Usual run down:
Rating: R (though not for this chapter)
Warnings: fluff, angst, smut, slash
Timeframe: this detached from canon some time ago. Just before JP died and came back evil, one might say. Unfortunately, the current storyline is getting to me, so I have to keep reminding myself not to write JP as bugfuck insane.
Part Twenty Four
A/N: Timeline fudging! I don’t know much about the arc in which Angel meets the Guthrie’s, apart from the fact that he and Paige have sex in front of her mother. Imagine that this never happened. There, don’t you feel better?
Oh, and apparently Paige and Jono split up off screen. Possibly, may never have gone out in the first place (I will be editing this one day, tidy it up for typos and britishisms and some of the worse plot detours). Also, warning for Google French.
Of course he was going home for Christmas. Even when it was really bad, he went home for Christmas. Well, Christmas Eve, at least. Just for a few hours.
This year, it wasn’t bad. He and his father were on friendly terms. They still bickered, but Thanksgiving had reminded Bobby of how good it used to be. How he was still his father’s son.
He hadn’t come out to his parents yet, of course.
He saw that as more sort of a post-Christmas thing. Maybe a just before he left thing. Or an over the phone thing once familial duties were discharged.
“So what’s the plan?” Warren asked him.
“Go home Christmas Eve – ice slide, of course, wouldn’t want to brave that traffic – spend the day, and come back in time for New Year’s Eve. I figure I’ll leave how long I stay open this year. It’s nice to be able to.” Bobby smiled, sipping his coffee. “What about you?”
“I’m meeting Paige’s family.”
Bobby burst out laughing. Warren sounded so apprehensive. He glowered at Bobby, which only made him laugh harder.
“Come on,” he wheezed. “Sam’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. And she’s got a couple of siblings here already too. That kid with the wings. Prettier wings than you.” He grinned. “What, scared they’ll be expecting Jono still?”
Warren gave him the finger. He sighed, smiled weakly, and sat back in his chair.
“It sounds like almost everyone’s going somewhere this year,” he observed. “Not like it used to be.”
“Scott’ll still be here,” Bobby pointed out.
The door behind Warren opened, and he twisted to see who it was. Jean Paul walked in. He was wearing a scarf, a small concession to the weather, and looked unhappy. His eyes met Warren’s, and there was a blur. He was gone.
“…Right.” Bobby bit his lip. “Any guesses?”
“You know him better.” Warren raised his hands. “Where has he been?”
“Probably visiting his sister,” Bobby realised. “Shit. I guess it’s up to me to go and talk to him.”
“No.” Warren reached out and laid a hand on Bobby’s arm. “Look, Bobby, you can’t keep this up. It’s over between you two. You’re not his only friend. If he wants to talk to you, that’s up to him, but you’re not doing yourself any good running after him.”
“He’s not going to talk to anyone,” Bobby said, pulling his hand away. “Who else is he going to go to, Wolverine? Because that’ll help. He’s going to sit and brood and internalise until we wake up one morning and it’s him in the freezer.”
“Not everyone makes for the freezer when they’re depressed.”
“It’d be homelike.”
“We have to take you to Canada one day.” Warren grinned. “You’re too good, you know that? You’re heart’s too big.”
“I pushed him out of a window,” Bobby said. Warren opened his mouth, but Bobby waved him down. “Yes, some of this is about guilt. That doesn’t make it a bad thing. I fucked up.”
“You can’t feel guilty forever, Bobby.”
“How about I just stay in love with him forever?” Bobby stood up. “It didn’t even take me this long to get over Lorna.” He opened and closed his mouth. He let his head fall back, took a deep breath, and huffed it out. “All I want for Christmas is my snarky Canadian athlete boyfriend.”
“Do you want to go to the strip club before or after Christmas?”
“I wasn’t dropping hints!”
And he left to find Jean Paul.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad frame of mind to go snarky Canadian athlete ex-boyfriend hunting. He felt good from talking to Warren.
After the cold and lonely night in the bath tub (would it have killed JP to make just one little attempt to persuade him back?) Bobby had had to face certain truths. It was going to be a long time before JP got less attractive. No matter what people could say about Bobby’s other relationships, this one he well and truly had fucked up all by himself. JP was still attracted to him, as well, but had pride. Or a good sense of self-preservation. Bobby had never had much of either, so he didn’t feel in a position to distinguish.
He was on the roof, no surprise. Hoping he’d steeled himself sufficiently emotionally, Bobby stepped out to join him.
Jean Paul turned to face him. There was a slump in his shoulders Bobby didn’t like to see, and damp tracks down his face. Every resolution Bobby had ever possessed shattered, and he started to move towards him, desperate to hold him.
Jean Paul took a step back. Bobby froze.
“Hi,” Jean Paul said, voice hoarse.
“Your sister.” Bobby couldn’t articulate himself further. His hands clenched in useless fists.
Jean Paul laughed, cold and empty. He started to cough. He turned to the rail that separated them from the tiles, and bent over it.
Jean Paul nodded. Bobby walked up to join him.
Jean Paul tensed, and sighed. “She is still... divided. Strongly. There has been no sign of Jeanne Marie or Aurora. But that... that is to be expected. It is not so much that news, tonight.”
“Then…” Bobby’s fingers twitched, and after a moment of internal argument, he placed a hand on the small of Jean Paul’s back. The other man was hot.
“It is a ridiculous, little thing.”
“It’s really, really upsetting you,” Bobby pointed out.
Jean Paul twitched beneath his hand. Bobby removed it. Jean Paul’s shoulders fell a little further.
“I am forbidden to visit until some progress is made. I seem to make things worse.” His words were clipped. His knuckles were white where he was clenching the rail. “I forget, sometimes. Jeanne-Marie did not accept my sexuality. I did not accept Aurora’s. No wonder that she has no love for me now.”
“What are you going to do?” Bobby turned so he was leaning on the rail. He could not look at Jean Paul face to face, but this was closer.
“I do not know. Stay away. Spend my Christmas with Summers.” Jean Paul’s mouth twisted.
“You could come to mine.”
Jean Paul’s head turned slowly. Bobby half expected some sort of grating, clicking noise. Other than that, his mind was blank. Horribly, irritatingly blank.
“Your father who does not like mutants. Who especially does not like homosexuals. Who no doubt will turn out not to like Canadians.”
Bobby snorted. “Just Winter Olympics athletes,” he said. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said it. You just… what you said about Jeanne Marie. I’m not sure if I can tell my parents. Ever.”
“That is not a coherent reason.”
“Moral support? Access to a really quick getaway?” Bobby smiled hopefully.
“The offer is appreciated, Bobby, but deemed idiotic.” Jean Paul sniffed, and looked down his nose at Bobby. Bobby couldn’t bring himself to mind, and smiled some more. At least Jean Paul seemed to be feeling a little better.
“Yeah,” he said, “it’s a dumb offer. But it’s staying open. I don’t think anyone should spend Christmas alone.”
“I have grown rather used to it.”
Bobby sighed, and put his hand back on Jean Paul’s lower back.
“Big, traditional, family Christmas. My mother will actually succeed in filling you up. My father will offend you in ways you did not know you could be offended. There’ll probably be some football.”
“You deserved better than this, Bobby,” Jean Paul said, stepping closer to him. He placed a hand on Bobby’s shoulder, and rested his chin on Bobby’s forehead. “You should have married your high school sweetheart, and live in a little cottage with a white picket fence, and some very cheerful children.”
Bobby shook his head, dislodging Jean Paul.
“I’d have been bored and trapped and my father,” he said. “And a little freaked out that I was apparently reliving the end of Little Shop of Horrors.”
“The musical, not the original.”
“Well, of course. You didn’t mention any giant alien plants eating New York.” Bobby looked up at his ex. He had one arm almost around him, and he reached the other hand down to entwine in Jean Paul’s. He could still see the strange, smooth tear tracks. He lowered his head, manoeuvred himself so both arms were around his ex, and hugged him. After a moment, Jean Paul hugged back.
“J'ai manqué ceci.”
“You have to stop using language I don’t understand,” Bobby said.
“I missed this.”
“So did I.”
Jean Paul pressed his nose to Bobby’s hair. “What happens if I say yes to your suggestion?”
“This doesn’t,” Bobby said. “Nothing happens. I spend several days pretending to be very straight, and not daring to touch you in even the least sexual of ways.”
“That sounds… safe.”
Bobby kept his mouth shut. It wasn’t safe. It wasn’t safe at all. It would be days of torture, worse than at the mansion by miles. No distractions. No space. No missions.
He tried to put out the flame in his stomach. That little explosive burst of hope, that rekindled everything he still couldn’t put behind him. Jean Paul was not an idiot. Jean Paul had already expressed his opinion of Bobby’s suggestion considering their history.
Christmas was romantic, right? And everything else… they’d just be excuses. Something to blame it on if it didn’t look like it was going to work.
He let go of Jean Paul, trying not to smile too broadly.
* * *
There was this hole where his thoughts ought to be. No, not his thoughts, her thoughts. Just a hole. His sister had never been so cut off from him. He could not think. He could not even try to. A black hole. And now he could not even be with her physically.
Bobby was talking to him. He was aware he was replying. For a moment, Bobby almost succeeded in pulling him out of the hole. It was nice. But it was Bobby.
He wasn’t sure how it happened. He had been vaguely aware of increasing physical contact. And then Bobby had his arms around him.
The sob was too fast for Bobby to register. He wrapped himself around Bobby, and clung on.
“J'ai manqué ceci.” He could barely hear himself past the rushing in his head. It did not even make much sense.
“You have to stop using language I don’t understand.”
Jean Paul swallowed. He tried not to squeeze Bobby tighter. “I missed this,” he breathed. He had.
“So did I.”
The admission hurt him physically. His heart thudded too fast. But… of course Bobby missed this. Bobby was someone who liked physical contact. Bobby was not meant to be single for long.
He buried his face in Bobby’s hair, taking a long, deep breath. He would not get another chance. He could not allow himself it. Bobby was not meant to be single; he had to let go. He was being selfish.
“What happens if I say yes to your suggestion?”
So he could say no. That was why he asked.
“This doesn’t. Nothing happens. I spend several days pretending to be very straight, and not daring to touch you in even the least sexual of ways.”
“That sounds… safe.” Jean Paul lied, lacking even the energy to be sarcastic.
The x-men would not allow him to be alone at Christmas. He knew that. But it would be the wrong sort of not alone. Instead, he would be alone among them, and no doubt irritated and upset by attempts to include him.
He had to let go. He had to let Bobby get on with his life. He couldn’t keep pretending that Bobby could fill the space his sister left. Bobby had left his own space.
But family. A family Christmas. He’d never had one. Even with Jeanne Marie. Even with Joanne. No doubt it would not live up to his imagination. The food would not be as good as he imagined. The rush of gift-opening would be short and unfulfilling. Disappointing, too, when he learns he has chosen wrong and knows he is being lied to. There would be fights. Tears. Drunkenness and prejudice.
He wasn’t sure if he was thinking of a Christmas with his sister and daughter, or with Bobby’s family.
Try as he might, he could not imagine hating it as he would staying at the mansion.
“If you are sure,” he said, and tried to remember how to let go of Bobby.
Apologies for not replying to the person that helped with the nitpicking in my last post. I really did appreciate your advice. When I mentioned rewriting, I am thinking mostly in terms of picking through for lost Britishisms, and typos, though there are some plot segments that need more work (or, at least, more research) which will undergo a more radical change. For the most part, in terms of British vs American English, I tend to think of this as having an British (well, English) narrator, but an American cast. Thus, thoughts and speech should be Americanised, but the narration doesn't have to be. Something I've had to learn to accept after reading fics by Americans set in British fandoms.
Oh, and randomly, does anyone know a good comm for x-men layouts based on the comics? I've not found any so far, and I have a real hankering.