Part One: Sparkling Tears
by L.M Griffin
It was cold in upstate New York, Remy LeBeau mused as he stood outside, a lit cigarette in hand. He watched the snow drift slowly from a grey, overcast sky, touching down on the brown grass outside Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning and resisted the urge to pull his trenchcoat closer. A wry smile touched his full lips; he never had gotten used to the transition from the balmy heat of New Orleans to the colder winters of Westchester. Darkness was falling, as was the temperature. Still, he waited outside. He had actually been there for a good forty-five minutes. He had been enjoying a good beer and women's volleyball, when he started to note how dark it was getting. Soon full night would fall, and with the clouds, it would be nearly impossible to see.
Especially if the person he was waiting for was in the woods after dark.
The door that lead to the lighted kitchen area of the Mansion itself opened. Remy caught a whiff of exotic flowers as he flicked his ashes to the ground. The door clicked shut and the slight warmth that had been at his back vanished. He missed it through the fabric of his thick sweatshirt and jeans. He shifted a strand of auburn hair away from his face, not turning as footsteps approached him, nor did he shift his glowing red gaze from the row of trees beyond.
His soft accent, sometimes stronger when he was visably upset or amused, drawled, "Evening 'Ro...bit cold out to be without a jacket, tho'."
Ororo Munroe, one of the many leaders of the X-Men, stepped forward to stand beside her long time friend and companion. Her very stance, from her crossed arms, to the beauty of her long white hair, and the calm expression on her mocha colored face, spoke of volumes of grace and presence. Remy held back a smirk; although Ororo was no longer a 'Goddess', she still managed to look like one. Even in worn jeans and black sweater.
Her words curved on the air, let out in a soft puff of white as she spoke. "One could ask the same of you, Remy...it is getting colder out here, and unlike myself you do not have control over the weather..." A wry grin passed her usually impassive face. "Yet."
Remy let a similiar smile work over his oh-so-pretty-boy face (as Bobby Drake liked to tease him with. "You and Warren...the GQ set of the Mutant World," the young man joked), as he gestured with black gloved fingers back towards the woods. "Waitin' on someone."
Ororo frowned softly, her catlike eyes narrowing with worry. "She is still out there?" She could feel the coldness in the changing wind currents, how the snow was starting to pile up. A blizzard was coming.
Remy nodded his head, looking at the sky. "She be'n out dere for a good two hours, I figu'e." He took another drag of the cigarette, red eyes slitting.
"She should not be out in these kind of conditions...," Ororo said softly, shifting back towards the Mansion to grab her jacket, and gather more of the people inside. "We should go look for her."
Remy reached out a hand, barring her path. He shifted his head towards her, watching as the confused look on her face blossomed into curiousity. His voice dropped low again. "Let her come back on her own, patadan."
Ororo raised an eyebrow, watching her friend's unreadable expression. "Might I ask why?" There was a serious storm in the works, and she would prefer it if all the X-Men were inside. Safe. Protected.
Remy let his cigarette drop to the ground, where he crushed it underneath one boot. He looked out towards the woods again. "Well...we wouldn't disturb Logan if he went out by hims'lf ta think. She prob'ly out dere doin' the same thin'. Cleansin' herself mentally."
Ororo let her eyes drop to the ground, as she let out a quiet sigh. Logan, gone to Goddess only knew where. Leaving the X-Men in shock, and one in particular lost in her own labrinyth of loniliness and confusion. Disturbing thoughts that the young girl covered up with a cocky grin and that devil-may-care-attitude which reminded Ororo ruefully of the man beside her. She raised her eyes again to his, her voice quiet. "Very well...but if she is not back before it is dark..."
"Den I'll go and find her m'self." Remy said, his tone warming with understanding. "Don' worry, Stormy....Gambit make sure she comes back in one piece."
"Yes...all right. Then I will leave you to your waiting..." Ororo paused at the kitchen door again, before turning to look solemnly at her friend. "Oh, and Remy?"
Remy shifted around momentarily to look at her, raising one eyebrow quizzically. "Yeah, 'Ro?"
"Do not call me Stormy." And with that, she stepped inside, and closed the door smilingly on the now laughing thief.
Remy chuckled for a few more minutes, wiping his eyes. It was an old joke between he and the Wind Rider, and she meant to lighten his spirits before leaving him to his vigil once more. It felt good to laugh, to let go of some of the darkness building inside of himself. He looked out towards the woods and sighed.
Unfortunately, the one person who truly needed to let go was closing herself off more surely then the Cajun ever did. He continued to wait, to watch for that speck of yellow to fill his vision. He knew that the others were worried about her, worried about what she was going through. Her sudden silences. The subtle shift in her eyes that scared them, for it was the look of an adult they did not know that existed inside of the girl. Little did they know, Remy thought to himself, that the look in those usually cheery blue eyes was nothing new. He often watched that shift in the girl occur like magic: during a battle, when she was covering the back of one of her team-mates during a Danger Room session, or whenever she went out alone with Logan.
Logan's eyes held that look. When Remy glanced at the mirror at odd times, so did his own. It was the look of the hardened loner, of someone used to fighting to survive. It was also a look of complete and total loneliness, one forged with the idea that sooner or later, you were always left by yourself. Everything and everyone you knew and loved, would be gone, and you would have to stand on your own once more.
He also knew if you wore the look too long, that part of your heart that still could love, and could trust...felt despair. You were filled with a blackness that ate at you inside. He knew that feeling from when he was first cast out by his Guild, forced out to wander the streets, charming the many (Mostly women. Was it his fault the ladies liked a nice accent and a boyish grin?), but befriending none. It wasn't until he found Ororo that the blackness abated, that he felt the warm light of companionship and true friendship illuminating the darker parts of his soul. She had dragged him, kicking and screaming into the arms of her family, the X-Men. She had saved him, spirtually, just as he had done for her physically.
So, just as Ororo had saved him, Remy was now out to rescue that small girl with the tough spirit - from herself.
Jubilation Lee huffed, blowing black strands of hair from her blue eyes, as she made her way through the woods back towards the Mansion. "Oh yeah, Lee... this was a GREAT idea...'Let's go for another walk in the forest when it's 30 below-freezin'-my TOES-off! It'll help clear my head...'" She snorted softly as she pulled her yellow trenchcoat around her more tightly, trying to warm her gloved fingers by flexing her pyrokinetics slightly. She really believed that if she could just...get away from everything for a while, she would be fine. Get away from the worried looks and the oh-so-kind sympathy, so she wouldn't go nuts...
Poor Jubilee, their eyes said, left all alone by Wolverine. She just doesn't know what to do with herself. She's just a lost little kid.
'Puh-lease.... I lived by myself before Wolvie. I can handle it now.' She bit her bottom lip, as if the thought made it more true then it was. She hunched down deeper into her coat, and deeper into herself. It wasn't like she built her entire life around him. Really, he was just a guy she saved from the Austrlian outback.
Who protected her, and looked out for her when they went trekking around the Orient.
Who taught her how to fight, how to make it on her own in the backstreets of Madripor, to survive a full-on attack from Magneto himself.
Who made himself her father, who gave her the real family she'd never really had.
She sighed as she trudged through the light snowfall, letting her head droop slightly downward. Yeah, she didn't need him. Just like she didn't need to breath. She was just in this massive bubble of conflicting emotions, all locked up inside. She couldn't talk to anyone about this...because no one really understood her except Logan. And Logan...wasn't here.
"This is what Beaster calls a freakin' paradox," she muttered to herself, finally coming out of the woods to trudge across the lawn of the Mansion. The sky was just reaching that final state of complete darkness, and the snowflakes were falling in a thicker sheet. She shivered softly, feeling her nose literally turn blue. How the heck could Bobby and 'Ro TAKE weather like this? It was times like these when she wished she was back in Cali where the sun shined 360 days a year, and the coldest it ever got in L.A. was 50.
She was still looking down at the ground, moping, when she hit something. Hard. Stumbling backwards and falling on her butt onto the snow, she rubbed her nose, anger flaring. She groused aloud, "Great...okay... just when did someone move a wall outside the Mansion and decide NOT to tell me?"
A soft chuckle could be heard, the kind of laugh that was like silk on bare fingers, "Y'know p'tite, there be a lotta ways I could take that statement. I be thinkin' I'll take it as a compl'ment..."
There, standing with his arms crossed over his chest, the snowflakes catching in his already damp hair, was Remy. She stared through the snowfall at the last person she expected to see outside in this kind of weather. When it started snowing, Remy was like her. They just didn't surface to the outside world in weather like this. They'd huddle inside by the T.V, with coffee for him and hot chocolate for her. Scott called them wimps. Jubilee just retorted they weren't wimps, they were 'pnenomia wary'. Remy agreed with her wholeheartedly.
Now he stood there, the guy she considered the world's biggest human paradox, offering her one black gloved hand to help her stand up. He looked just as blue-faced as her, in that old beat up trench of his, (which he owned like, half a dozen of. Yesh, talk about needing a new fashion statement...) and she could almost see his teeth chattering behind the charming smile. Which meant he had been standing outside, waiting. For a long time, for something, or someone. Probably her. She wasn't sure if she felt relieved that he was worried enough to wait here for her, or just pissy because he going to start acting like the others. All 'Poor Jubilee'-ish.
She went with pissy, as she shrugged off the hand and pushed herself to her feet, "I thought I told you, Gumbo...don't call me YOUR p'tite. What the heck you doin' out here anyways? I can take care of myself, y'know." The look in the Cajun's red eyes flickered for a moment, then settled on neutrality.
"Wasn't checkin' up on ya. Just thought I might catch ya out here." The Cajun's voice sounded innocent...but Jubilee knew the man well enough to know things weren't quite kosher, as the Beaster would say. She raised one dark eyebrow, questioningly. Remy merely held his hands up, as an 'I'm just standing here like a good little master-thief' expression worked over his face. He played up charm like he played cards, with great ease and almost pre-destinied wins.
Jubilee let out a sigh, and rolled her eyes again. Okay, she'd better just cut to the chase. The Cajun could take all night getting around to the point, when he wanted to work the 'I'm just a total babe, and you cannot deny the dimpled grin' act. She bit off each word tightly, "Why were ya lookin' for me in the first place?!"
Remy paused for a moment in thought. He had to do this like he would steal a valuable painting in a museum: a quick pre-emptive strike, with force and cunning. He had to find a way to purge the anger and confusion out of Jubilee in one fell swoop. A thought occured to him, something he often did to get his mind off the darker regions his memories took him. A little smile tugged on on his lips, as he purred to the younger girl, "Gambit is bored...thought ya might want to entertain him."
Jubilee's blue eyes widened so large, they made Remy think of those anime cartoons the young woman liked, that Sailor Moon stuff. He didn't particularily like it much himself, a bit too fluffy for his taste, but the girls in short skirts were an added plus. Her suspicious tone almost made Remy laugh again. "Entertain...how?"
Gambit stripped off his coat, revealing his skin-tight armor, and looked over at Jubilee expectantly. She bit her lip, taking off her own coat and throwing it beside his. She herself had just changed into cut-off sweats and sweatshirt, her dark hair pushed back by her usual pair of pink shades. Gambit smiled, walking over to her slowly. He brushed her cheek gently with his fingertips, keeping his voice nice and low. "Aw, don't look so scared, p'tite...it's just ole Gambit...and you.."
He hit the button on the wall, and as the door swooshed open, he finished his sentence, "'N the Dang'r Room." He bowed slightly, gesturing for her to enter first.
Jubilee scowled. Scared? Of Gambit? Bobby could go iceskating in Hell before she'd show fear in facing the thief. She straightened her slim body, eyes flashing up into his in open challenge. "I can take you any day of the week, Gumbo, 'n don't you fergit it!"
She stomped half-way into the room, before spinning around and poking Remy in the stomach sharply. "And stop callin' me p'tite!"
Remy quirked a half grin, "Well, Jubilee...I d'nt doubt you could 'take' me, but Gambit be thinkin' Scott might skin him alive.... if Gambit let you try."
He sauntered on past her, letting that comment hang in the air for a moment. He began to stretch, bo-staff in hand as he fought back the smirk that threatened to errupt on his face. The first part of the plan had worked like a charm. She was no longer silent and moody. Now she was snarky and snappy. Soon she'd be fighting out of pure anger.
Jubilee, meanwhile, stood there frozen for a long moment, her cheeks a blazing red. He just...with her and him and....oooooooh! The blue eyes narrowed, anger burning within them. There was a good reason she was nicknamed the 'Firecracker' of the X-Men, and it wasn't all the flash and explosives that came from her fingers. She had a fiery temper to match her already cocky attitude. Remy just decided to push it too far. They'd be scraping pieces of him off the floor for weeks after she was done with him. She strode into the Danger Room, going through her stretches with a carefully measured mix of fury and trained practice.
"One on one, p'tite, or wouldja like a more of a challenge? Of course, if you can't keep up with da pace...Gambit be glad to slow down for ya," Remy said calmly, taking the bo-staff in front of him. He had a fresh deck of cards, Roguey was out for the night, and Jubilee looked ready to rip him into pieces. He was ready for a nice long, lesuirely battle to the death. Well, almost. At least to the unconciousness.
He started to feel the first stirrings of fear when he saw the sweet little smile on Jubilee's face. Those stirrings shifted to flashes when she called out, "Computer! Activate Wolverine/Jubilee training program 3. Alpha Level."
The Danger Room shifted, turning into a broken down warehouse with dark shadowy corners, high and low beams spread all over the place, perfect for crouching on and leaping around. It was the perfect kind of enviroment for a ninja to teach his student the ways of fighting, how to lurk in the shadows awaiting her enemies without being seen. It reminded him a great deal of his training as a thief. Wolverine was a smart man to start off ingraining these habits in Jubilee early on.
The fear that was rushing through the Cajun's stomach turned to full-on panic when she added, "Overlay with JubileeTunes 2.0." and the Backstreet Boys blared to life over the Danger Room's speakers. He tried not to wince. It really didn't work.
He glanced over to Jubilee, about to beg her to at least mute it at little, (silence would have been preferred...) when he noticed something. Something rather interesting, in fact. She was gone. The words 'Uh-oh' didn't even get to leave his lips before a wave of multi-colored pafs flew towards him. He rested on his toes for a second longer, and then flipped neatly out of the way, letting his feet land solidly on one of the lower beams. He closed his eyes, allowing his senses to adjust to the darkness, and the music playing. He drowned it all out, looking for a particular...sound.
He would know it, when he heard it. Years of listening, learning how to clear his mind of abstract thoughts while he listened for any possible security while on a job made his senses, while if not anywhere near Wolverine's, then at least sharper than most. His eyes were kept tightly shut, and his breathing was pratically non-existant.
Shhhhhhh-nap. Remy's eyes flew open as he heard the sound, and leapt up and out of the way as Jubilee's pafs scorched the spot where he was just crouching. There. That noise. The sound of Jubilee's pafs leaving her fingertips led him straight to her. All he had to do was grab this rafter here, swing upwards and...yes! There she was, and as she saw him move towards her through the shadows she gaped with surprise.
"Surp'ise, p'tite!" he called out, flipping out the four of clubs into his hand. Charging the card, he used his bo-staff to balance him as he swung towards the wall, using his momentum to push off again into the air, and straight at Jubilee. As he reached the arc of his height, the card left his hand in straight path for Jubilee's feet. The thief called out, as he fell down towards the ground, "Tag...you be IT!"
He expected her to be blown off her perch. She was. He expected her to lose her balance, and fall. She also did that. What he didn't expect was for her to grab the beam below her and swing after him with a grace that was almost as deadly as Psylocke's. 'Mon Dieu! Where has the girl been hidin' dem skills?' Remy mused, then smiled. Of course...when she had the other X-Men about, they had a tendency to surround her, protect her from the danger at all times. So, she let them, holding herself back. Her powers, and just the nature of her personality, allowed her to do so. Now, faced with just him, and he having pushed her to the limits of her patience...she was cutting loose. Good for her!
Bad for him. Hm, all right. Time up the ante, as it were. He flipped, landing lightly on a beam, before pushing himself upwards again. He flicked a card out of his sleeve, then blanched as a wave of pafs flew towards him. He was heading right for them, so he really didn't have any other options. Flicking the card towards the oncoming sparks, he had a moment to watch as Jubilee's eyes widened in horror and she just managed to grab a beam and shift out of the way of the oncoming explosion. On his part, he used his staff to snag on an outriding piece of metal, and swing out of the way. The combination of pafs and kinetically charged card caused him to fly forwards. Right for the wall.
He braced his knees as he shifted around, taking the weight of the hit right there. It strained the muscles in his legs , but he managed to flip into a graceful downward arc again. He wasn't surprised this time, however, to see a pair of booted feet swing suddenly towards his face. This was Jubilee; Wolverine had taught her better then to miss a good opportunity like this. Of course, he was Gambit. He just moved faster, grabbing her foot and forcing her towards the wall behind him. He heard her yelp as she hit the wall he had just rebounded from, hard. She grabbed a beam, obviously shaken, as he continued downward towards the fastly approaching floor. He tried not to smile. Really.
Jubilee snarled at herself. Stupid, STUPID mistake! She should have known Gambit would hear her coming from a mile away. Know your opponents, Wolverine always said...Wolverine. This was the first time in a long while that she hadn't thought of him for any length of time. Well, she couldn't afford to now. The Cajun had just shifted upwards, and he was hunting, for her. Better make it worth his while. She climbed over the beams easily, thinking of how battling Gambit was a lot like fighting Wolverine in the same setting. Both were smart, cunning, and knew how to flush out their prey. If you didn't watch every step you took, they'd be all over you.
She grabbed a beam, swinging neatly out of the way as a card whizzed just past her left cheek. Using the momentum of her swing, she headed straight towards Gambit, who was trying to twist in mid-air to throw another card at her. Her one hand flared up, sending a medium-sized blob his way. Reminding herself that no matter how much he had ticked her off, she couldn't lose her control. Both she and Remy, she thought ruefully, had powers that could literally take out entire buildings. She certainly didn't want to put a hole in Remy's chest.
Not yet anyways. For now it was enough to see the red eyes widen as the blob smashed into him, sending him straight into a beam. Ouch. That would leave a mark. Heh heh. She smirked as she did a long flip into the air, landing in a crouch on a wide beam. She straightened just as she heard the soft pit-pit of a pair of boots landing behind her, and cartwheeled forwards as the staff swung at her legs. She swiveled, facing Remy, her breathing coming out just slightly heavy.
Remy was panting himself as he moved the staff to the side of him, defensively. His red eyes glinted as a smile touched his lips. "You're fast, Jubilee...Logan taught you some qual'ty moves."
Jubilee, to her own surprise, flushed with silent pleasure. She didn't have the opportunity to let her own skills really surface when doing sessions with the other X-Men. They toned down for her, so...she ended up toning down for them. Only when she worked out with Wolverine did she really get pushed to her real limits.
Of course, the Cajun was giving her a definate run for her money. She nodded her head. "Not half bad yerself, Gumbo...glad they taught ya somethin' useful in that Guild of yours," she replied, a slight touch of awe in her voice . Then she mentally shook it off. Sure, he was graceful as anything, and he had style up the wazoo. Didn't make him anything special. Not really special.
Remy let a tight grin slip over his face. A compliment from Jubilee. Someone had to do something well to earn one of those, for the girl was fairly scathing unless she thought praise was deserved. Of course, he couldn't forget why he was here. Certainly Jubilee was working out her frustrations, but those would just boil to the surface, then simmer beneath her skin once more. Remy couldn't have that, no-siree.
He swung the staff at her legs again, forcing her to step back. He kept his voice neutral. "Must be hard for ya ta keep ya'self up at dese levels tho'. 'Specially wit' Logan not around ta push ya."
Jubilee's eyes flashed with something close to pain, and Remy had to work hard not wince. He threw a kick at her, which the girl easily ducked. As she spoke, he could feel the resentment tinging her words. "What, you don't think I can make it without him either? Think I'm some little girl that needs protecting?"
Bin-go was his name-o. Remy knew he would regret this later on, but he had to keep pressing ahead. It was the only way. He shrugged his shoulders, as if the thought never occurred to him. "Seem ya are doin' fine to Gambit."
"That's right!" Jubilee suddenly started shouting. She rose to her full height of 4'll, every muscle in her body tense. "I don't need him. I don't see why everyone has to keep pointing out that he's gone. That he just left me here, alone, to fend for myself. Well ya wanna know something? I can fend for myself! I lived on the streets of L.A with nothing but a handful of fireworks and the clothes on my back! I survived under the freakin' base of the X-Men, no problem!"
She was literally shaking now, and Remy just watched her, saying nothing. She continued, her eyes glazing over slightly, seemingly forgetting Remy was there, even that she was talking. "I mean, hey, I coulda been JUST fine after I got out of that base. All I could see was that he was hurt, 'n he needed help. It's not like I needed a freakin' Canucklehead to follow me around like some...oversized pit bull."
Tears were starting to drip from those young-old blue eyes, reminding Remy of something his father had once said to him. "Women's tears, Remy, the most painful kind, are like diam'nds in de rough. Just sparklin' tears that catch de light...and fill your heart with aches." That was how he felt now, as if his heart was breaking softly with Jubilee's as she talked through her tears.
"I just got used to him being around, ya know? Like...it felt good to know there was finally gonna be someone around everyday. Not like he's such a pleasure to wake up to...I mean like, he smells, n' he's always all grouchy...but he was there! He made me feel safe...and loved...and taken care of and now he's just gone and I...I..." she choked for a moment, fighting for air.
She fell hard to her knees on the beam, sobbing uncontrolably. Remy finally moved, dropping his staff to the floor as he knelt by her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. At first she pushed against his chest as if ashamed of her own weakness, but when Remy didn't budge, she gave in and simply buried her face against his chest, crying. He spoke to her in Louisiana French, soothing words, as he stroked the short dark hair. He picked her up in his arms, leaping lightly down to the ground, cradling her to his chest. Jubilee felt the strength in his grip, the kindness in his words, and let herself give into another wave of tears.
She could worry about her pride later. Right now, it just felt good to be held.
Remy turned off the program, and opened the door again, carrying Jubilee back to her room. He'd go back later and get their coats. Right now, Jubilee needed to be somewhere where she felt safe, and that was her room. She had stopped crying, and was now clinging to him tightly as if he were a raft, and she were drowning. Which in a sense, was more then true.
He managed to open Jubilee's door, and shut it with his foot. Still holding her, he sat on her bed, setting the small girl in his lap. "So strong....yet still a youn'in. Ah, Jubilation Lee...you've already seen a lifetime o' pain. Don't seem like ya deserve anymo'e," he whispered into her ear, gently running his fingers through her silky hair.
She rested her forehead againist his chest, her voice sounding old, even to his ears. "I'm so tired of being alone, Remy. Why...why does everyone who cares about me leave?"
"I don't think they mean to, chere," Remy said quietly. "Som'times, things jest happen. People gotta go. Don't mean they love ya any less. 'N that don't mean Logan ain't comin' back. I don't know de man as well as you, but I know dis...he loves ya like you 'is daughter, 'n treats ya like you 'is parnter. No way he jest go up and leave...'n not come back for ya."
Jubilee lifted her tear streaked face, her reddened blue eyes meeting his softly glowing red ones. "You really mean that, don't you? You really believe he's coming back."
Remy smiled softly, touching her cheek. "For you, chere...he'd be crazy not to. Gambit be thinkin' yer the best thing dat ever happen to Logan 'n a looong time. I not only bel'eve de man is comin' back, I know it."
Jubilee nodded her head for a moment, and then crossed her arms over her chest. She looked at Remy again, half regretful, and half pleadingly. "Could I have some time...alone? Please?"
Remy nodded his head, picking her up gently and putting her on the bed. Jubilee watched him walk towards the door, pausing long enough to turn and say to her, "If ya need me, chere...you know where to find me. Gambit...Gambit be here for you." Then the door closed with a quiet click, and Jubilee was left to her own thoughts. The first and foremost being that, of the two that had been in the room, she was not the only one who felt alone...
Remy flopped on his bed, deciding to rest for a few minutes before he stripped off his armor and dropped back into bed. He was dead tired, not only physically, but emotionally. Being with Jubilee, holding her and comforting her, had reminded him of just how it felt to be abandoned by the only family he had ever known. The pain of it, the utter feeling of betrayal. He sighed, closing his eyes as he felt the old wound pull open, bringing back memories of Louisiana, the Guild, his father and brother. Belladonna...
The knock on the door tugged him out of his dark memories, as he called out wearily, "De door's open..."
Again, the smell of exotic flowers clung to the air, and Remy cracked open one eye to see Ororo standing there. Her gentle smile was like a balm to him, and he managed a small smile himself. She stepped inside, moving to sit on the foot of his bed, her tone soft, "You have done a wonderful thing tonight, old friend. I am proud of you."
Remy raised an eyebrow, as he commented, "Pardon moi, 'Ro...as I ask you how you knew?"
Ororo brushed her white hair from her eyes. "I was in the Control Room, watching you and Jubilee. You got her to open up, to her to air out her feelings. You saw what in her heart was hurting, where the rest of us failed to see what she needed."
Remy shrugged, folding his hands above his head as he said quietly, "Jubilee 'n I have...more things in common then most would think. Jest did for her, what ya did fo' me." He was surprised by that, about how close he and Jubilee really were. The exteriors were completely different, yet scratch the surface, and there were two souls that were more alike then many would know.
Ororo's smile became a bit deeper, as she reached over to squeeze Remy's knee. He reached up, grasping her hand with his own. The old friends sat in companionable silence for a few more minutes, before Ororo rose. "You look tired. Would you like me to fix you some chamoile tea?" she asked.
Remy shook her head. "Non...Gambit jest like to sleep. Dat girl...she definately has Wolverine's trainin' stamped all ovah her. I won't be underestimatin' dose skills 'gain."
Ororo shook her head, a rueful smile working over her face. "I do not think any of us will be doing that again." She stopped just before the open door, looking back to Remy, worry reflecting in her silver eyes. Her voice was, of course, even and calm. "Remy, are you feeling quite all right?"
Remy opened his eyes wide, giving her a small smile. "Jest tired, Stormy...jest tired. Feelin' my age, I guess." Why yes, and de Nile was a river in Egypt.
Ororo leaned on the doorframe for a moment. "If you are sure, then I will leave you to sleep. I will see you in the morning. Rest well." She closed the door behind herself, and her footsteps slowly faded down the hallway.
Remy nodded his head quietly, letting his eyes close. He almost wanted to call her back, to tell her that things were not all right. That just for tonight, would she stay with him? The words died on his lips before he could call them out, because as close as he and Ororo were, there was only so much personal 'stuff' between them. Rogue, he knew, wouldn't have him in her room, not with the danger of touch involved. More importantly, and perhaps stupidly, he was too proud to ask them, to admit that even he felt the weakness of being alone. So, he was left by himself. The loner, yet again basking in his own pain. With difficulty, he pushed himself to his feet, and started to strip off his armor.
He had thrown the cumbersome stuff into the corner, and was moving to strip off his boxers, (Sleeping in the nude was a normal Nawlins practice. Just too hot.) when the door was rapped on again, softly. He paused, sighing softly, "Yah?"
The door opened slowly this time, and Remy was about to insist to Ororo that yes, he was fine when he noted that the person entering his room was much shorter then Storm. Dark hair, instead of ivory. Jubilee, dressed in flannel pajama pants and loose Snoopy shirt, pushed her way into the room, hands folded behind her. She smiled, a bit nervously. "Hi..."
Remy blinked at her in surprise, moving his hands away from the boxers elastic band. As much as he teased the young girl, he would never actually do anything with a thirteen and a half year old child. That reached a sickness level the Cajun would never understand. He tilted his head curiously. "Bon nuit, Jubilee..."
Jubilee fidgeted for a moment, before she said quickly, "Ya said..if I needed somethin', you would be there for me. Well, I was wonderin'...it's just too stupid. I mean...nevermind!" She turned on her heel, moving as if to run out of there and back into her own room.
Remy called out after her, "Non, chere...hold up...what didya want? Like Gambit said, he's here for ya. No matter what." He smiled encouragingly as the girl turned around once more, looking at him suspiciously.
She took a deep breath, trying to keep her face from flushing deep crimson. "I was just wonderin' if...you minded if I slept in here...with you." Remy's eyebrows raised, and she quickly added, "Y'know, like...just platonically. 'Cuz...I just..."
"Need someone to hold?" Remy finished softly. He nearly felt like laughing; here he was so scared to ask the two women in his life if he could stay with one of them for comfort, but Jubilee...Jubilee pooled up her courage and asked him. "Yah, chere...you kin stay here ton'ght. Gambit don't mind.." Then he added jokingly, "As long as ya don't snore...'n don't hog all the covers."
Jubilee snorted, hopping on the bed and pulling back the covers. "Puh-lease. Just try not to sprawl out all over me...and keep yer drooling to yerself, bub."
Remy moved to turn off the lights, a light chuckle leaving his lips. He heard rustling as Jubilee pulled herself under the blankets, and the creaking of bedsprings as she made herself comfortable. He dropped himself on the bed, shifting his legs under the blankets himself. As he put his head back on the pillow, he felt Jubilee shift towards him, and he lifted his arm so she could curl up againist him. She snuggled her head into his chest, sighing. He smiled in the dark, finding comfort in the warmth, and the trust of the girl next to him. Looked like he now had three women in his life.
A sudden thought occured to him, however. "Jubilee?" he asked, his tone notably suspicious.
"Yup?" came her sleepy response. Her dark hair was tickling his chest, and she stifled a yawn.
"Why didn't ya jest ask Henri? Or even Bobby? Dey both been closer to you den Gambit has been..." he asked. He felt her shift againist him, almost like she was...well, squirming uncomfortably.
"Well...you see, Beaster gets fur all over me...and Bobby's room is just too cold...," she started to say, then just sighed. "Geez, okay, who am I foolin'? They just don't seem to...well, understand me, like you do. And...when you left my room, you looked all sad. Like you were feelin' lonely too. So, well...I figured, I need someone to hold, you looked like you did...made more sense for us to do the...er...sleep-together-kinda-thing."
Remy fell quiet for a long moment, his heart twisting queerly in his chest. She came not only because she needed just to be held, but she knew that he needed that too. His arm tightened around her, and she squeaked, "Remy! C'mon...I need air to breath here!"
Remy chuckled softly, trying to force down the moisture that clung to the corner of his eye. "Sorry, p'tite...jest dat I don't have many people doin' things fer me anymore. Kinda...takes some gettin' used to." he said, quietly planting a kiss on her brow.
Jubilee smiled into the glowing red eyes she could make out near the headboard of the bed, as she said quietly, "Make ya a deal, Gumbo."
"All right, but it best be good. Gambit's not 'bout to lose his pillow." the older man retorted, lips quirking into a smile again.
"Nah, yer much more comfy as a pillow...but anyways...like...if you need someone to talk to, or just y'know.... someone to be there for ya...I'll be that person. 'Cuz, y'know, we're alike. We say we're okay by ourselves, but in reality, we're tellin' the biggest fib in the world. Sometimes, we just need...somebody." Jubilee's voice held a tone of seriousness that would not be ignored.
"So now, your deal works both ways? If ya need someone...," Remy held his breath for a minute. It was that moment of truth. He knew that few on the team trusted him, not like he could really blame them. Yet for what Jubilee was asking....was a mark of complete and total trust. He waited for the slightest pause of hesitation, the smallest movement that meant she actually had to think whether or not she could trust the former thief.
What he heard, was a snort. "Well du-uh. Not much of a deal if it's all ME takin' care of YOU. You for me, and me for you. Good?" Jubilee said dryly, as she waited for his response.
She knew she was asking alot. She was asking the man with a shaky past, and an uncertain future to form a bond with her. She was asking for a commitment from him that, perhaps, he couldn't meet. Yet she knew somewhere in her heart, that he would accept. For no other reason that he, like her, didn't want to be left alone anymore. He wanted someone to come back to, as she did, who would always be there. Her hand raised in the dim light of the room, and after a moment, Remy's hand raised to meet it.
Their palms lay flat againist each other and Remy marveled how small Jubilee's hand was compared to his. Yet he could feel the roughness of it, the callouses from hours in the gym, scars from where her pafs must have first imploded. Like her soul, her hand had aged before its time. His fingers moved to intwine with hers, and as he squeezed her hand, he felt her squeeze back in response. He smiled, but with it felt another mantle of responsibility settle on his shoulders. He swore an oath that no matter what, he would be there for her in her time of need.
On the flip side of that, whenever he needed her, she would be there. He could not get that promise from his own family, and he could not ask it of Ororo and Rogue. For them, the X-Men would always come first. For Jubilee, perhaps only Wolverine...but she would still come. For him. His voice was raspy with emotion as he spoke. "Bien, p'tite. Ya for me, 'n me for ya."
Jubilee sighed happily, and moved her hand down to wrap around his waist. One thing about Gambit that was nicer then snuggling with Wolverine: he didn't have as much weird hair. Remy's chest was nice and smooth. Not to mention warm. She said sleepily, "G'night then Remy..."
Remy let his fingers play with Jubilee's hair, carefully smoothing down the side of her face. He smiled down at her, the porcelin face eased with sleep, the dark lashes just touching her cheeks. He tilted his head towards hers, wrapping both arms around her, feeling for the first time as if he belonged. "G'night Jubilee..."
All was silent for a few minutes, before Jubilee whispered into the darkness, "Oh, and Remy?"
"Don't call me your p'tite."
FINIS Part One