Disclaimer: Peggy's mine, but anyone else you recognize probably belongs to Marvel and are being used entirely without permission (and entirely without profit). Please don't sue.
Author's Note: This is the fourth story in the Pegasus Flight series. The other stories are Pegasus Flight, Family, and Say Goodbye to Porkrinds. You might want to read those first. Feedback is welcomed and adored at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott stumbled sleepily down the stairs at one in the morning. He and Jean had been forced back into the mansion for a few days while the boathouse underwent treatment for a severe termite infestation. He'd been hit with a case of insomnia tonight, and since Jean swore by warm milk to help her sleep, he though he'd give it a try. As he passed through the den on his way to the kitchen, Scott heard indistinct voices murmuring. He groped for the light switch.
The two figures on the couch practically flew apart. "Uh, hi, Dad," Peggy said, her face reddening. She hopped up and pecked him on the cheek before dashing out and up the stairs. "Bye Dad."
Bobby stood up awkwardly and faced Scott. "Uh, hi, Slim." Scott stared at him with sleep-befuddled mind as Bobby straightened his half-unbuttoned shirt and smoothed down his mussed hair. Scott just stared at him, understanding slowly dawning on his face. Bobby tried to smile affably, but his hand crept up to his face and guiltily wiped off the lipstick that was smeared across it.
Outside all was quiet. The stars hung in the still sky. Not so much as a gust of wind stirred the treetops, nor a cricket sounding. Nothing disturbed the silence of the night, until--
The sounds of slamming doors and pounding feet dominated for the next few moments as all the residents of the X-mansion rushed downstairs at the yell. They ran into the den to find Scott holding Bobby up against the wall by his throat. Scott's face was red with anger; Bobby's almost purple from lack of air. Jean dashed through the group to Scott's side, placing a hand placatingly on his arm. "Scott, honey, calm down. Bobby can't breathe."
"Good," Scott growled. But he did relax his grip slightly so Bobby could gasp a few breaths.
"Now, Slim, I can explain," he gasped out. "We were jus--urk!"
"Scott, calm down," Jean said in a soothing voice.
"You didn't see what he was doing!" Scott protested. "He--his hands--his shirt was unbuttoned!"
A snort of laughter came from Rogue, who tried to cover it with a cough. Scott glared over at her. Bobby took advantage of his momentary distraction to slip out of the chokehold and run over behind the cluster of X-Men. Peggy rushed to Bobby's side, her face a mask of embarrassment. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Sure. Never better," he gasped. "Just remind me--never to make Slim angry again."
A few smiles were quickly covered and the X-Men tried very hard to look sober and serious. Unfortunately, they were all very bad actors. Scott leveled his best Leader Look on them all, shriveling souls where they stood, and asked in a low, deadly voice, "How long has this been going on?"
"Uh, they've only been back fer 'bout half an hour," Rogue blurted out, caving under Scott's stare. Peggy and Bobby both gave her disgusted glares.
"Back from what?" Scott asked dangerously.
"A d-d-date," Peggy stuttered as the Look transferred to her. She sidled a little closer to Bobby for reassurance.
"A date?!" Scott exploded. Peggy turned pale.
"All right, enough is enough," Jean said firmly, stepping forward to put a hand on Scott's arm. "Bobby, Peggy, everyone, just go back to your rooms or whatever you were doing. We can talk everything out in the morning. Calmly."
Bobby and Peggy took advantage of the reprieve and darted for the stairs. Scott rounded on his traitorous wife. "And how long have you known about this?"
"Almost a month," she replied calmly.
"And you didn't tell me?"
"Not when I knew you'd have this kind of reaction. If you'd just look at this rationally, you'd see they're a good couple."
"A good couple! But--but what about the age difference?"
"Hmm, an interesting interrogative," Hank said merrily from his place on the ceiling fan. He knew better than to duck out just when things were getting interesting. "Peggy is nineteen and acts at least thirty. Bobby is twenty-seven, but acts sixteen. You’re right, my friend--she is too old for him."
Jean laughed and hugged her husband. "She’s growing up, lover. You’ve got to let her make her own choices. Bobby’s not such a bad one. Look at it this way--she could be dating Remy!"
"'Ey! Remy resemble dat remark!" Remy called from the hallway.
Peggy slipped into breakfast very quietly the next morning, not wanting to attract any attention whatsoever after the previous night's mortification. She paid special attention to absolutely not looking at Bobby, no matter how much she wanted to.
"Good morning, Peggy," Jean greeted her, trying to act normal despite a glowering Scott at the head of the table.
"Morning, Jean, everyone." Peggy smiled around the table at her "family." When her gaze fell on Scott, though, she shifted uncomfortably and pulled her turtleneck up higher.
"What's with the turtleneck, Peg?" Warren asked her. "It's supposed to be 90 degrees."
"I, uh, think I'm coming down with something," she mumbled with a completely unconvincing cough, tugging the neck up even higher.
Rogue grinned. "Ah remember some girls at mah old high school always wearin'' turtlenecks ta cover up their--" She stopped abruptly with a yelp, then rubbed her foot under the table while glaring at Bobby. Hank and Warren traded huge grins as Peggy's face reddened and Bobby stared straight at the table.
Betsy cleared her throat and asked, "Could someone pass the salt, please?"
"I've got it," Bobby and Peggy said as one, reaching for the salt shaker that stood on the table between them. They grasped it at the same time, Bobby's hands folding over Peggy's. At the touch, Peggy smiled shyly up at Bobby, forgetting for a moment that anyone else was in the room. Bobby stared into her eyes, feeling the same way. Then suddenly they both remembered where they were and jerked their hands back. The salt shaker dropped to the table with a quiet thud.
Peggy dared a look at Scott. He was stony-faced as Ororo quietly retrieved the fallen salt shaker and passed it on to Betsy. Her heart sank at his expression and she looked back down at the table. An awkward silence settled on the group.
The silence was broken by Scott's chair scraping against the floor as he pushed it away from the table. He stood and left the room without another word. The others exchanged quiet glances, not knowing what to say. Bobby looked across the table to Peggy, who was staring fixedly at her plate. One glimpse of the heartbroken look on her face hardened his resolve. He pushed his own chair away from the table, and went to follow Scott.
"Hang on a minute, Scott."
"I don't have anything to say to you, Bobby," he replied curtly.
"Good, then you can just listen, because I've got plenty to say to you," Bobby shot back angrily. "What is so wrong with me, Scott? I know you never thought much of me, but this is getting ridiculous. Just tell me!"
"Bobby, you're just... so much older than she is--"
"Eight years!" he interrupted. "That's nothing. My parents had a bigger age difference than that. And Peggy's not like most women her age. We all had to grow up fast. What else?"
"You're--you're just going to end up hurting her. I don't want that to happen to her."
"Oh give me a little credit, Scott," Bobby said in exasperation. "If I did anything to hurt Peggy, I'd have the entire extended Summers family after my hide, plus all of the X-Men, at least half of the other teams, the Starjammers, and half the Shi'ar Empire on my tail! Do you honestly think I'm stupid enough to do anything to hurt her, even if I wanted to?"
Scott had no answer to that, so Bobby plowed ahead. "I know what your problem is. And it doesn't have anything to do with me at all. Peggy's your daughter, and you don't want to lose her. It's what every father goes through! But for god's sake, Scott, don't slam the door in my face before I even get in the gate.
"Peggy thinks the world of you. You are the be-all and end-all of everything. You're not just the greatest thing since sliced bread; you invented sliced bread! Your opinion matters so much to her. More than she'd ever admit. Do you honestly think that she would seriously consider being with a guy she knew you hated so much?"
"I don't hate you--"
"Well you could've fooled me," he said bitterly. "Look, god knows I haven't had the best luck with relationships. And I'm not saying I'm not going to screw this one up; I've got too good a track record for that. But I want the chance, Scott." He looked Scott dead in the eye, all his usual humor totally gone. "I care a lot about her. She means more to me than I even know right now. I want to give it a shot. And fail, if that's how it's going to be. But I need to try. I have to."
His face was so serious, so completely earnest, that Scott couldn't think of anything to say. He just stood there for a minute, then turned around, and walked off quickly, his mind full of what Bobby had had to say.
"All right, people, let's try this again." Scott's voice was hard and implacable.
Rogue ran a gloved hand through her hair, lifting the heavy mass off her sweaty neck tiredly. "Sugah, we've been through it five times already. Cain't we give it a rest?"
"We'll stop when we've done it right."
Logan snorted softly and said simply, "Runnin' us ragged ain't gonna break up Frosty and the kid."
Scott's head snapped around. "That has nothing to do with this," he said harshly.
"Yeah, keep tellin' yerself that."
Scott's mouth was set in a hard line as he glared at his Canadian teammate. His jaw muscles worked almost imperceptibly under his skin. Finally he ordered, "Hit the showers."
He kept Logan pierced with his gaze as the others hurried away. The other man stared right back, pulling out a cigar and chomping on it defiantly. When the door hissed shut behind the rest of the team, Scott said angrily, "Don't ever bring my personal life into training sessions again."
"No problem. But if you do, don't expect me to ignore it."
"Where do you think you get off, Logan!"
"Look, you think you're the first guy this's happened to? Kitty and Jubilee are like my daughters. I know what you're going through. You think I like that Brit Kitty hooked up with?"
"I'd think so. He seems just like you," Scott said tersely.
The stocky Canadian grinned at Scott around his cigar. "Exactly. A man like that, he's got too much blood on his hands fer my little girl. He's rude, obnoxious, crude, and too old to boot. He ain't good enough for her. Not by a long shot."
"So what did you do about it?" Scott asked, interested despite himself. He'd never thought of Logan as a fellow father.
"Nothing. Did the best I could with her, raised her to be her own woman. Doesn't matter what I think about Wisdom. I've gotta trust her to make her own decisions by now."
"That's it?" Scott looked disappointed, hoping despite himself that Logan's solution had involved a slightly more... proactive approach.
"They grow up, and there ain't nothing we can do about it but raise 'em the best we can, then hope they learned the right things."
Scott frowned. He was silent for a long moment, then suggested mildly, "Why don't you go hit the showers."
"Sure thing, Cyke." The other man began to amble towards the door. He was caught up just before he reached the door by Scott's voice.
"Logan... no one's ever going to be good enough for them, will they?"
Logan grinned. "For our girls? Not a chance."
Bobby stared morosely at the tv screen, barely seeing the hockey game despite Hank and Remy's shouting indicating it was a good one. He'd gone up to talk to Peggy after the disastrous conversation--okay, shouting match--with Scott, but she'd just said she had a lot to do and she'd talk to him later. Just great. He knew she wouldn't want to go against Scott's opinion.
Bobby's head shot up at Scott's stern voice. The X-Men's leader was standing in the doorway, his expression impassive. "I need to speak with you. In private."
Bobby shut his eyes briefly, firing off a quick prayer that it wouldn't hurt too much, before following Scott out of the room. He tried to ignore Hank humming a funeral march. Scott gestured him into the library, then closed the door behind them. Bobby took a deep breath and prepared to face it like a man.
"Bobby..." Scott cleared his throat. "I wanted to talk to you about your... relationship with Peggy." Scott looked at him for a moment, then crossed the room in quick strides to stare fixedly out the window. Bobby looked at him in puzzlement. He could swear the fearless leader was uncomfortable.
"I know that you haven't been... seeing a lot of women lately and I..." He cleared his throat again. "I--wanted to make sure that you're being careful."
"C-careful?" Bobby stuttered.
"There are a lot of diseases out there," Scott continued, in full lecture mode now. "You need to be sure to always use protection and."
Bobby's mouth gaped open in shock. He would swear Scott was blushing! "Y-yeah, Slim. You don't have to worry about t-that."
Scott nodded tightly. "All right then." He strode back across the room, right past a stunned Bobby, and out the door before the younger man could say another word.
Bobby stared after Scott long after the other man had left, his brain trying to process what had just happened. Finally a slow grin broke out on his features. He slumped down in a nearby chair, just grinning.
Bobby knocked lightly at Peggy's door a little while later, after he'd finally managed to wipe the silly grin off his face. At her soft, "Come in", he opened the door and stepped inside. She was sitting at her favorite chair by the window, staring out at the lawn with a perplexed expression. "I just had the oddest talk with Dad," she said slowly.
"Yeah. I think I had the same one," Bobby admitted, walking over to lean against the windowsill.
Peggy turned her blue eyes on him and asked, "Was he actually--?"
"I think he was," Bobby answered.
Peggy was silent for a long moment, then said, "I swear he was blushing."
They looked at each other, grins slowly breaking out on both their faces. "Well," Bobby said casually, leaning down to caress her cheek with his hand, "can't let the old man down."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Peggy murmured, leaning in to him and pressing her lips to his.
Only the Beginning...