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I've not been reading the X-Men for a while, so I thought best to describe my story as being set in an alternate timeline. Historians out there, don't flame me! And hey, I love mail! E-mail your comments to: catharsis@mindless.com.
This story's a relationship piece on Iceman & the White Queen plus smaller parts for other characters.

Part 2

by Min

You never know what is enough unless
you know what is more than enough.

(The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake)

A few days later.

"Yo, Icicle," Jubilee's voice rang out through the X-Mansion. "Your angelic alter-ego's back for the hols! Where are you?"

"Ice-cube, Icy-cubicle," she shouted, rampaging through the mansion grounds in search of the introvert, elusive Iceman, she told herself. Heck! Jubilee thought, it does seem that that is exactly what he's turning into.

She finally found him at the bottom of the swimming pool. Breaking off a piece of dead branch that was becoming more abundant as the days slipped into the season, she proceeded to stir him to the surface.

"Jubilee!" He spluttered, feigning surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"It's the Hols, Dweeb! Now get up here and let me see if your chest is as smooth as I remember."

"Uh..I don't think so.."

"Okay, okay, I won't! Just let me give you a hug! I gave one to the Furball already, wouldn't be fair to forget his hairless other!"


But Bobby did as she demanded. He made an icy exit out of the pool before changing back to his human form to receive her squeeze around his ribs.

"You've really chosen a funny season for holidays," he observed.

"We're a special school, so what?"

"So how long are you going to grace us with your presence?"

"Oh, 'bout a week..." Jubilee's attention was wandering off. When she spied a soon-to-be hapless Bishop in a distance, she disentangled her hands and bounded for her new prey. "Be seeing yah, Drake!"

He hoped it would not be soon. He waited to see her pounce on Bishop before smiling at her endless energy. The house needed all the laughter she could give after all that had happened over the year. Bobby entered the house and was climbing the stairs to return to his room, when the door to the study opened and Emma Frost stepped out of the room together with Ororo and Hank.

He stopped dead on his tracks while Emma merely gave him a cursory glance. Hank hailed his friend as the trio passed to move into the hall. "I see that our Jubilation has left her imprinting mark on you, Bobby, although I must admire your face for only being an impeccable shade of white."

He made his way directly to his room. Her appearance since that Saturday evening could not be timelier since Bobby's memories had been increasingly peppered with images of her nowadays. Just last night, he woke up in a cold sweat - she had been appearing in his dreams, each manifestation less innocent than the previous. Bobby had been horrified at the dream and especially at his own responses. He shivered and tried to dismiss those thoughts, changing into his costume for a Danger Room workout.

As Bobby progressed deeper and deeper into the heart of the mansion, the elegant woodwork that characterised the outer form of the house gradually gave way to metallic walls and the background hum of Shi'ar technology. Very soon, the softwood panels were replaced by steel walls punctured intermittedly with electrical terminals and lacquered oak doors by yellow-black striped bulk heads while his footsteps echoed dully on the smooth and shiny floor devoid of any carpeting.

This was a hidden aspect of the house that casual visitors never realised existed; a house that contrived to conceal its real nature within the soft folds of a disguise. His mind wandered to Emma Frost again, and for the first time, he realised how fitting she was as a personification of the mansion. Insidiously sensual, she would burrow deep into another psyche while maintaining the facade of physical helplessness.

He programmed the day's practice which involved building ice-shields against gouts of fire in near-volcanic temperatures. It was one of the more radical approaches he took to train himself these days, but today Bobby's mind wandered dangerously as he tried to freeze the humid air into ice faster than the fire could melt it.

The source of this diligence was somewhere on the grounds. Part of him wanted Emma Frost to see the progress he had made over the months, while the other part wished that she would be gone as quickly as possible. His mind ran systematically through creating the ice while the Danger Room began to fog up badly as steam and frost struggled to dominate the atmosphere.

Visibility became so bad that he could not see the observation chamber or the person who was watching him, and a tone that signified a program-change was all the warning that Bobby had.

"What the - "

Before he could do anything, all the fire disappeared, to be replaced by a hard vacuum. The air rushed out of the vents in a high-pitched shriek and Bobby began to gasp for breath as the temperature in the room dropped perceptibly.

"Computer, terminate program!"

"Negative, program initiation has bypassed overriding securities."

Frantically, Bobby sought out every existing air vent in the room to block them with ice while the popping of his ears testified to the severity of the air pressure loss. Even when he filled the last vent up, he heard the sound of ice cracking as the first few stoppages threatened to give way under the power of the pneumatic pumps.

Slopes of ice covered the room after he took several minutes to make sure that the whole area was airtight. When the job was done, he became aware of an increasing lightness in his head and the painfulness of breathing. The remaining air in the room was dispersed too thinly and unconsciousness was threatening to take over.

Bobby staggered across the room to punch the manual release for the door. It refused to open. The pinpricks of light in his vision increased but just as he was beginning to lose consciousness -

"Computer, terminate program, Code Alpha 09158."

Bobby faintly felt the rivers of running water at his feet as system controls returned the room to its neutral status. The air-vents, freed from any obstructions, started working normally again and consciousness returned to him gradually.

The first impulse was to search the observation chamber window and his angry eyes found the White Queen staring back at him. Disregarding the expression on her face, Bobby shouted.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Frost? Who gave you the permission to command the computer? Are you trying to get me killed?"

"Apparently, I didn't try hard enough." Her reply came back over the intercom.

Bobby punched the release switch to the door and tore out of the room to confront her in the chamber. He found her standing calmly at the top of the stairs instead, waiting for him. Her cool posture calmed him somewhat - just enough that he held back from wrapping her up in ice or employing some other equally drastic measure.

Pointing in the direction of the Danger Room, he asked again in clenched teeth. "What was that suppose to mean?"

"You made the mistake by freezing your entire breathing atmosphere into ice just to stop those few pathetic vents. There are less excessive ways to solve the problem."

"Oh yeah, you tell me."

"You could have tried to shatter the pump machinery with cold from where you were or concentrated in forming a smaller breathing area by sealing part of the room up."

"Bullshit, Frost! You were not in the same situation as I was. You were not the lab-rat in your own experiment!"

"Believe me Drake, I would have done those things if I were you and in your situation."

Bobby's eyes narrowed in the ensuing silence.

"Is this your ploy to get even with me because of that night? If it is, you've stooped very low indeed. You want to see me grovel, right, so that you can reassert your self-ego!"

For a moment, an indescribable emotion flitted across Emma's features but just as quickly, it was followed by a mask came over her face, like a wall that drove in between the two of them.

"You wanted me to see your improvement, Drake." She spoke in a taut voice. Its impassivity was such that each syllable fell like a dagger on him. "I read that in your mind when I came in. I've seen it and what I've seen, makes me think even less of you than before."

And she brushed past him brusquely, leaving him to stand in the stairwell alone.

continued >>

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