Editor's Note: This was a one-shot piece done for NightScrawlers, specifically for Nacht's "what happened to the Xmen during the August East-Coast-blackout-from-hell of 2003" challenge. Keeping in mind that the mansion would certainly be affected by the outage one way or another, I came up with this little piece of fluff....
Kurt thought to himself that this had to be the most tedious, time consuming task he had ever done. The glitch in the mansion's generator and switching system was being quite wily in its refusal to be found. For the fourth time, Scott, Logan, Ororo, and he stood back, flipped the switch, and for the fourth time nothing happened.
"Goddammit," Scott growled as he dove back into the mess. "Where is it?"
"It can't be much further in," Kurt sighed. "There's not much left to look at. We've got everything else all over the floor."
"That's what you think," Scott muttered.
"Anybody else up for a beer run?" Logan asked casually.
"Me, for one," Ororo intoned. "How about you, Kurt?"
Kurt made a face. "Please, no Miller, Budweiser, or anything like that. It tastes awful."
"What about Becks or Lowenbrau?" Scott asked without turning around.
Kurt shook his head. "I like dark stout."
"Oh, you drink mud, huh?"
He gave a half-smile. "Better than the horse-piss you call 'beer' in the states."
They were all in the generator/battery chamber under the mansion proper, not too far away from the Danger Room and Cerebro. They had been at this for three hours now. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't the hottest day of the year, which meant the threat of a brownout was as imminent as ever. They needed this thing on-line, but when they tested it that day, it stubbornly refused to function. They had power in the batteries, but no way to get at it. Hence their journey to the bowels of the mansion, the disemboweled generator in front of them, the yards of tangled wire, and the four teammates now longlingly thinking of beer and a break.
Scott pulled back again. "All right, once more with feeling. Cross your fingers, everyone."
He flicked the switch, and the room plunged into pitch darkness. The air conditioner wheezed to a halt. Silence.
"Ah... I don't think that was supposed to happen," Kurt's voice noted from somewhere.
Storm's voice trembled a little. "Um, Kurt, I don't suppose I could get you to...."
"No problem, liebling," Kurt said calmly.
They both left the room, a fact known only because of the distinctive sound and odor of Kurt's teleportation. That left Scott and Logan, two men who were oh-such-close buddies, in the darkened, and now very oppressive, room.
"Shouldn't the emergency lights go on or something?" Logan asked.
"They would, if we didn't have to discharge the capacitor before we tore apart the generator," Scott mumbled.
"What about those solar panels we're supposed to have?"
"Look, the whole reason we're doing this is because there's a short somewhere. We've got batteries, but we can't get anything from them right now."
"This wouldn't be happening with a normal battery system...."
"Do you honestly think we could run the mansion with a conventional system? Gimme a second, we've got flashlights stashed in the room somewhere."
Clunk, slide, click. A beam lanced out from Scott's flashlight. He shone the beam up onto the brushed steel ceiling and brought a dim light to the entire room.
"We couldn't have messed up our connection to the main grid with this, right?" Logan asked warily.
"No," Scott answered.
"Which means the power's out all over the county. Great. The last time that happened we got an alien invasion."
"We'd better get upstairs."
The doors slowly, jerkily opened on their own. Logan caught Kurt's scent through the crack. He and Scott gave Kurt some help, each one pulling at a sliding door until there was enough room for one to pass through.
"Would you like a ride up?" Kurt asked. "With the elevators out, it will be a bit of a climb up the ladder."
"Appreciate it, thanks," Logan said.
He touched the shoulders of both men, and a moment later they were in the foyer of the mansion proper. Bobby, Rogue and Ororo were already waiting there. Kurt immediately dropped into a crouch, panting slightly from the exertion of teleporting so much extra mass.
"Whadda we got?" Logan asked.
Rogue held up a portable stereo in one hand. "This hit way beyond Weschester. Ain't no radio stations playin' in the area, and I know the box's workin'. Played a CD on it."
"Kitty's still got few minutes juice for her computer, so she's checking a few things," Bobby added.
"I'll go up there and see what she's found," Scott said. "Sit tight for a few minutes."
"Should we get the Blackbird ready?" Bobby asked after him.
"It'll be hard to open the hangar doors without power," Scott called back. "Go find Colossus, first. We'll need him for that."
"I'll get him," Logan muttered as he moved off.
Rogue set down her radio and hugged Bobby tightly from behind, her arms around his waist. "Mine. All mine."
Bobby laughed. "Hey, what brought that on?"
"If this blackout lasts too long, in this weather I'm gonna be fightin' everyone off you with a stick," she said. "I'm just stakin' my claim now, that's all. You're mine."
Scott came back to the top of the stairs. "Okay, so far no one has much information. This is being felt as far away as Detriot. It looks like at least six states are without power, but it isn't spreading any further. They're taking pains to assure people it isn't terrorism, which is suspicious on its own. I say we get the Blackbird prepped and ready."
"Oh, come on, Scott!" Kurt complained. "You can't be serious!"
"This is exactly the kind of thing someone like Magneto would do as a diversion, mister!"
Kurt stood up and spread his arms. "There's six states without power! Where are we to start looking? What are we looking for?"
"Airspace will be a complete mess without air traffic control," Ororo tacitly agreed. "Do we want to take a chance on making it worse?"
"We'll stay clear of the lanes like we always do. No matter what, we'll be in a better position in the air than waiting on the ground."
"Did you ever think that the power grid could just be overtaxed?" Ororo asked. "This is one of the hotter days on record."
Scoot shook his head as he replied, "Not on your life. At least twenty power stations have gone down, one after the other. Someone deliberately disabled their safeguards to let them all go like that. It's sabotage."
"I bet you it isn't," Kurt chimed, hands across his chest.
"Whoa, hold it, did I hear the word 'bet'?" Logan called as he came back into the foyer with Piotr.
"I was betting our 'fearless leader' that this could be a natural thing instead of an attack," Kurt told him, gesturing up to Scott with one hand.
"What's the bet?"
Kurt's jaw dropped. "Don't tell me you think it's an attack, too!"
"Too convenient for it not to be. Too much damage. What's your bet?"
"Am I the only one who doesn't jump to conclusions?"
Scott quickly ran down the stairs. "Would you two wrap it up? We've got to get the Blackbird up and running! Colossus, armor up and take care of the main doors."
Piotr's face fell, as well as his shoulders, as Scott briskly moved by him. Even for Colossus, opening up that basketball court by hand was hard work. He sighed and trudged after Scott, looking a bit like a child told to clean his room.
"The bet, elf," Logan kept on.
Kurt screwed his face up in a unique expression of distaste and concentration. "All right. Here is the bet. I think this was not a deliberate act of terror. You think it was sabotage. Yes?"
"If we find nothing while in the Blackbird, no aliens, no Brotherhood, no terrorism to fight, then the loser gets a twelve pack of beer -- whatever kind the winner wants -- and they have to take the winner's place helping Scott fix the generator."
Logan grinned and clapped Kurt on the arm. "I like Molsen Golden. Remember that."
He jogged after Scott and Piotr.
"I hate to say this, Kurt, but that's not the safest bet in the world," Ororo told him as they followed Logan. "With our luck, this is a prelude to attack."
He gave her a sly grin, his words whispered too softly for Logan to hear. "In that case, it will be quite a while before I have to help Scott in that verdammt generator room, yes? They may even forget about it by the time it is all over."
"You're positively devious."
Three hours later....
Three hours after Colossus cranked open the hangar doors. Three hours after everyone scrambled in the dark to put the jet through its final checks. Three hours after Kurt and Logan made their bet....
Three hours after all this, on a dark and muggy night, the Blackbird slowly touched down in the hangar again. Once the thrusters were off-line, Bobby, Rogue, Kitty, and Piotr came into the cavernous structure, lit only by starlight and the Blackbird's own running lights.
Kitty couldn't contain her grin. "This is gonna be so much fun...."
"It is not good to take joy in anothers' suffering," Piotr chided sternly.
"Hey, he was the one who insisted on that bet. It's his own damn fault."
"And he ain't gonna be worth a hill of beans for the next few days," Rogue added. "That's just gonna stick in his craw."
"Which one? Scott or Logan?" snickered Kitty.
The ramp came down, the light from the jet's interior harsh and bright. Kurt's form was temporarily silhouetted against the whiteness as he quickly stepped down the steps, whistling merrily, his tail happilly dancing about. As he walked away from the light, his high spirits became even more obvious. When he saw the four younger students watching from the doorway, he stopped whistling and broke into a broad grin. Then he turned back and cupped a hand to his mouth.
"My! What a pleasant flight!" he called loudly. "Such a pretty countryside without all those annoying lights in the way!"
"Yer askin' for it, elf," Logan's voice snarled from within the jet.
The two girls started to titter. The boys bit their lips.
"What?" Kurt responded with great innocense. "I was merely saying how enjoyable it was!"
Scott came down the ramp next, muttering, "I still think we should refuel for another pass."
"Oh, such a shame we can't use the pumps without electricity," Kurt sighed, theatrically snapping his fingers. "I guess we're here for the time being."
Ororo came down next. Now that the students were growing used to the light source, they could see the restrained amusement on her face. "Well, if you really feel that we're under danger of attack, I can go out for a flight myself."
Kurt shrugged. "And I could go out and patrol the grounds."
"Stopping by the barbecue and the pool on the way, right?" Rogue asked sweetly.
Kurt put a hand to his chest. "Why, is that an invitation?"
Logan stomped down the Blackbird's ramp. "If you don't stop with the sugar, I'm gonna turn diabetic," he growled.
The ramp retracted and all the Blackbird's lights winked out. They were in the dark once more. Kitty tittered again. Rogue elbowed her in the ribs, giggling "stop it", but it didn't do much good.
"All right, can someone tell me what's so damn funny?" Scott asked, straining to see in the gloom.
"Would you like a lift, Kurt?" Ororo asked, a bit louder than necessary.
"Why, yes, that would be wonderful," Kurt answered, his speech just as obnoxiously loud and over-enunciated as it had been when he first stepped off the jet.
"Oh, no you don't, buddy," Cyclops warned, pointing at Kurt. "We've got a generator to fix."
Ororo rose into the air with a rush of wind, Kurt rising along beside her.
"I think you need to take that up with Logan," she said.
"Remember, Logan!" Kurt called as they cleared the hangar roof. "Dark stout!"
In return, Logan mumbled something less than printable.
Scott whirled on him. "All right, mister, spill it."
"Logan, you had three hours up there, and you didn't tell him about the bet?" Kitty asked.
Scott crossed his arms, the red inside his visor glowing just a bit brighter for a moment. "Bet?"
Much later, down in the claustrophobic, echoing, stuffy, sweltering generator room....
"Jesus, Scott, what time is it?" Logan asked.
Scott glanced at his watch before returning to work. "Past midnight."
"Just how much is left for us to tear apart?"
"Enough to keep us here all night."
"By the time we get this thing up and running, the power'll be back on."
Scott finished his adjustments and stood back, as did Logan. "One more shot," he muttered, flipping the switch.
The only result was a resounding click. Scott leaned his head against the wall.
"I hate my life," he mumbled.
Logan added, "I hate your life, too."