Nights Like This

an X-Men movieverse story

by dirty diana

beta'd by sffan.

Jean wakes up and creeps out of her room in the middle of the night, every night. She steps lightly, but the floorboards in the mansion are old, and they creak. Ororo hears the noise.

She lies awake, and listens to Jean's footsteps in the hall. Sometimes the sound goes down the stairs. To the kitchen? To the television room, to drown the sounds in her own head with the babble of infomercials? Out the door, to take deep breaths of bitter autumn air? Storm doesn't know.

Many nights Jean doesn't go down the stairs. She simply paces, back and forth in the hallway. Sometimes she seems to be talking to herself, but Storm can't make out the words.

The first night that she dared to get out of bed, and open the door, she found Jean on the floor, head in her hands. Ororo didn't speak right away. She just sat, beside Jean's curled form but barely touching, and listened to the sound of her breathing.

"What's the matter?"

Jean looks up, green eyes dark with pain. She doesn't want to talk about it. Storm won't force her to. Most nights, Storm won't say anything at all.

At least Jean doesn't try to pretend that there's nothing wrong. That's what she does during the day, but Ororo can see right through her mask, clear like glass. She suspects that maybe everyone can. At night, in the hallway, Jean has no mask to hold on to. 

Ororo knows what that feels like.

Sometimes, on nights like this, she thinks about touching Jean. She doesn't do that a lot, because it will never happen, and Ororo doesn't like to think about things that will never happen. But sometimes her mind is too full to turn the thoughts away.

She thinks about flushed skin, and how hot it would be underneath her fingertips. She thinks about soft sweet lips, and firm breasts underneath her hands. The thoughts make her warm all over, and embarrassed with weakness.

"Why don't you talk to Scott?" Storm doesn't know why she said that. Perhaps to stop herself from thinking about things that will never happen.

Jean won't look at her. "I couldn't do that. He would want to help."

"Isn't that a good thing?"

Jean's voice is a whisper, pleading with Ororo to understand. "But he can't help. No one can."

Sometimes, when her mind is full, she thinks that she hates Scott. Then she wishes she wouldn't. Hate is a wasted emotion, most emotions are. But she hates him anyway. She hates that he sleeps while Jean sits, awake and empty, on the cold floor.

She hates that he gets to touch her. 

She thinks about that sometimes too, and the pinch of it keeps her cool. She thinks about Scott's hands, warm on Jean's skin. Jean's perfect mouth, half open, crying out in pleasure. The thoughts come fast and dizzy, and she can't always stop them.

So she sits, in the dark with Jean, and sinks into the floor. On nights like this, Storm wishes that she were stronger.