A/N: Amazing how life's little diseases will prevent a chapter from being written. Here's the conclusion.
Bobby sat with his back against the marble pillar of the gazebo, staring off at the horizon. The morning sun sent glitters onto the waves below, birds chirped in the woods behind him, and smell of the salt water below were doing little to relax after his recent ordeal. The tattered remains of his t-shirt blew gently in the breeze, and he couldn't help but give a sharp laugh at how ridiculous he must look.
He was furious over what happened this morning. The past year he'd practically been an X-Man! How had he not proven himself to them with everything he had done? He'd handled everything the X-Men had, and still they felt the need to throw him into the Danger Room, watch his friends get captured and possibly killed, and then have to fight his way through one outrageous situation after another, until he himself had died, or close enough to it.
He made an ice chunk and threw it in anger. He thought they had been his friends, his team mates, and the people he could count on when his back was up against the wall. Instead he was their guinea pig, someone to try out their new Danger Room upgrades on. That wasn't the team he wanted to join, that wasn't his idea of what being and X-Man was. They were the good guys; they weren't supposed to play mind games with each other.
He started to cross his arms but his right hand hurt as he brushed it against his arm. He slowly made a fist and stared at it. Even iced up it had hurt to punch Scott. "Idiot has a thick jaw," he muttered to himself, flexing his hands a few time. He didn't know if it was Scott's bright idea or the Professor's, but Scott had agreed with it whole heartedly, and that pissed him off. "Uptight jerk, who does he think he is?" he continued to mutter. "I should punch him with the other hand to balance things out." At least Rogue had thought it was a bad idea to put him through the Test. He guessed with the amount she had been through as a kid and recently with Mystique, jerking someone else through the emotional rollercoaster would be something she would avoid. He couldn't be angry at her, she had probably done everything she could to dissuade the others, which only made him angrier at them for ignoring Rogue's wisdom. "They never giver her credit," he thought, "Scott, so uptight, never listening to anyone else." That and everyone else had seemed for it. Jean of course went for it. "Some telepath," he thought, "couldn't even sense how messed up this whole thing is. The perfect couple, always together, do they ever have their own opinions? Makes me sick." Kurt didn't know how to question orders unless he was terrified of something, and Kitty... the brief regret at how he treated her was quickly replaced with more anger. "As smart as that girl is, she has no idea how to deal with people."
Ignoring the slight ache in his hand, he folded his arms and returned to staring out at the sea, stewing in his anger. He didn't know what he would do now. Would he go home? His parents were supportive of him being a mutant, but fear of mutants was the highest it had been since mutants were first exposed. He didn't know what sort of danger he would put them in. He had some money saved up, he could always catch a bus or train to California. Jubilee had been on his case lately about visiting her, and he hadn't seen his friend since she was pulled from the Institute. He could just stay a New Mutants, though it would be a while before he cooled down enough to do much at the Institute other than eat and sleep. He felt no need to be angry at them; they had nothing to do with it. It would be hard to avoid the X-Men though, and he wasn't sure if he could control himself around Scott at this point.
His thoughts continued to jump from idea to idea. Sometimes he thought about what he would do now, or the events of the morning, the regrets he had in his life that his near death forced him to face, and of course the rage at the X-Men for putting him through all of it.
"'How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it,'" he heard from the direction of the school, pulling him out of his thoughts. He turned to see Beast padding towards him, a hint of fangs in his sad smile.
"Don't remember that one from my Shakespeare class, Mr. McCoy."
"I hope not. It was said by Marcus Aurelius," with a small leap he vaulted over the gazebo rail and sat down on top of it, his eyes matching Bobby's gaze onto the ocean below. "Before what I imagine is your considerable anger is directed towards me, I want you to know that I am a neutral party in this. I was against the idea, and I'm out here on my own volition, not at the behalf of any of your teammates or the Professor."
"Nice to know that some people have kept their heads on straight."
They continued to sit for a while, neither saying anything as they stared into the morning. Finally Hank, not turning his head to look at Bobby, began to speak.
"The question I pose to you Mr. Drake, is if what you told me a few weeks ago still stands, what consequences does this anger hold for your dreams of being an X-Man?"
"I don't know if I want to be a part of them anymore."
"And why is that? You've made it very clear you wanted to be an X-Man and now there is a uniform waiting for you in the Professor's office. What happened to your overwhelming enthusiasm towards being a hero, to bring good and bring justice to the world, to show mutant kind in a positive light?"
"Apparently you don't get it either Doc. I almost died in the Danger Room today. A couple of times actually, but right there at the end, shards of metal flying at my head, that was it, I was ready to die. I've faced death before on other missions, but nothing like that. This was the big, no one is going to rescue me death. And then it all turns out to be fake, a show put on by the very people I was praying to come in and rescue me at the last moment. Are those really the type of people I want to be fighting alongside? The type who would make me go through that? And then there's Scott Summers, wouldn't know empathy if it beat him over the head. How am I supposed to follow him if he doesn't even understand how the people he's leading are going to take his orders? I have half a mind to go punch him again."
"More consequences you may not want to deal with Bobby. You are forgetting that Scott is only a few years older than you are. Like you, he's been put into situations and given responsibilities that are abnormal for someone of his age to have to deal with."
"Okay, so Scott screwed up because he's a stupid kid. Same with the others. They don't know any better. I can understand that a little, but that doesn't mean what they did was right and that I should be okay with it. And the Professor should have known better, Logan should have known better."
Hank chuckled. "Logan would have everyone doing surprise drills like that at all hours if he had it his way. He often forgets that not all of you are training to be super soldiers and that danger is not always lurking around every corner. As for the Professor, he is, well it probably is not my place to say."
"It's about what he saw when he was with Apocalypse, isn't it? He mentioned it earlier."
"Yes, it is. Bobby, I will tell you this in the strictest confidence, and I tell you only because it will help you understand why you were put through the test you faced earlier. I have known Charles Xavier a very long time, and I have never seen him as scared as he is now. He put on a face of caution but optimism when he spoke to the Institute after Apocalypse. The visions he saw are fragmented and unclear, but he saw much more darkness ahead then he told us about that afternoon. He knows great burdens will fall onto the X-Men's shoulders, and he is afraid they will not be strong enough. He knows some of us will not make it through this."
"And that's why all of this happened to me?"
"It's my belief, yes."
"What do you think I should do then?"
"The future of the X-Men is going to be about sacrifice, sacrificing much of yourself, maybe your life, to help others and fight the coming darkness. You need to ask yourself if you're willing to do that. You proved today that you were when backed into a corner, but now it's your choice. It is a decision that only you can make. But for what it's worth, I knew long ago that you would grow to be the man you are now, and I know you can face what is coming." He patted the young man on the back and stood, turning back to the mansion. "No matter what you choose, you will have to talk to the Professor." He walked off leaving Bobby alone again with his thoughts.
Bobby stood outside the Professor's office, wondering what exactly he was going to tell him. He spent another hour outside after Beast left, thinking about what the teacher had to say and about his future. His anger had subsided, mostly, and he was left feeling a bit numb about the whole ordeal. Still, he was glad he hadn't met anyone on his way here. Dealing with Xavier was enough for him to do at this point, having to see the others, like Scott, or worse, Kitty, was something wasn't ready for just yet.
He lifted his hand to knock and hesitated. Was this what he really wanted? What if he changed his mind? Would he ever have the opportunity to make this decision again? What would the others think of this? Would they even accept his decision?
"I've gotta stop beating myself up over this. Just go in there and get it over with," he thought. "You're the Iceman, stay chill, you can do this."
He lifted up his hand to knock. "Come in Bobby," the Professor's voice echoed in his head before his fist fell.
"Hate when he does that," he muttered, and opened the door.
Xavier was behind his desk, his eyes calmly watching Bobby enter. On the desk was a large box pushed off to the side, and several file folders were opened in front of Xavier. He closed the one he was reading and gestured to the chair in front of the desk. Bobby sat down and bit the inside of his lower lip, not sure how to start. The Professor sat back quietly watching him, letting the teenager make the first move.
Finally, Bobby found somewhere to begin. "I want to apologize for earlier, I was angry and pretty far out of line."
"It is I who should apologize to you Bobby. I had no right to put you through what I did. Your anger is completely justifiable. Though, Scott may feel differently."
"Yeah, that's going to take some work." There was another moment of silence before he continued. "I'm still pretty angry about what happened. And I really hope you don't do it to anyone else. But I understand why you did it."
"Hank told you about what I fear?"
"Yeah, some of it."
Xavier brought his hand to his chin, resting his head on his fist for a moment. "It is incredibly frustrating knowing that darkness is coming, and that it will affect my students so deeply. So much of what is about to happen will rely on the actions of the X-Men to bring the world safely through it. As much as I would like to avoid putting any of you in danger, I'm afraid it is unavoidable. All I can do is ensure that the team is as prepared as possible."
Bobby looked the Professor right in the eyes. "Whatever is coming, we'll face it and we'll do our best Professor. It's what we've been taught to do."
"You truly are a remarkable student Bobby, and a fine choice to promote to the X-Men," he said with a smile as he slid the box across the desk to Bobby.
He looked at the box for a moment, one last instance of hesitancy and picked it up. "I like to think I am too." He stood and gave the Professor a smile. "Hope you don't mind, but I've got some things to smooth over and some people to show this off too."
And with that, Bobby Drake, X-Man, walked out of the Professors office to face the rest of his life.
A/N: And thus endeth the opening story to a series that is spiraling out of control in my head with the scope of it. Check my profile to see what's coming up, hopefully the first chapter of the next in the series will be up soon (should probably start it first).
Up next: Reunions, Recruits and Romance