Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men, the Avengers, or any other Marvel characters. Please don't sue me or steal my story!
NOTE: Hiya! I wrote this story for the May Writing Challenge at Nightscrawlers. The prompt was to come up with a non-canon significant other for Nightcrawler, one not popular in the fandom, and make the couple make sense. The story had to be short, about 1,500 words. This one's a little over, but it's still under 2,000, so I'm just hoping that's OK. I picked the character Spider-Woman, a.k.a. Jessica Drew, because I remembered a picture off a comic book I saw at a sale several months ago where she was sticking to a wall. I have to admit I know next to nothing about her, but when I was researching her background, I found it striking how many similarities there are between her and Nightcrawler. For instance, they both know Dr. Strange and Wolverine and several foreign languages, they both stick to walls, they have superhuman agility, and they both fence! I don't think she and Nightcrawler have ever met in the comics, but if anyone knows differently please correct me! And please let me know what you think!
Ships in the Fog
Jessica Drew was on the hunt. A former triple agent with S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA, and the Avengers, she was still easing her way back into the swing of the superhero game. The past few years had been difficult for her. She had been used and abused and left for dead. She had lost her super powers and gained them back again, enduring a painful 17 month ordeal of one operation after another to repair her damaged genetic make-up. She had lost dear friends and gained others, traveled the world and fought the baddies wherever they lurked.
And then came the Civil War. She had risked her life in that struggle, but lost everything—blown up the HYDRA base, lost her connection to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury. In tears, she had made her way to the secret base of the Avengers, pleading with them to allow her to join their resistance. And they had accepted.
Now, she was a member of the New Avengers, under the leadership of Luke Cage. Wolverine, one of her new associates, had approached her in the night, a thick cigar smoking in his mouth. He had told her of a threat, a tracking mission requiring stealth and skill. She was to locate and shadow a killer—a mutant terrorist with the flickering tongue and yellow eyes of a snake. He called himself the Black Adder and—fortunately for Drew, if rather distasteful—he was currently shedding his skin.
"Good luck, kiddo," Wolverine had said, gripping her hand in a firm shake. There was something in his eyes when he'd said that—a peculiar sort of twinkle. Jessica hadn't thought much of it at the time. It was only later—much, much later—that she realized what must have been going on behind the rugged little man's gruff smirk.
Drew hadn't expected to run into anyone else that night. Especially not two thirds of the way up the side of a sheer glass skyscraper. So, when she spotted a figure scaling the building below her, she gave a start. The man looked so sinister—a living shadow with pointed ears and a spaded tail, his golden eyes burning through the darkness like cinders. Jessica tensed, fully prepared for a confrontation. What she got was a broad smile.
"Hallo there!" the man waved, speaking with a very definate German accent. "You don't look like a snake. Have we met before?"
"I don't think so," Jessica replied, confused. "Who are you? And what are you doing up here?"
"I could ask you the same thing," the man grinned, crawling closer across the vertical surface. "They call me Nightcrawler. And now I'm certain we haven't met before. I would have remembered a Fraulein as striking as you."
Jessica couldn't believe it. Thirty-five-odd stories up and here was this strange mutant feeding her cheezy lines.
"Spider-Woman," she told him, by way of introduction. "I'm with the Avengers. And I'm really quite busy, so if you could just—"
"Ah, so you are tracking the Black Adder as well?" Nightcrawler observed, clearly pleased. "Here's a suggestion, then. Why don't we team up? Work together? Four eyes are better than two, especially when it comes to tracking the felons, ja?"
Jessica stared, her jaw dropping slightly in incredulity. "Are you flirting with me?"
Nightcrawler blinked, taken aback. "Was? Nein—I mean…" He chuckled rather bashfully, running a thick, three-fingered hand through his curly midnight hair. "I am sorry, Fraulein. It is just my nature. It is not often I meet a woman with an ability so similar to my own." He indicated the way she was sticking to the side of the building. "We seem to share an adhesive touch."
Jessica raised an eyebrow. This mutant was a strange one, that was for sure. But his manner and confidence indicated he truly was an experienced tracker, and if he was really with the X-Men…
"You say you're an X-Man," she said, still slightly suspicious. Nightcrawler's Cheshire Cat grin returned, and he nodded. "Jawohl."
"Then you know Wolverine."
Recognizing the test for what it was, Nightcrawler laughed. "Ach, Logan!" he said. "But of course. It was he who advised me of the Black Adder's movements tonight. He called me not twenty minutes ago. But he failed to mention I should be expecting a partner."
Jessica nodded slowly, a ball of anger forming in her gut. Wolverine had called him? After assigning this mission to her, he had called in this stranger?
"Yeah, he didn't tell me anything about you either," she frowned. "Tell you what, Nightcreeper—"
"Nightcrawler," he corrected.
"Nightcrawler," she acknowedged. "I'm going to leave this one to you, yeah? I've just remembered, I've got a pressing engagement back at the base."
Nightcrawler's eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed. "But… But you can't just…go…?"
"Watch me." Pushing off the wall, the Spider-Woman hovered in the air for a moment, then flew off, leaving behind a bewildered and rather hurt Nightcrawler.
When Jessica had left, she had been thinking only of confronting Wolverine. She'd taken the fact that he'd called Nightcrawler in as a criticism, indicating that he didn't trust her. She never considered the effect her brusque departure might have had on the indigo mutant she'd abandoned.
As for Nightcrawler, that brief meeting stayed with him even after the Black Adder was safely behind bars, a constant, niggling sense of guilt taking up residence in the back of his mind. He thought she'd left because of him, that he'd frightened her away by coming on too strong. His friends couldn't help noticing that he was a little quieter after that night, that he'd retreated more into himself than was usual for the normally pleasant, outgoing mutant.
Wolverine realized something was troubling Kurt the moment he walked into his favorite bar. He explained then what had really happened that night. He'd seen Jessica was having trouble finding acceptance with the team and had figured if anyone could help her open up a bit it would be Kurt. They were alike in so many ways, not only in their abilities and fighting skills, but in their extensive knowledge of foreign languages. Unfortunately, his little plot had backfired. It was only then that Nightcrawler admitted to his friend that, since that night, he hadn't been able to get Jessica out of his mind.
Nightcrawler and Spider-Woman didn't meet again for several months, and then it was only professionally. Until one day, quite by chance, Kurt happened to be leaving a DVD shop at the same moment Jessica was walking in.
They got to talking, then laughing. They discussed movies, fencing, the vivid green ribbons the cashier wore in his dreadlocks. Before they knew it, the sun had set. Reluctant to go home quite yet, they'd agreed to scout out a place for dinner. The place they ultimately found had a dance floor so they figured, why not share a few dances as well?
It was well past midnight before they finally parted. But this time, when Jessica left him, they parted with a kiss. And for the first time in a long time, Nightcrawler found his guilt was gone, replaced now by a new, familiar glow.
Jessica Drew possessed a certain power that, although it gave her a definate advantage in her dealings with men, made it very difficult for her to trust the motives of the men around her. Her body generated pheremones in excessive amounts, making her extremely attractive to men. If she concentrated, she could focus these pheremones in order to make men succeptable to her will. Because this ability made it difficult to know for sure if the men she met genuinely cared for her or if they were merely angling to get nearer to her, for a very long time Jessica was reluctant to define her rapidly deepening relationship with Nightcrawler as anything more than close friendship.
It wasn't just the pheremones that kept her distant, however. Jessica had been through so much in her life…now she had someone who cared enough to share her burdens she found herself pulling away. She couldn't trust these feelings…couldn't trust him. Kurt Wagner always seemed so considerate, so genuinely kind. It couldn't all be real. One day, she'd see the true him—the selfish schemer that lived in all human hearts. And then the fairy tale would end. They'd start fighting, as all couples did, and he'd start looking elsewhere. To women who were younger, less damaged. It was an inevatable fact of life as Jessica knew it. If there was one thing her experiences had taught her it was that if she let herself trust, if she let herself believe, it would only hurt that much more when it all came crashing to an end.
"That's what always happens with people like us," she told Kurt one evening as they walked together up Park Avenue, hand in hand. "Superhero relationships don't last. You've been there, you've experienced it just as I have. Amanda, Cerise, Christine, Storm…"
Nightcrawler stopped walking and turned his head away, but Jessica caught it, forcing him to face her with her palm against his fuzzy cheek.
"We formed this bond because we share the same lonlieness, the same silent pain," she pressed on, knowing she was rationalizing, but also aware it was the only way to save herself from the inevitable pain their parting would bring. "We've been clinging to each other like this because we see that struggle reflected in each other's eyes. But ultimately, we both know this can't last. We can't allow ourselves to be so selfish as to choose our own feelings, our own happiness, over the call of our duty. In a month, maybe two, our story will end like all the others. And if we ever do meet again, there would always be that distance between us…like two ships passing in a fog."
"It doesn't have to be that way," Kurt protested. "If you love me as much as you say you do—"
"Oh Kurt," she shook her head, hating how her eyes stung when she looked at him. "How could you doubt it?"
"If that's true, Jessica," he whispered, watching his fingers as he gently stroked her dark hair, her cheek, her lips… "How could you doubt us?"
Jessica stood firm for a moment, until she caught the look in his golden eyes. Her resolve shattered then and she stepped forward, into his arms, holding him as close as she could, so close she could feel his breath on her hair, count his heartbeats...
"How do you do it?" she asked, her voice trembling as she closed her eyes against a sudden swell of tears, burying her face in his shoulder. "I've never trusted anyone like this before. Never thought I could…"
"Shh," he soothed, tenderly stroking her hair, his long, spaded tail coming up to wrap itself gently around her waist. "It's all right, Jessica. Whatever happens, however uncertain."
Moving his hands to her shoulders, he pushed her back just far enough to look into her eyes.
"I love you," he smiled.
And Jessica believed him. And that moment, that flicker of belief, was all she needed to convince her. A light went on deep in her heart and she found herself smiling, stroking the soft fur on his cheek, rising to the tips of her toes to capture his lips with her own.
Their love would last because it was true. Regardless of pheremones and without the angle of selfish gain or manipulation. It was real.
It was love.
Soooo….What'd ya think?