Title: Old Habits
Rating: PG, language
Pairing: none, Bobby and John friendship
Archive: Just ask first, please :o)
Disclaimer: I wish.
Feedback: Pwetty Pwease?
Author's Notes: Can't remember if I ever posted this here or not, so
I thought I'd post again in the offshot that I overlooked this
list! Not to mention hopefully if I get some great feedback I'll be
inspired to start writing again. And y'know, finish something for
once. This has some brief X2 spoilers, but nothing too major. Takes
place, I'd say, three years after the end of the sequel, and assumes
the boys were around 17 during the sequel.
It's late. The clock on the wall brags an hour of 3am, but
then, he's continually failed to notice whether the clock has been
ticking at all since he'd first shown. It certainly was a place
where time could stand still
he'd had to struggle through a layer of
thick smoke for at least three minutes before he'd found an abandoned
table in the back, and even then he feared breathing, unsure of just
what he'd be allowing into his lungs. Par ritual, he swore to
himself this was the last time he'd agree to meet in such a dump,
even as he ordered the same label he always nursed. Not that he had
to say anything at that point
usually the same waitress would offer
the same lecherous grin that told him she'd already snuck a few of
her own, before promising not to ID him in exchange for a visit to
the back room, an invitation to which he replied solely with an
amused grin of his own, though he allowed her to interpret it as
acceptance, before she would flounce off to get him a beer. He
doubted he could vary his routine much if he wanted to
coming every week, on the same day, at the same ungodly hour. The
days after were hell, to be sure, coming home in time to crash for
thirty five minutes or so, before being nearly pulled by his ankles,
half unconscious, to the danger room for a session where he applied
only the necessary effort to keep Scott off his back. Excelling had
never really been on his agenda. Well, all right, maybe it had, but
times had changed and he'd learned that it just wasn't worth the
The bar was seedy, to say the least, and he wished again as he
did so often that he could take a snapshot of himself there to send
to his folks back in Boston. My, wouldn't they be impressed to see
their little boy really living it up? Mom's hair would probably go
straight, and his father, with any luck, would likely disown him if
not for the fact that he already had three years ago.
Neon signs littered the place, though the letters usually
flickered, sometimes of their own accord, sometimes because they were
purposely tampered with to short out and leave only lewd, suggestive
phrases staring back at you all night. He wondered whether it was a
form of psychology attempted by a desperate man, desperate enough to
resort to a failure form of hypnosis to get a pretty lady home with
him, if only for one night.
Not that there were any ladies even within the general
vicinity of the place. The only women here were like the waitress he
had, lonely, drunk, and on the verge of prostituting themselves to
pay the rent. He'd nearly given in one time, out of pity, but
figured that'd only add to the girl's frustrations, and instead chose
to go home to his own empty bed. He was almost sure he ended up
regretting it anyway, right decision or not.
Stretching back in his booth, he sent a passing glance at his
own, trustworthy, watch before letting out a little snort of
amusement and stretching his neck about to check out the crowd. Five
more minutes, he told himself
only that's what he'd said over an
hour ago and yet here he was, reaching for a third beer. It's a
wonder he was never caught pulling a stunt like this
a nose like Logan around and a telepath strong enough to pick up his
mental slurs even before he'd reached the front door. Maybe they
knew, though, and simply understood. Everyone had to have something,
right? Logan turned to flaky blonds, Scott turned inward, brooding
silently, and he
well, he resorted to this.
Not much in the mood for waiting any longer, he pulled some
bills from his pocket and tossed them onto the table, halfway to his
feet when a hand fell onto his shoulder. He rolled his eyes a
little, sending a mock glare in the direction of the cocky grin he
received, but he sat, collected his rolled bills, and ordered another
"I told you I probably wouldn't come back. Definitely the last
time." He watched as his companion patted aimlessly at different coat
pockets, before snapping his fingers and pulling a cigarette out from
where it perched, behind his ear. With flame from his lighter
flickering some distance away, John was able to light his cig with a
wink, inhaling deeply, before adding to the pollution already choking
his lungs. "So," he waved, offhandedly, before glancing around to
feign distraction. "What's with the eye?"
Bobby's brow furrowed for a moment, before he allowed his
features to relax and come off more amiable, giving a one shouldered
shrug in response. "Accident. Something about third degree burns."
Burns his best friend had caused, though it didn't need to be said.
"Look, about that-"
"Shit, Johnny, just shut up, alright? That's not why we're
here. I don't give a damn about you and the Brotherhood, and
something tells me this tea party isn't so you can check up on
Xavier." Tension suddenly coursed through the young man, though he
closed his eyes, let out a deliberate breath of cool air, then rolled
his shoulders back until they cracked. It was a sensation he
relished, now, feeling loose, comfortable, not as uptight as he was
"Yeah. Felt pretty good though, you know
kicking your ass
Despite himself, Bobby let out a snort, shaking his head, tipping it
back enough to spill alcohol into his mouth. It had taken him only
three beers before he'd acquired a certain taste for them
he was able to knock back an entire bottle without coughing or
gagging midway through. He'd made Logan proud, at the least, and
even though Scott objected verbally, on occasion he was allowed to
duck in the back of the car while the two older men put aside their
qualms long enough to get drunk after particularly violent missions,
underage or not. After they'd packed a few away, they didn't
remember whether he was 20 or 21
just that he was under 50, and well
enough past puberty.
"Maybe next time, I won't hold back." He'd meant to add humor
to the line, pull it off as a joke, but it was devoid of anything but
that even three years to the day of John's decision to
switch sides, he had yet to convince himself that he was the enemy.
Polar opposites they might be, but then, so were Magneto and the
Malcom X and Martin Luther. All striving toward a goal
just taking different roads to achieve it.
What made it worse was that, especially on nights like this,
he couldn't decide who was going to get there first. He
wanted to be naïve for a moment, as he was upon first joining the
school, and assume that good would triumph, but thus far good had
failed considerably in the field of politics, of gaining mutants any
sort of rights. In fact, it seemed the only time people were to take
any notice of the minority was when they were commanding attention.
He'd always secretly admired that about Magneto. No matter what he
was saying, no matter how much you knew to reject his opinions, he
still captivated your respect. Your admiration.
"You shouldn't, you know. Hold back, I mean." The waitress
interrupted at this point, setting down two more beers before giving
a little giggle and shaking her rear end as she walked away. She
always did keep them well stocked
and not-so-surprisingly, half the
empty bottles littering the table by the time they were done each
night never managed to wander their way onto the bill. Of course,
what they saved from not having to pay for drinks, they lost anyway
in the tips they left afterward.
Two sets of eyes watched the woman- who was no more of age
than either of they were, and therefore not really a woman at all-
depart, before turning back to the conversation at hand, with John
his ever chain-smoker self, already lighting his third of the
night. "The time comes
I'll kill ya. Unless you kill me first."
Bobby knew it was the truth, just like he knew he wouldn't
ever let it come down to that. "I won't have to kill you," he says
instead of the denial he wants to lay out on the table, "because
these," he plucked the cigarette from John's lips and crushed the
butt onto the table, where countless burn marks already scorched into
the wood, "will."
Throwing his head back in a silent bought of laughter, John
shook his head, patting once again for his ever-present pack, but
coming up empty. "Nah, Legacy will."
Bobby laughed. He'd expected a punch line, and even though
he'd been sorely disappointed, it was the only reaction he could
muster to such admittance.
Now there was something he knew only too much about. Henry
McCoy, now one of his closest friends- despite an almost six year age
difference, and intelligence parallel equal to that of a father and
newborn child- had been slaving away for the past six months in lieu
of this new discovery.
"It started as a prank, you know. Let's let some poor bastard
think he's getting the prize of the century
only, let's give 'im a
fatal illness instead. Itching powder in someone's underwear just
doesn't hold a candle to that."
" Bobby envied John. He'd had enough time to
counter the fatality of the situation by looking into himself and as
always, resorting to humor. In time, he supposed that was the only
possibility that would keep him going as well, knowing his best
friend was strapped with an incurable illness, but for the moment, he
"Ah, hell." John slid the cigarette he'd been rolling about
in his fingers back behind his ear, where he was likely to forget it
was in the first place, as usual, and leaned back against the booth,
eyes looking away as they always did when faced with having to
discuss reality. Severity. He once said he was allergic to being
serious. Swore he'd keel over and die if he had to say one serious
thing in his life. That might not be true, but he equaled Bobby in
the silent desire to remain as detached from the negative as
possible. It was Bobby's habit to say that his imaginary friend
throughout childhood was named Denial, and that he still sought
regular visits with him, when the occasion arose.
I'm sorry to be so crass, I just-"
"Forget it. Don't be sorry."
"Shut up. I might be dying and all
but, if I'm being an ass,
you look me in the eye, and you call me on it, alright?"
so, when you're an ass, say you're an ass." Bobby
nodded at the sage advice, pausing only for a beat, before countering
with, "Wouldn't it be easier to just call you on it when you aren't
being an ass?"
"Touché." The two young men chuckled, a sound that reverted
Bobby temporarily back to the days when they'd shared a room at the
Xavier mansion, before he noticed St. John stretching and checking
out the time. "I should get going."
He never asked John to stay. Never felt particularly inclined
to suggest he move back in to Westchester
forget that the three
years time that had passed had never been. The truth was, he didn't
fit there. Xavier's was a philosophy that most had to take with a
grain of salt
even his precious X-Men. John had decided long ago
that it wasn't his cup of tea, and Bobby respected that. Envied
that, even. There were nights of his own spent, lately, staring at
the ceiling, wondering whether his friend doesn't have the right
idea. A man like Magneto can do that to you
especially when he's
registering all the results.
Bobby wished he could say that his reason for remaining in
Westchester had everything to do with being one hundred percent
behind everything Xavier did. That his morals were so in tune with
the man that he couldn't imagine going against the philosophies
drilled into him since he'd arrived, seven years prior. What it
really came down to was, he just wasn't strong enough to do it.
He couldn't take those initial steps that would send him away from
everything he'd previously founded his truth on, and discard all that
for a different set of rules. It made him too vulnerable, and
insecurity was already a weak point he struggled daily to suppress.
But John? John had been born differently. He had watched several
things he'd emotionally invested in crumble to the ground in front of
him. Sure, Xavier's had seemed alright at the time, but Bobby could
tell that John had been, for a while before his joining with Magneto,
tallying up the situation and realizing that Magneto's supremacy
seemed more likely to increase his likelihood of survival. Xavier
was standing still in comparison
and he knew that without a
struggle, it wouldn't be long before Xavier, and his ideals, were
permanently put to rest. It was something he just wouldn't risk.
"Hey, whatever happened between
"Rogue and I? Nothing. She thinks she broke my heart when
she left me for Logan."
"What'd I tell you?" He paused to shake his bottle, listening
for the last remaining drops to swish in the bottom, before tipping
his head back completely and emptying off his third. Definitely not
a record-breaking night for either of them, though Bobby had an
hour's time on John, in which he'd polished off four out of sheer
"I let her think so." The truth was, he hadn't been in love.
And while each of her friends had decided to invest in their own
theories as to why not, it had little to do with the inability for
close contact, or her deep, running infatuation with Logan, and more
to do with the fact that she didn't have a clue, in the end, who he
was. How could she, when even he was still making things up as he
At this point, the two mutually decided to part company, with
each pitching in as usual to ensure the waitress continued her
feigned infatuation with the both of them by leaving a generous wad
of cash underneath a bottle where she'd find it. Bobby prepared to
hold his breath as they wove through the bodies still filling the bar
even at that hour, and he mused as to the number of bruises he'd find
just under his ribs from the number of elbows he'd come into contact
with along his way to the door. He still couldn't figure out what
attracted people to the place
though he didn't have much room to
talk, as he was by then probably considered a regular himself.
"So, I'll see ya around, I guess." Bobby stuffed hands into
his pockets, not in an attempt to warm them, as that was unnecessary,
but rather due to force of habit
something he'd trained himself to
do to better mesh with the people around him, who were affected by
the snow littering the ground.
"Nah. This was it for me." Which translated, of course, to,
same time, same place.
Old habits die hard. They'd spent the better portion of six
years growing up together
It was a hard history to unravel, and
though the nearly finished products contrasted sharply, there was
still enough familiarity left to bring them both around to the same
distasteful bar, at the same peak of morning, for the sole comfort of
knowing there was someone out there they could be with where talking
was optional. Where, just for a few seconds, someone actually got
you. It was nice to be gotten, if only once and a while.
Perhaps it's that very reason that the Professor and Magneto
continue, to this day, to challenge each other to a game of chess.
They recognize in each other a small portion of the men they used to
that only the other could temporarily draw out again. Which is
why, Bobby reckoned, he and St. John would continue their insomnical
for in St. John there is more than just Pyro
Bobby, more than a man of Ice, and it always takes the other for the
one to see it.