He balanced above her, his lean, supple body rubbing against
the sheet that separated them. Always a quick thinker, Scott
had made one little rent in the material. Always a teacher,
Scott had started to tell her about some Central American
wedding-night customs before Marie had kissed him into
The kissing part was good. Better than the original flurry
of nerves, all this tasting and sampling and experimenting.
Better than the sharp pain she couldn't conceal.
Marie wanted to pretend, but it was no use; even with her
eyes closed she knew damn well the difference between
Bobby's gangly body and Scott's sinewy one. No, fantasizing
wouldn't help, because there could be no substitute for
Logan's muscular bulk. Because Scott had the visor on, Marie
couldn't tell if he was looking at her or not, but judging
from the difficulty he was having, he probably was.
It didn't help that she was scared, that she was tightening
herself in all the wrong places, making the discomfort last
far longer than it needed to. It wasn't discomfort, it was
pain, dammit, and she could tell that it hurt Scott to cause
her pain, and this was so very much not the way she'd
imagined this moment would be.
But she wanted him inside her, so she tamped down the fear
and made herself relax enough to let him in. Another jolt of
pain, and another, sharper one, and it was done.
I'm fucking Mr. Summers, she thought, knowing she was living
out a fantasy for the girls and maybe even a couple of the
guys. However, visualizing the imaginary reaction of her
classmates wasn't going to make this any more pleasurable.
"You don't have to do this," Scott gasped as Marie winced in
discomfort. "I can stop. I can stop."
His voice didn't have the desperate edge she knew all too
well from Bobby's well-intentioned fumblings. Thing was, he
could stop, and she could stop, and they'd probably never
have to mention it again.
Hell, that would be too easy.
"Don't stop," she breathed into his open mouth.
"Please...please..." Erase it all, she thought as Scott
moved inside her. Just erase it all.
It took an eternity for Scott to reach orgasm. For a moment,
Marie thought he might have faked it, but the condom sounded
heavy when he threw it into the wastebasket. He wrapped her
in the sheet and cradled her in his arms, her back against
his chest, careful not to touch bare skin. "I'm so sorry,"
"Yeah, that's what you want to hear your first time," Marie
groaned. As tired as she was, her body still pinged with
need. Scott stroked her, his capable hands - experienced,
she reminded herself, experienced with Jean, Jean, always
Jean - stroking everywhere it was safe and even flicking
over unsafe, uncovered skin.
He tugged at the fingers of her left glove. "I need this,"
he said softly. "Or another one."
Marie held out her hands and let Scott pull off her left
glove. "I do this left-handed," he murmured.
"Do what?" she began to ask, but it turned into a ragged
intake of breath when his gloved fingers reached between her
thighs. "Jesus Christ, Mary, Joseph, five saints, and three
This part was good. It was amazing, brilliant, confounding,
delightful... She didn't remember the alphabet anymore,
didn't remember anything but this feeling that washed away
anything related to conscious thought. She liked that he
didn't always know exactly what she needed; the element of
surprise when he connected with the right speed or the right
spot was sheer heaven.
And he got the timing and the spot right more and more often
as he kept going, kept going...
"Scott!" she shrieked. He put his bare hand over her mouth
to quiet her and she felt the first tickle of his powers.
For a second she understood everything that was going
through his complex mind - the lust, of course, and his
genuine delight at her pleasure. His embarrassment at having
kept condoms in his nightstand in case Jean changed her mind
and returned to him. But most of all, she knew he was deeply
Whatever was happening behind his visor would always be a
mystery to Marie, but she could see by the set of his jaw
and the twitching of his lips that he was about to spiral
down into self-loathing.
"I wanted this as much as you did," Marie said, hoping to
forestall Scott's inevitable gloom.
"But I'm older. I should know better." He pulled her closer,
wincing at the bloodstains on the bed and on their shared
glove. "Oh, my God."
"I'm fine," Marie insisted. She turned around to give him a
quick kiss, enough to tingle but not enough to sap his
strength any further. "I need to get cleaned up before
dinner or Ororo will roast me."
"Wait, I'll put on some clothes and make sure the coast is
clear." He looked somehow more naked, more vulnerable,
because of the glasses. He slipped into sweatpants, keeping
his back to Marie. She admired the sleekness of his body, no
matter the angle. It was too bad he kept it covered with
loose shirts and pants all the time.
Scott opened the door a little and looked up and down the
hall. "Go. Fast."
Marie bolted off the bed and raced into her own room.
Quickly turning the shower up full blast, she let the
bedsheet fall to her feet and turned toward the mirror.
Not much different. Her lips were a little puffy and she had
flushed cheeks, but the Big Traumatic Change, the neon sign
saying "I've just had sex" - those were nowhere in evidence.
By the time she had showered and dressed again, she looked
no different than she had before. Before.
Scott, on the other hand, looked like hammered hell when he
came down to dinner. To be sure, not a hair was out of place
and his clothing was immaculate, but he was white as a
sheet. Marie had to stifle a giggle when she remembered how
they had used his sheet, then she had to suppress the whole
memory because she was eating dinner with not one but two
Logan and Jean were joining them.
This was going to be worse than the Thanksgiving when her
dog got into the turkey.
It didn't start off too badly. Jean seemed to be mostly
Jean, although she was very much on edge. Logan almost
smiled at her when he went past, although she nearly had a
heart attack when he stopped near Scott's chair and sniffed
lightly. Surely, surely Scott had taken a shower at least
as scalding as her own. Whatever Logan learned from his
olfactory sampling, he didn't let it show on his face.
Hank and Jean provided most of the chatter as they talked
about medicine in terms that went over everyone else's
heads. Something about tissue regeneration and the changes
in Jean's eyes. Marie didn't understand it. She kept
focusing on her plate and trying not to look at Scott.
The Professor, Hank, and Jean were fascinated by Marie's
ability to transfer Logan's healing power to someone who had
been exposed to her touch. Particularly Jean, who positively
beamed at Marie. There was a time when Jean's admiring smile
would have made Marie feel like an empress, but tonight it
just made her feel cheap. Cheap and guilty. She reached for
her glass and it spilled, just as her blood had spilled on
"Marie, are you all right?" Scott asked. Too quickly, too
protectively. And had he ever called her by her real name
before? Logan's eyes widened. Oh, holy hell.
He looked from her to Scott and back again. Of course he
could smell her blood, and he was probably smelling some
remnant of her on Scott. She felt a presence in her mind,
like before, and suddenly Jean was watching Scott's face as
he watched Marie slip out of her clothes...
"Jean," the Professor said sternly. "Don't invade the girl's
Her eyes glowed copper as Jean remarked, "Especially since
the girl is now a woman."
It was like a comedy - forks dropping into plates, Ororo
half-choking on a piece of bread, Jean simpering as Scott
turned blood-red. Bobby getting up so abruptly that his
chair hit the floor with a loud crush of wood on wood. Yes,
a dining-room comedy with her as the unwitting star.
Bobby turned toward Logan with fury, but Logan was looking
Marie felt the jolt of disgust that wracked Bobby's entire
body. Felt the betrayal and the surge of icy anger. But she
wasn't prepared for Bobby to shove Scott hard into the wall,
screaming, "I am gonna freeze your fucking balls off, you
son of a bitch!"
"Bobby!" shrieked Marie. "Stop!"
He did, ironically frozen in mid-gesture with Xavier's green
eyes focused on him. "Let him go. Sit down," Xavier said as
if inviting him to tea.
Bobby obeyed, his face blank except for spots of color on
his cheeks. His hands were still tinged blue with ice.
Xavier sighed. "It's not unheard of for people placed in
close quarters to develop affection for one another. After
all, that's what originally brought Scott and Jean
"Marie and I were talking about that just a few hours ago It
did not occur to me in any way, shape, or form that she
would misinterpret my words," Hank said. Marie could endure
the Professor's coldness and Jean's snide abuse, but Hank's
disappointment felt like acid dripping on her soul. "She may
be of legal age now, Scott, but older and wiser heads should
"I don't disagree with you," Scott said. He looked miserable
as he slumped in his seat and put his head in his hands.
"Chaos theory," Hank murmured. "Change one thing, change the
"Chaos theory, my ass! How could you do it?" Logan, now,
turning on Scott. Scowling. Claws emerging, ready to
eviscerate him. "You sick bastard, how could you do it?"
No longer passive, Scott stared Logan down. "Why do you
care? Jean wasn't enough? You want her, too?"
"I promised to protect her. Hell of a job I'm doing," Logan
growled. He glanced at her, making her face flush with
shame. "I oughtta open your fucking intestines, Cyclops."
"Why, so you can go after her next? How much of what I care
about will you try to take from me? How much of my life are
you going to destroy?"
It was the same uncontrolled fury they had seen in Xavier's
study the day Jean had come back to them. Scott was normally
so correct, so in command of everything in his mind and
heart. When the emotions behind them were unleashed...
"It's my fault." Jean's eyes were closed, tears darkening
her lashes. "The Phoenix - there's a link that she uses to
"Who, Jean," the Professor asked urgently, reaching out to
stroke her hand. "Is it Scott?"
"No." Jean shook her head and opened her eyes. "It's Rogue."
Marie started to shake all over. "Why me? Why is she linked
"Because you slept with her fiance," Bobby snapped. Marie
slapped him, a glancing blow that left her palm cold and
Jean reached toward them with her free hand. "No. It was
like that from the start. It was when she - we - got close
to Marie that I started to lose control of myself. Maybe
it's the bond she has with both Logan and Scott, I don't
know, but I can't make it stop when I'm around her! She's
the catalyst!" With that, she ran out of the room.
Scott tried to follow her out, only to be stopped by Logan's
outstretched arm. "Let her go. Let her think it out."
"He's right," Xavier added. "This is the first breakthrough
in months. If she gets enough of herself back to talk to me
- really talk to me, this time - then perhaps we can put an
end to this whole disaster."
Scott broke free of Logan and stood with his legs slightly
apart and his hands on his hips. It was his leader pose, and
even though he was a couple of inches shorter than Logan, it
was effective. "You got what you wanted. Now get out of my
"Don't!" He put his hand up, palm outward. Maybe it was only
Marie who saw the slight tremor. "Don't ever call me by that
"Okay," Logan mumbled. "Cyclops. Whatever, whoever, it's
just a matter of time before we get Jean back and YOU get
Jean back. If you want to spend the time in between with a
woman, I can't say as I blame you. Just not HER." He
inclined his head toward Marie, who flinched at the absolute
fury she saw in his eyes. "Or if it's her, then let me tell
you this: you hurt her, I kill you, is that clear?"
Scott's laughter was a shock. "Death, killing, it's all you
think care about. Life is just something to pass the time
until you can kill someone else." He put his hand at Logan's
throat. "You can only juggle life and death so many times,"
he hissed. "I just hope I get to be there when you finally
fuck it up."
"Maybe I already have," Logan said quietly. He moved Scott's
hand without much effort, then walked over to Marie and
knelt by her side. "Marie. Marie, look at me."
She did, and what she saw in his deep hazel eyes made her
breath catch in her throat. "What?" she asked, trying to
sound sullen instead of mesmerized.
"I told you I'd take care of you, that day on the train with
Magneto. And I meant it. It's been crazy, kid, I won't lie
to you, and I got swept up in all the craziness right along
with you. But this is something I can't help you with. You
have to decide if this is what you want. If he's what you
want. If he is, then I won't say another word to you or
anyone else about it."
Marie looked around the table. At Bobby, so desperately
hurt. At the Professor and Hank, profoundly disappointed,
and Ororo, deeply shocked. Then at Scott, imagining his eyes
behind the inscrutable ruby quartz, remembering the feel of
his body next to hers, how much he wanted her. Needed her.
She put her gloved hands on either side of Logan's face. "He
needs me," she whispered brokenly. Leaning closer, she
whispered into his ear, "I think he'd die without me."
Giving Logan up forever. Right here, right now, this second,
she was telling him she was giving him up forever. It should
hurt more, she thought, but I'm so damn tired.
Logan whispered back, his breath laced with coffee and
cigars. "I think you're right." He pulled away and spoke to
everyone, even though he was looking at the Professor.
"Marie's had to pick up a lot of pieces lately. Between all
the people marchin' around in her head and women returning
from watery graves and such, she's probably more stressed
than we know. So if Cyclops don't mean her no harm, then I
don't see that it's any worse him being twenty-six and
sleeping with her when she's eighteen than when Jean was
twenty-six and Cyclops was eighteen."
Hank's face was twisted into a grimace that he was
unsuccessfully trying to hide with a smile. "Come see me
about protection," he said to Marie as he abruptly left the
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," Marie sobbed. "I didn't mean
for anything like this to happen. We've just been so...so
lonely." She rested her head on her folded arms and wept as
much as she had for Jean's death. This was her death, the
death of the last vestige of her innocence, and probably the
death of the X-Men.
"It is not, my child," Xavier said, reading her thoughts
unobtrusively. "We are not a shattered remnant standing on a
distant shore. We are together and we have a common goal.
That is what will get us through until a solution is found.
I promise you that the X-Men will not dissolve in the acid
of our own self-destruction." He turned to Bobby. "I
understand your heartache better than you know. Nothing
heals that affliction better than absence. You can try and
reconnect with your parents, or you can travel to distant
lands so you can use all those languages you've learned. If
that is what you want, then I will take care of the
arrangements. Then, when you are ready to return to us, you
will be welcome."
Bobby nodded. He gave Marie one last bleak, longing look.
"Can't you?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No, I can't. I'm so sorry, Bobby."
He looked a little like Scott as he rose slowly and
straightened himself up. "Then I'll go pack." Without
waiting for an answer, he walked between Logan and Scott and
left the dining room.
"I think," Ororo said, her melodious voice breaking some of
the tension, "that Marie should get some rest. We can talk
with Jean and see how much better her 'control' is once
she's not involved in a link with Marie."
"You're right," Scott said. He put his hand at the small of
Marie's back. "I'll walk her to her room. Her. Room," he
said, enunciating the words so Logan would back away. "I'll
be right back."
The other students gave them a wide berth. Jean gave them a
quizzical look as they passed her at the foot of the stairs.
"We're going to meet in the Professor's study," Scott said.
"Marie is going to lie down for a while."
Jean said nothing, but Marie saw a simpering smile she
longed to wipe away with her fists. If only she weren't so
tired, she thought as Scott lifted one edge of her scarf and
kissed her through it. If only she weren't so tired, she
thought again as she lay down on her bed.
If only the world weren't coming to an end, she thought as
restless sleep took hold of her and pulled her under its
dark, churning waters.
"You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"