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Taking it in Stride

Posted on Wed Dec 20th, 2023 @ 10:00 by Phoebe Hunter & Jonathan Monroe

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Institute Grounds
Timeline: November 7th 06:00
1467 words - 2.9 OF Standard Post Measure

"It's far too early in the morning for this," Jonathan grunted, rubbing his hands together as the breath from his mouth formed a light steam. He certainly wasn't used to the early start, but even he was surprised that with his self-generating heat source the Scottish climate was chilling. "Running around the loch sounded like a great idea when you suggested it, but I can't believe you manage in this weather. Do you do this every morning?" he wondered, looking at Phoebe.

Phoebe was bundled up in her joggers, a hoodie and a wollen hat as she stared at the man and grinned watching the fire starter trying to warm up himself. "Most mornings unless I am on overnight duty." She assured thinking back to how eager he had been to do something with his Saturday morning instead of marking. "Still time to go back." She offered.

Jonathan closed his eyes and concentrated for a few seconds, artificially warming his extremities. "No, I can manage." A puff of steam drifted off his back. "Don't go running off and making me look bad, though," he said, letting her ease them into a light jog. "And if Cam finds out we're doing this we'll never hear the end of it. Running without him."

"He would be bored. Me and him have tried this and it ended up with me throwing up from trying to keep up." Phoebe said gently as she led the man out of the main castle grounds and pass William's cottage that looked warm and inviting at that time in the morning.

"What a pleasant thought," he replied, sucking in a breath that chilled his chest. "You feeling okay after everything that happened with the Rangers?" he wondered.

Phoebe glanced at him before she stared right ahead and jogged a little faster to get herself over the slight bump before she decided to answer. "Bruises are healing up." She answered quietly.

"I'm glad to hear it, but that's not what I was talking about." He gasped a little, concentrating on breathing while matching pace before adding, "We took a bit of an 'L' there. Not our finest performance, and certainly not something they're going to let us forget. Needs some time to shake off, you know?"

"I know it is not what you are talking about, but we do not know each other well enough for me to go into that with you." She said turning a little to glance at him. No one apart from Claire knew about her connection properly with the Rangers nor what had happened between her and Robert that night and why she had been so beaten in the end.

He was a little surprised by the voracity with which she shut down his attempt at concern. He knew better than to dig further; as someone with his own strict personal boundaries, he respected her need for them. Especially with a mutant power that might be more self-destructive than his. "Message received," he said between breaths. "But given you're team leader of the Knights, you understand why I need to know what kind of mindset you might be in if we might be asked to jump back into the field."

“The same mind set I’ve always been in.” She quietly assured growing silent as the fog in intwined around then for a moment as they got higher on the trail before they jogged down the dip and it became a little clearer. “Fog is thick around here.” She commented.

"I actually prefer the weather here," he said, letting her change the subject, though it felt like he was making polite noise now.

She knew she had thrown him with her blunt response before she stopped running and just stood there. She needed to tell someone that was not connected so much in her life about it all. She needed input - Matt did not know because she did not want to burden him when he was trying to figure out his place in the works and Claire already knew but had no advice. Otis did not know that side of her and she wanted to keep that away from him for now until he was settled but here was Jonathan reaching by out to talk. “I am not okay.” She finally admitted.

"Huh?" He was surprised to hear the admission, especially after her earlier stone-walling. Rather than intentionally dig for more, he stood silently, letting Phoebe process for herself what she wanted to say.

“The people that came that night. The man… me and him used to be involved.” She finally decided to just explain it to someone. “He tried to bring me along the path that he is on and I refused.”

"Robin Hood guy" he asked cautiously. He didn't want to sound accusatory, nor like he was inferring any sort of blame. The past was a complicated subject for many of the Knights. "Was it a long time ago?" he finally asked, trying to redirect thoughts away from that.

“Robin Hood guy and me yes.” Phoebe answered back using his word back so he knew that she was not judging him for what he was saying. “Four years ago. He became that and I became this.”

"A lot can change in four years," he noted. "Two people, leading different lives on different're not doubting your decision, are you?"

Phoebe leveled him with a look that would have frozen him if that had been her ability but it was not. “Never. But it just… it is hard to watch the person you once upon a time loved become that.” She was struggling to put her words together in a way that he would be able to understand.

He nodded slowly. It wasn't a situation he felt like he had much experience of. Sympathy, rather than empathy, was the only way he could approach it; after all, he was practically a pro at shutting down from those sorts of connections. Don't make them, you don't have to deal with them breaking. "I'm not surprised you feel the way you do," he said finally, looking out at the misty Scottish morning. "What he did - it must be a hard thing to watch."

“What happens when people have passion but no positive outlet to work it into so they create their own and it becomes extreme. He was on this path before I met him but…” She let the thought trail off into the mist and shrugged. She felt better about revealing something to someone instead of just bottling it all up.

"You can't let yourself think that you could have saved him, either. People are responsible for their own choices at the end of the day." He shrugged, a half-shiver in the cool air. "Even if that means they pretend to be the hero of their own story; If he wants to play at being an outlaw, that does come with consequences."

"All actions have consequences, this is the truth." Phoebe agreed taking a deep breath desperate to change the conversation now. "You know I have met many fire elemental mutants and I have to say you are the most compassionate and least hot-headed I have seen." She admitted.

"It's a stereotype," he nodded, understanding. He created a small tongue of flame in his hand for a moment, reflecting. "Scientifically speaking, a blue flame is actually hotter than your regular red-orange flame. But honestly? The colour is actually down to the chemical composition of what is being burned; a red flame burns carbon, whereas blue burns gas. There are certain things that burn green or even purple..." He blinked, looking back up at Phoebe. "I...uh, guess I like to think that a blue flame means a cooler personality. Calmer."

Phoebe could not help but laugh a little. “I have met a lot of people and it was meant to be a compliment.” She assured him before looking at the path feeling a little lighter in her steps.

"Well, that's good then." He shrugged. "Because really, I have no idea how anyone can explain half the things we mutants can do."

Phoebe said nothing. She had no idea herself but she did not admit that she had admitted enough to someone for the day. She did not need to be seen as any more clueless when she was meant to be the leader of the Knights. "Big old compliment to a friend who is about to continue jogging with me so I can get this nasty couple of weeks out of my head." She prompted hopefully as she indicated the slowly lifting fog.

"I think that's something we can both benefit from," he agreed, sticking a hand out as if to say 'after you'.


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