Chapter One

Bobby woke to a room filled with humid steam. Peeling the damp sheets from his body, he swung his feet out of bed. What could have made the mansion so humid? He wondered as he wiped his sweaty forehead with a pillow. It was July, but the Mansion's air conditioning was state-of-the-art. Hell, it was better than that, it was Shi'ar.

As Bobby turned on the light, he realized the bathroom door was open just slightly, hot steam and the sound of running water billowing out of the crack. That's odd, Bobby thought to himself, I don't remember leaving the shower on last night. But that wasn't the oddest of it. He could hear someone singing also. The voice, distorted by the sound of the water, was deep and horribly off key.

Bobby entered the bathroom hesitantly, drawing in moisture from the air, creating a coat of ice to cool and protect his body. He could now see there was indeed someone in his shower. He couldn't identify the intruder, but he could see the dark outline of its body washing itself. He looked at the floor to see the person's clothes strewn about in a trail.

Bobby traced a pair of men's jeans and shoes, a stained undershirt and a belt, back to the jockstrap that lay in his bed. "A jockstrap?" Bobby wondered, picking it up. He had never owned a jockstrap in his life. "Okay," he said to himself, "who the hell is in my shower?"

He marched into the bathroom, determined to find out. Grabbing the shower curtain with his iced hand, he pulled it back, revealing…

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Bobby rolled to glare at the digital alarm on his nightstand. Groggily, he slapped the snooze button before turning over again into sleep.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

His tongue too tired to articulate it, Bobby let out a mangled curse. He shot a small pulse of freezing cold from his finger, encrusting the alarm clock in ice. That was third one destroyed in such a manner this month. Bobby was not a morning person. "Gotta stop doing that," he told himself, climbing out of bed.

The time was frozen at 2:30 A.M. It was Wednesday morning, his scheduled time for private sessions in the Danger Room. Bobby often wondered how a senior member of the X-Men like himself could have gotten stuck with a pre-dawn training time. Even Bishop, the hardened militant from the future, was asleep at this time of the night!

What did Rodney Dangerfield always say? "I don't get no respect!" That's the story of my life, Bobby thought as he slid out of his boxers before jumping into the shower. Except Rodney Dangerfield turned his into a career as a stand-up comic…what have I done? He turned the faucet to its coldest setting, prepared for an icy blast. He loved cold showers. They were great way to wake up and get rid of those early morning hard-ons.

Water running over stiff muscles, his senses returned from the fog of drowsiness. In bits and pieces, the water's sounds brought his dream to surface. The shower, he thought, the shower was running and someone was in it! He remembered the jockstrap. Was it a man? A man was in my shower?

Oh well, Bobby knew better than to get worked up over the meaning of some stupid dream. He had been having nightmares involving the shower since he saw "Psycho," on the "Late, Late Show" when he was a kid. It was probably just Norman Bates.

Slipping into his light-blue X-Men bodysuit, he headed to the Danger Room for an early morning session.

****************

Iceman sighed. That's the last of them, he thought, dropping his ice sheath to look at the Brood Queen, imprisoned in a five-foot layer of his ice. He felt like he had been in the Danger Room for hours now, fighting robot after robot, running holographic scenario after holographic scenario.

The current simulation involved an infestation of the Brood, a particularly nasty alien race from the far side of the universe, resembling large, green scorpions with rows of needle-teeth and the nasty habit of laying their eggs within mutant chest cavities. Charming, really.

Leaning against the Queen's frozen prison; Iceman smiled at her through the ice. "Sigorney Weaver eat your heart out!" he said cockily, thinking of how easily he defeated this last pod. They weren't nearly as terrible as Wolverine and Storm had portrayed.

He headed perhaps a bit too confidently towards the Danger Room's padlocked exit. Not questioning why the simulation hadn't deactivated, Iceman reached the door's control panel, entering the security code. "Oh-four-oh-five-nine-three…"

The sound of cracking ice came with a sudden hiss of steam before Iceman's finger could enter the final digit. That can't be good… He turned in time to see the Queen swinging her massive tail, before landing it against his skull with a splitting "thud!"

Iceman's world spun in a hot, stinging ache as he hit the floor. Instinctively, he sheathed his body in ice, the cold numbing the pain of shredded skin and shocking him out of his stupor, giving him wind to assess the crisis. The black fuzz of a concussion filled his eyes but he could hear the Queen's footsteps and feel her hot breath. She was descending upon him quickly.

Raising his arms above his head, ice shooting from his palms defensively, he created a cocoon around himself. He breathed a sigh of relief. The cocoon would keep him safe for a while but he could already hear the Queen gnawing through.

Dizzy, hanging to consciousness like torn skin, numb pain spread across his head so quickly he did not feel the ice collapse above him, the Queen breaking through the wall with her vicious mouth. He barely noticed her tongue licking him as everything went black.

*****************

"Wake up, Frosty!"

Bobby woke wearily. As light filled his eyes, a pain emerged in his skull, but within a moment it vanished just as quickly. His vision returning, he realized he was lying on a stretcher in the medical bay, Jubilee leering above him, cracking pink bubblegum in his face.

"Scram, Lee," Bobby groaned at his teenage nemesis, pushing her away. She shuffled off with a disappointed shrug, having hoped for a more explicit response.

"You took quite a beating, Robert," Professor Xavier spoke up from his hoverchair by the foot of Bobby's stretcher. "I've taken the liberty of stimulating your neural pain-killers with my mind," he explained.

Bobby shuddered, having never adjusted to how the Professor used his telepathic abilities without permission. Even after so many years, it remained a bit disconcerting.

"You know better than to run a Level Four Combat Scenario without proper supervision," Xavier reprimanded him, as he administered peroxide to Bobby's cheek.

"I'm sorry Professor," Bobby moaned, swinging his feet out of the stretcher, "I'm used to the old days when the Danger Room was nothing more than faulty gymnastics equipment and a flame thrower."

"It was never that bad," Xavier reminded him. "Besides, if you dated the Shi'ar Empress you'd accept her gifts of highly advanced alien technology too."

"I suppose so, Professor. I guess I just lost myself in there. That's all."

Xavier looked at him with doubt. "Yes, you seem to be doing that a lot lately. This is the third time this week that you've ran a Level Four Scenario. Monday it was the Sentinels, Tuesday Magneto and now a pod of Brood. I'm glad you're taking interest in your training but this is a bit excessive. One might assume you were overcompensating for something."

Jubilee leered at him. "Aww…is Frosty feeling a little insecure?"

Bobby shot her a deadly glare, an indication of his annoyance.

Which was all Jubilee needed before deciding to continue. "Hmmm, let me guess…is it your powers? Doesn't your uncanny ability to make snowmen and lame jokes cut it anymore?" she laughed.

"So says the 'Human Sparkler.' Let's just say the X-Men have more than one novelty act on their roster," he shot back.

Jubilee's face flushed with a mix of anger and embarrassment. "Watch it, Frosty! Those 'fireworks' happen to be 'intense surges of plasma' and they can melt you a new asshole!"

Professor Xavier cleared his throat. "Jubilee…don't you have some homework you can be doing? I don't believe you finished your report on Xenomorphic Biology…"

"Actually, I did," she said after faking a moment's consideration. She obviously wasn't getting his point, or more probably she didn't care.

"Jubilee…" Professor Xavier warned, his tone growing impatient.

Bobby figured he'd do the little imp a favor. "Forget about it, Professor," he told him, "I'm out of here." With that, he hopped off the stretcher and headed for the med-bay exit.

"Are you sure you don't want to talk Robert?" Xavier asked as Bobby exited.

"No, I'm just going to take the day off to recover. You know, do some shopping, pedicure, facial, all the good stuff," Bobby said, turning to face him with a carefree grin. Bobby hadn't learned, like most X-Men, that emotions could not be hidden from the world's strongest telepath.

"Alright," Xavier conceded. "But aren't you forgetting something?"

"Huh?"

"You've got latrine duty today, Robert."

"Latrine duty, my favorite," he sighed, his enthusiasm swirling down the toilet.

Jubilee pointed, laughing smugly.

"And you can join him, Jubilee," Xavier added.

Jubilee looked genuinely shocked by her sentence. "Latrine duty!" she screamed! "But you've never given me latrine duty before!"

"Make fun of your teammates and I will."

"No fair! Everyone makes fun of Drake!"

With that comment, Bobby grabbed her towards the exit with him. "Come on Lee, I'll make sure to leave some of the Beast's fur in the drain just for you…"

"You'd think that alien girlfriend o' his could whip up some robot to do this for us?" she muttered as they headed to the bathroom. But no one was listening.