saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 17 (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 Seventeen: I’m With You

The winter sun radiated with a blinding intensity the following morning. In spite of this, the snow that had fallen the night before remained a fixture upon the landscape in Westchester. The grass and surrounding shrubbery were now covered in a lush blanket of white. The snow provided a stark contrast of the unusually azure sky that hovered above. Winds that swirled the dead branches on the property’s many trees had long since died down.

Inside the Summers’ farm-style, white clapboard house, a young man with a boyish face and sandy hair was dozing. Instead of reclining in the queen- sized bed nearby, he had chosen to sleep in a chair next to the bed. As sunlight streamed through flowing, cream-colored curtains, he stirred ever so slowly. Opening his gray eyes, he cringed. However, he was careful not to groan or make any other noises to break the early morning silence. His neck was stiff and tight, and his legs were slightly cramped. Apparently, there was a reason why sleeping in the sedentary position was not popular.

Bobby shifted slightly in the swivel chair he had slept in. Stretching his arms over his head, he blinked several times and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. His mind buzzed as it reeled from the events of the night before. For a brief moment, he almost believed they were part of some strange dream. He winced when he realized he had a physical souvenir. In addition to his stiff extremities, his hand was still sore from last night’s melee. Fortunately, the swelling had considerably lessened over the course of the night. Initially, he was not sure what was worse---the physical discomfort thanks to the altercation with Alex combined with sleeping in a chair, or the embarrassment from his misreading of, well, everything. Perhaps it was a mixture of both. Either way, Bobby was not feeling all that good about himself.

He raked his uninjured hand through his sandy hair. Memories of what transpired following his conversation with Annie suddenly became crisp in his head. After she finished examining his hand, Bobby wanted to see Jubilee to see how she was doing. His concern for her well being had been overwhelming. He wanted to explain what happened and to apologize for scaring her. All he could think of was that sweet face that made him feel like all was right in the world.

Before he could leave the kitchen, Alex had entered the room. Bobby felt a twinge of guilt when the other man turned his head, revealing a side of his face. Puffy and swollen, Alex appeared as if he were chewing tobacco. There was a part of Bobby that wanted to roll around on the floor, laughing. If anyone deserved to look battered and beaten, it was definitely Alex Summers. However, Bobby’s culpability refrained him from being overly amused. Instead, he grimaced, painfully aware of his own faux pas.

Just as he was about to apologize for the incident, Bobby had found himself cut off by Alex. The other man had waved off Annie’s attempts to attend to his injuries. Instead, he had simply stood in front of Bobby, expressionless. There was no anger or righteous indignation. It had appeared as if he were studying Bobby very carefully. Uncomfortable with the scrutiny, Bobby stepped back, his back pressed against the refrigerator door. The first thing he noticed was how the other man was in so much pain. Before he could attempt to apologize to Alex again, the younger Summers brother interrupted him again and demanded to know why Bobby had attacked him in the first place.

Bobby had suppressed the urge to scowl at the other man, but inhaled sharply to soothe his quickly fraying nerves. “Listen, I thought I saw something tonight... Something that made me believe that Jubes was being hurt.”

An incredulous look flashed across Alex’s swollen face. “Are you serious?” he had cried. “You thought I was doing something to hurt Jubilee? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I would never, ever hurt that girl. For God’s sakes, Bobby, I was trying to care for her because she was sick!”

Bobby had groaned inwardly, wondering why Alex was making things much more difficult than they needed to be. There was a part of him that sympathized with Logan, who probably had more dealings like this with Scott. Perhaps it was something genetic in the Summers’ blood. “I know that now,” Bobby had sighed.

“Now? What the hell did you think I was doing to her?” Alex had been clearly in pain as he continued his interrogation. Every once in a while, his eyes would squeeze shut as if to block out the pain. Yet, he decided to press on. “I mean I know we’ve had our differences over the years, but I would never harm someone just to get to you. Despite what you think of me, that is totally not in my nature.”

Bobby had pressed his lips together firmly. He had wanted to say that he was aware of all that. However, that was not the truth and he knew it. To fully disclose everything meant admitting that none of that ever crossed his mind. After several moments, he had nodded empathically.

Apparently, this was not a satisfactory response for Alex. “That’s it?” he had demanded, nearly rubbing his sore jaw.

“That, and I’m sorry,” Bobby had informed him, gray eyes sincere, “for thinking that you would hurt Jubes and everything else. I was wrong. Again, I am sorry.”

Alex had stared at him following the apology. It was as if he were absorbing Bobby’s words, dissecting them carefully in his head. Then he leaned towards him, giving the other man a closer view of his puffy face. “You never answered my other question.”

“Alex,” Annie had pleaded from her seat at the kitchen table. She appeared as if she was going to rise from her seat to intervene. It was apparent that she had been educated as to the history of the feud between the two men. The young nurse felt she had witnessed violence for one night. “Alex, Bobby apologized. The rest of it isn’t important. He’s sorry and that’s the end of it.”

He had turned to her, glaring. “It’s not the end for me,” he had replied flatly. Then he had peered back at Bobby, who was studying him. “Come on, Bobby. Tell me what you think I was doing to Jubilee. I mean it must have been really bad for you to do this to me.” He pointed to his face angrily.

Just as Bobby was about to provide his reluctant response, Alex had cried out in pain and gestured to his jaw. Alarmed, Annie and Kurt jumped from their seats. Bobby stood as an observer as Annie scolded her boyfriend for not allowing her to examine him sooner. After a brief once-over, she announced that nothing was broken, but that Alex would need to take some codeine tablets for the discomfort and not talk for the rest of the evening.

Then she looked to Bobby plaintively. “Bobby, do you think---” she had began, her request for ice cubes all too clear. She soon censored herself when she received a withering look from Alex. The young nurse quickly patted her boyfriend’s shoulder and said, “You know what? We should really get you back to the mansion anyway. I have all my equipment there.”

Bobby had breathed a silent sigh of relief. He had not been looking forward to informing Alex of what set him off in the first place. His gray eyes conveyed his gratitude to Kurt, who had offered the speedy exit. His friend simply winked back at him.

Oblivious to the covert communication, Annie then turned to Bobby. “How’s your hand? Do you think you can stay with Jubilee until Scott and Jean get home?”

Bobby had nodded, tearing his eyes from the sulking Alex Summers. “Yeah,” he finally replied, his gaze falling upon the dark-haired nurse. “My hand’s not as bad as it once was...”

“You’ll forgive me if I’m not jumping for joy,” Annie had remarked wryly, pulling a card from her jacket pocket. “When she wakes up, try to get her to drink some liquids---water or juice. If she’s hungry, I’d be careful. Better stick to soup or something. This has my pager number. In the event that something is terribly wrong, you can page me.” Cautiously, she peered over her shoulder at Alex and Kurt. She looked as if she were afraid of being harangued for offering this act of kindness. Fortunately, Alex was listening to an overly chatty Kurt.

Bobby had nodded in gratitude, stuffing the card into the pocket of his leather pants. “Thanks, Annie,” he said, sheepish. “I don’t deserve it.”

“You don’t,” she agreed frankly, “but Jubilee does and more. Listen, this whole thing with Alex... That’s going to blow over in a couple of days. He’ll forget. Besides, he’s not the one you have to worry about.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, in case she remembers any of it when she wakes up, you owe her an explanation, more so than Alex.”

“I know.”

“Bobby, I mean an explanation for everything. Not just about the fight itself, but also the irrational reason as to why it happened in the first place.”

Bobby turned his gaze to Jubilee’s sleeping form, Annie’s voice echoing inside his head. He watched the rhythmic rise and fall of her slender chest, edging closer to her bedside. While he had shared a bed with her before, he continued to be quite amazed as to how peaceful she looked as she slept. He envied her, wishing that he could experience that kind of tranquility now.

True to his word, he had stayed with her the entire night, waiting for her to awaken. Fortunately, she had managed to sleep soundly throughout the night. He was thankful, deciding it would be better for her to rest. As his gray eyes swept over her angelic face in repose, he also noted that he was relieved for another reason as well. He was not sure if he really wanted to trouble her with his attempts to explain what had happened that night. She had already been through enough.

There was a mixture of emotions that clouded every fiber of his being. They seemed to overwhelm him when he settled by her side. First, there was relief, which stemmed from the knowledge that Jubilee had not been in any danger from Alex or his alleged intentions. Meanwhile, there were his feelings of worry had been elicited from concerns regarding her health.

Then there was his fear was from the proposition of talking to his girlfriend about the events from the night before. At first, he could not place his finger as to why he was feeling ambivalent. Sure, the rationale behind his actions had been proven to be erroneous. The resulting embarrassment could only be viewed as natural. Yet, as Bobby mulled over the events, he realized that was not the problem. As one of the more grounded individuals at the mansion, he did not mind appearing the fool every once in a while. Some of his failed pranks were a testament to this. Being harangued publicly by Scott or the Professor taught him to be humble over the years.

No, it was something else. It was something that made him experience a great deal of trepidation. It was something that made his stomach churned inside of his body as he contemplated broaching the subject with her.

The conclusion he had first jumped to---believing she had allowed Alex to seduce her.

As the thought reverberated through his mind, Bobby considered the underlying message it contained.

I didn’t trust you.

He winced with discomfort. The image of her hurt expression wounding him more than the dull pain that radiated from his hand. Part of him wanted to rationalize the situation. Bobby could easily cite previous romantic experiences as evidence. He was the one who was hurt and disappointed. While the circumstances differed in each case, the end result was the same. He found himself repeatedly left alone. Then there was the strange behavior and interactions he had witnessed between Jubilee and Alex. Given this, he had every right to be wary, to be cautious.

But things were different this time.

He was with Jubilee.

However, tonight Bobby found himself questioning his newfound happiness. He allowed his insecurities to cloud his judgment. He doubted her; he doubted their relationship. For a moment, he believed that he was in a familiar and painful situation. Looking back on the events of last night, he knew that no amount of arguing his past history should have swayed him to think that. He had should have known better.

I didn’t trust you.

Sighing, Bobby wanted to kick himself. During their time as a couple, he had never felt so safe and so secure with someone else as he did with her. When he was around her, she made him feel like the most important person in the world. He was her everything, and she made sure he knew that when they were together. There was nothing she had said or done to convince him she was being duplicitous.

So why then? Why was it so easy for him to believe that she would allow Alex to seduce her? What could possibly compel him to think of such thing? Bobby realized Jubilee would immediately pose these questions once he explained the motivating force behind his actions. He racked his brain in order to come up with an answer. His brain, unfortunately, was refusing to cooperate. Inwardly, he willed himself to focus.

He soon realized that it was not only the irrational nature of the account not only placed him at a loss for words. There was also the possibility of hurting her. Immediately, the picture of her despondent face flooded his brain, tearing him apart inside. The idea of causing the person he cared about so deeply any kind of pain was damning. It was something he swore to himself that he would never do. He had been so determined not to do anything that could be remotely construed as something to drive her away. As he grew more pensive about the impending conversation, he could not help but to scoff at himself and his attempts to cling to his happiness. Both were ultimately failures.

Bobby was startled from his thoughts when he noticed the ethereal figure next to him stir slightly. He watched as her eyelids began to flutter open. Those sparkling, old-soul blue eyes peered up at him curiously from beneath thick, dark lashes. The young man with the boyish face and sandy hair leaned forward in his chair.

“Hey,” he whispered, gray eyes roving over her angelic face. Instinctively, he clasped her hand with his uninjured one and pressed it against his cheek. It never ceased to amaze him how soft and inviting her skin was. There was nothing more Bobby wanted to do than to crawl into bed with her and feel her arms around him. Then he would know that all was right in the world.

Jubilee gave him a small smile, finding the stubble from his face ticklish against the back of her hand. “Hey yourself,” she greeted back. She shifted slightly in the bed, rolling over on her side.

“How are you doing this morning?” he inquired, his expression unusually serious. He was relieved to observe how well rested Jubilee appeared, not at all like the feverish girl Annie had portrayed her to be last night. Her skin was devoid of the pinkish hue of illness and her eyes were alert. Still, it would be more reassuring to hear from her as to how she was feeling.

She blinked. “Better,” she replied. Her sapphire eyes studied his face carefully, tracing over the lines created from his concerned frown. While part of her was touched upon observing how distraught he was, it was something she did not like to see. Then she broadened her smile and squeezed his hand, adding, “Really, Bobby.”

For a brief moment, he appeared comforted by her answer. “Is there anything I can get you? Are you thirsty? Hungry? I can run right downstairs and get you something...” His level of anxiety suddenly reached its height as he uttered the last sentence. Perhaps by busying himself with caring for her would help ease his mind regarding the task at hand.

She shook her head, raven hair with midnight blue streaks forming a halo on the pillow. “No, I’m okay,” she told him. She tried to stifle a yawn, but to no avail. “Just a little worn out, you know. You being here makes things a lot better.”

Guilt began to seep into his expression. “No problem,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. Desperately, he was fighting to hide his discomfort. “I’m just glad to see you’re going to be fine. You had me worried there for a while.”

“It’s not going to be that easy to get rid of me,” she teased him, gazing up at him. She noticed how anxious he seemed at that moment. It confused her since he was now aware that she was on the mend. What else could there be?

He lowered their clasped hands. “Maybe I should leave and let you get some rest,” he suggested, drawing his hand back from hers to stroke her hair. He was growing increasingly convinced that he needed some brief reprieve to sort out his thoughts.

Her cerulean eyes were shining as they stared deeply into his face. “No,” she protested softly, as she propped herself on an elbow. “No, I want you to stay... I mean if you don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Bobby sighed, feeling what was left of his inner resolve being chipped away. It was those eyes---hell, it was everything about this beautiful girl that made him weak in the knees, willing to say yes to anything she proposed. While it was an exhilarating sensation, he also found it to be disconcerting as well. Reluctantly, he nodded his assent and eased back into his chair.

“I can stay,” he said, his heart jumping as she beamed up at him. He was crazy about those dazzling smiles. There was a part of him that was convinced she reserved them especially for him. They seemed to lift him in the air, instilling a sense of being alive. He only hoped that after discussing the incident with her he would continue to receive them.

Before he could even contemplate as to how he would broach the subject with her, Jubilee began to sit up in bed. Winter sunlight streamed in through the curtains, casting a soft glow across her beguiling face. Her expression became grave as she straightened the slender column of her neck. “What’s up?”

His gray eyes were quizzical. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve been acting kind of nervous,” she pointed out sagely, piecing together the evidence immediately available in her mind. “It’s like you’re afraid to tell me something.”

Bobby felt his heartbeat race, thudding in his ears. <I>How does she do that? </I> As much as he wanted to open up and get the conversation over with, there was something holding him back. He was not quite ready to hurt her yet. No, he was not ready to hurt her at all. “What makes you think that?” he asked, trying to be evasive.

Jubilee inhaled sharply. “I told you I was going to be fine and you’re still acting weird,” she told him matter-of-factly, “So, if it’s not my health that’s causing you grief, it must be something else.”

His eyes lowered from her face and proceeded to soak up the comforter. He wished that he could devise some graceful, tactful way to bring up the subject. Instead, he could only focus on his remorse over his initial inability to trust in their relationship. This was coupled with his ever- growing anxiety. As he continued to sit with her, it was this fear---fear of possibly losing her---that threatened to swallow him completely. Simply considering it made his stomach queasy, his palms sweat, and his heart heavy inside his chest.

She chewed on her lower lip nervously as she continued to study the preoccupied young man sitting by her bedside. Her own apprehension increased. She had never seen Bobby like this before in all the years she had known him. The young girl yearned to reach out to him in order to take away whatever it was causing him angst. It troubled her to watch him like this.

Then her sapphire eyes flicked to his other hand, resting in his lap and swollen. Her mind reeled back to the conversation she had with Alex the night before. “Is it because of the fight you had last night?” she asked reproachfully.

Surprised, he returned his gaze to her face, which was lacking any kind of judgment or wounded quality. “How did you know about that?” he asked, feeling overwhelmed with dread.

“Alex told me about it,” Jubilee confessed, tucking a lock of silky hair behind a delicate ear. “I didn’t believe it at first. It wasn’t like the Bobby Drake I know. But now that I’ve seen your hand and how it resembles his face, it’s hard to argue otherwise.”

A blush stained Bobby’s cheeks. “What else did he tell you?” he asked, wondering how Alex illustrated the situation. Usually, Bobby would have suspected the other man of attempting to taint Jubilee’s opinion. Since Bobby was cognizant of the fact that he was in the wrong here, such thoughts were quickly dismissed.

“Not much really,” she said, her eyes meeting his. “Just that you sucker punched him...for no reason. That, and he’s really pissed about it.”

Bobby breathed a sigh of relief. As much as he hated to do it, he had to give the other man props for remaining as closed-mouthed as he did about the altercation. However, Bobby soon remembered that he still had to provide the rest of the details. His shoulders sank at this realization.

Finally, he decided to break the thick silence that descended upon the room. With a nervous flash in his gray eyes, he raked his unhurt hand through his sandy locks. He could easily joke and deflect the conversation, steering it towards other topics. Yet, he knew that would be wrong and in a way, it would be belittling her.

“It’s true,” Bobby confessed, sheepish, “with the exception of the no reason part. At the time, I thought I was justified.”

She was perplexed and stunned. It was still taking some time for her not to be incredulous over the idea of Bobby being that aggressive. What was even more mind-boggling now was what brought him to that state of mind in the first place. Unable to formulate a more eloquent series of inquiries, she simply asked, “Why?”

He took a deep breath, willing himself the courage not to falter. Here I go, he thought. While he wanted to provide a thoughtful response, he blurted out whatever came first to his mind, much to his chagrin. “Last night, I was trying out Hank’s new telescope, and I saw you and Alex. You were naked and he---”

“So you thought he and I were...” Her voice trailed off as the final picture crystallized in her brain. The young girl’s mouth formed an expressionless line. “Oh.”

Despite being crestfallen, Bobby pressed on. “I know I should have known better,” he admitted, taking one of her hands into his. He thought that by holding her hand, he would be able to find the strength to go on with the conversation. It was a soothing and comforting reminder of how safe he felt with her. He only prayed that she would allow him to continue and not close him out.

Much to his relief, she did not draw her hand away. Instead, she shook her head, hair rippling down her slim shoulders. “Why?”

Bobby was still reeling from Jubilee’s reaction. She was much more calm and collected than he anticipated. There was no anger or indignation that could be detected in her voice or expression.

“When I saw you with him, I just stopped thinking. It was like I was in autopilot, making assumptions without considering other possibilities. I guess I went kind of nuts.” Bobby looked somewhat disgusted with himself and his inability to read the situation with any level of maturity.

“So you were afraid history was repeating itself?” Jubilee prodded, still holding onto his hand. “You thought I was going to go away with Alex like the others?”

He was taken aback. In spite of their years of close friendship and recent romance, it still unnerved him as to how easily she read him. “Yeah, but it wasn’t that for the most part,” he clarified. “That was quickly replaced by not wanting to lose you. The thought of that scared me to death.”

Her sapphire eyes widened. “Really?” she asked.

“Really,” he replied, squeezing her hand gently. “At that moment, it wasn’t about Alex or how I felt about him. Jubes, this is the first time I’ve ever been really happy with anyone. I wasn’t about to allow that and you to slip through my fingers. I mean I can be myself around you and you accept me, bad jokes and all. You make me feel like I’m this complete person. When we’re together, things make sense. Seeing you and Alex like...that made me delusional. Suddenly, the prospect of losing all of that became very real. It was like witnessing my worst fears being actualized.”

As she listened to him, she could not help but to feel self-conscious. It never ceased to amaze her as to how strongly he felt about her and about their relationship. To hear someone profess such things in regards to her indeed made her feel special and cherished. For someone who often sat on the sidelines when it came to relationships, it continued to be a new and thrilling experience.

A thoughtful wrinkle furrowed her delicate brow. Her old-soul blue eyes then gazed into his boyish face. His earnest words tugged at her heart, filling her with sympathy for his position. Yet, there was something that held her back. She continued to peer over at him, clasping his cool hand with her own. “That’s dumb,” she finally said.

Her words stung him and he flinched. Bobby was uncertain as to which part of his speech she was truly referring to. “What?” he managed to ask, his mouth growing quite dry.

“Your conclusion,” she explained, shifting slightly in the bed. “It’s dumb.”

The morose quality faded from his expression, but was still surprised by her observation. “Well, I know that now,” he told her sheepishly.

“Yeah, well...” Jubilee knew that no amount of chiding was going to make things better. Apparently, Bobby had punished himself extensively---more than she ever could. Still, there were things that needed to be said aloud. “If you have to know what happened, I was really sick and he was only trying to help. There was nothing more than getting me ready for a bath. I just wish you would have taken some time to think about the situation.”

Bobby nodded in understanding, recalling the information relayed to him by Kurt and Annie. “I know. Me, too.”

“It’s just that I feel the same way you do,” she went on, chewing on her lower lip carefully. “Everything you said about the way you feel when you’re with me... The same is true from my perspective. I know that you’re the one I want to be with, Bobby. I also know your track record with relationships. Right now, I’m telling you that I would never ever hurt you. Next time, you need to consider that before you decide to get all macho or something. Leave that kind of thing to Wolvie.” Her eyes sparkled playfully as they gazed upon his swollen hand.

Up to this point, he had been expecting to deal with a blowout, where he would be on the receiving end of some angry remarks. Most women would have been furious with him for making such assumptions. There were others who might have laughed at his irrational insecurities. Not Jubilee. She was willing to accept his insecurities and taking the time to understand his point of view. To his relief, she made it clear that she shared his feelings. Most importantly, she was still here. He smiled ruefully at her, wondering how he had ended up being so lucky.

His smile faded when he noticed the young girl in bed turning a bright shade of pink. Alarmed, he asked, “Are you okay?”

She pressed her lips together and turned her face from him. “Yeah, it’s nothing.”

“Jubes, you’re red. After what you’ve been through---”

“No, I’m fine. It’s not the fever or anything like that.”

“Then what is it? Are you sure you’re not feeling well? I can call Hank or Annie to check things out.”

“Really, Bobby. That’s not necessary.”

“Then what is it?”

“Bobby, I’m not---”

“Keep in mind, I’m not going anywhere as directed by you.”

Jubilee sighed, slim shoulders sinking. “It’s stupid,” she muttered, flushing a deeper shade of pink. “Really stupid. You’re going to laugh or make fun of me. Maybe a little bit of both, I don’t know. Either way, I really wouldn’t blame you.”

Bobby raised a brow at her. From her tone, it was quite clear she was not in the mood to talk about whatever it was vexing her. He had come to know it quite well in the days leading up to his confrontation with Alex. Immediately, he was reminded of the unfinished business between them. While he allowed her to dodge any direct attempts to determine what was going on, he was bent on not letting it happen again.

“Jubes,” he began, scooting his chair closer to the bed. He leaned towards her and grasped her chin with his fingers to turn her face to meet his. “I’ve just bared my soul to you, talking about things I’m usually not comfortable discussing. Despite how weird or strange I might come off as after doing so, you still want me.”

She nodded, confirming his last statement nonverbally.

“So, what makes you think you’re not going to be able to find the same level of comfort with me?” he inquired gently. “Unless you’re telling some outrageously hilarious joke or planning a prank, there’s nothing you could or say at this moment to make me laugh at you.”

Reluctantly, her sapphire eyes peered into his gray ones. Intense, unconditional warmth radiated from his gaze. Her normal defenses to shield herself and sometimes, other people, immediately melted away. As much as she wanted to deflect the attention away, she found herself relenting.

“A couple of weeks ago, I went to this clinic right by school.” She paused, shaking her head when she saw the look of concern mixed with confusion that spread across his boyish features. “Before you ask what kind of clinic, it was Planned Parenthood. As for that thing with Alex, he and I ran into each other outside of the clinic. That’s why I was kind of weirded out whenever I saw him.”

He suppressed the urge to drop his jaw. Things became suddenly clear. Had he not been so focused on Jubilee and her struggle to speak, he would have felt another wave of embarrassment wash over him. To his credit, he remained quite neutral. “Oh.”

She continued, trying not to allow her embarrassment to get the best of her. Her eyes lowered briefly to the patterns on her comforter. “I went there... Basically, I wanted to prepare myself for when we... I mean I didn’t want to be like some stupid kid like I was the other night.”

Bobby shook his head emphatically. “Jubes, you were surprised that night. There was nothing you did that made you seem childish. If there was anything I did to make you feel like you had to go and do what you did, I’m sorry.” He drew back his hand from hers and began to stroke her hair.

“It wasn’t you at all,” she corrected in a low voice, her face solemn. “It’s me. I was totally scared. It doesn’t really exude romance. I’ve been thinking about that night over and over again, wishing I had reacted differently.”

He removed his hand from her hair. “How did you want to react?” he asked, rising from his chair and seating himself on the bed next to his girlfriend. While he wanted to reassure her that she had nothing to worry about, he knew that it was important for her to express her concerns. The fact that she had even disclosed this much was quite a step.

She shrugged her graceful shoulders. “Not all freaked out, I guess.” Then she took a deep breath, feeling Bobby’s arm drape around her. “So, I thought by going to the clinic, I’d be ready for when we...”

“I think I know where you’re going,” he said, rubbing her upper arm with his uninjured hand. There was no sense in making her any more uncomfortable than she already was. However, he was still puzzled as to what motivated this frame of thinking in the first place. “But why?”

Jubilee lowered her lashes over her sapphire eyes. “I didn’t want to be this baby you would have second thoughts about. Compared to the women you’ve been with, I don’t exactly scream sophistication, you know.”

He stared at her, speechless for a moment. There were so many thoughts racing through his brain as he allowed her words to soak in. His first instinct was to simply gather Jubilee into his arms, holding her tightly. Yet, he knew that would not be enough. He had to address her fears and concerns about this topic once and for all.

Finally, he said quietly, “And you called my conclusion dumb.”

“Huh?” She drew back from his embrace. It was not quite the response she had been expecting. Perplexed, she studied his boyish face in an attempt to read his intentions. Other than his intense stare, she was unable to discern anything.

He moved slightly, the mattress springs squeaking softly underneath him. “What you just said has to be the craziest thing I’ve heard in a long time,” he informed her, cupping her beautiful face in his hands. He grinned at her in order to take the edge from his words.

She looked at him warily, still quite baffled. “Well, it’s how I feel,” she told him with a great effort on her part not to sound defensive.

“I know and I’m not invalidating that,” Bobby replied softly, fingers tangling in her silken hair. “Well, first thing first. I’m proud of you for taking the initiative in examining the options out there. I just wish that you involved me in the process. Just listening to you now, I can tell it was hard for you to deal with alone. Maybe it might have been easier if we were in it together.”

Jubilee nodded, blushing again. It shocked her to hear how perceptive Bobby could be. This was the same man who sometimes claimed himself as rather awkward and befuddled in social situations. Yet, here he was, using his keen insight to read her to a tee. At this moment, it was kind of unnerving how dead on he was.

“And you have nothing to embarrassed about,” he continued, noticing her flushed skin that was warm under his hands. “A lot of people get kind of flustered. The same number of people probably mull over the same things you do. You’re not being immature or strange. It’s a perfectly normal thing, really.”

She raised a sable brow at him skeptically. “Oh, and I’m sure the women you’ve been with before me had similar issues?” she chided softly. “Let’s face it, Bobby. I’m not like them.”

“And you’re saying that like it’s a bad thing?” he asked, incredulous.

She frowned slightly. The gesture highlighted the innocence that she often kept guarded from the outside world. “Not entirely. It’s just that when we... When we do decide that the time is right, there might be a part of that wishes you were with someone...more worldly about these things.”

It was Bobby’s turn to frown. He sighed wearily and rested his forehead against hers. “When that moment comes---when we’re both ready, it’s going to be incredible. It’s going to make everything else in the world seem overrated. Do you know why?” His gray eyes bore into those intoxicating sapphire depths.

Jubilee shook her head; oblivious to the answer he was looking for.

“Because it’s going to be with you,” he said, his voice husky and earnest. “When we’re together, I don’t waste time, wishing you were more this or that. I like to spend it thinking about how unbelievably blessed I am. None of that’s going to change once we sleep together. I’m not going to think about how you compare to the women I’ve been with. You’re my dream. There’s nothing more I want.”

They lapsed into a comfortable silence for several minutes. During that time, Jubilee placed her hands on Bobby’s shoulders. He closed his eyes, feeling relaxed for the first time since before last night. A sense of release washed over the young couple, their anxieties melting away with the onset of a new day.

Jubilee was the first to break the stillness. “God, look at us,” she whispered, on the verge of laughing. She bit her lower lip. “A couple of neurotic, insecure people with weird relationship hang-ups. We deserve each other, huh?”

Bobby grinned proudly and kissed her forehead. His lips lingered over the soft skin tenderly. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he told her, circling his arms around her lithe frame and leaning against the headboard.

She nestled her head against his chest, feeling very safe and secure. However, there was something that still weighed upon her mind from weeks ago. Despite her hesitancy in posing the question, she knew she had to press on nonetheless. “Bobby?” she drawled.

As if reading her mind, he quickly answered, “Five.”

“How---how did you know?” she stammered, turning to face him. Since when did Bobby develop telepathic abilities?

He smiled at her affectionately, stroking her long, dark hair. “I heard it in your voice.” His lips brushed against the top of her head as he smiled wryly down at her. “So, you’ve been...considering?”

She fought the urge to grin herself as she peered up at him. “Yeah,” Jubilee replied, the corners of her sapphire eyes crinkling gently. Gravity drifted over her exquisite face as she spoke. “I’ve been considering it, but I’m not quite ready yet. I mean I want to be someday...”

Bobby brushed her hair from her face, his eyes informing her that he understood. Then he cleared his throat, remembering he had his own unfinished business to air out. “Jubes, there’s something else we need to talk about.”

Her eyes were as round as saucers. “Not related to this?”

“No, not at all.”

“So, what else is going on?”

“You know that movie, ‘Meet the Parents’?”

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