Walking through Walls

NC-17, adult content, profanity, sexual situations. So going to hell for religious references, BTW. X1, Bobby/John, Jubilee.

When Senator Kelly outs Kitty at the subcommittee hearings, relationships between Bobby, John, and Jubilee are put to the test.

Notes: This, of course, is my interpretation of the timeline and unseen events surrounding Jean's appearance before the Senate Subcommittee and Rogue and Logan's arrival at the Mansion..

In the FDoE universe, X3 doesn't necessarily exist although I'm sure I will incorporate some of the events in later installments. For FDoE, Warren Worthington III is one of Xavier's original students (along with Jean, Scott, and Ro) while Jamie Maddrox is a current student, Bobby's contemporary.

Kitty Conundrum Clarification: For FDoE, I based Kitty's age and appearance (which is about 16-17, Rogue's contemporary) on the actress from X1, Sumela Kay, not from X2's decidedly younger-looking Katie Stuart. Of course, for X3, Ellen Page was cast for the role. In that movie, her relationship with Bobby is more what I had in mind but… well… this version of Kitty wouldn't necessarily use the word "dickhead", at least for right now.

Bobby woke suddenly as the body next to him slid out of bed. Inexplicable panic caused him to lightly frost the sheets. He reached out blindly, brushing his fingertips down a very warm forearm. "Johnny?"

"Go back to sleep," Johnny said in the he tone used when he didn't want to explain.

His vision adjusted as he noted the time-almost two a.m.-and the outline of Johnny putting on his jeans sans underwear. Next came the t-shirt, followed by sneakers without socks. The ensemble was complete when Johnny slid the Zippo into his front pocket.

Bobby sat up and swung his legs over the side, pulling the sheet to cover his lap. Modesty strikes at the weirdest times, he mused. He wondered if he sounded whiny as he said, "Johnny-"

"Everything's fine," Johnny interrupted in his 'stop being such a spaz' tone. "You didn't fuck up. Shit, you pouncing me? That was fucking hot, okay? Repeat performance? Hell, yes. So we're cool. Just…" he paused and then, with a bit more gentleness urged, "Go back to sleep."

No explanation of where he was going fully dressed. No transparent lie of "Gotta take a piss" because, if that were the case, Johnny would have simply pulled on a pair of shorts to go down the hallway. But Bobby was desperate to hear some excuse, because at least then he could rationalize it, contort it into something with which he could comfort himself rather than be left with the truth: he was going to meet her.

Even now, as anger washed through him, Bobby would have accepted the excuse: "Jean's Senate speech is fucking tomorrow. If we're gonna do that whole united-front crap, we gotta know what the girls are thinking." It would have been bullshit, but it would have been something to work with.

Johnny's dismissive attitude wasn't about being caught off-guard tonight, Bobby pinning him to the bed and then stripping his clothes off. It wasn't about teasing him to the brink of orgasm at least three times before Johnny had finally grabbed his hand and refused to let go until Bobby had gotten him off. The only reason why Sam and Neal next door hadn't heard Johnny's wail had been because Bobby was kissing him.

But now, Jubilee was waiting for him in the gazebo. Bobby wanted to say, "If we're so cool, then why are you going to her?" Bobby didn't quite buy the "completely platonic" spin; he'd seen the smudges of lip gloss and smelled the sickly sweet honeysuckle perfume and cigarettes permeating John's clothes when he had returned from a rendezvous. And during the day? She clung to John every chance she got.

But he didn't challenge. Didn't demand. He didn't want a fight at 2 a.m. or to give John even more reason to leave. So, he obeyed John's directive by rolling back into bed and pulling the slowly defrosting sheet up to his shoulder. Christ, he hated wet bed linens, but he was damned if he was going to get up now and swap them with John standing there. Anyway, he did have about an hour before John returned.

An hour to watch the numbers change on the clock. To let the sheets defrost. To allow his stomach to settle. To convince himself that it was okay to share Johnny with Jubilee because... well, because. To tell himself that Johnny was only doing this to keep up appearances, because he wanted to keep what they had secret like Bobby because God knew, the rest of Bobby's life at the Mansion was public anyway.

This was John's way of "making things work" with Jubilee.

Manners, of all things, forced Bobby to say, "Good night," although his mother would certainly not approve of him being naked in his bed, bidding farewell to a guy who was, just hours earlier thrashing beneath his touch.

John sighed again, but this time it had a new pitch to it. Resigned? Apologetic even? "'Nite."

///***///

Jean Grey was on C-SPAN, which was not normally the viewing choice for a bunch of teenagers, but she was theirs. St. John found himself unusually nervous for her, a definite first for him when it came to adults. He wasn't alone in feeling that way, but he did a better job at hiding it. After all, he hadn't suffered an embarrassing loss of control and fried something with his powers.

The Professor, Scott and Jean had only been gone a day and already the toaster, a microwave, two toilets and a sink had been inadvertently trashed. St. John didn't want to think about the damage done outside. He wondered if Bobby and Ms. Munroe ever got sick of playing firefighters.

Still, Jean's appearance on C-SPAN meant the Mansion kids were crammed into the Rec Room with the volume cranked on the 36" screen TV. Munroe stood in the back and the kids were either tangled up on the couches else sprawled on the floor.

He was wedged between Bobby and Kitty with Jubilee on his lap and Piotr using his legs as a backrest. One of Bobby's arms was casually across his shoulders while the other curled protectively around Jubilee's legs, which she had propped up on Bobby's lap. The seating arrangement surprised St. John, because things between Jubilee and Bobby had been more than a little dicey as of late.

His attention returned to the TV.

Over the past two months, they had heard variations of Jean's carefully crafted speech as she perfected it. She had even encouraged the students to play devil's advocate, and once Dani had broken the ice, the kids were bolder with their questions. However, none compared to the ruthlessness of Bobby.

Bobby had constantly referred to Jean as "Ms. Grey" despite her doctorate and she had favored him with an amused smile. When she had finally chosen to correct him, Bobby's comeback had stunned everyone: "Just how many minds did you read in order to get your degree? Or did you just tweak a few thoughts here and there to allow you to pass?"

The room had gone absolutely silent. Jean had grown pale, floundering for an answer, a way to get back on track, as Bobby had stared her down, defiant and unapologetic. St. John had seriously wondered if Bobby had received telepathic encouragement because it had been so un-Bobby-like, especially towards someone he considered family. Afterwards, Bobby outright refused to talk about the incident.

On screen, Jean sounded confident as she stated, "... mutations manifest at puberty, and are often triggered by periods of heightened emotional stress."

There were a few snickers from the Mansion audience. Jean made it sound like manifestations were no big deal; the kids here knew that it wasn't the case. Jubilee had nearly blown up an alley. Kitty had phased through six stories of a Chicago high-rise. Then there was Piotr vs. the tractor, which never failed to elicit a round of 'oohs' from the newbies. As for St. John? The wastebasket bursting into flames when he was thirteen stood out.

Bobby, however, had never fully disclosed how his powers had manifested. There was his standard "Christmas in July" joke, complete with a wink and a smile. This was sometimes followed by stale lines about Frosted Flakes. However the real story-the one whispered between best friends at oh-godawful-in-the-morning-remained a mystery.

St. John wondered if Bobby would ever share that with him.

"No one's interrupted her yet," Sharra suddenly declared as he pointed to the screen. That had also been one of Bobby's tactics, cutting Jean off in mid-sentence. No one else in the Mansion had the guts to do it; it seemed no one else in the Senate did either.

"Good, good," Piotr murmured. And as Jean continued, St. John could feel the excitement building in the room. She was elegant, scholarly, smooth, and polished. Perhaps they all felt pride in that they contributed to her presentation.

Jubilee suddenly squirmed because she couldn't keep still for more than thirty seconds and Bobby gave her a sharp look that she ignored.

Christ, just what he needed. Another argument between those two. Just last week, Scott had not-so-politely hinted that it was more than just an amusing nuisance, but St. John doggedly refused the take sides.

The camera panned to the Senate gallery. A majority looked genuinely interested with some even taking notes. It seemed to be going well, Kelly throwing out minor questions, which were far inferior than Bobby's scathing ones. The Mansion kids were quiet up until Kelly referred to Jean as, "Ms. Grey."

"She has an M.D., jerk!" Jubilee sneered and saluted the screen with her middle finger. The Mansion audience began booing and pelting the TV with popcorn.

"Children," Munroe warned.

"Senator Kelly's just doing that to unnerve her," Alison Blair confidently declared. Murmurs of agreement echoed in the room. She then smiled warmly in their direction, winking as if she had been part of the whole "doctor versus miss" exchange between Bobby and Jean.

In front of the Senate Subcommittee, however, Jean hadn't missed a beat. St. John glanced over, expecting to see his roommate smile-maybe even grin-because a potential landmine had been avoided thanks to him. Instead, Bobby's expression was blank.

"Good call, Drake!" Jubilee cheered and raised her hand for a high-five. His roommate arched an eyebrow and gave a half-hearted tap against her palm before focusing on the TV again.

Odd, because a compliment from Jubilee should have meant something to Bobby, even it was as simple as "I told you so" about predicting the senator's snipe. It made St. John's palms itch.

"You're evading the real question," Kelly demanded. "Are mutants dangerous?"

It was one of Bobby's accusations from the Mansion debate, and St. John started to wonder if his roommate had an advance copy of the senator's speech. Jubilee grabbed Bobby's shoulder and shook it, grinning wildly as she did. "You totally rock, babe."

Because Jean answered passionately, "That's an unfair question, Senator, since the wrong person behind the wheel of a car can be dangerous."

"That's why we license people to drive."

Jean fired back, "But not to live."

"Take that, Senator Jackass!" one of the kids shouted.

"Jean sc-o-o-o-res!" Sharra crowed and held his hands up to indicate a touchdown.

"Totally knew she could take him on!" Jubilee laughed wildly, rocking precariously in St. John's lap as she kissed Bobby sloppily on the cheek. However, of the five of them, she was the only one excited, bouncing off St. John's lap and exchanging high-fives with Dani, Sharra, and Guthrie.

"Don't mess with the best!" Guthrie declared and the other kids cheered.

Bobby didn't react to Jean's eloquent comeback, neither did Piotr or Kitty, which made St. John panicky. A quick check over to Munroe revealed she wasn't thrilled the outcome of Jean's exchange with Kelly either.

The realization hit St. John quickly followed by sharp nausea. Bobby, Kitty and Piotr had always been closer to The Powers That Be than the rest of the students. Nowadays, St. John believed that that particular favoritism-such as the heads up on big events like this one-extended to himself and Jubilee.

After all, the five of them had been treated to the ultimate honor at the Mansion: a private dinner with the Professor four nights ago. During the meal, the Professor had discussed Jean's presentation and been frank about his expectations in his absence. Although he had expressed his concerns about Kelly's speech, nothing had been specific. He had ended the evening with an innocuous discussion of advanced training.

But obviously, there was something else lurking out there, and Bobby, Kitty and Piotr hadn't bothered to forward the memo to St. John or Jubilee.

The other kids were busy dancing around, congratulating each other; clearly, they thought the debate was over. Jubilee even high-fived Alison and draped an arm around Tabby's shoulders. The other girl beamed, "That's what we're talking about, girlfriend!" as she and Jubilee did a little dance step.

Bobby and Kitty were watching screen intently and St. John saw the senator accept a manila folder from his aid. A shot of cold hit St. John across his shoulders. Kitty grabbed Bobby's hand and St. John could feel the fluctuations of her tangibility. Piotr's slight shift in weight almost crushed his legs.

Senator Kelly then dropped his bomb: "I have here a list of names of identified mutants living right here in the United States."

The room fell silent. Cold raced through St. John again; he wasn't sure if it was due to Bobby or his own nerves. It was one of their worst fears-the government having a who's who of mutants-but they had convinced themselves that the bureaucracy could never quite get it together. The intangibility along his side stopped and the hard pressure on his legs eased considerably. St. John could, however, feel how tense they were.

Jean tried to interrupt, "Senator-"

The camera cut back to Kelly, who opened the folder and announced, "Here's a girl in Illinois who can walk through walls." Gasps echoed in the Rec Room. "Now what's to stop her from walking into a bank vault, or the White House, or-" and the son of a bitch pointed to the gallery, "into their houses?"

All Mansion attention swung to Kitty, who said nothing, and St. John suddenly felt light-headed as he looked over at her. She stared at the screen with her chin jutted out, determined and defiant. The only thing betraying her nerves was how tightly her jaw was clenched.

Still...

Kitty had been outed on fucking C-SPAN.

St. John glanced at Jubilee because judging by Kitty's stoic reaction, his best friend had to have known that this was going to happen. He was going to give her all kinds of hell later for not sharing, but Jubilee's mouth was gaping, shocked just as much as the other kids. And then her look of surprise changed to indignant.

She hadn't been told either.

The humiliation was sharp.

He heard Jean valiantly try to regain control. "Senator, please-"

But Senator Kelly had gotten his opening and continued with zeal. "-And there are even rumors, Miss Grey, of mutants so powerful that they can enter our minds and control our thoughts, taking away our God-given free will-"

"Ohmygawd! The Professor!" one of the girls shrieked.

That was all it took for chaos to break out in the Rec Room. The student populace began shouting incoherently and Jubilee had that glint in her eyes. St. John found himself fervently praying that she didn't join in the fray.

Surely she had better political savvy than that.

"Children!" Munroe called out. The pandemonium didn't stop; a few of the girls were wailing 'ohmygods' and one of the youngest ones-rescued only two weeks ago-burst into tears. A technicolor lightshow illuminated the room, which meant more than one kid had lost control. Alison looked completely horrified as her signature 'dazzlers' briefly twinkled above.

The TV fizzled loudly before shorting out.

"Everyone, please!" Kitty demanded as she got up off the couch. Piotr stood to her left and St. John found himself hauled to his feet by Bobby and shoved to stand behind Kitty while Bobby was on her right. "This is exactly what Senator Kelly wants!"

The silence was immediate. The kids paused in mid-whatever and stared at her.

"Our powers are not some great dark secret!" Kitty continued, a spark of passion in her voice St. John had never heard from her before. "There is news of us all the time about what we can do, what our powers have done. Pick up any paper, any single one, and you'll find a story about us.

"Of course there are people who know who I am, what I am. But I'm not afraid. I'm not going to let that man-or any one else-make me ashamed of my ability. The Professor would never put us in danger. But he also knew we needed someone stand up for us at those Senate hearings. We needed a voice! And Doctor Gray put everything on the line so that we could be heard! Those 'rumors' about the telepath that the senator was talking about? Well, there've been rumors about mind-control powers long before anyone was ever called a mutant!

"Senator Kelly just wants everyone to be afraid. He wants to frighten people with our abilities by telling them only how bad our powers can be instead of the good that we know we can do. If you let Senator Kelly scare you, you'll be giving him what he wants. He'll have that power over you.

"I'm not scared of him. You shouldn't be either." Stunned silence followed for a few moments before Kitty held out her hand to Piotr. "Come on. We have the finish those banners for the welcome-home party. If you all want to join us, we'll be in the dining room." Piotr accepted her hand, pride radiating from him as he escorted her out of the room.

Bobby suddenly grinned as he joked louder than necessary, "Remind me not to run against her for class president. She'd totally kick my butt in a debate."

St. John felt the nudge against his foot, the cue for the Fire vs. Ice shtick. He wondered when he had become the straight man in their comedy act.

"Dude, you could debate a rock and still lose." Stupid stupid stupid, but it was what the kiddies needed to hear-that taste of normalcy. If Miss Mayor and the Mascot weren't spazzing about her and the Professor being outed, then the rest of the students shouldn't either.

"Hey, Lee!" Bobby waved her towards them. "Are we still gonna work on that banner for Mister Summers' office? You know, 'gotta share the love' like you said unless..." he smiled broadly and waggled his eyebrows, "you trust my handwriting."

"Your penmanship is crap, Drake," she snapped as she broke away from the pack, yet instead of approaching, she stormed out of the room, a trail of sparks behind her.

Not a fucking temper tantrum now, St. John thought. With the majority of the Powers that Be away, they were expect to act like leaders. He felt the anger well up in him, because Christ! couldn't she just move beyond that?

And he hated fucking Star Trek and especially Mr. Spock for that "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one" because that particular phraseology was running through his head. And goddamn it, he realized he believed it, lame as it sounded.

Bobby knew. Bobby understood it. He had hard time with coping with shit that happened outside of the Mansion proper, but here, standing the Rec Room, St. John was positive Bobby knew all about survival. The survival of their community and their need to get through this mess or at least steady the ship until the Professor, Jean and Scott returned and the family was whole again. The one bright, shining moment in which Jubilee and St. John could repay the kindness of The Powers That Be's-the Professor's generosity in particular-was happening right fucking now.

Bobby's grin didn't waver for a second, but St. John could have sworn he saw genuine hurt in his eyes. His roommate was counting on Jubilee's uncanny instinct of catching on to a situation.

But St. John knew it was a lost cause. As much as he was totally, completely pissed about being blind-sided, another thought hit him: Why hadn't Kitty, Piotr and Bobby shared the information? What happened to all that "team work" bullshit?

He found himself glaring at Bobby.

Bobby did not offer a sympathetic shrug. No wink of understanding or remorse. Just cool assessment focused on the doorway that Jubilee had sparked through and a slightly raised eyebrow, which conveyed Bobby's disappointment like a neon sign.

St. John wanted to say something-anything really-that would let Bobby know he understood what was going on. Nothing came out except an embarrassing, "Gah" as he turned and chased after her.

Strength in numbers, after all, and St. John had pledged his loyalty to Jubilee long before Bobby had become anything significant to him.

***///***

As valiantly as Alison Blair tried, she was no Jubilation Lee when it came to dealing with a Mansion crisis. Bobby did admire her, however, for putting aside her personal feelings and trying like hell to make things work. Spinning a notion here. Tweaking an explanation there. Rallying the troops to get them to focus on the upcoming party instead of the ugly, ugly facts.

"I know the party's not 'til tomorrow, but what-ever! We're supposed to be standing along the Mansion drive when they pull in, not finishing up here!" Alison told the group before she began doling out the orders. "Count out four balloons for each table, including the ones outside... Someone did remember Ms. Munroe's present, right? And those tables for the ice sculptures should be next to the buffet, not over there... Who has the confetti?"

With Pete hovering as Kitty's guard and Alison running interference, it felt like the days before Jubilee and John had arrived. Back when the most they had to worry about was controlling powers, practical joke wars, and mid-terms.

Now... Bobby forced a carefree grin. He knew his role. He understood his place. He could feel the other kids glancing at him when they weren't sneaking looks at Kitty. She sat at their usual dining table and worked on a banner with Pete. From the color scheme, he knew it was the one for Scott.

He resisted the urge to check his watch to see how long Jubilee and John had been gone. They shouldn't have left in the first place. He thought they knew better, though that they got it. He-

- sauntered over to table and reached for the silver metallic Sharpie. Bobby had no clue what to write on the corner of the banner for Scott. Somehow 'Sorry you couldn't get a clean shot at the Senator' wouldn't have been welcome, not in public anyway. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of the newer kids, Clarice, sidle up to him and shyly select the pale lavender marker from the pack. The color matched her skin.

"Where's Jubilee?" Clarice's voice conveyed the nervousness he was sure all the kids felt.

Bobby didn't miss a beat with his answer: "Phone duty."

Alison gaped a little, while Kitty and Pete stared at him with his-and-hers arched eyebrows. It was a desperate and stupid excuse, but perhaps the other kids would buy it because it was, well, mundane.

He shrugged as he continued, "Look, you remember what the Professor said before he left? We're gonna get some calls from parents and maybe even the school's board of trustees." Bobby waited for her nod before finishing, "So, someone's gotta take the calls, right? Someone to screen them for Ms. Munroe. Jubilee's doing that."

Clarice blushed a slightly deeper shade of purple and there were murmurs of acceptance by the other kids.

"Piotr's finished with this side, Clarice," Kitty said in that wonderfully kind tone as she pointed to a blank space near the 'w'. Calm and confident, Kitty gave a warm smile as she scooted closer to Piotr.

Clarice shuffled over to the edge, lavender marker firmly in hand, and began writing.

"I'll go and-" Bobby faked a cough and shrugged, his movements exaggerated as he thumbed to the door, "find our happy couple." A few of the boys made the obligatory crass comments as he passed. Hopefully, he didn't twitch too much.

Bobby walked purposefully to the small office between the Professor's and Scott's, but he didn't rush. This was the place where the kids waited before a private meeting with The Powers That Be or made their personal phone calls. After all her claims to the Professor she could handle anything that was thrown at her, Jubilee had fallen flat on her face.

It wasn't Bobby's fault that John and Jubilee had been left out. Ro had pulled him, Piotr and Kitty aside right before the hearings were to start and had told them the news. Jubilee and John hadn't been there because she had snuck off to smoke and, as usual, John had joined her. By the time those two had made their way to the Rec Room, there was no way they could have pulled them aside without making it too conspicuous.

As he approached, he could hear her screeching about managing a crisis without proper information. Bobby clenched his fists, keeping his power in check. 'Proper information?' What was that supposed to mean? An advance copy of the senator's speech? The Professor on his cell phone throughout the hearing, relaying intel as he picked it up telepathically? Just who the hell did Jubilee think she was?

Of all of them, he had more right to be freaked out over what had happened. What if Kelly had said, "And here's a boy from Boston who creates ice at will? What's to stop him from creating a second ice age?"

But Bobby pushed those feelings aside. The Mansion residents were counting on him, so were Ro, Jean and Scott. Most importantly, the Professor was counting on him.

Standing outside the room, he saw the flashes that leaked out from beneath the door. Great. Jubilee's strident tone still carried despite the solid oak between them. Bobby paused, suddenly tired of being the Mascot all the time.

And while he was certain he would receive accolades from the Powers for handling of the crisis, he was angry that this portion was a solo effort.

John and Jubilee should have stepped up, just like Alison had.

But the two of them were selfish, something Bobby had always known despite John's declarations about Fire and Ice.

He turned the knob, not even bothering to knock. Jubilee stopped in mid-screech as he walked in. Then, "Well, if it isn't the fucking Mascot."

"Lee-" which sounded somewhat like a warning from John. It didn't stop her.

She launched into a bevy of insults, ones that Bobby ignored as he closed the door and walked over to where the cordless rested on the charger next to the answering machine. No messages, which meant his excuse to the populace was still intact. Bobby picked up the phone, turned to face her, and immediately dropped the room temperature and deliberately shifted into his ice form.

"The fuck!" Jubilee snarled.

Calmly, Bobby thrust the phone at her, pushing the tip against her collarbone hard enough to make her take a step back. "You're on phone duty," he told her flatly, wondering if he sounded menacing as well. "This phone rings? You answer it all chipper and happy and all that shit. You fucking sell the fact you're on phone duty to everyone here like it was a directive from the Professor himself. You hold on to this goddamn phone the rest of the fucking night like we're going to have to pry it from your cold, dead hands."

Jubilee's mouth dropped open. He heard John stutter something.

"Shut the fuck up, Johnny." Bobby didn't bother looking over his shoulder. He'd deal with that shithead later.

"Who the hell..." Jubilee began to rally.

"I'm the fucking Mascot, bitch," he snapped, suddenly satisfied to see the surprise and hint of fear in her eyes. "And I've just given you a way out. These kids depend on you-God knows fucking why-but they do. What? Are you crying because no one told you? Well, if you hadn't been killing yourself smoking, you would have been there when we got the news. Jesus fucking Christ, even Alison kept her shit together. So, do everyone here a favor and get the fuck over it."

He held her gaze for a moment before letting go of the phone. She caught it, shivering slightly, and looked away.

Bobby didn't bother glancing at John; he didn't want to see the expression on his face. He shifted back to his human form as he pointed towards the door, addressing Jubilee. "Now, get the fuck out there and act like the person they all think you are, the one that you made them believe in. The one the Professor was counting on."

Jubilee nodded once, a blush staining her cheeks as she lowered her head, cuddled the phone closer, and meekly walked out of the room.

Bobby then heard a gurgle from John; obviously words were going to be a tough thing for Mr. Vocabulary today. He still refused to look over his shoulder. "She's your girlfriend, you asshole," he said, unable to keep the bitterness from his voice. "You're supposed to chase after her and tell her what a fucking bastard I'm being and how I had no right to talk to her like that."

He could feel his roommate's hand hovering inches from his arm. Apologies were always made by touch nowadays. "Bobby-"

"Just fucking go, John."

"Bobby-"

"Now, John."

///***///

St. John had watched helplessly as Bobby had struck with cruel efficiency. There had been no question that Bobby's display of powers had been deliberate; it had been too controlled, too precise to be an accident. His ice form had been unnerving, especially his face. Angular, mask-like features that should have provoked a laugh for being ridiculously over-the-top instead provoked a thought that yes, Bobby could very easily pass as one of the worst of the bad guys. His voice had held the same edge as his appearance, razor sharp and biting.

It hadn't taken much to destroy Jubilee. A simple reminder that she wasn't the most important person at the Mansion. That Bobby wielded more power than she ever could. That Bobby, Kitty and Piotr would always be held in higher esteem than her. That her nemesis, Alison "Dazzler" Blair, may have lost control of her powers during a crisis, but stepped up when they needed it most.

He wanted to be pissed off because the Powers had no right to leave him and Jubilee out of the loop. But if Bobby's explanation was true-and, really, he had no reason to lie-the reason he and Jubilee hadn't been included was because of Jubilee's smoking habit and their friends didn't have time to warn them.

Maybe this would be the one thing to motivate Jubilee to quit.

Regardless, he had made the choice to follow Jubilee out of loyalty. He also knew he was the only one who had a chance of calming her down. He doubted Bobby or anyone else would see it that way.

St. John knew his own punishment would be much worse, far more damning than Bobby's simple use of the word 'girlfriend'. He wondered if he and Bobby would make it past tonight, because there were a lot of things Bobby would forgive him for, including slurs against the Powers. But abandonment during a Mansion crisis?

He wondered how many times he would have to say he was sorry. He wondered which of his quirks would be pulled out into the open or if Bobby would simply say, "You're a worthless piece of shit, Johnny. Get the fuck out of here because the Powers certainly don't want a lame-assed wannabe like you around."

If that hadn't been enough, he had to face Kitty and Piotr. He hadn't been stupid enough to believe that there wouldn't be repercussions.

Yet, when he had entered the dining hall, Kitty had greeted him with a kind smile. Only because you saved her life, he had thought at the time and wondered how much of the good will had been for public show. When she had asked him to proofread the school newsletter-a whispered request as he had signed the banner for Scott-he had nodded eagerly. He supposed he would have written the whole damn thing, made the copies and distributed them to each kid personally if she had asked.

Piotr, however, had been inscrutable, which had been unnerving. Although Kitty's hulking Russian guard had allowed him to interact with her, there had been no token penance at the time.

The message had been clear: payback would come later.

Six hours later, it did, in the form of four thirteen-year-old boys camping out in his and Bobby's bedroom for the evening. He was positive that Piotr had deliberately sent them here.

Sure, there had been the mandatory town hall discussion hosted by Storm about an hour after the hearings. Then, there had been the group homework session in the arboretum, again overseen by Storm. Yet after 8 p.m., the students had broken into their established social groups. Guthrie and Sharra got their usual two, but the boys who normally hung out with Piotr ended up with him and Bobby.

The four sat on the floor near Bobby's bed, working diligently on their homework. Occasionally, one would ask for help and Bobby would oblige, fulfilling the role of Mansion Mascot/Mister Mayor/Ideal Upperclassman to perfection.

They had been there for two hours.

St. John wanted to shoot himself but also realized that if this was the extent of Piotr's retribution, he gladly accepted it. After all, it was creative, cloaked in the 'way of the Mansion', yet excruciatingly cruel because not one of the kids really gave a rat's ass about St. John's opinion or even if he was there. It was a hard reality check, delivered with the subtly of all things Piotr.

He supposed... he hoped that Bobby counted this as part of his penance. St. John had been effectively cut off from direct communication with his roommate since being dismissed after the incident with Jubilee. The longer the evening wore on, the more convinced St. John became that Bobby was suppressing a shitload of feelings.

Kitty had been outed on CSPAN, and given St. John's intimate (though limited, his mind harshly corrected) knowledge regarding his roommate, there was meltdown somewhere on the horizon.

Meltdowns meant sex in some capacity, and given how they had been progressing over the last few weeks, cocksucking was definitely on the agenda.

St. John just wanted it over with. The inevitable argument part of it, he corrected himself. He knew it was going to be a nasty one. The sex? He wouldn't mind if it lasted all night.

If only the brats in their room would just leave.

"What if we're invaded?" one of the boys suddenly asked. "You know. Commandos and stuff because we're... well... mutants."

St. John refrained from smacking him on the head. Of all the asinine things to be worried about. However, he didn't lift his gaze from the Batman comic on loan from Guthrie. He amused himself by wondering when the X-Men would acquire the official X-Mobile to go along with the X-Jet in the X-Cave. Maybe Cyclops would entertain the idea of a trophy room, reserved only for the baddest of the bad guys. He wondered if the X-Men would ever encounter someone ruthlessly diabolical as the Joker.

"Guys, seriously," Bobby flashed a reassuring grin as he scribbled into his notebook, "we're pretty safe here."

"Oh yeah?" another asked, with just enough challenge in his voice to draw St. John's attention. "Dude, why the secret escape stuff?" The kid snuck a quick look at St. John before adjusting his shoulders and jutting his chin out. "If we're so safe here, why all that stuff?"

Bobby let out a measured sigh. "Ancestral home turned it into a school... state-mandated fire and tornado drills... guys," said with that exaggerated 'do I have to point out the obvious' tone, "this place wasn't originally built to be what it is now. The Mansion's got that, you know, artsy-building-looking good-in-a-time-period-type-of-thing. Right, John?"

Which was the cue for the Ice vs. Fire routine. St. John rolled his eyes before chiming in with, "Architectural aesthetic."

The attention swung to him. One of the boy's mouth dropped open, as if shocked the Mansion Bad Ass knew a three-syllable word. St. John's annoyance spiked because he was almost always ignored until he could produce a 'run for the dictionary' word.

However, it was still back to Bobby playing Mascot and St. John, the Bad Ass. Maybe that was part of his apology.

Still, whining about secret passages-and shouldn't that rank on the awesome meter as a 10?-proved a perfect opportunity to chase the other boys out so that Bobby could have a proper meltdown.

St. John offered the group a thin smile. "Just what level of stupid are you?" He returned his attention to the comic. "Shit. I thought all the tools were in the garage."

"Dude!" which was a risky yet admirable protest from... Daniel? David? Right, David. The new upper middle-class kid who thought being black gave him street cred at the Mansion. "It's the government. You know, gov-ern-ment."

"Good to know 'Hooked on Phonics' works for you," St. John sneered as he turned the page. He met David's gaze with a disdainful one of his own. "You just don't get it."

"But they know about Kitty," squawked David.

"You think Colossus is gonna allow some unauthorized fuck near her? Christ," He snorted as he kicked off his shoes, one barely missing David's head as it sailed across the room. "Bad enough you're dissing the Tin Man. Hell, you're telling Drake here that he don't know shit about this place. But you're writing off Cyclops? Storm?" Names were important at the Mansion, especially invoking those of ass-kicking alter egos. He bared his teeth a little. "You must have forgotten about the two telepaths who live here." He paused and then added condescendingly, "Dude."

"But they know about the Professor!"

"Ooohhh! Rumors of a being so powerful that he can go around mind-fucking everyone and everything," St. John mocked as he turned another page. "Gee. I never heard that one before." He briefly met David's gaze. "Senator Jackass knows the buttons to push. Woo hoo." He raised an eyebrow: "Shit, you don't deserve to be in the garage; you'd be an insult to the Craftsmans."

"John," said Bobby with mild annoyance. "They get it."

It wasn't necessarily a reproach; maybe he was peeved that St. John had used the nickname Bobby had christened his brother Ronny with to tease these boys. Perhaps it brought back the memories of being punished-grounded for a week, compounded by being forced to give up Red Sox tickets which Bobby had saved up for a year-over a clever moniker which had showcased Bobby's sharp wit.

The younger boy sulked, "Just saying."

"Yeah, I know," Bobby acknowledged before tilting his head towards the door. "Remember what Kitty said at dinner. Some girl wrote about her in her school newspaper. And all those worries about mind-control stuff have been around for ages." Again, that easy All-American, No Worries smile flashed. "But nothing's going to happen. Trust me." Another pause. "Guys, it's late and just because three of the four Powers that Be aren't here doesn't mean we get a free pass on curfew." He chuckled as he waggled his eyebrows, "I learned the hard way."

The four boys nodded slowly-one of them even laughed a little-and seemed mollified by the simple expedient of putting their faith in the Mascot. As they went to leave, they offered up variations of "Good night" and "Thanks" to Bobby, but didn't acknowledge St. John.

That shit was really starting to get old.

The door closed behind them. St. John stared at it. The condemnation slipped out: "Pussies."

"Johnny," came the tired sigh, "they're scared."

"No shit they're scared, but fuck..." he shook his head. His ire spiked. What was he supposed to say? The Mansion was as close to a mutant fortress as one could hope for! Dani could make a hard core battalion wet their pants with her psychic arrows! Jubilee, Sam and Neal could take turns blowing up helicopter and tanks! And with the things that St. John and Bobby together could cook up, what army wouldn't retreat? Why didn't the younger kiddies get that?

"I know," Bobby said with an edge of finality to his tone.

St. John wasn't used to being summarily dismissed, twice in one day no less. As much as he wanted to wad up the comic and throw it at Bobby, he held back.

It was just the two of them now. Something had to happen. If it started with an argument and progressed from there...

Yet Bobby still doggedly did his fucking homework.

Maybe that was part of the punishment, that Bobby wasn't going to talk to him. But St. John could outlast his roommate with ease on that particular point. Bobby was a talker who hated long silences. Before they really got along, Bobby was always chatting about something.

Ten minutes passed and their room remained eerily quiet.

It made St. John edgy to the point of tossing the comic aside (gently, of course) and getting up off his bed. He rooted through his dopp kit, fishing out a toothbrush and toothpaste; while Bobby had perpetual fresh breath-a side effect of his mutation perhaps-St. John still had to deal with the after-effects of garlic mashed potatoes. He grabbed his washcloth while he was at it and headed towards the washroom.

It never hurt to be prepared.

He had just begun scrubbing his teeth with an obnoxious amount of toothpaste when a voice interrupted. "Er. John?"

Glancing in the mirror, St. John saw the Levitating Kid standing by one of the stalls. St. John spit out the froth and quirked an eyebrow. The kiddies never really expected him to articulate an answer, just grunt like a stupid punk bully.

"Er. Pete's still downstairs," which could have been interpreted as a neutral statement if the kid-Jeremy? Jason? Christ, he needed to get better about the names-hadn't sounded so uneasy. He didn't use the 'you know that one of your best buds is still MIA' tone. No, the kiddie who had tracked him down in the bathroom was thisclose to spazzing, which was apparent since he was hovering about five inches above the tile.

However, powers were still powers, even if they couldn't blow shit up. "Dude," St. John said after he rinsed his mouth, "feet on the ground."

"Oh." The boy landed with a thud, catching himself against the stall door to regain his balance.

"Pete's with Kitty," St. John stated flatly and splashed his face with water. He met the kid's gaze in the mirror and quirked an eyebrow. "You got a problem with that?"

"No!" hastily said. "But... uh... Think he'll, uh, come back upstairs tonight?"

He squinted at the mirror as he wiped his face with the washcloth. "What? You got a bet on if he gets laid?"

"No!" The kid was now blushing and levitating at the same time.

Damn. He'd forgotten that this batch of kiddies didn't automatically think like that. And why the hell was this kid coming to him for handholding? Well, it certainly beat a knock on the door later at an inopportune moment.

"Look," St. John tried to modulate his tone into something reassuring as he repeated the same message from earlier, "that senatorial jackass outed Kitty. Pete's just making sure that she knows he'll kick the living shit out of any fucker who gets near her." St. John watched as the boy's feet touched the ground again. He signed inwardly before saying, "Dude, Guthrie just picked up his comics from the store, which means him and Sharra aren't sleeping until they at least get through the manga and you know they start with the DC crap first. Drake's still doing some bullshit homework. He doesn't want to be interrupted, but he'll be up if you want something."

There was a long pause, which was strange, because usually the invocation of those three names-Bobby's especially-automatically reassured the other boys if Piotr wasn't around. But this kid lingered, staring intently at the ground as if working up the courage to say something. Tired of waiting, St. John picked up his stuff and headed towards the door.

Softly, hesitantly. "So will you, right?"

The comment caught St. John off guard, causing him to turn sharply. "Huh?"

The kid stumbled backwards, almost into one of the stalls, embarrassment clearly showing. "You... er. I mean, you read comics too."

He stared at the kid, mouth suddenly dry. Sure, he had felt insulted that he wasn't deemed as credible as the rest of the upper classman, that he was always relegated to the role of Mansion Bad Ass only good for one liners or the straight man to the Mascot's comedy routine. But this was the first time any of the other boys had ever voiced the need to have him available.

St. John's mind suddenly blossomed with information: Jason Ellenson from Tampa Bay, a rabid Buccaneer fan who thought Madden NFL on PS2 was the only game to play and had the guts to tell Bobby that the Patriots were a flash in the pan because John Gruden was the second-coming. The kid who had stupidly accepted a dare a month ago and dislocated his shoulder and elbow. St. John had found him hovering by one of the oak trees too embarrassed to go inside, had told him that he was being a jackass, and had hauled him to the Infirmary.

He remembered quipping some Summers-esque comment about taking bets and meeting Jean's gaze right after he had said it; the small smile she had favored him with was usually reserved for Bobby. Apparently for Jason, however, that incident had earned St. John second billing, right below Piotr. It was respect of a different kind, not borne out of fear of verbal retaliation but recognition that he understood which way was up.

It made St. John feel... accepted. Needed. All those things that he swore he didn't want because of the hassle involved but envied Piotr, Bobby, Sharra and Guthrie for. But damn if he was going to show it in his face, "Comics? Well, yeah."

"Okay," Jason said, trying to shrug off his embarrassment but the relief couldn't be hidden. "'Night, John."

It was the first time one of the boys had ever said that to him directly. He refused to react, which made his "Whatever, dude" sound a lot more dismissive than he meant.

St. John didn't want to dwell on it. He had a more serious crisis to deal with.

Bobby was waiting for him.

***//////***

Alone. Finally. Even if it was only for the five minutes it took John to brush his teeth and wash his face. Bobby put his books away and quickly changed into his sleep shirt and shorts. He was tired, the events of the day more taxing than they had any right to be.

He wasn't sure why he wasn't freaking out more; Kelly could have just as easily named him. Bobby wondered if the Professor had put some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion in his head (or whatever the telepathic equivalent was) to keep him calm.

Bobby turned off his bedside lamp and crawled into bed with his back to the door. He didn't want a confrontation with John over today's events; why else had Bobby put up with the four boys in their room after dinner? It delayed the argument for a few hours, and Bobby wondered why he wasn't feeling more cowardly about it.

He sighed and pulled the cover up to his shoulder. Bobby wasn't up to venturing down the hall, potentially running into to more nervous boys who wanted to hear from him that it was going to be okay. Skipping one night of brushing his teeth wasn't going to give him cavities no matter what his mother had said when he had been living at home.

He heard the door open, John's measured steps, and the door click closed. Locked. Bobby briefly wondered if his roommate had been approached in the hallway and almost let out a snort. Doubtful, since John was as much feared as respected around the Mansion because of his ego-assaulting wit. There were very few he didn't unleash it upon.

The overhead light flicked off, which was a good sign. Their arguments were never done in half-light, even if they erupted at 4 a.m. John liked having the overhead on when they fought. Quirky.

He listened as John moved about the room. The clank of a toothbrush hitting the can of shaving cream in the dopp kit. The soft thud of balled-up fabric hitting the floor as John probably tried a two-pointer to get his socks into the hamper. The ting of metal as the famed Zippo was placed on the nightstand. The jingle of the belt buckle as he probably shucked off his jeans followed by another attempt at a two-pointer that failed.

Bobby waited for the tell-tale rustle of bed covers, which meant he would be safe from a conversation tonight. Instead, he was treated to the sound of John padding over to his side of the room.

He simply was not up for this. He had every right to be angry, to accuse John of being just as much of a pussy as the four boys who had been in their room earlier because he ran away at the first sign of a major crisis.

Jubilee had abandoned Kitty. Bitch.

John had abandoned him. Bastard.

But... Maybe John had simply followed her out before she had made things worse.

Maybe.

"Bobby?" said with a slight tinge of worry, a tone Bobby only heard after a nightmare.

It almost made him roll over and look. Almost. But that meant engaging in a conversation of some sort. A conversation Bobby didn't want to have because any way it went, it meant including Jubilee in some capacity.

God, he was so sick of her permeating everything he had with John.

"Bobby?" repeated again, this time with the flavor of confusion. He heard John shuffle forward, felt the slight brush against the bottom part of the sheets. It was strange how they could ask questions without saying words, have entire conversations based on tones of voices and near-touches.

Still, Bobby wasn't going to roll over. He wasn't going to give in that easily. He didn't want to fight. He didn't want to start some stupid discussion about how John hadn't been given a full briefing or some kind of hint when he and Jubilee had arrived in the Rec Room. Shit, it wasn't as if Bobby or anyone else at the Mansion were telepathic.

"I..." John faltered, which was weird.

It made him immediately think of that day John had been curled up in bed, buried beneath blankets as Scott had stood vigil. That day had really changed everything between them. It was the day that Bobby realized just what the Mansion meant to John. That memory was the sole reason why he glanced over his shoulder.

Dressed only in his skivvies, John looked almost vulnerable.

Bobby narrowed his eyes, trying to pick up on any hints about John's mood besides the obvious uneasiness. John met his gaze and it looked like he was attempting his Classic Allerdyce Poker Face. Bobby wondered why John felt the need to in the privacy of their bedroom, when really, it was okay to be scared since what happened on C-SPAN was a huge deal.

Especially to John.

Who had no other family than this one at the Mansion.

Who had nowhere else to go if the Mansion was taken away.

Who didn't want anyone else to know just how frightening that was because, of all the kids, John had spent the longest on his own.

Bobby lifted the covers-their standard, unspoken invitation-as he turned and scooted over so that his back was against the wall. John ducked his head once before crawling in; Bobby wondered how the two of them managed to fit in the bed without one falling out.

They didn't really speak nowadays when they were together like this, everything translated by taps and shifting of weight. It was how Bobby ended up on his back and Johnny on his side, awkwardly petting his hair before tracing his cheekbone and lips.

When Johnny finally kissed him, it wasn't with the dominating force he used on those rare times he initiated things. Instead it was gentle, sensual and slow. Bobby recognized the approach-testing the waters, trying to figure out what could be done-because really, they should be arguing about nondisclosure and abandonment, not making out.

It didn't stop him from responding though. It was so obvious that, well, Johnny needed him. The hard on pressed against his thigh was proof of that.

Warm lips caressed his, a tongue sliding along his teeth and across his gums. Sensual, which was oddly, an unusual word to associate with Johnny. Johnny was brash and demanding, not this somewhat gentle seducer whose tongue was playing touch tag with his before licking along his jaw and then bathing that one spot just below his earlobe that was like a direct current to his cock.

Bobby knew he made a rather loud sound by the way Johnny's hand suddenly covered his mouth. Belatedly, he realized that the stereo wasn't on; Johnny had this thing about having music on, like he wanted a soundtrack to go along with the action. Still, the fingers pressing against his lips were unbelievably erotic. Bobby snaked his tongue out to run along the warm, calloused skin.

Then, Johnny moved so that he was stretched on top of Bobby, crotch to crotch, before straddling him. He then drew his tongue down Bobby's neck, interspersing nips with licks. Bobby brushed his hands down Johnny's sides before cupping Johnny's ass just to feel the muscles ripple beneath his touch.

He wanted to push and pull at Johnny's hips so that their cocks would rub just right; he remembered one night when all they had done was thrust against each other with only thin cotton separating them, how hard he had come and how much he had been mesmerized by just how Johnny could move. Tonight, it didn't take much for the movement to begin, a simple coaxing touch.

It didn't last long. Johnny pushed at his shoulders so that he broke contact. Bobby moaned, perhaps petulantly because-damn-he had an excellent rhythm going. But this was Johnny's show.

"Shirt," Johnny told him and then pulled at the edges the fabric.

Oh. God.

It was always Bobby stripping Johnny, not the other way around. The change made him groan but pull off his t-shirt in, perhaps, record time. Warm lips were on his throat again, a tongue swirling around his Adam's apple before descending to hollow of his throat and then over to his right shoulder.

Sharp bites were soothed by the gentle lap of Johnny's tongue and Bobby pressed his lips together so he wouldn't make too loud of a sound. But when Johnny held him down by the upper arms, he couldn't hold back the gasp and he breathed out, "oh God". He actually felt Johnny smile against his skin.

Johnny's warm hands slid under the waistband of his shorts, easing them down. Clearly, Johnny wanted him completely naked, which was fine. He lifted his hips and felt the fabric slid down his legs, to his ankles, and then off. That was when Johnny began the assault on his nipples, licking and biting until Bobby bit his own wrist in an effort not to cry out over how damn good it felt.

He bucked a little, just to get some friction between his cock and Johnny's; Johnny was still in his skivvies, but Bobby didn't care. He wanted to come badly; being on this side of the 'bringing to the edge' was completely new.

Johnny, however, changed positions again, pushing apart Bobby's legs to settle between them as he tongued his way down to Bobby's abs. It was weird, being so spread open like this, but it still felt good even though his cock was waving in the air, bereft of any contact because of the way Johnny arched over him.

The kisses on his belly were feather light as were the touches down his sides. Bobby squirmed; he was unused to such gentle contact. But instead of being sexy-which he really wanted it to be-it became more of a nuisance.

He didn't want to say anything so he wriggled a little more, hoping Johnny would get the hint. Johnny didn't. His movements actually seemed to encourage him. So finally, Bobby hissed, "Shit, Johnny, that tickles."

Bobby was expecting Johnny to perhaps make a comment before moving upwards again, maybe paying more attention to his nipples which would have suited Bobby just fine. They could rub against each other-there was some specific term for it, wasn't there? Oh yeah, 'frottage' but he didn't want to think about where he had learned that particular term-until they came.

But instead of moving up, Johnny slid down and his lips and tongue bathed Bobby's hip bone before working his way down along his groin. Bobby gasped as he propped himself up, a surge of pleasure racing along his limbs before centering on his cock, which now was just inches from Johnny's cheek.

This was newnewnew, so new...

So what he wanted.

So what he didn't have the courage to ask for.

And so what he thought that Johnny would never do because, despite all his bravado about sex, his roommate was remarkably conservative, even hesitant in matters of action.

Bobby was embarrassed by the amount of precum that seeped from his dick even though in the past Johnny had assured him it was "so fucking hot". He was worried that he'd shoot his load right then, right there, before they had a chance to really do anything. Bobby tensed, just like when he was trying to exert control over his powers, in an effort to stave off the impending orgasm.

Johnny's fingers wrapped around the base of his cock and squeezed hard; Bobby swallowed a yelp but immediately understood. They had done that before, trying to make each other last longer. He breathed out a sigh of thanks.

Then, Johnny licked the tip of his cock, which made him bite the heel of his palm because he knew he was going to yell out something stupid like, "Yeah Johnny, oh God yes!" and their neighbors didn't need to hear that.

But it was incredible-warm and wet-so different than anything they had done before. So different from anything Bobby had experimented with before. And when Johnny wrapped his lips around his cock, swirling his tongue before sliding the length into his mouth, Bobby grabbed handfuls of sheets and willed himself not to inadvertently freeze something.

Still, he dared to look down, awed by the sight of Johnny sucking him. Bobby's voice caught twice before he could whisper, "Feels so good" because the last thing he wanted Johnny to do was stop. Up and down, followed by a tongue-swirl and then a gentle caress of his balls kept at a pace that was exquisitely maddening. Despite the hard squeeze earlier, Bobby knew that it wasn't going to take much longer.

That was when he felt rhythmic movement against his left leg and as he refocused his gaze, the reason for it became crystal clear. "Oh God, you're beating off," which was an entirely stupid thing to say-maybe Johnny didn't want him to notice or was embarrassed by it-but the surge that went through his body was definitely not due to his mutant power.

Johnny was getting off on giving him a blowjob.

All doubts about them were instantly erased.

"Gonna come, so close," he breathed out because it was only fair to give Johnny a warning. But Johnny didn't stop with his mouth or stop jerking off; in fact, both tempos picked up substantially. Bobby shivered as he warned a second time, "Gonna come."

Johnny continued.

"Oh God, gonna come in your mouth," he stuttered, because it was surreal beyond words. While Johnny didn't need a play-by-play-or would this be a blow by blow?-he couldn't help the words spilling from his mouth because, well, maybe Johnny didn't hear him or something. "So close. God, so close. Johnny... close. Yeah. Gonna come in your mouth. Jesus, Johnny. OhgodohgodohgodsofuckingcloseohgodthereohfuckI'mcoming."

Warm, slippery pressure on the head of his cock as he shot his load.

So new, sososo good.

Exquisite ecstasy.

He arched off the bed, hips jerking with each pulse, as his vision suddenly clouded and oh holy fuck he thought he was going to pass out.

Which, apparently, he did.

Because Bobby opened his eyes to find Johnny looming over him, breathing heavily, hand jerking hard. His breath smelled of peppermint yet sour, and Bobby's mind conveniently reminded him that Johnny had indeed swallowed.

Christ.

But it wasn't fair, Johnny beating off when Bobby was perfectly willing to return the earlier favor. He tried to say as much, yet the words stalled in his throat. There was such concentration, such an openness to Johnny's features that Bobby had never seen before. Johnny was staring at him, lust clear in his eyes.

He was just barely able to hear Johnny's whispers, "So fucking hot. Yeah. Fucking amazing" said with such conviction. No games. Pure, raw emotion. Such need.

"Kiss me," Bobby said, because as much as he wanted to suck Johnny's cock, he knew that this would be far more binding.

And Johnny did. Hard. Unrelenting.

Possessive.

Hot liquid splattered on Bobby's belly and chest and some crazy, unconscious part of his mind decided to freeze it. Johnny broke the kiss, maneuvering so he was pressed against Bobby's side. He surveyed the icy mess before declaring, "Damn, that is so fucking hot."

Bobby blinked, stunned at the words. Then Johnny gently pried one of the frozen disks from his chest, held it on his fingertip, and then presented it to Bobby like a communion wafer.

Bobby's reaction was automatic: his mouth opened slightly, his tongue just past his lips as if he were receiving the Sacrament. The parish where he had made his First Communion had kept some pre-Vatican II rituals; accepting the Holy Eucharist on the tongue instead of receiving in hand had been one of them.

Body of Johnny, his mind intoned solemnly, and he knew he was so going to Hell. Really, how was he supposed to confess this particular sin? Because mocking one of the Seven Sacraments using frozen ejaculate had to be one of the big ones.

Johnny placed it on his tongue, watching him intently as he drew it into his mouth, allowed it to melt, and then swallowed. Johnny then kissed him, parting his lips and dueling briefly with his tongue, before moving away and selecting another frozen glob.

The ritual was repeated until the icy mess was gone.

"Fucking amazing," Johnny breathed before he delivered a final thorough kiss. He then pulled up the covers, rolling Bobby on to his side and facing the wall. Johnny then snuggled up against him, his semi-hard dick pressed against Bobby's ass. Johnny murmured quietly, "Fire and Ice and all that shit. You know that, right? You and me. That's how it is."

"Yeah," he said hoping his voice didn't betray the swell of gratitude that hit him. "You and me."

***/// ///***

St. John snapped awake, immediately searching for the clock. He hissed when he read the time: 2:15 a.m. Jubilee was going to totally freak that he was late. She had been terrified after what Bobby had said to her.

Jubilee had never witnessed Bobby's rage, had never been privy to the truly destructive force his lover kept under tight control. Sure, she had teased Bobby and he had responded, but the Mascot had never fucking ever laid the verbal smackdown on her before.

Fuck only knew what punishment Kitty had doled out to Jubilee. He wasn't stupid enough to believe that Miss Mayor would let what happened that afternoon slide.

St. John was sure that Jubilee had already packed her bags, ready to flee the Mansion in the middle of the night rather than face the Professor's disappointment in her failure over handling the situation. His no-show telegraphed an unintentional disregard for dilemma. Her departure would devastate them.

Getting out of bed, however, was going to be a very difficult task. Bobby had curled around him, holding him against his chest with one arm with a leg between his. St. John hoped that Bobby was exhausted; after all, he had passed out after the orgasm, something that he was actually quite proud of. Perhaps that translated into Bobby sleeping heavily and therefore not noticing him leaving.

When he went to move, however, the arms tightened around him.

Shit, he thought. This was the part he hated the most. Usually Bobby didn't challenge him. Usually, Bobby seemed mollified with the "go back to sleep" directive. Even last night, which had been the first time they had ever had a conversation before he left for a rendezvous, he had allowed St. John back in the bed when he had returned.

"Stay," Bobby whispered.

St. John tensed. He supposed it was inevitable that Bobby would ask; Bobby's generosity could only stretch so far. And while St. John was perfectly fine with balancing between Jubilee and Bobby, he had always known the feeling was not mutual with either party. Scott had called him on it once: Trying to keep things even all the time is a pain in the ass. There's no such thing as a continuous 50-50.

A few beats of silence passed before Bobby added brokenly, "Just this once."

It was the first time Bobby had ever asked.

Ever.

Now fully awake, St. John fought down the panic that was rising within. He always knew it would come down to this but he was hoping that a little of the Mansion Magic would maintain the suspension of disbelief, at least when it came to their particular threesome.

He supposed if his soul was a physical part of him, it would be located below his sternum, next to his heart, because that was where the pain was centered. He could feel it-sharp, like the blade that had once dug into his chest.

St. John ran through his options, the ones he had been debating since his relationship with Bobby had turned toward the physical. Sadly, he was still at the same point he had started at: nowhere.

He couldn't betray Jubilee.

He wouldn't lie to Bobby.

It was unfortunate that two of the tenets of his Mansion faith were so equally opposed.

Maybe a compromise would work.

"Fifteen minutes," St. John croaked, because the words were like bile in his mouth. Still, the offer was legit. His usual forays with Jubilee lasted about an hour. Bobby had to see that, right?

The arms around him instantly released, but instead of relief he was supposed to feel, dread curled up in his belly. St. John dared to look over his shoulder.

Bobby's face was expressionless, which scared the shit out of him. It made him babble, "She was freaked out."

A long pause. A cool, assessing gaze. Tonelessly, "She shouldn't have been."

"She was really spazzing," the words tumbled out his mouth, the desperation painfully clear. His statement wasn't a betrayal. Bobby had torn her down verbally like no one else had ever dared to.

"She shouldn't have been."

St. John winced and looked away. He didn't bother with 'You're always preaching about how supposed to be a team, asshole. Surely you guys could have found some way to tell us! ' because he knew Bobby's answer. Jubilee's bravado about being able to handle anything thrown at her had come back to bite them in the ass. Instead, he said guiltily, "I know."

There was no answer to that. What the fuck else should he say? Jubilee was probably going to bolt from the Mansion?

Hell, Bobby would probably hand her a train schedule.

St. John sighed. He really didn't have an option. "I promised her," St. John said quietly, hoping that at least Bobby recognized that he didn't break his promises. Well, not that often. Really, never to him. But he could offer one thing that would, perhaps, makes things easier, a little cleaner. "Just this last time."

When there was no immediate reply, he dared to meet Bobby's gaze. There was a cruel glint, one that months ago St. John would have sworn his lover did not possess. The skin against his was disturbingly even, the room temperature frighteningly normal. Lips that he had kissed just hours ago curved slightly into a sickening half-smile. "Let me guess," Bobby said, tone cool and detached as he nodded ever so slightly. "Anything friendly."

St. John's breath caught and his stomach immediately soured; he nearly fell out of bed.

He wanted to beg for Bobby to forgive him, to explain that he did not want to lose what they had together, that it was really everything important to him. He wanted to explain that "anything friendly" had been an explanation when he had been asked how Jubilee fit in to Fire/Ice and he hadn't known where they really stood with each other. Before things had changed.

That - swear to God and all those other deities - he was not dating Jubilee in any capacity. He was just protecting her from unwanted attention because of what some asshole had done to her two years ago.

St. John tried to form the words, but they came out as embarrassingly breathless stuttered squawks. You don't beg and you're not the oath-swearing type, his mind primly reminded him.

Finally, he croaked out, "I'm sorry. Swear to God. I'm sorry."

Bobby's expression didn't change.

It was the first time the Professor's advice had ever failed so miserably.

St. John hung his head as he got out of bed. He quickly dressed, making sure to palm the Tic Tacs he kept next to his lighter. It wasn't as if the conversation was going to last long; he began scripting it as he buckled his belt then tied his shoes.

"Lee-Lee, everything's fucked up. You know it. So you deal with Kitty, I deal with Bobby. And none of this 'leaving the Mansion' shit because I will hunt your skinny ass down and drag you back here. Got it?"

"I ain't leaving, Flame Boy, so tell Popsicle his fantasy is a no-go. But tomorrow night, then?"

"We can't, Lee-Lee. Things have changed. It's all of us, now. Not just you and me. And for fuck's sake, will you
finally stop smoking?"

He walked to the door, twisted the handle, but looked over his shoulder one last time. Bobby was still watching him, which he hoped was a good sign. He repeated quietly, "Fifteen minutes. I swear. Last time."

"Whatever, John," Bobby said dismissively and promptly rolled over, tugging the sheets up to his shoulder.

His stomach lurched and he clutched the knob tighter. It just wasn't fair.

Then, the practical side of St. John finally kicked in. If he couldn't salvage that relationship this evening, perhaps he had a shot with Jubilee. He had to keep her from leaving. Shit. Maybe the Powers would respect that part of it, because he certainly knew that there were going to be meeting and discussions about what had happened.

He dashed down the hallway and stairs to the first floor making the least sound possible; he was skilled at moving through the Mansion quickly and quietly. The last thing he wanted was a Q&A. Mutants were a nosey bunch, especially those with powers suited to eavesdropping.

Down the corridor, through the Rec Room. Surprisingly no one was up at this hour given the day's events. Then again, one of the kids had shorted out the TV. Maybe Scott would finally get that flat screen TV he apparently had been lusting over; St. John had seen the ads in his office.

St. John pushed on the swing door between the hall and the kitchen, with his eyes on the door that lead out to the gazebo.

"She is not out there," a deep, accented voice called out.

St. John spun around towards the voice, losing his balance and slamming hard against the kitchen island. He snarled, "What the fuck!"

His eyes then adjusted to the lighting and he saw Piotr sitting at the small table next to the bay window, holding a steaming mug. He picked up the distinct aroma of coffee.

When there was no immediate answer, St. John snapped again. "What the fuck, Piotr?"

"I said, she is not there," Piotr repeated tiredly before taking a long drink from the mug. "She is with Katya." The unspoken where she should be hung in the air.

St. John's mouth went dry, his nerves flaring up again. He immediately understood that Piotr had been waiting for him-them really-to come downstairs. That he had probably predicted St. John's and Jubilee's reactions. That Piotr had staked out a spot in the kitchen to deliver the clue-by-four, Colossus-style, to both of them.

He was their de facto mediator, after all, the one who managed the peace between the parties. And, fucking hell and all that shit, four kiddies in his room for hours on end apparently hadn't been torture enough. This was the second part to his penance.

St. John didn't pick up on any burnt smells, which would have been a sure sign that Jubilee had been there first. It made St. John want to fight, to argue. It made him want to get off a shot about how telepathy wasn't Piotr's secondary mutation, how the Russian could go fuck himself because he had no goddamned clue what was going on. Not with what he was dealing with:

Trying to juggle two relationships and realizing that he didn't possess that particular talent.

That he had just royally fucked up his relationship with Bobby out of loyalty to Jubilee.

That he was in a no-win situation. And if Piotr dared to quote Star Trek by saying 'Kobayshi Maru', St. John would certainly pull that goddamned flame from the oven and flambé his friend just because he could.

Piotr simply stayed seated at the table, seemingly content to watch St. John stew.

Bastard.

Softly, delicately, and in Russian of all the stupid-assed things, Piotr said, "Go to him."

St. John stared. Mouth-gaping probably because it was the last thing he was expecting. Piotr was supposed to tear him a new one for abandoning Bobby and Kitty this afternoon, not give advice on how to repair damage to a relationship he wasn't even supposed to officially know about.

But since when did Piotr know shit about relationships anyway? One evening with a freaked out Kitty made him an expert?

Piotr then said, again Russian, "Now, St. John."

Right. Fifteen minutes. If St. John left now, he could always claim that he realized what a stupid mistake he was making by going to Jubilee. Bobby would take him back, for sure, because 'sorry' the third and fourth time had a stronger impact.

Christ.

Yet...

"How the fuck do you know anything anyway, Tin Man?" St. John challenged.

Piotr stood and walked to the sink. Rinsing out the mug he said in his native language, "He is Bobby. It is simple."

Which was, of course, another clue-by-four. As complex as St. John's relationships were, he suddenly had clarity about one. After all, once Bobby had decided on the whole boy-boy thing, girl-chasing had been eliminated from the equation. Girls flirted with Bobby all the time, but the Mascot rarely reciprocated, instead making stupid little quips that diverted their attention elsewhere.

Simple, Piotr had said.

Just what the fuck kind of comment was that?

Then, a memory flashed in his mind, back to the first time Piotr had shared his vodka with him. Piotr's statement came back vividly: He seeks your company. You seek his. He courts your laugh. You cajole for his smile. He is protective of you as you are of him. It is beyond Fire and Ice, tovarisch.

His friend had known back then, before things had gone from verbal to physical. Before Bobby had kissed him the first time. Back when his relationship with Bobby was based solely on one terrifying, near-death experience.

"Go to him," Piotr now told him, this time in English. It was said in a tone that brokered no argument. "Now."

St. John obeyed.

***///***

Bobby wasn't sure why he had let Johnny back into his bed after his admittedly brief sojourn. By all rights, he should have turned the room positively frigid and let his roommate stew about just what would happen when the Professor, Jean and Scott returned tomorrow. He should have simply let Johnny worry about the political ramifications of everything that had happened and that social positions within the Mansion were tenuous at best.

But hearing Johnny's blurted apology upon returning had stopped whatever cruelty he had been harboring. Bobby knew that particular tone. He immediately realized what had been going through Johnny's head when they had woken up. Grudgingly, he accepted why Johnny had insisted earlier on meeting up with Jubilee.

But he knew that she hadn't fled the Mansion, otherwise Johnny wouldn't have started kissing him once in his bed.

Disappointment bubbled up, but Bobby forced it back down. If she left, then Johnny would leave. He'd always known that. Jubilee still at the Mansion meant he could still have Johnny.

But timeshares were supposed to be for condos, not for boyfriends.

Just when, Bobby wondered to himself, did he start to think of Johnny in those terms?

Now, Johnny mimicked his actions from earlier that night. A kiss followed by gentle nips and laps of his lips, jaw, earlobe and throat. Hands caressed his shoulders, sides and flank. It was a seduction, no doubt, and Johnny knew just where to places those rousing touches. Bobby felt himself growing hard as Johnny thumbed his hipbone before sliding his hand to cup his ass.

Apology by intimacy, however, suddenly struck a nerve.

The nagging thought that Johnny was simply doing this to retain his position at the Mansion, to keep his home, hit hard. God, how stupid had he been for thinking all this sex was somehow mutual? Johnny was just doing this to placate the Mascot, doing it out of obligation for all those post-nightmare hours...

Bobby wanted to say, "You don't have to do this," but the words caught somewhere in his throat. Instead, he rolled on top of Johnny. He was stronger, easily pinning John down by the hips and shoulders, and effectively stopped everything. Their dicks were pressed together and Johnny groaned, trying fruitlessly to thrust.

Johnny would want to make this one last-Round Two was rarely rushed-but Bobby was expected to be downstairs by 7:15 for breakfast, all chipper and gung-ho about the welcome home party. The ice sculptures were going to take a lot of time and energy. Bobby was exhausted as it was, and he wanted them to be perfect. Plus, maybe getting some sleep would help reset everything in his mind.

After all, it had always worked in the past.

"It's late," he whispered.

"Make you feel so good," Johnny countered, tone seductive and inviting.

Yet the offer made Bobby recall when Johnny had punched the crap out of him at 7 a.m. after a particularly bad nightmare. Made him remember those awful accusations about why he had been in Johnny's bed to begin with, about getting off so he could tell Scott later or even worse, the Professor. Made him wonder if those words had masked Johnny's fears...

Don't think about it! he told himself firmly, but doubt had locked on to his heart and refused to let go. He pressed his temple to Johnny's and intentionally lowered his body temperature. He repeated, "It's late."

Johnny immediately stilled. They breathed quietly, in unison, for several moments before the positively meek, "I'm sorry" spilled from Johnny's mouth.

That was apology number twelve, which Bobby guessed was a personal record for the unrepentant Mansion Bad Ass. But maybe Johnny had been thrust into a role, much like Piotr and himself, where a first impression had developed into an identity.

Piotr had missed his family so badly that being the Big Brother had been the only way to get through those first few months. And Bobby had been so thrilled to be someplace where he was accepted as is, that he always tried to help the new kids feel the freedom that the Mansion provided.

"I know," Bobby replied simply. He remembered Johnny's confessions those months ago about how he didn't know how to trust, how to survive in a place like this. He thought about how Johnny probably wanted everything, because he had nothing before, and how positively scared he was about losing the little piece of life he had carved out here.

Who the fuck was he to take that away from Johnny?

"Bobby..."

Yet, if he didn't put a stop to it now, they would go on all night. He made his breath frost against Johnny's cheek, the surefire way of making Johnny retreat to the safety of his own bed. It was a dirty trick to use, but it was the only solution that made sense. Still, he offered the excuse, "Control's off."

Johnny shivered before chattering softly, "You and me..." The pause was painful. Bobby knew he winced. "We're... we're okay, right?"

The words were heavy on his tongue, but he knew he had to say them. They were a team, after all. "Fire and Ice. You know that, Johnny. You and me."

He barely heard the next question, the words themselves unimportant.

Bobby responded regardless. "Always."



Thanks to...

talktooloose who carved out time for quite a few versions of this story and really pushed me to make it more streamlined. Your critiques helped pull together this final version. mikhale for an honest assessment of the two versions and how to combine them. taral for also putting up with two different versions, despite a busy schedule. onomatopoetry, as always, for giving FDoE a home.



Part fifteen: Charcoal or Leave Feedback