Fandom: X-Men, post-Mutant X and pre-M-day... or something like that. Mentions events and people from before that point.
Author's notes: Found this in an old notebook and figured I'd post it. Feel free to ask me about my headcanon for Hank's relationships, because trust me, I have lots to say.
Summary: A conversation between two old friends about past relationships prompts Northstar to make a move.
The gym doors opened, admitting Hank McCoy and Bobby Drake, the latter of whom was midsentence.
"-ly count as cheating when you're in an open relationship in the first place?"
Hank huffed a frustrated sigh as they dropped to the mats for some stretching. "Lad, I have explained before that polyamory only works if all parties involved clearly communicate their expectations --"
"So, Trish and I had agreed to hold each other as our most important partners. When she would see her ex-husband and not tell me, that was going behind my back. I felt cheated on."
Bobby frowned thoughtfully, sliding smoothly into the splits.
"Are you sure you'd made it clear that full disclosure of other partners was a condition of your relationship?"
"Quite sure," Hank replied with asperity, bending with superhuman flexibility. "Given the possibility of spreading an STI through our whole group that way was a terrifying prospect, not disclosing partners would be criminally irresponsible if something should happen. But that's not my point."
Bobby shook his head. "I still don't see the difference. Did you tell Vera about Dazzler?"
"Of course I did!" Hank replied, clearly affronted.
"Yes, we were a bit busy to try it during. Even -- oh. Aha. I think I know how to explain this better."
Bobby switched positions. "Okay, try me."
"When Cloud slept with Heather --"
They were interrupted by a loud clang and turned to find a startled looking Jean-Paul Beaubier at the weight rack.
"Who is Cloud?" he demanded, bewildered.
"My ex," Bobby said, as Hank waved apologetically.
"Different Heather. As I was saying, when Cloud slept with Heather, even though The 'It Doesn't Count As Cheating If They're Mindcontrolled' Rule applies -- for both of them --" Hank paused to shoot a glare at Alex Summers, who had let out a startled bark of laughter. "-- even so, you felt cheated on."
Bobby sat back, braced on his hands, a mulish expression on his face.
"I'm not sure it does count."
"Of course it does!" Hank sputtered. "Heather was telepathically influencing him while herself under mind control. The rule absolutely applies!"
"Hang on --" Alex tried to interject.
"Cloud kept insisting she loved Heather even after she was gone and the rest of you snapped out of it --" Bobby argued.
"Yes, but Cloud had previous susceptibility to brainwashing --"
Alex whistled loudly, hopping off his treadmill.
"Hold up! Can the rest of us get a score card for these pronouns? Is Cloud male or female?"
Bobby's, "Yes," overlapped with Hank's, "No." Alex scowled at them.
"Both and neither," Hank began.
"Nonsense, Bobby, it's perfectly simple. Alex, Cloud is a genderless non-terrestrial lifeform who was temporarily given the ability to assume a human form by the Cosmic Cube and could change sex at will."
Alex blinked. "...Right. Simple. I didn't know you dated guys in this reality."
Hank turned to Bobby with a droll look. "I think he means you," he stage-whispered.
Bobby seesawed his hand. "Technically, both of the guys I've been involved with were nonhumans who could change sex."
Jean-Paul was suddenly standing beside Alex (who didn't flinch, accustomed as he was to Quicksilver doing that sort of thing).
"You are single now, yes? Would you date an actual man?"
With a shrug of one shoulder, Bobby replied, "It would depend on the guy."
"If I asked you to have dinner with me Friday evening?" Jean-Paul challenged. His face began to storm over when Bobby shook his head, but --
"I have to chaperone a student training exercise all day. Thursday?"
"I have a mission Thursday," Jean-Paul replied, expression a mix of elation and frustration.
"Tonight?" Hank interjected, looking at Bobby. "Our marathon can wait. I hadn't bought the popcorn yet, anyway."
Bobby grinned, turning that smile on Jean-Paul. "Tonight work for you?"
"Yes, although I'm not sure I can get a reservation for a good restaurant on such short notice."
"Warren --" Alex began, but Hank and Bobby made rude noises.
"No way, he loves to cockblock me." Bobby winked at Jean-Paul. "Make a reservation for next week, and tonight we'll do something more low key. Drinks in town? Coffee?"
"Drinks," Jean-Paul said.
"Alright. Meet me in the West garage at seven-thirty, say?"
"It's a date," Jean-Paul said, the corners of his lips curling up into a smile before he sauntered out of the gym.
"Wow," Alex said when he'd gone.
Paige Guthrie, who'd been on another of the treadmills this whole time, stepped off as Alex returned to his. She looked at his face, and took off her headphones.
"Did something happen?"
Bobby started laughing, flopping down onto the mats.
"Oh, nothing bad," Hank assured her mildly. "Just another example of the importance of interpersonal communication."
He and Bobby high-fived.
Cross-posted from my journal.