saga/title/fandom: Homecomings

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 Three: Come Together

The later afternoon found Bobby Drake and his old friend, Dr. Hank McCoy, together in the doorway of the main living room of the mansion. While Bobby was the active prankster, the good doctor was usually nearby to enjoy the humorous outcome. Sometimes, Hank would even help his young friend, which seemed to fly in the face of the fašade he projected as the mature, highbrow scientist.

The two had passed by one of the recreation rooms after teaching classes (for Bobby, it was Algebra; for Hank, photography and chemistry--separate) that day when they saw two figures curled up on the couch in front of the television. Upon closer inspection, the individuals were identified as Bishop and Lockheed. Both were sound asleep. Exchanging mischievous looks, Bobby and Hank immediately knew what they had to do. The two friends were trying not to giggle as they snapped a picture of the brawny time traveler and small, pink dragon curled up together like two puppies.

"This is gonna be great," said Bobby eagerly, but keeping his voice low as not to disturb the much larger and stronger Bishop. "It's going in the photo album with that picture of Sam Guthrie when he bent over and his ass crack was showing, and the one where Kurt put a straw up his nose when he thought no one was looking."

"What about the one where Scott fell asleep on the Blackbird and drool was running out the corner of his mouth?" Hank asked, furrowing his blue, furry brows.

"Oh yeah, that was great! And what about the one where Gambit was checking out his own butt in the mirror?"

Hank laughed. "Now that was priceless! The best one was that one of you when you thought no one was looking and you put that mop on your head so you could pretend you had dreadlocks." He suddenly realized Bobby wasn't laughing. "Oops, I guess I forgot to tell you about that one."

"No problem," Bobby replied. "I have video of you singing Anne Murray songs in the shower."

"All right, I won't show anyone that picture of you."

The two friends were grinning as they left. They walked into the living room, which had recently been redecorated by Betsy. The theme in this space definitely reflected the Englishwoman's tastes. There was a palette of muted jewel tones-teal and amethyst, plum and garnet, loden and amber- colored mohair plaids and velvet paisleys, fringed tattersalls and Harris tweeds, borrowed from her favorite hacking jackets and warmest carriage blankets. A selection of oversized photography books was stacked on a side table, while a leather ottoman was used as a resting place holding a tray set with a teapot and two cups on antique saucers. Timeworn velvets, faded damasks and vintage leathers, which took their cues from the walls' antique patina to create a well-worn setting, accented the room's well-worn plank floors. Located in the room were a well-worn leather sofa and corduroy chairs with pillows of shearing, mohair, and luxe touches of coyote, taken from her country home. Across the generous library table crowned with an abundant spray of pussy willows, was a clubby sofa in a tone-on-tone loden stripe mixes tweedy pillows with a glamorous coyote throw. The room was finished off by the curves of intimately scaled leather chairs, emphasized by nailhead trim.

While the room complimented the other main rooms in the house, Bobby was still impressed that the Professor even agreed to allow Betsy to go through with it. He remembered the time he had proposed putting up his 'Animal House' and 'Blues Brothers' movie posters up in the recreation room. Immediately, he began to experience a sharp, piercing headache. No doubt the Professor had something to do with it.

Hank wanted to find the most recent issue of 'American Photo' magazine. He was going to use one of the articles in his next photography lecture. There had been an interesting portfolio by the late Herb Ritz, which made use of sienna-colored tints to celebrity portraits.

Meanwhile, Bobby waited for his friend to finish his search by the French windows. The young man stared out at the vast backyard of the property, which was cluttered with leaves in varying shades of red, gold, and orange. Brightly shining overhead was the autumn sun, contrasting against the crisp, blue sky. He admired the picturesque landscape before him. There was nothing better than fall in Westchester. He then thought about asking a group of people from the mansion as to whether they were interested in going on a hayride through the town. It had been a yearly tradition with him, Hank, and Rogue before he left to care for his father.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw flowing raven hair with midnight blue streaks. He recognized the tresses belonging to Jubilee, who was strolling through the backyard away from the mansion, but not towards the home she shared with Scott and Jean. Instead, she seemed to be venturing in the direction of the lake nearby. She looked lost in her own thoughts, unaware that she was being watched. While the expression on her face was one of thoughtfulness, it was quite enigmatic at the same time.

Bobby suddenly felt the urge to follow the young girl. He turned to Hank and said, "Listen, I'll catch up with you at dinner, OK?"

Hank had found the issue and was now thumbing through it to find his article. His eyes were scanning the table of contents. "That sounds fine, Bobby. I will most certainly save you a seat," he replied absent-mindedly.

"Thanks, Hank." Bobby called over his shoulder and darting out of the house. Jubilee was already several yards ahead of him. She looked as if she were heading to the dock by the lake. This struck him as strange since the canoes, kayaks, and pontoons were primarily kept in the boathouse, which was on the other side of the lake. Despite the scenic, autumnal conditions, it was still too cold to swim in the lake's waters. Curious, Bobby continued to follow her down the stone path to the dock.

Jubilee found her way to the edge of the dock, where she finally sat down. She smiled faintly as she felt the cool breeze brush against her cheeks. There was something that was off today. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. Classes were long and boring as usual. The Professor was not in alert mode when there was a mission to be dealt with.

What gave it away that something was amiss? Scott seemed desperate to have a word with her alone after he and Jean got up. It turned out that they decided to skip the mall that day. However, he was sidetracked when he was asked to take a group of children into town for a field trip. Ms. Munroe, who was supposed to go, was uncharacteristically mysterious, informing the Professor and the others that she had some "things" to take care of at the last minute. As for her, Jubilee did not see her all day after passing by the greenhouse, which was strange. Usually, the weather goddess would stop by one of her classes to check up on her. Meanwhile, Jean, like Scott, really wanted to discuss something with her in private, but wanted to find Ororo first. After that, Jubilee did not see Jean for the rest of the day.

I'm either in trouble or I'm getting a car, she mused jokingly, not placing a great deal of stock on the latter. She and Bishop had taken one of the cars around the block when she was trying to get her learner's permit. When they returned to the mansion, he immediately jumped out of the car and kissed the ground. He then grabbed Scott and threatened to pummel him if he was asked to take her out on the road again.

The placid waves of the lake were enough to allow her to clear her head. However, she was not totally relaxed. She could hear the footsteps of someone else on the wooden planks of the dock behind her. Her limbs immediately began to tense in preparation for a confrontation with an intruder. Deep down, she realized that was unlikely. But I used to feel that way at the academy and that's how Bastion got me, she thought. Her hands were now cradling a ball of bright light.

"Hey, kid," a low, husky voice drawled.

Her eyes widened as she dissolved the ball of light back into her body. Slowly with her heart thudding in her ears, she turned around. Only one word escaped from her lips. "Wolvie?"

Logan nodded, amazed as to how the young girl had grown. She was even more beautiful up close, reminding him of past loves. Her short hair she sported when she was a pixyish teenager was now long and flowing down her graceful shoulders. Her taste in clothing seemed to be influenced by Jean, which seemed to be trendy but tamer than her mall rat days. While she looked her age physically, there was something about her that made her older than her years. Those striking blue eyes he had first noticed all those years ago remained sparkling, but were more wary than they used to be. His stomach twisted inside. There was no doubt in his mind that his absence had played a role in that.

The younger Jubilee would have quickly scurried to her feet to greet him with an energetic hug. This older version of the child, instead, sat very still at the edge of dock and studied him thoughtfully. It reminded him of the Professor or Jean and the two had this way of analyzing him with only their eyes. He found it particularly unnerving from the girl he had considered a daughter. Logan quickly yearned for the days before he left. He was unsure as to how to interact with the new, older Jubilee.

"You alright, kid?" he finally asked, realizing there would be no hugs or squeals of enthusiasm over his homecoming today. Maybe she's sick or worse, she hates me.

"You're home," she said quietly, her sapphire eyes still fixated on him. He looked the same-stony eyes, hair shaped into those silly points on both sides of his head, lumberjack wardrobe. There was something different about the Wolverine who stood before her; something she had never seen before in all the years she had known him. He looked uncertain, not as confident as he usually did.

Logan found himself not comfortable under her intense gaze. He decided to take a seat next to her on the dock, allowing his denim-clad legs to swing over the edge with hers. "You don't seem happy to see me," he drawled dryly.

She shrugged, her stare turning to the waters ahead. "I gave up on the idea that you would come back." Her body stiffened involuntarily when he settled next to her.

He grimaced, noting how her words suddenly stung him. His ears picked up on the faint trace of sadness in her voice, which was mixed with a strange, hardened quality. "You must hate me," he mumbled.

"No, I don't hate you. I don't think I could ever hate you."

"But?"

"But, I don't really understand you. I thought I did, but I don't."

"What do you mean? Kid, you're the only one who really gets me in this whole damned place."

"That's not true."

"Why would you think that?"

"If I really knew you, I would understand why you left. I don't."

"Darlin'."

She did not allow him to finish. "When you left that day without telling anyone why, you really hurt me. I was left to come up with reasons why. At first, I thought it was because you didn't want a kid around, bringing you down anymore. Then the reasons weren't important anymore. You were gone and no amount of rationalizing wasn't going to bring you home."

His green eyes widened as he listened to what she was saying. He never realized his absence had affected that much. Equally surprising was the logic sprouting from her at that moment.

She continued, still without looking at him. "So, I moved on. I stopped marking anniversaries on calendars. I stopped cherishing those two- sentence postcards you sent every once in a while."

"Jubilee."

Her mouth then set into a grim line, something he had never seen her do. "I needed you the most during that time. I was still recovering from what Bastion and his goons had done to me. I needed to feel protected and secure and the only person I thought could provide that sense of both was you. Then you leave." She turned to him, her lovely face filled with bitterness. "Do you know what that did to me?"

Logan found himself at a loss of words. Finally, he shook his head.

"It convinced me that Bastion and his lackeys were right," she said flatly. "When they had me in their hideout, they did all sorts of things. They played with my head to make me think that all of you were dead. They beat me so that they could find out more about the Professor and the X-Men. Sometimes it hurt so badly, I even thought of breaking, but I didn't because that's not what I was taught to do.

"Then one night, a group of the men broke into my cell and tried to rape me. Fortunately, they didn't. They just took one look at me and said I wasn't worth it because I was a stinking mutant kid. They said that no one would ever want to get close to me was because that's all I am. I was ugly, undesirable and that I would be lucky to have anyone close to me." Her voice changed as she re-enacted the event, still fresh in her mind as ever.

"After that, the verbal abuse continued, mixed in with the psychological manipulation and the physical torture. You know, there were times when I actually believed it. But then, you found me and I thought everything was going to be fine. As long as you were around, nothing could bring me back to that place again."

Logan watched her struggle to hold back her tears. He wanted to reach out and wrap an arm around her, but he wasn't sure how that was going to be received. He continued to sit next to her, his face drawn with worry and horror as she relieved her ordeal.

"When you left, I began to think they were right. I drove you away. It was like I became that undesirable, hated thing Bastion's goons said I was." Jubilee was determined not to cry, especially not in front of him. She had worked so hard all this time to be stronger than that.

"That's not true." He wanted to strangle those bastards for what they did to his beautiful Jubilee.

"You weren't around to argue otherwise." She turned to look into his eyes.

"I'm telling you now. You could never drive me away. It was never about you."

She nodded, finding some comfort in his delayed response. "Then what was it?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.

Logan hesitated. The day after the Danger Room incident with Hank, he became involved in a heated traffic argument while he was driving into town with Jubilee. The teenaged driver, probably Jubilee's age, had cut Logan's truck in traffic and given him the finger on top of that. Instantly incensed, Logan pulled up to the young man with green hair and multiple facial piercings at the stoplight. He hopped out of his truck and grabbed the boy from the open driver's side window. He began screaming at him threats of bodily harm. The younger man's face paled as he stammered incoherent apologies. Horrified at the scene that was unfolding in front of her, Jubilee attempted to intervene, begging her Wolvie to stop. When she pulled at his arm, he shoved her against the truck without thinking. While she was unhurt, Logan knew that he could not trust himself around her or anyone for that matter. He soon left after that, not wanting to tell anyone else about his fears.

"I thought I was going to hurt you," he said after a long silence. "I couldn't let myself even think of what if, so I left."

Jubilee stared at him, puzzled. "Why? I know you would never do that."

"I would never intentionally do it, but I was losin' control of myself. There was nothing anyone could do. Even the Professor." He did not want to go further with any details and hoped she would be satisfied with what he had just given her.

"Did you give him a chance? He's helped you before." She had heard stories from Scott and Jean about how he had acted when he first arrived to the mansion. Jean told her that the Professor had dedicated a great deal of time helping Logan face his demons.

"Yeah, didn't work. It was better for me to deal with my stuff alone. You didn't need me around. You had Scott and Jean. Turned out fine to me." He narrowed his eyes as the thought of Cyclops playing Daddy Dearest raced through his brain.

She detected the bitterness in his voice and knew where it stemmed from. "They've done a lot for me," she said softly, placing a hand on his shoulder. "But what you've taught me about being strong also helped, too. I remember everything you passed on to me when you were living here. I wanted to make you proud."

"You have, kid." A hint of smile crossed his lips when she touched him. "Seems like I missed out on a lot." He fingered a silky strand of her hair.

"But you're here now."

"Yeah, kid, I am." With that, he extended a muscular arm and pulled her to his chest.

Jubilee paused before asking, "Are you here to stay?" She knew what she wanted him to say, but wasn't sure if he was feeling the same way. Immediately, she began to brace herself not to get her hopes high.

He looked deeply into those clear, blue eyes, which were imploring, but wary of him. Here was his chance to make things right again between them. Things would be different because he was different. He had control of the beast and rage inside. There was no chance now that he would ever hurt her again.

And, he owed it to her. It was becoming more apparent how he had let her down all those years ago. He had no idea what kind of impact his absence had on her until now. Like Cyclops needing the Professor's approval, Logan needed Jubilee to believe in him again.

"Yeah, kid. I'm here to stay." He rested his stubble-ridden chin on the top of her head. He breathed in the scent that was uniquely hers and sighed. For the first time since he left the mansion on Graymalkin Lane, the Wolverine felt a soothing calm wash over him. There was no need to run anymore.

At the top of the stone path that led to the dock, a figure with a boyish face and sandy hair observed the happy reunion. He watched with some happiness and concern for the young girl. As he turned on his heel to walk back to the mansion, he hoped that the loner would keep his word.


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