Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

FIC: Changing Seasons (Iceman) 3/6

Expand Messages
  • Javier
    Chapter Three: The Coming of Winter PG-13. Drama/Suspense. Disclaimer: All X-men characters property of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. Starman characters are
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Chapter Three: The Coming of Winter

      PG-13. Drama/Suspense.
      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
      the
      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
      to
      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
      so Hank
      could hear him.
      "Oh, Bobby, hi!" said Hank, almost screaming "This is
      Bach. Air on a
      G-string."
      Bobby smiled "Air on a G-string? I didn't know classical
      music could
      be erotic."
      Hank frowned, and lowered the volume of the music.
      "Well." Continued Bobby "at least it's not "hot
      air through the G-
      sting", huh?"
      "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
      with the
      biology project this week. I'm probably gonna go to San Francisco
      to
      visit my friend Steve, if he gets permission for me to camp out at
      his place."
      "Really? And where did you get the funds for that?"
      "I don't know, really." Bobby had been receiving money in
      envelopes
      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
      project?
      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.
      "No."
      Hank examined the boy.
      "Problems? You guys fighting or something?"
      Bobby exhaled.
      "Sort of. This new guy, Remy, was talking with Rogue and I saw
      them.
      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
      from
      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
      a girl.
      "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.
      "Hello."
      "Hi."
      "Welcome to our humble abode, feel free to make yourself at home.
      But
      don't party with Steve until too late, he's got to open the
      store
      tomorrow." Jack said.
      "No, sir, we won't"
      Bobby learned that the art gallery downstairs was Jack's. Jack
      was a
      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"
      before
      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
      me
      sound so old."
      "Ok, no problem. Is Steve in?"
      "Yes, he's in the back." Jack looked at Bobby, who was
      wearing a
      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
      metabolism."
      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
      won't
      kill you!"
      As if by instinct, Jack dove towards the man, grabbing the gun and
      throwing it away. Before the assailant could react, Jack's fist
      hit
      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
      towards the
      man on the ground. "And who the hell robs an art store
      anyway?!"
      From the corner of his eyes, Bobby saw some movement. A second man
      had entered the store, and was reaching for something behind his
      back.
      "Jack, look out!" Bobby was able to say, and at the same
      time, his
      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
      amazement.
      "Wow, I've never done that before…" was all Bobby said,
      more to
      himself than to Jack. Quickly noticing Jack's glare, he turned
      towards him.
      "Umm…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
      okay?"
      "I guess, it looks like he's breathing."
      "How do we….unfreeze him?"
      "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
      mutant?"
      "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
      guys…?"
      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
      how
      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
      boxes.
      "So…Did Jack and Sadie have any problems when you told them I
      was a
      mutant?"
      "Of course not. They go with me sometimes to the man-mutant
      association meetings."
      "The what?"
      "It's an association made up of humans and mutants that
      promotes a
      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
      time
      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
      news" so
      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
      good-looking
      brunette. "I dated her for a while. She's a mutant, and her
      gifts…
      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
      with
      Rogue?"
      "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.
      "What's this?"
      "Oh, that's a place down in Chinatown, a mutant refuge. They
      provide
      food and shelter to mutants that have no place to go. It's mostly
      poor young runaways. The association gives them some money every
      year."
      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
      part of
      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
      despair
      beyond hope.

      "May I help you?" a white man in his 40's with a short
      mustache said.
      "Umm…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
      friends?"
      "No."
      "Ok, why don't we step into my office?" Just then, a
      tall, muscular
      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…so much pain and suffering. There's not much that we can
      do for
      them."
      "That's why I came in, Lou. I would like to talk to the kids
      about my
      experience. You see, I'm a member now of a team of mutants that
      helps
      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
      sure
      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?"
      "Thanks, sir!"
      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
      respond. She
      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,
      Bobby
      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
      back
      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
      head."
      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
      house. It
      was dark and cold, and Steve was trying not to shiver, while Bobby
      looked
      comfortable.
      "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
      unusual
      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
      was
      Big Joe.
      "Oh man, we're screwed." thought Bobby.
      "I'm gonna call the cops, so don't even think of trying anything
      funny." the
      big man said
      Bobby thought of using his ice powers to escape, but figured they
      were in
      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
      followed Jack
      to the car and got in. Bobby looked back as the car drove away from
      the
      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.
      He was
      remembering the times when his father Ted Knight had to go to the
      police
      station to pick him up. It had been Jack's way of demanding attention
      from
      his father. Now, he was dying to know what was going to be the boy's
      excuse.

      "What the hell were you thinking?" Jack said, finally ending the
      silence.
      "Jack, we're sorry, let us explain..." Steve replied
      "Please do."
      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."
      Jack sighed.
      "I'm sorry, Jack."
      "It's ok, Bobby. It's just that you have to be really
      sure of
      something like that before you go breaking and entering." Jack
      could
      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
      said
      apologetically
      "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
      earlier
      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…well…"
      "Oh come on! That is such bull and he knows it!" Steve
      screamed
      angrily
      "Maybe, but he has indicated that if you two come anywhere near
      his
      safe house again, he will look for legal remedies." Jack answered
      "He must be hiding something to come down so hard on us."
      Bobby
      suggested
      "I guess we can forget about your little pep talk, huh?"
      Steve said
      "You can forget about that place, period. I don't want you
      anywhere
      within a two-mile radius of that place. Do you hear?"
      "Yes, sir."
      Jack looked at the boys with their sad faces.
      "Look, I'll see what I can find out about that place. If
      something's
      not right about that place, we'll find out about it, and then
      we'll
      call the cops. How's that?"
      "Thanks, Jack."
      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,
      literally.

      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
      asking me
      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
      go."
      "No! I know what it feels like when somebody like the Professor
      or
      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
      see if
      anything unusual goes on."
      "Deal."
      ----------
      "Tell me again why we're sitting in our car at 2 in the
      morning…?
      It's been almost an hour, Bobby, and nothing. How long are we
      going
      to stay here?"
      "Steve, you've seen those movies where the cops have a
      stakeout. They
      don't stay an hour and leave, they stay the night."
      "The night?! You're planning on staying the night here
      staring at
      that place?"
      "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
      hazardous
      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
      corny
      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."
      "Steve…" Bobby gave him an annoyed look.
      "It's ok, Bobby. In fact, I guess you could say that it's
      a small
      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
      the
      1940's my father discovered cosmic energy…"
      "What?"
      "err..energy from the stars,… which he was able to capture in
      a
      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
      to
      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
      my
      son. And about your "hunch", Bobby, many times I felt the
      same thing,
      and seldom does it turn out to be wrong." Jack thought for a
      minute. "However, I have checked with several people, and nobody
      has
      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
      to
      determine who comes in and out, or how long they stay… Why
      don't we
      do this? Let's go to the police and see if they can help. If not,
      we
      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
      this
      so-called mutant house, and maybe take a look at what was in those
      bags."
      "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
      the ocean…Oh, and a girl asked for your help mentally,
      right?…Were
      you boys drinking or is this your idea of a joke?"
      "We…sir…no we were not. All we told you is true."
      "And what do you think is in those bags? Little mutant body
      parts?
      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
      a
      look." Jack interjected
      "Look, Mr. Knight, I know you were some big shot hero or
      something
      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
      feeling
      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
      somebody's
      out there killing muties and stuffing them in Glad bags, more power
      to them."
      (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
      with
      Rogue. That must be it…God, I'm so stupid.). Bobby's
      thoughts were
      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
      that's…friendlier."
      He eyed the boys. "In the meantime, just remember to stay out of
      that
      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?"
      "Yes, sir."
      --------
      Hours later, the boys stood by the cliff where Big Joe had thrown the
      bags.
      "Why did I let you convince me to come here? Jack told us to stay
      out
      of trouble."
      "No, he told us to stay away from the mutant safe house, he
      didn't
      say anything about not heading here. Besides, all's that's
      probably
      in those bags is some shady accounting papers, or somebody's
      erotic
      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?"
      Steve said,
      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
      that
      yet." Pretty soon, Bobby was only wearing his boxers.
      "Aren't you cold?"
      "Nope." Bobby answered, as his whole body iced up. "Now I
      am."
      "Hilarious…Hey…when you become ice like
      that…does…it…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
      first
      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
      bags hesitantly.
      "Well, I guess we shouldn't waste any time…this will
      probably confirm
      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
      in sweat.
      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
      piece.

      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."
      "Of what?"
      "I…I don't wanna have any nightmares…I'm scared
      of dreaming of…her
      again…"
      A deep silence followed, then she heard her father say: "I
      won't let
      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
      or
      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
      mutant
      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
      your
      name?" Inside her mind, the few remnants of her will were
      battling to
      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
      faint
      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
      again.

      "Hello, darling." A voice suddenly said from the other side
      of the
      cell door. "I got some business to take care of first." The
      voice
      said. A crackling sound, like electricity buzzing in the air, was
      heard. It was a sound that Teresa knew too well. "But when
      I'm
      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
      concentrated, and
      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
      speed.
      "I don't know, Steve. Maybe talk to the cops again…"
      "You saw how that inspector treated us…they probably
      don't care if…"
      Steve stopped himself.
      "You can say it. They probably don't care if a mutie got
      killed."
      "I'm sorry man."
      "It's not your fault, Steve, you don't have to
      apologize."
      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."
      "Who?"
      "Teresa. She got in my head again, she showed me too. It was not
      my
      imagination after all, I know it. She's in trouble, Steve."
      "How so?"
      "I think they locked her up. She was in some kind of dungeon. And
      she
      was scared…I think she believes they're going to kill her
      tonight…"
      "Oh my God…did you see where this dungeon was?"
      "No, but I doubt they would have dared to attract attention by
      taking
      her out of the house."
      Steve thought for a second. "You're right, Bobby! There's
      been rumors
      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
      prostitutes."
      "How do you know that?"
      "History buff, remember? Although sometimes I wish I
      wasn't…so many
      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
      Lou. You
      stay in the car and call for help if you see things getting
      hairy."
      "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
      him
      and his family if we dragged him back in now. And besides, we'll
      just
      get in trouble. You know he's told us twice to stay away from the
      safe house."
      Bobby could still see Steve's apprehension.
      "Trust me, Steve. We train hard to handle guys like those
      two."
      ------
      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
      long time."
      "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
      owner of
      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
      the
      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
      Sadie and
      heading out.
      -----------
      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
      to
      hear what was going on; a poor man's hi-tech communication
      system. As
      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
      mind
      powers, don't you?"
      "I know what you're up to, Lou. Let the mutants go."
      Iceman said,
      pointing his hands at the man.
      "No, you don't know what I'm up to, boy. You have no
      idea."
      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
      there was
      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
      shoulder
      with an energy blast. The pain was somewhat bearable, because of the
      adrenalin in Iceman's body. For a second, he thought. I'm
      going to
      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
      saw the
      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,
      pal."
      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.
      "Supposedly the
      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
      there's some
      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
      my life."
      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
      parked in
      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
      you? You
      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."
      "With pleasure."
      Bliss's face changed. His eyes were now dark red, and his mouth
      was
      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
      cells.
      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
      here that
      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?"
      "No"
      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,
      her face
      white with fear.
      Steve turned to see what was the problem. In front of them stood a
      big, tall man.
      "Big Joe…"
      "Not Big Joe, my name is Crusher. Wanna know why they call me
      that?"
      ---------
      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
      it
      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
      the
      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
      kicked him
      and flew higher, with Bliss following him.
      "The ignorant boy did not know what hit him. He has no idea what
      I
      am."
      "But I do. You're a demon, an incubus. You feed off the pain
      and
      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
      I ain't
      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
      of those
      circus freaks was nothing compared to the pain of dozens of mutant
      outcasts, thrown out and rejected by their own family! I've used
      up
      so many that I've lost count! And when I'm done with them, I
      just
      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
      accelerated
      the bubble down towards the ground. "You can call this one the
      Ted
      Knight slam." At the last possible second before the bubble
      reached
      the ground, the energy dissipated, leaving only Bliss's
      unprotected
      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.
      "My mutants…they're abandoning me…"
      "Bobby and Steve must be freeing them. Perhaps their fear and
      pain is
      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
      show
      your ugly face again!" Jack aimed the cosmic rod at Bliss point
      blank
      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
      released
      them from it?"
      "Where are we?" one of them said. But then Iceman remembered
      Steve.
      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
      a wall.
      "Stop it!" Teresa said, concentrating on Crusher's mind.
      "Trying to mess with my mind, mutie? Bliss installed a neural
      device
      in my head." He said, and slapped Teresa's face. "Your
      power won't
      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
      Crusher's
      huge arms. Crusher then punched Steve's stomach.. Steve fell down
      on
      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,
      turning towards
      Teresa.
      "Why…?" 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…" Steve
      said, falling
      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
      Steve's
      body. "He's breathing, but he's badly hurt…I fear if
      we don't get him
      to a hospital fast…" Teresa said
      "Steve…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
      "But
      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
      stopped
      on his tracks, unable to move. "You've killed mutants, God
      knows how
      many, and Steve…if Steve dies, I swear to God, I'll kill
      you!"
      Inside Crusher's body, the blood entering his heart was being
      frozen.
      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
      look
      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
      could
      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
      the hospital."
      "You know how I was jealous of you being a superhero and all?
      Well,
      not anymore." Steve tried to smile, but instead his face
      contorted in
      a strange gesture.
      "Please, Steve, try not to talk, save your strength." Bobby
      held
      Steve's hand. "I'm sorry, Steve, this is all my
      fault."
      "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
      it?
      Bat-man?"
      "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
      hospital entrance.
      ----
      The doctors quickly took Steve into the emergency room. Jack went to
      talk with the nurses while Teresa put her hand in Bobby's
      shoulder.
      "I'm sorry about your friend. I really hope he gets
      better."
      "Me too." Bobby said, feeling the moisture in his eyes.
      "I will never forget what you two did for me, and all the others
      in
      the house. If it wasn't for you and your friend, I would have
      been
      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
      should have
      involved Steve in this."
      "It's not your fault, Bobby. We all choose our own paths.
      Steve chose
      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
      that
      much."
      "If Steve…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
      arm
      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.
      They're
      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
      if
      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
      arms.
      "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
      flames.
      "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?"
      "Just remembering… I remember one time you told me you had a
      theory.
      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
      do
      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
      happen
      sometimes. I don't regret anything that I did. You shouldn't
      either."
      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
      been the
      best friend in the world for me. So many times you've lifted me
      up
      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
      the brother
      I never had."
      "I was so proud of you when I've learned of your involvement
      with the
      association. And what you did back at the mutant safe house…If
      only
      the world had more people like you."
      "The world will be fine, as long as there are folks like you
      looking
      out for the rest of us. I'm the one brimming with pride, knowing
      of
      all the good that my best friend will do, proud to have known
      you."
      "I'm sorry that we waited until now to say all these
      things."
      "Hey, at least we got the chance to." Steve said, suddenly
      looking
      towards the entrance. "She's calling me, Bobby. I need to go
      with
      her."
      "Who?"
      "The nice lady in the black dress. I don't know her name, but
      I know
      what she is."
      "Can't she wait?"
      "I'm afraid not. She already was nice enough to let me stop
      by.
      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
      before
      that fire burns itself out."
      Steve stood up.
      "Good luck, bro."
      "Thanks, bro." Steve started to walk out. "Goodbye,
      Steve."
      "Take care, Bobby. Later." He said, before, heading out the
      igloo.
      -----
      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
      all.
      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
      lost my
      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
      two saved
      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
      them.

      Outside of his Westchester room, Hank and Warren knocked on the door
      again.
      "He's been in there ever since the funeral. Three days
      straight."
      "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
      suggested
      "I doubt that would be the best course of action. If Bobby wants
      to
      be alone right now, I think we should honor that request."
      responded
      Hank

      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
      young
      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
      with
      in the open."
      "I've dealt with them already, Hank. I'm ready now to
      rejoin the
      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
      leave that
      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
      didn't
      start a snow fight without me, did you?"
      "Well, as a matter of fact, most of the kids are outside engaging
      in
      a snow battle."
      "Well, what are we waiting for then?" Bobby created a ball of
      snow in
      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,
      jumping and
      tossing in the air, as Bobby's arms wrapped around Hank's
      neck,
      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
      of
      snowballs shot out of his hands, leaving everyone covered in it. From
      behind, Bobby heard a voice.
      "Bobby?"
      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.


      NOTES:
      Jack Knight was Starman in DC Comic's series that ran from 1994 to
      2001
      (Starman #0 to Starman #80). This fanfic references events that
      occurred in
      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
      "Still"
      by Brian McKnight.

      The Sandman was a comic series by Neil Gaiman featuring the Lord of
      Dreams,
      and his family, The Endless. The current Dream is a pale man in a
      white
      robe. Dream's big sister is Death, a young lady dressed in black. All
      the
      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.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.