Disclaimer: Just for the record, Bobby Drake really does belong to me. Really. I bought him for 380 mps last week when I was playing X-Men Monopoly. I'm not really sure what sort of rights that entitles me to, other than the ability to build Mutant Training Centers on him, and to charge 24 mps rent. And even though they're not appearing in this story, I also own Avalanche, the Hellfire Club, and the X-Copter (whatever that is.) But Opal and Warren and Hank and all the other X-Men belong to Marvel, and I'm not making any profit on them. (Technically, I think Warren now belongs to my friend Julia, but well, let's not go there.)
Notes: This is Mice's One-Week-Late Birthday story! I did it JUST FOR HER!!! It's rated PG-13 for wrongness, because that's what this story is: Wrong. In many, many ways. But if Mice likes it, well, my work is done.

"Warren, I think it's evil."

"Aw, she's just a sweet--"

"--sadistic, demonic--"

"--fwuffy, widdle--"

"--force of nature."




"Ready to get rid of it, yet, Warren?"


Puppy Love
by ValKerrie

(directly following Uncanny X-Men #305)

Hank McCoy didn't want to do this. He really didn't. But these were desperate times. And Hank McCoy was a desperate man.

"Bobby, if you come out of your room, I'll give you ... half a box of Samoas."

A dramatic sob came from behind the door. "Hank, I'm offended! My life as we know it is over, and you're trying to bribe me with food! I may just jump out this window and you offer me -- Samoas? Samoas?"

Hank ground his teeth. "Fine. A full box of Thin Mints, but if I hear the vaguest mention of Ms. Tanaka in the next week, you owe me back. And I want my book back, this time, too!"

The door opened, and a hand darted out, snagging Hank's cookie stash, and returning into the room just as quickly.

"HEY! I believe your end of the bargain included guaranteed exodus of your room, and--"

Strains of "Electric Barbarella" began emanating from the door.

Hank hrnnphed, and decided that if Robert Drake felt like channeling Emily Dickinson, that was just fine by him.

Bobby, however, wasn't channeling Emily Dickinson. He was trying to channel Captain Ahab, and it wasn't working very well.

The Thin Mints and Duran Duran helped a little, but not very much.

Bobby Drake had a guaranteed method for getting over girls. He'd stumbled over it by accident. Many years ago, when Lorna Dane had dumped him for, of all people, Alex Summers, in the middle of a particularly vocal rant in Hank's room, Hank had thrown a book at him. A thick book. A heavy book. A book full of French people.

Bobby didn't look at the title very closely, and assumed it was a self-help book.

Three weeks and fourteen-hundred pages later, he realized that the title wasn't Less Miserables, acquired a life-long dream to visit the French sewer system, and considered himself ready to move on.

The Count of Monte Cristo helped him through the Darkstar mess.

Kafka's The Metamorphosis made Cloud turning into a man and subsequently a nebula seem, well, not-so-bad.

Demian was a little trippy, but then again, so was his entire relationship with Marge.

Every time Bobby got bummed about a girl, he read a book he didn't understand.

And then he felt better.

But it wasn't working.

Bobby chewed on a Thin Mint pensively. Either Moby Dick was the worst piece of literature ever, or he just couldn't get over Opal Tanaka. Bobby sighed, and turned back three more pages.

Suddenly, through the opening strains of "Hungry Like the Wolf" he heard a tapping on his window.

"Lemme in, already, squirt!"

Bobby thought about throwing a Thin Mint at the window, then decided it was a waste of good chocolate.

So he opened the window instead.

And Warren climbed in, wrestling with something in a small sack.

"If you're here to cheer me up, I don't want to hear it," Bobby noted, sticking his nose back in his book.

Warren stared at him blankly. "Cheer you up? For what?"

Icily, Bobby lowered his book. "Because Opal, love of my life, just pulled my heart out of my ribcage, stomped on it a few times, kicked it once or twice, then handed it back. Thank you."

Warren scratched his head. "Opal ... Opal ... Was that the one you met down at the coffee place?"

"That was ZELDA! And it was over ten years ago!"

"Oooh ... riiiiiight ... my bad. Refresh me, refresh me!"


"The blonde one?"

"What blonde one?"

"The fire chick. With the nice ra--"

"Never mind. Now you're just making people up."

Warren shrugged. "That's okay, I didn't care, anyway. I need a favor."


"Aw, come on, Bobbo! It's Warren, here!"

"I don't care."

"I know you're not actually reading that."

"Am so."

"It's upside-down."


Warren plucked the book out of Bobby's hands, and set the sack in his lap. "Look, I just need you to dispose of this for me. And, I'll, uh ... make it worth your while."


"I just will."

"Last time you said that, I ended up with no hair on my legs."

Warren thought about that for a second. "Those were good times, weren't they?"


"Heh, heh. Yes, they were. Anyway, thanks for taking care of that for me. You're a real pal, Drake."

Very slowly, Bobby looked down at his lap. "Warren, I don't know what you have in this bag, but I think it just peed on my leg."

"Oh, I guess it doesn't like being in the bag very much."


Frantically, Bobby dumped thirteen pounds of irate animal out of the sack.

The two men stared at it for a minute.

"What is it?"

"I think it's a dog," Warren shrugged. "See, I was trying to get Betsy to go out with me--"

Bobby held up one hand. "Hold. You ... were trying to get ... Betsy..."

"YES," Warren replied testily.


"Yeah, shut up! It could happen!"

"I think not, rich boy!"

"Yeah, well, she didn't like the puppy."

"I don't see why not. It's a cute li'l -- YOWTCH!"

"That's why."

"It dang near took my finger off! Look at that!"

"She's just picky, I guess. Always wanted a beagle or something."

"Why is it so irate?"

"I don't know. I got it from some old lady who breeds the little monsters."

Bobby regarded the dog. It was small and very fluffy, with little pink ribbons tied in its ears.

The dog regarded Bobby. He was wearing his old Xavier's sweatshirt, and had cookie crumbs on his face.

"Her name is Ms. Lion."

"Well, no wonder she's irate."

"She just doesn't like you."

"Doesn't like me? It's evil!"

"Well, will you take it to the pound or something for me? I hate that place."

"No! You do it!"

"Thanks, man! You're the best!"

And Bobby had always thought Nightcrawler was good at disappearing.

Ms. Lion helped herself to some of Bobby's cookies.

"Man, Warren owes me," Bobby grumbled, as he revved the starter of his arthritic Ford Escort. "I could be in my room, sulking now, but no, I have to take you to puppy prison."

Ms. Lion snorted, and put her head down on the seat.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," Bobby replied, pulling onto the road. "Why do women have to be like that? I mean, Warren goes out of his way to buy a nice doggie for Betsy, and she doesn't want it. I try to make a real relationship work with Opal, and she dumps me. I let you in my car ... and you're urinating all over my real imitation sheepskin seat covers! Stop that! Stop it!"

If he hadn't known better, Bobby would have sworn the dog was laughing at him.

"Okay, add three more dollars onto the millions Warren already owes me," Bobby frowned, scrubbing at his real imitation sheepskin seat cover, while Ms. Lion looked on in amusement. "By the way, I love hanging out in the grocery store parking lot to clean up your mess, thank you for asking. Dumb dog."

Ms. Lion continued to gnaw on Bobby's driver's license.

Bobby sighed, and gave a final half-hearted scrub. "Well, I guess that'll do for now. Ready to head off to solitary?"

Bobby shut the door and was picking up his bottle of CarpetFresh as a car pulled into the space adjacent to his. He looked up, just as the driver opened the door.


As the stars cleared from Bobby's eyes, the first thing he saw, was Ms. Lion. Laughing at him.

The second thing he saw was an enormous pair of pants.

"Bobby, is that you?"

Bobby blinked again. "Mommy, Nan stuck her dentures in my oatmeal ... again..."

"Oooh, that can't be good," Opal Tanaka sighed, trying to run her fingers through her hair, and getting them gummed up in hairspray. "You dummy! What are you doing, sitting around in a parking lot, anyway?"

That was a good question, Bobby decided, sitting up and leaning against his car. "I came to see you!" he decided suddenly.

Opal raised one eyebrow. "Look, we broke up, because you're scum, remember?"

"Uh ... vaguely." Suddenly, he felt another sharp pain, as Ms. Lion decided Bobby's ear closely resembled a Bacon-flavored Snausage. "I ... came to give you this puppy?"

"What puppy?"

Bobby reached behind him, and wrestled thirteen pounds of snarling dog out of his passenger seat. "This puppy!"

Opal looked at Ms. Lion.

Ms. Lion stopped eating Bobby's hand, and looked at Opal.

And even if there is no such thing as love at first sight, this was damn close.

"My life is GOLDEN!" Bobby sang, dancing into the kitchen.

"Well, this is a change of heart," Jean smiled.

"And why is there a bandage on your head?" Scott was quick to follow with.

"Because Opal hit me in the head with the driver's side door of her 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit," Bobby sighed happily.

"Aaaaand ... this means you're finally over her and that is why your life is golden?" Hank asked hopefully.

"We got back together!" Bobby announced gleefully.

"Um..." Jean started.

"That's it," Hank sighed. "I'm dedicating my life to interpretive dance."

Scott scratched his head. "It's not that bad ... I mean, she's never ... uh ... eaten a planet..."

"But her pants might have," Hank snapped back under his breath.

Bobby's little dance of joy slowed to a halt, and his eyes filled with the sort of denial that said "Bambi's mommy was TOO coming back."

"Now, don't take it that way, old pal..."

"Look, I love Opal, and I don't care if she wears big pants or has weird hair, or her mob grandpa or about her dead samurai-poet boyfriend-cousin guy!"

"How about the fact that she has the IQ of mayonnaise?" Jean said innocently.

"Jean!" Scott elbowed her.

Jean paled. "I ... said that out loud, didn't I?"

Steam was visibly rising from Bobby's head. "Fine, then. BE THAT WAY!!"

"Kibbles and bits and bits and bits ... Puppy want some kibbles and bits?"


"Of course not! Baby want some ... ummm ... pizza?"


Opal beamed, and dumped the remains of her dinner into Ms. Lion's pink ceramic dish.

Daintily, the little mop-that-walked-like-a-dog, chewed on her dinner.

"Bobby's coming over tonight, sweetie!" Opal chirped.

Ms. Lion looked up, shooting her mistress the Ultimate Puppy Death Glare.

"He ... has his good points," Opal fidgeted. "You can chew on his sneakers."

Ms. Lion went back to her pizza.

"Some friends they are," Bobby grumbled. "Can't even be supportive of a guy when his life suddenly gets handed back to him." He kicked Moby Dick across the room. "Well, I know how lucky I am."

Moby Dick landed in the towering pile of dirty laundry behind Bobby's bed, causing it to tumble over, knocking over the Giant Laser Beam he'd been building out of his Legos, which in turn, flew gracefully through the air, into his fish tank. Bart, the world's most arthritic leopard-spotted catfish, and sole denizen of Bobby's fishtank, leapt into air, liberally splashing Bobby's lamp (which sparked, then went out), and then landing on his head.

"Incredibly lucky, that's how lucky I am," Bobby grumbled.

Opal stood in front of her closet and sifted through her sweaters critically. She'd already decided on the Big-Red-Velour-Pants-With-Paisleys-On-'Em, but she just couldn't make up her mind. Grabbing two, she swung around to face her pet.

"Teal cable-knit crop or purple shaker-knit tunic?"

Ms. Lion looked up from her pink-satin-pillow-lined basket.


"The purple? Great, that's what I was thinking, too! Gee, Ms. Lion, it's like you can read my mind! Skull earrings? Bobby LOVES the skull earrings!"


"Really? The platforms? I was thinking the flats."


"Well, if you really think so..."

Bobby knocked on the door nervously, clutching the bundle of flowers. He prepared for his heart to skip a beat as the door began to open.

His heart skipped something, all right.

"Hi, Bobby!"

Bobby wasn't sure if he wanted to shut his eyes, to block out the view of Opal's outfit, or if he wanted to maintain transfixed on it, like a horrible accident.

"That's ... something new with your hair, isn't it?" he guessed.

"It's called 'chunking'! Isn't it keen!"

Bobby tried to think back to Jubilee's teen magazines. "Um ... aren't all the chunks supposed to be the same color?"

Opal rolled her eyes. "Like, anyone can do that."

"True," Bobby replied, pained. "I, uh, brought you some flowers."

"OOOH! Oh, there's beautiful! I'm gonna go put those in water. Come on in!"

Hesitantly, Bobby stepped into the Tanaka living room. As Opal scurried off, he considered sitting down on the plastic-covered sofa, then thought better of it. Then, he felt a sharp pain in his ankle.

"You again," he growled.

Ms. Lion glared at him balefully.

Before the actual carnage could occur, Opal sashayed back into the room, and scooped up Ms. Lion. "How's Mommy's baby?"


"Is you having fun wif Bobby-kins?"


"Oh, I knew you would!"

As Ms. Lion enthusiastically slurped Opal's cheek, Bobby noted that she was still wearing those hideous skull earrings.

"Well, you, uh, ready to go?"

"Of course! Aren't we, Ms. Lion?"


Bobby was silent for a second. "She's ... coming along?"

"O'course she is, silly!"

"Sir, you cannot bring that animal into this restaurant!"

"Gee, O., I guess we'll just have to leave Ms. Lion in the car."

"Bobby, we can't do that! She'll get hot!"

"O., it's sixty degrees out."

"But she'll get lonely!"

"If she wanted company, then she wouldn't have left home and left Hell to its own devices..."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, dear. Um, come on. Let's go somewhere else."

One hour later...

"I can't believe there isn't a restaurant in this town that won't serve dogs."

"You should have called ahead."

"I don't think that would have helped."

"It might have."

Bobby sighed, and laid his arm around Opal's shoulders. "Doesn't this remind you of something, honey?"

Opal blinked. "What?"

"Our first date. When we were wandering around New York at eleven o'clock at night and couldn't find a place that was open and served vegetarian? I was babysitting little Chris -- well, now he's big Nate -- and you--"


"Yes, Opal?"

"Ms. Lion's hungry. And I am, too."

"Yes, Opal."

"You want fries with that?"



"Um ... yeah. And SuperSize it."

"--'ey, you always be my cracker."

"You got that, cornbread."

Bobby leaned over. "Isn't this movie great?"

"I don't get it," Opal replied, shaking her head. "But I like that drug lord guy. He's kind of cute."

Bobby tried not to think to hard about that. In fact, he had something else on his mind entirely. A quick glance confirmed that Ms. Lion still lay asleep in the popcorn box.

He leaned in, closing his arm around Opal.

Realizing what was going on, Opal leaned towards him.

Bobby closed his eyes.

And then his lips met something ... something warm and slobbery and dog-breathed and altogether gross.

"DAMN D--" Bobby started to say, jerking away. Then he realized that Ms. Lion was still sitting in her popcorn box, staring at him, bewildered. Opal seemed to be looking at him with the same expression.


"Shut up!" someone yelled.

Opal beamed. "Thank you! And when did you get that Brooklyn accent?"

"I need to go to the little boy's room."

Bobby sat down hard, on the couch.

"I don't believe it."

"I know," Warren replied. "There is nothing on tv. Lookie, it's the Westminster Kennel Club Doggie Show! Hey, I know that chick! And that one ... Hmm, I think I slept with her..."

Bobby turned to Warren. "Opal's a bitch!"

Warren considered this for a moment. "Yes."

"Why have I been so torn up about this?"

"Because you're you, and you hate it when people don't like you."

"But ... she dresses badly ... and she's selfish ... and she has dog-breath..."

"Oh, I remember that. Remember, you used to carry that pack of Altoids in your pocket the entire time we were in X-Factor. We'd go out on missions and you'd be like 'Curiously strong mint, anyone? Curiously strong mint?' Heh, I miss those. You gonna start carrying 'em again?"

"No!" Bobby announced. "I'm done being her doormat! It's OVER!"

"Damn," Warren sighed. "Hey, lookie. There's one o' those hairy things I got Betsy the other week."

Bobby squinted at the television.

"--Sir Galadriel, Prince of Stars, Baron of Cornishire, a rare Barbara-Hanna Terrier. You know, Ohato, a virgin bitch of this breed is worth over two thousand dollars?"

Bobby blinked. "Um ... be right back."

"Where ya going?"

"To get that bitch back!"

"I thought you were done being Opal's doormat."

"Not that bitch, the other one!"


Bobby pounded on the door purposefully.

He prepared for impact.

Opal answered the door, wearing a turquoise and hot pink bathrobe, her hair in matching pink curlers.

"Bobby! Just the person I wanted to see!"


"I need you to take Ms. Lion--"

Bobby blinked. Well, that was easy.

"--to the beauty parlor."

Bobby blinked. "Say what?"

"She has an appointment at 2:00, and I was out of Dippity-Doo. Fortunately, Carmen, next door, had some, but it's set my whole day back. Thanks, you're a dear."


Opal stared at him. "What?"

"Um ... what beauty parlor does she go to?"

"This is disgusting," Bobby muttered, trying to bury his nose deeper into his Sports Illustrated.

"Oh, Ms. Lion, you have the most *absolutely fabulous* cuticles!"


"That's not the only thing that's absolutely fabulous around here," Bobby grunted.

"Mmm, I must talk to Opal about getting you a permanent! It was be so -- SO!"


"If Opal looked half as good as--" Bobby trailed off when he realized he was being stared at. "Um, hello?"

"Look," Ray, the beauty technician announced, "you are totally a font of negativity over there."


"I don't know how Ms. Lion can stand to be so gorgeous in your very presence."

"Never underestimate the true power of the Lord of Evil."

"Do you know what you need?"

"No, but I bet you're going to tell me."






"NO! Rosie really lost twenty pounds on a *rice cake* diet?"


Bobby looked at his toes, thoughtfully. "You know, that is a nice shade."

"I thought so."


Once again, Bobby stood on Opal's doorstep, holding a snarling bundle of fur. He knocked on the door.

"Wait a second," he said, looking down at Ms. Lion. "What am I doing? I was supposed to kidnap you. Why am I back here? And WHY IN THE NAME O' FRED SANFORD DID I LET THAT GUY PAINT MY TOES?" Bobby clutched his head. "It must be residual effects from the concussion. Or those Marshmallow-Blasted Fruit Loops I ate for breakfast. Or maybe ... maybe you ARE the Princess of Darkness!"

Ms. Lion finished chewing Bobby's watch off his arm, and bit into it with a resounding crunch.

Suddenly, Opal flung the door open.

"What took you so long?" she demanded.


"Oh, come on. We're late."

"Where are we going?"

"To the dog show dummy! Now, come on, we're late!"

"Opal, we need to talk."

"Bobby, this is Ms. Lion's night to shine, and if you ruin it for her, so help me, I will make you pay in new and imaginative ways, got it?"


Opal primped. She fluffed. She brushed the floppy brown hair back and forth until it was just so. She thought for a moment. She started over.

"Oooh, stop squirming, baby! Opal'll make you so pretty!"

"I don't want to be pretty."

"Bobby, you're making Ms. Lion look bad. And try to smile, you're at a doggie show, not a funeral."

"It's still early."

Ms. Lion ripped a large chunk out of Bobby's pant leg, and chewed on it contently.

"Oh, Mommy's baby is going to win so many awards! And you is sooo pretty in your new sweater!"

Bobby rolled his eyes. "Look, O. We really need to talk."

Opal scowled. "Fine, then, but make it snappy. Ms. Lion is going to be judged in five."

"It's about ... us."

"Fine, fine, what?"

"Well, I've been thinking, O., and--"

"Stop playing with your hair!"

"That's just it! I'm sick of doing every little thing for you! Once I ran to you, but now I just want to run from you! I give you more than a boy should give you. I'm sorry, O., but I JUST DON'T PARADE THAT WAY!"

Opal blinked. "Aren't those the lyrics to 'Tainted Love'?"


"That makes them no less true."

"Are you done?"

"No. I want my dog back."

"No! She's mine!"

"No, technically, she's Betsy's. And I had a head injury when I gave her to you. I only wish I could blame our entire relationship on the same."

"Oh, get over yourself! And give me her leash!"


"She's my baby!"

"Oh, that is so disgusting. Get a hobby. Watch some QVC. Something."

"Give me back my puppy!"





"Ms. Tanaka?"


The short, bespectacled gentleman reared back. "Er, I'm here to judge your animal. Where is she?"

"What do you mean, she's right--" Opal looked down, at the end of Ms. Lion's lacy pink leash, from Bobby's hand ... to the frayed end Ms. Lion had just chewed through. "--here."

"Maybe she's hiding under the cuff of your pants," the judge offered helpfully.

"Oh, SHUT UP!"

"I can't believe you lost my baby," Opal snapped.

"YOUR baby? It's my dog!"

"You gave her to me!"

"And I reserve the right to reclaim her!"

"You don't even like her!"

"But I thought she would add a nice touch to the trophy room."

"You're disgusting!"

"So're your pants. And your hair looks horrible."

"I hate you!"

"I hate you more!"

"Oh, there is no 'more'! My hatred is an absolute, total hatred."

"No, no. My hate for you is like Hank's love for twinkies. All-encompassing, undeniable, unsurpassable."


"Hey, like, 'scuse me?"

"Yes?" Bobby asked, turning around calmly.

A young man, dressed in a dingy green t-shirt and a pair of bell-bottoms to rival Opal's scratched his head. "You, like, haven't seen a dog around here, have you?"

"Let me think," Bobby replied.

"Perhaps a little more detail would be in order," the man's companion suggested. She was even shorter than Opal, with coke-bottle glasses and close-cropped hair. "He's a Great Dane, brown with black spots, probably eating..."

"Like, I don't know where he could have gone. And we're supposed to meet back at the van in an hour!"

"We lost our doggy here at the dog show, too!" Opal announced sadly.

"Actually, we're not here for the dog show," the girl replied. "We were trying to solve the Mystery of the Radioactive Ro--"

"Have you seen my baby?" Opal interrupted. "She's absolutely the most cute'n'cuddly widdle--"



Bobby scanned the crowd carefully, when something caught his eye. "Big dog, you say? Blue collar?"

"Like, yeah!"

"He's right there, next to the concession stand."

"Where?" the lanky man squinted.

"Over there -- hey, look, he's having some fun with someone's dog! Ha ha! Oh, look at that little fluffy -- oh, crap."

"MY BABY!!!"

"Like, BAD DOG! Bad dog, Scoob!"

Bobby stretched boredly as Opal dashed off. The girl in the glasses squinted. "Isn't that a Barbara-Hanna Terrier? A virgin breeding dog is worth over two thousand dollars."

Bobby sighed. "Well, too late now. In the end ... she wasn't worth the trouble." Bobby smiled, and for the first time in a long time, felt completely, totally free. "Hey, I like your knee socks. You doing anything?"

"Jinkies, no! Why?"

"I dunno. Wanna grab some coffee and some girl scout cookies or something?"


"Hey ... you ever read Moby Dick... ?"

The End

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