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"So, does Bobby go glacier all the time nowadays or is it just when his parents are being complete assholes?" Jubilee demanded as she flopped down next to one of the washers.

St. John didn't look up from the comic he was reading. Shit. She was in a mood; hopefully her powers wouldn't flare and blow all the outlets again. The last time, Scott had made him help repair the sockets, which hadn't been all that bad. What had been surprising and awkward was Scott's casual speech about sex in relation to mutant powers because, like everyone else, he obviously believed that St. John and Lee-Lee were dating.

What could he have said? "Lee and me? Strictly cover. It's your kid brother I wanna fuck. Any suggestions for lube that can withstand sub-zero temps?" Yeah. Right. Still, as embarrassing and girl-centric as the talk had been, Scott had been refreshingly blunt. We can't stop you from having sex. I just want you to be smart about it. And you're smart, St. John. We've always known that.

The air crackled around him, a reminder that the girl he wasn't really dating was still sitting next to him in the laundry room. It was Sunday evening, the usual time for him to wash his clothes. After all, he had to have something to do besides sit in the bedroom and wonder what he could burn without setting off the smoke alarms while Bobby endured his weekly torture of a five-minute phone call from his parents. After the call, Bobby always disappeared for at least an hour -- usually two -- before returning to their bedroom.

Tonight, St. John had even grabbed Bobby's laundry because most of it had ended up mixed in with his; Bobby's latest quirk was to occasionally wear one of St. John's t-shirts, although it was always hidden beneath Abercrombie plaid. St. John's imagination had a field day that with that particular kink.

But the concern in Lee-Lee's voice made him edgy as he fought to act casual. She was his best friend, no doubt, but there were still some things he wasn't willing to share aloud. Bobby working through family shit was one of them.

Strange, that pang of guilt he felt when he remembered how, during those first few weeks, he had smirked when Bobby was called to the phone every Sunday. He had thought that the short duration of the calls had been Bobby's way of 'fitting in' with the rest of the kids.

St. John wasn't sure quite when he had first realized that the reluctance went beyond not wanting to be seen as 'special'. His birthday? His breakdown? That first time drinking vodka with Piotr? But once St. John had clued-in, he had realized that the mental crap that Bobby's parents piled on him went beyond the run-of-the-mill parent vs. teenager.

He wasn't quite sure how to handle the situation; he usually let Bobby talk. Or brood. Or unintentionally turn their bedroom into polar bear country. Regardless of which of those options Bobby chose, they inevitably ended up in Bobby's bed making out, although Bobby made sure all hands stayed strictly above the waistline.

Lee-Lee knew some of what was going on, although not from him. She was smart and observant; the Operator of the Mansion Grapevine didn't miss much and was positively brilliant at securing information from unallied sources. She and Alison Blair were still bitter enemies -- as bitter as The Powers That Be would tolerate -- yet Lee-Lee was still somehow able to tap into Alison's cronies for vital info. St. John wondered how much she had gathered on Bobby after the Suicide Incident.

He tried to sound nonchalant. "Why? What happened?" Lee-Lee tracking him down with an update on Bobby was an unusual occurrence. Usually, it was the other way around, him reporting on Bobby for her to disseminate however she saw fit.

"Fifteen minute phone call," she idly replied as she fiddled with her earring. Lee-Lee was the impetuous one, always ready to take one of the cars and deliver some serious pain to whoever had hurt someone she considered a friend. There weren't many at the Mansion who fit that criterion, but Bobby was one of them.

St. John tensed; even after the first week post-Suicide Incident, the Drake family phone conversation had only lasted the usual five minutes. Four-page letters stuffed into sappily religious Hallmark cards were Mrs. Drake's form of in-depth communication to with her son afterwards; St. John suspected those were the result of a rather strong suggestion by the Professor.

Still, why had it taken the Drakes four weeks to build up to a fifteen minute call? Maybe they thought the Professor wouldn't be on watch. Shitheads. But those additional minutes meant three times the length. Three times the width. Three times the breadth. Three times the hell. It was almost June, and St. John still kept his winter coat stuffed under his bed. He had a feeling he would need it tonight.

"Eavesdropping?" he baited her casually. "A little pedestrian for you, chica."

"Bite me," she snapped, tugging at the sleeve of her yellow jacket. "I passed by the door and Bobby was going on about how the Professor and Worthington said it was okay to send a plant. He was loud about it, babe. Really fucking loud."

Nausea washed over St. John as he realized just what the conversation had been about. Bobby's parents hadn't allowed him to attend the visitation or services for Brandon Kendall. At the time, Bobby hadn't argued, although St. John was sure that a speech by the professor about psychological health would have changed their minds. Instead, Bobby had sent a card and an arrangement to the funeral home; St. John supposed it assuaged some of the guilt Bobby felt.

"So I kept watch for him. Privacy and all that. It got real quiet for a bit. Then, the phone started ringing," she continued, and damn was she pissed: she hadn't stopped messing with her earring. If Lee-Lee wasn't sparking, she was twiddling with her jewelry, especially the silver hoop earrings that Kitty had given her for her birthday. "I waited until the fifth ring -- out of respect, you know -- before I went in."

He turned the page, although he had actually stopped reading the moment she had walked in. He wasn't sure why he was persisting in this charade; she didn't deserve it and could see right through the attempt. By all rights, she should have zapped the comic or at least yanked it from his grip. Perhaps she understood: he couldn't betray Bobby. Perhaps it was out of respect for Guthrie, because it was Guthrie's comics he was reading and the books were one of the few luxuries their resident Kentuckian allowed himself.

"Bobby was all glaciered up, and not the snowflake crap he sometimes gets in practice."

During group practices over the past four weeks, Bobby had occasionally frosted up, usually just after taking a hard hit from Piotr or Guthrie. But that had looked more like a light dusting of snow, not the smooth frozen surface covering his skin -- or was it his skin that turned into ice? -- that St. John had seen that one time in the rec room.

Lee-Lee picked at the sleeve of her yellow jacket as she continued, "It was the real deal, babe. Full on, solid ice."

Shit. She knew that would get a reaction out of him: it wasn't necessarily a loss of control on Bobby's part, but a manifestation of his power that he didn't seem to like showing off. It was one of those things they just didn't discuss, right up there with parents, siblings, St. John's nightmares, and of course the two of them making out in Bobby's bed.

St. John closed the comic book, and moved to get up. Lee-Lee placed her hand on his forearm and pressed down. He looked over at her expression: a mix of curiosity and concern. "He said that he wanted to be alone. That he didn't want to talk about it. He was real specific about it." She paused. "He shifted back to normal before storming outta there."

Fuck. He wasn't sure if he had said it aloud since her expression didn't change. St. John began the mental list of all the places where Bobby would go, but knew that the west gable rooftop was the prime choice. He shuddered. That meant a date with ice coated shingles, and he had no idea how he was going to work up the nerve to scrabble out of the window and over to Bobby without puking or pissing himself first.

"He said that it included you." She paused. Slowly yet with an odd edge to her tone, she said, "He called you Johnny."

His grip suddenly tightened, crinkling the comic. Bobby's choice of nickname would probably have been lost on anyone else. To Lee-Lee, however, it was the one sign of affection that St. John had refused her. In those early days together, when they were establishing their respective boundaries, he had warned her off viciously. Don't fucking call me Johnny, he recalled snarling at her, complete with a ball of flame. I fucking mean it, Jubilee.

Bobby just didn't throw out names either; the Mascot was always hyperaware of their significance. St. John still wasn't sure why Bobby had chosen to use the diminutive of his name while ranting on the roof that night Brandon had died or why the fuck he'd allowed for him to use it. The only time before that that Bobby had called him Johnny, St. John had retaliated with a sharp punch, but that had been in the few weeks after the Kitchen Incident. St. John had still been new, still had that unshakeable fear of being thrown out, and Johnny had been the name he had been called when he was a defenseless little boy by the very man he had needed defending from.

Now, St. John supposed, the name conveyed a certain intimacy. From Lee-Lee's tone, he knew the nickname had surprised her. Maybe it was wishful thinking on St. John's part, hoping for a secret meaning to the use of 'Johnny' such as Bobby was finally ready for below-the-waist exploration. St. John certainly hoped so, because much as kissing and cuddling had been nice, he was rapidly developing a shower fetish almost as notorious as Guthrie's.

Lee-Lee's grip tightened on his arm, pulling him back to the present. "You didn't answer my question," she said to him. The arcs were traveling across his arm to his torso. Again, "Does he go glacier often?"

St. John met her gaze. Evenly, "Outside of practice and that one time in the rec room? No. Not that I've seen."

And, hell, he and Bobby were together all the time nowadays.

"Shit," she hissed and then let him go. Her knuckles cracked as a brief flash illuminated the room. She teased Bobby relentlessly. She poached his stupid sunglasses all the time. She fought him almost constantly for St. John's attention. Whatever her real motivations were, she wouldn't tell St. John, and he never pushed. However he did know one fact: she protected Bobby ferociously when she was able to. "Don't fucking tell me it's only when those shitheads call."

"Don't know," he replied, because it was the truth. "He doesn't talk about it."

Another flash. "I hate them."

"Join the club, chica," was all he could say. Then the buzzer to the dryer went off.

A distraction, thank God, and time for St. John to sort through the meager information Jubilee had provided. He remembered Bobby's quiet declaration, how he had not only talked to the Professor, but had also spoken to Worthington long-distance to make sure that sending a card and a plant was acceptable. It hadn't clicked in until now the reason why Bobby had taken those extra steps.

He knew he'd need authoritative justification.


"Fold," Lee-Lee suddenly ordered as she popped open the dryer door and pawed through the contents. Of course, she had to be fucking nosey about the dryer. Black t-shirt. Black t-shirt. Grey t-shirt. White Fruit of the Loom undershirt with the initials "RD" in laundry marker on the tag. Bobby's mom attacked all her son's clothing labels with laundry marker much to Bobby's mortification.

Lee-Lee pulled each item out and tossed it over to St. John, as if barely noticing the 'one of these things is not like the other' aspect of it all. That wasn't true, because shit, she took in everything.

"I don't fucking fold," St. John retorted as he realized which dryer she had chosen to go through.

Aw hell.

"Fold," she repeated, adding on a sizzle-crack. That was when she pulled out a pair of tighty-whities. Tighty-whities. Tighty-whities. Navy blue Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs with the initials "RD" in laundry marker on the tag followed by a charcoal gray pair and a black pair, both also marked.

Undershirts were one thing, St. John supposed. Easily mixed up. That part wasn't bad. That part was relatively simply to explain. Underwear? Well, hell. A guy just didn't wash another guy's skivvies unless there was something seriously going on. Which, ironically, infuriatingly, there wasn't yet.

She held them up by the waistband with her index finger. A bright flash illuminated the room, forcing him to take in her expression. St. John was expecting a smirk. A quirk of her lips and that sassy set of her shoulders, both of which were preludes to insults. Maybe a snide comment about the fact that he wore dorky underwear while Bobby was far more fashionable.

He wasn't expecting outright anger.

And the weirdest thing was that St. John's first, panicky thought was not self-preservation. It was: She better not fucking explode Bobby's shorts because there's no fucking way I wanna explain that one to him.

Instead, she swore at him in Cantonese -- something about a dog, a chicken feather and his ass -- before launching into a tirade that he had no hopes of following since she'd only ever taught him to swear in the language. She then threw Bobby's boxers at him before pelting him with everything else in the dryer.

When Lee-Lee's tone hit strident, he tried not to laugh -- really he knew better -- but a Chinese girl screaming in Cantonese and throwing laundry at him was damn funny. He couldn't help it.

Which, of course, made it worse. Two sparks -- one to his right hip and another just below his left nipple that hurt like a motherfucker -- made him stop laughing and snarl, "Goddammit, you bitch!"

Tears sprung to her eyes as she held up a fistful of clothing and screeched, "He called you Johnny!"

Betrayal rang in her voice. He knew instantly he was a dead man. "Lee--"

"He called you Johnny!" she shrilled. Lee-Lee then pointed to a pair of his underwear on the floor. An arc sailed from her finger and exploded as it hit, scorching the material black.

"What the fuck?" he yelled as he ran over to stomp out the embers.

"Johnny!" she repeated and then with precision that would have made Storm proud, she proceeded to spark a pair of his tighty-whities each time she screamed, "Johnny!"

"Goddammit, Lee," he shouted as he trampled the fifth pair. If they had been outside, he would have palmed a ball of fire and shot flames six inches from her toes. Here, surrounded by combustibles, he couldn't.

He faced Lee-Lee and squared his shoulders. St. John could see the charge sizzling on her fingertips as she finally stopped chanting his name and focused on him. It wasn't the first time they had argued, but it was the first time they were in danger of going too far.

He grabbed the clothing from her hand and flung them backwards. He stepped into her personal space but she didn't yield. He spat, "Is that was this is all about? A fucking nickname?"

Awful moments of silence followed, because unlike Bobby, St. John didn't feel the absolute need to fill in the silence with words.

They stared at each other until she closed her eyes, as if conceding that part of the battle. When she met his gaze again, she accused with less anger, "You didn't tell me."

Usually, he didn't respond to such generic charges. But this was Lee-Lee and he had to start somewhere. "What? Him calling me Johnny?"

She gasped. Lee-Lee bit her lips as the moisture again pooled in her eyes, and God he had never seen her change moods like that, to look that vulnerable before. "You don't tell me anything." The tears ran down her face. "Not anymore. You... you don't tell me anything at all."

He did not lower his gaze from hers. Softly, knowing the blow was going to hurt no matter how much he tried to pull it, "I can't."

She sniffled but still crossed her arms defiantly. Despite the stance, her voice wavered. "You're shutting me out."

"You know more about me than anyone else does," he answered. "Always have. Always will."

She whispered, "But things will change."

If it had been Bobby, he would have bullied on, hammering out his line of reasoning because that was what Bobby sometimes needed. However with Jubilee, he knew that simplicity worked best. "Not us. Never us."

"You'll leave me out," she choked.

"I won't. Whatever happens, we'll make it work." He brushed her tears away as he repeated, "We'll make it work."

Bobby would have pledged his honor. He would have promised with that earnestness that made people believe without hesitation. St. John did neither because he knew it would ruin his credibility with her. He wasn't the oath-swearing type.

There was nothing reassuring he could say short of, 'We still have our deal,' because that was one thing he fully believed in. Strength in numbers. Ditching the Mansion if things got too weird, even if it meant dragging Bobby along in the process. Or losing him, which was the more likely outcome. But St. John wouldn't say that, wouldn't offer that up so she could throw it back into his face in case something went terribly wrong.

Lee-Lee's nod was slow, her arms tightly crossed as if hugging herself, and her fingers gripped the sleeves of her yellow jacket. She was still scared, still uncertain, and her fear frightened him. Yet before he could say anything else, she spun on her heel and bolted from the laundry room.

He couldn't chase after her, not with his and Bobby's laundry all over the place. The boys at the Mansion used gossip as a way to get in good with the girls, and Bobby-related rumors were a highly-valued commodity to those who set their sights on Alison Blair.

Quickly, St. John began folding and putting the clothing into the duffle bag when he felt a faint tickle at the base of his skull. His grip tightened. He wondered why it had taken so long for the mental summons to the headmaster's office for the lecture on 'no powers in the Mansion' because he knew that Lee-Lee's display had to have attracted some attention.

At least Xavier gave him a forewarning of the mental voice over.

St. John, the Professor's voice sounded in his head, a little louder than usual but also a little clipped and distracted. An emergency curfew has been declared. All the upperclassmen have been notified, except for Robert. He is currently on the roof. Please see that he gets the message. It was an order, more or less, and there was that unspoken expectation that St. John would follow it without hesitation.

Emergency curfews, after all, meant that three of the four Powers That Be were off to play superheroes while Xavier played captain in Cerebro. And ever since the mission where three kids got the bright idea to stow away on the jet -- nearly getting themselves and Cyclops killed by some freak named Forearm -- the Mansion went into strict lockdown, especially at night.

Regardless, the Professor's order meant that stupid west gable. Great. Just what St. John needed. However, he said, "Got it," aloud and then wondered how the hell he'd become Xavier's messenger boy.


St. John supposed it was a true measure of understanding between himself and Piotr that, after he had thrown the duffle into his room, he turned toward his huge, stoic classmate, and said in broken Russian, "Me. Roof. Him. Now."

He knew his grammar sucked, but he had to let Piotr know what was going on, and he needed to get up there before the younger boys starting getting nervous because the Mascot hadn't shown up. Bobby was their barometer of worry when it came to emergency curfews -- much like Kitty was for the girls. St. John still didn't understand why Bobby's ties with The Powers That Be were much more valued than a hulking Russian who could kick serious ass if he chose to.

Piotr only nodded. The conversation would have gone a little further, been a little more intrusive because Piotr was a nosey bastard on anything that involved Bobby, except that one of the newer kids shuffled up. He had arrived three weeks ago (Scenario A: Good Parents Sending Son to Mutie School) and hadn't done anything to attract attention. Bobby would have known the kid's full name, where he was from, if he preferred X-Box to Playstation, and his favorite sports teams. All St. John could remember was that the kid could levitate.

"Emergency curfew?" the kid asked, trying for bravado but only getting vibrato. The newbies had a tendency to freak when the Mansion when into lock-down.

Piotr smiled reassuringly. "It only means that the faculty will be out for the evening, like Frosty talked about when you first arrived. Ah, you have that math test tomorrow with Professor Summers, da? I remember those tests. If you would like, I will help you with the practice problems."

St. John left so the kid could gush his gratitude to Piotr. He took the elevator to the fourth floor, and began rehearsing his speech, knowing he would have to tread carefully on the Mascot's ego. After all, it was always Bobby who delivered the Xavier-grams. Bobby might perceive the change as a snub. The explanation of, "You said you wanted to be left alone, so they did," sounded even more lame aloud.

However, as he got out the elevator and walked down the hallway, St. John realized that the earlier verbal assault by Jubilee had left him spoiling for a fight. It had the potential of becoming grotesque, especially since they knew more intimate secrets about each other. Bobby could be just as ruthless as Jubilee, but rarely used that particular talent.

As he turned the corner of the dimmed hallway, he was surprised to see Bobby standing in one of the doorways. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and the plaid shirt was unbuttoned and untucked, revealing St. John's black NIN shirt. Cautiously, St. John called out, "Dude?"

"Heard the hydraulics," Bobby said with a bare shrug of a shoulder. His voice sounded distant, distracted, as if he was trying to piece all the information together. "The hangar... it has to be open at least four minutes before takeoff to vent the exhaust... So when I heard them... I came inside." He took a step forward. His brow furrowed slightly. "The Professor didn't contact me or anything." He snorted. "But after four years, you'd think I'd know the drill." Then, a sharp look as if he realized something. "He sent you?"

Mouth suddenly dry, St. John nodded. "Yeah."

Bobby's eyes softened; he shrugged again and glanced down the hallway. "Guess we should get downstairs then."

"Yeah," St. John said, suddenly feeling stupid because, despite all his rehearsals, he couldn't figure out what to say. He simply watched as Bobby moved from the door toward him with an awkward kind of grace. Bobby draped an arm around his shoulders the way that Jubilee usually did, but then pulled him closer and leaned into him. It was strange; Bobby never entered his personal space like this except when they were in bed.

Bobby guided them to the staircase and they descended in silence until they reached the second floor landing. Once there, Bobby's pulled his arm back until his forearm was just resting on St. John's shoulder, and straightened himself into a stance of 'macho camaraderie'. Bobby's features went from blank to that bright, carefree smile that seemed to always put everyone at ease.

The chill that went through St. John was definitely not mutant-related.

"No, seriously," Bobby suddenly said, sounding as if they had been carrying on a conversation the whole time. His voice was sure and strong, without any of the hesitation that had plagued him upstairs. "The engines are VTOL -- at least that's what Cyclops calls them."

St. John wanted to demand, What the fuck? But it came out as, "VTOL?"

And Christ, he hoped to hell he hadn't squeaked the word out because he suddenly realized what had just happened: Bobby had transformed into the Mascot.

Holy fucking fuck.

"Vertical Take-Off and Landing, but the 'A' is left out," Bobby clarified louder than he needed to as they walked down the hallway. There was a teasing edge to his tone along with his familiar enthusiasm about all things Mansion-related. "Look, you gotta be able to spout that stuff before Cyclops'll let you go anywhere near the flight sim. The carburetor quizzes in shop class are nothing compared to ones about the jet."

Doors began opening and kiddies peeked out. It took everything for St. John to school his features into something close to his normal sneer as he caught on to Bobby's game. They were public figures. On public display. Making a public appearance because Bobby was supposed to and St. John just happened to be there.


"Why do you think I would care about -- Hey Pete! Fourth and third floors all clear -- how long the preflight engine check takes?"

St. John was stupid enough to meet Piotr's eyes as three younger boys crowded around the Russian in the doorway. Piotr's eyebrow was raised slightly, the unspoken 'you will explain this later' look that meant renewing his membership in the Vodka in the Woods Club.

"All this new lockdown stuff seems a little heavy, I know -- Yo Sam! John took care of the west elevators." Bobby angled them towards their bedroom. "But you'd hate to be out on the court making a three-pointer when everything starts to move." He paused before calling over his shoulder. "Everything cool, guys?"

"Yeah," the floor chorused.

Bobby ushered St. John inside their bedroom as he said, "Night, all."

"Night, Bobby," filled the hallway, and then the doors began to shut. And once their door was closed, the Mascot persona evaporated. Bobby's arm wound around his shoulders again, his temple pressing against St. John's and cool breath soft against his skin.

It made St. John shiver.

Bobby jerked away, hissing "Sorry," as he did.

"Hey." He grabbed Bobby's wrist and noted the tenseness along his shoulders. Witnessing how fast Bobby could switch personas made him panicky. It made him think of that awful afternoon when Bobby had returned from Boston with that father-sized bruise. "Wait."

Bobby refused to look at him, his body still tilted away from St. John, but he made no effort to move. The skin grew cold beneath St. John's fingers.

St. John gave a little tug, but didn't say, 'get back here,' although he wanted to. He wanted to ask, 'what the fuck did your parents say to you?' but he didn't. He simply held on, because he wasn't sure what else to do. He stared at the clock on the dresser, wondering how long he'd have to play this game.

Bobby then moved, cool fingers touching St. John's neck, and closed the gap between them. Again, Bobby's expression had become unreadable as his thumb brushed his roommate's jaw. "You okay with this?"

Emotions exploded through St. John. Anger and fear now tangled with pent-up urges for some type of release. He wasn't sure where it all came from; maybe it was Jubilee's outrage over his non-disclosure of his more intimate relationship with Bobby. Xavier's order and the expectation that it would be carried out. The unintentional snubs by the other boys that St. John's presence didn't really matter if the Mascot was around. The sudden nausea he felt when he realized that he didn't know Bobby as well as he thought he did. The understanding that Bobby had allowed him to see the transformation.

The ambiguity of the word 'this'.

St. John pulled him down, thrusting his tongue past rapidly cooling lips and into Bobby's open mouth. He grabbed Bobby's ass with one hand and rucked up Bobby's shirt with the other, massaging cool skin as he ground their crotches together.

There was no finesse. No gentleness. It was wet, sloppy and aggressive, a stark contrast to their usual make out sessions. Bobby moaned a little, mouth probably open from shock versus lust, and his tongue dueled briefly with St. John's, as if trying to catch up to the same level of passion St. John was at.

St. John broke the kiss and tried to slide his hands into the back pockets of Bobby's jeans. A deck of cards blocked his left hand so he opted to cup Bobby's ass below the pockets. Finally, he had the opportunity to deliver his carefully crafted lines, yet he knew that his voice betrayed his nerves: "I'll take it as far as you want to go. The only way you're going to fuck things up between us is if you don't do anything."

But he didn't give Bobby a chance to answer. He squeezed the muscles beneath his hands, earning a breathless groan, and went right back to kissing Bobby. Bobby was still hesitant to respond fully although he managed to match the slow rhythm of St. John's thrusts. It wouldn't take much for either of them to come.

It only lasted another minute or so. Bobby jerked his head away although his hips hadn't stopped moving. Panting heavily, he managed to get out, "The kids."

St. John shook his head. "Tin Man has three in his room. Guthrie and Sharra have the other two."

"The kids," Bobby insisted and pushed at St. John's shoulders, frost coating their shirts.

Christ, they sounded like a married couple with rugrats.

Frustrated, he let go but not before rubbing his hand over the hard cock in Bobby's jeans. Bobby groaned, nearly losing his balance, as St. John finished his earlier monologue: "This indecision shit and mixed-messages crap has to fucking stop. We'll still be roommates. We'll still be friends. Just choose where you want to take it."

St. John strode to the door and made a big show of locking it before going directly to the CD player and hitting 'Play.' The crappy remix of "Starfuckers, Inc." -- the one Jubilee insisted that he have in his collection, but what the fuck did she know? She hated NIN -- broke the silence. He turned off the overhead but kept the nightstand light on.

He deliberately undressed down to his underpants, which bulged from his erection, and there was no mistaking the wet spot either. Flopping down on his own bed, St. John returned his full attention to Bobby, who was still standing in the middle of the room. Bobby had that odd look on his face as if trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. St. John watched as the other boy's gaze traveled from the locked door, to the stereo, to the pile of clothes, and then strangely to St. John's laundry duffle still in middle of the room.

St. John wanted to be surprised that Bobby avoided meeting his stare, but he wasn't. He'd pushed hard and perhaps he shouldn't have. After all, the nasty parental repercussions of Bobby's compassion for Brandon Kendall plus the failure to receive a telepathic page were still looming out there. And now, on top of that, St. John had drawn a line in the sand for his confused roommate about the direction of their relationship.

He wanted to yank down his shorts and stroke his dick until he came since he knew Bobby would watch, but he didn't. Again, he had pushed, which perhaps wasn't fair to Bobby. But hell, if Bobby had a problem with it, the frost would have erupted at the beginning, not after Bobby stubbornly repeated his concern about the kiddies.

What was St. John supposed to say? That Piotr probably had orchestrated things so that he and Bobby were guaranteed no interruptions tonight? Fuck.

Bobby picked up the duffle and put it on his own bed. He opened it and pulled out the first few items, surprise clear in his features; St. John had made sure all of Bobby's things were on top. Bobby held a pair of neatly folded navy Dockers and turned. His eyes were dewy and luminous. "You did my laundry."

"Everything was mixed up," St. John countered with feigned disinterest.

Bobby set the trousers down on his bed. Like before, he looked from the door to the stereo to the pile of clothes in front of St. John's bed to the duffle, except this time his gaze included the folded pair of pants and the finally, thankfully, St. John's eyes.

He blinked a few times before toeing off his sneakers. Bobby undid the watch that he only wore when speaking with his parents on the phone, but never when he went home. St. John knew it was expensive without having to know the brand, the type timepiece that a normal teenager wouldn't have.

"Warren gave that to you," St. John suddenly blurted because what Jubilee had mentioned earlier just now hit. Bobby had invoked Worthington's name -- social prestige that even Xavier couldn't begin to touch -- to defend his decision to send the card and plant to the Kendalls. He winced, wondering why the hell his self-edit mode always seemed to fail around Bobby.

"For my thirteenth birthday," Bobby said, but no elaboration followed. He stored the watch in the special box in the bottom of the dresser. It was the first time St. John had ever witnessed him putting it away.

The deck of cards was next. A memory tickled St. John before flooding forward. Remy believed in mojo, Bobby had told him during his late night confession. He gave me a deck of cards once, swearing it had been blessed by a voodoo priestess. He said it would keep my powers in check. You know the scariest part? It fucking worked.

At least St. John's brain was kind enough to keep his mouth shut on that detail. But when he realized the plaid shirt was faded and oversized with a scorch mark on the left cuff and a blueberry stain on the right front pocket, St. John stuttered, "That's Scott's."

Specifically, the one that had been retired after the fight between Neal and Jimmy six months ago. It was one of two shirts Bobby wore nowadays Sunday evenings; the other one was Scott's as well.

The watch. The cards. The shirt. St. John's mouth dropped open briefly as the realization hit. Every kid at the Mansion had talismans to ward off the bad things. Jubilee had her yellow coat. Kitty had her watch and Star of David pendant. Piotr had the gaggle of twelve-year-olds who let him play big brother he needed to. St. John? Hell, the whole fucking Mansion was his talisman.

Bobby was no different. And for him to pull out three major pieces of his Mansion faith meant he knew that the phone call was going to be one of those gut-wrenching, testing-the-faith types. St. John's memory dutifully informed him that it had been the same couture for the past four weeks.


At least he kept his mouth shut about it. Bobby peeled the shirt off before shucking his jeans, down to just his undies and the NIN tee. NIN -- the band that Bobby freely admitted to hating; one of the few things Bobby and Jubilee agreed on.

And then St. John knew he was totally fucked in the head, because the inclusion of his own shirt in Bobby's talisman collection was the biggest turn-on of his life.

Still, it hadn't been a deliberate striptease; more of a decision-making process for Bobby, who now stood at the edge of St. John's bed. His hands hid the erection tenting the black boxer briefs, a blush spreading across his cheeks. Cautiously, he sat down, but leaned slightly away as if expecting to be hit. St. John tugged Bobby slightly down by the arm and managed to turn him so that they were facing each other on their sides.

They resumed kissing, but it was back to their habitual 'starting off slow' that Bobby seemed to excel at. However, it didn't stop him from getting his hands underneath the t-shirt and stroking Bobby's muscled belly before brushing his thumb against a hard nipple.

Bobby gasped and arched. St. John couldn't help but grin as he slid a hand back down to Bobby's ass and gave a squeeze. Was this was what the Powers were always taking about? Turning a negative into a positive?

Because that was when Bobby's hand caressed the fabric covering St. John's hip. St. John promptly let out a moan, which was (thankfully) muffled by Bobby's mouth and another version of "Starfuckers, Inc." How many shitty remixes of one song were allowed on one CD?

Still, it was Bobby's hand below his waist. Certainly a first because up until that moment, St. John was convinced his roommate/whatever subscribed to the "if it's above the waistline, I'm just curious but I'm not a fag" way of thinking. It took everything -- really, seriously! -- not to roll Bobby onto his back and dry hump like a madman until they both came.

So it caught him totally by surprise when Bobby pried back the elastic of his tighty-whities, making his hard-on pop out into open air. Bobby's actions weren't curious. They were serious, because like him, Bobby fully understood that every single action had a reaction.

Christ. St. John wished he had sexier underpants and found himself forgiving Lee-Lee for sparking his old ones eariler. Boxer-briefs were definitely the way to go.

"Can I..." Bobby's breath ended up as frost along St. John's cheek. "Can I touch you?"

"Only if can touch you, too."

That slow nod. St. John recalled his earlier snipe about making a decision, the snide 'how far do you want to go?' Bobby was giving him an answer and then some. Ice cold fingers dragged along his hipbone. A cool hand wrapped around his cock and he rocked into it because that was what he'd been fantasizing about since... well... a damn long time. Hell, he'd even stood in the walk-in freezer debating the pros and cons of molesting a bag of frozen peas just to experience the cold.

St. John's hand worked Bobby's shorts until he felt firm, smooth flesh and heard a yelp against his skin. Frost rapidly curled across his shoulder and Bobby began pulling away.

St. John suddenly recalled Scott's blunt sex discussion, specifically the difficulty of controlling a powerful ability while being on the receiving end of physical pleasure. "I don't care how many times you've given or received oral or had actual intercourse," Scott had told him. "It's a whole new ballgame when your partner is a mutant."

Translated: he was overwhelming Bobby. "Don't stop," St. John pleaded as he let go and then pulled his own underwear off completely. "Feels so good."

"I'll just screw it up," he whispered and leaned away for the second time that night.

"No, you won't." St. John boldly grabbed Bobby's hand and placed it back on his cock. "I show you. You show me." He met Bobby's worried gaze. "Trust me."

For a few moments, Bobby didn't move. Then finally, he readjusted his grip. "Like this?"

St. John nodded before guiding a few strokes. As keyed up as he was, he knew he wouldn't last long. He said the latter aloud softly and thrust forward carefully.

"I could freeze your dick," Bobby informed him worriedly but didn't stop working him.

"Nah. Your control is too good," breathlessly now.

"But the cold bleeds out."

"So?" His eyes slipped shut. "Turns me on." He bucked a little. "Can't you tell?"

It was Bobby who then picked up the pace, who added the little twisting motion on the upstroke, and who applied a bit more pressure going down. St. John began whispering not to stop.

And all he could get out was "Gonna --" before the orgasm hit and come splattered on his belly. Bobby stroked him a few more times before stopping.

"Wow," Bobby breathed out in amazement. St. John opened his eyes, noting the pleased expression on his face. "Was that okay?"

"Fucking amazing," St. John panted. He rolled a little, forcing him to let go, before he placed his hand on Bobby's hip. He delivered a thorough kiss before grinning devilishly. "My turn."

Panic now flashed across Bobby's features. "What if I--"

"Trust me," he interrupted. He gently wormed his hand into Bobby's boxers and ran a finger along Bobby's hard cock. "Show me." He went so far as to softly dare, "Take'em off."

Bobby bit his lips together, but then pushed his underpants down just far enough to expose his cock and balls. His movements were jerky, full of uncertainty as his brow continued to furrow deeper. St. John kissed him again because he realized what was happening: Bobby was over-thinking things.

St. John repositioned himself and his grip on Bobby's cock so that he could stroke it more freely. He broke the kiss and began whispering to him to relax. To let go. To trust him. How he wouldn't lose control. How sexy he looked. How much St. John wanted to do this for him ever since they first kissed.

"Let go," St. John told him, speeding up the strokes. Remembering what Bobby had done earlier to him, he tried to repeat that method. Twist on the upstroke, thumb the head of his cock, more pressure on the down stroke. "Trust me. I've got you."

"God, Johnny."

"C'mon, there you go," St. John coaxed. "So sexy. Wanted this so bad."

"Close," Bobby breathlessly declared before placing his cold hand over St. John's. He adjusted the angle slightly, his mouth dropping, his hips thrusting rhythmically into St. John's hand, and "God, Johnny" spilling from his mouth.

Bobby's orgasm was perfect porn material: devastating and copious. He arched his back off the bed and come spurted onto the black t-shirt, almost up to his chin. His groans were barely drowned out by a guitar solo. His whole body went still before he began breathing again, almost hyperventilating, and a post-orgasmic shiver ran through him.

St. John continued with the whispers. How awesome that was. How hot Bobby looked. How it was just a t-shirt, easily washed, and how much he wanted to be the t-shirt and have Bobby come on him. How he'd do this any time, anywhere that Bobby wanted. How next time, he wanted to kiss Bobby when he came. How he wanted to know how Bobby tasted, if his come was cold or hot, like his. He kept talking until Bobby's breathing evened, until he settled down again.

"God, Johnny," Bobby managed to get out, his eyes still closed.

Finally, being Johnny was a good thing. "Fucking amazing," St. John repeated, before he picked up his discarded underwear and wiped himself down. He blotted the shirt, resisting the urge to at least have a taste of Bobby.

He fought back the grin as he promised himself, No, that will be next time.

time, he'd get Bobby completely naked. Next time, he would use both hands. Next time…

"You've done this before," Bobby said, his tone between a question and a statement.

"Yeah," was all he replied as he dropped his underwear to the floor. Sure, he wanted a wet washcloth, because dried come on his skin made him itch, but there was no way in hell he was going to venture down the hallway to clean up, even without a post-orgasmic Bobby in tow.

"Oh." Distant yet thoughtful. Maybe a gear finally clicked in Bobby's brain.

That meant, of course, that Bobby rationale was probably reasserting itself. St. John naked didn't seem to bother Bobby as much as Bobby himself being naked. St. John routinely wore only his underwear to bed while Bobby stuck to his t-shirt and sleep shorts. So he tucked Bobby back into his boxers, kissed him, and pulled the covers up over them.

"You're really warm," Bobby said suddenly as he wedged himself partially under St. John like he usually did after they had made out. "All the time. All over."

"You feel colder to me," he replied. "All the time. All over."

"You don't mind?"

"Told you," he pressed his lips to Bobby's forehead. "It turns me on."


"Dunno." St. John tried to keep the wariness out of his voice. This kind of post-sex talk always made him jittery. Even though it sounded stupid, he added, "'Cos it's you."

"Then... you're okay with this." As if he hadn't just asked if St. John had prior experience.

"Shit, Bobby," he attempted to downplay the frustration but the body beneath him tensed. It made him spit out, "Your hand was on my dick. My hand was on your dick. We didn't get frozen or burnt. So, yeah, I'm pretty fucking okay with it."

Bobby's skin was suddenly that awkward-cold again. "I... I just wanted to do something right for once."

And, oh fucking hell, that was a loaded sentence, because there it was: the whole reason Bobby was out of sorts tonight. "You do a shitload of things 'right', damn it."

"Not according to some people."

"Then 'some people' don't know jack." He wasn't good at this type of emotional crap. This game of reassurance because parents were being assholes and taking it out on Bobby. He desperately tried to think of what Scott would say. Tried to remember those little tidbits of advice dispensed by Xavier. He came up blank.

Bobby snuggled closer although his skin temperature hadn't changed. "I'm just sick of it, Johnny."

"Yeah." He brushed a hand through Bobby's hair, thumb tracing the shell of his ear. "I know."

"Mrs. Kendall sent my parents' a thank you note for the card and stuff. My mother totally freaked," he continued. "Shit, I put the Mansion address on it, even on the inside. I wanted her to know it was from me."

Quietly, "She did. Maybe she was saying 'fuck you' to your mom 'cos you had the balls to do something your mom didn't."

"Christ. That's so stupid."

"Dude? The only difference between adult politics and high school politics is a mortgage payment."

Bobby laughed a little and shifted slightly as his skin temperature returned to normal. He began tracing one of the scars on St. John's rib cage and it took everything for St. John not to bolt out of bed. Fingers paused over the fresh welt from where Jubilee had sparked him earlier.

"What about Lee?"

"Huh? What about her?" St. John watched Bobby's features. "Did she fucking say something to you?" because he wouldn't put it past her to chase after Bobby, especially if Bobby was in glacier mode after a call from his parents. She hadn't, after all, given him a whole lot of information to work with.

"No." Firm. Decisive. Unusual tones from Bobby followed by a very deliberate: "You. Me. Her."

Fuck. So St. John opted to repeat what he said to her earlier, "We'll make it work," because maybe the two of them -- however bizarrely -- would compare notes.

"Make it work," dubiously echoed although Bobby's hand was now splayed along St. John's hip, the touch hinting at possessiveness.

"Trust me," said firmly, because he had no doubts in that particular department. And given how tonight had turned out, there was no reason Bobby shouldn't. It was an oddly powerful thing for St. John that he could make such statements and believe completely in their validity. It was a win-win situation all around.

"Okay," Bobby replied. Maybe he was thinking the same thing too.

St. John grinned. "We'll make it work."