A/N White boys are so pretty, skin as smooth as milk, white boys are so pretty, hair like Chinese silk; give me a tall, a lean, a sexy, a sweet, a pretty, a juicy white boy! (Mixed media!)

I think this happens the evening of The Big Climactic Day. Yes, I am screwing with my own timeline. Hush up and enjoy the C/M. With special bonus Trink and Peaweed! (We need a twee shorthand for Corny/Maybelle. CornBelle? Mayney? Tree and Twig?)

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Corny Collins was in Motormouth Maybelle's kitchen. And looking very at home, with his jacket and tie doffed and shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbow. He leaned around Maybelle and grinned at them. "Hello, teenage Baltimore."

Penny blinked and then got over it, since Seaweed was completely at ease. Tracy beamed and accepted him utterly. Link, no shame to him, needed a moment to recover as two worlds collided.

Inez was off dancing somewhere in the neighborhood of Cloud Nine, and only her physical form was present.

"Mr. Collins!" Tracy bubbled, and sprang over to give him a hug. "What are you doing here?"

"The same thing you are. Small celebration of integrated status while the big blowout is being planned." He nodded at the others. "Boys. Miss...Penny, was it?" She nodded, waving her lollipop in confused greeting, and Corny turned to the youngest member of the party. "And I see you have collected my new star. How are you feeling, Li'l Inez?"

Little miss Inez was somewhat short of speech, but an incoherently gleeful smile and wriggle of delight got her response across clearly enough. She looked just like an exited puppy, and Maybelle laughed indulgently. "I'm so glad for you, baby." She then carefully tugged the backpack off her daughter's shoulders and gave her a gentle push towards the doorway. "Now go and get cleaned up for supper."

Tracy had been containing an explosion of enthusiasm for almost a full minute and couldn't take it any more. "This is only the most exiting day ever! I love your house, Ms. Maybelle, Seaweed." She bounced a little and grinned up at them, Link looking down unnoticed with an expression of bemused fondness. Maybelle extended her motherly glance over them as well.

"Thank you, Tracy. Why don't you girls go after Inez and wash up? Seaweed, you two can wash up in the kitchen with Mr. Collins."

The aforementioned Mr. Collins leaned against the doorframe and gave her a mock-offended look as the girls left. "Maybelle, I'm hurt. Are you implying that Corny Collins has fallen to a level of less than immaculate cleanliness?"

She laughed at him. "You're not as slick as you think you are, Rory. Now; you. Sink. Wash." He gave her sad puppy eyes, then winked and returned to the kitchen as the boys looked at each other and mouthed, 'Rory?'

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Dinner was noisy, with most of the conversation being carried on between Maybelle, Corny, Inez, and Tracy. Seaweed and Penny were too busy staring into each other's eyes to accomplish much talking or eating, and Link appeared to be deep in thought. When everyone was reduced to picking at their plates absently an hour later, Maybelle stood up. "Why don't y'all move this to the living room. Inez, come help your mama with the dishes."

Corny intervened before she could say anything, plucking the plate out of Maybelle's hands. "Not a chance. You're the hostess here and Inez is the guest of honor; go sit with the youngsters and talk. I've got this." Maybelle cocked her head at him, clearly amused for some reason, and relented. He scooped up a plate of leftovers with a smile. "Link, you want to help me wash up?"

Link started slightly, drawn out of whatever musings he had been sunk in. "Uh, sure." He was silent during the collection and washing-up, and the show host broke the silence when they were almost done.

"So, care to explain why you're not staring into your sweetheart's eyes with the rest of the lovebirds?"

"It's just..." Link struggled for words. "Tracy--she's better than me. And I don't mean just her dancing, I mean as a person." He nudged the cabinet with a toe disconsolately. "I know I don't deserve her."

Corny set down the last plate and leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms. "She seems to think you deserve her," he noted neutrally.

Link let out a breath of laughter. "Yeah, but that's Tracy. She thinks the best of everyone."

"You want my advice on dealing with a woman who's better than you?" He waited for the teen's hesitant nod. "Be willing to learn. And work your tail off."

"I guess...I guess I can do that." Link's smile resurfaced. "If you don't mind me asking, how do you know?" He glanced significantly towards the living room where Motormouth Maybelle's voice could be heard. "Is this the voice of experience, or what?"

Corny looked at him levelly. "I do mind, employee."

Link nodded. "Right. Mr. Collins can neither confirm or deny that he is sweet on Ms. Maybelle." Mr. Collins picked up a damp dishtowel and Mr. Larkin beat a hasty retreat to the other room, blue eyes sparkling wickedly.

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There was some lively conversation, with all the people taking part this time, before Seaweed noticed the time. "Oh...darn. We gotta run if we're gonna catch the movie."

"Movie?"

He grinned sheepishly at his mother. "Sorry, Mama. We were gonna go see 'The Music Man'."

"Uh huh." Maybelle gave the knot of hopeful teenagers a jaundiced eye. "And y'all have consulted with parents about this?"

"My parents think it's fine," Tracy piped up. Link nodded in agreement, but Penny shrank against Seaweed's side.

"My mother won't talk to me," she admitted softly. Her lip trembled before she stuck a fresh lollipop into her mouth to cut off the movement. Seaweed kissed her on the temple, and Maybelle's eyes softened.

"I'm sorry, baby." She pulled her son's brand-new girlfriend off the couch and enfolded her in a maternal embrace. She then held the blonde at arm's length. "In her absence, I give you permission. You just stick close to my son, alright?" Penny nodded, sniffled, and smiled around the lollipop stick, eyes alight with gratitude. "Okay." Maybelle nudged her towards her friends and gestured towards the door. "Go on. Have fun, but I want y'all at your respective houses as soon as the movie is over."

Inez stood up from where she was seated on the floor near Corny's chair. "Mama, can I--" her request was cut off with a yawn, and Maybelle laughed.

"You're too tired, honey. You can hang around with me and Mr. Collins until bedtime."

Miss Hairspray sighed. "Okay." She sank back down on the floor and said Mr. Collins tugged a pigtail teasingly as the door closed on the hasty goodbyes of the departing teens.

"Miss Stubbs, don't leave so quickly. You'd hurt my delicate feelings, and then how would we work together?" Inez laughed, then yawned again and rested her head against his knee. Maybelle exchanged an affectionate look with him over her head, then went to the kitchen to get them all something to drink. Behind her she heard the slender man start to hum an old song, which was taken up in a sleepy voice by her daughter.

By the time she returned to the kitchen, Inez was fully asleep. Corny accepted the drink and nodded to the girl. "She has a beautiful voice--likely she gets that from her mother," he added, and then grinned and ducked as Maybelle made a move to smack him but was halted by the little head resting against his leg. "She seemed to know all the words to 'On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe', too."

"That she definitely got from her mother." Maybelle took a sip of her drink, then set it down and rested her chin on her hand. "You've gained a worshipper for life, you know."

He looked both pleased and embarrassed, but his free hand smoothed over his new star's hair almost of its own accord. "All I did was go with the flow."

Maybelle gave him a disbelieving look. "Oh, bull." He mimed shocked offense at her language but she ignored him with practiced ease. "There's plenty of show hosts that wouldn't have risked their jobs by 'going with the flow'. Sure, it was Link who pulled her out there--bless that boy--but you kept her on, and introduced her, and crowned her Miss Hairspray after making her the lead dancer on your show." She leaned forward intently. "Lead dancer on the Corny Collins show, Rory. She doesn't underestimate what that means and neither do I."

He abandoned all pretense and smiled with his eyes. "Thank you. And it was my pleasure."

"You're welcome. And that's why, if you need anything, just ask." She pointed at him and emphasized, "anything."

He trailed his eyes over her speculatively. "Hmm," he mused with a flirtatious wink. She drew herself up for an amused diatribe, but he waved for silence. "I'm only joshing, Maybelle. Right now, I confess that all I want is to regain the feeling in my leg."

"Oh! Sorry, darlin'." She rose to crouch next to his chair and he chivalrously didn't take advantage of the view. "Inez," she said softly, and touched the girl's shoulder. "Let's get you to bed, sugar." Inez didn't react except to stir drowsily and mutter under her breath. Maybelle looked up and Corny a little helplessly. "She sleeps like the dead. This could take some time."

"Don't worry about it." He leaned forward and drew Inez into his lap, then stood up with an easy strength that belied his slim frame. "Just direct me to the young lady's bedchamber and I'll provide transportation."

She led the way, with a white man following close behind holding her daughter easily in his arms, and was surprised by how natural it all seemed.

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And the kids are stuck in theater limbo for all storytime, I guess. Those darn show hosts keep taking over everything. /shakes head/ I am so in love with this pairing. It's got that awesome odd-couple thing going on. It doesn't hurt that Queen Latifah is drop-dead gorgeous (and I say that in a totally straight way) and James Marsden is very easy on the eyes too.