saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 9 (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 Nine: Don’t Get Me Wrong
Fall had arrived in Westchester rather quickly. Mild air was replaced with cool, brisk breezes. The lively greenery that populated the grounds of the mansion competed with vibrant shades of red, orange, gold, and brown. Crisp, fallen leaves were scattered about the manicured lawn, adding to the festive air of the new season.
Autumn sunshine streamed through the bay window of the spacious kitchen. Kurt Wagner leaned back in his chair at the kitchen table. It was days like these he longed to travel back to his native Germany. He smiled as he recalled long, lazy days traveling with his adopted family across the countryside. The air was filled with wonderful scents of German food and ale, mixed with the sweet, merry music from their caravan. Those were simpler times. All that truly mattered then was family and making enough to take care of the most basic needs. No one cared what he looked like or what he might have been. There was no fear, no concern regarding what mutants were and what they could do. He was just Kurt, a member of the family and their circus’s star attraction. Looking back now, he realized it was all so different from what his life had evolved into now. And yet, there was no place he would have rather been than here at the mansion with the Professor, his friends, and his many students.
Sighing, he returned to his crossword puzzle, an activity he found helpful in expanding his English vocabulary. As he struggled to finish the remaining sections, he could hear Cook on the other side of the kitchen, arguing vociferously with someone on the telephone. While such noise would distract most people, Kurt had developed such a strong sense of focus through his meditation exercises. His ability to drown out background noises was almost legendary around the mansion. A triumphant smile crossed his lips as he deciphered another clue.
Kurt raised his eyes from the newspaper to see Bobby Drake, seating himself across the table from him. He nodded in greeting before commenting dryly, “Ah, Bobby. Good to see you’re still in one piece, mein freund.”
Bobby narrowed his gray eyes behind his purple-tinted, sunglasses. At first, he laughed off the comments about not getting ass kicked. However, as each day passed by, he was growing increasingly tired of the remarks. Even the students had their wry jokes. He overheard a group of them speculating as to whether or not he had some claw marks or burn holes under his shirt. Now, it seemed as if Kurt was looking to get his jabs in.
Several weeks had passed between the return of both Scott and Logan and today. His confrontation with Scott still left him reeling. It was still hard for him to accept that his friend and teammate had such a low opinion of him. He thought all these years of serving together would have attested to his character, to his intentions. While the two agreed that Jubilee’s happiness was important, Bobby found himself still trying to convince Scott that there was no game being played. The discussion ended with the older man telling Bobby to consider his position on the relationship before leaving. Hurt and boiling with anger, Bobby was determined to do everything in his power to change Scott’s mind.
In the days that followed, there was an uneasy air between them. When it was possible, both men avoided contact with one another. Faculty meetings or briefings in the war room were the worst for Bobby. Every time Scott was lecturing the instructors and teammates, he felt as if he (Bobby) were being singled out. He had even caught Scott glaring directly at him while he talked. It was humiliating, especially as he attempted to avoid the curious stares of his peers. The piercing glare became more intense whenever Bobby and Jubilee were together. Despite the fact that no optic beam was radiating from Scott’s eyes, Bobby still felt like a target. His skin, usually cool, felt as if it were on fire every time Scott stared at him. It was all he could do not to flinch, and not to directly confront the other man. Even the self-involved Cain Marko, Xavier’s stepbrother, noticed the tension. After one of the war room meetings, he had approached Bobby to inquire as to what he did to get on One-Eyed’s bad side.
And Logan? Bobby was unsure as to where he stood with the notoriously protective man from Canada. He anticipated being pulled into a dark room and being interrogated. He anticipated the larger man flashing his adamantium claws at him. He anticipated being on the receiving end of various threats to his body. Surprisingly, there was none of that. In fact, the loner made no attempts to approach him. Not even any hostile warnings to dissuade him from getting involved with his Jubilee. It was almost surreal. For a while, Bobby was under the impression Logan had no idea what was going on.
Instead, Logan began to watch him quite carefully. It was similar to the looks Scott often gave him, but much more intense---almost as if he were eyeing possible prey in the wild. Bobby could feel each move he made analyzed under the old man’s gaze. Scott made his disapproval and wariness apparent, but Logan was taking a different approach. No, the old man chose to keep his distance. He wanted to watch Bobby twist in the wind. For some reason, Bobby’s fear was more paralyzing when it came to Logan. He had seen what the man was capable of during field missions. Feral was an understatement when it came to describing the loner’s rages. It was almost spine-tingling watching Logan relish the attacks during missions. The joy and satisfaction that twinkled in the old man’s eyes was intriguing and yet, terrifying.
Bobby often found himself vacillating between wanting to talk to Logan and avoiding him. Each time he had summoned the courage to even approach the old man, he would lose his nerve. Worse than the uncertainty he continued to live with was Logan’s reaction. The smug expression on his face communicated his awareness of the younger man’s ambivalence. And from Logan’s behavior over the past several weeks, he was more than content to allow things to run their course.
Closing his eyes, Bobby’s mind drifted to the only thing that was keeping him sane through all of this. Those sapphire-blue eyes and that brilliant smile was enough to lift to his spirits. Being with Jubilee made the persecution and the possibility of bodily harm worth it in the end. There were even times Bobby swore he would endure much worse in order to be with her. Holding her close to him, he knew this was right. No amount of intimidation would convince him otherwise.
Bobby abruptly returned to the kitchen when he heard the German native chuckle softly. “Et tu, Kurt?” he finally drawled, drumming his fingers against the tabletop.
Kurt gave him an apologetic smile. “I couldn’t resist,” he replied, putting down his crossword puzzle. Then he asked casually, “So, how are things going?”
“OK. I can’t believe mid-terms are coming up.” Bobby tried to smile, but it came out as a grimace. “I haven’t prepared anything for my classes at all.”
Kurt looked at him sympathetically. Not quite the answer he had been looking for, but it was typical Bobby Drake. He often found that instead of being frank about what was going on inside of him, Bobby often relied on jokes or ducking the question altogether. It was some sort of defense mechanism the young man used to avoid any tension.
Despite his teasing comment, Kurt was concerned about the young man sitting across from him. Bobby seemed anxious lately. It was the antithesis of the easy-going, wry young man he often found himself laughing with. He knew Logan and Scott were good men. He was also aware of how protective both were of Jubilee. To their credit, neither one had attempted to chase Bobby out of the mansion. Knowing Logan as long and as well as he did, Kurt could not help but think that the old man was taking his aggression on something else instead of Bobby. But the implicit reactions appeared to be just as damning.
To complicate things even further, Kurt noticed how his friend was trying to shield Jubilee from the whole thing. He watched with amazement and admiration as Bobby attempted to pretend that all was well. This was in spite of the stony glances he was receiving from either Scott or Logan, or both. Bobby placed his own sanity on the backburner so he would not trouble his new girlfriend. It was a chivalrous approach, but ultimately Kurt believed it would be his undoing sooner or later. There was only so much a person could take before completing snapping.
Reading the weary expression in the other man’s gray eyes, Kurt decided not to pursue the topic. It was evident the situation had been weighing heavily on his mind. There was no need to remind him of it. Instead, he simply nodded empathically.
“I haven’t either,” he echoed, noting the relief washing over his friend’s boyish features. Apparently, he made the right decision. “Looks like the children aren’t going to be the only ones pulling in late hours.”
“Bloody ‘ell!” Cook stormed, slamming the phone on the receiver. The portly, middle-aged Englishwoman was usually a cheery person, who had a marked disdain for swearing. She even promulgated rule, expressly forbidding any kind of cursing in her kitchen. Initially, this proved to be a difficult order to follow, especially for some of the residents (Logan and Gambit). To hear her exclaim like that meant something was definitely amiss.
Exchanging curious glances, the two men rose from their seats at the table. Then they slowly made their way to where the cherubic-faced Cook was standing, which was in behind the kitchen island. Kurt placed a comforting hand on her soft shoulder.
“Vat’s vrong?” he inquired, golden eyes puzzled.
She threw her hands in the air, clearly frustrated. “’ow am I supposed to prepare for this bloody party if the bloody icebox doesn’t work?” Then she sighed heavily. “I rang up the repairman and ‘e can’t get ‘ere until later this afternoon. Naow, wot am I going to do?”
“Vat’s the problem vit the fridge?” Kurt asked calmly. There was no need for hysterics at this point. If it was something simple, he was sure Kitty or Hank could figure something out.
She shook her head, chewing on her fleshy lower lip. “I dunno,” she admitted. “It just won’t work, is all.” As she finished her sentence, the Englishwoman appeared as if she were going to drive into town and give the repairman a piece of her mind. Clearly, dealing with stress was not something Cook did well.
Bobby frowned as he strode over to the mammoth, stainless steel refrigerator. He opened the door and stuck his hand inside. Nothing, not even the usual hum from its’ motor. Closing the door, he shrugged his shoulders. Whatever was wrong with the appliance, he knew that she was up a creek if she needed cold air for whatever she was making. Unless....
“How much ice do you need?” he asked, returning to the island with Cook and Kurt. He pretended to crack his knuckles to showboat. Bobby added some stretches for an added effect, earning a groan from Kurt.
Cook sniffed. “Dunno. Why?”
Bobby grinned at her wryly. “Let’s see if this will do,” he said. With his hands outstretched over the butcher-block top of the island, wisps of cold air swirled. In a matter of seconds, a large, thick block of ice appeared on the island. The mass was so tall it almost obscured his view of Kurt and Cook who were standing on the other side. He could make out their figures, but the details of their features were somewhat distorted from the ice crystals.
Kurt was impressed. “Nice,” he commented, stroking his chin thoughtfully. Even though he could not completely see his friend’s face, he knew Bobby was beaming triumphantly on the other side.
“Yes, well....” Cook sounded hesitant as she studied the massive block of ice in front of her.
Bobby frowned. “What?”
“Nothing, lad,” she replied, waving a dismissive hand in the air.
Bobby wasn’t biting. He could hear in her voice that something was wrong. “What is it, Cook?”
Cook clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. “Well, I need smaller pieces, Bobby,” she explained ruefully. Sighing, she wished she had made that specifier clear before the boy went ahead and tried to help. He just seemed so eager to please. The thought of telling him he was not helping was something she did not want to do.
“Oh.” Bobby eyed the block, trying not to appear crestfallen. He shrugged nonchalantly and peered down at his hands. “I guess if you give me a bucket or something, I could---”
Before he was able to finish his sentence, a SNIKT pierced the air. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a glint of light reflecting off steel-like blades. Bobby soon figured out that the blades were not steel, but were adamantium. Just as quickly as he made that conclusion, pieces of ice started flying about him. Startled and terrified, he jumped and scurried towards the kitchen table nearby. His heartbeat was thudding in his ears, which drowned the sound of the blades slicing into the ice. He watched with stunned eyes, along with Kurt and Cook, as shards of ice continued to scatter around them.
Within seconds, all was still again. Mist emanating from the island wafted in the air. Pieces of ice were piled on the island, threatening to spill onto the floor. A smirking Logan stood over the crystals, his rugged face looming over one of the piles. Grinding his trademark Cohiba between his teeth, he shook the excess moisture from one set of claws.
“That help?” he asked Cook. Had he been in a more smug mood, he would have flashed a smile.
Cook swallowed, staring at the cubes of ice on the butcher block top and then at the Wolverine. She licked her lips quickly and blinked. All years working for the Professor and his school, she should not have been so shocked over what just happened. The Englishwoman had witnessed many things that made her question her own sense of reality. Knowing people who could walk through walls or shoot rays of light from their eyes was the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, she had thought so long ago. Now, it seemed so commonplace. And yet, watching Mr. Logan tear apart the ice with his sharp claws was something that still managed to shock her. Perhaps she was not as jaded as she once thought.
“Aye, me,” she breathed, her eyes as round as saucers. She placed a chubby hand over her chest. “Cheers, Mr. Logan.” If she weren’t reeling from her surprise, she would have scolded him for bringing that disgusting cigar into her kitchen. He knew better.
Logan nodded briefly at her, and then eyed Drake. He saw that the young man was standing next to Kurt. Bobby’s face seemed to be drained of all color as his mouth formed an expressionless line. The older man could not help but smirk again as he saw fear and terror in Drake’s eyes.
He turned on his heel to exit the kitchen. As he wandered out the door, he called out, “Let me know if you need crushed ice. I can definitely do something about that.” He threw Bobby a knowing look before he left.
Closing his bedroom door, Logan exhaled. He put out his cigar in the glass ashtray one of the students gave him last year. Despite being in the States for some time now, his body was still readjusting the different time zone. It was not at all debilitating, but slightly annoying. He disliked the fact that he found himself growing exhausted by the late afternoon. Seeing the medical staff did not help all that much. Both Hank and Cecilia explained that it was normal for weeks to pass and that nothing was wrong with him. Logan, used to being in top physical shape, was dissatisfied with the response he received.
The loner decided to take matters into his own hands. Riding on his motorcycle around town always seemed to provide an adrenaline rush. Shortly after his Danger Room session with Ororo, he hopped on his bike and raced out of the mansion. The briskness of the wind sliding along his cheeks and rumpling his thick hair often awakened his mind and his body. However, this was not the case this afternoon. Logan found himself cutting short the ride through town. He was tired and desperately needed some rest. All he could think of as he parked his vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle was his inviting bed.
Unlike the well-furnished rooms in the mansion, the room Logan called his sanctuary was bare. There was nothing that indicated any attachment to this place. The walls were stark, devoid of any photographs or paintings. On the far side of the room was a plain dresser, which was half-filled with the clothing he had brought with him from his last trip. Against the wall closest to the door was his bed—a queen-sized mattress and box spring on a metal frame. Next to his bedside was a small, wooden table with a black desk lamp and an alarm clock. On the other bedside table was a box of Cohibas. Underneath the box was the dog-eared photograph he often carried of a thirteen-year-old Jubilee.
He stripped off his weathered, leather jacket before kicking off his scuffed boots. Rubbing his rough hands over his stubble-ridden face, Logan sank onto the bed. He closed his eyes in bliss. Ahhhhh....
The only thing as satisfying as lying in bed was seeing Drake’s expression. It was priceless. If Logan weren’t so drained, he would have barked with laughter. He had been standing in the hallway as Drake showed off his abilities. Granted, he was trying to help Cook with the party, but he seemed so full of himself. Logan knew he had to take him down a notch or two.
Watching the young man cower in terror as he tore apart the block of ice into pieces was almost too much. Logan nearly lost his concentration, trying not to snort and snicker. He was convinced that having that much fun in the kitchen should have been illegal. Logan wished he had a video camera to record the entire scene. He would have loved to play it for the Cajun. Gambit would have definitely appreciated the whole thing.
As he settled into a comfortable position in bed, his mind mulled over the past few weeks. It was still hard to believe that his Jubilee was now dating. Even more mind-boggling was the fact that she was seeing Drake. At first, he couldn’t even picture the two of them together as a couple. Besides the fact that he was still attached to the idea of Jubilee as a child, Logan had been convinced that Drake was asexual. After all, what kind of man, interested in any kind of relationship, would wear those ridiculous Hawaiian shirts? Not that Logan could talk as he often sported the ultra-casual, lumberjack style, but at least his tastes were a little more subdued than Drake’s. Some of the prints the younger man wore were almost blinding to the eyes.
And yet, Drake was with his Jubilee. Logan watched with amazement as he observed the two of them walking the grounds of the mansion together. They were not all over each other like some couples. If they were, Logan knew he would have to definitely do something about that. No, the two were quite careful when it came to public displays of affection. The most he ever saw was Drake’s arm around her shoulders.
The loner also noticed there was something different about the two of them when they were together. He saw that Jubilee, true to her words when she first disclosed the relationship, was happier. In fact, she was radiant. Her dazzling smiles and her tinkling, girlish laughs, which once were reserved for him, now found another target in Bobby Drake. It had been some time since Logan had seen her in such high spirits. After all the pain---emotional and physical---she had to endure during her young life, she deserved it.
For his part, Drake seemed to be just as enamored with Jubilee. Unlike the anxious bundle of nerves Logan encountered in the kitchen, the young man was relaxed and at ease. He could tell from the way Drake interacted with her, the young man was sincere. There was nothing duplicitous or seamy about his motives. Drake was simply happy to be with her.
Given all this, Logan was not sure what to think. He wanted to Jubilee to be happy. As someone who loved and cared about her as his own, there was nothing more he wanted. However, he was not all that thrilled about the fact she was dating in the first place. It also bothered him that she decided the person she wanted to be with was Drake. Like Scott and many around the mansion, Logan was present at the wedding. He witnessed the young man profess his continued love and affection for the abandoned bride. After learning that Drake was Jubilee’s boyfriend, Logan was tempted to have a ‘friendly’ talk with the young man to set him straight. And if his claws just happened to be unsheathed during this talk, then what was the worse that could happen?
But he made a promise.
He made a promise to Jubilee.
And Logan never broke his promises.
He grunted quietly, suppressing a growl. There were countless times he could have ambushed and confronted Drake. The kid wasn’t with him all the time. How could she find out? Drake, being a guy, would never cry and tattle on him to her. And yet, Logan found that those old-soul, blue eyes that implored him not to harm Drake restrained him. He cursed himself for his lack of resolve. Perhaps it was true. Getting older did mean getting softer.
Logan closed his eyes again, willing the conflict out of his consciousness. As he drifted into slumber, he thought about life years ago. It was a simpler time for him. Back then, he was a young girl’s hero and beloved companion. All they really needed was each other. There were no secondary father figures, no boyfriends. It was a world-weary man and an energetic child against the rest of the world. That seemed to be enough to sustain the two of them over the years.
He was startled from his sleep when his ears picked up on a soft rapping at his door. The Canadian native contemplated barking a series of expletives, but decided against it. Logan remembered that school was in session for the fall. The person on the other side could have been a student. He could imagine another lecture by Scott and the Professor about swearing in front of the children---again. Groaning, he opened his eyes and swung his wiry legs over the side of the bed. Then he ambled towards the door, still groggy from his nap.
He yanked open the door to find Kitty standing before him. The young woman who preferred sweatshirts and jeans as standards in her closet seemed transformed. She wore a plum-colored, satin, low-cut, halter gown, which reached her ankles. Instead of sneakers, Kitty sported a pair of strappy, violet heels. Her wavy, brown locks were pulled back in a sleek bun. Usually not one to wear make-up, the young woman seemed to make a special exception. Her cat-like, brown eyes were dramatically lined with dark- brown shadow and brown liner, while her heart-shaped mouth was painted a faded plum. Kitty’s round cheeks were flushed with a warm pink, contrasting against her eyes.
Blinking in surprise, Logan muttered, “Where’s the party?”
She played with the gold Star of David around her neck. “Downstairs,” she replied, staring up at him incredulously. “Why aren’t you dressed? Everything’s supposed to start in ten minutes!”
He looked at her quizzically. Usually, the Professor did not force him to attend the socials that were held for the students and their parents. He wondered why he had to go to this one. From the way Kitty was glaring at him, it seemed important that he be present.
Logan grunted, raising a brow at her. “Let me just throw on a shirt over what I got on...” he began.
“Are you crazy?” Kitty demanded, shaking her head in disapproval. Her eyes roved over the red flannel shirt, gray T-shirt, and dark jeans with boots he was wearing. “You can’t go downstairs in that. The Professor and Jean will kill you, among other people...”
He raised a stony brow at her. He almost forgot how excitable she could be sometimes. “Fine,” he relented flatly. “What do you want me in?”
“Your suit should be hanging on the outside of your closet,” she informed him, as music from below began to drift upstairs. The tinkling of piano keys complemented the steady bass and beating of snare drums. The lush melody from a string quartet soon joined the symphony of sounds.
He wasn’t sure he heard her correctly. She must have been mistaken. There was nothing remotely resembling a suit in his wardrobe. He left that kind of pretty-boy attire to the likes of Summers and Worthington. “My what?”
She motioned for him to turn around, which he did. Sure enough, hanging neatly on his closet door was a classically tailored, black tuxedo with a crisp, white shirt. In the breast pocket of the jacket was a black bowtie. Logan was dumbfounded. Never had he ever been asked to wear something like this and for a party no less. What was going through the Professor’s baldhead?
He whipped around to face Kitty. “You gotta be kiddin’ me,” he said, growling. “There’s no way I’m wearin’ that .”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Listen, don’t shoot the messenger, OK? Besides, you have to wear it. You don’t want to tick off everyone, do you?” Noticing the twinkle in the older man’s eyes, she sighed and shook her head. “Come on, Logan. It’ll only be for a couple of hours...”
He winced slightly, recognizing the pleading tone. Jubilee had used it when she begged him not to hurt Drake. He wanted to believe he was stronger and had more resolve than to give in. After all, he was the Wolverine, the man who took no pity on his enemies, who fought fiercely for what he felt was true and right. With the exception of a few close friends, he was feared by most of the residents.
But for some reason, he realized Kitty had a point. It was important for him to do this. He wasn’t sure why, though.
“Fine,” he grumbled, narrowing his eyes in disdain.
Pleased, Kitty smiled up at him. “Do you need help?” she inquired, glancing at the tuxedo and then at Logan. She was not entirely convinced he could manage the bowtie.
“No.” Promptly, he shut the door. He eyed the formal suit that hung over the door with disgust. Then without another word, he proceeded to strip out of his clothes and changed into the dreaded suit. Logan tried to tell himself that he had experienced much more painful things in his lifetime. He had his memory erased, claws implanted against his will, his adamantium skeleton removed once, and watched the loves of his life leave him. Surely, he could live through this ordeal. Schmoozing with parents and students in an itchy, starch-laced suit couldn’t be that difficult. If someone like One-Eyed could do it, then why couldn’t he? Nevertheless, he made a mental note to have a discussion with Professor Xavier later on.
Logan was buttoning up his white tuxedo shirt when there was another knock on the door. He scowled as he called out gruffly, “I don’t need help.”
Instead of Kitty’s high-pitched voice, a deeper, more mature voice informed him, “I never said you did.”
The faint scent of sandalwood filled his nostrils. There was only one person who smelled like that. He didn’t have to turn around to know who it was. His scowl was quickly replaced by an amused smile. Logan finished buttoning up before turning to face his visitor.
Ororo watched him slip on his black tuxedo jacket, noting how well it fit his sleek, wiry form. “This is an interesting sight,” she commented, tucking a lock of white hair behind her ear.
“Don’t get used to it,” he groused, realizing that she had never seen him in anything other than his flannel shirts and jeans, or his black leather field uniform. Less than five minutes had passed since he put on the suit. He could not help but uncomfortable already. Inwardly, he hoped he would only have to endure this torture for a brief period of time.
Then his eyes flicked over at the weather goddess. Always the fashion icon, Ororo was even more dressed up than usual for a school social. She wore a Tiffany-blue, sateen strapless dress, which was cinched at the waist by a white satin ribbon. A pair of pale pink heels completed the outfit. Her thick, white hair flowed down her graceful shoulders, accenting the coffee-color to her skin. Her exotic, elegant features were dramatically made-up with heavy liner around her eyes and red lips.
Logan was almost taken aback as to how stunning she was at that moment. He had always been aware of her beauty, but it was not until now that he understood why the Professor had called her “his rose”. Not wanting to appear totally at a loss, he quickly turned away from her and set to work on his tie.
“You clean up good,” he remarked gruffly, staring at his craggy face in the mirror. As he struggled with the tie, he compared the piece of fabric to some sort of noose. At least with a noose, I get relief sooner...
He saw her in his reflection, just past his shoulder. She smiled at him, crossing her slender arms over her chest. “I take that as a compliment?”
“Call it what you want, Princess.” Logan shrugged, finally setting the knot in place. Satisfied, he turned around to face her again.
Her eyes sparkled with warmth. “Then I extend the same to you, Logan,” she replied, watching him carefully as he walked towards her. “Perhaps, you will save me a dance later on?”
He smirked at her. “I don’t dance,” he informed her abruptly. Then he leaned towards the dazzling weather goddess. “But there are other things we can do.”
Ororo pursed her shimmering, pink lips as she stared back at him. “For a moment there, I thought you were Gambit,” she chided.
A low growl escaped from his lips. He stepped backwards, trying not to flinch. While he and the Cajun were friends, the idea of being compared to Gambit bothered him. What was more irritating was the pleased, smug expression on Ororo’s face.
She extended a graceful hand to him. “Come, Logan,” she drawled in a soothing, placating tone. “Let us see how the rest of the preparations are going.”
“Would you rather sit in your room and wait?”
“I’d rather be somewhere else and wearing something else.”
“Obviously, you cannot do that. Come, Logan. Please keep this Princess company.”
The two of them strode down the hallway together amid the bustling and chatter coming from behind various closed doors. The music from downstairs was growing louder and louder as he edged closer to the stairs. He couldn’t recognize the tune they were playing, but assumed it was probably something old and classical. His nose picked up on a mixed bouquet of scents---flowers, food, and scented candles. Not very unusual for a social for the parents and the students, especially when Jean and the Professor were involved as planners. Together, Logan and Ororo descended down the spiral staircase.
When they reached the main floor, household employees dressed in white tuxedo shirts and black slacks were scurrying from the kitchen to either the living room or towards the patio. One of the employees was carrying a tray of hollowed-out grape tomatoes, stuffed with lightly dressed greens. Laughing and boisterous conversation from the living room and each of the recreation rooms could be heard as well. White candles provided a soft glow to the mansion. Garlands of white narcissus and star-shaped orinthogalum lined the railing and the banister. Apparently, the Professor was looking to go all out for this party.
Linking her arm through his, Ororo led him into the kitchen. Cook stood in the middle of the room, calling out orders to the employees carrying various trays in and out of the room. Despite her frazzled demeanor, she was dressed to the nines. The chubby Englishwoman wore a khaki cotton pantsuit with a champagne top. Her brown-and-gray hair was swept back in a casual bun. Usually, during a large-scale event, she would be in her usual apron and all-purpose, gray dress. Logan wondered if the Professor had talked her into getting into more formal attire as well.
Behind her was Gambit. Wearing a tuxedo similar to the one Logan had on, the Cajun thief looked as if he stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine. His bow tie, made of burgundy silk, complemented the red in his eyes. Thick, wavy auburn hair and slight stubble added to the appeal of the notorious charmer.
This afternoon found the Cajun attempting to sneak something to his sculpted lips other than a woman’s mouth or hand. Very stealthily, he hovered over Cook’s masterpiece for the party. It was a hexagonal, three- tiered, lemon cake, covered in light-blue fondant with swirls of white icing for piping. He was about to dip a finger into the frosting when Cook turned around. Her face turned an unnatural shade of red as she slapped his hand away.
“Mr. LeBeau!” she screamed, storming towards him.
Logan snickered as Gambit attempted to play innocent. With a lazy grin, he placed an arm around Cook’s shoulders. “Chère,” he drawled huskily, pulling her towards him. “Gambit only wanted to appreciate dis masterpiece you worked so hard to create. You can’t be too mad about dat, chère. How about you let Gambit have a little taste, non?”
Her glassy eyes peered up at him, stunned. She was speechless for only a few seconds. Suddenly, her head snapped back up and she pulled away, slapping his arms.
“Get out, you bloody wanker!” she shrieked, continuing to assault him as he backed away from her quickly. “I don’t want to see you in ‘ere again! Do you ‘ear me?”
Gambit, surprised and shocked that his trademark charm failed to enrapture the Englishwoman, retreated from the kitchen. As he passed by Logan and Ororo, who were both laughing, he expressed his disbelief. “Hell hath no fury like a Cook crossed,” he muttered, pulling out a cigarette.
“Serves you right, Gumbo,” Logan commented, watching him stride towards the living room. He noticed how crowded it was; filled with people he had not seen in quite some time. For example, Sean Cassidy, former headmaster of the Massachusetts Academy, was talking to the Summers brothers. While Alex appeared to be cheerful and talkative, his older brother looked less than thrilled to be at the party. In fact, if Logan did not know better, he could have sworn Scott was grimacing.
Well, look at that, Logan thought, smirking. I’m not the only miserable bastard here. Who would have thought One-Eyed and I share something? All I need is a beer and this shindig will be complete.
A part of him was curious as to what was up Scott’s craw. During most of these events, he often made a point to meet and greet all the parents who attended the parties. As Professor Xavier’s right-hand man, he saw himself as another emissary for the school. It was very strange to see Scott acting very antisocial. Then again, he could have had a lover’s quarrel with Jeannie over something. The thought brought a broad smile to Logan’s lips. It was not that he still pined for the statuesque redhead, but the idea of bumpy roads in their domestic bliss was quite amusing.
He was about to ask Ororo and Cook where the bar was set up when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he found Jubilee’s friend and former roommate, Paige Guthrie. The tall blonde from Kentucky was formally dressed as well, but Logan observed something unusual. It was then that he noticed she was wearing the same dress and shoes Ororo was currently sporting.
Raising a brow at her, he asked, “Are you and Ororo trying to go for the twin look?”
“What?” Paige gave him a quizzical look, and then shook her blond head. “No... Never mind. Jubilee wants to see you.”
Logan stepped away from Ororo, nodding at the young girl next to him. “Great,” he said, “I need to get out of the mansion for a while anyway.”
Paige frowned lightly, creasing her smooth forehead. “What are you talking about? She’s upstairs, not at Scott and Jean’s. Come on.”
Gently, she took his hand in hers and began to weave through the thickening crowd in the hallway. Her pace became more brisk as they reached the stairs. They climbed up the spiral staircase quickly. Then the two of them made their way to her room, which was next to Worthington’s. No big surprise.
She opened the door slowly, prodding Logan inside. “Be nice,” she warned him in a whisper. The young girl then stepped away from the door and closed it behind him.
What is she talking about? Be nice? Logan scowled, loosening his tie slightly. He was convinced that this day was getting stranger and stranger with each passing second. Either he had done or said something in sleep towards Jubilee, or Paige was completely oblivious to their relationship.
He was startled out of his thoughts at the sound of that soft voice which tugged at his heart constantly. His green eyes widened as he took in the vision before him. He could feel his mouth dry and his stomach sink to his feet.
“Kid?” he managed, still not believing his own eyes. He walked to her, needing to take a closer look. It was almost as if by doing so it would confirm what he was seeing. His steps ceased when he realized he was not having a hallucination.
Standing on the other side of the room was Jubilee. She appeared angelic and ethereal as she smiled at him. The young girl was wearing a white, silk kimono-style dress. The V-neck accentuated her slender neck. Meanwhile, the embroidered lace on the flowing sleeves and the fitted, satin bodice added to the flawless image. Her long, silky black hair was pulled back from her delicate features in a partial updo. Black waves with midnight-blue highlights flowed down her slim shoulders. Jubilee’s creamy skin was lightly colored with some pink make-up.
“How do I look?” she asked shyly. Her sapphire eyes were staring at him expectantly.
It took Logan awhile to collect his thoughts. He never saw Jubilee like this, ever. She was so beautiful it was unreal. The shock to his system was similar to being immersed in cold, harsh water after a deep sleep. “You look.... You look good.”
She grinned. “Thank you, Wolvie,” she whispered, leaning over and kissing his stubble-ridden cheek. Then she added teasingly, “You couldn’t shave today?”
“Didn’t have time,” he answered quickly, watching her saunter towards Paige’s suede-covered, sleigh bed. There was something about the situation, something about seeing Jubilee just now that made him uneasy inside. Like the other residents, she would dress nicely for the annual parties the Professor organized for the parents and students. But there was something different about the way she looked now.
“What’s wrong?” Jubilee’s soft voice interrupted his musings. Her back was turned to him. From Logan’s vantage point, she appeared as if she were searching for something on the bed.
He shook his head quickly, as if to clear his head. “Um, nothing.”
“You’re awfully quiet today.”
“Well, more so than usual.”
“You know how I hate gettin' dressed up like some kind of monkey.”
“Yeah, I know that. Thanks, Wolvie.”
“Kid, you don’t have to...”
“No, but I do. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“Yeah, well... You would have been OK anyway. You’re stronger than you think.”
“Maybe so, but you helped out a lot. More than you know.”
Jubilee turned around. Her sapphire-blue eyes were shining as she smiled at him. “Don’t,” she said, shaking her head. “In spite of what you think, you’ve always been there. You’re the one who said you wouldn’t let me fall, remember?”
He didn’t remember ever saying something like that. Then again, he offered a great deal of guidance to the young girl over the years. His memory was never an enhanced mutant ability, either. Perhaps he did say that, along with other things. After all, he was the one who taught her how to curse like a sailor.
She briefly turned her head to the open window by Paige’s bed, a soft, and gentle breeze flowing through the room. Taking a deep breath, she walked towards him. “Well, let’s get going. There are tons of people downstairs, waiting.”
“Waiting for what?” he demanded, raising a stony brow at her. The Professor, Jean, and One-Eyed shared billing for the spotlight at these parties. Most of the instructors and teammates primarily attended for the food and the occasional conversation with a concerned parent. No, there was definitely something different about this gathering. It was unsettling, but Logan could not put his finger on what it was.
His puzzlement soon faded when his eyes lowered from her lovely face to her hands. Those small, delicate hands clutched a bouquet of lilies of the valley and lisianthus with a collar of white feathers. Jubilee was not one to wear a great deal of jewelry, which was why Logan was surprised to see her left hand. Around her ring finger was a white gold, floral eternity band with round diamonds.
It was then that Logan realized that this was not another one of Xavier’s school functions.
Suddenly, his blood ran cold.
No, it couldn’t be.
Not like this.
Not this soon.
The self-proclaimed loner was so consumed by his own troubling thoughts that he did not feel Jubilee’s slender arm slip through his. He almost jumped at the sensation. His stunned eyes roved over the attractive face of the young girl next to him. There was a dreamy, but earnest quality to her expression. He had seen that face before.
“He’s so good to me. And I... I haven’t been this happy in a long time. It’s because of him.”
Logan nearly winced, his mind reeling to a conversation that seemed to take place so recently. How could this be happening now? Questions regarding the plausibility of the situation raced through his brain. His head was spinning.
“Wolvie?” Jubilee tugged at his arm gently, trying to lead him to the door. “Wolvie, come on. It’s time.”
He wanted to tell her no. He wanted to keep her in this room. He wanted to lock her away.
And, yet he did none of those things.
Much to his chagrin, Logan allowed her to walk him to the door. It was a surreal experience as he watched his own hand open it. He felt as if his head was detached from his body. Walking down that spiral staircase and down the hallway did not seem real. The live music was distorted in his ears, overwhelmed by the racing of his heartbeat. His mind kept commanding him to question her about whether or not this was the right decision. He even willed his feet to stop moving, but to no avail. Some unseen, powerful force pushed him along.
Now I know why One-Eyed was upset.
They soon reached the French doors of the living room, which were opened to the spacious grounds. A large, white plywood platform was placed right outside of the doors, where guests were seated in white chairs. The chairs along the aisle had glass jars of white orchids hanging on the backs. Logan recognized many of the guests as teammates and instructors at the Institute. Their smiles and expressions of pride and awe ate away at him, making him feeling like dirt for not sharing their feelings. As he and Jubilee reached the end of the aisle, he saw Kurt standing at the other end, wearing his priest’s collar. Paige, Ororo, Rogue, and Jean flanked one side of him, all wearing identical dresses and shoes. Rogue was the only one who stood out, adding a pair of white opera gloves to her outfit. On the other side of Kurt were Warren and Hank, wearing tuxedos similar to the one Logan was in.
And then there was him .
Logan struggled to suppress a bitter growl. He watched with murderous eyes as Drake turned to face them. His limbs were paralyzed as Jubilee extracted her arm from his and clasped hands with the boyish young man. The two exchanged radiant smiles in greeting. There were a million of things Logan wanted to do at that moment---throwing Jubilee over his shoulder and carrying her away from this ridiculous charade being at the top of the list.
Drake leaned towards him, grinning cheerfully. “Just think,” he whispered, “by the end of the ceremony, I can call you Pops or Wolvie. Which do you prefer?”
That did it. With a pain-filled, anguished cry, Logan unsheathed his adamantium claws. He then lunged at Bobby, still screaming.
Logan felt his body jerk against the firm mattress that cradled his body. His eyes flew open as sweat poured down his cheeks. It took him a second to realize he was still yelling at the top of his lungs. Closing his mouth, he exhaled heavily. All a dream, he said to himself, relieved but nonetheless reeling from the experience. The realistic quality of the dream continued to rattle him.
He peered down at one his hands, noticing something was stuck. His claws were indeed out and were buried in a nearby pillow. Feathers were flying around him, scattering across his bed and the floor. Taking a shaky breath, he retracted his claws and shook his head wearily.
home prior chapter next chapter fiction gateway