Little Changes: Getting a Life II
by Grey Bard
Honestly, this is in no way what I expected. Bobby was getting a dog. Good for him. Bobby would have a dog. Lots of people have friends that have dogs. I had, however, neglected to consider the ramifications of the fact that unlike most people, I am living in the same house as my friend. Who has a dog.
I had not thought it would mean a puppy invading my favorite chair. I had never suspected the care with which junk food must henceforth be guarded, and had been especially ignorant of the fact that anything she did steal would be spewed in a badly digested heap upon the floor. I have even experienced the indignity of tripping over drooly chew toys on the shower floor. Nothing could possibly have prepared me for that, I am afraid.
It is disconcerting to see how radically one canine has improved the homelife of my closest friend. Are you aware that that troublesome little creature's doting master has taken to running a modified version of the Antarctica simulation with the addition of a puppy-sized pile of actual precipitation in the danger room just so that she can play in the snow? In August? I've never seen him clean a carpet more cheerfully. Realizing how much genuinely happier he is just at having a chance to play makes me wonder if I have possibly been neglecting Bobby. He never complained... I suppose I never noticed.
Bobby was only at the epicenter of the unexpected waves that his new arrival would make. I have always been in the habit of considering myself an observant man, but in all honesty I must admit that the first indication I had of the impact that our new addition would have on the "Family" as a whole was when the discussion on naming began.
I was late leaving my lab and the festivities, as they were, had begun by the time I managed to get up the stairs to keep my promise of welcoming Bobby and his new adoption home. I had thought we would be alone, but I must have underestimated the drawing power of an unfamiliar bark in an echoing mansion. A crowd had already formed. Warren wandered past me looking confused and mildly upset.
My puzzlement must have been obvious. Scott, who was prudently hanging back from the rest and looking a little confused himself, took it upon himself to explain Archangel's difficulty. "He made the mistake of asking Bobby why he hadn't just asked him for help finding a decent breeder. Then he offered to 'Take it back where it came from' for him."
I winced. Warren Worthington is almost always well meaning, but he does tend to be a little gauche around those that do not share his worldview. Not a charming thing for him to say, but far from entirely unexpected.
Scott went on. "Bobby asked him to come back when he had grown a soul."
I shook my head. That was to be expected as well. Bigotry of any variety tends to be a sore spot with my otherwise good-natured friend. Not that Warren would have noticed or understood, of course. No wonder he had worn the stunned expression of a man that has recently been savaged by a pet goldfish. I wasn't worried. Bobby would forgive him soon enough. He wouldn't forget, but he would forgive.
I peered around the backs of my friends in order to get a better look at the cause of the commotion. It was certainly... brown. Not to mention furry and rather worried looking. I wondered how much it would shed.
"Aren't you just the dearest? Yes you are, yes you are!" Jean was babbling happily, bending over and spastically patting the, as I mentioned, wary pup. "Hasn't that nasty cold man named you yet, hmmm?" she asked reproachfully, looking at an equally wary Bobby at the other end of the leash. "How would you like to be called Snooky, Snooky?" Jean was clearly expecting a lick on the hand. Instead, the little dog retreated and began to whine.
I heard a very faint grinding sound. Scott had clamped his jaw, a sure sign of emotional pain or embarrassment. Much as I love our former Marvel Girl, I'm heartily glad not to have a mind-link to her during her more emotional moments. Poor Scott.
Rogue joined the naming discussion. She dropped to her knees in front of the puppy and looked at it in the face, talking purposefully in a low voice that was reminiscent of molasses. "Awwww, sweety, do we share you? Is that it? You don't want to be called Snooky, do yah. Well everything is gonna be just fine. How 'bout Kiwi, hunh? You laihk that, raht? Kiwi, sweet and soft and all brown and fuzzy on the outside." She grabbed the puppy's ears and made kissy noises at it and backed away shaking.
"Snooky, Kiwi what kind of names are dat for a brave little dog like you? How about Toby or Simon, henh? Sound good?" Remy asked, hunkering down in front of the puppy and extending an arm to be sniffed. Ororo grabbed him by the shoulder.
"Remy?" she asked hesitantly.
"The dog is female." Storm pointed out.
"So?" he asked, wide eyed, attempting innocence with great artifice.
"Forget I mentioned it," she sighed. The puppy wandered toward her boots and sniffed them warily. "How do you feel about Mistral, Robert?"
My friend looked startled, then a sly smile broke through the nervous fidgets. "I'm not sure, but thanks, I was beginning to think I'd evaporated." There was a pause while everyone looked at him. The conversation began as before, totally ignoring him.
"Taffy, Aliere," suggested the Cajun to the dog. "Francise, Elvira?" The pup's tail bobbed as she wiggled backwards away from him. "Ah! Her tail wagged on Elvira. Why not? She would make a good Elvira."
"She's a dog, Gambit, not an exotic dancer." Jean reprimanded.
Sighs of shared disgust went up around the room.
"We could always call her Cooter..." Bobby said matter-of-factly. "It has to be better than Elvira."
If Elvira had elicited disgusted noises, Cooter created shocked silence. I received a wink and a quick slip of impish smile while our assorted colleagues were still consumed in the horror of Cooter. He had known I was there!
"It is your dog," said "but are you sure you want to have a dog need Cooter?"
"I don't know," said a voice from the end of the room. "I think it's better than Snooky." Most of us, myself included, turned to look. Jubilee slouched into the room. "Sorry I'm late here. I had trouble prying this guy out of the Danger Room."
Typical. No one even commented upon my appearance in the room or noticed it, save Scott and Bobby. Oh well, to be expected, I suppose.
Logan, still partially in Wolverine mode, to judge by his panting snarl as he stumbled into the room and half-heartedly caught an undisturbed Jubilee by the shirt collar. "If you pull that again, kid..."
"I'll have a good reason." finished his diminutive partner. "Besides, a guy that takes the safeties off all the time for practice should be able to handle the walls growing grabby arms. You wanted to see the dog, right?"
The only response she got was a muted snarl.
"He wanted," said Ororo motioning toward Bobby who had sat down with the puppy, "to name her Cooter."
"Dukes of Hazard. I recognize it." Logan nodded. "Good taste, Drake. Sure you wouldn't rather call Maverick?"
It was as if he hadn't spoken. "Ah think Kiwi is a good name. Don't you, Scott?" Rogue said, smiling shakily at Jean, whose eyes promised future retributive should her husband falter.
Trapped between supporting his wife in a moment of idiocy or seeming to go against a woman capable of lowering a wall with one punch, our normally fearless Cyclops was thus reduced to merely Scott Summers, cautious spouse. No amount of battle experience could help him with this. "I don't know, why not call her Spot?" A clever move by an expert tactician. When asked the unanswerable, resort to inanity.
"Whuff." I looked down, startled by the low happy noise and the quiet sounds of light struggle. Bobby was wrestling the puppy gently with one hand while she was trying gamely to gnaw on his thumb. The argument occurring over their heads took no notice.
"Why not call her Twinkie?" Jubilee was asking, enjoying the debate. "Going by who she'll be hanging with, she'll eat enough of 'em."
"Nahming dogs after snack foods, honey?" asked Rogue laughing. "I thought even you had better taste than that!"
Smirking right back, the younger X-woman held her ground. "And fruit is so much better, Kiwi-girl?" Another glaring contest began.
"I still like Spot." Scott put in weakly. The glares switched to him for a moment and then quickly back to each other."
"Are you still sure dat you don' like Elvira?" Remy's joking suggestion received precisely the attention it received. None.
I had not suspected this would be such a touchy issue. The dog in question appeared to be happily oblivious, instead chasing the tiny flakes of snow that her new master was idly using one finger to dot into the air around her.
"If we're going to be ridiculous, perhaps Arctic would be appropriate." I said, hazarding the danger of an opinion. "Or Popsicle. Indeed, why not Frosty?"
"Sounds good." said my oldest friend looking up happily. "See you guys later, little Frosty needs to go outside before she melts on the carpet." And then he got up and left, Frosty in tow.
"What kahnd of a nahme is Frosty?" wondered Rogue. "Even Snooky is better than that."
"There are worse names than Kiwi." Jean admitted gracefully. People started to drift away.
Our youngest elbowed me on her way out. "Good one, Hank. This is gonna be good. Didn't know you still had it in ya."
I looked at Jubilee over my glasses. It was my turn to be confused by the verbiage of others. "How so?" I inquired.
Sneaky satisfaction crept over her face. "Ya really don't know, hunh?" she asked, chuckling under her breath. "You will."
"Spot wasn't that bad of a name, was it?" Scott wondered sheepishly as he went to follow his wife.
I sensibly refrained from comment.
As the room stood empty again, I noticed that we had all been in a room for over fifteen minutes without villainous attacks or life-changing angst.
That is when I began to see that things were changing.