Ororo Munroe shifted her position, feeling the rough bark of an oak tree on her back. Someone was calling her. It was a shame; she had almost been asleep.
"Storm!" The caller was insistent. Ororo blinked open her turquoise eyes and yawned, stretching like a cat in the sun. However, the surrounding setting was anything but sunny. Thick clouds covered the sky, voicing their displeasure in throaty rumbles as they unleashed a downpour. White fog veiled the ground, giving the acres surrounding the Xavier Institute an ethereal look.
But the grounds behind the Xavier Institute were protected from the torrential rain; the droplets halted thirty feet above the building as they collided with an invisible bubble of sorts. Even the fog couldn't touch the area.
A hurricane on the East Coast had cursed the Eastern states with horrible weather for more than a week now. The young mutants at the Xavier Institute grew tired of being stuck inside, and Storm found herself holding off the weather so they could train and frolic outside. That had begun five days ago, and she was thoroughly exhausted. It was all she could do to stay awake.
"Storm, help!" The alarm in the girl's voice was clear, and Storm jerked her eyes open again. A young mutant with red ribbons in her hair was running towards her, her large amounts of silver jewelry flapping against her chest. Ororo recognized one of her students: a low-level telepath called Star for her love of shiny things.
"What is it, Star?" The weather witch rubbed at her eyes.
"It's Jay! We were playing Frisbee, and it fell in the pond and sank, so he dove in after it, and he hasn't come back up!" Star wailed.
Storm was on her feet in a moment, recognizing the name. Jay "Icarus" Guthrie, one of the younger siblings of Paige "Husk" and Sam "Cannonball" Guthrie. "How long ago was this?"
"I don't know, like a minute? I tried sensing for him, but I couldn't find him!" Star's eyes were glistening with tears.
"Lead me," Ororo ordered. Star took off immediately.
There was a small group of mutants clustered around the edge of the pond. Several of the braver ones had waded into the shallows, peering into the water lapping at their calves. They all looked up in relief as Star arrived with Ororo at her heels.
"He went in over there," Star panted, but Storm had already plunged into the murky water.
The icy temperature was like an electric shock. She remained motionless for a moment as her vision cleared and she regained feeling in her extremities before gathering her strength and swimming towards the bottom of the pond.
The lack of clarity in the water made seeing anything a struggle, but Ororo had no problem finding the pond's sandy floor. Half-hidden weeds twined around her legs through her sodden clothing, threatening to keep her prisoner. Twisted rocks loomed in the darkness, and twice she nearly collided with them.
Jay! Where are you? She thought desperately as her air began to run out. One of her outstretched arms collided with something oddly soft, and she immediately recoiled, preparing to turn her attacker into a block of ice.
Not that I'll need to manipulate the temperature much, Ororo thought wryly, feeling shivers trickling through her. The mysterious object slid into focus as she backed up – it was a wing! The red feathers swelled in the underwater currents, giving the appearance of levitation.
And attached to the large red wings was Jay Guthrie, his unconscious form slumped limply in the dark waters. Storm swam closer and saw that his legs had become entangled in the thick weeds carpeting the sandy bottom. She would have to freeze the plants off, and fast, before they were both in need of rescue.
Ororo brought her focus to the particles of water surrounding her and Jay and drew on her powers, manipulating the energy of the water around the villainous plants so their temperature dropped below freezing. The weeds stiffened and turned a pale blue color as frost coated their outsides. Storm ignored the even colder temperature around her and struck at the frozen plants with her feet until they shattered, releasing the winged mutant.
Gathering Jay in her arms, Storm pulled on her energy to create a tide to bear them to the surface. The current nudged them slowly towards the surface, and the edges of Storm's vision went fuzzy as her lungs strained for oxygen. Even with the added bubble of air she had made for herself, she was out of time. She kicked her legs, accelerating their ascent.
Ororo broke the surface with a gasp and instantly began sinking again. Jay's sodden form was an extra weight she couldn't handle. She thrashed in the icy water, trying frantically to get towards shore. Her head went under, and for a terrifying moment she choked, inhaling fluid.
Jay. I have to save Jay, she reminded herself wearily through the panic threatening to cloud her mind. With another thrust of her will she bent the water into a second current that propelled her to the surface again and held her there.
Ororo took in air with a second frenzied gasp and immediately began coughing as she tried to rid herself of the inhaled water. She held Jay close to her, determinedly keeping him above water as her lungs strained for breath.
There was a shout, and hands grabbed her shoulders, hauling her towards the bank. Someone took Jay from her, and her vision began to clear again. A second pair of hands tugged on her roughly, and she collapsed on the grassy turf beside the pond.
Someone rolled her onto her side as she continued to cough. Ororo saw the light-haired Star kneel beside her, her blue eyes wide.
"What do we do?"
"We have to get them to the infirmary."
"He's gone – he can't help."
"Scott's here, what about him?"
"I think I saw Rogue and Gambit near the entrance hall…"
Ororo's coughing had slowed, and she managed to get to a sitting position. "Get Jay to the infirmary," she rasped, drawing the shocked gazes of the young mutants. "Get Rogue, Gambit, Beast, anyone. He needs medical treatment." Her voice was stronger, but the water she had swallowed made it rough.
"Rogue's just inside," Star announced after a moment, closing her eyes and reaching out with her telepathy. A boy and two girls took off towards the Institute.
"Storm, are you okay?" Star whispered.
Ororo managed a shaky nod. "I won't go s-swimming for a while, though." She smiled, clenching her jaw as her teeth chattered.
Star grinned. "Rogue and Gambit are coming. I think they have Kurt with them as well."
"We don't need all of them." Storm rolled her eyes. "It's not a r-rescue mission."
"What is goin' on?" A strong female voice demanded.
Star looked up in relief. A well-muscled woman was flying to meet them, her white-and-brown hair already soaked in the rain. Storm glanced at the sky, noticing for the first time that her bubble had evaporated, unleashing the full wrath of the hurricane-like weather upon the students hovering around the pond.
"I'm okay, Rogue," Storm started as Rogue landed next to them.
"What'n Earth happened?" Her drawl was thick with worry as she took in the ragged form of Ororo and Jay's prone form.
"Icarus went after a Frisbee in the pond and got trapped near the bottom. I went after him," Storm answered simply.
"And nearly drowned!" Star supplied. She shrank back when Rogue's hard gaze swung her way. "I'm Star Johnson, ma'am."
Rogue shook her head. "Storm, let's get y'all to the infirm'ry. Ah'll take winged boy here." She scooped up the young mutant and took to the air, soaring over the heads of Gambit and Kurt as they rushed towards the commotion.
"And here comes the cavalry." Storm smiled, pulling herself slowly to her feet. Star grinned.
"All right, petites, get inside," Gambit's rough accented voice called. "Y'all'll catch your deaths out here." The students happily began moving back towards the dryness of the Institute as Nightcrawler came over to help Storm up.
"Are you okay, fraulein?" His bright eyes swept over her. Thunder cracked overhead.
"I'm…just tired, Kurt," she admitted, leaning against him. He held her close, feeling her shivers with concern.
"Like Rogue said, let's get you to the infirmary."
"I'm fine," Storm protested weakly, though she was happy to have his warm fur to lean into.
"Of course you are, liebchen," Kurt answered under his breath, watching her with tenderness in his eyes.