Written by Darkstorm5000
Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.
It was like waking up from a dream.
From one that seemed all too real, yet one that you're unable to clearly recall even the slightest details of. That is exactly how the young man named Lance Alvers felt at this precise moment, after awakening this morning at an hour late enough that would better classify it as very early afternoon.
Finding himself in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar place, Lance immediately struggled to remember how it was that he wound up here in the first place? It was a search for answers that was made all the more difficult through the sobering haze of an oncoming hangover, which was no doubt the result of a night of extensive partying.
Sitting up on one edge of this oversized bed, at least one that was larger than Lance had been used to sleeping in, a quick visual scan of this modestly upscale hotel room for his clothes promptly revealed the location of his garments. Along, with something else.
The fact that he was not in here alone.
Laying over on the other side of this king-sized bed was the form of another person. A form which he was immediately able to recognize as female in spite of the fact that, whoever it was, was currently curled up completely from head-to-toe in between the bed's sheets. While a moment of silent, conquestive gloating washed over Lance at his assumptive realization that last night must have been a very good night indeed, his smug contentment almost in that same instant turned to shock at the next sight in the room that caught his attention.
Of a gold band that was on his left ring-finger.
Was Lance's coarse, monosyllabic reaction that instinctively came to mind and mouth. His heart now began to beat a bit more rapidly and an acute queasiness settled into the pit of his stomach, as he stared in near horror at this new piece of jewelry on his outstretched hand, knowing full-well what it was.
And, what it meant.
Quietly standing up, Lance for the time-being forewent going over to retrieve his clothes, all of which were randomly scattered out across various parts of this small hotel suite. Instead, he nervously crept unclad around the foot of this bed to its other side. Kneeling down and pulling the bed's pristine white top-sheet back slowly and with the utmost care, so as not to disturb the sleeping party underneath it, Lance saw a down-turned face that was completely obscured by long bleached-blonde locks. But more importantly, he was able to spot what it was that he was truly searching for, this woman's left hand sticking out onto the mattress-top from underneath the semi-tangle of her blonde tresses, out just far enough to be visible. He saw that upon one of her attentively manicured fingers that she too was wearing a gold ring, one that was identical in both design and style to his, save for a sizing difference to accommodate for her smaller ring finger.
It was right then and there that Lance could no longer deny what was so obviously apparent. The irrefutable truth that whoever this person was, who was sleeping so soundly at the moment less than a foot away from him, that she wasn't just some random woman he had spent the night with. That she, somehow, someway, in all likelihood, was his...was...his...
With the gravity of that acceptance of truth now weighing on his mind and shoulders more heavily than the considerable bulk of his teammate known as the Blob, Lance took a single step back from the bed with a slight shudder and then went over to put on his boxers and a pair of worn-looking jeans. All the while, he continued to rack his brain for answers as to how this could have happened, and tried to figure out how he was going to get out of his unbelievable predicament?
Having by now put on some clothes to make himself at least modestly decent, Lance rifled through his jean's front pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Turning the mobile device on and scrolling through the list of internally saved phone numbers, Lance then dialed the one person who had more experience than anyone he knew in dealing with disastrous situations.
"Hey, you gotta get over here. I'm in trouble. BIG trouble." Lance frantically said to this other person, doing so in a whispered scream so as not to wake up his new...wife, just in case a hasty exit became necessary.
"Where the hell are you?!"
Was the less than warm greeting that met Lance from the other end of the line as soon as the receiving party answered. But, he knew it was the least that he should expect from one Wanda Maximoff. Particularly when, unbeknownst to him, she and the rest of the Brotherhood had been out most of the night looking for him, trying to figure out where he had disappeared to?
"I...I don't know." Lance replied, as it struck him that he really wasn't sure of his exact whereabouts at the moment, "In a hotel room. Somewhere."
"Well, are you still in Atlantic City, genius?" Wanda asked him, with a bit of astonished sarcasm thrown in for good measure.
But, her remarks did have the indirectly intentional effect of finally jogging Lance's memory. Of helping him to remember that he and the rest of the Brotherhood had indeed come to Atlantic City, in order to celebrate their graduation from high school. Which, in most of their cases, was a successful achievement that had been met with by just the barest of minimum requirements.
Turning around and taking several steps over towards the room's large picture window, Lance opened the curtains to see the ocean-side view below, accompanied by the sight of Atlantic City's world-famous Boardwalk now teeming with people.
"Um yeah, I'm still here. Somewhere along the Boardwalk." Lance confirmed for Wanda in a perpetually hushed voice, as his eyes now wandered over to the small nightstand next to the bed. Which was where information displaying this casino-hotel's name and his room number were laying, which he then astutely relayed to Wanda.
"Okay, that's not too far from where we're at. I'll round the guys up and we'll be over there in a few." Wanda replied with a small sigh, as the call disconnected.
Closing his phone and shoving it back into his front pocket, Lance went and took a seat in a nearby chair. With head now in hands, Lance looked up for a brief glance at the still sleeping form in the bed across the room from him, before turning his face back downward to rest it back against his upturned palms. From this almost meditative position, Lance once again attempted to peer through the alcohol-tinged haze that clouded his memories of roughly the last 12 hours. But this time, he was able to somewhat recall the events of last night.
Of entering one of the casinos with the rest of the Brotherhood upon their arrival here in Atlantic City, but soon breaking off from them as they proceeded on to the casino's main floor, opting to instead introduce himself and his Brotherhood standard-issue fake ID to the adjoining bar. All he could remember next were vague hints of a soft voice and a pretty smile, accompanied by eyes that didn't scrutinize identification cards too closely. Of succinctly receiving an ice-tea of the Long Island variety, along with a lone complimentary poker chip, all on the house.
From that point on, Lance's memories disappeared into a garbled mess of more drinks, followed by snippets of imagery from an all night revelry that were played back in fast-forward, until his head was spinning like a tornado. Opening his eyes to regain his bearings, his now splitting hangover was only further reinforced in intensity thanks to the loud and rapid knocking that soon emanated at the room's door from out in the hallway.
Lance quickly got up to answer it, so that he could put a stop to the machine gun-like tapping that felt more like a jackhammer to the brain in his current state. While walking over, Lance once again took notice of the sleeping figure in the bed, who was still resting as peacefully as ever in spite of this latest commotion. Lance thought to himself that at least one thing he'd learned about her was that she wasn't a light sleeper. Even, if he knew precious little else about his new...wife.
"When we told you to go and get lost, we didn't mean to go and do it literally, loser." Were the terse words that now came from Pietro Maximoff, as Lance came out into the hallway to join him, while quickly and quietly pulling the door to his hotel room closed right behind him.
Standing there dressed in a lightweight sage sweater, gray-green pants, and casual leather-brown shoes that were in stark contrast to Lance's own bare essentials jeans-only look, Pietro shot him a smile that exuded confidence with a hint that there was something else going on behind it. And while that was nothing out of the ordinary where Pietro was concerned, given the 'unique' set of circumstances that Lance had found himself woken up smack-dab in the middle of this morning, he was more prone to entertain even the slightest hints of his own suspicions regarding exactly how he had managed to wind up here.
"Alright man, good one!" Lance now said with a huge smile that suddenly appeared on his face, as he ran his right hand back through his yet-to-be-combed hair and appeared to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
"Um, what are you talking about?" Pietro quickly replied, raising an inquisitive eyebrow in the same amount of time it took for him to frame his question.
"C'mon, you might as well give it up. I'll admit it, you jerks got me pretty good. But, the gag's over now." Lance said, as he slapped a hearty hand up on Pietro's shoulder.
"Now you've gotten me just as lost and confused as you obviously are." Pietro replied, as he turned what was an already cocked eye over towards the hand currently planted to his left, before turning back to fully look at the person in front of him, "Maybe I didn't make myself clear earlier, but what the hell are you talking about?"
With a look of earnest confusion being shot back in his direction, Lance saw that Pietro was going to play this very elaborate practical joke for all it was worth. So, he decided to go ahead and 'enlighten' friend as to what he was talking about.
"I'm talking about this, asswad!" Lance said, with what was becoming a frustrated grin, as he held up his left hand to give Pietro a visual representation.
"Whoa!" Pietro said, his look of confusion turning instantly to one of absolute shock at the sight of the gold band on Lance's finger.
Without uttering another word, Pietro wrapped his hand around Lance's wrist and pulled it in to him closer, so that he could better inspect this new piece of jewelry that Lance was now sporting. And the manner with which Pietro was slowly and silently examining the ring, two character traits that the young speedster was certainly not known for, Lance's mindset began to uncontrollably drift back to its prior state of panic at the prospect that this was perhaps not a joke?
"So, you guys really didn't have nothin' to do with this? With hiring that girl in there to go along with it?" Lance now asked as he gestured towards the door behind him, a small amount of optimism remaining in his voice that perhaps Pietro was at last about to come clean and admit to his part in this chicanery. But, with a still genuinely surprised look on his face, Pietro's nod to the contrary quashed any remaining hope that Lance might've still been clinging to.
"This is why you called us over here, so you could show off the latest accessory in your new summer collection!" Wanda once again angrily and sarcastically greeted Lance, as she came around the corner down at one end of this hallway, with Fred Dukes and Todd Tolensky in tow following right behind her. Both of whom had been irritating Wanda on the way up here with their emotional back-and-forth speculating, which centered on whether or not they would get to see the owner of this casino-hotel come out and actually fire somebody this morning?
All three had just stepped off of the elevator onto this floor, the same elevator that a few minutes ago Pietro had been far too impatient to stand around in the hotel's lobby and wait for. Instead, he had opted to take the stairs and had apparently made his way by foot up all 37 flights to this floor before them in virtually no time.
"When you called earlier, you sounded all frantic like it was a matter of life and death." Wanda further reminded Lance, unable to see the reason for his earlier near-hysterics on the phone, all the while as she and the rest of the Brotherhood drew closer to where he and her brother were standing.
"More like, 'til death do us part." Pietro laughingly informed them, causing Lance to suddenly yank his upheld wrist back from out of Pietro's grasp.
"Say, yo...is that, like, what I think it is?" Todd now asked, having gotten close enough to get a good look and spot what was on Lance's hand.
But, Lance remained silent and gave only an affirmative nod in response to Todd's inquiry about the item on his left hand. He then fell back onto the door behind him, sliding down into a slumped heaped on the floor and sat up against it.
"You mean to tell me, while we were out all night looking for you, you decided to just go off and get married to some total stranger?" Wanda angrily looked down at him and said, shaking her head in disbelief.
Seeing these tired and moderately bloodshot eyes that matched much of her outfit now staring down into his own, and knowing that Wanda would be the least likely to go this far to help out with some stupid prank, Lance began to finally accept that all of this was in fact for real.
"I didn't just go off and get married!" Lance loudly told this group now gathered around him, and then realized what he had just said, "I mean, I did. But not on purpose, it just sorta happened. Somehow. And I can't remember a damn thing about it, or about much else that went on last night."
"Kitty is SO gonna kill you when she finds out, bonehead!" Pietro grinningly said, and continued with his prodding chuckles.
"Please, Kitty hasn't talked to me since we had that huge fight at prom." Lance replied with an implied tone of indifference.
Although, everyone currently standing here in this hallway with him had also been there that night several weeks ago at their high-school prom to witness those events transpire between the young couple. And they weren't necessarily buying Lance's act now that he had all of a sudden stopped caring about her. Especially, since it was far from the first major fight that they had ever had on this roller-coaster ride that was their relationship.
"Man, what the hell am I going to do?" Lance now said in a partial rhetorical, partially probing manner as he started to once again freak-out in earnest, "I mean, that chick in there, she could be an axe-murderer or something? Right?"
"More like completely brain-dead to elope with you." Wanda bitingly sniped at him.
"Is she at least good-looking?" Fred suddenly asked Lance, his genuine curiosity coming off sounding a bit more crass than he probably realized, all thanks to his at times succinct way of communicating with others.
"Yeah, is she a total babe?" Todd added, his comment however conveying the exact sentiments that he meant it to.
Lance just sat there for a moment, once again in silent contemplation, before offering up an answer for them.
"I don't know, I can't remember exactly." Lance finally replied, as he racked his brain for something, anything, beyond just the extremely vague, alcohol-blurred glimpses that he had been able to recall earlier, "She was still asleep when you guys showed up. I haven't had a chance to get a good look at her just yet."
But, rather than the supportive or sympathetic gestures one might expect to receive in a situation like this, Lance's plight was met with by a more typical Brotherhood reaction.
Loud and unrelenting laughter.
"Oh, mans! Then she must really be kennel club material or something, to make you have to mentally block her face out of your mind!" Pietro said, having been the one who had originally instigated the wisecracking at Lance's expense, and was now compounding on those efforts.
Pietro's remarks managed to draw fits of intense giggling from everybody, save for one. His sister and the lone female of the group, who didn't see anything funny about any of this.
"When we get back home, I'm going to buy the cutest little leash that I can find, as my special wedding gift to you two. You know, for those leisurely romantic walks by moonlight." Pietro mercilessly persisted and told Lance, not generally being one to know when something like what he considered to be harmless teasing was being taken too far. Or, when a line was being crossed, not until it was already too late.
Such as now, when the look on Lance's face clearly relayed that he was on the verge of unleashing a seismic wave right at him. One powerful enough to cave-in the floor that they were on, and likely take out several more floors beneath them as well in the process, if Pietro didn't knock it off immediately. Fortunately for them, and for the other hotel occupants', the door to Lance's hotel room opened up just in time to avert such a disaster.
And, wound up dropping the jaws of every male within direct visual range of the doorway right behind Lance.
"There you are! I was starting to worry about where my 'Lancey-poo' had gotten off to?" A curvily-built blonde, who was dressed in skimpy red and black lingerie, popped out of the hotel room and looked down at him to say. All as Lance tumbled backwards into the room, now that the door he had been sitting back up against had suddenly swung open.
But, with a fresh round of snickering from the Brotherhood out here in the hallway, as they silently mouthed his wife's new pet-name for Lance to one another, she at last realized that she and Lance weren't out here alone.
"Oh, I didn't know we had company?" She said with a quick toss of her hair, her big blue eyes at first giving off the appearance of total startlement. But in the same token, she didn't seem to be all that bothered by the fact that she was standing there barely dressed in front of a small crowd of strangers.
"Yeah, um, these are some friends of mine." Lance said as he rolled back forward and stood up, unable to take his eyes off of this alluring vixen now standing before him.
"Well, any friends of my Honeybear's, are friends of mine." She said, as she leaned up to give Lance the kind of kiss that would've most assuredly woken him up, if he hadn't been already. While Lance had to temporarily use the inner doorframe for support, to help keep his balance after receiving such a passionate show of affection, his new bride went over to introduce herself to everyone else.
And without any hesitating at all on her part, Lance's new wife came up and unabashedly hugged both Todd and Fred. Which caught them both by surprise, since she was the first person from the opposite sex to make this level of physical contact with them in a very long time, doing so on purpose and without a grimaced hint of revulsion no doubt.
"Um, hi...uh, Miss Goldilocks." Was all that a now flush-faced Fred could manage to get out, after being so close to a beautiful woman who looked as though she could've just stepped from the pages of a storybook. Or rather, given her current state of dress, out of one of those magazine's that he and the rest of the guys had stashed around the Brotherhood House back home.
"Oh, you silly." She replied, as she reached up and playfully pinched one of his cheeks, "That's not my name."
Then, there was a noticeable pause from this woman, who seemed as though she had been talking non-stop since coming out here to join them. In fact, it was such a pointed lull that some in there small group began to wonder if perhaps she had actually forgotten what her name was in all of her excitement?
"My name is Jennifer Stavros." Jennifer told them, and put any of their lingering doubts to rest, "But, I was thinking just now that I should probably get used to going by my new married name, Mrs. Lance Alvers. Mrs. Jennifer Alvers. That has a neat-o ring to it, doesn't it?"
"Yeah. 'Neat-o'." Wanda rolled her eyes and coolly replied, her response far less enthusiastic in the face of what she saw as Jennifer's bubbly affectations, and only grudgingly offered a handshake in return to Jen's attempt now at a cordial embrace with her.
"It's so great to get to finally meet all of you!" Jen told Wanda, before going over to greet her brother in her own 'special' way. Her last statement was one that Wanda found to be terribly ironic, since Jen had only known her new husband just slightly longer than she did the rest of them.
"Well, it looks like you weren't the only one who managed to hit the jackpot last night, sis." Pietro next came over and said to Wanda, after Jen released him from her welcoming press and went back to fawn over Lance.
Pietro was referring to the winning streak that Wanda had experienced the night before in one of the casinos', where she unexpectedly hit a lucky roll at one of the roulette tables that wound up lasting for several hours and netted her winnings in the high five-digit range. Which was a highly unusual occurrence, particularly when considering the game in question, for someone who was renown for her ability to bring bad luck around her more often than not wherever she went.
"Alright, losers, see ya in about a week." Lance abruptly said to the rest of the Brotherhood, as he turned to head back into his hotel room, "Newlywed stuff to take care of, you know?"
And with that, Lance took Jennifer by the hand and pulled her along with him, before quickly closing the door behind them both.
While the others seemed to be quite amused by Lance's antics, Wanda in contrast was far from it. Thinking to herself that if her teammates' would actually use their 'bigger' brains, they would see that there was something really, really strange about this situation. And that if Lance had any kind of heart at all, that he'd give a bit more consideration to what all of this was going to do to a certain girl back home in Bayville. One, whom Wanda had gotten to know fairly well and had become pretty good friends with over the past year.
And knew exactly what hearing this news was going to do to her...