saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 6 (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 Six: You Can Never Tell
“Jean!” Jubilee called out, racing down the stairs and fumbling to put on her watch. Her fingers worked furiously to snap the clasp tight. “Jean, have you seen my campus map? I can’t find it anywhere and I’ve, like, looked all over the place! Do you know where it is? I don’t want to look like a dork and not know where I’m going!”
Usually, Jubilee was not this excited or alert this early in the morning. The fact that she was showered, dressed, and cogent before 9 AM was spectacular feat. The running joke in the Summers’ household was that the young girl’s biological clock had probably gone under some kind of mutation. Scott often commented how Jubilee operated four hours later than most people.
However, today represented an anomaly, which forced her to be ready earlier than usual. The beginning of the school year was approaching and the university Jubilee was to attend was holding its freshman orientation. All students and their parents/and or guardians were to report to the campus for an all-day introduction to the institution, campus, student services, academic departments, groups, and yes, advising for classes. The promise of free food and free university paraphernalia (bumper stickers, T-shirts, Frisbees, planners, key chains) was enough to motivate Jubilee to make the effort to go. That, and she thought it would be nice to at least know what classes she was supposed to be taking and where they were. The visit to the campus with Scott months ago was already starting to fade from her memory. There were so many building names to remember.
Jean was to accompany her, sans Scott. He was still on mission with Emma and as of last night (via speaker phone), he had no idea when they would be back. Apparently, their efforts to find whatever the Professor had picked up on turned up nothing. It was obvious how disappointed Jean was at learning this news, but decided that visiting Jubilee’s campus would be a welcomed distraction. She commented how it would bring back memories of her own carefree college days. The rest of that evening was spent on talking about possible classes they had looked up in Jubilee’s bulletin and whether or not the young girl should join a sorority.
Smoothing out the wrinkles from her navy-and-white, rugby T-shirt over blue- gray chinos, Jubilee became alarmed when she did not get a response from Jean. She expected either a playful comment or an answer that revealed the whereabouts of the missing map. “Jean?” she inquired, wandering into the bright kitchen. “Is everything OK?”
“Good morning, Jubilee.” Alex was standing at the counter, pouring himself a cup of hazelnut coffee from Jean’s beloved coffee maker. As usual, he looked relaxed, wearing a white, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of khakis. Scott’s younger brother began to open the cupboard by his head, searching for cream and sugar. “Everything’s going to be OK as soon as I get my first cup of java.”
She stared at him quizzically. While he was finishing up his dissertation, Alex had been staying with his brother. However, after he graduated, he officially moved back to the mansion, visiting frequently and eating whatever food he could find (according to Scott). It was quite strange to see him here this early since he often spent his mornings with his new girlfriend, Annie, and her son.
“Um, OK,” Jubilee managed, gathering her long tresses into a ponytail. It was quite humid that day even though it was ten degrees cooler than yesterday. She hated having her hair cling to her neck.
“Do you want some?” he asked, stirring in some sugar. Having not found the cream, he resorted to the skim milk from the fridge. “Just bought a bag of this really good stuff from Starbucks. There are some cheese Danishes on the counter. Help yourself.” He motioned to a white cardboard box in front of him.
She shook her head, but took him up on the offer of the Danishes. The fact that Jean had not appeared was somewhat alarming. “No, thanks to the coffee. Have you seen Jean? We’re supposed to be leaving soon for my orientation.” She took a bite, chewing thoughtfully.
He took sip of the hot liquid. “About that,” he began, blue-green eyes rueful. “She’s not going to be able to go with you. The Professor asked her to go to Washington, DC for some mutant hearings this morning. She left really early this morning with Hank, but wanted me to tell you how sorry she is about missing it. She really wanted to go.”
“Oh.” Jubilee desperately wanted to hide how crestfallen she felt inside. She had been looking forward to having Jean with her all day. The redhead seemed like the perfect choice, next to Scott, as far as company was concerned for the orientation. Jean had promised to elaborate more about her college days, refusing to give up any details the night before. From the twinkle in her eyes, Jubilee inferred the stories to be told were probably pretty good. Needless to say, she had no idea who else to recruit at the last minute.
Alex took another sip of his coffee. “She also wanted me to tell you that I’ll be going with you.”
The young girl’s eyes widened at him, slightly shocked. “You?”
“What? You don’t think I’m good enough to go?” he teased.
“Sure, that’s it.” A playful smirk crossed her lips. Then she shook her head and said, “It’s just that when we registered, Scott and Jean are listed as my guardians. How am I going to explain you?”
He shrugged, putting down his coffee mug. “I could pass for Scott.”
“Do you really want that?” It was her turn to tease him. She had heard stories from Jean about how jealous Alex used to be of his older brother. It was only recently the two had reached some kind of common ground. Still, the temptation to jerk his chain was hard to resist.
He snorted. “Fine. Then I can be your cool Uncle Alex.” He offered her a napkin when he noticed the young girl licking her sugary-coated fingers. Gratefully and sheepishly, she took it from him.
“Are you sure? I mean about going with me. It’s going to be an all-day thing and possibly boring.” Jubilee chewed thoughtfully. It was nice that Alex was offering to go, but she did not want to see him bored out of his skull during the orientation. There were probably other things he would want to do.
“That’s why I cleared my schedule for the day,” he informed her, finishing his coffee. “Face it, Jubilee. I’m all yours. Plus, I heard there’s free food at this thing....” His aqua eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned at her.
She shook her head at him. “You’re pathetic.” Her tone was light.
“Hey, it wasn’t that long ago I was in school,” he pointed out, turning to the sink and rinsing out his mug. He quickly placed it in the dishwasher. “I know what it’s like to appreciate free stuff.”
“Yeah, I know,” she said, popping the last of the Danish into her mouth. “Scott says so all the time when we go grocery shopping.”
Alex rolled his eyes, only slightly irritated with his brother’s comments. “Well, let’s say I’m getting him back for that one by taking his convertible. You just can’t say anything.” He fished the keys from his pocket and jingled them loudly.
“Oh, and what if I do?” Jubilee raised a brow at him. She knew for a fact that Scott would go into a series of conniptions if he knew someone was touching his precious car while he was away.
“I’ll show Annie those pictures of you and Paige trying on her nurse’s uniform.”
“You said there was no film in that camera!”
The two spent the day mingling with other freshman and their parents during the orientation and collecting informational guides about the school and the offered programs. Jubilee managed to meet some fellow Californians, striking up quick conversations about their home state before being whisked away to other events. In the first four hours, she learned about the history of the school, what kinds of opportunities there were for leadership, and the types of student services available. She had to admit that it was quite a lot to take in, but was glad to observe from the confused faces of her fellow classmates, she was not the only to experience such feelings. It was still hard for her to believe that she was actually here. The girl who used study hall at the Academy to devise fiendish pranks with her friends was now going to be college student.
Throughout the day, Alex played the part of the attentive parental figure, offering to carry things for her, asking pertinent questions of the presenters about healthcare and financial aid, and providing input when Jubilee was drafting up a proposed class schedule. He was quite helpful like Scott, but there was a more laid-back quality to his personality. It was not that the older Summers brother was overly strict or authoritarian (Logan sometimes thought he was), but with Alex, things were more relaxed. He seemed more concerned over her not experiencing burnout immediately than over choosing a major already. Scott had already devised some sort of demented list of possible selections.
What really surprised Jubilee was how very little she knew of him up until today. She had heard stories here and there from Scott and Jean, or read through his history while archiving files into the new Cerebro. However, she realized that she hardly spent any time with him. Sure, he had lived with them for several months before moving back to the mansion, but she hardly saw him since he was always at the library or in private sessions with the Professor for rehabilitation. The extent of her knowledge surrounding the enigmatic Alex was that he was Scott’s younger brother who had been with a team called X-Factor. That, and he apparently had stolen Lorna Dane from Bobby. While she was aware of Bobby’s undercurrent of dislike for Alex (he rarely talked about the younger Summers brother when they were together), she found that she actually liked him. He was smart, affable, and kind of funny (however, he did lack some of Bobby’s trademark timing). There was also the fact that he promised to let her drive Scott’s car home from the orientation.
During the picnic-style lunch, Alex managed to secure a table under a generous maple tree for shading from the sun. He seated himself in one of the plastic chairs, waiting for Jubilee to return from the line for grilled food. He decided to hold off on devouring the contents of his own plate until she joined him. As he flipped back the tab to his soda can, he watched his younger companion talk cheerily with a short, pudgy redhead over the buffet table. He could hear them immediately burst into peals of girlish laughter, the sounds tinkling in the late summer air.
Like his older brother, Alex had had his share of hardships in life. While the circumstances were different, they were hardships nonetheless. The younger Summers brother tended to handle them in a different manner, choosing to be somewhat less constricted in behavior and demeanor. After all, that approach helped him to cope while living with the Blandings. In spite of their differences over the years, possibly stemming from their somewhat polar opposite personalities, Alex admired Scott. He admired this sense of normalcy his older brother had managed to carve out for himself while being an X-Man. It was something he wanted, but thought he could never have, thought he was never entitled to. In his mind, Scott had achieved the perfect life---married to the woman he loved and shepherding a surprisingly well-adjusted Jubilee into young adulthood.
When he was initially asked to accompany Jubilee to the orientation session, Alex was not sure as to how to react. First of all, he did not know her all that well. From what he remembered, she was rather loud, loved wearing her roller blades all the time, and had some weird fondness of sugar. However, he had to admit most of this accumulated knowledge was from her younger days with the group. While he was staying with Scott and Jean, he rarely saw her as he was immersed in completing his dissertation. He knew that the couple had grown quite fond of her recently, almost treating her as the child they did not have. Observing his brother dote on someone else other than Jean, especially in a manner Alex never thought he was capable of, was a curious picture. Yet, as the hours passed during this day, Alex came to realize why and how easy Jubilee made it.
There was also his own internal confusion regarding his new role as Carter’s father figure. True, he cared about the young boy and his mother. But Alex was not sure if he was ready to take on that kind of role. He had talked about wanting children, wanting a family to call his own. However, there was something making him ambivalent, questioning his yearnings. Was he parent-material? That is, was he dependable, someone who could guide? He attempted to demonstrate such qualities during his time in X-Factor, and what happened? One of his teammates and dearest friends faced death, while the others became disillusioned and eventually left.
And here he was, guiding Jubilee, as Scott had done when he was here. He acted as her sounding board for ideas and provided his honest feedback when she sought it. He took a gulp of his soda. Perhaps he was more ready than thought.
“Here’s your corn on the cob,” Jubilee said in greeting, placing it on Alex’s plate. She plopped herself down onto the plastic chair and draped a napkin in her lap. “I just talked to this girl and she thinks we’re going to advising next.”
Alex nodded, spreading some butter on his corn. “Sounds good,” he said. “Maybe we can swing by the geology-physics department before then?”
She made a face. While she had no idea what her major was going to be, she was definitely sure it was not going to involve the hard sciences. She had barely squeaked by in Dr. McCoy’s physics class last year. “Why?” she asked before biting into her cheeseburger.
“Just to check them out,” he told her. “Now that I have my Ph.D., I could probably teach as an adjunct or something.” After graduating, his dissertation chair had suggested that Alex look into given his success and popularity as a teaching assistant.
She frowned at him, perplexed. “If you want to teach, then why not do it at the Institute? I’m sure the Professor would be willing to work out something.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, popping a potato chip into his mouth. “But there’s a difference between students at the Institute and college students.”
She teased, “You’re saying you’re too good for the kids back home?”
He shook his head. “No, it’s just different expectations, I guess. Plus, it would be kind of weird since Carter’s a student and I’m dating his mom.”
“But you wouldn’t be teaching any of his classes,” the young girl pointed out. Then she added, “Unless you’re thinking about holding ‘Finger- painting 101’.”
“I know that,” Alex acknowledged, blue-green eyes patient. “It’s just that it would still be kind of strange. Hey, what if you were a student and Bobby was your teacher? Wouldn’t that weird you out?”
Jubilee swallowed hard. Her sapphire-blue eyes widened as she stared at him. It wasn’t that the question threw her off. Rather, it was the fact that Alex had even noticed. Sure, she and Bobby had not made an effort to keep their relationship a secret, but she never thought that someone like Alex would notice. She operated under the assumption that he was too involved with his own life given that he only said, ‘Hello’ and ‘See ya’ to her in passing.
Alarmed, Alex leaned over towards her. “Hey, are you OK? Listen, I didn’t mean to offend you or anything....”
She nodded emphatically. “Yeah, yeah,” she said quickly. “It’s just that I didn’t know you knew. I wasn’t ready for that.”
“Course I know. It’s hard not to know. This is the happiest I’ve seen either one of you.” He smiled at her warmly, the corners of his aqua eyes crinkling.
“Yeah... Well, I know.” Her eyes immediately soaked the contents of her plate as she sank into contemplation. Now that Alex knew, surely Scott must know. She had convinced Jean not to say anything during their nightly calls. She felt that she should be the one to tell him, and in person. That way, she could gauge for any trepidation on his part and immediately counter it with a list of arguments she prepared in that case. As she continued to still and mull the implications of the situation, that list was slowly disappearing from her memory.
Alex sensed something was a miss from the suddenly solemn expression on her face. “What’s wrong?”
“I.... I just.... I wanted to be the one to tell Scott.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know he consults with you regularly about this mission he’s on. I’m assuming you told him.”
“No.... No, I haven’t told him about you guys.”
“Really. That’s your cross to bear, not mine.”
“Hilarious. So, you think he’d be upset?”
“Honestly? I don’t know, kiddo. I mean, I don’t think he’d be furious and forbid you two from seeing one another. Or worse yet, tear him into a million pieces with that beam of his. At the same time, I don’t think he’d be offering to walk you down the aisle.”
“I should hope not. I’m not ready for that.”
“So, this thing between you two... It’s not serious?”
“I never said that. I just meant I wasn’t ready to get married. This is the 21st century, not the Middle Ages.”
“Then what is it?”
“I don’t know how to describe it. He’s... He’s...”
“He’s good to you?”
“Of course. Bobby’s a great guy and....” Her voice trailed off as she observed a grave look that clouded his once playful expression. She was aware that Bobby was not the president of the Alex Summers fan club. There were rumors that he continued to blame Alex for “stealing” Lorna and then Annie away from him. She never knew the younger Summers brother returned the tense feelings.
“You sound surprised,” she finally said, picking up her cheeseburger and eating it.
He gave her a puzzled look. “No, no. I would never think Bobby had less than honorable intentions.” His jaw clenched involuntarily.
Since his return to the mansion, Alex picked up on Bobby’s cool reception (no pun intended). The brief conversations between the two of them were sparse at best. At first, Alex attempted to befriend his former romantic rival, to reconcile and possibly start anew. He liked Bobby, especially the sharp one-liners he gave out during team meetings. Hell, he would even go as far as to say that he envied Bobby. Drake had managed to lead a normal life, on his own term, away from the Professor. He also seemed closer to Scott than Alex was, at times blatantly playing the role of the younger brother to Scott. It should not have been so much of a surprise, really. The two men had been the Professor’s first students, knowing each other for quite some time. It was only recently that Alex and Scott became acquainted as brothers after having been separated all those years.
Unfortunately, Bobby was not going to have anything to do with him unless he absolutely had to. Granted, he was not overtly hostile, as one would suspect him to be. At the same time, he made no attempts to hide how bitter he still was. Eventually, Alex decided to give up, rationalizing that if Bobby wanted to write a new chapter in their history of strained relationships, then the ball was in his court. As it stood, Bobby seemed pleased to have things continue---awkward, unpleasant, and uncomfortable.
“I know he’s one of the good guys,” Alex sighed wearily, watching Jubilee study him closely with concern crossing her youthful features. “Just... Just be careful, OK?”
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