X-men belong to Marvel, Charlotte belongs to me. No money, please don't sue. Feedback? Adult themes.

Night Before The Last Night
by Kerri

"Tell me again what we're doing here?"

After being kidnapped right out of her shoes (Rogue had been selected for that delicate operation) and stripped naked (you don't argue with a group of women intent on having a 'Girls Night Out', especially when you're the reason they get one without argument from their men) and redressed in something short, slinky and black, (all in the back of a speeding limousine), Charlotte finally got a chance to say something as they were seated inside the club.

"You know, last night of freedom. Well, second to the last night of freedom." Jean rolled her eyes at Charlotte. "You're supposed to be having fun."

They meant well, anyway. This could be fun with a little more participation on her part. She was game if they were. "I can't have any fun till I get some ones to stuff into that boy's G-string. Who's got the ones?"

"Had a problem getting that many ones," Betsy said. "So I thought maybe fives and tens." She handed out fistfuls of cash around the table. Eyes widened, a few hysterical giggles made the rounds. "The tellers at the bank looked at me funny when I told them I wanted $2000 in one dollar bills."

"I've always had good luck with hundreds."

"We are talking money, aren't we, Emma?"

"Maybe," Miss Frost answered, decidedly not cool and composed at the moment. "Get him over here and we'll talk about the denomination." She gestured at a virile Kevin Sorbo look-alike. "See how he measures up against a hundred dollar bill."

"If your students could hear you now," Ororo said.

"But look at him," Rogue insisted. She eyed the male dancer with a great deal of interest. "He's so cute. Wonder where he keeps his sword."

"No 'sword' jokes tonight, please. How many drinks have you had so far, Rogue?"

"Not enough, sugah," Rogue sassed back to Storm. "An' have a couple more yerself."

"Yeah, he's cute but can he talk?" Charlotte asked her, grinning. He was a doll, but no match for her man. Much too young for her taste.

"Who cares 'bout that, sugar? I don' want him for his mind."

"I saw him first," Emma said firmly. "And I definitely don't want to hear him speak."

Domino rolled her eyes. Why did she ever let Nathan talk her into coming with them? Not like she was having a good time. She was with Charlotte on this one. They were all too young for her. Except maybe that one over there, the one that looked like a young Tom Berenger.

The music, a cross between disco and techno-funk, blared out at the crowd. A number of handsome male dancers were performing on little stages set around the converted warehouse, all in various stages of undress, to hordes of screaming women.

As a special party, the bridal shower was in full swing, with their choices of beef on display. Emma got her Hercules, while a few of his buddies made their way over when the rumors spread through the dancers that a group of women were not only tipping well, but were doing so with one hundred dollar bills for a good show.

"Wonder what the women are doing," Bobby said to the others sitting around the table.

Scott finished dealing the cards. "Probably sitting somewhere having a chocolate pig-out fest. Jean said they were just going for dessert."

Remy looked at this cards, then shot Scott a smirk. "An' you t'ink all women want chocolate for dessert?" He knew very well what the girls were doing, and was not happy Logan didn't want a bachelor party for himself.

"I told 'em that's all they better be goin' for," Logan said from around the cigar in his mouth.

The men were in a hotel room in the city, so the women couldn't get mad at the tobacco smell in the house or the empty beer bottles sitting around. Xavier elected to stay at the mansion along with Hank, who didn't like the smell of tobacco in his fur.

"Yeah, and when's the last time a woman did what you told her to?" Cable asked him.

"Come to think of it, never." Some of the most fun he'd ever had was when Charlotte didn't do what he told her.

Cable gave him a sour look when he caught that thought. Dom didn't do anything he ever told her to, either, and it usually got him hurt.

"I think they may have gone shopping," Warren said. "Betsy did go to the bank today. Nearly had a fit when I asked if she had any cash." He anted the pot. "Kind of strange. She usually uses credit cards, not cash."

"Dem plastic cards hurt when a women puts 'em in your G-string, homme."

After a few hours and many drinks later the dancers found themselves in a muscle contest, Emma promising a prize of $1000 to the winner. As the guest of honor, Charlotte got to be the judge. They pushed her up on the stage with the men, encouraging her to 'try out the muscles' and pick 'a hunk.'

"No, no," Charlotte insisted to the men and her friends. "Logan's body is much better then that." One too many pineapple margaritas, otherwise she would *never* have said that. Out loud, anyway.

"I'll take him on, honey," one dark haired, beefy man told her. "I can lick anybody."

Unfortunate choice of words. The women nearly fell over themselves in hysterics.

"I don't suggest you try it," Jean gasped between giggles.

"That's a bet waiting to happen," Betsy giggled with her.

"Sorry, sonny boy, but you ain't got a chance," Charlotte told him airily. It made him work harder, flexing his biceps and rippling his hips to the music. The women cheered him on.

"Make him do that again, Char," Betsy called out. "Tell him he doesn't have a thing on the old man."

"Sugah, give up on her, she's gonna be an ol' married woman in a couple of days," Rogue yelled.

Domino shook her head at them all and ordered another drink.

Sam laid down his cards. "Full house, gentlemen, aces and eights."

"Dead man's hand," Remy commented.

"There's a problem here is if Country Bumpkin is winning every hand," Bobby said.

"Yeah, there's a problem," Sam agreed. "Mah girlfriend ain' out on the town with a buncha crazy ladies. Ah'm the only sane man in here."

"I don't think you understand the situation at all," Scott said. "They are out having dinner, dessert, and maybe seeing a movie."

"Scott, you going to keep telling yourself that?" Warren asked.

"Yes, if I know what's good for me," he answered.

"Fraida what Jeannie'll say?" Logan smirked.

"Afraid of what Charlotte will do?" Cable injected.

That wiped the smirk off Logan's face. "Ya mean they're out there somewhere-"

"Doan t'ink 'bout it," Remy advised. "Just make you crazy." It was certainly doing a number on him. Rogue out on the loose was enough to make him fear for the city.

"An' I let her talk me outta havin' dancin' girls," Logan growled.

"Well, if you still want dem-" Remy began, the wicked little devil inside free at last.

The muscle contest over, the winner declared and admired by all, especially with 10 $100 bills in his tiny gold lame costume, the ladies settled down to talking.

"You only chose that one because he resembled Logan," Betsy accused.

"Like you weren't rooting for him yourself," Domino said.

"Ah kinda wanted to take the redhead home wi' me," Rogue mused. "Ah bet he had a nice personality." She held the green satin G-string he'd tossed out at the end of his set, having flown up to catch it in mid-air.

"I'm gonna share the wisdom of the ages with you, Rogue. Never, ever think a hard-on counts as personal growth," Charlotte told her. "He looked good, but do you really want to wake up to him in the morning?"

"And wouldn't our resident redheaded thief take exception to that?" Jean asked.

"Kind of like blondes myself," Emma commented.

"We know," Ororo said. "Silly blondes with a penchant for practical jokes."

"Yeah. Did he ever tell you about the bells he hung on Charlotte's bed?" Betsy asked with a grin.

Emma gave her a thoughtful look. "No, but he did tell me he had a box of bells to hang on your bed."

A confused look crossed over the ninja's face that quickly turned to fury. "Why, that-"

"Relax," Charlotte waved her down. "He pulled it on me. The joke, I mean." She tried to frown at the laughing women, then gave up and laugh with them. "And Logan had more fun with that then I did. I caught Logan on my bed more than once, jumping up and down to make the bells jingle, and Bobby cringing out in the hall."

"And people said me and Scott were noisy," Jean said. "At least we were noisy in the same bed."

"It's not so bad since Scott learned a little more control," Ororo teased, and you learned to stop projecting."

"That's old age for you," Domino added.

"You sure you can handle her?" Bobby asked. "Remember what she did with those jingle bells. One little practical joke..."

"What this about bells?" Cable asked. He TK'd another beer from the cooler the hotel provided.

"Frost-'bitten' over there hung jingle bells on Charlotte's bed to see what would happen," Warren told him, "and he started finding bells in everything he had."

"Yeah," Bobby added, manfully ignoring the reference to Emma. "For weeks I was finding them in everything. My drawers, my bed, my clothes, even my food. I found one in my pants pocket, while I was wearing them. How did she get it there, and how come I didn't enjoy that more?"

Logan shot him a warning look. "I always stay on her good side, get plenty of rewards for that." He tossed a few chips in the pot. "Make it a point to stay on all the good side of all the women. If ya ain't noticed, they out gun the men."

"Oui." Remy took that hand, scooping up the chips. "De women got all de int'resting powers." Jean-Luc would be proud Charlotte hadn't lost her touch.

"Ah don' know what y'all complainin' 'bout," Sam said. "The ladies are all real nice."

"To you they're nice," Bobby pointed out. "To the rest of us they're mean and vicious."

"Not if you stay on their good side," Logan said.

"An' you willin' to give up dancin' girls for dat?" Remy asked, hopeful Logan would change his mind. A few phonecalls, a few promises, he could have dancers up here that would make Cable blush and put Scott in a coma.

Logan leaned forward. "Ya know how she gets when she's fightin'? Intense an' single-minded?"

"Oui. Sometimes I t'ink she kill me if she could get away with it."

An evil grin spread across Logan's face. "She brings the same thinkin' to bed wi' her. Why would I want to mess wi' a good thing?"

"Bright Lady, Rogue, how many of those have you had?"

Rogue looked down at the little plastic cups in front of her. "Don' know, mebbe 10?"

"What are those again?" Betsy asked. She held one up to the light.

"Jello shooters," Domino answered. She'd ordered them when they entered the bar.

This bar was quite a bit different from the last one. Instead of strippers, a country-western band played sappy 'dun sumbody wrong' and 'cryin' in my beer' songs. Rogue picked this place, and she was the only one happy with it.

"Jello?" Emma looked at the little cups doubtfully.

"Yeah," Domino said. She picked one up. "Jello and your favorite liquor." She used her tongue to scoop it out of the little cup. "Try it."

As the women tried the shooters, they gained an audience from the men at the surrounding tables. A low whistle cut through the noise.

"Honey, why don't you bring that tongue over here to me."

"Sugah, mah tongue got bettah places to go," Rogue glared at him.

He got up to give his invitation in person, feeling he'd be more persuasive if he got closer.

He was wrong.

"You seem awfully calm about the whole thing," Cable told Scott. "What gives?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"He's right," Bobby said. "You know the girls are out doing naughty things, why aren't you more uptight?"

Scott smiled slightly. "Maybe I trust my wife." Maybe he trusted Bishop to make sure nothing happened during their wild night on the town. Not spying on them, oh no, that would make them angry, and he liked all his body parts exactly were they were. Bishop was simply securing the women's safety. At least, that was his story and he was sticking to it. The video camera was just for anything Bishop might find appropriate to record for later study.

Logan growled at them. "Are we playin' or what?" Damn Cable for bringin' it up again. He didn't want to think about what they were doing.

The phone rang, and they all looked at each other.

"Ten-to-one, dats de girls wantin' us to come join de party," Remy said hopefully.

Scott answered the phone and listened for a few minutes, then hung up. "You're half right. It's not the women, but we have been invited to join the party."

Charlotte stared out through the bars. "I don't believe this. I hope Logan never hears about this." It was a useless wish but she tried anyway. He'd hear about it, in glowing, graphic detail.

"It could be worse," Jean pointed out.

"You would say that," Emma ground out between her teeth. "Let's recap the incident in question, shall we?" She tapped her foot impatiently. "Rogue takes us to a cowboy bar, gets rip-roaring drunk, and starts a bar fight. We try to get her out of there and get caught up in it ourselves. Now, the four of us are in jail for disturbing the peace, Storm, Betsy and Domino are God knows where, Rogue has been passed out for the last hour, and we've been waiting for Charlotte's lawyer for the last 45 minutes. Have I left anything out?" She glared at the bars and the police officers beyond the cells.

Jean was right, it could have been worse. They could have been put into the general population. Or worse yet, have used their mutant powers to get out of the impossible situation and been treated like outlaws.

Four obviously wealthy young women in expensive clothing were just iffy enough for the officers to put them in an isolated holding cell without booking them first to save face later. Charlotte's telephone call to a high-priced attorney from a high-profile law firm further strengthened their position. The women decided to use Charlotte's lawyer to avoid giving the authorities Jean's and Emma's names. Who needed the publicity?

They might have been able to wait in an office and spend this time charming an officer into letting them go, but Rogue threatened to maim and dismember the entire force.

Charlotte fixed Emma with a unblinking gaze. "Why are you here?"

"Haven't you been listening?" She nudged Rogue's foot out of her way and continued her pacing. "The Southern Belle here can't hold her liquor."

"That's not what I meant. Why did you come out with us tonight? This really isn't your sort of party."

Emma turned away. "It was Robert's idea."

"Bobby talked you into this. Why?" Jean asked.

"Isn't it obvious? All the happy couples Charles has recruited for the team."

"Bobby's hoping the two of you will become one," Jean finished.

"He's got his head in the clouds again. He looks at you and Scott and sees 'made for each other', at Betsy and Warren for 'opposites attract,' and Charlotte and Logan for the 'Beauty and the Beast' happy ending. I told him it wouldn't work," she said irritably.

"Just because we're in jail?" Charlotte asked, surprised. "In some parts of the country a bridal shower isn't a success until the police have arrived." She moved to stand next to the White Queen. "This should've been the other way around. The men should be here and we should be bailing them out and making them grovel to get back in our good graces." It would have been such fun to see Logan grovel. "Until Rogue tried the jello shooters, we were having a good time. Don't let yourself fall apart because of this."

"I am not falling apart, I have a legitimate concern here. I have to be a good example to my students. If they hear about this, and they will, how will I ever keep them under control?"

"They might find you more human and you might relate to them more easily? You didn't commit a crime, you know. Haven't you ever been detained before?"

"No, and I suppose you have? During the sixties with the free love and sit-ins?" Her voice was snide in her frustration.

Charlotte laughed, rubbing her forehead to ease the headache she felt coming on being this close to an angry projecting telepath. The things these people thought she'd done, just because she'd lived 3 centuries. "With all that drug use and poor hygiene habits? Free love? Since when was love ever free? I spent the sixties at home, thank you. I was just as happy to miss Woodstock."

Emma's face tinged pink. "I didn't mean-"

"Forget it," Charlotte gestured with one hand. "Emma, I find a lot to admire about you. Your devotion to your students, for one. I know why you're so hard on them, you're trying to keep them alive. I understand why you do it. I've been it that position myself during the war. And I know some of the things I do with them when I visit bother you, but they should still be teenagers, still have the same experiences normal teenagers have. If we isolate them, we force them to behave differently. They need their own fun."

"What qualifies you as a child-raising expert?" Emma's voice was sharp.

"Gee, I don't know, raising children, perhaps?"

Jean tried to smooth over the tense moment. "We were all having a good time and we should do this again soon and make it a regular monthly date. Get away from the men every now and then. Next time we don't let Rogue choose any of the destinations."

"Agreed," Charlotte said. "It might be fun to have a night out every so often. Maybe not with strippers, though. You were getting a little too friendly with Hercules back there," she grinned at Emma.

"I'll admit to having fun, but that stripper? Unless you've got proof I'll never own up on that one," Emma smiled herself.

All three women laughed.

Charlotte caught sight of William Addison at the duty sergeant's desk. "There's William, he'll have us out of here quick-oh, damn!"

Jean and Emma looked where Charlotte was staring in dismay. They added their own muttered curses.

Logan, Scott, Bobby and Remy were right behind William. Scott was frowning heavily, while the other three were plainly amused.

"How did they find out so fast?" Jean wondered aloud.

"Three guesses. There's another one who won't let me live this down," Emma sighed. "At least we don't have to admit we caught the G-string." The scrap of emerald satin still dangled in Rogue's hand.

"There's a couple of things we need to remember," Charlotte told the other two as an officer unlocked the door to let the men in the holding area. "Number 1: This is all Rogue's fault. We say that as often and as loudly as possible." The three looked at the unconscious woman.

"Can do," Jean responded. The look on Scott's face said she'd be doing a lot of that, and more besides, to make this up to him. "And the other thing?"

"Jailhouse friendships last the longest." They looked at each other with new eyes, then started laughing again, holding on to each other for support.

<What happened?> Emma 'asked', giving Bobby a merry smile. <During the war?> Bobby was momentarily confused by Emma's reaction and looked behind him to see if she smiled at someone else. He expected to find Miss Frost firmly in control.

Charlotte shot her a wink. <I lived through it and got a reason to keep on living.> And he was looking very self-satisfied at the moment. She was going to have to find a way to wipe that smirk off his face. One or two methods sprang to mind.

Logan surveyed the women with an experienced eye of someone who's spent time behind bars and broke down, laughing too hard to stand up straight. He leaned against the opposite wall, the look on Charlotte's face making him laugh even harder. The last thing he ever expected to do two nights before his wedding was bail the bride out of jail. He should've known. Life wasn't going to be dull with Charlotte.


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