A/N: Takes place a few months after X2. The song quoted is Bill Withers' "L=
ean on Me," which was also an excellent movie. Rest in peace, Lynne Thigpen.=
I'm debating whether I should let this stand alone as a one-shot, or if I s=
hould expand it into a series. Holla back. Oh, and Kurt has a German accent.=
We know this. No need to write out a bunch of "vees" and "ja's." If you can=
't imagine a German accent, your imagination is shot to hell.
Shoutout to SkittleKicks, April's Writer of the Month at the Haven. She's t=
he one who coined a term that I use somewhere down the line and true Havenit=
es will spot it right off the bat.
Lean on Me, by Stormfreak
"Lean on me
When you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on."
Ororo didn't move from the baby grand piano after her students left. She tr=
ied to her mind certainly attempted to will her legs to move from the smal=
l wooden bench but she was frozen. Just like she was frozen that day. The =
day that her loss of composure cost her best friend her life, and the team t=
hat she loved so much one of their most beloved members. The day that her ch=
oking up cost not one, but two men the woman that they loved.
Breathe, Ororo. Ororo carefully lifted her violently shaking hands to pull =
the fall over the delicate ivory keys. She'd barely been able to play the up=
lifting Bill Withers tune that her students liked to hear her play after the=
classes that she taught now that Jean was gone. Goddess knew she wouldn't a=
ttempt to actually sing the lyrics. That had been Jean's job Jean's beauti=
ful, belting soprano that could be heard all the way down the hall. Ororo pl=
ayed the piano while Jean led the sing-along. But those were the old days th=
at weren't that long ago at all. Nowadays, the double load was nearly unbear=
able all of Jean's classes along with all of her own. But who was going to=
take over Jean's classes? Scott? Logan, maybe? It was Ororo's duty. Her res=
ponsibility. My fault. All my fau-
Ororo's hand slipped, and the heavy cherry wood slammed against the fingers=
on her left. Pain shot from the tips of her now-bleeding fingernails all th=
e way to her head. Ororo clamped down on her lip so hard that it began to sw=
ell. Breathe, Ororo. She would not scream, would not cry out and draw attent=
ion to herself. Just get to the infirmary and get some gauze for your hand. =
If anyone asks, tell them you had a small mishap in the greenhouse. Who am I=
kidding? No one's going to notice. Stand up, Ororo. Stand up and gather you=
r things and get out of here, before someone stops and tries to talk to you.=
On the way down the hall, Ororo bumped into Scott, still all decked out in =
black three months later. "Hey, Ororo."
"Good evening, Scott." She could barely look Scott in the eye not that he=
had anything to say to her, anyway. Not after their last conversation, whic=
h was more like a full-fledged assault.
"Why didn't you just hold the fucking water apart with the wind, Ororo!?" h=
e'd screamed at her one day out of the blue. "Why didn't you freeze it!?"
" Ororo was too shocked to respond.
"Why didn't you do anything but stand there worrying about your next hair a=
"You just wanted to be the only woman here, was that it? You were always je=
alous of Jean because she was prettier and smarter, and especially when Loga=
n began to like her
"Cut it out!" Ororo hadn't expected Logan, of all people, to jump to her de=
fense, but there he was, storming around the corner. He grabbed Scott by the=
collar and slammed him against the wall. "You heard what Chuck said! There =
was nothing we could do, so just get off of `Ro's ass!"
Logan. If Scott was still moody some three months after the passing of his =
girlfriend, Logan was far more so. Ororo seemed to be the only one that Log=
an was comfortable talking to lately, but all he wanted to talk about was Je=
an. Ororo honestly thought that Logan had gotten over Jean, even before her =
death. But late night conversations with the Canuck proved that if anything,=
Logan's love for a dead woman was bordering on obsession, and it made Ororo=
more than uncomfortable.
Why, oh why am I the one he feels that he can unburden himself to? Still, i=
f I can help out however I can
On top of all that, she had gotten no sleep the night before, and it was al=
l because of Logan. She had met last night with the mutant known as Mystique=
, against her better judgment. Ororo hated to admit it to herself, but with =
Jean's absence, she was starved for another adult female interaction; even t=
he illusion of companionship, even if it just for a little while. Raven Dark=
holme sat across from Ororo in her "Grace" form, her dark brown eyes wet wit=
h tears. Tears of all things, coming from Mystique. "Thanks for meeting me h=
ere," she said quietly. "I didn't know who else to turn to, so I called you
"I am glad you chose to turn to me, Raven." Mystique made a face, wondering=
how in the world Ororo knew her given name. Nosy bitch, she thought. Ororo =
sipped her iced tea, trying not to pay attention to the fact that Mystique w=
as on her third beer and Ororo had just arrived at Harry's Hideaway. "Despit=
e our past history, you can talk to me whenever you need to. One day, I hope=
that the two of us can become friends."
"Yeah, well. I'm not that drunk. No offense," she added as a cloud-colored =
eyebrow disappeared behind Ororo's bangs. "Look, it's about Logan. I know th=
e two of you are friends, and I'm having problems with him
"So you and Logan are in a relationship?" Ororo asked, trying to hide her s=
urprise and failing miserably.
"Relationship." Mystique scoffed, then drained her Budweiser and ordered an=
other. "We're just fucking, `Ro. Don't tell me that's too harsh of a word fo=
r your virgin ears," she added when Ororo couldn't mask the shock from her f=
ace. "You a virgin, Storm?"
"I believe we are discussing your sex life, not mine." Ororo gritted her te=
eth. "You were saying about Logan
"Shit, Logan. He'll kiss and cuddle me. He's amazing in bed. Fuck, he'll ev=
en tell me he loves me, but only if
"If I'm Jean."
Ororo sat down her drinking glass, praying to every god that could hear her=
that she didn't shatter one of the many empty beer bottles on the table and=
drag the jagged glass across Mystique's face. "You have sex with Logan in t=
he form of a dead woman? In the form of my best friend?" She breathed deeply=
, praying that she wouldn't break into tears, but the words drummed in her h=
ead over and over. How could you, Mystique? How could even you stoop that lo=
w? "What do you want me to say to that?"
"I'm not interested in what you think about it-"
"Then why am I here?"
"Because-because I want him to stop this!" Mystique took a long swallow of =
her beer before she spoke again. "Jean is dead! And I know it sucks for all =
of you. But damn it, she's dead and I don't see why I should have to continu=
e this shitty little wet dream of his!"
"Then why continue this charade, Raven? Weren't you the very one who told K=
urt that you shouldn't have to be someone that you are not? You're not Jean =
Grey, and you will never be half the woman she was-"
"Fuck you, Silver Top!" Mystique sat up, her eyes blazing. "At least I'm ge=
tting some on a regular basis." She sat back, a cruel twisted smile on her f=
ace. "All you've got is your Super-Twirl-Spin-&-Vibrate."
"Raven, do not take this the wrong way," Ororo replied through clenched tee=
th. "But you are the woman who is morphing into another woman just so that a=
man can have sex with you. You are the last woman I would come to for roman=
tic advice. Do not look down on me because I've chosen to be chaste."
"Have you chosen?" Mystique spat. "Or have the men around you chosen for yo=
"Better to be in my own body and be chaste than to be someone else just to =
have an orgasm. If that," Ororo added, rising to her feet. "I'm not in the p=
rocess of being used. Good night, Raven."
"Don't you look down on me, you pagan bitch," Mystique slurred as Ororo was=
leaving. "You don't know what it's like to be lonely, goddess."
Ororo froze mid-stride, and turned back to face Mystique, the expression in=
her eyes a mixture of disgust, pity, and surprisingly, empathy. "You'd be =
surprised at how much I know about loneliness, Mystique." Without waiting =
for a response, she turned sharply and headed back to the mansion.
Now Scott stood before Ororo, shuffling from foot to foot like a little boy=
. He looked as if he wanted to apologize, but Ororo didn't want to hear his =
voice. She reached out and took his hand. "Scott, could we talk at a later t=
ime? I am in a bit of a hurry. Maybe sometime tonight?" she added when Scot=
t got a perturbed look on his face. Ororo smiled or at least, she thought =
she did and Scott nodded back at her, not looking up. She scurried away fr=
om Scott and up into her attic bedroom before he could say anything else. Go=
ddess forgive her, but she was not prepared to hear Scott's inevitable apolo=
gy, or yet another rambling story of grief from, or worse, another attack. S=
he still loved Scott dearly, but a large part of Ororo felt negligent. She h=
ad always promised Jean that if anything happened to her, that she would tak=
e care of Scott. It was one of Jean's very last thoughts before she drowned =
in Alkali Lake. Take care of Scott, Ororo. And Ororo was doing her best. But=
still, there was a small part of Ororo that was afraid of anything that Sco=
tt would say to her. Because it's the truth and I'm not prepared to face tha=
Even eleven weeks later, the sulfuric stench of the new mutant Nightcrawler=
's bamfing still made Ororo cough violently. "I do wish you'd use the door, =
Kurt," Ororo wheezed, fighting the abrupt urge to vomit.
"So sorry, Windmitfahrer, so sorry." Kurt Wagner grinned widely. "But it's =
easier than putting your door down and climbing up here. I came to inform yo=
u that there's a meeting going on downstairs that you may need to attend. It=
's the entire art department."
A meeting! Ororo wanted to scream, but kept her composure. Her fingers were=
still unattended to, her head was throbbing and her knees were weak. Still,=
she managed to half-whisper, "Thank you, Kurt." Turning away from him, Oror=
o gripped one of the iron posts on her bed and began to breathe deeply.
"Sure thing. I will be more than happy to escort you down Ororo?"
Ororo wasn't listening. She was pressing her cheek against the smooth, cold=
metal on her canopy while Kurt was speaking. Goddess, this feels wonderful.=
"Ororo?" Kurt circled Ororo, facing her. Holding out the two fingers on his=
hand, he began to wave them in front of Ororo's face. Her reactions were tu=
rtle slow, her eyes dragging behind Kurt's movements. Ororo opened her mouth=
to speak, but she couldn't speak over the swelling of her tongue. "Ororo, a=
re you okay?"
She was swaying on her feet, as if any second she would keel over in a dead=
faint. Kurt carefully approached Ororo, taking great pains not to make any =
sudden movements. "Ororo? Come here. You need to lie down in your bed
"I can't lie down," Ororo finally managed to whisper. "I have to go to the =
meeting, and I have a study group with Jean's art history class, and then I =
have to meet Scott because he's so
he's so upset about Jean being gone
hen Logan will probably want to talk to me
" A single tear rolled down Ororo=
's cheek. "I have to be there for him
for all of them
they're my friends
"Who's here for you, Ororo?" Kurt asked gently. "Whom do you talk to when y=
ou're upset?" Ororo didn't answer. Kurt took Ororo's left hand in his, then =
leaned back, horrified at the swollen, bruised fingers and bloody nails. "Or=
oro, when did this happen? What happened?"
"Oh. I had an accident, I
" Tiny tears rolled down Ororo's cheeks. "I was j=
ust being clumsy
"Oh, liebchen. Come here, love." Kurt squeezed Ororo tightly, even tighter =
than he had the day he had to teleport them both into the mock Cerebro at Al=
kali Lake. "It's okay. Everything's going to be okay, Ororo. Just talk to me=
. Tell me everything that's on your mind. The meeting can wait."
she was my best friend, Kurt! My best friend! We've known each other s=
ince we were fifteen! And she's gone, Kurt. It's my fault." To Kurt's horror=
, Ororo didn't calm down. Her breath was coming too fast, and soon she was h=
iccupping and babbling. "I've gone over that scene in my head a hundred time=
s. There were so many things that I could've done and didn't! I wasn't there=
for my best friend when she needed me the most!"
"Ororo, you had saved the world just ten minutes prior. I was there, rememb=
er? Got frostbite on my tail." Kurt wagged the thin, blue appendage. "It was=
not your fault. Jean made a choice, and she made it knowing that you would =
be able to live with that choice." Kurt brushed a lock of hair from Ororo's =
face, then froze. "Ororo, dear, you're burning up! You need to lie down. You=
're not well!" he added as Ororo threw him a look of disdain. "I order you t=
Ororo had collapsed, her smooth chocolate skin turning an ashen shade just =
as Logan crawled into Ororo's attic loft. "What's wrong with Ororo?" he aske=
d, surprised to find her on the ground shaking.
" Ororo mumbled, curling into a fetal position. "Why am I so col=
Cold? Kurt thought, kneeling by Ororo's side. But her skin is so hot!
"Storm!" Scott Summers poked his head in the doorway. "We have a meeting in=
five minutes what is she doing? Tell her to get up!"
"Get up?" Kurt glared at Scott. "Get up? She is sick! She needs to be resti=
ng, not rushing to another meeting!"
"Kurt, if something is wrong with Ororo, she needs to be in the infirmary-"=
"Get away from her!" Kurt found himself screaming. "Get away from her! You =
selfish pigs, don't you come near her! Sie schmutzige Schweine!" Kurt bamfed=
over to her barely conscious figure still slumped on the ground. "I'll take=
care of her, not you and not that new doctor in the infirmary! You never ca=
red about her!" He crouched over Ororo, pulling her close to him with his ta=
il. "None of you care, not unless she's taking care of one of you and listen=
to you cry on her shoulder like little boys!"
"Kurt-" Logan began.
"You go now! You stay away from her!" Kurt crouched into a fighting positio=
n, drawing his lips back into a ferocious snarl. His white fangs gleamed in =
the light before he suddenly disappeared. BAMF! He was behind Logan, and wit=
h a mighty thrust of his legs, Kurt kicked Logan square in the small of his =
back. He heard Logan howl in embarrassment and anger as his adamantium-laced=
body flew out of the attic door and crashed through the soft wood
two more stories.
Kurt whirled around to Scott, who held his hands up. "Hey, I can take a hin=
t." He disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. Kurt remained on the ground=
, breathing heavily. I'll take care of her. I'll take care of Ororo, not the=
m. Kurt gently lifted Ororo from the ground, pulling her close to his chest =
before placing her in her bed. "Wha
what are you doing?" Ororo mumbled. "Wha=
t are you
I need to get to the meeting
"Nein. You'll do no such. To bed you go."
"Mmmm." Ororo closed her eyes and didn't move, her face a sickly shade of b=
I am going to make you more comfortable to the best of my abi=
lity, okay?" Ororo nodded and didn't open her eyes. With trembling hands, Ku=
rt carefully undressed Ororo down to her undergarments a simple white cott=
on bra and brief white panties to match. Her skin was hot and dry to the tou=
and oh, so soft
Kurt stood back, admiring the African woman's beauty, the=
n rushed to Ororo's bathroom to fetch a cool cloth for the tired woman's hea=
It was truly the bathroom of a goddess, with lush, exotic plants and expens=
ive-looking oils in small glass bottles. Kurt ran a finger across one of Oro=
ro's towels, and was stunned to feel such softness. Slowly, with eyes closed=
, Kurt brought the Egyptian cotton to his face and inhaled deeply. The scent=
of sandalwood filled his nostrils, and Kurt smiled. Of course she would sme=
ll as beautiful as she looked
as beautiful as she was. Kurt quickly dropped =
the towel and picked up a washcloth, rinsing it with cold water and wringing=
out the excess.
When Kurt returned to Ororo's bedroom, he was surprised to see her sitting =
up. Her bare shoulders peeped out from underneath the silk sheets, and it da=
wned on Kurt that she had removed her bra
and possibly her underwear as well=
. "Hey, Kurt," Ororo called weakly, drawing her knees to her chest.
"Ororo! You should be lying down, you naughty girl. Lie down this instant."=
Kurt crossed the spacious attic and dared to pull up a chair next to Ororo'=
s bed. "How are you feeling? Better, I hope. Are you hungry? Cold? I can
I screwed up, didn't I?" Ororo asked, her eyes half-lidded in fatigue. "=
I let everybody down. Just like that day. I froze up. I didn't think, and it=
cost Jean her life."
"It's your time to rest, Windmitfahrer. You are exhausted that is why you=
"Did I collapse?" Ororo asked, her confusion genuine. "When?"
"My goodness, you don't even remember! No meeting and no school for you, Mi=
ss Munroe, for at least a week. Nothing but good food and lots of rest." Kur=
t took Ororo's injured hand in his. "Seriously, Ororo. You don't need to car=
ry the weight of this school on your shoulders. You're not a goddess anymore=
. They're not your responsibility. Your main responsibility should be your h=
ealth and your well-being."
Ororo stiffened. "How...how did you know I was a goddess?"
"Because I took the time to find out. Don't you worry about them, Ororo. Yo=
u rest. I'll take care of you." Kurt's demon-like fingers ran through Ororo'=
s snow-white tresses.
"That's so sweet, Kurt, but
you don't have to. I can take care of myself." =
"I know you can, liebchen. But this time around, I will take care of you." =
Kurt kissed Ororo's hand. "I'll always take care of you, because you once to=
ok care of me. You're my friend and I love you, Ororo. I just want to see yo=
Ororo gave a faint smile, and her chocolate doe eyes disappeared behind hea=
vy eyelids. Kurt pressed the damp washcloth in his hand and pressed it to he=
r forehead, carefully blotting the sweat from her face. Once he was finished=
with that, he rummaged around in Ororo's medicine cabinet for some gauze an=
d peroxide to take care of her hand. Intertwining her slender fingers with h=
is, Kurt leaned over her sleeping frame and sang in his thick German accent,=
just loudly enough for Ororo to hear:
"Lean on me
When you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Until I'm going to need
Somebody to lean on."