A Prelude to Soul Mates – by Darlin

Disclaimer – No copyright infringement intended; I don't own them, just having the usual fun.

A/N – A prelude of sorts to Soul Mates. Pure fantasy so perhaps a tad out of character but oh the fun I had playing with my favorite couple. Please forgive any errors.

-xox-

Stilettos. That was all Wolverine could think of whenever he saw Storm's long legs moving rhythmically as she crossed and uncrossed them. Some time ago she'd had the audacity to stand up to him when he'd wanted to rip Scott's head off, and he would have too except she'd stepped up to him and told him flat out no he wasn't. Just like that. Not a trace of fear on her either. The memory still excited him as much now as it had then.

Usually he tried not to think about her but watching her now he found it hard to control himself. They were all gathered in the rec room, most watching television, but she was sitting quietly in a chair near the bay window reading a book. He stood in the doorway, eyes raking over the others briefly. Scott and Jean were sitting side by side on a small couch, Kurt and Peter were on the largest couch with plenty of room between them and Sean was stretched out in a chair on the other side of the room that matched the one Ororo was sitting in.

Try as he might he couldn't keep the memory of Ororo standing tall above him and looking fierce as she told him with complete certainty that he wasn't going to do jack, not then not ever, and if he did he'd answer to her. The memory sent a chill down his spine. It had been the first time he'd seen she wasn't just some annoying, albeit pretty frail, that she actually had a backbone. The revelation had stunned him and surprisingly it had turned him on. He drew his lips inward now, refusing to let them smile as he watched her. He had a strange urge to go to her – knew he shouldn't yet couldn't resist. He knew it would get him his head handed to him and still, he just couldn't stop himself. So, despite his better judgment he sauntered through the room seemingly aimless until he ended up behind his target.

No one noticed him he figured as he glanced around the room. He took a deep breath, flexed his hands, and prepared to move in for the kill all while berating himself for being weak yet totally ignoring the little voice of warning in the back of his head. Very slowly he leaned over Ororo's shoulder slightly just as she turned to look at him. He liked that she wasn't easy to slip upon, thought her hearing was almost as good as his – another thing to admire about her. And she was looking at him with a slightly bemused expression that tickled him. Most people were intimidated by him but she wasn't in the least.

"Stilettos," he whispered, forcing himself to look away from those deep, dark, blue eyes; eyes any sane man could get lost in if he wasn't careful.

"What?" she asked, craning her neck as she looked up at him.

"Stilettos. You'd look good in 'em," he said with a crooked grin though he kept his eyes on the others while he spoke. Then he added, "You should think about it."

"I don't know what that . . ." Ororo stopped for Logan was moving off as stealthily as he'd come.

She shook her head not sure what he'd meant. Under her breath she whispered, "Still let toes. Still let goes? What?" She shrugged her shoulders, half frustrated, half curious. She couldn't possibly fathom his meaning much less the man but she was used to that and so she let it go.

-xox-

Several days later sometime after dinner when Ororo went up to her room she found a package on her bed. In actuality it looked to be a present wrapped in shiny blue paper and tied with an elaborate white bow. Surprised, she sat down on the bed, pulled the ribbon free, and tore the gift wrapping off. The box was the shape of a shoe box and a card was taped to the lid.

Stilettos. That was all the card said. She spoke the word out loud saying each syllable slowly. Even more curious she opened the box and found inside a bed of white tissue paper lay a pair of black, high heels.

"So that's what stilettos are!" she murmured, "Intriguing," and she laughed.

She wore them the next day feeling like an amazon over six feet easily. Jean complimented her, wanted to know where she got them from, curious that she hadn't been invited to tag along on Ororo's shopping spree.

"They were a gift," Ororo replied and when Jean, with wide astonished eyes, wanted more details Ororo only smiled, changed the subject then slipped away as soon as there was an opportunity.

It was silly but she enjoyed the secrecy, and too, she wasn't entirely sure how Jean would feel if she knew whom the shoes – the stilettos – were from since she knew there was a flirtation going on between Jean and Logan, however one sided it might be. But she loved the shoes! She'd become fond of high heels when required to wear them as part of her uniform which she'd loved at first sight, heels and all. Shopping with Jean had shown her there were all kinds of reasons to add a new pair of shoes to one's collection and the black stilettos would go with casual and dressy outfits, perfect for the little black dress she was wearing now. She wondered what Logan's reaction would be when he saw her in them. The anticipation left her feeling a little anxious. Perhaps she was mistaken and the stilettos weren't from him? But no, that would be unlikely especially after his cryptic behavior the other day.

When she saw him later that day she again second guessed herself. His usually bored, indifferent expression barely changed when he caught sight of her. Had she been wrong then? It hardly seemed possible and yet – ah, wait . . . there – just for a second she thought she saw the tiniest of movement on that rugged face. One side of his mouth curled upwards the merest fraction and she was positive one eyebrow had arched just a bit in – appreciation?

Not known for emotional outbursts, save in rage, Logan wasn't about to let on how much the sight of Ororo in a short dress and those strappy stilettos effected him. He had almost stopped in mid stride upon entering the room when he'd seen her, dazed at the image she created, like a dream come to life. She was sitting in her favorite chair by the bay window her right leg crossed over her left leg, long and seemingly never ending in that short skirt, and bobbing up and down slightly as she stared off into nothing looking as if she were anywhere but there. And then she jerked slightly as if coming back to reality when she'd turned and seen him standing there. He fought hard to recover the neutral expression he always wore and felt he'd succeeded.

Ororo was almost as unemotional as he was so he'd been very interested as to what her reaction would be. Would she be coy or pleased? But as they gazed at each other there was barely recognition on her placid face. They looked at each other as if they were strangers. She let her eyes fall when he moved further into the room and he felt a stab of disappointment. As he settled himself into one of the empty chairs close to the television he couldn't resist looking back at her once more. He saw she was watching him but she quickly averted her eyes. He thought she looked a little miffed which for some unknown reason filled him with satisfaction.

While the others droned on during commercials his thoughts kept returning to Ororo. She looked like a goddess, no denying that, and nothing could be more alluring than Ororo in stilettos . . . except . . . maybe . . . No, no, he wouldn't allow himself to think about Ororo anymore. Really. He wouldn't. And he kept telling himself that, tried not to go where his wayward mind was taking him, tried hard to tame his straying thoughts, but in the end he simply couldn't stop himself. Visions of Ororo in skimpy black underwear and stilettos filled his brain. It got him so riled up he had to make a discreet exit.

-xox-

A week later after avoiding Ororo as much as possible between meals, missions, briefings and leisure time, and trying hard to maintain his cool whenever he was near her, he was still not able to rid himself of visions of her in skimpy attire and sexy poses you'd find in certain men's magazines. In fact, he'd had far too many dreams about her and though not all of them were erotic most were. There was one really bizarre one where she was ordering him around, dominatrix style, looking sexily menacing while wearing only a lacy black bra and black skimpy bikini bottoms. He'd never been into the dominatrix thing but many a morning he found his lower regions didn't exactly agree. And so one late evening, with the team gathered in the rec room as usual he found himself winding his way towards Ororo yet again.

"Mmm," she breathed when she felt his warm breath on her neck. "What can I do for you?"

He gulped. She had no idea what she could do for him. Standing behind her chair, ignoring everyone else in the room, he wanted to grab her and do things he had no right to do much less think about. Instead he blew gently in her ear. It was almost childish but he couldn't resist.

"That . . . tickles," she whispered.

She thought she heard a chuckle quickly stifled but he continued blowing lightly. She could feel his lips getting closer or at least imagined it and tingly goose bumps covered her arms. He blew gently again and she shivered delightfully.

"Hah! I win again! Hey, you two want to . . ." Jean's buoyant voice trailed off after her victory at her board game as she looked up at Ororo and Logan. She was flabbergasted to see the two in such an intimate pose. "Uh . . . umm, I'm – I'm on a winning streak . . . I . . . I thought one of you might want to play me, the Mighty Mistress of Monopoly. Any takers?" she finished, her voice trembling with emotions she couldn't understand.

Logan stood slowly, stretched his thick muscular arms high above his head in the most nonchalant manner and ignored Jean altogether while Ororo merely shook her head, bit back a smile and went back to her book. Logan knew Jean was still watching him – watching them. He didn't mind her looking, in fact he liked it. Jean was his type of woman. He really liked her, wanted her even, but she was Scott's which meant all she could do was look. He could never see what she saw in the Boy Scout who was too much of a stick in the mud. Even now Scott was frowning at Jean, trying to recapture her attention by challenging her to another game. Scott amused Logan. But something about Jean made him long for something he couldn't quite grasp. It kept him tied there at Xavier's when he knew he should have moved on long ago and yet something about this woman sitting in front of him, now lost in her book, also kept him there.

Something unfathomable about Ororo called to him, drawing him in as if there was some unseen cord connecting them. It sounded absurd, was absurd, in fact he was sure it was absurd, but it was there nonetheless. What it was, he wasn't exactly sure any more than he was with the way he felt about Jean only his gut instinct told him it was almost primeval with Ororo, something ancient as time, this growing need he felt, one part lust, one part insatiable curiosity and another part something he frankly didn't want to understand.

He looked down at Ororo's smooth white hair, yearned to reach out and touch it but quickly quelled the impulse. With an almost inaudible sigh he stepped closer to the bay window and turned to look out at the coming night while trying to put all thoughts of the fascinating Storm out of his mind.

-xox-

"Is something going on between you and Wolverine?" Jean asked Ororo the next day.

"Going on? I don't understand what you mean," Ororo replied truthfully.

"The way he was standing by you last night . . . it looked . . . it looked . . . well, you two aren't an item are you?"

Jean had to laugh at Ororo's perplexed look.

" I mean like Scott and me, how we're together. You know – dating."

Now Ororo laughed.

"So is there something going on?" Jean persisted.

"No," Ororo answered because there really wasn't anything going on, not like Jean and Scott at least.

"Oh."

It was as simple as that. Ororo never went into details. She just simply lived life appreciating all it had to offer even while she didn't always understand American customs. She didn't gossip, she didn't offer intimate tidbits and yet Jean had come to enjoy the erstwhile goddess, glad to have her as a friend and so with much relief she took Ororo at her word and pried no further.

-xox-

There was another present waiting for Ororo a few days later, neatly wrapped in white paper with a red ribbon, and once again placed in the middle of her bed.

'To wear with your stilettos' the card read.

Feeling like an excited child Ororo unwrapped the package eagerly, ribbon and paper flying. What she found inside was a smooth bundle of folded white tissue paper. She paused a moment before picking the it up. It fit in one hand and weighed nearly nothing. The excitement she'd felt just a few seconds ago quickly turned into apprehension although she couldn't say why. Biting her lower lip and her stomach a sea of knots she slowly unfolded the soft paper.

"Oh!" she gasped. She didn't know whether to laugh or to be angry when she saw the lacy black panties and matching bra.

Certain it came from Wolverine she couldn't quite understand what his intention was. The man was an utter mystery to her. She knew he admired Jean, perhaps even wanted a relationship with Jean but, despite all his bravado, he was a man of honor and Ororo knew he would never try anything as long as Jean was still with Scott. She held up the exquisite pieces and wondered aloud,

"So, now what?"

-xox-

Just daydreaming about Ororo in the lingerie and stilettos he'd given her was more than enough for Logan. He had no hopes of her modeling them for him but a man could dream couldn't he? Still that incessant, unnamable urge crept over him and even though he knew he shouldn't he knew he was going to do something about it. It wasn't right, was actually pretty stupid, but despite knowing this he found himself walking up the steps to Ororo's room in the attic. He'd just say hi he told himself, no harm in that right?

Oftentimes when he passed by the stairs that led to the attic he heard giggling and other little noises women made when they were together, the kind of noises that always annoyed him slightly because he didn't know if they were talking about him which couldn't help but pique his curiosity. But this time it was quiet in the stairwell. His stomach churned uneasily as he stared at the white painted door to her bedroom that seemed to loom ominously at the top of the landing. He wondered what she was doing then told himself he didn't care. But he did. He told himself to turn around and go back down but he didn't. Nor did he bother to knock when he knew he should. The door wasn't shut completely and he could clearly see inside.

Again his conscious tried to wrest control, telling him to knock, to make his presence known, but Logan was having none of that. He leaned closer to the door, the better to see his daydream come to life. He was sure she thought everyone was asleep because she was cavorting around half naked in front of a full length mirror. Bedazzled at the sight, he could hardly think straight. She was wearing nothing but the gifts he'd given her – too good to be true! But his euphoria was short lived. As his eyes trailed up her oh so inviting body he saw she was watching his reflection in the mirror.

He gulped.

Mid pose, Ororo had sensed someone behind her then had noticed Logan gawking at her as if in a trance. Now he looked completely caught off guard which amused her. She turned to face him, curious what he was doing, but all he could do was open and close his mouth several times while trying to swallow and think of something creditable to say, all without succeeding.

"Is there something I can do for you?" Ororo asked.

His eyes grew even larger she noticed but he was barely able to shake his head. They looked at each other for a moment. Neither spoke.

"Hi," he finally managed to get out.

"Hi," she said with a smile.

"Just wanted . . . um . . . to see if you got 'em."

"I did."

"Yeah. Um. Alright."

"They're lovely."

"Yup."

"Thank you."

"Yup."

Logan nodded then after a few seconds of looking at her he brought two fingers up to his brow in a kind of salute then he reached for the door, pulled it shut so the temptation to step into her room wasn't as strong, turned on his heel and ran down the stairs.

"A strange little man," Ororo murmured, turning back to the mirror with a mingled look of bewilderment and confusing disappointment.

As Logan dashed down the stairs he smacked himself on the forehead repeatedly.

"Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! What did you do that for? Like I think I'm a captain or something saluting her like that? An' running from her like that! Stupid!" he groaned.

But what else could he have done? If he hadn't shut the door he wouldn't have been responsible for what would have happened and he couldn't let himself go there. He could never ever let himself go there. He had a feeling if he ever did anything with Ororo he wouldn't be able to stop, that he'd never want to stop. She simply wasn't like any woman he'd ever known. She was like a real goddess come to life and how could a goddess like that want what he wanted? No, he'd never make the mistake of trying anything with her and he'd never give her little presents again either. He swore he wouldn't.

-xox-

After a very uncomfortable breakfast where Logan attempted to avoid Ororo but ended up running into her all the same as she too was avoiding him and had come down late just as he had, Logan decided he needed to set things right. However, knowing this didn't mean it would be easy. He went over in his head a hundred times over thinking what to say to her. She wasn't his type; he was only fooling around, no harm done right? Or he'd just tell her she looked gorgeous in the things he'd given her and he'd appreciated seeing her in them, wanted to see her in them again, wanted her to model them for him in his room this time . . .

His train of thought was broken as the little angel sitting on his shoulder nixed that idea soundly. But the little devil on his opposite shoulder wouldn't go away. He could barely think of anything besides the sight of Ororo in that sexy lingerie, those tall, sexy heels, the way she'd looked at him as if – as if what? As if she wanted something from him, expected something from him. But he told himself to let it go, it was all in his head, to concentrate, to just take care of the mess he'd made. Truth be told he wouldn't have said anything at all except he didn't want her thinking he was a perverted peeping Tom.

By the time Ororo came back with Jean from an outing in the city where they'd had dinner Logan had finally worked up his courage. Taking a deep breath and once again ignoring the others in the rec room he threaded his way slowly over to Ororo. He watched the others covertly as he stood behind her chair by the window chomping on a cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth. It looked as if she were concentrating on her book and hadn't noticed him. He steeled his nerves and then, full of determination, he lowered his head close to hers.

"I'm wearing them now," she whispered before he could say anything.

His jaw dropped. He couldn't help it. Her legs unfold, parted a little, then slowly crossed again. He caught his breath. Everything was turned upside down with those four words and the sensual movements of those beautiful long legs. Before reason set in he brushed her ear with his lips then let them settle under her ear just along the jaw line ever so lightly. She moaned softly. He wanted to put his hands on her – all over her, wanted to pick her up and carry her to his room, rip off her dress and make her say dirty things while he did everything he'd been fantasizing about with her. But the spell they were both caught up in was broken unexpectedly.

"Wolverine, what are you doing, tovarisch?" Peter asked in his deep voice, startling them both so much that they both jumped.

"Asking the lady something – you mind?" Logan replied with more gruffness than usual.

"It did not look like that to me!" Peter said, rising as if he meant to challenge Logan.

"He was not disturbing me, Peter."

But even Ororo's reassurance didn't keep Peter from glancing their way every few seconds after he sat back down. And under that burning gaze Logan was forced to retreat.

"Ach, Logan what is going on?" Kurt asked as he joined Logan as he left the room.

"Nothing, Elf."

"Are you sure? Because if there is something going on between you and Ororo you will have to answer to Peter and myself."

Logan stopped. He studied Kurt. The Elf was serious.

"Nothing's going on, Kurt," he repeated for really what was going on was nothing, just silly high school antics.

"Good," Kurt replied with satisfaction.

So that was it? They thought he wasn't good enough for the goddess? They didn't even know her, still hadn't realized that the goddess they were so fond of protecting didn't need protecting and was wearing underwear he'd bought her and was probably thinking dirty thoughts just like him. They saw her as someone she really wasn't while he'd seen the real Ororo Munroe. But, unfortunately, all that was doing was getting him in too deep.

-xox-

As dawn approached, Logan's mind was as restless as his heart. Sleep had been impossible. He kept seeing visions of Ororo in his mind, her first snow, the childlike joy and he remembered her dancing with fireflies in the summer, serene and enchanting. He saw her admonishing him in no uncertain terms, beautiful and bold in her righteousness and he saw her posing before her mirror in the heels and lingerie he'd given her, and he saw Kurt and Peter's looks of anger following him as if to ask who he thought he was to dare to dream of the goddess amidst them. But he'd come to see she was both more and less than the goddess the others saw. Where they saw only the outer shell, lovely, feminine, delicate, he'd seen so much more and he knew she was also earthy and real.

Despite his attitude towards her in the past he'd come to admire her and he like her, liked her a whole lot more after she'd balled him out. He'd discovered Ororo was exasperating, unpredictable, fascinating and bewitching. She was just herself, no airs, no pretending. No other woman he'd ever met was like her or could match her in that. He sighed. It didn't matter how well he thought he'd come to know her, ultimately Peter and Kurt were right. Besides what woman of that caliber would want him? He wasn't good enough.

With this admission he felt his mind clear finally. Whatever it was that had spurred him on had caused him to make a serious fool out of himself. Firstly, he knew not to get involved with anyone he worked with. Secondly, he had a thing for Jean and getting involved with Jean's best friend was just plain stupid whether he was ever going to have a chance with Jean or not. He'd begun to enjoy the little game he'd been playing with Storm far too much and it had become more than just hoping for a round in the sack. He resented this need that he couldn't explain. He wanted – needed – control more than anything, to tame the beast inside him, he had to in order to have a normal life. Ororo brought out the beast in him and that wouldn't do. More than anything he longed for normalcy which meant a quiet, predictable woman, someone who was safe and familiar like Jean, the complete opposite of Ororo.

-xox-

The next day began and ended pretty much like any other day. Logan and Ororo shared breakfast with the others as if nothing had passed between them. They worked together while training under Scott's watchful eye but there wasn't a hint of what had happened over the past few weeks. The team gathered in the rec room to relax after dinner and Ororo took her usual seat with book in hand and Logan sat down on the couch with Kurt to watch a movie. Logan didn't allow himself to wonder what Ororo was wearing under her long caftan and Ororo didn't let herself think why she'd intentionally left the door ajar or what she'd hoped for when Logan had come to her room. And seeing this, that all was as it should be, Peter and Kurt breathed a sigh of relief and everyone went on as they had before. It was over – whatever it had been or might have been.

Thinking back on the past few days Ororo never quite understood what she'd been thinking. Whispering in the rec room so the others wouldn't hear her as if she and Logan were conspiring. Certainly it had been juvenile but on another level it had been so alluring, even sensuous. She'd liked the sudden attention, enjoyed the unexpected presents and had truthfully looked forward to the next stage although she had no idea what that could have been. She knew that for all their talk about sexual freedom Americans were stuffy and uptight when it came to sex so she hadn't presumed to think that's what he wanted and yet somehow she had . . . what? Hoped? Did that make her crazy? No and yes she thought. That little man, full of pride, strength, honor and arrogance and whom she'd had to straighten out more than once had actually gotten to her.

Well, it was good he'd finally snapped out of whatever it was that had gotten into him, she decided. She would never have been able to explain it to Jean and there was no way Peter would have approved and she valued his friendship too much to lose over foolishness. Yes, it was good they'd both snapped out of it and she felt Logan would agree.

As if he'd heard her thoughts or felt her watching him Logan looked up from the TV and stared at her. She thought to look away but quickly admonished herself for why should she when she – they – had done nothing wrong? So instead she flashed a warm smile for though nothing had happened between them there was something between them, something she couldn't explain. He surprised her with a wink and a grin before turning back to his movie. She covered her mouth but chuckled despite her efforts to hold it in.

"What's so funny, Ororo?" Jean asked, looking over from where she sat with Scott.

"Oh, I suppose I'm happy that all is well in our little world."

"For a change, huh?" Jean said but she gave Ororo a quizzical look.

Everything truly was well in their world Ororo saw. In that one exchange with Logan she realized that she and he would continue to be friends without the awkwardness she'd dreaded. What had happened had happened whether either of them understood it and now it was over. Some instinctive voice inside her as old as time, told her that what might yet occur between them was not up to her or even up to him. Fate alone would decide.

Well, now that the silliness is over I can sleep tonight, she thought and she yawned deeply full of relief and exhaustion from sleeplessness the night before and then she bade her friends a good night.

But sleep for Logan and Ororo would remain difficult for long seasons to come. The uncertainties and missteps in their relationship haunting them even when they would finally give into the persistent need that called to them, binding them whether they wished to acknowledge it or not, for how do you deny fate which alone determines your soul mate?