A/N: Hey, look at that! After such a long absence I actually managed to update two stories within a week of each other! Praise the Fates, I think the plot bunnies are in a good mood! That can be the only explanantion.
Just like I said in the newest chapter of Stitches... -- Oh, look! Shameless, shameless plug! ; ) -- I doubt any of you really remember what you reviewed in the last chapter, since it was about six months ago... so I'll just leave the review responses for next time. Yes, that does mean you all will have to review then. -collective groan sounds throughout cyber-space- I'm sorry, but that's just how it is... ; )
"You have got to be kidding me!"
"C'mon, Scott, it's not like you're going to face a firing squad wearing it."
"But a top hat and coattails?! Seriously, what century do you think we're living in?"
"Honestly, yoah bein' such a baby. Would you jus' say yes already so we can get on with th' rest o' our lives?"
"Well then, you wear them, Ms. Southern-Fried-Chicken."
Rogue stood and took a step in Scott's direction. "Now Ah know you did not jus' call me that!"
"Easy, chère, easy," Remy soothed, refereeing the would-be fight by getting between the two. He faced Rogue and said smoothly, "De boy's jus' nervous, is all. Don' really know what he's doin' when it comes t' women -- "
"I'm standing right here, Gambit," intoned Scott pointedly. "I can hear every word you're saying."
"Good. Maybe you'll learn somet'in' while ya dere." He turned back to Rogue. "Don' worry 'bout it, chère, 'kay? Jus' let de Yankee get it out o' his system. He'll be a good boy from now, won't you, Scottie?" When he didn't receive an immediate answer, he threw a deadly stare in the other male's direction.
"All right, all right," Scott muttered, throwing up his hands. "I swear, the two of you are spending too much time together. Now you've got Rogue's death glare down to an art form."
Though she was reluctant to let the issue drop, Rogue gave in. "Jus' make sure th' boy scout doesn't crack any more comments against people that're tryin' ta help him."
When she had walked out of earshot, Remy rounded on Scott. "You insult her in any way again, mon ami, an' Jeannie won't have enough parts o' you t' even remotely call a paramour. You hear what I'm sayin'?"
Behind his visor, Scott rolled his eyes. Remy was always one for dramatics. It was nice to see that he sincerely cared about Rogue, but sometimes -- actually, most of the time -- he took it to theatrical levels. "Fine, okay? I'm sorry. You know I think of her like a sister."
"Dat's disgustin', homme. Den de two o' you are committin' incest or somet'in'."
"Not Jean! Rogue! I think of Rogue like a sister! Will you please get your head out of the gutter for one minute!"
"It's better dan where you put ya head..."
Both Scott and Remy looked up at the sound. A few feet away stood Evan, Kurt and Bobby, all with bored expressions painting their faces.
"So are we done for the day?"
Scott sighed. "It's nine o'clock in the morning, Bobby. The day's barely even started."
"So that's a 'no,' huh?"
"Vat are ve doing zis time?"
"Helpin' Leader-Boy wit' his woman problems."
"Dude, that's gonna take years."
"Gee, Evan, your confidence in me is overwhelming," Scott deadpanned.
"Are we hiding out from Jean?" Bobby inquired. "Is that why we're having a 'secret' meeting... in the middle of the front lawn... where everyone and their mother can see us from every window in the mansion?"
Ignoring the comment, Kitty looked up and showed the boys the notebook she had been writing in. "I already made a list of all the stuff that we'll need..."
"Five pages?!" gapped Kurt. "Back to back?! Are you crazy?"
"I thought we were just planning a date, not the dude's wedding," Evan chimed in.
"Believe me, guys, if we were planning Scott's wedding I'd need at least four more notebooks... and a crew of about fifty."
Bobby made a face. Women. "Okay, okay. So where are we doing this thing?"
"Over dere. In de small glen between de trees."
"It's going to be so romantic," Kitty cooed.
Bobby, Evan and Kurt gagged.
"Excuse me fo' bein' th' only one who's actually thinkin' here," interrupted Rogue, once again moving closer to the group. "But how exactly do you plan on preventin' Jean from noticin' all yoah preparations anyway?" She reached for Kitty's notebook and began flipping through it. "Kit-Kat's got ev'rythin' but a pink lagoon in he-- " She stared at her roommate in disbelief. "You've got a pink lagoon in here. Where in th' world are you gettin' a pink lagoon?!"
"Lagoons-'R-Us. They, like, did one of Elizabeth Taylor's weddings, I think."
Kurt, who was studying the notebook over his sister's shoulder, began to read, "... lights... flowers... champagne... champagne flutes... pink flamingos?" He looked towards Kitty. "For ze pink lagoon, I presume."
"Like, duh, Kurt."
Evan continued down the list. "... lanterns... china... caviar... Dude, this is gonna cost you an arm, a leg, and every other body part you can think of."
"I'm beginning to think that this isn't such a good idea anymore," Scott said.
"Dere's no backin' out now, Scottie-boy. You already committed t' doin' dis."
"You can't force me to go through with any of it."
"Non... but Jeannie can."
Mild suspicion crept onto Scott's features. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Not'in'… jus' dat you got out o' goin' shoppin' wit' Jeannie t'day 'cause you said you were plannin' a surprise f'r her. How's it gon' look if she comes back from de mall an' ya at home, sittin' on ya ass watchin' ya Three Stooges collection?"
"For the last time, that isn't mine! It's -- "
"' -- my brother's!' We know! We know!" his teammates finished in unison.
"Well, it is!"
"Yeah right... an' Pamela Anderson is a 32A," mumbled Rogue, rolling her eyes. "So that explains how Jean's not gonna see th' preparations, 'cause she'll be out shoppin'. But what's gonna prevent her from comin' home early an' catchin' us with our tails in th' air?"
"That would be me," Kitty stated.
Rogue rolled her eyes again. "Lordy, why am Ah not surprised? Th' fashion twins at th' mall... t'gether! An' on a three-day weekend sale no less! Has th' National Guard been notified yet?"
"Ha-ha. Very funny." Kitty walked over to her roommate and held out her preparation notebook. "You're, like, going to need this to set everything up."
"Why th' heck are you givin' that thing ta me?! Ah ain't in charge o' this harebrained plan!"
"But you're the girl!"
Bobby snickered. "Are you sure of that?"
Green-eyed daggers were shot in his direction.
"Fine, then," Kitty huffed. "I'll just give it to Scott. It's his date, after all."
But before she could place the notebook in her leader's outstretched hand, Remy skillfully intercepted it. "Are you kiddin' me, petite? Might as well shut our operation down right now if you give it t' No-Ounce-o'-Romance dere."
"And just how did I get this reputation of being the anti-Casanova?"
"Ven ze shoe fits, mein freund..."
Kitty took a few steps away from the group. "I better get back inside. Jean's probably almost ready by now. You guys get out of sight or else she might, like, start suspecting something." She turned and sprinted lightly towards the mansion, calling over her shoulder, "I made some sketches in the notebook that you can use as reference."
Evan shook his head in disbelief. "Girl's made a list and sketches of where everything should go? She thinking of becoming a wedding planner in her next life?"
"Don' start givin' her ideas, sugah... she jus' might. An' then Lord help us all."
"So let's see what the Hitler of date-planning's got in mind," Bobby suggested. He reached over and turned the page of the notebook in Remy's hands. Both he and the Cajun were startled back three feet when something jumped up towards them.
"Pop-ups?! Kitty made pop-up plans?!"
They all stared speechlessly at the cutout scene standing perpendicular to the page it rested on.
"Ve should quit now while we can still walk away with our sanity intact." Kurt turned to Bobby. "How many pop-ups are zere?"
Counting quickly, the younger boy answered in a small, fearful voice, "... twelve... plus six backups..."
"Ve are so deader zan dead..."
"There you are, Kitty!" Jean called as she descended the main staircase. It almost looked as if she was floating gracefully over the carpet, and Kitty wondered if she was using her telekinetic powers to help her achieve the effect. "I was just up in your room looking for you. Come on, let's get going."
Kitty blinked. "Now? But it's still early. The mall won't open for another hour."
"Yes, but we still have to factor in the time it'll take us to drive there."
"You mean, all five minutes of it?" the petite brunette inquired dryly.
Jean frowned. "I thought you loved shopping. And on a sale day too. You were just as excited about it as I was a couple of days ago."
"Yeah, but that was, like, after I had food in my stomach."
"Oh, you can eat while we're waiting for the mall to open. That way we don't waste any more time." She took hold of Kitty's hand and began pulling her towards the direction of the garage.
"What the heck am I gonna eat in the parking lot? All the food shops are inside the mall! The same mall that won't be opening for an hour!"
"Details, details," huffed Jean dismissively. She pulled out her keys and hurriedly unlocked her SUV. "We're X-Men. We'll improvise."
Kitty shot her a doubtful look. "Improvise? On my breakfast? It is so, like, scary how Scott is rubbing off on you." She quickly scanned the area around the passenger's seat as her teammate zipped down the drive. "Jean, wait. I don't even have my purse with me. I don't have my wal-- "
"Here," Jean said before she could finish. In her hand was Kitty's bag. "I took the liberty of picking it up from your room when I was looking for you. Save time."
Beside her, Kitty mumbled, "I'm, like, getting the sense that time is a real big issue for you."
"What was that?"
"Nothing!" Frowning, Kitty ran her hands along the sides of her purse. "Why does this feel different?"
"Oh, I also took the liberty of slipping in some things that we'll be needing today."
"Things?" A chocolate-colored eyebrow shot up. "What kind of things?"
"Just this and that... you know, the essentials. A standard shopper's kit."
Kitty unlatched the hook on her bag and looked inside. After a few seconds of disbelief, she slowly pulled out a long black cord. Attached to one end was a shiny metal whistle. "Am I refereeing a hockey game or something?"
Jean glanced at her from the corner of her eye. "Laugh now, but you'll see how handy that thing is when you're tackling a two-hundred-pound woman who just snatched the last purple silk scarf on the shelves, and the store wouldn't be able to restock that particular item for the next six month!"
"I'm, like, sensing a lot hostility from you, Jean..."
"I saw it first!" the redhead shrieked, gripping the steering wheel tightly.
"Okay, okay!" Kitty soothed. She put up her hands in a placating manner. She thought it would be extremely humiliating to be killed in a car crash that had been caused by a square swatch of silk fabric. "I'm sure you were, like, justified and stuff." She continued to dig inside her bag. "Why do we need the duck tape?"
"It's good for sealing potential competition in the fitting rooms. It doesn't cause permanent damage to the store's property, and it's easily removed."
The younger girl could only gawk. "Uh-huh... and the pack of bubble gum?"
"Mild distractions. Gum in the hair... on the bottom of a shoe... They tend to that first, and when they turn back, the item they were looking at is gone."
"I am so, like, going to regret this day... What the -- ?" She pulled out a roll of fine transparent string. "What, may I ask, do we need a fishing line for? Are we going to, like, reel in people's wallets so they can't pay?"
Jean stared at her as if she were crazy. "Of course not, Kitty! Don't be silly! We use the fishing line to trip people along their way." She turned their vehicle into the mall's parking lot, and commented offhandedly, "By the way, the can of Mace is used only as a last resort, so you might want to be careful with that. We wouldn't want to injure anyone, after all."
Hehe! I think I finally found a cute quirk for Jean! (Well, at least I think it's kind of cute.) You wouldn't believe how long I've been trying to find one for her! I'm thinking of turning her into an Obsessive-Compulsive. I mean after all, she is the one with the humongous closet...