|Waiting for Sunrise
Author: S J Smith PM
The siren song of summer...and Marie.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst - Wolverine & Rogue - Words: 2,536 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Published: 12-24-03 - id: 1655774
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Waiting For Sunrise: Second Star to the Right
S. J. Smith
Disclaimer: Characters depicted herein are definitely not of the 'mine' persuasion.
For Leni, who's an evil wench.
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Summers were Marie.
Sweet falling sunlight, ripple down like rain; soft voice rising and falling like water hitting a tin roof.
Her words, never his. She could be a poet, the way she strung words together. Like beads on a necklace. When he asked her how she did it, she'd shrug and look at him from that curtain of hair and say she read.
Like reading could inspire things like that.
She'd point out, when she grew bold enough to sass him about it, if he read things other than Hustler and Popular Mechanics, he might be able to write poetry, too. But that was later and summers were all about Marie.
He wasn't sure why he'd come back to the mansion; not just to check in on her but there she was, waiting on the stoop like she'd expected him. That couldn't be right. He wasn't supposed to be that predictable. But she'd jumped up and into his arms and started telling him about how good she'd done in her classes and how much she liked the school but summer was coming up. Her voice slowed down and stumbled over itself and faltered until he had to take her chin in his (gloved) hand and make her look at him. "What is it?" he'd asked, thinking it was a boy; that Bobby guy, or someone else but no, not that at all, everyone was doing something for the summer; going to the beach or the mountains or home and she didn't have anywhere to go.
So he'd talked to Chuck and packed her up and took her out on the road for an adventure. Her word, not his. He'd only really planned on taking her up the road a ways; spend a week out there, let One-Eye get his panties in a wad over Marie going off with him. But he'd had so much damned fun with the kid that the week rolled over into ten days, then fourteen and when he looked back, damn if they hadn't been out there a month.
Summers meant Marie held the reins, telling him where she wanted to go. She had a thing for old houses, historical places, buildings. God help him if there was a Frank Lloyd Wright building within two hundred miles of their destination, wherever the hell that was gonna be. She dragged him through Taliesin in Wisconsin then followed it up with the House on the Rock. He still couldn't see paying fifty dollars to prowl around some old house but it tickled her. He just hoped that he didn't break anything; so many of the places she wanted to go were damned fragile for a man of his frame. And he could see the tour guides eyeing him, expecting him to boost something. Marie made him drive her to the West Coast so she could tour the Winchester Mystery House. Damned place was creepy but he didn't tell her that. She wanted to see the Biltmore House. Falling Waters. God, she had a list of 'em and checked 'em off, like she'd done to that map of hers she'd told him about when she was a kid, marking off the states and provinces to get to Alaska.
Sometimes he could get her to loosen up and let him be the guide. He took her to Bond Falls once, in Michigan. He pointed out bear markings to her on that trip and she'd studied the claw marks and then his knuckles. "Fuckin' let it out, kid," he muttered at her and she'd giggled, falling back against the tree and shaking.
She wanted to see the Grand Canyon, big hole in the ground that it was and she'd decided she wanted to hike to the bottom. Which meant hiking gear and a tent, since she wanted to spend the night down there. The stars above their heads that night were brilliant, nearly as bright as her eyes.
They drove up to Denali Park one year; gave her that taste of Alaska she'd wanted. The wolves howled around them and they saw a grizzly one afternoon, laying flat out on a rock in the sun. He still remembered the expression on her face, seeing that bear.
Summers were Marie and she always remembered gifts for everyone; a silly plastic snow globe for Bobby; a yellow leather halter top for Jubilee. A Tlingat carving for 'Ro. She bought presents and postcards and whatever else struck her fancy. Somehow, she'd find a place for all that crap in whatever vehicle they had this time; hauling it over the North American continent until they finally went back to the mansion where she could give 'em out like it was Christmas.
She listened to music while he drove, changing the station whenever a commercial came on. Didn't matter what kinda music, either, as long as people weren't talking. He'd watched her seat boogie to Alice Cooper and the Beatles; sing along with that whiny bluegrass crap and show tunes. She always had CD's of her favorites but figured she needed to share with him, so there'd be the Marie-mix of John Denver, Marillion, Ani de Franco, the Dead Milkmen, Indigenous and the Oakridge Boys. And God help him if he didn't know which one was which, 'cause she'd suddenly want that CD with that song on it, help her find it.
He couldn't remember why she wanted to learn to surf but damned if he didn't get talked into taking her to Big Sur for lessons one summer. Swimming wasn't his thing - typical male lack of buoyancy aside, the metal attached to his bones made him a sinker rather than a swimmer. But he could laze in the sand and watch her learn to move a board on the waves, neoprene suit hugging her body. Part of him worried about sharks and undertows but to hear her laugh the first time she managed to stand on her board made up for all the concern.
They rode horses in the mountains and went caving and rock climbing. They prowled around New Orleans and he held her hair when she puked her guts out from drinking hurricanes. She wanted to see Stonehenge and the Great Wall and the Mad King's castle. Summers were for Marie and they stretched out like promises, the places he said he'd take her; the places she wanted to go.
"What are you going to do when she grows up?" Jeannie asked him once.
"Whaddaya mean?" What the fuck did she mean?
"This," she gestured, "fly in for the summer and take Rogue away. Surely you don't think it will last."
He chomped on a cigar, eyeing her. A part of him wanted to know why Jeannie thought it would end. He came every summer, hadn't missed one yet, to pick up Marie. She counted on it. He hadn't quite realized until then that he counted on it, too. "When it happens," he pointed the tip of the cigar at Jean, "it happens."
It didn't happen immediately; at least not the next summer. But the one after that, when he'd called to ask where she wanted to go, Marie hesitated before she answered and he knew.
He headed back to Westchester anyway, it was summer and that meant Marie made his plans for him. But sticking around the mansion wasn't as much fun as being on the road. For one thing, he hadda watch Gumbo court her. Sure, she still did things just with him but more often than not, Marie spent her time with Gambit. It stung a little, being thrown over like that but he was a big boy; he could take it. Besides, it blew over by the end of the year and he had Marie to himself again, on the island of O'ahu, surfing Ala Moana on Christmas day. That night she got drunk enough to attempt a hula dance for him, laughing so hard he thought she'd hurt herself.
Gumbo appeared that night like a fever dream, when Marie was lit up like the damned hotel Christmas tree. She was barely able to focus on his face, much less do the dance thing with Remy. He wanted to throw the Cajun out on his ass but she wouldn't let him and in the end, Gambit took Marie back up to their suite while he went and sat on the beach, waiting for the sun to come up.
She came with the dawn, more sober than he expected, dropping onto the sand heavily and leaning against him, her cheek pressed against his shoulder. He tamped out his cigar, absorbing her warmth like the heat of the sun. When dawn, in its glory, passed into early morning, he finally spoke, almost sure she'd fallen asleep. "Hey. Do I need to go chase Gumbo off?"
"Nah," she said, "I sent him away already." A pause, long; contemplative. "He'll be waiting for me back home."
The wind off the ocean lifted strands of her hair, tickling his face. He jiggled her with his shoulder, making her look up at him. "So," he said, when he had her attention, "you wanna go home?"
"Mm." She snuggled closer and he wrapped his arm around her. "Not just yet."
The hotel staff lit a fire on the beach to commemorate the new year and, exhausted from yet another day of surfing, Marie fell asleep before midnight, pillowed on his chest and drooling slightly. He tried to wake her at the hour but she was too tired, burrowing deeper against him. He made do with kissing the top of her head and carrying her back to their suite.
After tucking her in, he went out onto the balcony with a cigar and a bottle of expensive hooch, 'cause it was a new year and Gumbo was gonna make sure it changed in his favor. He knew the signs, hell, the kid chased Marie across the U.S. and to Hawaii to stake his claim. So what if she sent him away, the Cajun would be at the mansion waiting for her. Even if she didn't take back up with the kid, last summer had been a wake-up call.
Marie was growing up. She needed to get on with that part of her life. Date. Have fun. Get married and have kids, if there was a way to get around her skin and somehow, he thought, with the proper encouragement, she'd figure a way out. Marie was nothing if not stubborn; hell, she'd trained him, hadn't she?
The bottle was nearly empty by the time the sky faded to that hushed grey it got just before dawn. He heard the bed creak, a soft thud, a yelp of pain followed by a low, muttered curse - that one made him grin - the shuffle of bare feet over carpet and Marie's hoarse morning voice. "Whatcha doin', Logan?"
"Waiting for the sunrise."
She joined him on the balcony, blanket wrapped around her shoulders, hair going every which way, hauling a chair behind her. Nudging aside the bottle with her foot, she looked at him, sleepy and still scolding. "What's that for?"
"Celebratin' the new year."
She dropped into her chair with a huffing sound. "Coulda woke me up for it," she said.
He cocked his feet up on the railing. "Tried. You fended me off."
"I did?" Suspicious look turned his way, fingers pushing at her hair.
"Uh huh. Said you wanted to sleep." He gestured over his shoulder. "Don't know how, with all the sand you dragged up. I tried to get you to shower, but no, you just wanted to go to bed."
Ignoring him except for a dirty glare turned his way, she picked up the bottle and sniffed at the mouth. "Whew. You drinking this stuff?"
"Didn't get empty on its own."
Marie tossed back a swig, the amber liquid gurgling in the bottle. "Shoulda saved me some." She slapped the bottle into his open hand.
"We gotta go home sometime, right?" she asked, her gaze steady on him.
"Not if you don't want to." He leaned a little closer, his voice lowering. "What do you wanna do?"
Her accent thickened by her morning voice, her confusion, she whispered, "I don't know." Her face turned towards the horizon and the brightening of the sky and water. "Remy wants me."
"Figured that out, didja."
She snatched the bottle back from him and took a drink defiantly over his protest that she was mishandling his booze, setting the bottle between her thighs on the chair. "Wants to make it legal." She sighed, running a finger around the mouth of the bottle. "I don't know if I can do it."
"What, be a wife?"
"Be who he wants me to be."
Reaching over, he smoothed a strand of hair back behind her ear. "Ain't it about who you wanna be, kid? You gotta figure out that, first."
She caught his hand before he could pull it away, frowning just a little. "I think I've done that."
"So?" He was willing to let her hold that hand; hell, he wasn't using it for anything.
"So." She grinned, a morning-sleepy-grin, brighter than the sun peeping up from over the water. "Maybe you'd better take me home."
Summers were Marie and that next summer, he showed up again; accepted her hug and marveled over the ring Gumbo'd stuck on her finger. He listened to her chatter about wedding plans and how she expected him to walk her down the aisle. "You're the only one who can give me away," she said, when he protested he wasn't wearing no monkey suit, not for anyone. She wanted to get married in the fall, when the leaves were changing color and she wanted him there.
He still hated that he hadn't been able to make that wedding, that he'd let her down. Someone else wanted him even more than Marie did and that's how he wound up here; caged and drugged; just another lab rat. He can't remember all the things they've done to him; mostly he remembers the pain.
But he remembers summers and Marie.
And that winters here are cold as hell.
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