Again, this is another one of my depressing, John's origins stories. I hope you like, if not, I'm not going to continue it. I actually haven't worked on this story in about six months. So, let me know if you think I should keep it, or just scrap it. The title is from the song 'Johnny I hardly Knew Ya' by Dropkick Murphys.
Bobby was doing the most mundane of things, grocery shopping with his girlfriend. He hadn't wanted to go, but he knew how much Rogue hated doing it by herself, so he had grudgingly went along. He was sitting in the attached Burger King, when he seen him.
St. John Allerdyce. Johnny boy. Pyro. His best friend in the whole world. Who had betrayed him for the Brotherhood.
He was shocked at the difference in his friend's appearance. John had always been muscular, which made him look heavy, but now he was skin and bones. His laughing brown eyes were now sunk deep into his head, like he never slept anymore. His hair, which had always been neatly groomed and gelled back, was now down past his neck, a greasy mat of brown fur that probably hadn't seen a haircut since he left the X-men eight months ago. Where he had once walked with almost arrogance, daring anyone to challenge him, he now shuffled along with his eyes staring at the floor, looking like a stray dog someone had kicked too many times.
Bobby didn't know what to do. Should he talk to him? This was his best friend, Johnny… He was also the enemy, Pyro.
While debating what to do, Bobby saw John take a nervous look around, then grab a small bag of pretzels from the shelf.
"Hey!" The clerk yelled, noting the theft. He started around the counter.
John dropped the unopened bag instantly, and cringed against the magazine rack, knocking the stand over. He lost his balance and fell, scattering magazines all over the floor.
Before Bobby could register what was happening, Rogue was there, kneeling by John.
"Ah'm so sorry, sir," She said with her southern accent, laying a hand on John's arm. "Ah can pay for those. And Ah'll pick up the magazines."
As the clerk was clearly debating on what to do, Bobby got up, and rushed over. "Here's twenty dollars. You can keep the change." The indication was clear. The clerk nodded, and walked off. Rogue started picking up the magazines, while Bobby helped John get to his feet.
John didn't even look up. He just stood there like a robot, head down, and arms at his sides. Standing this close, Bobby could see the ratty condition of his clothes: the large, worn-out jacket, the holey shirt, threadbare jeans, and the sneakers that were falling apart.
"John? Johnny?" Bobby asked gently. "John, can you hear me?"
He got no response, but seen tears start dropping to the floor. He was shocked for a moment. John never cried. Ever.
"John, it's ok. Don't worry about it. It's not a big deal. Johnny?"
"I'm sorry," The thin boy whispered, his voice low and hoarse. "It was an accident. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry… I'm sorry," He kept repeating.
Bobby reached down and grabbed the pretzels, and handed them to John. "Here. John? You can have these."
For the first time, John looked up, and Bobby could see the bruises that covered his face and the scar that ran down his cheek. John hesitantly took the bag from Bobby, and hugged it to his chest. "Thank you," He whispered.
"Don't worry about it. Come on over here and sit down. You want a cheese burger?" Bobby asked, steering him towards the tables.
"Really?" John asked, a slight tinge of hope in his voice.
"Yeah. Just sit down, and I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere, ok?"
Bobby rushed up to the counter, and ordered a whopper, keeping one eye on John. He never moved, just sat there with his head down, holding on to the pretzels for dear life.
By this time, Rogue had finished picking up the magazines, and she walked over and sat down next to John.
"John? John, you can open those if you want," She said softly, indicating the pretzels.
John awkwardly tried to open the bag with one hand, his left covered by his too-big coat.
"Johnny, what's the matter with your hand?"
He didn't answer, just kept trying to open the bag. Finally, Rogue reached over, and opened it for him. He started devouring the pretzels like there was no tomorrow.
"John, let me see your hand," Rogue ordered gently when he was finished. John bowed his head, and held out his left hand.
Rogue nearly threw up. His middle and last finger were missing from the knuckles. The scars hadn't healed right, leaving ridge marks where the fingers were supposed to be.
"Oh my god," Bobby said as he set the food down on the table. "John… what happened?"
"I'm sorry," John mumbled. "I didn't mean it. I tried to do it right."
Rogue and Bobby looked at each other. "Ah think we should take him back to the mansion," Rogue said, still trying not to throw up.
Bobby nodded. "John? Why don't you take your burger with you, and eat it in the car? How's that sound?"
John nodded, and Bobby helped him up. Rogue handed him the burger, and they started out to the car. The entire way out, John kept his head down, shuffling along slowly, clutching the burger.
Rogue helped John into the back seat, and then sat in the passenger seat, while Bobby drove. The only sounds were John eating his sandwich. Finally, as Bobby turned on to the old road the mansion was on, Rogue spoke.
"Johnny, where've you been?"
There was a moment of silence, then, "In the city."
"The city? Where? How long?"
"A couple of days." His voice was so low, Rogue was leaning backwards in the seat to hear him.
"Where were you staying?"
"Outside?! John, it's the middle of January! Didn't you get cold?"
"So cold. Couldn't get warm." He looked up at her, brown eyes full of tears. "I lost Bruce."
Bruce had been John's Zippo, which he had had long before he came to the mansion. He had never let it out of his sight, even taking it in the bathroom with him when he showered.
"How'd that happen, John?"
"It was an accident. I'm sorry… so sorry…" He said, his voice drifting off. Bobby glanced back, and seen that he was sleeping.
He couldn't believe this was happening. His best friend- tough, street-wise Johnny Boy- was acting like a beat down five year old.
"Bobby, whadda think is wrong with him?" Rogue asked.
"I don't know. This is… crazy. I mean, I don't even think he knows who we are."
"His fingers… Bobby, his whole arm was… covered in scars. "
"I know, Rogue. I seen them," Bobby replied as they pulled up to the mansion. The large gates opened, then closed behind them.
As Bobby pulled up to the front steps, Rogue jumped out, and ran inside.
"Professor? Mr. Summers? Ms. Munroe!" She yelled as the African-American woman came down the stairs. "You gotta come outside. Bobby and Ah found John at the grocery store, and he's acting all weird, and he's missing two of his fingers, and he's covered in bruises, and-"
"Easy, Rogue! Slow down! You say you found Pyro?"
"Yeah. But he's… different… Like someone messed with his mind, or somethin'!"
Ororo quickly headed outside, and to the car, where Bobby was waiting with John still sleeping in the backseat.
She glanced over him quickly, then said, "Bobby, help me get him inside."
They somehow managed to get John out of the car, and inside. He whimpered quietly as they half-carried him up the steps, but didn't wake up, or attempt to fight or move.
Half-way to the elevator leading to the basement, Logan showed up.
"What the hell? What happened to him?" He asked, nodding towards John.
"Logan, can you carry him downstairs?" Ororo asked in her strange accent.
"Of course I can, sweetheart," He joked. He took John from them, and carried him into the elevator.
"Ms. Munroe, whadda want us to do?" Rogue asked as the older woman got in the elevator.
"Go get the groceries."