Battle Strategy

Rating: T for profanity, snarking

Characters: Warren, Scott, Logan, Lola the Siamese Cat, Darwin the Beagle.

Summary: Warren pet-sits. It doesn't go well.

All standard disclaimers apply. Don't own them, (except for Darwin and Lola), am making no money off them, and as far as I'm concerned, X3 never happened. Many thanks to Rachel and Tanya, my mighty fine, beagle-approved betas.

Battle Strategy

by ridesandruns

"Scott, I'm beginning to understand just why Logan swears at you so much," Warren said, pacing the length of the rec room and rubbing his temples. "And contrary to popular belief, it's not entirely due to his double-digit IQ."

"Fuck you, Birdbrain," Logan said from his easy chair.

"No," Warren continued pensively, "no, I believe in some animalistic, Neanderthal way he grasps this essential truth: that you have no regard for human or mutant life."

Scott snorted. "Stop whining, Warren. Your life was never in danger."

"That's what you say," Warren said darkly. "But you weren't there. I spent three days and nights living in fear. Trapped in a guest room in my own penthouse, crouched behind a locked and barricaded door, trying to sleep with one eye open. When I could sleep at all, given the pain I was in."

"Warren," Scott said between clenched teeth, "for the twenty-third time, I'm very sorry my cat clawed you. But you brought it on yourself. It all could have been avoided if you'd read the very simple instructions I took the time to assemble for you."

"Oh right, blame the victim," Warren said bitterly. "It was all supposed to be so simple. 'We'll only be gone a few days, Warren. Darwin and Lola won't be any trouble, Warren. Look, here are the pet-care binders I made to satisfy my obsessive-compulsive control-freak tendencies, Warren!' "

"Binders?" Logan interjected.

"Oh, you haven't seen them?" Warren said. "Scott made binders detailing every conceivable detail of pet care. One for the dog, one for the cat. With little tabs on feeding, exercise, likes and dislikes. It's got everything you'd ever need to know, except for the little nugget about the damn cat being a bloodthirsty demon from hell who'll rip your throat out at the slightest provocation."

"Fucking pathetic," Logan muttered.

"Isn't it just?" Warren said. "I mean, I know he's anal, but really – "

"No, I meant you getting your ass kicked by that cat," Logan said, gesturing to the somnolent Siamese curled in Scott's lap. "She's what, eight pounds?"

Warren snorted. "Doesn't matter," he said grimly. "When disturbed, that animal appears to grow extra limbs, all tipped with needle-sharp claws. Plus she bites and screams bloody murder. She has the disposition of a rabid grizzly bear with a toothache. She's savage. She's depraved. She's you, minus the hygiene issues."

"Quit insulting my cat," Scott said, rubbing Lola's head. "She's very sensitive. This whole thing was an ordeal for her. She still hasn't fully recovered from the trauma."

"You need to speak up, Scott," Warren said sourly. "It's hard to hear you over the purring."

"So exactly what the hell went down?" Logan asked. "I get back from Canada and nobody tells me shit."

"You don't tell us what you did, either," Scott pointed out. "The only thing we know for sure you didn't do is shower."

"Fuck you, cupcake," Logan said.

"OK, so you didn't learn any new insults, either," Scott said. "Thanks for sharing that."

"Is anyone going to listen to me?" Warren said in a wounded tone. "Can't I get any sympathy here at all?"

"You got sympathy," Scott said. "I thought Hank gave you box of Tweety Bird Band-Aids, too."

Warren gave him an icy stare.

"All, right, all right," Scott said with a sigh. "Tell us how you, a trained fighter, were terrorized by an eight-pound cat and a not-overly-bright beagle."

"So Scott and Jean bring over the four-legged search-and-destroy team, neglecting to tell me that the animals, in a rare display of interspecies cooperation, have taken to teaming up to wreck things," Warren began. "Then they go off on a multi-day mission with Ro without telling me I'm the one in danger of being maimed."

"Was he this much of a fucking drama queen then, too?" Logan asked Scott.

"Possibly," Scott said. "I wasn't paying attention – I was worried about the mission."

Logan snorted. "You wanna tell me why you let him baby-sit the mutt? He ain't smart enough for that. The little guy deserves better'n that."

"We were desperate," Scott said. "The students were on break, the professor needed to be able to use Cerebro. And Darwin needs supervision."

"So anyway," Warren continued. "I didn't bother reading the breathtakingly complex directions Scott left – "

"That was your first mistake," Scott said.

" – because I figured the cat sleeps 16 hours a day, and if Logan could successfully baby-sit the dog, then really, any sentient being could do it – "

"You oughta make him kiss the cat to make up," Logan told Scott. "See how she likes that. Especially if he wakes her up and she's hungry."

" – and the first day they're playing some sort of game where the dog chews the legs off antique furniture and the cat knocks assorted objets d'art to the floor to break them. I'll have damage estimates by the end of the week. After multiple expensive crashes, I decide to take a break from running the multibillion-dollar business that keeps this school solvent, and I herd the animals into one room and go back to my study. The cat objects to the kitchen and chases my cook and two maids into the pantry, where, despite being armed with knives and at least one cleaver, they decide to stay put because it's safer. In the meantime the dog gets on the table and devours most of the Kobe beef prepared for a dinner party I had to cancel hours later because I thought I was bleeding to death."

"Are you shitting me?" Logan said, outraged.

"No, I am not," Warren said. "I spent days putting my guest list together and here I had to – "

"Fuck your stupid party," Logan snapped. "You're telling me you're serving your fancy-ass friends fucking Kobe beef and you expect the little guy to eat that piss-poor puppy chow Summers gives him? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"There's nothing wrong with Darwin's puppy chow," Scott said. "The vet recommended it."

"Fuck you, cupcake – that stuff is shit," Logan insisted. "When I watch the mutt I always give him something I make. You gonna listen to some damn vet? Take a sniff of that shit sometime and you'll see what I – "

"Could we get back on track here, SuperNanny?" Warren snarled.

"Go on, Warren," Scott said.

"So the two harbingers of the apocalypse make their way to my bedroom, where the goddamn cat sets up residence on my cashmere throw and the dog runs around chewing everything he can fit into his mouth. He breaks into my shoe closet – "

"Shoe closet?" Logan said incredulously.

"It's a metrosexual thing," Scott told him. "Let it go."

" – and begins eating, slobbering on and destroying everything I own," Warren said. "Expect a five-figure damage estimate for that, too. I turn on the TV to distract him – Jean said he was allowed to watch Animal Planet – and in desperation, I try to shoo the cat off the bed – "

"Big mistake," Scott said, shaking his head. "Now if you'd read the binder you'd know not to do that."

" – and she goes intobenihana mode and attacks me. My screams annoy the dog, who starts howling – "

"I'm sure he wasn't annoyed," Scott said soothingly. "He was probably just upset. Darwin's very empathetic. I put that in his personality profile."

" – and I finally shake the cat off my wings and run out of the room, slamming the door behind me."

"Well, the mutt don't like loud noises," Logan snapped. "So you got some nerve slamming a door around him. And you let him watch TV all by himself? What the fuck is the matter with you? What if that vet thing comes on, the one where dogs are always getting put down? What if they show 'Old Yeller' again? What if – "

"Jean prefers that you monitor the dog's viewing material," Scott said. "That's mentioned in his binder. Animal Planet can be very violent. And we did give you some 'Star Trek' DVDs for Darwin to watch, and the binder specified which ones have Klingon segments. Jean says he likes those best because she and Hank speak Klingon to him in the lab."

"And so I mop up my blood and try to bandage my injuries," Warren continued grimly, "and then I discover that the cat can apparently open doors by herself."

"She does that," Scott said in a fond tone, rubbing Lola's belly as she purred ecstatically. "She's very smart. You know, we actually had to child-proof all the cabinets in the kitchen because she kept getting into them. Personally, I think it's only a matter of time before she figures out the child-proofing, too. She really is the most amazing – "

"She's an agent of hell!" Warren snapped. "She stalked me for days! Every time I turned around, there she was! Making that chattery sound the mansion cats – the normal cats – make when they see birds! It was weird! It was creepy! I was a prisoner in my own home!"

"And through all this shit, it didn't occur to you that the poor mutt needed help," Logan said aggressively. "Poor little guy, sitting there watching who-the-fuck-knows-what all by himself. Lonely. Missin' Jeannie. Probably howling – "

"Beagles do tend to howl," Scott said. "I mentioned that in his binder. Darwin howls when he's lonely. Or bored. Or hungry. Or – "

"So what I'm telling you," Warren snapped, "is that first of all, I am never being alone with your demon pets again, you hear me? I'm not even making eye contact with that damn cat ever again, you understand? Just slap little leather uniforms on them and send them out to rescue mutant pets, but keep them the hell out of my way."

Logan snorted. "Like that cat would ever rescue anyone," he said contemptuously. "She don't give a shit about anyone but Summers. A mansion full of people, and she likes him best? It's fucking weird. You wanna tell me why anything with half a brain would be all over the Boy Wonder here?"

"Jean could probably explain it to you," Scott said.

"And that cat can't be trusted around the little guy," Logan declared. "She'd run off and leave him and do her own thing."

"And goodness knows we couldn't have a team where one member takes off on his own all the time," Scott said dryly.

"Here's what we do," Logan said. "We put an X on that cat – shave it or spray-paint it or something – take her with us when we go on a mission, and if there's trouble, we chuck her at someone. She's light. She'd go far."

"We can call it a fastball special," Warren suggested. "Go on, Logan. Practice. Try to grab the cat off Scott's lap. You've got the healing factor."

"Get real," Scott scoffed. "I'd throw either one of you at the enemy before I'd let you touch my cat. That's the dumbest thing I've ever – " He broke off, then cocked his head and gave Logan a long, speculative look. "Logan? Tomorrow in training. I'm pairing you with Colossus. We're going to try something."

Note: "Fastball special," introduced in Uncanny X-Men #100.