Cotton sheets heavy with the smell of sex, cigarettes and wine slipped off of Jean's skin as she stretched. She leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to her lover's temple. He smiled in his sleep. She slipped out of the bed to take a shower. She had to be at the team meeting in, she glanced at the clock. "Fuck." She was late. She sent a telepathic message to her husband that she was running late.
She felt his exasperation through the link as he commented //This is what happens when you start hanging out with artists.//
//Now, Scott, it could be worse. I could be hanging out with heavily drinking Canadians.//
//Once. I get a hangover once and you never let me forget it.//
//What are wives for?//
His mental laughter followed her into the shower. She leaned her forehead against the cool tile for a moment. "What are you doing to yourself, Jeannie?" she muttered.
Scott looked up from the paper. "Hey, sweetheart. Off to the salt mines again?" His voice was light, but she frowned at him.
"Live modeling is a perfectly reasonable way to make a living."
He held a hand up. "I didn't say anything about it. You want to work every day, feel free. Just remember we have other jobs too. And maybe, just maybe I was planning something for your birthday, but if you don't want to go to the theatre, I can give Storm and the Professor the tickets."
"I'll be home by four. Don't go on any missions without me."
"I'll have Kurt come get you."
She paused. "When did Kurt get here?"
"Last night. He's going to be here for a couple weeks. There's a fencing tournament at one of the colleges and he's taking some of the kids from Frost's down there. He wanted to spend some time with Logan first."
"Give him my love and tell him not to disappear without talking to me this time or I'll nail his tail to the floor."
Scott laughed at that. "Sure." He stood up and kissed her softly. "Happy Birthday, Jean."
"M. Summers?" the unknown voice on the other end of the line asked. He sounded young and uncertain.
"Dis is Remy. Y' wife been workin' f' m', oui? It's her birt'day t'day. What time y' need her home?"
"She promised by four."
There was silence on the other side for a moment accompanied by the scratch of a pen. "Bien. Remy'll send her home by t'ree. Merci. I borrow her t'morrow f' dinner, M.? F' a birt'day present?"
Scott smiled at the tone. He let the kid off the hook. "Sure."
"Bye." He set down the receiver of the phone. Storm raised a brow at him from where she'd set up camp in his office. "Jeannie has another conquest."
Ororo smiled and tilted her head to the side. "That was her artist?"
"He sounds so much younger than I thought he was."
"Or perhaps you are just much older than you sound."
He scowled at her. "Thanks, Ro. It's bad enough she has Logan dangling on the line. Now she's got some little artist mooning over her."
"Scott, they're friends."
"I know. I know." He snorted. "The sort of friends that sometimes end up in bed together. Completely innocently, of course."
Storm laughed at him. "Your jealousy is most amusing, Scott. I will remind you that you knew what you were getting into when you married her."
"Why do you think we had you officiate? No church would take us."
Remy ran a gentle finger down the side of Jean's cheek. She was married to the head of the X-men. It wasn't like Remy hadn't seen her ring. He hadn't made the first move, but there was no way that he was going to say no to her. She was a beautiful woman and he appreciated women in every form.
Her skin was smooth, but he could see the fine lines which were the result of smiling on the sides of her eyes. It was one of the things that he loved about her face. There was still a warm blush in her cheeks from their activities. She didn't wake at his touch, which he took as a sign of trust. He opened the canvas he only worked on while she was sleeping. It would be part of his private collection.
He immersed himself in the flow of the work and the real world faded away, replaced by paint, detail, and thinner. He smiled absently at Jean as she placed a cup of coffee by his side and kissed his temple. She left without saying goodbye. Or maybe she did say goodbye and he missed it. When he surfaced, the bed was cold and so was the coffee. His alarm was chirping at him because it was two hours past three.
He shook his head and shut it off.
Storm laughed at Jean's smirk. "Go on then, tell me all about your latest toy."
"It's not like that. He's an artist. He actually has a showing in two months and he's working like a fiend to get it done." Jean's eyes narrowed. "Did Scott tell you he was mooning over me?"
"He did. And he thought it was sweet of him to call and ask to steal you away for a birthday dinner."
Jean startled. "He called Scott?"
"Yes, to ask if you had birthday plans so that he could send you home early." Storm lounged back on her daybed. Jean swatted her with a pillow. "I believe he's planning to take you to dinner tonight."
"Hot dogs and a bottle of red wine maybe." Jean's smile was soft. She was in what Storm always thought of as "first blush" phase. There was no doubt that she was sleeping with her new toy. Scott was used to the idea. He just had a rule that Hank had to provide regular tests to make sure they both stayed healthy. Now, if Scott were ever to take to wandering, Storm would happily accommodate. "He's just a broke artist."
Storm hummed. "I believe that he will find something he considers appropriate for your birthday. Perhaps champagne or perhaps, like many artists, he works as a waiter."
Jean stuck her tongue out. "Keep it up and I won't introduce you. I mean, seeing us together would probably break him for about half-an-hour, but after that he'd be thrilled."
"How so?" Storm's eyes narrowed.
"Contrast. The contrast between our skin-tones and the fact that you're gorgeous."
"You want me to meet him. Take him off your hands? Let him down slowly? If you're going to break up with him, at least let him finish paying off your birthday dinner."
"I am not letting go of him just yet," Jean hedged. "But I still think you should meet him." She winced. "Before Scott decides he needs to break us up."
"Scott decides?" Storm's brows rose. "Scott?"
Jean had the decency to blush.
Remy blinked at the two women at his door. "Bonjour, Jeannie. An'?" he fished for an introduction.
"Ororo Monroe." The woman offered her hand and he kissed it automatically.
"A pleasure." He glanced around his studio. "Let m' just clean off a chair or two." He stood back and gestured them into the space. Then hurried to the table to clear off two chairs of stacks of paper and reference materials. One of the stacks of photos spread across the ground and he scowled at them. "Now why y' got t' be like that?" he asked them.
Ororo laughed musically and his heart skipped a beat. Oh, they were lovely women both of them. And there was nothing he liked better than hosting beautiful women in his bed, um, space. The two settled down at the table and he went to turn on the coffee pot. His tante had thumped manners into his head.
"Did Jeannie convince y' t' come model for me?" he asked. "Or were y' interested in seein' some of the work f' the opening?"
"I'm always intrigued by art, but Jean thought you might be interested in the two of us together."
His mind went blank for just a moment. Then he smiled. "Oui. That'd be perfect." He settled down with them to discuss the possibilities. He didn't bring up his bed, not so early in the game, but surely Jean wouldn't object. He was her bit on the side after all.
As they chatted and got to know each other, his fingers started to twitch for his pencil. He reached for his sketchpad and pencil without missing a beat in the conversation. He slowly drifted away from the topics as his pencil started to move more quickly. Once he had a few sketches, he realized that the two women were whispering to each other over the coffee and that was exactly what he needed to capture.
"Stay like that," he ordered. "Looking at each other like that." He scrambled for pastels. He could get a quick impression in pastel and then change over to paints. "Oh, cheries, there's so much t' do."
He barely remembered the next part of the conversation, but he remembered the look of red pastel on Ororo's arms and the taste of coffee in Jean's mouth throughout the night as he worked. There was no time before the opening to linger on those thoughts, but he was sure he'd see them both again.
Scott pinched the bridge of his nose. "It's time for an intervention," he informed Logan. "Jean's artist. He's sleeping with Ro now too."
"Jealous?" Logan raised his brows.
"No, just want to make sure he's actually consenting."
That startled the Canadian. "That actually been a problem before?"
Scott shifted uncomfortably. "There have been a couple of questionable moments in the past. But no, I just think he's young. And there's the possibility that he's using something more than coffee."
Logan snorted. "Fine. Let's go meet the kid. And then you can pay fer lunch. Jeannie there today?"
"No, she's with the professor for that speech." Scott waved a hand.
Logan's nose twitched. He could smell Jean and Storm all over the studio. The kid in front of them was probably all of twenty-four, if that. He stood very still, with red eyes wide. He was like an animal confronted with a predator. "Can I help y'?" He kept his eyes on Logan, though occasionally dared a glance at Scott.
"Scott Summers." Scott offered his hand.
"Jeannie's Scott? A pleasure." The artist shook hands with a pleasant smile, shoulders relaxing slightly. "An' you?"
The young man's eyes narrowed. "Logan, nice to meet y'. An' how can ole Remy help y'?"
"First, I already know and I'm not here to kick your ass," Scott informed him bluntly. "So relax. I'm just here to make sure everything's safe, sane, and consensual."
Remy blinked. He stepped back and let them in, closing the door firmly behind them. It was a whirlwind of canvases, paint, and supplies. There was a bed, dining set, coffeemaker and tiny fridge. Canvases were stacked against the walls and there was a bulletin board filled with tacked on pictures, papers, and floorplans. Logan wandered toward the bulletin board. "Coffee?"
The boy's voice was calm, but there was still an underlying tension to him.
"Only if you're making it for yourself," Scott replied. The artist didn't seem to know where to go after that.
"Um, y' want t' see m' oils?" he offered, brows raised in an almost flirt.
Scott laughed. "Cute. But not really my type."
"Damn. That was m' best line f' this situation. I ain't sure what y' want m' t' say, M. Summers?"
Logan studied the floorplans. "This ain't the gallery yer showin' at," he stated.
"This looks more like the Met."
"Ain't no shame in aimin' high," Remy shot back. Logan snickered. There was a knock on the door. Remy glared at it. He went to answer it. "Oui? Merde. I done tole y', cher, I ain't interested."
"Ya should be. It's a good deal."
Logan's head snapped around. That was fucking Sabretooth on the doormat.
Remy crossed his arms. "Last I checked y' still owed m' f' nearly killin' m' brother and tryin' t' kill m' girlfriend at the time. Also, y' still owe m' f' Antigua, so non. Non. Non. Go." He pointed to the hall behind the man.
Creed sighed. "Seriously, kid, this ain't the place fer ya. At least talk to the man."
"Gimme his card an' go away." There was a rustle of paper and then Creed was gone. The door slammed. "Sorry, mes amies," Remy tried to dredge up a smile, but it was obvious that he was angry. He flipped the business card through his fingers, in what looked like an absent twitch. "Screw the coffee. Y'all want a beer?"
Logan rolled the beer bottle between his hands. "So, what's Creed want with ya?"
LeBeau nearly growled. "That sorry excuse f' a..." he censored himself. "Dat over-grown tomcat t'inks he can convince m' t' drop everythin' and go work f' some ole docteur that t'inks he knew m' mama once. Recon it's a slick con, but I don't know why me."
Scott was wandering through the stacks of paintings, stopping occasionally to flip through them. He was working his way towards one with a cover on it and LeBeau's eyes were tracking him like an anxious mouse. "A con? Ya work on that side of the world often?"
"M. Wolverine," the artist said, frowning, "y' understand that ole Remy worked wit' Creed once, non? Even if dat job did blow up spectacularly in m' face? And that M. Chatton? He don't t'ink twice about tellin' m' stories 'bout his ex?"
"Mystique?" Scott queried.
"Excellent model. An' her wife be better. But what that got t' do wit' M. Chatton an' Wolverine?"
"I ain't his ex."
"Y' should talk t' him 'bout dat then cuz he's really convincin'."