Walk On the Wild Side

Hank had never thought that he'd live to see this day. It had been hard to believe at first when Dark Beast had contacted the X-Men and expressed a wish to join them. Apparently he'd been doing a lot of thinking ever since the Sentinels destroyed Genosha and Magneto and sixteen million other mutants were killed. As far as Xavier, Jean Grey and their other telepaths could ascertain he genuinely wanted redemption. Now amazing as it might have seemed McCoy's genetic expertise was helping in the investigation of the phenomenon of secondary mutations and the seeming exponential rise in mutant numbers.

"You know Hank it's a good thing you changed in appearance or they'd never be able to tell us apart. Must be painful to look at me though and see the way you used to be. Still give it time and you'll adjust, we both survived our first change didn't we?"

"Indubitably McCoy and it does have some advantages. My olfactory sense is far keener than it used to be. I smell your fear; you know I can defeat you. Admit it Dark Beast, I'm the stronger."

Muscles rippled under blue fur as with a final surge of adrenaline Hank brought McCoy's arm crashing down proving himself victorious in the arm wrestling match. Perhaps not the most intellectual of challenges but just a little warm up before the main event. The chessboard was set up and waiting for them. It had been Dark Beast's suggestion that they play a game of chess. He'd agreed to Hank's proposal that they try and work out their differences like civilized rational human beings. Admittedly the setting was a little odd with the board being on a table in a forest glade. Still at least here they were undisturbed away from annoying students and fellow X-men. They were all alone to enjoy the quiet sounds of the forest and the pleasant scents on the breeze including one very familiar scent. Two sets of pointed ears pricked as they heard quiet footsteps receding into the distance and yellow eyes narrowed suspiciously. Then the beguiling scent of Twinkies overrode their caution and they charged off in the direction of the scent eager to claim the sugary snacks.

"Oh sugary sweetness, how I long to savor the sweet sensation on my tongue," purred Hank.

"Mmm-hmm, Twinkies, even more enjoyable than genetic experimentation," growled McCoy, eyes alight with unholy glee.

There in the middle of the next forest clearing was a large heap of Twinkies ripe for the picking. Really Hank and McCoy were supposed to be geniuses so they should have known better. They should have suspected a trap and not simply leapt straight into the clearing each trying to be the first to the pile. Alas the lure of the Twinkies was too much to resist and they only began to regret their decision when the cage dropped down on top of them. Desperately the two mutants tried twisting the bars to escape but even with their strength it was futile.

"Well curse my stars and garters, adamantium bars my feline friend so we're trapped together. At least we won't starve," sighed McCoy.

"I'm more concerned about who would set a trap for us. Oh stars and garters, I think and this is the understatement of the millennium, we're in trouble," whispered Hank ears curling back in fear.

It wasn't the approaching camera crew that had terrified him but the man leading them. It was none other than the infamous Crocodile Hunter himself, Steve Irwin. Desperately tearing his gaze away from the Australian madman Hank took a closer look at his companions. One was a rather attractive young woman, auburn hair, green eyes and looking much like a younger Jean Grey. She was certainly contrasted by the companion, warts, green skin, a long sticky tongue, lank greenish hair added up to a most unpleasant sight. The question on Hank's mind was what was Mortimer Toynbee or Toad as he was better known doing with Steve Irwin.

"Crikey get a load of these gorgeous critters," said Steve admiringly pointing towards his hirsute captives.

"Hey I told you I'd get you some really wild mutants didn't I? These two will be just what you need for your new 'Mutant Files' show. You wanted really fierce animalistic mutants and well I told you that you could do better than me. I mean just look at them, a Sasquatch and a Disney Beast. What more could the audience want," snickered Mort.

"So this was your idea Toad? Steve Irwin got bored with wrestling crocodiles so he decided on mutants and he caught you. So like the sniveling coward you really are you bargained with him to capture someone else and get out with your hide intact. Please come over and I'll show you just how fierce I really can be," growled Hank sending Mort cowering behind Steve.

"Actually you're wrong furry fellow; I want a cute and cuddly critter to present the show with me. Crikey yer right about him Mort, kids will love the Disney look. Mandy, hey Mandy what are you doing," called Steve.

Mandy had gone over to the cage intrigued by the furry mutants that the trap had caught. A little nervous of Hank she'd gone over to his smaller dark-furred counterpart. As she'd reached her hand through to touch the fur she'd expected it to be coarse but it wasn't. Soft, almost silky to the touch, deep and luxuriant it was a delight to the touch. Gently she began running her fingers down the fur on McCoy's arm provoking a deep rumbling purr from the mutant.

"Please, behind my ears is my favorite spot," rumbled McCoy looking at the woman beseechingly.

"Crikey, Sheila's always seem to go for the furry ones. Have to do a program about that. So Mr. Kitty, what do you say about being a star in my program?" asked Steve holding out a piece of catnip. Instantly Hank was lost in ecstasy, purring and desperately trying to reach for the catnip.

Hank struggled desperately against his animal instincts and sweat trickling down his brow managed to resist the lure of the catnip. Thinking quickly he knew he was out of his league against Steve Irwin, the man was at least as powerful as Sinister, Magneto, Apocalypse, Cassandra Nova or even Galactus himself. Hank was of firm opinion that the man must be a mutant probably with super strength and invulnerability. It was the only reasonable explanation for his continued existence. No, Hank wouldn't win this by brute strength but by cunning, he was certain he could outwit the man. Perhaps he could even find a solution that would make everyone happy.

"Mr. Irwin sir, I know a mutant who's far better qualified for your program. How would you like to have the Canadian Wolverine starring on your show? I can get him for you and I think you'll agree he'd be a far bigger draw than our humble selves,"

"You mean the Wolverine, the claw guy? OK, I'm interested," said Steve.

"I suggest you keep me here as insurance and perhaps put Mort in the cage with me in case my partner doesn't come back. McCoy, I've a job for you,"

"Aw, do I have to, hey that tickles," chuckled McCoy as Mandy continued to scratch behind his ears.

"Fair dinkum critter, you got yourself a deal. In you go Mort and here you go Hank, you earned the catnip."

"Catch you later Beastie boy," whispered Mandy planting a kiss on Dark Beast's furry cheek.

McCoy sighed heavily and reluctantly exited the cage as the door was opened and a protesting Mort hurled inside. The amphibian mutant shrieked in terror as he realized that he was now covered in the catnip and that Hank was eying him menacingly. A loud growl, a slash of claws and a piercing scream as the catnip took hold. Fortunately for Mort he'd make a full recovery after a few weeks in hospital.

"Crikey," whispered an awed Steve Irwin.

At the edge of the forest McCoy stood scratching his furry chin thoughtfully. His course of action would be risky but it would impress Mandy with his courage. He'd just have to enrage Logan enough to cause the feral to chase him all the way back to the trap. McCoy showed his fangs in a devilish grin. Yes spiking Logan's beer with a special serum would do very nicely. McCoy rubbed at his sideburns and winced in sympathy at Logan's coming trauma. Maybe this would be too cruel even for him but since when did he worry about the ethics of his schemes? Besides Logan's healing factor would ensure his hair grew back given time. No it was too cruel. McCoy decided he would be merciful and go with another formula instead.

A little while later Hank, Mandy and Steve heard the sounds of angry snarls and then a triumphantly laughing Dark Beast burst onto the scheme. He leapt to land before Mandy with a showy bow before striking a dramatic pose as he gestured towards the rapidly approaching feral. Snarling and practically foaming at the mouth the growling feral advanced with claws extended. McCoy didn't move as Logan grabbed him by the throat and placed the claws on his free hand directly under his chin.

"Alright ya can quit yer staring, just cause I now have blue hair thanks ta fuzzy here doesn't mean ya have ta notice it. Now are yer going ta give me a good reason why I shouldn't just gut ya here and now," growled Logan.

"Yes if you kill me it will make Mandy cry,"

Mandy nodded as tears trickled down her cheeks. Being rather gentlemanly at heart Logan reluctantly dropped McCoy and strode towards the beckoning Hank.

"I've got a cure for you right here Logan. Stars and garters, you needn't look so suspicious friend, would I lie to you?" asked Hank guilelessly.

"I don't trust ya fuzzy but ya get the benefit of the doubt this time," growled Logan stepping into the cage.

Hank promptly smacked him in the jaw knocking him out.

"Crikey, I didn't think you could get the Canadian Wolverine for me. OK Hank you're free to go as soon as Mandy has finished with your friend,"

Steve and Hank rolled their eyes as McCoy drew Mandy into a gentle hug and they kissed for one last time. Smiling she whispered into his ear and handed him a slip of paper. McCoy grinned broadly and turned away from her before blowing her one last kiss. Taking their leave of Steve Irwin Hank and McCoy decided to go back and try their game of chess. Besides they wanted to get away before Steve decided he needed any more captured mutants.

"Hank do ya hear me, I'm going ta rip yer freaking head off fer this bub. Yer in fer a taste of claw city, ya know I ain't bluffing. I'm going ta kill ya if I ever get out of this," eventually Logan's angry growls faded into the distance.

A little while later Hank was holding the white queen in one oversized paw and pondering his next move. He supposed he ought to feel guilty about Logan but there was no real harm done. He would get the others to rescue the feral one day, one day when he remembered. Anyway there were more pressing matters at the moment like this game of chess.

"Mandy gave me her telephone number Hank, she seemed quite taken with me. She's also got a sister who might be interested in you so we could do a double date. Women of excellent taste in my humble opinion," purred McCoy.

"Stars and garters that will be an interesting experience. Check by the way," muttered Hank as he made his move.

"We make a formidable team Hank and its good we're working together now. I know we weren't exactly moral doing that to poor Logan but I'd give anything to see the look on his face right now. Oh curse my stars and garters, I really am a bad boy," McCoy looked insufferably smug as he made his move.

"That you are 'brother', that you are," murmured Hank.

"Checkmate," he roared triumphantly.

McCoy sighed and hung his head in defeat. Hank smiled contentedly pleased to have let the air out of Dark Beast's sails a little. Then his essential compassion came to the fore and he soothingly patted Dark Beast on his furry shoulder.

"No need to look quite so melancholy, I think you were most resourceful, devious, and courageous and just a little wicked today. Besides I saved some Twinkies just for you," cajoled Hank.

Yes it certainly made for interesting times with Dark Beast on his team now and loath as he may be to admit it Hank found he rather liked things that way.