Return to sender -- Achmed el-Gibar unknown at this address.
It never bothered her that she was the only one who cared that the characters that made up Zhou emperors' names were forbidden after their deaths; that there had been two Popes John XXXIII; that in the small hours of last night it snowed for precisely one minute twenty-seven seconds, half-formed flakes falling for no-one but her.
There were sabretooth tiger bones at the museum, and when she saw them, she knew that even if they hadn't seen him again yet, Wolverine hadn't killed him.
"Remember Senator Kelly, and then ask me again why I don't like bedsides."
She had white skin and a permanent black (no, seriously) eye and wore her gun belt to breakfast, but Ororo remembered her most for that one night they stayed up late playing chess and sometime around one in the morning she said, "You know, you don't have to do it on anyone's terms but yours."
She was only supposed to be there for a week, just to see if she liked it, and she made him wait the whole seven days - even then, even just a teenager, Ororo was no one to be taken for granted - before sitting down beside him on the morning of the seventh, just before they called her cab to the airport, and saying, "Yes, I will stay."
The ocean always terrified her, as vast as the sky, but opaque and impervious to her, capable of swallowing her whole; that was why she learned to sail, that was why she learned to surf.
It wasn't the things she took, or the thrill of a lock picked, the audacity of a rooftop getaway, it was the moments in the lives of others, in their homes.
The Professor gave her the heavy, silver-gilt thing for her birthday, with one of his enigmatic smiles, as if he knew it was going to take her all the months between then and when she left for college to finally manage to get all the rest - and Warren the worst, who would have thought it? - in the same place sitting still for long enough to take the photo to fill it.
Jean asked her once why she had opted for parquetry in her room, and Ororo wasn't sure how to explain (without being insulting) about cheap, fake, civilised replacements for the smell of loam, the crush of petals and leaf mould beneath the sole.
She cannot judge St John; Magneto came to her, too, her second year in college when no one would sit next to her in lectures even though they couldn't quite put a name, a convenient label, to her yet, and she'd been tempted, so very tempted.
From el-Gibar she got physical survival, from the Professor spiritual; sometimes she wonders what her father taught her aside from fear, sadness, anger.
She knew she'd found the drink for her the first time her college boyfriend poured water into the pernod and turned a fine day cloudy.
He hadn't been Catholic, but then again neither was she, and she couldn't see what harm a candle lit could do.
She might have been worthless in Africa, but she'd never been called it until she came to the Land of the Free.
The hidden ugliness of Magneto's grand plan for mutantkind was that he'd have them all Mothers of the New Race; she was no one's breeding sow.
The girls had made an excellent training team, Storm creating the fires with misaimed lightning blasts, and Jean smothering them with her mind.
A man could be revealed by lightning as by nothing else; light and shadow, shock and pain.
"Mother Nature," she declared, waving her fourth beer, "is half nurture and half bitch."
Ororo had been sent alone to recruit him because he wasn't deemed dangerous, and as she watched the coin spin up from Remy LeBeau's fingers, she wondered if the Professor had seen this: heads I go with you, tails you come with me.
Lightning into a copper conductor; she would have done it, killed them all, to kill him.
"How did you know she wasn't me?" Ororo asked him after Liberty Isle, and Logan just smirked.
One golden mid-term break, she flew down to Berkeley and she and Scott did the vineyards, just another young couple in the sun-drenched hills, nothing special.
Shop-lifting was the pettiest of crimes, but Jubilee faced it with a sulky jumble of defiance and regret, and it was like looking in a mirror.
"Come on," Scott said, the fourth time she hit the mats, winded, "you have to want it!"
Ororo had a shelf chock-full of history books, but a whole bookcase of meteorology, and frankly, she'd preferred it when there was still some mystery.
Admiring the sparkle on Jean's ring ringer, Ororo couldn't help but wonder what happened to the little bits that fell to make a facet.
Cats and Dogs
"You haven't been--" out in this, but Scott swallowed the rest of it, and just shook his head with a rueful smile as she laughed and dripped on the hall carpet.
Cyclops loved the jet because it was sleek and went fast, but Storm loved it because it had so much power, but made so little noise about it.
She had it down to a fine art - could be awake before he even got to the M in scream - but it didn't actually help.
She had a motorcycle at college, but that was before she learned to fly.
"Well, I thought it was funny!" she insisted, as Jean rolled her eyes and Scott groaned.
Her first action upon getting her own room - never mind that it was late October in upstate New York - was to fix the windows so that they opened all the way.
She usually liked to watch the sunset alone, but Kurt brought the pernod and didn't talk.
"Arab girls," he said, arms around her as he corrected her fingering on the frets, "always seem to want to play minor."
Much to the delight of the little ones, it snowed on Christmas Eve.
Someone else already had the icepack, so Scott had to make do with the peas and Ororo's apologies.
El-Gibar had never let just anyone join him; you had to prove yourself, and she had.
Once her feet were off the ground, the first thing she learned was that if she let go, the wind would carry her.
There were no scars on her neck, but some days she wished there were, to have some evidence that he had been real.
She told him, "All people die," feeling worldly, and he said, "But all people live, too."
This was how she viewed it: that hate was implacable as the scraping of the hull on rocks, but with knowledge and care, rocks could be steered around.
They were always so surprised when she caught them, padding silently down the midnight hall with shoes in their hands, and she knew they'd never believe that she'd done this too.
Ororo took a month off at the end of college and drove across Arizona, but it wasn't the same.
The morning she left for Penn State, the Professor gave her a platinum Amex and carte blanche; she put tutelage and textbooks on it, and got a job waitressing in a cafe.
Though she couldn't help a smile, she still said, "Yes, I bet," and shut the door in Remy's smiling face.
"So," he said, smile close as breath to her face, "if it's natural, how come all your hair isn't white?"
After she crashed the BMW into the tree, pinning Sabretooth just long enough for Iceman to freeze him and Jean to tie his mind in knots, Cyclops wrenched the driverside door open, shouting, "Who the hell taught you to drive?" and Storm answered, truthfully, "You."
"Do you feel free, untangled from your past?" she asked, and then realised that Logan's response was not the important thing.
"This is a call to all passengers on British Airways flight number BA0154 to Cairo: your aircraft is now ready for boarding at gate number 42..."
High Pressure Systems (what goes up must come down) by dee