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 Seven: With or Without You
"Looks like you scratch again, Wolverine," Gambit observed, rubbing some chalk on the end of his stick.
The two were playing a friendly round of pool in one of the recreation rooms in the mansion. Since there were children around, both Logan and Gambit agreed not smoke (at the request of Storm and Jean). It was late afternoon and classes had adjourned for the day. Since the air outside was cold, many of the students were inside watching television and talking about the day's events. This was fortunate for both men, who did not consider themselves to be great babysitters. Logan often cited the trouble he, the Cajun, and Jubilee used to get into when they were all living at the mansion together.
While his arrival received mixed reviews among some of the team members (notably Scott, Warren, and Bobby), Gambit found acceptance with his old friend, Logan. The older man was one of the few X-Men who did not pass judgment upon him after the trial. Given Logan's own shadowed past, he felt he had no right to. The two always had an affable rapport since they often found common ground. In addition to their shaky pasts, both men were seen as the renegades of the group who paid little heed to the rules. They also had histories of having to prove themselves constantly to the group on many occasions.
Just now, Logan found himself irritated with his colleague. He grunted, fishing the white pool ball out of the side pocket. "Shut up and play pool, Cajun." The pretty boy had running his mouth more than concentrating on the game. It was almost enough to make him want to threaten the man with his claws.
Remy extended his long, lean body over the pool table. He wanted to set up his shot perfectly. With a flick of his wrist, he aimed for the last striped ball on the table. "Dere it goes," he announced smugly, straightening his posture and watching the ball sink into the corner pocket. "It don' get better dan dis."
Logan scowled. "You didn't charge your stick, Gumbo? If you did, I'd have to do something about it."
The other man feigned a look of angelic innocence as he racked up the balls. "Gambit's always honest," he informed his old friend. Then he added with a wink, "When it comes to playing pool."
Logan rolled his eyes. The way the Cajun talked about himself in the third person was irritating at times. He sounded like he was speaking in code to an intergalactic, alien colony. However, whenever they were out at a bar together, there were always plenty of women who found it irresistible.
There's no accounting for taste sometimes, he thought, narrowing his eyes. He had even noticed that some of the female students, including his Jubilee, were making goo-goo eyes at the tall, good-looking man from the Bayou.
"I want a rematch, Gumbo," he announced, motioning for him to hurry in racking the balls.
"Sure, Gambit has time to beat Wolverine again," Remy replied, smiling broadly. He centered the balls in the middle of the table. Then he pulled the wooden rack away. "Finis. Solids or stripes, mon ami?"
"Lemme shoot first, then I'll decide."
"'Course, whatever you say."
Logan raised a brow at him and then shook his head. He walked to the other side of the table to line up his first shot. Watching the white ball collide into the multicolored ones, he noticed that he had knocked in two solids into opposite corner pockets. He sauntered over to Remy, nudging him.
"Looks like I'm solids again," he told him. He could not wait to show the pretty-boy how to play the game. "You're up, Cajun."
No response. Not even a snide remark.
It was then he noticed that the Cajun thief had a distant and cold expression on his face. The man's red-on-black eyes were focused on something on the other side of the recreation room. Logan decided to follow his gaze. He then realized that his friend was intently staring at someone.
Standing on the other side of the room, was Rogue, who was talking with Kitty and Kurt. Wearing a green-and-white baseball shirt that came to above her navel and faded jeans with slightly scuffed boots, she appeared to be dressed for comfort. However, her body language conveyed the opposite. She looked nervous. It was as if she knew she was being watched at this moment. She was playing with her black leather gloves idly as she spoke with her friend and her blue-faced brother. When Rogue was not doing that, she was pushing her bobbed hair towards her face.
Just then, Joseph entered the room. He immediately found Rogue and wrapped a possessive arm around her curvy waist. Like Magneto, he had an imposing presence because of his stature and shared the same white hair, patrician facial features, and piercing blue eyes. His hair was longer than his predecessor's, which he tied back in a ponytail. Since their vacation in Bali, his tan began to fade, but he still looked quite healthy. He was more of a formal dresser than his girlfriend, wearing a pair of slate-gray, wool slacks with a navy button-down shirt, and polished black loafers. It was no mystery why Rogue had been attracted to him.
Either he was unaware that they were being watched or he was quite adept at ignoring the stares, Joseph appeared to join in the conversation. Rogue seemed a little relieved that he was by her side now, but still uncomfortable. She turned her head into his shoulder so that Remy nor Logan could see it. At this point, she looked as if she were draped over the other man like an article of clothing. Logan also noticed that she was tugging insistently on her boyfriend's arm.
Probably to tell him she wants to get the hell out of here, Logan thought, leaning against the railing of the pool table. Not that I can blame her.
"Merde," Remy muttered bitterly. His eyes narrowed into razor-thin slits. Situations like this made him yearn for the isolation for Antarctica again. Being cold, alone, and dying was heaven compared to this everyday drama.
It was hard enough that Rogue refused to have anything to do with him since he came back. What was worse was seeing her with someone else. He felt as if a knife twisted into his chest every single time he saw them together. Someone else had her love and devotion. Someone else would be there to comfort her. Someone else would know what it was like to touch her. He should have been that someone.
It would have been easy to hate Joseph, to say nasty things behind his back, to spread rumors about the man's intentions toward the mansion, to doubt his feelings for Rogue. However, things did not work out that way for Remy and his new rival. Much to his dismay and surprise, he found himself actually liking the man. From what he was able to observe, Joseph was an honorable man. He was patient, open, and sincere. During his interactions with Rogue, Remy saw that Joseph treated her like a princess. He never teased her, never looked at other women, and never was coy about his intentions. Joseph proved to be someone she could depend upon.
Not like me, Remy inwardly spat. He could not remember a moment during his relationship with Rogue when they were not involved in heated arguments. It was difficult to make something work when the other person did not trust you completely. There were times he wanted to give up.
Yet, he had always come back to her. While Remy had had many loves before, he did not want anyone else. He had known lust and passion. However, things with Rogue were different. Despite the fact that they could not physically express their affection for one another, there was still a bond that was undeniable. She had been the first woman since Belladonna to hear that he loved her.
And what does she do? She gives up and run when she finds out I'm not perfect, he thought, placing his stick on the table. He could feel himself suffocating in just standing where he was.
"Why don' we play dis game later, mon ami?" Remy suggested, trying to hide the distress in voice and his face. He ran his half-gloved fingers through his thick, auburn waves. Then he began to make his way to the door. A nice walk would do him some good.
Logan instantly knew what was troubling his friend. Unlike Jean, he was not going to pry into someone else's personal business. If he wanted to, the Cajun was certainly not going to be receptive to that sort of thing. "Sure thing, Gumbo," he said, watching him leave.
Upstairs in the Summers' home, Jubilee was in her bedroom, reading the latest email from her former roommate, Paige Guthrie. The younger sister of Sam Guthrie and self-appointed leader of Generation X was now in Europe with their former headmaster, Sean Cassidy. After the dissolution of the Academy, Sean had decided to move back to Europe and to start a faction of the X-Men. Many like, Paige, Monet, and Jono, decided to join and continue their training. Jubilee, meanwhile, had been too young at the time and needed to continue her studies. As a result, Sean had decided it would be beneficial for her to return to the mansion.
Not that Jubilee was complaining. After her experiences with Bastion, she did not feel ready to go out and save the world once again. And, while she was attached to many of her friends and teammates from Generation X, she also missed those at the mansion. They had been the closest thing she had to a real family.
She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a pack of pixie sticks. According to the email Paige had sent, the group was now in London, England. They had just infiltrated a Neo-Nazi group, which had been behind several vicious attacks against mutants in the city. Paige described how she worked to insinuate herself into the group, using her abilities. Then she teamed up with Monet, Jono, and Angelo to undermine the group's plans to execute a mutant-rights attorney.
Jubilee tore open one of the sticks, ingesting the contents. Their lives sound so much more exciting, she thought, tapping the keyboard idly. The closest she was going to come to leaving the mansion was for Thanksgiving. Jean's parents were hosting dinner that year in Connecticut and invited them to come. Still, Jubilee did not mind the mundane quality to her holiday plans. Scott always seemed a little more antsy and flustered around Jean's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Grey, which was entertaining.
She was about type her response on her laptop when she heard a rapping noise at the windowsill. Curious, Jubilee walked to the other side of the room and pulled the gauze-like, cream-colored curtains aside. Opening the window, her eyes widened.
"I was wondering when you were going to let me in," Bobby Drake said in greeting. He quickly shed his ice-form body as he climbed inside her bedroom. Not affected by the cold outside easily, he was comfortable in a gray pullover, thermal shirt, jeans, and hiking boots.
Jubilee stared at him in disbelief, and then at the ice slide he created outside of the house to travel up to her window. Closing it and the curtains with a brisk snap, she informed him, "Scott is going to kill you when he finds your lovely forget-me-not out there."
Bobby shrugged his shoulders. "So, you guys have a lawn ornament for a few days. There are worse things."
He then stared around her bedroom. Before he had left to take care for his father, he used to spend some time up here, plotting many pranks. The walls were a creamy shade of white, which offset the modern floral prints and rosy solids of the canopy bed against the back wall. Pine furnishings, such as her desk, bookshelves, and side tables, complimented the walls and bedding. Framed photographs of various members of the X-Men hung on the wall along with movie posters. A cluttered bulletin board contained postcards, concert ticket stubs, photographs, notes, and magazine clippings.
She studied his face thoughtfully, noting he was observing his new surroundings. "You want to trade decorating secrets?" she asked, walking over to her CD player to turn down the volume. Her favorite U2 CD, Rattle and Hum, had been playing.
"Good taste in music," he commented, ignoring her teasing remark. Then he said, "I was in the area and thought I would stop by."
Jubilee offered him a pixie stick, which he took gratefully. "So, what's up?" she inquired, spreading out on her bed. She motioned for him to join her.
"Not much," he replied, taking a seat next to her. "I just got kicked out of the lab." Up until today, Bobby had been his friend's lab technician. He would spend the long hours in the lab, assisting his friend with data entry, the procurement of tools, and collection of samples.
"Let say that I knocked over several beakers while telling this story to Hank and that new doctor, Cecilia Reyes."
"Well, that and I think our Beast wanted to be alone with Dr. Reyes."
"Hey, Jubes, we all have our needs, you know."
She rolled her eyes at him, propping herself up on a pillow. "I don't even want to think about Scott and Jean like that and they're married," she told him. "Besides, I thought Dr. McCoy was above all that emotional, lovey- dovey stuff. At least, that's how he comes across sometimes."
Bobby finished his pixie stick. "Nope. He's a hopeless romantic, just like the rest of us."
Jubilee nodded. "I could see that. I mean, he's always reciting lines from poems all the time, even during Danger Room sessions." She paused, then said, "Somehow, I can't see you being romantic, Bobby."
He looked a little hurt. "What do you mean?"
She touched his arm and smiled gently. "It's just that you're always goofing around all the time," she explained, blue eyes sincere. "I can't see you being the passionate hero. You know, the guy who sweeps a girl off her feet and sends her in a tizzy."
"I'll have you know that many women find a sense of humor an extreme turn- on," he informed her huffily. "Also, I've had many girlfriends. They seemed to like it." For a while, he added silently, noting that these girlfriends were now exes.
"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," Jubilee said apologetically.
Bobby snorted, leaning back on the bed with her. "I don't need you pity," he said with mock pain. Then he turned to her and asked, "So what about you? Any action I should be looking out for during class? Any public displays of affection I should break up?"
"No, because one, I don't have any classes with you, and two." Her voice trailed off. She shook her head emphatically. "There isn't anyone. Not since Everett."
Everett had been the object of unrequited love for the young girl. Good- looking, charismatic, and intelligent, the young man had been everything she was looking for. He had been a member of Generation X until his untimely death. The loss hit Jubilee particularly hard, forcing her to wonder what might have been.
Bobby frowned with concern. He noticed how her mood suddenly became more somber. "Jubes..." He moved closer towards her.
To her credit, she was not crying. Never had she cried in front of anyone else besides Logan and Jean. She was certainly not going to do so in front of Bobby Drake. Instead, she sighed wearily against him.
"I guess I'm still waiting for that guy to sweep me off my feet," she said, laughing weakly. Immediately, she could hear Bastion's lackeys taunting her all over again. "But who would want to date a mutant freak?"
Bobby suddenly wrapped his arms around her, stroking her long, silky hair. He rested his chin against her forehead. His nostrils were filled with her scent, bubblegum and cinnamon. Then he whispered, "You're not a freak. Don't you ever say that. You'll find him, I promise, and he's going to be one lucky guy."
It was then he realized he was very close to her. This time, he was not uncomfortable. This time, he did not want to pull away. In fact, Bobby found himself to be very at ease and content as to where he was at this moment.
Outside of the Summers' farm-style, white clapboard house, a pair of red-on- black eyes glittered in the early evening shadows.
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