Of course these are not my characters; they belong to Marvel. I'm just playing around with them. This is a work in progress; please give me any feedback you have. Thanks for your time!
Ororo flopped onto the couch with a sigh, staring with a mixture of disgust and sadness at the tickets in her hand.
"Vi! Of ALL the times you would cancel! It would HAVE to be NOW!" she thought.
She hadn't really paid much attention to the library's occupant when she had chosen this spot to indulge in a little self-pity. It was a Thursday morning, well before ten o'clock, and the children of the house had left for school. Technically, that left a very large mansion with very few people to fill all the spaces. To be exact, it left herself, Hank, Logan, and, of course, Charles. The latter was currently regarding her with a raised eyebrow, the book in his hands momentarily forgotten. Isn't it nearly always the case that when we expect to find ourselves alone, we find the most attentive of audiences instead?
"Oh! Charles! I'm sorry; I didn't realize you were here—I hope I'm not interrupting…"
"Of course not," he replied, a small smile on his lips. "You seem upset. Is everything okay?"
Under normal circumstances, she would've waved off his concern with a "Oh it's nothing." But today…
She sighed and smiled, looking at the stubs of paper in her hands.
"It's nothing terribly important; it's just…well, it's mine and Vi's date," she air quoted, "night, and, well, I really was looking forward to this event. And she's cancelled."
"Yes, well, you know, it's not a big deal, but we've had our Thursday morning dates for years. It's nothing big; we just go out and see a movie and then have lunch. I only just bought these tickets yesterday; she was SURE she was going to come, but then…oh well," she sighed resignedly.
Charles regarded her for a moment, then closed his book and asked, "would you like someone to go with you?"
She giggled, replied, "are you saying you'd like to watch a movie with me? And maybe have lunch…if you play your cards right?"
He chuckled, smiled, "I am assuming your tickets are non-refundable?"
"They are not."
"Well then, if you'd like my company, I'd be more than happy to ensure you didn't lose out on—"
He covered his growing smile with his hand. "You don't want to go by yourself?"
"No one wants to go by themselves to see a movie, Charles. That's just silly. I would love to have you come along, but I'll warn you, my tastes are very eclectic," she beamed.
"Alright then. I'll meet you in the garage in—"
"Twenty minutes," she answered, and jumped up to get ready. She turned at the door, looking back at him, "Thank you."
He smiled in reply.
As they moved along the driveway and out onto the main streets, Ororo couldn't help but be excited. She had known Charles for twenty years and loved him, albeit in different ways, the entire time. He had saved her as a child from a life of slavery under the foul rule of the Hungan, had taken her in at fifteen to teach her to control her gifts and master her fears, and, while in college, had been the one person she dared to call for help when a relationship went VERY sour. She was twenty-four when that happened; she had not dated anyone since. Ororo now knew why she hadn't; she just wasn't sure when. At some point, Charles had become more to her; maybe it was that night, standing in the rain she had called forth in her pain, her suitcase in one hand and her cat, Pharaoh, mewling pathetically in his cage in the other. Maybe it had always been; after all, DeMarcus had always accused her of senselessly comparing him to Charles (she had scoffed at this at the time). Regardless, she had spent the last two years in secret agony; she was in love, but incapable of telling the center of her affections how she felt. She had insinuated herself in small doses; finding time to spend with him alone that was benign on the surface. Oh what had she gotten herself into?
The movie ended, the credits beginning to roll. The lights faded back into existence, illuminating the passageways between chairs. Charles peered over at Ororo, who shrugged and gave him a sheepish smile.
"I had no idea you were a horror film fanatic," he said.
"I am rather fond of them," she smiled, continued, "I actually have been a big fan of '80s slasher films…oh…since college."
They began to move out of the dimly lit room and into the hallway of the aging theatre. They exited and began moving towards the parking lot, expounding all the while on her penchant of horror flicks.
"I just love the cheesy plot lines and complete lack of character development. And the blood! Goodness it's so unrealistic and no one would just ignore some madman skulking about their house with a giant knife! And yet, these films keep getting made! I can't get enough of them. Anyway, my friend Bruce introduced to me the Reynolds Theatre and its weekly horror showcase. I've been hooked ever since."
"Can you still manage some lunch after all that blood?"
"Charles, please. I'm a professional."
He chuckled and they looked around for a place, spotting one just up the street from the theatre. The sign hanging out over the street read 'Amore'.
"Have you ever tried that place?"
"Would you like to?"
"Of course! This is adventure Thursday, Charles!"
They moved down the sidewalk and towards the bar, noting the small stores that filled some of the retail spaces, the ones that were empty, and the ones occupied by bars that were not open at noon Thursday, as a general rule. There were consignment shops, antique stores, high-end art galleries, low-end art galleries, the pair of competing record stores, and at least three women's boutiques. They passed a salon that had its doors propped open despite it being a bit chilly. The air was filled with the smell of new nails and town gossip. The trees lining the ancient main street of Bayville swayed gently in the spring breeze; it was a lovely day. They reached the Amore sign and Ororo opened the door into the bar. Charles wheeled himself inside and they waited for the hostess.
"Would you like to sit inside or outside," the hostess asked.
Charles looked to Ororo, who promptly replied, "outside, please."
The bar itself was an old East coast building. It was longer than it was wide, and the interior felt a little cramped. The patio area of the bar, however, was double that width and just as long. It was cobbled and sported a pergola that was the main bone of contention in a war fought viciously by ivy and honeysuckle vines. One of the four outdoor fans was on, ensuring that the smoke from the only other patrons of the bar would not inadvertently offend any newcomers. The smokers were suspicious, as smokers are when forced to share their dwindling space with non-smokers in an establishment dedicated to eating. The woman narrowed her eyes and focused on the pair, looking for signs of anti-smoker sentiments.
"How's this," the waitress asked.
"Perfect," Ororo responded.
"Awesome. Can I get you anything to drink or do you need a few moments?"
Charles checked his watch then replied, "I'll have a dirty martini."
The waitress wrote, "and you?"
"You know, I have never had a martini. What are they like?"
"Like a lot of gin," the waitress replied, her nose scrunching at the thought.
Charles smiled, "it's gin, vermouth, and, in the case of mine, a little bit of olive juice. If you don't like gin, it might not be the best drink to order."
"I'm not really sure if I do or not. I'm sure I've had it at one point, but I really don't recall."
"Gin tastes like Pine-Sol. A vodka one's alright though," the waitress added helpfully.
"I thought it was adventure Thursday," Charles chuckled.
"Alright, I'll do it. I'll have what he's having."
The waitress shrugged and took down the order. "A couple of waters too?"
They nodded and she left, moving to the other couple on the patio.
"So, Vi likes horror movies too?"
"Not in the least. Our visits are monthly; I pick the activity one month and she gets to pick the next month. Hers, as you can probably imagine, usually include a mall and very tiny bits of food on plates. Zero carbs. Does gin have carbs?"
"I don't think so."
At the mention of martinis and carbs, the drinks arrived along with their waters. The waitress took their lunch orders and then checked on the other couple.
Ororo took a tentative sip and Charles watched her intensely.
"Well? What do you think," he asked.
"It's...," she thought for a moment, "it's okay. Actually not too bad. Okay so, why a martini?"
Charles smiled, said, "They're considered the great American contribution."
"Contribution to what?"
"I assume alcoholism." They laughed, sipped, and he continued, "did you know that if you ask for extra olives, the bartender will never give them to you in pairs? It always has to be an odd number. For instance, if I had asked for extra olives, the bartender would've given me three as opposed to two."
"Really? Why is that," she asked, sipping at her drink.
"It's considered unlucky," he replied, and took a drink.
"I didn't know martinis were so deep."
"Well, I don't know about deep, but now you know as much as I do when it comes to them," he said.
She smiled, took another drink, then said, "okay, it's your turn. You now know about my weird obsession for horror flicks; tell me something about yourself I don't already know."
He replied, "what?"
"Well, isn't that the point of a date? To find out more about the other person?" She smiled at him demurely.
He cocked his head, thought, then replied, "Yes, I suppose that is the purpose. Okay, something you don't know about me. Hmmm...this is going to take some thought. 'Ro, you've known me for twenty years; I'm not really sure what you don't know about me."
"Oh c'mon. You didn't know I love gory movies."
"True. Okay, well, I'm going to have to think about this for a minute."
As he thought, their food arrived. They ate in relative silence, commenting on the trivial and on the overly-suspicious smoker woman.
"I feel as though she's about to just come out and ask us if her smoking bothers us. But not like in a 'I'll-put-this-out-to-appease-you' sort of way; more like a 'I-dare-you-to-confront-me sort of way."
Charles choked a little on his food, recovered, smiled, then said, "I think you might be on to something there."
They ate a bit more in silence until Charles, setting down his fork with confidence said, "I've got it."
Ororo looked at him expectedly.
"My hair was blonde," he said triumphantly.
There passed between them a moment of sheer silence, Charles happy that he'd come up with something and Ororo digesting that information. She said nothing. His smile, which had been wide and unexpected, faded. He cocked his head to the side, grew thoughtful then said, "You're imagining me with hair, aren't you?"
Ororo burst into a fit of laughter. "Yes...actually...yes...I was trying to imagine you with hair! I must say, that is one thing I never knew about you that I didn't know I'd always wanted to know."
Charles laughed. Not a chuckle, not a smirk. He actually threw back his head and laughed. It was good to see; she hadn't seen him laugh like that in...oh who knew? His shoulders dropped and he was beaming at her. It was as though his protective Professor shield had gone; she was now interacting with the man beneath that shell. And that man was wonderful. He reached across the table and took her hand. They continued their meal in amiable conversation, but it was the best she had had with him ever.
At 9:30pm, Charles made his way into the library with two cups of tea, as was their custom. Whomever was last to enter the library for their nightly peace and quiet time was responsible for bringing the tea. He entered and handed a cup to Ororo.
"Here's your tea."
"Thank you," she replied, taking the cup from him.
"Long session with Jaime*?"
"Yes. His nightmares don't come as often as they used to, but when he has them, they're just as bad as they always were," Charles sighed.
"I don't doubt it for what that child's been through," she shook her head.
"Nor do I, but I wish I could do better."
She smiled, taking his hand, "You're doing your best. What is it you always used to say? 'Proper healing takes proper time'?"
He smiled and looked into his forgotten tea mug, his hand still in hers. "You're right. I should follow my own advice."
She raised her eyebrows at him and smiled, gently caressing his hand with her thumb. He looked into her eyes with a small smile. "'Ro, what would I do without you to keep me in line?"
"You'd manage," she replied.
That night he lay in his bed, replaying the day's events in his mind. He couldn't stop thinking about her. Even though Ororo had been his closest friend in years, he had suddenly begun to think of her in an entirely new way. During their date, he'd never felt so alive. He kept telling himself, though, not to get too excited; after all, she referred to her monthly outings with Vi as dates. Perhaps she thought of their excursion in the same way, replacing her sister with a good friend. After all, she hadn't asked him to go; he'd simply invited himself along when she looked upset about missing the movie.
Besides, he thought, what would a beautiful young woman like that want with an old cripple like me?
His ex-wife had often referred to him as 'the dumbest telepath' she knew. Although he was quite sure that he was the ONLY telepath she knew, he got the point: he refused to use his abilities unless there was a need. So, like countless lovestruck others across the vastness of human existence, he struggled to decipher every touch, word, gesture, or expression that had happened that day to glean some meaning from it; in a sense, he was going through the old nursery rhyme of 'she loves me; she loves me not' but instead of flower petals, he assigned a love or love-not to the happenings of the day.
She shared her love of slasher films with me: she loves me. But, she shares that with her sister…so: she loves me not. She laughed when I spoke: she loves me. But...she loves me not.
Over and over these thoughts ran. Eventually, he fell asleep thinking it was impossible.
Elsewhere in the mansion, the exact same process was happening in the mind of a woman who could control the weather. The difference in the simulcast of mental replays was that Ororo was giddy with a feeling of accomplishment. Finally, after years of loving him from afar, having lacked the confidence to approach him about how she felt, they had finally had A DATE. And it had GONE WELL. He had laughed when she joked and had not seemed at all repulsed by her infatuation with 1980s horror films. She'd even dropped hints; she had referred to the outing as a date. She had smiled so much her face hurt from the effort. At the end of the date, he'd expressed how happy he'd been to be invited. When she'd broached the idea of a sequel, he'd been quick to accept. Surely he'd understood her feelings; he was a telepath after all. But then, their ritual meeting in the evenings had seemed a little strained to her. She worried that she hadn't done enough; did he think of her as more than just a dear friend? Could he? Would he? She fretted that she wasn't good enough for him, and that thought repeated in her mind until she, too, fell asleep.