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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story, so I I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights:
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story is (c) Tilman Stieve ( You can download this and copy it for your entertainment, but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers on you. Please do not archive this on your website without informing me first.
WARNING: This story features descriptions of sexual acts between two consenting women, one of whom can change her shape into that of a man [M/F, F/F]. If you are too young to read them or if such descriptions bother you, I must ask you not to continue.
Introductory Note: This story (originally published in Tales of the Twilight Menshevik: The Collection for the November 1998 mailing of MZS-APA) is set in the fictional timeline of my series, Tales of the Twilight Menshevik. To be precise, it is an expansion on the entry in Valerie Cooper's diary for October 6, 1995 in A Year in the Life. I hope this story is written so it can be understood on its own, but to put the events of this night in context and to see how the story of Valerie and Raven continues, it is recommended to read A Year in the Life before or after this one.
You will notice the unusual format in two columns. This story is an attempt to tell a story from the points of view of both of its protagonists in parallel, so I encourage you to move from the left column to the right and vice versa as often as you feel comfortable.
My thanks go to Alec Wire for helping me with the local background, to Rivka Jacobs for her input, to Alyson Hurt for helping me with the format, and to the readers who encouraged me to write this story.

It was another hard workout, and we both are covered in sweat. As usual when Raven gives me her special hand-to-hand combat training, I feel battered and ache all over, but in a good way. I do not have the impression that I am making much progress. But then it is over three weeks since our last session, and I did not practice nearly enough alone. Well, at least I'm getting a better shot, but then it is easier to practice shooting by yourself.

It never fails to deflate the small measure of pride I feel for my improving abilities when I see how easy Mystique makes it look. When she wants to, she can look even elegant fighting; I'm not good enough for that yet, probably never will be. Which is why Raven puts so much emphasis on simple and dirty tricks in my training. But with her, it can be so different! I actually find it distracting how beautiful she looks when she's working out, her strong muscles moving beneath her leotard. That does not help me at all when I'm supposed to defend myself against her.

Raven says I'm not doing badly, all things considered, by which she probably means: Not bad for a civilian who will be preoccupied with looking after herself and won't do anything much for the others in a battle. That may well be so. For all my yearning to take an active hand in X-Factor, I'll always be the administrator, the woman who has to keep the bigwigs satisfied, who has to ensure that relations to other federal departments continue to run smoothly, who has to handle a large part of the team's outside relations. I may be part secret agent, but I'm simply not Emma Peel.

After the debriefing, we adjourn to the gym for our self-defense class. Valerie is getting better than she gives herself credit for, but she is reaching a plateau. I'm afraid she won't be able to go beyond that unless she makes time to concentrate on this, and I wonder if she'll ever find the time to do that this side of the year 2000. On the other hand, her aim with guns is very good and today we even tried out some fencing with the foil. She enjoys herself -- my kind of woman. There's probably nothing like physical violence to work off the frustration and pent-up aggression she accumulates as she deals with the various bureaucratic bodies, Congressional committees and Keepers of Red Tape. And, I guess, the headaches I sometimes supply.

I am sure she was trying to cop a feel in the third bout just now and thought I didn't notice. Well, why not? She's a young woman, she has healthy sexual appetites. That time in Washington State could not have been a fluke event. And she has said she would not mind if I propositioned her openly, maybe she meant that more seriously than I (or she?) thought. But then was a one-night stand. We enjoyed it, but neither of us wanted or expected something more to come out of it. If we do have sex with each other again, it could become more complicated. We have grown closer this past month, overcome quite a few difficulties. Val is on my mind an awful lot, and I'm actually beginning to feel closer to her. I surprised myself when I kissed her on the bullet scar she sustained when she almost killed herself to save my life. She makes me feel less lonely.

We leave the gym and enter the shower-room. I am no longer so shy as I was at our first private training session to be naked in her presence. Do I subconsciously want her to see me that way? Considering some of the dreams I've been having about her, maybe I am. Raven certainly has no hang-ups about letting me see her body, hasn't had them when we started these sessions, doesn't have them now. I pretend not to look, but I watch out of the corner of my eyes when she slowly lathers her breasts with sensuous deliberation. I catch myself thinking it would be nice if those were my hands on her smooth-skinned, resilient flesh. She grins at me, making me feel a bit embarrassed.

When we're finally dressed, we decide to go for a quick bite and some fun on M Street. It is perhaps the nicest season in Georgetown, the leaves on the trees are turning golden. Mystique teases me about my 'all work and no play' attitude, calling me the original party animal. I reluctantly have to admit there is something to it. It is strange -- when I was married, Edmond and I used to go out together a lot, at least when we still were at home at one and the same time. When I went out in high school and later in college I used to go out on the town with my friends all the time, at least until I started working on my dissertation.

We head for the showers. I can't help noticing the way she keeps looking at my body as we wash. I do believe she feels sexually attracted to me. I wonder if she is ready to acknowledge that herself? Might as well put it to the test, I decide, and I put on a bit of a show for her. Val really brings out the exhibitionist in me. No, I definitely would not mind another roll in the hay with the pretty Dr. Cooper. If she thinks she's straight, well, I could accomodate her. It would be a start. But the way she is watching me...

She's quite good at avoiding me catching her at it, but I know she's observing me closely. What she fails to notice (because she is distracted by our conversation) is that her movements are beginning to mirror my own. How her hands are lingering on her own erogenous zones a lot longer than usual. She suddenly blushes and turns away -- I must have given away my amusement. But praise be! She's looking back. There may be hope for you yet, Valerie.

When we go to our lockers, I needle her about the way she always seems to be engrossed in her work. And so, after putting on more comfortable clothes (and in my case my old black-haired Raven Darkhölme shape), we set off for a night on the town. She lets me choose where we go first, and so we go to Tapas y Tango.

Of course, being involved with so many hush-hush operations later was not exactly conducive to the quality of my social life. And now, with X-Factor, as with Freedom Force and the Captain America program before it, I don't have any close friends. The only person with whom I feel like discussing my private life (well, some aspects of it, at any rate) seems to be Raven. I remark on this, and she gets a very thoughtful expression. Finally she says: "Yes, and that really is puzzling. That you feel so comfortable with me in spite of everything I did, even after ... you know. Why is that?"

She is referring to the time when at the end of our mission to the Pacific Northwest she assumed the shape of the object of my affections (okay, my lusts) and had sex with me. I was livid when I found out, but in retrospect it is astonishing how soon afterwards I returned to our strange quasi-friendship, almost as if nothing had happened. Why is that? I try to make light of the matter: "Well, for one thing at times like now I don't have to worry about where you are and who you are."

Maybe that actually is the key -- I'm certain I know who she is, what kind of a person she is. In many respects, she is an awful lot like me. We arrive at the place Raven suggested, 'Tapas y Tango', a Latin American eatery and dancing establishment. We choose a table not to near the band because we want to continue our conversation.

"I used to do more of this," she says, "but it's not so much fun alone. And few of the people I work with is close enough that they'd want to go out with me for a drink or a movie more than twice a year." She smiles sadly, and then remembers what we are just doing. "Apart from you, of course. Funny, of all of X-Factor you're probably the one closest to me."

Yes, odd that. Although she considers them her friends collectively, Valerie has not grown close to any of them. She pals around with Madrox and Carosella, but though she tries, she can't totally hide that sometimes she cannot take them seriously (now who does that remind me of?). And with the others it does not seem to have progressed much beyond mutual respect. Apart from Multiple Boy and Strong Lad, I wonder how many of them even try to see her as the person she is and not primarily as the representative of the government she serves.

It must be chemistry -- we misread and underestimated each other earlier on, but Val and I somehow clicked. When I was head of D.A.R.P.A., my intuitive reading of her helped me a lot in my job. Later, when I put Freedom Force under her control, she understood me well, perhaps to well. In many ways we are kindred spirits. One thing we definitely have in common is that we don't make friends easily. Another is perhaps a determination to leave a mark, to change the world by any means necessary. We want to make it what we think is a better place, even though we sometimes were miles apart as to what that means.

I decide to ask her the question back: "And why, pray, do you stick around with me instead of maybe looking for some more congenial company?"

"Well, I don't know about you," she replies, "but knowing I have a tracking device implanted in my body does tend to cramp my style when I go out on my own."

Ouch! That was a necessary precaution Forge and I took when we forced Mystique to return to Federal service. Now my gut feeling is that we probably could do without it -- after all, if X-Factor really should find itself up a creek without the proverbial paddle, would it not actually make it more likely that she would betray the team to escape? (I also sometimes suspect that if she wanted to, she could find means to remove the tracker quickly enough). Unfortunately, at the moment I'm not entirely sure I can trust my instincts where she is concerned.

Our light dinners soon are served and we settle down. Raven seems preoccupied, but she does continue between bites: "I guess part of it is that much as we would have liked to deny it, we are at heart like and like. Twisted mirror-images of each others in a number of ways, at least in the early days of our 'association'." She looks at me in a mixture of surprise and joy when I tell her that I have just been thinking the same thing.

She asks me why I spend so much time with her. I try to win time by mentioning Forge's implanted tracker, which makes her blush. Interesting. Normally she does not react like that when challenged about things done in her responsibility. But I wish I knew why I keep feeling drawn to you, Val.

Three weeks I talked to Rogue about Val and me. I said that in her I see myself as I might have been. But that is not all. The more I think about the time in that little town in the forests of Washington, the more I am puzzled by my motives for seducing Valerie as Sheriff Truman. It was not to get my own back at her. Had I succeeded in keeping it secret, it would not have been much of a revenge: All she would have remembered would have been a night of passionate sex that she found very pleasurable, as far as I can tell.

To really get under Val's skin it would have been indispensable to let her know with whom had been exchanging bodily fluids, yet I did not want her to. When she found out I only felt bad about it. On the other hand, I had not done it in a that avoided being found out. The 'secret' could only hold until the next time she spoke or wrote to Truman or her brother. Did I just want to find out what sex with Val is like? Surely I can't have been subconsciously jealous of the handsome sheriff and what I thought he might have become to Valerie if he had had slept with her?

She continues, underlining points with an occasional stab or flourish of her fork: "We often are on different wavelengths, but we easily understand each other, most of the time. But maybe there is more to it than that. When I look back at the past two months..." She falters and nervously picks up her glass of wine to take a sip. "Let's say I really enjoy being with you, but I don't want to analyze everything to death."

I really have trouble putting my thoughts and feelings into words under Valerie's eyes. What do I feel for her? An affinity? Friendship? Maybe not exactly love, but something a little more than friendship? For a moment I'm at loss for words. I can see she senses my discomfort. Thankfully she refrains from pressing the subject and we go on to more enjoyable matters.

That actually comes as a relief to me -- maybe she has the same kind of difficulty finding a handle to her feelings about me as I have with my feelings for her. We go on to safer subjects and discover that we both are movie buffs. And so we start talking, about the films she saw as a child in the 1930s and later as a teenager in the 1940s. She is a bit amused when I tell her of my early influences, how I saw 'Star Wars' 42 times before I left high school. But her smile is not condescending. She actually enjoyed it too when she saw it, even if she did not go back quite as often as me. I'm glad Aunt Emma got me interested in European cinema, at least I don't come over as a complete idiot when Raven talks about which movies she obsessed when she was little.

After our meal, we sit down at the bar for cocktails and to watch the other patrons dance the lambada and the tango. Raven asks me if I want to join them, and I regretfully have to tell her that I can't do either. But Raven won't take no for an answer: "Never mind, I'll teach you. Stay here!" And off she runs.

I stay behind and play with my half-emptied glass. No doubt she's going to the restrooms or some other convenient place to transform herself into a man. I idly wonder if she has something else in mind too, but most of all I wonder what she'll look like.

When she returns, she is in a guise most appropriate for what we have in mind. I guess. She looks as if she came straight out of a Zorro movie, even has a thin little mustache.

"May I have this dance, querida?" 'he' asks, bowing down with the elegance of an experienced dancer (oh damn, I'll make such a fool of myself!) I gulp down the rest of my drink, and thus fortified and against my better judgment, I take Raven's hand and follow her onto the floor.

We find out that we both enjoy watching old and new films. That is definitely something we could do together in the future. It is a relief to talk to someone to whom I don't have to explain who Brigitte Helm and Louise Brooks were. Somehow I am not surprised that she tells me that when she was young she was very much into Star Wars. She does not contradict me when I tell her I am sure that Princess Leia must have been one of her prime role models. She only smiles, supporting her head with one hand and gazing into space dreamily. I suddenly feel an urge to stroke her hair, but I manage to restrain myself.

Later, after desserts, we move over to bar and watch the young ones dance. When I ask Valerie for a dance, she says: "I'm afraid I'm not a good dancer. So unless the band is game for the hokey-pokey..." She gives me a self-deprecating smile and when I say I can't believe that that is the only dance she can do, she elaborates: "My parents say that I really was into the hokey-pokey at birthday parties when I went to kindergarten. I'm afraid in later years I did not really get into dancing. I mean, I can manage a waltz, but not a tango, certainly not to these standards."

So of course I have to offer her to teach her. I rush of to the toilets to assume a male shape, which will be more unobtrusive on the dance floor and...

It is harder than I thought to choose a shape. I finally settle on a slightly Latin looking dark-haired type roughly of Valerie's age. Vague echoes of Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro. Val raises her eyebrows when I return, but she also smiles.

She accepts my invitation to dance with slight unease, but she accepts. She slips off her barstool and we make our way into the throng as the band begins to play another tango. We get into our starting positions, and away we go.

I am not the most talented of students. The complicated ways in which the more experienced women on the floor twiddle their legs between steps are beyond me. I basically hold on for dear life and try to avoid trampling on Raven's feet or being trodden on myself. I am so relieved that we manage to finish without major bruises and lacerations that I consent to second one. This time we are more ambitious, she even does a dip. I'm beginning to enjoy this.

We dance closer now, sometimes literally cheek to cheek (the wiry hairs of the mustache are an amusing novelty). She enjoys the way we cling together -- partly because it is a tango, but also because it is something we want. The eagerness with which I squeeze my upper body against hers surprises me a little, but the experience is also a satisfying. I'm beginning to wonder if Raven had an 'ulterior motive' for choosing this of all places. She confirms it when she murmurs in my ear:

Valerie is definitely not in her element on the dance-floor, but her chin signals her determination. I dared her to join me in a dance, and she'll finish it, one way or the other. At least she avoids stepping on my feet, most of the time. Counting out the rhythm beneath our breath, we launch into our first tango.

We manage to come through it in one piece, and, her confidence raised by this unexpected fact, Valerie agrees to a second round.

She still has to concentrate hard on keeping the rhythm, but she is making progress. We dance more closely than the first time, and I feel her warm body close to mine. The twin pressure of her bosom against my chest, her cheek brushing against mine, even her sweaty palm in my hand, all these I experience with acutely heightened sensibility. Technically, this dance is forgettable, but it provides us with an intimate proximity which excites me.

"You know how they define the tango, don't you? The vertical expression of a horizontal desire?"

I have to smile. That old saw. "Yes, I knew that. And is it, in your case?"

"And what if it was?" she purrs, falling back into her real contralto. "Admit it, you've been tempted for weeks. I can tell. Body language is one of the fifteen languages in which I'm fluent."

She is right. She sees how I look at her when we take showers together. She remembers how I half-joked about not being open to another sexual overture provided it was done openly. And I have to think of some of the dreams I've been having, especially the one where I am making love to Edmond, and then he turns into Raven and I am glad it was really her. Yes, ever since I got over my mad at her, I have been lusting after her. And the feeling is mutual, obviously.

We dip a second time. It feels good, letting go, trusting her strong arms to hold me. I make up my mind. "Okay, it is something I would like to try again. I'm curious how it'll feel when I know it is actually you. And why not? We're both grownups and we're both free agents, romantically. I'd say let's do it."

All this talking and thinking is doing nothing for my concentration, and I totally misjudge the next spin, winding up in an embarrassing collision with her. Partly because of that, and partly because of my excited anticipation we make a hurried exit after the dance and head for home.

I pluck up the courage to make an indirect approach: "You know how they define the tango, don't you? The vertical expression of a horizontal desire?"

She is unfazed, in fact what she really wants is for me to ask her directly: "Is it, in your case?"

No, she won't refuse me, she's clearly signaled that. And with our bodies pressed closely together, with the smell of her soap and her natural odor in my nose, I no longer worry about the possible consequences. This is our night, we won't be hurting each other. It'll just be a friendly fuck between two consenting adults, no strings attached. We both want, and it won't change the way we feel about each other, or at any rate it won't make us feel bad. [If anything, it will make your feelings for her even more gooey, says a nasty little voice at the back of my head].

I take the plunge and tell her that she has wanted it for weeks. And she admits it and says she is game. We look deeply into each other's eyes, but the moment is saved from a surfeit of emotion by a comic interruption when Val gets overconfident as she pirouettes into a spin and slams into me. She manages to step on both my feet. She grins apologetically: "Why don't we split to my place before I embarrass myself even more?"

After that tango, we leave, walking hand in hand. I catch myself looking around me to see if there is anyone watching us. Force of habit. Not a sausage, apparently. Val keeps raising the pace as we go.

When we close the front door behind us, I try to curb my impatience. I ask her if she wants a cup of coffee or something. She says no. All the better. We both sit down on the sofa, and she adjusts her shape. The one she had until now was appropriate to teaching me the tango, but not for what is to follow. This is a big improvement. A bit surprisingly, she stays male. We pause at the foot of the stairs. 'He' takes me into her arms. I return the kiss with enthusiasm. My pulse races in anticipation and we go upstairs to the bedroom.

We arrive in a short while. She unlocks the door and holds it open for me. Slipping into the role of the host, she offers to prepare a cup of coffee for me. But I'm too impatient, and decline the offer.

Still, there is a short pause when we sit down in the living-room and I change into a shape that I hope will be more pleasing to her. The thin mustache is the first thing to go. She seems to like the result. Before going upstairs, she lets me embrace her. Her kiss is hard. When we break apart, her breath is ragged. She eagerly takes my hand and leads me to her bedroom.

It is the first time Raven has been here, and she looks around it with undisguised curiosity. She seems to like what she sees. It is strange: Here we are, about to become as intimate as you can get physically, and I feel funny because she is inspecting my bedroom, even looking at the titles of the books on the bedside table as I draw the curtains together. Enough of that. Turning back from the window, I begin to undress. She stops me: "No, let me. Please."

She takes my jacket and carefully drapes it over the back of the vanity chair. Then she methodically unbuckles the belt and opens my skirt, letting it slip to the ground around my feet. I step out of it and kick off my shoes. Her hands glide over my behind, then she slowly undoes the buttons of my shirt. When she is finished, she slips that down my arms as well. The cooler air on my slightly clammy back makes me shiver for a moment. The pantyhose comes off with a sigh as she slowly crouches down to slip it off my feet, one by one. At the same time, I take off my earrings and wristwatch, almost absent-mindedly.

It is very unlike her tidy, slightly impersonal office. That has a modern stylishness, but it is not unusual for a high-ranking official. This is different. White curtains with a stylized black floral pattern, tasteful wallpaper in muted pastel tones, an Art Déco lamp (probably a reproduction) on the bedside table. A tasteful ensemble. Wonder if she chose it herself or hired an interior decorator. The bed is fairly hard. Good, I hate soft mattresses. Val impatiently starts to take off her clothes. But she stops when I ask her to let me do it.

I take her stone-gray jacket and put it away. Her skirt comes off next. The curves of her firm, well-rounded buttocks call out for a quick fondling, and I don't resist. Val sighs contentedly, then I proceed to unbutton her cream-colored shirt. Beneath it, she is wearing a powder-blue brassiere that matches her panties, both more lacy affairs than the black slip and sports bra she wore during our training session.

It is strange that I feel excited about undressing Val. I've known her body a long time, lived in a facsimile of her skin for weeks, we even had sex before.

Raven stands up again, looking deep into my eyes (we are almost nose to nose, which looks a bit comical) as she reaches behind my back to seek out the clasp of my bra. We kiss again when she opens it.

Down comes the bra. Raven's eyebrows rise and she smacks her lips when she sees that the nipples are already a little stiff in anticipation. I let myself flop onto the bed and she enjoys the view. I ask her: "Aren't you going to get undressed yourself?" I guess I could take off her clothes myself, but as she's not in her real shape, I somehow don't feel like I need to. Not that I mind the athletic male standing at the foot of the bed and looking down on me appreciatively.

Raven undresses quickly and efficiently and then bows down to pull off my panties. I draw up my legs and let them fall apart. Raven's masculine semaphore begins to react, and she lies down beside me. She gently begins to explore my body with her hands and mouth. I am reminded of the first time we two had sex, she was a gentle and considerate lover then, very much the kind of man I had hoped to go between the sheets with.

But is that the real Raven, I wonder. It is part of her, that is clear from the way she would take Destiny's hand and lovingly press it to her own cheek and then slowly kiss it, as I saw her do it once during a long flight. But it is not the entirety of her being. There is also the wild, impatient, passionate and aggressive side to her, the part of her that enjoys the violence her self-chosen job entails -- both the formalized one in the gym, and the practically unrestrained violence on missions. I need that part of her as well, and I tell her so.

She protests half-heartedly, but begins to grip harder, shows less restraint in her nibbling on my sensitive parts. The added pressure of her powerful fingers leaves deep pink marks on the whitish skin of my breasts and elsewhere on my body. I respond in kind. We devote a lot less time to foreplay than we did then, but I'm all keyed up, so it doesn't matter. She tests how far she can go in roughly treating my breasts and is visibly pleased by how far their tips have risen into throbbing, spit-soaked erection. They hurt a bit, but it is a good hurt. We shift our position so that my head ends up in her crotch. She holds it tight as I deal with her rampant masculinity.

Soon she is ready for the main course. She is holding her breath, struggling to hold back. Then she exhales loudly and flops me back on my back. Again she looks down at me, with a smile that is approaching a smirk. She grabs my ankles and lifts them up above my shoulders -- and hers. With a little assistance from me, she inserts tab 'A' in slot 'B'. The intrusion is not gentle, I wheeze as she plunges into me in one slow, powerful thrust. But I can take her, my body adjusts to the situation. Her face is contorted into an intense grimace as she gradually increases her pace, moving in me like a well-oiled piston. I try to counter her thrusts, but in my current position that is rather difficult.

The difference, the thing that excites me is really something intangible, it is the fact that this time she knows who I am, that she wants me, and that she knows I know.

Her pantyhose comes off smoothly. When I undo the clasp of her brassiere, her hands come down on the back of my head and pull me close for a kiss. We step apart and she lowers her arms, allowing her wispy undergarment to fall to the floor. My eyes dwell on her apple-sized breasts. Very pretty. The smooth skin looks fresh and clean. The nipples are already half-erect, grown in size and cylindrical hardness. Yum!

Valerie sinks onto her back on the bed and smiles at me across her prettily jiggling bosom, urging me to get rid of my clothes myself. I do so under her watchful eyes. Not like a showman, just quickly and without frills. She seems to like my body. We'll play it safe and begin with the het stuff. She enjoys that, it'll be a base to build on. I don't think she's ever done it with a woman. There will be time for that later.

We've saved up her slip for the last. It joins the untidy pile of clothes on the floor, and the blond patch between her legs is laid open for me to see. She falls open like a book. I lie down beside her on the bed and begin to fondle and kiss her.

But Valerie has other ideas: "Raven, I've had you sensitive and gentle lover when we did it in August. I want more. The way I feel now, I want it rough, I want it tough, I want you to have your way with me."

"Isn't it a bit early for that?" I ask.

"It is a part of you, and I want all of you, silly 'man'. Let's do it!"

"Okay, you asked for it!"

It becomes evident that she too has a more aggressive side. But it is not a case of 'two people falling upon each other like wild animals', as in a cheap novel. It's a gradual build-up, where one tries out something, waits for the other's reaction, and then we proceed to the next level. I begin to pinch her nipples a little rougher, then to twist them hard, and finally nip them between my teeth. She draws in her breath with a hiss, her fingernails dig into my back, low moans of pleasure rise in her throat. Her nipples turn a deeper pink and stand proudly. I now make her bring my male body to full erection. She knows her way around there, I can't take more than a short time of this.

Abruptly, I push her back so she lands belly-up. Her feet end up behind my ears. With a jerk, I pull her body towards me so that her behind is on the edge of the bed. I pull her legs apart to lay her open. Her hands guide me in, and I push forward, burying myself inside her entirely in the first assault. She makes a sound that starts out as a whimper slowly turns into a moan of desire. My toes claw into the carpeted floor as I try to improve my leverage. Intermittently, she closes her eyes dreamily and throws back her head, concentrating on her other senses. Then she opens them again and looks at me with lust-glazed eyes.

I suggest we change our position, and I get down on my hands and knees on the floor. She kneels down behind me, firmly grips my thighs, and we slam into each other in a quickening rhythm. I feel the pull of my breasts flopping jerkily, wilder and wilder beneath the ribcage. Anchored against the bed, I can let my left hand roam under my body, now playing with a breast, then down to my sex to add to my arousal. We stumble onto our side, I feel her moist breath in the nape of my neck. Hear her panting and inarticulate utterings. She picks up my free leg pinning it up with her left arm grabbing my left boob with her bigstrong hand I groan as she squeezes and twists the soft tingling gland pinches the sensitized tip in the rhythm of our lovemaking. Lovemaking? That's one word for it, 'rutting' would be more appropriate. Who gives a damn, I so hard so hotmoist love not fast enough you sweatslickheat Raven harderfasterthrusts explodingstarburstsparkle this bloodrushnervesthrob is so musclesclamp and I yell out my ecstasy as we climax together and I feel her shuddering release in me. I hear her triumphant roar, and then we both go still.

For a while, she is content to let me be the aggressor, but soon she wants to take a more active part. She complains that she can't do that in this position, so we regroup. She goes down on her knees to better answer my thrusts as I take her from behind. With one hand she adds to her enjoyment, roving between her free-swinging breasts and her crotch. Good thing too, as I am almost unmindful of her pleasure in the state I'm in. Gradually we fall onto our right arms and legs. I reach around her left leg to seize her breast once more, handling it roughly, relishing the pliable feel of its flesh in my clawing fingers and her moaning and surprisingly colorful shouts exhorting me to be harder, faster, rougher. I feel as if the heat in my crotch is making a column of mercury rise, and when it hits the top my head will burst. The movements of my pelvis become frenzied, Val's panting and moaning louder and faster, my flaring nostrils draw in the mingled smells sweating bodies Val's vise-like muscles grip me buttocks as fenders her heat fires me up oh thank you Val we both reach the peak she wildly contracts the twitching in her back against my stomach and chest, I'm over the brink and pour forth into her.

I turn back to kiss her mouth. After that unrestrained session, a more sedate pause is called for. My hand glides down and back, coming to rest on her compact male behind. She wipes the sweat off my brow and delicately licks it from her fingers as if it was honey.

Finally, she withdraws from me and we clamber back into the bed. We get to talk again. "That was quite something," I tell her, "hope you enjoyed it as much as I did." This gets me wondering, and I ask her that, since she probably has a lot of experience in both sexes, how she feels about the differences of doing it in a male and female body.

"Both have their advantages and drawbacks," she says in reply, "but on the whole I prefer to be in a woman's body. When I'm a man, it feels a bit strange and limited, having almost all erogenous feelings focused to the dangly bit between the legs. But yes, I enjoyed that just now. I had not realized how much I had wanted it so unrestrained."

"But if you prefer to have sex as a woman," I say to that, "why didn't you turn back into female form just now? I mean, I obviously enjoyed it a lot this way, but I wanted this to be what you wanted too."

"I thought that was what you wanted. As far as I know, you've never had sex with a woman before. I thought you would not like it as much."

"I don't know how I will enjoy it, because I never tried it." I smile at her, disarmingly I hope. "But then I never tried to tango before tonight, and I enjoyed that a lot. Perhaps you could be my teacher again...?"

"Well, I guess I might be persuaded," she says (still in male form). "But maybe you're not as inexperienced as you say. I bet you had quite a bit of sex with at least one woman." As I start to speak up, she shows what she meant by shapeshifting into... me. There is something to that, I guess, playing with myself could be taken as a lesbian experience in the widest sense.

Afterwards, we lie on the carpet, spoon-fashion, languorously kissing. Our bodies are pressed close together, and we now take a little more time for the caresses we exchange. Her face is radiant as she turns around back towards me for an uncomfortable kiss.

But then we adjourn to the bed, lie down in between the sheets and pick up our conversation. Valerie gets me to talk about how different I feel about having sex in male and female shape, and that sets off my mind on a tangent.

We did not use a condom just now. It just hits me: I could have got her pregnant just now. It happened before, when Irene and I conceived Kurt. But I'm sure Valerie is on the pill. In any case it's no use worrying. We'll take things as they come [if she isn't on the pill, Val will no doubt have a discreet little abortion, says the voice at the back of my head]. For an instant I am troubled by these thoughts. Does that mean I would like her to bear me a child? That's crazy. I mean, I like her, but if I really loved her, I'd have to let her go. She's much better off when she's not intimately linked to me. Being friends who once or twice go to bed with each other is a different, less messy matter.

Valerie, for her part, says she is surprised that I did not have sex with her as a woman just now. Yes, that is very odd, especially considering how she had been looking at me in the shower. Funny that I want to play it safe with her, as if taking risks wasn't my calling-card, normally.

In the end, I don't take much persuading when Val asks me to initiate her into sapphic play. Since I like her body, I morph into her shape, on the rationale that when she masturbated she had her first lesbian experiences. Valerie's eyes widen, then resume their normal aspect when the coin drops.

She is fascinated, looking all over my replication of her body, holding her right hand next to mine, scrutinizing my face with her cornflower blue eyes.

Raven's power never ceases to astonish me. I look all over her (my?) body and cautiously reach out to touch her left breast. She's got the weight, skin texture, color, everything right down to the fifth decimal point. It's a perfect match, apart from the flushed marks left by her fingers on my left breast, but if she wanted to, I'm sure she could also do those. I take her nipple between my thumb and two fingers. I pinch it, and I feel how the rush of blood into it heats it up, I see how the pink color of the bud and its surrounding band deepens, just or nearly so as it would in mine. As I pull experimentally, it gives way a little, and the whole breast follows, growing longer, changing to a cone. When I let go, the elasticity of the flesh quickly returns it to its familiar pear-like shape. Its wobbling is most attractive, even if I say so myself.

Raven's idea is something on the lines of me doing to her what I would want to have someone to do to me, and I slowly begin to shift from exploring her (my) body to trying to stimulate it. Still, I feel daunted by the prospect of my lesbian deflowering, so I am grateful for her quick parody of Yoda (actually she sounds more like Fozzy Bear, but it is easy to confuse the two voices) to help me take the plunge.

How do I begin? I eventually start at her mouth, wondering what it will be like. Her lips are softer than they were when she was a man, more yielding, softer, warmer. At first I hold back my tongue, then it gradually snakes forward into the cave of her mouth, where it explores the hedges of her teeth, the strange formation of her palate and then becomes involved with its counterpart. Raven becomes more active herself, not content with playing with my tongue in her mouth she also begins forays into mine.

What next? Check out the body parts that are different from a man's? With eyes closed, I let my hands glide down her back and the sides of her body, along the dipping route across her waist. The skin is a lot smoother than it was ten minutes ago, there is a lot less hair. Raven's movements begin to mirror my own. Accustomed to being with men, I find Raven's well-padded behind an intriguing discovery. Wonder if she enjoys my fondling as much as I do hers. Guess she does, unless that purring moan was just put on.

We draw apart after a while of this, and I return my attention to her breasts. After letting me caress them for a few minutes, Raven comes up with something else. She takes her own right breast in hand and squeezes it forward. She starts to roll its hardening tip against the nipple of my left breast opposite. I start doing the same thing, and for a while we are playing at dueling nipples, which looks a bit odd, but feels as if electric sparks pass from one little cylinder to the other. Then we do it with no hands, pressing and rolling against each other.

"Lie down," she tells me. She crawls over me to go down on my breasts. Hers dangle temptingly above my face. I want to feel them on my mouth, to suck in their flesh, to lick the point into hardness. Only last month I had realized that I could feel sexually and romantically attracted to a woman -- Raven -- now I'm living out these feelings, and my apprehensions about this unfamiliar territory are just gone.

"Amazing," she whispers. With a finger, she traces the contour of her own determined jawline on my face, then her hand drops down to my left breast as she begins to compare it closely with its original. She snuggles up to my left side to hold hers up to it, then tests the consistency of mine by pinching the tip and giving it a tug to see how far it will expand. She seems content by its behavior, and smacks her lips. It does not bother her to be with her naked doppelgänger, it only arouses her intense curiosity.

Feeling her touch in a female body is starting to key me up, and my voice becomes a little more husky than expected when I tell her: "Well, you should have a pretty good idea what turns on a woman with this kind of a body. Want to put it into practice?"

"Well, I'll give it a shot," she replies with a slight note of apprehension in her voice.

I just can't resist: "Try not you must, young Skywalker, do you must!"

She giggles, which is probably a good thing. Maybe it helps her to overcome her nervousness.

It begins slowly with our mouths joining, the caressing touch of two pairs of moist lips. Hers start tentatively, then grow more enterprising and more mobile, it feels like butterflies brushing their wings across my tingling lips. Again I notice how nice she smells. Momentarily her eyes close, and then her pointed tongue slowly intrudes into my mouth. I reciprocate with mine, and I feel her relaxing. Her hands move down my back, they are on their way to my behind.

As she slowly and caressingly travels all over my back with her active hands, I do the same to her. Too bad the mirror is so far away from the bed, it should be fun to look at ourselves, two Valeries caressing each other in perfect symmetry. Val's movements are gaining in confidence, and I am beginning to feel how the first bubbles of my sexual excitement are rising to the surface as her palms and fingers sensuously go over the curves of my (her) compact buttocks. Our French kissing continues all the while, and it seems she is enjoying it, if the soulful sighs that accompany her exhalations are anything to go by.

She leans back for a moment and her hands play with my breasts again. Her fingers can be both hard and soft, and they are pleasantly warm. My breasts swell at her attentions. My nipples harden, and so do hers when we begin to rub them against and around one another. We both luxuriate in that rising excitement and in the rising temperature as we roll our breasts against each other in circular motions. Valerie has thrown back her head, groans contentedly.

She lies down on the bed when I ask her, looking up at me, curious about what I'm up to. I hunch above her and bring down my mouth on her bosom. The hillocks are flattened by their weight, the nipples stand up proud from their creamy skin. I have placed myself so that my breasts hang down close to her face, and she pulls one to her mouth immediately, and begins to suckle on them thoroughly. The erotic symmetry of our position gives me the idea to play a little game, where I mirror her caresses, do to her what she is doing to my breasts. Valerie chuckles prettily when she realizes what I am doing, and redoubles her efforts.

Raven sighs with feeling when I gently bite down on her left nipple, but then she does the same to mine. After a few minutes of sexual play I realize that she is always following suit with what I am doing. This is fun, and it helps me to get it right. I have to giggle.

When we are both breathing raggedly, she crawls forward or, relative to my body, downwards, tracing the way with her lips and tongue. This is it. She is approaching my femininity, and at the same time, hers is coming ever closer to my face...

It is not the first time for me to be in that particular position, just the first time with a woman. I discover I enjoy the active part even more than I had expected, but after a while my growing arousal becomes too much for me, and I just lay back and let her lips, fingers and tongue bring me to the peak.

Valerie realizes what I am doing and is amused (and relaxed). After a while, I decide it is enough, and move into that old standby, the '69'. Her mound is appetizing under its blonde furry patch, and I go to work at once. Val is a bit hesitant at first, but quickly learns what to do and how to do it best. I am fascinated by her smell, her trembling writhings, her taste and by her eagerness to try out the new play.

In a position like this it is hard for both partners to stay focused. When you are approaching orgasm yourself, it becomes harder to properly concentrate on helping your partner to hers. Valerie eventually gives up and lets me finish the job on her. I shift again so I can observe her face (and the way the tendons in her neck come out) as she climaxes.


I tell her it was great, and so it was, but actually what I felt -- the orgasm, the closeness, the weirdness of making love to a woman in my body -- is indescribable. I can't put all of it into words. But now it is time for me to return her favor. Raven is a sensuous woman and an appreciative lover, I find it easier than I expected to raise her sexual arousal. "My, you are a quick learner," she chuckles. I begin to try out things I have only heard or read about. I'm doing stuff that could get us into trouble with the law in some parts of This Great Nation -- me, a government official! She whimpers full of passionate intensity, her hands knead the flesh of her bosom, her back arches and undulates, her head thrashes wildly about, her cries of ecstasy become louder and louder -- is that really my doing? Cool.

For a minute after her climax she just lies there panting, but we then slip under the sheet together. I lie in Raven's strong arms. She has changed back to what is 'normalcy' for her, her well-muscled body (which makes mine look frail), Prussian blue skin and dark red hair. She cradles my head between her breasts.

"That was wonderful," she huskily says after her noisy orgasm subsides. She seems about to say more, but she shuts up and immediately returns to her task of getting me off. Looking at her down my body, I can see she is enjoying this. I bet she is realizing her power as she sees how her actions are bringing me from arousal to ecstasy and she begins to experiment with how and where she applies her active mouth and her busy fingers my breaths turn into moans my head thrashes leftright I think I hear my blood rushing in my ears wow I would not have thought Val would even know about that but now she is oh doing it my doing it to me she reaches my core I you who would have thought my hands squeeze my breasts I am getting there Valerie my body heats up she smiles triumphantly I AM HERE!


After I become coherent again, we are both loath to separate. I hold her to me and we luxuriate in the dissipating heat of our sweaty bodies. We slowly exchange gentle caresses (this is the first time she has a chance to familiarize herself with my real body) and talk.

I feel light-headed, and I just have to kiss her from time to time. In hushed tones we easily segue from one topic to the next, we are both happy with how the evening had progressed, and continue to enjoy our companionship. At first we can't stay serious, especially when she relates how she 'subliminally' affected my behavior in the shower-room earlier on.

After telling me how she first met Irene, she asks me if that was my first lesbian experience or the first time I felt sexually interested in a woman.

"Yes on the one, no on the other," I say. "I had a few flings (less than Madonna, maybe less than Princess Di, I guess), but all were with men. In my senior high school year when I thought that Gretchen Tyler, the captain of the basketball team, looked damned attractive and I wondered what it would be like with her. She was proud to call herself a dyke, which daunted me, because I thought she might make fun of me as being no more than a bi-curious little girl. By the time I finally worked up enough courage to approach her, she already had a steady girlfriend. And a few years later I met Edmond and he bowled me over. A year after we were introduced, we were married.

Who would have thought a month ago that I would find it so gratifying to lie with Val? Or that she would drop her guard as much as she does now as she snuggles up to me and cheerfully babbles on? Or that I would be so moved by her fearless trust? She knows what the arms and hands that hold her have done, but to her they hold no fear. We happily enjoy our intimacy. An intimacy that for the moment also embraces our conversation.

We start by reminiscing -- about previous sexual encounters, about old lovers and partners. For the first time I have the feeling that her emotions and memories are directly translated into words, without being filtered through Val's political agenda and her calculation of the likely effect on the listener. She becomes quite talkative, tells me about the first time she had sex, and of the only previous time she can remember when she felt physically attracted to a female acquaintance, back in high school. At one point she waxes sentimental about how happy she felt during the first year of her marriage to Edmond Atkinson. Immediately, she becomes flustered for a moment, and exclaims: "I'm not carrying a torch for him or anything. It's just he used to be such a big part of my life back then."

And we were happy together, for the first year. But then our careers took off and we grew apart, and ... and I really don't think you're interested in what I used to feel for Ed..."

She smiles at me indulgently as I hurry to explain that although I once loved him, that chapter is over. But why do that? I don't feel embarrassed about my other sexual partners, am I afraid she'd see Ed as a romantic rival? Just because we had a nice evening and some of the greatest sex I can remember doesn't mean we're a couple, does it? We satisfied our curiosity, we had our fun, tomorrow we'll go our separate ways, right? But it feels so good to confide in Raven, even about Ed and what went wrong in our marriage.

Still, I feel a bit uncomfortable. As Raven seems to be hinting, my super-ego must be worried I may have become too open to her. But why? I did not give away anything that I have to be ashamed of. The mere fact that I went to bed with her is easily more fraught with the danger of embarrassment than any of the little peccadilloes to which I confessed. I did not 'talk shop', so no matters of national security were under threat of disclosure (luckily?).

However, she wants to show me that she trusts me too, and drops a bombshell: She once was married to Sabretooth. My first reaction is to ask her if she loved him. It almost makes me forget my embarrassment about not having deduced it myself (both are called Creed, for Pete's sake, but so far no one made the connection).
It does come as a relief that she says that she had associated with him for ulterior motives, that beyond his obvious animalistic appeal, that as she got to know him better she felt repelled by him. For a moment I had trouble reconciling the woman I thought I knew -- to a limited extent, as I am well aware -- with someone who would willingly enter a close association with a deranged killer like Sabretooth. But this makes sense. I know her violent side, but she mostly keeps it under control. She detests violence that does not serve a purpose, and that is of course Sabretooth's forte.

So there only was one love of her life, after all: Irene Adler. As Raven confirms when she explains about her relationship to Victor Creed. I guess it must have been some kind of marriage or liaison of convenience with Nightcrawler's father as well, but I'll leave that subject for another time. I realize the problem is not that I am afraid I might tell her too much about me and learn to little about her. It is that I suspect that subconsciously I've been acting as if I was in a long-term relationship with Raven, and now my conscious mind is at a quandary whether to follow this instinct of my heart or not. I try to find the right words to explain this. It is hard, because I am still grasping myself for the answer about my own feelings. But a lot is going to depend on how Raven feels.

"Strange," I reply, "you never mentioned him that much before. If I hadn't raided your personal files, I might not even know you used to be married."

Valerie seems strangely distracted after that. Probably having second thoughts about her candor to me. And I realize how much I wish that won't be the last such occasion of mutual confidence. For a while we fall silent, and at last I say: "I don't know, maybe you think you're giving away too much? Please don't. If you can trust me, I can trust you. Is there anything that you want me to talk about? Something you've never asked or where you think I lied to you?"

Her answer is supremely confident: "If I did not trust you -- a lot -- we wouldn't be here, and we certainly wouldn't be here naked. Besides, what could you tell me that would really surprise me? What happened in the past may help me to understand what you did, but could it change how I feel about you now?"

"Well, how about this: Haven't you ever wondered why my son Graydon and Sabretooth have the same surname? Victor is his father. We used to be married."

That gets her attention, she shrinks back momentarily: "Do, er, did you love him? Why...?"

Strange that that is her first question, but here at least I can reassure her: "What you call a marriage of convenience. We were freelance spies, lying low for half a year. He didn't even know who or what I really was. He thought I was a German called Leni Zauber who enjoyed rough animalistic sex..."

She looks at me curiously: What have we just been doing? "Well, I do enjoy it," I admit, "as a change of pace. With Victor it definitely became too much. No, with him it was for a well-defined purpose -- to shake off the Russians -- and the more I got to know him, the more eager I was to get away. After I got pregnant when it turned out that the spermicide on the condom didn't work on him, I did hope that at least his child would turn out to be less of a psychopath than him. Unfortunately..."

"But you found Sabretooth attractive?" She won't let the subject go.

"Only on a purely sensual level, and only to begin with. I suppose if you didn't know he was a mass-killer, you too might have gone into bed with him for one night." She does not look happy when I say that, but she also does not contradict me. "No, so far there only was one person I truly loved." I don't have to mention her name.

So the matter of our growing confidence does not trouble Valerie as much as I thought. After another silence, she finally says: "Raven, what is going to happen tomorrow and the days after? I thought tonight would be no more than two consenting adults pleasing and comforting each other for a night, and then we'd go on to being just friends..."

As I talk and frame my words, it becomes clear to me that this is no time for half-measures. I know we are sexually compatible (well, duh!), I love being with her and there are things I admire about her, such as her inner strength and how she kept loving her foster daughter, even though Rogue rebelled against her. More importantly, I care for her deeply (I must care a lot for Raven when I even admit it to Forge!). I want her to be my friend, or more. And I am sure (I hope) that she cares for me, or how else do I interpret that she invited me into her room on the anniversary of Destiny's death? That she kissed me then, when I left? I lay awake until past 3:00 a.m. that night, and it wasn't because I felt sorry for her. So am I saying too much when I blurt out: "I think I've fallen in love with you"?

At least Raven does not reject the idea out of hand. She lets me go on a bit about what I think about the problems that are likely to await us. And as far as can tell, she is listening not unsympathetically.

I remember Garance's words from Les Enfants du Paradis: "C'est si simple, l'amour." But it's not. Love is not simple at all, and with the likes of us, it is bound to be very complicated. Please God, don't let her think I'm making a complete fool of myself! For an instant, I sense my confidence evaporating, but I finally manage to ask her what she thinks.

Raven remains silent for a while. With her eyes, those opaque golden orbs it is hard to tell what she is thinking, but it seems clear that her mind is working really hard on the question. She does not (dares not?) look into my eyes, but she keeps holding me tight. Dare I draw a measure of comfort from that?

After what seems like hours (but actually must have been minutes), Raven breaks her silence: "Valerie, this is not exactly sudden, but it is a development I had not foreseen. I know that it does not come easy to lay yourself as open as you just did. I am touched. But I also have to think some more if I am ready yet for a real relationship again. It is only two years since Irene died..." Oh damn, here comes the brush-off! "Let's see. You're clearly the best friend I have at the moment, not counting family. I'm grateful for that, so I'm a bit scared of what might happen if we tried to be more than friends and failed..."

I try to convince her that I really do all I can so that our new friendship will endure no matter what, but she puts her finger on my lips and stops me. "I care for you, Valerie," she whispers, "I realized that in the weeks after you found out about me impersonating Sheriff Harry. If I mess this up, I might hurt you more then I did then. But more importantly: we won't be able to keep it a secret. You'll be asked to resign your post. It's an invitation to disaster."

Dammit! Does she think I didn't think of that? It is a real risk, granted. But I can face it. By now, I can become a player even outside the government bureaucracy. I think, or hope, I can find a measure of happiness with Raven, that she can find it with me. If that is not just a wish-fantasy, I think it would be worth taking risks with my career. If she feels something for me, why does she have to play at being the practical woman? Why doesn't she go with her feelings?

That was what I thought too, but like Val I'm beginning to have second thoughts.

"Now I see how much I enjoy being close to you. Not just for the sex. I mean, we've been talking for over an hour now, and I feel I could go on just talking until the morning. You've said I care for you, and I if you're honest, you must admit you care for me. There really should be a better way of going about this, but it all boils down to this: I think I've fallen in love with you, Raven."

That statement does is not a total surprise after the build-up, still I am not prepared for it. "And you honestly think we could be lovers?" I ask at last.

"Let's say it is a possibility I feel I, we have to explore," she continues undaunted. "I know that there's bound to be complications, but with a little patience it could work. Of course, if we stop right here, it would probably keep both our lives with certain other people easier." But Valerie is not someone who sticks to what's safe and uncomplicated; that is one of her most endearing traits. "So you know I'm going into this with both eyes wide open," she goes on, "and I am willing to face the risks. What do you think? Am I totally deluded or what?"

What can I say? What experience in life can compare with loving an d knowing one is loved? I like being with her, there's no denying it. It is amazing how my view of her changed: Easy foe, then respected enemy, uneasy ally, and now... I have to admit to myself that I care for Valerie, more than for any other 'flatscan', more than for most mutants. If I did not care for her, it would be easy -- I'd wave her good-bye or become her bedmate for a while, depending on what best suited my designs. As I did with Forge and Wolverine. But with Valerie...

I find myself actually wishing that she'd think well of me. She fascinates me. Although she knows what kind of views I had when I led the Brotherhood, she did not let her fears poison her mind. She has always been loyal to her friends, even in times when loyalty is hard to give. I am certain she would put one hundred percent into our relationship if I say yes. Finally, I can no longer sustain the silence...

Am I being honest about not being ready for a relationship after Irene's death? Isn't it time to move on, after over two years? Or is there a hidden reason why I am reluctant, something don't want to face?

I am sure you'll do your best that we'll remain friends, but who knows how you, or I for that matter, ultimately will react should our 'romance' turn sour? Or am I again trying to hide an underlying reason? And does that not also go for my fears about our affair becoming public knowledge? At least in part, even though here I am talking about a very real danger to Valerie's position?

"Okay, okay, you don't have to spell it out," she says. "I think my take on the possible risks is not that different from yours, if not with your kind of pessimism content." She sighs in exasperation. "If I became your 'significant other', there would be nothing wrong with that. Nothing. Whoever tried to cause us grief would be in for a battle. I'd fight them till it's over, and it wouldn't be over till I say so."

I tell her how I feel about this, in no uncertain terms. The detached observer in me is a bit surprised at my own passion. So, it would seem, is Raven. She grasps my hand and squeezes it. At least she seems to appreciate my sentiment.

She actually appears tongue-tied, at loss for words. Oh Lord, am I being too impatient? Does she feel hemmed in, cornered, that I'm trying to force her to make a choice she does not want to face yet? Her brow is furrowed, she seems to want to start to say something, but then thinks better of it. What if she think it's okay to sleep with a flatscan for kicks, but not to share your life with her? What am I thinking? She's given me more respect than she has shown to any of her mutant compeers on the team. Or is she worried about the age thing? I am easily young enough to be her daughter, after all. Does she view me as an over-emotional, love-struck little girl? Have I given too little consideration to that aspect because she does not look like her age? How old is she really? At least in her sixties if she really is Graydon Creed's mother. So she must be close to being old enough to be my grandmother, actually. Strange that I never considered it a real problem. But should I, really?

That's our Val, a scrapper, and not lacking in self-confidence. "But I'd be wasting my time if you wouldn't be with me. Please, give it a chance, at least let's test how we get along for half a year." She starts out angry with my negative attitude, but ends up imploringly. "I haven't felt anything like it since the best days of my marriage. The more you tell me it's a bad idea, the surer I am. We won't be what you and Irene were, but I am positive we can find our own way of living together and loving one another that will last."

What do I say now? 'I love you Val, we should stop seeing each other'? That's what she does not want, and, if I'm honest, it would be painful to me to. But do I want to take the plunge? What will that do to my sense of independence? When I lived with Irene, I felt I was calling the shots -- even though Irene did not agree to everything I said. After I was forced to join X-Factor, I still could tell myself that they would not be able to prevent me from escaping if I felt it necessary. But if I actually become Valerie's 'significant other', I'll no longer be the sole mistress of my destiny because Val will not allow me to be that of hers, no matter what she says now. And a woman like Valerie, although she loves me as I am and will do anything to make me feel better about my new role, will not let me to revert to the Mystique I once was. Not that I'm seriously thinking of doing that right now...

Somehow, Raven appears almost ageless. Physically, she can be any age she wants to be. Mentally, there were moments when I thought I was more grown-up than she (what she did in Washington State was a rather immature stunt), but maybe I envy her way she sometimes acts on impulse off-duty. Should I be glad or worried that she is taking her time to think things over now? In any case, the difference between our ages is not a problem. As Mystique she keeps abreast of modern culture so she won't be caught out when she disguises herself as a teenager, and if our conversations these past few months showed, our ages do not cause any problems in our communication.

Now she even looked angry for a moment. Maybe it was a mistake. If we do get together, it will be a big change, and we have not yet really gone into what it will mean for her life. I want to rectify my mistake, but she only says: "Please give me a little more time, I want to think this through."

That is unkind. [It is the truth, woman!] She is the best thing that happened to me since Irene's death, except, maybe, learning that Rogue was not dead. Would it be possible to find happiness a second time -- with Val? [Forget about that, remember what is important! Her agenda is not yours! She hopes for an illusion!] But she's not stupid, she's a very sharp woman out to find her way. My aims and hers actually are not that far apart -- our disagreement is over methods, and Valerie should be open to rational argument. [You make her sound like little Miss Perfect.] Oh shut up, if you haven't anything more relevant to say!

My silence is beginning to worry Valerie. Better make up my mind. Do I like being around her? Yes. Am I too chicken to attempt a relationship with her? I should bloody well hope not. Does she love me? She says she does, why not see if she's right; the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Do I love her?


She gazes at me in what appears to be a friendly way, but she also looks troubled. I'm beginning to wonder if I would have had the courage to ask her if I had done the 'sensible' thing and waited until tomorrow, at least.

"Valerie," she finally says, "if that is what you really want, I think I owe it to you to give it a fair chance. No, that sounds a bit stupid, as if I'm doing it out of a sense of obligation. What I feel for you goes beyond friendship and enjoying sex. Ugh, I can't believe I said that! I'm so sorry."

We had sex tonight, doesn't that indicate something? Okay, it does not have to mean it's serious. Not for me, not for Val. But I did not do it just for my gratification or, worse, to manipulate Val. I wanted to be close to her, and I was glad to give her something she wanted. And at least subconsciously we must have known that after tonight things can't be the same between us. We took that risk. Yes, I do love her.

I try to find the right words. I don't want to sound like a jerk or like a starry-eyed romantic. Now why do I think that? Because there is something about her that makes me feel a bit like how I felt when I first met Irene, or when I first fell in love? Goodness, listen to me rambling in little circles explaining what I mean!

I try to tell her I don't mind, but she hurriedly rattles on: "It wasn't love at first sight for us, but I'm pretty certain that it's the real thing. So in one word, the answer is 'yes'. And if it actually works out, I'll be happy. Meaning, er, I'll do everything I can to make it work out."

She moves closer, there is less than an inch of air between our faces. I seize the moment and kiss her on the lips. It is a solemn moment in both our lives, one that divides them into eras 'before' and 'after'. I hope it does not mark the beginning of the end for us. Raven is as awed as me and she whispers: "I love you, Val. Never expected it, but I'm in love with Valerie Cooper..."

All this was thirsty work, I go to fetch some mineral water. I am relieved. It was not what I had expected when this evening began, and I think I went further than I would have, if not for the buzz from our lovemaking (yes, in retrospect that is what it was -- not just 'friendly' sex). And then I was afraid I advanced too quickly for Raven to follow.

When I get to the kitchen, I remember the bottle of champagne in the pantry, and I bring that as well. And a couple of wine-glasses, they're probably wrong for champagne, but they're the prettiest I can find. I want to toast the venture on which we're embarking, and Raven gets out of bed to join me.

We make quite a picture: two women, one flushed pink, the other dark blue, standing almost naked, face to face and bringing our glasses together with a loud 'clink' before draining them in one draught.

As she moves to get back into bed, I sit down beside her and refill the glasses. I am bubbling with confidence, and as she still is a bit tense, I try to impart a bit of it to her. To ease her mind, I agree that we won't advertise our liaison to begin with. We won't go to elaborate lengths to hide it, we should end up keeping it secret for the six months we set as our 'trial period'. I'm pretty sure the others will be discreet (well, maybe we should watch Jamie and Random).

It is really too late to go to sleep -- in a few hours we have to go to work. So I remind Raven that we have not yet made love with her in her real shape.

"Real shape to a degree. It probably still is influenced by my wishes." Pointing to her breasts she goes on: "I think these are a bit larger then when I revert to my blue shape through losing control of my power."

"And very becoming they look on you too. I guess it beats plastic surgery," I say.

"You know, it really bugs me that so many women have implants these days," she says. "It really makes my life harder. The scars obviously are no problem, but to recreate the consistency without using silicone, to make them look as fake as Demi Moore's is a bastard of a job. It was easier when I was younger."

We share a giggle. We shut up.

At least I don't forget to tell her I love her. I wince at some of the things I say, but somehow I can't seem to avoid them. Normally I don't have this problem of verbalizing what I want to put across. Is it because of how I feel about her?

We seal our agreement with a kiss. Let's hope I did not just commit a big, big mistake. But when I see her face light up, I somehow can't help feeling happy. Even if I am still amazed me how our feelings for each other have evolved. To begin with, I saw her as my enemy, and now I just agreed to settle down with her? Wonder what Irene would have said to that, had she foreseen it. Or did she foresee it, but did not mention it for fear it would not come to pass? I always wondered why she was so intent on Forge and me getting together. Could it have been because she knew I would react the way I did, with determined resistance? Only now to fall prey to an even less likely object of affection?

Valerie goes out for water, but when she returns, she is also carrying a bottle of champagne. "It's about room temperature, I'm afraid," she says, "but I did not expect we'd be needing it. Feel like a glass?" She produces two long-stemmed, wide-brimmed crystal glasses. They really must be meant for some cocktail or other, but she either doesn't know or doesn't care.

I take one, and she pours and proposes: "To the coming half-year -- and to us being together for the ones that follow!" After we gulp down our drinks, she sits down on the edge of the bed beside me and looks deep in my eyes: "You won't regret it, I promise."

Thankfully she agrees to keep our romance under wraps for starters. She does not want to believe things might not work out between us, but she indulges me, knowing it will be a useful precaution in any event. She grins: "At least we only have comparatively few people to watch out for. So far we're not of interest to the media because of our sex lives, we don't have Congressional committees and special investigators ferreting out our entire lives, and we're not committing adultery. So we're not in as precarious a position as a president having it off with a pretty intern."

I snort. "Ha! Bubba would have to be an even bigger fool than I took him for if he did that! But with us it isn't hypothetical. We really are having sex..."

"Making love," she retorts. And she snuggles up closer, making it clear that she would not mind to take up where we left off before starting our long night's conversation. "You know, you still seem a bit tense to me, and it would be a lovely way to relax."

Outside, the first birds are clearing their throats, we might as well forget about sleep. We could do worse than to begin our journey into the unknown by making love with me in my real shape for the first time.

We exchange a few light-hearted remarks about what should be considered my 'true' shape, and then we go into a lingering kiss.

We begin with a deep sensuous kiss, our tongues sinuously entwined, before I move down from her mouth to her throat (my lips feel her heartbeat racing through her carotid) and from there to her recently discussed bosom. I pause for a moment, sit back to take in the sight: Two full, but firm, dark blue domes, slightly pendulous for all that. The tips are even darker, almost black, with a purplish tinge. When they are still they give the impression of two large blue eyes staring up at me, but they rise a bit and separate with every inhalation. Good thing I did not turn off the light after our toast.

Then I swoop down like a bird of prey and return to my oral ministrations, working my way upwards from the base of each cupola, but stopping just short of the hardening tips, on the outer rims of her areoles. I'm so intent on my task that I barely notice her hands holding the back of my head and tousling my hair. When I rub my cheek against her left breast, I can feel the intensity of Raven's heartbeat. Low guttural moans purr forth from her chest and throat.

I wonder what Raven would say if I told her that I learned a bit about this when I lived with Edmond (maybe some other time). He sometimes kidded me about my 'breast fixation' because of the time I spent on his chest and nipples when we went to bed with each other. In retrospect that, and maybe also my occasionally reading his Playboys -- for the interviews, of course! -- may have had a deeper significance.

I now take the pleasant weight of her breast firmly in hand, my fingers pressing into the resilient flesh and pushing up the tips. She draws in her breath with a hiss as my mouth finally settles on the peak of her left breast. I flinch as her fingernails dig into my shoulders, but I don't let that distract me for long. My tongue feels the way her areole crinkles and the grainy bumps rise, grow and harden. The half-globe heats up and the nipple becomes rock-hard under my lips, tongue and teeth.

I pick up my glass. Raven divines my intention when I hold it up to her left breast, and she takes her own glass. "Let's keep it in pleasant symmetry," she explains. She bows forward, dipping the tips into the pale golden liquid, which immediately flows over the brim. Bubbles form on her submerged nipples and areoles, tiny silver pearls against dark blue. We put aside the glasses, leaving the upper thirds of her breasts glittering under a film of aromatic wetness. Looking at them, I conclude that the bell curve and the chain curve are the most enticing connections between two points.

She sinks back onto the bed, and I immediately lower my lips and begin to kiss her bosom and lick up the tasty wine. While I mainly concentrate on her left breast, she lifts up the right one to save it from the imminent danger of neglect. Her tongue snakes out between her lips and its tip manages to reach the peak. It dances on the engorged bud and the crinkled band around it. Alternating between her two abundant breasts, we wind up in positions where our tongues meet and play with each other as both our mouths work on the same nipple at the same time.

This time Valerie takes the more active part from the start, but it also clear that we have chosen to go about our lovemaking more slowly, patiently and deliberately. Val is an enthusiastic and quick learner after getting rid of her 'lesbian virginity' tonight. Her tongue dances into my mouth, her lips and teeth caress and gently nibble on my upper, then my lower lip. A soft hum grows in her throat. Her mouth moves along the line of my jaw towards my left ear (nibbling the lobe), then diagonally down to my throat (I have to giggle involuntarily when her warm, moist breath tickles a sensitive spot). Down past my collar-bones she travels until she reaches my breasts. There she lingers for a long while, pushing me back into the big soft pillow.

She works her way up in a spiral towards the tip of each breast, but teasingly, tormentingly she stops short of the nipple, only to begin anew at the underside of the other breast. She really is good at this, my back arches to push my boob towards her active mouth.

Her lips keep changing -- one moment they feel soft, performing a feathery dance, next they harden as she sucks me in, then they draw back to allow her tongue and teeth to get at me. Warm waves of sexual excitation radiate in widening circles from the centers of my breasts, it seems that they are transmitting through direct links with each other, with my sex, with my other erogenous zones. It feels great just to lie back and enjoy it.

Gradually Val's beautiful, finely structured hands (the nails at the ends of her slender fingers clipped fairly short) join her mouth, squeezing my breasts, pushing them together, shaping them. After teasing me for minutes, she pounces on my prominent left nipple -- at last! Her spit makes the roughness of her tongue glide more smoothly across the teat and around the surrounding ring, but it also makes the sensation more intense. I hear myself moaning as the nipple throbs and becomes warmer with my accelerating heartbeat.

Valerie playfully cools the tip down with a glass of champagne, and I join in that game. Together we splash my breasts with the wine. The sparkling bubbles tickle my skin pleasantly, the cool liquid makes my flesh contract, the scent teases my nose. My breasts are glossy with champagne; Valerie looks on with dilating eyes. I lie down again, and she empties the remaining contents of her glass on my front.

She eagerly hunches down above me and begins to lick up the champagne. It does seem she is playing favorites: again she concentrates on my port mammary, so I have to take the matter of the neglected starboard one into my own hand. I lift it up and start licking the nipple myself. The salty taste of the skin, the sweet wine and the prickling sensation in my nerve-endings combine in a heady mix. After a while, Val joins in, her pointed tongue swirling around the nipple and the blade of my tongue. We continue this, moving from the right breast to the left and back again.

Raven has remained mostly passive until now, but she begins to reciprocate as I switch to her other breast. Her hands cup my breasts and she gently begins to knead them. She kisses the top of my head, until her arousal makes her breathe in sharply again. "Oh Valerie!" she moans. She purrs and tries to lift me up, lowering her head towards my torso.

"Later," I tell her. "First let me pleasure you."

I crawl down along her body and arrive at the red-furred treasure framed by the symmetrical curves of her thighs and hips. I descend on it and make love to her with my mouth. I am learning how not too rush things, how to slowly build up the ascent. At first she coaches me a bit, but after a while all I hear are her moans of passion and some slurping noises. I look up an see her pushing her breasts together in an attempt to reach both nipples with her mouth. Then, as I move in for the finale, her hips buck, she throws back her head, her hand dig into the blanket and bedsheet, and her loud ecstatic groans ring in my ears.

And afterwards, when her excitement has died down, she slowly goes over my body. I feel pleasantly sleepy as she seeks out the part that will best respond to her touch. And I feel it is a loving touch. She gives me what I want -- I've had and enjoyed the rough and tumble earlier on, now I am slowly falling into half-sleep, and she gives me the gentle, languorous loving that I crave.

The ascent to my climax is slow and less steep than the previous ones, but the important thing this time is not the speed with which I approach my orgasm or its ultimate intensity, but the indefinable quality that makes this an expression of our love.

But eventually, I do reach my climax, and after that I am clearly ready for sleep. My attempt to stifle my yawn is in vain. Kissing me on my forehead, Raven gets ready to leave. I said we were going to keep our relationship to ourselves, so she feels she has to be back in her quarters before the others get up. "G'night, Raven," I say and go into a big, big yawn.

"Good night, my little Jedi," she says and blows me a kiss before

I slowly begin to caress her more than before. My hands go through her hair, grip her shoulders and then move down along the sides of her ribcage and onto her breasts. Their soft warmth is pleasant in my palms as my fingers contract and relax in a rhythm that is even slower than the movement of her mouth and its parts on my breasts. I freeze as my excitation peaks again. When that little climax subsides, I move to lift her so that my lips can reach her chest, but she stops me. She wants to 'pleasure' me first.

She moves down along my body and soon settles down between my legs. She is becoming an accomplished oralist. At first I think I have to give her helpful hints, but then I am overwhelmed by the rising tide of sexual arousal she is using her mouth fingers nipples kissing rubbing touching licking moving around my thighs exploring my femininity probing me and bringing me to my orgasm.


Afterwards I still feel a tingling buzz. We both are drowsy, and she deserves a bit of a rest. She gets to lie down and let me make love to her. Now is the time for restraint, for tenderness, for the gentle approach. I take care how I stroke her body with lightly fluttering fingers, how I slowly make my progress over the different parts of her body with my lips. Occasionally we take breaks just to kiss. She makes murmuring purrs that sometimes already begin to signal her tiredness. Her fingers idly play with my hair, and her body is a lot more relaxed than it was ten minutes ago.

Slowly but surely she lets herself be helped along to her climax. A sweet pink blush spreads over her throat and bosom, her breath accelerates, muscles contract. I have to smile. Had this only been an occasion just for sex, this night was a success. But it became much more.

Afterwards, she falls limp. She vainly attempts to continue our conversation, but her need for sleep is overpowering. She is yawning. Well, it is time for me to leave anyway, if I want to be back in my quarters before the others rise. When I bid her "au revoir, I'm looking forward to the evening", her reply is swallowed by a wide yawn.

"Good night, my little Jedi," I tell her as I am about to go out of the room. But she has already fallen asleep, so I go back to the bed to lay her out more comfortably and to straighten out her blanket. Her eminently kissable lips are curled in a contented slight smile. Her expression is almost innocent, but I resist the urge to pet her. Instead, I check that the catch on her alarm-clock is off (it would be so much nicer to wake her myself in the morning... But wait, I can phone her!) and get into an inconspicuous shape to go out onto the street.


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