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"Cold Reunions"
by Chip Caroon

Long Island. Bobby Drake was sitting at home, watching television. It was about eleven o'clock at night, and his father, William, had already gone to bed. Nothing was on except the news, and syndicated sitcom repeats. Bobby found himself watching CBNC.

Trish Tilby was the anchor on-air. Seeing her made Bobby think of Hank McCoy, also known as the Beast, one of the founding members of the Uncanny X-Men. Thinking of the Beast made Bobby think of calling the X-Mansion in Westchester. It had been a while since he had been in touch*. He was beginning to think it was time to go back.

*(Iceman took a leave of absence c. Uncanny #340, returned to help the X-Men in Operation: Zero Tolerance, and then returned to his dad in X-Men #71)

Bobby decided to watch the news for a little while before calling. He knew that someone would be up. At the first commercial break, after seeing that nothing big had happened, he cut the television off and picked up the cordless phone sitting on the table beside the sofa. He dialed the number for the mansion.

Scott and Jean had already gone to bed. Ororo and Kitty were out doing something, Hank didn't know what. Hank himself was sitting in the den, reading the paper. Basically, everyone was trying to take their minds off of the trying events of the past week.*

*(As seen in The X Remix)

Hank was looking over the classified ads when he saw a small political ad in the corner. It had a well-armed gorilla with the caption "GUNS FOR MONKEYS! GORILLA WARFARE!" Hank chuckled as he saw it. "Election year politics!" he exclaimed under his breath. "Always trying to bring in voters from every angle."

He had just gotten to the funny pages when the phone rang.

"Stars and garters!" he exclaimed, putting the paper down. "Who could be calling now? And just as I'm about to read Peanuts!"

Hank stood up, walked into the kitchen and picked up the phone.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Furball!" the person on the other end exclaimed.

"Bobby!" Hank cried, happy to hear his old teammate. "How are things?"

"Fine, fine. How are things at the mansion?" Bobby asked.

Hank was stunned. How could he tell his bestest little buddy about their mentor and teacher? "Well," he replied. "Charles is . . . he's . . ."

"Is the professor okay?"

"Not really, Bobby. He went insane and Lilandra came to take him to the Shi'ar homeworld for treatment," Hank said, fairly rapidly, leading Bobby to believe that it was a joke.

"You're kidding!"

"No! Didn't you get a call from Kitty and Storm?"

"I might have, but Dad and I have been on vacation. We didn't set the machine. Y'know, we wanted some space from the world." Bobby paused. "How's the team?"

"Most of the X-Men are gone. Besides my humble self, our fearless leader Scott and his gorgeous bride Jean, only Ororo and Kitty are still left."

"Only five of you? Where's Wolverine. He claims to be the loyal one. He always stays."

"He left for Canada. Claims he needed time to get his head straight. He's had a lot happen to him the past few weeks. Not only did Xavier shuffle his brain matter, he was stranded in time for a couple of weeks."

"Yikes! Sounds tough! But still - five?"

"Since when was five a bad number?" Hank asked, matter-of-factly.

Bobby chuckled. "Yeah, I guess it was just five of us in the beginning."

"And if I remember it correctly, that's the way we liked it!"

"Those were simpler times, bud." Bobby paused for a second. "Hey, tomorrow, I'm driving up. It looks like high-time for Iceman to return."

"Bobby, I'm not asking for help. We can find others."

"Beast, don't talk me out of it. My dad is feeling fine*. You guys need my help. I'm coming."

*(Iceman's father was injured in Uncanny X-Men #340)

"If you're sure. . . "

"Hank, I'm sure. See you tomorrow."

"See you tomorrow. Take care."

With that, both men hung the phone up.

Somewhere, in a dark room. It doesn't matter where this dark room is. All that matters is who is sitting inside of it.

The man likes to call himself the Dreammaster. He is dressed in a simple white tunic, a cross between Asian garments and Luke Skywalker's outfit from Star Wars.

The Dreammaster sits in the middle of the room, on the floor. His legs are crossed, in what children are told is "indian-style." His eyes are closed, yet his head is pointed up. If you couldn't see that his eyes were closed, you would think that he was studying the ceiling.

His mind was miles away, literally. He was dreaming, but his powers allowed him to enter the dreams of others.

He liked to do this and join the dreams of two or more people. Then, he would sit back and watch the chaos as the subconsciousness of the people would fight. They fought to see which was more powerful.

In the end, it didn't matter, because the Dreammaster would stop them before anything major happened. Sometimes, he came in and allowed his subconscious take over. Other times, he would unlink the people. Yet, sometimes he had the urge just to destroy all of the battling minds.

Those unfortunate people were lucky in a way. They didn't have to worry about a shattered psyche. They were dead.

Ororo Munroe and Kitty Pryde had gone to a late night movie to get their minds off of their "work" lives. But now, the movie was over, and their thoughts returned to the X-Men.

"'Ro, what are we gonna do?" Kitty asked as they walked out of the theater. "We can't run from our problems forever."

"I know, child," Ororo replied. "But we need the break after the recent tragedies."

Kitty was silent for a moment. "Ororo, please promise that you won't leave."

Ororo thought for a moment. "No, Kitty, I won't leave."

Back at the mansion, Scott and Jean stayed at the house by the lake on the grounds. They were lying in bed, thinking about where to go from here.

"Jean, we need to recruit more mutants. Five was fine back in the old days. But times have changed," Scott said.

"Scott, you're preaching to the choir," Jean replied.

"I know. Of course, we could always reunite the original five and create a new team again."

"It won't last more than two years. Remember X-Factor*? Wasn't long before we were back with the X-Men."

*(the original X-Men were the original members of X-Factor for the first 70 issues of the series.)

"I know." Scott paused. "We should at least contact the rest."

"Well, we can't do anything tonight, Slim," Jean said with a smile, using Scott's nickname from the early days.

"You're right," Scott replied. "Maybe tomorrow."

The next morning, when William Drake woke up, he saw his son standing over the stove, fixing breakfast.

"Good morning, son," he said.

"Hey, dad," Bobby said.

"Uh-oh! You don't sound too happy with that tone."

Bobby looked down and sighed. "You're right. I just got word that the X-Men need help. I have to go back."

Both were silent for a while. "When are you leaving?" William asked.

"After breakfast," Bobby responded.

"Well, let's get started."

Elsewhere, the Dreammaster was surfing through minds. He needed new prey. The dreams he had been invading recently have become boring. The people can't concentrate on the dreams long enough for Dreammaster to do any damage.

Suddenly, he found it. A new type of brainwave. Mutant dreams. It had possibilities.

Dreammaster immediately began to prey on this new group of hosts.

Scott and Jean came into the kitchen of the X-Mansion to find Hank and Kitty sitting at the table, surfing the Internet on a laptop. They saw used plates and mugs in the sink, and on the table. Hank was typing on the keyboard, while Kitty was staring at the screen intently. They looked up when Scott cleared his throat.

"Oh, good morning, Scott, Jean," Kitty said.

"Greetings and salubrious salutations on this wonderful morning!" Hank exclaimed.

"Well, now we know that Hank's in a good mood," Jean said, walking to the cabinet and pulling down the coffee can. She saw the empty coffeepot and began to fix more coffee.

"What's up, Hank?" Scott asked.

"Kitty and I are here researching the Muir Island database," Hank replied.

Scott raised his eyebrows. "Legacy Virus research?"

"Something like that," Hank replied, returning his attention to the computer screen.

Jean finished the coffee and turned around while she waited for the pot to fill. "So, Kitty, how was you're night out with Storm?" she asked.

"It was great," Kitty replied, smiling. "We went shopping and then saw a couple of movies."

"Sounds so normal," Scott said sarcastically.

"Yeah," Kitty said. "It does seem sometimes that we never get a break."

"Oh my stars and garters!" Hank exclaimed, repeating his own catch phrase.

"What is it?" Kitty asked, looking back at the computer screen.

"Remember the techno-organic virus that Stryfe infected Charles with?*"

*(during the X-Cutioner's Song crossover starting in Uncanny #294)

"Of course," Scott replied. "That was when Apocalypse's people kidnaped Jean and me.*"

*(also in Uncanny #294)

"Well, as you know, that all happened before Stryfe unleashed his Legacy Virus," Hank explained. "The virus infecting the professor was also created by Stryfe, I think. Moira MacTaggert and I worked around the clock to try to find a cure. In the end, Apocalypse cured him by using terminal indigestion.*"

*(in basic terms, as explained in X-Factor #86, part 10 of X-Cutioner's Song)

"What does this have to do with the Legacy Virus?" Kitty asked.

"Moira has come up with some new information on the disease. Part of its genetic makeup. I recognize it. It was part of Xavier's technovirus!"

"Wait a minute!" Scott exclaimed. "Was that technovirus similar to the one that Cable has?"

Hank leaned back and thought for a moment. "I don't know for sure, oh fearless leader, but I know what you're getting at. If Cable has a similar virus, then he might have a cure or the curse of the Legacy Virus."

All four people in the room were silent. Jean turned around when the coffeepot was full and pour herself a cup of coffee. Scott came over, and she poured a cup for him as well. Finally, Hank logged off the Internet and closed the laptop.

"Where's Ororo?" Jean asked, breaking the silence.

"She's out back, taking a walk," Kitty replied. "You know how she loves to be outside in the morning."

Suddenly, Hank remembered the phone conversation he had the night before. "Scott, Jean, our number of X-Men has come up to whopping total of six!"

"Excuse me?" Scott asked, a little confused.

"Bobby called last night," Hank explained. "He said he's driving up this morning."

"How's his dad?" Jean asked.

"Doing good. He says they've been on a trip."

"So, he's ready to come back?" Scott inquired.


Jean turned to Scott. "It's looks like Warren's the only original missing."

Ten o'clock that morning, the X-Men heard the doorbell ring. Hank was the first one to the door. He opened it and saw the frostiest X-Man ever.

"Bobby!" he exclaimed, grabbing his teammate's hand. "Good to see you, bud!"

"Good to see you too, Beast!" Bobby said. "Scott and Jean around?"

"We're right here," Scott said, coming up with Jean behind Hank.

"Hey!" Bobby said, shaking Scott's hand, and giving Jean a hug.

"Come on in," Hank said, motioning Bobby in. "I'll take your belongings to your room."

"It's the same one right?"

"Of course!" Hank replied. "Plus ce change, plus ce meme chose!" he shouted as he ascended the stairs.

"The more things change . . . " Bobby translated.

"The more they stay the same," Jean finished. "Same thing Charles told me when we all came back to the mansion* after the Shadow King's attack on Muir island.**"

*(X-Men #1)

**(Uncanny #279-280, X-Factor #69-70)

"Speaking of the professor, what exactly happened?" Bobby asked.

Scott sighed. "We better go to the den. It's a long story."

Bobby thought back to the time he rescued Cecilia Reyes during Operation: Zero Tolerance.* She asked if everything was a long story with the X-Men. "Since when has anything not been a long story with us?" he asked.

*(X-Men #66)

"True," Scott said. "True," he repeated as the three X-Men walked into the den.

That night, the Dreammaster continued his assault on mutant subconsciousness. He made his rounds through the minds of sleeping mutants. He saw the dreams of the solo mutants. Cable, X-Man, Gambit, Rogue, Wolverine, Maverick. He saw the dreams of the mutants on other teams. Scarlet Witch of the Avengers, Quicksilver and Magneto in Genosha. He saw the dreams of the different mutant teams. Generation X, X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur.

Finally, he hit gold. He found himself in the sleeping minds of the X-Men. The weather controlling self-proclaimed goddess. The intangible girl. The blue-furred beast. The man of ice. The telekinetic. The man with red optic blasts from his eyes.

Ooooh. This was gonna be good! Let chaos begin.

WRITER'S NOTE: Who says the biology doesn't do you any good in the real world?

While writing this, I had to look at some biology notes for information on viruses, just to make sure I was correct. In fact, while sitting in biology class one day, I came up with a possible premise for a cool X-Men story.

Every one who writes the X-Men needs to know biology. Mutant stories tend to deal a lot with genetics. I wonder why? ;)

This story was fun to write. I got to stick in some of the Beast's famous vocabulary. I actually had to look up some of his dialog before I wrote it. And for some reason, the phrase "Oh my stars and garters!" seems a lot more funny when you're the one writing it.

Sadly, this is the final issue of the series, at least for now. I had planned to go on, but Project: Marvel Remix fell through. I am, however, co-writing X-Men for DC/Marvel: The Merging. The next issue was going to be part one of two dealing with the Dreammaster. Then, in what was supposed to be Uncanny #376, the Legacy Virus and Apocalypse were going to return in a major crossover with X-Men, Wolverine, X-Factor, X-Men Unlimited, and others. However, that fell through as well. But, I might be writing that, starting in the next issue. E-Mail me if you want to help, and tell me which series you want. You can have Wolverine, X-Factor, X-Force, or any other X-book (except Uncanny X-Men). It would only be temporary, possibly for only two or three issues, but could be for as many as five issues. There will be no real deadlines, but you would have to get each issue in on a timely schedule.

Well, I'll be having fun at DC/Marvel: The Merging. Please come over and join us!

Chip Caroon