Title: A Certain Kind of Light

Chapter One (of 6): Hank (1/6)

Author: Karabair
Disclaimer: Marvel owns it all!
Comic: X-men, main 'verse.
Spoilers: Post-"Gifted" and "Phoenix: Endsong". No spoilers beyond Jean Grey's dead, Peter Rasputin isn't.
Pairing/Characters: Uses Astonishing X-Men ensemble. Gen, with mention of canon ships.
Rating: T
Wordcount: 1,031 (this chapter)

The sign at the entrance to Harry's Back Alley Brewpub said "Under New Management." Hank McCoy froze with one blue-furred hand on the door – all right, "paw," he thought; it's a goddamned paw – and looked back at the others. "Maybe someone else should go in first. Just to see –"

"See what?" growled Logan, barreling up behind him. "If they don't want you, they don't want any of us. May as well find out right off. Besides --" He raised a fist and turned it to show off his knuckles "—could be fun."

Peter Rasputin, hanging back, spread his massive hands. "Pardon me, Logan, but I do not believe Scott and Ms. Frost's desire that we have a relaxing change of pace will be served by a barfight." He nodded deferentially at the pair in question – although, in truth, the word "fight" stirred the first sign of interest Scott had shown all evening. Emma just scowled, which could mean anything, although Hank's guess this time was that she wanted a peaceful night but wasn't about to be told where she wasn't welcome.

"It's all right," announced Kitty, stepping sideways toward them, through the building's façade. "I ducked inside, and I know the bartender from one summer I worked in the Catskills. He's cool and, besides, they've got a big picture of Dazzler on the wall."

Emma's face contorted. "Oh, God!"

"No, it's good," Kitty said. "It means they're mutant-friendly."

"It means their taste in music sucks," Emma shot back.

"We came this far, I think we should go in," Kitty said firmly.

"I agree with Katya," said Peter. "Only, perhaps –" he glanced at a whirring form above her head. "The dragon could wait outside?"

"Lockheed's a certified helper animal!" Kitty answered.

Emma glanced down at Kitty's T-shirt, which was lavender with a sunflower design appliquéd in the center of her chest. "What does he do? Pick out your clothes?"

Scott spoke for almost the first time since they had left the mansion. "Are we going in or not? Because if we're wasting our time, I'm sure Storm and T'Challa have better things to do than babysit the students."

"They still have Canadian beer on tap?" Logan asked.

"Six kinds," Kitty answered.

"Then what the hell are we waiting for?"

Logan staked out two tables in the middle of the dining room. Peter pushed them together, Kitty hunted down chairs. Scott got Canadian beer for everyone, Hank joined them with three orders of nachos, and Emma eyefucked anybody who looked like they might have something to say about his presence. Sometimes, Hank reflected, it really was great to have a woman like that on your side.

The night out must have been Emma's idea, but Hank couldn't imagine that anything about this place represented her first choice. The food was greasy, the beer wasn't really to anyone's taste but Logan's, and the décor seemed, to put it mildly, random. Behind the small stage there was, as Kitty had observed, a huge poster of Alison Blaire in full Dazzler regalia. "Do you think she's serious about those outfits?" Emma mused -- with no apparent irony, for a grown woman wearing a midriff halter top and something that vaguely resembled a cape; and these were her streetclothes.

"Lay off Dazzler, now." Hank couldn't resist. "At one point, I recall, our Fearless Leader owned every album the woman had recorded."

"She just has the two," Scott answered. "I mean, the bonus disc in the box set is all repackaged demo tracks so really –" He trailed off, and lifted his beer. Through the mouthful, he mumbled, "I know her."

Emma sighed. "I suppose it's too much to hope that you also know Terence Trent D'arby, Paul Anka, and the Gibb Brothers. Because that would do a lot to explain your music collection."

"A lot of people have The BeeGees' Greatest Hits," Scott answered, deftly sidestepping the rest of the accusation.

"Greatest Hits?" Logan leaned forward and said, with the gleeful air of someone who has been storing up a bit of vital bit of news, looking for just the right chance to announce -- "You have 'Robin Gibb Live with the Frankfurt Orchestra.'"

"I –" Scott slammed down his beer and stared. "You know what else I have? Respect for other people's property."

"You think I want to steal that?" Logan answered.

And really, Hank reflected -- with these two at each other's throats about trivialities, maybe things were getting back to some kind of normal

Scott crossed his arms and scowled. "I think you've been going through my stuff. Again. And recently. I just bought that last week."

Hank raised a hand. "I can field this one for everybody. You just bought that last week?"

"It was a dollar on E-bay," Scott mumbled.

"So's plastic dog crap, I bet," said Logan. "That doesn't mean I have it shipped general delivery to the mansion –"

"You opened my mail?"

"Did you hear me? General delivery. It could have been a bomb."

"Or something I ordered that you wanted for yourself -- "

"What would that be exactly? You got the new Manilow coming in? Neil Diamond?"

"All right!" Emma snapped, grabbing each of the men by one shoulder. She dug her nails in, but spoke with a soothing tone. "Girls, girls. You're both pretty."

Logan pulled back and cocked his head at her. "Pretty?"

Scott sulked. "Both?"

Emma put a thumb to his chin and tilted his head back, then pecked him quickly on the cheek. "I might be willing to concede," she said, "that some of us are slightly prettier than others."

"Slightly," Scott answered, and brushed her with his lips in return. Then he sat back in his chair and put his arm around Emma and to Hank it still felt strange and new, but for God's sake the man was smiling, and that had to count for something.

"Oh my God," said Kitty.

"Nobody's making you watch," Emma snapped.

"No, I mean, oh my God." She pointed up at the stage. "They're bringing out the karaoke machine."