saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 11 (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 Eleven: La Cienega Just Smiled

Late fall grew colder and colder in Westchester, accompanied by brisk winds. Gray skies often predominated with rare appearances from the sun. While it was still too mild for snow, one could often feel the chill in anticipation of the most obvious sign of winter’s arrival. The grass, once littered with fallen leaves from the many trees surrounding the mansion, was often frosted from the moist and cold air. It was only a matter of time until the major holidays came, marking the season.

The change in the atmosphere outside was complemented by a shift in the atmosphere from inside the mansion. Weeks following what soon became known as ‘The Incident’, Scott’s demeanor became less hostile towards Bobby. While the leader of the team was making no effort to embrace Bobby and give him his approval, Scott was sincere in his attempts to mend things. The angry, piercing glares lessened in frequency and soon disappeared altogether. His tone of voice was less sharp and haughty whenever he and Bobby spoke. Granted, it was evident to those who knew him well that he was still ambivalent about the relationship. Every once in a while, Scott’s jaw would clench tightly. It was as if he were fighting off the urge to say something to either Jubilee or Bobby about his true feelings.

Scott was relieved that no one had bothered to comment about the change. He felt it would simply draw more attention to the situation---something he could definitely do without. He was still recovering from the new and strange position he was in. No longer allowed to play the role of the overprotective paternal figure, he was relegated to watch her take on the responsibilities of being an adult. That meant forcing himself to back down from his old habits. Needless to say, Scott found it to be a rather painful experience.

For his part, Bobby was grateful for the reduction in tension and friction between himself and Scott. It certainly made life easier. He could finally exist in the mansion without feeling like a slime ball. The fact that his friends and teammates were no longer making comments about how he was a dead man walking also helped. He wasn’t sure how much more teasing he could take without freezing someone’s lips shut.

Yet, he could not help but feel somewhat miffed about Jubilee going to bat for him. Not that she gloated or made him feel emasculated. It was just that Bobby felt it was responsible to take care of the situation as he saw fit. He wanted to be the one to confront Scott. After all, he was the source of the hostility, not Jubilee.

It was difficult for Bobby to approach Jubilee about the situation. In the weeks that followed, he vacillated between being grateful for having someone defending him and wishing he was the one who had done the job in the first place. He tried to hide this conflict from her, throwing out the easygoing façade she was so used to. Initially, he thought this had worked. After all, why make unnecessary waves in something that was going right? Unlike previous relationships, things were going quite smoothly beyond the two-week marker. There was no way he was going to say or do anything to ruin that.

However, Jubilee suspected something was afoot. Bobby was being too cheery and there was a stiff, plastic quality to his mood. She could not help but sense he was trying to keep something from her. On several occasions, she attempted to call him on his behavior. Almost reading the situation immediately, he would quickly change the subject. She instantly recognized this pattern of behavior as some coping mechanism he resorted to in the face of stress. For a while, she allowed herself to play along, for his peace of mind. However, as the weeks passed, Jubilee realized that by going along with this routine, Bobby’s tense state remained.

The young couple were in his room that evening, watching a pre-Halloween movie festival on one of the local stations. Most of the selections ranged from the classic ‘Nosfaratu’ to the campy ’Friday the 13th’ series. Having seen many of these films numerous times, Bobby and Jubilee were providing their running commentary throughout. It was like their own version of ‘Mystery Science Theatre’.

As the credits rolled across the television screen, Bobby stretched his arms over his head and leaned against the headboard of his bed. “These kids,” he said, shaking his head. “They’re so easy to kill nowadays. Did you see that one girl wandering in the woods in the dark? She was like, ‘Hello? Is anyone there?’ Nothing. And then she’s like, ‘OK... I’m gonna get naked and take a shower now...’”

Jubilee took a sip of her water. “Which girl?” she snickered, rolling her blue eyes. “There were like five that did just that.”

“Oh, yeah...” He took the plastic bottle from Jubilee to take a swig of his own. “Still, I’m disappointed.”

She turned to face him. Her delicate features arranged themselves into a quizzical _expression. “Why’s that?” she asked.

He shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, being who we are, I guess nothing Hollywood can come up with is all that scary,” he replied, his face illuminated by the glow from the screen. “Crazy axe murderers and old vampires are like kids’ play compared to Magneto and the likes.”

She nodded. “I get your point.”

“Well, there’s that, and I wanted you to grab onto me,” he admitted sheepishly. “It’s just my luck that I’m going out with someone completely fearless.” As he uttered his last sentence, Bobby was uncertain as to whether he meant it as a joke or if he was truly sincere. Perhaps it was a little of both?

Jubilee drew her knees to her chest. “That’s not true,” she told him. “There are plenty of things that scare me.”

He gave her a skeptical look. “Really? Name some.”

“You’re not going to use this information for future practical jokes?” she asked warily.

He feigned a wounded _expression, clutching his chest. “Jubes, you know me.”

“That’s why I’m asking, funny man.”

“Just tell me, OK?”

“Well, here goes... I hate small spaces. Totally freaks me out.”

“Why’s that?”

“I feel like I can’t breathe, can’t move, you know. It also reminds me of...”

“Being stuck in the elevator with Juggernaut?”

“No. Never mind.”

“Sorry. What then?”

“When I was taken---both times.”

Suddenly, he felt like a jerk. Real smooth, Drake, he sarcastically told himself. “Jubes...” he began.

She shook her head, sensing his anger at himself. “It’s OK. I can talk about it.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to... I mean if it’s too much, then maybe...” A worried frown creased his forehead.

Her sapphire eyes bore into his, strength radiating from those shining pools. “I’m fine, really.” The way she spoke punctuated her determination to discuss the experience.

Bobby nodded reluctantly. The last thing he wanted to do was to force her to relieve horrific memories. That was not where he was going with the conversation at all. He clasped her tiny hand in his, squeezing it slightly.

She sighed. “Being put in that box was worse than anything they did. I mean I would have rather been starved, beaten, and screamed at three times over if they didn’t put me in that box. It was so small and dark and quiet. No matter how many times I tried to knock down the walls, I was still stuck. I kept crying for someone to let me out because I was so scared. No one ever came.”

Her slender shoulders straightened as she continued to speak. “It was like they knew I hated being in there. I mean, when the Church of Humanity took Angelo and me, they did the same thing. It was almost as if Bastion sent them a recipe as to how to deal with me.” An uncharacteristically dry and bitter laugh escaped from her lips. “Maybe I should be flattered.”

Bobby wanted to tell her that she didn’t need to think about that anymore. And yet, he did not. For some reason, it would feel like he was taking something away from her. Instead, he nodded at her in encouragement and support.

She lifted her arms and pushed up the sleeves of her salmon-colored sweater. Her eyes traveled to her wrists. While most people could not detect them, she could always tell they were there. Tiny, faint scars marred the insides of her wrists. They were a constant reminder of what she had gone through and what was lost. It was this ordeal coupled with the one at the hands of Bastion that finally made her realize that she was no longer a carefree child. Losing one of her close friends and nearly dying had seen to that. As much as she portrayed the well-adjusted Jubilee, there were things that continued to eat away inside of her to this day.

“I look at these every once in a while,” she said quietly, pulling down at her sleeves. “They make me think and reflect about what happened during those times, especially the time I spent in that box. I used to relieve the whole thing and would totally panic. Some nights were really bad. Scott or Jean would have to sit in my room just until I fell asleep.

“One night, I decided I couldn’t be scared anymore. I was really sick of it, you know? It was like every time; I became someone’s victim all over again. That’s no way to live. So, to counter all that fear, I think about what’s really important and good in my life. You know, like everyone here...and you.” She stared up at him, sapphire eyes shining.

Then she quickly shook her head. “Don’t get me wrong. I still hate small spaces. If I could avoid them all the time, I would. Now, it’s a little easier to deal with them.”

Bobby observed her in stunned silence. She had never openly and directly discussed either incident with anyone other than the Professor or Hank. Hearing her speak about her ordeal was overwhelming. The fact that she saw him as inspiration for her strength was also amazing.

Inside, he experienced a myriad of emotions. On one hand, he felt privileged to know that she could confide him so easily about something so hard for her talk about in the first place. On the other hand, listening to her speak made him want to exact justice on those who had harmed her. The thought of anyone hurting her was too much for him to bear. So this is how Logan feels, Bobby mused inwardly.

Not knowing how else to respond, he drew her close to him. He felt her head rest gently against his chest as he wrapped his arms tightly around her. Reassuring words seemed to escape him at that moment. He only hoped that holding her would convey what he was feeling---how he admired her courage, her honesty, and how he would never allow anything remotely similar to ever happen to her on his watch. His heart skipped a beat when he felt her arms tighten around him in response.

For Jubilee, there was no safer place to be than right here with Bobby. Being this close to him always brought on those feelings of safety and security. Even as she talked about things she desperately tried to hide from other people, he relayed the fact that he was listening, not judging, and certainly not taking away anything away from the experiences by telling things were okay now. Again, he instilled a sense of peace and tranquility that seemed to be missing for so long. He didn’t have to say anything to her to inform her of this. She just simply knew, and that was good enough for her.

They lapsed into a comforting silence, allowing the sounds from the television act as inconsequential background noise. Bobby began to stroke her hair gently. His mind reeled from her words and how moved he had been. He surmised it must have taken her a great deal of courage and faith in him for her to do that. Sure, they had been dating for several months, but what she shared was rather intense and something she had kept under wraps for some time. There were few around the mansion that were aware of the details or had even heard her account of what happened.

As he continued to hold Jubilee, he soon realized something. He was being ridiculous for holding back his reservations about the situation with Scott. His reluctance stemmed from some silly, unfounded fear of causing some friction and making her want to reconsider being with him. Compared with Jubilee had lain out, Bobby felt low and weak. He exhaled loudly.

“I’m scared of something, too,” he finally said.

She raised her face to peer up at him. “You are?” she inquired rather incredulously. Not that Bobby laughed in the face of danger like Logan, but he seemed to be the first to be out on the front line when a team was needed. He had done so since he was fifteen. What could possibly frighten him?

“I was afraid of telling you... I didn’t want to tell you about how I wasn’t cool with the whole Scott thing,” he blurted out, cheeks burning with embarrassment. Hearing himself make his confession out loud made him feel like an idiot, not to mention a chauvinist pig. He might as well grabbed her by the hair and dragged her off to one of the caves outside of the mansion.

Instead of becoming indignant or haughty, she appeared confused. “Why?”

He looked at her sheepishly, and then averted his gaze from those brilliant sapphire eyes. “It’s just that... I wanted to be the one to handle things with him. On my terms, you know.”

“Oh.” Jubilee shifted slightly against him, nodding slowly. “I guess I could see that.”

Bobby couldn’t tell if she was simmering or if she truly understood. There was a noncommittal quality to the way she spoke. Swallowing hard, he said, “It’s not what you think.”

“And what’s that?” She turned her face up at him.

He frowned before speaking his mind. “That I didn’t like the fact you felt like you had to fight my battle for me.”

“Talking to Scott is like a battle?” she asked, trying to hide the joking tone in her voice. The comparison was rather strange.

“You know what I mean,” he scoffed, tapping her lightly on the shoulder. This confession was hard enough for him to make without Jubilee mocking him.

“Yeah, I do,” she replied, blue eyes twinkling. Then she gave him an apologetic smile as she said, “I was just teasing you.”

“Thanks,” he pretended to grouse, but still somewhat hurt.

Jubilee propped herself on an elbow. “But let me ask you something.”

Bobby nodded with encouragement. “Shoot.”

“Did you ever think I wanted to fight for you? That I didn’t feel like I had to?” Her _expression was suddenly solemn.

“What do you mean?” he inquired, confused. He wasn’t sure where she was going with this conversation.

“Come on, Bobby,” she sighed wearily. “I’m not blind. You tried to keep me in the dark about all this tension between you and Scott, but I saw what was going on. I hated the way he was treating you like some second-class citizen. Worse of all, it was my fault.”

“That’s not true,” Bobby protested. There was a part of him that was disappointed that she managed to sense the underlying conflict between himself and Scott. He thought he had worked so hard to hide that from her, to protect from her all of that.

“It is,” Jubilee corrected in a matter-of-fact tone. “I mean if you were going out with Kitty or Tabitha, he wouldn’t be having these conniptions. Do you disagree?”

“No, he wouldn’t,” he admitted. However, he was not ready to relent. “Still, it doesn’t mean it was your fault. He was just being Scott. There’s no rhyme or reason for it.”

“I don’t know...” Despite Bobby’s reassuring words, she was not ready to believe she was not culpable for the stress in his life.

“Trust me,” Bobby told her, draping an arm around her slim shoulders. “I’ve known the apple-polisher longer than you have.”

“Back to my original point, I wasn’t going to stand around and watch someone I care about get treated like crap. You deserve better than that, Bobby. I’m sorry I didn’t consult with you first, but I wasn’t expecting to do it. Standing up to Scott isn’t something I always do.” There was a wavering quality to her voice, coloring it with some fear and trepidation.

He brushed her hair from her face comfortingly. “I know and I appreciate it, really. I’m sure you did a great job whatever you did. Again, I felt like that was my job. I’m the one he has the beef with, not you. I should have been the one to do it. That kind of responsibility shouldn’t have fallen on your shoulders, Jubes. Telling Scott isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. I’ve seen Logan do it millions of times and I’m still amazed...”

“I know,” she told him quietly. “I have to tell you I was kind of scared. For a while, I thought he was going to make me clean up the Danger Room or something for the rest of my natural life.”

“Then why?” He wasn’t sure why she had forced herself to confront something that she considered frightful. Conquering her fear of small spaces was one thing. After all, that particular fear had the potential to interfere and limit her daily functioning. Of course, she would want to deal with that. But taking down Scott Summers? How was that necessary?

“I told you I can’t be scared of everything anymore.” Jubilee stared up at the boyish face she associated with so many wonderful feelings. Then she added, “Also, I found someone I’d do anything for, no matter what.”

Bobby saw the sincerity and warmth that radiated from those deep-blue depths. Never had he heard someone make such a declaration like that before---at least to him. His heart swelled inside his chest, as it often did when he was with her, but the intensity seemed greater at that moment. All the fears, preoccupations, and insecurities he carried these past weeks faded away. It never ceased to amaze him what kind of effect she had over him. The feelings elicited were infinitely different than anything he experienced with anyone else. He wasn’t sure how to describe them or if he could even put them into words.

Instead, he was only certain of one thing at that moment.

This is what it’s like to be really happy with someone.

He leaned towards her to steal a kiss from her when there was a crash of thunder from outside. She jumped, burying her face against his shoulder. A wry grin tugged at his lips. Amused, he held her comfortingly.

“Maybe I should have asked Storm to provide the spooky mood sooner,” he remarked, finally laughing.

Jubilee pulled back, sticking out her tongue at him. “I was just startled,” she told him. Then she slid off the bed and ambled towards the window. She peered through the blinds. Despite the fact it was pitch- black outside, her eyes detected the rain now falling on the grounds of the mansion. Grimacing, she remembered she left her umbrella at the house. She supposed she could ask Bobby for his spare.

She sighed and grabbed her yellow rain slicker, which had been hanging on the back of his swivel chair. “Well, I should head home before it really starts to pour out there,” she announced, slipping it on.

Bobby watched her prepare for her trip outside. He never liked it when she had to leave. Granted, he would always walk back with her to spend more time with her. But he still missed her.

Suddenly, he said, “You don’t have to go back tonight.”

She slung her black messenger bag over her shoulder. Her brows furrowed together quizzically. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“I mean, why go out and get soaked from the rain when you can stay here tonight?” His gray eyes were expectant as he finished his offer. When she didn’t answer right away, he went on. “You’re off from classes tomorrow anyway, so you don’t have to worry about having to rush around.”

Jubilee bit her lower lip thoughtfully. He was right on both counts. It would be convenient for her to stay the night. Given the fact that Scott and Logan were currently on mission with Jean, there were no paternal figures to hunt for Bobby in the morning. Plus, it would not be the first time they shared a bed together. It would be like that they first night after they kissed.

After several minutes, she made her decision. “Sure,” she replied, playing with the strap of her bag as she placed back on the chair. Then she began to kick off her brown loafers.

“Great.” Bobby grinned, sliding off the bed. For a while there, he thought she was going to decline.

As she took off her slicker, Jubilee’s eyes widened as a thought popped into her head. “I don’t have anything here to wear,” she pointed out.

He sauntered to his dresser. “No worries,” he told her, pulling open a drawer and extracted a George Washington University T-shirt and a pair of gym shorts. He tossed them over at her. “The latest styles, of course.”

She smiled wryly at him and held up the gym shorts. “If these fit,” she said, eyeing the waistband with wariness. “I’ll kill myself.” Then she threw them back at Bobby, giggling.

He pretended to look wounded as she walked towards his private bath, but found himself grinning broadly. Just as she was about to close the door, he said, “There’s an extra toothbrush in the medicine cabinet.”

“Thanks.” With that, the door closed softly.

Inside the bathroom, Jubilee stripped out of her pink sweater, jeans, socks, and bra and then slipped on the T-shirt. The makeshift nightshirt fell below her slim hips. As she brushed her teeth, she realized that this was the first time she was going to spend the night with him. Well, since the night they first got together. She wondered if things would be different now since they were dating. The first time he slept over, both of them had been so emotionally and physically exhausted. There was no nervous anticipation about being with one another. Studying her reflection in the bathroom mirror, she felt things were more planned this time. At the same time, there was a sense of the unknown present as well.

When she stepped out, Bobby was wearing a faded lacrosse T-shirt and a pair of boxers with palm trees printed on them. He gave her a grin in greeting as he flicked off the television with the remote. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he then made his way to her on the way to the bathroom.

“Be right back,” he told her, kissing her forehead. “Take any side you want.”

Inside the bathroom, he quickly brushed his teeth. Excitement flowed through his veins as he thought of Jubilee waiting for him in bed. For Bobby, it was hard for him to recall the last time someone was spending the night in his bed. He amended the last part of that thought to include the specifier, someone he really cared about.

Memories of their first night together began to rush through his head. He remembered how he had slept so soundly, holding her close to him. It seemed like that happened so long ago. Since then, a great deal had happened. None of which he would trade in for the world, including the tension with both Scott and Logan. Bobby thought Jubilee articulated the their relationship perfectly minutes earlier.

“...I found someone I’d do anything for, no matter what.”

He found her lying in bed. Despite the darkness in the room, he could see the sparkle of her eyes as he approached the bed. Climbing underneath the covers with her, he slid over to where she lay. He reached for her and pulled her body close to his. His nostrils inhaled that sweet and comforting scent of bubblegum and cinnamon he had grown to associate with her.

“Hey,” he drawled, his voice suddenly husky to his own ears.

She rested her head against his shoulder and draped an arm around his waist. “Hey,” she responded in greeting.

“Are you comfortable? I can turn up the thermostat if you’re cold.”

“I’m good, Bobby.”

“Do you want me to pop in a CD? I’ve got that one by Wilco you told me to get...”

“That’s OK, but I’d like to know where the mint on my pillow is.”


“Couldn’t resist.”

He pretended to look upset, but could not keep up the charade when he saw her smiling face peering up at him. “You’re lucky I’m crazy about you.”

Her eyes crinkled at the corners playfully. “I know it.”

In the pale shimmer of the autumn moon, Bobby could make out her delicate features in fine detail. The affection that emanated from her expression was genuine. As he stared down at that lovely face, it was hard for to him believe his luck. It was almost strange that he was this happy with someone.

She gave him a perplexed look, confused as to why he staring intently at her like that. “What?”

He shook his head quickly. “Nothing... I’m just glad you stayed.”

She smiled. Then she brushed a lock of sandy hair from his forehead gently. “Me, too,” she whispered.

He rolled over so that she was now beneath him. He then leaned towards Jubilee to kiss her goodnight. At first, his lips simply brushed against hers. She moved against him, her arms circling around his neck to draw him closer. In response, Bobby began to deepen his kiss. He tangled his fingers in her silky hair. His lips teased hers while his tongue tasted and explored her mouth. She gripped his shoulders, letting herself fall into the embrace.

Her sighs between kisses were soothing in his ears. His hands traveled from her hair to her face. They soon slid down her shoulders to her sides. He could feel her slender arms wrap around his neck again as she kissed him. Bobby allowed his lips to graze along her jaw line and ears before making a trail down her throat. Then he buried his face in the curve between neck and shoulder. There, he relished the sweet perfume that emanated from her. Jubilee shuddered against him, running her hands through his hair.

His mouth, warm and gentle, returned to hers. Between kisses, he would smile at her tenderly and she would respond with a radiant grin of her own. Meanwhile, his fingers had made their way down her sides, reaching the hem of the T-shirt she was wearing. Bobby’s fingertips brushed against the soft skin underneath. As they continued kissing, he felt his hands slowly push the shirt up, past her hips and then her waist. He found himself intoxicated with the sensation of the smooth, lush skin underneath his hands. Thoughts of wanting to feel more of her raced through his mind as he continued to lift the T-shirt higher and higher. He could feel a groan escape his lips. Meanwhile, his hands wandered across her belly and upwards towards her chest.

Suddenly, she pulled away, rolling over on her side. Then she turned to face him again. Her eyes were wide as she stared up at him, her lips swollen from their kissing. Breathing heavily, she pushed the T-shirt back down over her hips, covering herself again.

Observing Jubilee’s reaction, Bobby wanted to slap his hand over his forehead. There was no denying that he had frightened her. Inwardly, he cursed himself for not thinking, for not knowing better. Had things gone farther, he wasn’t sure what would have happened. “I---I’m sorry, Jubes,” he managed finally, his boyish face apologetic.

She nodded. After several seconds, she replied softly, “I know... Me, too.”

“Why are you sorry?” he asked, feeling even worse than he did before. “I’m the one who screwed up here. I didn’t mean to push you, scare you... I never wanted to do that. I guess I kind of got carried away.” He looked embarrassed as he struggled to verbalize what he had been thinking. Truth be told, he couldn’t say he really was. It was like he had been operating on instinct.

She watched him frown at himself, as she sat up in bed. Her long, ebony tresses rippled down her shoulders. Sighing, she began to play with a lock of hair nervously. “I was a little freaked,” she admitted, feeling her cheeks flush. “It’s just that... I mean you know you’re the first person I’ve ever dated. It also means I’ve never been with anyone like...this.”

He looked up at empathically. “I know,” he told her quietly, wishing he could erase the last ten minutes.

“Contrary to what most people think, just because I’m for L.A. and I used to live on the streets, doesn’t mean I’m experienced or anything. Up until a couple of years ago, I used to think premarital sex made your teeth and hair fall out.” She rolled her eyes at her stupidity and naïveté. “You must think I’m so dumb or something, huh?”

He shook his head vigorously. “No, never,” he said earnestly, taking her hand and squeezing it. “I don’t think that at all. I’m just worried about making you feel uncomfortable, which I did and I feel like an ass for that. You’re the one who should be upset.”

She squeezed his cool, dry hand back with her warm one. “I’m not,” she whispered. Her eyes focused on their clasped hands. “I just never thought about it, really. Yeah, I know we’ve been dating for a while...”

Bobby sensed a ‘but’ to follow her statement. When she didn’t finish her sentence, he raised his brows expectantly. “What is it, Jubes?” he prodded gently.

“Nothing.” She turned away from him, self-conscious.

He pulled himself up to a seating position and tugged at her shoulder until she faced him again. “You were going to say something. Go ahead. You know you can say anything when you’re with me.”

Jubilee bit her lower lip before answering. “I didn’t know you thought about us that way,” she blurted out, feeling more and more childish with each passing second. Her face and neck with hot with a stubborn blush. It was one thing to talk about these things in a joking way with Paige or Tabitha for laughs. However, discussing the subject with Bobby proved to be a more trying task.

He looked perplexed. “You sound surprised,” he observed quietly. “Does that scare you?”

“No, I don’t think so,” she said slowly, as if she had taken some time to consider the question before. “I know you’re not with me for that reason alone.”

Bobby shook his head patiently. “No, I’m not. You know, not all men are pigs.”

“I know,” the young girl responded, sapphire eyes wide. “Hanging out together and kissing is one thing, but this is different. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t think you wanted me that way.”

“Is that so hard to believe?” he prodded gently. It was hard for him to believe that she had no idea how desirable she was and how much he really wanted her.

“Kind of. I mean I haven’t attracted that kind of attention before.” Her face continued to burn with embarrassment. She was praying inside that he didn’t think she was some kind of social retard or worse.

“I can’t speak to that, but if you did back then, I know a whole slew of men here who would have a say about it.” He tried to give her a teasing grin, but it merely came out as a grimace.

“But now... But now, you do.” Her voice was hesitant as she stared at him deeply.

“Yeah, I do,” Bobby replied thickly. “I want you very much.”

Jubilee watched his expression change slightly as he made his admission. It was intense, communicating his honesty and his yearning. She felt a sudden surge of warmth spreading over her skin. Unlike the blush earlier, this did not stem from feelings of embarrassment. It seemed to be triggered by awe and wonder. The fact that he felt so strongly about her was almost too much for her to fathom.

“Then why haven’t you tried before, or now?” she finally whispered. It was not an invitation or a challenge, but a simple question.

He leaned towards her, cupping her beautiful face with his hands. His gray eyes stared deeply into the deep-blue depths. “Because when we make love,” he said quietly, resting his forehead against hers, “it should be because we both want to, not just because you feel some pressure from me. It’s supposed to be an expression about how we feel about one another. Feeling like you have to takes away from that.”

She nodded, his words sinking in. Things were now clearer. “So you don’t mind waiting?” she asked, still feeling very childish. He probably never had conversations like this with Lorna or that Opal woman.

He smiled at her tenderly, kissing her forehead. The affection dismissed any fears she had that he viewed her as being immature. “No,” he told her, “I don’t mind. I’d wait as long as forever if I have to.”

She could feel the corners of her mouth tug upwards in a small smile. His words resonated with her deeply. She wasn’t sure when was the last time someone had professed that kind of devotion and care for her. Yet, she could not help but ask, “Really?”

“Really,” Bobby affirmed softly, brushing tendrils of hair from her cheeks. Then he added, echoing her words from earlier that evening, “Because I found someone I’d do anything for, no matter what.”

With that, he lay back down in bed and drew in her into the circle of his arms. There was no need for words to communicate anymore. The comfort of being close to one another was simply enough. For the rest of the night, they held each other until falling blissfully asleep.

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