Authors Note and Disclaimer:

I do not own any of the rights to the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, or Spider-Man. None of these characters are my own.

This story takes place soon after the latest Thunderbird joined the X-Men.

Most people thought of him as a waste of space on the roster. Easily replaceable, and someone who would never be sorely missed. Not many loved his practical jokes, and his wit was unappreciated. After being told so in a manner that lacked any tact whatsoever, Robert Drake decided that it was time to leave the X-Men. Not because he could no longer do any good there, but because Hank was the only one willing to accept him for who he was.

He was unwilling to change for them. They were his friends for a long time, and he thought that they had really cared for him. But when it came to going out on a mission to save lives, they would rather have someone else on the team. It made him angry just to think about it, rage boiling from within. The room temperature dropped substantially as waves of cold emitted from his skin.

Bobby was sitting in the Starbucks by Time Square. His coffee, he found when he tried to drink it, was nothing but a block of ice. He sighed, and set the mug back down. Other customers were complaining of cold mocha espressos.

"Causing more trouble, Popsicle?" asked a familiar voice.

Bobby looked up in surprise to see one fourth of the Fantastic Four: Johnny Storm. "I don't think I ruined your coffee, Johnny."

The Fantastic Four member sat down on the stool opposite Bobby. "Not for long, anyway. Something got you down?" Eventually, the room temperature returned to normal levels.

"Thanks for counteracting my ice powers. I'd hate to see more people upset over coffee."

"Yeah, we've always worked well together. In the process, we got to know each other fairly well. You can't slip depression by me."

"Do I look depressed to you?"

There was a pause while the superhero considered. "You could say that. But the cold waves really give it away."

Bobby rolled his eyes, and then sipped his coffee. "Depressed isn't the word. I'm more ... angry. Or maybe flaming. Right now I envy you your powers."

Johnny shook his head. "We're opposites again. I guess I'm the depressed one. Fun things have been going on recently. Too bad we can't trade powers for a day." He looked so upset that Bobby thought he might cry. Not standard behavior for the man.

"Yeah, too bad." Bobby was concerned for Johnny, worried that something devastatingly important might have happened. "Look, we're still friends, right?"


"Care to talk about it?"

"You first, Frost Breath." Johnny didn't seem very anxious to let it out.

Bobby shrugged. "Nothing to 'flame on' about, now that I've thought about it a little. To make a long story short, before it gets too late, I argued a bit with the a few of the X-Men, and decided it was time I officially retired from my life as one of them."

"That's rough."

"Not so bad, really. I can always restart my career as an accountant if things get hairy."

"I suppose."

"What's got you so quiet, Hot-Head? Someone borrow your heart? Steal your personality? You're not being controlled by the Puppet Master, are you? What's the matter now? All the questions overloading your brain? If so I'll have to ask a few more."

Johnny smiled to be polite, but the action looked forced. "You hear any news about the Four recently?"

"Nope, sorry."

"Reed ... stretched himself too far. Someone found some a hedge clipper, and decided that Reed was a bush that needed trimming. There wasn't anything we could do. The blood ... Sue almost killed herself. It took both me and Ben to stop her." Johnny's coffee spilled, and Bobby froze it before any harmful stains could afflict Johnny's clothing. Johnny looked like he was in another place.

"She's okay, though, right? I mean, how long ago did this happen? Can ... Is there any way I can help?"

"More questions? No wise-ass remarks? That's not your style, Popsicle. Do I have to worry about your sanity?"

"No, Johnny. You don't have to worry about me. Take me up to Freedom Plaza … I'd like to help out."

"Things aren't the same as they used to be. I don't think –"

"I'm still welcome, aren't I?"

"Well –"

"We're still friends, right?"

"Yes –"

"Then you'll take me back there. And on the way, you'll tell me all the details about what happened. The way you're acting is not characteristic of you. Let's see if we can't get you back to normal? To again make the name 'Human Torch' represent you?"

"The name 'Iceman' never represented your personality. Why should 'Human Torch' represent mine?"

"Because the name you chose for yourself didn't represent your special powers. It represented you, and all that you are."

"You are a cold bastard. You don't feel the pain of his loss, do you?"

"Don't worry about me. Don't worry about anything. Come on, let's get out of here already. Both of us are out of coffee, and if I even smell any more it's going to give me the runs."