Disclaimer: Everyone mentioned in this belongs to Marvel. But ... Heh heh heh. They aren't making any more money out of this than I am.
Notes: I knew that I hadn't finished with Bobby. Thanks to KJ, Poi, Pebbs, Dia and Sparks who have between them helped to get this fic out of my head.
This is completely unrelated to A Different Theatre, other than the fact that they're both about our favourite Bobby-boy.
Feedback: Geez, do you think? Of course, I'm a fic writer. I may not live for it, but it certainly makes me feel like I'm not posting to a void.

Coming Home
by Mel


You can practically hear it.

The sound of the bungie-strength cord, dragging me back.

Back to ... reminders. Reminders of what I'm not. It's not so hard to hide the fact that I'm a screw-up from the rest of the world when I'm not there. When I'm not home.

Home, home is where the heart is. I've tried, but basically, that's where that faulty organ is buried. Deep down, under the labs, under the Danger Room, there's a dysfunctional heart beating.


And I'll go back again. There's always someone around to laugh at my jokes. To welcome the Bobster back.

Bobby. Can you think of any name less suited to an adult?

Okay, maybe Cindi. But that's just unfair bringing up that name. Cheating by means of cutsy-ness.

Anywho, you can see that they like me. They laugh. They groan when I come back into the Danger Room. Always late.

It used to be a joke, being late all the time. It wasn't, when I first came to the school, because of sleeping up. I used to get up before all of them. I'd have watched at least an hour of cartoons before the training sessions. There was always just one more ad-break though. Just one more episode. Then I'd be late, and still not dressed.

I'd rush down, and there they'd be. Started already. I didn't like to say what I'd been doing. They might've stopped it. Stopped me watching those early morning cartoons. So I grinned, and cracked a joke so they laughed with me, and did it again. The legend of King Slacker was born, and reigns unchecked to this day.

Even back then, the powers were so cool. Imagine being able to fly, or shoot beams out of your eyes. Mine just never seemed to measure up. Partly, let's be honest, because I was so busy staring at them. They were just so together. Scott was already practically the fearless leader he is now, Warren's like Mr Cool himself, even then. Not to mention Hank. He'd been a football hero, he was so smart. And they all hung out with me! Little Bobby Drake. I was so terrified of being forgotten amongst these god-like creatures, I'd do anything for attention.

I can see all of that now. But more, I can still feel the almost terror of being forgotten. Of being dismissed. Of not being noticed. So I worked hard at it. I spent time constructing the most elaborate pranks, and relished every single time they worked. With Scott being so dedicated to the team, Hank so intelligent, just eating up any studies, and Warren so ... Warren, I fell back on being the old favourite. Class clown. I made sure that everyone laughed with me, not at me. Noticed me. They were generally bright pink and scratching as they chased me, but they certainly knew I was around.

Yeah, it's an old story. I feel no pride in it. But then about the only thing I feel proud of, really, is the way I have something to say on every occasion. It's not as easy as it looks. I have a stern regimen. Half an hour making faces in the mirror every morning, followed by an hour of quips. Later, I have half an hour of snappy rejoinder recitals, and every night before I go to bed, I have to practise my patter.

Yeah. That's almost as funny as gunfire, I know.

How you act is habit-forming. If I wasn't bad enough most of the time, get me around the other 'original X-Men', and I swear I can feel zits popping out, and my brain sliding comfortably back to 15. What an age. What a laugh.

Someone always does. Laugh, that is. You can practically hear it.

"That Bobby!"

Can't you hear it? It's silent, but my name is actually Bobby-the-joke Drake. Bobby-the-fool, Bobby-the-hopeless.

Sometimes it isn't so silent.

When anyone talks about my love life, for example.

Not that I blame them for that. To be honest, I laugh at my love life, too. After all, grown men don't cry.

We've joked about it. About why I have yet to have a relationship that actually worked. That lasted. The theories coming thick and fast. My accent, my hair, my dress sense, or lack thereof. Maybe it's the way that I couldn't be a 'bad boy' if I dyed my hair black and wore red contacts. After all, nice guys do finish last. Although from what I've heard, women prefer that. Perhaps it's my sense of humour. They tell me that women don't appreciate having their dinners frozen solid.

You need to joke about things like that, even if it sometimes seems I'm the only one who knows that. So I try to share the humour. For goodness sake, if you can't see the humour in a bunch of adults prancing around in spandex, what can you laugh at?

Of course, it probably helps them, not to constantly see the silly side. Can't they see how completely ludicrous it is for us, for me, to be terrorists? To be fighting against Magneto, or the Phalanx? Can't they see the lunacy?

They can't. You can tell by the way that they still stand and fight. They still train every morning, happily matching themselves against computer simulations of aliens, evil mind controllers, machines, nature. That awes me. It frightens me, too. They invite me into this. They want me to be there with them when they fight. They want me by their side.

Not at their backs though. They might want me there, but they know me. They may trust me, but they don't quite depend on me.

Because you can't. I know that. I don't either. Bobby Drake just isn't the kind of person you can depend on.

After all, I don't push myself. I'm not the best at what I do. Mostly because I don't do much. Everyone knows that. Knows I don't ever bother to put much effort in. Which I wouldn't deny, I don't bother. Having to be shown what I could do if I wanted to by Emma was an eye-opener. For starters, it was yet another 'could do better', amongst the 'must try harder's on the great report card of life.

Definitely a straight C student, is Bobby Drake.

There are people who know me as Robert. Not many. In the 'real world.' The world where Robert Drake is a responsible accountant. The world which has so little grip when that umbilical cord snaps tight again.

And it always does. I used to think it would be easy to leave. To go live somewhere I could start over. With so-called normal inadequacies, like trying to make the rent, and getting a date without people like Warren hovering over me. Funny thing, it felt worse.

Worse, because all of a sudden I didn't know how to act, which is something that I'd always known before. I'd thought I always knew my role. I always knew which character I had to play. Court jester, to Scott's Leader, Hank's Wise-man, Warren's Playboy, and Jean's Noble Queen. It even worked that way with the 'new X-Men.' Logan's the Wildman; Rogue, the Steel Magnolia; Sean, the Irish Cop. Suddenly I didn't have the back-up. The script changed. Which was exactly what I both wanted and couldn't deal with.

Maybe it wasn't so funny.

I was keeping secrets, but that was only unusual because now they were big ones. I couldn't be myself. No more than I could with the X-Men. I've figured out since then that no one ever truly 'is themselves' no matter what might be thought by hopeful teenagers. All you can do is hope to cover how much of a screw-up you are. I'm a trained terrorist. I know how to do protective camouflage better than almost anyone.

Still, there's always a hole. I still want to be with the god-like people.

Partly because of the awe. They trust in The Dream, to some extent, all of them. Deep in my head, I know just how humorous that is. Just how wacky, zany and down-right insane. The curse of the jester. Who'd have thought there was a downside?

Not that I do what I do for selfish reasons. I don't think there's anything about me that's important enough to do heroing selfishly for. I do want to make someone's life better. I want to make it so that other people don't need quite so much cover. Quite so much hiding.

So, back I come. Home. To friends, and more than friends.

To Iceman, the Bobster, everyone's bud.

To Bobby Drake.


Honey? I'm home!

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