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The Ending of an Era

Title: The Ending of an Era
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Beast/Iceman
Rating: PG/K+
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words August Rush: Day 18:
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,750
Date Written: 29 August 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.





A word tumbles free from Bobby’s cold lips the moment he glances outside and sees a massive blob of blue sitting on top of the new jungle gym in the playground Kitty had installed for the younger mutants. He shoves the window open and yells Hank’s name out of it, but his boyfriend doesn’t budge. Muttering to himself about why he had been so stupid and not at least checked the lab to make darn certain that was where Hank was holed up, Bobby quickly creates an ice slide and swoops down it from the window and up to the gym.

He makes a rough landing beside Hank and grabs him, tickling his blue fur, but his boyfriend still doesn’t respond. With a wave of his hand, Bobby’s ice slide vanishes. He sits beside his oldest friend for a long while, dropping his chin into his hands and watching the world pass them by. Knowing Hank is still stubbornly ignoring him, Bobby finally breaks the silence between them again by softly asking, “So . . . what are we looking at?”

Hank finally glances at him, but the scowl he gives him makes Bobby pout even more. “Do not ask such a transparent question, Robert. You know very well what we are looking at.”

“The world?” Bobby asks, and Hank sighs wearily.

He glances at him again, and his blue eyes become a little softer as he sees the look on Bobby’s face. He had come out here to comfort him, after all, and Hank certainly isn’t making it easy. A thousand words tumble through his mind, but he recognizes each and every one of them for what they all are: excuses, feeble excuses made to lighten the moment and not admit to the true problem. He’s tired of lying, tired of ignoring the obvious, tired of living this life.

“I used to feel like I could see the whole world from up here,” he finally speaks. A gentle smile curves the corners of his furry, blue lips as Bobby visibly perks up. “I know it was rather silly and childish, but it was the way I felt. I felt like we could see everything from one of these, especially the one at Xavier’s.”

“I miss it too, you know,” Bobby interjects gently, reaching out and placing a hand over Hank’s. “And him.”

“I know,” Hank recognizes, “but that’s merely the beginning. I couldn’t just see the world, or so I believed. I truly thought we would make a difference.”


“We have made a difference, Hank! Look at how many lives we’ve saved! And how many times have we saved the world? I bet even you can’t count that high!” Bobby teases, but Hank doesn’t smile.

“Have we, Robert,” he asks instead, “or have we merely delayed the inevitable? Thousands more die every day. Our own people are killing our people, and I’m not even referring to homo superiors here. I’m referring to X-Men, Bobby! Scott killed the Professor! I admit I do not know now why I brought our past selves forward in the timeline -- a mid-life crisis, I suppose -- but they’ve done no good. They cannot change what has already happened.”

“No,” Bobby agrees gently, “because they’re not going back, but did you ever stop to think that maybe you saved them? Maybe you saved us?” Hank looks at him questioningly but does not voice a complaint or query. Bobby continues undaunted, “Jean and Scott have both died, but with the knowledge that they have now, these past versions of our friends may well live. Warren is whole and happy. Do you remember the last time you saw him so happy?”

Hank slowly shakes his head. “Not since he was with Elizabeth,” he gently murmurs.

“Yeah, and this joy has nothing to do with a woman. It comes from himself, from inside of him. He’s really happy, Hank. He isn’t condemning himself.” Bobby pauses before noting, “But here you are, condemning yourself.”

Hank sighs and shakes his head. “No. No, I am not condemning myself, Robert. Far from it actually. I am condemning us, all of us.”


“What?”

“Look at the way the world has become. Look at what we allowed to happen to our Professor and so many of our friends.”

“Hank, we’re not to blame -- “

“Aren’t we?”

“The Phoenix tricked Scott! She -- “

“The Phoenix? Bobby, we knew about the Phoenix twenty years before the entity made the move that slaughtered our Professor. We have known about dangers, and we have ignored them. We have let our people be extinguished to near extinction twice. We have seen the horrors that are coming and failed to stop them, failed, at times, to even try. We see the world, Robert -- “ He shakes his head sorrowfully. “, -- but we do not save it.”

“How would you have us save it, Hank? What would you have us do?”

“I would have us be X-Men, to truly fight for what the Professor’s dream really means.”

“We always have -- “

“No, we have not. We have bent our scruples until they are nearly non-existent. We have turned blind eyes time and again. We have let the world be endangered, and now mutants are being escorted out of the country by our own government. And still, we do so little good, if any at all.”

“We do do good!” Bobby argues. “We do good every day! We save lives!”

“But what about the ones we lose, Robert? What about those ordinary lives who are caught up in the battles between good and evil? It wasn’t all that long ago that we had an assassin in the school, Robert, a man bent on killing us because we allowed his wife and child to die. We did that, Bobby. We allowed that to happen, no one else.”

“But how many do we save?”

Hank’s deep, blue eyes bore into him. “How many does it matter?” he asks. “If we lose one life in the process of saving millions, is it worth it?”

“Of course it is!”

“Is it? Are you that certain? When did it become our place to play god and decide who lives or dies? The Professor did not operate that way.”

“And look at what became of the Professor!”

“We already agreed that the Phoenix -- “

“No, not the Phoenix! Not Scott! Our Professor! Our own Professor, long before he died, became our greatest foe! I know you haven’t forgotten Onslaught or how many heroes he killed!”

“No. No, I have not.”

“And that happened because the Professor continued to make the hard decisions! He kept ignoring the easy ones. He kept refusing the darkness, the harder decisions, the decisions like who lives and who dies, until that darkness festered in him to the point it broke free and took him over, nearly took us over in the process! All because he tried to deny it. It sucks, Hank, I know it does, but sometimes, you have to make the hard decisions.”

“I’m tired of making the hard decisions, Bobby. I’m tired of always doing the morally correct thing or being the only one on the team who stands up against the easier methods -- “

“What easier methods are those, Hank? Ignoring this? Ignoring all of this? Ignoring all the good we’ve done just because we’ve lost some lives in the process? We can’t save everyone, Hank!”

“But what if there was a way?”

“There isn’t!”

“But what if there was?” Hank persists. “Please, hear me out, Robert,” he pleads, placing a massive hand on Bobby’s knee. “It’s important to me that you understand this.”

“Hank,” Bobby searches his eyes, “what are you talking about? What are you thinking about doing?!”

“It is not what I am thinking about doing, Robert. It is what I have already decided I am going to do.”

Bobby’s heart hasn’t felt so cold in years, not since he awakened from Emma Frost’s possession of his body. “What are you talking about, Hank?” he whispers urgently, feeling tears beginning to pool in his eyes.

“From the way you’re looking at me,” Hank returns quietly, “I’d wager you already suspect you know, perhaps you already do know. But I ask again: What if there was a way? What if there was a way to make the Dream real? To give mutants and humans a true chance to leave together in peaceful cohabitation?”

“New Tian,” Bobby whispers, suddenly hoarse.

Hank nods. “It’s a new land, Bobby, a new kingdom, a new world in its own right. Mutants and humans do get along peacefully there.”

“But what about all the questions about it?”

“The questions of those who already do not wish to face the harsh reality of the world in which we live? The questions by the same people who fail to accept blame for one or two lives who perish in the battles fought to save millions?”

“The questions our friends and family have been asking all along,” Bobby says through gritted teeth. He doesn’t believe he’s hearing this -- not from Hank, of all people!

“As you yourself just said, my dearest, sometimes we have to make the hard decisions.”

“But not to control people against their will!”

“Even if it is for the best for them? Nothing else we have tried has work, Bobby, and we have tried so many times and lost so many lives in the process.”


“But this isn’t the answer!”

“Who’s to say if it is or not?”

“How about the people being freaking brainwashed, Beast?! How about Emma Frost, who’s hanging out over there?! You can’t be serious! You can’t tell me you really believe that’s the way we should go!”

“If it saves lives, if it can save the world, if it can actually make the dream a reality to the point we stop losing lives,” Hank nods gravely, “yes, yes, I think it is. Bobby, I don’t want to just keep watching the world perish! I want to save it before it’s too late!”

“What happened to guy who believed it was never too late?”

“He grew up. He grew old.” He sighs again. “Life taught him lessons that were hard to swallow.”

“This is hard to swallow! What in the world are you thinking about?!”

“I’m thinking of the better good, Robert!”

“No! The better good can never be brainwashing people!”

Hank shakes his head. “I wish I could be so certain.”

“The man I fell in love with was! He would have never considered this!”

“That man is old now, Robert, and tearing out new, gray hairs every morning of his trivial existence. He has fought the world time and again, has lost, and has the scars, both on his body and his soul, to prove it. Moreover, he’s tired, Bobby. He’s so very tired of losing those he loves and does not want to see another soul perish.”


“But at the cost of brainwashing them?!”

“At whatever cost, my dearest Robert, just so long as we stop this senseless string of lives being surrendered, of being lost, of being taken prematurely -- “

“Hank, think about what you’re saying! Is a person really alive if somebody else is controlling their every move, their every thought?!”


“They are alive, Robert.”

“Alive, but they wish they were dead! It wasn’t so long ago that I was a prisoner in my own body, Hank! I’m telling you: This isn’t the way!!”

“I wish I could be as certain, but I am not. I can not be until I have attempted it myself. We have tried everything else, Robert -- “

“So you’re just going to give in?! You’re just going to say ‘that’s it’, no more deaths and throw your towel in with the evil mutants of the world?!”


“Bobby -- “

“Answer me this, Hank. What happens when people break free of the mental control? What happens when they realize what you’re doing to them? What happens when it doesn’t work any more? What then?!”

“I wish I knew! If I had the answers, Robert, I would not be leaving, but New Tian gives us a new chance through a method we have never tried before to make the dream a reality as well as granting me time and space -- “

“If you wanted space, all you had to do was say so!”

Hank reaches out and catches Bobby’s hand before he can jump down. “I do not wish for space from you, Robert! I had actually hoped you would come with me!”

Bobby jerks his hand away and stares at Hank, the man he thought he’d known, the man to whom he’d given his heart years ago. “No.” Slowly, he shakes his head. “There’s no way I”m going to that place, not to become a part of it, Hank, and if you’re desperate and stupid enough to go there . . . I guess I never really knew you after all!”

“I do not even know myself any more.”

“Obviously not! Not if you think mind control is the answer!”


“But what if it’s not mind control? We have no proof . . . “

“How else would so many humans and mutants actually be living together, Hank, and not fighting?!”

“Because,” his boyfriend answers simply, “somebody finally found a way to make the Dream a reality. Is that not what we have always wanted, Bobby?”

“It is, but . . . But it isn’t right! There’s nothing in this world, Hank, that can make me ever say brainwashing is okay! Not after what Emma Frost did to me! And as much trouble as I have with my folks, I would still never dream of brainwashing them into accepting me! I’m telling you nothing good can come of this!”

Hank sighs. His head drops; he looks away to the ground far beneath their feet. “I had hoped,” he says again, his voice small and quiet, “you would accompany me, but I can see now that is never going to happen, is it?” Slowly, he raises his questing gaze back to Bobby’s furious face.

“No,” Bobby almost growls out his answer. He folds his arms stubbornly before him. “It’s not. I’d hoped you’d never be that stupid, but that obviously isn’t going to happen either, is it?!”

“I have to try -- “


“And I have to stay here! I have to do what’s right!”

“That’s what I’m trying to do!”

“Brainwashing will never be right!”

“But what if it’s not mind control?” Hank asks again. “What if you and the others are completely wrong? What if these people are truly living together in peace of their own free will?”

Bobby snorts. “It’s not going to happen.”

“Then what have we been fighting for all these many years?”

Bobby stops. He freezes still, seeing the anguished, lost expression in Hank’s eyes. It seems, suddenly, like he’s hunting for his very soul. In that moment, Bobby wants nothing more than to throw his arms around him and hold him tight all night long, but those nights are over. At least, for now, they are. “Then send for me, and I’ll come. But if you’re wrong, when you realize you are wrong, will you come home?”


A part of Hank wants to ask if there will be a place waiting for him, but this is no longer the school or the X-Men he’s loved nearly all his life. Almost as though he can read his mind, and the bond they’ve developed together after all these years is almost that strong, Bobby whispers with feeling, “There will always be a place for you here.”

But he can not go back to the way things were. He can not go back to a team whose members are continuously committing atrocities in the name of doing what is right. He can not go back to the lies, or to the deaths, or to the murders. But he also can not leave this man in front of him for the rest of his life. “Then,” he says softly, gathering Robert’s hands in his, which are so much bigger they seem almost to swallow Bobby’s hands, “I will come back to you.”

Bobby sniffles. “You better.”

Hank bends his head and kisses each of Bobby’s hands. “I will,” he vows and then bounds away, down the monkey bars, away from the school, and toward New Tian.

Bobby watches as he leaves, trembling inside, but it’s only after he’s certain he’s gone that he lowers his head and cries for what was and, he knows, will never be again.


The End

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