A Small Addiction
by Poi Lass

"If I disappeared, would you find me?"

Bobby looked up. The tone had been light, teasing, but he recognized hidden longing when he heard it. "Yup," he answered easily in the same light tone, but catching Jamie's eye and looking at the other man very seriously.

Jamie broke the gaze, looking down at a blade of grass he was shredding. "What if everyone said I was dead?" he asked, obviously trying to make it light.

"I'd look for your dupes," Bobby answered casually, stretching out on his stomach in the grass, Jamie by his feet. His sunglasses slipped from his head and plunked onto his nose, and he reached up to push them more firmly on his face.

"What if you couldn't find dupes?"

Bobby felt the grass, dying as the Cold of winter set in, prickling at his skin. The wind flirted with his shirt and then danced away. Bobby rolled over and looked at Jamie, sitting cross-legged against a tree. "I would search all over the earth for you. I would use Cerebro, and Jean, and I would call in all the X-family to help me. And if they gave up, I would tell them that they were wrong and I would keep looking. And I would look until the day I died, because I love you."

Jamie was blushing. "Really?"

Bobby wondered which part of that diatribe Jamie was questioning, but since it was all true he answered only, "Really."

Jamie flopped down onto his stomach, trenchcoat flipping out behind him. "I'm glad."

Bobby rolled over, casting an arm across Jamie's shoulders. "Me too."

Bobby shoved his fingers through his hair in angry frustration, having already sent the cell phone flying across the room. No one knew where Jamie was. Forge hadn't talked to him. He wasn't at his apartment -- it had been rented to someone else, and the telephone number changed. When Bobby called Jamie's number, he still got Jamie's machine, but he couldn't find where that number was now leading to.

Bobby yelled, a wordless shout of frustration that made him feel remarkably better, then jumped when someone knocked at the hotel door. He'd moved out of his parent's house, unable to stand the sight of his father at the moment.

Long legs covered the ground to the door quickly, and Bobby opened it to peer out.

"Jamie!" He threw the door open and stepped into the hall, reaching out to grab the man and crush him in a hug.

Instead, Jamie moved away and shook his head. "I'm a dupe -- not your Jamie," he said quickly.

Bobby blinked, disapointment set in. "Oh."

"Bobby? Jamie really needs you. He's in big trouble."

Bobby's heart quickened. If the dupe was here, then Jamie wasn't dead or unconscious. He breathed a sigh of relief, the knot in his stomach untying itself. But that left all sorts of other frightening possibilities. Bobby looked up, and felt the knot start to twist again. "Where is he?"

"Here," the dupe said, and handed him a note. "I have to go. If I stay here too long Jamie will sense it and move again."

Bobby nodded, and watched the dupe leave. Once it was gone, he looked down at the note. Carefully written out in flowing longhand was an address, and directions there. Bobby carefully tucked the paper into his pocket and headed back into the room to get his keys.

"Can you turn the radio back on?" Jamie asked, glancing up.

Bobby looked up in surprise, then nodded. Jamie asked for things so seldomly, Bobby tried to encourage it by complying whenever possible. "You really like that music, huh?"

Jamie shrugged, eyes never leaving his book. "I just don't like the quiet. Doesn't really matter what I listen to."

Bobby flopped into a chair and cocked his head, looking at Jamie. The younger man was stretched across the couch, brown trenchcoat twisted and wrinkled beneath him, as if the owner had been shifting around. Beautiful brown eyes were flickering across the page of the book as he read, slender hands holding it gently.

"Why don't you like the quiet?" Bobby asked after a moment.

There was a brief hesitation, and Jamie turned the page. "It's lonely."

Bobby knocked on the apartment door. It was silent inside; an oppressive silence that smothered all noise. He tried the handle.


He glanced up and down the hall, then concentrated and froze the lock. With a violent twist he shattered it, and the door swung open.

The apartment was dark, and Bobby had to blink several times before his eyes began to adjust.

It was small; maybe a total of four rooms. The family room had magazines and books tossed around haphazardly; as if someone had picked them up as they walked about and then, not knowing what to do with them, set them down.

Bobby eased in and closed the door. He started down the hall, glanced at a kitchen overflowing with dirty dishes. Something small and black scurried away, and Bobby quickly turned his eyes back down the hallway. He didn't want to know what that had been.

The bathroom was off to one side, and it hadn't been cleaned any time recently. Bobby paused, reached in to pick up a bottle of prescription pills. It took his mind a moment to call up what Hank had said about them. Scott took them occasionally, when he couldn't sleep. Sedatives. Bobby rattled the bottle, heard the hollow sound of just a few things being shaken. He twisted the cap off and glanced inside, seeing only two pills left. Silently, Bobby set the bottle back down and glanced toward the bedroom door.


There was no answer, and Bobby continued down the hall.

The sheets and all the blankets but one had been thrown off the queen-sized bed. The message machine crouched on a dresser, blinking a red light into the black room. There were clothes and books thrown about, and Jamie's small shelving set had been tipped over, scattering photos and novels and magazines across the floor.

"Jamie?" Bobby called quietly. There was a figure in the bed, tangled in the last blanket. A bush of dark brown hair, dull in what little light peeked through the blinds, could be seen. Bobby paced to the bed and sat down gently on the edge, reaching out to brush hair out of Jamie's face. "James?"

He woke slowly, brown eyes fluttering open with great difficulty. It took them longer than it should have to focus on Bobby. He blinked several times, then frowned.

Bobby's heart twisted at the sight of white marks down Jamie's face; salt left from tears. "Hi, James. Are you mad at me?"

Jamie's breath came in in a rush, and he bolted out of the bed and across the room, face pale, fully dressed. "You're dead," he whispered after a moment.

"No," Bobby said, feeling suddenly sick. "I'm not. I was in a coma for a week. I've been calling you. You haven't checked your messages?"

Jamie still had an almost panicked look on his face, though it was quickly being replaced by a confused one. "I ... don't remember," he murmured at last, a hand going to his head, ruffling through his bangs. Then he looked back up, and all the fear and confusion was gone, replaced by desolation. "I do remember. Bobby, you have to leave."

Bobby swallowed. He felt odd, as if he were cold. But that wasn't possible. He was the Iceman. "Are you angry at me?"

Jamie shook his head slowly, eyes filled with love, and then fear, and then filling with so much pain it didn't seem possible one man could hold it all. "No. But if you stay with me, you'll die."

Bobby frowned, trying to follow the logic, unable to. "Why would I die?" he asked finally, searching Jamie's face but finding no answer -- only a bleak, hopeless look.

Jamie took a deep breath as if he were trying to hold back tears. "Because."

Bobby's eyes narrowed. His heart thundered in his chest painfully. "Because why?"

Jamie scrubbed a hand across his face. His words were a whisper. "Because there's something wrong with me."

Bobby stood, moving slowly, half afraid he was going to scare Jamie. "Are you sick?"

Jamie shook his head.

"Then there's nothing wrong with you," Bobby said at last.

Jamie looked up, and his eyes were shining. He was still whispering, speaking so quietly Bobby could barely make out the words. "Yes there is. Everyone around me dies or leaves."

Bobby's eyes widened. He stepped around the bed, walking swiftly toward Jamie, who was backing away just as quickly. Bobby stopped when Jamie hit the wall, cringing. "Jamie, that's not something you did," Bobby insisted quietly.

Jamie wouldn't meet his gaze. "Please leave now, Bobby," he said, his voice stronger.


Jamie's voice rose, louder and almost panicked sounding as he pressed himself against the wall. "You have to leave now. I can't stand it if you die and it'll be my fault."

"No," Bobby said, closing the distance between them.

Jamie's arms came up, pushing away at Bobby. His shoulders were shaking, eyes stark in their pain. "Bobby, leave. Leave now. You have to go, because I'll kill you, I will."

Bobby ignored Jamie's hands at his chest, wrapping his longer arms around the man and pulling him in until he thought they couldn't get any closer. "No, Jamie, listen to me. No one dying was ever your fault. That's not--"

"Your dad said--"

"My dad is an asshole," Bobby snarled. He could feel Jamie's body shuddering, and suddenly Bobby realized that the other man should have been able to push him away at least a little bit.

The image of the pill bottle sitting on the counter came back to him, and he pulled away to look at Jamie's face. His very, very pale face.

"Jamie!" Bobby almost shouted, shaking the younger man slightly. "Jamie, tell me you didn't just take all those pills." Jamie didn't answer right away, and, fear starting to mount, Bobby shook him again. "Tell me you didn't! Because if you did--"

"I should have died, Bobby," Jamie said, reaching up to grab at Bobby's T-shirt, eyes focused there as if he could come to a great understanding. "I had Legacy. I should have died. I don't want to kill anyone else."

Jamie's hands smoothed down Bobby's chest, oddly calm even as they trembled.

"Jamie! Did you take those pills?" Bobby asked again, shaking Jamie harder, snapping the other man's head back and forth as if he was a doll instead of a living human.

Jamie blinked and looked at Bobby. His eyes welled with tears again, but he shook his head. "No," he said softly. "No. I wanted to. I wanted to, Bobby, and I couldn't. I don't want to kill people. Please leave?"

Bobby closed his eyes, feeling his body shiver in sudden relief. He grabbed Jamie again and pulled him close, wrapping both arms as tightly around the other man as he could. "Thank God," he murmured softly into Jamie's hair. "Thank God. Jamie, I love you. You didn't kill anyone. I love you."

Jamie was crying, shaking his head against Bobby's shoulder, sobbing brokenly. "No, Bobby, you don't understand! I did! They all die, Bobby, everyone I love dies and I can't stand to see you die, too! Please, Bobby, leave! You have to go. You have to." Jamie shuddered, his voice dropping. "You have to. They all die, Bobby. My parents died and Moira is dying and Alex and my dupes and me and Guido left ... you have to go, Bobby. You have to go. Please go. Please don't die. Don't leave me like that."

Bobby hurt. All over, he hurt to hear these words, and be unable to make Jamie see that they weren't true. "No," he whispered, not knowing what he refused. He almost carried Jamie back to the bed, sitting down and holding the younger man in his lap. "No, Jamie, don't. I love you."

"I love you," Jamie cried as if he hadn't heard, the words shuddering. "And that's why you'll die. Please leave, Bobby. Please. I love you so much I don't want you to die. I don't want to hurt you or make you unhappy -- please, please leave me now and then you won't be able to do it later. Please?" His hands fisted in Bobby's shirt, alternately tugging Bobby closer and pushing him away. "Please? Please, God, Bobby, help -- I -- I can't do this any more. I can't watch people leave me. I feel so cold."

Bobby had to strain to hear the last words, and he was almost crying himself. "I'm not going to leave you, Jamie," he whispered. "I'm not going to die, and I'm not going to leave. I love you too much."

"Don't leave me," Jamie whispered softly, crying.

"I'm not. I'm not going to leave you. Not even if the world explodes, Jamie. Even that won't be able to keep me away from you, because I love you."

Jamie started to cry harder again, burying his face in the crook between Bobby's neck and shoulder.

"I love you," Bobby said, fighting to keep his voice steady.

"I love you," Jamie responded, fists still clutching at Bobby's shirt, pulling him closer and closer and closer still.

"If I broke both my legs would you cart me around in a wheelbarrow?"

Jamie laughed. "Yeah! If I got all my fingers cut off would you feed me?"

Bobby grinned, ruffled Jamie's hair. "Anything for those gorgeous lips. If I died--"

"You won't."

"But if I did, in the game--"

"You won't."

"Yeah, well, you're not gonna get all your fingers cut off, either. If I died--"

"No. That's not funny." There was silence for a moment. Jamie smiled at Bobby while shadows danced in his dark brown eyes. "If I completely lost it and became someone who lived in the dark and did nothing but whine and had to be put on medication, would you still talk to me?"

Bobby reached over and kissed those smiling lips. "I would still love you."

Bobby sat on the bed in his hotel room, watching as Hank pulled a chair closer and sat down. He cleared his throat and shuffled papers, then looked up at Bobby.

"Jamie's given me permission -- actually, he asked me -- to disclose everything to you."

Bobby nodded.

Hank looked down at his papers, then up at Bobby. "It isn't horrible. It seems awful, I know, but it's not a life-threatening disease. Jamie is mildly depressive -- mildly, because it takes something to trigger it. I'll prescribe pills for him to take, and I think that if you can convince him, he should see a counselor. He's seen an inordinate amount of death in his young life, and he's taking to it very badly. I called Forge. He's been watching Jamie closely, keeping track to see if there were signs of this since Jamie had the Legacy Virus. Apparently, Jamie did the same thing, then. Forge, however, had assumed Jamie was with you, and that was why he hadn't heard from the man."

Bobby closed his eyes and swallowed, nodding. Jamie had been 'upset' about dying. Jesus Christ. "You say he can take pills for this?" Bobby asked finally.

Hank nodded. "He can. More important, however, is counseling. Pills can only do so much good, balancing hormones and enzymes that may be out of proportion. I have a feeling that this is more of a psychological trauma."

Bobby nodded again. "Thanks, Hank."

Hank smiled, stood. "Anything for a friend, Bobby."

"I can see him, right?" Bobby asked, glancing toward the door that adjoined Jamie's room.

"I would recommend it," Hank answered.

Bobby smiled again and nodded, then headed for the other room while Hank gathered his things.

The window was open, shedding light on where Jamie lay in the bed, asleep or almost there.

Bobby sat down gently, watching Jamie. Eyelids flickered open, and Jamie smiled slightly before sitting up. "Hi," he whispered, sitting back against the headboard. His face was pale, and dark circles outlined his eyes.

"Hi," Bobby returned. "Why didn't you tell me you were that depressed back when you had Legacy?"

Jamie fiddled with the edge of his blanket. "It seemed silly," he said at last. "I felt so good. I thought it wouldn't come back." He looked up at Bobby, brown eyes searching the other's face. "Are you mad at me?"

Bobby was silent, stunned at the question. He leaned forward, grabbing Jamie and pulling him into a bearhug. "No," he said fiercely. "Never."

"I'm really sorry," Jamie whispered.

Bobby could hear tears in the other man's voice, and tightened his hold. "You have nothing to be sorry for," he growled. "Nothing."

"I was such an idiot about things," Jamie answered, shaking his head. "I shouldn't have done this to you -- and you just coming out of the hospital--"

"No," Bobby interupted, arms squeezing until he thought Jamie would be crushed against him. "You weren't an idiot. My father scared you. You got depressed. That's not your fault."

Jamie was crying again, quietly, face buried in Bobby's neck. After several long minutes he turned his head, resting his cheek on Bobby's shoulder, calmer. "I love you," he whispered, the words barely able to travel the distance from his mouth to Bobby's ear before they faded away.

"I love you, too," Bobby answered, louder, wanting the words acknowledged.

"I want to help you get better, okay?"

Bobby felt Jamie nod.

"And I'm going to stay with you, okay?"

Another nod.

"And you're going to get counseling, okay?"

Jamie was silent. He sniffed. "I don't need counseling," he murmured at last.

Bobby mentally cursed all mule-headed people. "Yes, you do. I love you, and this frightens me. You need counseling if only because it'll make me feel better."

Jamie laughed; a hiccuping choke of air. "I get counseling so you'll feel better? That doesn't make sense."

"It does to me."

Jamie sighed. His breath tickled the hairs on Bobby's neck. "I had counseling," Jamie said, finally. "When I lived with Moira. Obviously, it didn't do any good. All that happens is that they take a lot of money and cause a lot of heartache, and they tell me it wasn't my fault my parents died. And I know that, Bobby. I know it's not my fault that everyone around me leaves."

Bobby frowned, rubbed his hand up and down Jamie's back. There was a crick in his spine, but he ignored it. "That's not what you said to me."

Jamie pulled away, shaking his head, looking out the window. "I know that. Logically." His eyes dropped to the blanket. "But emotionally it doesn't feel that way. Counseling won't help that."

Bobby scowled. He didn't know enough about this to argue effectively. "Jamie, I love you," he said at last. "And it scares me that this could happen again -- that you would want to kill yourself."

Jamie squirmed. "Sorry," he murmured, obviously earnest about that.

Bobby blanched. "Don't do that! You didn't do anything wrong!" He stopped himself before he could get irritated, knowing that he could tell Jamie that he had nothing to be sorry about until the moon turned pink and little green aliens danced on it, and it wouldn't help. After a moment Bobby changed tack, bringing the subject back to the counselor. "Even if it won't help, will you see someone? For me? Please?"

Jamie opened his mouth to object, his thoughts written all over his face.

Then he closed it and looked back down. "Yeah," he said at last. "For you. I'm sorry, Bobby. I'm glad you're better."

Bobby smiled and tucked a strand of brown hair behind Jamie's ear. It fell back into his face almost immediately. "Me too. It was no fun sleeping through all that good time I could have spent with you."

Jamie laughed, and blushed. His eyes stayed on the blanket as he picked at the fuzzies. "You love me?"

Bobby suppressed his laughter, though he couldn't keep it out of his eyes.


"Even though I have a freaky depressive head?"

"I love your freaky depressive head," Bobby said, grabbing the head in question and kissing it soundly.

Jamie laughed. "Really, though, Bobby?" He looked almost frightened. "'Cause most people don't like it when others are depressed. It makes them uncomfortable, and they leave."

Bobby's smile faded as he realized Jamie was very, very serious. "I love your depressive head," Bobby answered solemnly, "because it's part of you. If you were always happy, I might think that you were inhuman, perfect, and I wouldn't be able to keep up. It would frighten me. It does make me sad when you get so depressed, and I want to help you with it. But I don't want to go away because of it. It has your heart. Bad things have happened to you, Jamie, and if you didn't get upset about them I would be frightened of you. These are things you should be upset about." Bobby captured Jamie's face in his hand, leaned over to kiss him. "I love you, every part of you, and I don't want you to change unless it makes you happier."

Jamie nodded wordlessly. He sniffed, blinked back tears, and laughed, pulling away from Bobby's hand. "God," he muttered in mild disgust. "I can't seem to stop crying!"

Bobby smiled and hugged Jamie again. "That's okay," he murmured. "I like crying. Sometimes it's good."

Jamie laughed through tears and nodded against Bobby's shoulder, hugging him back. "Okay. That's good. Because I don't think I could stop if I wanted to right now."

Bobby smiled and hugged Jamie tighter.

And when the tears you cry,
Oh, you can believe,
Just give these loving arms a try, baby,
And have a little faith in me.

When your back's against the wall,
Just turn around, you will see
I will catch you, I will catch your fall
Just have a little faith in me.

- "Have A Little Faith In Me" (edited)--Jewel

Feedback: It's not just a good thing, it's a ... well, a really good thing. JBMcDragon, jbmcdragon@lycos.com

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