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Fic: Home (part 1) (post X3, Hank/Ororo)

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  • Cy Panache
    Title: Home (part 1) Chapter: Invitation to Return Author: Panache Rating: K+ Characters: Beast, Storm (with possible romantic undercurrents) Summary: In the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31 7:54 PM
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      Title: Home (part 1)
      Chapter: Invitation to Return
      Author: Panache
      Rating: K+
      Characters: Beast, Storm (with possible romantic
      undercurrents)
      Summary: In the wake of the events of X3, old
      friendships take on new importance.
      WARNINGS: Spoilers for X-Men: The Last Stand
      Disclaimer: Someone else's sandbox I just play here
      because they have better toys.
      Feedback: Please. The natives will dance in your
      honor.
      Archiving: Want, Take, Have. Just tell me so I can go
      gloat.
      Author’s Notes: This is only my second X-men fanfic,
      and my first with these characters. I would appreciate
      all comments you have, particularly since I have two
      additional chapters planned

      - + - + - + - + -

      She should have recognized him, but it had been so
      long . . . and anymore the sight of a stranger in the
      mansion was nothing but cause for panic. She had
      neither the Professor’s ability to sense every
      presence, nor Logan’s razor sharp sense of smell, so
      really she’d had no choice but to go chasing after
      him. After all the safety of the children was her
      responsibility.

      It didn’t make her feel any less ashamed.

      At her sharp “Excuse me!” he’d turned, unsurprised and
      unconcerned, even though she could hear the crackle of
      power in her voice. She should have know then, seen
      him in the quirk of an eyebrow or the easy, charming
      smile, such a welcome relief in a place where smiles
      always seemed in short supply. His hair was the same
      shade of rich chocolate, perhaps beginning to make a
      strategic retreat from his forehead and certainly
      newly streaked with gray, but still she had spent many
      of her first nights here standing in the shadow of his
      doorway, listening to the alternately turbulent and
      soothing strains of the Rolling Stones juxtaposed
      against Vivaldi, and watching that fine head of hair
      for any sign that he knew of her presence, prepared to
      slip away in an instant, to avoid being drawn into yet
      another espousal of propaganda.

      It hadn’t been until the night he’d left and his music
      collection had materialized on her bed, that she
      realized how many times she’d been caught.

      Yes, if she’d noticed his hair or even taken a moment
      to meet those shockingly blue eyes, she would have
      known. But her attention wasn’t on his face. Instead
      her eyes were riveted on his hands, or more
      specifically, what he held there.

      Ororo had to curl her fist to keep from lashing out
      then and there at the sight of Jimmy’s pale form in
      his arms. Instead there was a simultaneous crack of
      thunder and flash of lightening, illuminating the
      hallway. Still, he remained unperturbed.

      “I’m sorry, my dear, was there something you needed?”

      In the end it was the cultured voice that stopped her
      cold, that marvelous, gentle but commanding
      baritone—the one thing his mutation had spared, left
      unchanged. Recognition seeping through thunderous
      rage, Storm found herself grateful for the darkened
      corridor and Hank’s terrible eyesight.

      Thankfully at that moment, Leech stirred slightly
      drawing his knowing gaze away from her acute
      embarrassment. “Dr. McCoy?”

      Beast looked down at his young charge, his normally
      leonine grin, now a disconcertingly, beautifully human
      smile. “It’s alright son. I am afraid that we may have
      inadvertently violated your curfew, but perhaps Ms.
      Munroe will not hold it against us for too long?”

      Diplomatic to the end, he made it a question, leaving
      the final say on a school matter to its headmistress,
      though both of them knew what her answer would be.

      She longed to retort with something snarky about
      punishing Henry for his corrupting influence, to
      engage in a bit of intelligent adult banter even with
      someone whose sense of humor far outstripped her own,
      but she was aware of Jimmy’s pleading eyes on her, the
      slight flush of dread in his cheeks. The boy needed
      this, needed her approval of this relationship.
      Nothing, if not painfully aware of his own fragile
      place in the mutant community, he needed to be told
      that this one miraculous piece of good fortune was
      truly what it seemed.

      “Yes, of course.” She smiled down at Jimmy and leaned
      in to whisper conspiratorially, “But, I’ll need your
      promise not to brag. Not everyone can capture the
      Ambassador’s attention so completely.”

      “Well, it’s not everyone who can show me how to reach
      the end of Final Fantasy.”

      Jimmy’s face lit with the self-satisfied grin of a
      child who has just taught an elder something. “He was
      stuck.”

      “Woefully behind the times,” Hank amended.

      “Stuck.”

      This was obviously an old argument. Ororo intervened
      before it escalated. “Whatever you may or may not have
      been, though I’m certain Jimmy’s right and you were
      stuck . . .” This time she caught the wry, quirked
      eyebrow. “It is way past curfew, so get to bed or I
      promise dire consequences for you both.”

      “Jimmy, your first lesson in politics, diplomacy, and
      survival, never refuse the command of a lady,
      particularly not one as powerful and breathtaking as
      your headmistress.” With that Henry McCoy straightened
      to his full, and still fairly impressive, height, and
      clicking his heels together, managed an abbreviated
      bow before turning to pad down the hallway to the
      young mutant’s room.

      It wasn’t until it sunk in with her how silently he
      moved, that Ororo looked down and glimpsed Hank’s
      bare-feet peaking out from the cuffs his well-cut
      trousers.

      The sight made her smile.

      - + - + - + - + - + -

      She was waiting by his car when he came down, the
      smile on her face almost parental in its exasperated
      amusement. Perhaps leaping turret to turret and
      swinging off the ivy before somersaulting down to the
      gravel was a bit showy, but it would be a long time
      before he could indulge in such acrobatic pyrotechnics
      again. Not exactly fitting behavior for an Ambassador
      to the UN.

      Besides Ororo was gracious in her amusement, clapping
      softly as he landed. A nice change from his driver,
      who hadn’t even looked up from his paper, simply
      extended the hand-crafted Italian shoes out the
      window, by now immune to any overt displays of power
      by his employer. It was, of course, one of the reasons
      McCoy kept him, but every once in awhile it was nice
      to have an appreciative audience.

      Straightening, he still looked down, ostensibly to
      brush at the cuffs of his now perfectly fitted suit,
      but in truth, he found Ororo’s presence disconcerting.
      It had been one thing in the shadowy hallway, with
      young Jimmy to think about, all his focus trained on
      maintaining the pretext of normality for his small
      friend, on pretending that reverting to a purely human
      form meant little to him one way or another. But now,
      out here in the cloudless night, which might or might
      not have been her doing, illuminated by the natural,
      but uncomfortably radiant, full moon, he felt
      unaccountably naked, laid bare before her majestic
      implacability.

      Oh my dear you grow too like Charles with every
      passing day.

      “Was there something you truly needed, Ororo?” The
      question was brusque, a busy man with millions of
      other things to think about—out with it, and so forth.
      Of course, it had little effect on a woman who had
      once been worshiped as a goddess, and had seen him
      dancing to the Stones in cutoffs and a Hawaiian shirt.

      “About Jimmy . . .”

      “Yes, I am terribly sorry about that, I promise it
      won’t--”

      She stopped him with a gentle hand on his forearm.
      “Thank you.”

      He looked at her now, startled at the absolute
      gratitude in those words. Ororo Munroe was not an easy
      woman, patient to the extreme, but as slow to grant
      praise or thanks, as she was to anger or chastise.

      Now though as she looked up at him in the moonlight,
      he didn’t need his reading glasses to see the weight
      of the burden she’d shouldered or the toll it was
      taking. Her usually calm façade, as undisturbed as
      those blue skies she could call forth at will, was
      tight, shadowed with the clouds of too many
      responsibilities.

      As though newly aware of just how much the strain
      shown through, she stepped away and turned to look up
      at the moon, a habit he recognized from their school
      days. They all seemed to turn a little inward, to seek
      out their particular powers, and draw on those
      strengths when the burden of simple human things grew
      too great.

      “Jimmy’s situation is . . .” She caste about for the
      right word, something appropriately diplomatic he
      supposed, but in the end Ororo always called a spade a
      spade. “It’s difficult, Hank. We’ve always used our
      powers to teach the children, to help them learn
      control . . .”

      “And by his very nature, he deprives you of your best
      teaching tool.”

      Ororo let out a breath of relief. “Exactly. Not only
      that, but the other children, well, it’s difficult
      enough to get used to having powers . . .”

      She didn’t complete the sentence, but her meaning was
      clear. Here, students learned to take their powers
      inward, weave them into the very fabric of their
      perception of the world. For many being around Jimmy,
      would be like going suddenly blind. Even as he took
      this in, his mind flicked back to the hallway, to
      Ororo standing back at the very fringes of the boy's
      range. Perhaps it was not only the children who were
      having trouble adjusting to the new student.

      Laying a hand on her shoulder, both in support, and
      possibly absolution, he murmured, “You have surmounted
      greater obstacles, Ororo.”

      He didn’t see the wan smile, as her hand moved to
      cover his own. “We have surmounted greater obstacles.
      I’m not sure he ever prepared any of us to stand
      alone. The team was all to him. You know, he never
      really forgave you for leaving.”

      There was no question as to who he was. “The less
      traveled road, my dear. Someone had to try it.”

      “And has it made all the difference?”

      “I don’t really know, perhaps when one looks back at
      the end.” It was an old discussion, an argument he’d
      tread too many times. Did working from the inside make
      it any better, or simply provide the dangerous
      illusion of progress? He was so used to the curves
      that he wasn’t prepared for the detour.

      “I never really forgave you for leaving either.” It
      was a soft admission, probably not meant to truly be
      heard, but his hearing had always been keener than she
      gave him credit for. Her acquisition of his music
      collection was testament to that.

      They stood for a moment in the moonlight, the soft
      spell of memory holding them prisoner in the shadow of
      this place which had meant so many things to each, but
      it had always been about more than the place for
      either of them, and one by one they were losing those
      connections, so if they clung a little tighter than
      necessary to what, to who was left well was that
      really all that surprising?

      In the end, it was Ororo who reclaimed herself first.
      Patting his hand in a gentle, but absolute dismissal,
      she stepped away, and turned to smile at him, once
      again, the beneficent, untouchable goddess. “You
      should come back more frequently. We’re not so far
      away from New York, you know. It would mean a lot . .
      . to Jimmy.”

      “Yes, well, the next time I know there’s some time in
      my schedule, I’ll be sure to contact you.” Lord, could
      he sound like any more of a stuffed-shirt?

      She laughed and stepping forward to the barrier
      created by the open car door, reached up to tug
      teasingly at his whiskers. “Don’t be ridiculous, this
      is home. You don’t need an appointment.” The
      affectionate gesture softened to a caress, as she
      whispered, “Just come home, Henry.”

      - + - + - + - + - + -

      Comments and Criticism always appreciated.

      Panache

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