Ante Up – by Darlin
A/N – Over at the Storm forum here on this wonderful site NWHS has a challenge that intrigued me so much that I've decided to accept it. Partly due to extreme boredom at work and no inspiration or desire to work on other stories and also because it takes me out of my normal comfy zone writing RoLo. The challenge is to write a couple that you would never usually write. Perhaps the first and most likely last OreO that I did, An Ever Fixed Mark, was also inspiration. So, NWHS, should you take a peek at this thank you for the idea. And finally Bobby's eye color. In the early days it was blue, of late they've been brown but I went with blue here being partial to the early version and because they match Ororo's.
Disclaimer - I own no characters and make no profit.
It was a cold night, the kind of killer cold that made you want to stay inside, put off errands and not want to crawl out of bed when you woke up in the morning. Ororo loved days and nights like this. There was something about the cold, something she'd never quite gotten used to having never grown up with it. Even now with her many years in New York the frost and snow, a burst of breath visible like a cloud in the air, icicles and frozen ponds never failed to thrill her. There was always something new to learn about the chilly element. And while the others in the mansion were squirreled away in their beds, heat on full blast, she was sorely tempted to go out and explore the frozen night world. She wasn't alone in that desire.
"Um . . . you wanna go out?" a warm and slightly hopeful voice inquired from behind her.
She turned from the one of the second floor hall windows that looked out over the front yard and peered into the soft blue eyes of Bobby Drake. Robert she sometimes called him. She liked the dignity of the name Robert, thought perhaps it would encourage him to strive for that dignity. It never did though.
"I was thinking it would be fun," Ororo admitted.
"Snowball fight?" he mused.
"Hmm," she murmured thoughtfully, her head tilting first to one side and then the other as she studied the young man. After a moment or two she shook her head. "I think not. Powers perhaps?"
Bobby's face lit up. "You against me?" he asked with undisguised glee.
"Yup," she said in that uncharacteristic way she sometimes had, as if living with too many people from all walks of life had rubbed off on her. "Three matches."
"You're on!" Bobby said and dashed for the stairs.
She did him one better and calmly sat her mug of tea onto a small corner table then unlocked the window. Shut for months she had to force it open but up it went. The storm window was easier, pressing the mechanisms in synch and pushing upwards then locking it in place. With the grace that seemed a thing born to her she lifted herself onto the window sill then let herself fall feeling the harsh wind beating hard against her face and whipping through her hair as the gust carried her to the front of the house.
"You're late," she said when Bobby came bursting out of the front door, no coat or scarf or even gloves on.
"No, Robert I win. Two more rounds to go – powers against powers remember," she said with a smirk, another uncharacteristic action that made Bobby wrinkle his nose at her.
"Well what's the winner get besides bragging rights?" he said eying her up and down.
She shrugged and smiling said, "Our wildest dreams?"
"What kind of prize is that?" he demanded.
"Hmm, homemade ice cream if you lose then."
"That is a wild dream I'll give ya that," Bobby said though he nodded his assent.
"And you, Robert?"
"I don't know, you don't have a Twinkie stash – oh I know, you could be my slave for a day."
When she looked at him with an odd expression on her face he blushed.
"I mean . . . I didn't mean anything by that you know, it's just – I meant when Hank and I have a bet, well that's the usual stakes when he's out of Twinkies. That's how I got him to do most of my homework, except for math; I'm pretty good with numbers."
Her hearty laughter caught him by surprise and he felt himself grinning despite feeling flustered.
"What would you have your slave do, Robert? Feed you Twinkies all day?"
"Uh, I don't know . . . well . . . maybe."
"Well, my slave would feed me ice cream all day long. Chocolate."
"Um, I can do that, not that I'll have to."
She chuckled. "We shall see about that."
"Oh, we'll see all right!""
"Ready then?" she said and he nodded. "On three – three!" she shouted, shooting up into the air.
"She's a lousy cheater!" Bobby marveled to himself and not without admiration.
There was appreciation as well as he watched her soar into the night sky as if to greet the sudden rain storm. It was a breathtaking sight, her moonlit silver hair sparkling as with jewels as the rain began to fall. Robert didn't notice the rain; he was mesmerized by her, imagining she was much like some regal bird of myth. But unfortunately for Robert mythology had been one of his worst subjects in school and he forgot that birds of myth were not all good and more often than not were tricksters or symbols of pending doom.
Giving proof to that Ororo quickly circled then swooped down upon him like a bird of prey and his look of admiration quickly turned into one of shock and pain. He yelled, lost his balance, tried to catch himself but splashed into the puddle of water beneath him. He screamed this time and frantically tried to scramble out of the water.
"You should get out of that puddle, wouldn't want to catch a cold," Ororo advised as she touched down beside him.
Robert, his hands and knees submerged in the rising water only grunted as he steeled himself for another surge of electricity to go shooting through his body. But it didn't come. He felt her fingertips pressing lightly on his shoulders.
"Do you concede?" she asked, now crouched beside him, her face close to his.
Her breath, warm and fast, tickled his ear and he wasn't sure if it was the after effect of the electricity or her touch that made his legs feel weaker. He looked over his shoulder at her loathe to give in but not willing to suffer further to prove a point.
He sighed. "Unless I want to be electrocuted to death . . . yeah."
She laughed again, a pretty sound, seductive even and he resented it.
"If you fought fair . . . just because you're a girl . . ."
"I used only a low enough wattage to incapacitate you briefly and I am a woman, Robert Drake or have you not noticed this?" she whispered in his ear.
He caught his breath, shivered. "You still cheated," he muttered, less stringent, less convincing.
"Would Magneto fight fair? Would Apocalypse fight fair? Would Sinister fight fair? Would Dr. Doom?" she teased.
"All right, all right, all right!" he cried shaking her off and there was her laughter again. Rich and full of life. There was something arousing about it which irritated him.
"This time I count and I'm counting to five got that?" he said as he hauled himself up.
"Five it is, Robert, proceed."
"Five!" he shouted and almost in a blink of an eye he was yards away from her, his ice slide forming as quick as thought, gliding both along with him and out and away from him so that it struck her and knocked her to the ground. Stunned Ororo blinked and sought purchase on the icy ground beneath her but she was caught in a cold grip as if a huge hand had taken hold of her and then she was shaken so wildly she felt her brain shaking inside her skull.
In defiance she laughed, let him think she was enjoying the ride, she thought. And then the ice was melting and she was free and jetting into the sky. He followed her. She led him on a merry chase. It began to rain then snow, fast and wet then faster still. The wind howled and the snow became an icy assault of hail. He laughed now, in his element and like a young Zeus in the heavens but summoning ice spikes instead of lightning bolts he hurled them at her. She nimbly dodged the danger, and he felt a surge of pleasure flow through him. She was good though he hadn't expected anything less.
"Give up Robert Drake, your ice can't hold me," she said when one of his spikes came too close, "and I do not wish to harm you."
"Hurt me! Come on, try it!" he challenged. Their eyes held for a moment across the distance, both icy blue and determined but there was respect there too.
"Very well," she said with a slight bow of her head.
The attack was sudden and brutal, the ice storm escalating, spinning out of control, the wind whipping him with the force of a hurricane that tossed him like the insignificant creature he was in the face of her storm. Finally it was the baseball sized hail that battered his body as he tried to escape on his ice slide that did him in. Struck forcibly on the side of his head he fell from the sky like Uranus' blood fell to earth, disaster in the making.
"Bobby! Oh, Bright Lady please don't let me be too late!" Ororo cried. But his descent was too fast and she was hindered by the very elements she'd called upon.
When he hit there was nothing but a muffled thud as he shattered in a mound of snow. All the ice and snow that had caked his body almost like the snowman of old he'd used to shift into when younger flayed the air. Too late by only seconds, Ororo fell onto her knees beside him and cradled his head, now slowly reverting to human form again. Her heart stilled. His body was limp. His lips were blue, his skin ice cold she saw, felt, as her hands touched his face, forcing warmth into him. Still he didn't move. She pressed her face to his, her warm cheek against his frozen cheek.
"Bobby, breathe!" she whispered before covering his lips with hers.
She felt his chest rise, saw it fall then laid her head over his heart and listened, waiting, hoping. There was no sound, nothing. No, there was a beat but slow and irregular. She sighed her thanks, breathed life into him again and again until his chest rose and fell on its own. His body was no longer frozen despite the deep snow beneath him, snow that had saved him. Ororo laid against him, warming him with her body while calming the storm and raising the temperature around them. Soon her hair, once frozen stiff, was dripping icy drops onto his chest. She rested there with him, her head tucked beneath his chin, her hand on his chest, a momentary lapse, feeling the warmth of another soul, a stolen embrace of a lonely woman and she took it with gratitude and no shame.
After a few minutes Bobby found himself blinking up at the dark, black-grey sky. It was the same cloudy sky as it had been before he and Ororo had started their bet he thought before noticing the pressure on his chest. His hand went up searchingly. He felt sopping wet hair catching in his fingers. Ororo quickly raised her head, caught his hand, freed it from her tangles and smiled. Bobby caught his breath. Her hair was a wet mess, steam rising off it like a fog; that along with her brilliant smile made him wonder if she really wasn't a goddess who'd just stepped out of the bowels of the earth.
"You okay?" he asked.
She nodded. "I should be asking you that."
He nodded slowly. "Everything feels like it's in the right place. Just a little wet, could use a change of clothes," he commented.
They were dressed similarly; she in jeans, a sweater, boots but nothing more and they were both soaked through. He lay back in the pool of water that had once been snow enjoying the heat that seemed to seep from the very ground. He wondered if he touched her would her body be as warm.
"You're okay then," she said.
"You and Scott, always with the obvious."
"I thought you were . . ."
"What, as if you could hurt me? Please, Storm you're good but not that good."
"I think I was good enough that you could have died."
"A little cold kill me? Then you don't know Bobby Drake."
"The fall could have . . ."
"There was snow piled up all over the place, besides a guy like me can change his physiology and I did right before I hit so the impact wasn't a problem. Done it plenty of times before," he said with a shrug.
"Well, if the bet was to terrify each other you won hands down."
"Spikes got a little too close, huh?"
"I wasn't trying hard you know, I wasn't going to hit you, just make you respect the power of the Iceman that's all."
"I respect your power, I have always respected it. I've always been fascinated in how you wield your power."
"Me too," he admitted. "I mean the way you do things with the weather; I wish I had your control."
"You have more control than you give yourself credit."
"I believe if you were trying your best I might have lost. I just might have had a spike or two stuck in my back."
"I wouldn't have done that although maybe I should've. I never would've taken you for a cheat, Storm but I guess a thief's gotta be sneaky, still that surprised me."
"It was meant to surprise you. Callisto taught me that."
"Oh," he said as he tried to sit up and then he groaned. "Ohhh. I think I'm gonna pass out, my head's killing me, hell my whole body's killing me!"
"Rest a bit," Ororo said, gently pushing him back down, her hands on his chest lingering as she observed him. He grinned, enjoying the warmth of her touch and remembering the feel of her slight weight over his heart before.
"You'd make a good nurse," he mused.
She moved her hands away feeling a rush of self consciousness.
"So I'm your slave," he said.
She was very still. He sat up carefully now. The ground was a running rivulet of ice water beneath them but neither of them made a move to go.
"Well, I did cheat to some degree and it is true you didn't try as hard as you would have perhaps," she murmured.
"A deal's a deal. I'm a man of my word, I lost. It wasn't like there were any rules or anything. Can I help it if I don't want to throw an ice spike into the back of a pretty woman's head?"
She smiled. "I almost electrocuted you."
"If you had tried I'd be dead. What's a little jolt of electricity between friends?"
"It couldn't have felt nice," she said though she had to smile at his nonchalance.
He recalled the unexpected heat from her breath in his ear, the tingling sensation in his legs that had nothing to do with the electricity she'd sent surging through him. "I started it," he said, "I can ante up with the best of 'em. What's my first job, boss?"
"You are sure?"
"A bet's a bet but next time don't expect me to go easy on you."
She bit her lip to keep from laughing.
"I'm serious, Ororo."
"I'm sure you are, just as I am sure you wouldn't do anything different."
"Well, maybe. So, what's your first command?"
"Clean up first. The others won't be happy if they have to shovel all this snow and mud especially when there was no forecast of snow before our . . . well . . . this."
He sighed, not looking forward to shoveling the tons of snow and sludge they'd conjured but as he'd admitted a bet was a bet and he was man enough to accept the consequences. He got up then held out a hand to her. She took it saying, "Or I could melt it all then dry it."
He grinned. "So, then what else do you want me to do?"
"Grow up," she said, not letting his hand go, "Don't be afraid to use your powers the way you know you can."
"Did you just tell me to grow up, Storm?"
"And use your powers wisely, without fear."
"I do! I could've killed you out there! I should've buried you in snow, drowned you in the stuff maybe. I could've you know."
She chuckled, "That's what I mean. Just because I'm a woman – you shouldn't have gone easy on me."
"You'd make a lousy boss with holes like Swiss cheese all in your body."
"I doubt I would've looked like a slice of cheese."
"Um . . . Swiss." She looked at their hands which were still clasped then looked at him. He followed her gaze then immediately snatched his hand away, blushing in the darkness.
"Your mission, Robert Drake, since you have chosen to accept it, is to serve me breakfast in bed," she said then paused a moment and smoothed his wet, messy hair away from his face. "Now we better get some rest, you gave me quite a work out."
Impulsively he reached for her hand but she was rising into the air and his fingers slipped through hers. He watched her wave, heard her laughter and shivered as the sound went through him like some living thing. It was a strange and baffling feeling but a good feeling too and he didn't feel at all bad this time. He felt good. He felt great. He felt stellar! He started to whistle as he tramped through the sodden mess of mud and slush, already planning what he'd make her for breakfast. He whistled all the way back to the house.
"Is this a joke?" Ororo asked when Bobby barged into her room the next morning holding a large tray in his hands. "Ice cream for breakfast?" she balked.
"Chocolate," he said.
"It's in a carton," she said.
"I know. It's a gelato style ice cream – organic. I went into town especially for this."
"And that's it?"
"I've got spoons and napkins," he said.
"I mean that's all I'm getting for breakfast?
"You only said you wanted ice cream."
"It's too early for breakfast and far too early for ice cream not to mention I'm exhausted," she said.
"It's six in the morning and it's never too early for ice cream."
"But it is too early for someone who had to monitor the weather most of the night so the neighbors wouldn't find the roofs of their homes blown off by a stray tornado. It is not the easiest thing to manipulate heat and moisture combined as wildly as it was last night."
"Yeah, but you did good, everything's dried up, almost as good as new."
"We had an eventful night, Bobby didn't you want to sleep in?"
He looked at her sitting up in her bed, her small pink chemise so inappropriate for the winter but a delight to behold and said, "I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be."
She smiled despite herself and patted the empty space on the bed beside her. He immediately plunked down, placing the tray between them. She sighed when he continued staring at her. "Are you going to keep staring while I eat or are you going to spoon feed me, Mr. Drake?"
"Sure!" he said, picking up a spoon
"Uh . . . oh no I was only teasing."
"You cheat a lot," he said. He put the spoon back on the tray and picked up a white linen napkin and shook it out then tucked it into the v of his buttoned down shirt.
"Are you . . . are you eating too?" she asked.
"I am; it's really good." He took the second linen cloth and shook it out then made to tuck it in for Ororo but looking at the low cut nightie decided against it.
"Why don't you hand me my robe, Robert?" she suggested, nodding at the short pink robe that was nearly falling off the end of her bed.
Bobby leaned over and caught the silk robe in his hand, the soft material tantalizing seductive against his skin then handed it to her and watched as she shrugged into it without getting up.
"I'm going to have to reevaluate my impression of you, Robert; a gentleman wouldn't stare so nor would they enter a lady's bed chamber without knocking."
"A lady wouldn't cheat," he retaliated.
"And a gentleman wouldn't be such a poor loser. I already offered to forfeit."
"And you forget I accept that you won no matter how devious you were."
"That was called excellent strategy."
"It was slick is what it was. You were pretty good out there."
"You're very sweet, Bobby, when you want to be."
He grinned. "You called me Bobby."
"That is your name."
"You usually call me Robert. I like it when you call me Bobby."
"Well, Bobby rather suits you this morning. It's boyish and sweet and . . ."
"Oh, right I need to grow up."
"Well, possibly and yet . . . perhaps I was too harsh."
"I'm not a kid, Ororo."
"No, you are not; I never meant to imply that."
"Then what did you mean?"
"You once asked me to teach you but I cannot teach you anything that you don't already know. Sometimes I wish I had your understanding of water and ice and the cold and snow, it's a continuing learning process for me. But if you think you could learn more perhaps Emma could . . ."
"I hate that woman," Bobby muttered.
"We have that in common though hate is perhaps too strong a word, abhor sounds nicer."
"Oh, that's a good one – a whore," Bobby chuckled. "Didn't know you had it in you, Storm!"
"You are never going to change are you?" Ororo said, shaking her head.
"Nope. Why should I be all solemn and grim like you and Scott? Ah man, I didn't mean that, Ororo." he said immediately sorry for his remark.
"I can be solemn and I am often grim but sometimes I do have fun, Robert. We had fun last night."
"Yeah, it was fun. You were different. Maybe you should lighten up some more. It isn't like you're gonna turn into a reprobate like me."
"You are not a reprobate. I guess you're just yourself and there is nothing wrong with being true to yourself. Maybe a little fun is exactly what I need every now and then. I'm absolutely exhausted but I feel surprisingly good."
"Yeah? Me too. I feel real good."
"You're good company."
There was a moment's pause before Bobby looked away from her and opened the pint of store bought ice cream.
"I'm sure I said homemade didn't I?"
"Taste it," he said, dipping a spoon into the hard flat surface of chocolate. He jabbed the spoon at her and she opened her mouth letting him feed her.
"Oh, that's good, Bobby!"
"Yeah, a pinch of me goes a long way."
She laughed, almost choking, hoping he was kidding. He urged more ice cream on her but she took the spoon from him.
"What would everyone think, a young handsome man serving me ice cream in my boudoir so early in the morning after our outing last night?"
He chuckled and said, "That it was Remy maybe or Warren ."
"Probably though you're just as handsome."
Grinning, he took a bite of ice cream
"I like this, you being here with me," she admitted.
"I know! Me too!"
"We should do this more often. Next time when you challenge me I'll be more ladylike."
"You mean you'll play fair."
She shrugged but smiled. "I can try."
"You know I might even let you win if we can do this more often," he said, eyes burning bright.
They ate their ice cream in silence, taking turns scooping spoonfuls of chocolate out of the carton. Outside in the chill morning air the sun rose brilliantly but it went unnoticed as the pint slowly disappeared. He offered her the last spoonful but she waved him off and let him have it. When he was finished, he dropped his napkin back onto the tray; it was as pristine as when he'd started while her robe was spotted with the dark treat.
"You surprise me," he murmured.
"How so? Because I'm a pig? I couldn't help it, it was so good," she laughed when she saw him looking at the mess she'd made of herself.
"Well, that and the way you were last night, like you were high or something, like high on danger."
"Ah, that's the pinch of the Wild One in me," she said as she wiped the front of her gown with her napkin.
"You an' Yukio . . . ?"
"Friends only, Robert – mind out of the gutter please."
"It's not a bad thought," he replied, grinning. "Well, anything else you want from your slave? Need me to help you clean up? I'm bound to serve you all day long you know."
"All day, eh?"
He found his breath stilling, his heart racing. "Want me to stay? I mean I could do something for you, maybe . . . maybe give you a massage?"
She closed her eyes, remembering the relief she'd felt after thinking she'd lost him and the utter pleasure of his solid chest beneath her face, his warmth seeming to seep into her. She opened her eyes when she felt his hand moving a lock of her long hair away from her face. She stared at him completely baffled at the unexpected emotions that she was feeliing for this boy-man. But Bobby Drake was no longer a boy, he was a grown man and he wanted her, this woman of contradictions, this veritable goddess of earth and air and water and ice, and for once he dug within himself and found the courage to take what he wanted. He took the napkin from her, let it fall where it would then held her face firmly between his hands and he leaned over the tray and kissed her.
She looked at him curiously when he broke the kiss and dropped his hands and sputtered, "Maybe I shouldn't have done that but, well . . . I . . . I needed to do that. I . . . "
"You grew up, Bobby," she breathed, taking his face between her hands.
And Bobby Drake kissed her again.
~ Finis ~