(un)frozen

**Standard "This gets bigger with every go around" 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 and Hank McCoy do not belong to her, but to the Marvel Comics Group. Annie Peckenpaugh and family 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, youíll still probably get some brownies out of the deal, but itís not really that great of a reward because she canít cook.
Author's Note: This is part of a larger series called, "Everyone Says I Love You" (Are the Marx Brother references getting through yet? *G*). It's mook-lite, honest! Where can you find the rest of the series? Why, at Alyson Hurt's (un)frozen!
And SPEAKING of Alyson Hurt ... this is the very much due Birthday Fic that should have been out on ... oh ... August 8th. So it's two months later. It's the thought that counts, right? *cricket sounds* Right?
So, for the best archivist, good friend, and possessor of just a kick ass name, Happy Belated Birthday, Alyson Hurt!


The Wyoming Pie
by Mice

"What do you want, Mary? Do you want the moon? If you want it, I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down for you. Hey! That's a pretty good idea! I'll give you the moon, Mary."

"Annie, turn that crap off!"

"Come on, Lindsey, it's Christmas!"

"I don't care if Jimmy Stewart himself comes waltzing in here, I don't like that movie!"

"Fine, I'll turn it off!" Annie hit the off button the remote control before returning to filling up the sugar dispensers on the counters. "Wish you were that annoyed with these damn dancing Santa's Peyton's got by the windows..."

As if on cue, one of the customers activated a Hip Hop Santa. "I say 'Ho', HO! A HO-HO-HO!"

"One other thing, Annie, use your damn ticket pad!"

"I do!"

"Yes, for Celande in the kitchen, but not to ring up orders. You just stick a number there and I don't know if it's right or not because you don't write anything down!"

"Lindsey, I told you, I don't need to!"

"And I'm telling you that you do!"

Annie walked up to her boss, nose to collar bone. "You see the elderly couple over there, Lindsey? The lady, Eleanor, had the tuna melt on rye with a side of unsalted fries while the gent, Elmer, had the chicken fingers with a side of home fries, grilled extra brown, white gravy on the side. They are both drinking coffee. She takes three sugars and one creamer. He likes two Sweet and Lows, plus one packet of Equal, and two creamers. They have been here for twenty-seven minutes and fifty-four seconds. Their total is $11.58, but Eleanor at the beginning asked me if we had any apple pie in the back, which leads me to believe that she might want dessert, which the total will then be $14.08, with tax it'll be $14.78, and my tip will be $3.00. I know that's twenty percent and not fifteen, but let me assure you, Lindsey, that I am THAT good." Annie collected herself as she got out wet rag and began to wash down the counter. "Would you like to hear about table seven?"

Lindsey took one look at table seven, who currently held the same number. "I think I'll pass." Annie beamed. "I still want you to use your ticket pad, Annie."

Annie growled as she went back to the sugar. "So, how much longer before you let us all off for the night?"

"Just a couple of more hours, Annie. We got one more bus that's coming through." Lindsey made his way over to Annie and put his arm around her waist and kissed her neck. "Don't worry, I'll see that the boss'll let you out early."

Annie rolled her eyes. "I think you're letting this whole "boss" thing go to your head."

"You think, Annie?" Mick Columbus, nee Brodie, nee Darling, rolled her eyes at her cousin. "But you gotta admit, honey, this guy's a lot better to stare at than his old man." A well placed hand on Lindsey's ass on her part reassured him of that fact.

"Mick, for God's sake, child, you're still a married woman!" Peyton Brodie yelled before going back into the kitchen.

"Only for two more days, Mom, and then the divorce is final!"

"And there'll only be about three more weeks until the next wedding," Celande Brodie grumped from the kitchen.

Jersey Brodie clucked his tongue as he went into the kitchen with a cart full of dirty dishes. "I'm hoping it'll be more like four and a half, Granny..." His family turned to stare at him. "I'm in a pool! If she does it in four and a half, I win a grand!"

Celande whacked him in the knee with a ladle. "You should have bet three weeks. Have I taught you nothing about gambling? Trust me, I know about these things, Jersey, I haven't been in Gamblers Anonymous seven times and came out knowing nothin'..."

"You better clean that ladle before you put it back in the gravy, Cel!"

"Kiss my ass, Frat Boy."


"Warren is a dead man."

"You didn't have to come, Robert."

Bobby Drake jerked his head back to his best friend. "And face yet another Christmas party with my parents at the Grischowsy's?" Bobby sighed. "Warren is still dead. A dead meany head."

"It's just a bus."

"Yeah, well you noticed how Warren just had to miss the bus and hired a driver to take him to Colorado, while in the meantime, we're stuck on this ... this..."

"Bus?"

"Hank, you always know the right thing to say..."

Hank McCoy chuckled as he opened up a package of peanut butter cookies he had bought at the last stop. "Cookie, Bobby?"

Bobby took one and bit into it bitterly. "How much further to Colorado?"

"Quite a few more hours."

"I hope Warren is attacked by the Frog."


"...and then you should have seen the look on the doctor's face when he said that he had never seen an infection leak that much in his life! It just kept oozing and oozing ... well, anyway, enjoy the bread pudding!" Peyton smiled and walked back to the cash register.

"Peyton, could you please refrain from the human body gross out stories?"

"Annie, the more stories I tell, the more people will get sick and will want to leave..." Peyton winked at her. "Look, kid, roller derby is on and I don't want to miss much more than I already have, okay?

Annie sighed to herself as her aunt went back into the kitchen. "Roller derby is playing on Christmas Eve ... we're SO going to hell..."

"Hey, Annie, pay attention!"

"Sorry, Lindsey!"

Lindsey placed a hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes. "Annie ... we're at work, and at work, you call me Mr. Porney, okay?"

"But your father--"

"My father's gone, Annie, and there's nothing we can do about it. Now, get back to work."

Annie bit her lip as Lindsey walked away. "You're father's in Borneo, Porno..."

"Yes!" Mick shrieked as she saw the bus come in. "We are almost out of here!"


"We're stopping at the Prairie Inn Truck Stop for about forty-five minutes, please be back on the bus by then. Merry Christmas."

"I don't like that guy, Hank."

"Bobby, at this point, I don't believe that there is a single thing you like about buses ... let me guess, in your childhood, you had a traumatic experience dealing with one?"

"Let's just say that my route went through bus drivers like Murphy Brown did secretaries."

Bobby and Hank exited out of the bus and out into the snow, where Bobby finally smiled as he felt the snow cling to him.

Hank sighed as he grabbed his best friend by a handful of jacket and pulled him into the Truck Stop.

"Oh, the bull horns just scream class..."

"You know what really sets the room off? The Jackalope."

"But have you seen the carpeting? Yellow, green, orange, and red? I simply MUST remember it for the next time I re-do my room."

"If you boys are done, do you think you'd like to take a seat?" Peyton growled while maintaining a smile as she passed them by.

Bobby and Hank quietly found a table and sat at it. "Okay, there goes her tip..."

"I'm afraid my aunt isn't going to be waiting on you, two, I will," Annie stated as she reluctantly got out her ticket book. "And considering that it's Christmas Eve and we are all stuck in here together, and I know for a fact that your next stop isn't for another one hundred miles, and it is snowing rather hard out there, so I'd suggest you tip. BIG. Or I can ask my grandmother there in the kitchen to cook you two something up real special." Annie got out her pen and smiled brightly. "What can I get you boys to start off with?"

The two smiled in silence.

"Come on, I was only joking ... I'm a waitress, a far, far cry from "voodoo priestess"..." The two remained silent. "Besides, I know this place would give Christopher Lowell a stroke."

"Coffee."

"Hot chocolate."

Annie grinned. "Good, good ... I'll be right back."

As their waitress left, Bobby pouted at Hank. "I wanna go back on the bus, Hank."


"Missy?"

"I am not 'Missy', I have a name!" Annie pointed to her name tag. "Ann-E. As in, 'Get Your Gun'. No foreign accents or tricky vowels, just like it says. Ann-E."

The couple looked at their waitress in horror.

"We were talking to our daughter ... Melissa..."

Annie hid her head in her hands as a little girl waved to her. "I am so sorry..."

"It's all right, we understand. Long day, huh?"

"Annie!" Lindsey yelled.

"You have no idea..." Annie stuffed her ticket pad back in her apron as she went to Lindsey.

"My office, Miss Peckenpaugh. Now."

"You don't have an office, Lin--OW! You pinched me!"

Lindsey motioned her into the janitor's closet and closed the door behind him. "Annie, what is your problem tonight?"

Annie huffed. "My problem? My problem is that it's Christmas Eve and I'm here. Not at home with my family watching roller derby and nibbling on stale peanut brittle."

"Most of your family is here, Annie--"

Annie glared at him. "You don't want me to start on that."

Lindsey wrapped his arms around her. "Annie, this will all be over soon. After the bus leaves, and after we give the place a good cleaning up, we can all go home and enjoy the day."

"By the time the bus leaves and we clean up, it'll be New Years!" Annie broke away from Lindsey and began to try to open the door. "God damn it! You need to get this door fixed, Lindsey! We're bound to get locked in here one day--ah!" With one final slam, the door opened. Annie walked out of the closet and shouted, "I quit!"

"Annie, you can't quit!"

Annie took off her apron and threw it at Lindsey. "I just did!"

Lindsey grabbed her on her arm and spoke in low, harsh tones. "Annie, you're being illogical! If you quit your job here, who will take you? Name one place in town that will hire you!"

Annie frowned as she tried to break free. "I'll leave, then. Go off to Cheyenne."

"And live on your own on a waitress's salary? Come on, Annie!"

"Who says I'd be a waitress?"

Lindsey laughed. "Annie, you've never been to college! You barely graduated high school!"

"I almost went to college...!"

"Almost doesn't count Annie ... and the only reason you almost went to college was because of an athletic scholarship." Lindsey touched her knee in a place that made Annie wince in pain. "But you lost it. Besides, Annie, who'd hire a mutant? Lindsey handed Annie back her apron as he let his trump card stand.

"That's not fair, Lindsey ... that is so not fair. You know you're the only person who knows about the ... uh ... thing ... I mean, not even my grandma knows..." Annie mumbled, not able to move right away.

"Go back to work, Annie. Sooner we're done with these people, the sooner we can exchange gifts, okay?" Lindsey kissed her quickly on the cheek as he walked away.

Annie placed a hand on her cheek as she watched him leave. "Why do I put up with you, Lindsey Porney?"

Turning into the main room of the restaurant, Annie's eyes went to the bus driver of the last bus who was trying to get everyone's attention. Annie's eyebrows narrowed as she noticed that whatever the news was, the bus driver was not happy about it. "Oh, Christ, not this, not now..."

"I'm afraid I have some bad news..."


"Hank, tell me that the bus driver didn't say what he just said!"

Hank just shook his head. "I cannot believe this..."

Annie walked quickly in exacting steps as she made her way back to the counter. "I will plow those roads myself if it means I can get out of here!"

"Annie, calm down, it'll be all right..." Celande cooed to her granddaughter. "It'll all be over soon, Annie..."

"Annie, table twelve wants more coffee!" Peyton shouted.

"Ugh!"

"Annie take a few deep breaths before you go over there."

"I'm fine!"

"Last time you said that, you poured honey down Lindsey's pants. I don't want to imagine what you'd do to the customers."

Annie composed herself before she grabbed a pot of coffee, gave her grandmother a quick hug, and sped over to table twelve. "Isn't this you're eleventh cup?"

"I am comprised of seventy percent coffee. I need to replenish my precious bodily fluids as much as possible."

Annie smiled for the first time in an hour as she poured. "I gotta ask ... where are you two from?"

"New York."

Annie's eyes went wide. "Really? New York?"

"State. My friend and I are from Westchester."

"Hey, it isn't Wyoming..." Annie continued smiling for a few more moments before sticking out her hand. "I'm Annie, by the way."

"Hank," he answered warmly while taking her hand.

"Joey-Jo-Jo Blutowski."

The table vibrated as Hank kicked Bobby.

"Bobby."

Annie blushed. "Sorry, it's just that we don't get a lot of East Coast people here..."

"Understandable. Would you like to sit down?"

Annie blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You look like you could use a break, would you like to sit down?"

Annie looked around to see if Lindsey was around before sitting and smiled when she saw that the coast was clear. "So, what business are you two in?"

"Well, I'm a doctor--"

"Like a medical doctor?"

"In some ways, yes."

Annie poured herself a cup of coffee. "Wow. And what do you do, Bobby?"

"I'm an accountant."

"Oh. Okay."

Bobby narrowed his eyes. "I'm sure it isn't as fabulous as waitressing--"

"Hey, I didn't set out for this life!" Annie snapped. "I was supposed to be in college."

"Really?" Hank asked. "What happened?"

"I was supposed to be going to Western State University in California on an athletic scholarship, but I injured my knee real bad and had to stay here. I'm working here so I can save up for surgery."

"What did you do to your knee?"

Annie shrugged. "It was like any other game, and this girl just come barreling into me--"

"What game is this?"

"Softball. I play catcher." Annie took a sip of coffee before continuing. "So, anyway, Blackie throws me the ball from left field, and I catch it. It's beautiful. I'm wearing this shit eating grin on my face because we were undefeated at the time. Well, the batter, Slaughter? She doesn't realize that she's out, so she comes barreling into me, knocking the wind outta me and hurting my knee. The result? I'm off the team for the rest of senior year, I lose my scholarship, and I can't play the game anymore."

"So I take it you were good?"

Annie laughed. "I was better than good! I have the blood ... my father once played for the Yankees."

"Your father was a Yankee?!" Bobby bolted upright in his seat, suddenly paying attention. "What year? What position?"

"1974-78. Catcher."

Bobby thought for a bit and then grinned. "Frankie Peckenpaugh? You're Frankie Peckenpaugh's daughter?!"

Annie beamed. "You heard of him?"

"I've heard of everyone who's ever played for the Yankees, who's even had the passing dream of being a Yankee, everyone who possesses a Yankee cap, I know of them...!" Bobby laughed ecstatically. "Hey, I'm sorry about being such a jerk to you all night ... I didn't know you were practically royalty!"

"Yeah, yeah..." Annie giggled. "Me and the queen mum, like this."

Suddenly, an electronic version of the theme to Star Wars interrupted the conversation. "Sorry, it's my pager..."

Annie leaned over to Hank. "The accountant has a pager?"

"It's a gift from his mother."

Annie smiled.

"Hank, can I borrow your phone?"

Hank growled as he surrendered his cell phone.

Bobby glared at him as he dialed. "Mom? Are you there?" Bobby turned away from Annie and Hank.

"He's waiting for a cell phone that resembles a Star Wars communicator," Hank explained.

"Ah..." Annie nodded.

"Yes, Mom, I'm at Warren's! ... Yes, we made it safe! ... Yes, there are women here -- yes, I'm talking to them! ... Yes, they're nice girls! ... Mom, I think that's a bit too distasteful to ask your son! ... No, I do not want to talk to Dr. Guest ... Yes, I know she's a lovely woman..." Bobby looked over to Annie and Hank and gave an apologizing look as he switched ears. Mid-switch, however, a smile grew on Bobby's face, practically possessing him. "Hold on, Mom, I got another call..." Bobby pushed the mute button and motioned to Annie. "How would you like to make a colossal tip?"


"Hello, is this Bobby's mother? ... I'm just fine, how are you? ... Wonderful! ... Oh, my name is Annie ... Thank you, I think it's pretty, too ... I'm Catholic ... Yes, I'm going to mass tomorrow -- What was that? Uhm ... I'm 22, about five foot four inches, athletic build, brown hair, green eyes ... yes, I'm wearing flats ... oh, I don't think Bobby's short at all!"

Bobby groaned. Hank snickered.

"All right, it was nice talking to you, Mrs. Drake. You have a Merry Christmas, too!" Annie handed the phone back to Bobby.

"Mom? Yeah, what do you think? Uh huh ... uh huh ... okay, I love you. Merry Christ -yes, my pants are ironed! Night, Mom." Bobby hung up the phone and whimpered.

"Robert, it wasn't that bad--"

"I could hear Dad laughing in the background, Hank."

"So," Annie said while bouncing around in her seat. "What did your mother think?"

"She thinks you're too young for me."

"Just as well," Annie giggled. "I'm already engaged."

Hank smiled as he took her hand. "Well, congratulations, Annie! Who's the lucky guy?"

"Oh, he's the owner of the restaurant. Lindsey Porney. We've been going out since seventh grade."

"Damn!" Bobby exclaimed.

"Robert!"

"Sorry, Hank, but you know how long my relationships last, and hers has been going on for about ten years! Just ... damn!"

Annie smiled. "It's okay, Hank. Most people respond exactly the same way. My grandmother thinks I should break it off. She says it's not right to marry your first love. It's the Brodie curse."

"Which is...?" Bobby asked.

"The Brodie women have always married our first loves, and they always end in divorce. My great-grandmother started the curse, and it's gone on since there." Annie sighed. "My aunt Peyton -- she's the one in the purple over there -- has gone through four marriages and five children. Mick and Jersey are the only ones who lived long enough, though."

"I'm sorry..."

"Don't worry about it, Hank." Annie smiled. "Then there's Mick..." Annie paused to find her in the crowd. "She must be in the back filling ketchups...anyway. She's divorcing husband number two and has two kids to show for it. Then there's my mother..." Annie's voice trailed off. "Too much of a can of worms to open up. She died when I was pretty young, but my grandmother -- she's the one in the kitchen -- has always been there for me. She's my best friend." Annie paused. "Six husbands, three kids."

"What about the men?"

"The men go onto happy, fulfilled lives. My uncle Roman is still married to his high school sweetheart and they have a daughter down in Chicago. And Jersey ... who is also not in present view ... has never had a girlfriend of any kind. And he's 24."

"If you say one thing, Henry Phillip McCoy, I swear that I will hide your Twinkies where the sun won't shine!"

"Uhm..."

"I think I'll risk it." Hank grinned. "Bobby hasn't had vast experience in love."

"Ha-ank! Not in front of the cute girl!"

Annie blushed as a little girl ran up to the table and climbed in her lap.

"Annie!"

"Hey there, sunshine!" Annie looked up to Hank and Bobby. "Guys, this is my niece Domi ... wait, where's Darla?"

"Hey!" Bobby exclaimed as another young girl climbed on his lap.

Annie laughed. "Next question, how did you two find yourselves here?"

"Uncle Jersey picked us up!"

Annie looked up to see her cousin smiling.

"I wasn't doing anything, and they were only a couple of blocks away and I knew Mick wanted to see her kids..."

"You are just too sweet!" She pulled him down to her level to kiss him on the cheek. "Oh, the things I'd do to you if we weren't related!"

Jersey grinned cockily. "Well, that never stopped Mr. and Mrs. Campbell..."

"Hank, Bobby, this is my cousin, Jersey."

The three waved.

Annie grinned. "I can't believe Lindsey let you get away to pick up the girls..."

"Uh," Jersey began as he shook his head. "I couldn't find him."

Annie stared hard at him. "Come to think about it, I haven't seen him in over an hour and forty-six minutes."

Jersey shrugged. "Ah, well. Have you seen Mick?"

Annie's eyes darkened. "One hour and forty-four minutes and counting."

"You know where they are?"

"I have a pretty good idea..." Annie glowered as she looked in the direction of the janitor's closet. "Jersey, do me a favor and don't let anyone get near that janitor's closet, okay? Don't let them even think about it!"

Jersey nodded and he took Domi from Annie. "Annie..."

"Yeah?"

"I'm sorry."

After Annie had left, Bobby spoke up. "What's going on?"

Jersey scooted into Annie's spot. "Lindsey's cheating on Annie again."


Annie pounded on the janitor's closet. "Lindsey!!"

"Annie!" A muffled voice shouted. "Annie, let me out of here! The lock got stuck again!"

"Well, that's what you get for not making the repair when Peyton first complained last October!"

"Come on, Annie, this isn't funny, let me out of here!"

"I really don't know if you should you ... you ... fink!"

"What?"

"You heard me."

"Mink?"

"FINK! I said fi--forget it."

"Please, Annie, I've been in here for over an hour ... I smell like Lysol!"

"You think I don't know what goes on in there when I'm busy, working my ass off out here?!"

"What?"

"Admit it, you're cheating on me with Mick!"

"Annie, that's ridiculous!"

"Oh, is it?" Annie opened the door in a grand flourish, only to find Lindsey, and no one else.

"I can't believe you, Annie! I'd expect this from Mick, but you?"

"But...!"

Lindsey straightened himself out as he stared at Annie. "Happy now? I'm not having an affair!"

Annie sniffed. "You're not?"

Lindsey rolled his eyes. "Annie, you're too paranoid! Remember in high school when you thought I was cheating on you with Pamela? Was I cheating on you with her?"

Annie shook her head no.

"That's right. We were only working on our drama assignment. That's all. We had to do all of that kissing to find our characters. And remember when you thought I was cheating on you with LaKiesha and it turned out that we had a health class assignment?"

Annie nodded.

"See? I wasn't cheating!" Lindsey smiled as he hugged Annie. "Now, who is it that I'm supposed to be cheating on you with this time, again?"

"Mick..."

Lindsey howled. "Annie, please! You know I would never, ever touch Mick! Never!" He kissed her on her nose. "Look, Annie, you're the girl I want to marry. No one else but you. Okay?" Lindsey laughed gently. "Now, go to the bathroom and wash up, you look like a mess. Then, you and I will eat dinner together, okay?"

Annie smiled as she nodded. "Okay." Annie gave him a quick kiss on the cheek as she found her way to the ladies room.

Lindsey waited until she was gone until motioning into the closet. "She's gone."

"Never, huh?" Mick emerged and promptly hit Lindsey on the shoulder.

"Ow! That's not what I meant!" Lindsey wrapped Mick in his arms and kissed her. "I just don't want her to get suspicious, is all..."

"All right. I'll let you go, but only because you're cute. I gotta pee." Mick kissed him once more before retreating to the bathroom, leaving Lindsey by himself.

"One way not to get your fiancee suspicious is to not kiss other women..."

Lindsey looked to his side. "Table twelve, right?"

Hank nodded. "Why are you doing this to her?"

"I don't think this is any of your concern--!"

"Oh, on the contrary," Bobby broke in, coming out from behind a corner. "This is very much our concern. You see, your fiancee did me a huge favor and I kinda owe her."

"And I just happen to have a soft spot for damsels in distress. It's just the romantic in me."

"You two were spying on me?"

"Well, actually, we were just coming from the bathroom," Bobby said simply. "It wouldn't take black helicopters to find out what you've been up to, you know."

Lindsey rolled his eyes. "Look, I won't charge either of you for coffee if you don't tell Annie about this."

Bobby and Hank blinked.

"Okay, Hank, now I know this guy's scum."

"As if a mere few cups of coffee would be a sufficient enough to keep us silent."

"Okay, I'll pay for your check!"

"I don't think you understand. We are talking about a young girl's feelings, here. It has nothing to do with money or keeping silent."

Lindsey growled. "Why would you two even want to get involved?"

"Basic human decency."

"Just their coffee, Lindsey? Is that all I'm worth?"

Lindsey frowned as he saw his fiancee round the corner. "Annie, look, I don't know what kind of friends you've made here, but--"

"Just shut up, Lindsey." Annie folded her arms to comfort herself. "The more you talk, the more I'll lose my nerve."

"Annie--" Lindsey took a step to go to comfort her and promptly slipped and fell on his ass. "How in the hell did ice get in here?"

"Look around Lindsey. Hell truly has frozen over." Annie took off her apron and laid it on the floor next to him. "And I quit."

"Annie, you need this job--"

"I wasn't just talking about the job, Lindsey." Annie took off the high school ring on her finger and dropped into her apron and walked away.


"I should cuff you, Robert," Hank growled as soon as they got outside in the snow.

"What?!"

"I will admit the man deserved it, Bobby, but do you really want to advertise the fact that we're mutants?"

"The guy's too stupid to figure that out, Hank!"

"What if Annie finds out?"

"I think Annie was a bit preoccupied at the time!"

"What if Annie already knew?"

Bobby and Hank looked behind them to find Annie standing there.

"You knew?"

Annie smiled sadly as she pointed at Hank. "Honestly, Hank, who hasn't heard of Dr. Henry McCoy?" Hank began to glare at Bobby until Annie spoke again. "But I knew that you were a mutant before because your ... uh ... holographic thing has a glitch in it. Every fifteen minutes, it glitches and for a split second, you're blue and furry."

"And you can see that?"

Annie nodded. "Perfect memory."

"You mean photographic--"

"Perfect." Annie sighed. "Remember that story I told you about my knee? Well, I went up to Cheyenne to have it looked at. While I was there, I asked the doctor to give me this blood test to see if I had that x-factor gene or whatever ... I, uh, saw you give this lecture once on what makes a mutant, and the migraines during puberty that would just suddenly stop and all that. I went through it, but I never developed any powers, you know?" Annie paused to warm her naked arms. "But I kinda did.

"Perfect memory is kind of subtle. You don't even notice it happening at first ... I mean, I didn't turn into a brain or anything in high school, I slept through most of my classes and never opened the book. It just started real small ... remembering where I put my book bag that I could never seem to find before ... returning library books on time, that kind of minute stuff. Then I realized I could time things in my head, like my brain had a clock in it, and then I began remembering things from my childhood, things that most kids forget like saying their first word, what they were wearing when they took their first step, and the colors of the big helium balloon that took up space in the delivery room when I was born.

"So I asked for a blood test to prove to myself that I wasn't crazy. And I'm not." Annie smiled. "Do you know that you two are the first real mutants I've ever met? And the only people I've told about what exactly my power is? I mean, I know it's not an out there power, like manipulating the weather or reading other peoples minds, but it's enough to keep me scared."

Hank turned off his image inducer to reveal his blue, furry form. "You needn't feel like that, Annie. Your power is a gift, and you should--"

"Hank, you're sounding like an after school special."

"I think I know what I am doing, Robert, I have given this talk before."

"And I've been meaning to tell you, Henry, that it kinda sucks. I feel like we should have Keri Strug come out here with her gold medal and say, 'That's right, being different is A-OK! In fact, it's pretty super! Go USA!' and have her hobble off." Hank glowered at Bobby. "Really, Hank, the speech is lame."

Hank turned to Annie who nodded. "It does have a certain Mr. Roger's feel to it, Dr. McCoy."

Hank sighed before continuing. "So, what are your plans now, Annie?"

"I guess I could go to Cheyenne ... get a job ... try to get into college after I earn some money."

"What do you want to learn in college?"

Annie shrugged. "Just everything. I just can't do it on my own ... I need someone to help me develop some study habits. I suck at study habits. You think if you called something a habit, it'd be easier to pick up, but are they?"

"Yeah, I noticed that, too!" Bobby chimed in.

"Robert, you are not helping. Why don't you take my cell phone and call Warren?"

Bobby pouted as he walked back into the restaurant. He stared at Annie and Hank from the window at his table. "Oh, sainted Dr. McCoy, who will take in an uneducated mutant freak like myself? Oh, look at me, so helpless and cute? Who will save me?" Bobby switched from a high falsetto to cheesy game show announcer mode. "Why, the answer to that question, Damsel Du Jour, is for you to join us at Xaviers! There, we will take you in, give you a horrible code name, and not only will you get fabulous travel benefits, you can take Booty Kicking 101, and the follow up class, Booty Kicking in Spandex. But that's not all! If you choose to go now, you will be entered into the Logan's Li'l Buddy Lotto, where you get to be a whiny little snot for the first few months, and then a first class ninja-ette with an attitude? What say you, Annie? Yay or nay?"

Hank hugged Annie as she ran back inside the restaurant. A few moments later, Hank entered and sat down with Bobby. "Good news, Bobby. Annie has decided to enroll at Xaviers as a full time student."

"I seem to have left my pennant in my other coat."

"Bobby!"

"I'm sorry, Hank, but you call that an enrollment? Where are the gun toting loonies? Where is the Conquistador?"

"Bobby..."

"Did I tell you I had a lynch mob when I was enrolled?"

"Yes."

"Well I did! And what does she get, Hank? What does she get?" Bobby looked at the counter where Annie was sitting. "She gets PIE? Pie?! Pastry has no place at Xavier's! I mean, how bad is her origin story going to suck?"

Hank paused.

"You see my reasoning, don't you?"

"Did you ever call Warren, Bobby?"

Bobby looked at the cell phone in his hands and hung his head. "You never see the big picture, Hank. Always with the little picture!"

Hank plucked the phone from Bobby's hands and began to dial. "Hello, Warren? ... I should be offended by that, but I'll attribute it to the disturbance of the snowstorm -- yes, not Bobby, Hank ... we're in a place called Pallas, Wyoming ... no, we are not goofing off, we're stuck here ... well, at least we did something constructive while we were here ... seventeen pots of coffee, but I'm not talking about drinking, I'm talking about recruiting. We have a new student coming back with us ... what was that? ... No, no fires ... yes, Warren, I think we all know that you saved people from a burning building when you enrolled ... no, Warren, I am not rolling my eyes ... what? ... Oh, she's eating pie ... I said eating the pie ... EATING the pie, Warren, not beating, the pie isn't the mutant, she is ... It is not lame! ... Is not! ... I actually think it's rather nice!"

Hank got up from his seat and began going outside. "As a matter of fact, yes, I think your origin is lame! ... Of course it's not as lame as Bobby's lynch mob, but, well, at least he wasn't wearing a long blonde wig stolen from the drama department, Warren! ... Oh, yes, please do tell me what happened that night, I'm all ears." With that, Hank threw his cell phone into a ditch, leaving the poor, unfortunate snowflakes to deal with Warren's self inflated tale of egotism while Hank went back inside to help himself to a slice of pie.


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