DISCLAIMER: 2/5 of these characters aren't mine. I'll leave it to you to decide who those two are.
The // italicized text // is from "Icicle" by the lovely Tori Amos.
SUMMARY: // He's in my pumpkin p.j.s //
WARNING: // Getting off, getting off, while they're all downstairs //
ARCHIVE: I'm gonna go ahead and send this to Surisa, but if there's anybody else, please ask.
NOTES: Next in the series (caught the muse in a benevolent mood, Poi) of The Iceman Cometh. As always, no beta; so if you see anything, please point it out.
FEEDBACK: // Lay your book on my chest // Alestar213@aol.com

by Alestar

The boat was being torn apart, of course. What could stand up for long in weather like this? Indeed, everything was being thrown about in the violent whirlwind: houses, trees, livestock...

// Icicle, Icicle where are you going? //

My hands are bleeding from clawing at the rigging, frantically trying to lower the sail; but no matter what I do, it remains strong, catching the wind, bringing the boat further and further to disaster. We get a bit of lift, and I get an absurd image of me, riding around in a tornado-bound sailboat, like some twisted Oz allusion.

// I have a hiding place. //

We are being thrown from side to side, water rushing in all around me; and that is the worst part, because the water is freezing, to the core. I'm not used to being cold; not since I was a little kid. Not since the cold became warm.

// Spring marches in. //

So I cup my hands and begin spooning out the water, futile of course, because my hands are nowhere near efficient enough to compete with the torrents of water crashing in around me. Still I try, and the salt water gets into the cuts on my hands, and my eyes tear with the pain.

// Will you keep watch for me? //

The wind is thrashing the sail about wildly, and the rigging reigns back only to be thrown back, into me, impacting solidly with the back of my skull. I am knocked forward and over, into the arms of the frigid black water.

// I hear them calling. //

The cold hits me like a 9-iron, and I open my mouth to scream, but I can't. Water rushes in, filling the void, pouring into my vision and ears and lungs, weighing down my limbs. I cease thrashing, and watch in horrified fascination as my body begins its slow cushioned descent into the inky blackness. Everything slows. There is no sound. It is almost...peaceful.

// Gonna lay down. //

And then something wraps around my ankle, and the terror comes rushing back. I begin struggling, kicking against the something with my free foot, and twisting myself about, desperately struggling for some kind of leverage.

// Gonna lay down. //

But none can be found, and I find myself being pulled, up, up, back towards the surface, until, with a shock of gravity, I am dangling above the suddenly calm water from this still-unknown vise around my leg. I follow the path of the water in my limited field of vision until I see myself suspended over the boat, coming closer, closer, until I am dropped gently to the bed. I lay there for a moment, regaining my breath, fighting an irrational disappointment, before I look up to my savior.

// Greeting the monster //

It's him. The Ice Monster.

// In our Easter dresses. //

It stands on the surface of the water, head cocked, watching me silently through iridescent globes. The wind has ceased, but the bustling harbor is long gone. All around me, I see nothing but that stoic black water.

// Bow your head. //

I stand up, ready...for something. I match stares with the creature, not even sure that it can see me at all.

// The Good Book says. //

And then it pulls itself up to its full height, towering above me, drawing back its great icy arm, and then roaring it forward, in a shower of splinters, and my world goes black.

// Gonna lay down. //

The sun rises slowly for the third pot of coffee. I am shaking from the caffeine combined with the fatigue of my ninth sleepless night in a row.

I can't continue this.

I'm so tired.

I have to get back up to my room before someone comes down and sees me like this.

What was I talking about again?

"Bobby, would you please stop peering out the window like that? You're making me nervous. Just come sit down."

"O-okay, Mom. I'm just worried...about the boat."

"The boat's fine, Bobby. Please sit down."

"I don't know, Mom, the wind is getting pretty bad and the lake is freezing over. Isn't there something we can do?"

"Bobby, plea-"

"A tarp or something? We can cover it . . "


"Cold like that is dangerous."


"We can't just sit here while --"





"Bobby. Bobby. Bobby."


My head shoots off of the cushion of my arms on the kitchen table as I suddenly find myself meeting a pair of concerned green eyes.

"Bobby, sugah, you were havin' a nightmare. Ya fell asleep, here, at the table."

"Oh. So I did. Um. I think maybe I'll switch to caffeinated. Heh."

I smile weakly, but Rogue remains firm and presses a gloved hand to my forehead.

"Are you feelin' alright, sugah?"

I jump up from the table, upsetting my now cold cup of coffee, which spills all over the floor.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm sorry; I'll clean that up. Later. Or now. Here. Now. Let me get that."

I bend down, swiping at the spill with a dish towel; but Rogue grabs me by the elbow and pulls me to my feet. Even without her strength, I couldn't have put up much of a fight.

"No, here, Bobby, Ah'll get it. You go get some rest."

I think about refusing, but I just don't have it in me.

"Okay, Rogue. Thanks."

And I stumble out and up to my room.

The cold of the sterile linoleum floor seeps through the tennis shoes, up along the khakis and the crisp polo shirt to the pit of my stomach, where it settles in a knot of dull throbbing fear.

I watch the secretary stoically going over an appointment book, and the absent tapping of her pencil is the only noise in the room to distract from the insistent clicking of the small office clock. I wipe the sweat from my face with my sleeve for the thousandth time in the forty-five minutes I've been here, waiting.

Forty-five minutes of that damn clock ticking ticking ticking, and I think I'm gonna loose my mind. I should get out of here. But no, Dad would hear about that for sure. I could tell him I got sick. But I'd just have to come back later; I can't feign the flu forever. Unless it was just this office that made me sick. I could be allergic to, I dunno, the air freshener. But he'd just make me go somewhere else. But maybe another place wouldn't be so bad. Maybe --

The buzzing of the intercom shatters the routine in the room, and I jump halfway out of my chair.

"Miranda, please send in my next appointment."

"Yes, sir."

She gives me a bored look and gestures to the solid oak door. I stand up slowly, terrified, and make my way past her desk, to the brass doorknob. I take a deep breath, and turn it.

There is tweed business suit reclining expectantly in a formal wing-back chair, and its voice is deep and resounding.

"Come in, Bobby, sit down. I'm sorry you had to wait so long; the holidays have been rather harsh on the timelines of my appointments."

He looks past me and frowns. I turn to see, but there is nothing but empty space behind me.

"Where is your father?"

My father? He couldn't even look me in the eye when he told me he'd made the appointment, let alone come.

"He . . couldn't make it."

"And your mother?"

I wouldn't want her here.

"Neither could she. You know, with the holidays..."

He looks at me for a moment, then gives a quick, curt nod and scribbles something on the notepad in his lap.

I try to swallow past the lump of fear in my throat, and take a tense seat on one of the cold leather chairs.

"So, Bobby, your father tells me you've been having trouble at school."

Dammit. The marker.

"Oh, well, not really. You know, sometimes I just --"

"He says that you drew on a sleeping girl's face with permanent marker. Is that true?"

"Well, yeah, kind of. See, this girl, Martha Cli --"

"You drew on her face."

"Right, but it was after she --"

"She was asleep."

"Well, yeah."

"Why do you think you did that, Bobby?"


"She called me a sissy. I hate being called a sissy. Sometimes Dad --"

"Do you think that maybe you did that in order to get her attention?"

"No, I did it because she called me a --"

"You know, Bobby, that there's a difference between good attention and bad attention."

"Yeah, I know, but that's not why --"

"If you want a girl's attention, you should be nice to her. Offer to carry her books to class, for example."

"What are you talking about?"

"We're talking about you, Bobby, and this girl you like. You do like her, don't you?"

"Martha Climpt?! No!"

"Do you like any girls?"

What is he implying?

"Yeah! I like lots of girls!"

"Including this girl you drew on?"

"Yeah, of course I like her. She a girl, isn't she?"

"And you want her to like you."

"Yeah, of course I do."

"Well, drawing on her face is not the way to go about that. You see, you want good attention from her; drawing on people is bad attention."



A long pause held the air, as he regarded me with a satisfied smile.

I hate silence.


"Yes, Bobby?"

"What if...what if I didn't?"

"What if you didn't what, Bobby?"

"What if I didn't, you know...like girls?"

Smile gone.

"What do you mean, Bobby?"

"What if I didn't like Martha. Or any girls."

A nervous cough.

"Well, Bobby, you're still very young. Right now, girls still have 'cooties,' but give it time and --"

"No, sir, I don't like girls. I like --"

"What you mean to say, Bobby, is that you're just shy. You're too shy to admit that you like girls."


"Yes, sir, that's what I meant."


Another silence, but no sign of that satisfied smile.


"Yes, sir?"

"Don't ever say that to anyone, okay, that you...you don't like girls."

"Yes, sir."

"Wait, Bobby, do you hear that?"


"Something...from outside."

He rises to the window and throws open the curtains. From beyond the glass rises the keening cry of wind. The man cocks his head, listening to the sound, mesmerized. Slowly, like an automaton, unhooking the latch. The window immediately blows open with a gust of gut-wrenchingly cold wind, blowing wildly, knocking the man backwards into his desk, which collides with his head. He slumps to the floor unconscious.

The frigid air pouring in the window brings chaos with it, and papers are blowing everywhere, the wind howling, and I would almost wish for the silence. Almost.

The air swirls around the room, picking up speed, until I am thrown off my feet.

I'm in a whirlwind.

I have no control.


I wake up within a few feet of my door.

Jesus, I didn't even make it to my bedroom.

I rise shakily and stumble through the door, landing within steps of my bed, but simply unable to make it the rest of the way.

Look at me.

I can't keep this up.

I can't.

And I weep, curled up there on the floor, with my arms wrapped around myself and my knees drawn up to my chest. A grown man, rolling around on the floor, crying like a baby. Like a sissy.

I must have moved myself sometime during my teary sleep, because when I wake, I am in bed with soft blankets wrapped around me. I sit up, disoriented for a moment.

I stand up on surpisingly steady legs, and I wonder what's happened to the fatigue I've come to expect.

I realize why when I look out my window. The world is covered in ice.

I listen expectantly for the whistling sound of wind, and I am not disappointed. It is distant and low.

A sudden rage surges through me. With a snarl, I throw myself through the window, shards of glass ripping through flesh, and I wait for that terror-soaked man to wake with a start on the floor.

But I land, silently, on my feet, in the snow. It's so quiet.

With a cry of frustration, I sink to my knees.

"Please. I can't do this anymore."

"You don't have to."

A whip around, searching for the source. I find him, behind me, across the expanse of ice. It's the Ice Monster. Speaking with my voice.


"Who are you?"

And as the Ice Monster walks closer, I can see that he is leaving a trail of water behind him, melting. His jagged spikes soften, rivulets of water run off him, until he begins to almost have a human shape. Then I think that I almost recognize him. And then I do.

It's Jimmy Crabtree.

"Jimmy? Is that you?"

"Not really, Bobby, but in the way that matters, yes."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you remember me, Bobby?"

"Yes, of course. You were my fir--"

"Your what?"

"My...friend at Kingfisher."

"That's not what you were going to say."

"Yeah, it was."

A few steps closer.


I take an unconscious step back.

"Wh- what do you want?"

He continues walking forward until he is right in front of me. I move to back away from him, but suddenly there is a great barrier of ice behind me. He raises his hand to my face, gently running his fingertips along my cheek.

"I don't know, Bobby. What do you want?"

I make a panicky sound, deep in my throat, and grab his wrist. He gives only a small smile, and suddenly he is covered with water. He's continuing to melt.

His form changes, and he actually grows taller; and then the man that stands before me is strangely familiar. It is a few moments before I realize why. I see the same face when I look in the mirror.

It's me.

He smiles then, and I realize that I am still clutching his wrist. I let go, but his hand remains. It moves, to cup my cheek.

// When my hand touches myself //


// I can finally rest my head. //

"What- what does this mean?"

"Look at this, Bobby," he gestures around to the ice-entombed world. "This is where you live. The man in the snowglobe believes that the entire world is covered with a glass sheath, and that he alone has escaped its fate."

"I don't understand."

"The world around you is not covered in ice. You are. It beats alive and warm with vitality beneath the boundary that you have created."

// They're all downstairs, singing prayers //

I look around at this, my home.

"I want to be with them. I don't want to be covered in ice."

"I don't want to be alone anymore."

// Sing away //

He steps closer, and the hand on my cheek slips to the back of my neck, drawing me to him. He stops, a mere breath away from my face, in a question. My decision, he's saying, my choice. It's as simple as that. I close the distance, and my mouth on his is a soul-wrenching debt of truth, finally paid.

// Feel the word. //

The dam is broken, and I pull him to me in desperation. Strong arms, my arms, wrap around me in passionate response. His mouth is warm and hard against mine, and his tongue is soft. Jesus.

// Feel the word. //

His hands flow across my body, down, until they find me, my need, and wrap around it. I feel a familiar panic chasing me, but no, this is true, and there will be no more boundaries, no more ice, ever again.

// Feel the word. //

I feel his soft breath against my ear as his hands work on me. They push me up, to the edge. There is a white-hot light behind my eyes, growing brighter, and as I throw my head back, crying out, I can see the ice melting, and I am lost.

// Feel it. //

And, still curled up on the floor, I drift off, into a deep, fitful, dreamless sleep.

continued in "Homecoming" >>

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