saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 31 (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.
Several weeks later, winter departed for the year. Much to the chagrin of some, it had overstayed its’ welcome (Bobby strongly felt otherwise). The white snow that had been a fixture on the mansion’s grounds had melted away, revealing emerald-green grass. Bare trees, which had been stripped of their leaves during the cold season, now boasted crisp, green foliage. Soft, warm breezes replaced bitter, icy winds that sent chills up one’s spines. The brilliance of the sun often competed with the rains spring brought, which nourished the garden’s many flowering bushes and trees. Birds and butterflies mingled together, making their return after a winter’s stay in the South.
The change in season was not only reflected in the weather, but around the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. There was an infectious sense of brightness that even affected the most hardened and jaded of hearts. Conversations in the classroom became more cheerful. Some instructors, like Hank and Kurt, chose to teach out in the garden or by the lake nearby. Bulky clothes worn during the colder months were shed in favor for lighter ones. Students happily found their curfews extended by an hour due to the prolonged sunlight. Cook began preparing dishes that reflected the sentiment associated with the season. Menus began to consist of items such as sole meunière, bundt cakes, risotto with asparagus, garlic fries, and pork chops with fennel.
In spite of the relaxing calm that enveloped the mansion and its’ residents, the active team members still found there was still a great deal of work to do. The Professor seemed especially concerned about a swell of recent activity across the West Coast. While he reassured them there was no imminent danger posed by these new developments, he continued to express his reservations nonetheless.
Back at the mansion, Jubilee frowned at the ceiling of her bedroom, trying to block out the sunlight streaming in through the cream-colored curtains. Lying in bed, she was far removed from the complexities of serving on one of these teams. Yet, the young girl found it difficult to fall back asleep after only five hours of slumber. Part of her wanted to attribute her condition to the bright morning light, or the prospect of midterms, or even the chili cheese fries she shared with Paige the night before. Sighing, she came to the realization that none of those things played a role in what was behind it.
It was something else.
Rolling over on her side, she continued frowning. It had been almost a month since that she and an intoxicated Bobby stumbled in on Alex and Lorna. While the awkward incident remained fresh in her mind, Bobby was completely unaware of it. He appeared to genuinely to have no recollection of the encounter at all. The other day, during lunch, he had pointed out how attentive Alex was with Annie. It took Jubilee a great deal of inner reserve not to make a comment about his remark. Then she searched for any source of sarcasm in his words or in his demeanor, only to find nothing.
She wanted desperately to believe that she had made the right decision in not disclosing what happened to Bobby. Since that morning in his room when she had her chance to tell him, she tried to rationalize things. Repeatedly, she told herself that he was better off not knowing, that he was happier this way; that this was something he did not have to be aware of anyway.
At first, her attempts at justifying her actions sat well with her. She was, after all, protecting him because she loved him. That was what other people do. What she was doing was no different.
Besides, what good could have come out of letting him know about Alex and Lorna hooking up?Jubilee wondered, chewing on her lower lip. So that Bobby could get all weirded out about seeing his enemy getting cozy with the woman he’s been in love with for so long? That doesn’t exactly sound like an experience he would want, not after he’s made his peace with both of them. Telling him would jeopardize that, and I just can’t… I won’t see him hurt. Not again. No way.
However, this line of thinking quickly eroded in favor of other ruminations that began to plague her. Who was she to make such determinations? Furthermore, she was shortchanging Bobby a great deal by what she had done. Taking her reasoning a step further, he was this irrational and immature person, who could easily fall apart and thus, needed shielding. While she never consciously saw her boyfriend in this light, there was no escaping the truth behind her conclusion.
Then there was the pledge they had made to one another about their relationship. Since their declarations of their feelings to one another, both affirmed their commitment to open communication. Honesty was something to be striven for. Secrets were supposed to be things to be left behind.
Now, here she was, duplicitous in her silence.
Immediately, she found herself consumed by an overwhelming sense of guilt and anxiety. These emotions seemed to intensify when Bobby was around. Much to her relief, he was oblivious to her troubled state of mind as he was in the throes of grading midterms and various assignments from his classes. He was teaching three different sections of math analysis this term, which kept him very busy. Otherwise, he would have determined something was amiss.
Frustrated that she was going to be denied any sleep yet again, Jubilee sat up, swung her legs over the side of the bed, and pulled on her dark blue-and-green, plaid flannel robe over her gray tank top and boxers. Her bare feet glided across the cool, hardwood floor as she made her way to her door. In an effort to clear the haze from her head, she blinked as she descended the stairs. Shuffling towards the kitchen, she could detect coffee brewing and Jean’s specialty spinach and Gruyere omelets wafting in the air.
“You’re up finally,” Scott observed, sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of coffee in one hand and a clipboard in the other. Behind his wraparound, ruby-quartz sunglasses, his eyes crinkled at the corners with amusement. It was a well-known fact around the Summers’ household how their young charge was not a morning-person.
Jubilee grunted a good morning as she slumped into a chair on the other side of him, burying her head in her arms. Briefly, she contemplated producing a small PAF just to take the chirpiness from his tone. In the end, she decided it simply was not worth it.
Jean smiled sympathetically at her, removing the omelets from the frying pan and placing them on white plates. The graceful redhead carried them over, placing them down on the table. Then she planted a kiss on the top of Jubilee’s head. “We were wondering if you were ever going to get up,” she commented, seating herself next to her husband. “I thought the smell of food might rouse your bones.”
Jubilee raised her head. Her stomach growled at the sight of the plate in front of her. In spite of her fatigued state, she could not turn away the chance to dive into the food prepared for her. With a small, grateful smile, she picked up her fork and pierced the omelet.
Scott finished off the rest of his coffee and jumped to his feet, carrying his dishes to the sink. “Well, that’s it for me,” he announced, running hot water over them.
“My morning breath that bad?” Jubilee asked with a mouthful of omelet. Lately, it seemed as if she was seeing very little of him around the house. If he was not involved in school-related business, he was off on a mission with some team. She had come to miss their quieter times together, where he was able to let down his stodgy façade to reveal a side that many were not permitted to see.
He smiled wryly at her, sauntering towards her and pulling on a chino jacket over his black, crewneck sweater and gray slacks. For a moment, there was a glimpse of the Scott she had grown fond of. “I’ve got Danger Room training,” he replied, patting her shoulder and then leaning over to give Jean a kiss on the mouth. “It’s the first time some of the younger students will be in there. I need to be there to supervise.”
“But Dani and Rahne are supposed to be leading that session,” Jean pointed out, stirring a spoonful of sugar into her tea. From what she was able to observe, the former students had proven themselves to be effective mentors to the students.
Her husband pressed his lips together firmly, drawing back. Suddenly, carefree Scott was gone. “I still should be there,” he told her and tucked the clipboard under his arm. “Being in the classroom is one thing, but this is completely different. Neither one of them has done this before. I’d like to be around to just to make sure things go off without a hitch.”
He was close to making a remark about his disapproval of Rahne’s relationship with one of the students, but refrained from doing so. While the age difference did not concern him (a year), the power dynamics inherent to their relationship did trouble him. He had already had several conversations with the Scotswoman over this issue, much to his dismay. Then he turned to the backdoor and waved good-bye before stepping out.
When he was gone, Jubilee reached over and grabbed the pitcher of grapefruit juice. “Why does he feel like he has to do everything?” she wondered aloud, pouring herself a glass.
Jean sipped her tea, green eyes thoughtful. “You know how it is,” she replied, “Scott’s always taken it upon himself to be the caretaker around here. The way he sees it, he’s responsible for everyone. It’s his job to make sure they’re safe—at least that’s how he sees it.”
Jubilee raised her glass to her lips, but stopped from drinking when Jean finished her last sentence. She glanced over at the stunning Jean Grey, who appeared completely guileless. Despite the fact that the redhead was clearly talking about her husband, Jubilee had the sneaking suspicion that the words were directed towards her. She knew that Jean would never pry inside her mind without her consent. Yet, it was still unnerving as to how the other woman seemed so perceptive at that moment.
Finally taking a sip of her juice, Jubilee tried to put on a nonchalant front. She was aware that Jean had a great deal on her plate at the moment with the Professor contemplating retirement. It was no secret that his favorite student was being considered for the position of headmistress of the school. Lately, it had become commonplace for Jean to bring work home or to leave for weeks to recruit new students. No need to add on to what Jean was already dealing with.
Jean sprinkled some pepper on her omelet. “I got a call from Ororo,” she announced, watching the young girl across from her finish off her juice.
Her green eyes were thoughtful as she continued to observe the girl she considered the closest thing to a daughter. She did not need to use her telepathic abilities to know something was troubling Jubilee. For the past several days, she noticed the girl’s distracted demeanor around the house. While she was tempted to approach, Jean knew that Jubilee would not be entirely receptive. Like her beloved Wolvie, the young girl sometimes had a tendency to keep inner conflicts to herself. It was as if she were trying to maintain that image of the always smiling, cheery Jubilee everyone had come to know at the cost of dealing with whatever was causing her angst—much to Jean’s concern.
“Oh yeah? How are she and Logan doing?” Jubilee inquired, sliding another forkful of omelet into her mouth. Inwardly, she was praying that Logan would be returning back to the mansion. She was desperately in need of some guidance, and the loner was the only person guaranteed to shoot straight from the hip.
Jean swallowed, cutting her omelet. “They’re fine,” she replied. “She said that they’re laying low for the moment. Their cover for the mission is as a married couple, and Logan’s taken it upon himself to act like the protective partner. Apparently, he threatened some man outside of their hotel for whistling at Ororo.”
Jubilee stifled a giggle, not at all surprise by his reaction. He had always been fiercely protective of the females at the mansion. While it was annoying, it was amusing and mildly endearing nonetheless. “How did Storm take it?” she finally asked.
“Well, she intervened, of course,” Jean answered, a lock of fiery hair falling across her forehead. She brushed it aside and continued. “Then she calmly explained to Logan that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.”
“I don’t think he’s going to take her words to heart,” Jubilee mused, twirling her fork in her hand.
Jean nodded in agreement, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. “No, he won’t. He’s aware of what she can do after all these years of knowing her, but he won’t change his way of thinking. He’s going to be her protector, whether she likes or not. It’s a sweet gesture, but I’m not sure if she’s going to put up with it for very long without doing something.”
“What do you mean?” Jubilee demanded. From what she knew, the weather goddess was the epitome of serene grace. Given that her feelings were tied to her abilities, she always maintained a rather restrained front. She never flew off the handle in a rage or expressed any kind of other extreme emotion. To do so would ensure unwanted consequences for all.
Jean ate another forkful of omelet before responding. “I mean Ororo’s an autonomous person, not someone who needs to be coddled upon the first sign of trouble.”
Jubilee’s shoulders sank as she dropped her fork with a CLANG! She chewed on her lower lip ruefully. There was no denying this time that Jean was trying to insinuate something. As indignant as Jubilee wanted to be, she knew that the redhead was only offering a patient, nonjudgmental ear to listen. When Logan was gone during his self-imposed exile, Jean had been the one to console and comfort not by reassuring her that everything would be fine but by simply being there.
She was also cognizant of the fact that she needed help as to how to make things right. It was all too clear at this point that her handling of the situation was not the way to go. Too many lost nights of sleep and incessant ruminations provided evidence behind this argument.
Jubilee pushed her plate away from her and took a deep breath. “Sometimes, I wish you wiped my memory that night at Bobby’s birthday party,” she sighed.
Jean tilted her head to the side. “Why?” she asked, relieved that the wall Jubilee had inadvertently built was beginning to crumble. She made a point to be gentle in her prompting, so as not to rush or pressure. It was still apparent that this disclosure was difficult for the young girl. There was no sense to be aggressive now since there was a chance that she could instantly clam up.
“I’d feel better about being in the dark. I’m less culpable that way.”
“What do you have to feel culpable about?”
“Something I did. Or maybe it’s something I didn’t do. Either way, I’m not feeling so great about my decision. I mean I had good intentions, but looking back now I’m not sure if they completely justify what I did.”
“Sounds catastrophic, sweetie.”
“Well, yes and no… There are different layers to the situation.”
“Care to share or would you like for me to do a mind-scan to break up the suspense?”
“No, I’ll tell you. That night, before Bobby and I left, we walked in on something.”
“You mean Alex and Lorna?”
“Yes!” Jubilee almost jumped out of her chair with astonishment. Then she stared at Jean with wide, sapphire eyes. “Um, how did you know? I didn’t feel you poking around in my head or anything…”
Jean tugged at the collar of her pink blouse, somewhat disconcerted by the shared knowledge. While the two were friends of hers, she was not thrilled with what they had done. Fidelity was something important to her, especially given the conflict that had been brewing in her marriage. While nothing had happened between Scott and Emma, it was enough to force Jean to step back and reflect on her relationship with her husband.
Finally, she said, “Lorna stopped by my office yesterday. She told me everything, including the part about you and Bobby.”
Jubilee frowned quizzically. “Wait a minute. I thought you altered everyone’s memory that night with the exception of Beast, Warren, and Kurt.”
The other woman sighed. “I was only able to manage to do that to all the people within my immediate line of vision,” she explained, “which meant everyone on the mezzanine level of the restaurant.”
“Oh.” Jubilee suddenly felt an impending sense of dread that made her stomach feel heavy. “So what did she say?”
“She was a little embarrassed,” Jean replied evenly, taking a sip of her tea. “To an extent, she still is. It’s hard for her to even look you guys in the eye.”
Jubilee nodded. Within the weeks that followed the incident, Lorna had made it a point to avoid being in the same room with her and Bobby. While Bobby had attributed his former girlfriend’s behavior to some issues she was continuing to deal with since her return from Genosha, Jubilee knew better. Deep down, she couldn’t blame her. It was not exactly the most flattering situation.
“But,” Jean went on, her voice breaking into Jubilee’s thoughts, “for the record, Lorna doesn’t regret what happened between her and Alex. Before you ask me as to where this leaves Annie, it might be best that we stay away from that for the time being. Knowing Alex, he’s probably either told her outright or is trying to make amends.”
Jubilee pressed her lips together. She suddenly remembered that the couple were currently away, and had been since last month. The circumstances had been kept rather quiet. Like Jean, she had her own suspicions regarding their vacation together.
Quickly, her mind returned to the subject at hand. While this new development in the relationship between Alex and Annie was disturbing, she had to think about what was affecting her. Feeling more and more at ease with Jean, she confided, “Bobby doesn’t know. He has no memory of that night. As far as he’s concerned, he was drunk and put on a little show for everyone.”
“Oh.” Jean put down her mug and leaned forward in her chair. Her green eyes were thoughtful as she pursued the matter. “You didn’t tell him.”
Jubilee shook her head guiltily. “I just couldn’t,” she admitted in a low voice. “There’s all that history between the three of them, and he’s finally gotten over all of that. Walking in on his ex with the guy he dislikes more than fire was going to probably destroy it. At least, that’s what I thought.”
“Don’t you think you’re not giving Bobby enough credit?” Jean asked, her tone neutral.
“I’m seeing that now, but it’s like I have to protect him from this. I know he says he’s okay with everything. At the same time, I don’t want to see him hurt. So, I’m doing my part to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“And that’s very commendable of you, although Bobby’s more psychologically sound than you think. Not to say that you believe he’s going to be fragmented and fall apart, but he has been through more trying matters. In the end, he’s shown his resilience.”
“So you’re saying if I really love him, I should have more faith in him?”
“Something like that.”
Jubilee sighed wearily, realizing that the redhead was right in her sage assessment of what was going on. Yet, she was still reluctant in a firm commitment to follow her advice. “I just don’t know, Jean,” she said finally. “I don’t think I could live with myself if he suddenly wigs out.”
Jean was silent was for a minute, carefully mulling over the young girl’s response. Then she placed a hand over Jubilee’s and said, “But in the unlikely event that he should react badly, you’ll be there for him. He’s pretty lucky in that respect, don’t you think?”
Bobby was waiting for one of the elevators from Sub-Basement Level Two of the mansion. During his break, he decided to check on Dani and Rahne’s first Danger Room session with their students. While he was not close to either of the women, he did want to offer his support. After all, he knew what it was like to be a young instructor just starting out. Much to his surprise, he ran into Scott. The grim look on the other man’s face conveyed the fact that he wished to observe the session as well, but not to support the younger instructors.
His boyish features arranged themselves into a puzzled expression as he continued to wait. For some reason, all of the elevators were running especially slow that day. He remembered asking Scott about it in passing, who in turn told him that he would have Hank check into the matter. Normally, Bobby would have taken the stairs through the emergency exits, but those areas were locked during Danger Room sessions.
He placed his hand against the wall, drumming his fingers quietly along the steel-reinforced exterior. The worst that could happen was that he could be late and class would be shortened as a result. Somehow, he could not see his students shedding too many tears over that prospect. They were supposed to go over the quiz he gave out last week on quadratic formulas.
In the weeks since his intoxicated birthday outing, he received some teasing from his friends. Warren would jokingly offer to pay for dancing lessons whenever Cook was nearby, while Hank pretended to waltz awkwardly with an imaginary partner. Kurt seemed content to smile and wink at Bobby in passing. While the ribbing was slightly annoying, the fact that none of them chose to outright embarrass him in public spoke volumes about their friendship.
Other than the worried phone call from his mother about his health (Hank had made up an excuse about Bobby being sick in order to cover for his absence), the young man did not think much about that night. Most of what happened was a blur to him. Besides the wisecracking commentary of his friends, Jubilee was there to supply information in order to fill in the missing blanks. Her patient reassurances put his mind at ease, letting him know that he had not done anything too terribly embarrassing.
In spite of the time that had passed, he still felt a twinge of guilt. He knew that he was not fully in control and could hardly be responsible for his behavior. However, it was difficult not to feel some remorse, especially when Jubilee was concerned. The last thing she probably thought about doing, after helping to plan such a gathering, was taking care of a drunk Bobby that night into the morning. From what he had managed to piece together, he was pretty belligerent, providing to be a handful for her and his friends to deal with. But there she was, bringing him water when he was dehydrated, holding him in her arms, and telling him that everything would be fine. He was relieved he was not hung over to the point where he was sick and vomiting in front of her. Now that would be totally mortifying beyond belief.
His attempts to apologize were quickly dismissed. A smile touched his lips as he recalled her explaining to him that he had nothing to be sorry for. When he tried to comment on her efforts to care for him, she stopped him from putting her up on a pedestal once again. As she had eloquently and succinctly put it, “I love you… That’s what people who care about each other do, you know.”
It was hard to argue against that kind of logic.
Finally, Bobby heard the bell that signaled the arrival of the elevator. He stepped in front of the doors so that he would be ready when they opened. As they slid open, he took one step and paused in surprise.
There she was, carrying two large, paper shopping bags and wearing a pink, argyle halter sweater over a white skirt with brown sandals. Her light-green hair tumbled down her shoulders and back in wild waves. Dark-green eyes widened in a mixture of disbelief and shock as she stared at him. Standing there, the air of haughtiness she seemed to carry with her these days receded.
He adjusted his purple-tinted sunglasses, strolling inside and trying to act as casual as possible. The doors closed, breaking the silence between them. Moving past Lorna, he pressed the button to his floor. Then he stepped back.
The discomfort he experienced when he was near his ex-girlfriend was not based on any active dislike. Instead, Bobby found that he was at a loss when it came to interacting with her at all. Their history was complicated, filled with hurt feelings on both ends. She was his first love. Unfortunately, the intensity of these emotions was not reciprocated. It had taken him some time to deal with that rejection.
But that was a long time ago. Things were different now. He was happy and with someone else. He wasn’t pining away for Lorna Dane anymore.
Unable to tolerate the quiet in the air, Bobby decided to speak. “So, uh, how’s it going?” Inwardly, he cringed. Not the most suave opening line, but what could one expect under these circumstances?
Lorna blinked, startled by his initiation of conversation. After several seconds, she composed herself and replied, “Fine.” She shifted her weight from foot to foot, making it clear that this was not where she wanted to be at the moment.
Contrary to what some people thought about her, she hated seeing Bobby hurt. She hated herself for being the one who hurt him. It pained her to know that she was responsible for his anguish. Bobby was the first one to reach out to her, to befriend her when she was lost in the world. He was such a sweet, caring person who deserved better. Better than her, at least.
Since that night with Alex, she steered clear of Bobby and his girlfriend when it was possible. It was hard to forget what transpired. Even at this moment, she could still see Bobby’s face—dumbfounded and blank—as he stood in the doorway. Lorna had expected him to start yelling or stomp out as he had done many times before when he caught her with Alex. It was a response she found familiar and could deal with. She braced herself for the worst.
Instead, Bobby laughed.
Lorna felt herself reeling now as her memory of that night filled her mind. It was nothing like she had seen before. Bobby was screeching with peals of laughter, pointing a finger at both of them. She remembered feeling very confused and off-balanced as she attempted to understand what was happening. Then just as sudden as his laughter started, he had slammed the door. Outside of the door, she could still hear him cackling away.
Standing with him in the small elevator car, she stole quick glance at him. As they moved up from the basement level, there was a part of her that anticipated him making some remark about that night. Seconds passed by, but seemed like eons while they traveled in awkward silence. Usually, she would think nothing of this encounter. Her newly hardened outlook on life compelled her to think this way. She had been through much worse in her young lifetime to be bothered by the complexities of social nuances.
Yet, here she was, bothered.
She cleared her throat. “So, how are you doing?” she inquired.
Bobby was startled, raising his eyebrows. He could tell she was tense even though she was desperately fighting to hide it from him. “I’m doing okay,” he answered slowly, still surprised.I wonder what’s next?
She nodded, which wasn’t meant to convey anything in particular. “That’s good,” she said quietly. All the while, she was trying to look for some faint sign of residual anger. It was definitely throwing her for a loop that he was insistent on playing things cool—no pun intended.
He frowned at her, genuinely confused as to where she was heading with this conversation. Clearly, she was dancing around something here, but was reluctant to talk about it explicitly. Never one to aggressively pressure anyone into talking, he decided to lightly tread. “If you’re going to ask me if I’ve found my first gray hair, the answer is no,” he joked.
Lorna shook her head, taken aback by his comment. While she was aware of Bobby’s penchant for comedy, she did not expect him to say something like that. Why was he being so cagey? He had never been that way before. Was he deliberately trying to make her feel even more uncomfortable in her skin than she already was?
Fed up with the ambiguity of the situation, she extended her hand out and flexed her fingers. The car jerked abruptly. Both she and Bobby were sent stumbling backwards. She was about to completely fall over when she felt herself being held up by a pair of familiar arms.
Bobby helped to steady her. Then he pulled away and stared at her quizzically. “What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, his sense of confusion threatening to overwhelm him. While he was one of the few who believed in giving her the benefit of the doubt after the wedding debacle, he began to question his position now.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I was going to ask the same of you,” she snapped, not wanting to tolerate this game any longer. “I mean, aren’t you going to say something?”
“Say what? What are you talking about?” He felt himself grow increasingly apprehensive. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Lorna.”
“Don’t play dumb, Bobby. Not now, OK? After these past few weeks—”
“I’m not playing.”
“Really. Listen, all I know is that you’ve got us trapped between floors, going off about some unresolved issue that somehow involves me. Maybe if you told me what that happens to be, I could help.”
Lorna was quiet for a moment, placing her hand over her mouth. Her dark-green eyes were locked on his gray ones. Again, she looked for any hint of deception on his part. When she found nothing behind those boyish features, she exhaled loudly. She was feeling very off-balanced again, but this time, for different reasons.
“I’m sorry,” she finally managed, shoulders sinking slightly. Then she laughed bitterly. “Aren’t you tired of me saying that?”
Concerned, Bobby leaned towards her. “What do you think you’ve got something to be sorry for?” he asked gently. He was honestly at a loss as to what she was talking about. If he were pressed to make a guess, he would probably suppose that she was referring to what she did to him at the wedding. However, she had already apologized for that.
She pressed her lips together, suppressing another bark of self-deprecating laughter. “You’re better off not knowing,” she told him. “Hell, maybe that’s why Jubilee didn’t say anything.”
Alarm bells suddenly went off inside Bobby’s brain. Instinctively, a wave of anxiety washed over him. He swallowed hard and frowned. “What does Jubes have to do with any of this?” he asked.
As much as Lorna regretted saying anything at all, she realized that she had gone too far to backpedal and feign ignorance. Her concerns about Bobby’s reaction and saving her face eroded. In short, there was no turning back now. “The night of your birthday,” she began.
Bobby groaned, raking a hand through his sandy hair. He guessed Jean forgot some people in her mind wipe efforts and that Jubilee was trying to spare him the mortification. Filled with a familiar sense of embarrassment, he cut her off. “Listen, whatever I did, I’m sorry. I was kind of out of it and—”
Lorna put up her hand. “Bobby, stop. Just stop.” When he complied, she took a deep breath and pressed on. “That night, Alex and I… I’m going to skip the gory details, but basically we got together.”
Bobby mulled over her words carefully, diving into silence once again. He turned his gaze away from her face as he contemplated what she said. In the past, he would have experienced a myriad of emotions, most of them centering on anger and frustration. He might have groused about how the world was unfair.
That was then and this was now. Circumstances had changed. Both of them were different people.
Most importantly, Bobby had moved on.
Finally, he spoke up. “I’m not upset, if that’s what you were trying to get at. But I’m still not following you when you mentioned Jubes.”
The self-proclaimed Mistress of Magnetism clenched her jaw, irritated that she was in the position of playing messenger. “You two walked in on this,” she explained. “I guess you were drunk, but I’m pretty sure she remembers.” At this moment, Jubilee’s shocked face was vivid in her memory.
With this information, Bobby suddenly found himself very troubled. At first, he wanted to believe that she merely omitted this piece of information because she simply forgotten. Then he reasoned that this could not be entirely true. This bombshell of catching Alex cheating on Annie with his former girlfriend would be difficult to overlook.
Why would she keep this from me?he wondered, perplexed. He thought about asking Lorna, but she appeared as if she were in the dark as well. Shaking his head in disbelief, he continued frowning. He made note to confront Jubilee about her intentions as soon as he met up with her. Then he reached over and hit the STOP button again to start the elevator once again.
The elevator began its’ trek back up the mansion’s floors in a smooth manner. Together, Bobby and Lorna spent the rest of the ride in silence. They also chose not to look at one another. It was as if it to do so would provoke something neither one of them were ready to deal with.
Jubilee was standing outside in a blue-and-green striped T-shirt over cargo pants and espadrilles. She looked startled as she peered into the elevator. Her sapphire eyes were as round as saucers when she noticed who was in there. “Bobby?”
He turned to Lorna, who was gathering her shopping bags and preparing to exit. Then he stepped out and made his way towards his girlfriend. “We need to talk,” he whispered to her urgently, taking her hand in his.
“Are you mad?” Jubilee asked, crystalline eyes studying Bobby’s subdued face.
He turned his gaze to her, tearing it away from the rippling waters of the lake, which shone brightly from the afternoon sun’s rays overhead. The two of them were sitting at the edge of the dock by the mansion’s lake. A soft breeze tempered the unusually warm air that day, adding to the picturesque quality of the scenery.
Bobby had wanted to talk about the revelations as soon as possibly. However, he soon remembered he had a class to teach. While he disliked delaying this conversation, he had to keep his commitment to his students. He also had time to absorb the fact that Jubilee had kept something from him.
Before they met up here, he was fixated as to reasons why she would keep something like this from him. It was that aspect of the situation that troubled him most of all. As for the matter involving Alex and Lorna, he was not at all concerned either way. He simply felt badly for Annie, who had been in love with the younger Summers brother, and for Carter, who desperately wanted a father-figure.
There had been plenty of opportunities following that morning to tell him what happened. Bobby supposed that whatever the reason was, it had to be a good one. For her to keep something from him for the last several weeks, there had to be something compelling behind her actions, or lack thereof. Jubilee wasn’t the type to deceive for flippant motivations.
So he listened to her, with an open mind and without prejudice. Granted, he already knew the basic gist, thanks to Lorna’s account of the events. He informed Jubilee of this, which elicited a crestfallen and guilty response from her. But, he had explained to her, he needed to hear what occurred from her mouth. It was important for him to have her tell him everything.
As she disclosed what transpired, he knew that doing so was quite difficult for her. At times, she struggled to provide details. Her voice cracked a little when she said that he had laughed hysterically upon discovering Lorna and Alex together. She seemed quite bewildered by this reaction, even to this day. To her credit, however, she managed to finish without prompting from him.
He watched her fidget nervously as he continued to stare at her lovely face. “No,” he finally replied quietly, noticing her knuckles turning white from gripping the edge of the wooden planks tightly. “I’m not mad at you, Jubes.”
She looked relieved, but did not release her hold until Bobby pried her hands away. “You’re not?”
He nodded emphatically. “Really,” he told her in a low voice, placing her hands in her lap. Then he said, “I’m just…confused, that’s all.”
“Confused?” Sable brows shot up quizzically. “What do you mean?”
His boyish face was uncharacteristically serious as he shrugged his shoulders. “Why didn’t you tell me? I mean, why did I have to find out about this from Lorna?”
Jubilee scooted back from the edge, drawing her knees to her chest. She rested her chin between her knees and hugged them tightly. “I’m sorry,” she sighed. “I don’t know.”
On the contrary, she did know. Yet, she was hesitant to make her reasons known. She wasn’t sure how he was going to take her spin on things.
“That’s not true,” he insisted, sensing he was right from her tone. He watched her hair lift from her face and shoulders by a warm wind. “You do know.”
She peered over at him.How the hell does he know? “Can’t I just say I’m sorry and we can leave at that? I can throw in one of my special backrubs as a bonus to the deal. What do you say about that?”
“So, why, Jubes? Don’t tell me you don’t know because we’re both aware that’s not entirely true.”
“Come on. No more dancing around the subject. Just tell me, OK?”
“Fine. I didn’t tell you about the whole thing because I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
Jubilee turned to face him again, trepidation evident in her delicate features. Up to now, Bobby had been taking things rather well. It was clear that he was not upset about finding out the truth about Lorna and Alex. True to his word, he was completely over that soap opera. In fact, he seemed unruffled by the matter altogether.
However, his calm front was not guaranteed to last long. While she wanted to take solace in Jean’s words from this morning, there was a part of her that feared some kind of hurt radiating from Bobby’s end when it came to her justification. Sure, her intention was somewhat noble—she only wanted to protect him. Yet, the implicit messages behind her reason were hurtful as she considered them.
I didn’t give you enough credit.
I thought you were going to fall apart.
I didn’t give you enough credit.
She looked deeply at his handsome face. There were the eyes that she came to associate with such kindness and his mouth that relayed all sorts of reassurances and declarations that filled her with happiness. His endearing features were devoid of any hint of anger or frustration. Instead, they conveyed a patience that quickly put her at ease.
Here goes, she told herself before taking a deep breath. “I didn’t want to see you hurt,” she confessed. “I thought if you knew, you’d be hurt just like before.”
“I would be hurt?” Bobby frowned, perplexed. “What do you mean?”
She sighed, a crease wrinkling her smooth forehead. “I know about the complicated history between the three of you,” she said.
He pressed his lips together. While he had never discussed the matter with Jubilee, it did not surprise him that she knew. The romantic triangle between him, Lorna, and Alex was no secret. They had tried to keep things rather private, but every once in a while there had been outbursts and arguments that took place in front of teammates. During the more trying times, when it was clear that things were not going in his favor, he confided in his friends.
Jubilee continued, her voice solemn. “I know about how upset you were to lose Lorna. She was the first real girlfriend you had, the first woman you had real feelings for. That’s not something people get over easily. Even I know that.”
“But you do know that things have changed, right?” He reached over to push a wisp of dark hair from her soft cheek.
“Now I realize I was wrong, but at the time, I believed what I did was right.” She shrugged her shoulders. With shining, sapphire eyes, she whispered, “I’m so sorry, Bobby. I only wanted to keep you safe, make sure you wouldn’t be hurt like that again.”
Bobby was silent for a moment, allowing the sound of the water slapping against the poles that supported the dock to fill the void. He wasn’t sure what to think then. This was certainly a first for him. Outside of a familial or platonic relationship, someone was looking out for him, valued his feelings, and fought to maintain a sense of security. The idea was thrilling and nearly overwhelming.
He reached for her and pulled her lithe fame close to him. His arms tightened around her as he rested his chin against her forehead. “You never have to worry about telling me anything,” he murmured, inhaling the sweet fragrance from her hair and skin. “You have to know that by now.”
She nodded, relishing the closeness. “I do.”
Bobby’s fingers grasped her chin, tilting her face to look up at him. “Then you also know that I’m not going to fall apart,” he said softly, his cool breath caressing her cheek. “Because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Because I have you.”
Then he leaned in and kissed her deeply. He had never felt more loved than he did at that moment. Now, he was safe.
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