Scott returned her smile with his full one, showing that rare proof that a year of braces when he was thirteen had been money well invested. “And no scores kept, that’s how families work, too.” He was relaxed enough to reach up and give her hair a playful brotherly ruffle, not enough to mess it up at all, though. “I’m hoping there won’t be a need ever, but we’ve got a long way to go before the professor’s dream makes it a safe world for all of us. Until then, it’s good to know I’ve got you to count on.”
“We can always work on those geokinetic skills,” he started, falling back into tactical mode. “And working with Logan can help with the confidence to keep control.” He stopped ticking off ideas on his fingertips and looked at her, his shoulders dropping a little as he realized he was doing this to help put his guard back up. He was supposed to be working on that, working on connecting with the people he trusted and cared for. He took a deep breath. The X-Men business could be dealt with at their training meetings. Right now he was with Amara, one of his little sisters in this beautifully weird piecemeal family he was part of. “Hey, I’m guessing you never got to pick up the books you wanted. How about we go out tomorrow and hit up the Book Revue over in Huntington? They’ve got everything you could ever want there. And I need to get some books on my syllabi anyway.”
The ruffling of her hair earned him a playful scowl from the young girl, smile still on her face. “You’ve got all of us to count on, Scott,” she reminded him. Her geokinetic skills? Most of the time, she focused on not using her powers, at least not changing forms. So she could already form small bursts of flame that she could throw, but not much else, and it was a challenge to keep the fires from growing larger until they pushed her into transforming. Maybe, if she practiced with just handling her geokinetic abilities while in human form, she could use it in a fight and then transform safely in her uniform when necessary. It was worth a try, and she knew training with Mr. Logan would be a good idea. Amara figured it was a good idea and did want to try.
But Scott’s sudden look of slight disappoint in himself baffled her. The conversation had been going well—and she knew it hadn’t been because of something she had said to him. Was it because he’d become too tactical toward her despite being there for a friendly conversation? She didn’t mind. That was how Scott was and he was helping her even in being a tactician. He was looking out for her. How could she really mind? Maybe he was upset because being tactical was a sort of defense mechanism? They had been talking about how he was always worried over his powers like she was… She couldn’t know for sure, but didn’t bring it up so he wouldn’t continue to feel bad. He changed the subject anyway, so why go backward? “No, I didn’t get the chance,” her brow furrowed a bit at the unpleasant recollection, but she didn’t seem to bothered by it this time. She lit back up pretty quickly. “That sounds like a good idea! You’ll be getting books for college, right?”
“That’s right we’re strong together.” Scott smiled again. “We’re more than just a team, we’re a family. Okay, maybe a family that could give the Addams a run for their money in weirdness, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” He wouldn’t, either. They might not be the kind of family that would fit in with anyone else, but he never doubted the love and trust within the walls of Xavier’s. Sure, they bickered and got on each others nerves, but that was part of how families worked. You could fight with each other because at the end of the day, you could count on those same people to be there when you needed them.
He gave a little nod to her assessment. “Mostly, yeah, but I know better than to think it’s that easy. No matter how much you train and how many precautions you take, there’s going to be accidents, and you’ll know it. The thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you’re willing to go out there and fight on in spite of that. The team will be there to help, because we know you’ll be there to help us, too, but you have to let that help you set aside the worry that you’re going to do more harm than good.” He leaned forward to put his hand over hers. “And sometimes you’re going to feel completely helpless and have to rely on your team for everything, and still realize you’re worth every bit of it to us. To me. I’d go out there a hundred times to bring you home, Amara. Screw that, there’s really no limit on how many times. Because I know you’d do the same for me. Probably will a few times.” He did have a tendency to lead with his chin in a fight, it felt like. The team always managed to get him back in one piece, with an assist this time from some Brotherhood guys.
Laughing at his comparison to the Addams family, Amara couldn’t help but feel a little bit better with such reassurances from someone she trusted to not lie to her about such things. She knew that she’d never trade this family of hers for anything either. After all, she’d grown with them, learned so much, and finally found a place where she felt as if she could be herself. Powers and all. They accepted her from the start and continued to do so. Yeah, sometimes she got into arguments with some of the other students over the silliest things that had seemed like the most important concern in the world back then, but they’d always been there for her despite those mishaps. And she’d even burned some of their things—which had been shrugged off most of the time in understanding. How could she ever ask for anything more than that?
He also understood that even if she did believe his words on feeling better over what happened and trusting herself enough, it wouldn’t be easy to do so. That was a big help in how she took things. Knowing the team would be there, despite knowing that already, helped too. Was she willing to go out there knowing her powers were not completely out of control? Scott did. He never let that stop him, so why would she? Ever since Amara had arrived and began training with her friends and sometimes even the X-Men in some lessons in the Danger Room, she’d wanted to become a part of the team and help them. Despite having much less control back then, it had been her dream. Not to fight, but to defend Xavier’s dream and be a hero. She’d wanted to use her powers to help others instead of losing control and instilling fear. And she still wanted to do that. There was no doubt in her mind. Them being there for her was a given, something she had utmost faith in, and she’d definitely be there for the rest of the team, too. On and off the field.
Looking at her hand for a quick moment as his moved over it, the girl glanced back up with a smile. She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sure there will be instances where one us feels helpless, and that they feel the need to rely on us, but that’s how families work. We rely on each other when we’re low, and return the favor when something happens. That’s just how it works. So I don’t think I’ll feel too bad for a long time so long as I’m prepared to do the same for someone else like they’ve done for me. I’d do anything to make sure my family and friends were safe, after all. That’s why I’m an X-Man now.” Her smile grew. “And I’ve totally got your back. I just hope there won’t be a need for that anytime soon.” She really didn’t want to chance anything, though.
Trey laughed quietly at what she presumed was a flub. She had this air of shyness around her that charming as all hell whenever she thought she’d made some little mistake. “Hafta admit, I felt real weird learning ta use it in just talkin’. Always felt like someone’d take it the wrong way when all I was doin’ was finger spellin’, ya know?” He shook his head. “Luckily, I’m left-handed, so it wasn’t obvious ‘r nothin’, and if they did take it the wrong way it looked like I was the dumb one fer usin’ the wrong hand.” He grinned lightheartedly.
“And… maybe yer dad can come out here someday, then? If he’s worried yer gonna set fires ‘r somethin’ at home.” He shrugged and looked down at the ground. He wondered why Amara’s dad, even if he was a little stern-worded and practical, didn’t contact her as much. Yeah, he himself had been to get a hold of back when he didn’t actually have a house, but his parents and uncle still talked to him on the phone when he managed to call them, and they never spared words. It seemed kind of funny to think that even after years of little contact, her father wouldn’t call her as often as he could. Maybe this was just one of those situations he was going to feel weird about having a family like his. He felt lucky and bummed that other people didn’t have the same.
He held his hand back up to continue the lesson, going back to smiling again. “Now, these one’s might trip ya up at first, so go ahead and take a few to make sure which one’s which.” He curled his hand into a fist, letting his thumb rest under three of his fingers so that it poked out between his ring and pinky fingers. “This is ‘M’. An’ it looks a lot like,” he moved his thumb tip to between his ring and middle fingers, so that his thumb only rested under two, “‘N’. I always remember that three fingers together look like an ‘M’ and two look more like ‘N’.” He went back and forth a few times, showing the difference beofre moving on. “And this here is ‘P’. Kinna a fun one.” He smiled as he pointed his index finger out fully, his middle halfway, the other two curled in, and his thumb up against his middle finger. He made sure to turn his hand around for her to see how the sign worked from all angles.
“So… is yer dad the one who taught ya how ta talk to the Earth, then?” He wasn’t sure if other people just did it naturally. To Trev and Lance, and now Amara, it seemed almost as clear as spoken word, enough that they could tell when she was upset or forgiving. As far as he knew, his Ma was trying to teach him rather than expecting him to feel it right off.
Her cheeks flushed a bit at his laugh, but she didn’t feel embarrassed or anything really negative. Mostly, she felt a little giddy, being able to chat comfortably with someone she’d just met. It felt nice. Talking about whatever came up didn’t feel like an awkward occurrence. “Well, it wouldn’t be too bad unless you held it to your forehead like other people seem to do when they want to be offensive. That’s something I noticed,” she offered, giggling softly at his lighthearted tone.
When he looked down, she became a little confused, but didn’t question it. “Maybe he will. I think he’s a little sad because I’m gone. Since mama left, he didn’t really want me to leave, but I had to. So maybe he acts distant because he’s upset about that. I’m not sure, but he checks in for a reason.” Amara never doubted if her father loved her or not. Because before her powers had manifested, they had been really close—nothing had changed when her mom had left expect that he was a little sadder when alone, but they still were a close family after that.
She felt much better when he began smiling again, and quickly got back into focus to continue learning. The next three certainly were confusing, but she kept in time with what he showed her. M was a little odd, but getting the hang of it was easy—it was remembering to go into N and maybe switching back and forth that started making her a little hesitant, but she made sure to practice those for a short moment to get the hang of things. His hint P, though, was different and kind of fun to do, so that made finishing the next letters off decently simple. “It is pretty fun,” she agreed with a smile.
“No, he didn’t. I always felt connected to her, somehow, but I’d never been able to talk to her until my powers came along. She’s like my new mother.” She cocked her head a bit, smile warm. “She’s always there and listens to me. And she takes care of everyone so she’s really nice. The Earth has helped my friends.” She looked down, a smile still on her face.
“Everyone’s going to be fine,” Scott reassured her. “Bumps and bruises, stuff we’re used to.” All except Sage, but Dr. McCoy had been clear that there was no actual damage. It was more like a shock to her system. With rest she would recover. The question was when. A day, a week at most, things were vague, but she would be okay. “We’ll all be ready for action before school starts.”
He smiled at her rebuke. “See, I wasn’t there when it happened, but I was told none of that was your fault, either. Seems there was already a bunch of anger and someone shoved you pretty hard. You were alone, you got scared.” He shrugged with his empty hand out, palm up and fingers spread. “I got scared when I was alone in Mexico and I destroyed a hospital. That’s why we work as a team, why we need each other. Because alone we’re all scared.” He wrapped his free hand around the mug, looking down into it. Now he was speaking about his own experience again, but he knew how fear worked. He’d gone through it a lot more than he ever let on to the others. Probably only Jean understood how much he battled with it. “Sometimes, when your head is telling you you’re a menace, you’re afraid to be part of that team again. You start thinking all you’ll do is hurt people. Innocent people and the people you care most about. You wind up alone even with the team because you don’t trust yourself as much as they trust you.”
Even with the reassurance that everyone would be alright, the Brazilian girl couldn’t help but still have a feeling of shame because she’d lost control. It wasn’t her fault, apparently, but that didn’t mean there still wouldn’t be some residual regret over what had happened. And the mentioning of going to school, now knowing what she had done, didn’t really help. However, she’d never caused an incident at school before… so there was a small bit of relief at the thought. There were a lot of possibilities, but none she should worry about at the time being. One of the main things Amara knew she had to do in order to control her emotions was to not think too ahead or worry about what might be. “Not everyone,” she muttered, meaning the people who she knew never made it out. Faceless, nameless, but injured severely or actually dead nonetheless.
Scott’s words were perfectly accurate to what had happened, she knew. And she also knew that in fearing her own powers and disliking herself for it was something they had in common despite how he hid it pretty well. Scott hid how his powers made him feel a lot of the time because he knew he had to be strong as their leader. That was something she admired about him. Normally, she’d worry, but she also knew Jean supported him through the harder times. “We’re stronger as a team,” she agreed, “But not because of numbers. It’s because of the support we provide for each other. We’re strong.” If she allowed herself to be so worried all of the time, she wouldn’t be helping anyone, and that wasn’t fair. Is that why Scott kept a lot of things under wraps? But here he was, talking to her one-on-one about something they shared—something he understood. “So… you’re telling me I should trust myself not to lose control and hurt others?” She didn’t want to be alone. And to be alone among the people she considered her family? Definitely something she dreaded.
Scott pulled out the ottoman from the other armchair and slung a leg over it before sitting down on it contrary to the manner in which it was designed to be used, but which he habitually did anyway. Okay, it wasn’t a saddle on a horse, it was just the way he liked to sit for games of backgammon or checkers or friendly conversations. “Nothing broken this time, go figure. Maybe I’m getting better at this ‘getting beaten up’ thing.”
He leaned forward, propping his elbow on his knee as he took a sip of coffee. What brought him here? Well he certainly didn’t want to give her any impression that this was a formal visit, or some kind of review. It wasn’t. Sure, it was part of his job to make sure she was okay, or have someone talk to her, but he would be doing this whether it came under his responsibilities as the X-Men leader or not. “Well, I could say I just felt like reading, or that this is my favorite room to relax in after a mission.” That or the Danger Room, although compulsive rehash of the riot events was going to have to wait until his visor was thoroughly checked out. “Really, though? You’re here.” He glanced down into his cup. She had good reasons for avoiding dealing with anything negative, and he wanted to respect that, but ignoring it outwardly wouldn’t make the bad feelings go away.
“I’m sure you know you didn’t screw up out there, and that nothing that happened was your fault. I got that speech so many times I learned to say it to myself.” He looked back up, tilting his head. “Doesn’t make it just stop, does it.” He gave a little smirk at the stupidity of what he was going to say, but had to admit was how he felt. “Part of me feels like I really earned the bruises. After all, they were totally justified in seeing me as a menace, even if what happened was an accident.” He shrugged helplessly. “At least that’s what my head keeps arguing when I try to give myself the speech.”
“I… I don’t think you’re supposed to get good at getting beat up, Scott,” she offered, shaking her head. Maybe people tended to go after Scott because he was known as their leader and was actually a really tough opponent. It would make sense if they went after him to confuse the rest of them, after all. But that didn’t mean he should be getting used to it. “I’m just really glad nothing is broken. No one had any broken limbs, right?” She really hoped that was the case. As if she didn’t feel bad enough, knowing someone was put into a lengthy recovering time because of her would just be the horrid icing on the disaster cake she’d baked for herself and decorated—generously.
There was a small moment of silence where Scott took a drink of his coffee and leaned forward a bit—and in that silence, Amara closed the book she’d previously been reading and set it down on her lap so she could give him more of her attention. “Well, I like reading and this is my favorite room in general,” she replied to him after he spoke, shrugging her shoulders. It really did seem like Scott to come and find her to talk, but she wasn’t sure what he was going to actually tell her about the riots. What else could he be there for? But she did trust him to be fair and honest in whatever he spoke to her about. She knew Scott well enough to know she’d never be mad at him if he spoke to her about something she did wrong, since he really had some sense. It wasn’t something she wanted to face, but something she knew she’d have to come to terms with whether she liked it or not.
When he began speaking again, she looked down at the book on her lap and definitely listened to him carefully. No, she wasn’t sure. In fact, the only thing she might have been sure of was the point that she had screwed up. She could partially accept that it all hadn’t been her fault since she had been scared, but if she had paid attention none of it would have even happened. Confidence only surged through her when he began berating himself, saying he deserved the bruises he got. How could he think that? Her lips pursed slightly as a small scowl formed on her brow. “You don’t deserve anything like that. I was the one who blew up a street and caused mass hysteria. But what happened wasn’t your fault, was it? I wasn’t there, but Kurt told me Magneto took your visor. It’s his fault. Please don’t think that you deserve to be hurt because of something you can’t control.” Wait—isn’t he trying to tell me that exactly?
Scott had finally gotten that coffee, after making yet another trip to the infirmary with chicken and a change of clothes. He didn’t offer Warren a chance to argue this time, cutting wing slits in the back of the t-shirt before he even took it to him. And to his credit, the winged mutant had been civil about it. Probably had noticed how his flight suit still smelled of smoke and had streaks of oil and grime from flying through a helicopter. At least it was machine washable.
He had his third cup of joe in his hand before he felt settled enough to actually get on with life. He had one order of business he didn’t want to wait too long to handle. One of his team members had been through an ordeal. And she wasn’t just a teammate or a student, she was a friend. Maybe he wasn’t the first person she’d want to go to, but he was her squad leader, and more than that, he knew what she must be feeling. He’d been there, in that situation, more times than he wanted to think about, his powers causing damage he didn’t intend. It had happened even this last time at the riots. He’d put more people in danger than she had with that wayward blast, and if it wasn’t for others being there to prevent it, he could have easily killed innocent people. He was feeling that familiar sense of guilt and frustration himself. Maybe he needed to talk to her as much as she needed someone who understood to talk to.
He stepped into the study. It was his favorite place to retreat to, so he wasn’t surprised to see her there. It was a comforting space, quiet but homey. The smell of books and leather always made him think of all the conversations he’d had with the professor, the games of chess, and the quieter moments with the students when they became a family instead of just a bunch of homesick kids stuck in a house together. He ran his hand through his hair as he walked over to her, the only visibly remaining signs of the fight being the half-faded bruises on his cheeks and forehead. He’d picked a long-sleeve tee shirt, blue, if he remembered correctly, that was casual and light enough for the weather but hid most of the bruises on his arms as well as those on his back. A pair of light colored chinos and some deck shoes proved he was still no fashionisto, and he probably never would be without Jean or another concerned friend guiding his selections to include more than comfort. “Hey, Amara,” he said quietly, giving her a softer version of his usual reserved smile. “How’re you feeling?”
No matter how many times Amara had told herself that if no one had yelled at her for what had happened in the city yet, then she obviously had done nothing worth being blamed for, she still couldn’t summon up the guts to casually walk by people who she commonly referred to as her family. She’d caused a huge problem that ended up hurting people and making things worse—which then resulted in some of her friends being put in danger and even getting injured in the process. So, in simple terms, Amara felt extremely bad. If she were younger, she would have kept to herself by ducking out of the way whenever she spotted someone, but she knew better than that. The brunette didn’t really change her routine and behavior much besides definitely being quieter and honestly not as glad to visit others or approach them. But since she knew she’d go crazy if she stayed in her room as a way of avoiding conversation, she decided to spend some time in the study.
She hadn’t been able to buy any new books. That was another factor that made her turn to the study as a place to spend some time. Reading was something she loved doing, after all, and no one really spoke in there. In fact, very few people hung around the study anymore. Most of the time, if they needed a book, they took it and went back to their rooms until they were done. It hadn’t been to long since Magma had arrived into the area and sat down with a book she’d plucked from the shelves and began reading when she heard the door open. She’d opted to wear a simple sleeveless tunic with lace hems, a pair of faded slim jeans, and dark flats.
For a second, she considered remaining completely quiet and pretending to be absorbed in her book, but when she heard the familiar voice belonging to Scott, she couldn’t. He was like a big brother she looked up to. No, he was a big brother she looked up to. As she glanced at him, she took a mental note of his clothing choice, little smile appearing not in mockery, but comfort. It was familiar. And maybe a little funny in the sense that Scott would probably never have a cool fashion sense, but that’s what she felt partially made him memorable. Her smile grew a little as she greeted him, taking note of his kind expression. “Hey there, Scott. I’m okay… What about you?” She saw the faded marks on his face, and guessed he probably had more, but couldn’t make a knowledgeable guess. She’d seen him unconscious when he had been brought in the X-Jet by Nightcrawler, and she’d felt awful then. At least he was okay. That helped. “What brings you here?”
“Sounds kinna like my uncle. He cares a lot, but he’s all no-nonsense. Guess that worked since I was learnin’ sign, and that’s how that works, too. ” He laughed softly, but abruptly stopped when she mentioned her mom not being around anymore. Dad got rough around the edges, mom wasn’t there; she wasn’t dead, was she? He’d feel to awkward asking, since she didn’t bring her up for a reason, he guessed. Maybe some other time? He was relieved when she didn’t think it was silly. Looking back, it was silly for him to run off, but at the same time, he learned so much, met so many people, and got to stay here and do something good to make up for his long line of mishaps and accidents. One stupid decision actually lead to all the right kinds of stuff. He wouldn’t take it back if he could. “I grew up in a music store an’ I always wanted ta play in a band. Music was my life. I cou’n’t handle losin’ it at first. Just nothin’ felt the same when I cou’n’t hear. But when I cou’d again, I din’ even care that it sounded differ’nt. It was like hearin’ music fer the first time all over again.” He smiled fondly at remembering the day he heard his uncles voice and one of his records playing after so long of just watching the records spin in utter silence.
When the holidays came up, he brightened with the idea. Maybe, just maybe he could. He didn’t care if it was on a holiday or not, but now that he was getting training, maybe he’d feel safer being around them again. Maybe he wouldn’t be afraid of hurting them again. Maybe he could even practice extra, because until the internet found a way to transmit hugs and the presence of an actual human being, video calls weren’t nearly as much as he wanted to have. “Maybe. I’d really love ta see ‘em in person again. Pa was always real big on family git-ta-gethers.” I bet my sister’s gotten real tall, too… He cocked his head at Amara and flashed a little smirk. “I hope ya git ta see yer dad again soon, too. Maybe he’d be happy ta see how far you’ve gotten.” But the distance was clear, and not just in the physical miles between them.
So Amara was keeping her superherodom low-key, too. Trey had been doing the same. His first mission had been a big news story about a dangerous riot. Now was probably not the greatest time to be saying he’d been out there in the thick of it. “Yeah, I ain’t told mine yet, either. They know I’m getting trainin’, but they don’t know I’m part’a the school’s own personal superhero team. Not even sure what they’d think of it. Maybe freak out a little.”
He watched her preform the motions and joined her in the recap. He laughed at her commentary on ‘I’, notably her use of ‘proper folk’. “Guess that makes ‘I’ the fanciest outta ‘em all, right? An’ it leads right inta ‘J’, too, so you never fergit those ones.” He took up the ‘I’ sign again, only this time he swept it in a little ‘J’-shape in the air. “‘J’.” He repeated it once for clarity before putting his fingers into something very close to a peace sign. “An’ ‘K’.” He lingered on the sign before continuing on to a very obvious and familiar shape, albeit reversed on his hand, grinning a little as he did so. “An’ I think ya kin guess this one’s ‘L’. I don’t think anyone fergits this one.”
She smiled softly. “It sounded like your uncle really wanted to help you, and if you learned quickly, things would be a little easier for you. He wanted what was best… At least, that’s how I imagine it.” His sudden stop in laughter confused her, but she didn’t really ask. Her words weren’t the brightest, but while they didn’t bother her personally, some people wondered about her home life. It was natural. But that pause in the calm atmosphere was short-lived, which was good. She didn’t want to drag the general feeling down, especially when she was actually having a lot of fun. Some of the things they were discussing just happened to be personal, and since they didn’t know each other well yet, some things were bound to raise some questions. It wasn’t a problem as much as it was a test to see what path led to where. Basically, it was touch and go. ”That must have been amazing. Different or not, hearing sound again… I understand why you did all of that. I’d probably do it too.” He looked so happy, probably remembering what it was like when he heard things again, and Amara was found to be smiling also. It was hard not to.
Seeing him light up at the mention of holidays eased the slight worry that had built up when she’d mentioned it. He really cared about his family, and it was nice to know that his family cared about him in return. How nice would it be for a family to just meet up again and be happy? It was a rare thing—at least from what she’d seen at the mansion. She shrugged her shoulders at the mention of her father. “I suppose. Normally, I stay here for the holidays, and I spent it with whoever is still around. We have fun, though. But I always call him, even if he doesn’t invite me back home, so it’s okay.” But what would her father actually think if he saw her out there fighting, using her powers that were once only capable of causing destruction in a negative sense? Would he be proud? Although, Amara couldn’t imagine her powers being used in a helpful way, either. Even if she was taking down people who hurt her friends and innocent people, she was still damaging things, people. But maybe that was just how things were?
Now they were back to learning. She’d made sure to run over the movements in her mind while they spoke, though, just in case. I and J were her favorite signs so far, and she was grinning the entire time she progressed from the previous into the latter in a simple move. Then was K, which while simple, gave her a moment of pause due to almost making the mistake of using an actual peace sign, but took notice of the difference Trey displayed and quickly corrected herself before completing the sign. “K,” she muttered, nodding her head slowly. “I-I mean, the letter, not okay, but I am okay, though…” Awkward. The next sign made her grin, as she did recognize it. She copied the gesture. “I didn’t know about it until I got to America, and when someone used it, I had no idea what they meant. But then one of my friends told me and I was convinced that Americans were just rude with hand movements. I know better by now, of course, but still. It was funny looking back on it now, you know?” She shrugged, laughing a little.
“Well, ain’t ya a natural.” Trey smiled as he watched her happily replicate the signs, and even running through all six to memorize them. She was a good steady learner, always taking her time to make sure she got it just right, which was better than some people. He remembered helping teach some smaller deaf kids back in Missouri, and, while most of them would patiently wait, a few were still very much kids and wanted to do as many as possible in their excitement.
“Guess so. He wou’n’ta sent ya here to learn if he din’ mean the best fer ya. I know some parents who’re like that.” He quirked his lip and fidgeted his fingers a little. Clearly not in sign language, though. Not like he had a problem with talking about it, especially since Amara had done so. “I miss ‘em like crazy. Ma, Pa, an’ my li’l sis. My family was always real close, so sucked ta hafta leave ‘em. But ya know, the folk in Joplin din’ really take kindly ta havin’ a mutant ‘round that’d hurt people, an’ I din’ wanna cause ‘em trouble just ‘cause I was… ya know, me.” That, and it was hard to live around all the music you couldn’t hear, and a sister who was scared of you. He brushed the other side of his hair behind his ear and looked up again. “After that, I went ta live with my uncle on the ranch, an’ that’s where I started sorta-hearin’ again. After that, I kinna,” he shrugged with a smile, “uh, I kinna ran off ta join a band. Silly, right? But I was just real excited ‘bout hearin’ music again even just a little. I wasn’t good enough at hearin’ and not gettin’ overwhelmed ta actually play with ‘em on stage, so I just set up their stuff. But they taught me some drum tricks an’ gave me a ride out here. I still talk to my folks, though. I send ‘em letters a lot, an’ I used ta try an’ talk on the phone, but it’s way easier now that I kin video chat ‘em now with my computer. My Ma keeps sayin’ I ain’t eatin’ enough. I kinna miss gettin’ ta really see ‘em.” He laughed and scratched the back of his head before looking back at his hands. He was doing something… “Yer one’a the X-Men too, right? I think I saw ya listed on the other squad… Does yer dad know yer a superhero?” Oh, that’s what he wasn’t doing!
“Oh! Uh, right.” He laughed. “This is ‘G’.” He made a pinching shape with his index finger and thumb, and rotated it so she could see how he was holding it from the back and front. “This is ‘H’, real easy.” He made a pointing gesture with both his index and middle fingers, palm facing himself. “And this here is ‘I’.” He simply closed his finger, but left his pinky pointing up. “Like havin’ fancy tea, right?”
Amara nodded. “Papa means well, he’s just a little rough around the edges since my mom isn’t around anymore.” Tilting her head slightly as she listened to him speak, she found his family story to not be perfect, but nice nonetheless. Some of her friends had to leave their loving families because their hometowns didn’t like having a known mutant around. If they had a dangerous power like she did, though, it was even worse. People were always afraid. She understood their reasons, but it still hurt when everyone looked at her as if she were a monster. But now that a lot of time had passed since that time, it didn’t bother her as much and she could think about it without becoming really upset. It was almost comforting to hear that he’d decided to leave his home for their sake, since it wasn’t too different from her own choice to leave Brazil in hopes of gaining control. The girl rested her hands on her knees before saying, “No, I don’t think it’s silly. You were hearing things again, and you wanted to hear music. That’s not something I’d call silly.
“And it’s good that you keep in touch with them. That’s important. I don’t really do that anymore, since I feel like it’s a military-style status update when I try to send him any mail or give him a call.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe, one day, you can see them again. The holidays aren’t too far away…” Amara wasn’t sure what that would mean for him, if holidays were seen as a good thing or bad, but it was a time where family usually felt closer. For Magma, it was bittersweet, but a good time was always had with the fellow students at the Institute. They were her family that had more in common with her. For a quick moment, she combed a hand through her hair.
The question about her father knowing any sort of details about her life at the Institute almost made her laugh, but she just shook her head with an amused look on her face. “Yeah, I’m in Scott’s squad. But I don’t think my dad knows much else about the school besides they take care of me and help me control these powers of mine. He doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Mostly, he just asks if I need him to send me anything.” Trey seemed to recall something then, and at first she was a little baffled, but then his laugh made her let out a little laugh of her own.
She watched as the next letters were demonstrated to her. The letter G was pretty simple, and she followed well with her repetition. She liked H, honestly, and I proved to be easy to grasp, as well. Moving through those three a couple of times to get used to them before she moved down what she had learned so far once more, the brunette grinned at the comparison she was given while doing so. “It’s just like how you see those proper folk drink in movies. The higher the finger, the fancier you are.” She giggled, tucking some hair behind her ear.
“Sorta.” He laughed. “It’s differ’nt in sign. Like… instead a sayin’ ‘what’s yer name’, ya go ‘you name’ an’ squint yer eyebrows so it looks like yer askin’ somethin’.” He demonstrated the simple question in sign, his hands going on autopilot to point at her, then tap the index and middle fingers of both hand together like drumsticks while squinting.
He watched her fingers folding and extending to carefully mimic the signs, and checked to make sure she was getting them down right. She was definitely paying attention and taking her time to properly memorize them. “That’s real good! ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’. Now, this is ‘D’,” he held up his index finger only, and curled his thumb to his middle, then lingered to let Amara get a good look, “this is ‘E’,” he curled his fingers, letting them rest along his thumb, and giving her time to see, “and this is ‘F’.” He left only his index finger down and touching his thumb.
He went through the the three shapes again slowly a few times, repeating the letters, before actually responding to her story, which caught his attention almost immediately. That’s why she looked so different. She was all the way from Brazil, and she had to learn to control her powers after an accident back home. There was a definite pang of sympathy that went straight to his face, but the rest of her story about the X-Men and other students, as well as the idea of Xavier fireproofing the house, brought back his smile. “Well, fireproofin’ ain’t ever a bad thing. Guess it mighta been a li’l embarassin’ at first, though.” He laughed gently. “And you came from Brazil?” He’d only read about it, and knew tons of history facts about it from his father’s thorough history lectures. “That’s a long ways away. An’ here I was always thinkin’ Missouri seemed real far off. I bet it was perdy different when ya first came here.” He couldn’t help but ask, since it was something he himself always thought about every day. “Do ya miss yer family a lot bein’ so far away?”
A chime of laughter came from her as she repeated the action, having to purse her lips to block the smile on her face to look the part of being inquisitive as she pointed at him and then copying hitting her index and middle fingers like drumsticks—just as he had done. After she completed it, she broke out into a small laugh, covering her grin with one hand. She was having fun. It wasn’t difficult, yet, and the atmosphere was a calm one. It wasn’t so much that it felt like she was learning in a classroom but it was more like seeing something entertaining but educational on the television. Except, obviously, that was not the case.
Repeating the same process as before with the previous letters, Amara waited a small moment to prepare and then only after she gathered the idea did she make the sign on her own. “D,” she repeated as she made the sign, definitely feeling a little more confident after being praised. The following sign was made, and she announced it with a gleeful expression on her face, “E.” The next letter was done soon after with a proclamation of “And then F” from the girl. She made sure to recap what she’d learned so far, moving from A to F while muttering the letters to herself.
“It was,” she gave a soft laugh. “No one really made fun of me for having proofed furniture in my room when they found out about my powers. But, yeah, I’m from Brazil.” While she’d definitely noticed the change in expression on his face before, she didn’t mention it. He’d explained how his powers had hurt people, and how he reacted to her causing damage back home must have struck something. She didn’t want to make the feeling linger. He seemed to pass over it, smile returning and easing Amara’s slightly built up concern. “At least I had learned some English in school, or else I would have had a difficult time settling at first. My accent was really strong, though, and sometimes it was hard to understand. It’s mostly gone now, and I try not to make it too obvious.” His question, however, was a little more difficult to answer. Not difficult in the sense that thinking of her family severely upset her, but it did bring some memories to the forefront of her mind. That didn’t really matter anymore, though, since she put it in the past. “I only lived with my dad back home, and he’s the one who sent me away. Sometimes, I miss him, but he doesn’t really call much. He basically told me to learn how to control my powers before I come back home and cause more damage. He means well, though.” She shrugged her shoulders. “What about your family? …If it’s not too personal.”
“A’right then!” He lit right up at her excitement and looked down at the ground, not out of shyness, but rather to spot out a good place to sit. “Well, uh, here. Might as well sit an’ git comfy.” He sat himself on the soft dry grass, crossed his legs, and gestured with a smile and a nod of his chin to the ground as he waited for her to sit down, too.
He paused for a moment on her question, quirking his lip and raising a brow as he thought back to when he’d first started learning. “Well, when I started, memorizin’ ‘em was harder. It feels like there’s a lotta signs, and some of ‘em are real close to each other, sorta just like words that sound the same. But I don’t think none of ‘em’ are too hard on their own. What might kinna mess ya up at first is how ya put words together in sentences. And learnin’ ta use yer face as part of the sign, but ya don’t hafta worry ‘bout that yet. Letters an’ numbers are real easy.”
He held up his left hand to begin showing her the signs slowly so she could have time to see them. “Oh! Uh..” He suddenly looked at his hands as he quickly realized something. “Yer right-handed like most other folk, right? Ya use whatever hand is yer best.” The first three were plenty easy, but he made sure to watch in case she needed help. He first made a fist with the thumb up against the side of the index finger. “This is ‘A’.” Then he lifted his fingers, and laid his thumb across his palm. “This is ‘B’.” And then he curled his whole hand into a crescent. “An’ this is a ‘C’.” He smiled encouragingly as he demonstrated. “So how long ya been here, Amara?”
Amara sat down across from him on the ground. “That sounds like it would be a little difficult. But with enough practice, I’m sure it’ll be easier.” It really seemed interesting, especially when he included that some signs required you to use your face. That was different. “Well, I guess it’s like making entire sentences in any language, right? They’re in order?” The feeling of the grass under her was definitely a large comfort. It was like having someone she was familiar with right there to make conversation easier. That was such a relief, and it helped her relax further past the light worry she felt over meeting new people.
“I’m right handed,” she she said, warm smile on her face. Amara held up her right hand a bit for emphasis. The first signs he showed her were indeed easy, but she took a moment to copy them to make sure she could get it right and could mark it to memory. Forming A, she pronounced the letter in a soft voice, mostly to remind herself and repeat the word to the action. She followed the same pattern with B and C, also. The girl’s smile grew as she spotted that encouraging look, and her cheeks burned from just a hint of shyness. She was mostly feeling pretty good about learning, though, so her eyes were bright.
His question made her blink in slight surprise, though. “A few years ago, I first came here to learn how to control my powers since I caused an accident back home. It was pretty bad when I got here and Xavier had to fireproof a lot of stuff.” At times, the memories made her a little sad, but it mostly made her laugh now. “We trained to be future X-Men, the fellow students. But then a lot of us just drifted off back to our families and I went back to Brazil until the middle of the school year. I’m glad to be back, though.”
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