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 Twenty: Call and Answer
"If I have to listen to Scott go on and on about his romantic dinner with Jean, I'm going to freeze his lips together," Bobby Drake groused, shoving his hands into the pocket of his chinos.
Warren held up two suits while standing in front of the floor-length mirror in his room. "It's Valentine's Day, Bobby. He's just trying to do something romantic for his wife." He raised a brow as he scrutinized one of the suits. It was charcoal-colored, designed with side vents and a soft sloping shoulder that molds to the body for a comfortable and flattering fit. The lapel was rolled to the middle button, where the top button could be undone for a deeper gorge and a softer shape. The jacket was finished with flap pockets, pick stitching and a Bemberg lining while the trousers had double forward pleats and a seven-loop belted waist. "Does this say dashing, millionaire playboy or wannabe?"
Bobby rolled his eyes, ignoring his friend's solicitation for fashion advice. Instead, he cleared his throat and puffed his chest out. "You guys," he intoned in his best Scott voice. "I'm nervous because this is my first time really cooking for someone. I've got the whole menu planned out because I'm anal like that. First, we're going to have a zesty salad, then pan-seared scallops over linguini and a tomato cream sauce, and finally, chocolate chunk bread pudding. You think she'll like it? Oh, golly, I sure hope so. I've only been telling you guys about it for the last two hours because I am so whipped.
"If it's not that, then there was this going on." Then he paused before switching into another character, batting his eyes and swinging his hips. "Like, girls," he squeaked in his best Kitty voice. "Let's go out to the club and dance tonight. Let's set up a circle around our pocketbooks and dance around it. Screw guys. I just wanna dance!"
Warren's ice-blue eyes crinkled at the corners. He, too, had overheard Kitty lay out plans with some of the other female residents, including Tabitha, Sarah, Dani, Theresa, and Rahne, who was visiting from out of town. While she did not use that exact language, Bobby was pretty much on the money.
"And here's my personal favorite," Bobby said, setting up for his next impersonation. He placed the back of his hand over his forehead and sighed dramatically. "Oh, gawd.. What's a gal to do? Ah love ya, Remy, but Ah can't touch ya. Ah'm just gonna cry and have my way with Joeneto 'til Ah can decide what the hell to do." He then feigned loud sobbing.
"You know," Warren said, hanging the suit he had chosen for his date that evening on the closet door. "You're lucky they're at that bed and breakfast in Vermont. Otherwise, she'd kick your ass." Then he paused, his eyes widening in surprise. "Oh my God."
"It's finally happened."
"You've finally turned into that bitter, old man. Hank owes me money."
Bobby scowled at him. "I don't need to take your abuse," he told him huffily, heading to the door. "I can get abused somewhere else by someone who doesn't have bad taste in ties."
Warren laughed, waving for him to come back. "Oh come on. You're not the only one who can joke around." He watched his friend trudge back to where he had been standing before. "So I take it you don't have any plans for this evening?"
Bobby shrugged indifferently. "What's so special? It's like any other night. Maybe I can get Hank to come with me to shoot some pool and have some beers in town."
"Uh, he and Cecilia are going out to some foreign film in town." Warren pulled out his tie rack from the closet door. He picked out a blue-gray, silk tie and slipped it over the suit jacket hanging on the door. "Some French flick that's black-and-white.."
Bobby groaned. "That's it. I'm officially a loser."
Warren gave him a sympathetic smile, raking a hand through his wavy blond hair. "Well, there are other people staying in. Let's see there's the children.. No, wait. They're going out, too. But, there's.. No.. Well, I'm sure you can entertain yourself fine."
"You're officially on my s-list, Worthington."
"Sorry, I was trying to be helpful. Listen, I can call up Claire and see if she knows anyone.."
"No, thanks. A pity date is just as bad as having no date at all."
"I guess I could understand that."
"Why do I highly doubt that?"
"What does that mean?"
"Oh, come on, Warren. You of all people have no trouble with females. You've got the looks, money, and wings. Me, on the other hand.."
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You could have anyone you want if you put some effort into it. What about Emma? I see the way she looks at you."
"Yeah, like a cat going after a new scratch toy. That woman is scary. If we were dating, I'd be in desperate need of Logan's healing factor or a lifetime supply of Neosporin."
"Really? How would you know?"
"I did share a body with her in case you've forgotten."
"Right. Must have had the time of your life."
"If you call having your mind twisted around like silly putty loads of fun, then yes. Maybe you should ask her to do it to you. Then we'll see how you like it."
"Don't tell me you can't stand having her around now. You've always been a little ga-ga for Emma."
Bobby didn't answer him. He could still see Jubilee's face that day. There was bewilderment, confusion, and what he thought was sadness and disappointment. Though what she probably witnessed was brief, it seemed to be enough. For Bobby, it was difficult for him to look at her even after she arrived back from Paris. Every once in a while, they would pass each other in the hall. He would struggle to come up with the nerve to even utter two words to her, but found himself at a loss for words. Either that, or Gambit would "conveniently" be nearby to whisk her away.
Even the night visits to her room had stopped. He would pause in front of his bedroom window, which had the Summers' home in plain sight. Staring at her lit bedroom window, Bobby often ruminated about making a trip over to talk. He would rehearse breaking the ice (no pun intended), explaining why it was so difficult to approach her all those weeks, asking if they could be buddies again, and even throwing a joke in the mix. At the last minute, he would lose his nerve and turn away from the window for the rest of that evening. The rest of the night would be spent lying awake in bed, cursing his futility and willing himself to get over whatever it was inhibiting him. Then the ritual would start all over again the following night.
What was the most frustrating about the whole situation was that he felt he was blowing things out of proportion. He constantly questioned his reaction. Why was this bothering him so much? It wasn't as if he and Emma were in an especially compromising position. Also there was no way she could see what Emma was doing, he rationalized. Furthermore, it wasn't like he owed Jubilee an explanation. He was an adult, who could be in the company of anyone he chose. And, as Warren pointed out, he was also single, not accountable to anyone at the moment---certainly not to Jubilee.
"You look a million miles away," Warren observed, his voice breaking into Bobby's thoughts. He was in the midst of opening a mahogany box and searching for his Rolex watch. Then he added, "Not just now, but lately. Something you want to talk about?"
Bobby's gray eyes feigned puzzlement. "What are you talking about?" he asked, hoping that Warren would drop his investigation. He hadn't told anyone about what happened, nor was he intending to.
The taller man frowned at him, slipping on the watch. "It seems like something's weighing you down. You just seem like you've been preoccupied these past few weeks. Is there anything wrong?"
Bobby snorted. "You almost sound like Jean."
Warren shook his head at him. "I'm serious, Bobby. What's up?"
"Nothing.. I'm just.." Think of something or Warren's never going to drop it, he told himself. Suddenly, an idea raced through his head. "Um, Joel's bachelor party. You know, as the best man, I have to plan it and it's getting complicated. There are all these people to invite and make hotel accommodations for in Vegas. That, and it's only a month away."
Well, partially true, he said to himself. You still need to do that, by the way, Bobby.
Warren nodded, blue eyes not completely guileless. "I see," he said, hiding the suspicions in his voice. As one of Bobby's closest friends, he could always tell when his young friend was lying---the joking coupled with the lame excuses. He knew for a fact that Bobby had yet to make the arrangements for his cousin's bachelor party. No, there was definitely something going on, but Bobby seemed bound and determined not to talk about it.
Despite the light-hearted exterior, Warren, like Jean and Hank, was aware that there were a number of things that often haunted his young friend. There was the rocky relationship with his recuperating father, the failed romantic relationships, the self-blame for Madelyne Pryor's descent into madness. Yet, Bobby was insistent on stifling these things inside. Watching the young man struggle with whatever it was eating at him, Warren silently wished sometimes Bobby didn't feel the need to constantly "be on" all the time, acting as the team's source of comedy relief.
Bobby peered at Warren out of the corner of his eye and noticed a concerned look on his friend's face. Not wanting to be confronted again, he said, "Well, you should get ready for your date, Warren. Hell hath no fury like a woman kept waiting five minutes late---something I learned from Opal." He cracked a weak smile, which appeared more like a grimace than anything.
Before Warren could respond, Bobby was already out the door. The tall, blond mutant heaved a sigh and shook his head. Same old Bobby, he mused.
Bobby closed the door to his bedroom, sighing wearily. He walked over to his desk and flicked on the lamp. Staring up at him blankly were the Three Stooges bobble head dolls Jubilee had given him. He sat down in front of them, wrinkling his forehead.
"Well, guys, have any advice?" he asked pointedly.
The Stooges did not answer back.
"Larry? Curly? Moe? Come on. Give a guy a break."
Not even a nod.
"Just as well. Wouldn't be taking advice from you guys anyway." Then he rolled his eyes and groaned. "Great. Now, I'm trying to get advice from a bunch of dolls. I'm really losing it."
He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his temples gingerly, then raking his fingers through his sandy hair. His eyes darted around the room as he racked his brain of things he could do besides stare out his window at Scott and Jean's home, located across the lawn. He was determined not to put himself through that tonight.
There were the quizzes he had given out earlier this week---they needed to be graded. He gave himself a raspberry for coming up with that idea. TV? Nix that idea. Probably some sappy programming he didn't need to see anyway. His eyes briefly scanned his CDs, but soon realized there was nothing he really wanted to listen to anyway. The same line of thinking applied to the possibility of popping in a DVD.
After futile efforts of searching for other things to do, Bobby decided to wander downstairs to the kitchen. He knew that Cook had made an extra batch of gingersnaps before leaving for the night. Not exactly the best way to distract himself, but certainly a pleasant one. He immediately bounded down the stairs and made his way to the kitchen.
Along the way, he passed by one of the rec rooms and noticed that the lights were on and the plasma screen television and VCR were both on. It appeared as if whatever was currently playing had been stopped. The smell of buttered popcorn permeated through the air. Curious and somewhat hungry, he sauntered into the room. He approached the oversized, brown sofa and leaned over to greet the occupant. When he discovered who it was, Bobby was startled.
Jubilee looked up at him, blue eyes wide with surprise. "Hi," she greeted, a hint of wariness creeping into her voice. She was cradling a bowl of popcorn in her lap and a can of soda in her other hand.
"Hey," Bobby finally managed, straightening to his full height. It had been several weeks since he had even come this close to her, but she was still as pretty as ever. The purple roll neck sweater and faded jeans she was wearing seemed to deepen the blue in her eyes. Her long, silky hair with midnight blue streaks framed her delicate features gently.
After a brief silence, she nodded slowly and asked, "So, how's it going?"
Bobby pressed his lips together before responding. "OK," he replied, trying to hide his discomfort.
"You? I mean, how was Paris?"
She placed the bowl on the coffee table in front of her and then turned back to him. "It was great," she said softly, resting her cheek against the chino material of the sofa. "Someday, I'd like to go back.. It's an amazing city. I tried to talk Scott into a return trip for my birthday, but I think he pretended to fall asleep while I was asking."
Bobby smiled, realizing he was suddenly relaxed at that moment. There was something disarming about the young girl in front of him. Maybe this was the kind of effect she had Logan. It might explain why she was the only one in the mansion who could stand to spend long hours with the perpetual curmudgeon.
His gray eyes traveled to her slender neck, which was adorned with the necklace he had given her. He could feel his smile broaden, feeling quite pleased inside. She followed his gaze and fingered the pink beads, then the silver flower.
"I like it," she told him, almost as if to reassure him.
He nodded quickly, his eyes darting to the floor. Suddenly, he blurted out, "I'm sorry."
She frowned at him quizzically. "Bobby?"
"For.. For acting strange, Jubes. I guess for not talking to you for the last couple of weeks."
"I thought things were kind of weird since the last time we saw each other."
"Bobby, you don't have to.."
"No, Jubes. I don't want to lose a good friend because of some misunderstanding."
"Yeah.. I mean are we still friends?" He could feel his heart begin to race as he awaited her answer. This was not how he had envisioned things playing out.
Jubilee looked thoughtful, taking some time to carve out an answer. "I just always thought you saw me as that annoying kid you played pranks with. I never thought you saw me as anything else. To everyone, I'm still a child and nothing more."
It was Bobby's turn to be confused. "I don't think that," he said quietly, leaning over the sofa. "It's always been us against the rest of the mansion. You know, sticking together since we were the youngest. I've always thought of you as a friend, even when you were that whiny, skinny kid."
She rolled her eyes at him. "Gee, thanks."
His smile soon faded as he began to pick up where he had left off. "About that misunderstanding.."
"Bobby, you don't have to say anything. It's none of my business.." For some reason, she felt very uncomfortable. The idea of Bobby describing whatever he was doing with her former headmistress struck as kind of eerie and creepy.
He cut her off before she could say anything more. "I need to, Jubes. Just hear me out, OK?"
"OK," she said slowly.
His gray eyes flicked away from her face briefly, then returned to stare into her sapphire eyes. "Emma and I.. Nothing was going on. I want you to know that. It's important that you know that."
There was a pleading tone to his voice as he spoke, which was accentuated by the earnest quality in his gray eyes. Jubilee studied his boyish face carefully. There was nothing mocking or duplicitous, as she would first suspect of him (After all, here was the person who used to tease her constantly about how skinny she was). Just that it was essential for her to believe him at this moment. As she peered up at Bobby Drake, she realized that it was also important for her to believe as well. Looking up at him, she knew that she did.
Finally, she nodded. "It's OK, Bobby. I believe you."
He breathed a sigh of relief inside. Not able to express anything eloquently, he managed, "Thanks, Jubes." Then he peered down at the empty space on the sofa next to her and saw the opportunity to change the subject towards something less serious. "So what are you watching this fine Valentine's Day?"
"That's not really a romantic movie."
"I think that's the point."
"Ah, I see. Well, you mind if I join you?"
"I don't know if my date would like that."
"Your date?" Bobby tried not to express the shock he was experiencing at that moment in his voice. Granted, he had avoided her for several weeks, but he had not noticed her with anyone. Well, anyone except for Gambit and Logan. While Logan was more of a father to the young girl, the Cajun thief was kind of questionable. He was single and actively flirting with anyone female. However, he was pretty sure he had seen him leave the mansion for a hot date in the city.
Jubilee nodded, wondering what was eating at Bobby of all sudden. "Yes, my date," she repeated slowly, as if he had not heard her the first time.
Still reeling, he asked, "Anyone I know?" He immediately racked his brain for a list of other suspects. He had seen Sam Guthrie hanging around her the other day after one of the Danger Room sessions.
"Yeah. He's actually going to be back any minute." She tucked her feet underneath her. "He went to the kitchen to get some more sodas. That's why I have the movie on pause."
Bobby nodded stiffly. "Well, maybe I should.."
"Jubilee, there isn't any more Cherry Coke left," Carter announced, barreling into the rec room with two regular Cokes. The ten-year-old boy stared up at Bobby Drake in surprise. "Hello."
Bobby turned to Jubilee, resisting the urge to smirk. "Your date?"
Her sapphire blue eyes were guileless. "Yes, my date," she said, feigning defensiveness. "Carter and I are going to spend our night, gorging on junk food and watching movies. Isn't that right?"
Carter nodded, plopping down next to Jubilee. He handed her a soda and peered up at Bobby again. "Jubilee's my date," he informed him proudly. "She's my girlfriend."
Bobby grinned. "You're a lucky guy, Carter." He exchanged a sly look with Jubilee, who stuck her tongue out at him.
Jubilee turned to Carter, placing her soda on the coffee table. "Listen, would it be all right if Mr. Drake joins us for movie night?" she asked gently, the corners of her mouth curling into a smile.
The young boy's brows wrinkled together as he deliberated. Then he glanced at Bobby warily, showing how reluctant he was to go along with the idea. After a few moments, he drawled, "But I still get to pick the movies, right?"
"That was the plan."
Bobby seated himself next to Carter, still grinning. "Thanks, Carter. You won't regret it, kiddo." His gray eyes peered over at Jubilee, who flashed him a knowing smile.
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