Disclaimer: On behalf of myself, and the characters in this story who have all been borrowed without permission, I would like to thank Marvel, who owns them, for not suing me, which we all know would be pointless, since I am making no money from this... In the unlikely event that anyone should ever wish to archive this, please ask first.
Continuity: This story takes place in a version of the Marvel Universe much like the regular one. However, in this universe, Sidney Drosselmier / Morph (the mutant formerly and also known as Changeling) is alive and has been a member of the X-men for a while. Happy Happy Joy Joy, eh?
Warning: This story occasionally contains language which the ridiculously oversensitive may find offensive.
Note: Pretty much everything I know about Morph I learnt from the AOA, so if I've completely mischaracterised him - um, sorry. Feel free to let me know what I did wrong and I shall endeavour to do better. Speaking of which...
FEEDBACK! Send me some! You know you want to! Oh yes...
By Poi Lass
It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. The Hellfire Club had thrown a party. The X-Men had decided to gatecrash it. Use it as cover for some snooping around, some checking up on Sebastian Shaw, some breaking into computer files. Scott Summers, fearless leader of the Uncanny X-men, looked around at everything going to hell, and wished he'd never suggested it...
"The last time we confronted Shaw, he seemed to know an awful lot about the X-men, and our recent activites. We need to know what they know about us. And *how* they know." Scott had said.
"Exactly! Then we'll know what they know about what we know as soon as we know what it is that they know!" Morph had offered in support. And Scott had wished, as Scott often did, that he could leave Morph at home.
But here and now, he was glad he hadn't. They'd managed, embarassingly, to run into a group of psi-shielded security personel before they'd even been in the building five minutes.
He punched another guard out, not wanting to use his optic blast and risk triggering more alarms.
<Jean. Does the Hellfire Club know we're here yet?> He spoke to his wife through their psionic rapport.
<The Inner Circle are all busy in the ballroom, I don't think anyone's got past us to tell them yet. But with the security systems we shut down reactivated, and the guards on alert -->
<-- We should probably leave, unless we want a firefight. Right. Well, that's a week's planning gone down the toilet. I hate when that happens.>
<I should think you'd be used to it by now, dear.>
<Cute. Let's just go. We'll have to leave through the ballroom, that should still by relatively unguarded.>
<The ballroom? -But Scott - it's full of people-->
<Exactly. Shaw won't risk starting anything, if he even sees us in the crowd. It would ruin his rep as an honest businessman. And you can mask us psionically. Tell Morph he's on distraction duty, they don't know his face. Whichever one he's using today...>
<Done.> She smiled at Morph's ebullient response as she telepathically informed him of his misson. <Do you want to know what he said?>
<Under no circumstances.> Scott replied sourly. Jean filled the rest of the X-men in on the plan, and they moved out.
The X-men hovered outside the ballroom, hidden, for the moment, by Jean's telepathic abilities.
"Okay Morph. You're on." Scott nodded at him. Logan grabbed his shoulder, stopping Morph with a wave of his hand.
"Hang on a sec Cyke. I mean - they might not know his face - but they've got to know his powers, right? As soon as he starts morphing someone's gonna catch a clue and realise the rest of us are here too.The Inner Circle aren't *all* complete idiots."
"So - I dunno, maybe Sid should try not to be as -- obvious -- with his powers as usual. Pretend to be some other kind of mutant or - um - something..." Bobby trailed off, but Morph looked far more impressed by this than the vague suggestion really deserved.
"Bobby! You're a wonder! You're a marvel! Let me give you a big ol' -" Morph threw his arms wide and launched himself at the other man. Who ducked.
"NO! Damn it Morph, will you stop that?" Bobby hissed. Morph missed him and landed on the floor.
"Wasser matter? Don'tya love me anymore?" Sidney's face changed, his eyes suddenly wide, protruding and pathetic, as he looked woefully up at Bobby.
"No, I don't! I mean - I *never* loved you - Can we get off this subject please?" Bobby sighed.
Morph had recently decided that Bobby Drake was the love of his life, and had, with admirable dedication, set about trying to win his heart. At first he'd tried being subtle about it.
Subtle didn't work. Probably because he wasn't very good at it.
Then he tried obvious, flamboyant and annoying, which didn't work either, but which he had a lot more natural talent for. It was also a lot more fun for the watching X-men, who had taken to betting on what Morph would do next to try and prove his love, and how long it would be until Bobby tried to kill him for making one of his increasingly embarrassing protestations of eternal devotion in public...
"Morph, shut up and get going." Logan impatiently grabbed the shifter by the back of his bizzarely colourful costume and pushed him towards the door.
As he was pushed through the door, Morph abruptly transformed into a handsome man wearing a tuxedo.
He wandered away from the door where the X-men were waiting their chance to escape, smiling and chatting with elegantly dressed people as he made his way to the other side of the room. He looked around for inspiration on how to create the distraction. So many possiblities, so little time...
~Got it.~ he thought smugly, homing in on one of the ball's guests.
<Jean, what is he going to do?> Cyclops asked his wife nervously, as they watched Morph strike up a conversation with a hideously dressed woman.
<I thought you didn't want to know.>
<Just be patient Scott. I'm sure we'll all find out soon enough.>
<Oh what fun...>
"Is this real fur? What sort is it?" Sidney politely asked the woman, who had a fur cloak still draped over her shoulders.
"Ah. Perfect." Morph beamed at her, and then ripped the cloak from the woman's shoulders and threw it from himself, yelling -
"Run, little minks, run free like the wind! Return to the wild! Be fruitful and multiply!" The fur cloak, surreptitiously supported by Sidney's morphed foot, picked itself up and tore across the room. The woman screamed and all eyes in the room turned towards her - and the apparently resurrected minks.
The cloak came to a stop a short distance from Morph, but he had already gained the attention of the entire ballroom. He grabbed a foxfur from around the neck of another guest, and leapt up onto the buffet table.
He held the foxfur up by what was once it's neck.
"All right! Everybody listen up, or the fox gets it!" he looked at the fur dangling from his hand. "No wait, that won't work..."
Cyclops hid his face in his hands.
"Got it." Morph said triumphantly. He stroked the fur, and it blurred, suddenly seeming alive, as, with an impenetrable sleight of hand, he morphed his arm into a fox. "Everybody listen up, - or the fox gets dinner!" The suddenly animated fox in his arms growled and bared its teeth at the guests. As one, they stepped back, gasping. Morph exchanged a meaningful glance with the `animal'. He grinned broadly. "Sic `em girl!" He let it go, and the `fox' shot out of his arms to go cause havoc among the guests. They were too busy running for the door to notice it was still attached to Morph, and soon melded back into him.
Morph continued haranguing the crowd about the evils of wearing - or eating - dead animals, who would always return to reap their revenge; morphing his feet into the live versions of whatever food he kicked off the table, and sending them out to bite people. The X-men slipped into the crowd, still masked by Jean, and headed for the door - along with most of the guests.
Then a dark haired woman with a look of concentration on her face approached Sebastian Shaw, who was trying to get at Morph without revealing his own powers.
<Morph! That's Tessa, she's a tepe. I can't keep her from contacting Shaw much longer. Take care of her before she tells him we're here.> Jean sent urgently.
Sidney picked up an hors d'oeurve from the table, and clamped it ostentatiously in his fist. As he leapt down he morphed his hand, into a hand holding a large salmon.
"The fish-slapping dance!" he cried gleefully, hitting Tessa over the head with the fish. The telepath fell unconscious into Shaw's arms. Morph threw the hors d'oeurve at Shaw, who stared at him in disbelief as it glanced off his chest.
"Swim upstream, my fishy brother!" Morph yelled at the bite sized snack, and dived for the punch bowl to send purple rain down the security guards coming for him before losing himself in the crowd.
The X-men slipped out of the ballroom, and the Hellfire Club, unnoticed, although several of them almost choked to death trying to stop laughing at the look on Shaw's face.
"Note to self," Scott muttered under his breath, as he strangled his own grin. "Never let Morph do the distraction again."
"Shit. Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Shit." Bobby thudded darkly into the kitchen, alternating between distinctly articulated expletives as if unable to decide which best expressed his state of mind.
"Trouble in paradise, you beautiful mutant marvel you?" Warren said, smirking as he quoted one of Sidney's favourite endearments. Bobby shot a killing glare at him and Warren yelped as ice suddenly encased his genitals.
Bobby snickered, his black mood lifting slightly as Warren rushed from the room, violently swearing revenge. He grabbed several near empty boxes of cereal and poured their contents into a bowl, not minding - or noticing - that Sugar Puffs were mixed with Choco Treats.
"There's no milk." Jean informed him helpfully as he approached the fridge.
"No milk??!!" Wide blue eyes stared at her in horrifed disbelief as he spun around to face her.
"No *milk*??" Bobby repeated in distress. "But - what am I going to eat? I need sugar. I need strength to cope with the lovesick moron - who shall remain nameless - whose first joy in life appears to be making mine hell... Besides we usually have bunches of milk. In fact, I distinctly remember that yesterday there were *truckloads* of milk. What the hell happened to it? A freak teleporting accident, the cunning plot of an evil mutant - or did Strong Guy visit again?"
"Uh- the lovesick moron who shall remain nameless used it all up tryin' to bake ya a cake... which he sorta burnt to a crisp. But otherwise, Ah think it woulda been a real nice gesture, don't you?" Rogue piped sweetly. Bobby just slammed the fridge door shut, clenching his fists in frustration.
"I do not believe this! Why *me* huh? Why doesn't he go after - after Remy or Warren or something? Or Jean, everybody else does..."
"Bobby, calm down." Scott ordered as the temperature in the room began to drop. "You're over reacting. There's plenty of other things to eat. Jean made pancakes..."
"Don't *want* pancakes." Bobby glowered petulantly. "Want- " he glanced at the label of the nearest cereal box, "-Sugar Puffs. With *milk*."
"Robert, do you not think you are being a little childish?"
"You try being followed around day and night by an insane shapeshifter - who could be any one of you, actually, so if you're in here Morph, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" he glared at the assembled X-men as if expecting one of them to jump up and smack a kiss on him.
"Robert!" Storm frowned at him repressingly, but Bobby just slumped unhappily into a chair.
"Damn it, he keeps - jumping out at me all the time. And he sneaks into my bedroom. I don't even know how he does it, unless he's sliding through the air conditioning or something... maybe I should start setting traps."
"Bobby c'mon now, all he wants is one lil' date with ya. Ah thought ya liked him? Why don't ya just..?" Rogue seemed to think Bobby and Sidney would make a cute couple, and did what she could to advance Morph's cause.
"No." Bobby said vehemently.
"Gambit don't see what de problem is. Plenty of advantages, going out wit' a shapeshifter." Remy offered, grinning broadly.
"One day you wake up with David Duchovny, the next it's Gillian Anderson..." Jean mused. Scott shot her a look. She smiled at him sweetly.
"Who could ask for anything more?"
"Fine." Bobby said sourly. "You have him. But if you all don't mind I have to go hammer up mouseholes in my room. On an empty stomach. Feel free to have a nice laugh at my expense."
He stormed angrily out of the room again. Rogue sighed. "I know Sid's antics are kinda fun ta watch, but he's driving Bobby crazy."
"Turn about is fair play, as they say. Bobby's been driving *us* crazy for years. Has anyone else noticed how seldom he plays practical jokes these days?"
"Ah know. Ah kinda miss it." Rogue grinned nostalgically. Beast raised his eyebrows.
"Really? Like the time he shank your costume and half your clothes so you thought you were getting fat, and spent every day for a month in the gym?"
"That was BOBBY???"
"Ah'm gonna *kill* him - "
"Ah'm gonna rip his balls off and make him *eat* them, that little - "
"Rogue, please, not while we're eating-"
"No - you're right. Death's too good for him." She stood up, a vicious smile spreading over her face as she thought of the perfect revenge. "Ah know. Ah'm gonna tell Morph he loves *poetry*, instead." She tossed her hair and walked out of the room.
"Hank." Storm said thoughtfully, after a few horrified moments had passed in silence.
"Would Robert also have been responsible for the sudden downsizing of *my* costume?"
"I see." Storm got up and carefully deposited her plate in the sink. "If you would all excuse me, I believe Sidney will be wanting to borrow a few ... poetry books."
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Morph declaimed.
"Oh god." Bobby sank his head into his arms.
"I'm up to five hun-drrred!" the shapeshifter trilled.
"Could somebody please just shoot me? Or better - shoot him. Hey Bishop? My good, favouritist, most bestest friend from the future with extensive weaponry, Bishop! Lend me your gun? Pretty please?" He looked up hopefully as Morph launched into the first of the five hundred ways in which Bobby was loved.
"No." Bishop barely paused as he passed through the living room.
"You cruel, sadistic bastard..." Bobby snarled. Bishop offered him a rare smile as he left. Morph never hit on *him*. Bobby slumped, and returned to planning his murder.
~No court in the country would convict me...~
Some time later he slunk into the living room, eyes darting around, He focused in the end on the room's sole occupant, Jean Grey, who was quietly reading a book in the sun.
"Something wrong Bobby?" she asked with a smile.
"No." He said, not moving any further into the room. Morph had been known to shift into articles of furniture, as well as people. On one particularly embarrassing occasion, he'd masqueraded as Bobby's mattress.
"Uh huh. Do you want to talk about it?" Bobby opened his mouth, and then closed it again, looking at her suspiciously.
"No. You might be *him*."
"I'm not him, Bobby." Jean sighed.
"That's exactly what Hank said. Just before he turned into Brooke Shields."
<Bobby - I'm *not* him!>
Bobby flinched at Jean's exasperated voice in his mind, and she frowned at his over-reaction.
~God, but he's on edge these days. If I didn't think Morph genuinely cared about him, I'd give him a good kick for messing him up so thoroughly.~
"... I still don't want to talk about it." He said shortly. But he threw himself in a chair instead of leaving, pushing a hand through his hair. It looked as if he'd been doing a lot of that recently, and it flopped messily over his face. However, she resisted the urge to tidy him up, doubting he'd appreciate the den mother approach. She knew some of the others still found what they thought of as `Morph's infatuation' funny, and Bobby tried to pretend he did too. But the disordered waves of hurt and helplessness she felt emanating from him told her it was getting far beyond a joke.
"So - still hiding from Sidney?" she asked, smiling at him encouragingly.
"He won't leave me alone. He keeps quoting poetry at me..." Jean tried not to laugh at Bobby's bemused expression. Morph had recently renounced the romantic poets and started experimenting with obscene limericks.
"Could you maybe talk to him?" he looked at her hopefully. She sighed and shook her head.
"I've *tried* Bobby... Have you ever considered - well - giving in?"
"Jean -!" he looked horrified, but, Jean thought privately, as if he *had* considered it, and didn't like how appealing the idea was.
"Well, how bad could it be? You have a lot in common-" she said semi- seriously.
"NO, Jean." He said firmly.
"Sorry. Just a thought." She opened her hands, as if to ask why he was so against it.
"I - I just don't feel that way about him." Bobby said, hating the sudden lack of certainty in his voice.
~But I don't, I *don't*...~
"Okay. Have you told him that?" Jean said calmly, as if she couldn't hear the anguished confusion of his thoughts.
"You *know* I have. He just laughs and says I'm in denial, and he'd grow on me if I gave him a chance. Like a fungus or something presumably." She hid a smile at his disgruntled tone.
"Are you... sure he wouldn't?"
"Grow on you."
"For Christ's sake Jean, don't you start-"
"I'm simply suggesting that perhaps you don't dislike him as much as you want to believe, or you wouldn't be this upset about it-"
"I'm not upset!" he snapped.
"Fine, okay-" Jean soothed.
"I'm not! And don't fucking *soothe* me Jean." She raised his eyebrows at that, but didn't say anything.
"I never *said* that I disliked him. Well okay, I did, but - he's a nice guy. In an intensely irritating kind of way. I just don't - don't - *LIKE* him. Like that. Okay? He's not my type. And even if he was, which he's *not*, I still wouldn't be interested in- in a *relationship* right now. With anyone." He looked down at his hands unhappily, and added, almost to himself, "Probably not ever again, considering how well the last one went."
Jean's heart went out to him. Bobby's last girlfriend Belinda hadn't hung around that long - most of the X-men hadn't even met her - but she'd taken a disproportionately large chunk of his self esteem with her when she left.
~Not that he had an enormous stock to begin with.~ Jean thought, once again wishing she could meet the woman who'd so completely destroyed her friend's self-confidence.
~Just give me five minutes alone with the bitch...~
"Bobby - I know sometimes it's hard, but you can't just give up -"
"Why the hell not?" he retorted. "You know, I've been thinking about it lately. A lot. Every woman I've ever gone out with has had at least two things in common. They've all been very intelligent. And they've all dumped yours truly. I know I'm not the X-men's resident genius, but I think even I can see the pattern." The sudden bitterness in his voice shocked her.
"Bobby, you *can't* believe that! It's not you-"
"Oh no, of-course not. It's my woman repellent cologne. Look, just - forget it Jean, okay? I'm tired. And I am sick to death of talking about Morph, or my lovelife - or even worse, *both*, in the same conversation - so can you *please* just leave me the hell alone and stop matchmaking?"
"Fine." There was silence for a moment. Bobby pushed his hand through his hair again, staring into space.
"So you're not attracted to Sidney at all then -" Jean started, hoping he might laugh at her persistence if nothing else, but he just glared at her, got up, and left the room.
"Hmph." She muttered. "Think I hit a nerve..."
She sat a few minutes in silence, until she was disturbed again by the entrance of Warren and Logan.
Warren had a bemused expression on his face and moved across the room to peer warily out of the window.
"I've just seen Bobby sliding over the grounds, being chased by a small purple horse waving a bunch of roses. Is it just me or is Morph too wierd even for us?"
Jean sighed, banishing the bizarre mental picture before she started giggling helplessly.
"This can't go on. Somebody needs to talk to him." She said firmly.
"Good idea. Just tell him to marry the shifter and get it over with. Put us all out of our misery."
"I *meant* somebody needs to talk to Sidney. And thank you for volunteering, Logan."
Logan looked at Jean's stern expression and decided against protesting. Growling under his breath, he set his heightened senses to tracking down the shape changer.
Finding him proved to be easy. However, Logan quickly came to the conclusion that convincing him to give up his passion for Bobby would be far, far less so.
"But I loooove him, Logan." Sidney declared with his usual flamboyance. But despite the silly voice and the shapeshifting into Greta Garbo, Logan could smell his ardent sincerity. He sighed.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Unrequited love's a bitch."
"It's not unrequited." Sidney said stubbornly. "He loves me too. He just doesn't know it yet."
"Could be right there." Logan muttered.
"Really? Can you smell it? Does he smell like he loves me?" Logan backed away from Sid's eager questioning.
"Uh - I dunno kid. Mostly he just smells angry and confused, these days."
~And sometimes horny and confused when ya come on real strong. But I don't think tellin' ya that would help... It might be fun, but it definitely wouldn't help...~
"Maybe you should back off a little." A thought suddenly occured to him. "Why don't ya try playing hard to get?" Morph looked at him hopefully.
"You really think that would work?"
~Not a chance.~
"Sure, why not. Nothin' else has."
"I've decided Bobby! I don't love you anymore! I'm too good for you!" Morph announced, bursting into the living room with his usual flair.
"Hallelujah. There is a God." Bobby said grumpily, not looking up from the television. Morph was slightly nonplussed by his failure to be devastated by the news, but continued with his cunning plan, giggling coquettishly as he ran out of the room. He ran straight into Storm who debated momentarily with herself about asking the obvious, before allowing curiosity to win over common sense.
"Sidney... what are you doing?"
"Logan suggested I try playing hard to get." Sidney told her, craning his neck to see if Bobby was following to beg him, on hands and knees, to return. Storm followed his gaze, blinking as she tried to assimilate this.
It had seemed like another good idea at the time.
A party. An X-party. Mutants unite and do silly dancing. That sort of thing.
But then again, it was Morph's idea, which should, in theory, have alerted someone to the fact that it probably wasn't such a very good one after all. Or, at least, not a very sane one.
Still, nothing had been blown up, no sentinels had dropped by, and everything was going well. Going perfectly.
Right up to the point where the blind date Warren had *insisted* on procuring for Bobby, turned into Sidney Drosselmier.
In the middle of a rather passionate kiss.
"Oh *shit*. Sid, you *promised* you weren't going to do that again!" Bobby wiped his mouth furiously and shoved the other man away from him, trying to suppress a brief, deep regret that the kiss hadn't lasted longer.
~I am not feeling this. I am *not*... I can not *believe* he did that again...~
The other X-men were trying not to laugh. Some of them, anyway. Others, Warren in particular, had already given up and were giggling hysterically.
"You DIE Worthington." Bobby growled.
"I *told* you I'd get you back for that ice wedgie. Besides," he dissolved into laughter again, "You two just so *cute* together..."
Bobby felt heat rising to his cheeks and was glad, as he had been a number of times recently, that his mutant ability gave him control over his own body temperature.
"That is IT." He vowed. "I quit. I'm never dating again." Morph beamed in delight.
"You see? It worked. Now you'll never look at another woman. You're all mine! MINE!" He laughed manically, throwing out his arms.
"Sidney - SHUT UP!" Bobby was unsure whether to laugh at him or hit him, but he was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his anger. Sid just grinned and casually threw an arm around his shoulders.
"Oh please - you knew it was me. The third time I do the switch on you and you try to tell me you weren't even suspicious? Besides, you know you enjoyed - "
"Wait a minute. Third time?" Bobby frowned as he pushed Sidney's arm away.
"Oops." Sid gulped melodramatically.
"Third?" Bobby repeated slowly.
"Did I say third? I meant second. You know me, can't even count, one, three, four, eight-"
"When was the other time Morph?" Bobby's voice was suddenly low and dangerous. Sidney, for once, shut up, and hesitated awkwardly before taking a theatrical breath, and shifting his shape to that of an attractive young woman. Brunette, 5'6', a beautiful but nervous smile - and a very familiar face.
"Belinda..." Bobby breathed, going pale.
"Is that supposed to be a joke, Sid? Because it's not funny." He said tightly. Morph put his hand to the other man's cheek.
"Bobby, honey...." he said in her voice. But Bobby just backed away from him with a terrible hurt in his eyes, and fled the room without a word. Morph shifted back to his regular shape, looking down at the floor, and the room was silent for a long moment. Then Rogue spoke.
"Sidney - that was cruel. That was so - Ah can't even believe ya just did that." She shook her head disbelievingly. "You keep saying ya care about him - well all ah can say is ah'm *glad* ya don't care about me."
Bobby was throwing things into a bag as Morph slid shamefaced into his bedroom.
"Bobby? What're you -" Bobby ignored Morph's question, and asked his own, his voice still cold and hard.
"Did you mean you took her place just the once? Or that you were her the - the - whole time?" He didn't look up, just kept moving around the room getting the things he needed.
"The whole time." Morph said finally, quietly. "I didn't mean - I was just -... I'm sorry." Bobby stopped what he was doing, and closed his eyes.
"Tell me this a joke Sid. Please. It's not funny." The quiet pain in his voice made Sidney feel even smaller.
"I'm sorry." He repeated helplessly. "I never meant it to go so far. I never meant - to hurt you. I just - I couldn't keep being her, and I couldn't tell you, so -"
"So you - dumped me. And you watched me walk around depressed, and you listened to me tell you how much I was in *love* with her, and you - you - " Bobby was almost crying, which only made him angrier. "You bastard. You unbelievable - " he couldn't go on. He looked away from Sidney and went back to packing his bag. "Get out. Just - get out."
Sidney opened his mouth to try and talk some sense in him, to explain, to make a joke, to beg him not to go... but for once in his life he could think of nothing at all to say.
Two mornings later, and breakfast at the Xavier Institute was not as wild an affair as usual. For one thing, Bobby wasn't there, freezing people's food to their plates, and making all the coffee and tea into iced coffee and tea.
For another Morph was ... quiet.
Nobody was quite sure how to deal with that. `Morph' and `quiet' were usually words that went together like `Bishop' and `trusting'. Or `Xavier' and `hairy'. `Cyclops' and `spontaneous'. `Magneto' and `tolerant, laid back, easygoing guy'.
But Morph just sat in his usual place, slowly *eating* his food. When he wanted the salt, or the jam, he simply *reached over and got it*. Even Bishop, who had attempted to turn Morph into a small puddle of metamorphic goo on more than one mealtime occasion, found himself unnerved by the change in Sidney.
As the shapeshifter silently passed the butter across the table, *without* making a song and dance about it, Rogue looked pleadingly at Storm. Something had to be done.
Ororo laid her knife and fork down next to her plate and studied Morph carefully. He did not even seem to notice. He could, she considered, simply be doing all this to get attention and sympathy. And she most certainly did not approve of what he had done to Bobby. But-- he did seem genuinely depressed. And she was not sure how much more of his abnormally normal behaviour that she could take... She glanced at Scott, who shrugged. He didn't have a clue, and besides, Bobby was on her team. Ororo made her decision. As she picked up her utensils and began eating again, she said aloud to the table:
"He went to his parent's house in Long Island. You may take the Blackbird."
For a moment, Morph seemed not to hear. Then he looked up slowly. Ororo met his gaze steadily. He threw his arms around her and kissed her loudly on the cheek before morphing into Whitney Houston and rushing wildly out the door, singing "Iiiiii will always love yooooooou".
Jean managed to grab Ororo's plate telekinetically before it slid into her lap.
"Thank you Jean." She pushed her hair back into place and returned to her meal.
"Are you sure that was the right thing to do `Ro?" Jean asked, half amused at Sidney's reaction, half concerned at what Bobby's would be. Ororo sighed.
"No, my friend, I am not. But they will have to sort things out sooner or later. It may as well be sooner. Before Sidney's moping drives us all insane."
Meanwhile, in a perfectly ordinary house in Long Island, another man had been doing some moping of his own.
Bobby Drake sat on the back steps of his parents house, playing with an ice sculpture. Trying to think things through. Part of him was so angry every time he thought about the situation, he wanted to throw something. In fact he had, several times; the garden was littered with shattered, melting pieces of ice.
~So why *are* you so angry, Drake?~ he asked himself. ~Because he lied to you? The love of your life, nothing but a lie. A - a stupid *joke*.~ He thought about it. That was most definitely part of it.
~Part. So what's the rest? ... Because he made you look like an idiot? Because he humilated you. That's part of it too, isn't it. A big part. Petty of you, Drake. Verrrry petty. You know he wasn't trying to hurt you. He never means to hurt anybody. He just didn't think. And who else does that sound like?~ he scowled, and threw another ice sculpture at the clothes line.
~So he wasn't trying to hurt me. So what. He screwed with my life and he screwed with my head and who the fuck does he think he is anyway...~ the ice in his hands changed and shifted with his fluctuating moods.
~He thinks he's in love. That's what he thinks. And people in love do idiotic things. Look at you.~ He sat up.
"Now what the hell is *that* supposed to mean?" he asked himself aloud.
"What's what supposed to mean, dear?" His mother's voice inquired. She stood behind him at the back door, and smiled at him. His parents hadn't pushed him to confide in them, but he knew they'd been wondering why he'd come. He wondered if he should tell her. He could use some advice...
~Hmm. Let's see. Well Mom, I met this woman. `Belinda'. And I fell head over heels in love. Real, instant kinship. Never felt anything like it. We finished each others thoughts, and we made each other laugh, and when we made love it was....
And then, for no apparent reason - she left me. And losing her hurt so much I wanted to die. And then - *then* I found out she'd really just been my pal the shapeshifter all along, trying to prove I could fall for him. Which he did. Because I did. I did. And so now what do I do? Huh, mom? What do I do now?~
"Nothing mom. Just thinking aloud."
She went back into the kitchen. He went back to brooding.
He was pulled out of his reverie by the back door slamming shut and glanced around, expecting to see his mother again.
"What are you doing here Sidney?" Despite the long hours he'd spent trying to sort out how he felt about the other man, seeing him standing there, that stupid, nervous grin on his face, all Bobby felt was angry.
"I - I wanted to see you. I thought we should talk."
"I don't want to talk to you. Right now, all I want is to hit you. Repeatedly. So fuck off before I do." Bobby turned his back to him again but Sidney didn't leave. However when he spoke, his voice was feminine, achingly familiar.
"You said you loved me." The woman he'd known as Belinda said softly behind him. Bobby stiffened but didn't turn to looked at her.
~Him. Not her, him. There's no such person as Belinda, there never was. So why does it hurt so much to have lost her..?~
"Stop it Sidney. You lied to me all along, none if it was *real*-"
"Yes it was. This is part of who I am too, just a different face- but that made all the difference, didn't it?"
"It was a lie- if I'd known - you -" Bobby stumbled to a halt. It wasn't right, it wasn't real, there had never been anything real between them, but somehow - somehow - he could find no words to say it that didn't sound false even to his ears. How could it have been nothing? He'd loved her - *he had* - but if she was - if she hadn't been - how could it have been -
His painfully tangled thoughts were interrupted again as Morph moved down the steps to stand in front of him, rare anger in `her' eyes. "If I'd had a different face you mean." She replied scornfully. "If I hadn't looked like a pretty woman, so you didn't have to feel so *ashamed* about caring for me."
~That way of standing - it's so -- *Sidney*. How could I never have noticed? Or did I just not want to notice, so I wouldn't have to admit that I --~
But Bobby was already speaking, his voice hard despite his confusion; as if he knew what he felt, as if he was certain he spoke the truth; as if he was trying to convince Sidney instead of himself.
"Stop it. I don't love you Sid, why can't you just accept that I don't -" Morph cut him off brutally.
"But you said you did. So was that a lie? Or was it just the face you loved Bobby? All that time you moped and sulked over losing your precious Belinda, and any pretty face would've done." Belinda/Sidney's voice was cruel and bitter. Bobby stared back, shaken.
"Stop it." He whispered harshly. Morph shifted back to himself, but his expression did not change, and neither did his taunting, angry tone.
"You never loved `her' at all." He continued mercilessly. "You never loved anyone. You don't know how. You don't even know what it means-"
"Stop it!" Bobby screamed, control breaking, and launched himself at Sidney. He caught the shape changer off guard, and landed a punch on his jaw as they rolled onto the grass. Neither of them used their powers, and surprise quickly gave Bobby victory.
He sat on top of Morph, holding his wrists painfully tight, trying to choke back the fury that made him want to beat his friend - his lover? - into a pulp. A half hysterical voice in the back of his mind asked how he thought he could hold a shapeshifter, but he ignored it. "Why are you *doing* this to me?" he hissed. The wrists he was holding twisted and slid out of his grasp. Belinda again. She looked at Bobby in a way that hurt his chest, and put her arms around his neck.
"Don't -" he breathed. And then `Belinda' kissed him, passionately and deeply, in a way that had always taken his breath away. He resisted at first, but then kissed her back, with a hunger that surprised them both.
~Still love her, still want her - him - even though I know ... ~ He pulled away and looked at Morph who still hadn't changed back to himself. ~Even though I know... Oh god. I didn't just love the face, oh god help me, I didn't --~
Morph spoke softly, utterly serious for once. "I can look like this. I can be her all the time. We'll just forget about Sidney, it'll just be Bobby and Belinda. You and me..." Bobby looked at him for a long time, and then shook his head slowly, all his anger gone. He got up and moved back to the steps to sit down again. Morph simply changed back and tried not to cry.
"You still don't get it. You can't - you can't keep pretending to be someone you're not. You are - who you are, and that's all there is to it. Either I love - who you are - or I don't." He almost seemed to be talking to himself, looking past Morph into the distance. Or into himself.
Sidney opened his mouth, but then closed it again. Nothing left to say. Bobby was right. Either he loved him or he didn't - and he didn't. So. He nodded sadly, and moved past Bobby to leave. He'd get over it. He'd be fine. He'd just go back to flirting with Remy or something-
"Sid." Sidney turned, to meet Bobby's thoughtful gaze. Bobby hesitantly held his hand out to him.
"Don't - don't go. Please." Sidney froze, unsure what it meant. Unwilling to consider hope again.
Bobby reached up, took his hand, and pulled him gently down to sit next to him. He searched Sidney's eyes for a long moment. Took a deep breath.
And then leaned over to kiss, for the first time, the face of the man he loved.
Bobby Drake sat at the bar of a New York nightclub, nursing a couple of beers. Thinking about getting drunk. Wondering if it would help make sense of things. Deciding, no, it probably wouldn't, but then thinking was helping much either.
He hadn't wanted to come in the first place. Well, he had - and yet - maybe it had been a bad idea. The whole thing. A stupid, drug induced, idea. Even though he didn't actually take drugs.
But maybe Sid had slipped something in his food. That would explain an awful lot...
A woman slid into the seat next to him and ordered a drink. She turned and looked him over carefully before she spoke.
"Hi." She said brightly, smiling.
"Uh. Hi." He managed a weak grin.
~Go away. Leave me alone. I'm busy angsting over my confused sexuality here...~
"I saw you come in. " she offered, apparently not hearing his thoughts. "You know, your boyfriend looks an awful lot like David Duchovny."
~We are going to *ruin* that man's marriage...~, a part of his mind thought absently as his mouth opened and started talking of its own accord.
"He's not my b-- uh - I mean - he's not. David Duchovny." He cursed the slip silently, wondering when he was going to start getting used to the situation.
~'The situation'. What does that mean? You dick, Drake. Can't you even say it in your head yet? `Getting used *to being gay*'. There now, was that so hard? ... Why does it still sound so wierd?... And is it gay, or is it supposed to be bi-sexual or what? What the fuck do you call a man who may or may not be in love with a shapeshifter who used to be a woman - only wasn't really - and - and - God, I am *never* going to get used to this...~
"You were going to say `he's not my boyfriend', weren't you?" The woman looked amused, but understanding.
~Shit. It shows.~
"Habit." Bobby admitted sheepishly.
"You haven't been together long then?" Her easy-going, friendly manner drew Bobby out of himself, and he began to feel ridiculous about being so self-conscious - and so rude.
"2 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, and --" he made a show of checking his watch, "- 4 minutes. Not that I'm counting." She laughed. She had a nice laugh, he thought. And she was very pretty. 2 weeks, 4 days, 8 hours, and 5 minutes ago, he might have considered making a pass at her. Now - he turned on his stool and watched Sidney dancing his inelegant way over to the bar.
~I swear to God, I'm never going to get used to this. Am I?~ But he found himself smiling at the other man, who for some reason did look extraordinarily like David Duchovny tonight, and felt almost at ease as he was pulled out onto the dancefloor.
And, he realised, entirely happy.
Which was something he thought he could get used to, after all.
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