Title: Winter

Author: foggynite

Fandom: X-men Comics

Rating: PG-13, mostly for language

Pairing: Iceman (Bobby Drake)/Northstar (Jean Paul Beaubier)

Spoilers: Up to Uncanny X-men #429, but if you don't recognize it, then it's not a spoiler, hm?

Summary: Northstar sees if he can thaw the Iceman.

Disclaimer: Not mine. No-sirree Bob. Although why Bob would care, I don't know.

Notes: Marvel finally came right out and said Northstar has a crush on Bobby, so what does Bobby do when he hears Northstar's gay? He goes and kisses the first female amenable to the idea, even as we find out he never slept with his ex-girlfriend, Lorna, and has a truly disastrous dating record. In my world, guess what that adds up to. That's right. A Repressed!Bobby fic. Enjoy.

********************

So, he has to admit it to himself. He's been watching Jean-Paul. Ever since Annie told him that Jean-Paul was... like *that* he's been watching the Canadian. Looking for clues maybe. Some sort of indication of what apparently everyone else knows that Bobby missed.

So, maybe he's a little annoyed that no one thought to mention Northstar's sexual orientation to him. Not that he knows what he would've done had he known earlier, but the fact remains that there was gossip that Bobby wasn't privy to, and that hurts in a school yard kind of way. Which is childish, but true.

And maybe part of him is studying how everyone else looks at Jean Paul now. Maybe he's curious to see how they react in a purely sociological kind of way. How they talk to him, how they look at him. How they treat him like another human being and not some freak.

Not that Bobby could be interested in their reactions for any personal reasons. Not at all.

But... He is interested in how Jean Paul deals with it.

*****************

"Hey."

"Hello, Robert."

"Y'know, 'Robert' doesn't sound half as dorky when you say it with the accent."

"...Were you in need of something?"

"What? Oh. Um. Not really. Just checking, on things, and all that. Because that's what Warren told me to do. Check things out. The equipment, I mean. Not that I would be checking you out, because that's not what he meant, and there was no way I was thinking about your equipment. Nope."

"...I see."

"Yeah. So. Here I am. Checking on all that leather. The outfits, I mean. Because the prof has some sort of bondage thing going on now. Hank said he saw it in a movie and thought we'd look cool. Not that I don't mind wearing leather. It's better than a speedo and boots. Not that that's what I was wearing before. Well, kinda. But I was a kid, y'know, and some things are forgivable, like Scott's sweaters or Warren's cologne or Hank's really bad jokes. Well, maybe not the sweaters, unless you're Mister Rogers and I really-"

"Robert?"

"Yeah?"

"Here's an inventory of the equipment storage. Considering that I was consigned to repairs, I decided to catalogue the contents as well for easier reference in the future."

"Oh. Hey, cool. Thanks. That was gonna be my punishment for next week..."

"Hm."

"That was a joke..."

"I see. Well. I'm sure you have other things to do...?"

"Yeah... Yeah. I do... Um, look, Jean Paul..."

"Yes, Robert?"

"Um... Geez, is that eyebrow thing another mutant talent? Um, yeah, never mind. Look, I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry, for, y'know, doubting you and all. With the whole Warren and Paige thing. Cuz I know you were just following orders, and Warren can give stupid orders, and I didn't mean to threaten you-Well, okay, I *did* mean to threaten you, but that doesn't mean I *should* have given the circumstances, but I wasn't really thinking and I just kinda needed to blow off some steam and-"

"Robert?"

"Yeah?"

"Could you perhaps ask me what you wanted to already?"

"Oh. Yeah. Um. Would you like to go for coffee with me?"

"Only if we take my car."

"There's nothing wrong with my car! Why does everyone assume something horrible will happen to them in it?"

"Probably because even Dr. McCoy cannot ascertain how it continues to run while being held together by duct tape and wire hangars."

"Number one, duct tape is the universal solution to every problem. Number two, it's clotheslines, not hangars."

"I need to stop for gas first, but where would you like to go?"

"I know a great bookstore."

*********************

They try to be quiet about it. Or at least, Bobby does. He never calls their sojourns out to town 'dates,' per se. Not even in his head, where he knows things aren't as private as they should be. He thinks of them as pleasant evenings spent in the company of a friend-with-benefits.

Said friend being a devilishly sexy Canadian with washboard abs and very flexible legs. And Bobby tells himself he's just lonely, that his pride and self-esteem still hurt from when Annie dropped him like week-old fish to run to Havok. Then he tells himself that it's just sex, because he hasn't gotten laid in a long time-like, since college-and the lust will fade soon and things can go back to the way they were, as long as Jean-Paul doesn't tell anyone.

And part of him is ashamed that he's hiding it. Hiding himself. But the fear is there. His father and all those years of anger-hate-hurt between them because of a genetic condition Bobby can't help. The way Scott and Warren used to joke about queers back when it was just the five of them. Bobby's impressionable years, and he blames the hiding habit on that.

Because he's lost so many opportunities to his mutancy that he doesn't want to give up this last bit of normalcy, even if it is just empty motions on his part. He tells himself that maybe he just hasn't met the right girl. That maybe the next one will be the one he settles down with. But as attractive as he finds women, none can really satisfy him, not the way he wants.

And that scares him.

What scares him more, though, is the fact that Jean-Paul has wormed his way so easily into Bobby's every conscious thought and decision. That he's happy with Jean-Paul

It's the happiness that scares him the most.

********************

"Well what did you expect me to tell them?"

"Perhaps that we were merely going for drinks somewhere? Not that I was 'desperately lonely for company' and that you were 'sacrificing' your precious self 'on the altar of my loserhood.' Is that even a word?"

"It was a joke, JP. A joke. They do have those in Canada, right?"

"Why didn't you tell them the truth?"

"Woah, woah, woah. This is not bare-Bobby's-soul time. This is mock-the- stick-up-Northstar's-ass time. And what I choose to tell my friends about my personal life is none of your business."

"Considering the things I've let you do to my ass, I think it *is* my business."

"Oh, for-"

"You have lived with these people since you were a teenager. You fight beside them, you joke, you smile, and you lie through your teeth."

"I do not lie!"

"You lie everyday. At least to yourself, first."

"Oh, fuck you. I'm sorry we can't all be poster boys for GLAAD."

"Why does it upset you so much? What is so terrible about them knowing?"

"Maybe I don't want to be a freak among the freaks, alright? Maybe I think being a 'mutie' entitles me to enough criticism and hate that I don't want to add 'fag' to the list of crimes, too?"

"So instead you choose to ridicule me, the one everyone knows is a 'fag' so that maybe they won't notice the fact that you're one, too?"

"This isn't some after-school special, all right? I just don't think anyone in the house needs to know about us. The prof and Jean probably already do, and I don't want to spread it any further."

"Robert-and I sincerely mean this-Fuck you."

"Where are you-- Aw. Damn it."

**************************

Jean-Paul is fuming-angry-furious-running out of adjectives to describe the depth of his emotions towards Bobby at the moment. Of all the immature, ignorant things to say, to do--

It's not as though Jean-Paul was obvious about his infatuation. He saw someone attractive, his body reacted, yet he said nothing. Iceman was the one to approach him, not the other way around, and for Bobby to-

He snarls and dives through another cloud.

So maybe he over-reacts sometimes. And maybe the thought that Bobby is just using him, and is willing to admit that, makes him a little upset. Maybe he's decided to have a crush on the most closeted, repressed-

He lands on the shore of the lake, anger beginning to cool.

It's not Bobby's fault. It's not his fault. It just is, and that's what pisses him off.

*******************

"Hey. Hey! Wait up."

Jean-Paul slows his pace, but does not turn towards the breathless voice.

"Thanks." Subdued, grateful tone, and Jean-Paul resists the urge to study the face beside him.

They walk in silence, shoulder to shoulder. When Jean-Paul finally does risk a glance over, Bobby is studying the lake. Light blue eyes meet, though, and Bobby grins sheepishly.

"So I'm an ass, okay?"

"I won't argue with that."

"Yeah, didn't think you would."

More silence.

"So I'm an ass with issues..."

"To put it mildly."

"I just-"

Jean Paul stops to face him when he doesn't continue. "You just what?"

Bobby blinks, then blushes and looks away.

"I didn't think you'd really want me."

"I think I have made that clear on numerous occasions--"

"No. I mean. If I tell them. If I let them know, then they're gonna think back over all these years and not know what to make of all the relationships I've had, granted all failed relationships, and I know some of the original team aren't going to be too happy, and they probably won't say it to me, because I'm me, but you're still pretty new and that kinda makes you fair game, and you'll probably have to put up with the whole 'you queerified Bobby' spiel I can just see Warren giving you, and it's really not a good idea to make waves in the tight knit little ant hill society we've got going on here, but-"

Bobby is ignoring all of his motions to shut up, so Jean-Paul just steps forward and grabs him by the shoulders.

"Will you listen for a moment?" He waits for Bobby to nod. "If I'm with someone, then I want people to know it. That's a promise I made to myself years ago, because I refuse to hide who I am for anyone's sake. If you can't accept that, then we should stop this now."

Bobby is silent for a moment, staring at Jean-Paul's collar. But when he looks up, his eyes are determined.

"I want to be with you. Just give me a little time to let people know, though. I'm pretty sure once I tell Warren, the entire house will hear it..."

"I am willing to wait, but not too long."

"Great."

They continue walking along the shore, Bobby's fingers getting twisted up in Jean-Paul's of their own accord.

"Oh, and just for the record-"

"Oui?'

"Flying off in the middle of an argument? Totally cheating, man."

And Jean Paul laughs, but doesn't promise not to do it again.

*********************

His mouth tastes like the first breath of winter, a sharp metallic tang that promises heavy snowfall. Jean-Paul has always liked the frozen months, where the world buries itself under layer upon layer of cold.

Warm slick mouth, hot skin under his fingers, solid body pressed against him. And it all radiates frost. It's covered in sharp little veins of ice and fear and denial.

Bobby intrigues him. Makes him want to dig under the snow until he finds some sort of truth, something solid that won't melt when brought to light.

Fingers in his hair, pulling him gently, inevitably, towards the bed, and he isn't sure if they should do this. Frustration tears at him, because he is never unsure, but this man makes him so.

"Quit thinking so much..."

Murmured against his mouth, accompanied by a moist lick at the corner of his lips, and Jean-Paul decides that thinking is overrated.

********************

Finis, for what it's worth...