Title: Virtual Embarassment
Disclaimer: I own my fantasies, nothing more.
Archive Rights: Diebin's Trailer Fic page
Dedication: To Vic and DevilDoll, who have corrupted me, but not nearly enough.
Summary: Response to Diebin's X2 Trailer Fic Challenge. An explanation of the scene showing a computer graphic of Xavier in his wheelchair.
Katherine Pryde read through the hundreds of thousands of lines of code yet again, searching for the error that kept stopping her CS 431 semester project. The problem might be something as insignificant as a misspelled parameter or a comma in the wrong place, making it as impossible to find as a needle in an acre of hay.
She'd tried running her project through an error checker, but the range the checker returned was still over half of the program. She'd attempted to find any large or obvious errors by manually scanning that range without success. Finally, she'd given up on shortcuts and was now reading through each line of code, translating it in her mind's eye and watching the program's progress in her head.
'There!,' Kitty thought. 'That figure should be 30, not 3. The two actions aren't looping enough times to create a valid result, forcing the if...then function that surrounds them to always return an error.'
Kitty felt a rush of euphoria as she corrected the mistake. Then, with a mix of anticipation and dread, she saved and ran the program again.
Her computer screen blackened for a second before the familiar, blue-outlined background appeared and the music began. The door on the screen opened right on cue, and the man entered, dressed exactly as she'd designed him.
Kitty couldn't help smiling as the man reached the bottom of the ramp and continued through his routine without the error message appearing. Her fix had worked. So far, the program was running perfectly.
"Knock on wood," Kitty said, releasing the mouse to rap on her computer desk.
In her time as a computer programming major, she'd adopted several superstitious habits. Despite never being a devoutly religious woman, she had complete faith in the power of luck when it came to computers. She also believed, in her more exhausted and frustrated moments, that the machines had lives and personalities of their own. For example, if asked during finals week two semesters ago, Kitty would've sworn that the computer located in the front, left-hand corner of the on-campus engineering lab was out to get her.
Right now, watching her program progress error-free on the screen, she was prepared to declare her undying love and devotion to her at-home computer system. She might have actually done it had their private moment gone uninterrupted.
"That's it, Kit," the always energetic Jubilee proclaimed, bursting into Kitty's private room. "Homework or no, I'm getting you out of this room if it kills us."
Kitty frantically pounded the computer keys, silently repeating, 'Cancel! Cancel program! Clear screen!' to herself.
She needn't have bothered. Moments before the program aborted and the screen returned to lines of code, Jubilee caught sight of a familiar figure dressed in a not-so-familiar ensemble.
"What the hell..." Jubilee started to say as Kitty's shaking voice interrupted, "Don't you know how to knock?"
"What?" Jubilee asked, shutting her eyes and shaking her head as if trying to rid her mind of the image she'd seen.
"I'm doing a highly sensitive school project here. If you'd barged in while I was coding, you could have ruined hours of hard work!"
Jubilee snorted in an effort to keep her sudden giggles down. "Highly sensitive?"
"Don't laugh, Jubes. This project is my entire semester grade in this class."
"What class is it? Ringling Brother's computer programming 101?"
"You saw it," Kitty said, her shoulders sagging in defeat.
"How could I miss it? Professor Xavier in a clown costume?" Jubilee's giggles broke free this time.
"Please don't tell anyone."
"Oh, this is golden. We've gotta get screen shots for the Christmas party."
"Jubes..." Kitty drew the name out into a three-syllable whine.
"Don't 'Jubes' me you're the one that made it. Can I see the rest?"
"Aw, c'mon. I've already seen Chuckles, the Clown."
"Why didja make it if you didn't want anyone to see it?"
"Professor Stewart suggested it."
"Professor Stewart told you to put a red nose and rainbow jacket on your mentor?"
"No. Not exactly." Kitty squirmed in her chair.
"She told us that a semester's a long time for one project, so we should make it fun in order to stay focused."
"Fun. Huh. I can see that. Why'd you pick Xavier, though?"
"She also told us to pick someone we knew, so we'd always have a three-dimensional model close by to refer to while animating."
"Makes sense. Sounds like you followed instructions well enough. Now, lemme see it."
"C'mon. I won't tell anyone if you let me see it."
"Honest. I'll pinkie swear."
"You won't tell anyone, not even give a little hint?"
"I pinkie promise that I won't tell another soul about the clownization of our distinguished Professor Xavier if you let me watch the whole show."
Jubilee crossed her heart with her right-hand pinkie and then held it out to Kitty. Kitty looked at it dubiously, then looked up at Jubilee's face before relenting.
"Ok," she said, hooking Jubilee's pinkie with one of her own. "Pinkie swear accepted.
"Great," Jubilee said, pulling a chair up next to Kitty and sitting down. "Lights, camera, action."
Kitty selected the "Run Program" option on the screen and sat back, her face blushing in embarrassment.
The screen went black, and then a living room set familiar to both of the girls appeared on the screen as music began to play. Jubilee's mouth dropped open and she fell back against her chair, dumb-struck.
The on-screen door opened and the blue drawing of Professor Xavier, dressed in a nice suit and sitting in his wheelchair, rolled in. The figure hit its mark as the singing began.
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?" "Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood?" Jubilee asked. "It has music, it's the right length, and it's already choreographed. That made it easier to imagine when I was coding."
"And the clown suit?"
The blue, wire image of Xavier leaned over, using both hands to pull one leg up and crossed over the opposite knee. Then, he removed the shoe on the crossed leg, tossed it into the air, caught it, and set it aside. The screen focused in on his smiling face as a red corner of what must be a replacement shoe quickly appeared and disappeared at the bottom of the screen. Then, the screen panned out to reveal Xavier from the calves up as he repeated the shoe procedure with his other leg.
After the shoes were replaced, Xavier removed his suit jacket and hung it up in a handicapped-accessible closet before the camera again focused in on his face while he selected and shrugged on a new jacket.
Finally, the screen pulled away to reveal Xavier wearing a rainbow-striped jacket and enormous, red clown shoes. As he finished the last part of the song, entreating everyone to be his neighbor, Xavier donned a red clown nose and tooted it twice in time with the music.
Jubilee laughed at the big ending, and Kitty's embarrassment gave way to a little bit of pride in her work.
"That was great, Kits. You really should share it."
"Jubes, you promised."
"Yeah, and I won't tell anyone, but I don't know why you're so worried. I think even Professor Xavier'd like the joke."
"Sure. It's not like he's doing anything all that embarrassing. Now, if it was Wolvie..."
Kitty's face turned beet red at the mention of Logan's nickname, and unfortunately for her, Jubilee saw it.
"Oh, what did you do?"
"What? Nothing," Kitty said, her cheeks getting even hotter.
"It's good, isn't it?" Jubilee asked, her voice rising in anticipation.
"I didn't do anything."
"C'mon," Jubilee said, reaching over Kitty to access the keyboard. "Let's see it."
"Jubes! Careful! You'll delete all my work."
Kitty hunched over her keyboard, trying to protect it from Jubilee, but the woman's hands were already on the keys.
"You show it to me, or I'm gonna keep pressing buttons."
"Ok, ok, just stop it."
"Ok." Jubilee agreed, pulling her hands away as Kitty sat up straighter.
Kitty's hand shook on the mouse as she opened the file manager and started the file she'd named, "logndncg." Then, she stood up, took a few steps, fell across her bed, and buried her face in the pillows, too embarrassed to watch.
The beginning chords of "Bad to the Bone" started and Kitty pulled one of her pillows over her head as Jubilee's laughing began. No matter what she did, though, she couldn't help seeing in her head what Jubilee was watching on the screen. It'd been her CS 430 project last semester: Logan in Chippendales' attire, stripping down to a g-string as "Bad to the Bone" played in the background.
Sure, it'd been a lot of fun to write, but she'd been mortified when Professor Stewart made everyone play their programs in front of the class on the last day of the semester. That's why this semester's project, although still fun, was a lot more subdued.
As the last notes played, Kitty cringed against her bedspread, waiting for Jubilee's laughter to die down long enough to say something.
"That looks nothin' like me," a voice much deeper than Jubilee's answered.
"Oh, I don't know, sugar. It's a pretty good likeness for a drawing."
Kitty sat bolt upright, looking in shock at Logan and Rogue sitting in front of the screen and Jubilee standing next to the open bedroom door.
"You pinkie promised!"
"About the clown thing, not this."
"Jubilee!" Kitty screamed, leaping off of her bed and chasing her still-laughing friend into the hallway.
Left behind, Logan clicked on the only other file in the open program folder, something called MrRClown.
When Professor Xavier rolled onto the screen singing, "Won't You be my Neighbor?" both he and Rogue broke into laughter.