Chapter 2: Jacks Down, Queens High
by L.M Griffin
Ring. Ring. Click.
"Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Massachusetts Academy. This is the Head *ahem* Mistress, Emma Frost speaking. How may I help you?" Emma waited for a moment, and frowned as the silence lengthed on the phone.
Suddenly a female voice spoke, young and definately annoyed, "This is Katherine Pryde, calling for Jubilation Lee. Might I speak with her?"
In the days before Emma Frost had fully accepted her responsibility towards the young students under her care, she truly had gotten pleasure from torturing her former enemies in situations just like this. Right now, she fought back the urge to bully Kitty Pryde with, if not ease, at least practiced grace. She kept her tone of smooth professionalism as she replied, "Jubilation is currently in class. However, she should be done within the hour. Would you like to leave her a message, or would you simply like the number for her separate extension?"
Kitty bit her lip as it took every ounce of her patience not to snap at the former 'White Queen'. 'Turned over a new leaf my...' "Actually, I'd prefer to have her separate line number please. I have some important information for her."
"Very well....," Emma gave Kitty the number, then started to say, "Have a nice...," as the phone clicked off, "...day, you santimonious little...." She slammed down the phone, wincing as she nearly broke a nail. Whatever Kitty Pryde had to say to her student, it had better be good. Emma Frost might have learned how to deal with affronty like that gracefully, but she was only going to take it gracefully for just so long...
"Jubilee? It's Kitty."
"Where is he right now? Out in the boat house...that's where he decided to stay."
"Okay. Good. Thanks Pryde. See you in a few hours."
"See you in a few..Jubilee what are-" Click.
Kitty frowned at the phone for a moment, and then sighed heavily. Just what had she gotten herself into?
Jubilee zipped up her duffel bag, making sure she had everything. Clothes. Make-up. Pajamas. Shoes. Personal stuff. School books and various other things (Including uniform. Spandex. Don't leave home without it.) in the back-pack. And the cab should be here in...five minutes. Whoa, funny how organized a person got when they had to leave fast.
Shrugging on her yellow trench coat, she shouldered her backpack and grabbed her duffel. Her train ticket was paid for, courtesy of Logan's credit card, and the cab was coming out of her allowance. Saving up a few bucks here and there was finally paying off. As she made her way to the front of the school, she pondered just where was she going to leave the note she had written for Sean. Of the two Headmasters, Sean was going to be the one more likely to understand just why she had to leave so suddenly. She could always just tack it to the front door of the main building, where the cab was going to pull up...but it might get blown away. Or Artie might accidently eat it. The little guy had this strange appetite for paper.
Suddenly, her answer appeared in the form of the other members of Generation X striding towards her. Monet looked annoyed. Everett, Gaia and Paige looked puzzled. Jono and Angelo just looked amazed. Well, might as well up the shock value. She strode right past them, shoving the note into Angelo's hands with a curt, "Give that to Sean. Later."
Complete surprise bloomed over all of her friends faces, as they all spun around, now tagging after the smaller girl. "Wait a sec, where the heck are you going, J?" Everett asked, just managing to keep up with Jubilee's fast pace.
"Out." came the short reply. Oh good, cab was here. Meant she'd be right on time to climb on her train and get down to Westchester.
"With luggage? Where Ah come from, Jubilee, that's known a trip," Paige retorted.
"Really, didn't think they had those in Kentucky. You learn somethin' new everyday." Jubilee said without humor.
A hand gripped her arm tightly as Monet snapped, "You are not going anywhere, Jubilation Lee, without telling the Headmasters of the school. How you can show such blatant immat..." The words died in her mouth as Jubilee turned around. There was a coldness to her dark brown eyes, a set line to the jaw. It was if someone had taken Jubilee's face and put the most feral, most dangerous expression they could think of on it. It was a face out of nightmares, except that it was terribly real. The others fell back a step, unconciously. This wasn't the Jubilee they knew. Heck, they didn't want to mess with whoever this person was.
Even the voice was different, deeper and more mature then 'their' Jubilee's was. "Let Go Of My Arm, or I Will Hurt You."
Monet momentarily thought of gulping, but then her superiorioty complex kicked in. Jubilee couldn't hurt her. She had taken the girl on a few weeks ago in a contest that had left Monet the winner. Of course...she hadn't been fighting this Jubilee... She lifted her beautiful face, sneering at Jubilee. "And if I refuse?"
Jubilee's other hand clamped down on Monet's arm. Hard. Then that hand began to glow. Brightly. "Then I see if I can make you the first human lightbulb," Jubilee hissed, danger flashing in the depths of her eyes.
For a heartstopping moment, looking into those eyes, Monet realized that the girl would very well do it. She released her without another word, stepping back into the group and rubbing her arm reflexively. There were depths of power that Jubilee was able to tap into that, her teammates were just starting to realize, she hadn't used yet.
~Gel...aren't yah at least goin' to tell us where yer goin'?~ Jono inserted the thought into her mind, as she moved away again. His brown eyes were crinkled in silent worry.
Jubilee snorted softly as she closed the distance between the cab and herself. She opened the door, throwing in her duffel before yelling back to the others, "If you're so determined to know, read the note! Idiots..." Then she climbed into the cab and shut the door. The others were left watching as the yellow cab disappeared through the gate. They turned at the sound of crinkling paper.
"Angelo Espinosa! That belongs to Sean!" Paige said sharply, putting her hands on her hips.
The grey skinned youth shrugged, unfolding the note all of the way. "Chica, Jubeciata said we could read it. I'm just complying with her wishes, comprende?" He whistled softly, and the others crowded around behind him to read as well. The short note was in Jubilee's scrawl:
Went home to help out a friend. Sorry to leave you hanging like this, but I can't leave him alone. I made a promise.
The kids all looked at each other for a long moment. Emma was not going to like this...
Lights twinkled from the many windows of Xavier's School For Gifted Youth as late evening fell on Westchester County. Inside, there were sounds of laughter, and the clinking of dinner plates. Remy leaned on the handlebars of his Harley, the expression on his handsome face a mix of bitterness and longing. His lips quirked with bitter irony as he thought of the old adage, 'Always on the outside, looking in.' In more ways then one, that had become his life. He would never really be welcomed in there again. Well, not until he decided he wanted to be part of the team again. Which he was having serious doubts about.
He stubbed out the cigarette that rested in his hand, pushing the bike the last few feet to the garage. As he walked away from the garage area, making his way around the Mansion exterior, the smell of cigar smoke filled his nostrils. He looked over to the shadows, red eyes narrowing slightly as he made out the dim outline of a shorter man. Bulky. And with distinctive hair. Remy raised an eyebrow, as he commented quietly, "Reason why ya be lurkin' over dere, Logan?"
"Just wandered over by the boat house..." Logan said, ignoring the question as he moved out into the dim light. The cigar flared like a little red spark, and the older man flicked ash unto the pavement.
Remy's eyes slitted, "Re-e-eally now? 'N what didya see dere?" He reached into his inner pocket. Still had a half a deck of cards. Whoever had decided that he needed a 'late night visit' would be more then throughly welcomed.
"Well, lemme put it this way to you, Gumbo. Ask questions first, before you go in there with both hands blazin'," Logan commented cryptically, as he shifted back around towards the front of the Mansion. "You might be surprised at who you find."
Remy watched the older man for a long moment, puzzlement working over his features. Hm. Wei-rd. He wasn't sure what was making him more on edge, the fact that Logan was being secretive, or just who he was being secretive about. The walk from the Mansion to the boat house itself was a tense one, as Remy tried to figure out just who would be waiting at his front door when he got there. To his utter surprise as he walked down the dock, he found the lights were all on and the door was cracked open. Music was playing softly, and he identified it as something by Janet Jackson.
"Curious'r, 'n curiou'r..." he muttered softly, moving silently through the front door. A card rested in the palm of his hand, just in case. He heard rustling off to the side from the kitchen, and he stalked towards the sound. He paused right outside of the open kitchen door, listening carefully.
There was another rattle from the fridge, and a familiar feminine voice growled, "I can't believe he doesn't have mayo! How can you make any kinda sandwich without mayo? We're gonna have to talk about a shoppin' list when that punk gets home..."
Remy felt his lips quirk into a broad smile as he shifted the card back into his pocket. He moved to lean in the doorway, affecting a casual pose as he watched the young girl, dressed in jeans and a short red tight top, stick her head deeper into his crisper drawer. He marveled at the changes in her. The jet black hair, longer now, rippling around her shoulders like fine cloth. He imagined it to be just as silky. The former child skinniness, now a young woman's body of lithe muscles, and slight curves. Baby fat had finally started to fade away, and in her profile Remy saw a beautiful woman blooming.
He took a moment to admire the one thing he figured God had done completely right before speaking. "Y'know p'tite...when most women break into my house, dey aren't here to go rumagin' through the fridge."
Jubilee carefully extracted her head from the fridge (like she needed assorted food products to land on her head.). She sat on her haunches, and turned to face the man standing in the door. On the surface, he looked like the same old Remy. Same charming grin, same wild auburn hair that fell in his glowing red eyes. He looked thinner, a bit more muscle then usual. Startling revealation to her young hormones; Remy was a babe. He looked comfortably scrumpcious standing in the doorway, wearing a black silk shirt, trenchcoat, and charcoal pants.
Yet even with his loose pose, she knew it was just that. A pose. Something was eating the thief from the inside out, and she didn't have to guess what. However, the soul-searching could come later. Right now, it was greetings first. She let one of her best smirks slide onto her face as she replied tartly, "Really now? Guess they brought their own mayo, huh?"
"Non, but they often bring something else...," Remy said, the grin widening, moving from the doorway with his arms open. "What did this particularily attract've femme before me bring with her?"
Jubilee pushed herself to her feet, brushing off her jeans momentarily before folding herself into those arms, resting her head againist chest, right above his heart. He was here. He wasn't completely okay, but he was in one piece - at least in the physical sense. She rubbed her cheek againist the soft silk of his shirt, murmuring, "Just my charming self...and some other junk..."
Remy squeezed her tightly, squelching the desire to lift her up in a spin. She came. He'd had a flicker of hope when Logan mentioned he had a 'visitor', but still. Jubilee. Here. Which brought up a myriad of interesting questions. First of all being, "What junk?"
Jubilee looked up at him with the most innocent expression she could manage, saying, "Have a seat. I'll fix you a sandwich too...once I find the mayo."
Remy raised an eyebrow, as he moved over towards his small kitchen table. Laid out was some leftover roast beef, some cheese he hadn't even known he had, (although he was willing to bet the others in the Mansion would be missing it by lunch tomorrow...) lettuce, and bread. Along with a bag of chips, other assorted junk food, and soda. Someone had gone scrounging through various cupboards before he got here. Of course, Jubilee had once lived in the tunnels beneath the X-Men's base in that exact same way, stealing food and clothing to survive. So being surprised would just be an insult to her 'pack rat' skills.
Grabbing a seat and spinning it around so he could sit on it backwards, he watched her go back to searching to the fridge. His red eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Try the bott'm shelf, tow'rds da back. 'N when you say junk you mean...?"
"Oh, y'know...books. Video tapes. CD's...andclothesandotherstayingoverstuff....you want mustard?" Jubilee kept her face stuck in the fridge, not daring to meet Remy's gaze.
"Pardon moi? Did you say...." Remy was shocked. He hadn't had anyone over in the boat house, not unless it was by invitation. An invitation he hadn't given out now. Yet this pipsqueak fifteen year old imp had broken into his house (He definately wanted to know where she had learned how to do that. He was pretty sure he hadn't taught her lockpicking. Avoiding alarms and how to slip into unguarded warehouses, sure...but lockpicking?!), gone through his food, and now presumed to say she was staying here. What utter gall! What complete youthful arrogance!
God, he had missed this girl. Now she was looking at him with those brown (brown?) eyes...her lashes at half mast. A completely pitful look on her face, as she said in a soft voice, "Don't you want me to stay here with you?"
Remy bit his lip. He would not melt to the puppy-dog eyes. He wouldn't. Non, he refused. She pushed out her lip...just so. Oh, no...not the...yes it was...arrrrgh! The pout. He glared at her. She pouted at him. He tried to keep up the fierce glare. She still pouted. He sighed softly, gave up, and said a tone of mock resistance, "Well, there really no oth'r place for ya to stay, is dere? Mansion's all crowded up now anyhow..."
The smile she gave him was brilliant and blinding, and Remy suddenly pitied any young male who was caught by the force of that smile. Because they'd end up giving her everything they owned just to see it again. She let out a happy squeal, and, mayo jar in hand, came over to the table to give him a resounding kiss on the cheek. "Gumbo, did anyone ever tell you that you're a prince among men?" she said with the slightest hint of a devilish grin.
Remy just mumbled, "The word I was gonna go with was 'sucker'..."
The gathered X-Men were staring. At Logan. He was starting to find it irritating, and cleared his throat. Finally, Ororo Monroe managed to shake off her shock enough to start talking. "Allow me to understand this, Logan. Jubilee...is out in the boat house...with Remy."
"Because she's his friend."
"That, I understand. The part where somehow she appeared from Massachusetts..."
"I believe Logan said she took de train, ja? That is what I understood as to how she...appeared..."
"Thank you Kurt...she took the train here, and do we know if Ms. Frost and Sean know..?"
"Already called 'em, 'Ro. Sean told me to tell her to do her homework. What Emma was sayin' wasn't 'xactly polite, but she said as long as it was an emergency, everythin' was good."
"Yes, Logan...and this is the part I do not understand...what emergency requires Jubilee to be there with Remy? Is she all right?"
"She's fine. She thinks Gumbo isn't. I'm agreein' with her on this one."
"You talked to her, Logan?"
"That's right, Kitten. When I found her breakin' into the boat house."
"Diov...Logan, are you leading us to believe that Jubilee was so concerned over Remy that she broke into his house?"
"Well, Petey, the way the kid explained it sounded completely reasonable to me."
"Meaning what, Logan?"
"That if she broke in, he couldn't kick her out."
There was a pause.
"Well....that still does not fully explain to me why Jubilee is here. In the boat house. With Remy."
"She's his friend, 'Ro."
"Storm, read between the freakin' lines. If she thinks she's Gumbo's one friend right now...what do you think she sees the rest of us as?"
There was another long pause.
"Yah mean to tell us, Logan...that Jubilee don't trust we kin take care of Remy?"
"No, Rogue...what I'm saying is that Jubilee don't trust us with Remy. She knows what happened. She blames it all on the team in general and...certain people in particular. She basically told me, me, that we wouldn't be welcome around the boat house until she got Remy's head straight. And those were her 'xact words. To a letter. Lemme tell you folks, the kid's not happy."
There was another pause. A sudden scraping chair as someone left the room quickly. Voices of Peter and Kitty calling Rogue back, then following her out of the room. A gravely female voice spoke up, snorting. "Hell. Let the girl stay and play LeBeau. It won't help him. That traitor has blood on his hands he'll never wash off."
A soft growl. "Don't be commenting 'bout blood on the hands, Marrow. Gumbo saved your life."
"After he lead to the murder of all my people!"
"There's a difference, Marrow, between simply handing a wrench over to someone, and usin' that wrench to bash someone's head in."
"Whatever, Wolverine. Stupidity's no excuse."
"In this case, Sarah....it is every bit. Between an innocent man acting out of blinded trust, or the twisted madman who used him, who are you really going to blame?"
There was the sound of a chair being shoved to the ground, and another sound of a door slamming a few moments later. Silence reigned over the room for a few more minutes.
Ororo crossed her arms over her chest, tucking her chin down as she looked at the floor. A quiet sigh left her lips. Logan walked over to the Wind Rider, while Kurt gently hugged her from behind. Logan put a large hand on Ororo's delicate shoulder, saying softly, "It's fer the best, 'Ro...if there's anyone left that can get through to Gumbo, it's Jubilee."
"Yes, I know Logan...it just hurts to know that in the end, we who said we loved Remy the best abandoned him, and she who never had a claim on him is now is his only confidant."
"That's where I think yer wrong, 'Ro. Those two have a bigger claim on each other then you know."
"What do you mean, Logan?"
"Let's just say...where matters of similiar hearts are concerned, I'm a bit of an expert. Trust me. Jubilee's gonna come through on this one, with flyin' colors."
"Then Logan, I am going to have to trust her...even though she does not trust us..."
"We don't have much of a choice, 'Ro. Jest like Gumbo paid for his mistake...now, we gotta pay for ours."
"I pray Logan, that the price will not be too high."
"So do I, 'Ro...so do I."
Later, after Jubilee had explained how she had gotten down to the Mansion by train, where she had learned to pick locks, (Remy was mightily amused to learn that it was just one of the trade skills they taught at Beverly Hills Prep.) and just how she managed to cut the sandwiches without having the sandwich fillers spill out the sides ("Ancient Chinese Secret." had been the explanation. Remy threw a chip at her.), the duo retired to the couch, where Jubilee insisted there was a show on that she simply had to watch. Remy groused for a moment; knowing Jubilee it was some teeny bopper show. It was, but Remy was surprised to find he liked it as well, although he had to keep asking Jubilee every five minutes who everyone was again...
"Okay...okay...now, who's dat guy who none of de girls seem to want?" he asked, sipping his beer and pointing a finger at one of the characters. He liked the guy. He was funny, charming in a way Remy understood, and he just seemed very sensitive underneath that 'nerdy' exterior.
"That's Xander...'n I don't understand why they don't like him. I mean, he's a total cutie. So what if he isn't a bulky muscle-bound dude. He just has that total vunerable thing going on..." Jubilee sipped her soda, sighing. Remy could almost see the stars in her eyes, and he chuckled softly. She made a face at him, grinning, and they continued to watch the show again.
"'N dat blond girl? What's her name? Binky?" Now Remy really liked this girl. Guts, flashy comeback, and she was beautiful. He had to go to Hollywood; see if she liked guys with a Cajun accent...
"Buffy, not Binky. Even tho' I have to admit, both names are way lame. She's like, the focus of the show. A total kick booty vampire Slayer...," Jubilee sighed again, and this time out of envy. "I wish I could like, be as beautiful as her...."
Remy raised an eyebrow, looking over at her. She had a completely mournful expression on her face. It was actually cute. He chuckled softly. "Ah, p'tite...you obviously never looked inna mirror b'fore. You a def'nate looker."
Jubilee rolled her eyes good naturedly. "Sure, right. Next thing you'll be tellin' me is that I could be a model." She shifted her hair out of her face. She knew she wasn't pretty like Monet or Paige. Anyone telling her so was just being nice.
"Well, ya could." Remy took another drink of his beer, to find Jubilee's surprised eyes on him. He smiled, pointing a finger at her. "P'tite, in case ya be blind, ya have the kinda complexion most women pay millions o' dollars in makeup to acquire, 'n the kind of face that men, when ya be older, will fight over."
"Then why do guys NOT want to date me?" Jubilee retorted, feeling slightly flushed.
"'Cause teenage boys are stupid," Remy stated calmly. "I should know, I used ta be one. You've got da three B's, p'tite. Brains, Brawn, n' Beauty. Teenage males are anythin' but secure. They don't feel like dey deserve girls who have it all 'n one package. Girls like dat one right there...what's her name?"
"Cordelia?" Jubilee supplied, lifting an eyebrow.
"Girls like Cordelia...boys like 'em, 'cause dey don' threaten their prec'ous egos. She be the kind they make fools of themselves over, and regret later. You be the kinda girl they...well, fall in love with completely." Remy said, his crimson eyes fixed on hers. He was completely serious. Someday some lucky homme was going to get to kiss those lips, run his fingers through that hair, and look into those...brown eyes. Huh.
Jubilee was scarlet, completely. She shifted her gaze back to the T.V, trying NOT to meet Remy's insistant gaze. She looked over at him once, and asked, her voice strained, "What?
"It's just...yer eyes. I keep noticin' dem." Remy said thoughtfully, tilting his head to the side. Jubilee felt like every muscle in her body was tensing up, as she thought her face was going to catch on fire. Was Remy...no...she was too young for him...wasn't she?
"Uhm...what about them?" she managed to get out in a semi-normal tone. She wasn't sure how she felt about this. The words 'completely uncomfortable' came to mind. So did other ones that she was SO not ready to explore.
"Well...dere jest so...brown. I know dat I'm sometimes mucked in da head...but...," Remy leaned forward, taking Jubilee's face his hands, making her look him into the eyes. Her eyes opened wide while he whispered, "Didn' dey used ta be blue?"
Jubilee felt a jolt of sudden hilarity run through her body, as well as an overwhelming of relief. He wanted to know why her eyes were a different color. That was why he was staring at her so intently. She shrugged as she pulled away from his grip, answering as casually as she could. "Contact lenses. I got tired of the slurs about my mom or dad having to be white so I could have blue eyes. I couldn't just go tellin' them that it was an side effect of getting my powers, so I went out and bought brown lenses."
"Ah..." Remy said. There was just the slightest note of disappointment in his voice as he leaned back over into his seat. The expression on his face was almost like...sadness. Jubilee glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes for a few more minutes. He just looked so pitiful. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.
Shifting around to face him, she asked, "What's the matter?" Her dark eyebrows knit together. Was he thinking about Rogue? Everything else?
Remy looked over to her, his face in a classic 'little boy' look. "Well...I jest like your blue eyes. The lenses are nice 'n all...but your eyes are dat elusive sapphire color I ad're. Actually stole a necklace dat reminds me of your eyes, 'cause I loved de color so much."
Jubilee fought off a grin as she raised an eyebrow at him. "So you want me to take out my contact lenses so you can just...enjoy my blue eyes?"
Remy nodded his head slowly, keeping that utterly beguiling 'little boy' look on his face. "Please? For Gambit?" He added a charming smile that had melted the hearts of the most stubborn of women.
Jubilee was no exception, however irritated she looked as she got to her feet, grumbling. "Fine, fine...just pause the tape. I'll be right back." Remy grinned. Jubilee wasn't the only one who could get her way by cute little looks. He watched as she padded off to the bathroom they were 'sharing'. He wasn't lying when he said the color of her eyes was a particular favorite of his. Hm, he still had that necklace somewhere. Maybe when Jubilee turned eighteen....
The soft ahem caught his attention, and he smiled with glowing approval when Jubilee flopped back on the sofa with him, batting her baby blues at him, and smirked. She wrinkled her nose at him, "Okay?"
Remy nodded, moving his hand out to move a strand of hair away from her face. "Much better. Snuggle avec moi?" He put on the pathetic face again, opening his arms. Jubilee giggled, flopping into his grip, resting her head againist his chest, just over his heart again, listening to its steady beat.
She murmured as he turned the tape back on, "You're utterly pathetic. Honestly... snuggling? What do I look like, a teddy bear?"
Remy grinned, resting his chin on top of her dark head. "Not a sane man alive who don't like snuggling, chere. It be the fullfilment of, well, human contact. Some'ne who ya can...touch. Feel dere arms around you. Enjoy the texture of dere skin 'gainist yours..." He fell silent for a moment, pain working over his face. How many nights had he wished to have Rogue like this, just in his arms? To be able to reach down and kiss her face when she smiled up at him? To bury his face in her hair? Too many. Too damned many.
Jubilee looked up at him, her lips pressing together tightly. Reaching over, she took his hand into hers and squeezed. Remy blinked, looking down at the young woman. Her blue eyes were quiet, solemnity in their depths. As if she understood exactly what he was going through. Perhaps, in a way, she did. He let his eyes settle on hers, allowing the empathy of the moment to fill him completely. His voice was quiet when he said, "Merci, p'tite..."
"For what?" Jubilee tilted her head at him, puzzled. He smiled sadly.
"For coming back for dis tired ole thief," he murmured, hugging her a bit tighter.
She twisted to wrap her arms around his waist and squeezed back tightly, making him feel vaguely out of breath. Her voice dipped down, becoming the adult behind that child-like mask. "I promised, didn't I?"
"Yah...yah you did. Jest, alotta people..." He broke off the next comment, looking away. The pain was in his heart again, the pain of being abandoned. Calling out to her as he lay face down in the snow, knowing in his heart of hearts that she wasn't going to come. He felt his throat tighten, and he closed his eyes tightly. He would not cry. He would not.
He felt Jubilee shift beside him, straightening. Her hands, cool and soft, turned his face towards hers. She looked at him gravely, speaking as if to make the words sink into the very depths of his scarred soul. "I'm never gonna leave you alone. You're stuck with me, Remy LeBeau. Where ever you are, no matter what kind of trouble you're in...I'm going to come back for you."
He bowed his head, moving to rest it on her slim shoulder. Silent tears flowed from his eyes, and Jubilee wrapped her arms around his neck, stroking his hair, just being there. It struck him as ironic; here he thought he would always have to bring Jubilee back from the edge. Now, she was doing just that for him. Fulfilling the pact. Keeping her promises. He could trust her, with anything. There had been so few people he had trusted to begin with. Now, Remy just felt fortunate that he had her.
Now that he did, he began to speak. To tell her everything that happened in those dark days with Sinister. How he looked around in horror, lost in a guilt wrought on with the words, 'It's all my fault'. Running out of the tunnels, that little girl tucked into his arms. Bones sticking out of her face and body. Escaping, and leaving the girl with a few surviving others. He couldn't escape the screams in his head, however. Couldn't escape what he had brought on as Sinister's 'tool'. Non, more like...'toy'.
Years later, he thought he finally had been able to deal with his guilt, to put away that chapter in his life. Then Rogue had kissed him, stolen his memories and all the pent up remorose. She left, confused and disturbed, unable to deal with the horrors that he kept deep inside, even though she didn't understand what she was facing. The 'Trial' forcing him to face, after all these years, his part in the Massacre. The looks of disbelief on his teammate's faces. The dismal look in Rogue's green eyes. What really had stabbed through the heart, though, was the fact that the woman he loved couldn't forgive him, couldn't face him. She had pulled him out of the that base, and then left him in the snow to die. Beyond that, there was the sour taste of bitterness. Betrayal. Fighting to stay alive. Finally managing to make his way back to civilization, with a little 'help' here and there.
He hadn't been able to go back and face the others again. The feeling of shame had long since died to a feeling of complete resentment. Mostly, it was Rogue that kept him away. Rogue, and the frightening thought of.....
"If she couldn't forg've me....how can I ever forg've m'self?" he said, as he moved to sit up again. He looked at his hands, utter despair filling the red eyes. He couldn't look at Jubilee, because he was afraid to see in her face what he had seen in Rogue's. Complete and total distrust.
"You're gonna forgive yourself, Gumbo, 'cause you don't wanna be a hypocrite," Jubilee said calmly, leaning her chin on her hand. Remy looked at her, his expression filled with wary surprise. Her expression, he noted hopefully, was that of someone who finally understood where the final piece of the puzzle fit. It was a look of silent assent.
She gave him a soft little smile, and said in her best Cajun accent, "You told me, and I quote, 'Som'times... things happen dat be outta our control. Som'times, ya don't mean to end up hurtin' da ones you love, or even innocent strangers. But somethin', or som'one, took yer fate outta yer hands, 'n ya end up doing things dat end up leadin' to people gettin' hurt.' "
Remy's eyes filled with emotion. Jubilee's youthful face was quiet, as was her tone, "It wasn't your fault, Remy. You made a mistake, a horrible one, but it was still a mistake. Whatever fault you had in this, you paid for it three fold by torturing yourself this long. Let it go, Remy. You can't change the past, any more then you can control the future. Let it go, and let go of your own self hatred." It was like she had thrown sunlight onto the darkness itself, and he couldn't help but pull back, afraid to be burned.
"Why?" The pain crept in, obscuring the light with silent self doubt.
She wouldn't allow that, and she pried the opening wider, bringing in more light as she said, "Because I trust you enough to know that you'd never do anything that painful on purpose. Mostly because I forgive you...even if you can't forgive yourself."
There it was. The absolution he was looking for in the one he loved, he found in the girl who once claimed to hate him. He took her hands in his and pressed his lips againist them, murmuring, "Merci again, chere."
He didn't tell her about the green succubus living inside of him, nor of his new association with the mysterious New Son. He had made other promises in that frame of time, ones of secrets, yet he was honor bound to uphold them both. He couldn't tell her, and he silently asked her forgiveness for that.
She knew there were other parts of the story, but she didn't push for them. If Remy ever chose to tell her, then it would be his decision. She forgave him, totally and completely. She opened her arms, and he entered her embrace. They say there for a long moment, just hugging each other tightly.
She forgave him. She understood him. It was enough to start the real healing, to open the old festering wounds and let them heal clean.
Jubilee, however, couldn't forgive the others. Not yet. There was something else she had to do here, before she went back to Massachusetts. Something very important. The others hadn't defended Remy when he needed them the most. Rogue had left him, after claiming to have given him her heart. They hadn't fought for their teammate, and they should have. Well then. Jubilee was just going to show them what they should have done, what real justice was. The Jack of Hearts might be down, but, as Remy would say, the Queens of the deck always rode high. She had a couple of cards up her sleeves. She'd make good use of them.
Jubilee left Remy sleeping in his bed the next morning as she pulled on the snug yellow and red Generation X uniform, and over that, her yellow trench. She walked over to the bathroom mirror, leaning on the counter for a moment and taking a deep breath. Then she lifted her eyes to the mirror and studied her expression. There it was, that 'different' Jubilee. The survivor. The loner. And today, the fighter. She lifted her chin, letting the light glint off the icy cold blue of her eyes. Perfect.
She made her way quietly out of the boat house, careful not to wake Remy. He was exhausted; he hadn't been sleeping well because of the nightmares. They had stayed up talking until he drifted off to sleep, finally, with Jubilee there to keep him warm. To keep him safe from the unnamed demons of his past. Now he slept peacefully, and there was no way Jubilee was going to wake him up. At least, not for this.
She strode over the still damp grass towards the Mansion itself, her walk determined, her posture no less so. She was going into bloody battle today, and she didn't expect to walk out of this house unscathed. It was going to be worth it in the end. She made her way over to the kitchen door, and with one strong push, threw it open with a slam as the door hit the cabinets behind it. She walked into the airy space, her hands on her hips, and observed the people before her. She stood tall, despite the shortness of her 5'1 frame.
Peter and Kurt were sitting at the table, cereal before them, and their mouths wide open. Kitty had just entered the kitchen through the living room, her eyebrows raised at Jubilee's entrance. Ororo stood over the stove, letting her eggs burn as she turned to meet the young girl's gaze. Leaning against the counter near Ororo, Logan's blue eyes were flinty as he watched his protege shut the door with another slam. Rogue, standing between Logan and Ororo, visably winced as the harsh blue eyes raked over her with a palable mixture of anger and disgust.
Jubilee's voice was low, tinged softly with a darker rage. "Several months ago, some of the members of this team participated in a trial that was a mockery not only of justice, but some of the ideals of the X-Men itself. They stood in judgement over a man that they called friend, but threw to the dogs in a heartbeat when they believed themselves to be 'betrayed', without realizing how he himself had been used and lied to. This man's only crime was to trust foolishly, and yet...his punishment was death." She allowed her words to sink in. Peter and Kurt looked over to Kitty, whose expression was unreadable. Those three weren't even there. It mattered not. Logan nodded his head quietly, as he accepted what was to come. Ororo lifted her chin slightly, but shame radiated off of her in waves. Rogue couldn't even meet Jubilee's eyes.
The others mentally shivered as the girl continued. "Well today, ladies and gentlemen, I am calling an appeal. Consider me this man's defense attorney. I will meet in the Danger Room anyone in this room who thinks that Remy LeBeau doesn't deserve a second chance, and doesn't deserve to be forgiven for what he's done. I will defend my friend's honor. Now...who challenges me?"
Logan didn't move a step himself, but he did look over to Ororo. The taller woman nodded her head, and then turned to Jubilee. She noted the tenseness in the girl's stance, knowing that Jubilee would fight them all, if necessary. Except, of course, that it was not. "We stand rightly accused," she said, silver eyes quiet. "We, as Remy once did, made an error of judgement that could have ended in the death of one of our friends. I, as a Leader of the X-Men, bear this burden with shame. I never meant to hurt Remy LeBeau, nor did I mean to abandon him in his time of need. I have always considered myself his friend, and for that reason, I hope he can forgive me, as I...have learned to forgive him."
Jubilee nodded her head quietly, shifting her gaze to Logan. She raised an eyebrow, silently asking him just where he stood. He seemed to think for a moment, before speaking to the others, "LeBeau 'n I have had our differences in the past. I always said I didn't trust 'im, and I thought I had good reason not to. I was in the tunnels the day the Morlocks were killed. I saw that carnage. Reflectin' back, there was always just part of me that wished I could of gotten there sooner, to stop it. It was that part that condemned Remy LeBeau. It was the regret, 'n the anger that I could finally put the burden of guilt on someone else. Didn't know the kid had his own cross to bear...didn't know he was already hurtin' himself for something he didn't even know was going to happen. And for that, I know he didn't deserve to be abandoned. Hatin' him was like resenting my own failures, 'n I won't do that anymore. I deserve more, and Gambit does as well. He's a member of this team, above anythin' else."
He looked at Jubilee, his voice gruff with emotion, "Tell 'im...I'm sorry." Jubilee quirked a half smile, then shifted her eyes to Rogue. She felt her expression go stony as she faced the one whom she considered the greatest perpatrator in this mess. Rogue tensed for a moment and had just begun to open her mouth, when another sharp voice interrupted.
"What is this? 'Leave It To Lee?' Fergit this all... 'we're soooo sorry Remy got dumped in the middle of the winter wastelands' garbage. He deserved it." Marrow strode into the kitchen, stabbing a sharp finger at Jubilee. Her blue eyes were wild with anger, her jaw clenched tightly.
Jubilee stood in front of the slightly older, now more irate young woman, arms crossed, her own blue eyes strangely glittering. "That a challenge, Marrow?"
"Damned straight, that's a challenge. Question is, are you up for it?" Marrow growled softly. She could get this soft pansy-weight to back off, no problem. Show these X-wusses how it was done. LeBeau wasn't getting any slack in her book, no way. So she was more than slightly surprised that this Jubilee girl no only did not back off, but simply gave her a curt nod and made her way out of the kitchen.
Jubilee paused momentarily at the door, to simply state, "I'll be waiting in the Danger Room. " Then she turned, shifting on one booted heel. Marrow blinked for a moment, then allowed a feral grin to pass her face. She smirked over at the others, as she walked out after the shorter girl. Just what she had been waiting for, an all out brawl.
Logan started to follow when Kitty grabbed his arm, her voice sharp with worry. "Logan, we can't let this go on! Jubilee's going to get seriously hurt!"
"Yes, mein fruend....Marrow is not the one to pull her punches," Kurt said, his blue face scruching with worry.
Logan looked around at his teammates, and said quietly, but firmly, "People...I think we should stop worrying about what Marrow's gonna do to Jubilee...'n start worrying about what Jubilee is gonna do to Marrow." And with those words on his lips, he moved out of the kitchen. With an inherant wariness, the others followed.
When they reached the Danger Room itself, they found a program already set and running and the two 'combatants' warming themselves up below. Well, Marrow was really just spinning her bone knife in her hand, while Jubilee stretched her muscles. The rest of the X-Men filed into the Control Room, and Ororo moved over to the microphone to speak into the Room itself. "The rules of this fight being?"
Jubilee glanced up to the window above, stating cooly, "Whoever's left standing, wins." Ororo felt the muscles in her cheeks tighten, as she glanced over at Logan. He merely stood looking calmly out the window. Behind him, Rogue was hugging herself tightly, while the others grouped by the window, watching anxiously.
Marrow smiled ferally at Jubilee, as she started to stalk around the younger girl. "Yer not gonna walk outta here standing, pretty-faced girl. I'm gonna pound you into the ground...then I'm gonna take care of the Traitor LeBeau."
Jubilee's smile was strangely...chipper. "Ya gotta get past me first, Marrow. So...show me what you got."
Marrow shifted forward in one fluid movement, letting out a terrible battle cry as she raised the knife high. Jubilee's blue eyes narrowed, as she slide downwards out of Marrow's way, letting the girl fly over her. Marrow snarled, landing and shifting back towards Jubilee again. She was going on a full-out offensive strike, slashing and punching as fast as she could. Yet Jubilee was just a step faster, bobbing and weaving in a style Marrow recognized as Wolverine's trademark. She snarled. "Fight, damn you! You duckin' is not how these things work! Fight Me!" She threw her arm forward, the bone knife flying towards Jubilee's face.
Jubilee shifted to the side, thrusting out her leg at the same time. Marrow's eyes widened, as Jubilee's knee buried itself into the former Morlock's stomach. Marrow stumbled backwards, only to recieve a vicious a kick to the side, then two quick punches to the face that sent her flying backwards into the wall. Jubilee stood, knees braced, arms up in fighter's stance. The smile still touched her lips as she said, "Well, you wanted me to fight..."
Marrow shrieked, throwing herself forward at Jubilee again. Jubilee crouched down, then as the girl charged her, she moved upwards quickly, grabbing Marrow by the wrist and the waist, flipping the girl to the ground with a sickening crunch. Marrow shifted her knife around, managing to nick Jubilee's leg, forcing her to take a step backwards. Marrow leaped to her feet, her now wary eyes on Jubilee. "I've seen the tapes of you fighting...where did you learn these moves?" the red-haired girl said sullenly. She was just starting to realize she might lose.
Jubilee's smile widened as the color of the blue eyes darkened in a rush to midnight blue. She whispered in a tone that made Marrow shiver, "That was me defending. This is me fighting." Jubilee flipped forward, roundhouse kicking Marrow to the face, then returning with several good body shots. Marrow felt her head whip back, and had to shift backwards to defend herself as the punches started to take their toll on her.
The two circled each other, one now wary, the other silently determined. Silence had fallen in the Control Room, as all watched the action below, tense expressions working on their faces. The only exception was Logan, watching with a quiet sort of smile. That was his partner down there, and now all the X-Men were seeing the Jubilee that he travelled all over the Orient with.
Marrow had two bone knives in her hands now, and was slashing at Jubilee's body. A few more shallow cuts appeared on the girl's legs and arms. Marrow allowed herself a grin as she screamed another battle cry and lunged at Jubilee. Her knife slashed, tearing a large cut down Jubilee's arm. The girl's expression of sudden pain was like beauty to Marrow's eyes. She laughed. "Give it up, little girl. I survived worse then you. There's no way you can beat me."
She moved for another cut, hoping to catch the girl in the face. Jubilee seemed to stand stock still for a moment, and Marrow allowed herself to think it was from fear. She was wrong, and it cost her when Jubilee suddenly moved left, grabbing her arm. Marrow screamed in sudden pain and dropped a knife as Jubilee pulled her left wrist harshly around her back. Jubilee let out the softest of snarls, using the girl's position to slam Marrow face first into the wall, hard. She kept up the pressure on Marrow's arm, making her drop the other knife in pain. Jubilee pulled Marrow away from the wall, this time her other hand moving to pull Marrow's hair, hard, forcing the other girl's head back.
Marrow's eyes were wide as Jubilee leaned over to whisper in her ear. "First mistake. You got cocky. Second mistake. You thought you were the only survivor here. Let me fill you in on something about the X-Men, sister. Some of us might look soft, but we've seen a lot more then you think. There are only two others tougher then me, though. They'd Logan and Remy. Logan, you've already tangled with. Remy, well...lemme put it this way...the one thing worse then a pissed off Canucklehead is a pissed off Cajun with an ability to blow things up through simple touch. In other words, Marrow-girl..."
Jubilee shoved her knee into Marrow's back, making the girl fly forward to slam into the wall again, hard. Marrow slowly slumped to the ground, spitting out blood and holding her now sore arm in pain. Jubilee looked down at her, and finished coldly, "Play Nice."
Marrow shifted around, holding her side as she looked in shock at the shorter girl before her. Jubilee was now looking at her arm, frowning softly as she watched the blood trickle through the yellow cloth. "Dammit...this was my favorite coat.... "
In the Control Room, Peter and Kurt moved out and down to the main floor of the Danger Room as quickly as they could. They made their way into the Room, Kurt moving to help Marrow up and out of the room, while Peter stepped over to Jubilee. His eyes were crinkled with concern. "Jubilee...you are losing blood quickly. We should get you to MedLab immediately."
Jubilee shook her head, as she stripped off her coat, and eyed the torn sleeve. She pulled at the fabric, ripping it loose from the coat, and then looked up at Peter. "Bandage me, please? I'm...not quite done yet."
Peter frowned, as he used the yellow sleeve to bind up the long jagged cut on Jubilee's forearm. There didn't seem to be any severing of veins or tendons, but she was going to need at least 15 stitches. The makeshift bandage would keep her from losing any more blood...well, as long as she didn't push it. He looked into her face. She was going to push it. But...there was no-one else to battle, was there?
Jubilee nodded with satisfaction with the bandage, then turned around to look up into the Control Room again. Her face was expressionless as she pointed upwards with her bandaged arm. At Rogue. Then she moved the arm down in a sharp gesture to the floor.
The implication was obvious. Jubilee had just challenged Rogue to a duel.
It was the green succubus who woke him from his sound sleep. She whispered in his ear, and he stirred awake. The first thing he noticed was that the entity he simply called 'Chere' or 'Little Green Ghost,' was up and stirring. The second thing he noticed was that Jubilee was gone. Which seemed to be the focus of his 'Visitor's' excitement. "Such a brave girl, that Jubilee...." the female voice purred, as she wisped around his head.
Remy sat up, feeling over to Jubilee's side of the bed. Cold. The girl had been up and around for a while. His gaze narrowed on the 'ghost' as he asked, "Y'know where she went?"
"Indeed Remy....she's gone to defend your honor, as I once defended your body. At this very moment...she just challenged your beloved Rogue to a duel." The 'ghost' laughed quietly, swirling around his body.
"Ta defend my....Rogue will kill 'er!" Remy snapped, jumping out of his bed as quickly as he could. He grabbed his shirt and boots, shoving them on as quickly as possible. What was Jubilee thinking?! Rogue was nigh-high indestructable. Jubilee was powerful, yes, but Rogue... He paused for a moment. Amusing how he was more worried about Jubilee than over Rogue. Well, actually, it made perfect sense. Jubilee didn't have Rogue's powers. Rogue would lose her temper, throw Jubilee into a wall, and kill her. The pit of cold ice that was starting to form in his stomach solidified.
'Ghost' seemed to frown at him while he threw on his coat. "I do not see why you are worried about either one of them...it is me you owe your life to!"
Remy walked towards the door, glancing momentarily up at his 'Ghost', red eyes glaring. "Yah, you saved my life. 'N Rogue saved my heart. Jubilee...just saved my soul. If I can help it, dat girl's not gonna get hurt." The 'Ghost' disappeared inside of him with an angry phiift, as he charged out of the house and across the lawn. He banged his way through the kitchen door, still in a full-out run as he made his way down to the Danger Room. He saw the door shutting just as he appeared around the corner.
"Merde!" He cursed sharply, shifting to make his way up into the Control Room. As the door slide open, he was confronted by three very different pairs of eyes. Kitty's were surprised, as if he was the last person she expected to see there. Ororo's eyes were twin pools of half fear and half awe. Logan's, however, were the most disturbing of all, with their deadpan look of contemplation.
He stood breathing for a moment, then said, his voice trembling slightly, "It's alr'ady started, hasn't it?" Ororo stood slowly, moving to touch his arm comfortingly.
Kitty's voice was barely a whisper when she said, "Jubilee did great againist Marrow though...I mean, she really..." She hugged her arms tightly, looking back at the window.
It was Logan's comment that made Remy finally come to the window to look at the two just standing there, ten feet apart, looking at each other. The man said quietly, "I think she can win it, Gumbo. I really think the kid can."
Remy felt his chest tighten as he looked down at the pair. He saw Jubilee, looking so small, so fragile compared to Rogue. He saw the ever widening crimson stain on Jubilee's bandage. His voice husky, he asked, "What makes ya say dat, Logan?"
Logan's voice was barely above a whisper when he replied. "Not once durin' her fight with Marrow did she use her pow'rs." Blue eyes met red ones, as he added, "That girl's a bomb, literally waiting to go off..."
Remy put one hand on the glass, as he turned his attention to the silent room below. " 'N Rogue's about to light da fuse..."
Rogue's green eyes moved up and down the girl before her. Jubilee was a small, compact fighter. She was quick on her feet, if not as quick as Rogue. She fought smart, and her powers of pyrokinetics were above reproach. Of course, the thought running through Rogue's mind was, 'Why her? Why is she th' one forcin' this all out inta the open?' Jubilee and Remy had never appeared close. Perhaps that was the key word. Appeared. Altered appearance, it seemed, was something both Remy and Jubilee were good at.
Rogue bit her lip painfully as she looked away from Jubilee's intent glare for a moment. She had thought that she could trust the former thief. She had thought that she loved him. Now, with all this...she wasn't sure. She hated him for what he had done, hated him for the deaths of all those Morlocks. Yet, she was drawn to him at the same time. She wasn't sure if her now blatant mistrust could be overriden by the deep feelings she still had for him. Wasn't sure if they could ever go back to where they once were. She heaved a deep breath and then looked at the girl standing there. Waiting. Slowly growing paler, as the blood flowed from her arm. Jubilee didn't even seem to notice. Rogue suddenly found her voice as she asked, "Kin I ask why? Why are yah fighin' for him?"
Something in Jubilee's face twitched, and she answered, "Because none of you would." Rogue felt a stab of shame move through her body. Then Jubilee said, "Can I ask you one question? Why?"
Why. Why had she left Remy to die. Why had she abandoned him. Why had she let her own fears and insecurities blind her to the love she supposedly felt. Many feelings moved through her mind. Guilt. Anger in flashes. Confusion was paramount. Yet none of them gave her a real answer. She lifted her head, letting her emerald eyes fix on Jubilee's blue ones, as she answered, "Ah don't know."
Jubilee seemed to consider this answer for a long minute. Then she nodded her head, as she whispered, "Wrong answer."
Then she brought her hand back across her chest and swung it front of her in a sharp gesture, causing a wave of pafs to fly towards Rogue. Rogue covered her eyes as the sparks singed her skin slightly. She suddenly pushed off with her feet, taking to the air. She managed to dodge another wave of pafs as they flew towards her, trying to shift close enough to Jubilee to cause some sort of physical damage.
That was how the battle went on, Rogue using her powers of flight, trying to dive-bomb Jubilee into a wall, or at least set her off balance. Jubilee countered with her 'fireworks', shifting down on the ground, never staying one place at a time. Rogue was slowly gaining ground; she was going with a strategy of wearing the girl down. In the Control Room, Kitty murmured, "There can't be a way for Jubilee to win this...she's just too worn out..."
Remy didn't say a word, but his hand clenched into a fist as he watched. Logan also said nothing, but his eyes told a different tale. He was watching Jubilee closely, almost as if he was waiting on her to do something. Jubilee, below, paused a moment to watch Rogue. Calculatingly. Then she moved again, her attacks suddenly becoming more erratic. Everyone in the Control Room tensed as she allowed her defensive 'paf cover' to drop for a moment, pausing as if to catch her breath. Rogue chose that moment to swoop down, and she snagged the girl by the waist, then pulled both of them upwards. She said through gritted teeth, "Give it UP, Jubilee! Yah can' WIN this!"
Jubilee's lips quirked. "What's that old sayin'? 'I have not yet begun to fight'. Sounds good to me. 'Scuse me, getting off here." Then her fingers curled up, and she flashed up a paf in her hand, shoving it right into Rogue's face. If she had guessed right, Rogue would throw her and....
Rogue screamed from the sudden pain, flinging Jubilee away like a rag doll towards the nearest wall, at a speed that would only end up in the girl breaking her neck. Ororo rose to her feet, suddenly screaming, "Goddess help us all! Jubilation!!"
Remy's anguished cry of, "JUBILEE! NON!!" was what snapped Rogue out of rubbing her eyes. The green eyes widened and she had twisted in the air, trying to reach Jubilee in time before the girl hit the wall and broke every bone in her small body, when something unexpected happened. Jubilee brought her knees up to her chest, turning herself into a rolling ball as she careened towards the wall, bringing her headlong flight under control.
"C'mon kid..." Logan said, eyes glittering. Jubilee's body moved towards the wall as she gracefully unfolded herself. Her knees bending just so as her feet hit the wall, she flawlessly flipped over backwards, now facing Rogue dead-on. With something large and glowing between her fingers as she fell back towards the ground, upside-down.
Everything suddenly moved to slow motion. Rogue, still trying to reach Jubilee, just starting to slow as her eyes widened in shock. The look of frozen horror on Ororo's face. Remy's eyes widening, then narrowing. Jubilee's eyes flashing as she pushed her hands outwards, sending the gigantic 'blob' of pyrokinetic energy straight towards Rogue.
Rogue's momentum still carried her forward, straight into the blob itself, which clung to her like a swirling pool of silly putty. Jubilee flipped her body around, landing on the ground hard enough to jar every bone in her body. She spared a glance up to the Control Room as she moved her bandaged hand up into the air, fingers a bare inch apart. Kitty's eyes tracked her, and suddenly she screamed, "EVERYONE, GET DOWN!"
Remy grabbed Ororo, pulling her to the ground, as Kitty and Logan both threw themselves away from the window. Jubilee looked up to Rogue's eyes, which were wide with surprise - and a sudden understanding. The girl had had it all planned. The flying attack. Being thrown towards the wall. All a plan to get Rogue to fly straight into Jubilee's 'blob'. She even knew the blob wasn't large enough to kill her....but whatever was going to happen next, was going to hurt. A lot.
Below, Jubilee murmured quietly, "Boom, boom, Roguey." Then she snapped her fingers together.
Time sped back up as the explosion, the blob reacting to Jubilee's precise mental command, rocked the Danger Room. Jubilee flung herself to the ground, throwing her hands over her head to protect herself. Rogue screamed as she was thrown back into the wall that she just had tossed Jubilee into. She hit it hard, leaving a large dent in the wall itself before she wafted down the ground. The windows of the Control Room shook with the force of the explosion, and searing light flared briefly. Then all fell deathly still.
The door to the Control Room suddenly opened as Kurt ran in, eyes wide with worry. "Is everyone all right? An explosion...we felt it all the way in the MedLab." He helped Kitty get to her feet, looking around at the others as they slowly rose.
Ororo leaned on Remy for a moment, as she said as calmly as she could, "We are all fine in here, Kurt...but I suggest you and Kitty get into the Danger Room as soon as possible." Remy squeezed her arm in silent support, and she gave her friend a shaky smile in response. Kurt and Kitty both nodded, moving out the door together.
Meanwhile, Logan had moved back to the window. He looked down, and couldn't quite keep the smile off his face. "Well...looks like one of them is at least concious down there..."
Ororo and Remy turned around, moving back over to the window. As they watched in shocked amazement, Jubilee stirred off of the ground, slowly pulling herself to her feet. She took a long shuddering breath, gathering the last bit of her strength to limp over to Rogue's still form. She stood there for a moment, waiting. Rogue's eyes flickered open, focusing on Jubilee. The girl waited another moment, before whispering, "If you don't love him anymore, Rogue....stop hurting him. Let him go."
Rogue's eyes seemed to water with tears, and then she closed them tightly, slipping off into unconciousness again. Jubilee's blue eyes flashed once more, then she moved towards the main door of the Danger Room. As she reached it, the door opened, letting in Kurt and Kitty with medical supplies. Kitty blinked at Jubilee, who continued to move past the both of them as if they weren't even there. Kitty nearly reached out a hand to the girl, then thought better of it, hurrying after Kurt to look after Rogue. Jubilee thanked the older girl mentally as she leaned on the doorway for a moment. Just a little longer. She just had to last a little longer. The doorway leading to the Control Room sudden slid open as Ororo, Logan and Remy came striding out.
Ororo's silver eyes became two circles of horror as she took in the bruises on Jubilee's face. The smaller cuts all over her arms, including the long one that was even now dripping blood on the usually pristine floor. Jubilee looked over to the white-haired woman, and managed a shaky smile. "Don't look so shocked, Stormy...it's not as bad as it seems..."
Logan moved towards her, and she reached out an arm to him. He gently wrapped his arms around her, picking her up. She murmured, "Thanks Wolvie...don't know what I'd do without ya..."
Logan smiled, planting a soft kiss on her sweaty brow. "You'd fall down. A lot."
Jubilee groaned softly. "Fun-ny, Canucklehead. Funny." Then she shifted her eyes to Remy. He stood stock-still, and she knew that behind her they were moving Rogue to the MedLab. She was really hoping to go there herself, although not for long. She really didn't need Marrow to smother her with her own pillow in her sleep. The bony girl just struck her as that kind of sore loser.
Then Remy's eyes met hers. The amazed smile on his face was enough thanks for her. Well, at least until she regained conciousness....and then she felt her eyes roll back into her head, and the world shifted into that comfy black place...
"Dude, Frosty...I swear I'm okay. It's just a scratch. Fifteen stitches is like, cake-walk." Jubilee rolled her eyes as she propped up her feet on the side of the pool table, the portable phone squawking into her ear as she watched Remy and Logan duke it out over nine-ball. Remy shifted towards her side, looking for a good shot. He lifted her jeans-clad legs, scooted underneath them, then flashed her a knowing wink. He then turned his back on her, measuring up for his shot. She grinned herself, half tempted to give the smirking Cajun a kick in the rump. Instead, she sighed and continued to answer the tirade of Emma Frost's sharp questions.
Remy took his shot, sinking the solid three ball. Logan, who was leaning againist the wall on the other side of the pool room smoking a cuban cigar, grunted softly. Remy just smiled again as he lined up the next ball into the pocket. The days since the 'Clash of the Titans' as Kurt had named it, had been going by with a little more openness all around. Oh, he wasn't going to be moving back into the Mansion anytime soon, but at least a note of tension in the air was gone. Ororo and he were talking more. Peter and Kurt had both gone out of their way to come down and see him. Marrow had actually apologized. He and Rogue hadn't really spoken, but at least they now realized they could. When the time was right.
The strangest part of it was that, all of a sudden, Logan wanted to spend more time with him. So they talked. Drank beer. Found out they had a lot in common. Especially their tastes in women. Huh. The term 'It's A Small World After All' had never seemed so true after comparing notes with Logan.
"Yes, Frosty...I'll be back tomorrow. With freakin' bells on. Whoo-de-doody do. Byiiiiiiiiiieee." Jubilee hung up the phone with a snort. She scratched lightly at her arm again, but stopped after a sharp pair of glares from Remy and Logan. She could almost hear the silent recrimination of, 'Don't pull your stitches,' and she made faces at them both. Logan lifted a bushy eyebrow. Remy smiled innocently. They were both irritating.
Remy sank another perfect shot, and then the nine-ball. He grinned over to Logan. "'N dere's another game ta Gambit. Lemme see, dat be...five beers you owe me."
Logan growled softly. "No one deserves your kinda luck...set 'em up again, Gumbo. This time I'm takin' you to the cleaners." He licked his lips for a moment. Huh. Dry. Time to go hit up the fridge. He moved towards the door, glancing back. "I'm getting a beer. Any takers?"
"One sounds good to me, mon ami..., " Remy said amicably, setting up the table again for another game. Logan nodded his head, and shifted his gaze over to Jubilee.
She flashed him a mischevious grin as she said, "Sure, I could go for a beer..., " As Logan's eyes narrowed, she added primly "...a root beer. Of course. 'Cuz...I don't drink...beer." She cleared her throat innocently, and Logan grunted again, shaking his head as he moved out the door. Jubilee snickered under her breath. Sometimes, picking on Wolvie was just too much fun.
She felt Remy's eyes on her and shifted her head around to look at him. He was leaning on the table, pool stick held between two black gloved fingers, red eyes taking her in thoughtfully. She lifted an eyebrow, saying, "Penny fer your thoughts?"
He quirked a half smile as he asked with curiousity filling his voice, "Why, p'tite? Why'd ya feel the need ta go to the mat for me?"
Jubilee snorted, tilting her head at him in disbelief. "You really don't know why, do you?" Remy shook his head, and she sighed, saying, "It's simple, Gumbo....no one else would. No one was taking a stand for you, no one was admitting to guilt. I couldn't take that. You're...well, my friend. One of my best friends. 'N like I said, I'm gonna protect you, no matter what." She folded her hands over her stomach, looking at them as if embarrassed.
Remy listend to her quietly, the slow smile blooming on his face becoming a full fledged grin. He shifted to his feet, moving over to the armchair she was perched in. Leaning forward, he planted the softest of kisses on her forehead, and he said jokingly, "My own personal bodyguard....do you do public apperances, or this jest an 'in-house' deal?"
Jubilee looked up at him, eyes laughing as she seemed to consider. "Beatin' off drooling bimbos for money. Hm. Could be a line of work I would enjoy..."
"I pay extrem'ly well...with good ben'fits," Remy said with a wink, settling himself on the arm on the chair. "All de comic books you'd ever want to read. Junk food. Cute boys. Well, one cute 'boy' a'least."
"Throw in a box of Cubans, Cajun, 'n you got the both of us in for the deal." Logan said, re-entering the room. He threw a beer over to Remy and dropped the cold root beer into Jubilee's lap, as he himself perched on the other side of Jubilee's armchair. There was a slight pause as the cracking of bottle caps ensued and everyone took a long drink. Remy seemed to be quietly considering Logan's offer.
"Alright...let's jest say I be walkin' down the alley, 'n two thugs jump me. What are you two gonna do about dat?" He raised an eyebrow, as the two looked at each other, then at him.
"Sell tickets," came Jubilee's prompt response, a smirk sliding over her impish face.
"I'd be runnin' concession, myself," Logan said, blue eyes twinkling with humor.
Remy glared at them both, and was about to make a snarky reply on their guarding skills when Ororo walked into the room, camera in hand. "Ah...there you three are. It just occured to me, as I am trying to use up the last film in this camera...that I have few or no pictures of any of you. To say nothing of any with all of you together in one place. Do you mind?" It sounded so utterly convincing....and both men knew it was an act.
Remy glanced over at Logan. They both looked down at Jubilee, who suddenly became very interested in her root beer can. Logan couldn't help but grin. "So 'Ro...this isn't just for anyone. It's just for you."
Jubilee cleared her throat, and Ororo smiled, if a bit nervously. "Well, yes, and which ever members of the team wish to own a copy...that sort of thing..."
"Ah, sort of a candid picture t'ing...fer all de ladies? Or...one or two in part'cular?" Remy asked, a smile tugging at his lips.
"Just one or two, I believe, Remy." Ororo said, fingers suddenly playing with her long hair. Both men raised their eyebrows together, then looked at Jubilee again.
"Pun'kin...if ya wanted pictures...why didn't ya just ask, instead of making Ororo put on this really bad act?" Logan said with a shake of his head. Ororo winced, mouthing an apology to Jubilee.
Jubilee put on a wry look, as she shrugged at Ororo in a gesture of 'Nice Try'. She glanced up at Logan and Remy...and decided to go with flat out honesty. " 'Cuz whenever I try to get a picture of you, Wolvie, ya walk off. 'N Remy just poses. I wanted...y'know...nice pictures of both of you. For school. For bragging purposes," she said, batting her blue eyes charmingly. Remy's lips twitched again. Logan coughed to hide his laugh.
Remy straightened, and with a quick nod-check to Logan, said coyly, "Alright...don't sound too unreasonable. However, Gambit n' Wolverine want pictures too. Fer braggin' rights, of course."
Jubilee grinned, flipping her hair out of her face, nodded her head. "Agreed. Alrighty, 'Ro. Get in here and make us look fab." Ororo nodded her head with a smile as she shifted in front of the chair, focusing the camera. Jubilee reached up, intwining her fingers with Remy's as she leaned over to rest her head on Logan's arm. Smiles blossomed softly. Pictures were taken. A few more memories made, and for the first time in a long time, they were good ones.
Jubilee leaned over on Remy, as she watched Logan get his picture taken, or rather, attempt to get his picture taken, as Ororo tried to get him to do something more then a half smile. She whispered softly, so as for the words to not be picked up by Logan. "Think everything is going to turn out all right?" The look in her eyes obviously meant she had in mind bigger things then the pictures.
Remy tilted his head to the side for a moment, watching Ororo and Logan argue good-naturedly about what constituted a real 'smile'. He looked down to Jubilee, responding softly, "As much as life allows things ta work out, chere. As much as life allows..."
Jubilee nodded her head quietly. For Remy, that was pratically a 'Mary Poppins' statement. Things were going to be okay. Now that the Jacks were back in play, and the Queens were still intact, she really couldn't complain. We-ll, except for which pictures she got to keep. There was life, love, and then there was the ownership of embarrassing pictures. She grinned softly to herself. Oh yeah, life was going to work out just fine.