I threw myself into my work, as I always do. It's easier trying to save the world than deal with my own inner turmoil. I stayed in my lab for eight days without respite. I slept when I was too exhausted to stay awake. I ate candy bars from the snack machine down the hall instead of going upstairs for meals. Several times Scott or Jean tried to get me to come out of the lab. I wouldn't even open the door to let them in.
On the ninth morning there was a rapping from outside the metal door. No one ever knocks because there is a call button and intercom beside of the door controls. Curious, I opened the door. I expected it as some cheap ploy to get me out of the lab, but instead I received a gift. On the floor in front of me was a small coffin made of clay. My name and R.I.P. with a question mark beside it was on the top of the coffin. The door that I thought had been closed was still open. I just hadn't bothered to look in.
"Henry, he's teaching you every day," I said as I carried my gift upstairs. As I passed by the French doors leading to the grounds, an idea came to mind. I stepped outside into the cool morning air. There were some lovely lilies by a small pond. I'm sure Ororo would chastise me later, but I had to pick a few to lay across the tiny coffin. It was too eloquent. After doing so, I put my new treasure in my room and walked down the hall to see Bobby.
The door to his room was open. He sat at his computer, surfing on the Internet. I tapped lightly on the doorframe and said, "To assure you on the existence of my being, I think that a jaunt to the Coffee Cathedral is in order. For surely a dead man can't drink expresso, or perhaps maybe they should." Bobby smiled brightly and reached for his coat.
The Coffee Cathedral is a small coffeehouse on the edge of Westchester. Warren had found it a few years previous, and it had become one of "the" places outside of Harry's that the X-Men frequented.
We always sat on the comfortable couch in the back. It was a bit removed from the other tables, and that suited us just fine. That morning it suited me even more because there were some things that I wanted to get off my chest.
"Bobby. You are my greatest friend. I won't begin to ponder on why you've decided not to speak. I'm slowly beginning to understand your new form of communication, but it's hard for me. I've always been the team's solver. I see you not as you were and I want to fix you. I know that that is probably wrong. If there is something that needs to be fixed, I know that you are dealing with it, but I can't stop myself. I'm usually the backbone of the team. I'm the one that doesn't angst, and yet, that's all I've done since you stopped talking. I don't expect you to start talking just to make me happy. I just wanted you to know that this does hurt me, and that I am here for you if you need me."
He sat silently and his face was a mix of emotion. I tuned this out so that I could continue.
"Having said all this, maybe it is not I that should help you with this. I've asked a colleague of mine to come and talk to you. She's a psychiatrist."
The mix of emotion on Bobby's face became one emotion, anger.
"Wait. Wait. This isn't what you think. I know that you don't believe in psychiatry. I've asked her to come mostly on my behalf. Her late husband was a sculptor. She'll be able to help me understand this new way of communication you have, but also, she'll be here in case you decide that you do want to talk to someone outside of the team. I understand that you may see this as a betrayal. I understand why you feel that way. I just want you to know that she's here to help me first and foremost."
Bobby sat back and stared at his latte. I didn't expect a response. I was just praying that he wouldn't get up and walk out. After what seemed like an eternity he looked back at me. He stared into my eyes searching for something. After a moment he either found it or gave up because he nodded and reached for his coat. We rode home in silence.
Continued in Chapter 5.