saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 2 (X-Men)

author: Alex L

rating/genre: (R) - Romance/Drama

warnings: het, language, adult situtations

summary: Set after the kiss in Homecomings, Bobby finds happiness with Jubilee. In progress. Please read and review!

comments/disclaimers: I forgot the disclaimer for this one---my apologies. All characters belong to Marvel. The story is mine.Feedback is always appreciated.

Chapter Two: Everything Old is New Again

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” Bobby Drake greeted, balancing his lunch tray as he seated himself with good friends, Hank McCoy and Warren Worthington, at one of the cafeteria tables, reserved for faculty members. He pulled off the plastic cap to his bottled water and took a cheerful swig. “Isn’t the first day of summer school classes great?”

His two friends and fellow instructors exchanged confused looks. Just last week, Bobby had been complaining about being forced to offer his Algebra course in the summer. It had taken the Professor and Jean some time to convince him to do it. Meanwhile, Hank and Warren took turns listening to their friend’s constant grumbling about having other things to do. While both had suspected that something else was bothering Bobby, neither one was in the mood to challenge him. Observing the young man’s sudden change of heart was somewhat perplexing, to say the least.

“Um, sure,” Warren finally said, dumping a packet of Equal into his iced tea. “I take it the students were thrilled about having three chapters worth of problems due tomorrow?”

Actually, he had overheard the opposite as he was waiting in line for lunch behind a group of students, led by Tabitha Smith. All of them were bemoaning the existence of their instructor, otherwise known as the “Slave driver”. The young woman had even done a rather amusing imitation of Bobby, mimicking his Long Island accent to a tee. Had he not been standing close by, Warren would have let out a chuckle.

Bobby tore open a packet of ketchup and spread the contents onto his French fries. “It’s a part of the learning process,” he replied breezily, popping a fry into his mouth. “As an instructor, I feel that I am setting a good example for the children around here by imparting my wisdom.”

“Imparting my wisdom?” Hank echoed, his eyes uncharacteristically blank. Usually, that would have been something that would have left his lips, not Bobby’s. Lips twitching nervously as he picked up his hamburger, he drawled, “Bobby, I have to say that while your newfound perspective is refreshing, but I have the feeling that there is something else responsible for your mood.”

Warren nodded, an errant lock of golden hair falling into his blue eyes. He brushed it aside gently. “I have to agree with Hank,” he piped up. “I’ve never seen you this enthused over teaching before and so quickly. Spill it, Bobby.”

Bobby chewed thoughtfully, peering at his two friends. Since leaving the Summers’ home that morning, he had felt as if he had been walking on air. The broad smile plastered reflected his euphoria, his thrilling sense of joy. After months filled with angst, he was now a new man---carefree and no longer alone. When he reached the mansion, he considered shouting the news to the residents, but refrained himself from doing so, lest he be considered unstable. Instead, he kept the news to himself, allowing the warmth and glow of his bliss carry him through the rest of that morning and into that afternoon. He was not sure if he necessarily wanted to give that up now.

There was also the issue of how the two men sitting across from him would react. Sure, they were his closest and oldest friends. They had been through a great deal together as Xavier’s first students, from various field missions to deeply personal experiences. Through the years, the three never lost sight as to what their friendship meant.

Yet, Bobby was reluctant. It was one thing for Jean Grey to know. She was guaranteed to be supportive about the situation. However, he was not sure about his two friends. The two men had their own reasons to be cynical when it came to the romantic domain. Hank, because of his appearance, had learned to be wary of relationships, often delving himself into his work as some kind of defense mechanism. While he had his share of girlfriends, the Beast could never really devote himself to another person for fear of persecution from the outside world. He knew he was in constant danger over what he was and what he looked liked. He did not believe that another person, particularly one that he cared about, should suffer the consequences. Right or wrong that was the way Hank was determined to live his life.

Meanwhile, Warren had his own share of difficulties. A playboy with a wandering eye for the ladies, commitment was a hard word for Warren to even utter. He was used to wining and dining with the most beautiful women in the world, and then leaving them when he grew bored and tired of them. That soon changed when he met Betsy, who shared a similar, privileged background and experience of someone manipulating her body against her will. The two were involved in a relationship that spanned several years--- a feat for Warren given his fear of being tied down. However, the millionaire’s insecurities and fears soon loomed over the couple and he began to distance himself from her. He resorted to his former behaviors--- blowing off previous engagements, spending more time at the office as an excuse, and refusing to confide in her as much. In response, Betsy began to flirt with the possibility of finding happiness with someone else, which prompted Warren to end things immediately. While he projected an image of not being affected by this, it was clear to those close to him that he was hurting. When she died, Warren was left to ponder what could have been.

“I’m not allowed to be in a good mood?” Bobby asked, gray eyes evasive behind his purple-tinted sunglasses.

Hank shook his head, polishing off his burger and eyeing the second one on his plate. “Neither of us is saying that,” he answered. “It is just that we haven’t seen you like this in quite some time.”

“Hank’s right,” Warren commented, sipping his iced tea. “Not that you’ve been a bitter old man or anything. I mean, it’s like you’re in love or something.”

An uneasy silence soon fell over the table.

Or something, indeed.

Warren’s blond brows furrowed together. While he had his suspicions at Joel’s wedding, staring at Bobby’s flustered expression, Warren had the confirmation he needed. His blue eyes were pensive as his mind reeled over the events he had accumulated as evidence of his theory. There was the overprotective and somewhat extreme reaction Bobby displayed when he had found out Jubilee was hurt. Then there were the times he had caught Bobby staring at the girl from across the room. On his evening flights around the mansion grounds, Warren would often see trademark ice-slides outside of her window. Finally, there was the trip to Toronto, which Bobby fought tooth and nail to get out of. Looking back, Warren realized that the young man had wanted to be around for Jubilee’s birthday instead of being on a mission.

Meanwhile, Hank nervously finished the rest of his Oreo milkshake. He had his own hunches about Bobby, which had been instigated that night Gambit came to visit him in his lab. Since then, he, too, noticed changes in his friend’s behavior. At the wedding reception, he was forced to repeat his reassurances that Jubilee was fine and safe after her attack. Hank had also observed the longing looks from across the room or out a window. Bobby was uncharacteristically distracted, even when planning his famous practical jokes around the mansion. The intricacies were sometimes half- planned, leaving Hank or Kurt, the latest member to be indoctrinated into their prank group, to plot the rest of the scheme. Even in their casual conversations in the lab, Bobby was preoccupied and often appeared as if he were struggling with something inside. However, he would often respond to Hank’s offers of help with a light comment, assuring him that all was well.

The two men exchanged another set of looks, communicating that they had come to the same conclusion. Then they returned to their gaze on Bobby. He was quickly stuffing his remaining his fries into his mouth. The young man seemed determined to not to meet their eyes.

Warren cleared his throat, taking it upon himself to be the first one to speak. He wanted to broach the subject delicately as opposed to his usual directive approach. Obviously, Bobby was uncomfortable bringing it up. “Well,” he began, “if you have found someone, I think I can speak for Hank and I by saying that’s great.”

Hank nodded his head emphatically in agreement.

Bobby’s eyes widened as he stared at the two men. This was unexpected. Not that he thought they would be teasing him or being rather cruel, but he was ready for an interrogation from Warren with some support from the Beast. Normally, Worthington would be demanding specifics---who was she, when did this happen, was Bobby really happy, was Bobby ready for all of this? He would then immediately direct Bobby as to what to do. Given his success as a business, such a response was normal and very instinctive for Warren. Yet, this was not the case. The blond millionaire, instead, chose to allow Bobby space to disclose at his own pace. For that, Bobby could not help but to feel some gratitude.

“Uh, thanks,” Bobby finally managed, swallowing. He sighed. “I guess you guys want to know who she is?”

Hank sprinkled some salt on his French fries. “You do not have to tell us, if you don’t feel right doing so,” he remarked. Then he commented, “However, I would like to say that I think our young firecracker is a good choice.”

Bobby stared at him, openmouthed.

Warren wanted to slap himself on the forehead. He groaned inwardly with disdain. As intelligent and erudite as Hank was when it came to science and other aspects of academia, there were times his social intelligence was questionable. That, and Hank was notorious for having loose lips.

Hank peered over at his two friends, realizing his faux pas. Had he not been covered in cobalt-blue fur, one would have noticed him blushing. “Oh dear.”

“You both know?” Bobby demanded, his stomach doing flips inside. Great, he groused to himself. I might as well scratch those plans for the full-page announcement in the paper....

Warren nodded. “Yes, but it’s because we know you, Bobby,” he said reassuringly. “It’s not that you’ve been totally obvious to everyone else.”

“I have to agree with Warren,” Hank chirped up, dipping a handful of fries into a pool of ketchup.

Bobby shook his head, finishing his bottled water. He should have known better. The two men were the closest things he had to brothers. Of course, they knew what to look for. Then he sighed, relieved that he could now be candid with Hank and Warren.

He grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I mean about everything, including Jubes.”

Warren tried to hide his knowing expression. “Does she feel the same?” he inquired, recalling Bobby’s own trials and tribulations with unrequited feelings. He hated seeing his friend disappointed and hurt repeatedly. It was such a shame since Bobby was a good guy, always offering his all to the other person only to be left alone in the end. He prayed that this was not the case.

“Yeah, she does,” Bobby replied, his gray eyes taking on a more blissful quality. He put down his water bottle. “We talked last night about everything. It was like everything I was feeling she was, too. I’ve never had that before.”

“That’s wonderful, Bobby,” Hank said, sincerity reflected in his wide eyes.

Bobby nodded, feeling ecstatic as he continued to talk about that evening. “Yeah, we were both in synch about everything and anything. I mean about what were feeling, how long, and what kept getting in the way. Not once did it feel weird. I’ve known her since she was a kid and sure, we’ve been friends since then. But last night, it was like everything old was new again.”

Hank’s brows shot up quizzically. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean even though we’ve known each other for so long, last night made things different. It was like I was getting to know her in a new way---in a better way.” Bobby grinned sheepishly again, feeling like he was babbling and possibly appearing foolish. At this point, he did not mind.

Then he added, “It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this for someone. Not since Lorna....” He shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts of any residual longing for the woman he considered his first love. There was none. “This thing with Jubes.... It’s a big deal to me, you know? I just don’t want to screw it up.”

Warren slid a forkful of salad into his mouth. When he finished chewing and swallowing, he said, “It sounds like things are going good, though. I don’t think you’re going to allow anything to happen.”

“I wish I had your confidence,” Bobby laughed, still uncertain. “I just can’t imagine going out on another blind date you set up for me.”

Warren narrowed his blue eyes defensively. “What the hell does that mean?” he demanded.

Bobby smirked. “Do you remember Cathy?”

Cathy was an administrative assistant at Warren’s company. She was a cute, perky brunette with twinkling brown eyes and a pert nose. Outgoing, Warren had thought she was a good match for Bobby’s prankster ways. She was new to the city and was looking for some companionship---at least that was what Warren had overheard at the water cooler. With her, Drake would have been guaranteed constant laughs for any of his cracks or practical jokes. As for Bobby, he and Opal had just broken up and Bobby was looking to be on the rebound. In Warren’s eyes, this was a win-win situation.

Bobby had begrudgingly agreed. He was notorious for loathing being set up, but since Warren had made this kind of effort, it was hard for him to say no. Reluctantly, Bobby called up Cathy. She sounded nice and most importantly, very interested in getting to know him. The two quickly arranged to meet at her apartment for a quiet dinner and watching some romantic comedy with Meg Ryan. Bobby solicited fashion advice from both Warren and Jean before venturing into the city. He first stopped off a street vendor to pick up a bouquet of pink roses. Then he made his way to Cathy’s brownstone on the Upper East Side.

When he arrived, Bobby could have not been more pleased. Cathy was attractive, smart, and funny. Her bubbly personality was infectious, making Bobby feel quite at ease. After a dinner of take-out sushi and hot rice wine, the couple moved into her living room. She flipped on the television as she and Bobby settled on the couch.

Turning to Bobby, Cathy smiled. “Um, Bobby?”

“Yeah?” Bobby had contemplating making his next move. He decided to hold back and wait to see where the evening was headed.

“I’m having a great time. I’m glad we did this.”

“Yeah, me, too.”

“I was thinking.... Do you want to do something crazy?”

“Depends on your definition of crazy, babe.”

“I mean really crazy. Totally off the wall.”

Bobby was confused, not sure where she was going with this. From the way she was giggling, whatever it was, it had to be good. Shrugging nonchalantly, he replied, “Sure. I’m into whatever.”

“Great!” Cathy leapt off the couch and onto her feet. Then she turned to him, “I want you to close your eyes, Mr. Silly. I’ll be right back.”

“You got it,” Bobby said, closing his eyes in anticipation. He racked his brain of the possibilities. Most of them involved not-so innocent surprises. His lips curled in a smile as he waited. He had made a mental note to thank Warren in the morning.

Seconds later, he could hear her footfalls on the hardwood floor. He could sense her standing over him. “Now hold out your hand,” she instructed him, still giggling.

“OK.” Bobby complied, still wondering what was going on. His palm sensed something small and plastic lying on it.

“Now open your eyes.”

Bobby felt his smile disappear as he peered down at the palm of his hand. “It’s a kazoo,” he said, his voice filled with uncertainty. To his ears, it sounded more like a question than a statement. He stared at the blue plastic toy with confusion. Then he looked up at Cathy’s expectant and joyful features. “It’s a kazoo.... Um, do you want me to stick it...?” He did not even want to finish his sentence, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

Cathy laughed, oblivious to his puzzlement. “No, silly. I’ve got MTV on and we can play along with the videos. Watch me!” She immediately tooted along with a Madonna video that was currently playing.

Bobby stared at the young woman, realizing that she was not joking with him. Somewhat frightened, he gathered his jacket. Then he scurried out of the apartment as fast as his legs could carry him. He was making a mental note to murder Warren when he returned.

Back in the cafeteria, Hank snorted with uncontrollable laughter. “Oh, I almost forgot about that!”

Warren shook his head. “How was I supposed to know she liked kazoos? It’s not something we ask about in interviews.”

“Well, now you know to ask,” Bobby huffed. “At least I don’t have to worry about that with Jubes.”

Warren speared a piece of tomato with his fork. “No, you have other things to think about when it comes to her.”

Bobby stared at him. “What are you saying?” he asked, suddenly feeling apprehension wash over him. He knew Jubilee as well as anyone around the mansion. What else could there be?

“Have you thought about Logan?” Warren stirred his iced tea with his straw. “And for that matter, Scott?”

“What about them?” Bobby frowned, not following his friend.

“I mean they’re like her father,” Warren pointed out sagely. “You’re going to be dealing with Overprotective Dad times two. You’ve got Logan who operates under the assumption that she is still his little girl. Look at the way he treats her. During Christmas, he wouldn’t let any males go near her when she was standing under the mistletoe.”

Hank nodded in agreement, having observed Logan’s ‘fatherly’ behavior towards the young girl. “He flashed his claws at poor Sam for hugging her,” he said, recalling how the young man’s face quickly drained of color. “I don’t think he’s recovered since.”

“Not that Scott is any better,” Warren cut in, breaking a piece of bread from his roll and dipping it into his dressing. “Granted, he doesn’t have the claws and he doesn’t threaten people with bodily harm, but he still thinks of her as his daughter. He’ll just make this face that tells you he doesn’t approve and then keep his eye on you for the rest of your existence. You might get a zap or two from the old visor.”

Bobby’s mouth formed a grim line. He knew perfectly the expression Warren was referring to. It was a version of a grimace; only with Scott he looked rather constipated. “So you think they’re going to kill me?”

Hank waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, no. Not kill you.” Then he paused thoughtfully. “Well, perhaps attempt to maim you in a minor way. How attached are you to your pinky finger, Bobby?”

Warren tried not to laugh, especially when he saw Bobby’s panicked expression. “No, it’s just that you’ll have to do some convincing---more so than you would if you were dating someone else around here,” he explained cautiously. “And after a while, Scott and Logan will get tired of chasing you.”

Bobby pursed his lips, realizing that his two friends were half-serious, half-joking with him. He did see their point. Both Scott and Logan were notorious for their overprotective tendencies. It was one of the rare commonalities the two men shared. While he felt frightened of the possible scenarios that awaited him once the two found out, Bobby resolved himself not to allow those thoughts to take him hostage. There was something--- someone more important to consider.

“What should I do, wiseasses?” he asked, annoyed with the chortles of laughter from Archangel and Beast. “Seeing as the two of you have pointed out this predicament, I’d like to get some help as to how to deal with it. I want to date Jubilee as a complete person rather than as someone missing vital body parts.”

Warren smiled. “Don’t know if there’s much you can do now.”

“Why’s that?” Bobby asked, irritated with his friend’s cryptic response.

“One, Scott is in Asia with Emma, tracking down some mutant activity. No one knows when they’re coming back,” Warren replied, eyeing his fruit salad with some concern. He was on a low-calorie diet Paige had talked him into going on. According to his calculations, he was nearing his limit for the day. “They just have instructions to bring back the mutant with them. Who knows how long that’s going to take?”

“And Logan is in Asia as well, but with another team,” Hank added, finishing his fries. “It’s a pretty ambitious endeavor since Storm has just called the mansion, requesting that Rogue and Gambit join them. Similarly, no one knows when this team will return.”

“So what you’re saying is that I’m in the clear until those come back?” Bobby pressed his lips together. What an uncertain existence. It was like waiting for the boogeyman to jump out of the closet at night. However, on the bright side, he could put off confronting the two men---something he was not looking forward to.

Hank nodded. “In a roundabout way, yes.”

Bobby sighed, shaking his head. “I seem to find someone and she’s got something to her. Like with Opal, her family was involved with the Yakuza. For Lorna, she had her memory problems. Now with Jubes, I’ve got to deal with two guys who might want to tear me a new one for getting involved with her.”

As he was about to continue lamenting, he felt a pair of his eyes on him. Instinctively, he peered around the cafeteria, which was now beginning to empty of students and instructors who were heading to study hall. Standing on the other side, near the entrance of the dining hall was Jubilee. She looked radiant as she smiled at him shyly, wearing a powder-blue camisole and a pair of faded jeans with sneakers. Her dark hair framed her delicate features gently.

Rising to his feet, Bobby said to his friends, “But in the end, she’s worth it.”

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