There Goes the Fear
by zahra


1.

He never pushed.

That’s what Bobby remembers about his first night at the mansion and sharing a room with St. John.

Everyone wanted to talk, to make Bobby warm milk, to make sure he was all right. It freaked Bobby the fuck out, but Johnny. Johnny didn’t stare. Or push.

He just sat in the periphery and played with his lighter.

And when Mr. Summers, Scott, told St. John to take Bobby to their room; he did. Without a word. Without a look.

Bobby remembers that he locked the door when he took his shower, and didn’t unlock it until after he had brushed his teeth and made sure he didn’t look as though he had been crying. Bobby never cried. That was something other people did. It was something he couldn’t afford to do anymore: be afraid.

Instead, Bobby opened the door to his bedroom, steeled himself, and walked back out, damp feet slapping against the floor.

St. John Allerdyce was just where Bobby had left him: sitting on his bed and playing with his lighter. So Bobby sat down on his new bed, the one closest to the bathroom, and put his sneakers where other people put their slippers. Just in case.

Then he looked over at St. John expectantly, and nothing happened.

Johnny never moved. Never said anything. He just kept playing with his lighter.

Click. Fwoosh. Click. Fwoosh.

After several seconds, Bobby climbed into his bed, and waited. The only thing that moved was St. John’s thumb over his lighter, his chest hardly lifted when he breathed.

Bobby never even realized how hard he was staring.

Finally he couldn’t take it anymore. “Can I turn off the light?” Bobby wasn’t quite that desperate, perhaps the surrounding silence just made him sound that way.

“You can do anything you want,” his new roommate said.


2.

It took a week for the clicking and fwooshing to drive Bobby insane.

It took him a month to find the balls to say anything about it.

When Bobby finally wondered aloud how Johnny didn’t set himself on fire, St. John said something about fear being pointless. Plus, he figured if Bobby, in all his stupidity, didn’t turn himself in a popcicle then surely Johnny, in all his wisdom, wasn’t going to set himself alight.

That was the first time Bobby froze St. John’s lighter.

It was also the first time that Bobby made Johnny laugh.


3.

Johnny was Bobby’s first:

First friend at the mansion.

First friend with mutant powers.

First person he saw in the morning.

First person to comfort him in the middle of the night.

For years on end, Johnny was first.

Bobby always took it as a given.


4.

Bobby's quite proud that he kissed Johnny first. Of course it only occurred after much shoving and shouting and accosting in the bathroom, but at seventeen Bobby can be pragmatic when he has to be.

The objective was sound, even if the delivery left quite a bit to be desired.

Bobby hadn’t intended to act so desperate, but he had been putting it off for months, and Kitty had sworn that she was going to beat him to it if he didn’t stop 'acting like a little bitch’.

So Bobby made up a story, and he barged in while Johnny was shaving, and he kissed him.

A lot. And quite messily.

The first kiss was too chaste, the second kiss too brutal. Around the sixth they got it right: disposable razor on the floor, Bobby against the sink, and Johnny with shaving cream smeared down his chest.

Bobby could have planned it a lot better, and he’s lucky that St. John didn’t sever a major artery before anything happened. He got lucky regarding a lot of things. But luck couldn't explain why Bobby was seen shortly thereafter running full tilt from their bedroom with shaving cream on his neck.

When Kitty asked him about it later, he said something about ‘fucking up royally.’


5.

It took Bobby three hours to apologize for his actions.

It took another three hours for St. John to forgive him.

That night Johnny interrupted Bobby in the bathroom while he was brushing his teeth.

Unlike Bobby, St. John had the decency to let Bobby finish first. Then he kissed him.


6.

The first night they slept together Bobby learned that St. John never let go of his lighter, and Johnny learned that Bobby’s feet were very cold.

They also learned there was a major art to doubling in a twin bed.

The next night Bobby wore socks to bed. They agreed to swap sides on the spooning thing, and St. John fell asleep trapping his lighter against Bobby’s chest.

Sleeping with fire indeed.


7.

The first place they tried to have sex was in the bathroom.

Logistically it was a nightmare. Bobby iced the tub, and after slipping and nearly breaking both his legs, St. John insisted on moving to the bedroom.

They got it wrong more than they got it right, and when the time came, Johnny pulled Bobby out the bed and walked him over to his dresser. He opened the top drawer to reveal a miasma of concert stubs, papers and matches. St. John pulled out a new box of condoms, but the matches threw Bobby off more than anything else.

Johnny just smiled wryly and said something about backups and being prepared. Then he led Bobby back to bed and made him forget all about matches and his own name.

Firsts turned into seconds into thirds.

Practice moved them closer to perfect, and fucking up was okay.

There was nothing to fear.


8.

The first fight was also the last.

Not because they couldn’t get over it, but because neither one could think of how to begin.

The first word became the hardest as ‘sorry’ always is.


9.

The first night without Johnny wasn’t the worst. Bobby simply didn’t sleep at all and that pretty much took care of that. Instead he locked himself in the bathroom and sat on the floor counting the tiles on the floor. There were a lot. And he learned that their sink had a drip.

He didn’t sleep the second night either.

The third night he fell asleep in the bathroom and woke up having frozen it into a meat locker.

Classes went in one ear and out the other. Rogue might as well have been a ghost.

At the end of the first week, when Mr. Summers took him aside to talk to him, Bobby got up and walked away. He walked past Rogue and Jubilee and Kitty and everyone else who had come second.

He’d never even told St. John he came first.

Bobby climbed the stairs to their, his, room and locked the door behind him. He made his way over to the dresser that Johnny wouldn't use again and dug through the detritus in Johnny’s top drawer until he came across the matches. Bobby pocketed one set of matches before sliding the entire drawer out and taking it in the bathroom.

Locking the door, he emptied the entire drawer into the tub and sat down on the floor. Then he pulled out the matches, from a place called Trinity that served Genoshian cuisine, and he set the contents in the tub on fire.

Bobby didn’t cry. The shock wouldn't let him.

He hadn't even known what to fear until it happened, and for some reason the fire made it better.



-fin-

Artwork courtesy of Kattiya.

Notes: ‘There Goes the Fear’ by Doves.