Title: Only Miss the Sun When It Starts to Snow
Fandom: X-Men Movies (Original Trilogy)
Genre: Action Adventure, First Time, Romance, Science Fiction, Slash
Relationship(s): Bobby Drake/John Allerdyce
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Mention of previous violence against a character when they were a child, homophobic language, death of a minor character, Infidelity, Violence – Canon-level, brief references to underage sex. Rogue-bashing
Author Notes: Bobby, John and Rogue are all eighteen and over the age of consent. I have made a few changes from canon – the main one being that, rather than Phoenix being Jean’s split personality, I’ve made it a separate entity using her form. Also, although this story is based in the original trilogy, I’ve used the prequels’ idea of Charles and Raven growing up together because I really like it. A massive virtual hug to my beta, lazydazy, because she talked me into signing up for this, talked me out of dropping out when my original story stalled, and then beta-ed this for me too. And all the thank yous to my lovely artist, Ringspells, for her help and the absolutely amazing art she’s created; I absolutely love it.
Word Count: 54,060
Summary: When Bobby chased his girlfriend, Rogue, to New York City, he ran into his former best friend and suddenly realised why he never could get over John leaving the way he had and why things with Rogue were definitely not working out. But can two people on opposite sides ever make it work? Especially when having to contend with the government’s new mutant ‘cure’, an energy-sucking monster masquerading as a dead loved one, and the years of hurt and confusion which lay between them.
Bobby sprinted out of the main doors and then waited impatiently by the side of the driveway for John to show up. Part of him was expecting Rogue to reappear to yell at him some more so he kept checking the door and missed John’s car turning in through the gates. The moment that he did notice, all thoughts of Rogue left his head.
John pulled up alongside him. “Get in and make sure that she’s okay.”
He pointed at the backseat so Bobby opened the back door. There was a woman curled up on the seat. She had dark hair and was clearly wearing one of John’s shirts and a too-big pair of sweats.
“Why is she shifted?” Bobby asked as he got in alongside Mystique, gently lifting her legs so that he could slide in beneath them. “Is she stuck?”
John shook his head. “I’ll explain when we’re inside.”
He drove off around the mansion almost before Bobby had closed the door. Bobby could see that his fingers were clenched so tightly on the steering wheel that his knuckles were white. Whatever had happened, it was clearly bad. He turned his attention back to Mystique, assessing her condition; she was unconscious but she was trembling all over and clearly in distress.
The car pulled up again, next to Scott and the Professor. Logan and Kurt were also there; apparently Logan was unwilling to let Mystique into the mansion without his direct supervision. They had a gurney with them and so Bobby helped Scott and John to get her onto it before they all headed down to the lab. John hovered over her anxiously while Scott and Logan got her situated on one of the beds. Ororo had already set up some equipment and she quickly got to work, hooking Mystique up to various monitors to study her vital signs.
Bobby grabbed a stool for John and put it next to the bed, much as Logan had done for him when Scott had been the one laid up in this room.
“What happened St. John?” the Professor asked and John shook his head.
“It was so fast. There was this new mutant; he joined the Brotherhood about a week ago. His skin was invisible; it was pretty gross because you could see all his insides but Magneto welcomed him with open arms,” John said. “Another mutant for the cause.”
“Glob.” Logan nodded at the description. “I’ve met him. Didn’t seem like The Brotherhood type.”
“He wasn’t. He was a plant; the government sent him in to take down Magneto,” John told him. “A few hours ago, he pulled one of those plastic guns they have and took a shot at him. Mystique spotted the gun and jumped in front of the bullet; except it wasn’t a bullet, it was a fucking syringe.”
“The cure,” the Professor said as he looked at Mystique. “Oh, Raven.”
“Oh shit!” Bobby whispered.
Mystique’s shifting power wasn’t stuck, it was gone. This Glob guy had shot her with a dose of the cure.
“Son of a bitch!” Logan punched the wall, making a dent in it. “They’ve weaponised the goddamn cure.”
“I’ll call Hank. He’s still in DC; we can’t let him wander around, clueless. Not if there are more weapons like this; he’s not exactly inconspicuous,” Scott said. “And I’m sure that he’ll want to find out what the hell is going on.”
The professor nodded without taking his eyes off Mystique and Scott quickly left the room.
“What happened then, John?” Ororo prodded, a lot more gently than Bobby would’ve expected; she was clearly shaken by the revelation.
John looked at Bobby, as if for support, and Bobby grabbed his hand.
“Magneto killed Glob; he wrapped an old piece of metal wire around his neck and strangled him. Then he banished Mystique from The Brotherhood.” John’s voice sounded choked as he relayed that. “She’d saved his life and he told me to drive her to the nearest town and dump her there. She’s probably going to be real mad that I brought her here but I couldn’t just chuck her away like that; like she’s a piece of trash.”
“You did the right thing,” Bobby told him.
“Yes, you did,” the Professor agreed. “You brought her home. Thank you, John.”
“She told me once that she used to live here,” John explained.
“She did indeed. We grew up together, as inseparable as brother and sister,” Charles said, much to Bobby’s surprise because he’d never heard this before. “I rather stifled her, I’m afraid. Tried to keep her with me and locked her up in a metaphorical box. When Erik offered her freedom; I couldn’t compete. But I’ve always loved her, even when we fought on opposing sides, and this will always be her home. Just as it is always your home if you wish to return.”
John shook his head though. “I don’t belong here. I never fit in, not really.”
The Professor studied him and hummed thoughtfully. “I suppose that, for some people, home isn’t really a place.”
Bobby startled because that was almost exactly what Mystique had said to him.
John and the Professor clearly weren’t going to leave Mystique until she woke up. Bobby wasn’t going to leave John by himself in the mansion, if only because he knew how uncomfortable John was just being there. Logan obviously wasn’t going to leave Mystique, cured or not, and Ororo washed her hands of the lot of them.
“Call me if there’s any change in her condition,” she said to the Professor. “She doesn’t need another person staring at her while she sleeps.”
“May I…may I pray for her?” Kurt asked and John jerked a little when he realised that Kurt was asking him.
“I guess?” He replied, uncertainly. “I don’t know if she’s religious; she’s never mentioned it.”
“It is a prayer of guidance,” Kurt explained. “To help her find her way back to us.”
“I think that would be lovely. Thank you, Kurt,” Charles told him and Kurt smiled.
He walked to stand beside Mystique’s head and, closing his eyes, began to speak lowly in German. Obviously, Bobby had no idea what he was saying but it sounded nice and it clearly meant something to Kurt that he was allowed to do it. He’d had something of a fascination with Mystique ever since that night camping in the woods before Alkali Lake. Rogue had once called it a ‘crush’ but Bobby wasn’t sure about that; he didn’t think that Kurt liked anyone romantically.
After Kurt had left with Ororo, Bobby grabbed a stool for himself and sat beside John with their shoulders and thighs pressed against each other trying to give him support. Logan just leaned against the wall and the Professor seemed deep in thought as he watched over Mystique.
After about an hour Scott came back into the lab. “I’ve spoken to Hank and he’s apoplectic. Apparently, he was assured by no-less than the President himself that the cure would never been used on mutants against their will. I’d feel sorry for whoever he’s going to take his considerable temper out on if I wasn’t so furious myself.”
“The fact that it was Raven who got hit probably hasn’t helped his mood,” the Professor said quietly. “They were very close, once upon a time.”
Which made sense of why Hank was always so reluctant to think bad of Mystique. And, now that Bobby was thinking about it, why he’d been upset that the Professor had known Mystique was in the mansion that night; he was probably annoyed that Charles hadn’t told him.
Scott nodded and then looked over the strange little group. “I’m going to patrol the grounds while Ororo and Remy head into Westchester. Kurt is in charge of getting the kids to bed. Logan, some company would be appreciated.”
Logan huffed. “What if she wakes up?”
“From what we know about the cure and from what you, yourself, observed with Rogue, Raven will be too tired to do much of anything for a few days once she awakens,” the Professor told him.
“She’s not just anyone,” Logan pointed out. “Her power is…was shapeshifting, that’s all. The ninja shit? That’s all her. She dangerous with or without her powers.”
“Even if she’s up to the ninja stuff, she won’t hurt me and she most certainly won’t hurt John or Bobby,” the Professor assured him. “Go on and patrol. There’s a higher chance of Phoenix showing up here than there is of Raven attacking anyone right now.”
“Fine!” Logan said grumpily and straightened from his slouch. “On your own head and all that crap.”
Scott’s mouth twitched as if he was trying to hold in a smile at Logan’s sulking but he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he looked over at John.
“I’ve made up your old bed, Pyro. I’m sure that Bobby doesn’t mind me going into the room while you were both down here. I figured that you’re probably pretty tired after everything that’s happened, so it’s ready whenever you need it.”
John stared at Scott in confusion before he nodded. “Thanks.”
Scott nodded back at him and then he and Logan left on their patrol with Logan grumbling too lowly for them to make out what he was saying.
Bobby jumped slightly when John suddenly poked him in the side. “Rogue took the cure?”
“Last weekend,” Bobby told him.
“So, you can touch her now?” John asked and Bobby knew where this was headed.
“I can but I won’t. Me and Rogue are over, I told you that,” he said. “Besides, it turns out that she’s really not my type.”
John’s eyes flickered with heat for a moment and he gave Bobby a quick smile before frowning again. “Why did Mr Summers call me Pyro? No-one else here does; that’s more of a Brotherhood thing.”
“Huh.” Bobby frowned, realising that Scott had done exactly that. “I don’t know.”
“It’s the name that you’ve gone by since you left here,” the Professor said and both boys jumped as they remembered he was still there. “A lot of mutants prefer to go by their mutant name all the time and we will always honour that if you prefer us to.”
“I think…yes. I’d prefer it,” John told him.
“Very well, Pyro. I’ll make sure that everyone knows,” the Professor said with a smile.
“Thank you.” John looked down at Mystique. “Do you think that she’ll still want to be called Mystique now?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure that she’ll decide once she awakens,” the Professor replied. “She hasn’t gone by Raven in a long time and only myself and Hank were allowed to call her that for a time before then.”
“I like that,” John murmured quietly to Bobby. “I like the idea of you calling me John while everyone else calls me Pyro.”
“Are you sure? I can call you Pyro, if that’s what you want,” Bobby told him, suddenly feeling bad about all the times that John had corrected him when he had called him John and not Pyro.
John shook his head. “I like you saying my name. But only you.”
That fire was back in John’s eyes for a moment and Bobby flushed as he realised in just what type of situation John liked Bobby saying his name. John smirked at him briefly before they both turned back to their vigil over Mystique.
They didn’t have to wait too much longer. As Logan had predicted, she woke up before he and Scott returned from their patrol and, as the Professor predicted, she was too weakened to do much more than roll over to look at everyone.
“Charles?” she asked and he smiled, gently pushing a strand of hair from her forehead.
“You’re at the mansion,” he told her. “Pyro brought you here. How much do you remember?”
She frowned as she thought. “I remember…Glob had a gun and then I…I…oh god! My power drained away, I could feel it happening and I couldn’t stop it.”
“I’m so sorry, Raven. That must have been an awful experience for you.” The Professor took hold of her hand and stroked the back of it in a soothing manner. “But you’re safe here, I assure you.”
“Magneto threw me out, didn’t he?” She turned to look at John who nodded angrily. “That bastard! After everything I’ve done for him! How dare he?”
“Magneto will get what’s coming to him one of these days,” the Professor said but Mystique shook her head.
“That’s not good enough. He needs to pay now! I’m going to…to…oh, Christ, Charles! What am I going to do now?” Her face crumpled and the Professor leaned forward in his chair in order to pull her into a hug.
“You’ll do what you’ve always done. You’ll survive,” he whispered into her hair.
John hesitated a moment and then took hold of her hand, Bobby winced a little when he saw how quickly she grabbed onto John, how tightly she squeezed his hand and realised just how much comfort she needed right then. So, he put a hand on her calf, the nearest place that he could reach, and hoped that she’d understand that he wanted to help her too. She didn’t kick him away so that was a good sign.
The Professor waited until Mystique had composed herself before letting Scott and Logan know that she was awake. As Ororo was still in Westchester, Scott took over the medical side of things and checked whatever the various monitors monitored.
“Hank will be here as soon as he can,” Charles told her.
She looked as though she wanted to protest that but instead nodded sharply and returned to her staring contest with Logan. He was right; she was still able to exude danger despite having her power taken away.
“Your vitals are all fine,” Scott told her. “Obviously we will need to monitor you for any other side effects beyond the exhaustion.”
She gave him a sly look. “Pretty sure that I could still take you, pretty boy.”
Logan growled beneath his breath and she shot him a taunting smile. “Pretty sure that I could take you too, Wolverine.”
“Raven…” the Professor said in a warning tone.
“Mystique,” she corrected.
John and Bobby exchanged a look. That answered that question.
“Very well.” The Professor nodded, just the same as he’d accepted John’s name preference. “It has been a very long day so I think it’s best if we all retire for the night and reconvene in the morning.”
Logan grunted. “And where exactly is she going to be staying?”
“Wherever the hell she likes,” Mystique sneered. “This is my home, you’re just visiting.”
“I’d say that it stopped being your home when you turned your back on the Professor,” Logan told her.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” she replied and the Professor moved his chair so that he was physically between them.
“That’s quite enough. As we have no spare rooms made up, Mystique shall stay in Hank’s room; I’m sure that he won’t mind.”
Mystique sent him an odd look at that but nodded; probably more because she clearly was exhausted than because she was happy about it.
“I assume that’s acceptable to you, Logan.” The Professor’s voice carried an undertone of caution and the other man nodded too.
Hank’s room was directly across the hall from Logan’s so it probably was the best place for Mystique to stay. Logan could keep an eye on her, just as he wanted to, and Charles wouldn’t have to lock her into a room. Bobby was pretty sure that Logan would set up camp in the hall all night anyway.
John had been silently watching the conversation with a cautious expression. Bobby squeezed his hand to get his attention.
“If you want to crash with Mystique, I’d understand,” Bobby told him in a low voice.
John and Mystique were, for all intents and purposes, in enemy territory so it made sense to Bobby that they would want to stick together; especially at first. They’d obviously grown close while John had been with the Brotherhood and cared about each other. In fact, Bobby would say that Mystique was to John what Scott was to Bobby.
John studied him with a thoughtful frown before looking back to Mystique who was watching them both because apparently Bobby hadn’t spoken as quietly as he’d thought.
“Yeah, I’m going to stay with her,” John said.
“That’s fine,” Bobby replied, although his heart hurt over the fact that John felt so ill at ease at the school now. “You know where to find me if you need to. You do remember the way, right?”
John rolled his eyes. “Asshole.”
Bobby smiled at him and, over John’s shoulder, Mystique gave him a tiny wink so he figured that he’d done something right.
They made a strange entourage as they all made their way up to the mansion proper but luckily it was way past lights out so they didn’t run into anyone apart from Kurt who was still cleaning up. The first floor was where the living quarters split into staff and students so Bobby gave John’s hand one last squeeze and then turned to head up the stairs to the next floor. Before he could take more than a couple of steps, John grabbed him and pulled him into a kiss, uncaring of who could see them.
“Sweet dreams, Princess,” he murmured with a smirk and a heated look that Bobby knew would keep him from sleep for a little while yet.
“Jackass,” Bobby muttered back, softening the insult with a smile even as his face flushed bright red, before he continued up the stairs.
He was lost in thought as he made his way to his room, part worry about John and Mystique skipping out during the night and part remembering that heated promise in John’s eyes. He opened his door and let out a loud yelp when he saw something moving in the direction of his bed. He quickly threw on the light and then just stared at the sight of an obviously naked Rogue in his bed.
“I came to apologise about earlier but you weren’t here,” she said. “So I thought that I’d wait for you.”
Bobby closed his eyes and shook his head but she was still there. “Rogue…what..?”
She gave him a seductive smile. “I know that you not being able to touch me is what ended our relationship. So I thought that I could demonstrate just how much of me you can touch now, sugar.”
“I’m gay,” he reminded her. “You were the one who told me that. And you were very, very right.”
Rogue smiled at him as though he was a silly child. “I wasn’t right, Bobby. I was angry and I didn’t react very well, I know that now. We belong together, baby, and I know you feel that too.”
Baby? Bobby stared at her, at a loss for what to say and then jumped out of his skin when Logan suddenly materialised next to him with Scott and John close behind.
“Marie! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Logan glowered as he spotted her and how very undressed she was.
“I’ve told you before that what me and Bobby get up to in our private time is none of your business,” Rogue told him, primly, pulling the sheet around her a bit more securely.
Bobby turned to John in time so see the hurt on his face before he started to shutter the emotion away.
“No!” Bobby said and finally got his feet to move. He caught hold of John’s hand before he could leave. “I didn’t know she was here, I swear. I don’t want her here, I want you here. And I know that I can’t have that tonight – which is fine, it really is – but I’m waiting for you. I’m not going to do anything with her…”
“Drake, you’re babbling,” John drawled but Bobby could see the relief in his eyes.
“And I think the entire mansion knows that you were unaware she was in here, from that scream you gave” Scott said and John snorted.
“I didn’t scream! I gave a manly shout of surprise,” Bobby told them and they both shook their heads at him.
Bobby suddenly wasn’t sure that he liked the two of them getting along; this did not bode well for him at all. A yell of indignation from inside his room caught his attention and he turned back to see Rogue sitting up in the bed, glaring at Logan who had apparently just thrown her clothes at her.
“Get dressed, Marie; we’re leaving. Now.”
“I’m eighteen, Logan. You can’t tell me what to do anymore. If me and Bobby want to have sex then we’re going to have sex!” Rogue snapped at him.
“We are not going to have sex, Rogue,” Bobby told her, flatly, and John snickered.
Suddenly her eyes zeroed in on John; clearly she hadn’t noticed him while she and Logan were arguing. “What the hell is he doing here?”
“What’s wrong, Roguey? You didn’t miss me?” John asked and Bobby elbowed him to get him to stop baiting her.
“Murderer!” she hissed. “You don’t belong here.”
“Yeah, yeah; I’m an evil fag and I’m just going to corrupt everyone. You’ve already told me all this shit, Rogue,” John drawled in a bored sounding voice.
Bobby stared at him in shock. “She what? When the hell did she say that?”
John suddenly looked a little uncertain. “Bobby, it’s alright. I know that you didn’t know…”
“No, I didn’t fucking know! And it’s not ‘alright’!” His blood was boiling as he turned back to Rogue. “When did you say that?”
Rogue looked taken aback at his anger. “I was protecting you, sugar. I saw the way he looked at you; I knew what he was thinking, what he wanted to do with you, and it was wrong.”
“Wrong?” Logan asked in a dangerous tone. “You want to explain that?”
She huffed. “You know what I mean. It’s unnatural. He’s unnatural and now he’s made Bobby think that he’s a fag too. He’s not and I’m going to prove it.”
“Jesus Christ, Marie!” Logan looked at her as if he’d never seen her before. “Unnatural? You could kill someone just by touching them, I can slice a man in half with my freaking claws. Cyke, over there, shoots plasma from his eyes and your sainted Bobby can freeze someone solid in seconds.”
“That’s different.” Rogue waved a hand dismissively, the other still holding the sheet over her chest. “None of us chose that.”
“Wow!” Scott muttered from behind Bobby. “How did we miss this?”
“Get the fuck out of my room!” Bobby told her through gritted teeth.
“Bobby, I can help you,” she insisted, seemingly oblivious to the anger of everyone. “I can make you normal again and we can be together as we were always meant to.”
Bobby took a step towards her, intent on physically throwing her out, naked or not, but John wrapped an arm around his waist from behind and stopped him. That’s when he realised that he’d caused the temperature to drop and he could see John and Scott’s breath clouding in the air.
Rogue’s eyes narrowed at the hold John had on him and she suddenly got up on her knees, the sheet staying on her by a wing and a prayer. “Get your hands off him! He’s mine!”
“No, I’m his!” Bobby spat at her. “I’ve always been his! You were just a placeholder!”
She reeled back as if he’d slapped her but he couldn’t feel bad, not after the venomous shit that she’d spouted.
“Get dressed, Marie,” Logan said, firmly. “You and I clearly need to have a conversation.”
John and Scott urged Bobby back out into the hall and closed the door to give Rogue a little privacy to dress. A couple of nearby doors quickly closed too so there had definitely been witnesses to that little drama; which was hardly surprising, they hadn’t exactly been quiet. Bobby sighed; no doubt the rumour mill would be hard at work again the next day.
“Are you okay?” John asked before pulling Bobby into his arms when Bobby just shook his head.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” he mumbled into John’s neck.
John’s higher than normal body heat was doing a great job of helping to normalise Bobby’s body temperature, helped by the way John swept his hands in a soothing manner over Bobby’s back.
“You made that clear to everyone,” John replied. “I do love it when golden boy, Bobby Drake, gets riled enough to start cursing.”
Bobby gave a tiny huff of amusement. There was the sound of his bedroom door opening behind him, followed by a sharp intake of breath. He lifted his head to see Rogue staring at him and John as though they were pieces of shit on her shoe.
She opened her mouth to say something but Logan took a firm grip of her arm and led her away, towards the stairs; no doubt taking her to his classroom for that conversation.
“Are you going to be okay?” Scott asked Bobby in a concerned tone after they’d all watched Rogue being dragged away.
Bobby nodded. “I may need some time in the Danger Room tomorrow. I think I need to freeze a lot of things.”
“Only if you let me blast them,” Scott replied at the same time that John said;
“I can help you blow them up.”
Scott and John looked at each other in an assessing manner before Scott finally nodded at him.
“I’ll see if I can book some time and I’ll let you know,” he told Bobby. “Pyro, are you still staying with Mystique tonight?”
“Nah, I figure that someone should stop the ice princess, here, from freezing his room,” John said, the hand still stroking Bobby’s back taking any sting out of the old insult. “Besides, we clearly need to talk too.”
“Alright then; I’ll see you both tomorrow.” Scott left and John watched him thoughtfully.
“Why’s he being nice to me?”
“Temporary insanity?” Bobby suggested and John snorted before prodding him into the room and closing the door behind them. “He had a bit of a metaphorical smack to the head lately and I think that he’s reassessing things.”
John nodded. “I guess that happens when there’s an evil energy vampire masquerading as his dead girlfriend. And, wow, doesn’t that statement put your own problems into perspective?”
“At least I’ve only got a suddenly homophobic ex-girlfriend and a boyfriend who hates everything I stand for,” Bobby joked and John snorted.
They moved to sit on John’s bed to talk, agreeing without words to avoid touching anywhere that Rogue’s naked body had been.
“Honestly, how bad was she?” Bobby asked. “And why didn’t you tell me?”
John rubbed the back of his head. “Tell you that she was gay-bashing me when I hadn’t even told you that I swung both ways yet?”
That was a fair point, Bobby conceded with a tilt of his head.
“Gay bashing? So it was more than the one time?”
“She made snide little comments.” John shrugged. “Then when you kept insisting on hanging out with the two of us, rather than just her all the time, she got a bit meaner. I didn’t really give a shit what she thought about me; I’ve heard a lot worse, you know I have.”
Bobby nodded. He was probably the only person who knew the full extent of the beatings that John’s alcoholic dad gave him and then what he went through on the streets once he finally ran away.
“But I did care about what she told you,” he admitted. “And about what you’d think.”
“About you being bisexual?” Bobby asked.
“No.” John shook his head. “Well, yes but more…about me wanting you. She wasn’t wrong about that.”
Bobby studied him. “How long?”
For how long had he missed it? How long ago could they have had this and avoided all that Brotherhood bullshit?
John looked away. “I think since I got here.”
“What?” Bobby’s mouth dropped open.
John laughed at Bobby’s expression. “I’m not saying that I wanted to jump your bones when we were eleven, Drake. It’s more like…once I realised how I felt, it wasn’t a surprise because it had always been there. You were my first real friend, the first person to spend time with me because they wanted to and not because they wanted something from me or needed a punching bag.”
It was true, Bobby had been fascinated with John Allerdyce since the moment he’d arrived at the school; skinnier than he should’ve been at his age and with a bad attitude. He remembered the first time he saw John, curled up on a chair in the Professor’s office in clothes that were dirty and far too big. He also sported a black eye and a fat lip; Bobby had instantly decided that they were going to be best friends and that he would take that haunted look from the other boy’s eyes. He talked the Professor into letting him change rooms so that they could be roommates and didn’t think that John ever stood a chance of not being Bobby’s BFF.
“It was after Boston that it got bad,” John continued, staring at the carpet. “I remember staring out of the window of the plane and seeing that cop…realising what I’d done…”
“It was an accident.” Bobby grabbed John’s hand, he’d thought about that moment so many times and now it was time to find out what really happened. “Right?”
“I can’t be sure if it was,” John admitted and Bobby’s stomach lurched before John kept going. “Letting go of my power like that, just letting that fire all flow through me; you’ve no idea how good that feels, Bobby. It’s better than the best sex you’ve ever had and Boston was the first time that I’d really felt it. I don’t know if I saw her…I can’t remember. All I can remember is that rush and never wanting it to stop.”
“John…” Bobby cupped his face and forced him to look at him. “No. You’d have stopped if you saw her. I know you; you’d never hurt someone who didn’t deserve it.”
“I used to think so but…what if it’s genetic, Bobby?” John asked and the look in his eyes broke Bobby’s heart. “What if I have no choice but to end up just like him?”
“You are nothing like your dad!” Bobby asserted. “That man is a cruel and abusive monster. I’ve seen you go out of your way to protect the younger kids. What happened in Boston was an accident. You. Are. Not. Your. Dad.”
John stared at him, a tiny bit of hope sparking in his eyes. “I thought that you hated me for what happened in Boston, you know. Especially after what Rogue said. Right up until you kissed me in New York, I thought that you…”
“I never hated you,” Bobby promised him. “I admit that I was confused over what happened that day at my parents’ and why you left but I never once hated you.”
“I should never have believed her,” John muttered.
Bobby frowned. “What did she tell you? Exactly.”
“She said that you were disgusted by what I’d done and that you didn’t even want to look at me, let alone be friends with me after that,” John told him and then grabbed hold of Bobby’s hand again when his temperature dropped. “Easy, Bobby; you wanted to know and I’m not done yet.”
Bobby closed his eyes and took a deep breath, pulling himself back under control, before nodding for John to continue.
“It was after I’d lit the campfire that night in the woods and you’d gone to sleep early,” John said. “We hadn’t spoken since your parents’ house and I kept trying to get you alone but she would always get in the way. All I could think was that I was a killer; it was circling over and over in my head to the point where Dr Grey obviously heard it and tried to talk to me but I only wanted to talk to you.”
“Pyro, I’m so sorry…”
John shushed him. “You didn’t know.”
“But I should’ve,” Bobby protested. “I know you and I saw what happened, I should’ve known that you needed to talk about it but I was so wrapped but in that stupid bullshit with my parents and Ronnie. Fuck!”
Bobby stood up and began to pace the room. He remembered it all. He remembered how Rogue was all over him, comforting him and trying to make him feel better but, in hindsight, he could see now that she was deliberately steering him away from John. Because he did recall John trying to speak to him a couple of times but he let Rogue deal with it because all he was thinking about was his own pain and betrayal and at the time he thought that she had his best interests at heart. And he did go to bed first, exhausted by the day, and he had woken up to find Rogue in the bedroll next to his instead of John but, again, didn’t really ponder too much on it because his dipshit brother had proved that he was actually a backstabbing dipshit and that was apparently more important than the pain his best friend was clearly in.
“What else did she say?” he demanded.
John made a point of breathing out so that Bobby could see how cold it was getting and waited until the temperature rose again. “You haven’t had this tenuous a grip on your control for years, Iceman.”
“I haven’t been this angry in…” Bobby thought about it. “Actually, I don’t think that I’ve ever been this angry. Not even at Ronnie, it’s not like I didn’t already know he’s a racist jerk. Just tell me and I’ll keep control this time.”
“It was basically what I said earlier. She called me a fag, accused me of wanting to ‘turn’ you and told me that I should leave the school because I would corrupt the younger children by acting like being a fairy was alright. She’s really not all that creative with her homophobic slurs,” John pointed out. “Then she said that no-one would miss me and that I didn’t even have you anymore because I’m a murderer and that you’d finally seen me for the immoral bad seed that I am.”
“I never thought any of that,” Bobby told him.
John huffed. “Yeah, I know that now but at the time I was hurting and exposed and her shot hit home. Then I looked at Magneto and thought about how he was a killer too and that I would fit in better with him than I would here. So I left.”
“And I didn’t stop you,” Bobby muttered. He stopped pacing and looked at John, still calmly sitting on the bed. “Why aren’t you more angry?”
“Oh, I could burn her from the inside out without much effort,” John assured him. “But I’ve already known that she lied to me for a couple of weeks now; I’ve had time to work off my temper.”
“Right.” Bobby nodded; John must’ve realised it after their encounter in New York. “So what do we do now?”
“Now, you get your ass over here and we get some sleep before we both keel over,” John said, with a pointed look out of the window at the sky which was well on its way to lightening.
Now that he thought about it, Bobby was feeling wrung out from everything that had happened since he received that phone call from John. He considered pointing out that sharing a bed may not be the best idea if they actually wanted to get some rest but John looked just as tired as him. Plus, he wasn’t going to sleep in his own bed until the sheets had been changed and he was too drained to do that right then. He nodded and both boys stripped to their undershirts and shorts before sliding into John’s bed, facing each other. It wasn’t an unfamiliar experience, they’d often shared a bed after one or the other had suffered a nightmare or was particularly jumpy about their power, and Bobby felt some of his tension melt away.
“There are some things that I need to tell you too,” he told John, thinking that it was time he explained to him the full extent of his mutation.
John stroked a finger down the side of Bobby’s face and leaned the short distance to press a gentle kiss to his lips. “Go to sleep, Bobby. I’ll still be here when you wake up, we can talk then.”
Bobby woke up with a start and, not used to only inhabiting a small part of the bed, immediately fell out of it. There was a chuckle and John’s head popped over the side of the bed, looking down at him.
“Morning, Darl’. Sleep well?”
Bobby groaned and gave John the finger. John just laughed louder and held out a hand to pull Bobby back up onto the bed.
“What the hell woke me?” he asked.
“That was Mystique leaving; you slept through her entire visit,” John told him, propping his head up on one arm to look down at Bobby while he got settled again. “She snuck out to check on us because she wanted to make sure that we hadn’t killed each other in the night.”
Judging from the light outside and the noises from the mansion, it was definitely morning and people were clearly up and about. Bobby wondered how she’d managed to get by people without them sounding the alarm about the strange woman walking around but she had said that she knew the mansion better than him; Bobby bet there were all sorts of secret ways to sneak around that he hadn’t discovered.
“Why would she think that we would kill each other?” Bobby asked. “I thought she was all for us being together.”
“Oh, she didn’t think that we were fighting,” John said with a smirk. “I think the exact quote was, she wanted ‘to make sure that we hadn’t fucked each other to death yet’. Apparently we have too much pent up UST.”
“Oh!” Bobby blushed and John grinned at him. “Speaking of which, you do know that I’m…umm…not that experienced, right?”
“You’ve been dating a girl that you can’t touch, for a couple of years,” John said in a wry tone. “Unless you went through a phase of cheating on her then it’s only been Opal, by my count.”
Bobby smiled a little at the memory of the girl from Westchester that he’d dated just before Rogue had arrived at the school. Opal had definitely been a force to be reckoned with and Bobby was pretty sure that she only dated him to piss off her strict Asian parents. He’d lost his virginity to her in the backseat of her car and then panicked because he’d made it snow outside, in just that one specific parking place; which John had thought was hilarious. Luckily, she’d just thought it was a freak storm and they’d continued to date for another month or so before she got bored of him and dumped him for the guy who worked the popcorn counter at the local cinema.
“No-one since Opal,” he confirmed. “How about you? Any hook-ups in the Brotherhood?”
“A couple,” John shrugged. “No-one worth talking about.”
Bobby didn’t feel as jealous about that as he’d have expected. He guessed it was because John wasn’t exactly a blushing virgin when he joined the Brotherhood; Bobby was used to his hook-ups with girls – and apparently, boys – in town. Plus, John and Jubilee had a thing going for a while. And, nobody could forget, John and Alison’s brief but tumultuous fling.
“Say it again,” John requested suddenly and, at Bobby’s confused look, he added. “Say that you’re mine.”
“I’m yours,” Bobby told him without hesitation. “I’ve always been…”
Bobby didn’t get the chance to finish before John kissed him with a groan. He eagerly kissed him back, relishing in the heat of John and especially his mouth; such a counterbalance to his own coolness. It was almost spicy, as if John had been eating chillies earlier and retained the heat but not the flavour. Bobby couldn’t get enough of it.
John moved, without breaking the kiss, until he was straddling Bobby and they both moaned at feeling the hardness of the other through their boxer shorts. John ground down and Bobby had to break off the kiss to bury his face in the crook of John’s neck.
“Jesus!” Bobby panted.
“Nope, just me.”
Bobby could hear the evil grin that John was sporting and he wasn’t going to stand for that. He took a moment to brace his feet against the mattress, then he suddenly bucked and rolled until he was on top and John was staring up at him in shock. Bobby was a little surprised that he’d managed it without dislodging them both off the bed but he kept that to himself and just smirked at John.
“This is much better,” he said as he began to kiss along John’s jaw and down his neck.
“Hmm…better,” John agreed, pressing his head back into the pillow and arching his neck for Bobby to explore.
When Bobby reached the neck of John’s t-shirt, he pushed his hands beneath the bottom of the t-shirt and pushed it up to John’s armpits, baring his chest for Bobby to continue his explorations. Every so often, he would hit a spot which would make John twitch a little so Bobby would nuzzle, and sometimes give a bite to, the area in order to make him groan before moving on.
This wasn’t as daunting as it had seemed earlier, Bobby decided. He knew John’s body, had seen it countless times over the years and recognised most of the scars and that mole just below his left nipple. He just had to learn a new way of reading it; licking along the scar on his collarbone, earned Bobby a gasp. Flicking his tongue across his nipples didn’t get much of a reaction but gently biting them caused John to buck up so hard that Bobby almost toppled off him. Stroking his finger across the burn mark on John’s side made him tense up and his fingers bite into the flesh at Bobby’s hips.
“Bad spot?” Bobby asked and John nodded, tightly.
Bobby committed that to memory and moved on; finding more good spots until John was writhing beneath him and groaning again. When he reached John’s boxers, he stopped and ran his fingers teasingly under the elastic. John propped himself up on his elbows and stared down at him.
“Bobby…you don’t have to.”
Bobby grinned at him. “But how else am I going to learn?”
“Well, if that’s what you want.” John grinned back. “Who am I to stand in the way of education?”
Bobby pulled John’s boxers off him and ignored the nervousness in his stomach; he could do this. He took John in hand and gave him a few experimental strokes that had John twitching even more as he tried to stay still. Smiling at that, Bobby leaned down and gave him an experimental lick.
“Fuck!” John muttered.
Bobby frowned slightly at the bitter taste but figured that it was something he could live with if it made John react that way. Remembering what Opal had done to him, way back when, he wrapped one hand around the base and then slowly took the rest of John into his mouth.
“Holy shit! Do you have any idea what you look like?”
Bobby looked up at John who was staring at him with an awestruck expression.
“So good, Darl’,” he told him. “Keep going.”
John’s head fell back as Bobby’s lips reached his hand and when Bobby swirled his tongue around him, John’s arms gave way entirely and he fell back against the bed with a bitten off cry.
“Fuck, Bobby! Do that again!”
One of John’s hands found its way into Bobby hair and tugged a little which sent a burst of heat through Bobby and caused him to moan. John let out a string of curse words and his hips bucked, pushing him too far into Bobby’s mouth. Bobby quickly pulled off, coughing and spluttering with his eyes watering.
“Sorry,” he got out and John’s hands were instantly on him, pulling him up the bed.
“No! Shit, Bobby; that was my fault,” John assured him. “You doing were fucking amazing. I swear.”
Bobby took a few moments to get his coughing under control and then John pulled him into a desperate, toe-curling kiss, while trying to get the rest of their clothing off at the same time. Bobby helped and finally John pushed him back down onto the mattress with nothing between them.
“So good,” John muttered between kisses as their hands roamed all over each other, clutching and stroking as they rocked together. “Knew it would be this good.”
“John…god, yes!” Bobby whispered back.
He jumped a little when John wrapped his hand around them both and began to stroke. The feeling of having John pressed against him that way and the little twist John’s hand kept adding, was Bobby’s undoing. He groaned John’s name as he threw his head back and fell over the edge, taking John with him, his teeth buried in Bobby’s shoulder to keep from crying out.
“Oh my god!” Bobby panted as John collapsed on top of him. “That was…”
He shook his head because he had no words for what that was.
“Phenomenal,” John muttered against Bobby’s shoulder and Bobby nodded.
When they were able to get their limbs to work again, John grabbed a pair of boxers from the floor and wiped them both off before throwing them away again. Then he moved only far enough that he wasn’t crushing Bobby and immediately fell asleep. Bobby chuckled and managed to drag a sheet over them before he pulled John closer. He knew that he should probably get some sleep too and he could definitely feel it creeping up on him, but he had some things to think through. So he lay there, soaking in the warmth of the sleeping man – who he was pretty sure he was in love with – in his arms and began to plot and plan.
He didn’t know how long they lay there in the late morning sunlight, but the peace was shattered by someone banging on the door. John grumbled loudly and rolled over, pulling a pillow over his head, and it was so familiar that Bobby was beaming from ear to ear as he quickly grabbed a pair of sweats and a t-shirt from his drawers and answered the door.
Scott quickly took in the scene. John asleep in his bed – clearly naked – Bobby’s bed still in the exact same state it had been in after Rogue had left the night before and the t-shirt which Bobby only just realised he was wearing inside out. He gave Bobby a big grin and Bobby got the uncomfortable feeling that he’d just won some kind of bet.
“I’ve booked the Danger Room for 3pm,” Scott told him. “Charles and Mystique would like it if you and Pyro would have lunch with them in an hour.”
“Two hours,” John countered without moving from his sprawl.
“Sorry, kid; they’ve already ordered in the food,” Scott said. “Apparently, Mystique’s tastes are a little grander than the meatloaf being served up for the rest of us today.”
John snorted. “Mystique has been eating campfire food for months. She’s taking advantage of the opportunity and I am definitely not complaining because campfire food sucks!”
He finally rolled over and stretched, looking around for something. Bobby winced because he knew there was no way Scott missed the bites marks that he could see on John’s body
“One hour,” Scott said, rapping his knuckles on the doorframe before he left.
“I have no clothes,” John realised with a frown after Bobby had closed the door.
“Actually, all your old stuff is in storage upstairs,” Bobby told him. “We can go and dig through it later, if you want. You can borrow my stuff for now.”
Bobby frowned. “They didn’t throw it out?”
“Nope.” Bobby shook his head.
He didn’t want to explain why, because it might make him sound a little pathetic, so he busied himself with pulling out some of his clothes for John to wear. He threw them onto the bed and John eyed him for a moment before grabbing them.
“Everything okay?” He asked, stepping close to Bobby.
“It really is,” Bobby told him with a grin, pulling him even closer and into a kiss. “Come on; let’s get cleaned up before we get too distracted.”
“I wouldn’t mind getting distracted,” John said, waggling his eyebrows. “Mystique wouldn’t care if we were late.”
Bobby chuckled. “But are you willing to give up non-campfire food?”
“Fair point,” John said. “Let’s get cleaned up. But you owe me a distraction later.”
“I think that I can do that,” Bobby replied, laughing against John’s lips.
That they were only fifteen minutes late to lunch was something of a miracle but the Professor acted as though he hadn’t even noticed. Mystique, on the other hand, gave them a knowing look. She had already started eating the sandwiches which had been ordered in and John wasted no time in grabbing his. The Professor shared an amused chuckle with Bobby before they started their own food. It wasn’t until everyone had finished eating that the Professor explained why he had wanted Bobby and John to join them.
“Pyro, you and Mystique are welcome to stay here, I have already made this clear, but I know that you have some reservations about that and I think that Mystique may as well,” he said. “So the question is, what do you want to do now?”
John and Mystique looked at each other but neither seemed to have an answer.
“I might have something,” Bobby said; it had been one of the things that he’d been thinking about while John slept. “I’m finished with school in a couple of months and I’ve already been accepted at NYU.”
He was explaining this for John and Mystique’s benefit because the Professor already knew this.
“I was planning to commute so that I could live here and continue with the X-Men training but I don’t need to do that anymore.”
“What do you mean?” John asked.
At the same time, the Professor said, “I think that entirely depends on Pyro’s plans, don’t you?”
“My plans?” Then John’s eyes widened in understanding. “You threw him out of the X-Men because he was seeing me?”
“Bobby resigned from the X-Men so that he could continue to see you,” the Professor corrected. “But if you aren’t planning on returning to The Brotherhood then any conflict of interest has now been removed.”
John was staring at Bobby but Bobby kept his eyes on the Professor. “Would I still need to live here to train?”
“I suppose not,” the Professor conceded. “What did you have in mind?”
“I thought that maybe Pyro and I could get an apartment in New York,” Bobby said, glancing at John to try and gauge his reaction. “I could get a part time job to help pay for it, plus I’ve got some of that money from my parents left over. If Pyro gets a job too then I think that we could manage it.”
“Pyro?” The Professor raised an enquiring eyebrow at him. “What do you think of that plan?”
“What about Mystique?” he asked but she shook her head.
“Don’t worry about me,” she said. “I was already thinking of getting away. Travel for a while and figure out who I am now. I’m sorry kid, but I can’t take you with me; it’s something that I need to do by myself.”
Hurt flashed on John’s face but it was followed by understanding as he nodded. “You’ll come back though, right?”
She snorted. “Of course, someone needs to keep an eye on you. You’re a disaster area.”
John suddenly jumped up and frantically began patting down his pockets. He put a hand in his front pocket and made an exaggerated expression of relief before he pulled that hand back out with his middle finger sticking up at Mystique. She shook her head, held a fist out in front of her and made a winding motion with her other hand, slowly raising her middle finger back at John.
“Children, please,” the Professor said in such an exasperated tone that Bobby started laughing and couldn’t stop.
“Are you sure you want that one?” Mystique asked, looking at Bobby. “He seems a little unhinged.”
John grinned. “Yeah, I definitely want that one. He quit the X-Men for me.”
“Yeah, I kind of like him too,” Mystique admitted. “I very much enjoy the way he screams like a girl when you surprise him.”
“Hey!” Bobby protested through his hiccups.
“You really do though,” John told him and even the Professor nodded with amusement written across his face.
So Bobby let that, patent lie, go and instead asked John, “So, do you want to do the apartment thing? I was thinking that maybe you could even sign-up for some creative writing classes at NYU.”
John looked surprised. “Could I? I dropped out of school.”
“I’m sure there’s a way,” Charles said, thoughtfully. “I can certainly look into it for you.”
“Thanks.” John nodded at him and then turned to Bobby. “Why the hell not? I already know you snore and leave chip packets on the floor like a slob.”
“At least I can remember to put my clothes in the laundry before I run out,” Bobby shot back.
“I think this is going to work out well,” Mystique commented to the Professor. “You boys had better get a decent couch for me to crash on when I visit; I’m not sleeping on one of those ridiculous broken down things with springs sticking out of it that you found in a dumpster, Pyro.”
“That was one time!” John protested. “And I still say it was better than sleeping on the floor.”
“Marginally,” Mystique told him, archly. “Until the spring ripped a hole in the tent.”
Bobby smiled at the good natured, bickering; he was really pleased that John had someone who he connected with in The Brotherhood. Even if it was one of the scariest people he’d ever met. Luckily, she seemed a little fond of Bobby too; at least, as long he made John happy.
When the Professor excused himself to go and check on a few things, Bobby took the opportunity to leave too. Clearly, Mystique was going to leave sooner rather than later so he left them sniping at each other while they still had the chance.
“How much money do you have left from what your parents gave you?” the Professor asked after they left the room.
“About ten thousand. They were very generous with their pay-off.” Bobby said bitterly.
“I wish that I could have protected you from that,” Charles sighed. “It never fails to amaze me how badly some parents can treat their children.”
About a month after the restraining order from his parents had been issued, his dad’s attorney actually showed up at the school. His parents were willing to give Bobby a large, one off payment, if he signed a contract agreeing to never contact any member of the family again. Scott had urged him to take the time to think about it but Bobby had just wanted to be done with the whole situation. The money was enough to cover his college tuition, with that extra bit left over, and it was more than he expected from them after that mess in Boston.
Bobby shrugged. “At least I had you guys to raise me. That’s more than most.”
“It was always a pleasure, Bobby, and you’ve grown into a fine young man who I’m very proud of.” The Professor smiled at him before heading off towards his office.
Unsurprisingly, Kitty knew where he’d been and was waiting for him. Bobby swore that she had a touch of telepathy but she denied it.
“So Rogue really is crazy,” she said from her lean against the wall as he approached. “Do you think it’s a side-effect of the cure?”
Bobby shook his head as he leaned next to her. “I wish. Apparently she’s been spewing this homophobic bullshit at John for years and I had no idea. What’s the rest of the school saying?”
“The original rumour was that Pyro broke into the school and interrupted you and Rogue’s make-up/first time sex in order to try and kill you because he’s secretly in love with Rogue.” Kitty rolled her eyes.
“ What the..? How did they come up with that bullshit?” Bobby groaned, already trying to think of a way to stop people thinking that crap about John.
“Don’t freak out; you haven’t heard the best bit,” Kitty said with a smile. “Alison nipped that poppycock right in the bud.”
“Alison did?” Bobby blinked at her.
Alison was Rogue’s roommate and as close to a best friend as she had at the school. She was also not John’s biggest fan after their short-lived relationship imploded.
Kitty smirked. “Apparently, when Rogue stormed off to her room yesterday after the skating, she started ranting about John and his evil homosexual agenda. Alison did not take it well because she has some close relative – an aunt or a cousin or something – who’s a lesbian. They ended up having a huge fight after Rogue told her that her relative was going to burn in hell.”
“Wow!” Bobby shook his head. “I just don’t understand it. She has to know that what she’s saying is wrong otherwise she wouldn’t have hidden her opinion from everyone for so long.”
“Honestly, I think that while she was able to kill people with her skin, she couldn’t really get on her high horse about anyone else; at least not publicly,” Kitty said. “But now that she’s ‘cured’, she’s better than those people again.”
Bobby hummed. “You could be right.”
“I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s how she was raised before the mutant stuff hit her. It doesn’t help that as soon as she could have sex with her boyfriend, he realised that he’s gay,” Kitty added with a chuckle. “That probably pushed her over into full-blown crazy.”
“To be fair, she knew before she could have sex with me; she just apparently thought she could ‘fix’ me,” Bobby pointed out, refusing to feel guilty for that. “So, everyone knows what really happened?”
“I’d say that you are well and truly out of the closet, Bobby Boy,” Kitty confirmed. “You and John realised how you really felt about each other and the power of your love was enough to turn him from the Dark Side. Rogue then gay-bashed the pair of you and Logan kicked her ass.”
It was close enough, Bobby supposed. “I don’t actually know what happened after Logan dragged her out of our room. He was pretty angry though.”
“Well, he’s like a thousand years old,” Kitty said. “You can’t tell me that he was completely straight for that entire time.”
“He wouldn’t remember, if he was,” Bobby mused and then straightened when he spotted Hank barrelling down the hall; he must have just arrived back.
“Bobby!” He called. “Where’s Mystique?”
“In the teacher’s lounge,” Bobby told him.
“Right, come on then,” Hank ushered Bobby up the corridor. “My apologies, Ms Pryde; I need to borrow him.”
Kitty shouted a goodbye after them but Bobby was already being pushed into the lounge. Mystique and John were still where he’d left them. They appeared to be thumb wrestling, but Mystique froze when she saw Hank.
“Raven,” he said in an emotion-filled voice. “Are you okay? I’m mean, of course you’re not, but do you need…anything?”
Bobby and John exchanged a look; if he hadn’t already suspected that Hank and Mystique were a couple once upon a time, then this would confirm it.
“I need retribution,” Mystique informed him. “But that’s going to take time now.”
“I can help with that, as far as the government is concerned,” Hank said. “Although I assume that you’re talking about Magneto too.”
She gave a short nod. “But the government is as good a place to start as any. What have you got?”
The door opened again and the Professor entered, accompanied by Scott and Ororo. Ororo narrowed her eyes at Bobby’s neck, right where he knew a pretty spectacular love bite was, and then handed a smug looking Scott some money with a sigh.
“What..?” Bobby started to ask but Hank began to talk again.
“This morning, I resigned my position as Secretary of Mutant Affairs. I have spoken to the President and he remains unrepentant about what happened at the Brotherhood camp. In fact, he intends to try again in order to stop Magneto.” Hank pulled a flash drive from his pocket. “I managed to download all they have on the cure and the weapons they not only have, but also ones that they intend to make with it. Clearly, Magneto is not the only mutant on their ‘cure’ list.”
“We can release it to the press,” Ororo said. “The story about the New York clinic is all set to run tomorrow.”
“What?” John frowned. “What story?”
“The one that exonerates you.” Ororo turned to Bobby. “I thought that you emailed him about that.”
“I did. You didn’t get it?” He asked John who shook his head.
“There’s not exactly wi-fi in the woods and I hadn’t been in civilisation since I was in Westchester,” he said. “You’ve put a story about me in the paper?”
“Not exactly, your name isn’t mentioned,” Ororo told him. “I passed information to the Daily Bugle that, according to certain staff members of the clinic, no-one could have been in the room where the explosion happened. One of their guys investigated and found their own evidence that no-one died and that the deaths were planted in the media to make mutants look bad.”
“You knew about this?” John asked Bobby but Bobby was frowning at Ororo; the time frame didn’t match up.
“You said that you’d hold off on the story until John managed to get away from Magneto.”
“And he did. He’s here.” She gestured to where John was sitting.
“But he didn’t arrive until yesterday. Are you saying that the Bugle managed to investigate your tip and gather evidence in the last twelve hours?” Bobby asked her and she sighed, shifting uncomfortably.
“Ororo had already passed her information along to the Bugle before she left New York,” Scott told him. “I didn’t realise that when you and I talked about it. Not until I asked her to hold off.”
Bobby looked at him. “But why didn’t you tell me when you knew?”
“We didn’t want you to worry,” the Professor said. “We hoped that Pyro would get your email in time to leave.”
Bobby stared at them all, shook his head, then turned around and left.
“Bobby!” Scott called after him but he ignored it until Scott actually caught up with him and pulled him to a stop. “I wanted to tell you, I did but…you’re too much like me.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Bobby demanded.
Scott made a frustrated noise. “Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn’t have done something stupid, if you knew Pyro was in danger? That you wouldn’t have stolen my bike, snuck into The Brotherhood campsite and found him yourself?”
Bobby crossed his arms and didn’t answer because they both knew that he probably would’ve done exactly that. Just like Scott would’ve done if he thought Jean was in danger. Just like Scott had done when Phoenix called him to Alkali Lake using Jean’s voice.
“I’ve lost too much lately,” Scott told him. “It was my call and I couldn’t risk telling you, Bobby. I’m sorry that you’re angry with me but I’m not sorry that I did it.”
“You need to stop treating me like a child,” Bobby said. “You can’t want me to train as an X-Man on one hand and then coddle me on the other.”
“Easier said than done, kiddo,” Scott admitted with a sigh and then pulled a piece of paper and a pen out of his pocket – ever the teacher. “Look, here’s the code for the Danger Room. Go; freeze stuff and make yourself feel better. I’m sure Pyro will help you.”
“Always,” John said and Bobby startled because he hadn’t even realised that he had followed them out of the room. “Come on, Iceman. Show me what you’ve learned since I’ve been gone.”
Bobby took the code from Scott with a nod, still pretty pissed at him, and headed to the elevators.
“What do you want to freeze?” John asked once they’d used the code and entered the Danger Room. “Why is there a Disney programme on here? Do the X-Men train to defeat men in giant mouse costumes?”
Bobby joined John at the console, where he was scrolling through all the programmes. He entered the name for the programme which Hank had made for him. It was a series of obstacles to test Bobby’s powers, getting increasingly harder, in order to test his abilities.
“Still non-verbal, I see.” John shrugged off his over-shirt. “I can deal with that.”
Bobby shot him a look and then moved to the centre of the room. Level 1 was a ball, flying at him; Bobby held up his hand and froze it before it reached him. Level 2 was two balls from different directions. The programme was too easy for him, this low down, but it did a good job of warming him up, so to speak. John leaned against the wall and watched him for several levels until Level 11 where Bobby encased a turret in a thick layer of ice; then John sauntered over to Bobby, activated his wrist burners and shot a fireball at the turret, causing it to explode in a shower of ice and water. They grinned at each other and then really threw themselves into the programme.
He lost track of time but Bobby thought that at least a couple of hours had passed with the two of them working together to defeat the various obstacles and problems that the programme threw up. It was definitely further into the programme than he had ever got before. They had reached the killer robot levels; Bobby usually ‘died’ by the time he reached the level where four robots were attacking him. They were just so random and one of them always managed to sneak up on him while he was taking one of the others down. But with John helping him, they were way past four robots. Bobby counted at least twelve and most of them were milling around below him. By this point in the programme, the room had changed into a simulation of a shopping mall and Bobby and John had managed to get split up. John was crouched inside of a roofless sunglasses hut on the ground floor, whereas Bobby was on the first floor, sneaking along the food court wall and looking directly down at John. The other man must’ve made some noise or something because the robots all turned and started began heading towards the hut.
Bobby quickly took stock of the situation. He was too far away to get to John before the robots did. He could yell and create a distraction up on his floor to lead them away from John but then that left him exposed with John too far away to help him. He bit his lip as he considered doing something stupid; something that he’d only tried a couple of times before and very much under Ororo’s supervision, then thought ‘fuck it’. He stood up and sent a stream of ice at the ground beneath his feet, creating a slippery surface that he could stand on. Then he changed the angle of the ice stream so that it started creating a path in front of him and manipulated the ice slightly so that it pulled him along the path; almost like surfing but on ice. He lost his balance almost immediately and had to start again, until he was very slowly and a little unsteadily pulling himself along the ice path he’d created along the floor.
He looked down at the ground floor again and saw that the robots were definitely advancing on John’s hiding place. He took a deep breath; now for the tricky bit. He changed the angle of the ice stream he was creating again, lifting it so the path rose up into the air, still pulling Bobby along it. It was working! Carefully, he manipulated the ice-path up, over the balcony railing and began descending down to the ground floor. He remembered Ororo’s warnings about not making the path too steep or he’d slide right off it, so he made big, looping circles which spiralled lower and lower. At one point, John looked up and stared at Bobby open-mouthed while Bobby grinned at him in glee that this was actually working.
Of course, that was when one of the robots also spotted him and shot at the path, destroying it and causing Bobby to crash to floor with a yell.
“Subject terminated. Simulation frozen,” the Danger Room A.I. announced and the robots froze in place, ready for a discussion of what Bobby had done wrong and how he could improve on it next time.
This time, however, John jumped up from inside the sunglasses hut. “What the fuck was that? That was awesome!”
“Just something new that I’ve been working on,” Bobby said, pushing himself to his feet and trying to sound blasé.
Of course, that was ruined by the jubilant grin on his face. He’d done it. Well, he hadn’t done it, really, he’d died. But he’d made it so much further than he had before.
When John was close enough, he threw himself at Bobby causing him to stumble back against a department store window.
“You flew! With ice!” John crowed. “Do you have any idea how cool that looked?”
“I really did! I flew!” Bobby laughed. “Or surfed. Or skated. Toboganned?”
“I don’t give a shit what it’s called, it amazing!” John told him. “We should celebrate!”
Bobby grinned. “Pizza and ice-cream back at our room?”
John hummed and pushed himself even closer against Bobby, rubbing Bobby’s nose with his own. “I’m not sure that I can wait that long.”
He slowly dropped to his knees and Bobby’s eyes widened.
“John! We can’t, not in here!”
“Like we’d be the first people to fuck in the Danger Room.” John snorted. “A.I., halt all recording.”
“Recording halted,” the A.I. replied.
“Oh god!” Bobby muttered as John wasted no time pulling Bobby’s sweats and boxers down far enough that he could take Bobby into his mouth. “John!”
John hummed around him appreciatively and Bobby’s hips bucked but John had an arm across them pinning him to the window. Bobby’s head thunked back dully against the glass as he lost himself in the sensations, groaning loudly as his world narrowed down to wet, hot, tight, John. Then suddenly it was gone.
“Look at me, Darl’,” John instructed and waited until Bobby did just that before he continued.
He watched as John swallowed him back down again while never taking his eyes off Bobby’s. And then he got to watch as John pushed his own sweats out of the way and took himself in hand.
“Fuck, John!” Bobby cursed, heat spiralling through him at the sight.
It didn’t take too long after that before Bobby was throwing his head back with a bitten off cry. He’d be embarrassed by how quickly John got him off if it didn’t feel so damn good. He heard John grunt and opened eyes that he didn’t remember closing, to see John still taking care of himself. Bobby quickly fell to his own knees and wrapped his hand around John’s.
“Bobby…” John whined.
“I’ve got you,” Bobby told him, leaning his forehead on John’s shoulder and staring transfixed at their hands tangled together. “Come on, John. Jesus, you look so fucking hot, right now; you’ve no idea.”
John’s hips gave one last thrust and he cried out before collapsing against Bobby.
They stayed where they were, cuddled against the store window, only taking the time to straighten their clothes before wrapping themselves around each other again as they enjoyed the afterglow.
“I’m an omega level mutant,” Bobby suddenly blurted out after several minutes and then bit his lip because he hadn’t meant to say that, not right then, but apparently sex made him a bit stupid.
John twisted his head to look at him. “What?”
“It’s what the Professor calls the world’s most powerful mutants; the ones with world-ending capabilities,” Bobby explained with a sigh. “Omega level.”
With a frown, John pushed himself up to face Bobby. “And you saying that you’re one of these powerful mutants?”
Bobby nodded and stared at his hands which he was twisting in his lap. “I freeze water molecules. I have the potential to freeze it all; rivers, lakes, even oceans. I could destroy everything if I wanted to. Scary shit, right?”
“Yeah.” John nodded. “Scary shit.”
“I’ve never told anyone about it. I mean, the teachers all know but I’ve never actually told anyone,” Bobby said. “I didn’t want anyone…I didn’t want you to be scared of me.”
“Bobby Drake.” John took his face in his hands. “I’m never going to be scared of you. Because you’re never going to do anything like that. Why would you want to end the world? Pizza lives here.”
Bobby snorted, he couldn’t help himself. “I do love pizza.”
“You told me last night that I’m not my dad. Well, you are not a world destroying monster,” John told him. “You’re just you and I’m just me. Deal?”
Something in Bobby’s chest lightened at the faith in John’s face. “Deal.”
He pulled him into a kiss to convey his gratitude at John’s reaction, which turned into another heated make out session.
“I’m never going to be able to have a lesson in here again,” Bobby complained.
John laughed. “Good thing, you’re moving out soon.”
“I’ve still got to train in here,” Bobby pointed out. “Although, after today, I’m not so sure that I want to rejoin the X-Men.”
“He was looking out for you; it’s what big brother’s do,” John said. “There was nothing you could have done except to come looking for me and I never wanted to see you in that camp.”
Bobby frowned. “Who are you and what did you do with John? You’re supposed to be the hot-headed one.”
“You know how it goes…” John shrugged. “The power of our eternal love healed me of my anger issues and brought me back to you.”
Bobby snickered, obviously the school rumours had reached John. “Who told you?”
“Mystique, obviously. It was the funniest thing she’d heard in years, until I told her the story about you and the hooker.
Bobby gave him a half-hearted glare. “That’s finally died a death; don’t go dragging it back up now.”
“But it’s just so funny!” John protested and Bobby could suddenly envision years of having to put up with the hooker story.
Then his pulse quickened a little because he could envision years with John.
“Can I ask you a question?” Bobby inquired and John hummed in the affirmative. “What’s Darl’ mean? You’ve called me it a few times.”
There was a moment of hesitation before John answered. “It’s what my mum used to call me; I can’t remember much about her but I remember that. It’s an Australian thing; short for Darling.”
Bobby hadn’t known that John remembered anything of his mum. The only things that he’d ever told Bobby about her was that she’d been Australian and that she’d died in a car accident when he was a toddler. John was actually Australian too, not that you could tell from his accent; his dad had moved the two of them to the States not long after the accident.
“Thank you,” Bobby said, touched that John would use his mum’s endearment, and brushed a kiss across his head.
“Hmm…” John hummed and then very obviously changed the subject, so sharing time was clearly over. “Did you mention pizza and ice-cream earlier?”
They shut down the Danger Room and snuck back to their room, only running into Piotr who smiled approvingly at them both and smacked John on the shoulder to welcome him home, before continuing on his way.
“Wow, he’s become so chatty since I’ve been gone,” John commented, rubbing at his shoulder with a wince.
“I know, you really can’t shut him up these days,” Bobby agreed with a smirk.
“He still got no idea that Kitty wants to climb him like a tree?” John asked.
Bobby shook his head as he opened their door. “Nope and she’s not exactly subtle either.”
“She never was,” John said, dropping down onto his bed with a bounce. “Man, I really forgot how comfortable the beds are here. Do you think they’ll let us take a couple with us?”
“You want a couple of single beds?” Bobby gave him a cynical look.
“A couple of these single beds,” John corrected. “It’ll be great. We could strap them…together…”
He trailed off and raised an eyebrow at Bobby who grinned. They immediately set about trying various methods of joining their two beds to create one big bed right then; although Bobby had to veto the idea of John using his burners to weld the frames together. Finally, they had one bed, held together by ropes and leather belts and pushed up under the window. Perfect.
Bobby grinned at their handy work. “You pick the movie and I’ll order the pizza,”
The credits were rolling on their second movie of the night and Bobby was busy rolling his eyes at John’s ridiculous Connor Macleod impression – ‘There can be only one!’ – when there was a knock at the door.
Bobby answered it and any residual anger he felt at Scott evaporated when he saw the man standing in the hall, looking very anxious.
“Ororo and Kurt should’ve been back from their patrol of Westchester half hour ago but we haven’t heard anything,” Scott told him without preamble. “Me and Remy are going to head in to look for them. I need you two to help Hank keep an eye on things here.”
“Us?” John came to join Bobby at the door. “Where’s Logan?”
“He took Rogue away for a couple of nights,” Scott said with a wince. “He figured he could talk more sense into her if they were away from you two. You apparently set her off.”
“Great,” John muttered. “I’m suddenly getting flashbacks of invading soldiers in a teacher-less school.”
Scott nodded. “I know, and I’m sorry, but there’s not much we can do about it right now. We don’t want to cause panic among the kids by telling them about Phoenix until we have to; they’re still getting over Stryker. But you two already know.”
“You’re going to have to tell them soon,” Bobby pointed out. “If they see her, they’ll think it’s Jean.”
“Yeah.” Scott sighed wearily as if he’d said this himself many times. “But that’s a discussion for another time. Will you be alright?”
Bobby and John looked at each other and nodded.
“Thank you,” Scott told them earnestly. “Charles is already in Cerebro, looking for them. Hank and Mystique are downstairs waiting for you. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Just make sure that they’re okay,” Bobby said and Scott nodded before he rushed off.
“I think we’re cursed,” John decided as he watched Scott go.
“We’re not cursed.” Bobby dropped to the floor to pull his shoes out from beneath the bed.
“Our first date, we got attacked by an energy vampire,” John said, as he pulled on one of Bobby’s hoodies. “Last night, there was a naked homophobe in your bed, and tonight, which was a great date night, by the way, we’ve actually been deputised as teachers because of the aforementioned energy vampire.”
“You are such an English nerd. No one actually says ‘aforementioned’.” Bobby rolled his eyes. “And I’m not sure that last night counts because you weren’t planning on staying with me anyway.”
John pulled the door shut behind them as they left the room. “Actually, I was already on my way here when you gave your girly scream. Mystique had smacked me upside the head and told me not to be an idiot.”
“She’s a wise woman,” Bobby commented.
“I’m glad you think so,” Mystique suddenly said from right beside him.
Bobby jumped about a foot in the air but didn’t scream. Much.
“So much fun,” Mystique said as she bumped her fist against John’s.
“I hate you both,” Bobby muttered and stomped down the stairs to find Hank.
“I’ve given the ten minute warning for lights out,” Hank told him. “Then we just need to round up the stragglers. We can sort out patrols once they’re all in bed.”
Bobby nodded. “She’ll be fine, right?”
“Ororo can certainly hold her own if they have stumbled across something,” Hank replied.
“Okay,” Bobby said but he worried nonetheless, remembering the way Phoenix had just blasted through his ice so easily.
“A word to the wise, Bobby,” Hank murmured quietly for only him to hear. “When you tell the Danger Room A.I. to stop recording; it only stops the video recording, not audio. You need to be more specific.”
“Oh my god!” Bobby could feel his face getting hot.
“Any recordings during your training programme are automatically sent to me for monitoring so I’m the only one who heard it and it has very much been deleted,” Hank continued. “Please, do not have sex in the Danger Room again. Although, Pyro was right; you were far from the first. Oh! And well done on your ice slide thing, it was very impressive; I’d like to be present to monitor your vitals while you do that, one day.”
Bobby dropped his head into his hands and groaned in utter embarrassment. But he supposed as distraction tactics worked, it was a good one.
After all the school were in their rooms, Hank and Mystique patrolled the school perimeter outside while Bobby and John made the rounds inside the mansion. Bobby relayed the mortifying conversation with Hank as they walked and John just laughed, without an ounce of shame.
“I wonder who was the first?” John mused. “My money’s on Remy being involved somehow.”
“Probably,” Bobby agreed.
Hank and Mystique were already back inside and Bobby and John were on their third circuit of the ground floor when Scott and Remy finally returned, supporting an injured Ororo between them.
“’Ro! Is she okay?” Bobby asked, running down the stairs as Hank sprinted down the hall.
“M’alright, Bobby,” Ororo slurred.
There was a nasty looking gash on her head, turning the front of her white hair red, and her left arm hung at an unnatural angle.
“Come on, lets get you to the lab,” Hank said, leading the way to the elevators.
“Where’s Nightcrawler?” Mystique asked.
“There was no sign of him, Chere,” Remy told her. “We only find Ororo and floatin’ t’ings.”
“Floating things?” John looked at Bobby after the elevator doors had shut, taking the others downstairs.
“When Phoenix attacked Scott, Logan said that everything started to float; rocks, earth…everything,” Bobby said.
“So she was definitely there,” Mystique nodded. “Where has she taken Night…”
She broke off and looked towards the elevators, a split second before Bobby heard the Professor cry out in his head. Mystique was already running towards the emergency exit stairwell for downstairs by the time John and Bobby got moving. They burst out of the stairwell into utter chaos. Phoenix stood in front of the room which housed Cerebro and the Professor lay, unmoving, on the floor behind her. Scott was shooting plasma bursts at her while Remy threw his enhanced playing cards but she seemed to be absorbing the plasma bursts and the cards just ricocheted off some kind of invisible barrier before they could reach her.
“How the hell did she get in here?” John asked as he lit up his wrist burners. “Get down!”
Scott and Remy were well-trained enough to immediately drop and John sent a stream of fire at Phoenix. Again, it hit that invisible barrier but John didn’t let up, manipulating it until it completely surrounded her. After a few minutes the fire heated up the air within the ring of fire that John had created and caused Phoenix to cry out.
“Keep going!” Scott shouted to John. “If it gets hot enough in there, she should pass out.”
“That’s the plan,” John said and, now that he knew what to look for, Bobby could see the slight tremors over John’s body and the way that using his power caused his eyes to dilate; it really was a euphoric experience for him.
Hank would have a field day if he learned that.
Phoenix shrieked again and the fire circle was noticeably smaller than before, it looked as though her shield was shrinking.
“Just a bit more, Pyro!” Scott encouraged.
But then Phoenix gave an ear-splitting scream and a wave of energy burst from her sending John flying down the hall to crash into the wall. Between one blink and the next, Phoenix was gone.
“Charles!” Mystique ran to the prone figure on the floor while Bobby ran to John.
“Ow!” John groaned and tried to push himself up.
“Easy,” Bobby told him and helped him to sit against the wall. “Where does it hurt?”
“Everywhere,” John said. “The bitch threw me into a fucking wall.”
“Did she just teleport out of here?” Scott asked. “Did she get that from Kurt? Can she steal gifts that way?”
“Where is Kurt?” Bobby wanted to know.
“He’s gone.” Ororo’s eyes were full of unshed tears and she was leaning in the doorway of the lab where Hank had clearly ushered her when they discovered Phoenix in the hall. “She killed him; I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like he just disintegrated before my eyes. I called down lightening but it was already too late. Then she threw me through a store window and left. Is Charles okay?”
Hank was with Mystique, crouched over the Professor. “He’s unconscious but alive; he’s lucky that we interrupted her. I need to get him into the lab.”
“Where she go?” Remy asked. “D’you think she jus’ leave?”
Everyone froze at Remy’s question.
“The children!” Ororo gasped.
She tried to step forward but stumbled and had to grasp onto the doorframe to keep her balance.
“You stay here, Stormy. Remy and Cyclops’ll check ‘em,” Remy told her and Scott nodded.
Bobby looked at John who nodded too.
“Go,” he said. “But you’d better come back.”
“I will,” Bobby said and kissed John quickly before he stood and joined the other two men.
They took the stairs two at a time, sprinting up to the students rooms. Everything was very quiet, as it should be, but the hairs still rose on the back of Bobby’s neck. Cyclops obviously felt it too because he held a finger to his lips as he indicated that they should check the left side first. There was no splitting up to cover more ground, not when they were dealing with someone who could take any of them down in seconds.
The doors were all closed with no light spilling out from beneath them; it was the early hours of the morning, after all. Every so often, Scott would try a handle and, if it wasn’t locked, open the door silently to check on the sleeping children within. They had reached the end of the corridor and were working their way up the opposite side when a scream tore through the silence. The three of them sprinted towards the sound and found Phoenix in The Cuckoo sister’s room.
At their arrival, she roughly yanked one of the triplets out of her bed and held her by the throat before her like a shield.
“Cyclops…” she hissed, her eyes gleaming as she stared at Scott. “You’ve been ignoring me. Why wouldn’t you help me? I was so hungry!”
“Why don’t you let me help you now?” Scott said, in a soothing voice. “We can go somewhere and talk; just you and me.”
While Scott talked, Bobby and Remy carefully moved into the room and pulled the remaining two Cuckoos into their arms, carrying them out into the hall. A few of the other students had gathered, to see what the screaming was about; including Alison. She blinked in surprise when Bobby put his Cuckoo sister into her arms.
“Go back to your room, lock the door and keep them safe,” he instructed when Remy also gave her the Cuckoo that he was carrying. “If anyone other than me tries to get in, blind them!”
“No! Phoebe!” One of the girls cried and Bobby grabbed her hand.
“We’ll get Phoebe, okay? Just go with Alison for now; she’ll protect you,” he told her with a glance up at Alison who nodded shakily.
The other sister grabbed hold of Bobby’s arm. “It’s not Dr. Grey. It’s so dark and empty; all it wants is to eat. Don’t let it eat Phoebe, please!”
“Ain’t no one eating Phoebe; okay l’il Chere?” Remy told her. “Remy won’ let ‘em.”
Alison took off with both sisters and Bobby turned to go back to the room, he spotted Kitty and Piotr and gestured them over. “Stay close, we might need you.”
They both nodded and moved to stand outside the door to the Cuckoo’s room. Bobby could see Kitty’s eyes grow huge at the sight inside.
“…just let Phoebe go,” Scott was saying, still in that cajoling tone.
Phoenix hissed. “You’re lying! You want to hurt me!”
Then, as Bobby watched, the black bled from her eyes and the twisted expression faded from her face and she stumbled a little.
“Scott?” she asked, sounding so much like the Jean he knew that Bobby’s heart clenched a little. “What’s happening, Scott? I can’t…”
She looked down at Phoebe with a horrified expression and quickly let go of her, taking a step back. Phoebe immediately ran to Bobby who dropped to one knee to scoop her up.
“She’s not Dr Grey, she’s only pretending so she can get Mr Summers close enough,” Phoebe whispered.
Bobby glanced at Scott who gave a near imperceptible nod to show that he’d heard that. Bobby quickly handed Phoebe off to Siryn, giving her similar instructions as he had Alison, and then rejoined Scott and Remy.
“I don’t understand what’s happening?” Phoenix said, tears falling down her face as she pretended to be Jean. “Scott? What’s going on? How did I get here?”
“I’m assuming that you teleported here after you killed Kurt,” Scott said in a cold voice. “You are not Jean Grey. You couldn’t hold a candle to her.”
He quickly shot a plasma burst at her. She absorbed it but it threw her off balance a little. Bobby took advantage of that by freezing the ground beneath her feet and causing her to slip enough that she had to grab the foot board of the bed and, while her attention was elsewhere, Remy threw four cards in quick succession. They hit her shield, just as they had downstairs, but the explosions blinded her for a moment; enough for Kitty to phase a fully armoured Piotr into the room and for him to hit Phoenix with an upper cut.
Bobby didn’t know if it was because her shield was still in place, although clearly only partially, or if it was due to whatever power she had, but the punch didn’t take her head off the way it would most people. It did, however, throw her into the wall.
“Don’t let her get close to you,” Bobby called out to warn Kitty and Piotr.
He didn’t know if whatever it was that Phoenix did would affect Piotr while he was in his metallic form but he didn’t want to risk it. Kitty nodded at his warning and pulled Piotr away to phase them back through the wall and into the hallway.
Phoenix pushed herself back to her feet, clearly off balance. “You won’t win. I’m more powerful than any mutant and when I’m at full strength you all be ash at my feet.”
Then she blinked away.
“Do you think she’s actually gone this time?” Bobby asked and Scott nodded.
“I think so. Colossus hurt her so she’ll need time to regroup,” he said. “And we need time to figure out how to stop her from getting back into the school.”
Bobby managed to successfully collect the Cuckoo sisters, without being either blinded by Alison or deafened by Siryn. Then he stood by and watched with amusement as they all thanked and hugged Remy, as if he was the one who had saved them single-handedly, all while Remy looked completely unsure of how to deal with people far too young for him to flirt with.
Once he knew that everyone was okay, he headed back down to the labs where John was grumbling from one of the beds.
“Tell Beast that I’m fine,” he demanded as soon as Bobby walked in.
“Is he fine?” Bobby asked Hank.
“He has a possible concussion and a bad attitude,” Hank replied in a dry tone.
“What about everyone else?” Scott asked as he entered the room, flanked by Kitty and Piotr who had clearly been added to the team after their help with Phoenix.
“Ororo has a definite concussion, a dislocated shoulder and also has a bad attitude,” Hank said, ignoring Ororo’s protest that she was fine. “Charles, however…she managed to leech a large amount of energy from him. He’s currently in a coma, which should help him heal mentally but I’ve no idea when he’ll wake up. It could be days, it could be years.”
“Years?” Scott asked, aghast.
“But he will wake up,” Mystique said in a voice which broke no argument as she sat by the Professor’s bedside.
“With anyone else, I’d say there was a possibility that he wouldn’t but this is Charles Xavier. So, yes, I’m pretty confident that he’ll pull through this. Eventually,” Hank agreed.
Bobby sat on the stool besides John’s bed with a thump. What the hell were they going to do without the Professor? Possibly for years. Would they have to close the school?
“Will you close the school now?”
For a second, he thought that he’d said that out loud but realised it was Kitty.
“Without Charles, I’m afraid we might have to,” Hank said, sadly but Scott shook his head.
“No, we’re not closing the school and we’re not disbanding the X-Men, before anyone asks about that too,” he said, firmly. “Charles is going to wake up and until then, we keep going. Everyone understand?”
“Good.” Scott crossed his arms across his chest. “And the first thing we have to do is stop Phoenix. Anyone have any ideas? Hank?”
“The main problem is that we don’t know what she is and what she can do,” Hank explained. “We know that she can utilise telekinesis and that she feeds off energy. But can she also steal the powers of those she’s fed off? Did she steal Kurt’s teleportation or was she just unable to use it until she gained enough energy by feeding off Kurt?”
“How do you know that she couldn’t use it before?” Kitty asked, obviously still trying to get up to speed on things.
“She went after me and Bobby in town a couple of weeks ago,” John told her. “If she could teleport then there’s no way that we would have got away from her.”
“Charles was working on a theory,” Ororo began. “After we realised that Phoenix really isn’t Jean he went back to his initial assessment of her as a child. He thought that she had a split personality – Phoenix – but he thinks now that she was actually possessed by whatever Phoenix is. When Charles locked away what he thought was the additional personality in Jean’s brain, he actually imprisoned Phoenix. And when Jean died, it was released.”
“I really hope you guys have this stuff written down somewhere because this is a lot to take in at once,” Kitty complained and Piotr nodded his agreement.
“I’ll put it all on a flash drive for you,” Hank promised.
“Lets get back on topic,” Mystique said. “How do we kill the bitch?”
“Plasma bursts don’t work,” Scott said. “Remy’s kinetic blasts don’t get close enough to do anything.”
“She absorbed my lightening the same way she absorbed Scott’s plasma bursts,” Ororo put in.
“The thing which affected her the most was Pyro’s fire,” Scott mused. “She really didn’t like heat.”
“That was fucking amazing, by the way,” Bobby whispered to John.
The control that John had over that fire had taken Bobby’s breath away. He definitely hadn’t had that amount of discipline over his gift before he joined the Brotherhood.
John sent him a quick grin before they both turned back to the conversation.
“I wonder if the speed of projectiles affects Phoenix’s shield,” Hank wondered. “Remy’s blasts are fast moving and so just bounce off the shield. Piotr’s punch was slower and thus was able to hit her.”
“If that’s the case, then imagine what some slow moving adamantium claws could do.” Scott nodded as he picked up on where Hank was headed. “We need to call Logan home.”
“If things go the same as they did after her last two attacks, Phoenix will lay low for a while to recover; especially because Piotr actually managed to hurt her,” Hank told them all. “So we should take this time to regain our reserves before facing her again and Logan will hopefully be back by then too.”
“Unfortunately, she recovered by feeding on and killing Kurt,” Ororo pointed out with pain etched on her face from the memory. “We can’t afford to let her do that again. We need to lock down the school; no one leaves until she’s dealt with.”
“We need to warn the Brotherhood,” Mystique said, exchanging a look with John. “They’re sitting ducks in that camp.”
“Didn’t you warn Magneto after your attack in Westchester?” Scott asked John.
“He didn’t think that there was much of a threat,” John replied. “I think he was more excited about the prospect of getting Phoenix into The Brotherhood. I was trying to warn the others too but they all follow Magneto’s lead.”
“If Phoenix manages to feed on mutants from the Brotherhood camp then she’s just going to get stronger,” Bobby said. “And then we really won’t be able to stop her.”
Scott looked thoughtful for a long moment. “There’s nothing we can do right now. We rest and recuperate and as soon as Logan gets back, a group of us will go and speak to Magneto. As for tonight…Bobby, Kitty and Piotr; are you up for some patrol shifts with Remy and I?”
“I can patrol too,” John protested after they’d all agreed.
“No, you can’t. You will stay here under my supervision until I can determine if you do, in fact, have a concussion.” Hank glared at him. “It’s not as though you’ll be wanting for company. You and Mystique can thumb wrestle to your heart’s content.”
Kitty and Piotr both did a double-take as they suddenly realised that the strange woman hovering over the Professor was the infamous Mystique and Bobby chuckled before quickly turning it into a cough at Scott’s disapproval.
“Yeah, this is going to be fun,” John muttered lowly as he looked between Ororo and Mystique; no-one could ignore the tension between them.
“You’ll be fine,” Bobby told him. “I’ll bring you a book on my next sweep down here.”
Bobby actually took him three because when Kitty and Piotr saw what Bobby had picked they immediately made him take something from their collections. Apparently, Treasure Island wasn’t good enough, despite it being Bobby’s favourite book, because ‘Pyro is not 12 anymore’ and ‘pirates are over; Johnny Depp killed them’. But Bobby got a kiss as a thank you, which made up for all the bitching.
Logan arrived back at the school late the following evening. Rogue came with him but she swept up to her room, completely ignoring everyone and everything. Half hour later, Alison pointedly moved her things out of their room and into Jubilee’s, which was a shock to everyone because Jubilee and Alison notoriously didn’t get along. According to Piotr, who always knew everything, Alison’s reaction to Rogue’s bigotry had earned Jubilee’s respect and they’d then discovered a mutual love of old school hip-hop.
“Fuck right off!” John pointed at Piotr. “There is no way that Alison Blaire loves hip-hop; she listens to crap like Bieber.”
“She find the beat of hip-hop helps her focus her power.” Piotr shrugged. “This is what I heard.”
John and Ororo had been released from Hank’s clutches earlier in the day; John with a full bill of health and Ororo with orders to take it easy until her shoulder healed. Scott had then held a school meeting for all students and staff. He explained about Phoenix, Kurt and the Professor, and he told them all that he and Ororo would be taking over as joint headmasters until the Professor recovered. No-one was allowed to leave school grounds until further notice and all lessons for the next couple of days were cancelled as a mark of respect for Kurt, with Ororo planning a memorial as soon as she could. There was a definite blanket of sadness over the school in the wake of the meeting and groups were hanging out in small clusters but always in view of other groups.
John, Bobby, Kitty and Piotr had stuck together for most of the day and were currently in a corner of the dining room watching Logan and Scott talking on the other side of the room.
“It’s still so weird to see them getting along,” Kitty commented. “Look at them, there’s not a snide remark in sight.”
Scott suddenly looked over at them and they all jumped and pretended that they hadn’t been staring at him. When Bobby chanced a glance back, Scott was just shaking his head at them and then he beckoned them over.
“If you’re all so interested then you might as well join us,” he said when they approached and then waited until they all settled in around the table. “We’re going to head out to the Brotherhood camp in the morning. It’ll be myself, Logan, Pyro and also Bobby, seeing as there’s no way Bobby’s letting Pyro go back there without him.”
Bobby nodded at that assessment and Logan snorted.
“Ororo will be holding down the fort here with Remy, Kitty and Piotr,” Scott continued. “I don’t know what Mystique is going to do. I’ll leave that up to her to decide.”
“She’s definitely going to come with us,” John told him, confidently.
“She’s going to try and kill Magneto.” Logan looked at Scott. “You know that.”
“Not until she knows the other mutants are safe. Or at least, have all the information they need to be safe,” John said. “But after that, all bets are off.”
“At least it’ll be interesting,” Bobby snarked.
“Because that’s what we need more of around here.” Kitty shook her head and everyone chuckled, although it was subdued.
The group were still sitting around the table, rotating between discussing tactics for the next day at the camp and exchanging stories about Kurt, when Remy came running in.
“A call jus’ came through,” he said. “The Brotherhood camp is under attack.”
“Shit!” Scott swore. “I thought that we’d have more time before Phoenix recovered. Alright, everyone suit up; the old plan’s out of the window and it’s all hands on deck.”
Ten minutes later, they all met up in the hangar. Bobby, Kitty and Piotr were wearing their X-Men uniforms for the first time outside of the Danger Room and kept fidgeting with them. Scott and Logan were in their normal uniforms and John was wearing his patented scruffy leather jacket, looking so much like the bad boy he pretended to be that, under different circumstances, Bobby wasn’t sure that he’d been able to restrain himself. Judging from the look in John’s eye as he gave Bobby a once over, he felt the same way.
Mystique and Hank arrived to join them too while Ororo, her arm still in a sling, and Remy were staying behind.
“Be careful and come back home safe,” Ororo told them, trying and failing to hide her nervousness at them going on their first mission without her.
Thirty seconds later, they were in the air.
“Alright, listen up,” Scott called back over his shoulder from the pilot seat. “Engage Phoenix but do not get close enough for her to feed on you unless she is otherwise distracted. We work as a team, just as we did last night.”
“I’m not part of your team,” Mystique said. “If I get the chance to take her out, I will.”
“Be smart, Mystique,” Hank told her. “Charles wouldn’t want you getting hurt.”
She just raised an eyebrow at him in reply and he shook his head.
The rest of the flight was quiet. Bobby, Kitty and Piotr were nervous about their first mission. Mystique and Hank were having some kind of silent argument and Logan was muttering under his breath and clutching onto the seat rest with a white knuckled grip. Finally, Scott announced that they were coming over the campsite and everyone looked out of the window.
Bobby frowned. “What the hell is going on down there?”
“That’s not Phoenix,” John said. “Those are soldiers. A lot of soldiers.”
He wasn’t wrong, there had to be at least fifty soldiers surrounding the camp and a load more already engaged with the Brotherhood.
Hank cursed. “They’re here for Magneto and they’re clearly not taking chances this time.”
Mystique gave a growl and was out of her seat, pacing the aisle, waiting for the Blackbird to land.
Kitty had gone pale. “Are you saying that all those soldiers are shooting cure darts?”
“I’m sure some of them have bullets too,” Logan snarled.
The plane landed with a bump and Scott turned around, “I know that this isn’t what you signed up for. If you’re not comfortable going out there, then you can stay on the plane; no recriminations.”
Piotr turned metal. “I fight.”
“Me too,” Kitty said, as she moved out of phase.
“Well, that’s not fucking fair!” John looked at Bobby. “Why couldn’t we get bulletproof mutations?”
“Unlucky I guess,” Bobby shrugged. “We could just stay here and make out.”
John chuckled. “As tempting as that is; I do love a good fight.”
“Thought so,” Bobby said before turning back to Scott. “We’re in.”
“Okay, then.” Scott hit a button and the door began to lower. “New plan. We protect the mutants but don’t kill the soldiers. Most importantly, watch your own and your teammates’ back; I don’t want any of you getting hit.”
Mystique was out of the plane before the door was completely lowered; she definitely had some payback to dish out.
It was absolute mayhem in the camp. People were running in all different directions and the air was full of screams. Soldiers were shooting and mutants were spitting acid or firing bits of bone and generally doing whatever they could to protect themselves.
“Jesus!” Bobby breathed as he looked around.
“Yeah,” John agreed.
In the distance, Bobby could see Mystique kicking soldier ass and definitely proving that that ninja shit was all her and not her mutation. He jumped as someone cried out close by and he turned to see a girl on the floor, having clearly tripped over a tree root, while a soldier advanced on her. Bobby immediately sent a stream of ice which froze around the end of the gun, blocking it.
“What the fuck?” The soldier muttered as he pulled the trigger and nothing happened. “Fucking mutant freak!”
He threw the gun to the floor and ran at Bobby as if to tackle him. Kitty grabbed Bobby’s arm and the soldier ran right through him and into the side of the plane, knocking himself out.
“Okay; good job.” Scott looked down at him. “But you should probably bear in mind that they’re not all going to be idiots. Lets go!”
They moved out into the crowd, using their powers to stop the soldiers from shooting the mutants but also stopping the mutants from killing the soldiers. Unsurprisingly, Kitty and Piotr paired up and so did Bobby and John but each pair tried to keep the other in sight to help out where they could. At one point, when Kitty was solid, in order to punch a soldier and knock him out, John laid down a line of fire behind her to protect her back from any other approaching enemies. Another, Piotr noticed a soldier had put John in his sights and picked him up, shook him until he dropped the gun, and then threw him up in a tree. In fact, you could tell where Piotr had been from the large number of dazed looking soldiers stuck up in trees.
At first the Brotherhood had spotted the X-Men uniforms and began attacking them too, thinking that they were in cahoots with the soldiers but they quickly came to see that the X-Men were on their side and the two mutants groups began working together to turn back the soldiers. Not once did Bobby ever imagine a situation where he and Juggernaut would be working together but at one point during the fight, Bobby was freezing soldiers’ feet to the ground and then Juggernaut was joyfully knocking them all down like bowling pins.
It felt like the tide was turning and the soldiers were beginning to pull back when Bobby heard John say, “Oh, fuck, no! Not now!”
He turned to look at where John was staring and his stomach sank at the sight of Phoenix standing on an embankment and looking down at them all as though they were lunch.
“Cyclops!” Bobby yelled and pointed at Phoenix when he got his attention.
Unfortunately, he also got Magneto’s attention and he looked positively gleeful to see Phoenix.
“You see what they do?” He shouted up at her. “You see how the humans try to destroy mutantkind! They wish to cure us but we are more powerful than they are. You are more powerful!”
“No! Magneto!” Scott shouted. “She’s not one of us!”
“Not one of you, maybe,” Magneto scoffed. “Show them, Phoenix! Show them what happens to those who try to oppose us!”
“Oh shit!” Kitty said as the wind began to swirl around Phoenix, whipping leaves and twigs up into the air.
At the bottom of the embankment, most of the fighting had stopped and mutant and soldier alike looked up at Phoenix.
“Yes, my dear!” shouted Magneto. “Destroy those who wish to destroy us!”
“We’ve got to get them away from her!” John yelled to Bobby and the others before he ran towards the embankment.
Bobby took off after him, using his ice to knock people out of John’s way, and could hear Kitty and Piotr behind him.
“Get back!” John shouted to people as he ran. “Don’t get caught in the windstorm.”
Bobby and the others started yelling as well and people did start backing away from Phoenix, but not nearly enough. They were almost close enough to start physically dragging people back when a movement to his right caught Bobby’s attention. He turned his head just in time to see a soldier aim a gun at John and pull the trigger. He was at a wrong angle to try and freeze the darts and, even if he could, he couldn’t be sure that he’d get them all, so he put on an extra burst of speed and just tackled John to the ground instead.
They landed hard and John cried out in pain.
“Sorry, sorry! Are you okay?” Bobby asked scrambling off him. “There was a guy…”
“Oh my god! Bobby…” Kitty said from behind him and he turned his head to see her looking at him in terror.
She dropped to her knees behind him and put her hand on the back of his shoulder. When he looked at where her hand was, there was a dart sticking out of him.
“No!” he breathed but he could already feel it starting to work.
He could feel his ice draining away and his body temperature beginning to rise.
John clearly hadn’t noticed that anything was wrong yet because he started to yell. “What the fuck was that, Drake? Are you trying to kill me? We’re on the same team, remember?”
“Pyro…” Piotr said sadly.
Bobby looked at him, terrified to the very core of his being as he felt his power slip away, and it must’ve been written all over his face because John suddenly looked really worried.
“Bobby? What’s wrong?”
Bobby opened his mouth to answer him but his body suddenly seized and he fell forward onto the earth.
“Bobby! Bobby, no, no, no, no!” John gathered him into his arms. “Hang on, okay. I’ve got you. You’re gonna be okay.”
Bobby tried to shake his head because that wasn’t true. It wasn’t going to be okay because his power was gone. But he couldn’t move and he couldn’t speak; he just had to lie there while the convulsions wracked through him. He felt as though he was burning up; everything felt too hot, even John’s touch – especially John’s touch – but he needed that hand stroking through his hair and those lips pressed against his head, telling him that John would keep him safe.
In the distance he could see the windstorm growing and he could hear screams. Above the screams he could hear Scott and Logan and Magneto yelling but he tuned them out and just paid attention to the words of love coming from John until he finally passed out.
When he woke up, the first thing that Bobby saw was the familiar ceiling of the school infirmary. The second thing he saw was John, reading Treasure Island.
“I knew you’d like that book,” he croaked and John jumped up.
“He’s awake!” He shouted to someone and then leaned over Bobby, putting a hand against his face. “Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty.”
Bobby smiled. “Makes a change from Ice Princess.”
He winced a little as the talking hurt his throat and wished that he had some water. Then he startled when it appeared to start raining on him.
“Wow! Okay.” John blinked in surprise too. “You might want to stop that before we get soaked.”
“I’m not doing that,” Bobby protested.
“Actually, you are.” Hank appeared beside the bed. “Think back to when you first got your ice. Do you remember how you were able to stop freezing things?”
Bobby nodded slowly.
“It’s the exact same principle. Stop the rain just like you stopped the ice,” Hank said.
Bobby frowned because he had no idea what was going on but he was getting very wet so he gave it a go. He closed his eyes, just as the Professor had taught him all those years ago and found his centre. Then he mentally pulled back.
“That’s it,” Hank told him. “Just like that.”
He opened his eyes again and the rain had stopped but he, John and Hank were soaked through. “I don’t understand.”
“I know.” Hank prodded him to, first, sit up and then to carefully get out of the bed. “What do you remember?”
John slung an arm around Bobby’s waist and helped him walk to a different, dry, bed. Bobby didn’t really need the help and John probably knew it, but the contact was nice. He always loved the contrast of John’s, too warm, body against his own, too cool, one. Bobby stopped suddenly. His body was cool and, when he reached for it, he could feel his ice.
“I got hit with the cure,” he said, looking to John for confirmation.
“You did,” John agreed. “And you scared the shit out me, Drake. Now, just get in the goddamn bed!”
“Wait!” Hank reappeared with some dry clothes. “Change first and then get in the goddamn bed!”
“I don’t understand what’s going on!” Bobby complained but the effect of it was muffled as he pulled on the dry t-shirt.
“That’s because you passed out before all the exciting stuff happened,” John told him, leaning against the edge of the bed and not even pretending that he wasn’t ogling Bobby as he got changed.
“Okay, so what happened?” Bobby climbed into the new bed and John climbed onto it too with a grin.
“Don’t even try it, McCoy,” he said when Hank rejoined them. “I’m staying right here.”
Hank frowned. “If you get in the way of any of my tests, you’re out of the infirmary, not just the bed.”
“Fair enough,” John replied and then settled in beside Bobby, wiggling a bit until they were both leaning comfortably against the headboard. “So, anyway, you passed out and then Phoenix went completely out of control.”
“Several people got caught in her windstorm, mutant and soldier alike, and perished,” Hank elaborated. “She absorbed all of their energy, gaining even more power. That was when Magneto realised just what he was dealing with.”
“And lost his shit,” John added.
“Then he, Scott and Logan came up with a plan,” Hank continued.
“Wait! What? Scott, Logan and Magneto? Working together?” Bobby stared at him.
“It was quite ingenious in its simplicity really,” Hank told him. “Scott kept her distracted by firing his plasma bursts at her while Logan snuck up on her from behind. Of course, the reality was a little more complicated. The storm destroyed anything inside it, except for Logan; thanks to his regenerative power, he was able to withstand it. But even then, the power of the storm was too great for him to have reached her without the wind sweeping him away, so Magneto manipulated his adamantium skeleton and pulled him through the storm from afar.”
“He made Logan into a puppet,” John said. “And it worked.”
“So you were right about the shield?” Bobby asked Hank. “Logan could get passed it?”
Hank pursed his lips thoughtfully. “I’m not exactly sure about that. It could’ve been that Phoenix simply couldn’t maintain the storm and a shield at the same time. I guess that we’ll never know.”
“She gone then?” Bobby looked at them both.
“She was skewered on the Wolverine’s claws and then exploded.” John made an explosion gesture with his hands.
Bobby’s eyes grew wide. “She exploded?”
“Not like you’re thinking,” John told him. “It wasn’t like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was more like a far less destructive atomic bomb. A blinding flash of light followed by a huge energy wave which knocked everyone over. Kitty swears that the light was in the shape of a giant bird but don’t believe her, she’s making that shit up.”
“It’s the energy wave that’s important here,” Hank interjected, excitedly. “Whatever Phoenix was, whatever was in that energy wave; it activated the mutant gene.”
Bobby frowned as he thought that through. “It cured the cure?”
“Exactly!” Hank pointed at him, excitedly. “And it not only reactivated the mutant gene in mutants who had been hit with the cure; it amplified everyone’s gene.”
“What?” Bobby asked, confused.
“It enhanced the power that we already had,” John told him. “Watch.”
John held out his hand and a small flame appeared in his palm.
“You’re not wearing your burners,” Bobby said, staring that the fire.
“Because I don’t need them anymore.” John grinned. “I can create fire as well as manipulate it.”
“Oh my god!” Bobby looked at Hank.
“Nothing quite so dramatic for me, I’m afraid.” Hank smiled. “My strength and my speed have both increased quite a bit. And as for you, it appears that you can now actually manipulate the water molecules in the air, as well as freezing them; judging from that earlier display.”
“Pretty handy actually,” John told him. “If I have a bad day and accidentally set something on fire, I’ve got my own personal sprinkler system.”
Bobby snorted even as he tried to absorb that new information without freaking out a little. “How’s everyone else? Are they all okay?”
“Well, Kitty’s pretty miffed because she can’t figure out what her enhanced powers are,” John said. “Mystique’s back to slinking around the place and freaking Logan out by shifting to look like various students.”
“The Professor?” Bobby looked over at the sleeping man,
“Still in a coma,” Hank replied. “I think that he will be for a while yet.”
Bobby nodded, he’d expected that answer but it didn’t hurt to ask.
“Alright, now that you’re all up to speed, lets get on with the tests,” Hank said. “I’m going to keep you here for the rest of the day but if the results are okay then I’ll release you to sleep in your own room tonight.”
Bobby nodded and didn’t complain as Hank drew blood and then ran the whole battery of tests on him. When he disappeared to peer into microscopes and mix things in beakers, Bobby and John climbed under the cotton sheets and laid down.
“I missed quite a lot,” Bobby commented.
“You did,” John agreed. “Oh! Here’s something else. Rogue left.”
“She left?” Bobby frowned. “Where did she go?”
“I heard someone say L.A.,” John told him. “Apparently she wants to be an actress now that’s she cured.”
Bobby gave him an incredulous look. “I mean, I know that was her big dream before her mutation happened but…does she think that there aren’t gay people in Hollywood?”
John laughed loudly. “I know! She is really in for a rude awakening. Wow!”
They both chuckled at the thought of it and then eventually fell quiet, just looking at each other.
“You really did scare me, Bobby,” John murmured, stroking his fingers down the side of Bobby’s face. “Don’t fucking do that to me again.”
“I’ll try not to.” Bobby told him. “So…was it some cure-induced hallucination or did you tell me that you love me?”
John frowned. “Yeah, well. I was panicking and you wouldn’t stop with the spasms…”
“I love you too,” Bobby said and John grinned.
Bobby glanced up from his text book when the bell above the door rang. A scraggly looking man with dirty, thick glasses walked into the store, looking a little nervous as he immediately headed towards the back of the aisles. A quick look at the camera, told him that the man was randomly leaning down and reading the items on the shelves; never a good sign this late at night. Bobby had been working part time at the convenience store for 6 months. He’d been held up within the first week and reacted on instinct, freezing the guy’s gun before he even really thought about it. But, rather than being horrified that he had hired a mutant, Bobby’s new boss had been overjoyed that he’d hired someone who could handle themselves and protect his store. Not overjoyed enough that Bobby could get away with not having to work Friday nights but he couldn’t have everything.
Pretending to turn back to his book, Bobby kept an eye on the cameras and tracked the guy’s movements. He’d learned that someone this nervous-looking and erratic was either a shoplifter or was desperate enough to try to hold up the store. He hoped it was shoplifter, those were far easier to deal with but, as closely as he watched, he couldn’t spot the guy shoving anything inside his coat or into a pocket; in fact, the guy didn’t even seem to be taking his hands out of his pockets at all. Which made Bobby lean more to the opinion that he probably had a weapon in there. Scraggly Guy also kept moving closer to Bobby’s counter, a tiny step at a time, so it was looking more and more likely that it was going to be another hold-up. As the guy actually came into view in the corner of Bobby’s eye, looking for all the world like he really wanted to know what was in a bag of Cheetos, Bobby pulled on his power a little.
Bobby looked up and gave Scraggly Guy a friendly smile. “Hi. Anything I can help you with?”
“Uh…yeah…maybe…” The guy inched his way to the counter, his eyes darting around anxiously. His hands were still in his pockets, as if ready to pull out a gun. “Do you…uh…do you know…uh…no, wait, I said that wrong. I’m looking for Pyro.”
All of the tension flowed out of Bobby and he gave an audible sigh of relief which seemed to startle Scraggly Guy.
“Sorry man, I thought you were about to pull a gun on me,” Bobby explained.
The guy’s eyes widened. “Oh no! No, I wouldn’t. Actually, I couldn’t.”
He finally removed his hands from his pockets and Bobby could see that they were actually claws, like you’d find on a lobster. He watched Bobby carefully, looking as though he was ready to bolt at even a flicker of disgust on his face; he’d clearly been on the receiving end of some bad reactions to his mutation. So Bobby smiled and created an ice flower in the centre of his own hand.
“No condemnation here,” he assured the guy who looked so relieved that Bobby thought he may fall over.
He pulled out his cell and quickly called John to come to the store, not even a little bit sorry that he was disturbing John’s night hanging out with their housemates while Bobby was stuck at his job. While Bobby worked part-time at the store and went to NYU fulltime, John was the other way around. Obviously, Professor Xavier hadn’t had time to look into ways that John could get into college before his coma but it had been one of the first things Scott had done once everything calmed down. He got John to do his GED and then pushed him into applying for the creative writing course at The City College of New York. The rest of the time, John worked in, what they had both dubbed, Hipster Mutant Central; a collective of creative types who created hand-made wares. John made charcoal, basically playing with fire all day, which he then sold to a mutant friendly organic charcoal supplier.
Not that Bobby was jealous. At all. He just wished that he could have a cool job, like working at an ice-cream store or something. Then he could have Friday nights off to hang out with friends too.
“He’s on his way,” Bobby told Straggly Guy, who nodded a little shakily. “Have you met Pyro before?”
“No,” the guy replied. “A friend told me to come here and that he’d help me. They said to tell the preppy guy at the counter that I was looking for Pyro.”
Bobby would’ve protested that but the guy still looked like he might run away at the slightest provocation. Instead he stuck with a friendly tone and kept Scraggly Guy, whose name turned out to be Larry, talking.
After the battle at The Brotherhood camp, the majority of the mutants had scattered. It was something which had bothered John a lot because most of them had nowhere to go; most of them had joined up with The Brotherhood in the first place because they’d been lost and hiding from persecution. The more John had told Bobby about the camp, the more it had seemed like the school but for adult mutants. Yes, they were fighting to overthrow humans but that was really more of Magneto’s thing – him and a few of the more aggressive mutants –the rest of them were there because they wanted to belong to something. Bobby could understand why John hadn’t wanted to leave the camp even after it became clear that he couldn’t do what Magneto wanted from him.
Mystique had left the school to go travelling and find herself; she may have got her shape- shifting powers back but her time being cured had definitely unsettled her. Magneto had disappeared – after a brief visit to sit by the Professor’s bedside – Scott was pretty sure that he’d show up again but for now, he was doing a pretty good job of hiding from the government. In the meantime there was no-one for those scattered mutants to turn to.
A few days after Magneto had gone, a couple of mutants had shown up in Westchester. They’d been spotted by some students who’d been in town, shopping, and the description had sent John racing out of the school, with Bobby on his heels in case it was trouble. That was how Bobby had met Quill and Arclight, two of John’s friends from The Brotherhood and that was where The Brotherhood was reborn but with a different purpose. The new plan was to create a network for mutants to turn to when they needed support and friendship. After a lot of arguing from Bobby, they finally agreed to bring Scott and Logan in to help and Logan had turned out to have some really good ideas.
Obviously, another camp was out of the question; even if they were peaceful, the government’s actions with the soldiers had proved that a large gathering of mutants in one place was just asking for trouble. But smaller, inconspicuous communes would be a lot easier to maintain and allow them to fly under the radar; especially if they modelled themselves as eco-friendly, sustainable farmer types in more rural areas or creative collectives for those more comfortable in cities – such as the collective where John worked. Each commune kept in frequent contact with the others via phone calls and an online message boards so that if one came under attack, the others would know almost immediately.
It was a good plan and John threw himself into it, wholeheartedly, so much so that Bobby finally suggested that they move into the New York collective instead of finding their own apartment. It was worth it to see John’s face light up. Word got out among mutants that Pyro was the person to turn to if they needed help and, apparently, that one way to contact Pyro was through his boyfriend. Larry wasn’t the first mutant to show up at the store where Bobby worked.
John arrived at the store, faintly smelling of smoke as he always did these days, and sporting a tweed fedora.
“I swear to god, if you start wearing a man-bun then I’m kicking you out of bed,” Bobby told him because John was turning more hipster every day that he worked in that collective.
“I think that a man-bun would look good on me,” John protested.
Bobby rolled his eyes. “You also thought that the blonde highlights suited you. You have no sense of what looks good.”
“Yet you stuck your tongue down my throat as soon you saw those highlights,” John pointed out smugly.
Bobby didn’t have an argument for that because he very much had, so he decided to make introductions instead. “Larry, this is Pyro. Pyro, meet Larry.”
John gave Bobby a smirk before turning to the new guy. “It’s good to meet you, Larry. Bobby said that you were looking for me.”
John held his hand out but Larry skittered back a little before removing his hands from his pockets again to worriedly show off the claws.
“Wow!” John said, taking a careful step forward to get a closer look. “Those wouldn’t happen to be able to cut through copper would they?”
Larry looked taken aback. “I guess so. They cut through most metals I’ve tried.”
John hummed thoughtfully. “We might have a job for you, if you’re interested.”
“Really?” The wave of emotion that Larry conveyed in that one word had Bobby wincing in sympathy.
“Come on, let’s talk. I can explain how we mutants work here in New York and see if it’s right for you or if you’d prefer to try one of our other communes,” John told him.
Larry stared at John as though he hung the moon and Bobby could certainly understand that feeling; he felt it himself fairly often. Right now, though, he was so proud of John and everything that he had worked so hard to achieve. This was what he’d always argued for, mutants able to live without hiding who they were and even though they had a long way to go before they could all live out in the open like that, the communes at least helped mutants do that among other mutants.
John grinned at Bobby. “And I’ll see you at home, later, Darl’. I’ve got a job for you too.”
Bobby snorted at John’s waggling eyebrows. “Your seduction technique needs work, Pyro.”
“That’s because I don’t need to seduce you, Drake. You’re already mine,” John told him, smartly.
“Yeah, I am,” Bobby admitted and John’s smile softened.
Bobby opened the security door and leaned out so that he could kiss John. “I’ll definitely see you at home but I’ve got training at the mansion first.”
John groaned. “Can’t you give it a miss tonight? I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Do you really want to put up with another lecture from Scott for ‘distracting me from my duties’?” Bobby asked with a chuckle, remembering the aftermath to that particular conversation; apparently Scott had thrown in the shovel talk and a frank discussion about safe sex and contraceptives to boot. John hadn’t touched Bobby for two days afterwards. “But I promise that I’ll make your patience worth your while. Now, go and look after Larry; he needs it.”
“Okay,” John conceded. “But I’m holding you to that promise.”
John gave him another kiss and stepped away to let Bobby close the security door again. Then he gave his full attention back to Larry and led him out of the store with a final wink at Bobby.
Checking his watch to see how much longer he had left on his shift, Bobby opened his text book again to get back to studying before another customer showed up.
He was feeling pretty tired later that night when he got back to the warehouse. As always, he smiled when he stepped into the building which they rented from the city, who were more than happy to have a new creative community to help rejuvenate the area; even if they didn’t realise exactly what type of people the collective were. There were several mutants, including Quill, sitting around the communal living area and they waved to Bobby as he passed. He’d been a little worried, at first, that the fact he’d got a job elsewhere and wasn’t actively involved in the collective was going to create resentment. But John had made it clear that he and Bobby were a package deal and it helped that Bobby and Quill had hit it off pretty much immediately.
He let himself into his and John’s apartment and grinned when he spotted John busy writing at their shared desk. He dropped his bag and jacket on one of the chairs and crossed the room. He pulled John’s chair away from the desk, ignoring his squawk of indignation, and straddled his lap.
“Hey,” he said before giving him a deep kiss. “The Professor says hi.”
“Don’t talk about the Professor when you’re grinding on me,” John complained and Bobby laughed.
The Professor still hadn’t woken up from his coma but he was able to communicate telepathically a little bit more every time that Bobby visited him so Hank had been right, he was going to get better, it would just take time.
“How was your training?” John asked. “Did Logan kick your ass again?”
“Always,” Bobby replied. “He’s still pissed at me.”
“You did cockblock him,” John pointed out and Bobby mock shuddered as he remembered the incident.
Actually, he wasn’t sure that he was ever going to forget the sight of Scott and Logan enthusiastically making out on top of the desk in Scott’s office. As it turned out, it was the first time that Logan had made a move and Scott had freaked out after Bobby had walked in on them, literally pushing the other man away. But Bobby knew Scott and knew that he was just over-thinking things, probably feeling guilty for moving on, but he was clearly attracted to Logan and would get there – in his own time. Although, if Logan continued to take his bad mood out on Bobby then he might have to step in with a clue-by-four before too much longer.
“How’s Larry settling in?” Bobby asked, the guy had been on Bobby’s mind all day; he just seemed so scared of everything and everyone.
“Husk’s taken him under her wing,” John assured him. “I’m not sure if he’ll stick around here though, he might fare better somewhere quieter. Phat’s place in Missouri, maybe?”
“That’s definitely quieter,” Bobby agreed.
“But Larry did tell me something very interesting,” John said. “He took the cure.”
Bobby frowned. “What?”
“The shell on his hands usually covers a most of his body and his sense of smell was off the scale. Then he travelled to one of the clinics, got the cure and it all went away; he looked just like any human,” John told him. “Then, about a month ago, the shell began to grow over his hands again and that sense of smell started coming back.”
“Holy shit!” Bobby stared at him. “The cure wears off?”
“It certainly has for Larry.” John nodded, tapping his fingers against Bobby’s hip thoughtfully. “I wonder how many others we’ll get showing up because theirs wore off too.”
Bobby’s mind went straight to Rogue and he knew that John’s had too. Logan had spoken to her a couple of times, enough to know that she was still in L.A., working as an office temp and still trying to become an actress. But no one else had heard a peep from her. If her mutation did come back then she was going to be in a world of trouble; the school obviously wouldn’t take her back and all of the communes would likely turn her away. Everyone had heard stories about Bobby’s crazy ex and, as everyone also loved John, she was pretty much universally hated.
“I’ll have to let Scott and the others know about the cure,” Bobby said.
John hummed as he nosed Bobby’s neck, causing him to shiver. “But not yet. You have a promise to keep.”
“I do.” Bobby arched his neck to give John more access. “Have you finished your assignment?”
“Drake, if you think that I’m going to get any writing done after a lapful of you then you’ve lost your fucking mind,” John growled lowly and Bobby laughed.
“Then why the hell are we still sitting here?”
“Beats me!” John stood up and dropped Bobby onto the floor before he walked backwards towards their bed room, removing his shirt slowly.
“Fucker!” Bobby laughed from his sprawl on the floor.
“Only if you’re good.” John winked and threw his shirt at Bobby before he finally disappeared into the bedroom.
Bobby grinned. He could hardly believe that they were here. When John had walked off that plane over 3 years earlier he wasn’t sure that he’d ever see him again and worried that if he ever did then they’d end up fighting each other in a war they never created. But their lives had changed so much over the past year and now here they were; in love, living together and building something special with the new generation of mutants.
“Are you still with me, Darl’?” John’s voice floated out of the bedroom and got Bobby to his feet.