Bobby had found a kindred spirit in Piotr Rasputin. There was a lot of gossip about the new relationship between Peter and Bobby. I felt ill about all of the gossip in which I had participated in the past. Suddenly, gossip had turned into a great evil beast to me. Unfortunately, it only got worse when Bobby presented his next creation to the team.
It was larger than my portrait standing a little over one and a half feet. Bobby had dragged most of the mansion's residents into the sitting room for the "unveiling." We all gaped in wonder at Peter's nude form. He was standing head bowed. His arms were wrapped around himself in a solitary hug. Aesthetically, it was moving. Seeing our Colossus alone and vulnerable, knowing his past, made the piece a perfectly accurate and tragic depiction.
This was lost on the audience though. All they could see was the nudity. Oh, they agreed that it was beautiful, but I could see their minds churning. They were deciding about my friend's life and the choices he made. As everyone stood around drinking wine and acting like they were at a gallery opening, I pulled back. My friends milled around Bobby pretending that nothing was wrong and judging his lifestyle. I'm not really a violent man, no matter what I may do with the X-Men. That day, though, I was angry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rip the room apart and smash the furniture. I stood in the corner shaking with rage. My eyes were clenched. My head was bowed. Then a hand touched me. I knew that it was he. I tried to pull away, but the grip was firm.
"Henry, let's go to my office. I would like to speak to you."
"Professor, Charles, I'm not feeling very well. I really think I should go lie down."
"Hank, that's what I want to talk to you about. I believe that you will feel better when we are done."
The brown leather wingback chair was oversized and overstuffed. It was oh so tasteful and looked perfect in the room. It was one of the few chairs in the house that I could sit in comfortably. That night it felt like an iron maiden, spikes ET all.
"Anger and aggravation is pouring off you in waves, Henry. Please tell me what is wrong," he asked.
"My best friend has given up speaking and you ask me what is wrong?"
"Yes, but Bobby seems quite content with his situation. You are the one that is upset."
The iron maiden's spikes tightened. There was only one way to release them. My mouth began to move without full permission from my brain. I didn't want to tell Charles everything. Yet, he has been a mentor to me for so long, it was easy to make him my sounding board. I've always been a very private person. I've never really shown this side of myself, not even to Charles. He sat and listened with rapt attention. He sat silently at the end of my tale. I could tell that he wanted think a bit before giving me a response.
"You're jealous," was all he said.
After all the pain of opening up to him and all he can say is that I'm jealous? "What?" I cried.
"Piotr has found a way to communicate with Bobby, while you are having trouble. Robert and you have always been . . . two peas in a pod, so to speak. He's shut you out with the rest of us, and you can't accept it. Then Peter comes along and makes a connection. It seems fairly obvious that this is just jealousy."
I opened my mouth to shout my rebuttal, but there was none. My anger slowly ebbed into shame. My openness before was a mustard grain compared to what I spoke next.
"But he was mine. No one else cares about me like Bobby. No matter how shunned or hated I am out side of these walls, I can always come home to him. He keeps me sane. He's the only person in this world that makes me feel good about myself. When I'm with Bob, I'm normal. That's why he's my best friend because no one else here understands how isolated I truly am."
I rose and left the room before Charles could reply. I was too ashamed of myself. He always taught us to be proud of our differences, and I had just admitted that my whole self-image was based on the class clown's opinion of me.
Continued in Chapter 4