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Sugar & Tea

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Pyro doesn't really remember his parents.

Sometimes, he sort of does, almost.

He remembers a woman with an Australian accent, making breakfast. Egg in a basket, made with butter. He can smell the butter frying in the pan in this memory, and he remembers his bare feet over the tiles of a kitchen.

He sometimes remembers a man, with dark hair, kicking a soccer ball to him, telling him he'd be a great forward. He can't remember the man's voice, really, beyond that one sentence, or his face. But he thinks maybe the man was his father.

These aren't much to grab on to, aren't much to cherish.

He doesn't remember his aunt at all, but then, he was only with her for a short time.

No, John's most cherished childhood memories, the ones he keeps locked down inside his head, like a pirate treasure buried at sea, they don't involve his parents at all.

Almost all of them are of Ororo.

Ororo, showing him which plants were weeds and had to be yanked up. How to pull them up completely, get all the roots, so they couldn't come back. They just needed a little bit of root to survive, he remembers her saying, so he had to get it all. Had to be gentle, or he'd hurt the others, the ones Ororo loved.

He can smell the basil, the mint, the chamomile. Feel the dirt in his fingers, under his nails.

His birthdays, Ororo always making him dinner, and a cake. Always chocolate cake with mint icing, his favorite in the world. She made the icing with the mint she grew in the garden, and two drops of green dye, because he liked mint stuff to be green.

Being her little crown prince, her John, her baby. Belonging to someone.

And the most treasured, the one he keeps below all the others, the one that he pretends he doesn't still think about now, at seventeen, on the cusp of eighteen, when he's scared and lonely in the outpost he lives in with the rest of the Brotherhood.

Ororo, holding him tight in the garden swing out in the backyard of the mansion, singing him songs.

Barboori rye harye a
Barboori jeh,

Her arms, keeping him safe while the fireflies lit up the garden. The smell of summer in the air, the heat of it all. Ororo's hair, tickling his face.

Barboori hchamil
Shukur woo sheh.

These are the things John remembers, when he's alone in his bed and scared, when he needs comfort that no one else can give. When he starts to wonder if he's made the right choice with Magneto, if the Brotherhood is really going to save them all. When he misses his bed, and Bobby, and when he craves fuul and t'aamiyya.

This was the first Christmas he can remember where he didn't wake up and make breakfast for Ororo. It was only a few kids left during those holidays, so Ororo and him, they'd eat Egyptian food all break. She'd make him anything, teach him as she went, until he had it right. Koushari, gebna makleyah, khoshaf, and enough baklawa to give them cavities. He craves 'irea and mint tea when he wakes up in the night, but there's no one to drink it with, no hand in his hair, no voice calling him a prince, a lion.

He makes the 'irea himself, in the kitchen in the outpost, then sits at the metal counter and drinks it.

He chooses to forget that he's not her lion anymore.

He chooses to forget that Ororo doesn't love him anymore.