Differences

Serpentine Wisdom

Summary: "Your power might be to control fire but you've got a heart of ice, Pyro."

Warnings: Violence, some spoilers for the third X-men movie but by now most people have probably seen it.

Author notes: I've read quite a few John/Pyro redemption fanfics and just felt like writing one where he isn't redeemable at all (and I'm a huge Pyro fan, believe it or not).

Disclaimer: I do not own X-men in any way or shape nor any of its characters. I am not making any money on this fanfiction and do not plan to.

John and Bobby had always been opposites. That was just the way it was, it was why they had been friends and it was why they were now enemies.

Bobby could create ice but once it was created there was nothing he could do with it anymore while John, who could not create fire, could make it obey his every thought. His fire was always twisting and reforming, recreating itself and destroying itself unlike ice which was locked in its form. Bobby's power created but John's power lived. The warmth of fire and the chill of ice could rarely meet and never in harmony. But the differences didn't end with their powers, no that was the least of their differences.

Bobby came from an ordinary, upper middle-class family. They loved each other, they cherished each other and they accepted each other – as long as they were all normal, of course. Money wasn't really a problem and Bobby didn't have much to miss growing up, even if he of course didn't get everything he wanted. His family taught him to share, how to be, what was right and what was wrong. As a result Bobby was a thoughtful young man, polite and well-mannered and a good friend.

John never had any of those things. He had a whore for a mother and his father, well he didn't even know who that was. There was no talk about love because his mother was to worn out and world-weary to think much of those sort of things. Money was scarce and everything went to food and his mother's favourite brand of cigarettes and alcohol. There were rules to follow but not the kind Bobby'd had, ones meant to teach you better, they were just rules to keep you alive. Because that right and wrong shit were just words when it came down to it.

Bobby was a good kid, everyone knew that and Bobby didn't even consider the possibility that he could act in any other way. He liked to talk things out because he thought violence didn't really solve anything; it just made everything worse. He didn't think it was cowardly to step away from a fight, in fact in his opinion the one who let himself be goaded into a fight was the coward. Too afraid of what others thought of him to be the better man. And he would never dream of using his powers against a normal person unless it was absolutely necessary, it would be unfair otherwise.

John wasn't a good kid. But he wanted to be one once, a very distant once. He tried but trying never meant anything either if it didn't give any results. You see, Johnny just couldn't help getting into all the fights that he did or at least that was what he always told himself. He wouldn't stand down and take any abuse from anyone, not anymore, if you just laid down and let people walk all over you, you might as well be a doormat instead of a person. So when people insulted him Johnny insulted them right back, if they started a fight with him he finished it with or without his powers – he used what he had and liked the fearful look in people's eyes when they realised they were no match for him. It was the disgust that followed their fear that made him angry.

It felt good to be the one in control and not have to be afraid but John always did want to be a good kid. He wanted to have that white picket fence family that Bobby had so badly at times. He couldn't help but envy the Christmas presents and birthday cards that arrived without fail on the designated days. He also knew that Bobby didn't want to be Johnny or have anything he had. Good old Johnny boy with his run-down family of one now that a drunk had beaten his mother to death a year or two ago. But John didn't like wanting to have everything Bobby had, because what Bobby had was fake – it had to be fake or it would be too unbearable to think of. Which was what made it so funny when everything came crashing down for his best friend. It was fun to watch Bobby's world burn and turn to ashes. It was a bitter sort of fun but the only kind Johnny knew anything about anymore.

Pyro knew more ways to have fun because he wasn't as limited as John was, because despite what people thought John did have his limits. There were things that Pyro would do that not even Johnny would consider, that he wouldn't even dream of doing. Like John, Pyro also liked watching things burn but he especially liked it if they were alive things. It was a fancy Johnny hadn't really bought into, he burned living things because that was the fastest way to win, the best way to protect himself from the big, bad world that had no sympathies for mutants like him. But Pyro, Pyro burnt living creatures just for the hell of it with no deep reasoning at all. It had been the furious Pyro that tried to kill those policemen (1), fuelled by the years of resentment and bitterness that had hardened into a small, unbreakable ball inside him.

They had it coming, pathetic little flies trying to go against people who could crush them all too easily if they only chose to do so. Because Johnny had been so terribly indecisive –would he be a nice boy like Bobby?– Pyro had taken charge and chosen for him. You didn't run when you were the strong one, it just wasn't done that way. Why couldn't the others understand that? What he had done wasn't wrong, he knew what would be done to them if they had let the police bring them in. He had thought at least Wolverine would understand that, the way he talked, but the way Wolverine had looked at him afterward made Johnny think he didn't. No, that was wrong. Wolverine had understood, in a way, but he didn't approve even though they had just been a bunch of humans. Humans that had tried to kill them. Rouge and Bobby didn't understand at all and they probably never would.

But Magneto did. Magneto saw so much more than anyone else he had ever met did. They hadn't talked much at all really but he was the first person both Pyro and John both respected and that was why Pyro went with him. The more Pyro learned as Magneto's henchman the more Johnny began to disappear, soon he couldn't even recall that he had been any other way. Pyro had always been there, buried deep down and Pyro didn't care at all what happened to the inferior Homo sapiens. They were lower than insects so to kill one in reality meant nothing. Humanity were disease spreading little vermin however, so he supposed there was some honour in wiping them off the face of the planet. The way they screamed and the smell when they burned alive until not even their bones remained was quite pleasant, too, so he killed them for sport at times even though John would object to it weakly.

When he finally met Bobby again they were even more different than before and Bobby still couldn't tell the difference between his friend, good old Johnny-boy, and the mutant soldier Pyro. Maybe that was why they were enemies. Because Bobby never could see the differences that existed in the world but John, and now Pyro, could never see anything else than the differences. However, it hadn't mattered at the time because Pyro had had a mission, it was much more fun than he had expected it to be. He supposed it was the thrill of having someone watch who could have stopped him but didn't. Someone who would most definitely feel guilty in his passive part. Sneering, Pyro thought it was Bobby's own fault that he had a heart of gold but no backbone to speak of.

It didn't bother Pyro that several dozen people and even some mutants would die because of a casual flick of his arms; he could already hear them screaming. It was a wonderful feeling; using his powers like this. The flames were a part of him just as much as his arms or legs were, through them he felt so much more than a normal human ever could. There was no way he would ever give it up, whatever it took, and he would never let anyone take them away from him. With his powers growing and growing he was hoping that maybe one day he would be able to create fire on his own. He could feel it burning in his bones, under his skin, making his blood boil, but he was unable to pull it out. Destroying a place like this that could take away his extraordinary gift couldn't even really be called terrorism.

Whistling he walked down the streets as he heard the sound of faraway cry of sirens speeding towards his target. They wouldn't be able to put the fire out as long as he was in the city, it was almost too easy for him to keep the flames alive and well when all they used was regular water. All he had to do was continuing to move the fire around and as long as a single spark survived the assault of the firemen the fire would never die out since it didn't need any fuel other than Pyro's thoughts. Water could only shrink it a little. Only if the flames themselves were frozen or solidified would they be beyond his control. With a single thought he let the fire virtually explode outwards, raining shattered red-hot glass on the people standing too close. The resulting crying and wailing and screaming did not move him the slightest as he wondered if he would have time to pick up a pizza before he had to be back at the base.

What was it that that new mutant had told him not too long ago?

"Your power might be to control fire but you've got a heart of ice, Pyro," she had stated as she watched him burn down a house – with the family still inside and unable to get out.

The irony was almost too much and he wondered if that maybe was why he could never seem to create fire on his own.

The End.

(1) I know we see most of the police officers alive after that scene but I'm claiming a little artistic license. Besides, there might have been a person or two in the cars he wrecked - it's been a while since I watched the first movie so my memory is a little fuzzy.