X-S, or, Growing Up X
(With special help, encouragement,
and guidence from JF Jackson and Bethany)
"I must be insane," Kimber muttered as she paced the room. "I must be totally out of my freaking mind." Whirling around, she looked at the blue, furry young woman sitting on the bed. "Tell me, Siku, is it too late for your father and I to run off and elope?"
Sikudhani looked up, a small smile playing across her lips. "Well, uh, considering that today is the day, that there is a Priest in the back yard, 200 plus guests milling around, waiting for you to make your appearance, one of which is my very nervous father in a tuxedo, I'd say you should have thought of eloping sooner."
Kimber looked out the window into the back yard below, where everything Siku described and more was waiting. "I guess you're right," she murmured. She turned back to Siku. "What the heck is this with all these people? I thought your father and I were just going to have our closest friends and family. Every being to ever put on unstable molecules and claim to be a hero is out there! Not to mention half the scientific and medical community!"
"What can I say, my dad is a popular guy." Siku stood up from the bed and walked over to Kimber. "What's the matter? Are you having second doubts about marrying Dad?"
Kimber shook her head. "No, of course not. I want to marry your father more than anything else in the world. What I'm not sure about is this!" She swept her hands over herself, indicating the long, cream colored dress she was wearing. "And this," she pointed out the window. "This whole, big, fussy wedding. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm not sure. Gesh, maybe Hank and I are too old to be playing this game. Weddings like this are for people your age, Siku. Not mine, not your father's. We should have just gone to a Justice of the Peace."
"No way!" Siku disagreed, grinning brightly. "Kimber, this wedding isn't just for you and for my father, it's for all of us who've been holding our breath for years, waiting for my father to get off the stick and marry you! Besides, it's not like this is a second marriage or something. This is the first time for both of you, you have the right to have as big and fussy a wedding as you want."
"As usual, dear Siku, you're right," Kimber sighed, looking at her soon-to-be stepdaughter. "I must be having those pre-marital jitters I've heard so much about."
Siku smiled, patting Kimber on the shoulder. "It's going to be all right, you'll see. Once you're walking down the isle, and you see how ravishing my father looks in his tux and see how happy he is to be marrying you, you'll forget all about everything else. This is going to be the happiest day of your life, you just wait and see."
Kimber smiled. It was a bit weak, but it was a smile. "I hope you're right."
"I know I'm right," Siku said. "Why don't you finish getting ready? I'll go see if everyone else is all set and send Uncle Logan up."
Kimber nodded. "Might as well get this show on the road." She waited until Siku had left the room, then walked over to the dresser, and picked up her hairbrush. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and frowned. I know something is going to go wrong today. It just has to. She studied her face carefully, looking for signs of a rash, or anything else that might break out suddenly, causing her to look disfigured. Her skin was flawless. She stepped back from the mirror and looked at her dress, twisting and turning to see if she could see anything wrong with that. It looked perfect. So why could she not shake the feeling something bad was going to happen?
A glitter of light coming from the corner of the mirror caught her eye. She looked up at it, wondering if it was the sun reflecting on the mirror, then realized it was a reflection from the other side of the room, away from the window. Whirling around, she looked.
The glimmer began to spread, forming an imperfect circle, about the size of a manhole cover. What in the world is this? Kimber thought. Cautiously, she approached it. I think it's a portal of some kind, but why is it opening here?
Siku smiled as she left the room Kimber was using to change. Wow, I never thought Kimber would have the jitters, she thought. She's been plugging for this for years! Well, actually, when she thought about it, it was not that surprising. Kimber wanted to be married to her father. That didn not necessarily mean she had thought about marrying him. The wedding itself had become quite a bit more complex than the original plans too. It seemed like everyone had their two cents to add, which quickly turned it into something bigger and grander than what either Hank or Kimber had envisioned the Christmas morning the two of them had sat in Hank's room discussing things.
She walked down the stairs and into the kitchen, mumbling, "If I ever get married, I won't listed to anyone but my future husband. We will plan exactly the type of wedding we want and to heck with everyone else. If they don't like it, they can take a flying leap."
"I completely agree," someone said.
She looked over to the sink, where the person behind the voice was getting a drink of water. Under her fur she knew she was turning bright red. "Uhm, hi Bryan, I-I didn't mean for you to hear that."
"Why not?" He smiled. "I agreed with you."
She looked at him, shaking her head and chuckling. "What is it about you that can always make me smile?" she asked.
"My stunning personality," he joked. "And my overwhelming cuteness. You can't resist."
"That must be it," she agreed.
"Of course, I wouldn't be half as cute if you weren't in the room," he said. "You're just bring out the best in me."
Again she smiled. "Well, I'd say the same about you." She looked over at him, admiring how handsome he looked in the tuxedo he was wearing, just as all the members of the wedding party were. He looks good in jeans and T-shirts; he looks good in a suit. How does he do it? She thought about Cameron, outside in his tuxedo, as all the ushers were. She knew he would look awkward and uncomfortable.
"What'cha thinking about?" he asked her, his head tipped to one side.
"That you look very nice in that suit," she admitted. "And that it was nice that Dad and Kimber asked you to be an usher and I'm glad you accepted."
"I was honored," he admitted. "I really like your folks... I mean, your dad and Kimber."
"It's all right to consider them both my parents," Siku said, grinning. "I already do. Of course, having so many surrogate parents, I might have some warped views on this." She too, was glad her father had asked Bryan to be in the wedding.
Since Siku had met Bryan at Christmas, he had been spending a lot of weekends at the mansion. At first it might have been mostly because he and Cameron were roommates, Siku knew a good part of the reason was to see her. That was just fine with her. She found herself coming home more weekends too and she knew it was to see him. She did not quite know how she would define their relationship, it rested now between boyfriend/girlfriend and just friends, but that was fine. They were both young, they had time. She did know though, that since she had met him, she had not even tried to date anyone else. Although they had not openly talked about it, she had a feeling Bryan was not "seeing" anyone else either.
"You look really beautiful," he said softly.
She blushed, looking down at the dress she was wearing. Light blue satin, with slippers dyed to match. "Well, I always did think blue was my color," she joked.
"Anything is your color," he said. "I've never seen you look bad in anything you wear."
"Even those tacky shorts I wear for running?" she asked, grinning. Every morning she tried to go running and she had gotten Bryan into the habit of going with her on weekends. She usually wore a pair of red running shorts with white piping on the side, washed until they had faded to a color somewhere between red and pink.
"Well, the shorts themselves aren't anything to look at," he cheerfully admitted. "But they're kinda short and kinda tight, so it does make the view nice."
She laughed. "So that's why you fall behind all the time! And here I thought I was just faster than you."
He grinned. "I'm not stupid!"
While it was tempting to stay in the kitchen and continue talking to Bryan, Siku knew she had other things she had to do. "Uh, I have to go see how Dad is doing and get Uncle Logan upstairs for Kimber."
"I understand," Bryan said. "I should be outside helping Cameron and the other ushers."
Kimber's eyes widened as she watched the portal open and strange visitors literally falling out if it in a jumbled mess. They looked like... the X-Men except for one major difference.
All of them were children. Small, cute, children with large, wistful eyes that reminded her of bad greeting cards or those Precious Moment porcelain figures. "I should have followed Bill Clinton's example and not inhaled when I was younger," she muttered
"Here you are!" The young version of Cyclops exclaimed.
"Er, yes, here I am," Kimber admitted. "Who are you?"
"We're the X-Babies!" Little Cyclops exclaimed proudly.
"Yeah!" A tiny version of Beast echoed, with equal self-importance.
"Isn't that nice," Kimber said. "Uhm... what are you doing here?"
"We're here because there is a great injustice going on," Beast Jr. said.
"Oh? And what is that?" Kimber thought she had better humor this munchkin version of her husband-to-be and his teammates. They looked harmless enough, but if they looked like the X-Men, they might have their abilities too.
"There is no you in our world," Baby Beast said. "There is no baby Kimber. And that is wrong."
"Uh, I'm really sorry to hear that," Kimber said, trying not to giggle. I'm having a dream, she thought. It's the night before my wedding and I'm having a bad dream. It's from all the pasta I ate at the rehearsal dinner. This is a lasagna induced dream.
While Baby Beast and Kimber spoke, the child Bishop had walked over to the door and secured it by putting a chair under the knob. He bounced back over to Beast and Scott. "The perimeter is secure," he announced. "No one is getting in."
"Are we gonna be able to get out if we have'ta?" Cyclops asked.
"Duh, all we gotta do is move the chair," Baby Bishop said, rolling his eyes. "But it doesn't matter, does it? We're just gonna portal to the secret hide-out, aren't we?"
"Oh yeah, that's right." The young leader of the team nodded.
"Okay, so there is no me where you come from," Kimber said, trying to get the conversation back on track. Lasagna dream or not, she still wanted to keep things moving. The faster it moved, the faster she would be able to finish it. "I'm sorry to hear about that, but it doesn't explain why you're here."
"Cause we're the best at what we do," young Wolverine said. "And now we're here to kidnap you!"
"Hey, that rhymed!" baby Storm exclaimed.
"Yeah, it did!" Looking very please with himself, the pint sized version of one of the most dangerous X-Men, gave his Jr. counterpart a "high five."
"Kidnap me?" Kimber said, shaking her head.
"Or, perhaps in your case, adultnap would be a better word," small Beast said.
"Whatever." A strange suspicion that this might not be a dream was slithering its way through Kimber's mind. "Look, I'm sorry guys, but this is my wedding day. I have to get married. I can't come with you."
Junior Cyclops glared at her, behind his tiny ruby visor. "I don't recall giving you a choice," he said as sternly as a small child could. "You're coming with us!"
Siku looked around at the decorated back yard and smiled. It did look nice. So many people had come for this wedding and it thrilled her to see how many friends her father and Kimber had. It's not just a wedding, she thought. It's kind of a reunion for all the X-Folks and half the superheroes. Besides the X-Groups, the Avengers were there, the Fantastic Four and quite a few others Siku did not know without their costumes. She was proud that her Dad was so popular.
She looked over to the section of the yard that had been set up for the reception after the ceremony. The band that had been hired was already playing, mostly soft rock love songs, just to keep things moving until the ceremony. She paused for a moment to listen:
I learn to feel what I cannot see
But with you I lose that vision
I don't know how to dream your dreams
So I'm all caught up in this superstitions
I want to reach out and pull you to me.
Who says I should let a wild one go free?
Trying catch your heart
Is like trying to catch a star
And I can't love you this much baby,
And love you from this far...
Waiting for a star to fall
And carry your heart into my arms
That's where you belong, in my arms baby, yeah,
She smiled to herself. I wonder who picked that one, she thought. She looked at the band. Two people were singing the song, a man, and a woman. The woman was tall with red hair and a voice that sailed over the crowd loud and clear. The man was about the same height as the woman, Asian, and playing an unusual guitar. What Siku knew about guitars could be summed up with the phrase "not much," but she knew she had not seen one like this before. It was a combination acoustic-electric with the hole on the top instead of in the center and a classic wood finish. They were both wearing nice clothes in honor of this being a wedding, but Siku had the feeling both of them were more comfortable in jeans, playing at a bar. I wonder if they're friends of Kimber's? she thought. She's the one with the connections in the music business.
Her father's voice came from behind her. "Sunshine?"
She whirled around. "Daddy!" She paused to look at him. He looked so sharp in his tuxedo. It was a classic design, no bow tie, because this was a morning wedding, but an ascot instead. He and Kimber are going to make a gorgeous couple. She shook her head, pulling herself back into reality, back to the situation at hand. "You look really nice," she said.
"So do you, Sunshine." Hank smiled fondly at his daughter, but Siku could still see that under the smile and the calm outer appearance, her father was a bundle of nerves. "But I must confess, I'll be glad when this is over."
"I think Kimber will be too," Siku admitted. "She's upstairs having a good case of premarital jitters."
"She's not having second thoughts is she?" Hank asked, looking worried.
"No, of course not," Siku assured him. "She's just a little nervous about all the people here. She'll be fine once things get underway. Speaking of which, are things all ready? Should I get Uncle Logan upstairs?"
"That might be a good idea," her father said. "If you think she's ready. Why do you suppose she asked Logan to give her away?"
Siku shrugged. "I don't know, Dad. Didn't you ask her?"
"No, I did not think it was my place."
"A little late now." She grinned. "You can ask her after the wedding."
Hank's only comment to that was, "I can only hope we have better things to do than discuss that on our honeymoon."
Siku grinned. "You go, Dad."
Kimber looked around to the place where she had been brought by the X-Munchkins and frowned. "You brought me to the Morlock tunnels?"
"Sure!" Baby Cyke said, nodding. "But they aren't the Morlock tunnels anymore. They're our secret headquarters."
"Some secret," Kimber said, frowning.
"Did you know they were our secret headquarters?" Cyke Jr. asked accusingly.
"No," Kimber admitted.
"Then see? It's a secret." He crossed his arms over his chest with a smug look of satisfaction.
"Do you live down here?" Kimber asked.
"No," Cyke admitted. "But we can't take you where we live. If we did and Dazz an' Longshot found you, they'd be mad. We're not 'pose to kidnap people."
"Adultnap," Little Storm reminded him.
Kimber buried her face in her hands and sighed. I'm never going to be able to tell this wedding day story to my grandchildren. They'll think I was smoking crack or something. She looked around for a place to sit. While the X-Babies had obviously been coming here for awhile, planning for this special event, they had not thought to bring anything for Kimber to sit on. There were plenty of colorful water guns, boxes of junk food, and brightly colored plastic toys. However, this area of the tunnels was slightly damp and very dirty.
"Have a seat," baby Psylocke suggested, the trace of a smirk on her face. She indicated a patch of ground that was more than a little... moist.
"No thanks," Kimber muttered. "This dress cost over a thousand bucks, I'm not getting mud on it." She shook her head. "Okay, now that you've got me here, what are you going to do about it?"
Young Cyclops and Beast stared at each other for a moment, startled. Obviously, neither of them had thought this far. "Uhm.. now we... now we..." Cyke began.
"You what?" Kimber snapped impatiently.
"We do the victory dance!" little Gambit suggested.
"Yeah, the victory dance!" child Cyke agreed.
Whooping and hollering, the X-Babies leaped about the tunnel, dancing with childish enthusiasm and zest. Kimber closed her eyes, ready to swap her soul for an aspirin.
"Err, guys, I hate to interrupt you, but what happens now?" Kimber called out, trying to be heard above the childish shouts of victory. "I mean, you've caught me, you've done your dance, now what do you plan to do with me?"
They stopped and stared at her. Looks of disappointment were clearly seen in some of their adorable little faces. "We-we hadn't thought that far," Baby Beast admitted. "The important thing was that we get you."
"Why is that so important?" Kimber asked. While she spoke to him, she began lowering her voice to a soothing tone. Although she wanted to start screaming angrily, she forced herself to keep calm and rational.
"Because-because it isn't fair!" Baby Beast said. "If there's no Baby Kimber for me, why should Big Beast get you?"
Okay, Kimber, start pushing. Slowly though, she told herself. Let's see if I can't use this mutant gift I have for some good other than calming down patients. "I can understand your frustration with the situation."
"Really?" The small, blue, furry boy looked a bit skeptical, but he was still listening. She's pretty, he thought. And she has such a nice voice.
"Yes," Kimber said, almost lovingly. "I think I'd be frustrated I were baby Kimber in your world, and there was no baby Hank for me."
"Yeah!" Small Beast said, nodding also. "It isn't fair. If I can't have a baby Kimber, why should Hank have you?"
Keep it calm, keep it happy, Kimber ordered herself. Despite her anger and frustration, she forced herself to stay happy, to fight away the worry. "Well, Hank and I love each other very much. And while we're sorry that there is no Baby Kimber for you, does that really make it right to stop Adult Hank and I from being together?"
"Uhm..." the young blue lad began only to be interrupted by the pint-sized version of Jean Grey.
"She's doing it!" The tiny redhead shouted. "She's usin' her emotion transmission gift thingie to make you see her side! Block it, Beast!"
Baby Beast's eyes narrowed. "You cheated!" he shouted, glaring at her. "You cheated and you almost succeeded!"
Feeling only a bit silly and uncomfortable in his tuxedo, Logan tapped on the door Kimber had been using to get ready. When a few seconds passed without hearing anything, he knocked again and this time called out, "Kimber, darlin' you ready?"
Again, there was no answer.
He tried the knob to the door and while it turned, he could not push the door open. What the hell is goin' on 'round here? he thought. Whatever it was, he had a feeling it was not good. "Kimber, if you don't answer me in five seconds, I'm breaking in the door! One...Two... Three...Four..."
"Five!" Barely had the words left his mouth when he slammed into the door with his shoulder. He heard the splinter of cracking wood, and the door flew open, scattering the remains of the chair that had been used to block it shut. Claws extended, Logan looked around the room.
No one was there. A faint breeze blew through the open window, but the window itself did not look tampered with. Cautiously, he walked around, checking out the room. The door to the bathroom was open, and Kimber was not in there, either.
His eyes narrowing, Logan sniffed. He could smell Kimber all over the place, but he could smell something else too. Oh no, he thought. Not them! What kind of mischief are they up to? And what did they do with Kimber?
He left the room, hurrying down the stairs where Siku was waiting. "Siku, darlin' we've got some trouble. Kimber's been kid-nabbed."
"Kidnapped?" Siku's eyes widened in horror.
"No, I mean kid-nabbed. Taken by children. It's a long story. I'm gonna get the team together. In the meantime, why don't you see if you can come up with something to keep the normals at the wedding here, without alarming them."
"Sure, Logan, give me the tough job." Siku's brow was crisscrossed with worry lines. "Is Kimber going to be all right?"
"I think so," Logan said. "They're mischievous and clever, but I've never known them to be cruel."
"Who?" Siku asked, feeling puzzled.
"Never mind who, Darlin'," Logan said. "We've got a job to do. We've got to rescue the bride."
With Siku's help, Logan managed to get all the members of the X-Men into the mansion. It was not as hard as it could have been, mostly because practically every member of the team was in the wedding.
"What's going on?" Bryan asked Siku. They were standing outside together, looking over the back yard.
"I don't quite know," Siku admitted. "It seems like Kimber is missing and Uncle Logan knows who took her, but he won't tell me."
"Wow," Bryan sucked his breath through his teeth in a low, whistle. "So what happens next? What do we do?" he indicated all the people, sitting, waiting for the wedding. Hank had already been called away from the makeshift altar. People were starting to get suspicious that something had happened.
"I've gotta come up with something to tell them," Siku said, biting her lower lip. "The problem is... what?" She looked at him. "Bryan, I'm trying to stay calm here, but I'm really worried. I want to know what's going on. Oh, I can't even think right now."
Although Bryan was worried himself about this, he understood instinctively that he could not afford to panic right now. Sikudhani might have a family full of super beings, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and all of that stuff, but they had their problems at the moment. He had to do what he could to make things easy for Siku. "Don't worry," he told her, putting his hand on his shoulder reassuringly. "I'll handle everyone here. You go and try to find out what's going on, okay?"
She looked at him, her eyes filled with gratitude. "Thanks, Bryan." Leaning over, she kissed him on the cheek. "I owe you big time for this."
"Just save a dance for me at the reception," he joked.
"You can have all of them," she promised. "If we even have a wedding." She turned and headed back into the house.
"I'm going to hold you to that!" Bryan called out.
She paused at the door, nodded to him, and then went inside.
Taking a deep breath, Bryan squared his shoulders. Okay, I agreed to be the hero. But what do I say to these people?
He walked over to the band, who was not playing at the moment, because the wedding was supposed to be happening. Someone was playing the organ over closer to where the ceremony was supposed to be taking place. "Uhm, hi," he said, trying to sound cheerful.
"Hi," the female lead singer said. "What's up? The bride having second thoughts?"
"Uhm, I don't think so," Bryan said. "But...er, there does seem to be some type of problem. Nothing serious, but we were wondering if you'd be willing to play a little, you know, keep everyone entertained until we can get the show on the road."
The lead singers exchanged looks and shrugged. "Sure, why not?" the man said.
The woman walked over to the edge of the makeshift stage and crouched, so she was looking Bryan straight in the eyes. "Is this a regular problem, or a spandex one?" she asked softly.
Bryan's eyes widened and he swallowed. He knew who the X-Men were, but he did not know the band did. "Uh," he stammered.
"Kimber and I go a ways back," the woman said slowly. "We have a lot in common."
Bryan looked into her eyes and noticed they suddenly shifted color from green to blue. His own eyes widened for a moment. "I don't really know," he finally admitted. "Kimber seems to be missing. But I don't know who took her or why. All the X-Men are inside the house figuring out what to do."
The woman nodded, and rose. "Ian, can you handle this?" she asked, indicating the crowd and the band.
Ian, the male lead nodded. "Yeah, I think so, Rhiannon. Why? What's up?"
"I don't know yet," Rhiannon admitted. "But I'm going to find out." She leaped off the stage and looked at Bryan. "C'mon, let's see if we can go find the gang."
"What do you mean the bride is missing!" Hank thundered, glaring at Logan. He had just arrived in the living room where the rest of the X-Men had been discussing the problem. "Where is she?"
She's been taken, I think," Logan said calmly. "I can't say for sure."
"But I can." Charles said. The minute he spoke everyone in the room calmed down and looked at him.
"Can you read her?" Hank asked.
Charles nodded. "She just tried to contact me."
"Is she all right?" Hank looked about ready to grab the professor by the throat and shake the information out of him.
"I think so. The message she sent is, 'Help, I'm surrounded by munchkins'."
"Huh?" Hank's brows furrowed.
"It's the X-Babies," Logan said. "I could smell em' when I went up to the room."
"What would the X-Babies want with Kimber?" Hank asked, bewildered.
"Never mind that," Scott said, frowning. "Professor, do you know where they are?"
Charles nodded. "They're in the Morlock tunnels. Apparently, they've set up their 'secret headquarters' there."
"Secret headquarters?" Siku asked, joining the group.
"Well, let's go get her," Hank said. He looked at the professor. "Does Kimber seem to be in any danger?"
"No," Charles said. "I'm not sensing any fear or danger. More... annoyance."
"Annoyance?" Siku echoed in question. She could not imagine someone feeling nothing but annoyance at being kidnapped, even if it was their wedding day. Who exactly had kidnapped Kimber? And why?
Hank turned to his daughter. "You stay here, Sunshine. We'll be back soon."
"But-" Siku began, then stopped. They were all running off, ignoring her. Great, Siku thought, frustrated. Don't really tell me what's going on, just rush off. Gesh, are they ever going to stop treating me like a child?
She turned and started heading outside, deciding to see how Bryan was handling the crowd. As she turned the corner to walk into the kitchen, she ran into Bryan and the female singer from the band. "Hi," she began.
"What's going on?" the woman said.
Siku's brow furrowed. She looked over at Bryan who shrugged, obviously knowing something Siku did not, but not knowing how to say it.
"Uhm," Siku began.
"Look, I know Kimber. I know who she is. I know who you are, I know who everyone here is," the woman said. "Yeah, I know, the blue fur is hard to hide, but even if you were normal I'd know. Kimber and I are friends. I'm Rhiannon Lestan and you aren't the only mutant in the room."
"Oh," Siku said. "Well, uh, Rhiannon, Kimber seems to have been taken. They know where she is, they're going to get her," Siku added.
"Do you know where they went?" Rhiannon asked.
Siku nodded. "The Morlock tunnels."
"Where are they?" Rhiannon asked. "I might be of some help."
"I-I'd better take you," Siku said. "You might get lost trying to make your way around here."
"Well, c'mon then," Rhiannon said.
They started to the entrance to the basement with Bryan following. "You shouldn't come," Siku said.
"You shouldn't either," Bryan said. "You've told me you're not a superhero either. If you go, I'm going."
Siku looked at him, smiling gratefully. He smiled back.
"Young love, ain't it grand?" Rhiannon said. "Can we save it for later though, and go?"
Nodding, Siku opened the door to the basement and started leading them down.
Think, Kimber think, the bride ordered herself. There has to be a way out of this situation. She looked over at Cyclops Jr. "Okay, you've proven your point, you were able to kidnap me. Now why don't you just let me go and we'll forget this whole thing."
The X-Baby leader stared at her, his lips twisted into a puzzled frown. He looked at the young Beast. "Uh..."
"No!" Baby Beast exclaimed. "The point wasn't just to kidnap her, the point was to make it so if I don't have a Kimber, he doesn't either!" He stomped his small blue foot on the floor.
Well, that didn't work, Kimber thought. She bit her lip and began pacing the small area where they were keeping her, trying hard not to step on little feet and toes.
"Stop that," young Rogue ordered. "All that walkin' back an' forth is makin' me jumpy."
"Well, what am I supposed to do?" Kimber snapped.
"Play with this." She handed Kimber a small round object.
Kimber looked at it. "A yo-yo?"
"Yeah, it's great fun."
Kimber hesitated, then looped it on her finger. "I used to have one of these when I was a kid. Let's see if I still know how to use it."
As she was remembering how to do "over the falls," the young versions of Bishop and Gambit came running up to the group. "Someone's on the other side of the door," Gambit said. "It's them."
Thank God! Kimber silently prayed. She had been sending messages to Charles, but he had made no effort to contact her, to let her know they were received. He's probably afraid I'd give it away. Like these kids would figure it out.
"I didn't think they'd find us this soon," baby Cyclops said frowning.
"We secured the door," small Bishop added. "But I think they might be able t'get through it. We didn't have much time an' much stuff t'block it with."
The young leader frowned and nodded. "Well, you know what this means, everyone. X-Babies assemble; it's time for war! To your weapons, men!"
"We're not all men!" little Storm complained.
"Yeah," baby Jean echoed. "You should have said, to your weapons, people!"
"Whatever!" Under his visor young Cyclops rolled his eyes.
There was a great scramble of arms and legs as the young X-Babies scurried over to the supply of water guns to arm themselves. Oh, wonderful, Kimber thought. Water, dirt, and everyone dressed for a wedding. This will be a day to remember.
"You're not allowed to hurt anyone," baby Cyclops reminded them in a high-pitched squeaky voice. "Just keep them away."
If a bunch of water guns and little pipsqueaks can keep Hank away from me, then I have second thoughts about this marriage, Kimber thought meanly.
"Gambit, you stay and guard the prisoner," baby Hank said.
A slow grin passed over the young Gambit's face and he walked over to Kimber. "Okay!"
"Guard means guard!" young Rogue reminded him. "It does not mean look up her dress!"
"I wouldn't do that!" baby Gambit protested. "You can trust me."
Logan tried the door that lead to the tunnels and was not surprised to find that it was blocked. "We've gotta bust through," he commented.
"Did they lock it?" Storm asked.
"No, just blocked it with junk. Stand back everyone."
"Let me help," Hank said.
The two men stepped back then ran for the door, putting their shoulders into it. For a moment it seemed as if the door would hold, then it literally ripped off the hinges, falling forward into the tunnels, Hank, and Wolverine falling on top of it. The door landed on a pile of junk, teetered for a brief moment, then pitched forward, sliding Hank and Logan down on the dirt floor. The moment they landed, they were assaulted with multiple streams of water, coming from high-powered water guns.
"What in the world?" Hank roared, rolling to his feet. The tunnel floors were dirty and dusty. With the water added, the tuxedo he was wearing was beginning to turn into a muddy mess.
"We got him!" the triumphant voice of young Cyclops hollered.
"Yeah, big Wolverine, too!" someone else chimed in.
Logan leaped to his feet in a half-crouch. "Okay, kids, give 'er back."
"Give who back?" young Beast asked in mock innocence.
"You know who he means," the adult version of Scott said, climbing over the door and other rubble along with the rest of the X-Men. The moment they were all in, all of them were hit by water guns, soaking everyone but the professor, who wisely decided to remain outside.
"I don' believe dis," Gambit muttered, looking down at his soaking wet tuxedo. Angrily, he advanced towards one of the X-Babies, Iceman's counterpart, took the super-soaker out of his hands, and tossed it behind him. "You know how hard it is to get stains out of a tux?"
The young Iceman looked at him. His lower lip began to tremble. "No fair!" he hollered. "You took my gun!" He pulled his leg back and kicked Remy in the shin.
"Ow!" Remy shouted, reaching down and grabbing his knee.
"There's plenty more where that came from!" baby Iceman said, glaring at him. "You big bully!"
"What is the meaning of all of this?" Warren asked, moving closer to his own Jr. counterpart.
The younger Angel flew further down the hall on tiny wings. "Can't catch me! Your wings are too big to fly down here! Nyah! Nyah!"
"Where is my fiancÚ?" Hank thundered.
"I'm right here!" Kimber shouted. She was coming up behind the X-Babies, her progress hampered by the young Gambit who was clinging to her dress trying to stop it. "Go away!" she snapped, twisting her body, hoping to throw him off her. There was a faintly audible snapping noise as the buttons that held the train of her gown to the back of her dress popped, sending her train falling to the filthy floor, baby Gambit falling on top of it.
The X-Baby rolled into a sitting position, holding the train to the gown firmly to the floor with his body weight. "I'm 'pose t' guard you. You had no right to try to leave!"
"Get. Off. My. Dress!" Kimber thundered. She twisted around, grabbed the edge of the train, and yanked as hard as she could. Tiny Gambit went flying into a backward summersault, crashing into the side of the tunnel walls.
"Owww!" the young boy sat up, rubbing his head. "That wasn't nice!"
"Kimber, are you all right?" Hank called to her.
"Other than being extremely annoyed, I'm fine!" Kimber called back.
Suddenly, young Angel came flying up the hall with tremendous speed. He flew over the heads of his fellow X-Babies, then swooped down into the mud puddle, created by the earlier water gun attack. Legs straight, feet angled slightly, like a slalom skier, he twisted and landed, effectively spraying the X-Men with a coating of mud.
The X-Babies watched, and started laughing. "Good one, Angel!" Baby Cyclops shouted.
The young version of Warren turned and looked at his teammates, giving them a thumbs-up symbol. "I am the best!"
"No you're not!" baby Wolverine disagreed.
"All right!" Hank shouted, trying to bring some order to this whole chaotic situation. "What is going on here?"
"It's not fair!" baby Hank shouted.
"We're here to right a terrible wrong!" Scott chimed in at the same time.
"We just wanted to have some fun!" another young voice said. "We never get t'have any fun."
"How come we weren't invited to the wedding?" still another said. "I want some cake!"
Hank shook his head, trying to straighten out the jumble of young voices, when he heard other people entering the tunnel.
He whirled around, seeing his daughter, Bryan, and a strange woman coming into the tunnels. "Sunshine, you shouldn't be here."
"Uh, I only agreed to bring Rhiannon here," Siku said, indicating the woman.
"Hi," Rhiannon said softly. "I thought you might need some help. I'm not sure now." She brought her hand up to cover her mouth, but it was obvious from her eyes she was trying not to laugh at the situation.
"Aren't you in the band?" Beast asked her.
Rhiannon nodded. "Yeah, but I'm not completely helpless," she added.
"Were you going to serenade the threat into submission?" Beast asked, shaking his head.
Meanwhile, baby Beast stared at Siku, his eyes growing wider and wider. "No!" he hollered. "No fair, no fair, no fair!" He looked at Cyclops Jr., pointing at Siku. "I don't have one of those either!"
"Daddy, who are these... kids?" Siku asked, looking bewildered.
"Sunshine, these are the X-Babies," Hank said, wearily.
"How come I've never heard of them?" Siku asked, staring at the small version of her father.
"I was hoping to spare you," Hank said dryly.
"How come he gets everything!" baby Beast sputtered, stomping his feet on the ground. Bits of muddy water began flying, splashing everyone. "I don't have a Kimber, I don't have a daughter!"
"You're too young t'have kids!" Baby Rogue said. "You're still a kid yourself."
"Shut up!" young Beast roared. "You're a kid too!"
Bryan had moved closer to Siku. "Uhm... these are the ones who kidnapped Kimber?" he asked, obviously finding this whole situation hard to swallow. He had pictured a much more dangerous threat in his mind, not a group of wide-eyed little children in costume, armed with super-soakers.
"Don't be fooled!" Kimber called out. "They're tricky little buggers."
"We're not giving Kimber back," baby Cyclops said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Oh yes you are," a voice suddenly said. There was a glimmer of light as a portal opened and Dazzler appeared.
"Uh oh," baby Beast said, swallowing hard.
"This wasn't my idea!" Cyclops Jr. said, looking worried. "It was all his!" he pointed to baby Beast.
"But you went along with it!" small Beast defended himself.
"I have been looking all over for you guys," Dazzler said, looking stern. "You shouldn't have run off like that! And kidnapping Hank's fiancÚ! What were you thinking?"
The X-Babies hung their heads in shame. "I-I just didn' think it was fair," baby Beast muttered.
"Fair or not, you had no right to do this," Dazzler said. She turned to the rest of the X-Men. "Uhm, I'm really sorry about this. I had no idea they were planning anything like this, if I had known, I would have stopped it."
"It-it's all right," Hank said. "I-I know you didn't mean for any of this to happen."
"I certainly did not." Dazzler looked at her young charges. "I think you all owe the X-Men and apology!"
Immediately, a group of young voices chorused, "We're sorry!"
"I know it hardly seems like enough," Dazzler said to the X-Men, her face red with embarrassment. "But rest assured, they will be punished for this when we get home."
"Great, no desert for a week," Icebaby muttered.
"I think the punishment will have to be a bit stronger than that," Dazzler said. "Now, come on, children. We need to get home." As she gathered up the children, she looked at Hank and Kimber, who by this point had joined him. "I-I don't know what else to say but I'm sorry, I hope your wedding isn't ruined."
Kimber was too busy trying to keep her emotional state under control and said nothing. Hank realized there was little that could be done to rectify the situation anyway. "It will be all right," he assured Dazzler.
Baby Beast looked at Kimber. "I'm sorry I adultnapped you," he said, his small voice filled with sorrow. "Can you ever forgive me?"
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell the young Beast exactly what he could do with his apology, but Kimber looked into his eyes and found she just did not have the heart. "It-it's okay," she mumbled. "Just don't do it again."
"I-I won't," baby Beast assured her. "An' I know I shouldn't, but can I ask one favor from you? An' you, too?" he pointed to Sikudhani.
"What's that?" Kimber asked, her eyes narrowing.
"Since... since I don't have a baby Kimber or baby Siku, an' I'm never gonna have one, can I at least have a hug?" He looked from one to the other, his large blue eyes filled with tears.
Kimber and Sikudhani looked at each other for several seconds. "Well," Siku said hesitantly. "If it will make you feel better..." She moved closer and knelt down, hugging the small version of her father.
"T'ank-you," baby Beast said, throwing his arms around her and hugging her tightly.
When they broke free, Sikudhani winced for a moment, as she felt one of her hairs tugged by his tiny claws. She did not say anything, assuming it was an accident, but when she saw Kimber flinch as well after her hug, she wondered. Why would the kid want our hair?
"C'mon, Children. It's time to go." Dazzler said. She looked at the X-Men. "Again, I'm so sorry about this. And, uh, congratulations, Kimber and Hank. I hope the both of you are very happy together."
"Thank-you," Hank said, trying to sound as dignified as possible.
There were a few moments of confusion as the X-Babies and Dazzler portaled out of the tunnels, presumably back to their own world. When at last they were all gone, Kimber looked down at her dress and then from one member to another. "We're a mess," she commented.
"I agree with that assessment," Hank said.
"So what do we do?" Kimber asked. "We can't get married like this, we look awful." Her dress was streaked with dirt and mud, as were everyone else's clothing.
"Well, I can assume both of you still want to get married," Jean said carefully. "Is that right?"
"Of course," Kimber said.
"I think we can fix things then," Jean said. "Come on, let's get out of here."
They left the tunnels; propping up the door as best they could until better repairs could be done. As they headed up the stairs, Siku looked at Bryan. "I'm embarrassed," she mumbled.
"Don't be," Bryan whispered, taking her hand. "So far, this is the most interesting wedding I've ever attended in my life."
Logan overheard the comment and suppressed a chuckle.
Only two hours off schedule, the wedding took place. And most of the guests had no idea what had happened. Everyone looked perfectly groomed, the bride looked radiant in her dress. If Charles and Jean looked a bit... preoccupied, well, it did take some effort to keep the illusion going that none of the members of the wedding party were in mud-soaked clothes. Later, when the photographs came back, people would wonder, but for now it did not matter.
However, there was no illusion to be maintained when Hank and Kimber both said, "I do." The love they both shared was obvious. Kimber's lashes were fringed with tears of joy.
"You may now kiss the bride," the Priest said.
Hank wrapped his arms around Kimber and kissed her, almost lifting her off the ground. Kimber embraced him, her arms barely meeting around his broad chest. When they finished with the kiss, she whispered in his ear. "I love you, always and forever."
Sikudhani overheard the comment and sighed. Everything is going to be all right for Dad, from here on out, she thought.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Bride and Groom, Dr. and Mrs. McCoy." Everyone began clapping.
Kimber started to protest that it really should be Dr. and Dr. McCoy, but changed her mind. I'm both, she thought. And I fought just as hard to be Mrs. McCoy as I did to be Dr. Lee.
Later, at the reception, Sikudhani danced with Bryan. Arms around each other, she sighed happily. "If I were writing a book about my father, I would end it right here," she confessed.
"Really?" Bryan asked, smiling. "I would think that wouldn't make your Dad too happy. He's got a lot more living he wants to do."
"Yeah, but this would be the perfect point. At least for book one," Siku said. "And I'd end it with, 'And he and Kimber lived happily ever after.'"
"You know what?" Bryan asked.
"You're a hopeless romantic, that's what." He grinned.
"Does that bother you?" Siku asked, tipping her head to one side and studying him, as they glided across the dance floor.
"Nope, that's one of the things I love about you." He leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. She hesitated less than a second and returned the kiss.
Over at the head table, Kimber watched the young couple and smiled Her head was on Hank's shoulder. The events of the day had been more tiring that she thought they would be. "Cute couple," she remarked.
"Of course we are," Hank said, putting his arm around her.
"I wasn't talking about us, I was talking about them." She pointed to Bryan and Siku.
"Well, I suppose they're cute enough in their own fashion," Hank said. He reached down and took Kimber's chin in his hand, gently turning her face to his. "Considering all that happened, are you still happy with today?"
Kimber looked up at him and smiled. "When you asked me to marry you, I didn't think you could make me any happier, but you did today, when you said you'd be my husband for better for worse, till death do us part."
"And I meant every word of it." Gently, he leaned over and kissed his wife.
Taking a deep breath, baby Beast knocked on the door.
A few minutes later, the door was answered by another child. Somehow though, despite his wide eyes and round, child face, this one managed to carry a menacing air about him. When he saw the young Beast, he frowned. "What are you doing here?"
Little Beast grinned. "I have a favor t'ask you, Sinister." Reaching into the pocket of his banana yellow shorts, he pulled out an envelope. Carefully, he opened the envelope and pulled out two strands of hair, one blue, and the other red-brown. "Is there any chance you could... make a couple things for me?"
A couple notes...
The song used in this story was "Waiting For A Star To Fall" by Boy Meets Girl
Yes, Rhiannon in this story is the same Rhiannon that appears in JF Jackson's Shadow Walker series. In this reality, we can assume she never joined the X-Men and thus was never attacked by a vampire. I always wanted an excuse to put her into an X-S story and this seemed like as good a one as any.
Ian (the male lead singer) and Bryan are Ian and Bryan. Both based on real people. If you feel I misportrayed either of you in any way... I'm sorry? Bryan, blame Bethany, I'm innocent, I swear. Really! Would I lie?
Many thanks go to Bethany (the real one, not Siku's arch-rival) and JF Jackson for helping me a lot through this story. I don't know if this would have been written if it hadn't been for their constant encouragement and help through the whole thing. So, if you loved it, they deserve praise. If you hated it, well, it's all their fault. (Just kidding, gals. Put down the knives, okay?)
Last but not least... fedback is welcomed, encouraged and responded to. I'm nervous about posting this story. Then again, what's new? Honestly, I hate just about everything I write when I first finish it.
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