Title: Well, This Is Awkward
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters that are not mine.
Apology: I hope my attempt at a British accent isn't horrible.
Cassy Gallagher was tired.
Not just I-need-caffeine tired, but I-haven't-slept-in-18-hours-and-I-desperately-want -my-pillow tired. She worked as a janitor, and the stuck-up people in the building she cleaned didn't want her around during the day. So she cleaned at night. She leaned against her janitor cart and ran a hand through her blond hair, which came halfway down her shoulders. If she looked in the mirror, she was sure her gray-green eyes would be bloodshot.
The only reason she took this job was to spite her ex, Trevor. He was a jerk, always telling her what to do, where to go. Heck, he tried to tell her what to wear one time! She was a jeans-and-t-shirt girl. You did not tell a girl like that what to wear. So she dumped him and took the job, proving yes, a girl in her mid-20's could, in fact, roam the city at night, doing an honest job. And she did it well, if Cassy did say so herself.
But right now it was almost midnight, and she wanted to go home. But instead, she was cleaning toilets.
Mortimer Toynbee, aka Toad, tilted his head to the side, watching the doors of the building from the van. He was one of the members of the Brotherhood of Mutants, and he looked just like what his name implied –green. He lifted his goggles off his head, revealing green eyes a much prettier shade than his skin and hair, and looked over at Sabertooth, who was in the driver's seat. "So wot's she doin', then?" he asked, 'she' being the blue female busy at the laptop in the back.
Sabertooth just growled, while Mystique replied in her rather unique voice, "I can hear you, Toad," shooting a glare at him.
"So wot're ya doin', then? I thought Mags wanted us ta go steal sommat," Toad.
"I will be doing the stealing," Mystique corrected. "You and Sabertooth will be the lookouts." She shut the laptop. "Let's go."
Mort shrugged; he didn't really care, just as long as he got back to base sometime before dawn.
Cassy felt her phone vibrate. She pulled it out of her janitor's uniform and checked the number. Phoebe. She answered. "Hey chica. 'Sup?"
"I'm almost done with floor two. Moving to three soon."
"I did ten and nine, and I just got to eight now. How's Ben?"
"Well, ya know."
"Yep." Cassy knew. He did one floor and then messed around with the apps on his iPhone. Seriously, if the guy could afford an iPhone, why was he cleaning office buildings? "Well, let's hope he's finished with five sometime tonight."
"Yup." Cassy hung up and then began to empty all the trash on floor eight. This was a really weird building. The FoH, aka Friends of Humanity, owned it. That translated into mutant haters. She wasn't comfortable here at all. But hey, bills must be paid, right? She rubbed her face, and then realized her hands smelled like Windex. Yuck. They were wrinkled and pruny from the mirror cleaner too. Double Yuck.
Stolen passkeys had gotten them in, and Sabertooth had been left at the front entrance. Mort got stationed by the elevator and stairwell, once Mystique had gotten up to the correct floor. "Watch the exits," the blue shape shifter commanded, and then disappeared into the darkness. Toad rolled his eyes and squatted beside the elevators, watching the shadows play over the walls. The woman had to hack into the computer mainframe and then download all the files on the FoH movements, the bloody gits. But that took a while, and he was getting bored. Plus, he had to use the loo. And who would be coming to the building at a little past midnight? He left his post to go find the loo.
After finally locating the loo (hard to do in the dark) he did his business and stared to exit. He noticed two things almost simultaneously. The first thing was that there were lights on now. The second thing was that someone just collided with him. "Bloody 'eck!" He exclaimed. Green eyes stared at him in total surprise, set in a face framed by blond hair. "Blimey, 'oo th' 'ell're you?"
She blinked and said, "I'm the janitor! Who are you?"
Cassy stared at this guy. Number one, he wasn't supposed to be here, which made her nervous. Number two, he was green. Like, seriously. G-r-e-e-n.
"None 'o yer business," he snapped. "I ought t' take you t' Mystique right now."
Cassy couldn't really process what he said in her head, but she noticed he had a British accent, and he had an earring in his left ear.
"Wot, y' starin' now? Bloody yank. Ain't you evah seen a mutant afore?"
"Yes," Cassy said, finding her voice. In the mirror. "My brother. He's an empath, so it's not obvious, but…" she trailed off. She had a tendency to babble when nervous. "Who are you?" she repeated her previous question, the nervousness growing.
" A'right, that's it, I'm takin' y' t' Mystique," the man growled, and snatched her up as she yelped, carrying her down the hallway. Cassy felt like a football, because that's sort of how she was held –under one really strong arm. One hand was threaded through the belt of her uniform, and the other was around her rib cage. She wasn't comfortable at all, and the hand around her ribs was getting closer and closer to being handsy because of the rhythm of his walk.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, put me down," she exclaimed. "Where are you taking me?"
"Cor, do y' evah shut up?" he asked. "Y've seen me, so y'r a witness. Dumb blond."
"I'm not a dumb blond," Cassy said automatically. She had gotten so tired of being called that in school, especially since she made all A's.
"Yeh, well, what are y' then? Mos' smart people don' find it normal to see mutants in a FoH meeting spot."
"So, what, you're going to kidnap me? Kill me?" she asked, giddy with fear. "I think I can walk wherever you're taking me!"
"I've 'eard that afore," he said, still walking.
Ugh, this was not comfortable and increasingly awkward! And she needed to do something before she was done something terrible to. Whatever that might be. She twisted her head around and tried to kick him in the back of the legs. Didn't work.
"Toad, just what do you think you're doing?" a woman's voice asked, not amused. "And what is that?"
The voice made it sound like she was something the dog dragged in. Or toad. Is that the green man's name? Cassy wondered.
"Janitor," he said, dropping her to the floor. " 'Er name's Cassy Gallagher." Cassy winced painfully, and slowly got to her feet. How did he know my –oh. It was on her nametag. She could feel herself staring at the woman, but she couldn't help it. She was blue, and she was…well, she looked like…she was naked. And she didn't seem uncomfortable at all. Cassy was uncomfortable just looking at her. Just everything about this is awkward, Cassy thought.
"She saw me," Mort explained, staring at the blond woman, making sure she didn't make any sudden moves. "Wot should we do wi' 'er?" he asked.
"Is she human?" Mystique asked in her strange voice.
Toad shrugged. "Dunno."
"Kill her," Mystique said unemotionally.
"Actually –" the woman began, backing up.
"Shut yer gob," Toad commanded, "an' don' move."
"I need to finish up," Mystique said. "Can you handle it?"
"Yeh," he said. Of course he could. He could kill a man with a kick in the right spot.
"Good," Mystique said, disappearing down the hallway.
"You know, I don't like this plan," the woman said faintly.
"Tha's a real downer, innit?"
She whispered, "I'll just be going now." And then she bolted for the stairwell.
"Blimey," Toad muttered, bounding after her. She shrieked when he landed in front of her, grinning cockily. This might be more fun than I've 'ad in a while, Toad thought to himself, smirking.
Cassy shrieked and turned around, running the opposite direction. But again, there were a couple of thumps and he landed in front of her again. Note to self: you should have considered that his name 'Toad' must mean more than his skin color, she berated herself, turning and running for the stairwell again. She heard him laughing behind her, but Cassy didn't care. She needed to escape before the panic froze her in her tracks. She made it through the door and down three steps before he appeared in front of her, again.
"Don' y' think this is gettin' a little repetitive, pet?" he asked.
Cassy glared. Door number one lead to dying at his hands. It sucked that her janitor uniform was dark blue. Was there a door number two?
Yes. Yes, there was, and she was taking it.
She leapt over the banister and began her freefall to the bottom.
And then she was yanked to a stop by something wrapping itself around her ankle. She screamed and hung there in midair, staring at the floor so far away. Twisting around, she tried to hold her head up to see what was around her ankle.
Imagine her surprise when she realized it was his tongue. On one hand –GROSS NASTY! On the other –yay, I'm not dead.
Toad started to say something. What he meant was, "I can't hold you for very long. I'll swing you close to the rail and you grab hold, understand?" But since he couldn't use his tongue, it sounded like, "I ca' 'ol oo fo vehy lo'g. I'leh swhig oo closs oo th' rai' an' oo gwab 'ol, un'ers'an'?"
Cassy frowned, trying to decipher his words. Her green eyes widened in understanding and she yelled, "Yeah! Swing away!" He began to swing his head back and forth, making his tongue into a pendulum, so she swung, too. Cassy stretched out her arms to try to grab the rail of the stairs. Twice her fingers just brushed it, but the third time she grabbed hold of it. "I've got it!" she screamed. "Let go!"
Immediately, she was released, and she dropped right side up on the side of the railing without stairs. She slammed into it and winced. That was going to leave a bruise. She hauled herself over the railing as fast as she could, because she knew he'd be following her. Dashing down the stairs, she zipped open the front of her uniform and burst through the stairwell door.
'Is tongue bloody 'urt! What did that girl think she was doin', jumpin' off the bleedin' stairs? Toad jumped down the stairs right after the girl disappeared from sight. Shoving the door open, he stopped, slightly stunned at the sight of a pair of sneakers and a blue janitor's uniform on the floor. He picked them up. Was the stupid girl runnin' around completely starkers? Blimey yank girl, nutty as a fruitcake. Something slammed into his jaw, hard. He recoiled and stared. No one was there. Now someone kicked him in the shins! "Wot th' 'ell?" he exclaimed.
"I am grateful that you saved my life, but you're also going to kill me so I'm not going to be nice," a voice he recognized as the girl's said from behind him. "Of course, one might wonder why you saved me at all, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth."
Something crashed against his skull, and he growled, lashing out at the air around him. Was this girl a mutant after all? Was she bleedin' invisible now?
"I shall be going now," she said, and the sound of running feet filled the hall, getting fainter and fainter. Mort stared down the hall. He didn't quite know how to describe it, but in the middle of the hallway, the color and shapes of things further down were …warping somehow. Maybe this girl could blend in somehow to her surroundings, but her mutation couldn't keep up to her fast pace. Mort smiled. This would be easy now that he knew what to look for.
He hopped along, ricocheting off walls and the floor, rounding the corner, going ten feet, and then colliding with an unseen body.
They both went to the ground, and an irate female voice shrieked, "Get off me!"
He smirked, feeling her trying to roll over and get a clear shot at his face again. "Nah, I like this, pet. 'Specially if y' are starkers." He tightened his knees around her, preventing her escape.
"What?" the girl asked, confused. What was 'er name again? Cassy.
"Starkers. Naked," he explained, the cocky grin growing on his face.
Cassy's jaw dropped open, though he couldn't see it. "I am not naked!" she exclaimed indignantly.
"Wot else would y' call strippin' yer clothes off, darlin'?" he asked, chuckling and showing her the uniform in his hand.
She finally rolled over, a hard thing to do with him on top of her, another totally awkward thing. "Get. Off," she said, trying to shove him off.
"Nope," he said, shaking his head and grabbing her wrists with cool, smooth hands. "Why didn'tcha spill about yer mutation, Cassy?"
She huffed. "Would it have made a difference?"
"Yeh. Would've tried t' recruit you 'stead of killin' you," he said.
"Do you really hate humans that much?" she asked. "Some of my best friends are humans."
"Yeh, well, they don' exac'ly put 'emselves in yer good graces by tryin' t' exterminate ya," he said.
Cassy stared up at him, watching his green eyes trying to figure out where her head was. She knew all he saw was the floor. Even her hair blended in. But of course he knew she was there, since he was sitting on her. Again, totally awkward. "Is your name really Toad?" she blurted out. Probably not, but it just struck her for a second. If it wasn't Toad, what was it?
"Not tellin' luv." He shook his head. "But if y' become visible, I might."
Cassy snorted. "You just want to see me naked."
"So y' are naked!" he said triumphantly.
"NO I'm not!" she said heatedly. "You think I'm naked so you want me to turn visible."
"So prove it," he said with a cheeky grin.
Toad watched, slightly fascinated, as first her eyes appeared, probably so he could get the full force of her glare. Then he saw her hair, fanned over the carpet. Next her whole face, with her mouth pinched into a grimace of disgust and a bright blush on her cheeks, and finally the rest of her body.
He had known that she wasn't naked; he could feel the fabric on her body. But she wasn't exactly decent, either. She wore a white undershirt and undergarments, and that was it. She wasn't hard on the eyes at all.
"My face is up here," Cassy snapped.
"I noticed, luv," he said, giving her an appreciative grin.
"Are you going to tell me your name, now?" she demanded.
Her mouth dropped open. "But you said that –"
"I said I might, pet."
"You liar," she said disgustedly. "Let me go."
"M' name is Toad," he said, frowning. He didn't like being called a liar. "It's m' real name."
"Your parents named you Toad?" she asked, a little surprised.
"No. Bloody idiot," he muttered. "Toad's m' mutant name."
"So what's your normal name?" she probed.
"Not tellin', luv." He paused. "What d'y' call y'self?" he asked, leaning toward her. "What's y'r mutant name?"
She blended back into the floor again, and all he could see was the pattern of the rug below him. "Chameleon," she said, becoming visible again. "Now let me go."
"Nope. Mags'll prob'ly want t' talk t' y'. Get y' t' join up wi'h us."
"The Brotherhood of Mutants."
Cassy muttered, "Brotherhood? Why not sisterhood? Or something generic?"
Toad rolled his eyes and started to yank her up from the floor. Much as he liked that position, Mystique would probably be done any time now.
"Look, seriously," Cassy said, struggling to her feet, and Toad got a look at her long, tanned legs. "I don't want to join some mutant team, and I really don't want to die. I want to go home and sleep. I'm not gonna tell anyone! I just –I just want you to let me go."
Toad tilted his head to the side, staring at her. "An' why should I?"
She stared at him. He still had a tight grip on her arm, which hurt. And it felt like he was ogling her, which he probably was. And her legs felt just about ready to give out from all the adrenaline, which was wearing off. "I don't know," she whispered. "Because maybe you're a nice guy, and should be friendly to his fellow mutants?" she tried. He raised an eyebrow and she hung her head, staring angrily at the floor. "Yeah, forget it."
"Weeellll…" he trailed off the word, looking at her suggestively. "Maybe we could make a trade."
Cassy's head snapped up. "I am not losing more clothes," she said. She had been labeled a prude during college, and she was proud of it. If she didn't have a ring on her finger, there would be nothing forthcoming. And she had never been in a serious relationship, much less married. There were some things you just couldn't ask of a girl, and this was one of them.
He looked affronted. "Like 'ell! I'm not some bloody perv, Cassy."
It depended on your definition of 'perv' but she relaxed a bit. "So?"
"I jus' want a kiss."
She blinked. "I kiss you, and you let me go?"
"Promise?" she asked.
He grinned. "Cross my 'eart and 'ope t' die."
Cassy sighed. "Okay," she said. It was a bit like the princess and the frog story, right? Kiss the frog and he'll go get your ball from the pond where you so stupidly dropped it. Or in her case, kiss the toad and he'll let you go. She took a step toward him.
His arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her against him. She squeaked.
"Wot, y' didn't think I was goin' t' settle f'r a peck on th' lips, did y' luv?" he asked.
She frowned at him, while he only grinned. But Cassy did bring her lips to his.
His lips were smooth and soft, and he was a good kisser. Oh, wow. She thought her mouth might be on fire. Or was that the rest of her? Her hands wandered over his shoulders and ran through his spiky green hair. His hands were in her hair, too, and she felt like her sensory glands were on overload. He did smell like a pond, and he was green, and he was doing something probably illegal, but boy was he a good kisser. But she was running out of air now.
She pulled back and her grateful lungs took in air. His green eyes sparkled. "Now, y' can' say y' didn' enjoy that, pet."
Cassy's cheeks burned. "Nope," she said, dropping her hands to her sides and backing up a step. "No effect. Sorry." She lifted her chin.
"Now 'oo's the liar?" Toad smirked. He threw her blue uniform at her. "G'on. Use the back door. There's a grouchy feral mutant guardin' the front."
She backed toward the direction of the stairs, staring at him warily. She didn't trust 'im. Toad could hardly blame 'er. Most people didn't trust terrorists. But he wasn't a liar. She was almost to the end of the hall before he said, "Mort."
She stopped and stared. "What?"
"M' name," he explained. "It's Mort. Mortimer Toynbee."
She nodded slowly. "Mort," she repeated. "Thank you."
He watched her until she disappeared around the bend in the hall. How the 'ell was he goin' t' explain all this t' Mystique?
Cassy had shrugged on her uniform and fished out her phone, calling Phoebe. "Hey, get Ben. We're leaving," she said when the girl picked up.
"Are we done?" Phoebe asked, surprised.
"No, but the FoH can deal with it. Tell you later. Oh, and Phoebe?" she said.
"Use the back door."
The call disconnected, and Cassy whispered, "Thanks, Mort," into the air before descending down the stairs.
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