Chance Meeting
by Meg

Strangely enough the subway car was almost empty. A mother with two kids sat right behind the door, and a young woman sat near the front reading a newspaper. Glancing at the other passengers Bobby Drake made his way to the front and sat down across the aisle and a couple of seats behind the woman. The kids were being fussy, and seeing as he was already nearly half an hour late, he didn't have any desire to have anything split on/thrown at him.

Glancing at his watch he sighed. How was he already late? "They're gonna kill me," he muttered to himself. He had finally managed to convince Warren and Hank to go out to a hockey game with him, and he was stuck in a subway car across town from the arena.

After a few minutes reading the graffiti on the back of the chairs became annoying. The adverts weren't much better. The family near the back got off at the next stop. Good riddance. He might be still stuck on a subway car, but there were no more crying kids. Bobby turned his attention to the one remaining passenger. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, and dressed for business. Her hair was golden red, and it sort of reminded him of the warm glow of a fire. At the moment it was pulled back and out of the way, but a couple of strands insisted on falling loose. Every once in a while she would push them back behind her ears. He couldn't see the colour of her eyes, but her skin was pale and perfect. It looked as if it had never seen the sun, and yet it was still glowing. There was something rather striking about her, but he couldn't quite identify what it was.

As the train neared the next stop the woman folded up her newspaper and stuffed it into her bag. She stood up and started to make her way to the door behind him. Suddenly the train jerked and she grabbed the railing to keep from falling. They were no longer moving, and the lights flickered once and went out. Emergency power kicked in and the car was bathed in a soft glow. Bobby couldn't help groaning. His friends were going to kill him.

The woman sighed and sat back down again, this time right across from Bobby. She glanced at him and smiled. "Maybe it won't last long," she said.

He looked at her and grinned sheepishly. "I'm already late," he admitted. For the first time he noticed her eyes. They were an odd colour of gold, not quite like anything he'd ever seen before. There was something more behind those eyes. They seemed to be almost the colour of a flame, and they burned intensely.

"I'm Maggie Stewart," the woman told him.

"Bobby Drake," he said offering her his hand. She took it, and he was surprised at her strength. She was slight, but there was a determination behind her.

Maggie looked out the window for a moment. "Wonder what happened," she muttered. She turned her attention back to Bobby. "If you don't mind my asking, what are you late for?"

He pointed at the New York Rangers advert above the car's window. "I'm supposed to meet some friends for a hockey game. We were supposed to meet at 5:30 and go out for dinner. So I still might be able to make the game, but they have the tickets. It was supposed to be a fun night out," he told her.

"And instead you're stuck in a subway car with a stranger," she said sympathetically.

With a shrug he smiled good-naturedly. "At least I'm not stuck in the car alone," he said. "Which would be the case if this had happened after the stop."

She laughed. Truth was, he could think of worse fates than being in that subway car. Hank and Warren would understand the short delay.

"I'm just on my way home from work," she told him. "I'm a translator for the Ukrainian Consulate."

"Don't you have to be Ukrainian to work for that?" he asked.

"What makes you think I'm not?" she asked pointedly. He squirmed. She had a slight accent, but it didn't sound Ukrainian, and Stewart was definitely not a Ukrainian name. "Okay, you're right, I'm Scottish. But I'm trained in translation, and I speak Ukrainian, so I got the job."

It had been several minutes since the train had stopped. Bobby looked out the window trying to see if there was anything going on. All he saw was darkness. "Darn it," he muttered. He turned back to Maggie. "So, how long have you been working there?" he asked.

"Three years. It can be very interesting. Or very monotonous. Depends on what I'm doing," she grinned. "I guess it's that way with any job. What about you?"

"Me? Oh, I'm an accountant," he said. "Nothing fascinating there."

She shrugged. "Not for me, but hey, if you like it that's all that's important," she told him. "Uh, you come from around here?"

"Not really. Port Washington on Long Island. But I've spent most of my adult life in and around New York." He wasn't exactly sure what to tell her. Vague was probably best. "You?"

"Well ... I lived outside of the city for a while, then my family moved to Boston. I came back after university, and never left. But until I graduated from university I spent all of my summers in Scotland. So not really would sort of fit me too," she said.

They sat in silence for a while. Maggie was fiddling with the strap on her handbag, Bobby playing with the zipper on his jacket. Neither was exactly sure of what to say. He glanced at her and smiled. She was staring at the worn brown leather of her bag, rubbing off an invisible spot.

Maggie looked up at him and smiled apologetically. "I guess your hockey game is out. It's almost seven."

Looking down at his watch Bobby cursed under his breath. It was now 6:45, and they'd been stuck on the train for over half an hour. "Yeah, you're right. I'll never find them now," he sighed. "I manage to drag Hank away from his lab and Warren from Betsy once, and I don't show up. They'll never agree to it again," he muttered.

"It's not like it's your fault," Maggie said. "Surely they'll understand."

With a sigh he ran his fingers through his short brown hair. He hadn't intended to say anything aloud. "Somehow I'm always being late, or missing things. I'm the irresponsible one. It's been that way since we were teenagers. I haven't been out with the guys in months, ah I don't know. It wouldn't have been the same without Scott anyway," he said. He looked at the woman beside him. She had no idea what he was talking about. "Sorry. I'm just frustrated."

With a smile and a shake of her head she dismissed his apology. "It's okay. I understand. I just wish I could make the train move," she said.

So did he. But since that wasn't possible, he really didn't want to think about what he was missing. "Uh, so what kind of music do you like?" he asked trying to change the subject.

She went along with him. "Old stuff. I really like the 60s, especially stuff from the British invasion," she said with a grin. "I'm a Beatles fanatic!"

"They're cool," he said. "Classics."

"Yeah. I have to say I really don't like a lot of the music today. I'm just not a big pop fan. Some of it's okay, but I guess I just prefer the older stuff. And music from the late 80s and early 90s has a special place in my heart. Just can't beat that stuff!" she laughed. "My friends tell me I live in the past."

Her eyes were sparkling, and seemed to dance like flames. Music was obviously something that brought her great happiness. Her joy in discussing was contagious, and he felt his disappointment in missing the hockey game beginning to evaporate. "Hey, better to live in the past with good stuff than in the present with bad!" he told her. For the first time since he'd set foot on the train he gave her a glimpse of his real grin and his icy blue eyes sparkled with their customary mischievous glint. Bobby was an attractive man, but there was nothing particularly drawing about him. When he grinned, however, his entire face lit up, and his eyes granted those who cared to look a glimpse into the soul of a very special person.

"Did you know that there's a tribute to the Beatles at Bart's tonight?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yeah. It's not far from my flat. Looks like they've got a really good band."

An idea was forming in his head. Maybe this evening could actually be some fun. Besides, the longer he spent with Maggie, the more he realised how truly beautiful the woman was. Her beauty was deeper and more complex than he was used to, and it was one that many people would not appreciate. Her appearance was slightly odd, but perhaps that was part of the charm. Besides, there was something deeper, and something that drew him towards her. "Would you like to go?" he asked.

"With you?" she asked. He nodded in response. "But what about your friends?"

He gave a slight shake of his head. "They'll already be gone. Likely enjoying the game without me." He smiled. "I'd hate to come all the way here just to turn around and go home," he said in a teasing voice.

A slight smile played on Maggie's lips. "Okay. If we ever get out of this train."


It was nearly eight when they arrived at Maggie's flat. It had been another half-hour before the train had lurched to life again, and no reason was given for the delay. They had stopped at a deli for food, and Bobby now carried a bag containing two chicken sandwiches and a container of coleslaw. Maggie picked up her mail and led the way up a flight of stairs to the third floor.

"Well, this is my home," she said unlocking the door and flicking on the light. She threw the mail on the counter and made her way towards an open door on the right. "Make yourself comfortable. I'll be out as soon as I change." The door closed behind her leaving Bobby alone. He placed the food beside the mail and surveyed the place.

The flat was small, but quite comfortable. He assumed it had one bedroom, probably the room into which Maggie had disappeared. There was another door on the same wall, and it most likely led into the bathroom. The main room functioned as living room and kitchen, and was furnished simply with a loveseat, chair and small dining set. There were also two bookcases one by the door and another beside the loveseat that were overflowing. Bobby removed his jacket and draped it across the chair before approaching the bookcase by the door. There were several dictionaries Ukrainian, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Hebrew as well as books in various languages. Nothing was in English.

A hot pink sheet of paper on the floor caught his eye. It had probably been slid under the door and had escaped Maggie's attention. He picked it up and went to place it by the rest of her mail. "What's that?" Maggie asked coming out of the room.

Bobby glanced up at her. She had changed from her work clothes and was now wearing olive pants and a cream V-neck sweater. She had let her hair down and it fell just past her shoulders. "Uh, I don't know. It came under the door," he said glancing at it. His heart nearly stopped when he read the title. 'The Mutant Menace' courtesy of the Friends of Humanity. Did she have some connection to that group?

She approached him and looked down at the paper. "Not again," Maggie sighed taking the paper from him. She crumpled it up in one hand and headed for the bathroom. She flushed the toilet and came out once again to join him. Had she really flushed the pamphlet down the toilet?

Maggie smiled ruefully as she came back into the room. "Sorry. I'm tired of getting those stupid pamphlets. I think somebody in the building must belong to it. It's the fifth one in the past month," she told him. She looked closely at him. "I hope you didn't want that."

He exhaled in relief. At least she wasn't involved with them, and from the sound of things did not support their activities. "Oh no," he assured her.

"Good," she said firmly. Her eyes travelled over to the food. "I'm famished. You?" He nodded and she made her way over to the cupboards and took out two plates and glasses. "I don't have much to drink," she said opening the fridge. She peered into it and sighed. "Milk, orange juice, water and one can of V-8 juice. Sorry about that."

He shrugged and smiled. "That's fine. Milk please," he said carrying the food and dishes to the small table. She followed with a carton of milk, a spoon for the salad and a couple of forks. "You have a nice place."

"Thank you," she said glancing around. "I like it. It's been my home for five years." They ate in silence for a while before Bobby spoke. "I noticed you have a lot of books. Just how many languages do you speak?" he asked.

She laughed. "You saw my foreign bookcase!" He smiled admitting his guilt. "I speak four fluently English, French, German and Ukrainian. I know Gaelic, Russian, Spanish and Italian well enough to get by, have a basic knowledge of Hebrew and am learning Arabic. I love languages," she told him. "I've always been fascinated by them, and the more I know, the better translator I am."

"Makes sense I guess. Better than me, I'm lucky I can speak English properly," he grinned. "I struggled with French in high school, but that's about it, so I'm impressed."

"Yeah, well everyone has their own strengths I guess," she said. "My dad made sure that I learned languages early. He thinks that the earlier people learn several languages the smarter they are or something."

"Is he a teacher?"

Maggie shook her head. "Nah. He's a professor. Teaches genetics and biomedical something." She grinned. "I don't understand half of what he says!"

"Sounds familiar. My best friend is a geneticist, and I have to say I'm usually in a similar situation!" Bobby laughed.

It was half past three in the morning when Bobby arrived home. He climbed upstairs and fell into bed. It barely seemed like he had closed his eyes when bright sunlight and strangely loud music awakened him. He groaned, rolled over, and glanced at the clock. 8:30. He buried his head in his pillow trying to drown out the noise. A few minutes later the pillow was snatched from him and he sat up abruptly. "Hey!" he said opening his eyes. The sunlight streaming through his window blinded him for a moment, but as his eyes adjusted to the light he saw his best friend standing there beside his bed. He groaned and lay back down. "What do you want?" he growled. "And what the heck are you doing here?"

"Well Robert, Warren and I were just wondering where you were last night," Hank McCoy said.

"So you come into my room and wake me up at 8:30 in the morning?! Are you nuts? And turn off that bloody music!" Bobby said angrily.

Hank shook his head slightly. "Now, now, there's no reason to get upset."

"You stole my pillow!" It was returned to him and hit his head with a thump. "Thank you," he mumbled. "Now leave me alone."

"I can't do that," Hank said.

Bobby sighed. He wasn't going to get anymore sleep today. "What do you want?" he repeated as he sat up.

"Since you stood up both Warren and I, I don't think it's fair to exclude him. Why don't we go pay him a visit?" Hank said. "Be downstairs in five minutes." He left the room and the music stopped.

With a sigh Bobby rolled out of bed and grabbed a pair of pants off the floor. He wasn't exactly sure what Hank and Warren were up to, but he certainly hoped they'd be satisfied with his explanation. Otherwise who knew what they were capable of doing!

No one else was around as he made his way downstairs ten minutes later. "Of course no one's up," he muttered as he went down the stairs. "Who in their right mind gets up on a Saturday at 8:30?"

Hank was waiting for him with Warren. They were both wearing jackets and looking rather impatient. "Well, well, well, look who decided to show up," Warren said.

"Shut up," Bobby told him. "What do you want?"

With a hurt look on his face Warren turned to Hank. "Humph. First he doesn't show up last night, and now he's being rude."

Bobby rolled his eyes. "Look I'm sorry about that. But why did you wake me up?"

"We're going out for breakfast," Hank said opening the door and bounding outside with Warren right behind him.

Since when did they go out for breakfast? Bobby sighed and grabbed his jacket before following his friends. "Whatever," he muttered as he closed the door. "Let's just get this over with." It was probable that Warren's girlfriend had come up with this brilliant idea. He'd have to remember to thank Betsy later. A nice bed full of ice ought to do the trick. A small grin played at the corner of his lips. This could actually turn out to be rather fun.

Bobby had to laugh at his friends' choice of restaurant. Somehow he doubted very much that Betsy had intended for them to go to McDonalds. In fact, he wasn't even sure she'd consider it a restaurant. At least with all the kids running around they'd have some distraction.

Sitting down in the corner of their booth Bobby slowly unwrapped his Egg McMuffin. He wasn't about to be the one to initiate this conversation.

"So I'm really anxious to hear Bobby's excuse this time, aren't you?" Warren said to Hank.

"Yes, it should be interesting," Hank replied.

With a sigh Bobby rolled his eyes. They were trying to bait him by acting like he wasn't there. Well, he was just going to sit there and eat his breakfast until they chose to address him directly.

It took less than five minutes for Hank to tire of the game. "So where were you?" he asked.

"On the subway," he said. He wasn't going to make it easy for them. This was too much fun.

Warren lifted an eyebrow. "You were on the subway all night?" he said sarcastically.

Bobby shook his head in disbelief. "Don't be silly." He then took a bite of his sandwich.

"Alright Robert, we'll stop playing with you. Why don't you just tell us what happened," Hank said rather exasperated.

"Why didn't you say so in the first place?" he asked. "I was on the subway, about ten minutes from Penn Station, when the car stalled. We were stuck there for over an hour, and by the time we started moving again it was too late to meet you."

With a suspicious look Warren frowned. "Then why didn't you get home until three?"

Grinning sheepishly Bobby shrugged. "When I realised I'd never find you, I went out to a Beatles tribute with a friend."

"Which friend?" Warren asked.

"Geez, I feel like I'm being interrogated," he muttered. "No one you know. I do have other friends."

A strange glint appeared in Hank's eyes. "Was this friend female?" he asked.

Bobby nodded.

"And how long have you know her?"

A shrug was his first response. "About twelve hours I guess."

"Bobby, did you pick up a girl on the subway?" Warren asked accusingly.

"You make it sound like I did something horrible. I met a nice person on the subway, who happens to be a girl, and we had sandwiches together and went to a concert," he retorted.

Warren rolled his eyes. "Was she pretty?"

"Sort of," Bobby said. "Her hair is a weird colour, and her eyes are yellow. But she's really nice."

The two men in front of him glanced at each other. "You liked?" Warren asked with a sly smile on his face.

Bobby rolled his eyes. "No. I spent an entire evening with someone I couldn't stand," he replied sarcastically.

"You going to see her again?" Hank asked.

Draining his coffee Bobby shrugged. "I hope so. She gave me her number."

The three men stood up to leave. "So does this mystery woman have a name?" Warren asked as they left the restaurant.


"Are you going to tell us?"


Hank gave a short laugh. "Well I guess we'll just have to wait and find out later. I suppose we will forgive you for standing us up."

"Thank you sooo much," Bobby retorted. "I was worried for a moment there."

For that comment Bobby found himself placed in one of Hank's headlocks. "Hey! Let me go you big furry beast!"

"I don't think ... oops!" Hank said as he slid on a patch of ice. Bobby was free and he made a dash for the car. "Warren! He has managed to allude me!"

"Wouldn't it be simpler to say he's getting away?" Warren asked as he dived at Bobby. The two men tumbled headfirst into a snow bank. A blond head appeared and Warren shook the snow out of his hair. "No fair. This is your home turf."

With a smirk Bobby dumped an armful of snow on his friend. "How sad," he commented. "Are your pretty feathers all wet?"

"You little..." Warren tackled Bobby back in the snow.

"Children, children, please now. We're all adults here," Hank told them. "Can't we grow uppppp!" Bobby and Warren grabbed him by the legs and pulled him into the snow. "I suppose not. This is war!" He stood up and flung himself towards his friends.

Warren and Bobby looked up just in time. They rolled out of the way and Hank landed harmlessly between them. "Sorry bud," Bobby laughed. "Better luck next time!" Maybe he wouldn't thank Betsy with a bed full of ice. This breakfast thing had been a good idea. A nice ice sculpture might be better. Maybe some roses, or ... well, he'd figure it out later. Right now there were more important things on his mind. With a grin he dove back into the fray. This was the most fun he'd had with his friends in a long time, and he wasn't about to waste it. For one afternoon he could pretend that everything was normal. Forget about the past few months and just enjoy himself. Reality would catch up soon enough, but for this morning the three of them could just enjoy being together again.

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