Movement V: Six
"Take me down, six underground… I'm open to falling from grace."
She stood on the balcony of the house she shared with her lover, where she'd resided for nearly a year. Paris was the perfect backdrop for such an affair. The city had an air of seduction and romance, one that asked her not to ponder the "whys" but to indulge in the "why nots." It told her to take pleasure in her fleshly decadence. She wasn't the same woman she'd been a year ago, and the world was hers for the taking. Her regrets had no place in Paris. She still wasn't sure if she was thankful for that or not.
Sometimes, she wondered if Logan was happy now, wherever he was. The violent confrontation from a year ago had left her mentally and physically scarred. In her heart, at the time, she'd known that it would only intensify. Logan often acted rashly, and she still questioned what made her think that he would accept this. She decided to let things take its natural course rather than to defer the catastrophe because of her own self-imposed ignorance.
The dark glares, the enraged arguments, that followed were warnings she chose not to heed. She watched him wither; she watched a piece of him die. And she did nothing. She'd willingly stood by and watched this horror unfold. Perhaps she could've been more active in changing the events of that night, but she tried to stay faithful to the adage that everything happened for a reason.
He meant to kill her that night; he meant to kill them both—her and her lover. Had he been successful, maybe he would've killed himself, if such a thing were possible. She ran her fingers across the puckered skin on her abdomen—reminder scars—before pulling her robe closed. She didn't like to think about that night. It was such an ugly memory that she tried to keep hidden safely in her mental closet.
She sat in one of the lounges, concentrating on the atmospheric changes taking place around her. Paris was her rebirth, her chance to remodel herself. She purged her old life in favor of this new and unfamiliar world. She looked through different eyes—not those of the nurturer but those of a different type of goddess, one who used her wiles and charms to bring the world to its knees. She was Aphrodite, born of thunder and lightning in lieu of the sea.
And he, her lover, called her out. He challenged her false modesty and her cloying charms. But he liked this change in her, this tainted perfection. She didn't hide who she was or what she wanted now. She didn't ask for much these days, not even fidelity. True love died the day she decided to sleep with a man who wasn't Logan, and if she couldn't have Logan, she wouldn't give her heart to anyone else. She'd bask in her five-second gratification and leave love to the faithful.
She was content with her lover. Whenever the suffocating thoughts of Logan threatened to close around her throat, she'd ward them away by losing herself in thoughts of her current lover—such as now when she had too much time to slip into her thoughts. She tried to concentrate on the non-emotional aspects of her relationship with him. And almost as if she'd conjured him up by just thinking about him, she heard his heavy steps as he walked toward the doors.
She craned backward to watch him when he clomped through the double doors leading to the balcony. Joining her on the chaise lounge, he pulled her into his lap and nuzzled her neck. Rough whiskers scratched her neck, galling her skin. One searching hand was already slipping behind her robe. He rubbed his fingers over the hardened skin of her scars, caressing the tumid flesh gently, as if he could make them go away—a habit he'd taken a liking to.
The band of her panties deflected his hand, causing him to tsk. He didn't like it when she wore panties, said it was too much of a hassle when he wanted to get to the goodies. She had to be easily accessible. No questions asked. He'd strip her down to the barebones, cursing her panties before ripping them away with a harsh tug and throwing them into the gaping mouth of the shadows—never to be seen again. And she knew that now wouldn't be an exception.
"You know how much I hate these things," he growled into her ear. She felt him bunching the thin material.
"You only hate them because they are in the way," she chuckled, pushing his hands away from the material, making him more insistent in his tugging.
"And you only wear them because you know they piss me off. Tell me I'm wrong," he challenge as the sound of fabric stretching beyond its stress point whispered in hers ears.
"I like them. I bought them yesterday." She pulled the robe back to reveal barely-there, racy, red panties made even more obscene by the frilly, baby doll lace bordering them, pushing his hands away from the silky fabric again—a move which earned her another growl. She'd bought them from a specialty store, and she didn't even blink twice when the clerk told her they were called "the virgin-whore." Such a fitting name for a pair of panties.
She didn't like wearing panties, but wearing them for him was part of the fun. "You put too much importance on yourself," she said, trying to sound stern. He only "hmphed" at her. She jumped slightly when she felt the soft snap of fabric against her hips. He let out a triumphant harrumph, lifting her slightly and discarding the panties. She never tired of that.
He wasted no time exploring his plunder. Her nerve endings warmed as she opened to his touch. She closed her eyes and melded into him, enjoying the ride. "But I'm not wrong, am I?" he asked with a husky chuckle.
"No," she finally admitted, as he pressed his lips to her neck. She chuckled against his teasing tongue, spreading her legs just a bit further for him. "You're a tease," she said, surprised she managed an intelligible sentence.
"I learned from the best."
He was in one of his gentler moods, and she already missed her beast.
He was the kind of guy that fucked her in the middle of the day, in the living room, with the windows wide open for all the world to hear—or see, if they were really curious. He'd fuck her to the frenzied, spastic rhythms of his music collection, riding her like a wild beast. "Feel me inside, oh yeah. You can have me any way," Wayne Static would scream throughout the room, matching the agitated flurry of her pleasure, while Trent Reznor assured her like a gentle pat to the head, "I wanna fuck you like an animal." (She preferred Billy Ocean, but Billy Ocean was not considered appropriate mood music for their relationship.) His tongue was smarter than he was, and she had no complaints about that.
Just two days before—on the timeworn balcony, she'd nestled herself into his lap, wrapping spindly legs around his waist, as she lowered herself onto him. She'd draped a light blanket around their shoulders for some small sense of modesty. He'd been in a benevolent mood, giving in to her gentle touches and soft words. Still the lack of humility had excited her, and she'd even glimpsed the shudder of curtains from the neighbor's—Didier Bélisle's—house, pushing her past her brink.
For hours afterward, she'd wondered what Monsieur Bélisle had thought when he'd seen her on the balcony. Had he thought she was beautiful in her passion? Had he taken to his paints and tried to recreate the scene?
Later when she bumped into Monsieur Bélisle outside on the walk, his cheeks reddened slightly while he looked at her shyly offering her a bashful "bonjour!" His handsome face burned even more when he kissed her quickly on both cheeks. She fiddled with his crooked collar while they made polite chat, noting the way his concentration seemed to break when she touched him. He sputtered a nervous invitation to his art show before retreating to his place. Goddess, she loved Paris.
At night, she took her walks alone. She enjoyed the feeling of complete anonymity. She smiled at strangers and tried delicacies she could hardly pronounce. She drank too much wine and flirted with men she didn't know who promised to take her to places like Belize and Aruba. And she'd tell them her name was Bernadette ("Je m'appelle Bernadette," she'd purr) after her favorite song by The Four Tops and laugh until her stomach hurt because it was all good fun.
There was no need for her seriousness, her constant worrying. She wasn't Storm in Paris. She was just Ororo, a strange woman in a strange land, who dyed her hair an obscene shade of red because she liked it, who laughed too loudly at jokes because she had a voice, who left anonymous love notes on the back of napkins for strangers to find, who skipped topless on the beach, who danced in the garden at midnight like a drunken wood nymph, who kissed in the rain, who sang arias on the balcony at the crack of dawn (as badly as she pleased, thank you), who went down on her man in the theater, who would never be broken again, who told people she would never stop living in the red.
Truthfully, maybe she took these nightly walks just to forget, even though she told herself there was nothing to forget. She'd let that part of her die the night Logan tried to kill her. She could still remember the cool shock of his claws puncturing her flesh when she refused to let Logan get his hands on... the other. It hadn't hurt—at least, it never did in her recollection of the events. It'd been like a butter knife sliding smoothly through something pliable. And part of her had been willing to accept that death, felt that she was deserving of it. The hurt, the anger, she'd seen in his eyes made her believe that that was the best she could hope for.
But her anima, her inner self, wouldn't allow it. Anima. Self, the soul, the true inner self. Selfish in its intent; selfless in its extent. Outwardly, she was willing to take whatever he meted. Inwardly, a fire burned and swore to protect its host. And it was almost like she was watching herself when her fury encompassed her. She saw a cruel, intolerant woman more than willing to strike down the man she loved.
She watched her mouth set in the furious line, the power currents that flowed into her body, forming a tight ball of ferocity ready to attack. She pleaded with herself to think rationally. She didn't want to hurt Logan. She'd already done so much to him. How much more could she do to him? She was a monster, but she was helpless to stop herself. This town ain't big enough for both of us… her soul seemed to say.
"Careful what you love," she'd said to him, her voice sounding distant and harsh, white eyes smoking. Violent as fire, her body burned with lightning. It was so intense she'd though her body would dissolve and she would be nothing but pure energy. She'd grabbed his wrist pushing his claws deeper, feeling her fingers sink into his skin, the smell of singed flesh wrapping around them. She glanced down momentarily to see her fingers branding his skin. He was too angry, too focused on his goal, to care.
Her lips blazed against his when she kissed him suddenly. They collapsed, falling into each other tightly, before they were ripped apart—a violent supernova of lightning forcing them apart. She remembered crashing through the air, unable to summon control. And when she landed from the fall, eyes wide, heart beating at a breakneck speed, she barely felt anything. She was dead inside.
Somewhere along the line, while she wondered if she was dead or alive, she picked herself up and fled. Injuries be damned. Logan be damned. X-Men be damned. She was working off endorphins from the sudden rush of power. She wrapped her stomach as best she could, hoping she didn't bleed out. She put herself up in some slipshod hotel room, the owner taking pity on her, even though she had no money.
She treated her own wounds and ate air while pondering what she was going to do. She was in bad shape. She knew she needed help, but she refused to ask for it. The only thing she knew for sure at that point was that she couldn't go back. She could never go back. She resorted to the survival tactics that kept her alive on the streets when she was younger, relying on herself to keep herself going.
She worked at the motel for a while to pay her debts to the owner. She hadn't asked for it, but Ororo felt compelled to do it. She'd sit in her little swivel chair at the front desk, spinning 'round and 'round singing "Bernadette" at the top of her lungs. One day while she spun around in her chair in a drunken frenzy, she'd stop spinning abruptly and pick up her pen, singing into it like an old school diva while shimmy-shaking.
"But Bernadette, I want you because I need you to live," she crooned into her pen, eyes shut tight, "but while I live to only hold you, some other men they long to control you, but—"
"How can they control you, Bernadette, sweet Bernadette, when they cannot control themselves, Bernadette…" Her eyes snapped opened at the intrusion. She rarely saw many people in the day wanting to rent a room from that place. Most of the business started in the late hours when everyone was sloshed enough not to care where they did their dirty work. She looked into a familiar pair of eyes. He leaned on his elbow closer to her. "From wanting you, needing you."
The do-gooder in her hadn't died. He was the enemy, someone who couldn't be trusted. Ever the X-Man, her inner voice chided. This voice, the voice that had always been her rational mind, had always guided her down the upright path, betrayed her, a testament that she was truly broken. So revel in your decadence, the voice added. She couldn't. This wasn't who she was.
There was that still moment when you were sure that a dogfight was about to break out. His lips parted. She readied her attack without thought of protecting others, only of protecting herself, just as she had against Logan. "So, what's your name? And what's a pretty lady like you doing in this shithole?" Smarmy smile, half-flirtatious, half-enticing, 100 insincere. He did realize who she was, didn't he? Of course, he did. Smart aleck.
She sat back in her chair, stymied. Then, she narrowed her eyes. "Bernadette," she forced through her teeth. Then, she mentally dared him to give her one reason to kick his ass.
"You didn't ask my name," he said with that same smile.
"I already know your name. It's trouble." But she'd long decided that she liked trouble. And trouble was what made her move to Paris, and trouble was probably going to get her killed. But, damn, didn't she like trouble, especially when trouble left her purring like a kitten in the wee hours of the morning? Yes m'am, she did. Trouble set her soul on fire, blurring the lines of black and white, made her want to lose the last bit of rationality she had left.
Just like right now when her mind was a stir of emotions and waves of passion asked her to be wanton. And she'd be just that for only these few seconds. She'd be that for a lifetime, if she pleased.
Another nightly walk. Same time, same place. She roused from her sleep at his side like clockwork, pulling away from him gently, but he still stirred in his sleep. "Don't go," he muttered, trying to pull her back into his arms.
"I will not be long," she said, loosening herself from his grip and pulling on her clothes.
"You always say that," he said, voice thick with sleep.
"Well, I always come back, do I not?" she said, trying to keep some mirth in her voice.
"One day you won't," he said, turning over.
She reached out to him, stopping short of touching his shoulder. It'd never been a secret that one day they might tire of each other's company, that one day this might be a distant memory. He joked, with her track record, one day he'd wake up and she'd be gone. She had laughed with him about it, went through the motions. She thought he might be right, though. She wasn't sleeping with anyone other than him, but she was restless. She didn't know what she wanted.
For a moment, she considered crawling back into the bed with him, but she needed this more than he knew. She slipped on her shoes and walked out into the cool night. She wasn't much in the mood for her usual haunts. She felt like being alone to her thoughts. Tonight, she just wanted it to be her and the dark. That's when she felt most at ease with herself.
She nearly cried out when someone grabbed her arm, but her eyes widened when she came face to face with her captor. "Goddess, Logan, how did you find me?" she asked. She spoke softly, even though they were only ones on the dark street. Her heart was drumming in her chest. She tried to put a little room between them, but he held firmly to her arm. Go home, a voice warned her. Make him release you and turn tail. She didn't move, though, didn't say another word.
""Wasn't hard. I tracked ya down at that hotel ya were workin' at. I used ta go by there every day. I thought I might try ta talk ta ya, anyway, despite all that shit that happened. But then ya hooked up with asshole an' moved here, an' I realized it woulda been a waste o' my fuckin' time." He looked haggard, tired, but his eyes were shadowy, dangerous. The moonlight didn't hit them quite right, making them seem opaque.
So, he'd known she was here the whole time. She wasn't surprised, not really. Her throat dried and her instincts continued to warn her that this wasn't good, but she stood firm. "I am not sure—"
"Don'tcha even wanna know how he's doin'?" he cut her off. It was like a slap to the face, and she reeled from the verbal blow. She could take this. She'd taken much worse from him. And she'd endure this too, if this was what he needed.
She winced when his fingers dug into her arm a little harder. She often wondered what would happen if she met up with Logan again. This wasn't exactly how she pictured it. She hoped it would've been on better terms, that they'd have plenty of time to mend. This was too soon, too precarious. She didn't understand his motives for this meeting.
She shook her head quickly, finally pulling her arm away from him. "That is not my life, anymore." She'd work too hard to be faced with this right now. She closed her eyes tightly for a second, hoping he'd only be a ghost of her imagination when she opened her eyes. She'd rather be crazy, talking to the air on the street, than really living this, she told herself.
"Yes, it is. Just cause ya ain't there don't make it stop bein' yer life," he said, letting her know that he really was standing there in front of her. "We got over ya. Naw, that ain't right. We didn't get over ya, but we came ta an understandin'. You fucked us over, an' we could hate each other fer. But what was the point? Two assholes fightin' over a woman who doesn't give a damn. We were still there, workin' side by side trying' ta heal, while ya were off findin' another fuckin' man. God, ain't ya got tired o' doin' this shit, yet?"
"You say it is still my life, but it is not. That life ended the minute you did this"—she pulled her shirt up, showing him the bunched scars on her stomach and she didn't back down when he winced from the memory—"my life with you crashed. You do not know me. Maybe you knew me, then, but I am not the same woman."
"An' yer still lyin' to yerself." He tsked at her, disappointed.
"Why are you here?" she countered.
"Closure, I guess. I wanted ya ta be as miserable as I was," he said. His eyes were angry, very angry, but his voice was calm. "But instead yer here livin' it up."
"I am sorry," she said. She wasn't sure if she was apologizing again for everything that happened or if she was apologizing because she wasn't wasting away from misery like he thought she should be. Maybe it was both. Maybe it was nothing.
"Ya can keep yer empty sorry," he snapped at her. His voice echoed through the streets, and she took a step away from him. Then he ran his hands through his hair.
"I have to go home. Will you be here long?" She tried to sound as unruffled as possible when she was anything but. She'd never take another walk alone if the gods saw fit for her to leave this encounter unscathed. Her heart was a deafening roar in her ears. If he planned to be around for a while, she'd find somewhere else to be. But he'd made it perfectly clear he was there to see her. If she wasn't there, what reason would he have to be there?
"I've already been here too long. Ya won't see me again after this." And she believed it. The tone in his voice was absolute.
"It is for the best if we forget," she whispered, taking another step away from him. He was moving toward her faster than she was moving away from him. She was considered turning and running down the street. Goddess, she should've just stayed in the bed, but if it hadn't been tonight, it would've been another night.
"Yeah, forget. Whatever," he parroted.
The heartrending look in her eyes turned her retreat into advancement. She dared to touch him when she was close to him again, cupping his face between. "Do not do this to yourself. I am… Do whatever you have to do to move on. Call me names. Hate me. But do not do this to yourself because of me." Goddess, she hoped he didn't think she was being pompous. If he had to hate her to his dying breath to heal, she wanted him to do it. And she wouldn't play the victim if he did. She knew her place in this tragedy.
He nestled into her touch. "Ya might fall in love with someone today, an' ya might fall in love with someone else t'morrow, but everybody ain't that easy. I'll always love you, just you."
Then, he drew her in for a firm, tender kiss. She kissed him back tentatively. His hands molded to her waist like they used to. She hadn't even known she missed his touch so much. His touch was personal, familiar, right. Lost love thrummed between them, and she sighed into his lips. She had missed this. She'd given all this away for what? Her breath left her when his fists caught her hard in the stomach, a searing pain ripping through her womb. She tried to say something, anything, but she couldn't breathe, couldn't react, as tears burned her eyes. She closed her eyes slumping into him as the first tears slipped from her eyes.
They say, when you're dying, your life is supposed to flash before your eyes, but that, like everything else, was a fucking lie.
"She knows what she's doing. She's almost
done. You think this is tragedy. She thinks this is fun… She sees you scrawl
your love in blood on the wall. She bites the bullet, so watch her go off. And
watch it explode in her platinum mouth."
Metal Eye, Nicole Blackman
Author's Notes: I've had a lot going on for me, lately. Add that to the fact that I've been a little disgruntled with Marvel as of late. This was meant to end in a different way, but a sudden burst of inspiration from a friend pushed me in a different direction. Thank you for all your psychobabble, Nick. :D A lot of loud music (and some not so loud music) inspired this fic, so it is what it is influenced by my moods and music. I know I didn't keep my promise and tell you who the mystery lover was. Verbal beatings will be taken as humbly as possible. I couldn't force myself to do it because I wanted the greater focus to be this broken relationship, and that was another reason I was stalled—trying to force something I wasn't feeling. You all have nice imaginations, though. It's whoever you want it to be. I trust your judgment. Thanks for the nice reviews, input, and sticking with the story, even when I stalled. I don't know if I'm going to continue with the flip-side story, but I'll listen to a little more (loud) music and call you in the morning.