It turns out that Jubilation Lee is in imminent danger of starvation and, no, she cannot possibly last the entire thirty minute drive to the reception, she has to have food now. Ororo Munroe, who is in the grip of one of her intermittent cravings for Coca Cola, hasn't got the strength to argue; even though she kicked off her stilettos to drive, her feet hurt, her
gown itches and her head aches under its elaborate coiffure. So she pulls the bus over into the parking lot of the nearest 7-11, tells Kitty to grab her a drink and rests her forehead against the steering wheel while the kids stream out.
Very slowly, she let go of the weather patterns that she'd been holding since before dawn. No-one would care if it rained at the wedding reception, after all, and she was simply too tired to delay the brewing showers any longer. Usually, she refrained from manipulating the natural cycles for trivial human purposes, but Jean's friendship was far from trivial, and the other woman would never have forgiven her if her gown got wet.
Ororo was aware that most teachers didn't spend the day of their best friend's wedding playing shepherd to two dozen excited teenagers, but Xavier's school was a tight knit family as well as an educational institution. There had been no question of leaving the older students out of the ceremony, and for all their muttering about work intruding into their personal lives Storm
knew that Scott and Jean would miss their surrogate children while they were in Canada.
Usually, the presence of their headmaster in the bus would have calmed the kids down even in on a blue moon day like this, but Ororo had noticed some time ago that Charles Xavier wasn't really in the bus. All the important parts of his psyche had done a mental disappearing act sometime between the vows and the signing, and now he was staring blankly out the window. She
wondered where he'd gone.
The bus was an island of calm in a difficult day, and Ororo let herself relax for the first time in hours, reaching up to brush the tips of her tortured hair. She wondered if she could now safely find a mirror and dismantle the edifice without offending the bride. "When this is all over, remind me to sleep for a month or two" she said, watching the students through the greasy plastic windows of the convenience store as they demolished the careful stacks and displays like a barbarian horde.
Charles Xavier turned his head and smiled at her sympathetically. "Ororo, my dear, if you ever happen to find yourself with child, I want you to promise me that you'll elope in order to preserve what's left of my bank balance and my sanity." He sounded exhausted but happy, and she couldn't help smiling back in spite of her own tiredness.
"I swear, the past couple of weeks have put me off marriage for life. I had no idea that organising a simple ceremony would be so complicated - I can't imagine how out of hand things would have gotten if it hadn't been a shotgun wedding."
Xavier chuckled. "I believe that Scott at least had some inkling of the impending chaos, and used the baby as an excuse to get it over with less than a year's preparation. It makes me grateful that I only almost got married - I can't imagine surviving the process intact."
The allusion to the professor's failed engagement might have been sad on an ordinary day, but right now Ororo could see the funny side. "I can imagine Moira McTaggert running a wedding the same way she rules her laboratory. You would have been lucky to escape with your life."
"There was talk of me wearing a kilt," Charles said, voice filled with only half-joking horror.
Storm laughed. "The things we do for love."
"Yes, indeed." Then the sparkle of humor in his eyes disappeared, and he looked serious again. "Tell me, Ororo, *have* you ever considered getting married?"
"Do I look four months pregnant?" she asked, trying to keep the light-hearted tone of the moment before - she didn't want to have that conversation now. He just watched her, silently, until she relented. "Not really. I'm so busy with the school, the X-Men ..." her voice trailed off. Even busier now, with Scott and Jean disappearing and a child on the way. No free time except for the random minutes that she needed to save for herself; with no room for anyone else's disturbances.
"I just . . ." he paused, uncharacteristically lost for words, and turned to look at the kids, lined up now in front of a bewildered clerk who looked like he wanted to hide under the desk to escape the gown-and-tuxedo-clad mob. She wondered if the place Charles vanished to was an alternate universe where the auburn-haired woman he took down the aisle was Moira Xavier's daughter, and the eagerly awaited baby was his biological grandchild.
"I suppose I believe that this job is important," Ororo said thoughtfully, breaking the silence. "Sometimes I think about putting it all behind me, finding someone to spend my life with, but I feel like I already have enough children, enough responsibilities. And right now those responsibilities involve going to a wedding reception with a bunch of teenagers who are about to be on a sugar high, much as I'd like to be elsewhere." Sometimes, love was the thing that stopped you from getting married. "Mind you, if anyone asks me to do the chicken dance they may find themselves the victim of a very localized thunderstorm."
Charles smiled again. "We could just leave them stranded in the car park and drive to Mexico."
For a second, she considered it seriously - she would put her foot on the gas and get the hell out of here. They'd stop somewhere before dark to eat a meal that involved real food instead of champagne and bite-sized morsels on trays, and buy some clothes that didn't make her itch ...
The moment hangs in the air until Jubilee brakes it by slamming the door back and rocketing into her favourite seat, clutching and armload of junk food, and John casually tosses a can of cola straight at Ororo's head. Storm hears Charles Xavier sigh while she's yelling at them all to settle down, and by the time she's done, the telepath has slipped away into his state of grace again. Which is probably much further away than Mexico. Ororo sighs too, and steels herself to see the evening through. She reaches out and switches the wipers on a second before the first drop of rain hits the windshield.