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Fic: Old Habits (Bobby, John)

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  • JenN
    Title: Old Habits Author: JenN Rating: PG, language Pairing: none, Bobby and John friendship Archive: Just ask first, please :o) Disclaimer: I wish. Feedback:
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2004
      Title: Old Habits
      Author: JenN
      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… not after
      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
      effort anymore.

      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… especially with
      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
      two drinks.

      "You're late."

      "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
      once labeled.

      "Yeah. Felt pretty good though, you know… kicking your ass
      and everything."

      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… two before
      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
      the truth… 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
      Professor… 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,
      with John… 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."

      "Guess not…" 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
      was blindsided.

      "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.

      "Look, Drake… 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?"

      "Right… 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
      boredom. "And…?"

      "And, what?"

      "Did she?"

      "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
      went along?

      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
      be… that only the other could temporarily draw out again. Which is
      why, Bobby reckoned, he and St. John would continue their insomnical
      meetings… for in St. John there is more than just Pyro… and in
      Bobby, more than a man of Ice, and it always takes the other for the
      one to see it.

      ~The End~
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