Title: Lamentation
Author: kaly (razrbkr@juno.com)
Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/kalyw
Rating: PG
Archive: if I've given you permission before, go for it. Otherwise, please ask.
Classification: angst, gen.
Characters: Bobby, Hank
Warnings: character death.
Summary: Bobby reacts to the loss of his best friend.
Note: This is me hoping I'm not totally messing up the characters ;) This is me waiting on your feedback to hear what you think.
Thanks: Kris and Ossian for the read overs :)
Disclaimer: Marvel owns these guys. I just make 'em do what I say for a little while.

by Kaly

It's snowing. That wouldn't be a very odd thing, if it wasn't September. Even in New York it doesn't snow in September. Until now. Until the XMen lost one of their own. It's Storm's way of weeping, though why she chose snow instead of rain I have no idea. I doubt I'll ever know, but right now I can't bring myself to care.

It's comforting in a way. I've always felt more at home in the cold - in the snow and the ice. I shake my head at the thought. I don't want comfort. I don't deserve it.

The man leading the service is droning on and on, but I can't hear the words. Everything is far away, like I'm stuck at the bottom of the pool. It's as if he isn't speaking but just moving his lips, his arms moving in slow motion. Nothing makes sense.

Instead I stick my hands into my pockets and stare up at the sky. In a way I wish it were storming, then I might taunt the lightning to find me. Cosmic retribution. Instead the snowflakes continue to bite my face, but I can't feel them.

I don't want to feel anything right now. I don't want to care.

The service must be over, because the others standing and moving about finally grabs my attention. Some are crying, some aren't as they talk quietly. They could be yelling and sobbing for all I can tell. Not me, though. There's not enough inside me to cry I don't think - maybe I've gotten lucky and it's all frozen.

And all the while, some part of me still wants to crack a joke or pull a prank. Another larger part wishes that's all this was, one huge practical joke on Bobby. It's not, I know that, but it doesn't stop me from wishing. Foolish Bobby, hanging on till the end.

There aren't that many of us here. It's sad really, how few there actually are. But I guess that's part of the whole superhero mutant thing. You have so little time to make 'friends' and there're only so many that bother to mourn when you die. But that's not right -- not for him. Here was this great guy, but in the eyes of most people he was barely a man at all. Less than a man -- no more than a mutant. A monster. A beast.

I barely notice as everyone leaves, ignoring the feeling of their eyes on me. Before long I'm standing alone. But I've been alone all along -- even among my friends and this family we've formed. Maybe it's all I deserve. Looking at the closed casket where it sits waiting to be lowered into the ground, I know it is.

Ever since it happened, the others have kept trying to talk to me. To tell me it's not my fault. That I shouldn't feel guilty. It was an accident, they say. It could have happened to anyone, they tell me. They're wrong. And only I know it. So I nod. I play along. I've even faked a smile or two, but even I know it's just a mask over who I'm supposed to be.

Whenever they do corner me, I wait just long enough before slowly pulling away when they're distracted. Jean and the Professor are the hardest to dodge, but I've managed it somehow. It's not even on a conscious level that I avoid them, anymore. They want to look inside my head but they always ask first -- I can't let them do it. Then they'll know that it really was my fault. I don't know if I could stand it if they hated me too.

It is my fault. All of it. It doesn't matter that I wasn't there when it happened. I caused him to be there. If it hadn't been for me he wouldn't have left. See? It's obvious. All my fault, simple as that. Just one more time Bobby screwed up.

Something inside me cracks, finally. I can barely see, the landscape swimming in front of me. I reach out my hand, feeling as though I'm spanning the gap between life and death. Hardly daring to touch the dark wood, my breath catches in my throat. My knees shake and I lower my head. A tear finally breaks free, frozen on my cheek before it even reaches my chin.

He was my best friend. And I killed him.

It was late, but Hank was still working in his lab. Nearby, Bobby was watching him work, muttering under his breath about missed dinner and obsessive scientists. Hank, naturally, ignored the steady stream of complaints.

Sighing, Bobby kicked his feet and looked around for something, anything, to do. He had offered to help Hank out, if it meant he would actually be sociable and eat dinner outside of his lab for once. Hank, for his part, had accepted the offer. However, he'd soon become engrossed in his latest project.

"Hank." When the other man didn't respond, Bobby tried again. "Hank? Come on, I thought I was supposed to be helping here." He poked at the stand of test tubes next to him. "Tell me something to do already."

No answer.

Bobby rolled his eyes, wondering why he bothered to offer his help. Even when he did he knew Hank wouldn't need any. It seemed to be a pattern of late. Offer to help, be ignored for however long he stayed in the lab before giving up and going upstairs.

Running a hand through his hair he ignored the urge to sigh again. Looking over at Hank he grumbled under his breath, remembering how long it had been since they had actually done something fun. Something he might actually be able to do, too.

A smile turned the corner of Bobby's mouth as an idea began to form.

Hank was peering though the electron-microscope when he noticed a flurry of movement out of the corner of his eyes. A quick glance at where Bobby was perched on the counter a few feet away confirmed his suspicions.

Having apparently given in to boredom, Bobby was creating an ice sculpture on the counter next to him. A double take revealed that who ever it was supposed to be -- ice or not -- was in dire need of clothing.

Hank had barely had time to roll his eyes and turn back to his experiment when more movement caught his attention.

"Robert." Hank didn't look up from the microscope as he spoke. "I would greatly appreciate it if you would move your creation away from that particular piece of equipment before it's..." He paused at the sound of shattering glass, looking over the tops of his glasses at a guilty looking Bobby. "Broken."

Bobby jumped down from the counter and was half way across the room in a heartbeat. He tucked his hands behind his back, and started whistling in a vain attempt to look innocent. "Oops?" he asked a moment later, trying not to grin.

"Oops?" Hank stood, removing his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. Glancing over at Bobby, he turned his attention to his test tube stand. "Do you have any idea what can happen if you mix these particular compounds?" Not waiting for an answer, he set about cleaning the two distinctly colored fluids from the counter.

Once he was sure there was no immediate danger from the chemicals, Hank reached over and pulled Bobby's hands out from behind his back. Since he wasn't writhing in pain, Hank had assumed none had spilled onto his friend, but he felt the need to make sure. Examining Bobby's hands, he asked, "You didn't get any of it on you, did you?"

His smile gone, Bobby pulled his hands free and dropped them to his sides. "No, I..." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Hank. I was just trying to help pass the time..."

"No," Hank interrupted, sparing another glance at the now smoking countertop. "You were trying to cause trouble." Bobby pulled back a step, causing Hank to shake his head. Hank cleared his throat and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. I know you weren't just trying to cause trouble."

As he spoke, Bobby took another step toward the door. The confusion on his face fading into hurt. "Yeah, sure."

"Please don't misunderstand me, my friend." Taking a step forward, he dropped one large hand onto Bobby's shoulder. "As always, I appreciate your attempts at levity. However, this is..." Another concerned glance at the mess, and he continued, "Was a very delicate procedure. And now I'll have to start over."

The younger man nodded, any faint trace of humor having faded from his face. "I get it. Sorry I messed up your work." He shrugged his shoulder to be free of Hank's paw. "I'll leave you to what's important."

"Bobby..." Hank sighed. "It's not that. But in this particular situation, it might be for the best if you were to practice your ice sculptures elsewhere."

Hank couldn't identify the look that passed over Bobby's face in that moment. Instead, he could only stare openmouthed as the younger man turned and hurried out of the lab. Sparing half a glance behind him, Hank turned off the centrifuge before leaving in search of his friend.

Once in the hallway, Hank was just in time to see the elevator door close. Hoping to beat Bobby to the main floor, he ducked up the stairs. He ignored the startled look he received from Jean, who he met as he ran up the stairs two at a time.

Meeting up with Bobby in the main hallway, Hank made a grab for his sleeve, but missed. Just inside the living room he managed to get a hold, and forced Bobby to turn and look at him. "Robert, if you were to just give me a moment..."

"Hank, just get out of my face already." Bobby threw his hands up in the air, turning away from the other man. He refused to look at Hank. "I screwed up, I get it. At least it's something I'm good at. I'll just be careful to make them elsewhere from now on."

Hank moved to stand in front of Bobby. "You aren't hearing what I'm saying. Be reasonable, my friend."

Bobby shook his head and growled low in his throat. "I am being reasonable."


"No." Hank flinched at the brittle voice, his own eyes narrowing as he met Bobby's cold, hard gaze. "Drop it."

Hank placed his large hands on Bobby's shoulders. "Robert, I'd appreciate it if you'd just help me to understand what is going on inside your head right now."

He met Hank's gaze for a moment before looking off over his shoulder. "Not much, to hear everyone tell it. You're the smart one, what don't you get?" Bobby threw his hands up to push Hank's arms away. "It's my life, Hank. Not yours. So just let me mess it up as I see fit, all right?"

Trying to smile, but giving up on the attempt before he had even really tried, Hank shook his head. "I want what's best for you. And the experiment you broke, had it gotten onto your skin, would have hurt you badly."

"No." Bobby shook his head, on a roll and not listening. "You want to tell dumb little Bobby how to run his life. Just like everyone else around here. Like always. And I'm sick of it." He moved away from Hank, so that the coffee table stood between them. "I wish you'd just stop it. I'm not a pet project."

Taking a step to follow him, Hank stopped when Bobby moved to keep the distance between them. "You've never been a project, Bobby." Hank lowered his voice, shaking his head in disbelief. "You're my best friend."

"Some friend," he complained, rolling his eyes. "You're not my friend. You hardly notice anything outside of your lab anymore." Bobby pointed toward the door, ignoring the shocked look on Hank's face. "Why don't you just go hide yourself away in the lab again and butt out of my life?"

Shock colored Hank's eyes, and for a moment he found himself without a comment. He opened his mouth, closed it and opened it again. "You don't mean that." He paused, staring at the younger man. "Where did all this come from?" he asked, mostly to himself.

If he heard the question, Bobby ignored it. "Yes." Standing up straighter, he shoved his hands in his pockets. His voice was as cold as the ice that itched to burst forth. "I do."

Sighing in defeat, Hank nodded. "Okay. I'll go." When Bobby turned to leave, he held up a hand and continued speaking. "But we are going to talk about this later."

Bobby shrugged, ignoring the hurt in Hank's eyes. "Whatever." Not sparing another glance at Hank, he stalked from the room.

After watching his friend's hasty retreat, Hank stood motionless for a long moment. Shaking his head, he took a different route from the living room. Turning toward the garage, he decided that a drive was exactly what he needed to try and figure out what exactly had just happened.

He was supposed to go back downstairs. He wasn't supposed to leave and never come back. I never even got to say good bye...

I killed him.

My legs shaking too badly to support me, I drop to my knees beside the grave. The loose earth is warm beneath me, a living mockery of the death that will soon be within it. Hank would have laughed at such melodramatic comments coming from me. Probably would have told me how and why they were wrong. And I would have laughed, not caring. For the laughter was more important than the words.

Almost before the thoughts are even formed, a sob tears past my throat and I close my eyes. The finality of it all rips through my chest, tightening like a vise. Wanting to do nothing more than breathe, I hit at the ground with my fist.

Lost. Gone. Forever. I pound the earth with both hands to mark the words, as if it were her fault and not my own. Forever never before felt so final.

I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it, damn it. I wasn't thinking. I give up trying to punish the ground below me, and instead wrap my arms around my chest. The hold around my chest tightens with each gasping breath. It wasn't supposed to happen. Not now. Not like this. We never fight ... Why'd we have to fight? Why'd I have to refuse to back off?

The spinning of everything around me slams to a halt with a single thought. What if he thought I meant it? God I hope he didn't believe me. He couldn't think I meant it. He knew me better than to take me seriously ... Right?

I didn't know. Pressing my fists into my eyes I shake my head, short jerky motions to block out the thoughts. But they come anyway, unforgiving. I didn't know I'd never see him again. I never imagined...

Doubled over, laying on the ground, my head is starting to swim. I still can't breathe, spots forming on the backs of my eyelids. Maybe it's just as well. Vaguely, a part of me worries that one of the others might sense that something's wrong. I hope not, but Jeannie's been getting more persistent the last day or so.

I don't spare the time to think about it, it's not what's important. What -- who -- is important is right next to me.

Everything is coming undone, out of control. The one constant of my life here -- at the mansion -- is gone and it would appear my center has gone with him. The only thing that is working is the continued merciless flow of thoughts -- taunting me from the back of my mind.

All my fault. It repeats in my mind like a mantra, eventually drowning out all other thoughts. My fault. Mine.

I'm sorry.

I don't have time to wonder if I'm passing out or falling asleep when the blackness begins eating away at my vision. I don't want to hurt anymore. I don't want to hurt anyone else anymore.

I'm so sorry, Hank. Please forgive me.


When the darkness surrounds me, I surrender unthinkingly. After all, it's for the best. Right?


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