Author's Note: The title comes from Wilkie Collins' detective novel, The Moonstone, about the mysterious disappearance of a large diamond. But the most memorable scene for me was the shivering sands scene—the site of the maid's suicide and where, we learn, she hid a locked box full of evidence that will disclose the jewel thief. And—just so Victorian! The handsome gentleman heads to the shivering sands, armed with this knowledge (and a big stick) and delves into their depths, poking about for the elusive box, and the sands shiver and shudder and heave and quiver as he does it. And then the box is pried open, revealing a stained shift—and just, I can't explain why it's so funny to me, but I still scream 'The sands! It's the shivering sands!' whenever I come across thinly-veiled metaphors for female orgasms.
When I was writing 'Getting There', I found myself accidentally writing a shivering sands scene—that skin thing snuck up on me. Suddenly a very different fic—I could just imagine the later sex scene where Logan demands she 'leave it on'. But I can't write sex scenes, and I also needed to, like, hurry up and streamline the series already…or somewhat. So, while this didn't make it, I do so like to scream, 'Shivering sands!'… shrug Kept this around for fun.
I: Shivering Sands
He kept throwing out quizzical looks at her after the incident, like he couldn't quite figure her out. She didn't really get that, since they were doing basically the same things they'd always done, but… well, she wasn't going to think too hard about it.
Honestly, she liked him better when he was a bit off-stride.
So she wasn't too surprised when he suggested that they take a ride somewhere, on a Saturday. She could see that, whatever he was asking himself about her, he wasn't getting any answers. Traditionally, their rides out had been about those, usually just before he left.
She wondered what, exactly, he was questioning now.
But the day was lovely. Unseasonably warm.
They wound their way up some backroads through the mountains. An hour on the bike, pressed up against him, the heady feel of the wind on her face: well, she was sorry they arrived.
She laid her head against his shoulder for one last moment, feeling the warmth of the sun-bathed leather, then with a shake, she disembarked, striding to the edge of the lot and surveying the view with a hand held up to her brow. She could hear Logan parking the bike and then strolling up to join her.
'Nice place,' she commented, and she led him on a short hike down, past the picnic area, towards a more isolated spot on top of a hill. They laid out congenially, propped up on their elbows, sunning themselves and enjoying the view.
He was absently shredding grass, not looking at her, and she could see he wasn't about to start a conversation any time soon. So she shrugged, relaxed, and let herself enjoy the easy atmosphere, easy company.
Tilting her head up to the sun, she closed her eyes, concentrated fiercely on the sensation. It was times like this that, suddenly, the urge to turn her skin on came to her. She inhaled slowly, grappling with the idea—it was safe: who would touch her now? She paused, just gave in…felt that power, that hum, let it flood her with sensation. God, that felt amazing!
She breathed sharply through the rippling surge and smiled in pleasure, enjoying the old familiar pull for a few breaths. With a sigh, she turned it off, feeling the difference, the loss, the sun only now, beating down upon her face.
She opened her eyes to catch him staring at her, and she was mortified to see that he could tell. She babbled, 'I—sometimes I just…I get the urge to turn it on again.' She felt acutely guilty that she hadn't warned him, embarrassed that he'd seen…whatever, and she finished lamely, 'I…it feels good.'
He looked very uncomfortable. 'You can leave it on,…if you want to,' he offered gruffly. But he didn't look like he really meant it.
'No,' she answered quickly, drawing up, pressing her knees to her chest. 'It's better off. It's just an urge sometimes. It's gone now.'
He shifted restlessly behind her, and she berated herself for what a bad idea that had been. She was just about to spring up, work off some of this restless energy and acute discomfort, when he cleared his throat. 'So when it's off,' he began haltingly, rising up to sit beside her, 'it's not…?'
She didn't know if she really wanted to explain, really, but… She hastened to assure him, 'It's just more, when it's on, you know. It feels powerful, or something, and sometimes…sometimes it's nice to remember, to feel that again.'
He nodded, considering, and in light of his more collected demeanor, the apology tumbled out, 'I'm sorry. It was just, it was you—and I thought—I felt, suddenly when I got the urge that I could. Safe. And I should have warned you—er, not done it. I'm sorry. Sorry.'
'It's ok,' he said patiently, and he scooped her up and into him, so that their faces were close and his arms encircled her.
He grabbed one hand and held it, watching his thumb run slowly across the back of it. She was tense, nervous, trembling…something, but so grateful that he would still touch her again, like this. He looked up, straight into her eyes, and stated, 'I want you to do it again.'
'I want you to turn your skin on, Rogue,' he pressed, and he broke the hold on her hand to clasp her covered forearm, loose but firm, keeping her still.
'Logan, I d-don't…'
'Do it,' he said, his voice low, almost hypnotic. 'Look at me this time. Do it again and look at me.'
She swallowed, though her mouth was suddenly dry. Her throat was tight, and she felt an enormous pressure in her chest. But his gaze—she couldn't tear herself away from the probing eyes, commanding her to do it.
And she did. She turned it on, felt the jolt, the rush of it again, her back arching a little, and this time the sensations were more powerful, more turbulent, as she could see him see her the whole time.
'You can see it,' he murmured, and he touched a hand to the shock of white hair.
She gave a shaky laugh, nearly trembling. Being this close to danger and still feeling this power was heady – she'd forgotten what it was like, since she'd learned how to turn it off. His hand cupped round the back of her head, and the buzzing, the pleasure, intensified, dancing along her skin, her nerve endings, and she was nearly vibrating with it. The roar—she bit her lip, shuddered.
His hand settled heavily on her shoulder, and she turned it off, slumping a bit and catching her breath. He traced down her arm to her hand again, and held it in an easy grip, but she twitched a little, touch suddenly strange.
She buried her head in his shoulder and gave another half-laugh of embarrassment, and he gave her hand a squeeze. 'Hey,' he cajoled, shrugging his shoulders a bit to get her to surface.
'God, Logan, you must have a death wish or something,' she mumbled, straightening and smoothing her hair.
'Hey, you haven't killed me yet,' he pointed out.
'Yeah, but it doesn't feel safe right when I turn it on,' she argued. 'It always feels so unstable just then, so needy.' She blew out a breath, half-scooted, turned away. She leaned back, settled herself.
'Must get hard, keeping it off all the time,' he remarked, observing her.
'No,' she shook her head. 'Not usually.' In the silence, she worked up the courage to finally look at him again. He was still, eyeing her with that patient look that said he was just waiting…for what, she never knew. She cracked a crooked smile. 'So that was fun.' Almost sarcastically.
He shook his head, frowned, 'That was…' He looked so serious.
She didn't want to know what that was. She scrambled to her feet, twitched as she looked around distractedly.
He rose, too, suddenly stood before her, clasped her face between his palms. 'Don't ever forget,' he imprecated, small shake for emphasis. 'Don't ever forget you have the power to do that.'
She grasped the edges of his jacket, held on, for balance. 'I-' she licked her lips. 'I won't.' How could she, possibly?
His eyes drifted over her face, her hair, her mouth, 'You may not be ready for it now, Rogue. But someday—' he backed up a step, loosened his hold, encompassed her trembling body in his gaze this time—'someday you will be. Just don't forget: off isn't gone.'
'I know,' she answered softly, flicking him uneasy, sidelong glances.
He sighed ruefully, his shoulders drooping a bit, rocked back on his heels. 'Thank you,' he pressed a thumb to the corner of her mouth, smiled with more affection, 'for showing me.' She shrugged, and his thumb trailed down, became a friendly clasp of the shoulder. 'You were beautiful.'
She snorted. 'Yeah, poison skin'll do that every time.'
He slung his arm around her shoulder. 'Come on,' he squeezed, ambling back towards the bike. 'Enough for today.'
'So you're not gonna quiz me over my life, try and suss out my life story?' She didn't know why she felt so belligerent, except that she felt so exposed.
He hesitated, searched her eyes. 'Marie, you don't…do you mind, coming up here with me?'
Short shake, small, embarrassed, 'no.' She didn't mind.
'Then,' he brushed back some hair from her face, 'there's no rush.' Strange smile, eyes unfathomable. Strange tone: soft but not quite comforting. They'd arrived back at the bike, and he proffered her helmet.
She took it, swallowed. 'Ok,' she agreed shyly, felt like she'd committed to…something much larger now. He slanted her his lopsided grin, and she thought—it might be ok—clambered on board behind him, grasped tight. She leaned into him, and he gunned the engine, and they motored out of sight.