Disclaimer: I own nothing at all.
Inspired by and dedicated to Amita, who actually has been amazingly patient.
Ororo sat at her window and didn't watch the sun set. She sat and curled her legs under her and her arms around her, and she didn't make herself watch anything. She just sat.
She thought of Jean and she thought of love and she thought of growing up, and she thought that the boy who wouldn't grow up had missed out. She didn't really know why – she had enjoyed being a child, and it was so much easier than being grown up. But children never quite understood, and people fear what they don't understand.
Then she watched the sunset.
The sun was setting slowly and calmly, all serene, and for a moment she hated it. Then she laughed, and she dropped the clouds and stirred them and deepened them, until the sky was all red and gold and dying spectacularly. And she wondered if she was just trying to prove to herself that she wasn't so grown up after all.
Then she made a gap in the clouds so the sun beamed straight through it like a headlight in the rain and made everything it shone on look bright and magical; and she laughed again because she knew she enjoyed that.
Peter sat up in bed, and he heard the key turning in his door. A girl's head poked in, and it took him a moment to remember her. "It's Lucy," she whispered, and he remembered that she was the flying girl.
"Hallo," he said, but he was watching the door that she carefully shut behind her. It was now unlocked.
Lucy stood against the door and fingered her nightgown. "I just came because you can fly," she said at last, "and I've never met anyone else who can fly like me. And you're so good at it."
Peter was flattered, and he forgot for a moment about the unlocked door. "I'm the best at it!" he said, but then he added quickly, "I could teach you to fly almost as well."
Lucy beamed and gave a little flying bounce, "Oh, could you? You see, it's very hard for me to learn, because I'm afraid of heights and I don't like flying, but I've tried and tried and I am learning to do it. Only I'm still not very good at it."
"Well, it's easy. I know everything!" Peter grabbed her hands and pulled her into the air, but his mind was working. "It would be much better to be outside, though. This room is so small, we can't do anything."
"Well, come on, then!" Lucy was easily convinced. Then she frowned. "Only the doors are always locked, and all the downstairs windows are boarded up. They aren't fixed yet."
"Well, there's your window." Peter tugged on her hand.
She looked at him doubtfully. "Will we have to jump?"
"No, we'll fly!"
"Will you help me?"
He grinned at her, and pushed her door open. "Don't be scared. I'll look after you."
He slid the window open and lifted them both onto the windowsill. "Ready?"
Lucy peeped downward and pulled back a little. "There might be some downstairs windows that aren't boarded."
Peter glared at her, and forgot to whisper. "You aren't thinking happy thoughts!"
"What do you mean?"
"You've always got to think happy thoughts when you fly. It's what lifts you up. Didn't you know that?"
She shook her head. "Nobody ever told me that. Are you sure it's true?"
"Of course it is. No one can fly without happy thoughts."
"Well, I can. I can't think happy thoughts when I'm flying anyway." She pulled back tugging him back from the windowsill.
"Of course you do. Everyone does." Peter was tired of talking and he was starting to realise that she wouldn't jump herself, so he grabbed her hands and pulled them both out the window.
Lucy gave a half scream, and tried to let go of his hands. He held tight to her, because she definitely was not thinking happy thoughts and he was all that was keeping her in the air. They drifted slowly toward the ground, and after a couple of seconds she calmed down and he felt her lift a little.
"I hate you," she gasped.
He glared and considered letting go. "And I just saved your life!"
"It doesn't count when you're the one who almost killed me," she said, but for some reason she laughed, and he felt her grow lighter. Maybe it was just the shock. He had definitely surprised her.
"Come on, then," he said, pulling her upward. "See, you're thinking happy thoughts! There's no way you can fall, now."
She was looking nervously down, now, so he distracted her. "Here, lie back!"
"Yes you can. Just lie back and imagine you're flat on your bed. Imagine you're floating on the ocean."
"I can't swim." The girl was useless. She was trying, but she was scared again.
"It's glorious," he said impatiently. "You just stretch out, and the water just holds you up, and the waves lift you up and down but they don't tip you. It's just like that."
He pulled her higher and higher, until the school looked tiny beneath them.
"I've never been this high before." She was looking down, but she was relaxed now, and floating flat by herself. "I can see everything!"
He gave a crow of triumph. "There. You're flying properly now. I told you I could do it."
She gave him a funny sideways look. "It's only because it doesn't feel real anymore. Maybe I'm dreaming."
"If you were asleep you would fall like the fattest of pirates." Peter was smug.
"No I wouldn't. Sometimes when I have nightmares I lift the whole bed up."
"See, I thought so." Peter nodded. "It's because of the fairydust."
"I don't have fairydust-"
"You do," Peter said authoritatively. "You must be related to a fairy, which is why you can fly. You have fairydust but you don't have wings, so maybe you're half fairy."
"That's crazy," Lucy argued. "It's because I have resistance to gravity. I can lift all sorts of things that I touch."
Peter said nothing, but he looked very smug and wise and knows-better-ish, which he was good at.
Lucy pulled her hand from his and moved a couple of metres away from him without even moving her feet. She didn't seem to notice.
"You're a silly boy," she said. "How old are you, anyway? I bet I'm older."
Peter had been thinking all along about taking her to Neverland, but now he wasn't sure. He didn't know if she'd make a very good mother.
"Lets go down, now," he said.
She was instantly nervous again. "Will you hold my hand?"
"If you want me to. I can catch you if you fall, anyway."
She quickly slipped her hand back in his, and he pulled her downward. He flipped right over as they dropped, pulling her with him, and at first she screamed and then laughed breathlessly. She was a very screamy girl.
They landed on top of the institute wall. He let go of her hand and stood still for a moment, and she stared at him suspiciously.
"Aren't you coming back?"
"But why?" She sounded horrified, and in an instant she looked close to tears.
"Because Peter Pan doesn't go to school." He rose into the air, looking smug again.
"But… but won't you at least help me back in?" She looked silly, and he decided that he didn't like her much, but he hated seeing people crying.
"Oh, alright." He grabbed her hand and pulled her straight off the wall, and she screamed again. He didn't think she was screaming because she was scared anymore, though. She seemed to be screaming for fun.
"Lucy!" Suddenly a man was right in front of them, and Peter dropped her hand and bounded straight into the air. She collapsed onto the ground.
"What are you doing out here? Boy! Get on the ground now!" His hand hovered near his glasses.
Peter skipped backward, but he didn't run. He never ran away. "Why should I?"
"Because it will be best for you if you do. Because I don't want to see you hurt." He was very threatening, but Peter was in familiar territory now.
"Ha. You want me on the ground because you can't fly and I can, and you can't do anything to me up here. You're too old and heavy to fly." He flipped in the air just to rub his taunt in.
"Peter!" Lucy was crying, collapsed in a little lump on the grass. "Don't. You'll die, Peter Pan."
Peter gave a snort of disgust, but he began to drift upward. He did it very slowly, partly so he could see what the man would do, and partly because he didn't want to look like he was running away.
"The world has become a very dangerous place for mutants, Peter," Cyclops said. Peter was already quite far away, and he had to raise his voice to be heard.
"I'm not a mutant."
"No, you're not. But when other humans look at you, they'll see a mutant. They won't understand you, Peter, and people fear what they don't understand."
Peter did a handspring in the air that turned into a dive and a swoop above their heads. "It doesn't matter. I've told you, I can look after myself. I don't need your mutants, or your humans. I don't need anybody!" And he accelerated fast, shooting straight up into the sky, and in a couple of seconds he was gone from sight.
Scott took Lucy back to bed; then he went back into the garden to finish his cigarette. He hadn't used to smoke: Jean told him that she'd rather smell him than cigarette, and if his teeth turned yellow she'd never kiss him again. So he'd quit, and he hadn't really missed it much.
He liked smoking, though. He liked the gentle rhythm of it: the deep breaths and gentle motions; the way the little ember grew and died as he took a pull; the way the smoke curled lazily from the tip. He didn't much care what he smoked, he just liked the motion of it.
He wondered if he should feel guilty about letting the boy go? He could have done more to stop him. Storm would probably be upset, and the professor too, because neither of them could bear to let a problem leave them unfixed. But the boy had a choice too, didn't he? And he had clearly made his choice, too. The kid had a lot of nerve, plus an amazing amount of stubborn willpower. He hadn't given an inch no matter what anyone said, and Scott respected that.
And it wasn't really surprising. There was nothing keeping him at the institute, after all. No friends, no family; nothing he cared for; no debts or sense of gratitude. He had his family back in his fantasy world, and he had freedom to roam the earth wherever he liked. No responsibilities and no regrets.
What would that feel like? To be utterly free. Was he ever lonely? Did he ever lie wherever he slept at night and long for a family? Maybe he had no one and needed no one. Maybe he was content with just himself and his own company.
Maybe that was what it meant to never grow up.
Scott ground his cigarette against a pillar and carefully pocketed it. He never left the stubs around – none of the students were allowed to smoke, and any stubs found on the grounds caused a national inquiry.
He stood for a long moment and watched the sky. It would be so easy to just fly away like the boy. Just to go and never hurt again over anyone else.
But Scott had grown up. He turned and went back inside.
High in the sky a boy was turning somersaults through the clouds. His jacket flopped over his head, and the wind filling it tugged him backward, but he hardly paused, just sliding right out of it. Another roll, and his heavy jeans followed the jacket, drifting down through the sky. The only mark of the Institute left on him was his blue polyester underwear.
Then he was off, laughing crazily at the world. The wind was sharply cold against his thin, bare arms and the stars were bright and waved to him as he passed and the world was green and quiet and dull as ever. Little houses were lit up underneath him and he was so high they just looked like toys. He could almost just reach down and grab one to take home for the boys. Second to the right and straight on till morning. Oh, and wouldn't they have missed him! And think of the faces of whoever woke in the morning to find his clothes outside their window! Just as if they had fallen from the sky. He laughed aloud at the thought.
It had all been a grand adventure.