"Desperate Times, Ramen Noodles"
"Winning Bets"
"The Land of the Beautiful People"
"Remembering Those Who Have Yet to Fall"

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Stars and Garters

Disclaimer: The Universe and Bobby, Hank McCoy, Moira McTaggert, Emma, Remy and the rest of the X-people belong to Marvel. Noami Chandler belongs to me. I ain't making any money, worse luck.

Note: Yes, this is a self-insertion. But hopefully a funny one. Third one in the Desperate Times, Ramen Noodles/Winning Bets series.

Other Note: Brucha, Lynx, Diamonde, Persephone, Crantz and Alara all had input into the explanation of mutation and Legacy. I cannot thank them enough.

It was early morning. All right, it was extremely early, but due to a genetic flaw in the preparation gene, I had left all my packing to the last minute. So, there I was at five a.m. trying to get all the various crap I'd accumulated in the last few months into the suitcases I'd brought with me when I'd come to New York. It wasn't working. Fortunately during the time I'd also accumulated several of those big red and blue nylon bags that I'd been using to haul laundry in. By eight that morning I'd managed, by dint of sitting on things to squash them that little bit smaller, to fit away my clothes. That left me two hours to get the rest of my stuff together before Henry arrived to take me to my new place.

All things considered it was probably a good thing that I was rushed that morning. Too rushed, in fact, to go into screaming hysterical panic about the move itself. Some things had apparently come up and the planned visit to the Xavier Institute the previous week had had to be cancelled unexpectedly. So I was going cold. Aside from my boss, I'd only met one other person who lived there, a guy called Robert Drake who thought I was a raving lunatic. The Institute apparently had a whole heap of mutants, which wasn't so bad, but I was mortally afraid of insulting someone by staring. Or by breaking some unknowable etiquette rule, as I'd done several times when I first started working for Henry. Americans are weird like that. For starters, I'd nearly gotten eaten alive when I called a guy from some southern state a yank. It means something else here, I found, than simply 'Statesider'. He told me about it. In long detail.

However, right now my biggest anxiety and one I hadn't thought of before I'd accepted the job offer, was that now I'd be working with Henry and he'd be right there to see any idiot mistakes I happened to make.

In order to distract myself more I went to have a shower and had to dig through some bags and repack them when I realised that I'd already put away all of the towels. Then I had what was probably the most relaxing job. Alphabetising my books and putting them away in boxes. I'd left that till last for that very reason.

As a parting gift, and really the nicest thing they could have given me on my last day of work, the bike went missing, in its place a shiny, though obviously fairly inexpensive, new bicycle. It was the best thing they could have given me. Much better than a mug.

Somehow, miraculously, I was all finished by the time that Henry arrived to help me shift my stuff. What wasn't so good was that he'd brought Robert. I was dressed presentably, if kinda dusty from sitting on the floor, and I waved them both into my tiny apartment.

"Felicitous morning, Naomi," Henry said.

There is something innately reassuring about a boss who seems so happy to be friendly. "Heya, Henry. Pardon the boxes, but I'm moving today."

Robert's eyes went wide. "Really? Damn, maybe we should come back some other time."

Henry looked mournful. "You must excuse the rambunctious attitude of my colleague, Naomi. He is here to assist in the portage of your belongings."

I waved an arm at the inelegant pile of vulgarly bright bags. "As you see all my stuff is here."

Instantly both men's faces wrinkled up. "This is all of it?"

Suddenly worried that some had disappeared I checked again. Two suitcases and a backpack, two big tacky bags, one for linen and other bits and pieces. A box of kitchen stuff, the food given to the guy up-stairs who ate everything, and as a student gleefully took any freebies he could. Three other fruit-boxes with the books. "Yup, that's all. Why?"

Robert turned to Henry. "You know what? I think this is the least amount of stuff I've ever seen any woman who wasn't Marrow own."

Embarrassed I shrugged. What can you say to that? I've only been in the country and earning money for a couple of months, and I keep forgetting to go shopping because I hate it? Instead I shrugged again. "Let's get this stuff moved, 'kay?"

Bobby went to pick up one of the boxes. He didn't know that it was chock-full of books, so it looked like he strained something as he came across the unexpected weight.

"What the hell?"

"Er ... That one and those other two have books. They're kinda heavy."

He set his jaw, looking down at the inoffensive box like it was his worst enemy. "I'd noticed."

He must have been very strong though, because on his next attempt he managed it very easily. I grabbed the backpack and the linen bag, I started downstairs, suddenly too nervous to speak.

Bobby tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, and caught a glimpse of Naomi and Hank talked in the other car. They'd barely needed the two cars for the small amount of stuff she had. He was suddenly unsure about this whole thing. People were seldom brought into Xavier's Mansion without some warning about what they were going to see. Or even who.

Still, she was being paid well and she'd better help Hank, otherwise all his conniving would come to nothing. Anyway, it'd be interesting to help her move in.

Keeping up any conversation with Henry wasn't as hard in my nervous state as I thought it might be. Mostly because he's a very good talker on his own. So he chattered away as I sat there scrunching up the front of my shirt between sweaty palms. I didn't know what scared me more, the thought of meeting all these new people, or of the kind of work I was supposed to do.

We turned into a driveway, with automatic gates, then a little later rolled out outside this honest-to-god mansion. Suddenly, I knew exactly what was freaking me out. This place was a palace!

Henry got out, still talking, acting like this was nothing was out of the ordinary. It was then I realised that this was the College and not some random millionaire's house we'd stopped at to use the bathroom. That wasn't very likely, true, but more likely than me living in a mansion like that. I surreptitiously looked around to see where my hovel would be located, but there wasn't any in sight. Must be around the back so as not to spoil the splendour.

"Mayhap I will escort you to your rooms, and then assist in the relocation of your belongings, then perhaps you would like to come to lunch and meet with some of the other residents of these hallowed halls of learning?" he said, in his inimitable way.

I think I about managed a mute nod, still looking at the huge building. Robert, and I really must remember to call him Bobby, turned up then, and offered his assistance with, I noticed, the suitcases not the boxes of books.

Inside was even more amazing than the outside, all old-looking and clean. I was beginning to get nervous about some friends' warning about living with weirdos, because people who lived like this must be different from me. Luckily my room was fairly small and inconspicuous, which made me feel a little better although I noticed I was going to have to get some more bookshelves.

It didn't take long to get my stuff into my room and Bobby hung around with an expectant look on his face, like he was waiting for me to do something funny. I couldn't resist doing the traditional bounce on the bed, everyone knows you have to do that when you get a new bed, but I did glare at him for a bit. It's rude to look at people like that.

I adjusted the boxes moving them around with my feet for a while hoping to look too busy too go downstairs and meet the other residents, but I think Henry noticed. He glanced at a clock, muttered something about not being late for food, though much longer words and basically pushed me downstairs in front of him, briefly through a bathroom to wash up, and then into a room filled with ... Them. Which was exactly when I realised that this job was going to have more complications than I'd previously thought.

Not only had I wandered into the mystical world of better homes and gardens, with stunning carpets, vast expanses of beautifully shined wooden table and perfectly arranged painting and vases, but I suddenly found myself surrounded by what seemed like dozens of the Beautiful People.

Being a girl who'd always read a lot I'd considered many times in my rather confused childhood what it would be like to be taken by the Little People. Being sadly practical even then, I had come to the conclusion that it would probably be fairly horrible, what with the banging my head on doors and the problems of accidentally standing on my hosts and so on. I'd made sufficient contingency plans, like knee-pads for walking on, and a cushion to sit on, that I knew if I was ever taken I'd be okay for a while, though.

However, I had never, not once in all my imaginings, considered that I would ever find myself in the land of the Beautiful People. So, I didn't have any contingency plans for such an eventuality.

An oversight I really, really, really regretted as I met what I suddenly realised were the rest of the X-Men.

Betsy strolled into the kitchen, drawn mostly by a vague curiosity about this woman who was supposed to be assisting Hank in the laboratory with whatever it was that had him working there all the time. She stood just in the lee of the door for a minute, and scanned the room. Yes, the newcomer had just entered. With practised ease she slid into the new mind.

::Paper bag! I need a big paper bag!::

Betsy blinked, and leaned over so she could see the girl in question. She was nodding at Rogue, smiling cheerfully.

::My GOD, where do they get these people ... If I looked, would I find an air inlet valve?:: Came the slightly frantic mental voice.

Betsy subdued a smile easily, and watched as Hank introduced the girl to Ororo. She settled comfortably against the doorframe, watching and listening to the double show.

"Please to meet you," Ororo smiled benignly on the girl. "We've been looking forward to your arrival."

::Oh, Christ:: "You were? My goodness." ::Oh, Lordy, they were LOOKING FORWARD to this? What's going on?:: "I'm honoured to meet you. This is a lovely College." The new girl, Naomi, smiled. ::She's a doll! She's like one of those porcelain dolls I thought were too prissy ... But for real.::

Kitty stepped forward. "Hi, I'm Kitty Pryde, resident computer wiz. Any questions about the system, ask me. You can ask some of these others, but they really don't know what they're talking about.

Naomi grinned back. ::Hey, she's not so bad. Maybe I could have eye-holes in the paper bag.:: "Hey. I'll have to try really hard to remember your name then." Her smile kind of solidified on her face as Gambit stepped forward and took her hand.

"And I am Remy LeBeau," he announced, touching his lips to her hand.

::Oh my. Ohmyohmy! What is he doing? What the? What kinda a weirdo is this guy?::

Betsy's grin grew wider as Naomi blinked bemusedly at Remy.

"Er ... hi. Naomi. Is my name. Um." ::Oh, dear lord, don't let him be one of those guys who thinks all he has to do is flutter his eyelashes and ... He did it! He fluttered! I saw it, there was distinct fluttering. Why do they always do this, when they know I'm a short, pudgy chick that they'll be ignoring in no time? Dammit!::

Remy looked up smiling at the newcomer, and was surprised to see her face a careful blank. Before he could say anything, Hank passed on to the last person in the room. "And this, Naomi, is old of my oldest colleagues, Warren Worthington III."

::He's blue. He's gorgeous. He's got wings. Dammit, forget about the eye-holes.::

Betsy smothered her smile once more and stepped forward, a slinking feline figure, and as Naomi caught sight of her, and her mind went into frantic overload.

::Just whip me out a body-bag, boys, I won't be needing anything else for my stay here.::

It was a fairly busy week for the X-Men, so I managed to avoid then without too much difficulty as I got used to my way around the Mansion, or at least the bit that was between my room, the kitchen, the bathrooms and the laboratory. However, on the Friday, I finally ended a conversation I'd been having with myself for some days now, and wandered into the office where Henry was poring over some results.

"Errr, Henry?" I asked quietly, wussing out at the last minute, and happy to leave if he didn't hear me.

"Yes, Naomi?" he said, turning around and looking at me even, leaving his results on the desk. Damn! This meant I'd have to keep going.

I took a deep breath, and tugged a piece of paper out of my lab coat pocket. "I've ... Listen, I really like the set up here, and it's a great opportunity, but..." I think he was beginning to think I was insane, actually, and if I kept not finishing my sentences, he'd also think I was a moron.

"Are you saying you aren't happy here?" he asked, big eyes peering over little-old-man-glasses in concern.

I blinked at him, suddenly aware that he was getting totally the wrong impression. "Oh, no I don't want to quit! Hell no, I love this job, and I, it's really cool, and I'm sure I'll figure out exactly what that buzzing noise is coming from in no time and..." He was looking at me oddly again. I took a deep breath, and suppressed the urge to demand that he forget about this and let me start the conversation again. "Okay, it's just that, well, there's a few things I've noticed about the lab, and the health and safety system here."

Henry blinked at me earnestly. "Health and safety?"

I retreated behind my piece of paper for support. "Yeah. Um ... Like no eating in the lab, and the labcoats and gloves used when appropriate. Labelling of all the reagents and a list of ways to clean up the spills of the chemicals, or if there's a poisoning. And there really should be a shower, a fire-blanket, extinguisher, flammable chemical cupboard and an eyewash. We should definitely have an area separate for working with the gel electrophoresis, also with the virus, tissue culture, 'cause you've got some contamination and you need some benchcoat to put down on the benches to mop up any spills. Also, some hibiclens, or whatever handwash kills the most bugs. And you really shouldn't be sleeping in the lab, that's just dangerous." I paused and took a deep breath, then peeked at Henry over the paper.

He was sitting there with the strangest look on his face. I cringed a little waiting for his response.

The pause stretched. Oh gods, this time I really was going to be fired. Maybe I should have just ignored the things. I shuddered mentally at the thought of the time I'd caught Henry eating some particularly American creamy snack as he surveyed blood-films through a microscope. Uncovered blood-films. That was just icky. No, I'd had to say something. However, it now looked like I'd fried Henry's brain, the way he was just sitting there now. He blinked occasionally, but mostly he just sat. A minute later, I was getting worried. Surely I hadn't broken Henry McCoy, I mean what would I do? How would I tell the world that I'd broken the famous Dr Henry McCoy? No one would ever forgive me. Worse, a whole bunch of the people who wouldn't forgive me were armed, or at least dangerous semi-terrorists. I didn't really need this to end my week.

Finally Henry sat back and a slow, but incredibly wide, smile crept across his face. He sat back in his chair. "You've thought this through?" he asked.

I nodded dumbly. I was sure that I could think of more things, but right now I didn't want to accidentally break Henry again. He was smiling more now and it was getting more and more worrying. This was getting all weird.

He leaned forward suddenly, startling me, and grabbed the piece of paper, which he took his time perusing. I waited, again. There were way too many silences in this conversation for me to be comfortable with.

I was just getting mesmerised by the pattern that his screen-saver on the office computer was making when he spoke, waking me up from my revere.

"Naomi, I'd like you to implement all of these things," he said, his tone very reasonable. And there he stopped. For a man who usually had a lot to say, that seemed very ... minimal, but I was happy to let it go at that. I could feel my eyebrows going up and a tiny nervous twitch at my lips that might be mistaken for a smile.

Henry's smiled extend, and he bared more teeth. "However, I'm sure you know how much work will have to go into this. You may regret pointing out how blithely I've been ignoring these procedures."

With a sudden flash of the more horrible kind, I suddenly realised what this would entail. At the very least, days of paperwork. At the most, days of paperwork. I groaned and put my hands over my face. "Who's stupid idea was this anyway?" I whined.

Henry just laughed, but it was a cheerful laugh.

There was something comforting about the way that the same sorts of people pop up no matter where you are. Bobby was one of those types. No matter where you are, there's going to be a Bobby type. Thanks to the fact that I've got brothers like him, he was probably the only person in the college I wasn't either employed by or intimidated by. Which was why, on my second Sunday morning at Xavier's I was sitting eating a banana, sipping hot chocolate (and only occasionally dipping the banana in the drink) chatting about how we thought that any Pokemon that sets Ash on fire every so often can't be all bad.

I was getting all comfortable, because who's going to come into the kitchen on a Sunday morning? That was at least my sixth mistake. Just after I managed to dribble chocolate down the front of my shirt (of course) and was waving around a half-eaten banana with brown liquid dripping from it, and proclaiming that I didn't care if Brock was a cartoon character, he could cook and sew and was therefore my soul mate, when she walked in. 'She' being some blonde woman in, wait for it, white lingerie. The whole thing: bodice, garters and white fuck-me boots. I froze naturally enough, as she walked in with that walk that can apparently only be walked by women in lingerie and boots. My jaw dropped open (exposing half-chewed banana to the world) and I could only sit there and watch her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Bobby was doing pretty much the same thing. The Woman In White, who I was willing to bet had never spilt hot chocolate down her cleavage, or at least not by accident, walked that walk over to the coffee, poured a cup then smiled at Bobby. Her voice was smooth as she spoke, the first words since she'd come in the room.

"Good morning, Robert." Then she left again, leaving Bobby and I gaping.

I recovered a little faster than Bobby, and sank lower in my chair. "It's not fair! Let me guess, she was a model too. I never met any models before I came here, and now they're popping out of the bloody woodwork. Is there a conspiracy to make me feel small and dumpy and ... Bobby? Bobby?"

Bobby popped out of his vague stare with a start. "Wha?"

I decided to be gentle on him. Seeing something like that can take it out of a boy. "Who was that, Bobby?"

Bobby finally dragged his eyes away from the doorway. "That was the great Emma Frost."

I looked at him blankly, not having a clue what he was talking about. "And?"

Bobby blinked. "You know. Emma Frost. Of Frost Enterprises."

"Nope. Dunno that either. What's Frost Enterprises?" His eyes got wider as I admitted what appeared to be my shameful ignorance.

"The company? Big, lotsa money..." Bobby did the 'are you an idiot' look and scaled down his explanation. "You know money, right?"

I had to hit him for that one. "Yeah, I know money. Okay, she runs some big company. But what's she doing here?"

Again with the look. "Because she's the headmistress of the high school."

What can you do, I ask you? The woman is a head of a major corporation, and a school. "She probably cooks too." I muttered miserably. There was something about these people that was horrible to your self-esteem if you weren't 'super'.

Bobby laughed suddenly. "She can't cook to save herself, from what Jubes has told me," he said.

I decided to let this 'Jubes' go. My life was complicated enough just trying to keep up with the people who lived at the college without trying to figure out the rest of the connections. Besides, when you get right down to it, it's probably unwise to find out too much. I shook my head at Bobby.

"I don't think that you understand. I mean you're used to these people. It's just it feels weird." I couldn't possibly explain this to Bobby, who'd lived here for years. It wasn't only that I was surrounded by beautiful, dangerous people. It was that most of them were smart and rich too. It was like someone had collected the people who were most like to make me self-conscious, put them all in the one spot and let me loose. That being all that you'd have to do, because like most people, the more I was around people like that the more I managed to do things that proved exactly how much of a loser I was.

Like that Remy guy. Let me put this simply. He has one of the nicest bodies I have met. Ever. Even counting some of my gay friends, who naturally have great bodies because they're just like that. He's a gorgeous guy. With a cool accent. Of course, I decided about two minutes into my introduction to the people here at Xavier's that I wasn't even going to think about lusting after these people. They are so much out of my league that it hurt.

I managed to avoid them mostly. Sitting quietly at meal, reading something educated, or just looking vague if I had to eat with anyone else, keeping my head down as I walked through the building. There's a knack to avoiding people you're sharing a building with, which, like falling off a bicycle, is something you never quite manage to forget.

Just the day before, I'd wandered downstairs for a drink and on my way back upstairs to snuggle into my nice lovely bed, guilt-free lazing, when I spotted Henry and Remy in the hall. I really like my boss, but there's something just wrong about having to face up to him on my morning off. Plus, then I'd think of something I should get done over the weekend, and since the lab was just downstairs, I'd end up doing it. So, with lightness of feet I raced up the staircase and with heaviness and lack of elastics my pyjama pants stayed at the same level. It was only after five steps, when the waist was around my ankles, that I realised. Naturally, by this time, the two men were at the bottom of the stairs. I cursed the Lord that I wasn't wearing underwear under the flannelette pyjamas and without pausing, or bending over, so my top covered as much of my butt as possible, I squatted and tugged the pants up and continued running all the way to my bedroom.

There are some battles it is best to just run away from.

The moral of that particular story is that you should always, always wear underwear. And when your PJ elastic goes, toss them.

Anyway, I wasn't going to tell this story to Bobby to prove my point. If Henry or Remy hadn't told him about my mooning them, I certainly wasn't. And from the look on Bobby's face, he just did not understand why his friends got me down so bad.

I finished off my banana. Sometimes there's nothing else a girl can do.


This is just to explain to myself what I'm doing.

The X-gene is actually a load of crock. It should be referred to as the X-promoter region. Apparently, mutant powers occur when a particular area of genome that, according to conventional genome-mapping wisdom is 'junk DNA' undergoes a particular series of mutations, making it into a promoter region.

A promoter region is the bit of DNA before the bit that codes for the gene, like the pre-game show at a football game. The promoter of a gene is the switch that turns on the reading of the gene. This X-Gene junk DNA is kinda conserved (the same a lot of the time though out the population) however there is quite a few 'hot spots' for mutations (changes), which is why there are so many different kinds of mutants. There are a couple of theories about how exactly that region after the promoter works, either straight out, or as a superregulator (regulates all sorts of other things) itself. Research essentially is six of one and half a dozen of the other. Scientists, bah, they have to make things complicated.

(Of course everyone has the variations, so that makes everyone mutants, in that way, it's just that not everyone has that promoter region switched on, only the 'Homo superior' or whatever psuedo scientific term that Magneto dude is using this week. Don't get me started.)

That's what the whole 'Mutants' thing is about. What Legacy does, we think (see that? 'we think' as in Dr McTaggert, Dr McCoy and me! Talk about big-head time), is that Legacy, as do most viruses, inserts its DNA into the DNA of the host. What it does that affects mutants, is that it inserts this DNA into that promoter region. Bad news for mutants, because they've got the region, otherwise they wouldn't BE mutants, and of little interest to 'normal' (I hate that word) humans. I'll come back to Legacy-3 later.

Unfortunately for all those paranoids out there, diseases aren't 'out to get us'. In fact it's considered a bad thing to kill your host, because then you die too. However Legacy does something not good. It inserts itself into the off-switch of the promoter. (Okay, I didn't mention this, but there is also an inhibitor region within the promoter, which is similar to many other inhibitor sequences. It is the regulatory bit, the off-switch. Henry says that he thinks that without the inhibitor region the foetal mutant is automatically aborted, probably before the mother is aware that she's pregnant. ?Could explain the world-wide drop in birth-rates? Think about this one later.)

However, the virus screws up the inhibitor. It does this one cell at a time, one copy of the 'X-gene' at a time, so the affects aren't felt at first. Then, as the number of copies increases, it starts inserting itself into other places in the genome, other related inhibitor regions in particular, preventing the transcription of DNA. This means that cells can't produce proteins or produces too much, can't reproduce properly, and can't function. This will mean death in short order.

However, in some cases people live longer. This is where it all gets a bit more tricky. This is also where the different strains, as if one type was not bad enough, come in. Legacy-1 is the one mentioned above. Legacy-2 is a slightly different creature. It was actually designed to insert into a different bit of the inhibitor and is a lot more specific to the so-called X-gene.

From what I've picked up, someone designed this disease, and I'd like to shake their hand then shove a white-hot poker up their arse for it. Legacy-2 is a charming variation that targets this specific region and is slow-replicating. There is the possibility that it can sit dormant in host-cells for a while too. Together these features mean slow, painful, power-screwed death to the host. This is the 'chronic' strain.

Legacy-3 is the bastard child of Legacy-1, really. At some point, the gene has undergone enough selective pressure to no longer need the presence of the X-promoter off-switch to replicate. So, humans can get it. However, this version isn't as virulent as the normal form, and, if my little bit of data is correct, it actually inserts sections of promoter-like sequence into the genome, as well as mucking up the cell-replication and function. Kinda like a DIY mutation kit. There aren't many cases of it, however, and it's slow working, so we don't know exactly what will happen.

What I'm doing is looking at that region, and from samples taken over time, working out what the effect on the DNA sequence of it is. And hopefully doing some other bits and pieces to help with the things Henry is doing. At least that bit won't be quite as repetitive as all that bloody sequencing. Who said science wasn't dull?

Hank looked up as Naomi walked into the office from the corridor, not from the lab. She'd gone to cadge a lift from someone to the shops at lunchtime, so she could restock the office-fridge with the required sugary-junk.

She didn't look happy though. Hank tilted his head to the side and looked carefully. Sheepish, even. She held the shopping bag behind her back, and smiled nervously at him.

"Um, Henry, you know how I was going shopping for twinkies?" she started.

Hank felt his eyes widen. "You did say that, yes."

"We-ell, there's a sad story about your twinkies," she said, then groped behind her, and pulled out a half-kilo bag of M&Ms. She lay them down carefully on the office desk beside him. Hank looked at it. There was something very untwinkie-like about the packet.

"How sad, exactly?" he asked, helplessly.

Naomi gave this careful consideration, her hands still clasped behind her back. "More annoying than sad, I guess. You see, I was going to get the twinkies. I was walking towards the Twinkie-section, when this little voice called out. 'Hey! You!' it called." Naomi paused, Hank could see her measuring his expression with her eyes. He nodded, unable to resist curiosity, and she continued.

"So, I look around and there's no one there. But there's still this little voice. 'You wanna buy me, dontcha?' I quietly asked who it was and the voice got all pissed off. 'What are ya, deaf? I'm the M&M's, stupid.' Now, I don't take crap from candy, so I turned to go, but they kept talking really fast so I wouldn't escape, I guess. 'Come on, you know you wanna eat M&Ms. Yummy chocolate'. But I wasn't having any of that crap. 'I've gotta get twinkies for my boss' I said firmly. Of course this pack of M&Ms was experienced. You know how they get."

Hank nodded wordlessly, since this seemed to be expected.

"So, it said 'Look, you don't want that gooey stuff. I'm much better. I crunch.' I didn't think this was very good logic and told it so. It wouldn't shut up, and it kept coaxing, and saying things like different coloured junk-food was good for you. I wasn't having none of that, and then, would you believe, it turned on the emotion. 'No one wants to buy me!' it sobbed, so loudly it was attracting attention, 'No one cares about me at all! They all just want soft creamy filling, and they just ignore me, neglect me on the shelf and walk over to get those horrible blocks of chocolate, which are boring or cakey-things which are stodgy. And I'm left, all on my own.' In the end I had to buy the damn packet didn't I? I mean, everyone was looking at me like I was kicking a puppy as this pack of M&M's sobbed at me."

Hank thought about this. "I guess you couldn't leave it there," he said. Then he added plaintively, "But didn't the twinkies talk to you at all?"

Naomi took a step back. "Of course not. Twinkies can't talk." And with that, she'd gone again.



Later that afternoon, Naomi snuck the five packs of twinkies she'd bought into the office fridge. Hank had gone out for some fresh air and a drink with Bobby. Mission accomplished.

Feedback would be much appreciated. Tell me if you think I should stop the Story of Naomi or not.