Nesting Instinct
by backfromspace

Bobby wasn't cold, and oh god did Pyro hate him for it. Bobby was protecting him, and if anything that made Pyro hate him more.

They had fled the tidal wave which hit New York, scrambling madly up flights of stairs before judging themselves above any concievable water level. They kept climbing anyway.

Eventually Pyro couldn't stand the cold anymore, it seeped in through his traitor skin, clawing down veins and in towards his heart. He could feel it getting harder to breathe, harder to keep moving. His arms felt like they were on fire, every breath stabbed down into his throat, cutting into him from the inside.

So they stopped, somewhere above the twentieth floor, maybe above the thirtieth, or the fortieth. They were lucky; the building they'd chosen by complete chance was mostly the homes and weekend condominiums of very wealthy people. Any other building and they would have been looking into desk drawers for half-eaten sandwiches.

Pyro shivered as Bobby rubbed feeling back into his hands and feet, wrapping him in several layers of flannel sheets and blankets. Bobby didn't need any of it, and his t-shirt and jeans taunted Pyro with constant reminders of his own inability to cope with the cold. Another reason to hate him, which Pyro added to the mental list.

They were sensible about it and stuck as much as they could to interior rooms, avoiding windows and especially balconies; even though Bobby spent hours cramming towels, mattresses, even dishrags and summer clothes up against the windows, bracing them in place with furniture and framed wall art, the cold still seeped in around the corners. It was an absurdly large apartment and there were many others in the building, so while Pyro struggled with the stove to heat both himself and some kind of dinner, Bobby ransacked every room in easy reach for sheets and blankets. They slept in a nest of cloth, Bobby in his underwear and wrapped in a single blanket, St. John buried and coccooned inside blankets three or four feet deep. He began to wonder if he'd ever be warm again.

Then he looked over at Bobby, sleeping as peaceably as he had before St. John had become Pyro, before he'd left Xavier's school. Once, he'd obsessed over that face. Now all he saw was the vague reminder of years of unrequited love. And he was jealous, on top of that. Bobby's ability was perfect for this situation. And Bobby actually liked the cold.

The next morning Pyro spent hours counting floors on nearby skyscrapers, trying to figure out how high up they were. Somewhere between the sixtieth and sixty-fifth floor, he guessed. They were significantly above every other building nearby except the distant Chrysler Building or Empire State, invisible through the wind and snow. He could even see down towards the United Nations he'd once almost burned just to teach the humans a lesson. Bobby had stopped him, like always. Now it hardly mattered.

East Side. The broken city stretched out for a while to the West, where the Chrysler was. He was torn between wanting to see the city and desperately wanting to be on the other side, with the calming sight of the ocean. Even if it wasn't so calming any more, even if it was frozen solid like the ground (or was it still ocean?) so far below looked to be.

Eventually he couldn't stand to look at the storm any longer and dragged the mattress which had been covering the window back into place, jamming the desk back into place behind it. Bobby was dragging more mattresses in from the other condos, leaving bashed-in doors all down the hallway and the almost disappointing absence of alarms. All the electricity was gone; even the elevator stood half-open at the end of the hall. Pyro shuddered involuntarily at the thought of being trapped in there, waiting for a repair team which would now probably never come.

Bobby stacked the mattresses into the little bedroom he'd picked because of its solitary window. He packed the beds up thickly against that wall, alternating with more of the cloth. Then he dug a hole in their nest of clothes and built a fort with six or seven of the mattresses while Pyro looked on, nonplussed.

"It's a shelter," Bobby explained, shaping the nest into sloping walls against the mattresses.

"I can see that," Pyro replied softly. He couldn't bring himself to lift his voice, the very air seemed to suck the life out of him.

Bobby chuckled and rolled into the fort, dragging in a heap of neatly folded blankets he'd unearthed somewhere upstairs. He unrolled them and padded the floor with them, tucking several up under the roof to insulate the walls. He even spread a couple out on top of and under the top mattress, then heaped still more cloth on top, spreading it out like he was laying them out to dry.

Pyro quietly climbed in after his old friend and curled into the corner farthest from the entrance, rubbing the blankets with his legs to try and heat them up. He'd been wearing the same clothes for three days, loathe to remove them even to change in this terrible cold, and they were beginning to feel thin, dirty; he promised himself he'd change as soon as Bobby's ridiculous fort heated up.

"Dude, you've got to see this," Bobby yelled through the entrance. "The clouds have lifted a little and there's an oil tanker cruising towards Central Park."

He couldn't bring himself to care.

Bobby tunneled in carefully with some food in thermoses. He'd made some kind of soup which Pyro drank gratefully, heedless of the taste. He was surprised how hungry he'd gotten, and mentally cursed the cold yet again. And Bobby... well, he was most definitely going out of his way to keep Pyro comfortable, or at least as comfortable as reasonably possible. He didn't quite manage to muster the enthusiasm necessary to hate Bobby for that, so he settled for being grateful for his presence.

A wierd feeling indeed, seeing as he'd been trying exceptionally hard to kill Bobby not two weeks before.

Bobby pulled out his cellphone and tried it, then gave up and used the silly official X-Men walky talky thing Pyro had always rolled his eyes at. Storm said something which Pyro failed miserably to comprehend and Bobby jabbered back. For the first time in days, Pyro found himself drifting off to sleep.

They spent days in the Trump Tower, slowly depleting the canned soup in the condos. Bobby hadn't yet gotten to the point of needing to venture up or downstairs to find them food, but every time he left the fort to cook it took a little longer. Pyro didn't leave if he could help it, occasionally making the short trek to the bathroom by the kitchen (he didn't trust the bathroom attached to the room; it was against the outside wall). He didn't go near any of the windows. He could feel his world contracting, pulling in, and he wondered if he would be able to cope if the Tower's plumbing failed, which it eventually would. Probably use a chamber pot and the garbage chute in the laundry room, he decided. It was his biggest thought in at least two days.

Pyro could feel himself wasting away in that oppressive, ever-present cold.

And then one night, as he was reluctantly removing his shirt to change it for a fresh one, Bobby noticed.

"John, man, your skin," he said. Pyro looked at his arms dispassionately, at the goosebumps which stuck up almost painfully, at the red flush of blood struggling to warm them. "That's not healthy."

Pyro shrugged in response, wincing as the shirt rubbed against the goosebumps.

The next thing he knew, Bobby was gently but firmly pushing him back against the blankets on the floor, rubbing warmth back into numb fingers. Pyro winced as feeling began to return, painful burning sensations replacing the omnipresent cold. And Bobby moved on, insistantly teasing the goosebumps away all up one arm and down the other.

At some point, Bobby decided that it was Pyro's clothes. "They're too moist," he explained. "Your body heat's escaping through your sweat and then even more when your clothes get damp."

So Pyro took off his clothes and let Bobby rub the feeling back into him, let Bobby wrap them in blankets, let Bobby share his body heat. For the first time since they'd fled the wave, he felt warm.

For the first time since he'd left Xavier's, he felt complete.

So he didn't tell Bobby when the helicopters came. If the death of the city could force him into this, then it could at least buy him a few more days before he had to go back to hating the only man he'd ever really loved.


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