Title: Reflection Only Counts for So Much
Rating: G & it’s Gen, so it’s double G
Characters: Kurt Wagner, Ororo Monroe, mentions of Logan and everyone else
Word count: 1854
Notes: I’m so sorry a little bit of angst worked it’s way in there. I promise it’s not the predominate thing. I tried to work in a few of your prompts. I'm sorry I’m such a slacker and this is posted on the last possible day, but I hope you (and anyone else reading this) enjoys! Constructive crit and comments of all kinds are always welcomed :)
There wasn’t a year that went by that the students of Xavier’s – past and present – didn’t gather beneath a large Pine in the den around this season. There also wasn’t a year that passed where the gathering was on the same day. It had to do with schedules, traveling, conflicts, and a million other reasons. There were enough reasons to keep all of the x-family apart, and yet every year they came together.
It was enough to give most of them hope – hope that there was something worth fighting for and hope that they did belong to a family. Ororo Monroe would never disrespect the seedlings of joy that took precarious root in the hearts of those she loved, but that did not mean she could always tolerate taking part in all of the merriment. So many bodies crammed into a relatively small room – not that any part of the mansion was truly small – and spilling out into the foyer, the hall, and even as far as the kitchen. All exits were blocked off, and sometimes it felt to her as though oxygen itself was being blocked off.
While she didn’t mean to be a recluse – indeed, those days were behind her – she just couldn’t bring herself to endure such constrictive chaos. In no way did Ororo mean to disrupt the festivities or for her departure to be obvious (she had made an appearance) but she should have known her disappearing act would gain the attention of at least one man.
Dark eyes peered at her over the top step leading to her loft, a lithe body curled and concealed on the steps leading back to the singing and cheering shared by many generations this night. Kurt stayed still for just a few moments, trying to gauge Ororo’s mood. As secretive as she could be, he was always able to read her – to empathize with her. He just hoped he was correct in wresting the right to come join her away from
“Can I join you in your reverie, Windrider?”
She turned, startled for a moment with an honest but unreadable expression. Then it was gone, masked by a polite and guarded smile. “Of course, Kurt. Please, come up.”
Ororo turned back to her large windows, the brisk night air kept at bay by her will. Her attic was a pleasant temperature, so much so that Kurt could almost ignore the chill coming off of Ororo’s shoulder.
“Had enough of the festivities early this year?”
She just sighed with an affected grimace. “Was I conspicuous in my absence?”
“No more than any other year.”
Her grimace deepened, and she turned slightly away from Kurt. Ororo lifted her face to the stars and tried to get lost in them, yet remain conscious of the ground beneath her feet and the company in her room.
“That upset you, Ororo? My apologies if --.”
“No, Kurt, it isn’t what you said. I’m sorry for my demeanor.”
“No need. You came to be alone; I’m intruding.”
“I invited you up. Besides, your company is never an intrusion.” She offered him a forced and tired smile.
He returned the grin, but with more luster. “I appreciate that, ‘Ro. But your mood is as transparent as Glob’s body.
“That’s hardly appropriate,” she gently admonished.
“Would you prefer I said saran wrap?”
She giggled a little. A very little, but it was still there.
“Still… “ Kurt placed his hand comfortingly on her bare shoulder. “Something keeping you away from the gathering, and it’s more than the normal confinement.”
Carols drifted up her steps, songs sung off key by a mass of cheery voices. This just made Ororo more sad around her bright eyes.
“It’s just… in a year of so much loss, how can we celebrate?”
“Forgive me if I seem crass, ‘Ro, but it’s not the loss we celebrate… but the living.”
“I understand that, Kurt. I just … sometimes it seems pointless to carry on as if it’s a fresh start when each year just brings more of the same.”
She nodded. “Among other things.”
“I see.” He rubbed his chin with his first digit. “And you are jealous of those who get to rest?”
Turning a shocked look on him for just a moment, Ororo actually acquiesced with a nod.
“’Ro, I don’t need to tell you about the circle of life, nor that I believe we will see our fallen comrades again. But perhaps you need to be reminded that there are powers up there,” Kurt paused to gesture up towards the night sky, “that know the road map and the twists and turns we must take on our way to our destination. We’re simply not there yet, unlike others who have a shorter journey.”
A few moments passed in silence. Ororo had nothing to say that wouldn’t sound morose and she had no interest in contaminating Kurt’s joyous holiday mood. Kurt was mulling over what he could say that wouldn’t seem disrespectful to her thoughts or those that had passed. It was Ororo who spoke first.
“I’m sorry, Kurt. I think sometimes the frustration is overwhelming.”
“Does this ‘time of year’ make it worse for you?”
“Not particularly…. Please believe, I love that so many gather at the mansion to celebrate life and the miracle of hope. And while it is necessary for me to remove myself before feeling entrapped, it’s not necessary for my mood to turn sour and certainly not necessary to corrupt your mood.”
“No corruption, no foul.” He smiled brightly at her. “So… the end of the year then, and not the holiday season, is what set you off on this path of thought?”
“You might say that, yes.”
“Well, I have this perception on a year… no year can be remembered as bad that ends with good.”
The corners of her mouth lifted, but not enough. “But can you block out all of the bad in favor of a few fleeting moments of joy? If you can, may the goddess bless you… it’s just a task that’s a little too difficult for me, and getting harder with each year that passes.”
“It’s not about forgetting the bad… it’s about balancing it with the good. And if there isn’t enough, then you have to make your own.”
She didn’t even need to respond for Kurt to know how she felt; he could see by the further slump of her normally proudly squared shoulders that Ororo just lacked the emotional energy to create her own.
Kurt wondered if his was too soft a touch. There had been many times
“There is too much to let yourself be sad about if you give the demons a chance. I choose to laugh.”
“And be mocked for that as well as your appearance?”
“Ouch, Ororo.” Despite his determination not to be pushed away, it seemed as if she was going to try. That was Ororo – full of life, and fire.
“I’m sorry, my friend. I suppose there was more than one reason I extracted myself from the yearly holiday celebration. I didn’t want to infect anyone else with my negative spirit.”
“Ororo,” Kurt gently turned her to face him as he spoke. “No one on this planet or any other would ever describe your spirit was negative. Look around your living space and see the beauty that flourishes because of your loving touch.”
She did as he asked and looked around her attic: lovely in it personal touches, thriving with plant life, and a peaceful oasis. Even though she had meant to create a soothing atmosphere, there were times she forgot to be soothed by it. A small smile tugged at the edges of her mouth as she turned back to her friend.
“Why did you come up here, Kurt?”
“Because I drew the longer straw, Ororo.” Kurt responded with such a straight face that Ororo couldn’t tell if he was joking or not.
So she chose the response that felt right: she laughed. Her hair tossed back, her mouth wide open with a good, real, happy laugh that sounded as if she had been holding it back for years. Kurt smiled warmly at her.
“I’m not kidding, Ororo. Logan and I sat in the corner of the kitchen, to hide away our game. Since he obviously cut the straw, I got to hold them… and he drew the short straw. So I got to come up here and talk to you.”
As Ororo sobered up from her laughing fit, she found she couldn’t wipe off her smile. She also found that she didn’t want to try. “The two of you seriously drew straws? I’m surprised yours was not the short end, my friend.”
Sweeping her hand up in between his own, Kurt bowed his head and placed a soft kiss on Ororo’s knuckles. “It is an honor to spend the evening with you, my lady.” He watched her smile turn soft and appreciative before following it up with, “Besides,
Still gifting him with her lovely grin, Ororo asked, “Why tonight, my friend? It’s no particular holiday.”
“It is not one in particular, but in this house it’s something more. It is the holidays. A time for family, friends, egg nog, and…” Kurt smirked with devilish glee. Ororo arched her eyebrow with anticipation. Then from behind Kurt’s back his tail slowly ascended, and dangling off the point… a ball of mistletoe.
Biting her lip to hold back the laughter – a habit Kurt was making a mental note to break her of this year – Ororo shook her head.
“Don’t tell me you’re surprised?” Kurt asked with a wink.
“I’m constantly surprised by you, Kurt Wagner.” She placed her hand gently over his heart. “And it makes me love you more every time.”
As Kurt leaned in, swinging his tail so that the holiday herb was just above their faces, the carols once again wafted up the steps. This time it seemed though they permeated the floorboards, the furniture, and the air around them. With a happy inhalation of cold, fresh air, Ororo leaned in towards Kurt. Their lips only touched for a moment or two, but it was as if all the sadness drained out of her right then. Kurt’s sweet, gentle kiss was reassuring and affectionate in all the ways she longed for.
When Kurt pulled back, he watched Ororo slowly open her eyes. There was a bright sheen to them, glimmering with unshed tears of joy. But when she spoke, her voice was not tight with emotion, but rather calm with all the things she had accepted and all all the life she had left to live.
“Thank you, my friend, for giving me a beautiful gift.”
“Anytime, Ororo, I am pleased to make joyous memories with you, and all my family.”