"How bad is this?" Jamie shouted as he peered at his neck and shoulders
in the bathroom mirror. He pulled his shirt down farther, twisting
to see around his back.
Bobby walked in, stopping behind him and kissing the beard rash.
"Not that bad."
Jamie sighed and let his shirt fall back into place.
"It could've been worse. It could've been a hickie," Bobby said with
an impish grin before walking into the bedroom.
Jamie smiled slightly. At least a hickie would have been normal.
"Jean and some of the others want to take me to town. Take me shopping.
They think I need new clothes."
Bobby laughed, the bright sound bubbling around the corner. "You
Jamie turned, frowning at him. "My clothes are comfortable."
Bobby stuck his head around the doorway, grinning. "They all look
exactly the same."
"Everything matches!" And beside that, Jamie still wasn't at ease
with the other X-Men.
Bobby wandered farther into the bathroom, hooking his thumbs in Jamie's
pockets and pulling him closer. "Go. Have fun," Bobby said, then reached
around and kissed Jamie.
Jamie smiled when Bobby finally pulled away. "I'd rather stay here
with you," he said softly, hair falling into his eyes.
"Me too," Bobby sighed. "But I'd just keep you in bed all the time."
Jamie blushed, but smiled gamely. "Okay."
Bobby laughed, and kissed him again. "Now go," he said, pulling away.
"Jean'll pamper you. So have fun."
Jamie sighed. Off to the lion's den it was, then. He picked his favorite
green trenchcoat up off the counter and marched resolutely down the
"I'll be right there!" Jean called, then turned back to her husband
and kissed him quickly. "You going to talk to Rogue about Jamie?"
Scott sighed almost soundlessly and nodded. "Have a good time. If
you're right about Jamie feeling alone, hopefully this'll help."
Jean smiled and kissed Scott once more, then picked up her purse
and headed out the front door to the waiting station wagon.
It was a tight fit, what with Jean, Ororo, Betsy, Sam, Warren and
Jamie all squeezing in -- and Warren needed an extra seat for his
wings. Jean drove, and they made it to the nearest mall in just under
twenty minutes. Warren was grumbling about never letting Jean drive
again as they got out, and Jean winked at him.
"We need to get Jamie a school jacket," Jean said, striding into
the mall. She had always enjoyed dressing people -- having her own
giant doll. It was something she'd never outgrown.
"Oh, it's okay," Jamie said quickly. "I don't wear jackets. I have
Jean laughed. "You need one anyway. Everyone has one -- even Ororo
has one, and can you honestly see her wearing a brown leather jacket?"
Ororo looked bemused, and cocked one white eyebrow at Jean.
"No," Jamie answered with a sheepish smile. "I guess not."
Ororo chuckled dryly, and Jean winked at her, remembering the stories
of the other woman's leather-wearing phase.
"Exactly. It doesn't matter that you wear it, only that you have
it." Jean walked briskly to the little shop in the corner. They'd
been going there ever since the original five X-Men had decided they
needed school jackets, and had found out that this place -- owned
by an elderly man who took a liking to them -- would alter his leather
jackets for the school logo.
"Antonio!" Jean called cheerily as she walked in, Betsy right behind
"Here!" Antonio called back.
Jean smiled at Jamie and reached out to grab his hand, pulling him
along. "We have a new student who needs a jacket."
"Get one and bring it up," Antonio answered, still hidden behind
racks of clothing.
Jean pulled Jamie over to the bar of leather jackets, then started
pulling some off to see if they'd fit him. "Try these on," she said
when he just stood there, looking very uncomfortable.
Jamie hesitated, then took off his trenchcoat and laid it carefully
over the rack before trying on the leather jacket.
"Nope," Jean declared instantly, seeing that it was almost too short
in the arms.
After half an hour of making him try jackets, they finally decided
to get one that was a little bit big around and fit on the arms. Hopefully,
he'd fill out. And wouldn't grow anymore.
Jean carried the jacket up to Antonio, smiling when she saw the spry
old man with his trembling, age-spotted hands.
"We need the school logo on this," she said, handing it to him over
Antonio smiled, nodded, and put it on a shelf. "Come back around
three or four, or sometime tomorrow. I'll have it done."
"Thanks, An," Jean said, smiling brilliantly.
He chuckled and shook his head, continuing with his paperwork.
Jean walked back through the racks, spotting Betsy with Warren looking
at women's dress jackets, and Sam idly sifting through bomber jackets.
She walked up to the young blond and slung an arm over his shoulder.
"You need a new one?" she asked, looking at the heavy wool-lined jacket
he'd picked up.
"Not really," Sam sighed. "It's just nice to think about it."
Jean laughed and stepped away from him, glancing around for the rest
of their party.
Ororo was fingering a shawl in the corner, more feeling than wanting
to buy, though. It took Jean a moment more of walking around before
she found Jamie, looking wistfully at -- of all things -- a black
Jean smothered a grin and walked up to him, putting her arm around
his shoulders the same way she'd done with Sam.
Jamie jumped, then blushed and dropped the jacket.
"You want that?" Jean asked.
"Nah, I don't need it," he sighed.
"I didn't ask if you needed it," Jean corrected with a teasing
smile. "I asked if you wanted it."
Jamie's mouth twitched upward and he shook his head. "Not for four
Jean whistled and picked up the price tag, cringing at the number.
Then a thought occurred to her. "Jamie," she asked curiously, "you
know you get paid for ... um, teaching at the school, right?"
Jamie blinked. "But I'm not doing anything," he said after a moment.
"You've been working with Hank, in his lab. That's doing something."
Jamie gnawed on his lower lip. "Really?"
Jean laughed. "Really."
Jamie sighed, and looked at her sheepishly. "Oh, good. 'Cause I wasn't
sure what I was gonna do."
Jean chuckled and hugged him, one-armed, then let him go and headed
for the door. "Everyone ready?" she yelled, and soon the lot of them
were emerging from the clothing, congregating at the front of the
"What else do we need?" Jean asked cheerfully.
"We need to get Jamie some shirts other than those black ones," Betsy
Jamie started to protest, and Jean saw Sam lean near him conspiratorially
and whisper, "Don't try and get out of it. It'll only prolong everything."
Jamie laughed quietly and closed his mouth.
"Rogue?" Scott adjusted his glasses, itching where they touched the
bridge of his nose, and stepped out into the sun. Rogue was lying
on a lounge chair in nothing but her green and white bikini, sunglasses
protecting her eyes from the sun. Flame red hair fell off the edge
of the chair, pooling on the warm concrete.
"Yeah, Scotty?" she drawled.
"Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Her green eyes opened, eyeing him sideways before her black lashes
fluttered closed. "Sure."
Scott pulled up a chair and sat down, crossing one ankle over his
tan khaki-clad knee. "I don't think you've said word one to Jamie
since he got here."
Rogue shrugged listlessly. "Izzat an offense?" she asked mildly.
"No," Scott answered, "except that the kid is really nervous and
anxious to please. It'd be nice if he felt welcome."
"He's welcome," Rogue answered without moving. The hot sun beat down
on them, slowly tanning the southerner's skin. "Bobby's made that
Scott itched at the stubble on his chin and wondered how to continue.
"Look," Rogue sighed, sitting up and pulling her sunglasses off,
"Ah know what you're gettin' at. An' Ah'm happy Bobby's found someone
-- Ah really am. Ah just didn't expect it ta be another man."
Scott nodded. "It's understandable to be surprised," he said quietly.
Rogue swung her legs over the edge of the chair, twirling her sunglasses
in one hand. Carefully, she cocked her knees so there was no chance
of her bare skin touching Scott's. "Ah know. And ... Bobby's so happy.
He's mah friend, y'know? It's just..." Rogue shrugged, seemingly in
frustration, and looked out over the pool and volleyball net still
erected from the barbecue. "Ah mean, growin' up all Ah ever heard
was that gay people were 'queer' an' 'aberrations o' nature' and stuff
like that." She sighed and bit her lip, scowling down at her feet.
"Ah know it ain't true -- no more'n mutants being evil is true. But
it's what Ah was taught. An' reconcilin' that with Bobby ... and Jamie,
o' course ..." She trailed off and shrugged again, slipping her sunglasses
back on over her eyes.
Scott nodded, watching his refelection do the same on Rogue's silver
lenses. "I figured as much," he said softly, quietly encouraging her
to keep talking. If she needed help to puzzle this out, then so be
it. Rogue was still young.
She smiled up at him, a slightly sheepish grin. "It's easier to accept
Bobby. Ah mean, Ah know him. Ah'm just havin' a harder time with Jamie
-- he's like the proof Ah really didn't want to see, y'know?"
Scott smiled and nodded in return. He hadn't been overly surprised
when Bobby had announced he had a boyfriend. Heck, Scott could remember
many nights when it had just been the original five, the four boys
up late at night in Warren's room eating crackers and whispering secrets,
often times with Jean joining them telepathically. Scott still remembered
Bobby's abortive crush on Hank, shortly after Hank had helped the
younger man learn to control his powers. Not that Bobby had ever admitted
The other X-Men, however, hadn't seen nearly as much of Bobby, and
it had been something of a surprise. It wasn't until the young man
had said that he was bringing Jamie home, though, that anyone had
been really forced to deal with it.
"Jamie's nice," Scott said softly, when Rogue fell silent.
Rogue smiled. "Yeah. He seems right friendly."
Scott listened for a time to the birds sing, he and Rogue sitting
in silence. "You think you can handle Bobby and Jamie okay?"
Rogue's green eyes sparkled mischievously. "Ya mean, am Ah goin'
ta bite Jamie's head off? No. Ah jus' ain' gonna be his best friend
for a bit -- 'least till Ah get used ta this. But Ah can be polite
an' friendly-like, Scott."
Scott smiled and nodded. "Thanks, Rogue."
She smiled back, laying back down on the lounge.
"You know," Scott said as he put the beach chair back by the picnic
table, "if you need to talk you can always come to Jean, Ororo or
Rogue smiled softly. "Ah know. Thanks."
Scott stood, his hands in his pockets, eyeing the young woman. "You're
not going to, though, are you?"
Rogue didn't answer, just smiled very slightly.
Scott frowned, nodded, and walked back inside.
"He's great, isn't he?" Bobby asked wistfully.
Hank smothered a chuckle and feigned ignorance. "Who?" He moved one
vial of fluid to another spot, carefully marking it.
"Jamie. Even his name is nice. Ja-mie. Two syllables. Or James. One
syllable. Such a versatile name."
Hank eyed Bobby, who was laying on his stomach on the examining table,
hair dangling almost to the floor as he hung off the end. His feet
were in the air, swinging back and forth at the knees like a love-sick
schoolboy. "Yes. That was one of the first things I noticed about
him," Hank answered pseudo-seriously. "His very versatile name."
"Yeah, me too," Bobby answered, missing the joking note in Hank's
Hank smiled bemusedly and turned back to his work. "He knows his
way around a lab, which I certainly appreciate."
"He knows his way around other things, too," Bobby murmured.
Hank turned and pinned Bobby with a Look, even though Bobby wasn't
facing him. "My dear hypothermically inclined acquaintance, as our
dear Jubilation Lee has said, TMI."
Bobby chuckled. "I meant with government stuff," he said, still laughing,
"though whatever your twisted mind came up with is probably true,
Hank sighed. "Must you remain in my laboratory whilst I moil in this
odious task I have set for myself?"
"Yup," Bobby answered, still hanging upside down. "You got any cure
for beard-rash, Grover?"
"Shave," Hank answered dryly. "And use moisturizer."
"Any kind. Whatever smell you prefer, or non-scented if your olfactory
senses find the order distasteful."
"Okay," Bobby replied. His legs swung. "Jamie's really cute, isn't
Hank sighed. "Just as yummy as a sugar-filled Twinkie," he answered
in a monotone.
"Yup. Just don't get any ideas," Bobby said, sounding almost proud.
Hank eyed the younger man, then returned to his work.
"Welcome to the X-Men, Jamie," Sam whispered. "Hope ya survive the
Jamie kept from snickering. Barely.
Betsy loaded more clothes into his arms, then gave him a telepathic
boost toward the changing rooms, her voice ringing into Sam's head
as well. Try those on, she sent. And take Sam with you.
He, at least, has an inkling of what looks decent.
Jamie took one look at Sam and blushed. Sam started laughing. "I'm
not taking him in with me!" Jamie yelped.
"Then I'll go," Betsy answered, somehow managing to make it sound
like a threat.
"C'mon, Sam," Jamie said quickly, hopping off toward the dressing
Sam followed, still laughing, hands comfortably resting in his pockets.
"Just wait out here and pretend like you saw the clothes," Jamie
I heard that thought.
"Aren't telepaths supposed to have more scruples that this?" Jamie
said -- and probably thought -- loudly.
Some do. I'm not one.
Making faces, Jamie went into one of the closet-sized rooms. Sam
sat outside, slouched in an uncomfortable chair with his legs sprawled.
Sam had best be approving clothes, Betsy's British voice rang
again through their heads.
Bets, Sam thought, he's a big boy. I'm sure he can do it
Approve, Samuel Guthrie, Betsy shot back.
"Fine, fine," Jamie muttered. "I like this outfit," he said, and
opened the dressing room door.
Sam nodded amiably.
A man walked by on his own way to the changing rooms, raising a disapproving
eyebrow at Sam and Jamie. Sam rolled his eyes.
Jamie grinned impishly.
The door closed and Jamie disappeared within, changing again. "What
about this one?" Jamie asked as a gentleman in his forties walked
"Okay," Sam agreed.
"Oh, no," the new man said, horrified. "It clashes with your hair."
"Mm-hmm," the man said, nodding. "Try on that blue shirt hanging
there with those black jeans."
Jamie closed the door, and opened it a moment later with the new
"Much better," the man said, sighing happily. "Buy that." Then he
turned and looked at Sam in a very considering way. "And you shouldn't
wear yellow. Ever. Not with that hair."
Sam opened his mouth to respond, and couldn't think of what to say.
"God. Too bad you're both taken," the man sighed, turning to walk
down the hall. "Why is it the handsome ones always find each other?"
the man was murmuring to himself.
Sam looked up at Jamie.
Jamie looked down at Sam.
They both started laughing.
"He thought we were together!" Jamie cackled.
"James, ya just ain't that cute," Sam laughed back, doubled over
in his chair.
"Coming!" Jamie shouted, still laughing, and grabbed the two outfits
before racing out of the dressing room.
Hank frowned, trying to find a certain sheet in his stack of papers.
He flipped through them again, putting several on top of the lab counter,
getting them out of the way. He paused at a paper scrawled all over
with names and numbers of good therapists in the area. It wasn't what
he'd been looking for, but...
Hank looked up at Bobby, now sitting on the examining table Indian
style, wearing a stethescope and making alien noises into the round
end. "Robert," Hank asked, "can we talk?"
Bobby looked up, eyebrows raised, and tugged the earpieces loose.
"Jamie doesn't want counseling," Hank said softly, pulling out his
lab chair and sitting down. "And if he's not willing to get it, then
forcing him to won't help him at all."
Bobby scowled, pulling the stethescope off entirely and setting it
in his lap. "But I'm worried," he murmured at last.
"I know," Hank answered. Bobby shook his head, the light playing
through light brown, almost blond hair. "Hank, you weren't there when
he was talking about wanting to kill himself. It was really scary."
"I know," Hank repeated. "But if he doesn't want counseling then
it's not going to help him until he does. Suggest it, if you like,
but don't force him into it. All right?"
Bobby hesitated, then scowled and nodded. "Yeah."
"Bobby, with luck Jamie will realize that he needs it. Until then,
you just have to be there for him."
Bobby sighed again and plucked at his pants absently. "Yeah. Okay."
Jamie grabbed the Giant Cup O' Fries, laughing, and followed Sam
back to the table where the others were sitting with their food.
"Ah love food courts," Sam sighed contentedly.
"I can't believe I'm eating fries for lunch," Jamie chuckled, sitting
down at a tiny table next to the tiny table Jean was at.
Sam plopped down across from him, grinning happily. "Ah loooove fries,"
he said, picking one out of his own Bucket O' Spicy Fries and biting
Jamie grinned, eyeing his own.
"I can't believe you boys," Jean sighed.
"Potatoes are vegetables," Sam answered back. "We're eating veggies
Jean deigned him with a dirty look.
Jamie laughed and started munching his own fries. Ororo was sitting
across from Jean, watching them with a bemused expression.
She didn't seem as scary as she first had. In fact, Jamie had even
seen her laugh in one of the clothes stores, when Sam had arrived
with a God-awful Hawaiian shirt and Betsy had thrown a fit.
He still wasn't completely comfortable with Betsy or Warren, though
he was no long exactly uncomfortable with them, either. Jean
was like a big sister, and Sam was closest to his age -- and rather
fun to pal around with.
"Hey, Jean," Sam said, blue eyes glittering. "There's a Kay*Bee Toys
over there. We should go."
Jean rolled her eyes and sighed. "Only if you eat all your lunch,"
she laughed after a moment.
"Yes, Mom," Sam answered.
Jamie chuckled, setting to work on his own fries. Yeah, he could
be friends with Sam. These people weren't as scary as they seemed
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