Lair of the Stealth Bunnies
History Chapter Five
They ran into Rogue on the way to the Danger Room, and when they told her where they were going, her face lit up with an evil grin and she said she’d meet them there. She showed up, dragging Remy in her wake. The thief was trying to protest, but was losing the argument, if he had even had any excuses Rogue considered legitimate. “Why, sugah, this is just the thing for you,” she cooed when he squawked that he hadn’t been to sleep yet. “Some good exercise will take care of that insomnia.”
“It’s wasn’t insomn--” and Remy caught himself just in time and wisely, if unhappily, gave up the fight.
Rogue propelled him into the Danger Room, a deadly gleam in her eyes., “This’ll teach him a lesson,” she muttered to Jubilee.
“Wanna bet?” Logan asked.
Rogue cracked her knuckles. “Well, if IT doesn’t teach him a lesson, AH will!” She stalked into the room.
“Are they a couple again?” Jubilee asked.
“Beats the hell outta me, kid. I’m not sure THEY even know.”
It was a great workout, Jubilee decided afterwards. Just like the old days, she and Wolvie had teamed together. It was SUPPOSED to be them as a team against Rogue and Remy, but Rogue seemed more determined to get in her own share of licks against the Cajun.
“I still don’t understand them,” Jubilee said to Wolvie as they walked back to his cabin. She was trying to stay upwind form his cigar smoke. She didn’t like the acrid smell, but on the other hand, he just wouldn’t smell like Wolvie without the scent of cigar smoke clinging to him. It was strange, both hating and loving the same smell, with the same intensity. She swung her showerbag in time with her steps. She was looking forward to a soak in that huge tub herself. “I think we won, though, don’t you?”
“Ya could call it that. Though I’m not sure setting Rogue’s hair on fire with one o’ those pafs o’ yours was fair.”
Jubilee shrugged. “Since when’ve you been so worried ‘bout fair? ‘S not like I’ve got much of a chance against her up close. ‘Sides, I put it out.”
“You gonna tell me where you had that bucket of water stashed?”
She batted wide, innocent eyes at him. “C’mon, Wolvie. A girl’s gotta have SOME secrets.” She skipped a smug step. “Think she’s real pissed?”
“I’d avoid her for a bit. I think she’ll be fine, ‘s long as this hairdresser lives up to the Cajun’s boasts.”
“He does. Remy told me about him.” She swung her bag again. “And mebbe Rogue will be so happy he saved her ‘do that she’ll stop being angry with Remy.”
Logan stopped walking and stared at Jubilee for a moment. “Ya mean ya did that on purpose ta get them back together?”
Jubilee shrugged, but couldn’t keep the wicked grin off her face. Logan laughed outright -- not one of his chuckles, but a roar of laughter. Jubilee was delighted. “Jubes, darlin’, you are too dangerous for your own good.”
“Why, thank you,” she said in a coy simper and bounced ahead of him into the cabin, bee-lining for the tub. “Hey, Wolvie! There’s a woman in your bed.”
“Yeah? Just one?”
“Well, there’s a dog there, too, but I didn’t know you were into that type of stuff.”
“Ya know it.” She slammed the bathroom door shut.
Logan sighed. “You know, some day, I’d really like to come home and use my tub without havin’ ta wait in line.” He sat on the edge of the bed and nudged Eve, gently enough that it wouldn’t wake her if she was deeply asleep.
She cracked open bleary eyes at him. “Mmm. Logan.”
“We too loud for you, darlin’?”
She made an indecipherable noise, then tried again. “Logan. Do someth’n f’r me.”
He tilted his head at her. “Somehow, I don’t think the rest of the team would be too pleased with me.”
“What’d he do?”
“He was being so nice. Even gave me a cup of coffee, which I should’ve thought was weird, ‘cause he was telling me to rest, but giving me caffeine. Should’ve been a real tip off, right?”
“He slipped something in your coffee,” Logan guessed.
“Kicked in just as I got back here. So you just go back there and kill him for me, huh?”
Logan brushed her hair away form her face, tucking a lock behind her ear. “I just may have ta go buy that man a drink. You know you wouldn’t’ve gone back ta sleep otherwise.”
Eve buried her face into the pillow. “’S a conspiracy.”
“Well, we hadn’t planned on it, but sounds like we might have to come up with one.” He ducked the pillow she threw at him. “What’d he say ‘bout the ankle?”
“”Sprained. And to keep off of it for a few days.”
“That’ll be a chore. Might have ta break it ta keep you down.”
‘You’re a big help.”
He gave a lock of her hair an affectionate tug and she caught his hand. Their fingers tangled together and he really couldn’t tell which one of them wasn’t letting go.
“You know,” Even said softly after a long moment of not saying anything, or even looking at him, “I did just kind of barge in on you here. If you want, I can stay in the mansion.”
“I don’t want.”
For the first time since she arrived, her smile lit up her whole face, chasing away the fatigue and fear and pain. He had forgotten how beautiful she was, without that extra emotional weight. He saw it so rarely. He leaned closer to kiss her and she sat up to meet him --
--and something thumped against the bathroom door. “It’s too quiet out there,” Jubilee called. “Geez! What, ya guys need a chaperone or somethin’?”
Logan rested his forehead against Eve’s. “Last I checked, we’re a little old for chaperones, Jubes.”
“Yeah, but I don’t wanna walk out into somethin’ out there. I’m a minor and shouldn’t be seein’ stuff like that.”
“Ya could be somewhere else, too,” Logan said, but he stood up, his hand passing over Eve’s short hair in a brief stroke before stepping away.
“Yeah, but I’m not!”
“For a minor, ya can be a major pain in the ass, kid.”
“I’m hurt, Wolvie. Really, I am.” She was giggling loudly.
“You’re gonna be, if ya keep this up,” he warned. “And you --” He pointed at Eve, “--keep your mouth shut. She doesn’t need any encouragement from you.” But he was having a hard time keeping the grin off his face, and from the light in Eve’s eyes, she knew it, too. He managed to stalk out of the cabin before he lost the battle and the grin took over.
He had settled down on a patch of lawn near the pond to work on his bike when he saw Eve come out of the cabin. She looked around until she saw him and came over. Logan watched her, under the guise of poking at the engine. She was moving with the slow walk of someone who was hurting, doped up on meds, and loathe to admit it.
“Should you be up?” he asked, when she dropped down on the grass a few feet away from him.
“Don’t wanna sleep.”
“Nightmares,” she said shortly.
He carefully focused on the bike. “Wanna talk about it?”
He grunted, but didn’t push, as she knew he wouldn’t. Because he understood nightmares. And because she had been there for more than a few of his own, too. He glanced at her. She was stretched out on her back on the grass, leaning back on her elbows, watching the dog chasing butterflies. Her expression was tightly centered around a tiny smile at the dog’s antics, as if she focused firmly enough on the dog, she wouldn’t have to think about anything else.
Such moments like that were rare.
He let her have it.
Eventually, she sighed and laid back, piloting her head on her arms. “That’s a beauty of a bike. You taking her to the Americade?”
“Thinkin’ ‘bout it. How’d ya guess?”
She snorted. “Oh, let’s see. It’s early June and you’re working on a bike. You’re not off saving the world. Oh, and ‘Americade’ written in big black letters on your calendar was a hint, too.”
He chuckled. “I s’pose it would be.”
“I miss the Adirondacks,” she said faintly.
She had been living in the Adirondack mountain range when he had met her, shortly after the fall Americade motor rally in Lake George. “I promised to take Jubes with me this year. We could take the jeep, though. Trailer the bike. If ya wanna come with us.”
From the heavy silence, he could tell she really wanted to. She had been as much at peace in her mountains as he was in his, and leaving them with the threat of never returning had almost killed a part of her. Finally she sighed. “No. There’d be people who’d recognize me if I went home.”
“You’d be safe with me, darlin’.”
“Yes. But I’d still be nervous. And you wouldn’t have much fun, if you were on edge because of me.”
He sat back and studied the bike, absently wiping his hands on a rag. “Prob’bly just as well. I don’t think I’m going to have this ready in time.”
Logan looked over her in surprise, faintly angry at her catching his lie. She sighed. “Logan, you’d have that ready if you had to completely rebuild it between now and then. It’s part of your single-mindedness. You’re just backing out because you think you should baby-sit me.”
“You just got here, Evie. Wouldn’t be right for me to leave.”
“I’ll be here when you get back, Logan.” Then after a long silence, she added, “I promise.”
He took a deep breath. Let it out slowly.
They sat in another loud silence.
“Logan, you will take that child and go,” Eve finally said in one of her lecture voices. “Because you promised her, and she adores you, and you will not break that promise to her because of me. Ya hear? You need to spend some time with her that’s not wrapped up in saving the world. And she’s feeling a little... replaced now.”
“I thought she was doing pretty good at hiding it.”
Eve shrugged. “She was. But I’m real good at reading body language.”
Logan grunted. After another moment, one which wasn’t as silently loud, he picked up a ratchet. “Guess I’ve got some work to do, then.”
Even didn’t answer. It was one of the things Logan liked about her, that they could be together without feeling the need to talk. So he was a little surprised when she broke the quiet by saying his name hesitantly, then trailing off, as if she was trying to take it back. He didn’t stop cleaning the part he was working on, but his hands went on automatic. “What is it, darlin’?”
“I didn’t kill him.”
“The guy I had trailin’ you?” He heard her nod. “Don’t ya worry ‘bout it, Evie. I’ll take care of it.”
“No, Logan. He’s dead. But I didn’t actually... but I didn’t save him, either. I hurt him real bad, though --”
“Good,” he said to the bike engine.
“But it was the fire that killed him. Have you ever heard anyone burn to death, Logan?”
“I did care about him, once,” she whispered. “And, oh, Logan, how he screamed! I couldn’t stand it. I tried to get him out, but the fire was too bad. And he screamed. I tried to tell myself that he was the one who set it, that it was supposed to be me burning and screaming in there, but I couldn’t stand it. So I tried to go back, and I couldn’t. And he screamed and screamed --” She stopped talking abruptly, almost choking the last word.
“Evie...” he said again, shifting, starting to move towards her.
“I couldn’t build a campfire the whole time I was on the road,” she said, and her voice was so cold and alien that he froze in the midst of going to comfort her. “And the nightmares...”
The cabin door slammed, and Jubilee came across the lawn. “Can I join?” she asked.
“Sure,” Eve said in a voice that held no hint of anything she had just been feeling. “Pull up a patch of grass.”
Logan followed her cue and returned his attention to the bike. He listened with half an ear to their chatter, more to the sounds of their voices than to the actual content.
“Now that cloud looks like a castle.” That was Jubilee.
“No, it doesn’t. Looks like a banana split.”
“Now, that one looks like a puppy.”
“Yeah... yeah, Evie, you’re right. That’s the tail, right? An’ it’s got floppy ears?”
“You got it.”
“And that one there looks like Cyke on a bad hair day.”
Eve burst out in delighted laughter. Intrigued in spite of himself, Logan tilted his head back. “Where?”
“Right there.” Jubilee pointed.
He squinted at it. “I don’t see it, kiddo.”
“You’re looking the wrong way. C’mere.” She patted the ground next to her. He came over and stretched out beside her. She curled up against his side, resting her head on his shoulder and began pointing. “See, there’s his chin, and his visor, and the... well, bad hair.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess it does look like it at that. Little bit, anyways.”
Jubilee yawned. “It’s your turn, Wolvie.”
He started to scoff that he wasn’t any good at games like this, but he didn’t quite have the heart. “Lessee... that one looks like a giant cotton ball.”
Jubilee giggled and slapped his chest. “Wolvie!”
“Awright, awright.” He gave in. “’Kay, see that one over there? Looks like a cat. An’ not a normal cat, mind you. It’s one of those smarmy rich-folks cats, with a face like it ran into a parked car. ‘Cept this one got its tail bit off by that cloud-dog Evie saw earlier. That’s prob’bly why it ran into the parked car, y’see, ‘cause the dog bit it. Which a’course, serves the cat right, ‘cause no self-respectin’ cat would’ve let a dog sneak up on it in the first place, right, Jubes?” Jubilee didn’t answer, and Logan craned his head enough to look down at her. “Jubes?”
She was asleep.
“Take her to the Americade,” Eve said again, her voice drowsy. “Don’t use me as a wedge between you two.”
“I wasn’t doin’ that,” Logan protested.
“Not intentionally, but the end result would be the same. “ She reached out and smoothed his hair, combing her fingers through it. He closed his eyes and enjoyed it. “I’ll be fine, Logan. I’ve got the entire X-Men team here to look after me.”
“It’s why you came, right?”
“No,” she said softly. “I came back for you, too, y’know.”
“No. I didn’t know.”
There was another of those loud silences.
“Evie, you have a way of only sayin’ what you have to,” he said gently.
“I’ve kinda had to live that way,” she reminded him, untangling her hand from his hair.
“And I kinda thought we were past that. At least, at one time, we were.”
“Habits are hard to break.”
She sighed. “I really am going to kill Hank. I can’t think straight with whatever he gave me.”
“I guess that’s fair enough, too.”
“But you’re not very pleased about it.”
“I wasn’t the one who left, Evie.”
“No. You weren’t.”
“You ever gonna tell me why?”
“Logan, not now. Please.”
He tried to tell himself that she was hurting, and medicated, and exhausted, and half-starved. He tried to listen to the agony in her voice, tried to respect it.
But he couldn’t quite do it.
He nudged Jubilee away. “Get yerself up, darlin’. I got this bike to work on, if we’re gonna be ready to leave next week.”