I expressly forbidden it, but he is unwilling
to do anything to cause you further suffering. The last time
we spoke, it was all about the things he's done, real and
imagined, that have caused you pain. He said that if you
truly love Scott, then the rest is none of his business. If
you truly love Scott."
She knew that he expected a response from her, a quick and
complete avowal of a love as pure as...some pure thing. She
couldn't think, and she knew that with every second that
passed, the Professor would have more cause to doubt her. "I
do love him. He's good to me, he's kind to me, and he's
strong and he's sensitive and he's honorable."
"Those are words you could also use to describe Logan."
"Kind? Sensitive?" Marie snorted.
The Professor wheeled around in front of her and forced her
to meet his stern gaze. "Kinder than you give him credit
for, Marie, and more sensitive than he would ever admit. A
heart like his, once won, is easily broken."
I'll look after you.
Yeah. I promise.
"That night, on Liberty Island, those stab wounds - they
were from his own claws," the Professor said. "Magneto had
him pinned with his hands across his chest, and the only way
he could get free was to use the force of his claws to push
himself away from the copper wall. He stabbed himself
because he couldn't bear to hear your screams. He let his
wounds return to bring you back to life. These aren't the
actions of a casual bystander."
She remembered seeing him in the Blackbird on the way home,
nearly lifeless, blood pumping from gashes in his chest and
on his back. She took off one glove and wiped her sweating
palm on her jeans. "I thought it was Sabretooth," she
murmured. "That's what he wanted me to think, wasn't it?"
"Logan came to for a few moments when we were getting ready
to transport him. He made it absolutely plain that you were
not to know. I think even then he knew he would have to earn
your respect and your love by more mortal means than those."
Both of them jumped slightly when they heard someone
clearing his throat. Logan, as if on cue. For an instant,
before he had time to harden his features, he looked at
Marie with an expression of pure longing, enough to make her
whole body feel a surge of warmth.
"I must go to Jean now," the Professor said quietly. "And
the two of you must talk." He paused in front of Logan and
the men exchanged understanding looks. Then he was gone and
Marie was alone with Logan.
"How much did you hear?" she asked, busying herself with
more of the egg mess on the wall so she wouldn't have to
look at him.
"He ratted me out about Liberty Island. That's when I came
in." Through her peripheral vision Marie could see Logan
lean against the refrigerator door, which gave slightly
under his bulk. "I wish he hadn't."
She made herself turn around and meet his eyes. "I'm glad he
"Okay, then." He folded his arms across his chest. "Did your
eggs just explode or something?"
"I threw them."
Marie couldn't think of a suitable answer. Logan took the
towel out of her hands and wrapped his palms around her
wrists. He was wearing gloves. Premeditated touching. Marie
looked from his hands back up to his face but she simply
could not speak.
"Marie, if you want to be with Scott, then I'm not going to
say or do anything to get in the way. But you have to tell
She took a deep breath. Of course she loved Scott, she could
do this. She could look Logan in the eye and tell him.
"I don't know," is what came out of her mouth before she
could stop it.
"But he needs me, Logan. You never needed me, you were just
killing time until you could come back and sweep Jean off
her feet. Well, she came back and swept you off your feet
instead, but it's the same difference." She pulled herself
free from his grasp. "You got what you wanted. Don't you
dare come in here and try to confuse me, try to divide my
loyalty, because I'm not gonna do it, do you hear me? I will
not betray him!"
"You betray him," Logan hissed, "every time you fuck him and
wish it was me."
"I don't!" A lie, but she put her hand over her heart like
the heroine in a Victorian melodrama.
Maybe his senses were so keen that he could smell how
blatant the lie was. He leaned over her, so close that she
could feel the heat coming off him in waves. "I know you do,
because it's the same for me and Jean. And I'm willin' to
bet that Scott's said the wrong name more than once. Maybe
he turns it into 'Je-jesus' the way I say 'Ma-My God,' but
he does it. He's a guy, Marie, he screws up even if he is
the almighty great leader Cyclops."
She couldn't remember. Had he done that this morning? Had
she, come to think of it, bitten back the name of the man
who hovered over her now, staring her down?
"Stop it," she whispered sharply. "Just...stop it. I can't
talk to you right now, you make me crazy."
"I'm sorry." Truly penitent now. She almost expected him to
go down on his knees. What he did was worse. He took her
ungloved hand between his and brought it to his lips, then a
single tear dropped onto her bare skin.
His. That heart the Professor said could be so easily broken
- she had shattered it.
Marie stood on tiptoe, bringing herself close enough for him
to kiss her, but instead he let go of her hand, turned, and
strode out of the room. Marie's hand stayed in the air for a
long time, then she brought it to her own lips and kissed
the place where the tear had fallen.
"You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"