by Te
May 24, 2003

Disclaimers: Nothing here is mine, dammit.

Spoilers: X-Men: The Movie, X2.

Summary: "Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty
of observing in any given case the available means
of persuasion." -- Aristotle

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: Jenn made me. Okay, I was thinking
it, but it's still her fault.

Acknowledgments: To the IRC crew for encouragement
and Jenn for audiencing.

Feedback: Always. teland793@sbcglobal.net


John didn't much like school -- or, well, the *school*
aspects of school -- but there were some things that
resonated. Physics, the strength and flexibility training
with Scott.


He especially loved the way the Professor -- Xavier
taught it. All low, classical-type voice and the way he
watched you, watched all of them, like he was trying
to put the knowledge in with the power of his mind.
And who knew? Maybe he was. Rhetoric was not
truth, or not necessarily truth, or sometimes truth with
a fine spin on it.

Spin wasn't a good or bad thing, but it could win you
debates. The hearts and minds of the populace. Xavier
hadn't said it like that, or not entirely like that, but it
was on his face. Like while he taught he was thinking
about those idiots in Washington and the way he
could make them listen without lifting a finger.

John liked that. He'd thought, maybe, there was
something to learning all the literature and crap they
tried to shove into his brain if he could use it to get
something out of the world. Something like that
satisfied little smile on Xavier's face.

But... he needed more than that. He needed more
then and he needed it now.

There was a moment when he was in Bobby's house,
staring at the pictures of smiling Mom and smiling
Dad and smiling Bobby and smiling Ronnie and
thinking... hey, this could work. He distinctly
remembered thinking that. It didn't all have to be
about parents shunting you off to relative after relative
after kindly family friend until you wound up in a
houseful of mutants all with the same level of shame
and fear about their powers.

It could be about family, and pretty little suburban
homes with pretty little suburban toys...

And then there was Ronnie. *Ronnie*. He hadn't
needed to hear Bobby say it, he thought he'd maybe
known from the time the kid ran up the stairs.
Magneto -- *Erik* -- would probably say it had more
to do with fear than anything else, but *he* knew.

Jealousy. Bitterness. Golden boy getting the girl and
the power and the...

He flicked the Zippo open, closed, open. Pressed it to
his mouth and smelled butane, tasted the fire just
waiting to bloom...

It was tempting to just light the thing, to open that
place in his head where it sometimes felt like every
fire in the world lived and just...


They were in a warehouse somewhere in Maryland.
He had a room to himself, a bed of a bare mattress
on the cold, hard floor. He hated the cold, but Erik
assured him things would be better soon.

He knew that it wasn't really the best idea to trust him --
remembered the way Rogue talked about what it was
like on the Statue of Liberty -- but there was something...

The way he had looked at him, and asked his *real*
name, as if John was just... something to hide behind.
Like everyone who had called him John was just lying to
him or to themselves. It had been...

It had made something rise up in him, like maybe he
didn't need cigarettes or lighters or anything. Like all
he really needed was the desire and the hunger and
he'd be able to... He'd be Pyro, for good and all.

He remembered a night when neither he nor Bobby
could seem to get to sleep, and the way he'd had to
huddle under the blankets because Bobby was
making things in ice and the whole room was like a
little square of winter. Faces and symbols and
random curls and swirls of ice, over and over, like
Bobby couldn't help himself.

Bobby had talked about what it felt like, how
sometimes he thought he could be almost like Storm,
and make the whole world cold and hard and
*made* for him.

"Do you know what that's like? I mean... does it
feel the same with the fire?"

And John had thought about it. How it felt when he
would rip the flame off the top of the Zippo, and
send it here, or there, how it felt like he maybe
didn't have to breathe, and how he wanted to
anyway, *needed* to, because he had to feel the
smoke in his lungs, the heat that went all the way
through him.

Like if he cut himself he'd bleed molten lava, or
maybe just burn away everything and everyone until
it was just him on a pile of soft, greasy ash.

He remembered getting hard, and having to turn
over so it wouldn't show through the blankets. Curling
up around himself and that beautiful, faceless desire.
"Go to sleep, Bobby," he'd said, and eventually found
his way there himself.

Tonight... he didn't want to sleep. He didn't particularly
see anything he wanted to burn, either, and that was
frustrating. Like being a kid and surrounded by things
he couldn't touch or hold or break. But... this was the

Downstairs, there was a big, open space set up with
rough-hewn targets where Erik kept taking the Zippo
away from him and making him concentrate, focus.
Hell, maybe he wanted John to fucking *meditate* on
the essential target-ness of the targets. It didn't matter.
They were still there, still whole and solid. Splintering
wood and straw for hair like big, flammable *teases*.

John flicked the lighter shut and got up off the
mattress. He didn't *have* to use his powers. It
wouldn't hurt to just... get another look at them. Maybe
he'd see something... different.

Down the stairs in bare feet, iron cold and begging to
be melted into something sweeter... of *course* Erik
would surround himself with metal. It made perfect
sense, annoying and cold as it all was. If someone had
shut him away for months and years, surrounded him
with water or asbestos...

He didn't know what he'd do. No, he knew -- he'd be
out of his fucking *mind*. There was something
*wrong* with a world that couldn't burn, and he bet
Erik thought the same thing about a world of nothing
but plastic.

John had seen a picture and it was like this big white
*box* hanging in the middle of nowhere. Something
that would reek if it burned.

The targets were still there, of course, and Mystique's
car -- no, Senator *Kelly's* car all mellow and
gleaming and off to the side. And... that was something.

He would bet *money* that Xavier and the rest of the
teachers had known full well that it wasn't the real
Senator Kelly in Washington, trying to keep mutants
from being rounded up in some World War II
nightmare. Hell, even the youngest students had told
stories about how the man had just dissolved.

So, if they knew Kelly was dead, and that some mutant
was just impersonating him, and that there just weren't
too many mutants who could have done it, hold that
form for that long... they *must* have known it was

The same Mystique that they had fought, who was
supposed to be so bad, so full of the wrong ideas...

And they'd just let it happen.

And maybe he wasn't the smartest guy around, and he
knew he probably missed a lot of the subtle things
they'd tried to teach him, but he didn't think that was
quite... right. He had no idea how letting Mystique
impersonate a U.S. Senator who she'd helped to kill
could possibly fit in with all the peace and love and
fucking *tolerance* they were all supposed to believe

He was pretty sure it didn't. At all.

There was rhetoric, and there was talk, and then there
was *fact*.

And the facts were that it was better to have a mutant
in a position of power than it was to have just another
bigoted asshole. And if it was right, if it was a *fact*
that that mutant had to be Mystique...

Then what was he supposed to believe?

Whatever he wanted to, that's what.

Something in the air, both familiar and not, and when
he looked up Erik was there, floating down to the
ground on his disk, a little smile on his face like he
knew something John didn't.

"Couldn't sleep?"

He shrugged. "I was just... thinking. About stuff." He
winced inwardly. He fucking *hated* when he couldn't
come up with anything halfway smart to say.
Somehow it was even worse with people who didn't
know him, or know him well. Like they would make
up their minds and look at him and see nothing but
just another punk kid.

But Erik just nodded and looked at the car with him,
like he'd said something smart after all.

"What about you?"

The smile got a little wider. "Thinking about stuff.
Making plans... Pyro." Erik turned just enough to face
him. "You've made some difficult decisions lately.
It's not abnormal for you to be feeling... hesitant."

And all he could do was blink at that for a moment,
because he couldn't for the life of him figure out
what *that* was supposed to mean. And then he
could, but he had no idea how to say it. Mystique's
car, the police, the whole world full of people who
hated and feared... in the end, the best he could
manage was, "I'm not. At least... not about this."

Erik just looked at him for a long moment, and then
nodded. "Then what *is* on your mind, if you don't
mind my asking?"

Same classic-y voice as Xavier's, but... rougher. More...
something. The kind of voice that demanded attention.
It was hard to imagine anyone getting away with
doing *anything* bad to a guy with a voice like that,
but there were bruises on his face. "Humans," he said.

Another nod, and Erik looked at the car again. "There
are people who would have you believe... almost
anything but what you can plainly see with your own
eyes. They would have you think we're the same..."

Storm, talking about the means of mutation, just as if
she used the name her human parents gave her for
more than just signing papers. He frowned. "I know."

Erik looked at him again, something like amusement
on his face. "Do you now? Let me tell you a story."

John nodded and leaned back against the car, scraping
the lighter a little against the finish. It wasn't as if he
was tired.

Erik steepled his fingers and gave John a little bow, as
if he'd done something courtly, as opposed to just
agreeing to pay attention. "When I was younger, back
in the seventies... possibly before you were even born,
I knew a woman named Rosalie Adams. She was of
mixed parentage."

"Human and mutant?"

A small, sharp smile. "Black and White." He paced a
little, and seemed to be looking at the ceiling for
answers for a moment before he went back to looking
at John. "She never referred to herself as anything
but Black, though, in truth, if she were just a few
shades lighter, she could've probably... passed."

"Like me."

"Indeed." Erik took a step closer, and then another.
John could smell something almost machine-like on
him, and something else that was probably expensive
cologne. If John reached out, he could touch the man.
Feel the crisp whatever-the-hell that his dress shirt
was made of, or... something.

It made John want to fidget.

"One day, I asked her why she did so, and why she
never mentioned to people that her father had been
White..." He tilted his head. "Do you know what she
told me?"

John looked up until he could see Erik's eyes. They
were... amused, but there was something darker
there, too. "What?"

"She told me 'Erik, it doesn't matter what I call myself.
To them, I'm always going to be a nigger. So I might
as well be Black, don't you think?'"

John winced. That was... "That's..."

"Horrible? Cruel?" Erik took him by the chin, and there
were calluses on his fingers. The kind people got from
working so hard their hands bled. John closed his eyes
for a moment, and when he opened them again the
darkness was mostly gone. "Pyro, the world is what it
is, and what it is... is rarely anything but ugly."

John tried a smile. "No one ever called you an optimist,
did they?"

A short bark of laughter, and Erik's breath didn't smell
of anything but coffee. "On the contrary, I would be a
very depressed old man if I didn't believe I could make
something out of the raw material of this world. *Our*
world, Pyro." Another head tilt. "Do you understand?"

John blinked and nodded. And was about to say
something when Erik kissed him. It was soft, and
strange, and familiar, and there was something in his
blood that didn't have anything to do with being
constantly overheated, or even being a teenager. It
was... power, and it made him gasp.

Open his mouth wider and Erik's tongue was hot, and
wet, and just a little bitter with coffee, and he hadn't
known he wanted this, hadn't even *thought* of it,
but it was good.

Warm with the press of Erik's body against his own,
cool with the feel of Mystique's car against his back,
and when he put his arms up around Erik's neck and
pressed the Zippo to the man's skin, he made a sound,
and that was even better.

Rumbling through him until he could feel it, until he
had to spread his legs and urge Erik on, press that
long, lean body to his own and think of all the things
he'd never be able to have.

And then Erik pulled away and John remembered to
breathe, absently noting that he'd hiked one knee up
to Erik's hip, that his own hips were rocking and
pressing and moving. Couldn't stop. "I thought... you
and Mystique -- oh God --"

Soft and predatory smile. "Things are rarely so simple
as binary theory would have you believe, Pyro..."

"Fuck, stop talking --" And he kissed Erik, and teased
his tongue back into his mouth, and Erik was laughing
and kept laughing until John sucked his tongue.

And then he pressed hard against him, and somewhere
beneath those expensive and classy slacks...


God, and nothing was better than this. Sex was just
another way to build the fire inside him, make it
bloom like... like some fucking *flower*, and in the
end it didn't matter who it was on the other side of
things, who it was stoking him up higher and higher.

Except it was Erik, fucking *Magneto* who could kill
a man with just the iron in his blood, Erik with a hand
down his pants and --

"*Fuck* --"

He thought it was maybe this, or something like that.
That one beautiful thing just beyond his reach that
would make the world flare so bright and die. But for
now, all he wanted was *more* of this.

Sweet friction and not enough pre-come to make it
not hurt, and just enough pain to make it good, and
he wanted to give it back, wanted to get his own hand
around Erik and make him *feel* this, but he couldn't
stop clutching at the man's shoulders, couldn't stop
jerking his hips up and getting his cock *in* --

"Beautiful boy..."

And he had a moment, one sweet moment where it
was perfect, where he thought if he wanted he could
just blow the fucking roof off, and Erik's hand was
gonna take him there, give him that, and then he had
to throw his head back and cry out loud.

Shaking and coming and wanting more, again, this --

"Oh. Oh God yes..."

John came back to himself to the feel of Erik's mouth
on his throat, soft and wet like something that just
needed a little *push* to burn him right up. His cock
twitched and Erik chuckled again, maybe thinking he
was a kid, or maybe just thinking he was... good.
Good for this.

He couldn't make himself pull away and look. He
didn't want to be sure.

But Erik was still hard against his hip, and he *could*
do something about that. Smiled to himself and slid
his way down, t-shirt riding up and back scraping
against the smooth, smooth finish of Mystique's car.

Closed his eyes and pressed his face against where
Erik was hardest.


And pulled down the zipper.

This was... This was a hand on his hair, and a soft
murmur of arousal, or maybe even approval.

Truth, with a hot, silky spin on it.

All he needed.