brbsoulnomming: (Bobby - not a perv)
Bri ([personal profile] brbsoulnomming) wrote2009-02-23 01:06 pm

Never Too Late (1 of 2)

Title: Never Too Late (Part 1 of 2)
Author: Bri
Rating: R
Word count: 4,223
Pairing: Bobby/John
Prompt: "I'll love whatever you become" from raspberryichigo's prompt table.
Summary: How long are we gonna keep doing this? John's in prison, and Bobby refuses to stop visiting him.
Notes: Title taken from the Three Days Grace song with the same name.



“How long are we gonna keep doing this?” John’s voice sounded tired, but his eyes were wide and clear as they stared into Bobby’s.

“Doing what?” Bobby asked, mostly just to stall.

John shot him a look that said he wasn’t buying it. “You guys aren’t just going to keep me locked up here forever.”

Bobby froze. He should have figured it out when John asked the same question he always asked, in the same tone. He figured John knew, John had to know, he’d just fallen into the pattern anyway, but when Bobby said something different, it should’ve been John’s cue to start something new. Shouldn’t it? When one person broke the routine because they knew something different, if the other person knew it, too, they weren’t supposed to pick the pattern back up. Or were they? Was this John’s way of saying nothing had changed? But it had changed. Everything had changed. Bobby still knew John well enough to know that he wouldn’t treat this like it was nothing. Ugh. He hated this stuff.

“No one told you?” Bobby asked finally.

“No one tells me anything,” John replied, tone annoyed but looking at him curiously.

“Fuck,” Bobby murmured, burying his face in his hands in an attempt to hide his anger. He didn’t want to be the one to do this. He couldn’t be the one to do this, and he was really fucking pissed at Storm for shoving it off on him like this.

“The hell is your problem, Drake?” John asked. He had the same irritated tone of voice he used when he was actually kind of worried, and Bobby didn’t want to look up to see if John’s eyes still showed it, or if he could hide that now, too.

Bobby waited another moment, then pushed one hand through his hair and scrubbed his other hand across his face. “I should’ve left you on the island,” he said, finally looking up.

John looked slightly surprised, then his eyes darkened in anger. “Wishing you’d had the guts to kill me?”

“No,” Bobby replied immediately, reaching across the table to put his hand on John’s arm, but thought better of it and pulled his hand back. Instead, he locked his eyes on John’s. “Never.”

John held his gaze. “Why not? I would’ve killed you.”

Bobby wanted to deny that, but he wasn’t entirely sure he could. And he didn’t have a response to it, because he didn’t know why. So he just said, “They’re going to give you the Cure.”

John stared at him like he didn’t understand what Bobby was saying. “What?”

“They’re going to Cure you,” Bobby said again. “And then they’re releasing you to us.”

“To you,” John repeated, still staring at him.

“To the X-men,” Bobby clarified.

John sneered. “So you’re finally one of them, are you? Should’ve figured when I saw you in the leather. Fucking wet dream come true for you, isn’t it? You’re the big, strong X-man in control and I’m a helpless human in your custody.”

“I didn’t want this to happen, Johnny,” Bobby said. “I fought against it.”

“I’m sure you did,” John replied angrily. “The fuck would you care if I was human? You love them. You’re even dating one of them.”

“Leave Marie out of this.”

John ignored him. “Maybe you’ll like me better when I’m human. Hell, why don’t you get it, too, and we can all be one big, happy, human family. We can go live with your parents. I’m sure they’ll love you again.”

“Shut up,” Bobby said, voice low and dangerous.

John refused to back down. “Or what? You gonna make me? Real brave, X-man, beating up on the guy in handcuffs.”

Bobby glanced down at John’s hands, resting on the table in front of him. They were handcuffed, they always were, but now they were clenched together so hard that John’s knuckles were white. Bobby fought the ridiculous urge to lean over and take John’s hands in his. “I’m sorry, Johnny.”

“Sorry doesn’t mean anything,” John replied. “And don’t call me Johnny.”

“I can’t stop this,” Bobby said quietly.

John didn’t say anything, and after a few minutes Bobby got the hint and stood up to leave.

~*~

“Storm says you can stay at the mansion as long as you want,” Bobby said. “But you don’t have to. After the first couple of weeks, you can go where ever you want. They’re not going to keep you prisoner.”

“Isn’t that nice of them,” John said sarcastically.

John was even angrier than he’d been last time, and Bobby figured that was because he’d had time for the fear to set in. John was always more pissed off when he was afraid.

“They fought for you, too,” Bobby said doggedly. “You could’ve been stuck here forever.”

“No,” John replied. “They wouldn’t risk keeping me here. Sooner or later someone’d slip up and light a cigarette or something. They got exactly what they wanted, they just made you guys think they were making you a deal. And you lot were fucking stupid enough to buy it.”

Bobby stayed silent for a long moment, just long enough for John to start smirking, giving him a look that said John thought he’d won. Then Bobby swallowed and said softly, “They wanted to kill you.”

John’s smirk faded a bit.

“The government reps were talking about terrorism and war crimes and waiving your rights to a trial,” Bobby continued. “So no. They didn’t get what they wanted.”

John stayed silent for a long time. Eventually, Bobby figured they were done and stood up. As he moved to leave, though, John shot up and reached out to grab his arm. Bobby turned, surprised. This was the first time John had touched him.

“You should have given them what they wanted,” John said, his eyes blank. “I’d rather be dead than human.”

“Johnny,” Bobby started, but John flinched slightly at the sound of his voice, or maybe at the name. He let go of Bobby’s arm and pulled back, sitting back down. Shaken, Bobby stared at him for a moment, trying to think of something to say, but he failed and ended up just walking out.

~*~

“How can you hate humans that much?” Bobby asked.

John shrugged. “They’ve never given me any reason not to.”

“So being a mutant just automatically means people won’t be bastards? Come on, Johnny, you know better than that. Mutants hurt other mutants and humans just as much as humans hurt other humans and mutants. People hurt people,” Bobby said. “But people help people, too.”

John didn’t say anything.

“Magneto’s human now,” Bobby told him. “You hate him now, too?”

“I hated him before that,” John said, voice hardly above a whisper.

Bobby sat up straighter. “What?”

“Get out,” John replied. “We’re done here.”

~*~

“It’s not about hating humans. It’s about not having power,” Bobby said.

John glared at him. “Fuck off.”

“You can’t stand the idea of not having power,” Bobby pressed. “You have to be able to threaten people, to kick their ass whenever you feel like it.”

“Shut up,” John hissed.

Bobby ignored him. “You’ve always had to be better, stronger, more in control than everyone else. Special. Important.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” John said, anger growing in his voice. “You don’t fucking know anything about-”

He cut short, looking furious and slightly scared, and Bobby suddenly felt guilty. Because he did know. He was probably the only one that knew anything about John’s past.

“I won’t go back to that,” John said, staring at something that wasn’t in the room. “A nobody too fucking weak to stand up to a stupid old drunk.”

“You were just a kid, Johnny, you couldn’t-” Bobby started.

But his voice snapped John out of whatever he’d been in, and his eyes were angry again. It’d been like that in the beginning, whenever John handed over a piece of himself without realizing it, he’d be pissed. Bobby’d counter it by offering John a piece of himself in return, more than what John had given him. Eventually it’d worked, and John stopped being so angry that Bobby knew so much about him. Bobby figured it was pretty much because John realized that Bobby’d give him everything without expecting everything in return. Which was why it wouldn’t work now. Bobby didn’t have anything left to give him.

“You don’t know,” John said again.

“Your power isn’t what makes you strong,” Bobby told him, trying to inject all his feelings into his voice. “You won’t be a nobody without it.”

John laughed, a sharp, bitter sound that echoed in the small room. “The fire is who I am. You’re a smart boy, Bobby,” and his name was said mockingly, “you change someone’s DNA, take away a piece of them, how are they supposed to be the same?”

“I didn’t say you’d be the same,” Bobby said. “But it’s better than dying.”

“No it’s not,” John replied. “It’s not. I can’t do it. I won’t.”

The finality in John’s voice scared Bobby a little. “Johnny. It’ll be all right. If we can make through everything we’ve been through, through Alcatraz, we can make it through this.”

John sat up a little straighter. “No, we can’t. There is no fucking we. I don’t want you here.”

“I-“ Bobby started.

John cut him off. “Go away, Iceman. Just – fucking go away. Don’t come back here.”

~*~

Bobby came back anyway, but John wouldn’t talk to him. Bobby tried the first two times, but John ignored him, and after that they sat in silence. Bobby didn’t let it stop him. Before, he’d gone to the prison every few days, but he started showing up more often. After a week straight of coming every day to sit in silence for a few hours, John finally looked at him. John didn’t look angry anymore, he just looked kind of empty. Blank. But apparently Bobby still knew John pretty well, because he could see the desperation hidden under there.

“What do you want from me, Bobby?” John asked.

Bobby hesitated for a moment, then went with honesty and said quietly, “I want my best friend back.”

John nodded. “What if I told you he was dead?”

Bobby just looked at him. “That’s so cliché, Johnny.”

“Pyro,” John said.

“Johnny,” Bobby replied stubbornly.

“Is that why you want them to give me the Cure? Because you think it’ll bring Johnny back?” John asked.

Bobby glared at him. “I don’t want them to give you the Cure. And in case you’ve forgotten, Pyro is Johnny. You were my best friend with powers, taking them away won’t bring him back.”

“Then why do you keep coming here, knowing you won’t get what you want?” John asked.

Bobby stayed silent for a moment, trying to figure out how to put into words what he didn’t really know. “I used to think I had lines. Places people would cross and I could point to them and go, ‘Yeah, that guy’s a bad person.’ That’s what being a hero’s supposed to be about, right? You stop the bad guy.”

John stared at him. “The hell are you babbling about, Drake?”

Bobby ignored him. “So I figure, you know, your best friend burns down your house, kills a couple of cops. That should probably be a line. Maybe you should stop caring about him so much. He turns traitor, starts playing loyal follower to your biggest enemy? Line. Goes around killing innocent people? Big fucking line. Tries to kill you?” Bobby laughed, but it sounded mean, and he saw something like uncertainty, or maybe even regret, in John’s eyes. “Line in bold, going hand in hand with a hint big enough for even me to get, saying ‘you’re less than nothing to me.’”

John flinched and said, almost too soft for Bobby to make out, “That’s not true.”

Bobby should’ve been surprised, doubtful, but instead he just felt kind of happy, like John was just confirming something he’d already known, deep down. Which was the problem. “Yeah, well. Apparently I have no lines. Not when it comes to you. Because I still fucking care about you. So if I still have trouble not thinking of you as my best friend after all that, however being human changes you’ll be easy. Whatever you become, I’ll still care about you.” He faltered slightly on “care”, because “love” almost slipped out. It’d been right there, right on the tip, but he couldn’t say it, because he was trying not to scare John away, not to freak him out or bring on the mocking.

But he’d still somehow managed to say the wrong thing, maybe even care was too much, because John was sneering at him.

“Is that supposed to do something for me?’ John asked. “Am I supposed to roll over and be all excited about being human because when I am, you’ll still care about me?” He snorted. “I’ve heard that speech before, on every crappy Hallmark movie. ‘I don’t care that you’ve got cancer, Mary Lou, I’ll love you anyway.’ Bullshit. I’ve had your caring before, Bobby. I’ve seen what it means. So no thanks.”

“Johnny, I-”

John cut him off. “How’s Marie doing, Bobby?”

Bobby frowned. “I told you to leave her out of this.”

“You’re the one that brought her in.”

Bobby blinked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you’re a fucking idiot, Drake, and I’m tired of putting up with you.” He sighed, a defeated sound that conflicted with the anger in his expression. “Just leave me alone.”

“I can’t,” Bobby admitted quietly. “I’ve tried to forget you before. It didn’t work. I’m not letting you go again.”

“You already have,” John told him, then refused to say anything else until Bobby left.

~*~

“You’re really fucking contradictory, Bobby Drake.”

Bobby hadn’t even made it to his chair yet, and he stopped to stare at John. “What?”

“You want me back. You’re not going to let me go. But every time you come in here, you keep trying to convince me that taking the Cure is a good thing, when you fucking well know what it’ll do to me,” John replied.

“You’re strong enough to deal with it and come out fighting,” Bobby insisted as he sat down. “You can do anything.”

“I couldn’t get you,” John said. His voice was lacking the anger it should have had, the kind he always had whenever he talked about Bobby beating him at something. Especially in a fight.

It made Bobby think that he was missing something, but he went on ahead anyway. “You left the Institute. If you’d stayed, trained more…” He trailed off, because John was staring at him in disbelief. “What?”

“I’m trying to figure out how the hell I’ve managed to make it this far without strangling you out of sheer frustration,” John said.

He sounded so much like the old Johnny that Bobby found himself grinning. “No one else is as good at annoying you as I am.”

“That’d be an argument in favor of the strangling, Frosty,” John told him.

“Nah. You like it. You’re secretly a masochist,” Bobby said.

“Oooh, you know what that word means?” John asked. “You’re more adventurous in your internet porn surfing than I thought. Maybe I’ll hold off strangling you if you give me links.”

Bobby’s grin widened. “Like I could show you anything you haven’t already seen. You’re like the king of internet porn. Besides, you totally know you’d miss me.”

John nodded. “I would.”

Bobby blinked, thrown. He waited for John to add something else, like ‘who else will I get to clean the room just by leaving my side messy’ or ‘then who would I cheat off in math class,’ but John stayed silent.

“I missed you,” Bobby said eventually. “I wouldn’t let them give me a new roommate because I kept thinking you’d come back.”

“I don’t belong there,” John told him, voice gentle.

“Yes you do,” Bobby insisted. “We’re a family. You belong with us. With me.”

“You were the only reason I had second thoughts,” John said quietly.

“But I wasn’t enough,” Bobby replied, slightly surprised by just how much that hurt.

“You might’ve been, if I’d actually had you,” John said, then before Bobby could protest that, John reached across the table to grab Bobby’s arm. “Get me out of here, Bobby.”

Bobby stared at him, eyes wide. “Johnny, I can’t.”

“Yeah, you can,” John replied. “You’re probably the only one who can.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking,” Bobby said, the desperation in his voice matching what he could see in John’s eyes. “I break you out of here, they’re gonna know it’s me. Everything I – the Institute, the people there, they’re all I have left. Everything I’ve got left is there. I can’t leave that.”

“You’ll have me,” John said softly, and if it was anyone else, Bobby would’ve said he sounded uncertain.

“No I won’t,” Bobby said. “I’ll never have you, Johnny, not-” not the way I want “-not really. I thought I had you once, and look how that turned out.”

“Please,” John said, very quietly.

“You have no right to ask me this,” Bobby said, suddenly angry. He pulled his arm from John’s hand and stood, pacing in short, quick steps. “You have no fucking right to ask me to give up everything for you. You tried to kill me, and you’ve spent the last few weeks trying to convince me that you hate me, and I’m supposed to just leave everything I have so you don’t have to be human? How can you ask that of me?”

“You’re all I’ve got,” John said, leaning forward a bit. “Just you. After everything, you’re still fucking here, and no one’s ever been there like that before. I fucking –” He faltered and swallowed. “I fucking need you, Bobby.”

“You need me because I can get you out of here,” Bobby said bitterly.

“If that’s really what you think of me, then why do you keep coming back here?” John asked.

Bobby ran his hand through his hair. “Because I’m too much of an idiot to want to believe that you’re using me.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t, because I’d do anything to get out of here,” John said. “But that’s not the only reason I need you. I never fucking stopped missing you. I tried so fucking hard, but I never did.”

“I can’t,” Bobby said, shaking his head and abruptly turning to walk out. “I just can’t.”

~*~

But he could. And a week later, he did. Because John asked him – really asked him – for help, and Bobby’d always had a hard time telling John no.

It took him a week to decide how he was going to do it (in a way that didn’t involve just breaking in and fighting his way out), and if he was going to do it at all (although that decision took him less time than it probably should have). He took one of the spare image inducers, the ones the Professor had kept around for physical mutants who wanted to go into the city without being noticed. It would be easy enough to give John the inducer to disguise him, the hard part would be coming out with two people when he’d gone in alone.

So he called ahead to let the guards know that there would be two people visiting John that day. He put the inducer on, programming it to its default male setting, and when he got to the prison, he made an ice statue of himself, ice arm resting on his shoulders and his own arm wrapped around the icy waist. Bobby’d been working on animating ice, making it move however he wanted, but he wasn’t very far along. He had it down just enough to make the legs of the statue move in small, jerking motions, but fortunately it looked real enough as far as a person made of ice attempting to walk went.

In a disguised voice, he explained to the guards that Bobby had gotten stuck in ice form and needed someone to help him get around. The guards looked him over but, aside from being slightly wary of the ice form, didn’t seem to care and waved him through. Bobby continued down to the room they always used and slid in as quickly as he could when half-holding an ice statue.

John was sitting at the table, eyes completely blank. He looked at the ice statue when Bobby entered, and for a moment some kind of expression tried to showed itself, but then gave up. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Bobby said in his own voice, dropping the ice statue and taking off the inducer. “Yet. I’m getting you out of here.”

John stared at him, eyes glittering and expression intense. “Are you fucking serious?”

“I came in here with this ridiculous set up, didn’t I?” Bobby asked, shoving the inducer at him. “Let’s go.”

John looked at the inducer, turning it over in his hands like he couldn’t quite believe it was real. Then he wrapped it around his wrist and disappeared, face hidden behind someone else’s. Bobby turned into ice form and John flinched slightly, looking angry. Bobby wondered briefly if he was thinking of Alcatraz, but then the anger was gone and John stood up, walking towards him. Bobby draped his arm over John’s shoulders.

“Sorry about the cold,” Bobby said.

“It’s fine,” John replied, voice distant, and he slipped his arm around Bobby’s waist.

It was too quick, too easy. The guards let them pass without a word, and all the tension Bobby’d built up, the nerves and adrenaline and fear went unresolved. It hung thick in the air of the car Bobby found himself driving before he knew it. John was sitting in the passenger seat, inducer-less John, because he’d ripped it off as soon as they’d put a few miles between them and the prison, and they drove in heavy silence. Bobby was shaking now, and he clutched the wheel tighter to try and stop it, or at least hide it.

“What now?” John asked eventually, without moving his gaze from the window.

“I don’t know,” Bobby admitted. “Drive for awhile. Find some place to stop for the night, I guess. Figure out where to go from there.”

John nodded absently, then asked very quietly, “Why’d you do it?”

“Because I love you.” He’d meant to add “man,” or “dude” after that, to make it more the best friend kind of love, but he didn’t, and then it was too late and he couldn’t take it back or change it. And cue panic.

But John just nodded again and went back to staring silently out the window. Bobby didn’t know to do with that. Of all the possible reactions out there, he hadn’t been expecting that. Maybe John was just too wound up over the escape to want to deal with that. Or, more likely, his feelings for Bobby were so completely platonic that the fact that that might’ve been an accidental love confession didn’t even occur to him.

When neither of them talked until it was after midnight and Bobby pulled into a motel on the side of the highway, though, Bobby started figuring his first guess had been right. Bobby got them a room, making sure to get two beds, then lugged two of the bags he’d packed into the room while John followed him. Bobby dropped the bags on the floor and John sat on one of the beds, staring off into nothing.

“So, uh. I’m going to take a shower,” Bobby said, figuring maybe John needed some space to think.

“Okay,” John replied.

Bobby took a little longer to shower than he normally did, trying to give John time. When he was done, he wrapped a towel around his waist and opened the door, then stood in the doorway between the bathroom and the bedroom for a moment. John was still sitting on the bed, but now he had a box of matches in his hands, turning it over with long, nimble fingers and quick caresses. It stirred something in Bobby, and even though it should have been cautiousness, maybe even fear, it really, really wasn’t.

“Shower’s yours, if you want it,” Bobby told him. “I packed your clothes in the red bag.”

“Okay,” John said, not taking his eyes from the matches.

Bobby shifted, at first uncomfortable, then pissed. “What’s your problem, Johnny? What the fuck is your problem? I gave up everything for you. You’re out. You should be thrilled that-”

John started laughing, cutting him off. It was a laugh of desperation and hopelessness, bordering on insanity. He opened the box and pulled out a match, striking it against the side. “You were too late, Bobby,” John said, holding the lit match under his left palm. “You were too fucking late.”

The smell of burned flesh started filling the room and Bobby reacted instinctively to put out the flame. Then he looked on in growing horror as John stared at his burned hand, the ice covered match, and started laughing again.


(Cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] dry_ice)

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