Twinkies, Holdups and Other Things that Aren't Good For You
L. Burke

"Scott!"  Scott Summers heard Bobby Drake voice echo down the hall.  Bobby ran breathless in to the dorm room they shared.  "I'm so glad I found you!  I'm in really big trouble."

Scott rolled his eyes behind his glasses not bothering to look up from the book he had been reading.  "What now?  Did Warren find out that you used his toothbrush to clean the shower again?"

"Worse," Bobby stated.

"Hank found out that you ate his entire hidden stash of Twinkies?"

"Worse," Bobby announced.

"You played an evil practical joke on Jean and she's looking to trounce you?"

"Close.  I killed Blinky," Bobby stated miserably.

"Blinky?" Scott asked, finally looking up from his book.

Bobby started jumping from foot to foot.  "You know Hank's Blinky."

Scott gave him a confused look until it suddenly clicked.  "Hank's lab rat Blinky?  Blinky the one he rescued by breaking in to an animal research facility?  Blinky the rat for whom Hank carefully measures out food everyday to optimize his life span?"

Bobby nodded miserably.  "I killed him."

Scott blinked at him and asked, "How?"

Bobby bit his lip.  "I sorta fed him a Twinkie."

"Well he definitely looks dead to me," Warren stated calmly.  The three of them were gathered around Blinky's cage looking down at one dead rat.

"Blinky the wonder rat definitely went to that big chunk of cheese in the sky," Scott stated dryly.

"Hank's going find out about this.  What am I going to do?  He's going to kill me."

"He'll know you knocked off Blinky on purpose.  Professional jealousy," Warren said with glee to Scott.  "Blinky figured out that last maze faster than Bobby did.  Bobby just couldn't take being outscored by a rat."

Bobby stuck his tongue out at Warren.  "Did not!"

"Calm down Bobby," Scott interjected calmly.  "We just tell him the truth.  You didn't mean to kill Blinky."

"Funny," Warren announced dryly, trying very hard to keep a straight face.  Warren was looking down at the very dead rat.  "I always pictured us prying a Twinkie out of Hank's cold stiff fingers.  You know after a two-handed, Twinkie dose of death."

"You're not funny," Bobby retorted, "We can't tell Hank what happened.  He threatened that if I even touched Blinky's cage, he would tie me up to a lightning rod, wrap me in tin foil, and put me out during an electrical storm."

Scott took a deep breath, reaching for his legendary self-control.  "How do you know the Twinkie killed Blinky?"

Bobby took at deep breath.  "Well, he was looking so lonely and miserable in his cage.  I gave him some M&M's.  They always make me feel better."

"I always knew that those little candy-coated chocolate candies of death would be responsible for the demise of someone Hank cared for."

"Shut up Warren," Scott broke in.

Bobby took another breath "Well the M&M's seem to cheer him up really well but he still seemed sad, so I thought I would give him some Mountain Dew."

"He did the Dew or maybe the Dew did him?"  Warren was still trying to keep a straight face and failing miserably.

"Shut up Warren," Scott said again.

Bobby glared at Warren and continued, "That really helped.  He still seemed a little sad, though, so I gave him my last Twinkie."

"He died by Twinkie overdose.  Hank will be so jealous."  Warren was now laughing into Scott's shoulder.  "Hank always wanted to die smothered by Twinkie wrappers."

"What am I going to do?  Hank is going to kill me," Bobby stated quite seriously.

Scott sighed.  "Bobby get a Ziploc bag.  We'll go to the pet store and replace Blinky.  Hank will never know."

"What does the rat look like?  What type of stupid question is that?  It's just a plain ordinary lab rat."  Scott held the Ziploc bag up in front of his face so he could inspect the dead rat a little more carefully, all the while talking on the phone to the pet store clerk.  "Well he's sorta white."

"And bloated," Warren added in cheerfully.

"He has a pink nose, and a black spot on his right foot," Bobby chipped in, glaring at Warren.

Scott rolled his eyes at both of them as he continued to speak to the clerk.  "He's medium size but he's on the fat side."

"And stiff as a board," Warren stated gleefully.

Scott glared at Warren.  "He's just a plain ordinary lab rat, except he has a black spot on his right foot."

"He also has his tongue sticking out like this," Warren said, striking did a classic dead, crossed-eyed with tongue sticking out of the side of the mouth pose.  Bobby kicked Warren in the shin.

Scott ignored the both of them and continued talking to the pet store clerk.  "You might have a rat that fits that description.  That's great.  We'll be right down to look at it."

Bobby was dancing around chanting, "I'm saved."

Right then Hank McCoy came sulking in to the room while carrying a box.  Scott quickly hid Blinky behind his back.  "Hank.  What are you doing here?"

Hank's eyes darted back and forth and gave all three of them a glare.  "Nothing.  What are you three doing here?"

"Nothing," the three of them replied quickly.

"That's what I thought you would say," Hank replied.  "You never saw me.  In exchange I never saw what the three of you might be doing in here."

"Deal," Bobby announced

"So what are the three of you talking about?" Hank asked innocently.

"Something even stiffer than Scott," Warren answered cheerfully.  Bobby kicked Warren in the shin again.

"Well, that's very interesting," Hank announced calmly.  "I have to be going.  Later."  With that, he took his box and strode out of the room.

"That was really close," Bobby sighed.

"What do you think Hank's up to now?" Warren asked.

"I don't know.  Hopefully he won't blow up the boathouse again."  Scott threw Blinky over to Bobby.  "Here, I am not getting caught with the murder victim.  I'm going to go get my coat and tell the Professor the three of us are going to town.  Take care of Blinky."

"Maybe he can try to feed Blinky a Tootsie Roll this time," Warren added gleefully.  Scott glared back at him.  Warren put his hands up.  "Okay, okay.  I'll go get my keys.  Though I don't know why I'm so nice to you two."

Scott rolled his eyes at Warren.  "I believe you being nice had nothing to do with it.  If I remember correctly, the word you're looking for is blackmail.  Oh, yes it's coming back to me now," Scott stated dryly.  "Something about you gluing Professor Xavier's favorite pipe back together.  You broke it and I caught you gluing it with Hank's special glue in the kitchen."

"Blackmail is such an ugly little word and so harsh," Warren replied smoothly.  "We are going to get so much mileage out of this from Bobby.  I think I'm going to have him wash my car first.  I'll come up with something more humiliating later."

Bobby Drake was in the kitchen with Blinky when he heard voices coming.  Frantically looking around the kitchen, he tried to find a spot to hide the very dead rat.  As the voices got closer, Bobby ran up to the refrigerator and threw Blinky in the vegetable crisper.  No one would ever find him there.  No one around the school ever ate anything that resembled the color green.

Jean walked in to the kitchen, while talking to a young man.  "Hey, Bobby what's up?"  Jean smiled at him sweetly.

Bobby blinked at her.  "Nothing much.  I'm sorta chilling an old friend.  You?" Bobby replied innocently.

Jean gave him a strange questioning look at that answer.  "Bobby I would like you to meet Joe," she said, gesturing to the young guy that walked in to the kitchen with her.  "Joe, I would like you to meet my classmate, Bobby Drake."

Joe waved to Bobby as he sat down at the kitchen table.  "It's nice to meet you Bobby."  Bobby nodded at Joe.

"Joe and I were going to make ourselves some sandwiches you want one?" Jean asked, as she headed towards the refrigerator.

"No.  I better not.  Scott and Warren are taking me into town," Bobby said, placing himself between Jean and the refrigerator.  "I've got a better idea.  Why don't you and Joe go into the rec room and I'll bring something out to you."

Jean smiled at him.  "That's really sweet of you Bobby, but you just said you were heading to town with Scott and Warren."  Jean stepped past him and opened the refrigerator.  Jean was so wrapped up in talking to Joe that she never noticed she had pulled Blinky out of the crisper and put him on a sandwich.  Bobby thought it might be prudent right then to try to sneak out of the kitchen.

"What is a dead rat doing in the refrigerator?" Jean asked very calmly.  She had only let out one blood-curdling scream when she had almost taken a bite of Blinky.  Now, she was dangling Blinky by his tail.  For a girl, she recovered rather fast, Bobby thought.

Warren, hearing Jean's scream, came running in to the kitchen.  "What's going on in here?"

"I found this in the refrigerator," Jean announced, shaking Blinky by his tail.  "What's it doing in there you ghouls?"

"Hey!" Bobby announced indignantly "Hank's the ghoul.  We think it's a med school requirement."

Warren smirked at Jean's grossed-out expression as she dangled Blinky.  "Bobby's right; Hank's our resident ghoul.  He would be very insulted if he heard you give the title to anyone else.  Look at what he did to the pig eyeballs.  I didn't know they could bounce like that, did you?"

"Yeah, that was really cool.  He let me stab the pins into that pickled frog," Bobby chipped in.

Jean took a deep breath counting to ten.  "What is a dead rat doing in the refrigerator?  And, if I remember correctly, the three of you dared him to bounce the eyeballs around the lab.  The eyeball hit me as I tried to cut in to my poor dead frog.  I ended up cutting his head off by mistake."

"That was pretty cool, too," Bobby added gleefully "The expression on your face when that eyeball hit you and that frog's head flew across the lab...."  Jean shot Bobby a glare and Bobby wisely decided to shut up.  "I will ask again one more time.  What is a dead rat doing in the crisper?"  Warren just gave her an innocent look.  "Chilling for one last Twinkie perhaps?"  Bobby kicked Warren in the shin.

"Where are you two?  We need to get going," Scott's voice called as he entered the kitchen.

"They're explaining what this is doing in the crisper," Jean announced, as she once again shook Blinky by his tail for emphasis.

Scott gave Bobby an exasperated look.  "Bobby, I told you to take care of him.  Look at Blinky, he's covered in mayonnaise.  Wash him off in the sink and lets get going."

Jean took a deep breath to control her temper and tried to figure out what was going on.  "You're taking a dead rat into town?"

"I washed Blinky up in the sink," Bobby butted in, running up to Scott.  "I'll hold him out the window during the car ride to blow-dry him off."

"You're taking a dead rat to town," Jean once again stated.

"He's cool in a dead way."  Bobby maintained.

"I've had worse dates," Warren said dryly.

Scott shrugged at her.  "He's not a big talker and I don't have to pay to get him into the movies.  Come on Bobby we have to get going."  He looked at Joe, who was sitting at the kitchen table.  "It was very nice to meet you . . . ?"

"Joe," Bobby blurted out.

"Well it's very nice to meet you Joe.  Bobby, Warren and I have to get going."  Scott threw his jacket over Bobby's head.  "I hope you enjoy your visit," Scott said as he dragged Bobby out of the kitchen, with Warren following behind them.

"So those are your classmates," Joe stated, "They seem to be a very interesting lot."

Jean smiled at Joe.  "Unfortunately they can be."  Jean just rubbed her head.  "You want to go and get lunch at Harry's?  On me."

Joe smiled back at her ."I would love too.  I have one small problem though.  My arm is glued to your kitchen table."

"HANK!"  Jean's voice echoed through the basement lab.  "I want the solvent right now!"

Hank McCoy pushed the pair of safety goggles he had been wearing onto his forehead.  "What, I might ask, are you talking about?"  He stood to address his teammate, as she walked in to the lab with a very angry look on her face.  "As you can see, I'm a little busy right now.  I and this dinnerware have a date with a blow torch."

That's when Jean noticed the bright, blue plastic dinner plate held tightly in a vise on Hank's lab table.  "What are you doing with that plate?"

"I am going to blowtorch it.  The guarantee says these plates cannot be broken or melted, or your money back.  Sounds like a challenge for science to me.  Care to join my endeavor?  If the blowtorch doesn't work, I'm borrowing the chainsaw."

Jean blinked at him.  "I will never understand how you see everyday objects as challenges," Jean stated dryly.

Hank gave her a snotty look.  "Because I'm brilliant and you're not.  If you don't have the stomach to see dinnerware meet a horrible end, please leave."

Jean took a deep breath.  "I want the solvent for your super tacky glue.  My date's arm is glued to our kitchen table."

Hank gave Jean a very amused look.  "I assure you that's quite impossible.  It's not my glue.  My glue is," Hank spun around and pointed to an empty spot on his shelf.  "Missing and not on the shelf where I put it."  He gave Jean a sheepish look.  "Oh dear.  You're sure it's my glue?"

Jean nodded to him.  "It has the wintergreen smell."

"Oh my.  Oh my stars and garters" Hank muttered.  "You see, I never created a solvent for that particular glue."

Jean counted to ten.  "HANK!"

Hank gave Jean another sheepish look.  "I'll be right up to take a look.  It's just that arm amputation is always an option."

"I'm, like, returning the snake because it, like, doesn't eat people.  " The man standing in front of them in the pet store line droned.  "My cult was, like, really mad because it wouldn't, like, eat our sacrifice.  We're, like, afraid that, like, our dark master will be really pissed.  So we're, like, getting another snake.  One that, like, eats people."

"Dude.  Like how would you know if that snake ate anyone or not," Warren answered back.  "I mean the person would, like, never be able to tell you because they would, like, be in the snake's stomach and all."

The guy blinked at Warren, nodding his head.  At least Warren was entertaining himself.  "Dudes.  I, like, never thought of that."

Scott took one look at the guy's 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt and rolled his eyes.  Scott then looked ahead of them in line where the clerk was still fighting with her boyfriend on the phone.  They were not going anywhere, anytime soon.  "So this is Hell," Scott grumbled to himself.  "I always thought it would be warmer."

"Is that stupid clerk done fighting with her boyfriend yet?"  The young woman standing behind them grumbled as she tapped her foot.  "I have to go home and feed my fish before I hit the gym."  She watched Bobby as he pulled a snowball out of his pocket and gave him a distasteful look.  "Do you know how much fat, calories, and preservatives are in one of those things?  If you want something to eat, you should try a soy shake."

Bobby gave her an absolute look of horror and ducked behind Scott.  "Soy shakes?"

Right then, a young, average-looking guy walked in to the pet store.  He then pulled out a gun and started waving it around.  "This is a hold up!  I want the vault open right now!  No one move and don't even think of going for the alarms."

Scott studied the guy for a moment and asked, "You're new at this aren't you?"

The guy just blinked at Scott's calm question.  "What gives you that idea?  I've robbed lots of banks.  Why?  You better do what I say.  Have the tellers empty the vault.  I swear I'll start shooting."

Scott shook his head and stated calmly, "The bank's next door."

A look of panic crossed the guy's face for a moment.  "I knew that.  I meant to hold up the . . . the --"

"Pet store," Scott supplied for him.

The guy blinked at Scott and started nodding.  "I knew that.  Yeah, I meant to hold up the pet store."

"So Joe," Hank addressed Jean's date as he inspected the spot where Joe was stuck to the table.  "Jean tells me you want to be a writer.  So what somewhat interesting things do you have to say that you think the world might be interested in?" Hank asked as he ducked under the table to see if it was possible to take the table apart.  Hank flinched when he recognized the workmanship.  Scott Summers had rebuilt the table after an accident with his optic beams and had apparently built the table to hold together.  Hank got up from under the table.

"I want to be a reporter actually.  I'm interested in investigating the biotech industry.  No one really understands what those people are doing," Joe replied, missing Hank's dig.

"Yes," Hank replied dryly.  "That would require math skills, such as counting past ten."  Apparently, Hank decided, Joe wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

"I mean, look at what biochemists are feeding us these days," Joe continued.  "All you have to do is look at all the preservatives in a Twinkie.  God knows what that stuff is doing to us."

Hank decided at that moment that he disliked Joe.  Joe wasn't on the bright side, and, added to that fact, he had insulted biochemistry AND Twinkies in the same breath.  No, he and Joe were not going to like each other at all.

"I think you are forgetting the fact that biochemistry does a lot of good.  Look at the new drugs and medicines that researchers are helping to develop.  Not to mention their contributions to genetic research."

"Which they test on animals," Joe announced angrily.  Hank rolled his eyes, and turned to look at Jean.  With his back to Joe, Hank inclined his head towards Joe's direction and put his finger and thumb into the shape of an L on his forehead.  Jean glared at him and asked, "Can you get him out?"

Hank shrugged.  "I can't take the table apart.  I'll have to commend Slim on his excellent handiwork the next time I see him."  Hank glanced at Jean, an evil look spreading across his face when he looked in Joe's direction.  "I would go try to figure out a solvent for this particular bonding agent, except I'm one of those evil biochemists; my time is really divided up between poisoning Twinkies and torturing lab animals."  Jean shot Hank a murderous look and shook her head in a manner that said 'don't do it.'  Hank just donned an innocent expression as he continued, "Lord knows what the chemicals in the solvent would do to him anyway, right?  I really think that amputation is our only option."  Jean glared at him and shook her head again.  Hank ignored her, adding a final comment with a huge amount of glee.  "I'll go get the chain saw."

Scott rubbed his head as he addressed the young man holding the gun -- the densest robber in history.  "Try to follow me here.  Pet store.  No large vaults with money in them."

"Try speaking to him slowly Slim," Warren tossed in, quietly rolling his eyes.  "Try leaving out the big words like 'and' and 'the.'"

Scott addressed the young man holding the gun again.  "Why don't you put the gun down?  If you do, I'm sure that everyone here won't see anything."  Everyone in the pet store just nodded in agreement.  But the young man stood in front of them all, blinking like he wasn't following any of this.

"This is why I'm a firm believer in gun control," Warren said in exasperation.

Bobby shook his head and added in quietly, "Never mind gun control.  How about birth control?"

Warren gave Bobby a thoughtful look and rolled his eyes in agreement.  "You have an excellent argument for THAT standing in front of us, too.  Someone should have given his mother a pamphlet.  People have the nerve to accuse us of being the products of inbreeding."

"Shut up you two.  He's easily confused," Scott growled.  Scott turned and faced the young man again.  "Let's try this again.  Bank has money.  Pet store has pets."  Scott shook Blinky by his tail for emphasis.

The young man holding the gun just blinked for a moment, looking as if he were starting to comprehend what Scott was saying.  "There's a safe right?"

Scott looked up at the heavens and asked, "Why me?"

Jean took a deep breath and smiled at Joe.  Every time she brought a date home the guys always managed to uncover a trait in her date that she hated.  It was not going to happen this time.  Joe had, so far, been nothing but good-natured and calm -- a perfect gentleman about everything that had happened so far.  He was even taking Hank in stride.  Not like her last date, who had left the house screaming and vowing he was becoming a monk.  She still didn't know what Slim had said to him.  All Scott had told her was that her last date just didn't have much of a stomach for mind games.  Next time, her date should consider with whom he was playing first.

Hank walked back in to the kitchen sulking.  Jean had shot down the chainsaw idea.  Hank shot her a pouting look.  "I brought something that should get him unstuck.  Considering you shot down my brilliant idea of the chainsaw," Hank paused, pulling out a beaker.  "This will eat through the glue guaranteed."

Hank walked over to Joe with the beaker.  "This is a very corrosive acid.  It will take the glue right off.  Don't worry about the arm.  I'll get you to a hospital very quickly so they can save what's left of it."  Hank dropped a couple of drops on the table right next to Joe's arm.  The table started bubbling and steaming.  Joe let out a very high-pitched, blood-curdling scream.

"HANK!" Jean roared.

Hank gave her an innocent look.  "You said to find something that would eat the glue."

Jean vowed she was going to murder Hank McCoy.  "Something that won't hurt Joe in the process."

Hank gave her an exasperated expression.  "Well you Ms. Grey, should have been more specific," Hank grumbled under his breath.  "Fine.  I'll go get the bone saw."

Jean watched Hank skulk out of the kitchen.  She smiled at Joe.  So Joe screamed like a woman and would probably faint at the first sight of Magneto; that trait was not going to irritate her.  So what if a guy like Scott had the coolest head she had ever seen?  Scott could face down Magneto with out even breaking a sweat.  Jean smiled at Joe again.  She was perfectly fine with the fact that Joe's scream was higher pitched than her own.  It didn't irritate her at all.  It was a trait she could live with.  Joe couldn't help he was a screamer.

Oh, crap, Jean thought bitterly.  He screams like a woman.

"Apparently we will not be going anywhere for a while," Warren stated dryly.

"At least the guy with the gun realizes that this isn't the bank."

"All he has to realize now is that, with the police surrounding the area, he can't tunnel into the bank," Bobby added.  "We are going to be here for a very long time."

"I still have to hit the gym," the lady from behind them grumbled.

"Dude.  My cult is not going to be happy about this.  I, like, had to bring the new snake over tonight to, like, get ready for tonight's sacrifice."

Scott listened to the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt ramble on and counted to ten.  He was not going to do what the darker side of him was whispering.  So what if the guy fit under the category "Stupid and gullible for a thousand?"  Charles had taught him to be a better person.  He didn't listen to that evil little voice in the back of his head anymore.  So what if it was telling him it would be so easy to play with this guy's head?  He wasn't going to do it.  He was a better person now.  Screw being a better person.

"Bobby," Scott whispered "Can you drop the temp in a room about ten degrees?"

"Sure," Bobby whispered back.  "Do you have a plan?"

"Not to get us out of here -- I'm still working on that one," Scott whispered.  "I do have one to shut up that moron about the snake."

"I'm in," Bobby whispered gleefully.  "This is going to be good isn't?"

"You are going to go down to your lab and make a solvent for that glue," Jean announced angrily to her teammate.  She dangled Hank upside down in a telekinetic bubble, to emphasize her point.

"I don't understand, Ms. Grey, what you are so upset about.  Joe will eventually gnaw his way to freedom.  Just give him a couple of weeks," Hank said cheerfully.  "Besides, leaving him stuck to the table is only doing mankind a favor."

"It's your glue.  You are going to get him unstuck," Jean growled.

"Sorry, just checked my Mad Biochemist Union bylaws and they strictly prohibit any thing that might help a biochemist hating ignoramus.  Sorry, against Union laws."

Jean growled under her breath and counted to ten.  "I'll leave you up there until all the blood rushes to your head and you pass out."

Hank smirked at her.  "You tend to forget my unique physiology.  I spend more time upside down walking on the ceiling than I do walking upright.  That threat might work on any of the others, but not on me.  Try again."  Jean fought the urge to cut the blood flow to Hank's brain.  "Why are you being so difficult about this?  You have only known Joe for what, an hour?  You've spoken what, twenty words to him?"  Hank just shrugged at her.  Jean narrowed her eyes at Hank.  "Don't make me force you to do it."

Hank looked bemused.  "I would very much like to see you try it.  I know that telepathy has its limits.  You can pluck all the raw data out of my head BUT you cannot analyze that data.  You can't copy my thinking processes.  If I had the solvent created already, that just might work, but I don't.  You need my creativity with data to get that solvent made.  You won't get that if you control my brain and force me.  Shame on you Red, someone is very behind in her telepathy reading.  Try again."

"Dude, have you, like, seen my snake?" The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt asked Warren.  "I, like, need to keep track of it."  Bobby and Scott had long taken the snake, and Blinky, and headed towards the back of the store a while ago.

Warren nodded at him.  "The snake is in the back room, man.  You know where they, like, keep all the fish tanks.  My friend needed it.  Something about calling up someone."

The guy blinked at Warren and asked, "Dude?"

Warren had on a completely innocent expression.  "I don't know; my friend didn't say.  Let's go find out shall we?  Need to keep track of the snake, dude."

The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt nodded and followed Warren towards the back of the store.  Warren smirked to himself.  This was going great.

When they walked into the back room, it was completely dark.  The only lighting in the place was the soft multicolored glow coming from the fish tanks.  Bobby had lowered the temperature in the room to the point where you could see your breath.  Scott was sitting in the middle of the floor -- the snake wrapped around him -- in a classic yoga stance, just staring at Blinky.  Blinky was standing upright on what was made to look like a makeshift altar.  Blinky even looked like he had come back to life somehow.  With the lighting the way it was, it looked like Blinky's eyes were glowing red.  With Scott staring at Blinky and Blinky staring back.  It did look like they were in some form of psychic communication.  It was a creepy scene.

When Warren and the guy with the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt walked in, Scott turned to stare at them.  Scott slid his glasses down his nose just enough that one could see his eyes glow.  In the dim light, the whole scene looked rather impressive.  Then, in a voice that could have come straight out of  The Exorcist, Scott calmly stated, "Leave.  You are not welcome here."  Warren decided right then that Scott had missed his calling -- he should be on a stage somewhere.

The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt blinked at Scott and choked out, "Dude?"

Scott let his eyes glow brighter.  "Leave.  I and my master are communicating."  Blinky moved a little.  Warren was extremely impressed.  He might have fallen for this one.

The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt blinked at Scott a couple of times, turned to Warren and exclaimed, "Dude!  He's in league with Satan!"

"We always suspected," Warren said dryly, trying to keep a straight face.

The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt suddenly turned and started talking to Blinky.  "Master, I'm, like, so sorry about the snake Dude!  We, like, tried to get it to eat that, like, victim, but it, like, wouldn't.  That's, like, why I'm here trying to get a new snake.  A snake that will, like, eat people...."

"Silence!" Scott barked.  "Our master is very angry with you.  He is very tempted to wipe you from the earth with his dark powers."

"Dude," the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt broke in.

Scott let his eyes glow brighter.  "I said Silence!  Our Master is very angry with you, but he is going to give you a second chance.  You are to do what I say and do it without question.  Do you understand?"

"Dude," the guy with the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt said, trying to break in again.

"I said, Do you understand?" Scott barked at him once again.  The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt just nodded.  "Excellent!  You will go out front to the front of the story and wait for me to join you.  You will be completely quiet and you will tell no one of what you have seen today.  Is that understood?"  The guy nodded again.  Scott nodded back at him.  "Good.  Go to the wait for me in the front of the store and remember you will say nothing.  Take your friend.  I have no further use for him."  Scott handed him the snake.  With that, the guy swallowed hard, nodded, and headed back towards the front of the store.

Warren leaned against the doorframe with a smirk.  "You know, when Professor Xavier made the two of you learn the reflective properties of ice and light, I just don't see him thinking you two would put it to use like that.  Allow me to be the first one to say good job.  I almost fell for it."

Bobby popped out from where he had been hiding as the lights came on.  "That was fun.  Now that he's your unquestioning lackey, what are we going to with him?"

Warren smirked at Scott.  "Don't you ever worry exposing Bobby to your dark influences at such a young age might warp him?"

Scott shrugged at Warren.  " No ill effects so far," he mused.  "I really need to find a career that allows me to play with peoples minds, souls, and ethical values or else I'm never going to be a happy and fulfilled person."

Warren started chuckling at that remark.  "Have you considered law?"

Scott raised an eyebrow.  "Summers, Happily, Cheatum, and Howe?  I'll have to consider changing my major."

"Well?  What are we going to do with him?" Bobby asked repeating his question.

"Patience Bobby," Scott said calmly.  "I'm still working out the details on a plan to get us out of here.  I need him to be a victim."

"He's going to be a victim?" Bobby asked.

"All his life," Scott said wryly, shaking his head.

"So what do we do now?  We still have that stupid dense guy with the gun to deal with," Warren reminded them.

Scott considered that for a moment.  "I guess we go back to the front of the store and check on the 'stupid dense guy with the gun.'  Hopefully, he hasn't figured out he can't tunnel through cement walls with the spoon I gave him just yet.  Let's hope no one has tried to talk to him and confuse him, so he starts waving the gun around.  I still have a couple of details to work out."

When they got to the front of the pet store, the stupid dense guy with the gun was looking for them.  He walked up to Scott and stated, while holding up the spoon, "This isn't working."

Warren rolled his eyes.  "Apparently our robber needs additional management guidance."

"Has he tried the voices in his head?" Bobby asked innocently.

"How about the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz?" Warren retorted.

"The magic eight ball?" Bobby fired right back.

Scott raised an eyebrow at both of them and shook his head.  "Remember you two?  Easily Confused."  Scott turned and addressed their robber, asking calmly, "Have you tried putting the gun down and using both hands?  You dig harder and faster, then."

The robber looked at Scott for a moment as if he han't comprehended what Scott was saying.  Then he suddenly pulled out the gun, pointed it at Scott, and asked, "What type of moron do you think I am?"

Scott whirled on Warren and Bobby, who both had their mouths open in order to say something.  "If I can't say anything, neither can you two.  That's an order."  Scott took a deep breath and calmly addressed the robber in the same manner he would have spoken to a five-year-old.  "I think you're very bright.  You came up with the plan to tunnel through the wall to the bank all by yourself, without any help from others, didn't you?  I think you just need a little time to make a new plan.  My friends and I are going to sit over by our friend with the snake over there on the shelf.  That way I can watch your brilliant mind work.  Is that okay?  There really isn't a need to start shooting."  The robber just nodded at them and gestured them towards their seats.

"I'm never going to make it to the gym," the lady who'd been in line behind them droned again for about the thousandth time.

"You know Blinky?  Sometimes I think one of us must have the secondary mutant ability of idiot lure," Scott mused, as he held the dead rat up and looked him in the face.

"What's your plan?" Warren asked, rolling his eyes in the direction of their robber, who was pacing back and forth.  "If we wait for him," Warren gestured his head towards the robber, "to think of a way to get out of here, we are going to starve to death.  I can read the headlines now.  'Warren Worthington the III dies among rats'."

Scott raised an eyebrow at Warren.  "Calm down.  People will automatically jump to the conclusion that the rats are of the Wall Street variety."

Warren started chuckling to himself, "That does make me feel better."

"Bobby," Scott addressed to their youngest teammate, who was starting to nod off.

Bobby jumped.  "I'm awake.  What is it?"

"Do you still carry that red permanent marker that Hank uses to correct the grammar on restroom walls?"

"Yeah, I have it in my coat?  Why?" Bobby asked.

Scott studied the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt for a moment before answering.  "I think I have my plan.  I just need to wait for the perfect timing."

An opportunity presented itself not long after that.  The dense guy with the gun was pacing up the aisles of the pet store, hitting the palm of his hand against his head and muttering, "Think.  Think."  Scott imagined that was a rather large order for the guy holding the gun and hoped the robber's brain didn't explode.  The robber suddenly turned to Scott and announced in exasperation, "Why can't I think of another plan?"  Scott wisely decided to wisely remain silent and not say what he was thinking.  The robber pulled the gun out and started waving it around yelling, "Why can't I think?"  Everyone in the pet store hit the floor as the robber waved the gun around erratically.

Bobby lifted his head off the floor for a moment to ask, "Hey mister?  Don't you think it's not a really bright idea waving a loaded gun around like that?"  Scott put his hand on the back of Bobby's head and forced him, face first, into the floor again.

"I know what I doing!  Shut up!" The robber yelled at them.  The robber pointed the loaded gun at his own foot as he continued to shout at everyone on the floor.  That's when Scott heard a loud "BANG!" and flinched.  When Scott looked up, the robber was jumping up and down while holding his foot.  "Dude!" The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt exclaimed.

Bobby looked up from the floor again.  "Hey Mister?  Do you want me to go get some ice to pack that toe in?"

Warren and Scott were once again sitting on the shelf.  Bobby and the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt were crawling around looking for the robber's toe.  They had found it and put it in the Ziploc bag in which Bobby had been carrying Blinky.  The robber was just sitting on a shelf whimpering and holding his foot, but he still was not letting them go.

"Hank is going to be so disappointed about missing this one," Warren grumbled.  "I mean, if I pictured anyone crawling around on the floor looking for a human body part, it was always Hank."  Scott nodded in agreement.

Bobby walked up to them; he was carrying the bag with the toe in it in front of him.  Scott decided that Bobby looked a little pale.  "I don't think I'm EVER going to be a doctor," Bobby, looking sickly, whispered to both of them.

Scott nodded at Bobby.  "You're probably right.  You just don't have the high ghoul factor in you."  Scott then addressed both Bobby and the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt.  "You both did a good job."

"What do I do with it now?" Bobby asked, quietly indicating the toe.

"I want you both to take the toe into the break room.  Pack it in ice," Scott answered quickly.  "Warren is going to give you some money.  Then you both are ordered to get anything you want out of the vending machines.  And Bobby, don't worry about ruining your dinner.  I'll cover for you.  Sound good to you both?"

Amazingly, they both nodded yes at Scott.  The guy in the 'Satan Rules!" T-shirt looked at Scott and exclaimed, "Dude, you're not going to be a bad dark master at all!"  Scott smiled at him and gestured for him to get going.  "Bobby wait up."

"Yeah?" Bobby asked, giving him a questioning look.

"Before you stuff both of yourselves full of junk food," Scott whispered quietly, so no one else would hear, "I want you to do me a favor.  I want you to take that red permanent marker and dot the guy up a bit.  Get his arms and, if he will let you, make a couple of dots on his face.  I want you to make it look like he has some terrible disease.  Tell him that I'm marking him to show my master how happy I am with him as my servant.  Can you do that?"  Bobby nodded affirmatively and started skipping down the aisle of the pet store towards the employee break room.

Warren studied Scott for a moment and asked, raising a blond eyebrow, "Are you expecting Bobby to leave another horrible trail of junk food death?"

Scott nodded at Warren and answered, "Something like that."

"I'm never going to be able to hit the gym," the lady who had been standing behind them announced out loud again to everyone in the pet store.  The clerk who had been fighting with her boyfriend earlier just rolled her eyes and said, "Lady will you just can it?  You're not making it to the gym today."

Scott and Warren both saw what was coming and sighed in unison.  The gym lady narrowed her eyes at the clerk.  "Listen to me.  I exercise ninety-two minutes a day.  I worship at the altar of exercise and Soy Shakes.  Do you know why?  Because my life will be twice the length of all you junk food-eating slugs, guaranteed.  And you," she said, glaring at Scott, who was holding Blinky.  "What are you doing with that dead rat anyway?  Do you know how many diseases they carry?"

Scott raised an eyebrow and answered back dryly, "Like you, encouraging the spread of human misery and pain.  Why?"

Before anyone could fire on off another comment in the lady's direction, Bobby came skipping out of the employee break room.  The guy in the Satan T-shirt was following Bobby, slowly making his way down the aisle.  He was muttering while clenching his stomach "Oh Dude.  I should never have done that eighth Dew."  The would-be Satan worshipper staggered to where Scott and Warren were sitting, and collapsed groaning.  He was holding his stomach and curled up in a fetal position in the middle of the aisle.  Bobby had done his job with the red marker.  The guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt looked like he either had the Boubonic plague, or some other horrible disease.  Bobby shook his head and looked at Scott, and shrugged.  "I don't know what his problem is.  He ate everything I did."

"Everything?" Warren choked out, looking down at the guy in horror.

"That's pretty much what I figured would happen," Scott announced dryly.  The gym lady started backing up very slowly, a horrified expression on her face.

"Well," Warren said, slowly shaking his head at the guy in the 'Satan Rules!' T-shirt, "I think this is a great time to make a two handed, Twinkie toast.  What should we make it to?"

"They didn't have any Twinkies in the vending machine," Bobby butted in.  "But I've got Ho Ho's and some more Mountain Dew."

Scott raised an eyebrow and responded wryly, "How about to no guarantees?"  The soy shake woman continued to back up away from them and then started screaming at that remark.  Right then, the robber with the gun limped over to see what all the commotion was about.  He took one look at the groaning Satan T-shirt guy on the floor, dropped the gun, and ran out the door into the waiting arms of the police outside.  Warren raised an eyebrow, looked at Scott, and inquired, "Does your dark master know you use your evil powers for the forces of good?"

Scott smirked at Warren.  "Don't you just love it when all the pieces of a plan fall together?  Now, if you'll excuse me, Bobby take care of Blinky.  I really need to make a call."

Jean was glaring at Hank.  "You are going to get Joe unstuck," she said, but Hank smiled innocently and shook his head NO.  That's when they both heard the phone ring.  "I'll get it," Jean announced, glaring at Hank again as she went to answer the phone.

"Hello, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Jean speaking.  May I help you?"

"Jean," It was Scott's voice on the other end of the phone.  "Would you mind telling the Professor that we are going to be late tonight?  We got held up in the pet store.  As soon as the health department cleans everything up we'll be on our way home."

"Sure," Jean responded, while still glaring at Hank.  "It's not like I'm going anywhere, anyway."

"If it's a problem you can just leave a note," Scott offered.

"It's not you.  McCoy and I are having a disagreement."

That's when Jean swore she heard Bobby shout in the background, "Purge you stupid snake!  You aren't eating Blinky!  Give him back!"

Scott paused for a moment.  "Is he giving Joe a hard time?  Did Hank manage somehow to chase him off?"

"Oh no," Jean announced snidely.  "Hank didn't manage to chase him off.  In fact Joe's still here.  You could say Joe's quite stuck on hanging around."

Jean heard Bobby shout in the background again, "Come on Warren, you're part Hawk.  You can take him."

"Have you tried to appeal to his sense of ethics and fair play?" Scott asked.

"He has some?" Jean responded.  "Scott is that Bobby in the background?"

It was Scott's turn to sigh and Jean could just picture him rolling his eyes.  "Yes, lets just say, Bird vs. Snake, the eternal struggle continues.  The snake seems quite determined to eat that caffeine- and Twinkie-filled capsule of death."  Suddenly Scott asked, "Have to tried to challenge him that he's not bright enough to do what you need him to do?"


"Did he pull out his Mad Bio-chemist Bylaws?"

"Yes," Jean responded once again.

Scott sighed on his end of the phone.  "You have no choice then, Marvel Girl, you must pull out all the stops."

"What can I do?" Jean asked, exasperated.  "I've tried everything I could think of to get him to cooperate."

She heard Scott sigh again.  "I really shouldn't clue you in on this.  It's something you will be able to use against my sex for the rest of your life."

Jean perked up when she heard that.  "What's that?"

"It's a weapon that women have been using against men since the beginning of time.  Get all teary eyed on him and in about two minutes Hank McCoy will be eating out of your hand.  He'll do anything you ask him to do.  It works on just about every man on the planet, Red."

Jean smirked evilly in Hank McCoy's direction.  "I never thought of that.  I'll see you when you get home Slim.  I'll be sure to tell the Professor that you're going to be late."

"Thanks."  Scott responded.  "Listen, I have to rescue Warren.  Let's just say that blue is not a becoming complexion on him.  I'll see you when we get home."

"What do you mean we should say some words," Warren growled at Bobby, as he motioned his younger cohort to drop Blinky in the hole they had dug.

"I mean we just can't roll Blinky in a hole and pile dirt on him without some final words," Bobby retorted.

"Sure we can," Warren fired back.  "All you have to do is drop him and I'll kick the dirt over him.  We managed to get Blinky back from the snake.  We got a rodent that looks like Blinky to replace him, so Hank will never know.  What more do you want?"

Bobby stuck his chin out stubbornly at Warren.  "He was a living creature and Hank's pet.  We should acknowledge that."

Scott was rubbing his head.  He was working on a headache.  "All right Bobby, if you want to say a few words, just do it."

Bobby bit his lip.  "I don't really think I should be the one to do it.  Me being the one that killed him and all."  He looked at Scott.  "Will you do it please?"

Scott sighed, then growled, "All right, I'll give the eulogy.  We are going to do it Summers style, no complaints.  Is everyone ready?"  Warren and Bobby both nodded.  Scott began, "Today we are gathered to chant and plant Blinky the wonder rat.  The reason we're here and Hank isn't, is because the three of us are lying mutant weasels who have no intention to coming clean on what really happen to send Blinky to that great rat trap in the sky, or our parts in covering it up."

"That would pretty much cover it," Warren blurted.  Bobby kicked Warren in the shin.

"Blinky was brought into our lives after an unfortunate accident in which someone dropped six roach foggers into the tank where Hank kept his giant South American Cockroaches.  Hank not believing it was accident due to the trash bag and the duct tape that sealed the tank."

"Did I ever tell you you're my hero," Warren said dryly to Scott.  "You're everything I want to be."

Scott ignored him and continued, "Hank sought another pet to annoy us."

"Amen, brother," Warren broke in.

"Hank brought home Blinky from a animal research lab.  Hank rescued Blinky after Hank found out that the lab planned to splice his genes with a jellyfish.  They planned to make Blinky glow in the dark.  We will never know exactly what killed Blinky, whether the caffeine made his heart explode, or if he choked to death on the Twinkie sponge cake-like substance."

"In his passing, he raised the bar for both Hank and Bobby on their chosen form of death," Warren added in.

Scott rolled his eyes at Warren and went on.  "Blinky made quite an impression in the short time he was with us.  I will always hold the memory of him chewing his way through all the cereal boxes in the cabinet the one time he got loose.  I'm sure Warren will equally hold dear the gifts of rat droppings that Blinky left in his bunk on several occasions.  Bobby, I'm sure, will always cherish the tetanus shot that he had to get after climbing through the air duct to look for the bug-eyed little rodent.  Now, we are burying Blinky; hopefully in a spot that won't contaminate the drinking water.  It is with our dearest regards that we now drop Blinky the lab rat into his final resting-place.  Now, let's dump him in the hole before old mad Mrs. Cooper calls the Professor again and accuses us of being body-part stealing pod people who are after her brain.  Amen."

"Amen," Bobby and Warren both repeated.

"How much is it for every crack we put in this plate again?" Scott Summers asked Hank McCoy as he swung a sledgehammer back and brought it down on the blue plastic plate with all his might.  The four of them were on top of the hill overlooking the school.

"I read the guarantee more carefully.  The company is willing to pay two dollars for every crack you make in one of their plates."

"So, care to explain what Joe did that you hate him so much for?  Really, don't you think almost spilling acid on him is overreacting just a bit?" Warren asked, as he took the sledgehammer from Scott.  Warren lifted the hammer over his head and slammed it down on the plate.

"He insulted both biochemistry and Twinkies.  He had to be punished," Hank responded indignantly.

"Both Twinkies and biochemistry?  The godless heretic should be chased from the earth," Scott responded in mock horror.

"See," Hank sneered at Warren.  "Scott agrees with me.  I did not overreact."  Hank took the sledgehammer from Warren.  "Oh, did I mention Blinky had babies this morning?"

Scott raised an eyebrow.  "No you didn't.  Congrats."

Hank narrowed his eyes at the three of them as he brought the hammer down on the plate.  "Did I mention that Blinky was a boy?"

Bobby offered Hank a completely innocent expression.  "You mean they can do that with drugs and gene splicing these days?"  Hank handed the hammer back to Scott.  "Hey!" Bobby broke in.  "It's my turn."

"If you hated him so much, why did you make the solvent that let him go?" Scott asked, ignoring Bobby's objections.

"She begged me," Hank said smugly.

Scott raised an eyebrow.  "She begged you?  She did the teary-eyed thing didn't she?"

"Yes, damn you," Hank sneered at Scott.  "She even managed to get me to put the garbage out and it was her turn.  I will punish whichever one of you clued her in to that trick.  She now has a very powerful weapon in her arsenal.  Beware."

"Does Professor Xavier know you got invited to join a cult, Scott?" Warren asked with a smirk.

Scott shrugged at Warren's question.  "He's always after me to make new friends."

"It's my turn!" Bobby announced, as he snatched the sledgehammer from Scott, but he could hardly lift the thing.  Swinging the sledgehammer back with all his might, he brought it down on the plate.  He must have hit it at a wrong angle though, because the plate went flying into the woods.

Warren slid his sunglasses down his nose to track where the plate was going, then muttered, "Oh dear."

"Did we hit someone?" Scott asked.

"Nope," Warren responded.  "Close though.  Joe is running down the driveway screaming."

"Gentlemen," Scott announced calmly, "We need to stop doing that.  We promised the Professor."

"Jean is now marching straight up here towards us.  She has a look on her face that's about as good for you as a Twinkie."

"Oh, my Stars and Garters," Hank exclaimed.  "She's going to kill us."

"She just might do the teary-eyed thing," Bobby injected.

"Either of the two possibilities is a horrifying thought," Warren added.

"I think plan A is our only option in this situation," Scott announced to his teammates.  "Ready?  Three, Two, RUN!"

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