"Jubilee..." started Ororo.
"Oh no! I am so not going to bed! Wolvie has guests, and I intend to be there. He never had any visitors. Pretty please, Storm? I'll be quiet, I promise!" pleaded Jubilee.
"Jubilee, I am sure Logan would prefer..."
"That I'd be here! Hey, I'm his partner, remember? Besides, who will bring them their drinks? And empty the ashtrays?"
From the look on Scott Summers' face, or rather, the one she guessed he would have without his glasses, he didn't look forward to Logan's "guests". After years of having the Canadian around, Scott couldn't but feel a little bit stressed about that evening.
All started with a little skirmish in which the X-Men had to confront the Avengers. Fast enough, the disagreement had been settled and things had returned to normal. The Avengers weren't bad guys, they even had mutants among them and never treated them differently. That both of them were Magneto's children, the Scarlet Witch and Pietro, wasn't a problem either.
But somehow, this encounter with the Avengers had triggered a chain of events, the details Scott didn't know all about, which lead to this very evening.
So now, Logan, mister Bad-Attitude himself, was having guests. Of course, upon asking the Professor for using the facilities, Wolverine had received a heartly agreement from the X-Men's mentor.
Not that Wolverine himself seemed that happy about the whole gig. Still, who could say for sure when he was happy or not? Besides the firecracker, that is.
"Alright, Jubilee. But just for a while. Is that understood?" Ororo Munroe looked sternly at the teenager. Of course, even if she had tried harder, she doubted she could have made Jubes retreat to her room.
For Jubilee, it just felt like Christmas. While all the other teens had to get to their room, for security reasons, most didn't argue, she could stay around and meet her "partner"'s guests.
For that very special, and unheard of before, event, the mansion's living room had been slightly rearranged. The only thing Logan had asked for was a card table. He didn't have to mention the ashtrays : Jubilee had seen to the details.
She had also provided (with Xavier's credit card and Jean's help) the best brand of cigars you could legally buy, many packs of Canadian beers and a special treat for her Wolvie : a bottle of Yukon Jack. That bottle of Canadian whisky, bearing proudly it's "Black Sheep of Canadian Whisky" label had gotten her attention : it was sooooooooo like her Wolvie.
Well, it was about time now. Logan's guests were to arrive in a few minutes. Jubilee looked around one last time to make sure she didn't miss anything. She really meant it to be a nice evening for Wolvie.
The professor came in and exchanged a few words with Ororo. Probably about Jubilee's presence. He smiled at the teenager, which was a clear approval of the situation.
Jean didn't even try to hide her curiosity. By her side, Scott felt a bit nervous : Logan's so-called "friends" had never been but a lot of trouble. This could be a long night. But Xavier seemed quite at ease, so maybe there was no reason to worry...
A car pulled in the driveway. The door bell finally rang. Jubilee rushed to open the door.
"Hi! You must be Wolvie's friends, right? I'm Jubilee, his partner." announced Jubes to the guests.
A tall blond man with very broad shoulders and blue eyes smiled gently at her. He didn't have time to answer.
"Hey, aren't you Captain USA?"
"America. Captain America." he corrected. The two guys by his sides grinned.
One of them Jubileee already knew for having met him while tagging along with Wolvie. The black hair, the patch over the eye, the military-like outfit and the stoogie in the corner of his mouth were distinctive signs she easily associated with Nick Fury, a big-brass guy working for some secret agency. And mostly, one the the few people Logan did respect.
The other man was also blonde like Captain America. Same blue eyes. But he was a bit slimmer and taller and looked a bit younger. Right now, he was elbowing Cap. "Good thing you don't work for Canada. We'd have to nickname you CaCa." he joked.
"I knew I shouldn't have asked you to come along, Hawk," sighed Cap.
"Ah, but you need me to check your back, ol' man."
At that moment, the professor rolled by the door to greet the guests.
"Good evening, gentlemen. Welcome to our place."
"Good evening, professor Xavier." replied Cap. He slightly turned to Fury. "I think you already know Nick Fury."
The professor nodded. Cap turned to the third man. "And this is Hawkeye."
The man leaned forward to shake the professor's hand. "Yeah, we met a few times. How you doin', prof?"
"Quite well, thank you." Xavier invited the guest to proceed to the living room. "Wolverine will join us in a few mintues. Jubilee..."
But she already ran upstairs to tell Wolvie that his guests were arrived.
As Logan walked in the living room, Jubes on his heels, he stopped to assest the scene before him.
Captain America was seated by the professor's side, talking quietly. Ororo was treating Nick Fury with a drink, trying her best to avoid the smoke from his cigar. In the middle of the room, Hawkeye was immersed in a chit-chat with Jean and couldn't keep his eyes on her face, and Scott was clearly annoyed by the guy.
Cyclops was annoyed, so Logan's mood brightened a little. He didn't look forward to that evening. Although he really respected Cap and Fury, he didn't know much about the third guy. Yeah, that archer was mostly known for being a first class smart-ass. Not a half-bad archer, Logan couldn't but admit. But when you are the best at what you do, which included close combat AND being a bad-ass, Wolverine couldn't like a guy throwing arrows and puns from a secure distance. Oh well, maybe the guy could play poker?
"Hey Fury. Cap." said Wolverine as he walked in the living room.
"Glad to see you, Logan." replied Captain America, always such a nice guy. "Nick thought we needed an extra player, so Hawkeye came with us."
"Yeah well, I'm a little short right now anyway, so I thought what the heck. Your money will be put to good use, I promise." ironized the archer.
Logan stared at Hawkeye, trying to size the man. He was stared back at just the same.
"I can shorten you right now, circus guy," groaned Wolverine.
"When you're done with the staring contest, could we play?" boomed Fury, already sitting at the table, drink in hand.
"We will let you play. If you need anything..." announced the professor as a cue for the other X-Men to leave the room.
"Thanks, professor. Everything will be all right," replied Cap, as he looked sternly at Hawkeye, making sure he got the message.
Jean, Scott and Ororo left the room with the professor. They didn't get that far, though. Who would want to miss that game? By now, no one believed it would be just a cards game. There was electricity in the air. The professor decided to retreat to his room, sure he was that if anything happened, which he doubted, he would know as soon.
"I'll get the drinks," chimed in Jubes.
Wolverine was a little bit annoyed that Jubes had managed to stay around. She bugged him from the first day she heard about him having guests for a night. Bugged him so well, that he couldn't refuse. His only hope had vanished when Jubes had happily announced him that Ororo had agreed for her to stay for a few.
"Already got one." answered Fury, shuffling the cards. He briefly looked at the teenager, wondering why the hell she was still in there.
"I'll have orange juice, thanks." asnwered Captain America, always the smiling guy.
Hawkeye settled for a cold one. So did Wolverine.
Jubilee left the room to get the drinks. Logan made his mind : he would send Jubes away as soon as she would be done with the drinks. A poker game with these guys wasn't something for her to witness. A poker game was for men.
"Don't you X-people get kids to bed at night?" pointed out Nick Fury.
"Yeah. When she's legal, call me. I'll volunter." commented Hawkeye, not quite sure if he was pushing a bit to far.
After all, it wasn't a secret that the teenager was Wolverine's occasional side-kick. It was also well known in the hero's gig that the Canadian wasn't hard to push to far. But hey, the archer had a reputation as well.
"Listen, bub," growled Wolverine, his resolution gone. "Jubilee could kick yer ass so fast you wouldn't even notice it."
"I'm sure you talk from experience," retorted the Avenger.
"Cool it, Canuck." grunted Fury, dealing the cards.
"Clint, that will be enough." ordered Captain America to his partner.
"Gee, you guys don't know how to have fun. Why would I wonder? The three of you must sum up to 200 years at least."
"He learned to count. Wonders won't cease," cracked Logan. If that guy was to play bad-ass, Wolverine was in with him.
Jubilee came back and handed the drinks, then sat on the couch nearest to Logan. The mood had obviously changed in her absence. Taking her role as co-host, she returned to the kitchen to grab some chips for the players. Make them eat something meant less words games.
Jean sat at the kitchen table with Ororo. Scott, a bundle of nerves, was guarding the door.
"Bets, guys. Remember, I need a delay, a winner and a bet amount. The winner will be the one nearest to the delay. Winner's take all."
"Jean, I never expected you to indulge in taking bets," calmy said Ororo.
"Storm, do you know Hawkeye?"
"Of course I do. He's one of the Avengers with a... less positive reputation."
"Yeah. I heard him once in combat. I thought Logan was bad, but that archer can crack the worst puns any time. I say he will push Logan to far in.... 10 minutes. Logan's the winner. 150$."
"Is that your final bet, Scott?"
The leader of the X-Men nodded. For once, he was with Wolverine. The way that Avenger had looked at his fiancée, he could only wish Logan would kick his ass and hard.
"Ororo?" asked Jean after noting Scott's bet.
The Weather Goddess pondered for a minute. She didn't like the idea of betting on the winner of an incomming fight. She didn't like it, although she found it funny. After all, there could be no harm coming from it.
"I will bet on Logan, of course. I give him.... 20 minutes. And I'm in for 100$."
"All right. My turn. I say, Logan, we agree on it. I think you guys underestimate his self-control and Fury and Cap's presence. So I give him 30 minutes. And I bet 150$."
"I already plan what to do with your money, ladies," laughed Scott.
Jubilee came back with peanuts and pretzels. She put a bowl next to Logan then sat down on the couch nearest to him, watching the players.
"C'mon, Canuck. You shittin' us?" grunted Fury.
"What's yer flamin' problem?" asked Wolverine.
"You got your side-kick behind you."
"Well, so? Are you saying I'll like, cheat?" cried out Jubes, indignated.
"Rules, kid." explained Wolverine.
"The only place I'll move is at the table! Gee, did you guys got an overdose of testosterone or what? You know, women can vote in this country! Well, they didn't when you were in your prime I guess..." she ranted.
"No playing poker with kids," stated Hawkeye.
"Oh yeah. You're all so afraid that I would..."
"Okay. Have a seat. Nick, please deal the cards," cut in Captain America.
"Are you out of your mind, Cap? Or did you forget taking your geritol? She's jail bait!"
"Calm down, Hawk. Women fight along with us for long now. The least we can do, is let them play if they want to."
"Yeah, well, it's not as if I never played strip-poker with a few of íŽem..." laughed Hawkeye.
"And they let you win. Chicks are real smart," retorted Wolverine.
Jubilee hurridly took a chair and sat at the table. She knew how to play poker, it was one of the first things Wolvie had taught her. And she sure learned from the best. Logan knew it as well and wasn't afraid for her to not be able to get a few hands.
Everyone examined their cards and dropped a few plastic chips on the table. They finally called.
"Ah! I knew it! No one can bluff me! You are all so cleaned out!" A petulant Jubilee grabbed the firsts bets joyfully. She had won the first hand!
Logan groaned. Fury grunted. Hawkeye snorted. Captain America smiled at the teenager. "Where did you learn to play?" he asked.
"Here. I learned from the best."
"And that would be...?" inquired Cap.
Logan smiled interiorly, he was proud of his Jubes.
"Sam." She looked at Wolverine. "But Wolvie taught me how to bluff," she hurridly added.
Hawkeye choked on his beer. "Cute. Now, I think it's *Wolvie*'s turn to deal," he laughed at the mention of the Canadian's nickname.
Wolverine glared at the man facing him at the table. He was that close to beat the crap out of him. And unwillingly make Scott win his bet in the process.
"I'm sure Logan did well. Just have some pity on us, will you?" smiled Captain America.
Jubes really liked that guy. Besides, he was pretty cute and acted like a gentleman. No wonder he was the leader of the Avengers. She still wondered how such a nice guy could deal with a jerk like that archer.
"Ok, now what? We're in trouble," announced Scott.
"How come?" asked Jean, still at the table, her watch in hand and checking the time for the bets.
"You won't believe it," he added.
"What is it, Scott?" she insisted.
"Jubilee is playing with them," he answered blantly.
"What are they saying?" inquired Ororo with a bit of shame. But hey, she had a bet into that matter!
"I can't understand from here. Jean....? "
"I can't, Scott, and you know it. It's one thing to listen, it's another to pry on minds."
Sigh. "I had to ask." whispered Scott.
5 minutes later
"Jubes, you go to bed."
"Ah c'mon, Wolvie. Why, just because I like, won all hands..."
"Logan's a bad looser, kid. I know him for a long time, y'know," commented Fury, stoogie in his mouth.
"Tell that in my face, Fury."
"I have to agree with the ground squirrel here. You should hit the hay," added Hawkeye. HE was a bad looser.
"Hey you, mister Look-at-ME. No ONE calls names to my Wolvie!" shouted Jubilee, throwing a few sparks at the Avenger's face.
Captain America helped his fellow Avenger back to his feet. "You asked for it. Shut up, Clint."
"Is that how X-folks entertain guests? Gee, even the Skulls..." he didn't finish his sentence, seeing Jubilee pointing her hands at him. It was one thing to have fun, another to get in a brawl at the X-Mansion and with a teenager. Hawkeye was a sometimes a jerk, but sure not a stupid one. He sat back.
"Deal." ordered Jubilee. Which did Captain America.
20 minutes later
"Ok guys. I'll show you a new game. An easier one," announced Jubes as she took the bets once again. She didn't win all hands, but like 2 out of 3. But she really heard something in the kitchen earlier that would get their attention.
Fury looked at his watch. Damnit, too early to pretend it was late and call it a night. Logan caught Fury's eyes and smirked. He had just watched the time on the clock over the fire place for the same reason. Besides, they only played for what, 30 minutes?
Captain America, always the nice guy, keep chatting with Jubilee, whom he found a quite intelligent teenager. Of course, he could see Wolverine's influence on her : it was obvious in the way she played cards, as well as in the way she talked. The kid had surely witnessed more than she should for her age by tagging along with the Canadian. In another hand, it sure gave her confidence in herself. No guy at this table, not a single one of them impressed her. And they weren't the less impressive of them.
"Listen carefully, dudes..." Jubilee leaned slightly over the table, and explained the rules of the new game.
When she was done explaining, the guys looked at each other.
"I'm in," announced Fury.
"Am too," said Captain America.
"Count me in. What about you, Robin Hood?" asked Wolverine loudly.
"Anythime, *Wolvie*" replied Hawkeye as loudly, mischief in his blue eyes.
"Robin Hood. He called him Robin Hood." commented Scott.
"Can I add to my bet amount?" asked Jean.
"Of course, not. Everyone already lost for the delay."
"Oh. What about we start it again, since no one won?" proposed Jean.
Ororo didn't hesitate. "Logan land the first punch, 10 minutes, 100$".
Scott pondered, shoke his head. "Hold on..."
***"At least, no one experimented on ME!" shouted Hawkeye.***
***"Yeah, what about some adamantium experiment up yer $#@?" Wolverine yelled back.***
"Logan, 2 minutes, for 200!" announced Scott.
"Logan, 1 minute, for 300!!" Jean noted the new bets.
Ororo pouted. "Not fair. I bet before they yelled. Besides, Jean, where is your *you underestimate Logan's self-control*? ONE minute, you bet ONE minute!"
Jean grinned sheepily. Oh well, money was involved!
"Wolvie, cool it. Why do you get all worked out for that guy? Didn't you tell me once he was a joke clad in purple?"
Hawkeye stared at the teenager. She was pushing it.
"Yeah, kid. You're right. Wonder what vaccine they gave the Avengers to deal with him everyday," smirked Wolverine.
"The same they experimented on you?" asked Hawkeye. He was loosing it, badly. He had to get to the Canadian and fast.
"Ok guys, new drinks. Everyone's the same?"
Jubilee walked to the kitchen to get the drinks. She found Jean, Ororo and Scott.
"Wow, what are you guys up to?" she asked while getting the drinks.
Jean explained the bet to Jubilee.
"Hey... I won like.... 400$ out of these guys... can I bet?"
*** "They lost the key to your cage?"*** yelled Hawkeye in the other room.
*** SNICK ***
"It's plastic chips, Jubilee."
"So what, Scott? Are you like those macho guys, refusing to play fair with a woman?" ranted Jubes.
All women in the kitchen stared at him. "Of course, not. What's your bet?"
"I say..." She paused, evaluating the odds. "That Hawkeye guy ain't bad. But sure, Wolvie is all ready to cut his throat..."
*** "Heard your sharpen yer arrows in yer @[email protected]$" *** came from the living room.
"So?" pressed Jean.
"I say, none. For 400$." she finally answered.
"Jubilee, dear. You have to at least chose one." explained Ororo, frowning at her own last sentence. She heard it once... where was it....
"Hey, you didn't say so! Is that the way you X-Men want me to learn to play fair? Changin' the rules as it fits you?"
Oops. She kinda got a point there.
"Ok. Jubilee bets on none, for 400$. No time." sighed Jean.
*** "What was the last zoo you lived in? Learned to play poker with monkeys?"*** shouted back Hawkeye.
Jubilee went with the drinks.
"Hold it, guys. Drinks!" clamed Jubes as she took her place at the table. She handed a beer to Hawkeye.
"I wouldn't give that clown any drink. Heard he can't hold it." laughed Logan.
"Thought you only drank fresh blood?" retorted Hawkeye.
They finally resumed playing poker. And words games. Captain America and Nick Fury let the two super-bad-ass annoy each other, enjoying the verbal fight. As long as it stayed at a verbal level, there was no real harm.
"No wonder they recalled you as West Coast Avenger leader."
"Yup, at the time they had to feed you with Puppy-Chow for breakfast!"
It lasted for a very long time.
In the kitchen, Ororo, Scott and Jean were rather desesperate.
"Scott. I'm afraid Jubilee will win that one."
"Naw. What about we start new bets?" he suggested. "It should happen at any moment now."
"This would not be fair to Jubilee. She did bet as well."
"So?....." tried Jean.
Ororo frowned at her friend. "We keep the bets as they are."
10 minutes later
"Well. It's been a very... unusual night. But I have to call it a night nonetheless," announced Captain America as he stood from the table.
*** Loud collective sight coming from the kitchen ***
"Yeah. Same here. Thanks for the... game, Canuck."
"Ye're welcome, Fury."
They stood and walked to the door.
Hawkeye turned to face Logan. "I won."
Wolverine glared back. "No, you didn't."
"Rematch, ground squirrel."
"Anytime, circus clown."
"Next time, at the Avengers' Mansion."
"I'll go too!!!" chimed in Jubes.
"No you won't, kid." growled Logan.
"Logan's right, Jubilee. It was fun, but it's not really something I would like such a pretty woman like you to witness," added Captain America.
"Ok, so tell me, how will you get your shares of my bet with the loosers in the kitchen? Did you yell at each other for the whole night just for fun?"
"She learned from the best."
"It worths at least my 100$ share," laughed Hawkeye. "Told you I was short lately?"
"You'll need it for the rematch," warned Logan.
"I'll keep it just for you, baby face."
They all shook hands.