Disclaimer: No matter how much I wish it, I don't own any part of X-men.
Author's Note: This is a short companion piece to my fic "Let It Rain." Just a quick sort of follow-up. Enjoy!
***Special thanks to: CaptMacKenzie, Michirulove110, shejams, and tina 'Jubilee'-chan for reviewing my fic "Let It Rain." You made my day.***
Remember When It Rained
Ororo Monroe didn't cry. Ever. At fifteen years old she was fun-loving and a bit of a jokester, but she was also tough as nails, thanks in part to growing up in a world that hated mutants. She also had a bit of a rebellious streak. The Professor said it was just a phase and she would eventually grow out of it, but seventeen-year-old Jean Grey wasn't sure. She and Ororo got along well, but where Ororo was daring and adventurous, Jean was often cautious and rule-abiding. Despite her hesitation about her powers, the older girl was a model student: polite, responsible, and brilliant to boot. Ororo, on the other hand, was rather tomboyish and liked to push her limits a little. She had no qualms whatsoever about using her powers, although sometimes she did have a bit of difficulty controlling them. But the two of them got along well enough, despite their differences.
Completing their strange trio was seventeen-year-old Scott Summers. When it came to personalities, Scott was somewhere in between the two girls. He dressed smart and acted gentlemanly (albeit a little bit proud). But he had also been known to use rather ungentlemanly language. And he had his own share of daringness, which meant he and Ororo got along just fine. He had recently developed a fascination with motorcycles, and was determined to get himself one as soon as he turned eighteen. Part of that, though, was to impress Jean, whom he had had a crush on since arriving at the school and had only recently begun to officially date.
They certainly made a strange trio. Ororo was daring and adventurous, while Jean provided the voice of reason. Not that she was often listened to. And Scott? Scott was just along for the ride. (And, of course, for Jean.)
It was a beautiful spring day, and they were currently engaged in a game of foosball. Well, Scott and Ororo were playing foosball. Jean was sitting on a window seat and alternating between watching them and looking outside.
"It's so nice outside," she said. "Let's go for a walk or something."
"Not until I beat her," Scott said, sending the small ball flying down the table.
"We're gonna be here a while," Ororo said, expertly blocking it the ball and sending it right back. Their plastic men battled for dominance, sending the ball flying up and down the table. Finally Ororo skillfully batted it around one of his men and shot it straight into the goal.
"8-5," she said, grinning.
"You are so cheating," Scott said, adding the point to her tally.
"How do you cheat at foosball?"
"I don't know, but you are."
"You're just sore 'cause I'm beating you in front of your girlfriend," Ororo said, grinning viciously.
"Okay. Okay, you know what? That's it. No more Mr. Nice Guy." Scott dropped the ball onto the table. "I am going to kick your tail."
"Bring it on," Ororo said, knocking the ball out of his reach.
Jean rolled her eyes and turned back to the window. They could be such goofs sometimes. She knew Ororo would have cheated if she could have, but the younger mutant didn't have the degree of control necessary to unleash such a small amount of her power. And she also knew that Scott was trying even harder than usual to win just because she was there. Which was precisely why Ororo was determined to beat him.
"Hah!" Scott said, sending the ball into the goal. "8-6 now."
"Not for long," Ororo said, sending it skillfully back down the table and dancing right around Scott's players. A moment later the ball went in the goal once more.
"9-6," Ororo said triumphantly. "This is game point, Laser Brain."
"I don't think so," Scott said, successfully blocking her attempt at another goal. He stole the ball and sent it dancing down the table, only to be stopped by Ororo's goalie.
The two teens battled it out, their men sliding back and forth as the ball rolled wildly around the table. They were both good players, and the ball came dangerously close to both goals numerous times. But in the end, it was Ororo who finally gained the upper hand. She threw her hands into the air as the ball slid into the goal.
"Yes!" She beat the air with her fists. "Take that, Laser Brain!"
"You are such a cheater," Scott said.
"You're just jealous of my skills," Ororo said, grinning.
"I let you win," Scott said. "I can't beat you up in front of Jean. She wouldn't talk to me for a week." He grinned at Jean and she grinned back. Ororo rolled her eyes.
An ornate oak door opened, and the teens turned as the Professor entered.
"Good morning Professor," Jean said politely, smiling at her teacher. He smiled back.
"Good morning Jean, Scott."
"Good morning, Professor," Scott said, standing straight with his arms behind his back. He looked as if he were about to a bow.
"Ororo, may I speak to you for a moment?" the Professor asked.
"Uh, sure Professor."
"You're gonna get it now," Scott whispered teasingly.
Ororo stuck her tongue out at him before following the Professor out of the room. The door shut behind them. Jean got off her window seat and went to stand by Scott.
"What do you think happened?" she asked.
"With Ro, who knows," Scott said. Jean shook her head.
"I don't think it's about anything she did. He didn't look upset."
"Does he ever?" Scott asked. Jean didn't say anything. Scott hesitated, and then said quietly, "You know, you could use your powers and find out."
"Scott!" Jean stared at him as if he had just said something blasphemous. "I am not going to use my powers to invade anyone's mind unless I have to." Scott shrugged innocently.
"It was just a suggestion."
A moment later the door opened and Ororo came back in. She looked almost lost.
"What was that about?" Scott asked.
"My parents," Ororo said. "There was a car accident…" She looked as if her mind was unable to wrap itself around whatever it was the Professor had told her. She looked up. "They're dead."
"Ro, I'm so sorry," Jean said. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Ororo said quickly. "Really, it's not a big deal."
"Are you sure?" Jean asked.
"Yeah." She stood there awkwardly for a moment before heading for another door. "I, uh, I just remembered something I need to go do. I'll see you guys later." Scott and Jean watched her leave and close the door behind her.
"Maybe I should go talk to her," Jean said, starting for the door. Scott caught her wrist.
"I wouldn't," he said. "You know Ro. Give her some space." Jean nodded reluctantly.
x x x
The next three days were rather awkward. Ororo continued to insist that she was fine, but her actions said otherwise. She kept to herself, preferring to eat and study alone. She showed up for classes, but as soon as they were over she always found something she needed to go do. Even when she was around, she was withdrawn and quiet. Jean was at a loss. Scott kept telling her to give Ororo time, but even he wasn't quite sure what to do. The weather only served to reinforce Jean's belief that something was wrong. Clouds kept drifting in periodically and then disappearing just as quickly. There would be a moment of darkness as the sun was blocked, and then a perfectly clear sky. Finally Jean went to the Professor. He told her to give Ororo time, that she would be alright eventually. Jean wasn't so sure.
On the fourth day she decided she couldn't take it anymore. Something was definitely wrong, no matter what Ororo said. Jean was determined to get her to talk.
She searched the mansion from top to bottom, but couldn't find Ororo anywhere. What was more, no one knew where she might be. Jean knew she could find the Professor and ask him to use his powers to find Ororo, but she had a feeling he might turn her down. She almost decided to give up and try and catch Ororo at dinner, but then the sky started clouding up again and she knew she couldn't. So she headed outside and started looking again.
The first place she checked was the gazebo. Sure enough, there was Ororo sitting on the steps with her short white hair. She looked up as Jean approached, her face carefully blank. Then she looked away.
"Mind if I sit?" Jean asked. When Ororo didn't respond, the red-headed girl sighed and sat down beside her.
"I know what you're going to say," Ororo said stiffly, refusing to look at Jean, "and I'm fine. So forget it."
"Are you sure?" Jean asked, obviously concerned.
"The sky looks pretty cloudy to me. Are you sure-"
"I said I'm fine." Her voice was hard as steel. Jean tried again.
"Ro, I know how much you loved your parents," she said gently. "I can't even imagine how much you're hurting." She lay her hand on Ororo's shoulder. "I know you're trying to act strong, but it might help you to talk about it."
"What are you trying to get me to say?" Ororo cried angrily, turning to Jean. "I said I'm fine, and I am! So either drop it, or get lost." She jerked away angrily, turning away.
"I'm fine," she repeated. She tried to say it firmly, but both she and Jean heard just the slightest hint of tears in her voice. Jean hesitated for a second, knowing her friend was breaking inside. She wanted desperately to help, but she was also afraid that if she said the wrong thing Ororo might pull away even farther.
"Look at the sky," she said finally. It was darker now than it had been all day. "I think it's going to rain soon." Ororo didn't respond. She was very obviously struggling to keep herself from crying. Jean shifted a bit so she could see her friend's face.
"Ro, sometimes you just have to let it rain. And that's okay." Ororo took a shaky breath, and Jean slipped a comforting arm around her shoulders. "It's okay to let it rain."
Ororo slowly looked up and met Jean's eyes. Jean smiled sadly at her friend. The younger mutant hesitated a moment, and then two tears slipped down her cheeks. She leaned over and slid her arms around Jean, who returned her embrace. The two girls held each other tightly as Ororo cried. Overhead the clouds finally broke and rain began to fall outside the gazebo, mirroring Ororo's tears.
"I miss them so much," she whispered.
"I know," Jean said. "It's okay."
Neither one of them knew how long they sat there together. It was almost as if time had stopped and there was nothing else in the world but them and the rain. Eventually Ororo's tears stopped, but the rain outside continued to fall. Jean held on to her for a moment longer until the rain slowed and gentled. It was only then that Ororo finally let go.
"The funeral's tomorrow," she said, pulling back and wiping at her eyes. "The Professor said he'd take me." She hesitated. "I don't want to go alone."
"I'll go with you," Jean said, squeezing her friend's hand.
x x x
The funeral took place outside, rather than in a church. Jean was amazed how many people had come to pay their respects. Ororo's parents had been good people.
The sky was sunny for the entire day with not a cloud in sight. Ororo said they would have wanted it that way. She didn't cry, not even when they went up to the caskets so she could say a final good-bye. Ororo Monroe never cried. Jean held her hand through it all, and in the end that was the one thing that enabled her to keep it together. It was that day that cemented the friendship between the two girls. They had always been close, but now it went beyond just friends. They were sisters, and they were there for each other no matter what. Whether it be something as small as catching a cold or something as big as the funeral of their parents, they were there for each other.
The years flew by after that. Jean and Scott graduated, with Ororo not far behind. In the end they all decided to stay on at the Mansion and help the Professor teach others. Scott and Jean were married not long after. Ororo was their maid of honor. The three of them were there when the Professor's legs gave out and he had to get a wheelchair. They were there as young mutants came and went through the years. They were there as the world began to change, as the existence of mutants became more and more public. They were there when the Senate attempted to pass the Mutant Registration Act, and they were there when Magneto attempted to use young Rogue to start his war. They were there when Stryker tried to wipe out all of the mutants in the world in one sweep. And that was where it began to crumble. Jean went first, giving her life to save the others. It had almost killed Ororo to lose her closest friend. In a way she had lost Scott that day too. He hadn't been himself after that. And then one day she woke up and he was gone too. She had almost gotten Jean back that day. Almost, but not quite. When the Phoenix had killed the Professor, Ororo had known she had to make herself let Jean go. And then Logan had sent his claws through Jean's stomach, and she had been gone for good.
They had won the Battle of the Cure, had won the right to exist in this world. It had come at a terrible price. But they had won, and it was that thought that kept Ororo going most days. The pain never really went away, but it got easier to bear with each passing day. She had the school to run and students who loved her. That helped. The Professor would have been proud of her and how well she managed. So would Jean.
And so it was that almost seventeen years after the death of her parents Ororo, then called Storm, found herself out in back of the Mansion staring at three tombstones. It was Jean's birthday, the first since her death. Storm missed all three of the people represented by the tombstones, but today she missed Jean especially. She could remember Jean's last birthday when she and the students had acted as though they had forgotten only to surprise Jean with a party after dinner. She had gotten her friend a new charm bracelet with three charms, each representing a special memory of theirs. One of them had been an umbrella. She could still remember the smile on Jean's face…
Storm's ears caught the sound of quiet footsteps on the grass, and she turned to see Rogue had come up and was standing beside her.
"Hey," the girl said quietly.
"Hey," Storm said.
Rogue was holding a large red flower. She stepped forward and silently lay it on the grass at the foot of Jean's tombstone. There were already several flowers there from other students. Most of them were red: Jean's favorite color.
Rogue walked back over to Storm and the two of them stared in silence at the tombstone.
"Jean and I were always close," Storm said finally. "Especially after my parents died. We went through a lot together, good and bad. I guess we were really more like sisters than friends. When she died… It almost killed me. And then Scott and the Professor…" She sighed. "And then I had to lose her all over again."
"I wish there had been another way," Rogue said softly.
"There wasn't," Storm said. "She knew that. So did Logan."
"I miss her too," Rogue said, knowing what Storm was thinking. Storm nodded, her eyes still on the tombstone.
"I know I'm a lot younger than you," Rogue said a bit awkwardly, "and it might be kinda awkward, but if you ever need somebody to talk to or anything…"
"Thank-you, Rogue," Storm said, genuinely grateful for the small gesture. Rogue nodded. Storm looked back at the tombstone, and then back at Rogue. Her eyes were a bit wet. Rogue moved forward and the two mutants hugged each other.
"It's okay to let it rain," Rogue said quietly, using the same words Storm had given her a month earlier. Storm smiled a little in spite of herself as she heard Jean's words coming from Rogue's mouth. The situation and speaker had changed, but their purpose was still the same. No matter how much the world changed, there were some things that just never would.
"I know," she said. They let go of each other, but continued to stand together, looking at the tombstone. Storm reached down after a moment and found Rogue's gloved hand. A few small clouds began to come in, darkening the sky a bit. Storm sighed.
"You might want to head in," she said, giving Rogue's hand a final squeeze before letting go. "I think it's about to get a bit damp out here."
"I don't mind," Rogue said. "I kinda like the rain."
"So do I," Storm said quietly. She slipped her arm around Rogue and the younger mutant lay her head on Storm's shoulder. "So do I."
What do you guys think? Please review and let me know! It would totally make my day. :) Also a quick note: I'm currently writing another short fic about Jean and Storm's friendship, so make sure and keep an eye out for it. It should be up in the next few days. Thanks again for reading!