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Volume 2 -- Supreme Reflections -- Bobby Drake

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Bobby Drake
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Bobby’s Reflections (AN: Takes place after issue 43)

“I still can’t believe it…dumped by Magneto’s daughter,” mused a distant Bobby Drake.

“You know, Bobby, you don’t have to keep saying these things out loud. You’ve made it abundantly clear how bad you feel. We don’t need any reminders,” said Kitty Pryde dryly.

“Thanks for your words of compassion, Kitty,” he retorted, “Although I wouldn’t apply for a job at a suicide hotline anytime soon.”

“If you’re trying to win more sympathy, forget it. You’ve already had more than your share. Not to make light of your heartache, but you need to at least try your hand at coping. You’re a lot less annoying to be around when you’re making fart jokes.”

Kitty didn’t stick around for more of Bobby’s moping. She already did her part. She invited Bobby to watch TV with her while they ate lunch. Somebody had to do something to cheer him up since he was still reeling from his recent breakup with Lorna. While he wasn’t nearly as messed up as he was when it first happened, Bobby still wasn’t the same Bobby. Since this obviously wasn’t working, Kitty turned off the TV and begrudgingly left the living room.

Now alone with his thoughts, Bobby laid back on the couch staring at the ceiling. Kitty always had a way of sending a blunt if not callous message. It wasn’t always done with a lot of care, but it got the point across. For a guy like him who never took himself too seriously, it went a long way towards adding a little perspective. That was a concept he was still learning…perspective. His recent break-up with Lorna was a lesson of sorts he wouldn’t soon forget.

Kitty Pryde…what a character. She’ll reach out to a friend one moment only to make a fool of them the moment things get icy. Guess I can’t blame her completely. I haven’t exactly come off as warm or friendly lately. Breaking up with your girlfriend will do that to a guy. Breaking up with your girlfriend because she chooses to stay by her megalomaniacal mutant father will make any guy downright cold.

That’s enough of the hot/cold puns. I have to be serious for once in my life. If only being serious was one of my strong points.

I’ve been on the receiving end of way too much seriousness in my life. I’m still a teenager for crying out loud! I’m too young to get uptight about every little thing. Hell, being uptight just isn’t in my nature. It never has been. If I had gone along with everybody else’s notion of what counts for prim and proper, I probably would have become a super-villain myself. That’s something Lorna never understood about me. That’s something even my own friends don’t understand about me. Being overly serious just isn’t in my nature. Hell, that’s probably why I’m so messed up at the moment.

Bobby groaned into the now quiet ambience of the living room. A big screen TV, two video game systems, a satellite dish with all the premium channels, a deluxe TIVO, and a library of movies and TV shows that would make any couch potato weep and yet here he was just lying on the couch doing nothing. It wasn’t just out-of-character for Bobby Drake. It was downright scary.

Closing his eyes, Bobby grabbed a pillow and stuffed it over his face. This was pathetic. He and the X-men recently saved the world from mass extinction. He should be ecstatic. Being a hero was part of why he loved being an X-man. Yet even that feeling of accomplishment was stifled by heartbreak.

I shouldn’t be droning like this. I’ve never let myself get this down before. I’ve always found a way to pick myself up and make a joke out of my problems. So what happened? Why is it so much harder this time?

It’s not like I haven’t been through hardship. I was practically born into it in South Boston. I’m talking about a rough neighborhood with touch, ridged, blue-collar people whose sense of humor was as limited as their income bracket. My parents sure fit the mold. My dad busted his ass on the docks for 60 hours a week while my mom had been bussing tables at restaurants since she was 17. It was not a fun environment. Our house had more leaks in it than an incontinent dog and the only entertainment my folks would splurge on was a small TV with basic cable. It’s the last place you would expect a career class clown to emerge.

I guess it’s just how I learned to cope. When you’ve got so little growing up, you have to find a way to compensate. A sense of humor ended up working for me. I remember how when I was young, my parents would always come home tired and exhausted. They looked so miserable and being the only one not toiling away for paychecks, I took it upon myself to make them smile. I would walk into the living room with a cooking pot on my head, swim trunks on my arms, and a towel as a cape and claim I flew in from the planet Chocolaton-Five and was looking to gather all the chocolate ice cream in the galaxy. They got a real kick out of it. I wasn’t always the funniest kid, but I did get them to smile. From there, the whole jokester persona stuck.

It didn’t always go over well. I remember this time I went a little overboard with my act once. I grabbed my dad’s tools, put on my mom’s apron, and pretended to be a firefighter. It was cute at first until I tripped, bumped into the kitchen table, and knocked some of our less-than-fancy dishes onto the floor so they broke into a million pieces. To say I got yelled at would not do justice to the permanent hearing damage I probably inferred. I know now I went a little too far with that joke. It may even count as a sign of things to come with Lorna.

Bobby cringed at the many indicators that should have been obvious with Lorna. He pulled the pillow off his face and let it fall to his side. With his arms and legs now lazily draping off the couch, he let out an embittered sigh. The sorrow was becoming too much and frustration was setting in. This wasn’t right. It couldn’t be.

“Pull yourself together, Drake! The hell is wrong with you?” Bobby groaned to himself.

He wasn’t supposed to be like this. He refused to let it get him down. His missteps with Lorna couldn’t be the same as the mishaps of his past. The real Bobby Drake knew how to rise above those and move forward.

Mishaps aside, I couldn’t stand the humorless world my parents lived in. They tried to teach me things about work ethic and grit, but they were even more blunt than Kitty Pryde. I remember some of my dad’s earliest words of wisdom.

“You work hard, you stay focused, and if you get lucky you succeed. Since people like us aren’t all that lucky, you’re better off sticking to the first two. That’s the only way you’ll survive in this world.”

So much for the you-can-do-anything-if-you-set-your-mind-to-it speech. My parents were content with cold hard truth. I wasn’t. I needed humor in my world and I obviously wasn’t going to get that at home.

This could probably count as the second step towards me screwing things up with Lorna. By the time I was ten most of my livelihood resided outside my house. I would go out every chance I got, roaming my little neighborhood in South Boston looking for adventure. I found out that I wasn’t the only one suffocating at home. I met up with a lot of other kids my age that needed a break from the harsh realities of lower-middle class life. I probably met every kid in my district at one point and I always made an impression, but it wasn’t always a good one.

I would lead these packs of misfits on these ill-fated ventures for cheap thrills. Granted, I was no Cyclops when it came to leadership, but I pulled off some pretty remarkable stunts. One time we all painted our faces blue and barged into stores saying that we were smurfs who had lost their way. Another time we loaded food coloring into squirt guns and used them to leave our mark on anybody that crossed our path, including cute girls. That didn’t get as many laughs as I hoped and I probably set myself back in terms of female interest more than a few years.

School offered its share of thrills as well. Despite my parents’ lessons in work ethic, I was never more than an average student. B’s and C’s were the highest grades I brought home. The only subject I ever got A’s in was, ironically enough, math. Now some of that may be because my mom taught me from a young age how to use numbers to figure out when someone was screwing you over with a tip. In every other respect math was probably the opposite of what a guy like me would enjoy. Despite this, I found ways to extract a little fun out of it.

During a break period one day, I set up this little poster as if I was a carnival act. It said in bold letters that for five bucks, I would guess someone’s weight. If I was wrong, I would double their money back. It quickly drew a crowd. Even a teacher decided to play along. As my luck would have it, the first kid was one of the bigger kids in my grade level. And by big I mean this kid hit puberty by the time he was eleven. He gave me five bucks. I guessed his weight. Of course I was off so he asked for his money. I said no such luck. The kid got snippy with me and this whole time I was trying not to laugh. When he finally demanded an answer, I told him to look closer at the poster. There was some fine print at the bottom

It read something like: guesses are rounded off to one quarter of one third the person’s actual weight divided by the height and arm-to-leg ratio divided by the distance between their eyes and multiplied by one-and-a-half times the body/mass index and divided again by the degree of tilt from the head to the eyes. Now it all sounds confusing, but there’s actually a nice little math trick at the end. There is no tilt from the head to the eyes. The eyes are part of the head. That means the tilt is zero and whenever you divide by zero you get an irrational value. So if my guesses were rounded off by an irrational value, they can’t be right or wrong.

It confused the hell out of the kid and got a good laugh even from the teacher. The kid sure didn’t appreciate it though. I made him look like a fool and his response was perfectly rational. That is to say he got pissed and chased me up and down the school. It was icing on the cake until we bumped into the principal, who I found out born with a tragic condition that robbed him of any sense of humor. Yeah, I got in trouble. But the excitement helped break the trend of monotony and hardship that surrounded my life. To me, the detention was worth it.

Frustration was now turning into determination. Despite being miserable and heartbroken, Bobby pulled himself up and sat with poise for the first time since Lorna broke up with him. He stared off into space, rubbing his sore head as he continued to rack his brain with confusion and guilt. Pulling himself together wasn’t nearly as easy as it should have been. He wasn’t a little kid anymore. He was part of a superhero team that just saved the world. The everyday issues of life had an entirely different perspective than they when he was just a normal boring guy.

My mediocre grades aside, I was smart enough to realize that this was going to be a trend. Stunts like this set the stage for my teenage years. Most kids dread their first day of high school. For me, it was like being drafted by the Boston Red Sox. I jumped right in. All these new kids full of rebellious teenage spirit were just the kind of people I needed to be around. They didn’t like the bland, boring environment we were stuck in either so we all banned together to make life a little more exciting.

Pretty soon I had my own army of friends with the same appetite for adventure as me. We hung out, joked around, and played pranks to pass the time. My folks didn’t always appreciate it, but so long as I kept bringing home decent grades they were okay with it. They probably figured my math scores would be enough to get me by, but the only numbers I was concerned about was how many ways we could get some thrills out of this boring environment.

When I turned fifteen, I discovered something besides jokes that really helped. It was called free running and it was sort of my pre-cursor to the Danger Room. What we did was basically run around the city, treating it as if it were an obstacle course. We leapt up buildings, scaled fences, and basically made the mundane into a playground. I became one of the best in the neighborhood. Until then I hadn’t been all that athletic. This gave me more reasons to stay in shape and I loved it. It was more thrills and more excitement. The more I felt it, the more I craved it. If there was a medical term for a full fledged adrenaline junkie, I would be the perfect case study. But like any addict, it was only a matter of time before I overdosed.

It all went down on what had to be the coldest day in South Boston history. A snowstorm had just rolled through and there had to be like four and a half feet of snow on the ground. For a bunch of thrill-seeking teenagers, that’s like giving a pyromaniac a flame thrower. As soon as school ended that day, we went out back where the snow plows had created these huge mounds of snow up against the back wall of the building. Seeing plenty of potential, we decided to turn it into a full fledged snowboarding ramp. This required us to ‘borrow’ some materials from the gym and shop class. Within about an hour and a half we had something that was flimsy as hell, but workable. Me being the crazy kid that I was, I decided to test it out.

To go the extra distance we climbed up onto the roof of the school. Since the snow mounds were so big that wasn’t too hard. Even so, it was a long ways down and I did get a few butterflies in my stomach when I first got into position. But with my friends egging me on and a few cute girls dropping by to watch, there was no going back. I wasn’t just going to test this thing out. I was going to go all out. So with a running start, I darted towards the ramp and slid down head first. I know in every logical sense that’s not very smart, but like all adrenaline junkies logic is not usually on your mind when you do these things.

At first it was awesome. I ended up going a lot faster than I thought. The ice was pretty slick and I don’t think anybody had physics in mind when we built this thing. When I finally hit the ramp, I was going so fast that I overshot the landing area. We had this nice pile of fresh snow that was supposed to cushion the impact. When I saw it pass under me all that rush turned to terror. I started flapping in the air like a bird that just had his wings cut off. I landed a good twenty feet from where I was aiming and I didn’t land on anything soft either. There was this drainage ditch that always filled up with water whenever there was a snowstorm. It had frozen over so I was not looking forward to the impact. When I hit it, the top layer of ice shattered and I plunged right into three feet of ice cold water.

At this point all the cheers turned to gasps. My friends were freaking out. Some of them ran away, thinking they had just become an accessory to murder or something. The ones with more guts ran over help me. But to their surprise (and mine for that matter) I didn’t need help. Between the adrenaline and the shock to the system of diving head first into ice cold water, my mutant powers kicked in. I’m not quite sure what sort of crazy physiological transformations took place, but when I emerged from the water I was covered in a shell of ice. What really freaked me out was that I didn’t feel cold in the slightest. I actually felt comfortable…for a moment anyways.

Bobby slouched lazily on the couch as his frustration continued to plague him. He found himself forming some snowballs in his hands. The cool shivers that overtook his skin whenever he used his powers often had a soothing effect. Bobby needed anything he could get at this point and the cold was always a source of comfort. With the snowball in hand, he formed a number of small ice structures. He made a couple snowflakes, some faces, and an ice flower. He pulled this skilled manipulation of ice off with such ease. It was hard to believe that these powers were once so chaotic.

What happened next was probably the scariest experience of my life. Not even battles with Magneto, the sentinels, and Juggernaut could compare. I thought I was turning into a monster. Everywhere around me ice and snow were forming as if it was somehow alive. By the time I pulled myself out of that ditch, I looked like the freakin’ abominable snowman. It was also at that point my friends totally ditched me. I wouldn’t hear from most of these guys ever again.

The world around me was turning into this surrealistic nightmare. I didn’t know what the hell was happening to me. I thought I might be having a near death experience or something, but it felt so damn real. My first instinct was to try and wake up. When that didn’t work, my next instinct was to run. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do because I was generating so much cold this eerie cloud formed around me. Everything within twenty feet of me was shrouded in this blizzard that had to be no warmer than 20 below. With every step I took I left the freakin’ arctic in my wake. I eventually stumbled into some abandoned apartment complex where I basically crawled into a corner and freaked out.

I ended up staying there for like a full day. I didn’t realize how long it had been because time just seemed to forget about me. My body was going through all these changes that make traditional puberty look tame. I later found out I drew pretty much every news medium in the greater Boston area. While holding up in that building, the cold I was radiating encased it in this thick shell of ice that looked like a work of modern art. It was so thick and cold the police and fire department couldn’t get inside. They were probably ready to call in the National Guard this was so messed up. That’s when Charles Xavier entered the picture.

I ended up having the honor of being one of the first major signatures Cerebro ever detected. As soon as I was discovered, the Professor flew to Boston with Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, and Thunderbird. Xavier and Jean managed to read me telepathically and calm me down while Cyclops, Beast, and Thunderbird blasted through the ice and got me out. The Professor was even nice enough to wipe the minds of all the witnesses that saw me and make them believe that this ice mess was the result of some burst fire hydrants. As for my friends, they thought I was just rushed to the hospital and that was the end of it. But it ended up being just the beginning for me.

After the X-men rescued me and revealed that I was a mutant, Professor Xavier offered me a place at his institute. I had no idea what it entailed, but I thought what they did was so cool I didn’t need much convincing to come and join. Plus, I kind of wanted to find a way to control these crazy powers. My parents were a little less enthusiastic. I don’t think they liked the idea of having a mutant for a son. It meant more stress for them than they already had to deal with. They weren’t necessarily disgusted. They looked outright scared, like they didn’t know how to react.

Eventually, they caved. When Professor Xavier said he would accept Bobby on a scholarship and they wouldn’t have to worry about me going off at school, this seemed to seal the deal. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I was really excited. When I heard that the Xavier Institute was the front for the X-men, who were just a bunch of masked vigilantes at the time, I was stoked. This was the kind of thrill-seeking that was right up my alley. Not only would I learn to control my powers, but I would get all the adrenaline rushes I could ever want by being a hero.

Granted, I was a little immature. My childish pranks and off-color jokes kind of rubbed the others the wrong way. Jean seemed to have a good sense of humor about it, but Scott, the Professor, and Mr. McCoy didn’t really appreciate it. I think that sort of delayed the decision to let me join the team in the field. It took over a year for me to earn my role in the X-men. I probably could have earned them sooner if I had only realized what I was lacking. For once my parents’ work ethic did kick in and I trained harder to get my chance.  It seems so blatantly obvious now, but I really did struggle to wrap my brain around the Professor’s reasons. It wouldn’t be the last time I was painfully slow on the uptake.

Bobby clenched his fist, crushing the ice rose he created in his hand. His frustration boiled over as he came full circle. Everything that was making him so miserable was stemming from the same source. He refused to acknowledge, whether subconsciously or consciously, the most obvious flaws in himself. It wasn’t just a product of immaturity. It was a major flaw he saw in himself. Lorna saw it too and she made him confront it.

“Damn…you were right, Lorna,” said Bobby in a low tone.

Sighing to himself, he closed his eyes and slouched down on the couch. It didn’t seem right that a full fledged superhero would be struggling with something so painfully normal. This was the kind of stuff regular teenagers who couldn’t freeze things with their fingertips dealt with. It further proved just how wrong Magneto had been during his whole superiority rant. Mutants and humans really weren’t all that different at the most of levels.

Talk about being the butt of my own joke. Why does the truth have to be so painful? I go way too far out of my way to avoid it. Even if it’s for a good reason, it still boarders on self-delusion.

The sad part is I kind of needed that delusion. When I joined the X-men, I got more thrills than I ever could have imagined. I got to fly around, fight crime, save lives, and protect people who didn’t have the luxury of superpowers. Being a free runner sure helped get me started and the rush I got was enough to quench my seemingly endless thirst for adventure. But with that craving satisfied, I was able to dedicate my efforts into satisfying another that plenty teenage boys deal with…women.

It’s not like dating was taboo in the X-men. I watched my own teammates hook up, go out, and make love in ways both classic and dirty. I still joked around about girls and stuff, but the truth was I was serious about finding that special someone of my own. Being in the X-men, nothing comes easy. Relationships are no exception. First, there’s finding the time to put into a relationship. The Xavier Institute is notorious for outrageous schedules. Second, there’s the whole mutant barrier. Some people are just really turned off by mutants. There’s no way around it sometimes. Third and most importantly, there’s that annoying thing called chemistry and when your own biology acts as a constant reminder that makes any meaningful reaction fizzle out at best.

What helped most for me was when the X-men de-masked. When we stopped covering our faces, that made it easier to get to know someone because we didn’t have to hide our powers as much anymore. I tried going out a few times, but once the initial thrill of me being a superhero wore off the ladies lost interest fast. It turns out what celebrities say is true. It’s hard when you can’t find someone who loves you just for you. My solution was to turn to the internet and that’s how I met Lorna.

It was nothing fancy. She was part of this online chat group for mutants looking for support. Her powers just started manifesting so I reached out to her. When I saw her picture, I was even more intrigued. The fact she lived in New York helped a great deal as well. I think I was the first person she met who really understood her plight. I made her laugh a few times and she asked to meet me. Disregarding what everybody says about meeting people on the internet, I went with it and wouldn’t you know it? We fell for each other.

What we had was special. On one of our early dates, we got attacked by Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. For most relationships that would qualify as a major roadblock. For us, it only made our relationship stronger. I was like her white knight in ice-covered armor. I helped her make sense of the confusing world all mutants faced. In return she gave me her love, her support, and some very memorable nights in bed. Even if she looked awesome naked, I probably should have seen the red flags.

First, there were her powers. Being able to control magnetism and not knowing who her real father was? I can’t remember how many times the others pointed that out to me, but I always brushed it off. That was definitely not smart because avoiding it only made things more difficult when the truth came out.

And boy did it come out. During the whole uprising on Genosha when Lorna learned Magneto was her father, she got a pretty rough taste of the messy world of human/mutant affairs. I could have prepared her for it. I could have made it easier for when we confronted each other. It sure was awkward, getting around this notion of me being an X-man and her being Magneto’s daughter. Her mother being sick sure didn’t help either. But it didn’t tear us apart. For a while I thought it brought us closer. Now I realize it sewed the seeds of our own destruction.

The young mutant opened his eyes and looked down at his hands. Clenching his fists again, he formed another ball of ice. This time he skillfully shaped it so that it formed the face of Lorna. It would have been easier to just get one of the pictures he still had of her, but X-men weren’t known for taking shortcuts. He needed to look at her face in some form. That way it was easier to make sense of all the emotions he was still struggling with.

“Maybe I was right too. And in a ways, we were both wrong as well,” he said distantly.

He thought about his words for a moment. When he said them they sounded pretty stupid. He ended up re-absorbing the ice that made up Lorna’s face and shaking his head.

“Great…now I’m confusing myself all over again.”

I should have seen it. She should have seen it too. Like when she had that strange moment during Magneto’s trial…we might as well have put up bill boards outside our rooms. We were seriously not seeing eye-to-eye on some very important things. I foolishly thought it was the stress of her mother’s cancer getting to her. A five-year-old could have made sense of it. Again, I kept avoiding it.

Then it happened again, another mission that ended with the X-men saving the world and this time there was no way around it. Lorna’s mother died and that essentially put her past the point of no return. From that moment on, we were never going to be on the same page. She went on a path that I couldn’t follow. She decided to stay with her father and be the conscious he seemed to utterly lack. In a ways that’s a noble decision. In others it’s downright stupid. I don’t care if she is his daughter. Magneto is still Magneto. I’ll never see past that. She has somehow and I don’t know what to make of it. To make matters worse, she didn’t even give me a chance!

I loved Lorna. I honest to god fell for this girl. She fell for me too…just not enough to see the world from my perspective. Perhaps I didn’t love her enough to see the world from hers either. In that sense maybe we both really are to blame. I’m not the asshole and neither is she. Is this what I’m not getting? Is this another case of me being too slow to realize the obvious?

Bobby’s demeanor lifted somewhat. Perhaps he was beating himself up needlessly. He should have made sense of this mess by now. All this moping wasn’t getting him anywhere. Between Kitty’s overly blunt words and the more tactful support from the others, the signs were there. He was making the same mistakes again. He was failing to confront the obvious.

“Heh…that’s it, isn’t it? I really am that bone-headed,” said Bobby.

He actually found himself laughing. It seemed fitting for a lifelong lover of the lighter side. This time he was laughing at himself. He was the butt of the joke. Bobby Drake for all his poor maturity was fessing up. The frustration and anger was still there. I just had a different perspective.

So I guess that’s the big secret. I’m the butt of my own joke. I lived in a fantasy land with Lorna, ignoring the signs that we may not be right for each other because I enjoyed the fantasy too much. I was basically closing my eyes and putting my fingers in my eyes while everyone else was laughing at the joke already. How’s that for irony?

Call it immaturity. Call me a class clown. Hell, call me anything. I’m not the kind of guy who takes himself too seriously. I can’t be that guy. Lorna wanted me to be that way. Cyclops and most of the X-men want me to be that way to some extent. That’s just not going to happen. Just as Lorna will never give up on her father, I’ll never be that guy who can’t see the lighter side. It’s as big a part of who I am as my ice powers. Hell, it’s part of what makes me the coolest member of the team in more ways than one.

I am what I am. We are who we are. That’s what Professor Xavier has taught us and it doesn’t just apply to mutants. I’ve lost Lorna and there’s nothing I can do about it. She’s made her decision. Now I have to make mine. Am I going to keep avoiding the obvious? Or am I going to try to move on? I may take longer than most people to come around, but I always get there once I take that first step. That’s how we move forward. We just have to be ourselves.

I’m Bobby Drake, the Iceman and jokester extraordinaire. It’s time I start acting like it on the road to heartbreak recovery. And I know just how to begin.

He laughed for another minute or so before taking a deep breath rising up from the couch. The time for moping was over. Bobby Drake never shied away from a challenge and he wasn’t going to start now. He had a broken heart and a world reeling from Magneto’s extinction plot, but that wasn’t going to get him down. He wouldn’t let it.

In the spirit of getting back to who he was, the young mutant grabbed the remote control from the table and turned on the TV. He then flipped to the one love in his life that would never break his heart.

“Cartoons…is there anything they can’t do?” said Bobby as he sat back down on the couch, “I’m ready, world! Let the healing begin.”

End of Supreme Reflections Volume 2

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