A Summers Eve – by Darlin
Disclaimer – You know the drill; don't own them, making no profit, yada, yada, yada.
A/N – Well, in 2004 I got an itch to write about the beginning years of the second group of Uncanny X-Men. My story Snowfall is one of those. I thought I'd write stories based on the seasons more or less. This one occurs in summer chronologically before 'Snowfall' my winter piece. It stars the wondrous Wind-rider and the wily Wolverine when few knew his name.
Dusk was setting in and as had become her wont of late Ororo Munroe took to the skies. Flying was always a delight though she didn't literally fly; she merely used her ability to control the wind to keep her aloft. These evening flights gave her time to renew her connection with the earth and sky and as long as she stayed solely above the extensive Xavier grounds she was allowed to roam as she pleased. But this evening she cared only to soar above the mansion delighting in its exquisite design and the lovely gardens that surrounded it.
Had it been a year already since she'd left her adopted home? It seemed longer. So much had happened. And the people she'd met, the things she'd done! Never would she have ever imagined such things. She had once been thought a goddess but now she knew herself to be a mutant. It was almost unfathomable. And though the year had not been easy for her she would not trade it for anything in the world.
There were people here that she had come to admire and care for even in such a short period of time. Jean who was so patient and helpful had become like the sister she'd never had. Peter, who had been so protective of her at first, was like the little brother she'd always wished for. Kurt was full of fun and charm despite his peculiar looks and he too had become a dear friend. Though Sean was no longer with them Ororo would always consider him a friend as well and hoped he would one day return whole and well. That left only two others – Scott, quiet and so serious, and Wolverine, rude, brash and arrogant.
Being the leader was something that Scott took quite seriously and Ororo understood his need to remain aloof. She admired his dedication and skills but the two of them had not connected. And the Wolverine – she almost didn't care to think of him. He was belligerent, wild and untamed. Yet there was some good there. She was sure of it. He had saved her once, breathing his life's air into her lungs despite his obvious opinion of her and all women in general.
He was a chauvinist and had no tact. It was no façade either yet behind all his talk Ororo suspected he had a good heart for he could have left them long ago and he had not. She wondered why a man so very obviously a loner would choose to stay. In truth he was a mystery. She sometimes thought he only needed some nurturing to bring out the decent man that lurked inside his gruff exterior. He hid it well, she knew but she would not sell him short. Despite his unpredictability he was reliable and oddly steady. Where she respected Scott she intuitively trusted Wolverine.
"Full of untapped potential," she murmured to herself as she came to settle down onto the front lawn.
"You talkin' to yerself?" a deep gravelly voice questioned from the shadows.
Wolverine. She heard him approaching although he walked almost silently over the grass. She didn't bother to turn. Instead she looked up at the darkening sky and summoned a small breeze. The Wolverine said nothing only watched her and wondered what she was doing even though he welcomed the feel of the wind in the muggy evening.
"This almost reminds me of my home," Ororo said, her voice nearly as quiet as the breeze that drifted over them.
Before Logan could remark in his customary gruff way she began to hum a song from her youth. Then her long limbs folded gracefully as she sat down in the grass and drew her knees up against her chest.
"If I close my eyes and listen the sounds are different but when I look at these fireflies . . . we have them in Africa . . . my home . . ."
"You mean these li'l bugs? We call 'em lightnin' bugs," Logan said as he reached out swiftly, catching one in his hand.
He squatted beside her, one hand covering the prized possession. They both watched intently as he slowly opened his hand revealing a fluorescent flash of greenish yellow.
"Never could figure what good they were," he said, his own voice hushed now as he watched the small insect crawl along his palm.
"No?" she asked looking at him with a bemused expression on her pretty face.
"Yeah, well 'cept for matin'."
"But . . . they are wonderful . . . and beautiful"
"Yeah I'll give 'em that."
"And peaceful," she sighed.
Together they watched the insect spread its array of wings ready to launch itself back into the midst of its swirling rivals and then Wolverine clamped his hand shut grinning like a mischievous boy at play, effectively trapping the creature once again.
"You've dashed its hopes," Ororo murmured sadly.
He glanced at her; saw the look of sorrow on her face and it surprised him.
"You broads are too sentimental."
"I thought you had given up calling women such impolite names," she said somewhat haughtily and she got up and started to leave.
He didn't realize his face had scrunched up half in distaste and half in regret. He genuinely hadn't meant to offend her.
"Old habits die hard . . . Ororo," he said apologetically.
The edges of her lips curled upwards ever so slightly but she gave no other indication that she'd heard him. Instead she dusted off the seat of her long skirt then brushed the residue from her hands. After a little while Wolverine grinned as he watched her head move as if in slow motion first left then right and back again then up and down, slowly around as she watched the amazing dance of the fireflies in the dim light of this summers eve.
"Beautiful," she whispered even as she stretched her arms out to either side as if she were tempted to join them in their flight.
And Wolverine thought to himself that she spoke the truth indeed. Beautiful. The night, the humidity now gone as her breezes caressed them gently, lighting bugs flickering here and there and then most beautiful of all – Storm, goddess, Ororo.
Wordlessly his fist, still clenched, rose out before him and he released the captive creature. They both watched it soar up and away. Freedom, joy, beauty, tranquility unlooked for, all these things were felt by the two as they stood side by side till the shadows grew heavy across the grounds.
"Surely you were not always called Wolverine," Ororo commented out of the blue.
Silence settled as thick as the humid air of earlier.
"I – I did not mean to pry. If I did . . ."
"Nah, it's just I . . . well . . ."
"We all have our secrets," she said, laying a hand on his forearm in a gesture of peace. "Sometimes I wish that I could forget my secrets," she added wistfully, looking off into the distance almost as if she could still see something dark and ominous from her past.
He wondered what horrors she might have experienced to wish for such a thing for having no memory was a fate he wished on no one. Having no memory of his past left him feeling disconnected, something no one should ever have to suffer and least of all her.
It was true he had been hard on her, thinking her ill fit for battle and yet she had proven herself countless times since their time in Scotland. He remembered she had been terrified and helpless against their enemies at Sean's castle. Now he guessed that her demons might be as dark as his, always too close to the surface, something to constantly keep at bay, demons that could cripple a woman no matter how strong she had proven herself to be.
"It's late and I suppose I should go back in," she said as her hand fell from his arm.
"Mind if I walk with you?"
This time she gazed down at him and smiled with pleasure and nodded. Once inside they turned in different directions at the foot of the stairs. But he stopped, hesitated for a moment, watched her start up the steps and then she too hesitated and turned to look at him. She smiled when she saw him watching her as she had wanted to watched him.
"Logan," he said, his voice not as brusque as usual, even boyish. "My friends call me Logan."
She nodded and smiled then turned and continued up to her attic loft. "Good night . . . Logan," she whispered.
He'd just started to make his way to the kitchen in search of beer when he heard her soft words and he found himself smiling.
"Good night, 'Roro," he whispered in return.
Later that night Logan dreamt of shimmering fireflies floating in the trees and dancing in the twilight while blue cat like eyes watched him from above, hovering as if waiting for him and he felt as if magic had taken hold of him. Fireflies and magic he thought with a chuckle before he slipped into deeper slumber. And when he woke on the morrow he would find that it had been the best night's sleep he could remember in a long time.