Co-written with Adrienne, my saucy pirate wench writing partner in crime, so. Umm. In conjunction with her, a joint work. Now, some Old Guard ficcers will probably remember another Bobby-centric story by the obscenely talented Poi Lass called "First, Do No Harm" (and if you don't remember it, we highly recommend that you read it right now because it is one of the bestbestBEST Bobby stories out there), told in this exact style (fluffy e-mail exchanges between two characters). "First, Do No Harm" was a huge inspiration for this, and we don't mean to plagiarize her (go! read it even if you have already!), but we also remind y'all that the epistolary story has a long tradition of--oh, you know. We apologize to her if she's reading this for mucking with her format idea.

Anyway. On with the show.

"Wayward"

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Thursday, May 08, 2003 12:19 AM

To: zippo_inferno@yahoo.com

Sub: (none)

stop being a dick. come back, we need to think of a prank for scott to cherr him up

--bobster

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Thursday, May 08, 2003 12:21 AM

To: zippo_inferno@yahoo.com

Sub: (none)

that was supposed to say cheer. im not a moron

--bobster

***

From: zippo_inferno@yahoo.com

Date: Friday, May 09, 2003 07:45 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: re: (none)

Bobby,

Come back? So I can hang around Xavier's mansion learning high school shit when all over the place mutants are dying because nobody's interested in actually fighting for us? If you want to keep pretending you buy into Xavier's wannabe satyagraha schtick you can stay around with your girlfriend and everyone else who's more interested in being a martyr or pretending they're still a kid than actually getting anything done. Remind me who's being a dick?

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Friday, May 09, 2003 05:07 PM

To: zippo_inferno@yahoo.com

Sub: i paid attention during the lecture on ghadni too you know

god. do u always have to be so full of urself? satyarassdown & listen up. marie misses u. jubilation misses u. fuckin kitty misses you, and she hates ur guts. fuck, i sorta miss u. just get home

--the amazing icicle (what do you think, cool new codename eh?)

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 10, 07:37

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: (none)

Bobby,

If they miss me so much tell them to come join the Brotherhood. We _are_ taking applications and all that shit.

Oh yeah, and like I don't know that Xavier's putting you up to this? Im not that fucking naive.

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 10, 12:13 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: HA!

Oh yeah, and like I don't know that Xavier's putting you up to this? Im not that fucking naive.

YOU made a TYPO! st fucking john the magnifisent, made a typo!

--too cool for school. seriously. cant believe cue-ball is giving us finals anyway after all the shit that happened, did i tell u about that? well, he is. and it blows. anyway. still too cool for school.

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 10, 12:15 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: p.s.

cue-ball doesnt know im writing u. marie doesnt even know

--bobby bobberson

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 11, 01:44 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Fuck. Off.

mag·nif·i·cent

P

Pronunciation Key (mg-nf-snt)

adj.

1.Splendid in appearance; grand: a magnificent palace.

2.Grand or noble in thought or deed; exalted.

3.Outstanding of its kind; superlative: a magnificent place for sailing. See Synonyms at grand.

[Middle English, from Old French, from magnificence, splendor, from Latin magnificentia, from magnificent- comparative

and superlative stem of magnificus, magnificent. See magnific]

Though I appreciate the backhanded compliment.

Pyro

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 11, 01:52 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: p.s.

You didn't tell Marie you're writing me?

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 11, 11:30 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Re: re: p.s.

of course i didnt. why would i tell her? shit, its not like she fucking trusts me with anything

--bobbo the clown

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 11, 11:30 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: re: re: p.s.

Bobby,

What the fuck are you talking about? She's your girlfriend, she trusts you enough to share spit with you, doesn't she?

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 11, 07:33 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: a funny thing happened on the way to the danger room...

...i overherad marie telling kitty that logan was more of a man then id ever be after the shit at alkali lake. course, she didnt tell me to my face. still too damn afraid to even try touching me, let alone be honest with me about him.

not that you'd know, cuz ur not here.

asshole.

--bobby-runs-with-wolves

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Sunday, May 12, 07:01 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: a funny thing happened on the way to the danger room...

Bobby,

Well, gee whiz Kid Drake, I'm sorry to hear that you suddenly noticed your girlfriend has a crush on the amazing sideburned beer-drinking man-beast, and that for some twisted and diseased reason he seems to be reciprocating after a fashion.

God, he's like old enough to be her father. Grandfather, if what I hear from Jamie is true.

Not like I couldn't have told you that, though, or for that matter not that Kitty couldn't have, or Jubilation, or anyone in the fucking school. Probably even Artie and Jones the blinking TV kid knew.

And I'm not there BECAUSE I HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO. LIKE BEING A FREEDOM FIGHTER.

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Sunday, May 12, 12:19 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Okay, now you're pissing me off...

I'm going to be very clear about this. I'm running the letter through Microsoft Word and grammar-checking to make sure I don't make any mistakes, because I don't want to be unclear here.

You are NOT a freedom fighter.

You're not even a terrorist. Terrorists are fanatics who believe in their cause, who think that it's right and good and true. You joined up with Mag-fucking-neto (shut the hell up, Microsoft grammar check, I know what I'm doing here) because you were upset that...well, fuck, Johnny-boy, I don't know. Maybe you wanted to hurt Marie, maybe you wanted to hurt me, maybe this is you being a dip-shit as usual. Hell, maybe you wanted to try and bone Mystique.

The point is you don't know what the fuck you're doing, and that scares me.

--Bobby

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Sunday, May 12, 12:21 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: p.s. the empire strikes back

marie's been spending an awful lot of time with peter lately. think i have anything to worry about?

--bobby fett

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Sunday, May 12, 12:22 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: p.p.s. the pahntom menace

i mean its not like im scared or nething, its just that marie seems to have athing for manly men with pecs the size of buicks.

--janga-bob fett

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Sunday, May 12, 05:44 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: Okay, now you're pissing me off...

First of all, what the fuck is this with all the little insecure messages about Marie? Do you think I'm just going to forget about what you just said just because you're worried about your pecs not matching up with Colossus'? I don't know what I'm doing? No, Bobby-boy, YOU don't know what the fuck you're doing, because YOU don't know what it's really like to be a mutant. I joined up with Magneto because he, unlike Xavier, is actually interested in telling all the people who hate mutants: don't fuck with us. You don't know what it's like to be hated. You don't know what it's like for the mutants who can't hide it. Fuck, you found out you were a mutant when you were living in the suburbs and then you came straight here. Nobody knew what you were who would hate you for it, or try to kill you for it. Your fucking parents didn't even know until a week ago. You claim that we aren't freedom fighters, but all the X-Men are are a bunch of Uncle Toms who don't want to fight for your rights because you can pass, and your fucking policy of appeasement is going to be the death of all mutantkind.

Pyro

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Sunday, May 12, 05:51 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: p.p.s. the pahntom menace

You think Marie's cheating on you with Peter? I wouldn't worry too much about it.

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Monday, May 13, 10:29 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: hiding?

oh jeeze man, get over urself. what do u know about hiding? ur a 5'10" burnet with good cheekbones and nice lips.

--billy bob

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Monday, May 13, 10:33 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: and dont be stupid

...marie cant cheat. thats her gig. i think wed all notice if she started walking aroudn in shiny metal body armor.

itd make the pseudokissing that much harder.

did i tell u about th epsuedokissing?

--bilbobby baggins

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Monday, May 13, 10:33 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: and dont be stupid

I assume you meant "pseudokissing".

Which still begs the question--huh?

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Monday, May 13, 08:50 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: bet you didnt think i knew what 'pseudo' meant

...though i had to look it up first.

yeah. we got these things that r like condoms for the lips. they suck so much ass, but theyre better than nothing. its kind of sick to see us use them.

ill loan you a set if you come home in time for scotts pick-me-up barbeque.

--bobbarina the ballerina

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Monday, May 13, 08:55 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: ...

...did you even _hear_ about jean?

--bobby

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 07:15 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: bet you didnt think i knew what 'pseudo' meant

Diaphragms? Are you talking about diaphragms? You have to use diaphragms to make out? Fuck, that has to suck.

...You'll loan me a pair? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Pyro

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 07:17 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: What?

Hear what about Jean?

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 05:30 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Re: What?

jeans dead, bro.

--bobby

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 10:30 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: re: What?

You're shitting me.

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 09:13 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Re: re: re: What?

nope. died saving us at alkali after _you_ left.

--Bobby

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 10:30 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: re: re: re: What?

Fuck.

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Thursday, May 22, 01:17 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Been a while...

...Since I last wrote to you. So I figured I'd drop you a line. Life with the Brotherhood is really great, man. Magneto knows what he's doing and seriously, it's like I'm training for a purpose now. It's hard work, I have to do all the boring grunt shit since I'm the junior member, but it's worthwhile. It's for a cause.

And Mystique is naked _all the time_; did you know that? It's so awesome. It's like she doesn't even _care_ that I'm eyeing her all the time; dude, you'd never catch Professor Munroe like that. It was always "John, stop staring!" or "John, stop burning stuff!" with her. But Mystique's cooler than that.

We've been doing some recruiting, and some retrieving of old members; some of them are cooler than others. There's this guy Toad that we busted out of jail--did you hear about that?--and he's, like, this weird acrobat frog guy. Green, which I guess isn't that weird considering there were _werewolves_ running around Xavier's. He's got a gripe with Storm, I think, cause he bitches about her all the damn time. Oh, yeah, he's green. Did I mention the green? Apparently he was the inspiration for that Gutter Dogs album "Dishwater Boy"; have you listened to it? All about mutant rights and shit. Kind of easy to forget that it was written by a flatscan. Magneto doesn't really like that story, but whatever.

I'm sorry about Jean.

Nobody else died, did they?

Pyro

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Thursday, May 22, 06:22 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: since when do you listen to the g-dogs?

arent they a little too mainstream for u? dude they have a video on vh1.

and dont talk about jean, dont ask about jean, dont say shit about jean. u dont ahve the right.

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Sunday, May 25, 11:47 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: so...

we had a mass for jean today. cue-ball found this awesome leftist-liberal priest who didnt even freak when he saw the blue elf. logan didnt show up, he was off licking his wounds or something. cue-balls a good speaker at these things. said some good things. scott was like rock, man, it was scary.

but overall it was good.

shouldve been here, bro.

--bobby

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Friday, May 30, 08:13 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: wtf?

mother fo god, john, what the hell was that? who had the brilliant idea to attack pine bluff aresenal? are u all right? the newsfeed cut out after u torched that tower and fucking hell man when did u learn how to twist ur fire in rings like that, it was so fucking cool for something done by a moron who doesnt even know to call his best friend and say hes still alive after his big fucking attack on the main weapons depot of the us fucking military goes shitty.

...

scott said u guys were gone by the time they got there. u guys are good at covering ur tracks, even when ur fleeing the us military. are u all right? say ur alright. ud better fucking be or im icing magneto personally.

--bobby the barbarian

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 31, 04:02 AM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: Re: wtf?

Bobby,

Oh fuck, Bobby. There were all these soldiers and shit and Mystique said that the base was going to be empty, but it wasn't, it was a trap, there were all these government agents and they had these guns that turned off our powers and they captured Toad and Sabretooth and Mystique's pretty fucked up and it's just me and Magneto and he's going crazy, Bobby, he's abso-fucking-lutely furious, completely mad, I think he would kill me if it weren't for the fact that I'm helping him take care of Mystique. There were these soliders, Bobby, all these fucking soliders _dying_, I torched the entire goddamn base, one of them was this chick and the look on their faces--fuck, Bobby, it was worse than the police that time at your hou

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 31, 06:47 AM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Re: re: wtf?

john. come home. _now_.

--bobby

***

From: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Date: Saturday, May 31, 10:18 PM

To: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Sub: (none)

Bobby,

I think I killed a guy. Probably more. I can't come home.

***

From: freezerburn@hotmail.com

Date: Saturday, May 31, 10:21 PM

To: hot.head@brotherhood.org

Sub: Re: (none)

johnny-boy, i know ur online now, u just emailed me. fuckin'a dude, call home. _please_.

***

"Hello?"

"...Bobby?"

"John! John, Jesus Christ man, are you all right?"

"What do you think, Bobby?"

"I think you're too damn stubborn to tell me that you need some help. Where are you right now?"

"Can't say."

"John, just tell me where you are. I'll come get you and bring you home--"

"Ha, I can't come home, you dipshit. I'm a fucking fugitive from the U.S. federal government. I'm probably wanted in all fifty states."

"You know, I don't think I could name all fifty if I tried."

"Bobby--"

"I'm serious, it's always a tricky thing for me. We learned this song in elementary school called 'Fifty Nifty' and it was supposed to help you remember. How did it go? 'Alabama, Alaska'--oh, shit, Alaska. I'm always forgetting Alaska. Are you in Alaska, John? Cause if you are in Alaska, I can come get you. Lots of ice and snow in Alaska."

"No, Bobby, I'm not in Alaska."

"Oh, good. One down, 49 to go.

"...Johnny-boy?"

"Yeah?"

"Oh, good. Just checking if you were still there or if I was just imagining all that heavy, pained breathing."

"Sorry about the breathing. My lungs aren't what they used to be, what with all the running we've been doing from the law and shit."

"..."

"So. What else is new, Bobby?"

"Uhh, well...oh, apparently, get this--Peter's gay."

"What, Peter Rasputin? Mr. I-Have-Muscles-On-Muscles-On--oh, wait, I guess it makes sense if you say it like that."

"Yeah, apparently he's had this giant crush on Logan all this time. Marie's just been trying to help him work through it, since she's closest to him and all that shit."

"No kidding. Peter fuckin' Rasputin's gay?"

"I just said that, aren't you listening to anything I'm saying? He came down to the mess one night and just announced it--he went up to the speaking lectern and just waited till everybody had their eyes on him, and when he had our attention he just dropped it like that. 'Hey everybody, I'm gay.' Then he launched into this thing about how his feelings for a certain rough and tumble member of the faculty were growing more unbearable by the day, and how he needed to come clean before it ate him up. Oh man, you should've seen the reaction. Marie just had this shit-eating grin on her face, but proud too, y'know? Cause she'd helped him through this. Kitty was nearly crying; Christ, that girl cries at everything. And you should've seen Logan, he was about ready to eat his claws. But Cue-Ball just started clapping, and pretty soon the entire mess is thundering with applause, and oh man Logan was so about to just start cutting people up then and there if it weren't for the fact that Scott cracked a smile for the first time in weeks."

"Oh man, you're shitting me, right? He told everybody over dinner that he was gay and that he was in love with Logan? Damn, the art teacher must have been happy to hear that."

"Ha ha, my parents are _still_ confused over what happened there."

"How are your parents doing, anyway? Still asking you to try the upright homo sapiens way of life?"

"Ehh, I don't talk to them anymore, really. Ronnie sent me an e-mail apologizing and asking me to call, and when I did the conversation was one of those."

"Ahh, one of those. Yes, Bobbifred my dear, one of those."

"Well, I can't really blame them. They'd probably have taken it better if _somebody_ didn't blow up half the Boston PD before we left."

"..."

"Shit, John, that's not what I--"

"Look, I should go. I'm on a pay phone, and it's dangerous for me to be out--"

"No! Fuck you, St. John Allerdyce, this is the first time we've spoken to each other in _months_, and you're not about to just up and go on me after five minutes. Please, John, I can't help you unless you tell me where you are. I have it all planned out, too; I'm going to steal the 'bird and come to your rescue."

"Ha ha, great. So you can get arrested too, for aiding and abetting an arsonist and murderer? We attacked a military base, Bobby. We killed people. _I_ killed people. There's an APB out for my arrest in every state from coast to coast, because I fucking killed a guy. More than one guy. Even if I wanted to come back, do you think Xavier would let me?"

"John, please, come home already. The Professor will help--"

"The Professor won't do shit, Bobby! He _doesn't care_. He left Magneto in that prison for _months_ and they were fucking--God, I don't even know what they were, or are, or whatever, but they were _close_, close like us, closer than us, and he left him there to be _tortured_. Fuck, Bobby, all I want to do is come home and--I want to come home, but I can't. I just can't."

"I don't give a flying fuck what Cue-Ball thinks, I'll come rescue you by myself. We'll run from everybody together. Think of it, it'll be a circus act--Fire and Ice, the amazing Pyro and the fabulous Iceman! It's gonna be sweet, man, just you wait and--"

"Bobby, don't you fucking get it? It's not enough for us to want to save each other all the time. There's a point where we have to be bigger than that. I threw my lot in with Magneto and the Brotherhood. I have to see this thing through."

"Goddammit, whatever happened to seeing _us_ through? I've been going without my best friend for almost a month now, not knowing if he's alive or dead, having to make do with a bunch of fucking _e-mails_ that don't tell me shit, and you're suddenly this asshole who tries to belittle me all the time, I mean, you've always been an asshole but you were _my_ asshole, and now you're Magneto's little junior pep squad member? You fucking bailed on us just when we needed you most, when _I_ needed you most. You fucking left me."

"...Look, Bobby, it's not that simple--"

"Yes it is! We're the good guys, he's the bad guy, we fight the bad guys! End of story, except you don't seem to get that part!"

"Bobby, you're not listening! It's not that simple, it's never that simple! I know we've fucked up, and God Bobby I'm so motherfucking scared right now I can't stand it, but I still think that this is the better choice. Better to die on your feet, fighting, than on your knees begging for acceptance. Do you know what was being produced at that base, Bobby? Sentinels! Machines designed to kill mutants on sight. Enough firepower on one of them to take out a brigade of Abrams tanks, and these things were designed to _kill us all_. I'm scared, yeah, I fucked up and I did some bad shit, but this is still the better choice. You can't tell me it's wrong to try and fight against that, no matter what the cost."

"What's the cost, John? Who's going to clear your side of the ledger? At this rate, not even I'm going to be willing to pay your debt for you, and I know you're strong, but seriously man, I don't think you have what it takes to clear that debt alone."

"...Look, uh, I'd better get going, Magneto's probably about ready to come out of hiding and tear this city apart if I don't come back with the groceries soon."

"...Yeah, okay, whatever. Will you call again?"

"I'll write, when I can. Is that enough?"

"I guess it'll have to do, won't it?"

"Yeah. Damn. Y'know, I miss kicking your ass at Tekken and talking about Marie's ass and trying to figure out what prank to pull on Scott to get him good and riled up. I miss you, Popsicle."

"I...I miss you too, Zippo. Hey asshole--take care of yourself, all right? If you get yourself hurt, the Iceman will cometh to kick your ass for being so stupid. Try to keep that egomaniac Magneto in check, and don't let him push you around."

"You too, Bobby. Hey, if we're talking pushovers, pot meet kettle. Tell Marie how you're feeling, instead of whining to me all the time--"

"Hey, I don't whine!"

"--Yeah you do."

"Well, maybe a little."

"And, uhh. Yeah. Tell Peter that I'm proud of him. And tell the Professor I'm sorry. About Jean, about--

"--About everything."

"...Yeah, I can do that."

"Thanks man."

"Hey, any time Johnny-boy."

"Keep it cool, Popsicle."

"Flame on, Zippo."