Jubilee waited in the half-light of a hallway leading into the foyer of the mansion. She cocked her head. Yep, those distant footsteps definitely sounded like the clip of Logan's cowboy boots on the tile floor.
The sound of the bootsteps came closer. Slowed. Jubilee guessed that he already sensed her presence; smelled her was a better description. He had senses like an animal, however, since she did not, she figured she could get away with this little farce. She moved from her position, started across the foyer and jumped at the sight of him.
"Wolvie!" she exclaimed in pseudo surprise. She stopped in his path. His hair was damp from a recent shower. Lately, he'd been ripping through the scenarios in the danger room. Something was eating him, but he wouldn't talk about it to anyone. Typical Logan. "I thought you were still working out."
"Finished," he replied past the stogie in his mouth. Unruffled by her sudden appearance, he changed his course to move around her. Like a strategically placed chess piece, Jubilee blocked his path.
"Where ya' goin'?" She clasped her hands behind her back and rocked back on her heels.
One eyebrow lifted. They both knew this wasn't a new game. "What's it to you?" He moved the other way and she headed him off.
"Well...." Jubilee wasn't about to let him get away. "Do you have a date?"
"Only with a few dozen pints o' beer and as many whisky chasers."
Date with beer okay, date with female not cool. So far so good. "You going out on your scoot?" That was a stupid question seeing that he wore faded Levis, the usual black tank top and a black motorcycle jacket.
Logan's lazy expression took on a suspicious gleam. "Hadn't planned on walking."
He wasn't making this easy. "To Harry's?"
Logan had to be sniffing for trouble to go to Augers. "Tough hang out."
"S'okay. I'm in a mood tonight." As if he realized that he wasn't going to get past her without physically picking her up and moving her aside, he stopped and removed the stogie from his mouth. "Stop with the hokey pokey darlin' and tell me what cho' want."
"I'm going with you." There she'd said it, and didn't ask. He had no choice. But when he opened his mouth she knew he was going to say no like he had every other time. She grabbed the lapels of his jacket in both hands and looked into his face. "Oh please, Wolvie," she said and used her best pitiful Bambi face. The corner of his mouth quirked. Was he smiling? Jubilee wondered. Maybe she was winning on some level. "Pleeaassse," she cajoled. "Friday night TV is boring and everyone's gone out to see a dumb romantic movie. All that kissing and smooching." She made a face.
"And that's bad?" Logan asked, his eyebrows climbing up a notch and Jubilee was surprised to hear him chuckle. She let go of his jacket and stepped back, measuring his expression. He was smiling. He pushed up the brim of the cowboy hat with the tip of one finger. "And you're thinkin' that comin' with me ta' the bar is going ta' be fun?"
"Isn't that why you go?" she asked, then immediately wondered at the shadow that crossed his expression.
"Sometimes, pum'kin. Sometimes. I don't think the Auger Inn is yer kind o' scene."
It wasn't a good scene for anyone, she thought, aloud she said: "I'll just drink soda pop and listen to the jukebox music, maybe dance a little. I promise I won't be any trouble."
Logan laughed at that. "Darlin', you're a world o' trouble. Ya' can't help it. I guess that if I said no you'd follow me anyway?"
Jubilee hadn't thought of that but she nodded anyway, crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip. "I'm old enough now, I can go on my own."
Logan shook his head. "You should get a flamin' Oscar for this performance." He flung an arm around her shoulders and she snuggled up to him and didn't try to contain her triumphant grin.
Checkmate! she thought.
Logan's Harley was parked out in front of the mansion. He straddled it and Jubilee sat on the back, put her feet on the chrome pegs then wrapped her arms around him--not that her arms could go all the way around him. At least tonight she wouldn't have to share him with anyone. We're are going to have so much fun!
* * * *
An hour later Jubilee sat on a barstool and wondered if she should have stayed at the mansion and zoned in front of the tube. She rested her chin in her hand and blew up at her bangs. So far, all she'd done was play a few rounds of pool with Logan, and switched off between watching sports on the big screen TV and watching Logan pulverize all comers in arm wrestling matches. All these posturing, grunting, sweating men were just ridiculous. The testosterone level in this room was way off the chart. What was next? Belly bucking contests? While it was the current fashion for men to get in touch with their feminine side, Logan simply didn't have one.
And what was with these women? She glared at two females hovering around Logan. Did he really need a cheering section? Logan soundly out arm-wrestled another luckless contender and the two women clapped, cheered and jumped up and down. Jubilee rolled her eyes. The loser of the current, a young good-looking guy, didn't appear too happy, especially since Logan didn't have any problem putting him down.
"Tough luck, bub," Logan said, leaning back in his chair and resting a muscular arm over the back, the mannerism unconsciously arrogant. "Next!"
Logan ignored the young man's angry glance as the waitress appeared with another round of Boiler Makers. Yuk! Jubilee grimaced. She didn't know how he drank beer with whisky chasers. They were like, totally gross.
"You okay, darlin'?" he called to her.
"Oh yeah, just peachy," she mumbled, "not." She then found herself under intense scrutiny from Logan's cheering section. The two females sauntered over and flanked her, sitting on the stools on either side of her like they were about to interrogate her. Jubilee felt vaguely claustrophobic.
"Hey kid, why don't you introduce us to your daddy," said the willowy brunette with green eyes. Her blue jean cut-off shorts were barely decent.
Jubilee hunched on the stool and glowered. "He ain't my daddy."
"Don't want to share your brother then, huh?" the other woman said. "I promise we'll treat him well." She was blonde, stacked and wore a tiny leather miniskirt and a matching halter top. She wasn't Logan's type at all.
"He ain't my brother either, so piss off sister." Jubilee clenched her hands, and resisted the urge to paf them.
"Aren't you a little young for him?" the brunette quipped, her eyes on Logan.
"Aren't you a little old?" Jubilee shot back.
"Now listen here you little...," the blonde began.
"Is there anything I can do for you ladies?" asked Logan from behind.
The women deserted her to fawn over Logan. She sipped her soda and stared morosely at the trio. But to Logan's credit he sent the two women back to their table with a fresh round of drinks on him. Then he and a big biker dude named Butterfly, no doubt named for a tattoo on his right biceps, started a game of pool.
"Forget them," Jubilee grumbled and went to the jukebox. She didn't like the country western music favored by the majority of the bar's patrons, ran a finger over the list of songs and found some outdated rock and roll. If she heard Achy Breaky Heart one more time she was going to hurl. She loaded the jukebox up with quarters and queued up a half dozen songs.
Jubilee began dancing to an old song from The Cars called Best Friend's Girl. Soon she found she had a dance partner: the young, good-looking guy Logan had earlier beaten at arm wrestling. Perhaps he wasn't a good arm wrestler, but he was a skilled dancer, and he was pretty cute. He took her hand and spun her around. It appeared they started a trend when a few more couples joined in.
After a half dozen songs, her partner left for a beer and Jubilee slipped outside into the parking lot and sat on the bumper of a parked car. She stared at tire tracks pressed into the dirt. This evening was a disaster. In many ways Logan still treated her like a thirteen-year-old, and she had no idea what to do about it, or even if she should do anything. She suddenly realized why those two women thought he was her brother; he acted like a big brother.
"Great," Jubilee muttered. She looked up at the sound of footsteps. It was her dance partner. "I was getting hot in there," she said.
"Should get hotter out here, babe," the guy replied. "Your brother should keep a closer eye on you."
"What is it with this brother thing. He's not my flamin'... Ack!"
The guy grasped her upper arm and jerked her to her feet. He tried to wrap his arms around her and she sidled out of his embrace.
"Get your slimy mitts off!"
"What? You sure were friendly inside," he slurred. Judging by his red, flushed face, he wasn't expecting a rejection.
"Not interested," she said. "Get lost."
"Oh and what? Your brother is going to beat me up?" he scoffed. "I can take on that runt with one hand tied behind my back."
Jubilee laughed. "Oh yeah, right. Like maybe you and an army of other guys. But I don't need him to protect me."
He grabbed her jacket, pulling her to him, trying to press his mouth against her. His breath stunk of whisky. Jubilee jerked away from him.
"That was a big mistake," she said and gestured. Paf!. A shower of sparks and lights flew from her fingers. "You're lucky I didn't charge 'em up."
"Argh!" The guy pawed at his face and staggered back. He fell to his knees, his hands over his eyes.
"Serves you right, ya' jerk. And I'll have you know that Wolvie ain't my brother! He's my... my... date!" Jubilee left him writhing in the parking lot dirt and stalked back into the bar, sat down and ordered another 7-Up. By the inquiring glance that Logan sent her way she could tell he noticed her absence. She wanted to stick her tongue out at him, but didn't.
The door flew open, slammed against the wall and shivered on its hinges before closing. Logan's gaze jumped from her to the guy and he slowly laid down the pool cue. His Harley dude friend grinned and also put his pool cue aside. Oh oh, this is going to get ugly, Jubilee thought. The guy's angry gaze swept the bar and settled on her. He was completely unaware that he had the undivided attention of one of the most lethal men on the planet. The guy walked up to her and grabbed her hand and yanked her out of the chair.
"No chick, especially no skanky mutie, leaves me in the dirt. Come on, honey, you and I are going to get to know each other."
"You didn't learn your lesson, did you...?" she began.
The guy wasn't listening. He turned and started to pull her along with him but then he rebounded abruptly backwards. It was like he'd hit a wall. Not a wall, Jubilee saw, it was Logan who stood in his path. She didn't bother to hide a smile. It was about time this evening got interesting.
"Can I do something for you, Bub?," Logan inquired around the stogie hanging out of the corner of his mouth. To one side, Butterfly stood casually straddle-legged with his arms crossed.
"You can start by getting out of my way you stunted shrub."
Logan's right fist jackhammered forward.
"OOF!" The guy's mouth formed a round "O" and the expression on his face was an unintentional mix of comic surprise and sudden pain. He released Jubilee's hand, and with his eyes bugging, he doubled over and wrapped an arm around his stomach.
Now with his adversary at eye level, Logan stepped forward with a hard right hook on the side of the guy's cheek and jaw. Against adamantium laced knuckles, the guy's jaw cracked and he dropped like a stone to the floor. "Ee-Youch! You know that's gotta hurt." Jubilee grimaced and peered down at the moaning guy for a moment. Butterfly chuckled.
Chairs scrapped against the floor as the guy's four buddies stood and stalked toward Logan with dangerous glints in their hard expressions. One guy pushed the long sleeves of his flannel shirt up muscular forearms. Another cracked his knuckles, a third smiled unpleasantly. Jubilee noticed that one of his front teeth was missing. Logan spun towards them, crouched slightly, his hands clenched
Jubilee retreated a safe distance, then found herself flanked by Wolvie's cheering section.
"Hey, your brother is pretty good," the brunette said, her gaze frankly admiring.
"You ain't seen nothing yet," Jubilee replied, not bothering to correct the woman. "He's the best at what he does, and what he does best isn't very nice."
"That may be, but don't you think he's a little out numbered? Butterfly there can help him, but they're going to get stomped," the blonde said. "Shouldn't we do something, like call the cops?"
"Call the cops? Are you joking? That'd ruin Wolvie's fun! If anything, call an ambulance, those guys are going to need it," Jubilee said.
"You're awfully confident about your brother's ability."
"Just you wait," Jubilee said gleefully. "He's about to open up a super-sized six pack of whup ass on these guys."
"I think we're out of here," said the brunette. "I don't want to be here when the cops show up. I have too many unpaid parking tickets."
"Suit yourself." Jubilee shrugged. "But you're going to miss the show."
The two women slunk away and Jubilee ducked behind the bar. She noticed the bartender crouched down at the opposite end. In a hushed voice he spoke into a cell phone in his hand. She shrugged and peered up.
"This is my little brother," one big lumberjack-like guy stated, pointing at the coughing, sputtering guy still curled on the floor. He clenched his hands and thick cords of muscle knotted up his forearms. "An' I want you to apologize to him, and then I'm going to take your face off."
"My beef ain't with you, bub," Logan replied.
"It is now..." he big guy never got another word out. He couldn't with Logan's adamantium fist stuck in his mouth. Blood flew, streamed from his cut mouth and he reeled back, spitting out teeth.
Butterfly stepped in, taking out a guy to Logan's left. More bikers hanging out near the dartboard saw two of their biker brethren in trouble and joined the fray. Jubilee ducked a beer bottle sailing over her head. It smashed wetly on the wall behind her, and showered her with stinky beer.
"Hey, that wasn't nice!" She extended her hand and paffed the offender who shouted and batted at the sparks bouncing around his face like angry fireflies.
Jubilee spotted Logan right in the middle of the fray. A feral half-smirk twisted his lips as he stood his ground amidst flailing fists and falling bodies. A few of the other guys got punches through, but not many and they didn't slow Logan down. Inflicting pain on Logan was akin to kicking a big grizzly bear in the butt: it only pissed him off.
Nearby, Jubilee overheard a blonde biker dude talking to his old lady. "Let's get out of here. That little dude is big trouble. I punched him between the eyes, even had my brass knuckles on and he sputtered a moment then got up...."
Their voices faded away. Jubilee looked back to the fight. Some big jerk holding a chair was sneaking up behind Logan. "No you don't!" Jubilee shouted and paffed him in the butt. He yelped, snatched at his butt and dropped the chair on his foot. "Serves you right!" she said, then saw something come at her from the corner of her eye. The last thing she remembered was exploding pain on the side of her head before the bar wavered out of focus then everything went black.
* * * *
Logan kept his claws sheathed, enjoying the fight for the pure fun of it. He ducked a clumsy right hook and drove forward with a left to the stomach and an upper cut to the chin. The guy fell back into a buddy, both of them going down. Then he saw a beer bottle strike Jubilee on the side of the head. Time to retreat. He waded through the fight towards where she had gone down behind the bar. Someone blocked his way. He wrapped a forearm around the unlucky guy's neck and jabbed a hard right fist into his face. The guy sagged and Logan tossed him aside. As much as he wanted to stay for the fun, Jubilee's well being came first. He edged around behind the bar.
"It's time to exit this pop stand, darlin'," Logan said to her limp form. He knelt next to her and rolled her over. He moved aside her hair and inspected the lump on the side of her head. Nothing too bad, still, there was going to be a bruise along with a few folks back at the mansion who weren't going to be happy with him. When were they ever, he reminded himself. "Just livin' up ta' their expectations." He picked her up--she hardly weighed anything--and slung her over his shoulder. With one arm--it evened up the odds--Logan fought and elbowed through the fighting mass, and kicked a few asses on the way out just for good measure. His bud, Butterfly, was doing fine along side his gang buddies.
Once in the quiet parking lot, the fight inside a muffled clamor, Logan felt Jubilee stir.
"Mmmfph," she mumbled then groaned. "Wolvie? Wolvie! Why am I hanging upside down? Wait! We're leaving?" She wiggled and he swatted her butt.
"Settle down, darlin', you got a bad head bang there."
"Wolvie!" she shouted again indignantly. "You...you put me down!" She pummeled his back with her fists. "Put me down right now you muscle bound creep!"
"Whatever you say." He complied, dumping her into the dirt of the parking lot where she sprawled on her butt, her goggles hanging around her neck. She glared at him from between disarrayed locks of black hair.
"You big oaf!" she shouted. Logan figured that if she were a little cat she'd be spitting. She got up, stood chest to chest with him and poked a finger at him. "You get back in there and finish what you started."
It took all of Logan's considerable willpower not to smile. "The situation was gettin' a bit rough, kiddo."
"Rough?" She glared at him. "When did that ever stop you? I've been bored out of my mind all evening, and just when it's getting interesting, you leave!"
Logan stared at her for a startled moment then burst out laughing. "You're scarin' me darlin 'cause you're starting to sound like me." Still chuckling he shook his head, then stopped and stared sharply toward the west. A second later came the distant wail of police sirens. "That's our cue ta' leave. What would I tell the rest o' the gang if they had to bail us both outa jail for brawlin'? I'd never hear the end o' it from Jean." He extended a hand and helped her to her feet. They both turned as the door opened and two guys walked out. One had a swollen eye, the other a broken bloody nose. "You ain't leavin' ya' hairy freak," one of them said and pulled a butterfly knife, clicking the blade expertly into place. Logan walked towards them, hands clenched at his side. A friendly fistfight was one thing, pulling a knife was another. "Yer out numbered bub, leave while ya' still can." "Outnumbered?" the other one snickered and spat at the ground. "Outnumbered by what? You and your little sister?" Logan brought his fists up. SNICKT!
The backlot light gleamed down the length of six adamantium claws.
"Like I said bub, outnumbered. But if ya' wanna piece o' me, I'd be happy ta' let you try and take it." The guy holding the knife stared, mesmerized for one bug-eyed moment while his mouth worked silently.
"You're on your own, man, I put my money on the short hairy guy," his companion finally managed and turned to run back into the bar. In a rush, he smacked into the door, staggered back, shook his head like a dog, then opened the door and disappeared.
"Uh, yeah," stuttered the remaining guy the knife. "Uh, no bad feelings, eh?" He ran into the bar after his friend.
"They're smarter then they look," Logan muttered and retracted his claws. He found Jubilee sitting on the Harley and staring up into the sky, her expression unreadable. "What's your flamin' problem?"
"I don't get this sister thing," she said.
"Sister? Darlin' I think that head bang may be affectin' yer thinkin'." Logan straddled the Harley and shook his head and Jubilee settled behind him. He had no clue what she was talking about, but then most of the time he didn't. Figuring out women was no easy task. He didn't even know if it was possible.
* * * *
Back on the road and heading toward the mansion, Jubilee had to admit she was feeling a sleepy and her head throbbed. She hugged against Logan and appreciated his warmth. The evening hadn't been a total loss.
Then again, the night wasn't over yet.....
End of Part 1.
See Part 2: Tagging Along With Wolvie,
for the end of the story. Just when Jubilee
thinks the night is over, Gateway, Cable and a hoard of angry cyber-bugs
make an unexpected appearance. Where's a can o' raid when you need it!