Disclaimer: All characters are property of Marvel Comics. They are being used without permission, for no profit.

[Continuity Note: Back in the early nineties, during the original run of X-Factor, Apocolypse's horseman, Pestilence, touched Hank, which messed up his brain, leaving him with the intellect of a child. Around the same general era, Bobby began losing major control of his powers and ended up hurting himself a lot and destroying some stuff. For continuity nitpickers, I know the timing is off, (Bobby managed to fix his powers about 2 issues before Hank descended into *total* stupidity) but I just stretched the overlap a little, because it made a good story. So pbbbt.]

by Kerrie Smith

I wanted to go.

It ain't fair.

I coulda helped.

But Scotty and Jeannie took the kids an' left me behind.

They left Bobby to take care of me.

It ain't fair.

I'm older'n smarter'n Bobby, anyway. At least I used to be. He's not much fun anymore, either... all he does is sleep. Ever since he got back from Asgard, he hasn't even been able to use his powers right. But then, I'm too stupid to take care o' myself anymore, so I need a babysitter.

I sit in the chair an' watch him sleep. Sleep... sleep... sleep...

Artie left his blocks on the floor.

Maybe I'm not smart no more, but I'm still the Beast! I can balance on one finger an' type with my toes! I pick up the blocks, and juggle 'em. Three, four... I still got it. I'm still the bouncin' Beast!

Then one o' the blocks bounces, too.

Bounce, bounce, BONK!


Bobby rubs his head, blinks a few times, and sits up, pushing off the afghan. Maybe he didn't notice.

"Hey, Hank," he says. "Whatchu up to?"

"Nothin'," I say, putting Artie's blocks back on the ground.

"Where is everyone?" Bobby asks, stretching.

"They left, 'member?" I reply.

"Oh, right. Artie and Leech still takin' their nap?"

I nod.

"Cool." Bobby rummages around through the couch, and comes up with the remote control. He turns on the tv. It's "Knight Rider."

"I love this show," Bobby comments. "That David Hasselhoff.... genius."

I'm not as smart as I used to be, but I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with that statement.

"What time is it?" Bobby yawns.

"Two pm."

Bobby blinks. "Jeez. I slept a long time. Where is everyone?"

"They went out to fight bad guys, remember? Jean woke you up and told you."

Bobby made the face like he's trying to look inside his own brain.

"Vaguely... I was having this dream where I was a piano player in this lounge, and all these women were hanging all over me... And then Jean showed up dressed as a waitress and yelled 'We're leaving now, and don't take all the tips!' I guess maybe I wasn't entirely awake." He grinned.

We watch "Knight Rider" for a few minutes. I want an intelligent car. Maybe I could have built one, long ago.

"X-Factor needs a car like KITT," Bobby announces.

"I think so, too," I reply. "But we wouldn't let Scott drive it."

Bobby laughs. "He'd just drive it like an old lady, like he always does."

We laugh.

Suddenly, Bobby's tummy makes a loud noise. We laugh harder.

"Time for food, huh? You comin' with, Hankster? I'll make you a sandwich," Bobby offers, starting to get up.

"I can get my own lunch," I answer.

Bobby shrugs. "Fine then. Turn down the greatness of the Bobby Drake Fluffer Nutter Supreme. Your loss."

I frown. Bobby *does* make good sandwiches. But I can make my own. I'm a grown-up.

"Look, I'll make you a deal. If you're in charge of the chocolate milk, I'll be in charge of the mouth-glue, kay? I mean, what's a fluffernutter without chocolate milk?"

Bobby makes extra sandwiches, which is good, because Artie and Leech wake up, and are hungry, too.

"Want more milk!" Leech announces.

"Ask Hank," Bobby replies. "He's in charge of milk."

Artie makes a picture of me milking a big brown cow.

We laugh, and I reach for the chocolate syrup.

"Leech want to be in charge of something, too!" Leech announces.

Artie makes a picture of himself in a shirt that says "Boss."

Bobby thinks for a minute. "Hmmm... Well, I think we could all use a little dessert to polish off that fine meal. Can you two handle that?"

"Yes!" Leech replies, and he and Artie scurry off to the cupboard.

"So what's the game plan for today, Hank-o-rama?" Bobby asks, leaning back in his chair.

"I didn't make one," I reply.

"Nah, I mean, what you wanna do? It's just you, me, and the munchkins, right?"

"We should go out!" I say. "Into the city."

Bobby goes a little pale. "I... dunno if that's such a great idea, Blue."

"I'm not blue," I remind him.

"Oh. Right."

Suddenly, Artie and Leech run back in.

"We found the bestest dessert ever!" Leech announces.

Artie makes a picture of Twinkie the Kid.

Bobby and I grin.

"We have trained you well, young Jedi," Bobby intones. "You are indeed, strong in the Force. Now hand over the goods."

Artie hands out twinkies, and we sit and eat the yummy cakes.

"So what do you guys want to do today?" Bobby asks.

Artie makes a picture of himself in a funny costume, holding a big, blue sword.

"You wanna watch Star Wars?" Bobby asks, sounding glad that he put the idea in Artie's head.

Artie shakes his head, and adds a picture of himself fighting Leech, dressed in a black cape.

"Artie wants to play Star Wars!" Leech interprets. "Leech wants to play, too, but he doesn't want to be the bad guy!"

"Some one's got to be the ultimate force of evil in the galaxy," Bobby frowns.

I want to play, too, but Bobby will think I'm stupid if I say so. I want to be Darth Vader. He has the best light saber.

Bobby frowns. "Well, *I* don't wanna be Darth Ugly. Hey, Hank, you did that great James Earl Jones voice. Wanna play?"

"Play with Artie and Leech, Hank!" Leech exclaims.

Artie's picture changes to me in the black cape.

"Okay," I agree, slowly.

"Awesome!" Bobby exclaims, dumping all the plates in the sink, as Artie and Leech jump up and down. "You're the best, Hank!"

Sometimes I miss the fur. It was harder to tell when I blushed.

For the next two hours, we play Star Wars. I am the Darth Vader, Artie is Luke Skywalker, and Leech is Han Solo. Bobby has to be everyone else, from Obi-Wan Kenobi to Princess Leia to Lando. Bobby can never be Lando without making Colt .45 jokes, but Artie and Leech don't seem to notice.

I am questioning Princess Leia again, about the whereabouts of the Rebel Base when we realize that Luke and Han have fallen asleep on us.

"They sure do sleep a lot," I comment.

"They sure do," Bobby says, pulling Jean's earmuffs off his head. "I think the Rebel Base is in the kitchen. Wanna come?"

"Sure," I reply.

We sit down in the kitchen, and Bobby pulls a couple of beers out from the vegetable drawer, where Jean doesn't know they are.

We sit at the kitchen table and, in unison, take long gulps of beer.

It reminds me of going in to Greenwich Village when we were younger. I remember the first time I bought Bobby a beer, because he wasn't old enough. He turned green and gave it back, and I laughed. I was a lot smarter then.

Bobby stares at his beer. "Hank, I, uh... I wanna thank you."

I blink. "For what?"

Bobby stares at the ceiling. His eyes look shiny. "For staying behind with me. I know Scott and Jean left me on the pretext of watching the kids, but let's face it, with the way my powers are wacking out, I'm worse than useless."

My jaw drops. "Bobby..."

"And I know they asked you to stay behind, in case I get worse or do something stupid. And I'm sorry. But thanks. I couldn't ask for a better babysitter."

I stare at my beer for a moment. "No problem. After all, we're best friends, right?"

"Best friends forever," Bobby agrees, and we clink our bottles.

Best friends forever.

The End

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