"I've got one word for you two." Jubilee folded her arms and glared. "Behave." The two men shuffled, grumbling. "I mean it."
"I will if he does," Angelo conceded. There was a pause. They both turned to glare at the third member of the party.
"Okay, okay," Logan grumbled. "I won't start anything. Let's go already."
"Okay." Jubilee looked at the Jeep, then down at her stomach. "Somebody help me get in."
Logan moved to lift her into the front seat, but was smoothly intercepted by Angelo, who opened the back door and extended an arm to pull her in. "The back seat, in the middle," he said firmly. "Safest place in the car." He slid in beside her, and fastened the seatbelt she couldn't see to buckle over her steadily expanding stomach. Then he tossed the simmering Wolverine a smug grin. "Are you ready to go?"
They were off to buy, as Jubilee had put it, baby stuff. Paige had written out a list with all the things the baby would need in the first three months, and another list of all the things that were not strictly necessary but might be handy and/or fun. The second list was much longer. Paige had, originally, intended to come along, but she and Jubilee had agreed that this was as good a time as any for Logan and Angelo to start getting used to each other.
The problem, of course, was that though the two of them were actually quite similar, their attitude to Jubilee was completely different. Logan didn't like the fact that Angelo was involved with Jubilee, didn't like the way he was always "hangin' all over her", and REALLY didn't the fact that they were sharing a bed. Despite Jubilee's repeated denials, he was firmly convinced that it was a long-range plan on Angelo's part to seduce his little girl. Angelo, on the other hand, made no secret of the fact that he disapproved of Logan, primarily on the grounds that he was always "running off" and leaving her to fend for herself, when any fool could see how much she loved being fussed over a little. She didn't NEED to be looked after, Angelo was quite clear on that, but she did LIKE it.
Needless to say, neither understood the other's attitude, and there'd already been a lot of friction.
Things didn't get any better when they arrived at BabyBoom.
Angelo, in an effort to be friendly, offered to take he Jeep and find a parking space while Logan and Jubilee got started on the shopping. Logan scowled as he climbed out, scowled while Jubilee kissed him goodbye, and scowled all the way into the shop. "I dunno what ya brought him for, darlin'," he complained. "I can help ya with whatever ya need."
"I know you can." She kissed his cheek soothingly. "But Angelo's already painted the baby's room and offered to help me assemble the furniture, so I do sorta hafta let him help pick it out."
"*I* coulda done that!" Logan looked more miffed than ever.
Jubilee sighed, wondering how she was going to cope when she had TWO little ones to cope with. Logan could be such a baby when he was cranky. "Yes, but you didn't offer. Angelo did. I'm sure he'll let you help if you want to."
Logan grumbled, and fished out the list. "We said we'd meet him at the baby clothes, right?" She nodded. "This way."
They headed for babywear, receiving a series of dirty looks on their way. "What's their problem?" Logan grumbled after the eighth haughty sniff and glare.
"Oh, I get this all the time." Jubilee shrugged philosophically. "Whenever I'm with a guy, anyway. See, they think you're a, quote, disgusting old pervert without even the common decency to find a girl over the age of consent to knock up, unquote."
"That's what some woman said to Sean the other day, anyway." Jubilee picked up a tiny pink sleeper-suit. "Oh, this is adorable! I wonder if they have it in blue." She rifled through the rack, completely oblivious to the simmering outrage in human form that stood beside her. "Look, Wolvie, little sheep! And they're smiling!"
Logan took a deep breath, and tried to calm down. It didn't matter what those people thought. The important thing was that he was out with Jubilee, helping her do something important to her. Right. Focus. "They're cute, darlin'. What about these ones with the little happy faces?"
"Ooh, those are so cute!" Jubilee sighed happily, looking at the tiny outfits in her hands. "I can't wait."
"No rush, darlin'." Logan sighed, his heart aching for her. She was just a little girl herself, she shouldn't even be thinking about this stuff yet. Bastion would PAY for what he'd done, he swore silently. He'd-
"Hmp!" A sweet-faced old woman glared at him as if he was a bug. A slimy one. "That's just shameful," she muttered to her companion, unaware that he could hear every word. "That little girl can't be more than sixteen! And he's old enough to be her grandfather!"
That was it. Old ladies or not, he wasn't going to take that・
Angelo paused before entering Babywear, gazing fondly at Jubilee. Neon maternity wear being scarce, she was currently wearing a short, soft white dress over blue-gray leggings, with a cute little grey backpack. She turned a little, now in profile, and he grinned as it suddenly occurred to him that with her rounded stomach, in that outfit, she looked like a particularly cute cloud. Logan, on the other hand, looked more like a stormcloud about to spit lightning and hailstones. He followed the icy gaze and saw two old ladies talking animatedly to a third, all three shooting venomous glances towards Logan and Jubilee. Ah. That again.
For one brief moment, he was severely tempted to leave Logan to stew for a while. Let him take the heat for Jubilee's state for a while. Then his eyes tracked back to Jubilee, and he sighed. She'd get upset if there was an argument, especially with a trio of harmless old ladies, and Angelo had devoted a large part of the last several months ensuring that no-one got a chance to upset her.
Putting on a cheerful smile, he sauntered over to them, deliberately walking between Logan and the gaggle of senior citizens. "Hi, sweetheart," he greeted Jubilee, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "See anything good yet?"
"Look, little smiling sheep!" She held it up, smiling herself. "Aren't they adorable?"
"Very." He tipped her head back and kissed her lightly. "So are you."
"Flatterer." She smiled at him. The old ladies twittered. Logan glared. Angelo grinned, and returned his attention to Jubilee, who pointed to another display. "Want to grab some of those little vests for me?"
"White, pink, blue, or yellow?" He inspected the pastel array closely. "We're getting cotton ones, right?"
"Right." She held up a red outfit with Pooh on the front and cooed admiringly. "You pick the colours."
Angelo found a package of blue ones and a package of yellow ones sized for 'newborn' and headed back to where Jubilee and Logan were involved in a heated debate as to whether or not Betty Boop sleepers would work on a boy. "I'm with Logan. I like 'em."
Jubilee assumed a tragic expression. "Et tu, Angelo? Admit it, you're ganging up on me!" She grinned. "Okay, I'll get them, but I'm getting the Darth Vader ones as well."
"Luke Skywalker," Angelo disagreed. "Why start him off on the bad guy?"
"Obi-Wan," Jubilee bargained.
"Yoda. Like your pyjamas."
"Deal!" She grabbed the proffered outfit and added it to the pile in Logan's arms. "C'mon, we've got enough for now. Let's go look at furniture."
In the furniture section, a pattern quickly developed. Jubilee and Logan took turns suggesting various styles, often getting into heated argument, while Angelo bailed up a hapless shop assistant with a series of pointed questions in which the words 'safe', 'sturdy' and 'non-flammable' featured prominently. The pattern continued into Babycare, where the arguments over dollar value versus quality were nicely counterpointed by another series of queries, this time involving the words 'hypo-allergenic', 'scent-free' and 'animal-friendly'. Eventually a set of furniture was decided on, the order was placed, the smaller things were purchased, and they headed out of the shop again, leaving a trail of empty shelves and a shop assistant in desperate need of a lie-down and a restorative drink.
Jubilee was feeling the need of a rest herself. "Can we stop for a while?" she huffed. "My back's starting to hurt."
"O'course, darlin'." Logan immediately guided her towards a nearby café. "Want me ta get you a drink?"
Jubilee thought about that, and grinned. "Yeah, sounds good・ but I gotta go to the bathroom first. Ya don't appreciate how much fits into a normal bladder until there's a head resting on it, ya really don't." She pointed. "There's a nice clean set of publics across the road. I'll go there. You two order me a drink and something to eat, okay? I'll be right back." Without waiting for the inevitable disagreements, she waddled across the road and headed for the restrooms. Nice, clean, disinfected restrooms with fresh paper towels. There really was nothing like pregnancy to make you appreciate a clean toilet seat.
When she walked out again, business done, she nearly ran right into Ev, who was ostensibly staring at a display of books in a store window. Of course, since the odds of him accidentally stopping outside that particular restroom at that particular moment were close to nil, she resigned herself to the fact that he wanted to talk to her, and there was no way of getting out of it.
"Hi, Ev. Doin' some shopping?" She smiled at him. He was still one of her best friends, after all.
"Uh・ yeah." He shuffled a little. "I wanted to・ I dunno・ apologize, I guess." He held out a small package. "I got you this."
She opened it, and smiled. Inside was a tiny blue teddy-bear, who wore a white shirt bearing the legend 'It's a Boy!'. "It's adorable, Ev. Thanks."
"I'm sorry I've been a jerk lately," he said softly.
A few yards down the street in one direction, Angelo looked up and scowled. "Damn."
"What?" Logan twisted around in his seat to look. Jubilee and Everett were standing close together, obviously deep in conversation. "Whatsa matter, scared the competition might be stealin' a march on ya?"
"No, but that's what HE thinks." Angelo stood up. "I'd better go and-"
"And what? Looks ta me like they're doin' fine without ya," Logan said maliciously. He'd much preferred the clean-cut, pleasant Everett as a potential boyfriend for Jubilee to a chainsmoking ex-gangmember like Angelo, and wasn't averse to showing his preference. He wanted the best there was for his little girl, and Angelo definitely wasn't it. "Sit down, kid. Let her do somethin' on her own fer once, without hangin' all over her." Sit down, his tone said, or I'll make you.
Angelo sat, with one more frustrated glance at the two. Had he been more prone to analyzing his own and other's emotions, he might have been able to explain that while Ev appeared, on the surface, to be the better option for Jubilee, he didn't yet have the emotional maturity to provide the support Jubilee and her baby would need, while Angelo himself was not only willing, but able to do so. He would have realized that rather than being jealous or insecure in their relationsip, he was worried that Ev, without meaning to, would badly upset Jubilee. As it was, he simply sat and fretted, without any clear knowledge of why it bothered him so much.
Jubilee smiled up at Ev, and tucked her arm into his. "Apology accepted, dude. Come and have lunch with us."
"I guess so・" Ev rested his hand on hers, gazing down at her with an odd expression in his eyes. "I was kind of hoping you and I could have lunch and・ talk."
Uh-oh. "Sure we can talk. Ange has to shut up sooner or later," she said cheerfully, deliberately misunderstanding.
"I meant just the two of us."
Jubilee sighed. "I don't think that's a good idea, Ev."
He turned her to face him, looking sadly at her. "Did I completely blow it for us?"
"There never was an us, Ev," she said a bit desperately. "We flirted a bit, but that was all. We're buds, remember?"
"I don't want to be 'buds'." He scowled. "Jubilee, you know I've had feelings for you for a long time. I just-"
Jubilee felt a sudden surge of completely justified fury. How DARED he try this now? After all this time? "If ya had so many 'feelings' for me, Ev, then just out of curiosity why were you chasing Gaia a while back? And Monet?"
"I was・confused. The whole thing with M-Plate and the Amalgamator-"
"Yeah, well, I was abducted, tortured, and raped by a bunch of crazed Sentinels!" Jubilee glared at him. "Don't you start spouting that I-was-traumatized-and-confused crap at me, Thomas, 'cause I wrote the book on it. In case you hadn't noticed, Ev, while you were trying to sort out your crazed hormones, I was finding out I was pregnant!"
"And I want to help!" He took her hands gently in his. "I know I've been a jerk, Jubilee, and I want to make up for it. I'll help you any way I can, okay? I know it hasn't been easy."
"It hasn't." Grudgingly, Jubilee got her temper under control. He had been through a lot, after all. She had to remember that he wasn't as used to this stuff. "I appreciate the offer, Ev. Ya can start by helping me across the road, if you want." She offered him a slightly strained smile.
"Sure." He took her hand, squeezing it lightly. "I'm going to make it up to you."
"Ah, forget about it." She smiled at him, a genuine smile this time. "Everything happens for the best, ya know? Yer doin' great at school, I'm happy, and Michael's gonna have a dad who's crazy about him already."
Ev paused, looking down at her with a suddenly baffled expression. "What do you mean?"
A few yards down the road in the other direction, Weasel nudged Dorian in the ribs with one elbow. "Check it out."
"What?" Dorian shoved the last pizza into the backseat of his new second hand car, and looked around without interest.
"It's the geek, with his little geek girlfriend. Looks kinda like they're arguing." Weasel grinned. "And check her out when she turns around."
Dorian looked, and grinned. "Hey, maybe they're arguing over whether it's his!" Weasel sniggered, and Dorian smirked. "Weas, I think we should go say hello to our little geek friend on our way past." Grinning, they both slid into the car.
Jubilee winced and let go of Ev's hand, wrapping her arms around her stomach as she chose her words with care. She didn't want to hurt Ev, but he had to understand. "Angelo's nut's about Michael. He sits there and talks to him for hours." She smiled fondly. "He even reads him the sports section. He's gonna be a great dad, I know it."
"So・" Ev's voice was slow and leaden. "You're really serious? About Ange, I mean?"
"Yes." Prevarication was out of the question. "I am."
"Why, Jubilee?" She could hardly bear to look at the heartbreak in his eyes. "We've always had feelings for each other, right from the beginning. I know there have been some rough spots, but I always thought that in the end we'd be together."
"So did I, once." She looked down, her eyes falling to the rounded bulge of her stomach. "But I ran out of somedays, Ev, and ya missed it. I was alone, and scared, and I needed someone I could count on to be there for me." She looked up at him, her normally clear blue eyes cloudy with emotion. "He never asked for anything from me, Ev. No somedays, no in the futures. I was his friend, and he would take care of me because that was what I needed, without any other reason that I needed him. And I love him fer that."
"How can you?" His voice was anguished. "I-"
"This ain't ABOUT you!" Jubilee flared, stamping her foot. "This is about me, and my baby, and my life, okay? I love Ange, and that's how things are. You missed the boat, Ev, and you got nobody to blame but yerself." Swinging around, she stepped off the pavement・
・directly in front of Dorian's car.
<*g*> You guys didn't wanna hear any more, right? I'll just leave the story there.