Disclaimer: I do not X-Men or the Fantastic Four. Both teams belong to Marvel.
A/N: I'm not sure on how to write Ben's colloquial speech pattern. I would like to express my sincerest apologies.
The views and opinions expressed in this story do not correlate with the views and opinions of Artemis's Liege.
Universe: Slight alternate universe; this fic keeps the setting but ignores the events of the movie trilogy.
Rating: T, for discussion of sexual activity.
Ben Grimm grumbled under his breath as he strode down the corridor to Scott Summers's classroom. The X-Men were undoubtedly very generous to proffer their immense mansion to the Fantastic Four while the Baxter Building underwent renovations after it was flooded (courtesy of Namor), but none of them found the idea of living in close quarters with a bunch of children very appealing. Still, they had gratefully accepted the offer.
At Sue's suggestion, they decided that the least they could to repay their hosts was help out by teaching classes of students during their stay. The arrangement worked out rather nicely; today, grades five through twelve had gone on a field trip to the Maritime Aquarium, with most of the teaching staff at the Xavier Institute accompanying them as chaperones. Moreover, the Spanish teacher had suddenly resigned and left, and Professor Xavier was looking for a suitable replacement. In the meantime, Johnny had taken over teaching the Spanish classes. Ben sincerely hoped that there was a good psychologist or trauma counselor on the premises.
And so, in addition to Johnny, Sue and Reed found themselves acting as substitutes that day, in the absence of the actual teachers, while Ben was assigned the task of supervising detention for the kids who, for disciplinary reasons, had not been allowed to go to the aquarium. Ben had specifically requested to oversee the detention, as he had his doubts that any of his teammates would be tough enough to handle a group of fledging juvenile delinquents.
But Ben was prepared to take on the troublemakers. He had the attendance book tucked under one arm, and he was dressed in a black suit, with the specific intention of showing these kids who was in charge. If he had worn jeans with a football jersey, they would've immediately assumed he was one of them, a friend, not a disciplinarian. Thus he wore a suit and tie to show that he was the boss, he was in authority. They would know right off the bat that he meant business.
A flash of color at the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he stopped abruptly, almost colliding with a young, blonde girl.
"Sorry 'bout that," Ben apologized.
"It's all right." The girl smiled serenely. "I knew you would stop."
Taken aback by the child's response, Ben stared at her. "How?"
The girl twirled her open Hello Kitty umbrella. "I'm Layla Miller. I know stuff." With that conclusion, the girl continued to walk down the hall.
As a native New Yorker, Ben only shook his head, shrugged and proceeded to the classroom.
Ben reached the door, straightened his shoulders, twisted the knob and entered the room.
Ben didn't spare the kids a glance as he purposefully strode over to the desk. "Sit down," he ordered them gruffly.
The scrape of metal against tile screeched as the detentionees pulled out chairs to occupy. Ben settled down at the pristine, mahogany desk, grimacing when it occurred to him that it was going to be a tight squeeze, but he knew he could manage. He opened the attendance book to the list of students, finally glancing up at the group of defiant rebels he was supposed to be baby-sitting.
Instead of desks, there were long tables, and each table could easily seat three students. The tables were arranged in two columns, one on the left, and one on the right, and each column contained three tables. The six kids, who looked to be in their mid-teens, occupied the front tables, having split into two groups of three. The table on the left was centered directly in front of his desk, about six feet away. But not nearly far enough away for Ben's liking.
When he had walked through the door, Ben wasn't quite sure what he expected. Maybe a bunch of loud-mouthed, disrespectful punks, recalcitrant troublemakers, or insolent, spoiled brats who thought that any form of discipline was a personal attack on them.
The kids in the classroom didn't fit any of those descriptions.
Well, maybe a few of them did.
Most of them looked like okay kids, though. Not sluts or druggies, anyway.
But out of all people, Ben was not one to judge by appearance.
"My name is Ben Grimm. You may refer to me as 'Mr. Grimm.' I will be your teacher for the day."
Silence fell as the chatter hushed at this statement. The kids simply stared at him blankly.
"I'm going to take attendance," Ben said. "You know the drill."
A few of the kids nodded, as if they did know, so at least some of them had functioning brain cells.
"Saint John Allerdyce?" Ben glanced at the row kids.
"Actually, it's pronounced 'Sin-jin.'"
Ben glanced up, and a blonde youth clad in a black, leather jacket waved unenthusiastically at him. "Sin-jin" wore a black T-Shirt with the Harley-Davidson logo, faded, black jeans, and an artificial smile.
Barely restraining himself from rolling his eyes, Ben decided to just ignore the kid and move on. "Amara Aquilla?"
"She went on the field trip anyway," declared the Asian-American girl who sat on the far right.
"Why?" Ben demanded.
The girl shrugged. "I don't know. To be honest, I'm kind of glad I don't have to go. Aquariums smell weird."
"But wasn't there someone to monitor the students, and realize that she wasn't supposed to be there?" Ben persisted.
"They left pretty early in the morning," the girl blithely replied. "Maybe they were too tired to tell."
Resisting the urge to sigh, Ben focused on the list. "Anna Marie D'Ancanto?"
"Who the hell is that?" Exclaimed one of the boys whose name Ben hadn't learned yet.
"Bobby, that's Rogue," Saint-John informed him.
"Oh." The boy, apparently Bobby, fell silent.
A low chuckle emitted from the throat of the girl sitting on the far left as she just barely raised a lacy, fingerless glove clad hand to indicate that Ben had called her name.
She appeared to subscribe to some modern subculture, the name of which Ben couldn't recall at the moment. Goth, or punk, or something like that. At any rate, she wore a ruched, blood red shirt beneath a black, corset-like vest. The girl had propped up her feet on the table, providing Ben with a clear view of her long legs, covered by fashionably 'distressed,' black jeans tucked into black, combat boots embroidered with crimson roses, the laces left loose.
Her hair was bound up under the black fedora she wore, deliberately tilted at an angle to obscure most of her face. All Ben could see was the outline of her nose, and her full lips, painted wine red, set upon a nearly cadaverously pale complexion.
For a moment or two, Ben could only gape at this girl, and judging by the other students' expectant expressions, this was not an unforeseen reaction. In all honesty, with her metal jewelry and dark lipstick, the girl looked like one of the undead from Dracula, or something else that a priest would exorcise.
If all these kids were all as weird as this one, Ben suspected that he would eventually adjust and just not notice the strangeness anymore. So, moving right along . . . "Bobby Drake?"
"This guy, right here," said Bobby, smiling. He was sitting next to Saint-John and thankfully, wearing typical teenage clothes: faded, blue jeans and a burgundy, long-sleeved T-Shirt stamped with the Abercrombie & Fitch logo.
His faith in humanity restored, Ben went back to attendance. "Jubilation Lee?"
"Ugh," groaned the Asian-American girl on the other side of St. John. "Please, Mr. Grimm, just call me Jubilee."
The self-nicknamed Jubilee's fashion ensemble of choice consisted of such bright colors it almost hurt Ben's eyes to look at her. She wore an aquamarine and lilac striped shirt that went off one shoulder, allowing view of her lacy, lemon yellow tank top. With her magenta jeans, vivid, floral-patterned ankle boots, and chunky, bohemian jewelry, the girl's unusual outfit was just weird enough to be one of the latest fashion trends, but Ben wouldn't know.
Ben blinked a few times before checking off Jubilee's name, unsure when his vision would recover from the blinding assault of vibrant color. He glanced at the attendance book, hoping that the multi-colored spots he was seeing would diminish in due time. "Jean-Paul Martin?"
"Wow," said Bobby, genuine surprise in his voice. "You actually pronounced J.P.'s name right. I'll have to tell him. Most people don't know how to say it; they just call him 'Jean,' like the girl's name. Or I guess 'Gene,' like the guy's name. Except I've never met a guy named 'Gene.'"
A scoff escaped from the mouth of the goth girl, Anna, or Rogue, or whoever she was, but Ben was too preoccupied at the moment to pay any attention. Ben stared hard at Bobby, trying to judge his truthfulness. The kid gave the impression of sincerity, even if he didn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer. "So this Jean-Paul isn't here, either? What, did he go on the field trip, too?"
"No," Bobby replied nonchalantly. "He's at the medical center. Dr. McCoy asked me to tell you."
"He's at the medical center again?" Questioned the last girl to remain unnamed. She didn't look as if she belonged in detention; in contrast to the other female fashion plates, her outfit was sensible and without flare. She wore a crisp, white blouse under a blue sweater with a white and pink argyle pattern in pale shades, with a matching, pink, pleated skirt. Ben's eyebrows rose in disbelief as he noticed that she was actually wearing penny loafers, something he hadn't ever seen in his life except in movies that took place in the fifties.
"You'd be Kitty Pryde, then?" Ben asked her wearily.
"Yes, sir!" She smiled at him.
Ben glanced at the last student, a tall, muscular teen dressed in khakis and a button down shirt, who had sat silently and watched the others' shenanigans. "Let me guess: Pitor Rasputin?"
Ben received another smile in return. "Yes," Pitor replied, his deep voice accented with what sounded like Russian intonation.
"So what happened to Jean-Paul?" Kitty asked Bobby.
"I bet he finally caught an STD," Jubilee speculated. "That boy sleeps with anything that moves."
"He's not that bad," Saint-John said, defending the reputation of the absent student.
"Um, hello? The entire reason J.P. is here because he was expelled from his previous school!" Jubilee corrected him.
"What was he expelled for?" Kitty questioned, wide-eyed.
"Back in September at his boarding school, there was a new teacher, a pretty, young thing, maybe twenty-six years old. Apparently, both she and Jean-Paul liked what they were seeing, and so they started a teacher-student romance." Jubilee's eyes sparked with mischief as she spoke.
"Wait a minute," Ben objected. "This is detention. Don't any of you have work to be doing?"
Five pairs of eyes focused on him (The one girl still kept her fedora down over her face), but it was Saint-John who responded.
"Mr. Summers told us that he gave you a list of our assignments for the day, and that you would tell us what we had to do."
"What?" Ben demanded. Immediately, he began checking the desk and attendance book to make sure he hadn't missed anything. Unfortunately, he was too busy looking for the paper to tell the students to be quiet, which meant he had to listen to their inane conversation.
"So Jean-Paul slept with one person. That doesn't really make him man whore," Saint-John objected.
"How about sleeping with the next twenty-something lady who came to replace the first teacher?" Jubilee raised an eyebrow.
"Why would someone even do that?" Kitty asked disgustedly.
"Well, some of the teachers here can be pretty hot," Bobby informed her. "Like Ms. Munroe, Ms. Frost, and Ms. Grey."
"Damn straight." Saint-John exchanged a high-five with Bobby.
Jubilee shrugged. "I think he probably did it for a grade more than anything else. Being a model and all, he's always flying out of the country to do fashion shoots in Spain or France, so he most likely just didn't want to have to finish his schoolwork. In his defense, that stuff can really pile up."
"Why is Jean-Paul in the medical center?" Pitor queried.
"I guess not eating or sleeping finally caught up with him, because he collapsed," Bobby said seriously. "But Dr. McCoy said he would be okay."
"Well, that's a relief," Jubilee said, nodding. "I wouldn't want one of the best looking guys at the Institute to kick the bucket, even if J.P. can be a bastard sometimes."
"'Sometimes'?" Bobby echoed incredulously.
"Is that why J.P. is so pale?" Kitty wondered. "He doesn't eat or sleep?"
"Jeez, when you put it that way, J.P. sounds like some sort of pansy, half-assed vampire," Jubilee said scornfully. "Next thing you know he'll begin to sparkle, and lose all common sense, and fall for some whiny, self-centered teenager."
"Personally, I see J.P. as a more traditional vampire, if he was one," Saint-John replied. "Much more badass. And from what you said, his taste is for older women, anyway."
"I think he's just that pale naturally," Bobby told Kitty. "Although, you're right; not eating or sleeping could play a role in his extremely pale skin. But honestly, I always assumed his alabaster complexion went along with his unparalleled, breathtaking beauty." He noticed Jubilee's and Saint-John's stares of disbelief. "What?"
Saint-John coughed delicately. "Sounds like you have quite the fixation with J.P, there, Bobby."
"Jean-Paul Martin is an enigma that I intend to decipher," Bobby said defensively.
"Why doesn't he eat or sleep, again?" Kitty questioned. "I mean, is there a reason for his unusual behavior?"
"Are you naturally pale, Rogue?" Pitor questioned the goth girl in a low tone.
Ever so slightly, the girl nodded her head, with as minimal movement as possible.
Thankfully, Ben at last found the list of assignments. Quickly, his blue eyes scanned the text. "Okay, listen up, all of you!" He commanded. "Summers said that he left all of you a packet of worksheets from of all of your classes for you to work on. So hit the books."
Jubilee and Bobby chose to convey their disdain with loud groans, while Saint-John just scowled. Pitor and Kitty exchanged a smile, and the fedora still cast a shadow over the one girl's face, shrouding her expression, whatever it might've been.
The students reached for textbooks and folders, except for the goth girl, who didn't so much as twitch.
Ben eyed her distastefully for a full ten seconds before curtly ordering her, "Take your feet off the table."
Unexpectedly, the girl heeded his command, and even opened a (Surprise, surprise) black folder speckled with silver Sharpie doodles, and removed the packet of papers. She leisurely flipped through the pages, giving Ben a clear view of each paper, every one of which had already been completed in old-fashioned, spidery handwriting.
The fedora turned toward him slightly, and Ben received the distinct impression that the teen was looking at him. He was sorely tempted to give a sarcastic wave, but instead did his best estimate where her eyes were and hold her gaze. But within seconds, the girl had resumed staring straight ahead at the wall, fedora still hiding her face.
So. The goth kid, supposed rebel to all authority, was actually a star student. Who would've guessed?
Still, Ben wasn't exactly feeling charitable towards those kids. Especially when he had inadvertently overheard their conversation. Mutants may have been the next step in evolution, but teenagers were still degenerates as far as he was concerned.
Still, none of them had remarked on his appearance. Hell, none of them had even reacted to him at all. While they hadn't exactly respected him, they had just treated him the way they would've treated any other substitute teacher. Not with actual contempt, but with nonchalance and informality. Just like they would normally deal with any other adult authority figure.
Ben smiled, just a little bit.
Maybe, in the end, these mutant kids weren't so bad.
My Rogue is sort of a weird blend of Evo!Rogue and a few of the comics, such as Exiles. I didn't really like Movie!Rogue, who, thanks to the writers, was kind of wimpy. And I specifically did not have her speak in this story because too many of my stories center on Rogue, and I wanted this story to be about everybody, and because this is form of protest against her written-out Southern dialect, which I find really irksome. Anyone else, or is it just me?
And yes, I know that Jean-Paul's real name is Jean-Paul Beaubier and that he is not into women, but Jubilee has the right idea about him. (See above). In the future.I'll be writing more about Jean-Paul and his fake name. Note the Spanish teacher, who I am planning on making Annie Ghazikhanian. It wouldn't be her first creepy romance with an X-Man.
This story served no true purpose but to establish my characterization for the X-Men: Movie! universe and to show wacky hijinks of mutant teenagers through the eyes of another hero in the Marvel universe.