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-Nine: King of Pain
Scott Summers adjusted his ruby-quartz, wraparound sunglasses nervously, sitting back in the metal chair across from Jubilee's bed in the med-lab. No longer in his black leather field uniform and visor, he was now dressed in a striped, banker shirt, a pair of gray wool slacks and a pair of black loafers. It had been several hours since he and his team had returned to the mansion from their mission, bordering on late afternoon.
After debriefing the Professor as to how things had went, he and Jean immediately went to the med-lab area. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, Jubilee had fallen asleep. However, they were able to meet with Hank, who assured both of them that she was fine and was only resting comfortably. The blow she had received from Sabretooth was not severe enough to cause any trauma to her skull or any other injuries other than the bruise on her forehead. After conducting a mental status exam, Hank was relieved to find that her memory and other cognitive abilities were perfectly intact.
Scott decided to relieve an exhausted Gambit from keeping watch over the young girl. He thanked him for saving Jubilee, noticing how quiet and subdued the usually gregarious Cajun thief was. If he weren't so concerned about Jubilee, Scott would have asked what was going on with Gambit. However, he quickly dismissed it as the New Orleans native being preoccupied with Rogue.
Scott rubbed his chin wearily, the stubble rough under his fingers. When Rogue had informed him about what had happened, he had been tempted to take the Blackbird back to Westchester. Her assurances that Jubilee was fine were not sufficient enough for him. He needed to know for himself that she was not badly hurt. As soon as he was able to sit in the room with her, his anxiety for her well being had faded. Now, he could see for himself that she was safe and that she was doing fine.
What was distressing was the fact that Creed had actually gotten on the grounds in the first place. While Gambit reported that Logan was dealing with him, a survey of the grounds and the surrounding areas by Rogue and Storm in the air turned up nothing. Jean attempted to locate the two men by using her telepathy, but was only receiving faint, vague information. However, she was able to reassure Scott that Creed was far from the mansion.
Scott was at first undecided as to who he was more furious with--- Sabretooth or Logan. The former, he knew, was quite capable of terrible things. The man was a psychopath, who fed on the pain and anguish of others. During their many clashes, Scott had the opportunity to observe that side of the man. While it was horrifying what could have happened, it was not surprising that Creed was about to rape Jubilee for entertainment while waiting to attack Logan.
Then there was Logan. Scott was well aware that the man had become quite peeved because he perceived that he was being replaced. Even though he never explicitly said anything, Scott could still sense the other man's resentment towards him. It was obvious in the way Logan looked at him, especially when he and Jubilee were together. Yet, as much as Logan claimed to care for the girl, to be angry over not being the number one man in her life, he was not here by her side. Instead, he chose to take revenge against an old enemy. It was as if he would rather get some of his aggression out than be there for Jubilee.
Looking at her now, Scott was reminded of his own son, Nathan, and the rush of feelings he experienced when he and Jean were caring for him. It was a mixture of love and the feeling that he would lay down his own life in order to ensure the child's safety. When he and Jean had discussed their options the evening before, he could tell his wife shared his sentiments as well. Before this incident, they had been talking about starting a family. He had expressed reservations, uncertain of his readiness to be a father. Sitting with Jubilee now, Scott realized that he was more than ready.
Scott quietly rose from his chair, leaning over the railing of the bed to check on Jubilee. Then he slipped outside the room to grab a bottle of water. His mouth had grown increasingly dry like cotton.
As he strode towards the kitchen in the laboratory, he noticed Jean, in her short-sleeved, fuchsia sweater and navy, A-line skirt, talking quietly to someone in the doorway. Her facial expression reflected concern while she was engaged in this conversation. Venturing closer to where she was standing, Scott's mouth formed a frown. He made it clear he was not pleased when he finally reached her side.
"Oh, Scott," Jean said, turning her face to meet his. She extended a graceful hand to hold his. Immediately, she could sense her husband's irritation.
He took it, grasping it tightly. "Hello, Jean." Then he turned to the other person she had been talking to. "Logan." His voice was steely as he addressed him.
Logan raised a stony brow at him. "Cyclops." He looked like he had been dragged to the gates of hell. His dark hair had been rumpled. The clothes he was wearing---worn leather jacket, red flannel shirt, gray T-shirt underneath, and faded jeans with boots---were torn in different places. While Logan appeared to be unhurt thanks to his healing ability, there were patches of dried blood, mud, and grass stains on various spots of clothing. He appeared haggard, his face drawn with lines. It was almost as if he aged some additional years since the last time Scott had seen him. Apparently, dealing with Sabretooth the night before took some years off of him.
Logan narrowed his eyes. He could tell the choir boy wanted to say something at that moment. However, he could tell One-Eyed was holding himself back because Jean was around. "I'm goin' in to see her," he finally announced, deciding that he had enough confrontations for the time being. He slipped between the couple and began to make his way to the room where Jubilee was staying.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Scott called over his shoulder. Jean gave him a quizzical look.
Logan turned around, scowling. "Why the hell not?" he demanded.
Scott crossed his arms. "She's asleep."
Logan shrugged. "Don't worry, Cyke. I'll be as quiet as a church mouse. Besides, I want to see her for myself."
Just as the other man was going to enter her room, Scott asked, "Where were you just now?"
"Scott.." Jean looked up at her husband with pleading eyes. Not now. Please.
Logan's face was as cold as the steel walls of the area. "Why do you need to know?" he countered.
The bespectacled man shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "I was just curious. I mean, after finding out that Jubilee was hurt, I would have thought you would be by her side."
"I had somethin' to take care of." Logan's response even sounded cryptic to him.
"Sabretooth? How did that go? Did you win?" Scott pressed his lips together.
Logan narrowed his eyes as he sauntered where Scott and Jean were standing. "Where are you going with this?" he asked cautiously.
"I'm concerned about Jubilee's safety."
"So am I."
"Really? Hard to tell since you decided to go after Sabretooth instead of taking care of her. Fortunately, Gambit was around to do what you couldn't."
"You weren't even there. You don't know."
"You're right. But I do know while I would have wanted to tear Sabretooth apart, I would have taken care of her first."
"I was taking care of her."
"Getting revenge was taking care of her?"
"It's not about that, and you know it. I care about that kid more than you know. More than anything in the world."
"Oh, come on, Logan. You care more about how the slime ball violated your turf than you do about Jubilee. That was clearly evident when you took off to have it out with him. I think she's been through enough already."
"Go to hell, Cyclops."
"It's true, isn't it?"
"Shut up. I did what I had to do."
"And what exactly was that?"
"Makin' sure that piece of trash never hurts Jubilee again."
"By abandoning her to satisfy your violent urges? Real effective, Logan."
"Look, pal, you can take your accusations and shove them up your.."
Before Logan could finish his sentence, Jean jumped between the two men. She placed her palms on both of their chests in the hopes of preventing any physical confrontations. "Stop it, both of you. All of this is not helping." She glared at Logan first, then at her husband. "No one but Victor Creed is to blame for what happened to Jubilee. And, it doesn't matter how one of you would have handled the situation. The important thing is that she's going to be fine.
"It's clear that the two of you love her," the statuesque redhead continued firmly, "She knows that. So, it shouldn't be some sort of sick contest between the two of you.. But Scott's right. She's been through enough already. How is seeing the two of you fight supposed to make things better? It's not going to change anything."
Scott pursed his lips, wincing slightly at his wife's tirade. Deep down, he knew she was right. The last thing Jubilee needed was to awaken to the sound and sight of him and Logan arguing. She was probably still shaken up about facing off with Creed. However, there was a part of Scott that was very wary of allowing the loner anywhere near her at this moment. Logan was a wild man, a savage. Logan was the one who was more concerned about handling situations with violence.
He was also a man who clearly loved the child. As much as Scott wanted to tell Logan that he could not see her, he could not deny how the other man felt about her. He was also forced to admit that their relationship had been a source of stability for the both of them. Perhaps seeing Logan would be reassuring to Jubilee.
Scott stepped aside from the doorway, sighing. He couldn't stand it when he was wrong. It made things harder for him to let go. Things made less sense to him. There was also his pride to think about as well. Gruffly, he said, "Jubilee's down the hall. Remember, she's sleeping."
Logan eyed him cautiously. While it wasn't an apology, it was probably the closest thing he was going to receive to the proverbial olive branch from Scott Summers. In response, he nodded. Then he turned on his heel to walk to her room.
Jean gave her husband an encouraging smile. "Now was that so hard?" she inquired while kissing the back of his hand gently.
Scott sniffed haughtily. There was a part of him that theorized she had something to do with his softening. Instead of calling her on it, he gritted his teeth. "You have no idea, Jean."
"Come on," Jean said, struggling to hide a smile and leading him to the elevators to the main floor. "Let's go ask Cook to make up some of those strawberry pancakes Jubilee likes. Maybe if you're still a good boy, I'll ask her to make some for you."
Logan quietly opened the steel door. The smell of antiseptic immediately flooded his nostrils as he closed it behind him. He hated this part of the mansion. It always brought back memories of his surgery all those years ago. He stiffened involuntary, trying to shake his head of those vivid thoughts.
"Did you catch the bad guy?"
Logan's eyes widened when he saw Jubilee sitting up in the hospital-style bed. Other than the small bruise on the side of her forehead, she looked no worse for wear. He walked to her beside, taking a seat in one of the metal chairs next to her. Looking at her now, she appeared quite small and fragile, almost like the little girl he had met in Australia all those years ago and not like the older child he had returned to.
He exhaled loudly, trying to muster a carefree grin. Quickly, he stopped himself since he knew it was not his style. "You scared me, kid," he said, taking both of her tiny hands in his. "How are you doing?"
Her sapphire blue eyes peered down at the rough, weathered hands that held hers. "My head hurts and the rest of me feels like someone sat on me for hours. Other than that, peachy." As she struggled to change her position, she winced slightly.
He sighed. "I'm sorry."
"For what? Last time I checked, it was Sabretooth who knocked me out, not you." She studied him quizzically.
He shook his head emphatically. "No, I didn't. But in a way, it's my fault."
"How so?" she asked, still confused.
"Because of me, he attacked you. He was trying to get to me." Logan's shoulders slumped dejectedly. "If I hadn't come back, you wouldn't have gotten hurt. You would be safe and sound."
She leaned against the overstuffed pillows that were propping her up. Her expression was one of disbelief. "What? That's not true."
"Let's face it," he said flatly. "I'm not good for you, kid."
She shook her head, still surprised. "That's crazy. None of this is your fault. You didn't make him attack me."
"But still, kid.. All those times the bastard's got to you, it was all because of me. It's the story of my life, Jubes. Everyone I care about gets hurt or worse."
"I'm OK, though."
"This time, but what about the next time? Seeing you like that, I.. I don't think I was ever so scared in my life."
"You were scared?"
"Yeah, kid. I was scared. You were hurt really bad and I thought I was going to lose you. Now, it goes to show that I'm no good to anyone. You're better off if I left. I'd just attract trouble."
"If anything, you're good for me, Wolvie."
"How do you figure?"
"Well, when Sabretooth first came out at me, I was so scared. I don't think I could remember the last time I felt like that. Honestly, I was hoping it was some kind of bad dream. Then it became really clear that it wasn't. So, I had to think of what you would do. I knew you would want me to fight him, not to be his victim. I wanted to be brave for you. I wanted to show you I could try to take care of myself. So I paffed him with everything I had."
"I saw your handy work. His healing abilities weren't helping him grow his hair and eyebrows back."
"Cool." A small smile of satisfaction crossed her pink lips. She wasn't able to reflect on the harm she had inflicted on him since Creed immediately dealt the blow that knocked her out. From the tone of voice Logan had used, he sounded somewhat proud of her.
The two of them lapsed into silence for a few minutes. Logan pulled the steel railing of the bed down to get closer to her. He tried to absorb what she had said. He wanted so desperately to believe what she said--- that he was good for her, that he had helped her to survive her encounter with Creed. However, there was that ever-present negative voice inside of him, filling him with doubts. To him, he was still that savage monster he had always been.
"Where were you? I'm not mad. It's just that I was really worried about you. Sabretooth doesn't really take it easy on adults, either."
"I'm OK, kid. I took care of him."
"You did? Well, how?" One thing that the older Jubilee never outgrew was her love of Wolverine's stories about fighting the bad guys. To her, they were better than any Grimm fairy tale.
He stared into those lovely, sapphire blue eyes. There was a richness and sparkle to their color. While they reflected a mature quality to their owner, there was still a sense of childishness to them as well. They were hypnotic, ensnaring Logan into their depths. Every time he looked at them, he could not help but to be candid. They made it hard to protect her from him sometimes.
"I.. All you need to know is that I took care of it." Logan's gaze went to the corner of the bed.
Jubilee frowned at him. "What does that mean?" She didn't like how he was being evasive just then.
He shrugged. "It means I took care of it."
It was then she completely took him in. Logan's healing ability helped to erase any evidence of scarring, blood, or bruising. His clothes, however, were more indicative that he had been engaged in a struggle. Torn, and caked with mud and grass stains, it was obvious they had seen better days. She also noticed something else.
Blood. Lots of blood. Dried patches almost everywhere.
Logan followed her stare. Then he bowed his head down, unable to even meet her face. He attempted to pull his hands from hers. He was surprised to find the kid had a tenacious grip. Clearly, she was not going to allow him to wriggle away so easily.
"Wolvie? Wolvie, what happened?" Gone was the hint of the child he thought he saw before, replaced by the older Jubilee.
Logan shook his head. "Kid.."
"Please. You don't need to protect me." Her voice was placid and solemn. She took a deep breath and said, "Wolvie, did you.. What happened? What did you do?"
Logan looked up at her face. There was no judgment, no fear, and no revulsion. Instead, there was only concern. As much as he wanted to hold back from her, he found himself slowly breaking down his wall of inhibitions. He cleared his throat, hoping that he would be able to finish what he was about to say.
"I wanted to protect you," he began quietly, "I wanted to make sure that bastard never got his hands on you again. He even told me that if he had another chance, he would try to get to you. Everyday, every hour, every minute, every second, I would have to look over my shoulder, worried if Creed was out there, lurking. I couldn't let him hurt you again, kid. I decided to make sure it would never happen."
He looked away from her face; his own filled with the weariness that constantly tore at him. "After Gambit took you away, Creed and I kept fightin'. Then I got the better of the bastard. I had him right where I wanted him. That look on his face---I had him, kid, and he knew it. My claws were out and ready to shred him into a million pieces. I was so pissed I could see myself doin' it. I could see myself covered with his blood and not carin' 'cause I kept you safe. Jubes, I lost it."
She waited for him to go on. When he did not do so immediately, she asked, "Then what?" Part of her wanted him to stop right there, her own imagination filling the blanks. The images that filled her head were bloody, violent, and contained much of the rage she knew Logan was capable of. However, she needed to know for sure what truly occurred. She wanted to believe that something else happened.
"Then I saw your face. I kept seein' how afraid you would be. I kept seein' how disgusted you would be.. I couldn't have that either. It hurt more than anythin' else. More than any fight I've been through, more than seeing you grown up and not being that little girl anymore.. And, as angry as I was and as much as I wanted to make that mothaf***er pay for what he did to you and for what he was saying he wanted to do to you, I knew I was gonna lose you if I killed him. You would always look at me and think of me as some wild animal to be scared of. That was the last thing I wanted.
"So I stopped myself. It was hard, but I did it. The piece of trash was still out cold. I still had my chance to take care of him."
Jubilee inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. In spite of his past dealings and what others around the mansion thought of him, she always believed that there was a rational side of him that could transcend the violent part of him. It sounded as if the rational side of him won the night before. Still, there was the question as to what exactly happened to Victor Creed. Since Logan chose not to kill him as he wanted to, then what? Her brows were raised expectantly as if to tell him, "Go on".
Logan took his silent cue, sighing. "So I dragged him to the hangar and threw him in one of the jets," he said, picturing himself tie up Creed with ropes and chains he had found nearby. "Then I pulled a Rogue."
"A Rogue?" The young girl gave him a funny look. "What does that mean?"
"I dropped Creed over Antarctica. Figured all that hair's gonna keep him warm." Logan smirked at his own joke. "Anyway, it's gonna take him a while to get outta there." While he sympathized with Gambit for being left isolated and with no means of surviving, his blood ran cold for Creed. With no means of surviving the cold, desolate land or leaving, the bastard was going to be lucky to die quickly. No food or shelter and dropping temperatures all combined to make things quite difficult. If Logan weren't so upset now, he would have smiled.
After a long silence, she said softly, "You did good, Wolvie."
It was his turn to give her a funny look. "Kid, I almost got you killed. Because of me, that jerk attacked you and hurt you. How is that good?"
"I'm not talking about that. That was never your fault. I was talking about how you handled Sabretooth."
"What do you mean?"
"It means that you didn't let the animal out. You said it yourself. You could have easily killed him like that. But you didn't. You proved that you're better than that."
"Better than that?" He shook his head. "You're better off without me. Kid, I'm just damaged goods. Always have been; always will be. You don't need that."
"No, that's not true. You saved me tonight. You took care of that monster." Her smooth, warm palms cupped his face gently. "Why is it so hard for you to believe that you're not the failure you think you are? You always strive for this ideal---a model of courage, honor and valor. But then you discount it because you think you're nowhere near that. You become so consumed with those thoughts that you don't see that you've already achieved this ideal. It's like it's easier for you to hide in your self-doubts than to admit that you're worth something."
As much as he wanted to dismiss what she had just said, her words rang with a certain sense of truth. He did do all those things. After being regarded as some kind of wild savage who was viewed as some kind of science experiment gone terribly wrong, it was hard not to think that way. He simply ingrained that into his daily mode of thinking. He was a freak and an animal not capable of anything other than killing. There were many in his past that could attest to that.
Yet, he could tell from the way the girl was staring into his face that she could see some light. Jubilee was speaking from her heart and from her own experience knowing him after all this time. She never stopped believing in him even during those years he had been away. If she saw hope in him, maybe it was worth considering.
Logan exhaled loudly as his shoulders slumped slightly. He nodded in her direction. "Got any room there?" he asked, referring to the bed she was resting in. "I'm tired."
"You've had a long night," she commented, shifting to one side. Then she patted the vacant spot invitingly. "Just don't drool on me."
He grunted at her, climbing into the bed. Wrapping an arm around Jubilee's slim shoulders, Logan pulled her head to his chest. He then closed his eyes. As he drifted into slumber, he could not recall the last time he had felt so at peace in some time.
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