Disclaimer: None of the named characters are mine. They all belong to Marvel except for Peptide, who belongs to my sister Diamonde. Marvel did not give me permission to use said characters, but Dia's fine with it, so that's all right. I'm not making any money off any of them, anyway. Feedback is always welcomed, and indeed fallen upon with cries of joy. :)
"No." The denial was firm. The denial was very firm. This, it said, is never, ever, going to happen. Not even if God comes down into this mall and commands it. Not even if He says please.
"Just try it on." Reasonable. Soothing. Go on, it's not that bad, you know it isn't... why not just go ahead and give in? It's such a little thing.
"Not in this lifetime." Or any other. I mean it. Absolutely no way whatsoever. It IS a little thing, it's an EXTREMELY TINY thing, and that's why I'm not putting it on. So there.
"You don't have to come out." What are you, chicken? Cluck cluck cluck! I'D wear it, you know I would, but it's not my colour. Go on, put it on, you wuss.
"Oh, gimme that!" Fine, go ahead, bully me. But nobody's EVER going to see it, I'm telling you now. On and off, and then I want to go home.
"So? How does it look?"
I didn't know I looked like THAT from the back... or the front.
She's got a point. Maybe.
"Cecilia, are you dead in there or something?"
"See? Ah told you it'd look good. Come out and let us see!" Rogue was practically hopping up and down in her excitement. Cecilia almost never came shopping with them, and Rogue was determined to take the unusual opportunity and run with it. To the horizon, if possible.
"It's just me out here now." Rogue giggled. "Storm's off tryin' ta convince Marrow that she can't wear a flourescent green mesh bathing suit at the mansion. Ya can see everything through it."
"Let her buy it. I need the company." Cecilia sidled out of the cubicle, her arms folded across her chest. "I feel like I'm wearing a tissue. A small tissue."
"You look GREAT!" Rogue beamed. "Turn around and lemme see the back!"
"What back?" Cecilia complained, turning around. "My underwear shows less of my butt than this!"
"Really? Remind me Ah need to take you past lingerie before we leave, then." Rogue looked her over, and nodded approvingly. "You have got to get this one, Cece. Every guy on the team is gonna be panting, I promise."
"Well..." Cecilia looked at herself in the full-length mirror. The delicate white lace overlaying thin white fabric showed up well against her dark skin, but... "I don't usually wear bikinis. Especially not ones this small. And this fabric is going to go completely transparent when it's wet."
"That's the idea." Rogue grinned. "That's why the lace is there."
"But..." Cecilia blushed. Her colouring did not betray her, but she did. "Well... You might not have noticed this, but I'm not as busty as the standard X-Woman..."
"Ah know, and that's why it works. Ah could NOT wear that thing." Rogue looked at herself in the mirror. "Even if they made it in my size, which they don't, it'd sit all wrong. You've got a great bod, Cece, and this makes the most of it." She smiled. "Ah'll even get it for ya."
Cecilia gave her a resigned look. "You're going to buy it whether I say yes or not, aren't you?"
"You betcha." Rogue grinned at her. "Friends don't let friends wear frumpy one-pieces."
"Fine." Cecilia smiled suddenly. "If you insist. But I'm doing this under protest."
"Sure ya are," Rogue chuckled. "Now hustle back in there and get dressed so we can buy it."
"No!" Marrow grabbed the edge of the doorway and hung on.
"Yes." Cecilia reached past the young Morlock and loosened her grip by the simple expident of slamming the door. Marrow got her fingers out of the way just in time. "You have to. Now up on that table or else."
"Not a chance, upworlder! Don't even think about it!"
"I mean it, Marrow. You're getting one. Storm had one, Rogue had one, Shadowcat had one, and now it's your turn. Unless you're too scared, of course." She folded her arms.
"I am not scared!!"
"Are you going to get up on the table?"
Cecilia glared. "Listen up, you little yoghurt-ad reject. I don't care if you're a big tough Morlock with a chip on your shoulder. I don't care HOW many people you claim to have killed. You're just as much at risk as anyone else and either you go willingly or I'll get McCoy to come in and hold you down. Well?"
For the first time, Marrow looked uncertain. "You wouldn't."
"Try me." Cecilia's voice was icy.
"HE wouldn't," Marrow said, looking a little relieved.
"Wolverine would, though." Cecilia grinned nastily, and Marrow gulped. "Now onto the table, or else."
"Whatever." Marrow sighed. "But only 'cause the hairy little pervert really WOULD do it."
"Good." Cecilia resisted a smug grin. That wouldn't help at all. "Now, this really is for your own good. Have you ever had a Pap smear before?"
Hank took off his glasses and stared at Cecilia, who was looking decidedly smug. "You did?"
He stood up, and swept a deep bow, capturing her hand and kissing it soundly. "Lady, I am amazed. Astonished. Absolutely astounded. And not a little impressed, either." He grinned. "You REALLY made Marrow have a Pap smear?"
Cecilia chuckled. "I see you haven't lost your alliterative skill in your surprise. And yes, for the last time, I did."
"You are a goddess among doctors." Hank gave her an admiring look. "However did you do it?"
"You actually want to know how it's done? Okay, well, you take the little spatula and-"
"No! Uhm, I meant, how did you get Marrow to acquiesce to the procedure?" He blushed, almost indiscernibly under the fur.
"Oh, that. I told her that if she didn't do what she was told I'd have you come in and hold her down." She grinned smugly.
"I know. After that I told her that if you didn't, I'd get Wolverine to do it."
"He wouldn't...oh... he would, wouldn't he?" Hank sighed ruefully. "I take it threats worked?"
"You have to talk a language they understand. Don't you, Peptide?" Cecilia held out a Tinee-Treat. Peptide, Hank's spoiled and overweight lab-rat, sat up and begged. It was his best trick, and, judging by his decided portliness, one that worked very well on his adoring master. It worked on Cecilia too, but for a different reason. Hank rewarded the begging trick because it was cute. Cecilia rewarded it because it was one of several signs that Peptide wasn't as dumb as he let on when strangers were around.
They were, once again, working late on their Legacy research, and once again, alternating work with gossip. And, of course, playing with Peptide, who loved the attention. Hank picked him up, stroking between the little ears with one big finger. "You like your Auntie Cecilia, don't you, Peptide? She brings you your favourite! Tinee-Treats, yes!" He held the brown-and-white rat out to Cecilia. "Say thank you, Peptide. Squeak!"
Peptide sat up and squeaked, then looked up expectantly. Hank immediately gave him another Tinee-Treat. Hank firmly believed that Peptide obeyed his commands because he was the smartest rat in the world. Cecilia knew it was because Peptide knew that if he did what he was told, he got food, and therefore agreed with Hank.
"I HAVE to bring them." She poked Peptide's very round little stomach. "They're rat nutrition. All YOU ever feed him is pizza and microwave noodles."
"So? That's what I eat!" Hank looked rather offended.
"Why do you think I bring so much food when I come down here? I haven't seen you turning anything down."
"That's true... Auntie Cecilia brings nice dinners for both of us, doesn't she?" The rat squeaked again, and climbed onto Cecilia's shoulder. "See? He does like you. He won't do that for just anyone." Hank shot her a mischivious little-boy look, grinning. "We don't know how we'd ever get on without you."
"Woo-hoo." Cecilia sighed, and turned back to her microscope. "Peptide, if you start chewing on my hair again I'll make you into a furry little purse."
"Come on, admit it."
"Cece, you ain't foolin' no-one. Admit it, or I'll tickle it outta ya."
"I don't want to." Cecilia folded her arms and plotted her escape. Psylocke, Storm, and Rogue had her surrounded, but she could get past them if she tried. A quick dash across the room, out the open window, a mere two story plummet to the ground, and away.
"It isn't as if we don't know." Betsy's voice was reasonable.
"Then I don't have to say anything."
"Why do you continue to deny it? It is nothing to be ashamed of." Ororo smiled. "I think it is rather sweet."
"I don't do sweet. Forget it." Cecilia slouched further down in her chair. She'd been ambushed on a simple stop to drop off Kurt's hay-fever prescription, and herded into a corner. "You're all delusional."
"Are not. You're just too chicken to admit it," Rogue insisted. "You do."
"Not gonna happen."
Storm folded her arms sternly. "Cecilia, if you do not admit it immediately I shall summon a wind to loft you above the roof and I shall leave you there until you talk."
"Okay! Okay! I do!" Damn her, Storm knew she was afraid of heights. "Kinda. Maybe. In a way."
"Kinda?" Rogue repeated sceptically.
"Maybe?" Storm raised an eyebrow.
"In WHAT way?" Betsy rested her hands on her hips.
"Okay, I'm attracted to him! Fine! Are you happy now?" Cecilia looked out of the window, her face burning. "What's it got to do with you, anyway?"
"Hank's our friend. We have to inspect you," Betsy's voice was calm and reasonable.
"Yeah, look what happened with the last one!" Rogue shook her head. "We figure you're safe, though, 'cause you took that oath. You know, the one about confidentiality."
Cecilia raised an eyebrow. "The hypocritical oath?"
Rogue shook her head. "Nah, that was HER. Hippocratic, good for Hank, hypocritical, not good for Hank. That's what Jean said."
Cecilia winced. "You've discussed this with her too? Have you polled EVERY X-Woman around? Does Marrow know yet?"
"We have not let her in on it yet." Storm smiled wickedly. "We considered it, but decided she could not be trusted not to spill it to Hank. Would you like us to involve her?"
"NO!! Are you insane?!"
"That's what we thought." Betsy grinned. "So... are your intentions honourable?"
"First, I have absolutely no 'intentions' towards McCoy. Given the choice between asking him out or asking Peptide, I'd take Peptide. He's cute, he's paper-trained, and if he squeaks too much I can just shove him in my purse and push tidbits under the flap. And second..." Cecilia sighed, slumping further into her chair. "The 'last one' is still quite current."
"Oh." There was a pause. The other women looked at each other, frowning. Rogue shook her head sadly. "Ya hadn't heard, huh?"
"No. You can't have any more Tinee-Treats, you're too fat for your exercise wheel already." Hank sighed, picking the rat up and cradling him in one hand. "What's wrong with me, Peptide?"
Peptide sniffed at Hank's chin, and gave him a puzzled look. Hank smiled sadly. "You can't figure it out either, huh? It must be a female thing. Too bad I don't have a girl rat to ask."
Peptide nibbled on his thumb, sniffing through the fur. Hank petted him. "At least you're always here for me, Peptide. I guess Bobby chooses better companions for me than I do." He watched the rat sniff around his huge hand. "I'm a fool, aren't I? I thought... I don't know what I thought. I just... wanted to have it. Just once."
"You will. Hell, maybe even I will." Hank turned to see Bobby standing in the doorway, his mobile face uncharacteristically serious. "Your trouble is that you're looking in the wrong place."
"Go away and let me feel sorry for myself in peace." Hank leaned back in his chair, sipping a highly uncharacteristic glass of scotch.
"You haven't been giving that to him, have you? I didn't buy him for you so you could destroy his liver." Bobby leaned over to offer Peptide a fragment of cheese. The chubby little rat grabbed it immediately and scoffed it down, then looked for more. "I brought you a sandwich. No cure for unrequited love, I know, but you've been down here all day."
"How do you know?" Hank, for once, was in no mood to be pleasant.
"Because I've been up there waiting for you to come up. I was lying in wait, and you wasted my whole afternoon."
"Next time I'll be sure to spring the ambush on my way to the bathroom. Now let me brood in private."
"What kind of friend would I be then?" Bobby sat down, feeding Peptide another tidbit. "I've been disappointed, cheated, and made a fool of by women more often than you've dragged yourself out of this lab. Trust me, no matter what you're feeling I've been there, so spill all over me already."
"I'm an idiot," Hank said gloomily.
"Hank, you're a genius. You make Reed Richards himself nervous."
"That doesn't mean I can't be an idiot. It just makes it more embarrassing."
"Okay, fair enough... why are you an idiot this time?"
"Because, my young friend, I am following in the path so many men have trod before me, and fallen for a woman I cannot have. Pedestrian, isn't it? Colossus falls in love with a dying alien healer, Charles with a woman who rules an empire a galaxy away, and me? I go after a perfectly accessible woman...with no interest in me as a man whatsoever." He grinned humourlessly and downed the rest of his drink.
Bobby reached for the bottle and poured him another one. "Keep talking. I'm sure anything this depressing has to be good for you."
"I doubt it, but I'll continue anyway. I, my dear Bobby, have the misfortune... no, not the misfortune, the sheer bad judgement to fall in love with a woman who is so devoted to her chosen work that I can never be more than a poor second... assuming that I am even in the running, which I apparently am not." Hank sipped his fresh drink and absently gave Peptide a scrap of bread from the ignored sandwich. "That hurt my pride, I will admit."
"Don't blame you at all." Bobby nodded, evincing utter fascination with every word that issued from his friend's mouth. It was actually rather nice to be on the listening side of the angst for a change.
Hank sloshed the amber liquid aimlessly around in his glass, watching it with a suddenly miserable look on his normally cheerful face. "I mean, I may be blue and furry and disproportionate and... and of a rather intimidating visage, but I'm not that unattractive, am I?" It might have been meant as a rhetorical question, but the desolate tone that voiced it cut straight to Bobby's tender heart.
"Of course not," he said immediately. "You're the envy of all your friends, believe me. I can name five women off the top of my head who think you're attractive, and I'm not even counting Jean."
"But since the list doesn't include the one I want, what's the point?" Hank stared into his glass. "I just... I feel old and foolish and very dreary. This is my fate, Bobby. A lab, a rat for company, and friends to stop by now and then to make sure I eat. It's not a bad life, and I'm sure once this wears off I'll be quite content with my lot, but..."
"But..." Hank set his glass down with a sigh, and returned to petting Peptide, who was by now looking rather anxious. "Do you ever think about what you wanted to do with your life? Before you became an X-Man?"
"Sometimes. Thinking about what it would have been like if I hadn't... what I might have done... but I wouldn't change my life, Hank. Even with all the crap that's happened," Bobby said positively. "Not for one minute."
"Neither would I." Hank nodded slowly. "I was referring not so much to what we might have done, but what we might have had. Love, and life, and a home, and..."
"Children." Hank smiled wryly. "Not that I can picture you settling down yet, but... I want them. Lots of them. I always have, and I don't think I'll ever have them now." He looked up, and the desolate look in his eyes hurt his friend in a way no battle-wound ever had. "And I have been sitting here grieving for something that only ever existed in my imagination. Isn't that strange?"
"No." With some effort, Bobby kept his voice from breaking. "Look, Hank... you'll get them, I know you will. You're too good a potential dad to waste, trust me, I know."
"You think so?"
"Yeah... and any scheming, conniving bitches who just come in here and milk you for all you're worth then leave you again just don't deserve you."
Hank sat up straight, deeply affronted, then paused. A puzzled look crept across his face. "Bobby?"
"Just for purposes of clarity, who are you talking about?"
"Who am... well, Trish, obviously. I heard she just dumped you again."
"She most certainly did not!" Hank looked positively insulted. "I politely ended the relationship with all the tact and dignity at my disposal. Whatever gave you the idea I'd been dumped?"
"Well... you ARE sitting down here brooding, drinking, and talking to Peptide about women. It seemed like an obvious conclusion," Bobby said defensively.
"I didn't mean her." Hank, reminded of his drink, drank it, and reminded of his brood, fell back into it.
"Ohhh... I get it. You've fallen for someone else, given Trish the flick, and now you're brooding over the new one?"
"Well... I wouldn't put it quite like that, but you have the gist." Still looking rather miffed, Hank put Peptide back in his cage and fluffed up the little blue nest of shed fur that the rat liked to sleep in.
"So who's the new one? Anyone I know?" Bobby was feeling better by the minute. A new prospect was good. It meant there was a chance she wasn't a manipulative bitch he'd have to impolitely scare off.
"Yes." Hank busied himself ostentatiously with Peptide's water bottle.
"Who?" Bobby grinned. "You know I'm just going to bug you until you tell me. Save us all the time and tell me now."
"Well..." Hank sighed. "Cecilia."
Bobby's jaw dropped. "Cecilia?"
"You've worked yourself into a totally depressive no-one-will-ever-love-me-or-have-my-babies-angst-fest over Cecilia?!"
"The picky one who doesn't approve of the X-Men but for some reason still hangs around?"
"The rude one who keeps coming down and feeding you?"
"The abrasive one who-"
"She isn't that bad," Hank said defensively. "She's a very honest, caring person when you get to know her."
Bobby stared at his friend, then took a swig from the bottle. "You really are an idiot, aren't you?"
"Ya said ya would."
"I've changed my mind. I can't go out in public wearing this!" Cecilia crossed her arms firmly. "Where'd my other suit go?"
Rogue looked smug. "This ain't in public, it's just the pool out the back, an' I hid it. You're wearing the bikini, or nothing at all."
"There's a difference?"
"There are a FEW bits of ya we can't see while you're wearin' the bikini... although goin' out naked might get Hank's attention." Rogue giggled. "Ah've changed my mind. Go naked."
"Not in this lifetime, sister." Cecilia sighed, clipping her hair back. "Okay, the bikini, but if I get completely and utterly humiliated I'm going to slap you on the back and share."
"You do that." Rogue agreed calmly. "Now git on out there and make a stir."
"Hmph." Deprived of any other option, Cecilia drew on her natural reserves of bravado. Wrapping the towel around herself would just look silly. Draping it over her shoulder would very likely hide the fact that she had a bikini-top on at all. Sighing, she swung the towel from one hand and strolled out onto the patio with as jaunty a stride as she could muster.
The first person to see her was, predictably, Remy. He grinned openly and appreciatively, eyes running up and down her body in a manner so exaggeratedly suggestive that she could no more take it seriously than she could take offense. "Very nice, chere. You should dress like dat more often."
"In your dreams, cajun," she snorted, but smiled at him. Scott saw her next, and nearly choked on his drink. Sitting beside him, Jean grinned, giving her a thumbs up. Cecilia grinned back, feeling better by the minute. She looked around for Hank. At least a look. The bikini HAD to be good for at least a good stare.
There he was... she shook her head, grinning... with his head buried in a journal, as usual. They'd finally dragged him out in the sun and all he was getting out of it was better reading light.
She sauntered over, plopping herself in the chair next to him and taking another journal from the pile beside him. "Anything good in here?"
"Only if you're interested in Dolly the sheep. Try the next one down," Hank directed, turning a page without looking up.
"I'll look at Dolly first. Didn't Moira say something about clones in her last memo?" Cecilia arranged herself a little ostentatiously, rather miffed that he hadn't even bothered to look up. What was the point of going around dressed like a harem girl if he wasn't going to look?
Bobby Drake, prankster, troublemaker, and the one person in the universe she could legitimately blame for everything that was wrong with her life, and who was sitting on Hank's other side, looked at her and promptly spilled his drink all over himself. He was too busy staring to notice. "Wow. Uuuhhh...nice swimsuit."
"Rogue picked it out," Cecilia said dismissively.
"Hank..." Bobby tapped on his shoulder. There was no response. Bobby rolled his eyes. "Hank. Hank. Hank. Hank. Hank. Hank..."
"What?" Hank asked, sounding a bit testy.
"Look at Cece." Bobby pointed in case - as was actually possible - Hank had forgotten where she was.
Hank obligingly looked over, and smiled. "She does look particularly fetching, doesn't she? I applaud Rogue's taste." He smiled at Cecilia, having proved that he'd been listening, and went back to his article.
Cecilia, completely unexpectedly, wanted to cry. There had been no interest in his eyes, only polite attention. He would have said the exact same thing to any of the other women, and would have meant just as much by it. She stared at the journal for the rest of the afternoon, but didn't see a single word.
Eyes on journal. Nice picture of a DNA strand. Look at the picture, take a deep breath, and...
Wanna look at the bikini again.
No we don't.
Yes we do. Cecilia looks... looks...
We're acting like an adolescent! We've seen bikinis before!
Not on HER we haven't.
It was worth the wait.
Hank sighed silently, turned another unread page, and allowed his own personal three L's to continue their discussion. He'd categorised them that way years ago, and had by now gotten to the point where he could actually listen to them arguing inside his head.
He really hoped Logic would win. Logic was being rational as always, but Libido had Body and Imagination backing it up. Laughter wasn't as much help as usual, since it was siding with Libido on the looking issue, mostly, Hank suspected darkly, because it liked laughing at him just as much as everything else.
But she looks hot! Libido complained.
We know that. That's why we aren't looking, Logic countered. If we look again, Body is going to completely lose control of itself.
Imagination is already loose, so what's the harm? Libido suggested hopefully. We can't sit here next to this Goddess of Utter Sexiness and not do anything about it.
Go ahead and try. But save me a front row seat. Laughter was already sniggering quietly.
Look, schmook. I want touch! Body demanded.
Well, you can't have it, Logic said firmly. She's not interested, and we aren't going to make a fool of ourselves.
Will we be able to touch her? We'll make a fool of ourselves if we can touch her. Even just a little bit. Body said eagerly.
Laughter giggled. Go ahead.
No. Logic was adamant. We're going to keep our big blue butt right here in this seat and we aren't even going to look at her again or Body is going to humiliate us.
Libido and Laughter eventually retreated, and Logic immediately settled in to a really good self-doubt session, which wasn't in its job description but which was so much fun that it got a bit in whenever it could. Hank sternly muffled a whimper and kept his eyes glued to the journal. Delectable as she looked sprawling on that chair with one leg straight and one tucked under her, and as many times as he knew that that scene - and outfit - would appear in his dreams from now on, he was not going to look.
He didn't, but he didn't get any reading done, either.
"No." Hank glared balefully at his pillow. "Absolutely not. You are not getting me to lie on you again and that's final. You keep putting... thoughts... into my head."
That was me, Libido said helpfully.
"Oh shut up." Hank scowled, easing himself out of bed and padding into his bathroom. The only good thing about this was that if he started now, at three in the morning, he could shower and be dry in time for early breakfast, which was better than late breakfast because all the fresh fruit and chocolate pop-tarts were still there. "You're just trying to get me into trouble, aren't you?"
No, I'm trying to get you into bed with Cecilia, Libido corrected. Failing that, we're going to dream about her.
Hank blushed all the way down to his toes. "No more of that either. Willpower, that's all it takes." He stepped into the shower, turning on the water. "I'm merely attracted to her. If I ignore it, it will go away."
Sure it will.
"It WILL. She is not attracted to me, therefore eventually I will lose interest as well."
Like Logan has lost interest in Jean? You're too uptight, Libido chided him. Let me out to play once in a while.
"Last time I did THAT I got involved with the treacherous Ms Tilby," Hank pointed out with a certain amount of justification. "No thank you. Go away and put Logic on."
No. I'm not done yet. It was a nice dream, wasn't it? Libido purred. In the lab? Wearing that little tiny bikini? And when she-
C'mon, you liked it.
"I was asleep, I didn't know any better!" Hank reached for his shampoo, firmly putting all thoughts of white lace and smooth, chocolatey skin out of his mind. Hm. Hardly any shampoo left. Have to buy more.
Maybe she'll share hers. There's room in here for two.
"I'm not listening... you aren't affecting me one little bit... " Hank hummed a casual little tune, hunting around for his conditioner.
Oh really, Libido said sceptically.
"Yes, really. Logic is in the driver's seat now. I'm g-going to have my shower and g-get started on the day, and ignore y-you."
Ah. That would be why you're taking a cold shower, hmm?
"It's v-very b-bracing!"
I did NOT just do that.
I am now, officially, a loser...
"Somebody shoot me now." Cecilia dragged herself out of bed, feet automatically carrying her towards the kitchen of her tiny apartment. "But give me coffee first. Need coffee." She turned on her small coffee maker and glared at it. "You stop bubbling so suggestively."
She sat down at the table, resting her head in her hands. "Coffee is good. Coffee means no sleep. No sleep means no dreams. No dreams means no dreams about Hank. Therefore, coffee is good." Pleased to have that cleared up, she stared at the coffee-maker some more. "Hurry up."
It wasn't the fact that he'd been IN her dream that she'd minded. There'd been an extremely entertaining one the other night in which he and Cookie Monster had switched bodies and had spent the entire dream chasing down Marrow, who'd somehow become merged with Elmo. That had been very entertaining. The memory had certainly made coping with Marrow easier.
No, it was the fact that he'd duelled Pierce Brosnan for her favours, and then... she blushed... helped himself to them. Not that she'd resisted. On the contrary, she'd... she blushed even more, and glared at the coffee-maker. "Hurry UP!"
It was getting right out of hand. And, she thought grumpily, the way he kept running around in those tight little speedos didn't help, either. Her imagination didn't need the help.
Cecilia had never been one to fall for eye candy. Eye candy with a genius level intellect, a great sense of humour, a passionate adoration of Twinkies, and the ability to make her heart pound with a mere smile was something else altogether. And then there was Peptide. You had to love a man who would stay in the lab for days without remembering to eat himself, but still feed his rat twice daily, precisely on time.
Love. Bad word. Let's not go near that one. "HURRY UP!"
"HE dumped HER?" Rogue beamed. "Really?"
"That's what HE said." Bobby grinned.
"That's great!" Rogue bounced down the hall. "Ya come all the way here just ta tell us that?"
Bobby rolled his eyes. "No... my mom sent me over with a care package. There was all this food left over from the church dinner and, well, let's just say she doesn't think heroes make very good chefs." He grinned, hefting the huge basket he was lugging along. "Take my advice and stash the apple-cake somewhere the others won't find it. It's to die for."
"Thanks for the tip, sugah." Rogue zipped into the kitchen, yanking open the door to the huge fridge. "Come and help me pack it all in."
"I figured you guys wouldn't mind food that's already part gone. Half cakes, two thirds of a lasagne... you know, the sort of thing you usually find in here." Bobby put the basket down and started unloading it into the fridge.
"So, what exactly did Hank say?" Rogue carefully shoved most of a pumpkin pie onto a shelf.
"Well..." Bobby narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. "Swear to silence? I need a female opinion here."
"Cross mah heart and hope to die."
"He said that he was the one who ended it with Trish." Bobby chuckled. "Which begged the question why, if he's the dumper instead of the dumpee, he was sitting in the lab drinking scotch and angsting to Peptide. Apparently he's Met Someone Else."
"Who? Who?" Rogue bounced all over, nearly derailing Bobby's train of thought altogether. "Tell!"
"I'll give you three guesses." He grinned, a mischievious expression settling on his face.
"Uhm... Jean." Rogue matched his grin with one of her own.
"Nope. Guess again."
"Oh god, no. Don't be cruel. He's a man of taste."
"Oh, in THAT case... Cecilia, right?"
"You got it." Bobby smiled fondly. "He was down there working himself into a fit of depression because he thinks she doesn't find him physically attractive, and thus can never fall in love with him and have his children."
"Have his WHAT?" Rogue squeaked.
"Hank wants kids. Doesn't think he's gonna get 'em, but he wants them. And he's really, seriously, falling for Cecilia, and he doesn't think he can have her EITHER, so he was getting himself all worked up about both of them. It's so... sweet, I guess. He's really crazy about her, you know."
"Awww... that is sweet." Rogue smiled. "Don't let on Ah told you this, but she's pretty nuts about *him*, too. You remember that bikini she was wearin' the other day?"
"What red-blooded guy could ever forget?"
"It was for Hank's benefit. Too bad he didn't pay any attention." Rogue sighed, shoving the last container into an already overpacked corner. "Y'mean they've both been wasting all this time angstin' over each other?"
"Pathetic, isn't it? I suddenly feel better about my own romantic track record." Bobby stood up, picking up the now-empty basket. "So now all we have to do is get them together, and how hard can that be? I mean, they already went on one date..." He closed the large door. And gulped. "Uh... hi?"
Rogue went bright pink. "What are you doing here!?"
"Eavesdropping. Could you repeat that part-"
"Ah mean, what are you doing HERE?!"
"Oh." Cecilia looked down at the coffee mug in her hand. "I threw my coffee machine out of the window, so I came here to use yours." She put the cup down carefully, grabbed Bobby by the collar, and slammed him up against the fridge. "Tell. All. Now."
"Remy, you are being most untrustingly suspicious. I assure you, I will do no harm to your treasured conveyance whatsoever. All I desire is a diminutive jaunt to the entrance, from whence I shall speedily return."
"Talk English, McCoy."
"I just want to go to the gate and back. I'll be careful, I promise." Hank gave Remy his most meltingly innocent look. "You've been teaching me to ride a bike for weeks. I'm sure I can manage a two minute ride without supervision."
"Well..." Remy said reluctantly.
"Please?" Hank clasped his hands hopefully. "I will be excrutiatingly careful."
"Y' promise?" It was a losing battle. He did have to let the doctor ride on his own eventually.
"If I so much as scratch the paintwork I'll do all your chores for a month," Hank promised, bouncing slightly on his toes. "Does that mean I can?"
"Well... okay, but I'm gonna stand here and watch you de whole way," Remy agreed reluctantly. "An' you go slow, hear?"
Deciding that giving him time to change his mind was a bad idea, Hank promptly jumped onto the bike. "Back in a flash!" He started it up, revved the motor a couple of times, and then careened down the driveway like a particularly fuzzy pinball, dodging cars, nearby trees, and a couple of flowerbeds with mere inches to spare.
"Be CAREFUL!!" Remy screamed. "Non! Non! No- STAY AWAY FROM THAT FLOWERBED!! LEFT! LEFT!" Hank, of course, couldn't hear a word over the roar of the bike, but the anguished shrieks from behind him brough a grin to his face as he deliberately swerved towards a tree.
His attention was momentarily distracted by a flicker of colour on the edge of his vision. Slowing down a little, he turned to look. Several of the X-Women were sunbathing on a clear patch of grass, stretched out on towels and blankets as they chatted and smoothed sunscreen onto themselves.
There was absolutely nothing unusual about this. It happened all the time.
What did NOT happen all the time was Cecilia lying on her stomach with her chin on her arms, mind-boggling expanses of smooth, soft skin clearly revealed to view by the tiny white bikini she'd worn last time. With the top unfastened and the straps pushed down(!). If she sat up, she'd be... she'd...
Hank's jaw dropped, his hormones took over, and the only thing that stopped him from leaping off the bike and doing something he'd be terribly embarrassed by later was the tree, which had absolutely no sense of the romantic at all and had completely failed to move out of his way. The bike, also not having a romantic component in its frame, slammed into the tree without even trying to dodge. Inertia, following the annoying trend towards realism as opposed to romanic fantasy, ensured that Hank's head followed suit.
I am not really seeing this. It's a hallucination. Or possibly a dream. Yes, that's it, I'm having another dream. That explains why everything's so fuzzy.
"Hank? Can you hear me?" Cecilia leaned over him, her face worried.
What the hell, it's just a dream, might as well make the most of it..."Yup. Perfectly. I can see you perfectly too, and I must say, you look particularly delectable just now." He gave her an admiring look.
"Uh... thanks." Cecilia, clad only in bikini and labcoat, blushed furiously. She hadn't bothered to get changed before running inside to make sure Hank hadn't somehow killed himself. He hadn't, but he was rather severely concussed, and had a quite spectacular lump on his forehead that made him look like a cerulean Quasimodo, as he would have put it.
"Oh, you're very welcome." Hank beamed up at her, his eyes slightly unfocused.
"Well... good, then. Hold still for a moment and let me look at your pupils." Cecilia wondered if sudden... friendliness was a normal symptom of concussion for him, and if so, how she could get him into that state more often.
"Gladly. Look at anything you like." Hank leered hopefully.
"Uhm... well, thank you, but it would be very unethical for me to take advantage of a concussed patient. As far as I can tell, you're going to be fine, so I'll just send someone in to watch you and-" Cecilia tried to back away, but found a huge blue hand wrapped around her arm, engulfing it from wrist to elbow.
"But I don't WANT someone else to watch me," he disagreed. "I have absolutely no desire to be watched by anyone but your sweet self."
"Concussed or not, don't you think you're being a bit forward?" Cecilia asked, one eyebrow rising.
"So? This is a dream. I can do whatever I want," Hank explained logically. "And while I quite realise that I'm rushing things a little, this is my favourite dream and I always seem to get woken up before it's over, so could we sort of skip to the good part?" He gave her a hopeful look. "I know that were this reality, you would never consider it, but then, you never wear that maddening little bikini in the lab in reality either, which makes it slightly less difficult to restrain myself. So may we just take the preliminaries as done in the last one?"
Cecilia's mind clicked into high gear. He thought he was dreaming. He also seemed to have had a dream very similar to this before. He would, in short, be quite amenable to letting her have her way with him, and in fact was actively encouraging her to do so. Still, a little more information couldn't hurt. "What if I slap you and run screaming out of the lab?"
"You can't," he informed her smugly. "This is my dream, so you have to do what I want. It will be enjoyable, I assure you... of course, since you're only a figment of my imagination, you can't actually enjoy anything, but if you were real you would."
The eyebrow rose again. "You're very sure of yourself, aren't you?"
"Of course. This is a dream." He tugged gently on her arm. "Can we?"
She almost laughed at the little-boy plea in his eyes. "It would be highly unethical for me to take advantage of a patient."
"That's true..." Hank pondered this. "What if I took advantage of you? That, I think, is more acceptable."
"You're going to take advantage of me? You're concussed, McCoy, you couldn't take advantage of an ice cream right now," Cecilia's mouth pointed out while her brain was still considering the offer. It DID sound like her best shot, since he wasn't likely to let his guard this far down again any time soon.
"Oh, you think so?" Hank grinned, sitting up and yanking on her arm. She landed with a faint squeak on his lap, and before she could say a word he cupped the back of her head and kissed her gently. This was a marvellously realistic dream, he thought happily, deepening the kiss and pulling her a little closer. This definitely felt real.
When their lips finally parted, Cecilia was gasping. Concussed or not, he was certainly a talented kisser. Her heart was already pounding. And, since she already knew he had genuine feelings for her, there was no real reason to resist his advances now...
"Well? Do you still intend to slap me?" He smiled down at her, touching her lower lip with one big finger.
She thought about it, and grinned up at him."Only if you stop."
The light was not supposed to come from his left. It should be on the right. And tinted slightly blue from the curtains Jean had made him. Either he'd somehow got turned around in his bed, or...
Come to think of it, this didn't feel like his bed. It was too hard, too narrow, and too crowded.
Hank paused, and reviewed that last thought. Hard, check. Narrow, check. Crowded... uh-oh...
Tentatively, he opened his eyes and looked down. Cecilia's head was resting on his chest, the fingers of one hand twined in his fur. The rest of her was snuggled up to him, and one long leg was draped over his. She smelled very nice, a small part of his brain noted. The rest was much too busy panicking to notice anything.
He was in bed with Cecilia. He was naked in bed with Cecilia, who was also naked. He was naked in bed with a naked Cecilia in the Medlab. And he could not, for the life of him, remember how it had happened.
Unless... the memories of his 'dream' came sneaking back, parading past his mind's eye with an attention to detail that made his entire body blush. Which was rather unfortunate, since having blood rushing to a certain part of his anatomy only emphasized the problem. He wondered briefly if just closing his eyes and going back to sleep would make the whole thing not have happened.
Before he could put theory into practice, however, Cecilia yawned, and burrowed her face into the fur of his chest. "Mmf..." Then she froze, her entire body stiffening. The hand resting on his chest patted it tentatively, as if to make sure it was real. Slowly, cautiously, her head lifted, and startled blue eyes met shocked brown ones. "Hank...?"
"Uhm... hello." He held his breath, waiting for her reaction.
"I believe so."
"All those times?"
"Well, four that I remember for sure." Hank restrained a tiny smug note that threatened to enter his voice. "It gets fuzzy after that."
"It was five, I think." She propped herself up on one elbow, and looked down at him contemplatively. "I was very impressed."
"Really?" He gazed at her, biting his lip. "Did I ... uhm ... I seem to recall ...er ... siezing you..."
She smiled suddenly, her eyes growing warm. "Oh, that part I remember." She cuddled against him. "But don't worry, I didn't mind."
"You're not... uhm... sorry it happened?" A hopeful note found its way into his voice. She didn't seem inclined to slap him, scream, or never speak to him again. In fact, she felt quite nice snuggled against him...
"No!" Cecilia sat up, glaring at him. "Hank, I've been trying to get your attention for months, which you'd know if you paid as much attention to me as you do to ... to Peptide!"
"You have?" He sat up too, tipping her face upwards towards his with one finger. "In the spirit of confession, I admit that I too have been intensely attracted to you for some time, but I was too reticent to allow you to discover my inclination."
She mock-scowled, poking him in the chest with one slim finger. "In English, McCoy."
"I'm head over heels in love with you but I was too chicken to admit it." Hank's eyes were pleading as he cupped her cheek lightly. "Please tell me I have a chance and I didn't just make a complete fool of myself."
"You didn't." She beamed, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Me too."
"You too what?" Hank asked hopefully.
"Don't make me say it, McCoy, or I'll get out of bed right now."
"Uh ... I'll settle for a demonstration."