Second Best

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I actually don't do much comic book fiction, which is really surprising. I've been told that there's a review button that makes an author happy when you click it. Give it a whirl and see what happens.

Time. It changes a lot of things but never in any of the ways that are good. It just jerks you forward and all you can do is go with the flow and try to keep your head above water. You can't stop time no matter what kind of mutant power you have. People change. It's how life works.

As I walk down the halls of the mansion I can't really help but feel old. I'm sure the rest of the originals feel the same way sometimes. It would be hard not to feel that way considering how long we've been doing this. We started out when we were just kids. Now look at us, look at me.

I still remember what those days were like even though they seem like a lifetime ago. Above all else, it was fun. Sure we were teenagers who were getting constantly thrown into life-and-death situations but it never felt very serious. It was like a video game. None of us were ever really going to die or get seriously hurt. We'd just save the world, do our homework, hit the town, and do it all again the next day. Nothing would ever change. We'd never have to say goodbye to friends, bury the ones we loved, or end up fighting against the entire world just because of what we were. Time changed all those rules though. It's kinda scary to think about where we all are now compared to where we were when this started so very long ago.

I open the cabinet and reach for a glass. I fill it with tap water and give it a little chill. My eyes drift absently to the window and I look out at the front lawn. The events that occurred there not too long ago still scare me when I think about them. She just dropped all of us in a second without any thought or compassion at all. I was the only one who put up a fight and it was a pretty pathetic one at that. How could I do it though? How could I hurt her when I still love her so much?

A very long time ago I fell in love with a girl named Lorna Dane. She was a beautiful girl with gorgeous, green hair and equally pretty green eyes. She was kind and gentle. She was compassionate and courageous. She was a perfect ten on anybody's list. I fell for her when we were just kids and still to this day I carry a torch for her that's so hot it would melt even the coldest of ice.

Then time had to come and ruin everything. Time and him. I guess it's not fair to blame Alex for all this but I'm runnin' outta people. I guess it's the easiest way to handle all this. After all, he dumped her at the altar. Of course she's gonna be pretty upset about it. It's probably childish of me to think that he made all this happen. He made her love him by being so much better than me, by offering her more than I ever could. Worse than that, he did it again with Annie. Pretty childish but would anybody expect anything different from me?

I guess when you get down to it it's understandable that women would prefer someone like Alex Summers to me. After all, I'm just Bobby Drake, mutant high's class clown. Yeah, that's me. I'm the joker, the prankster. I'm everybody's immature little brother. No woman would want to be with someone like that. Never mind the fact that I'm also turnin' into a freakin' block of ice. No, women want someone mature, someone serious. They want someone who is not me.

I look down and notice my glass of water has turned completely into ice. Things like that happen sometimes when I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing. I decide that I'm not thirsty anyways and throw the chunk of ice into the trashcan. I begin to wander back to my room, not really so sure what brought me here to begin with.

As I make my way back to my room, I pass by her room. Since Alex came back, she usually sleeps in his room but that's all screwed up now. Now Xavier won't let her go anywhere outside the mansion and won't let her do anything unless she's got on some power inhibitors. She doesn't do very much anyways. I stop in front of her open door and listen. She's crying. Given her behavior lately it surprises me a little.

"Lorna." My mouth gets me into trouble a lot. It doesn't seem to show any signs of stopping either. She rolls over to face me. I see the last embers of the dying expectations on her face. No, sweetheart, it's not Alex Summers, the man you still love more than anything. It's just your old pal, Bobby Drake, come to cheer you up with a few jokes and then be on his merry little way.

"Go away," she says, "I want to be alone." Right. Anybody with two eyes, or even one eye considering where we live, could see that. It's her being alone that's the problem. I should know. It's my problem too.

She still looks at me though even after she tells me to leave. She's still so beautiful, so captivating. I do exactly the opposite of what she wanted and step into her room. She looks so much like the Lorna I remember from the past but what she did on the front lawn that day of the wedding still makes me nervous around her. It's like she's two completely different people at the same time. I can't see her as the Lorna I knew but I can't see her as the Lorna she is now either. The two people are like night and day, total opposites that are somehow linked together.

"Lorna, I heard you crying," I tell her, "You wanna talk about something?" Her pretty lips twist into a very ugly sneer. I'm suddenly reminded of something I saw on a nature documentary while watching TV with Hank. Black widow spiders kill their mates. Is that what's become of her? Is she just a shell now, a ghost of the person I once knew?

"Still trying, aren't you?" she asks snidely, "You still think I'll love you? That's so pathetic. Go back to your room, Bobby." I try to tell myself that this woman is not Lorna. The Lorna Dane I knew wouldn't be so cruel. The only problem is that this is Lorna. Time has turned this woman I love into a cold, heartless witch.

"Make me," I counter, "Oh yeah, I forgot that you can't with those power inhibitors on. How about you tell me who's more pathetic, Polaris? Is it me for still loving you or is it you for still loving him?" That hits her hard. I don't want to hurt this woman but there's a line somewhere and I'm already over it. I watch for a second as her cruel exterior tries to hold up and then crumbles. I start to see the real Lorna come through.

"It was a nightmare," she explains in reference to her crying, "Bobby, I . . .I don't know what to say about what's happened. I just . . ." She doesn't finish and tries to hide the fact that her eyes are starting to water again.

"Lorna, talk to me," I tell her as I sit on her bed, "We've known each other a long time. You know I wanna help you."

"I just," she tries again to explain, "I just need someone to hold onto, to help me still be the person I used to be." She's been through so much, more than a lot of us. Somewhere between all those kidnappings and brainwashings she lost who she really was. Now she's scared to death of what she's turning into.

"I'm always here," I tell her, "Lorna, the only thing I ever wanted was for you to be happy. I know that I've done some really stupid things in the past but please believe that you're important to me."

She stares at me as if she's not sure what she should be doing right now. I can see the battle in her eyes. There's something going on in that pretty head of hers. There's something that's not right, that's making her do all this. It's not the usual outside evil force though. This time the attacker is her own mind. How are you supposed to fight against yourself?

"All those years you watched Alex and I," says Lorna almost to herself, "I never realized how much it hurt you. Bobby, I . . .I'm sorry."

"It's okay," I tell her. Somewhere in all this riveting conversation my hand decided to close around hers. It's only now that she realizes what's happened. She doesn't pull away though. I figured she would but strangely she grips my hand tighter.

"I hate her," she says suddenly, "and him too. I wanna kill them both, rip their hearts out and smash them into pulp. That's what happened in my nightmare. I killed Annie first and then I impaled Alex on a huge spike of metal. It felt really good."

"Lorna," I tell her, "Lorna, stop this. Please, this isn't you." It tears me apart. It's like somebody else, some super villain, crawled inside her skin again. She's just so different.

"Bobby?" she asks pleadingly as she looks at me, "What's wrong with me? I love him so much, why do I want to kill him?"

"I wish I knew, Lor," I tell her, "I wish I knew." I want to help her more than anything but I don't know what the problem is. Psychology's not my thing. It's the Professor's department.

"Xavier can help you if you let him," I tell her, "You can make it through this, Lor, I know you can." She moves a little closer to me now. I can tell she's scared. I know the feeling. I know what it's like to slowly start to change into something you're terrified of. The sheet of ice under my shirt where part of my chest used to be reminds me of it every day.

"Lorna," I whisper, "I love you." If you can pardon the pun, there's a magnetic pull between our lips. They start getting closer and closer to each other. For a few seconds I think that things will be okay.

"Bobby, I . . ." she breathes. Everything is moving so slowly now. Everything will be okay now. She'll get better and I'll help her. I'd do anything for this woman just to see her smile again. So close now, her lips are so close to mine. Then it's like some alarm goes off. Lorna suddenly jerks away and refuses to look at me.

"Go back to bed," she tells me, "Bobby, I don't need this right now." Against my better judgment, or maybe because of it, I get up and walk towards the door. I turn around and look at her one last time. She looks so lonely in that bed by herself. I fight the instinct to return to her side. If I could I would hold her in my arms and never let go. If it were possible I'd solve all her problems for her and never let anything bother her again. I can't do all that though. There are some things you just can't fix no matter how hard you try.

"Good night," I tell her quietly as I close the door. I curse as I walk down the hall to my room. She's still in love with him. Even after all this, I still can't measure up to him. Even after he dumped her at the altar, Alex is still going to get the girl while Bobby just sits here and quietly turns into an Ice-Man for good. I guess it's for the better. Who'd wanna make out with a big ice cube anyways?

I sigh as I close my door and crawl back into bed. Maybe things will get better. I mean, she has to feel something or else she wouldn't have been leaning into that almost kiss. Maybe she loves me after all. Maybe she only says she still loves Alex because it's better than admitting that she feels completely alone in the world. I sigh as I shake my head and close my eyes. I'm only kiddin' myself really. No matter what happens I'll always just be second best.