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 Eight: Here Comes Your Man
According to Ororo, Kitty, and Kurt, yoga was the original mind-body workout. The postures, or asanas, helped to align their muscles and bones, which promoted a sense of unity and balance (something needed following exhausting Danger Room sessions or missions). They also found that practicing yoga strengthened their bones, increased flexibility, improved heart and lung functioning, boosted energy, and reduced stress. Being the spiritual one of the group, Kurt found that yoga had some less tangible benefits. From his own experience, he found that he developed more patience, compassion, and curiosity-tools that assisted him navigate life's many ups and downs.
That afternoon, the trio invited Rogue to join them. Both Kitty and Kurt expressed concern about their friend. Since Remy's return to the mansion, the Southern Belle had not been herself. She was less focused, more distractible, somber, and constantly on edge. They also noticed she was doing everything in power to avoid any interaction with the Cajun thief. She would schedule Danger Room sessions when he was not around. There was the fact that she and Joseph were taking their meals in their room, instead of eating in the common area. Kurt had even overheard her talk to Scott about assigning her to a different team; one that Remy LeBeau would not be on.
For her part, Rogue was willing to try anything to take her mind off her anxieties. Her usual workout involved weight training and kickboxing. She was finding yoga not as stimulating as she had hoped. Instead of feeling relaxed, she felt quite silly. All I'm doing is breathing and stretching, she thought woefully. How is this supposed to help me?
"Remember to breathe, Rogue," Ororo instructed, "each movement should occur on an inhale or exhale. Your breathing should be done through your nose and not your mouth."
Rogue watched the white-haired weather goddess straighten her body in the top of a push-up position, supporting herself on her hands and toes. "Ah don't know," she began, trying to emulate her friend. "Ah'm not feelin' any more at ease, y'all."
"It vill take time," Kurt assured her gently, exhaling. He was engaged in the child's pose. Pressing his lower back onto his heels, he was stretching his blue arms forward and resting his forehead on his yoga mat. This was his favorite pose since he found that it calmed his mind, opened his hips, and massaged his abdomen.
Kitty nodded emphatically. "Yeah, the results are gradual. Just trust us." She was now inhaling, dropping her stomach toward the floor as she lifted her pelvis, chest, and face toward the ceiling. A loyal follower of yoga for years, she considered herself an aficionado of poses.
Rogue gave her friend a cautious look, exhaling sharply. "Ah still feel like Ah'm doin' nothin'," she muttered.
Suddenly, the door to the workout room swung open. Logan, freshly showered from his workout in the Danger Room, strolled inside. He had changed into a pair of faded jeans, boots, and a white T-shirt. While his hair was still damp, those trademark points had already formed. His stony eyes widened slightly as he took in the scene before him.
"Joseph's a lucky guy," he remarked, raising a brow and watching Rogue shifting her chest forward and placing it on the floor between her palms with her chin on the floor.
She flipped herself on her back, hazel eyes blazing with indignation. "Ah don't want to hear it," she grumbled. Then she slumped her shoulders and sighed, turning to the others who were undoing themselves from their respective poses. "What do y'all say about callin' it a day?"
Ororo pulled up the strap of her light-blue tank top. "Fine idea," she replied, "we have been here for an hour already."
Kitty bounced to her feet and rolled up her purple yoga mat. "Great. I can make smoothies for everyone then. I got this cool recipe from the paper last week."
"Vat kind of smoothies?" Kurt asked, already heading towards the door with yoga mat under his arm. His yellow eyes appeared intrigued.
Following him, she said, "Peanut butter and banana. Sounds good, huh?"
Ororo tried to suppress a look of disgust. Her tastes did not dabble in such heavy ingredients. "I think I will pass," she told the younger woman, patting her arm kindly. "Besides, I need to work on my lesson plan for tomorrow's classes." She then slid between them to exit the room.
"I'm fine, Kit-Kat," Logan assured her when she turned her eyes to him. He exchanged a knowing look with Rogue.
Rogue nodded, catching on. "Me, too, sugah. Maybe another time."
"OK. More for us, Kurt." Kitty linked her arm with Kurt's, who still appeared fascinated with the idea of peanut butter and banana smoothies.
After they left the room, Logan shook his head. "I love the girl, but she could never cook." He leaned against the far wall across from his teammate.
Rogue smiled, pulling her knees to her chest. "To each their own, right?"
He stared at her, curious. "So what were you doing?" he asked. "Looked like you were dancing with the ground or something."
She smiled for what could have been the first time in several weeks. "Yoga," she answered. "They thought it might help with relaxation or somethin'. Ah just felt weird, y'know. Ah would have felt better hittin' a punchin' bag." She paused, her gloved fingers brushing against her lips. "Ah just sounded like you, Logan."
He snorted. "There's hope for you after all, Rogue."
She rolled her eyes at him and hunched her shoulders slightly. "So, did ya come to talk to me about somethin'? What can Ah do for ya, sugah?" Not that they were not friendly, but lately, she had chosen to avoid him since he seemed to be around Gambit all the time.
Logan crossed his arms over his broad chest. She was more perceptive than he had given her credit for. "What's up with you lately?"
"Ah don't know what ya mean, hon." Her voice became defensive. She clenched her fists, digging her fingernails into the palms of her hands.
"I guess I'm hallucinating when you run away from the Cajun."
"Ah still don't know what you're talkin' about. And, Ah don't run from anyone, ya hear?"
"Cut the crap, darlin'. What's your problem lately?"
She glared at him. "Ah don't see how this is any of your business," she snapped, rising to her feet and stomping towards him. "How Ah handle things ain't no concern of you or anyone else!"
He leaned towards her, his breath hot against her cheek. "Oh, it's my business, darlin'," he told her. "It's my business when our people are sent out on missions thinned out 'cause someone can't deal with her personal life."
Rogue sniffed, stepping away. She crossed her arms over her chest and asked, "So, whaddaya want me to do, sugah? What's your advice?"
"Act like an adult. Decide what you want."
At the moment, the door swung open. Joseph stood in the doorway, his face curious. "Am I interrupting something?" he asked.
Rogue could only stare at Logan open-mouthed, and then shook her head slowly at Joseph. Words seemed to fail her at that moment.
"Okay, whose turn to deal?" Warren asked, blue eyes narrowing in concentration.
"Mine," Scott replied, and Warren passed the deck of playing cards to his right.
While it was mid-winter in Westchester, the first snow had yet to fall on the grounds of the mansion. Instead, cold and bitter rain fell from the gray sky. Given the conditions outside, all of the residents remained inside the mansion. That day, Scott, Warren, Ray, and Bobby were seated around a small, round table in the center of one of the recreation rooms with Jono, a former member of Generation X who was visiting from Europe. To entertain their guests, Warren suggested a friendly card game. Mindful that were children in the mansion and not wanting to set a bad example, Scott insisted that no gambling take place. Minutes later, an open bag of salt 'n' vinegar potato chips laid open on the table and each card player had his own pile of potato chips in front of him. Warren placed two of his potato chips in the center of the table and Scott dealt the cards. The men eyed their cards and then eyed each other, looking for any sign of emotion.
Jono scratched the side of his nose, his fingers brushing against the navy bandages around the area where the lower half of his face should have been. I'll bet two chips, he told the others telepathically, placing two of his potato chips in the center. Your turn, Drake.
"Huh?" Bobby looked up from his cards. All that remained of his chip pile was a few scattered crumbs.
"Your turn to bet some chips," Warren informed him, shaking his blond head slightly. Typical Bobby. Some things never change.
The younger man looked down at the crumbs in front of him. "Uh oh," he said, grinning sheepishly. "I think I ate mine again."
"Bobby, for the last time, you can't eat your chips until we're all done!" Scott groaned, dealing his teammate a new pile of chips.
"I think I'll only bet two."
"You're just trying to save all your chips so you can eat them all when we're through!" Scott then turned to Warren and said, "Gimme four cards."
His old friend watched him toss four chips into the center pile. Always competitive, Warren decided to follow Scott's lead. "Hell, I'll bet five," he finally said.
A few hands later, Warren turned to Jono. "Do you want to draw any new cards?"
Let me think about it, Jono replied thoughtfully, using his psionic voice. Before making a decision, he briefly scanned the minds of the others around him. He started with the ever-competitive Scott Summers.
Hmmm, I think I'll stay in since I've got two aces, Scott said to himself inwardly, adjusting his ruby-quartz sunglasses. Jono moved onto his Bobby Drake. He decided to skip Warren since he was probably engaged in similar thinking as Scott. When he peered over at Bobby, he noticed that the New York native was smirking behind his cards.
What a dumbass! Jono hasn't even noticed that I stole, like, ten of his chips! Bobby thought smugly, brushing the crumbs from the sides of his mouth.
Jono frowned and narrowed his eyes in concentration.
Suddenly, Bobby felt a sharp, stinging pain at the base of his skull. He squealed, "Ow, my head!"
I think I'll fold, Jono told the others, placing his cards down. His brown eyes were solemn as usual.
After he recovered from his mysterious assault, Bobby gave Warren a quizzical look. "What's a Royal Flush again?" he piped up.
"It's when you have the ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace all in one suit," Warren replied, an errant lock of blond hair falling into his eyes. He knew that Bobby rarely played cards and did not mind helping him out every once in a while.
"And that's the highest hand you can have?"
An impish grin spread across Bobby's face ever so slowly. "Cool," he finally said.
The others glanced at each other.
"I'm folding," Warren announced, throwing his cards down. He was competitive, but he was also a shrewd businessman. He was not afraid to cut his losses.
"Me, too," Ray said glumly, following Warren's example.
Bobby's gray eyes turned uncharacteristically steely as he declared, "I'm not. In fact, I'm gonna bet all the rest of my chips." He then pushed his chip pile, which was suddenly the largest, into the middle of the table.
Scott found himself staring at the younger man in disbelief. He sighed resignedly. "I'm out."
"All right, I win again!" Bobby cried with childish glee as he drew the pile of chips nearer.
Suddenly skeptical, Scott was not ready to hear his teammate gloat. "Wait a minute," he interrupted, grabbing the younger man's arm. "What did you have?"
"A Royal Flush," Bobby answered innocently.
Scott wasn't entirely convinced, however. "Let me see your hand," he demanded sharply. Bobby held up his palms, forcing Scott to groan in frustration. "Your cards, smartass."
Bobby laid his cards facedown on the table and slowly pushed them over to Scott. He folded his hands in anticipation of the other man's reaction.
Scott's eyes carefully inspected the cards in front of him. His face suddenly became a shocking shade of pink. "King of hearts, two of spades, seven of hearts, ten of diamonds, three of cl.....Bobby, you don't have anything!"
"I know," Bobby flashed him a catlike grin. There was no one in the world he loved to irritate more than Scott-something he seemed to share with Logan. He could not explain the rationale, but Scott's response, usually centering on anger and irritation, was quite satisfying to say the least.
"Who would have t'ought that Iceman would pull a fast one on you, Cyclops?" drawled a husky voice.
Scott bristled, turning to the doorway to see Remy LeBeau leaning against the frame. He looked amused and aloof at the same time, shuffling a deck of cards. From the expression on his face, it was apparent that he had been observing the game for some time.
"Bobby was lucky. It's not likely to happen again." Scott answered through gritted teeth, ignoring Warren and Bobby's snickering.
Remy shrugged. "Seems like Iceman find luck in more than one place, mon ami." His red eyes peered over at Bobby, who appeared confused and somewhat indignant.
Scott was oblivious to the interaction between the two. "What are you talking about?" he asked.
"Mebbe you ask Monsieur Drake why his latest favorite song is 'Tank Heaven for Little Girls." With that, the Cajun thief turned on his heel and sauntered into the hallway.
Bobby clenched his fists at the table, unaware of the curious stares of his friends and Scott's immediate line of questioning.
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