Sun, Sea, Surf and Sarcasm

The perpetual WIP and probably the thing I am best known for in the fandom. The increasingly inaccurately titled Northstar/Iceman romcom. Yes, I said romcom. It's a romantic comedy of errors as Iceman figures out why Northstar keeps saving him from unpleasant deaths and their journey towards an "official" first date with lots of trials, tribulations and dubious aspersions made on Nightcrawler's sexuality.

index

Matters Of Life And Death
Love and the Nasdaq
Paying Heed
Sex And The Single German Teleporting Pseudo-Demon
If Only Bobby Had Read The National Enquirer…
The Shocking Cliffhanger tbc
In Which Roses Have Thorns
Our Boy From Long Island
Desperately Seeking Kurt
Public Sevice Announcements
Media Darlings
Interview Technique 101

Matters of Life and Death

To be frank Bobby Drake was less than surprised when facing uncertain death for third time that day (the X-men as a whole not doing anything as mundane as certain death - they'd come back way too often. Except for Moira. Except for Colossus. And now it seemed, except for Jean) to be saved by a grey whirr moving slightly faster than his eyes could see. How those eyes could see was a mystery even to Robert Louis Drake the incredible Iceman. It seemed that he didn't even have optic nerves in his ice form - even with his slightly hooky knowledge of biology something didn't add up and even more it scared him he wasn't meant to see in his ice form any more than he was made to feel, to touch, in it and with every passing day it was coming closer to becoming his prison; beyond sense, beyond feeling, beyond love.

However, what did surprise Bobby Drake was the scream. Northstar, had knocked the big bad of the day flat on his ass (a sight which screaming notwithstanding the screaming made Bobby want to die laughing not that the big bad was all that big more kind of small/medium, some ex-Acolyte whose name he couldn't exactly remember -hell those guys had all dressed alike, it was hardly an aid to memory maybe that was the idea, Magneto's last cunning idea before he turned into an insane crippled sentinel infested mutant crack addict.) Bobby told himself to stop babbling and slid away towards the dank multi-storey car park that Northstar had flown into. Actually, flown was hardly the word more “been flung screaming in agony”.

The car park was less than safe. The on-going battle seemed to have wrecked the foundations and there was a major case of concrete rot. Also it stank, really stank, the stink that one always associated with such edifices; piss, petrol and stale booze of the paper bag variety. Northstar was slumped against one of the columns.

That was not good. Northstar had one of the most ludicrously upright postures Bobby had ever seen. It was like he had something up his ass, mind after what Annie told him at that party; maybe he had. Bobby had to restrain a giggle and something more, something wrong but oh so right. But there was something way more important pressing on his mind. The slumped posture was one sign, the ragged breathing another. Bobby was surprised when the eyes flicked up in their sockets as he approached, anyone in that state he reckoned should be unconscious. Once again it seemed that Bobby was wrong, just as he was about Northstar when they met after the whole exploding boy incident when he had felt the need to impress on this seeming bastion of macho maleness his own male super stud credentials. And screwed up royally, because Northstar wasn't impressed, wasn't straight and was now totally blindsided; and, more importantly, entirely unreachable.

"Hey" It spoke! This bought him up a level on Bobby's personal consciousness-ometer. Though the state of the voice didn't make him feel all too good, weak and breathless.

"You okay? Ca Va?" Bobby asked remembering the alien phrase vaguely from Remy's strange random French in the face of peril. Hell, it was the one thing he was shore wasn’t either a swear word or a blatant come-on. Not that blatant come-ons wouldn’t be appreciated, but coming on to somebody in a seriously not-good state says that you either have a kink a mile long or you’re serious scum. And Bobby didn’t fit in either category. No scumminess, and no kinks, except one for really naked French-Canadian ski jumpers, and that so didn’t count, because, like, it was never going to happen. Heck, did he just say “like”? He knew Valley Girl Disease was communicable, they needed to quarantine Jubilee fast.

The answer was even less promising than the sight that had greeted Bobby. A hacking cough that bought blood to Northstar's lips and a wince of pain and a distant hazy look to his eyes. He wasn’t sure if he was focussing right, and was worried about that, imagining head injuries and the ruination of that brilliant mind.

Oh Hell, thought Bobby, he's on the verge of passing out. What are you meant to do with someone like that? Answer: keep them conscious 'til help arrives.

"’Sokay, Jean-Paul, do you mind that I call you that I can never tell what name you prefer; you know you seem unnervingly fond of your surname, hey maybe it's a Canadian thing, if all else fails blame Canada, eh? Now I'm just going to take a little look at how you are." Bobby touched Northstar's chest as gently as he could, trying to ignore the sharp intake of breath, counting despairing a multitude of broken ribs. He wasn't sure if they were from the initial charge into the Acolyte or the subsequent crash. One of the speedster's legs looked like it was at a strange angle and Bobby just prayed it was just a sprain, a torn muscle even. The only up-point was that the Olympic class babble seemed to be keeping Northstar awake.

"It's gonna be fine. The team are moving the battle away and it'll be over lickety-split. I mean, that's just so naff a power - I mean, virtual banana skin generation - what's that supposed to mean? Did I just say lickety-split? I need help before I turn into my first-grade teacher. Anyway we'll be up and away in no time, and you'll be back in Annie's tender care. And I'll do everything in my power to stop her refrigerating the thermometers again."

This got a giggle and a shudder. "It only hurts when I laugh,” said Jean-Paul with a wan smile.

"Wahey! We are now entering clicherama!" cried Bobby, "has anyone told Rob Sterling? Nonna Nonna Nonna Nonna."

Again a smile. The unflappable sardonic sophisticated Northstar was smiling at this trademark childish silliness. Maybe Northstar was even more out of it than Bobby thought.

"At Lorna's bridal shower, you seemed kinda outspoken on the relative merits of our team-mates. I couldn't hear much of it because of Annie bending my ear back, but I sure you never said who you actually liked. Come on, you tell me who you fancy and I'll tell you who I like."

This was a stupid risky idea for more reasons than one. Disappointment, enmity, the serious risk that Northstar might just beat the crap out of him once he had recovered. Mind you, it was an all too delicious maybe. Maybe they were both thinking the same thoughts.

"Drake are you out of your mind, I'm gay, G-A-Y, gay. You don't want to ask"

Northstar sounded pretty angry but also kind of protective as if he didn't want to shatter Bobby's illusions, wanted to keep him safe from reality.

Pity was, Bobby didn't particularly want to play it safe, he just wanted to know and as he kept telling that greedy selfish part of his brain, this is keeping Jean-Paul awake and conscious. And he wanted reality, he wanted to escape from the prison that was his life, his destiny even. He wanted reality over and above the illusions and masks were his lot. Bobby was also a grade A wheedler (it was all those years of persuading Scott to go to Harry's rather than do his trig homework), "Come on, Vega, I'm cool"

"You" snapped Northstar at once irritated and bemused at the use of his true name and at the strange insistence. Perhaps if he answered truthfully the irritation would go away and he could die in peace.

"How did you guess my answer?" said Bobby with a grin.

Northstar was silent, his mouth open in shock and tender surprise. Temptingly open, as Bobby leant in and kissed those open lips.

Love and the Nasdaq

Kurt was worried and, although he’d be the first to admit that worried was indeed his natural state (albeit only when it came to other people), it was something pretty bad. “Hey! Archangel, meine Dame Husk! Have you seen Northstar and Bobby? I haven’t seen them since Northstar flew into the multi-storey.”

“So, they’re probably just skiving off.” So much for Warren’s new found sensitivity.

Kurt glowered, time to state the bloody obvious again, he thought, it seems that with every passing day Warren is becoming more and more like Brian Braddock, standing there upfront whilst Kurt did all the leading from behind, “What I meant was that Northstar looked in a pretty bad state. If he was just winded, I’d expect them back by now, it’s not like Northstar to miss a chance to kick ass or Bobby to miss a slip up.”

“I agree with the Elf. I can smell blood. Not good,” Wolverine was being his usual expressive self.

“Okay then,” barked Archangel petulantly, “Computer cease simulation!”

The colour slowly faded from the street around them, the acolyte froze mid rant, and then everything disappeared in a shower of pixels. The danger room was revealed and with it Northstar slumped comatose in Iceman’s arms. Iceman was sobbing, “I said I wouldn’t leave him alone, not alone anymore.” There were tears frozen to his cheek, looking like exotic jewels.

Bobby wasn’t making all that much sense but that was nothing unusual. Kurt bamfed swiftly across the danger room to his side, “Leiber Gott! This does not look good,” he said, his training as field medic kicking in.

“Erm, I think he’s broken about seven ribs on the front, he wouldn’t let me even touch his back and he’s been coughing up blood, does that mean a punctured lung ‘cause I don’t want Jean-Paul to have a punctured lung and his leg’s all funny and I tried to keep him talking…”

“Don’t worry Bobby, you’ve done all the right things and I’m sure Northstar’s going to be fine,” the lie rankled somewhat with Kurt but Bobby looked on the verge of going into shock and the last thing he needed was two sick team-mates, “You know, all these Canadians are pretty darn shatter-proof like those glasses Phoenix bought for the kitchen after we had the juggling tournament.”

“Not fair. You were using your tail.”

“All’s fair in love and war,” said Kurt somewhat relieved to have snapped the Iceman back to reality, or at least whatever reality he usually inhabited, “anyway, you were trying to use limbs you didn’t have or at least that’s what it seemed like. So what were you talking about?”

“Love and the NASDAQ”

“I thought those were pretty synonymous when it comes to Northstar,” said Kurt showing all his teeth in what he mistakenly believed was a friendly grin.

“Not quite as much as you might think,” said Iceman. Kurt wondered if he could detect a blush or if his strange yellow eyes were deceiving him.

A thunder of wings (Warren could never manage anything as tactful as a murmur of wings) heralded that the Archangel himself had finally deigned to join them. “Is anything wrong?” he said, blind entirely to the obvious or for that matter anything that wasn’t a schoolgirl from Kentucky.

“Broken ribs, respiratory trauma, loss of blood, unconsciousness and a leg broken in several places. Everything’s wrong.”

“Oh”

“I’m going to bamf him directly to sick bay and I’ll take Robert here with me his information will be useful. Unlike you.”

“Wait a minute…”

BAMF!

“…I think I can help!” said Warren somewhat too late and wondering what he had done to annoy Kurt.

Paying Heed

Warren had finally made his way up to the sick bay, flying through corridors with little regard to personal safety or at least the safety of persons other than himself, and feeling somewhat breathless following the flight upstairs, the danger room session and his ‘exercise’ with Miss Guthrie that morning, he charged into the sickbay.

“Don’t worry I can save him!” he shouted with a flourish of his eldritch sword and noticing the bemused stares and looks of what was clearly stupefied awe he added, “My amazing mutant blood factor will save him!”

“Yes, Warren, it’s already saving him, now please don’t wave that sword round like that you’d have someone’s eye out if you’re not careful,” admonished Annie with all the experience in dealing with easily excitable males that having a ten year old telekinetic son brought to her.

“What do you mean, already?” cried Warren bemused and upset by the removal of his chance to show off his amazing blood power again. He’d only saved seven kids with leukaemia that week and was feeling underappreciated. He also wanted to show Paige what a caring nurturing type he was and using his powers to save a team-mate would surely impress, and not any team-mate but his gay team-mate so not only was he caring and nurturing but also unprejudiced and accepting. And if Paige ever went flouncing off in a sulk the way Betsy used to, he’d have a useful ally in Jean-Paul. That’s what girls do, don’t they? They talk about all their problems to their gay best friend, and he was pretty darn sure that Northstar was the only gay man Paige knew. He could see it now Paige pouring out her heart and being reassured that indeed she was the luckiest woman alive with Northstar saying, “Oh but sure all men can be asses sometimes and anyway, Paigey darling, the man saved my life once and he does look just like Brad Pitt with wings.” Warren considered the Sex And The City Marathon Paige had made him watch pretty good research into the intricacies of the female mind.

“The blood you gave us last week, you do remember that, Warren, don’t you? We gave Jean-Paul a transfusion from that,” Annie’s vocal talents had clearly been honed with years of dealing with little boys and rather confused, it not comatose, patients to the point where it was her automatic response and a man with wings carelessly wielding an inappropriately large sword wasn’t much different from an old man in a wheelchair who’d somehow mislaid his wife. Speaking slowly and calmly seemed to work as well at Xavier’s as it did in her old hospital, except of course, where Dr McCoy was involved. When he got excitable, it was normally because he wanted to express his latest amazing discovery, and really, Annie always had time for that, using epoxy resin to build a dimensional bridge between here and the negative zone and use that to power a large medical refrigerator, using only twice the energy they already did, was so very interesting.

“Hey Annie! He’s awake! My favourite Canadian is awake!” Bobby’s voice came from an adjoining room.

Annie rushed into the room with Warren trailing in behind her, tucking his wings in tight to get through the narrow doorway and eager for the grateful thanks he was sure he was going to receive.

Northstar was propped up in bed with a drip snaking out of his arm. To the average person he would have looked rather chipper for somebody with fifteen broken ribs, a broken leg, a punctured lung and concussion; to an X-man, who would know better, he looked like a typical recipient of the Feed-Him-Some-Of-Warren’s-Blood-And-See-What-Happens Treatment (there was a serious need to find a name which made a decent if not utterly cool acronym); that is a little dazed and maybe just a tad excitable.

Kurt was perusing intently the Shi-Ar medical monitor by the side of the bed, which was beeping intently. “All readings are returning to normal, that is normal for a French-Canadian who can focus the kinetic energy of all his molecules and fly but needs to learn not to rush in and attack without thinking. The fractures are all knitting and projections suggest that the process will be finished within twenty-four hours. Annie, you really must take the Shi-Ar for beginners course, you really can’t count on me always reading the displays for you.”

“Kurt, I don’t need to. I’ve been working in hospitals long enough to know what the machines mean. If they beep too much or too little, the patient’s in trouble and if they beep just right the patient’s just right too. How did you learn Shi-Ar anyway? It must have been more glamorous than language classes at any rate.”

“Well, my ex-girlfriend was Shi-Ar and she gave me some language lessons. She thought I was quite a good linguist,” said Kurt, who then realised what he had just said, blushed a brilliant purple and promptly disappeared in a cloud of sulphurous smoke. Everyone stopped laughing and choked briefly on the dispersing smoke.

Jean-Paul smiled and turned to Warren and Annie, “My sincerest thanks to my medical saviours and would you mind if I thanked my rescuer in private?”

“Sure, J-P, I’ve got to see to Jolene down the corridor, she’s moulting,” said Annie briskly, “Come on, Warren, I’m sure you’ve got things to do.” Annie marched out into the main sick bay and Warren trouped along behind her with pride bursting in his chest and anticipating telling Paige how he had saved the Northstar.

“Bobby, please tell me what you said wasn’t a hallucination bought on by loss of blood.”

“What, that Annie refrigerates the thermometers?” said Bobby trying to feign innocence and failing.

“No. You. Me. Us.” Northstar was too flustered to even articulate a sentence let alone a sardonic put-down.

“For someone so handsome, you can sure be stupid,” said Robert Drake the cliché-meister himself.

“Really?”

Bobby didn’t answer but bought his face down towards Northstar’s and they kissed their mouths open and eager. Northstar’s hand was in his hair holding him close and this felt perfect and loving, nothing like those awkward fumblings with Opal or Lorna, now he felt no need to break away and breathe, it was as if he had learnt to survive upon passion rather than air.

Outside in the corridor Kurt had found Warren and was intent on giving him a piece of his mind since it was clear that he had none of his own, “Warren du total Dummkopf! Whatever possessed you to disengage the safety locks and set the computer to your voice commands alone. What if there had been a worse accident? What if you had been injured? What would we have done then, o noble leader?”

They paid no heed to this, much though it would have delighted Northstar in any other circumstances to see the winged wonder Warren Worthington the Third to be taken down a peg or two. But these weren’t “any other circumstances” the most impossible of things had happened and he now had Bobby Drake in his arms and in his mouth. The small part of his brain that wasn’t set upon the beautiful and much longed for man he was kissing was seriously considering the potential of the bed below him ignoring entirely the broken leg and cracked ribs, thinking only of bliss and fulfilment.

Annie was walking past the observation window and glanced in. “Frostboy!” the tray of instruments she had been carrying crashed upon floor the unnoticed as she froze rapt.

They paid no heed to this either. Much as Bobby enjoyed a good accident, particularly one precipitated by the common or garden snowball, nothing short of Brad Pitt dancing around naked screaming, “Take me!” would have distracted him now, and maybe not even that since Brad was unreal, unlike Jean-Paul who at that moment was very real indeed with his firm kisses and his hand trailing up the inside of his shirt and caressing his ribs.

Kurt and Warren ran toward the source of the noise and they too were struck still, Kurt with a mysterious satisfied smile on his face, Warren in rampant disbelief.

They paid no heed to this either. While Northstar would have loved to say some snide comment along the line of “I’m gay. What did you expect?” at this juncture, there remains the fact that he was simply unaware of his audience and his mouth was far too busy. Furthermore his mind was occupied with higher things such as “I know this is a bit sudden, but would he really mind if I rip his clothes off?”

Warren ran into the room.

They paid heed to this, as it’s surprising how distracting a furious angel shouting abuse can be.

Sex and the Single German Teleporting Pseudo-Demon

“Get your hands off him you no good son of a bitch! We leave you out of our sight for five minutes and you’re already trying to ravish Bobby! How could we have ever trusted you, you sick twisted…”

Bobby was the first to recover from this surprise development, “Erm, Warren, I had my hands all over him too!”

“Warren, calm down, I know this is a shock, well to you any way, aber you’re really showing yourself up here. I thought you said you were going to be more non-judgmental. That was your New Year’s Resolution. What if Fraulein Guthrie could see you now?” Kurt struggled to pull Warren back into the corridor and flashed his best don’t-worry-he’s-just-a-little-upset smile as Warren’s wings got in his way and began to flap around quite alarmingly.

“I’m going to take my sword and I’m going to…”

BAMF!

“What a relief!” sighed Annie, “Where do you think Kurt’s put Warren? I hope it isn’t anywhere dangerous. I mean, sure he’s being an ass, but it is a bit of a surprise and all and I’m sure he’ll calm down; a bit; maybe.”

“Mmmmm…” said Jean-Paul quite recovering his sardonic composure, “How about San Francisco. They’ll just love him there. All that blonde hair, wings and muscles. I’m sure he’ll find it quite educational. I’m pretty sure there’s a gay mutant pride rally on. They sent me an invite for some reason. Can’t imagine why.”

Fortunately before Annie and Bobby could enlighten Northstar as to the fact that he was both gay and mutant and why the hell wasn’t he there, the rally sounded just his sort thing, him being the tireless gay rights/ aids awareness/ mutant coolness campaigner he was, the Nightcrawler returned and thus prevented the ruination of this touching scene. That and they twigged that this might just be sarcasm, Jean-Paul not being in possession of Warren’s stunning intellect.

BAMF!

Three pairs of eyes turned, neglecting their pre-emptive bickering, and stared at the blue furred mutant and more specifically at the sheepish grin plastered on his face. At least it would have been a sheepish grin if sheep had the sort of teeth normally only associated with a large fin sticking out of the water, as it is he just looked like a rather embarrassed shark.

“I just dropped him,” said Kurt quietly, “in the lake.”

“Well that’ll cool him off,” said Annie

“Hey, I wanted to say that!” cried Northstar indignantly.

“I could have done that!” cried Bobby icing up his hand.

“…but it was too obvious, not up to my usual high standard at all,” said Northstar equally icily.

Annie glared at the Canadian mutant and spluttered as if she was about to say something and had then, quite rightly, thought better of it.

“I’m sure Warren’s just in shock,” said Kurt briskly aiming to cut short any name-calling.

“He is after you chucked him in that lake. The water’s really cold. I froze it yesterday for the kids to go skating.”

“…I’m sure he’ll come to his senses soon…”

“I’m not so sure. That water’s really, really cold.”

“…this is the twenty-first century and all. He’s just not taking it very well,” finished Kurt as ever master of the understatement.

Northstar opened his mouth. Annie flinched only to find that she wasn’t the target. “Talking of taking it very well,” he began in a light airy tone which filled the others with a dread sense of foreboding, “You seem rather calm Nightcrawler.”

“Kurt, bitte, it’s not as if we’re out on some mission of daring do saving a world that hates and fears us! What in heaven do you mean by that?”

“You’re a Catholic. A very serious one. You go to Mass. A lot. You read the Catholic Herald.”

“So?” said Kurt, “As far as I’m concerned you are just two people who have fallen in love. I grew up in a circus, remember?”

“What’s that got to do with it?” said Bobby butting in.

“Well, about two thirds of the male population were only interested in each other. I never minded, it just meant all the more pretty little frauleins for me to romance.”

“You’re kidding! You dated your foster sister for years!” cried Bobby.

“So, she was the best of the lot of them. I prefer quality over quantity. Anyway, I didn’t romance her, she romanced me!”

Kurt dated his foster sister?”whispered Annie “And I was beginning to believe he was the only other normal well-balanced person in this whole insane madhouse of a school. Yuerk!

I really wouldn’t ask” Northstar whispered back, “I think he just has this thing about sisters. I mean he really likes Scarlet Witch, and she’s Quicksilver’s twin sister, and he seemed really keen on my sister when he met her…”

O God! Just one nice normal person with no hang ups, mysterious past, burning urge for revenge, alternate self, or weird sister fetish, that’s all I ask for!

Erm… I hate to point this out but you’re working at a school for super people. It isn’t too late for a career change, you know.

“Thankyou for that so interesting revelation, Kurt, I must remember to tell all the girls that you like the woman to make the first move,” said Bobby snidely.

“Bobby, you didn’t switch brains when you were kissing Jean-Paul did you? Or is that Jean-Paul you didn’t switch with Bobby did you? I think you were sucking hard enough. I swear you sound just like our supersonic speedster,” said Kurt deciding to send diplomacy to the wind.

“Brain swapping?” said Annie totally losing the plot.

“So Kurt,” said Northstar trying to get back in control of the conversation after his little tête-à-tête with Annie on the mating habits of the totally uncommon and certainly not garden Nightcrawler, “you’re saying that your circus upbringing left you with the incredibly broad mind that you clearly possess today.”

“Ja,” said Kurt completely unable to discern what Northstar was getting at.

“And you’re entirely unsurprised by the sudden revelation that Robert ici and I lust for each other and want to rip each others clothes off and make passionate love right here?”

Hey steady on. Don’t you think we might be taking things a teensy bit too fast?” whispered Bobby, poking Northstar in his not-quite-healed ribs.

“Ja”

Northstar was momentarily winded by being poked by the man he lusted after and wanted to divulge of his clothing, but then he recovered, took this as a good omen and continued, “This doesn’t strike you as in the least way odd, out of character and you aren’t contemplating that we might be under the influence of some mind altering substance, mechanism or person?”

“Not at all.”

Northstar froze solid. Nobody ever told you what to do when this happened. Everyone gave advice on coming out or getting your boyfriend (perhaps he was taking things a teensy bit fast) to come out and dealing with hostile, angry and confused reactions from your so-called friends. Nobody gave advice on dealing with tranquil acceptance from friends whom you thought were clearly anti. Nobody gave advice… Northstar thought… perhaps there was a new book deal in this for him…

Kurt seized upon Northstar’s silence as a need for a handy bite size explanation that most Catholics weren’t hard minded bigots, “Northstar, I’m a member of a not terribly top secret super hero team that fights for the acceptance of a much maligned minority group. Surely, as such I would be very open minded and accepting to another much maligned minority group. At any rate, I learnt about the facts of life very early in life, two people meet, like each other, have sex and may produce babies, and I think if everyone did…”

“Hey Kurt! How early an age are we talking about here? Just curious,” enquired Bobby eagerly snatching the chance to make this conversation more interesting and maybe put Annie into even deeper shock. (He had heard her little chat with Northstar and wanted to see how little a nudge it would take to push her over the edge entirely and if this didn’t work, he suspected plastic spiders in the petri dishes just might. And if not that, Jubilee’s tarantulas in her desk draw, now all that remained was to get the spiders.)

“Hmmm…” Kurt counted on his fingers, ran out, and resorted to thumb, “Funf.”

“Five!” shouted Bobby just in case Annie couldn’t count in German, “This is crazy! You don’t explain sex to five year olds. Mummy bees and daddy bees maybe, but sex! Wait a minute, that’s what you mean don’t you? It’s just your crazy German grammar that makes this sound odd and non-gender-specific!”

“Komisch,” mused Kurt, “That’s just what Kitty said when I told her. I mean I just walked in on my trapeze tutor and his boyfriend, the fire-eater, it’s really easy to do when you all live in tents and caravans. And Sabu, you know he was really like a father to me, just explained everything to me and answered all kinds of questions.”

Bobby stared at him.

“Funny, Katzchen went all silent like that too. Ich weiss nicht warum. I thought it was all ganz und gar normal.”

Bobby recovered and his curiosity got the better of him, “What were they doing?”

“Oral sex,” said Kurt in the same disinterested tone of voice he would have used had he said “knitting baby booties” or “playing ludo” or “singing the alphabet backwards”.

Bobby stared. Annie had a faintly worried look on her face. (She was wondering whether Alex would talk to Carter about sex, because she suddenly felt rather inadequate). Even Northstar was silent.

When faced with a large shocked silence, it is man’s natural instinct to fill it up. Kurt was no exception to this fundamental rule of nature, “Though looking back, it strikes me as rather dangerous, having oral sex with Feur, what with him really being able to breathe fire and everything. But that was Sabu! He just loved danger… I really think he was my role model in life, except for the bit about sleeping with temperamental fire eaters…”

“Kurt, have you ever heard the words Too Much Detail?” said Northstar recovering first, there was something very wrong about the sweet, charming and highly moral Nightcrawler talking about sex. This may be later shown to prove how little Jean-Paul Beaubier really knew the mutant known to all as the Nightcrawler.

(Except to certain young ladies, who knew him as Blueberry Muffin.)

“Feur. That man we met on the mountain? When your mother blew you and Chamber up and you were only saved by a blind teleport of ludicrous danger? He’s gay? And I thought this day couldn’t get any weirder!” said Bobby hamming it up for all he was worth in his epic plan to turn Annie into a gibbering wreck in revenge for the sheer toe-curling embarrassment of the bridal shower. (See Annie was right!)

“Ja. He really never got over Sabu’s death. I’m glad he’s found some peace with himself.”

Annie gibbered and ran out of the room.

“Is she alright? Annie isn’t ill is she?” said Kurt once again slipping into his perceived role as the caring half of the team leadership.

“Culture shock” said Northstar.

“That leaves one thing. How do we deal with Warren? How do we deal with the rest of the team?” said Bobby anxiously.

If Only Bobby Had Read the National Enquirer…

The rest of the team sat in the rec room somewhat uneasily. They all knew what had happened. Annie’s passion for the National Enquirer and movie star and celebrity non-entity rumour meant that when faced with some real ground breaking stop the press gossip, she wasn’t a slouch when it came to disseminating it to nearly everyone in a five mile radius. Especially when she’d always known that Northstar had had a thing for the not-nearly-as-sexually-hung-up-as-I-thought-he-was Iceman. Another victory for Annie’s sexual tension radar, even if the gaydar needed a little more practice, which she was pretty damn sure she was going to get now, what with two very hot gay men on campus and a sexually ambivalent giant cat person, any gay guys (and maybe gals as well) were just bound to come out of that closet. She’d decided that she could live with secret identities, burning desires for revenge, evil doppelgangers and weird sister fetishes provided she could gossip about them to her heart’s content, although she might just store up the weird sister fetish for a while, she had more than enough material for the moment, and next week might be really dull once everyone had calmed down a bit.

Any of the team who hadn’t been enlightened by Annie’s quick Iceman-and-Northstar-in-Surprise-Snog synopsis had probably found out from Warren’s surprisingly terse summary of events. Terse, because wrapped in a blanket and seated near the fire as he was, he couldn’t stop shivering. Indeed, he’d turned blue again and Paige was hoping to God that it was just the cold and it wasn’t permanent. Jubilee was blithely trying to assuage her concern by telling Paige everything she’d heard about blue men and what she’d heard was pretty, well, blue, if you caught her drift. Paige wasn’t really listening, or else she too would have changed colour, instead she was wondering what she’d have to husk into to gain that superspeed she’d got that time at the airport with Gen. X, because what she really wanted was to kick Northstar’s ass into the next state.1

The door creaked open and Kurt stepped into the room, he really wasn’t used to entering through the door, and this added to his nerves, since he knew that he had to get the team to take their lead from him, and that meant that he had to be calm, accepting, and friendly, and teleporting into the room and frightening the heck out of them wouldn’t help in the least, and from the looks on their faces he needed all the help he could get. He sauntered across the room and joined the huddle, sitting on the high back of Wolverine’s armchair, just ‘cause he had to radiate calm and normality didn’t mean he couldn’t be comfortable and anyway he was counting on Wolverine for back up if things got out of hand. And if he behaved too normal, he reluctantly thought, everyone would be sure that something weird was going on and they’d be looking for some mind controlling mechanism all week.

“Hi guys!” Nightcrawler exclaimed with a cheery smile.

Everyone stared at Kurt. He clearly knew something they didn’t, and if they believed Annie, that was rather more than they might otherwise suspect.

“Erm… You’d better come in, everyone’s dying to see you.”

Bobby walked into the room dragging Northstar in behind him. Northstar actually looked really nervous. These weren’t his friends, not really his friends, he hadn’t known them all that long and they all knew how things worked round here and he didn’t, he didn’t even know that you were meant to avoid the meatloaf in the refectory. Nobody noticed Jean-Paul’s nerves, their attention was much more focussed on the fact that Northstar and Iceman were standing in front of them holding hands and that Iceman had an odd little smile on his face.

“Erm…” began Bobby rapidly brightening, “well, I guess, you all know, what with the fact that this place is a grade A rumour mill and Annie being queen of informative gossip, that Jean-Paul and I have been kissing in the medlab. And no, I wasn’t practising my resuscitation technique. So, it goes like this. During the ruckus in the danger room this morning I found out some really surprising information. (Well, it surprised me, but then I don’t read the National Enquirer from cover to cover). Jean-Paul’s gay, mutant and single. And would you know it, I am too. And the more we talked the more we realised that we’d both been labouring under a misapprehension, as Hank would put it, and that well we really liked each other and had been acting like goofballs…”

“…staring at each other when the other guy wasn’t looking, finding stupid reasons to spend time together, the usual…”added Northstar blushing.

“…because we both thought that the other guy was straight and would run a mile if we shared our feelings…”

“when actually we kissed and made out like there was no tomorrow. Which, given some of the looks on your faces, might be the case.”

“But we thought we ought to tell you guys, that we are from this moment officially dating,” said Bobby with a silly grin and gave Jean-Paul’s hand a reassuring squeeze.

Everyone was quiet. Nobody wanted to speak first. Well almost nobody.

“Har har har hardy har,” it was Cain. Somehow nobody was surprised.

Northstar snapped back to his normal self, or at least that’s what it looked like until you noticed that he’d moved slightly in front of Bobby and seemed ready to shield him from any danger, “What’s so fricking funny?”

“You said you liked men with hair on their chests. Drake don’t have none.”

“That’s a double negative. I’ve hardly been in a position to inspect cher Robert’s chest myself. Fascinating, n’est pas, that you have. Anyway if I was after hair, I’d be dating Sasquatch. It’s not as if he hasn’t asked me out before. And he’s really missing my sister, come to think of it.”2

Urgh! Ixnay the Entalmay Agesimay Vega!” whispered Bobby.

“You said you weren’t a girl.”

“I’m not!”

“Yer right. Drake is. Roberta Drake, who’da thunk it!”

“Hey I’m not a girl, you tin can wearing goon!”

“Are too”

“Am not”

Merde! Not again.

“Are too”

“Am not”

“Are too. Are too.”

“Drake’s proved himself. He’s a man. More than you are. He’s covered my back before.” Logan stopped the conversation dead.

THUD! Kurt had fallen off the back of Logan’s chair. What’s gotten into Kurt, thought Logan, it’s not like him to be knocked for a loop like this, he musta been just as surprised as Worthington but Logan had been sure he’d figured it out too. Logan himself was immune from surprise, his highly advanced sense of smell kept him pretty damn well informed and the scents of confusion, embarrassment and lust rolling off these two were enough to overpower even the smell of Beaubier’s noxious aftershave. It wasn’t just Stacy X who could taste emotions, come to think of it where was Stacy? The girl had made herself scarce and that had got Logan worried, she wasn’t as tough as she made out and he’d taken quite a shine to her, meant to help her with her powers too. She’d have to sharpen up pretty soon or she’d be getting all the wrong messages and into way more trouble than she could handle. He’d talk to Kurt, he was damn sure he liked her too.

Everyone else took Kurt’s less than graceful dismount as a chance to snigger without being snikted.

Kurt eventually returned to is perch rubbing his head theatrically. He’d known he could rely on Logan, he wasn’t the type of guy to let little things like sexual orientation get in his way, although Kurt wasn’t sure that this would still be the case if somebody was foolhardy enough to explain the other reason everyone was laughing, the one totally unconnected with gravity. Kurt decided he’d tell him after he’d bought him a beer or six as a thank you for backing him up.

Kurt’s return to the top of Logan’s wing back armchair was taken pretty much universally as the signal to stop giggling before Logan suspected something. And sure enough, the laughter died down and once again an uneasy silence descended upon the room.

Paige broke the silence, “Whose idea was it to dump my Warren in the lake? Look at him! He’s gone all blue! Again! Jean-Paul Beaubier, if you had anything to do with this, I’m going to punch you into next week!” Warren had clearly been rubbing off on Paige.

“It was my idea. Sorry,” admitted Kurt, “I didn’t know that Bobby had frozen the lake yesterday, I was too busy getting the X-Jet ready for its six week service. It’s the first we’ve had last that long for ages and it would be sad for it to crash just because the sprocket on the starboard fuel injector hadn’t been tightened. And Warren just doesn’t realise how scary he looks with that big sword of his. And I just panicked. I’m really sorry. You can punch me into next week if you like; it’s got to be less total verruckt than this one.”

“Paige, Kurt was just trying to stop Warren from doing something he might’ve regretted later, he had his best interests at heart,” said Jean-Paul calmingly, “And if I’d had anything to do with it, Warren would now be enjoying a nice educational holiday in San Francisco.”

“What the heck do you mean by that?” cried Paige, distinctly uncalmed.

“Well, he could have learnt all about the Golden Gate Bridge and the street cars and the earthquakes. Oh, and there’s a gay mutant pride rally this weekend, or at least so I’ve been told.”

“So, see, we’re not weird and freaky at all! There are other gay mutants out there! It’s not just Hank looking for an excuse to play the drums! See, we’re perfectly normal!” exclaimed Bobby.

“Duh! Of course there are gay mutants! I mean, hey, you’ve all heard about what Rictor said to Jamie at the Chunnel disaster thing,” said Jubilee.3

“I haven’t!” whispered Annie

“I’ll tell you later if you let me borrow your National Enquirer.”

“That just proves that Rictor has really poor taste. We aren’t like that!”

Aren’t we, Cher Robert? I have wondered.”

Shut up! We need to convince them that we’re really nice and not a threat to the team dynamic or anything.”

“Oh merde!”

***

What a shocking cliffhanger! How are Bobby and Jean-Paul going to prove themselves to be no threat to the team whatsoever? Tune in to our next thrilling instalment for the exciting resolution! In the mean time, here are the answers to the questions you weren’t going to ask!

The Shocking Cliffhanger tbc

It is neither a well known fact nor one universally acknowledged that the mutant known as Jean-Paul Beaubier, the Northstar whose fame and fortune is sung of to this very day (at least in the National Enquirer and other such esteemed vehicles), actually has rather more people skills than many believe. This is not difficult, if the common estimation of Jean-Paul Beaubier’s people skills is acknowledged, a recently dead mouse has more. For a dead mouse does not wear highly noxious aftershave (although in fact this was a gift from his twin sister), nor does it get into many fights, and when it gets into one of these fights in which it does not participate, it does not have to be forcibly pulled off its opponent by the ankles before the harm becomes somewhat permanent. However, what this theory fails to acknowledge is that no mouse is the leader of a large telecommunications multinational, a well regarded campaigner for AIDS charities, and the more tactful of two superpowered flying twins. (One might ask how one defines “more tactful”; the answer is simple: the twin who actually gives warning that he will punch.) In short, Jean-Paul Beaubier cannot be as arrogant, conceited and self-centred as he seems, since, firstly, no one could be as arrogant, conceited and self-centred as he seems, and secondly (and more crucially), if he were he wouldn’t have survived so long. Being able to talk his way out of a situation was a survival trait.

Camouflage is also a survival trait, and like all good survival traits it is largely inherent and instinctive, going unnoticed even by its possessor, operating at such a fundamental level that to the casual observer it seems to be a natural part of him. And so, few notice that somehow, despite all the whinging and all the small misunderstandings, Jean-Paul Beaubier manages to get his own way more often than mere probability allows.

Jean-Paul Beaubier is aware of none of this, he knows not of how these things are coded into the very smallest units of his being; all he knows is that he has an uncanny gift for getting people to see things his way, in the boardroom it’s simple and effortless, in his personal life things, well, get somewhat more complicated. Looking at the faces of those around him, at once hungry for information and confused beyond the point of rational thought, he takes a deep breath, and then the words, the perfect life saving words, pour forth from his mouth.

“I guess this is a surprise to all of you,” he began staring pointedly at Kurt, “or at least to most of you, with the exception of those of us who were raised not only by the most powerful witch in all Bravaria but also by a gay French trapeze artiste who looked like he’d raided Freddie Mercury’s wardrobe. And it was certainly a surprise to me. A pleasant surprise, sure, but still a surprise. If I got that sort of mouth-to-mouth every time I crashed, I’d crash a hell of a lot more often. How much of a surprise? Well, put it this way, I would have been less surprised if Jubilee became the face of Estee Lauder or we all found out that Kurt is a secret transvestite…”

POP! Jubilee’s bubble burst as she interjected, “He is!”

As far as Annie was concerned this little talk was already paying dividends. It was all so clear, Kurt, lacking a normal maternal role model, was trying to make up this inadequacy by dating his (and anyone else’s) sister and covertly running around in women’s clothing. She was just beginning to wonder whether the idea of Kurt in a dress made anyone else in the room feel hot, thinking about it, it had to be Wolverine what with all that burly machimisio when her train of fault was sadly interrupted.

THUD! Kurt had fallen off the chair again. This time no-one laughed. “What do you mean? I’ll fight any Schweinhund who puts about rumours that I wear ladies’ undergarments! Just lead me to this Saracen Dog, since dear Jubilee it cannot be that such a fair maiden as yourself is responsible, and I shall fight him in a duel of honour for the sanctity of my good name!”

The more recent newcomers to this merry band were somewhat confused by this outburst. Logan smiled, “Now that’s the Kurt I know back! Errol Flynn’s greatest fan! Come on, Elf, let’s go and find the son of a bitch and really buckle his swash for him!” With violence and adventure in the offering, the Canadian X-man suddenly became much more verbose.

Erm, tell me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Errol Flynn gay?” whispered Annie to Paige.

How the Hell am I meant to know? Darn it, I’m just seventeen” Paige whispered back.

“But Warren said you were eighteen” said Annie.

“Damn!”

“Whatever!” said Jubilee, “I mean Kitty-Kat just posted this picture on the school bulletin board system.4 Kurt just looked so fine in that can-can dancer outfit, although I’m not sure about the heels, I mean pink, with your colouring!”

“Scheisse! Doeppel Scheisse! Doeppel Scheisse mit eine Kirsche daruber!” swore Kurt.5

Everyone stared. Not only was Kurt a secret transvestite, he was a secret transvestite with a sister fetish, a serious thing for frilly dresses, and a foul mouth. Most of them were still trying to work out what part of anatomy a Kirsch was, and thus declined to comment.

A silence filled the room. Kurt decided to carpe the diem and offer a quick explanation, “Well, as I’m sure you all know, or at least most of you know, well maybe some of you know, Excalibur took a little jaunt down the sidereal string, it wasn’t all that little really we just kept on appearing in ever more ludicrous parallel earths, and you see there was this reality where America was the font of all civilisation and Britain was the Wild West, well Wild East, and populated with savage redskin accountants, and it transpired that we had to disguise ourselves in order to rescue Alastair, who had been tied to a totem pole and was about to be sacrificed to make the damn rain stop, and I was the only member of the team who fitted into that verdammt Robe except Rachel, who nobody was going to ask, and she went as Davy Crocket anyway, so I ended up, thanks to having nice slim Hufte6, running away from the apache accountants in this big stupid red dress with lace on, and Kitty couldn’t stop laughing, and insisted on taking my picture once we got back to the train, which we had liberated from our evil Nazi doubles.”

Kurt stopped, gasping for breath, and muttering to himself that Kitty didn’t look all too good herself dressed as a bear as she was.

“What is an Excalibur?” whispered Annie

Don’t let him hear you say that!” hissed Jubilee, “Or we’ll never escape.”

“Don’t worry Kurt, we all have our own fashion disasters,” said Paige returning to her normal sensible self. Warren couldn’t help but admire her, there she was, his girl, taking command of the situation and helping those who cannot help themselves.

Northstar opened his mouth, and said the completely unexpected, unless, dear reader you are in the know regarding the survival traits encoded into his very DNA, “You see, we’ve all been in situations where we’d rather not be in. And to be frank…”

What does Frank think about that? You appropriating his name like that.” whispered Bobby.

“…to be frank, I’d rather not be in this one. While I really do love cher Robert ici, I can understand your suspicions and your worries. I’m the new guy here and I don’t really know any of you as well as I should. I will, therefore, have to prove that my intentions are honourable, so what I propose is that we go on our first date with a chaperone. And if I might make a suggestion, it should be Kurt, firstly he is reliable and certainly won’t want to be shown up again by being remiss in his duties and secondly, ladies and gentlemen, by merit of his incredibly bohemian upbringing he is unlikely to be terribly put out by having to baby-sit two guys who can’t stop kissing each other.”

Warren’s brow furrowed slightly and then he smiled, “You know, that actually makes sense.”

In Which Roses Have Thorns

“Did we do the right thing, telling everyone like that?” asked Bobby nervously as they walked together in the rose garden. Ever since Storm had left with her little clique for pastures new and the search for the diaries of the blind seer Destiny, a search which many of those who had remained at the mansion thought was a wild goose chase, neglect had slowly been setting down roots in the garden. The once meticulously pruned rose bushes had become knots of densely tangled foliage and the rose arch had become near impassable. Without the loving guardianship of the weather goddess, the door had been left open for weeds and aphids, both slowly sucking the life out of the once neatly planted beds. But nobody noticed this, all they noticed was the heady smell of roses, the bright colours and the impression of life everywhere.

The walled garden was also an excellent spot to talk without being overheard. Yet, more than that, it was a beautiful place to be, free from the noise of the school. And it wasn’t just the newly enamoured duo that thought so, Bobby knew that Sammy had built a den somewhere in the lush overgrowth; he had heard Cain moaning that he couldn’t follow the little fish-boy in.

“Do you think we’ve done the right thing?” said Northstar, turning the question back onto him.

“Yes; no; maybe, I’m not sure,” mumbled Bobby, “everything seems to be happening so fast.”

“What did you think we were going to do? Did you think that I was going to sweep you up in my arms and carry you away, and then you’d go back as if nothing happened to live the same old lie?” despite the slightly mocking tone of his voice, there was a sympathy to Northstar’s words which showed in his face, released from the habitual mask of knowing superiority.

“I dreamt of it. That’s how it happened in my dreams. Except in them we never came back.”

“Then, you are a realist. You know that things have changed, and you accept them. What everyone else does, that is their decision to make. And it doesn’t matter, not really, your friends will come to accept you as you are, and in time they will be unable to imagine you in any other way. Only one thing matters, Bobby, and that is your own happiness. Are you happy?”

“Yes. I feel so light it’s as if I’m floating; I don’t have to worry anymore about how people see me, about how I should behave to fit in. I tried to be normal, I really did, I wanted to be able to like girls, for them to make me feel warm inside like you do, I kept trying to persuade myself that I just hadn’t found the right one yet, that one morning I would open my eyes and I would be totally normal,” Bobby had begun to babble, as the pain of years of hiding from himself came out in a torrential flood.

“That is because you have freed yourself from having to live a lie. You feel frightened because everything's changed but you are still free. When I came out, I spent half the night crying, as the media tried to dissect my life to try and find where my queerness started; they treated it like a disease, an affliction, when it had always been part of me. I felt like an interloper in my own life. I’m glad you don’t have to face that. You can adjust to the world at your own pace. And whenever you’re afraid, you can just think of what would have happened if you hadn’t stopped living that lie, that fiction. Remember Robert the mud monster? How soon would something like that happened again? Your life is your own now.”

“Some people,” said Bobby moving his head slightly towards the mansion, “would say it’s like being a mutant. Once you accept yourself, other people will accept you more easily. I’m not sure though. Flying around in costumes, sometimes I just feel that it’s bought us nothing but grief.”

“But that grief is tinted with happiness, it is better to be free, than to live a pleasant yet bitter fiction and fear the truth with every breath. I cannot myself think of anything sadder than not doing what one was born to do. I cannot think of any joy greater than flying. Or at least, cher Robert, not one that can be accomplished on one’s own.”

“Hey! We should really get you a T-shirt or something with BORN TO FLY INCREDIBLY FAST on the front!”

“Robert, c’est fantastique!”

“…and AND CRASH INTO THINGS on the back.”

“But of course!”

Northstar pulled out his latest cell phone, it looked like a custom job with a white star set into the silver flip top but it wasn’t too ostentatious, there was no point in having a phone somebody’ll mug you for. Not that any lowlife mugger would stand a chance against an angry airborne Canadian. The phone had speed dial, a single beep and Jean-Paul Beaubier was speaking incredibly fast in short staccato tones. Bobby felt he was only speaking in English because he was with company. This made him feel…what exactly…he did not know. But there was time enough for French lessons, then he thought of French kissing lessons and felt warm and eager.

“Hallo? Sandy, this is Jean-Paul, could you have a T-shirt printed for me? Avec un slogan merci. On the front, let’s see, BORN TO FLY INCREDIBLY FAST and on the back AND CRASH INTO THINGS… Well, of course it’s one of those spur of the moment things… Go up to my flat and look in the bottom left hand drawer it’s full of my T-shirts, just pick a style you like… Black on white, of course… Where? There’s a shop on the Rue Soleil in Quebec. They’ve done my T-shirts for years. I used to live there a long time ago…d’acord…I’ll chat later.”

Bobby was desperately trying not to giggle, “I can’t believe you just did that!” he spluttered.

“Pourquoi pas?”

“It’s not like you. You’re serious. Your middle name would be serious, if it wasn’t Paul. You’re Jean-Paul Beaubier the incredibly serious mutant, who’ s seriously gay and works in a serious business.”

“Bobby, from you own experience, I’d have thought you would have learnt to not judge people by the face they present to the world. Just because I’m serious, you see these things often get exaggerated more than anything else, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a sense of humour. I have a rather large collection of T-shirts, thank you very much, and some of them do have some very snappy slogans on,” said Jean-Paul fully getting into the spirit of things.

“Really?”

“Yes. And Paul isn’t my middle name, it’s half of my first, there’s a hyphen.”

“Tell me one then. God, this sounds like a game of truth or dare,” exclaimed Bobby, having got back into his usual good spirits.

“Let’s see. YES, I’M GAY, NOW LEAVE ME ALONE I got that after I came out, I got fed up with all the moronic questions, the phrase “so you’re gay then?” should be banned, it was wear the T-shirt, or punch half of Canada. Did you want a more cheerful number? How about NO, I CAN’T GIVE YOU AURORA’S PHONE NUMBER? Having the Canadian face of wonderbra for a sister can get a little wearing, you know.”

“They’re very you. Sharp. What’s that word? Wry; that’s it! Got any in French?”

“Of course. But, you don’t speak French, do you?”

“You know what, I think it’s time for some language lessons,” said Bobby, turning to face Jean-Paul and resting his arms on the other man’s shoulders. Bobby felt Northstar’s arms encircle his waist, and he was just thinking of how this made his heart beat faster in his chest, when he stopped thinking at all, as the Canadian lent in and placed his lips on his, and his silver hair brushed against his forehead. They kissed, at first awkwardly and then with abandon, their mouths eager and their hearts free from care. There was no-one here to see them, and this just added to their passion, safe from questing eyes, their kisses became longer and deeper, at once fast and slow as they explored each other’s mouths and revelled in each new sensation. The buzzing of the bees in the garden and the smell of the roses in full bloom became faint and insignificant as the world contracted around them.

They never heard the rustling in the dense overgrowth as Samuel Parres crept out of his den with a thousand burning questions rolling over in his mind.

Our Boy from Long Island

“Hi there and welcome back to the “Dating Gayme” our special gay episode of the “Dating Game” and here’s your hostess with the mostest, Miss Jubilation Lee!”

“Welcome back everyone! Now just before that commercial break, celebrity gay super stud Jean-Paul Beaubier, otherwise known as that dishy superhero the Northstar, picked our boy from Long Island Bobby Drake!” exclaimed Jubilee done up to the nines in a silver drop waist dress with bright pink lilies in her hair.

Erm, Jubes, what the heck are you doing here?” whispered Bobby as the studio lighting began to roast him in his skin.

That’s for me to know, and you to wonder, sweetheart!” whispered the hostess with the mostest as she turned to face camera six.

“And now,” she announced her teeth glistening as if they were made of diamonds, “where are you two camp crusaders gonna go?” and she whipped open the silver envelope, “oh my! An all inclusive break to the sunny shores of Attabur Terru, that jewel of the Pacific, complete with a sea cruise to the verdant Krakatoa, the island that walks like a man.”

And then Jubilee’s smile froze as the VT took over and the man with the chocolate voice began extolling the virtues of the Pacific island tour.

“Waitaminute,” said Bobby, “the new X-men fought the walking island years ago and sent it into outer space!”

Jubilee turned and once again smiled that perfect smile, there was a distinct “ping” as her teeth glinted in the bright lights of the studio, “Oh dahling! Don’t worry! Mojo TV can get anything! It’s all possible with the magic of television.”

And then Bobby noticed that Jean-Paul was wearing the same fixed smile and glassy gaze. And so was Paige on the floor with a clipboard. And so was the Professor behind the camera. And so was Kurt the warm up guy.

And then Bobby screamed, “Arrrrrrrghhhhhh!”

And then he fell out of bed.

Laying there tangled in the sheets, Bobby looked up at the ceiling. The dreams hadn’t stopped, they’d changed and he would give anything to have the old ones back. The ones where Jean-Paul danced around the room naked except for the sheen of baby oil covering his pale skin. The one with the swimming pool where they got up to lots of…erm… exercise. Bobby would even have settled for the one where the girls carried out a perfectly orchestrated panty raid on the guy’s locker room and the effect was embarrassing to say the least. They were normal dreams. These ones, however, were fricking insane.

Bobby dusted himself off, grabbed a pair of shorts and made for the staff kitchen seeking that elixir of life known as coffee.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get any more normal in the kitchen. Quite the opposite.

“Come on, now, Kurt, those shorts are fricking indecent. I’m only calling them shorts because I don’t know what else to call them. You could come in here in a loincloth and you’d still be more dressed.” Bobby walked into the kitchen to find his new boyfriend in animated conversation with Nightcrawler, who was wearing the shortest shorts Bobby had ever seen. Well, the shortest shorts Bobby had ever seen outside certain specialised publications that had somehow, unbeknownst to him, made their way under his bed.

Then Bobby made his way round to his lover’s side, and, leaning on the back of his chair, discovered that Kurt if ever in want of gainful employment could easily find himself work with those selfsame magazines. Maybe not exactly the same magazines, thought Bobby, but I’m pretty sure there must be one with a title like “Studs in Spandex” and if there isn’t, there will be after they see him.

Nightcrawler was wearing, as you might have deduced by now, a very short pair of gym shorts that just skimmed the top of his midnight blue thighs. The red silk contrasted brilliantly with the blue fur. They were also very, very, tight. Bobby began to feel a burning desire to sit down very quickly, preferably on the other side of the stout kitchen table. He looked down at his boyfriend, clearly great minds thought alike.

“I don’t think so. They are sehr praktisch really. I mean, if I’m going to swing around the gym, I need something that gives me complete freedom to move. I mean, you worked in a circus once, didn’t you Jean-Paul, you know the kind of work involved. And there really aren’t any young and pure maidens about at this time in the morning.” Kurt glanced towards the clock, it was four thirty in the a.m., a time that Bobby had hitherto believed not to exist.

“No, you’re not wearing them because they’re practical, Kurt, you have tights for that. You’re wearing them because you’re a little slut.” Jean-Paul was not letting being in love get in the way of being his usual acerbic self, plus he had now been sitting very very still in a self-conscious fashion for nigh on twenty minutes.

Kurt’s mouth opened slightly and he froze in shock for a moment, then his posture changed slightly and he ran his tongue over his sharp pointed front teeth. What had previously been painfully noticeable was now very noticeable indeed, from the tight shorts to Kurt’s bare chest to the slight tilt of his slim hips.

“Robert, I think our little slut here needs to be taught a lesson, n’est pas? Do you agree?”

Bobby nodded mutely. He didn’t really trust his mouth on this one.

There was a blur of movement and then Nightcrawler found himself hauled bodily over Jean-Paul’s lap with his chest held firmly down onto the speedster’s thighs. Jean-Paul waved his free hand in the air. Kurt hadn’t teleported away because he was either too far in shock or he wanted to find out how far Jean-Paul was willing to go.

“Robert? I really think our little tease here needs a spanking. For his own good, you understand.” Something dark glinted in Northstar’s eyes and it thrilled Bobby. Here was the one person who didn’t expect the sweet little Bobby act, the one person who could see inside those dark recesses of his mind and do all those things he desperately wanted to do. Bobby yearned now for some time when they would be totally alone, preferably in a bedroom, but that was not an absolute prerequisite, he’d settle for the potting shed, when he could tell Jean-Paul exactly what he wanted to do.

One perfect hand took his smile as signal and painfully slowly swung down onto those teasing shorts. There wasn’t any reaction from Kurt. And then the hand swung down again slightly faster the palm flatter and Kurt wiggled in that vice-like grip. And then the hand swung faster still and a surprised squeal came from the blue-furred teleporter’s lips.

Jean-Paul raised the hand again and paused, turned his head to one side, and said, “Do you want a go, Bobby?”

Bobby grinned. Then he heard the voice, “’Morning Bobby, ‘morning Johnny, not disturbing you, am I? Just getting myself a six pack for breakfast.” and Logan strolled up to the massive refrigerator, grabbed his beer and headed back into the corridor without a backward glance.

BAMF! Kurt disappeared only to reappear by the kitchen door, clearly he had miscalculated the distance in his… uh… distraction, and ran awkwardly into the corridor, “Logan, mein freund, I can explain.”

The camp crusaders (Bobby had decided he rather liked the phrase) heard a growly voice come back, “Don’t wanna hear it Elf, whatever you wanna do for kicks is fine by me, just don’t do it in the kitchen, it’s enough to put a guy off his beer.”

“Aber…” Jean-Paul and Bobby didn’t hear anything more; they were too busy laughing.

Desperately Seeking Kurt

“Leiber Gott! Was habe ich getan? What have I done?” Kurt had been repeating those words near endlessly for half an hour now, not that anyone would know. He had secreted himself in the attic space of the mansion, squeezed under beams and climbed over walls to be here in his secret place where he knew nobody could find him. Nobody could even follow him here, Kurt knew that, nobody at all had that same agility and contortionist’s physique that had led the way to his sanctuary, not even Remy, had he been in the mansion, could have followed him through the narrow spaces and around the burning hot pipes of the loft.

Kurt had found his little sanctuary that long ago day when he had first joined the X-men, desperately questing out a safe haven amongst the noise and the people. This was where he went when he wanted to go home, and just like home it was secret and safe. People thought of Kurt as a people person, but really, when he came to mansion, and even now, large gatherings of people fazed him, he had only seen people from outside his circus family when he had come to perform, all he knew were great impersonal audiences in need of entertainment, his real life was a secret one, one of hiding from visitors in trunks, one of staying in the shadows unseen and unheard.

All Kurt knew how to do with other people was perform, and perform he did. He played the merry clown, he was Errol Flynn swinging from the rigging, he was the young idealist priest. And all this was what – an act? Was anything of him and his life real at all? He asked himself these questions and the intangible answers terrified him. He howled again softly in his pain.

In the comfort of the darkness, he was aware of nothing but himself and the performances that seemed to be his life. A performer never has to worry about what happens after he leaves the stage, but Kurt knew in his heart that he could not leave the stage called life, or at least not without making his own exit and he dare not question the immortal playwright, and thence he had to suffer the consequences. What did his friends think of him now? What was he? A wastrel, a tease, nothing that he really was, not the man who lived within his swift beating heart.

So absorbed in his misery was Kurt, that he did not notice the ghostly form clad in blue glide silently upwards through the floor. He did not notice as Kitty looked at his hunched over back in the sad solitude of his den and desperately fought back tears, he was so different from the Kurt she knew, and this hurt her, but whether it was because Kurt felt the need to hide his true feelings or that he had hidden his true feelings from her that did this, she did not know.

“Hey, fuzzy,” simple words as she reached out to him with a ghost-like hand as insubstantial as the wind and he jerked around suddenly his breath catching in his throat, “fuzzy, don’t worry, I’m not here to preach. I’m just here to see you. You can talk to me if you want, or I’ll leave you alone, it’s your choice.”

“Kaetzchen, what have I done? What have I done?” Kurt said in a voice that was husky and lacked its normal timbre.

“The way I see it, you were just mucking around. Kurt, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing at all. If anything, I think it shows that you’re comfortable in you own skin, er… fur, that you can joke like that with Bobby and Jean-Paul, that’s what they say it was, a joke. Sure, maybe that joke went a bit too far, but still a joke. They know you weren’t serious about it, they’ve been telling everyone that…”

“Telling…everyone…?” Kurt had picked up on words that really Kitty would have preferred him not to.

There was no way for Kitty to break this gently, at least none that she could find, and so, she did what she felt a friend should do and told it as it was, “Well, Logan told Jubilee…”

She got no further. Even languishing in the depths of despair and confusion, Kurt was sharp enough to know how this story would end, “and she told everyone.”

“Yeah, pretty much. Logan’s really sorry about that, but you know what Jube’s like. And she posted it, or at least her version of it on the school BBS, that’s how I found out. Annie’s been telling anyone that Jube’s missed, if that’s possible.”

“Leiber Gott. Everyone knows. Everyone. The whole school.” Kurt was in shock. His nightmare had expanded to a new level, probably a dark basement with no way out populated with axe murderers and Texan circus impresarios.

“Pretty much, elf,” said Kitty trying to inject some cheer into her voice, “though look on the bright side…”

“Whelche bright side?” snapped Kurt

“If you were trying to convince everyone that Jean-Paul and Bobby were nice normal people, you have. Our resident rumour mongers have forgotten all about them. Plus they’re doing all they can to salvage your good name…”

“Or what’s left of it,” said Kurt without any enthusiasm whatsoever. He just wanted to hide and then this would all go away.

“Don’t dwell on that. We’ve got to think what we’re gonna do next!”

Public Service Announcements

“Come on, Paige, it’ll be fab. You know you want to do this!”

Husk looked back at Jubilee through her long blonde bangs, “Gee, I’m not sure about this, Jubes. Don’t you think that this is, well a bit vampiric?”

“Nah, and anyway it’s a public service. News broadcasting is a public service, everyone knows that. People need to know what’s going on,” blathered Jubilee grabbing more tightly at her cohort’s wrist and dragging her down the corridor.

“Jubes, I’m really not sure about this.”

“People need to know. I need your girl scout camcorder badge. Come on.” Jubilee dragged Paige into the staff kitchen, “Look coast’s clear. Nobody’s even gonna know it’s you behind that camera, Hayseed.”

BEEP! “Okay, J, I’ve turned it on. But I’m still not sure about this.”

“It’ll be fine,” Jubilee turned towards the camera and smiled, “Hello and welcome to Jubilee TV, the show that puts the ooh in news! Behind me is the Xavier school staff kitchen, where, sources have told me, something more than cooking was taking place. Kurt Wagner, the man known as the Nightcrawler, was seen here with known gay superheroes Jean-Paul Beaubier, the Northstar, and his newly “out” boyfriend Bobby Drake a.k.a the Iceman. What does this mean? They could have been just up to some early morning cookery. But no, our exclusive source has told us that what they were up to was a different kettle of fish entirely. I can reveal, that these guys were indulging in a covert spanking session. If they hadn’t been disturbed, who’d have known what might have happened. Maybe, this kitchen would have been the location of the Xavier School’s first ever gay orgy, first orgy of any sort really. Questions have been raised before about Kurt Wagner’s sexuality, and now, we go to our medical specialist and agony aunt, Nurse Annie, for the low-down on Kurt Wagner’s inner turmoil.”

The camera kept filming until Jubilee furiously mouthed “Cut” at Paige.

BEEP! The camcorder was off and back in the bag hanging from Paige’s shoulder. And then they were running through the school and down into the med lab below.

“And camera! Hello, now we’re in the med lab talking to resident nurse, Annie, Xavier’s resident expert. So, Annie, when did you first think there was something odd about Nightcrawler?”

“Erm… well… when I set eyes on him really, I guess, I mean I just saw that tail dangling from the ceiling and...”

“Let me rephrase that: when did you notice something odder about Nightcrawler?”

“Oh, that. Well, after we found Iceman and Northstar necking furiously in the sick bay, Kurt went to great pains to tell us how broad minded he was about sex. I suppose that should’ve set alarm bells ringing. I mean, who knows what kind of damage seeing his tutor having oral sex with another man could have done at such an early age. I mean, I’m all for openness and all that, but I think that was going too far…”

“Herr Wagner told you this?” interrupted Jubilee for her viewers’ clarification.

“Yes, yes he did. He also told us that he had a sexual relationship with his foster sister. That just doesn’t seem healthy to me, but it got me thinking. And when I saw that picture of him in that dress,” Jubilee held a copy of the incriminating photograph up to the camera, “well then, it all made sense. Clearly without a real mother figure, Kurt felt driven to find someone to fill that role, in a nurturing sense with his sister (and from what I’ve heard anyone else’s sister too) and trying to express his feminine side in that dress. What he said about apache accountants in a parallel world is obviously a swiftly fabricated cover story not just to conceal his actions, but also to assuage his own sense of guilt. And with recent events, it seems clear that his early sexual experience has had an effect on his mind. Note the satin shorts were of the same bright cerise colour as the dress, showing that he still sees himself in rather feminine terms. Clearly, his bravado, is an attempt on his part to disguise his true nature. And if he’s seeing this, I’ll just like to say, there’s no need to hide, Kurt, nothing untoward happened to Jean-Paul and Bobby after they came out, and nothing’ll happen to you if you have the courage to be yourself.”

BEEP! Paige turned off the camera. “How’s that?”

“Perfect, just perfect!” cried Jubilee, “especially that bit at the end, Annie. It’s just so touching and I’m sure it’ll make the world of difference to Kurt.”

Paige thought; something was bugging her, “Jean-Paul and Bobby!” she gasped.

“No, hayseed, we’re not interviewing those two. This is meant to be a serious news programme. And anyway, what I’ve heard, they’re covering up for him.”

“No, I mean, Jean-Paul and Bobby, what’ll happen to them if Warren finds out. Darn it, I barely talked him out of really hurting Jean-Paul last time and now what with Kurt and everything…”

“He’s in Atlanta, isn’t he, sweetcheeks?” said Jubilee.

“Yes…” said Paige, not really getting Jubilee’s point.

“So he won’t find out, will he? He doesn’t get the bulletin board system. And, by the time he’s got back it’ll have blown over and he’ll just think it’s some stupid rumour.”

“Gee. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Come on, let’s polish this up, now! Bye Annie!” Jubilee grabbed Paige’s hand and they ran out of the med lab.

Some time in Xavier’s extensive multimedia communication facilities later and the master copy was complete. Jubilee had sat in wonder as Paige cut and trimmed their interviews in cyberspace, before downloading them onto disk.

“So how do we do this again?” asked Jubilee dazed by technology.

“To get this out on the school network, we have to get in. We can’t do this on one of the student terminals as it’ll have to be moderated and there’s no way they’re going to let this birdie fly. So we’ll have to get on to a terminal with proper access, and that’ll be Kitty’s ‘cause I’m sure as heck not going to touch Sage’s, and then we hack in and post it on the BBS before they find out.” Paige had been seduced by the enormity of what they were doing, forget the school rule – sorry, conduct code – they’d be breaking, this would be a great blow for freedom of speech!

It took rather less time than Paige had anticipated to hack into Kitty’s terminal, the password somewhat unimaginatively was Lockheed. Dang it, thought Paige, Kitty’s so damn smart then she does something like that, but then who am I to complain?

They were sitting in the main common room with Annie waiting for their little timebomb to hit the screens, when Kurt walked into the room.

This wasn’t any Kurt they’d seen before. For starters, there were his clothes; there were rather less of them. He was wearing a belted white kilt, or perhaps a loin cloth, that stopped mid thigh and his chest was bare except for the stout straps holding jewelled scabbards to his back, a gold diadem held back his uncontrollable hair, and a long and elaborate earring dangled from his left ear. Kitty hadn’t been entirely sure about the earring, but Kurt couldn’t be persuaded to leave it out. And then there was his posture, he held himself differently, normally he slouched a little, but now he had drawn himself to his full height and walked with confidence, carrying one of the bejewelled scimitars in his hand.

Everyone looked at him. Nobody spoke. The only thing to be heard was the hum of the bulletin board screen.

Then Northstar, stood up and laughed out loud, “I said you’d be more dressed if you wore a loincloth! And I was right!” The girls sunk back into their chairs they had counted on Northstar not being around to witness Jubilee TV in all its glory, and they hadn’t even thought about Nightcrawler coming out of the woodwork and there were only fifteen seconds to go.

“This’ll fox everyone who thinks that clothes maketh the man!” said Kurt his usual high spirits apparently restored, “I wore this little number on Excalibur’s little jaunt down the sidereal string too, and I’m rather more fond of it. Queen Kymli gave it to me after we defeated Anjulie and her evil tentacled blob thing.”7

Kurt did a pirouette and some discretely tried to ascertain whether the blue-furred X-man was wearing underpants and their faces fell when their eyes confirmed this was the case.

Northstar slapped Kurt on the back and invited him to sit with him and Bobby.

That moment Jubilee TV made its on screen debut.

Media Darlings

Everyone in the rec room froze as Jubilee TV hit the view-screens. Paige wanted to be somewhere else and was on the verge of husking into the same tasteless floral chintz as the sofa, Annie wanted to find out if Kurt was going to face his demons and come out as a bisexual transvestite with a pretty-much-everything fetish, and Jubilee had a strange faraway smile on her face hypnotised by her own genius.

But the eyes of everyone in the room weren’t on them, it was on the now not so merry trio sitting on the white leather sofa. Martha had borrowed Sophie’s eyes to have a look and was wondering how the gay men had managed to pick the most tasteful and stylish chair out of all the mismatched furniture in the room and whether they would advise on what colour she should get her new bottle in, she rather fancied pink but was that all too much?

Bobby didn’t know what to do; he knew he ought to freeze Jubilee’s perky little ass for doing this to his friend but he couldn’t help but admire her pluck, he’d never attempted a stunt like this and never would. Snowballs, ice-slides, buckets of water over doors; all this wonderful things had, in Bobby’s mind one thing in common, none of them were going to hurt anyone’s feelings for more than five minutes, none of them were going to leave somebody scarred for life with only selling their story to the National Enquirer to look forward to.

Jean-Paul was desperately thinking with his swift mind, to try and find a course of action that would not result in his dismembering Miss Jubilation Lee and her cohorts. Not, he would have to admit, because he had any particular moral qualms about that course of action, but rather because it would get him kicked off the team and then how would he see cher Robert again? He was a man of the world, he knew long-distance relationships never worked, and without the wonderful light that Robert bought into his life, how would he drive away the darkness of fear and doubt that preyed eternally on his mind…

And what of Kurt Gainsborough Wagner? What of him, the Elf, the Crawler of the Night, the Bogie, known by so many names and so many guises to mankind, and by Blueberry Muffin to certain select young ladies? What of his mind, his soul, the centre of his being, cast cruelly adrift on the seas of self doubt and loneliness?

Kurt felt the ropes holding him to the safe harbour of identity being cut. He watched reality grow smaller and smaller in the distance as he floated away on an ocean of sound-bites and flim-flam. He was a sole survivor cast adrift by a mutinous crew, cast out upon the wine-dark sea. He could hear the gulls and cormorants circling overhead, waiting for that moment when they could scavenge his blue-furred flesh from his bones. He could just see, almost beyond sight, the dark shadows of sharks following in his wake as the foaming waves grew ever higher.

He was Captain Bligh of The Bounty, he grasped that identity in the midst of the storm, as the winds of rumour drove the cutting rain into his face. And yet he stood there proudly, at the prow of his boat, as every wave drenched his clothes and began to fill the unprotected lifeboat that was without oars without supplies and without hope. Still he stood there, looking back at his distant tormentors, the treacherous curs, who had left him to the vagaries of the elemental ocean, rather than face him in an honourable fight. And he laughed at them. Laughed at the hand that fate dealt him as a dangerous light glinted in his almond-yellow eyes. He would defy them all, or die trying, felled by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

The laugh caught everyone unawares, there was a collective intake of breath as they all looked at Kurt and saw him standing there, sword in hand, laughing in the face of Destiny and trashy tele-journalism. Most saw that dangerous, electrifying look in his eyes and tried desperately to break their gaze but could not.

Gaveedra7 the warrior of the Cadre know to all men who know fear (and his substantial fan club in an alternate dimension) as Shatterstar, at last looked away from the television screen with bold and gargantuan effort, and beheld with shining eyes, that man, the Nightcrawler, and something grew bright in his hearts. Here at last, was a real man, a man the worthy equal of any of the Cadre; and he without turning spoke in a soft voice that only his paramour could hear and in a language that only his paramour, the seismic Rictor, could understand, “Now that truly, is a man, do you think he would enjoy the honour our company? And then we could teach him the ways of warriors and the pure love of comrades in arms. Would he like MTV?”

At that moment the ground began to shake with a jealous lust-tinged fury. And still Kurt laughed. And stood there, steady, with his eyes focused on some ethereal distance. Martha, for the first time since she had come to live in a jar through the callous manipulations of John Sublime, felt desperately sick and the white matter of her attenuated nervous system tried desperately to wrestle with a phantom stomach and ghost limbs. This was not helped by the fact she had patched her way into sweet Ernst’s eyes, too, so that she might better judge the contents of Kurt’s kilt. As a result, the world jarringly swung this way and that, as if she was looking through a broken stereoscope. She could feel her absent/not absent eyes water and spin and she began to sink beneath the psionic feedback flooding in the room.

And then everything stopped. The feed to the view screen cut out. And Julio Esteban Richter heard in his mind, a cooly seductive voice whisper, O Julio, I think you should keep your passions in check in the future. My, my, isn’t he big and of course, he’s all yours isn’t he? Why should I be embarrassed, tell me? I’m a qualified sex therapist. I kept the certificate by my bed. And a copy in my Louis Vuitton, in case of emergencies. Frankly, you’re an amateur. Not that I have anything against amateurs, they can be quite creative sometimes. Oh my, do you really think a sweet, gentle, church-going boy like Kurt Wagner could do something like that? It’s not as if you’re ever going to find out. He’s straight. Well, I think he’s straight…

All those words wrote themselves indelibly on Rictor’s mind, and left a few handy sex tips and a quadruple-x video from Amsterdam’s X-Corps Chapter, in a fraction of a pico-second.

And then, WHAT IN ALL THE CIRCLES OF HELL INCLUDING THE ONES DANTE DIDN’T PUT IN HIS FRANKLY OVER-RATED POEM IS GOING ON? KURT/JEAN-PAUL/BOBBY/KITTY/ANNIE/PAIGE AND JUBILEE COME TO MY OFFICE AT ONCE! And, Miss Jubilation Lee, you have a lot of explaining to do.

Interview Technique 101

This was going to be easy, thought Jubilee, okay not easy because the amazing Frost Woman, whose thoughts could freeze at a thousand paces and whose allure was irresistible to men (at times she had considered getting a bustier herself), had finally shoed everyone else out of the office. Everyone else consisting of anyone whose names weren’t Paige, Annie and Jubilation.

Ms Frost had been calling her Jubilation, that was not a good sign in her book, it probably meant she was in trouble, but then, Ms Frost calling her Jubilee outside of the field would have meant that the end of the world was nigh and Nathan was having Scott’s baby. And that was just ewww… majorly major ick there, but it could just happen, especially if a certain creepy doctor took up gynaecology.

Ms Frost was staring at Jubilee and she realised that she ought to be looking a) ashamed and b) like she was listening.

Ms Frost wasn’t speaking in that coolly seductive whisper that was still giving Julio tremors back in the rec room, nor was she using that reasonable understanding tone she had used on the guys five minutes ago. When Kurt had somehow got it into his head to suggest, bashfully, that this wasn’t all their fault and Emma had made a long speech about discipline and examples and discretely massaged the guilt centres in his brain.

Ms Frost was piss… very very annoyed. More annoyed than when Jubilee had turned the staircase back in Massachusetts into a ski-slope with lots of big white sheets and a pail of nails. More annoyed than when she found a frog in her best bustier and a mysterious lingering smell of burnt rubber. And probably, or so Jubilee had thought, more annoyed than when Jean had discovered her in bed with Scott wearing her old Phoenix costume, and thinking about it, it was probably the costume that made Jean go postal.

Annie had got off lightly, been told that the National Enquirer had warped her brain and it was clear that she thought she had in some way been genuinely helpful; and should a) consider the decorum required of Institute staff and her role in setting an example b) go and see Hank and get a remedial reading list to stop the atrophy of her brain and c) not jump to conclusions or Emma would stop her ability to gossip with a little psychic brain surgery, the way you do.

Paige had got off lightly, or at least lightly-ish, and had been told that Jubilee had led her astray and she was to write a long essay on personal privacy and spend the next month working with Sage on database security and cicely (or at least that’s what it sounded like) protocols.

And Jubilee was beginning to get worried since it was so clear that Frosty was actually, you know, frosty and had been working herself up to deal with the person who she thought was responsible for this media explosion. So, any port in a storm, Jubilee grabbed on to one old piece of advice: in a tough interview it always helps to imagine the interviewer naked.

It wasn’t as if this was hard, she was so naked already, Jesus H Christ, Jubilee thought, she’s wearing even less clothes than back when she and Sean (ne’er Mr Cassidy, lass) Cassidy were all hormones-at-dawn and perpetually five minutes away from dragging each other into the stationary closet. And what could a fully qualified Sex Therapist do with a pencil, huh? Okay, maybe that was taking the whole naked thang a bit too far.

Still, it looked like Mr Summers was a bad influence on Frosty, Jubilee thought about that for a moment, and threw it in with the Nate and Scott baby idea.

So, imagining Ms Frost naked wasn’t hard work, actually it was quite fun, imagining her unexpectedly naked in all sorts of places, like the canteen, as a result of a super sneaky telekinetic attack by Jean or maybe Rachel. Quite a lot of fun really, since it enabled her to fade out the irate White Queen’s ranting ‘til she couldn’t even hear what she was saying.

It was only when Ms Frost’s tone of voice changed, that she snapped out of it, only to find herself looking into big concerned eyes, it wasn’t a usual look on the White Queen, so it’s hardly surprising that she almost fell out of her chair.

“There, Jubilee, or do you prefer Jubes?” said Ms Frost, the very image of motherly concern (which is a hard thing to do in a bustier, a g-string and a pair of thigh boots, so it has to be admired that Emma could do it, even if it might owe something to mimetic programming), “Why don’t you come sit over here, on the chaise, and I’ll make you something soothing to drink.”

Jubilee moved to the chaise in shell-shocked silence as Ms Frost busied herself making hot chocolate, “It’s Green and Blacks, fully organic, of course, I have only the best for my girls, you know that, don’t you, Jubilee?

Surely you know that I am always there for my girls, for I am in my prime, and it belongs to you, Jubilee, you have to remember that, I’ve dedicated it to girls like you, making up for the sins of the past, my dear girl.”

Ms Frost pierced her with a hard-soft gaze of great intensity from the armchair, “Oh Jubes, why didn’t you tell me? Why did you feel you had to keep it a secret…”

Obi-wan, I am getting a bad feeling about this, thought Jubilee.

“…Oh Jubilation, why didn’t you come speak with me, or one of the student counsellors, Karma for instance, or even Jean-Paul, he can be remarkably sensitive behind that bitchy exterior so very like my poor brother Christian. You see, that’s what happens if you keep this inside you, refuse to let it out, refuse to be yourself. You end up like my brother, trapped afraid and alone, you could even turn to drugs; too nervous to take that one step to freedom. Of course, Jubilee, I understand if you’re embarrassed, I understand if you want to keep it under your hat for the moment, but you must realise that you have my full understanding and support whatever you choose…”

Oh god, Jubilee thought, she thinks I’m… Interview advice so sucks, I’m so going to get Mr Cassidy for this and his stupid careers talk…

Footnotes

1. Paige Guthrie had superspeed? Yup! Back in the House Of Correction story line in Generation X 62 onwards. Funny, everyone seems to have forgotten. back

2. When did the Northstar get asked out by Sasquatch, I hear you ask, that can’t be in Comic Continuity. Oh Yes it is! Dear reader, it was when Walter got turned into (the much better looking) Wanda and found that Aurora wouldn’t date him in his new body. He really should have twigged when Northstar said that he preferred him as a guy. back

3. What did Rictor say to Multiple Man? He only asked whether he’d ever had an orgy with himself. Evidence suggests that Jamie hasn’t: he’s been too busy practising his one-man barbershop chorus. back

4. Kurt can be seen in a dress in part of the Cross-Time-Caper storyline in Excalibur. Quite possibly the longest multi-part story to ever appear in only one Marvel Comic. It weighs in at around twelve issues. If it isn't available in trade, it should be, though you can definitely get the earliest issues of Excalibur in trade now. Go read!back

5. I’m quite sure you don’t want to know what Nightcrawler was swearing, but anyway, for the terminally immature, it is “Shit! Double Shit! Double Shit with a Cherry on top!” People who know me will be unsurprised. A Kirsch isn’t part of your anatomy, except in certain select circumstances, Annie isn’t the only one who needs language lessons back

6. Hufte are hips. Nice slim ones are kind of handy if you want to get into a very tight red dress, they are an absolute nuisance if you don’t. back

7. Kurt’s outfit is indeed one from the Cross-Time Caper in Excalibur 16 (I think). It is very much the Xena/ barbarian hero type of get up. This was one of the best Nightcrawler stories ever, as it played on his expectations of high adventure and had him at his most Errol Flynn like. Oh, and it has a bedroom scene. And a Jaqcuzi scene. I kid ye not. Go read it and discover how to treat a girl Nightcrawler style! back

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