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A Family By Any Other Name

Title: A Family By Any Other Name
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Logan/Ororo, Kurt/Ororo
Rating: PG-13/T
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts: June Amnesty: November Puzzle:
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Power Hour: Lightning
Creature Feature: Avians: Turkey
What's My Line: All our times have come/Here but now they're gone
Adulting Sucks: Holiday Gathering
Sports and Recc: Hunting (Which, I admit, when I saw this one being used for the challenge, I read no further and actually unsubbed for a while. Glad I finally read the details!)
Mother Nature: Icy, Wind, Snow
Random Object: Stockings Hung
Random Descriptor: Jolly, Happy

Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,371
Date Written: 27 June 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.





It's supposed to be a happy time, but the mood throughout the school is anything but happy. Ororo floats from room to room, pausing and helping where she can. She stops in the kitchen, frozen, as she watches a woman she barely knows placing a turkey in the oven. That was always Jean's job. Jean was always the best cook among them -- well, one of the best. Even her best meals couldn't compare to Remy's gumbo. Remy should be baking that turkey, now that Jean's gone, but Ororo doesn't even know where she is.

She turns from the scene, tears in her blue eyes and snow beginning to fall again outside, and moves on to another room. There's people in every room today, a huge tree glittering and brandishing bright, jolly signs of the holiday in the living room, but the school still feels empty. It still feels . . . wrong somehow, despite their best efforts. So many have died; so many have left them. Faces of those she loves have been replaced by others she barely knows, like the woman in the kitchen, and maybe it's wrong, but she just can't love these people like she did the ones before them.

She still cares for them. She still fights for them. She still strives to protect them and all of mutantkind, and she will always fight for the Dream. But she just can't love these people like she did the family she found when she first came here to the States, or even the ones that followed. Too many are gone. Too many are dead, and her heart aches for every one of them.

"Liebchen," Kurt's voice suddenly sounds next to her ear as he steps out of the shadows beside her, "don't look so sad." His tail whips through the shadows and curls lovingly through the thin fabric of Ororo's white dress around her knee. He pulls her close and holds a hand above her head; she doesn't have to look to know he's holding mistletoe.

She sighs, and even his kiss does little to cheer her although she smiles. For those she loves, she's grown quite adept at hiding her true feelings even if he does still see through her. She smiles for him now just as she smiles for them every day. "I can not seem to help it today," she answers truthfully. Pulling gently away from him, she asks, "Have you seen Logan?"

His furry features fall. His yellow eyes gleam, but he hides well how hurt he truly is. They had almost come together, she and him, at last before Logan had claimed her, and even now, long after his friend's death, neither of them can seem to stop mourning him. He drank two beers at an otherwise empty table at Harry's last night, empty because Logan wasn't there to share them with him just as he wasn't there to chop down this year's Christmas tree or to join them in their celebrations with his usual, gruff complaints. There's another Wolverine now, and although he tries to be there for them in his own way, he'll never be able to replace his friend just as they'll never be able to replace the friends "Old Man" Wolverine had to kill and bury when they were taken over by their enemies.

He shakes his head and slowly withdraws his hand from her waist and his tail from her leg. His tail wraps solemnly around his own leg instead, its spaded end lapping over his ankle. "Nein," he admits in a soft whisper.

"I'm sorry, Kurt," she says, gently patting his cheek, and although he hears the truth in her words, it helps little.

"I know," he answers gravely, taking her hand from his furry cheek and kissing its back. "It's okay," he says, releasing her with a smile and turning away.

There was a time she would have gone after him, but not today. Today, she continues gliding from room to room and only stops again when she hears actual laughter, a sound she hasn't heard in far too long. She peers into the living room where the mighty Christmas tree is and sees Jubilee laughing as she watches Shogo playing with a paper garland of little, white Christmas trees. Jubilee, sensing Ororo's gaze, meets her eyes. "It's his first Christmas," she explains with a shrug. "I want it to be happy for him."

Other people are in the room. Roxy sits, cross-legged, right beside Jubilee. Other teenagers in the vast room, sneaking presents underneath the tree and sneaking touches of other presents that undoubtedly have their names on them as they try to guess their contents. Benjamin and the younger Bobby are both dropping things into stockings that have been hung, and Ororo dares not guess at the latter's gifts. Danielle, Sam, and Illyana stand nearby, conversing in hushed voices and watching the happenings. Ororo might wonder if Sam and Dani were aware of the mistletoe hanging over their heads or note how hopefully the younger Scott seems to be to catch Jean underneath another sprig on another side of the room, if she noticed the children at all, but right now, her eyes are fixed on Jubilee's.

She nods with another smile to brighten the outside world. "It should be," she answers quietly, respectfully, and moves on. She hears Jubilee sigh as she moves on but doesn't dare look back.

"She's missing Wolverine," Roxy says, and Jubilee's quiet answer catches at her heart as the girl admits, "We all are." Part of her wants to turn back. Part of her wants to share with Jubilee and the others who knew and loved him, like Kurt and Kitty, their stories of their beloved Logan during times like now, but part of her realizes, too, that reminiscing will only make them all sadder. Part of her wants to scream. Part of her wants to tear this place apart at the embers all because she misses him so much. She considers asking Hank to carry her into space again so she can fall apart once more and grieve openly for her beloved, but that's not the answer. Falling apart again will never be the answer. It was never the answer to begin with, which is why she limited that moment where she released all of her sorrow and anguish to a single incident in outer space.

She's barely aware that her walk has carried her outdoors when a snowball whizzes over her head. Man, you so don't want to do that! she hears Jono's voice warning one of the newcomers. Ororo ducks the snowball without hesitation and with barely a glance, but another, larger snowball is thrown at the teenager who threw one at her. She glances over her shoulder and sees the Bobby Drake she's known and loved for years, still not his jovial self but laughing as the other guy is drenched in snow. At one time, she would have perhaps dumped snow on them both, but today, she just keeps moving.

She's still outside when the sky grows dark. The land is covered in the snow she's allowed to fall, as it's Mother Nature's desire, not her own, though she, honestly, could care less at this time, and the sun is setting early. Dinner will soon be being served, and they should all be there, regardless of ratherx they're happy or not. They should all be there, and that includes the Logan currently in their lives.

She's drifting through tall, stately trees when she finally senses movement up ahead. Her instincts tell her that is about to find the person for whom she's been searching all these hours, a person she could have easily had Rachel or another telepath call forward had she wanted, but she'd needed the time by herself to rein in her emotions. Now, through the trees up ahead, she watches as the one they all call Old Man Wolverine behind his back plays tag with a herd of deer.

Tears spring instantly into Ororo's blue eyes as she remembers the times she had condemned her Logan, when she was first getting to know him, for hunting. She had been unable to understand a man who claimed to be honorable had taken lives so easily, and then one day, she had learned the truth. All those times he had gone out hunting, he had never taken a single life, and now, just like his counterpart in this world, the new Logan in her life has hunted just so he can become one with the animals again and feel their soft, gentle noses nuzzling his hands as he feeds them in this icy wind.

The wind has become icy, Ororo realizes suddenly -- much more freezing than Nature had intended, she fears. She closes her eyes for a moment and tries to rein in her powers and stops their effects on the weather around her. The snow becomes lighter once more, and the temperature begins to rise.

Suddenly, a gunshot sounds. The deer flee, and they, and other animals, race all around Ororo. Birds take off from the park, screaming. Ororo's now wide open eyes look into the other Wolverine's. "Damn hunters," he snarls and takes off running on all fours. Ororo flies after him without hesitation. They find one deer down, a fawn standing over her, and a man dressed in camouflage from his hat to his socks and boots just a few feet away, his gun still readied to shoot the little one.

"THIS FOREST IS NOW UNDER THE PROTECTIONOF THE X-MEN!" Ororo screams before she can stop herself. Reaching out with all the gifts Mother Nature has given her, she whips the gun out of his hands with a fierce, icy blast of wind and strikes him with lightning.

"'RO!" It is only Logan's hand on her shoulder, not even his voice, that calls her back to herself. She blinks as her wind dies down. The hunter is unconscious, but he'll live. "Easy, darlin'," Logan urges behind her. "It's more important we get this little one to a healer than we fry him. 'Sides, he ain't gonna be shootin' anybody again any time soon."

Ororo's eyes are still narrowed to dangerous slits, tiny lightning bolts illuminating her fierce, blue gaze. "Let us make certain of that."

"'RO!"

"I'm not going to kill him, Logan. All life is sacred, even that of a impugentx killer." She lifts his gun with her wind and proceeds to swiftly rip it apart. She slings the bullets far away, where the hunter will never find them, and chars the remains of his gun with her lightning. "There," she announces, dropping the still-smoking pieces beside him.

She turns to Logan and is surprised to find he's lifted the deer into his arms. She nods. "You're right, of course," she says and lifts them and the baby deer in more strong breezes. She carries them straight away to the nearest healer and watches from afar as the healer, Lin, and others coo over the deer. Even Logan backs away, leaving the animals with the other mutants.

"Were you looking for me?" Logan asks, and it's only now, gazing into his eyes, that Ororo realizes that she was looking for him and more that she could only find when she found him.

"Yes," she answers simply, holding out her hand to him. "I believe dinner is almost ready."

He looks at her offered hand, and she can see the war he's fighting in his darkening eyes. "I never had a family," he says softly enough that only she can hear him, despite the other, gathered mutants, including those with advanced hearing, "'til the X-Men."

And then he'd had to kill them, she knows. At least she had not had to kill those she has loved and lost. She didn't kill Logan herself nor did she kill Jean, Charles, or Scott. There are so precious few left of her loved ones, but at least she never killed them herself. She can not imagine enduring the pain he has to every day of his life without his family, but perhaps, if they join together in more than compadreship, she can lessen that pain for him. "Nor did I," she answers softly, gazing deep into his eyes.

He nods and slips his hand into hers. He hadn't thought he was ready for another family, but every Storm he's ever met has had something about her that changes folks. Maybe she can change him. Maybe she can make the world seem a better place for him. Maybe . . .

A bell begins to ring somewhere near the dining room. "Sit beside ya, darlin'? Don't really know most o' these folks."

She lets his excuse slide by. She feels like she doesn't know them too for the most part these days, but they're still family. They are mutants and X-Men, and they will always be family. The X-Men family will continue without those they have lost, and they'll continue long after she and this Logan are gone as well. "I was hoping you would," she answers softly and makes a mental note to tell Kurt about the hunter and ask him to deposit him far out of Central Park, hopefully on top of the local police station. With any further luck, the murderer will have warrants out for him for other reasons. Regardless, it will get him out of their territory.

She smiles at the thought and remembers the time Logan compared her to a lioness. Like a lioness, she is a brave fighter set on protecting her family, and those sweet deer, currently surrounded by mutant children of all ages, are certainly among that number, small as it seems this day. Logan's fingers wrap around hers, and she looks to him.

"Let's go eat," he says, seeming to be as gruff as either.

She smiles again, and this time, her smile genuinely touches her blue eyes. The snowflakes are so light and wisp now that they're barely more than drops of moisture falling down upon the earth. She holds Wolverine's hand in hers and nods. "Merry Christmas, Logan."

"Merry Christmas, 'Ro."

The End

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