author: Alex L
rating/genre: (R) - Drama/Angst
warnings: Het, language, adult situations, attempted rape
summary: Not all homecomings are happy ones. R for language, disturbing imagery, and references to attempted rape. Featuring Iceman, Wolverine, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, and Storm, as well as other favorites.
comments/disclaimers: While I don't own any of the characters (Marvel), this story is mine, mine.
Chapter Two: The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
Late summer turned into early fall in Westchester several weeks later. Scott Summers leaned against the windowsill, his second cup of coffee in hand. He was an early riser by nature, often leaving Jean to sleep in. As usual, he was drinking it just the way he liked it-black with plenty of sugar. Behind his ruby-quartz sunglasses, his eyes watched over the serenity of the grounds in front of his farm-style, white clapboard house. Fallen leaves of varying shades of orange, yellow, and red were strewn across the manicured lawn, providing a crisp contrast to the scenery. The sun shone brightly against the clear, blue sky during the morning hours. Yes, this was definitely his favorite time of year.
He was in the midst of contemplating taking Jean and Jubilee out for a hayride later that week when Jubilee sauntered into the living room. Scott was surprised since she was the antithesis to him when it came to sleeping habits, even loathing the idea of rising early. She greeted him with a small smile, carrying a dog-eared copy of 'Antigone' with her.
"You realize it's only eight-thirty," he teased, watching her head to the coat closet. He almost thought about checking her forehead to see if she was sick. "Where are you off to that you had to get up so early?"
She pulled a brown corduroy jacket over her olive-green, crew-neck sweater and low-riding cargo pants. "Very funny," she retorted lightly and then proceeded to explain. "This was on my reading list, but Dr. McCoy's copy is missing the last five pages and I have a report to work on that's due in two days. The Professor said I could borrow his copy, but that I would have to pick it up around breakfast since he's teaching physics."
Then her blue eyes sparkled mischievously. "Cook is also making strawberry pancakes and I want first dibs before Dr. McCoy and Drake get there." Both were notoriously for the bottomless pits otherwise known as their stomachs.
Scott grinned and then finished the rest of his coffee. "Then you'd better run over right now. Those two don't show mercy when it comes to strawberry pancakes."
She studied the chiseled features of the man she now considered her father figure. When Logan was still at the mansion, he would make sure she rarely spent any time with Scott. He was very clear that he did not like the man. He often talked about how stiff and bossy the man was and gave him nicknames that he often used to his face, such as 'One-Eye'. According to him, there was no one more uptight in the world than Mr. Scott Summers. At the time, Jubilee thought it was just her Wolvie being funny. There were even times when she believed what she was hearing.
After Logan left, however, Jubilee discovered that while Scott was rigid and authoritative, he only acted that way because he felt responsible for the well-being and safety of everyone around him. She also observed his carefree side. Granted, he only showed this to herself and Jean when they were at home together. But still, who knew that Scott Summers was secretly addicted to reality television? Last year, he and Jubilee had their own 'Survivor' finale part at the house while Jean was away at a conference. She was also surprised to find out that while he could never compete with Drake as a stand-up comedian, Scott did have a dry wit that was all his own. Since then, the two of them would exchange good-natured barbs back and forth.
If you only got to know him, you'd see he's a good man and that you two might have more in common than you think, she wanted to say to Logan now. Her hand gripped the knob of the front door as she asked, "Would you like to come?"
Scott shook his head. "No, but thanks. As soon as Jean gets up, we're going to head to the mall to buy a new VCR." He raised a brow at the teenager, who suddenly blushed.
Jubilee smiled sheepishly. She was trying to tape her favorite soap opera last week and fired a spark into the machine on accident. As a result, the VCR was rendered useless. "Sorry about that again. I guess I should pay attention when setting the timer, huh?"
"Obviously," he agreed, reaching over to pat her shoulder. "We'll probably be back by early afternoon. Do you have your keys in case we're not around?"
She nodded, opening the door to leave. "In my pocket," she informed him proudly. When she first moved in with Scott and Jean, she misplaced her keys almost every other week. Scott had suggested to have them surgically grafted into her hand should she lose them again. Jubilee learned quickly to keep track of the house keys after that.
"Okay, then. Well, we'll see you later."
"See ya, Scott." She paused in the doorway and without thinking; she darted to him and gave him a brief hug. Then she pulled away and left the house, not saying another word.
Scott stared after her, a mixture of astonishment and fondness seeping across his face. From the window, he watched her walk across the lawn in order to reach the mansion. Then he remembered that he had forgotten to ask Jubilee about the hayride. He opened the front door to call out to her. He stopped himself when he saw something familiar on his doorstep. Kneeling down, Scott made a closer inspection.
There was a cigar, surrounded by fresh ash, lying on the doorstep. It appeared as if the owner had furiously stomped it out, leaving black soot marks on the concrete. Scott's mouth set itself in a grim line. He knew all too well who had been here.
Ororo Munroe placed her hands on her slim waist, surveying the scene before her. She was in her private sanctuary, otherwise known as her greenhouse. Unlike Scott and Jean, she had chosen to remain at the main house with the others. While she enjoyed the company of her friends and the children, there were times she yearned for some quiet time. This was it. Every morning before breakfast, she checked on her "lovelies", as she called them to see how they did during the night, if they needed water or fertilizer, or simply needed to be pruned. She was pleased to see that all of her plants, particularly the new lilies she had just purchased, were doing well.
She was about to change the pot for one of her ferns when she saw Jubilee walking by. The young girl waved to her before continuing her pace towards the mansion. Ororo smiled, tucking a locking of silvery-white hair behind her ear. Like Jean, she had taken on the role of a second mother to the young girl, especially after she had returned home from her ordeal. Ororo had spent many hours with the recovering Jubilee, helping her with her physical therapy and teaching her how to meditate. Despite the fact that Jubilee had moved out of the mansion, the two continued to spend time together to talk. It was wonderful to see that the child had made so much progress.
Like Scott, Ororo was furious when Logan left to "go find himself", as the Professor put it. She was aware of what kind of role the self-professed loner and cynic had in the girl's life. He was her father figure, her hero. The two spent a great deal of time together, whether it was on assignments or for travel. His protectiveness, while overbearing at times, had made the young girl feel loved and cared for. When he departed, Jubilee became despondent and consequently blamed herself for being a burden on him. Ororo remembered the many afternoons she had spent, comforting a sobbing Jubilee over Logan's absence.
The weather goddess's features became alert when she felt someone else's presence in the greenhouse with her. The person's gaze was practically searing a hole into her back. She could already sense that the person was not hostile, so she kept her own defenses at bay as she turned around.
Her facial expression quickly switched from surprise to wariness. "You're home," she finally said flatly.
"That's a welcome?"
"You're lucky you're not being tossed around in hurricane winds."
Even though he had been away for a couple of years, Logan's physical appearance failed to reflect any aging process. To Ororo, he looked pretty much the same as he did before leaving. His thick, dark hair was still shaped into those two trademark points on either side of his head. Thick sideburns framed his face, accentuating the perpetual five-o'clock shadow he sported. While he was not as tall as Warren or Piotr, Logan was still a foreboding presence physically. She could tell that he had kept some sort of exercise regimen during his time away from the mansion. His body maintained the same sleek, muscular tone she and the other women had admired during Danger Room sessions when he first arrived. Wearing a weathered leather jacket over a red flannel shirt, gray T-shirt, and dark jeans with boots, Logan continued to project the image of the resident rebel.
Ororo was able to notice something amiss in her former teammate. He looked even more bitter than usual. He finally paused in his steps and leaned against one of the tables where she kept her African violets. At first, he was unable to meet her gaze, keeping his green eyes on the ground. Then his head snapped up, green eyes narrowed.
"Guess I deserve that one," he finally said, meeting the stare of the weather goddess. She was as striking as ever, her long, white hair rippling down to her waist, providing a contrast against her clear, coffee- colored skin. The flame-patterned, fitted dress she wore showed off her small, lithe figure. As usual, she wore very little make-up, which only serve to highlight her exotic features.
She decided not to respond to that. Instead, she asked, "Where have you been?"
"Back to Alberta for a little bit to sort things out in my head," he replied, grimacing. "Wanted to see if I could find out more about what happened to me all those years ago. I thought if I did, then those nightmares would stop."
"Were you able to find anything?" Her tone became softer.
Logan shrugged. "Just more loose ends and questions." He wasn't in the mood to say anything more than that. The leads the Professor had come up with did lead Logan to a military facility in Canada. Unfortunately, the complex appeared to have been abandoned for some time. He had searched in vain for records-anything that would have pieced together those missing years of his life. Apparently, someone had prepared for such an event. Any documented records of what transpired there were nowhere to be found.
Frustrated and bitter with being thwarted in his search for the truth, Logan retreated to the wilderness of Alberta. There, he spent the following years in solitude, getting in touch with his surroundings to make peace with his inner demons. Just as he tried before, there was no escaping the nightmares, the fragmented memories that would suddenly appear, and the sense of helplessness he felt from not knowing his past. While he contemplated returning to the mansion during his time away, he was not sure if it would have done much good. His yearning for finding out more about those missing years would have been an impediment to focusing on missions and on teaching the children.
Yet, there was something that was always calling him back. It was not the Professor using his telepathy. Rather, it was a combination of things. He was beginning to miss going out on missions with the others, taking out his pent-up aggressions physically. While he refused to admit it, he also longed to be affiliated with the group again, as much as some of them (One- Eyed, Popsicle, and the Cajun) grated on his nerves.
There was also Jean-beautiful, intelligent, kind, and empathetic Jean. Despite the fact she married Scott, Logan still felt just as strongly about her as he did the first time they met. She had been another reason he had left the mansion so abruptly. Watching her and One-Eyed play happy couple was almost too much for him to stomach. He hated himself for being in love with someone could never return his feelings. He hated himself even more for not taking initiative to convince her otherwise. His honor and his love for her restrained him from sharing the intensity of his feelings.
While he was away, Logan had his share of female companionship. There were countless redheads he had met on the road and taken back to his cabin. None of the women could ever come close to replacing what he wanted most back in Westchester. So, he tried to make do with what he had and forced his mind to create his fantasy. Still, it was not good enough. Intertwined with the dreams of the missing years of his life were ones that centered on Jean. In them, she returned his love freely. These dreams were so intense that he had to convince himself they were only that once he awoke alone.
Jubilee. The girl he considered his protégée and his daughter; the girl he swore to protect and take care of. Logan had wanted to tell her that he was going away to keep her safe. He felt he had failed her when she was kidnapped and tortured by Bastion. Blaming himself for what had happened, he had tried to find the bastard and his minions to make them for they did to her. In his own mind, he believed that tearing those animals apart could make up for his inability to protect her. When he finally reached Bastion's base of operations, he was disheartened to find it had been destroyed before he arrived. As he stood over the ashes of the complex, he could not keep himself from thinking he had failed the girl.
It was following that incident his nightmares became more intense and frequent. He was seeking help from the Professor during private sessions, but even with that, they were still pervasive. Soon, it got to the point where they were affecting his functioning while he was awake. He was irritable and tense, more so than usual. During a Danger Room session with Hank, he experienced visual hallucinations and delusions that he was being hunted by other people who wanted to hurt him. Had it not been for Jean and Rogue, he would have torn his friend and teammate into pieces.
Ororo crossed her arms over her chest, studying the bitterness etched into the man's face. As usual, he was being his laconic self. While she was no telepath, she could sense something was bothering him. Was it guilt for leaving the child? Was it his unrequited love for Jean? Did he need help from the Professor? She wanted to ask these questions, but was not sure how her teammate would react. She decided to start with a general inquiry.
"So what brings you back?"
He raised a brow at her. If she were Scott or Warren, he would not have hesitated to unsheathe his claws. "Got bored of the country," he replied gruffly. He could already tell from her frown that she knew he was lying. Inwardly, he sighed. Ororo would not stop prying until she got the answers she wanted. He considered backtracking out of the greenhouse, but figured that she would summon a windstorm to keep him with her.
"Guess everyone's doing fine without me," he finally said, not bothering to hide his bitterness. He wasn't sure if he was referring to the happy Mrs. Summers or the young girl who had moved on without him.
Ororo was not going to give him her sympathy-at least, not yet. "What makes you say that?"
He did not answer her question. Instead, he asked, "Any chance Jeannie's having marital problems?"
The weather goddess was uncertain as to whether or not Logan was joking. He did not smile, but there was a great deal of sarcasm in his voice. She always thought he continued to carry a torch for her.
"No, Scott and Jean are quite happy together. He's a good husband to her."
"Jean isn't the one he's playing house with. Looks like he wants to play Daddy Dearest with the kid." Logan snorted.
Ororo raised a perfectly tweezed brow at him. She was aware of Logan's animosity and jealousy towards her old friend. However, she only thought these involved romantic feelings toward Jean Grey. She never expected he would be just as hostile about Jubilee.
She sniffed indignantly. "He's been a great source of support. Given what the child has been through, I would think you would commend him for that."
Logan winced. While he realized she had a point, the scene that unfolded before him this morning was too much for him. He had come to the Summers' house in the hopes of seeing Jean. Wanting to surprise her, he had parked his Harley in the garage and walked to the home. He paused in front of the door to peer inside. Instead of the redhead, he saw Jubilee, grown up and quite beautiful, talking with One-Eyed. He could not hear what they were saying, but he was hoping she was giving the tight-ass a smart line or two. However, his hopes were dashed when she quickly reached over and hugged the other man. Shocked and bewildered, Logan dashed to the other side of the house when he heard her open the door.
Again, he knew that Ororo was right. The child deserved to have some stability in her life. As much as he hated to admit it, Scott Summers was the perfect person to provide that and loving support. There was even a small part of Logan that was pleased that the man he disliked so strongly was looking after Jubilee. Still, he could not help but feel somewhat slighted that he was replaced so easily. He wanted to believe that he was the only one who received those bright smiles and warm hugs from the young girl.
Ororo could sense he was upset. Despite how savage and wild many thought he was, there was a tender side to him that he rarely revealed. She often observed this whenever he was around the child. The road trips, the inside- jokes, the glances of adoration from her all testified to the bond the two had shared.
"Logan, she misses you a great deal." She paused for a moment and then asked, "Does she know you're here?"
"No, not yet. The only person who probably knows is Chuck." He had not called or checked in personally with the Professor, but was sure the powerful psychic could detect he was here.
"Then what are you waiting for you? I'm sure Jubilee will be very happy to see you."
"She doesn't need me anymore, Storm. I'm aware of that now." The scene of his Jubilee throwing her arms around that nerd with the sunglasses made him spat in disgust.
"There's no one who could ever take your place. Not in her eyes, at least. I mean, you two are very close."
"Were close," he corrected, his face grim.
"That's ridiculous, Logan. I'm sure she would say the same."
He grunted in response, slumping his shoulder slightly. "I wouldn't blame her if she felt differently." He remembered how she had begged him to stay those many years ago. It took all the strength he had that day to turn away her tearful face so that he could leave.
The corners of Ororo's mouth lifted into a gentle smile. "Children are very forgiving; Jubilee, most of all. While Bastion did a great deal of harm towards her, she has learned to move on with her life and let go of her anger and rage. What makes what you did any more different and damaging?"
He turned away from the weather goddess. "I left her alone. I should have never done that. I promised to take care of her."
"But you're back now. If you talk to her and tell her why you've been gone, she'll understand. Trust me. I've spent quite a bit of time with her." She began to edge closer to the tormented soul in her greenhouse.
Logan was not convinced. "I really hurt her," he said softly, his eyes on the ground. "She deserves better than me. You know, someone who doesn't run, who isn't a danger to her and other people." He stopped short of saying that Scott Summers would fit the bill.
The white-haired woman with the smooth, toffee-colored complexion placed a slim hand on his shoulder. Ororo was surprised that he would allow her to touch him so easily. He almost always flinched when other people besides Jean or Jubilee would do so. She peered into his lost eyes with her calm ones. In her most serene tone, the weather goddess replied, "You are that person, Logan."
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