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FIC: Twenty-One: PG-13: 2/2: R, L

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  • Jenn
    2/2 Gloves off. Shit. How d I know you d say that? But a year of nagging does pay off--I strip them off and drop them on the table without further
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2000

      "Gloves off."


      "How'd I know you'd say that?" But a year of nagging does pay off--I strip
      them off and drop them on the table without further comment. "What if--"

      "Marie, darlin', there ain't no one comin' over here for any reason." He
      holds up a hand. "I'm wearin' mine, so no worries. Ready?" He picks up
      his shot and I pick up mine.

      "You think I won't do it," I tell him, seeing his gaze fixed on the
      glass--which I admit I'm maybe holding a little too hard..

      "I think you'll do anything you please. On count, one, two, three."

      It's a shock--as I said, I've done mixes. But this is totally
      different--it tastes terrible, with that light lace of familiarity that
      tells me a few memories of Logan's just broke the surface.

      And it burns all the way down. And I don't realize my eyes are closed
      until I squeeze them open and see him laughing at me.

      "What?" My voice is a croak and that's enough to make him start again.
      How I manage to awaken his sense of humor like this is beyond me.

      "Nothin'." He pours the second shot. "I'll give you to three."

      I take the glass.

      "Why three?"

      "You don't have my tolerance."

      "Logan, you don't have tolerance, you have a healing factor. There's a
      difference. And I can get past three."

      Actually, I don't know about that.

      The second shot goes down much better, and those memories uncoil slowly
      inside me--memories that the years since I touched him had slowly worn down
      into the back of my mind. But I remember this bourbon--a night long ago,
      in a tropical place--a tall woman--

      "I don't need to remember that." I whisper it without even thinking and
      suddenly feel his hand close on my wrist.

      The cool eyes meet mine, and he frowns a little in thought.

      "Remember what?"

      I don't look at him, turning my gaze back to the empty shot in my hand.
      With a certain amount of venom, I slam it on the table. The sound makes me

      Before he can say anything, I reach across and grab his jacket, pulling out
      a cigar.

      "Figured you were the one snatching them," he murmurs, with a slight smile.
      I glance up, wary despite the high alcohol content of my blood at this

      "Just because I have one now?" The smell is a little lighter than the
      usual type he keeps in his room.

      "Nope--you leave your scent on the drawer."

      He looks smug and I blink, thinking that carefully through. And maybe it's
      the alcohol that's keeping the panic at bay, because you know, that should
      really worry me.

      "You couldn't. Sometimes it's months--"

      No fucking way.

      "And since no one goes in there 'cept me--and apparently you, darlin'--it
      stays for awhile."

      Oh my God.

      But oddly he doesn't say anything else--maybe he missed the other places a
      Marie-scent lingers?--and passes me the shot glass and I take it as fast as
      I can get it into my hand. And I'm sure it's my imagination that his
      fingers linger on mine for a second longer than really necessary.

      "How're you going to explain to Scoo--Scott, I mean--getting me drunk?" I
      ask. Logan shrugs.

      "Not gonna." He pulls up the lighter, flicking it on. "You want me to
      light it, Marie?"

      I consider it before biting off the tip and spitting it out.

      "Yeah. Go for it, sugar."

      Okay, so I am feeling the effects of alcohol.

      We sit in comfortable silence when Logan finally does that really rare
      thing and breaks the silence.

      "You graduate yet?"

      And it takes an unusually long time for me to find the answer. I ruminate,
      perhaps too long, on the fact Logan just made small talk.

      "Yeah," I answer carefully. The room looks a little darker and a hell of a
      lot friendlier. And there's a dance floor. "I want to dance." And I get
      to my feet.

      Remember reflexes? I mean, er, his? I sort of forget that on occasion.
      One hand was locked on my arm and pushing me back down before I can even
      figure out how my feet are supposed to move in these boots--and aren't
      those heels high?

      "Not at that angle," he tells me. "Sit."

      I'm at an angle? I sit, mulling the unfairness of it all.

      "Give it awhile. That's three in less than ten minutes. You won't be able
      to stand upright."

      "Will you dance with me?"

      The Plan may be coming together after all. I'm being clever.

      "You're kidding."

      I lean upward onto the table, on my elbows. His eyes focus somewhere that
      is below my line of sight.

      "Nope. My birthday. You promised." I punctuate that with a finger ground
      into the table. It hurts. A lot. Not important--I just poked a little
      too hard. And overbalance--I'm not exactly sure how--and Logan rights me
      gently and tilted up my face.

      "I want another shot."

      "No way in hell." He says it pleasantly and moves the bottle out of range.
      "You've had enough for now."

      "I can outdrink you." My voice is a little loud. I don't much care. He
      considers me, then pours two more shots. Hesitates, then hands me one.

      "Now," I whisper, throwing it back. Somewhere in the back of my mind is a
      bar in a freezing place and a woman is draped across my lap, looking up at
      me. Pretty. Blue eyes. A killer smile. Long fingers, bare hands.

      "Did you even know her name?"

      Logan stands up, reaching across the table when I reach for the bottle.

      "Nope. Slow down." His hand pins mine down. It's my imagination that the
      fingers on mine slide over my bare wrist briefly.

      "What're you afraid of?" I ask. "Maybe forgetting I'm your little sister?"

      There's one thing that they don't really get around to explaining about
      alcohol--that it can make you do stupid thing while *knowing* they're
      stupid. And that was stupid. And I cared. But I really couldn't stop it.

      But damn him, he just looks amused.

      "I don't have any sisters." His hand lifts off my wrist, shaking his head.
      "It's your headache." He pulls the bottle from under my hand and
      pours--it's belatedly occurring to me that perhaps my hand-eye coordination
      isn't all it should be, when the room does a tilt. "Take the shot. On

      We took it at the same time and I half-rise--and here's the other thing
      about alcohol the brochure didn't cover. You may feel tipsy when you drink
      it--but it's nothing compared to how you feel when you stand up. I grab
      for the table and Logan laughs.

      "Sit." I sit--and not because he tells me to, but because I really *need*
      to. Once sitting, Logan leans across and pushes the last shot at me.

      "Do it."

      I stare at him.

      "You told me to stop."

      "You've never listened to me before now."

      "You never gave me an order worth following, neither."

      "Then follow that one."

      I pick it up, staring at the dark brown coolly for a moment--never noticed
      before how close it is to the color of his eyes--then tossing it back
      easily. And this time, it's nothing--nothing but a heat through my stomach
      and that's when I stop noticing how idiotic I can be. Slamming the glass
      down, I push it aside and lean over, resting my elbows on the table.

      "Where were you?"

      "Recently?" He slides his glass next to mine. "Cincinnati."


      Head tilted a little, watching me carefully.

      "You like it?"

      I consider the question from all angles. Then decide to try and figure out
      what it means. Then wonder what it's referring to.

      He shakes his head.


      "Oh. Yeah." Another memory--a slim blonde, a little vicious, long nails,
      very creative. I look down at my hands, at the short nails.

      "You don't even have scars."

      He keeps watching me--like he's looking for something. And I can't figure
      out what it is exactly he's watching for.

      "Remembering, huh? Thought as much."

      Startled, I look up, see his eyes fixed on the table, before they meet
      mine. He's amused, damn it.

      "How'd you know?" The drawl is coming back fast--three years in New York
      had dulled it some, but apparently alcohol gives you a brand new language
      as well.

      "Something the Professor said awhile back about all those memories of

      "What do I remember?" I ask him, putting my full weight on my elbows and
      resting my knees on the seat of the booth. Trying to focus my eyes was more
      difficult than expected.

      "Depends on what bourbon reminds you of."

      "You." Wow, it's easy to get on that path to destruction.

      It's one of those things that isn't really apparent until just now--I'm
      Marie. No, not that. I'm Marie, whom Logan picked up on the side of the
      road--granted, he threw me out on the side of the road first--whom Logan
      feels responsible for, who he saved from Magneto. Sort of a bond--he
      scares the crap out of other people but never scares me. I'm Marie,
      therefore I have a free pass, as far as Logan's concerned.

      The thing is, and this is something new for me all of a sudden, that I only
      know that Logan. I've only heard about that other side--the side that
      likes to fight and drink and fuck women three ways from Sunday. The one
      who gets off by screwing around in a ring and beating the crap out of
      people, the one who slipped three claws in Mystique, the one with what in a
      normal person might be called a suicidal tendency. The one who fears
      absolutely nothing, because he's three steps from being immortal, or as
      close to it as any human can ever get.

      The one I saw in the ring at Laughlin City, who's a completely different
      man from the one shooting whisky with me. Only one of them is in my
      fantasy life.

      Who knew alcohol would bring profound thoughts.

      "Logan." My voice is steadier. He gives me a politely curious look and I
      consider the revelation. "Why don't you want me to wear gloves?"

      He considers his answer, mulling it with that peculiarly Loganish interest,
      like he would watch an opponent on the ground and try to figure out if
      they're down for the count or they need a kick to the balls to keep 'em
      where they are.

      "Because I don't like them on you."

      "And you decide what you like and I do it?"

      A suggestion of a smirk.

      "So far."

      Screw that.

      I grab my gloves, beginning to pull them back on, and he catches my wrist.

      "You scared to take a risk still?"

      "I'm not scared of anything!" My voice is *really* loud. Luckily, no
      one's close enough to hear--or maybe they don't care.

      "You're scared of yourself. Half the time, you're scared of being Marie,
      half the time you're scared of being Rogue. Like you can't have both, like
      you can't be who and what you are. Forget the fucking gloves tonight,
      Marie, because this is one night you can be both and it won't matter."

      I stare at him.

      "You don't understand."

      "No--you want to sit back and hope everything falls into place the way you
      want it to with no effort expended--like some fucking day you're gonna wake
      up and be able to touch." Suddenly, he flattens my hand on the table,
      pressing it down. And it hurts. And his expression doesn't change.
      "Maybe you won't--why the hell is it stopping you from doing whatever the
      hell you damn well want?"

      My mouth falls open.

      "Or didn't you learn that yet?"

      "Fuck you."

      "Booths are uncomfortable. Trust me."

      That's a brunette in Bridgeport, in a tiny bar, and Logan was bored out of
      his mind. My fingers shake under his and he turns my hand over, tracing
      the palm with the tip of his finger.

      "Tell me what you remember." He's still tracing my hand but his eyes are
      holding mine.

      "A lot." The things that lingered--the need to run, the feel of skin
      beneath mine and the way he can do what he wants because he's never afraid.

      And I want to pull away and run--run hard and fast and just--just move.
      But before I can do anything--even think anything clearly--he stands up,
      pulling me to my feet and I feel my scarf drift to the floor and we're--

      --Dear God, we're on the dance floor and he's dancing with me. And my
      hands are bare and so are my arms and he shakes his head when I try to pull

      I need more whiskey. I'm suddenly dead sober.

      "You wanted to dance, right?" And suddenly, his hands slide down my back
      and he pulls me closer. I stare up, too startled to really say anything,
      hands held back from him--

      --shit, I'm still scared.

      "What are you doing?" Yes, I know what the fuck he's doing--I just don't
      believe it.

      "Dancin'. Like you wanted."

      And we're surrounded by people and he's inches away and my hands--

      --I need my gloves.

      "The thing about a fantasy--it's never as good as reality is." It's a
      whisper in my ear. And I lift my head, trying to breathe through my panic.

      "You fucked Jean so you'd know?"

      A slight smile.

      "Nope. Maybe even the reason I don't want to anymore. It's easy to have
      one and say to yourself that it's better to keep it and ignore anything and
      anyone else. But you know that, don't you?"

      My whole body goes cold and I feel the soft leather around my waist,
      tracing my skin.

      He's right--my fantasies never included this.

      "It's even worse to get what you want and find out it isn't what you
      thought it was."

      I close my eyes.

      "This your new and improved idea of a lesson, Logan?" I tell his shirt,
      because looking up at him ain't gonna cut it. "What's the moral this time?"

      "What do you want? And think before you answer, Marie."

      I want him. No, wait--that's not the answer.

      Logan, who will never stay in one place. Logan, who gets a huge kick out
      of beating the shit out of people--it ain't just business, it's pleasure.
      Logan'll never compose poetry to how great I am--like Bobby did. Will
      never wander about telling me how perfect I am--like Remy. Won't drop at
      my feet panting and expect that he'll never get anything more out of me
      than light touches with gloved fingers because I'm so scared of hurting
      someone. He'll never give me excuses and he won't let me use them.

      And if I choose to right now, I can keep that fantasy of Logan for the rest
      of my life if I want to--and keep the fantasy that it's Jean that stops

      It's all about risk.

      And my hands are still bare.

      I jerk away and he lets me and we stare at each other.

      "Even now, huh?" Soft, staring at the hands I've clasped against my chest.

      Fucking bastard.

      He doesn't say anything else, because that's not how he likes to do things,
      and where he got this little enigmatic streak is beyond me. I grab my
      scarf off the floor, pace back to the table, grab the bottle, and take a
      drink. I'm dead sober and I barely feel the burn as it goes down. The
      cigar is still on the table and I turn to see him watching me again.

      "Let's go."

      Nothing--like he expected it. I slip my gloves on and my scarf in my purse
      and follow him out and when we're outside I stare at the skyline and try to
      think through anger, through diminishing panic.

      "How do you know if it's worth the risk?" And maybe I sound bitter, or
      angry, or just confused, because I'm all three.

      I can feel his eyes on me even if I can't manage to look up at him yet.

      "You don't. You just have to jump and figure that it's worth falling to
      find out."

      Fantasy means one thing--the reality might not be what I expected.

      "Why don't you want me to wear my gloves?"

      A long, long silence.

      "Because it scares you so badly now, and it didn't used to." He turns my
      hand up so I can see it--not much to see.

      I remember the movies--and I remember being willing to run up and hug him
      when he came home and not wearing them. When it was enough to be careful.

      And I'm still afraid.

      And now, after all this time, I finally get it.



      --When I watch that scene I do not think "Oh, he's such a good father
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