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 Thirty: All I Want

"So, how does it feel to have your wings clipped?" Bobby asked his newly married cousin wryly as they walked with Warren to the wine bar in the spacious reception hall of the Long Island country club the Drake family belonged to. His gray eyes peered sheepishly at his friend. "No offense, man."

Warren shrugged, quite used to Bobby's sense of humor. "None taken, Bobby."

Joel finished ordering three glasses of Chardonnay from the bartender. He turned to his friends and shook his head. "If you're referring to me officially committing the rest of my life to the woman I love, it's pretty good."

Bobby made a face. "Officially committing the rest of my life to the woman I love?" he mocked, leaning against the wood railing of the bar. "Have you been reading her Harlequin novels again?"

Joel smirked, passing him a glass of wine. "This coming from the man whose idea of romance is a bucket of fried chicken and watching reruns of The A- Team," he teased. He and Warren laughed.

Bobby feigned sarcastic laughter of his own. He then imbibed most of his wine in one sip. "Some chicks like that kind of stuff," he responded defensively, "Besides, I haven't had time to refine my skills at romancing."

Since that night he was confronted by Gambit, Bobby made a conscious effort to focus his attention on Joel's wedding. Not that he had a great amount of responsibility as the best man. Besides keeping the wedding bands and writing up a witty speech for the reception dinner, there was not much for him to do. Well, there was his offer to do stand-up at the reception, but Joel would have nothing to do with that.

The end result was a picture-perfect Protestant ceremony at St. Paul's with all the details set into place. The groom and his groomsmen in their traditional tailored black tuxedos. Bobby had wanted to wear a Hawaiian shirt under his, but was promptly scolded by his mother and the other women involved in the wedding planning. Joel's wife looked radiant walking down the aisle in a strapless, cream-colored gown with a long train and hand- made, French-lace veil. The flowers at the church---cream-colored roses with baby's breath---had been arranged throughout the church, complementing the soft music from the string quartet hired. Vows were tenderly exchanged without any dramatic pauses. After an hour, the bride and groom triumphantly marched down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs. Joel Drake.

His mother and his Aunt Cathy had taken care of much of the preparations with the bride's family. Mrs. Drake had recently taken up baking special cakes as a hobby and provided her services to her nephew. Here at the reception, she baked a four-tiered, white cake with Nutella filling and lemon-butter, white frosting. The decorative piece of the cake was two white doves, spun from sugar.

Unfortunately, the dearth of duties left Bobby with plenty of time to ruminate. Time to ruminate about things left unsaid. Time to ruminate about feelings he still carried despite his efforts to push them aside. Time to ruminate about someone he wanted to be with desperately.

As soon as he was on the road, he regretted not being able to see Jubilee before he left for home. His nightly visits had become a ritual for him, something he looked forward to at the end of the day. It was during those visits that he truly felt at ease. There was no anxiety about needing to perform his role as the clown. Being Bobby Drake was fine enough for Jubilee.

Many times he found himself considering dialing up Scott and Jean's phone number to talk to her in order to explain things. There were times when he had his cell phone in hand, ready and waiting to hear her voice again. Each time, there was always something that forced him to hang up as soon as the second ring came.

His own internal resolve that in the end, Gambit was right.

Bobby narrowed his eyes, finishing off the rest of his Chardonnay. No, he affirmed to himself inwardly, things are better this way. She'll be happy and I can be miserable for the rest of my life---like it should be.

"Hey, slow down, Bobby," Warren said, a worried frown creasing his blond brows. In all the years he had known Drake, he had never seen him down a drink quite that fast. Even during their trip to Las Vegas, Bobby did not guzzle his alcohol.

Joel grabbed the empty wine glass from his cousin by the stem. "Yeah, slow down---until after you give your speech. Then you can get blasted all you want." He met the gaze of his wife who was talking with her parents and his sister, Mary. He waved to her, instantly receiving her mental summons. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm needed for a family gathering."

Warren watched the shorter, balding Drake cousin strut towards the other side of the room. "I don't know if I'll ever get where he's at," he mused, loosening his blue-gray silk tie.

Bobby looked quizzical. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"You know, settle down with one woman for the rest of my life." Warren took an olive martini puff from a passing waiter.

Bobby observed Warren's date, Paige Guthrie, who was dancing with Hank on the dance floor. The two made an odd couple---a lithe blonde in a sleeveless, cotton navy gown with a slit up the side and black heels with a blue, feline-like creature in a black tuxedo and white shirt that barely fit his large, hulking frame. "So, Paige is just someone to occupy your time?"

"I didn't say that," Warren shot back. He shrugged after a moment of silence between them. "It's just that I don't know where things stand with her. I don't know if we would get to the point where we'd be here." He waved a tanned hand at the reception hall.

"I didn't know you were feeling pressured to settle down, Warren," Bobby teased.

The taller man took a sip of his wine. "I'm not. But it's something I think about sometimes. Seeing Scott and Jean, and now Joel, I wonder if I could find that kind of happiness with someone; the person that makes you feel whole and completely right for this world. You've got to admire those people who have that kind of contentment with another person."

Bobby suddenly felt uncomfortable---his palms began to sweat and his bow tie was almost constricting his airway. He had not confided his feelings about Jubilee to Warren or Hank, whom he considered his closest friends. Hearing Warren speak just now, Bobby felt as if the other man knew. He tried to shake his paranoia off, reminding himself that Warren was no psychic.

Quickly, he decided to change the subject. "So, where have you, Hank, and Paige been? We had the rehearsal dinner last night and none of you showed. What gives? I needed moral support for my part as the best man."

Warren took another sip of his drink. "Sorry, but there were some things happening back at the mansion."

"Like what?" Bobby demanded, motioning for his friend to follow him to the other bar where beer and other alcoholic drinks were being served. When they arrived there, he ordered a Newcastle and began to ice the glass to his liking.

Warren finished his wine and placed his glass on the bar. "Like Sabretooth getting on the grounds of the mansion," he replied, contemplating whether or not he should have another drink. After a few seconds, he broke down and requested a martini.

"Oh man," was the only thing Bobby could think of to say. While he never had the pleasure of taking on Creed, Bobby was aware of what kind of violent psychopath the man was. Most of the information he received was primarily from Logan and the Professor. One of the anecdotes Logan shared during a debriefing session involved Sabretooth taking out an entire Inuit village, including women and children, just because he was bored. In short, this was not the type of guy a person wanted to bring home to meet their family.

"Yeah. He took out one of the cameras so security never knew he was around."

"Yikes. So, I take it Logan was around to take care of the sleaze?"

"What do you think? Like he'd let anyone else get a piece of his old buddy?"

"How foolish of me. I should have known. So, all of you had to stay behind to clean up whatever Logan left of Sabretooth?"

"Not quite."

"Well, then what?"

"I stayed back to help Rogue track down one of the X-Jets--turns out Logan took one to drop Sabretooth over Antarctica...."


"And Paige stayed back to debrief Scott about the breach since she was on security detail at the time. She still blames herself, even though it was clearly not her fault."

"What about Hank? Was anyone hurt?"

"Unfortunately, yes, but not too badly."

"Who was it?" Secretly, Bobby was hoping Gambit had been the victim of Creed's indiscriminate wrath. While he had agreed with the Cajun thief that night about his decision, he was still upset nonetheless. The thought of a mild ass kicking for that smug bastard was enough to make him smile.

Warren took a sip of his martini, which was dry---the way he liked it. He finally answered, "Jubilee."

Bobby's smile faded as the guests began to make their way to their assigned tables. "Is she OK?"

"Yes, she's fine," his friend replied reassuringly. He became somewhat alarmed when he observed the younger man's face draw itself into an anxious and grim expression.

"What do you mean by OK?" Bobby demanded, his fingers gripping his glass tightly. He was unaware of the thin layer forming around the Pilsner. "What did that monster do to her?" As he waited for Warren to answer, flashing images of horrific possibilities raced through his mind. He prayed none of them actually happened.

Warren eyed his friend cautiously. The way Bobby was holding the glass; he was likely to break it into shards any minute. Carefully, he pried it from his friend's fingers and placed it on the bar behind them. "She's fine, really. Hank and Cecilia took good care of her and everything."

"You didn't answer my question," Bobby snapped, insulted by Warren's attempts to assuage his concerns like a child. "What happened to Jubilee?"

Warren frowned at him, concerned. "Easy, easy. Just take a deep breath and relax.."

"Easy nothing." Bobby wanted to grab the millionaire playboy by the lapels of his navy, double-breasted jacket and shake him, but realized he did not want to create a scene. Most of the guests were now settled in their seats, waiting for the new couple and the best man to be seated for the toast. Had he not heard about Jubilee, Bobby would have been the first to be at the table, warming the crowd up before his speech.

He leaned towards Warren, his gray eyes steely. "Tell me what happened to her. Now. Please."

In all the years Warren knew Bobby Drake, he had never seen him act this way. The carefree jokester was now replaced with a man who was so desperate, so scared, and so serious. It was as if he were talking about someone he cared about a great deal, more than he would a person he just considered a casual friend. He was sure Bobby would never react this way if it were Hank or Rogue that got hurt. It was not that he would not care, but he would not express this amount of concern. Drake was upset and furious that Creed had harmed Jubilee, much like Logan was. There was the same over protectiveness he saw in Bobby's eyes that he saw in Logan's while visiting Jubilee in the infirmary. The last time Warren had seen Bobby respond similarly to the way he was right now was when he was dating Lorna.


"Sabretooth caught her by surprise and knocked her out," Warren began slowly, trying to process his conclusion mentally. It was still too much for him to think about at the moment. "She was out cold for a while, but woke up and checked out fine. If you don't believe me, you can ask Hank."

Bobby's jaw was firmly set as he began to make his way to his furry friend sitting at a table nearby. "I think I will," he said quietly.

He was stopped in mid-stride by Joel, who gave him a puzzled look. "Where are you going?" he demanded. His cousin motioned to the central table at the front of the reception hall. "We're going to start dinner and you have to give your toast."

"I gotta ask Hank a question and then I'll join you up there," Bobby whispered, patting Joel's shoulder. "I promise."

Joel shook his head, trying to ignore the impatient and haughty stare of his wife who was now sitting alone at the table. "Nothing doing," he hissed back and grabbed Bobby's arm firmly. "You're going up there with me right now."

Bobby suppressed a scowl as he walked alongside the shorter, stouter Drake towards the table. He stole a glance at Warren and Hank who were seated at their table with Paige. The tall, blond man looked rather thoughtful as he spoke to the cat-like Hank. In response to what Warren was probably saying, Hank nodded reassuringly. Under his breath, Bobby wished for Logan's super sensitive hearing at that moment.

Bobby realized there was nothing he could do at that moment. He would just have to wait until after his speech to get the full story about Jubilee's condition. In the meantime, he would need to play the part of the best man and act like nothing was weighing on his mind.

When he reached the table, he picked up his champagne flute and raised it. "A toast to Mr. and Mrs. Drake," he announced, forcing a grin on his boyish face. "My cousin, Joel, a good man, brother and friend, and his wonderful wife, Grace, a new addition to the Drake clan and most importantly, my secret lover.." He beamed when he received a chorus of laughter from the guests.

It had been two days since Sabretooth attacked Jubilee. Other than the fading bruise on her forehead, the young girl was fine. Both Hank and Cecilia agreed to let her go home with Scott and Jean after a night in the infirmary. Since then, the couple, along with Logan, enforced bed rest for two days after the assault. During that time, she was confined to her bedroom with Logan bringing her assignments from school along with the occasional magazine.

After those two days, she was allowed to leave her bedroom, repeatedly assuring the concerned adults around her that she was fine. While it did not take all that convincing much to convince Jean or Hank, the same could not be said for Logan and Scott. Initially, the two men wanted to accompany her to all of her classes and anywhere else that involved her being away from the house. It was only after Jean intervened that both men decided to back down from their irrational plans. It definitely paid o have a telepath as the voice of reason.

Jubilee understood where the hyper vigilance and over protectiveness were coming from. She had been frightened out of her mind when she saw that evil monster. After several earlier confrontations with Logan's nemesis when she was younger, she was all too aware of what he was capable of. Jubilee had witnessed some of the man's violent and uncontrollable rage during many fights between the two of them. There were also her memories of what happened that night before she was rendered unconscious. His sharp incisors and loud snarling was still too vivid in her mind. But, she had reasoned to herself and to the others, she knew she was safe now. Wolvie had seen to that.

Wanting to focus her thoughts on something other than Sabretooth and that night, Jubilee decided to catch up on some photography. She remembered that she had not yet developed that roll of film she used a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, she did not have to go into town to have the work done since Scott and Logan had set up a darkroom in the basement. The room was completely equipped with large sinks, several wire lines to hang photographs from, and built-in shelving units to store her paper, chemicals, trays, and film. Logan had even installed a signaling system for her laboratory, where a red light over the door indicated to people outside that the room was currently being used.

Almost half of the day was spent developing the film in the darkroom. Jubilee had just hung up the last lake scene picture when she noticed that the first photographs she had developed were already dry. She quickly cleaned up the equipment, dumping out the water and chemicals. Then she gathered the first group of photographs from one of the racks and made her way out of the darkroom.

The young girl walked up both sets of stairs, past the main level of the house, and to her bedroom. From how quiet and still things were, she surmised Scott and Jean were still out running errands in town. The two had left late that afternoon to pick up some groceries and movie rentals for that night. Jean had promised to make her famous Quiche Lorraine, much to the delight of her husband.

Jubilee seated herself on her bed, spreading the glossy, black-and-white photographs across from her. She began to sort the various pictures of the lake, amazed at how well they had actually turned out. It was one thing to examine them under the red glow of the darkroom. Viewing them in the gentle light of her bedside lamp only highlighted the uncomplicated splendor of the landscape shots. Immediately, she began to set some photographs aside to give to various people like the Professor, Storm, Jean, Hank, and Gambit. She then came across one picture that caught her attention.

It was of Bobby, standing a few feet of the boathouse.

Her slender fingers traced over his boyish features. A small smile tugged at the corners of her small mouth as she gazed at the picture. While she used a technical eye to evaluate the other photographs, she did not do so with this particular one. Instead, Jubilee fondly studied Bobby's affable grin, which seemed to light up his entire face. It was an expression she had grown to associate with wry humor, warmth, and kindness. Out of all the pictures she had taken using that roll and previous ones, she had to admit that this particular photograph was certainly her favorite one. If pressed to answer why, however, she wasn't sure she could provide an answer.

It was Bobby who was the first to befriend her at the mansion. It was Bobby who had made frequent visits to her bedside after her ordeal with Bastion and later, after she was left on the lawn of the mansion. It was Bobby who was her partner-in-crime when it came to playing pranks around the mansion. It was Bobby who had become her closest confidant in recent days. It was Bobby she had hoped was with her when she regained consciousness that night.

Despite the lighthearted persona Bobby displayed to the world, Jubilee knew there was a serious side. It was this facet of his personality that intrigued her the most. Yes, she liked the funny quips and comments that came from the mouth of Drake. He was always guaranteed for a good laugh. But, it was the less comical side that seemed to add some extra depth to his character. She had seen hints of it during some of his nighttime visits. They would spend long hours, talking about various things from the random ("If a really overweight person got a tattoo and then lost a lot of weight, would there be stretch marks around the tattoo?") to the painfully relevant ("Even after everything we did to save these people, they still wanted to chase us with their pitchforks and rifles."). During those conversations, he was reflective and thoughtful, not at all the jokester he was for other people.

Jubilee fingered the delicate pink beads of the necklace Bobby had given her. While this was a picture she really liked and probably wanted to keep for herself, she realized that Bobby would appreciate it as a gift. When she picked up photography, she had freely given pieces to many around the mansion. However, she held off presenting a photograph to Bobby. She had yet to find something she thought he would really like; something that showcased her best work. As she stared at this photograph, she was convinced this was definitely the picture she was going to give to Bobby.

Ugh, what smells? She sniffed around herself, the faint smell of the chemicals she had used in the darkroom filling her nostrils. Bleech.. It's me. Shrugging, she sauntered to her bathroom and stripped out of her pink tank top and faded jeans. She then stepped under the steaming stream of water from the stainless steel showerhead. Much better.

After her shower, she changed into a long-sleeved, baby blue T-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts with her favorite flip-flops. As she dried her long black hair, she felt her stomach begin to rumble. Her eyes flicked to her Fossil wristwatch. Cook was off that night, so most of the students and instructors were left to their own devices. Usually, the instructors who were at the mansion often took the students into town for dinner at a restaurant or at the food court in the mall. Since Scott and Jean were not home yet, Jubilee decided to try to catch someone and ask for a small treat to bring back.

Grabbing her house keys, she jogged out of the Summers' farm-style, white clapboard house and across the manicured lawn towards the mansion. Jubilee entered the mansion through the garage. She noticed most of the cars were out, but raced into the kitchen in the hopes of finding someone who had not left yet.

"Hello?" she called out, entering the kitchen. "Is anyone home?"

"Hey, Jubes."

She turned around, raven locks whipping around her slim shoulders. Leaning against the doorway was Bobby. Dressed in a tailored, black tuxedo with a crisp, white shirt and a black bow tie that was undone, he appeared to be the antithesis of the Hawaiian shirt-wearing prankster. There was something different about him. He was no longer boyish or immature, but.. dashing. Bobby Drake dashing?

Jubilee gave him a wolf whistle as he sauntered into the kitchen. "Looking good, Lady killer," she teased, sapphire blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "How was the wedding?"

He gave her a wry smile and watched her hop onto the kitchen counter, slim legs swinging. "First of all, ha ha. Second, it was good. I laughed, I cried---a good time was had by all."

"So, what are you doing back so early? Either the reception was really lame or you couldn't wait to get back to the excitement of the Institute." Jubilee grinned at him.

Bobby stood next to her. During the reception dinner, he finally confronted Hank and quizzed him about Jubilee's condition. His friend basically provided the same report Warren gave him earlier that evening. He assured him that other than a bruise on her forehead, she was fine. For some reason, Hank's guarantees were not enough for Bobby. For some reason, Bobby needed to see for himself that she was fine. Quickly, he concocted a story about not feeling well to Joel, his parents, and his friends. He eschewed their offers to let him rest in their hotel rooms or to have him examined by Hank, insisting that he would rather return to the mansion. After several minutes and repeatedly congratulating his cousin and Grace, he managed to convince all parties that his way was best and was on his way home.

Looking at the young girl sitting next to him, he was relieved to see that Hank was in fact telling the truth. She seemed to be fine. Still, he was troubled about the fact that she had been attacked in the first place. He didn't even want to think about the possibility if she was hurt much worse. Screw Logan. Sabretooth would have his hands full dealing with Iceman.

"I had to fight off this horde of lovely ladies," he quipped, "You know how it is, being a sex machine and all." He raised his brows dryly.

She smiled up at him. "Didn't want to be the only guy out there to catch the old garter, huh?"

He feigned a hurt expression. "Thanks, Jubes. That hurts. Um, speaking of which, I heard about what happened the other night. You OK?"

"Nice segue," Jubilee replied, tucking a lock of black hair behind her ear. She nodded. "Yeah, I am. Really. Just this ugly forget-me-not on my head." She gestured to her forehead and lowered her gaze from his face briefly. "I guess another reason why the guys aren't flocking to my window." The young girl laughed quietly.

His gray eyes studied her as he placed a hand over hers. "Can't even notice it anymore," he told her candidly. It was true. What was left of the bruise was a light lavender spot. As for the lack of male attention, she really had no idea..

Then he said, "I'm glad you're all right."

"Thanks. Me, too." She noticed that he was carrying a paper bag. "What's that, Bobby? Leftover wedding cake?"

"Nope. Better than that. A get-well present."

"Really? What is it?"

Smiling at her broadly, he opened the bag and pulled a white plastic container. "A pint of chocolate-cherry ice-cream from Greenberry's in town," he announced, extracting two plastic spoons. He handed one to her.

She took one gratefully. Her exquisite features instantly lit up with the promise of her favorite ice cream. Watching him remove the cover to the container, she drawled, "Some men bring flowers, others bring chocolates. You, Bobby Drake, have done one better. It's almost scary how well you know me."

He laughed. "I was thinking the same thing." He raised his spoon as if it were a glass filled with some spirits. "To good health and to good.. Good friends." The last part of his toast left a bitter taste in his mouth. He grimaced slightly. I don't really mean all of that..

"To good health and good friends." Jubilee clinked her spoon against his. As she was about to dig her spoon into the ice cream, she observed a somewhat pained expression on his face. "Something wrong?" she inquired.

He scooped some ice cream into his spoon. "No, why do you ask?"

"You look.. Upset." She followed his lead and ate a spoonful, eyeing him carefully.

He swallowed, the cool cream gliding down his throat. "I'm not. Really, I'm not." He made an effort to not directly look at her.

"You sure?" she asked, noticing that he was not meeting her eyes.

Bobby squeezed her hand hesitantly. "Yeah, I am. Thanks."

"No problem." Jubilee squeezed his hand back. After a few bites of ice cream, she said, "You never really answered my question."

He tried to look guileless, chewing thoughtfully on a chocolate-covered cherry. "Which one was that?"

"What are you doing back so early?" she asked again.

I came back to make sure you weren't hurt. I came back because if you were, I'd take care of you. I came back because I.. He cleared his throat and pulled his hand back slightly. "Weddings aren't really my scene. You know that."

She watched him continue to eat. He was referring to Alex and Lorna's wedding, otherwise known around the mansion as "the wedding that never was". The whole affair, including the events leading up to the ceremony, had been quite a strain for him. Bobby had tried to put on a brave face, telling people that he was not at all bothered by the prospect of finally losing Lorna for good. Many around the mansion were able to discern otherwise. Jubilee had been rather removed from the situation as she was still recovering from her ordeal. She had only heard about the fallout from Scott and Jean.

"Yeah, I guess, I do," she replied quietly, scooping another spoonful of ice cream. Before she could stop herself, she asked, "Because women are duplicitous?"

"I didn't say that. You're totally reaching on that one."

"Sorry. I don't know why I said that."

"Yeah... Well, you were way off-base."

"I didn't mean to hurt you. I would never hurt you, Bobby."

"I know. You didn't hurt me. It's just that.."

There was a long silence as the two continued to eat. After several minutes, they finished the pint of ice cream. Bobby reached for her spoon and gathered up the container and paper bag. He tossed everything into the trashcan. Then he walked back to the counter where Jubilee sat, but stood a foot away across from her.

Finally, she peered over at him and said softly, "Thank you."

"No problem. My pleasure." He crossed his arms over his chest, not meeting her gaze. After another pause, he suddenly blurted out, "It's just that I don't want to be reminded that I'm alone."

The young girl shook her head empathetically, black hair with midnight blue streaks spilling down her shoulders. "Bobby, you're not.."

"It's OK. I know what you were going to say and you don't have to finish that." He smiled bitterly. "You and I both know what I meant. There's no need to sugarcoat things to save my feelings. I'm a big boy now and I can handle these things."

She folded her small hands solemnly. "I'm alone, too."

He gave her a startled look. "You?"

"Yeah, me."


"You can say that all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm just as alone as you are in the sense we're both talking about. We just differ by our circumstances."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you're alone because you don't want to get hurt again. You've put all your energy into making things work only to have the other person leave. In the end, I don't really blame you."

"Interesting deduction."

"Am I right?"

"I'm not going to tell you because you're going to be a pain in the ass either way. What about you?"

"I'm alone because everyone refuses to acknowledge the fact that I'm not thirteen anymore."

"That's not true. I don't think you're thirteen."

"Thanks, Bobby."

"No problem."

"But everyone else thinks I am. Isn't that why I'm not with anyone? Who would want to date someone they think is still a kid when they can a have a real woman?"

Bobby frowned at her, taking a few steps forward. "What are you talking about?" he asked.

Jubilee sighed. "I'm just a baby compared to the other females around here. Let's see, there's that new mutant, Stacy X.."

"You have got to be kidding me," he cut her off, incredulous. "You are comparing yourself to that? No offense, Jubes, but I think all that sugar is finally rotting your brain. Why would you want to be like her? You're better than that and you know it."

She gave him a disbelieving look of her own. "Oh come on, Bobby. Don't tell me you wouldn't knock over a stack of chairs to be with someone like her. She's walks and breathes sex all the time. At least, she knows what men like."

Bobby knew that she was right on some level, having had an encounter with the former prostitute at the X-Ranch. Fortunately, it went nowhere beyond the manipulation of his pheromones. At the time, he knew his body had enjoyed the experience. Yet, there was something missing and wrong with the whole thing. He wanted to feel that way again, but only with someone he cared about.

Finally, he said quietly, "That's not what I want."

"It's not?" Her voice was softer in tone now.

He shook his head. "No, it's not. I want someone.."

She watched him struggle to complete his thought. He looked so forlorn and lost, standing there. It was like nothing she had ever seen before. He seemed so vulnerable.

Instinctively, Jubilee reached for him, wrapping her lithe arms around his neck and pulling him to her. As she held him, all she could think about was taking away whatever was troubling him then. She stroked his hair gently, resting her soft cheek against his. Her fingertips grazed the back of his neck and she was surprised to find how warm he was. She had expected his skin to be cold. Not hot like fire. Even more astonishing was the fact was how right holding him at this moment felt for her.

"Bobby," she whispered, long black locks ensnaring him. "It's OK."

It was wrong to feel this comfortable in her arms. It was wrong to be this close to her. It was wrong to continue to smell the bubblegum and cinnamon in her hair and in skin. It was wrong to think about threading his fingers through her tresses. It was wrong to wonder if her lips were as soft as they looked from this close.

He realized it would be more wrong to give in.

"You say you care about de petite? Den let her be, homme. Let her be wit' someone closer to her age. Let her be wit' someone who don' carry baggage when it comes to de femmes. Let her be truly happy."

Bobby cringed, hearing Gambit's husky voice in his ears. Startled, he drew back, his face flushed pink. He raked a nervous hand through his sandy hair.

"What's wrong?" Jubilee asked, blue eyes wide with confusion and surprise.

He shook his head. "No, nothing's wrong, Jubes." Smiling sheepishly, he then said, "Um, thanks."

It was her turn to blush. "Sure," she replied, looking away briefly. Her gaze sharply returned to his face. To alleviate the tension introduced between them, she quickly said, "Yeah, I mean, what are friends for?"

Bobby winced slightly, hearing her say the word 'friends' hurting more than pulling away.

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