She has never doubted the Professor, nor his vision. He came to her, in the land of her mother, and her mother's mother, and spoke of matters vital and true. The world needs you, Ororo, he said. The world needs your gift, and your wisdom, and courage.
Ororo contemplated the night sky, traveled the corridors of her heart and her conscience, and said: yes, yes, I will come with you.
She does not regret her decision,
(but longs for clean air, and the chance to stand barefooted once more upon the ground her mother, and her mother's mother walked)
and she does not doubt the greatness, the righteousness of the Professor's dream
(though her own fill her with rage, and terror, and visions of friends, and students, and all those she loves caged, and dead, and wiped from the earth through the force of dreams as great and righteous as Charles Xavier's).
I have never doubted Charles Xavier, nor his dream. I believe in possibility of peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans.
I have hope.
Mystique smiles, and says:
If she is not careful, if she is not controlled, Ororo's emotions play out across the sky for all to know. Lightning splits the sky when she finds Mystique, awaiting her beyond the school's walls. Thunder rumbles, wind whips leaves, and petals, and human filth into the air.
Jean might still be alive, had you not fled. Charles would not be so weary, so wounded, had you not brought him to the edge of genocide. The students would smile more brightly, had you not seduced John with your lies.
The world is dark, and they stand to lose so very much.
Rain gleams against Mystique's skin and scales. She does not move forward, and does not retreat. She looks upon the evidence of Storm's grief, unblinking.
Such anger. Such power.
You could make a difference, Ororo Munroe. You could help us change the world.
Ororo's anger pounds against the street. Her helplessness makes the trees creak, and groan, and shake their branches at the sky.
I make a difference, every day, Ororo says.
She can not remember when her anger grew to be as great as her faith. She can not remember when her fear grew so that her hope seemed small and frail in its shadow.
I do, Ororo says.
Your way will be the death of us all.
Mystique is there when Ororo leaves the school. She is patient, and constant, and she does not try to hide the fact that Ororo is being courted. Professor Xavier had courted the Ororo of so very long ago with kindness, responsibility, hope. Ororo had believed, then, believes now (still, still), yet Mystique finds the fault-lines in Ororo's faith.
Ororo's belief crumbles more easily than it ought.
Xavier's way is a fine dream, but it is a dream. We will never be accepted, free and equal. We will never be accepted, and we will never be safe so long as the world remains as it is.
Ororo can't believe in the world as Mystique sees it (and at her weakest, believes in nothing else).
Mystique is gentle and cruel, and unyielding. This world you love will see you dead, Mystique says. Her fingers are cool, dry, strong against Ororo's chin. This world you fight for will see us all dead, and will rejoice in our passing.
Ororo pauses, speaks softly:
You can't know that. You can't know what the future holds.
Mystique smiles, slow, and sad, and dangerous:
I do. I've had Destiny whispering in my ear.
Cerebro's files are impressive. Ororo sits before the dull blue glow of a computer screen, eyes hot and dry.
Cerebro's file says:
(I know, Mystique said, I do)
(they see the signs, each and every one of them. Mutants, and their very lives are a problem that needs solving)
knows what the future holds, Ororo thinks. There is time to make a difference, and she has hope in the goodness of man, and faith that the role she plays now is the one that she was meant for.
Ororo closes the file. Rolls her shoulders against the knots formed there. Breathes.
(Has trouble meeting the Professor's eyes for the rest of the night).
Lightning splits the sky. It has grown dark with clouds, and the air feels heavy in Ororo's lungs. Mystique is at her side, again, again.
Ororo can hardly remember what it meant to be at peace.
Thunder rumbles alongside her voice.
I will not join you, and I will not be swayed. Leave me be, or I will remove you from my presence.
She sounds strong, and certain, and Mystique does not move from her side. Mystique turns towards Ororo, steps closer, eyes unreadable. Her serpent's smile is beautiful and terrible.
It has been a long time since Ororo has last been kissed.
(Tokyo, where the lights of the city made the nighttime horizon shine. Yukio, smiling, and laughing, and kissing Ororo as if it were the best fun she'd had in ages.
It had been fun, Ororo remembers, and she had enjoyed the laughter almost as much as the kiss itself.
She had felt. . . free.)
Ororo is still, and stiff, and does not move away though Mystique's hands are light against her shoulders. Ororo's eyes close against her tears. Raindrops strike her head, face, soak into the cotton weave of Ororo's shirt.
Come with me, Mystique says, soft, lips held a breath away from Ororo's. Come with me, and you needn't be lonely.
Ororo stumbles back.
Ororo has never regretted her decision to join Charles Xavier and his X-Men
(except for all the times she has).
She has never doubted the Professor, nor his dream
(she has doubted only herself).
She has grown angry, and tired, but Ororo looks at her friends, and her students, and she reminds herself that the future is not set. There is hope, still, and she is not alone.
She has faith.
Ororo closes the curtains against the grey sky.
Note: written for ion_bond in the xmmficathon. The request was for Storm/Mystique, with Mystique in her own shape for at least part of the time.
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