|Fic: "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda" (Scott Summers and Reed Richards, PG)
||[Sep. 23rd, 2007|04:00 pm]
Title: Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda
Written for: inlovewithnight for the 2007 xmmficathon. Request: Scott Summers and Reed Richards (crossover with Fantastic Four movieverse), taken prisoner by supervillains.
Disclaimer: Marvel owns it all! ...Except the song from which this fic takes its title. That belongs to Allan Sherman.
Characters: Scott Summers, Reed Richards.
Author's Notes: inlovewithnight, I hope you like this! And I hope you don't mind that I took liberties with the specific request. It kind of works, almost, depending on how you define "taken prisoner" and "supervillains." ;)
For the first ten minutes after boarding the bus, Scott thought he would be riding alone to Camp Windy Hills. Not alone--this was one of the Manhattan buses, crammed full of boys ages six to twelve, already rowdy at eight AM--but alone, without a seatmate. He'd been one of the first to board and had taken a seat about halfway down, a little closer to the back, and watched out the window as campers arrived and said goodbye to their parents. A few of the littlest kids cried, clutching at their moms and dads, but the older ones high-fived and bumped shoulders out on the sidewalk, then gave cursory waves to their parents as they got on the bus, already digging Game Boys and packs of cards and cans of Mountain Dew out of their backpacks.
A pair of blond brothers had arrived soon after Scott, older teenagers who had to be fellow counselors or at least counselors-in-training, but they'd just given him friendly nods before taking a seat together up front. They were joined, after a few minutes, by an Asian guy who seemed to know them and, of course, took the seat right across the aisle. Which left Scott, still seatmate-less, surrounded by kids. Hyper, excited kids.
He'd never gone to summer camp when he was younger, period, let alone math and science camp for high achievers. But he'd expected the kids to be...well, nerds. Quiet. Studious. Like he had been at that age. Like Hank. But now, as he took a closer look around the bus and saw that a chunky boy who looked about ten had, in fact, brought a box of Ho-Hos and was distributing them, and some little kids in back were messing around with Star Wars and Transformers action figures, he realized that maybe he'd been correct, just focused on the wrong thing. Maybe the operative words were 'summer camp,' not 'math and science.'
The bus doors were closing, and Scott was resigning himself to being stared at due to his shades and/or talking with eight-year-old, bespectacled Peter and his friend Harry for the entire ride upstate, when a hand thrust through the crack between the doors and someone yelled, "Please, wait!"
A tall, gangly guy with a big backpack followed his hand through when the driver opened the doors again, then promptly fell up the stairs. As the entire bus watched in fascinated silence, he unfolded his long, bare legs, stood, and brushed off the front of his blue Camp Windy Hills polo shirt. He looked up, and his dark eyebrows immediately drew together. "Oh. Oh, dear." A quick glance down at his khaki shorts, immaculate white sneakers, and--strangely--black argyle socks. "Were we not supposed to come in uniform?"
A couple of kids snickered, but nobody replied except the bus driver, who curtly told the newcomer to take a seat so they could get moving, already. The kids were already losing interest, but Scott, still watching, saw what looked like a flicker of panic cross the guy's face as he surveyed the crowd of campers and, at the front, the blond brothers, the Asian guy, and the counselor-in-training with braces who'd made their threesome a foursome.
At last, the new guy's eyes fell on Scott and the empty seat beside him, and he made his way down the aisle, bumping kids left and right with his backpack and mumbling apologies. He came to a stop and regarded Scott for a moment, head tilted slightly to the side. "Is there a reason you're sitting alone?"
Scott shook his head. "Go ahead," he said, gesturing.
The bus pulled out. After wrestling his backpack under Harry and Peter's seat, the guy straightened, turned, and stared past Scott out the window. His lips began to move silently. His eyes narrowed.
Scott couldn't help it. He edged away until his shoulder pressed against the glass, jeans whispering on the gray vinyl seat, but the guy didn't seem to notice.
Across the aisle and a few seats up, somebody pulled out a keychain that made three different farting noises. The entire bus cracked up, and Scott couldn't suppress a smile, but the new guy might as well have been on another planet. Scott sighed and looked at his clasped hands. Maybe he was going about this wrong. Maybe his seatmate was just shy. Or something.
Scott cleared his throat and turned to him, extending a hand. "Hi. I'm Scott Summers."
"I think you'd need to start with five, not three."
His hand dropped to his thigh. "What?"
His seatmate blinked and shook his head, as if to clear it. "What?"
"I'm Scott Summers."
"Oh?" Then he blinked again. Then his eyes went wide. "Oh. Richards. Reed. Reed Richards. I'm...him." He punctuated this by sticking out his hand, obviously an afterthought, and Scott would have been tempted to move away again if Reed hadn't also given him a sheepish, but very sane, grin.
Instead, he grinned back as he shook Reed's hand. "Nice to meet you. Are you a counselor?"
"I--yes. There was an explosion in the chemistry lab."
Scott didn't know how to respond to that, exactly. "Huh."
Reed nodded. "I--well. My privileges have been suspended until further notice. It came to a choice between this and working as Dr. Alexander's assistant all summer, but I think he is full of sh--er. Full of it."
"I need hands-on experience with kids," Scott explained, having gathered that they were telling each other how they ended up here. He thought. "Trying to get my teaching license early, and NYU offers half a credit for this."
"Ah," Reed said, nodding. "I'm at Columbia at present."
"What year? Junior?" Scott guessed. "I'm a freshman. Well. Sophomore, now."
For some reason, Reed turned to face the back of Peter and Harry's seat, and his expression closed in on itself. "Working on my second Ph.D., actually," he said quietly.
"How old are you?"
"Twenty-one." Reed gave him a small, tight smile.
"Holy--" He bit the rest off as Reed flinched. "Are you a--" He reconsidered that, too, and just smiled. "I mean, that's fantastic."
Reed nodded, then began staring so intently that Scott glanced out the window to see what he was looking at. Nothing interesting, apparently, just traffic in the next lane over. Scott turned back and jumped, finding that Reed had taken advantage of his inattention to lean closer, far beyond the boundary of his personal space, and was peering at him. "What on earth are those made of? And why, if I may ask, are you wearing them indoors? It's not overly bright in here."
"I have a condition," Scott muttered, after a long pause.
"Oh." Reed was clearly dying to ask what it was, but instead, he just nodded again. Then added, awkwardly, "Well. I hope it isn't something painful."
That should probably have been offensive, but Scott had to laugh. "No. I just have to wear these--or goggles, when I sleep--all the time. It's not a big deal."
"I wear socks to bed. It's not mandatory, I mean, but I do."
Scott was saved from having to reply when Harry's face popped up in front of them, followed, a second later, by Peter's. He doubted they were supposed to be kneeling up on the seats like that--it couldn't be safe--but let it go. "Want some Reese's Pieces?" Harry asked, dangling the bag.
He shook his head, but Reed's face lit up. "I would, thank you." He took a handful and popped a yellow one in his mouth. Harry passed the bag to Peter, then took a fistful of candy for himself. He gave Reed and Scott a significant look.
"I'm on a seafood diet."
Scott was opening his mouth to try and stop this before it happened, but, unfortunately--and unsurprisingly--Reed's eyes widened with interest as Harry chewed. "Really? Just for your main courses, I assume. Does that include freshwater fish as well?"
Peter pushed his thick plastic-framed glasses up, giggling. And Harry, of course, opened his mouth wide to show off the chewed, disgusting mess of chocolate with tiny bits of orange and yellow candy in it. "See food!" he yelled when he'd swallowed. "Get it?"
Reed looked stunned. Peter and Harry were cracking up, clutching their sides and probably spilling candy all over their seat, and the kids across the aisle, who'd seen the whole thing, were giggling, too. "He ate poop!" somebody called, and then the kid with the novelty keychain pressed the 'loud fart' button, and--yeah. Pandemonium. The entire back half of the bus was suddenly on the seafood diet. And gassy.
Scott tried hard to keep a straight face, but then Reed slid down in the seat, sort of bonelessly hunching, and shot him a pained, desperate look. "See food?" he whispered. "I thought we'd be teaching algebra."
"Six weeks, man," Scott replied, shaking his head. "Just six weeks."
"Six weeks." Reed closed his eyes, looking far older than twenty-one, and took a deep breath. Then he sat up and nodded once. "I can do that." Scott wasn't sure if Reed was telling him or reassuring himself, but he nodded, too.
"We'll get through it. Might even be fun."
"You mean, fun as in Stockholm syndrome?"
Scott spread his hands. "If you can't beat 'em..."
Up at the front of the bus, somebody started singing 'Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall,' and Reed didn't reply right away. Just listened intently, head cocked, bobbing slightly to the rhythm. Scott couldn't really believe that Reed hadn't heard the song before, but it sure looked that way. The kids--most of the bus, now--got halfway through bottle number ninety-seven before Reed raised both hands. "Stop!" he shouted. "Wait a moment. This is the bus to math camp."
"So what?" somebody called back.
"So," Reed explained, "the song should be a bit different, don't you think? Like so: One hundred and three bottles of beer on the wall, one hundred and three bottles of beer! You can't split them up, so you drink them all, one hundred and one bottles of beer on the wall."
In that moment, Scott learned three things about Reed Richards. One, his face and neck turned scarlet when he sang. Two, Reed couldn't sing in tune to save his life. And three, possibly related to two, he wasn't afraid to embarrass himself. And of course Scott got it, from 'you can't split them up,' so, even though he could sing but was self-conscious about doing it in public, he joined in on bottle number 101. Loudly. Reed beamed at him.
At 97, the blond guys in front started singing. And at 89, one of the older kids who'd been scribbling furiously on a notepad yelled, "They're prime numbers! Cool!"
They had a few missteps, like the argument about 57, but by the time they got down to the twenties, even the littlest kids were singing at the top of their lungs without needing a prompt. Reed was hoarse, eyes shining, and Scott felt, as they belted out the verse for bottle thirteen, that his smile might split his cheeks.
This summer was going to be okay.
Reed didn't open his eyes when Scott flopped down beside him. He just shook his head against the grass and groaned quietly. "They're watching a film about camp. At camp."
"And eating a food that has no name, just an abbreviated request for more."
Reed cracked one eye open and turned his head to face Scott. "Bug Juice."
"I know." With an exhalation that was either a sigh or a yawn--who knew running after eight-year-olds all day could be so exhausting?--Scott stretched out and looked up. Then he frowned. "It's overcast. You can't see the stars."
"Obviously." They lay quietly for a minute, listening to the wind in the trees--if nothing else, the camp lived up to its name--and looking up into the inky blackness. Scott closed his eyes, after a bit, and smelled woodsmoke when he inhaled. Opened them again when Reed spoke. "You'll give me your address and telephone number when we leave camp, won't you?"
There was a note in his voice that Scott knew, that was written deep inside, in the place where he kept the things he didn't want to think about from his life before Xavier's. He had to swallow before he replied. "Yeah, Reed. Of course."
Reed didn't say anything. Just bumped the toe of his sneaker against Scott's, gently, and didn't move his foot away until they stood to go back to their cabins.