Only a Moment – by Darlin
Disclaimer: I don't own or benefit financially from any of the lovely characters created by Marvel, I'm just glad I can make them do whatever I want them to in my little world.
Ororo Munroe looked at the amethyst crystal on her dresser then looked at her reflection in the mirror without really seeing herself. She had stolen the jewel some time ago, just before she'd met Gambit. She later found out he'd been after it himself but she'd never told him she'd made off with it. It was too powerful to be left in the hands of any weak, self-indulgent person, not that she thought so poorly of Remy, but it was said to have magical powers, that when worn anyone who saw it had to speak the truth for a brief moment. How brief the moment would be she did not know. She did know that she felt slightly wicked today and thought she'd experiment just a little.
Yes, she realized to do this would be completely out of character and something that a weak, self-indulgent person might be tempted to do but she'd given this a lot of thought and she had her reasons. Men. She, who seldom had a man, never quite understood why the men interested in her liked her or why they didn't follow through or just left her. She knew she was beautiful. She knew she was elegant and even regal. She also knew she was just as strong as she was independent. It was easy to evaluate herself in a self-assured way rather than in an egotistical manner. It helped her to maintain her perspective. She knew all these qualities intimidated men and she considered this could actually be the problem.
Take Forge for instance. He had loved her, or so he'd claimed, and perhaps he had at one point since he did come looking for her when everyone else thought she was dead – of course her supposed death had been at his hands thanks to the mess he'd made in Vietnam and the resulting feud with the Adversary – but she was digressing. Forge had loved her and then run from her. Too frightened? Too weak perhaps? Curious thought that and Ororo laughed as she contemplated this. She knew Forge simply felt she could never dedicate herself to anything but the X-Men. He had never given her the chance to tell him otherwise. He'd been wrong.
So many people were wrong about her. Too many people thought she was an actual goddess! That was as tiresome as it was amusing. Goodness, the men that had wanted her because of this belief! Or maybe it was that they saw something else, the actual woman behind the beauty and regal bearing? Dr. Doom had wanted to know her better, as had Akron whom she'd been attracted to at least. Even Dracula, and Loki and Brainchild had wanted her. Worse was that disgusting Horde but then . . . wasn't that just a dream? But what a dream it was. She'd declared it was a good day to die then had kissed Logan because if she had to die she wanted to feel his lips on hers, to taste him one last time. Apparently even in her dreams he was the best there was at kissing. She smiled at the memory then sighed with regret. She wished Logan was one of the men who desired her. As it was, the list went on with Khan being the last crazy admirer. And why was it that mostly only crazies wanted her? Had not Jean and the other's pointed this out to her she never would have thought of it. What did that say about her?
She looked down at the amethyst stone, studied it thoughtfully. It was oval shaped, set in a simple silver casing. Altogether it might even be considered plain but she knew that was the intent. This innocent prize of hers could pry truths from even the little taciturn man she was so fond of. It was so tempting. Even if the truth she suspected was completely wrong. And after all it would help to know if the legend was true, and if so, to what extent. And so she slid the jewel onto a thin, silver chain, an antique she'd bought long ago, then fastened it around her neck, smiled determinedly at her reflection and headed to the media room.
There was only one occupant when she entered the room – one Robert Drake. He was lounging on the couch watching TV with such a bored expression on his face Ororo couldn't help laughing. He looked up and grinned but instead of turning back to whatever he was watching as he normally would have he starred at Ororo with a quizzical look on his young face.
"Oops," Ororo muttered and quickly turned to leave. But it was too late. The gem had been seen.
"Hey, wait up, Ororo!" he cried as he leapt over the back of the couch and raced after her.
"Oh no," she moaned. She hadn't been entirely sure how the magic worked but apparently all she had to do was wear it and who ever looked at her for even just a few seconds would be affected.
Bobby dropped to his knees and with his hands clasped before him wailed, "Storm! Ororo, please, please, please teach me . . . pleasssseeee!"
Ororo fought to control herself as she tried to pull her long summer dress away from Bobby's grasping fingers.
"I know I'm unworthy! I know I'm too young to fully understand but please, Ororo, please don't leave me hanging here! You know so much! I know you know you do! And you know you know everything I need to know, what I should know but don't! You know how to do things I haven't even guessed at with ice and snow! Please show me how, Ororo! Pleasssseeee!"
"Oh dear." Ororo sighed.
The bauble certainly worked its truth for a moment but how much longer could a moment be? Thirty seconds perhaps? She could only hope it wasn't longer as Bobby moaned and . . . and was he crying? She tried to suppress a shudder. This definitely was not what she'd wanted or expected. And Bobby had most definitely not been her intended target.
She closed her eyes as she prayed for patience. But then she opened them wide as she realized this was her own doing and she hurriedly tried to take the necklace off. But Bobby was now hugging her legs and with her back still sore from her injury, her agility not quite up to par, and her dress was so long she was knocked off balance and fell on top of him.
"Whoa! Dat what Remy be missin' when he don't hang out wit' his Stormy now?" Gambit said with a laugh as he came into the room and he stooped down to help her up. But at his touch she screamed so loudly he leapt back.
"What de hell? You hurt, chère?"
"No! Yes! No! Please, Remy you have to go!"
Ororo scrambled out of her friends reach and tried to stand up with her back to him but Remy, concerned, put an arm around her and tried to pull her around so he could make sure she was okay. Only she resisted so forcefully he let her go.
"I'm fine, Remy, just please give us some privacy," she said as she fumbled with the chain trying to unfasten it.
Remy gently moved aside her hair and started to assist her with but she screamed and he jumped back again, confused and greatly perturbed.
"You hurt yo' back again, dat what's wrong wit' you?"
"She's supposed to be helping me now, Gambit! Not you! I saw her first and I need her more than you do. You gotta wait your turn!" Bobby said, throwing his arms around Ororo's legs again.
By now Ororo realized the chain wasn't coming off any more than Bobby was. Somehow she'd it had gotten stuck and whatever magic the gem had lasted a long, long time. Okay. She mentally forced herself to calm down. This could be solved easily she decided. She'd just cover the bauble with her hand and smile prettily at Gambit and make her escape before he could realize what she was wearing and he'd be none the wiser and wouldn't be affected. Gambit stared intently at Ororo when she finally turned around. She was looking as beautiful as ever, he thought, but when didn't she look lovely? She looked didn't look hurt, no wounds, no sign of trauma, no sign of pain on her face. But her hand was covering her upper chest rather suspiciously. He looked from Ororo to Bobby and then his eyebrows shot up. Iceman was clinging to Ororo's ankles now murmuring something over and over.
It sounded like, "Please, please, please, please, please, please, please!" Remy was thoroughly confused.
"Alright, alright, Robert! Yes, I'll teach you all I know. Now please let me go, okay?"
"When? Now? I've got all day!"
"Remy t'ink you need to explain what's goin' on, Stormy 'cause it don't look so good."
"Remy, we will have to talk later and Robert, I will meet with you this evening in the danger room but you have to let me go now," Ororo said quietly as she leaned down and tried to pry Bobby's arms off but he seemed reluctant to let her go.
"There, there, Bobby, be a good boy and stand up. It's alright. Yes, that's it. We'll meet after dinner. Is that acceptable?"
Bobby stood and stuck his tongue out at Remy.
"Well, alrighty." Remy backed away from the young man.
"Do sit down, Bobby and finish your show, or movie or whatever you were watching please," Ororo insisted.
"I can hardly wait till tonight!" Bobby said but he obediently leapt over the back of the couch and sprawled out on the couch again.
Remy followed Ororo out of the room but he almost had to run to keep up with her. He noticed she was tugging at the back of her neck again. What had Bobby done to her?
"Stormy, what's goin' on? You alright?"
"Yes, I told you I'm fine, but I'm in a hurry!"
"Remy can see dat," Remy grumbled as he pulled Ororo to him forcing her to a halt.
Ororo felt her grip loosening as he tugged at her arm and she groaned.
"Ah, Stormy, Stormy! Pas bon, pas bon! I see you been a naughty fille!" Gambit shook his head as if he was disappointed in his friend but he eyed the charm with a look of pure pleasure. "Oh, my bad, bad, little, Stormy!"
He laughed when he looked at her angry face.
"Chère, don' be mad at me! I'm de one who should be mad! You stole dat an' never told me! Oh, I'm only playin' wit' you, Stormy. If someone had to have it den I'm glad it's you. You de only true friend I have."
Ororo backed away from him as she saw Remy's eyes watering. This couldn't possibly be good. How long was a moment supposed to last?
"Stormy, bel ami, I wish you had loved me as I loved you when we were t'gether when we met up wit' de almighty X-Men! You were so beautiful all grown up, so sure of yo'self.
"Rogue, she so wishy washy it drives me crazy! Why couldn't you love me, Stormy? Wasn't I good enough? You know I woulda always taken care of you, never let nothin' happen to you chère. We coulda left here, been happy somewhere, anywhere but here. Here dat Wolverine's always sniffin' around you! I can hardly hang out wit' you cause every time I turn around he's wit' you!"
Ororo closed her eyes and Remy pulled her to him and pressed his forehead to hers. Without thought she found her arms going around him in an attempt to comfort him. She had loved Remy but that was long ago, a childhood crush she'd been determined to deny, too unsure if his natural mutant charm had influenced her. She'd been a child then because of Forge who had caused their deaths until Roma had brought them back to life despite Forge's foolishness with the Adversary. If it hadn't been for Forge she wouldn't have been "killed" again "supposedly" by Havoc and then turned into a child by that Nanny robot and ended up running for her life trying to escape the Shadow King. But she was digressing again.
It was because of Forge that she had met Remy. Remy who had been so kind and helpful, so protective and sweet, always funny and charming. But she was afraid that mutant charm power of his had worked its way with her so badly she couldn't think straight even after she'd been turned back into a grown woman in Genosha. She simply couldn't trust herself. Was it love or was it his mutant ability that had made her think it was? And then there were her feelings for Logan but she had no time to contemplate him for Rogue suddenly came upon her and Remy locked in their embrace.
"What in tarnation's goin' on here?" Rogue demanded, glaring at them, arms akimbo and anger flashing in her green eyes.
Remy and Ororo moved away from each other but neither of them felt at all guilty.
"Rogue, Remy has just helping me take my necklace off, that's all."
Rogue laughed, "Oh! Well, ah didn't think it was what ah thought it was!" And her relief made her laugh again. "Ah'd wring yer neck but good, Swamp Rat, if it had been what ah thought it was! Oooo, that's a purty gewgaw, Ororo, where'd ya get it from. . . . Ororo?"
Ororo wished she'd put on a turtleneck today as she had no way to hide the stone and had forgotten it altogether while Remy had held her.
"Ororo, ah can't blame you if Remy did want you, you're so beautiful an' you're so perfect an' ah'm so unworthy ta be with ya'll. Ah can't compete with you. Ah don't even deserve ta be an X-Man! Ah was so evil an' it was 'cause of me ya lost yer powers! Ah'm soooooo sorry, Ororo! You would never have met Forge an' he'da never dumped you if it weren't for me! You're so wonderful ta forgive me! Yer the best friend ah ever had!" Rogue exclaimed breathlessly and she threw her arms around Ororo's neck and burst into tears.
"Rogue, I can't believe you feel dat way!" Remy said as he pulled Rogue off of Ororo.
"Why? It's the truth. Ah know you think Ororo's better 'n me. She's everythin' ah ain't!"
"Well, dat's true, Stormy's pretty much perfect but you an' me – we're two of a kind, chère. We both done bad t'ings but we overcame it all! We're better people now – an' we're both no less worthy of being X-Men dan any of de others."
"You really mean it, Remy?"
"Wit' all my heart, Rogue, despite de way you play wit' it chère."
"Oh, Remy ah do play with yer heart but it's because ah'm so scared," Rogue said and started crying again.
"Chère, you got nothin' ta be afraid of. I love you, Rogue," Gambit declared as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately.
"Remy, no!" Ororo cried out and she reached out to stop him. But then she remembered there was no reason to stop them now that Rogue's powers were gone. Instead she watched with rising dread as their passion came to a pitch and the two slumped to the floor in each other's arms there in the hallway. Rogue gently ran her fingers through Gambit's hair, her tears falling onto his face as she looked at him.
"You really do love me, Remy! You really love me!"
Ororo didn't think making out in the corridor was the wisest thing to do and she wasn't exactly sure what they might think of that themselves if the spell from the truth gem ended anytime soon but then how to tell them this was her fault? Besides, Remy should already know since he'd seen her stolen prize. She looked around and seeing no one else in sight she quietly tiptoed away, deciding silence was the best solution in this situation.
With one hand over the cursed gewgaw, as Rogue had called it, Ororo headed back to her attic. She was beginning to regret taking this trip and coming back to the mansion while she was recovering from her back injury. This was supposed to be R & R but instead she was being grabbed at by everyone she came across. She hadn't anticipated that. But soon she'd be safe in her room where she could figure out how to get the necklace off without destroying her cherished antique chain. And she actually made it to the attic without running into anyone but she stopped just outside the door when she heard the Summer's laughing in her room. She frowned. What would they be doing in her attic of all places when they lived in the boathouse? She wasn't pleased with their intrusion and when she entered her room she was even more upset. Scott and Emma looked up from their embrace and into Ororo's angry face. Emma laughed like a teenager but Scott looked more like a guilty little boy, his cheeks hot with shame.
"You needn't be on your high horse, dear," Emma huffed. "It was only a kiss. Tell your little friend if you like, I have nothing to hide. If she doesn't know how to keep her man it's her fault not mine."
"Storm, it's not . . . it's not at all what you think," Scott stuttered. "With everything that's happened to me I've been confused. I've been feeling torn, unsure of myself. What's my purpose in life? What am I here for? Am I good enough for Jean? I love Jean but was that just something I told myself because I wanted someone to love me? I was so alone for so long, no family, just miserable. Did I make myself love Jean to compensate for my lonely childhood? When we thought she was dead, the first time, I couldn't mourn her. If I couldn't mourn then does that mean I never loved her? And when she came back did the Phoenix make me think I loved her?
"All these thoughts, so many thoughts, unclean and foul, rumbling in my head – I – it's not me but it is, foul, horrible – I don't know if it is me or what's left over from Apocalypse. I mean I just don't know what to think. I don't know who I am without her. I don't like who I am with her!"
Emma rolled her eyes and took his hand placing it on her amply exposed bosom. "You love this don't you Scotty? And that's just your problem; you love us beautiful X-Women a little too much. Sure, Ms. Jean Boring Grey-Summers had your heart but you're all man under that starched exterior of yours. Oh I know the wicked thoughts you have and how hard it is for Jean darling to deal with it. He's lusted after Betsy or Kwannon or whatever, and even you once upon a time, Storm thou holier than any goddess. You used to swim and walk around naked like you weren't even aware he was watching . . ."
"That is enough, Emma," Ororo said. "What you and Scott are doing I have no idea nor do I truly care. Jean is not the fool you think she is and when she's ready to deal with you I would not wish to be in the same state as you."
"Ororo," Scott cried. "Okay, I did think of you once or twice but you're Jean's best friend! I would never have tried anything! Never!"
"I don't really think I need to hear any more. What are you doing in my room? Tell me that."
"I wanted you to know. I wanted you to see us like this. I followed him hoping you would come in and see us. Don't look at me like that Scott, like you're hurt. You're not hurt. You're tired of sneaking around and half way pretending we're having an affair! You want it all out in the open but you're too weak, too scared of hurting Jean. I hate Jean. I hate her and I want to crush her, to ruin her – I want to kill her!"
"No. You won't hurt, Jean."
"No, you're right because of you, Scott, but only because you asked me not to."
"Can you both go now?"
"We, we . . . I wanted to tell you something, Ororo," Scott stammered. "We were supposed to meet . . . training I think. I – I can't remember now. I can't remember now. I don't know why – Emma, did you do something?"
"Of course, Scott darling."
"Fine, please leave and don't come back." Ororo stepped aside to let them pass.
"It's just not what you think, Storm," Scott said. "I'm just confused. It's not easy being me – carrying this responsibility. It comes naturally to you but I have to work every day to get the nerve to keep going. You're perfect and know everything, well, not everything but you handle the responsibility so much better than me. I never would've been able to even think about being leader if I'd lost my powers the way you did. I'm useless without my powers. I am nothing without my powers, without the X-Men. Emma knows. She understands."
"Sob, sob, moan, moan," Emma said, laughed, and pulled Scott out of the room with her. "Come on, Scott. You're boring her and me. Oh, and by the way, Storm I'm so very glad you found us. What're you going to do now? You don't dare tell Jean. Hah!" Emma laughed again. "You can only squirm in silence as you remember this." She smiled and waved goodbye.
Ororo slammed the door behind them and threw herself onto her bed. She'd been so upset when she'd seen Scott was with Emma in her room instead of Jean that she'd forgotten what she was wearing around her neck, and Scott's and Emma's ugly, sad truths had just spilled out. Her head ached now and she felt almost ill. How had she thought she'd be the proper owner of such a weapon for weapon it truly was. The truth. Armed with the truth was as deadly as it could get. However, she was to get no respite. There was a loud knock at her door. She moaned. Perhaps if she said nothing whoever it was would go away. No. The knocking was even louder. Only Bishop knocked with such a heavy hand.
"Storm?" Lucas called out.
Okay, I can do this, she thought as she got up. She quickly found a long silk scarf and wrapped it around her neck. Looking into the mirror she adjusted it so it covered the trinket then she opened the door.
"I thought I heard raised voices. Is everything alright?"
"Fortunately you're a little late but everything is as good as it can be under the circumstances now," Ororo said.
"It's a long, sad story that I do not wish to ever think about again. And how are you today, Lucas?"
"Not well really, but thank you. You know I'm never going to burden you with my troubles although I always appreciate that you care enough to ask. I didn't mean to disturb you I just wanted to know if you'd decided when we were going back to New Orleans. I like the lifestyle we have away from this place, being under your command. You know I'll follow you anywhere and do whatever you say. You say jump and I'll always ask how high, Ororo. I've sworn my undying allegiance to you," Bishop said most sincerely, his smile wide and quite atypical.
Ororo looked confused but Bishop continued.
"I must confess, Ororo, the reason I'll follow you anywhere is because I've loved you since I was a little boy listening to the tales of the mighty and beautiful Wind-Rider. I still shake in my boots whenever you enter a room. You're everything and more than the legends portrayed you as, beautiful, wise . . ."
Ororo held up her hand to stop him from going on. With her other hand she fumbled for the freed crystal for that could be the only reason Bishop was expressing undying love for her.
"Ororo, please, I have to confess everything! I've wanted to tell you this since I first saw you. I want you to know I'll always love you no matter that you could never love me or whatever may happen in the future. I know I'm not worthy of you and I can only love you from afar but I will always be devoted to you, I will always have your back, I will always be here for you." He sunk to one knee and clasped her hand in his like a knight before his queen.
"Bishop, please get up! I-I really thought you and Sage were getting close!"
The huge man rose and smiled sadly before he spoke.
"Indeed. She has a strategic mind that I cannot help but admire. Never-the-less, how can she compare to you, Storm, Wind-Rider, beautify personified? I may care for Sage but it's you who'll always be first in my heart. Please forgive me for going on like this. I don't mean to offend. I must sound like a school boy. I – I – I just had to tell you how I really feel."
Ororo felt an overwhelming sense of tenderness flood over her and she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. She heard him sigh, felt his hand caress her hair and sadly she drew back.
"Bishop, you've no idea how much this means to me. I admire you, truly I do. We would never have been as successful without your aid and I'm so glad you're with us but . . ."
"No, no, don't try to make me feel better. It's okay. I understand."
Ororo shook her head, her hand now completely covering the instrument of truth. Didn't the bauble stop working once it was covered again? Why couldn't it have been the truth for a second of for ten seconds and no longer? She could have possibly handled thirty seconds of truth but this was now becoming unbearable. She felt as if she was doing something horribly wrong to Bishop and she was utterly ashamed of herself.
"I know you didn't really take to me when I first came from the future," Bishop said. "I guess I kind of got on your nerves then, didn't I? But that's okay, Ororo. I knew it was hard for anyone to believe my story especially with Gambit being your friend and all. But I think we've grown on each other a little haven't we?"
"Indeed we have my friend." Ororo smiled and took his hands in hers. "I consider you a trusted friend and I am truly glad you're with us, Lucas."
Bishop smiled and squeezed her hands. "Well, let me know when you decide we're going back to New Orleans. I'm already packed and ready to go. You say jump . . ."
"Yes, yes I know. Thank you, Lucas." Ororo nodded as Bishop left.
She was saddened by his confession, annoyed because she felt like crying and petrified with her horrendous actions. She'd had no idea that Bishop felt that way about her. He was a strong, handsome, often reserved man but reliable and true. No, she couldn't believe Remy as the Witness was the killer Lucas claimed he was but she had eventually come to accept Lucas as a trustworthy man who came from a future that could be changed, that had to be changed and with him here in the present that change would be made, she was convinced of this.
She sighed now feeling frustrated, ashamed, and sorry. But after a little bit she realized out of all the others the only one who had kept his head was Bishop and because of that he was just the person to help her get the necklace off.
What type of magic did this jewel wield Ororo wondered to herself as she sat on the back terrace, holding it in her hand. Fortunately Bishop had exactly the right tool to remove it so the expensive chain wasn't damaged although she now wished she just should've ripped it off then had it repaired at the jewelers. The cost of the repair would've been nothing compared to what she'd put everyone through. She wondered if they would remember, and if they did would they care that they'd revealed so much to her? She was sure Emma wouldn't. She hoped no one would ever remember although she supposed she'd know tonight when she met with Bobby. She sighed as she fell back onto the wicker chaise she was seated in and wondered why the truth seemed to cause people to lose all sense. But after a while her eyes closed and let her thoughts go and she drifted off to sleep.
"'Ro, darlin', you awake?"
Ororo opened her eyes to see Logan standing above her. She thought how tall he looked when she was laying down and she smiled. He was a handsome man in a very rugged, sexy way.
"Ororo, you feeling okay? Back bothering you?"
"Oh, I'm fine, Logan. I just had a little headache and I must have fallen asleep."
He grinned and she felt the same butterflies fluttering in her stomach that she always felt when he was so near.
"What's this?" He asked as he took her hand in his. "Gift from yer boyfriend?"
She hastily closed her hand over the bauble but as she did so it slid onto her lap.
"Hey, it's beautiful," he said then looked at her. "But not as beautiful as you, darlin'."
Ororo caught her breath. This, this is what she'd wanted all along. But was she wrong to be doing this?
"Ya look like the goddess you truly are, 'Ro," Logan said. He sat down beside her still holding her hand. "All you need is a guy ta feed ya grapes. Think I can be that man, darlin'?"
She was nodding and nodding her head, couldn't stop nodding, and he took her into his arms but as he did the culprit of so much mischief slid from her lap and crashed to the ground shattering into tiny pieces. Ororo hadn't noticed she'd been so intently looking into Logan's eyes. For a moment they sat there looking at each other, as pregnant a pause as either of them had ever experienced, full of wishes come true, promises to be made, so much to say, to do, the possibility of happiness before them, but it was only a moment. And then it was gone.
"I think we better clean this up, darlin'," Logan said.
"No. I'll take care of it," Ororo replied, the sweet taste of victory now bitter in her mouth.
Logan didn't reply he just walked away. Ororo had an awful sinking feeling in her stomach as she watched him go. She leaned back on the chaise and sighed deeply. A moment was as long as it ever got with her, she thought. Why couldn't this one moment, the moment she'd been dreaming of, hoping for for so long, why couldn't it have lasted just a little longer?
Ororo felt soft lips brush against her cheek. She looked up to see Logan looking down at her with a sly grin.
"Wanna go out ta that restaurant ya like t'night?"
Ororo smiled back at him and nodded. She watched him take a little whisk broom he'd gotten from the garage and sweep up the broken crystal into a small dust pan, and then with a wink he headed back to the garage. She didn't know if the gem had prompted the invite or if he'd invited her of his own free will but the amethyst stone was destroyed and she was glad of that. She hoped the good it had done far outweighed the bad. She was going out with Logan, Bobby would get some advice from her before she left, Remy and Rogue had confessed their love for each other and perhaps they'd be more secure in their relationship, and Scott would have to deal with Emma rather than ignore his issues though Jean might lose him. Truth had wrought love, it was thick in the air, for good or bad. And despite her shame and regret she had the nicest feeling. Tonight was only a moment away.
~ Fini ~