DISCLAIMER: I don't own the X-Men, Marvel does. I
don't make any money from them, Marvel does.
"Mutant designate: Iceman. Your powers are compensated for. This is a fight you cannot win."
"Fat chance, sleaze!" Bobby Drake super-cools the air around the Prime Sentinel which has cornered him and Cecilia Reyes in an alley. As he motions for the doctor to get behind the ice-shield he's created, he concentrates and quickly forms a thick ice-sheath around the Sentinel, attempting to freeze the bio-mechanical monster on a cellular level.
As he prepares to make an ice-bridge that he can use to slide them to friendlier territory, he finds that the Sentinel wasn't boasting at all. He really can withstand the mutant power Iceman wields. In a blaze of plasmic fire, the Sentinel erupts from his cocoon, sending shrapnels of ice hurtling out in all directions. "Your exhibition is fruitless, mutant. Soon your powers will be countermanded by all of us. Soon you will be exterminated."
As shards of ice clink harmlessly to the ground around Dr. Reyes, she screams at Bobby, "I thought you could handle this, Drake! You said you were a super-hero..."
"I can! Just give me a second!"
"Get me out of here! Now!"
Bobby turns to look at Cecilia. While she tries her hardest to appear angry with him, he can see the fear etched in her face. As she grits her teeth and glares indignantly at him, he notices tears welling in her eyes. She's scared out of her wits, yet wants to appear anything but. As he quickly shifts his gaze back to the Sentinel, who is advancing on them quickly and hurling pompous villain-esque threats as he does so, he formulates a plan.
"So ice doesn't bother you, huh!?" he screams at the Prime Sentinel. "Guess we'll just have to surrender to this poor excuse for a Sentinel. Since when did they start making you guys so ugly, anyway?"
"Idle insults and sarcasm will do you no good, Iceman," says the Sentinel in a menacing, inhuman voice. "Your time is short. You should have surrendered yourself when you had the chance, you ineffectual weakling!"
"Uh-huh. Who's the name-caller, now? I just wanted you close enough so I could do this!" Bobby sends a stream of ice shooting up to the roof of an adjacent building as the Sentinel looks at him in confusion.
"Do what? Something completely unspectacular? You truly are the least competent of all the X-Men."
The Sentinel continues to advance on their position, sheer joy radiating from every bio-mechanically altered inch of him. Bobby blocks out Cecilia's screams as he listens for the tell-tale creaking that means his plan is successful. He smiles to himself as he hears the wrenching of frozen metal overhead. Amid all his posturing, the Sentinel barely notices the sound until it is too late and a small radio tower falls directly on top of him, its steel piping puncturing his armor and short-circuiting his vital functions.
Peering warily over his make-shift barricade, Bobby looks out at the Sentinel, who is pinned to the pavement by the struts of the tower, one of which is thrust awkwardly through his now blank face. Bobby winces as he says to himself, "Eeew, gross. And I thought he was ugly before."
Behind him, Cecilia stammers, "H-how did you d-do that?"
"Easy. While distracting him in my oh-so-charming manner, I chilled the base of the tower so that the metal would be brittle. Then I pushed it off with an ice blast, aiming it to where I thought he would be oh... about eight seconds afterward." Smiling to himself and shifting out of his ice-form, Bobby then says, "Ineffectual my foot."
"But we should get out of here. I don't know if he has any buddies coming or if he's got a back-up system. He might be back on-line soon."
Cecilia grabs Bobby's arm and says, "Before we go, I just want to thank you. You've saved my life so many times today already." Her voice suddenly deep and throaty, she continues, "You really are my hero."
As she pulls Bobby close, he says confusedly, "Um. You're welcome?"
Cecilia puts a finger on his lips as she purrs seductively, "Shh. No more talking..." Pulling Bobby's face down to meet hers, she kisses him passionately and clutches him in a tight embrace. When the kiss deepens, all of his confusion disappears and he is lost in the adrenaline pulsing though his veins as his tongue eagerly meets hers. As he feels her hands moving urgently over his body, he hears a siren off in the distance. It begins to grow in intensity, yet he doesn't want to lose this moment, this feeling. So he tries his best to ignore it, until, until...
He wakes up.
Bobby slams his hand groggily on the alarm's off switch and rolls back over in bed. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he turns his head to see the time... 8:16 a.m. That means most of the house is already awake. Tentatively sitting up, Bobby realizes he's got to move fast if he wants to get some hot water for his shower. In the next room, he can hear Sam Guthrie moving about. So he quickly grabs his bathrobe and a towel and rushes as much as a person awake only forty seconds can for the men's bathroom, narrowly beating Sam to the door.
As he brushes his teeth, he hears Samm pound on the door. "Come on, Bobby! At least let me in for a sec."
Bobby attempts to ignore Sam as he thinks back on the dream that was so rudely interrupted by his alarm clock. Relentless in his protests, Sam continues to knock on the door as Bobby rinses the tooth-paste from his mouth. "Don't you ignore me. Ah'm going to explode out here!"
"Guthrie and his small bladder," Bobby mutters to himself before he shouts at the door, "Go over to the women's dorm, Sam! I'm sure it's empty right now." He's not really certain if it will be, but with Ororo and Cecilia being the early risers they are and Rogue sleeping in late all the time, he feels it's a safe bet. There is the question of Marrow, though. He's not even sure if she does bathe, much less in the women's dormitory. Regardless, the suggestion gets Sam to leave him alone. If the younger X-Man is lucky, he might even get an eyeful over in the other wing.
In the shower, Bobby yawns as the warm water starts to awaken him. Lathering shampoo in his short hair, he once again thinks back to his dream. That's the third one I've had like that this week... Always this sort of knight-in-shining-armor motif and then. Well, and then...
Bobby shuts the erotic thoughts of Cecilia out of his mind as he remembers he's surely going to have to face her at some point in the day. Though there's no telepath in the house after Jean's departure, he still gets embarrassed having thoughts like that about someone under the same roof. What he's more interested right now is why he's having these thoughts.
As he steps out of the shower and towels himself dry, he thinks, Face it Bobby, you have a crush... You tried to play it really cool when you first met her, pull this whole 'I'm a super hero, aren't you glad I saved your life' thing and it back-fired. She hated you... or acted like she did. And when you actually kiss her, it even seemed like she could've enjoyed it if she wasn't being stalked by a bunch of Sentinels, and what do you say to her? 'Thanks, Doc. You do good work.' I'm such an idiot!
Wrapping his towel around his waist, he stares at himself in the mirror as he thinks, You really messed this one up. Now how are you going to fix it? He groans to himself as he dries his hair with the blow-dryer he brought from his parents house. While the dryer's humming, he runs several scenarios through his head, from gifts of flowers to a midnight serenade. None of them seem very appealing or effective. Finally he decides just to ask her out.
He turns off the hair-dryer and begins to shave as he ponders his decision. But I've asked her out before. Lots of times. She always seems to have something to do. Maybe I haven't been direct enough? Maybe she thinks I'm just being friendly? Either that or she hates me. She hates me, I'm sure of it.
Engrossed in his thoughts, Bobby lets his razor slip and flinches as it nicks his chin. "Dammit!" he says as he watches a small droplet of blood form on his face. I just can't do anything right.
Glaring again at his reflection in the mirror, Bobby gives himself the equivalent of a mental pep-talk. That attitude never gets you anywhere, Bobby. You don't like how things are? Fine, change them. You need to know if you have a chance with her. If you don't... then you can move on. But you need to know and soon.
He finishes shaving quickly, blots the cut on his face with a piece of tissue and then says to himself, "Now. While you still have the guts."
He grabs his things and rushes to his room, bumping into Sam along the way, who calls out after him, "By the way, Bobby, it was occupied! Ah'd probably be dead now if Marrow wasn't such an exhibitionist!"
Chuckling softly as he slams the door shut behind him, Bobby hangs up his bathrobe and finds something to wear. He changes into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt... the blue one Jean told him looks good with his eyes. He wants to look casual, but not pajama casual as he usually does this time of morning. After running a comb through his hair and putting on his shoes, he goes back out the door and tries to figure out where Cecilia will be. Knowing her, he figures she will be as close to the coffee pot as she possibly can, which means the kitchen.
He bounds down the stairs, nearly tripping on the last one. He goes straight for the kitchen and she's there. She's sitting at the table, drinking a cup of coffee and reading over the morning paper. He remembers the small piece of tissue stuck to his chin and removes it just as she peers up over the paper and says casually, "'Morning, Drake."
He almost loses it right then and there. A lump forms in his throat as he thinks of the appropriate rebuttal to such a statement... 'How are you today, Cecilia?' 'My, you look beautiful this morning, Cecilia.' 'Take me to your leader, Cecilia.' 'Will you make love to me for hours and hours and live with me forever, Cecilia?'... None of them seem appropriate, so he merely says, "'Morning, Cece."
Nervously, he looks around the kitchen, hoping to look busy with something while he plans his next move. He was expecting to find her alone, but he sees Marrow next to the stove lazily scooping oatmeal out of a bowl with her fingers, her hair still dripping wet from her shower. Next to her is the coffee pot, filled with a concoction of Cecilia's making. Bobby eyes the thick, black liquid and finds that as the appropriate diversion. Besides, it might impress her.
Maneuvering his way to the coffee pot, he is stopped by Marrow. "What? No good morning to the ugly one, Iceman? Where are your manners, up-worlder?"
As Bobby searches for a coffee mug, he says, "Sorry, Marrow. Good morning. How's that?"
Sarah smiles to herself as she dips her fingers again into the oatmeal and lifts a handful to her mouth. Speaking with her mouth full, she says, "That'll do."
Squinting his eyes, Bobby looks at her for a moment, fully aware that she is trying very hard to be as loathsome as possible. He then says, "I thought you didn't eat anything you didn't kill yourself."
Grinning evilly at him, she says, "Who says I didn't? Maybe I've sown some wild oats you don't know about, Pretty?"
Bobby snorts quietly to himself, amused with Marrow's version of a joke and lets the subject rest as he pours his coffee. Glancing over to where Cecilia is sitting, he looks at her cup and is glad it's not completely black. He'd hate to try and stomach this stuff with no cream just to impress her.
After fixing his coffee, he sits down at the table across from her and decides to play it casual until Marrow leaves, which he hopes is soon. He's not too sure how good he'll be at engaging her in small talk. "What'cha reading, Cece?"
"Sports section. Something about the Yankees."
Thrilled at the opportunity for a conversation, Bobby says, "I didn't know you're a fan."
Cecilia goes back to drinking her coffee and reading the newspaper, and Bobby is left staring at his cup when he would rather be staring at her. He's already noticed how nice she looks this morning. The green v-neck t-shirt she's wearing shows off her beautiful neck and makes her dark skin look positively radiant. The fact that her hair is pulled away from her face only adds to the effect.
Knowing he can't say any of the things he's thinking right now, he takes a timid sip of his coffee and winces in shock as the very thick, very bitter beverage hits his palate. The coffee is the strongest he's ever tasted. It isn't bad, like Moira's. It's just the purest, most coffee-like coffee he's ever had. He thinks to himself, I don't see why she doesn't just eat the beans right out of the bag, while he takes another painful sip.
As he places his cup down on the table, Cecilia notices the look on his face that he's trying desperately to hide and says, "Careful, Drake. That stuff will put hair on your chest."
Bobby smiles awkwardly, trying very hard to block the mental image of a hairy-chested Cecilia out of his mind and knowing that such a thought might not be very good for their relationship, no matter what its incarnation. She notices the odd look on his face and says, "Don't worry, Bobby. It's only an expression."
She moves the paper out of the way and says, looking down at the part of her chest exposed by the low neck of her shirt, "See, not a hair."
Bobby responds, "Um. Gee, guess you're right," and hopes that he hasn't turned the shade of red he thinks he has. As Cecilia turns her attention back to her paper, Bobby glances over at Marrow, hoping that she is almost finished with her breakfast. She is still busily eating and leers at him between bites. He realizes that she isn't leaving the room anytime soon and that she's probably enjoying the awkward scene taking place in front of her.
Beginning to think that his plan wasn't such a good idea, he considers going to find Hank and talk to him about Cecilia. Besides Bobby, he's the one in the mansion who knows her best. Maybe he could give him some advice? He decides against it, however, reminding himself of the promise he made upstairs. He is going to do this now, Marrow be damned.
"What are you doing tonight?"
"I dunno, probably crashing early or something. You know me."
Drumming his fingers nervously on the table in front of him and avoiding eye-contact at all costs, he says, "Yeah. Well, um, I was wondering. I was wondering if you'd like to go, um... I mean if you don't want to, I'd understand."
Putting down her paper, Cecilia responds, "Understand what, Drake?"
Angry at himself for stumbling over his words and being just plain nervous, Bobby says absent-mindedly, "Why do you always call me Drake? I do have a first name, you know?"
Cecilia glares at him as she says, "Yes, I know you have a first name, thank-you. Now, what would you understand, Bobby?"
Dropping his head into his hands in frustration, he says, "Never mind, it's silly. Just forget it."
Crossing her arms defiantly over her chest, she says, "No. I won't forget it. Now spit it out."
Bobby groans as he responds defensively, "Don't talk to me like I'm a kid!"
"Well, you're acting like one."
Getting up from his chair with the full intent of leaving the room if the situation gets anymore unbearable, he stammers "Maybe that's because I feel like one!"
"Why? Why are you being such a pain in the ass?"
"Because I'm nervous!"
"Why are you nervous, Bobby?"
Unable to bear the tension any longer and realizing that he's just backed himself into a corner, he blurts out, "Because of you, that's why!"
Cecilia sits dumbfounded as she asks, "Me?"
"Yeah, you! How you're sitting there with the light shining on your face in just the perfect angle so that you look like a goddamned angel! How you smell, how you smile, how you always know what you want out of life, even if you can't have it... you try and make it happen. And most of all how you have no idea how beautiful you are, as a person, as a woman. Do you have any idea how nerve-wracking that is?!" Bobby closes his eyes as he continues in a quieter tone, "Look, you can just go ahead and bad-mouth me all you want. I'm already embarrassing myself enough as it is, so a little more's not going to hurt much."
He stops talking and stares at her as she sits quietly at the table. After all his awkward blubbering and drama, he finally has the courage to make eye-contact with her. The trouble is, she's not looking at him. As Cecilia gazes blankly at the table in front of her, the only sound in the room is made by Marrow, who is still noisily eating her oatmeal.
Finally, Cecilia looks up at him and sees that he's looking back. She shifts her eyes down to her coffee cup and wraps her fingers tightly around it as she says, "I'm not going to 'bad-mouth' you."
Bobby swallows hard as he says, "I'm sorry I said that. I shouldn't assume things."
Meeting his gaze and holding it, Cecilia remarks, "No, you shouldn't."
"You're right. So, even though I've made a big jerk out of myself and everything, like I always seem to do, I'm still wondering if you would like to go out with me tonight."
"Like a date?"
"Yeah. A date. Dinner, the works. Whatever you want. I'll even dress up for you."
Bobby smiles a smile which Cecilia finds herself returning, despite the awkwardness which still lingers in the room, and she says, "Sure. Why not?"
Fighting the urge to jump into the air and proclaim to the world what a lucky man he is, Bobby says,"Okay, then. I'll meet you at six thirty in the foyer."
As Bobby walks out of the kitchen in an attempt to break the clumsy cycle he and Cecilia have found themselves locked into, he says, "Ahem. Well, I'll see you later then."
Cecilia watches him leave as she whispers to herself, "Yeah. Later."
She sits a while without moving or speaking, completely awe- struck by what has just happened. As she stares absently out the kitchen window, Marrow wanders toward the door and asks gruffly before leaving, "So the healer's got a hot date tonight?"
"Yeah. I guess so, Marrow. Dios help me, I do."
Continued in Part 2.