saga/title/fandom: Two of Us chapter 37 (X-Men)

author: Alex L

rating/genre: (NC-17) - 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-Seven: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Late Saturday night found Sam and Jubilee attempting to leave Madison Square Garden. Home to the Knicks and Liberty Basketball teams and the Rangers Hockey team, Manhattan's widely known 5,600-seat theater, formerly called the Paramount, played host to Keane. The venue was packed to capacity with fans, waiting to see the British band. With their soaring melodies and choirboy falsettos, the trio attracted comparisons to other bands like Coldplay, Travis and Radiohead.

“Wasn’t that just awesome?” Jubilee breathed, sapphire eyes sparkling with excitement. She wrapped her arms around herself, the rustling from her hooded, yellow, puffer jacket barely registering in her ears.

Sam grinned down at her, but became a bit more guarded as the swell of people around them increased. As a scantily clad blonde, hoping to meet the band backstage, pushed between them, the Southern gentleman called out to Jubilee, “Man, this place is a zoo. Let’s make sure we don’t get separated.”

His companion nodded vigorously in agreement. She glared at a balding, middle-aged man prodding her with his elbow to move forward. “I get ya,” she said, giving the man a shove back. “I can’t move any faster, buddy, so just chill, OK?”

When they neared the main exits, Jubilee was able to walk alongside Sam again. She smiled up at him and tapped his arm playfully. “So… What did you think?” she asked, raising her brows expectantly.

He waited to provide his response once they were outside, and further away from the crowds, who were also discussing the concert. The tall, blond man with pale blue eyes thoughtfully rubbed his stubble-ridden chin as they continued walking. “Ah liked ‘em,” he said. The epic, cinematic sound brimmed with gut-wrenching melodies telling stories of heartbreak and romance. It was easy for him to relate to these themes.

She edged closer to him while they made their way to their hotel nearby. “Well, for a while, I didn’t think you were having so much fun,” she said.

He grimaced at her. “Ya wouldn’t be if twelve-year-old girls were climbin’ on top of ya, tryin’ ta get closer ta the stage,” he told her, rubbing his arm and feigning pain. “They’re rough.”

“Poor Sam.” Jubilee laughed, tossing her long hair over a shoulder. “What a trip. You’ll have to tell everyone all about it.”

They had driven into the city early afternoon from the mansion. Sam took it upon himself to drive since he was more experienced getting around the city. Along the way, he and Jubilee chattered away about anything and everything that was relevant in their lives. Together, they laughed and caught up on the latest gossip around the mansion. He was especially amused when she choked on her water after he told her about his suspicions that Logan and Ororo were some kind of secret item. His shoulder was still sore from Jubilee slapping it repeatedly and telling him to, “Shut up”.

By the time they arrived in Manhattan, there was about two hours to kill before the concert. Sam and Jubilee first stopped off at the Howard Johnson’s to drop off Sam’s black, GMC truck and to check in. Much to Jubilee’s dismay, the concierge was not able to provide her with a two single-bed room as she asked for over the phone. However, the hotel did give her a room with a king-sized bed, which seemed to be satisfactory to her in the end.

Quickly, they dropped off their things before descending into the city for dinner. Over a meal of pepperoni pizza and root beer, Jubilee repeatedly expressed her gratitude to him. Being the humble gentleman that he was, Sam dismissed the accolades and explained to her that he was merely enjoying an evening out with a friend. He also insisted on paying for dinner.

The events of the day, while somewhat of a blur, probably marked the first time he knew some semblance of happiness. In a way, this outing into the city was like a date. People who saw them, such as the waiter at the restaurant or the parking attendant at the garage, together noted what a nice couple they made. Granted, the romantic overtones were absent, at least from Jubilee’s end, but to Sam, it was as close as he was going to get with her.

Throughout the night, he had the opportunity to know her better, to discover what the grown-up Jubilee was truly like. He learned about her eagerness about this band, that she was possibly declaring a major in film studies at college, and despite her initial reservations, she was enjoying her role as a student mentor at the school. Her sense of humor had matured somewhat even though she confessed to the occasional prank from time to time. She made him laugh and feel at ease with himself.

At the same time, she also made him remember his tortured existence. While she did not talk about Bobby Drake every five minutes, she did lament as to how much she missed him. Sam had to force himself to listen with his polite, empathic face, as if he could understand where she was coming from. He pretended that he did not long to hold her, to kiss her, to be the one that made her eyes light up.

Bitterly, he lapsed into silence. His face was drawn together in a preoccupied _expression that strongly contrast against the broad grins he had worn all day. He was fortunate in that Jubilee did not notice right away. She was telling him about the woman next to her at the concert who kept shrieking that she was in love with the lead singer following the conclusion of each song. The woman had actually rushed the stage at the end of the encore to try to touch him, but was thwarted by other fans and security.

Her obliviousness to him did not last very long. As soon as they reached their room, she peered up at him. “You’ve been awfully quiet,” she said, concern palpable in her voice. “What’s up?”

He watched her slide the key card into the lock, opening the door. “Nothin’,” he lied as the two of them sauntered inside.

She gave him a suspicious look. “You’re not terribly convincing,” she said, taking off her jacket and throwing it on one of the chairs in the room.

“Really, it’s nothin’,” he reassured her, slipping off his own leather jacket and shoes. He raked a calloused hand though his straw-colored hair and sighed. “Ya know what it probably is? Ah’m just tired. Maybe a shower will do me some good.”

She kicked off her own boots and sat back on the expansive bed. “Are you sure that’s it?” she asked, genuinely worried about his sudden change in mood.

He unzipped his travel bag and gathered his toiletries bag and some clothes to take with him into the bathroom. “Yeah,” he said, forcing a tight smile. “Ya wanna jump in before me?”

Jubilee retrieved a magazine from the nightstand, shaking her head. “I brushed my teeth at the restaurant. I have this thing about oral hygiene, which is weird given all the junk I eat. So, go right ahead and indulge.” She winked at him.

Once inside the bathroom, Sam stripped out of his green, V-neck sweater, white T-shirt, chinos, and socks. He was trying not to think about the object of his unrequited affections in the hotel bed, only several feet away. Determined, he turned on the shower and stepped inside, the steam building in the room. The Southern gentleman began to methodically soap himself, and then froze when he heard her humming a song one of the bands had played. His cock instantly jumped to attention. He considered turning the shower stream to cold, but let his hand slip down the length of his body instead. Actual release would be more efficient and longer lasting than a blast of cold water, he decided.

Bracing one hand against the shower wall, he slid his other hand to his erection, and began stroking its length. Then he closed his eyes, and tried to think of nothing. However, the image of Jubilee's body rose in his mind from that afternoon in the boathouse. The memory of every curve and graceful sleekness of her coltish limbs had been seared into his brain since then. Moving his hand more quickly down the length of his slippery cock, the scene in his mind changed to him sliding between her legs. In the scene he was creating, he was feeling her wetness envelop him. He imagined her cries of pleasure as he made love to her, her legs wrapping around him, urging him faster.

Sam began thrusting back and forth, his pace excruciatingly slow. In his head, the images became clear, more vivid. Beneath him, Jubilee’s hips raised and bucked, and she cooed softly with pleasure. He could hear her sigh, as she moved slowly with his tempo. His hand stroked more firmly, squeezing as he imagined slipping into her tight, wet sex. He held her hips in his hands, pulling her tight against him, rocking her back and forth.

Under the pounding water of the shower, he thrust his hips against his hand in time with his imagining. At his climax, he began spurting against the shower stall, his release shuddering through him. Leaning his forehead against the shower wall, he allowed the water wash over him, erasing the traces of his arousal.

The tall, blond coal miner’s son quickly hopped out of the shower. He grabbed a white towel from the nearby rack and dried himself off. Then he pulled on the clean boxers he brought in with him as well as the T-shirt he had worn to the concert. His calloused hand reached out and wiped the condensation from the mirror. He leaned over the sink and bore his eyes into the reflection that met his gaze.

While he was satiated, he could not help feeling guilty and ashamed at the same time. With Jubilee close by, he had done something unmentionable. He wasn’t sure if he could face her again. Not after what he had done. It was as if he had sullied her in some way. He shook his head, disgusted with himself and with what he wanted. At the same time, he knew there was no way he could will himself to stop. Many times he tried and during those occasions, he failed miserably. Somehow, the thought of trying to erase her from his consciousness was nearly as painful as dealing with the reality that he could never have her at all.

Realizing there was no way he could hole up in the bathroom for the rest of the night, Sam quickly brushed his teeth. As he did so, he thought about the sleeping arrangements. Even though the issue had not been brought up since their arrival, he assumed that he would sleep on the floor. In a way, he was relieved. Thoughts and considerations concerning her would be further from his mind.

Finally, he opened the door and slipped out of the bathroom. He flicked off the light switch before walking towards the bed. His gaze fell upon her as she sat up in the bed, reading a magazine. She had changed into a red-and-white camisole and a pair of red, flannel pajama pants. Her long, silky hair rippled down her slim shoulders and her face glowed without any trace of make-up.

She was beautiful.

“Feeling better?” she inquired, tossing the magazine on the nightstand. She searched his face for any sign that the tension he was feeling had dissipated. At the moment, she could not tell for sure.

He nodded, nearing the other side of the bed. “Much,” he replied as his stomach dropped low inside of him. It was hard for him to concentrate with her looking the way she did. Averting his gaze, he set to work removing a pillow and searching for a place on the floor to rest.

“What are you doing?” she asked, sapphire eyes wide with curiosity as she turned off the bedside lamp.

His pale eyes peered up at her quizzically. “Ah’m goin’ ta bed,” he said slowly, unsure where she was going with her interrogation.

“Not on the floor you’re not,” she informed him firmly, rising out of bed. “It’s gross down there and not to mention the carpet doesn’t feel like there’s much padding to it.”

He laughed softly, touched by her concern. “Ah’ll be fine. Back in Kentucky, Ah slept on the hardwood floors of my momma’s house. This ain’t nothin’ compared ta that.”

“It doesn’t mean that you should,” Jubilee countered, grabbing the pillow from him and tossing it on the bed. She shook her head again. “Come on now. You’re being totally ridiculous here. There’s a bed in here and it’s big enough for the both of us. I don’t snore or drool in my sleep, so unless you’ve got some kind of aversion to me, I’m going to insist you come to bed with me.”

Sam felt his mouth go dry. In another world, he would have been overjoyed with the proposition. Had the circumstances been different, he might have considered acting on the feelings bottled inside him for so long. The thought of sleeping with her was nearly too much for him to handle. It was what he wanted and did not want rolled into one as the epitome of his own heaven and hell.

As she climbed into the bed, he realized he had to temper his emotions; he had to restrain himself. Unfortunately, the situation was making it increasingly difficult to do so. He racked his brain for a reasonable excuse not to join her. However, any cogent thought present in his mind was dashed away when he felt the intensity of her sapphire stare upon him.

She pulled back the covers and patted the spot next to her invitingly. “You do realize that I’m not going to sleep until you get in here?” she said, laying the guilt trip thick with a pleading, wide-eyed stare.

Saying no to her was never an option for him. He sighed, relenting. There was no graceful way to bow out of this one. “Ya sure?” he asked as he stood by the bed.

“Positive,” she replied smiling up at him. “You came all this way with me as a favor to me—”

“But Ah wanted ta go with ya, too,” he pointed out, feeling a blush creep along his cheeks. Embarrassed, he quickly added, “Ah mean ta the concert.”

The young girl shook her head again, apparently not detecting his flustered presentation. “I couldn’t let you sleep on the floor, Sam. That wouldn’t be right, now would it?”

The Southern gentleman did not answer. He did not want to be reminded of the fact that her offer was merely out of friendship and concern, and nothing more. Instead, he made sure his long, lean frame was far from her body, as the bed would allow. He shifted slightly and turned off the lamp on the adjacent bedside table. The creaking of the bedsprings told him that she was settling down for the night as well.

Rolling over on his side, he turned to see her lovely face in the darkness. The glow of the streetlights filtered in through the cheap blinds, illuminating her delicate features. How he was going to be able to sleep with her next to him would be a miracle indeed.

Finally, he was able to summon enough of a rational mind to speak. “Goodnight, sweetie.”

“Goodnight, Sam,” she yawned in reply, the sheets rustling as she turned over to face the other side of the room. She was eager to get some shuteye after deciding that she would be the one to drive them to Westchester the following morning.

Contrary to what he initially thought, slumber found Sam rather easily. In a matter of minutes, he dozed off. His guilt, his longing, his anxiety were all washed away from his consciousness for the time being. For the first time since this outing began, he was able to relax.

Some time later, he found himself roused from his sleep. The Southern gentleman could hear the traffic outside his window, signaling to him that he was in the city and not in Westchester. His eyes opened to find it still dark, but noticed that light from nearby neon signs seeped through the cheap blinds of the hotel windows.

He turned his head to find Jubilee closer to him. From the alert sparkle in her eyes, she was awake as well. Her face was thoughtful as she propped herself on an elbow to peer down at him. At first, he wanted to scoot away from her, fearful for what he might do or say if he did not. However, the intensity of her stare fixed him in place.

“Why did you really come with me?” she inquired, her face solemn. She looked as if she had been up for a while, mulling over this inquiry carefully. “I don’t want your standard answer that you liked the music because it was evident that you did not. So, I want the honest truth.”

He swallowed hard, feeling like some kind of cornered animal. Nervously, he raked a calloused hand through his straw-colored hair. He was desperately trying to rack his brain for something. Unfortunately, his mind and his mouth were operating independently of one another. Before he could stop himself, he blurted out, “Ah wanted ta be with ya.”

Jubilee’s eyes widened in surprise and her _expression was unreadable. For a moment, Sam thought she was going to tell him to get out of the bed or that she might pull away and retreat from him. He could not and would not blame her. His admission was the last thing she probably wanted to hear. She was with someone else now, someone she cared about, someone who was not Sam Guthrie.

But neither of those things happened.

Instead, she asked quietly, “Why?”

He blinked, despondent that the damage had already been done. Inferences as to what she must have been thinking raced through his mind. Under his breath, he was cursing himself for his carelessness. He wanted to come up with a lie, one that would erase the awkwardness of the moment. As he stared up at her lovely face, he came to the realization that she would not allow him to get away with that.

Finally, he turned away from her. He needed to do so before giving her his reply. “Ah’ve… Ah’ve had feelins for ya,” he admitted in hoarsely whisper.

“You… You do? How long?”

“Ah’m sorry. Forget it. Forget Ah even said anythin’.”

“No, I can’t. I won’t.”


“No, Sam. You said it. It’s not something I can put out of my mind just like that.”

“Jubilee… Just please forget it. Forget it all. Ah didn’t mean ta…”

“You didn’t mean to what?”

Sam exhaled deeply, despising himself with each passing second that passed. How could have done this? Disclosing his feelings while knowing full well that she was in no position to return them. He was basically jeopardizing whatever shred of comfort that could possibly exist between them. The only thing that was left was to finish what he started.

“Ah never wanted ta make ya feel weird or anythin’…” he told her quietly. “It’s just that Ah can’t help thinkin’ about ya or wantin’ ta be with ya. If ya want ta hit me or tell me ta go ta hell, Ah’m ready. Frankly, Ah deserve it.”

The Southern gentleman waited. He waited for her to tell him that nothing could and would ever happen between them. He waited for her to tell him that she was with Bobby. He waited for her to tell him that Sam was simply a friend to her, and nothing more. He waited to be hurt once again.

Suddenly, he felt her slim form nestled close to his, her hand tugging at his shoulder. While the course of action was unexpected, he did not stiffen or attempt to draw back. His body craved her and he turned over so that he was facing her again. Replacing her shocked and stunned look worn moments earlier was one that was warm. Her eyes gazed upon him with what he could only describe as tenderness.

“Why me?” she whispered, clearly baffled as to what warranted his affections towards her. “I don’t understand. Why me?”

It was his turn to be bewildered. He returned with a question of his own. “How can ya not see it?”

She was breathing heavily now, chin trembling. “See what?”

“How ya are,” he replied thickly, his earnestness threatening to overwhelm him. He watched with awe as she listened to him, her attention rapt. She resembled some kind of ethereal being, lying next to him. Simply looking at her was making it increasingly difficult to go on. “How really wonderful and special ya are.”

Jubilee’s brows furrowed together in disbelief. “You see that… You see that in me?” she asked.

“It’s hard not ta,” he told her, staring into those hypnotic, blue depths. “Ah just wish ya did ‘cause that’s what ya are ta me.”

Silence fell over her. She looked as though she needed time to absorb what was transpiring now. There was no way to tell what she was thinking or feeling otherwise. While she had not thrown him out or slapped him, such reactions could have been delayed.

Just then, a small hand gently cupped his stubble-ridden cheek. She leaned towards him, her breath hot against his face. Her delicate features were illuminated by the moonlight streaming through the blinds. He could feel her hair tumbled down, shrouding him in silken tresses that smelled of bubblegum and cinnamon.

After a few moments lying like this, Sam was able to summon the strength to speak. "Jubilee?"

She laid a finger across his lips. "Shhh..." she said softly before covering his mouth with hers.

Her kiss sizzled in his veins, sent tingles across his skin. He relished the taste of her sweetness in his mouth, and her perfume in his nostrils. At that moment, all rational, sensible thought disappeared from his consciousness. The fact that she was involved with Bobby was a distant memory. All that mattered was having her here.

Instinctively, he reached for her, placing his hand on her waist. He pulled her body close to his, not wanting to allow another moment of separation between them. Kissing her back, his mouth was desperate and frantic against hers, revealing his want for her.

Meanwhile, Jubilee’s hands became bolder, sliding around his neck, pressing more firmly against the back of his shoulders, straining into his touch. Taking this as his cue, Sam lifted his hand from her waist, brushed lightly over the tip of one breast. The dark circle of her nipple was visible, even in the dim light. Through her camisole, he could feel the peak growing hard under his gentle touch. Purposely teasing himself with the barrier between his palm and the soft flesh hidden beneath the fabric, he rubbed his thumb softly back and forth, very slowly, listening to her breath catch in her throat.

Sam drew away to the sound of her disappointed sigh. The sigh was immediately replaced by a gasp as his lips found the sensitive spot just below the pulse on her neck. His lips traveled up the pale column of her throat to lap gently at her earlobe. Teasing her, leading her on with gentle inexorability, he nipped gently along her jaw, down her throat, and across her collarbone. He allowed his bliss to lead him on this new experience; one that he yearned to happen but dared not to think about too much.

His hands slipped down over her hips, drawing closer her against the fierce hard heat of his arousal. He took her mouth back, possessive, but not overbearing. All the while, her hands explored him. He could feel her palms searching out the span of his chest, laying her hands flat against his pectorals as she leaned into him.

Sam let his fingers steal down her belly, over her abdomen, and into her panties. The slightest brush of his fingers between her thighs left her moaning. "Yer so beautiful," he murmured against her mouth, feeling her shift against him. Just kissing her and holding her were causing his head to swim. "All Ah’ve wanted is this for so long and now yer here..."

She smiled at him, sapphire eyes shining and delicate features lit up. Her fingers were in his hair, stroking gently. “Sam, I…” she began, her voice becoming more and more inaudible.

He reached for her, but found that she was gone.

It was then that Sam awoke, nearly jumping out of bed. Breathing heavily, he peered around him. The alarm clock next to him indicated that he had been asleep for only two hours. Then he turned his head to the other side, where Jubilee lay. The young girl was curled up, sleeping soundly.

After the initial shock wore off, dismay set in. The dream had been so vivid. He could have sworn he actually kissed her, touched her, heard her voice. There was a moment he thought he finally had what he wanted for so long. When it sunk in that all of it was simply a wish manifestation playing itself out in his mind, he resigned himself to his heartache.

He shifted slightly, turning to face her. Inwardly, he wished that he could turn off his feelings like a faucet. However, he was aware that such thinking was futile in the face of the truth. “Ah love ya,” he whispered, brushing a tendril of black hair from her soft cheek. “God help me, but Ah do.”

Jubilee rolled over on her side, slumber still holding her in its grips. “I love you, too,” she mumbled.

He sat up, holding his head in hands and knowing that her words were not for him.

“Bir tane simit,” Hank said, drawing out two Turkish lira from his wallet.

The wizened vendor nervously averted his stare as he scrambled to retrieve a bread ring with sesame seeds from his cart. He wondered for a moment if his vision was truly failing him under this early afternoon sun. The customer was obviously a tourist in spite of efforts to adopt more traditional dress, but was unlike any foreigner he had ever run into in his years. What he saw of the face was rather feline in nature, covered in blue fur. Yet, there was something distinctively female about the person.

The vendor shook his head, trying not to think about the old legends of strange desert people from the outskirts of the country. He quickly handed the simit to the person and took the money, nodding. Then he wheeled his cart away from the Bosphorous and the strange person.

Hank took a bite of the bread and wandered towards Logan and the others, who were waiting for him in front of signs for boat tours and seafood markets. “That was odd,” he remarked.

Logan chewed on his cigar. “So he’ll have a story to tell his buddies,” he said flatly, peering down at the portable Cerebro link. “Big deal.”

“You sure dat t’ing even works, mon ami?” Gambit asked, raising a skeptical brow. He tossed his cigarette to the ground and stamped it out. “We be runnin’ around dis city because of it and nothin’. Beast is still a femme.”

Warren pressed his lips together, irritated with the Cajun and the fact that he was expressing a universal sentiment. Adding to his annoyed demeanor was the lack of sleep he was getting these days thanks to his concern for the mission and the dreams he continued to have. “Well, if you’ve got any better ideas, I’m sure the rest of us would love to hear them,” he replied crossly.

“The reality is that all we’re dealing with someone who does not want to be found. Cerebro’s all we’ve got left,” Bobby added, adjusting his purple-tinted sunglasses.

“Guys,” Hank placed his slim hands on his friends’ shoulders, as if to restrain them from speaking further. Then he turned to Gambit and sighed loudly. “We’re all frustrated, but my friend here is right. This little device is our last hope of finding this person. Now, let’s just simmer down and figure out what our next plan is.”

Warren, Gambit, and Bobby exchanged guilty looks. If anyone had a reason to lose his temper, it was Hank. Yet, after what he had been through and was continuing to go through, he was calm and unwaveringly hopeful that the situation was going to be resolved. It was truly a testament to the strength of his character.

Meanwhile, Logan was staring at a rundown tugboat. The rust stains were a faded orange-yellow against the gray paint. It appeared dwarfed compared to the luxury liners and industrial ships that flanked it. The owner/captain, a small man with a limp and wild, hazel eyes, stood in front of his prized vessel. In broken English, he promised a spectacular trip across the expansive river at a reasonable price.

Intrigued, Logan began to heads toward the boat, sniffing. “I feel like a boat ride,” he announced.

“What?” Warren demanded, blue eyes widening in disbelief. He followed Logan a few steps and grabbed his arm. “Are you kidding me? We’re supposed to be on a mission here and you want to go traipsing up and down the river in that clunker? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Steely green eyes flecked with gold bore a steady gaze that seemed rather frightening and intense. “If you want your hand back in one piece, you might want to take it off of me,” Logan snapped coldly. When the other man obeyed, he continued walking and motioned for the others to follow him. “Come on. Let’s talk a break.”

Reluctantly, the others walked after him as they exchanged puzzled looks amongst themselves. Logan approached the man, informing him that he and his friends were interested in taking him up on his offer. The man, excited, gestured for them to climb onto his boat. He jumped on first as Logan pulled out his wallet to pay for their travel. Meanwhile, Warren and Bobby trailed behind with the blond Adonis scowling. His run-in with the Canadian loner was not helping his mood.

Bobby made a face, the smell of fresh fish and salt water pungent in the air. “Leave it to Logan to find something like this to do sightseeing on,” he groused, playing with the zipper to his brown pullover that he wore over an orange T-shirt and jeans. “You think he’s finally lost it? This whole thing with Hank pushed him over the edge or something? Maybe he’ll start singing show tunes.” His gray eyes twinkled.

Warren rolled his eyes. He pulled his brown, tweed overcoat closer to his body, shivering against the cool, brisk winds that slapped his face as the boat sailed onward. “Your DNA must cry itself to sleep at night,” he told Bobby.

The boyishly handsome watched a feather drop from the other man’s overcoat as he walked to the other side of the boat to mope. He wondered if his friend’s mood could have been attributed to the fact that he was hiding his wings—something he had not done for years. While Warren insisted on doing so in order to blend in with the people and not draw attention, Bobby knew it was difficult for him to do it given how hard it was for Warren to simply accept his body for what it was.

Bobby shook his head, resigning himself to the prospect of not knowing. With Warren, one was left to speculate. Waiting for him to open up and talk about what was going on inside was useless. The only person who was willing to do that because of previous successes was gone forever.

He stared down at the rippling water. A cluster of jellyfish gathered close to the boat, their transparent forms making them appear ghostlike in the Bosphorous. It was rather startling to see them now. For some reason, he had associated their presence with summers spent on the beach with his family.

As the boat began to leave the built-up areas of Istanbul, the Bosphorous Bridge was seen across the horizon, a symbol of the city seen on souvenirs and brochures these days. It was the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world, the longest in Europe, and the only one to link two continents. The bridge had been built in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the republic, and represented an emblem of the great progress made by the Turkish people. On the other side of the bridge, denoted the European side, stood the Ortaköy Camii, a mosque with Corinthian columns. Just on the opposite side, known as the Asian side of Turkey, was Beylerbeyi Place, a marble pile of excess that once played host to Napoleon III’s wife and several exiled sultans.

In spite of the novel sites that feasted his eyes, Bobby was lost in his thoughts. The normally good-humored persona was replaced with one that was more introspective. Rather than join the rest of the team, he decided to stand alone on the deck. He needed time to think. His head echoed with words that continued to haunt him for several days.

“Love is not always so happy. There will be troubles ahead. It will be up to you to be strong when things look bad. Even when all hope seems lost.”

At first, he shrugged off the old woman’s warning. After all, what did she know about him and Jubilee? She was simply peddling her wares and trying to make small talk with him so that he would buy something. Perhaps she said similar things to other tourists. There was no way she could be directing something at him. She did not know him or Jubilee. He was just another stranger, another tourist visiting her city. Surely, he could not have been that easy to read.

Nevertheless, there was a part of him that instinctively felt that she was. With unnerving accuracy, the old woman made observations that were so private to him. She talked about his relationship with Jubilee as if he had laid it all open for all to see and witness. Her ability to perceive this was what shook him to the core, instilling anxiety. In other words, because she had this knowledge, the old woman possibly saw events that compelled her to provide him with her warning.

“Love is not always so happy. There will be troubles ahead. It will be up to you to be strong when things look bad. Even when all hope seems lost.”

Bobby stared down at his clasped hands glumly and then at the jellyfish swimming past the boat. It had been so long since he had felt so unsure of himself. The doubts that initially plagued him suddenly resurfaced. They ate away at him, forcing him to ruminate. Was he good for Jubilee? Had he learned from previous mistakes? Was he now the kind of man that could sustain a meaningful relationship?

All these months, he believed the answers to such questions were yes. He could not recall a time when he had been happier with anyone. For once, he was comfortable to be in his own skin, not worrying about keeping one step ahead to impress. What he finally found with Jubilee was something he never encountered with his other relationships. It was the sense of being known and accepted by someone else, who returned his feelings unconditionally.

Since their fight before the holidays last year, there were no major blowouts, no reason for him to question himself. As far as he knew, Jubilee was very happy. She made it clear to him every time they spoke. Implicit in her words and her voice was the sentiment that Bobby made her life better. With a simple squeeze of her hand or a knowing look from her brilliant, sapphire gaze, she conveyed her belief that he was the man she wanted to be with. She allowed him to get closer to her than anyone else around the mansion, sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences that demonstrated her trust and faith in him. For all of that, he was thrilled.

Still, Bobby wondered. He racked his brain, searching for some piece of evidence that he could improve upon. Whether the old woman was foretelling things to come or not, there was no way he was about to allow his piece of happiness to slip through his fingertips. There was no way he was going to ever let things get to the point of his relationship being in danger. He was determined to do everything in his power not to lose Jubilee.

His musings were shattered when he heard some voices nearby, talking loudly. Curious, Bobby stealthily made his way towards them. He was able to identify two of the voices as belonging to Logan and Warren, while the third was lighter in tone and somewhat accented. Peering around the other side of the deck, he saw that the other party was the owner/captain of the tugboat.

Warren was standing between Logan and the captain. He looked as if he were trying to prevent some kind of altercation between the two men. “You can’t just attack someone like that.”

“I could smell you from a mile away,” Logan told the other man tersely, ignoring Warren altogether. The wind was rumpling his hair, but did nothing to the two trademark points on either side of his head. “Scum like you have a stink that doesn’t quit.”

The captain tried to look guileless as he spoke. “I do not know what you are talking about, my friend,” he said, placing his palms up in a sign of surrendering. “Perhaps we can talk things out over some tea. Come, I make some for you.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you, bub,” Logan retorted, stony face barely hiding the contempt that brimmed underneath his unshakable exterior. “This is how things are going down: you’re coming with us back to the city and we’re going to let your government decide what to do with you.”

The captain nodded. His hazel eyes flashed with rage, but his voice was overly placating as he said, “Whatever you say, my friend.” He began to edge closer to Warren, whose back was turned to him as he stared at Logan with continued puzzlement.

“Warren, look out!” Bobby cried as the man stretched out a menacing hand to touch his teammate. Quickly, he extended his own hand, summoning a stream of bitterly cold air. Within a matter of seconds, the attacker was trapped in a block of solid, leaving his face and one of his hands free.

“Good job, Drake,” Logan said, chewing on his cigar and staring the mutant in the eye with dead calm. “Worthington, go make steer the boat. Make sure we don’t crash into anything.”

Warren exhaled a shaky breath, realizing that he was saved from being another victim. Still in shock, he nodded and darted to the other end of the deck. An experienced sailor, he spent many weekends taking his yacht out and racing competitively at the country club where he belonged. He only hoped that the mechanisms used to guide the tugboat were not all that different.

“Let me go!” the man screeched, hazel eyes panicked with fear as the others circled him. He waved his hand in a feeble attempt to free his arm from the ice that encased it. Teeth chattering, he looked pleadingly at Hank, who was now glowering near him. “I’m s-sorry. I was having some fun. Can’t you understand? Just a bit of fun. I didn’t mean any harm. I-I’ll change you back. If I do that, will you let me go?”

Hank threw off his headscarf, blue tresses flowing in the wind. “A bit of fun?” he demanded, lithe shoulders trembling with righteous indignation as he confronted his assailant. Days of suffering in a body that was not his own was not amusing to say the least. “Your definition and mine differ greatly. I agree with you that you will give me my body back, but you will also atone for what you did to the rest of the people you attacked.”

“What?” the mutant shouted, lower lip quivering. He scowled. “I can’t do that! That’s going to take forever!”

Gambit smirked at him, taking out a deck of cards from his brown, leather duster. “Gambit don t’ink you’re in any position to argue, homme,” he observed, shuffling the cards loudly.

The mutant’s nostrils flared. “And what makes you say that, homme?” he mocked, ready to spit in the Cajun thief’s face.

“Because,” Logan said, clapping Bobby on the shoulder. “One word from you saying that you’re not going to do squat for us, and my pal here will put the rest of you on ice.” He chewed on his cigar again, mulling over his words. “Permanently.”

Bobby nodded, looking rather cheeky. “It’s true. I can.”

The mutant stared at the two men, realizing with dread that both were quite serious. He narrowed his eyes after some careful consideration. Taking the time to change people back did not promise as much suffering as being encased in ice forever. Exhaling loudly, he said in a resigned tone, “Fine. You win.”

“Glad you’re playing by the rules now,” Logan commented. He turned to Gambit and drawled, “Contact the Turkish government and let him know that we’ve got their mutant. I’ll call Cyclops to brief him on what’s going on.”

Hank eyed the mutant with veiled contempt before focusing his gaze on Logan. “When you talk to Scott, can you let him know that we couldn’t have caught him without Bobby? If not for our friend’s quick thinking, who knows what would have happened?”

The gruff loner glanced over at Bobby. The young man was grinning sheepishly at Hank, but was clearly proud of his contribution. While Logan was by no means ready to get chummy with Drake, there was no way he was going to deny him his props. He grunted and gave him a brief nod. “Will do,” he said flatly, taking out his communicator.

Usually, Bobby would have been taken aback by this slight warming on Logan’s part. He might have made a joke about the other man finally liking him. Or, he would have asked Hank to repeat his praise a little louder for Warren to hear. Instead, all he could think about was Jubilee and how he was coming home to her.

Author’s Note: Hank asks for one bread ring with sesame seeds in Turkish

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