AN:

This is an AU. None of the characters have met each other prior to the start of the story unless otherwise stated. Everyone has their respective mutant abilities. Also, everyone is 21 or older.

About half of the backgrounds for the characters have been taken straight from their comic-canon history. I.e, Jean Grey really did work as a swim suit model at one point, Toad really did do things with robots. In some cases I've stretched things: Kitty can dance, but to my knowledge has never done so professionally, likewise with Jubilee and gymnastics.

Some people may disagree with my choices for Beauties and Geeks. The fact is that a lot of the characters from X-menEvolution can easily fit under either label.

The challenges have been taken from the show itself (both American and Australia versions), either completely or some variation thereof. I didn't invent new challenges partly because I'm lazy, but mostly because the existing challenges were what inspired me to write this story in the first place.

Also, I admit to shamelessly stealing most of the questions for the elimination rounds from the show.

[Insert obligatory disclaimer about lack of association or ownership of Marvel characters and the show Beauty and the Geek here]

Updates will be once every two days.

Enjoy!


Episode 1

The limousine came to a stop outside of the mansion and Gambit opened the door. He stepped out and looked at the mansion where he and his two companions would be staying for at least the next week and was unimpressed. Maybe Lance and Pietro were wowed by what Gambit liked to refer to as a 'McMansion', but he firmly believed it had nothing on the exquisite charm of the LeBeau estate back in New Orleans.

There was one other limousine in the driveway, and standing scattered in front of it was seven of their other housemates. Seven fashionably-dressed, skinny women. Perhaps Gambit was jaded from one too many one-night-stands, but the only words that came to mind were 'standard fare'.

Gambit had never intended on being a contestant on BeautyandtheGeek. In fact, he'd never even heard of the show until his girlfriend at the time mentioned it and then promptly dragged him along to one of the open auditions. Actually, the audition hadn't been all that bad; he rather enjoyed pretending to be the dumb male equivalent of the girl who had been hanging off his arm. No doubt the ditzy girl would be furious when she found out he'd gotten a spot and she hadn't.

As the crew gathered everyone together for a group shot, Gambit mulled over how if it hadn't been for Mercy seeing the acceptance letter, he sure wouldn't have gone through with it. Unfortunately, his loud-mouth, conniving sister-in-law made sure everyone found out. With all the teasing, taunting and challenging that went on, Gambit felt he had no choice but to see this through.

After the group shots were done, each Beauty did a brief interview, and then they were all directed inside. They were informed that the Geeks would be arriving soon and then they were left to their own devices. The ten looked at each other.

The bubbly, professional dancer, Kitty began chatting giddily with the red-headed swimsuit model, Jean, and professional shopper, Tabitha. Gymnast Jubilee and beautician Amanda latched onto Pietro, and the ice skater welcomed their attention. Lance, flair bartender, likewise became involved with cocktail waitress Wanda and the young Amara, whose claim to fame was sorority girl.


Spyke, as host of the show, stepped into the study where the ten 'Geeks' had gathered.

"All right," he said to get their attention in case he didn't already have it. "This series the Beauties will be the ones getting to select their partners, so you'll all be going one by one into the next room to present yourselves. Just give an introduction, share something about yourself, whatever you want. Then you wait by the stairs in the foyer, they'll talk it over and someone will come out and that someone will be your partner. We're going to go two men, a woman, two men, a woman, two men, a woman, a man. Got it?"

The Geeks gave their affirmative.

"Okay, and now we're just going to film me giving you your official welcome," Spyke said with a grin, "so please excuse me with I re-enter the room."

There was some laughter while Spyke departed. He waited until he got the cue from the director and then stepped back in through the curtain.

"Gentlemen, ladies," Spyke said to the attentive listeners. "You're all here because you're all highly intelligent on the academic level. In the next room there are ten incredibly attractive people, seven women and three men, who are also highly intelligent, but on the social level. Now, each one of you is going to be partnered with one of these Beauties and help them learn the skills they need to succeed outside of the social scene, while they will be teaching you the skill you need to succeed onthe social scene. The team that makes the greatest transformation will win $250,000."

Spyke smiled at the suitably pleased reaction he got from the Geeks.

"So, one at a time each of you is going to go out there and introduce yourself and then the Beauties will decide which one they want to partner with," he said. "Who wants to go first?"

Silence.

"Well," said Kurt bravely into the awkward silence. "I guess I will."

x-x-x

Kurt took a deep breath as he stepped into the lounge room. He mentally told himself that this was no different from the circus and there was no reason for him to be nervous.

"Greetings fair maidens," Kurt said grandiosely, and a couple of the Beauties giggled. "My name is Kurt, but in the circus I was known as the Incredible Nightcrawler. I performed acts of acrobatic daring on a nightly basis."

Going by his brightly coloured, flamboyant clothes, Kitty was fully prepared to believe he had been in the circus.

"I have since left the circus," Kurt went on, "and I am now studying Theology."

"Theo-what?" Tabitha asked.

"Theology. I study Christianity."

"Oh...right."

Kurt paused, feeling like he should add something more. "I hope that one of you lovely ladies would find it in your heart to shepherd this here poor man in the ways of social prowess. Uhh...I'll just meet you outside, I guess."

There was some gentle laughter as Kurt scurried from the room. Kurt tried not to feel like he had screwed up at the end there.

"He's cute," Amanda said. "Can I have him? You mind?"

"No, go right ahead," Kitty replied.

"Yay."

Amanda stood and made her way out the door. She met Kurt at the base of the staircase.

"Hi, I'm Amanda," she said.

"Hi," Kurt replied shyly.

"Wanna go pick out our room?"

"Yeah... that might be a good idea, huh?"

The pair made their way up the stairs and headed down one of the halls. On the way they passed by one room that was marked "Reserved".

"Okay," said Kurt, scratching his head. "I wonder what it's reserved for?"

"Oh who cares?" Amanda replied. "I'm sure we'll find out later if it's important."

x-x-x

"Hi," said Scott, looking at the Beauties through his red quartz glasses. "My name's Scott. I'm an astrophysicist."

"What's that?" asked Jubilee.

"It's the study of the physics of astronomical objects," Scott explained. "I'm also a pilot and I make model aeroplanes."

There was a pause and then Scott turned and left.

"Little stiff, wasn't he?" Jean said with a sniff.

"Yeah," Tabitha agreed with a giggle. "I think he needs some loosening up, right? And who better than me!"

No one objected as Tabitha bounded from the room.

x-x-x

Rahne walked into the room, looked at everyone, her eyes falling on the three attractive guys in turn. She licked her lips nervously.

"Hi," Kitty said encouragingly. "I'm Kitty, and you are?"

"Rahne," she replied tentatively. "Umm, ahh... I'm studying to be a veterinarian. Oh and I can shape shift into a wolf."

"Wild thing huh?" Pietro asked.

Rahne stammered and blushed furiously. "Umm, bye."

Gambit chuckled as she dashed from the room.

"Dibs," said Pietro and zipped out of the room before anyone could blink.

Gambit and Lance looked at each other. Lance just shrugged.

x-x-x

"G'day mates," said Pyro as he played with a lighter. "The name's Pyro. I'm a bookworm and I write fantasy and science fiction novels for a crust."

There was silence as the Beauties regarded the shaggy-haired Australian, in his bright orange and red clothes.

"I also love to burn things," Pyro went on, "as you may have guessed from the name. Fire is my greatest love. I love her."

He seemed to notice that everyone was staring at him.

"Ahem, yes, well... Thanks for listening to me," he said.

Pyro departed as quickly as he arrived and Amara clapped her hands and giggled.

"I love his accent!" she exclaimed. "I want him."

Amara was up and out of the room before anyone else could get a word in.

x-x-x

Piotr lifted a nervous hand to the door. It opened slowly, he swallowed, peered inside, immediately freaked out and shut the door again. Why was he doing this? There may have only been four of the girls left but they were all gorgeous and he was a nervous wreck. Knowing he had to go through with it, Piotr took a deep breath and opened the door again. This time he got as far as one foot through the door before he freaked out once again. He didn't get a chance to work up the nerve a third time, as Gambit, feeling sorry for him, opened the door up wide and held out a hand.

"Bonjour mon ami," Gambit said, holding out his hand to him. "I'm Remy, and you are?"

"Piotr," he replied, finding it easier to talk to Gambit and shake his offered hand than to face the girls.

"Pleasure to meet you," Gambit said, drawing Piotr inside and shutting the door behind him. "I'm a self-professed playboy, what about you?"

Well, it would hardly do to admit on national television that he was a world-class thief.

"Oh, uhh, I'm an artist," Piotr replied.

"Painting, sculpture...?"

"Paintings," Piotr said, finding himself feeling a little calmer, like the edge of his anxiety had been taken off. "Mostly landscapes but I prefer portraits. On canvas."

"Love to see your work sometime," Gambit replied cheerfully.

"Oh, uhh, s-sure," Pior responded. "Uhh..."

He dared to look around the room.

"Thank you," he stammered out and promptly bolted.

"Wow," said Wanda. "He was really nervous."

"Is it just me, or did he look green?" asked Jubilee.

"That was nice of you to give him a little morale support, Remy," Jean said.

Gambit shrugged.

"It was either that or wait for him to work up the nerve to walk in here by himself," Gambit replied. "And at the rate things were going, that was going to take awhile. So, which one of you femmes wants the challenge of turning the mouse into a man?"

Kitty giggled.

"I think he's sweet," she said. "I'll take him."

x-x-x

X-23 entered the room and stood at ease with her eyes firmly planted on the back wall.

"I am Laura," she informed them. "I am trained in multiple forms of martial arts, weapons, fluent in French and Japanese and I excel in maths, modern history, biology..."

The Beauties listened, a little weirded out while X-23 rattled off her achievements in a very solider-like manner.

"So what do you do for fun, chérie?" asked Gambit.

X-23 blinked and then answered "Chess".

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Gambit asked, and then gave her a mock salute. "You're dismissed."

X-23 gave a brisk nod and departed. Everyone looked at Gambit who was laughing.

"You're dismissed?" Jean repeated disapprovingly.

"So Lance," Gambit said, ignoring Jean's comment. "Do you want the military brat, or do you want to take a gamble on the last fille?"

"Fille?" Lance asked, frowning.

"Girl," Gambit said. "French for girl."

"Oh, right. Well, umm, I'll take the gamble, I guess," Lance replied.

"All right then," Gambit replied.

He slid from his chair and sauntered out the door. X-23 was standing at attention at the base of the stairs. This was either going to be lots of fun, or it was seriously going to suck.

"Bonjour ma chérie," Gambit said suavely, taking X-23's hand and kissing it, much to her confusion, based on the puzzled expression on her face. "My name is Remy."

X-23 gave another nod. "We should select our room."

"Of course," Gambit replied, slipping his arm about her waist as they started up the stairs.

"Why is your hand on the small of my back?" X-23 asked.

"I'm being a gentleman and helping you up the stairs," Gambit replied.

"I do not require assistance."

"I can see that."

"Then why do you persist?"

"Because I'm a gentleman."

"I do not understand."

Gambit chuckled as they reached the top of the stairs. "I believe that's the whole point of you being here, chère."

x-x-x

"Hi my name's Fred," Fred said awkwardly to the slowly shrinking group of Beauties. "Uhh, I'm a professional gamer."

"A professional gamer?" Wanda repeated sceptically. "What, you're a pool shark or something?"

"No," Fred shook his head. "I play video games. Halo mostly. I enter gaming tournaments to win prizes and stuff."

"Oh... right..."

"Umm, yeah," Fred said and scratched his head. "Uhh, I guess that's it. Bye."

The girls looked at each other as Fred departed. Jean sighed into the silence that followed.

"I'll take him," she said resignedly.

x-x-x

"Hi ladies," Bobby said. "I'm Bobby and I'm doing an accounting major."

"So you're really good at math?" Jubilee asked.

"Yep," Bobby replied proudly. "I also collect comic books."

Awkward silence.

"Well, thank you," said Wanda.

"Oh, right," said Bobby and he departed.

"Well," said Jubilee. "I really suck at maths, so I claim him."

"Go right ahead," said Wanda.

x-x-x

Rogue stepped into the room and Lance raised his eyebrows at the sight of her dressed head to toe in black and purple with pale skin, a studded dog collar, and heavy, dark makeup.

"I'm Rogue," she said. "I'm a test pilot, I have a degree in aerospace engineering. I'm a motorcycle buff and I play guitar. I'm also untouchable. As in, do not touch my skin if you want to live."

"Come again?" Lance asked.

"I can't control my mutation," Rogue said shortly. "Even a brief touch will—at best—make you dizzy. I can and have put people into comas before, sometimes for years."

Rogue stopped silent, then turned on her heel and left. Lance looked at Wanda, who shrugged. With a sigh, Lance walked out.

"Hi, I'm Lance," he said as he met her at the stairs.

"Hi," Rogue replied shortly. "We have a room reserved."

"We do?" Lance asked as they started up to the next floor.

"Yep," Rogue drawled. "Had to make sure I got a room with separate beds."

"Oh. Right."

x-x-x

"Hey babycakes, I'm Toad," Toad said as the final Geek to enter the room. "I build robots."

Wanda looked over Toad and fought to keep from turning up her nose. Toad babbled on some more about the robots he liked to build but all Wanda could think about was how desperately this guy needed a bath. Finally he left and Wanda took a deep breath of fresh air before going out to introduce herself. She had a feeling she was going to be spending a lot of time outside and upwind.


Partners and rooms now picked, the Beauties and the Geeks moved in their gear and unpacked. An exploration of the house was then required: locating the kitchen and the dining room, other living areas all the bathrooms and of course, going outside where the pool and the hot tub were. Rogue made certain to inform the other Beauties of her 'no touching' situation, as she had the Geeks earlier.

To celebrate their first night in the mansion, it was deemed that a pool party was necessary. There was champagne and the only meal the residents could expect to have made for them outside of a challenge for the duration of their stay.

Much to the appreciation of the male residents, the female beauties all came out in their bikinis, Rahne wore a one-piece, feeling rather self conscious about the whole thing. She felt a little inadequate next to the female Beauties. Rogue and X-23 didn't bother changing at all, instead they engaged in a game of chess by the poolside.

All the guys wore board shorts, with the exceptions of Fred, Piotr, Pyro, and Toad, who stayed in their normal clothes. Kurt turned out to be the hairiest Geek of the lot, and between that and his pointed ears, Amanda and Kitty affectionately nicknamed him "Fuzzy Elf."

Bobby eyes the male Beauties with envy. He worked out. Occasionally. Okay, never. It was obvious that Gambit, Lance and Pietro worked out a lot though. Lance, being the body builder, was noticeably larger than his fellow Beauties. Gambit had a few scars across his body, but somehow they seemed sexy rather than blemishes. Bobby sighed in disappointment as he watched the Beauties flirt with each other and came to the conclusion that the only way any of the male Geeks was going to have a chance with the female Beauties was if they got rid of all the male Beauties first.

"Hey you deux," Gambit said, leaning over the chess board, a glass of champagne in his hand. "This is a party."

"You play games at parties don't you?" Rogue retorted.

"Oui, but not geeky games like chess," Gambit replied.

"What games do you play at parties?" X-23 asked.

"Truth or dare!" Jubilee declared giddily.

"Spin the Bottle?" Rogue suggested, throwing Jubilee a dark look.

Gambit laughed. "I'll kiss you, chère. Don't need to play a game for that."

"Uh huh," Rogue drawled as she started floating up in the air, much to the amazement of everyone watching. "So, what are your mutant powers, sugah? Or is it just the eyes?"

"I was not aware that you could levitate," X-23 said.

"Four years ago I completely stripped my best friend of her powers," Rogue said coolly, her eyes on Gambit's glowing ones. "It was an accident, but it put her into a coma for three years. Still interested in kissing me?"

Gambit reached out, took Rogue's hand and pressed it to his lips.

"Tada," he said with a smirk.

Rogue ripped her hand away, stepped back down to the floor and stalked back into the house. Gambit watched her admiringly.

"Oh, she's going to be fun," Gambit said gleefully.

"Fun?" Jubilee said. "She's freaky."

"She needs a good makeover," said Amanda. "Or rather a make-under."

"Yeah," Kitty said. "Like, could she have any more caked on? Seriously."

"Oooh, Rahne," Tabitha said. "We should make you up."

The look on Rahne's face was reminiscent of a deer caught in headlights.


Gambit had never been a heavy sleeper so when X-23 got out of bed and started moving about at five o'clock in the morning, he had no choice but to wake up. He took a moment to orient to himself to the unfamiliar surroundings and finally focused on X-23 getting ready. Gambit glanced at the clock and promptly swore at the early hour.

X-23 glanced at him, but wasn't really sure what the right response was supposed to be. So she said nothing and went about her daily routine, starting with her warm ups.

"Do you have to do that right now?" Gambit grumbled from his bed.

"Yes," she replied.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?"

"It is three minutes past five."

"Yeah, exactly. I'm trying to sleep here," he said, then sighed in aggravation, knowing there was no getting back to sleep now. "You know what? Forget it."

X-23 continued with her exercises in perplexed silence as Gambit got out of bed and stormed into the bathroom. By the time Gambit emerged, X-23 was gone. Being awake now, Gambit did a few exercises of his own, then took a shower before going about his morning primping. That chest hair didn't wax itself.

Finally, Gambit headed down to the kitchen to make breakfast. He figured since he was up so early he may as well make something for everyone. He sniffed with disdain at the pre-packaged pancake mix that was in the cupboard, and promptly went about making a nice big batch of pancake mix from scratch.

"Wow," said Jubilee when she came down some time later, "you can cook, huh?"

"Whatever gave it away?" Gambit asked with a grin as he gestured to the pancakes. "Help yourself."

"Thanks."

Jubilee was not the only one appreciative of Gambit's efforts, even X-23, whom Gambit had half expected to complain about lack of nutritional value or something. Instead, she heaped up her pancakes with a lot of cream and maple syrup, and some choc-drops one of the other girls had located in the kitchen.

Then Rogue appeared and the dining room went quiet.

"Bonjour chérie," Gambit greeted as soon as he realised the reason for the silence. "Pancakes?"

Rogue looked at him coolly, seemingly unperturbed by the reaction of the room.

"Sure," she said finally, taking a seat by the bench. "Thanks."

"No problem," Gambit replied as he slid a plate over to her. "Maple syrup? Whipped cream?"

"Just maple syrup," she said.

Gambit passed her the bottle. "Bon appetit."

Rogue inclined her head and the room went about their chatter. Gambit eyes narrowed as he realised that Lance and everyone else who entered the room after Rogue made sure they didn't sit anywhere near her. He wondered if that was a normal reaction for Rogue.


It wasn't until after breakfast that Wanda finally had a chance to pull Pietro aside privately.

"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded.

"Same thing you are," Pietro replied. "The money. And to pick up chicks, which, okay, I'm guessing you're not here for that—"

"What the hell, Pietro?" Wanda snapped at him, shaking her finger. "You knew I was auditioning for the show! Why do you always have to spoil everything?"

"Hey, if you don't ask..."

"I hate you."

"I hate you more."


After a morning of mucking around, the Beauties and the Geeks gathered in the study. There were a couple of lounges, and some tall stools had been brought in to provide extra seats. On the desk behind which Spyke stood was a pile of books and a couple of discs.

"So," said Spyke after everyone had settled themselves, "how did you guys enjoy your first night in the mansion?"

He nodded with a smile on his face as the affirmatives came his way.

"Ready for your first challenge?" Spyke asked and then grinned at the enthusiastic response. "All right, Beauties, today you'll get to learn all about politics and economics."

"Eco-what?" asked Jubilee

"Economics," Spyke repeated. "And pay attention because you're going to have to give a speech on a specific topic to be given at random."

There was some grumbling amongst the Beauties.

"Geeks, you too will be standing up in front of an audience," Sypke went on, "doing karaoke."

A mix of laughter, groans and whimpering followed

"Okay, these are your study materials," Spyke went on, grinning at the reaction as he gestured to a number of books and folders. "Good luck."

x-x-x

"Performing in front of crowd doesn't bother me," Kurt said with a sigh as the music came to an end. "It's just a shame I can't sing."

Amanda chuckled and pressed the back button on the CD play in their room.

"But you've got the moves," she said. "And if no one else can sing, then it'll probably come down to who puts on the best performance."

"I hope so."

x-x-x

Amara looked at her books with irritation.

"What do you say we burn these?" she asked.

"Please, don't toy with me," Pyro replied.

x-x-x

"Don't stand there so stiff," Tabitha insisted, glaring at Scott while her hips rocked to the beat of the music. "It's karaoke, you're supposed to have fun with it."

"I'm not much of a dancer," Scott said. "Or a singer either."

"Whatever," Tabitha dismissed as she rubbed her body against his in her dancing. "If you act boring you will be boring. Have fun and everyone else will have fun too."

x-x-x

Gambit listened as X-23 attempted to sing.

"Uhh chère," he said finally. "You do know you're supposed to sing the words, not speak them?"

"I thought that was what I was doing," X-23 said, giving Gambit a perplexed look.

"Your diction is very good, but when you sing you don't chop off your words like that. Here, let me demonstrate."

x-x-x

"Ugh," Amanda said at the dining table with the girls, snapping the book shut. "My head is swimming."

"I know what you mean," Jubilee sighed. "It's just going way over my head."

"Let's take this to the pool, shall we ladies?" Jean said.

"Sounds like a good plan to me," said Kitty.

x-x-x

Rogue was not impressed when she came out of the bathroom to discover that Lance had taken off. She'd just spent all that time helping Lance with his—while he spent most of his time sitting at the far end of the room—and now that it was her turn, he'd taken off. If anything, it was more important that Lance help her, seeing as the Beauties had been told they would be joining the Geeks onstage.

Rogue sighed and put the CD on. The song was Dazzler's "Mojoworld." Rogue was a big Dazzler fan, so she already knew all the words. Rogue wasn't a dancer though. If she could play her guitar rather than dance she would, but she wasn't allowed.

x-x-x

"Ugh," Wanda said, half sitting, half collapsing down next to Tabitha at the table. "I'm so glad to be away from Toad's screeching. Actually I'm just glad to be away from Toad, period."

"Ha, yeah," Tabitha agreed as she glanced up from her books. "You have my sympathies on so many levels."

"Appreciated."

x-x-x

Piotr was glad that Kitty was off studying with the other girls. He felt much more secure singing alone in the bedroom.

x-x-x

"So, how's it going?" Bobby asked as Toad came hopping into the kitchen.

"I think I've got this," Toad said confidently.

"Yep, me too."

x-x-x

"You should do some sexy dance moves," Pietro advised. "It's a sexy song, you should dance the same way."

"Oh...okay," Rahne said. "How do I do that?"

x-x-x

"Hello ladies," Lance said, swaggering out to the pool. "Mind if I join you?"

"Oh please do," Kitty replied.

...

The following day the group was taken to a public hall, full of people, for the Beauties challenge. On stage were two podiums and Spyke announced to the crowd and the contestants that the Beauties would be debating. Backstage, the Beauties regarded each other anxiously. In the front row, to the left of the judges, the Geeks looked apprehensive.

"First up, Kitty for the affirmative and Jubilee for the negative," Spyke said as the respective girls took their places on stage. "Your topic: Capitalism is better than Socialism."

Piotr and Bobby glanced at each other. Kitty looked out at the crowd and swallowed.

"Uhh, well," she said tentatively, "I think that..."

x-x-x

"... and then all the adults will lose their jobs to like, kids who don't know any better and will work really cheap, and I don't know about you, but I really don't want some little kid cutting my hair," said Amanda during her debate with Pietro.

Rahne smiled encouragingly at Kurt. She wished Pietro was doing better in the debate. Unfortunately, he talked so fast no one was really sure what he was saying, including the judges. When it came time for her rebuttal, Amanda had no idea what she was supposed to say.

x-x-x

Fred cringed and Pyro tried to resist the urge to bury his head in shame while Jean and Amara debated whether they should have abolish the death penalty or not. Amara seemed to be confused about what side she was arguing, which in turn, confused Jean and they ended up debating the opposite of what they were supposed to.

x-x-x

Scott watched in delight as Tabitha and Gambit debated onstage. It was obvious to Scott that Gambit hadn't studied as much as he should have; he was arguing the negative so badly, he was practically feeding Tabitha lines. It came as no surprise to Scott that Tabitha won their debate and he had high hopes for the rest of the challenge.

x-x-x

Wanda and Lance debated whether cosmetic surgery should be banned. Although Lance was supposed to be arguing that it should be banned, his arguments were weak, no doubt because he didn't really believe it should be.

x-x-x

At the end, the rest of the Beauties joined Wanda and Lance on stage.

"All right," said Spyke, "Judges, your decision."

"First I'd like to congratulate all of you for getting up there and giving it a go," said the head judge. "But there was one of you who did very well; you were clear, concise and you successfully managed to counter your opponent's arguments. With that in mind, we declared the winner to be...Tabitha."

Tabitha squealed and jumped up and down on the spot. Kurt nudged Scott.

"Go congratulate her," Kurt said.

"Oh, right," Scott said.

He stood and headed over to the stage, stepped up and held his hand out to Tabitha. Tabitha ignored his hand and jumped up on him instead, arms around his neck and legs around his waist. Scott needed to take a few moments to orient himself so he didn't fall backwards off the stage. Chuckling followed.

"Okay, Beauties, if you would like to sit down, and Geeks, if you would like to go backstage," said Sypke. "The karaoke challenge will begin shortly."

x-x-x

Bobby was under no delusions about his ability to sing. So what he lacked in talent, he made up for by clowning around with Jubilee in their dancing. At one point Bobby started ad libbing some dance moves and Jubilee laughed so much she couldn't dance any more.

x-x-x

Fred sang while doing his version of dancing, which mostly came in the form of wiggling his butt every now and then. Jean danced nearby, and hoped that her smooth moves and the fact that Fred could sing in tune, if nothing else, would give them a chance.

x-x-x

Rogue smiled at the applause she got and tucked her hair behind her ear. She managed a thank you before departing the stage with Lance ten steps behind her. He had spent most of the performance just bobbing away to the beat while Rogue didn't bother dancing at all. It just wasn't her thing. Hopefully, the fact that she had the best voice so far would count for something.

x-x-x

Piotr stepped onto the stage and swallowed hard, seeing all the faces in the audience. The music began, but his mouth felt dry and the words refused to come out. Kitty did a few ballet moves beside him, wishing she could voice something encouraging, but the Beauties weren't allowed to talk (or sing) during the performance. He finally found his voice somewhere during the first chorus, and demonstrated quite a sweet sound.

x-x-x

Kurt and Amanda turned their dance into a story. Amanda hoped that Kurt's clever theatrics would be enough to counter his lack of singing ability.

x-x-x

Despite his efforts to the contrary, X-23 continued speaking the words rather than singing them. Her dancing was pretty stiff too, although Gambit did do his best to disguise that.

x-x-x

Wanda tried very hard not to go through the entire performance with a wince on her face at Toad's screeching. There was no hiding her look of disgust when Toad decided to improvise during the instrumental with some tongue action.

x-x-x

Pyro was somewhat disappointed he wasn't allowed to use pyrotechnics in his performance. He was sure he would have felt a lot more confident with the flames by his sides, especially as they would distract everyone from what he knew was bad singing. Amara was disappointed for similar reasons. Still, they had fun.

x-x-x

Rahne felt like a nervous wreck on stage. She felt really weird dancing the raunchy moves Pietro had taught her, even his he was dancing just as provocatively beside her. She knew her face went bright red when she got a couple of wolf whistles, including one from Gambit.

x-x-x

Scott stood stiffly on stage, feeling completely out of his element. He knew he couldn't sing. He was just making a fool of himself in public and it didn't help that Tabitha's dancing involved rubbing up against his body every now and then. That was just awkward.

x-x-x

"Okay the votes are in," said Spyke. "The audience has decided. And the winner is, with fifty-two percent of the vote...Rahne."

Rahne clapped her hands over her mouth and her eyes lit up with joy. She and Pietro walked back onstage and Pietro whirled her around in excitement.

"Congratulations," said Spyke. "Rahne, you and Pietro, and Tabitha and Scott, have now won immunity. You have also won the ability to send two teams into the elimination room tomorrow night."


The following day, while all the teams were studying just in case they were sent to the elimination room, Rahne, Pietro, Tabitha and Scott got together to discuss who they actually would send to the elimination room.

"Well," said Scott thoughtfully, "strategically we should probably consider how everyone performed during the last challenge and—"

"Forget that strategic nonsense," Tabitha cut in. "I say we vote out Wanda and Toad. No offence to Wanda or anything, but Toad's stinky and I hate being in the same room with him."

"You hate being in the same room with him?" Rahne asked. "Do you have any idea how good a wolf's sense of smell is? I'm afraid to morph!"

"If we're going to do this on an 'I don't like' basis, then I guess we're getting rid of Rogue and Lance," said Pietro. "Rogue's a freak."

"Aww, do we really have to get rid of Lance?" asked Tabitha. "He's hot."

"He's hot?" Pietro asked challengingly.

"You're hot too. I'm all for all the hot guys staying in the house," Tabitha said with a nod.

"Nice to know. I still want to get rid of Rogue. And Wan—Toad. I want to get rid of Toad."

"Well, if you send Wanda, Toad, Rogue and Lance to elimination," Scott said as he picked up pen and paper, "you're only going to get rid of one team, not both."

"And the team that comes back might holding a grudge," Rahne added cautiously.

"Blah," Tabitha dismissed.

"I'm just saying," Scott went on, "that if you really want to get rid of, say, Wanda and Toad—"

"Yes!" Rahne said.

"Definitely," Tabitha added.

"No argument here," Pietro said.

"—then, strategically, our best bet would be to put them up against a team that we think would beat them," Scott said. "I think we should go over the performances of everyone during the competition and decide who we think would have the best chance."


"Thanks so much for helping me study," Wanda said to Gambit. "I just know I'm going to end up in the elimination room, and I don't want to be sent home."

"Of course you don't, chère," Gambit replied. "I don't either."

"No one does," Wanda said and then sighed. "I really want to be able to make the most of this experience and I just...I just had to get stuck with the guy who attracts flies."

Gambit chuckled sympathetically. "And eats them."

"Ugh, don't remind me."

"Come on, let's get started."

They opened up their books and began going through the study materials together. Gambit was sure that Wanda's assessment about being sent to the elimination room was quite correct, especially considering that—at this stage of the game—there was very little differentiating one team from another as far as ability was concerned. He had no idea who else would be sent up, but in any case, Gambit felt that the best strategy was to make friends with any team that could be considered an 'underdog'. After all, people would be more inclined to send people they didn't like as much to the elimination room over those they were friends with.

Gambit knew the material a lot better than he pretended to. It had been so easy to twist the debate, leaving open huge holes in his argument just for Tabitha to pounce on. He had no doubts about his ability to survive elimination in the event that he and X-23 got sent there. Gambit wasn't entirely sure what the odds were they'd be the second team. What he could do, was help Wanda study. If she and Toad lost elimination, then they lost, and no harm was done. If they won, however, then he and X-23 had gained a potential ally.


Shortly after dinner—another culinary delight from Gambit—the housemates gathered in their pairs on the stairs. Tabitha and Scott, and Rahne and Pietro stood on either side of Spyke.

"Tabitha," said Spyke, "you won the debate challenge, granting you and Scott immunity and the chance to send one team to the elimination room."

Tabitha nodded solemnly.

"Rahne, you won the karaoke challenge," Spyke went on, "also gaining immunity for yourself and Pietro, and the chance to send one team to the elimination room."

Rahne took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Rahne," Spyke went on, "who have you and Pietro chosen to send to the elimination room?"

Rahne looked at Pietro. He shrugged.

"Well," Rahne said tentatively, "we chose Wanda and Toad."

Toad looked crestfallen while Wanda pressed her lips tightly together. Stupid twin brother always spoiling things for her.

"What made you decide on Wanda and Toad?" Spyke asked.

Rahne's throat went dry. He wasn't really going to make her say it, was he?

"We just don't think they fit in with the rest of us," Pietro said.

"That's crap," Wanda snapped at him. "You just want to get rid of us because Toad smells like a pig pen."

Toad bowed his head and stared at the floor in front of him.

"Toad?" Spyke asked. "Did you have anything you wanted to say?"

Toad just shook his head.

"Tabitha," Spyke said when there was no other response. "Who have you and Scott chosen to send to the elimination room?"

"This was a really hard decision because we've hardly gotten to know each other, and there was so many of you to choose from," Tabitha said. "We chose Bobby and Jubilee."

Tabitha avoided looking at Jubilee and Bobby's disappointed faces.

"Why Bobby and Jubilee?" asked Spyke.

"We thought that they did fairly well at their challenges," Scott said. "Bobby seems to be pretty outgoing, and Jubilee did alright at the debate. We figure you two might turn out to be stiff competition later on."

"Bobby, Jubilee," said Spyke. "Anything you'd like to say?"

"Well, I guess I can't blame you for wanting to eliminate us if you think we're going to be good competition," said Bobby. "Plus, I get that you guys have to nominate someone so...yeah, it's cool."

"Speak for yourself," Jubilee muttered.

"Jubilee?" Spyke queried.

"I just... I don't want to go home."

"Neither do I," Wanda put in.

"Wanda and Toad," Spyke said before any arguing could start. "Bobby and Jubilee. Go pack your things, say your good byes, and meet me in the elimination room in an hour."


One hour later, the bulk of the housemates gathered in the first bedroom at the top of the stairs while Bobby, Jubilee, Wanda and Toad made their way downstairs. The cameras filmed as Bobby and Toad opened the doors to the elimination room as directed for the women, and closed them again as they filed inside.

At the other end of the room there was a TV screen with the Beauty and the Geek logo on it. In front of the TV were four folded over pieces of cardboard with numbers written on them. Spyke was standing to the side. The couple stood at the indicated placed on the floor.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Spyke. "Welcome to the elimination room. You will each be asked two questions about your areas of study. The winning team gets to stay in the house. The losing team goes home. Beauties, you will go first. Geeks, please go to the viewing room."

Spyke waited until Bobby and Toad had departed before he continued.

"Beauties, your questions will be all about politics and economics," he said, then gestured to the four pieces of cardboard. "These are your questions. Wanda, which number do you pick?"

Wanda took a deep breath. "Four."

Spyke lifted the one numbered "4" and unfolded it to read the question.

"Four," Spyke repeated and then read aloud the question: "What is privatisation?"

Wanda was silent for a moment.

"It's the transfer of ownership from the public sector to the private sector," Wanda said.

"Wanda," Spyke said, deliberately drawing it out as he was supposed to do, "that is correct."

Wanda breathed a sigh of relief.

"Jubilee," Spyke said. "Which number do you choose?"

"Uhh, number one, please," Jubilee replied.

Spyke picked up the card marked "1", and repeated the number before reading it: "What is a monopoly?"

Jubilee froze.

"Come on Jubilee," said Bobby where he sat in the viewing room next to Toad. "You know this."

"Umm..." she said nervously, "it's a...a board game?"

Toad chuckled. "She should get that one just for being a smartass."

Unfortunately, Spyke had to tell her the answer was incorrect. Wanda and Jubilee both succeeded in getting their second questions correct, and then they swapped places with the boys.

"Geeks, your questions will be about music," Spyke said when everything was ready and new questions had been put in place. "Toad, Wanda managed to secure a lead of two to one. Which number do you pick?"

"Two, please," Toad replied, bouncing nervously on the spot.

"You picked number two," Spyke said, picking up the card. "This is a visual question. Who is this artist?"

The logo on the TV screen promptly changed to a photo of a black-haired woman wearing black leather boots and pants, a small white shirt that showed off her stomach and a black leather jacket. There was an electric guitar in her hands.

"Oh umm, I know this one!" Toad said. "It's umm, that girl that sings the song..."

In the viewing room, Wanda buried her head in her hand and Jubilee patted her back sympathetically.

"Lila Cheney," Toad blurted out.

There was a pause from Spyke and then: "That is correct."

Toad bounced happily from foot to foot.

"Bobby," said Spyke. "The score is now three to one. You have to get both questions right, and Toad has to get his next question wrong for you to tie. If you get this question wrong, Toad and Wanda will win, and you and Jubilee will have to leave the mansion."

Bobby nodded. "I'll take number three, please."


Upstairs the housemates waited anxiously for the arrival of the winning team. There had been idle conversation at first, but as the time increased they'd become quieter and quieter. Gambit was wishing he'd brought some playing cards right now, as he really wanted something to busy his hands. However, prior to arriving, Gambit had decided that knowing card tricks was more of a Geek thing than a Beauty thing, and hadn't brought any with him. It was playing to a stereotype, he knew, but then he was also pretending to be a lot stupider than he really was, and didn't want to fall out of character.

Most of the girls were gathered on the bed, and the guys were standing around. Fred sat on a nearby chair, Gambit leaned against the wall, and notably Rogue stood apart from the rest of the group.

Then they heard the clacking of heels coming up the stairs. There was quiet again, no doubt as the woman wearing the heels crossed the carpet. All eyes were on the door handle as it turned, and a bad smell wafted inside as the door opened wide. Wanda smirked triumphantly in the doorway as Toad bounded inside.

"Hey yo," Toad said. "We did it!"


At the same time, Bobby and Jubilee were outside of the mansion, sitting in front of a camera crew.

"I'm pretty disappointed we have to leave," said Bobby, "although I guess someone had to be the first to go."

"Shame it was us though," said Jubilee, and then turned to face her partner. "Bobby, it's been nice knowing you. I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to get to know you better."

"Same," Bobby agreed.