DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized
work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by
Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story,
so I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights (for the
full text see Stan's Soapbox in some of the May 1998
comics, e.g. Generation X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel
characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story and the original characters in it (for a list, see
the end notes) are (c) Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com).
You can download this and copy it for your entertainment,
but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers
on you. Please do not archive this on your website without
informing me first.
The Ballad of Trish and Henry belongs to the continuing
series, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik; it interconnects
with a few other stories, but should be understandable on
its own. Within the series, it comes after Something
Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue,
where Hank McCoy and Trish Tilby tied the knot, and also after
their Trans-Atlantic exchange of messages in Valentine
WARNING: This Tale contains descriptions
of sexual acts between two consenting (and married) adults.
If you are too young to read them or if such descriptions
bother you, I must ask you to wait until you're old enough.
You can find the other Tales archived on "Fonts
of Wisdom," "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX:
The Average Website," and "Stacy's
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
For the second time this year, the bouncing Beast has come
home from a stint at Moira MacTaggert's Muir Island research
facility. I feel a little more optimistic than usual. While
I would not be so bold as claim that we have achieved a breakthrough,
the irascible Caledonian and your humble servant have undeniably
made some progress and we are confident that the fresh approach
we instituted with the new series of experiments is leading
us onto the right track. I had intended to use a regular flight,
but as Dame Fortune would have it, I was able to hitch a faster
ride on the blue fur express with my former teammate Nightcrawler.
Kurt volunteered to represent Excalibur at some official gatherum
in Washington (which, as you may know, is our Nation's capital)
as an excuse to see his new-born baby sister, Hope.
After giving Scott, the Professor and Ororo a tour d'horizon
of recent events and dropping off Moira's presents for Sean
and Teresa, I take my leave and proceed southward to the big
city in Scott's Volvo. My destination: Rockefeller Plaza,
for a rendezvous with my lady love. I get held up in the traffic,
and as I arrive, her makeup is just being finished. Her face
lights up, but she only has time to blow me a kiss before
the opening jingle comes on. And then Trish Tilby, anchorwoman
on WNBC's evening news, begins to expound the day's events
to New York and the world.
I take my position hanging from the ceiling above Herb the
director and watch. My spouse looks wonderful, as usual. She
reads her text from a teleprompter and apart from a bigger
smile there's nothing to betray her pleasure at my early arrival.
The commercial break is torment for us. What I want to do
is leap down onto her desk and whisk her into my arms, and
part of her would love that, but regrettably another part
of her is a consummate professional, and she signals me to
stay where I am. When she sees the disappointment in my mien
her stern expression melts and she silently mouths 'only a
few more minutes' to me. Then she has to go through her notes
for the next segment as fast as she can.
They're on the air again, and she rattles out the minor news
items. Do I detect a sense of urgency, my pretty one? While
her colleague deals with the sports headlines and the cameras
are focused on him, she looks up to me. If ever eyes could
be said to smolder, it is hers right now.
The weatherman jokes with Trish (I use the word 'joke' loosely)
before launching into his spiel about the short and medium
term meteorological prospects. My lady catches my expression
at his lame attempts at humor and she winks at me. Then the
final announcements are made, the credits roll across the
monitors as the jingle plays, and at last the broadcast is
I leap down from the ceiling, but unfortunately Herb is at
Trish's side before me and starts to harry her about her final
broadcast tonight, the late night news. Sensing my urgency,
Trish does her best to keep this conference as short as possible,
but even it takes too long for me. And then Harmonee, Herb's
assistant also has some urgent (urgent to her, if not to me)
matters to discuss with Trish. It really is most irksome,
you'd think people would be too intimidated by someone as
tall and wide and scary-looking as me to simply shoulder me
aside, but there you are. The drawback of being a well-known
At last they leave Trish alone, and we can retire to someplace
quiet. Since she has to go on again in a couple of hours,
that leaves us no choice but her office. As we enter the room,
I see she already has thoughtfully lowered the blinds before
the broadcast. Well, it has been nearly two months, so can
anyone blame us for being a little impatient?
My costume just consists of a pair of trunks, it was made
for occasions like this. As soon as the door is locked, it
comes off, as does the Hawaiian shirt I had put on to complete
my 'civilian attire'. Trish does not take much longer to get
drop her skirt and step out of it. She sits down on her desk
and, while I delight in pulling her panties down her shapely
gams, she unbuttons her shirt. Underneath she is wearing a
front-fastening brassiere -- normally she dislikes the feeling
of the clasp in front, but, on this occasion she wanted to
be prepared. "I was a Girl Scout," she smugly points
out as she unfastens the clip and lets the two halves fall
apart. "Welcome back, Hank."
Patricia's bosom is most pleasant to my eyes, not remarkable
for its absolute volume -- there my beloved life-partner cannot
compete with most of the distaff half of my teammates -- but
for its shape, which at least in the judgment of this observer
comes as close to perfection as anyone has a right to expect
in this imperfect world. Especially when you consider the
way it is proportioned to the rest of her lithe and finely-structured
body. While she falls short of the excessive 1990s American
standards of mammarial pulchritude, she measures up well to
a more old-fashioned ideal of beauty. The size and the roundness
of apples, not of melons. Pulchra enim sunt ubera quae
paululum supereminent et tument modice, nec fluentia licenter...*
However, she lacks the gently rounded belly men back in the
middle ages felt completed the beauty of a woman, even a virgin.
What follows is not the most sophisticated instance of love-making,
neither in the history of humankind nor in the somewhat shorter
story of our relationship. We had been anticipating this moment
for the better part of a day, so our bodies are already geared
up, the flames of passion require only a bare minimum of stoking
and we proceed almost immediately to what Trish calls the
'nitty-gritty'. Which is not to say that we are finished too
quickly or that I go about it crudely (I try to be a beast
in name only).
After we have slaked our mutual immediate need on the desk,
we recline on the carpeted floor together. Trish always is
at her most beautiful after we make love, and I delight in
the close-up view. Thankfully, we still have some time to
"How I've missed you, my ravishing mistress," I begin, "the
nights in the Outer Hebrides were doubly cold and clammy without
you, even though they were so short and bright this time of
year. And though I could see you reading the news via satellite."
"You say the sweetest things, Blue," she replies. "But my
nights were awfully lonely too, even here in the middle of
New York City. And watching the wedding videos all the time
wasn't such a good idea. It only made me miss you more."
"I am constrained to apologize, my own Patricia. This is
not the way I had visualized the first year of our marriage.
But you know how it is..."
"Shush, Hank, being in love means never having to say you're
sorry, if you don't mind me quoting from What's Up, Doc?
-- or was it some other movie." Years before we met, my darling
wife wrote romantic novels and screenplays as a sideline to
her journalistic work, and occasionally she likes to make
reference to examples of the genre. "I knew what I was letting
myself in for when I asked you to marry me."
"Hey, I asked you!"
"Well, technically you did, but only after I dropped some
heavy hints," she giggles, "Anyway, you were so optimistic
on the phone about your experiments... let's just say I'm
so proud of my scientific genius hubby that it'd be extremely
selfish to complain about the time you spend away from me."
She gives me a reassuring kiss and half-seriously adds: "And
besides, if your more intensive research means you'll find
a cure for the Legacy virus sooner, I can hope that means
we won't have to wait as long for you to have more time for
Unfortunately, Trish has to go back to makeup soon as our
antics have left her in a rather disheveled state. It's a
good thing she wears her hair short, that does not take that
long to rearrange.
We've made good use of the time we had, so we're both a lot
more relaxed when Trish sits down behind the newsdesk for
the final broadcast. I find a comfortable chair and sort of
doze off while she reads off her items. It feels as if the
wait is much, much shorter this time around.
Then it's over for tonight, Trish and Hank have left the
building. The way things are in the Big Bad Apple, it takes
a while until we find a place to deposit Scott's car, and
when we do, it is a few blocks away from our Tribeca apartment.
But it is a pleasant warm summer night, I look forward to
a stroll through our neighborhood. The locals are used to
strange people in general, and to seeing us in particular.
We stop for a quick bite in a diner on Canal Street where
the staff and regular patrons are familiar enough with us
not to stare. While I'm digging into my BLT and malted milk,
she brings me up to date on some of the things that have been
happening while I was away, and of her plans for the coming
"If you like, we can look at a couple of houses tomorrow,"
she says handing me a sheaf of papers.
Our plans for a joint domicile have rather fallen behind
schedule because I spent most of the time since our wedding
in a lab with an irascible Scot. But I see that my spouse
has not been idle on that front in the meantime. I glance
through the realtors' information and look at the photos.
"I think the second one in Scarsdale and the one in White
Plains have possibilities," she says. "And both are handy
for Salem Center and New York..."
"But I like it here, Trish," I venture, "It's handy for SoHo
and the Village, and most of our neighbors actually seem to
like us." Which is no more than the truth. Some of the other
people in our building were quite friendly from the time I
started to spend nights with Trish in what used to be just
her apartment, and a few sent us flowers for our wedding.
"Well, I thought it might be nice to have a garden for our
children," she says, adding the afterthought: "If we decide
to start having children soon."
"Well, I hadn't thought of that, I have to admit, but still
this is a bit of a surprise. I never thought of you as the
suburban type before."
"I'm not, really," she says, "I thought with you being used
to living in mansions ever since you became a superhero, and
considering your folks live in the country, I thought you
would prefer something outside the city."
"Evidently I haven't told you enough about how Warren, Bobby
and I used to take every opportunity we got to escape to the
scene not too many blocks uptown from here, my darling."
"Quite so," Trish smiles, "Well, scratch that, then. It just
seemed like an idea with possibilities at the time Harmonee
suggested it to me."
"Well, maybe we shouldn't rule it out entirely," I concede,
skimming through the material, "but on the other hand this
is not that bad a place to raise children after all." Only
after we finish dinner, when we set off for home do I realize
that this was the first time we talked about the subject of
children in a serious way, as something where we will have
to make decisions that affect our lives for years to come.
When I walk through the streets with my lady, even the fact
that I am an Avenger in good standing (currently in reserve)
does not exempt me from dirty looks. At least the leers and
hateful stares are easier to bear than the cat-calls and whispers
(just loud enough to be audible half a block away) which start
with "blue-furred freak" and work their way up from there.
Or the occasional tangible expectoration.
It is not easy for Trish either. Even though she gets approached
more often for autographs (she is the more visible media personality),
she also attracts a lot of invective from those who regard
her as a "race-traitor" for her journalistic work and for
consorting with me. The volume of hate-mail she attracts is
phenomenal, and not a fortnight seems to pass without a threat
to kill her or a gory description of what the writer would
like to do to her. I seem to get less of those. I am certain
the diligent Jarvis is not keeping them from me, so I can
only assume that they simply don't expect any better from
a mutant monster than to want to defile beautiful maidens,
or they devoutly hope I'll be killed in a super-powered battle
or from contracting Legacy without their assistance being
Trish -- ever the optimist -- claims to find that it is getting
better, that the positive feedback she receives slowly continues
to grow while the hate-mail stagnates. I hope to God she is
right. By making a big media production of our wedding, we
hoped to strike a blow for acceptance; maybe it is still early
to tell, but it does seem to have had a beneficial effect
Not that it is entirely smooth sailing with all of my superpowered
friends and acquaintances either. There was a time when some
of my associates gave the love of my life the kind of simmering
antipathy that certain Beatles fans reserve for Yoko. It started
with the way Trish did some of her stories and may have been
exacerbated by the way she stood up for them and her beliefs.
They expected her to feel embarrassed because she thought
it more important to stick to the truth as she saw it instead
of trying to put a pro-mutant spin on everything. But when
you push Patricia, she pushes right back without yielding
an inch. When tempers flare as they then did, who is right
and who is wrong become matters of secondary importance. The
fact that Trish ultimately was right (or at least largely
right) only made things worse for some of us.
But this is past. Trish is now quite close to some of the
others. Certainly to my good buddy, Bobby Drake, the long-time
sponsor of our union; and now his lady love, the reclusive
Emma Frost, is warming up to her. Warren too looks upon my
spouse more favorably, partly because of her friendship with
his 'significant other', Charlotte Jones, but also because
he had come to respect her from the old days, when he was
the Horseman known as Death, and she stood up to him.
We reach our destination, a former warehouse, and ride the
elevator up to our floor. Our abode is spacious, as if it
had been built or Patricia had purchased it with someone like
me in mind, with lots of foot and arm holds available on the
high ceilings. By force of habit, I walk over to a window
and watch the lights of the city and the trail of tail-lights
of the cars driving up the Avenida de las Americas. But since
I'm not the only New Yorker looking out a window tonight,
we pull close the curtains. There are things we wish to do
away from prying eyes -- continue where we left off in Trish's
office, to be precise.
The cream in my coffee does not take long to emerge from
her sartorial shell, but I, having the advantage of wearing
less, beat her by several seconds.
"Like what you see?" she inquires.
"Fair one, how could I be anything but delighted utterly
by your aspect?" I say, dropping to one knee before her theatrically.
"From the ends of your crow-hued tresses to the tips of your
delicate little toeseys, thou art a picture of perfection."
"You don't look too shabby yourself, Blue, but stand up so
I can look at you properly."
I assume a selection of body-builders' poses while my lovely
wife oohs and aahs. We like to show off to each other from
time to time, but is it because we like to express our admiration
for each other's corporeal form, because we like our vanity
being tickled, or because we enjoy play-acting? Maybe a bit
of all three.
It is unusual for me, at any rate, since I normally prefer
more hunched, dare I say crouched, postures and at times am
a bit self-conscious about the shape and color of my body
has had ever since a certain day at a Brand Corporation lab.
Something about which I do feel better when Trish occasionally
reinvigorates my self-confidence as she does now by feeling
my biceps and devouring me with her eyes.
When we felt the first stirrings of romantic feelings for
each other, I went through a major change. Due to circumstances
too complex to recapitulate in brief, I had reverted back
to my natural shape, which happened to be quite attractive
to ladies in a slightly nerdy sort of way. Unfortunately a
fight with Pestilence (one of Apocalypse's minions) had put
me in a state where I kept getting stronger but also more
stupid the more I used my strength. And so Trish first fell
in love with a handsome, not too bright, and somewhat vulnerable
schnook. Then another fight, where I had to save my friend
Bobby from the clutches of a super-powered temptress called
Infectia, fortuitously reverted me to my previous blue-furred
state and original intelligence. Which was a bit much for
Trish to handle at first, and for a while she shrank away
from me. She tells me it was mainly because of my more self-confident,
from her point of view more aggressive personality, and basically
she had to start getting to know me again from scratch. In
any case, I can be more certain than most that my lady truly
loves my soul, for she had to discover it twice over, beneath
two very different physical shapes and surface personalities.
It poses an intriguing question: How would I react if she
was to undergo as dramatic a change, physically and mentally,
as I did back then? If she suddenly became a statuesque blonde
with a top-heavy hourglass figure and a room-temperature IQ?
Or do I find her fine-limbed, dark-haired looks beautiful
because that is coincidentally her shape? Obviously I am not
intent on finding out experimentally. But it does help my
lingering worries as to how she feels about my current form
that she reassures me from time to time that she not only
has come to accept it, but that she has grown to like and
desire it. We both exaggerate our mutual admiration to the
point of caricature, but there is also an undeniable element
of truth to it.
"Oh woe is me that I have to share the stirring sight of
your rippling abs and pecs with a world of other admirers!
At least you keep your buns of cobalt well-encased in public,
otherwise these sirens would ne'er keep their desire-filled
digits off you!" Before her journalistic career took off,
my darling Patricia wrote screenplays and romantic novels
so she'd have a second leg to stand on, financially. Does
it show, or are my own patterns of speech affecting her?
"Nay, 'tis I who must feel jealous of the world," say I,
"for your eyes put bluebells to shame and your skin is as
white and delicate as the petals as a lily, the hue of your
lips is like unto a pert dogwood in bloom... I'faith, who
could resist you?"
It really is strange how female beauty has so many males
of this species thinking in horticultural terms -- a derrière
like a peach, lips like cherries, skin pink as rose petals,
eyes like violets... I'd better not overdo it, or Trish will
become like the lady in the tale of Hasan of Basra and the
Princesses of the Wak-Wak Islands: "Who dares compare me to
a rose? Who is not ashamed to claim my bosom was as charming
as the fruit of the pomegranate tree? Who makes such comparisons
again I'll ban him from my sight; for if he finds my figure
in the twigs of the Ban tree and my cheeks in roses, what
needs he be with me?"
"Your breasts are like two alembics" I pick up the thread,
"from which our mutual pleasure is distilled when you give
me leave to touch them."
She retorts: "Uh... your... um, turgid magic wand is like,
uhh, let me see, the boom microphone in the Today studio,
but a lot more fun."
At that homespun simile we both break into giggling, but
when our laughter subsides, we kiss -- oh, how sweetly our
tongues writhe around each other in a dance as old as humanity!
-- and we then commence to worship each other with deeds,
Trish rubs her fingers through the hair on my back and head
as I lift her up and move along her body. "Mmmm, I missed
that... your lovely blue fur..."
"I'm glad to see your furry bits as well, m'dear," I can't
help saying as I'm approaching the one that is not on her
"Hmm, maybe I should stop shaving under my arms so there's
It is physically impossible for me to answer, but my activities
help put her into a state where she does not feel like insisting
on a response. She holds on tight to my hair to keep my head
in position between her quivering haunches, a position that
unfortunately somewhat impairs my hearing. But after the tempest
of her ecstasy calms down, she releases me and slides down
from my shoulders.
Trish looks at me meltingly and pushes me over so that I
land on my back and she right on top of me. She rubs hear
sweat-slick, hard-tipped breasts dry against the mat of fur
on my chest, and we share another incredibly long and intense
Given my inborn talents, it is not surprising that our lovemaking
sometimes verges on the athletic. Some nights -- and days
-- we let our inhibitions slip and get even more rowdy than
this. Once, when we had just begun to express our love physically,
it got so intense that I actually drew blood. This doesn't
happen nowadays, as Trish afterwards insisted that "being
in love with me means that from now on you properly cut your
fingernails or claws or whatever you call them before we make
I was of course mortified and apologized profusely, but she
made light of my faux pas, reminding me that after
all she herself hadn't noticed the nicks on her bosom until
afterwards. She exorcised what feelings of embarrassment were
left by complimenting me on my prowess in the arts of love:
"Before you, I thought multiple orgasms were just a myth."
And so, instead of being in a downcast mood, I grinned across
both ears until dawn the next day.
Some people struck by the physical contrast between the two
of us expressed concern about whether physical love might
not be too big a strain for Trish's delicate frame, but luckily
her constitution is tougher and more resilient than they'd
expect. Similarly for the relative dimensions of our naughty
bits -- extrapolating from the size of our bodies, you'd expect
Trish and me having to surmount the difficulties of what the
Kama Sutra calls 'the highest congress', but I am afraid that
my altered physiology did not transform me into what that
particular treatise calls a horse man. My lingam would be
a bit of a disappointment to the size-obsessed, so at least
from that aspect our 'congresses' are unproblematic. What
most outside observers don't guess is some of the other problems
that my naturally and biochemically enhanced body causes,
and not just to my petite bride. For my most well-known feature,
my dark blue fuzzy fur also extends to a large part of my
membrum virile. Patricia claims she enjoys the additional
friction, but I noticed I felt a tad tender when we spent
a rainy day in bed during our honeymoon. At least it's not
as bad as for cats, where copulation is actually a painful
experience for toms.
But all in all we manage quite well, thank you very much.
We hearkened Vatsyayana's words: "An ingenious person should
multiply the kinds of congress after the fashion of the different
kinds of beasts (!) and of birds. For these different kinds
of congress, performed according to the usage of each country
and the liking of each individual, generate love, friendship,
and respect in the hearts of women" (and men!) And so we keep
exploring new ways that allow us to make the most of this
aspect of our love and which best suit the peculiarities of
our physiological differences.
And so here we are floor, me spread-eagled on the kitchen
floor, she sitting up on my stomach and smiling down at me
happily. "That was great," she says with a husky voice, while
her hand sneaks behind her back and settles on my dangling
participle. "Now it's my turn. But perhaps we should adjourn
I nod. Somewhat reluctantly, Trish slides off me and rises.
"You want a little drink while we're here? Or something else
you'd want to do first?"
I jump to my feet, and we saunter off to the bedroom, my
gait giving new meaning to the expression 'swinging step'.
"No, no," I say, "what could be better than making love with
you, oh primal fountainhead of my delight?"
"Ohh, I don't know," speaks unabashed Patricia, "how about
... sex and sweets?!" And with that she reaches under
the bed into my stash (which I see she has thoughtfully replenished
in my absence. Lying back on the bed, she places a Twinkie
between her firm breasts, which she then squeezes inward.
The creamy filling flows forth and fills the tightly-pressed
cleavage. "See, now you're drooling more than when you looked
at dessert this evening."
"Ingenious, my love, combining my two greatest obsessions..."
Voraciously I swallow the squodged Twinkie and lick up the
heady mixture of the sugary sweet and the salty taste of her
skin. My tongue curls around the big, hardened buds that crown
the twin domes of her body's temple. Now Trish wants to try
for herself: a second Twinkie is flattened and spread all
over my crotch. By the time she finishes cleaning if off,
I am rampantly ready and slick with her saliva. And unable
to wait any longer. Trish is eager to accept me too, and with
no further preliminaries, my procreative ruler bisects the
wonderful angle between her legs. And we begin to move in
a primeval rhythm, looking into each other's eyes and all
over our bodies.
As we jointly reach the climax, Trish's melodious mezzo-soprano
rises in sighs and little cries of ecstasy. A glistening film
of perspiration gathers in her throat and between her mobile
breasts. I follow immediately. In spite of my detumescence
she won't release me -- her nether muscles hold my softening
flesh firmly in their grip, her feet are linked together behind
me like a hook and eye, pressing down on my buttocks so I
can't withdraw. After a while we roll over once again so she
is on top of me. We go on whispering endearments to each other
and we fall asleep, exhausted from our exertions and, in my
case, the long journey.
We must make the most of these moments -- who knows what
crisis may call one of us from each other's side tomorrow.
It is no easy life we lead, but it is wondrous and in its
way satisfying to face it together.
* 'Yea, fair are breasts that protrude
a little and swell moderately, not overflow unrestrainedly..."
Thank you, Umberto Eco.
Epilogue: Un an après
We did not expect our first child to be born in Queens. We
made arrangements in Roosevelt Hospital for sentimental reasons
(that was where Trish and I first began to discover our feelings
for each other), and considered the possibility of some kind
of emergency, but Queens? Not that we dislike the place, but
we hardly ever go there. Trish was visiting our friend Mary
Jane Watson-Parker, who had just delivered her twins, when
her waters broke. So they kept her there.
Much to my dismay I could not be there for the delivery.
The X-Men's Blue Team was needed elsewhere, in Maine, to be
precise. Some old acquaintances of ours, the Alliance of Evil,
chose this most inopportune moment to make a comeback. The
emergency started when they raided a biochemical lab in Lewiston
and took some of the scientists hostage. It was not an easy
operation where my presence was definitely required, first
to help thinking up ways of getting inside (I had been there
before), and secondly to make sure that none of the experimental
samples got out into the open or to advise the others on how
to avoid harm from the various chemicals stored there.
Upset? Of course I was. Trish's beeper had gone off just
as we were moving into positions for our surprise attack,
and I made no secret of my annoyance at being unable to get
to my darling spouse's side. But that turned out to be bad
news for the Alliance as well, as I'm afraid I handled Timeshadow
a bit more roughly than is my wont when I got the drop on
him. Which, however, was nothing compared to the pummeling
my Avengers buddy (and X-Man for a year) Hercules gave to
Tower while explaining to him in detail how ill-mannered it
is to detain a man from being present at the birth of his
child. Even Scott did not try too hard to restrain Herc. After
that, the Alliance seemed relieved to be handed over to the
Vault pickup crew.
After securing the place and cleaning up (or at least making
a few steps in that direction), we made our way back to the
It is dark when we arrive at the hospital, but we phoned
ahead and thankfully we're all allowed to go see Trish. They
also told us that the birth went off smoothly without a hitch.
That is a big relief; if there was one thing that worried
me, it was that the baby might inherit my abnormal size and
what problems that could cause with the size of Trish's birth
I'm not the only one visiting his wife at this late hour:
we run into Mary Jane's spouse Peter Parker in the corridor.
We became acquainted when Peter was a Trish's colleague, a
press photographer, but since then he became a full-time biophysicist
at E.S.U., a colleague of mine. The dear boy's mind evidently
is filled with his excitement about the two new additions
to his family. He is startled from his musings to see us:
"Good grief, I was so preoccupied I mistook the broom closet
with MJ's room. Um, catch you later."
Absent-mindedly I promise to pay them a visit later, but,
well, I'm too near my destination, the others have to hurry
to keep up with me. We reach the door, I knock our special
knock, I pull it open...
...and there she is, sitting up in her bed, holding the baby.
Trish is exhausted, but her face lights up with a radiant
smile that warms the cockles of my heart and makes my knees
buckle. I feel all gooey inside. "My sweet, my tardiness leaves
"Don't worry Hank, you'll be there on time the next time,"
she smiles. "The important thing is you're here. Say hello
She lifts up the little human being and hands it over to
me. I draw aside the pink blanket to take a proper look at
the fruit of our loins. "Oh my stars and garters, now that
is unexpected. Guess you never can predict the vagaries of
During Patricia's pregnancy, we wondered if the child would
take after her mother or her father in looks, and if she took
after me, whether she would inherit my original appearance
or my chemically-induced color and furriness. But the baby
girl's skin is neither pink nor blue, but a yellow as bright
as a ripe quince. Her limbs are finely shaped, and her hands
and feet are of normal size, not like the ones I was born
with. The face -- well, new-born babies' faces have a tendency
to resemble squashed raisins, but I'm sure she'll grow into
a beauty the moment I look at her. Of course as the father
I am a bit prejudiced.
For a while I am taken up with making the kind of noises
grown-ups make around little babies and then are deeply embarrassed
that they actually made them. Then at last Scott, Jean, Dani
and Herc get their chance to look at little Josephine and
fawn over her for a while. And I can sneak off to Patricia's
For a moment I can't think of what to say -- that's the problem
for someone who loves to use florid speech every day, when
there's a really special occasion such as now, I'm not only
stumped for choice, but I also worry that I sound as if I'm
trying to make a joke. But our kiss and embrace communicates
my feelings as well as my words could. Trish's hand goes through
my hair as she holds me tight. Jean sighs when she notices
what we're doing, she's whispering something to her husband,
and Scott smiles.
So much for our intimate moment, but on the other hand we
feel great about sharing happy moments like this with friends.
There's few people with whom I've been as close for as long
as Scotty and Jean. A pity Bobby and Warren aren't here too,
but unfortunately they're half a world away on a mission with
the Gold Team. Maybe Trish and I, and little Josephine (I
still have to get familiar with the thought that I'm now part
of a bona fide three-part family) will already have returned
to our apartment by the time they get back.
Trish has us tell all about our adventures in Maine, and
she gives us the gory details of her day. She and Jean compare
notes, but that is cut short when the phone rings. It's Trish's
sister, who had already called earlier but who, unlike the
rest of our extended family, did not want to wait until tomorrow
to extend her felicitations to me as well. Martha's already
bubbling spirits rise even more when I let slip that Hercules
is with us. He and Martha met during Trish's hen night, where
he provided the ecdysiastical entertainment, and though they
apparently don't meet all that often, they have a certain
fondness for each other. So soon her friend has to retire
into a corner with the telephone. Out of consideration for
the mother and baby, Herc keeps his voice down, even the volume
of his normally raucous laughter (which otherwise might have
woken patients three floors down).
But now Josephine is laid to bed in her cot, and, half-asleep
when I got here, she does not take long to fall into slumber.
So as not to disturb her, we continue our conversation in
a hoarse whisper.
"Well, from now on you'll have to share me with Josephine,"
she says, "and not just for what you like to think about."
She furtively looks down to her chest.
"But oh light of my life, in years to come you too will have
to share me with her."
"Careful what you say, oh gin in my Martini, I may take you
up a lot on that when she needs help with her with
her homework." Trish grins. Then her thoughts go back to the
morning. "To think this all began because I went to see Mary
Jane and her new children."
"And what do they look like?"
"Geena and Felix look quite nice, if decidedly average compared
to our own child," Trish says with a deadpan expression. I
chuckle happily, but then I remember my hasty promise to Peter.
"If you're going to the Parkers now, you'd better make it
quick," Trish suggests.
"But what if Peter's already gone? I'd hate to wake Mary
Jane or the babies."
"Don't worry Hank, I'll go with you," says Jean. "I can sense
if it's okay for you to knock. And it's time we left and gave
poor Trish some rest, anyway."
I reluctantly agree, but Trish insists I come back. "I'm
still too wound up to sleep, and I'd really like some quality
time alone with my husband," she tells the others as they
tiptoe out. And when Herc rises from it, I see that Trish
thoughtfully had another bed brought into her room so I could
"See you later, darling," I say as I follow the others out.
I'm still a little dazed though, as the full impact of today's
happy event sinks in. My life and Trish's will never be the
same now that we're parents. We're not clairvoyant, we have
no way of knowing how we will change because of Josephine,
and maybe the other children who might come after. But I always
like to look at the bright side of things, as does Trish,
so we'll approach it with a spirit of adventure.
Should you keep track of the Twilight Menshevik timeline,
The Ballad of Trish and Henry is set circa May or June,
1999 (Hank mentions Hope Cooper, who was born 18 April, 1999),
the epilogue a year later.
The characters are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics with the
exception of Hope Cooper, Herb, Harmonee, Josephine McCoy,
Felix and Geena Parker, and Martha Tilby, who are mine.
This story was first published in Tales
of the Twilight Menshevik: The Second Collection, which
was produced for the 150th mailing of the MZS-APA in December
2000. The MZS-APA has a website at http://users.ev1.net/~skullduggery/
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