All Foam, No Beer



All Foam, No Beer
by Troll Princess




{{Bennitville, Pennsylvania}}

"Y'could 'ave been prevented for a quarter."

Mick Walton reached up to the old mental chalkboard and scribbled down that particular phrase, right between the "Things Not to Do in a Communal Shower" and "Phrases That Can Get You Arrested for Sexual Harassment" columns. The middle column was for "Things Not to Say to the American Judge Trying You for ... Well, For Anything, Come to Think of It."

It was a short list, really, but one he'd spent his whole life perfecting. For example, it currently contained, "Save yer breat', you'll need it t' blow up yer date," "Hey! Quit hoggin' all the ugly!," and "May the curse o' Mary Malone and 'er nine blind illegitimate children chase y' so far o'er the hills o' Damnation t'at the Lord 'imself can't find y' wit' a telescope." That last one was a wee bit long in the tooth, but it was a favorite of Mick's Irish grandmother, and usually provided a mental image that left him laughing all the way to the jail cell.

Ah, yes. Ye olde jail cell.

This one was a bit better than most he'd seen, but then again, this was a small town and they hadn't gotten around to bringing in some rats, a few drug dealers, and that industrial cleaner/piss smell he'd gotten so used to in those fancy city cells.

Not that he cared. He'd give this one another half-hour, and then he was splitting this popsicle stand. And this time, no piss breaks. This last one had gotten him arrested for disturbing the peace.

For the time being, he focused on the envelope in his hands.

If this were a normal story, or your everyday movie, or even a cheesy TV show, there would have been a name on that envelope. Or an address. Or the phone number of an extremely attractive, tall, dark, and sexy woman with a throaty voice and a fixation on tall, rather scrawny, red-haired Brits with accents no one could ever seem to place.

But it's not. (A normal story, your everyday movie, or a cheesy TV show, that is.)

And there wasn't anything inside it, either. So don't get any funny ideas about pictures of naked people, mircrofilm, secret documents, wills, or the meaning of life written on a lettuce leaf, because none of those were in there.

Nope, it was just a blank, empty envelope.

That was the problem.

Mick had met a man.

Okay, look, stop it with the dirty thoughts, all right? They didn't become romantically involved or anything. Mick was straight. Extremely straight. Practically level, vertically. (Although Bruce Willis might have been worth a shag, but try getting Mick to admit that.)

No, the particular man he'd met had been about four or five years older, shot laser beams out of his eyes, and wouldn't relax if Yasmine Bleeth herself were giving him a back massage naked. (Her, not him.)

And he went by the name of Scott Summers.

The last time Mick had seen good old Scotty, he'd been dressed up like Dr. Frank during a midnight showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at his university. Scotty, not Mick. As far as Mick knew, he was still owed back blackmail payments for not telling anyone about that.

That wasn't what the envelope was for, by the way.

Mick frowned as a cockroach skittered across the floor.

Maybe he should go home.

Oh, wait. No, he couldn't. What with two mutant parents and seven kids, six of whom were mutants and one of whom who was absolutely positive she'd be getting her powers any minute now, the Walton household was better off without him around. Not because anyone had told him so, or because he himself thought so, but because last time he'd been there, he'd blown up the toilet. Not a powers thing, more like a Dad-had-the-bathroom-first-and-hadn't-remembered-to-jiggle-the-handle thing.

Mick groaned and dragged his fingers through his hair. What sort of a nutter left a house full of mutants and headed off to yet another house full of mutants? It was bleeding ridiculous, is what it was. He must be out of his gourd. It was like a lifeguard going on vacation to the beach, or a postal worker taking a trip to a gun show.

But it wasn't his sanity that was bothering him. Mick knew he was really and honestly nuts. Certifiable, as it were. Even had the fancy paperwork to prove it. "Michael Huntly Walton, absolutely frogging looney," it said. In gold letters, even.

What was bothering him was what he was going to say to Scotty when he showed up on his doorstep.

Oh, hell, there'd be time to worry about that later.

Mick glanced over at the chief and the two cops sitting on the other side of the room, obsessing over an old episode of "The Match Game," as it were. They'd been nice enough guys when they'd arrested him. The chief even gave him a Slim Jim, which he'd never actually eaten before. It tasted like slimy pepperoni and looked like a frozen earthworm with mumps, two reasons why Mick was never going to be eating that again.

He really hated to do this to them. Then again, he really hated cockroaches and steel toilets.

So, freedom it was.

He stared over at them and concentrated, though this power didn't exactly need a lot of preparation. Sure enough, it was only a second or two before Mick's eyes flashed an iridescent green in the darkness of the cell, and his job was done.

The cops were frozen.

Well, not frozen frozen. Mick's ice-making skills were restricted specifically to putting those little trays full of water in the icebox. The skill in question was more like what happened to all those old people in "Awakenings." Mick concentrated, humans froze in place, and when they woke up, they remembered nothing. Sort of like his high school history class.

Of course, the rest of the world did go on around them, and mutants were a royal pain in the arse 'cause they wouldn't take, but humans, animals, aliens and the like went like department store mannequins for a good hundred yards in every direction. At least for a little while, anyway.

Now, to get out of the cell.

Mick folded the envelope and stuffed it in his pocket. Then, getting to his feet, he walked up to the bars and crossed his arms. He had several options open to him. Bomb. Chain attached to a Mack truck. Flying out of a hole in the ceiling like a normal mutant.

But, no. He had to go and lift the bars right off.

Well, it wasn't like he had a bloody choice. After all, the bastards had his knapsack hidden somewhere around here, and he wasn't going to leave a perfectly good box of Jujubes and his sister Tess's Puffkin owl in some cheesed-off hoosecow in the middle of nowhere. Not that he couldn't buy another box of Jujubes, but damn it, that owl was discontinued.

Just then, the door to the bathroom slammed open, and a fairly young, weaselly-looking cop stumbled out. Obviously, he'd heard the commotion when Mick had ripped the bars off. Well, hell, Mick'd replace the flippin' door, if it'd help him at all.

"What the hell is going on in here?" the cop shouted.

Suddenly, two things hit Mick at once. One was that this was the enormous git that had had the bollocks to rough him up a bit putting the cuffs on him knowing full well what he was when they arrested him. The second was that the aforementioned enormous git was still moving. Therefore, official mutant boy.

Mick smiled as he located his knapsack stuffed in a closet and said over his shoulder, "Hey! I remember you! Y' called me a little mutie bastard. Bloody 'ell, are you in denial."

The cop frowned, but finally noticed the condition of the other cops, and his jaw dropped like a ton of bricks. "Bob?" he asked, stunned. The cop walked over to the chief and waved a hand in front of the chief's eyes. "Bob" continued to sit there, grinning like an idiot, with a mouthful of half-chewed pork rinds for all the world to see.

The cop looked back over at Mick and said, as threateningly as someone whose voice had probably changed last week could, "What did you do to them?"

Mick ignored him and kept ranting. "I 'aven't been called a mutie anythin' in t'ree months. T'ree months! I was hittin' a personal record t'ere, and t'en I had t' go and end up 'ere."

The cop stared at Mick in confusion, and Mick rolled his eyes. He wasn't all that surprised. Americans tended to hear him talk and not understand a bleedin' word he said. Why should this guy be any different?

Mick shifted his knapsack up onto his shoulder and waved absently at the cop's arms. "Y've got Lite Bright 'ands," he said absently as he went to walk past the cop. The guy didn't even bother stopping him, too busy staring at his own glowing blue hands to watch Mick go.

Wait'll that showed up on the surveillance cameras. The bugger'd be flipping burgers for sure.

Good.




{{Westchester, New York, Charles Xavier's school}}

With some people, it was the pet cat. For others, it was the dog. For Sam Guthrie, it was his baby sister.

Paige shed. Her skin, that is. That was her mutant power. She'd just reach up under her hair and yank a good one, and her skin would come right off like a body stocking. And underneath she'd be made out of aluminum or diamond or grits or something.

At first, when she'd first admitted what she could do, it had been just plain disgusting. Now, it was annoying. Old Paige lying in the garbage can. Old Paige on the kitchen floor. Old Paige hanging up in the outhouse. You try not freaking out when that pops out of the darkness.

And now she was in his mail.

Sam tugged the old Paige skin out of the envelope with his name on it and thought briefly about how he'd explain it to the friends surrounding him in the TV room. A note was attached to it -- "Here's a little piece of home to remember us by, Sam! Love, Paige."

Great. Why couldn't she have just sent him a chicken?

"Hayseed?"

He glanced over at Jubilee, who was staring at the thing in his hands. "Yeah?"

"What is that supposed to be?"

Well, no time like the present and nothing like the truth. "Mah sister's skin," he said with a sigh.

Jubilee looked confused for a minute before her eyes went wide. "So that's what happens when cousins marry!"

Sam would have reached over and punched her one in the arm, but Kitty frowned and did it for him.

"Ow!"

Sam smiled. "Thanks, Kitty."

Kitty shrugged. "Not a problem."

Jubilee flashed Kitty a dirty look as she rubbed at her arm before diving back into her English lit report. It being so close to midterms and all, everybody had a ton of studying to do. If it wasn't Mr. Summers and his ten-page book reports, it was Miss Munroe and her thirty-page fill-in-the-blank nightmares.

Which led to those ever-popular study sessions in the TV room.

Sam and Kitty had taken a break from working on their trigonometry assignment to read their mail, while Jubilee was still pushing to finish "Pride and Prejudice." (Or, at the very least, make it look like she had.) Meanwhile, John, Peter and Rogue were cramming hard for the history midterm. They were all figuring on lasting another twenty minutes or so before their brains imploded.

Kitty stuffed her letter from her parents into the back of her trig textbook and skimmed over her homework. "Hey, John, did you finish your trig homework yet? I want to check my answers against yours."

John's right eyelid twitched briefly before he said, "Uh, yeah, sure."

"No, you didn't."

"Yes, I did."

"You're lying."

"Am not."

Kitty sighed. "I can always tell when you're lying."

"Oh, yeah? How?"

"'Cause your eyelid does that twitching thing."

St. John frowned. "It does not!"

What followed was a seismic event of Biblical proportions located solely in the region of St. John's right eyelid. Kitty's only frame of comparison was that spastic teacher on "Daria."

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. It was like someone shooting off the gun to start the short-distance running events at the Olympics. There followed a general stampede in the direction of the front door, consisting of Kitty, Jubilee, Rogue, John, Peter, and Sam, who in his haste hadn't gotten to put Paige's skin away and now looked like an extremely effeminate Leatherface.

"Doorbell!"

"I'll get it!"

"Me first!"

"Oh, yeah? Says who?"

"Ow! Ah'm going to need those toes, y'know!"

Someone -- it was anyone's guess who had managed it -- got the door open, finally.

A young man stood in the doorway. His clothes were a mess, he had a bad case of convertible-with-the-top-down hair, and if his skin were covered with any more freckles, he would have made for a really cool connect the dots game. Everybody stared at him for the longest time before he said, "'Ello."

Kitty and Rogue exchanged a glance. The guy looked like a Backstreet Boy. His problem lie mainly in the fact that he looked like a Backstreet Boy who'd been kicked out of the band before they all got famous and had spent all of his time and energy since living off Guinness-Robitussin cocktails and salted peanuts while perfecting his Area 51 game in the local pub.

Then again, Jubilee didn't seem to think so. She was already hyperventilating. "Ohmigodhe'sadorable," she whispered in Kitty's direction.

Kitty rolled her eyes. Great. Jubes was in love. She tended to forget to breathe between words around guys she liked.

The guy slipped his knapsack off his shoulder and asked, "Y'aven't seen a bugger who looks like a white Geordi LaForge in t'ese parts, 'ave y'?"

"Mick!"

All eyes turned to Scott Summers, who was standing in the hallway behind them. He looked as if he had seen his own mother naked. Or Magneto. Either way, he couldn't possibly have appeared anything other than severely traumatized.

Mick smiled and was all ready to "'ello" the guy to death when Scott turned right around and ducked into the nearest hallway. Mick looked around at the kids surrounding him, who shrugged, then shook their heads as a steady thump came from the hallway.

Mick's smile widened. Ten seconds, and Scotty was already banging his head against a wall. He'd beaten his old personal record, if he wasn't mistaken. This was a cause for celebration if there ever was one.

And, let's face it. There always was.




Okay.

Um ...

Hmmm.

Mick looked around at the other people in the office and wondered exactly how many times you had to get dropped on your head as a baby to act like this. 'Cause he'd been dropped at least three times that he knew of and he wasn't likin' the look of his future if this was it.

They were all staring at him, waiting for a response. Scotty, his lady, and the bald one, all staring him down as if they were the police and he were the postal worker.

Mick frowned. It was sunny outside. The shades were up. The bald one was giving off a glare. Maybe that was part of the interrogation.

He ignored it and said slowly, "So, lemme get t'is straight. You nutters go out in public in black leat'er and call yerselves the Ex-Men like a gang o' bleedin' transsexuals, and t'ere are people out t'ere who willin'ly give you t'eir children?"

All of a sudden, Scott got a mental image of Logan dressed up like a dominatrix and promptly decided to wash his brain out with soap. Groaning, he shook his head. "Shut up, Mick."

"No, seriously --"

"Would you just drink your water?"

Mick stared at the glass in his hand and shrugged. "Right, t'en," he said, downing the whole thing in one gulp.

Scott waited for the other shoe to drop. All Mick wanted was a bed? Yeah, right.

Nothing.

Well ... "You're not joining, if that's what you think."

Mick was almost offended. Didn't Scott know him better then that? "Why would I want t' join? I don't fancy wearin' vinyl, and I ain't startin' now. I'm jus' lookin' for a bed, I am."

The bald one offered up a smile. "You can sleep in the boys's dorm," he said.

"For now," Scott added.

Mick grinned. Well, that was easy. After the last time he'd stayed with Scott, Mick had expected some heavy negotiating on his part. Maybe some money exchanging hands, or the pre-ordering of some firstborn children. But hey, watch him argue.

Mick plopped his glass down on the table next to his chair. Then, getting to his feet, he strode over to Scotty and forcibly shook his hand. It was like trying to dance with a mannequin. "Scotty, yer such a good friend. If we were on a sinkin' ship and t'ere was only one life jacket, I'd miss y' heaps and t'ink of y' often."

Mick was halfway out the door before he heard Scott yell, "Hey!"




It wasn't until after the door closed that Scott let loose.

And no, he didn't start partying or anything like that. Scott didn't party. Scott did a very light form of brooding that involved spiked punch and awkward dancing.

But that was when there was a party. Which there wasn't. There was an awkward silence, and then there was a general chicken-with-its-head-cut-off reaction out of Scott, who raced to the door and practically flung himself across it. He eyed Charles with the calm, steady demeanor of a serial killer.

"Why did you do that?" he said slowly and deliberately.

Charles frowned. "Why did I do what?"

"Let him stay."

"He's your friend, Scott. I'm being hospitable."

"But in the boys's room?"

Jean and the Professor exchanged a worried look before he said, "Scott, the rest of the rooms are in the middle of being repainted. It's either the boys's room, or your room."

Scott opened his mouth to protest, then shut it again, then said, "You do realize he's never leaving now."

The Professor and Jean exchanged another look before Charles asked, "I do?"

"He's the houseguest from hell, Professor."

"I find that a bit hard to believe, Scott."

Charles couldn't be sure, what with the ruby quartz glasses and all, but he could have sworn Scott rolled his eyes at that. "The last time I let him stay with me when I was still in college, I lost my gerbil."

Jean frowned. "What's that got to do with Mick?"

"I found it in my roommate."

If there was ever such a thing as a mental upchuck, Scott was fairly sure he heard two of them at that particular moment. Ha. Served them right for asking.




"Ah don't like him."

It was as if Rogue had spit on the entrance to Hot Topics in the Westchester Mall. Rogue had never seen Jubilee look so shocked. (Well, unless you counted when Monica and Chandler slept together the first time on "Friends." Jubilee hadn't been able to close her jaw completely for a week, or so the rumor went. Then again, Rogue hadn't seen that, so it didn't count.)

"Why not? He's cute."

"He smells like gasoline."

Jubilee squirmed under Rogue's accusing gaze and said with a shrug, "So? He can shower."

"No, he can't. We took the instructions off the soap."

Jubilee shook her head as the two walked down the stairs and headed towards the TV room. And promptly froze at the sight of Kitty and Mick sitting next to one another on the couch, talking like old friends.

Rogue wouldn't have been surprised if Jubilee had growled like Logan.

"What's Kitty doing sitting with him?"

Rogue ignored Jubilee's venemous expression and plopped down on the couch next to Kitty. Jubilee, meanwhile, tried to find a nonchalant way of sitting next to Mick.

Mick didn't bother noticing, still engrossed in his conversation with Kitty. "Healin' ability? T'at's 'is mutant ability?"

"Uh-huh."

Mick's green eyes narrowed. "T'at's the stupidest mutant ability I've e'er 'eard of!"

Kitty pointed to a dark-haired kid across the room who was flipping through a Douglas Adams book. "Danny Gorel can eat glass," she said simply.

Mick frowned. Well, she had him there. "But still ... I mean, 'Beware me wrath! I am the Amazin' Band-Aid Man! I warn you not t' defy me!' Doesn't quite 'ave a heroic ring to it, now, does it?"

"Well, he's got these nails ..."

"And what do t'ey do?"

The girls looked at each other and shook their heads. This was going to take a while.




"Why are we doing this again?"

"You were on the basketball team, Bobby. Didn't you have initiation in your school?"

"Yeah, but I just had to wrap myself up in toilet paper and sing to a MacDonald's full of nuns."

John paused in what he was doing and glanced over at Bobby. "Where did you find a MacDonald's full of nuns?"

"And I don't seem to remember getting initiated when I showed up here," Bobby said, ignoring him.

"Bobby, you were the first one here. Who was going to initiate you? Mr. Summers? Yeah, I can see it now. Mr. Summers creeping in here in the middle of the night with whipped cream, duct tape, and an aardvark ..."

Bobby just stared as John stuck a videotape of "This is Spinal Tap" to the wall. Please. As if Mr. Summers would even know where to get an aardvark ...




Krazy Glue.

Everything he owned was covered in it.

Which he supposed wouldn't have been so bad if some of it were actually touching the floor.

Mick scowled and looked down at the bureau next to his bed. Well, at least he'd remembered to hide his underwear. Hey, he'd gone to a private school. Ten years at Sir Walter's School for Wayward Boys had taught him that anywhere he went where teenage boys resided, first things first, hide his underwear. And his Playboys.

Mick heard a flapping sound over by the open window and glanced over, then sighed deeply. So, they'd found the Playboys, had they? What kind of a sick, twisted teenage boy ruined a perfectly good Playboy like that? That was a sure sign of lunacy, that was.

Well ... he was going to have to take his stuff off the walls sometime. With a loud groan -- he wasn't exactly looking forward to this -- Mick spun on his heels and headed down the hall to the girls's room.




"Excuse me, gels, but do any o' y'got any nail polish remover?"

At the sound of the distinctive accent coming from the doorway, Jubilee tripped, which wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the fact that she was sitting on Kitty's bed with Kitty and Rogue at the time. This made for what Kitty liked to call, "the most embarassing moment of Jubilee's natural-born life."

Jubilee leapt back to her feet and raced over to her desk, then raced back and handed him the first bottle of nail polish remover she could find.

"Surehereitis."

Mick nodded and checked the contents, then handed it back with an apologetic smile. "I need the kind wit' the acetone in it."

"OhI'vegotthat,too,justholdon." Jubilee bounded over to her desk again, and was back with another bottle before

Kitty shook her head and leaned across her bed to whisper to Rogue, "How does she talk like that without exhaling?"

Rogue shrugged. "Carefully, Ah guess."




This was not good.

It was funny, really, how many times Bobby walked into a room in this joint and was confronted with the thought, "This is not good."

He glanced over at John, who wasn't looking at him. He was looking up. Which wasn't surprising, since that was where everything they owned was. Including their goldfish, swimming around frantically in their Krazy-glued bowl as if to shout, "I can see my house from here!" Which they couldn't, but still.

Maaaan ... at least they'd been nice enough to put Mick's stuff on the walls. No climbing involved.

At the sight of his favorite Babylon Five T-shirt Krazy glued to the ceiling right above his bed, St. John looked over at Bobby and said the four words that Bobby knew meant, in St. John's teenage dialect, war. And lots of it.

"Where is his underwear?"




"So, are you gonna bite off his head or what?"

Jean looked across the kitchen table at Logan, then down at the chocolate bunny left over from last Easter that was lying in front of her. She just wasn't in the mood to commit an act of decapitation on a poor, defenseless piece of confectionary today. And since there was only one way to eat any chocolate item in the shape of an animal, Jean scowled and pushed the bunny towards Logan.

Logan grinned and chomped happily on the chocolate. Scott was the one who'd suggested chocolate when it came to dealing with the problems of the last three days. Logan had suggested a slow, painful torture session featuring whips, chains, hot pokers, needles under fingernails, an extremely rusty Iron Maiden, and Jean's tuna casserole surprise.

So. Chocolate, it was.

Truth was, if anyone in the kitchen that morning had been able to form a coherent thought -- and almost all of them couldn't have done it without a six-pack of Play-Doh and the help of a registered nurse -- they might have thought, "Gaaaah."

Oh, they'd showered. And they'd dressed. Oh, that wasn't saying that their clothes matched or anything. The teachers had all gotten just this side of "not naked" and had promptly quit.

Let's examine the scene, shall we?

You've got Storm with her head in the freezer, Logan in yellow spandex, the Professor wearing a bright pink Halloween fright wig and a pair of iridescent green sunglasses, Jean setting up a Mousetrap game, and Scott cooing softly and lovingly fondling the coffeemaker.

Um . . . you know what? Let's not examine the scene and say we did.

Okay, so they were all having their little problems. So the entire place had turned into a Monty Python skit practically overnight. So all of the teachers had gone out of their minds.

Yeah.

So.

Logan glanced around at the other people at the kitchen table and remembered how tough he'd used to think these guys were. Of course, they'd been going up against Magnet Man, Kitten Boy, Smurfette the Unholy, and Kermit the Frog's evil twin. But still.

He, personally, was fine. Just peachy freaking keen. Ignore the fact that Mick had torched his entire wardrobe -- supposedly, it was an accident, but with Mick, you just couldn't be sure -- leaving him only the gag-gift yellow spandex costume that Jeannie had gotten him last Christmas, and Logan was feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. (Really. He was starting to feel like he'd swallowed a rabbit whole. Of course, he was anticipating carnage. It sounded like fun.)

As for the others . . . well, they were certifiable. Wimps.

Logan took a swig of hot coffee and ruffled his too-straight hair with his free hand. Logan's hair was finally starting to lose the perm that Mick and Jubilee had put in it in the middle of the night, although Jean's hair straightener was working wonders on it in the mornings. Not that the perm looked all that bad, but Logan was a firm believer in the rule that the only reason anyone should have an afro was if they were in a Motown band with their five brothers.

He was, however, starting to like the yellow spandex. That was bad. Very bad.

Jean, meanwhile, had retreated into a childlike state. From the looks of things, Logan was pretty sure it was Utah.

Jean put the finishing touches on the Mousetrap game, then squealed with delight before saying, "So, Scott, how long have you known this guy, anyway? You never mentioned him to me."

Scott stopped hitting on the coffeemaker and, with a whimper of protest, sat down at the kitchen table next to Jean. "I never mention Mick to anybody. I was kind of hoping he was a pot-induced delusion."

The other stared at him as if he'd grown an extra leg.

It was the Professor who said it. "You smoked pot, Scott?"

"No, but I had a creative writing teacher who smelled way too ... herby."

"And he went to school with you?" Jean asked.

"Well, yeah. I mean, he did teach there."

"I meant Mick."

"So did I."

Logan clutched his mug tighter in his hands. Something told him he was going to need coffee nearby for this conversation. "Why do I have a hard time picturin' that?"

"It was only a basket-weaving class. It wasn't like he had a teaching degree or anything. It was just an elective." Everyone was still staring at him, even Storm, whose head was still lying in the freezer. "And he was a graduate student ... sort of ..."

"You're kidding," Jean said.

"Can you see him teaching anything else?"

"No, I meant, you took a basket-weaving class?"

"What? It was either that or Sanskrit."

Logan shook his head and eyed the coffeemaker, wondering briefly if Scott would go nuts if he went for another cup of the stuff. "I'm not even gonna bother askin' what college you went to, One-Eye."

"It was a good school!"

"With a basket-weaving class."

Scott shrugged. "We had a football team."

Logan just shook his head and said, "How did a guy like you manage to make friends with a guy like that?"

"My last year in the dorms, he shared a room with me. We used to have a lot of laughs. You know, keg parties, going out drinking together ..." Scott squirmed under Jean's intense gaze. He couldn't help it, really. The following Mick part, that is. To be honest, Scott would follow Mick anywhere, but only within reason and mostly out of morbid curiosity. "You know how it is, hon. Every once in a while, I like a good old brewski."

Jean rolled her eyes. "Oh, please, Scott. You slur your words after too many Pixie Sticks."

Logan let loose with a low growl. Obviously, there was no talking sense into the Boy Scout. Next up to bat -- the Professor. "So, Wheels, yer lettin' him stay?"

The Professor shrugged, his wig shifting dangerously to the left with the action. He kept telling them it helped reduce stress. Personally, Logan was starting to wonder if Mick hadn't put that temporary tattoo of Betty Boop on the Professor's forehead with pretty colored LSD. "Why not? He's harmless." Off Storm's glare, he gave a squirm reminiscent of the best Scott had to offer and mumbled, "Sort of."

"Is he going to be all right by himself here while we go replace the mirror in the hall?" Logan asked.

"And buy five more coffeemakers," Scott added.

"And buy more ice," Storm tossed into the mix, trying to breathe as deeply as possible to get away that horrible wasabi burn she'd gotten last night after Mick had "spiced up" her vegetarian egg roll.

"I don't see why not," Scott said with a shrug.

The others looked at him as if he'd Krazy glued a live ferret to his forehead.

"The boys hate him," Jean said.

"The girls won't leave him alone," Storm added.

"He's wearin' a pair of underwear on his head."

At Logan's remark, all eyes turned to the kitchen window, which overlooked the backyard.

Scott had been nice enough to buy Mick underwear to replace the ones Bobby and St. John had glued shut after their stuff had been glued to the ceiling. It was the same trip on which Mick had bought the boys a couple of packages of UnderRoos. Leonardo DiCaprio UnderRoos. God only knows where he'd found them, but Bobby and St. John had absolutely refused to let their rear ends anywhere near Leonardo (although sitting on the real Leonardo's face so he couldn't breathe was not out of the question).

And since the boys weren't using them, Mick had taken to wearing them on his head. Scott was half tempted to ask him for a pair, if only to remind him of that Kelly LeBrock fantasy he'd had in the mid-80s.

Scott shook his head. Mick wasn't making this very easy. Then again, he never made things very easy.

With a grin, he glanced across the table and said, "You could always stay behind and babysit the kids, Logan."

Logan didn't quite know how to respond to that. He quickly went over the usual options -- kill, maim, torture, beat up, antagonize, drink beer with, growl at, and bombard with lame come-on lines -- and noticed with a wistful sigh that "scream like a girl and run for the hills" was not on the list.

"Are we ready to leave?" Scott asked, looking around the table.

Jean opened her mouth to protest that the only things they were ready for were meds (and lots of them), but Scott chose that moment to stand up, whacking the Mousetrap game and setting it off. Jean groaned. "Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear," Jean muttered.

Scott grunted and said, "Logan, do you think you can try to make it through the day without beating the ever-loving crap out of someone?"

Logan tried not to look disappointed and failed miserably.




After three days at Xavier's school, Mick had established the following:

Scott made girly noises when you gave him a rattlesnake bite. Jean muttered into her shoulder when she was really annoyed. And Ororo hated it when you told her she was aces in "BAPS."

Aside from that, there was no alcohol to be had.

Mick was almost tempted to go drinking with Scotty and the rest of the teachers, but after seeing their costumes, he was afraid the sots would want him to get a bit tarted up before they left, and he refused to do that unless there was money involved. Or women. Or Jujubes, but that was a memory he'd rather not dwell on.

However, he did feel an urge for something to whet his thirst that didn't come in a sport drink bottle.

Now, here was the thing. Mick's brain fell into two categories, Comfortably Sober and Unpleasantly Pissed. It was times like this that Mick despised, the times when he told his brain over and and over again that just because he was invulnerable did not keep him from feeling like the night after a Manchester United win if he got pissed. He did have a bloodstream, after all, which on a good day had more blood in it than whiskey.

Those trying times, however, were usually promptly followed by the instances when his brain flipped him the bird and headed off to the nearest pub. And what with their being firmly attached at the spine and all, Mick had to tag along. He had no choice in the matter, really.

And it being Saturday night and all ... well, off to the pub, it was.




It was midnight, which meant that all students were supposed to be in bed. And technically, Jubilee was in bed. The fact that she was in bed with a portable TV, laptop, CD player, cellular phone, and nail care kit did not negate the fact that she was technically following the rules, an occurrence that hadn't been seen since the Great Post-Thanksgiving Dishwashing of 1999.

The others, meanwhile, were trying to remember, past Jubes's blaring music in her headphones, that this was their friend and they loved her. Even if, later on that night, at about three in the morning, they were probably going to have to shave her head. It was only fair, really.

A shadow of a person raced across the ceiling, and Jubilee peeked out the window curiously. Instantly, she was on her feet. "Hey, Mick's sneakin' out!"

She bounded over Kitty's bed like a kangaroo and peeked out the window, watching Mick stroll down the driveway. "Where's he goin'?" she whispered to the others, before leaping in the general direction of her dresser and rummaging through it like a madwoman.

"Maybe he's sleepwalking," a voice said from the depths of Rogue's pillow.

"At least someone's still asleep," Kitty added.

Jubilee quickly slipped out of her nightgown and into a black baby tee before grabbing her favorite pair of leather pants. "Wanna follow him?"

"No," they both said.

Jubilee shook her head and sat on the edge of her bed to pull on her red leather pants. Unfortunately, she slipped and slammed her butt into the floor with a loud thump.

Both Kitty and Rogue groaned loudly and stuffed their extra pillows over their ears. Everybody in school knew that Jubilee used to be a big-time gymnastics nut, and she could still do all the flips and stuff. But late in the middle of the night, when no one else was around, Jubilee constantly proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that with the onslaught of puberty had come the grace and agility of a crosstown bus.

Shooting up and over to the makeup table before her roommates could say anything else in protest, Jubilee rumpled her hair until it straddled the line between finely styled and bed hair. "Fine," she said, "you two just stay here and sleep."

"Ah like that plan."

"Me, too."

Jubilee scowled. Well, she couldn't very well chase Mick alone. She'd get in trouble. And while trouble was kind of fun, it was also kind of a group sport. "If the Professor finds out you two just let me walk out of here all alone, you'll get grounded."

"Goodie," Kitty said. "More time to sleep."

Damn. Take two. "Rogue, what's Logan going to say if you let me follow Mick?"

Rogue rolled over on her pillow just enough to mumble, "'Y'all get the duct tape and the X-Acto knife. Ah'll get those black leather boots she's so sweet on.'"

Jubilee's scowl deepened. This wasn't working. And there was no way she was getting in trouble alone. The last time she'd gotten detention alone, she'd ended up doing Mr. Summers's laundry. Including his underwear. There was a definite "eeeeeeewwwwwww" factor there.

Her gaze locked on a couple of things sitting on a nearby desk, and she couldn't resist a smile as she snatched them up in her grubby little paws.

With all of the courage she could muster, Jubilee cleared her throat loudly and stated, "I'm holding a DVD of 'Sense and Sensibility' and somebody's old, ratty yellow Popple."

And then she made a run for it.

There. That should work.




"Scott?"

Scott groaned. It had taken him an hour to get to sleep, most of which had been spent trying to figure out how to get liquid lollipop out of suede. Jean was going to kill him if he found out Jubilee had ruined her favorite jacket --

Scott's brain, as smart as it was, shut down for a second. A strange, unearthly voice in his head, sounding much like the guy who narrated those informative Goofy cartoons, said, "What are you doing, you idiot? You're lying in bed next to a telepath! Did we have a brain tumor for breakfast?"

Damn his brain. He wondered briefly if he would have any problems if he got it removed. Seemed to be working for Logan.

With a groan, Scott squirmed closer to his fiancee and mentally asked, "Yes, Jean?"

"Mick's going out to find a bar."

So? "Shouldn't be hard. It's one of his mutant powers. Beer-dar."

A sigh echoed through the room. "The girls are following him."

They are?"

"Yup."

There was a long pause before Scott said aloud, "I wonder how he does that. Think he's got some kind of adolescent girl whistle or something?"

Scott!"

Another sigh was heard, this time from the other side of the bed. "Right. Getting up, getting up."




'S funny how they don't make signs on the roads that say, "Only five miles until BEER."

Of course, maybe Mick was the only one who could have used one.

All right, so behind him, he had the mansion. And ahead of him, somewhere in this great big wide world, was alcohol, and lots of it. If only he had beer-dar, that might help ...

Mick wasn't particularly sure how far he was going to have to walk down this road to get to beer, but however long it took, that was how long he would walk. But first, he'd have to wait for the girls to catch up.

Oh, he knew they were back there, somewhere trying to hide in the brush beside the woods. He wasn't telepathic, or psychic, or anything of that lot. He just wasn't stupid.

Or, for that matter, deaf.

"Jubilation Edith Lee! You bring back my Popple right now!"

"Her middle name is Edith?!"

"Just shut up and chase, Rogue!"

"You'll never take me alive, coppers!

"That's the plan, you annoying little punk!"

Mick shook his head and glanced back at the mansion. If this was the sort of superheroing they were teaching at that school, they were going to have a lot of explaining to do to the general population. Especially where Jubilee was concerned. Mick had seen ferrets on heroin with less energy.

The trio crashed through the bushes like a klutzy elephant, falling with a collective shriek upon Mick's poor, overly sober body, which did nothing helpful to his mood.

"Ack!"

"Ow!

"Get offa me!"

"You first, Mick!"

A long, drawn-out silence followed before Mick said, "I can't."

"Why not?" Kitty asked.

"Me hand is right stuck down t'ere."

Rogue could have sworn she heard a growl out of Kitty. "Down where?"

Another moment of silence. Then, "If y' value t'at sanitary nature o' yers, y'll leave t'at a mystery, love."

Jubilee squirmed. "Okay. Ewwww."

"Can Ah second that?" Rogue asked.

"I don't see why not," Mick snapped.

It took them all a few long, awkward seconds to get situated and on their feet again, during which time Jubilee's pants made so much noise Mick thought there was a badger in love nearby, Kitty couldn't stop making the "ewwww" face, and Rogue hastily snatched back her DVD before Jubilee could take it back again.

Mick ruffled a leaf out of his hair and plucked one from Kitty's before asking, "Now, which one o'ya wants t'tell me why yer 'ere?"

Kitty frowned. "We weren't following you, honest. We were just out ... stargazing."

Yeah, right. "It's cloudy out."

The girls froze. They all looked at one another, searching for an excuse. Suddenly, Jubilee's eyes went wide.

"RoguethoughtshesawBradPittdiggingthroughourgarbagecan."

Immediately, Jubilee realized what a stupid excuse she'd given and smacked her forehead, almost as punctuation. If any of them had ever heard of Victor Borge, it might have actually gotten a laugh. Then again, maybe not.

"So, y' decided t'follow me, huh?"

Well, they certainly couldn't lie at this point. Nodding sheepishly, the trio shrugged. They looked absolutely pitiful, with the exception of Jubilee, who couldn't get the grin off her face. Sighing, Mick said, "Come on, t'en."




This was not good.

Okay, so it might be somewhat good. Mick should have figured that the nearest establishment serving alcohol in the vicinity would be one of those expensive lots where you had to sign over at least three major internal organs before they even started considering your credit history. Of course, that was a big "should have."

In any event, it wouldn't matter in the long run, since Mick wasn't planning on paying.

However, he wasn't too overjoyed with the snooty upper-class rutter running the place. And Mick had thought Scotty had quite the steel rod up his ass. This git probably owned the company that produced it.

"Do you have a reservation, sir?" the snooty bastard said as he smoothed down the front of his elegant suit.

"Well, yeah. I've got t'ese little underage princesses 'ere who wan' t'taste a little o' the grog, and --" As the maitre d' went a deeper and more unhealthy shade of red with every passing second, Mick frowned. "Oh, y'mean ..." He glanced at the reservation book on the stand in front of the git and shrugged. "Well, I suck at undercover," he said.

The maitre d' was not amused.

The quartet ducked past the maitre d' into the main dining room, which happened to be one of those upper-class joints with the fancy dinner napkins in the shape of endangered zoo birds and the violin band in the corner.

Mick hated places like this. Mostly because they served champagne, which was like piss with bubbles.

Mick raised his hands in the air and whistled loudly, catching the room's attentions. "Everybody! Stop eatin' right now!"

Thankfully, everyone had the good grace to stop eating. Well, that was a load off. When they sat there for however bloody long he wanted them to with a mouthful of half-chewed Doritos, it tended to turn the stomach right fast, it did.

As soon as he was sure he had everyone's attention, Mick's eyes flashed that iridescent green, and everyone went still like statues. Even Snooty Guy was frozen in place, one arm extended as he pointed at the quartet with that "I'm going to call the proper authorities!" look in his eyes that Mick recognized instantly.

So that left two people. One was a busboy, who walked into the room from the kitchen, took one look at his surroundings, and swung right back around, heading as fast as his legs could carry him. The other one ... well ...

"All right, don't anyone panic," Mick said without thinking.

A whimper from his right drew Mick's gaze to a shuddering young man cowering in his chair, staring at the scene around him as if he'd quite abruptly lost every single marble he owned. Mick frowned and said, "Well, all right, t'en, you can panic. Y'look like y'could use a good panic."

With that, the young man let out a high-pitched girly yelp not unlike the one Bobby had let out on Thursday when Mick had poured a cupful of fire ants down his shirt and raced for the door.

The girls, meanwhile, were staring curiously at a man sitting at a nearby table, his fork nearly to his mouth and an expression on his face as if he'd just taken a whiff of the Bog of Eternal Stench. Rogue waved her hand in front of his eyes, not looking all that shocked to see him not move a muscle. Jubilee, however, had lost interest in the guy and was currently loosening the tops of the salt shakers and replacing the mushroom on the end of his fork with the escargo from someone else's plate.

Kitty came up behind Mick. "What's up with them?"

"Oh, I froze 'em." He looked down at her and shrugged. "Sort o'," he said, right before spotting the bar on the other side of the room. A wide grin spread across his face as he raced towards it, Kitty and the other two right on his heels. "Like hittin' a switch in t'eir brains. On, off. On, off."

"Sowhataboutthatguy?" Jubilee asked, waving towards the still swinging door the busboy had run out of.

Mick ducked behind the bar, searching for Guinness with one eye while using the other one to set out glasses on the bar. "'E's got t' be a mutant. It don't work wit' mutants."

The girls exchanged a glance before sitting down on the only empty barstools left. "That's yer mutant power?" Rogue asked.

Mick looked almost offended. "T'at's not me mutant power," he said, right before opening a mini fridge and finding what looked to be the mother lode, for this place, anyways. He smiled and pulled out a few bottles of Guinness. Well, at least someone in this bloody place had some taste.

"It'snot?" Jubilee yelped.

"No. It's a power, but it's not the power."

"All right, I'll bite," Kitty asked. "What is your mutant power?"

"I in'erit the mutant ability o' any blood relative what passes away."

There was a moment of confused silence before Rogue said, "So, let me get this straight. One of yer relatives dies, and ya get his powers."

"Right."

"You'rekidding," Jubilee said.

"Why, is it funny?"

"So, what'd ya get?" Rogue asked.

"Well, the freezin' t'ing comes from me granddad Kit, and the invulnerability and superstrengt' I got from me cousin Bernie, and t'en t'ere's me aunt Peridot --" His expression went as vacant as the Bates Motel for a second, then Mick added, "Bloody 'ell, I almost forgot somethin'." When he noticed the girls staring at him, he shook his head and said, "Never y'mind."

He focused his attention on the Guinness while the girls huddled close on the other side of the bar. "Y'all realize that when Bobby and John find out about this, they're gonna flip," Rogue whispered conspiratorially.

"Sam might not be happy, either."

"I'll just sit over, try to look cute, and intentionally forget to mention the Peters," Kitty added.

"Should I e'en bot'er askin'?"

Rogue looked over at Mick and frowned. "There's two Peters runnin' around the school. There's Peter the British exchange student, and Peter the Russian exchange student."

"Oh, Peter's not his real name," Kitty said. "I mean, it is -- it's Piotr, but that's Russian for Peter, so we kinda Americanized him."

"Yeah, we're working on turning him into a normal, American kid. Last weekend, we locked him in the TV room and made him watch 'Dawson's Creek' and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' while we stuffed him full of Chicken McNuggets and Doritos and Wild Cherry Pepsi," Jubilee said, then gaped in shock that she'd actually managed to say something in front of Mick and breathe at the same time. (Author's note: Actually, I'm sick of writing literal run-on sentences. And there was no way in hell I was writing that last sentence as one big long word. So sue me.)

Rogue suddenly grinned. "Ya wanna drive him nuts? Turn on ESPN and keep callin' it "soccer." He hates that."

"Both Peters do, actually," Kitty said.

"We're still doin' that next weekend, right?"

"Of course."

A lightning-quick move on the other side of the bar caught their gazes, and all three openly gaped at the cigarette in Mick's hand. Funny, they hadn't thought he smoked. Well, not unless set on fire, that was. "Yousmoke?" Jubilee asked.

"No, but me cigs do"

The girls exchanged a glance and a shrug before looking back across the bar at Mick, who groaned loudly at their reaction. "I can't believe t'is. I get the impression t'at you gits got two mental images of us Brits. Eit'er we're all sophisticated and titled and knowin' the Queen's English and all, or we're low-class and rude and smoke like chimneys and drink like fishes. Where do y' get t'ese ridiculous ideas?" Mick asked, right before taking a drag off his cigarette and a chug off his glass of beer.

Kitty cocked an eyebrow. "Hmm, I wonder."

"Okay, t'en," Mick said, right before pushing three glasses of dark stuff towards the girls.

All three stared at Mick, then at the glasses, then at Mick again. "What's this?" they asked in unison.

"It's Guinness," he said with a wicked smile.

Kitty eyed it suspiciously. "Why's it so dark?"

"Brown food colorin'," Mick said, trying not to laugh. Truth be told, he shouldn't be givin' little girls alcohol, but then again, truth be told, after they'd had a touch of the Guinness, they wouldn't ever touch the stuff again. Not if he could help it, in any event.

All of them lifted their glasses, then cautiously took sips of the stuff. Kitty was the first to go a brilliant shade of green, while it took a few seconds to Rogue to wince and gag. Jubilee, on the other hand, deserved an Oscar. Maybe several. She managed to take a drink from her glass without flinching. Then again, she did have that special, wonderful sparkle in the corner of her eye that said, "Dear God, what was that crap I just drank?"

After a meaningful silence, Mick asked cheerfully, "So? What do y' t'ink?"

All three exchanged a glance, then, as politely as possible, they pushed the glasses towards Mick.

"It tastes like battery acid," Kitty said with a grimace.

Rogue shook her head. "Ah think it tasted like bathroom cleaner."

"I'mstickingwithgasoline," Jubilee said, although she said it with a (very) forced smile on her face.

Mick scowled. "Now, how would you gels know what t'ey taste like?"

"Danny Gorel," they all said at the same time.

Mick shrugged and took a drink from the nearest bottle. "Right," he said.

"Michael Huntly Walton!" a deep voice yelled from the dining room side.

Mick couldn't help it. It was instinct. "Mum?"

He lifted his head to peek over the divider between the bar and the dining room even as the girls ducked, knowing full well the annoyed voice barking from the other side. So while Mick was surprised to see Scotty rather than his order-barking, Laura Ashley-wearing mother on the other side, the girls sure weren't.

"Oh," Mick said with a sigh, "it's you."

Well, there went his weekend.




At first, Scott had been positive that Mick was sitting there alone. It certainly looked that way. It wasn't until a trio of high-pitched voices had loudly announced the name of the student who'd eaten Scott's copy of "The Stand" that he realized the girls were sitting on the stools just on the other side of the barrier separating the bar and the dining room.

He ignored the frozen patrons and stalked past them, around the barrier. Well, now it wasn't hard to spot the girls, although if they hunched down on those stools, they might very well sink into the floor.

Mick, however, was unfazed. That wasn't a shock.

Scott made a sound not unlike Logan's best growl. Then Kitty yelped and really did sink through her stool.

Scott eyed their attire, thankful they at least had gotten changed before leaving the house. What they'd thrown on, though ... well, it wasn't appropriate for ... well, almost anything, come to think of it.

Note to self, Scott thought as he glared at Jubilee in her leather pants. If I ever have a daughter, she is never getting out of the house dressed in red leather. Never.

He searched his voluminous vocabulary, amassed from several years of matriculating at a fine university, and managed to come up with one word that encompassed all that he was feeling at that precise moment.

"Out."

No, wait. That wasn't it. The word was "f***." Why hadn't he said it? Come on, Scott, let's try this again ...

Kitty's eyes went wide as she stood up. "But Mr. Summers --"

"Out!"

Damn it! It's one freaking word, Summers. You can do this, all right? You've cursed before. Remember when Logan stole your bike, racked up hundreds of miles worth of wear and tear on it, and brought it back in a manila envelope? You cursed then.

Rogue stopped staring at Scott's face long enough to lean close to Jubilee and whisper, "Wow. Isn't this the part where he spews pea soup?"

Jubilee made a disgusted face. "Okay, I can't get pea soup on these pants."

"Out!"

Nice one, Summers.

Mick stood behind the bar, shaking his head with a smile as he poured Scott a glass of beer. Against his better judgment, Scott took the seat Kitty had vacated.

"Sit yourself down, Scotty. We need t' get smashed." Mick thought on it a second, glancing at the pair of empty glasses before him, then shrugged and passed Scott a glass. "Well, you do, in any event."

"I don't drink."

This time, Mick practically wrapped Scott's hand around the glass. "Scotty, yer gettin' a Guiness if I 'ave t'give y' an IV drip meself."

Scott spotted a bottle of the stuff behind the bar and frowned. "I didn't know this came in bottles."

"Does it matter? Personally, I'd recognize it anywhere. I t'ink someone was 'iding 'is own personal stash back t'ere." Mick glanced down at the bottle in his hand and shrugged. "Not anymore, o' course."

Scott sighed and reluctantly took a drink from the glass. He'd be needing a little alcohol in his system once the Professor found out about this. Oh, man ... "The professor's going to kill you, you know that?"

"Hey!" Mick snapped, "I did not take 'em wit' me. And besides, after tonight, t'ey shouldn't be drinkin' for quite some time."

"Maybe. But you're here, and they're here, and beer's here."

Mick cocked an eyebrow. "Very intelligent reasonin' t'ere, Scotty," Mick said with a shake of his head. "I t'ought y'worked at a school."

Scott ignored that thought and pushed his glass to the side. "You're driving me nuts, Mick. You've got all the boys trying to one-up you in the prank department --"

"And t'ey are doin' a fine job, t'ey are."

"The girls follow you around like little puppy dogs --"

"'Tain't me own fault. Blame me uncle Griff. It's 'is 'andsome face I in'erited."

Scott looked ready to pop. "And for crying out loud, stop recruiting!"

"I'm only watchin' the news," Mick said. "And y've got t'admit, the bloke with the wings --"

"No."

"How 'bout the one wit' the tail and the blue skin?"

"What did I say not one second ago?"

"I t'ink the singer what's got the fancy light show might be somethin' --"

"Shut up, Mick!"

Properly chastised, Mick downed a good quarter of his glass before reaching into his coat. "Oh, before I forget again ..." He pulled out the faded, folded envelope he'd been staring at in the jail cell and handed it to Scott. "'Ere."

"What's this?" Scott said, then examined it closer. An idea, a memory from way back, came into his head, and he said, "Oh. Is it what I think it is?"

Mick nodded, a sly grin crossing his face.

Scott frowned, balled up the envelope, and shot it into the nearest garbage can. "You're welcome."

Mick nodded again, this time thankfully, right before sidling up closer to the bar and whispering, "I probably should mention t'at I made an adjustment."

Uh-oh. That didn't sound so good. "What kind of adjustment?" Scott asked from between gritted teeth.

"Well, y' know 'ow it was only a coach ticket y' bought me?"

"Yes," Scott said, stretching it out like a man who knew that whatever Mick said next was going to cost him. (Probably an internal organ he wasn't using.) He never should have bought him that plane ticket from London to New York in the first place.

"I got me a better seat."

"Oh, really?"

"Yup. In firs' class."

"Oh, really?" The change between 'Oh, really's was subtle, distinct, and sounded much like the difference between a rabid pit bull (the first one) and a Chihuahua pup who'd just wet himself (that last one).

Mick shrugged and took another chug of his Guinness. "Yup. Don't take much, does it? Jus' a few types on a keyboard ..." Just for clarification, he drummed the air with his fingertips, then smiled wickedly.

Scott groaned inwardly. Oh, great. So he'd frozen a roomful of people simply to change an airline ticket? Well, he certainly couldn't say he was surprised about that.

He was, however, a little surprised by what Mick had to say next. "Oh, 'ey, did I mention t'at me aunt Peridot died in July?" he stated before ducking out from behind the bar.

"Oh. Sorry." Then, as Mick passed by, it hit Scott exactly what Mick was getting at. "Hey, couldn't she fly?"

Mick spun to face Scott. "Like a flippin' bird," he stated with a deep bow, right before making a run for it.

Which probably took all of the fun out of seeing Scott turn every shade of red this side of a Crayola box.




He was going to kill Mick.

No. Come to think of it, the alcohol would probably do the job first.

Or maybe the crash landing.

Jeannie had been nice enough to take the girls home for him, but Mick had disappeared the second he'd left the building. Scott had tried to catch up to the jerk only to spot him flying towards the mansion. Personally, Scott had expected to find Mick in a burning hole in the Professor's Mercedes when he got home, snoring like a world champion and reeking of Guinness. That that was exactly what he'd found pissed him off to no end.

Hmm ... maybe Jeannie was rubbing off on him.

Scott let Mick's lanky form fall with a thump into his bed and politely ignored the fact that the boys in their beds were peeking over at the unconscious Englishman sleeping not five feet away. On any other night, Scott might have told them to go back to sleep, but he was distracted by the sound of a very familiar walk coming up the back steps.

Okay, now Scott was afraid. Deathly afraid, actually. How was he supposed to explain a one-way first class ticket from London? And the matter of paying for it, which Scott was sure was going to happen sooner or later ...

Well, there was Jean's engagement ring, but every mental image he had of the conversation started badly --

Say, Jeannie, you weren't going to use that ring, were you?

-- and ended worse.

BOOM!

Then again, Scott didn't really need that extra kidney ... not yet, anyways ...

"Scott, you in there?"

Scott winced as Jean's voice echoed down the hallway. He thought briefly about his options, all of which ended with "Boom!" This, not suprisingly, was a bad sign.

So, calmly, and with as much dignity as he could muster, Scott turned towards the front door and made a mad dash for his car. He might not be able to escape Jeannie for too long, but at least he could hide out for a little while. And when morning came, he could do something mean to Mick for getting him into this mess ...




Once upon a time, there was a brain cell.

This brain cell was a good brain cell. He thought important thoughts, like "Breathe!" and "Clean underwear!" and "Call your mother!" And he lived in Mick Walton's head.

And there was once a bad brain cell. He thought not-so-important thoughts, like "Beer!" and "Football!" and "Short-sheet Logan's bed!" And he, also, lived in Mick Walton's head.

But he was a right nasty little bugger, and the good brain cell being, in his honest opinion, a self-righteous git, the bad brain cell killed him. Quite a lot, actually.

In any event, the good brain cell was gone now, and while the bad brain cell had taken over the breathing, he absolutely refused to work on the clean underwear situation or even discuss getting his mum on the phone. And what was left over was one bad brain cell, playing very loud Metallica while scraping his nails across Mick's mental blackboard over and over and over again.

This was the fairy tale Mick usually told to describe a massive, mind-boggling hangover of near-epic proportions.

However, he would not be telling this fairy tale this particular day, due to his cottonmouth. No, seriously. His poor, defenseless pillow ...

The girls opened the door to Mick's room slowly, noticing his wince as it squealed its annoyance at being used at all.

Mick lie on his bed, the sheets tangled around his waist and his face shoved comfortably into the depths of the pillow. Rogue frowned. With the exception of Logan, Mick was the only person Rogue had ever met who spent so much time either unconscious, naked from the waist up, or both.

Kitty quietly cleared her throat. Mick made a noise somewhere between that of a dying elephant and a fog horn.

"Um, Mick? You okay?"

"Mmph mmph mmph mmph!"

Fortunately for everyone else, Kitty spoke Pillow. She also spoke Mouthful of Peanut Butter Sandwich, The Dentist Gave Me Novocaine, and Peter Accidentally Hit Me in the Mouth, which she'd only had the chance to use twice.

"But it's one in the afternoon!"

"Mmph mmph mmph mmph."

"Aw, come on, Mick. I'm sure Logan will not do that to you, especially since Mr. Summers told him no more disemboweling in the house ..."

"Mmmph mmph mmph."

Kitty went bright red and glanced at the other two girls. "I don't think it's legal to do that with a trout in this part of the country."

"Mmmph mmph!"

"All right, all right, we're leaving." She shrugged to the others and shooed them out the door, then slowly and quietly shut it, hoping that they wouldn't disturb Mick.

A second later, Mr. Summers's Jeep sounded off from the driveway. A second after that, a frustrated groan rose from behind Mick's door.

"Awright, that bloody tops it! I'm goin' to stick t'at Nancy-boy's car horn so far up 'is arse, 'e'll beep when 'e sneezes!"




Outside in the driveway, Scott, who was leaning on his car horn for all it was worth, looked up at the sound of the commotion coming from the boys's dorm and smiled.




Okay. So the throbbing was gone. Heads weren't supposed to throb, unless they were possessed by B-movie alien creatures. And Mick was pretty sure his wasn't.

What in the bloody hell was wrong with him? He never could hold his liquor all that well anyways, but did that stop him? No, it most certainly did not. And when he woke up the next morning feeling like a damn freight train had run him down, he goes and wonders why.

Aw ... hell.

So, let's take a head count. Who was he in trouble with this morning? Well, Scotty wasn't speaking to him. And there was a good chance Baldy wasn't all too keen on him.

All righty, then ... so if those were the only ones mad at him, then who was the bugger hiding out in the shadows just outside the kitchen?

A low roar erupted from the shadows right before a lightning-quick shape leapt out and pounced on him. Before Mick even knew what was going on, Logan had him slammed up against a wall, one fist wrapped up in his clothes while the other one was holding him in place. The two outer claws on that particular fist were right above his ears, while the middle one glistened between Logan's knuckles.

Mick rolled his eyes. "Oh, it's you."

Logan ignored him and shook him with the fist that wasn't presently anticipating performing a double Van Gogh on him. "You got her drunk."

"I didn't get 'er drunk! She jus' 'ad a sip!" Suddenly, Mick frowned. "Wait, which one are we talkin' 'bout?"

Logan almost looked as if he had to think about that one. "Marie."

"T'ere was one named Marie? Where the 'ell was I?"

"Rogue."

"Oh." Well, that explained it. Why no one in this bloody house could keep their original name was beyond him. The next thing you know, he'd have to deal with students callin' themselves the Magnificent Rando and Flopsy Mopsy, Destroyer of Worlds. "Well, what are y' pissed about? None of 'em liked the bloody stuff!"

"I don't want them drinkin'." Logan's middle claw popped out and inched slowly towards Mick's face. "Any of 'em."

"Right," Mick said, squirming somewhat. Not that he was afraid of getting his head ventilated, but the way Logan was holding him against the wall, his boxers were riding up in a very uncomfortable place. Mick wriggled so that Logan's grip on him loosened and stared him down. "Y' know, I'll bet t'ere's a warm and fuzzy individual in t'ere ju' waitin' t' get out."

A low growl erupted from Logan's throat.

"Y' know, 'cause y' swallowed 'im whole."

Another growl. Mick frowned.

"Is your engine on?"

That was greeted with dead silence. Mick didn't know which was worse. Frustrated, Mick sighed and said, "Awright, Logan, let's try t'is. Y' draw yer claw and I'll put me 'ead in yer way, and we'll try t' kill each ot'er like civilized superheroes."

Logan thought on that for a second, but got distracted by the sounds of a few female students walking by and giggling. Scowling, Logan let him go and said, "I've got a better idea."




Watching Logan and Mick confront each other was the most intense battle of wills any of the students had ever seen. You could have heard a pin drop. Their concentrations focused, their gazes locked across the table. Logan's eyes narrowed as he rolled his cigar between his teeth.

"Your move, English," he said.

Mick barely moved, just glanced down at his cards and said the two words Logan had been dreading.

"Go fish."

Logan's only response was a well-practiced growl.




Returning from grocery shopping, Jean and Rogue pulled up to a house they barely recognized.

For one thing, it was missing windows. For another thing, there was a hole in the roof. (Well, that was nothing new.) And for a third thing, there were toilets on the front porch. Right in front of where some of those windows used to be.

And for once, Jean's first thought wasn't, "Gesundheit, Storm."




The house was quiet. (Yeah, it was too quiet. What of it?)

That, in Rogue's experience, was never good. Either that, or something hysterically funny was bound to happen at any moment. However, seeing as how the kitchen looked as it would have about five minutes after a boy band had wandered in followed by a Girl Scout troupe, she was going to stick with her first assessment.

A loud groan sounded from the TV room. Glancing over her shoulder at Jean, who was smiling and shaking her head as she carried a bag of groceries into the house, Rogue walked down the hall and peeked into the TV room.

Mick sat in the chair nearest the television, where an episode of "Red Dwarf" was playing with the volume turned all the way down. His head resting on the back of the chair and his eyes closed firmly shut, Mick was smiling.

Which was weird, because his clothes looked as if they'd been attacked by piranha.

"How you feelin', Mick?" she asked cautiously.

"I feel," Mick said in a joyful tone of voice, "like someone 'as lifted a great weight off me shoulders and beaten me repeatedly 'bout the 'ead wit' it."

Oh.

He did look happy, though. That was good. Or dangerous.

Something told Rogue, though, that Mick had won. Like ... oh ... say, the roar of Mr. Summers's motorcycle as it drove off into the sunset. Considering that Mr. Summers had gone to the city for the day, it was a pretty safe bet that Logan was about five minutes away from being pulled over for not wearing a helmet.

"So, ya stayin' here?" she asked. "With us? In the mansion?"

Mick shrugged, then said, "I s'pose."

"That's good," she said, right before spinning around, heading towards the kitchen, and yelling over her shoulder, "There's groceries out in the car. Wanna help carry 'em in?"

Another loud groan sounded. "Can't I jus' make one bleedin' trip and carry the whole car in?"

"No."

"Um ... well, bollocks on y', t'en."




Mick had never seen a Tigger on crack. But if he had, he imagined it would look exactly as Jubilee did as she bounded into his room.

"Omigodthisissocoolyou'regonnastayandhangoutandyou'resuchahottieanddidIjustsaywhatIthinkIjustsaid--"

Kitty and Rogue ducked into the room behind her. "Jubilee?" Kitty asked.

"Yeahwhat?"

"Breathe."

It took a second to sink in past all those layers of hair gel and 'N Sync lyrics. "Huh?"

Kitty ignored her and watched as Mick unpacked his knapsack. "What did your parents say?"

Mick looked up to speak and caught a glimpse of Logan standing in the doorway. Stupid git. It was that daft prick's fault his favorite shirt was now a napkin.

Mick turned his attentions back to the girls and said, "'Eat yer vegetables, tell Scotty we said 'ello, and yer brothers and sisters wan' t'know where the line forms for t'is school o' yers.'"

Kitty frowned. "Brothers and sisters?"

"Well, t'ere's seven o' us. I'm the oldest, t'en t'ere's the twins, Kenny who runs superfast and Andy who controls animals, and t'en t'ere's Amy Lynn who goes invisible and camouflages and whatnot, and Georgie who does all the underwater t'ings, and Tess who switches powers, and Erin, but 'tain't lookin' good for Erin, who 'asn't gotten 'er powers yet."

All of a sudden, Kitty's ears perked up. "Back up a sec. Did you say you had a sister who switches powers around?"

"Yeah, Tess. She takes yer power, and she gives it t'her," he said, pointing to Rogue. "Or 'er." He pointed to Jubilee. "Or 'im." Mick waved his hand in Logan's direction.

Kitty didn't even glance over her shoulder, even though the others finally noticed him standing there. "So, do you still have it?"

Mick shrugged. "Y' don't 'ave t' if y' don't want t'. I mean, it only works for an hour, but --"

Jubilee's eyes went wide, and she latched onto Rogue's arm and jumped up and down excitedly. "Didjahearthat,Rogue?Youcanloseyourvirginitynow!"

The look Logan gave Jubilee could have melted Velveeta at a hundred paces.

Mick's green eyes widened, then narrowed. "So, wait a minute. Y' want me t'give me baby sister a ring and tell 'er to come 'ere and shuffle you lot up so t'at Frosty can take Skunk Girl 'ere in the back and give 'er a good rodgering?"

Jubilee bobbed her head up and down wildly.

Both Logan and Mick shook their heads and groaned simultaneously.




11:45.

What in the hell was Mick doing in bed at 11 bloody 45?

Oh. Setting a good example. Right.

He'd argued on the subject, no doubt about it. The same way Logan had about the whole "early to bed" deal, he'd heard later on. Of course, Mick had the slight advantage of not being, in his own words, "the stupidest git this side o' Manchester." Although, Mick having been the stupidest git on the other side of Manchester up until a few weeks back, it was assumed that he was merely sizing up the competition.

But, as always, he'd failed miserably and was reduced to sleeping the hours of a nun rather than sleeping with a nun.

Umm ... forget he'd thought that.

But seeing as he had managed to finagle a bed out of that Xavier chap, Mick was feeling cocky of late.

And he had his own room. Bloody hell, this was heaven, it was. His own room, in a flippin' mansion, of all places. He certainly hadn't had one at home. Scotty didn't even have one here. He had to share a room with his fianc-- oh.

Mick wasn't even going to warrant that thought with a dirty mental image. Lucky bugger.

But while he was daydreaming ... night-dreaming ... whatever. While he was dreaming, he might as well start thinking about what it'd be like on the team. After all, they'd seen him in action. How could they not ask him to join, right?

Not that he would, of course.

Then again, Scott was still trying to figure out a way to pay off that plane ticket, so he supposed he wouldn't be seeing any invitations for quite some time. But still, he was the perfect candidate to be the next X-Man. All right, so as of right now, he was too old to be a student and too young to be a teacher. So he wasn't a member of the team, and the way it was looking, he'd never even make it to Official X-Waterboy.

Not that he cared. Of course.

But, he did have a bed. Plus, he could be loyal, resourceful, intelligent, and had absolutely no qualms about going out in public dressed somewhat like a kinky rent boy.

Well, okay, maybe some qualms.

A few. A few qualms.

What in the bloody hell was a qualm, anyway?

Oh, never mind.

He switched off his light, but had to wait until the rest of the lights in this wing went out to truly be in total darkness, what with all the bloody holes in the walls. A few in his, a few in the boys' rooms ... enough so that getting dressed these days required either a bathroom trip or a lot of patience and a lot of very small curtains.

Of course, it was his fault there were holes in the wall, so he'd be the last one to complain. He really needed to aim a little better next time.

Heh ... no wonder Xavier had disliked him since that little tiff with Logan. Seemed only fair, really. It's a wonder he'd gotten a bed at all.

Well, to be honest, it wasn't much of a wonder, what with Scotty havin' those handy-dandy negatives and whatnot. But, he digressed.

Slowly, one by one, the rest of the lights diminished. It was right after the last light went out that it started.

"G'night, Sam."

"G'night, Bobby."

"G'night, Peter."

"G'night, Mick."

And then, all at once ...

"G'night, St. John-boy."

Mick groaned loudly and cursed the very existence of TV Land before shouting out, "If you insufferable lot don't shut yer traps, I will get up out o' this bed and make y'shut yer traps!"

Annoying little bastards ... why was he staying here again?

Oh, yeah. No cockroaches or steel toilets.

Right.