by Desert Nomad
"So what do you think?" Jimmy asked, rather proud of his bargaining skills.
"It's nice. If you happen to like the smell of dead roaches in the morning," Tabitha said dryly, holding her nose.
"It's... really something, Jim," Terry said, scratching the back of her head. She made a mental note never to put Jimmy in charge of anything again.
"A warrior is not concerned about his surroundings," Shatterstar announced. Shatterstar and Rictor had returned to the team just the week before. It had been a lot quieter up until then.
"Look, guys, it's only a hundred bucks a month, and we get to keep the furniture!"
"Um, Jimmy, you do realize that the only furniture here is an orange crate and a lamp that looks a lot like that one from A Christmas Story," Tabby pointed out.
"I always wanted one of those," Jimmy said, looking over the plastic leg happily.
"You okay, Dani?" Roberto asked, looking at his teammate, who'd been somewhat spaced for the past few minutes.
"Yeah. Sorry. Valkyrie moment."
"Aw, it's probably nothing. C'mon guys, let's get unpacked."
Somewhere, in the dark, something went plop.
Julio Esteban Richter woke up the next morning. Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong. The scent hit his nose. The scent he would know anywhere.
X-Force was in the kitchen, eating breakfast. Dani was sitting on the orange crate, because she'd woken up first. Jimmy had found a large cardboard box in the back alley which they were using as a breakfast table. Suddenly, Rictor ran into the kitchen, horror etched on his face.
"There is EVIL in this house!"
Silence reigned for a moment. Then Tabby spoke:
"There is Mighty Mouse on your pajamas. So what?"
Rictor scowled. "You don't understand. We have to get out of here, right now."
"Why?" Terry asked, skeptically.
"Yeah, we've got a leg lamp and breakfast cereal, why would we want to move?" 'Berto added sarcastically.
"Can't you SMELL it?"
"Smell what, Ric?"
There was a moment of silence.
"Um, I know I haven't been on this team very long..." Dani said measuredly. "But is he always like this?"
"Yes," everyone chorused.
"Riccy," Tabby said in the tone of one who is talking to one who is not quite entirely with it and has started taking a spork to the couch. "It's just Terry's Lucky Charms. She's been scarfin' them all morning."
"Have not," Terry sniffed, shoving some more Lucky Charms in her mouth.
"Don't patronize me, Tab, I know what I'm talking about!" Suddenly, a slight movement on the floor caught his eye. Ric stomped at the floor savagely, then cautiously picked the object off the floor. "Do you guys know what this is?"
"Do we want to?" 'Berto asked.
"Oh, I know!" Dani exclaimed. "That's one of those marshmallow things they sell at Easter. The bunnies and chicks and stuff."
"Peeps," Jimmy supplied. "I love Peeps."
"DON'T UTTER THE NAMES OF THE EVIL ONES!" Ric screamed.
Somewhere in the dark, several things went plop.
"Have you ever considered Prozac, Ric?"
"I'M NOT CRAZY! I tell you, the... creatures are here. They're gathering their forces, then they're going to attack us. It's almost Easter, they're strong this time of year."
More strange looks were exchanged across the table.
"Fine," Ric snapped. "Don't believe me. But you'll change your tune when I'm right." He shook his head. "I have some phone calls to make." He stomped upstairs.
"That boy needs counseling," Terry sighed.
In the darkness the first thing that went plop began to discuss the situation with the two other things that had gone plop. It was a short discussion.
Ric jumped in the air at the sound. "What?"
Dani Moonstar had stuck her head in the doorway. "Hey, are you okay?"
"Yes. I'm fine."
"Um, okay. 'Cos back when we were all New Mutants, well, you had that leather thing going, but I thought you were all better..."
"Don't bring up the leather, okay?"
"Okay. So what's the deal with these--"
"Don't say it! They can hear you."
"Okay. Um, the marshmallow things."
"They overran Guadalajara back in '83. They destroyed everything. The grocery store. The saloon. The adult book store. All twelve of them."
"And you were... maybe five? This was a huge trauma for you?"
"They got my dog, Dani. I loved that dog. And I swore that one day, I would find those... things. And I would say to them: Hello. My name is Julio Esteban Richter. You killed my puppy. Prepare to die."
Dani nodded, thinking "And I thought the MLF was a bunch of kooks." She kept it to herself. "Um, Ric, Terry's making me go to the grocery store. Do you want anything?"
Ric thought about it. "Could you get me some instant hot chocolate?"
"Thanks, Dani. Means a lot to me."
Dani nodded again, and walked out. "Peeps," she mumbled under her breath.
Somewhere, in the dark, something decided that it was tired of the dark.
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