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Fic: The Great Marriage Boondoggle 1/3 [S/J movieverse, PG]

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  • Avi and Mara
    TITLE: The Great Marriage Boondoggle AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass AUTHOR S E-MAIL: fishfolk@ix.netcom.com. Feedback is better than chocolate. PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2002
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      TITLE: The Great Marriage Boondoggle
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
      AUTHOR'S E-MAIL: fishfolk@.... Feedback is better than chocolate.
      PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Yes, just let me know.
      CATEGORY: S/J, Humor, romance, action, drama, more or less in that order
      RATINGS/WARNINGS: PG for a little mild innuendo
      SUMMARY: Spring fever hits the school and Jean has just the solution.
      DISCLAIMER: The X-Men and the X-Men movieverse belong to Marvel and
      Twentieth-Century Fox and other entities with expensive lawyers.
      NOTES: I suppose this is sort of a prequel to my Baby series, in a
      "Mara's view of the movieverse" kind of way. (Oh, and I'm randomly
      throwing in comic characters wherever I want them. Hey, I needed more
      students and teachers.) My early reviewers know who they are, and thanks
      for suggestions. Special gigantic thanks go to Min for pushing me to
      write the *whole* story, even when I wanted to be lazy and skip the most
      important parts because they were *hard*. Big hugs for nipping my
      laziness in the bud, and sure enough, this story is vastly better for it.
      DEDICATION: To Avi, who solved a plot dilemma early on a Sunday morning,
      before I even had a chance to finish explaining it. Thanks, love, that's
      what marriage is all about.

      //thoughts//
      **telepathy**

      * * * * *

      Scott and Jean's bedroom was a fascinating mix of their personalities.

      It ranged from painfully neat to dreadfully messy depending on the day
      of the month, time of the year, and whether one of them had gotten
      frustrated looking for something. The dresser was generally covered in
      hairbrushes, hand lotion, and earrings, and the chair often held
      unshelved books and unironed pants. The decorations were minimal, as
      neither Scott nor Jean was inclined to waste a great deal of time on
      knick-knacks or color schemes.

      But amidst the clutter of two busy lives, you could find a few clues
      about the couple; for instance, a framed photo of a redwood forest, a
      human skull (actually realistic-looking plastic, but Jean never told
      students that), a blue flowered throw rug, and a few charming crayon
      portraits done by the younger students.

      The two teachers didn't spend a great deal of time in their room, but
      the time they spent was precious, because this was the only room in
      which they were guaranteed privacy. Not that students didn't knock on
      their door at all times of day or night, but no student without a death
      wish would open this door without permission.

      So, the bedroom was where conversations they didn't wish to have
      overheard took place, where they were able to vent their frustrations
      and speak freely to their spouse.

      On this particular evening, Scott flopped bonelessly onto the bed and
      looked up at Jean. She crossed her arms and leaned against the dresser.
      "Rough day?"

      "Spring," he said, flinging an arm across his eyes dramatically, "when a
      young man's thoughts turn to-"

      "Love?"

      He moved his arm and stared up at her in mock dismay. "And you're the
      telepath? Good grief, we're doomed." She reached over and whapped him
      with a pillow. "No," he said, grinning around the edge of the pillow, "a
      young man's thoughts turn to sex, of course. And this is nowhere more
      evident than among our upper-level students."

      Jean laughed and sat on the bed next to him, stroking his forehead
      lightly. "Ah, yes, what was I thinking?"

      Scott tossed the pillow away and put his hands behind his head. "The
      kids are absolutely impossible this time of year. Flowers blooming,
      hormones springing up all over..."

      "It's not just the boys."

      "You're right. This afternoon, even Kitty divided her time between
      staring longingly at various boys and staring longingly out the window."

      Jean started to say something, but closed her mouth as a wondering
      expression spread across her face.

      Scott reached out through their psilink, but all he got was a vast sense
      of amusement. "Jean?"

      She blinked, then focused on him. "Hmm?"

      "What's up?"

      "Oh, I've just had a wonderful idea." She gave him a wicked grin, and he
      felt a little nervous. "Why don't we take advantage of this natural
      propensity?"

      "Excuse me?"

      "I've always meant to introduce one of those exercises where the
      students have to take care of an egg or a sack of flour to learn about
      being a parent."

      "Please," Scott said with a sniff, "eggs don't *begin* to represent the
      difficulties of parenting."

      "I know. But what if we make the kids pretend to be married? Pair them
      up, make them create a household budget, essentially live together?"

      "Are you *trying* to encourage sex?"

      Jean waved off his objection. "We'll put the fear of the Professor in
      them. Trust me, if they're going to have sex, they'll do it anyway.
      You're a man, you should know that."

      Scott contemplated the ceiling for a long moment as he ran the plan
      through his mind and it came up cherries. He started to grin. "Oh, this
      could be *very* interesting."

      "Mm-hmm."

      "And educational," he said quickly.

      "Mm-hmm." Jean lay down on the bed beside him and they started to plan.

      * * * * *

      The Professor was a little less sanguine about the whole thing, but he
      finally agreed when his two oldest students practically begged. The
      other teachers also signed on, although Warren raised an imperious
      eyebrow and predicted the whole thing would be a hell of a lot more
      trouble than it was worth.

      * * * * *

      At a hastily-organized assembly of the upperclassmen three days later,
      Jean and Scott presented the new project. Gathered in one of the larger
      classrooms, the students waited, shuffling their feet, cracking gum,
      tapping pens, and applying make-up. It could almost have been any
      American classroom, except for Kitty putting her hand through a desk to
      check for paper, and the way Remy kept kinetically charging up small
      objects to watch them pop.

      But Jean and Scott were so accustomed to these little details that Jean
      closed Jubilee's compact with the same off-hand air that Scott had when
      he swept Remy's debris into a handy trash can. The students eventually
      settled down and Jean and Scott stood in front of them with an air of
      excitement.

      "For one week," Scott said, "you will all pretend to be married."

      Rustling and whispering, then snickering, followed this statement.

      Scott ignored them and continued. "We will assign your partners," he
      said to the accompaniment of groans, "and in the coming week, you will
      have a series of assignments to complete together."

      "The ground rules are," Jean said, "you must spend all waking hours that
      are not spent in class together. However, there will be no sleeping
      together." Groans mixed with nervous laughter. "You must do your daily
      activities together. And by together we mean the same activity, not just
      in the same room. If one of you wants to watch television, both of you
      watch television. If one of you wants to play ping-pong, both of you play."

      "You're going to learn about partnership and compromise," Scott said.
      "Or else you're going to drive each other nuts." That got genuine laughter.

      "Can I ask which you and Dr. Grey have done?" St. John piped up from the
      back of the room.

      "No," Jean and Scott said at the same time. They grinned at each other,
      and Jean continued, "Here are the pairs: Rogue and Bobby, Jubilee and
      Remy, Kitty and St. John, Betsy and Jono, Rahne and Kurt, Dani and Sam,
      Paige and Angelo."

      Immediately, various students poked each other in the ribs, snickered,
      and pointed. The established couples blushed furiously, and the others
      tried to look aloof. Sam mock-glared at Angelo on the other side of the
      room. "You better take good care o' my little sister."

      "You betcha, bro," Angelo said, sketching a salute as Paige rolled her eyes.

      They divided students into their pairs for the first activity: planning
      their wedding.

      Scott tried not to laugh as Jubilee and Remy fought over where to hold
      the event (words like "swamp" and "soulless desert" could be heard from
      their corner of the room), and Kurt and Rahne settled in happily to pick
      favorite hymns and bible verses for the service.

      **Looks like we succeeded in engaging their interest,** he thought to
      Jean, receiving a strong sensation of smug in return.

      Listening to the students bicker reminded Scott of his own wedding, in
      the very recent past. //When I told the Professor I wanted a simple
      wedding, I'm surprised he didn't laugh at me. When I told Jean I'd
      created battle plans, so how hard could a wedding be...she did laugh. So
      hard that Logan came into the living room to see what was going on.//

      Scott looked at Jean, sitting beside Dani, head tilted as she listened
      to the teen, and he thanked whatever fates controlled his life that she
      was his wife.

      //After all the drama of planning, the wedding didn't go too badly. As
      we figured, my parents refused to show and hers, well, they didn't spit
      at me, so that can be considered a bonus.//

      Although he wasn't sending his thoughts, Jean obviously felt them, and
      she looked up. A tiny smile chased across her face, a smile meant just
      for him.

      **Thinking about our wedding?** she asked.

      **Maybe you *are* a telepath,** he responded.

      **Ha ha, very funny.**

      They paused briefly while Jean moved over one seat to mediate between
      Jubilee and Remy.

      **At least we didn't disagree on where the ceremony would take place,**
      Jean said when she was done.

      **People pay a great deal of money to rent mansions not nearly as nice
      as this one.**

      **I was surprised my parents didn't object more strongly to the
      non-sectarian ceremony.**

      **I'm sure the Professor had a hand in that. He might not meddle with
      their minds, but I doubt he'd object to awing them into submission.**

      Jean chuckled. **I think you're right. They've always been slightly awed
      by him. New Money faced with Old Money.**

      **Do you actually remember the wedding?** Scott asked.

      **Not really. I remember how beautiful 'Ro looked in the bridesmaid's
      dress. And how handsome you looked in the tuxedo. Oh, and our first dance.**

      **I don't remember how 'Ro looked. I only had eyes for you.**

      **Liar,** Jean thought, but Scott could feel her pleasure.

      Betsy's voice pulled him from the conversation.

      "You *must* be joking." In those four words, the young British telepath
      managed to convey her disdain for her partner Jono, her embarrassment at
      being involved in this project, and her conviction that everyone else
      would agree with her.

      //Is that part of her mutation or could she *always* do that?// Scott
      wondered with some amusement, as heads turned to look at her.

      Jono looked stubborn, quite the accomplishment with only the upper half
      of his face and body language with which to convey emotion. However, his
      annoyance could be seen in the minor leakage of plasma from his chest.

      Jean nodded to Scott to show she'd handle the situation, and he went
      back to contemplating the other couples.

      //Bobby and Rogue will do just fine on this part. The fun will come
      later.// He could see their heads bent together over a piece of paper,
      making up an invitation list. Scott smiled to himself as Bobby carefully
      diverted his "wife" away from thinking about her estrangement from her
      parents. //There's hope for him yet.//

      "What do you mean, not get married in a church?" John asked
      incredulously. He'd been sulking in a corner and letting Kitty make most
      of the plans, nodding now and then to show he was listening.

      Scott headed over to their seats, knowing what was coming. //Intervene
      now or let it heat up?// He looked at Kitty's face. //Intervene, I think.//

      Sliding smoothly into a seat facing both of them, Scott asked, "So,
      how's the wedding going?"

      Kitty crossed her arms and glared at her partner. "This...this...goniff
      wants me to get married in some skanky church."

      Scott smothered his grin. "I know what the word goniff means, you know."
      John looked like he wanted to ask, but hated to admit ignorance.

      Her fair skin turned blotchy as she blushed. "I just couldn't get
      married in a church, Mr. Summers. Even if I was marrying him. I mean,
      I'm still Jewish."

      John looked confused. "But you don't do any Jewish stuff, so why do you
      care?"

      "Well, I don't see you doing any Christian stuff," she snapped, "unless
      eating Christmas cookies counts."

      John couldn't quite figure out how to counter that. "But...that's what
      people do, they get married in a church."

      "Not my people." Kitty's expression was implacable.

      //Okay, time to jump in again,// Scott thought. //It only goes downhill
      from here.// "There are plenty of nonreligious options," he said.
      "Judge, ship captain, justice of the peace. Perhaps one of those might
      be more appropriate."

      Kitty nodded vigorously. "That'd be fine. Just as long as there's no
      Jesus stuff involved."

      "Is that okay, John?" Scott asked, and the teen nodded, a little
      reluctantly perhaps, but as long as he agreed, it was enough. "Well,
      then I'll leave you two to keep planning."

      When all the wedding plans were finally turned in (from Dani and Sam's
      small and inoffensive ceremony to Rogue and Bobby's extravaganza), they
      dismissed the kids for the rest of the day.

      "Remember," Jean said, "you're stuck with each other for the rest of the
      week, so behave."

      "If you have any problems, you know where to find us, or ask one of the
      other teachers," Scott said. "Oh, and you can start thinking about
      tomorrow's assignment, creating a family budget."

      The teenagers jostled their way out, already arguing about how they were
      going to spend the rest of the afternoon.

      **I think the concept is beginning to sink in,** Jean thought to him as
      she chivvied the last students out the door. **They're enjoying this.**

      **Good,** he replied. **Softens them up for the difficult bits still to
      come.**

      **You're evil, Scott. I like that in a man.**

      * * * * *

      In between grading algebra exams that afternoon, Scott amused himself by
      wandering around the mansion to check on the students' progress. Kurt
      and Rahne were curled up under an oak tree reading, and they looked (in
      his opinion) absolutely adorable. Rahne had taken to wearing her
      half-wolf form more often, since Ororo had overheard Kurt saying he
      thought it was beautiful. Scott had to resist the urge to pat them both
      on the head, because they would undoubtedly resent it.

      After playing basketball for a few minutes with some of the younger
      kids, he found Jubilee and Remy working off their aggressions in the gym
      conducting a "can you top this" display of gymnastics. Remy executed a
      vault so intricate that Scott couldn't quite work out what was involved,
      and his eyes widened. //Wow, if we've inspired these two this much, I
      can count the whole exercise a success right now. Always assuming they
      don't kill each other, of course.//

      Not wanting to interrupt, he left the two of them to their competition
      and continued his ramble. Noise drew him toward the front of the
      mansion, and to the door of the rec room.

      Logan was stationed just inside the door, probably to enjoy the
      festivities, and he flashed a sardonic smile at Scott when the latter
      leaned in to see what all the commotion was about.

      Scott blinked in mild astonishment at the sight of Paige and Angelo
      having a screaming fight in the middle of the room, with many of the
      rest of the kids cheering for one side or the other.

      "I can't believe I'm stuck with *you* for the next week," Paige yelled,
      foot stamping on the floor and hair flailing like Medusa's snakes.
      "You're such a *jerk*!"

      Scott's eyebrows rose, just as the Professor contacted him. **Scott? Is
      everything all right down there? There's a great deal of agitation, and
      I am in the middle of a rather serious phone call.**

      **That developer again? Don't interrupt the call, everything's under
      control. Just a bit of an altercation. I'll handle it.**

      **Fine.**

      Since it didn't look like it was going to erupt into immediate physical
      violence, Scott sidled closer to Logan. The room was loud enough that
      nobody even noticed his entrance. "What happened?" he asked.

      With the air of a man who firmly believes he isn't a gossip, Logan
      leaned over and said, "Well, Angelo wanted to watch WWF, and Paige
      informed him that professional wrestling was 'uncouth' and 'puerile,'
      not to mention fake."

      Scott stared at him. "They're arguing over wrestling?"

      "No," Logan said, shaking his head, "they're arguing because Angelo
      called her a 'ho with no taste.'"

      Scott closed his eyes and groaned. "Well, not exactly the best start to
      a marriage. At least they didn't hit each other."

      "Yet."

      Scott glared through his glasses at the other man. "Thanks for the
      optimism. I guess I'd better break this up." And he waded into the mass
      of teens, dragging out a chastened Paige and Angelo. Logan just laughed
      at him as he left the room.

      * * * * *

      "So, what did you do with the happy couple?" Jean asked, leaning against
      his office doorframe an hour later. She'd obviously just come out of the
      lab, as bits of her hair were wisping out of their bun.

      Scott looked up from the geometry textbook he was considering adopting
      for next year. "Hmm?"

      His wife looked amused, her lips quirked into a small smile. "Paige and
      Angelo?"

      "Oh, you've heard."

      "It's the talk of the school," she said.

      Scott leaned back in his chair, grinning. "I just gave them a little
      marital counseling."

      "Such as?"

      He put on a serious expression, and folded his hands in front of him. "I
      believe I suggested that name-calling was rarely constructive. I made
      some suggestions on the art of compromise. Oh yes, and I sent them both
      off to watch your tape of the Branagh and Thompson version of 'Much Ado
      About Nothing.'"

      She smiled. "Cruel man."

      "I try."

      "Do you think they'll understand the message?"

      He shrugged. "You never know. Stranger things have happened. Did you
      just come by to ask about Paige and Angelo?"

      "That, and to see if you were planning to eat dinner."

      Scott looked at the clock on his desk. "Oh, I didn't realize how late it
      was. Yes, I'm on my way."

      * * * * *

      The events of that night's dinner were not exactly what Scott had in
      mind when they planned the marriage project. In years to come, he would
      wince when reminded of the effects of plasma fireworks on macaroni and
      cheese. Not to mention how long it took to get stewed tomatoes off the
      ceiling.

      He could never remember exactly how it all started--which Jean insisted
      was a psychological defense mechanism--but his memory began right about
      the time the plate of peas landed in his lap. He might have been willing
      to ignore a flung pea or two, in the interest of high spirits,
      restricting his response to a generic glare around the room to maintain
      his hard-ass reputation. But an entire plate (plate and all) flying
      across the room, over Jean's head, to land in his lap...that was a bit much.

      In the moments after it landed, dead silence dropped across the room, a
      heavy blanket composed of student fear and teacher astonishment. It
      lasted for about ten seconds, during which time Scott simply stared
      across the room at the obvious culprits (the ones with the guilty
      expressions on their faces and peas stuck in their hair and fur).

      Then, in that critical moment when Scott was preparing to stop the
      entire thing, several of the kids apparently decided if they were in
      trouble, they might as well have a little more fun. Almost
      simultaneously, Remy charged up a bunch of grapes, Jubilee hefted her
      macaroni and cheese, Jono readied his tomatoes, and Angelo started in on
      someone else's peas.

      Scott's eyes widened and he started to yell, but it was too late. Jean
      did her best to telekinetically shield the teacher's table as grapes
      began popping right over their heads, showering them with pulp. That was
      followed by the macaroni and stewed tomatoes, and peas that whipped
      around the room like tiny guided missiles.

      Scott's face was bright red, the Professor looked more or less
      apoplectic, and then...

      Ororo started to laugh.

      The joyous sound bounced off the ceiling (right near the tomatoes) and
      set almost everyone off. Within minutes, the entire room was laughing,
      even Scott.

      However, by the time the situation had been sorted out and everyone
      safely sent off to bed, Scott was having second thoughts. He expressed
      them to Jean that evening as they got ready to go to sleep.

      "Maybe Warren was right," he said to her as she washed her face.
      Watching Jean was one of his favorite activities, so he stood within
      arm's reach, leaning against the marble sink.

      She scrubbed a citrusy-smelling liquid across her nose and considered
      his statement. "No, I don't think so. Certainly, Warren predicted
      trouble, but I think the kids will learn enough to make it worthwhile."

      She leaned over to rinse off the liquid and Scott couldn't resist any
      longer. Swinging around, he stood directly behind her and leaned his
      body against hers so he could put his arms around her waist and squeeze.
      He bent over and nibbled on the back of her neck.

      Laughing, she sputtered through the water dripping down her face. "You
      do realize that doesn't make this process any easier?"

      "Of course. I'm not here to make things easier." But he let her finish
      her evening routine and they slid into bed, automatically spooning
      together. Eventually, when they started to fall asleep, he'd turn over,
      but they always started the night in this position.

      But Scott found himself thinking instead of falling asleep as he nuzzled
      up against Jean's neck. He felt her roll over and rest a hand on the
      side of his face. "What's wrong, Scott? I can feel you worrying and it
      makes my head itch."

      "I'm not worrying exactly," he said. "Thinking. About us. About
      partnership."

      Jean stroked his hair and he sighed with pleasure. "We're a pretty good
      team," she said.

      "We teach together. Run the school together. We're X-Men together. But
      we can't exactly model a normal life for the kids. We don't have to do
      most of the things we're having them do in this exercise."

      "Do you think they don't understand that?" She snuggled in closer,
      resting her forehead against his. "But this exercise isn't really about
      teaching them to budget or raise children. It's about conflict
      resolution and compromise. And that we *can* model for them."

      Kissing her on the lips, Scott thought about what she'd said. "I suppose
      I'm wishing for them the childhood I had until..." He trailed off and
      she pinched his side. "Hey, what was that for?"

      "No moping," she said. "We're providing the most normal childhood we can
      under the circumstances."

      TBC
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