TITLE: Curiosity and the X-Cat
AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
AUTHOR'S EMAIL: fishfolk@...
. Feedback is better than chocolate.
PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Please ask.
CATEGORY: Humor, S/J (a little bit)
SUMMARY: "That. Damn. Cat," Scott said through gritted teeth. "Why did I
say they could get it?"
DISCLAIMER: The X-Men characters belong to Twentieth Century Fox,
Marvel, and many other people with expensive lawyers, not me. Hilda--who
snuck in here while I wasn't looking--belongs to me.
NOTES: If this looks like a sequel to my very first X-fic, "Trash,"
well, I suppose it is. Sort of. Kind of. This story was originally
inspired by Minisinoo's musings on the X2 trailer, before we realized
the cat belonged to Bobby's family, not the X-mansion. Now, it's a
pre-X2 AU where Logan's already back at the mansion. Or you could just
ignore the preceding babbling and read the story. Yiddish translations
can be found at the end, and thanks to Min and Naomi for helpful
comments on my first draft. Thanks also to my niece Rachel, who
suggested some antics for the cat.
* * * * *
Scott loved early evening, just after dinner. That was when he often
retreated to his office to enjoy the solitude and silence while the
students gathered in the rec room.
All the noises seemed distant, and for an hour or so, he could pretend
he had a normal job and a normal life. So when a muffled voice echoed
down the corridor one evening, he was startled.
"Sugar! Sugar! Sugar, where are you?"
Scott slowly looked up from the computer screen and his new algebra
curriculum and blinked, resisting the urge to shake his head. Surely he
had imagined that call? Perhaps it was caused by too many late nights
hunched over his computer?
As the speaker approached, Scott recognized the voice and stepped around
his desk to lean out into the darkened hallway. "Rogue?" he called.
She jogged up the stairs, tugging on the end of a lock of hair. "Um,
sorry to bother you, Mr. Summers, but I was looking for Sugar."
A light bulb finally came on. "Oh, the cat!"
"Mm-hmm, He was in the dorms earlier, but when we went to feed him
dinner, he was gone. Peter said he saw him come this way."
"Well, I haven't seen him. Sorry."
"If you do, please bring him back."
Scott smiled. "I will, but don't worry too much. He'll come back for
She nodded, obviously still nervous, and continued down the hall,
calling plaintively. Scott watched her go, wishing her good luck finding
a cat if it didn't want to be found.
Turning back to his office, Scott felt his foot collide with something
soft. As he tripped and fell into the doorway, he saw a pale streak
dashing down the hallway after Rogue.
* * * * *
Nursing a bruised shoulder, a slightly strained ankle, and an attitude
the size of Colorado, Scott limped into the bedroom he shared with Jean.
He'd ignored her mental call all the way through the mansion, not
wanting to vent directly into her mind.
She looked up from the latest New England Journal of Medicine and stared
in astonishment, most likely at the scowl he could feel on his face.
"There you are. What's wrong?"
"That. Damn. Cat," Scott said through gritted teeth. "Why did I say they
could get it?"
Jean unsuccessfully tried to hide her grin, making Scott scowl harder.
"I think it was a moment of late-night weakness brought on by not enough
"I thought Professor Xavier would say no." He stomped to the bed,
kicking off his shoes so he could lie on the bed next to her. "He never
told *me* he had a cat as a child. How was I supposed to know he'd drag
the kids out to the pound the very next day?"
Jean put her journal down on the nightstand and scooted over next to
him, leaning against his chest. "He thinks it will be good for them to
have something to take care of."
"Yes, but who's going to take care of me?" He finally relented, opening
their mental link to show her what had happened.
She laughed aloud, and Scott relaxed a bit at the feel of her warm
breath ghosting along his neck--a little ticklish and comfortingly
familiar. He never completely relaxed except for moments like this.
"You laugh," Scott said, "but what if I'd cracked my head?"
"Well, then I'd put it back together." She reached up to pat the part in
Jean chuckled, wrapping her arm around his chest and nuzzling against
him. "I think the cat's a good idea."
"They called it Sugar," he said. "What kind of name is that for a male cat?"
"Now, there you have me, that *is* a terrible name, but I'm afraid the
only cure for that is for the girls to grow up a bit. Besides, I'm sure
the cat doesn't mind."
"They're going to have to find a way to keep him out of the rest of the
mansion." Scott flexed his ankle a bit, testing the soreness. "I just
hope we don't come to regret the decision to get a cat."
* * * * *
It took less than 24 hours for Scott to wonder why he'd so tempted fate
with those words. He was striding down the hall toward his classroom the
next afternoon when he was startled by shouting.
"Genug! Zolst vaksn vi a tsibele mit dayn kop in drerd!"
The screaming came from the kitchen, and Scott took off at a dead run;
he'd never heard such sounds from the mouth of the mansion's cook, Hilda
Students stood in the hallway staring in disbelief in the direction of
the kitchen, but when Scott yelled "Coming through!" they parted like
the Red Sea.
As he skidded around the corner and through the open kitchen door, Scott
wasn't sure what he expected to see, but Hilda screaming at an
apparently empty disaster area was definitely not on the list. She was
covered in white powder, from her sensible brown shoes to the top of her
In fact, white powder covered every surface, making the room look as if
Bobby had frosted it--except for the line of dark patches that dotted
the floor and counters, almost as if...
Sugar perched atop the refrigerator, pale gray fur liberally streaked
with flour and covered in globs of what looked like chocolate frosting.
His hind leg was fully extended so he could lick it clean, and he was
ignoring the screaming woman with the utter disdain that only a cat can
"When you come down from there," Hilda shouted, her face red, "I'm gonna
make you into a stew. Tut mir vey kop!"
Scott stared at the cat, then down at the floor, then at the counter,
which contained a bowl of chocolate frosting. As it all became clear, he
took a deep breath and stepped forward. "Hilda? I think--"
Without even a pause, she whirled around, white powder creating a haze
around her. "You! You've done this to me! You let them bring that...that
demon into my kitchen!"
"Get it out! Out of my kitchen!" Hilda waved a hand around her. "Es
gornisht helfen! Hours it will take me to clean this up, all because of
one cat that can't keep its paws out of my cake flour."
Scott heard a noise behind him--most likely brave students daring to
peek in--and spoke up. "I'm sure there are several people who'd be happy
to help you clean up." He derived an evil pleasure from the sounds of
students retreating from their post at the door, before returning to the
situation at hand. "I'll find some students to help, or I will help you
Hilda crossed her arms, sniffing at the cloud of dust, but she seemed
somewhat mollified. "Fine. Fine. Now I am going to clean myself up." She
stalked past him, dignity firmly intact.
Scott pivoted slowly to look up at Sugar, who had stopped licking
himself and now studied the man below him. Shaking his head, Scott
sighed. "You're a troublemaker, cat. Sugar's much too nice a name for
you. I'm going to call you Puck, after another famous troublemaker."
Puck tilted his head, blinked once slowly, and shifted on his
"Oh no, no, don't even think--"
With an agile leap, Puck jumped into his arms and Scott automatically
caught him, coating his face with flour, and smearing frosting across
Puck stared at Scott with apparent adoration in his unblinking green
eyes. "You're starting to really annoy me," Scott said.
Puck stretched up and licked his face.
* * * * *
That evening, the bedroom door creaked a bit as Scott opened it, and he
made a mental note to bring some WD-40 up from the garage.
The hallway fixture sent a long rectangle of yellow light into the room,
and Scott groped for the light switch, jumping when two eyes turned to
face him in the dark.
"Puck," he said with verve, "you are becoming quite a nuisance. And I
hope the girls managed to finish your bath before you got in here." He
flicked on the light and the (clean) cat blinked lazy eyes at him. "How
on Earth did you get in, anyway?"
Laying his head on his white paws, Puck chose to ignore the question,
closing his eyes again. Scott leaned in the doorway and pondered the
cat. "However you got here, I'd say it's time for you to leave." Three
quick steps to the bed and he reached to pick up Puck, intending to dump
him with Rogue. But the cat had other ideas, managing a spectacular jump
from his prone position.
Staring in astonishment, Scott realized he still stood half bent over
the bed and straightened up. Puck prowled along the foot of the bed,
glaring at Scott in obvious disappointment. "What?" Scott asked. "You're
not my cat. You can't stay here. The girls will be looking for you."
"No appeals." Scott glared back at the cat. "And I refuse to chase you
around, it's undignified." He crossed his arms and scowled, but sighed
after a moment. "Mind you, arguing with a cat isn't much better."
Puck stopped prowling and sat down on his haunches. Shaking once all
over, he jumped off the bed and trotted down the hall toward the student
Baffled, Scott sat on the bed. "That was...odd."
There wasn't time for Scott to consider the oddities of Puck's behavior,
though. Jean arrived a few moments after Puck left and they managed to
drop into bed to get a few hours of sleep before rising for another day
of teaching, counseling, and general house mothering.
After a few classes, a meeting with Hank about the science curriculum,
and two hours grading exams, Scott realized that if he didn't hurry, he
was going to be late for Danger Room practice.
* * * * *
Scott and Bobby crept around the large block of steel obscuring their
vision, all senses attuned for possible attack. Although he wasn't
looking at the student, Scott could hear Bobby's breathing speed up
slightly, and he smiled.
Somewhere in this room, Jubilee and Jean lay in wait, ready to pounce,
and Scott gestured to Bobby. They prepared to come around the corner.
Even though it was only an exercise, Scott felt his own adrenaline
pumping and he restrained a fierce grin. It wouldn't do to ruin his rep
as calm, cool, and collected--no matter the circumstances.
A quick peek into the debris-scattered room showed the red flag perched
jauntily in the center, just waiting for certain mutant hands to grab it
and declare victory.
Scott paused for a second, mapping out Bobby's path to the flag in his
mind, then gave the young man the proper hand signals.
Bobby dashed forward, hands iced up, and Scott, hand to his visor
controls, turned to cover his partner from the inevitable attack.
Both women were in his view when Scott felt movement behind him. He
half-turned, but before he could defend himself, something clawed and
furry landed on his head.
Breath knocked out of him, he fell against the steel that had sheltered
him, his vision graying out as he struggled to stay conscious. His
attacker yowled and shifted.
And his visor was knocked slightly askew.
For just a split second, Scott saw Puck leaping aside and his mutation
barely missed the cat as the beams slammed into the ceiling, gouging
chunks out of the smooth surface.
He was too stunned to do anything but screw his eyes shut and hope Jean
was in time to shunt the falling metal and concrete aside.
Head still ringing like a cloister bell, Scott heard Jean's voice in his
mind calling his name before he heard her speak.
"I'm fine, I'm *fine*," he said as Jean helped him to his feet,
anxiously checking for broken bones. He pulled off the visor, feeling
for any cracks or dents with his sensitive fingertips.
"It's unbroken," Jean said.
"Are you sure? Maybe you should--"
He didn't argue when his fiancée sounded like that, so he slipped the
visor on and gingerly opened his eyes while looking away from everyone.
The familiar pressure of his beams pushed against the visor but found no
outlet and he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Now," he said, his tone colder than Bobby's ice, "who let the cat in?"
Jubilee and Bobby fidgeted as they looked from Scott to the crater in
the ceiling. "Um, not us," Jubilee finally said. "We came in together
and I didn't see Sugar then."
"Well, then how did he get in here?" Scott looked at Jean, who seemed to
be working to repress laughter. "This isn't funny, Jean. We could have
been hurt, and all because of that...cat." He turned his scowl on Puck,
who lay unconcernedly on the ground in front of him, stretched out and
waiting for someone to scratch his belly.
The door slid open behind him and Scott sighed. Only a teacher could
access the Danger Room doors while people were inside and he just *knew*
who it was going to be. No doubt about it--the universe hated him.
"Wow," Logan said, examining the ceiling with professional interest. "I
didn't know you took capture the flag this seriously."
Scott ground his teeth. Forget the dentist bills--better a few cracked
teeth than he lose his temper in front of the students. Jean smiled at
Logan and Scott ground his teeth again, ignoring the ominous screeching
sounds it made.
"Things just got a bit out of hand," Jean said.
Logan studied the concrete chunks on the floor. "Really? I'd love to see
what happens if you lose your temper."
"Just try me," Scott muttered to himself, momentarily forgetting Logan's
"What did you say, Scott?" Jean asked.
Logan just grinned at him and cracked his neck.
Sighing, Jean looked between the two of them. **That's enough, Scott.
Whatever macho game you two are playing, just quit.**
**Yes, Mom.** Scott said, continuing aloud. "Since you're here, Logan,
you can run the Danger Room cleanup program and start figuring out how
we're going to repair that ceiling."
Logan's grin dropped as if it had never existed and Scott put a tick in
the win column. Jean just shook her head and ushered a fascinated
Jubilee and Bobby off to get cleaned up.
Scott took a step forward and nearly tripped over the forgotten Puck,
who still lay sprawled in happiness at his feet. Regaining his balance,
he gritted his teeth again as Puck jumped up and started rubbing against
"Good to know *somebody* likes you," Logan said.
Scott didn't even have time to come up with a smart-ass response, as
Puck stopped his ecstatic rubbing and hissed. Both men looked down in
astonishment at the cat, fur rising as he stalked toward Logan, making
the strangest sound, a kind of snarling, growling...something.
"I can't believe it," Logan said, eyebrows going up, "He's *challenging*
me. The cat is threatening me."
"I guess he's got good taste."
"Oh, stow it, Cyclops." Logan glanced up at him, then back down at the
cat. "I'm not scared of you, but the girls will have me for lunch if
anything happens to the cat, so I'm outta here. I'll be in the control
room." With a last annoyed glance at Puck, Logan stalked away.
The Danger Room door shut behind Logan, and Scott looked down at Puck.
"Don't think me unappreciative, cat, but that wasn't enough to save your
position here. Let's go see the Professor."
* * * * *
Still in his workout uniform, Scott stood in front of Professor Xavier's
desk, resisting the juvenile urge to jump up and down and scatter dust
all over the Persian rug.
On his way in, he'd passed Rogue, Jubilee, and Kitty huddled together in
the hallway outside. Puck was nestled in Rogue's arms, looking
thoroughly pleased with himself. He'd hissed and spat when the girls
tried to take him away from Scott, but now seemed both resigned and amused.
Xavier was amused, which Scott felt didn't entirely do justice to the
situation. The students probably couldn't tell, but Scott was familiar
with the crinkles around his eyes that meant the man was trying not to
chuckle at some amusing antic.
Scott frowned and Xavier got himself under control. "Besides the
obvious," he said, "what seems to be the problem?"
His foot tapping, Scott said, "What's the problem? The problem is that
"And what has the cat done?" Xavier asked, the crinkle returning.
"Leaving aside the dead mice on my car hood, the shredded newspapers
outside my door, and the fact that the darn thing has apparently learned
how to untie shoelaces...there's the minor matter of this morning's
Danger Room practice."
"Indeed, that was an unfortunate incident." Xavier steepled his fingers,
and Scott could see the grin forming behind them. "However, nobody was
injured, and Logan assures me that the damage wasn't as serious as it
seemed. In fact, the Danger Room is already back in use, and we should
be able to fix the ceiling within the week."
"That's not the point, sir."
"What *is* the point, Scott?"
"The point is that the cat's a menace. He knocked off my goggles. You of
all people should realize how dangerous that is."
Xavier leaned back and studied him. "Life in this mansion is inherently
rather dangerous. Besides the obvious risk of gathering in one place, we
are also attempting to train children with very strong gifts."
Scott didn't even bother to respond, just crossed his arms and tapped
his toe twice.
"I appreciate your concerns, Scott, but I think the benefits of pet
ownership outweigh any risks."
"My mind is made up."
Scott took a deep breath and went to get clean.
* * * * *
--continued in part two--