Storm Watching parts 17 and 18
Wesley followed the Professor into the kitchen, his uneasy thoughts churning inside him, and the final soul pearl a small lump in his pocket. He felt far too aware of it, with the sort of focus that would normally be reserved for a hot coal in his pocket, or perhaps a little like the bit of candy that he’d stolen when he was a small child – had he been four? Five? It had clattered and rattled and thumped against him until he’d managed to slip off and eat it, and he’d ended up with a stomach-ache. Probably more for the nerves than the sweet, but still… a soured memory.
There was a teakettle steaming cheerfully on the stove, and several small pots of herbs growing in the window. Ororo was just pulling down a mug from the cupboard as Wesley entered the room, making his first sight of her a cloud of white, with a bluish gray skirt emerging below and an expanse of arm rising above.
“Ororo, so good to see that we’re just in time for tea.” The Professor’s voice sounded warm, almost like a half remembered television commentator from when Wesley was young. He’d hosted some historical show, and he’d had a big bushy mustache and a rounded red nose… But that wasn’t important right now.
“Professor, Wesley.” She was smiling as she turned around, eyes bright and shining. Did her smile grow a touch wider at the sight of Wesley? “I’m… glad to see you today.”
“Good afternoon.” Wesley felt like a tongue-tied idiot, groping wildly for something polite to say. Something other than ‘you look like a goddess’ or ‘all things are better now that I’ve seen you’… and that sounded trite even in his own mind. “You look… lovely. Wonderful. Umm… shall I help with the tea?”
“Thank you. Could you put out the cream and sugar?” Her voice was soft, calm and flowing, like a stream.
Wesley realized that the Professor had faded from someone who’d raised an interesting point to mobile scenery to offset Ororo. Reminding himself to try not to become too focused on Ororo, Wesley nodded. “Yes, of course. Lemon?”
The Professor sounded almost amused as he accepted a cup of tea and wheeled himself out of the kitchen. “Why don’t I just leave the two of you here to talk?”
Wesley could feel himself turning an unbecoming pink as he stared into the bottom of his cup. Had he truly been that obvious? His emotions verging on becoming an incomprehensible knot, he risked glancing up at Ororo. Everything seemed to be pushed back in order to allow himself the pleasure of noting the tiniest details of her, like the single short curl trying to escape along her temple and laying near her eye, or the way that her eyes weren’t a single solid hue, but filled with flecks, some almost turquoise, others the color of lapis, and others darker still, nearly black.
“I… Wesley, you leave me feeling entirely off balance.” Ororo’s soft words carried a mingling of emotions – hope, uncertainty, dismay, pleasure…
“Well, at least I’m not the only one feeling like a handbook with instructions might be nice.” The joke, feeble as it was, was the first thing other than bad poetic verses to come to his mind.
“But these are emotions, there are no guide books.” She settled in the chair beside him, smiling as she held her teacup. “We must simply muddle through, I suppose. But perhaps… perhaps we don’t have to be alone?”
Wesley smiled, feeling a great relief at her words. “Dear lady, you give me hope. You make me feel… so many things, among them a great awkwardness. I look at you and want to go out and slay dragons or something equally heroic and implausible, and at the same time… You are not a damsel in distress that needs a brave knight to keep her safe from the world. Or you inspire poetic comparisons, which would be much better if I had any skill with poetry. Sadly, I haven’t the skill to write anything worth preserving. Ororo, you are lovely, serene, polished, and capable, and… I can’t understand why you don’t have people following you in droves.”
“Perhaps because I am a mutant. Perhaps because I was once a thief… Perhaps because… because our lives here are not easy. They are filled with threat and danger, both from people who hate, and from other mutants. It is the sort of thing that can shatter any but the strongest relationships.” Her voice was filled with regret and sorrow.
Wesley sipped at his tea in an effort to moisten his suddenly dry mouth. The near scalding heat of it seemed to peel away at the inside of his mouth, and he hastily added a bit more cream. “I am not afraid of your mutation. Perhaps a bit awed, but not afraid. As for adversity… it can shatter relationships. But it can also give them strength, forge strong bonds between hearts and minds… I admit that there are many things in the world that frighten me, and that, to an extent, the idea of falling in… of falling for someone is on that list. Significantly lower than an apocalypse, or… well, it’s a fear for me. Love… Caring for someone can be wonderful or painful, depending on how they feel about you.”
“Intrigued and… well, I suppose I’m a bit nervous.” Ororo was glancing at him through her pale lashes. “Caring… it leaves you open, both to joy and pain. What if I’m not… what if I can’t manage to have a successful relationship? Nothing in my life has been about…”
“Nothing prepared you for dealing with feelings?” Wesley smiled a little, relaxing a bit. Parts of the knot inside of him were loosening. “I feel much the same way. But… If we do not let ourselves care, something inside of us withers. Without caring, we don’t live, we just exist.”
“But caring can lead to pain. If things… go badly, or if something… if you were to be caught in the middle of something and injured, or died…” Ororo’s whisper was soft, as if the words were slipping past some obstruction.
“Everyone dies eventually. Kitty and I…. We had a reminder of that today, at the hospital. Death… it is there, part of life. And it hurts, it stings. But…” Wesley groped for the words, as if he could somehow the right words together could explain everything.
“But you think that it’s worth it? Worth the chance of pain and heartache?” One of her hands reached out, almost but not quite touching him. “You think it would be worth trying, even if…”
Leaning forward, Wesley brushed his lips over hers. “I think it would be worth the risk. I’m willing to try, willing to… well, possibly hide from the fighting, but to stand well back and offer moral support.”
“And to maybe be right there with me?” Her voice was soft, her hand now cupped over his cheek. “To offer help in solving the tests and troubles of life, someone to lean on when I feel weary?”
“God, yes, I want to be there for you.” The whisper slipped out.
Then her lips were on his again, a hint of lemon and a hint of cream flavoring the kiss. It seemed as if time itself stopped, allowing this moment to be savored. Not a fleeting brush of lips in the park, but something more. Not a passionate exploration, but… it was as if something was being offered, promised, and accepted all at once. As if this was the affirmation of something wonderful.
“It won’t be easy.” Her words were hesitant, as if she regretted the kiss ending. She was still there, her forehead resting on his, one hand on his cheek, the other on his shoulder.
“Few things worth having or doing are easy.” Wesley could almost drown in her eyes. He was suddenly certain that when he died, hopefully many years from now, he wanted those glorious eyes to be his last sight.
End part 17.
“Of course, this makes you part of the family now. Part of this wonderful, chaotic, exasperating family that tries so very hard to make the future a little better, a little safer for all of us.” Her smile made the words seem like the most delightful of accolades.
“Part of this group… part of a family by choice and goals and hopes instead of by birth.” Wesley wondered if he could possibly be smiling as wide as it felt like his smile stretched. “There are certainly worse fates than that.”
From the doorway came a rather unhappy noise, not quite a squawk or a ‘hey!’ but containing elements of both. There was also Kurt’s accented “Alright Wesley! Way to go.”
Glancing over, Wesley blinked at the beaming Kurt and the most likely embarrassed Evan – why else would he be standing there with his hand over his eyes, leaning against the doorway? He was probably blushing. “Does this make him my… what, my almost nephew?”
“More like both of them, actually.” She was trying not to giggle, and almost succeeding.
“Yes! I get an uncle who vill let me play with the swords!” Kurt looked absolutely delighted, and vanished in a cloud of dark smoke, leaving a rather unpleasant stench in the air, like burnt matches or rotten eggs.
Evan’s voice was less cheerful. “I’ll just… go to the other room.”
“Somehow, I think he was hoping that I’d just help you get better and then go away. Or at least, stay on the bare periphery of your life.” Wesley sighed, wondering how difficult Evan would be about things. Evan seemed like a mostly good boy, a bit wild, but good-hearted. But how upset would he be at the idea of someone dating his aunt? Someone of such a completely different background?
“Well, he shall simply have to get used to the idea.” Her soft declaration seemed to warm Wesley from the inside out.
“It might take a while for him to get used to the idea. I think he’s still trying to understand that demons are real. It’s hard for most people to accept. Honestly, things might be simpler if they were just strange looking mutants, but… life isn’t easy, and there are far more and stranger things than are first apparent.” Wesley sighed, feeling oddly hurt by Evan’s reaction. It wasn’t quite a surprise, and there really was no reason to expect Evan to be happy, but… Emotions wouldn’t always listen to reason.
“Part of it is just… It will take a while for him to become used to the idea of me dating.” She sighed once before looking up, a small amazed smile on her face. “I’m dating you.”
“And I’m rather amazed by it myself.” Wesley smiled back. “Not that I’m complaining. Change can be good.”
Ororo just smiled, sighing contentedly at him as she slowly stood up, as if reluctant to part from their embrace. “Yes, some change can be good.”
Wesley just took a moment to look at her, and allow himself to consider everything that had happened recently. He’d fought a demon, broken the news of the supernatural to a whole group of people, and restored four of five lost souls. And now, he had Ororo, sort of. They were going to try to form a relationship, hope that their differences could enable them to fit together instead of keeping them apart. He was now part of this group, part of a large, delightful, half mad family.
He hadn’t intended to say anything, but when the words came out, they just felt so natural and true that he couldn’t even wish to take them back. “I finally found a place where I might belong. Somewhere to feel welcome and accepted for myself, not my father, or my job, but just for Wesley.”
“I rather like Wesley.” Her soft words made him feel almost invincible.
For once, he was no longer on the edges of life. No longer simply watching and wishing to take part like those around him, but living it, enjoying life. Let the storms wash over him instead of just watching them flow through… And there was one Storm in particular that he wanted to be much closer to. Yes, life was full of risks, and there was pain, but it was worth it.
End part 18.
End Storm Watching.