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 Four: Two Points for Honesty
Logan had been back at the mansion for several weeks. His return garnered some mixed reviews from the other residents. While old friends and colleagues, like Jean and Kurt, greeted him warmly, others who had strained relations, like Scott and Warren, with him before were less enthusiastic. The younger students, many of whom did not know him well, were wary of the hairy, brooding man who liked smoking cigars with Bishop. They simply stayed away from him for fear of being growled at.
For his part, Logan quickly adjusted back to his old life. He resumed his vigorous physical training with the others in long Danger Room sessions. He went along on the occasional mission, even following Scott's brusquely delivered orders. Surprisingly, he allowed the Professor to talk him into teaching several self-defense classes at the school. He also returned to sneaking off with Scott's prized motorcycle every once in a while; just to get under the other man's skin-that and incessantly flirting with Jean in front of him.
Even though he was still attracted to the statuesque redhead, he soon realized that there could be nothing between them except for friendship. She had chosen stable, boring, vanilla Scott over him long ago. Her behavior demonstrated devotion to her husband and their married life together. At first, he began to experience those old feelings of jealousy and angst over his unrequited love for her. However, as time passed since his return, it became easier for Logan to deal with.
This was because he had found a new priority. Despite the understanding he and Jubilee came to on the docks weeks ago, Logan found that he still had some work to do in repairing their relationship. He had never expected it to be easy. In his experience, nothing ever was. He yearned for the days she would eagerly tag along by his side, chatter on and on about their great adventures in "the old days", and hang on his every word. Now, she was the one who was approached, not the other way around anymore.
But he had her back and that was all that mattered. Getting to know the new Jubilee was interesting. There were parts of her personality that remained the same, such as the incessant need to shop, wisecracking sense of humor, and wide-eyed innocence. However, Logan could discern traces of Scott and Jean's influence in his young protégée-thoughtfulness, analytical sense, and empathy. While he resented Scott for taking charge in the girl's life, he could not help but be somewhat grateful to the other man for doing a wonderful job in raising Jubilee.
I just won't give One-Eyed the satisfaction of knowing, he smugly smiled, lighting a Cohiba cigar Bishop had given him as a gift. He was now sitting on one of the benches by the rose garden, staring at the flowerless shrubbery in the early evening hours. Logan pulled out a photograph from his jacket pocket. Gently, he fingered the dog-eared edges of the picture. In it, stood was a grinning thirteen-year-old Jubilee with her prized teddy bear he had bought her one Christmas. As he stared at the photo he had carried everywhere, he realized she needed him as much now as she did then.
"Hey, Logan," a familiar voice broke into his thoughts.
Startled, he quickly shoved the picture back into his pocket and looked up. A curvy, young woman stood in front of him, dressed in a pair of low- riding, black flared pants, a midriff-baring, red T-shirt with a silver-and- black X on the front, and black-and-white sneakers. Even though it was slightly cool outside, she also wore a pair of black leather gloves. Her hair, which had been long and curly before, was now straight and bobbed just below her chin. However, the color or colors remained the same-brown with white streaks framing her face.
"Rogue," he finally replied in greeting. He had not seen much of her since he had returned. She had been on vacation with her new boyfriend, Joseph, or "Joeneto" as Popsicle and Jubilee liked to call him, up until last week. As wary as he was of the amnesiac version of the Professor's old friend and nemesis, Logan was relieved that Rogue had found someone to establish a relationship with, where touching could be done without harm. From what he had observed of her since coming back to the mansion, she seemed happier, more at peace. This was in stark contrast during her time with the Cajun. Logan remembered the many nights he watched her pine and angst over the man she both loved and did not trust. To this day, she rarely said anything about Remy LeBeau and what exactly happened before she left him in Antarctica.
She seated herself next to him. "Ah heard from Kitty ya were back. Welcome home." Her hazel eyes were genuine as she spoke.
"Life on the road treated ya OK?"
"Pretty much. Good to have time to myself."
"Ah bet Sweet Pea's glad you're back," Rogue observed, using the pet name she had given to Jubilee. While Jean and Ororo had taken on maternal roles toward the young girl, Rogue was more of the fun, older sister.
He wanted to think that was the case, but wasn't sure since she was still a little reserved around him. "Yeah, I guess she is."
Rogue gave him a sympathetic look. "She is. She's a teenager now and things ain't as simple as they used to be. We've all been there."
If I was, I don't remember any of it, he thought, puffing on his cigar bitterly and peering down at the ground under their feet. Suddenly, he said, "I'm not leaving her again, you know."
"Course not, sugah."
"I really mean it. Some people around here think I'm going to up and leave again, but I won't." His eyes narrowed, recalling the judgmental glares he had received from Scott, Warren, and Betsy when he first arrived. He was no mind reader, but he could instantly tell what the three of them were thinking.
Rogue placed a gloved hand on his cheek, turning his head to face her. "Logan, Ah believe ya," she said softly. She was suddenly surprised to see the anguish on his face. This man, a loner who prided himself on being tough and cynical, was now on the verge of breaking down-or something close to that.
Shocked from her touch, Logan pulled away slightly. He was not afraid of what she could have done since she was wearing gloves. It was just that he was not used to being as open and honest as he was with his thoughts and feelings. Not unless he was being subjected to a mind-scan by Jean or the Professor. He was beginning to feel exposed and vulnerable, which made him very uncomfortable. In order to save face, he decided to change the subject.
"So, where's your other half?" he asked.
Same old Logan, Rogue thought, hiding her amusement. He gets close to talking about his feelings and clams up. She was not annoyed or offended that he shut down, but hopeful for the day when he would stop reverting to that defense mechanism. "He's at the mansion," she replied. "resting from our trip. We just got back from Bali."
Logan nodded. "Everything OK with the two of you?"
"Yeah. Ah have to say Ah'm real happy now. He's a good man, Logan."
"Good. You deserve it."
She beamed brightly, but then her expression became thoughtful. "Everyone's comin' home now-Kitty, Sam Guthrie, you, and Bobby. Ya evah think about who else might be comin' back?"
Logan raised a brow at her. He could tell she was dancing around the question she wanted to ask. "We talkin' about Gumbo?" he asked. Never the diplomat, he was always the type to get to the point.
A mixture of shock and irritation crossed the Southern Belle's face. "Course not," she retorted haughtily, almost snorting with disgust. "Haven't thought about that swamp rat in ages."
He knew she was lying from what he saw in her eyes, the tone of voice she used just now, and the smell of anger coming off from her. This was not the reaction from a person who did not care, but someone who was passionate and desperately hiding her conflicted feelings. Logan tried to hide his own amusement, chewing on his cigar thoughtfully.
"That seemed to be where you were going with the conversation, darlin'," he finally replied, watching her cheeks flush red with indignation.
"Ah was not!" she informed him hotly, rising to her feet.
"Just wanted to speculate with ya, but ya wanted to make it into something else." With that, she turned on her heel and marched back to the mansion.
How he missed teasing her to the point of losing her temper. Drake was right. This was fun.
Since Logan's return to the mansion, Scott kept a close eye on him. It was no secret the two did not get along well. Logan was the rebel, the man who went about things by the seat of his pants. Rather than evaluate the evidence, Logan's inclination was to follow his instincts. This was antithetical to Scott, who followed the rules and analyzed things to the finest detail. Their differing life philosophies often clashed, both in and out of battles. Had it not been for the interventions of others, their verbal sparring would have escalated to physical altercations.
He was no longer concerned about the other man's intentions towards his wife. Jean had chosen him, not Logan to be her husband. He had figured that the flirting Logan engaged in with her was just to make him mad. Initially, it worked, but after they got married, Scott figured out how to ignore the Canadian's antics or respond with a dry, sardonic comeback. It also helped to have Jean's repeated assurances at night.
Even though he still considered Logan a loose cannon of sorts, there seemed to be an inner peace within the man Scott had never witnessed before. Before his departure, Logan seemed to be overwhelmed constantly by wild rages. Anyone was a target at any time, even members of his own team. Scott had consulted the Professor about this. He was concerned about the safety and well being of the others while they were on mission. Now, Logan was able to focus his aggression on the field, while keeping his head.
Scott turned on the solid brass pharmacy reading lamp at his desk. His eyes flicked to a framed photograph of Jean and Jubilee taken last year. It was Jubilee's birthday and they were on a picnic by the lake. The two were beaming brightly as the sun that shone behind them that day. It was the happiest he had seen Jubilee in sometime. There was no trace of the angst she had been experiencing since Logan's disappearance, no fear and trauma from her time with Bastion. It was simple, unadulterated joy in being alive that radiated from her face.
Scott seated himself at his desk, wishing he could keep her that way forever. With Logan's return to the mansion, he was not sure it was necessarily the best thing for the young girl. In spite of the other man's newfound inner peace, he was not the epitome of stability. Jubilee's history of loss and trauma required just that.
So, he and Jean created a home life that was supportive and loving for her. They invited her into their home and doted on her as if she were their own. She reciprocated, opening up about her experiences while she was captive and allowing both of them to help her recover. While she had been wary of being close to anyone else other than Logan, Scott sensed that she was now attached to both himself and Jean. It was as if they were a real family.
He only hoped that Wolverine's return would not jeopardize that. Even though she appeared to have adjusted well, Scott was still concerned. There was no telling when Logan would leave again. Sure, he was here and promised Jubilee he would not run. But given Logan's troubled past, how could anyone trust him?
He had discussed his worries with Jean, who had assured him that Logan was a different man. She had faced him in Ororo's greenhouse when he first returned. From their conversation and a mind scan, Jean informed Scott of his reasons for leaving in the first place as well as his honorable intention of remaining at the mansion for Jubilee's sake. She was adamant that Logan was being genuine this time. In response, Scott expressed his doubts, but promised his wife he would keep his opinions silent around the young girl.
However, that was not going to stop him from being vigilant. While he did not confront Logan with his concerns at the request of Jean, Scott continued to watch the other man's every move with suspicion. This was particularly true whenever he was with Jubilee.
His worried thoughts were interrupted when the front door opened. He heard the girlish laughter of Jubilee over his wife's lilting voice. Both walked by the study, arms filled with shopping bags.
He managed a dry smile. "I take it your outing was successful?"
Jean nodded. She motioned for Jubilee to step forward. "Jubilee even got a present for you," she told her husband, green eyes twinkling.
Jubilee pulled out a slim, white box and presented it to Scott. "Go ahead and open it," she urged, exchanging a knowing glance with Jean.
"This better not paf in my face," he mock-warned, but began to uncover the contents of the box anyway. Inside, was a pair of wrap-around, ruby-quartz sunglasses. He was taken a back and found himself at a loss for words.
Jubilee broke the silence. "I was watching MTV and saw this U2 video from a while ago. Bono was wearing some shades similar to these and I thought you would look great in them. Also, you really need to update your look, Scott. Square frames are totally out this season." She added a laugh.
"Thanks, kiddo. This is a great gift," Scott said, not taking her fashion criticism too seriously. He closed his eyes, removed his old sunglasses, and slipped on the new ones, which were surprisingly comfortable. "How do I look?"
"So handsome," Jean pretended to gush. She followed her comment with a wink.
"If we could only do something with this hair," Jubilee said, reaching forward to tousle his thick, brown locks. "What about blond highlights?"
He ducked out of her reach and smirked. "Forget it."
The two laughed and began to chatter about their excursion to the mall. Scott's mind soon drifted off into his own thoughts about Logan and Jubilee again. He suddenly set his mouth into a grim line.
Jean noticed the serious look on her husband's face. Is there something wrong?
No, nothing's wrong, Jean. He quickly flashed her a wan smile and focused his attention on Jubilee, who was describing an outfit she had just purchased. Watching her now, she seemed to project such light and happiness. There was no way he was going to let Jubilee get hurt again.
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