"All Creatures Great and Small"
"Babes in Smallville"
"The Ballad of Trish and Henry"
"Bobby and Hank say 'Farewell, New York' and Other Things"
"Bobby and the Beast"
"Bobby's Casserole"
"Bobby vs. Pat Sajak"
"A Certain Face"
"Confounded Computer!"
"A Day at the Races"
"A Day in the Life"
"Dispensing the Shopping"
"The Early X-Men in Studio 54"
"First, Do No Harm"
"For Remembrance"
"From the Dais with the Closed Coffin"
"The Good of the Many"
"Gunslinger Dreams"
"Heard No More"
"A Homely Touch"
"I Do Not Love Thee, Mr. Twinkie"
"The Lecture"
"Longest Night"
"Love Is Just Another 4-Letter Word"
"Magic Breakfast"
"Making the Call"
"Midnight Twinkie Run"
"Miss April's Stars & Garters"
"The Morning Paper"
"Neon Hearts"
"The No Story"
"Not a Creature Was Stirring"
"The Oath"
"Personal Delivery"
"Point Blank"
"The Power-Whup Girls"
"The Price of Coffee"
"Pygmalion's Silence"
"Rumble in Kitchen Stadium"
"The Shadow Inside"
"The Shi'ar Coffee Story"
"Shoot Me"
"A Friend, Sleeping"
"A Small Addiction"
"Some Assembly Required"
"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue"
"Start Spreading the News"
"Such Sweet Sorrow"
"Tale of the Last Twinkie"
"Never Mess with a Furry Blue Genius"
"The TD2001"
"Tear Sheets"
"A Test of Power"
"Tripping into the Light Fantastic"
"Twenty First Century Guy"
"When in Rome"
"When Tomorrow Comes"
"Written from Purgatory"
"The Wyoming Pie"
"X-Men #75"
"Yummy Yellow White Surprise"
"Zero Degree Celsius"

DISCLAIMER: The X-Men belong to Marvel Comics. This is an unauthorized use of the X-Men. I am not making any money off of this so please don't sue me. This fanfic is copy-right by me, Link.
I am continuing my GRE series. (Graduate Record Exam, for those who are unfamiliar.) Since a couple of people voiced their opinion that I shouldn't be using so many big words, I'll be nice and include only half the usual number of vocabulary words. Any less than that and I am defeating the whole purpose of writing this story. If you see a problem with any word usage, email me!

Zero Degree Celsius

Bobby Drake laid out on the cement surface by the swimming pool, facing head down, staring at the water. Had anyone been around to see, they would have thought he was lounging around, trying to catch some rays. Though some people might find it hard to sunbathe while wearing a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt. In truth he was hard at work practicing. With the Danger Room out of commission, there was very little he could do but practice by the pool. And practice he must. Storm was a hard teacher and she expected results. No more jokes or stunts. It was time to get down to business.

"Be all that you can be," he hummed half-heartedly to himself.

Bobby checked the temperature of the water with a thermometer Dr. Reyes had most nicely given to him, which was a huge change from her standard saturnine manner. He was still a few degrees off from what he was aiming for. He sighed disappointedly and lowered the thermometer back in the water again. He thought he had it right this time, but again he fell short of expectation.

It wasn't so much that he needed practice freezing water. What he needed was fine-tuning; at least that was what Ororo told him. Could he lower the temperature of water to any point he wanted, not just to the point of freezing? Could he, say, lower it to exactly zero degree Celsius, but get the water as cold as possible without letting it become solid? Bobby had never thought of testing his powers in that fashion, to simply control the temperature of anything containing water molecules. He always assumed making ice was good enough in the superhero racket.

Among other things, there was a lot to water than making water balloons and snow cones. More than he realized. More than he really cared to know, he grumbled. Hank was more than helpful with supplying all the references he needed. Where he got the books was a mystery to him since the mansion was stripped of everything. Bastion managed to even steal all the dry paint and all the wallpaper. What was he going to do with their wallpaper? Redecorate? He chuckled. Yet another unsolved mystery, kind of like the mystery he was facing now. Why wasn't the water at zero degree?!

Anyone who took high school chemistry would know that water normally froze at zero degree Celsius, but very few would know that the density of water was highest at four degrees Celsius. Besides that, there were heat of fusion, vaporization, and sublimation to know, and those wonderful hydrogen bondings to understand as well. All were impalpable topics of thermodynamics he found entirely too hard to concentrate on as a teenager. Still as an adult he found the subject much too dry and abstruse. Why Hank willingly read any of the books he gave him was beyond him. The authors of the physics book he read seemed determined to obfuscate even the simplest of concepts.

He checked the thermometer again and groaned. Oh goody, he was almost there. Two more degrees. He certainly made progress. Not! Bobby began to question the accuracy of Dr. Reyes's thermometer. Maybe it wasn't working right. Maybe he should test it on something else first. Calibrate it, as Hank would say. He sighed. Or maybe it was just him. He let his head sagged down, resting his chin against the inner wall of the pool. A few strands of his hair make contact with the surface, breaking the smooth exterior of the water. He then frowned at his nugatory reflection and recited, "Water, water in the pool, who's the dumbest at this school?" Why did he feel like such a nincompoop?

"Talkin' to yerself, kid."

Never expecting to hear a response, Bobby froze (no puns intended) and lost his concentration. His reflection suddenly vanished as the water took on a new form. Within a split second the entire swimming pool solidified and transformed into an outdoor skating rink.

"Great!" Bobby shouted, clearly frustrated. It would take forever for the ice to melt and Ororo expected results by the end of the afternoon. He flipped over onto his back and glared angrily at Logan. His untimely advent wasted a whole hour's practice. The vertically challenged Canadian, seeming apathetic to the whole business, simply settled down underneath the shade of a tree. Dressed in a pair of Bermuda shorts, he looked like he was heading for the beach. He pulled the brim of a cowboy hat down and covered his face with it before he mumbled some sort of an apology to him.

Bobby sat Indian style and stared warily at Logan, who was in the process of taking a nap. Well that was new. Logan was never garrulous so that wasn't the new part. He was a man of very few words to begin with, but his adventitious arrival and his quizzical lassitude worried him. Was Logan trying to beguile him into a false sense of security? Was he in fact planning to waylay him for stealing his breakfast?

"Watcha ya lookin' at? Can't a man take a nap?" Logan spoke bluntly through his hat.

"Just wondering what you 're doing here. Don't you—"

"Takin' a break," he cut in abruptly. Silence followed.

"Okay Mister Grumpy," Bobby muttered quietly under his breath. "Don't bite my head off."

More silence. He was sure Logan heard that last comment. With his heighten sense of hearing, he should be able to hear Bobby breathe, but there was no sharp riposte. He didn't know if he should be disappointed or stunned. Maybe more of the first and less of the second. It was pointless thinking about it. Obviously Logan wasn't in the mood for games. He certainly wasn't that morning when Bobby snatched his food. Whatever did possess him to swipe the cereal box like that? Did he have some sort of a death wish? He guessed he was
just being inane again.

Bobby stood up with his hands on his waist and viewed the pool. Dr. Reyes's thermometer was stuck halfway in the ice. It would be there for a while, but now what was he suppose to do until the ice thawed? Too bad Bastion ran off with his ice skates, he mused. It had been long time since he last skated. He could always find his best pal, the giant blue fur ball, and hang out with him, but Hank was probably busy with the Legacy Virus or something equally important.

Or he could keep Scott company. Bobby heard that old fearless leader made a few attempts at escape from his room. Knowing him, he was dying of boredom. Scott was never the type to sit still in bed and do nothing. Maybe he could interest him in a game of Scrabble. Oh wait, that was no good either. Bastion took that too.

"How's practice? 'Ro ain't an easy teacher."

"Huh?" Bobby turned around, surprised. Logan was still under his hat; his arms folded in a fallacious manner of sleep. "Just peachy. What about you? How's Marrow treating you?"

He grumbled in reply something Bobby couldn't quite make out. Logan was famous for his scurrilous remarks, but Bobby couldn't resist the opportunity to ask, "Excuse me, I couldn't tell. Was that growl or snarl I heard?"

"I said, 'I've been through worse. I'll survive.'"

Bobby could almost laugh out loud. He could just imagine who Logan was taking a break from. Marrow was a rare find. A real firebrand. She took an immerse pleasure in gibing, harassing and tormenting everyone, especially Logan since he was one of her favorite targets. In a strange way, Marrow reminded him of Logan, a younger female version of him. They were both amazingly recalcitrant people who enjoyed the occasional mayhem and destruction. It was funny how they didn't get along with each other. Instead their relationship was very volatile; Logan being the gunpowder and Sarah being the lighted match. The refractory teenager was going to get one of these days, that was for sure. Logan had only so much patience before he blew his head off. Then it was advisable to be in the next county. He was about to ask Logan something else when something grabbed his attention.

"Get back here you little-- you big overgrown bathroom mat!"

"What was that?" Bobby tried to find the source of the disturbance. Logan on the other hand, only groaned and turned over onto his side.

"Wake me when the coast is clear, bub."

Hank came bounding over the bushes, making a straight run towards Bobby. Behind him in hot pursuit was Dr. Cecilia Reyes. Hank reached him and placed Bobby between him and an angry Cecilia. "It behooves you to defend me, Bobby. Cecilia is upset ... How should I elucidate? A minor misunderstanding involving ... uh, donuts."

"Donuts?" Bobby gaped. He waited for the punch line from Hank, but found he was dead serious.

"Drake! If you know what's good for you, you better step away from him now!" Cecilia stormed her way to them, her fists clenched, her eyes burning.

"Now Cecilia. No need to hurt the Hankster over donuts."

"Not over donuts, Drake! It's what he said after eating all my donuts."

Hank coughed and cleared his throat. "Let me first say that those donuts were communal."

"And you ate them all," Cecilia countered.

Flustered, Hank replied, "Well true that may be, but for a good reason. You see I had not--"

"Save it, McCoy. I don't want to hear it." She then turned her gaze over to Bobby. "You got ten seconds to step away from him or else."

"Uh, Hank, what did you say to her to get her all riled up?"

Bobby mumbled over his shoulder. Hank, in his best effort, was trying to hid behind Bobby. A very impressive feat since he was so much bigger than him.

"Nothing really important--"

"I'll tell you what he said." She folded her arms and glared venomously at Hank. If Hank wasn't so hairy, he could probably see him sweating now. "He said that I was fortunate that he ate all the donuts or else I might put on some unsightly weight around the hips!"

"You didn't, Hank?" Bobby looked horrified at him. Never, never comment on a woman's weight. Violating such a taboo was asking for trouble, even he knew that.

"Not in those exact words," he said in his defense. "I swear it was meant as a jest."

"There, you see. He only meant it as a joke. Hank is not as good as me when it comes to the haha, but his heart was in the right place. And between us, Hank gets a little loony when he has too much sugar. Can't trust what comes out of his mouth then." Somehow that didn't appease her anger. In the corner of his eyes, he could see Logan slowly moving away on all-fours. He couldn't blame him. Under the circumstances he wanted to do the same thing, but there was a certain rule he always followed and that was stand by your best pal no matter how gruesome the situation was.

"A joke?" she repeated. She relaxed her arms a bit and she glanced over to Beast. He tried to put on his most sincere smile.

"Hank, you're really sorry right."

He hurriedly agreed, "I most humbly apologize for any offense that I may have inadvertently inflicted upon you."

Even though it was hard to tell, her face softened and she relented. Ya! Score one for the Iceman!

"What did you do to the pool?" she asked haphazardly, trying to change the subject.

"Had a little accident and--"

"Is that my thermometer? What's it doing in there?!" she demanded.

"Like I said, I had a little accident and..." His sentence trailed as he saw the look on her face. "Uh, oh, I'm in trouble."

Cecilia knelt down and tried to retrieve it, but it was stuck fast. "Is this how you treat other people's things? Freeze them?"

Hank quickly interceded for Bobby. "Like my jovial friend said, it was only an accident and--"

"Be quiet," she snapped. "I haven't forgiven you yet." She continued to work on pulling it out. "I let you borrow it for one afternoon and this is what happens."

Hank nudged Bobby and whispered, "May I make a hasty suggestion."

"What is it?"

He shouted in a deep voice, "To the Batmobile!" He had his hand stretched out in a silly pose, pointing to who knows what.

Bobby nodded. "Right!" Together they rushed off, leaving Cecilia behind yelling after them.