Disclaimer: All characters used in this story are property of Marvel comics.
Author's Note: Thanks to Cynjen for Beta Reading this!
He sat on the log, placing the bag of apples next to him. He knew now not to hunt out the girl but to let her come to him. Tapping his foot against the dirt, he wondered what she was up to this day. Residing in the Biosphere, she was unaware of the bleakness around her. Winter had come to snow valley, and snow had coated the grounds of the school. The temperature had dropped considerably over the past few days, making the whole Academy chilly.
//Not only the weather//, he thought, shrugging his shoulders, //But people.// Shaking his head as he remembered the morning - not really wanting to, but letting the scenes wash over him. They had happened just two, three hours ago? He wasn't sure. Nothing that anyone else would get worried about, just him. Had he someone to talk to, they probably would have told him he was worrying about nothing. They're just friends, they would say, you know how she feels about you. Why should you worry?
//Do I really know, though?// he wondered, taking out an apple and holding it in his hands. //Or do I just think that I do?// As he contemplated this, the girl approached him, nimbly sitting in front of him and eyeing the apple he held in his hand.
[ Didn't see you coming, gel... ] he said, handing her the fruit. [ Never do, though, do I? ] He wondered if his thoughts were reaching her, if she could ' hear ' him. For two months, once a week, he visited the mysterious girl. More of an enigma then anyone he had ever known before, she was small and delicate but also dangerous. She demonstrated this later attribute by carefully peeling the apple then deftly cutting it into chunks. She nibbled on the fruit, smiling up at him.
[ 'Least people aren't like you, Penny, ] he said as she put another piece in her mouth. [ Most I can understand a little bit, you know? ] Pausing a moment, he decided that statement was not correct. [ On the other hand, if we were all like you, it'd be a lot simpler. You want another apple? ]
She made no effort to answer the query, just looked up at him, her eyes blue and expecting. He reached into the bag and produced another apple, handing it to her.
[ What do you eat, anyway? Just the apples I gave you, or do you find some other things 'round here? ] he asked, watching as she ate the second of the fruits. [ You certainly seem hungry enough. ] She smiled up at him as she was halfway through the fruit, as if encouraging him to continue. [ Like I said, though, it'd be a lot easier if we were all like you. Wouldn't have to worry about whether someone liked you or not, or if they like someone else, what people think about you, or if somethin' is gonna offend people or not... ]
He handed her another apple, the third of five he had brought for the small girl. [ 'Course, how do I know that? Maybe you've got it more complicated then I could ever imagine...too bad you can't tell me all about it, Penny. Might be interestin'. All I can do is make assumptions, then. ]
He scuffed his feet through the dirt, clad in black hiking boots. They had been outside just an hour ago, training in the snow. Frost said they needed to know how to handle combat in all sorts of situations. Didn't seem to be worth it. His ears were a bright red, numb and tingling as they warmed up. His fingers, which had been clad in black gloves were still numb, the tips a slightly white colour. Probably his own fault, for not wearing winter gear like he was instructed. Everyone else had worn parkas and gloves, earmuffs and hats. He shrugged. He'd warm up soon enough, nothing to get overly worried about.
[ Your a gel Penny...why are they so..? Like gel's are. Never tell you anything, send you mixed signals, make you think one thing, then to somethin' to contradict it. I don't get that. Guys are pretty straightforward an' we don't mess around with people's heads. ] He looked down at the girl, who was looking up at him, her mouth curved into a smile.
[ How'd you know I brought you more, ehm? ] He asked, looking down at her and handing her the last apple. [ She slices! She dices! Great for food! Use her to impress your friends! ] Crinkles developed around his eyes, and had Jonothon Starsmore a mouth it would have been smiling.
[ Made quick work of that, didn't you? ] He asked, handing her the last one. Opening up the bag, he showed her that it was empty so maybe she would understand he didn't have anymore for her. [ You know, though, Penny, I really like Paige and all, but I don't know if she likes me. Thought she did, but when I saw her and Ev this morning - I don't know. Gels. Thought I had 'em all figured out, and turns out I don't. Lots of my theories gettin' shot down lately. ]
He shrugged his shoulders, the jacket slipping off them. He pushed it back on, then puled it closer to him. [ I had lots of girl friends - before, you know? Gail, Cynthia, Carry...more that I don't remember, 'least there names. I was a big deal an' everything, and now...] He shrugged, looked down at Penance. [ Sorta the same with you, you know? Don't know what you were like before, had to be better then what it's like now, though? Applies for most of us... I mean, even before, gels were gels. Catty and stuff. Would you be like that, if you could talk an' hear? Or would you still be Penny? ]
The small girl looked up at him, her face clear and interested. Holding out her palm, she showed him an apple slice, one she had not eaten yet. He looked down at it, not sure what to do. Did Penny understand, understand that he could not eat anything, let alone her apple? Would she be hurt if he didn't? //She'd be more hurt if I didn't take it//, he said, and picked up the slice of apple. Holding it in his hands, he watched as she smiled.
[ Thank you, Penny, ] he said, the look of delight on her face increasing. //She didn't need me to eat it.// As he thought this, the girl offered him another smile, then scampered off into the Biosphere, to do whatever she did. Jono watched her as she bounded away. //Maybe she does understand me...// he thought, turning to leave. Did she have it as good as she thought she did? With Penny, who knew? All he knew about the girl, the enigma of Generation X, was that she knew how to listen. //Probably all I need to know.//
She watched the figure exit from her perch in the tree. It was thick and strong, and wouldn't break when she touched it. Even the high branches could hold her, and she was on of those now, watching as he left. Tall and handsome, with brown eyes and brown hair, just like her friend from childhood. She remembered him well, the boy that would play with her, bring her the toys. Like this boy brought her apples and words. She liked the words better then the food, the way they flowed an ebbed as they came from him. She didn't know what they meant, but she liked their sound, the gentle accent that he spoke with and his inflections of them. Sometimes they would be slow and gentle, other times confused and fast. She could tell when he was happy and sad by the way the words came, and this made her happy. She knew so little about these new people, only that they took care of her and did not hurt her. Not like all the others.
She smiled as he faded from her view, living her home. He had liked her gift, she could tell by his words. She had seen his eyes too, usually sad and droopy, they had brightened when she had given him the slice of fruit, and his words were very, very happy. This made her happy - and that him more happy. It was good to make people happy. But would fruit slices work for everyone? She shrugged at this, emulating the boy when his words wondered. Yes, she decided, they would. Who could not want apples?
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