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Liar's Poker

by Victoria P.

     Subject: Liar's Poker: R (XMM)
     Date: Monday, April 28, 2003 9:49 PM

     Title:  Liar's Poker
     Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@att.net]
     Rating: R
     Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
     Feedback: All kinds accepted. 

Summary: "She opens her arms and he falls into them, falls into her. She is the ocean that will drown him, pulling him down with her love and her hope."

Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and Fox; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.

Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg. And thanks to DD for the beta and the encouragement.


Liar's Poker

He never should have touched her that last time, but seeing her in pain hurts him, causes him pain in ways his own wounds never do.

He woke in the med lab to her eyes, shining with love and desire for him.

He left that afternoon.

When he came back the next time, he stayed for a month before his need for her became overwhelming and he had to leave before he acted on it.

He's been back for three weeks this time, and he's already ready to leave again.

He can't take it.

He sees her watching him, knows that she knows, now, what he wants to do with her. And he's closer to breaking down and giving in than he's ever been before.

He keeps his face neutral, ignores her at dinner, but he should have known that wouldn't faze her.

She has a natural optimism, a belief in people that even extra doses of his cynicism can't quell. She believes in him, and that hurts, because he believes he's done nothing to earn it. She reminds him that he saved her life, but he knows that was necessary only because he put her at risk in the first place.

He goes out and finds other women, but all he can see is that they are not her, and his need goes unmet, his desire unslaked, no matter how often he couples with nameless women in dingy motel rooms and back alleys behind dive bars in the city.

It makes him weak, and he hates his weakness. He hates himself, because he cannot hate her. It would be so much easier if he could hate her, make her hate him. Take the weight of her expectations and shirk it from his shoulders, loose the yoke in which she has him bound.

He is out at a bar, another night of trying to hide from the truth, when it hits him. There's one blonde on his lap, another with her tongue in his ear, when he realizes he has to leave again, because neither of them smell -- move -- sound like her, and he can't take it anymore.

Fighting, drinking, driving fast -- these no longer give him the pleasure they once did. Everything is tainted, filtered through the lens of his need for her.

His determination holds until he stumbles into his room. Her scent is in the air, but he tells himself it's his imagination, that desire is clouding his senses.

But she's there.

In his bed.

She wakes at his entrance, sits up and blinks slowly, the soft scent of sleep, sweat and Marie wafting over him, seducing him. Her hair falls in gentle waves over silk-covered breasts, and he closes his eyes, clenches his fists.

"Logan?" Her voice, husky with sleep, glides over his sensitive ears like satin.

He swallows hard.

"What are you doing here?" His voice is hoarse, tight with suppressed longing and all the words he'll never say.

She shrugs and he feels his body tighten in response to the way her breasts move with the motion. "I missed you."

"I'm here now."

She pats the spot next to her with a gloved hand. "Come to bed, Logan."

He is frozen in place. All his wishes, dreams, desires are laid before him, his for the taking. And she wants to be taken, wants to take him, hold him inside the honeyed cage of her body.

To her, it's love, and love conquers all. She doesn't see that he's soiled and in need of redemption; she somehow manages to want him as he is, rather than as he could be, and that's new for him. He believes she can redeem him, on the rare occasions he believes he can be redeemed. He wants to believe so badly sometimes.

And tonight, he does.

He stands upon the blade of a knife, thin and sharp and double-sided as one of his claws, and far more capable of cutting out his heart.

"Please?"

And as easily as that, she has him.

He moves forward purposefully; once the decision is made, once he's allowed himself to have what he wants, he won't waver, he won't regret. All that will come tomorrow.

"We're not going to be sleeping." He forces the words out, his voice still rough and strange. It is the last out he will give her.

Her smile is pure and wicked, knowing and innocent all at once, a woman's smile for her lover. "I know."

She opens her arms and he falls into them, falls into her. She is the ocean that will drown him, pulling him down with her love and her hope.

His hands are already moving over her, impatient, the consummation of which he's dreamed suddenly real - soft flesh over taut muscle, warm and pliant under his hands.

"God, Marie." A whispered prayer as he lays her back, rubs his face against her silk-covered breasts, the slight curve of her belly, her strong thighs. She touches him, and there's no hesitation in her at all. She doesn't know, she can't know that this is wrong, that he will be punished for it, that she will hate him in the end.

He pushes those thoughts away. He also knows that this was inevitable. From the first time their eyes slid away from each other in the bar, this moment has been looming, shadowing their every interaction. He fought it for as long as he could, but he has no strength left to fight anymore.

He covers himself in her scent, breathing her in and knowing he will never forget this, as long as he lives, and even after he's died, the scent of vanilla and sweat and Marie --

"God, Logan!" she echoes his words as his hands find the heat between her legs. She burns him even through the thin cotton of her panties, and it's enough -- he can forget that this is wrong, that he can't touch her, that he shouldn't touch her, when the evidence of her desire is so tangible.

He breathes against her already peaked nipples. "Let me--" he begs, a supplicant worshipping at her altar, this goddess of love and hope and salvation, more real and merciful than any goddess he's ever heard of.

She smiles again, eyes dark with desire, and fire rushes in his veins because he makes her look that way, he makes her body twist with want, makes her lips form his name. He suckles at one full breast, then the other, and she arches into him, panting. Her wordless cries of pleasure, the feel of her fingers clutching his shoulders, spur him on. He convinces himself he does it for her.

"For you, baby, all for you," he murmurs, eyes feasting on her reactions -- she is wanton and free, and she is his, and he, hers, for all that he'll try to deny it later.

She comes hard against his hand, her head thrashing against the pillows, her body arched and curved like a violin, her voice making music that only he has ever heard.

While she is still shuddering, gasping for breath, he pushes her knees wide. She meets his eyes boldly -- no fear now, just desire and joy in her gaze, in her scent, in her body -- and smiles again. She unzips his jeans, and he draws a long, shuddering breath as her silk-clad thumb flicks over him.

He fumbles in the drawer for a condom, aware that his desire to feel her, skin-on-skin, will be the death of him. Yet he considers it for a moment, selfishly. The foil packet is in his hand, then the condom is on -- later, he will remember this in flashes, wondering how he got from point A to point B, but for now, he feels nothing but the blinding need to slide into her warmth.

Pushing aside the material of her panties, counting on his jeans to protect him, he sheathes himself in her in one long stroke. Her eyes go wide, her body tenses, and he realizes that this is her first time, and he's already screwed it up.

He stills, buries his face in the crook of her neck, and whispers, "It's okay, baby. It's going to be okay."

"Promise?" she asks, but this time, he can't give her the words. He pulls out and slides into her again slowly, letting her feel every inch of him. The words form unbidden in his mind, though he swears he will never speak them. 'With my body, I thee worship.'

She is silk and velvet to his adamantium and flesh, and she grips him tightly, matching his rhythm. She bares her throat to him, and he nips at it, the flutter of her pulse attracting his attention. His lips brush her skin for a second -- once, twice, three times -- and he's found the secret to touching her. Butterfly kisses on deadly gossamer skin.

He's working almost solely on instinct now. His body knows this is right, and won't let his mind get in the way. It begins low in his belly, the slow, spiral build of release, uncurling like a snake. The only time he can leave his body behind and be free. His hips piston into hers; his elbows bear his weight as his hands tangle in her hair, and he raises her face so her eyes meet his.

He doesn't speak when he comes. He growls low, and she tightens her muscles around him, pulling him in deeper. He never wants to leave. He wants to fall into her completely, body and soul, and he knows that she is the one woman capable of taking all of him in.

He's floating back down to earth, the world making itself known to him again when she convulses around him, her hand finishing the job he started.

He takes that hand, brings it to his mouth and licks each silk-clad finger slowly, memorizing her taste, the flavor of their love, salty and real and inevitable.

She licks her lips and he again risks the danger of losing himself in her by brushing his mouth over her cheek, her nose, her lips, quickly and carefully. He knows that in all the ways that matter, he is already lost. She owns him more completely than ever, and he begins to hate himself for giving in when he knows it's wrong.

He has never been a cuddler, never spent the night sleeping with a woman in his bed, but he gathers her to his chest as she drifts off, content.


When she rolls over, he's already gone.

She stretches, feeling the soreness between her legs, luxuriating in it, knowing that he's bound to her even more closely now.

She understands his fear, his ambivalence, the way honor and desire war within him. She is sure that love -- his love for her -- will overcome all the obstacles he places in their way.

He's touched her and she knows him.

The first time, she initiated the contact, an attempt to save her life using his healing power. She learned his fears and hopes, his desire to die, transmuted at the moment of her touch, into the desire to live.

The second time is a rush of white light -- his love, pure and blinding -- his willingness to sacrifice himself for her. Other people talk about death as a white light. For Rogue, the light of the machine was death, yes, but the light of Logan's love is what brought her back. To others, the white streaks in her hair are reminders of failure, pain, loss. To Rogue, they are a symbol of the dazzling flare of love Logan poured into her, a visible reminder of how much he really cares.

The third time... She shivers in delight whenever she thinks of it. The third time he touched her, the love was there, and the desire to live, and the love and desire came together in sheer, animal need.

He willed her to heal because he needs her. Wants her. Loves her.

And it scares him to death.

She knows he's been dreaming of her -- her body, her kisses, her scent -- and she also knows that he believes it's wrong, he's wrong.

And he is.

Not in the way he believes. No. He thinks he's wrong for her. But that's not it. He's wrong to deny what is between them -- the connection that even death hasn't been able to sever. In fact, their bond has been cemented by her death, and his willingness to follow her into its shadow and bring her back.

But he only sees the shame -- the difference in their ages, experiences, backgrounds. He sees himself as nothing, no one, going nowhere.

She sees that together they can make a future that will eclipse his lost past and her troubled one. They fit together in ways that she never expected, never even hoped for. And so she is willing to wait.

Now that he's tasted her, she knows that he won't stay away for long. His hunger for her is wild and fierce, and she will use that to her advantage.

She's learned much from him over the past few years; it is her turn to be the hunter, and his, the prey. And patience is the key to hunting.

She will wait him out, until he sees that his place is at her side. She pushes down the fear and doubt, tells herself that he is addicted to her, as she is addicted to his touch. He looks at her like a drowning man eyes a life preserver, and eventually, he will realize that it is only together that they can have a life. Alone, they can survive --they've both made an art of that -- but together they can live, with all the attendant joys and sorrows.

She wants that so badly she can taste it amid the salty, sweaty flavor the night's lovemaking has left in her mouth.


The first days afterward pass in a blur. He stays away and she lets him have his space. She knows he needs the time to acclimate to the change in their relationship.

When a week passes, and they've done nothing but brush by each other in the hall, with hellos mumbled and eyes averted, she knows she must take action.

She goes to him again.

She learned after the very first night years ago not to startle him awake, so she calls softly to him, edging her way into the room, hoping her voice and scent will rouse him.

And so they do.

He opens his eyes and she moves quickly; before he can protest, she's in bed with him. She fits against him perfectly, and after several minutes of heated kisses and caresses, she slides down his body. Using a sheer scarf to protect him, she lets her lips speak with kisses instead of words. She takes him in her mouth and he groans.

She's inexperienced, but with his memories to guide her, she is able to bring him to climax quickly, probably more quickly than he'd like, she realizes. He growls but she has no fear. He moves, makes to sit up, and she pushes him down, gloved hands on bare shoulders. She straddles him, grinding herself against him as she reaches into the night table drawer for a condom. With fumbling fingers she manages to get it on him, and then she lowers herself onto him.

He watches her, and she can see love and fear in his eyes. She moves slowly, rolling her hips in a way that gives her as much pleasure as it does him, and she whispers to him of her love, their love. But the fear never does leave his eyes.

His hands steal to her hips, warm through the sheer silk of her body-stocking, guiding her rhythm, and she begins to lose control, shivering, shaking with pleasure as he thrusts deep inside her. She cries out his name as she comes, a fierce, echoing shout torn from the depth of her being, and her eyes never leave his as his hands tighten to bruising on her body.

He growls his release and she strokes his chest with sated languor. She wants to hold him, protect him from all that haunts his nightmares, but he turns his back to her as they fall asleep, She nestles against him, content that come the morning, things will be better.


He wakes to the feel of her pressed against his back, and he has to stifle a groan.

All that work, all that successful avoidance, and he's back where he started, in bed with Marie.

In love with--

No.

He refuses to even think it, let alone say it, regardless of her words to him last night. He has never believed in declarations of love during sex, and even though he can smell -- hear -- taste -- feel the difference this time, he clings stubbornly to his false beliefs

She burrows in closer to him, and he wonders if she can sense his withdrawal, though he hasn't yet moved.

That scares him even more than the way his body relaxes into hers when he's not paying attention.

For as long as he can remember, he has lived by his instincts, trusted them to keep him whole and sane when everything else was going wrong, but at this he finally rebels.

With ferocious momentum, he launches himself from the bed and stalks to the shower.

He washes her scent -- their scent, mingled and intoxicating -- off his body, determined, like the heroine of an old movie musical, to wash away his feelings as well.

She's stirring as he dresses and it takes all of his will to leave the room before she wakes.

He scowls as he makes his way down to the garage. His room, and she's driven him from it. He holds fiercely to this anger, lets it simmer and adds to it other slights (real or imagined) he can lay at her feet --her way of making him feel awkward and inexperienced and soft in her presence, his desire to curl up with her and never be with another woman again, the knowledge that he can never ever be good enough for the love he sees in her eyes...

He never cared about these things before, and he'll be damned to hell before he starts now.

He guns the motor on the bike and tears down the driveway as if all the devils in that hell are after him, and he doesn't come back for three days.


They fall into a pattern.

Avoidance and then combustion. They spend the days separate, in pain, and come together at night; she heals him in ways his mutation never can or will, and then she breaks him again, and he returns the favor.

He can't live like this much longer, and he knows it must be tearing her up inside as well, but he can't give in.

His behavior during the day deteriorates. Two of the girls leave his class in tears, and when she confronts him about it, he is rude to her, as well.

His words are always carefully chosen. He knows her weak spots, and how to hit where it hurts.

"Was it necessary to scare them like that?" she asks, and though her tone is mild, he can feel the reproach; it echoes the one inside his head. The children haven't harmed him in any way, though they're yet more evidence of his becoming far too comfortable in the role of teacher, friend--

He stops as his thoughts, as always, circle back to her.

"What do you know about it, kid?" he responds, and the word, formerly an endearment, is a curse in his mouth. "You stick to teaching Shakespeare and leave the fighting to me. You're useless in combat." A lie, and a reflection on his own abilities more than hers if true, but he doesn't care. He just needs to lash out.

She nods, accepting as always. "Yes, but--"

He walks away before she can finish. As he works to make her hate him, he hates himself more and more, that her love for him will make her accept the meanness he deals out.

He wonders how long she will put up with this split in his personality and is ashamed because he secretly hopes she sees through his maneuvers and loves him anyway.

And again, he's caught in the cycle, trapped like a fly in a spider's web. The harder he struggles against her, the tighter she binds him.

He can't stop touching her and she knows. She knows all she has to do is slip into his bed and he's lost. He takes her hard and fast, and then slow and hot, making her come with his name on her lips.

That's when he knows. In the dark hours of the night, he knows he can't succeed, that he's as selfish as they all say he is, because he can't let her go. She sleeps, sated, and he whispers to her of his love and her beauty, and how it makes him want to howl because he can't tell her while she's awake, because he's convinced himself it's wrong.

He touches her gently, secretly, letting her feel the things he can't give her when she's awake. Then he falls into a deep, dreamless sleep, thinking, 'this is what love is.'

He resolves to redouble his efforts to make her hate him in the morning, but at night, when she is with him, he can't bring himself to do it, to prove to her he's everything she's ever been warned about.

The fear that she'll find out and leave him gnaws at him, and he knows he has to break it off. He's brusque and cold, insensitive to her feelings, and yet she still returns to him at night, and he takes her, praying she won't give up on him, the way he's given up on himself.

He knows he loves her, even if he can't say it, can't justify it.

He knows he's wrong for her, and it's tearing him up inside.


She lies awake, warmed by Logan's presence at her side in the bed. He is with her more in sleep than awake these days, his body automatically moving closer when his mind isn't in control.

She knows he's beating himself up over the nights they spend together, and her patience, remarked upon by almost every adult member of the household, is beginning to wear thin.

To the question, "How can you let him treat you like this?" she answers, "Because I love him. And he loves me."

"How can you be so sure?" they ask, and she smiles but says nothing more. How can she explain that she knows because she dreams it? That while she sleeps, he lets his thoughts and feelings seep into her until she's so aware of his love that she wants to burst.

She waits and watches and hopes, praying he'll reconcile himself to their love, but knowing that one or the other of them will break if they don't change the way they're living now. Soon, she'll call his bluff and he'll have to choose: night or day, alive and together or alone and merely existing.


The day comes finally when he can no longer do it.

She comes to him that night, illuminated by a flash of lightning that throws the room into sharp relief. He sees the strain on her face, in her body and he has had enough.

"No," he says, and he means it.

"Logan--"

But he won't let her speak, can't let her convince him that he's made the wrong decision. He's doing this for her, and he's leaving as fast as his legs will carry him, away from this place, from her. From love.

He pushes past her with a growl but of course, she follows. Isn't that what she does? Follows until he gives in? She's like the sea, wearing away at his defenses, cutting channels into the heart he thought he'd lost long ago.

He moves quickly and hears her rushing to keep up. He heads for the door and out into the late summer storm which has blown up out of nowhere, the sky turned to an early twilight by thick thunderclouds that roil above. He spares a thought for Storm and realizes his own turmoil has somehow infected the others in the house, that his behavior has had consequences and implications for everyone.

He curses and stops, caught between his feelings of responsibility and his need to flee before he ruins Rogue's life for good.

She slips on the wet grass and bangs into his back, grasping at him to stay upright.

He turns and once he's sure she's standing on her own two feet, he lets go.

They face each other in the rain.

"I can't do this anymore, kid. You deserve better. You always have."

"Bullshit."

"Kid--"

"I'm not a kid anymore, Logan. I'm a woman. And I'm in love with you. Dammit, can't you see that?

"Or don't you want to see it?" she taunts, running her hands over her body, the light summer dress she wears clinging to every curve, leaving nothing to his imagination. Not that he needs imagination. His hands and lips have mapped every curve and hollow -- he's spent nights on the road reliving in technicolor detail every inch of her body.

He closes his eyes in pain, opens them again. "Marie. I see it. You're young, beautiful." He can taste her desperation; the scent fills the air, overpowering ozone and wet grass, belying the insouciance with which she speaks.

She talks over him, not letting him finish. "I can't touch or be touched. Ever. I'm learning to live with that. I'm broken." She is almost sobbing, her bold faade finally failing, and he can feel his resolve wavering.

"You're not broken," he growls, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her. "I'm the one who's broken, who can never be fixed. You could have anyone you wanted. Any man would be proud to have you."

"But I want you," she whispers, and while she may try to pass it off as the rain, he knows those are tears streaming down her face. "Don't you see? Alone, we're broken. Together, we're whole."

He closes his eyes again, and opens them when he feels her body press against him. Against his will, his body responds.

"Tell me you don't love me," she challenges. "Look me in the eye and tell me you don't love me, and I'll walk away."

He looks down at her, his eyes sliding away to focus on the trees behind her. "I don't love you," he chokes out, his hands tightening on her shoulders.

She reaches up and grabs his chin, forcing him to meet her gaze. "Liar," she says tenderly, and he is lost.

end


victoria

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