Outside parties are a weird concept - especially when it's eleven at night in October. Clearly not everyone feels the same - almost the entirety of Jean Grey's School are outside, partying like there's no tomorrow.
There's alcohol too - carefully kept out of the way of the younger kids, but the teenagers are allowed a small drop. As one of the only sober ones around, you have a lot of blackmail material you can catch on video.
Well, it is Halloween - evidenced by the fact almost everyone is wearing ridiculous costumes. Even the every gothic Rogue is dressed up - albeit in an outfit she thinks is 'cool'. The only people who aren't dressed up are you, a few of the kids, and Mortimer Toynbee.
Speaking of, you see him across the garden chatting with Scott. Now that beer and vodka has whittled away Scott's tough jock nature, he seems to quite like him. Good - someone needs to give Mort a second chance. He hasn't exactly had an easy time around here. Logan's a jerk, and everybody else either ignores him or is overly hostile. Well, you suppose they do have a good reason; but you can tell he's trying to make amends for his Brotherhood past.
"Hey, [Y/N]! Could you give me a hand restocking the snacks?" Storm gives you a tipsy grin as you turn around, waving a perfectly manicured hand in your face.
"Oh, sure. Lead the way."
She grabs your hand and drags you inside. You barely have time to glance behind you - and spot Scott and Mort look your way - before you're inside.
It's much warmer, thank god. The heating is on, the cold breeze gone. If not for the fact you want to at least pretend to be sociable, you would stay inside.
Storm lets your hand go as you reach the kitchen. In a flash she's rummaging around in the cupboards. How she's so stable after all that alcohol is beyond you. "So," she begins, standing up with a flourish and dropping snacks onto the breakfast bar, "what do you think Scott and Toad were talking about?"
You raise a brow, "I don't know. I was like, thirty meters away."
She nods and hums, turning to unload the snacks into fresh bowls. "Well, they were staring at you as we left - and Scott isn't exactly best friends with Toad, is he?"
You frown. Did Storm really have to refer to him as 'Toad'? Sure, a lot of people here go by their mutant names - Storm included - but there's always a weird undertone to how Toad is phrased. Not quite mocking, but something close. As if it's used as an insult rather than a term of empowerment - and that's what a mutant name is supposed to be, right?
"Are you even listening?" Storm tuts as she reaches for another bowl. Without waiting for you to reply, she continues, "maybe Toad was asking for dating advice. I mean, if that's what your after Scott is the guy to go to."
"Dating advice?" You snort out a laugh and shake your head. "I really don't think that's it. After Paige…" you trail off, shrugging. You'd be surprised if he ever wanted to date again after that disaster. It was a shame though - his only real relationship and it had turned out to be because of Paige's wonky mutation. Not that you've ever asked him for details - you prefer not to know the dating history of guys you think are cute.
"Aw come on, you don't see it? He's been sweet on you ever since you joined, what, three months ago? In fact, I think one of the only reason he wanted to come back was because of you - and since you were the once to convince Logan to let him back, I think it's mutual." She wiggles her eyebrows and laughs, white eyes sparkling.
Your cheeks flush pink and you duck your head to hide it. You should help Storm with the snacks - and not just to distract from the matter at hand. "You're making this up, Storm. I think you've had too much beer."
"Not just beer. I've had vodka, too - and some weird pink stuff."
Oh boy. No wonder she's spouting nonsense.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter how much I've had." She waves a hand absently - and almost knocks a bottle of lemonade from the breakfast bar. She catches it just in time, a high pitched laugh escaping her lips. "Anyway," she carries on as if nothing has happened, "I'm completely right. Toad likes you. It's quite obvious to everyone - except you, apparently. Typical."
Clearing your throat, you scoop up as many bowls as you can carry and head to the kitchen door. "We should get these back to the party," you say, trying to hide another blush with your scarf. You wish Storm is right. Mortimer is a little… unusual, to say the least. Green skin, webbed hands, and even though you've never touched him you can tell his skin is weirdly clammy. He's still cute though; golden-yellow eyes and an endearing smile. If only he wasn't so damn shy.
"I'm not Jean," Storm pipes up, "and I can't read your mind - but I know you like him. He's never going to make the first move so you have to."
You open your mouth to reply - but Storm is off, arms loaded up with snacks and ready to keep on partying. She's out the door and down the hall before you can utter another word, unsteady in her heels.
Shaking your head you follow her back into the cold. At least you have a jacket and scarf - most people have abandoned them in favour of showing off their costumes.
No sooner have you carefully set down your armload of food when you hear a bout of deep laughter behind you. It's so undeniably Scott - drunk Scott.
You spin around - but Scott is already gone, woozily making his way over to Jean. In his place is Mort, green-brown hair hiding his eyes.
"Hi. Were you wanting in?" You grin and step aside, grabbing a cup of Coke as you shift out of his way. Your eyes momentarily shift to Scott's retreating back - but Storm wasn't really right. There's just no way those two were bonding over how to ask you out.
Noticing Mort still hasn't spoken, you shift your attention back to him. "Everything okay? I know parties aren't really your thing - you don't have to stay out here you know."
Gold eye shift beneath the thick canopy of hair - he's staring at the ground. Broad hands clasp together, fingers restless. "I'm fine. I uh… actually, never mind."
He turns to leave but you place a soft hand on his arm - the part not covered by his t-shirt. His skin is cool and clammy - but it's never slimy like everyone thinks. "You know, if something is wrong you can let me know. I'm no counsellor but I'm a decent listener."
Mort stares at it as if he's never seen one before. Of course. People usually go out of their way to avoid touching him - some of the kids even give him an extra few feet of space when they pass him in the corridor. Yet here you are, bare skin against his.
Great. He probably thinks you're being creepy.
"I…" he fumbles with his words, unsure what to say. Eventually, he forms a coherent sentence. "I was talking to Scott and he says you really want to try the new cafe in town. Do you want to go with me?" He's barely finished the last word before he winces and backs up as if ready to run at any second.
You feel your face flush crimson, eyes widening. Did he just ask you on a date? Storm was right after all. A grin graces your lips and your eyes sparkle. Either someone spiked the punch, or this is the best thing to happen all week.
Before you can reply he takes another step away, back hunched. "Stupid question. I shouldn't have asked. Sorry."
"Wait!" You took too long to answer and now you've messed up. "I'd like to go there with you. Actually, I'd love nothing more."
"Really?" His shyness melts away for a moment as he gives you a sceptical look, eyebrows raised and lips pursed. "You're not messing with me, right? This is Halloween; April Fool's is long gone." He only holds your gaze for a second before his eyes drop back to the ground.
Does he really think that little of you? No, you remind yourself - he thinks little of himself. Your chest feels tight as you place a hand on his shoulder gently. "I'm completely serious. So, it's a date?" You smile kindly - trying your best to put him at ease.
"Yeah - no - only if you want it to be?"
You nod. "Definitely. You have no idea how long I've waited for a chance to ask you out." Typical that the shyest of the two asks first. You felt like you wanted to die every time you considered asking - how must he feel now?
The sceptical look is back, eyebrows knitted together in a deep frown. "You… what?" You swear he blushes, skin turning an odd colour beneath the green. He falls silent, unsure of what to say.
You shrug, not wanting to make a big deal of it. "I know it makes me sound like a crushing teenager. Really, though, I have."
Mort takes a breath as if steeling himself for something. There's definite blush now, face a distinct rosy red. "I don't really know how this works. Crushes, dating, whatever. I'm sure it's no surprise I've never done this before." He carefully avoids any mention of Paige - and you don't blame him. "I like you though. A lot. It's a bloody miracle you ever give me a second glance."
That's no way for him to talk about himself! You wish he didn't feel the need to put himself down, didn't always see the worst in himself.
"I think you're great. Wonderful, even. Don't sell yourself short!" Your easy smile is back. You just feel so calm around Mort - he might not think it, but you know he's good company. "I think I have very good taste in guys. So you're definitely the best guy in this mansion."
He still looks disbelieving - but a small smile appears, just the tiniest quirk of his lips. "I doubt that."
"You totally are. I never lie."
"Well, there was this one time you told Quentin Quire-"
"Okay!" You wave your hands in the air, laughing. "Maybe I lie sometimes - but not about stuff like this." You take a risk, leaning down to wrap your arms around Mort in a light, barely there hug.
He tenses, and for a moment you think he might pull away - then he slowly wraps one short arm around you in an awkward half-hug.
When was the last time someone hugged him, anyway? So few people here are even willing to go near him. Really, it's kind of stupid. You make a mental note to hug him more often, if he wants you to.
When you break away, he's grinning. You don't think you've ever seen him grin. It's cute - really cute.
He takes a deep breath, hand lingering on yours as you move aside to let someone past. "So. A date." He can't seem to quite believe the words he's saying.
"A date," you confirm with a bouncy nod. After a beat of silence you say, "you know, I'm not much of a party person. You want to ditch this crowd and watch a movie or something? The mansion will be deserted."
There's a moment of hesitancy before he nods, hands jittering nervously. "Yeah, definitely.