Fandom: X-men Movieverse
Summary: Jean-POV; The tactical genius takes on Starbucks.
A/N: Part of the Phoenix: Lovesong-verse; this takes place while Jean is in medical school. Jean and Scott have broken up, she's living in New York City, and Scott is back in Westchester with the X-men.
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
One of the most important men in my life has, from time to time, been referred to as a tactical genius. I have witnessed him draw up a complex battle plan, complete with half a dozen contingencies, in the time it would take most people to order a pizza. I have seen him watch all of his contingencies dissolve, then shift without blinking (metaphorically, as well as from necessity) to a completely new approach.
I remind myself of this, to keep from laughing, as I watch Scott Summers' strategic gifts fail in the face of the menu at Starbucks.
"I just want a small coffee," he says, for the third time.
"Tall is small," chirps the spike-haired barista. Her name tag says 'MANDI."
"The smallest size is tall," Scott repeats, running a hand through his already-rumpled hair. "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard."
"I used to work at Burger King," Mandi volunteers, her smile unfailing, "and there, the smallest size was medium."
"Wow," says Scott. "You're right. That's actually stupider."
"Easy, fearless leader," I put a hand on his shoulder. "I can take this one." To Mandi, I say, "Two grande skim lattes. Make his decaf." Scott casts a suspicious look at me, and I say, "Milk. Strong bones. You'll like it." I slip my hand to his elbow -- he tries to act like he isn't looking at me – and nudge him toward the end of the counter, where the drinks are set to come out. He folds his arm and leans against the shelf of straws and napkins, watching intently.
He's been tense since we got here, hardly looking my way. It's tempting to pry into his mind, despite all the times I've promised I wouldn't, so instead, I try to slide my hand between his crossed arms.
Without looking my way, he mumbles, "I don't see why I can't just get a cup of coffee."
I furrow my eyebrows in a parody of his and say, "I'm just a simple caveman. Your modern ways confuse and frighten me."
I've always had the trick for teasing Scott out of a bad mood, and now he shows the ghost of a smile. "Do you ever wonder who makes fun of me now that you're not around?"
"Ororo," I answer, and start to count out on my fingers. "Remy. Sean. Your brother. Lorna. Hank."
"Hank!?" He looks so genuinely aggrieved at the notion that I have to laugh. Scott dips his head and jams hands into his pockets, for all the world like a surly teenager. Instinct takes over – because when I couldn't tease Scott out of a bad mood, I could always kiss him out of it – and I lean in to brush his lips.
The psychic blast of surpise is unavoidable, but it only lasts a second. Then he's moving to return the kiss and, when I start to pull away, he moves with me. One hand touches my waist, the other rises to the back of my neck. I'm tasting his tongue, and he leans closer trapping the heavy glasses between us, and it's all eager and messy and thoughts are whirling around us, embarrassment and nerves but mostly pure raw want, and for a second I don't know if it's his or it's mine or if it belongs to someone else entirely, and then my mouth is closed and I've sidestepped away from him.
"That's not what I meant," I say.
"I know." He's looking down, aware again of eyes, his own and the ones watching him, because he has never been the man who grabs me like that, without a thought for a room full of strangers. There's something beautiful and desperate about the whole situation, and it isn't what I meant at all.
"Scott. . ." I begin.
"Two grande lattes!" announces Mandi-the-barista.
I move to clutch my hand around the paper cup, although it's hot against my skin. I'm about to get Scott's, too, but he reaches in, lifts the cup and raises it straight to his mouth. Before I can say anything, he chugs from the coffee, then slams the cup down. His cheeks bulge out and he half-chokes, then swallows. "Hot!" he gasps. "You said it was milk!"
"Steamed." I move closer, "Look, are you . . ."
He shakes his head and turns aside. "I'm fine" -- and maybe he thinks that burning all the skin off his tongue is worth it if he no longer tastes like me. "Let's just forget this ever happened."
And, in short, we were afraid.