saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 30 (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 Thirty: Happy Birthday

“Seriously, I don’t want anything big this year,” Bobby sighed, raking a tense hand through his sandy hair. His boyish features arranged themselves into a frustrated expression as he shook his head emphatically. He shifted in his seated position upon his king-sized bed. Already, he could feel his shoulders hunching in preparation for defending his perspective.

A pair of sapphire eyes scrutinized him carefully, curiosity radiating in their depths. “Why not?” Jubilee inquired guilelessly. “Everyone deserves a nice party for their birthday, you know. Plus, for you, it’s an important milestone. Also, think about the people you’d be letting down by refusing. The list of these individuals and the potential cajoling they promise is practically endless.”

He sighed again. The young couple was in his bedroom, having met up after their respective classes. Somehow, their conversation steered from whether or not they were going to see Modest Mouse in concert to an upcoming event. His birthday—specifically, his 25th birthday—was drawing near. Not that Bobby was dreading the prospect of turning another year older or any of the associated pitfalls that came with aging. He left that kind of moaning and groaning to the likes of his playboy buddy, Warren.

As someone who welcomed the command of an audience to entertain, it seemed contradictory that he would not want a large party of some sort. He would be able to try out some new jokes or make some witty remarks in passing conversations. Then there were the presents. As socially accepted as it was to say that it was better to give than receive, there was still a small part of him that felt otherwise.

Yet, here Bobby was, reluctant to have any kind of celebration take place to commemorate his birthday. For him, his reasons were easily understood. Correction: reason. However, as he peered over at the quizzical face of his girlfriend who was sitting across from him, he realized that he had some explaining to do.

He smiled sheepishly. “I didn’t have a good birthday last year,” he began.

She tilted her head sympathetically and placed a soothing hand on his arm. “I’m sorry.” After a brief pause, she asked, “Why not?”

Bobby felt his heart skip a beat when he detected the gentle tone of her voice. It seemed to speak more than any words could. He felt loved, reassured, and wanted. There was no other way to describe how he was when she was around.

Gaining some strength from her gesture, he pressed on. “Aside from the fact that we weren’t dating then, my mother decided to plan a special bash for her special guy.” He made a face after finishing his sentence.

Jubilee continued to be perplexed. From what she knew of Maddy Drake, the genteel woman was a caring, devoted mother. She made it clear that Bobby, her only child, was her pride and joy. The way Bobby was depicting things; it was as if Maddy was anything but a good maternal figure.

“I’m not following you, Bobby,” Jubilee said. “What did your mom do? Did she bake a SpongeBob Squarepants cake instead of a Sailor Moon one?”

He rolled his eyes at her, slightly miffed at her attempt at humor. “Cute, but no. It was a Finding Nemo cake, thank you very much.”

She bit her lower lip, trying to suppress the urge to smile. As much as he was pouting at that moment, she could instantly tell that he was not all that annoyed. Then she squeezed his arm gently. “Come on, don’t be ticked,” she cajoled, tossing her long, dark hair over a graceful shoulder. “I’ll be serious now. What did your mom do that scarred you, Bobby Drake?”

“I’m not scarred. Just a little hesitant, that’s all.”

“OK. Now that you’ve established that, what exactly happened?”

“She didn’t go out of her way to make it a bad one, if that’s what you’re trying to get at.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“But there are some things she does that… I don’t know how to explain it. It’s kind of like having the things you don’t really think about come up in conversation.”

“Like what?”

“Like the fact that I wasn’t married, Jubes. My cousin Joel was engaged and Mom was helping him plan the wedding. Here I was, her Bobby, still a bachelor. I had to listen to her go on and on about how nice it would be for her to have some little ones around. I thought my dad would help bail me out, but he pretended to fall asleep on the couch.”

“I’m sorry. I guess that was really hard to take in.”

“It was… I mean it was like I was some kind of failure for not giving her that.”

“Bobby, I doubt your mother meant that. She’s over the moon about you. You’re her son. There’s nothing you could to ever make her say something remotely like that.”

“I know you’re right...”

“I sense a ‘but’ following.”

Bobby smiled ruefully at her, amazed as to well she really knew him. “But there’s still that subtle pressure no matter what,” he replied. He heaved another sigh and turned away from her. “You do realize that when we do go to this party, she’ll probably bring it up again. Since we’re going out, she might check out what your hips are like.”

Sable brows shot upwards. “For what?”

He continued to keep his back to her, embarrassed but certain of the likelihood of his mother doing such a thing. “For giving birth,” he mumbled. He shook his head emphatically. “I apologize in advance for her.”

As he sat there, eyes closed and face filled with preoccupation, Jubilee scooted on the bed behind him and placed her hands on each side of his neck. She began a slow massage of his shoulders, neck and back. Bobby jumped at first, but soon issued a shaky exhale as he leaned forward to give her more access.

“Where…did you learn…this…?” he whispered as she worked her way down to his shoulder blades. The feel of her hands massaging his weary muscles was nothing like he experienced before. It was nothing short of pure bliss.

“Pressure point therapy,” his girlfriend said quietly as she continued. “I read about it in some New Age magazine Jean had lying around.” With relief, she watched the tension drain slowly from his face and felt his muscles relax beneath her touch. Smiling to herself, she started kneading her fingers gently down the center of his spine.

After urging him to lean forward, she smoothed her hands down over his lower back in gentle sweeping motions. Her rubdown turned into a soft tapping, as she moved to another method of massage. Her slender fingers kneaded his back lightly, then abruptly pulled away.

She leaned in towards his ear. “Better?” she inquired in a whispery voice.

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” he told her huskily. He moved his face toward hers.

At first, he simply brushed his mouth softly over that of the beautiful girl close to him. His warm breath mixed with hers as he lingered, exploring the curve of her lips. He could sense her breath quickening as his mouth became more hungry and insistent, rubbing across her lips in invitation.

Bobby groaned deep in his throat when her lips parted beneath his. He nipped at her before delving deep inside. His mouth was hard against hers, his lips firm as he demanded her passionate response.

She gasped under his mouth and clutched at the fabric of his navy-and-blue rugby shirt. Her hands began a slow route down his chest, feeling over every inch of muscle. She pulled away slightly, her cheeks flushed pink with excitement. Then she swept her fingers across his mouth, and traced his jaw with her finger tenderly.

“Maybe there’s more I can do,” she drawled, courage increasing with each passing second. There was something different, her sense of being devoid of any fear or self-consciousness. What reigned supreme in her mind was taking away whatever weighed on his mind. She found herself arching toward him, seeking something more. Her body felt hot and heavy and restless.

Jubilee circled around him and straddled his legs. She slid her hands down his arms, her mouth moving against his. His breaths came in quick pants as his arms drew up to her. One of his hands buried itself in her long, raven hair and the other sliding tenderly down the gentle slope of her back. As she was sweeping her fingers over his chest, her eyes caught a growing bulge inside of his khakis. Without thinking, she reached down and wrapped her hand around it.

Bobby’s breath hissed out and his teeth ground together. The muscles in his neck bulged out in what appeared to be some kind of pleasurable distress. Jubilee pulled her hand back suddenly, but he caught it. Breathing heavily, he drew it back toward him and over his rippled stomach.

“Jubes,” he whispered raggedly, staring deeply into her lovely face. He then guided her hands gently down the taut muscles of his abdomen, and under the seam of his khakis.

Taking his lead, she unclasped his belt and slid it off, allowing it to drop to the floor. Her nimble fingers then moved up and under the fabric of his shirt, caressing the muscles hidden beneath the film of sweat. His hands, in turn, sought out the hem of her coral, rollneck sweater.

It was then that they both stopped and their eyes met. Their breaths mingled, increasing in intensity. The unspoken question hung in the air that was thick with the tension between them.

Are you ready?

Jubilee provided her answer by returning her attention to his shirt. She slowly lifted it up and then over his head, tossing it on the floor. Bobby closed his eyes, not quite believing what was happening at that moment. He willed for all of it not to be some kind of dream, meant to inflict some kind of bittersweet, psychological torture. Perhaps there was some malevolent telepath manipulating his mind, bending reality. With the X-Men, one could never be too certain.

Soon, he realized that this was no illusion as he felt Jubilee’s finger slide over his eyelids, taper off his nose and drop to his chin. Then her soft fingers rested over his slightly trembling mouth. Her perfume of bubblegum and cinnamon filled his nostrils. This was real. She was real.

“You’re beautiful,” she murmured, almost lost in her gaze of his well-toned chest and arms. While he was not large and bulky in muscle mass like some of the other team members, Bobby’s physique was something to admire with his flat stomach, wiry upper arms, and broad chest.

He pushed her silky hair from her face gently, his heart thudding excitedly. “I was going to say the same about you,” he told her thickly, his breath cool against her cheek.

She was still straddling his hips as she moved her head towards his once more.  “You make me feel beautiful,” she replied, pressing her mouth against his.

Bobby’s hands soon made their way to the hem of her sweater, skimming her chinos. Slowly, they began to lift it higher, exposing more and more of her creamy skin to his touch. He could feel the suppleness of it, finding himself growing intoxicated with the sensation. Her skin was like this incredible drug he could not get enough of.

Suddenly, the two them jumped when they heard a cell phone ring, blaring a shrill version of the theme song from Sanford and Son. While Bobby was trying to gauge as to where the noise was coming from, the young girl in his arms had a hangdog expression on her face. He turned his questioning gray eyes to her, as the noise continued.

“I didn’t picture you as someone appreciating the comedy stylings of Mr. Red Foxx,” he remarked wryly, amused. “I kind of pictured you as a Mark Curry kind of gal.”

She blushed and then grinned sheepishly. “I liked his philosophy of giving everyone a knuckle sandwich for messing with him,” she laughed, trying to extract herself from his arms.

Her boyfriend groaned in protest, pulling her slender body close to him. “Let your voicemail pick it up,” he urged with pleading gray eyes. He hated to think that the intensity of this moment was going to fade after being interrupted by a phone call. “Besides, it’s probably Paige, looking for some fashion advice or something.”

Jubilee giggled again, but made more of an effort to slip away from him. She was successful this time. “Might be, but whoever it is, it has to be important,” she responded, noting his crestfallen expression. “I don’t give my number to just anyone, you know.”

Bobby stopped himself from sulking as she scurried to her black messenger bag on his beanbag chair. “Sometimes, I wish you wouldn’t give it out at all,” he grumbled, watching her pull out her cell phone.

She stuck out her tongue at him, smoothing out her sweater over her stomach and hips as she answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Is this Jubilee?”

The young girl frowned thoughtfully. She could not immediately identify the person linked to the voice. However, there was something familiar about it. There was a warmth that emanated from the husky tone, almost froggy quality. Quickly, she racked her brain to search for possible suspects.

“Yes, it is,” she finally replied, shrugging her shoulders when Bobby mouthed to her his questions as to who it was. She began to saunter back to the bed where he waited. The young girl allowed him to pull her lithe frame into the circle of his arms. She smiled as he began to plant kisses along the side of her neck.

The other person breathed a sigh of relief. “Hello, dear. It’s Maddy, Bobby’s mother.”

Jubilee bolted away from Bobby, her sapphire eyes widening. “Hi, Mrs. Drake,” she annunciated clearly when Bobby gave her a wounded look. Then she turned her back to him. “How are you doing?”

He stared at her in disbelief, wondering if she was joking. Quickly, it became evident that she was not. Her face was drawn into a serious, but puzzled expression. Shaking his head, he retrieved his rugby shirt from the floor and pulled it over his head. That’s just great, he groused to himself. There’s the ultimate mood killer right there. My mom calling just as we’re about to… If Jubes never wants to get that close again, I wouldn’t blame her. Hell, I’m not sure if I can even think about it now…

Meanwhile, Jubilee’s attention was rapt on the conversation she was having with Maddy Drake. “What can I do for you?” she inquired, after the two of them exchanged niceties.

“Bobby’s birthday is coming up, as you know,” Maddy bubbled. It was easy to hear the smile in her voice. “I was going to plan something nice for him, but I wanted to make sure that his friends weren’t going to do anything first. When I called Hank, he told me that he and Warren were going to book a private party at one of the local restaurants. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head…”

Jubilee frowned thoughtfully. In passing, she did hear from Jean and Hank about the possibility of making reservations at Benton Park. But at the time, the plan was in the preliminary stages, so she did not think all that much about it. “Oh, right. I think I remember that being mentioned.”

“Well,” Maddy went on, her enthusiasm threatening to spill over. “I thought it would be a marvelous idea if we combine our plans. So, I wanted to let you and Bobby know that you’ll be seeing us there. Bill and I, as well as Bobby’s cousins, Joel and Mary. Oh, and there’s Joel’s wife, Grace. I’m not sure if you’ve met any of them. But I guess Bobby’s probably told you a great deal about them. The three of them are very close. ”

Jubilee swallowed hard, feeling somewhat intimidated about the prospect of seeing the cold and reserved Bill Drake again. Given that their last meeting did not foster any kind of bonding experience, she was in no hurry to make another attempt. Tempering down this wariness, she forced herself to sound cheery as she said, “That sounds great.”

“I know,” Maddy said, not detecting the stilted quality to the young girl’s response. “This is a big step for Bill. He hasn’t been away from the house for long since…the incident. Hopefully, this will be good for him.”

“Hopefully.” Jubilee echoed. For some reason, she had a hard time picturing Bill Drake mingling with Bobby’s friends. Being who they were, he would view them as being different. They represented a potential threat to his son and the rest of the Drake family. To actually be seen in public with the likes of these people was something, indeed.

“Anyway, I didn’t want to keep you too long, dear. So, I will see you this weekend?”

“Yes, I’ll be there, Mrs. Drake.”

“Please, dear, call me Maddy. Mrs. Drake makes me sound like a schoolteacher.”

“Alright, Maddy.”

“Wonderful. Take care, Jubilee.”

“Thanks… You, too.”

“I will. Good-bye.”


Jubilee hit the END button to hang up. Then she began to fiddle with the small black phone idly, turning around to see an expectant Bobby sitting on the bed. He looked as if he were about to jump out of skin in anticipation of her disclosure of what the topic of discussion between the two women in his life.

He raised both his brows at her. “Well?” he asked, trying not to sound too impatient.

“Well,” Jubilee began quietly, tossing the cell phone on the bed next to where Bobby was. “I hope she likes my hips.”

Bobby fell back on his bed, groaning.

Outside of the Med-Lab, several days later, Kurt Wagner found himself pacing back and forth. His normally carefree and easygoing expression was replaced with one that conveyed very different feelings. Sharp, white teeth chewed nervously on his lower lip. The twinkle that seemed to be ever-present in his golden eyes was replaced with a dull, preoccupation. He crossed his arms over his chest, not knowing what else to do with his irritatingly idle hands.

Ruefully, he paused in his steps and turned his weary gaze to the other side of the hallway. The Stoic, unwavering stare of the Canadian loner known as Logan met his. He ground an unlit cigar between his teeth, adhering to the Professor’s rule of no smoking in the vicinity of the Med-Lab. While he gave the illusion of being aloof, those who knew him well could discern that he was concerned about his friend.

Next to him was Kitty. Unlike her former mentor, she was content to make it known how worried she was as she observed an anxious Kurt. She cradled a plastic bottle in her yellow-gloved hands, wondering what she could possibly say to assuage her best friend’s morose mood. Leaning against the reinforced steel wall of the hallway corridor, she shook her head, brown ponytail shaking behind her.

Finally, she said in a low voice, “You know it’s not your fault, Kurt.” When she saw him jerk his head up so that his face was level with hers, she went on. “I mean, not to like trivialize anything, but it’s not that bad.”

“Half-Pint’s right,” Logan chimed in, invoking a long-forgotten pet name for Kitty. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her give him a small smile. Then he shook his head emphatically. “I can’t believe I’m sayin’ this, but if Big Boy hadn’t been with us, things might have been a lot worse.”

Kurt shrugged, his face still grim as he caught on to the reference to the newest member of the team, Juggernaut. “No matter how many times ve go out on missions, I don’t vant to come back with casualties,” he said flatly, gazing down at the black, leather jacket with matching pants, both lined with yellow trim he wore. “Ja, Cain helped us, but someone still got hurt. I cannot forget that.”

The group had just returned from a field mission, where they were facing off against a rather powerful, but misguided opponent. Having his abilities recently awakened upon reaching puberty, the person went from being an ordinary boy living in the Irish part of the city to a frightening foil of his former self, terrorizing his neighborhood. He gained about twenty-two tons in weight and ten feet in height. Any semblance of a human-looking appearance eroded with the onset of his mutation. Naturally, the child was frightened of what he had become, as did those around him. As a result, he lashed out indiscriminately.

Kurt and his team had been called in to attempt to reason with the boy and in some way, to subdue him. Unfortunately, the boy would have nothing to do with their efforts and attacked the squad with great fervor. Working together, Kurt and Kitty tried to distract him. Meanwhile, Logan and Cain used their collective brute strength against that of the boy. Charged with the task of containing the mutant, Bobby was supposed to sneak up from behind him and use his abilities to “put him on ice”.

The team soon learned that the best-laid plans do not usually work out.

Elements of Kurt’s initial scheme began to crumble in front of the team’s very eyes. The mutant brushed aside a snarling, adamantium-clawed Logan as if he were a rag doll. He caught Kitty by surprise and managed to catch her in one of his hands before she slipped right through him. Then he went after Bobby, plucking him off of his ice-slide. The mutant began to squeeze the very life out of the young man, forcing Bobby to pass out from the lack of oxygen. After what seemed like an eternity, Cain edged in and threw his weight into the mutant’s side, causing him to drop Bobby’s limp form to the ground.

Luckily, Bobby regained consciousness shortly after the mutant was restrained. However, it was clearly evident that he was in a great deal of pain in spite of his wisecracks on the helicopter ride to the mansion. Upon arriving, he was rushed immediately to the Med-Lab, to Hank and Annie’s attention. His teammates, with the exception of Cain (he was charged with debriefing the Professor), decided to await the news of Bobby’s condition.

Logan stuffed his hands into the pockets of his own black, leather jacket. He exhaled loudly as he nodded. “Yeah, I guess I get where you’re going,” he replied, still grinding his cigar. “But if anyone knows what they’re doing when it comes to us getting hurt, it’s these guys.” He nodded in the direction of the Med-Lab double doors where Hank and Annie were working.

“Logan’s right,” Kitty agreed, still wearing her uniform from their mission. It consisted of a black body suit with a yellow strip in the middle that accentuating her shoulders, yellow gloves, black boots with yellow seams, and an X-belt. She was one of the few members who followed Scott’s optional stipulation that they start wearing team-style outfits.

Kurt eyed the doors warily. “I’d feel better if they veren’t taking so long,” he mused. “It makes me think something is terribly amiss.”

Logan raised a brow at him. “You want me to go in there and see what’s up?” he asked.

Kurt shook his head, waving his hand at him. “Nein,” he replied. “Perhaps you can go upstairs and see how the debriefing’s going? If there’s any news, Kitty and I vill let you know.”

Logan realized the request had nothing to do with Cain’s ability to explain what happened during the mission. He could read the German’s need to exert some sense of control in order to make up for the chaos of the day. Taking the hint, he gave his friend a brief nod. Then he turned on his heel and proceeded to the elevators at the other end of the corridor.

When he was gone, Kitty cleared her throat and held out her sports bottle. “I think I’ve got something that’ll take the edge off.”

Kurt flashed her a wary look. Not known for her culinary skills, Kitty often used him as her taste tester to provide a barometer of what was edible. The last experiment she created in the kitchen sent him to the bathroom for a good portion of the night. “Vat is in there?” he managed to ask.

She rolled her eyes. “Relax,” she assured him. “It’s a mixed drink. I’m putting my bartending skills to use. Tabitha and I are thinking about creating this line of alcoholic refreshments to market. I call this one Citrus Breeze. Come on, try it.”

“OK.” Kurt accepted the bottle and unscrewed the cap. Then he took a swig from it. He swallowed, finding himself pleasantly surprised by the flavors of orange juice mixed with some kind of lemon-lime liquor. When it came to alcohol, Kitty knew her stuff. Instantly, he nodded his approval.

“Great.” Kitty beamed proudly. She was relieved that her first attempt at a recipe yielded good results. “Not too sweet? I didn’t want to make it too much of girly drink.”

He shook his head. “Not at all. In fact, I think—”

Just as he was about to complete his sentence, the double doors to the Med-Lab burst open. A battle-fatigued Bobby shuffled out, holding his shoulder with one hand and a blue, plastic bottle in the other. His boyish face communicated the fact that he was in some degree of pain. He gingerly walked towards where Kurt and Kitty were standing.

“Hey, guys,” he greeted, wincing slightly. “Anything exciting happening while Hank and Annie were poking and prodding me?”

Kurt was familiar with Bobby’s use of humor in order to deflect any concern. Normally, he would have played along. However, given the gravity of the precipitating situation, he was inclined to go with his first reaction. “Mein freund, how are you feeling?” he asked, lines of worry etching deeply into his forehead.

“Please,” Bobby snorted in an attempt to be dismissive. “I’ve been through worse than this.”

Kitty studied him thoughtfully. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. I mean, that time when Scott found out you and Beast made that marionette of him is like nothing compared to this.” Her cat-like eyes twinkled at the memory of an irate Scott Summers chasing after Bobby and Hank upon discovering that the two were performing a series of puppet shows around the mansion.

Bobby grimaced. “You know throwing S.S. into the fireplace was a little excessive,” he muttered mournfully for the memory of the charred doll. “He didn’t even give me and Hank a chance to have S.S. do the Macarena.”

“So, vat’s the verdict?” Kurt asked after the chuckling subsided. His golden eyes peered over where Bobby was clutching his shoulder. “Anything broken?”

“X-rays say no, but my aching shoulder shrieks otherwise,” Bobby remarked wryly. He held up the blue plastic bottle. “Hank prescribed some painkillers to numb things. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to get through this party tonight.”

He was referring to his birthday gathering at Benton Park. The bruising and soreness in shoulder was not certainly going to make facing the unwanted party easier. Bobby was still annoyed with both Hank and Warren for their treachery in plotting with his mother to plan the event. It was quite far from what he had wanted. Unfortunately, things had already been set into motion and there was very little he could do at this point. He was resigned to the idea of fielding questions regarding what it was like to be 25 now and when he was going to provide his mother with the pitter-patter of little feet along her floor.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Kitty piped up, playing with her ponytail. “Jubilee went to the restaurant with Warren to make sure things are squared away. So, you’ll be riding with me and Kurt.”

Bobby was disappointed upon hearing this new change in plans, as he and Jubilee were supposed to ride over together. Quickly, he hid his letdown and said, “As long as we’re not taking that clunker of yours, Kitty, that’s fine.”

She flashed him a wounded look. “It passed inspection,” she replied defensively, upset that he was picking on her beloved Scout. While there were some problems after she first refurbished the vehicle, it had been running smoothly as of late.

“Don’t vorry,” Kurt told Bobby, placing a hand on Kitty’s arm soothingly. “I’m driving the SUV over.”

“Sounds good,” Bobby agreed, now unscrewing the bottle of pills. His shoulder was throbbing wildly. It was getting harder for him to be sociable through the pain. He scanned the instructions Hank had scribbled on the label, noting that he should take about two at a time with plenty of liquids. Shrugging, he placed two pills in the palm of his hand.

Now for something to down this stuff with, he thought, scanning the hallway for a water fountain. No such luck. Then he spotted Kurt’s hand, which was holding a plastic sports bottle. It was clear, indicating the presence of orange juice.

Immediately, he snatched the bottle from Kurt. “Can I have some of this?” he asked.

Kurt’s golden eyes widened with apprehension. “Bobby, no!” he cried out, trying to take the bottle back.

“Bobby, you can’t…” Kitty began, trying to take the bottle away from him. Her voice soon trailed off.

Unfortunately, the their attempts to thwart Bobby were too late. He and Kitty watched helplessly as their teammate popped the pills into his mouth before taking a big swig of the bottle’s contents. Then they exchanged troubled glances. While neither of them was well versed in pharmacology, both knew what might happen as a result of mixing pills and alcohol. On the bright side, he had not ingested enough of the drink to cause any serious harm. However, it was sufficient to promise some interesting changes in his demeanor.

Bobby held the bottle away from him and stared at it carefully. After a few seconds, he smacked his lips together, a quizzical expression furrowing his brow. “That’s really strong orange juice,” he observed and stared down at the bottle again. “But good. Good, good.”

Kitty slapped her hand against her forehead. “We’re, like so dead,” she mumbled to Kurt.

Warren Worthington had just finished talking to the manager at Benton Park. The two of them were going over the billing information for one last time. The set cost of reserving the entire restaurant, plus the cost of food, beverages, and gratuities were finally settled upon. After the details were ironed out, he instructed Jubilee to wait at the mezzanine level to point out where the gift table was and to mingle. Meanwhile, he took it upon himself to greet people at the door.

Almost immediately, guests began to spill inside. Rogue, Gambit, Storm, Bishop, and Sage were the first arrive, followed by Scott and Jean. A few minutes later, Dani, Xi’an, Amara, Rahne, Roberto, and Sam, accompanied by a group of students made their boisterous entrance. A haughty-looking Emma soon swept in, wearing a white fur coat over a deep-cut, white halter dress slit to mid-thigh. Hank, Paige, Jean-Paul, and Tabitha wheeled Professor Xavier inside. Carrying an armload of wrapped boxes was Cain, who brought along his date for the night, Jennifer. Making a quieter arrival were Alex and an unhappy-looking Annie, who quickly disappeared into the crowd.

The Drake family breezed in led by the genteel Maddy. She looked quite radiant that night, beaming from ear to ear. The Drake matriarch was wearing an ankle-length, camel coat over a light-blue sweater set and beige, wool skirt. Her cornflower blue eyes were bright with excitement as she leaned in to give Warren a hug in greeting.

“Warren, it’s so good to see you.” She drew back, still smiling and patting his cheek with a gentle, motherly hand. “How are you, dear?”

The blond playboy flashed her a charming grin. “Fine, thanks. And you?”

“Marvelous,” she breathed, taking in the swank surroundings. She was clearly impressed. “My, this is wonderful. Thank you so much for arranging all of this, Warren. Bobby’s so lucky to have you as a friend.”

Joel pulled off his brown, leather driving gloves. “Yeah, this might be too good for Bobby,” he joked.

His wife, Grace, elbowed him sharply. “Ignore him,” she told Warren. “I think what you’re doing for Bobby is great, Warren. I couldn’t imagine a nicer place.”

He waved off her gushing compliment. “It’s nothing, really,” he told her, nodding and smiling at Joel, Grace, and Mary. “Just my way of letting Bobby know that he’s appreciated.”

His blue eyes soon fell upon the craggy face of Bill Drake. The elder Drake was expressionless as he slipped off his wool overcoat. His steely gaze scanned the restaurant, but it was unclear as to what he was searching for. Leaning upon his aluminum cane, he sighed heavily.

“Yes, this is something,” Bill echoed his wife’s sentiment, but was rather neutral in his assessment. He took Mary’s arm, allowing her to lead him further inside.

Warren hid his irritation. At that moment, he could understand as to why Bobby dreaded spending time with his father. The man could compete with Scott Summers in a congeniality contest and tie for first place. Unruffled, he decided to keep up his act as the gracious host.

“Well, while we wait on the birthday boy, everyone’s upstairs enjoying some cocktails, appetizers, and music,” he informed the family, gesturing to the stairs. “Bobby should be here any minute and then things can go into full swing.”

Mary patted her uncle’s hand, which rested on her arm. “Sounds good.” Turning to him, she asked, “Are you ready, Uncle Bill?”

The nostrils of his crooked nose flared slightly. He stared at the staircase with some contempt. It was uncertain as to whether he was upset about the prospect of climbing the steps, or if he was upset about being forced to mingle with people he cared not to under any circumstances. In the end, it was a toss-up.

Finally, his gray eyes settled on his niece’s inquisitive face. He swallowed hard as he pressed his lips together. “I suppose so,” he replied quietly.

“We’ll see you upstairs, Warren,” Maddy said, heading towards the stairs with the rest of the family. She placed a comforting hand on her husband’s back, ascending the steps to the mezzanine level.

Warren remained at his post by the door as the Drakes made their way to join the rest of the party. He pushed up the sleeve of his rust-colored, cashmere sweater to check his Rolex. Kurt, Kitty, and Bobby were supposed to been here about fifteen minutes ago. He contemplated calling Kurt’s cell phone when he saw the front door swing open widely.

“Sorry, we’re late,” Kitty gasped, wisps of hair framing her cat-like eyes. She scurried inside, escaping the breezy air that hung outside. The University of Chicago graduate looked rather festive in a gray tweed sweater jacket, white T-shirt, and a pair of jeans with a pink, satin ribbon tied around her hips.

Warren watched Kurt follow her inside. Curiously, he seemed to be carrying Bobby in with him. “Um, OK,” he said slowly, blinking. “Traffic?”

Kitty glanced at Kurt, who looked very nervous. “Not exactly,” she answered, peering towards the stairs. The effect of the pills and the alcohol settled in quickly, transforming their teammate into a pliant, but willful person who slurred his words. It had taken her and Kurt a better part of an hour to convince Bobby to get dressed for the party. An additional twenty minutes were spent on coaxing him into the car. “So, is everyone’s upstairs?”


“Great. I’ve got to ask Ororo something.”

Kurt, who had been preoccupied with keeping Bobby on balanced, became aware of what she was about to do. Quickly, he propped Bobby against the far wall. “Kitty, vait!” he called out. To his chagrin, his friend was already racing up the stairs. He made a note to get her back later.

Meanwhile, Bobby had ambled over to Warren. His gray eyes were no longer heavy-lidded, as he tried to put on his most serious expression. The wobbling in his gait gave it away. Placing his arm around Warren’s broad shoulders, he drawled, “Hey, Warren, what did the five fingers say to the face?”

Warren gave him a quizzical look and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he replied. “What?”

The younger man leaned over and smacked his friend across the face, laughing hysterically. “SLAP!” he screeched before falling down backwards in a heap.

Warren’s hand immediately flew to his cheek. He stared at his friend with a mixture of astonishment and ire. Then out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Kurt shaking his head and covering his mouth. The tall, blond waved the German native over brusquely. When the other man complied, he scowled darkly.

“What the hell is going on?” he demanded, blue eyes narrowing into razor-thin slits.

Kurt swallowed hard, tugging at the collar of his shirt. As slender as he was, he felt somewhat constricted all of the sudden. “Vell,” he began, “Bobby got hurt today during our mission and he’s on some painkillers. And…”

“And what?”

“And, there’s a chance he might have had some alcohol vit a couple of the pills.”

“What? Is he going to be OK? Should he even be here?”

“Hank said he’ll be fine. Mixing the pills and the alcohol is akin to being intoxicated. He said it should wear off in a little vile.”

“How long is a little while?”

“Ach… I don’t know. Hank didn’t say exactly.”

Warren felt his face flush red, furious with Hank for failing to give him a heads-up. “How did this happen?” he snapped.

Kurt hesitated, watching Bobby grab a white, linen napkin from one of the tables to place it upon his head. He stuck his nose in the air and began to walk back and forth, swinging his hips. “Look at me,” he slurred merrily, “I’m Emma Frost!”

The German turned his attention back to an open-mouthed Warren. “I don’t think it’s all that important as to how it happened as much as that it already happened.”

“We can’t let him show up in front everyone like that,” Warren hissed hotly. He raked a hand through his golden locks. “Help me think of something!”

Kurt pulled at the collar of his navy-and-green sweater, which he wore over his broken-in cargo pants. Part of him wanted to burst out laughing from the hilarity of the situation, and from exhaustion of his long, stressful day. Sensing Warren’s elevating anger, he decided against it. Instead, he relegated himself to assisting his friend in figuring out a way to solve their dilemma.

He was about to suggest keeping Bobby down here with pitchers of coffee in front of him when he suddenly noticed how still things were. Alarmed, he turned his head to scan the room. Almost instantly, he felt his stomach drop.

“Varren?” he drawled.

The tall, blond looked irritated as he was roused from his musings. He was in the midst of formulating a concrete plan. “What?”

“Vhere’s Bobby?”

“What do you mean ‘Where’s Bobby?’”

Jubilee took a piece of smoked salmon on brioche toast from the proffered plate in front of her. She nodded her gratitude to the bald waiter before she swept past him. Her sapphire eyes were pensive as she leaned against the back of one of the overstuffed, leather sofas. As she nibbled on the appetizer, she fell back on her favorite pastime of people watching. She figured it was a constructive activity as she waited for Bobby to arrive.

A smile tugged at her lips as Logan placed an arm around Ororo’s slim, shoulders, which were left bare by her strapless, ivory dress with an A-line skirt. He was whispering something into her ear, chewing on his cigar. The stunning weather goddess wrinkled her nose before snatching the Cohiba from Logan’s lips and tossing it into a nearby ashtray. Then she clasped his hand, leading him to the dance floor, where Scott and Jean, and Rogue and Gambit were dancing.

On the other side of the room, Emma was sitting at the bar, nursing a martini and smoking a cigarette. The former headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy was engaged in a quiet conversation with Hank McCoy. Close by, a group composed of Paige, Annie, Kitty, Dani, Xi’an, Amara, and Rahne were laughing over something Tabitha was saying. Sage and Bishop were playing pool at one of the tables, while Sam, Roberto, Jean-Paul, and Alex were engaged in a game of darts. Nearby, Lorna Dane stood by the cigar bar with a brandy in her hand, staring intently at Alex.

In all, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Finishing the last of her appetizer, she only hoped that Bobby would be caught up in the euphoria. For the last several days, she watched him brood as the day of the party edged closer. In spite of her repeated reassurances that all was going to be fine, he continued to be express his doubts. However, she was convinced that once he made it here, he would relax.

She flicked her eyes to her Fossil watch, noting that Bobby should have been here a while ago. She wondered if there was anything wrong, but quickly dismissed those thoughts. If there was, she reasoned, Warren would have known and consequently, communicated something to her and everyone else. Inwardly, she repeated the mantra to put herself at ease and enjoy the levity around her.

Her musings were soon shattered when she heard someone clear their throat. Startled, she jumped. Then she turned around, finding herself face to face with the other person. Her lips twitched a little upon discovering the identity.

“Hi,” she managed, placing a hand over her chest to reflect her continued surprise.

Bill gave her a curt nod in greeting. He took in the young girl his son was dating. Jubilee looked like some kind of lovely ingénue, her long, dark tumbling down her shoulders and providing a contrast against her creamy skin and sparkling, blue eyes. She was wearing a champagne-colored, sleeveless sweater with a gold, antique lace skirt that fell above her knees.

His steely eyes then roved over the hand she clutched over her chest. Around her ring finger was the Claddaugh ring he had passed on to Bobby weeks ago. The band glowed with a radiance that was highlighted by the overhead lighting. As much as a part of him hoped that she would not accept it, there was another part that considered the possibility of her wearing it.

“Fits you well,” he told her flatly after a second of passing silence.

She followed his gaze and blushed. “Thank you.” Dropping her hand to her side, she tried not to fidget under his scrutinizing stare. “So, how are you?”

“Tired. The climb up here didn’t help.” He tapped his aluminum cane with great disdain.

A concerned frown furrowed her brow. “Do you need to sit down?” she inquired.

The Drake patriarch shook his head, grimacing. “I’d rather not,” he told her woodenly. “Too many people clustered around the chairs. I don’t like that kind of thing.”

“Oh.” Somehow, this piece of information did not surprise her. In an effort to drum up some conversation in lieu of leaving him altogether, she stared down at the glass tumbler in his other hand. “Anything good?”

Bill shrugged indifferently. “If you like soda water,” he said. “I can’t have anything strong because of my medication. Not that I miss it anyway.”

“Oh.” Jubilee felt as if she were drowning in sea of helplessness with no hope of rescue in sight. All of her friends were occupied. Bobby was nowhere to be found. She bargained desperately to whatever deity was willing to hear her plea for some kind of graceful way out.

To her astonishment, Bill decided to prolong the conversation. “That was his grandmother’s ring, you know,” he pointed out, taking another look at the heirloom around Jubilee’s finger.

Instinctively, she folded her hands together. “I know,” she whispered, unsure as to what was going to follow. She hated the way she felt so off-kilter now.

“I…I gave that to Maddy before we got married. Did he tell you that?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Yes, well, she wore that just before I proposed to her. It was like a precedent to the engagement ring.”


“I wanted to show her that I was committed to her. I didn’t have to tell her outright, but I meant that. Do you see where I’m going?”


“When I passed it on to Bobby, he looked me in the eye and told me that he understood what it stood for. This ring wasn’t for some fleeting little thing, some passing infatuation. He had to be serious, just like I was.”

“I know. He was. Believe me, he was.”

“Then you must know how hard it was for me to take this in.”

“Yes, Mr. Drake, I know that, too. It’s no secret that I’m not what you want for your son.”

He studied her closely, gray eyes steely. “It’s hard to have any faith.”

She tucked a lock of hair behind a delicate ear. “I’m not going to try to come up with arguments to sway you,” she began, her voice low. “I just need for you to know that what I said to you weeks ago—nothing has changed. All I want to do is be what Bobby has been to me. I can’t think of anything else to say.”

“I see.” Bill pressed his lips firmly together. His craggy features were drawn in an unreadable expression. He had not expected to hear that, but was mildly surprised to know that she was holding her ground. As he mulled over her words, he realized that in the back of his mind, he wanted to believe her.

“Hiya.” Bobby came up from behind Jubilee, draping his arms around her slim waist. He planted a kiss at the base of her throat. Then he raised his head and nodded in greeting at his father, who appeared taken aback from the explicit display of affection. “Looks like a serious meeting of the minds.”

Jubilee drew back slightly and turned to stare up at him. “Uh, I guess you could say that,” she said, her brows knitting together in confusion. There was a strange, uninhibited quality she sensed from Bobby. His playful gray eyes seemed kind of manic, while his breathing was somewhat rapid as if he had been running around. The young man’s shirttails were hanging out from beneath his brown, half-zip sweater. His khakis, which would have been normally pressed, were rumpled, as was his hair.

“Yes.” Bill eyed his son warily, gripping the handle to his cane tightly. There was something a little off about his son just now. He cleared his throat. “Did you see your mother yet?”

Bobby rested his chin against the curve that connected Jubilee’s slender neck to her shoulder. “Yeah,” he replied nonchalantly, “she seems to think I’m looking out of sorts.”

“She’s not the only one,” Bill muttered, gulping down the rest of his soda water. He quirked a brow when Bobby laughed. “Something funny, Bobby?”

His son smiled broadly, gray eyes twinkling with incredible mirth. “I didn’t know you had a sense of humor, Dad. Here I was, thinking I got that from Mom. Do you know she doesn’t get half the jokes I tell? Well, now things are totally explained!”

Then he turned to Jubilee, pulling her body closer to his. “Isn’t it great to know that our kids are going to have a decent sense of humor? Just look at our genes… Hey, you know what? Maybe that can be their mutant power—being the ultimate comic. What do you think, Jubes?”

Concerned, Jubilee stared deeply into Bobby’s gray eyes. “Are you OK?” she asked. “Do you need for me to get you something?”

He shook his head firmly. “I’ve got all I need right here,” he told her, giving her a squeeze. “I don’t need anything else. I don’t need anyone else. You see, you’re the only thing that’s making this whole birthday party bearable. Hips and all.” His hands moved down to the area he was referring to for emphasis.

Jubilee’s eyes widened at him. What is with him? she wondered, her own hands flying down to where his were and clasping them tightly.

Meanwhile, Bill frowned at his son, unable to provide a response to that remark. He quickly became aware this might have been in reference to his wife’s obsession with the possibility of grandchildren. Not that he had paid too much attention to the matter since Bobby had remained single for a while. However, he was aware of his son’s repressed discomfort over the topic. It was surprising to him that Bobby was now talking about it, albeit indirectly. One of the few things the Drake men shared was the propensity to mask contempt for certain issues, particularly when they came up in conversation repeatedly. For Bobby, Bill surmised, being pressured into settling down and starting a family was one of them.

“I think you need to sit down,” Jubilee finally said evenly. She resisted the urge to grind her teeth, something she often did when she was feeling stressed. Perhaps she could convince Hank or the Professor to see what was behind this bizarre behavior. “It’s pretty clear you’re not well.”

Bobby snorted, pulling away from her. “It’s pretty clear that you’re trying to ruin my good time,” he retorted, mimicking her tone. He stomped off and called over his shoulder, “I’ll be back when you’re fun again!”

Usually, Jubilee would have been indignant. She was the queen of ultimate fun, something Bobby should have known. Nevertheless, she soon pieced things together to the point where she was aware that this was not the Bobby she knew talking. Some extraneous factor was making him act the way he did and say the things he said. Given this, allowing him to walk around and mingle in the condition he was in was a recipe for disaster.

She turned to Bill and straightened her shoulders. “I have to ask you to excuse me,” she said, worry emanating from her cerulean eyes. “I… I have to go. Something’s not right.”

I have to go take care of him.

The elder Drake was still staring after his son, reeling from the display of strange behavior manifested. It was nothing like he had seen or heard before from Bobby. As he gave Jubilee a short nod for her to depart, he wondered how long the younger Drake bottled all of that sentiment and why it had surfaced now.

Jubilee was weaving between the guests, who were gathered in small groups, laughing and chatting over drinks and appetizers. Occasionally, someone would greet her with a smile or a ‘hi’. Not wanting to reveal that anything was out of the ordinary, she hurriedly responded. Her main focus was on trying to look for Bobby. Unfortunately, he had gotten a good head start and that, combined with the hordes of people now in attendance, made it impossible to locate him. She inwardly groaned, wondering who decided to take her boyfriend on a pre-celebration endeavor before coming here.

Suddenly, she felt a hand grab her arm firmly. Surprised, she whipped her head around to see a guilty-looking Kurt. “Hey,” she said breathless, trying to slip her arm away. “Listen, this isn’t a good time. I have to look for Bobby.”

“I know,” he said, raising his voice above the din of the crowd. Then he leaned towards her to whisper in her ear. “There’s something you should know.”

“That’s he acting like he’s in Opposite Land? Thanks, Kurt, but I got that memo a while ago.” Jubilee tempered her impatient, sarcastic comment with a smile.

He shook his head, leading her towards the seating area where there were less people around. “Nein, that’s not the only thing.”

She stared at him, noticing a sheepish expression crossing his devil-like features. “Then what else?” she prompted, uncertain as to what she was going to hear.

Quickly, the German explained what happened, including his and Kitty’s culpability in the matter. Then he went through Hank’s initial assessment of things, where the doctor believed that Bobby would be fine enough to celebrate. As he relayed the information, he imagined a light bulb going off over her head. A disbelieving Jubilee provided a run-through of what just happened.

When she finished, she grasped his arm tightly. “You have to help me find him,” she insisted with a flash of desperation in her gaze. “Before he does something stupid.”

“Too late.”


“Take a look.”

Jubilee followed Kurt’s stare to the dance floor. Had this been happening to some other couple, she would have not hesitated to laugh out loud. Instead, she found herself affixed to where she was standing as she witnessed something she never dreamed she would ever see. To her mortification, a small gathering surrounded the action, creating an amused audience. Immediately, her hand flew over her gaping mouth.

On the center of the dance floor, Bobby was dancing cheek to cheek with Cook. The portly Englishwoman was protesting loudly, telling him that she did not know how to dance. In response, the boyishly handsome young man grinned at her and held her closer.

“Mr. Drake, please,” Cook cried out shrilly for what seemed like the tenth time, struggling to free her arms from his tight embrace. Her chubby cheeks were burning with intense embarrassment from the smiles on the faces that surrounded them. This was the last place she truly wanted to be. “I don’t dance!”

“C’mon, Cook, it’s easy.” Bobby took the lead, sweeping them across the floor with great flourish. “I’ve got the moves, so dance with me, Mama!”

With that, he twirled her around. Unfortunately, Bobby did not hold onto her hand. This sent the rotund Englishwoman spinning around uncontrollably. At this point, she was so overwhelmed and so disoriented, there was little she could do control where she was going or to even stop her body at all. This, in turn, made her quite frightened, sending shrieks from her wavering mouth. Meanwhile, Bobby seemed content to waltz with an imaginary partner in her stead.

Alarmed, Gambit raced from Rogue’s side and darted to the dance floor. The tall, lean Cajun thief reached out for Cook. With cat-like reflexes, he caught her and drew her close to his side to steady her. She collapsed against him, muffling a distressed, humiliated wail. He patted her back comfortingly.

“Gambit t’ink you move divine, Cook,” he mused after several seconds when he was satisfied that she was going to be fine.

She drew back from him, observing a teasing grin that tugged at his lips. Inhaling deeply, she stared at him. Then she slapped his shoulder, furious.

Jubilee and Kurt swiftly made their way to the dance floor, hoping to get to Bobby. They ignored the chuckles and comments that floated by in regards to his dancing. For Jubilee, she was torn between fretting over Bobby’s well being and wanting to blast him into a million ice-cubes. She finally stepped on the dance floor, finding herself a foot away from him.

“Bobby!” she called out to him. “Bobby, come over here!”

He turned around, stopping in mid-waltz. Then he peered around as if she were calling out to another Bobby and shrugged his shoulders. Gray eyes twinkling with unbridled mischief, he soon dashed from the dance floor and quickly fled towards the stairs.

Goddammit, Jubilee groused to herself, following him with speed of her own. Wolvie’s right. Love does make you stupid. Why else would I be chasing after this drunken fool?

She glided down the staircase that led to the main floor of the restaurant. Waiters and waitresses were in the midst of setting the tables. Spotless, white china was laid out with flatware and red napkins. Candles were being lit with care. The aroma of food wafted in the air from the kitchen in the back of the restaurant.

When Jubilee reached the bottom of the stairs, she could see Bobby duck into one of the hallways opposite to the kitchen. She jogged after him, cursing the mules she had chosen to wear with her outfit. Already, she imagined the blisters forming. Cursing under her breath, she followed him. There was no need to attract additional attention by yelling his name. She figured she would simply grab him by the collar and drag him away once she caught up with him.

The young girl found him in front of door with a vintage poster for Vermouth. Gasping from all of the running she had done, she slowed down as she approached him. The fatigue she had been experiencing was quickly replaced with all-consuming mortification mixed with anger. “You’re coming with me,” she hissed, curling her fingers around his arm.

“Before or after we sneak off in here for some quiet time?” Bobby slurred, draping an arm around his girlfriend’s waist and pulling her close to his side. He placed his hand over the doorknob. “We get interrupted all the time, so I thought…”

Jubilee pushed herself away from him. “That’s your problem,” she said, exasperated. She had to repeat inside her mind that this was not her Bobby talking. “You’re in no condition to think. Let’s go.”

He made a whimpering sound. “Oh come on, Jubes,” he pleaded. “All I want to do is be with you. Is that so wrong?”

She sighed wearily, finding herself being taken in by his hangdog expression. Even when he was in this state, it was difficult for her not to find him adorable. Or, was it pathetic? “No, but…” she began reluctantly.

“Great!” he cried out, his face lighting up. Grinning broadly, he yanked open the door. He was about to usher her inside with him, but paused in his steps. For the first time that evening, he was completely still, his face completely blank. In his intoxicated haze, he believed the room was empty.

But it was not.

He saw Alex Summers, blond hair askew as he sat atop a crate. His dress shirt was untucked and unbuttoned halfway. Next to his feet was the black, shawl-collar sweater he had been wearing earlier that evening, along with his belt. In the dimness of the light that glowed overhead, one could discern his blue-green eyes were dazed. His breathing was shallow and his face was pink.

The next thing Bobby saw was green hair. It was green like the sea, flowing and wild. Beyond that, he noted curvaceous limbs, which were bare. A black, velvet tank top was hanging off of one of the hooks on the far wall. Immediately, arms flew up to cover and shield.

Oh God.

Jubilee’s eyes were round as saucers, absorbing the startling scene in front of her. Any semblance of logical thought had disappeared. Her focus was on the man standing next to her, wondering what his reaction would be. She watched him stumble backwards, stunned. Biting on her lower lip, she reached out for him, to comfort him, to do something.

What followed next took everyone by surprise.

Bobby threw back his head and laughed hysterically. He was so overcome by his laughter, tears began to stream down his cheeks. Then he pointed at Alex and Lorna with an unsteady finger. The intent behind this gesture was unknown, but captivated everyone’s attention nonetheless. The couple, frozen, simply stared at him in great confusion. After a while, he grabbed the doorknob and slammed it closed, roaring.

Jubilee stared at him in disbelief, uncertain as to what to make of this. I guess he’s taking that well, she mused. She watched him stagger away and collapse on the floor, lost in his laughter.

Warren and Kurt, followed by Hank arrived on the scene, their faces filled with a mixture of relief and puzzlement upon finding Bobby. Their collective stares soon traveled to Jubilee, who was kneeling down next to him. She appeared equally perplexed as she cradled Bobby’s head in her arms.

“What happened?” Hank asked, adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses.

She opened her mouth, attempting to explain the precipitating event. Then she snapped it closed. There was no way she was going to try to put into words what just happened. It was simply better to leave things alone. The awkwardness of the whole thing was too much.

Finally, she shrugged her shoulders. “I found him like this,” she lied, stroking Bobby’s hair. She stared up at the three men and said, “I don’t think he’s up to partying. Do you think we can go back to the mansion? I mean, everyone’s having such a good time, I doubt they’re going to miss us anyway.”

Warren appeared irked. After all, he had spent a good deal of money on this event and the special guest was not going to be able to make it. On the other hand, he could not allow his friend to roam about in his current condition. That would be irresponsible.

Pressing his lips together, he nodded stiffly. “Fine.”

“Do you need any help?” Kurt asked, helping her pull Bobby to his feet.

Jubilee wrapped an arm around the still-laughing Bobby and nodded. “Yeah,” she replied, steadying him. “Two things. Kurt, could you teleport us back there? I can take care of Bobby there and you can come back here.”

Kurt nodded. “Ja.”

“What’s the other thing?” Warren asked, watching Bobby rest his head against her shoulder.

She shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Maybe get the Professor or Jean to wipe out everyone’s memory of what happened and implant something about Bobby being ill as the reason for him not being around. No sense in embarrassing the guy on his birthday.”

“He kind of deserves it in a way after what he’s done tonight,” Warren pointed out, not quite forgetting the slap he received earlier that night.

She nodded. “You’re right, but still, he wasn’t totally responsible for what he said or done. He’s not himself. You know that. Look, he wouldn’t have done half the things he pulled tonight.”

The blond Adonis exhaled loudly, annoyed that she was right in her assertion. He raked a hand through his hair. “Sure,” he said, exchanging a glance with Hank. “We’ll see what we can do.”

Hank was still concerned, licking his lips when Bobby’s laughter subsided. “Are you sure you don’t need one of us to stay with you? As we’ve all seen tonight, he’s quite a handful.”

Jubilee shook her head emphatically, blue eyes firm. “I’ll be OK,” she reassured the three men.

Then with a BAMF, Jubilee, Bobby, and Kurt were gone.

Bobby woke up the next morning, his head thudding with a dull pain that could only be matched by the throbbing in his shoulder. The sunlight that streamed inside temporarily blinded him. Groaning, he tried to gather a recollection as to what happened the night before. He hypothesized that he had been drinking given his sorry state—headache, barely able to move, groggy, and stomach jumping up and down. Tried as he did, nothing was registering in his memory at that moment.

Ugh, what the hell did I drink last night? What the hell did I do last night? he asked himself.

He rolled over on his uninjured side to find himself staring into a pair of sparkling, blue eyes. Blinking, he swallowed and found that his mouth was terribly dry. He coughed, a dry, harsh sound, sitting up abruptly.

“Here.” Jubilee opened a bottle of water and passed it to him. She watched him take a big gulp. “Better?”

He nodded. “Thanks.” His gray eyes swept over his girlfriend, who was wearing a pair of multicolored, striped pajamas. Although she was dressed for sleep, she did not appear as if she had gotten a great deal. There was a hint of dark circle under her eyes and her face looked drawn and pale.

Finally, he asked softly, “Are you OK?”

She smiled at him, patting his head affectionately. “I was going to ask you the same thing,” she told him as she took the bottle from him and placed it on the nightstand by her side of the bed. “You see, Birthday Boy, you had quite a night.”

He paled. “Oh, no,” he groaned, lying back down and pulling a pillow over half of his face. “What did I do?”

“You mean you don’t remember?” she asked. While it was not out of the realm of possibility, it could happen. Slowly, a devilish smirk quirked her mouth. This is going to be fun.

“Not really.”

“So no memory of you cutting a rug with Cook on the dance floor?”

“What? Oh God!”

“Oh, what about pouting and telling me that I’m no fun?”

“I did that?”

“Then there’s the time you told your dad how we’re going to have mutant kids with the ability to make anyone laugh.”

“Are you serious? Really, are you serious?”

“Kurt said you did this impression of Emma that he found off-the-wall.”

“Are you sure he’s not trying to pin something he did on me?”

“I seem to also remember a certain Bobby Drake saying he liked my hips, too.”

He pulled the pillow away from his face. “Well, I like everything about you, Miss Jubilee,” he said, brushing a wisp of hair from her soft cheek. He wagged his brows suggestively. “It’s not just your hips.”

She laughed. “Real smooth.”

“Hey, it’s all I’ve got,” he said defensively. “From what you’re telling me, whatever dignity I had went out the window from my partying. I mean that’s the reason why I can never leave this room again, right?”

Jubilee’s laughter faded as she held his hand in hers. “Well, you didn’t do too much partying,” she admitted. “The only drink you had was what you sampled from Kurt. The painkillers and that sent you over the edge. I’d say we were there for about an hour before Kurt and I took you home.”

Bobby groaned again. “So, I’m a lightweight loser who acts like an idiot. That’s what people are going to think?”

She shook her head, silky hair rippling down her slim shoulders. “No,” she told him. “The Professor wiped out almost everyone’s memory of what happened. Consider it his gift to you.”

“Almost everyone?” her boyfriend asked, peering up at her angelic face. “Other than you and me, who else in the know?”

She pressed her lips against the back of his hand. “Warren, Beast, and Kurt,” she informed him, watching him grimace. Apparently, he was aware of the teasing and ribbing that awaited him once he ran into those three.

After imagining the torture that was going to be inflicted upon him at the hands of his friends, his expression softened. “So, you took care of me?” he mused.

She rolled her eyes in mock disdain. “Yeah, someone had to. You pretty well ticked everyone off last night. You’re lucky I’m nuts about you to nurse your drunk butt all through the night. By the way, nice SpongeBob boxers.”

Bobby lifted the flat sheet and stared down. Then he said, “These were supposed to bring me luck.” He returned his gaze to her smiling face. “I guess in a way, I was lucky last night.”

Jubilee slid down so that she was now lying next to him on her side. “How so?”

“I have you,” he declared, gray eyes solemn. “I’m not sure who else would have done what you did.”

Her cheeks turned pink at the compliment. “I love you, you silly boy,” she whispered. “Why wouldn’t I do that?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, cupping her cheek with a cool, dry hand. “I guess I’m not used to being with someone as incredible as you. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to accept that I have my dream.”

Jubilee gave him a wry smile. “Stop it, you’re making me blush.”

“No, Jubes,” Bobby insisted, shaking his head emphatically. He took her hand, kissed the back of it affectionately, and pressed against his bare chest, over his heart. “Even though I was totally wasted to remember the party or what I got, I still have the most important and wonderful thing right here. It’s like whatever I might face in the world, I can find comfort in knowing I have you and that you’re with me. No matter what.”

This time, she actually blushed. It was the first time she had ever heard her virtues extolled in such a manner. Before Bobby, she lived vicariously through TV show characters or her friends to experience it. Listening to him speak and knowing that he meant his words sincerely, her heart swelled inside her chest.

She suddenly became grave when she realized she forgot to disclose one event. There was a part of her that was hesitant about doing so. Deep inside, she was ambivalent as to how it might affect Bobby. He had told her that he was over Lorna, and that he was over the whole Alex thing as well.

But last night might have changed things. His reaction was so unexpected and strange, troubling her. Sure, she believed everything he had said to her about being happy with her. Yet, it was hard not to feel off-balanced in regards to what happened. She could understand a catatonic state, or flying into some of irrational state. Laughing as a response to finding his ex-girlfriend with his rival, however, was something she failed to comprehend. Was this a sign that something else was lurking behind his consciousness?

No, she reasoned to herself, it was not. She had faith in what she had with Bobby. There was no jealousy or fear of losing him that disturbed her. Rather, it was something else. It was fueled out of worry for him and for his adjustment. She wasn’t sure if she could bear seeing him go through hell if he didn’t have to.

“Jubes?” Bobby looked concerned, a frown creasing his brow. “Is something wrong?”

She was startled as she peered up at him. Quickly, she brushed aside her ruminations. Flashing him her most charming smile, she shook her head. Before he could press the issue further, she kissed him deeply and held him close to her.

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