Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: teen!Angel/X-23, teen!Iceman, teen!Jean, teen!Cyclops, teen!Beast
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it."
Word Count: 846
Date Written: 16 June 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
"What's wrong with him?!" Bobby asks, exasperatedly, as he watches Warren somersault through the air again and then spin the girl in his arms.
"He's twitterpated," Jean teases, giggling. Her answering smile is something her friends see too rarely these days; it's something they all do too rarely themselves as well.
"I haven't heard that one in a while!" Bobby comments, chuckling.
Hank clears his throat, then quotes rather delicately, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it." He looks pointedly at Bobby as he adds teasingly, "You, of all people, should know that, Robert."
"Leave him alone!" Scott exclaims, catching his friends by surprise.
"I'm fine," Bobby says after a long minute has crawled by with himself, Jean, and Hank staring at Scott in surprise.
"Not you. Him," Scott explains more gently. Looking back at his other friends, he asks quietly, "Don't you get it?" A twinge of jealousy rings in his voice as he adds, "He's happy. They're actually happy for right now." Laura's laughter drifts back down to where they stand, looking up from the earth; Warren's follows it shortly thereafter. "They're actually happy!" Scott repeats.
Jean nods slowly, a light pink tingeing her cheeks. "He's right," she admits and, after a moment, nods back to the school. "Come on, guys. Let's give them some privacy."
Hank shakes his head. "All the King's horses and all the King's men," he mutters. His words fade away as he follows Jean.
"Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again," Bobby finishes for him, unaware that he's not alone.
Despite his demand that they leave Warren and Laura alone, Scott lingers next to his friend. "He'll find it," he says softly, surprising Bobby and making him jump slightly.
"Find what?" he asks, looking back over at him in surprise.
"Find the answer," Scott replies, rubbing his chin thoughtfully and suddenly looking so much like his older self, his older self who killed their beloved Professor and caused the first major rift in the X-Men, that Bobby has to look away. Scott clasps his shoulder, not realizing why Bobby's suddenly not looking at him. "They have it. We'll find a way to get it too. We are all going to be happy, Bobby . . . one of these days."
For a long time, the only sound on the grassy hilltop is the laughter drifting back down to the Earth. Finally, Bobby breaks the silence. "Ice cream!" he exclaims with a grin.
"What?" Scott asks.
"Ice cream!" Bobby replies again eagerly. "Ice cream always makes people happy. Come on, Slim. You could use to put on a few pounds, and I'm just the Snowman to give it to you!" He runs toward the school, not waiting to see if he's being followed.
Scott lingers just a moment more, looking back up at Warren and Laura who now seem to almost be dancing in the bright, blue sky so far above all their heads. He wonders if Laura's ever been as happy as she is now, after all she's suffered. He knows Warren has been, but it's been a long time -- too long, he knows, but he's finally there again. Scott can't help smiling for his friends.
"Last one to grab a bowl is a rotten egg!" Bobby calls back to him.
Scott laughs at the unexpected tease, then chases behind his friend. After all, it's been a long time since Bobby made ice cream for them all. He's not about to miss it either! The other joys of life will return in their due time, but this is one happiness he can afford and yet can scarcely afford to miss it. "I'm right behind you!" he calls and, true to his word, doesn't stop sprinting until he has a bowl ready to be filled and spoon just waiting to dig in.
"Who says money can't buy happiness?" Bobby asks as he fills each bowl in turn with his special cream.
It's a pleasure to bite the ice cream. It's delicious and swiftly spreads it cold, yummy texture all the way through Scott's toes. Still, his mind thinks back to Warren and Laura as he silently watches Jean's face light up, Bobby laugh, and Hank grovel for another bowl. Money can't buy that kind of happiness, Scott knows, but they'll find it. His friends deserve to have that kind of pure, undiluted joy in their lives too, and when the time is right, they will have it.
You're right, Jean says in his head, smiling across her bowl at him. We do all deserve it, and one day, we'll have it. One day, we'll be just as happy as they are. But in the mean time, stop overthinking and eat your cream before it melts.
He could be angry at her intrusion into his mind, but he knows he was probably thinking too hard and unknowingly broadcasting. Besides, it's Jean; he doesn't have secrets from his best friend. Yes, ma'am. He winks across the room at her and digs in.