DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized
work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by
Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story,
so I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights (for the
full text see Stan's Soapbox in some of the May 1998
comics, e.g. Generation X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel
characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story and a few original characters listed in the end
notes are (c) Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com).
You can download this and copy it for your entertainment,
but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers
on you. Please do not archive this on your website without
informing me first.
There's a Tavern Near the Town belongs to the continuing
series, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik; it interconnects
with a few other stories, but should be understandable on
its own. Within the series, it comes after Ergo
Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry and Lights
in the Dark, and before Something
Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue.
You can find the other Tales archived on "Fonts
of Wisdom," "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX:
The Average Website," and "Stacy's
Ergo Bibamus 2:
There's a Tavern Near the Town
Harry Morell had lived through several eventful decades of
life before he decided to settle down and buy a little 19th
century inn where Graymalkin Lane met Route 116 outside Salem
Center in New York's Westchester County. He refurbished the
place, gently taking care to ensure a viable compromise between
preserving as much as he could of the historic building and
providing the kind of fittings expected by modern-day patrons
(who would have thanked the landlord neither for the 1940s
toilets and wash-basins he had found when he moved in, nor
for authentic reconstructions of the original restroom fixtures).
The bar's patrons were a mixed lot that included commuters,
bikers, even the odd backpacking tourist, for Harry not only
had a comfortable ambiance to offer, but his range of beers
also included a good selection of European brands for the
detractors of American brewery. First-time visitors asking
for a Budweiser were liable to be asked whether they wanted
'the real deal' from Ceské Budejovice or its namesake from
Milwaukee. And part of the reason for that was the tastes
of the bar's regulars -- Harry's Hideaway was the prime watering
hole of the students and faculty of the nearby Xavier Institute
of Higher Learning (and School for Gifted Youngsters), many
of whom came from abroad and had very definite views on US
beers. But what was remarkable about the students at Xavier's
was not their predilection for European and Canadian brewing,
but their clandestine activities as costumed vigilantes. Knowing
who they were -- the 'superheroes' called the X-Men -- Harry
chose his staff with an eye to trustworthiness so that his
guests could continue to see the Hideaway as a place where
they could let their hair down without anxiety. A place where
the more obvious mutants die not have to disguise their appearance
most of the time.
Molly the barmaid had seen some stranger-looking guests in
her day -- two of them were covered in blue fur from head
to toe -- but the two who came in through the door an hour
before closing time on this particular evening looked 'normal'
by comparison. The male half of the pair was Logan, a broad-shouldered
Canadian with unfashionably long sideburns and a strange,
cat-like hairdo that most other people would have achieved
only with several ounces of gel, but which in his case grew
naturally. His age was indeterminate and his height was less
than average, and appeared even less than it was because of
his half-hunched posture, but even without that his companion
was about half a head taller than he. She was an attractive
woman in her early twenties with a bright white streak in
her unruly auburn hair, and her accent betrayed her origin
in the Deep South.
Harry had known them for years: Logan -- the X-Men's Wolverine
-- had started coming to the bar eight years ago. Back then
his regular drinking pal had been Kurt Wagner, whose fearsome
exterior -- he literally looked like a demon from hell --
belied his gentle personality. The woman, who was never called
anything other than 'Rogue', had come in a couple of years
later, and when, not all that long after, Nightcrawler moved
to England, it was she who was to be seen with Logan at the
bar most frequently.
Logan and Rogue sat down in a nook, ordered their first drinks
-- a Holsten for the lady, a Molson Extra for him -- and leaned
back to talk. The background music, a mellifluous medley by
the German cyber-bard Android Webber was soft enough not to
be a distraction.
"Ya won't hear protests from me, darlin'," Wolverine replied,
"now you're the big-shot team leader, ya can afford invitin'
me more often!"
"Ha! An' get sacked for misuse of funds to pay for your drinkin'
habit." She leaned back and smiled. "But thanks for stayin'.
It's not much fun havin' t'stay behind when the others are
out havin' a good time."
"And ya wondered why I didn't want the job."
"Wolvie sugah, ah never really bought that line about you
not havin' the makings of a team leader. Thanks for finally
admittin' the real reason. Cheers!"
They laughed. Logan relaxed against the wall and looked around
the room. "Ya know, Rogue, I think on of the things that's
going to bother me most about the new arrangement is not bein'
able to come here. Won't be easy to find a hangout where we
can relax as we can at Harry's."
"Yeah, ah know. We had some great nights here. Still, hope
springs eternal. Maybe there's a cozy little country inn just
waitin' for us in West Virginia."
Wolverine drained his glass (Rogue still only was half-finished
with hers) and fetched another beer. "Funny, us usin' Maggie's
old base, him bein' an old enemy and all," he mused. "Plottin'
the downfall of the free world from that very place. Guess
we're really takin' to heart that the new outfit is s'posed
to be an outlaw operation."
"Oh willya let up, Logan? We've talked this through a few
times, Magnus said he's sorry." And remembering she had to
be fair, she added: "An' you apologized for tryin' to kill
Wolverine gave her the kind of indulgent smile that can easily
be interpreted as a taunting one. But she knew him well enough
to see what was coming.
"Still defensive about bein' with Mags, darlin'?" he asked.
"Relax, easy on the hair-trigger reactions."
She sighed. "Reckon you're right Wolvie. Heck, ah could've
said what you just did myself. It's just that you an' some
of the others gave us such a hard time last year that I'm
still a bit sensitive about it."
"Well, you bringin' him in to live with ya took a while to
get used to. An' I admit, it also took me a while to accept
that he's changed."
"And ah know that you had cause, Logan. Don't think ah'm
not grateful for you makin' the effort. It's just ah was so
happy that Magnus was back with us, an' so many of my friends
either tried to ignore him or kept makin' stupid remarks.
An' that riled me."
"You're a passionate woman." Taking advantage of his absence
from the smoke-free Mansion, he pulled a cigar from a pocket
and bit off the end. He then lit it and continued between
the first puffs. "Make no mistake, darlin', for all our guff,
we all cared about you, and most of us came around to feelin'
happy for you an' Mags a bit earlier than you realized. It's
just that, well, your reactions had a way of invitin' people
to rattle yer chains a little."
"Yeah, and like a fool ah keep fallin' for it. Anyway, Logan,
maybe we'll only stay there for a while and move elsewhere
eventually. But it seemed such a waste not to use the place
if it's available."
"It was nice of Magneto to offer the place," he said. "Made
a good impression on the others. From what they say, I guess
it goes a long way to showin' that he trusts us and we can
She playfully relieved him of his cigar, took a few puffs,
pulled a grimace and handed it back. "Not for me, thank you
Logan laughed. "At least I won't have to hide 'em from you
at our new hang-out!" He looked at her fondly. "So, darlin',
feel happy with ol' silverhair?"
Rogue was mollified a little. "So you care after all," she
said with exaggerated wonder. "Ah'm not feelin' too bad...
Life with Magnus is not what ah expected it to be."
"Life with another person rarely is," Logan sagely agreed.
Rogue stuck out her tongue at him, then became serious again.
"Well, my ideas about that sort of thing were a bit rosy an'
romantic. The Gone With the Wind syndrome, ya know,
it kinda warped my perception. Ah looked at Raven and Irene,
they impressed the heck out of me... It was easy to see their
love as the real deal, till death do us part and all that."
Her face fell into a faraway expression. "And for them it
really was... Ah knew it didn't always come easy to them,
but they didn't always let on just how much work they had
to put into their relationship."
She took out her wallet and from it pulled a few laminated
photographs, shuffling through them for a particular one.
"Ah took this myself, years ago, at a family outing. It's
pretty much what ah aspired to..." She put the little stack
on the table before him, and Logan saw Mystique and Destiny
sitting under a tree on the bank of the Mississippi, happily
smiling into the camera. Raven Darkhölme was leaning against
Irene Adler, her smooth indigo cheek in intimate contact with
the pink one of her lover, which was showing signs of wrinkles.
Seized by a sudden curiosity, he went through the other pictures
while Rogue took up the thread of her explanation. There were
two photographs of the team, and three more of members of
Rogue's complicated family: her 'foster brother' Kurt and
a pregnant Amanda at the Christmas party half a year ago,
Mystique at the beach with Val Cooper, her new life-partner
(Valerie was lying on the blanket with her head resting on
Raven's lap), and Raven and Val's daughter Irene Cooper with
the cake at her first birthday party July last year.
"Y'know, Wolvie, after he left me in the Savage Land, ah
sometimes dreamed of what might've been. Daydreams, and ...
real dreams." She leaned forward towards him, with her elbows
on the table. "Real rosy, really romantic... Ah tried not
to let y'all notice, but Magnus was on my mind constantly,
at least till ... Asteroid M. After that, it was nightmares
for months. But a few nights the happy dreams came back, and
ah actually welcomed 'em."
Logan looked up from the photographs and smiled at her. He
habitually liked to show display prosaic gruffness which was
actually not that far removed from the down-to-earth style
that typified Rogue's behavior most of the time, but he was
not unappreciative of her allowing him a rare glimpse of another,
more sentimental side of hers. "So it really was something
like a dream come true for you when you two finally got together,
"Ah thought so. And the first few months were rather dreamy,
once you got over my friend Logan's wisecracks." The contrast
between her impish smile and her almost misty-eyed expression
was striking. "Course reality turned out different from my
dreams. After the initial glamour wore off, ah mean. Adjustin'
my life to him didn't come as easy as ah dreamed it would,
but once ah got past that... It was more work than ah'd expected,
but also more satisfyin' in unexpected ways. What we have
has become more real and better, and the more ah got to know
him, the more glad ah am ah made the effort. And that Magnus
the same thing for me."
"Must've been quite an adjustment for him, considerin' how
long he was single," Wolverine could not help remarking before
ordering Rogue's second and his own third drink.
"Maybe not as long as you, 'bub'. And he's younger'n you
too!" She giggled, then turned because the drinks arrived.
"Thanks, Molly. No, let me pay. Ah'm sure we'll have at least
one more later."
Rogue took a first sip after Molly left for another table,
and then said: "Anyway, the latest thing we have to adjust
to is not really our fault, but because of the team reorganization.
We've been in that lodge for less'n a year, and now we have
to move once more."
"I'd say that you two, damn, we all had to move a lot in
our lives, But you did a nice job on that place, I can understand
ya don't want to leave it."
"At least the Prof told us we can keep it, to use when we're
visitin' here. Well, maybe we get to stay in some home for
more'n a year eventually."
After sampling their drinks, they turned to other matters.
"We still have to think of a name for our team," Rogue pointed
out. "If the home team goes legit we really can't use 'X-Men'
no more, can we?"
"Guess not, darlin'. And most of the other good X-names are
taken. X-Factor, X-Calibur, X-Force, X-Terminators..."
"Ah'm not even sure if ah'd describe them as that good ones,
not all of them." Rogue made a face. "So that leaves us with,
what? X-Pansion Team? X-Pediency?"
"X-Celsior?" Logan suggested helpfully.
"X-pealidocious," Rogue countered, and sighed. "Maybe we
should look to other letters of the alphabet besides 'X',"
"Hmm, ya mean if we're not usin' Charley's initial we can
call ourselves 'Rogue's Raiders'?"
Rogue had to laugh. "Suckin' up to me is not gonna getcha
anywhere, Wolvie," she said, waggling a finger under his nose.
"At least that name beats 'Wolverines Wusses'!"
"We'll think o' something, eventually."
"Hopefully before we go into action for the first time. Ah
remember Bobby tellin' me once that Scott came up with 'X-Terminators'
on the spur of the moment during their first mission as X-Factor...
Speakin' of Cyclops, ah guess that for you at least there's
one advantage about us leavin' Westchester. Ya won't have
to tiptoe around him 'n' Jean no more."
He looked at her wearily, but also somewhat warily. "Ya noticed
that, huh?" he finally ventured.
"Logan shug-, er, Logan, you always used to be right in Cyke's
face before, The way you behaved after Scott and Jean returned
to the team was too big a change. Wanna talk? Are you all
right?" Rogue's face became more serious and she leaned forward.
Somewhat hesitantly she laid her hand on his. He tensed for
a moment -- her being able to touch him without wearing gloves
still was too new to be taken for granted. It was less than
half a year since she announced the good news that she had
learned to control her absorbing power.
Logan grunted, but under her concerned gaze he finally relented.
"Well, you all know that their marriage hit the skids last
"Common knowledge," she said. The fact that Scott been obliged
to move out of the Boathouse early in October and had only
returned there when he and Jean took counseling at the beginning
of the year had only come as an open admission of something
the others had already known.
"An' a lot of you caught what had been goin' on between Scott
an' Betsy. I mean, there was talk amongst some of the boys,
so I reckon you noticed it too, usin' your female intuition."
"Nobody mentioned it openly 'cause Jean clearly didn't want
us to, but yes, there was talk behind their and the Professor's
"Did ya also guess about Jeannie?"
"Hard to say, she kept to herself a lot of the time then,
and she never was that close to me. She may have talked to
Storm 'bout her problems, but Ororo didn't give anything away
to me. There were rumors, of course. Some of those who knew
her better thought she might have wanted to get her own back
by havin' a fling with Warren."
"Guess Bobby mentioned it to you too," Logan muttered. Not
too difficult a deduction, as Iceman was Rogue's only close
friend among the original five, and apart from Storm the other
X-Men did not really know Jean appreciably better than Rogue
did. "And what do you think?"
"Ah didn't think she did it with Warren. Ah mean, at least
as far as ah could see, there was no more between those two
than at any time ah've known 'em. Everybody told me that Warren
used to have a major crush on Jean, but that was before my
time." She earnestly looked him in the eyes. "Look, ah had
my suspicions, and ah think ah know where this is headin'.
If you'd rather not..."
"Rubbish!" he said, with some force. "the cat's out of the
bag, might as well talk about it to a friend." He pressed
her hand. "It was beginnin' to get on my nerves how everybody
is pussyfootin' around me. I mean, I understand Cyke an' Red
not wantin' to talk about it to me, but I'd have expected
Ororo to call me to task for takin' advantage or somethin'..."
"Well, she has troubles of her own with Forge. And maybe
Jean took her into her confidence but told her not to talk
about it to us." She sighed. "Ah know a bit how you feel,
an' not just 'cause ah absorbed your memories a couple o'
times. Ah'm a bit like you in this respect. When 'Don't ask,
don't tell' is the motto to live by, you have to work out
a lot of grief by yourself. 'Cause people don't want to intrude."
Logan unburdened himself and gave his friend a short rundown
of his brief affair with Jean Grey-Summers. It took a few
minutes. "I hadn't expected it to become this serious. I was
beginnin' to think there might actually be a future for us...
And then she tells me she has to give Scott and herself a
chance to salvage their marriage."
"And unfortunately for you he did not blow that chance when
it was offered."
"He may have been a total yutz when he did what he did, but
he's no fool, much as I might have wished he was." Wolverine
waxed philosophical and lit his second cigar of the evening.
"He may have forgotten for a short time what he has in Jeannie,
but when she hit him over the head with it, he did see sense.
And judgin' by the way things turned out this year, I s'pose
he really loves her after all. And he's got Red pregnant to
Rogue tilted her head. "Hmm, ah wonder, Logan... She seems
awfully far gone." Thanks to the recent pregnancies in her
family, she regarded herself as more of an expert on the subject
these days. " You sure it ain't yours?"
"Nah, we always used cond--," he hesitated. No, they had
improvised the last night together. "Hmpf, maybe there's a
theoretical possibility... No. I'm pretty sure it's Scott's."
"Well, maybe the baby will be born late enough to say for
sure," Rogue said doubtfully.
"Even if it isn't, we'll assume Scott is the father," said
Logan, who had regained his composure. "Did ya mention your
... suspicions about this to the others?"
"No, ah wasn't sure about you and Jean, and ah hadn't given
any thought about who the kid's daddy might be before tonight."
"If it's no trouble, I'd like ya to keep it to yourself,
darlin'. Don't want the team rumor mill to run riot an' interfere
with Jean and Scott's healin'."
"Okay, if that's what you think is for the best..." Rogue
conceded. "You got a w--, peculiar sense of honor, Logan.
Ah think ah see it -- now Jean's decided to go back to Scott,
you've gotta do everything in your power to keep 'em together,
"That's pretty much it," Logan grunted, uncomfortable with
the brief brush of her hand on his cheek.
"Ah s'pose you're a better man than I, Logan Din. Don't know
if ah'd be able to just step aside if Magnus decided to go
back to Lee Forrester." She looked down, a little embarrassed,
before going on, with some tenderness in her voice. "So if
everything goes to plan, no one'll ever know what you've given
up. But ah guess under the circumstances it's probably gonna
be easier for you if you stay away from Westchester for a
He nodded in silence. Apparently he did not want to talk
about the subject any more. She decided to change the subject:
"Thanks for sharin', Logan, Ah 'preciate it... So how about
Notes: This is the second of a
trilogy of stories where Logan goes to eateries or drinking
establishments with ladies of his acquaintance. 'Ergo bibamus'
is Latin for 'so let's drink', Bibamus is also the French
nickname for the mascot of the Michelin tyre company, which
publishes the most well-known guide to gourmet restaurants.
Chronology: Should you keep track
of the Twilight Menshevik timeline, There's a Tavern Near
the Town is set circa May 1998, following on the affair
between Jean and Logan that was described in Ergo
Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. The story of
Jean, Scott and Logan continues in Oboro
and Something Old, Something New,
Something Borrowed, Someone Blue.
Copyright Note: The characters
are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics with the exception of Irene
Cooper and Abigail Summers (the child with which Jean is pregnant),
who are mine, and the cyber-bard Android Webber, who is from
the series Wanda Caramba (Zwerchfell Verlag, Hamburg)
and is (c) Eckart Breitschuh. This story was first published
in Tales of the Twilight Menshevik: The Second Collection,
which was produced for the 150th mailing of the MZS-APA in
December 2000. The MZS-APA has a website at http://users.ev1.net/~skullduggery/
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