Burn It Down
The first time it happened, it was an accident.
Marie had been to this shitty fight bar a few times now. She always came alone. Pete and Kitty wouldn't have approved. Jubilee would have, enthusiastically. She was always up for trouble… but it wasn't any of those things that had Marie hesitantly picking her way between the rowdy patrons all by herself.
It wasn't even Logan's lingering presence in her head that underscored her desire to immerse herself in this rough environment. It was more the memory of how these sorts of places made him feel. A finger in the dam. A way to fill that yawning chasm of emptiness. A sad stop-gap measure to not be alone in a world where they were both very much on the outside looking in.
If she was honest with herself, it would have been easier to have Jubilee here at her side. She was always up for a good time… plus she was safety in numbers, feminine solidarity and a mouth that may as well be a weapon of mass destruction in a fun-sized package— handy when one didn't want to be alone while they still also wanted to keep the world at arm's length.
Marie came by herself because she didn't want any of the others to know. To see her vulnerabilities revealed so starkly. That piece of Logan still knocking around in her head told her he came to these kinds of places for contact with people in a very controlled way. A fight. A fuck. A drink at a bar next to a dozen other poor souls all wanting the same thing — something to dull the pain of living inside their own skins.
Halle-fuckin'-lujah. And could she get an Amen?
Logan's personal demons were darker than her own… and being here worked for him, at least a little. She liked that it made the lingering glimmers of him in her head louder, too. Stronger. More vibrant. In turn, they fed the fire of her own reckless defiance. She'd always been headstrong, even as a child. A born hellraiser, she'd heard her daddy say once when he thought she was out of earshot.
That he'd given it a name was almost worse in some ways. Prophetic.
It was a tall order; something to aspire to, live up to, and run from — in turns. Embracing it felt shockingly good; both terrifying and orgasmic.
She was twenty-three and utterly alone. There was more death and pain in her past than love. That just wasn't right. But maybe she could make a place for herself here in this strange tribe of throwaway people.
Her first attempt failed utterly. She fit in on the inside— but her outside was woefully wrong. There were only two kinds of women here; tawdry cage bunnies and the crusty firebrands who'd been some biker's Old Lady long enough that they'd earned a certain untouchable status, like a lifer in some rank prison. Respect and deference born of what they'd endured on their backs, or their knees, or whatever else they'd given up to make their place here.
The cage bunnies were different; all skin and sex and desperation that no amount of makeup or imitation high-end perfume could cover. It amused Marie in a macabre sort of way. What did it matter if they smelled like Givenchy or Chanel when they were fucking random men in back rooms and alleys?
That she was an anomaly in this world was painfully apparent. Jeans and boots and a leather jacket was fine for the men, but on a young woman? It just didn't compute. She wasn't old enough to have earned anything other than scorn or prurient leers. She wasn't showing any skin and her goal wasn't to attract male attention with her body or her actions. Marie was green as fresh grass and it showed.
Her first time, she'd lasted barely twenty minutes. She hadn't even finished her beer before some fuckwit's filthy suggestions and menacing encroachment of her personal space had her fleeing hurriedly into the night like a scared rabbit.
The second time was just as uncomfortable, but she lasted more than an hour. A shot and a beer. She finished them both. Slowly. Watching the crowd this time. Making mental notes, even as she squirmed under the scrutiny of men who lusted after lush and ripe and pure, despite the deadly package it was wrapped in.
The next time was easier. Higher heels. Tighter clothes. Black smokey eyes, like warpaint. A warning. No longer fresh faced and advertising her innocence. She wanted to look hard. Tobe hard. Untouchable. She wanted the ache inside not to matter. It was easier in this place than at the school, surrounded by shiny happy people who lived and breathed hope and radiated goodness.
Her hope had died the night Erik raped her mind in the torch. Now she had steel and grit and more acerbic skepticism than was healthy for someone her age. Or maybe that should be 'someone of her years'. She supposed it really depended on how one was counting. Decades and centuries stacked up in her head like snowdrifts. Thousands of jagged splinters of memories that were not her own.
Sometimes she wondered if it was possible to smother from the inside.
In her more contemplative moments, she wondered if it would be better to be on the other end of that spectrum. Less is more? But she knew how it felt to remember only bits and pieces of a forgotten life; a handful of puzzle pieces stirring old ghosts and hinting at a picture long gone. That barren wasteland was a special kind of hell. Unsettling. Like a sharp stone in your shoe. No wonder Logan drifted. Being still hurt too much.
She didn't like that stillness either, and when it got too unbearable, Marie went looking for anonymity in a way Charles never imagined.
Fight clubs and dive bars were becoming her new 'normal'. There was an unvarnished honesty there that she liked. Bliss, for a girl who knew all too well that the exterior rarely matched the jumble of thoughts within. Truth in advertising, she supposed. Sex and violence and testosterone. Alcohol and bloodlust and hard men who said what they thought, good or bad, and fuck the chips no matter which way they fell.
All of it appealed to her, despite her moments of shyness and hesitation. A breath indrawn too quickly to be anything but shock. Shivers of indignation, and yes, desire. Watching the fights always made her wet and twitchy, probably because in her mind's eye, it was the Wolverine she saw in the cage.
That night was burned into her brain, even now, more than half a decade later. She envied and admired his ability to sink so effortlessly into that wilder side of himself. To be what he was without apology. To revel in it. Someday, she hoped to be able to do the same.
Shouts and music beat against her eardrums. Her drink was sharp on her tongue. Smokey after. And warm. Burning down and down… Hunger around her, everywhere. For violence. For the release of a quick, dirty fuck. For the blissful numbness of taking a brutal punch. Or giving one. The tempo of the night was like a heartbeat, pounding under her skin and between her legs.
Hunger and want and satiation. The build up. That delicious, shuddering glory. The gasping slide downward in the aftermath, sweaty and breathless. Marie drank it in greedily. It was more addictive than the Jameson in her glass and it had a better kick, too. For Marie, it was like standing at the edge of a bonfire. Close enough to feel the heat — without the danger that she'd burn the world down in an unguarded moment.
It was enough.
Tonight leather pants and creamy cleavage laced into a rockabilly corset had joined the heavy black liner. Another step closer to the Rogue she wanted so desperately to become. In some ways the change made her less notable. She blended into the crowd a little better, but it drew more of a different sort of unwelcome attention.
She'd grown better at deflecting the rude comments and ignoring the dirty, hopeful leers. This time, however, the intrusively brazen finger tracing the seam of lace and breast was one blazing leap too far. Even though she hated to be touched, it was less the shock of physical contact and more what her skin had pulled from him in the sliver of time before she'd scrambled away, gasping. It wasn't the content of the jumble of foreign male thoughts — carnal and raw and so explicitly graphic it was like a physical blow — as much as it was her reaction to them that sent her shoving past her woozy companion and his looming friends and into the heaving crowd.
She'd clocked the exits when she came in. Another of his lessons.
Never sit with your back to the door, kid, unless you know you can take all comers, n'always know where your exits are, just in case. Shit happens, even when all you're lookin' for is a fuckin' drink.
But she couldn't think about Logan right now. Not with what was burning in her blood, bright and loud and hot and so damned overwhelming that it was hard to even drag in a calming breath.
After the first few wild steps, even her flight to the unmarked door at the back of the bar was somewhat controlled. Another of his lessons. Only run as a last resort, darlin'. Draws too much attention, otherwise. By the time she'd slipped into the maze of storage buildings and alleyways out back, her retreat was utterly silent, save for the dull roaring in her ears.
He was there in her head too. Softly, softly.
Her blood hadn't even stopped pounding yet and she was already thinking of what she'd wear the next time she went back. Even as her mind was screaming coward, coward, coward, there was something else there too. Something darker and hungrier. Maybe those new suede pants that had sent Logan's eyebrows to his hairline and the fuck-me boots she'd worn once to his combat class because she'd lost a bet with Jubes...
He'd taken one look at her, muscle jumping in his clenched jaw, and he'd kicked her out of class with a growl and muttered curse. If you can fight in those, ya won't need my class no more, but right now you're gonna break your fuckin' neck, so get the hell out until you've lost the boots. His eyes had followed her as she'd left, though, and that had felt like a victory despite the fact he'd ordered her away like an errant child.
Jubes had pointed out to her afterwards that the vein throbbing in his forehead and the sweat gathering at the base of his spine hadn't made an appearance until after he'd gotten a good, long look at her in the boots. Marie wasn't so sure. There was something there, but knowing it and acknowledging it were two entirely different things.
The lingering smile that memory evoked hadn't even faded from her face when a very specific sound in the alley brought her up short. She approached the next turn on silent feet. Her steps halted as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. The sounds of sweaty urgent sex thrummed against her ears.
In the shadows, a woman was bent over a stack of wooden pallets and a man was pumping into her from behind with heavy, concussive thrusts that lifted her heels from the ground each time he slammed into her.
Marie watched, mesmerized for several long moments, hardly able to process the scene before her. The raw carnality was intensely shocking. While she couldn't actually see everything from her vantage point behind a stack of old crates, there was zero ambiguity about the primal nature of the coupling she'd stumbled upon. It was pure sex. Raw and vital and shamelessly obscene, from the arch of the woman's back, to the power in the man's rutting hips, to the line of the woman's neck when that big fist wrapped in her hair and pulled.
She should go. Now. Nownownow. Run away and pretend she'd never seen this brutal moment of animal lust, and yet she stood as still as the shadows shrouding her, unable to look away. Utterly transfixed.
The woman's fingers scrabbled on the wood for purchase and she was breathlessly chanting fuckmefuckmefuckme as the man's rhythm increased and then became erratic. The woman's voice broke on a rising wail, smothered against his palm. The man's grunts of exertions became a snarl and his big body began to shudder into the soft curves under him.
Like a tape caught up, frozen, time that had seemed impossibly slow suddenly spooled forward and Marie became aware of two things simultaneously. One, that the rough growl ripping out of the man's chest was startlingly familiar, and two, she actually recognized the ass rising and falling against the woman's spent body. She knew that jacket peeking from under them, too. And the wild points in his hair when her gaze was finally able to leave the sweat shining at the small of his back as the growl faded away into the darkness and he collapsed heavily against the small, soft body, panting roughly.
Marie didn't even need the woman's round, satiated tones purring, "Wolverine…" with exaggerated languor to identify the male body, still rippling with aftershocks. Something in her had recognized him straight off, despite the shadows and the fact that her eyes hadn't roamed much higher than his lean hips and powerful back. Some part of her and known it was him and she'd watched anyway.
That felt bad. Worse even than the night he'd stabbed her and she'd taken him into her. Another intrusion. Like the ride she'd demanded the first day they'd met. Or that night in the torch soon after. Guilt flooded her, hot and thick, a lump of slag that sat heavy in a belly still rolling with unspent desire. Her face flamed as self-preservation warred with prurience.
She'd imagined this scene in her head so many times, only it was always her body, limp with orgasm, safe and sheltered under the solid feel of his big frame. In her dreams, she was that woman, but also somehow watching from afar, too. So strange, dreams. Touch never scared her there. Sometimes she was in Logan's head, too. Aware of everything he felt, as well.
Marie was torn between wanting to see more and wanting to escape before he caught her. Even her desperate desire wasn't enough to risk damaging the unspoken bond between them.
"Fuck," he rumbled into the spill of blonde silk still wrapped around his fist.
He might have enhanced senses, but he was like any other man in the throes of orgasm, at the mercy of his body and blind to everything but his own need in those final moments. Even the Wolverine couldn't defy nature. The world, and its painful realities, faded away until there was only bliss and numbness and the liquid rush; gouts of pleasure, spent without thought or remorse.
Marie was gone before his awareness returned, her chest burning and her footfalls heavy on the black pavement.
Up next: Smolder. Y'all know the Rogue is gonna have something to say about that, right? Marie talks. The Wolverine plays dirty.