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R, profanity. X1, Piotr (Piotr/Kitty, Bobby/John, Jubilee, Rogue).

Piotr's comments on the fallouts and changes after the Senate Subcommittee hearings and meeting "The New Girl" in the process.

Notes: Events run concurrent to and immediately after the FDoE installment Walking Through Walls as well as during X1. Written in the 100's Series format, I tried to keep the sections to 100 words. Told from Piotr's POV.

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, and Rogue's first encounter with Mystique..

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.

"Piotr?" Storm calls out. She is one of the few who uses my given name.

I immediately stop and turn. The children around me pause; we are on our way to the Rec Room for Jean's Senate speech on CSPAN and they are anxious. I wave them on, nodding at Sam and Neal to help herd them.

Bobby would offer a lie about finally being allowed into Scott's office to decorate in order to ease the children's fears. I don't care for such things, but understand why he does.

He is a protector, like me. His methods are simply different.

***///***

When Storm warns me that Senator Kelley will expose Katya during the hearings, I am stunned.

"You have told her already, da?" I demand, crossing my arms. The adults play too much cat and mouse with information. Sometimes, I wonder what the real difference is between my life before the Mansion and now, besides a school education and the absence of guns.

"I'm okay, Piotr," Kayta says, but her voice catches. She had been partially-phased into the bookcase, which is why I hadn't seen her.

I hold out my hand; she flings her arms around me.

We will be strong.

***///***

In the aftermath of Jean's presentation on CSPAN, Bobby is abandoned by Jubilee and John to deal with the kids. I do nothing; my priorities are with Katya.

The real drama between those three happens away from the public thanks to John's acquiescence to Jubilee's anger and Bobby's awareness of repercussions from center-stage arguments. The rest of the Mansion is aware that something has occurred; afterwards, Jubilee is simply too chipper and John trails after Bobby yet carefully keeps his distance.

However, the kids are more focused on Katya and me because "we" have finally happened.

I wonder if this is a good way to start.

***///***

After the long, discussion-filled dinner, I ask Katya to join me for a walk. She readily accepts; it is a chance for privacy. She wraps her arm around mine and holds my hand tightly.

We arrive at the gazebo. Softly, she says, "I think Jubilee may run away tonight. I don't know what Bobby said to her, but I think she's afraid of what we'll tell the Professor."

"She is not that foolish," I assure her. I don't add that there is no Jubilee without John, and John will not allow her to throw away the life they have here.

***///***

When Jubilee bursts into the kitchen at 2 a.m., I simply say, "You are being dramatic."

She hates being called on her behavior. She grips her duffle tightly. "The hell you know, Tin Man."

"I bet Frosty lost his temper and his words hit too close to home."

Jubilee's eyes widen; her lips purse tightly.

I continue, "I bet John couldn't find soothing words for you this afternoon. I bet Katya cried as you packed." I set the mug down. "I bet you wondered why she did not stop you." I meet her gaze. "I bet she knew I would."

***///***

John is easier to deal with. Our dialogue is simple, crisp. The joy of conversations with him is that they are artistic in their minimalism. Bonus: his Russian continues to improve.

John rallies, but I dismiss his words. I'm tired. I want to tell him that he's an idiot. Threesomes work fine as long as no one gets jealous, but Jubilee and Bobby are both possessive. Bobby is simply less overt; he is a private person.

However, John will not tolerate my attempt at explaining the situation, so I say, "Go to him."

He does.

Maybe things will work out.

***///***

We are all on edge the next morning, beyond our usual half-awake tetchiness. To the rest of the Mansion, we are the same. Yet within our circle, rapid-fire concessions are made. Jubilee and John strive for the equilibrium as an offering to Bobby and Katya.

Twinkies and strawberries are their respective peace offerings.

I am still exhausted. When the Professor returns, I will be asked questions that I must answer. I dread my responses because I feel they are betrayals. Bobby is not the only one held to higher standards than the rest.

Katya's hand is warm on my thigh.

***///***

The Welcome Home party is festive and precisely what we need to calm everyone down. Scott dances with Jean and the girls 'ooh' over the perfect couple. Dani and Neal join them for the second song, so I offer my hand to Katya even though I am clumsy at this.

It does not matter. Katya is a phenomenal dancer.

Jubilee tugs John's arm, trying to get him to join us, but Bobby shoos her away. I nearly stumble as Bobby gallantly twirls John onto the dance floor. Everyone thinks is a huge joke.

For Bobby, I know it is not.

***///***

The next morning, Xavier asks for my assessment. I am blunt; he expects no less. "Katya was strong; Jubilee was weak. John acquiesced to Jubilee; Frosty kept the peace."

"This is only the beginning," Xavier says quietly.

I wonder why he confides in me, what his purpose really is. I am the eldest of the current students, the one with the most experience. I think of my family. It prompts me to say, "They are too young."

Xavier looks at me sharply.

I hold my ground. I have always known my place. "They wish to be children here, not adults."

***///***

I know the answer, yet I still ask. Bobby would be insulted if I didn't, angry that I failed to 'consult' him.

"Of course, I'm okay with you and Kat," he exclaims with that 'whatever' dismissive tone. "Why wouldn't I be? Geez!"

I know Bobby is not lying about his feelings regarding the new, romantic direction of my relationship with Katya. However, I understand that he is not okay with how it changes our group dynamic, how he's now the only single in our group.

In public, anyway.

Couples go on dates with other couples, not with other couples plus odd man out.

***///***

It is early Monday and, surprisingly, Bobby joins me for my morning jog despite his public claims that he is allergic to exercise.

Halfway around the lake, Bobby suddenly runs down a list of Katya's likes and dislikes. Of course, I already know most of them but I am amused and honored he feels the need to share them with me. I dismiss the notion he had intentions on Katya; I believe that sometimes Bobby's greatest joy is seeing others happy.

I wish to see him happy, but given current circumstances, that is doubtful.

That requires John making a decision.

***///***

The Tuesday lunch discussion quickly turns to our plans for the upcoming weekend. It is the conversation I am dreading, because it will test our new dynamic.

"You guys are on your own," Bobby says, chomping an apple. "I'm on the Boston 5:45 on Friday." He even sounds cheerful about it.

Anger and protectiveness flash in John's eyes; clearly, he was not privy to the information beforehand. He taunts, "What's the special occasion?" since Bobby's trips home are always event-driven.

"Uh, visiting my folks?" Bobby's tone is light, as if stating the obvious. "Anything else, Grand Inquisitor?"

Quickly, I change subjects.

***///***

John and Bobby's argument is grotesque in volume and content. At least they chose a secluded spot -- the Vodka Grotto -- and a time that they will not be missed too much -- after dinner.

It was not my intention to be a witness, but the Professor called an impromptu advanced practice. Upon hearing their verbal exchanges, I understand why he sent me.

Still, I resent it.

"... fucking martyr!" John snarls.

There is a split-second pause followed by a hard thud. I rush forward to find John sprawled on the ground, dazed and bleeding.

Bobby glowers, fist clenched.

***///***

Despite his swollen jaw, John contemptuously dismisses all the concerned stares; he wears the darkening bruise like a badge of honor. He meets Scott's gaze. "Me and Bobby had some personal differences to resolve."

Bobby's remorse clearly shows on his face. He usually controls his temper ferociously, fearful that in his rage, his powers will injure. It's one of the few things he has confessed to me.

Jubilee whistles, inspecting the damage. "Nice one, Drake."

He glares at her angrily and I wish, as usual, the drama between them would stop. That she would stop. I wonder what she hopes to accomplish.

***///***

Bobby joins me for vodka later that night, alone. John's absence clearly indicates the severity of their rift. I know Bobby doesn't want to bring his problems to me but where else does he have to go?

"Things are screwed up with my parents," Bobby finally admits, voice dull. "It's been like that since Brandon died and now Ronnie's off doing some stupid wannabe gang shit. I'm just trying to... dunno..." He slides his glass towards me. "Maybe going home just to go home will help." He offers a grim smile. "Plus, how the fuck are you supposed to have a date with five people?"

***///***

Bobby and John do not speak publicly Thursday or Friday. The Mansion knows they had a fight; John's bruise stuns them all. Bobby isn't supposed to be violent.

I don't attempt to make them reconcile. They would both resent it. However, I do invite John for vodka on Friday night. He rants about how much he hates Bobby's parents and how Bobby's generosity is annoyingly stupid.

I refuse to pour the fifth round. John glares at me. I say flatly, "They are still his family. You hate yours. He doesn't. That's the difference. This timing is just a coincidence."

***///***

Early Saturday afternoon, I am sketching one of the fountains for my college portfolio. Vanity says "full scholarship" while self-doubt counters, "hack".

John arrives, journal tucked under his arm, and sits next to me. We do not speak; he begins to write and I continue with charcoal. I envy his pen, knowing Xavier selected it.

I have never received such a gift.

He is still angry about last night, as always when my comments are bluntly honest. As much as he despises Bobby's family, I know he is desperate for one of his own. A more traditional family, that is. However, John's presence is his way of acknowledging and accepting what I said last night.

I wonder what he writes about.

***///***

The Big Date is near-disastrous. No one enjoys the art museum Katya painstakingly selected. John's distracted, fiddling constantly with the ill-fitting jacket and tie Jubilee has selected from Bobby's closet.

Jubilee is upset because John's attention is elsewhere.

I simply dislike the art; it is too modern for my taste. I keep that opinion to myself.

The restaurant is worse; Russian cuisine is not for everyone. Katya wears my jacket to cover the borscht stain on her dress. I pull her close and she melts against me. Jubilee's envious gaze isn't surprising.

Perhaps she finally accepts Bobby holds John's heart.

***///***

As I finish the second set of hammer curls, Scott enters the weight room in full X-Men attire. Clearly, it's not his idea to be here at 7 a.m.; he is clutching a large travel mug and fighting back a yawn. Sunday is the only day Scott sleeps in.

For a moment, I think he will ask me to join them; I am the only student who has been fitted for a uniform. Bobby's absence will make the explanations much easier.

Instead, I am tossed car keys.

"Bobby. Train station. Ten a.m." Few know how impolite a half-awake Scott is.

***///***

The Professor's telepathic briefing is more formal. Cyclops, Storm and Jean are traveling to Canada for the mutant that Xavier has located. It is the man he has been searching for since returning from Washington, spending long hours in Cerebro.

I know the new person is extremely important by the words Xavier uses: keystone, catalyst. His tone is guarded, tight, and cool, which is a sharp contrast to his usual psychic messages.

This will change us all, Xavier concludes, but I dismiss the ominous tone.

No explanation is given for Bobby returning unusually early from Boston.

***///***

Clearly, Bobby is expecting Scott at the station, because the desperate hopefulness and expectation on his face vanishes. I watch helplessly as his emotions shift inward.

Why does he not trust me? How many times do I have to say that I will not judge?

I wait until we are on the road in Scott's prized sports car to explain, "There was a mission."

He nods faintly, but refuses to talk. I want to pull the car to the curb, haul Bobby out, and shake him as I shout he can confide in me.

Instead, I endure the bitter cold.

***///***

The X-Jet excitement has most of the kids downstairs, devouring breakfast and chatting about "The Mission". They declare they can't wait to be X-Men. Bobby and I navigate the Mansion with ease, arriving at the boy's dorm without being noticed.

Bobby suddenly ices up as we step on the second floor landing. I realize that he doesn't want to face John, because whatever happened in Boston must be directly related to their earlier argument.

I place my hand on his shoulder. "Center yourself."

He shifts back, embarrassed, and shakes off my grip. "I'm fine, dammit."

His lie hurts more than I expect.

***///***

As the X-Jet powers down, I enter the hanger, grabbing the wheel stops from the shelf, and head over. I am the only student allowed here pre- or post-missions. Steel skin means I'm less likely to be injured. Also, I'm the only one strong enough to lift the refueling hoses solo.

The ramp lowers as I secure the landing gear; it will be another five minutes until I can finish the post-flight check.

I wonder how to list these talents on my resume.

I ignore the bloodied man on the stretcher, because the girl halfway down the ramp is an unexpected addition.

***///***

It's the first time since I have been involved that they have brought in a "two-fer", but the girl is not their primary concern.

Uncontrollable, passive abilities, Xavier sends via telepathy, but it's an afterthought. Later on, they will realize their mistake, not focusing on the girl with malleable powers.

Now, however, I'm expected to orchestrate an acceptance among peers. My team -- Kitty and Jubilee -- has been pre-selected by Xavier and they arrive in the subbasement giddy with excitement.

They love newcomers.

The new girl, however, twists in her chair and desperately looks for a way to escape.

***///***

The girl's muted Southern drawl answers a lot of unspoken questions. Why she is uneasy around Storm. Why she stares just a bit too long at me and Jubilee. Why her eyes seem focused on Kitty's Star of David pendant. I hate stereotypes, but the girl -- Rogue, she quickly announces before eyeing the tray of biscuits hungrily -- seems the embodiment of Southern bigotry.

Jubilee throws her arm around Rogue's shoulder, and asks, "So what's the deal, girlfriend?"

If Rogue could plaster herself against the wall, she would have. Jubilee immediately retreats, granting personal space.

Rogue says, "I put people in comas."

***///***

Kudos to Xavier for knowing Jubilee will do anything to make sure Rogue fits in at the Mansion. It is Jubilee's Second Chance to prove herself, to thank the man who pulled her off the streets.

I hate the tactic.

However, Rogue rebuffs her. It's painful to watch; I have never seen Jubilee so earnest.

Regardless, I'm disgustingly sweaty from working, so I head upstairs for a shower. The kids begin peppering me with questions, but John viciously fends them off.

I am grateful, but also realize what the price is. Bobby is suspiciously absent, and John's trolling for information.

***///***

I should feel more self-conscious about showering while carrying on a conversation. I've grown used to it over the years, since the boys here seem to believe the bathroom is the best place to have a private talk.

However, it's the first time John has ever done it, so I know the situation is very bad. The questions and answers are concise and are in Russian.

"Did he say anything to you?"

"No. You?"

Harshly, "No."

Anger hits me square in the chest. What is so awful that Bobby must hide it from us? Perhaps he will tell John tonight.

***///***

Dinner is stressful despite Xavier and Scott presiding over the meal. Katya and Jubilee are still with Rogue; Storm brings them supper while Jean tends to the injured man. The kids barely register their absence.

Bobby is pale, shaky, but John cajoles him to eat four bites of chicken and three of plain rice. It's a side of John I have never witnessed. He passes the rest to me, giving the illusion of Bobby's healthy appetite.

I doubt whatever happened in Boston will be fully explained to anyone except Xavier, and that only by virtue of powers.

I wish Bobby would trust me more.

***///***

I catch Jubilee's expression as she pauses at the door to the Rec Room. She's defeated -- I wonder how Rogue accomplished that -- yet Jubilee takes a deep breath, much like a diver before jumping off the board. She cheerily bursts into the room.

Bobby clutches John, pulling him closer as if he is the only thing keeping Bobby calm. The other kids miss it, too focused on Iron Chef's Morimoto putting a spike through an eel.

Jubilee wedges herself between them. Bobby recoils immediately. The hurt is clear in his eyes.

John does nothing.

He is a fool.

***///***

I sketch the John/Jubilee/Bobby couch scene later that night. I keep a separate portfolio for intimate portrait work, one away from prying eyes.

I hope it remains private.

These are the moments that my subjects are the most vulnerable, the images that stay in my mind long after the events occurred. I doubt they would appreciate it, automatically concluding the worst.

I should be more surprised over the number I have of Bobby. I have never asked Xavier why; given his powers, it would be easy for him to say.

Perhaps I am hoping to divine the truth about Bobby.

***///***

By breakfast, Bobby has 'reset' himself. There really is no other way to describe it. As miserable as he was yesterday, he is back to being the cheerful, playful Mascot.

It drives me insane. I know John is not happy about it either, especially by his surliness this morning.

Yet Bobby is teasing him, a rarity. He is the only one who dares poke fun at him; the other boys are too scared of John. Outside of Storm's classroom, Bobby wraps him in a headlock and gives him a noogie.

I keep my laughter to myself. Perhaps there is hope.

***///***

I don't witness the first exchange between Bobby and Rogue. Between classes, Katya tells me that Bobby pulled out all the stops, including getting John to create a ball of flame and him freezing it solid. Bobby even said, "Welcome to Mutant High."

I should be happy that Bobby succeeded where Jubilee had failed, making Rogue feel welcome at the Mansion. It was my "mission" after all and our team did well.

However, dread curls up in my belly as I watch Bobby flash a wide grin as he offers to take Rogue on the Mansion tour.

John watches curiously.

***///***

The moment Bobby walks into the dining room with Rogue, the kids take notice. Rogue is The New Girl, automatically the center of attention. Who is she? What are her powers? What happened? It had to be serious because the X-Men rescued her in the X-Jet! Only two other kids can claim that distinction.

Bobby's presence stirs even more interest. He flirts with Rogue with practiced ease, something the residents have never really witnessed.

The cynical side of me appreciates the irony, the logical understands the inevitability, but the romantic is thoroughly disheartened.

Rogue is Bobby's answer to John's Jubilee.

***///***

At first, I wondered why John seemed unconcerned about Bobby's overt interest in Rogue. Surely, he saw what Bobby was trying to do. He couldn't be that foolish, thinking things will remain unchanged.

Then, I meet Logan. I watch Rogue react to Logan. I understand John's indifference, especially after Logan has a nightmare and stabs Rogue, she steals his power, and Logan almost dies.

John has probably come to the same conclusion I do: Rogue won't be here for long.

It's a harsh assessment, but one made with the understanding that not every kid can handle life at the Mansion.

***///***

True to our predictions, Rogue flees the Mansion, although using one's powers against another is something that simply happens. We do not have perfect control, especially in life/death situations.

Instinct is an incredibly strong thing.

Bobby is devastated, especially after hearing he is supposedly the last person to speak to Rogue.

"But I was with John!" Bobby nearly shouts as Scott delivers the news to the five of us. "Why would I have...?"

"It wasn't Bobby," John interrupts flatly, defiantly wiping the side of his mouth. I'm stunned by the gesture; everyone misses it except our Fearless Leader.

"I believe you, Bobby," Scott says.

***///***

The next few days are nightmarish. We are attacked at our core; Xavier is in a coma. My and Dani's teams hold down the Mansion while the X-Men are away; John and I take turns watching over an unconscious Xavier.

When the adults return, Logan is injured again and Rogue has a white forelock.

Everything has radically changed. Although the security systems are upgraded, I tell the Powers I don't believe that they are good enough, especially since we were infiltrated by a shapeshifter.

They dismiss my concerns as paranoia.

They don't have to share a bedroom with five scared boys.

***///***

What plays out next are love triangles of horrific proportions. Katya and I watch from the sidelines, both unwilling to join in the fray. We are not cowards; we simply know that we will only add to the mess.

First, there is Scott/Jean/Logan. I witness Scott's possessiveness over Jean and cheer for him.

Sue me. I want the good guy to win.

T hen, Logan/Jean/Rogue. This is more intriguing, since Rogue is the only real participant.

Next, Rogue/Bobby/John. John is wary but does nothing. Bobby is focused on making Rogue smile.

Finally, Bobby/John/Jubilee.

I watch that die.

***///***

We are all a mess, there is no doubt. Even with Logan's departure, there is still Rogue. She is different from that first day; near-death experiences do that. However, I know that her personality change is mostly due to her powers.

I wonder why Xavier tells me.

I debate whom I should confide in.

I hate being in this position. All I see are broken hearts and 20-20 hindsight. If only John had made a decision earlier, claimed Bobby in some overt way, we could have avoided this.

I am to blame. I chose not to push.

I have failed them both.

///***Finis***///



Thanks to...

talktooloose for pushing for cohesiveness and clarity. taral for enduring the early version of the story. onomatopoetry, as always, for giving FDoE a home.



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