**Standard Mice Disclaimer**
The room was laden with heavy tension as Warren gazed upon Jean, Jean gaped at Scott, and Scott gawked at Jean. When Bobby looked at Hank, Hank bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing.
The two outsiders crept silently into the hall. After Bobby closed the door behind him, Hank struck a pose appropriate for angst. "Oh, Jean, you are of magnanimous beauty, if only--but no!! It is not to be!!!"
"Oh, Scott!!" Bobby began to say in a ridiculously high falsetto before switching back to his normal voice, which was not that much deeper. "You are Scott, right?"
Bobby grinned and continued in his falsetto. "Oh, Scott!! You are so handsome and you brood -- how can I not resist you??!!! Oh, darling, if only -- but we can't!! Not while you lead us -- us, the X-Men!!!!"
Hank and Bobby dissolved into laughter in the hallway. "Poor Warren; does the guy know he's licked, Hank?"
"'Poor Warren?' Pee shaw, Bobby, choose your words more carefully!"
"Well, if I could afford them ten dollar words you throw around, I would!"
Hank laughed again. "Tell you what. Why don't we sally forth to a local hang out for something to drink...get ourselves out of this place of mighty angst?"
Bobby's grin faded into a nervous tremble. "Don't you think that maybe we should invite the others?"
Hank cleared his throat. "Oh, Jean!! I can tell by the way you slurp your soda that you will never care for me, but always for Warren!!!!"
Bobby threw his hands up in defeat and grinned again. "All right, all right, let's get out of here!"
Bobby threw his free hand up in defeat in the phone booth at the airport. "Opal, I know you're home ... I wish you'd pick up the phone. You know my number, so please call me back ... oh! It's Bobby, in case you didn't, uh, know that -- Jubilee, I'll be out in a minute!! -- uhm, bye.." Bobby slowly hung the phone back on the cradle and slunk out of the phone booth.
Jubilee raised the eyebrow of suspicion. "Who'd you call, Bobby?"
"No one's home?" Harpo Lubbock growled at his family's answering machine from the confines of his new dorm room. "All right ... it's just me, your only son ... wanted to let ya'll know Ah made it all right to Massachusetts ... Ah haven't done jack yet, but, uh, one of the students here assure me that it's normal ... the kids seem all right...this might not be as bad as Ah originally thought ... so, uhm, call me back so ya'll can tell me what's going on ... and stuff. Okay, Ah gotta get off the phone ... Ah love you."
"I love you," Maddy greeted William with a kiss and a giggle.
"What was that for?"
Maddy shrugged. "Just for being you, Willie." Maddy threw her arms around her husband and planted another kiss on his head.
William grinned and took Maddy's hands into his. "I love you, too, Madeline."
"I made some peach cobbler for desert..."
"Maddy, you didn't have to do that--"
"Oh, yes I did, William Robert Drake! I have been moping around this house for the past week and just behaving badly. I needed to do something nice for you for putting up with me."
William laughed. "I don't consider putting up with you punishment, Maddy!"
Maddy kissed William once more before going into the kitchen. "Get the phone while I fix up a plate for you, all right?"
William sighed. "Maddy, the phone isn't--" The phone began to ring. "Ringing. Damn, that's eerie..." William walked over to the phone. "Hello?"
"Will, Ah need ta talk ta you."
"Come on, Lady, talk to me..." Bobby tried to coax his ancient Ford Escort. "Purr for me..."
Jubilee rolled her eyes from the passengers side. "Do you two want to get a room?"
Bobby, the mature being he was, stuck his tongue out at Jubilee. "I know what I'm doing, all right? Lady Jaye always needs a little coaxing..."
Jubilee made a face. "‘Lady Jaye'?!"
Bobby growled. "G.I. Joe, J."
"Before my time, Bob." Jubilee looked at the hood of the car and tugged on Bobby's sweater. "Uhm ... Bobby ... I may not know a lot about cars, but when there is smoke coming out from under the hood of the car, I know that it isn't good thing..."
"Is this a good thing or a bad thing?" Hank asked while placing his hands neatly in his lap, ready to listen to his new friend.
Annie cleared her throat as she began to fidget with her hair. "Well, it's not really either, I mean you really can't say that it's good or bad, uh...what I mean to say is...uh...uhm...do you think that this is wise?"
"Do I think what is wise? Your outfit? If that's what you're trying to ask me, Annie, I will be of little help, as my attire can more than assure you of..."
Annie smiled as she shook her head. "No, silly ... I mean ... do you really think it's wise for me to be here?"
Hank took off his glasses and stared at Annie. "I don't see any wiser opportunity you could have taken, Annie."
"I know, Hank, but I feel like I really don't belong here--"
"And just where do you think you belong?"
"Back home in Wyoming..."
Hank raised an eyebrow. "Working as a waitress in a truck stop?"
"It was a living..."
"Still engaged to that ragamuffin?"
"Hey!" Annie objected. "Uh...what exactly is a ragamuffin?"
Hank sighed. "Forget about the 'ragamuffin' comment...Annie, your gifts were going to waste back there!"
Annie whimpered. "'Gifts'?! I have a crappy mutancy--" Annie stopped herself as she looked at Hank. "Well, that isn't to say that mine is the crappiest, but ... well ... your mutancy made you just uber cute, but what do I have?!"
"Annie, your power isn't as horrible as you are making it seem."
"I know, but a really, really, really good memory isn't exactly rackin' me up any cute points!"
Hank brushed some hair off of her cheek. "That's because you are already cute, Miss Peckenpaugh." Hank smiled warmly as he looked into her eyes. "And your power is not lame, nor is it 'crappy.' It would be if you were not using it for a greater good."
"Yeah, I know recalling the perfect brownie recipe in the heat of battle is going to save the world one day..." Annie snorted.
"I don't know, Annie ... Apocalypse does consider brownies to be one of the strong ... as long as they have walnuts."
Annie scrunched up her brow. "Apoca-who?"
Hank chuckled. "Don't worry about it now, Annie. Tell you what, why don't we sally forth to a local hang out and get a drink?"
"Just you and me?"
"Are you sure you don't want anyone else to come with us?"
"Do you want anyone else to come with us?"
Annie's mouth parted as if to speak, but no words fell out right away. "Well ... uh..."
Hank grinned. "Look, Annie. Obviously, throwing you into a large group of a people and expecting you to bond with all of us at once was a bad idea. My hypothesis is if you get to know us as individuals, we can rectify this 'I do not belong' line of thinking. What do you say?"
"What do you say, Bobby?"
Bobby glared at the pint-sized, loud-mouthed pixie on his right, trying to push the image a crew of firefighters putting out his car. "If you hadn't sent me to the phone to call a taxi, I might have been able to save my car."
Jubilee shook her head. "I was looking for a, 'Thank you, Jubilee, for ridding me of this pile of junk,' actually..."
Bobby continued to glared. "At least you had enough sense to get our stuff out of the car before it went up in flames..."
Jubilee smiled. "Is that a thank you?"
"It's a 'I'm not going to kill you right now in a blind rage'."
Continued in Chapter 1.