**Standard Mice Disclaimer**
Mice is in no way associated with the Marvel Comics Group. She is merely trying to write a story and this is all she has to show for it. A noble effort. Though she would one day like to be paid for writing, please don't send her any money (send mail to urmonkeyifudo@yeahright.com on instructions to send her money). Bobby Drake, Jubilee, Hank McCoy, etc, do not belong to her, but to the Marvel Comics Group. Annie Peckenpaugh, Nan, and Harpo Lubbock are of her own mind. Any archiving of this story that is unaware of her attention will be ily received (Read: Tiki Curse). If you e-mail her, explain your intentions to archive the story and address of your archive, she will be MORE than gracious and will probably do something nice for you, like bake you brownies, not to mention permission to archive the story. In truth, she just wants to know where she can drool over the sight with her name. *G* If you want to e-mail her comments (read: FEEDBACK), do it at mice5k@hotmail.com. Good or bad, you'll still probably get some brownies out of the deal, but it's not really that great of a reward because she can't cook.

When in Rome
by Mice

Chapter 7


"Well, aren't you going to model them, Hank?"

"Jean, they are tiny and satin and in no way is it going to find it's way on my derrière."

"Your uniform is comprised of just as much material," Jean pointed out as she continued to swish around the male lingerie in her hands.

"I have a belt. The belt helps." The argument had made perfect sense in his head, but upon saying it out loud, Hank McCoy saw the toothpicks his theory was built on.

"Give them to Bobby. Bobby will wear anything distasteful."

With the mention of Bobby, Hank nodded his head once. "I'm glad he and Annie are together. They make a good match."

"You almost said that with no trace of bitterness. You want to try again?"

"I'm being honest, Jean. Annie's a silly girl who's thoughts turn to a more simple breed of man ... and who better than my best companion? My little buddy?" Hank shrugged as he swiped back his satin thong. "Besides, I am casually seeing the delightful Emily Clay-Poole who dotes on me and gives me wonderful gifts. Life is wonderful, Jean. Everything is exactly as it should be."

Jean shook her head. "Except that your panties are nicer than mine."


Annie groaned as the music played and began to teeter from one side to another on her ice skates. "For crying out loud, Bobby, I think you requested more songs by Duran Duran than what they actually put out!"

Bobby pouted, his features untouched by the cold that plagued Annie‘s usually ruddy face and the unfortunate twin peaks on her chest. For Bobby, the ice rink was the premiere place to take his dates. "They must play View to a Kill. And Save a Prayer."

"I hate Save a Prayer," she flatly replied before rubbing her nose again, causing the redness to spread. She sat down to give the huge blisters that were forming on her feet a rest. Lord, how she hated the ice rink.

"Take that back."

"I hate that song, Bobby. I can't stand it. It's too long and there's nothing to it."

"Take that back."

Annie stared at Bobby, waiting for him to smile and give her a quick hug. None of that was about to happen. "It's just a band, Bobby..."

"And I suppose you think the music of the Barenaked Ladies is just cute, too."

"It's okay."

Bobby groaned. "I suppose you're going to tell me that your favorite band is Heart. Your favorite band is Heart, isn't it? Dear God, my girlfriend likes Heart!"

Annie stared down at her skates. "Ann Wilson has an incredible voice."

Bobby brought his head to his hands and shook. "Tell me that you have no Wilson-Phillips in your collection ... please, Annie, just say no to Chyna..."

"I have both albums actually."

"Tape or CD?"

"Both. Hank upgraded me."


Just then, Save a Prayer played over the rink.



"So, then, I thought for my campaign posters, I'm going to have this really pretty green and blue color scheme with stripes. They'll be eye catching, but not too aggressive. What do you think, Jubilee?"

"I think I just wasted half an hour of my glorious teenage years on you again, Guthrie." Jubilee got up to leave her room. "I gotta go."

"Jubilee, this election is very important to me! If I win, I'll be president of a large and prestigious boarding school. Brown University will just want to eat me up next fall!"

"What happened to the whole, 'I want to lead the X-Men' dream?"

"I did some research and concluded that I do not meet the height requirement."

Jubilee blinked at her roommate. It was something she did a lot when she didn't understand Paige Guthrie's logic. This was 392 for the day.

"Life falls in patterns, Jubilee. It makes things efficient. The more clearly we see the patterns in others, the clearer we can see the patterns within ourselves so we can change them for the better instead of the worse."

393. "Where the hell did you get this shit, Guthrie?"

Paige held up a worn book called, "Science as Karma: The Actual and Factual Cycles of Life" by a Dr. E. Clay-Poole.


"Annie?" Hank called out into Bobby's room. He settled himself down onto Bobby's bed and stared at some of his best friends impressive action figure collection. He picked up a Chewbacca, Han Solo, and the semi-precious stone that was Leia in the gold bikini figure. "Hello," the Han figure told Leia. "My name is Bobby Drake and I think you're dumb. I don't like you." Chewbacca went up next. "Hello, I'm Henry and I'm a Virgo. I have a PhD, a Nobel Prize, and I can cook." Leia looked at Chewbacca. "Wow, Henry! You sure are nifty, but Bobby thinks I'm dumb! Tee hee! I think I'll go out with him!"

"You may want to start with someone who doesn't have as many standards as Leia, Hank ... Emperor Mego over there may agree to coffee..."

Startled, Hank threw the action figures into a pile of clothes before collecting himself. "Warren, greetings. Funny meeting you here in Robert's room."

"The same, overly formal one." Warren went over and sat on the bed with Hank. "Am I just not seeing it?"

"Seeing what, Warren?"

"I mean, the girl is cute and that's about it. She's amusing ... she's smart enough ... but there's not much else."

"I'm afraid I don't get you, Warren."

"Why in the world are you and Bobby so hot for this one girl? He did it, and now you figure, "What the hell? Bobby's doing it, why not me?""

Hank rolled his eyes. "I am not! I have a woman friend whom I am seeing on a casual basis--"

"You're screwing Emily Clay-Poole just so Annie can bend her knee comfortably."

"Listen to me, Warren. Annie is my student--"

"Who your best friend is now heavily interested in. And now you're interested. You guys always do this."

"Do what?"

Warren smiled. "Do you remember when you started dating Vera? What was the first thing Bobby did?"

"He asked her friend Zelda out."

"Right. When I was dating ... ah, what's-her-face ... one of the Arquette sisters ... I don't remember which, I can never tell Rosanna and Patricia apart ... anyway, when I was dating one, Bobby didn't try to date the other. But when you started dating, Bobby started dating."

"That means nothing. When all of us left the X-Men, he went with you to form the Champions."

"Only after he tried for the Avengers."

Hank blinked. "Bobby was never an Avenger."

"I never said he was. I said he tried to be. They turned him down. They didn't think he'd be an asset of any kind. He was so upset, he came out with me to Los Angeles."

"I didn't know that..."

"And Bobby hates Twinkies. He really loathes them. He only started eating them to be like you. And remember when you went and started to date Trish? Remember what Bobby did? He went out and found someone just as annoying to date, just so he could be like you."

"So far, you've only given me examples of what Bobby's done to be like me."

"Well, up until now, you had everything he wanted. Now he has what he wants. And now, you want what he has." Warren began to smirk as he got up off the bed. "Remember that pool you, Bobby, and I had about Scott and Jean? Who would ask who out first? Who'd make the first move, etc?" Hank nodded slowly, trying to keep up with his friend. "We've already started one about you, Annie, and Bobby. "

"I don't follow."

"Hank, of all the things you and Bobby have done, you've never fallen for the same girl. This is going to be interesting." With that, Warren left the room.

"I HAVE a woman friend who I am seeing on a casual basis!" Hank reminded his friend as he left. He picked up the nearest action figure to signify it. "She's smart, she's respected, and she's--" Hank looked at the action figure in his hand. "She's Jabba the Hut."


Annie limped feebly into the restaurant.

"I would have carried you in, Annie."

"I would have loved to see you try, short man."

"I'm 5'10!"

"In the waking world that we all inhabit?"

They sat on a bench, waiting to be seated. "I still would have carried you in." Bobby grabbed her hand gently and placed it in his lap to hold. "I'm sorry that skating didn't work out, Annie."

"It just hurts a lot."

"I know, I just wasn't thinking..."

Annie frowned as she put her head on Bobby's shoulder. "I know you don't understand about my knee ... a lot of people think it's just something so frivolous, especially compared to whatever you and your friends deal with, but it hurts me. It interferes directly with my life every day. Some days, I have to crawl out of bed because it hurts so bad. Some days are better than others, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Having Hank arrange that surgery for this Friday was probably the best thing that's happened to me all year."

With that, Bobby let go of her hand. "Oh. I'm sorry."

She sighed, frustrated. "Do you always have to be so sensitive?"

"Well, my girlfriend is more excited about going to the hospital than going out with me, am I supposed to be happy?"

"Stop calling me that."

"Stop calling you what?"

"I'm not your girlfriend."

"Oh." Bobby ran his fingers through his hair. "Oh."

"We had sex, Bobby, it doesn't mean we now have a commitment ... I like you, I really do," Annie explained, not moving from her previous position.

"It's just that you love Hank." Annie hit Bobby. "What was that for?!"

"I didn't say anything about Hank. This has nothing to do with Hank. This has to do with what we did and how we're going to deal with it."


"So then she's all, "Ooh, aren't my posters pretty? And I read this book that says that if I eat only carrots and garbanzos beans at 2 p.m., a rainbow will burst through my ass!" and I'm all, "Yeah. Sure." You'd think after a few years at this school, I'd get a new roommate, but no." Jubilee sighed into the phone. "Harpo thinks that I should do something. I asked him what, and he said that I've already thought about it and I need to realize the idea myself instead of having someone else point it out to me. It'll make the idea that much more precious, or something. He said something really sweet and Harpo, and all I could think about was that if he were here, we'd so be making out after that, but he's still in Texas and it sucks. It sucks, Nan. It just sucks."

"Have you thought about it, Billie?"

"About what? What I'm going to do? I guess talk to Mr. Cassidy about a new roommate--"

"What's your GPA right now?"


"Are you a leader?"

"Well, yeah, naturally."

"Are you a better dresser than her?"

"That goes without saying. Why are you asking me all this, Nan?"

"Just making sure my Billie is going to be able to do all the extra-curricular activities she wants this year. Some things have a minimum GPA, you know."

"So where does style come into it?"

"I want to make sure you look better, that's all. Looking good is half the battle. Look at the election 2000 -- if Gore had grown a goatee and showed a bit more of his style, there would have been no mistake about who would be in the White House right now. Clinton had style. That's why there was no other choice. I miss Clinton, I really do."

The wheels turned slowly in her head as her call waiting beeped. "Hold on, Nan..." She clicked over. "Hello?"

"Now that you've made your initial decision, can Ah be your campaign manager?"


"I want a hamburger, medium rare -- I love it when the middle is still pink. I want Swiss and real cheddar cheese dripping off of it with three strips of grease drizzling bacon and a small colony of grilled onions and mushrooms. I want my fries done well -- so well that the potatoes weep for its fate. After that, I want a piece of cherry pie heated with a scoop -- no, two scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. To drink, I want beer. I don't know why, but I just want something thick, heady, and that I haven't had in a while. It's a weird feeling. That's what I want."

"She'll have the soup and a glass of water."

"I know that, but he asked me what I wanted, not what I could have ... big difference, Bobby." Annie rolled her eyes and folded the menu back up.

"If you want something sweet, I'll let you have one of those peppermints after dinner."

"Gee, thank you, Saint Drake."

"You're just cranky because you haven't eaten decent food in three days."

"Sharp as a tack, Bobby, that's what you are."

The waiter winced at their exchange and cleared his throat. Annie sensed the tension that was rising all over the restaurant since she and Bobby had gotten there. Arguing about where to eat at the rink was bad, the bickering in the car on the way to Harry's was unnerving, but this was just pathetic.

"Soup and water." Annie nodded to the waiter and he left quickly. She then turned her head back to Bobby who was seated in front of her. "Do you remember the part in my life where I broke off a nine-year relationship?"

Bobby nodded, chastised by his almost-girlfriend. "But I thought that you were over it and--"

Annie shook her head and took his hand. "That man ... no matter how much he hurt me ... I loved him, Bobby and I'm still getting over it." Her teeth found the top part of her bottom lip and she began to gnaw gently on it, in desperate search of something to say to make him understand. She only found a familiar salty taste instead. "Have you ever been in love, Bobby?"

"Sure I have."

"I mean really in love, Bobby, where the other person loved you and there was a form of strong commitment. Have you ever been in a relationship?"

Bobby shook his head no. "I've been in love, but all my relationships pretty much fizzle out."

"Do you find it easy to fall in love?"

He looked her directly into her eyes, as if to almost accuse her. "When it's the right girl, it's the simplest thing to do."

"I don't, Bobby. With Lindsay, it was easy. Ever since he asked me out, everything was so easy, whether it be going out, talking, or even putting up with his cheating. It was easy -- almost no effort on my part. When I broke off the engagement, I felt like a lot of weight had been lifted off of me. Weight that I've been carrying around for a long time. And when you start saying that I'm your girlfriend, that weight comes back and it's not as easy to put on as it was before. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"I'm burdening you."

"You're suffocating me. Bobby, all we did was sleep together when we were both drunk when we were both pretty weak. It's not like we love each other."

Bobby looked at her with wet eyes. "But I do love you."


Scott Summers pulled up a patch of land next to one of his oldest friends. "Hank?"

"I'm dating Jabba the Hutt." Hank turned to Scott in hopes of words of wisdom to pour out of his happily married mouth.

"Bitches, man."

"Pardon moi?"

Scott shook his head. "Bitches. You go from Trish Tilby to Emily Clay-Poole. Hank, what were you thinking?"

"You're getting a kick from being part of the pool, aren't you?"

"Damn straight." Scott took a dramatic moment and sighed. "You know what the easiest part of being married is, Hank? I know Jean's moods. I know Jean. I've spent a good deal of time learning how to deal with Jean, and I know that there is no one that could handle Jean more than me. And I know that I couldn't handle anyone else but Jean. Those times when Jean was dead and I went looking for another relationship ... those were hard times. I knew how Jean reacted, what Jean wanted. I didn't want to devote anymore time into learning another woman's system."

"And then there are the pancakes."

"And then there are the pancakes." He turned to Hank. "Do you want to get used to Emily Clay-Poole's system? You need to decide that now, Hank, before you get roped in."

"Emily won't let me eat pancakes."

Scott clucked his tongue. "Bitches, man. Bitches."


"Annie, that was phenomenal!"

Annie basked and blushed in her praise and if she could have, she would have done a dance. Praise from Hank McCoy was the kind she looked forward to the most. He'd even pat her on the head affectionately. If only this praise wasn't for the fact that she could now take apart and assemble back into working order a multitude of machinery that populated the mansion.

"Don't be so modest, you and your abilities are growing at an alarming rate! It's wonderful!" He grabbed her up in a hug. "No more blushing."

"What's so bad with blushing," she said, trying hard not to bury herself into Hank's silky and furry arm. "You do it all the time."

"Do not."

"Fur or no fur, Hank, I can always tell when you blush."

Hank began to break out in nervous titters as he separated himself from Annie. "I find that very distressing."

"Don't worry ... I don't think anyone else notices ... unless you do that, 'Aw, shucks, ma'm, t'ain't nothin' to it' routine." Annie smiled, looking up at him with shining eyes. "I'll keep it my little secret."

"Thank you, Annie." Hank returned the smile back to his student. "Are you all set for tomorrow?"

Annie's head nodded at rocket speed. "I have my bag packed and I've only eaten the things Dr. Clay-Poole allowed for the past twenty-four hours."

Hank scratched his head. "She gave you a list of foods?"

"Yeah ... they're really weird and they all smell like horse spit. Tastes about the same, too."

Hank's mouth turned into a grim frown. "Damn Emily and her macrobiotic conversions ... I'm surprised you haven't thrown up, by now."

"I didn't say I didn't," she groaned, face now turning as green as her eyes.

"I can't believe you stuck to that diet either, considering Bobby and his eating habits."

The name had been said for the first time since she and Hank had returned to their regular sessions. They had been interrupted by various so-called "salons" with Emily Clay-Poole. Hank had remained very tightlipped about those sessions, not even telling Bobby.

"You couldn't have chosen a better guy, Annie." Hank turned away and began to scribble data all over a clipboard, which mainly consisted of the Mentos jingle.

"Hank, Bobby and I are ... well, we're not dating."

His head made no movement. "Annie, no need to play it down, the entire mansion is buzzing about it."

Annie stamped her foot. "Well, they shouldn't!"

Hank's thin congratulations melted into genuine concern. "Annie, what happened?"

She tasted that familiar saltiness in her mouth once more before speaking. "He just really pushed it, Hank ... we made a mistake and he called it love and I just couldn't take that. It's too soon, you know?" She looked up to Hank with two, pleading green eyes. "I just can't imagine falling in love with anyone so soon ... it's just so hard and I don't know if I'm ready for it again."

"Do you love him?"

Annie shrugged. "I don't think so. Bobby's great--"

"Bobby's the best."

Annie nodded as Hank went into a cabinet by his desk. "But not for me. He's not the person for me. I need someone different, Hank, I need--"

He withdrew two wine glasses and a wine bottle. "A drink?"



It was nights like these that made Jean Grey-Summers want to change her name.

"C'mon, Jean! Let me in!"

"The door is open, Bobby, just let yourself in."

"I can't, my arms are full."

Jean took a telepathic look outside. Bobby stood there with arms full of sugary badness. Two containers of cookie dough ice cream, chocolate syrup, brownies, a shrimp cocktail pack (definitely a Bobby-Jean thing), a six pack of Pepsi, and a jar of what seemed to be edible white chocolate body paint. She decided not to question that one.

She grabbed her robe and opened the door. "Bobby, what happened?"

"I'm a loser, Jean. I fall in love, give it my all, and then they tell me that they don't want me."


Bobby nodded. "She said she wanted some time to think and clear her head about Wyoming and her studies and that I was only blocking her from growing. In other words, she dumped me."

"Bobby, I'm sure that given a little time--"

Bobby grabbed up two spoons for each of the cookie dough ice cream. "No, Jean. This has happened for the last time. I want to be in love, Jean! I'm good at being in love and romancing women ... did you know I drew her? She posed nude for me to draw her?"

Jean blinked a few times before answering. She took the other container and spoon and began to eat. "You draw?"



"Well ... sometimes ... "

"Are you any good?"

Bobby withdrew a copy from his back pocket. "This is what I drew."

Jean quickly unfolded it and gaped at what she saw. "Bobby..."

"Don't call me a pervert, okay? A lot of people do this--"

"I was going to say that is was incredible. You have a lot of talent."

"Yeah, for an accountant..."

"No, you just have a lot of talent..." Jean carefully sat the picture down on the counter as she continued in on her ice cream. "Bobby, how come you never showed us anything?"

He shrugged. "It's not the kind of thing you share with friends ... it would be kind of gay, don't you think?"

"What else do you draw?"

"Well, anything..."

Jean nodded as she licked her spoon. She had an idea. "We're going to get you out of this depression, Bobby Drake ... just you wait."

"You're going to mind control Annie into loving me?"

"Now that's just sophomoric. Do you think I'm some kind of jezebel?" She put an arm around him and held him. "Besides, if Annie has any brains, she'll come back. She's probably just scared right now, is all."

Bobby nodded. "Yeah ... we were both drunk when everything happened ... it probably just loosened her up too much. She'll come back when she's ready ... and speaking of ready, I'm ready for some shrimp, how about you?"

Jean grinned brilliantly. "Try and stop me."


Hank fast forwarded to his favorite song on the CD player. He looked at Annie who was collapsed on his computer chair who smiled up at him.

"Why is it when you play this song, all the hairs on my neck go up?" Annie cooed as she laid her glass of wine, her third of the evening, on the desk and got up to dance. "It's almost like you want to sleep with me."

Hank smiled and sipped his own wine, the only glass he had that evening, as he watched Annie go off in her own world.

"But you wouldn't would you, Hank? It's probably never even crossed your mind."

"I wouldn't say that, Annie."

Annie stopped in mid-twirl and looked at him. "Are you saying you would?"

"Are you saying I wouldn't?" Hank let out a small chuckle as he reached around Annie's waist and pulled her into a hug. "You're drunk."

"And you should kiss me."

He stroked her hair a little bit before letting her go. "Very drunk." Hank began to walk away to grab her wine when her voiced pierced through the music. Not because of the loudness of her voice or any shrill tone that might have existed, but it was the word itself that ripped it's way through the noise.


With that simple word, Hank felt a tug at his heart and couldn't quite find it in himself to turn around just yet. She was begging.

"Hank, please. Right now, I'm so drunk that I won't remember it ... "

Like a common dog.

Hank put down his glass, turned, and walked up to her, placing his hands on either side of her face with gentle care. Her eyes slightly bulged as she realized what he was about to do.

"You beg, Annie. And begging makes you less desirable." His lips went out to kiss the tip of her nose in a friendly approach and then slowly made their way to her top lip, to which Hank tugged playfully with his. His tongue traced her lower lip, brushing her mouth open just enough to give her a kiss that would remain crystalline in her mind, well after the fog of alcohol left her mind and picture perfect in her already perfect memory.

The End

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