Title: The Lover
Author: Elizabeth
Email: uhmidont@theglobe.com
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Rating: PG
Keywords: X-men movie fic, pre- or post-movie, slash, Storm.
Disclaimer: The characters of the X-men and the universe this story is set in belong to Marvel.
Archive: If you already have permission to archive my x-men movie fic and want to archive this, feel free. If you don't have permission, please ask and send me your site URL.
Thanks: To Kate Bolin for the beta-read
August 5, 2000

She only comes in once a month. She buys the same things every time--a Vogue, a news magazine or two, and every science journal the bookstore carries. She slides the journals between the news magazines and places the Vogue on top of the whole pile. No one else does that. Usually people proudly display their "serious reading" purchases in an attempt to impress people. But it seems that she wants to keep her mind hidden.

When the science journals carry headlines that talk about mutations and genetics and the changing face of humanity, she always places the magazines face down on the counter and looks at me with wide and slightly fearful eyes. I turned the magazines over once and watched as her fingers knotted around each other, slowly tightening and strangling in fear. I didn't turn her magazines over after that.

I think she is sure that no one knows she's a mutant. But this is a small town and she's a gorgeous woman with white hair who also happens to teach at the strange school down the road and so her secret is only secret to her. Most of the other cashiers don't want to wait on her and will manufacture broken rolls of register tape or mis-rung items in order to direct her to me. My boss once told me that I was really a team player and that he really appreciated my willingness to "help customers, no matter what.." I smiled and nodded and hated him.

Sometimes she brings people in with her, a guy who always wears sunglasses or another woman with reddish hair and a sharp smile and sharper gaze. I don't like the other woman much; I don't like the way she notices things. But the dreamy intensity of the gaze that she wears is something I wait for each month. She has a strange, lilting accent and I once spent an hour supposedly restocking the linguistics section and really staring at the shelves trying to guess what language she once spoke.

Sometimes she comes in with children, two or three or four of them. They call her "Storm" and look around and scoff at being in a bookstore but sometimes there will be a child who will stare with rapt eyes at all the books and I smile because that is how I feel every time I walk inside the store. The smell of all the words, the cacophony of covers calling for my attention, the promise of knowledge and stories and different dreams--it's paradise.

She puts her magazines on the counter. I scan the Vogue in and slide her journals (face-down again this month) to the side, ringing in their prices manually because no one buys the journals except for her and inventorying them into the computer each month would be a waste of time. The news magazines are next and last and I inch them as slowly as I dare towards the scanner. No one is with her today and for a moment I imagine that when I hand her her change our fingers will touch and the spark that arcs from her hand to mind every time will finally recycle and return to her hand and that she will finally look at me, she will finally see me.

The magazines are all scanned in and her total is blinking on my register. "$29.37" I tell her and she holds out her money and I take it, sliding the bills into the register and counting her change out. I place the coins in her palm and watch the curtain of her hair brush against her shoulders. Lucky hair.

She says "Thank you" in her musical voice and I say, "Have a nice day" as she walks away. Kimmie, who is standing nearby pretending to change her register tape says, "Susan, you're the best! I mean, she looks ok, but still..."

The door dings softly as it closes and I sigh. Good-bye.

"It's ok," I tell Kimmie. "I understand. It's not a big deal."

I leave the counter and walk over to the window, act as if I'm picking up the discarded magazine and books that customers leave scattered around the chairs that dot the store. I watch her white hair shine as she walks through the parking lot and over to her car. She'll be back in a month, I tell myself. Just a month.

Tonight, when I get home, I will get out my calendar and hold my hand over it, watch as a red circle appears, marking the date when she will return.

I'm pretty good at keeping secrets, and my longing for her is just another one.