Chapter Three: The Coming of Winter
Disclaimer: All X-men characters property of Marvel Entertainment
Group, Inc. Starman characters are property of DC Comics. Steve and
Teresa are mine.
Movie vs. comics: In the comics, Hank (Beast) is one of Bobby's
closest friends. I'm assuming here that Hank is now an X-men in
movieverse and that Bobby and him are good friends.
Movie vs. comics: In the comics, Iceman is able to cover his body in
a layer of ice. Later on, he is able to completely transform into ice.
A few months later, Bobby was walking into Hank's lab expecting
find him working on his computer. Instead, the air inside was filled
with sound, as Hank sat enjoying some classical music.
"What are you listening to?" asked Bobby, raising his voice
could hear him.
"Oh, Bobby, hi!" said Hank, almost screaming "This is
Bach. Air on a
Bobby smiled "Air on a G-string? I didn't know classical
Hank frowned, and lowered the volume of the music.
"Well." Continued Bobby "at least it's not "hot
air through the G-
"Bobby, this is music for the soul, it helps me be at peace. You
should try it sometime."
"Nah. I'll stick with mindless pop and angry rock."
Hank looked at Bobby and shook his head.
"What brings you here, Bobby?"
"Oh, I wanted to let you know that you won't have to help me
biology project this week. I'm probably gonna go to San Francisco
visit my friend Steve, if he gets permission for me to camp out at
"Really? And where did you get the funds for that?"
"I don't know, really." Bobby had been receiving money in
for a while. He suspected that it was from his mother, but there was
no return address.
"Fair enough. I like a good mystery. What about your biology
When are you going to work on that?"
"Eh, I'll patch something together when I get back."
"It's your grade
Is Rogue going with you?"
Bobby lowered his head.
Hank examined the boy.
"Problems? You guys fighting or something?"
"Sort of. This new guy, Remy, was talking with Rogue and I saw
It looked to me like he was flirting with her. Rogue told me later
they were just talking. Anyway, I guess I got jealous and
overreacted. Rogue called me immature, and it went downhill from
there." Bobby paused to look around. "I guess this time apart
each other might be good for us to examine our feelings."
"Don't worry. If it's meant to be, it'll all work out
in the end."
The trip was uneventful. When he arrived in San Francisco, Steve was
waiting for him at the airport. They headed home to where Steve was
staying. It was an old house in the Hayes Valley area. The first
floor was an art gallery, while the second and third floors were the
living quarters. They walked inside and headed upstairs. In the
living area, a man and a woman were playing with two kids, a boy and
"Welcome, Bobby! I'm Sadie, Steve's mom is my cousin."
"Nice to meet you, ma'm."
"This is my husband, Jack."
The man stood up and shook Bobby's hand.
"Welcome to our humble abode, feel free to make yourself at home.
don't party with Steve until too late, he's got to open the
tomorrow." Jack said.
"No, sir, we won't"
Bobby learned that the art gallery downstairs was Jack's. Jack
painter, and some of his works were downstairs. However, most works
were by other artists.
"This is my son Kyle, he's four. And the little one over
there is our
daughter Adele, she's two."
The four year old walked towards Bobby, and said "Hello"
running off to play again.
Sadie grabbed Adele in her arms.
"Let me show you to your room." She said.
After unpacking, the boys sat outside admiring the incredible view of
the city. Winter was coming, and the air was chilly. They went out to
drive around the city and visited a few clubs. They came back early
because Steve had to work the next day.
In the morning, Bobby woke up and decided to go jogging. He had been
jogging with Scott almost every day and his body was starting to show
it. He jogged, admiring the Victorian houses, and the views of the
Bay. A few times he had to ask for directions, but eventually made
his way back. He walked into the store.
"Good morning, Mr. Knight."
"Good morning, Bobby. And call me Jack, please. Mr. Knight makes
sound so old."
"Ok, no problem. Is Steve in?"
"Yes, he's in the back." Jack looked at Bobby, who was
short-sleeve t-shirt and short running pants. "Were you running
outside? Err...stupid question. I mean, weren't you cold running
outside like that?"
"No, I don't usually get cold."
"You didn't break a sweat either."
"Yeah." Bobby laughed uncomfortably "I have a strange
Bobby hated to lie to Mr. Knight, but he had learned to keep his
mutant status a secret. There were too many people out there that
hated mutants. He was pretty sure that Mr. Knight was not one of
them, but then again, you never know.
Just then, a man walked into the store. Jack turned his attention at
the newcomer, and as if sensing something wrong, walked towards him.
Before he could reach him, the man took out a gun from his back.
"Don't move! Gimme all the money you got in the store and I
As if by instinct, Jack dove towards the man, grabbing the gun and
throwing it away. Before the assailant could react, Jack's fist
him in the face. The man almost lost his balance, falling sideways.
Then, Jack kicked his legs, and the man fell on the ground. Jack
looked towards Bobby, who had his hands raised, and a look of
hesitation in his face. Bobby had been ready to handle the man, but
soon saw that Jack did not need any help.
"Are you okay, Jack?"
"Yeah. This is just a punk." Jack said, then turned back
man on the ground. "And who the hell robs an art store
From the corner of his eyes, Bobby saw some movement. A second man
had entered the store, and was reaching for something behind his
"Jack, look out!" Bobby was able to say, and at the same
hands fired ice towards the second assailant. Jack ducked; a chilling
scream was heard, and then silence. When Jack stood up, he was
staring at what looked like a mannequin. Instead, it was the
newcomer, frozen solid, gun in hand. Jack looked at Bobby in
"Wow, I've never done that before
" was all Bobby said,
himself than to Jack. Quickly noticing Jack's glare, he turned
I think there's something I need to tell you."
"I think I can guess. Your mutation, right? Steve said you were a
mutant, but he did not say what you could do."
"Steve told you?"
"Yeah" Jack said, moving towards the frozen man. "Is he
going to be
"I guess, it looks like he's breathing."
"How do we
"I don't know
move him close to the furnace?"
Jack chuckled. "Thanks for having my back, Bobby."
"No problem." Bobby replied, "So Steve told you I'm a
"Yep. And speaking of which
Just then, Steve came running in with a broomstick in his hands.
"What's going on?! I heard a commotion! Are you
He stopped when he saw the frozen man. "Man, I missed it."
Jack and Bobby laughed.
"No, dude, you got here for the best part. We get to figure out
to defrost this bozo."
An hour later, after the commotion had subsided and the cops had
taken the two assailants away, Bobby was helping Steve stash some
Did Jack and Sadie have any problems when you told them I
"Of course not. They go with me sometimes to the man-mutant
"It's an association made up of humans and mutants that
peaceful understanding between us."
"That's great. I didn't know there were such
associations. The groups
I've heard about are all mutant haters."
"There are some of those in this city too, unfortunately. One
they barged into one of our meetings and it got pretty ugly. We went
to the cops, but most of the cops think of mutants as "bad
they didn't do shit."
Bobby felt proud of his best friend for standing up for mutant
rights. He thought about telling him that, but felt awkward.
"When's the next meeting of the group, Steve?"
"In fact, there's one tonight."
"I would like to go."
During the meeting, Bobby met several people, humans and mutants. It
was a very friendly group, and the boys had fun.
"Hey Bobby, check her out." Steve pointed towards a
brunette. "I dated her for a while. She's a mutant, and her
well let's just say that we spent a lot of time in bed."
"Man, you gotta tell me more!"
"Of course, I gotta make you mad with envy! Hey, how are things
"Ehhh, more or less. It's ok, we'll work it out."
It was late, so they decided to head back. On the way out, they saw a
paper taped to the wall. It was a flyer.
"Oh, that's a place down in Chinatown, a mutant refuge. They
food and shelter to mutants that have no place to go. It's mostly
poor young runaways. The association gives them some money every
Bobby was silent for a second. He thought how his life would have
been different if the Professor and Scott had not taken him to
Westchester. He would probably have ended up like those kids, a
runaway with no place to go. He remembered how Xavier always talked
about helping others, and he wanted to do something.
"I want to visit this place, Steve."
"Ok, we can go tomorrow. What do you have in mind?"
"Maybe I can inspire them, tell them my story. How I'm now
the X-men. Maybe it'll give them some hope."
The next day, the friends headed to Chinatown. They found the Mutant
safe house, an old two story building, and walked in. Inside, groups
of young boys and girls sat around watching TV, playing cards, or
just sitting. The air inside was heavy. The faces were pale, with
sadness so penetrating that one had to look away before it engulfed
you. Bobby's heart sank. He looked into their eyes, and saw
"May I help you?" a white man in his 40's with a short
we're looking for the person in charge."
"That would be me. I'm Louis, but everybody calls me
Lou." Said the
man. He was smoking a cigar. "Are you looking for shelter, my
"Ok, why don't we step into my office?" Just then, a
man walked by, eyeing Bobby and Steve. "It's ok, Big
Joe." Said Lou,
turning to the boys. "That is our security guard. With so many
extremist groups that hate mutants, I found a need to have him around
for protection. Mine and the poor kids that come here."
They walked to Lou's office and talked. He informed them that the
shelter had been started a couple of years ago by him. The kids
mostly came in and stayed a few nights, then left. While there, the
staff tried to provide counseling and offer any help possible.
"Unfortunately, most of the ones that come here have gone through
so much pain and suffering. There's not much that we can
"That's why I came in, Lou. I would like to talk to the kids
experience. You see, I'm a member now of a team of mutants that
people and fights those who wage war against humans or mutants. I
think maybe with my story, I can bring them a little bit of hope."
"Hmm, very interesting. It sounds good, but honestly I'm not
what it would accomplish."
"I think it would be good." Said Steve "We can maybe do
it as an
event. The human-mutant association can sponsor it."
Lou smiled. "Ok, I'll think about it
Why don't you
give me a call
later and maybe we can try to schedule something?"
Lou excused himself and left. The boys were heading out the door when
they saw a young girl sitting by herself. She was about the same age
as Bobby and Steve.
"What's your name?" Bobby said, but the girl did not
just sat there with a blank look. Bobby looked at Steve, but then the
girl said:"Teresa ".
"Hi, Teresa, I'm Bobby."
For a second, the girl's eyes turned towards Bobby. Suddenly,
felt a cry in his head, a cry for help, weak, almost imperceptible.
But just as fast as it had come, it left. The girl's eyes turned
towards the window. Bobby shook his head.
"You ok, Bobby?" said Steve
"I don't know, I thought
I think she was talking into my
From a corner, Lou watched as the two boys left.
"I can't believe we're doing this." Steve whispered
The boys were crouching around the back wall of the mutant safe
was dark and cold, and Steve was trying not to shiver, while Bobby
"Shhh. We don't want anybody to hear us." Bobby replied
They had decided to come back late at night and check out if anything
was going on. Bobby could still remember Teresa's cry for help in his
head, and had to make sure that she was okay. Slowly, the boys made
it to one of the windows and opened it. With difficulty, they crept
inside. The whole house was dark, and they struggled not to hit
anything. They headed to where the rooms were. Suddenly, two big
hands grabbed their necks and squeezed.
"What do you think you're doing?!" They could recognize the voice. It
"Oh man, we're screwed." thought Bobby.
"I'm gonna call the cops, so don't even think of trying anything
big man said
Bobby thought of using his ice powers to escape, but figured they
enough trouble already.
Jack Knight went to the police station to pick up Bobby and Steve.
They were being held in one of the offices. The boys breathed a sigh
of relief when
they finally saw Jack. Jack looked at them with a serious face and
said: "Let's go."
Bobby and Steve did not dare to say anything after that. They
to the car and got in. Bobby looked back as the car drove away from
station. Jack looked at him in his rear view mirror.
"So this is what it feels like to be on the other side" thought Jack.
remembering the times when his father Ted Knight had to go to the
station to pick him up. It had been Jack's way of demanding attention
his father. Now, he was dying to know what was going to be the boy's
"What the hell were you thinking?" Jack said, finally ending the
"Jack, we're sorry, let us explain..." Steve replied
The boys explained all that occurred when they initially visited the
safe house. Jack listened intently. Bobby was surprised that Jack was
able to keep an open mind to the whole telepathic thing.
"Bobby, it's not that I don't believe you, but are you
100% sure that
girl was telepathically asking for help?"
"I think so." Bobby hesitated "I'm pretty sure."
"I'm sorry, Jack."
"It's ok, Bobby. It's just that you have to be really
something like that before you go breaking and entering." Jack
not be too hard on the boys, knowing some of the things he did when
he was young.
"What we did was real dumb, Jack, and we're sorry." Steve
"Well, the important thing is that the cops said that the
administrator, Lou, decided not to push charges."
"Charges? But we did not do anything!"
"The guy told the cops that you had been at the mutant house
that day acting strangely, and suggested that maybe you were looking
for things to steal. He even mentioned that you were harassing a
young girl, and that maybe you came back to
"Oh come on! That is such bull and he knows it!" Steve
"Maybe, but he has indicated that if you two come anywhere near
safe house again, he will look for legal remedies." Jack answered
"He must be hiding something to come down so hard on us."
"I guess we can forget about your little pep talk, huh?"
"You can forget about that place, period. I don't want you
within a two-mile radius of that place. Do you hear?"
Jack looked at the boys with their sad faces.
"Look, I'll see what I can find out about that place. If
not right about that place, we'll find out about it, and then
call the cops. How's that?"
Jack sighed and turned back to driving. Man, he thought, just wait
till my kids are teenagers
The next couple of days were uneventful. The boys did a lot of
sightseeing and partying. Steve danced with a lot of girls. Bobby
danced with a few, but kept thinking about Rogue. Every song seemed
to remind him of her, and the current song was no exception. He was
now convinced that he wanted to work things out with her when he got
back. But recently, another girl had crept into his dreams,
One night after coming out of a club, Bobby was driving back to the
Knight residence when he took a detour.
"Hey, where are we going?"
"Don't be mad, Steve, but I gotta go check it out."
"Check what out?"
Bobby was silent.
"Not the mutant house!" Steve said
"I had a dream again last night, Steve. It was her; she was
to help her. Her face was so sad
and it all seemed so real
"Bobby, you're obsessed with this girl, you gotta let it
"No! I know what it feels like when somebody like the Professor
Jean talks directly to your mind. That is what I felt that first day
with her, and that's how I feel when I wake up afterwards. I know
that it was not my imagination. You got to believe me, Steve."
Steve thought for a second.
"Ok, but we're NOT going in. Maybe we can stay in the car and
anything unusual goes on."
"Tell me again why we're sitting in our car at 2 in the
It's been almost an hour, Bobby, and nothing. How long are we
to stay here?"
"Steve, you've seen those movies where the cops have a
don't stay an hour and leave, they stay the night."
"The night?! You're planning on staying the night here
"Just trust me, man. I've just got a feeling; I don't
know how to
describe it. Something's gonna happen."
"Alright, I'll play along. But we'll have a lot of
explaining to do
to Jack and Sadie when we get back to the house."
Just then, a large man walked out of the mutant safe house. He was
carrying two large bags.
"That's that guy, Big Joe, right?" Bobby whispered
"What's he carrying in those bags?"
The two boys were silent and they watched Big Joe put the bags in the
trunk of a car outside. He then got in and drove away. Bobby and
Steve followed as carefully as they could. The car headed out north
to the coast, and after a while stopped at a desolate cliff
overlooking the water. The boys hid behind some trees as they saw Big
Joe take out the two bags and throw them out to the sea.
Bobby and Steve had gotten back to the house late, so it was not
until mid-morning that they woke up. They decided to tell Jack what
they had seen.
"It doesn't mean anything, the guy could have been dumping
waste for all we know
" Jack reasoned
"You're right, Jack. I just had a feeling
"What kind of feeling?"
"You know I'm a mutant. Well, that's not all. I'm
also part of a team
of mutants that battle evil." Bobby immediately realized how
that must have sounded.
"I know, Steve told me." Jack said
Bobby turned to Steve "You told him already?"
"I didn't know it was supposed to be such a secret."
" Bobby gave him an annoyed look.
"It's ok, Bobby. In fact, I guess you could say that it's
world after all. You see, I was also a superhero, until I retired
from it to be with Sadie."
"Really? I didn't know!" said Steve
"And except for anybody that has lived in Opal City, you probably
wouldn't. I was Starman, Opal City's resident superhero. In
1940's my father discovered cosmic energy
"err..energy from the stars,
which he was able to capture in
device called a cosmic rod. With it he could fly, project energy
blasts, and do other stuff. He was Starman. Anyway, I don't want
bore you to death. To make a long story short, I ended up using the
cosmic rod and being Starman for a while."
"But you're not anymore?"
"No, I gave the rod to someone else and moved here with Sadie and
son. And about your "hunch", Bobby, many times I felt the
and seldom does it turn out to be wrong." Jack thought for a
minute. "However, I have checked with several people, and nobody
anything bad to say about that safe house. A lot of the kids that go
in there are runaways that nobody knows, so there's really no way
determine who comes in and out, or how long they stay
do this? Let's go to the police and see if they can help. If not,
can consider other options."
After the boys had finished their story, the inspector eyed them
silently. Jack interrupted the uncomfortable silence.
"Officer Davis, I was hoping that the police could investigate
so-called mutant house, and maybe take a look at what was in those
"Let me get this straight. You want me to tie up limited police
resources to go investigate a mutant safe house, because some
teenager has a bad feeling, and then saw somebody dump two bags in
Oh, and a girl asked for your help mentally,
you boys drinking or is this your idea of a joke?"
no we were not. All we told you is true."
"And what do you think is in those bags? Little mutant body
Maybe this Lou guy is a mutant serial killer, is that it?"
The boys looked at the floor, feeling kind of stupid.
"Officer, I think it might be safe for everybody if somebody took
look." Jack interjected
"Look, Mr. Knight, I know you were some big shot hero or
back East, but in here the name Knight does not get cops all bending
to your will like in Opal City."
The inspector stood up and started to walk away. Jack also stood up
and stopped him. He talked softly to him so nobody could hear.
"Look, I know it's not much to go by, but I also have a bad
about this one. It reminds me of somebody I fought some time back. I
really think you should
"No, I don't need to do anything. And if you ask me, if
out there killing muties and stuffing them in Glad bags, more power
(You arrogant bigot) thought Jack. He restrained the urge to punch
him, and stepped aside. The inspector left muttering curse words
under his breath. Jack looked over at the boys still sitting by the
desk. At least Bobby did not have to hear what the inspector had
said. He walked over to them with a grim face.
(Perhaps the mental cries for help and the dreams were all in my
imagination. Maybe it's my subconscious dealing with my problems
Rogue. That must be it
God, I'm so stupid.). Bobby's
interrupted by Steve's question.
"What do we do now?"
"I'll talk to Clarence O'Dare in Opal. He's the
police chief there
and a good friend. Perhaps he knows somebody here
He eyed the boys. "In the meantime, just remember to stay out of
place. Once I can obtain some good contacts in this police
department, we can all figure this out without you two getting in
trouble again. Understood?"
Hours later, the boys stood by the cliff where Big Joe had thrown the
"Why did I let you convince me to come here? Jack told us to stay
"No, he told us to stay away from the mutant safe house, he
say anything about not heading here. Besides, all's that's
in those bags is some shady accounting papers, or somebody's
home videos." Bobby replied.
"So why are we trying to get them?"
"I don't know
to be sure, I guess." Bobby was now
thinking that his
mind was playing tricks on him. But there was a part of him that
wanted to make sure that was the case.
"Ok. So how the hell are we going to get to those bags?"
looking down towards the rough water below.
"You forget, Steve. I'm the Iceman." (I don't know
why I didn't think
of this before) thought Bobby as he started to remove his clothes.
"And you're taking off your clothes because
"When I ice up, they get ruined. I don't know how to prevent
yet." Pretty soon, Bobby was only wearing his boxers.
"Aren't you cold?"
"Nope." Bobby answered, as his whole body iced up. "Now I
when you become ice like
ice up too?"
"What do you think?"
"So, is there significant shrinkage?"
"Even if there was, I'd still be bigger than you."
"That's cold, man."
"What can I say? Cold is my thing." Bobby said, diving head
into the water.
A few minutes later, Bobby came out with the two bags. Steve had
walked down to the shore and now the two boys looked at the two big
"Well, I guess we shouldn't waste any time
how crazy we are."
Each one started opening one bag. As the contents inside were
revealed, the boys stepped away in horror, trying not to pass out or
throw up. Inside the bags were body parts covered in blood.
Teresa Arroyo crouched on the floor of the damp cell. It was dark
inside, and a putrid smell filled the air. If this was going to be
her end, she thought, they could not have picked a worse place. She
sat pondering how she ended up here. Growing up, her life had been
pretty happy. That is, until that cold winter night when everything
took a wrong turn. Everybody was asleep in the house, when Teresa
started having a strange dream. In it, she was flying through the
black void of the universe at light speed, until she saw a brilliant
light far away. The light got closer and closer, until she entered
it, and she was engulfed in white light. Then, in her dream, she felt
pain in her head. She started to scream, as her head felt like it was
going to explode. Then, she saw them there, in her dream: her father,
mother, brothers and sisters. They were there, in the white light,
and they were covering their ears, trying to protect themselves from
the noise. But Teresa could not stop screaming, even though they
looked like their heads were going to explode too. Then, she
yelled: "Enough!" and the dream was over. She woke drenched
Around the house, all the other members of her family woke up at the
same time, holding their heads to make sure it was still in one
Nothing was the same after that. After some investigating, her
parents realized that she was a mutant. They tried to treat her the
same, but deep down, they could not. Deep down they were scared that
one night they would not wake up again.
A few nights later, Teresa could not sleep. Sitting on her bed, she
heard the footsteps of her younger brother walking in the hallway.
Opening the door slightly, she held her breath and listened as her
father woke up and crouched by the young boy.
"What's wrong, tiger?"
"I'm scared, daddy."
I don't wanna have any nightmares
of dreaming of
A deep silence followed, then she heard her father say: "I
her harm you, son. I won't."
That same night, Teresa packed her things and left. She wandered
around for a while, meeting other runaways and learning about her
power. Apparently, she could talk into other people's heads. She
could also get inside other people's dreams. She could not create
change them, but, like a spectator, she could watch it all, even walk
into it, talk and act. It only seemed to work with some people,
though. She could not understand why that was. Regardless, she seldom
tried it, scared of the consequences.
A few weeks ago, tired and hungry, she had walked into Lou's
safe house. But instead of rest and food, she found pain. As soon as
she stepped inside the house, she felt weak. The feeling never went
away. Soon, the sadistic Big Joe imprisoned her in one of the cells.
Days passed, her will to escape evaporated away, and all hope left
her. Soon she was only an empty chamber, and Big Joe opened the cell
door. They knew that she was not going to try to escape.
One day, she saw two boys walk into the house. They talked to Lou,
and then stopped next to her. One of them asked her: "What's
name?" Inside her mind, the few remnants of her will were
get out, seeing for the first time a chance to escape. She
concentrated on the boy's mind, but all she could muster was a
cry for help. She thought that he did not hear her, but he did. He
did! Hope started to grow inside her again, and she tried time and
time again to contact that boy. Her blank stare slowly melted away.
But Lou did not fail to notice. He had Big Joe place her in the cell
"Hello, darling." A voice suddenly said from the other side
cell door. "I got some business to take care of first." The
said. A crackling sound, like electricity buzzing in the air, was
heard. It was a sound that Teresa knew too well. "But when
finished, I'm gonna come back to take care of you, for the last
time." The voice laughed.
The cold laughter faded away, as Teresa clenched her teeth and banged
on the floor. "No! I will not go like this!" She
her mind cried for help, hoping that wherever he was, the boy from
the other day could hear her.
"What the hell do we do now?" Steve said, driving at high
"I don't know, Steve. Maybe talk to the cops again
"You saw how that inspector treated us
don't care if
Steve stopped himself.
"You can say it. They probably don't care if a mutie got
"I'm sorry man."
"It's not your fault, Steve, you don't have to
Just then, Bobby screamed and grabbed his head.
"Bobby! What's going on?"
After a few seconds, Bobby let go of his head and looked at Steve.
"It was her."
"Teresa. She got in my head again, she showed me too. It was not
imagination after all, I know it. She's in trouble, Steve."
"I think they locked her up. She was in some kind of dungeon. And
I think she believes they're going to kill her
"Oh my God
did you see where this dungeon was?"
"No, but I doubt they would have dared to attract attention by
her out of the house."
Steve thought for a second. "You're right, Bobby! There's
in the past that some of the houses in Chinatown have huge dungeons
underneath. Supposedly they were used in the mid 19th century to
enslave young immigrant Chinese girls
they were used or sold as
"How do you know that?"
"History buff, remember? Although sometimes I wish I
atrocities in our history
Bobby almost said: "Your history" but stopped himself.
"Well, if you're right, then we need to get to the safe house
quickly!" Bobby said
"What are we gonna do when we get there?"
"Not we, me. I'll take care of that Big Joe bastard and that
stay in the car and call for help if you see things getting
"I don't like this plan, Bobby. Maybe we can call Jack."
"No, he is retired from being a superhero. It would be unfair to
and his family if we dragged him back in now. And besides, we'll
get in trouble. You know he's told us twice to stay away from the
Bobby could still see Steve's apprehension.
"Trust me, Steve. We train hard to handle guys like those
Jack and Sadie sat eating dinner with the children.
"Are you ok, honey?" Sadie asked
"No, not really. I have a bad feeling, Sadie, like I haven't
had in a
"Is it the boy's story about the mutant safe house?"
"Yes. Initially I thought it was nothing. But then, I remembered
somebody I fought early on as Starman; Bliss. What if he has come
back? I mean, we thought we destroyed him, but how can you be sure
with one as him?"
Jack's mind went back to that night at the freak circus. The
the circus freaks, Mr. Bliss, turned out to be something much darker
than an evil man. He kept the circus freaks under his control, and
relished their pain.
"Jack, do you know where Steve and Bobby are?"
"No, I tried Steve's cell phone but it's busy."
"Do you think they might have gone back to that house?"
"I don't know. I told them not to
"Jack, I know I asked you to leave the superhero life for me and
kids, but if you think the boys might be in trouble, I'll be the
first one to push you out the door."
Jack stood up, and headed to his study. He came out with a small
electronic rod in his hand.
"Your spare cosmic rod
" said Sadie
"Don't leave home without it
" Jack said, before kissing
The boys had arrived at the safe house and Iceman was sneaking inside
while Steve sat outside in the car listening to his cell phone.
Iceman's cell phone was turned on in his pocket, enabling Steve
hear what was going on; a poor man's hi-tech communication
Iceman walked inside, he saw that the house was dark. No living thing
was within sight. Slowly he crept farther in, his hands iced up and
ready for action. Suddenly, he heard a voice behind him.
"Mr. Drake, I've been expecting you."
Iceman turned around to see Lou smoking a cigar.
"The girl contacted you, didn't she? I hate the ones with
powers, don't you?"
"I know what you're up to, Lou. Let the mutants go."
pointing his hands at the man.
"No, you don't know what I'm up to, boy. You have no
Just then, Iceman heard voices all around him. In an instant, he saw
that he was surrounded by a group of kids. He could see that it was
the same mutant kids he had seen before at the house, only this time
their sad faces were replaced by an appetite for destruction.
Instantly, Iceman built an ice slide and got out of the way a
fraction of a second before one of the kids fired an energy blast at
him. He slid around the house while the mutants sped behind him, and
Lou's laughter filled the air.
Inside the car, Steve jumped and got out of the car. He decided to
call Jack. With trembling fingers he dialed the number. Sadie
answered the phone.
"Mrs. Knight! Is Jack in?"
"Steve! Are you ok? Where are you?"
"We're at the safe house, we need Jack's help!"
"He's on his way! Stay there, Steve, wait for him!"
From the street, Steve could hear screams coming from inside the
house. Bursts of light coming from inside interrupted the night air.
"Oh my God, they're killing him!" he said
"Steve! Wait for Jack! He is coming!" Sadie screamed, but
nobody on the other side. Steve opened the trunk, took out his
baseball bat, and headed towards the safe house
Jack Knight was flying above the San Francisco skyline.
It's been a while since I've done this. He thought, holding
on to the
cosmic rod. I hope that Steve and Bobby listened to me and did not go
to that place.
Inside the safe house, Iceman slid away from the mutants. One of them
was firing bone spikes at him. Another one had hit Iceman's
with an energy blast. The pain was somewhat bearable, because of the
adrenalin in Iceman's body. For a second, he thought. I'm
die but quickly pushed the thought aside. Suddenly, a mutant jumped
from behind a door and fell on Iceman. He was trying to freeze the
assailant when other hands were upon him, clawing and slashing.
"Let go of him!" Iceman could not see who was talking, but he
bat hitting the head of one of the assailants. The others were caught
by surprise, giving Iceman a chance to free himself.
"Steve! What are you doing here?"
"That's how you thank me for saving your frozen butt?"
"No, but if you were expecting a kiss, you can forget it,
There was no time to joke, as the mutants once again started to
charge towards them. Iceman immediately froze two of them to a wall,
then stopped a barrage of bone spikes that was heading towards Steve.
But more mutants kept coming.
"We gotta get out of here!"
"How? They're covering the exit!"
"There must be another way out!"
This way heard Iceman inside his head. It seemed to him like it had
come from a door at the end of the hallway, with steel bars on it.
"This way, Steve!"
The young men headed towards the door, which turned out to be
unlocked. When they opened it, they saw that it led to a set of
stairs going down.
"This must be the way to the dungeon!" Steve said.
dungeons had several exits to the outside world."
"Then let's find one, and find Teresa too."
They walked downstairs. Iceman turned and created a massive ice wall
behind them. The mutant assailants got to the door just as the ice
was forming. But then, they started to destroy the ice wall. Iceman
then started to reinforce the ice wall.
"Steve, go! I'll hold them back!"
"I'm not going anywhere without you, man!"
"Look, find Teresa, maybe she knows a way out, or maybe
mutants down here in the dungeon that are not in league with Lou.
Maybe they can help us."
"Ok, but I'll be back."
"That's the worst Terminator impersonation I've heard in
Bobby said, as Steve ran off into the depths of the dungeon.
Jack Knight flew down to the safe house and saw Steve's car
an alley. As he was heading towards the door, he saw Lou, although he
knew him by another name.
"Bliss." Jack said.
"Starman. Oh, I'm sorry, you're not the man anymore, are
gave your Starman rod to that girl. I wonder what she had to do to
get to play with your rod
"You make me sick, Bliss. Let's end this quickly."
Bliss's face changed. His eyes were now dark red, and his mouth
alive inside with fire.
Steve ran down, passing cell doors that were closed. He was shouting
Teresa's name, until he heard her calling back from one of the
He opened the cell door and Teresa ran out, hugging him.
"Gracias!" she said
"Teresa, we need your help. Is there a way out of here?"
"I don't know the way out, but there are some other mutants
can help us. Lou keeps down here the mutants that he has not been
able to control with mental powers."
"Mental powers? Is he a mutant?"
Voices inside the other cells were now calling out. At last, they
were seeing a ray of hope, a chance to escape the horrible dungeons
and the tortures.
"Let's help the others!" Teresa said, but then stopped,
white with fear.
Steve turned to see what was the problem. In front of them stood a
big, tall man.
"Not Big Joe, my name is Crusher. Wanna know why they call me
Iceman knew that his ice wall was not going to hold up much longer.
He breathed in and got ready. A huge blast tore the ice wall apart,
and a dozen angry mutants headed his way. He froze the floor under
them and they fell crashing against the walls. Quickly he encased two
in ice. The mutant with the bone spikes shot another barrage, but
Iceman created a shield to deflect them. With his other hand, he
froze the mutant that was creating the energy blasts. That still left
at least eight more mutants, all heading towards Iceman. "Bring
on!" he shouted, as ice flew out of his hands.
Jack shot a cosmic blast at Bliss. Bliss ducked , then jumped towards
Jack, flying in the cold night air.
"Where are the boys, Bliss?"
"The Drake kid? Probably dead by now. I unleashed against him all
mutants that I'm controlling mentally. The other one is probably
cowering in fear somewhere."
Bliss's claws missed Jack's chest by a few inches. Jack
and flew higher, with Bliss following him.
"The ignorant boy did not know what hit him. He has no idea what
"But I do. You're a demon, an incubus. You feed off the pain
suffering of others, draining their life away. I can feel you trying
to feed off my emotions. But it won't work this time, `cause
scared of ya. I beat you once and I'll beat you again!"
Jack said, firing a blast straight at Bliss.
"Fool! I'm even more powerful than when we fought. The pain
circus freaks was nothing compared to the pain of dozens of mutant
outcasts, thrown out and rejected by their own family! I've used
so many that I've lost count! And when I'm done with them, I
throw them out, cause they'll always be new ones coming in!"
Bliss opened his mouth and fire shot out towards Jack. Quickly Jack
covered himself in energy and deflected the fire.
"I've also learned a few tricks since last time, Bliss!"
Jack captured Bliss's body inside an energy bubble, and
the bubble down towards the ground. "You can call this one the
Knight slam." At the last possible second before the bubble
the ground, the energy dissipated, leaving only Bliss's
body. It slammed against the ground at tremendous speed, leaving a
crater with Bliss's body inside. Jack flew down and inspected the
demon. It was writhing in pain.
they're abandoning me
"Bobby and Steve must be freeing them. Perhaps their fear and
now starting to give way to hope. And that can only mean trouble, for
you anyway. This is the end of the line, Bliss. Don't you ever
your ugly face again!" Jack aimed the cosmic rod at Bliss point
and fired. Bliss screamed and cursed, but slowly his form evaporated,
leaving only a putrid smell and flames.
Immediately, the mutants that had been fighting Iceman stopped. They
shook their heads and looked at Iceman.
"Huh. They must have been under mind control. I wonder what
them from it?"
"Where are we?" one of them said. But then Iceman remembered
He might still need some help. They still had not run into Big Joe.
Immediately, he headed down to the dungeons.
Crusher grabbed Steve by his neck and raised him to his eye level.
"Are you ready to die?" Crusher said, and threw Steve against
"Stop it!" Teresa said, concentrating on Crusher's mind.
"Trying to mess with my mind, mutie? Bliss installed a neural
in my head." He said, and slapped Teresa's face. "Your
work against me."
"Don't you touch her, you big jerk!" said Steve, now
holding up his
bat, blood dripping down from his mouth.
"Ready for more?"
Steve swung at Crusher, but the bat broke off when it hit
huge arms. Crusher then punched Steve's stomach.. Steve fell down
the floor, feeling like something had just punched a hole through his
abdomen. Crusher then kicked his face, and Steve fell face up with a
loud thud. He was not moving.
"Well, that's the end of that. And now
" he said,
?" she asked
"Because I enjoy seeing others in pain. Because I have superhuman
strength. And because I can." His big hands were now inches from
Teresa's neck. Then suddenly, an electric crackle was heard, and
Crusher screamed from deep within his soul. He fell down, with
electricity jumping out of his body. Behind him, Steve was on his
knees, with an electric prodder on his hands.
"I found this on the floor.." he said with difficulty
"He used it to torture us
" Teresa said
"Well, now he's got a taste of his own medicine
face down and losing consciousness.
Just then, Iceman walked in and saw Steve on the floor.
"Steve!" he ran towards his friend. Teresa was now holding
body. "He's breathing, but he's badly hurt
I fear if
we don't get him
to a hospital fast
" Teresa said
I'm so sorry. Let's get you to a hospital."
Then, a heavy voice was heard.
"Argghh, that was intense." Crusher said, standing up slowly
you'll need more than that to put me down!"
Crusher stood up and ran towards Iceman.
"You monster!" Iceman said, hands up in front of him. Crusher
on his tracks, unable to move. "You've killed mutants, God
many, and Steve
if Steve dies, I swear to God, I'll kill
Inside Crusher's body, the blood entering his heart was being
As more blood filled the muscle and froze, Crusher's chest cavity
started to expand. He writhed in pain as his frozen heart expanded,
until a loud snap was heard when his ribs broke under the internal
pressure. Crusher fell down on his back.
"Bobby!" Jack came in flying, the light from his cosmic rod
illuminating the whole room. He saw a girl crouching on the floor by
Steve's body. Bobby was standing up, arms extended, and a blank
on his face. Crusher was on the floor. He was not moving. Jack walked
closer and saw a hole in Crusher's chest. Inside the hole, he
see a large block of ice where the heart should have been.
The cold San Francisco air buzzed by as they flew towards the
hospital. Jack had made a platform for them. On it, Bobby and Teresa
were holding Steve.
Bobby?" Steve said softly, regaining consciousness.
"Don't try to talk, Steve. Just relax. We're almost at
"You know how I was jealous of you being a superhero and all?
not anymore." Steve tried to smile, but instead his face
a strange gesture.
"Please, Steve, try not to talk, save your strength." Bobby
Steve's hand. "I'm sorry, Steve, this is all my
"No, it isn't, Bobby, don't say that." Steve looked
at Bobby, trying
hard to focus. "Hey, I got to be bat-man for a little while. Get
"I get it." said Bobby sadly
"Then why aren't you laughing?" Steve said with a smile.
"We're here!" they heard Jack say, as they began
descending to the
The doctors quickly took Steve into the emergency room. Jack went to
talk with the nurses while Teresa put her hand in Bobby's
"I'm sorry about your friend. I really hope he gets
"Me too." Bobby said, feeling the moisture in his eyes.
"I will never forget what you two did for me, and all the others
the house. If it wasn't for you and your friend, I would have
dead. Thank you, Bobby. May God bless you and your friend."
Bobby nodded, and walked towards the chairs.
Time passed by slowly. They had been sitting in the waiting room for
what seemed like an eternity. Sadie tried her best to control the
kids while trying to keep herself under control. Teresa crouched in
one corner. Jack walked to and fro, unable to stay still. Bobby sat
down in a chair, jumping every time the intensive care door opened.
Jack walked towards Bobby and sat next to him.
"He'll be ok." Jack told him.
"But what if he's not?"
Jack sat there silently.
"I'm such an idiot. This is all my fault, Jack. I never
involved Steve in this."
"It's not your fault, Bobby. We all choose our own paths.
to go into that house. He chose to confront Crusher. Those choices
speak of the power of friendship, and of his courage. Those were his
choices, and we shouldn't take that away from him, we owe him
if he doesn't make it
I don't know if I
can ever forgive
myself..." Bobby's voice cracked with pain. Jack placed his
around Bobby's shoulder.
"You got to be strong, Bobby, and hope for the best."
"I heard the doctors, Jack. The internal bleeding is severe.
trying their best, but
" Bobby could not continue talking. Jack
looked away with a pained look.
"Then let's just pray, shall we?"
The waiting room was silent, when suddenly Teresa felt something, a
presence. Confused, she looked around, but did not see anything.
Then, he recognized who it was. Her jaw dropped, but she was unable
to speak. She looked towards Bobby, who had finally surrendered to
sleep. A thought came into Teresa's mind then. She did not know
she could even do it, but figured she owed them a try.
Bobby was walking outside, but everything seemed strange. The whole
world was white, as if a giant white cloth had been placed on top of
heaven and earth. It was also very cold. Bobby was trembling, and
noticed that he had no clothes on. He walked slowly, until he saw a
structure up ahead. Getting closer, he saw that it was an igloo. He
walked in, and found a blanket, which he placed around his body. The
cold was much more bearable here, Bobby thought. He looked around to
see if he could find some logs to make a fire, but there was nothing.
Just then, a young man in a coat walked in, with wood logs in his
"Hi, Steve. I see you've found some wood."
"Yeah, maybe we can make a fire now."
The two young men worked together until the wood was flickering in
"Hmm, this is nice, huh?"
"Yeah. How long do you plan on staying here, Bobby?"
"I don't know, it's too cold outside."
"That's what you always said when we were kids." Steve
said, as he
threw another log at the fire. Bobby looked at Steve and saw that he
was lost in thought.
"What are you thinking about?"
I remember one time you told me you had a
You said that most people are unhappy and they just pretend to be
happy to fit in. Well, I have another theory. I think that in
reality, some of those people are in fact happy, but by focusing on
the things that they don't have instead of the things that they
have, they fool themselves into thinking that they are not."
"What do you mean?" Steve looked at Bobby and smiled.
"Never mind. You know, you can't stay in here forever."
"I suppose not. How about you? Will you stay here with me?"
"You know I can't Bobby, I gotta go soon."
"I'm sorry about that."
"It's not your fault, Bobby. It's just the way things
sometimes. I don't regret anything that I did. You shouldn't
Bobby thought for a second. "Can I come with you?"
"Of course not."
The two young men sat looking at the fire in the center of the floor.
"Steve, I don't know if I ever told you this, but you have
best friend in the world for me. So many times you've lifted me
when I was down. I really want to thank you for always being there,
for always being my friend."
"You've always been there for me too, Bobby. You're like
I never had."
"I was so proud of you when I've learned of your involvement
association. And what you did back at the mutant safe house
the world had more people like you."
"The world will be fine, as long as there are folks like you
out for the rest of us. I'm the one brimming with pride, knowing
all the good that my best friend will do, proud to have known
"I'm sorry that we waited until now to say all these
"Hey, at least we got the chance to." Steve said, suddenly
towards the entrance. "She's calling me, Bobby. I need to go
"The nice lady in the black dress. I don't know her name, but
what she is."
"Can't she wait?"
"I'm afraid not. She already was nice enough to let me stop
Although I couldn't have done it by myself."
"So what happens now?"
"I don't know. I gotta go, and you need to get out of here
that fire burns itself out."
Steve stood up.
"Good luck, bro."
"Thanks, bro." Steve started to walk out. "Goodbye,
"Take care, Bobby. Later." He said, before, heading out the
Bobby woke up, realizing that he had dozed off in the waiting room.
The door of the intensive unit opened, and a doctor walked towards
Jack and Sadie. No words were needed; the doctor's face said it
Right then, Bobby knew. Jack held Sadie in his arms as she cried. The
children got scared and started grabbing Sadie's legs. She picked
them up and told Jack that she was ok, looking towards the chair
where Bobby sat motionless. Jack walked over to Bobby, as Teresa came
by and placed a hand in Sadie's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Bobby." Jack said
"So am I."
Jack sat down next to him.
"I've also lost a lot of people that I cared about, Bobby. I
brother and my father. And the saddest part was that my relationship
with both of them was not really that good for the majority of my
life. When I lost them, I did not have a lot of good memories to go
back to. But you and Steve had that. True friendships are very rare,
you know. I'm sure you guys went through a lot together, so many
memories. And you will always have that."
"I feel like shit."
"Don't. You and Steve risked everything to help others. You
a great amount of lives tonight. But with helping others, there's
always some sacrifice, and Steve made the ultimate sacrifice. That is
how the life of heroes is defined, by sacrifices. Steve was a true
hero, and so are you Bobby. Always remember that."
Bobby could still hear Jack talking to him, but his mind had already
gone somewhere else, as tears slid down his face.
The next days were a haze. Bobby did not know how he went through
Outside of his Westchester room, Hank and Warren knocked on the door
"He's been in there ever since the funeral. Three days
"Bobby, open up please. Let's talk about it." Hank said
Rogue walked by with a concerned look.
"Is he still there?" asked Rogue
"Yes." Warren answered
"Maybe we should force the door, see if he's ok." Rogue
"I doubt that would be the best course of action. If Bobby wants
be alone right now, I think we should honor that request."
Inside, Bobby sat on ice; his whole room was covered in ice, like a
cavern in the Ice Age. He rocked himself back and forth. So much had
happened in such little time. Too much, he thought. So much pain and
death. Death, he thought, remembering how he felt when Crusher died.
He had not meant to, but he had underestimated his ice power, and
ended up killing him. He was confused, unsure how he should be
feeling about that, about everything. The knocking of the door got
stronger. He could hear the voices calling him, and music in the
background, so far away.
"Sam, please lower the volume of that thing!" Warren said
Bobby started covering himself up in ice to muffle out the noise. The
last notes of the song hung in the cold air for a while, bouncing
around in Bobby's head: "It's not easy to be me".
The next morning, Westchester received its first snow of the season.
Hank was heading towards Bobby's room again, when he saw the
man walking down the stairs.
"Bobby! You're out. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine now, Hank, thank you."
"Let's go somewhere we can talk."
"It's ok, Hank, that's not necessary."
" I beg to differ, Bobby. These strong emotions need to be dealt
in the open."
"I've dealt with them already, Hank. I'm ready now to
world. Please, don't worry about me, ok?"
"Bobby, I really don't think
"Hank, please. I've grieved a lot, and now I'm ready to
behind. Talking about it
well, it just makes it worse."
Hank was silent, then replied: "If you insist."
After a pregnant pause, Bobby looked out the window.
"Hey, I saw that we got some snow last night, huh? You guys
start a snow fight without me, did you?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, most of the kids are outside engaging
a snow battle."
"Well, what are we waiting for then?" Bobby created a ball of
his hand and threw it at Hank. The white snow stuck to his blue fur.
"Hmm, I believe you're going to regret that, young man."
"Ha! We'll see" Bobby said, as he hopped on Hank's
back. "Come on,
before the snow melts!"
Hank raised an eyebrow. "Very well, here we go." He said,
tossing in the air, as Bobby's arms wrapped around Hank's
holding on for dear life.
In a few seconds, they were outside. Most of the kids had gathered
there, throwing snowballs at each other.
"Surrender! The Iceman has arrived!" Bobby shouted, as a rain
snowballs shot out of his hands, leaving everyone covered in it. From
behind, Bobby heard a voice.
He turned around to see Rogue walking towards him. He half-walked,
half-ran to her and looked deep into her eyes.
"I'm sorry." He said
"I'm sorry too." She replied. The two wrapped themselves
in a warm
hug, and, for a little while anyway, the cold seemed to melt away
from Bobby's soul.
Jack Knight was Starman in DC Comic's series that ran from 1994 to
(Starman #0 to Starman #80). This fanfic references events that
Starman # 7 and 8. Some of the Starman issues are collected in TPB.
Music: The song that Bobby hears that reminds him of Rogue is
by Brian McKnight.
The Sandman was a comic series by Neil Gaiman featuring the Lord of
and his family, The Endless. The current Dream is a pale man in a
robe. Dream's big sister is Death, a young lady dressed in black. All
Sandman issues are collected in TPB.
Music: For Bobby and Steve's conversation in the igloo, I was
thinking of Shubert's "Ave Maria".
Music: The lyric "It's not easy to be me" is from the
song "(Superman) It's not
easy" by Five for Fighting.