Life Lessons

Rating: T for profanity

Characters: Scott, Jean, Warren, Darwin the Beagle

Summary: Scott's having a crisis of confidence.

All standard disclaimers apply. Don't own them, am making no money off 'em, and I refuse to acknowledge X3. All hail RachelMartin64, who betas my stuff into shape.

Life Lessons

By ridesandruns

"I just don't understand how this is possible," Warren said. "I mean, you're a teacher. You're both teachers."

"We know that, Warren," Scott said testily.

"Well, how is it possible that neither one of you can get through to him?"

"It's complicated, Warren," Jean said patiently. "It's not something you can readily measure. Sometimes we seem to be making progress, other times . . . it's hard."

Warren snorted. "What's going to be hard is going through life telling people your dog flunked out of not one but two puppy kindergartens."

"He did not 'flunk out,' " Jean snapped. "He's graduating with his class."

"He's getting the perfect attendance award," Scott told Warren bitterly. "You know what that means."

"It means he has perfect attendance, Scott," Jean said frostily. "We're very proud."

"You should be," Warren put in. "One might say he owes his perfect attendance award to you. Almost as if you got him there."

"Shut up, Warren," Jean said.

"Perfect attendance is what the losers get," Scott complained. "The others puppies are getting 'Best Sit,' and 'Fastest Fetch.' Things like that. This whole thing is beyond humiliating. It's a blot on the Xavier Institute's good name."

"I just can't believe he flunked out of two kindergartens," Warren said. "Is that some kind of record?"

"For the twenty-third time," Jean said between gritted teeth, "Darwin did not flunk out. We removed him from the first school because of bullies — "

"Bullies?" Warren said disbelievingly. "Dog bullies beat up your beagle?"

"They weren't actually bullies — " Scott began.

"Oh, Scott!" Jean cried, losing patience. "Get real! They knocked him down! They took his toys! What else would you call it?"

"Next they would have been shaking him down for biscuit money," Warren said, nodding wisely. "That's how these things go. They escalate."

"They were not bullies," Scott said patiently. "They were Labrador retrievers. They were just a lot bigger than him and they played too rough. We put him in a class with smaller dogs and he did just fine. Until Logan got involved."

"Why am I not surprised to hear Logan's involved in this?" Warren asked.

"Because you're perceptive," Scott said. "Really, this is all Logan's fault." He frowned. "And you know, that sentence can apply to almost any unpleasant situation around here."

"Logan meant well," Jean said, ignoring Scott's snort. "I was tied up in an experiment in the lab, so Logan went with Scott to class. He's very concerned about Darwin's education."

"He thinks the beagle needs to be trained to attack," Scott said. "He feels 'sit' and 'stay' are 'wuss commands from a candyass.' You can see where this is going, right?"

"Yelling," Warren ventured.

"Lots of yelling," Jean confirmed.

"So we get to class and I chat with some of the other owners," Scott said. "And someone mentions that they're raising their dog as a vegetarian. And Logan responds with his customary tact."

"Profanity," Warren ventured.

"Lots of profanity," Jean confirmed.

"And things go downhill from there," Scott said. "He and I get into it — and I'm winning, of course — and he storms out with his typical eloquent parting shot — "

" 'Fuck you, cupcake,' " Jean clarified.

" — and so naturally I go after him to keep him from stealing the car," Scott said, his voice rising with every word, "and by the time I get back to class, the grapevine has it that I've left Jean for Cousin It!"

"It was the talk of puppy kindergarten," Jean said.

"Two other owners canceled play dates with Darwin!" Scott said indignantly.

"It's probably not a bigotry thing," Warren said soothingly. "I bet they wouldn't have done that if they thought you were sleeping with me. Or anyone else who showers regularly."

"So for the next class," Scott said, "it's me and Jean, and I figure with Logan staying home everything'll be fine."

"But it's not?" Warren asked.

"No, it's not!" Scott snapped. "Because then the damn vicious classroom rumor mill decides that Jean and Logan and I are in some kind of kinky three-way, and that they're sharing me!"

Warren started to laugh. "That's got to be the dumbest thing I ever heard of," he said. "I can't believe any sane person would believe that."

"Thank you, Warren," Scott said triumphantly. "That's exactly what I told Jean."

"I mean, any mini-brain can see that Logan's not a sharing kind of guy," Warren said. "Obviously there would have been some kind of throw-down, and obviously Jean would have prevailed."

"Thank you, Warren," Jean said triumphantly. "That's exactly what I told Scott."

"So as if I haven't had enough trauma and humiliation in my life already — " Scott began.

"Not to mention self-pity," Warren interjected.

" — after all that, the dog's success rate with the commands starts to decline," Scott said. "Then it nosedives. And nothing I do makes one bit of difference, and right now, a week before graduation, the only words he responds to, besides his own name, are 'biscuit,' 'Twinkie' and 'Uncle Logan.' "

"He barks and gets very excited," Jean said. "It's adorable."

"It is not adorable," Scott snapped. "It's humiliating. I just don't know where I've gone wrong with this. I'm a professional educator. I overcome obstacles. I taught Jubilee algebra. I taught Bobby calculus. I taught Logan how to use a cell phone. Sort of."

Jean patted his hand reassuringly. "You're a wonderful teacher, honey," she said soothingly. "Darwin's a smart dog. He understands more than you know. I have something to show you." She cleared her throat, then called, "Darwin! C'mere, Darwin! Where's the best beagle ever? Where's my little woof-woof?"

"I dread the day you have children," Warren told Scott in an undertone.

"Don't start," Scott warned as the beagle came racing into the living room, collided with an end table and rebounded to slobber lovingly over Jean's feet.

"Aw, there's my sweet little doggie," Jean said. "Did you finish the snack Uncle Logan made you? Can you show off for Uncle Warren?"

"I don't want to be an uncle if Logan's an uncle, too," Warren complained. "I don't want the dog thinking we're related."

"Don't worry," Scott told his friend dryly. "Lately Darwin tends to confuse the words 'Uncle Logan' and 'Twinkie.' Which I think serves the SOB right for calling me 'cupcake' all the time."

"Pay attention," Jean commanded the men. "Watch this. JoD," Jean said sharply, and the dog immediately sat.

"What the hell?" Scott said.

"Jegh," Jean said, and the dog lay down.

"See?" she said, turning to her fiance and smiling. "He's not ignorant at all. He's bilingual."

"Bilingual?" Warren echoed at the same time Scott cried, "Klingon?"

"You taught the dog Klingon?" Scott cried. "I've spent weeks wondering why he's suddenly ignoring basic commands, and all this time it's because you've been teaching him Klingon?"

"Hank and I thought it would come in handy," Jean said placidly.

"When exactly is it supposed to come in handy?" Scott said. "If he gets loose at a 'Star Trek' convention?"

"Well, yes, but other times, too," Jean said. "Darwin's doing really well. He responds to 'sit,' 'lie down' and 'fetch.' " She frowned slightly. "Though in Klingon it's really 'stoop,' 'surrender' and 'capture.' "

"I don't believe this," Scott said. "Weeks of humiliation with those obnoxious trainers who said he was slow and asked me if there was trouble at home, all kinds of snide comments from other owners asking me if he was the product of some sleazy puppy mill that produced brain-damaged dogs, and it's because you've been sabotaging his training? Why would you do such a thing, Jean? How could you do this to me?"

"Are his glasses supposed to strobe like that?" Warren whispered urgently to Jean.

"I thought it would be useful. And charming," Jean told Scott, her tone turning icy. "And don't you take that tone with me, Scott Summers. I did not sabotage his training. I enhanced his training to accommodate a second language."

"A second language?" Scott said. "He's obviously not capable of retaining both. It's like the time I tried to teach Logan TiVo and text-messaging in the same weekend!"

"This is why we encourage the students to study a foreign language," Jean told Warren haughtily, casting a piercing glance at Scott. "Because monoglots tend to be bitter, bitter people."

"So what you really need to do is teach Scott Klingon," Warren said, turning to study his friend critically. "I think he'll do well," he told Jean. "He's got that eager-to-please, results-oriented personality. Sort of like a border collie."

"He's very smart," Jean agreed. "Plus he responds well to praise. And treats."

"This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of," Scott ranted. "Why must every single thing in this house be bizarre? I refuse to learn a language from 'Star Trek,' of all things, to communicate with the damn dog. Do you understand that? There's just no way I'm going to — " he broke off, paused, then said hopefully, "Is there any chance you've trained Loganto respond to Klingon?"