Title: Chase Down The Sun
Rating: A hard PG-13 for swearing.
Characters: John, Bobby. Note the emphatic lack of a conjunctive
backslash between their names.
Summary: This was it; this was the way of their lives, neither as
they could be nor as they should be, but precisely as they were, as
they had always been.
The bus spat him out onto the edge of the road unceremoniously. Bobby
grumbled and muttered invective under his breath directed at the bus'
driver; he had been the only passenger on the Greyhound this early in
the morning, and he had a sneaking suspicion that its driver resented
having to act as personal chaffeur for his trip down to Chincoteague.
He twisted a back made sore by several hours' worth of sprawl atop a
row of stuffing-deficient chairs, and, finding that he wasn't
paralyzed from the waist down like he'd feared, Bobby set off down
He walked down a mile of secluded forestry, through a wending path
littered with ferns and mosses and lush verdancy the likes of which
Bobby had never suspected existed outside of the confines of Ms.
Munroe's greenhouse. The end of the woodland trail led to a bluff,
and at the bottom of that bluff a windswept lick of beach, and at the
foot of the beach right near where the trail gave way to turf was
John and a car.
Right on time.
The crunching of sand announced his arrival. "You called. I came."
"I noticed. Hence you standing here." John juggled his lighter along
his knuckles, sending it to dancing from one end of his hand to the
"You're damn lucky I decided to come. This is not a good time for us,
John, shit's going down at the Mansion that you have no idea about."
"Like that's new."
"What, you're not even going to say you're glad to see me?"
John shrugged. "Course I am."
"Well. All right then." Bobby came close, down the path. His shoes
sent up a spray of sand wherever he stepped. "So," Bobby began.
"So," John agreed.
Bobby gestured at the car. "Nice. Yours?" He thumped it, lightly.
Bobby ran a hand across the curves of the thing. It was massive,
probably handled like the unwieldly boat-on-land that it resembled,
and badly in need of a thorough once-over with a derusting solvent,
but the structure of the thing seemed sturdy. He kicked the tires,
playfully, and at John's quick frown he grinned. "Go greased
"Fuck you, it's not like you've got your own car."
Bobby paused, considering the make of it and the fins sprouting from
its rear. Far off land, a few gulls flew out in white slashes against
the salmon-pink sky. "A '60 Thunderbird Coupe. Does it have the OHC
John leveled his eyes and stared at Bobby till the question was
burned out of him. "How the fuck should I know?"
Bobby sighed. "Do I want to know how you got it?"
John smirked, waved his hands in the air like a prestidigitator
preparatory to the big finish. "I don't know, Bobby-boy. You up for a
nail-biting tale of murder and intrigue and swashbuckling
skullduggery?" At Bobby's arched brow, he spread his palms wide and
flat before him. "All right, fine. I stole it from a lot out in
"You found a lot that still sells '60 Thunderbirds? In this kind of
"Dude, hook me up with that shit--"
"Yeah, what?" Bobby put on an affronted look. His hand still lounged
on the hood of the 'bird.
John said, "I left the Brotherhood," just like that, quick and snappy
without preamble, like if he didn't get it all out the first time
around then he'd never get it out at all, and he lit up a cigarette.
"You left," Bobby echoed, and he doesn't add on: _them too_.
"Yeah, I left," John said.
"Can I--what? How?" Bobby shook his head, uncomprehending. "You don't
just _leave_ a, a band of hoodlums--"
John chuckled. "Hoodlums? Been watching too much _Leave it to
Beaver_, Kid Drake?"
"--Fuck you, dammit, you know what I mean. You can't just--fuck,
John, you couldn't have just _left_. Magneto's one of the world's--"
"--Most powerful mutants, blah blah blah, I know."
"No, I was about to say--well, yeah, powerful works too, but shit
man, he's crazy as fuck, he's a fucking psycho."
"Oh, no doubt about it, the man's insane."
"And you _left_."
"You just up and _left_ the hideout of the world's most dangerous
And John's eyes clouded over briefly, unfocusing and peering through
time, and his face tightened with what Bobby hoped wasn't phantom
pain. "Don't want to talk about it." He hopped up and sat on the hood
of the car.
Bobby stared for a long moment, before he realized that he was
staring, and shook his head to send the disbelief away from his
face. "Don't sit like that, a 'bird like this deserves respect."
John snorted in reply and planted his feet on the fender. He changed
the subject. "What would you have done, anyway, if I was still in the
Brotherhood and this was all a trap? Call in the middle of the night,
it's been, what, two years now?" John scrubbed a hand through the
tangle of his hair. "Two years is a long time, Bobby."
"Two years, man. I just call you, and you don't even think to bring
back-up? No Fearless Leader, no all-powerful Phoenix, no nothing.
Just you and me, me playing the damsel in distress--fuck you,
asshole, you know what I mean--and when you get here, bam! Toad
slimes you up, Sabretooth cuts you down to size, and the X-Men are
down one bright and shiny Bobby Drake."
"I knew," Bobby said. "I just didn't know I knew."
John laughed. "Yeah, all right, you got me there."
Bobby bent down and picked up a stone from the ground. He palmed it
for a moment, before hurling it overhand as far away as he could; it
landed with a dull plop, not too far off shore. "So what does this
mean? You want to come back to Xavier's?"
John hacked violently around his cigarette, and Bobby offered him the
courtesy of pretending not to notice. Coughing, John flicked the
dwindling stick of ash out of his hand. It somersaulted, arcing end
over end in a decent description of a parabola away from John. "Nah.
Not going back to Cueball's School for the Perpetually Sedated. Not
what I had in mind."
"So what, then? Why did you call?"
"I need you. To come with me."
"Come with you where?"
Bobby, caught halfway between a crouch on the ground and the motion
of a stand, stumbled. "What?"
"Come away with me. Forget all this mutant superhero bullshit, man.
You ever sign up to be a peacekeeper in the mutant militia? You think
I wanted to become Pyro, the FBI's most wanted arsonist--don't answer
that, it was a rhetorical question."
"No, but--what the hell, John, you call me up after two years of
nothing, no hi, no contact, just the sporadic fights with the main
team--and don't think I've forgotten, you've done hurt to more people
than me. Kitty can't even talk about you without crying, and Monet
would kill you if she had a chance for what you did to Sam. Why the
fuck should I run away with you now?" Bobby fumed; he glowered.
John slammed a fist against his car. "Because I'm done, all right?
I'm tired and I'm worn-out and I feel too goddamn old, like there's
too much time in me for my years. If I turned my head real fast, I
think that memories would slosh out of my ears and spill on down my
sides, memories I never wanted to have in the first place. I know I'm
three months younger than you, but if you ask me, if you really ask
me how old I am, I won't remember. I've done things that nobody our
age should have to do. Magneto's--he's fucking ancient, Bobby, he's
just working on willpower and stubbornness, and I don't want to be
"You know, you think there are moral absolutes out there, right? You
think that if you've got a thing, then you've got a thing, and if you
believe in a thing, then even better, right? Because you can't fuck
up, not if you've got this sense of rightness guiding what you do.
It's solid, it's your moral compass, it's the pole star. But you
know, Bobby-boy, you can, you can fucking lose sight of that northern
light, and you know, sometimes you're sure that you're never going to
get your bearings straight and--fuck, man. You can fucking lose it,
trust me on this."
Bobby was sure that one of these days, the fire, the heat, the life
that came off John in waves would melt him down, till he was liquid
and gone. He would become water, soft and fluid, and eventually the
ground beneath his feet would drink him up like a dry man slaking his
John segued, fiercely seizing the reins of the conversation and
driving it back towards him. "You ever been out west, Bobby? It's an
entirely different fucking world out there. The life is--it's slow,
man, it's slow like summer." John pointed with his cigarette, and the
smoldering point of its flame connected briefly with the
incandescence of the sky. "The sun lives out there."
Bobby was silent for a while. He tried to digest what John was
saying, but found that his mind couldn't wrap around the enormity of
it. The breadth of the land and the man beside him intimidated Bobby.
John continued, a hint of desperation now tainting his voice. "It's
clean and huge and you'll never be cold again, I swear. And the food
out there is amazing, I'm telling you, they've got these burgers at
this place called In-N-Out, shit, like you've never eaten anything so
good in your entire life. And oh man, Bobby," and John's face turned
lascivious without any noticeable shift in expression, "the girls.
California girls." He made a low and rude noise.
Bobby didn't want to think about girls, just right now.
"Ahh," John said, backing down, understanding, chagrined, "so that's
why you came."
Bobby scowled. "Asshole. I would've come anyway, even if she was
still around. The fact that she's gone had nothing to do with it," he
said. Inside of him, a balloon swelled till its sides brushed up
against the interior of his chest. "She's gone," he repeated, as if
to affix the thought in his head with the repetition of it.
Perhaps on the day that John finally wore him down, Bobby would
dissolve and flow to the sea, and like a river tributary to vast
bodies of water, the ocean would incorporate him into itself. He
would become seaspray, dashing up against the bows of unknown ships.
"You miss her?" Offered off-hand, off-key, an invitation to dialogue
if Bobby so chose. John's eyes flicked across the horizon.
Bobby swallowed. "Yeah." He stuffed his hands into his jacket
pockets. Already, the sun had fully crested the bluff of trees behind
them, but the wet and sharp pre-dawn air still clung to the sides of
Bobby's face. "Yeah, I still miss her."
John reached out and laid a hand on Bobby's shoulder. "I'm sorry,
Bobby." Little motes of ash drifted down from the end of his
cigarette and settled on the black of Bobby's jacket, like snow.
It was awkward, all this stretching between them, bumping up against
their sentences and shoving into the spaces between their words. They
had never been especially good at the sounding out of thoughts, the
two of them. What would John say, if Bobby told him that Marie had
chosen the consumptive, destructive fire that resided in Logan's
chest over his own thoughtful docility? John would probably
sympathize, and Bobby knew he would commiserate with him, but what
could he do? More importantly, why would Bobby put John in that
position? Marie had chosen, sought out her own distant sun in Logan,
and nothing John might say would provide a measure of comfort.
The Atlantic smelled of salt and distant ports of call.
"You know Magneto's going to be looking for you," Bobby said. It was
a feeble counterargument; John could ask him to raid S.H.I.E.L.D.
headquarters right now, and Bobby would do nothing more contrary than
cursing under his breath while slipping on his leather uniform.
John nodded. "He doesn't have Cerebro, he doesn't have any telepaths,
and if we make a hard run west sometime really fucking soon," and
here John glanced down at his watch, and for the first time Bobby
noticed the timer, ticking a countdown, "he'll never be able to find
us. He doesn't have a network set up out there, not yet." Logical,
He continued: "We can make it hard for him to find us, Bobby, I know
how. I've learned things these past few years. I can vanish without
ever having been there in the first place." He turned his face
towards Bobby, schooled to a loaded sort of neutrality. "We can
John's stopwatch read a little under ten minutes, now. And Bobby,
Bobby thought that maybe John would have left him, if he hadn't shown
He didn't know if he was grateful for that or not.
Bobby zipped his jacket up to his throat. "We have no money."
"We'll make some."
"How? What do you mean, how? We're two young, powerful mutants--"
"John, I'm not doing anything illegal."
John gave Bobby a look. "We can discuss this later."
"I have duties, back at the Mansion."
"I know, Bobby."
"Professor Xavier was thinking about giving me a teaching position,
once I finish my extensions at NYU."
"Really? Congratulations, then."
"They don't even know I'm gone."
"I didn't expect that they would."
"I'll have to call Scott and let him know where I am."
John tossed his spent cigarette away. "Over my empty Zippo."
Bobby hopped up and took a seat next to John on the hood of the
car. "It's all right, man, I just want to tell them I'm okay. I don't
want them worrying about me. I'll just tell Scott I had an unexpected-
-an unexpected, you know. This thing just came up. Yeah. I just had
John lit another cigarette; Bobby imagined that he was practicing how
to balance their weight on his lips. "We'll discuss this later,
The sound of distant waves breaking came down all around them. "So
what do we do now?"
John took a long drag off his cigarette. Progress; this time, he
didn't even cough. "Right now? We chase down that sun," he said, like
duh, like of course, like it was the natural course of events. A
plume of smoke lifted on his breath and dissipated into the air.
Bobby turned. "And afterwards?"
John leaned back and spread himself flat against the 'bird. He
smiled, a shit-eating, fire-starting, coyote trickster grin, and
Bobby knew that he was in it deep. "Well. Figure it out when we get
This was it; this was the way of their lives, neither as they could
be nor as they should be, but precisely as they were, as they had
always been. It wouldn't hold, not forever, not for Bobby.
But he didn't need forever, not right now.
They got into the car.