Evening turns to night over the Drake home on Long Island, as Bobby “Iceman” Drake stands on the path leading up to his parents' new home. He rubs his head as he checks his phone after sending a mass text message that read:
Hey... I know we haven't talked in a while... everyone's been busy!
Sorry to do this over text message, but I wanted to beat the grapevine and tell you that I'm gay.
It's a process I'm still going through, but I wanted to reach out. If you wanna talk, I'm around.
Some responses have started to come through:
Jean-Paul: Process my butt! We NEED to get coffee and discuss IRL!
Opal: Had no clue! Cool, I guess.
Johnny Storm: Flame ON. Literally, haha!
Lorna: A part of me always kind of thought so... that's probably why I picked Alex.
Spidey: Huh... you'd think your fashion sense would tingle a little harder!
Boom-Boom: New phone who dis?
'He's here!' a voice calls out from inside the house. Madeline Drake opens the door and smiles at her son, announcing that the turkey meatloaf is in the oven and that Bobby's father is setting the table. 'I get to give you the grand tour of the new house!' Madeline tells her son. They hug and Bobby tells her that not only is he on time, but that he brought some dessert. They are unaware that they are currently being watched.
'Oh, that's kind, but your father and I cut out sweets for his health' Madeline tells Bobby as they step inside. 'Aw, you couldn't have told me that?' Bobby asks. 'You didn't ask' Madeline points out. She then tells Bobby that they still have plenty of projects to do, but that they are getting close. Bobby looks at some photos on the wall, and remarks that there are lots of photos of him from high school. 'The good old days!' Madeline exclaims. 'What's that supposed to mean?' Bobby asks. His mother just tells him to stop being defensive. 'That was the last time we were a unit, when you lived with us and had the whole world ahead of you. Before my boy had to fight for “the cause”.' Madeline explains. 'If I see my CPA license framed in any of these rooms...' Bobby begins as his mother starts to walk up the stairs, informing Bobby that they should have some more current pictures somewhere upstairs, maybe in his father's office.
Later, William sits at the head of the table, with Madeline to his left and Bobby on his right, and plenty of food on the table before them. 'Here's a good one that won't annoy you too much' Bobby begins as he informs his parents that a little bit ago, he and Kitty were in California and this kid's abilities made it so neither of them could use their powers. He adds that he heard Kitty phased an entire building this year, and tells his parents that they already know what he can do with his mutant powers, so they were scrambling hard – 'Can we not talk about the mutant stuff tonight?' William asks, interrupting. 'Uh, on a scale of 1 to “Mutant Stuff” most of my stories land around the “Mutant Stuff” end of the spectrum' Bobby retorts, adding that it is basically the two of them and the barista at Coffee a Go-Go who don't fall in that category.
William shakes his fork and declares that it is on the news all the time, that he sees posters and flyers all over town for rallies and whatnot. 'You get to be “you” all the time, no one's mad about it anymore. So why can't we talk about something normal tonight?' William asks. Annoyed, Bobby asks his father if he has a list of pre-approved topics they can discuss, because it is not like the two of them are giving him much to work with. 'Ground control to Major Will, this is my normal. There's only so much I can add to a conversation about wallpaper and mallard placement' Bobby exclaims. “Temper tantrum! Temper tantrum!” Madeline jokes to William, who asks Madeline if she remembers when they took Bobby to Coney Island and he sat in the middle of the boardwalk, pouting because they wouldn't him a sno-cone. 'Maybe that's why he got mutant powers!' Madeline exclaims. Bobby frowns and tells his parents that he is trying to be serious here, and they are making fun of him. 'I could be out doing my job – because, guess what? People still hate us!' Bobby tells them.
“Job” William quotes and frowns. 'Maddie, he gets your sense of humor!' William remarks, asking Bobby if they make him clock in after he puts on that skintight romper he calls a uniform. 'I think they can hear my eyes rolling in Madripoor' Bobby mutters. William tells his son that he loves that Bobby wants to do the right thing, but asks why he has to do it the way he does – like they are all in a parade or something. 'If you're so hell-bent on saving people's lives, wouldn't you be a big deal as a fireman?' William suggests. Madeline tells Bobby that his father is right – something with structure and benefits! 'Oh-Em-Gee. I can't keep arguing the same thing with you both over and over again. I'm really trying hard to always meet you two on your level, and you both are so stuck on the son that never happened -' Bobby exclaims.
Bobby continues, announcing that he has tons of things to talk about, and promises that it is more than the “mutant stuff” and pop culture references that fly over their heads, but that they are putting him in a box and making it really hard to want to come out of it. 'I'm just saying... if you're doing such important work, why can't these people give you a retirement plan? You want me to believe you're not in some violent cult? Where's the 401(k) and benefits?' Madeline asks. 'Cool. You're not even listening to me' Bobby tells his parents as he stands up and starts to clear the dishes from the table. At the same time, someone outside continues to watch Bobby through some infra-red glasses.
Shortly, Bobby is in the kitchen, washing the dishes. He tells himself that he can do this, they are just people, it's no big deal, just a conversation. 'Why is this so hard...' Bobby wonders, closing his eyes, when, suddenly, a smoke grenade is thrown through the kitchen window. 'Oh, hell' the surprised Bobby utters, switching to ice-form, he quickly freezes the grenade, when suddenly, a young blond man wearing a Purifier costume leaps through the window, armed with a weapon, he calls out 'Your time has come, Iceman! Taste our vindication, mutant scu-' the Purifier doesn't finish his sentence as Iceman throws a snowball at him, then kicks him in the stomach, knocking him back as they start to mess up the kitchen, knocking the fruitbowl over and sending pots and utensils dropping to the floor. 'Most parents have to worry about their kids breaking into the liquor cabinet... mine have to worry about religious zealots breaking into their home!' Bobby exclaims.
'Will you be making jokes when our army slaughters your parents?' thje Purifier asks, slamming his fist into Bobby's jaw. 'That's kind of my MO, so yeah' Bobby tells the Purifier, shoving his face to the kitchen counter, Bobby asks the Purifier 'How many of you are there?' 'We are countless in our efforts -' the Purifier begins, but Bobby grabs him by his collar and tells him to skip the speechifying. 'HOW MANY?' he shouts. The Purifier looks up at Bobby, blood trickles from his nose and mouth as he announces 'A dozen...he brought a dozen men tonight'. Bobby then slams the Purifier against a wall, 'Thank you!' he tells him, encasing the Purifier's hands in a large ice-block, the Purifier slumps to the floor, and Bobby starts to walk out of the kitchen, muttering that his Dad will already have his constipated “You big letdown” face on. 'Pray your teammates didn't scuff the new furniture' Bobby tells the Purifier.
Creeping through the hallway from the kitchen, Bobby tells himself to be very quiet as he is hunting Purifiers. 'What gives you the right to come into our home and tell us what to do?' Bobby hears William ask from the living room. Bobby stands in the hall and listens as a voice responds: 'In a word?' followed by a loud KRAK and Madeline shouts 'William!' while Bobby peers into the living room, and sees his parents on their knees on the floor, Purifiers standing around them, including an older man with a moustache who aims a weapon at Bobby's parents and declares 'Justice'. Bobby starts to release stands of ice into the living area, while the lead Purifier announces that this has turned into a family affair. He states that the Purifiers are clear in their mission – God has commanded them to keep the mutants from taking over. He tells the Drakes that he has no quarrel with them, but that their son did a bad thing.
The lead Purifier reports that not too long ago, his son was following orders, honoring God's plan. 'And then your son came and ganged up on my son' the Purifier declares. 'The attack at the hospital' William recalls. 'Yes, you see where this is going' the Purifier replies. The strands of ice move closer to the Purifier, who tells William Drake that he sympathizes with him, given that he seems to be a pious man, to have that unrepentant parasite for a son, it is a shame. 'Your judgment's been sealed in the afterlife, but I will still pray for you and your wife' the Purifier remarks, to which William replies 'Don't talk to me about faith'. Suddenly, a sensor on the Purifier's armor is set off, and the Purifier spins around and fires his weapon at the edge of the wall where the ice strands are. 'Next shot goes in your father's head, mutant. Are you going to let your cowardice be the reason he dies?' the Purifier calls out.
Bobby holds his hands up and steps out from the corridor into the living room: 'Pick a lane. Am I a soulless coward parasite mutant... or the man who's bravely walking into a trap to save his family? I'm not complex enough to be both' Bobby declares. 'Humor in the face of adversity? Some would call this attitude lacking in manners' the Purifier remarks, putting a hand on Bobby's shoulder. He then asks 'Are those eyes made of ice?' the Purifier asks. 'Try and find out' Bobby tells him. 'Please, if it's money you want, wwe can refinance the house, take out a loan...' Madeline calls out. The Purifier turns back to the Drakes and exclaims 'My only son is in jail because of your hellspawn!' The Drakes hang their heads as the older Purifier shouts 'This zoo animal thought it was his place to intervene with God's plan. My boy is disgraced – behind bars! Somebody must pay the price for the mutant's sins!' William is clutching his chest, and suddenly, he cries out in agony, then collapses to the floor.
'Oh God, William!' Madeline exclaims, crouching at her husband's side. The lead Purifier turns to one of the younger Purifiers and instructs him to check his pulse and see if thy need to put him out of his misery. 'Yes, Sir, Commander Beckett' the Purifier responds. 'Can't feel my arm...' William utters, while he reaches for a shove against the fireplace, then swings it into the face of the Purifier who is checking his pulse. 'The nerve of this family. No respect for procedure!' Commander Beckett declares as he kicks William in the face. Madeline looks frightened as Beckett grabs William by his neck and announces that he is fed up with these rodents walking freely, happily, infecting this country, making it rot to its core. 'Are you like me – do you hate them just for living, breathing?' Beckett asks. 'You remind me a lot of Mr Logan' William replies.
Purifiers hold Iceman back as Beckett lifts William up by his neck, while William reveals that Mr Logan was the dean of students at Saint Raphael, and he would use the belt on them, which most kids needed anyway, but Mr Logan would hide letters their parents had sent them, and wrote lies so their parents wouldn't come visit. William reveals that Mr Logan would make them go a solid day without food if they spoke out of turn – normal stuff for second grade. He adds that he never thought anyone could misinterpret the teachings as much as he did, and tells Beckett that what he is talking about goes against the stuff that makes the book holy – against the stuff that unified a country that doesn't always get along. 'It's a pity you've been led astray...' Beckett tells William, adding that it seems like maybe they will skin him and his wife once they are done putting his son in a coffin. 'Temper tantrum... TEMPER TANTRUM!' Bobby shouts as the Purifiers continue to restrain him, and he starts to freeze the living room.
Outside, Purifiers are standing guard around the house, and are suddenly knocked through the air by the wave of ice that tears the living room apart. 'You're fed up? You're tired of feeling followed around and beaten up? Clueless' Bobby tells Beckett. The Purifiers watch Bobby as large ice-spires rise up and trap several of the other Purifiers. 'You weenies are all benefiting from my kindness – my mercy. You're alive all because this zoo animal knows compassion...' Iceman tells them. 'Dear Lord' Beckett utters as the other Purifiers around him find themselves trapped in ice. 'All of you could have been dead the minute I walked through that hallway' Iceman announces, adding that he doesn't need his hands to freeze the capillaries in their brains. 'You human dish rags are legit blessed to have come after me'.
Bobby then traps Commander Beckett in solid ice and point out 'You'd be on adamantium skewers by now if I were the Wolverine. I hope you're counting your blessings. Especially you, bringing my family into this'. 'All it takes is a little tug of the tail...and the beast shows its true colors!' Beckett declares as he releases a grenade, which blows up the block of ice he is trapped in. He falls to the ground, and looks up to see Iceman standing over him: 'Try your best to kill me. Please' Iceman tells Beckett. The bigot opens fire, but Iceman increases his mass, creating an “ice armor” around his body as the gunfire bounces off of him. 'While you pretend there's a last stand to be had, lemme tell you a story...' Bobby reveals that, apparently, there is a timeline where he becomes an ultra powerful ice wizard-type guy. 'It's a surprise to me, too' he remarks as he uses his power to freeze the next barrage of gunfire.
Bobby continues, revealing that the ice wizard could make ice creatures that were formidable in their own right. 'To have a glimpse of something I'll become that I can barely understand... it's a vexing notion. Makes me wonder if I'm right to put stock in the faith that I'll do the right thing – be the right person' Bobby declares as he moves closer to Beckett, switching back to his regular ice-form, and putting a hand to Beckett's chest, Bobby freezes Beckett's armor, shattering the chest plate, revealing Beckett's bare chest. 'I want to kill you, and it seems like in the grand scheme of things, no one on my side of this war would lose sleep about it. But I won't do it' Bobby declares, as there is a hissing sound and Becket cries out in pain. 'Y'know, it's not because of morals. I want you to live a nice, long, healthy life so you can watch your son grow into the massive disappointment he's destined to become. That's my read on mercy' Bobby tells Beckett, removing his hand, and revealing a large X scar on the center of his chest.
'BOBBY!' Madeline calls out as she steps out onto the lawn. Bobby looks up at his mother, then out to the ice-spires and trapped Purifiers on the front lawn. 'This is as bad as it looks' Bobby announces. He then asks his mother if she called the police, and Madeline reports that they are coming. 'They better have enough handcuffs for this lot' Madeline points out. Beckett looks up at Iceman and announces that he will wear this “X” as a badge of courage. 'But you – yours is a target. If we're not going to get you, others will, at any cost. Because, little boy, at the end of the day, the X-Men will never be welcome... you will all be hunted' Beckett declares.
The next morning: 'Bozhe moi' Colossus gasps as he, Anole and Glob Herman stand with Bobby outside the Drake home. 'Looks even worse in the daylight' Bobby remarks as he and his companions survey the damage. Bobby's father is mopping up some of the mess on the yard. Melted ice has pooled everywhere, and boards from the destroyed living room wall are scattered about. Bobby calls out to his parents and announces that he has come bearing people who are much stronger than he – except for Anole, who is here to replace hard-to-reach stuff. 'Can we help with cleanup?' Bobby asks 'We're fine. Don't need any sore thumbs sticking out' William scowls, before turning and heading inside. Madeline emerges from the destroyed living room, 'William...' she utters as her husband walks past her.
Bobby hands his mother a container filled with some food and tells her that they are gluten-free, paleo, fruit juice-sweetened, and that he asked three people at the store what a carob chip is, but he is pretty sure this is a dessert that can eat. Madeline thanks Bobby, who tells her that he understands why they don't want to see him now, and explains that there is some life stuff he has been dealing with that has him shaken up, and that now is not the time to get into it, but that it makes him want to not be fakey-fake when they are together. 'Okay' Madeline replies, before telling Bobby that what he did last night with the ice – she has seen him do that before, but this was different – it was scary. 'How big do these powers get?' she asks.
Bobby solemnly announces that he is figuring that out. He adds that his powers scared him for a long time, but that talking about it, not fearing what possibility brings, makes it better. Madeline tells Bobby that she will say this once, and tells him not to repeat it to his father: 'You're right. We don't give you any credit for trying, and we don't know much about each other'. Madeline puts a hand on Bobby's shoulder and tells him that this isn't an easy process for them. 'The world says “mutants are okay” today, that doesn't change the decades of thinking they're not' Madeline remarks, before telling Bobby that she will convince his father to come see him at his job. 'Just...give us our time, okay?' she asks. Bobby smiles and tells her he can do that, while Glob quietly asks 'Does this mean we're off the hook?'