Author's Notes: Works as a standalone, but is also compatible as a
sequel to "A Kiss Goodbye".
Summary: <i>You wonder about destiny, and where it all went wrong.</i>
Click, fwoosh. Click, fwoosh. Click, fwoosh.
It doesn't make you feel any better. Maybe you're doing it wrong.
Peter kisses your cheek as he leaves, telling you to call him if you
need anything. Kitty settles for a hug and a heartfelt "I'm sorry".
Others pass you by, but you don't see them, and you can't bring
yourself to respond. You just stand there, numb and cold as you work
the lighter with nerveless fingers. You wonder why you're not crying;
you know that you should, and you want to. But you don't.
The service is over too quickly, it seems; the small group starts to
disperse. Ms. Munroe leaves a rose on the coffin as it's lowered into
the ground; you like to think that she's one of the last who cared
about him, even though she'd only known him as a student. That's
still more than Mr. Summers with his fucking heartless eulogy, going
on and on about how <i>unnecessary</i> and <i>unfortunate</i> those
deaths were, and how it could have been averted, and not a single
goddamn word about the one they're burying.
But then, he's been here before. Dr. Grey's grave is right down the
row, and Professor Xavier's is a little further back. Maybe you can
only say goodbye to your loved ones so many times until you're too
empty inside to feel anything at all.
The sun disappears beyond the horizon. Darkness falls, and then it's
just you and the headstone.
<i>St. John Allerdyce
That's it. Name, date of birth, date of death. No "Beloved Son"; he'd
run away from an abusive father and his mother had died years before.
No "Forever In Our Hearts" because even Ms. Munroe thought of him as
Pyro the Traitor; the only one who still remembers John is you. And
she touched him once, and when Rogue touches someone
they never really go away. So she could forgive him for what he did,
because she knew why he left.
But Rogue's gone too. Not that it came as any kind of surprise, you
always knew she'd go with Logan in the end. Thirteen Brotherhood
mutants, torn apart by adamantium claws
the Professor might've been
more forgiving, but he was gone, and Cyclops took over, and he kicked
Wolverine off the team and out of the mansion.
She was there, waiting for him at the front door with her bags
packed. She never even said goodbye. Sometimes you wonder where she
is, if she's happy with him. You hope so.
So you were pretty much the only one who bothered to look for John
when the Brotherhood was defeated. You found him bloody and broken,
and he died with his lips weakly pressed to yours. A kiss goodbye, a
remembrance of better times when things weren't so fucking
The funny thing is, you tried so hard to keep it a secret, and now
everyone who knew the truth about you and John is dead. The Professor
had summoned you both after the First Time; apparently you'd
accidentally broadcast your climax to every telepath in the mansion.
He'd been firm but not unfriendly, warning you of the dangers in
"getting involved with potential teammates" and urging you to be
responsible. Dr. Grey had at least seemed happy for you, but she
probably enjoyed watching you squirm through her "safe sex" lecture.
You think Mystique might have figured it out
and if she knew,
Magneto knew. But the fact that they kept Pyro with them means they
never questioned his loyalty, and he never gave them a reason to.
And then there's Rogue. The biggest "maybe" in your whole damn life.
Because she kissed you, and she grabbed John's ankle, so she had both
halves of the puzzle. But you'll never know, because you never asked.
There's no proof. No witness. No one can tell you with absolute
certainty that he loved you as much as you loved him. No one would
understand why you're still here.
Finally you move, kneeling at the edge of the fresh grave and tracing
the letters on the stone with a shaking hand. "St. John". He would've
hated that. He would've rolled his eyes and whispered "I'm no saint"
in your ear. And then he'd laugh
Jesus, what you'd give to hear his
voice again. It's too quiet here; too quiet everywhere, really. Most
of the kids you grew up with Theresa and Jamie and Jubilee, Artie
and Dominic and Jones have graduated and left the Institute, taking
Xavier's teachings into the world. But you couldn't leave. All this
time, you held out hope that maybe he'd come back. His half of the
room is exactly the way he left it except for that fucking lighter,
of course, the same lighter you're still clutching in your other
hand. Now you're not quite sure what to do with all his things: the
posters and the CDs and the clothes, the brown leather jacket with
the scorch mark on the left elbow, the half-empty bottle of Jack
Daniels he'd stolen from Logan's room that one time
No. You can't think about that now. You're here for a reason. You
have a promise to keep, and it's time to get to it.
You stand upright and concentrate, pulling moisture from the air and
freezing it. Once, not too long ago, that would've been the limit of
your cryokinetic abilities. But now you mold the ice as it
solidifies, forming it into a specific shape and size.
You start digging. As the frozen tip plunges into the earth again and
again, you wonder about destiny, and where it all went wrong. If
Ronny hadn't freaked out, if they hadn't run into Magneto
it was sooner, when Rogue first came to the school and you found her
so attractive, so intriguing. You should've broken it off with him
then, instead of using him to pass the time. Or maybe you should've
stayed with him, filing Marie under R for "Road Not Taken".
That's the thought that tortures you when you try to sleep at night;
the certainty that if you'd made a choice, John would still be alive.
But you were an arrogant little fuck and you thought you could have
it both ways, mooning over the girl you want and can't have while
fucking the boy you can have but don't want. Such a convenient
arrangement, and John never said a word; he held it all in until it
was too much, and then he left.
People always leave you.
But you can still do the right thing. You can still make amends.
The sound of the shovel striking the ground forms a staccato beat,
one that seems oddly familiar, and <i>it hits you like a hammer's
blow; the last time you saw John. After Alkali, before the fall of
the Brotherhood; that in-between time when Xavier was alive and Logan
was still living with them.
Almost everyone in the club was out on the dance floor, swaying and
jerking around to a fast-paced techno beat. A handful of older people
were at the bar, and so were you. Sitting on a stool, glaring into a
martini, realizing that Marie wasn't in love with you anymore but she
cared too much to admit it. A few seats down, the bartender was
fixing up some special mixture, culminating in lowering a lit match
onto the rim of the shot glass.
A fireball twice the size of a human head leapt out of the glass,
shooting straight up into the ceiling and vanishing into smoke just
Your heart skipped a beat, and you whirled around, eyes darting from
face to face. It was hard to make out any features because of the
damn strobe lights, and you were just about to give up when you saw
Black hiking boots. Tight black leather pants. A button-down shirt
with a flame print, pulled apart so his chest was exposed. Bleached
blond hair, such a striking contrast that for a moment you were
thrown, and thought you were only seeing what you wanted to see. But
you could never mistake that face, that infectious grin. It was John
Allerdyce, and he was having the time of his life.
John was sandwiched between two guys; the one in front of him was
rail-thin, with full red lips and dark makeup around his eyes, and he
had his fingers hooked in the waistband of John's pants. The other
one was a walking mountain, bald and rippling with muscles, and John
was leaning against him. They gyrated together, and Pyro thrashed
against first one and then the other; but his eyes kept shifting up
and down, from the ceiling to the floor. He didn't look at either of
You were moving before you realized it, even though you knew nothing
had changed, you still didn't have the words. It was hot and other
dancers stuck to you like glue, but you worked around them until he
was right there, at arm's length. Your hand shook as you reached out
to touch his shoulder. Totally on automatic, your mind a whirl of
confused thoughts. What could you say to him?
Turns out it didn't matter. As soon as your fingers grazed his skin,
he grabbed your hand and twisted around with impossible speed, and
suddenly he was spooned against you, holding your arm around his
"Hey, stranger." he breathed, rubbing against you at a frantic,
almost desperate pace. It felt so good to hold him again, even though
he hadn't turned to look at your face, didn't know it was you.
"Cold hands." John remarked as he pulled one of your hands up over
his chest. "I like."
You'd never seen him like this, wild and uninhibited. You wondered
what he was doing here, why he wasn't with the rest of the
Brotherhood, and you tried to say something. Anything. His name. Your
name. But the breath stuck in your throat, and you could only move
with him, touch that feverish skin and remember a time when he was
He was gone a moment later, veering off into the shadows to dance
with another guy, and you just stood there, hard and trembling and
more alone than you'd been in a long long time
He never knew it was you. But that's how you remember him: beautiful,
radiant, slick and sexy and alive. Not the pale, trembling mess that
fell limp in your arms and never moved again, not the awkward and
sullen teen who'd damn near set your house on fire.
Your shovel hits something solid, the coffin lid. You clear the dirt
away from the top of the casket and climb back out of the hole; mud
clings to your clothes, face and hair, but you ignore it.
No one listened to you when they talked about the funeral
arrangements. No one knew John the way you did.
"If anything ever happens to me
if we get into a fight and I don't
promise me you'll burn whatever's left."
"Jesus, John, do you have to be so morbid?"
Those dark eyes had burned with utter seriousness. "I mean it, Bobby.
Don't let them put me in the ground. Promise."
"Okay, I promise
The kerosene is right where you left it. At least they let you pick
the coffin; you made sure the wood was combustible.
Click, fwoosh. One last time. You still don't feel better.
You drop the lighter into the open grave and watch as a column of
fire is ignited, sending plumes of smoke into the sky. Your eyes are
fixed on the bright intensity of the flames, so pure and beautiful.
You'll let it burn, and then you'll put the dirt back in and no one
will ever know what you did for John, the last thing you can ever do
People always leave you; but you always wait for them to come back.
You never lose hope that someday your parents will come around, and
your brother won't hate you because of the way you were born. Maybe
Marie will turn up again, with or without Logan, and maybe she'll let
you be her friend. Anything's possible.
Almost anything. Because even though you live in a world where people
can walk through walls and fly and read minds, dead is still dead.
And John isn't coming back.
Finally, mercifully, the tears come.