Disclaimer: The X-Men characters, and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant to impinge on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the X-Men and related characters in any way.
Copyright: This work of FanFiction and the original characters described within are the intellectual property of K-NICE and her IRL persona. No copying, distributing or editing of this material is permitted without the express permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright law.
NOTE: Continuity diverges after X-Men #71, Uncanny X-Men #350, and X-Men Unlimited #18.

Spring Thaw: Lord of Illusions
by K-Nice

That was the one thought that dominated Bobby's mind. The woman at the bar was gorgeous. Her platinum blonde hair fell seductively into her eyes and she was watching him. Carefully. She had been his waitress during happy hour but now it seemed she was off-duty. He sauntered over to her across the crowded floor of Mickey's Bar and Grill, his more of a drunken swagger then anything else. He would have offered to buy her a drink but he was flat broke and less than coherent. He just sat down next to her and stared.

And stared some more. He would have drooled if his mouth wasn't so dry.

He's definitely drunk, the woman decided.

He didn't even ask her name or her sign or anything for that matter. He grabbed her wrist as she reached for her drink.

"Y'wanna dance?"

"Sure, stranger, but maybe we could go somewhere at little more private and, uh, dance naked." She delivered the line with a coy smile and a hand on his upper thigh.

Bobby's mouth dropped when he realized she wasn't kidding. She simply stood up and walked to the back of the bar. He hesitated, some lingering sober thoughts trying to get him to consider the situation, but in the end the power of Hennessy won out and he followed her.

When he closed the "Employee's Only" door behind him, he was somewhat shocked to see her naked except for the complicated black web of lace and straps that almost kept her legal. She advanced toward him and put her hands around his neck. He found himself swaying with her to the pounding music form inside the bar. He put his hands around her waist. She's so warm and nice and soft and sweet smelling and . . .

She whispered into his ear, "I'll even discount the price."

He looked at her quizzically. He was not so green that he did not (now) realize that she was a hooker, but he was drunk enough that he contemplated her offer, for an instant wondering what the price would be.

He suddenly shook himself, pulling away. His mind was starting to catch up with the world around him.

She got a hurt look in her eyes. "Listen, I like you, I mean, I think you're cute and everything but Mickey'll bust my face if I give it away."

Bobby suddenly felt very hot. He knew he was blushing uncontrollably. Even drunk, he embarrassed easily. But then again, I doubt anyone could keep their cool in a situation like this.

He wanted desperately to think, to cool down so he could think whole thoughts again. He began to cool the room and before he realized it, he was covered with a thin layer of ice.

Her scream was overwhelmed by the heavy bass of the music. He realized what he hand done a reached out to comfort he. She shrieked, "Get away from me, you freak."

"NO!" he cried as she ran from the room. He ran after her, but she went straight to the bar, pulling frantically at Mickey and pointing at him. She was still strutting in her lingerie, which earned a few catcalls and began to gather a crowd. The mob of hooting drunks gave Bobby cover to run back out into the anteroom. He stumbled in the dark hallway searching for an exit. The glowing red "EXIT" sign looked like a beacon from heaven. He ran out the door into a tar black alley.

He turned to the right, toward the street and saw Mickey, the girl and two burly bouncers. Bobby took one look and turned tail to the left. The black bouncer jumped him just as he neared the other side of the tunnel. He wanted to flash-freeze the guys before they started pounding him, but even plastered he was a student of Charles Xavier. He knew using his powers would just fan the flames and make things worse. He had never really applied himself to hand-to-hand combat since his powers were so much easier to use in most battles. Now he wished he had. He was dizzy and his arm felt numb, but the two musclemen were still hitting him. He heard Mickey call them off and wondered why. Ah, never lose faith in human compassion. I think my spleen has been saved.

Then he heard the unmistakable sound on a gun being cocked. He knew he had to run. He kicked out with his legs and punched with his good arm at whatever he could reach. As Mickey and the boys grabbed their shins, he ran for the mouth of the alley. It spit him out into the street, just as Mickey rose his gun to shoot. A dogwalker steeped between Bobby and the alley and Mickey put his gun away. As Mikey tucked it into the waist of his jeans, Bobby ran out into the street.

"That mutie just raped my waitress. Let's get him."

The word "mutie" awakened the passersby, and several surly young men ran up to join the posse.

Bobby too heard the call to arms and broke into a dead run. He tried to dodge pedestrians but left a few bruised shoulders in his wake. He also left an easy trail for the little mob to follow. He was disoriented and hurting. Bobby know he couldn't run much longer. He was too far from anything and anyone he knew to expect help.

Suddenly he had a thought. Warran was in town. Ol' Ange will help me out. We're buds! He saw a subway terminal a block over. He sprinted in the station, vaulted over the turnstile and dashed into a departing (A) train before it took off. He pushed his way into the crowd and clung to a handle for dear life. Bobby's heart was pounding as the train left the station. The mob was arguing with the token vender and a traffic cop.

He almost crowed with pleasure. He had managed to get himself out of some serious trouble without his powers and without the X-Men. As the adrenaline rush began to fade, he was struck by this new feeling of self-sufficiency. During Zero Tolerance he had been too scared and unsure to be excited. Now he felt the rush that came with day-to-day survival. I could get into this.

Bobby stayed on the train as passengers came and went until he and a little old lady were the only ones in the car. He was shocked to hear the conductor say last stop (at least that's what it sounded like). He got off the train a tried to figure out were he was. The northern end of Brooklyn. It was late, well after midnight. He got on a train back downtown and picked up his parent's car.

As he drove back to Long Island, he realized he wasn't quite ready for the gutsy life of barmaids and bar brawls. He wasn't Cyclops, but he wasn't Logan either. He needed to find his way.

Maybe the daily grind wouldn't be so bad. At least I would have something to get up for in the morning. He let out a drunken hoot. Monday he was going job hunting. He was finally going somewhere.

"Now we're getting somewhere!" Stan was awestruck. She was beautiful. And intelligent. The John Doe was looking better, even breathing better, after only a few hours of her attention. She said her name was Magdalene Dodger, Maggie for short. That was all she would say about herself, or the John Doe -- except he instructions about how to treat him. He was still pale and his face was badly chaffed and sunburned but Stan could tell that he was a looker. She's probably his lover, come all this way to rescue his stupid behind. Some losers have all the luck. Still, Stan had certain hopes toward her.

He had spent most of the last day shuttling around on her behalf, getting the supplies she asked for, hoping to ingratiate himself. Stan had contemplated her every moment since she had arrived. She came with a Red Cross emergency pack. The pilot had referred to her as Nurse Dodger, and she had come from North America, namely New England. The accent gave that away. Maybe, maybe she was just some Good Samaritan doctorette who wanted to mend the little mutant. Maybe she really was studying hypothermia treatment methods like her itinerary said. Maybe she would be so grateful for his help, she would thank him creatively. Maybe she didn't even know the John Doe. Maybe she did but she was a slut and it wouldn't matter. Maybe.

However he kept his speculations to himself as he peeked into the room to see if perhaps she was free to share a beer or something. Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline. She was wearing tight snow pants, a ski sweater, boots and a headband. All that curly brown hair had kept falling in her eyes, and he had brought her the headband to keep it up. It also made her look like the ultimate snow bunny. Stan stepped inside, watching her message the patient. He had brought her all the Vaseline he had in storage. Medicated, Aloe, Sensitive Skin, everything. Even the lotions. She was smoothing the creams into the John Doe's cracked skin, trying to force his muscles back into to action. His skin was turning lurid pink, not only from the harsh winds and cold he had endured but also from the blood vessels she was coaxing back to health.

She suddenly turned her dark blue eyes in his direction. "Did you want something?"

Stan stammered, "Uh, no, no, I was just checking to see how things were going."

"Really." She rose from her crouch by the cot with fluid grace and walked toward him. "I thought maybe you thought I was lonely and in need of some company."

"Yeah, yeah, that too."

"Well," her voice deepened seductively, "you don't need to worry about me. I'll be just fine. But if I need you, I'll be sure to let you know."

The way she said need was enough to make Stan wish for a few quiet moments alone. He departed with a mumbled "See ya later."

"Not if I can help it." She said to the closing door. "Pervert!"

Her angry outburst roused her patient. "Hey, whasgoinon?"

"Oh, nothing," suddenly the bright, cheery Nurse Maggie again, "but it is time for me to finish your massage." She gave a somewhat sinister chuckle. "You do want me . . . to finish the massage."

Remy couldn't help it. Flirting just came naturally, even when he could barely open his mouth to say the words. "Proceed, chère, there's so much left for us to do." He laughed with her for a second before his lungs began to burn again.

She returned to her crouched position near his feet. The rest of his body remained under the piles of covers as she began to rub the Vaseline into his skin. She hummed quietly, something that tickled Remy's memory, something familiar yet belonging to a place long ago and far away.

He began to drift again, caught in the dreams that had plagued him since the trial. Dreams of the past. Dreams of her. Or more accurately, them. Alex, Genevieve, Sarah, Bella, Ororo. Rogue.

The women he had hurt the most in his attempts to love them. Not one of them had escaped the pain and suffering knowing him had brought upon them. And there seemed to be nothing he could do to make reparations, nothing he could say to make it all better. They had all fallen for his words, his charm, but those would not help him win them back. Day and night he dreamed of them. Of what he had done to them. Of what they had done to him. Of what he would do to make things right again. Each dream was a nightmare in its own way, leaving him breathless and drained, stealing the strength he needed to recover. It was the dreams that had kept him walking aimlessly when he should have found shelter from the elements. It was the dreams that held him in their arms and rocked him to sleep in a snow drift. It was the dreams that clouded his mind so much that he couldn't quite remember why that tune was so familiar. He drifted.

Maggie watched his eyelids fall, his breathing slow to gently rasping gasps, his muscles relax from their cold-induced rigor. She continued to run her glowing fingers along his feet, feeding the heat into him. She applied more lubricant to keep from burning him and raised the level of her power. She made the very cells of his body . . . charge. Maggie could feel his cells moving. She pushed them to move faster. She focused on the minute changes in speed, on atoms, on electrons. The world melted away as she tried to affect all of him at once. If she charged too small an area by too much, she could kill him. She shut her eyes and 'saw' his cells, felt them moving. "Faster," she begged them.

Slowly, painstakingly, she "charged" all of him. His body temperature rose. One degree, two degrees, but he was still below the normal range. Maggie looked up suddenly. That was all she could do for now. Totally drained, she looked at her watch. She had 12 hours before she had to catch the flight back home. She crawled onto cot beside him and let her body glow gently. As they slept, they wrapped their arms around each other, becoming a tangle of arms and legs.

In the morning, Remy woke disoriented. He had dreamed of home. Of New Orleans. Of his childhood in Jean-Luc LeBeau's home. They were good dreams. He felt . . . better. Actually, healthier. As he began to grow more aware of his surroundings, he realized he was not alone. He cracked his eyes open and then shut them quickly. There were no lights on to bother his eyes, but he was sure he was still dreaming.

"Morning, love. How art thou?" The woman had her back to him and was getting dressed for very cold weather.

"Whadya do to your hair?" It was long and curly, and a darker brown than he remembered it being.

"What did you do to yourself, love? You're a mess."

Obviously the hair is a sore point. Fine. So is the mess I'm in. "Thought I'd get a change of pace and vacation done south." Way down south. He got the response he was hoping for. She grinned at him and continued dressing.

He tried to rise from the bed, but he was still too weak. The muscles in his arms and legs were starved and achy. Instead, he took an inventory of himself. He felt warmer than he had in days. But his fingers wouldn't straighten no matter how hard he tried. His eyes were way too raw to brave daylight, and his skin felt like he'd taken a thousand GI showers. He really was a mess.

He was actually no longer on the cot; he was wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags on some sort of pallet. It seemed like they were getting ready to go somewhere. "Where we goin'?"

"We've got a plane to catch . . . in four hours. It's two or three hours by dogsled so we're leaving in a few minutes." She turned to him and knelt by his side. "There are a few details we need to work out. Like a name for you." She pulled a pen and a passport from her rucksack. "Who shall we be today, hmm?"

He was silent for several minutes, looking at the blank space on his new passport. Who did he want to be today. All of his old aliases seemed trite now. He was coming back from the dead. He needed something with meaning. "Joseph Summers."

"Ohh, that's a good one: bland, innocuous, normal. I like it." She carefully forged the passport with his new name. "Speaking of aliases, babe, it's Nurse Maggie Dodger," (she gave a fake salute) "until I say different, okay? No slips, alright? Besides, there's nothing more exciting then spending some time as someone you're not. Right?"

"Right." Remy answered her in a whisper.


"I am trying."

"Then try harder!"

The transport was leaving for South America in two hours, and Stan's dogsled was stuck in a sinkhole in the snow. Maggie was fuming. Joseph sat in the snow, shivering. All the work she had done to get him back to good health was being undone in a matter of minutes as the cold worked its way back into his bones. Her thoughts threatened to drift to his physical condition and the emotional scars that clouded his face periodically.

Stan worked to lift the sled, to prod its rear end out of the sinkhole. Understandably distressed, the dogs were going ballistic. Maggie longed to heat the air and melt the snow until the sled was freed but 1) she needed to conserve her powers for the delicate process of healing, 2) once the ice and snow started to melt, there was no telling how far it would go (she might destroy a whole chunk of the continent, and 3) there would be no hope of Stan just forgetting about them or the incident if she did something to drastic.

Maggie struggled to detach herself, to fall back into her cover as a dutiful nurse, but "hers" was in danger and Maggie's loyalty went deeper than her professionalism. She needed to catch that plane.

She walked over to the struggling Stan and reached out with the powers tentatively. Her power acted as a catalyst, momentarily increasing his strength. Stan's sudden push freed the sled and they were on their way again.

None of them spoke. Stan's mouth was working but wasn't saying anything of importance. His mind was racing, trying to find another way to keep this woman on his cold island until her could learn her secret, taste her pleasures, but the dogs seemed especially agile, running with unprecedented strength and speed.

As the airstrip came into view, Stan's heart sank. The cargo plane was still on the runway. He had always looked forward to the planes and the supplies they brought, but now he cursed it. As her reined the dogs up by the "airport," he looked at his passengers. The woman's eyes were eager, as if she couldn't wait to leave him. The night before he had seen her in bed with the John Doe. If she would sleep with a cripple, he definitely had a chance. As the crew unloaded the sled of the medical supplies and blankets, he gave her one last once-over.

The co-pilot and a crewmember carried Joseph onto the gangplank, and Maggie hung back next to the sled. Maggie consciously made herself look edible. Hip there, chest here, breath like this, eyes like so, okay let's go. Stan's usual desire for her welled to the surface and became overwhelming. As he drew nearer to her, she pulled a hypodermic needle from the folds of her coat. He simply stared at her panting as she drove the tiny needle into the side of his neck. As the chemicals rushed through his brain her voice became a windstorm in his burning ears. "This has all been a dream, a fantasy. We were never here. None of this ever happened." In a week, he would be convinced it was all a dream, and he would be bragging about it at the local tavern, if there is such a thing at the bottom of the world.

Maggie stepped away from him as he reached to fondle her. She rushed up the stairs of the plane and bid farewell to the ice. She settled down beside her exhausted patient, waiting quietly through the pre-flight check. When they finally got into the air, she looked at her watch. It was Saturday morning. She was missing her cartoons.

continued >>

-(main) - (biography) - (discussion) - (stories) - (pictures) - (links) - (updates)-