Indomitable Will, Tender Heart
Manip by Tamar White

  Author: Taryn
  Email: Write Me!
  Rating: Strong R to NC17 (language - this chapter)
  Summary: "Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.  For it was not into my ear you  
  whispered, but into my heart.  It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."

  Category: AU (based on Movieverse, not Comicverse)
  Disclaimer: The recognizable characters found within are the property of Stan Lee, Marvel and/or Fox
  Studios. I'm just playing with them for awhile, but I promise I'll return them sweaty and satisfied (none the
  worse for wear) when I'm done.
  Archive: My website, the Dolphin Haven - Anyone else, please just ask me.
  Author's Notes:  I'm indebted to my terrific betas: Karen, Terri, Heather, CJ and Jewel. They were quick
  to spot my mistakes, suggest different words/phrases that better served the flow of the plot, and keep
  me honest in my characterizations.  If you like the story, thank them.  If you don't, I suppose they should
  take some of the blame for that as well.  ;-)  Hah!  Just kidding!  If the story sucks, the fault is entirely
  mine.  Oh, and for those who care, the title is from a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, because I
  think it aptly describes my vision of Logan & Marie.

The swirling snow and gusting wind practically thrust Marie into the library, the resulting backwash of air making short work of slamming the heavy wood and leaded-glass door behind her before she could grab it. of these days that thing is gonna shatter!    The slam reverberated through the quiet building, temporarily masking the sound of her breathing as she struggled to suck air into lungs still paralyzed from the cold.  I really should've listened to my common sense and stayed home today....these errands could've waited.  She sat her stack of books and computer disks down on a small table just inside the door and shrugged out of her coat while pulling off her gloves and unwinding the scarf from around her neck.  Oh, well....too late now.  And since when have I ever really listened to my common sense?

Tucking her gloves and scarf into her coat, she tossed it over her arm and picked up the books again, swiftly making her way through the main reading area and heading toward the Reference Room.   At least Beth will be glad to see me. This place is dead and she's probably bored out of her mind.   As she rounded the corner, she promptly made full-body contact with something rather solid, letting out a surprised "Ooomph!" and dropping her armload of books in the process.

As Marie reeled to steady herself from the impact, she realized that the 'something solid' was a man.  Correction:  a very rough-looking man with lots of facial hair and a nasty scowl on his face who looks like he wants to kill me.  Just great.

"Oh, God...I'm so sorry!"  She unconsciously reached out a hand toward him to offer him assistance, concern etched on her face.  "Are you okay, Mister?  I-I didn't see you...."

"Ya oughta watch where you're goin'."  He jerked away from her, his voice a low growl.  She was momentarily taken aback by the force of his anger, but quickly shrugged it off - Well, I did almost knock him over....maybe he's having the same kind of crappy day as me? - and offered him the most apologetic smile she could muster.

"I'm really sorry, sir!  You're right - I wasn't watching where I was going.  Actually, I, uh, didn't think anyone was
even here....on account of the, uh, storm."  Wow, it feels like his eyes are just.....drilling into me!  Why do I get the impression they don't miss much?   Sinking down to her haunches in an attempt to escape the intensity of that gaze, Marie began collecting the books that had scattered after their collision.  "You know, if you've been here awhile, you may not be aware that it's pretty bad outside --"  She risked a glance up at him, noticing that the scowl hadn't left his face.  Maybe it's permanent?  ", um, you might want to start making your way home before it gets any worse....?"

The stranger grunted and she braced herself for another reprimand.   Oh, hell....why didn't I just keep the weather report
to myself?  As pissed off as this guy looks, the storm wouldn't dare mess with him! 
  To her surprise, he bent down and picked up several of the books that had come to rest near his feet.  Straightening up again, he waited silently for her to finish and stand back up before thrusting them out to her in an impatient gesture.  Marie blinked, quickly attempting to hide her shock.  No sense letting him know your first - okay, first and second - impression of him wasn't very favorable.

", uh, didn't have to do that, but I really appreciate it."  She reached out to take the books from him, her bare fingers brushing against his as he gruffly handed them back.  There was a brief but pronounced spark that crackled between them, causing him to twitch violently, and Marie to almost drop the stack again.  What the -?  Stupid static electricity!   He stepped away from her then, with something akin to a snarl on his face.  Ahh, so he does have more than one facial expression, although this one's not exactly an improvement.  Honestly, I think I prefer the multi-purpose scowl.

"Well, um,....thanks, again."  She smiled ruefully and started to turn away.  A low grumble masquerading as a word made her pause and turn around to face him again.  "I'm sorry....what?"

"...'Bathroom?"  He had the audacity to look annoyed at having to repeat himself.

Look, buddy....if you want people to hear you, you might try speaking up.  Just a suggestion.   Marie cleared her throat, tamping down her own annoyance.  "Oh.  It's, uh, back out through the main room there, and to the left."  Just then, a thought popped into her head and she bit her lip to stifle a giggle.  See, Marie...his being extra-grouchy isn't your fault.  He just has to pee really bad and our little accident delayed his taking care of business!

He grunted again, giving her an odd look as he shrugged the leather jacket up around his shoulders, and walked away without a backward glance...or a thank you.  ...Unless that grunt meant 'thank you'?  Okay, maybe my first and  second impression of him was correct...  Marie sighed and shook her head as she headed toward the Reference Room again.   I really should've just stayed home today!

Her irritation and lingering remorse at having been the cause of the mishap in the first place - God, I'm such a klutz! - disappeared when she entered the Reference Room and a friendly, though slightly exasperated, face greeted her.

"Hey, Bethy!"

"Marie, what're you doin' here, girl?  There's a major blizzard out there!"

"I know....don't remind me."  Marie groaned as she put her stack of books and CD-Roms down on the Reference counter with a resounding *thud*.  "I've still gotta drive home in it yet."  She smiled warmly and gave her friend a quick squeeze, then draped her wet coat over a nearby chair.  "I'm here cuz I wanted to get some groceries before the storm hit.  But, since I obviously got caught in it anyway, I figured I'd go ahead and drop these off and visit you.  I'm guessing you've been bored out of your skull since, oh, around noon or so, right?"

Beth rolled her eyes.  "Noon?  Try since I got here at 10AM!  I told Greg that no one visits a library the week after Christmas - especially in the middle of a snowstorm - but you know Greg.  He insisted that even if we only had one customer all day, we had to be open and available.  It's our duty to the community, yadda yadda..."  Beth pulled a face.  "You noticed that my esteemed employer isn't here and available, doing his duty, right...?"

Marie grinned.  "I noticed.  So you're actually gonna keep this place open til 5:00 then?"  The clock on the wall behind the desk indicated it was currently 3:47.  "I mean, if no one's been here all day, it's doubtful that anyone's gonna show up during the last hour or so...."

"Well, there was one lady who came in after lunch...."  At Marie's raised eyebrows, Beth shrugged, nonplussed.  "Hey, I guess she felt that driving out in a blizzard was better than paying a 20¢ overdue fine - go figure!"  She pursed her lips.  "Oh, and there was another about an hour ago.....big guy, kinda scary-looking, and he was acting pissed off at the world, you know?  I worked up the nerve to ask him if he needed help finding something, but he just kinda....growled at me and walked away."

Huh…that sounds like the guy from the hallway.  At least now I know he was already grouchy before I ran into him!   "Really?  He doesn't sound like the 'library type'.  What was he doing?"

"I dunno what brought him in here..."  Beth grinned.  "...but I saw him pick up 'The Titans' by John Jakes.  Somebody left it laying on one of the tables in the Reading Room."  She winked at Marie conspiratorially.  "I didn't have the guts to tell him that it's the fifth book in a series of eight!"

Marie chuckled as the petite blonde woman began sorting through the books she'd brought in. "Thanks for letting me have those for a few days, Bethy.  Even with all the info available online, sometimes you still need a hardcopy source. I owe you one."   Her friend nodded.

"No problem, girl....but let's just keep it our little secret.  Greg would stroke-out if he knew I was letting Reference material leave the building."

"I know, and I really do appreciate it.  You're the best."

Beth snorted.  "Yeah, well....if I'm the best, then how come I'm still single and working in a library?"

Still chuckling to herself, Marie went through a doorway behind the desk, coming back out a few seconds later with a small wheeled cart half-filled with books.  "Hey, while I'm here, I'll just go file these for you, okay?"

Beth was already gathering the stack of Reference books and heading toward the shelves.  "Sure, that'd be great....thanks, Marie."

"No problem.  I'll be in the Reading Room if you need me."

Twenty minutes later, Marie had already worked her way through half of the returned books on the cart.  She'd felt at-home in libraries all of her life, having something akin to a love-affair with books.  They were so full of information and possibilities - comedy, adventure, romance - taking the mind on an amazing journey and all without leaving the comfort of your own home.  'Probably the only way a small-town girl like me is ever gonna see and experience that stuff anyway.

Idly humming to herself, she wheeled the cart around the corner, intending to short-cut between the couches in the reading area, and got her second surprise of the day....there was a familiar man sitting in one of the high-backed armchairs, head bent over a book, a ragged duffel bag on the floor at his feet.  Oops!  Hey, is that --?  At her sudden intrusion, he raised his head and fixed her with a glare.'s Mister Tall, Dark and Growly.  I'd recognize that scowl anywhere.

"Oh!  Uh, sorry to disturb you....I didn't realize you were in here."  Unconsciously, she braced herself, yet again, for a scathing response.   Jeez, my day just keeps getting better and better!  A noise emanated from deep in his chest   Whoa - what was that?   but he simply bent his head back down over his book and didn't reply.  Yeah, okay - whatever.  I'll just ignore you and finish up in here so I can go keep Beth company until closing time.

As she hurried to finish the filing, Marie couldn't help sneaking sideways glances at the gruff stranger.   Hmm..."The Titans" by John Jakes.  'Wonder if I should enlighten him?  Nah....I may not have any common sense to speak of, but I'm not crazy!   Still, there was something about the man that intrigued her although, if pressed, she couldn't have put a finger on what it was to save her life.  As he never bothered to look up from his book, she continued to amuse herself by critiquing his appearance.

The first thing she noticed was his clothing.  'Not exactly a contender for GQ's Best Dressed, but somehow I think that 'lumberjack' look works for him.  Wearing only jeans, boots, a flannel shirt over a t-shirt, and a worn leather jacket, it was a woefully inadequate ensemble for the current weather.  I sure hope his car has a good heater, cuz he's really going to need it dressed like that.

She clearly remembered the way he'd towered over her in the hallway, his impossibly long legs covered snugly in worn denim.  He's really tall, definitely over 6-feet, but I wouldn't necessarily call him a 'big' man.  Still, he's got some seriously broad shoulders and a muscular look about him, even under all those layers of clothing.  His hair was long and thick and very dark brown, with an unruly - almost wild - look about it.  He hadn't been on the receiving end of a haircut in awhile, if the slight curl where it grazed his shoulders was any indication.  Her gaze dropped to his large hands which practically dwarfed the book he was holding.  Hmm, and he doesn't like to wear jewelry either.   She shook her head ruefully.  You're pathetic, Marie. Just admit it - you were snooping for a wedding ring.  Okay, what if I was?  Anyway, I just can't see him being married....he doesn't look like someone who'd be a picnic to live with.  Still, he was obviously no stranger to hard work, and she gave him points for having clean nails.

She turned the corner, pulling the cart behind her as she searched for the right shelf.  Where was I?  Oh, right...his face.  Let's see, we've got high cheekbones, nice temples, a sharp, straight nose, piercing hazel eyes… She shivered at the memory of them burning into her.  Well, to be fair, the little crinkles at the corners kinda softens them up a bit.  Dark eyebrows, strong chin....but what is up with those sideburns?  I think I read somewhere that they're called 'muttonchops', and didn't Elvis have them back in the 70's?  Funny, they don't look out-of-place or even half-bad on this guy....they're actually kinda sexy, and they definitely go real well with the whole 'scowl and growl'  persona he's cultivated.

Reaching up, she righted a group of books that had fallen over, and risked another glance at the stranger.  Okay, moving right along....I can't really tell what kind of a mouth he has, because it's only been fixed in a thin line since I've seen him, - well, that and the fact that it's mostly covered with whiskers - but I think the lower lip is fuller than the upper one.  'Don't know about the teeth either, cuz he hasn't smiled, but I don't recall seeing any gaps, when he was growling at me in the hallway.  Marie bit back a giggle as thoughts of 'Deliverance' flashed through her mind.  Oh, man - I really need to start getting more sleep. Or a life.  Or both.

Her cart was nearly empty when Beth suddenly appeared from behind one of the tall book shelves.  She had an odd look on her face and Marie immediately stopped what she was doing, turning to her friend.

"What's wrong?"

Beth shook her head, grasping Marie's arm and pulling her further into the space between two shelves. "I didn't know he --"
she jerked her thumb, indicating the man in the chair "...was still here.  That's the guy I told you about earlier."

"Yeah, I kinda figured."  Marie shrugged.  "Is there a problem with him being here?"  'Cause, you know, other than being grouchy and sorta mean-looking, he's just sitting there reading his book and minding his own business. It seems to me that if he wanted to cause trouble, he would've done it by now.

"I hope not.  But, um, Marie?  Could you do me a HUGE favor and stay until closing?"  Beth risked a glance back at the man and shivered.  "There's just something about that guy....I don't know --"  She pursed her lips.  "He makes me nervous, and I really don't wanna be alone here with him....okay?  Please?"

Marie squeezed her friend's arm reassuringly.  "Sure thing.  I was going to stay til you closed anyway.  Besides, I still owe you one, remember?"

Beth nodded, relief plainly etched on her face.  "That's do.  And if you don't mind, I'm gonna go ahead and collect now."  With a wink, she turned to go.  "I've, uh, got a little more to do at the back desk....are you sure you'll be okay, you know, in here with --?"

Marie waved her on, a smirk on her face.  "Go on, I'll be just fine."  Trust me....I've already had one run-in with Mr. Monosyllabic over there, and somehow I get the distinct impression he's really all bark and no bite.

She emptied the cart a few minutes later and turned to wheel it back to the Returns area, sneaking one more glance at the man in the chair.  You know, if he didn't look so pissed-off all the time, he'd actually be kinda cute....who knows, there might even be a nice person in there, if you could get past the scowl.  I mean, he can't go around like that all the time....can he?

She sighed inwardly - Oh, well....I'll probably never see him again, so the Mystery of the Growly Guy will have
to remain a mystery 
- and went to go see if Beth needed any additional help before closing.


While the book was mildly interesting, he realized belatedly that it was part of a larger series, with several storylines taking place before it.  As he hadn't actually come in here to read in the first place, now he simply pretended to be engrossed in the book but contented himself, instead, with studying the dark-eyed young woman....carefully, taking great pains to disguise his interest and avoid letting her know he was watching her.  If nothing else, he grudgingly had to admit it was a fairly pleasant way to while away the time.

Hmmm....he guessed she was pushing twenty, if appearances alone were any indication.  Her body was supple and slender, but not skinny - he could tell from her lightly sculpted arms and thighs that she was stronger than she looked.  He remembered standing next to her in the hallway and knew that she was of average height.....around 5'6", at the most.  At well over six-feet himself, he probably stood almost a whole head taller than her.

She was dressed in a pair of jeans, a large daisy patch on the left knee, and a dark green sweater with a V-neck and long sleeves which were casually pushed up to her elbows.  Her adornments were basic; a pair of small hoops dangling from her earlobes and a wristwatch on her left wrist.  Simply put, she was beautiful but not in a drop-dead gorgeous, aware of herself kind of way.  Rather, it seemed that she was a bit on the shy side and probably didn't think of herself as beautiful, which only made her more intriguing to him.  He drank in the details of her oval face, with its flawless ivory skin.  She wore very little makeup that he could see.  Her nose was small and straight, and her mouth was a lush, red bow....delicate yet determined, with lips that were just made for kissing. The hell? Where did that come from?

He shifted in the chair, discreetly reaching down to adjust himself before continuing his assessment of the young woman who, thankfully, hadn't given him another look.  Now she was conversing animatedly with the blonde from the Reference Room - their heads leaning toward each other - and as he watched her covertly he was suddenly convinced that she had the most beautiful eyes he'd ever seen.  Large and expressive, a rich chocolate brown framed with thick lashes and bordered with equally dark eyebrows, like wings.  And her hair was amazing - dark brown with a hint of red, very thick and long.  Slightly messy from the effects of the wind - and probably a hat as well - it hung down to her waist, with two wispy ivory streaks bordering either side of her face.  Idly he wondered what had caused the streaks to appear, as they seemed to be natural?  Before he realized it, his thoughts had wandered down an all-too-familiar path, toying with the idea of what it would be like to gather up all that glorious hair and drape himself - and her - with it, his groin tightening again in response.   Giving himself another mental shake  - Forget it, bub....she's way too young and classy for the likes of you -  his features settled into their usual, edgy scowl and he forced his attention back to his book.


Beth was counting the money in the register when Marie came back into the room after returning the book cart.  "Hey, you wanna go make sure everything's locked up?"

"Sure."  She'd helped her friend out many times before, so she knew what needed to be done almost as well as the employees did.  As she took the large, jangly keyring and turned to leave again, Beth cleared her throat.  "Oh, and Marie?  Um, would you mind letting...that guy...know that we're closing and he's gonna have to leave?"

She stopped dead in her tracks, turning to face Beth with her hands on her hips.  "Me?!"  The blonde woman gave her a sheepish nod and a little shrug of her shoulders.  "Well, he doesn't seem to, you know, give you the willies like he does me - God only knows why - so I kinda figured maybe you'd be the best choice to go tell him he's gotta go now...."

Marie sighed, thrusting her lip out in an exaggerated pout for good measure.  "Yeah, okay....fine."  Chin up, can do this.  What's the worst that's gonna happen?  He'll probably just snarl at me again.  I've already lived through it once, I can handle a repeat performance...

She made her way through the building, checking doors and windows as she went, unconsciously putting off the "we're kicking you out" speech until it wasn't avoidable any longer.  With the clock reminding her that it was already 4:55, she finally turned and - squaring her shoulders - strode purposefully into the Reading Room....where she promptly let out the breath she hadn't even realized she'd been holding.

His book was still there, laying neatly closed on the table next to the chair where he'd been sitting, but the tall, dark
and growly stranger was gone.
Posted March 2002