The Facts of Reality
She woke up in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side on black silk sheets in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side on black silk sheets in a French Art Deco bed in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side on black, silk sheets in a French Art Deco bed in an attractive suite in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side on black, silk sheets in a French Art Deco bed in an attractive suite in Emma Frost's lavish house in the hills in Los Angeles.
She woke up laying on her side on black, silk sheets in a French Art Deco bed in an attractive guest suite in Emma Frost's lavish house in the hills, which she had been inhabiting for six months, in Los Angeles.
These were facts. She knew this. She knew by the cool, slick silk against her skin. She knew by the soft humming of the central air conditioning. She knew by the heaps of Emma's favorite flowers – fresh, Narcissus, so sugar-sweet that she could almost taste them. She knew by the dim glow of her Hello Kitty nightlight, by the sharp corner of her bedside table, by the mildly icky taste of her own mouth. She was certain of these facts.
She was less certain of this reality.
She woke up alone. That was another fact. But just because it was a fact didn't mean that it was right. It wasn't right. Of that, she was absolutely certain. And that was the problem with reality. Sometimes, no matter what the facts were, the measure of their sum didn't equal what was real.
"Huh," she said aloud. She said it aloud because she was certain there should be someone to say it to.
Mostly certain, anyway.
She wiggled free from the tangled sheets and slipped out of bed. She looked down at herself. She was wearing pink satin pajama shorts, which were very short, indeed, and a matching camisole top. She frowned. Was she supposed to sleep in this? She wasn't sure. She thought of a very old, very large thermal shirt that had once belonged to Wolverine. She thought of a pair of black sweatpants that said "Juicy" across the butt and a totally cute matching hoodie. In her head, those options seemed just as real as the present factuality of pink satin.
She went to the window and pulled the heavy, white curtains aside. It was dark out, the lights from the city turning the sky murky orange. She could see the entire valley from the window. She thought that, in the night, Los Angeles was beautiful, the way it glittered and shimmied like a cabaret dancer. She let the curtain fall.
The bathroom door was shut, a thin strip of light glowing around the door frame. She tapped gently on the closed door.
"Hey," she said.
"Yeah?" was the reply from within. Something wasn't right.
She rubbed one eye, itchy with sleep. "What's going on?"
"Got me." Something was wrong.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Checking something." Something was very wrong.
"Are you coming out?"
"Not...not just yet." Very, very wrong.
She leaned her forehead against the door. "Seriously, dude. What the hell is going on?"
"Babe, I'm as confused as you." She heard rustling beyond the door. "Actually, given the circumstances, probably more so."
The bathroom door was white lacquered and intricately carved – vines and flowers, a hunter and a stag. Graven antlers were digging into her forehead. She traced the lines on her forehead and then the lines on the door, comparing the two. They seemed to match. So, that was real.
"I was back in school," she called through the door.
"What?" he called back. His voice was muffled.
"I said," she repeated, speaking very clearly. "I was back in school."
"In Massachusetts?" He sounded confused.
"No, a different school. But still...school. Again."
"Totally." She heard the rustling again, followed a semi-hollow slap. She looked down at her feet. They were cold. Did feet have to be real to be cold?
"Ev was there," she continued.
"Really? At the school?" he asked. He sounded amazed. He sounded surprised. He sounded...
Something wasn't right. She knew it. She knew there was something wrong. Something that made this not real. Or something that made it more real. She wasn't sure.
"No," she said. "Not at the school. Not really. He was there, though."
"Do you think he's still..."
"I don't know," she interrupted him. She interrupted him and when she interrupted him, she realized what was wrong. "Hold up," she said. "Are you talking?"
There was a lengthy pause. She pressed her hands against the sharp carvings of the door and waited.
"I'm going to let you in now," he said, finally. "But you have to promise you'll stay calm."
"What the hell is going on?" she repeated.
"Just promise you won't go wiggy."
"If you don't open the door, I really am going to freak."
"Promise!" he demanded.
"All right, all right," she huffed. "I promise."
He opened the door and tugged her into the bathroom, slamming the door shut again behind her. She shut her eyes against the sudden brightness of the white-tiled room and stubbed her toe on the claw-foot of the enormous bathtub.
"Ow!" she exclaimed. "Dammit! That hurt!"
Hurting was real. You cannot hurt if reality isn't real. She was absolutely almost a little bit certain of that. As she leaned over her injured foot, she felt his hands on her shoulders. She looked up at him. He was taller than she was. That, at least, was right.
"Did you hurt yourself?" he asked softly.
She forgot about her toe. Looking at him, she forgot about the facts that she was sure of and the reality that was possibly wrong. She forgot everything. Everything except this. This was different. This was totally different. This was not the way it was supposed to be. She was completely, one hundred percent sure that this was different and not the way it was supposed to be. This. This was wrong. She felt a sudden twisting in her stomach - the sharp cramping of guilt. Because, while this was wrong, this was better.
"You...have a face," she whispered.
She reached up and with two small fingers, nails painted sparkly blue, touched his new lips.
"It's gone," he said. "It's all gone." He lifted the black tee-shirt he normally – and she was completely sure of that – wore to bed, exposing the expanse of his chest. It was pale and smooth, unbroken and unblemished, completely solid and completely human. She pressed her palm to it. He was warm and whole.
"Something's happened," she said, her eyes wide, worried. "Something big. Everything's a jumble. My head...it's all a mess. I'm not sure what's right. What's real."
"I know," he nodded. "Do you think it's just us?"
"I don't know. I should call the mansion," she fretted, biting her lower lip.
"Later," he said, cupping her small face in his hands. "First, I want to do this." He tilted her chin up. He leaned over, closing their considerable distance in height. He moved slowly until his lips were just above hers. She closed her eyes and held her breath. She held her breath while his lips touched hers.
He kissed her. And she kissed him. She kissed him until she gasped for breath. She kissed him until he gasped for breath, too.
Scooping her body up against his, he lifted her. Spun with her. Twirled with her. Laughed. She could feel his heart beat with hers. She could feel his lungs breath with hers. She could hear his stomach rumble with hers. These were facts that she could confirm. She looked at him in wonder.
"Jonothan," she breathed.
"Jubilation," he replied, aloud and in his own voice. He smiled at her.
She thought his smile was the most real thing she had ever seen.