Chapter 10: Sweet Child O' Mine
Minx’s eyes fluttered open, her vision taking only a moment to automatically compensate for the darkness of the room she was in. She felt totally disoriented. The girl lay on top of her bed fully clothed, including her shoes, with only a small lamp on the dresser across the room for lighting. Her body felt drained, as if she’d been running in a marathon and had pushed herself far, far beyond her physical limits. Every muscle tremored and every nerve twinged. She caught movement in her peripheral vision and panned slowly over to her right, wincing at the pain even that small motion caused. Hank McCoy’s big blue face came into view, his furry visage expressing his concern. Minx felt him as he sat down on the edge of her bed, the springs groaning in protest to his muscled bulk.
“Ah,” he grinned, his oversize canines showing, “she lives!”
Minx swallowed, trying to bring some saliva into her cottony mouth without much success. It felt like the world’s cruelest hangover had visited itself upon her body in a fit of unbridled vengeance. Her head pounded uncontrollably and her stomach remained a queasy constant. She opened her mouth to ask for water, but what came out was a froggy croak. It took her a moment to get her tongue unlocked and moving correctly. She concentrated and tried again.
“Wah-der,” she finally managed to rasp.
Hank reached over to the nightstand and filled a glass from the decanter he’d brought in earlier. He gently helped her to a sitting position and offered her the drink. Minx grabbed the glass from his hands and thirstily began to gulp its contents, not listening to or caring about Hank’s warnings to slow down until he wrested the cup away from her. She scowled darkly at him and he chuckled.
“I see we are back to our old belligerent self,” he commented as he set the empty glass back on the nightstand.
“What happened?” Minx croaked out. “I feel like my head is going to explode. All I remember is being outside, trying to leave and then someone grabbed me from behind.”
Hank checked her pulse, her small wrist almost completely swallowed by his furry blue hand.
“Some of us came to the rather tardy conclusion that you were not in any condition to abandon the premises sans chaperone, so we, ahem, attempted to dissuade you. Unfortunately, you misinterpreted our benevolent intentions as hostile.”
“What?” Minx blinked at the man, obviously confused.
“Sorry,” Hank apologized. He offered her a smile as he moved his paw against her forehead. “I tend to overindulge my polysyllabic vocabulary at times.”
“Yeah, you’re doing it again right now,” she snapped at him.
“You tried to leave and we tried to stop you.” He quickly interjected.
She batted his hand away from her head in annoyance and shot Hank a searing look.
“I pretty much remember that part, Doc. It’s the part where someone took a sledgehammer to my head and I ended up here with my brains leaking out my ears that I don’t recall.”
A rapping on the door interrupted their discussion. Jubilation Lee popped her dark-haired head into the room and smiled when she saw her best friend awake and alive.
“Yay! The ‘feminine fury’ of Mutie High rocks on!” the girl chirped joyously and pushed into the room followed by Alex Summers and a rather cautious Bobby Drake. “I knew you were too ornery to bite it!”
“Whaddaya mean? What? Am I supposed to be dead or something?” Minx asked the group, her voice conveying her growing irritation, “Was I shot or something?”
She looked down at her body for signs of entry wounds but found none.
“Holy cripes!” Jubilee’s eyes grew round as she bounced over and plopped down onto the end of the bed causing Minx to groan in pain. “You don’t remember Rogue touching you? Wow! She like totally sucked the life out of you! I’ll tell ya-“
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Minx sat fully upright, forgetting the pain in her throbbing temples. “What d’you mean Rogue touched me?”
She looked around at Bobby and Alex for confirmation.
“She touched me? With her bare hands?!!”
Hank slid off the bed to make more room for the two girls now chattering away about the details of the afternoon.
“I will momentarily leave you in the hands of your able classmates, my dear child.” He addressed Minx as she continued to digest Jubilee’s fantastical account of the snowball fight and Rogue’s attack.
“Guys,” Hank looked over to where Bobby and Alex stood near the door, “don’t stay too long, capisce? My patient needs her rest.”
With that, Hank left to see about dinner for the team.
“You are so DA BOMB!” Jubilee waved her hands, her eyes mirroring her excitement, “Like, the whole school’s talking about it, no lie. I mean, you almost fried the entire X-team! Gotta give my girl props, ya know.”
Jubilee shot Minx a disappointed look.
“And I missed the whole dramatical thing – some pal you are. Sheesh, why didn’t ya tell me you were planning on going uber commando? Like, I’m your absolute bestest friend and I totally missed out on ‘the great snowball war’!”
“The great snowball war?” Minx asked as she settled back onto the pillows, her headache slowly subsiding.
“Uh, yeah,” Bobby timidly edged nearer the bed, “that’s what all the kids are calling it.”
“You were like Wolvie in one of his berserker rages!” Jubilee added excitedly.
Bobby laughed weakly, rubbing his ribcage, “Yup. That was some war all right.”
Minx fiddled with her sweater in embarrassment. “Oh, jeez. Wow. I guess I tried to kill you, Bobby,” she murmured, eyes still downcast, “Sorry about that. Um, nothing personal, you know?”
She looked up hopefully at the boy and was rewarded with a huge grin.
“Hey, no hard feelings,” he told the girl. “But I think John’s going to take a little more convincing. He wouldn’t even come up here with us.”
“Fireball’s such a wuss!” Jubilee said as she rolled her eyes, “I’m surprised he didn’t wet his pants out there.”
“I should have been there,” Jubilee continued as she drew her legs up and leaned back on the bed. “Figures me and Alex were in the language lab practicing our Es-pan-ole for class when you decided to bug out.”
“Donde esta la cucina,” Alex humorously intoned. He shot Minx an apologetic smile. “Man, I miss all the good stuff. If it’s not Scott keeping me from having any fun, it’s stupid homework.”
Minx motioned the boys over closer to the bed. Bobby gladly came over and took a seat on the edge next to Jubilee while Alex stood by the side of the bed. Minx gazed up at each one of her friends noting the concern in their faces.
“Thanks you guys,” she quietly said, “It’s nice to know I’m forgiven.” She paused. “Well, at least forgiven by my friends. I’m not so sure about the adult parental-types…” Minx looked over at Jubilee. “Speaking of which, um, where are they?”
“Downstairs in the professor’s study having a major pow-wow.” Jubilee replied.
Minx sighed. “I have a feeling it’s nothing good about me. I wish I knew what they were saying.”
Bobby nudged Minx’s knee in reassurance. “Don’t worry about it, Minx. We’ve all had our blowouts around here.” He grinned at her and chuckled. “Shoot, you should talk to ‘Ro or Hank some time about some of the ‘ice-capades’ I’ve had.”
“Yeah,” Alex offered, “And you know the major knock-downs me and my brother have gotten into.”
Minx nodded, appreciating their efforts.
“I still would give anything to know what they were talking about right now,” she countered.
Jubilee studied her friend Bobby as the boy continued to grin idiotically at Minx who kept stealing quick peeks up at him. A light went off in her head. She peered up at Alex a moment watching him watching the other two students on the bed. Alex did not appear to be too happy. His stony glances at Bobby pretty much told it all.
“Like brother, like brother,” Jubilee mumbled to no one in particular before speaking up to the trio. “Hey, I’ve got a sen-saysh idea.” she announced. “How about I go downstairs and get the skippy on the sitch for ya?”
“I don’t think the Professor is going to welcome our butting in right now, Jubilee.” Alex stated.
Jubilee gave him an exasperated look. “I’m not going to like barge into the room, Alex,” she retorted. “I meant I could sneak down and you know, like do the scope at the keyhole thing.”
The girl hopped off the bed and grabbed Alex by an arm dragging him toward the door.
“C’mon, plasma-boy. Let’s go see what the grown ups are doing.”
“Hey! Why do I have to go?” Alex protested as Jubilee pulled open the door and tried to push the boy through. “I want to stay here with – “
Bobby cut him off. “Oh, that’s all right, Alex. I’ll stay with Minx until Dr. McCoy comes back – no problem.”
Alex remained unconvinced. He looked from Minx to Bobby and frowned.
“But, I should be –“
“With me, fire fingers.” Jubilee finished his sentence. “I need someone to keep a look out for me while I listen in on the conversation downstairs. C’mon already.”
She tugged at Alex’s shirt and he reluctantly followed her out the door. He gave one last worried look over his shoulder and then disappeared down the hall with Jubilee. Minx smiled shyly up at Bobby.
“Thanks for staying to keep me company...And for not being mad at me trying to kill you and all.”
“Forget about it.” He said, “You were pretty awesome out there.”
She blushed. “Thanks.”
“I’d have you as my partner on a mission any time.” Bobby remarked and the two laughed. He grew serious then. “I’m glad you’re okay, Minx. I was really worried when you fell after Rogue and you…you know.”
Minx met his deep brown eyes with her own hazel ones. Their gaze held a moment before Bobby impulsively leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Startled, but pleased, Minx blushed. The boy smiled but appeared unsure.
“I’m sorry, I-“
“No, no. Um, that was nice actually.”
“Yeah,” she smiled and touched his sleeve, “I kinda liked it.”
He pulled away and looked down at the bed.
“I still shouldn’t have done that,” he said, “seeing how you and Alex are going to the dance together and all.”
“Oh,” Minx replied, a little flustered, “Well, um, yeah. I mean, he did ask me to the dance first.”
“Yeah.” Bobby muttered.
He mentally kicked himself for missing that call. He owed Alex Summers for that one.
“But, you know,” Minx said, being uncharacteristically shy, “I’d rather be going with you.”
Bobby looked up and grinned. “Yeah?”
“Well, if at any point during the night, you get bored with his low-bandwith, just give me a nod and I’ll come rescue you.”
She laughed again, delighted with this interesting turn of events. Her earlier travails were forgotten as the two young mutants shared their thoughts lounging comfortably on her bed.
Jean fought off another yawn as she carefully dipped the syringe into the test tube and extracted some of the vial’s contents. Her stomach growled. She had skipped dinner hours ago to come down to the bio-lab and begin the tests for Logan and the professor. She glanced over at the display on the console and tiredly noted that it was almost one-thirty and way past her normal bedtime. But, she refused to go to sleep until she had the answer - until she could know without a doubt whether or not Logan was actually Minx’s biological father.
She frowned slightly as she prepared some slides for the extract. Even for a mutant, Jean Gray’s life had been a fairly happy and normal one. She had grown up in a loving family and had been eager to come here to the school when Charles Xavier had approached her parents so many years ago. It was difficult for her to comprehend the current turn of events in a way that wasn’t shocking or disturbing to her sense of right and wrong. It had taken her and Scott several years to even work up the nerve to express their feelings for one another much less begin sharing a room together. She could only imagine what it would have been like if she and Scott had just jumped into bed at first sight without a thought or concern for the possible consequences. Even now, practically all but married, they were very careful about being safe.
Jean placed a tiny drop of the extract onto the slides and then placed a sterile cover on top of each. She walked the slides over to the dual electron microscope and fitted two of them into the small clips on the microscope’s platform.
She sighed, somewhat disillusioned by the task. What kind of life would Minx have with a loner like Logan for a parent? The brooding, temperamental man had his tender moments Jean acquiesced as she thought back to Logan’s “adoption” of Jubilee and Kitty. But, even for them, he was not always around. Logan tended to come and go at his leisure, sometimes gone for weeks or longer at a time. True he always returned to what he now considered his home, but that didn’t make it any easier for the girls. How much harder would it be for a “real” daughter?
As she adjusted the knobs on the microscope to bring the slides into focus, Jean felt a sudden twinge of sadness for Logan as well. He hadn’t asked for this to happen, and, in all likelihood, hadn’t ever expected to be a father. She smiled slightly. That was perhaps one area that she and Logan differed greatly. Jean did want children of her own, and she knew that Scott felt the same way. She pushed these thoughts from her mind and focused on her work instead. No sense wondering until the answer itself was clear. Jean flicked on a monitor studying the genetic material on the slides. She fiddled with some dials bringing the images of the slides side by side for better comparison. Reaching over, Jean typed some data into the computer and watched as numbers scrolled at a dizzying pace across the screen. The computer beeped then flashed its message.
[Professor] Jean telepathically reached out to her mentor. [The tests are done.]
Charles Xavier’s voice popped into the woman’s head as she studied the results.
[Thank you, Jean. I’m on my way.]
As she waited for the professor, Jean played around with the other few slides she had made up. She pulled off the two previous slides from the microscope and placed one containing Minx’s genetic make up on the platform. It was just idle curiosity now, but Jean wondered how much of her father’s mutant DNA the girl had inherited.
Punching more data into the computer, Jean got up and stretched, easing the sore muscles in her back. She rubbed her tailbone and grimaced. It was still sore from landing on it earlier during Minx’s ice ball attack. Five minutes later, the computer’s beeping brought her attention back to the present and she bent over the counter to study the readout now on the screen. She leaned closer and frowned, her deep green eyes reading and re-reading the data. It didn’t make sense. Among her normal gene structure, Minx appeared to be carrying something else other than the mutant anomaly.
Professor Xavier wheeled into the bio-lab interrupting Jean’s thoughts. She turned around and greeted the professor as he came to a stop next to her. The two studied the screen print of the DNA test for a moment. Xavier rubbed his forehead and sighed.
“Well, that settles that, doesn’t it?” he softly commented as he handed the printout back to Jean. “It’s late. I think we can wait to tell him until morning. Why don’t you go up and get some sleep, Jean.”
“I’m not sure how well anyone’s going to sleep tonight,” Jean stated as she set the read out on the counter and yawned. “But I know I could sure use a good night’s rest after today.”
She went to turn off the computer and hesitated as she glanced at the data currently on the screen. She called over her shoulder to Xavier’s retreating form.
He stopped and swiveled around.
“I don’t know if it’s relevant, but I found something strange in Minx’s genetic structure. I’m not sure what to make of it actually.”
She gave the older man a puzzled look.
“It’s a sub-string of sorts that is attached to the last chromosome of each repetition.”
“What do you mean?” the professor questioned.
“Well, I know this is going to sound wild, but it looks like there’s an extra something added on at a submicroscopic level into her genetic material. Something other than the normal mutant gene addition, I mean.”
She indicated the computer screen.
“I haven’t had a chance to really examine this, but-“
The professor cut her off with a raised hand. “Whatever it is, Jean, I’m sure it will wait until morning. Right now, we both need some sleep.”
She smiled and nodded. He motioned for her to join him as he wheeled out of the Bio-lab.
“Have Henry give you a hand with it tomorrow.” he suggested to her as they headed for the elevator. “He’s an expert in genetics and has done quite a bit of research on molecular theory.”
“Good idea,” Jean said and yawned again.
She was definitely ready to crawl into bed beside Scott and get some much needed rest.
“I’ll mention it to Hank after breakfast.”
Scott Summers yawned and rolled over to offer a morning greeting to his partner, but Jean’s side of the bed proved to be vacant. The soft cotton sheets were clearly rumpled from her form, but cool to the touch. Jean had been up for awhile. The man frowned glancing at the clock on the nightstand. The young woman he had been living with for the past several years had come to bed around two in the morning clearly exhausted, and, now, she was gone again with no more than a few hours sleep. Something was up.
Scott lay back and listened for a moment, hopeful to hear movement in the adjoining bathroom. When none came, he sat up, stretched, and made his way over to the open door of the bath to check for himself. Empty.
“So much for a good morning smooch,” the visored-man muttered to his reflection in the mirror over the sink.
Resigned to the fact that his better half was already out and about, Scott padded over to the shower stall, leaned in and turned the water on full blast. The noise of the shower drowned out another yawn as Scott stepped out of his pajama bottoms and into the steamy torrent of water.
Downstairs, Hank McCoy was humming a catchy show tune as he expertly flipped an omelet in a pan he held over the large industrial range in the mansion’s kitchen. One eye on the pan, the large mutant groped for the spatula on the maple-wood butcher’s block behind him. The hash browns were in dire need of turning. The spatula stubbornly refused to be located until Hank swept his giant furred hand over the wooden counter managing to knock the utensil off the counter and onto the floor.
“Whoops,” he murmured and carefully looked about to see if anyone was watching.
There appeared to be no one else in the kitchen at the moment, so without further ado, Hank McCoy deftly grabbed up the spatula from the floor using one of his large bare feet and flipped the utensil up into the air. He neatly caught it in his free hand and was about to turn the hash browns with the item when a horrified gasp came from behind him. Hank quickly glanced over his shoulder and spied young Jubilation standing in the doorway to the kitchen, one fuzzy-slippered toe ominously tapping against the tiled floor.
“You weren’t gonna do what I think you were gonna do, were you?” she asked, her eyes narrowed accusingly at Hank.
“I don’t know. What do you think I was going to do?” Hank asked innocently as he maneuvered the spatula behind his back.
Jubilee shot him a disparaging look. “You know what I know you were gonna do.”
Hank grinned devilishly as he slid the finished omelet on the stove into a nearby chafing dish.
“If I know what you knew that I was going to do, then why bother asking?”
Jubilee’s triumphant smile was quickly replaced by a look of utter confusion. She came stalking into the kitchen toward the hulking mutant.
“Quit trying to out-talk me, ya big blue furball,” she said and pointed at the hand he still held behind his back. “I saw that spatula hit the floor, Hank McCoy…and I saw watcha used to pick it up with too!”
Hank offered her a sheepish smile and turned to pitch the offensive utensil into the sink.
“Curses, foiled again by my manual dexterity,” he chuckled. “How about helping out a housemate and fetching another one from the drawer over there?”
He indicated a bank of drawers down from the stove. Jubilee happily complied with his request. She offered up the new spatula all but daring him to take it with his foot. Hank accepted the item with hand instead and began to flip the sizzling hash browns so that they could finish cooking on their other side.
Jubilee headed for the dining room door, a look of teenage disgust on her face. “Trust me on this, folks,” she announced to the group already seated around the dining table, “I so would not eat the hash browns today.” Hank just chuckled and shook his head as he began carting dishes of food out to the hungry mutants.
Scott sniffed the wonderful aromas wafting from the dining room with appreciation as he wandered in and took a seat at one end of the long table, his auburn hair still damp from his recent shower. Having absolutely no skill whatsoever in making anything more elaborate than cereal and toast in the kitchen, he was very thankful for those in the mansion that could indeed cook. As he filled a glass with juice, Scott absently noted that several of the places at the table were vacant. He set down the carafe and realized with growing dismay that the missing diners were Minx, Logan, Jean and Professor X. He new Minx was probably still recuperating in her room, and Logan he didn’t particularly care about one way or the other.
“Anybody seen Jean or the professor this morning?” Scott casually put out to the group.
“T’ink de professor’s in his study, mon ami” Remy managed around a mouthful of omelet.
Kitty nodded. “Yeah, and I’m pretty sure Jeannie and Logan are with him.”
That didn’t sit well with their team leader. Scott abruptly pushed his plate away, his appetite gone sour. Anything having to do with Logan and Jean together was not good, especially after the scene in the foyer yesterday. As if to ease his worries, Jean and Professor Xavier entered the dining room from the far hallway entrance. Upon seeing them enter without Logan, Scott relaxed somewhat.
“Good morning, everyone,” Charles Xavier greeted his former students rather brusquely as he wheeled up to the end of the table.
Jean followed her mentor, standing by the right side of his chair. Xavier gazed up at Jean and gave her a quick nod. He eyed the younger members at the table and smiled grimly.
“Jubilee, will you and Bobby please excuse yourselves? I need to discuss some private matters with the others, thank you.”
Jubilee’s mouth dropped open in astonishment while Bobby just shrugged and began to get up from his seat. The others looked at one another in puzzlement. This was not at all like the professor. Pouting, Jubilee grudgingly stood up and stomped after Bobby into the kitchen, her grumbling remarks going unheard by the professor. Xavier waited a moment until the two were out of sight and then flicked his eyes to Jean who waved a hand at the doorways to the room. The doors immediately shut enclosing the group within. Everyone fell silent.
“Okay,” Rogue cautiously drawled, “What gives?”
“I concur, Charles” Hank spoke up as he set his knife and fork onto his plate. “This is rather clandestine even for our entourage.”
“Professor?” Storm gently probed.
Xavier drew himself up in his chair. “What I am about to say is not to leave this room.”
He slowly ran his eyes about the faces now attentively watching him.
“Last night, as you all well know, we discovered a link between Logan’s and Minx’s past. With Logan’s permission and Jean’s assistance, I was able to determine how much of a link there actually is.”
Looks were exchanged about the room again before all eyes focused back on the professor.
“It would seem that for all intents and purposes, Logan is Nicole’s biological father.”
Gasps of wonder and disbelief shot through the room. Jean’s eyes briefly met Scott’s then just as quickly looked away.
“Charles,” Hank was the first to speak up, “How sure are you about this?”
“Positive,” Jean replied for him, “I ran the DNA tests myself.”
“Does Logan know?” Rogue’s worry for the gruff loner was apparent without Xavier having to read the young woman’s mind.
“Yes, Rogue,” the professor answered, “He was informed this morning. But, Nicole has not been told yet, and that is why I need for you to keep this information confidential.”
Reading the burgeoning question on everyone’s minds, Xavier felt compelled to explain.
“Logan requested that he be allowed to tell Minx himself. I agreed that that would be the best option.”
Scott snorted at this, but kept his opinion unspoken upon catching Jean’s warning glare.
“So, where be de new papa?” Remy casually asked as he spread jam on a triangle of toast.
Drama of this caliber was nothing new to the former member of the Thieves Guild.
“Logan wasn’t comfortable facing everyone just yet,” Jean offered as she moved to take a seat at the table. “He has a lot to work through.”
“I’ll say,” Ororo commented under her breath, her eyes still registering the shocking news. “I can only imagine how poor Minx is going to take all this.”
Remy smirked reaching up to touch the burn mark on his cheek. “Good t’ing ole Logan heal fast,” he observed with humor.
The Canuck currently on everyone’s minds had spent the better part of the morning avoiding all sentient life within the spacious confines of the school. He was in no mood for well-wishing, off-color jokes or, even worse, sympathetic looks from any of his team members. How the hell had this happened to him, he angrily wondered? There’d been women in his life, sure, but very few of them he’d ever had a passing interest in or spent more than a night with. Only Silver Fox and Mariko had ever embedded themselves permanently into his heart and soul. And look what had happened to both of them, he thought bitterly – gone, murdered – his fault. It just wasn’t that easy with his kind of life. And, Logan admitted to himself, he wasn’t exactly the easiest person to get along with – not that women weren’t attracted to that very thing - that feral, unpredictable nature of his. That’s what had brought Claire to him that night fifteen years ago. And, unbelievable as it seemed, that one night was all it had taken to rearrange his life and his priorities in a matter of minutes.
Logan now restlessly paced up and down the mahogany-paneled hallway of the first floor, his stomach churning as he tried to think of what to say to the girl. The girl. His daughter. He let out a deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose in consternation. He stopped at the open doors to the rec room, his heart filled with anger, hope, regret and something he hadn’t felt in a long time - fear.
Inside, Minx was sitting at a table near the back of the sunlit room playing a card game with Jubilee, Bobby, Kitty, John and Alex. He watched them a few moments, and smiled briefly at the three girls as they laughed and flirted shamelessly with the boys. His girls, he noted. He had always had a close relationship with both Kitty and Jubilee ever since they’d come to the school, acting as their mentor, teacher and sometimes father figure. Jubilee had even saved his life once. What was that silly name she always used for them? ‘Wolvie’s Angels’, he remembered and shook his head and sighed. He had chosen to let the two girls into his life, but this time, fate had made the choice for him.
Logan ambled into the room, trying to look casual even while he felt the sweat rising on his forehead. This had to be one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do, and that was saying a lot considering his shady past as an assassin and black ops agent. The kids looked up from their game as the tough Canuck came up and grumbled a greeting.
“You guys mind clearing out?” he addressed the group gruffly, “I need to talk to Sunshine here.”
“I’ve got nothing to say to you.” came the icy cold reply from Minx.
She continued to shuffle the cards in her hand. Kitty and the others took Logan’s hint though and quietly rose from the table and headed for the door to the rec room. Minx ignored this and began dealing the cards out as though her friends were still sitting there. Logan waited until Bobby had shut the double doors to the room before hooking a leg around one of the chairs and sitting down. He absently grabbed up the cards in front of him on the table and studied them. Minx remained silent.
“Look,” he started, “For whatever it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
Minx stopped dealing the cards and looked up at the man, her eyes hard and cold.
“So, it’s all true,” she spit out and threw the cards on the table in disgust.
They fanned out across the polished wood, some of them sliding off the table and fluttering to the floor. Logan rubbed his unshaven jaw and waited.
“You slept with my mom behind my dad’s back,” Minx continued, anger creeping into her tone. “You took advantage of my mom…had a little fun…and then you just took off like some sleazy bastard.”
“That’s not how it happened, Minx.” Logan shot back. He was feeling rather cornered at the moment. “Your mom and I…we…look, nobody took advantage of anyone.” he explained, “What we did was totally consensual, kid. And, just for the record, she’s the one that left me.”
Minx snorted and began to flick cards off the table with her nail. Logan reached out and stopped her hand. She jerked away in irritation and glowered at him across the table.
“Minx, there’s more.”
He ran his hands through his unruly hair in agitation, not sure how best to explain. What the hell, he thought. He’d never been one for finesse. Logan forged ahead before he lost his nerve. “It looks like your mom became pregnant from that night, and, well, it turns out I’m your father.”
“Yeah, right.” Nicole shot acidly, “Like I’d believe you anymore.”
Logan shook his head and took on a more serious demeanor.
“No, kid. It’s true. Jean ran some tests and the Professor confirmed it.”
Minx stared at him, incredulous. “What tests? What’re you talking about?”
“DNA tests to determine paternity-“
“I don’t believe this is happening.” She interrupted him, “Why wasn’t I told?”
“I’m telling you now,” Logan said a little too sharply. It was becoming difficult to keep his temper in check with her giving him such nasty looks. “Look, Minx, if I could go back and change it all, I swear to God I would. But I can’t.”
He looked down at the tabletop then back up into her eyes. “You’re just gonna have to face up to the fact that you and me are related.”
Logan watched with growing unease as the girl across from him remained completely motionless and silent. A statue could have taken lessons from her, he noted. He swallowed, uncertain of what to do, and leaned forward in his chair.
“Nicole?” he tentatively questioned, using her real name for the first time, “Nikki?”
“Don’t.” Minx blinked and a tear coursed down one cheek as her soft mouth turned up into a hateful sneer. “Don’t you call me that.”
She pushed herself away from the table as if his very nearness repulsed her.
“You don’t have the right to call me that,” the girl continued, stiffening defensively. “Where were you? Huh? If you’re my father, then where the hell were you when I was cold and lost and hungry? Where were you when I wanted to die from the loneliness? Why didn’t you come for me when I had to run and hide all those years from all the people who called me a freak – a dirty mutant? Huh?”
Logan closed his eyes, his tortured heart taking in all the pain and rage she was now expressing. He knew only too well from his own experience what it was like to live on the run, being constantly aware of your ‘differentness’, always having to be on guard.
“Kid, I didn’t know,” he whispered, not able to face her, “Claire…your mother… never told me about you. She never contacted me after that night.” Logan’s throat tightened as he watched the teen silently crying now. “But I want you to know… I’m here for you now.”
Minx looked up at him, her face a mask of hatred. He heard a cracking sound and his gaze fell to the playing card in her hand. It had snapped in two, frozen completely solid. Logan ignored it and continued.
“I can’t take away the past, Minx, but I can be here for you in the future. If you’ll let me…” he hesitated and took a deep breath realizing the enormity of what he was about to say. “If you’ll let me, I’ll be a father for you now.”
The girl stood up, knocking over her chair and backing away from the table and from Logan. She shook her head and swiped at the tears on her stricken face.
“Minx-“ Logan pleaded.
“No. You are not my father!” she angrily spat out. “You mean nothing to me!”
Logan rose from his chair as Minx ran past him and out the door. He called after her to no effect. Emotions warred within him, his fury at botching the job overcoming all else. With a blind rage in his eyes, Logan roared and spun angrily on the table, his adamantium claws slicing out. With one angry motion, the man tore a ragged chunk from the table top and then kicked the chair he’d been sitting on only moments before. The chair leg cracked loudly as the entire seat went careening across the floor to smash into a large ceramic flowerpot. The pot cracked, and Logan snarled at it as if it were commenting on his poor display of behavior. Regaining some control, Logan withdrew his claws and stood, breathing heavily, trying to calm down while debating whether or not to go after his daughter.
“Happy father’s day,” he muttered sarcastically to himself.
Jubilee exhaled and blew a huge pink bubble from her lips as she waited for the rear elevator, her head bopping in rhythm to the music blaring from the tiny earphones she wore. The bubble popped and she sucked the sticky gum back into her mouth, noisily chomping on it as she pondered the recent events taking place at the school. It had definitely been a whack-o day so far. Her breakfast had been rudely interrupted, classes had mysteriously been cancelled, and all the adults in the mansion were acting pretty strange, even for them, she silently mused as the elevator doors opened in front of her. The teen, wearing her trademark rollerblades, rolled into the elevator, her entire body now swaying with the rock music she was listening to. She leaned over and hit the third floor button, then hastily withdrew her fingers from the panel.
Jubilee frowned as she gazed from the frozen wall panel to her tingling hand. The panel inside the elevator was completely iced over. Delicate wisps of frost trailed from each of the ice-encrusted floor buttons. Jubilee reached out and hesitantly tapped the third floor button with a fingernail. Tink! Tink! The button was frozen in place and could not be pushed. She tried the second floor button with the same result, and a scowl fell over her Asian features.
“Bobby!” the girl shouted angrily as she stormed out of the elevator, “You big lame-sicle! Can’t you go anywhere without dripping?”
She gave a sigh of distaste as she bladed over to the carpeted stairway and gazed up at the spiraling flights she was now resigned to climb.
“You so suck, Bobby Drake,” Jubilee grumbled as she sat on the bottom step to undo the laces of her skates. “And you’re so gonna pay for this too. I don’t care if Minx likes you or not, I am not hiking up three flights of stairs without someone suffering for it!”
Blades now slung over one shoulder, she grabbed the banister and began to climb. Jubilee made it to the second floor landing and paused to catch her breath. She was certainly not out of shape, but she hadn’t exactly been knocking herself out during exercise periods either. It was her contention that a young woman of her standing, mutant or not, should not have to be put through grueling sweaty training sessions much as Wolverine would like to disagree.
The girl set her foot on the next step and then paused, her instincts fully awake and bristling. Something wasn’t right. Jubilee slowly took her foot from the step and stood, turning in a circle trying to figure out what exactly was off. And then it came to her. There was a fine haze wafting from the hallway out onto the landing along with a funny smell like that of melted plastic or wiring.
She reached down and flicked off her iPod, then pushed the headphones down around her neck, listening intently for anything out of the ordinary. Jubilee only heard the normal creakings and house noises, nevertheless, she remained cautious as she tiptoed out into the second floor hallway for a look. The haze was much thicker here and Jubilee’s nose crinkled at the acrid smell that accompanied it. Waving away the smoky residue, Jubilee peered down the empty hallway, taking in the scorched potted palm and charred settee against the wall to her right.
She took a few more steps down the hall, her astonished gaze passing over several frozen, shattered doorknobs belonging to the bedroom doors of various members of the X-team. The hallway looked like a combination forest fire and ice storm had barreled through, landing on certain objects with a destructive force that rivaled most natural disasters and leaving others items in the hallway totally untouched. All along the way, patches of ice alternated with piles of smoking debris.
“Guess I owe you an apology, Bobby,” she muttered as she advanced down the hallway in trepidation.
Jubilee stopped outside what was left of Wolverine’s door. Her mouth fell open in awe, the shiny pink gum she’d been chewing dribbled off her tongue to plop onto the floor between her feet. Wolverine’s door had been seared completely through. It looked as if someone had taken a blowtorch to the thing, she thought with shock. There was nothing left but blackened chunks of smoldering wood attached to the ashy metal hinges.
The inside of the room wasn’t so pretty either, the girl noted as she tried to get a look without touching the smoking portal. The bed had also been torched, but in a controlled way it seemed. The frame and headboard were fine – the mattress and covers, on the other hand, looked as if someone tried to put out a gigantic cigarette in them. Softball-sized burn marks completely covered the goose-down duvet, and the pillows were just a pile of smelly, clumpy ashes. Jubilee glanced over at the dresser and whistled. Whatever had been on top of it was now just shattered piles of frozen detritus.
Hearing a sound behind her, Jubilee jumped and pivoted, her hands instantly balling into fists. But, there was no one there. Jubilee silently waited for the danger to present itself.
“Cujo?” she jokingly whispered.
It really wasn’t the time for humor, she knew, but she was scared and it helped her deal with the situation. The noise came again – a drawer slamming. It was coming from Minx’s room Jubilee realized and dropped her guard a little. But not all the way – Jubilee had just witnessed how nasty her friend’s temper could get. The girl cautiously edged closer to Minx’s door and noticed that it was ajar. Through the crack, Minx could be seen standing at the side of her bed, angrily stuffing clothes into a backpack. Without thinking, Jubilee pushed the door open to confront her classmate and best friend.
“Um, having a bad day?”
Minx looked up from her bag, her eyes puffy and red-rimmed. It was quite obvious that she’d been crying. She didn’t offer a reply to Jubilee’s question and none was needed. Jubilee shut the door behind her and went over to Minx who had resumed her packing. All signs of the teen’s habitation of the room were missing - all but one. Jubilee spied the necklace lying on the floor next to the wastebasket. It had obviously been meant to go inside the trash but someone’s throw had been a bit off. She stared at the monogrammed bit of silver a moment and then turned back to Minx.
“You were gonna leave and not even tell me?”
Jubilee appeared hurt but Minx ignored the look and zipped up the backpack resting on the bed. Her friend tried again.
“Ya know lots of kid’s parents cheat on each other. I mean, it’s like not that big a deal anyway.”
“Aw, Jubes,” Minx wanted to laugh at her friend’s naïveté, “you haven’t heard yet?”
Minx sighed and picked up the full backpack, adjusting the straps as she slung it over one shoulder. She looked up with a sad smile on her tired face.
“What’s worse than your parents sleeping around?” she questioned.
Jubilee thought a second then shrugged.
“How about your mom getting pregnant from it?” Minx spat out as she gave one last look around the room.
She turned back to Jubilee who stood in stunned silence.
“I’m not sure I’m following you, here,” Jubilee said.
“No?” Minx sarcastically said. “Well let me make it easy for you, Jubes. That sawed-off, bad-tempered freak of nature across the hall? Just so happens he’s my real father.”
She watched her friend’s face register this unbelievable news.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Minx continued as she shoved past the other girl moving towards the door. “The bastard knocked up my mom and ha, ha – I’m the result.”
Jubilee stood rooted to the spot, her mind frantically attempting to digest the bomb Minx had just dropped on her. Logan was Minx’s father? Whoa, the girl thought as she got moving and began to trail after her upset friend.
“Hey, Minx,” Jubilee called out after the other teen’s retreating form, “Wait up a sec. Like, are you serious? You and Wolvie are really related?”
Minx couldn’t answer; she was crying again. Jubilee caught up with her and fell in step alongside Minx.
“Jubes, I kinda want to be alone, okay?”
Jubilee didn’t take the hint and continued to walk with Minx towards the elevator. They stopped and waited as Minx hit the down arrow.
“Oh, it’s broken,” Jubilee started but her voice trailed off in embarrassment as Minx shot her a look. “Yeah, right, you’re the one who broke it…”
The elevator dinged and the door opened. Minx stepped inside.
“I didn’t break it, Jubes, I just froze the buttons to gain a little time.”
She patiently waited for her friend, but when Jubilee remained out in the hall, Minx reached out and snatched the girl by the arm pulling her into the elevator. Minx settled her palm over the panel and concentrated. The ice on the buttons began to crack and evaporate.
“And I was gonna clock your boy-toy for doing that,” Jubilee indicated the panel on the wall.
Minx pushed the basement level button and the elevator began its descent.