Title: Portraits in a Gallery:
Fate and Promises
Disclaimer: I don’t own them. Dang it.
Archive: Dolphin Haven, Peep Hut, Agony and Ecstasy - anyone else, please ask ;)
Feedback: Please? With a new love life on top? Good, bad, and ugly welcome…….
Summary: Sequel to Working Things Out. Marie muses on Fate with Hank and Promises with Logan. Well, actually, they do a little more than think about things……
Comments: Nothing to do with the fic - just boring details about my love life. Which is in the crapper once again (Did it ever really get out of the crapper? I can’t tell, so that’s probably a ‘no.’). I went on a date with a frat brother of a friend’s husband - this is the second frat brother of his that I’ve been set up with. Well, we were having a moderately nice date when he asks me what I do in my free time. I say - I volunteer as a certified mediator a few times a year, mostly in employment disputes, and I volunteer for a local battered women’s shelter doing a number of different things. He says - those women, it’s their own fault they get into these situations. I sigh, and contemplate setting him straight on the complex social, psychological, economic, and ethical issues involved, but before I can, he says - I don’t know why you bother; none of them really want help and anyway even if they do leave one guy they find another just like him. OK, that’s not without some truth, but: 1) Gee, thanks for the cheery outlook Pessimism McCrankypants; 2) Do you think that criticizing your date’s community service is really a *good* way to kick off your first date?; and, 3) If you’re gonna bitch, then you should put forward an alternative solution. I say #3, in a polite way, and he comes back with - well, I don’t volunteer to do anything because it’s all pointless anyway. Great. Now I’m in need of some prozac *and* a new date. Sigh……
Marie slowly made her way down to the medlab. She hated anything lab-like with a fiery passion, but she wanted to talk to Hank. Kitty, that nice girl who had been showing him around, had come to the attic while she was painting and had even been brave enough to insist on seeing Marie although it meant she’d had to withstand a snarling attempt at dissuasion by Logan. Kitty had explained that Hank felt responsible for what happened, and that he’d even thought of leaving because of it. While the girl said she’d gotten him straightened out on that front, she’d asked Marie to talk to him too and see if she couldn’t make him feel better.
Sighting Hank hunched over the computer terminal, Marie walked to the doorway and gently knocked on the doorframe. “Hey there.”
“Oh! Marie! Are you - are you all right?”
“I’m doing a lot better now,” she smiled, heading over to Hank’s desk. He fell all over himself in his attempt to pull out a chair for her, and she let him. “How are you holding up?”
“I believe we have significantly improved the mansion security. I have been working on the image inducer again, and I expect to have completed my study very soon.”
“But - how are you feeling?” She placed a hand on his forearm and leaned in close to him. When a downcast glance was her only answer, she said, “Kitty came up to check on me and make sure I was OK. She mentioned that you said something about the attacks being your fault.”
“They are. They were looking for me, yes? If you had not - ”
“If Logan and I hadn’t found you, then they’d have you,” Marie interrupted. “I wouldn’t want that.”
“And I do not want to see you hurt.” Marie sighed, nodded, and leaned back, letting go of Hank’s arm in the process. She seemed pensive, and Hank decided it was best to let her respond in her own time.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Hank. Things have been - things have really been kind of sucky in some ways, in the past week or so. I’m not sorry I met you and I’m definitely not sorry that Logan found me, but - well, there have been some things that made me start thinking - what if this is my destiny? What if it’s just my fate to constantly be chased, attacked, hurt? What if I’m just meant to do nothing but suffer, to literally wallow in my own blood? What if that’s all I can ever hope for out of life?” Marie paused, and fixed Hank with a look. “Maybe that really is my fate, I don’t know. Maybe I can change that, fight it. Maybe all that effort would pay off - maybe one day Logan and I will have a nice little house somewhere out in the country with a white picket fence and 2.8 children. Maybe I’ll just fight and fight and fight and things will turn out awful anyway. But Hank - even if that is my fate, even if everything in my life is painted in my blood, then I might as well at least enjoy what little happiness comes my way. I might as well at least love the people in my life who are close to me and enjoy the good times. Because if they’re willing to stick with me through all this, then, well, I owe them at least that much, don’t you think?”
Hank considered her words for several long moments, then reached for her hand. “Yes. Yes, you are quite right.”
“I’m glad you see it that way,” Marie teased. That got a smile from Hank, and a hand-squeeze. “Besides, I think if you left before Kitty got a chance to ask you out, that would be a real shame.”
Hank’s yellow eyes went wide. “Kitty? Ah - no, I think - I think that perhaps there, you are mistaken. Even if there once had been a chance of something, I have - well, I was simply an absolute lout this morning with her. She was very graceful about accepting my apologies, but I fear that she - that I - well, I - I just believe that you are mistaken.”
“Maybe,” Marie allowed, giving his hand a final squeeze and rising from her chair. “Maybe not. But Hank - if I were you, I wouldn’t rule it out.” After all, in Marie’s estimation, anyone who stood up to Logan to get this done had to care about Hank quite a bit. “I’ll catch up to you later. I’ve got to go find Logan.” Hank nodded and watched her go, thinking about her words.
Marie found him in one of the spots on the grounds he’d shown off as a favorite when he’d given her the grand tour. She knew he hadn’t liked her taking the time to see Hank, but she also knew she’d needed to do that, for Hank’s sake. And, she’d wanted her time with Logan to be uninterrupted - for both their sakes. Spotting him now, perched on a rock, shoulders hunched down, body tense - she knew that he needed her now every bit as much as she needed him.
She approached him from behind, quietly, but she had no illusions that she was sneaking up on him. She reached his spot, and sat down directly behind him, gently enveloping him in her arms and legs and resting her head on his shoulder. “Hey.”
“Hey, darlin’. You doin’ OK?”
“Get everythin’ straightened out with Hank?”
“I think so.”
Logan laid his hands atop hers and leaned back into her a little. “What, baby?”
“You.” She kissed the back of his head, then nuzzled her cheek against his hair. “Lots and lots of you.”
“OK.” He sounded more than a little lost, almost like he didn’t know how to give her himself or whether that would help at all.
Marie sighed, but didn’t break contact with him. “I’m sorry if I freaked you out a little with the painting. It’s a good way for me to cope when things get - well, when things get scary or just too much.”
“I’m gonna protect you better. I shoulda never let that bitch get five feet away with ya, and I’m sorry I - ”
“Shhh. Don’t. You got to me so fast, Logan, and you - ”
“Not fast enough.”
“You saved me. Again. I - I love you, OK? I love you and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about all this.”
“But you thought I’d do better. You thought once you were with me, you’d be safe and yeah, maybe one fuck-up or even two is understandable, but not all this shit.”
“I thought it would be like a fairy tale, I guess, where we just live happily ever after. Not exactly realistic. But it’s not worse than I thought it would be, it’s just a little different, and in a lot of ways, better.”
“Better because things happened and you still want me, still want to be with me. You saw me really, really hurt and messed up but you still just came and saved me and stayed with me and kept me close. I wouldn’t have had the chance to know that in the fairy tale version, you know. I wouldn’t have had the chance to have what I have with you now.”
“But you woulda been safe.”
Marie was quiet for a moment. “I wouldn’t have ever felt as loved as you make me feel when you take care of me. I wouldn’t have ever felt as accepted. I don’t think I’d trade that for anything, Logan, and I’ve been through worse than what Mystique did to me.” She felt him tense at that. “Hey - that’s not - I didn’t say that to make you feel bad, I just wanted to put some perspective on - ”
“I’m gonna do better, I swear it, and Marie, I’m gonna kill whoever is behind this. I’m gonna do that, and I swear I’m not gonna let anyone find out about Sabretooth. They can think you got the healin’ from me - fine, whatever. If they don’t find out you put him down, I can still keep you safe. I’m gonna keep you safe, Marie, no matter what happens.”
“I know. You do a very good job of taking care of me.”
“I’ve done a shitty job so far. I’ll do better.”
Marie didn’t know what else to say. Maybe there was nothing else *to* say. Maybe what was needed now couldn’t come wrapped up in words. “Come on, let’s go inside, OK? I want to go to bed with you.”
“It’s only two in the afternoon - you tired?”
“No, I’m not tired.”
It took a moment, but Logan got her meaning. He turned a little to look her in the eye. “You sure?”
She quirked a smile at him. “I’m sure. I meant what I said - I need you, lots of you. All you can give me. Is that OK?”
“Sure is,” he replied, and helped her up.
They made their way back to his room, and upon entering, it occurred to Marie that this place held plenty of fresh bad memories for them both. Maybe there was somewhere else they could go. “Logan - maybe not here? Is there another place?”
“Outside, but I don’t wanna - I don’t want it to be - it should be nice,” he finished lamely, looking more than a little lost. She reached out and held his hand, interlacing her gloved fingers with his. “We don’t hafta do this now if here is - is a bad place. It should be nice for you,” he repeated. Marie considered that, then hit upon an idea.
“I know where. Would you get the pillows and blankets and your, um, you know, birth control?” She blushed bright red and Logan unconsciously tugged on her hand to pull her closer. His eyes flared and so did his nostrils - she knew he could smell both her embarrassment and her desire. “I’ll grab some - I thought of using tights to, ah, you know. I’ll grab that and a few other things.”
“Where’re we goin’?” His eyes began to rove her body and she knew he was leaving his dark mood behind, or rather, that his arousal was beginning to shove it aside.
“The attic. Meet me up there, OK? I’ll be right behind you.” He nodded, and she headed to the bathroom for a few preparations. Logan was right - this should be nice, they deserved at least that much after everything. But he’d left out an important part - it should be nice for him, not just for her. Marie was determined to make that so.
“Hey,” Kitty’s voice greeted Hank from the top of the stairs. “Just thought I’d stop by and see how you’re doing.”
“I have made excellent progress. I believe that I can duplicate the image inducer. I shall perform a trial in the morning.”
“I meant - are you feeling OK?” She descended the stairs slowly, but her eyes never left him. It dawned on Hank that she really had been worried about him before - and not just worried that he’d leave, worried that he’d been so upset. Again he was reminded that his behavior earlier today had been far short of sterling.
“I am feeling quite embarrassed,” Hank began honestly. “Permit me to apologize again for grabbing your arm. It was very crude of me. I am - I am not normally like that. My breach in manners and good judgment was unforgivable. It was - ”
“It’s plenty forgivable,” Kitty interrupted. “And you don’t have to keep apologizing. I know you didn’t mean to go all, um, un-Hank-like. It’s OK.”
“It troubled you,” Hank countered.
“It did,” she admitted. Kitty sighed, and moved closer, finally coming to rest on the edge of his desk. Leaning against it and gazing down into Hank’s still-distressed face, she decided to open up to him, just a little bit. “I don’t like people who have big emotional swings. I like stable people. Emotional swings and physical grabbing or shoving or anything even remotely like that makes me very tense. It’s just who I am. I know everybody has moods. But I get really uncomfortable when it comes out of the blue - no pun intended.” She smiled, hoping he wouldn’t launch into another bout of self-flagellation, and hoping he would understand at least a little.
“I find myself having many of those same predilections,” Hank began. “When I………..changed, things and people around me changed quite rapidly. What I thought was stable, what I thought was certain and unchanging, was suddenly proven to be far from it. Everything changed when I did, and I can relate strongly to the desire for stability. Physical - hurtful or unwanted physical touching of any kind is simply impermissible and inexcusable. I can only say that I am glad you were uninjured and that I am astonished you would come into such close quarters with me again voluntarily. I fully realize that I have no defense for my bad behavior, and it will not recur, but I can understand if you cannot trust my assertions in this matter. After all, actions speak louder than words, and both of mine veritably screamed at you this morning. I am so sorry, Katherine.”
“You can still call me Kitty,” she offered, smiling gently. He gave a half-hearted smile, the kind associated with being on the receiving end of a very charitable attitude. Kitty took his large, furry hand in both of hers when he didn’t seem inclined to say anything more. “You know, I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been for you when you changed.” She’d consciously copied his wording in order to avoid any possible offense. By now, she’d pretty much figured out that he was as acutely sensitive about his mutation as she was about her own ‘issues.’ “But you’re a really good person despite having gone through a lot. That says a lot about what you’re really like, at least to me. You’ve always been really nice, Hank, up until this morning, and that’s why it threw me pretty good. But I can - I think I can take your assertions at face value on this one. You don’t seem like the kind of person who can’t control themselves or who enjoys venting and taking things out on other people.”
“I endeavor heartily not to be.”
“You succeed, most of the time. Today was - well, today hit everybody pretty hard, especially you. I know you really care about Marie and I know she’s a close friend.” Hank was silent once again. “I still want us to be friends. I don’t want this to ruin our friendship. I - I still have to take you out for some real food and show you The Matrix and get you to tutor me in physics, right?”
“I shall be more than happy to undertake whatever you may ask of me.”
Kitty sighed, and began rubbing his hand. She felt his body tense with her touch, but she kept on going. “Then what I’m asking is for you to forget about this morning and be my friend again. Can you do that, Hank?”
He gave it some serious thought before answering. “I can do the latter, but I am afraid I cannot do the former. I do not wish to forget - I wish to remember, so that I may avoid giving offense in this manner henceforth.” The words were a bit flowery, but they came out in such a solemn tone that Kitty felt herself tearing up a bit. No one, especially men, had ever cared much about her friendship and feelings, or had ever bothered at all to avoid hurting her. She honestly didn’t want Hank to brood over this, but she couldn’t help being deeply touched that she mattered to him so much.
“You won’t. You’ll - you’ll just hang out with me and we’ll both have a really good time together and that’s how it’ll go, OK?”
“All right,” Hank finally agreed. Kitty slowly let go of his hand, and they both took a moment to breathe.
“Maybe we could start tonight,” she ventured. “I can come down and get you for dinner - we can go into town if you like or just order something in.”
“Ordering in would be - ” Hank abruptly cut himself off, then began again. “I would be happy to dine out or dine in, in accordance with your preferences.”
Kitty gave him a warm smile. “My preference would be dining in tonight, if that’s OK with you. It’s been a busy enough day.”
Kitty nodded. “I’ll be down at six, and I’ll take care of ordering the food. I’ve got something special in mind.”
“I shall look forward to it, Kath - Kitty.”
She smiled at that. “I’ll see you then - bring your appetite!” Bounding up the stairs with the smile still on, she was already planning how to make this an enjoyable evening for the both of them, or at least one that would lift Hank out of his funk.
Logan arrived in the attic first, and quickly found a good spot for a nest of blankets and pillows. It wasn’t until he’d put down the box of condoms nearby and had arranged the bedding just so that he noticed the painting.
When Marie had come down and kissed him quickly then headed off to see Hank, she’d shut the door behind her. Logan hadn’t forgotten the painting and had been quite curious to see it, but he figured that it either wasn’t finished or that Marie hadn’t wanted him to see it, so he’d simply let it be. Now, he couldn’t look anywhere else.
It wasn’t like the painting in the flash. Now, you couldn’t see any scarlet showing through -there were mostly vibrant greens, blues, and yellows in a swirling mass on the canvas. Some purple and burnt orange around the top edges, and some earthy brown towards the bottom filled out the color-dappled square. Logan paced closer, wondering if, like in the flash, the brushstrokes would reveal anything more to him.
As he peered into it, he noticed that the blue/green/yellow swirls looked like they were bursting out of something. It was hard to tell because they filled up nearly all of the painting, but it was almost like someone had opened a door just outside the painting’s frame, and in doing so had loosed all these vivid, wonderful colors. There were no discernable shapes, no patterns per se, but the painting somehow still gave the impression that it was supposed to be a definite *something* - Logan just couldn’t quite figure out what.
He’d been so absorbed that he failed to notice when Marie entered behind him. “Do you like it?”
He started, and flinched back. His nose had almost been touching the canvas. “Yeah. I like it a lot. I just - I don’t exactly know what it is. But it’s somethin’ - right?”
“It sure is,” Marie answered warmly. As he turned to look at her, his gaze caught on her legs - legs that were encased in black tights and that looked somehow much, much longer and sleeker than they’d been just the last time he’d seen them naked. That wasn’t the only surprise in store for him, though - when his eyes finally tore themselves away from her legs, he saw that she’d put on a sheer, gauzy cotton top. It was a long-sleeved turtleneck that, paradoxically, left absolutely nothing of her naked form concealed, and Logan thanked God on the spot for whatever whacked-out fashion student had come up with this completely impractical (except for Marie’s purposes) garment. “Want me to tell you what?” Logan nodded, and took the few steps necessary to close the distance between them, unable to keep from touching her when she looked like *that*. Marie put both of her gloved hands in his unruly hair, and he anchored his hands at her waist. “It’s you, coming through the door of that lodge, saving me from Mystique. It’s you, coming through the door of my apartment, finding me after all those years. It’s you, coming out of the woods, out of nowhere, and saving me from that bear.” She leaned in close, pressing her body to his. “It’s you, coming up here, making a little place for us to be together. It’s you, coming to me, trusting me to be close to you, trusting me enough to put your body inside mine. It’s you, Logan. You cover up all the bad things. You make them all disappear. You’re everything bright in my life.”
Logan was speechless. That she still thought about him that way after all that had happened to her on his watch just astonished him. He brought her flush to him and tucked her head into his shoulder, holding her tight. When he’d gathered himself a bit, he bent down and kissed the top of her head. Marie gently pulled back to look at him. “Hey,” she whispered, “come over here with me. Let’s - let’s lie down together. I brought the scarf and I was hoping I could kiss you a little. Or a lot.”
That brought a smile to Logan’s lips, and he let Marie guide him to the bed. He was a little surprised when she laid him down on his back and leaned over him, but her soothing caresses soon had him splaying his arms and legs out and relaxing into the blankets. “Feels good, darlin’,” he rumbled, “but you said somethin’ about kisses?”
“I did,” she purred, floating the scarf over his face and leaning down to apply soft, chaste kisses all over his cheeks and forehead. He closed his eyes and let the sensations wash over him, but when Marie found his lips, he couldn’t help becoming a more active participant.
The scarf made things a bit different, but Logan could still taste her and feel her tongue against his quite well. Before he knew it, he’d put one hand at the nape of her neck and one on her bottom and was pinning her to him, legs straddled on either side of his hips. Marie rubbed up against him in just the right spot and began a slow, lazy grind with her hips. “God, baby,” he mumbled against her mouth.
She took that for the encouragement it was and Logan soon felt tiny fingers working at his jeans. He was surprised at the confidence Marie seemingly had with him, but any further thought along those lines was soon diverted when she began wiggling the denim down his legs. “I’m thinking we can just cut a little hole in these tights - do you think that’ll work?” Those big brown eyes and now-erect nipples staring up at him from her position at his feet momentarily robbed him of speech. “Logan?” she smiled. “Am I going too fast?”
“No,” he answered, then huffed. “I mean yeah. I mean - we need to go a little slower. I wanna make sure this is good for you.”
“That’s pretty much a done deal, sugar,” she purred, crawling back up the length of him. The ‘sugar’ caught in his ears, rolled around a bit in his head, and then made a mad dash for parts much further south. “As long as I’m with you, it’s amazing for me.” She settled her legs on either side of him again, and leaned down for a quick, scarf-enabled kiss.
“But - ”
“But nothing,” she panted. “I’ve dreamed about this a thousand times. You saw the painting, back in Vancouver.” He nodded, and his hands slid to her breasts, almost of their own volition. “I want it to be like that - everything in both of us stripped bare, everything that was promised to me in that bite, everything promised to both of us with that bite.” He thought she was right - it felt like they were picking up velocity, like this was going to be fast and fevered and needy and not anything approaching ‘nice.’
“Grrrr…….” She’d began rubbing up against him again, only this time he could feel the slick wetness drenching her tights against his now bare, straining erection. His hands moved from her breasts to her hip bones, pinning her and guiding her pace and rhythm.
“Yes……” Her head dropped down as her body undulated in the movements his grip demanded. Before long, he was letting out low snarls and growls and his grasp would’ve left impressive bruises on anyone else. “Logan……..”
“Needta slow down,” he gritted out, not letting her waver in pace a bit. She seemed to understand that he was genuinely giving her the option - if she’d tried to stop, he would’ve somehow gathered up the monumental control needed to do so. But the last thing Marie wanted to do was stop.
“Are you sure you want me, want this?” It wasn’t in reply or even in connection with his halting offer, but he, too, understood what was unspoken. This was her way of giving him the last possible out. Of course, he had as little desire to take her up on her offer as she had for his. Rapidly, he changed the grip on her body and flipped her over so that he was now on top. He put her on the blankets, on her stomach and gave her an unambiguous answer - not in words, but with a savage snarl and a firm yet careful bite to the nape of her neck, in the exact same spot as before. Marie moaned outright at the contact and at the claiming. Logan thrashed with her still in his teeth a few times - carefully, but still sending a clear message. When he finally let go, he turned Marie over so they’d be face to face.
“Now.” It had barely come out as a word, and neither one of them was sure who’d said it. Marie wasn’t surprised when she heard him extend one claw and felt him cut a small slit in her tights. Her hand fumbled beside her for one of the foil packets Logan had brought and she fished one out and tore it open just in time. Logan put it on, parting from her a bit and giving her a good look at his flushed, feral bearing. His eyes locked on hers, even as his hands found her soft inner thighs and pushed them open. Logan poised himself at her entrance, and entered her body in one swift, consummately powerful stroke.
“Ahhh!” Marie’s back arched with half-pain, half-pleasure. Her healing powers quickly eased her discomfort and Logan drew back then thrust forward again. “Mmmm……” She felt those strong hands move from her thighs to her upper arm and her breast, one holding her in place and one caressing roughly. “Yes……..”
“Yes, Logan, yes, sugar!” His pace doubled and he was hitting her in all the right spots. In a fit of uninhibited pleasure, she threw back her head and arched her back sharply. “Unnnnh!”
“More!” Marie dug her nails into the back of Logan’s shoulder, not quite hard enough to draw blood. “Logan, please!”
“Marie!” He obeyed her command, going harder and faster and making his grip on her arm and breast tighter. He was close, very close and so was she. Just a few more frantic, hungry strokes should -
“Ahhhhh!!!!” Her body snapped - arms and legs thrashed and Logan felt her muscles clench strongly around him then begin to pulse. He gave one more deep, forceful thrust and then let himself join her in release.
“Marieeeeee!” She was still thrashing and his own body was exploding, and he never wanted it to stop. But, finally, his body slowed as did hers, and with a few final smooth strokes, he was spent. “Marie,” he sighed.
“I love how you say my name,” she panted.
“I sure like that ‘sugar’ thing you do,” he mumbled, collapsing on top of her. He stayed prone for a few moments, then rose up enough to give her a quick, bare kiss on the lips before easing out of her. “Damn, darlin’……..”
“So good.” He finished freeing himself of the condom. “But you - are you OK with this?” She broke out into the widest grin he’d ever seen on her and nodded madly. He chuckled, and supposed that was his answer. He *had* wanted her first time to be different than it had turned out, but that was mostly because he’d thought something soft and slow and gentle would be what she needed. She looked pretty damn happy with the state of things at the moment, though. “Thanks, darlin’.”
She reached up and pulled him down to the blankets with her. “I should be thanking you,” she teased, still catching her breath a bit.
Logan settled in, and put an arm around her, then, seemingly not quite satisfied with the degree of his current Marie-closeness, rolled her into him and put the other arm around her as well. “You know - there’s gonna be a lotta times it’s not like this. There’s gonna be a lotta times when it’s slow and nice. But I think we kinda both needed this. You were right - that bite was a promise, to both of us. And it was a promise that we’d have this too, not just that we’d be two people who hooked up with each other and decided to be good to one another and love one another. It was a promise we’d be bonded, that we’d belong to one another, like this.” Marie didn’t say anything for several long moments, so he added, “Did that make sense?”
“Yes.” It came out in a watery whisper, and Logan was suddenly alarmed, suddenly sure he really had screwed things up.
“Nothing - just, I had a flash, when you put your arms around me.”
“No, no, not a bad one. It was - you were - I could feel you. It felt like I was inside of you when you were biting me - this last time, when you were biting me now. It was so intense, so incredible. Oh, Logan, it was so much more than I ever knew was in there.”
“I got a lot in me for you,” he said gruffly, squeezing her for emphasis. “Love and protection and all good things.”
“I’ve got a lot for you too.” After a beat, she added, “Sugar.”
“Heh. Caught on to that, didya?” Marie nodded against his chest and her body went limp. “You rest now, baby. We’re gonna do this over and over again, lotsa ways. But you rest now first.” She took his advice, and was soon sleeping soundly in his arms.