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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

DISCLAIMER: "Between the Woods and Frozen Lake" is an unauthorized work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made. The story is copyright of Tilman Stieve ( You can download this and copy it for your entertainment, but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers on you. Please do not archive this on your website without informing me first.
Warning: There is a little sexyness in the final two parts of the story, but it's not really that explicit, so I feel a bit silly to mention it. Still, some people may regard it unsuitable for children.
Introduction The following is a companion piece to "Lights in the Dark", which can be found on the same website. The White Queen and Iceman are the main characters. It should be comprehensible on its own. However, it belongs to a series of stories, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik.
**Acknowledgment** Thanks to Denise Keppel for an idea that is so plausible and compelling that I'm beginning to think it's what Scott Lobdell intended all along.

Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
A Tale of Robert and Ms. Frost

It was early in the afternoon of December 27 when, after a longish drive from the airport at Fort Hope, Emma Frost's vintage Cadillac drove up between snow-covered trees to her estate in Northern Ontario. The big white limousine passed through a wooden gate next to an antique cast-iron street-lantern and stopped inside a cobbled courtyard. The chauffeur, a pink-skinned giant in a gray uniform, got out to open the door for the head of Frost International and her guest for the holidays, a former accountant and current X-Man called Robert Drake. Another servant, the chauffeur's twin except for his green skin, opened the mansion's massive wooden portal to let them in. The courtyard had been specklessly cleared earlier that day, so the newly-arrived Americans did not have to watch their footing.

"Wow, that is some place you have here!" said the young superhero as he got out of the car. And so it was. Though somewhat smaller than the Xavier mansion that had over the years become Iceman's home, this building looked a lot more imposing. Its dark gray granite walls could really be said to loom.

"My father had bought it from the original owners who had it freighted here from England," the White Queen replied as she oversaw her two servants unloading the suitcases and Bobby's backpack from the car's spacious trunk and carrying them inside. "They obviously were new money," she added, "which explains why they chose a building that had been pretty much spoiled in its last major rebuilding, about a hundred years ago. It's not exactly Xanadu, but it comes close. But father mainly wanted it for the location."

It looked totally out of place here in the wilds of Northwestern Ontario, although it seemed rather in keeping with Emma Frost's image as an Ice Queen, an image that was common enough among the traders on Wall Street, the executives and secretaries of Frost International's administrative hierarchy, and not least among her students at the Massachusetts Academy, the Xavier Institute's branch in Snow Valley. While no way near as huge as Charles Foster Kane's palatial home, there were elements of a castle to this place. The towers with their conical roofs were just what you would expect from a place where Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen felt at home. Fittingly, the roofs were thickly covered in snow. Bobby shuddered involuntarily, which was all the more noticeable for as the X-Men's Iceman he was impervious to cold.

"Guess this 'castle' looks a bit more inviting in the summer," he said lamely, immediately regretting it. Almost nobody ever gets invited here, he thought, and the first thing you do is tell her that you find her retreat intimidating. Great going, Drake! And of course, after that thought had flashed through his mind, it was immediately followed by another, only too familiar one: Did Emma catch that telepathically?"

Emma, however, gave no outward reaction to his embarrassment, and answered: "Yes, the flowers in the garden make a world of a difference," as if she saw nothing out of the ordinary in his remark. Maybe the training he had gone through with Jean and Betsy actually did help him to improve the shields around his mind. She motioned him to enter the building, and Bobby did so, barely managing not to stumble over the threshold with his mind so occupied.

Once inside, he found himself inside a two-story hall furnished in mock-Tudor style, with wood-paneled walls, huge oaken beams on the ceiling, and a gallery all around at the upper floor. As Emma Frost proceeded through the formal sitting-room towards her study, the green-skinned giant led Bobby upstairs to show him to his room. Passing through a dark corridor, the two reached a large bedroom furnished with an antique four-poster bed. Before going inside, Bobby turned back to look inside the open door the room on the other side of the corridor, Emma's he surmised as it was already lit up and ready. It looked like the work of a modern (but not really post-modern) designer, no doubt an expensive one. Just as the mansion looked out of place in its surroundings, this room looked out of place in the mansion.

As Bobby unpacked his backpack, he pondered about this. Why would Emma have had such a room put inside this historic, or at least pseudo-historic building? Did she want to give concrete form to her feeling out of place in her family? He looked around. The wardrobe, bookshelves and chests looked as antique as the bed, but he suspected the chairs were reproductions -- they had too few visible signs of wear and tear. The coffered ceiling was of dark wood, as was the paneling that reached halfway up the walls. On the long wall opposite the window were two old paintings, a man and a woman, probably husband and wife, in Elizabethan costume. The third painting, next to the door was more recent, a Norman Rockwell portrait of a slim man in an old-fashioned business suit, maybe Emma's Boston Mandarin grandfather. The gray-haired tycoon looked sternly from the gold frame, as if he was displeased to see a mere middle-class mutant in his estate. Bobby grinned at him, thinking of the way his own father had repeatedly indicated his displeasure with the female friends he had brought over to the Drake family home. What would the elder Frost have said about him? "At least he's not Irish, like those confounded Kennedy boys"?

Bobby's mind wandered off on another track. For years he had felt uncomfortable when he visited at home; it took a long time for him to realize that his father was an discontented man who harbored many prejudices. He had always been dissatisfied with his son, silently resenting the fact that he was a mutant. Only about a year ago had the two reconciled, after his father had stood up in a political rally to oppose Graydon Creed's message of hatred. He had been beaten up by some of the thuggish element of the Friends of Humanity afterwards, and Bobby had rushed to his bedside to wait for him to recover from his coma together with his mother and some of his teammates. Rogue had been with Bobby when he woke, almost as if fate had wanted to help heal the hurt of the acrimonious parting when Rogue and Iceman had last seen him before.

Willie Drake then had tried to be a kinder and more considerate father. He went out of his way to be friendly to Emma Frost when his son started to spend more time with her. Ironically that caused a temporary rift between Bobby and the Queen as Bobby had expected his father to worry about him dating a woman who was seven years his senior and had a not undeserved reputation as a 'mind-witch', and so he grew a little suspicious when that did not happen. For a moment he had suspected Emma of subconsciously using her telepathic powers to ensure William and Madeline Drake's approval. When he had asked Jean to make sure that she hadn't, Emma did not answer his calls for two days. Then she abruptly relented and decided that "when you're a telepath you have to make allowances if people feel antsy around you." Cutting short his profuse apology, she said that if he felt she was worth the risks he knowingly entered by being with her, she couldn't well blame him for just being prudent where his loved ones were concerned. But that lay in the past, and his parents, who had unknowingly caused their first major spat, were at the moment on the Bermudas for Christmas and New Year's Day, at Emma's expense.

Bobby was roused from his reveries by Emma knocking on the doorframe: "I trust you find everything satisfactory?" Her tone was soft, yet self-assured, with the accustomed slight ironic undertone that somehow only rarely seemed to be totally absent from the White Queen's utterings.

"Oh! Er, yes... Of course," he stuttered. "I'll, er, just check the bathroom." He did, almost stumbling over his own backpack in the process.

"Will you please relax, Bobby," said Emma. She walked up toward him and held him by the hand. "I know, this place can be a bit intimidating at first, but you'll get used to it. And to him." She inclined her head towards the portrait. "Grandfather was very formal and imposing, but once I got past that, I found it easy to love him. I was devastated when he died."

Bobby was a little surprised at the emotion in her voice. He knew there was no love lost between Emma and her parents and that there was less tension between Clinton and Gingrich than between Emma and her younger sister Cordelia. Somewhat hastily he had extrapolated that all family relations among the Frosts conformed to the surname.

"How old were you when that happened?"

"Nine years," she replied. She looked at him, with the poker face that was her favorite expression. "Is there anything that would help you be at ease?"

He looked puzzled. Was she making fun of his unease in the imposing surroundings? Verrry probably. A grin appeared on his face: "Oh, I generally like to unwind practicing the Sousaphone. Got one here?"

She smiled back at him daintily: "I believe there's a trombone in Cordelia's room that she no longer uses. And if I'm not mistaken, there's still grandma Jane's old harp in the attic..."

"Nay, milady, 'twill not do," Bobby theatrically declaimed, "but ne'er fear, I shall endeavoureth to maketh doeth without."

Emma Frost smiled. "Well, your cryogenity, they've prepared a little snack for us, if you'd care to adjourn downstairs?"

During the crisis imaginatively called The Onslaught (after the evil psychic being begotten through a fusion of the dark sides of Professor X's and Magneto's personalities), the White Queen had brought her students here to her Canadian estate to keep them safe. She had acted instinctively and telepathically made them do as she told them, as she had for a moment been overwhelmed by the backwash of Onslaught's overpowering presence. It had been a most embarrassing experience for the normally so self-assured headmistress. For a few seconds, her haughty exterior crumbled as she apologized to her students for her actions.

But there had been another, somewhat more comical embarrassing moment: During their enforced 'vacation', Emma Frost had attempted to cook meals for everyone and discovered that she wasn't even up to making a tomato and cheese omelet. Determined never to make a fool of herself again, she had taken a crash course in cookery. And on this, the first evening of Robert Drake's stay, she applied herself to preparing a dinner -- not much for herself, as she had let herself go a little more than she had intended at the Academy Christmas meals, but something a little more substantial for Bobby.

The work went rather well, all things considered. Bobby, accustomed to kitchen duty from living at Xavier mansion for so many years, insisted on helping her, but she would have none of it. She only permitted him to sit with her in the kitchen and talk. She made a slight show of wanting to do it herself, but she really was glad he joined her in the kitchen. But her unaccustomed fashion accessory -- an apron -- exorcised the Ice Queen persona she normally showed to the world. That and the informal surroundings of her modern kitchen were quite conducive for a more relaxed kind of conversation. Very much in contrast to the halting approach earlier in their relationship.

Their mutual interest had started when Emma woke from the coma she had fallen into in a battle which had cost the lives of her entire first class of students, the Hellions. She had been cared for in the X-Mansion's medical center, and one day there had been a malfunction (caused by one of the seemingly never-ending series of attacks on the X-Men's home). Bobby had been standing next to her comatose body at the moment of the power failure, and when the lights came on again, his body was taken over by her psyche. It was a traumatic experience for both of them. In Bobby's body she had managed to elude the X-Men and escape to the Frost International skyscraper in Manhattan, only to discover that the Hellions were all dead. Overwhelmed by grief and blaming herself for their deaths, she had tried to commit suicide by provoking the guards to shoot her. But luckily (as she now saw it) Charles Xavier had telepathically prevented that and saved her life. It was because of this trauma, the remorse over failing to protect her original charges, that she then agreed to become the headmistress for Xavier's new junior class, Generation X.

For Bobby, the experience was traumatic in three ways: firstly, there was the experience of losing his own body to another person's psyche that was very much like rape. Then there was the realization that he had come within a whisker of dying because Emma tried to commit suicide. But what galled him most at all at first was something else: In the short time that she had possessed his body, and without having any experience of his powers, she had used his power of freezing matter and creating ice structures more imaginatively than he ever had in a superhero career spanning several years. So for him his anger was immediately mixed with shame over what he felt was his own inadequacy. By pushing his potential to the limit Emma had, in his estimation, rubbed his nose in the fact that he could and should have done much better in the past.

They got off to a rocky start. When Bobby asked her to help him develop the potential as Iceman, she flatly and brusquely refused, telling him that he would have to do it by himself. She only gave him another taste of the potential of his power by briefly taking control of his body telepathically. And she did it in a way that made him feel she thought he was worthless as a person and a superhero if he failed. In the end that turned out for the best -- the kick in the face he felt proved more efficacious in motivating him than a more solicitous attitude on her part would have been -- but it had hurt. Bad. But he never was able to put her out of his mind.

Another part of the problem was that if there was one thing that Emma Frost wanted to avoid almost at any cost, it was showing weakness. It therefore took quite a while until she mellowed her scornful harshness towards him. She only relented after a second confrontation. Using his powers in new ways (such as freezing the bloodflow to her brain) he had tried to force her to help him after he had been badly wounded while in his ice form. Goading him on in a mocking tone, he helped him face up to some of his personal demons and to take a risk, helping him to help and heal himself. Only then, when he lay exhausted, his head cradled on her lap, did she allow him to glimpse some of her true feelings. For the first time she consciously called him Bobby, and she even apologized, after a fashion ("I'm sorry. I guess.") for pushing him so hard. Some time later she finally dared mention that she had almost killed him in her suicide attempt, something that still gave Bobby nightmares, but which he was now willing to forgive as she had been totally engulfed in despair at the time.

After that he not only had to ponder this glimpse at the surprisingly likable personality she hid inside her hard shell, but that he had also felt a quite different attraction to the elegant Bostonian. Which was not surprising considering the way she looked after her body and dressed in ways designed to show it off to its best advantage. With a shock he realized that for him the intimidating White Queen was beginning to transform into Emma Frost, an intriguing, beautiful woman he would like to know better.

Although the ice between them now had broken (figuratively speaking), it took a while until he mustered up the courage to ask her out for a date. Emma too seemed to take a fresh interest in the new Iceman and said yes. It was not the most smooth of dates. Bobby was busy as much with analyzing his own feelings as with discovering what kind of a person Emma Frost really was. He was still wrestling with nagging doubts if his obsession with her was telepathically induced, but even though he had decided to take the plunge, he was somewhat inhibited on their first evening out. As was she, for having fought most of her life to be strong, she found it hard to open up to another, and risk betraying her inner weaknesses. They had dinner in a fancy restaurant together and afterwards went to see the Barber of Seville in the Metropolitan Opera.

Much of that evening's conversation was small talk and gossip, almost anything to avoid more serious matters. As she always did when she thought she had given away too much of her more tender emotions, she tried to give a spin on what had been said before that would make a listener unsure if she had acted from selfish or unselfish motives. Only when they went for a little dessert after the performance did they open up to each other. Bobby actually got her to admit how much her former and present students meant to her and what regrets she now felt for having failed to protect the Hellions or for having tried to hard to reshape some of them according to the needs of the Hellfire Club and her desire to rise in its ranks. Although, she said, in the case of Warpath and Firestar that ironically worked out for the better, as it drove them away before they would have been killed by Fitzroy. Afterwards, when he dropped her off at the Massachusetts Academy in Snow Valley, she said:

"Guess you got me to let on more than I'd have liked, young Robert. Remind me never again to underestimate an accountant's conversational skills." Then her mouth curled up in an wicked little smile. "Do you think I should better erase those memories from your mind?" It was a cruel kind of joke, one designed to scare away. When she saw his shocked speechless expression, sensed his feeling of betrayal, she immediately regretted it.

"I-I'm sorry Bobby. I'd n-never touch your memories." A nervous hand flew up to brush back an undisciplined strand of her straight platinum blond hair. "Please be patient with me..." And she stretched forward to cover his lips with hers. It was their first hesitant kiss.

And the following days photos of it were plastered all over the Academy and the Mansion. Jubilee had secretly lain in wait with a camera. Bobby was mortified and Emma was not sure if she should be annoyed or amused. In the end she gave Jubilee extra credit for shielding her thoughts well enough so that her headmistress had not noticed she had been awake.

It did not become easier quickly. Slowly, haltingly, with unexpected hitches and breakthroughs they learned to trust one another, to appreciate and cherish each other as persons. Within a matter of months they finally began to trust each other with secret traumas and shames. Emma told him of her traumatized childhood, how her parents had her committed to a mental asylum when at the onset of puberty she started hearing voices in her head. Because they had been too ashamed of what they took as their daughter's mental illness, they did not consult an expert like Charles Xavier (who just at that time had begun treating Jean Grey). Instead, they shunted her off into an exclusive 'clinic'. It was a place where many wealthy families sent children who suffered from depressions or eating disorders, but its dignified exterior hid corruption within. Some of the staff doctors were little better than charlatans. For almost three hellish years Emma was at the mercy of abusive guards. Finally, one day it came to her that if she could the thoughts of others, maybe she could get others to listen to hers. That day she psionically asked, almost begged the guard who came into her cell to take her out. The success was overwhelming: The man carried her out, clubbed down anyone who stood in their way, in the end even set fire to the building, allowing the young girl to escape in the confusion. She succeeded in training herself in the use of her telepathic talents, but in the process she hurt a great many people. It would take years for her to learn to exercise self-restraint.

Bobby too had cause for regret over hurting people. His break-up with Opal Tanaka. Not telling Jean that Scott was married and thereby becoming in part responsible for Madelyne Pryor's descent into hate and madness. But perhaps most of all his involvement in the setting-up of X-Factor, Inc., which set out to secretly save mutants by posing as mutant hunters, but probably did more hurt than good by fueling hate in the public (its mutiphobe television ad campaign probably was the biggest before the advent of Graydon Creed) and fear among mutants (there were cases of closet mutants being so scared of being sought out and captured by X-Factor that they committed suicide). At the time the original members of the X-Men had come back together because they distrusted the others for associating with Magneto, who then was the New Mutants' headmaster in Charles Xavier's absence. So sure were they in their condemnation of the other X-Men, that they did not even bother asking them to explain or justify themselves, but immediately set about to implement a scheme cooked up by Cameron Hodge, whom they trusted because he was a friend of Warren's. But in the end it was revealed that while they were trying to operate with a hidden agenda, they had themselves been deceived by Hodge, who actually was the leader of an anti-mutant terrorist group, The Right. In the end they found that to a large extent they had helped move forward his agenda, and when Warren had apparently committed suicide, most of his millions ended up in Hodge's war-chest. With 20/20 hindsight Bobby realized that he and his friends should have recognized the flaws in the X-Factor scheme Hodge had worked out immediately, and that he really should have stayed in closer touch after leaving the X-Men, gotten to know them personally instead of largely ignoring them, as he had done. Later he discovered that in some cases X-Men he had at first despised, such as Rogue, a former member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, would become close and trusted friends.

And during one of these talks he had finally admitted to himself and to her that he was in love with her.

Now Bobby Drake and Emma Frost almost took it for granted that they would talk about most things, and today the atmosphere between them was so unconstrained, that they pushed the envelope a bit.

As Emma had forbidden him to help her, Bobby teased her a little: "You know, Emma, I must say I'm surprised how well the domestic look suits you. I think I could get used to this."

She gave him an ironic smile: "In your dreams, Drake. You know I'm not the June Cleaver type."

"Awww," Bobby said in mock disappointment. "But seriously, have you ever thought of having a family, you know, kids of your own?"

Emma almost dropped a saucepan.

"Hey, what's the matter Em, you've gone chalk-white." Bobby was nonplused by this stronger than expected response. "So you don't want to have children. It's not that big--"

She silenced him with a glance. "No, it's not that." She paused awkwardly, evidently wrestling with herself what she should say next. at last she swallowed.

"Bobby, promise you'll keep this to yourself?"

He nodded, unsure where this conversation was suddenly going.

"I already have a child," she stated matter-of-factly.

"WHAT?" That was unexpected. Bobby did not know what to ask first and sputtered: "How--? When did it--? What happened to--?"

She sat down next to him at the kitchen table, nervously brushing her hair back from her forehead. "You remember I told you about my time in the clinic? Well, one of the guards especially would ... rape me from time to time, whenever he felt like it."

Bobby made a move to comfort her, but she wanted to show she was strong enough to face the memory of those moments of her greatest powerlessness, of her pain and humiliation. She had gone through that ordeal alone and did not need this offer of sympathy.

"He always used condoms, but one day one obviously tore. I was fifteen. A short time later I discovered how to use my psi-powers and escaped. And a few weeks after that I discovered I was pregnant." She poured herself a glass of wine and took a sip.

"As you can imagine, I was not too sorry that the guard who had impregnated me had died when the clinic burned down. I decided to have the baby. My waters broke the day I turned sixteen, and I gave birth to my daughter the day after." She took another, larger sip. "Some women are old enough to be a mother at that age, but I was not one of them. I would not raise her. I was having enough trouble learning how to handle my powers, how to stop hearing everybody's thoughts in my head all the time."

"You gave her away? I'm--"

"Sorry?" she said, finishing his sentence. "Well, I'm not proud of what I did, but I looked after her. Saw that she was raised in a good family. The best in Boston." The last remark sounded derisive.

Bobby was about to ask if she still sometimes saw her daughter, who now must be about as old as...

His mouth fell open the sudden thought.

...Emma's younger sister.

"Cordelia..." he whispered.

"I'm impressed," she said after a short pause. She had been about to tell him, but he had deduced it himself from her allusions. "Yes, it is she. My darling baby sister, the child my parents had so unexpectedly so late after the first." She rushed to finish the account: "I was angry at them for abandoning me, for putting me in the fix I was in. I felt it was only right if they should take care of Cordelia. So I altered their memories and perceptions. It took a while to get the hang of it, but I had lots of time as I wasn't leaving our home once my condition became visible. Finally, after Cordelia was weaned, I handed her over to mother and went out into the world on my own."

She breathed in deeply: "After that, I saw Cordelia and my parents only rarely. Birthdays, Christmas, that sort of thing. I was busy carving out my new empire on Wall Street and planning to take over the world as part of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. Then, a few years back my parents died in a stupid car-accident, and I had to look after Cordelia again. But I wasn't very good at it -- we had become strangers. I did not dare tell her the truth. I don't think she'd take it well. Truth to tell, I think she hates me. Even as her sister. If I told her now, she'd blame me for everything bad that happened to her after I left her. So I'm still basically waiting for the right moment..."

She wiped a tear from her eye. This time she did not refuse the arm Bobby put around her. "I worry about her, Bobby," she said, "she is up to something. I don't like the company she keeps. She keeps secrets from me..."

"She can do that?"

"Yes, sometimes it happens with close relatives. Scott and Alex Summers are immune to each other's powers, and so it is with Cordelia and my telepathy -- maybe even all telepathy." She finished her glass, but did not refill it. She laughed bitterly. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. She is very much like her mother when she was her age..."

She fell silent. Bobby felt he had to say something. "You'll find a way, Emma, I'm sure..."

She smiled at his optimism, his confidence in her. "Shut up, Bobby, just hold me."

They sat in silent embrace for a minute, during which time Emma regained her composure. She then returned to her self-appointed task of preparing dinner.

"That was a lovely meal," said Bobby Drake as he leaned back contentedly in his chair and laid aside his napkin. "But you must promise me to let me prepare breakfast tomorrow."

"I'd say that's a wonderful offer, but are you sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I have only a glass of orange juice for breakfast?" Emma smiled ironically. "Are you sure your up to squeezing a couple of citrus fruits?"

"Just a glass of juice? But land's sakes, Emma, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!"

She rose and walked up to him, running her fingers through his unruly hair: "Oh Bobby, I wish I had your secret mutant power to ingest food without gaining weight!"

He grinned, looking at the remains of the meal on the table.

"Come on," she said, "let's go sit down by the fire. Do the romantic winter evening bit. We even have the right weather."

Outside there was a minor snowstorm, just enough to provide a counterpoint that made sitting in front of the stucco-decorated fireplace even more cozy. They sat in leather-upholstered rockers, Bobby with a mug of hot steaming cocoa and Emma with a glass of herbal tea. As they sipped their drinks they covered a wide range of topics, but at last they gravitated to what had brought them here: their growing closeness and attraction.

"I must say, Bobby," Emma cautiously began, "you're gutsy. Judging by the present form, it does not look too good for telepaths having a lasting relationship. Doesn't that bother you?"

"Now that you mention it, it does look pretty bad. Professor X failed with most of his women," Bobby knew of three: Moira MacTaggert, Gabrielle Haller, and Amelia Voght, "and when he finally found his soulmate, they conduct their relationship at a distance of millions of light-years most of the time. Jean and Scott always looked like the perfect couple, and now their marriage is on the rocks. And Betsy and Warren just split up. Haven't kept track of what Rachel is up to these days..."

"At any rate, from what I hear, she does not have a steady boyfriend. Or girlfriend, for that matter."

"But does that have so much to do with the telepathy?" Bobby wondered. "In Professor Xavier's case I think it might have, a few times. But Jean would probably have found out in any case. Scott never was a good liar."

"Do I make you afraid, Bobby?"

"Well..." he hesitated. "I know what you can do. But no, I'm not scared of you. It's like with the other X-Men now: You're powerful, but you'd not harm me intentionally."

It was a disarming declaration of trust. For Bobby, Emma had become a new person. Emma, long accustomed to call her own motives into question, both to make herself a mystery to others, and because she often was a riddle to herself, did not know how to reply.

"You're sweet," she finally said, and kissed him on the cheek.

"I know. A big softy. I really should change my name from Iceman to Slushy." His lips found hers and he went into a deep kiss.

Slowly Emma responded. Their tongues began to play with each other. And he heard her telepathic 'voice': *Do you want me, now?*

Bobby pulled back from her lips to speak: "I thought that was why we're here." Was Emma having second thoughts? It might be conceivable, given the trauma of her ordeal in the clinic. Maybe she only liked to talk about sex. Just because she used to dress like a dominatrix didn't mean she actually enjoyed sex. Come to think of it, was there ever proof she had sex after Cordelia's birth?

"Oh, it is ... one of the reasons we came here," Emma replied, adding telepathically: *And as you're wondering -- having been raped as a child did not stop me from developing an appetite for sex. I went wild for a few years. Guess you could say I overcompensated.*

Well, kinky sex is what the Hellfire Club is associated with most in the public eye, Bobby thought.

Emma smiled at him naughtily and took off her shoes and jacket. *Of course in those days I still erased my partners' memories afterwards, which is why there have been no 'kiss-and-tell' stories.* Slowly she unbuttoned her shirt, starting at the bottom. Without bothering to unfasten the top ones, she drew the it apart, revealing her upper body and the lacy bra she was wearing. It was -- of course -- white. Her hands moved to open the clasp in her cleavage, and it popped apart. Her full, soft breasts bobbled free.

They were every bit as large as he had imagined them to be, but deprived of their support, they separated more and fell lower than he had expected. Bobby guessed that was a legacy of Emma's teenage pregnancy and birth. The big nipples in their wide pink, oval areoles pointed up towards him. The sight aroused him no end, as he could feel in his crotch. Her bosom's natural wobbling was so much more attractive than the siliconized 'perfection' of so many of the performers in the porn videos he had watched. Although her breasts had not been left totally in their natural state -- he had not expected to see that both nipples were pierced and decorated with platinum rings, but neither was he really surprised.

Emma amusedly arched an eyebrow at his unguarded thoughts, which immediately put a damper on his ardor. She reassured him: *Relax, Bobby. Familiarity with pornography is nothing to be embarrassed about with a former member of the infamous Hellfire Club. And it's not as if you did not enjoy the more, ahem, unorthodox stuff. When we had our little talk in my private office, I think you rather enjoyed having me spread-eagled and bound.*

During that showdown she had delighted in injecting sexual innuendo when he tied her up in ice shackles. It was as if she was pretending they were playing a game. And in retrospect he found that incredibly arousing, even though Emma had not worn her old dominatrix get-up, but something that for her looked modest.

"If you'll let me, I'll link us," she said, "it's only fair you should also know what I feel..."

Bobby nodded and grinned, gritting his teeth. In for a penny, in for a pound, he thought. No more worrying about the telepathy. As he quickly started to undress, he suddenly felt himself suffused in a wave of her emotions and sensations. Seeing himself through her eyes, sensing the way she felt attracted to his body took some getting used to. He had up until then rarely thought about his own or any other man's body's sexual attractiveness, and now he suddenly experienced the feeling himself. Emma's feelings, he reminded himself. They sure made him see himself in a different light. Compared to her semi-aristocratic elegance, he had always felt awkward and clumsy, but now he knew some of what she saw in him. At least the physical aspects.

Although he was not one of the team musclemen, he was in very good shape through regular exercises and Danger Room workouts. But that Emma was especially drawn to his well-toned back intrigued him, as in guy talks with Hank and the others it was generally the biceps and 'the gluteus maximus' that got mentioned as being especially attractive to women.

*Oh, but you do have a cute butt,* Emma could not resist replying to that last thought as she shed her skirt and panties.

At last they both sat naked on the bearskin rug (*tacky, but nice* as Emma put it) before the fire. Bobby took in her beauty. Although not as muscular as Storm, for instance, her body was well toned and proportioned. An assemblage of incredible curves.

He raised his hand to her left breast and tentatively tugged on one of the nipple-rings, lifting it up. "Doesn't it hurt having a ring there?" he asked.

"Only if you pull too hard."

He immediately let go, and the breast fell back down, jiggling most enticingly. She chuckled. *I had them done in my early days in the Hellfire Club. But I still like them, although I now only wear them enough to preserve the piercings. But I thought you might enjoy them. Even though everybody and his sister has all sorts of body parts pierced.*

You wouldn't also have your navel pierced? I don't see a ring there.

*A ring through my navel? Now that would be sick.* She smiled. *Wellll?*

He leaned forward to kiss her, first on the mouth, then all over her face, beginning a trail down towards her throat as her hands caressed the back of his head, her fingers ran through his hair. He held her in his arms and moved his lips lower towards her torso. Emma pushed her breasts together and raised them towards his face.

As he took the tip of one of them in his mouth, he felt how the sensitive nipple reacted and how it increased Emma's feeling of arousal, thanks to the mind-link. His own body reacted immediately and he had to pause. It was an overpowering feeling, and if he didn't watch out, their lovemaking would be over before it had properly begun.

"Don't worry, Bobby, it'll be fine. Trust me," Emma reassured him. *Now I wonder what it'll feel like with you icing up your lips...*

Late that night, Bobby lay exhausted in Emma's bed, a broad nutty smile on his face. It had been incredible. They had been at it for hours, beginning on the rug before the fireplace and ending in Emma's bedroom -- after Bobby had carried her on an ice-slide jaunt through the garden and up to a second-floor window. The telepathic feedback had enabled them to attune their lovemaking to each other almost perfectly. Rhythms, angles, places to touch -- all these could be found and adjusted immediately for a maximum of mutual pleasure, of ecstasy Bobby had not yet experienced. And by using her psi-control on his pleasure-centers, she had excruciatingly held back his release, drawing out the experience to undreamed-of lengths. Now they were both satisfied. And a little sore.

Emma had got out of bed to pick up a shapeless old sweater and put it on for the night. It was a far cry from her normal sharp and stylish fashion wear, but Bobby liked it. It made her more accessible.

She got in under the silk-covered blanket beside him, resting her head on her right arm and looking down fondly into his eyes. Her left hand lay on his chest, idly playing with its sparse growth of hair.

"You've really spoiled me for all other women, Em," Bobby said.

*Thanks for trusting me with the link.*

At least it demonstrated there's an upside to living with a mindreader, he thought. "You know," he said, "I guess when you're a telepath you can get to a person's core quicker than anybody, but it can ruin your social life when everybody thinks he has to guard his thoughts in your presence. I suppose the hardest part is learning not to use your powers." Especially when you have to learn to use them by yourself.

Emma nodded. *I'm glad we could open up to each other, that you are a friend as well as a lover, but I think we also should work a bit on your psychic defenses. Charles Xavier gave you some training, but that was mainly battle-related, not what you need when you want to live with a telepath.*

She yawned. "But that's a matter for another day."

Emma leaned forward, and they kissed goodnight. Soon she fell asleep.

"Nighty-night, Em," he whispered. And for a while he continued to look at the beautiful form of the sleeping woman with the disheveled platinum blond hair, until he at last fell into a deep slumber himself. He really looked forward to waking up beside her in the morning.




The Author's Notes


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