On The Outside

Written by Darkstorm5000

Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.

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Even after sitting up here and watching it with her own two eyes, it was still something that made no sense to her. But for the young lady known as X-23, not fully understanding the actions of those around her was really nothing new.

Having opted to leave her life on the streets and on the run behind to finally take Logan up on his offer of trying to make a new start for herself here at the Xavier Institute in Bayville, X-23 in the weeks since coming to live here had spent that time learning to acclimate herself to the intricacies of intrahouse dynamics . Of getting used to being around other people and interacting with them on a personal level, and trying to figure out why it was that they did the things that they did?

Case in point.

From a perched position way up on the roof of this veritable mansion that housed the Xavier Institute, X-23 had this afternoon taken her usual spot to watch through the attic skylight as Ororo once again did one of those things that she just couldn't seem to wrap her mind around. So intriguing was this activity, that it had become something of a regular occurrence for X-23 to come up here and just stare down upon Ororo for hours on end.

But, it was a synchronous observation that hadn't gone entirely unnoticed by the target of her curiosity.

With her heightened senses X-23 could immediately feel the abrupt shift in the atmosphere around her, detecting this change mere nanoseconds before the tree branches and leaves that canopied much of this sprawling estate began to rustle and stir nearby. But not even her amazingly quick reflexes were able to do much to help her, as concentrated wind gusts sprung up from out the same thin air that also constituted them and suddenly lifted this most recent arrival to the Institute up several dozen feet into the sky. Left to hang up there spinning and twirling around uncontrollably high above for a few brief moments, X-23 felt herself begin to descend back downward just as rapidly as she had been shot up there. As she tumbled down towards the roof of the Institute, X-23 saw the attic skylight unexpectedly open up at the exact same moment that she also felt her falling velocity begin to decrease. And by the time that she passed through the retracted opening into the attic's interior, she landed on her feet with a gentleness that felt as though they were now being cushioned from underneath by the same winds that had moments ago violently tossed her to and fro.

"Many would consider it a gross disrespect of their privacy, or impolite at the very least, to secretly spy on them, Laura." Ororo austerely said, as she continued focusing down at a table in front of her in this attic's center.

And while she had been caught totally off-guard by her impromptu roller-coaster ride high up in the air, which had been sans the roller-coaster, Laura even now felt just as awkward every time that she heard this name that others now used to address her. The name that she had adopted to use in lieu of the X-23 designation that she had identified herself by for her entire life.

"I'm...sorry." Laura replied, having just taken a few quick steps away from Ororo and off to one side of this room where she was now in a semi-crouched stance, her hair still whipped around in front of her face thanks to her breezy entrance.

"You are, however, more than welcome to come in and join me." Ororo now said, as she turned an inviting smile towards Laura's direction.

It was a hard sell, at first. But as Ororo turned her attention back to the large table before her, Laura slowly inched her way over towards the weather-goddess.

Getting closer to her, but not too close.

And from her guarded vantage-point, Laura now had an even better view of what had intrigued her ever since that first time she had looked down into here, back when she had come to the Institute not as friend, but foe.

Seeing this central table covered in plants and flowers of various types, along with even more on other surrounding tables and up on the shelves that stood against the walls that took up most of this attic's space, Laura struggled to cohesively quantify what had been on her mind this entire time with regard to Ororo's habitual activity. Which she was finally able to express in a single, one word remark.

"Why?" Laura now asked, as she took a few more steps closer to the table.

"What do you mean?" Ororo queried in response, turning to fully face this inquisitive young lady now in her company.

"Why...do you do it?" Laura tried as best as she could to clarify herself, her gaze and attention now trained solely on the numerous plants before them.

For Laura, this question pretty much summed up her reason for having spent all of this time observing Ororo tend to her botanical collection. And from what she had been able to determine thus far, these plants weren't edible and they didn't serve any other apparent medical or survival application, so she thought there had to be some other reason that just hadn't revealed itself to her yet.

"Well, I imagine that there are as many answers to that question, as there are flowers in here." Ororo replied, taking a brief moment to ponder as no one had ever asked her this before, "I suppose that I enjoy the natural beauty their presence brings. That, in some ways their being here reminds me of the floral landscape of my homeland and allows me to remain connected to those memories. It also brings me joy to know that I've given something back to mother earth, the satisfaction of having helped life flourish in here."

As Ororo spoke and simultaneously used her mutant command over the weather to create miniature rain clouds inside of this attic greenhouse to water her plants, Laura simply stood there in awe as she listened to Ororo. That for someone who had been raised her entire life to think simply in a militaristic, practical frame of mind, it was still hard for her to comprehend that there were motivations that existed outside of those narrow categories.

"I guess the main reason that I care for these plants is for the company that they provide." Ororo continued with her requested self-analysis, and blew Laura away with this comment.

"But...plants can't talk?" Laura replied, stupefied by her literal interpretation of Ororo's remark, and began to wonder if maybe there were other aspects to her mutant powers that simply hadn't been covered in those stolen SHIELD files that she had read some time back.

"No, not in the way that you and I communicate. But, they do have a tongue all of their own. And sometimes, knowledge to impart upon us if we listen closely enough." Ororo said, as she walked over to pick up one of the small potted-plants on display before them, "Take this little plantling, for example. It hadn't been growing as it should due to a lack of sunlight in the precise intervals needed. But, now placed in a more appropriate environment with the proper care, it has been thriving and has caught up with the others around it. Which, I believe is a lesson that can hold meaning for us beyond just the care of plants as well."

After allowing one of the miniature rain clouds to come pass over and deluge the plant in her hand with a brief shower, Ororo then turned back around to show off this now blooming example of vegetation to her invited guest.

"Well, what do you think?"

But, she would receive no response.

The split-second that it had taken for Ororo to turn her attention towards one of these conjured rain clouds, had been all of the time needed for Laura to slip out of this top-floor greenhouse unnoticed. But, Ororo wasn't disappointed.

Ororo understood that for someone who'd made a habit of keeping everyone at arms-length to hide her own unease with one-on-one interactions, it had been a giant leap for Laura today to overcome her anxieties and not bolt out of here as soon as she had landed inside of here, instead choosing to stay long enough to carry on what was the closest thing resembling a prolonged conversation that the two had ever had. Ororo also knew that while first steps were often the hardest to take, that they were usually followed by a flurry of subsequent ones.

Which is why, as she placed this small plant back down on the center table, Ororo fully anticipated that she would once again be joined up here by company of the non-plant variety in the days and weeks to come...