At long last the final chapter!! I know I haven't updated in forever and I'm sorry, but I hope you enjoy the ending to this story. I really, truly loved writing it. Thank you so much to everyone who followed it and reviewed. You guys are the best:)
"Y'know, Jubilee, I have to admit that I really am impressed." I double check to make sure I'm not hallucinating, but no, I am not. That is Scott a.k.a. Cyclops Summers standing there next to me saying in his best leadership voice that he is impressed with one, Jubilation Lee. I pinch my arm so hard I think I bruised it.
"I know. Another strait A semester. Somedays I look in the mirror and, I swear, I don't even recognize myself anymore. Especially with these bags under my eyes."
"You do not have bags under your eyes. Trust me. And I wasn't actually talking about your grades, although, you're right, they're impressive, too. Actually, I was talking about you and Wolverine."
I reach down to readjust my brand new strappy high heel. They'll give me blisters for sure tonight, but they're so adorable and so perfect with my new silky black dress. And I felt that after another hard year's work put behind me, I deserved a special treat. Even if they were over two hundred. Maybe three. Meaningless details.
"Why? Cause we have a fancy evening planned? You should be impressed with Wolvie, not me. He planned the whole thing."
We're in the kitchen, Scott in his uniform, having just finished a training session with the newest batch of hapless wannabes--i.e. students--and me decked in my finest, ready for a night on the town with my boyfriend. Dinner will be fabulous for sure, but sometimes a girl needs a quick snack to tide her over. And there's a twinkie with my name on it.
"Again, that's not what I meant." Scott's replenishing his electrolytes with an ice blue gatorade. I watch him apprehensively, knowing I'm due in the Danger Room later this week and I'm really going to get my ass worked right off of me.
"Well, it should be. The man's full of surprises."
"You can say that again. I'm surprised you and Logan are still together. A year later and the two of you have one of the steadiest relationships in the mansion. Impressive. And I don't really want to think about what that might say about the rest of us."
I swallow the rest of my twinkie in shock. Scott hadn't talked about Logan to me in months. In fact, I don't think he's talked to me about Logan since before I went back to school.
I nervously fiddle with the plastic twinkie wrapper.
Cyke continues to sip his gatorade nonchalantly.
I start to feel strange and out of place.
"So..." I falter.
"Well, I should hit the showers. Have a great time!"
I sigh in relief, having been worried that Scott was about to do something even more bizarre than complimenting me on my relationship with Logan. Like offer dating advice. And this is my excuse for my verbal blunder.
"You too! In the shower. I mean--in general. I mean--Bye!"
I bolt for the exit, thoroughly disconcerted and feeling my face burn in shameful humiliation. And trip over big feet in my new shoes.
"Whoa Jubes! Where's the fire? Cause I have ice at the ready."
"God, you are such a dork." Suddenly finding myself on the floor does not improve my mood. "Says the girl who just tripped over her own feet." Bobby frowns at me.
"I tripped over your feet, thank you very much."
"And was graceful the whole way down."
He offers me a hand up.
"You know what? Bite me."
"Not his job, darlin'. Mine." Wolverine makes his way towards us in a predatory prowl that belies his stylish slacks with a button down shirt and well cut jacket.
I suppress a pout. Tripping over Bobby was most assuredly not how I wanted to make my entrance for the evening.
"Hey, Wolverine." Bobby does a double take. "Wow...you look...huh." His compliment dies in his throat, realizing that there probably isn't an acceptable one he could give that Logan would take gracefully. He defaults to me.
"And look at you, Jubes! Damn! I mean wow!" And then Bobby realizes that overzealously complimenting the Wolverine's girlfriend might not be so graciously accepted either as we're both glowering at him.
"You know what? I just--I'm just gonna..." He flails his arm in a general direction that will take him upstairs and away from us.
"Yeah, bub, you do that."
"Right." Bobby steps away from me quickly. Before he heads upstairs, he shouts back at me. "Lex'll be here day after tomorrow?" His face is boyish and hopeful.
"Thank God." He disappears upstairs.
I turn to my boyfriend. "Hey."
His usual grim expression softens in a way that is reserved solely for me. "Hey."
"You look...wow." Too late, I realize I just quoted Bobby. But it was true. Logan truly cut a debonair figure when he decided to put some effort into it.
"You look beautiful, Jubilation." I flush again, only for totally different reasons. I grin like a fool despite myself. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever get used to him complimenting me.
"Ready to go?"
"Oh, yeah." I needed to get myself out of the mansion in an effort to restart this whole night and come off as somewhat grown up, sexy, and maybe even a tad sophisticated. Leaving the mansion with all it's hang-ups would be the key, I convinced myself. Logan offered me his arm and we made way for the garage.
Logan wrinkled his nose. "Do I smell twinkies?"
I was right, dinner was fabulous. The food was amazing, the service superb, the atmosphere not too over the top, and my date was, if I may say, the hottest guy in the joint. If you go for rugged--which I totally do.
"So Lex still hasn't decided which internship she wants to take. The one in D.C. would be absolutely perfect for her, if you ask me, I'm telling you the girl is perfect for politics--it's just a pity that she'll have her career across the pond instead of right here for us. But I know New York would be great and I know she's really, really attached to the city now, and it's closer to Bobby and me and all of us, so she's really leaning towards that too. And then I've got one going for me in the lab at campus, buuut--and this is my big, exciting news--Hank set one up for me in his lab. At home. For the whole summer. And if some big X-mission thing comes up there will be no lying to him about a family emergency or whatever bullshit excuse I can create."
I stop abruptly, realizing I had entered one of my non-stop talking modes. Crap.
"Sorry. I thought I told you to kick me or something when I do that."
He smiled. A full on, teeth gleaming, smug, arrogant, I'm The Man and There's Nothing You Can Do About It smile.
"Nah. Ain't polite to kick a lady--specially when she's wearin' a dress like that. Sides, I think it's cute."
I grin my own smug grin. "You think it's cute? You? Man o man, you must have it bad for me."
"It's been suggested before."
I blush again. It's been a year full of blushing. Gawd.
"So...what do you think?"
A funny, slightly panicked look overcame him.
"Uh...about which part?"
I roll my eyes, but do so with affection.
"My summer internship! With Hank! I mean, seriously, how perfect is that?"
"Ah. Yeah, why do you think I asked him if he thought he'd have some time for it?"
I stare at Wolvie in shock. "You...that was your idea?"
"Well, Beast put the whole thing together and cleared it with your school, but, yeah. I know you were stressing about how you were going to spend your summer this year, darlin'. Saw an opportunity to help. But Hank did all the work."
"What? A man conspires to have his girlfriend around more often? Not like I'm a saint or somthin', Jubes. Far from it." I'd like to take this moment to note that he still looks smug.
"Yeah, well. I think it makes you a great boyfriend in my book. Really, Wolvie. This is the perfect solution for my summer and I really was stressing about it."
"Ya don't say." His dry tone is indicative of my hapless tendency to talk incessantly about that which worries me.
"What, think you're a comedian or somethin'?"
"You know, most people don't call me on my shit on account that they're scared of me," he grumps.
"Beginning to see where you went wrong in this relationship?" I inquire.
"I think that was foregone before we even started the relationship."
I smile as Logan reaches across the table for my hand.
"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone that you've lost the power to intimidate me," I grin. "Y'know, I don't really think that's a secret anymore either," he states.
"Well, then maybe I should work on my badass image so it doesn't look so bad for you that cute lil' me isn't afraid of you."
"Then we have our work cut out for us." His grin takes on an evil teasing flavor.
"Mock me at your peril, short, muscular hairy one. I know where you sleep."
"You knowing where I sleep is definitely where I went right in this relationship--don't make me regret it." His grin, however, is an open challenge to trying to find away to get the better of him. Every time I've tried ended up with me irrefutably pinned in some new, compromising, and in the end, quite delightful way by Wolverine. I turn pink again and lose the thread of conversation.
"Anyway, I'm glad Hank was able to work something out for ya, darlin, really, I am."
I lean across the table to deposit a quick kiss on his unnaturally smooth cheek. He shaves like once a year and chose tonight for this year.
"Me too. I missed you a lot when I was in school." I try not to make a big deal--the longest we'd gone without seeing each other was three weeks. Usually we averaged every couple of days. However, when something came up and Logan had to seriously take off for one dire situation or another, I must say that his homecoming almost made up for his absence. Not every college girl has their boyfriend wake them up in the dead hours of the night, still decked out in his imposing superhero gear, eager and ready to show her just how much she was missed.
I'm suddenly eager for the dessert course to come and go so that we can finish our evening in a less public venue. I drop a suggestive hand down along Logan's thigh, enjoying watching his expression change from one of relaxed arrogance to tense with shadow of need.
"So...dinner was so nice, I might just let you take me home tonight." I breathe into his ear while my hand continues along it's path and Logan licks his lips.
"Hang on...there was a point to this dinner, Jubilation."
I frown in puzzlement. "Yeah. Another year of college down, coming home for the summer, actually getting to stay home for the summer with my internship, and nothing says welcome home like you do when we're alone--" I stop quite abruptly as Logan had just placed a tiny, velvet box on the white linen of the dining table.
I think my stomach just plummeted through the floor and into the bowels of hell. Literally, I think I've entered hell.
Now, let me be clear through my freak out. Let me be freaking transparent. I love Logan, I do, every day ends and begins with him either literally or in my thoughts. He is my best friend, my teammate, my partner, my lover, the man I'm in love with--and the kind of love that lights up my life like my powers light up the dark. When I look into the future five years, ten years and more I see myself with Logan and no other.
However, there is a goddamned timeline to this! A necessary, natural unfolding of events, that ensures sense and reason to the how and why, that means our bond of both love and friendship will last because we did things right and sane and rational and goddammit all to hell because now I'm desperately babbling silently to myself in my own brain.
Brief glimmers of excuses about finishing college flit through my brain as my voice goes the route of my stomach--disappearing down into the depths of an alternate dimension where I can't even manage to access it. My silence stretches out into what is quickly becoming infinity and a despair is quickly rising within me.
There is no easy response to this--there is nothing I can say that will make this magically go away or make this suddenly better and yes is certainly not the way to go.
It takes me a second through my panicked reverie to realize the Logan is laughing--a full on belly laugh, except that description never quite works for him. More like a full on laugh that reaches deep down and resonates in his adamatium bones.
With a quick, decisive movement he reaches over to the velvet box and pops the lid open to reveal a plain, bronze key like the kind that go to house doors.
I snap back into myself with relief. And look to Logan, grasping for an explanation.
His grin is easy and sincere and his eyes are full of humor.
"I got an apartment in the city. Couple of weeks ago. Wanted to surprise ya. I thought...that you could live there when schools starts up again next fall. With me," he clarifies.
"So...you...you're asking me to move in with you?" My mind reels, desperately trying to grasp this new concept so far from the dreaded one that the small velvety box usually stands for.
"Yes. A place for us away from the mansion, close to your school, where Lex doesn't have to trip over us. You and me, kid."
Suddenly my emotions are a tumult.
"What about the mansion?"
"We'll be in and outta there all the time regardless, darlin'. This'll be for just us."
"When will it be ready?"
His eyes are deep and penetrating. "Got the key right there. Already had some furniture moved in. Your basic stuff, nothing special. Feel free to add in whatever you want."
"So...we could spend some time there this summer?" Very slowly this abstraction of an apartment for Wolverine and I dawns into a realization and this absurd picture of domestic bliss invades my brain with the two of us snuggled up in a comfy, big bed in a room surrounded by Asian decor complete with katanas and a closet full of my favorite labels.
"Darlin,' we could go there tonight--it's barely fifteen minutes away."
"Logan...it's perfect. It's unbelievable. It's the best thing you could have done for me--I don't quite know what to say." Especially since scant seconds ago I was frozen in a freak out of colossal proportions quailing from the fear that the tiny foreboding box held a much bigger statement than a simple key. Guilt eats at the edges of my elation as I dwell on the fact that as much as I loved this man and am eager to move into a space meant specially for the two of us, a bigger commitment was beyond me at the moment.
He had laughed, but I wondered just how well he had read my previous expression and just exactly how he would react to me despairing at the thought of marrying him. Which made me think if marriage ever even entered his brain. His marital history was enough to scare any person away from the institution for an eternity.
"Christ, darlin, you shoulda seen the look on your face. I thought you were scared shitless going up against Doc Doom two months ago til I saw your face just now." He still looks extremely amused.
I have the grace to look chagrined.
"Well--y'know, Wolvie, I just thought it was, I mean, I just assumed, and it's not that I don't want to--eventually I mean, I just don't think I'm ready, and you know I love you, I just--" Logan takes pity on me and saves me with a kiss. Grateful, I let him, opting for expressing myself with my physical ardor rather than failing spectacularly at verbal explanation of all my complicated feelings tied in with all my future expectations. Thank God, Logan could be so straightforward and to the point at certain times.
"I think we can put a pin in that velvet box for a few years while you get through school and figure out what you want after that." There's a gruffness and strange sort of longing in his voice that puts a weakness in my knees.
"How did you turn into the perfect man?" I really, truly want to know because I think I'm the only woman in the galaxy who could claim the feral Wolverine as perfect.
He lets out another raucous laugh at this.
"Perfect, Jubes? This from the girl who just two week ago, screamed like Banshee at me for jumping outta the Blackbird so's not to leave the party behind?"
I immediately glare at my "perfect" boyfriend for mentioning this particular act of what I call blatant stupidity. This so-called 'party' he refers to is one of the more calamitous and desperate missions the X-men had found themselves in in a long time. He did his damnedest to ensure that I was safe and secure aboard the X-jet, before--and expressly without telling me--veering right back around to jump out the still open door of the jet as we blasted away. I watched Logan, still not fully healed from injuries already sustained, jump into nothing but air in an effort to go back for heroes left behind. He was off the grid for the next two days and I was sick with worry, after all, I was one of the few people in the world who had actually seen Wolverine brought close to the brink of death despite his mutant capabilities. When Logan finally resurfaced with X-men and Avengers alike, and in one piece, I may or may not have been so incensed that I blasted him into a wall with my pyrotechnics when he finally decided to show his dumb mug.
"Too soon, darlin?"
"I hate you and your stupid, over the top, idiotic, ridiculous, insane, heart-stopping, moronic, dumb-assed stunts!" Even I'm surprised by the venom in my voice. Apparently, it was too soon.
Logan, long immune to my anger born of fear for him, smiled at me. "Yeah, sweetheart, I really love you too." His voice was devoid of all sarcasm and unbidden tears prick my eyes.
My anger is unabated--mostly because I know that this would hardly be the last time Wolverine pulled something like this, and would not be the last time I would be terrified that my supposedly invulnerable boyfriend would find a way to die. However, my anger is not alone, it is annoyingly keeping company with all those sultry, naughty desperate needs to feel Logan's powerful, lively, muscles against me in a way that proved that he could never, ever die on me because he was too vital, too intense, too alive.
After a year, Logan immediately recognizes this certain expression on my face.
In short order, we had the bill payed, left a generous tip, and Logan was running his warm, calloused hands along my back and arms in an effort to help me put my wrap in place in a way that was slowly, but surely driving my delightfully crazy. Any vexation I was still harboring was quickly evaporating into something else entirely.
Getting a cab proved more difficult than usual, so we took off walking towards--and I grin ecstatically at thinking this--our apartment. His hand grips mine tightly and I snake my other arm around his hand-holding one and nuzzle his ear. The cool night air was refreshing and helped my brain process. Suddenly, I was vibrant with questions.
"So...when's the last time you lived with a woman, Logan?"
"Uh...that would be Mariko. Took a break from the X-men fer a while. Lived with her in Japan."
"How was that?"
"It was...perfect." A distant pain is evident on his features, one that will never quite leave him. Sometimes I feel like there are a thousand pains that will never leave him; sometimes just a certain few. She is one of those few.
My voice is soft and hesitant. "Perfect is quite the standard to live up to."
"Not that kind of perfect, Jubes. She was the woman I loved, not a roommate."
Like I said, that was quite the standard to live up to.
"When did you first think of doing this for us?"
His grin eats away at his pain. I used to think it was just me, but then Gambit mentioned to me that Wolverine smiled more easily these days.
He's chewing at his lip like he was attempting to keep his now numerous smiles in check.
"Started thinkin' about it after Canada."
I grin delightedly. "One getaway with me and you automatically think about living with me?"
"It's relaxing having your scent around. And yeah. One getaway, darlin. What can I say?"
"Y'know, Wolvie, I think you're the only person ever to say having me around is relaxing."
"I said havin' your scent around, darlin'. Havin' you around is a whole other experience."
"I should freakin' hope so." I chose to accept this is as a compliment instead of a jab. I'm just that kind of optimistic person.
Shortly after that, we arrived at the steps of a classic brownstone. Logan tugs my hand to halt my progress.
"Well, sweetheart, here we are."
The building itself is gorgeous, classic New York. A small, darker voice within me wonders how many times this building has had to be redone due to superhero-level disasters. I can already tell that it's everything I could want.
We stand together on the sidewalk, staring up at the building, holding hands.
"Wow...this is...this is more than I ever thought I could have, Logan."
"An apartment in New York and a boyfriend to live with?" His question is joking, but his tone is soft. He knows what I'm really implying because he knows me.
"I don't know what to say." Again.
"Well, darlin', I'm a simple man. You don't have to say anything." He raises his eyebrows at me suggestively and I giggle. He effectively silences me with a passionate, wild kiss coupled with a powerful embrace.
"Do you have any idea of how much I love you?" I ask.
"Probably about as much as I love you," he growls into my neck and I feel the vibrations of his body deep in my core. This was the perfect moment, the perfect, evening, the most perfect my life has ever, ever been. Small, colorful sparks float up from my hands as they clutch at Logan and pop and fizzle. I'm so happy I can't quite control it. He continues the kiss and I dimly realize that he's walked me up the stairs and pressed my body against the door of the building.
It'll be a miracle if we make it all the way up to our actual apartment.
We break away with a start, realizing our building just shuddered behind me.
"Well, there goes the neighborhood," Wolverine grounds out.
"Think we could maybe just ignore it?" I really want to go see the inside.
Distantly, we hear the sirens start.
Wolverine starts to growl.
"Alright, alright, let's go freaking save New York."
Wolverine's smile is darkly delighted. "Aw, c'mon, Jubilee, it'll be fun."
I can't help but grin in response. "Lead the way, Wolvie."