(DISCLAIMER: All the characters except the doctor belong
to Marvel Comics and Kids WB.)
(A/N: big thanks to my writing partner Chris, who wrote approximately half of what you see here.)
"You are not dying!" Mystique screamed at the closed bedroom door. A hand-lettered sign on it read:
I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME
(P.S. I need more ice cream)
"Yes, I am!" Todd Tolensky insisted.
"If you were dying you wouldn't be yelling that loudly!"
"How do you know? You're not a doctor!"
"No, I'm a person with a brain, which is more than I can say for you!" Mystique stomped down the stairs and into the living room, where the other three Brotherhood boys sat on the couch, watching TV. "Pay no attention to the little hypochondriac. Maybe he'll get the message."
"What about his ice cream?" Lance asked. Ice cream was the only thing Todd could keep down right now.
"Let him get his own ice cream! He's faking to get sympathy!"
"No he isn't," Fred insisted. "He's got a fever, I checked. And inside his throat is all red. That's why he needs the ice cream."
"He's being a big baby about it!"
Oh yeah? Lance thought. He's not the one stomping around and screaming at the top of his lungs.
No one noticed, in all the confusion, that Pietro was just
sitting there, not making a sound.
He had taken some cold medicine about an hour before, and it was making him spacey. It always made him feel spaced out--not exactly high (as he understood it, high was a good feeling), but not all there.
But if it was a choice between feeling spacey and coughing his lungs out, he'd take the spaciness any day.
He couldn't quite be sure where or when he'd gotten sick....
All he knew for sure was that . . .
I want my Daddy.
"He's exaggerating, then!" Mystique was saying, of Toad. "Remember when he insisted he had appendicitis? And it turned out to be indigestion?"
"What if he's serious this time?" Fred insisted.
"This could be the one time when he really means it."
"He is not dying!" Mystique threw her hands in the air and headed off toward the kitchen. "Dinner will be ready in half an hour."
"What does it take to calm him down?" Mystique grumbled.
How had she ended up here? Playing housemother to a
bunch of delinquents who demanded every ounce of her attention? It wasn't fair!
She didn't ask for this!
Sometimes she thought about just running away. Getting in the car and just driving off, never coming back. It would serve the little brats right.
But if she did that, she realized, the X-men would be all over her like flies on a trash pile....
Not to mention . . . him.
If she left, he'd hunt her down to the ends of the earth. There would be no peace . . .
Somewhere upstairs, a bicycle horn honked.
What was that I was saying about no peace?
She stomped out of the kitchen to the bottom of the stairs, for the moment forgetting about dinner, which was beginning to burn.
" WHAT?" she shouted up the stairs.
A ball of paper flew down and hit her in the head. She'd get him for that later.
Where's my ice cream?
"I'll give you ice cream," Mystique muttered under her breath. "Oh, I'll give you--"
The fire alarm went off.
She didn't smell any smoke, but she did notice...
the frying pan was on fire!
Grabbing a potholder, she wrapped it around the handle and dumped the pan into the sink, then turned the water on. There was a hissing sound, and clouds of steam.
"I'm going to kill you, Toad."she muttered....
"So we're getting pizza again?"
The boys had followed her in from the living room. They stood just behind her, looking at the smoking mess that had almost been dinner.
Mystique sighed. "Yes, I guess so."
Unless one of you mooks wants to cook dinner.
Which was a scary thought--none of them could cook anything more complicated than macaroni and cheese.
I ought to ask about hiring a maid.
"Who wants to make the phone call?" Mystique asked. "And we're only getting two pizzas this time! I'm not made of money!"
"Aw!" Fred whined. He could eat two whole pizzas by himself. "I'll starve!"
"Yeah, you're just wasting away," Lance teased him. He made the call on the kitchen phone, which had the number of the nearest pizza place on speed dial.
"I'm going to my room," Pietro said. "Call me when dinner's here."
"Get back to bed, you little faker!" Mystique
shouted at him. "It's your fault dinner's ruined! If you hadn't been
honking that stupid horn, I wouldn't have let it burn!"
"Maybe you just can't cook!"
Toad recoiled from her anger....
But before she could hit him, the doorbell rang.
"Wow, that was fast." She went to the door, grabbing her purse on the way (have to remember to leave the guy a big tip after what happened last time), and opened the door.
"I hope you brought the--"
It wasn't the pizza man.
It was someone from the school.
Mystique quickly changed into her Ms. Darkholme persona. "Yes? Can I help you?"
"Well, Ms.Darkholme... I have some forms for you to fill out . . ."
Mystique rolled her eyes and sighed. Couldn't this have waited until tomorrow?
Someone was banging
on the wall upstairs. Gee, who could it be?
"Just leave them," she said. "I'll bring them in with me tomorrow."
"But I need--"
"A life." Mystique interrupted as she slammed the door in his face and thought of some creative ways to kill Toad.
"You are in a lot of trouble now!"
"ME? What did I do?" Toad moaned.
"What didn't you
The doorbell rang. The pizza was finally here.
"I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere." Mystique stomped out of the room, cursing Toad under her breath.
Toad winced at Mystique's anger....
"Why is it always my fault?" he moaned to himself. "I've never done anything to her, and she hates me! That's it, I'm not getting her a Mother's Day present!"
"I'm not your
mother!" Mystique screamed up the stairs. Under her breath she muttered,
"Thank God. I'd kill myself."
The pizza kid was just standing there, waiting to be paid.
"Oh, I'm sorry. How much was it again?"
"Okay, I know I've got a twenty in here . . . at least I had a twenty in here. WHO'S BEEN STEALING MONEY FROM MY PURSE?"
No answer. So Mystique asked again....
"WHICH ONE OF
YOU IDIOTS HAS BEEN STEALING FROM ME? I WANT AN ANSWER NOW!"
"Who do you think it is?" Lance snapped. "He steals from everybody else, why not you?"
supposed to be upstairs?"
"Not if you're gonna keep talking trash about me! Sides, looks like I'm gonna have to get my own ice cream. Nobody wants to help a poor little dying little boy . . ."
THWACK! "Oops!" Mystique said. "My hand must have slipped."
"Will you get
upstairs before I throw something at you?"
"NO buts! Go! Now!"
Mystique sighed. "Oh-kay. I need some plates to put this on. Get the plastic ones, so you don't break any more. And somebody go tell Speedy Gonzales dinner's ready."
"I'm gonna kill that kid."Pietro grumbled under his breath....
His head was hurting
so bad it felt like it was about to fall off. And his cough had come back.
Eating? He didn't feel like eating at all. Should he even bother going to dinner?
Meanwhile, Toad was plotting his revenge on Mystique.
In the next room,
Fred and Lance were busy dividing up the pizza.
"Shouldn't one of us go get Pietro?" Fred asked.
"Oh, okay." Lance went upstairs (trying to ignore the mutterings from Todd's room) and knocked on Pietro's door. "Yo, Petey boy! Dinner!"
There was a very unpleasant sound. It was like a car starting up on a cold morning.
It took a minute for
Lance to realize that the sound was someone coughing.
"You okay?" he asked.
The door opened. "Yeah, I'm fine. I think I'm getting a cold or something."
Toad, of course, was still carrying on nonstop.... but nobody paid any attention to him.
Pietro felt a weird, mushy sensation in his stomach....
Oh, no. Oh,
please, God, no--
The worst thing that could possibly happen, happened just then.
"I'm sorry.," he muttered.
"That's okay," Lance said. "I was gonna wash these clothes anyway."
"HEY!"Toad yelled." DYING PERSON OVER HERE! HELLO?"
Todd!" Lance shouted. To Pietro he said, "You feeling okay?
"It's nothing. Don't worry about me."
"You don't look so good."
"I said I'm okay!"
That didn't stop Toad
from hurling various objects into the hall.
Mystique came stomping up the stairs. "I've had just about enough of you! Stop this right now!"
"You are not dying! What do I have to do to get it through to you?"
"Call a doctor."
Are you insane? Don't
answer that. You think I have money for a doctor? You're fine! You don't need
to see a doctor! Now shut up and leave me in peace!"
She stomped out of
the room and slammed the door, muttering to herself.
"Sick and tired of your whining . . . you think I have nothing better to do than listen to you complain all night?"
They all flinched...
which was pretty much normal behavior around here.
"What's your problem?" Mystique demanded of Pietro and Lance.
"Well, actually--" Lance began, but Pietro cut him off.
"Nothing! Just going to get some pizza now. Okay?"
Lance pulled back and turned his attention back to Toad. "Maybe you better just rest a while. Save your strength."
"What strength?" Toad groaned.
"Just lie still and be good for a while,
"Good. I'll be back to check on you later."
"Could I have more ice cream too?"
"Okay. I'll bring some up to you. If there's any left, that is."
"Don't mention it." Lance went back downstairs, only to find . . .
Fred cleaning out the refrigerator.
"I guess there's
no pizza left," Lance sighed.
He heard that awful car-starting sound from behind him, and turned around.
"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked Pietro, who was sitting in one of the kitchen chairs, coughing his lungs out.
"Yes."Pietro insisted impatiently.
"You should take
"I took something. It's worn off already. One of the drawbacks of a fast metabolism."
"Is there anything else you can try?"
"I could shoot
myself in the head. That would make it go away."
"Yeah, and everything else, too."
Mystique came in, looking for something. "Have any of you seen the roll of duct tape that was in the junk drawer?"
"Uh . . . " Lance, Pietro, and Fred all looked at each other, not knowing what to say. The duct tape's disappearance was part of a wild weekend that also involved Silly String, toilet paper, and a goat. (It was best not to ask too many questions.)
"Never mind. I'll use the electrical tape." She slammed the drawer shut and went back upstairs.
"I'm going to kill them all one these days." she grumbled." I'm just going to take an AK-47 and gun every last one of them down, starting with Toad..."
"That was weird," Fred said. Then he went back to raiding the fridge.
with me." Mystique snapped at Magneto as they passed each other in the
hallway." I'm not in the mood."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
dying!" Toad called out, to whomever might be listening.
Mystique pointed in his direction. " That's what I've had to deal with all day. I'm getting sick and tired of it!"
"Is he really dying?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious? Do you think he'd be yelling that loudly if he were dying? He's just trying to get more ice cream."
"But I AM dying!" Toad insisted indignantly. "Why won't anybody believe me?"
The doorbell rang again.
"What is this, Grand Central Station?" Mystique grumbled as she went to answer the door.
"HEY! I'M NOT FAKING!"
"Yes, you are!"
she shouted up the stairs. She made herself presentable again, then opened the
door. "Can I help you?"
"Hi," the man on her doorstep said. "I've just moved into the neighborhood. I'm Doctor Ryan . . ."
"A medical doctor?"
"Yes, I'm a pediatrician, actually, and--"
She took the hand he had extended and pulled him into the house.
"You're just in time!"
"In time for
what?" The doctor looked bewildered.
Mystique explained all about Toad as she led Dr. Ryan upstairs. "He's driving me crazy! If you could just convince him that he's not dying, maybe he'll stop whining for a while."
"Okay, I'll see what I can do. But I don't normally make house calls--"
"I'll pay you double, in cash, right now, if you just SHUT HIM UP!"
"Tell her I'm dying!" Toad insisted. "She won't believe me! Nobody believes me!"
"I'll be the judge of that." The doctor
opened his bag and took out several instruments. As he began to look Todd over,
Mystique left the room.
Magneto was still hanging around; she didn't know why.
Toad gave Lance a
dirty look... which he couldn't see, being on the other side of the door.
The examination didn't take too long. It was fairly obvious that Todd wasn't dying.
"I'm not?" he complained.
"No, you're not," the doctor said. "At worst, it's nothing more than a bad cold. I'll leave a prescription with your mother."
As the doctor left the room, he could hear something from the next room, that didn't sound too good.
He nudged the door open slightly.
"How long have you had that cough?"
"Two . . .
days?" Pietro said.
"Mind if I take a look?"
"Hey!"Toad yelled. "I need more ice cream here!"
Mystique was at her
wits' end. She stormed into his room and slammed the ice cream container over
the boy's head.
"THERE!" she shouted. "THERE'S YOUR $^&@! ICE CREAM! NOW SHUT UP OR I'LL KILL YOU!"
She went back downstairs and found the doctor waiting for her.
"He's not dying, is he?" she asked.
Dr. Ryan looked worried. "Todd? No. He just has a cold. It's the other boy I'm concerned about."
"The one with the cough."
"I think he means Pietro," Lance offered helpfully.
"What's wrong with Pietro?" Mystique asked. Now she understood why Magneto was there. Had she been so busy chasing around after Ice Cream Boy that she hadn't recognized real illness when it was right in front of her?
"I won't be absolutely certain without further tests, but right now it looks like either bronchitis or pneumonia. We have to get him admitted to the hospital right away."
You could have heard a pin drop in that room.
Mystique said finally, "looks like we're going to the hospital."
"WHAT ABOUT ME?"
"What about you?" Lance shouted upstairs.
"WHO'S GONNA WATCH ME?"
"Watch you do what? You haven't done anything but beg for more ice cream!"
"I can't help it! My throat hurts really bad!"
"So stop yelling all the time!"
"I'M NOT YELLING!"
It was all Mystique could do to keep from hitting Toad. "I should just hand you over to the X-Men right now.," she snapped.
"Not now. We don't have time."
right." Mystique said, giving Toad a look that could have melted solid
steel. "We need to get Pietro to the hospital at once."
"But my ice cream...."Toad moaned.
"WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR STUPID ICE CREAM? THAT'S ALL I'VE HEARD TONIGHT IS I WANT ICE CREAM, I WANT ICE CREAM! YOU WANT IT SO BAD, GET IT YOURSELF!"
Mystique just stormed
out. Everyone went with her, leaving Todd all alone.
Alone . . .
"Hey! What about me? Don't leave me--"
The only answer he got was the thud of a door slamming.