Ahem. This is a fic-by-request for Mitai, though she didn't quite realize she was requesting it at the time. :) Sort of a prequel to my "Banter and Bondage in the Summers Family", though it's not necessary to have read that first. This is rampant sillyfic with no particular point, so be warned. Thanks to Kore for the prod when necessary. All characters belong to Marvel, though I'm not sure if Marvel wants this set. Feedback is worshipped and adored at ra_1013@yahoo.com.

"For Want of a Purple Umbrella"
By Andrea

"Sometimes I hate my life," Scott Summers muttered, downing a shot of whiskey with a quick turn of his wrist.

"Woman trouble?" the bartender asked knowingly, coming over casually to refill Scott's glass. There was no one else in the bar but an old man snoring with his arm wrapped securely around a bottle.

Scott snorted. "I married a redhead." That sounded like the name of a horror movie, come to think of it...

A chuckle. "Young people are always having spats. You'll patch this up soon." With those words of wisdom imparted, the bartender left Scott to nurse his new drink.

Scott passed the drink from hand to hand, but didn't drink. A spat. Right. Scott Summers had long ago discovered the truth. Married couples didn't have spats. They Argued. Dating couples did not Argue. They might have spats, or quarrels or tiffs, but an Argument (capital A, all the rest italicized) belonged to the Married Couple. Married couples might *start* with a normal quarrel, like "Stop drinking out of the milk carton", "Quit leaving the toilet seat up", or "God help me, if you blow up ONE more alarm clock, I will beat you with its pulverized remains!"

But they didn't *stop* there. Not with once you were married. They'd move from that perfectly normal spat into the great sin of leaving your socks on the floor, You Don't Love Me Because We Haven't Had Sex For A Week, how being two thousand years in the future does NOT give you an excuse to miss a birthday or anniversary, the origin of the stain on your collar, whose turn it was to take out the trash, and reason number seven hundred and sixty-two why it is NOT okay to marry someone's clone just because you happened to think the original was dead at the time.

Scott figured there was a moderately good chance Madelyne would at some point demonstrate that looks and a certain affinity for fire were not the only things she'd inherited from Jean by turning up alive again. At this point, given her opinion on the whole situation, he would be officially Doomed.

Some days he considered tossing it all in and joining the circus. Or maybe the mafia. That would be considerably less stressful than his current life.

...That was SUCH a sad reflection on his current life.

On the bright side, he thought in a rare optimistic moment as he finished the glass, it couldn't get much worse.

The front door swung open just as he'd completed the thought, making him look up... and promptly dropped his glass. This was why he never tried optimism. It always led to something Terrible happening.

He watched in mute horror as Sinister, Apocalypse and Magneto walked into the bar.

He was seeing things. That was it. He'd drank so much that he'd started hallucinating. ...Granted, two shots of whiskey didn't usually do that to him, but... All right, he was feverish. Desperately ill. The victim of one of Bobby's more creative practical jokes involving hidden cameras and image inducers.


A tinkle of glass caught his attention. Apparently if he was hallucinating, he thought wryly as he watched the bartender blink between the bottle he'd dropped and his three newest patrons, it was contagious.

Scott eased quietly back in his seat, glad that habit and training had prompted him to choose a seat in the corner with a view of the whole bar while incidentally keeping him mostly in shadow. He was in a bar, alone, with three of the X-Men's biggest enemies. The universe had just taken a giant right turn in the direction of "Make Scott Summers' Life More Difficult"...

He suspected that making Summerses lives difficult was a special interest of the universe. He wasn't arrogant enough to believe that was its purpose, but he wasn't above suspecting the activity of being a hobby.

Barring some fortunate interruption, like Madelyne conveniently showing up and the three villains running screaming in terror from a domestic dispute, it looked like Scott's best move was to sit and wait. The villains had settled into a booth along the back wall, with Apocalypse taking up one side and leaving Magneto and Sinister to share the other side with slightly-mistrustful glances at each other. Though none of them were in their full battle costumes, they were still certainly intimidating enough to the poor bartender, who served their orders with a stutter and fled back to huddle behind the bar, shaking and muttering prayers.

"To a successful relationship," Sinister said smoothly, raising his vodka martini (stirred, not shaken) in a toast to the other men.

"I haven't agreed to any sort of relationship yet," Magneto interrupted, "and I don't see why we're meeting *here* when we probably half a dozen secret bases between the three of us."

"You must admit, Magnus, none of our enemies will be looking for us HERE." Magneto had to concede that point, though he didn't look happy about it. Scott found himself wishing desperately for Kurt's ability to disappear in shadows.

"And besides," Sinister continued, his lip twisting slightly as he took a small sip of his martini, "it would seem to undermine the point of *having* a secret base if we shared its location with each other."

Magneto took a measured drink from his own glass. From Scott's angle, it looked suspiciously like whiskey. Scott eyed his own glass in shattered remains on the floor and privately vowed not to drink again. "So. Since we have established why we are *here*, *why* are we here?"

Apocalypse was eyeing his violently pink drink with a grim expression. Not that Scott had ever seen the External really look anything BUT grim. Well, there was "excruciating pain" the once, and while Scott certainly wouldn't mind seeing it again, that probably wasn't too likely here.

"My Mai Tai has no umbrella. It is meant to have a *paper umbrella*," he pronounced firmly. "I requested a *purple* paper umbrella. Purple paper umbrellas are of the Strong!"

Sinister muttered into his martini, "Not *very* strong. Melt at the first drizzle, you know."

"You do not sound like my faithful servant, Essex," Apocalypse rumbled, the deep voice practically purring. "Be cautious. Your coin is low with me since the Summers debacle."

Magneto took a quick sip of his drink, but Scott was skilled enough at lip-reading to know he said, "Which one?"

"Summerses have more lives than cats!" Sinister snapped, making Scott grin proudly.

"And the kittens seem to give you the most trouble," Magneto added on a laugh. "You should never have been so insistent that Grey and Summers have children."

Scott had to choke back wild laughter at the thought of comparing any of his children to kittens.

Sinister retorted silkily, "Even kittens can have claws. At least MY troubles are with an entire family, not one ex--"

Scott sat up quickly.

"At least *I* was important enough to form an entire team to fight against," Magneto interrupted quickly.

"Yes, we've been meaning to thank you for that for *years*."

"Stop squabbling, children," Apocalypse interrupted them both. "There are more important things at issue."

"Like a purple paper umbrella?" Sinister replied dryly.

"My requirements are simple, but I expect them to be met! This establishment will not survive--"

"Only the Strong will survive," Magneto interrupted bitterly, downing the rest of his glass with one swift motion. "I've seen little to indicate your method is any more successful than the rest of us, Apocalypse. Less, as you've been working at it so much longer."

"You question me?" Apocalypse rumbled, half-standing and crushing his umbrella-less Mai Tai beneath a heavy hand. He glared at the virulent pink liquid spilling out on the table, then shifted back to the Master of Magnetism. "You are over-confident for one who has been repeatedly defeated by the same enemies you mock me for."

"At least *I* didn't waste five thousand years doing nothing more than creating a servant who tries to undermine me at every turn!"

"Stay out of things that are not your business," Sinister hissed. "*You* were defeated by a collection of children, before they ever learned to fight!"

"YOUR master plan was defeated by an INFANT!"

"The Strong do not sit and listen while the weak argue." Apocalypse stood the rest of the way up and toppled the table as he stepped away. Sinister made one futile grab for his martini before it shattered.

"Why do you always ruin things by crashing in heavy-handedly when a little subtle guidance will produce the right result?" he snarled.

"You forget yourself, Essex."

"You're full of yourself, Apocalypse," Magneto spoke up. Scott nearly fell out of his chair.

"The teenagers you taught have taught you some interesting phrases, Magneto." Sinister crossed his arms in front of him. "Perhaps this entire meeting was a mistake."

"That's *your* mistake, Sinister. Never willing to make a definite statement. This meeting WAS a mistake." Magneto turned, giving the impression of a cape swirling around him despite being clad in a business suit. Head high, he stalked out the door.

"You have wasted my time," Apocalypse accused his servant, glaring down from an imposing height. "Next time choose a RATIONAL man before coming to me with talk of alliances. And make sure there are purple umbrellas in the Mai Tais!"

The External touched a button on his belt and teleported away.

Sinister cursed in fluent British that would have made Pete Wisdom proud, then followed suit.

Scott stared at the now-empty booth and toppled table with the remains of a Mai Tai still splattered across it. He turned his head slowly and met the wide, frightened eyes of the bartender, who still crouched behind the bar. A crushed purple umbrella was clutched in his hand.

After a moment, Scott found his voice. "Don't worry. I don't think they'll come back," he said reassuringly. He stood up and dusted himself off, feeling like he'd just been through a war. He eyed the remains of his glass where it had shattered on the floor, then over at the broken booth, and pulled out his wallet. He laid a fifty on the table, then reached out and plucked the umbrella from the man's fist. He then placed it carefully in his wallet and strolled out, whistling.

"--so the duck said, 'You've got to be kidding me!'"

The entire table burst into laughter. It was probably due more to the significant quantities all present had imbibed from the drinks in front of them, but Bobby Drake drank in the laughter all the same. After it died down, he looked around the table. Snapping his fingers, he exclaimed, "Scott!"

Scott looked up from his soda--no more whiskey for him--and gently squeezed the hand that was draped casually over Jean's shoulder. "What?"

"It's your turn." Bobby held up his drink in a mock-toast. "You haven't told a story all night. Come on, I know you know at least ONE."

Scott considered this with due seriousness for a while, then offered, "Sinister, Apocalypse and Magneto walked into a bar--"

He was interrupted by groans and thrown peanut shells from everyone else at the table. "Come on, Scott!" Bobby protested. "Who'd ever believe something like THAT?"

Scott just fiddled with the slightly-crushed purple paper umbrella in his left hand and smiled.

**The End**

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