As Peggy settles into her new family, she gets to meet Uncle Alex. The world may never be the same...

Disclaimer: The X-Men belong to Marvel. Peggy belongs to me. I'm not making any money from any of them. Darn it.

Just a random, not particularly long bit of sillyness. Enjoy. This fic is for Cosmic--happy MUCH belated birthday, sweetheart! I hope you enjoy it. :) This is part of the "Pegasus Flight" series. Chronologically, it fits just after "Pegasus Flight" and before "Family". Feedback is worshipped and adored at

"Just Another Day at the Zoo"
By Andrea

In the county of Westchester, New York, just outside the town of Salem Center, at the end of Greymalkin Lane, there was a most unusual house. It didn't look very different from your average stately family manor, built with Old Money and covered with ivy. Anyone could tell it had sat in that spot for generations. Of course, anyone would be wrong. At least, anyone who hadn't sat around the bar at Harry's Hideaway, just a few miles down the road, and heard the locals' stories of the Xavier mansion, which had been completely destroyed at least twice and had any number of fascinating repairs required over the years. While most towns might see this as a worrisome sign, Salem Center simply accepted its resident eccentric... and the large checks he regularly wrote to the local construction company. A weirdo's money spent as well as anyone else's.

With that kind of history, the scene unfolding inside that infamous house this bright Saturday morning in August was almost depressingly normal. In the kitchen, a lovely red-haired woman was taking her turn preparing the mountains of food and gallons of coffee that the residents of the mansion called breakfast. Jean Grey took her duties seriously, and so the kitchen was full of the scent of bacon frying, coffee brewing, and toast burning. (She takes it seriously. That doesn't mean she's necessarily any good at it.) When certain other people had breakfast duty, the X-Men had to make due with boxes of donuts and orange juice from the carton. (Not naming any names, of course, but he's sitting in the living room in Scooby Doo slippers and pretending to work on taxes instead of watching cartoons.) Even burnt toast was an improvement.

Keeping Jean company was her boyfriend, Scott Summers. He sat at the kitchen table, nursing a cup of coffee and planning new training sessions in the Danger Room. Scott was the field leader of the X-Men, a brilliant tactician, and the resident sadist. (Not that anyone would say the last to his face, but the certain teammate mentioned above and another one whose name rhymes with "bank" confessed that after suffering through years of Scott's 6 a.m. torture sessions cleverly disguised as training exercises, they weren't a bit surprised to find out that one of Scott's sons became a supervillain.) Every once in a while Scott would look up and glance through the doorway into the living room, a little smile on his lips.

The smile probably wasn't due to the blare of cartoons coming from the TV, nor the Asian teenager watching them, wearing an eye-blinding pink bathrobe and yellow happy face slippers. She was shoveling huge spoonfuls of obnoxiously sugary cereal into her mouth while chattering non-stop. She was cute, spunky, and very loyal, but not likely to bring a fond smile to Scott's face for no reason. No, the smile was more likely caused by the other teenage girl in the room. She was a few years older than Jubilee and much quieter, though that last feat could be accomplished by just about anything short of a sonic boom. This girl's name was Peggy, and it would be Peggy Summers as soon as the wheels of bureaucracy managed to turn enough to process the adoption petition Scott had filed.

When she'd first come to the Xavier mansion, Peggy had been very quiet and reserved. She was slowly relaxing and becoming more animated, now that she had a loving father and didn't have to hide being a mutant any longer. (And if you've ever tried to hide suddenly being able to turn into a big white horse with an impressive wingspan, you'll understand what a relief that was.) If she still only managed to get in approximately one word to every hundred of Jubilee's, well, that wasn't all that unusual for anyone.

Both girls looked up from their sugar consumption as a knock sounded from the direction of the front door. Whoever it was didn't wait for an answer, but pushed the door open almost immediately. Scott frowned, set his notebook down, and strode into the living room to investigate. "What's going on?"

"Hey Scotty! Congratulations!" Alex Summers called out cheerfully, poking his shaggy blond head around the door and quickly following with the rest of his body. He strolled easily into the room and clapped his brother on the shoulder companionably.

Alex... cheerful... talking to Scott. While this wasn't entirely unheard of, as this particular set of Summers brothers never quite reached the level of antipathy achieved by the next generation, it was sufficiently unusual that Scott could be forgiven for simply blinking in surprise as Alex pushed something into his hand and moved on to greet the other occupants of the room.

"Hey Bobby, long time no see. Hi there, Jubilee. And this must be my new niece!" Alex stopped in front of Peggy with a grin and hugged the surprised girl. "Hi Peggy. I'm your uncle Alex. Don't believe half of what Scott's told you--I'm a lot cooler than he thinks."

"H-hi," Peggy managed, looking from uncle to father in confusion.

"Not that I'm not glad to see you," Scott managed after a moment, "but what are you doing here, Alex?"

"I had the day free and thought I should come out and meet whoever's insane enough to become a Summers voluntarily. Besides, I have to get established as the favorite uncle, right?"

"Unless I have another brother I'm not aware of, you're her only uncle," Scott pointed out dryly.

"All the more reason to be the best! Come on, Peggy, let's get going."


"Gotta do my job, right? Take you out to the zoo or something, buy you lots of stuff Scott will hate, and load you up with sugar! We'd better get going. It's going to be a busy day."

"B-but..." Peggy tried to protest, but Alex just took her by the hand and started dragging her out the door.

"It'll be fun," he assured her. "Don't worry, Scott, I'll take good care of her, and have her back by curfew!"

The door shut behind them, leaving Scott still standing there trying to come up with something to say. He blinked a few more times and finally shook his head, looking down at what Alex had pressed into his hand. A cigar, wrapped in plastic with the words "It's a Girl!" emblazoned on the label in pink letters. Scott started to chuckle. Apparently he'd finally managed to do something his little brother approved of whole-heartedly.

"What just happened here?" Bobby asked, looking very confused.

Scott smiled and said calmly, "Apparently my brother is taking his niece to the zoo."

As Scott turned to go back to the kitchen and his planning, he heard Bobby sigh and mutter, "Summerses!"

"It looks like a skunk!"

"It looks like Scott?"

Peggy blinked and turned to look at her uncle. "It doesn't look like Scott; it looks like a *skunk*." She pointed to the black and white monkey behind the glass. "See?"

"I thought you said it looked like Scott," Alex protested.

"It doesn't look a thing like him!"

"Maybe a little around the nose..."

"You're weird."

"You don't see it?"

"You also said that the water buffalo looked like Guido."

"It did!"

"And the *beaver* looked like *Logan*."

"Hey, they're both short and hairy..."

Peggy giggled. "Well, I guess you're right about that."

"Hah! Finally got a laugh out of you," Alex said triumphantly, reaching over to ruffle her hair as they left the monkey house and walked towards the giraffes. "I can see why you and Scott get along. He's too serious too. But he's boring, while you're just quiet," he added quickly.

"He's not boring," Peggy protested, stealing a handful of peanuts from the bag Alex carried. "He just doesn't make jokes."

"Or laugh at them."

"Hmm." Peggy considered this for a long moment, then offered, "He smiles at them?"

"Only because you're mellowing him. Keep it up, though." He winked. "He needs it."

"I don't think I'm mellowing him. He doesn't seem any different from when we met."

"Trust me on this one. I've known him for a *long* time." Alex grinned cheerfully at her, then looked over at one of the stands they were passing. "Ooh, popcorn. You hungry?"

"Yes," she replied instantly.

"After only two hot dogs, a hamburger, an ice cream cone, a pickle, and half *my* package of peanuts, I'm not surprised. Scott must be starving you."

Peggy blushed and accepted the bag of popcorn, ducking her head so her hair fell to cover her face. "Fast metabolism."

"Uh-huh. Chocolate at least better make you break out, or every woman in the mansion would be required to hate you."

She smiled innocently. "Of course it does."

"And you're lying through your teeth."

Her smile widened. "Maybe." She popped another piece of popcorn in her mouth and strolled off towards the next enclosure, leaving him laughing. It was one of the most relaxing, fun afternoons Peggy could remember. She adored living in the mansion, of course, and everyone had been very welcoming from the day Scott brought her home from the orphanage. Before that, even. She and Jubilee had struck up a friendship, and Scott was, well, her hero. But... she was still half in awe that they even wanted her *around*, much less as a part of their family (both the Summers family in particular and the X-Men extended family in general). She had no illusions about her usefulness to the X-Men; there was only so much a flying horse could *do*, and anything she did, one or more of the X-Men could do just as well.

And... well, she hadn't exactly had much luck the *last* time she'd tried to be a dutiful daughter.

She was quietly terrified that she was going to do something to change their minds, and even more determined to prove herself worthy of the trust they had put in her. But today... Alex--Uncle Alex, he'd insisted she call him--was simply too irrepressible for her to worry for long. He teased her and entertained them both with stories about his time with the X-Men and the messes he got into now with X-Factor. And, of course, he fed her. Frequently, and with only a minimum of teasing. *That*, in Peggy's estimation, was the best judge of character. So she slowly relaxed in his presence, and enjoyed the afternoon.

They stopped for a few minutes to stand at the tiger's cage. He was attempting to take advantage of the afternoon sun with a good nap, but a pinched-face little boy was throwing peanuts through the bars to hit him on the head. "Come on, move! Daddy, this is BORING! Make it move!"

His voice, they both noted with a wince, was thin, nasal, and extremely whiny.

When a peanut hit it directly between the eyes, the tiger looked up, then yawned hugely and laid its head back down. Peggy giggled. "Poor thing. These small zoos are always a little depressing, with all the animals still in cages like this. I like the big ones where they have a whole habitat to roam around. And hide from obnoxious children."

"Come visit X-Factor sometime and I'll take you to the National Zoo," Alex promised. "It's a lot nicer than this one."

Peggy smiled happily at him. It was nice having people who actually wanted you around. "I will."

The whiny boy, apparently, grew bored with the non-responsive tiger, and dragged his father on to the next cage. Alex went over and crouched in front of the tiger. "That's a good kitty."

The tiger opened one eye to stare at him, then made a soft growling noise and closed it again.

Alex laughed. "I wonder what kind of names he's calling me in his head right about now."

Peggy grinned and crouched down next to him, tilting her head and looking at the big cat thoughtfully. "You don't want to know."

"Hey, that's right. I've got a translator here." Alex smiled at her expectantly. "So come on, tell me. What's he thinking?"

"It doesn't work like that," Peggy explained with a shake of her head. "It's more images than thoughts. And besides, I can't hear him now anyway. I *could* check for you, but that would require turning into a big horse in the middle of the zoo. I think that might ruin our quiet afternoon."

"Aww, ruin all my fun."

"Sorry." Peggy tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Jean thinks I'll be able to eventually talk to them without transforming, but I'm not having any luck with that. I guess I'm just slow." She sighed softly, then added with a smile, "I'm sure the tiger was very complimentary to you."

"Liar," Alex retorted cheerfully. He stood up, then took her hands and pulled her back to her feet. "Don't worry about it, really. It took me a while to learn how to control my powers. Same with Scott and Jean and everyone else. You'll get there." He tweaked her chin cheerfully, then started tugging her on to the next exhibit. "Come on, the day is still young!"

Anyone remotely familiar with the Summers family, however, should know well enough that gathering two or more of those family members together--and even worse if they actually dare to try and have a good time--requires the laws of the universe to react. That one of the Summers in question in this situation was such only through a not-yet-official adoption apparently made no difference. (Those dratted laws of the universe can be annoyingly literal-minded sometimes.)

So when the first screams broke out, Alex merely heaved a resigned sigh and muttered, "Right on time."

"What?" Peggy asked in bewilderment.

"Never mind. Come on, let's find out what's going on."

They didn't have far to go. After being nearly bowled over by the whiny little boy from earlier and his father, Alex rounded the corner to find-- "Oh, that's probably a bad sign."

"What's wrong?" Peggy asked, looking around. "...The lion's cage isn't supposed to be empty, is it?"

"Not unless the door is *usually* swinging open like that," Alex replied. "Judging from the direction screaming people are running *away* from, I'd guess it went thataway."

Peggy bit her lip and offered tentatively, "I could get him to come back to the cage."

"But you'd have to transform. I am NOT explaining to Scott how I let his daughter be lynched the first time I took her anywhere. He'd never trust me to take you to the Ice Capades." He grinned at her. "Think you can find an out-of-the-way spot to do it from? I'll try to keep the lion from eating anyone..."

"Ice Capades?" Peggy blinked, then nodded. "I can. Just... give me a few minutes."

"Great. I'll distract the lion," Alex said confidently.

Peggy had already started to run off when he called after her, "Hey Peggy! How DO I distract a lion?"

"He's a cat! Wave something shiny?"

"What if he attacks?"

"Um... stay calm and offer a non-vital body part?" she suggested with a grin.

"ALL my body parts are vital!"

"How about your appendix?" Peggy offered, then darted off.

"Yeah, that'll work." Alex rubbed his hands together to psych himself up, then went off in search of the lion. "All right, got to get a lion. Just stay calm and offer him my--wait a minute. How's he supposed to GET to it?!"

"Hey Fearless! They're back! You can stop pacing now!"

"Thank you, Jubilee," Scott sighed. "I guess another lecture on the difference between 'inside voice' and 'outside voice' is useless?"

"Pretty much, yeah." She grinned at him and popped her gum.

"Consider it given, and try to remember in the future, all right?" he asked mildly, setting aside his notes and heading towards the foyer, reaching it just in time for the door to swing open.

"And so then--Scott! Hey, stop glaring at me like that. It's long before curfew, and she's still in one piece." Alex grinned and ruffled Peggy's hair. She smiled back at him, her arms around a gigantic stuffed animal.

"So I see. Have fun?" Scott asked her with a fond smile. "What's that, a lion?"

"Yes, to both," Peggy replied, exchanging a look with Alex. "It was nice."

"We had a blast," Alex confirmed.

"A blast?" Scott raised an eyebrow over the edge of his glasses. "So did you do anything interesting?"

"Nah, it was pretty quiet. Just your average day at the zoo. We saw a monkey Peggy thinks looks like you."

"I did NOT say that!" she protested immediately, hitting him with the stuffed lion.

"Quiet. So I guess you weren't at the same zoo where that lion got out and apparently almost ate some idiot who was waving a foil hot dog wrapper at it before it spontaneously gave up and walked back into its cage?"

"Wow. Cats do the strangest things sometimes, huh?" Alex replied innocently.

Scott put his hand on his forehead. "I am SO glad you're not on my team anymore sometimes."

"You know you miss me."

"Only sometimes." Scott smiled and put his arm around Peggy's shoulders. "Thanks for bringing her back in one piece. Plan to come back up in another month or so; we're having a party as soon as the adoption goes through."

Peggy blushed and looked at her feet, but couldn't restrain a wide smile.

"I'll be here. Don't want to jeopardize my position as favorite uncle!"

"I'm reserving judgment until Christmas," Peggy said quietly, but with an impish smile.

"Oh! Cut to heart!" Alex exclaimed, clutching his chest. "And after I FED you!"

She peeked up and grinned. "And I appreciated it."

"So I guess if he already fed you," Scott began somberly, "you don't care that I saved you some of Rogue's brownies--" He stopped and grinned over at Alex as Peggy disappeared into the kitchen. "Girl's faster than Pietro sometimes."

"She's a great kid, Scott. I thought you were a little crazy when you first told me what you were doing, but I think you made a good choice."

"Thanks. It's good to see you, little brother. You don't come by often enough. Why don't you stay for dinner?"

"I'll stay, but I won't eat," Alex laughed, putting his hands on his stomach. "I got full just WATCHING Peggy today!"

"Then stay and we'll talk." Scott put an arm around Alex's shoulders and guided him towards the kitchen. "For starters, you can tell me WHY you were waving a hot dog wrapper at a lion..."

***THE END***

*Note: "Stay calm and offer a non-vital body part" was actually a local politician's advice when an escaped lion was wandering around a number of years ago. It stuck with me ever since. :)

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