Well, Jono had found a place to stay. Not even a bad one, really, though he'd been run for a bit of a loop after his arrival in London to be able to get it. As he'd suspected, he'd been staying in one of the city's less desirable hotels, at first. But it had been within his price range, and they hadn't seemed to care one way or the other about the fact that he was a freak, or about the cat, just so long as he was able to pay.
He'd been upgraded pretty significantly not long after he'd saved Sugar Kane, a teen pop star from Llandudno, from being mobbed to death in a nightclub in Soho. He'd slipped out of the place once the people had started screaming mutant slurs, but apparently she'd taken some sort of interest in him. Tracked him down at the place he was staying at. Started inviting him to tag along while she shot her new videos. Jono didn't much care for her particular brand of perky pop music, but he could appreciate that she was practically the only one in London who didn't seem to give a toss about the fire that so much of his upper body consisted of.
Hell, she insisted that he not cover it up. And he went along with it. People were going to talk no matter what he did, after all. There were already rumours that Sugar was getting cozy with the mysterious mutant who had only given his name as 'Jon.' Might as well give them a show while he was at it.
The X-Men had found Jono in the flat that Sugar was paying for until he could get himself on his feet again. It had been an unexpected visit. Poorly timed, at that. All Jono really cared about, at this point, was that he was standing there wrapped in a bleedin' bedsheet, and they were making themselves at home no sooner than he'd opened the door to see who the hell was trying to pound it down so early in the day.
"Nice digs, Starsmore." Bobby, a far older version of Bobby than the one that he'd known on Fandom, was pushing into the room the moment the door was open, a similarly older version of Kurt following along a half a step behind. "Where goeth the rock, so shall follow the roll. Can I have your autograph?"
//Bobby Drake? Kurt Wagner? What the hell are you two doing here?//
London was just a little bit of a detour even for the X-Men, after all.
"Now, that's ironic," Bobby, this weirdly older Bobby, mused, "we were gonna ask you the same question. Think we can get some room service up here? Or are you in hiding? 'Cause if you are, you're doing a lousy job of it. In case you hadn't noticed, you're front page news." He deposited an armload of newspapers on the coffee table, all of them bearing such flattering headlines as, How Do They Kiss? "Feel free to save these for your scrapbook."
//Maybe I will.// Great. They'd followed him all the way to London to lecture him on the wild speculation of the ignorant masses. They were tabloids. This was the entertainment industry. Things like this were generally a given, here. //You know... You guys don't have any authority over me. I'm not in your school anymore.//
"Ja. You are no longer a student, Jon." Kurt was perched on the back of Jono's couch when Jono turned to face him. That couldn't possibly be good for the furniture. "But if you think that alleviates you from your responsibilities, then your time in school was truly a waste. Surely you understand your situation. Your exploitation." Ah, here it came, then. "You are a spectacle. A novelty. This is not your world. We are. We're here to give you the chance to realize that."
Yeah. They were here to lecture him. Jono's brow furrowed as Bobby made himself comfortable on the couch. The proper way. Not in a manner that involved getting feet all over the upholstery.
//Is he serious? How did you find me?//
"Between Cerebra and your P.R. blitz, you weren't tough to track down," Bobby said, looking every bit the smug douchebag that the shades hanging from the collar of his shirt suggested. Jono could feel his ire rising, just listening to the guy talk. "And you might think you're the flavor of the month now, but believe me, it won't last. And when it goes, it goes."
//Why don't the two of you just sod off? You come waltzing in here, saying what's best for me? Forget it! I've finally found a place where I belong!//
And Jono really didn't want that sense of belonging to be marred by some holier-than-thou X-Lecture as delivered by two alternate versions of old high-school friends, while he was standing there and struggling to keep his arse covered by the bedsheet he'd grabbed before going to open the naffin' door.
"Have you, mein freund?"
"Don't bother, Kurt. He's kidding himself. He doesn't even see it."
//I can see just fine, mates,// Jono said, his voice practically a psionic snarl, now. He didn't want to run around, risking his life to run with the X-Men, so automatically he was just some stupid kid, no matter what he did. For the first time in his life, he was edging into comfortable in his own reality. So what if people were talking? It wasn't like any of it was true, and Sugar was... Well, she was good to him. Didn't go mouthing off at him because of the burning smell. Didn't make underhanded comments about his screwed-up genetics, or offhanded remarks about how just the look of him made her want to vomit. Jono had all of one non-mutant friend in his entire goddamned reality, and she was offering him the only in he would ever see to the same circle of people that he would have been hanging around with now, if he hadn't blown his bloody face off. But she wasn't wearing an X on her belt. People were talking. Jono was just a stupid kid. //My eyes are wide open. Don't come around here spouting about responsibility--//
"Our entire lives revolve around our responsibilities," Kurt stressed, suddenly so much in Jono's face that he had to lean backwards to keep from accidentally kissing the man with a mouthful of fire. "The sooner you learn this, the better off you'll be. None of us choose our lot in life. But we are what we are and we deal with it."
//I am... dealing with it...//
Wonderful. Now he was speaking in the same broken psi-voice that he'd used years ago, back when his powers were still new. They were getting to him. Throwing him off.
Bobby standing up and kicking over his fucking coffee table didn't help.
"This is how you're dealing with it?! Man, you've got a lot to learn about self-acceptance!"
//Aaah, whatever!// Jono had heard just about his fill of it. He wasn't going to just stand around and take it while two goons with X scrawled across their belts trashed his flat and treated him like some sort of idiot child. //You don't know what it's like! I can't stand in a queue at the market without getting spit on! It doesn't matter how I wrap myself up! And I'm sick of it! I'm not Scott Summers, with his perfect face and his cool shades!//
And there, pink smoke, and the room suddenly smelled far more strongly of sulfur than Jono's own mutant funk had managed to make it. There was Nightcrawler, right there in his face again, and this time he looked angry.
"Hold it! Who do you think you're talking to? They were going to drive a stake through my heart in Winzeldorf! They called me a monster! I am not one to hide who I am. But I'm aware of the world we live in. What you are doing... is not the way to change things." Kurt turned, then, heading to join Bobby at the door. "Think about it, Jon. Think long and hard."
And then the door was closing behind them, leaving Jono standing there with his bedsheet slipping down behind him and his flat in a shambles. Goddamn it, they'd followed him all the way to London. Jono shook his head a little, turning and heading across the room to pick up the coffee table, ignoring the newspapers scattered across the floor, their accusing headlines peering up at him, staring him in the face.
Here a week, and he already needed to get the hell out. The money that he was saving on keeping a roof over his head, thanks to Sugar covering the cost of the flat, would be enough to get him to Fandom for a few days, at least. And a few days would hopefully be enough for him to get his thoughts in order, to sit and really start to figure out what in the world he was going to do with the rest of his life.
What if he didn't want to change the world? What if he just wanted to be left the hell alone?
[NFI and NFB for distance, ooc is fine, because... why not? Dialogue lifted pretty much verbatim (but with slightly fewer italics) from Uncanny X-Men issues 395 and 396. I figured if I was going to fling Jono at the island for a weekend of ponies, I might as well have some canon backing up his reasons for making the field trip!]
- London, Definitely Not Regency Era, Saturday Morning Fandom Time