**Standard Mice Disclaimer**
Annie Peckenpaugh was on a mission. The mission's name was "Operation: Pancakes." Her objective? "To eat pancakes. Kill, if necessary, to get them."
Annie rounded the corner and landed in the kitchen to find a grinning Hank McCoy with an oversized novelty baker's cap on his head. Using the logic that came with morning, Annie figured that the reason he was grinning was due to the fact that he had pancakes; pancakes that were rightfully her's. "Gimme."
"I hope you're hungry, Annie--"
"No one else is up right now, so I thought I'd make us breakfast!"
Annie paused for a bit, seeing as how the creature wasn't responding to these tactics, so she decided to change them up a bit, catch the blue hair ball off guard so that he could give her pancakes.
"Could you get the silverware?"
Annie squinted her tired green eyes at the big blue galoot who was at the stove. Did he not understand her orders? Was he soft in the head? Why wasn't Cookie Monster giving her pancakes?
"Still tired from our study session last night, I see. Just continue to sit there and glower while I set everything up."
Annie growled as Hank set a fork and a knife in front of her. Annie now had a weapon to over power the beast to get to the pancakes, if it indeed came to that.
"Bon appetite, Annie!" Hank grinned as he set the plate in front of Annie.
Annie took her fork and nudged around the home fries and eggs, hoping to find a submerged pancake or two, but only found more eggs and potatoes.
"Don't look at me with those eyes, I have your pancakes."
Annie's eyes lit up as Hank set the plate down in front of her.
"Annie, are you glowing?"
Annie reached for the butter and syrup.
Hank shook his head as he began to elegantly cut his short stack of pancakes while Annie was engaging on a full scale attack with hers.
Harpo Lubbock was up before noon and contrary to what his mother told him, the world did not end. In fact, the world was in pretty good shape from where he stood looking from his window in his dorm room. A bit more hilly than the flat lands of Texas that he was used to.
Harpo could hear some muddled sounds coming from the hall and pressed his ear to the door.
"Give it back, Jubilee!"
"Not a chance in hell, hayseed! I will not go quietly into the morning! I will not vanish without a fight! I am going to live on! I am going to survive! Today, I celebrate MY Independence Day!"
"That's not a declaration of independence, Jubilee, that's my work out tape!"
Harpo saw his door knob twist and backed away as it opened. A thin arm entered and threw a tape inside and closed the door again. "HA!"
"Uh ... huh," Harpo commented as he locked his door to protect himself from the cat fight outside. "Okay, that was probably stupid, and Ah'll be court-martialed by straight men everywhere, but..." Harpo turned his attention to his barely assembled stereo and put in his favorite Duran Duran CD and soon, Electric Barbarella filled the room.
Bobby trudged into the kitchen, hoping to drown his sorrows alone in a bowl of peanut butter Cap'n'Crunch. It took him a while to realize that he wasn't alone.
"Robert! You're home!" Hank grinned as he bounced over to his best friend. "I was hoping you'd stop by the lab to chat about your trip, last night ... did all go well?"
Bobby slumped into a chair, not quite awake enough to put forth the motor skills needed to pour cereal and milk. "Jubilee blew up my car."
"Jubilee destroyed Lady Jaye?!" Hank gasped.
"Well ... more like Lady Jaye imploded while Jubilee was in the car ... I still hold her responsible, though."
"Is she all right? Was anyone hurt?"
"No, she is not all right! She's burnt to a crisp!"
"Lady Jaye, Jubilee is fine."
Bobby whimpered. "But ... my car!"
Annie, mid-chew, finally spoke up. "You mean that hunk of junk you drive that's run by a hamster on a wheel?"
Bobby's face went red.
"I'll take that as a yes. Look, Bobby, you should be thankful! Some things weren't supposed to survive the eighties ... Ford escorts, shoulder pads, Sheena Easton..."
"You don't understand, Annie," Bobby began to explain as he motioned to Hank to get him some pancakes. "That car meant a lot to me--"
"You had a nice stereo, didn't you?"
"Not the point, Peckenpaugh!" Bobby rubbed his temples. "Look, everyone here has their own car. With the exception of a few, the professor has bought them all. I was one of the exceptions. I bought that car with my own money, and now it's just a pile of ashes."
Hank paused before handing Bobby some pancakes. "Bobby ... you didn't keep Lady Jaye's ashes, did you?"
Jubilee's red Sabrina heels clicked reluctantly in the halls. To the casual observer, it would appear that the girl didn't want to make too much noise. Well, to the casual observer who had never met, seen, or heard of Jubilation Lee before in their life, or had known anyone who had. To those that had, they knew the reason Jubilee was walking so slowly.
"I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, more."
"Not as much as I'll miss you!"
"I wouldn't wager that, because I'll miss you that much more!"
"Everett, you are so sweet!"
Jubilee stayed in place as Ev began to kiss What's-Her-Face v. 4.0 and then ran to the nearest bathroom.
Annie leaned up snugly against the most comfortable wooden chair she had ever been in. The fact that she only had about two hours of sleep the night before helped a lot in that opinion. At that moment, Annie would have slept on a bed of nails if it would have meant she could sleep. Trying to fake Hank into thinking she was reading while taking a quick nap would have to do for now.
Annie jerked her head back up and looked up at Hank. "Yes?"
Hank tapped his finger at a picture of the statue of David in her book. "He IS dreamy, isn't he?"
Annie blushed as she ran a hand across her wet mouth. "I am so sorry, Hank, I'm just so tired, I--"
"Annie," Hank said softly while chuckling. "It happens to all of us."
"Oh, stars, no!" Hank laughed at the thought that studying might possibly be boring, but stopped quickly as he saw red lines on her face from the book she was using not to study and learn, but as a pillow. "Bobby, however, used to do it all the time when he first got here ... it was a miracle he managed to pass most of his classes."
"A miracle named McCoy?"
Hank laughed. "Well, I helped a bit, I suppose."
He let Annie smile for a few more seconds before tapping the book on Greek architecture.
"Bobby! Phone!" Rogue hollered towards the rec room where Bobby sat sulking.
"Tell Mom that I'm in the shower!"
"Bobby, it's not your mother, it's some other gal..." Rogue uncovered the receiver to speak to the other party. "Sorry, honey, but what did ya say your name was? Okay, hold on." Rogue covered the receiver once more and shouted out to Bobby reluctantly. "It's Opal!"
Harpo looked at his watch as he took it off to wash his hands. "Great," he said out loud. "Ah'm gonna be late..." Harpo dried his hands on his loose fitting jeans and played a bit with his shoulder length sandy brown hair when he saw a small female figure huddled in the corner. "Uh ... this is the men's room, right?" he asked the girl.
Jubilee looked up and blinked a few times. "Who in the hell are you?"
Harpo walked over to her and held out his hand. "Harpo. Ah just transferred here yesterday ... you are?"
"Jubilee," she replied while tossing back her blonde hair. "I didn't know anyone new was coming here."
"And Ah didn't know that you ran the school," Harpo commented as he raised his eyebrows in mock amazement.
"Okay, those who are named after one of the Ritz Brothers are not allowed to cast judgement. And if you must know, I am the eyes, ears, throat, nose, and everything else at this school. Nothing happens unless I know about it first."
"And if you must know, you're thinking about the Marx Brothers, not the Ritz. Different comedy team."
Harpo blinked. ""Eh?" "EH?!" You "eh'd" the Marx Brothers?!"
Jubilee shrugged. "Yep."
"YOU DO NOT "EH" THE MARX BROTHERS!!"
"Look, I never saw any of their movies--"
Harpo doubled over. "Tell me you did not say that! How can you live without seeing a Marx Brothers movie?!"
"Pretty damn well, I think!"
Harpo shook his head. "Ah don't think so. After school, you're coming up to mah room and Ah am going to make you watch "A Night at the Opera". Not mah personal favorite, but the most newbie friendly. Now, Ah think we gotta get goin' ta class."
"So, do you understand the class distinctions of the Ionic and Doric era, and the horrible wrongness of the whole Corinthian fad?"
Annie nodded. "Doric is the early Batman years with Bill Keane, the Ionic is Frank Miller's Dark Knight series, and Corinthian is the t.v. show with Adam West, right?"
Hank beamed. "You got it!" Hank got up from his chair to hug Annie, when he saw Bobby sticking his head in the door. "Yes, Robert?"
"I, uh ... need to talk to you, Hank. In private."
Hank nodded. "It'll only be a moment, Annie. Keep reading."
Annie waited until Hank was gone before picking up her Soap Opera Digest to read. "Oh, my ... Kay Bennett, you minx!" Annie read on for a bit before she heard the conversation in the hall grow more heated. She put aside the magazine and strained to listen until Hank came back into the room, nostrils flaring. "Uhm ... that didn't sound good..."
"Why should I care if he chooses to ruin his life? Why should I even care, it's not like I'm his best friend or any such nonsense."
"Hank ... what happened."
"He's going out tonight on a date."
Annie smiled. "So? That's good--"
"With Opal Tanaka."
Annie's brow buried. "Opal ... oh, God, NO!"
"You've heard of Opal?"
Annie winced in pain at the memory of the picture she saw that was forever burned into her memory. She doubted that it was just her mutant power that kept it there. "Can we talk about the pants?"
Everett Thomas smiled as he saw Jubilee and the new kid walk into class. "Hey, how was California?"
Jubilee shrugged as she sat next to Ev. "It was fine ... I guess."
"He's fine. His family is just trippier than I expected, though."
"No, his mother's family, the Bass's."
Harpo poked Jubilee. "In Santa Monica?"
Jubilee squinted. "Yeah..."
"Did you meet Hollis?"
Jubilee turned green.
"You met Aunt Hollis!"
Jubilee shook her head as she made the connection while Everett looked on. "You're a Lubbock?!"
Harpo nodded reluctantly. "We aren't all that bad ... hey, did you get to meet any of the others?"
"Yeah, a few ... I met Holly and her son, Bert ... didn't meet Cliff, he being, uh ... dead."
Harpo nodded. "Ah never met Holland and Heathcliff. Aunt Hollis ... she was heartbroken when her husband ran away with her kids--"
"Excuse me?!" Jubilee interrupted. "Damn, that woman can lie..."
"What do you mean?"
Jubilee shushed him as the bell rang. "Later."
She knew she was supposed to be studying, but watching Hank McCoy ... that was something Annie decided was much more worthy of studying than the Odyssey.
Sitting in a stuffed leather chair, Hank's glasses were perched on top of his head, serving as a lazy headband to push back the thick, blue fur that threatened to cover his eyes. He stared intently on a small ball of lint on the oriental carpet like it could destroy the entire balance of nature if it should fall into the wrong hands.
This was the look Hank McCoy got when he was thinking about a problem, though this wasn't the usual problem concerning science -- the boyish gleam Hank got in his eyes when thinking about science wasn't there. Instead, it was something Annie had never seen before in the calm, gentle Hank McCoy.
"Hank, are you pissed off at Bobby?"
Hank rolled his eyes. "Has none of my eloquence rubbed off on you yet, Annie?"
"Fine, fine ... are you perturbed at Bobby?"
"And you're trying to find a way to stop him from going out on his date with some sort of zany scheme?"
Hank raised an eyebrow. "Annie, you didn't say you were telepathic..."
Annie shook her head. "I can see it in your body language. Just as good as telepathy, sometimes. It's a habit of mine I picked up from when I played softball back in school..." Annie saw Hank's left eyebrow twitch. "You just found your idea, didn't you?"
Hank smiled as he nodded. "Annie, would you like to accompany me to dinner tonight?
Continued in Chapter Two.