Disclaimer: Bobby, Lorna, and all other Marvel characters are exclusive and sole property of Marvel Comics. I hold no claim and make no profit. Mitchell however is mine -- ALL MINE! -- and may not be used without permission.
Note: Archiving is fine, just tell me please. Feedback is worshipped and venerated. To full understand this story, please read my other fic, 'NightMares'. Warning: Sap alert ;-)

by Micaela

Bobby Drake very slowly tapped his forehead several times agaisnt the steering wheel in his car, eyes closed, mustering strength.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped from his Ford into the brightly lit parking lot of Smithdall Elementry, self-consciously adjusting his suit.

Walking across the lot, he smiled weakly at several other parents, who looked at the famous mutant with expressions ranging from shock to pleasure to simmiring anger. Steeling himself, he reminded himself that now was not the time to be worrying about bigots; he had more important matters at hand.

The school's hallway was dimly lit, but clean; he grinned at the huge child created mural that graced a wall, reminded of his own childhood. Smithdall could be the same place he had attended at his stepsons age, but for one important difference.

Smithdall was the first (and so far, only) Elementry school in the New York state area to publically accept mutant students. This had caused major public outcry, but had made Smithdall one of the few places an obviously mutant child would be in any measure safe.

Bobby ran his slightly sweaty hands through his brown hair, and adjusted his tie in the mirror before entering the principal's office. He had come right from work to deal with a little ... problem.

"Mr.Drake, I hope you understand that an incident like the one earlier today will not be tolerated." Mrs.Muchosky, school principal informed him, her nose turned up.

"Of course, ma'am." Bobby replied, looking nervously around the office, "Lorna and I will see into this matter immediantly. Mitch doesn't normally act like this..."

"Yes, well." Mrs.Muchosky grumbled, her face pinched, "We do have a reputation to uphold, Mr.Drake. Smithdall is reknowned for its success with -- special -- students like Mitchell. This incident could ignite a firestorm of controversy."

Why can't you just say it? Bobby asked her silently, feeling the weight of the world press down on his shoulders. Mitch isn't 'special' -- he's a mutant. Just like his mother is and his ... father was. Just like I am. And you don't have to insinuate, Muchosky. I know you will suspend Mitch from Smithdall if this happens again. Trust me, I know. Just like every principal of every school I ever enrolled him at told me they would do if this ever happened.

"I understand perfectly", Bobby said aloud, "And I assure you, this will not happen again. May I see Mitch?"

"See that it does not!" Mrs. Muchosky snapped, "And yes, you may."

Mitchell sat, hunched down, in a plastic chair in the waiting room. His small, green-haired head stared at the dull brown carpet, looking miserable.

"Hey." Bobby called.

"Hey." Mitch mumbled, still miserable.

Bobby knelt beside him, close enough to reassure him with his presence, but not so near that he would seem threatening. He lightly scratched his neck and quietly asked, "You wanna talk about it?"

"No." pouted Mitch, thrusting his lower lip out.

"You sure?"


Mitch sank lower into his chair, and his face disapeared underneath a thick cover of his own dark green hair. Resting his elbow on the arm of the chair, he proped up his chin with the palm of his hand.

Bobby paused for a second, searching for just the right way to phrase this.

"You ... you know you're going to have to apologize to Anthony, don't you?"

Mitch's head shot up, a look of genuine surprise, anger, and shock in his wide, ice blue eyes.

"But I'm not sorry!" he shot back with an amazing amount of force and naivete.

Bobby sighed and closed his eyes. This was gonna be harder than he'd thought...

"I ... I know that, Mitch." he said slowly and clearly, "but you have to apologize to Anthony for what you did."

"But he deserved it!" protested Mitchell self-righteously. "He deserved it, and I'm not sorry, and I won't apologize!" He let the words hang there, spoken with all the innocent certainty that an eight year old can muster.

"I don't know about the deserving part." Bobby said evenly, eyeing Mitch with a skeptical look, "And I know you're not sorry. I wouldn't be either, after what he said. But sometimes..." he bit his lip and took another breath, trying so hard to find the words, "sometimes we have to do things we don't want to."

Mitch glared at him, disbelieving. "But--"

"No buts. You have to apologize. Do you want me to call your mom? She will tell you the same thing."

Mitch's face flew up, a look of panic now replacing the anger. "You're not going to tell my mom, are you?!" he cried, and Bobby was surprised not to see a typical 'I'll be grounded!' look on the little boy's face. Instead, there was a desperate look of someone who wanted to spare someone else they loved pain.

Bobby surpressed a surge of pride; after all this was over, he would have to take Lorna aside and congradualte her for raising someone as selfless as Mitchell. He was proud, but the feeling of surprise quickly passed. Mitchell loved his mother with a passion usually reserved for lovers, and was convinced it was his goal in life to spare her all pain.

"Mitch, you know I will. If I don't, then Mrs. Muchosky will. Who do you want your mom hearing this story coming from, me or Mrs. Muchosky?"

Mitchell wrinkled his nose. "You. Definetly you."

Bobby surpressed the urge to chuckle. "Okay, so do you understand?"

Mitch glowered at him. "I still don't want to."

"He said he was sorry."

"But he didn't mean it!" Mitch roared, naked fury in his eyes, "If he meant it, he wouldn't have said those things in the first place!"

Bobby reached out and placed his hands on his step-sons shoulders. "I know it's hard..."

"Hard! It's wrong! He deserved it, saying what he said!" Mitch gulped, and continued, "Anthony was so stuck up, always talking about how smart he was and how he always got A's and how his dad never has to go to parent-teacher conferences--" At that, Mitch halted, staring Bobby in the face with an apologetic gaze.

"If he was so smart, he would've seen that I was gonna hit him and gotten outta the way!" Mitch grumbled, breaking eye contact and slumping into his seat.

The eight year old pouted some more. Bobby couldn't help but sigh when he saw the indignant look on his face. "Awwright." Mitch finally caved, "but I don't see why I have to! It's not like I hurt him bad!"

Thank God you didn't use your powers, Bobby thought, as a horrible vision of the annoying Erriks boy flying through a window, propelled by magnetic forces, flashed through his mind.

"That's not the point." he said aloud, taking Mitch's hand in his. "The point is that you acted without thinking, and gave him a black eye. You have to apologize for that."

"I still say he deserved it." Mitch persisted, looking at his much smaller, paler hand clasped in the strong grasp of Bobby's palm. "Did Mrs. Muchosky tell you what he called my mom?!"

"Yes, she did." said Bobby, deeply troubled. He had hoped Mitch would never hear the deragatory comments Anthony Erriks had directed towards Lorna. Gulping, he gently squeezed Mitch's hand within his own. What will the future hold for him, Bobby asked himself, when he discovers the world only gets colder from here? And what will happen to the world if it breaks him?

He shivered; not from cold, as cold had no affect on the Iceman, but from fear. Mitchell was going to be powerful, gifted (or cursed, as some would have it) by the immense magnetic forces at his command. Angered once all ready, he had struck out at a threat; thanks be to whatever higher powers there were that it was not with his mutant powers. But next time...?

Bobby chose to shove that particular train of thought to the very back of his mind, and stood up instead. "Are you ready, Mitch?" he asked, looking out the door's window. He could see Mr. and Mrs. Erriks standing outside. They both looked positively terrified at the 'attack' by a powerful, potentially Alpha Class mutant on their defenseless son. Bobby groaned inwardly. He looked back at his son.

"Yeah." Mitch sighed, hopping from the plastic chair. "Yeah, I'm ready Dad."

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