stand the rain

Everything you've ever heard about England and rain is true. What they don't tell you is that there are a million different types of rain. Kind of like how the Inuit up in Canada have two hundred words for snow; British English should have a hundred words for rain. There were the nice summer showers that made you act silly and dance in fountains to kill the humidity. Those should be called fiddly or pixins There were April rains that were perfect for just sipping something hot while you talked with your friends. They should be called nooz or frooz, something long and lazy. The fall thunder storms, powerful, frightening and erotic. Those names would burn through paper.

The kind splattering against my dorm window right now, however, should be called bogdrol or truggorf; something that sounds abysmal, depressing, and cold. A week straight of this type of weather. It was enough to make Pippi Longstocking suicidal. I tapped my pencil against my textbook. The words blurred. disgusted with myself, I threw the pencil and covered my eyes. It only took a minute for me to head for the window.

Jonothan appeared next to me a few minutes later, still dragging on his jacket. Since the walls in the dorms were paper thin, it was easy for him to hear me scrabbling up. A head full of perfect chocolate curls popped into my field of view and handed me a cigarette. I took all of three drags from mine before I put it out. I'm not sure I liked smoking. Eric didn't smoke anything and Logan only liked a well-made cigars. This was me begin rebellious. Go, me.

Jono was, without a doubt, the most beautiful creature to have ever been born. You couldn't even narrow it down to "man;" he was more beautiful than a lot of women, too. Blue eyes cut out from the Fijian sea, lashes like molasses, evenly arched eyebrows, a profile John Barrymore would have killed for, and completely indescribable lips. You had to rub your eyes after seeing this guy; he never seemed quite real.

"You're a nutter, you know that?" His toes curled against the cold of the tiles. Bare feet against slate was still better than the Italian jobs he hand, expensive but no tread to speak of whatsoever.

I smiled, holding up a cupped hand to catch some raindrops. "I like the feel of it."

"Yeah, you're a nutter all right. It must be the air in New York." He sighed, crushing the damp stub of his cigarette into the tiles. Lifting that perfect jawline up, he caught some rain in his mouth, gargled, and spit. "I've got to get another job."

His current job involved breathing. With a life straight out of a Daniel Steele novel, Jono could single-handedly support Europe's tabloid industry. One parent was European royalty, the other was a Hollywood one. He made headlines for picking his nose in public. You wouldn't believe the hoopla that happened when they found out we went out on a few dates.

"You know, I could fall in love with you, Marie," he told me one night after too little beer and too much philosophy. "You're so full of life. Like you've lived a thousand years but haven't gotten sick of it yet. I could happily toss my twenty if I could just screw you for one night."

He knew, of course, about my power. I think it's part of the fascination. Jono wants to be anyone but himself; he thinks having a dozen voices in his head will make it much better. He asked me in the beginning of our friendship to demonstrate on him but I declined. So after we decided we preferred Plato to Aphrodite, he had a loud but short affair with a French actor forty years older. Polls went up over who was better. I won by a small percent.

"It's your eyes," he told me. "You have the body of a bloody goddess, the face of an angel, the bitchiness of a tigress in heat, but those eyes that just drown it all and turns us mortal men into testosterone-pumped goo."

Even if the rooftop wasn't easily accessible, I would have found a way up. Even if the stars were different here in England, I needed to reach them. The air tasted different, too, like ashes and age, spices and heather. Jono and I met on the rooftop. He wanted to jump off- not for suicide but for sport, to see if he could make it to the neighbouring building.

He didn't and that's how he found out about my powers.

"That's when I started to love with you," he corrected. "We're both mutants by birth. Mine just gets more press coverage. You sure you don't want to shag?"

I don't write the school about Jono. I told him it was because I didn't want anyone to accidentally pick it up and blab it to the rags. He doesn't care but I do.

"That's bullshit," he scoffed as he read over my shoulder.

"What's bullshit?"

"Protecting my privacy. I have no privacy; I never have. You might as well try to stop me from breathing."

Back on the roof, Jono gave me a nasty look and picked up my barely-used cigarette. "You're endangering dolphins' blowholes."

"Since when have you cared about dolphins?"

Maybe the tone was a little too snide. He stared at me for a while-- I stared at the skyline, what of it I could see past the torrent.

"You want to know the real reason why I agreed to break us off?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Why rehash it? It's done."

"I want to fuckin' rehash it, okay? I'm sitting on my body arse in the middle of a rainstorm keeping you company. I can say whatever the damn hell I want. Fuck."

He grabbed by sweater and slammed his lips on mine. It looks so good in the movies when they do that. They don't dub in the sound of your teeth clacking together or take shots of how awkwardly your noses bump.

Touch is possible for me for short periods of time.

"You power seems to have psionic roots," the Professor said. "An type of empathy triggered by skin-to-skin contact. I cannot tell yet if contact leaves you too open for imprinting or if your body purposefully absorbs the others'... life force, for the lack of a better word."

"Like a psychic sponge," Mr. Summers said with his usual succinctness.

The Professor looked amused and surprised. "Yes, I suppose so."

"So if we find a way to keep the sponge from becoming too absorbent." He shrugged. "Would Cerebro help?"

I sat on the leather-upholstered stool like the proper piece of meat that I was and did my best to disappear into the stuffing. The thought of Cerebro freaked the living hell out of me. It amplified psychic powers? I didn't want to imagine what that might do to me.

"I'll need to run some more tests before I can say for certain."

Tests involved meditating, shield-building, and touching a lot of people at intervals no longer than a couple seconds. By the time I left Xavier's, I could touch people for two seconds at a time before my body takes over and they get a slight case of brain-dead. Yay, me.

I felt his life flow into me. It's like having a really hard pulse just under your skin leading up to your brain. And after a while, your head starts to expand, to fill up with helium and you're positive it's going to pop off and float away. Just when it starts getting good, your brain presses up against your skull which has a million titanium needles in it. It might feel good again if you hold on longer; you're not sure but you want to know. The need to find out is like a nic-fix.

I pushed Jono away but grabbed the collar of his jacket before he could fall off. He was panting; we both were.

"You sick bastard," I hissed. "What are you trying to do?"

He laughed-- he probably meant it to be a laugh but it came out as a strangled cough. "You're so full of bullshit," he whispered, trembling like a blade of grass in a hurricane. "You liked that didn't you?"

"Go to hell. Why am I friends with you anyway?"

"Because I remind you of him." He went up on his hands and knees to crawl back to my side.

"Of who?"

"Whoever it was that you ran away from." He crawled up further so that he was behind me. The wind tossed the rain directly into our faces, tiny ice bullets that went in my eyes and up my nose and down my sweater. Jono rested his chin on my shoulder, wrapping his arms and legs around me, knowing I'd let him. "You've got problems, love."

I snorted. "Takes one to know one."

"Of course."

I relaxed enough to lay my head on his chest. The rain looked better from this point of view. It emphasized the endlessness of the sky. I haven't tried flying in England yet. Everything was too close, anyone could just look out their window and see me. Eric tells me I can just hover around in my room but I don't have his power or his control. This frustrates him to no end. He sees my body as a bad photocopy of his. He's always trying to push me farther. Or maybe that was my own competitiveness. It's starting to blur together. Maybe this was how kids developed their personalities. They took a bit of what they saw in everyone and mah it all together to make their own personality. I was just doing it retroactively.

I let myself slide down between Jono's legs so that my head was on his thigh. Wetness soaked through my sweater and jeans; the protection of his coat was kind of moot now. I spread my arms out of either side, tyring to feel the slate through my gloves. The rain was hitting my eyeballs; I closed my eyes, preferring to taste the raindrops instead. Jono started to rub my shoulders, working his way down my arms. I sighed, happy, stroking his jeans with my cheek. Wet jeans feel smoother than dry ones; water cohesion maybe. Or the fact that your face has a billion more sensory nerves than the rest of your body.

Jono liked to touch-- not me in particular. He licked to touch everything. He can't go through a room without running his hands over the walls, the furniture, the knick-knacks. His entire body was a touch nerve.

He worked back up to my nape. I jerked away even though he didn't go under the collar of the turtleneck. He knew I didn't like him touching me there. Anywhere else, just not there. The bastard loved to push his limits. I sat back up, curling away from him.

After a second, he patted my back, like a mom burping a baby. "Does he know you want him this badly?" Jono asked. "Did the git find out and get frightened away?"

"So now I'm so pathetic, I'd cross an ocean to get away from a guy?" I turned slightly to comb some of his curls away from his forehead. The rain slicked them right back down. "For your information, I applied to get to this school, scholarship and everything. Despite what your screwed up relatives might think, a girls' world doesn't revolve around guys liking them."

"Moving to England to major in French is supposed to make sense?"

"Move away from the States to major in French," I corrected. "Or just move away from the States period."

"Anywhere but there."


I mentally composed a letter for the school: Dear everybody, I'm sitting on top of the roof in the embrace of England's most eligible bachelor and all I can think about is getting the hell out of Dodge. Dear everybody, I'm cold and wet and completely miserable but I'd still rather be here than there. Dear everybody, I wish you're all safe and free from harm; the last thing I need in the week before exams is to worry that the school's going to get raided again. Dear everybody, has he told you all where he's moved to yet? Dear everybody, if he has, tell him to go straight Hell and fuck the Devil where the sun don't shine. Dear everybody, I miss you all so much I can't sleep. Dear everybody--

"I love you, you know."

"You love your butler, too."

"My butler doesn't need me."

"Sure he does. You're his livelihood." I buried my nose in his collar. He even smelled beautiful.

The wind picked up even more. Those little wet needles became pebbles-sized and just as painful when they hit. Another student in the building across had his telescope pointed at us. Probably hoping for something to get excited about before exams. Jono wrapped his jacket around the both of us then gave the Peeping Tom a one-fingered salute.

"He doesn't know I love him."

"He's an idiot then. The whole of Britain knows you're in love. They just think it's with me." He laughed, bittersweet, the best type of chocolate. "Did a smart thing like you fall in love with an idiot?"

"Yes." I sighed. "No. Maybe?"

"Which is it? Yes, no, or maybe?"

I consulted with my brain-roomies before answering. "All of the above."

"Ah. Of course. Real life examination. If we shag and you pretend I'm him, I really wouldn't mind. My body is but an object to use for your pleasure."

I smacked his arm. He pretend to be gravely injured. Anyone else would have been fooled. Anyone else didn't have the world's best tracker and a megalomaniac stuck in their head. Still... Jono smelled nice. Designer cologne and mint, I think, and the wet leather of his jacket. He was very warm despite his rather lanky build. He hugged you like you were the most precious object ever created and sometimes, times like these, he even meant it.

"You want to know why I agreed to break us off?"

I was too comfortable for witty repartee this time around. "Why?"

"For some reason I cannot yet fathom, I wanted to be more than a living dildo to you. If we were really to sleep together, I'd want you to see me instead of the stupid idiot. Strange that."

I kissed his heart, trying to hide my frown. "Maybe you love me."


The truggorf eased into a spizzel and I fell asleep thinking in French.