in an inadequate blanket and shivering fit to break,
Jubilation Lee decided that it was an extremely cold
decided to lug her icicle body downstairs and thaw it out
with some hot chocolate. Jubilee dragged on a terrycloth
robe of the same head-splitting yellow as her trenchcoat
and shoved her numb feet into her bearclaw slippers, not
really bothering to be quiet about it.
Her dazed solo
trek to the kitchen was brought up short when she found
Jonothon sitting at the table, thumbing through a
brownish hardcover book. A kid's book, too, from the
cheesy cherubish paintings on the cover. To his credit,
he *did* nonchalantly try to hide it when Jubilee came in.
"Studyin' hard fer Lit class, huh, Jono?"
Consideration, beaten, slunk off with its tail between its legs.
::I'll have you
know that this is a classic,:: Jono informed her, taking
out the book again. Might as well try to salvage whatever
dignity he could. ::Kingsley's "Water Babies"
is a very well-respected bit've literature indeed.::
Starsmore stretched back in his chair as Jubilee got up
to tend to her milk, which naturally had been put in the
microwave for too long and was now frothily overflowing
Jono shook his
head, watching in amusement as Jubilee made faces and got
an ice cube to slide over the injured membrane.
"Hey, I care. Deeply."
The two in the
kitchen looked over to the doorway where Angelo was
leaning, scratching at his T-shirted chest.
mate?:: Jonothon narrowed his psionic "voice"
to just Angelo, who didn't even blink, just answered in
thoughtwaves back. Proof that something was up. Angelo
always jumped three feet into the air when Jono projected
thoughts directly into his brain.
"Are you guys leaving me out of the conversation again?" Jubilee set her mug down hard on the table, glaring at both of them. "That's rilly,rilly rude, ya know. If ya want me to leave, just say so instead'a treatin' me like a three year-old who's too dumb to understand."
Jono and Angelo
exchanged chastened looks across the table. Then Angelo
leaned forward and patted Jubilee's arm apologetically.
Angelo took his
hand back and folded his arms on the back of the chair he
was straddling, dropping his bristly chin onto them. His
prominent eyebrow ridges drew together, shadowing the
eyes which were already narrowed slits in his bony face.
Neither Jonothon nor Jubilee said anything for a while, thinking that perhaps Angelo might have something to add. When it became evident that there was nothing more forthcoming, Jubilee finally exploded.
"That's not dumb, you dipstick! That's sweet! That's normal! I mean, GOD, she's your mom! Of course you miss her!"
suddenly stopped, choking on the lump that formed in her
throat. She blinked rapidly, furious with herself. Why
was she getting all teary-eyed over this? She'd dealt
with her parents' deaths ages ago, gotten totally over it.
After all, she had Wolvie and the X-Men and GenX, and
they were her family. And that was the end of that.
::Me mum used t'make
me brilliant teas when I was a sprog.:: Jono's dark eyes
were swallowed in fond, reminiscent memories, his tousled
hair making it easy to see him as the child he once was.
::Devonshire Splits an' Bath buns an'all...an'she'd make
them herself, like, not buy them from from the shop. Took
all that time, just fer me to stuff meself silly.::
The two boys,
reveries broken, stared at Jubilee, who looked
belligerently back at them. She folded her arms and
jutted out her chin, eyes bright and wet in the harsh
bitter chuckle resounded in their heads. ::Mine might's
well be, luv. She divvn't want t'see me gargoyle face
again, does she now?::
Silence clogged the air.
"Unless I'm mistaken--which I rarely am--this is a school night, and the three of you have to be up early in the morning for classes."
Emma Frost had
taken Angelo's vacant place in the doorway, looking every
pale inch the Headmistress of the Academy despite the
silky, clinging bedrobe she had on. The expression of
annoyance on her perfect, sculpted features was marred by
a small, puzzled frown when her erstwhile students simply
asking wot's wrong, Miss Frost,:: Jono sent, not looking
up from where his gaze was fixed on the table leg.
frost-rimed, composed answer...intended to cover the
surprise Emma felt when she discerned the reason for the
three students' gloom.
Even in her
most affectionate moods, Emma Frost could hardly be
called maternal. Or nurturing, or compassionate, or any
of the motherly qualities these young people were craving.
"I--" she started, then snapped her mouth shut. What? What could she say? Emma took a quick breath and continued, modulating her voice to be as comforting as possible. "I think you should all get some sleep."
awkward silence for a moment. Emma squirmed inwardly as
she counted off seconds by the beat of her heart. Did she
sound too cold? Too uncaring?
Emma quietly let out the breath she'd been holding. Help from the most unexpected corner....
The two boys
simply rose from the table; all soundless, long-limbed
grace, they loped away like wolves into the night,
presumably to sleep.
"Mah gosh, somethin' sure smells good!"
sniffed hungrily at the air as she descended the stairs,
tying her straight blonde hair back from her face. As was
her usual routine, she was up a full hour before the six
o'clock bell that dragged the other students groaning
Paige intended not only to catch that worm but to rip its squirming fat body into bite-sized pieces.
Curious as to
who else would be up at such an unholy hour--and cooking,
no less--Paige gripped her weights and jogged lightly
into the kitchen.
Paige goggled at the heaps of fresh fruit, pastries, and assorted cheeses that covered the table. Then she goggled at Emma, who was wearing an apron and had her pale hair twisted behind her head, held in a chignon. Then she stared longingly at the food again.
you, Paige. I should have known that no-one else would be
up at this time of day," Emma poured a cup of tea
for herself, squeezing a wedge of lemon into it with the
utmost care. "Would you care for a cup?"
cautiously into the kitchen, closer to the table. Yep, it
was real food, all right. And there were even two
saucepans full of bubbling fruit compote on the stove,
next to a tray of fresh biscuits!
Emma practically spluttered. "Good heavens, Paige! You, out of everyone, should know that I am somewhat less than a culinary genius."
Paige declined to comment on that, having been brought up well.
The White Queen continued. "I merely felt that it would be advantageous to the general morale of this Academy's students and faculty if we had a civilized breakfast instead of the usual sugar-coated cereals and surreptitious nicotine fixes...."
Caught up in her rant against the various toxins her students dumped in their bodies, Emma hardly noticed that her words were going unheeded, upstaged by the chocolate-laced croissant that was beckoning to Paige.
"...and so I called a wonderful patisserie which Monet recommended once--the girl may be inclined towards snobbery, but she has exquisite taste--and had them deliver the food...."
She stared at it, transfixed, hardly listening to Emma at all. Its browned, satiny surface gleamed enticingly at her...she could almost taste the bittersweet thread of chocolate that ran through its flaky interior, smooth and creamy on her tongue...the bread a dream of melting tenderness....
The girl jumped,
snapping to awareness, and realized that she had one hand
outstretched towards the pastry plate. Paige offered Emma
a shamefaced grin and tried to look attentive, clasping
her betraying hands behind her back.
By the time she'd
finally registered that there had been no early bell,
there was knocking at the door. Monet's voice, calm and
slightly monotone as usual, came from the other side.
Hauling herself out of bed, Jubilee dragged a sweatshirt over the leggings and Betty Boop T-shirt she habitually wore to bed and stepped into the hall, yawning widely. M didn't seem agitated, so it couldn't be anything too harsh....
happened with the Hell Bell?" Jubilee asked,
scrubbing her dark hair with one hand. "I musta
slept right through it. Hah--now Ange can't boast that he's
the only one who can do that!"
her a sidelong look out of bleary eyes. "Yeah? So
howcum you din't wake up at six anyway, Miss Perfect Body-Clock?"
The two girls
were brought up short by the sight of the bounty of
breakfast foods, as were Jono, Ev and Ange, who had all
tumbled into the kitchen at roughly the same time.
Emma watched, nibbling contentedly on a slice of papaya, as her students found places around the table and began making inroads into the heaps of comestibles. Jono sat with them, just taking in the presentation of the food and keeping his friends company as they ate, as usual.
The White Queen
noticed that Jubilee, Jonothon and Angelo didn't seem any
different than they normally did. No suspiciously
reddened eyes, no snappishness or edginess, no moodiness,
no glum faces.
"So what inspired this magnificent table, Miss Frost?" Monet inquired, plucking a fig from the pile of fruit and snapping Emma from her musings. "Surely this type of breakfast is not going to become de rigeur at the Massachusetts Academy?"
Emma cleared her throat. Trust Mademoiselle St. Croix to ask the difficult questions. "I felt like doing something special for you children," she said, unable to keep a slight tinge of hurt irritation from her voice. "Is it really so hard for you to accept that?"
Well, that tore
it. If they weren't suspicious before, surely "Frosty"
losing her vaunted cool would alert them.
When Emma had
gathered her emotions enough to look defiantly back at
the students, she found five pairs of startled eyes
regarding her from over cups and forks. Surprisingly
enough, it was Jubilee who spoke first, her voice
carefully neutral and disarming.
However, she didn't have time to spin out the possibilities, because the kids were reacting to her act of kindness. Emma could at least comfort herself with being able to almost predict each motion and emotion--she wasn't as ignorant as all that about her students.
Everett put down his plate and came over to hug her, thoughtful and affectionate as always. Jubilee, her spirits picking up, joked some more about Monet, who ignored her, as always. And, Emma noticed with an inward sigh, Angelo and Jonothon stood at a slight distance from the others, keeping tight rein on their emotions--as always.
But Jubilee elbowed Ev out of the way to briefly hug the headmistress, and Angelo's inscrutable brown eyes were just a bit softer as he offered her a smile from across the table.
::Ta, Miss Frost.::
say what he was thanking her for, but they both knew.
. .. ... .. .
I know, I know--she's Pamela Anderson again. Well, as Jubilee says--"Like I really care, right?"
The phrase "Fishy, fishy woo!" belongs to Aerin Land. It was so cute I had to steal it.
And Jono's gratuitous Twin Peaks reference is my fault. Although he probably would have had to rent the series after its television run--he was too young to watch it on broadcast.
And lastly--I read "Water Babies" as a child, and it is an evil, evil book. All about a chimney-sweep child in Industrial Revolution Britain who dies and becomes a water sprite. Try to avoid it.