Prince Logan and the Ballerina,
or, Tutus Are a Girl's Best Friend

Title:  Prince Logan and the Ballerina, or, Tutus are a Girl's Best Friend
Author:  Terri
Rating:  PG
Disclaimer:  I don't own any of them.  Rats.
Archive:  WRFA, Mutual Admiration, Dolphin Haven Peep Hut - anyone else, please ask and I'll happily provide :)
Feedback:  Please?  With a fluffy pink tutu on top?  Good, bad, and ugly welcome.
Summary:  There's been a little accident in the danger room, and Logan and Hank are left to deal with pre-school X-Men.  Logan copes through dance supplies.
Comments:  This was written in response to Allison's bunny, Leon de Ponce, who was also fed big carrots and encouraged by sweety ;)  As usual, it didn't go quite like Allison planned, but I hope she's happy with it.  It's a foofy one, as you can tell from the title, and it's unbetaed and written on my lunch hour, so don't take it too seriously ;)


"Logan?"  Logan winced at the tiny voice that wafted to his ears from somewhere behind him.  God, when would this nightmare be over?  All the people at the mansion already thought he was enough of a pedophile as it was, hooking up with barely-eighteen Marie.  "I haffa go to the baffroom."

Logan heaved a sigh and reluctantly turned to face the four-year-old girl behind him.  Thanks to some fluke accident during a training session, half the X-men had been turned into pre-school versions of themselves, Marie included.  Hank swore he almost had a way to reverse the effects, but that's what he'd been saying for that past three days, ever since it had happened.  "OK, kid, you go on ahead.  Bathroom's free." 

Mini-Marie didn't move; she just leaned against the door frame and looked down at the floor as her tutu made crunching noises protesting its compression on one side.   She'd asked for a tutu right off, as soon as she'd been turned into a four-year-old.  Apparently, she'd always wanted one as a child, but had never actually managed to convince her parents to buy her one or to spring for ballet lessons.  Of course, Logan got her a tutu right away.  "Can Jean come wif me?"  Just as Marie finished, a wisp of red hair could be seen from behind Marie. 

"Yeah, sure."  Jean's head popped into view over Marie's shoulder.  All the X-toddlers were afraid of Logan, except for Marie, and Jean was especially wary.  He was always frowning and he was loud, the two things that mini-Jean liked the least. 

Logan watched as both girls bounced into his bathroom, shutting the door behind them.  Logan had instructed Mini-Marie to either remain in his room, the hallway, or in his sight at all times.  She might be an ass-kicking X-Man at eighteen, but she was as defenseless as a kitten at four.  He couldn't risk anything happening to her; he had to make sure he kept her safe and in one piece until Hank could get this figured out and give him back his grown-up Marie.

He heard giggling, then repeated toilet-flushing from behind his bathroom door and heaved another sigh.    It had been bad enough that he'd had to give mini-Marie a bath last night, he wasn't about to interrupt whatever she was doing in there now.  None of the X-Women had escaped the experiment's results, and Logan wasn't about to let any of the other X-Men still standing - Hank, St. John, and Bobby - see Marie naked, even if she was only four.  He'd almost swallowed his tongue when mini-Scott demanded to know why he couldn't take a bath with his friend Marie.  Logan prayed to whatever Gods might be listening that Hank would find a solution soon. 

At length, the girls emerged from Logan's bathroom, holding hands.  "We're gonna play in the yard, OK?" Marie asked hopefully.

"No, Marie, that's not OK.  It's dark out, and it's almost your bedtime.  Say goodnight to Jeannie there and I'll put ya to sleep." 

Mini-Marie made a pouty face and kicked at the floor with her little ballerina shoes.  "But I wanna play.  I'm not tired."

Before Logan could respond, Hank's voice began ringing in the hallway.  "Jean?  Jean where are you?  Oh, for goodness sakes, I certainly hope you are not hiding in one of the closets again.  Jean?"  It was Hank's usual nighttime ritual, rounding up all of the X-toddlers for bed.  Logan covered Marie; Hank covered the rest of them.  Now that he thought about it, Logan reasoned that perhaps that was why Hank wasn't making such speedy progress toward a solution.  "Ah, Jean, there you are."  Hank came to a halt in Logan's doorway, looking exhausted.  "It is time for bed."

"I'm not tiwed eithoo."  Jean copied Marie's kicking motion.  She'd asked for a 'booty qween dwess and tall shoes, makeup too' upon being de-aged.  Hank had refused at first, but endless screaming and pouting and fits had changed his mind.  Jean now looked like a disheveled, tiny Miss America, indignantly protesting her fate.  All that was missing was a crown.  Whoa, Logan thought, better not give her any ideas. 

"It is time for bed, whether you are tired or not," Hank reasoned, striding into the room and picking her up. 

"But Ha-a-a-a-a-nk!  I don' wanna go bed!"  She squirmed in his strong arms, just enough to make her point. 

"It is time," Hank repeated wearily.  "Your friend Marie will be going to bed too, isn't that right, Logan?"

"Yep," Logan confirmed, picking up mini-Marie and giving silent thanks that he wouldn't have to try to excavate a pound of play make-up from her face before he could put her in bed, like Hank would shortly have to do with mini-Jean.

"Fine," Jean pouted, crossing her arms while Hank supported her by her bottom.  "But I wanna song foost.  And a stowwy.  And another song."  Hank sighed, nodding to Logan and taking his small charge out of Logan's room and down the hall.  "And a good stowwy this time, no science stowwies, got it?  And I wanna soft bankie.  And I wanna."

"OK, your turn, kid." Logan turned his attention on mini-Marie as they drifted out of earshot.  "Let's get you into bed."

"Do I need a baff?"

"Not tonight, kiddo, you're clean enough."  Logan reached down to grab her and stand her up on his bed.  "Gotta take the tutu off, though."  He gently tugged it down and Marie obligingly stepped out of it. 

"Shoes too?"

"Yep, the shoes gotta go too.  You can sleep in your leotard if you wanna, OK?"

"OK," Marie said happily as she plopped herself down butt-first on the bed with a bounce, and extended one small foot to Logan.  "Can I ax you a question?"

"Uh-huh."  Damn, Logan thought, she knotted these sash thingies that tie the shoe to her feet all to hell.  He was tempted to just use the claws, but he knew how much Marie liked the shoes. 

"You 'member how you said I usedta be big, like you?"

"Uh-huh."  Logan was making slow but steady progress; he didn't remove his eyes from the knots. 

"Was I pretty?"

"Very pretty."  That got a beaming smile from mini-Marie, one Logan glanced up for, then returned his own, more reserved, version of.  "Other foot."

"Good.  'Cause Jean said you haffa be pretty to get a prince to marry you."

"Aw, don't listen too much to what Jeannie thinks, huh?  She's got a coupla strange ideas 'bout things."  Logan finished with the last knot and gave the shoe a tug, finally freeing Marie's feet. 

"But - but I wanna marry a prince," Marie said sincerely, with wide brown eyes.  Logan paused, looking at her with a soft smile.  "Jean said princes are smart and strong and always in charge of things and brave and handsome."  Logan didn't know how to respond to all that.  He didn't think he quite fit that description.  "You know," mini-Marie prompted, "you're a prince.  Aren't you?"

Logan's eyes felt unexpectedly hot.  He couldn't resist resting a large hand in her mass of brown fuzzy curls and leaning forward to kiss her on the forehead.  That was possibly the only good thing to come out of all this - as they de-aged, none of the X-Men retained their mutation.  Logan was grateful for the chance to know what Marie's skin felt like without having to worry about her dying while he basked in the touch.  He lingered a moment, then let her go.  "Well, I'm no prince, but I guess you always thought I was OK."

Marie's eyes became playful.  "You're teasing, aren't you?  You're a prince, you are."  Her mood abruptly shifted after the words were out.  Her lips fell into a frown and her eyebrows crinkled.  Uh-oh, Logan thought, those Marie-upsettedness indicators haven't changed.  "But - but if you're really not a prince, then I can't marry you when I'm all growed up."

"Aw, kid, don't worry too much 'bout that, huh?"

"But I wanna marry *you*."  She crossed her little arms and her bottom lip began to quiver.  "Fine.  Fine.  Fine, then.  If you're not a prince, then I'm not gonna marry one.  I don't care what Jean says or what all the other princesses do.  I'm gonna marry whoever I wanna when I get big, and I wanna marry you."

Logan couldn't suppress a chuckle at her expressions as she reasoned it through and determinedly settled on a conclusion.  It seemed that Marie's independent streak started young.  "Sounds like a good plan to me.  You ready for bed now?" 

Mini-Marie nodded, seemingly happy with Logan's approval.  She scooted under the covers as Logan held them up for her, then waited for him to shuffle off his boots and climb into bed with her.  As was usual for both big and mini-Marie, she immediately pressed herself to his side, her head resting over his heart, as soon as he was aboard.  Logan knew that before long, her other invariable sleep trait - drooling - would make itself known.  He wound his arms around her, and rubbed her back until she drifted off into sleep. 

"Are you sure?"

"I am absolutely, positively, without a fraction of a doubt, certain."

"Does that mean yes?" Logan asked, just for good measure. 

"Yes," Hank replied without hesitation.  He had checked, double-checked, and triple-checked every calculation.  He was sure they could reverse the effect.  Hank was perhaps in a bigger hurry than anyone to return his tiny charges to their adult states, as the glob of oatmeal still clinging to his chest after trying to feed Remy something less than an omelette and croissants for breakfast would attest, but the safety of his teammates still came first.  Even for those among them who still seemed to think they were team leader even though they were only four and who incessantly ordered everyone around accordingly, Hank noted with some irritation.  He hadn't appreciated Scott's attempts to 'supervise' his breakfast-making.

"OK, then," Logan acceded.  The tiny X-Men had been gathered in the danger room, the site of the accident.  A rogue burst of energy had de-aged them; Hank had now found the correct application of energy that would return them to normal.  All they had to do was get the kids to stay in the room for approximately a minute or so while the energy burst was applied. 

Hank herded the X-toddlers into the center of the room, asking them to play normally while he went about a task.  He didn't want to alarm them.  Mini-Marie, however clung to Logan's leg, afraid.  "I don't wanna play.  I wanna go back to our room now."

"It's gonna be OK, honey, you just play and then you'll be all back to normal before you know it."  Mini-Marie vehemently shook her head, hair flinging in all directions.  Hank caught sight of her protest, and made himself busy distracting the other kids until Logan could calm her.  All he needed now was a gaggle of screaming four-year-olds.  "Marie," Logan bent down to hug her and tried again, "you know I wouldn't letcha get hurt.  Nothin' bad's gonna happen.  You go play, and in a coupla minutes, you'll be big again, OK?"

"No, it's not OK," Marie answered.  "You look worried.  I wanna stay wif you."

"Aw, honey, I'm just a little nervous is all.  Hank knows what he's doin'."  Logan looked into her doubting brown eyes, trying to convey the truth of his words.  Marie kept frowning, but seemed to calm a little. 

"Can you hold my hand while I play?"

"No, honey, I can't.  I hafta go in the other room with Hank."  Big, wet, tears began to fall at that, and Logan felt his own heart ache a little.  "It's gonna be fine.  I'm gonna be watchin' ya the whole time to make extra sure nothin' bad happens.  And look - see that window over there?  You'll be able to see me too, OK?"

"No, it's not OK," Marie repeated, hugging herself to him.  "I don't wanna.  I'm scared."

Logan gave her a firm hug back and tried to keep his own emotions out of his voice.  "Don't be.  I'm gonna watch over ya and protect ya, like always.  Be brave, Marie, everythin' will be all right."

"You promise?" she asked, blinking away the tears. 

"I promise.  OK?"

"OK," Marie finally agreed, parting from Logan and walking toward her oblivious playmates on shaky legs.  Hank left the group after Marie was seated next to Scott, who was absorbed in building a tower with his blocks, and in instructing an uninterested Remy on what to do with his.  Marie kept casting worried glances back at Logan, but they went unnoticed by the other kids. 

As Hank joined Logan and ushered him into the anteroom, Logan gave him a look that prompted the urge to quadruple-check his calculations; it was a look that left no room for doubt as to what the consequences for being wrong would be.  But Hank trusted his abilities and the results of his repeated checks, and he wanted his teammates to come through this safe, as much as Logan did.  Once they were both inside, and Logan was positioned at the window where Marie could see him, Hank flipped the switch that sent the bright burst of energy rumbling through the danger room. 

The kids were bathed in a blinding bright light for several long moments.  Logan immediately began kicking himself for not explaining the details of what would happen to Marie - she might be scared now that the light obstructed her view of Logan.  He ground his teeth together, waiting for Hank to cut the energy burst.  The few seconds it took seemed like an eternity, but finally, Hank flipped the switch again. 

Logan blinked once, then again, to clear the burning light from his eyes.  To his great relief, it looked like it worked - he saw a mass of appreciably larger bodies in the center of the danger room.  A moment later, a blur of thick, wavy brown hair accented by striking white curls popped up above the mass.  "Marie," Logan breathed in relief, already heading for the door.  He ran to meet her as she stood, pulling her into his arms and hanging on tight.  She was back, he had his Marie back. 

"So you weren't scared?"  Logan and Marie had spent most of the day avoiding the topic of her reversion to toddlerhood; Marie needed rest, and Logan wasn't sure what she'd think of all that had happened while she was younger.  He didn't know if he'd taken care of her all right or if she'd feel weird about him bathing her, dressing her, and, well, buying her a tutu.  But now, as they readied for bed, Logan began probing Marie with a few questions.  She didn't seem displeased, just amused.  Logan didn't know what to make of that.

"A little, but it was over fast, and I trusted you when you said you wouldn't let me get hurt."  Marie scooted a little closer to Logan as he joined her in bed, each facing the other. 

"So you remember, ah, everythin' that happened, then?"  Marie nodded.  Logan fidgeted for a while before asking the next question.  "I did OK, huh?  I took care of ya OK?"

Marie's lips broke into a wide smile.  She fished for his large paw of a hand beneath the covers, bringing it to her lips for a soft kiss.  "You did very well, my prince," she whispered playfully, before releasing him.  That earned her a smile from him as well. 

"It was kinda weird," he admitted in relief. 

"Kind of.  But you were very good with me.  It must've been hard for you."

"Well, I missed the grown up you, you know, but the little you was kinda fun to hang out with.  I never knew there was such a thing as ballerina shoes, and I wasn't exactly sure what a tutu was before.  And I had a lotta fun at that tea party, to tell ya the truth."  He'd been joking, but now Marie looked sad.  "Marie?"

"Sorry. Sorry.  It's just that - you bought me a tutu."  The watery smile on her face wasn't any more helpful to Logan in deciphering what she was feeling than her words had been. 

"Yeah," he answered slowly, "you said you wanted one.  Didn't you wanna have one?"

"Very much," Marie sniffled.  "But you went right out, found a little girls' dance store - a little girls' dance store, of all things, and bought me a tutu and shoes and a pink leotard."

"Uh-huh," Logan responded.  "You picked 'em all out," he argued, feeling very lost now. 

"Exactly.  You even let me pick them out.  That was - I think that was the nicest thing you've ever done for me."  Logan's eyes widened at that.  "Not that saving my life wasn't a wonderful thing," Marie clarified, "but I think that's the sweetest thing you've ever done for me."  Logan finally relaxed at that, his hazel eyes turning soft.  "See?  You *are* a prince."

"You deserve one darlin', but I'm not exactly it."  He reached for her, pulling her close, and she obliged, laying her head on his chest.  "I'm definitely gettin' the better end of this deal, what with the spiffy ballerina I got."  Marie's body shook with laughter. 

"So I wasn't too much of a pain to you then?"

"Nah.  And you know what?  You drooled a lot less as a little kid."  Marie swatted at his chest.  "What?  It's true."

"Mmmm.  Well, I guess I can only hope that my other qualities make up for the excessive drooling."

"No worries there," Logan responded, snuggling into her and mingling his legs with hers.  "Hey, Marie?  If this ever happens again, I'll buy ya as many tutus as you want, OK?"

"Deal, Prince Logan," she purred, drifting off into a contented sleep. 

"Deal, ballerina princess Marie," he answered, long after sleep had claimed her. 

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