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 Five: The Man Comes Around
"I don't know about this," Katherine "Kitty" Pryde said to the white-haired weather goddess sitting across from her, pulling her thick, wavy brown hair into a messy ponytail. "Not everyone's going to be happy about what we've found."
"You do not know that for sure," Ororo replied calmly, finishing her favorite drink, an Oscar 75 cocktail, which was made by combining sparkling wine and mango liqueur. The two women had just completed a mission in Bermuda, and were enjoying a well-deserved break at Henry VIII Restaurant & Pub on South Shore Road. The Tudoresque establishment was known for serving Ye Olde Fayre amid pewter knickknacks.
The coral cliffs, protected coves and dozen of scenic beaches bedecked with palm trees and hibiscus taunted them as they furiously worked to track down a missing, Apocalyptic scroll from the Mesopotamia era. Fortunately for them, they were able to locate the undamaged artifact while browsing a local flea market within days of their arrival. Through contacts Ororo already established during prior missions in the area, they were able to find out who was behind the theft and why it had been taken. It had turned out that one of the museum administrators was experiencing financial difficulties and was desperate to earn fast cash. Needless to say, after the two women resolved the situation, they caught up on sightseeing, shopping, and restaurant/bar-hopping-not necessarily in that order.
As she studied the concerned expression on Kitty's round face, Ororo was reminded how fond she was of the young girl she considered a daughter. She was pleased that Kitty decided to return after graduating from college with her degree in computer science. The failed relationships the girl had faced during her brief lifetime-the first with her estranged father in Chicago, the second with the late Colossus, and the third with the Englishman Pete Wisdom, a former member of Excalibur and now ex-boyfriend in London-had devastating effects. She had become depressed, finding little joy and comfort in the people who cared for her at the mansion.
Bitter with these unsuccessful relationships, she decided to leave Xavier to pursue a new life, where no one knew of her abilities and no one could place any expectations on her weary shoulders. Kitty had been a gifted student and team member at the mansion. Eager to please, she sought the approval from others at the mansion, particularly the Professor, who often acted as a surrogate guardian. Looking back now, Ororo feared that the Professor held the young girl to too high of standards-training her vigorously in Danger Room sessions, asking her to lead Excalibur.
The years away from the mansion, immersed in the real world benefited the girl who had come to them, unsure of her abilities and her place in the world. She was more confident in her decisions and not as anxious when it came to what others thought of her. Despite these changes in her personality, Kitty still retained her tendency of wanting to please everyone all the time. Her ambivalence regarding their latest discovery in the tropics was a testament to this pattern.
Kitty frowned, not taking much solace in her friend's words as she would when she was younger. She played with the gold Star of David that hung from around her neck, contemplating the ramifications of bringing back what they had found to the mansion and wishing for Ororo's stunning fashion sense. Wearing a faded, pink tank top and army green cargo shorts with flip-flops, she felt somewhat inadequate and tomboyish sitting with a woman in a flowing cotton, cream-colored sundress with coral flowers and thong sandals with matching sequined flowers. Kitty was convinced that if Ororo had not devoted her life to Xavier's dream, she could have easily been a model.
"I still don't know about this," Kitty said, returning to the subject at hand as she took another sip of her pinot grigio. Unlike her friend, she preferred sparkling wines to mixed drinks. "It's just that people might not totally embrace the idea of bringing home."
Ororo cut her off in mid-sentence. "And what would you suggest we do?" she asked.
The younger woman shrugged her shoulders, brown eyes hesitant. "I don't know, Storm," she replied, taken aback from her friend's directness. Her brusque manner was usually reserved for Scott and Logan during missions or sessions in the Danger Room. As second in command to Scott, she cultivated and developed that demeanor to keep her head in battle.
Seeing how her words had stung Kitty, Ororo gave her an apologetic smile and placed a comforting hand over the younger woman's. "I'm sorry, dear," she said quietly, "it's just that we do not have a lot of time before our flight leaves tonight. We just need to have some faith in the others. They might not react as badly as you anticipate."
Kitty sighed, her heart-shaped mouth and cat-like, brown eyes working together to form a troubled frown. "I just wish we could have talked to the Professor about this. He would definitely know how the others would respond. If only he weren't visiting Lilandra and the Shi'ar." Her voice trailed off wistfully. "I don't want to make people upset if they don't have to be."
The weather goddess nodded in agreement. Xavier's input would indeed prove to be helpful in this situation and would provide some peace of mind to Kitty. However, contacting him at this point would take nine days-time they did not have. She could only resign herself to trust her own instincts. Surely, the others could not be angry when confronted with what she and Kitty were about to bring home. Could they?
Back in Westchester, it was a blustery, autumn late afternoon. The sun was beginning to sink behind the hills of the mansion property. Classes had ended for the day at the school and many of the children were outside, enjoying the crunch of the dead leaves on the ground under their feet as they played. Despite the cooling temperatures of the season, it was still warm enough to go outside without heavy layers of clothing.
Logan and Jubilee found themselves taking the opportunity to enjoy the seasonal weather as well. The two were walking towards the Summers' home on the other side of the mansion. The farm-style, white clapboard house provided a crisp contrast against the darkening sky overhead.
Since Scott and Jean were away on a romantic getaway in the city for the next couple of days, Logan had taken it upon himself to look after Jubilee. It seemed like a logical decision. He could get to know the older Jubilee and repair their relationship at the same time. Slowly, he began to see results. He noticed that she was more open with him and less wary when he was around. Granted, she no longer overwhelmed him with boisterous hugs and yelps of glee when she saw him, but at least things were getting better. They could talk again without tension, without anger about who was abandoned.
Logan pulled out a cigar from the pocket of his worn leather jacket. He slipped between his lips as he searched for his silver Zippo lighter. Grunting after not being able to locate it, his stony, green eyes glanced sideways at Jubilee. "Can ya spare a light, kid?"
She paused in her steps, blue eyes disapproving. "You know smoking can kill you, right? I can show you the pictures from my health textbook." She shuddered at the thought of the photographs of diseased lung tissue and the emaciated, bald victims of lung cancer.
"Listen, kid, I've faced Sabretooth, Magneto, Sentinels, and Apocalypse more times than you've practiced driving. I don't die easy."
Can't argue with that logic, she mused, summoning a spark between her index and middle fingers. Grinning and raising one of his brows at her, he leaned forward, lighting his Cohiba. She then absorbed the light back into her hand. Logan nodded his gratitude.
"So, what do you want to do tonight?" he asked, continuing their pace towards the house. "We can order pizza for dinner again." He made a face as he uttered the last sentence. The thought of another night of Chicago- style pizza was beginning to be too much.
"I know this doesn't sound like me, but I'm kind of sick of eating pizza for dinner every night. How about chili cheese fries? We can go the mall and get a huge thing of them." Jean had tried to wean her off junk food, but Jubilee found that old habits die-hard. Unbeknownst to Scott and Jean, she hid candy, chips, and gum in her bedroom.
"Sounds good. Live it up, kid. Your freedom away from One-Eyed won't last forever."
The wind suddenly whipped her long, black hair with midnight blue streaks across one side of her face. Underneath her veil of tresses, she was frowning. "I wish you wouldn't talk about him that way," she said quietly, pushing her hair behind her shoulder.
"Care to repeat that, kid?"
"Wolvie, it's just that when you say things like that about him, it makes me uncomfortable. He's a good man."
Logan stared at her in disbelief. He almost doubted his super sense of hearing. "You're taking sides with him?"
She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her brown corduroy jacket, blue eyes on the ground. "I'm not on anyone's sides. It's just that spending all this time with him made me realize he's not that bad a guy, really. When you say mean things about him, it's not cool."
Logan scowled, puffing on his cigar. He hated to admit it, but the girl was right. He had known it for some time, but could not help but to take every chance to get under the other man's skin. However, he found that like Jubilee, old habits were hard to break. Besides tearing up the occasional bad guy, putting Cyke in his place was what he lived for.
"You're right," he muttered, grinding his cigar between his teeth. He wanted to spit on the ground in disgust, not quite believing he made his admission out loud.
"I'm sorry, Wolvie. What was that? I couldn't hear you just now."
"Don't be a smart ass. You heard what I said."
She grinned mischievously and placed her arm through his. "I know," she replied. "I just thought it would be funny to hear you say it one more time."
He grunted, pulling her closer to his side. With anyone else, he would have threatened them with a taste of adamantium. Staring down into those sparkling sapphire eyes, he softened somewhat. There had been a flash of the old Jubilee. Granted, it was at his expense, but the outcome still brought back memories of the way things had been between them.
When he was not residing in his Park Avenue apartment to oversee the day-to- day functions of his company, Warren Worthington lived in the east wing of the mansion. The wing was separated from the common areas and sleeping areas of the students and other team members by the front foyer. This provided him with the privacy he craved and accessibility to the going-ons in the mansion.
Despite how many times he had been in this area of the mansion, Bobby still could not get over how affluent his old friend truly was. Not that Warren constantly flaunted the fact in other people's faces. He seemed to keep a low profile when it came to discussing monetary matters. It was almost as if he were embarrassed about being himself sometimes. As Bobby stood by the French windows of the living room, he wondered why a man who had everything-good looks, wealth, education, and charm-would curse his own existence.
His eyes flicked to the sofa, where Warren and Kurt were sitting, engrossed in chess match. The two men made a contrasting pair in terms outward appearances. With the exception of large, feathery wings protruding from his shoulder blades, Warren was the epitome of the All-American boy. His perfectly coiffed, wavy blond hair flopped over his blue-green eyes, complimenting his sculpted, unblemished features. Tall and well built, Warren maintained his physique through Danger Room sessions and missions. The fact that he was a former polo, lacrosse, and soccer player also helped.
On the other end of the spectrum was Kurt. His earlier career as a circus acrobat provided him with the agility and small build needed to jump high in the air. What was most noticeable was his demon like appearance-long tail, fang-like teeth, and piercing yellow eyes. Also, unlike most humans and other mutants, Kurt only had three fingers on each hand instead of the usual five. His hair was black and cropped, which seemed to blend in with his dark blue skin. Upon his face were tattoos, symbols derived from an ancient, angelic language. He had told Ororo and Bobby long ago that each tattoo was for each sin he had committed before he devoted his life to the scriptures. Despite his frightening appearance, Kurt was the gentlest soul one could ever come across. He was thoughtful, patient and kind, always taking a spiritual perspective when it came to approaching missions and teaching at the school.
"I believe ve are at a stalemate, mein freund," Kurt observed, rubbing his chin and peering over at the pieces on the board. Both even had equal number of pieces captured.
Warren nodded in agreement. A gifted businessman, he disliked unresolved situations, which he viewed this stalemate as. He began to rack his brain for a plan of action when he noticed Bobby staring out the windows intently. Curious, he asked, "What's got your attention, Bobby?"
The younger man did not turn to face his friends, but continued his vigil. "Nothing."
Warren exchanged a knowing look with Kurt. "Nothing?"
"That's what I said."
"So, I suppose staring at nothing is more compelling than pulling one of your charming practical jokes?" Warren recently heard about the fallout from Bobby's latest prank. Bobby had planted a cigarette load (a tiny exploding piece of wood) in the end of one of Bishop's cigarettes and slipped it back into the pack. One of the older students, Ray Crisp, had joined a group on an outing to the local bar and asked for one. Bishop slid one out and the boy slipped between his lips. Just as the brawny time traveler began to light the cigarette, Ray expressed second thoughts. Suddenly, the smoke blew apart with a loud BANG! Needless to say, the young man swore off cigarettes for the rest of his life.
Bobby did not reply. He had been watching Logan and Jubilee, who were beginning to make their way to the mansion from the Summers' home. Even in the dimming light of the early autumn evening, he could still discern Jubilee's fine, delicate features. She looked radiant. Her smile was broader than he had ever seen it. As he continued to observe, he could not help but wonder why he was suddenly fascinated with the young girl. It was almost unnerving because he still could not make out the nature of this interest. He had always seen her as the loud-mouthed teenager who was also his partner in crime. Now, things were different.
"I believe he's admiring the view," Kurt piped up, winking at Warren. Even though he could not see what was out the window, he was sure that Jubilee was within Bobby's view. Since Bobby's return, Kurt noticed how the young man's behavior was different whenever she was around. He seemed more nervous and unsure of himself.
Bobby turned around, startled. For a moment, he thought Kurt was insinuating something. However, the other man looked innocent and guileless. Well, as innocent and guileless as a man with a tail, yellow eyes, and blue skin could look.
Bobby recovered and flashed a grin. "You know how I love fall."
Before Warren or Kurt could comment, they heard the door open in the foyer. The unmistakable smell of Logan's cigar wafted inside by the cooling wind. This was followed by the scent of Jubilee's bubble gum. The three men in the east wing of the mansion quickly made their way to the foyer to greet them.
Jubilee was asking Logan about the possibility of getting another set of piercings in her ears. Jean had expressed reservations about allowing her to get them, but Logan did not seem to mind. As she was about outline how she was going to pay, she bumped into a wall, covered in jersey material. For a moment, she lost her footing and began to fall backwards. Quickly, the wall's arms reached out and grabbed her, pulling her close.
"I've got you, Jubes," Bobby said, staring down into her surprised blue eyes. No matter how many times he had seen them, he continued to be fascinated by their color and sparkle. He also noticed that this was the closest he had ever been to her. Suddenly uncomfortable, he pulled away and began to chuckle. "Try not walking and talking at the same time. I'm not sure if your brain can handle both."
Jubilee's eyes flashed with indignation. She was about to come back with a smart response of her own when Logan interjected. "This comin' from the kid who went into the women's locker room while talkin' trash after a Danger Room session," he commented, wrapping an arm around the young girl's shoulders.
Bobby gave him a smug smile. "How do you know that wasn't on purpose?"
"Ja, I think I saw you running from Rogue and Kitty," Kurt interjected, yellow eyes mirthful. The sight of horrified Bobby Drake racing for his life from two women in bath towels was enough to produce a smile.
Jubilee began to giggle, but quieted when she received a warning glare from Bobby. She cleared her throat and said, "We're heading to the mall. Does anyone want to come along?"
At that moment, the door opened once more. This time, the travel-weary face of Kitty Pryde appeared. She looked as if she had been sleeping on the plane ride back to the states. Her ponytail was slightly rumpled and her cat-like brown eyes were heavy-lidded. In preparation for the cooler temperatures at home, she had changed from her summer attire to faded jeans, black-and-white sneakers, and her favorite, but oversized University of Chicago sweatshirt. She sauntered inside with her two travel bags slung over her shoulders.
Kurt quickly took the bags from his friend. "It's good to see you home. How vas your trip?"
"Must not been that good. You look like hell." Bobby observed. Logan growled at the boy, who paled in response.
She wrinkled her slightly upturned nose at Bobby, and then turned her appreciative eyes to Kurt. "It was good, thanks," she replied, patting his shoulder. "We found the scroll, undamaged. It turned out no mutants were involved in the taking of the scroll. Storm is going to return it to the museum tomorrow."
Warren nodded. He of all the people in the room had the most reason to be wary of anything related to Apocalypse. Hearing her brief them as to the results of the trip, he could not help but sense there was something else she was not disclosing. There was something in her voice-unsure and hesitant.
Ororo was the next to enter the foyer, pulling her suitcase on wheels with one hand and carrying multiple shopping bags in the other. Unlike Kitty, she appeared relaxed and well rested. "Hello, everyone," she greeted, tossing her long, white hair behind her. "I trust that Kitty has informed you of our activities?"
Warren frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. "About finding the scroll, yes. Is there something else we should know?" He knew Ororo would not be as evasive as Kitty could be about bad news, if there was any.
Logan's nose began to detect cigarette smoke in the air. Neither Kitty nor Ororo smoked. The cigarettes were a particular brand; one that Bishop never cared for. Yet, they were familiar. At that moment, he realized what else the two women brought back with them besides the missing scroll. He smiled slightly, waiting for Ororo and Kitty to explain.
"We did find something else while in Bermuda," Ororo admitted, ignoring Logan's sly glance.
Just then, a tall, lean figure stepped inside from the early evening shadows. He carried with him a knapsack over his shoulder and a long steel staff. Red pupils glittered from underneath a mop of wavy, auburn hair. The glow from the lighting fixture overhead traced his attractive, chiseled facial features, which had aged since his last appearance. Wearing an ankle-length, brown leather duster, one could not immediately discern what else the person was wearing underneath. However, those who knew him could be sure that he was sporting his trademark body armor.
"You mean someone, chère," the man corrected huskily, his voice reminiscent of whiskey and cigarettes. His distinct accent, Louisiana Cajun, was stronger than ever.
Jubilee's brilliant blue eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. She pulled away from Logan and raced to the man standing before them. Her arms immediately went about him. The young girl buried her face against his coat, the smell of cigarettes filling her nostrils confirming his identity. "Gambit." she murmured.
He smiled down at her gently, stroking her long, dark hair. "Miss me, petite?" he inquired. He felt her arms tighten around him in response and chuckled. "I reckon so."
It was all that Warren could do to keep his mouth from hanging open. He did not share Jubilee's enthusiasm over the Cajun's return to the mansion. The man had a shaky past and could never be trusted as far as Warren was concerned. He couldn't believe Ororo and Kitty would even think that bringing him back to the mansion was remotely a good idea. The man was a thief, a liar, and worst of all, a murderer.
Suddenly a voice drawled, "Remy."
All eyes peered up the stairs to trace the source of the voice. Rogue stood at the top, gripping the railing. Her hazel eyes were wide and her bow mouth was set in an impassive line. Despite her emotionally stunted expression, she looked quite lovely that night. She was wearing an elegant, silk green robe; a present Remy had given her years ago.
Remy stepped forward, releasing Jubilee. "Rogue." he whispered, feeling a sudden flood of emotions overwhelming him. There was love, anger, betrayal, and sadness. He was beginning to lose himself all over again staring at her.
She opened her mouth to say something. However, she decided against it. The woman with the brown hair with white streaks quickly turned on her heel and darted away. Seconds later, the sound of the door slamming shut could be heard.
Logan smirked, leaning against the wall. "Good going, Cajun," he commented, grinding his cigar between his teeth. "It's like you were never gone."
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