Author: Trismegistus (katetshoni@...
Title: Some Rain Must Fall
Rating: PG (well, PG-13 for cussing, but who really counts that, right?)
Disclaimer: If you think that I own anybody written about herein, you need a visit from the clue fairy.
Summary: When Jeannie met Stormy.
Notes: Written for the X-Men Movie Ficathon (http://www.livejournal.com/community/xmmficathon/)
. Krispies requested Jean and Storm meeting for the first time.
Ororo Munroe, nineteen years old, formerly of Cairo, Illinois and presently of nowhere in particular at all, sporting a fauxhawk short on the sides and long on the top and tricked out in a leather jacket and matching studded leather bracelets, amateur photographer, covergirl for Chicago-based punk rockers Hypodermic Stasis' self-titled debut album, recently reformed would-be possibly master thief and living legend in her own mind, stood in the headmaster's office of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (present enrollment of aforementioned gifted youngsters: four), staring down the bridge of her nose at the school's proprietor, Professor Charles Francis Xavier.
"So what you're saying is," she said slowly, evenly, "all this here you're offering me. It's all free."
The bald white dude nodded.
"All of it. As in I don't gotta pay a cent back to you for any of it. Just cause I can make the wind dog at my heels. Just cause I'm this--what'd you call it?"
"'Mutant' is the term my colleagues and I are trying to foreground."
Ororo arched an eyebrow. "Yeah. That. Whatever. Just cause you think I'm this, whatever."
The bald white dude nodded again.
Ororo crossed her arms over her chest. "Room, board, food, books, clothing, electricity, utilities, water, power, phone bill, toilet paper and miscellaneous magazines and maybe posting bail?"
The bald white dude sighed. He pressed two fingers to the side of his head.
"Ms. Munroe. I thought we'd discussed--"
She cut him off with a peremptory wave of her hand.
"Yeah, yeah, we discussed, we discussed," she said.
She stuck her thumbs through the front two beltloops of her pants, rocked back on the balls of her feet. She nodded, slow and lazy, just like bald whi--just like Xavier did a few seconds ago, and if she was mocking him just a little right there then maybe he didn't mind, and if she wasn't, well, that was okay too.
"All right. Cool."
And that was that.
"--And this is Jean."
She'd already met the three boys (cute, all of them, and in that Warren's case, sinfully so), and now she was meeting the much-discussed Jean Grey. Twenty-three, a resident at Columbia Medical who came home on the weekends. Real fucking Partridge Family.
Xavier had just finished up giving Ororo the tour of the place. Nice. Not that Ororo was seriously thinking it, but she could really pull some bank if she fenced half the stuff that she--
The Jean girl frowned, crossed her arms over her shoulders. She narrowed her eyes at Ororo. Ororo stepped up, cocked her head.
"She's not serious, Jean," Xavier said reproachfully.
"I know, but still."
Jean sighed. "Sorry, just--been one of those days."
Xavier's face softened. "Would you like me to--"
Jean cut him off with a wave of her hand. "No, it's all right." She managed what Ororo thought looked like a brave smile. "I can deal."
Ororo wondered just what it was that she had to deal with, but then they were in the kitchen, and ice cream was involved, and she, quite frankly, forgot to ask.
"Where's the sprinkles?"
"They're over there." Jean jabbed her chin at a cabinet.
Ororo stuck her head into the cabinet. She shoved aside a few dried goods--Spam? Who the fuck ate Spam here?--reached in, pulled out what felt to be a right-sized bottle.
"What's this? Honey-flavored syrup?"
Jean glanced over her shoulder. "Oh. That. Warren's allergic to honey, so his parents send him that in the mail. It's from somewhere in Colorado. Pretty good, better than most of the real stuff."
Just then Warren walked past the kitchen, like he was called by Ororo and Jean ransacking his honey syrup stash. Hank and Scott were with him, a three-point offensive that pushed through the world. Hank, big and boisterous and expansive, bounced off the walls. Scott was a little more subdued, shifty, kept himself a step or two behind Hank and Warren. They were tossing a basketball back and forth. Scott fumbled a catch, laughed a little self-deprecatingly as he scampered off to retrieve the ball. Warren was stripped bare to the waist. The sun, streaming its beams through the mansion's windows, worshipped his shoulders. His wings trailed behind him like a wedding train.
Ororo pursed her lips. She jutted out her chin when Warren waved at them. After the boys had passed, she turned to Jean and said, "He always like that?"
Jean lifted an eyebrow. "Like what?"
"Like--you know." Ororo flitted a hand in the air. "Cocky. Like, walking around all shirtless and shit. I mean, hell yeah, he's got nothing to be ashamed of, got that whole blond pretty-boy thing going on. And those wings are pretty fucking hot. But still." Ororo grinned around a mouthful of ice cream. "There's ladies present now, you know?"
Jean stared at her. "He can't wear shirts unless he's got a harness strapped on, and even then it's pretty obvious that Warren's packing something not normal. Otherwise, those 'pretty fucking hot' wings tear his clothes apart." She mimed the slow, powerful beating of wings with her hands. "Every time he tries to pass in public, he's in agony."
"Oh." Ororo stared at her fingernails, bitten down to the quick.
"It's all right, you didn't know."
"I wasn't apologizing," Ororo said automatically. Then, she softened. "All right, yeah. I'm sorry. Shit. There's a lot to learn about this whole mutie thing."
Jean's face darkened. "Mutant. We're not muties."
Ororo shifted on the counter.
"Ahh, Warren's not my type anyway. Guy knows he's hot shit. Personally, I like'em better when they don't know how pretty they are." Pause. "Like Scott."
To her credit, Jean didn't choke so much as linger, spoon held fast in her mouth, when Ororo said that.
"Scott? Scott's _sixteen_."
"Practically a man."
"So?" Ororo crossed her legs at the ankles. "Boy's got cheekbones that won't quit. Don't say you've never caught yourself staring."
"He's like a little brother to me."
Ororo shrugged. "That's your hang-up, then, you know?" She winked.
They were quiet again for a moment.
"Nice lips, though, you gotta admit."
"Who do you think?" Ororo smirked. "The glasses're kinda cute, too."
Jean shoved her spoon deep into her ice cream.
She was a little surprised that Jean wasn't all, oh hell no, you're not twenty-one, but really, the only problem that Ororo had convincing Jean to take her out for a drink was the question of whose car to take. When she put her mind to it, though, Ororo had to admit, the girl caved with style.
They were tearing up about a hundred million miles of highway in one of Warren's cars, the pretty little silver Coupe with the top-down and the built-in car phone (built in, how fucking fancy was that?). Overhead, the tips of trees just touched against one another, like nervous schoolboys and schoolgirls holding hands for the first time. The moon played peek-a-boo through their branches.
"So you swear this Harry's place is cool?"
"Mostly," Jean replied, over the roar of the wind. "It can get kind of seedy this late at night. But, hell. Harry's the only barman in a fifty-mile radius who's gullible enough to believe that Scott's twenty-one, bless his little heart."
"Whose heart, Harry's or Scooter's?" Ororo teased.
Jean just rolled her eyes. The speedometer rose from 70 to 75.
The bar was kind of cool. Cute. Had tacky old movie posters hanging from the wall, a fake stuffed alligator's head over the beer tap (at least, Ororo _hoped_ it was fake).
They took a table near the back, away from the bar's only other patrons, a group of Greek letter-bearing college boys. Jean lifted a hand in greeting as they entered the bar. The barman--Harry, had to be; no other name would've fit the giant of a man who was wiping down the bartop.
"He a mutant too?" Ororo fake-whispered as they slid into their seats.
"Harry? Nah, not unless you count clearing a bar full of deadbeats and barflies in ten seconds flat a mutation."
"Hey, there's them who'd kill for that power."
They ordered drinks--Jean a Heineken, Ororo a Dr. Pepper--and sat and watched the frat boys in the corner try to bounce quarters off one another's foreheads.
"Boys," Ororo said, shaking her head.
"Boys," Jean agreed, and Ororo knew that she knew exactly what Ororo meant.
Their drinks came, and Jean popped her top off with far too much comfort for somebody who was wrenching a bottlecap off with her bare hand. Ororo grinned.
"Must be nice being telekinetic," Ororo said. She held her bottle out to Jean. The top flew off and ricocheted into the corner.
"It's got its perks."
They drank in silence for a while, listening to the gorilla brigade ook and eek. Jean shared a wink with Harry, who flashed them both a self-deprecating grin before going back to cleaning the bar.
"So how're you liking your time here so far?" Jean asked.
Ororo shrugged. "S'all right," she said. "Two months is kind of longer than I'm used to sticking around for, but it's not so bad."
"The Professor says you haven't been to classes once yet."
Ororo scowled. "He talk about me behind my back?"
"No, he's just worried. He's not going to _force_ you to attend classes, of course, you're nineteen and more than capable of deciding whether you want to pursue your high school diploma, but--"
"Who said I don't have it?"
Jean gave Ororo a look: bitch, please.
After a second, Ororo grinned. "Yeah, all right. Whatever. So I spend more time in the greenhouse than in the classroom. Hell, Xavier's getting a groundskeeper out of the bargain."
"The Professor provides everything for you."
"I'm not a charity case," Ororo said proudly. "I'm just laying low, till--"
"Till what? Till you get caught with your hand in somebody else's pocket?"
Ororo glared. "Not what I was gonna say."
"Can't lie to a telepath, Ororo."
"Fuck that shit." She wished that she'd had the balls to order a beer after all.
Jean thumbed up and down the shaft of her beer. "You ever think about giving something back?"
"Pft. Please." Ororo took a long pull off her Dr. Pepper. "Don't try that shit on me. I'm a seventeen-year-old runaway, I don't exactly got a sterling resume backing me and giving me teaching cred."
Jean watched the amber fluid slosh around in her bottle. "I'm upper-middle class, from Annadale-on-Hudson. Warren's parents are so rich they don't even make the Fortune 500. But Hank's mom is a single parent, and when he first got here he had been wearing the same ratty old sneakers that he'd owned for the three years prior, duct-taped around his feet."
"Jean," Ororo began, suddenly uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going.
"Scott's an orphan, too," Jean continued, right on top of Ororo's objection. "He was--the Professor found him working the streets of San Francisco. That was a year ago. He was fifteen."
"Jesus," Ororo breathed. From watching Scott knuckle his forehead when he was trying a particularly difficult geometry problem or elbow Hank in the side while they were playing ball, she never would have guessed.
"Yeah, exactly." Jean shook her head. "Out of a sample of five students so far, only two of us come from families that make more than the median national income. The Professor thinks this is going to hold, and I trust him. Mutants are the next generation of street dwellers. Already, we're hearing reports about a massive enclave of mutants living somewhere under New York; the Professor can't get a lock on them, but that doesn't mean he doesn't believe they exist. We'll be trying to find as many of them as we can, pulling them together and helping them get back on their feet, but we have to give them a reason to trust us. We have to give them a reason to believe that we mean well."
"Still," Ororo said defiantly, "don't see why you need me. You all do a fine enough job on your own."
"What was your first reaction when the Professor told you what he wanted?"
Ororo fell silent. The treacherous thought had already shoved its way to the forefront of her mind: _another damn rich white guy, sticking his nose where it didn't belong._
Jean smiled a lemonade smile. "Exactly. Warren, the Professor and I don't exactly make the best impression to some kid come running in off the streets. But you guys, you're proof that the Professor's an honest guy."
"I'll think about it," Ororo said after a while. Jean just nodded and leaned back in her chair.
So that was why she'd agreed to take Ororo out tonight. Tricky bitch.
Soon as she thought it, Jean's lips curved in a smile.
"Damn right I am," she said. She reached into her wallet and pulled out a twenty. "Now go get us another round. I'll be right back, I'm going to use the restroom."
So saying, she got up out of her chair and walked, more than a little unevenly, to the bathroom. Well, hell. Looked like Ororo was driving back home tonight.
Ororo walked up to the bar and smiled winsomely at Harry. Harry winked back, stepped into the back room to fetch more drinks--he'd already started locking down for the night.
Ororo waited at the bar alone. She hummed a little song under her breath. Somebody came around, placed his big, ugly hand at the small of Ororo's back.
"Ain't you a little young to be in here without a chaperone?" the guy said. His breath assaulted her, drove itself up her nose and down her throat till she could taste the alcohol-sweet texture of his exhalations on her tongue.
Just then, Jean came out of the bathroom, wiping her hands on her jeans. She glanced over at Ororo with the guy all riding up on her, and she narrowed her eyes. Oh shit, Ororo thought. It was just gonna be like in some kung-fu movie, when the little guy got all quiet just before he went ape-shit and Bruce Lee had to smack some sense into him to get him calmed down, she could tell already.
The bottles lining the back of the bar exploded, like dominos falling in line. Shrapnel flew out, embedded in wood and metal and flesh. The big guy who'd come all up on Ororo fell away, roaring at the top of his lungs, big ham hands wheeling like a windmill's arms.
A gust of wind whipped through the restaurant. It punched two of Big Hairy Frat Guy's friends in the chest, knocked them flat on their asses. The hairs at the back of Ororo's neck stood on end. "Who you calling young, pencil-dick?"
"Fuckin' somebody do something!" B.H.F.G. screamed. He was busy trying to pick shards of glass out of his forearm. Tch. Bad business, that; if he wasn't careful, he was gonna slice up his arm real good. Too bad for him.
Harry coughed. Suddenly, he was holding a baseball bat in one hand. He really had _big_ muscles for a barman, Ororo thought approvingly. Between him, Jean pulling her Carrie-at-the-prom act and Ororo with the big hoops through her ears and the fauxhawk rising from her head like a shark's fin, Ororo thought that the guy was pretty damn smart to leave while his legs could still carry him.
After the frat boys had left, Harry shook his head and sighed. He put the baseball bat away and said, "Jeannie, I--"
Jean winced. "I know, I know. You can send the bill to the Professor."
Ororo cocked her head. She surveyed the damage. Nothing major, a few broken chairs, some beers spilled on the floor, a bunch of bottles busted up and turned into confetti. She waved happily at Harry as they left. "This happen often when you go out in public, Miss Grey?"
Jean slid into the passenger seat of Warren's car. "See? I told you that this was a bad idea. A beer really wasn't worth all this."
From the twitch of her lips, though, Ororo saw that Jean didn't mean a single damn word.
The next day, Ororo got up extra early. She flattened her hair and pulled it back in a loose ponytail, took off the bracelets that cut off the circulation of blood past her wrists. She drew the line at her earrings, though. Dress code or no, she wasn't going to sit in no damn classroom for six hours straight without some of her metal on her.
She sauntered into the classroom a good fifteen minutes early. Hank and Warren and Scott were clustered at a table, oohing and aahing over Warren's new Gameboy. Ororo resisted the urge to smile. Boys.
"What?" she said, when the boys fell silent.
Scott wasn't too good at hiding his expression. Even though he had on those big old ruby-red Ray-Bans, he kept on turning his head back towards Ororo. Warren just stared.
Hank was a little better about it. He grinned at Ororo, and extravagantly cleared a seat for her next to him. She slid into it, and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of surprise on Xavier's face when he wheeled into the room.
"Now, where were we?" he said, not missing a beat. He opened a book and called out a few numbers, and after a while Ororo even stopped drawing doodles of Hank and Warren kissing and started taking notes. Huh.
During an argument between Xavier and Warren over whether the government carried an obligation to monitor the expansion of businesses in the private sector, Hank turned to Ororo and said, "We were starting to think that you'd never join us. Welcome to the menagerie, Miss Munroe. Welcome to Mutant High."
"Mutant High, huh?" Ororo leaned back in her seat. She stretched till the vertebrae of her back all popped, one right after the other like a trail of Chinese firecrackers. "I kinda like that name, Mister McCoy."
There was always the beach house, Warren said after a while, like it'd just slipped his mind.
It was Ororo's fourth month at the School, and it was also the 4th of July, so. Paint the picture yourself, she thought. Too bad there were more than four students now, or else they'd have a Vegas jackpot on their hands. Everybody threw cheese doodles at her when she said that, and Ororo found herself throwing them right back.
Warren and Xavier were waiting in the beach house, watching CNN and getting the barbeque ready. Hank said something about sand getting in the Professor's wheels, and Jean told him he'd better watch it with the cleverness or he was going to get sand in places that didn't have axles and weren't so fun to grease. She and Ororo were draped over a pair of beach towels. Hank and Scott were playing something kind of like ultimate frisbee and kind of like World War II, only with fistfuls of sand and a frisbee instead of Panzer tanks and an invading army of doughboys.
Next to Ororo, Jean made no noise. She hadn't made a noise since they'd flung their towels over this patch of the beach, and Ororo was starting to worry. She rolled over onto her back and raised her eyebrows over her sunglasses at Jean. The question she left on the top of her mind, right near the surface, so Jean could snag it without feeling weird.
"There are too many people," Jean whispered. She kept on rubbing the same patch of skin over and over again. She must've ground that sunblock right into her skin.
Ororo thought about this for a while. She watched the crush of people mill around, stupidly. It was pretty crowded. Goddamned American holidays. A beach ball arced overhead, then landed in the ocean. Some fat guy with a serious backhair problem jumbled down after it.
"I can fix that."
She flexed her fingers, all up in the air like she did right before she tried a tricky pinch, and she reached up and tugged at the clouds drifting by. Pulled, like she was untying a double-knotted pair of shoelaces, and waited for the fallout.
The sky opened up like a wound shedding blood.
Ororo cupped her hands, forming a bowl with the curvature of her palms. The rain set her skin to tingling. She gathered the water to her till it overflowed and ran down her arms and sluiced over the length of her body. She wanted to jump up and down and fling herself at the sky to see if she'd stick. The water clung to the strands of her hair in thick, wet cords.
People started screaming. Shit, like they'd never felt a little rain before. All the soccer moms and weekend dads started running, and after a while even Hank and Scott took refuge, ran back to the beach house to join Xavier and Warren. Soon enough the beach was empty, except for Ororo and Jean and the sky bleeding rain. The world was singing around her. The surf said prayers of thanksgiving at her feet. Ororo drank deeply from the sky; she imagined the water sliding around inside of her, through her extremities and on down through the soles of her feet into the thirsty land.
And Jean, slow at first to recognize the gift that Ororo had given her, finally spread her lips in a wide, wide smile. She just laughed and laughed and laughed, dancing in the rain, kicking up huge sprays of wet sand, arms held up high over her head. Like she could keep the rain from touching her if she just kept on moving between the drops. Like the rain wouldn't ever stop washing over her skin.
word�smith�y, noun: a place where words and ideas are worked and tested. also, see http://homepages.nyu.edu/~jmt269/fic.htm.
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