saga/title/fandom: Homecomings

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-Two: If It Were Up To Me

"Hey, ump! Wassup?"

"What are you----blind? That was a foul, for sure!"

Scott's head jerked as he made his way down the steps towards his seat at the stadium. He had been away for a few minutes to call Jean, telling her that the basketball game was going into overtime and that he and the others were going to be late. Instantly recognizing the voice of Bishop, he regretted his decision to invite the brash time traveler with himself, Warren, and Alex to the Knicks vs. Celtics game at Madison Square Garden.

Warren had received four tickets for third-row seats from a grateful client of Worthington Industries. He decided to invite a group from the mansion for a "guys night out" in the city. Originally, the group was supposed to include Bobby, but he had dropped out when he discovered that Alex was going. While Scott could understand his teammate's resentment towards Alex, he had thought Bobby was over Lorna long ago. When Bobby announced his decision to back out, Bishop was nearby and asked about the basketball game. He explained that in his time, he had never heard of such a sport. Scott, in an especially generous mood that day, offered Bishop the extra ticket, not noticing Warren's expression of dread and irritation.

In retrospect, Scott wished he had picked up on Warren's nonverbal communication. At first, things were fine. Bishop was enjoying the sights and sounds of the arena. As the game went on, it became painfully obvious that Bishop had never been to a live sporting event before. He kept asking questions about the smallest detail of the game, much to Scott's annoyance. It finally got on his last nerve, forcing him to retreat from his seat to call Jean in order to get some reprieve.

While Bishop's behavior was annoying, Scott was somewhat troubled over the potential for a scene. It was no secret the brawny man had a temper, which often guaranteed violent and disastrous consequences. Too many times he and the others had the opportunity to observe him impulsively whip out his gun or making threats. Sighing heavily, Scott decided that for the sake of the group, as well as the other fans, Bishop would need to be subdued.

"Alex," he called over to his younger brother, "Alex, make him stop!"

Alex cupped a hand to his ear, blue eyes puzzled. He couldn't hear Scott through the roaring crowd and Bishop's insistent needling of the umpire. Warren, who was sitting next to Alex, leaned over and peered over at Scott. He grimaced and rolled his eyes when Bishop started throwing his fists in the air, hooting.

Scott raised his voice a little more. "I said make him stop!"

Alex held up a stack of five empty beer cups and pointed at them. Then he pointed at Bishop. He then shrugged and threw his older brother a look that conveyed, "There's nothing I can do."

"I don't care how drunk he is!" Scott shouted. "Shut him up!"

Glaring at Scott, Alex turned to Bishop. He leaned over and began to talk to him, gesturing to the people sitting around them. Bishop gave him a skeptical look and shrugged. He then stood up and starting jeering at the umpire again, much to the chagrin of those sitting around him. Alex turned back to Scott, shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

I really don't need this, Scott groaned inwardly, still making his way down the steps to his seat. Things around the mansion were crazy enough. As field team commander, he was struggling to make sure not only their missions were successful, but also that everyone on the team could work with one another.

There was the situation with Bobby and Alex. Since Alex had finished his dissertation and was waiting to graduate, he returned to the mansion as an instructor and team member. Despite the fact that Alex had broken off his engagement to Lorna and his repeated attempts at making peace, Bobby still refused to even utter two words to the younger Summers. He acted as if it was just yesterday Lorna had broken things off with him to be with Alex. While Bobby was known as the lighthearted joker of the group, evidently there were some things he was willing to let go. He went as far as to request that he not be on the same team as Alex during field missions.

Many times Scott had been tempted to call Bobby out, but was stopped by either Jean or Hank. The two had always coddled him out of concern when they were going through the ranks, much to Scott's irritation. As usual, he honored their requests and did not confront the young man about his behavior. There were times he wanted to ask the Professor to telepathically force Bobby into maturity. Other than the Alex situation, Drake continued to leave ice sculptures on the lawn in front of his house, which was annoying to take apart the next morning..

Then there was Rogue and Gambit. When the Cajun thief first returned to the mansion, Rogue had gone out of her way to avoid him. She participated in Danger Room sessions when she knew he was on mission. She also intentionally went on missions with teams that did not include him. For his part, Gambit seemed to take her actions in stride, not letting on whether they truly affected him or not.

Lately, however, things seemed to be a little less tense between the two. The two were seen intermittently talking in the hallways of the mansion, but these conversations appeared to be quite brief and less intimate. When Scott approached Rogue about the possibility of serving with Gambit on the same time for an upcoming mission, she muttered that she would if she had to. During the conversation, she refused to meet his eyes and soon stormed off, leaving Scott bewildered and confused.

Scott was fully aware of his own ongoing conflict with Logan. The two had not spoken to each other since he and Jubilee had returned from Paris, which was fine with Scott. Storm, second-in-command, was now recruiting him on missions with her, as if alleviating Scott of the responsibility. There was also the fact that Logan seemed to be more involved with other activities----Scott hardly saw him around the mansion as much as he used to. He had asked Jean in passing whether or not she knew what the loner was up to, she responded rather skittishly. Not being all that concerned about the situation, Scott refused to pursue the issue any further. All he needed to know that the man was in control of his emotions and could be depended on during missions.

Scott was five rows back when he suddenly heard a POP! Startled, he was prepared to replace his wraparound sunglasses with his visor. He stopped himself when he saw several players from the Knicks pointing at the seats where his friends were sitting. Bishop was slumped over in his seat, the basketball in his lap.

Warren picked up the basketball and inspected it. "Hey, Alex," he drawled, beaming. "We've got the game ball!"

Alex poked Bishop in the side of the head with his index finger. When the bigger man didn't move, the younger Summers brother shrugged and took the beer cup from his hand. "Guess he won't be needing this anymore."

Scott was struggling to squeeze his way through the crowd of onlookers to get to his friends. Almost immediately, the paramedics arrived to take Bishop away. Given the size of the time traveler, it took about three of them to lift him out of his seat and place him on the stretcher. The tight space of the seats also proved to be quite awkward as well, forcing one to block Alex's line of view.

Alex tapped one of them on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he piped up, placing his foam finger in his lap. "But could you move over a little to the left? I can't see the game."

"Now I can't see!" Warren groaned, blue eyes impatient. "You guys better hurry up! We're tied in overtime!"

Scott struggled to keep from smiling as he watched the paramedics carry the tall, muscular Bishop away on a stretcher. The people who had been sitting around him stood up and cheered. Well, all except for Warren and Alex. They were still waiting for the paramedics to get out of the way so they could watch the rest of the game. Sighing reprovingly, Scott motioned for Warren and Alex to accompany the paramedics. They pointed at themselves and Scott nodded. Alex gave him a pleading look, but Scott remained insistent.

Scowling, Warren and Alex stood up and began to gather their things. Both were making it very clear that they were unhappy about the situation. "This is so unfair," Warren snorted.

"You're telling me," Alex grumbled, pulling on his brown suede jacket and picking up his soda from his cup holder. "Why is it that whenever Bishop gets himself in a mess, the rest of us get dragged down with him?"

"Next time, we're leaving him at home."

"And crazy-gluing him to the floor."

Remy LeBeau pulled his brown leather duster closely over his lean, muscular frame as he trudged on the sprawling grounds of the mansion. His cigarette hung between his sculpted lips, gray smoke swirling around him. The frost from last night still covered the grass, crunching under his footsteps.

Logan smokes his cigars around the place and no one says anything, he grumbled inwardly. The man can smoke anywhere and anytime at this place. When Gambit lights one cigarette by the front door, everyone has something to say.. He winced as he remembered Storm and Jean chiding him for his "filthy habit" and "setting a bad example for the children". One femme admonishing him was bad enough, but two of them was all too much. Plus, they seemed to be using the same tone of voice when they were scolding him. Fortunately, he managed to make a graceful exit through the front door.

When he was turning around to leave, he saw Rogue at the top of the stairs. She appeared as if she had observed the entire scene. The Southern Belle was trying her best to look Stoic and indifferent. However, there was a faint twinkle in those green eyes----something he had come to know while they were dating. It always came when he had done or said something amusing. As he began to slip outside, she nodded her head firmly, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her red hooded sweatshirt.

While she was no longer actively avoiding him or acting hostile, there was the reality that she was with someone else and there was very little he could do about it. However, instances like that sometimes gave the former thief a sense of hope. He wasn't going to delude himself into thinking that she was suddenly in love with him and that all was forgiven. Too much time had passed for that to happen right away. Too many things had occurred. But, it seemed like for a brief moment, they had that understanding that was lost all those years ago.

He never realized how much he had missed her until he returned to Xavier's. Yes, he did think about her while he was away, but that was often clouded by feelings of anger and hurt. It took seeing her around the mansion with Joseph, being happy, that finally did it for him. He compared it to seeing someone else with a piece of jewelry you once had, but had to sell. Now, on another person, that piece of jewelry looks more desirable than ever.

The old Remy would have pursued Rogue, forced her to see things his way, use that Bayou charm to get to her. However, he restrained himself. He knew she was happy; there was no way he could deny that. She smiled and laughed more than he could ever recall when they were together. She let go of some of the inhibitions she had when she thought she could never touch another person. For that, she was enjoying life for the first time. Who was he to take that away? Why would he even think of doing that?

Because I love her, he told himself, flicking ash from his cigarette.

He reached the halfway point between the mansion and the Summers' house when he noticed a lone figure, standing under one of the great oak trees. The swirl of gray smoke billowed from the person's head, obscuring his or her face. Curious, Remy sauntered over to the tree. The only other smokers in the mansion were himself, Logan, Bishop, and one of the new recruits, Stacy X. Logan was at the movies with Jubilee, while Bishop had gone to a basketball with Scott, Alex, and Warren. Meanwhile, Stacy was in the Danger Room with Sam Guthrie and Kurt. As he drew closer, he was surprised at discovering the identity of the fellow smoker.

"Filthy habit, isn't it?" Joseph asked in greeting, tossing his cigarette on the ground and promptly stomping it out. He was dressed quite stylishly as usual in a gray, three-quarter-length wool coat over black slacks and shiny, black leather loafers. His silvery hair had grown out somewhat, but it remained short, brushing against the collar of his coat.

"Eh, what isn't, homme?" Remy tried to laugh, but could not muster the sound. Instead, he raised a brow at him and asked, "Rogue knows about dis?"

"No, she doesn't. I didn't even know I liked it until recently. I suppose it was something Magnus liked." He tapped the side of his head gently. "One of the things about being a clone with amnesia. You don't know what memories are yours and what memories are the original's."

Remy nodded. "Sometimes, it's good not to remember everyt'ing, homme."

Joseph frowned at him thoughtfully. "I have to say I disagree with you, LeBeau. You don't know what it's like having to carve out a life for yourself. At least you have your identity."

Remy snorted. "Hah. Gambit knows what it's like. More dan you know."

The other man stared at him for a moment. Then he nodded thoughtfully, realizing that the Cajun had his own share of struggling for survival in this world as well. He was all too aware of the circumstances of his banishment. It had been a great source of trauma and guilt for Rogue when they first started their relationship. Many nights he had spent, comforting her and assuring her that she was not a bad person; that she was not to blame; that she had a right to be happy. Recently, he found himself in the same position, right after her former lover returned. Yet, he continued to be by her side to comfort and support her, despite nagging doubts and ruminations about the possibility that he might lose her. For her part, Rogue remained faithful to their relationship, refusing to even bring up her past with Gambit. Looking back, Joseph was not sure if this necessarily signaled her commitment.

After a brief silence, Joseph suddenly asked, "Do you still care for her?"

Remy smirked, turning his back to the other man to smoke his cigarette.

"I think I'm entitled to know." Joseph's voice was suddenly cold and forceful.

The tall, lean Cajun turned to face him, red-on-black eyes blazing. "You t'ink you're entitled? What makes you t'ink dat, homme?" His own voice was uncharacteristically raised.

"Because I love her."

Remy's insides froze. He struggled to regain his composure. "What you say?" he asked, slipping the cigarette from his lips. His hand was suddenly shaking uncontrollably.

"I love her."


"I love Rogue."

"I t'ink I heard you de first time, homme."

"I would never hurt her for anything in the world."

"What makes you t'ink Gambit wants to hear dis?"

"Because in spite of you wanting to see us apart, you want her happy."

Homme not as stupid as he looks, Remy mused, resisting the urge to smile. "Dat mebbe true," he said coolly, flicking the ash from his cigarette.

Joseph watched the other man continue to smoke. "You never answered my question."

Remy raised a brow at him and said flatly, "Gambit never said he would."

Joseph narrowed his eyes. He considered telling him how happy he and Rogue were together. He thought about informing him how Rogue never talked about him anymore. Following seconds of deliberation, he decided to be the bigger man and made his way to the mansion wordlessly.

As he watched Joseph's figure walk briskly a few feet away from him and towards the mansion, Remy slipped the metal collar he had taken from the laboratory. It would be so easy to place it around Joseph's neck without him knowing----use a charged card, pour on the charm. It would be so easy to watch Joseph lose his powers. It would be so easy to sit back and watch the other man touch Rogue without the magnetic field he created as a barrier and suddenly pass out in shock. So very easy, indeed.

Remy exhaled bitterly, cigarette smoke escaping from his lips. He stared down at the metal collar in his hand. Another time. Another place.

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