Disclaimer: This story is fictional, and says nothing about the orientations of any member of the X-Men, or any other character related to Marvel, any celebrity or otherwise. If you are under 18 or 21, or live in a country where it's illegal to read something like this, leave, though I seriously doubt you will. If you don't like the idea of two guys in a relationship with each other, or having sex with each other, what are you doing here in the first place?

X-Men and all related characters, Copyright Marvel Comics, Created by Stan Lee

Mutant High

Chapter 6

Bobby watched in awe at the sight of Kurt and Ryo in battle together. The flashing blades moved almost faster than he could see, and he briefly wondered how Kurt or Ryo managed to keep up their attacks and defences.

He idly rubbed his bruises as his mind wandered from the match. When he had be released from the sick bay, he had overheard Shiro, Leyu, Noriko and another Japanese student, Hisako, talking about Ryo.

"I'm telling you that the whole Ryo/Julian situation sounds an awful lot like the kitsune trickster stories," Noriko had said. The four students were walking towards the gym for the match and had not noticed Bobby behind them. "The kitsune protected his human friend by framing the enemy for attempted rape in much the same way."

"We all know the story," Shiro said. "But I still don't believe it was a kitsune. They probably don't even exist."

Hisako had frowned. "I think they do. After all, Kitty has Lockheed and he's a dragon. Why can't the kitsune exist?"

Leyu shrugged. "Well, we can't prove it even then. People with kitsune protectors aren't supposed to tell anyone, so if we ask Ryo, he would have to say no anyway."

Bobby had cleared his throat and the four Japanese students turned towards him.

"Hey, look who's out and well again," Leyu laughed. "Do you need us to carry you to the gym?"

"I'm fine," Bobby grinned. "I'm getting used to being the one always getting beaten up."

A "bamf" sound shocked Bobby out of his reverie. He was suddenly aware of the crowd clapping and cheering. Bobby nudged Jamie and asked what happened.

"You missed it? Ryo switched his sword from his right to left hands and thrusted. He would've won if Kurt hadn't teleported."

"They should've made it a no-powers match," Bobby said. "Ryo deserved to win that."

Jamie shook his head. "Ryo wouldn't have stood a chance without his powers. He's been copying Kurt's sword skills the more they fought, that's why his style changed. You did know that that's one of his eyes' powers, right?"

Bobby shook his head. "I thought it was just the 360 degree vision."

Snorting with mild derision, Jamie said, "I thought he was your squad mate."

Bobby chose not to answer Jamie. He ignored the slight pang of jealousy that Ryo had apparently shared more about his powers to Jamie. Jamie noticed the look on Bobby's face and shook his head, sighing. "Did you ever ask him about his powers?"

Bobby glanced at Jamie for a moment, then lowered his head. "No."

"Did you check the school's database then?" Jamie asked, turning back to the increasingly frenzied match below. Kurt was teleporting wildly trying to find an opening in Ryo's movements, but Ryo was anticipating Kurt's every move. It's an epic battle between speed and foresight, Jamie mused to himself. The winner is going to be the one that doesn't tire first. They were too matched in skill.

Both combatants appeared to realise it too, and on mutual agreement, they declared the match a draw. With a flamboyant bow, Kurt challenged Ryo to another match on a later date. The latter winked and bowed in the formal Japanese style.

Ryo made his way to his friends from his hometown sitting just a few rows in front of Bobby, Jamie and the Japanese students. Bobby couldn't help but notice how Ryo's tight black outfit clung to his body, how the sweat appeared to make what flesh was exposed glow slightly. Ryo was taking his shirt off as he walked, wiping himself with a gym towel. Sexy, Bobby thought. Ryo was slender, but muscular and compact, his muscles chiseled and firm. Even the way he walked seemed graceful, almost like he was floating instead of walking...

"Damn, he's hot, isn't he?" Jubilee whispered in Bobby's ear. He started for a moment, then realised from Jubilee's mischievous grin that she had caught him staring.

"I half wish he wouldn't do that in public," Bobby finally said. "It's just too freaking distracting."

Jubilee slapped his back and laughed. "I hear ya, man!"

Bobby realised suddenly that Jamie wasn't sitting next to him anymore. The other boy was heading towards Ryo, offering his congratulations on Ryo matching Kurt, one of the best swordsmen in the school. Ryo was smiling that sexy smile of his, one that deepened into a grin when Jamie took hold of the gym towel and wiped some sweat away from Ryo's cheek. Bobby's insides tightened and he looked away, unable to bring himself to watch the scene before him.

"Am I so horrible to look at?" Ryo asked, moving so softly that Bobby barely noticed him there. He had a sly smile on his face, and his green eyes seemed to pierce Bobby's thoughts. Jamie stood slightly behind him, an unreadable expression as he faced Bobby.

"N-no," Bobby said. "I mean yes... I mean, I don't go for that sort of thing." He felt his face flushing at the lie. "Isn't it hot here? I mean, I'm the human popsicle so yeah, I'd feel hot more easily. Does anyone find it hot?"

"You're babbling again, Bobby," Jubilee said. Bobby growled internally and imagined himself strangling Jubilee.

Ryo appeared to take Bobby's lie at face value however, and started talking to Jamie. Bobby noticed Ryo glancing his way several times, as if telling him to make a move, his green eyes piercing into Bobby's deepest thoughts. With a silent curse at himself, Bobby looked away from Ryo and left the gym.

Bobby sighed as he glanced into the common room. Ryo, David, Noriko and Sam were playing an Xbox game down there because of the large screen TV and surround sound. David and Sam were seated on the armchairs on either side of the main lounge couch where Ryo sat. Noriko was sitting Japanese-style in front of the couch, her clunky gauntlets dwarfing the Xbox controller. Jamie was lying on the couch, his head on Ryo's lap as he read a book. Other students stood around watching the action.

As if on cue, the game reached a new level, and while it loaded, Ryo tenderly brushed Jamie's hair with his fingers. Jamie smiled and leaned up, giving Ryo a peck on the cheek. Ryo returned the light kiss, then turned his attention back to the game when the level was done loading.

Bobby sighed again. The situation between Ryo and Jamie had been going on for weeks. Bobby berated himself every time he saw them together. He should have made the first move! And now Ryo was with Jamie and not with him. His discomfort was obvious to Jubilee, especially when he started messing up on the squad. Ryo seemed oblivious, which was a good thing. Bobby couldn't imagine making more of a fool of himself in front of Ryo. With a third and final sigh, Bobby turned to leave the common room.

Jamie put down his book and noticed Bobby walking out. He told Ryo he was going to get something to drink, and quickly followed after Bobby. "Hey man, wait up."

"What do you want, Jamie?" Bobby asked.

"Just to talk," Jamie said, putting his arm around Bobby's shoulder and steering him to one of the many small kitchens made for students who wanted snacks. "You've been avoiding Ryo and myself."

"I'm surprised you noticed," Bobby said. "You two seem to only have eyes for each other."

"Someone's jealous," Jamie teased. Then he noticed Bobby's frown. "Wait, you're really jealous. I didn't realise..."

Bobby cut him off. "It doesn't matter, he's with you now."

"That doesn't mean you can't try being friendly with him again, you know," Jamie said. They arrived at the kitchen. Jamie grabbed a few trays and plastic cups. "I'm not exactly the jealous type," he added with a grin, then turned serious again. "You're hurting him, you know? He thinks you don't want to be friends with him."

"What do you expect me to do, start hanging around your boyfriend?" Bobby asked caustically. "And then start blaming me for trying to steal him away or something?"

Jamie smiled as he poured apple juice into the cups and loaded them onto four trays. "I know you won't do something like that. And if Ryo chooses you in the end, then there's not much I can do about it, can I? It's his choice. It not like he even knows you like him."

"You're almost too good to be true," Bobby said, uncertainty in his voice. "You'd trust your boyfriend around someone you know has a crush on him?"

"I trust you," Jamie said, "and I trust him to make the right choice for himself." Jamie clapped his hands a few times and created three dupes of himself. They each grabbed one tray and began walking back to the lounge, leaving Bobby to his thoughts.

The paper was smudged, worn away by friction and streaked with rubber stains. Ryo just stared at it, unable to do anything. He visually scanned the class with his power. Everyone was almost done with their sketches. Piotr, the Russian hulk sitting two seats behind Ryo, had a fantastic sketch of Ryo doing his morning martial arts routine. Ryo shook his head and contemplated the irony: Piotr was large, bulky and clumsy while Ryo was slender, agile and graceful. Yet, when it came to drawing, Piotr was the agile and graceful one. And Ryo was... he looked down at his wrecked paper. If this drawing was his physical grace and size, he'd make Piotr look like a ballerina.

Everyone seemed to be pretty engrossed with their work, with varying degrees of skill. Thank goodness I'm not getting graded in this class, Ryo thought. He twirled the pencil in his hands, spinning it around each finger quickly, making it almost seem like the pencil was floating and rotating like a windmill, and his fingers were passing through it. He noticed Piotr get up and walk towards Kurt—Mr Wagner, rather, or Nightcrawler, since they were in class now—with his sketch in hand. He handed it up, then walked back to his seat. He glanced at Ryo's sketch as he passed, then paused. "Having problems with your drawing?"

Ryo put his pencil on the table. "I'm no artist. I just don't get the whole art thing."

"Oh?" Piotr said. He walked back to his desk and grabbed his chair. Plopping it in the aisle next to Ryo's table, he sat and picked up Ryo's pencil and began to doodle. "What does art mean to you exactly?" His voice was a gentle baritone with traces of his Russian accent still evident.

"I don't know, really," Ryo said. He leaned back in his chair and watched as the picture on his paper began to develop. "I guess it's good drawing or a way to convey something you've imagined."

Piotr continued to draw. "Art is communication, is it not?"

"I guess," Ryo said, uncertain where Piotr was going with the conversation. The pencil lines on the paper were rapidly forming into a head.

"So what do you want to communicate?" Piotr asked, now adding the eyes. "What is it that makes you who you are?" He looked Ryo in the eyes for a moment, then back to sketching on the paper.

"The problem is, I don't communicate this way," Ryo said. "I'm here to learn to draw because of the power I got from my... friend. Before he died."

Piotr arched an eyebrow. "And maybe that's why you can't draw or access that power. You still think of it as your friend's. Maybe you have to think of it as yours now."

Ryo shrugged. "I still can't draw."

Piotr began adding lines for hair. "Maybe you don't have to. Your friend expressed things through drawing. He communicated things through paint and colours and art materials. How would you express a message on a paper? Something full of meaning, no matter the complexity?"

Scrunching his face a little, Ryo said, "Symbols, I guess. They're fast, carry a meaning quickly and you can express yourself with them, communicate information and so on."

"Then access your illusionary power with a symbol," Piotr said simply. He folded the paper and tore off a small piece of it for Ryo without damaging his sketch. "Here, try expressing the illusion of..." he glanced around the room and spotted Ben—codenamed Match—a student whose head was constantly surrounded by flame. "Of fire," he finished. Then he continued to sketch.

Fire, Ryo thought. He grabbed a brush from the art supplies on his desk and opened a bottle of black ink. He dipped into the bottle and let the excess ink drip back in. He took a deep breath, then quickly painted a symbol onto the small piece of paper.

"Nice," Piotr said, looking at the drawing. "East Asian calligraphy?"

Ryo smiled shyly and nodded. "It's the Chinese and Japanese character for fire. It's all I could think of." The calligraphy seemed different somehow, and Ryo focused more power to his eyes. The ink seemed to sparkle and glow. Ryo closed his eyes and imagined a ball of fire floating above the paper, then opened his eyes and looked at his drawing again. His eyes could see the energy swirling around in the ink, though the ink itself was stationary. Focusing on that energy, he carefully, mentally, pulled it up from the ink. The sparkles of energy burst into illusionary flames as it left the ink, floating up in front of Ryo's face.

"You did it," Piotr said, a wide grin on his face.

"Yeah, I did," Ryo said, still awed at the floating fire in front of him. "Thank you, Piotr."

"It is not a problem," Piotr said, getting up. He carefully slid the sketch under the illusion and made his way back to his table. Ryo touched the fire and re-absorbed his energy, then glanced down at the drawing. It was a life-like sketch of his face, and below it was sketched a large rose, with the words "I knew you could do it" written in small letters down the stem, followed by Piotr's signature.

to be continued

Sorry for the long wait, I was attacked recently by a vicious creature known scientifically as Upheavalis Majora (or Major Upheaval in normal speech). Things have been different and difficult for the past few weeks, but are slowly seeming to resolve at last. Well, not including the fact that I'm moving house again next week... I hate this moving shit. I know, this chapter is a little short, but I like it where it is right now. I hope to get more into the groove of writing again and with better and longer chapters. As always, I can be reached at leohyuuga@gmail.com