This is for ... damned if I remember. Sassy, and Mella. I think. And KJ, who's spirit, as always, I try and bear in mind when I do these. Because it's All About KJ.

A Kinda Changing Tide
by Lise

They're waiting for me to be all better.

I don't know how to be.

Beating the shit outta Logan -- or trying to, anyway -- helped a little bit, this afternoon. I felt the bruises go in, and the yelling...

My throat's raw. But it feels good.

I can see them, in the window. I wonder if they're talking about me. Poor, maligned Warren. I treated him like shit, you know. I really, really did. He might have been a dickhead and a half, but he didn't deserve to deal with me. I'd apologize, but...

I wonder if I could throw a rock far enough to break that window?

I feel bad for Hank, too. Here I am, hiding out in the woods, and he has to deal with the mess that I made, just like always. Good ol'Hank, cleaning up what Bobby Drake did. He's in there, being nice to Warren, listening to him, being understanding, considerate. Warren's trying to puzzle me out, like a bug under a microscope.

Wonder what he sees.

It's dark and cold out here, but I can't go inside yet. Yelling at Logan made me want to come out here and visit you, and I'm gonna do it. Even the boathouse, where Scott and Jean lay sleeping, is quiet tonight. Oh Fearless One isn't getting any booty tonight.

I wonder if I could hit their window with a rock, instead?

I'm tired. I'm tired, so tired that I'm not even really angry anymore. I can't, I just can't--

Hank and Warren. How cute. What a good guy Hank is, being there for his friends like that. What's more, I know he really cares about what Warren's saying, too. I mean, he's no Jean, but he's doing pretty good.

I bet he can't see me, out here under the trees. If he did, good ol'Hank would wanna come out here and find out what was wrong with his pal Bobby. Right?

It's a good thing he can't see me. I don't want him examining me like everyone else.

"I don't ... I just don't know what to say to him anymore, Hank." The man sitting at the table was gripping a cup of lukewarm beverage, staring into its depths. The intent way he studied it suggested he believed it held the answers; but answers to questions he didn't even think of asking. Hank sat opposite Warren, a tired look on his face.

There was a pair of reading glasses watching them as they perched on the table, and the distraction was beginning to get to Hank. He fiddled with them for a minute, then looked back at Warren.

He was folded into a hard-backed kitchen chair, keeping one eye on Warren's face, and one on the cloudy darkness outside the window. The harsh green light flickering on the microwave said insistently 2:38, and he tried to ignore what it was telling him. His usual boundless patience had given way to a much more somber routine of nodding, smiling sympathetically, and trying not to drown in the nerves people were shooting his way.

He couldn't do much else. He didn't own any life preservers, and no one around here knew how to swim anymore.

Hank watched from the shore as Warren swirled a spoon around in his cup, then took a sip, apparently not registering how horrid the substance really was. He could have been drinking Moira's coffee, for all he knew, and it wouldn't have made any difference.

Joking about Moira's coffee was another service Hank could provide, and he did so.

Warren chuckled ruefully. "I guess I haven't been paying much attention, have I? I've been kind of distracted lately."

Hank nodded sympathetically again, and laid a hand on Warren's, clutching the cup. "It is understandable, Warren. Things, lately ... they haven't exactly been a walk in the park."

"No, no they haven't." Warren rubbed his eyes, not seeming to notice the time and how tired he was. "I've been trying to sort it all out in my head -- how to deal with the awkwardness, the looks everyone's giving and getting ... not just about Bobby and I, or about Bobby himself. Everyone's on edge."

Hank nodded again, and slid his gaze to the window surreptitiously. The moon was partly covered by cloud, and he was startled at how alike this night was to the night that Remy had died. He wondered where Bobby was, but then realized with a pang. He couldn't see the simple headstone Remy had picked out from this distance, but he was fairly certain Bobby would be kneeling in front of it.

Hank murmured, "Tonight looks just like the night Remy died." He wasn't sure why he mentioned it, to Warren of all people, but he was the only one up and looking to talk at -- he glanced at the clock -- 2:52 in the morning.

The mansion was awake, and silent. Hank could feel it pressing in on his sides, his ears. Warren shuffled in his seat, unaware of the mouths that wouldn't move.

He looked up at Hank, a concerned look. "I'm sorry, Hank ... I've been rambling on, and I didn't even notice. Maybe we should go look for Bobby?"

Hank shook his head, and said quietly, "Warren, you are a dear friend. But if you don't know where Bobby is right now, he probably won't want to see you." His voice dropped, as he stared out the window again. "And if you do know where he is, you probably know that he doesn't want company from any of us. Not yet, anyway."

His watch read 3:01. Bobby was alone.

He stared at the stone that had come to mean so much of his life, so much of his heart. He wondered how a simple, stupid looking piece of rock could take so much of him away at once -- breath, life, soul, happiness, and wonder.

He sat on the wooden bench he'd dragged out a week ago, for the sole purpose of sitting on while he stared at the rock. He was silent, aloud. In his mind, he was having a conversation with his lover, stilted, halted words that waited for an answer that never came.

Would never come.

He looked up at the mansion, where a dim light burned in the kitchen. They were still up. He sighed, and went back to staring at the ground.

He thought to himself, 3:09, and all's well.

Warren whispered to himself, "I didn't mean to have things end up like this, Hank."

Hank looked up, as Bobby walked slowly and deliberately into the kitchen. He thought he couldn't hurt anymore, listening to Warren speak of the stranger that wore Bobby's face, but then he saw the face and--

"Hello, Robert."

Bobby didn't miss the formality in his greeting, and even Warren saw the flinch. "Hank."

"Would you like to sit down with us?"

He looked at them quickly, then looked away; didn't want to reveal too much. "I ... okay."

He had a glass of water, and he sipped it slowly. Hank said quietly, "We were just talking about--"

"Me, right?" He clamped his mouth shut around the angry words, but it was too late.

Hank smiled, and answered gently, "About regret, actually, Robert."

Bobby's frame bent up a little further, and Hank winced. Nevertheless, he continued, "For instance; I wish I'd gotten Remy to teach me how to cheat at cards. I'd always meant to."

Bobby scowled, and replied, "You don't!--"

And then trailed off again, not sure what he was angry about or why. Hank smiled again, and put a careful hand on Bobby's. "We all have things within us, Bobby."

Bobby nodded, unable to speak. Hank watched the chinks form, as he glanced towards Warren in a gesture like the drip of a tear. He almost opened his mouth to continue, try to make Bobby open up, but it wasn't to be tonight; he could tell from the numb face Bobby made.

There were very few signs of life in those eyes, and Hank bit his lip. He looked up at the clock -- 3:23 -- as Warren said, "I think I should probably just go to bed. Are you going to..."

Hank didn't -- couldn't, quite look up into Warren's face, chose to stare at his glasses, still sitting on the table instead. Bobby hadn't moved since he'd sat down. Warren, uncomfortably, tried to look anywhere but at that bent head. Hank took a breath, and tried to stop himself from breaking. He answered, "I -- perhaps I'll sit up a little longer."

And take some time to grieve.

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