saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 12 (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 Twelve: King of Yesterday
Scott Summers stuffed his hands into the pockets of his black leather bomber jacket with a gold ‘X’ emblazoned across the chest. He sauntered out of the control room for the training area. His footsteps were loud and brisk across the stainless steel floor of Sub-Basement Level Two of the mansion. After spending many hours in this area, he was eager to make his way back home. Jean was now home from recruiting across the country on Xavier’s behalf. She had been on the road for several weeks, meeting with parents and prospective students about the school. Despite her travel- weariness, the statuesque redhead managed to make a teasing comment when she first arrived home. It was something about Scott being an anti- aphrodisiac for mutant love.
As he was rounding the corner of the long hallway, he noticed Logan exiting the showers. The wiry loner was clad in a white T-shirt, faded jeans, and scuffed black boots. Logan usually engaged in private Danger Room sessions during the late afternoons when the students were in their other classes. According to him, workouts alone were better as he could tear up the robots and cameras to his heart’s content, much to Scott’s chagrin.
Scott braced himself as he neared the other man. While they were no longer at each other’s throat for various reasons, things continued to be tense between them. At this point, he simply resigned himself to the fact that it was part of the dynamic between them. Anything different would be less than acceptable.
When the two finally met, Scott was almost taken aback. Logan’s regenerative abilities helped him to maintain a somewhat youthful appearance (in relation to how old he really was). This was despite the years of smoking, drinking, and other activities that constituted his version of “hard living.” However, that day found the self-professed loner looking quite haggard and exhausted. Lines around his eyes and mouth seemed more deeply etched than usual.
Before thinking, Scott commented, “You look terrible.”
Logan raised a brow at him. “You’re no prize, either,” he retorted, chewing on his Cohiba. Then he remarked flatly, “Surprised you’re still here.” The usually composed leader appeared uncharacteristically rumpled and worn out.
Scott looked perplexed. “What are you talking about?” he asked.
The older man shrugged his sleek shoulders. “I’m talking about this morning’s meeting not going your way,” he replied, smirking slightly. He crossed his arms over his broad chest in smug satisfaction.
Scott’s eyes narrowed behind his visor as he pressed his lips together tightly. He had almost forgotten about that. After watching several hours of news coverage regarding the team and the Professor, Scott mulled over the idea of having all members return to wearing their original, spandex uniforms. He had broached the idea with Professor Xavier, who had been the one to institute the black leather uniforms for everyone. While his mentor did not vehemently oppose the idea, the Professor did express some reservations about the others going along. In retrospect, Scott supposed he should recognized the older man’s trepidations for what they were. His ears began ringing at the memory of the vociferous criticism and sarcastic comments that dominated the responses of his teammates. Even the more reserved members, like Kurt and X’ian, voiced their opposition to the idea.
The chiseled-featured leader grimaced as he returned to the present time. He suppressed an urge to scowl when he noticed Logan with that obnoxious smug grin. It seemed like a permanent accessory for the loner from Canada. Scott racked his brain to come up with something profound and worthy of respect---anything to wipe that irritating expression from Logan’s face.
He was only able to echo an argument he presented that morning. “People find the black leather threatening,” he began sharply. “There’s no need to frighten people more than they already are.”
Logan grunted. “So running around in neon tights is gonna change that? Instead of being scared, they’re either calling the local nut house or laughing their asses off.” I would, he silently added to himself.
“Well, it’s not a dead issue,” Scott cut in, still feeling as if he were on the defensive. More than anything, he hated losing an argument. He didn’t necessarily feel the need to completely his will on everyone (at least not all the time), but this was something he felt quite strongly about. He wasn’t ready to give up just yet. “I’m going to raise this subject again tomorrow. People need to understand the reasoning behind it.”
The other man shrugged nonchalantly. He was not certain that the others were going to allow Scott to bring up the topic for discussion again. He, too, was present at the meeting. It was one of the few gatherings where he was not the one openly challenging Cyclops’s assertions regarding what was best for the team. The change was quite refreshing and amusing when he noticed Scott’s expression during the confrontation.
The younger man’s voice shattered Logan’s musings. “Just don’t throw out your old uniform yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it’s gone.”
“Gone? Where the hell is it?”
“I gave it to the nurse’s kid. He needed a Halloween costume. Said he was going to fix it so he could be some cartoon character... Pickalot or Pickafight? Beats the hell outta me.”
Scott gritted his teeth. The fact that Logan had freely given away his uniform to Carter as means of disposal was bad enough, but the older man seemed to take immense pleasure from what he had done. In fact, he seemed to be triumphant over what he had done. As if making snide comments and constantly questioning Scott’s leadership was not enough, Logan now felt the need to try to make him appear like some authoritarian dictator.
Frustration suddenly boiled over. Scott Summers finally had enough. The line was crossed.
“Do you think this is easy?” he demanded, his voice leveling at a dull roar. “You think this is some kind of joke? You think I’m some kind of joke? Listen, looking after other people’s interests isn’t exactly the easiest job in the world. Someone has to be around to tell other people certain things aren’t necessarily a good idea. Granted I’m not popular most of the time, but it’s a job that has to be done. After all, I’m responsible for keeping people safe and secure. No one around here seems to understand that.”
Logan tried to keep his mouth from gaping open as he stared at Scott Summers in stunned silence. He wanted to believe that the bitter tirade came out of nowhere. It would also be easy and simple to attribute that kind of reaction to the stresses and pressures of being a leader and the Professor’s right-hand man. After all, under those circumstances, it would hardly be surprising. Yet, deep down, Logan knew that was not the case at all. Something else was eating away at Scott Summers. It did not take that much pondering to consider the possibilities. Immediately, Logan realized it was the same thing that kept him up at night.
Usually one to keep his nose out of other people’s affairs, Logan could not help but hear about ‘The Incident’. Initially, he had a couple of yuks over the whole situation. Picturing Summers interrupting Worthington’s intimate moment was enough to bring tears to his eyes. The mirth soon faded as soon as he contemplated the grounds for the other man’s behavior. It was then that Logan understood what compelled Scott to do such a thing. Hell, he would even go as far as to say he condoned it.
Logan was also somewhat aware of the kid’s reaction to the situation. While she never directly discussed it with him, he could tell she had taken care of the matter. There was this expression that consumed her whenever they broached the subject. It was one he recognized from long ago when she was training, trying to prove her worth to the team and the school. One could almost be certain that beneath that mask of resolve was a fierce conviction to fight for what she held dear. Logan pitied the idiot who faced off against that, having had experience with that side of her himself.
Scott’s jaw was clenched tightly. His shoulders heaved as he exhaled wearily. He noticed Logan was now somber, almost pensive. The older man’s eyes, usually cynical and cold, were somewhat empathic---as if he knew the outburst stemmed from something else that had been on Scott’s mind. Pressing his lips firmly together, he shook his head.
“It’s hard to let go sometimes,” he admitted quietly, turning away from the other man’s stare. “I’m so used to thinking about what’s best for other people. I don’t usually take the time to consider their opinions. Being a leader in the field, I don’t have that luxury.”
Logan leaned against the stainless steel wall. “We’re not talking about something on the field,” he remarked in a low voice, referring to what was truly on Scott’s mind. There was no need for the other man to hide behind the guise of another issue.
Scott nodded when he realized that the proverbial jig was up. “I know that,” he conceded. He laughed bitterly. “I never thought I would have a hard time removing myself from that field commander mindset, you know.”
That’s not what the students say, Logan mused inwardly. “Things around here change,” he pointed out matter-of-factly. “It means you have to, too.”
“But you’re handling the changes around here...well.” Scott managed not to grind his teeth as he made his observation. It pained him to think that Logan was more thoughtful and introspective than he was when it came to this situation.
Logan snorted. “What the hell gave you that idea?” he demanded.
“I hear it from multiple sources,” the younger man informed him warily. He tried not to appear disgusted as he continued. In fact, he couldn’t believe he was going to make the following observation. “Let’s say, my behavior as of late makes you look like the poster-child for self- restraint.”
Logan wasn’t sure if he should growl in contempt or to throw his head back and laugh. He decided not to indulge in either. “I’m not too thrilled about this whole thing, bub,” he said very succinctly, green eyes flashing. “Just because I don’t bust down doors or give Popsicle the evil eye all the time, doesn’t mean I care any less. You think I like watching the kid and not doing anything?”
“Then why aren’t you?” Scott countered, confused. From the glowering expression on Logan’s lined face, it was obvious he was frustrated---almost as much as he was.
The other man’s eyes soaked up the floor beneath his feet. “Because things can’t stay the same forever,” he replied in a low voice. He had learned that the hard way when he first returned to the mansion. Finding a grown Jubilee who did not hang on his every word and who did not feel the need to traipse along by his side was a harsh reality for him to accept. While he had made peace with that, there were times when he longed to have the doting child back.
Before Scott could respond, there was a loud clanging noise that came from the main laboratory where Hank primarily worked. Curious, the two men darted towards the area. Having undergone some changes to his body, Hank had recently become quite clumsy. He was taking some time adjust to his new bulkier form. As a result, it was not uncommon to find equipment or supplies scattered across the floor due to a misstep on his part.
Scott shoved open the steel door with Logan following close behind. They found their old friend picking up a couple of screwdrivers from the floor. Hank gave them a sheepish grin before rising to his feet. He then returned to his workbench on the other side of the room.
“No need for alarm,” he assured them, revealing a set of sharp teeth with his smile. “Just a misadventure with my toolbox.”
Scott sauntered after the larger man and stopped by his side. His eyes peered over at what appeared to be a rather intricate stereo receiver. Two large speakers flanked it. “What’s this you’re working on?”
Hank’s fingers fumbled inside his lab coat as he searched for his penlight. “Ah, this? It’s an observational device designed to pick up audio information from various distances. Kitty and I have been working on it since she graduated from college.”
Logan raised a brow at him. “So, you’re eavesdropping on people?”
“I suppose you could see it like that,” Hank replied, pulling the penlight from his pocket. He leaned over the receiver to examine some wires protruding from the back.
Scott shook his head. “Sounds like 1984,” he observed.
Hank reached over to his right, seizing a pair of wire clippers. “In a way,” he said, trimming one set of wires. He straightened his posture, rising to his full height and towering over both men. “However, such technology should prove to be useful during our covert missions.”
“Does it work now?” Logan asked, slightly skeptical. He vaguely remembered a contraption similar to this one used during his Weapon X days. Knowing Hank and the others, he was positive that the instrument would not be misused.
The larger man’s round, blue eyes were quizzical. “I’m not sure,” he answered thoughtfully. His chewed on his lower lip and said, “I suppose we could try it out now in the mansion. Just a brief test---nothing too intensive, I think.”
Scott nodded. “Sounds like a good idea.” Part of him was curious as to how the other team members were reacting to this morning’s meeting. Perhaps some of them had time to consider the validity of his arguments. After all, not everyone would share Logan’s reaction---could they?
Logan was still hesitant about the idea. He crossed his arms over his broad chest. The invasion of other people’s privacy and personal space were two issues close to heart for various reasons. However, he, too, was intrigued with the piece of machinery. The loner decided to keep his opinion to himself.
Leaning over the receiver, Hank proceeded to flick a series of switches and levers. A series of lights flashed on after several minutes. The crackling of static and feedback rang sharply in the air of the laboratory. The former biochemist adjusted the knobs on the receiver to sharpen the signal. A series of “Oh dears” escaped from Hank’s lips as he struggled with the machine. For a moment, he was afraid he had seriously damaged something.
Suddenly, the sound of a door slamming could be heard from both of the speakers. A triumphant smile spread over Hank’s feline features. Then he grabbed a stool and perched himself upon it. Exchanging curious glances, Scott and Logan followed suit. The three men sat around the worktable, entranced.
“Where were you?” Dani’s low and soothing voice inquired. Her voice was quite clear, almost as if she were in the room with them.
Xi’an’s Vietnamese accent was light as she added, “You were supposed to be back for dinner with us an hour ago.”
The individual being chided was none other than Rahne Sinclair, one of their former classmates and good friends. “I don’t remember having to check in with either one of you,” she snapped, the strong Scottish accent she was known for now suppressed. The sound of her feet stomping across the floor was like thunder from the speakers.
The hurt and confusion was evident in Dani’s tone as she said, “You never answered my question.”
“Not in the mood right now,” Rahne told her dismissively. Her voice was fading as if she were walking out of the room.
After a brief silence, one of the young women released a heavy sigh.
Scott’s brows were raised. He had heard stories about the young Scotswoman having a hard time adjusting to life without her abilities. It was hard for him to accept. The young girl was always so polite and so eager to please. Since her return, there were rumors about Rahne racing her motorbike all around town, sneaking cigarettes in the mansion, and encouraging the other students to stay out past curfew.
“What’s with Rebel Without a Clue?” Xi’an mused sarcastically. While she sounded somewhat glib about her observation, one could easily detect the concern in her voice.
Dani was perplexed as she answered her friend. “I don’t know. I wish---”
The young instructor was interrupted by a crackle of static and audio distortion. Quickly, Hank rose from his seat. He began fumbling with the knobs and switches in an effort to enhance the signal. After several seconds, the static faded. Instead of hearing Dani and Xi’an continue their conversation about their friend, the speakers picked up on a series of new voices.
“...Nightcrawler.” Tabitha’s trademark singsong tone was almost shrill as she pronounced Kurt’s codename.
The voice of Kitty Pryde was filled with a mixture of disbelief and puzzlement. “Are you serious?”
“Why not?” Tabitha asked blithely.
Amara chimed in the conversation, echoing Kitty’s wariness. “He’s like a priest, you know,” she sniffed.
“He studied to be a priest,” Tabitha corrected smugly. One could tell she was wearing a smile from the mischievous tone that permeated her voice. “He was never ordained, you know...”
Logan made a face. He was hoping they weren’t talking about what he thought they were talking about. His eyes narrowed.
“And I bet he’s really amazing,” she continued, giggling. “Just think about it. Those hands and that tail! Mmmm...”
Her comment was met with a chorus of gasps and excited squeals. Back in the laboratory, Hank cupped a hand over his mouth, completely mortified. Meanwhile, Scott grimaced. Logan could only shake his head, relieved that his friend was not present in the room to listen to this conversation. He was certain the elf would teleport himself to a monastery.
“Tabitha, that’s disgusting,” Kitty scolded, her discomfort more than evident. “He’s like my brother. You can’t talk about him like that.”
Amara echoed her friend’s sentiment. “Yeah, cut it out. I have to chaperone a field trip with him tomorrow. Now, I have those images running in my head. Thanks a lot.”
“How about y’all talk about someone else?” Rogue suggested, her Southern accent thick. Like Kitty, she shared some feelings of uneasiness when it came to talking about her foster brother in a provocative manner. “Ya know, Ah always thought---”
Static crisply cut off the Southern Belle’s sentence, concealing the identity of the next X-Man to be discussed in detail. Secretly, Logan was relieved. He wasn’t sure if he could stomach listening to another minute of their banter. Perish forbid they started talking about him while he was in the room with Cyclops and Beast. While the two men carried themselves off as rather serious, they were more than capable of cheerful ribbing at other people’s expense.
Again, Hank rose from his stool to adjust a series of knobs and levers. When the static cleared, his ears picked up on the soft murmurs of voices. Instantly, he was able to identify the owners. Recognizing the implications of allowing the two men in the room with him to listen, he made a decision. Clearing his throat abruptly, he said, “I’m afraid the machine’s not working now. I suppose I will need to fix it later.”
His attempt to switch off the device was thwarted by Logan, whose ironclad grip on Hank’s wrist was fierce. Apparently, his keen sense of hearing had also picked up on the voices as well. The larger man winced in pain as he retracted his hand. When he backed away from the receiver, the growling man released his arm. Scott, initially oblivious to the nature of the confrontation, quickly understood what was going on. Although he never outright condoned Logan’s aggressive actions, he failed to provide his usual disapproval. Wordlessly, the three men sat back and listened to the drifting conversation from the speakers.
“What about this idea?” Jubilee drawled brightly, her girlish voice echoing from the amplifiers. “We can go as Bonnie and Clyde. That would be totally cool, don’t you think?”
The corners of Scott’s mouth lifted slightly. Jubilee was referring to the upcoming costume party at the mansion. This year, Alex was organizing the festivities. At his insistence, the team members and students were choosing and preparing costumes in line with their favorite movies.
Bobby expressed some trepidation with the suggestion. “I don’t know. That would involve carrying plastic guns and I’m not sure if Jeannie or Ororo would be too thrilled about that. At least, not with the younger kids around.”
“I see your point,” she replied, somewhat disappointed. She was quiet for several minutes as she mulled over her next idea. Then she said, “Ooh. How about this? I’m thinking Lord of the Rings. I’ll be the elf princess and you can be...Gimli.”
“The hairy dwarf?” Bobby snorted, pretending to sound insulted. However, it was quite obvious he was laughing. “Is that what you think of me?”
“Are you saying you’d rather be Gollum?” she countered teasingly. “Cause you definitely got the ears for the part.”
He growled at her. “That does it, Lee.”
Her giggles grew increasingly louder, combined with the noise of pillows being tossed about. Then she started screeching, which was piercing to the ears of the men who were listening in. For a moment, Scott and Logan thought she was in some kind of pain until they heard an eruption of giggles from her. The two had been prepared to dart upstairs and to check in on the young girl. Hank motioned for them to remain in their seats.
“Stop it!” Jubilee gasped, still laughing. “Stop it, Bobby. I... I can’t breathe. Stop tickling me!”
His response was preceded by another screech from her. “Serves you right.”
Soon, her laughter was interrupted by a fit of raspy coughing. Bobby mumbled something about drinking some water. Loud gulping echoed in the laboratory from the speakers. Seconds later, the coughing ceased.
“You OK?” Bobby inquired, the concern evident in his tone.
Jubilee swallowed hard. “Yeah...Yeah, I am. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” He paused briefly before approaching her. “Listen, are you OK?”
“I just told you that I was.”
“I know... But all afternoon, you’ve been kind of preoccupied. What’s up?”
“What can I say? I’m caught up in the Halloween spirit.”
“Fine. I’ve been thinking that’s all.”
“I knew you were going to ask that.”
“I’m horribly predictable that way. Spill it.”
“OK, OK. Well, I’ve been thinking about how everything seems to be better now.”
“What do you mean?”
Jubilee sighed, bedsprings creaking softly. “Scott and Wolvie seem to be OK with the idea of us now,” she replied. “No more death stares or anything like that. Don’t you get that vibe, too?”
Scott and Logan exchanged wary looks.
“I guess,” Bobby said nonchalantly. “Was that really important to you?”
She was thoughtful as she provided her answer. “I think so. I’d never say it publicly because I’m not into being mushy and overly expressive, but they’re important to me. They’re the first males I was able to closely to relate to. When I think of an ideal, I think of the qualities the two them bring to the table. Is that kind of weird?”
“Sounds like you’re just as relieved as I am about the outcome. Maybe for you, more so.” Bobby observed astutely. “Yearning for approval is kind of funny that way.”
“Is it really approval, Bobby?” Her voice was guileless.
He was quick with his response. “That’s what I’m hearing, Jubes,” he told her softly. “Of course you want that. You love both of them very much, and they only want the best for you. There’s nothing weird or dysfunctional about that. Well, with the exception of how it’s expressed sometimes.”
Scott narrowed his eyes behind his visor, recognizing the subtle jab.
“Sometimes,” Jubilee said after a pause in the conversation. “I feel guilty.”
Bobby was surprised. “Why?”
“Not about us,” she quickly said, as if she were trying to assuage any fears and doubts. “It’s just that I get this feeling that they both think I don’t appreciate them or anything they’ve done for me. That’s not true. I don’t know what I would have done without either one.”
Logan raised his brow. He turned to Scott, who was clasping his hands together. The younger man stared intently ahead at the receiver. His reaction was rather subdued with the news of this validation.
Bobby’s voice was low as he declared, “They know. Those two guys---they’re pretty sharp, you know. No matter what happens, no matter who comes into your life, they know you still care.”
“Thanks,” she sighed again, her speech whispery and soft. “I don’t know what I would do without you, either. How about I show you---”
Immediately, her voice began to fade in a sea of static. The crackle gradually masked any audible voices. As with the conversations before, it appeared that some adjusting of the equipment would need to be done to do some additional observing. However, Hank appeared reluctant to perform such a task.
Scott’s mouth formed a grim line. He stood up and made his way towards the receiver. His hand was outstretched over the control panel.
Hank reached out to stop his old friend. “Wait,” he protested, “Scott, the volume’s not supposed to go that high---”
Instead of attempting to search for the signal again, the young leader switched the receiver off. He gave the machine a long, hard look. Then he said quietly, “That’s enough. Leave them alone.”
With that, he turned on his heel and exited the laboratory.
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