"Wake up, sleepy head," Bobby murmured softly, running fingers through
soft brown hair.
"Go 'way," Jamie muttered, and curled up against Bobby's hip, burying
his face there.
Bobby chuckled. "C'mon. We've been at this park for hours. Long enough
for you to fall asleep, at least. I promised my mom we'd be home in
time for dinner, remember?"
Jamie groaned. "I don't think I can make it. I think I need to go
"You told her you'd be there!" Bobby protested, bending until he
was at Jamie's level. The setting sun cast orange and red lights through
Jamie's hair, lighting it on visual fire.
"I don't want to be there." Jamie looked up, blinking at Bobby. "I
don't think your dad likes me."
Bobby frowned. He'd felt the tension between the two, but was uncertain
where it was coming from. At last Bobby smiled fondly, watching hair
slide down into Jamie's face, and answered, "He'll get over it. C'mon."
Jamie sighed and got up. "Okay. But I still don't think your dad
"You've done plenty."
"You said this was your fault."
"You've ruined his life."
Jamie sat against the couch, knees pulled up, one arm hugging them
while his chin rested on the other. William's words played over and
over in his head.
"You think they'll be as likely to save his life if he's going
to tarnish that mutant image they're working so hard for?"
He hadn't wanted to hurt anyone. Least of all Bobby.
Jamie swallowed hard, ignoring the tear that fell down his face.
He was aware of it. He didn't care.
The air conditioner turned on. He shivered in his trenchcoat. Wrapped
his arms tighter around his body. Wished they were someone else's
arms. Anyone else's arms. He wished someone knew he was here, cared
enough to find him....
But knew he was worthless, unliked, unloved. He killed all the people
who tried to get close to him.
The hollowness ate at him, gnawing away until there was nothing left
but an empty shell devoid of all light. It rose up from within, swallowing
all impulse to do anything but sit.
Another tear fell down his face. Dropped, was absorbed into his coat.
His stomach growled. Jamie didn't care.
He ignored the voice; his voice.
"Jamie? It's okay," the voice whispered. A hand reached out -- his
hand -- to comfort. Jamie pulled away. He shivered again.
"I know," he said at last. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the
dupe reach out again. He didn't want that comfort. He didn't want
even himselves to know how much he hurt, and he knew instinctively
that if they touched him, if they so much as tried to hug him, he
wouldn't be able to hold back at all.
The hollowness roared with a frozen silence within.
"I'm fine," Jamie murmured. He managed to stand. From somewhere deep
within he summoned a smile to give the dupe. One foot in front of
the other. Step. Step. Step. Step. Open the door. Close it.
It was nighttime. He should change into his pajamas and go to bed.
Maybe he just wouldn't wake up.
Jamie clicked the lock, hoped he wouldn't make any more dupes during
the night. He needed to change his clothes.
He sat on the bed. The hollowness, emptiness screamed inside, shrieking
noiseless laughter, mocking him, hurting him, whispering in a voice
made of thunder that he wasn't good enough, he was cursed, he did
something wrong and now everyone died and it was his fault.
Jamie laid down on the bed, unable to shut out that voice that grew
smaller and more powerful with every word until it was only hissing
whispers that shattered all hope.
He closed his eyes against tears (self pity, disgusting, you spineless
little freak there are people with far more problems than you, stop
crying) and pulled the blankets up around his still clothed form,
unable to find the energy to change (you worthless, lazy creep,
no wonder people die to get away from you, who would want to be near
you?) and buried his face deeply into the pillow.
Maybe he wouldn't wake up. (It would be better for all involved;
even Bobby's family hates you they want you dead and can you blame
them? you killed him you jerkassholesonofabitch)
Maybe he would get so cold -- so cold it was so cold -- and fall
unconscious and die and he wouldn't have to wake up to this hollow,
empty pain inside, this pit that swallowed all hope and left only
agony in return.
Jamie's chest heaved, spasming with great gusts of air that couldn't
be sobs, couldn't be because they sounded too hopeless. Jamie had
heard people cry. That couldn't be him; that was the sound of someone
Dear God. Please let me die.
Lips kicked upward, then quickly ordered themselves back into a perfectly
straight line. Warm breath tickled his ear, moving his hair slightly.
"Wake up, Jamie."
Jamie remained resolutely clinging to sleep, even though he knew
he was already awake. He treasured these moments, though. The feeling
of sleepy contentment, knowing Bobby was nearby, breathing warmly
over him. The knowledge that when he did finally open his eyes, he'd
open them to see Bobby's smiling face.
"Jamie. Wake up, Jamie. C'mon. You know you want to."
Breath was coming nearer, and soft lips were moving right up against
his ear. Jamie felt the blush start to creep up his neck, and turned
his thoughts to sleep. They didn't stay there very long. It didn't
help that Bobby was kissing his neck.
There was a nip at his ear, and Jamie shivered.
Teeth bit down gently on the tendons in his neck, and breath grazed
over his collarbones. Jamie's breath caught in his throat, and he
tried to quiet it, to make this moment last just a little bit longer
... His eyes fluttered open and his smile spread just as Bobby's
fingers found his stomach. And tickled.
"Hey! No fair! Stop that!" Jamie laughed, trying to push Bobby away.
Bobby grinned and continued tickling Jamie mercilessly. "Ready to
"Yes!" Jamie gasped, writhing on the guest bed in Bobby's parents'
Bobby stopped and sat back on his heels, smiling fondly. "Okay."
He looked at Jamie for a moment, lazily, then blinked and looked away.
He rolled off the bed, to his feet, turning again to grin down at
Jamie. "Time to get up. I told Mom we'd run some errands for her today.
And if you don't hurry up and get dressed," Bobby continued, eyes
twinkling, "I'll have to come in there and rip your pajamas off and--"
Bobby stopped, eyebrows raising. "Oooh. On second thought, don't
Jamie smiled and stood, blushing but flattered as he shoved Bobby
out the door. "I'll be dressed in a minute, you lecherous old man!"
he mock-grumbled, closing the door with a click. He leaned against
it, stomach fluttering with ill-proportioned delight, grinning to
hear Bobby laugh as he walked away down the hall.
Bobby thought he was sexy.
Smiling widely, Jamie went to find some clothes.
"Robert, I don't think this is a good idea," Hank said, frowning
as he watched Bobby pull himself up from the hospital bed.
"Hank, I'm fine," Bobby responded hoarsely. "Or will be, in a minute.
Would you bring me some clothes?"
Hank ignored the request. "Robert, you're still very weak."
"I'm fine," Bobby sighed, glaring over at Hank. "And lying
here's only going to make me worse. I'm worrying too much to heal."
Hank frowned, but remained silent. He pulled his glasses off his
face and twirled them, then put them back on.
"No one can find Jamie. None of you even know where to look!"
"I'm sure if you hadn't lost your address book..."
Bobby shot Hank a dirty look. Like he needed to be reminded
of that fact. As if knowing that he'd inadvertently helped lose Jamie
would make him get better faster.
He sat carefully on the edge of the bed and closed his eyes, focusing.
Feeling the Cold.
There. There was air conditioning, bringing in chilled air. Bobby
focused on it, drawing the Cold into himself, feeling his body pass
over from being slightly chilled to ... nothing. His heart sped
up, and then stopped altogether. There was a stab in his spine, as
if someone had inserted an ice pick, and then it, too, was gone. Bobby
opened his eyes to see the world in shades of blue and yellow, then
turned to look at Hank, and saw his best friend in bright red. He
looked down, saw nothing at all except the deepest of blues where
his body should have been, now so frozen there was no heat at all.
Bobby breathed deeply and closed his eyes once more, slowly asking
the Cold to recede, to leave his body. It had gone deeply, far deeper
than he usually made it. Every nerve and blood vessel was ice, but
as the Cold started to withdraw they all turned back to plasma and
And then the ice was gone.
Bobby collapsed, his head pounding furiously, his heart racing as
if he'd just run twenty miles. He felt himself slipping off the edge
of the bed, unable even to hold himself up that much, and felt the
breeze from the air conditioning flutter across his skin, raising
goosebumps and making him shiver.
The cold, white tile was rushing up to meet him when warm, heavy
arms wrapped around his body and kept him from falling.
"Cold," he managed to stutter out between numb lips and clattering
"I know," Hank murmured next to him, pulling him up until they both
sat on the hospital bed and then covering them both with a blanket.
"Hank, it's Cold," Bobby whispered again, his breath so frozen it
hurt in his lungs.
"I told you you were too weak to do this," Hank muttered, pulling
Bobby closer until Hank's own immense body heat stretched to warm
Bobby buried his shaking hands in Hank's fur, curling into that warmth
instinctively. "'M I better?" he asked, feeling his eyelids heavy
and knowing he wouldn't be awake much longer.
"Yes," Hank said on a sigh. "You are better."
Bobby nodded and let himself curl into sleep, knowing that when he
woke he would feel whole again.
"Wow. That's cool," Jamie said, eyes wide.
Bobby grinned, blue eyes flashing up toward Jamie. "I don't do it
too often, because it's hard. It tires me out."
Jamie nodded. "But it's really cool." He reached out and took Bobby's
hand in his own, turning it over to look at it from all directions.
The cut that had been there a moment before was gone, first iced over
and then replaced with whole, unblemished skin.
"Yeah, and you can't do it," Bobby said, turning his hand to hold
onto Jamie's and pull him to his feet. "So let me clean up the glass,
and you go elsewhere for a minute. I'll get our sandwiches and bring
Jamie looked at the floor, obviously upset. "But I broke the
glass. I could pay you for it!"
"No," Bobby said quickly, glancing up at Jamie through lowered eyebrows.
He reached to pick up the larger glass shards, dumping them in the
"Then let me clean it up," Jamie insisted, and started to bend down.
"Jamie," Bobby growled, standing and pulling the other man up. "No."
Jamie stepped back, out of Bobby's reach. "I should at least help
somehow--" he was cut off as his foot slipped from beneath him, sliding
on a larger glass shard across the floor. Jamie cringed as he hit
the ground, another dupe appearing on one side.
"James!" Bobby called, and Jamie felt himself lifted and set clear
of the glass by ice. He reached out, head still spinning, and re-absorbed
"Are you okay?" Bobby was asking, racing up and looking very worried.
Jamie nodded dazedly.
"Now you're bleeding," Bobby growled, taking one of Jamie's hands.
He reached around and grabbed a paper towel, dabbing off the blood
and eyeing the cut on Jamie's palm. "It's not deep," he muttered after
a minute, "and doesn't have any glass in it." He snatched another
paper towel off the roll and wrapped it around Jamie's hand, putting
"Sorry," Jamie sighed after a moment.
Bobby glanced up, then smiled slightly when he saw how seriously
Jamie was taking this. "Don't be." He reached up and grazed the back
of his knuckles along Jamie's jaw. "Here. Go sit in the family room,
okay? Let me clean this up, then we'll look at your hand again and
Jamie nodded wordlessly and stood, eyes still downcast. "Sorry,"
he said again.
Bobby smiled and kissed him. "Really. Don't worry about it."
Jamie nodded and walked into the family room. He sat gingerly on
the end of the couch, trying not to disturb Bobby's father, who sat
at the far end of the room.
"What is going on in that kitchen?" the older man asked.
Jamie smiled uncertainly. "I, ah, broke a glass. I'll pay for it,
though," he offered quickly, in spite of the fact that Bobby had already
"Damn straight," William answered, looking back at the television.
"Those are my wife's favorite glasses."
"I'll get new ones," Jamie hurried to assure him.
"Good," William growled. Then, in a much quieter voice that still
carried to Jamie, "Damn clumsy kid."
Jamie looked at his feet and tried to sink lower in his chair.
"Okay, all cleaned up," Bobby said, smiling as he entered the room.
"Now let's see to that..." he petered off, glancing from his irritated
father to an obviously upset Jamie and back again. "What's going on?"
he asked finally, eyes settling on his father.
"Nothing," Jamie said quickly, and stood. "Do you have bandages for
Bobby's eyes lingered on his father, who was refusing to acknowledge
his presence. Finally, he turned to Jamie and nodded. "Yeah," he said
slowly. "They're upstairs."
Jamie hurried up the stairs ahead of him, and Bobby continued looking
at his father until the man turned, eyebrows raised.
"Your friend's waiting for you," William said quietly.
Bobby nodded wordlessly, eyeing the man, and then headed up the stairs.
"What did you say to him?" Bobby demanded, fists clenched at his
sides. A week and a half since he had woken up. Just days after that,
he'd turned into ice. That same day he'd started making phone calls
to Jamie. Every day he called, often times more than once. Every day
he left a message, asking Jamie to call him back. It had all been
ignored. He was certain that something was wrong, but he couldn't
have done it. He'd been unconscious, for Christssakes! And then his
father, a moment ago...
"I didn't say anything to him!" William answered, obviously angry.
"You said something just now. You said maybe he'd realized he was
ruining my life. Did you say that to him, Dad?" Bobby snapped. He
realized his arms had iced up, and flexed his fingers to shatter it.
"What if I did?" William bit back. "Someone needed to show him that
he wasn't just affecting himself."
"He wasn't affecting me!" Bobby shouted. "He made me happy!"
"You said yourself that people were giving you grief over being gay!"
"Yeah. You're right," Bobby snarled. "Remy teases me -- sometimes
it's irritating. Warren keeps asking me if I'll let him set me up.
Oooh, big hurtful things there."
"You said you got kicked out of a restaurant!" William pointed out.
His jaw clenched, the muscle jumping.
"I did! And you know what was great? The other X-Men left, too! And
Warren threatened to sue the guy! And we got free dinners after that!
I can deal with this stuff on my own. I don't want to lose
"He's ruining your life!" William shouted, his brown eyes flashing
in frustrated anger. "You're my son, and I don't want to see you hurt!"
"He is not ruining my life!" Bobby shouted back. "He makes me happy,
Dad! Jamie is what keeps me 'not hurt!' Can't you understand that?
I love Jamie. Yeah, it's a lot harder to date a man then it
is to date a girl. I don't care. I love him. He makes me laugh."
William shook his head, looking away. After a moment, he looked back.
"You're ruining your life -- for what? Laughter? It's not worth it."
"Says you. I happen to think I'm doing what's right. I'm sorry you
don't like it that your son dates men. But so help me God, if you've
driven Jamie away I will never forgive you," Bobby hissed. He threw
a flashing look at his mother, who sat with her head bowed at the
kitchen table, pretending that none of this was happening. Then Bobby
turned and stormed out of the house.
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