Chapter 14: Friends and Enemies
It had been a pretty lousy night and it was turning out to be an even lousier morning, Minx fumed as she stuck her already suds-caked hand into the plastic wash bucket again. It was bad enough to be humiliated in front of all of her teachers, but it was even worse to have Logan treat her like a child. A naïve, immature, weak child, she amended bitterly. Her run-in with Logan in the Danger Room had injured her pride as much as her backside, and as a result, she was in no mood to put up with Jubilee’s vindictive wise cracks as the two girls ran their soapy sponges over the hood of the X-team’s Jeep Cherokee.
“I’m just sayin’ I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do as much work as you.” Jubilee airily commented as she looked past the hood of the car the two girls were scrubbing to the line of vehicles still waiting for their wash.
She continued her tirade as Minx tried diligently to ignore her.
“I mean I was just trying to do the loyal, friend-like X-men-y thing, ya know? And I end up getting sentenced to manual labor for the next two weeks! And Wolvie didn’t even care that I might have gotten hurt!”
Minx shot her a scathing glare, her fist clenching tightly around the sponge it held. She straightened up and angrily threw the sponge into the half-full bucket near Jubilee taking some petty pleasure when the water in the bucket splashed out over her companion’s leg.
“Ick!” Jubilee screwed up her face in distaste and pointed accusingly at Minx. “You did that on purpose!”
“Oh, poor little Jubilee,” Minx shot back, her tone mocking and derisive. “Got your itty bitty leg all wet? Wow, isn’t that too bad?”
She snorted and turned back to the hood of the car, grabbing up a dry rag from where she had hung it on the antennae. She began to dry off the hood of the Cherokee.
“Ya know, Lee, for a veteran X-man, you sure don’t have a clue sometimes,” she muttered under her breath.
What did Jubilee have to complain about? At least she hadn’t gotten treated to Logan’s cast iron hand. Minx ruefully reflected on this as she unconsciously rubbed the still tender seat of her jeans. She never even saw the wet sponge coming. It smacked into the back of her head with a wet splat, sliding down her neck in a scummy line before falling to the garage floor. Minx stiffened, her patience quickly evaporating as the dirty sudsy water trickled down the back of her neck and into her t-shirt.
“Oops,” Jubilee sweetly chirped as Minx slowly turned around to face the girl. “Guess my hand slipped.”
“Yeah?” Minx snapped, “Well guess what? My fist is about to slip…right up in your –“
“How’s it going?”
Bobby Drake called out to the girls from across the garage before Minx could finish her sentence. Bobby halted staring uncertainly at Minx and Jubilee sensing the heavy tension between the two usually bubbly girls. He shifted from one foot to the other in the awkward silence.
“Uh, am I interrupting something here?” he slowly questioned.
“Yes!” Minx growled.
“No!” Jubilee countered.
The girls glared at each other like a couple of vicious wildcats sizing each other up, and then turned to focus on Bobby, who gulped. He was beginning to regret his coming down to offer his best friends some support. It looked to the boy like they needed a referee more than a friend at the moment.
“I, uh, um…I just wanted to see how you were doing…” Bobby’s voice trailed off as he nervously eyed Minx and Jubilee. “I…you know? I’ll just be going.”
Bobby began to slowly back up, half-afraid to turn his back on the two bickering females lest they decide to take out their hostility on the innocent bystander in the room. Bobby quickly made his way over to the elevator and risked turning back to catch Minx’s eye.
“Me and Alex’ll catch up with you guys later after dinner, ‘kay?” he winked and relaxed when the girls’ faces softened a bit.
Minx gave him a half-smile and winked back, which made Bobby blush. Glancing over to make sure Jubilee saw, Minx turned and bent down seductively for a new rag, waggling her bottom at the boy. Bobby Drake’s jaw fell open and he just stood, gaping stupidly at Minx as the elevator door opened, dinged impatiently for its fare, then closed again. The boy gave a little wave back at her then pivoted and smacked right into the closed door with a loud thud.
“Works better if the doors are open!” Jubilee called as she watched Bobby’s theatrics with utter disdain and a small sense of jealousy. “Scram, ya lamesicle, before you start melting all over the floor!”
Bobby started, caught Minx’s teasing smile and Jubilee’s eye roll and quickly jumped into the elevator when it opened once again. The doors finally closed on the grinning teenager’s beet red face.
Logan leaned back against the sturdy trunk of a tree and absently watched the smoke from his cigar as it drifted lazily about his head. The wind blew through his dark hair, ruffling the tufts that stuck up on either side of his head, but he didn’t really pay attention to it or to the crisp coldness of the day. No, today Logan was preoccupied and that was unusual and unsettling for the former military man. It wasn’t like him to feel guilty or to have regrets about anything. And for Logan, there were a lot of things he could regret if he chose to. But, that just wasn’t in his nature – he was an instinctual creature in all ways, and instincts came from your guts, not your head. But, here he was, slouching up against one of the many bare trees in the woods behind the mansion, wondering if he was doing the right thing in taking on the responsibility of raising a child.
“I thought I’d find you here,” came a soft voice off to his left.
Logan didn’t even turn to look – he had sensed Jean long before the woman came walking up to him. She offered the man a heart-melting smile as she nudged him over so she could lean against the tree next to him.
“Still wearing Sand and Sable, huh, Jeannie?” he softly commented to her as he checked her out from the corner of his eyes.
“It’s Scott’s favorite,” she replied and Logan grunted then studied the lit end of his cheroot with feigned interest.
“Mine too,” he mumbled and turned to look directly at the woman.
“Whaddaya doin’ out here, Red?”
Jean Grey studied her comrade. Logan looked tired, if that was possible. She rubbed her hands together then stuck them in the pockets of her down jacket before answering the surly mutant.
“I’m worried about you, Logan,” she said. “It’s not like you to be this withdrawn from the team – not like this. Not unless something is really bothering you.”
“You been prying into my noggin without askin’?” he teased her then grew serious again as she held his gaze, her green eyes full of worry. “Ah, don’t worry about me, Jeannie. The old Canucklehead is just fine. I just got some thinkin’ to do.”
Jean pulled a hand from her pocket and reached out to place it on Logan’s arm and give him a gentle squeeze.
“Logan, I’m here if you need to talk to someone,” Jean softly told him.
He looked down for a long moment at her hand on his arm then quickly looked away, suddenly feeling very edgy.
“I know,” Logan answered back, “I guess I’m just having a hard time dealin’ with being a father all of a sudden.” He chomped on his cigar debating whether or not to go on. “I’m not used to having to think about someone else’s needs, ya know? Don’t get me wrong, Red, I love Minx, but I’m not sure I’m always making the right decisions for her…”
“You’re doing just fine,” Jean reassured the man and gave his arm another squeeze. “Being a parent is not an easy thing, Logan. Just ask my parents,” she laughed. “I wasn’t born the sweet, supportive girl I am today.”
Logan chuckled and threw his cigar off into the woods, hearing it sizzle out when it hit the snow. He rolled and turned so that the two were leaning face-to-face against the aged oak tree.
“What – you mean the Jean Grey I know and love was once a wild disruptive brat?” he asked, his mood lightening somewhat, “Tell me it ain’t so, Red.”
Jean laughed, the warm sound breaking the silence of the quiet winter day.
“I plead the fifth,” she giggled, then was silenced as Logan bent down to kiss her.
She let her lips press against his for only a second before she pulled away quickly and looked off into the forest.
“What are we doing?” she whispered.
“Well, not much if you’re gonna keep pulling away like that,” Logan huskily murmured.
He brought his lips toward hers once again, but stopped and straightened up suddenly, his ears pricked.
“What is it?” Jean asked him as she pushed away from the tree and reached out with her mind. She found the intruder’s thoughts and relaxed. “It’s just Bobby,” she said to Logan.
Logan remained silent, avoiding Jean’s eyes as Bobby Drake trudged into the clearing, his breath coming out in frosty plumes. He wore no coat – he didn’t need to. His mutant factor gave him protection against the cold.
“Jeez, what’re you two doing way out here anyway?” the teen asked as he made his way over to Logan and Jean, stomping to get the clumps of snow off his boots. “Professor X is looking for you, Jeannie,” Bobby told the woman, then offered a nervous smile at Logan. “Hey, Wolverine,” he politely mumbled.
Logan’s eyes narrowed as he smelled the scent of his daughter on the boy. Bobby gulped and took a wary step backwards.
“Been behavin’ yourself with my little girl, I hope,” Logan growled menacingly while clenching and unclenching one of his fists.
“Logan, leave him alone,” Jean scolded and reached out to ruffle Bobby’s hair. “He’s been a perfect gentleman. He and Minx are just friends.”
Bobby thought it better to remain silent on that score, so he just looked up and smiled weakly.
“We’ll see,” Logan warned as Jean turned to follow Bobby back to the mansion.
And if you still want to talk later… Jean’s sweet voice chimed in Logan’s head and he grinned as he watched the woman’s pert form moving off toward the snow-covered path back to the mansion’s main grounds.
Charles Xavier tented his fingers and placed them under his chin as he listened to Jean’s retelling of Bobby’s little episode in the garage. Bobby had decided to confide in his teacher and fellow teammate on their walk back from the forest where they had left Logan to brood. Charles knew the girls were harboring some hurt feelings between each other but hadn’t realized that it went deeper than that until his discussion with Jean.
“This is getting out of hand,” the professor said as Jean took a seat across the desk from her mentor. “I had thought that sharing a mutual punishment would have given the girls an opportunity to commiserate together, but apparently they are using it as ammunition against one another instead.”
Jean gave the older man a wry smile, remembering her early days as a student at the school.
“It doesn’t help that neither of them are speaking to each other,” she commented, “I’m not sure how they can resolve this if they don’t let it out and tell each other how they honestly feel. And I know there’s more going on than we are seeing on the surface, Professor, but I’m not really comfortable with having to telepathically pull it out of them. Really, I think we have the two most stubborn students in the world on our hands!”
Charles smiled and nodded in agreement with Jean.
“Forcing them to come to an agreement isn’t the solution either, Jean. But, I may have one last trick up my sleeve before it comes down to that.”
The professor smiled and then closed his eyes a moment in concentration, mentally searching for and finding his two wayward teens in their respective rooms.
[Jubilee. Minx. Please report to my office immediately], he mentally commanded.
“Mind if I stick around?” Jean asked with a grin.
“Not at all, Jean,” Charles replied and both sat back to wait for the girls.
Minx had thought the day couldn’t get much worse, but she was about to find out otherwise as she rapped sharply on the door to Charles Xavier’s private study. She’d been staring out the window of her room brooding when she’d gotten the telepathic call from the Professor. Now what, she wondered silently as she heard Professor Xavier’s muffled voice bid her to enter. Minx shoved the door open and sauntered in but stopped short when she caught sight of Jubilee already sprawled in one of the overstuffed chairs next to the desk, one bare leg hung lazily over the arm. She gave her fellow student a caustic look then wandered over and settled into the chair furthest away from Jubilee. Jean bit her lip in amusement.
“I’ve called you both here to make an announcement,” he began, “The school will be receiving two new students at the end of the week –“
“Boys or girls?” Jubilee suddenly piped up, her face perking up with interest.
Minx remained disinterested and offered a wide yawn to the group as proof.
“As a matter of fact, it’s a brother and sister,” Xavier continued, “Paige and Sam Guthrie from Kentucky. The reason I am announcing this to you two ahead of time is that I will need to make some changes in room assignments. Jubilee, you will be moving into Minx’s room with her so that we can give Paige her own room.”
A look of utter horror crossed the two teens’ faces as they listened to Professor Xavier. Even Jean was a bit stunned by her mentor’s tactics. Did he realize the implications of what he was doing? She opened her mouth to voice her concern when Xavier offered her a quick telepathic explanation. Jean blinked and looked down to hide her grin. Jubilee was the first to speak.
“How come I have to move out of my room, Professor?” she angrily questioned. “How come Minx doesn’t move in with me instead?”
“Because the room Minx is currently in is much larger than yours, Jubilee. Therefore, it can easily accommodate the two of you without it seeming crowded.”
Minx glowered at him. “Trust me, there isn’t a room big enough in this place to have both us stayin’ in it without being crowded!” she snarled, but shut up when the Professor fixed his stern countenance upon her.
“Minx,” Xavier stated, his tone even but forceful, “That is exactly what I do NOT want to hear. As students, you are representatives of this school and all that it stands for – the peaceful coexistence of man and mutant. How can we portray that image to our new classmates and to others if you will not even attempt to get along with your room mate?” he argued.
“But Professor,” Jubilee pleaded with him, “Can’t me and this new girl, what’s her name? Can’t we room together instead?”
“No, Jubilee. Paige needs her own space until she feels settled and part of the team. Besides,” he pressed, “you two are the only students here that have the luxury of their own rooms at this time. Every other student at the Institute has at least one room mate, if not more.”
Jubilee and Minx digested this fact with a grudging acceptance. There wasn’t really anything they could do. The professor had made it perfectly clear that they were to share a room.
As if reading their thoughts he added, “I expect you to be settled into your new room this evening, Jubilee. I will have your bed and other furniture moved while you are at supper.”
Neither girl said a word. They just sat in resigned silence until Professor Xavier dismissed them. Jean shot her mentor a quizzical look as the door to the study closed behind Minx and Jubilee.
“Professor, do you really think this is going to work?”
Charles Xavier smiled at his former student. “Time and patience are useful tools, Jean. I have no doubt that our young combatants will break the silence…especially if they are kept together in close quarters for any length of time.”
Jean chuckled and bit her lip. “I only hope that we survive long enough!”
It didn’t take long for the Professor’s little ‘experiment’ to come to a head. Minx and Jubilee had spent less than forty-eight hours together as roommates before all hell broke loose at the mansion. Chores and homework completed, the girls had nothing to do save hang out in their room until it was time for bed. Minx chose to lay on top of her unmade bed and stare moodily at the tiny little imperfections of the bland ceiling while Jubilee busily bopped around the room, headset on, rearranging the closet for the umpteenth time. Her companion’s sullen demeanor was ignored as the girl squinted at the rack of hangers and clothes the two shared. It was no secret that Jubilee, a Beverly Hills mallrat, was in love with fashion and had scads of clothing to prove it. She enjoyed accessorizing, colorizing and being on top of the latest fad.
That being the case, it was no surprise that Jubilee turned up her nose in distaste at Minx’s section of the large closet. Her Asian features scrunched up at the meager selection of crop tops, jeans and t-shirts hanging limply next to her own wardrobe as if the clothes knew they weren’t good enough to share closet space with her designer duds. Who wanted to look like a plain Jane when they could be the belle of the mall?
Jubilee pulled a hot pink mohair sweater off the bar and moved it down several inches to hang next to a matching pink and apple green miniskirt. It wasn’t fair she thought as she sat down on the floor and began straightening her shoes. It was totally unjust that Minx could dress any old way and act however she wanted and the guys all flocked to her. Cheez, Jubilee angrily thought, I can’t even get one boy-toy here to treat me like I’m date-worthy, and ‘Boxcar Willy’ over there has two, TWO hotties after her! And to top it off, she had stolen Wolverine’s affections right out from under her. So what if Minx was his ‘real’ kid, Jubilee bitterly thought. How about all that she and the Canucklehead had been through? Didn’t that mean anything anymore? She cast a glance at Minx’s clothes again and then shot a morose look over to her pouting roommate and felt a twinge of anger run through her.
Minx continued to stare unblinking at the off-white ceiling as she had for the past two days. She had by now memorized every minute crack, every paintbrush mark, and every shadow of light cast on the boring, monotonous expanse of plaster. There was little else to do. It came down to the simple choices of sleep, stare or read her textbooks, and since she wasn’t tired and had no inclination whatsoever to crack open a book of any kind much less a school book, the girl resorted to the only other diversion offered her.
She knew she was feeling sorry for herself, but couldn’t help it. It just wasn’t fair that she had lost every single one of her privileges while Jubes stood right there in front of her happily gloating over that fact by dancing around the room with her earphones on and chattering incessantly about the new Greenday song she downloaded this morning. How come Jubilee could have an attitude and always talk her way out of trouble while she couldn’t even look cross-eyed without catching it from not only Professor X and ‘his excellency’ Scott Summers, but also from her father. It had to be unconstitutional or something to get punished for the same crime more than once and by more than one person. And it was totally harsh that she was the only kid at the school whose parent lived directly across the hall! Professor X’s rules were hard enough without having your pig-headed, macho, testosterone-oozing bully of a father also telling you what to do!
The girl finally lowered her gaze from the ceiling to moodily stare at her roommate’s back. Jubilee was still fussing with her stupid clothes, Minx observed in annoyance. Growing up on the streets had left Minx with little concern for fads and a preference instead for comfortable, simple clothes that she could afford or steal easily. It wasn’t that she disliked like the cute miniskirts and hip styles her counterpart often wore. Minx wanted to look cool and sexy to the boys too, but she just didn’t have the fashion sense that Jubilee seemed innately born with. A sudden bubble of jealousy rose to the surface of her already boiling emotions.
“Yo, Barbie,” Minx sarcastically called out to her new roommate, “you about done playing fashion princess?”
Jubilee didn’t hear the glib remark over the music from her headphones. She continued to sway to the beat until Minx reached over and grabbed up a small blue stuffed doll from Jubilee’s bed and pitched it at the girl. The doll smacked Jubilee square in the back, and she started then swung around in annoyance, pushing the earphones down around her neck.
“What is your damage?” Jubilee snapped at Minx.
She looked down at the floor where the doll had fallen and her eyes grew wide in indignation. She swooped down to pick up the creature and gave Minx a hateful glare.
“Who said you could touch my stuff? Huh? You just keep your grimy mitts off my Bampf doll!”
Minx sat up on her bed and snorted. “Your what??”
Jubilee stalked over to her bed to set the much-loved doll back in its rightful place on her pillow, fixing Minx with a cold stare.
“Not that it’s any of your business, ‘cause it isn’t - but for your FYI, that doll was given to me by someone I was very close to. And I would prefer you not touching it!”
Minx shook her head and lay back down on her bed with a sigh. “Whatever, Jubes. Go back to playing dress-up.”
But Jubilee wasn’t about to be dismissed so easily. “At least I have decent stuff to dress up in,” the girl snidely commented.
Minx sat back up again and met Jubilee’s glare with a rather nasty one of her own. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she angrily questioned.
“Nothing,” Jubilee airily replied, “I guess I like shouldn’t figure a roller derby reject such as yourself would ever be interested in looking nice. I mean –“
“Who you calling a reject, Miss Priss?” Minx snapped and was instantly on her feet, fists clenched. “How long do you think you woulda made it on your own way back when if Storm and Rogue and Jean hadn’t rescued your designer butt from those rent-a-cops? What a loser! At least I wasn’t stupid enough to pick a fashion mall as my new digs. But then, what else would you have picked?”
Jubilee waved her hands in mock despair. “Oooo, like I’m so hurt! Hey, at least I wouldn’t stand out in the crowd like you would. I mean, seriously, what self-respecting store cop anywhere would even want a low-life retarded street thug like you in their mall?”
Minx’s eyes narrowed in fury. “You can kiss my ass! You’re nothing but a shallow Euro-trash twinkie that can’t stand the fact that she isn’t everybody’s little darling anymore. What’sa matter, Lee? Not enough people stroking your ego lately?”
The two teens now eyed each other dangerously. The comment stung Jubilation Lee to the core. It wounded her to hear the ugly truth coming from Minx’s lips. Her jaw clenched in anger and frustration as Jubilee gave Minx a shove. Minx stumbled back a few steps but held her ground.
“If Wolvie wasn’t always standin’ up for you…” Jubilee’s voice trailed off but the implied threat was quite evident as her little hands balled reflexively into fists, small sparks of energy showering from them.
Minx’s lips tightened into a cold smile and she raised her own fists in invitation. “Well, little china girl, I don’t see the big bad Wolverine here right now, do you?”
“So, mon ami,” Gambit said as he strode down the corridor with his team leader, “who got de first watch on perimeter check tonight?”
Scott Summers checked the clipboard he carried, running his finger down the page. “Looks like you and Rogue are up first. Then Storm and Hank, and Wolverine’s after -” his thoughts were interrupted by a loud crash from down the hall.
Both men looked at each other in concern and then took off at a run toward the noise coming from one of the bedrooms off to the left. Gambit reached the door first and kicked it open with one booted foot as Scott raced in and was brought up short by the three-ring circus taking place inside the room.
Broken CD’s, crumpled clothes, and torn stuffed animals littered the floor where Minx and Jubilee were nothing more than a writhing pile of arms, legs and curses on the carpet. Scott and Remy stared in stunned silence at the torn posters hanging off the walls, the smashed mirror over the bureau and then back down to the two grunting teenagers punching and kicking each other on the floor. An amused grin broke out over Gambit’s handsome face as he leaned up against the doorframe to watch the cat fight.
“Ma bonté! “ Gambit smirked, “look like we got a bit o’ disagreement goin’ on, eh?”
“Well, I’m glad you can see humor in this, Remy,” Scott reprimanded his Cajun teammate as he strode past the man and over to the two flailing girls. “But I don’t see anything funny about Minx and Jubilee trying to kill each other!”
He stood over them, imperiously, fists on his hips. “All, right, “Scott barked, “break it up you two! NOW!”
Nothing happened. Minx and Jubilee continued to punch, scratch and pull at the other’s hair while shouting the vilest insults a teenager could think. Scott blinked in surprise and withered a little. Gambit merely chuckled as he pushed himself away from the doorway and sauntered over to offer some help to his beleaguered friend.
“Dey like a couple terriers fighten’ over a bone,” Gambit commented offhand. “We gonna have to pull dem apart, mon ami.” He began to reach down toward the wrestling girls. “I’ll take l’il bit here, and you can grab Ms. Lee.”
Scott nodded once then bent down to take Jubilee’s arm and pull her off Minx while Remy took hold of one of Minx’s legs. Unfortunately, Minx took that opportunity to throw a wild punch that just missed Scott’s jaw and instead landed solidly into his shoulder blade. Scott grunted in pain, letting go of the other girl momentarily which caused the Cajun to lose his balance as Jubilee kicked out and caught him square in the gut with one of her sneakered feet. Gambit whoofed and reeled backwards, falling through the open closet door dragging down several hangers full of clothing on top of himself as he went.
“You okay over there?” Scott offered a curt grin to Gambit who shook off a hanger attached to his ear and stood back up.
“Oui,” Gambit replied, “jus’ had de wind knocked out of Gambit is all.” He made his way back over to the brawlers and gave Scott a quick look. “We go in on three. Un, deux, trois!”
Both men reached into the fracas attempting to grab and hold onto one of the many squirming body parts rolling about on the carpet.
“Bitch!” Minx screamed and sunk her teeth into an exposed wrist that presented itself.
Gambit hollered in pain pulling his arm away from the girl’s mouth.
“Slut!” Jubilee hotly countered and rewarded Scott with an elbow to the nose.
Scott lost his balance going down hard to the floor as Minx rolled over on top of him, grabbing a handful of his hair and yanking hard.
“HEY!” the man yelped, “Let go! You’re-”
A tiny fist, whose he didn’t know, nor at this point did he care, flew up into Scott Summer’s face knocking his protective ruby quartz glasses from his eyes.
“Dammit!” he swore as he disengaged himself and rolled away from the fight, his eyes tightly shut to keep from injuring anyone in the room. “Gambit, I lost my glasses. Did you see where they went?”
He heard only grunts and some swearing in French.
“A little busy here, Scotty,” came the strained reply.
The Cajun ducked a fist and tried to extricate his wadded shirt-front from Jubilee’s grip while keeping Minx from kicking him in the groin.
“You on your own, homme,” Gambit stated to his fallen comrade. He howled again as someone poked him in the eye. “Okay, who got de long fingernails!” he snapped rubbing the injured eye as he scooted backwards out of the way of a lunging kick.
A hulking shadow suddenly loomed over the girls, and with a surly growl of annoyance, Logan reached down between the two teens with both hands and clamped onto a pair of earlobes. Minx and Jubilee squawked in dismay as the brawny man, who looked ready to kill them both, harshly yanked them up to their feet. Logan dragged the girls over to their respective beds by the ear and dumped them down on the edges. Minx hissed as he let go of her earlobe. She flinched and rubbed it gingerly while Jubilee sprang back up from her bed mouth opened to utter some protest. But Logan was nothing if not efficient. He quickly silenced the Asian girl with a thunderous smack to her rear and a guttural growl of warning pointing to the end of the bed she had so recently vacated. Jubilee yipped like a wounded terrier as she scrambled to find a seat her face reddening with embarrassment. Sensing that his daughter might want to add her own smart ass commentary onto the situation, Logan spun around and pointed a warning finger in Minx’s direction.
“Don’t!” he snarled and Minx’s lips clamped shut.
Logan glared from one girl to the other while Gambit crawled over to help Scott locate his glasses.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Logan angrily demanded.
Both Minx and Jubilee were completely disheveled. Jubilee’s shirt was torn along one of the shoulder seams, a row of reddened fingernail scratches marking the skin peeking out from underneath the fabric. She was snuffling pitiably now, wiping at her bloodied nose while trying to look innocent which was difficult to do under the circumstances. She nervously tapped her foot on the carpet– her shoeless sock-covered foot - he realized. The other one still had a tennis shoe on it; god knew where the missing shoe was, he tiredly thought.
Minx slouched stone-faced on her own rumpled bed, her once neat ponytail now hanging awry to one side of her head some of the hair now loose and sticking out from the sides of her dirty face. Her sweatshirt collar was ripped in half and there was a scorch mark running down the right side of her jeans. Minx nervously tried to tuck her bloodied knuckles under her armpits as Logan leaned in for closer inspection of her. He surveyed the purple bruise sprouting on his daughter’s right cheek with a growing sense of fury.
Only Gambit chose to meet the older man’s raging stare of disapproval. Minx and Jubilee shifted between focusing on the ground and shooting accusing glares at each other. Their looks told volumes. Logan shot the girls a stony warning daring them to move even a fraction of millimeter from their beds before he turned and addressed his fellow team members who were picking themselves up off the floor in mild embarrassment.
“I don’t suppose either of you could possibly tell me what the hell happened?” he growled.
Gambit grinned sheepishly. He rubbed the reddened bite marks on his wrist. “It’d appear, mon ami, that our two jeunes filles had some sort of disagreement. Cyke and Gambit were trying to pull dem apart.”
“Yeah, bang up job on that by the way,” Logan sarcastically remarked. He turned back to glower at the girls, his patience completely gone.
“This has gone on long enough!” he barked at them, “I don’t know what your beef is, but it ends here and now. I’m not spendin’ my free time playin’ referee between the two of you!”
Logan stalked over to Jubilee, pulling her up from her bed by her arm. He got nose to nose with the girl, his eyes dark and ominous.
“Jubilee, you and me go a ways back, kid. We’ve covered each other’s butts more times ‘n I can count.” His face softened somewhat but his tone was still stern. “You gotta be willin’ to share me, kiddo. I ain’t replacin’ ya with this one.” He indicated Minx with a thumb in her direction. “I got room for one more. I still care about ya, Jubes and I always will.”
Jubilee didn’t say anything but her expression changed from hurt to hopeful. Logan pushed her back down onto her bed and then turned to offer his daughter a stony expression.
“And you. What’d we just talk about the other day, huh? You ain’t an outsider here anymore. You’re family. Family doesn’t beat the crap outta one another. They stick together and stick up for one another. You gotta start followin’ the rules, darlin’. That means no more attitude outta you.”
He ambled over to his daughter and bent down so his dark feral eyes were level with hers. Logan’s tone became low and full of warning.
“Now, I thought we already had this conversation once, sunshine. Do we need to take another trip down to the Danger Room?”
Minx paled slightly. “No, sir,” she hastily replied.
“Good to hear.” Logan dryly commented. He fixed both girls with an imposing look. “I hear one more peep outta either of you twerps tonight, and it’s gonna be slice and dice time. Belt’s comin’ off and behinds are gettin’ beat. GOT IT?”
“Yep.” “Uh, huh.”
Logan turned and stalked out of the room, his footsteps clomping down the hall as Scott and Gambit offered each other silent looks of amusement as they headed for the door.
“Why we din’t tink of dat, mon ami?” Gambit muttered to his team leader.
Scott shrugged. “I don’t know about you, but I was sort of busy trying not to get my teeth knocked out.”
Gambit chuckled, rubbing his still watering eye.
“C’est vraiment, homme!” he sighed as the two men headed out into the hall together. “You know? It good to be a bachelor, Scotty…”
Minx and Jubilee sat on the edges of their beds, still somewhat cowed by the intensity of Logan’s fury. Minx looked over at her roommate who was still rubbing her pinched ear and broke the silence.
“So...we allowed to get up now or what?” she quietly asked.
Jubilee cast a cheerless glance at the door and then shrugged. She wasn’t really sure, but the smack and look Logan had given her sure was encouragement enough for her to stay put until further notice. She crossed her legs and started to whistle aimlessly hoping that either Logan would return to say they could get up from their beds or that her roommate’s reckless disregard for staying alive would cause her to move first. Neither actually happened.
“Ya think he really meant it?” Minx finally asked breaking the silence once again.
Jubilee stopped whistling and shifted on the bed to face her companion. She gave Minx a look of astonishment.
“Are you stupid?!”
“I was just askin’…”
Jubilee sighed heavily. “When has the Wolvster ever not meant it?” she sullenly said. “I mean, seriously, have you seen his belt? That thing could –“
“Aw, screw this,” Minx tiredly snapped cutting Jubilee off in mid-tirade. “I’m kind of thinking the old man has better things to do than prowl outside our door all night waiting for us to dare each other off the edge of our beds. So, I’m just gonna call his bluff this time. Hell, we just kicked the snot out of captain bossy-boots and bayou boy. What’s one hairy runt going to do?”
Minx stood up, much to Jubilee’s shock and admiration. She began gathering up the various bits of trash and belongings scattered around the floor of their room. Jubilee watched for a few moments before rising herself and going over to help her roommate.
“Yeah, you’re abso-tively right, Minxster. Besides, Wolvie’s got a soft spot for us cute orphans,” Jubilee sniffed. She went on as she helped Minx pick up the mess. “I mean sure he was suck-tacularly huffy and all back there...and ya know, he had to do the macho ‘I am alpha male’ thing in front of Scotty and Rem of course...and well, you gotta admit it’s like no contest that he can probably beat both our behinds raw with one claw tied behind his back...”
They were silent for a moment pondering that uncomfortable thought before Minx made a face.
“Okay, not so sure I like where you were going with that.” she scowled and then waved dismissively. “Look, the main thing is that Logan was totally over the top, you know? Doing the big hokey drama thing just to make us shake in our boots, right? I mean, he’s such a total control freak.”
She laughed nervously as if trying to convince herself of her own statements.
“Cheez, yeah!” Jubilee agreed as she held open a zippered cosmetic bag for Minx to dump a handful of makeup into. “I mean, like what’s his ish anyway? We were just having a little Gilmore Girls drama and he goes and interrupts our big moment. The canuckle-head needs to take a chill pill or something!”
More silence followed as the girls moved to pick up the scattered CD’s lying everywhere. But this time, the quiet was imbued with a sisterly comraderie that dissipated all the hurt feelings and anger that had been there before.
Jubilee spoke up this time. “Um…I’m super sorry I called you a low-life retarded street thug, Minx.”
She gave the other girl a half-smile. Minx returned it.
“And I’m sorry I said you were a shallow Euro-trash twinkie, Jube.”
“Forgiven?” Jubilee asked.
Minx smiled and the two came together in a huge bear hug, all enmity forgotten.
“So, how ya gonna do your hair for the dance?” Jubilee asked as if nothing had ever happened between them.
Charles Xavier was sitting at his desk in his study going over an invoice when a smile of relief passed over his face. The repairman sitting across the desk from him didn’t catch it and it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t have understood anyway. Somewhere in the kitchen, Jean Grey stopped stirring the hot chocolate on the stove and glanced up to the ceiling above her, a faint grin on her lips as she too felt the end to the violent storm that had visited the school.
“And all is right with the world,” she murmured softly.