(R, profanity and sexual situations, Post-X1 (Bobby/John, Bobby/Rogue)).

The pending arrival of Paige Guthrie causes unexpected commotion.

Notes: 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 is one of Xavier's original students (along with Jean, Scott, and Ro) while Jamie Maddrox is a current student, Bobby's contemporary.

I doubt that Xavier would hand out the codes to the subbasement to the kids just to practice powers whenever, especially if Good Parents wanted to see the practice facilities. For me, that type of revelation is up there with Tim Burton's first Batman movie in which Alfred Pennyworth shows Vicki Vale the Batcave. It just didn't make sense to me. Just as there is the Infirmary (upper levels) and the MedLab (subbasement) for medical treatment, I've opted to create a separate 'practice' area. Think of it as the first incarnation of the Danger Room.

VERSION: Completed November 2007. Revised November 2008.


St. John wasn't sure why he was out in the gazebo at 2 a.m. Sure, earlier in the day, there had been the explosion of excitement over Sam Guthrie's sister now having powers and how she was due at the Mansion in three days. Yes, he had watched how the residents' initial enthusiasm had slowly turned into worry. However, Jubilee insisting on meeting him in the middle of the night so she could give him the lowdown on the girls' reactions? It sounded so fucking lame.

What the hell was the big deal?

"First sib to have Powers," Jubilee informed him as she plopped down next to him. A spark danced precariously on her fingertip followed by a series of mini-fireworks popping over their heads. "So of course the kiddies are gonna freak because, well damn, what if their bro or sis has powers, too? Hel-lo! Not everyone has parents like Popsicle and Kit-Kat!" She then rattled off which girls were scared about what.

St. John stared at his feet, uninterested. He wasn't the hand-holding type. If these idiots didn't realize that the Professor was already looking out for them, it was their problem. It was the kiddies' responsibility -- definitely not his -- to kneel before the old man and beg that their families be added to the list of people scanned via Cerebro.

Of all the stupid things, his palms itched because he'd promised Bobby he'd never meet up with Jubilee again at night. It had been an oath he'd made after a particularly difficult evening, and one he had kept up until now. Then, a scene from earlier that day popped into his mind: Rogue strolling into the cafeteria, arm linked tightly with Bobby's. For a girl who supposedly was terrified to touch anyone or anything, she certainly seemed unafraid of Bobby's presence.

The biggest problem? Bobby didn't understand that she just didn't fit in with the rest of them.

Jubilee flat out hated Rogue, but for reasons unknown to St. John, she behaved somewhat civilly around her in public. Kitty wasn't too keen about Rogue either but never admitted it aloud; St. John only knew it had something to do with Kitty and Magneto both being Jewish. Piotr remained quietly neutral about the issue, which was far more damning than if he had declared she was wasting his oxygen. St. John simply did not put up with people who constantly threw pity-parties for themselves because of their powers.

Yet, Rogue had effectively wormed her way into Bobby's circle of protection, which granted her automatic social status. She would sit next to him in class, track him down after practice and join him for meals, but still somehow made it look like it was Bobby who was courting her. Just two days ago, Maddrox had commented how much it would suck to have an untouchable girlfriend.

St. John hated it. He'd earned Bobby outright and was angry that he had to share. He'd cultivated a friendship, developed an understanding, and - most of all - gained a boyfriend… lover? It was complex and confusing, yet he coveted it all the same. Perhaps it was because it was a pain in the ass to deal with that made him want to fight for it more. Although St. John hadn't been quite sure what his relationship with Bobby was, it was even more messed up now that Rogue was in the mix.

This afternoon, Jubilee had picked the moment Bobby and Rogue entered the dining hall to quietly ask St. John to meet her tonight -- calculating bitch but props for reading him so fucking well -- and he had agreed without hesitation.

Now, nervousness began curdling his belly. If only he'd woken Bobby before he had left, to tell him where he was going and why, maybe he wouldn't feel so damned guilty. His mind countered with: You're such a pussy. Asking for permission. Just how fucking lame is that? Even more than meeting your best friend in secret at 2 a.m.!

"Yo!" Jubilee smacked the back of his head.

St. John's reaction was swift, automatic: he grabbed her wrist, sliding his thumb to a pressure point, and twisted her arm. In that position, he could probably break something. Scott had taught him that trick in self-defense class and he was momentarily stunned that all that repetition actually paid off.

Jubilee glared at him as a spark sizzled squarely on his bicep. "Let the fuck go, Jet Li."

The spark stung and he released her, rubbing his arm and being thankful she didn't aim for his balls. Perhaps at his next session, St. John would mention to Scott that kung-fu was well and good against humans and those mutants without kick-ass Powers on Demand. It was useless against those who could dial up their abilities like Jubilee and Piotr. Scott would probably give that half-grin, clap him on the shoulder, and say oh-so-nonchalantly, "That's why you should know your opponent. Oh, and think before you act."


Jubilee rubbed her wrist a little, muttering something in Cantonese, before saying, "This shit is serious, babe."

He rolled his eyes. In the grand scheme of things, having hard evidence that there could be more than one mutant in the family wasn't earth-shattering.

The arrival of two mutants via the X-Jet, one of whom had been hurt bad enough to merit a few nights in the sub-basement's med lab and the other who could drain powers with her touch? That definitely qualified as a 'meet in the gazebo at 2 a.m.' rendezvous. Too bad they didn't.

If they had, things would be much different. St. John was sure of it.

"The fuck?" Jubilee said suddenly and then whacked his arm before pointing towards the second floor boy's dorm. St. John looked up to where she was indicating. "See? I fucking told you this is important!"

Lights came on in several of the rooms, starting with Piotr's, followed by the room shared by Guthrie and Shaara, and then almost the whole floor. It was the classic reaction to someone waking up screaming from a nightmare. He and Jubilee had witnessed several before, from both the boy's and the girl's sides. They both knew the last light to come on was always the room of the person having the nightmare.

St. John's stomach twisted as he stared at the last darkened room: the one he shared with Bobby.

"Mother-goddamned-fucker," he growled through gritted teeth as the light finally came on. The Elite, especially the Mansion Mascot, didn't have bad dreams that woke up the entire floor. Worse, any hope of sneaking back unnoticed was absolutely shot. He imagined the argument and how he would plead for understanding, explaining that he was simply being proactive about the situation just like Scott tried to drill in to them. However, he was certain Bobby wouldn't accept that answer. Bobby was never particularly rational when it came to Jubilee-related things.

He glanced back at Jubilee, daring her to make a snide comment. Instead, her lips were pursed and she looked genuinely concerned. St. John took off towards the Mansion, knowing he was a dead man upon arrival at his room.


Bobby sits with his family in their living room, each in their typical 'family discussion' spots. His mother is on the L-shaped couch, nervously gripping a cup of Lipton tea. A cushion separates her from his younger brother, Ronnie, who is hunched down, arms crossed. His father occupies the armchair that faces where Bobby is sitting on the other arm of the L.

He feels like he's invisible to them and then realizes he always feels that way when there is a family discussion that doesn't focus on him.

"Your father and I have discussed it," his mother declares, but her voice doesn't waver like he expects it to. She's using her 'I don't want to punish you but I have to' tone. "We have decided that this is the only way."

Bobby's stomach tightens as it always does when his mother adopts this attitude. He tries to catch his brother's attention, to signal him or something, but Ronnie is too intent on scowling at the table. Ronnie scowls at everything nowadays.

"It's a special school," she says, as if it is the best thing in the world, but then she blows her nose. The latter is one of her nervous ticks and Bobby wonders if his parents have stock in Kleenex. Still, it's odd because one moment, she's in punishment-mode and the next she's unsettled. "One for children. Like yourself."

Bobby notes the odd set to his father's features, and for the first time, notices the way he bounces his left leg slightly. There's even a hint of sadness in his father's eyes and that's when Bobby sees the tufts of gray at his father's temples.

Suddenly, Bobby blurts out the questions -- the ones that his parents and Ronnie have studiously avoided throughout the conversations -- and they crash through the awkward pauses. "So, what can you do? What's your power? Can you fly like Superman? Do you have x-ray vision? Leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

They are the same ones that every new kid is asked at the Mansion within the first hour of arrival. Bobby supposes he has them memorized by now. New Kid Show and Tell is sometimes the best part of the week.

"No." Ronnie's answer is blunt, not even turning to look at him. Angry. Hostile. Yet beneath all of it, there is the distinctive terror. School is such an intimidating word when it comes to Powers. Bobby wonders if it's every mutant's first fear, that someone wants to train him one way or another.

Train. Control. Fix. To many kids -- including Bobby sometimes -- it means the same thing.

"Jeez, come on. What is it? Aren't you going to show me?" which is the standard reaction to the "no, I'm not telling you about my powers". Bobby can't believe the words are spilling from his mouth, because they are the ones he and Kitty try to shield the arriving student from, at least for the first day.

"Hell no," Ronnie spits out.

"Language!" his mother scolds harshly as her cup clatters against the saucer. "I won't have you using that kind of language in this house!"

The curse is tame; prime-time TV allows cruder words than that. After all his time with Johnny, Bobby considers doesn't even consider it a swear word really. Johnny would have said, 'hell no, you fucking fuck of an asshole' or something like that, but that's Johnny.

Instead, the indifferent "Whatever," is tossed out.

"Listen, young man," his mother's voice becomes shrill, because it always does when she takes over the serious conversations, "as long as you are living in this house-"

"Which won't be much longer," Ronnie snidely points out. It puts his parents even more on the defensive. Bobby can't help but feel a surge of pride mixed with envy, because his kid brother has the balls to be defiant at an age when Bobby had been terrified of their parents.

"We're doing what's best for you," his father says suddenly and awkwardly, which makes Bobby immediately tense up; it sounds like his father is parroting a justification that he doesn't quite believe. His father is usually in charge of situations like this, not his mother.

"The school," his mother intones a bit loudly to force the conversation back on track, "is for young people... like yourself."

"Gifted?" The sarcasm is sharp, vicious. Ronnie's eyes glitter with hatred as he focuses on Bobby.

Bobby's mouth goes dry. He's unable to tease in return, to toss out a playful disarming comment. He's the big brother. The witty one. He's supposed to know all the snappy comebacks. He spouts them off at the Mansion like a stand-up comedian.

"The school's mission is to help children like you." His mother sounds suddenly bright, cheerful, just like the time she had won the election for secretary of the parish council. "Now, we've spoken to the headmaster and some of the other parents. It is a wonderful opportunity."

Finally, the question that all new kids want to know, even if they won't say it aloud: "Can they cure me?" Ronnie asked softly, fearfully, but with a bit of hope.

"Oh!" his mother gasps. She blows her nose twice before taking a sip of tea. She sets her cup down before smiling brightly, "That's what the headmaster promised. A cure." His mother beams.

His father looks off to some point over Bobby's shoulder, as if the painting above the end table behind Bobby catches his interest. Bobby knows how much his father hates the artwork though. His father's words sound carefully chosen, "That's what they say. That's their goal. A cure."

Bobby doesn't know what to make of his father's reaction. Does his old man feel guilt, perhaps?

"What if they can't?" Ronnie whispers.

"Then there is the other option," his mother says with a little gentleness.

It doesn't ease Bobby's nerves; they are on fire, which causes him to blurt out, "What other option?"

His mother is surprised. His father looks away. She says crisply, "Bobby, this isn't the time-"

"Isn't the fucking time?" he challenges, rocketing to his feet. Johnny would have been proud. He notes his mother's paling features; she is unused to him being so defiant. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Robert!" she screeches in a tone two hours ago would have scared him. Now, it makes him sick. "I will not have you--"

"Answer the question," he demands, cutting her off. He crosses his arms, imitating Scott in lecture-mode. Both his parents sit up straighter, clearly shocked by his display of authority. "You're talking about curing a mutant ability! And if it can't be cured, there's something else you going to do? What is it? Damn it, tell me!"

His demand goes unanswered for several beats of silence. Then...

"Surgery." The word is supplied by his father, in that shamed/horrified tone that some of the new kids use when admitting to what they had done in the past. His mother covers her mouth with her hand and refuses to meet Bobby's gaze.

Bobby wants to puke. He knows about the surgical option, how there are so-called "experts" just waiting to make extra cash on potential cures. He remembers his parents talking about it before he had gone away to the Mansion. He remembers their discussion the last time he was here, when his mother talked about Jenny "Glow in the Dark" Iams and how she was okay now. The former honor student had the mental capacity of a five year old, but somehow that was deemed acceptable. It had been the reason Bobby had left the house so early that one Sunday; he couldn't bear to be in the same house with people who thought that way.

Now, Bobby stares incredulously at his mother. "You can't be serious."

"We've done the research, young man!" his mother insists, trying to go for an imperious tone. He can tell that she doesn't want to explain her reasoning to him. "As I said--"

"What can you do, Ronnie?" Bobby interrupts as he looks directly at his brother. Slowly, enunciating every syllable with as much 'please trust me' poured into it as he could, he asks, "What's your power? Fire? Ice? Wind? Making plants grow? Shaking the earth? Blasting stuff? Hearing voices in your head?"

Ronnie only sneers at him. "Quite a fucking catalogue."

"Damn it, what is it?" Bobby demands as he wonders just how the X-Men can intervene and also how he's going to have to count on the Professor to alter his parent's memories like he had done when he had offered Bobby a place at the Mansion. "Tell me, Ronnie. Trust me."

"Trust?" Ronnie jeers. "Why should I? Because you're my brother?"


"You wanna know what my power is?"

"Yes!" Bobby shouts before adding on, "I can help you. You've got to believe me."

"I don't need you're damned help!" Ronnie sneers. "My power? The one Mom and Dad are so desperate to hide?" He lets out a sharp laugh. "You wanna know what it is?"


"Fuck you, Bobby!" Ronnie yells as he bolts to his feet, his hands suddenly glowing a menacing red, "because they're ain't no way you're helping with this!" He thrusts his hands forwards and two solid beams of energy burst from his fingertips.

Bobby immediately ices up and forms a shield with his left hand. His mother shrieks, "My God! My God! Not both of them!!!"

The ice shield shatters and the beams strike Bobby squarely in the chest.


Bobby woke up screaming. He bolted upright in his bed as the tremors and ice poured through him. Gripping the sheets tightly, he exhaled sharply as he fought desperately for control. He felt the solid cold beneath him and knew instantly that he'd frozen his bed.

Shit. If his bed was a block of ice, so was the rest of the room.

The rest of the room was quiet.

A new panic set in, the flavor of which he particularly hated.

"Johnny?" he called out, unable to see clearly in the dark. "JOHNNY!"

No answer.

He hauled himself out of bed, shattering the frozen bed covers. He thudded hard on icy floor, the shards digging into his palms and knees. He yelled the name again, desperate to hear the 'I heard you the first fucking time, shithead' in that sleep-dredged growl. There was only silence.

His nerves spiked as did the nausea. Bobby was unable to regain his balance as he scrabbled across the ice. He still couldn't see well and he didn't understand why. He hollered again as he fell a second time.

Maybe this was a dream within a dream, just like one of those horror films that Jamie loved to watch.

The bedroom door banged open, causing Bobby to flinch, and he felt more of his power escape from him. The flood of light from the hallway blinded him further, and he closed his eyes tightly and shielded his face with his hand. Then he heard Pete's voice. "It is nightmare," but Bobby somehow understood that he wasn't being addressed. "Just like you all have had. Go back to bed. Now."

Shit. That meant there was an audience outside the door. He wondered who or what would kill him first: Johnny, because he was screaming his name like a sissy and calling him Johnny no less, or the humiliation from the whispers tomorrow morning because he had lost control in his sleep. What about Rogue's reaction? Somehow over the past few weeks, her opinion of him especially counted, even though he wasn't too sure why. But she'd have to understand right?

Bad Ass Logan had nightmares, too, Bobby reminded himself. That was how Rogue had almost died that one night. Maybe Pete would remind the other kids.

"Uh… do we need to get Mister Summers?" he heard Sam ask nervously.

They've never seen you ice your bedroom before, Bobby's mind taunted him.

"Nyet," Pete said with that intimidating parental tone.

"But he's uh… a Popsicle," stammered Jamie. Actually, it sounded like several Jamies.

They've never seen the real freak you are. It took everything for Bobby not to make a sound. Maybe the crowd would go away. Maybe they would shrug it off. Maybe if he swore to the Professor that he would dedicate his every moment to the X-Men and saving Mutantkind, the Professor would make everyone forget. The Professor had done it before, erasing memories on his behalf. Maybe--

"I will handle this. You will treat this with the dignity and respect that he has always shown you," Pete ordered sternly. "Understood?"

"Uh. Yeah. Of course," from Sam, Jamie and Neal. "It's Bobby." As if being Bobby Drake explained everything.

Bile seared his throat. They don't know jackshit, do they Bobby boy? If they knew how you hide behind the Professor's chair... that you don't have the balls to stand up to your old man… that you're suck buddies with the mansion bad ass...

The door shut hard. The overhead lights flickered on. Bobby felt strong hands on his shoulders, pulling him up to where he was sitting on his haunches. In a softer tone, Pete told him, "John is not here. You did not hurt him."

Bobby blinked a few times, his vision finally coming into focus, and he stared at Pete's bare but metal chest. Shit, it was a big enough situation for Pete to shift to his mutant form, which would only add to the rumors tomorrow morning. He swallowed hard, because he didn't want to puke on his friend. "But-"

"John is not here," with a little more force but still with that gentleness. It was a strange combination of the Professor's and Scott's tones when talking a panicked student down. "He is with Lee at the gazebo."

Bobby's emotions catapulted from frightened yet grateful to hostile and belligerent. He remembered that night when Johnny had sworn he would end his meetings with Jubilee at oh-god-awful in the morning.

Furious now -- maybe Pete was simply making an assumption about Johnny's location -- he snarled, "How the fuck do you know where Johnny is?"

"Because your Johnny is not as quiet as he thinks he is," Pete told him as he got them both to their feet. "That, and I could not sleep. The fireworks in the garden are hard to miss on a moonless night."

The words caused him to gag. Up until tonight, Johnny had never broken his promises to him. Johnny hadn't made that many, most relayed through their mantra of fire and ice, which now seemed so incredibly stupid. But this...

"You must center yourself, Frosty."

Just how was Bobby supposed to explain? He jerked away from Pete, almost losing his balance again as he stepped backward. Pete reached out, but Bobby knocked his hand away, iced skin tinking against the metal. "I thought you were a proud Russian, able to handle those famed Siberian winters and all that shit."

"Da." A slight pause. "But there are few here who are like me." Then Pete repeated, "Center yourself."

Bobby twitched, unused to hearing such a directive from one of his friends. It was always the Professor telling him calm down, using such words as 'center', 'focus' and 'control'. Humiliation made him lash out again. "Fuck you, Pete."

Pete took a step back. "Frosty?"

"Stop with the goddamn 'Frosty' shit, asshole!" Bobby couldn't feel the tears -- he never did while in ice form - but he knew they were there. You're such a girl when you get angry, his mind jeered. Real men don't cry like little girls. He felt his power slipping again as he snarled, "Just get the fuck out of here."

Pete, however, held his ground. His breath fogged as he exhaled hard through his metal nostrils; his lips were pursed and his eyebrow was raised. His tone was forceful and clipped -- the 'you're three seconds from a beat down' one that he only used in the Danger Room against holographic bad guys. "You are a danger to the others right now. Either you calm down or I will 'calm' you down. The choice is yours."



St. John was halfway up the main flight of stairs when Glacier Bobby came barreling down. Before he could say anything, his roommate viciously shoulder-checked him as he passed, causing St. John to stumble backwards and down several steps. The only reason he didn't crash down the rest was his death-grip on the railing.

He was about to start shouting obscenities -- no one pushed St. John Allerdyce around -- but he heard heavy footfalls at the top landing. St. John looked up and was momentarily stunned at the sight: Piotr in full-metal form.

It confirmed St. John's worst fears: Bobby had had an epically shitty nightmare that had woken up the entire floor and Piotr had been forced to manage the crisis. Bobby's ice form was proof of that he had lost control; he only went glacier when his emotions got the better of him. Piotr must have called him on it because why else would Bobby leave their bedroom? When it came to his powers, Bobby never took direction from his peers well.

Piotr met his gaze before gesturing towards the boys' dorm and then in the general direction of the adults' bedrooms. He spoke in Russian, "I will deal with them and the Powers." The pause was achingly embarrassing. "You deal with Bobby. Now."

St. John nodded mutely. There were only two places Bobby would go when he was this pissed off: the west gable rooftop or the practice bunker, which was located a few hundred yards from the Mansion. Given the direction Bobby was heading, it was obvious that his destination was the bunker.

He breathed a small sigh of relief as he turned and followed Bobby's slowly melting footsteps. Unlike the subbasement, all the students had access to the underground bunker, which was about a five minute walk at a brisk pace. St. John supposed it was a precursor of the Danger Room, but had never asked.

Outside, he didn't rush to catch up to Bobby, preferring to trail behind and then watch from a distance as his roommate punched in a passcode and entered the facility. A shoulder check in the stairwell was one thing, but Bobby wouldn't be as restrained outdoors or near the bunker. It was better to wait a few minutes before confronting him, enough time for Bobby's temper to quell a little not to mention for St. John to build up his nerve.

As he approached the door, St. John was somewhat surprised Bobby hadn't iced over the keypad to prevent anyone else from entering. His shoulder started to ache a little, a quick reminder of just how pissed off Bobby was. He paused, knowing that 'sorry' was not going to suffice. He doubted the truth would work any better.

He keyed in his code, opened the door, and slowly made his way up to the observation area. St. John knew the cameras started rolling the moment someone entered the facility; the Powers always claimed that it was for their protection, in case something went wrong while someone was practicing. Tonight, however, St. John knew privacy was far more important than safety. Overriding the system was as simple as flipping a few switches, and he just happened to know which ones.

As for the other sensors, he left those alone. The temperature indicator alone told him just how upset Bobby was. St. John hoped the readings were in Celcius, not Kelvin. He finally glanced down onto the enclosed practice field, which was roughly the size of two basketball courts. There were two large ice columns, but instead of the smooth surfaces that Bobby usually created, they were rough and had large spikes protruding from the sides. The ice wall that connected them was jagged and deadly-looking as well. Ice coated the floors, some forming a crude snowboarding half-pipe. He watched with growing uneasiness as Bobby began flinging thick ice shards towards the wall.

St. John slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out his Zippo. He had refilled it before dinner, so he knew he had enough fuel to go a few hardcore rounds. Dressed in jeans, a long sleeved tee, jeans jacket, and sneakers, he knew he could endure the cold for a little while was well.

Christ, he hated dealing with shit like this. His mind helpfully reminded him of the sheer amount of ice that Bobby had created in such a short time. He'd never seen so much of it, especially in such a concentrated space.

Powers on a level that everyone at the Mansion respects, he thought to himself, especially the adults. Self-doubt chimed in with, You're no match for him. He lets you win.

Then, the door opened behind him.

St. John's reflexes were always sharper when he was hyped up, and his comfort with his Source made the entire snap!click!fwoosh! quicker than normal. He might not have powers on demand like the most of the kids, but the training sessions, both on his own and with the group, had finely honed his Zippo skills. Now, he palmed the fireball, curving his hand as if ready to throw.

"Hey!" Scott held up his hands as he stood in the entryway and then ordered, "Stand down."

St. John took three breaths before snapping the Zippo closed and absorbing the flames. He stared for a few seconds because it was the first time he'd ever seen Scott look so disheveled. Sure, the X-Men's leader was sporting the latest version of his visor -- a vast improvement over the Princess Leia model that had completely covered his ears -- but the faded Padres t-shirt and baggy sweatpants were a far cry from the LL Bean couture Scott favored. Plus, his hair was sticking up at odd angles.

Piotr had obviously underestimated the Powers involvement on this one.

Scott took a step towards the observation glass; St. John found himself automatically blocking the route.

"I'll handle it," St. John told him.

There was a slight pause as Scott raised an eyebrow. "What happened?"

The edge in his teacher's voice caused St. John to blurt honestly, "I'm not sure. I was outside, saw all the lights come on in the boy's dorm, and figured someone was having a nightmare. I followed Bobby out here."

Scott nodded slightly, an echo of his usual reaction to hearing results of Danger Room practices. Then, his head jerked up a little, clearly focusing on whatever was happening in the practice area. St. John refused to glance over his shoulder. Bobby was his, this was St. John's situation to handle, and no matter how much he respected Scott, he wasn't going to give in.

After a few seconds, Scott let out a long, tired sigh. "I'm guessing you turned off the surveillance cameras." There was a pause, but not long enough to really give St. John the chance to respond. "Wait outside."

St. John knew his jaw dropped open, but quickly snapped it shut. "Look--"

"Let him work through this," Scott interrupted as he turned towards the door. "Don't patronize him either unless you really want to know what it feels like to be blasted free of an ice shell."

It caught St. John off guard, especially since the leader of the X-Men -- their notorious control freak -- was ceding the situation to him so quickly. "Wha--"

"You're handling it, right?"

Although it wasn't said sarcastically -- actually, Scott's tone bordered on trusting -- St. John reacted all the same. He flipped the cap of his Zippo open and rolled his shoulders forward, ready for a fight, but his words came out warily, "Yeah?" because he was never that stupid when dealing with Scott Summers.

"Wait outside the bunker. Let him get whatever it is out of his system," Scott said in that painful tone of 'you're too smart for me to spell this out to you'. His hand rested on the doorknob.

"And you?" St. John asked, feeling suddenly stupid because he wasn't quite sure he was interpreting things correctly. Scott was, perhaps, the only adult he could let his guard down with. It made him nervous, but he also had the feeling that Scott really understood him.

"Going back to bed." Scott yawned, perhaps for emphasis. "If it gets out of hand..." he trailed off. The tone of his voice sounded as if he believed that St. John wouldn't need help. He then tapped his temple, "Just call the Professor. Good night." With that, he left.

St. John gaped at the door as it closed. The Zippo felt heavier in his hand. Scott didn't relinquish command to just anyone; Piotr was really the only one who had that kind of clout. Pride and satisfaction hit him all at once, and while he wanted to dismiss it, he found that he couldn't.

There was acceptance and then there was acceptance.

St. John counted to ten before he exited the bunker and took up a spot next to the door.

Maybe he'd work on his flame phoenix.


The first time his body had transformed into ice, Bobby had been scared shitless. At thirteen, his experience with physically-altering mutations had been limited to Warren, who strapped his wings down in order pass in the outside world. Based on that, Bobby's greatest fear had been that he wouldn't be able to return to normal, that he would be permanently stuck in an ice state.

At seventeen, Bobby had grown more comfortable with that aspect of his mutation, but he didn't like showing it off. He hated being stared at, especially because people thought he only transformed when he was freaked out. However, he'd figured out how to shift voluntarily when he was fourteen and his form had progressed from looking like an animated snowman to his sleeker, glacier version. In the privacy of the practice bunker, he kept his ice form simply because it felt better when he used his powers. It wasn't something he talked to anyone about.

Bobby was sympathetic to celebrities who had their lives invaded by the paparazzi; it was one of the reasons he kept this aspect of his mutation so private. He also knew that his interactions with his friends and the Powers were closely watched by both the adults and kids at the Mansion. The adults used him as a barometer of the students' moods and attitudes while the kids used him to see what they could get away with.

Tonight, instead of the precise walls and columns he constantly practiced, Bobby let loose with his power. Jagged arches hugged the walls, ice spikes stuck out of the impromptu target he had made, and a partial snowboarding half-pipe took up almost half the room. Here, in this place, the rules could be different. He wanted to be himself, not the boy who always did what he was told.

He rarely went all out like this, pushing himself to experiment and test his limits. Alone with his anger and feelings of insecurity, using his powers gave him the release that he needed - better than sex he decided. He also felt a surge of confidence because his powers were so unique. He had the freedom to create odd and dangerous things without derogatory comments or warnings about it being unsafe, and the ice ramps definitely fit into the latter category.

If Bobby concentrated, positioned his hands and shifted his weight just right, he could slide forward as ice formed in front of him. The faster he created the ice, the quicker he moved and the power that thrummed through him was exhilarating. If this was how Ro felt when she used air currents to fly, no wonder she enjoyed it so much.

Bobby didn't limit himself to straight lines but created the sharp, inclined curves that he had loved since he used to build Hot Wheels racetracks. As he took a particularly hard turn, he flung an ice spike towards one of targets, just to see if he could do two things at once. When it hit dead-on, he let out a triumphant whoop. He repeated the technique four more times, increasing his speed and the height of the ramp as he went.

He had just made an arc high enough to be eye-level with the observation room. What Bobby witnessed almost made him fall off his platform.

Scott was staring right at him. There was no change in expression, no shock that Bobby had somehow created a mess of ice that lifted him upwards. Just Scott being stoical Scott and -- oh just fucking wonderful -- chatting with Johnny.

Bobby slid backwards, not losing his balance once, until he was on the ice-covered floor. Another surge of anger hit him - Couldn't they just leave him the fuck alone for just once? He wasn't twelve anymore. He didn't need babysitters when using his powers.

Center yourself, his mind intoned but it was quickly replaced by, They don't fucking respect me at all! He forced himself to slow his breathing because he could feel the ice building up on his body and around his feet.

Still, they were watching him, probably taking notes to report back to Jean and the Professor. The humiliation caused him to yell, "You want a fucking show? Well, here it is!"

He felt the spikes grown on his shoulders, elbows and knees. He knew the room temperature had plummeted by the dull buzz of one of the alarms. He shifted his weight like before and began creating ice ramps, but this time much bolder as he used his current ramp to crash through the other ones.

The sound was near-deafening. Put THAT down in your little notebook! he thought viciously.

Bobby continued to push himself; being watched drove him. What would Scott tell the Professor, Jean and Ro? What new restrictions would they put upon on him? Would he be forced to give up his roommate? What would Johnny think now? What would his roommate tell Jubilee? What would Jubilee convey to the rest of the Mansion because they all knew he had a shitty nightmare? What would Rogue think of her new boyfriend -- and he was suddenly comfortable with that particular designation -- now that he'd basically pissed in his own bed by losing control of his powers in his sleep?

Perhaps she would understand, because of the whole deadly powers thing. Yet, did she get that they were so different? Sure, Rogue could drain someone with her death touch, but that was a one-on-one situation. Bobby, however, knew he could hurt a shitload of people in mere seconds.

He skidded to a stop, staring at the mounds of ice shards surrounding him and then up to the observation room with the lights still on. If Scott and Johnny hadn't already wet their pants from seeing just what Bobby could do on his own -- and really, they should have but probably didn't -- they had probably formulated a plan to go up against him. Knowing his luck, they would come in from opposite directions, just to take him down quickly and teach him a lesson that he wasn't as powerful as the thought he was.

Bobby wasn't stupid; he understood his Mansion opponents more that they ever gave him credit for. Johnny and Scott depended on accessories for their power. A quick freeze of the Zippo would neuter Johnny and a blast of ice across Scott's visor would render the trigger mechanisms useless. Scott wouldn't dare rip off the eyewear to blast him for fear of hitting Johnny or worse, taking out the rest of the bunker. Up until now, Bobby had simply been too nice to employ those tactics during practice.

He shouted, "What the fuck are you waiting for! Get your ass down here and take me on!"

When there was no immediate answer, he created a straight ice column beneath him lifting him to eye-level with the room. Once that high, Bobby peered in. It was empty. Shit, they must be changing, he thought since there were extra sweats and practice gear in the adjacent room. A momentary panic hit him because he realized how vulnerable he was on this perch; Scott would only have to blast the base and Bobby would go tumbling down.

He quickly formed an ice slide down to floor level and scanned the area for Scott and Johnny. The column was still a danger, because Scott could blast it from a long distance and by using successive blasts, the ice could become projectiles. As he had done earlier, Bobby generated momentum with his slide and rammed the offending structure, causing it to break in several areas.

Bobby surveyed the area again, trying to find his best position to be in when Johnny and Scott came through the door. Would he give them a chance to react, to get in a few shots before he took them out? Or would he simply put the smackdown on them because they were entering the field without alerting him first, one of the key rules when entering the practice area?

He debated a few moments before moving to an alcove that gave him a good view of the door but allowed him some protection from a clear shot. He wondered if his ice form allowed him to blend in. Wouldn't that be an awesome trick?

Bobby taunted again, "Too cool for you, flame-boy? Afraid of a little ice, Cyclops?"

When there was no immediate response, he thought, What the fuck now? It then hit him: they had been intimidated by what they had witnessed and had called the Professor. The old man was probably waiting for Bobby in the kitchen, preparing the 'you must learn to control your temper' lecture. Bobby briefly wondered what snacks the Professor had pulled from the cupboard, since they almost always talked about his control issues over tea and lemon shortbread cookies.

He was too old for that. He was tired of the lectures. He didn't want to dive into what his nightmare was about, since it was pretty straightforward what had scared the shit out of him. The anger flared up again, as he wondered again why they couldn't just leave him alone for once. He could deal with his own problems just fucking fine.

Why don't you tell them that? his mind taunted and his bravado took over. If the Powers wanted him to bring the fight to them, he'd certainly oblige. He stormed out of the practice area to the locker room. Finding it empty, he made his way to the observation deck, which was also deserted. Obviously, they wanted him back at the Mansion because they knew full well that he would behave himself.

Bobby glared at the door leading outside before slamming it open hard and fast.

"Fuck!" he heard Johnny exclaim as the door crashed against the wall before swinging closed.

Bobby turned as Johnny scrambled to his feet, the mess of flames around him dissipating into the night. Shock turned to fury as he closed in until Johnny was backed up against the wall. Bobby snarled, "You here to escort me to the Professor? To make sure I don't wander astray?"

Johnny's eyebrows momentarily shot up in surprise, but his expression quickly turned to one of wariness. "The old man isn't waiting for you."

The absurdity made him spit back, "Bullshit."

Johnny bared his teeth a little. "He isn't unless you want to put a call in. I'm sure he has some pabulum set aside just for you."

"Oh, I'm supposed to believe that Scott just left? I saw you two talking in there. It's not like he's just going to walk away and leave you here." He poked Johnny's shoulder hard, causing his roommate to stumble back. He did it again as he demanded, "Gonna lie about that too?"

Bobby heard the familiar snap-click of the Zippo, but he grabbed Johnny's right wrist and slammed it against the wall twice, causing the lighter to drop to the ground. Outrage danced across Johnny's face as he hissed, "You motherfucker."

Bobby pressed harder on Johnny's wrist as he demanded, "What did you two talk about?"

"The air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, you stupid fuck!" Johnny snapped back, and the Monty Python quote took Bobby by surprise.

Since when did Johnny use jokes in an argument? One of Scott's lectures suddenly blossomed in Bobby's mind -- throw your opponent off-guard -- as Johnny began struggling in earnest, attempting to get away. It pissed Bobby off even more, because he wanted an answer and he was damned if he was going to give in without a fight.

Johnny tried to move his hand away from the wall, and then pushed with his left arm followed by stamping on Bobby's feet. Bobby grabbed Johnny's free arm and pinned it to the wall; he'd always been able to physically overpower his roommate. Johnny struggled more and Bobby slammed him into the wall again.

Anger glittered in Johnny's eyes as he spat, "What the hell do you think? We left you the fuck alone because it was pretty damn clear that's what you wanted!"

"You still watched," Bobby countered, allowing the menace to creep into his voice. "That's not 'leaving me alone'."

Johnny's chin lifted defiantly and he tried to fruitlessly surge forward to reclaim his personal space. He shot back, "I turned off the surveillance, asshole. I didn't watch you get your rocks off with your powers! Don't believe me?"

"Why should I?"

"I'm your goddamn roommate, asshole," Johnny snapped.

Bobby's mind filled with the possible retorts, from light-hearted to downright cruel. He knew he needed to take advantage, to inflict some kind of hurt. He leaned closer, iced lips brushing Johnny's ear. "You weren't there."

The words obviously scored. Johnny turned his head, chin dropping and he ceased struggling. "I know."

"You fucking promised."

"I know."

The uncharacteristic submissiveness sparked a new fear in Bobby, and gave him the courage to ask the one question that had been bothering him since he and Johnny became more than just friends: why? Yet something caused him to pause -- maybe a subconscious warning about not opening up that particular can of worms -- and his roommate faced him again.

Johnny's words were soft, tinged with cruelty. "If I had been there, something tells me that ol'Fearless would have been blasting me out of a goddamn ice coffin, not going back to bed because I fucking volunteered to babysit you."

The only thing Bobby's brain allowed him to say was, "Fuck you."

"Frostbite doesn't turn me on, Popsicle," he sneered.

Bobby reached down and cupped Johnny's crotch, rubbing the hard-on straining against the fabric. Johnny groaned as his now freed hand dropped to his side and his face flushed with arousal and embarrassment. It was Bobby's turn to taunt, "Bullshit."

Bobby then released him, taking several steps backward. Johnny looked incredibly sexy with his mussed hair, reddened features, prominent hard-on, and the shallow breaths that seemed to say, "Let's do it here, now." His roommate tried to muster a glare past the want in his eyes, but failed. Johnny's voice was soft, full of need and the same tone he used when he wanted to have sex. "Bobby..."

There were a lot of things Bobby could have done or said that would have resolved the night's incident right then and there. There could have been forgiveness all around for hitting upon sore subjects. They could have gone into the bunker and writhed around on the floor together until they shot their loads.

Instead, Bobby said, "You're such a fucking liar, Johnny," and stormed back to the Mansion.

After all, he had a bedroom full of ice to clean up.

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

Thanks to...

talktooloose for his kind beta of the story a very long time ago. Any mistakes are mine.

To those who remember FDoE... it's been a long time and slow updates. Thanks for your continued messages and support.

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