Conditional Love

Author's Note: Takes place before X2, maybe even before X-Men 1.

"What are you doing for spring break?"

John looked up from the flame of his lighter. "Same thing I do every time, Drake--nothing."

Bobby sighed. He knew that most of the school had no home to go to, but he'd never been able to get John to confide in him about his past. He should have learned by now to stop asking questions like that. "I'm sorry, John." He paused, and looked over at him. "You could come with me," he suggested. "My parents wouldn't mind."

John leaned against the wall, and shot Bobby a wolf-like grin. "Oh I think they might."

Bobby rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Well, I'm sure it would be fine as long as you leave your lighter behind. I'm kind of fond of my house."

"I don't go anywhere without my lighter, Bobby, you know that."

"Come with me, John," Bobby said quietly.

"Come with you and what?" John snapped. "Pretend to be someone I'm not?"

"It's not so horrible as you think," Bobby said. "We could have a normal life for awhile, John. We could leave this behind for a few weeks."

"I never wanted a normal life," John said. "And I don't want to spend even a few weeks without my powers. I would never last. I'd just get us both in trouble."

Bobby wanted to argue, but he didn't. He knew John was right. "Okay," he agreed hesitantly. "But you're going to have to write me and keep me up to date on things here."

John rolled his eyes. "I don't write."

Bobby grinned knowingly. "Then I suppose someone else wrote in all those many composition books under your bed?"

John glared at him. "If you want to know something, call. I'm not wasting money on stamps."

"Fine, fine. I'll call," Bobby laughed as he moved to his closet and pulled out his suitcase.

John watched him with a frown. "You're really excited about this, aren't you?" he asked in confusion.

Bobby furrowed his brow at the question. "Of course," he said.

"I don't get it," John said with a shake of his head.

Bobby paused with the suitcase half open. "What do you mean you don't get it?"

"I don't get why you're looking forward to it. You couldn't drag me into that suburbia hell." John clicked his lighter open, and sparked another flame.

"They're my family, John," Bobby told him softly.

"That's where you're wrong, Bobby. We're your family, not them. They're just an illusion. They aren't real."

"What are you talking about?" Bobby asked in frustration. "You're not making any sense. I miss them, John. I need to see them. What's so hard to understand about that?"

"They don't know about your powers, Bobby," John said angrily. "Doesn't it bother you that you can't tell them? That if you did, everything you have there would shatter?"

"That wouldn't happen," Bobby said assuredly. "I know them, they love me, John, and that wouldn't happen."

"My parents loved me once," John said vaguely. "But then I found out their love wasn't worth a damn, because whatever they felt for me disappeared the moment they realized I was different."

"My parents won't do that," Bobby told him gently. "I'm sorry what happened to you, John. But they aren't like that. My parents do love me."

John got to his feet, and trained his intense gaze on his best friend. "They love you?" he asked. "How could they? They don't even know you."

John left Bobby alone then--left him more alone than he had ever been.