PRE-AN: Okay, so the story is technically over, but this just came to me—months after I finish typing the end of the story, of course—and I had to share. I hope this is good, and brings you all joy.


"Jean?" Scott touched her shoulder gently. "I think we need to talk."

Kitty, Tabitha, Rogue, Bobby, the Professor, Ororo, and Hank were all there to back him up. The group stood in the Rec. Room, watching Jean pound away at the pinball machine she'd begged the Professor to add to the ranks of games in the room. She swore that it would be great for everyone to be able to revel in the hand-eye coordination-building game. Unfortunately, in the weeks that followed, Jean refused to let anyone else near the pinball game. This caused the obvious concerns.

DING! PING! BONG! Whizzzzzz!

"What is it, Scott? You're distracting me."

Her boyfriend looked back at the rest of the intervention crew. They nodded encouragement, and Scott went on.

"You see, Jean. We're all worried about you. You haven't been yourself lately. We think...well, we think that you might have a problem."

"Problem?" Jean asked, never letting her eyes off of the shiny metal ball she was sent bouncing around the little maze with jabs of her hands against the buttons on the side of her machine.

"Jean," Professor Xavier said calmly. "Why don't you stop playing for a minute, sit down and talk with us?"

"I can't Professor. I'm almost about to break my high score. I can't go yet—No! NO!" she shouted as the ball slipped passed her paddles and sank into the goal.

"Jean." Scott took her by the shoulders and started to turn her around. "Come on. We all want to talk to you."

Jean fought him. "But I can still win! I can still beat my score! Just let me have one more game, and I'll listen to anything you want."

"Jean!" Kitty went up to the older girl and slapped her. She had seen it in dozens of movies, so it must be helpful. "Snap out of it! You're like addicted to pinball games! You need help!"

"I'm not addicted," Jean scoffed, her hand resting on her cheek where she had been unnecessarily slapped. "How stupid is that? You can't get addicted to pinball. It's just a game. There's no way I'm addicted."

"So why can't you stop playing?" Bobby asked. "You never let anybody else have a turn on it."

"It's my machine! You touch it, you die!" Jean shouted.

"Ah-ha!" Tabitha pointed. "See? Addicted!"

"I am not addicted!" the junkie denied. "I can quit playing any time I want."

"Jean, it's okay," Hank soothed her. "While I've never actually heard of someone becoming addicted to pinball, I assume that it's the same basic compulsion that addicts people to slot games in Las Vegas. Don't worry. We'll get you the best of help."

"I don't need your help!" Jean insisted. "I don't have a problem."

"Jean, I've spoken with the dean at the university," Xavier said. "She informed me that your grades are beginning to slip. You're skipping classes. And for what, Jean? Pinball?"

"It's not that I'm addicted," Jean said. "It's just that... the little ball in there. It's taunting me. It keeps bouncing around, going wherever the paddles push it. Then it gets evil, ya know? And it gets by me. I have to show it who's the boss. I'm the boss, damnit. Me!"

"Jean," Rogue said. "Ya've officially gone off the deep end. Ah'll call Wanda an' ask how the meals are in the loony bin. Ah got a feelin' yo gonna be in there a loooooong while, girl."

"I'm not crazy! I just want to play my pinball in peace!"

"Professor?" Scott asked.

The old man nodded gravely. He had been afraid that this would happen. "I'm sorry, Jean."

Hank and Scott rushed the young telepath, pulling her away from the pinball machine. She struggled and fought when she saw Rogue and Tabitha come forward. Tabby had a handful of bombs, and Rogue had a sledgehammer. No one was sure where she'd gotten the sledgehammer. No one wanted to ask. But together, the two girls trashed the pinball machine, accompanied by the screams of rage and grief emanating from Jean.

When they were done, Jean sagged into the arms of her boyfriend, and he carried her out to the awaiting car. Dr. McCoy then drove the seriously disturbed girl to the nearest mental institution to receive the finest help available. She underwent shock therapy. Books were written about her condition, which Jean—once she was stable again—made sure she got at least 15 of the profits from.

Let this be a warning to all those who love pinball...too much.


POST-AN: I hope you got as many chuckles out of that as I did.