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Fic: The Great Marriage Boondoggle 2/3 [S/J movieverse, PG]

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  • Avi and Mara
    TITLE: The Great Marriage Boondoggle 2/3 AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass AUTHOR S E-MAIL: fishfolk@ix.netcom.com. Feedback is better than chocolate. Disclaimer etc. in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2002
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      TITLE: The Great Marriage Boondoggle 2/3
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
      AUTHOR'S E-MAIL: fishfolk@.... Feedback is better than chocolate.
      Disclaimer etc. in chapter 1

      The Great Marriage Boondoggle (as Warren was calling the project) hadn't
      cancelled *all* the classes, so the kids had some short breaks from
      their spouses the next day. Scott noticed with some amusement that his
      students had stopped flirting in class, although there was still some
      staring out the window to contend with. Jean suggested they work with
      that and hold this day's session outside, so the students convened on
      the front lawn. The sun beamed happily down on the impossibly bright
      grass (kept that way through hard labor and copious application of the
      Professor's fortune).

      As he waited for the rest of the students to arrive, Scott sat on a
      bench enjoying the view of the school grounds, the oak trees,
      meticulously-laid flower beds, and the garden statuary. He idly wondered
      how long a developer would need to ruin it all by building condominiums.

      Sprawling on the ground like puppies exhausted from a romp, the students
      started their next assignment. (That is, after the obligatory complaints
      about insects, grass stains, lacking pen or paper, things forgotten

      "We've assigned each of you a salary," Jean began from her perch on a
      bench next to Scott.

      "When do I start getting it?" Bobby piped up with a grin. "And doesn't
      this mean I don't have to finish high school?"

      Jean laughed. "Sorry to disappoint you, but it's all pretend money. You
      each have a salary as well as a list of the expenses you need to account
      for. Now, to make this doable in a day, we haven't included *everything*
      you would deal with in real life. But there's enough to give you an idea."

      Scott picked up from there. "You have until tomorrow morning to finish
      this, but it's going to take longer than yesterday because you'll need
      to do some research on prices. We've given you approximated costs for
      expenses you'd have difficulty estimating on short notice: mortgage,
      health insurance, groceries. But we want you to be realistic about
      everything else. If you budget for a movie every weekend as part of your
      entertainment, use the actual cost of a movie here in town, plus popcorn
      and a soda. Use the web or advertising to determine the prices of
      anything you don't know."

      "This is just basic math," Kitty said with some disappointment, as John
      glared at her. "We just have to make the numbers add up."

      Jean smiled at Scott as she answered. "First, you need to *agree* on the
      math. Second, I think you'll be surprised, if you try to be realistic,
      how easy it is for your numbers to not add up."

      "Before you leave this afternoon," Scott said, "we want to see a list of
      the items you want to include in the budget. Don't worry for the moment
      about costs, just list everything you think the two of you need to live."

      The kids huddled over their papers to begin the budgeting process, and
      Jean and Scott settled back to enjoy the sun and wait for the inevitable.

      Scott had just finished preparing an assignment for his statistics
      class, when the first cries arose into the cloudless sky.

      "How can you *possibly* buy that much clothing?" Bobby asked, looking
      absolutely astonished.

      **That's what I wanna know,** Jono broadcast to everyone.

      Rogue and Betsy exchanged identical glances of exasperation over their
      recalcitrant spouses.

      Jean was broadcasting so much amusement through their link, it was all
      Scott could do to keep from laughing.

      "I mean, you can't need to buy new clothing every week. Can you?"
      Bobby's voice sounded a bit incensed now.

      Rogue sat up from where she'd been lying in the grass and put her hands
      on her hips. "Well, what would *you* know about it, Mister 'I'd Wear the
      Same Pants Every Day If I Could'?"

      "Really," Betsy chimed in. "I can't imagine why you're picking on my
      clothing habits, Jono. Surely you must have to replace your oh-so-goth
      wardrobe now and then. Not that we could tell."

      **Yeah, but not every day. And my clothing doesn't cost a tenth of what
      yours does.**

      "Well," Betsy retorted, "at least *I* don't feel the need to buy every
      CD put out by every band in America."

      **Okay,** Jean thought to Scott, **I think it's time for me to step in.**

      He nodded and continued to monitor the rest of the students. Things went
      fairly well for another half hour, until the rise of a debate on
      thriftiness and spending, with Kurt, Rahne, Dani, Sam, Paige, and Jono
      on one side, and the other kids opposing.

      "When our Mom used a paper towel to dry her hands, she didn't throw it
      out, she let it air dry, so she could use it again," Sam said,
      practically growling. Paige nodded vigorously beside him.

      "Why th' hell would she do that? Paper towels are meant to be thrown
      out, that's why we *have* them." John looked like he couldn't decide if
      he was amused or annoyed at the others' obtuseness.

      "Because we couldn't afford to buy lots of them," Paige said. "With all
      the kids, Mom had to make every penny count."

      "Well, we don't have that many kids," Jubilee said, "and between the two
      of us we make plenty of money, so I don't see why we've gotta be as
      careful as all that."

      Scott was about to interject, but he shut his mouth and sat back when
      Dani jumped in. "My parents always did that, too," she said. "Even
      during the times we *had* money, we did the same things, because you
      never know what's going to happen."

      **Yeah,** Jono said, **what if one of you loses a job? When m'dad lost
      his, we hadn't saved anything, and it was bloody rough for a while.**

      The debate raged for a good ten minutes before Jean and Scott called a
      halt to it, sending the teams back to their respective corners to resume
      their task.

      **I think I've learned something from the kids today,** Jean sent, her
      mental voice sounding thoughtful.

      Scott sent back his agreement. **Neither of us came from poor families.
      We weren't in Warren's league, but we were never hungry, never lacked
      for things. Then, the Professor took us in. We've probably taken
      possessions and money for granted as much as the other kids have.**

      **I've never taken you for granted.**

      **Love you, Red.**

      **Love you, too, Cyclops.**

      * * * * *

      Jean was tidying when Scott finally made it to the bedroom that evening.
      The dresser was almost entirely clear, and she'd even dusted. He found
      her cross-legged on the bed, peering with suspicion at a book, when he
      opened the door.

      "Where, oh where," she asked, eyebrows rising as she looked up at him,
      "did we acquire a copy of 'Passion and Promise'?" The paperback--which
      she held up gingerly between two fingers--featured a scantily-clad
      couple embracing on a generic beach. Scott peered a little closer,
      trying to decide exactly where the woman's hands were placed. "Scott?"

      "Hmm? Oh, where did we get it?" He tilted his head to one side. "It's
      not yours?"

      Her eyes narrowed. "You know I *hate* these things."

      "Maybe it's 'Ro's?" He tried his most innocent tones. "She's very fond
      of beaches and scanty clothing."


      He grinned at her, unrepentant. "Actually, I confiscated it when Jubilee
      was trying to read in class a few days ago. I suppose I forgot to return
      it." He plucked the book from her fingers and dropped it by the door.
      "Must remember to do so tomorrow. I'd rather she read that than nothing
      at all."

      Sweeping Jean off the bed and bending her over his arm (causing her to
      drop the other books she was holding), Scott intoned, "Jean, my darling,
      run away with me. Leave behind your sordid life, and let us spend the
      rest of our days together on a sunny beach, with no care greater than

      She chuckled, holding onto him to keep from falling over. "It would be
      nice, wouldn't it? I think that's why I hate those romance novels."

      "Nonsense, a little harmless escapism," Scott said, kissing her nose and
      putting her back on her feet.

      "It's not the beach that bothers me," she said, picking up the books
      she'd dropped on the floor. "It's the godawful unrealistic view of
      relationships the kids get. Not to mention the unrealistic view of sex."

      Scott compressed his lips, but couldn't help himself, "You mean my

      "Be quiet," she said, glaring at him and trying to look stern.

      His serious expression failed miserably, but he managed to convert his
      laugh into a cough. "Yes, you were saying?"

      She shook her head and sat back down on the bed. "It's just that a
      steady diet of these romance novels gives the kids the impression that
      romance is everything. Every woman should fall in love at first
      sight--the right man will show up, sweep you off your feet, and you'll
      live happily ever after."

      "You know, last night you were telling me I didn't give the kids enough
      credit to understand that we don't lead a normal life. Now, I think you
      don't give them enough credit to understand that these books are
      fantasy. That romance is a little more complicated than it's portrayed
      and sex isn't as neat and tidy."

      "I suppose you're right," Jean said with a sigh.

      "Were you traumatized by a romance novel at an early age?" he teased,
      sitting next to her on the bed and putting his arm around her shoulder.

      Leaning her head against his, she asked, "How do we show them that love
      has bad parts and good parts?"

      Scott smiled. "Oh, there are good parts?" He turned his head and kissed
      her gently.

      "Of course," she murmured against his lips.

      "Then don't second-guess yourself. The kids will get there when they're
      ready," Scott said as he drew his wife back onto the bed.

      * * * * *

      The subsequent days followed the same pattern: classes in the morning,
      meeting for a marriage-related activity in the afternoon, and bickering
      students in the evening.

      Certain moments stood out in Scott's memories of the week, however.

      * * * * *

      Day Three:

      It was back to the classroom as the students figured out how to divide
      up household chores. Astoundingly, trouble came in the form of Dani and
      Sam--the couple usually voted least likely to cause trouble for the
      teachers--and a culture clash.

      "What does this bit say?" Sam asked, squinting at Dani's suggested
      division of labor.

      She leaned over the desk and read upside-down. "Minding the children."

      "But for that many hours a week?" Sam looked honestly confused.

      So did Dani. "Yeah. So what?"

      "Isn't that your job?"

      "What do you mean, 'my job?' They're your kids, too." She eyed Sam like
      he was an alien. Their accord from the previous day, over the issues of
      thriftiness and poverty, was apparently over.

      * * * * *

      Day Four:

      The walls of the classroom echoed with raised voices, as the couples
      wrangled over career issues, such as what to do if both were offered
      good jobs in different locations. Scott made a mental note to check the
      vents to this room, as the air conditioning didn't seem to be working
      very well. Or possibly John was more annoyed than he looked. Scott
      wandered over to check on Kitty and John, but they seemed to be dealing
      fairly well with their challenge.

      Scanning the room to see where he might be needed, Scott's eyes landed
      on Angelo, who looked smug as he passed his paper over to Paige. Scott
      had long ago decided that a smug Angelo was an Angelo who was probably
      going to get slapped, so he drifted toward the pair.

      Paige's eyes widened and her eyebrows rose as she read what Angelo had
      written. "Are you really this dumb, or is it an act?" she asked.

      Scott stifled an inappropriate chuckle as the blonde girl asked a
      question that he'd been longing to ask for over a year.

      "What's that supposed to mean?" Angelo asked. Scott could see other
      conversations slow and stop as the kids tuned in for possible entertainment.

      "Did you even stop to think that I might *like* my job?" Paige's voice
      began to rise precipitously. "What makes you think I'm gonna follow you
      around the country like a calf that's lost its momma?"

      Angelo looked dumbfounded.

      "Why shouldn't *you* have to follow me?" Paige asked.

      "Well...you're...you're..." Angelo stopped. Scott leaned against a desk,
      pleased the boy at least had enough sense to not finish that sentence.

      "I'm *what*?" Paige asked ominously, hands clenched in front of her. "A
      woman? What does that have to do with anything?"

      //Oh well. At least Angelo didn't say it.//

      "Well," Angelo began, "I mean," his eyes brightened as he found an out,
      "I make more money than you do. So, shouldn't my job come first? Whadda
      ya think, Mr. Summers?"

      Scott was amused by the blatant plea for help. "I think that depends on
      whether money is your motivation in life."

      Most of the listening kids looked blank, and Scott shot a thought off to
      his wife. **Ah, a teachable moment, but why do I think I'm going to have
      a hard time convincing them money isn't everything?** He could hear her
      chuckle in his mind, and she settled in along with the kids to await his

      Scott took a deep breath. "Look, if the most important thing to you is
      wealth, then sure, you should go where the money is. But what if the
      highest-paying job you could find was in," he paused and looked around,
      "Alaska, Remy?"

      The Cajun paled and shook his head firmly. "Non," he said, "not enough
      money in de world to take me dere. Too cold and lonely."

      Scott turned to Rahne. "And what if the highest-paying job was working
      for Senator Kelly?"

      She frowned. "I could ne'er work for someone like him."

      "Neither could I," Scott said, smiling at her. "My point is, there are
      factors to consider other than money."

      Jean spoke up from the other side of the room, and heads turned. "Do you
      think that my first choice of occupations was teacher and part-time
      superhero, with an occasional break to splint broken arms?"

      There was some laughter from students, and a few thoughtful looks. Kurt
      asked, "What *did* you want to do?"

      Scott sent his love through their link as she spoke. "Medicine, medical
      research," she said quietly. "But I'm needed here."

      Jean was trying to catch the eyes of each student as she spoke. "That's
      the thing about being a grownup. Sometimes you have to do what's best
      for other people instead of yourself."

      "Sometimes," Scott said, "part of teamwork is doing things you didn't
      want to do, or not doing the things you really wanted. That's life. If
      you make the best of it, instead of complaining, you end up a lot happier."

      Scott saw a lot of thoughtful looks from the kids that afternoon.

      * * * * *

      Day Five:

      After the drama of the previous day, the assignment to plan a vacation
      was good for several chuckles. Jean and Scott decorated the classroom
      with festive travel brochures and helped the students compare the merits
      of beaches, mountains, and cities.

      Jubilee and Remy were in complete agreement for once, settling almost
      immediately on lazing around a beach in St. Thomas. "It's warm and
      sunny," Jubilee said with satisfaction, Remy nodding furiously beside her.

      Betsy, on the other hand, turned up her nose at every suggestion made by
      Jono. Jono was broadcasting clearly enough that Jean could pick him up,
      and she passed it on to Scott for the entertainment value.


      "Too crowded."


      "Too ordinary."


      "Too touristy."


      "Too poor."


      "Too Australian."

      **Where the bloody hell do you want to go?** Jono "shouted" so loudly
      that all conversations in the room stopped and everyone turned to look
      at him. Betsy pursed her lips and stared down her nose at him, and he
      slammed his fist into his forehead repeatedly. They eventually settled
      on a combined trip to San Francisco and Hawai'i, which Scott thought was
      a little odd, but he wasn't about to interfere in any agreement between
      the fractious pair.

      * * * * *

      Day Six:

      When the students tried to set out their rules for raising children,
      cultural clashes came to a head. The assignment was made more difficult
      when half the students tried to insist they were never even *having*
      children, so why did they need to do this activity at all?

      Moments after handing out the assignments, Scott turned to see Rogue
      almost in tears. **Jean? I think I need to talk to Rogue and Bobby
      privately. We'll be out in the hallway if you need us.**

      **Got it,** Jean said, without missing a syllable in her conversation
      with Rahne and Kurt, (who were insistent they shouldn't pass their
      mutations on to their children).

      Scott leaned in between Bobby and Rogue, the former looking grateful for
      the help, the latter annoyed by the intrusion. "Come on," he said,
      "let's go in hall and we can talk about this."

      Rogue didn't say anything, but she followed him through the door. The
      door thunked shut behind them, cutting the noise level down to almost
      nothing, and Scott leaned against the wall next to a gold-framed mirror.
      Rogue turned to look out a nearby window and crossed her arms, while
      Bobby hovered next to her.

      Scott glanced past Rogue, through the window, at the steady rain beating
      down on the lush school lawn, creating puddles on the basketball court
      and making the daffodils bend on their stems. Ororo had been in a pretty
      chipper mood when he last saw her, so presumably the rain was natural,
      but it certainly made everybody look and feel gloomy. He turned back to
      example number one: Rogue, whose usual agreeable posture had been
      replaced by a stubborn set to her jaw. //Poor kid,// he thought, //I
      sure hope Jean and Hank come up with something to help her.//

      Bobby looked anxiously between Rogue and Scott, and he kept trying to
      pat Rogue's shoulder comfortingly, but she shrugged him off each time.
      Scott could tell Bobby's level of concern by the frost slowly coating
      the window.

      Scott moved over to lean against the window next to Rogue and took her
      hand. "I know it's tough for you. Believe me, there's no one at this
      school who knows better how hard it is to have a mutation out of control."

      Her gloved hand lay unresistingly in his and he handed it over to Bobby,
      who gripped it like a lifeline, his blue eyes wide. Rogue didn't look at
      either of them, but she let Bobby hold her hand.

      "You've got to trust us," Scott continued. "And part of that is trusting
      that Jean and I wouldn't have you do this activity if we didn't think it
      was important. Giving birth isn't the only way to have children, you know."

      Rogue finally looked at him. "Huh?"

      "You could adopt. Every city has children who've been abandoned because
      of a visible mutation or handicap. They need someone to take care of them."

      "That's right," she said.

      "And for all we know, Jean and Hank might solve the puzzle of your
      mutation next week, and then wouldn't *you* feel silly."

      She smiled slightly and Bobby relaxed. The damp chill that had been
      building in the hallway retreated.

      "Why don't you and your husband here go back to the group," Scott said,
      "and make some plans. It doesn't matter where the kids came from, they'd
      still be yours."

      Rogue studied his face for a second and then suddenly she hugged him. It
      was a Rogue hug, head carefully held away from his, but it was
      definitely a hug. "Thanks, Dad," she whispered. Grabbing Bobby's hand
      and dragging him behind her, she disappeared back into the classroom.

      Scott stood in place for a long moment, a silly grin on his face, glad
      nobody was watching.

      **You okay there?** Jean called.

      **Mm-hmm. Just savoring a little breakthrough moment.**

      **That's nice. Don't savor too long. Betsy says no child of hers is
      going to public school. Paige and Angelo are at it again, something
      about whether or not children should be allowed to watch television. Oh,
      and Rahne and Kurt are arguing about spanking children and it's gotten
      heated enough that he's dropped into German and all I can understand of
      her is the occasional "och." I'm not certain how they're arguing if they
      can't understand each other, but they're managing it somehow.**

      Scott chuckled and took a last look out the window before opening the
      heavy wooden door to the classroom. The rain was letting up.

      * * * * *

      Day Seven:

      For the final activity, Scott and Jean roped in the other teachers to
      provide more one-on-one feedback as the dialogues progressed. The
      teachers were there to probe the students' responses to their crisis,
      ask questions, and point out things they'd missed.

      Jean and Scott spent several hours devising the crises, developing
      lesson plans for the other teachers and choosing which students they'd
      work with. The afternoon of the final day looked like a big party, with
      students and teachers mingling and almost everyone showing some interest
      in the project. Scott, knowing teenagers and adults as he did, had
      arranged for snacks, so cookies, doughnuts, and popcorn were carefully
      placed around the classroom, along with sodas for all.

      Rogue looked so pleased that Logan was there, that he seemed mollified
      about being dragged into the whole thing. Scott smirked internally as he
      watched the big bad Wolverine ordered around by Rogue. //Please. He's a
      bigger softie than I am.//

      Jubilee and Remy relaxed when Hank bounded into the room and straddled a
      chair. //Good choice. They both like Hank and he can steer them without
      their realizing how hard they're thinking.//

      Rolling up to Rahne and Kurt, the Professor smiled gently at two of his
      favorite students. //Not that he'd ever admit that,// Scott thought.

      Ororo hugged Paige and Angelo when she joined them, and Paige looked
      more relaxed. //If there's anyone who can get those two to think instead
      of fight, it's her.//

      Jean smiled as she sat down with Betsy and Jono, but hers was the iron
      fist in the velvet gaze. //Time to bring home a few truths to Ms.
      Braddock, and I don't envy Jean the task. Then again, I don't envy Betsy
      either, I certainly do *my* best to stay on my wife's good side.//

      Debate over whether or not it was a good idea to match Dani and Sam with
      Warren had lasted well into the night before the entire project began.
      In the end, Jean won with her contention that the conflict between his
      wealthy background and their impoverished backgrounds would prove
      instructive. Scott kept quiet on his suspicion that Jean intended it to
      be educational for both sides, and that she looked forward to Warren
      learning a little something from the kids as well.

      This left Scott with Kitty and John, to mediate the differences between
      the two, which were substantial.

      Scott distributed the sheets to the students, and the final day of the
      Great Marriage Boondoggle got under way. He was just opening his mouth
      to begin his explanation, when a wailing sound interrupted him, causing
      heads to shoot up in alarm all over the room.

      The adrenaline pumped through Scott, but outwardly he became even
      calmer. "The school is under attack," he said.

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