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High School Sucks

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John spent most of his mornings in the mansion doing the exact same thing. Complaining, mostly to himself due to his obnoxious roommates annoying habit of actually waking up before classes start and eating breakfast, about how fucking cold it was in his room and putting on whatever item of clothing that resided on his and Bobby’s shared floor that smelt the best. He glanced over at Bobby’s vacated and unmade bed and tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach as he though of him sitting across some table in the dining hall with Rogue looking at her like some lovesick puppy. He was just hungry, that’s what that was. Totally nothing else. Nope. 

His hunger could, and would, be satisfied by whatever leftovers Bobby would save him but his low body temperature could not be fixed with food. He huffed, and rolled his eyes when he realized he could see his breath, and picked a jacket off of their floor. He slid his arms through and heard a lighter fall out of his pocket. He picked up the lighter and lit a flame, hopping the feeling of the fire burning rushing through his veins could counteract the feeling. 

It did. A little. He was still fucking cold. He made a note to complain to Xavier about his shitty air conditioning, or maybe his shitty best friend. He knew Bobby was trying, but fuck John was from Australia and he had barely adjusted to New York weather. Now he had to deal with the lowest temperatures in the mansion, all because some bald asshole thought it would be a good idea to put the two kids with polar opposite mutations together. 

John shook himself out and snuffed the flame, exiting the room. Maybe if he did some jumping jacks he’d warm up. But then he’d also look like a complete idiot, and he would rather not do that. He slid the lighter back into his pocket and dragged his feet along the ground as he headed to their first class. Mathematics. With Summers of all people. The last thing he wanted to do in the morning was math and the last face he wanted to see was Scott Summers’. No offense to him, of course. 

At least he could sit next to Bobby and bug him. But he would also have to deal with Bobby desperately vying for Rogue’s attention. The kid was seriously trying way too hard, and everyone could see it. He was overcompensating. Everyone could see that too. Well, everyone except Bobby. Jesus, he wished Bobby could just open his eyes. But no, Bobby was stubborn and kind of opaque, so he would never accept that fact that Rogue was 100% not into him and was 100% never going to be into him. Maybe if he wasn’t so fucking blind to the world he could recognize that the person who was 100% into him was standing right in front of him. Literally right in front of him. Okay well, behind him. But still. 

“Earth to Bob,” John muttered, rolling his eyes as he came to a stop behind Bobby. “You done staring yet?”

Bobby jumped and John grinned widely.  

“I wasn’t staring,” Bobby protested, the air around them cooling down. John shoved his hands into the pocket of his jacket and pretended he was warmer than he actually was. 

Bobby always got so embarrassed when he realized he couldn’t control his powers. That’s why John had stopped leaving glasses of water out for Bobby to accidentally freeze in his sleep. Trying to wake up before him to defrost them had been, literally, exhausting, and way too much work. 

“Sure you weren’t,” John said, casually throwing his arm around Bobby’s shoulder. He grinned harshly as Kitty walked past them and glanced at him knowingly. She really needed to learn how to mind her own business. “What’s for breakfast?”

Bobby rolled his eyes and slid out from underneath John’s arm. “Blueberry muffin,” he replied, unzipping his backpack and pulling out one that had been carefully wrapped in a napkin. “And orange juice.” 

John grinned as Bobby handed him the muffin and a small bottle of orange juice. Who needed to get up early to eat breakfast when your roommate would just save you some? 

“Ugh, I love you Drake,” John said, graciously accepting the food. The tips of Bobby’s ears turned red. 

“Whatever, Allerdyce” he muttered. “Let’s just get to class.”

“After you, kind sir.”

John laughed as Bobby rolled his eyes and walked into the classroom. Bobby nodded at Summers in greeting and this time it was John’s turn to roll his eyes. He offered the teacher a slightly shark-like grin, which was meet with the mans usual deadpan expression, and made his way to his and Bobby’s usual seats. He slid into his customary spot, placed in the middle of the class due to Bobby’s aversion to the very back and his aversion to the very front, pushed his chair back, and placed his beat up converse clad feet on the desk. Bobby glanced over at him and simply dropped his bag down and flopped into his chair. 

“What?” John asked, talking around the muffin he had just shoved in his mouth. “Got girl problems?”

Bobby glared at him. “No, I don’t have girl problems.”

“Well then where is she? What you stared at her so much that she doesn’t even want to come to class now? That’s a shame.”

John didn’t really think it was a shame. He was pretty relieved to see Rogue not here, sitting in what was apparently now her customary seat, right in front of Bobby and annoyingly diagonal to him. He could see her whole profile, brand new Magento-induced white streak and all. Bobby thought it looked cool. Made sure to tell her that and everything. John thought it was fucking dumb. He rolled his eyes at the thought and ate the rest of the muffin. Blueberry was never his favorite, but at least it was something. 

John glanced up when he heard Jubilee’s boots squeaking against the hardwood floor. He grinned at her as she popped a piece of gum in her mouth and straightened out her customary yellow jacket. 

“Jubes,” John said, his voice light. “Nice of you to join us.”

“Guess you have the opposite of girl problems,” Bobby muttered to him. 

John crinkled his nose and turned toward Bobby. He was staring intently at the door, as if that would suddenly make Rogue appear. 

“What?” John said, as Jubilee sat down behind him. 

“Nothing,” Bobby replied, shooting him a forced grin. 

“What’s up, Johnny? Chilly today?” Jubilee said loudly, and John figured it would be best off ignoring Bobby. If he couldn’t stare at Rogue of course he would be staring at the door, the only place Rogue could enter the room. Because he just had to know where she was 24/7. 

“Yeah real fucking cold today,” John replied quietly, not wanting Bobby to hear. 

Jubilee nodded and drummed her nails on the desk. It made John’s hands itch to snap his zippo open and closed. Instead he quietly clenched them into fists and tried to control their restlessness. 

“Allerdyce, feet off the desk,” Summers called out from the front of the classroom.

“Yessir,” John replied, mock saluting, his feet never moving from his desk. 

He tipped his chair back to where his head could rest on Jubilee’s desk. He interrupted her taping, but she didn’t seem that upset by it. 

“Fuck Summers,” John muttered and Jubilee snorted. 

“You wish,” she replied, grinning. 

She blew a bubble gum bubble and John reached out to pop it. 

“Hey!” Jubilee said, swatting at his hands. John laughed and jerked himself forwards, the front edge of his chair connecting with the ground again. It made a loud bang and caused an increasingly annoyed Scott Summers to look in his direction. 

“Allerdyce,” Summers said again. John rolled his eyes. 

“Yeah yeah,” John muttered, glancing over at Bobby. He was looking at John with a weird expression that he couldn’t place. “Feet off the desk or I scrape the gum off the bottom or whatever other antiquated punishment you have for me. I know the drill.”

Summers merely looked at him and John slid his feet off the desk. 

“You happy?” He asked, sarcastically. 

“Ecstatic,” Summers replied, his tone equally as biting. Bobby snorted. John flicked the side of his head. 

“Shut up, Bobby,” John muttered. “Where’s your girlfriend?”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Bobby protested, his ears turning red. No matter how many times John would see it, he’d still think it was adorable. Fuck. Adorable? Jesus Christ, he bet that was how Bobby thought about Rogue. Ugh. No. 

“Whatever you say. Where is she?”

“Right there,” Jubilee whispered in his ear. John hadn’t even noticed she had leaned forward. 

“Fuck!” John exclaimed, startled at how close she was. He felt his temperature spike up and glanced over at Bobby who had clearly felt it too, if the ice crackling around his feet was any clue. “Jesus Christ, Jubes.”

“Allerdyce,” Summers scolded him again. “Language.”

“Sir yes sir,” John said, forcing his temperature to drop and willing his heart to stop racing. “Won’t happen again, sir.” 

John calmed down and watched as the ice gathering around Bobby’s feet crept away. John shook his head and slid off the jacket he was wearing. At least he wasn’t cold anymore. 

Rogue turned towards the group of three and smiled. 

“Hey y’all,” she drawled. John hated that fucking accent. “How’re doing?”

“Just fine, sugah,” John replied, mocking her. Rogue ignored him. 

“Better than biscuits,” Jubilee responded and John snorted. Rogue ignored her too. 

“That’s not even a saying,” Bobby said, jumping to Rogue’s defense. How fucking predictable. “And we’re good. We’re all good. Isn’t that right, guys?”

“Right as rain,” John said, grinning. 

Rogue turned her attention to John and narrowed her eyes slightly. What the fuck was she looking at?

“Is that Bobby’s?” She asked.

“What?” John replied, incredulous. 

“You’re shirt. It’s Bobby’s.”

How could she have noticed that if John himself hasn’t even noticed it? John and Bobby’s lives were so entwined that they wore each others clothes all the time. 99% of the time it wasn’t even on purpose, as John rarely payed attention to whatever shirt he was wearing. He would usually just throw a worn flannel over it or a jacket. Sometimes both, especially if Bobby had had a nightmare the night before. But he hadn’t so while John was cold he had also been exhausted this morning and didn’t have the energy to forage for a flannel. And now he was too hot and had actually taken his jacket off. Maybe that’s why Rogue had finally noticed. There was nothing to hide his shirt and there was nothing to hide the fact that it obviously wasn’t his. 

John glanced down at the shirt he was wearing. Yeah. It very obviously wasn’t his. It advertised a high school that John had never set foot in, so yeah how could it be his. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John said stubbornly and Jubilee snickered behind him. 

Why would Rogue point out his shirt but not ever bother to say anything to Bobby. John glanced over at him and looked down at what he was wearing. Like Rogue thought Bobby of all fucking people just listened to Joyce Manor and owned their shirts. John knew that was his. Bobby knew that was his. Rogue had to know couldn’t possibly be Bobby’s. So why would she bother pointing out his shirt and not Bobby’s? What was she trying to be a bitch? Was she trying to make him like her less?

Bobby glanced over at him and squinted at the shirt. He knew it was his. John knew it was his. Everyone knew that they were wearing each others shirts, what was Rogue getting at trying to point it out. Everyone knew that they always wore each other’s clothes. But Rogue was new, so Rogue must not have known. Yet the fact that she knew the shirt was Bobby’s in the first place slightly unsettled John. He didn’t see why she felt the need to take so much stock in Bobby’s wardrobe. Maybe she knew where Bobby went to school before Xavier’s, but she sure as hell didn’t know where he had went to school. 

“It’s actually mine,” Jubilee said, smiling sweetly at Rogue. “Not Bobby’s. Easy confusion, though. We both went there.”

Bobby nodded uncomfortably and turned his attention away from the conversation and to the front of the board where Summers was preparing to start his lesson. Jubes was lying through her teeth for him and he didn’t even bother to acknowledge it. Or correct her. Everyone knew Jubilee was from California. Everyone. Whatever. 

John sighed and reached his discarded jacket pocket for a lighter. He frowned when he didn’t fine one, wondering if he simply dropped the one he had earlier. His frown deepened as he searched the pocket of his jeans to find that they both didn’t contain a lighter. 

He tapped his foot restlessly and glanced over at Bobby who slowly slid a lighter out of his pocket and placed it on John’s desk. John grinned and Rogue frowned as she watched the interaction take place. 

“Rogue, if you’d care to face forward,” Summers said, but he was soft on her. His tone was nowhere near the one he used when he was talking to John. It just made him resent Rogue more. 

Her whole face turned red and she turned to face the front of the class. 

“Sorry,” she muttered sheepishly. God, of course she fucking apologized. 

Chapter Text

“Scoot over,” John muttered to Bobby as he walked over to the table they usually say at. He glanced over at Rogue who was sitting awkwardly far away from Bobby and everyone else, her chair pushed away from the table. 

 

Bobby obliged and John sunk into the seat next to him, dropping his lunch tray on the table. He sat closer to Bobby than was probably necessary and was relieved when Bobby didn’t flinch away when their knees bumped into each other’s. But, it’s not like it meant anything. Bobby was his friend. Just his friend. Never anything more. 

 

“Hey, Johnny,” Jubilee said in a singsong voice as she sat down in the empty seat on the other side of him. John nodded at her. “What’s up, Bobby? Rogue.”

 

Rogue smiled at her, and John did his best not to roll his eyes. Instead he glanced over at Jubilee who grinned at him in response. Who needed telepathy when they could communicate in glances? Take that Dr. Grey. Unless of course Dr. Grey happens to be reading my mind at this point in time, then don’t take that. Just let me keep it. Thanks Dr. Grey. 

 

“Hey Jubilee,” Rogue said. John felt like he was going to puke. Bobby didn’t say anything. John wondered if he should ask him what’s wrong. No. He’d do that later back in the privacy of their own room. Bobby was always weirdly anal when it came to his privacy. John was pretty sure it was a complex or something, but he usually zoned out in psychology so he couldn’t exactly nail it down. 

 

“Hey, Kitty,” Bobby called out. He must have seen her wandering around wondering who to sit with. You think she would’ve figured it out by now. “We’re over here.”

 

Kitty smiled at them and walked over them, choosing to sit next to Rogue and opposite of John. Rogue scooted a little further from her. John assumed the rest of the table was going to pretend not to notice it just like he was. 

 

“G’day Kit Kat,” John said and she rolled her eyes at the nickname. 

 

“Good afternoon, Saint John,” she replied and John rolled his eyes at her formality. 

 

“Kitty. Please, mate.”

 

She grinned and Bobby laughed quietly. Rogue’s eyes darted between them and John ignored Jubilee as she stole his fries. He simply reached over and took the soda off her tray and drank it. He put the can back on her tray and smiled innocently. 

 

“John.” Jubilee said, as if he had committed heresy of the highest order. “How dare you.”

 

She reached over and shocked John. He jerked to the side and closer to Bobby, who watched with amusement. 

 

“Fuckin hell Jubilee,” John said, resting his hand on Bobby’s thigh. He heard Bobby make a tiny noise in the back of his throat, but he didn’t say anything. Rogue’s eyes quickly darted to John’s hand and he couldn’t tell if it was jealously or genuine curiosity in her eyes. Kitty only smirked. “You know that hurts like a bitch.”

 

Jubilee stuck her tongue out at him and John rolled his eyes and moved his hand from Bobby’s thigh, scooting back over to where he was before. His hand was tingling because of how cold Bobby had been. It was as if he was frozen. He glanced over at Bobby, half expecting his lower half to be encased in ice. It wasn’t, but it still shocked John at how low Bobby could make his body’s temperature drop, voluntary or not. He shook out his hand and exhaled, watching his breath cloud in front of him. 

 

“Don’t take my shit,” she responded. 

 

“You were literally taking mine two seconds ago.”

 

“It’s different.”

 

“It’s literally not different at all. Whatsoever. There is literally no difference.”

 

“Incorrect.”

 

“Correct! Bobby, back me up here.”

 

John turned to look at Bobby who’s brown eyes had glazed over. 

 

“Bobby?” 

 

Bobby stood up abruptly, pushing himself away from the table and picking up his tray. 

 

“I-uh-I gotta go,” Bobby stuttered, gripping his tray tightly. John watched as he walked away and to the trash can, throwing out the tray that was now completely frozen solid. 

 

John sat watching him go, feeling like he was stuck in his chair. He glanced down to make sure that his feet weren’t frozen to the ground. 

 

Jubilee hummed quietly and popped her gum. John hadn’t even realized she had put a piece in her mouth. She said something, but John didn’t completely hear her, his brain running frantically as if it could detach itself from his body and chase after Bobby. Who knew, maybe it could. Maybe this was just him discovering a dormant secondary mutation and his brain would indeed claw itself out of his head and chase after his fleeing best friend. That would be fucking insane. 

 

“Johnny?” Jubilee asked, poking him in the side. This time she didn’t shock him. He couldn’t even be grateful for that. 

 

“I’ll be right back,” John muttered, finally unsticking himself. He got up and left his tray on table and followed after Bobby. 

Chapter Text

“Bobby!” John called, as he ran after him. Well, not ran. More like urgently walked as to not cause a scene. “Hey, wait up!”

 

Bobby didn’t stop. In fact, John thought he had started walking faster. Great, now John had to walk faster. Now he has to actually run after him. So much for not causing a scene. Well, at least no one was around to see him run after his best friend. Everyone was either in their rooms or the dining hall. Thank god for lunchtime. 

 

“Bobby, what the hell,” John hissed, reaching out to grab Bobby’s wrist. 

 

He pulled away almost immediately when he felt his hand start to freeze over. The ice felt like it was on the inside of him. He watched as the rest of the hallway filled with ice, which crept dangerously close to John. 

 

“Jesus Christ, just leave me alone for once John!” Bobby said, his voice rising. “Just leave me alone!”

 

John watched numbly as Bobby walked away from him and unable to follow. This time he was actually frozen to the ground, the ice slowly creeping up his legs. He stood shivering and half helpless as his frozen right hand started to turn blue. 

 

It was like his brain had stopped working and he was left stuck. Frozen. Literally frozen. Left to be consumed by the ice that was creeping up his legs and getting dangerously close to spreading on his upper body. John did what he did best. Panicked. 

 

He exhaled frantically and felt his heart rate quicken, as if that could melt the ice. He tried to move his legs to no avail, as the ice around them only thickened and the air surrounding him began to steam with the spike in John’s temperature. 

 

Lighter. Lighter in his pocket. Left hand not frozen. Lighter in his pocket that Bobby had given him. Bobby’s lighter. No, his lighter. One of his lighters. Or was it? Fuck. That didn’t matter. Get the lighter out of the pocket that was about to be encased in ice. Quickly. Hurry up, asshole. 

 

John reached into his pocket and took out the lighter as the ice started to climb above his waist. He flicked it open and ran his hand over the wheel. Warmth. He was warmer now. The air around him sizzled as the steam increased. His body flooded with heat, but it wasn’t enough to counteract the ice that was about to creep up his torso and encase him completely. The ice that Bobby had trapped him in. He wasn’t sure if that was on purpose. He hoped it wasn’t on purpose. 

 

John hissed in pain and dropped the lighter as the ice got too close to where his heart lie for comfort. He blacked out, his head stuck in a confusing battle between the cold climbing up him and the heat running through him. He lost control. He lost control because Bobby had lost control. A catalyst. A bad situation. A fire. Burnt bodies. His sister screaming. Police sirens. Fire trucks. Ambulances. Investigations. Ashes. Ruin. 

 

He opened his eyes when the fire alarms went off, his body now soaked in water due to the melted ice and an unfortunate amount of the hallway was now on fire. It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t mean it. This wasn’t on purpose. It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t mean it. An accident. This was all an accident. 

 

John watched in horror as the flames flickered up the walls, dancing around picture frames and catching lampshades on fire. He hadn’t meant this. He didn’t mean this. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The alarms were so loud. He couldn’t do this. How was he supposed to control this. It was burning too fast. It was burning too hot. 

 

He reached out desperately trying to snuff out the flames as the thick smoke swirled around him. His right hand felt like it was going to fall off. Why was it still cold. So cold. So cold. Too cold. He couldn’t move his legs. His head was spinning, and his lungs were burning. The alarms screamed louder and John felt fainter, watching the fire grow helplessly. 

 

You know he was pretty tired, maybe if he just. You know. Just. Stopped trying. Maybe it would stop. Just stop. Let it go. Let it grow. Let the fire spread and feel the flame flow through him and eventually swallow him whole. Give in. Just give in. 

 

He inhaled deeply as the smoke thickened around him. He hadn’t meant this. This wasn’t his fault. And Bobby he. He froze him over. And Bobby. Where was Bobby. He hadn’t meant to do that, had he? A mistake. That was a mistake. This was a mistake. All just a mistake. 

 

John fell forwards, drifting in and out of consciousness as he hit the ground. An accident. I promise officer, it was just an accident. He hadn’t meant for it to get this out of control. It was never supposed to go down like this. Jesus. He was cold. His hand was so cold. And he was hot. He felt like he was on fire. Maybe he was. So hot. So cold. 

 

John, a voice swirled in the back of his head. You need to wake up. 

 

John groaned. He didn’t want to wake up. Waking up was like the last thing he wanted. He just wanted to stop being so cold. To stop being so hot. God. He was freezing and he was burning. Has hand hurt like hell and his head was pounding and his clothes were soaking wet and he was pretty sure it was half sweat and half ice water. 

 

John, the voice came again. I know you don’t enjoy it, I know you think you can’t, but you need to wake up. You need to get up.

 

John exhaled heavily, trying to stand, his body screaming in protest. His legs were still numb and he only had one fully working hand. He physically could not get up. His body burned with the effort, and the flames around him spiked, their color shifting from light orange to blue. God he was so hot. But so cold. He couldn’t move and the alarms only got louder. 

 

“I can’t,” John muttered weakly, his voice barely croaking out. “I can’t. I’m sorry Jo. I’m so sorry.”

 

John gasped as he felt himself suddenly get doused in water. Freezing. Cold again. So cold. So cold. So cold. Too cold. Way too cold. He shivered as he felt the blue flames around him flicker and die as the arctic water washed over him and the fire. So cold. God. Way too fucking cold. But the alarms were off. His head was still pounding but at least he didn’t have them screeching in his ears. They sounded just like sirens. Sirens. His sister. Joanna. 

 

John whimpered against his will as his body began to shake. His hand. Most of the blue and frost covering it had faded but it felt as if he had sat there with it on a stove top for hours. It burned in a way that John had never experienced before. It was cold and it stung and John wished he had sat with it on a stove top for hours, that would be much more preferable than to what he was feeling now. That would be like ten times better. 

 

“I’ve got you John,” came Dr. Grey’s voice as he felt himself get wrapped in something. Probably a towel. Maybe a blanket. “I’ve got you.”

 

“I’m sorry,” John whispered, as he felt someone gently pick him up. His head was fuzzy. He felt like he was going to puke. His hand was burning. He looked up and caught a glimpse of red sunglasses. He turned his hair and could only make out red hair. “Please tell Jo that I’m sorry. It was just an accident.”

 

“I’ll tell her,” Dr. Grey said gently. John nodded weakly and promptly passed out. 

Chapter Text

John woke with a start. He sat up quickly and heard the machine next to him beep faster. His heart rate. He ignored it. His hand was wrapped in bandages that felt like they were warming his skin and his legs were drowning under a pile of blankets. Warm. He was warm again.  Well, mostly, at least. His hand still felt frozen solid. 

 

John sighed and let his body relax and heard the machines beeping slow down. His hand still ached and his legs still felt numb but at least he was warm. 

 

“Welcome back,” Dr. Grey said, appearing next to him. 

 

Fuck. He was in the mansions infirmary wasn’t he. God, he hated it here. It’s weird clash of hospital and homeliness made him deeply uncomfortable. But usually Bobby was here with him, and that at least provided a little bit of comfort. But he wasn’t here. Where was he? Why wasn’t he here? 

 

“Bobby is with the professor,” Dr. Grey answered. Right. The whole telepathy thing. John forgot about that sometimes. “There’s no need for alarm.”

 

John groaned. Usually when everyone said there was no need for alarm, there was definitely need for alarm. And if Bobby was with the professor that meant they were having a discussion and no one ever enjoyed their discussions with the professor. 

 

“He’s going to be fine,” Dr. Grey said, a hint of humor in her voice. John still didn’t believer her. “You should spend more time focusing on yourself and what happened.”

 

John didn’t want to think about what happened. He has lost control, just like he had back then. And his hand hurt. Like a fuck ton. 

 

“He froze your blood,” Dr. Grey said, interrupting John’s thoughts. “That’s why it hurts so much. Your hand. I’ll admit, I was a little worried we were going to have to cut it off. You’re lucky your body can run at such high temperatures. You melted it, mostly, but your skins still frostbitten and your body’s working overtime to reheat it.”

 

“How long is it gonna be like that?”

 

Dr. Grey frowned slightly. That wasn’t exactly a good sign. 

 

“I don’t know, John,” she answered, honestly. Well that was just 

fan-fucking-tastic. “You should go back to sleep. Your body needs rest.”

 

John sighed. Yeah, sure. What he needed was to talk to Bobby. And okay, maybe rest did sound a little nice. 

 

*****

The next time John woke up Dr. Grey was nowhere in site and Jubilee was sitting next to him flipping his zippo open and closed. 

 

“So, he returns to the land of the living,” Jubilee said, flicking his lighter closed and placing it on the table next to him. “Good morning, sunshine.”

 

“Ha ha,” John deadpanned. “Hey, Jubes.”

 

Jubilee sat cross legged in a chair she must have pulled up next to the bed with her yellow jacket resting in her lap. A pair of pink sunglasses were perched on her head, as if she was about to go outside and needed to be able to slide them on any minute. Her boots were on the ground next to her and her socks didn’t match. One was covered in fireworks and the other was stripped. John thought they matched her personality pretty well. 

 

“You caused quite a ruckus,” she said, narrowing her eyes in concern. “We had to evacuate the building and everything. It’s a pity because I didn’t get to see Summers carry you off like a damsel in distress. How’d that feel? Being wrapped in those arms that, how did you describe them, are so lanky yet also muscular. He’s basically a twunk. Is that your type? Brunette twunks?”

 

“Did you just come to harass me?” John grumbled, shoving the blankets around his legs onto the floor. He discovered that he was only wearing boxers. Where the fuck where his pants? He would really appreciate his pants. Why wasn’t he wearing his pants?

 

“Yes,” Jubilee said, grinning. “You look like shit.”

 

John would admit that he did indeed look like shit. His legs were pale and faintly tinged blue. His hand was still wrapped in those weird warming bandages, and John just wanted to take them off. They were burning. His hand was burning. Hell, his whole body was burning. Must be the whole working overtime thing. Fuck, he hadn’t been this hot since he was last in Australia during the heat wave that wonderfully lined up with when his mutation had started to develop. There were a lot of brush fires that year, and John wasn’t even sure how many of them were his fault. 

 

“Thank you, I also feel like shit,” John replied, sarcastically. “So nice to know my inside matches my exterior.”

 

Jubilee rolled her eyes as John began to carefully unwrap his hand. When he was done what he saw unsettled him. His hand was blue, the only other color being the grey black of his veins and the bright red that surrounded them. John tried to curl his fingers and winced. 

 

“So Bobby did that to you?” Jubilee asked, leaning forward to inspect his hand. “Jeez, what did you say to the guy?”

 

“Nothing,” John replied. “I didn’t say anything. He just, I don’t know, freaked out. All I did was grab his wrist and suddenly I couldn’t feel my hand. Grey said he froze my blood or some shit. I don’t know.”

 

John frowned as Jubilee’s brow furrowed in confusion. 

 

“Why would he do that?”

 

“I have no fucking clue, Jubes.”

 

John sighed and tossed his feet over the edge of the cot. He winced when his bare feet made contact with the cold ground. Jubilee unfolded herself and slid her jacket on to him. The yellow fabric that was fashionably oversized on her fit John snugly. A little too tight around the shoulders, but he could deal with it. John nodded his head in thanks and rewrapped his hand. 

 

“Let’s get outta here,” John muttered. “Before Grey comes back and locks me in here forever.”

 

Jubilee grinned at him and picked her boots up. 

 

“Where to?” She replied, sliding her glasses down onto her face. “I’ll follow you anywhere.”

 

John rolled his eyes. 

Chapter Text

They ended up in Jubilees room which she fortunately didn’t have to share with anyone after she accidentally (purposefully) set her roommates bed on fire and got herself labeled as a safety hazard. The only reason John, and Bobby, weren’t singles was because they were meant to counteract each other. At least that’s what the prof had told him when he arrived at the mansion and became Bobby’s unwanted roommate. But the feeling had been mutual. 

 

John reached into the dresser drawer that he had claimed for himself and pulled out a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie that he had no clue if it was his or Jubilees or Bobby’s. John’s hand ached after he had gotten dressed, as if he had slept on it for years. He curled and uncurled his fingers and winced at the pain. Maybe he should just stop doing that. 

 

“How long are you gonna be stuck like that?” Jubilee asked, flopping down on her bed. “All frostbitten and achey?”

 

“I don’t know,” John replied, taking the wrapping off again and examining his hand. He should also probably just stop doing that too. The black in his veins was fading, and a light blue, that matched the rest of his hand, was replacing it. The red surrounding the veins was still there. John had no clue if that was good or not. 

 

“Hopefully for like a day,” he continued. “The doc never gave me a solid answer.”

 

“That sucks.”

 

“Yeah,” John muttered, making his way over to the bed and lying down next to her. “I just, I don’t know what I did wrong. Everything was fine. He just freaked out. Was that my fault?”

 

Jubilee sighed and propped herself up on her elbow. 

 

“I don’t know, Johnny,” she said. “I’m not the mind reader.”

 

“Oh, god, Xavier.” John groaned loudly. “Fuckin hell, the first time I woke up Dr. Grey said Bobby was with him. Jesus, I don’t even want to know what they talked about. That’s a lie. I would probably kill a man to find out.”

 

“Maybe just ask him?”

 

“I can’t just fuckin ask him, Jubes. He’ll never answer. Or he’ll lie. And him lying is way worse then him not answering so I might as well just not ask. It’s easier that way.”

 

“Nothing with you and Bobby is ever easy.”

 

John frowned and moved his gaze from the ceiling to her. 

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

Jubilee shrugged. 

 

“It just means that you two are all complicated. And weird. All touchy feely and no homo bro at the same time, it’s kind of dizzying, John.”

 

John snorted. Dizzying was a pretty accurate way to describe it. 

 

“You’re telling me. I wish he could just be straight forward.”

 

“Him being straight anything is the last thing you wish, Johnny,” Jubilee muttered, her voice fading into the background. 

 

John exhaled and turned his attention back to the ceiling and the scorch marks on it. He zoned out as he attempted to link them all together like a connect the dots puzzle. He was vaguely aware of Jubilee throwing a blanket over him and was very much aware of feeling his body slowly drift off to sleep. 

 

He opened his eyes and smiled as he stood in his old living room with his dad and his sister. 

 

“Joanna, put that down,” his father scolded, harshly. John frowned at him. He was always too hard on her. 

 

He looked over at the both of them and saw Jo fiddling with a lighter that John must have dropped. She wasn’t supposed to have that. Shit. 

 

“Hey, Jo,” he said, making his way over to her. “Gimme that.”

 

She pouted at him but handed over the lighter and John ruffled her short blonde hair. Their father merely glanced at them, going back to what ever he perceived as more important than his kids. Whatever. John didn’t give a fuck about their father, who seemed to think he was allowed to just drift away from them, ever since their mom left. John also didn’t give a fuck about her, but wished she could’ve at least had the decency to take them with her.

 

But no. They were why she left in the first place. Well, he was. The freak. That was him. The arsonist. The mutie. She could have at least taken Jo. But no, she might have the gene too. And whatever, their bitch of a mother just couldn’t risk it. Fuck her. They didn’t need her. They didn’t need anyone. They had each other, that was all that mattered. That was all that they could believe in. 

 

John sighed and slid his thumb over the wheel of the lighter, sparking the flame. He grinned as Joanna stared at it in wonder. 

 

“Put that out,” his father said, gruffly. “We don’t need anymore accidents, do we?”

 

John clenched his teeth but extinguished the flame. No they didn’t. No more accidents. He was in control. He had to be in control. They didn’t anymore members of the brushfire brigade knocking on their door. It hadn’t gone smoothly last time. That was when his mother had left. Her last straw, John guessed. 

 

“Go to your room Jo,” his father said, and John winced. That couldn’t be good for him. She frowned but did as she was told, quickly hugging John before she left. “I need to talk to your brother.”

 

Talk to him. That was great. Just fantastic. Their talks were always so wonderful. 

 

“What?” John asked, trying to control his tone of voice. Pissing his dad of wouldn’t benefit him at all. 

 

“I got a call from your school today,” his father said gruffly. “Said someone set a fire in a locker room. Said that someone was probably you.”

 

John scoffed. “I didn’t do anything. But, of fucking course you would think I did. Right? What else is the freak good for?”

 

“They want to arrest you for attempted arson, John.”

 

“I didn’t fucking do it!” John felt his temper flare, and saw the candle in the corner of the room spike. But his dad didn’t believe him. He kept pushing and pushing and John just got madder and madder and he didn’t even realize that the curtains next to the candle had caught on fire until smoke was swirling around them. 

 

“If you can do this, how am I supposed to believe you didn’t do that,” his father accused, leaving the room. John only got angrier and his anger only fueled the fire. He stood and watched as the flames spread up the walls and throughout the house. He didn’t even think about Jo. He couldn’t even think about Jo. 

 

His father returned, now coughing, the fire extinguisher useless in his hands at the size of the flames. John had never felt so good. He closed his eyes and the feeling of the growing fire rushed through him, warming him from the inside out. He stood as the smoke built up around him and the ceiling cracked. The fire that raged within him was finally on the outside. He felt free. He felt like he was flying. Walking on air. 

 

Someone screamed. A girl. A little girl. His sister. His sister screamed. John turned frantically, running to her room. The door was encased in flames and he could hear her on the other side. She was crying. John could barely even focus on it, the feeling of the raging fire becoming too much for him to handle. Too much power. He couldn’t control it. Too much heat. Too much. 

 

He reached to open the door and ignored the sizzling sound it made when his skin made contact with the metal knob. He opened the door and was met with ash. Nothing but ash. The fire swirled around him outside of the room, pulling him back. Pulling him away from the ash and the ruin and back into the flames. 

 

“Let me go,” John whispered, as the flames coiled around him, dragging him deeper and deeper into their depths. “Let me go. Let me go.”

 

John jerked upwards, his eyes bursting open. His chest was tight and he felt like he couldn’t breath. He was choking. Choking on the smoke. Suffocating. It was burning his lungs. 

 

He coughed roughly and was shocked when he felt a pair of hands patting him on the back. 

 

“You good kid?” A voice asked, and John looked up to see Scott Summers standing over him. He almost puked. Scott smiled. God, that was unnerving. 

 

“Yeah,” John said, breathlessly and confused. “I’m... good.”

 

Jubilee peaked out from behind Summers and shrugged, as if to say he was here when I got here. What? Was he watching John sleep or something? That would be weird, and definitely the last thing John needed. 

 

“What time is it?” He asked, directing the question more at jubilee then at his teacher. 

 

“Breakfast time,” Summers answered and behind him Jubilee rolled her eyes. 

 

“Let’s get some brekkie, Johnny,” she said, finally speaking up. 

 

John nodded, too shaken to respond. 

Chapter Text

John walked into the dining hall, leaning slightly on Jubilee for support, and couldn’t help but feel like everyone was staring at him. Having Jubilee at his side barely helped him feel better, and having to lean on her made it ten times worse. His legs were still shaky, and Dr. Grey would probably yell at him for even leaving the infirmary in the first place, much less walked around the mansion. But he had to get out of there. She had to understand that. 

 

“Where’s Bobby,” he whispered to Jubilee. He wanted to see Bobby. But he didn’t want to. He wanted to know if he was okay, he wanted to know what happened, he wanted to know what was going through his head. John was desperate to know what was going through his head. John would probably die to figure out what was going through Bobby Drake’s head. Read the unreadable.

 

“Last I heard, he’s sulking,” she said, whispering back. “Upset about you. Or the professor. The jury’s still out. Rogue won’t stop trying to talk to him or something. He’s icing her out. Get it?”

 

John rolled his eyes and shuffled forward, dragging his sock clad feet across the ground. He kind of wished he had actually put on some shoes. And maybe changed his clothes. Or brushed his hair. Or maybe just avoided this entire situation in the first place. 

 

God, why couldn’t he and Bobby just be normal. And uncomplicated. John would give anything for his feelings about Bobby to be uncomplicated. Or his lack of feelings. He wasn’t supposed to have feelings at all. See? Complicated. 

 

“Yeah, I get it,” he muttered, and shoved his still hurting hand, he must have shoved the bandages off in his sleep, into the pocket of his hoodie. Of Jubilee’s hoodie? He still wasn’t exactly sure who owned the garment. Hell, it could be Logan’s leftovers and he wouldn’t be shocked. It was comfortable at least and still smelled faintly like laundry detergent so it was relatively clean. 

 

“You think Rogue would lend me a glove?” John asked sarcastically, as he slipped his hand out of his pocket and grabbed a tray. The blue in his veins had started to calm down, but now his whole hand just looked an ugly mix of purple and gray. Like a bruise. Like he had just dropped a textbook on his hand. That probably would’ve felt better than what actually happened. 

 

Jubilee snorted a grabbed a tray of her own. “I’m sure she would love to. Why don’t you ask her?”

 

She tilted her head to the side, gesturing to where Rogue was sitting. Alone. Damn, so Bobby really was sulking. Rogue had barely been alone since she first set foot in the mansion, with Bobby waiting on her every whim. Then she had looked annoyed and amused. Now she just looked sad. John almost felt bad for her. Almost. John didn’t think he could fully bring himself to ever feel pity for her. 

 

“Hey sweetheart, can I get one of those pretty silky gloves? Preferably a blue one, it is, after all, my favorite color,” John muttered to Jubilee, badly mimicking her twang. His own accent made it slightly difficult. 

 

She snorted and he grinned widely. 

 

“Of course, Darlin’,” she said, mocking Rogue. “Anything for you!”

 

John rolled his eyes and turned his focus on to breakfast. He grabbed two bottles of orange juice, a muffin, and piled his plate with mostly potatoes and eggs. He slid one of the orange juice bottles into his hoodie pouch and wrapped the muffin in a napkin. It was chocolate chip. 

 

“For Bobby,” John explained, when Jubilee looked at him quizzically. “Figured I could at least return the favor.”

 

Jubilee shrugged and grabbed her own breakfast, opting for chocolate milk and a bagel. 

 

“Usual spot?” She asked, already headed to their table. 

 

John nodded but stopped for a second to look at Rogue, who hadn’t been approached by anyone. Didn’t she have friends other than Bobby? Or was everyone still afraid of her after the whole almost killed Logan and was kidnapped by Magneto thing? John thought that had blown over, but he guessed it hadn’t. She really did look kind of sad. Well, that was her problem. 

 

John jerked back as her sharp eyes snapped up and made eye contact with him, as if she could hear his thoughts. Hell, maybe she could. John had no clue who’s powers she had stolen and how long they lasted. She could have drained some poor telepath dry like she did to Carol Danvers. Rumor had it that there was a little Carol running around in Rogue’s head. Who knew how many people she had locked up in there. It wasn’t in John’s long term plan to ever be one of them. 

 

John turned away from her and her piercing gaze and slowly followed Jubilee over to their table. His legs might be shaky, but that didn’t mean he was going to make Jubilee his crutch for the whole day. He forced a smile when Jubilee glanced over her shoulder at him.  

 

“I’m fine Jubes,” he muttered. “Wipe that dumb look of your face. You’re gonna her frown lines.”

 

“Fuck, you’re right,” she said, tossing him a grin. “We can’t have that, can we?”

 

John snorted and slid down into his chair once they had reached their table. He nodded at Kitty and ignored the empty spot where Bobby usually sat. He pretended like it didn’t hurt some weird part of him that he didn’t have the words to identify. It was too... complicated. 

 

“We could never.”

 

“How you doin’ John?” Kitty asked and John sighed. 

 

“‘M fine,” he replied. “And can everyone stop asking about me that? Where’s Bobby?”

 

God, he wished he could just see Bobby. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to punch him or just talk to him but then again it was Bobby and it was like God was actively trying to ruin his life and their friendship. Give me a fucking break, God, you already fucked up my genes, isn’t that enough? 

 

“Haven’t seen him since his talk with the proff,” Kitty said, shrugging her shoulders. “He walked away before I could get a chance to talk to him. He looked pretty grim. You and Xavier talk yet too, or?”

 

John shook his head. “No, I think he’s giving me time to recuperate or something. Apparently you have to bounce back from your best friend almost freezing you to death before you can have a shitty conversation about trauma or triggers or whatever.”

 

“Yes, Mr. Allerdyce, and what do you believe set you off?” Jubilee said, badly mocking the professors accent. 

 

“I don’t know,” John said, rolling his eyes. “Maybe my fear of death. Or maybe I was just trying to burn the mansion down.”

 

Jubilee snorted. Kitty ignored them and glanced over her shoulder at Rogue. 

 

“Should I go ask her to sit with us?” Kitty said, her brow furrowing. “She looks kinda sad.”

 

John shrugged and glanced over at Jubilee who also shrugged. 

 

“If she wanted to sit with us she would’ve, Kitty,” Jubilee said. 

 

Kitty seemed to accept this, but still looked like she felt guilty. She needed to wear her heart on her sleeve less. John sincerely hoped she could grow out of that. It was going to get her hurt one day. 

 

“Yeah I guess.”

 

Mr. Allerdyce, came a voice in his head, causing him to jerk upwards and slam his knees into the table. The contact stung. He still wasn’t used to all this telepathic conversation shit. 

 

“Fuckin hell,” John muttered and Kitty and Jubilee both looked at him quizzically. He just tapped his head and they nodded. They understood that it was hard to get used to the professor casually dropping in whenever he pleases. 

 

I believe it’s time for us so talk, he continued. Of course, after you’ve finished your breakfast. 

 

No offense X, John projected back, but I would rather go to math class. Can’t let Summers down, right?

 

Xavier chuckled. Your absence will be excused. 

 

Great. 

Chapter Text

John would rather be anywhere than where he was right now, sitting awkwardly in a chair that was way too fucking soft and trying to avoid making eye contact with Charles Xavier, which by the way turned out to be very difficult (it was like the guy had a secondary mutation that just helped him maintain eye contact). He wished he could be in his room listening to Beach Goons at an obnoxiously loud volume that would eventually drive Bobby out to find solace either in the library or with Kitty and lead to Jubilee bursting dramatically into his room to pester him about whatever shit was going through his head.

 

A forced therapy session with Jubilee was ten times better than a forced therapy session with Xavier, because at the end of the day he could tell her to fuck off. He couldn’t tell Xavier to fuck off, he couldn’t afford to get kicked out. John didn’t exactly have anywhere else to go. He really really couldn’t afford to get kicked out. So instead of telling Xavier to fuck off like he wholeheartedly wished he could, he just sighed and waited for the man to say something.

 

“Mr. Drake is very remorseful about what happened,” Xavier said, finally breaking the silence. “He wanted to make sure you knew that.”

 

John snorted. He could imagine that conversation in his head. Hey prof, could you pretty pretty please tell John that I’m like super sorry? Thanks so much, you’re the best, X.

 

“Obviously didn’t care enough to say it to my face though,” John snarked. “Clearly, he didn’t want me to know that bad.”

 

“I can understand why your angry.” 

 

God, fuck this guy. Fuck this guy and his calm bullshit and his pacifist approach and his rules on top of rules on top of rules. None of it was even fucking worth it. He understood why he was angry? Yeah he sure as fuck understood. As fucking if. Charles Xavier didn’t understand shit about him.

 

“Oh, I’m sure you do, Charles,” John muttered and rolled his eyes.

 

“I understand that you’re rather against discussing this with me, but you know the rules, Mr. Allerdyce. A loss of control is always followed by a conversation on why that loss of control took place. It’s how we work, and leads to less accidents in the future.”

 

“Yeah, you don’t have to give me the fucking spiel. I have, after all, heard it all before.”

 

Xavier smiled at him. “I’m just trying to give you an explanation, John.”

 

Ugh now they were in John territory. Time to get serious. Tell me about your feelings, John. Tell me about the fire, John. Tell me about your sister, John. He didn’t want to tell Xavier a single fucking thing. It’s not like he didn’t know it all already, anyways. That fucker was always in their heads, no matter how vehemently he denied it, he was. Hell, he probably knew shit about John that he didn’t even know about himself. Fuck. That’s creepy. 

 

“Well, sorry sir, your explanation is unwanted. In fact this whole situation is pretty much unwanted. Can I go now? That’d be tight.”

 

He sighed. “John, you know you’re permitted to leave the mansion at any time. No one is forcing you to stay here. But if you do, you have to follow the rules, and these are the rules.”

 

Leave the mansion? And what, live the rest of his life on the streets stuck in New York? That was such bullshit. This was such bullshit. Charles Xavier, you’re full of shit.

 

“Yeah, and go where?” John accused, the candle behind Xavier flickering. “Leave the mansion? That’s a fucking hoot. What are you, just taking the piss outta me, now?”

 

Xavier sighed again. John had gotten very used to that sound. It was practically music to his ears. “I’m just trying to clarify that it is never my intention that you get the impression that you’re being forced to do something.”

 

John snorted. The candles flame spiked and sunk back down. “Whatever, X.” John focused on snuffing them out.

 

Part of him wondered if Xavier had lit them just to see what would happen. That seemed like something he would do. He was a prick, after all. 

 

“If we could,” Xavier said, his voice still calm, “I would like to turn our discussion back to the topic of why you lost control.”

 

John snorted. “I feel like the reason is fairly obvious. Maybe you should spend more time talking to Bobby about it. His little outburst did have pretty big consequences.”

 

“Robert and I had a lengthy discussion, which is completely irrelevant to the one we’re having now. And the reasoning may seem obvious, but I’ve come to believe that hidden meanings are often discovered when things are discussed. And, I don’t believe I need to remind you that your little outburst also had pretty big consequences.”

 

“I lost control because I didn’t want to fucking die,” John hissed, and the candles behind Xavier reignited. John ignored it. Xavier, probably, did not. “I lost control, because I thought I was going to fucking die. There. Plain and simple. Discussion over. That’s it. A survival instinct. There’s no deep psychological trauma for you to dredge up here, now are we fucking done, or what?”

 

“Maybe so,” Xavier said, ever serene. John wanted to punch him in the face. His entire facade pissed him off. 

 

“Yeah,” John huffed. “Definitely so.”

 

“But,” Xavier began, and John almost groaned. There was always a but. With Charles Xavier when wasn’t there a but? “I would like for us to talk about the nightmare.”

 

See, the fact that Xavier even knew about the nightmare proved that he was poking around in John’s head without permission. So much for privacy, huh Chuck. 

 

“And I would like for you to stay out of my fucking head. But, we don’t always get what we want, so we?”

 

“No, John. We don’t.”

 

John sighed and the candles blew out again. He made an effort to keep it that way.

 

“What? Aren’t you gonna ask me what I think it meant? What all of it represents?”

 

Xavier smiled at him. Whatever. Fuck Xavier. Xavier could rot in hell for all he cared.

 

“I think it means my subconscious won’t let me forget I killed my sister,” John continued. “I think it means it won’t let me drown out the whispers that surround me wherever I go in this god forsaken mansion. Arsonist. Murderer. Killer. Danger to us all. The whole fucking shebang.”

 

“John-“

 

“No. Don’t bullshit me. You think I don’t hear it, but I do. You think I don’t see it, but it’s so fucking clear I’d have to be blind not to. They think I’m going to kill them one day. I don’t know. Maybe I will. There. Now, we’re fucking done here.”

 

Xavier sighed. John took his leave. He threw away the breakfast in his pocket on the way out. Bobby Drake could fend for himself. 

Chapter Text

“How’d it go?” Jubilee said, appearing in front of him after he rounded the corner. John scowled at her.

 

“Fuck off,” he muttered. She laughed.

 

“So, not well I take it?”

 

“I’m serious Jubes, leave me the fuck alone.”

 

John sighed and pushed past her, glaring at the new kid who thought he wouldn’t notice eavesdropping on them. She practically ran away from him. John couldn’t help but grin at that. 

 

John stopped abruptly once he reached his door. He wanted to scream. He wanted to punch a hole through it. He wanted to set something on fire, namely himself but he would settle for a large pile of wood. He wanted Charles Xavier to leave him alone. He wanted to whole thing with Bobby to have never happened. He wanted Rogue to leave and not get dragged back by Logan. He wanted Bobby to just be his best friend and for everything to be fucking simple and not so incredibly mixed up in his head, like someone had just shoved all of his thoughts and feelings in a blender.

 

He wanted Kitty to stop looking at him like that when he was with Bobby, as if she knew what was going on in his head. He wanted Jubilee to stop being so nosy, and mind her own goddamn business for once. He wanted the mansion to stop being so crowded. He wanted to know what it felt like to burn the building to the ground. He wanted Xavier to stop snooping on his dreams and sending Scott Summers to be his knight in shining sunglasses. He wanted math to stop being so fucking hard. Could he at least have that?

 

He wanted Bobby to just be his friend and only his friend. He wanted Bobby to be maybe be more than his friend. He wanted Bobby to pull his head out of his ass and stop fawning over a girl who was so clearly head over hells for a guy that smoked cigars and constantly smelled like shitty musk and cheap beer. He wanted to stop standing outside of his own door like a fucking idiot because he was too scared to find out whether or not Bobby was inside. He wanted to stop worrying about Xavier being in his head.

 

He wanted to stop. He wanted his whole world to come to screeching halt. He wanted to make it come to a screeching halt. He wanted it to burn.

 

All of it. Leave behind nothing but ash.

 

Stop. No. Fuck. Not this again. That’s not the way your supposed to think, that’s what got you here in the first place. That’s what killed your sister. That’s what branded you as a murder and an arsonist and maybe you are an arsonist but you never, never wanted to be a murder. She had her whole life in front of her and you took it all away from her because you lost your temper. You lost your fucking temper and now you’re standing here in this big ass house while she’s in the ground. Good job, asshole. Good fucking job.

 

John jumped at the sound of someone clearing their throat behind him.

 

“You’re projecting,” Dr. Grey said quietly, when John turned around and came face to face with her. Of fucking course he was projecting. Because he could never just catch a break, no that would be too hard. Whatever. Fuck it all. “He’s not in there, by the way.”

 

John nodded and turned back around. Might as well open it. Fuck it all, right? He turned the knob and the door creaked open. John hated that sound. Old doors in an old house that he could never consider his home. Whatever. This place would break down and decay one day and maybe John would be left standing in the rubble. But maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe he’d be dead. Maybe they’d all be dead by then. Part of John looked forward to that day.

Chapter Text

John sighed as the flame flickered to life. He felt the heat rush through his hand and watch as the faded black and blue turned back to his normal skin tone. He almost didn’t notice when the door creaked open. Almost. He wished he hadn’t. He snapped the lighter shut and opened it again.

 

John looked up and blue eyes made contact with brown and he tried to act like it didn’t hurt when Bobby immediately averted his gaze.

 

Bobby sat down and John winced when he heard his bed creak underneath him. The silence stretched between them, the only sound was the click-click of John’s lighter opening and closing. Bobby zipped open his backpack and John heard the thunk of his books being tossed onto his desk.

 

“I copied the notes for you,” Bobby said, breaking the silence.

 

John nodded but didn’t respond. What was he supposed to say? Thank you?

 

“And,” Bobby paused to sigh. “I’m sorry.”

 

John looked up at him and squinted slightly.

 

“Is this an Xavier induced apology?” John asked. “Because, I don’t want you bullshitting me.”

 

“Does everything have to be bullshit?”

 

“Most things are bullshit, Bobby. It’s shocking you haven’t figured that out yet. But you were always naive.”

 

John snapped his lighter shut and Bobby sighed again.

 

“Do you always have to start a fight?”

 

“What else do you want me to do, Bobby? Welcome you back with open fucking arms? Sorry if I’m not exactly eager to do that.”

 

“Jesus John, I’m trying to apologize.”

 

“Then fucking apologize, whatever. It’s all bullshit anyways.”

 

“Not everything is bullshit!”

 

Bobby snapped. The temperature in the room wavered. John didn’t want to deal with it. He never wanted to fucking deal with it. The air around him steamed.

 

“Isn’t it? Isn’t that what all do this is? Isn’t that what everything Xavier is selling is? Fucking bullshit. All of it.”

 

“I don’t get you, John. If you don’t like it why don’t you just leave.”

 

John stood up as if he actually might leave right now. Walk out and never fucking look back. Bobby stood up to.

 

“Oh, fuck you! Not all of us have that goddamn choice. Not all of us have happy families in Boston who would be overjoyed to take us back.”

 

“Oh, please,” Bobby muttered, and John felt as if there was a fire growing inside of him. How dare he. How fucking dare he. “Get over yourself, John.”

 

John was moving before he could even think about what he was doing. It was like the fire inside of him was controlling him. He barely even realized his hand was formed into a fist before it connected with Bobby’s face.

 

Bobby stumbled backwards, his hand flying up to attempt stop the blood that was now gushing from his nose. The impact had shocked him, but he quickly got it together. But John had always been faster than Bobby.

 

Bobby moved to retaliate but John avoided his punch and swiftly swept Bobby’s legs out from underneath him. The floor shook as Bobby’s back hit the ground and if John were thinking more rationally right now he’d probably be worried about his lamp breaking. But he wasn’t. The only thing he could focus on was making Bobby hurt like he had hurt. Making Bobby hurt in general. Making himself hurt less.

 

“Fuck you, Bobby,” John hissed.

 

John pinned Bobby down and his fist connected with Bobby’s face again, this time with his brow bone. His punches were badly aimed but he did manage to split his brow. John wondered if it’d leave a scar. He hoped it did. But it would pale in comparison to the burn marks that ran up his right hand and onto his forearm.

 

Bobby retaliated by slapping him directly on the ear. Fucking textbook. Summers would be proud. John shook his head and tried to reset his equilibrium but Bobby kneed him in the groin. Oh, that was so not textbook. Bobby hopped up while John pretended like his crotch didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did. That fucker.

 

“Pull your head out of your ass John,” Bobby said back, spitting out the blood that had pooled in his mouth.

 

The air around them both steamed as Bobby’s temperature lowered and John’s rose. He was pissed, and apparently so was Bobby. What did Bobby even have to be pissed about? John was, frankly, the only one in their room with a right to be pissed about anything.

 

John lunged forwards again, this time tackling Bobby to the ground. He knew he didn’t have all of the strength it took to drag Bobby to the ground, so he let gravity do most of the work.

 

“That’s pretty fucking rich coming from you,” John replied.

 

As soon as both of them hit the ground John heard the door to their room burst open. Suddenly instead of being on the ground and on top of Bobby, John was floating over him.

 

John grunted as he was unceremoniously dropped on the ground away from Bobby.

 

“St John, my office,” came Dr. Grey’s voice, and she sounded pissed. “Now. You too, Robert.”

 

Well, at least she had said his name right.

Chapter Text

John sat in front of Charles Xavier for the second time this week. It was like he was trying to break his own personal record. How many times could he visit the one and only Professor X in the span of seven days? Tune in later to find out!

 

This time was different, though. Bobby was sitting next to him holding a towel up to his nose in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The air was steaming. The tension was so thick you could cut it. John was tempted to try. 

 

Bobby looked ashamed but John refused to feel that way. He wouldn’t let these people make him think any less of himself. He wouldn’t let their opinions matter, because that always only ever led to shitty things. It was how he had gotten stuck in this dumb room with this bald asshole in the first place. Because opinions mattered too much. Because what Bobby thought was too important. Because what Bobby said cut too deep. Whatever. Fuck Bobby.

 

Part of John wanted to chuckle and reply you wish. The other apart agreed whole heartedly. He let Bobby Drake matter too much, and look where it had gotten him. Pissed off with boiling blood and in a hell of a lot of trouble.

 

“Would you two care to explain yourselves?” Dr. Grey asked, standing next to Xavier-Summers was standing behind him, doing his best to glare at them through his opaque sunglasses-and looking disappointed at them. Whatever. Her disappointment was never meant to affect John. He had let her opinions matter too much, just like he had with everyone else. 

 

“What’s there to explain?” John replied bitterly, as Bobby tried even harder to shrink into himself. Not so smart now, huh Drake? Where’d all the wit go? How come you’re not nearly as quick on your toes?

 

“Unregulated combat with another student is grounds for expulsion,” she continued while Xavier did his best to look solemn. “We both know that expulsion is nowhere near the best option for either of you.”

 

“Why even bother acting like any of you care about what’s best for us when all you want is for is to be your bullshit child soldiers?”

 

Dr. Grey sighed, as if John’s presence alone managed to physically pain her. But, it was fine. John was used to it.

 

“You don’t have to be an X-Men if you don’t want to, Mr. Allerdyce,” Xavier said, his calm demeanor seemingly unbreakable. “That was always part of the deal. We’ve been over this.”

 

“Fuck your shitty deal,” John spat out and Bobby looked like he had just run over his cat. Good. Fuck Bobby Drake and his stupid feelings. He didn’t matter. He couldn’t matter. He never mattered.

 

“My parents will kill me if I get expelled,” Bobby said, finally managing to find his voice. John tried to stop himself from wondering how much of that was hyperbole and how much of that was truth.

 

“Oh sorry your mommy’s gonna be a little upset,” John said, cruelly. He was pushing a sensitive topic for Bobby, and he knew it. But John didn’t care. Hell, new year, new me, let’s fuck over our so-called friends who tried to kill us. “I’m sure they’ll be so goddamn disappointed. Who is little Ronny supposed to look up to now? His perfect Boy Scout brother isn’t so fucking perfect anymore.”

 

“Fuck you, John,” Bobby replied, and Dr. Grey sighed again. So, what? It wasn’t his fault Bobby was being a prick. It wasn’t his fault that he naturally was a prick. It was like his secondary mutation. 

Prick-ness. 

 

“Stop,” Dr. Grey said, and Summers shifted. It reminded John of a gargoyle slowly coming to life, a metaphor that was sure would give him bonus points in lit class. “You two aren’t here to bicker, you’ve done fairly enough of that. You’re here to listen and learn that your consequences have actions. Something that you two can’t seem to comprehend when it comes to each other.”

 

John scoffed.

 

“You of all people are going to tell me that I don’t know that my actions have consequences?” John said, his voice rising slightly. He wasn’t sure if he was mad or just upset at Dr. Grey’s blatant accusation and selective memory of his past. If anyone in this room knew what the consequences of their own actions looked like, John did. And it painted the perfect picture of a gravestone marking a life ended too soon. A life he ended. A big ol’ fucking consequence.

 

“Allerdyce,” Summers, spoke. One word. A warning shot. You’re skating on thin ice, pal. Watch out before you drown. Too late, Summers. He already felt like he was sinking.

 

John shut his mouth but the air around him steamed more, practically hissing when his high heat came in contact with Bobby’s freezing temperatures. His perfect opposite. How fucking cute was that?

 

“You two are on probation” Dr. Grey said, and on John tried to stop himself from groaning out loud. “You both will still be attending classes regularly, and the only reason that you two are still going to be training is because it appears that you both seem to have lost any idea on how to control both your powers and emotions. But, curfew will be enforced and your weekend privileges will be revoked until we see fit. You two will also no longer be sharing a room, as it seems to only have led to unfortunate circumstances.”

 

John did his best not to scoff. He really did. But, God, it was so fucking hard and all of this was such fucking bullshit. Dr. Grey ignored him, but Bobby glared. Whatever. Bobby Drake was a stuck up brat. See if he cared what Bobby thought of him.

 

“Bobby you’re dismissed,” Dr. Grey said, and John forced himself not to protest. Of course Bobby was dismissed. Of course Bobby got off scot-free. He was John Allerdyce. Pyro. The resident bad kid. Voted most likely to run off and join the brotherhood. He really shouldn’t be surprised anymore.

 

John watched as Dr. Grey’s office slowly emptied and only him and her were left.

 

“St John,” she said, her tone softening considerably. “We really need to talk.”

 

“Dr. Grey,” John said once everyone had left the room, “can we please just skip the whole lecture thing? I already heard it from Curly, do I really have to hear it from you?”

 

Dr. Grey exhaled quietly and moved so she was sitting in the chair next to him. 

 

“St John it is not my goal to lecture you or to berate you,” she said, her tone harshly different from the one she had been using when Bobby was here. “I just want to help you. And if you don’t let me, nothing is every going to get better. You’re never going to get a handle on your anger and you’re never going to get a handle on your power. I know what it feels like to be out of control, St John, and I know no one could ever possible enjoy that feeling.”

 

John frowned, and vaguely wondered if Dr. Grey was doing some empath mind magic to make him feel at the least remorseful, but then he remembered that the only telepath around here who enjoyed messing with peoples minds was Charles. 

 

“I know the professor doesn’t seem to think that your fire is something that can ever be quelled, but the professor can be quite lacking in faith, at certain times. I’m not saying your passion is something that needs to be fixed, but it is something that needs to be controlled. The outbursts, St John, they’re dangerous. You know that.”

 

John nodded and was tempted to put his head in his hands. He instead ran a hand through his hair and laughed quietly. 

 

“Yeah I know,” he said. “I’m trying. It’s just... hard.”

 

“I know you’re trying. We just need to work more. And differently. Because clearly what’s happening now isn’t working, at least not enough. And your control has improved, but there are clearly still some issues.”

 

“But that’s not fair, because the only reason I lost control is because Bobby lost control.”

 

Dr. Grey shook her head. 

 

“You can’t blame this on him, John. You need to take responsibility for your actions. He may have been a catalyst but you still did this yourself. And if this ever happens again, you two will be separated. We can’t have our students brawling. And that’s final.”

 

“Well, who’d you even put me with? Everyone’s got a roommate.”

 

“Let’s hope you never have to find out.”

 

John nodded. “Are you gonna give Bobby the same talk? Or does he he toff scott free, like always?”

 

“John, you don’t need to worry yourself about how Bobby is punished or lectured, but to be fair, he didn’t throw the first punch. You did that”

 

John sighed and looked down at the ground. 

 

“I know. I’m sorry. I was just so mad, I wasn’t thinking, nothing made sense. Nothing makes sense.”

 

“I know this is a confusing time. When I was your age, hell I was confused all the time. I don’t know how I even managed it all. But I did, and you will too, I promise. You will stumble along the way, but you’re always going to land on your feet, I have faith in that. You’re a fighter John, maybe too much of one some times, and eventually you’ll figure this all out. Simple.”

 

“Sure. Simple. Can I go now?”

 

Dr. Grey smiled patiently at him and nodded. 

 

“Tell Jubilee hello for me,” she said, gesturing him out the door. 

Chapter Text

John groaned and threw himself melodramatically on Jubilee’s bed. He figured maybe he could bury his sorrows in her obnoxiously neon sheets. 

 

“I’m so fucked.” He said, his voice muffled. “He’s going to hate me. Hell, I hate him.”

 

“I’m going to pretend I know what you’re talking about,” Jubilee said, barely glancing up at him from her spot on the ground where she was currently painting her toenails pink. John knew she was eventually going to ask him to paint his nails, and he would probably concede. But for now he could wallow in his self pity. He knew she would at least let him do that. 

 

“It’s like, how could I be so fucking stupid? Oh, well that’s easy. I’m fucking stupid. That’s how. God, fuck him.”

 

“You tell him, Johnny.”

 

John sighed and rolled on to his back. 

 

“He shouldn’t be able to say shit like that and get away with it. I should’ve set him on fire. Fuckin’ payback.”

 

“We both know payback never works out, and that you’d get expelled.”

 

“I’m gonna get expelled anyway. So why does it fucking matter?”

 

Jubilee rolled her eyes. They were brown, like Bobby’s. A lot darker though. John had spent too much time thinking about how their dark color reflected her and he had concluded a long time ago that they added to her mystique, gave her a subtle air of intrigue. Bobby’s just made him look kinder. But Jubilee’s eyes could be kind too. Currently they were mocking him. 

 

“Okay, drama queen.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

“Whatever. You sound stupid.”

 

“Oh shut up,” John said, picking up one of her pillows and attempting to smother himself with. “I’m going to do it, Jubes. Right now. Gonna take my life.”

 

“What’s that? Can’t hear you due to the whole pillow on your face. Fuckn’ drama queen.”

 

John took the pillow and threw it at her. She laughed. 

 

“Uncalled for,” she said, as she batted it out of the air and away from her. John smiled innocently. 

 

“That’s debatable,” he said. 

 

“No it’s not, Johnny. Now, unless you wanna get your nails painted, scram. I need to focus.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

John rolled himself of her bed and determined that the best course of action would probably to go to his room, and pray that Bobby wouldn’t be in it. God, he hoped he would he sitting on Kitty’s floor complaining to her about him and hoping to see Rogue because of their stupid fucking roommate status. He couldn’t even hang out in Kitty’s room anymore cause of her. It fucking sucked. It like her whole purpose was to ruin his goddamn life. Well, she was doing pretty damn good. 

 

First she stole Kitty and his second safe haven, and now she was stealing his best friend from him. But, no fuck Bobby Drake. He didn’t need Bobby Drake. He had to convince himself, but he wasn’t sure if it was possible for him to ever truly believe that he didn’t need Bobby. Who was supposed to balance him out? He felt off kilter without Bobby. He felt like he was falling, and not the good cheesy rom-com style falling that he was desperately trying to avoid, but the I was just asked and my body jolted my awake cause it felt like I was falling off a cliff kind of falling. Fuck.

 

Instead of being a cheesy rom-com he was just a fucking depressing one that wouldn’t even be funny if his life wasn’t so fucking ridiculously pathetic. Jesus. He needed a cigarette, and dammit that meant he really did have to go his room, considering he kept his packs in his sock drawer and pretended like Xavier didn’t know about them. He should start keeping one behind his ear again, Xavier’s rules be damned. If he could punch his roommate in the face and not get expelled immediately, he was pretty sure he could keep a smoke behind his ear, even if he was supposedly glorifying smoking. John didn’t understand how attempting to sustain his own nicotine addiction classified as glorifying smoking, but what Xavier said was supposedly law. But, rules were made to be broken after all and John had already broke practically all the rules. 

 

He stopped in front of his door and sighed. This time Dr. Grey wasn’t going to pass by and accidentally eavesdrop on him dramatically lamenting about Bobby in his head because he would not dramatically lament about Bobby in his head, he would simply enter the room and not think about Bobby. Even though, fuck, he was currently thinking about Bobby. Whatever. Fuck, Bobby. Yeah. Fuck that guy. Maybe if he said it over and over again he’d be able to convince himself he really felt that way. Well, Jubilee would say he did, but not in the same sense. 

 

Oh great. Now he was not just thinking about Bobby but he was thinking about his stupid maybe feelings for Bobby and whatever, fuck it John, just open the door. So he did. And the room was empty. John briefly seriously considered converting to Christianity. 

 

Okay, the lord and savior aside, John quickly walked into the room and kicked the door shut behind him. He considered locking it, but he was already a prick he didn’t need to be a complete and total asshole. Instead he walked over to his nightstand and opened the top drawer. He dug through piles of mismatched socks until he pulled out a crumpled pack of Marlboro’s. He slipped on his Bad Religion hoodie and shoved the pack into his pants pocket. He glanced at the shoebox under his bed and kicked it further underneath before he headed out the door. 

 

He slid his hood on and glanced around the halls before making his way to the attic and the window that accessed the roof. He pulled the window open and stepped out onto the roof, listening to the gravel crunch underneath his feet. He sat down on the edge and let his feet hang over the side and pulled the pack out of his pocket and lit a cigarette. 

 

John took a drag exhaled heavily and watched as the smoke curled around him. Some part of him that was probably, most definitely, nicotine addicted felt a sense of comfort as it slowly dissipated into the night sky. He swung his legs absentmindedly where they hung off of the edge of the roof and took another drag.

 

John could probably die alone up here and he wouldn’t mind. With the sky always clear and the smoke winding around him everything seemed so at peace, for once in his life. Yeah, John definitely wouldn’t mind dying alone on the roof or Xavier’s stupid mansion. 

 

John was pulled from his thoughts by the sound of the attic window shutting and the gravel shifting under someone’s feet. But he knew who it was. He always knew who it was. John didn’t even bother turning around before he spoke. 

 

“What d’ya want Drake?” He asked, punctuating his question with another inhalation. 

 

“How’d you know it was me?” Bobby asked, instead of answering John’s question, and sat down next to him. Unlike John, Bobby’s legs were tucked in a criss-cross position, like they were kindergarteners sitting in a circle and learning what the number one is. 

 

“It’s always you.”

 

Bobby shrugged. “I guess.”

 

“Are you gonna get to the point?” John asked, not looking at Bobby, still smoking the cigarette. “What d’ya want?”

 

“I don’t know,” Bobby said. “I don’t know, I’m just, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that, I was just trying to egg you on. Hell, maybe I wanted you to hit me. I don’t know, it’s like ever since Rogue showed up everything’s gotten ten times more confusing.”

 

“You can say that again,” John muttered. 

 

“What?”

 

“Ever since Rogue showed up everything’s gotten ten times more confusing.”

 

She’s gotten everything mixed in your head Bobby. Everything mixed up in mine. 

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I guess you really don’t get that. The whole girl problems thing or whatever. Not that they’re really problems I just don’t get her. It’s like she’s a different person everyday.”

 

“What d’ya mean I don’t have girl problems?”

 

“I don’t know, it’s like you’ve got Jubilee. That’s so simple. She’s so simple. What problem could you possibly have with her?”

 

“With her?”

 

Bobby crinkled up his face and looked over at him. 

 

“Yeah? What are you guys not-I don’t know-whatever?”

 

“I mean, she’s my friend.  I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it before.”

 

Maybe he should. And Bobby was right, Jubilee was simple. And maybe she was his friend but Bobby was his friend and he had certainly thought about that before. So why would it be any different with her? Besides, John could actually think about it and not feel sick to his stomach later, and he certainly needed a break from feeling sick to his stomach. 

 

Bobby sighed and leaned backwards, stretching his legs out in front of him and tucking his arms underneath his head. John did the same, the cigarette still burning in his hand. 

 

“I’m sorry I punched you in the face. Twice.” John said, breaking the silence that settled between them, and changing the topic. He almost wished he hadn’t and they had stayed like that and had fallen asleep facing the sky. But that’s stupid, cheesy rom-com stuff. 

 

He propped himself up on his elbow and turned to face Bobby. He knew he probably smelled like cigarette smoke and Bobby definitely hated it, but he was at least grateful he didn’t say anything. They had this argument about a thousand times, and John didn’t smoke in their room anymore, so Bobby had at least half won. 

 

“I deserved it,” Bobby said, grinning. His face was starting to bruise, but John knew it would be practically gone by the next morning. “Sorry I kneed you in the nuts. That was dirty.”

 

“I’m not gonna say I deserved that, but it’s whatever.”

 

“You definitely deserved, you punched me in the face.”

 

John snorted. “You know I could push you off this roof right now?”

 

Bobby’s grin widened. “Yeah, but you wouldn’t. Besides, I bet Jean would catch me.”

 

“That goddamned Dr. Grey, always catching students who are falling off roofs and foiling my plans.”

 

Bobby rolled his eyes. “What’d she say to you, anyways?”

 

“It’s whatever. Why are you even up here anyways?”

 

Bobby shrugged. “You know why I’m here. I wanted to see if you were.”

 

Bobby propped himself up and now they were staring at each other, eye to eye. John tried to stop his heart from racing. God. He was going to have a heart attack on this shitty shitty roof and Bobby wouldn’t even have a clue. He’d be dead and Bobby wouldn’t even know why. 

 

“Well here I am,” John said, keeping his voice steady. Just barely. It almost cracked. Fuck that would be embarrassing. 

 

He could see the flecks of gold in Bobby’s brown eyes and how there was actually some blue under the dark purple of Bobby’s bruises, cause his body was trying to constantly keep them on ice. Bobby had told him about how his powers did that when he broke his leg from falling out of a tree after the branch broke underneath him. Said that Dr. Grey had to keep re-casting it cause he kept accidentally freezing the cast. 

 

Bobby grinned. “Here you are.”

 

John wanted to kiss him, but that was wildly irrational. What kind of guy wanted to kiss his best friend, just hours after he had punched him in the face? What kind of a guy joked about shoving his best friend off a roof yet still wanted, somehow, in some ridiculously unknown way, still wanted to kiss him? To be more than just best friends? But that was dumb and John couldn’t feel that way, he couldn’t afford to feel that way, not about Bobby. God. Why couldn’t it just have been Jubilee? She was pretty enough and that would be so much fucking easier than dealing with this bullshit. 

 

If John was drunk he probably would’ve kissed him. Maybe Bobby would’ve kissed him back. But this was dumb and he wasn’t drunk and Bobby was his best friend who was most definitely not into him. 

 

“You should probably go,” John blurted out awkwardly. Anything to prevent himself from actually acting on his racing thoughts and closing the gap between them. Jesus Christ. Bobby would probably actually shove him off the roof and that wasn’t exactly in John’s plan for the night. Hell none of this was. He was just trying to give himself lung cancer on a roof alone. God, why couldn’t he have just given himself lung cancer on a roof alone? Fuck Bobby Drake. 

 

“Second hand smoke, and all.” John said, gesturing to the cigarette that was mostly burnt out in his hand. 

 

“You’re probably right,” Bobby said, standing up and brushing himself off. 

 

“I’ll catch up with you later,” John said, putting out the first cigarette taking out another one and lighting it. It had been a long day. 

Chapter Text

John enters the dining hall by himself, way too tired to be conscious this early in the morning. He groans and tries to crack his back. Fuck he was sore. Apparently falling asleep on the roof did that to you. And the sun had woken him up at the actual asscrack of dawn, Jesus Christ, he was tired. 

 

John sighs and attempts to pull his hood farther over his head and prays that someone would dim the lights. It was always so damn bright in this school. 

 

“Holy shit is that St John Allerdyce in the cafeteria in the morning,” Jubilee says, appearing from literally nowhere. 

 

“Fuckin’ hell, Jubes,” John replies, jerking his head back and causing the hood to fall off his head and reveal his messy brown and blonde hair. 

 

“You’re hair looks awful, put the hood back up.”

 

John stares at her blankly. 

 

“Thank you so much, Jubilee.”

 

“We should’ve just done the whole thing blonde the hilights haven’t aged well. Also  you smell like smoke. Do you ever shower? Or at least brush your teeth?”

 

“Whose idea where the hilights again? I distinctly remember my head being used as practice so you could fuck my hair up and not yours. And leave me alone, I do shower.”

 

John grins slightly at the memory of sitting on her floor on a pile of towels as Jubilee procured her slightly contraband hair dye and dyed his hair in her room. That had been a good day, even if his hair now apparently looked like a brown and blonde mess. He didn’t think it was that bad. 

 

“Clearly not enough.” Jubilee slide out a packet of gum from her pocket and shoves a piece in his mouth before he can even protest. 

 

John rolls his eyes and but chews it, and turns his attention to the numerous breakfast options before him. He ignores most of them and fills his cereal bowl to the brim while grabbing two chocolate chip muffins. So apparently skipping dinner was a bad idea, but what was worse, a clouded head and nicotine withdrawals or an empty stomach? John had clearly already decided which one he preferred. 

 

“I didn’t see you at dinner,” Jubilee says, almost like she was reading his mind. A secondary mutation that perchance John was not aware of? 

 

“Yeah, I didn’t go,” John replies, lamely. 

 

“I also didn’t see Bobby at dinner.”

 

“Guess he didn’t go either.”

 

“Well my guess is that you two got into an actual physical fight that you for some reason are neglecting to tell me about it which lead to the both of you skipping dinner.”

 

“Jubilee,” John sighed, and looked around the table filled room, “do we really have to get into this now?”

 

“Well, frankly it doesn’t seem like you planned to get into it ever if it leads to you taking smoke breaks on the roof where you stare angstly into the silence and wax poetic about the smoke rising around you in your head and try to remember it so you can write it all down later.”

 

“Jesus Christ, Jubes.”

 

“I know that stupid shoebox under your bed isn’t filled with porn.”

 

“Jubes! Seriously? Drop it. I’m going to say we can talk about this later and pretend I’m being sincere. Also how do you know it’s not filled with porn?”

 

“That’s besides the point and we are talking about this later because the way to someone’s heart is not through your fists.”

 

“For fucks sake,” John hisses under his breath. “What will it take you to believe that I don’t like him?”

 

“You erasing my memory of you drunkenly telling me about how pretty his eyes are? The only person you’re trying to convince here is yourself, Johnny.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“I bet they are pretty, John. Flecks of gold and all. Look real nice up close. A blue undertone when he uses his powers. Prettiest eyes you’ve ever seen.”

 

“You’re betraying my trust.”

 

“You’re a fucking idiot and a disaster.”

 

“You can say that again,” Bobby interrupts, looking up from the table that John and Jubilee had managed to wander over to without noticing. 

 

“See, even Bobby agrees with me,” Jubilee says, as if this was extremely incriminating. 

 

“I’m going to kill you,” John mutters, and sits down in his normal spot next to Bobby. 

 

Jubilee glanced nervously between them, as if a brawl was going to break out any minute. John was starting to get uncomfortable, but it was too late for him to sit somewhere else. He had already decided and he couldn’t just stand up and walk away. He would look like a fucking idiot and a disaster. 

 

Eventually Jubilee just shrugs and sits down on the other side of John like everything was back to normal. But it wasn’t and John’s hand twitched, like a reminder of everything that had managed to happen time mere span of a couple of days. Life wasn’t this hectic BR (Before Rogue), at least not that John recalled. But it was easier to blame it all on her and act like he didn’t have a part in it. A lot of things were easier to blame on Rogue. Maybe she didn’t even deserve any of it. Maybe he deserved it. Whatever. John swallowed his gum and starting eating his breakfast.

 

Rogue arrived at their table and took her, now customary, place across from Bobby and frowned when she sat down. She sniffled quietly and glanced over at John. 

 

“Do you have something to say?” John asks, his tone probably too harsh but he didn’t really care. 

 

“Sorry,” she says. “It’s not you. It’s just. Logan’s sense are like super sensitive and you, no offense, smell very strongly.”

 

Bobby snorted. 

 

“She’s saying you smell like ass,” Bobby says, taking too much humor in this. 

 

“No she’s saying you smell like smoke,” Jubilee countered, rolling her eyes at Bobby. “And you do. So much so that you’re upsetting Rogue’s or Logan’s or whoever’s nose. Whatever the fuck that means.”

 

“It’s Logan’s. It’s part of his abilities that I guess I’m stuck with.”

 

“Oh when you like, almost killed him,” John says. “Yeah I remember that.”

 

Bobby elbows him in the ribs. 

 

“What? She did.”

 

Rogue looks away from him. Oh great, she looked like she might cry or something. That was all John needed. A normal Rogue was bad enough, but a crying one? Bobby would shit himself. 

 

“Hey gang,” Kitty says, announcing her arrival. Ah, his knight in shining polyester. 

 

“Hey Kit Kat,” Jubilee replies in greeting, smiling a little too wide. “How’re you?”

 

“Uh fine?” She says, while sitting in her spot next to Rogue. “Anyways. What are we all doing for Thanksgiving? We all

going home?”

 

Jubilee shook her head. “Staying here like always. I thought about going to Cali and seeing some old friends, but it would definitely be way too weird.”

 

“I don’t know,” Bobby replied. “My Mom really wants me to come home. But god it sucks there. I hate Boston. I still don’t get why they moved in the first place.”

 

“John are you going home?” Rogue asks, and the table freezes. Kitty looked slightly panicked and Jubilee’s face was stuck in a grimace. 

 

 “Oh wait,” she continued, “you don’t celebrate thanksgiving! Why would you go home? Duh.”

 

“Yeah.” John said, stiffly. “I don’t celebrate thanksgiving.”

 

Jubilee reached out and rested her hand on his knee and John found himself oddly comforted by it. Bobby glanced down and looked at him quizzically, but quickly changed his face to one of worry. 

 

John shifted his head to side as if to say, I’m fine. It’s nothing. Of course she doesn’t know.

 

“Anyways,” Bobby said, removing his eyes from John and Jubilee’s hand on his thigh, where it stayed as if glued there. It reminded John about what Bobby said last night, about how Jubilee was so simple that he could never have problems. Because he had assumed they were together. Jesus Christ that kid was so far off the mark. “The fall festival they always have is pretty lame, so I might make some excuse to stay here.”

 

John tried not to think about his family. He did pretty well at that most times and only ever really let his thoughts slip back to Jo, who had done nothing wrong and deserved nothing she got. John could see her now, stuck in that room with the flames curling around her, there was nothing she could do but sit there and suffocate on the smoke. And John had done that. He clenched his metal spoon and felt it sizzle in his hand. 

 

So, no he wasn’t going home for the holidays, he didn’t have a home to go back to. Everything John had had was ash now. There was nothing to go back to, no holiday for him to celebrate, no family for him to celebrate with, no house to stay. The only thing he had was a photo album in a shoe box under his bed and a framed photo of him and his sister that remained tucked away in his dressed. Bobby was the only person who had ever seen that photo. He had said his sister looked just like him. 

 

“I don’t know I think it’s kinda fun,” John says, keeping his voice nonchalant. 

 

He tries not to spend too long wallowing in his grief, antagonizing over his mistakes. 

He looks away from the table and from Rogue who gazed at him with such intensity it felt like she was trying to see through him. Maybe she was. He dropped the spoon when he felt the metal start to melt in his hand. 

 

“Hey,” Bobby said, under his breath, nudging him with his leg. Jubilee slid her hand away and continued eating her breakfast. John didn’t know how he was supposed to keep eating when all he could think about was his dead sister. “You good?”

 

“Never been better,” John muttered, shifting his eyes so now he was staring into his, now soggy, cereal as if it could bring his family back or maybe tell him his future. Forget Cheerio’s, he was in need for some Prophecy-O’s. 

 

“So Kitty,” John says, looking up at her and avoiding Rogue’s harsh green gaze. “You heading back to Illinois?”

 

Kitty scrunched her face up. “It sounds so boring when you say it like that.”

 

“Sorry you live in a boring place. That’s on you, man.”

 

Kitty frowned at him. “It’s not my fault. But yeah, it’ll be cool to actually see my parents instead of through some video camera.”

 

“Oh that’s sweet,” Rogue says, “that you talk to your parents.”

 

“What do you not talk to your parents?” John asks, locking eyes with her. 

 

“No. Do you?”

 

“Kinda hard to FaceTime a ghost.”

 

Rogue’s eyes shifted, as if she had realized her mistake and John’s changed too, trying to wall up his pain and hide his feelings from her all-knowing eyes. Fuck her and her stupid all-knowing eyes. 

 

John pushes his chair away from the table, standing up and picking up his tray. 

 

“I’ll catch up with you guys later,” he says, and walks out of the cafeteria feeling Rogue’s eyes on his back. 

Chapter Text

John stepped into class the second the bell rang. He had a cigarette tucked behind his ear and his backpack was haphazardly swinging behind him. But he was there. And on time. Well, for the most part. 

 

“Good to see you again, Allerdyce,” Summers says, barely glancing over at him while he closed the door behind him. 

 

“Good to be here again, Sir,” John replied, saluting him and making his way over to his chair. 

 

“Where did you go?” Bobby asked once he had sat down, his voice hushed. 

 

“Library,” he replied. 

 

“Sure,” Jubilee says, holding out the word for a long time. 

 

“What do you want to check the mansions security cams?”

 

“Yes. I’ll get right on it.”

 

“Mr. Allerdyce, if you and Ms. Lee would turn you’re attention to the problem on the board, I’d greatly appreciate it,” Summers says from the front of the classroom. 

 

John laughed quietly under his breath and Jubilee flicked the back of his head. 

 

“Yessir,” he replied and slid out his math notebook, that mostly consisted of poorly drawn trees and hastily scribbled shitty plot lines. He took out a pen and uncapped with his teeth and proceeded to make it at least look like he was paying attention. 

 

*****

The bell rang and John took his time getting his stuff together. Jubilee tapped her foot impatiently.

 

“Can you hurry up?” She said, looking down at him. “You know we only have fifteen minutes to get ready for combat training.”

 

“I don’t remember asking you to wait for me,” John muttered, without looking up at her. 

 

She sighed and John heard her boots squeaking against the floorboards as she walked away from him. He slid his notebook into his bag and exited the class. 

 

The second he stepped through the doorway he felt an arm reach out and grab him with an unexpected amount of strength. 

 

“I just wanted to apologize,” came the painfully familiar southern accent that he knew, unfortunately, belonged to Rogue. “For earlier. I shouldn’t have brought up your family or assumed anything like that. It’s just everyone around here seems to have the perfect life-“

 

“Newsflash, darlin’” John said, slipping his arm out of her grip, “everyone here’s life is fucking far from perfect. And yeah. You shouldn’t have. You know what they say about assumptions.”

 

John sighs and brushes past her, feeling his skin tingle when it makes contact with her bare upper arm. For someone who was so scared of touching people, she made it pretty easy to touch her. You think she’s try harder if she really was afraid of killing everyone she came in contact with. Or at least wear shirts with longer sleeves. Whatever. 

 

John entered his and Bobby’s room and groaned. He wished it was Thursday. He was way too tried and way to sore already to have Summers make him jump through hoops and spare with his friends. 

 

“You gonna spend the whole break staring off into space or are you actually gonna change?” Bobby asked, as he stood there with his shirt in his hand. But that wasn’t anything new. John had seen Bobby shirtless all the time. After all, they did share a room. But he still felt guilty for looking every time. The Star of David necklace that Kitty had given him for last years Hanukkah glinted in the light. John rarely every saw it, since it always remained tucked under Bobby’s shirt. Close to his heart, he’d like to say. John just though he was ashamed of it. 

 

“Sorry,” John muttered and shook his head. “Just zoned out again.”

 

Bobby grinned and slid his shirt over his head. “Yeah, I noticed. By the way, I’m sorry about Rogue earlier. I didn’t think she’d ask something like that.”

 

John snorted and went about readying his own clothes for training, swapping out his jeans for athletic shorts and his hoodie and t-shirt for one of Xavier’s branded ones that always made him feel like the antagonist in some shitty high school movie. 

 

“Well it’s not your fault. You don’t have to apologize for your little girlfriend. ‘Sides, she already tried to talk to me so, whatever.”

 

“She’s not my girlfriend. Oh, I was gonna tell you this earlier, but my moms trying to bribe me into coming home by extending the invitation to you. You in? I’m sure it would make Ronny’s week amazing.”

 

John grinned and slid on his sneakers. “God that kid is a little weirdo.”

 

“Well, he could be worse.”

 

“Yeah, he could be like you.”

 

“Hey, rude. I invite you to my home and you insult me? This time I’ll let it slide, but you’re lucky I’m feeling kind today, Allerdyce. Anyways do you wanna go or not?”

 

“Purely because I know how much you don’t want to go, I’m going to say I’d love to go.”

 

Bobby rolled his eyes. “Fuck you, Allerdyce.”

 

“You wish, Drake.”

Chapter Text

“Fuck, when did our resident werewolf get back?” John muttered, leaning towards Bobby. They both watched as he paced in front of the group of teens and wondered how he planned to teach their combat class in jeans. Summers would be utterly disgusted by his chosen apparel. 

 

“Today I guess,” Bobby responded, his eyes carefully tracking Logan’s movements, as if he could strike at any moment. Hell, he probably would. 

 

John turned his eyes towards Rogue who stood at the edge of the group, John wasn’t sure why she came she ever participated, and was also watching Logan like her life depended on it. Hell, maybe it did.  He wouldn’t be surprised. 

 

“Welcome to self defense or whatever,” Logan said and he stopped pacing and stood in front of them. “I’m gonna pair you up based off of whatever One-Eye said, so blame him if you hate them, and I don’t want to hear you kids complain.”

 

John sighed as Logan read the names off the clipboard. 

 

“Rasputin one and Pryde. Drake and Lee. Rasputin two and De Costa. Sinclair and Aquilla. Allerdyce and Rogue. Guthrie and Ramsey. Any questions?”

 

“Which one of us is Rasputin one?” The Rasputin siblings said in unison. John hated it when they did that. 

 

“Rasputin one,” Logan said, pointing at Pitor, “and two,” he finished, gesturing to Illyana. “That all? Get to fighting, or whatever.”

 

John scoffed and Bobby rolled his eyes. Summers probably would’ve cried. The group split up, each pair wandering to their partner and whatever open may they could find. 

 

“Good luck,” Jubilee joked as she walked past him. 

 

“You’re the one who’s gonna need it,” John replied. 

 

John reached his newly designated mat and sparing partner, rolled his shoulders, and cracked his knuckles as he stood across from Rogue who shifted nervously. She was mostly covered but paranoia still radiated off of her in waves. John wondered why she’d even bothered showing up. Probably for the Canadian wildebeest. 

 

“Gonna be fine Marie,” he heard Logan whispering what must’ve been the end of their conversation. She nodded in response but John could tell she didn’t believe him. 

 

“I promise we’re both dreading this equally,” John joked, as he shifted into his fighting stance. 

 

He stepped forward with his left foot and let most of his weight rest on the balls of his feet, his heels lifting slightly of the ground. He brought his hands up and grinned at Rogue. She did not smile. Instead she moved awkwardly, like the motions weren’t her own. Hell, they probably weren’t. 

 

She lifted her hands and stood awkwardly, like her own body was fleeing to her.  John glanced around him as the other pairs began to fight. His grin widened when he saw Jubilee playfully zap Bobby in the side. Bobby merely swatted her hand away. John turned his eyes back toward Logan who stood behind Rogue and nodded. 

 

John made the first move and let Rogue take the defensive. Always be on offense, his father had told him. You never wanna get stuck playing defense. He may have been a piece of shit but at least he had some sound advice. Move faster and Hutu harder and maybe you can win. He would never find out how well that advice served John, other than getting him in trouble at school for giving Greg Morrison a black eye. 

 

John put Morrison out of his mind and tried to do as his father told him years ago when he determinism that it was time John learned how to defend himself, like any man should be able too, his father had said. He moved faster and he hit harder and he won. He had to win. His dad would call him a failure if he lost and John could never stand to disappoint him. At least, not until he realized all he could ever do was disappoint his father. The day his mom left he had let his father down and he could never change that, not matter how fast he moved and how hard he hit. But it didn’t stop him from trying. Didn’t stop him from giving Greg Morrison’s and the others like him more black eyes and maybe broken fingers. 

 

John tried to pull himself out of his thoughts, but it was always something that he struggled down. Dr. Grey said he tripped down memory lane too often. So he tried to stop and swung his fist and it made contact with her stomach that she had left open. He pulled his punches but she still groaned quietly. 

 

Hey, not that hard kid. You’re not trying to kill your old man, right? Reign ‘em in, slugger. The memory of his father flashed rapidly through his mind and John had to remind himself that he wasn’t thirteen and Greg Morrison wasn’t trying to steal his carefully crafted lunches. 

 

She swung back, her fist clenched tightly with her thumb tucked inside of it. She moved like she had claws. John wondered if she thought she did. 

 

Never, you listening to me kid, never tuck your thumb inside your fist. You’ll break it that way. Then you’ll just look like a dumbass who broke his thumb on the first punch. At least get to the second one before you start breaking digits. 

 

John dropped lower and slid to the left, avoiding her messy swing. Move faster. Always faster. 

 

“Get your thumb outta your fist, Marie,” Logan called and John laughed. 

 

“No one ever teach you how to fight, kid?” John said, his voice sounding like an echo of his fathers. It almost stopped him in his tracks. Was that who he was becoming? John figured it would be better not to dwell on that thought, at least not right now. 

 

He straightened up and brought his fist, thumb untucked, upwards in a motion that would’ve uppercutted her jaw if she hadn’t reached out and stopped his hand in time. He slowed his motion and his fist merely brushed against her outstretched palm, his skin tingled with the contact, and pushed her backwards. John watched as she stumbled, her clumsy, confused stance leaving no room for balance. 

 

Okay, kid, this is when you go in for the kill. It’s the second most important part. Before you ask what’s the most important, it’s the thumb thing. You look like a fucking dumbass if your thumb is tucked it. I can’t have my kid looking like a dumbass, it’s bad for my reputation. 

 

John shifted into a crouch and swept her legs out from underneath her. She made a move to jump over his legs but John anticipated, and lifted his leg with her movement, causing her to thud to the ground. 

 

This is it, St John, the make or break. If you lose this fights it’s cause you didn’t follow through. I’m on the ground. What are you gonna do now?

 

John moved forward without thinking, his mind overwhelmed by memories of his father, and wrapped his hand around her uncovered throat. Just like his father had wrapped his hand around John’s throat. Just like his father had wrapped John’s hand around his throat when John was thirteen and needed to learn how to fight because Greg Morrison kept trying to steal his carefully crafted lunches. 

 

That’s it kid, feel my throat in your hand. Feel that? That’s my pulse. That’s my life in your hands. Tighten your grip and feel my windpipe constrict. My life is in your hands, kid. Don’t be afraid to take it if you end up in a situation where you need to. And, I don’t mean kill me, son, I mean you can’t be afraid to kill someone else if your life depends on it. Self-defense isn’t a crime, kid. 

 

John’s eyes glazed over as his grip tightened and his skin burned. Rogue squirmed under him. 

 

Take it, kid. You can’t be afraid to take it. Self defense isn’t a crime, kid. Take it if you have to. You can’t be afraid. Take it. Take it, Johnny. Don’t be afraid. Not a crime. 

 

“Allerdyce,” Logan said, and John could barely hear over the rushing of blood in his ears and the tingling of his hands. 

 

You can never be afraid to take it, because one day someone’s going to make you. When that happens you can’t let fear stop you in your tracks, cause you’ll end up dead. Do you wanna die, John? Don’t let them kill you. Kill them instead. 

 

John squeezed tighter and felt weaker as he heard Rogue suffocating under him. But John wasn’t there, not really, and Rogue wasn’t Rogue, not really. All John could see was him with his hands around his fathers throat and he could finally, fucking finally, take it like his dad had always told him too. 

 

“Allerdyce,” Logan said again but he sounded miles away and the blood in his ears sounded like a tsunami and he felt like the life was getting sucked out of him. But he couldn’t let go. Not when he was right there, but when his father was right there and this was his chance to take it.  

 

He vaguely process seeing Rogue slip the glove off her hand with her teeth and vaguely feels her bare hand placed on his face. But he most definitely feels his grip slack and feels like he was going to be sick and certainly feels like he can’t process what’s going on as it’s happening. 

 

He knew some things, though. He felt empty and his dad, no Rogue, it was Rogue, it had always been Rogue, how could he ever think it was anyone but Rogue, squirmed her way from out from under him, her glove left behind and her neck an angry shade of red. John tried to stand but is vision was blurry and his equilibrium was off. He stumbled and fell directly into Logan’s awaiting arms. When had he even gotten there?

 

His eyes refocused and he looked up at Rogue, her green eyes watery and her bare hand rubbing the forming bruise on her neck. Her watery eyes filled with a horror that John recognized but his brain was too frazzled to entirely place. 

 

“You’re not,” John whispered, gasping for air and shaking his head. Anything to orientate himself. “Not him. I’m... Not... You’re... him.”

 

The last thing John heard was Logan’s resigned sigh and John passed out in his arms. 

 

John regained consciousness minutes later, his back digging into the hard mats of the gym floor and something cold pressing into his forehead. He opened his eyes and saw Bobby’s brown and gold ones right in front of his. Bobby grinned at him. For a minute he thought he was dreaming. That would be better than this. But he heard someone sobbing quietly and it pulled him back to reality.  

 

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Bobby said, and removed his hand-a living cold compress-from John’s forehead. He reached down to pull John up. 

 

John took it gladly, but felt woozy as Bobby pulled him up. He stumbled, but Bobby reached out and steadied him, wrapping his arounds him. He was to frazzled to think to search for the source of the crying sounds. 

 

“Thanks,” John said, leaning on him. 

 

Bobby rolled his eyes and shifted his position so now he was only holding John by one arm positioned that rested under his armpits. The crying got louder and John didn’t understand why Bobby was just ignoring it, didn’t he also want to know where it was coming from?

 

“You good?”

 

“Yeah. Just...”

 

John trailed off as the screams got louder and more worryingly familiar and followed Bobby’s eyes and he traced them towards Rogue, who was on the ground with her head in her hands. John felt like he was going to be sick when he heard the next words that came out of her mouth. 

 

“Please, please I didn’t mean it,” she cried, as Logan tried to coax her up and out of the room. “I swear to god, I swear, I didn’t mean it. Please tell me she’s okay, please tell me she’s going to be okay. She has to be. I didn’t mean it.”

 

Her words. His words. His sister. God, she even kind of sounded like him. 

 

He lurched away from Bobby and gagged as Rogue’s screams echoed in his ears. I didn’t mean it. 

 

“Just let me see her? Please, she’s my sister! You have to let me see her! She can’t be gone, she can’t be, please. I didn’t mean it.”

 

“Nothing left of her to see,” John said, the sound of his voice startling both him and Rogue. “Nothing but ash, even the bones burned to dust.”

 

Rogue screamed. No. She wailed. 

 

John stumbled and fell forward to his knees and clamped his hands to his ears to try and drown out the sound of Rogue reliving his most painful memories. 

 

“Why couldn’t you have died in the fire?” John choked out at the same time Rogue did. “Why couldn’t you have been the one locked in your room? Why couldn’t it have been you?”

 

Rogue sobbed louder and John pressed his hands against his ears harder. He shivered when he felt Bobby’s hand touch his back, but he forced himself to focus on the cold and let that bring him back to reality. That’s what Dr. Grey had always told him to do. Focus on something that can bring you back instead of getting lost inside your head. Find a tether. Well, Bobby was a pretty damn good tether. 

 

Rogue screamed his sisters name and John pulled his hands away from his ears. 

 

“Gone,” she sobbed, rocking back and forth and finally letting Logan pick her up. “She’s gone. I did that. I killed her.”

 

“No you didn’t!” John called out, like he was offended she was taking credit for his crimes. “No you fucking didn’t!l

 

John turned as Bobby pulled closer into him, seeming to recognize that John was desperate for the connection to reality that Bobby provided him. He shook involuntarily as Bobby’s cold, his tether, washed over him. 

 

“Hey,” Bobby murmured in his ear, his voice quiet and comforting. He must be remembering the techniques that Grey had taught him for calming John down when his nightmares got really bad. They both thought John didn’t know about that little chat of theirs. “You’re okay. I’m here.”

 

John nodded and let Bobby’s voice and cold ease him. 

 

“I’m always gonna be here.”

Chapter Text

The rest of the school day faded away quickly, not that John could really focus on any of it or was really there for any of it. All he could hear was Rogue screaming his screams. Dreaming his dreams. Seeing his nightmares. Thinking his thoughts. Feeling his fears. 

 

“She knows all your dirty little secrets now,” Jubilee had joked when he came down from the roof after lunch. He would have never come down if he wasn’t freezing to the bone. He stopped in her room to steal one of her numerous blankets and hadn’t expected her to be there. But she was and although she did let John off easily, she could never hold her tongue. 

 

But she wasn’t wrong. Rogue knew essentially everything about him now, all because he was too stupid to be able to stay in the moment for once. To stop his stupid trips down memory lane like Dr. Grey had been trying to get him to do. If only Bobby could tie him to reality 24/7. 

 

John exhaled and tapped the ash of his cigarette off into the dandelion yellow ashtray that Jubilee must have put on the roof for him. He pulled his knees to his chest, wrapped her bright blue blanket tighter around himself, and took another drag. 

 

He tried not to think about a lot of things, wishing he could just focus on the act of inhaling nicotine and tobacco and carcinogens, but it seemed like thinking about things was inevitable when you sat on a roof alone digging yourself into an early grave that you had been intensely reminded of by Dr. Grey’s annual one-on-one presentations of photos of smokers lungs. At least Rogue was one of the easier things he could think about. Well, he guessed now it was a little bit more complicated, considering the whole, knows all your dirty little secrets thing.

 

God, he was so fucked. If John understood how Rogue’s powers worked, which he didn’t think anyone did, everything of his was swirling around in her head. His dead sister. His scumbag father. His bitch of a mother. His wonderful coping mechanisms, included but not limited to setting things on fire and consuming obscene amounts of nicotine. His tendency to disappear inside of his own memories at the worst times humanly possible. His inability to sit still. His penchant for flicking his zippo open and closed, which he was pretty sure made Bobby regret ever giving it to him. And worse of all, his, extremely confusing and distressing, feelings about Bobby. He was so, totally, fucked. Although if John considered Rogue having his feelings for Bobby worst of all, maybe his priorities were out of order. Worst of all had to realistically be his anger issues matched with his inflammatory powers. 

 

John sighed and took another drag. He pulled his knees closer to his chest and stared out into the seemingly endless vastness of the night sky and decided that the sky would be easier to think about than Rogue and Bobby and his powers and their negative aspects. He tried to imagine what the sky would look like from Australia. The sunset always looked best when it was shining through the windows in Jo’s room. His sister always seemed the brighten everything around her, maybe his mom was right, maybe she was a mutant, but her power was to radiant pure joy and the sun. John could use some of that right now. All he he had was dim city sky that paled in comparison to the ones he had slept under in Australia. 

 

The stars always seemed to shine their brightest out in the middle of the bush, even brighter in the outback. The stars here couldn’t hold a candle to them, their light faded by the schools light pollution.  Lights where rare in the bush and the outback, and nothing like the bright ones fueled by Xavier’s endless supply of electricity. But at least the sky here isn’t as empty as the sky in the city. Lights were everywhere in Sydney. It was like the people on the ground where trying to make up for the lack of stars in the sky. The lack of stars that they caused. John hated Sydney and it’s starless sky. 

 

John pushed his legs away from his chest, so they swung over the edge of the roof, and briefly felt as if he was on the edge of the world. But, no, he knew the edge of this roof was nothing like the edge of the world or like the edge of the world he knew back home. He wasn’t even sure if he could call Australia home anymore, but it seemed like the closest thing he had other than this mansion, with its halls filled with people he could never fully know and it’s walls filled with photos of people he’d never meet, like the one with a young Xavier (one with hair!), a redhead girl, a tall, stony brunette man. And he could never call this mansion home, not with it’s foreign ideals and strict rules and strange holidays. This mansion could never be where he truly belonged. But was Australia even where he belonged? 

 

John thought back to the royal national park and his personal edge of the world. He had felt home there, balancing on the cliffs edge and gazing into the clear blue waters below, fighting the urge to jump. If he jumped there at least he’d sink to the bottom, but if he jumped here he’d die on impact, his body becoming just another thing to scrape of the sidewalk. Not to say that John had ever truly thought of jumping off of the edge of the mansions roof, but he had envisioned falling. Falling until his body hit the pavement and instead of the splash of it sinking into the sea there would a resounding smack and nowhere for him to sink. John, grimly, pushed himself away from the edge. 

 

No, his home could never be here where falling means sudden death not a game of sink or swim. So maybe Australia, with its cliffs and crystal blue waters and sink or swim was the closet thing he had to home, not matter how far gone it was. Australia, the ever unreachable. Home, the ever unthinkable. John couldn’t tell if he missed it or if he just truly despised the mansion, with its harsh bright lights and different ideas, that much. 

 

John was so lost in his own thoughts he didn’t realize someone else was on the roof with him until he heard the sound of the gravel shifting underneath someone’s feet. He stubbed out his cigarette and looked over his shoulder to see Dr. Grey standing there, a folding chair and blanket in hand. He wondered if she had been listening to his thoughts. Maybe she thought he was actually gonna jump. No, Dr. Grey, unfortunately not this time. 

 

“I don’t mean to enter you secret hideout without an invitation,” she began, “but you’ve been avoiding me all day. I’m starting to feel as if I need to bring matters into my own hands. But I have brought a peace offering.”

 

“And what’s that?” John asks, and frowns, but he’s really not that upset to see Dr. Grey. He wants to be able to trust her. He wants to be able to believe that she has his best interests at heart. He wants to believe she doesn’t agree with everything he knows Xavier must say about him being his back. 

 

“Well, obviously,” she says and holds out the blanket. “The chair is for me, of course. I can’t sit on this ground. That’s just ridiculously uncomfortable.”

 

She sets the chair next to John and wraps the blanket around him. John is thankful for its warmth. He wants to be thankful for Dr. Grey’s presence. He wants to trust her. 

 

“Thanks,” John mutters. She nods in response. 

 

“I take it this isn’t meant to be a smoking lecture. A skipping class lecture? Worse, a Rogue lecture?” John asked with a dry attempt at humor. 

 

“I’d prefer it to be a conversation, but we can always turn it into a lecture if you refuse to participate.”

 

“When have I ever refused anything? You know me, Dr. Grey, I’m a go with the flow kind of guy.”

 

Dr. Grey smiled at him. 

 

“I know you are, John. Just making sure we’re on the same page.”

 

“Crystal clear.”

 

“Jubilee is upset you stole her blanket. She is more upset that you won’t talk to her.”

 

“Jubilee can live without me and her blanket. She’s going to have to learn to anyways.”

 

“Learn to live without you? Or her blanket?”

 

John knew that Dr. Grey knew exactly what he meant. 

 

“None of us stick around forever. I know that. Rogue knows that.”

 

“You mean your sister. You mean Matthew.”

 

“I killed her and now she knows I’m a murder. Now she thinks she’s a murder. Now she’s stuck seeing me, feeling me, kill her over and over again.”

 

“But you’re stuck like that too, John.”

 

“I am. Stuck. Always stuck. Stuck in memory lane, stuck here, stuck on the so-called right path. Who are we to determine which path is right and which path is wrong? Maybe it varies from person to person. Who gave Charles Xavier the right to make that unilateral decision? Himself?”

 

“I see you’re changing the topic.”

 

“What can I say, Dr. Grey? It’s my number one defense mechanism. Subject swapping. I think it’s easier to swap the subject then to swap stories about my dead sister. But I already did that, huh? Swapped em with Rogue. She’s got it all up there now. How’s she dealing with that?”

 

“Well, she’s certainly set less things on fire than you.”

 

“Been me for a day and she’s already better. I’ll be damned.”

 

“To be fair, she does have a greatly diluted form of your powers. She’s got the surface level of your powers, but the deep down of your memories. Your untapped power potential is all yours John, she never touched it. Probably because you were so focused on your memories, not your powers.”

 

“Isn’t Charles Xavier supposed to tap my power potential? Isn’t that why I’m here?”

 

“You’re hear to learn-“

 

“And to save the world, right? Get an education, sure, but fight for a better place and for people who would spit on us if the recognized us in the streets. I’m starting to wonder what the point of it all is, Dr. Grey.”

 

“Point of what?”

 

“This. The X-Men. What difference are you making sneaking around in the night in leather skintight suits? The world still hates us. The mansions still a secret. Nothing’s gotten better. Nothings going to get better and if Xavier thinks change is going to happen with his method he’s a fool.”

 

“John, I didn’t come up here to discuss the ethicality of the school.”

 

“No, you came up to talk to me about my dead sister and my dead friend and a stupid girl and it’s so much easier to talk about a stupid school.”

 

“I know you think that, John, but avoiding the problem isn’t going to make it go away. You not talking about it doesn’t suddenly make it disappear.”

 

“But I can pretend like it does. I can pretend like it never even existed. I can sit on a roof and pretend like my sisters not dead and I didn’t kill her and like my best friend didn’t kill himself and leave me alone and like my mother didn’t abandon me and like god didn’t brand me a freak and like Senator Kelly wouldn’t shoot me on site if he knew what I was. Isn’t it so much easier to pretend? Who’d want to face reality when it’s as fucking bleak as this?”

 

“What happened with Matthew isn’t your fault.”

 

“Yeah, and you’ve told me that a million times. Doesn’t change what happened. Doesn’t bring him back. Doesn’t make me feel better about it. He offed himself and I should’ve been there for him, I should’ve been better. But I wasn’t. I’m not. Same shitty person just a little bit older and with a drivers license.”

 

“You were fifteen, John. Almost sixteen. There wasn’t anything you could have possible done for him. And be fair to yourself, you had quit a bit going on at the time.”

 

“You mean I had just killed my sister and burned my house down? Subtle. And, I’m seventeen now, what’s the difference? I could’ve been there. I could’ve been a little less self absorbed. Could’ve pulled my head outta my ass and fucking talked to him. I could’ve done a million things, Dr. Grey. Maybe he’d still be dead but at least I’d still have done something. It’s the effort that counts, right?”

 

“John you can’t spend-“

 

“You’re life living in the past. I know. I’m giving it my best shot. And before you say it, yes my best shot is very fucking bad. I know that too.”

 

“But you can see know why living in the past can be so harmful for you? And the people around you?”

 

“Yeah, next time I spare with someone I’ll try real hard not to get caught up in memories about my piece of shit father when he wasn’t a compete piece of shit. See? The ethicality of this mansion is really a lot of a lighter subject than this.”

 

“Agree to disagree.”

 

“God, Summers is lucky to have you.”

 

Dr. Grey laughed slightly. 

 

“That one I can agree with.”

 

John grinned. 

 

“Do you think this is right? The whole save the world one handshake at a time thing? Do you think what you’re doing here is the right way?”

 

“I genuinely do, St John. I believe that violence, Magneto’s way, only sets us back. How can we convince the public that we aren’t a threat if we’re threatening them?”

 

“But what if we are a threat? What if we should be seen as one?”

 

“John I don’t think it’s possible for a whole group of humans to be seen as a threat.”

 

“But we aren’t really humans, are we? Homo superior. Who the fuck thought of that?”

 

“Some crackpot scientist, I’d assume.”

 

John snorted. 

 

“See, crackpot scientists are more entertaining then my dead sister.”

 

“For someone who doesn’t want to talk about it, you sure bring it up an awful lot.”

 

“I don’t know, maybe deep down I do. Deep down some part of me wants to be able to trust you and confide in you and I will, I try to, but. I don’t know. What’s the point? Everyone leaves. Maybe it’ll be you, but it’ll most likely be me, and then what happens with everything I’ve told you? Where does all that confiding go?”

 

“It gets locked up in my brain and I promise to never tell a soul.”

 

“Not even Xavier?”

 

“Never Xavier.”

 

“What if he pries it out of your head? I’ve seen him do that. Force information out of people.”

 

“John I doubt that happens and I doubt that he’d do that to me.”

 

“Maybe it did and he just made you forget it.”

 

“John, Professor Xavier is a good man. A moral man.”

 

“Whatever you say, Doctor.”

 

“I can guarantee that you can trust me, John.”

 

“Fine.” John sighs and his hand twitches towards his cigarette box. He stops himself and his eyes flicker over to Dr. Grey who is frowning disappointedly. 

 

“Oh don’t let me stop you,” she says with a sigh. “I’m going to leave and you’re going to anyways. Might as well get it over with. Have fun with your lung cancer.”

 

John rolls his eyes and pulls his cigarette pack out of his pocket and lights one for the second time since he retrieved-stole-his blanket from Jubilee. 

 

“You want one?” John asks, only half joking. 

 

“Don’t push it, St John,” Dr. Grey replies. 

 

John grins and extinguishes the lighter and slips it and the pack back in his pocket. 

 

“The biggest killer in American history, right?” John mused a took a drag. 

 

“I thought that was the military.”

 

John paused and his grin widens. 

 

“Since when do you listen to Bad Religion, Dr. Grey? Wouldn’t have pegged you for it.”

 

“A kid I know is a very avid fan of theirs, I figured I’d give it a try. Not my cup of tea, but to each their own.”

 

“To each their own.”

 

The gravel shifted again and both John and Dr. Grey’s eyes snapped over to the attic window. Rogue stood their looking slightly distressed. Dr. Grey smiled widely. 

 

“Fuck,” she said, and then seemed surprised that she said it. John forced himself not to laugh. 

 

“You fuckn set me up, Grey,” John said, and she only looked smug. “I can’t believe you’ve betrayed me. Thought you said I could trust you.”

 

Dr. Grey stood up and glanced over at Rogue only to look back at John. 

 

“You can. To keep your secrets and do what’s best for you. I’ll talk to you later, St John,” she said, leaving the roof, smiling at Rogue as she slipped past her. 

 

“Fuckn set me up,” John muttered to himself. “Didn’t even bother to refute it.”

 

“Honestly I didn’t know you were gonna be here,” Rogue said, still standing at the window. “I kinda just had the urge to come up here? Like maybe it could solve all of my problems or something.”

 

“Spoiler alert, it can’t.”

 

“I figured.”

 

John grinned and took another drag. 

 

“So this is where you come to smoke?” Rogue asked, and her eyes darted around nervously. Like someone was waiting to pop out and scare her. 

 

“I thought that much was obvious,” John replied. “Why? Care to join me?”

 

“A tiny Australian voice in my head is telling me to say yes.”

 

John pulled the pack and lighter back out of his pocket. 

 

“Personally, I’d listen to that voice. He’s usually right.”

 

“I’ll remember that.”

 

“So you just gonna stand there, or?”

 

Rogue took the hint and moved to sit in the chair that Dr. Grey had left behind. She pulled a cigarette out of the pack and lit it, the flame from his lighter curling away from her hands. She took a drag and exhaled heavily, coughing lightly. 

 

“So what problems do you have to solve?” John asked and Rogue crinkled her brow. 

 

“Yours. And you don’t have to act like we’re friends. I know you hate me.”

 

“I don’t hate you.”

 

“John you’re inside of my head. Trust me, I know exactly what you think of me.”

 

John sighed. “I don’t hate you,” he repeated. Maybe she’d believe him. 

 

“Whatever.”

 

She shook her head and put out her cigarette in the dandelion ashtray. John was tempted to put it back in his pack. 

 

“I’m sorry about your friend,” Rogue said, changing the subject. “And your sister.”

 

“Well I am too,” John said bitterly. “Sorry doesn’t fix it, though.”

 

“You didn’t kill him, y’know?”

 

“Doesn’t change the fact that I killed her.”

 

Rogue quieted and stared off into her space. Her all seeing eyes didn’t look as all seeing. They looked confused. And lost. And hurt. And too much like John’s had when he first showed up in the mansion, a duffle bag full of shit that mostly wasn’t his and a lighter that sat heavily in his pocket, it’s symbolic weight much greater than its actual weight. He burnt down his house with that lighter. He threw that lighter in the lake and he and Bobby watched it sink. Then Bobby handed him a shiny silver zippo and wished him a happy birthday. That had been his sweet sixteen. He had barely been at the mansion a month. 

 

John pulled the zippo out of his pocket and flicked it open and closed. The incessant clicking noise made Bobby swear he wished he never even bought the thing in the first place, but it calmed John down, gave him something to do with his hands, tied him back to reality. John was pretty sure it calmed Bobby down too. 

 

“Here,” John said, pulling another one out of his pocket and handing it to Rogue. John had bought that one himself. Jubilee had painted a little shark on it and told him bark was bigger than his bite. “Stop tapping your fucking fingers.”

 

“How is that worse than that stupid click?” Rogue asked. 

 

“Shut up. Just take the thing. I know your hands are itching for one, that’s why they won’t stop tapping. Trust me. After all, it is my thought process.”

 

Rogue sighed, clicked it open, and ran her thumb down the wheel of the lighter, springing the flame to light. She stared at it for a minute til she reached out with her other hand and pulled the flame away from the lighter. It danced around her gloved hands and reflected in her eyes. John watched as she made the tiny flame twist and turn and understood why Dr. Grey had said she only got the surface level of his powers. 

 

John extended his hand and slipped the flame out of her grasp. He twisted it around until it turned into a tiny bird. His very own Phoenix. Rogue smiled gleefully at him. She reminded him of Jo when she saw fireworks for the first time. John let the bird fly around them until it flew higher in the sky and slowly dissipated. It kinda looked like a backwards comet. 

 

“I didn’t know you could do that.”

 

“You got some of my memories Rogue. That doesn’t mean you know everything about me.”

 

“I didn’t mean to imply that I-“

 

“It doesn’t matter Rogue.”

 

She opened her mouth to talk but closed it. John thought it made her look like a fish. 

 

He stood up and slid the blankets off his back. He folded them neatly and put the on Dr. Grey had given him on the spot where he had been sitting. 

 

“Keep the lighter,” John said, and slipped through the attic window. 

 

He crept through the halls and felt like his footsteps were too loud at this time of night. He entered his room and pretended like Bobby was asleep as Bobby pretended he was asleep. He shut the door and collapsed onto his bed, Jubilees folded blanket still clutched in his arms. 

Chapter Text

John was awoken by the sound of something thudding onto the ground and  Bobby’s voice loudly shouting fuck. 

 

John sprang to his feet quickly, his lighter already in his hand, a flame flickering out of it. Instead of some home invader he was met with Scott Summers holding the keys to one of Xavier’s many cars and looking both amused and disappointed. Dr. Grey was behind him and looked like she was trying not to laugh. 

 

“Jesus Christ,” John muttered and snapped the lighter closed. 

 

“I told you they weren’t packed,” Summers said, his amusement fading and his expression returning to its normal mix of stoicism and disapproval. John had no clue how Dr. Grey could wake up to that face everyday. 

 

“You’re right, I forget that teenage boys often don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt,” Dr. Grey replied, a grin forming on her lips. 

 

“We’re right here, y’know?” John said, and he made eye contact with Bobby who was currently lying on the floor, the loud thud must have been him falling out of his bed, tangled up in his comforter. John wondered if he was trying to go back to sleep. 

 

“Oh yes, I know,” Summers said, and John had zero clue if he was joking or not. He set the keys on top of Bobby’s desk, which was next to the door. “Get to packing.”

 

Dr. Grey smiled widely and placed an envelope next to the keys. “Have a safe trip boys! Don’t forget to tell one of us when you’re leaving!”

 

They both exited the room and John and Bobby were left slightly dumbfounded. Scott Summers had just given them keys to one of Xavier’s cars. Basically Xavier had just given them one of his cars. Them. His cars. His expensive, high end cars. His expensive, high end cars, that cost so much they could probably feed John for the rest of his life. Maybe the rest of his life was a stretch, but a couple of years definitely. 

 

“What do you think is in the envelope?” Bobby said, stumbling to his feet and untangling himself. 

 

“Hopefully not anthrax,” John muttered and walked over to Bobby’s desk. He picked up the envelope and tossed it to Bobby. “Knock yourself out.”

 

“If I die it’s on you,” Bobby muttered and opened the envelope. He pulled out a slip of paper and read it aloud. “Gas money. Don’t spend it on things that aren’t gas.”

 

“Who wrote us that eloquent note?”

 

Bobby snorted. “Guess.”

 

“Summers himself?”

 

“The lack of red pen points to that direction.”

 

John grinned. He walked over to his bed and his duffel bag out from underneath it. It was already filled with a couple of pairs of pants, shirts, and hoodies. John always left it at least a quarter packed. Bobby judged him for it but John was reluctant to leave himself in the situation where he wasn’t ready to leave at a moments notice. His thoughts drifted back to frantically shoving clothes that weren’t singed or burnt completely into his ratty backpack and getting out of the collapsing house as quickly as he could. He didn’t even give himself time to process what he had done. No, John would do that much later, in Matthews house. Matthew had told him to stay with them, stay with him. Maybe he should’ve done that. Maybe he could’ve been there for Matthew. Maybe if he had done that he wouldn’t even be at the mansion. Maybe he would’ve been better off never going with Xavier and Summers. 

 

“You just gonna stand over your 

pre-packed duffle bag or are you actually gonna put like, deodorant in it?” Bobby asked, interrupting his train of thought. 

 

John shot him a grin. “Deodorant? Please, like I don’t already have deodorant in here.”

 

“God, you’re weird.”

 

Before John could protest there was a knock on the door. Bobby and John made eye contact before John sighed and opened the door. He didn’t expect to be confronted with Rogue, who’s all seeing eyes were bloodshot and teary, and she looked slightly hysterical. 

 

“Uhm-“ John managed to get out before Rogue threw herself into his arms and started sobbing. 

 

Please god let this stop happening, John thought to himself. 

 

“I saw her, I saw her,” she choked out. “I was so close. If only I could’ve reached out a little further. But she-she burnt-“

 

“It’s not real,” John said, cutting her off. He knew what she was going to say anyways. But she burnt in front of me. He felt like he was going to be sick to his stomach. He thought he had pushed past that nightmare, moved onto some other bad dream that merely involved fire strangling him and maybe freezing to death, not seeing his sister burn to death in front of him while he was just barely out of reach. At least when she showed up now she was already dead. “I promise you, it’s not real.”

 

Rogue didn’t listen to him. He wasn’t surprised, he wouldn’t have listened. 

 

Dr. Grey please fucking get this crying girl off me I don’t need her to recount my worst nightmares to me I’ve already experienced them enough, John projected and hoped Dr. Grey was listening. 

 

“No. I saw her. I was there. I heard her, screaming for me. Over and over and over and over-“

 

“She wasn’t saying your name. Think back, Rogue. Focus on it. She wasn’t saying your name.”

 

Rogue paused. John tried to project a little louder. 

 

Dr. Grey I swear to god, I did not sign up for this shit, this is literally not my job, I am not getting paid at all, please get this crying girl off me. 

 

“No. No, she wasn’t.”

 

Rogue stopped sobbing and pushed away from him. Tears were still falling out of her eyes but he counted the lack of hysterics as a win. 

 

“Oh, John,” she said, and brought her hand up to her mouth like she was some southern belle in a bad romance novel. “John I am so sorry. I don’t know what came over me, I wasn’t even thinking. I just, I just wandered over here, I didn’t even realize-“

 

“Rogue, sweetheart,” Dr. Grey said as she rounded the corner, smoothly interrupting. 

 

It may not be your job but you seem to be rather good at, Dr. Grey telepathically said to him. Maybe it could be one day. 

 

I’d rue the day, John thought back. 

 

Rogue turned to her and her face filled with regret. 

 

“Dr. Grey, I didn’t mean to cause a scene, I didn’t mean-“

 

“It’s okay, sweetheart. Just come with me, we’ll get you outta John’s hair, huh? Come with me, sweetheart.”

 

Rogue nodded and began to follow Dr. Grey and John stepped backwards into his room, shutting the door as he crossed the threshold. Bobby looked at him and John knew that look. He was trying not to pity John and trying not to convey the fact that he was trying not to pity John. John hated that look. He didn’t need anyone’s pity or anyone’s attempts at not pitying him. Pity got him nowhere. Pity didn’t help him with stupid girls throwing his nightmares in his face and acting like they’re their own. 

 

“We should get going soon,” John said, choosing not to address it. Bobby wouldn’t address it either. 

Chapter Text

“Do you want to switch now?” Bobby asked him, as John pulled the car into a gas station. “It’s been about 1.5 hours.”

 

“You know a normal person would say one and a half,” John says and puts the car in park. 

 

“Okay. It’s been about an hour and a half. Which means we’re about halfway there. So, do you want to switch?”

 

“Bobby, I don’t care. You want anything from the store?”

 

“Yeah-“

 

“Anything other than twizzlers.”

 

Bobby cuts himself off and John shoots him a grin. 

 

“Face it, Drake,” John says, stepping out of the car and Bobby follows suit. “You’re predictable.”

 

“Here,” John continues, handing him some of the Xavier provided cash to be used strictly for gas and gas only, Summers’ words, of course. “You fill up the tank and I’ll get your twizzlers.”

 

Bobby takes the cash from his outstretched hand and John enters the small convenience store that was next to the gas station. He went to the bathroom first, which made him think that peeing on the side of the road would’ve probably been a better and more sanitary idea. He then hunted down Bobby’s twizzlers and he paused in the candy aisle, a row of tim tams staring him in the face, like they were mocking him. Whenever Matthew agreed to drive him and Jo to the outback, mostly through a lot of haggling and promises that John never got to follow threw on, he would always pillage convenience stores supply of them. Jo herself was partial to mint slices and John always had to remind Matthew to grab some of them too. John really didn’t care what kind of candy they got as long as they got there before the sunset. He loved watching the sun set. 

 

Matthew’d always play a lot of The Scientist or The Saints, sometimes even Cosmic Psychos or whatever CD happened to be in his car. Blokes You Can Trust had always been one of John’s favorite albums that Matthew would play. He’d sit in the passenger seat, still not old enough to drive, and Jo would be passed out in the back. They’d talk sometimes but mostly listen to music, the only real conversation occurring when Matthew asked John to swap out one of the CD’s. The last time he had driven into the outback was when he was 15. Matthew had told him that he had to start learning to drive himself, 15 or not, he wouldn’t be around to be his personal chauffeur forever. Then Matthew had given him a box full of CD’s and killed himself. John had killed his sister and ran away from his so called home only weeks before. He spent what seemed to be months upon months on the streets, hopping from shelter to shelter, the only things in his possession being a lighter, the few clothes he had, and a backpack full of CD’s, before Xavier had picked him up. John had been at Matthew’s house, taking all the things his parents couldn’t bear to look at anymore, before Xavier had arrived to wisk him away to his school of mutants and freaks, kids just like him. He stepped out the door with Matthews duffle bag and ran straight into a man with red sunglasses, Scott Summers, as he would later find out. So he got the sales pitch and took Matthews old dusty duffel bag filled to the brim with his stuff, the same one that sat in the trunk of his and Bobby’s Xavier provided car, and agreed to go with them. He thanked Matthew’s parents one last time and left with Summers because he didn’t have anywhere else left to go, and to be honest a mansion sounded a lot better than another shelter that he would just end up being kicked out of. 

 

John frowned and pulled himself out of the memory of Matthew and long drives down dirt roads. He grabs a tim tam and Bobby’s twizzlers and pays for them with the crumpled dollar bills he had shoved in his pocket earlier. He exited the store and held the bag tightly in his hand, as if it might break if his grip was any looser. 

 

“Here,” John said, and pulled the twizzlers out of the bag and handed them to Bobby. He rolled up the bag and the tim tam that it contained and slipped it into the pocket of his hoodie. He’d eat it later. 

 

“Thanks,” Bobby replies, and takes the gas pump out of the car and puts it back where it belongs. “So, you driving or am I?”

 

“Knock yourself out, Bobby.”

 

*****

They arrived at Bobby’s house about 1.5 hours later and John couldn’t help but grimace when he looked around at all the houses that were built in a nearly identical style. It all uncomfortably reminded John of the house he had grew up in. But his was more run down and leaned more towards rural than suburban in comparison to Bobby’s. 

 

“Home sweet home,” Bobby muttered and stepped out of the car. “Hello again, West Roxbury.”

 

John rolled his eyes and stepped out of the car and popped the trunk. 

 

“Could be worse,” he replied and swung his duffel bag over his shoulder. He took out Bobby’s suitcase and put it on the ground before he closed the trunk. 

 

The door to the house opened and out came Madeline Drake. She was wearing an apron that had a dusting of flour on it and her brown hair, the same brown as Bobby’s, was pulled neatly away from her face. The picture perfect suburban mother to greet her picture perfect suburban son and his not-so-picture-perfect, not-so-suburban friend. 

 

“Could be,” Bobby muttered and locked the car. 

 

“Robert!” Mrs. Drake squealed, rushing from the door to greet them. Well, to greet Bobby. 

 

She pulled Bobby into a very overexcited hug and Bobby looked like he was doing his best not to push her away. 

 

“Oh, Robert, we’ve missed you! Your brother will be so excited to see you!”

 

Bobby smiled politely and nodded. 

 

“‘M sure he will be Mom,” Bobby said, his voice slightly muffled. “Uh, you know John.”

 

His mother released him and John realized that he had been used as an escape route. That asshole. He was quickly enveloped in the same crushing hug that had just held Bobby only seconds ago. His was probably less enthusiastic, though. 

 

“It’s wonderful to see you both,” she exclaimed and John laughed slightly. 

 

“It’s great to see you too Mrs. Drake,” John said, and managed to squirm his way out of her hug. 

 

“Oh, come on boys, hurry in! It’s cold outside and neither of you are anywhere near appropriately dressed. Robert, I know you have thicker jackets than that!”

 

“C’mon, Robert,” John muttered under his breath and Bobby glared at him. “Bundle up before you freeze to death.”

 

“Oh you too, John! I’m sure we have some old jackets for you to borrow.”

 

“That’d be great, Mrs. Drake.”

 

Bobby’s mom continued to fuss over them and their lack of cold weather appropriate wear, before quickly rushing them into the house and insisting that they take their shoes off at the door.

 

“You boys go upstairs and settle in, okay? You both had a long drive.”

 

Bobby’s mom rushed them upstairs and they marched past a door that smelled faintly of weed and another that smelled like a mix of perfume and cologne, John couldn’t decide if it wasn’t pleasant or unpleasant, and too one at the end of the hall that smelled like someone had been burning a cinnamon scented candle. Bobby’s room always smelled like cinnamon. She opened the door and practically pushed them inside. 

 

“The air mattress is in the closet. Rest up, but don’t be late for dinner,” she says with a smile and closed the door on her way out. 

 

“The air mattress is in the closet,” John repeated, as if this was some big joke. 

 

“Rest up, but don’t be late for dinner,” Bobby replied, not laughing and his expression grim. 

Chapter Text

Dinner goes by relatively smoothly and they get dismissed early under the pretenses of a long drive and an early wake up, which seems to be happening more than John thought it would. Bobby tries to argue that the drive wasn’t that long but John laments that the wake up was too early. Ronny manages to roll his eyes throughout the entire interaction. He seems to have become a very angst riddled teen, judging by the fact this his hands are stained from spray paint cans, how he smells a little bit like weed-his room must be the weed scented one-and overall reeks of privileged teenage rebellion. John wonders if the Drake’s know their son is a graffiti artist and a stoner. By the sound of Ronny slamming his door closed and clicking the lock, he assumes they don’t. He wonders if the Drake’s just don’t know what weed smells like. He figures that they don’t really have any reason to, so it makes sense. He wonders if Ronny told them some bullshit like it was just incense, because John has had to walk past his room multiple times and it reeks. It seems like a lot has changed for Ronny in a year. Less of a weirdo, more of a rebel. Still an ass-kisser, though. John guesses that that never really goes away. 

 

John sleeps on the air mattress on Bobby’s floor and does his best not to wake up screaming with the smell of smoke in his nose. Bobby is next to him in an instant and John can barely take a breath to cry out for his sister and his friend who are trapped in a burning truck before Bobby is pulling him back to reality with his presence and constant chill and eventually calming him back to sleep. John is thankful for him and pretends like he doesn’t notice Ronny looking at him sideways during breakfast. He knows his pancakes are getting cold but he can’t help but replay his dream in his head. 

 

Matthew’s truck burning in the desert, him sitting in it smiling, like this is what he wanted all along. His sister next to him, pounding on the window for John to help her. And he couldn’t help her. Couldn’t help Matthew either. Of course he couldn’t. He could never help either of them. 

 

“So, the festival starts today,” Mrs. Drake says, clearly attempting to start a conversation and also pretend like she hadn’t heard John screaming bloody murder at four in the morning. “Are you boys going to go?”

 

“‘Course,” Bobby said, grinning at John. “Only reason John’s here, anyway.”

 

“Yep,” John said, and popped the P. 

 

“See. Festival ready.”

 

“Oh that’s wonderful,” Mrs. Drake says and she genuinely sounds excited John almost felt guilty for being sarcastic. “And, what about you Ronny?”

 

“What they said,” Ronny muttered. The weed smell was stronger than it was yesterday. Ronny must be a fan of the wake and bake. John wondered what the Drakes would think of they knew that. He seems to have to wonder a lot of things lately. 

 

“Okay! Make sure you wear a jacket, it’s chilly out there.”

 

“We will, Ma.”

 

“You better. I don’t want either if you catching some sort of preventable cold. Now, do you boys need money? I know the food can get expensive.”

 

****

John entered the festival ground with Bobby, Ronny having wandered off somewhere and he didn’t think either of them really cared where he went. Probably to hang out with his stoner friends, John had remarked. Bobby looked confused so he dropped it. 

 

“Welcome to the annual fall festival!” An overenthusiastic employee, probably a volunteer, said, greeting them. The boys nodded in response and kept moving. 

 

“So, where too first, Drake?” John said, scanning the festival grounds. 

 

“I’d like to say anywhere else,” Bobby said, “but, I guess I could always kick your ass in corn hole.”

 

John scoffed. “As if you could kick my ass in anything.”

 

John wasn’t sure how long they had played corn hole, definitely longer than he thought he’d ever play corn hole and they were definitely monopolizing it, so they decided to move on. For all their talk, they hadn’t even keep score, but Bobby was insistent that he had been counting and that he had won. John knew he wasn’t counting. He was too focused on saying whatever stupid corn themed joke that came to his mind to ever be counting. John had been too focused on trying not to find them funny. 

 

They had arrived later in the afternoon so the sun was setting now. John looked around them and felt a soft pang in his chest. He wished this could’ve been his life. The suburbs and corn hole and fall festivals. But he got a bad hand and John had accepted that a long time ago, so he didn’t try to dwell on his jealousy and his shitty life for long. Besides, it could be worse. He could still be waking up screaming on park benches, instead of on the floor of Bobby’s room. And park benches were a lot more uncomfortable than Bobby’s floor and his family’s air mattress. 

 

The glow of the sun setting down made everything more peaceful and John should’ve expected something to go wrong. Something always has to go wrong. 

 

They were alone and on their way to the bathroom when Bobby was slammed into him, his body moved to the side with the force of a kid about John’s height shoulder checking him. 

 

“Get outta my way,” the kid hissed. “Fuckn’ dirty jew.”

 

John stopped and his entire body tensed. Bobby looked as if he had been slapped. 

 

“What the fuck did you just say,” John said, wheeling around and grabbing the kids wrist to prevent him from walking away. He looked about their age and John figured that he was faster than him, cause this kid had too much bulk weighing him down. Nothing but beach muscles. 

 

“I said, get outta my way. Dirty jew.”

 

“Say it again,” John said, stepping forward and into his personal space. The grip on his wrist tightened. “Insult him again.”

 

“John, let it go,” Bobby said, and his voice sounded so used to it that it just pissed him off even more. What gave this kid the right to talk to him like that? What made Bobby think he had to be used to this? To just accept it, move on, let it go? John was never good at letting things go. 

 

“What? Don’t tell me you’re both kikes,” the kid said, and John didn’t think his grip could get any tighter, but it did and the kid even grimaced. “Oh, Drake don’t tell me you and your fag friend are both hymies?”

 

John punched him. He moved his fist as fast as he possibly could with as much force he could manage and connected it directly with his nose. The pop was audible. John released his grip and the kid stumbled backwards. He hopped he fell on his ass. 

 

“Call me a fag again,” John hissed. “Call him a hymie, or a kike, or whatever bullshit you can think of again. I fucking dare you.”

 

The kid opened his mouth like he was going to take John up on his fare, but John punched him again before he could even get a word out and his fist connected with his nose again, which was gushing blood, and he heard another pop. His hand was covered with the kids blood and probably some of his own. 

 

“What, you at a loss for words or something? Fuck you, you fucking prick. I bet your mother wishes you were never born.”

 

John felt Bobby reach out to stop him, but John simply brushed him off, moved forward, and grabbed the kid by his shirt, dragging him towards him. 

 

“Say it. Say any of it again,” John hissed, and the kid whimpered slightly and John’s whole body shook with anger. Because he was pissed at the fact that this kid thought he had the right to talk to him, to talk to his best friend, like that and his best friend just acted like he deserved it. John would kick this kids teeth in if it could convince Bobby that he never deserved it. 

 

“You can’t do this,” he says, instead. “My dad’s the distract attorney.”

 

John let go of his shirt and unceremoniously shoved him backwards. He stumbled and kicked up the dirt around him. 

 

“So sue me.”

 

John spit at the ground in front of him and left him standing there, his nose bleeding profusely and probably broken in two places. He ran off somewhere and John didn’t care to find out where he’d gone. 

 

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Bobby muttered, but didn’t seem like he was actually that upset. 

 

“You shouldn’t have let him talk to you like that,” John replied under his breath. 

 

“Whatever. There’s blood on your hands.”

Chapter Text

John stood in the dimly lit bathroom next to Bobby and washed the blood from his hands. John was satisfied to see that his knuckles were only slightly bruised, but not bleeding. It reminded him of when he had hit Bobby and of when Bobby had frozen his hand solid. Bobby’s bruises were faded, almost gone entirely, but faint burn scars ran their way up John’s hand and onto his forearm. He wondered if they’d be there forever. He wondered if Bobby felt bad about it. 

 

“I can’t believe you told him to sue you,” Bobby said, breaking the very tense silence that had grown between them after the fight and on their continued journey to the bathroom. He was laughing under his breath. “He said his dad was the DA and you actually told him to sue you. You are ridiculous St John Allerdyce.”

 

“I try my best Robert Drake,” John said, reaching across Bobby to the paper towels. It was so weirdly intimate and not at all at the same time that it baffled him. He couldn’t help but wonder if Bobby felt the same way. 

 

“So sue me,” Bobby said, terribly imitating John.  

 

John rolled his eyes and dried his hands and the two exited the dimly lit bathroom together and John was just glad that Bobby wasn’t pissed at him and that John’s own nose hadn’t been the one to be broken. He kinda wishes the asshole had punched him, though. What’s the point of a fight when you don’t even get fought back? At least Bobby had fought back. 

 

Bobby stopped walking and John wasn’t exactly sure where they were going in the first place, when a flashlight washed over them. John raised his hands to protect his eyes from the bright beam. It harshly reminded him of cops and Australia and John could deal with reminders of Australia but he didn’t usually seek them out if they included cops. 

 

“Robert Drake,” a voice came, a girls voice, not an Australian cop’s, and the flashlight clicked off. John lowered his arms and stared at the girl in front of them. She was pretty. A brunette. Her eyes where a sharp piercing blue, similar to his own but probably less harsh. John wondered how she knew Bobby and why she called him Robert. “And a friend.” 

 

John waved and glanced over at Bobby. He seemed surprised to see her.

 

“Uh, Jess, this is John,” Bobby said, waving his hands awkwardly between them. Now he really wondered how they knew each other. “John, this is Jessica.” 

 

“Pleasure to meet you, John,” the pretty brunette with blue eyes, Jessica, said flashing a smile, and John didn’t think it would be dramatic to describe her smile as dazzling. He wondered if Bobby also thought that. She then turned her attention away from him and zeroed in on Bobby. “We’re having a party later, the kids around the neighborhood, y’know. A sort of, fuck the pilgrims, gathering. You’re welcome to come. And you too, of course, John. Any friend of Bobby’s is a friend of mine.”

 

“Oh, I don’t know if that’s a good idea, my mom-“

 

“Drake,” John said, cutting him off. He didn’t want to hear Bobby talk about his mom in front of the pretty brunette who was clearly trying to hit on him. Part of it made John’s stomach shift uncomfortably but it was culturally his job as Bobby’s best friend to do this for him. Besides this Jessica girl was ten times better than Rogue. “You gotta live a little.”

 

“Exactly!” Jessica exclaimed and clapped her hands together, excitedly. “So I’ll see you there, both of you?”

 

“I’m telling you I don’t think-“

 

“Hey,” John said, cutting him off, “prick about my height, says his dad’s the DA, will he be there?”

 

“God, no. Fuck Roger. He’s a total narc. Oh, Bobby, I heard some kid just straight up broke his nose. I think it’s true, cause I saw him bleeding over by the funnel cakes. Seemed unsanitary, but whatever, I was never one for funnel cakes.”

 

“Word travels fast,” John said under his breath to Bobby.  

 

“Very fast,” Bobby replied. 

 

“Holy shit!” Jessica exclaimed–she must have heard them–and clapped her hands together excitedly. She seemed to be found of doing that. “Holy shit, you did it didn’t you?” She pointed at his slightly bruised knuckles and John fought the instinct to hide his hand. He wondered if she saw the scars too. “Oh, you totally did it! That is so fucking cool. Now you definitely have to come. In fact it would be my honor if you came.”

 

“I still don’t think-“

 

“No, man,” John said, cutting Bobby off again. It seemed like this entire conversation had been him cutting off Bobby. “We’ll be there. C’mon, Drake. Let go for once in your life.”

 

“Yes! Let go, Bobby! Let go!”

 

John smiled at her and she smiled back and he knew Bobby would most definitely make fun of him for this later and probably accuse him of just wanting to impress her. He really couldn’t care less what this girl thought of him. Or at least, he could tell himself that. He was just glad she stopped smiling at Bobby like that and decided it would probably be best for him to to dwell on why he felt like that. 

 

“All right,” Bobby said, raising his hands in surrender and John knew that he was only agreeing for his sake. “If you insist.”

 

“Yes!” She pumped her fist in the air. John wouldn’t have been surprised if she maybe busted out a whole cheer routine. “You have my address. See you boys there.”

Chapter Text

Bobby rocked back and forth on his heels, he had been jittery since Jessica had invited them to the party, and John figured that meant it was his job to ring the door bell. He reached out and pressed it, not expecting the tune that seemed to last way too long to be a door bell. The pretty brunette from earlier with the piercing blue eyes who had extended the invitation to them, Jessica, opened the door and beamed at them. 

 

“Welcome!” She said, and pulled them into the house. She had to shout over the music that was blaring from the room next to them.

 

John looked around apprehensively at the crowd of kids he didn’t know and had no plan on ever knowing. He saw faces that were vaguely familiar, Bobby’s old friends, maybe, and more that he couldn’t place at all. But, he did see Ronny tucked away in a corner with two other people, passing a joint between them. Bobby didn’t seem to notice so he didn’t think it would be a good idea to point out. Ronny looked up, as if he could feel John staring at him, and made uncomfortable eye contact. John nodded in response and Ronny refocused on his small group. 

 

“Drinks are in the kitchen so that’s where we’re going first,” Jessica shouted and pulled them both along behind her. 

 

“Are we sure drinking is a good idea?” Bobby leaned over and asked him. It was probably a loaded, power-related question but John ignored the nuances of it. 

 

John shrugged. “Why not? Party’s a party.”

 

Ahead of them, Jessica was busy weaving her way through partygoers who all greeted her with enthusiastic exclamations and warm smiles. John wasn’t sure if they liked her or they just liked free booze. It was probably both. Who didn’t like pretty brunettes willing to raid their parents liquor cabinets?

 

Once they reached the kitchen Jessica busied herself with her appointed task and reappeared in front of them with two red plastic cups filled to the brim of what John suspected to be very bad, and very cheap, beer. But, hey. A party’s a party. 

 

“Thanks,” Bobby said and took the cup which he looked reluctant to drink. 

 

“‘Preciate it,” John said, taking his own cup. He was probably less reluctant to drink it. 

 

Jessica smiled at them and John wondered just how many times she was going to smile tonight. He wasn’t sure why, but for some reason it irked him. If he thought about it deeper he was sure it would have some vague connect with Bobby. 

 

“No problem boys!” She said, and seemed way too giddy to be fully sober. “Drink up! There’s plenty more where that came from!”

 

“I’ll make sure to remember that,” John replied, and he was only half joking. 

 

She laughed and John was seriously staring to question her giddiness. She hadn’t been this bubbly earlier, had she? But to be fair, their interaction was brief. Maybe she was just always like this. 

 

“Hey you got a bathroom I could use?” John asked, and took a sip of his drink. Oh, yeah. Definitely very bad and definitely very cheap. 

 

“Duh,” she said and rolled her eyes. “Bobby wait here while I show your friend to the bathroom.”

 

Bobby nodded but looked like the very last thing he wanted to do was wait here. Jessica grabbed hold of his wrist and weaved through the crowd, most of them parting like the Red Sea at the site of her, and pulled John towards the bathroom. 

 

“Here we are,” she said and smiled at him. John had to make an effort not to smile back. “One bathroom for one friend of Bobby Drake’s.”

 

“You can just call me John,” he replied. 

 

“Sure, John. I’ll leave you to it. Don’t like, piss on my floor, okay?”

 

“I’ll try not to.” She grinned. 

 

“Try hard!” He grinned back. 

 

She turned away from him and weaved her way back through the crowd, probably to the kitchen and an awaiting Bobby. John couldn’t help but feel nervous about what would happen without him there, which was stupid but he couldn’t shut this voice in the back of his head up. She likes him, it kept going. She likes him. Of course she likes him, why wouldn’t she like him. 

 

Instead of listing out all of the reasons that made Bobby so likeable, John shook his head and entered the bathroom. He shut and locked the door behind him. It smelled like weed and cheap beer, like a party, and Jessica would be needing a lot of air freshener to get that stench out. 

 

John walked towards the sink and sighed. He didn’t even have to pee. He took the drink in his hand and chugged it all, remembering Matthew jokingly telling him that all he had to do was open his throat and ignore the blatant innuendo. God, John missed Matthew. He missed his friend and his sister and late night drives to the outback where they could all sit huddled together in the bed of Matthews truck, John wedged between Matthew and Jo, and name constellations. They’d use the real names of the ones they knew and they’d let Jo make up all the rest. God he missed that. He’d give everything just to have that one last time. Maybe he’d value it more if he knew he was just going to lose it all. 

 

He crumpled his empty cup and dropped it in the trash can. He turned the sink on and stuck his hands under the running water. It was freezing and his hand burned with the memory of ice in his veins. He turned the other switch and stood there until the water steamed. 

 

He stepped away from the sink, turned the water off, and exited the bathroom. He smiled at the girl who was standing outside the door and looked like she wanted to kill him. 

 

“Thanks for taking six years,” she hissed and pushed past him. 

 

“No fuckn’ problem,” John replied as she slammed the door in his face. Whatever. Bitch. 

 

He worked his way back to the kitchen, trying to remember the path Jessica had taken. He eventually found the right location after somehow ending up in the living room twice, fuck her house was confusing, and now realized that he had to look for Bobby. It apparently wasn’t going to be that hard. 

 

Bobby was sitting on the counter with a dopey grin on his face, laughing loudly at whatever joke the kid next to him had said. 

 

“It’s been too long Bobby,” he said, and Bobby nodded along, though he didn’t totally look like he agreed with the sentiment. 

 

“Too fucking long!” Jessica exclaimed. 

 

John winced. A stupid part of him wondered if Bobby even wanted him here when he was already surrounded by all of these people who knew him, liked him apparently. Why would he want John when he could have all of them? Why would he want John when Jessica was right there, her hand on his thigh, practically touching his dick? John swallowed the jealousy he didn’t even have a right to feel. 

 

“John!” Bobby exclaimed, his whole face lighting up when they made eye contact. “Johnny!”

 

Bobby hopped of the counter, dislodging Jessica’s hand in the process, which to be fair she only looked slightly miffed about it, and worked his way towards John. Before John could even say anything he found himself wrapped in a hug that was the weird mixture of hot and cold that happened whenever Bobby hugged him. Eventually they balanced out. 

 

“Hey Bobby,” John said, laughing and trying to pretend he wasn’t uncomfortable. “How much’ve you had to drink?”

 

Jessica appeared next to them and rolled her eyes. “Barely anything,” she said, a smile plastered on her face. “Our Bobby’s a lightweight.”

 

So he was our Bobby now? John decided not to dwell on it. He also didn’t believe her measurement of barely anything. 

 

“To be fair there aren’t many opportunities for him to get plastered at Xavier’s,” John said, and lightly pushed Bobby away from him, even if the voice in the back of his head told him to pull Bobby even closer. 

 

Bobby’s presence was replaced by a drink thrusted in his hand by Jessica. 

 

“Xavier’s?” She said, most likely playing dumb. 

 

“It’s our school. Xavier’s School for something, I don’t know.”

 

“Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters,” Bobby said. “We call it the X-Mansion.”

 

“X-Mansion? That sounds like something out of a comic book.”

 

“Yeah,” John said, trying not to grin. “You could say that.”

 

Wait till I tell you about all the superhero shit, John wanted to say. Wait till I tell you about the skintight leather suits that our teachers sneak around in the dark in. 

 

Before John could spill all of the mansions secrets, a loud cheer erupted from some room and Jessica looked downright giddy. 

 

“Let’s go,” she said and grabbed both of their wrists and pulled them along. John almost spilt his drink. 

 

They reached the source of the noise, it looked like the room they had passed through to get to the kitchen, and John warily watched the circle that was formed on the floor. He glanced around the room for Ronny but didn’t find him. Maybe he had left.

 

“C’mon,” Jessica said and pushed them forwards. 

 

John rolled his eyes and Jessica shoved both him and and Bobby into the circle gathered on the floor. He drank the rest of his drink before he had the chance to spill it all over the floor. 

 

“It’s simple, Aussie boy,” she said, and she was definitely a little tipsy but so was John and he didn’t really care. “Spin it. Kiss whoever it lands on. I’m sure you have this in Australia.”

 

John snorted and glanced over at Bobby who had wound up across from. He was also most definitely inebriated. Jessica had taken great joy in peer pressuring Boy Scout Bobby into drinking but John knew he wouldn’t have if he didn’t want to. He just usually didn’t want to. At least he hoped Bobby wouldn’t have if he didn’t want to. He believed in him, whether it was naive or not. 

 

“Who’s it gonna hurt?” Bobby said, and he grinned, his whole demeanor relaxed. Yeah, most definitely inebriated. 

 

“But, the word of the bottle is law.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” John muttered, and spun it. He watched it spin and spin and rolled his eyes when it landed on himself. 

 

“That doesn’t count!” Jessica said, and she was clearly disappointed. “You did a bad job. I can tell you’ve never done this before, you don’t know how to spin properly. Let me spin for you.”

 

“I don’t think you’re allowed to spin for me?”

 

“Shut up, Aussie.”

 

Jess leaned over him and spun the bottle. She giggled when it landed on some blue-haired girl that John didn’t know the name of. He rolled his eyes again but complied, after all, the word of the bottle was law apparently, and kissed the blue-haired girl. It was a peck and Jessica tried to protest, but the guy next to John was already spinning the bottle again and kissing who it landed on. If Bobby wasn’t as inebriated he would probably comment on how easily diseases could spread between them all. John reminded himself to get Bobby to drink some water or eat something so he didn’t hate him in the morning. 

 

Eventually it was Bobby’s turn and John watched, slightly anxious, as he spun the bottle. It slowed and for a minute John almost thought it was going to land on Jessica, and his stomach turned with the thought of having to watch Bobby kiss Jessica and he reminded himself that he didn’t have a right to feel jealous of Jessica. But it didn’t land on her. It landed on him. John thought his heart stopped beating. 

 

“You can spin again,” John rushed out, the words falling from his mouth too quickly. 

 

“No, no,” Jess said, and clearly she was overjoyed with this outcome. “Law. It’s law. That’s how it works. Kiss the boy, Bobby.”

 

John found it incredibly ironic that he had broken a guys nose in two places for calling him a fag, and yeah also referring to Bobby as other anti-Semitic bullshit, and now here he was getting a guy encouraged to kiss him. 

 

The blue-haired girl cheered them on and Jess grew more enthusiastic. It seemed like every person in their small circle wanted them to kiss and Bobby’s entire face was red and John had dreamt about kissing Bobby but definitely not like this and definitely in a more private situation where he could get away with having his tongue in his mouth and his hand in his hair and John knew that this wasn’t going to be anything like the kisses he dreamed about and he was mostly glad he wasn’t so plastered that he was saying everything he was thinking aloud. 

 

“Fuck it,” John muttered and lean forward. 

 

“You don’t have to do this, Drake,” he whispered so only Bobby could hear him. 

 

“It’s whatever, Allerdyce,” Bobby said, and closed the gap between them. The kiss lasted longer than John’s with the blue-haired girl but not nearly as long as he innately wanted it to. Bobby pulled away from him and John had to remind himself to lean back, and not forward, like he so desperately wanted to. Jess wolf-whistled and the blue-haired girl looked at him with her head titled to the side, like she knew everything about him. Who knows, maybe she did. 

 

John excused himself once Jessica spun the bottle and it landed Bobby. She looked too excited and John didn’t think he could stomach watching his best friend make out with some girl. He made up some lie about getting something to drink and wandered off through the house, ignoring the requests from people asking him to get something as well. He ended up on her back porch which was empty except for a kid who was carving his initials into her porch. He grinned at John, slipped the knife back into his pocket, and scampered off. 

 

John made his way over to the bench-swing at the end of her back porch and sat down. He pulled his pack out of his pocket and slide a cigarette out. He put it in his mouth, lit it with a quick flick of his lighter, and put the pack back in his pocket. His head hummed as his buzzed feeling mixed with his body’s clear approval of the entrance of nicotine. He took a long drag and listened to the music flowing out of the house. He wondered how long it would be til they got a noise complaint. But Jessica was a nice girl and this was a nice neighborhood, so maybe they’d let it slide. Or maybe that’d piss them off even more. How was he supposed to know?

 

“Figured I’d find you here,” Bobby said, his voice coming from behind him and sounding more slurred than it had been earlier. Or maybe John just hadn’t noticed it. 

 

John turned to look at him and grinned. “What’re you reading my mind, Drake?”

 

“I fuckn wish.”

 

John rolled his eyes and Bobby plopped down on the swing next to him, sending it rocking back and forth. 

 

“Don’t we all.”

 

“Seriously. It would make so much more sense if I could just like, look inside your mind.”

 

John rolled his eyes again and took a drag. He turned his head slightly away from Bobby and exhaled deeply. 

 

“You’re drunk,” he said. 

 

“I’m not lying,” Bobby continued and he leaned towards John. “Seriously. So much more sense. Ten times more sense. I would have all the knowledge in the world. I’d be the smartest dude alive.”

 

“If you could read my mind?”

 

“Yes. God, maybe I wouldn’t feel so fucked all the time.”

 

John crinkled his nose and stubbed out his cigarette under his feet. He turned to face Bobby. 

 

“What?”

 

“You know what I mean. Like, fucked? I feel fucked. Stupid.”

 

“Bobby, you’re drunk.”

 

Bobby grinned at him and John could tell he was most likely drunk. Not saying that John himself was sober, but maybe he never should’ve left Bobby alone. The kid was a lightweight. How much has he even drank? He still didn’t trust Jessica’s measurement of barely anything. He should’ve been more insistent. He should’ve stuck with Bobby. 

 

“Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I’ve never thought about it before. Before tonight. Fuck.”

 

“Thought about what?”

 

“You know.”

 

John didn’t know. He seriously didn’t know. But that didn’t mean his heart didn’t beat slightly faster in anticipation with the vague idea of what Bobby could be implying. 

 

“Bobby. You’re drunk.”

 

“Doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about kissing you. And not, like, in a circle surrounded by people.”

 

John paused. He felt like he couldn’t breath. He looked more intently at Bobby’s face, searching for any sign that he was just fucking with him or that he genuinely didn’t even know what he was saying right now. 

 

“You don’t mean that. You’re drunk.”

 

“Maybe so. But it’s true. I’ve never told anyone but it’s true. You should probably just tell me now that you’ve never thought about it and we can both forget about this conversation.”

 

John stopped to think. This could be his make or break. He could lie to Bobby and move on with his life and pretend like he didn’t like him, didn’t care for him, and Bobby could do the same. Or he could tell the truth and get a shot at everything he’s ever wanted, everything he’s ever dreamed about. 

 

“I-“ John stuttered and no matter how many times he had thought about this, planned out what he would say, he was at a loss for words. 

 

Bobby moved towards him, like he was going to kiss him again. He only stopped when they were inches apart. His breath smelled like beer. John knew his did too. John didn’t lean back. 

 

“Your brother’s here,” John said, and that stopped Bobby in his tracks. It was only half a lie, seeing as he figured Ronny had left when he didn’t spot him again. 

 

It was a reminder that his actions have real world consequences, and aren’t just things said while drunk at a house party that maybe they’d both forget in the morning. Ronny wouldn’t forget. John knew he wouldn’t forget either. He hoped Bobby would. 

 

Bobby leaned backwards and it looked like the shock of his brothers presence sobered him. 

 

“We should go,” Bobby said, and John couldn’t argue with that.  

Chapter Text

John cringed when the floorboards of Bobby’s living room creaked underneath him. Sometimes he thinks he’s doomed to set off every creaky floorboard and squeaky door. Bobby glanced at him nervously before they parted ways and Bobby fled up the stairs. John entered the kitchen quietly and made eye contact with Ronny, who was sitting on the counter, 

elbow-deep into a bag of tortilla chips. John didn’t make a move to initiate a conversation. 

 

John silently grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge and shut the door softly to as not rattle the contents inside. 

 

“You have fun?” Ronny asks, his face smug. As if he has anything to lord over them. 

 

John looks up at him and harshly realizes he has the same eyes as Bobby, but instead of being filled with this impossible kindness they’re filled with contempt. Contempt for what, John doesn’t know. Maybe for him. They’re also a little 

red-rimmed. 

 

“I could ask you the same thing,” John replies, his expression mirroring Ronny’s smugness. “You might wanna get some eye drops, by the way.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

John grins and exits the kitchen without responding. He carefully makes his way through the creaky living room and towards the stairs, where he walks up them and through the creaky hallway to Bobby’s room. He opens the door and finds Bobby face down on his mattress, one shoe still on his foot. 

 

John snorts and puts the water down on Bobby’s night stand and moves to take off Bobby’s other shoe. 

 

“I could’ve done that,” Bobby says, his voice muffled. 

 

“But you didn’t,” John replies, sitting at the end of his bed. He wants to kiss Bobby. It’s almost like he always wants to kiss Bobby. Bobby wants to kiss you too, a stupid voice in the back of his head says. John firmly tells it to shut the fuck up. “Drink some water.”

 

Bobby blindly reaches to the side and John is glad he didn’t grab glasses. He rolls over onto his back once his hand makes contact with one of the bottles and screws it open, basically dumping the water in his mouth. 

 

“It’ll freeze by morning if I don’t drink it all,” Bobby mumbles, probably to himself. He sounds sad, sadder than John has ever heard him before. He wonders if it has to deal with what happened earlier. He’ll probably never find out. John ignores the pang in his chest. “I know you wake up and unfreeze everything and then go back to bed. I know you think I don’t know. I do. I know. Thank you, John.”

 

“It’s nothing Bobby,” John replies, his voice quiet. 

 

He wants to kiss Bobby, so badly. He wants to lean over and brush his hair out of his face and tell him everything’s going to be okay. He wants to pull him into his arms and tell him that he’s there for him, that he’s always gonna be there for him, like Bobby has so many times. He wants to be the person Bobby thinks he is. He’s dying to be the person Bobby thinks he is. 

 

“It’s not nothing, John. You’re a good friend. My best friend. Nobody’s ever cared about me like you care about me.”

 

He wants to go back and mend the line that Bobby broke. He wants to take Bobby’s hand and jump right over that stupid fucking line. He wants it all and none of it at the same time and John feels like he’s being torn in two. Ripped in half by Bobby Drake. 

 

“I doubt that.”

 

“Seriously man. You’re my best friend.”

 

John wants to be nothing more than his best friend and he wants to be so much more than his best friend. 

 

“Did you mean it?” John asks quietly and he hopes Bobby won’t hear him. He’s half asleep already. He doesn’t directly say what he’s alluding to, but Bobby will know. Bobby always knows. They’re best friends, right?

 

“Every word of it,” Bobby replies, his voice barely audible. 

Chapter Text

“When is thanksgiving again?” Bobby asked with a groan. 

 

“Thursday,” John replied and couldn’t help but grin. 

 

“And what day is it now?”

 

“Tragically, Monday.”

 

Bobby looks over at him, a pained expression on his face. “I’m trapped John. I’m fucking trapped.”

 

“Don’t drag me down with you, man.”

 

“Too late, Allerdyce. The noose is already tightening.”

 

John rolls his eyes. “Save the melodrama for English, Shakespeare.”

 

Bobby laughs and there’s a knock on the door. He is forced to get up and open it and Ronny is standing there scowling at them. 

 

“Mom says to come get breakfast,” Ronny says and John really doesn’t know what he’s done to deserve the contempt dripping from Ronny’s voice. “She says it’s getting cold or some thing. I don’t know. I don’t care, either.”

 

John rolls his eyes. “Thanks, Ronald,” he says, his tone mocking. 

 

Ronny glares at him. He walks away and Bobby shuts the door. They get dressed in a sort of hurry and stumble downstairs and John isn’t sure if his shoes are his or Bobby’s. He stares down at them but still can’t tell. Maybe Bobby’s just been wearing his shoes? Or did he accidentally just steal Bobby’s shoes and forget they were never his?

 

“Hello boys,” Bobby’s mom says and the cheer in her voice sounds a bit forced, but John ignores it. There are two plates set out for them and Bobby sits down first and John, on cue, sits down next to him. “How was your night?”

 

Ronny snorts. John wants to kick him. He doesn’t, though. For Bobby’s sake, of course. 

 

“Uh fine,” Bobby replies noncommittally. “We got to the fair later than we thought we would.”

 

“And is that all you did?” His mother prompts, her voice completely innocent. 

 

Ronny scoffs this time and John sneers at him. Asshole, he thinks. Ronny is probably thinking the same thing. 

 

“Yeah,” Bobby lies. John doesn’t know why Bobby’s ease in lying to his parents still manages to surprise him. It’s not like he hasn’t seen it before, what with the whole school situation and whatnot. But, nonetheless, it jars him. Maybe he just doesn’t expect the great Bobby Drake to ever be able to lie. Maybe he’s naive for thinking that. 

 

“Well, hopefully you won’t be too tired of the fair just yet! I hear they got the cotton candy machine up and running finally.”

 

John laughs quietly at this. How hard can it be to work a cotton candy machine? Apparently extremely difficult.  

 

“Well in that case,” Bobby muttered and John grinned at him. 

 

His dad grumbled, “Speak up, son.”

 

“I said I love cotton candy,” Bobby replied, a smile stretched tightly across his face. John knew it was fake. He wondered if his parents knew that too. They probably didn’t. It seemed like they didn’t know anything about Bobby. How could you not know your own son?

 

His dad nods as if this response is sufficient enough. Breakfast continues on and Bobby’s mom makes more attempts at casual conversation and Bobby politely responds while Ronny scoffs and John doesn’t say anything. Eventually the meal is finished and the family is free to part ways. John is relieved. 

 

They wast time in Bobby’s room and sleep some more and eventually they wander over to the fair grounds again and this time they avoid the corn hole and stay away from the bathroom as much as possible, intent on avoiding a repeat of yesterday. They find the fabled cotton candy machine and settle at a bench to eat it. It reminds him of Jo. Everything reminds him of Jo. 

 

“My sister loved cotton candy,” John blurts out, figuring he should say something instead of just blankly staring at the bulletin board in front of him. It featured a map of the temporary fair grounds that was mostly obscured by the same poster printed on various neon shades of paper. John was trying to read it and not think about his sister. He was failing. 

 

“Most people do,” Bobby replies. He is also blankly staring at the bulletin board. John wonders if he’s thinking about yesterday. To be fair, yesterday has been on his own mind most of the day. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I’ve never thought about it before, echos endlessly in his head like a cruel auditory hallucination. 

 

“Fair enough.” The cotton candy stains his hands blue and cements sugar into his skin. She would’ve loved it, he thinks numbly. 

 

John stands suddenly but Bobby doesn’t make a move to follow him. He sits on the bench still staring blankly, though his eyes have shifted from the bulletin board to the confection in his hands. John would ask what’s wrong but he feels like he doesn’t know how to ask that anymore. Too much is different and too much is the same and nothing happened and it doesn’t make any sense to him. He wonders if Bobby feels the same. He probably does. He’s, personally, still trying to process that maybe Bobby feels the same way as him. It feels too good to be true. 

 

John rips one of the neon posters from the board and his eyes scan over it quickly. He thrusts it under Bobby’s nose and he does the same. 

 

“Wanna go?” John asks. It’s an olive branch. A tension breaker. Bobby accepts it with open arms. 

 

Bobby looks up at him and grins. “Leave it to you to find the only shitty basement show in the vicinity,” he says. 

 

“To be fair, it wasn’t that hard to find.”

 

Bobby shrugs. “Maybe not. Might as well. If I eat anymore of this I’m going to puke.”

 

Bobby stands up slowly and drops his cotton candy in the trash. John holds onto his. Jo would scold him for wasting any of it. 

Chapter Text

Bobby drives. He knows the area better and it makes more sense of him to drive. John is also too busy looking for the subtle differences as Bobby’s upper-class suburbia shifts into a bordering middle-class suburbia to a lower, more slightly rundown subdivision, and the address printed on the neon paper comes into focus. It’s a house that looks like all the others around it, tired, but it’s differentiated by the Christmas lights strung outside of it, around the door and along the pathway leading up to it, and the sheer amount of parked cars. 

 

“This must be it,” Bobby points out, obviously. 

 

“No shit, Sherlock,” John replies. He smirks and Bobby most likely ignores it

 

But, he does rolls his eyes as he parks the car, which John takes as a win. He steps out and locks it, only once John has followed him. He slips the keys into his pocket and John can see him eyeing the house. He’s apprehensive. It’s understandable. John might be too, if his situation had been like Bobby’s. But it hadn’t and the tired, run-down house is a bittersweet reminder of the one he grew up in. 

 

He can see some people still streaming in, walking up the lit up walkway and having loud conversations. Music was thumping from inside the house and every time someone so much as stepped foot on the front stoop, the door swung open as if someone was just standing in front it waiting for people to show up. John stepped forward, and Bobby followed him, as he made his way up the decorated walkway and to the bright doorway. The lights where a harsh juxtaposition to the dreary house, and so was the noise coming from the inside. 

 

As expected, the door swung open once the reached the stoop. The person behind it, a short girl with dark green hair and a lip piercing looked over them. Her eyes skipped over Bobby, and she scoffed quietly at his appearance. John knew what Bobby looked like. The, maybe slightly mischievous, suburban boy next door, with his hair mostly done, only a little bit messy, and his jeans clean and clear of any tears or sign of distress. He was also wearing a Jimmy Buffet shirt under his jacket that John  had bought him off eBay as a joke, which probably didn’t help. 

 

Her eyes drifted over to John and she smirked and John knew exactly why. He looked like he belonged in the rundown house with Christmas lights, whereas Bobby looked like he belonged in the fancy suburbia that he grew up in. John’s hair was messy and the blonde streaked haphazardly through it helped with the unkempt image. His jeans were dark, frayed at bottom, and well-worn with use. His worn down hoodie advertised a popular punk band and her smirk widened when her eyes, green like her hair, meet his blue ones. She seemed satisfied with what she saw. 

 

“Come on in, kiddos,” she said, and opened the door wider. “Shows in the basement. It’s starting soon.”

 

John stepped over the threshold and Bobby quickly followed. 

 

“How soon’s soon?” John asked, but he turned and she had disappeared into the crowd of other kids with brightly colored hair. He scoffed. 

 

“Guess we’ll never know,” Bobby said. 

 

John looks around past the crowd and sees a staircase with a poster with a crudely painted arrow pointing down it. He reaches out and grabs Bobby’s hand and Bobby flinches slightly–in John’s head, his words from last night are playing on loop and it’s all he can hear over the punk song playing that he can’t identify, it’s just guitar and drums that are being drowned out by the memory of Bobby’s words–but eventually he relaxes into John’s grip. John pulls him forward and convinces himself that they’re not holding hands, John is just trying to get Bobby from point A to point B without losing him in the crowd of kids they don’t know. 

 

John is jogging down the stairs, Bobby following him. His hand is cold, but John’s is warm and they balance each other out. John tries not to look into some deeper philosophical meaning of that. Life was funny and fate was cruel and he needed to focus on not falling down the stairs. 

 

They made it to the bottom and John let go of Bobby’s hand. Bobby curled his hand slightly, and John wanted to reach it out and take it back. But, the band on the makeshift stage was tuning their guitars and the crowd around them was thickening. They got pushed together and Bobby grinned. 

 

“So this is fun to you?” Bobby asked, but he had to shout over the buzz of the crowd and the tuning guitars. 

 

“Just wait and see, man!” John replied, also shouting. As if on cue, the band kicked into some song. 

 

John didn’t know their name or the people around him or the words that the vocalist was angrily shouting into a cheap mic or the riffs that their main guitarist was shredding but John let go and let himself get pulled into the crowd, away from Bobby, and get lost. He tried to focus on the words he didn’t know to get Bobby’s out of his head. It didn’t make any sense. How long could Bobby have felt like that? After all this time feeling like his feelings were futile, it felt ridiculous. He had spent so long imagining kissing Bobby and holding Bobby’s hand in his own and everything else that it seemed ludicrous that he could’ve been imagining the same thing. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair. 

 

The vocalist shouted and the crowd shoved and John put his hands up to support the crowd surfer above him and also avoid getting kicked in the face. The song ended but the band jumped right into another one. The drummer was going so wild that John was pretty sure he was going to punch through a snare, and the bassist was hoping around on their makeshift stage, it made John think he was going to break his ankle. 

 

The room is getting hotter and John can feel himself start to sweat. The hoodie was probably a mistake, meant more for the cold outside than the sweltering basement that he should have expected. His hair falls into his eye and he grins when he bumps into the green-haired, green-eyed girl with the lip ring who opened the door. She gives him a curt nod and eventually she disappears into the crowd. It reminds him of Bobby. He needs to find Bobby. 

 

John winds his way through the thrashing crowd in search of him and grins when he finds Bobby. He reaches out and it’s like Bobby knows he’s there and reaches back. He turns around and John is met with the widest grin he’s ever seen on Bobby’s face. His eyes are sparkling and John is close enough to see the flecks of gold in his eyes that brighten the brown and his hair is damp with sweat too and falling into his face and he looks so fucking happy that it makes John’s heart swell. He wants Bobby to never stop looking this happy. 

 

John’s head keeps replaying yesterday on loop over the sound of thrashing guitars and incomprehensible lyrics. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I’ve never thought about it before. It’s the only thing he can really hear in his head. It might as well be the incomprehensible lyrics. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I’ve never thought about it before. Fuck it, he’s thought about it too. What does John have to lose? Only his best friend, but he’ll get over that, he’s lost a best friend before. 

 

He pulls Bobby closer to him and, consequences be damned, kisses him in the crowed surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers. And Bobby, to John’s dull surprise, kisses back. John could probably die right then and there and he’d be happy. 

Chapter Text

John was trying to be as casual as possible as he and Bobby sat side by side on the Drake’s back porch. It was hardly working, but he was pretty sure Bobby didn’t notice. Well, a little sure, at least. 

 

“Can you calm down?” John said with practiced nonchalance, exhaling and watching the smoke curl into the air. His brain graciously thanked him for the nicotine. 

 

Bobby kept glancing over his shoulder as if his parents were going to bust out onto the porch and confront them for something. For what, John didn’t know. He had an idea, in the back of his mind, but he was pretty sure if he actually let it form it would suffocate him. He was pretty sure Bobby was already thinking it. John wasn’t stupid. He knew Bobby’s parents. They didn’t even know he was a mutant. He couldn’t even imagine what they’d think about this. 

 

“No,” Bobby replied, and his tone implied that he was joking but John was pretty sure he wasn’t. 

 

“Nothings going to happen to you,” John mutters. He leaves the while I’m here part of his sentence unsaid. He figures Bobby probably picks up on it. 

 

Bobby sighs, heavily, and John takes another drag. The cigarette sparks unintentionally in his hands as Bobby turns around again and John figures he’d be better off putting it out, but he doesn’t, he just sits there and lets it burn between his fingers, pulling in the heat when it almost burns his hand. It warms him, comforts him, probably better than any nicotine ever could. 

 

“I know,” Bobby says, but he’s whispering now. It feels fitting though. Like this whole interaction is clandestine. John wonders if they’re all going to feel like this now. John wonders if he just never should have kissed Bobby in the first place. They probably both would have been better off keeping everything to themselves. 

 

“I’m not...” Bobby begins, but he struggles with his words and cuts himself off. John’s in no mood to rush him on so they sit in silence until Bobby can sort himself out. 

 

It feels different now, them just sitting next to each other. It feels like they both expect something to happen, something different, something that never would have happened before Bobby made his drunken confession and John had the great idea to kiss Bobby and Bobby had the even better idea to kiss him back. They probably would have been better off if John had just stayed at the mansion for thanksgiving and eaten an awkward turkey dinner with Chuck and whoever else was left behind. 

 

“Hey,” Bobby says, and John turns towards him. He can practically see the gears turning in Bobby’s, his eyes borderline clouded with his internal turmoil. John hated it. Seeing the struggle. Knowing he had an integral part in it. He wanted to take it all back. 

 

“Hey,” John replies. It makes Bobby laugh a little, and the moment feels weirdly quiet and private and more intimate than it would have felt before. 

 

“I’m not mad at you. I don’t, I don’t know, I don’t wish it hadn’t happened or anything. I just. I don’t know how to do all this.”

 

John nodded. He didn’t either. “It doesn’t have to be an all this,” John said, and he felt like he didn’t even know what he was saying. It felt wrong. He wanted it to be an all this, even if he had no clue what that even meant. “We can just be us. We can always just be us. Bobby and John. Best friends. Fire and ice, baby.”

 

Bobby laughs again, and it’s that soft chuckle that now makes John feel weirdly embarrassed and want to turn away. “Fire and ice, baby,” he repeats. 

 

Bobby turns over his shoulder again and they’re so close that this time the movement jostles John. It feels like it holds more meaning. Everything feels like it holds more meaning. 

 

“I think I’m gonna go to bed,” Bobby says, and he stands slowly, brushing dirt off this jeans. “You coming too?”

 

John shakes his head. He needed time to think. They both did, probably.