He snarled, baring his teeth, and threw back a shot of whiskey, swirling it over his tongue for a moment before letting it slide down his throat. She was somewhere close. Somewhere in the crowd surrounding the cage, and her scent was tickling his sinuses and coating his tongue with promises of forgiveness and need. Sticky and sweet.
Full month he had stayed in this dingy bar, helping out Burt and pounding his aggressions away in the cage. Full month of gut-searing longing and fear. Full month of booze that did nothing to him. Full month of women trying to crawl their way in to his arms and to his room. And now this. The very thing he had hoped and feared. Marie was here.
He had smelt her from the moment he had stepped in to the cage. Not even the generous amount of blood of his adversaries managed to drown it. It cling to him like a second skin, calling him, stealing his attention and causing him to miss hits and receive quite nasty kicks. He could shrug them off relatively easily now, but it was nonetheless embarrassing to curl around his crotch whimpering every time.
He was curious. He was afraid. He was hopeful. And getting angrier at every passing minute when he wasn’t able to spot her from the twirling mass of people surrounding the cage.
When the flow of customers started to peter off so did the steady stream of willing men to step in to the cage with him. He was standing in the corner, nursing his whiskey and trying to decide the best way to flush Marie out from the diminishing crowd when the door of the cage squeaked open. He refused to turn around, recognizing the careful footsteps that approached him.
“What the fuck do you want?”
Fear made him choose the aggressive approach.
“I… I came looking for the best.”
He snorted, still keeping his back turned.
“Keep looking, darling. If you came to kick my ass because I forced you to live…”
He didn’t get to finish his sentence when her hand landed on his forearm, grasping it tightly and spinning him around, whiskey spilling to the floor of the cage and the glass shattering against the metal bars.
“I came looking for the best and that’s what I’m going to get, you arrogant…”
He cut her off in mid-sentence, grasping the front of her jacket and spinning them around so that she was trapped between his body and the steel bars of the cage, slamming his lips on hers and swallowing her startled gasp when his tongue slid from between her lips to greet hers.
Her response was something entirely different than he had expected. Instead of struggling free from his hold she wrapped her legs around his waist and let her fingers slide in to his already messed hair, pulling him even closer and sucking his tongue greedily. And there was no pain.
“Jean put the chip back… Xavier gave me a car… Pointed me to the right direction and all I had to do was to keep asking Wolverine at every bar I stopped by…”
“You’re not mad at me?”
“Never was… I thought you were…”
Their heated groping gained well-deserved attention when relatively sober and utterly drunk patrons of Burt’s World Of Booze started cheering and hollering.
“Do you want this?”
He emphasized his question by rocking his hips against hers once, drawing out a sharp gasp and moan from her slightly swollen lips.
“We’ll take this to somewhere more private… Show some respect, assholes! She’s not your usual barfly, she’s a fucking angel!”
He didn’t manage to silence the crowd around them. They could still hear them whistling and cheering when they were walking over the parking lot, towards the motel from where he had rented a room. Luckily Marie didn’t seem to mind. On the contrary, she was grinning from ear to ear, practically beaming from joy.
“Is that really what you think about me?”
“What? That angel part?”
“Yeah. I have seen a lot of women during these years. Haven’t seen anybody as pretty as you. More beautiful than you? Probably. But only an angel can be so pretty as you.”
He pushed the door open and steered her in. Sat heavily on the edge of the bed and leaned his elbows to his thighs. Stared at the ratty carpet for a moment and lifted his gaze to her eyes then, drawing a deep breath.
“What the hell are you doing in here, Marie? Pretty girls like you… You don’t belong in to this world.”
“I already told you. I came looking for the best. And I belong to where you are. I miss you.”
“You sure about that?”
“Don’t you… Don’t you miss me?”
Her gaze fell to the floor, but he had the time to see the bright red flush of embarrassment covering her cheeks. She was nervous. Earlier lust and anxiousness were gone, and she looked about ready to bolt out if he let even one wrong word stumble out of his mouth. He decided to play safely, and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against him to stop her from running.
“I do. I have missed you. I miss you now. I’ll miss you even more when you leave.”
“You belong to Xavier’s. Not out here. This is no life for you. At Xavier’s you’ll be safe and looked after…”
“I came here because I want to feel safe with you. I came to here because it’s you I want to look after me. I came to here because I need to know that you’re safe, and I want to look after you. Don’t make me leave… Please…”
“I don’t want you to go. But I want you to be sure. I need you to be sure. I don’t want to start anything that you’re going to regret later. I’m the best there is at what I do. That’s the truth. But this… What ever this is… This thing between us… It’s not something I do. I don’t want you to wake up one morning and realize that you’re getting less than you bargained for.”
There was God-honest fear in his eyes. He was afraid. The man that had taken a bullet meant for her, the same man that had risked his life to save hers was afraid of getting hurt. The look on his face, practically begging her to understand, understand and not to hurt him…
“No regrets. I came looking for you. You. Not some prince Charming, white picket fence and two point five kids. Just you. The best there is.”