I'm a wee bit nervous about posting this, as it is my first time (it's also only my second fic). Be gentle ... Please R&R [I followed the posting suggestions on the OTL site, so hopefully the spacing and whatnot won't be horribly munged]
Disclaimer: Marvel owns 'em, I don't. 'T'aint making any money off 'em, so don't sue me.

Bobby's Overdue Library Book
by Rivka

Hank knocked loudly on Bobby's bedroom door, and waited impatiently for his friend to answer. He could hear annoyed muttering on the other side of the door that was rapidly getting louder.

The door was pulled open, and Bobby stared blearily at Hank. "Whassup?" he asked, leaning wearily against the doorjam. He was wearing only a pair of pajama bottoms, and his hair was sticking up oddly in several places.

"I need the CD that I lent you last week," Hank replied brusquely. "Jean said she'd like to borrow it."

Bobby scowled at his fellow X-man. "You mean you woke me up before noon on a Saturday for that?" His voice rose slightly towards the end of his sentence, and the smell of his morning breath wafted towards Hank.

Wrinkling his nose, Hank held up his left wrist and pointed at the watch located there. "It's nearly 1 o'clock. Some people have been up for several hours already."

Bobby grimaced. "Some people are crazy." Sighing, he turned and headed towards the desk against the far wall. "I know your CD is around here somewhere."

Hank followed him into the room. "You've only had it a week. You can't have misplaced it already." He looked around the room; it was a shambles, with clothes strewn on the floor, twinkie wrappers lying around the overflowing trash can, and books and other odds and ends scattered on the bed, desk, and other surfaces. He quickly changed his mind about the statement he had just made.

Bobby began digging around on top of the desk and then in its drawers. Not finding the music CD there, he fell to his knees and began looking under the bed. Hank stepped out of the way as Bobby began indiscriminately throwing items out of the way behind him. A baseball, then a dirty sock, followed by a book landed on the floor in front of him.

"Eureka!" shouted Bobby. "I've found it." He wiggled his front half out from underneath the bed, holding the CD triumphantly over his head.

Not daring to question how the item could have gotten hidden there behind all of the junk, Hank merely shook his head and took it from his friend. Turning to leave, he paused and bent down. Picking up the book that had been thrown out from under the bed, he asked, "What's this?"

"What's what?" Bobby asked. He was pushing some of the other items back under the bed with his foot.

"This," Hank said, flapping the book under his friend's nose. "This is a library book. And it's three years overdue!"

Bobby shrugged. "So?"

"So?" Hank stared at Bobby in exasperation. "It's not your book. You have to return it."

"Aww, come on, Hank. They probably never even noticed that it's gone." Bobby shuffled nervously, and looked down at the floor, while digging his bare toe into one of the bare spots in his carpet.

"Didn't you get any overdue notices?" Hank demanded to know.

"Well..." Bobby started. He looked up at Hank, his eyes pleading. "Come on, you know what a pain in the butt it is to go to the library. It's so far away, and then once it was overdue ... well, I knew I'd have to pay the fine, and it just seemed like too much trouble."

Hank rolled his eyes. "Now I know why you haven't gone with me to the library in the past three years." He grasped his friend by the shoulder and steered him towards the bathroom. "You're going today to return this book, so you better get showered and dressed. I'll wait for you downstairs."

"Aww, Hank, come on..." Bobby started, but Hank was already gone. His voice trailed back from the hallway, though: "Make sure you brush your teeth, too."

The two X-men stood outside of the Westchester Public Library, and watched as people came in and out of the building. Hank turned to his friend. "This won't get any easier lingering out here," he told him. "Let's get it over with."

Bobby followed him into the building. Beast's treatise on "the contract of trust inherent in many social institutions" still rang in his ears as he walked as slowly as possible with a martyred look on his face . They got into line by the service desk, and Bobby waited nervously as the people in front of them checked out books.

"Maybe you could-" began Bobby.

"No." Hank replied.



"Aww, Hank-"

"No." He pushed Bobby forward to where a friendly older woman was standing behind the desk.

She smiled encouragingly at Bobby, and asked, "How can I help you?"

He slowly placed the overdue on the counter. "Um, this book is late."

She nodded. "I see. We assess a twenty cent fee for each day the book is overdue."

Bobby quickly calculated in his head, and realized that was over $200. With a white face, he told the woman, "It's really overdue."

She smiled slightly. "Don't worry, sir. The most you can be charged is $10 per book."

He breathed an audible sigh of relief. "I can handle ten dollars." He pushed the book closer to the librarian and she picked it up.

She opened the book to the back cover, and then tsk-ed under her breath. Holding the book up, she said, "The book appears to have some sort of water damage."

"More likely ice," Bobby muttered under his breath.

She gave him a curious look, but continued to check the book into the computer system. "Huh." she muttered. "The book appears to no longer be in our system." She looked more closely at the back cover of the book, and then glared accusingly at Bobby. "This book is three years overdue."

He felt his palms begin to sweat. Clearing his throat, he began to stutter, "Um, yeah, I, uh, kinda forgot about it..." His voice trailed off.

The librarian, who seemed somewhat less friendly than she had been a few minutes before, told him, "Well, sir, we've already replaced the book."

Bobby's face brightened. "You mean I'm off the hook?"

She shook her head. "No, the amount of the book plus a processing charge has been charged to your account. The total amount is," she paused to look it up. "...$74.95."

Bobby blanched. "Seventy-five dollars!"

"And you won't be able to check out any more books until you pay for the book," she added.

He shrugged. "That's okay. I've been doing pretty good for the past three years." He turned to go, but was stopped by Hank grabbing the back of his shirt. "What now?" Bobby demanded in annoyance.

Hank shook his head at his friend. "You should pay for the book now, or you never will."

Bobby shifted his feet for a moment, and then looked imploringly up at Hank. "You see, Hank, the thing is, I don't have that kind of money with me right now." He pulled a crumpled ten dollar bill out of his pocket and held it up. "This is all I've got."

"You mean you came to the library to pay for the overdue book and brought only ten dollars?" Hank nearly shouted.

Bobby raised his hands placatingly. "Now don't get annoyed, Hank, but you remember that big poker game earlier this week? Well, I lost all my money to Remy and Logan, and well..." He shrugged.

Hank gave a suffering sigh. Turning back to the desk, he told the librarian "It would appear that I will be paying for the library book." He pulled out his wallet and began to count out the money.

"Aw, Hank, you're a real friend." Bobby grinned at his friend. Hank merely growled slightly in response.

"You'd better pay me back," he grumbled under his breath as he waited for his receipt.

The two men left the library and walked towards Hank's car. Bobby gave a sidelong glance over at his blue furry friend, who was refusing to look back at him.

Bobby waited a moment, and then: "Say Hank, I know what'll cheer you up. Let's rent a bunch a movies. We can get whatever you want, even some of those boring subtitled ones."

Hank said nothing for a moment, and then he sighed and smiled at Bobby. "All right, but we're stopping at the bank so you can withdraw some money to pay me back. And you're renting the movies."

Bobby was silent, and then: "Umm, Hank? Remember when we rented Gladiator last month?"



Author's note: Hey you! Go visit your local public library. Reading makes you a better person. Really.


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