by L.M Griffin
"I'm not looking for a miracle, just a reason to believe..." -- Savage Garden
Jubilee sat at the small plastic table in her dingy hotel room, eying the bottle before her, her chin resting on her folded hands. She let out a long breath, blowing strands of black hair away from her delicate face. The tequila bottle just sat there. She quirked an eyebrow, muttering, "I should just drink you. I mean, I went through all the trouble of sneaking you out of the store. Besides, Remy...Remy said that drinking makes you forget. I want to forget. That's not such a bad thing, right?"
The bottle didn't answer, and for that Jubilee was grateful. The last thing she needed was inanimate objects telling her that she should stop this ridiculous trip and just head home. Face Remy and tell him how she felt. Mostly because she was no closer to getting over him then she had been when she left home. Hell, truth of the matter was it was WORSE now.
She had tried, honestly she had. All right, so she hadn't gone all gung-ho about it, but she had tried to forget, to move on. It didn't help that there were reminders of him everywhere. Didn't help that every man she saw wore Remy's smile. She couldn't name how many times she'd turn the corner and thought she saw him across the street from her, that old, beat-up, wonderful trenchcoat flapping around him. She nearly started across the street...when the man would turn around, and it wasn't Remy. Just a man in a coat.
Her dreams were no better. They were always visions of Remy...and home. Like Tante Mattie said, her heart was telling her which way to go. She just wasn't listening. Fear did that to a person.
Of course, this week was the worst. Her bike was having problems, and the mechanic she took it to said it'd be another week or more before he could even get the part to fix it. Which meant she was stuck in lovely Little Rock, Arkansas. No offense to the people who lived here, but Jubilee could name ten other places she'd rather be stuck in at the drop of a hat. Hell was one of them.
The dreams, her defective bike, Little Rock...it was enough to break a girl down to drinking. Which, in effect, it had.
Of course, now she was just staring mournfully at the bottle. "Oh, why the hell not. Not like anyone's here to care, right?" Jubilee sighed heavily, reaching over to grab the bottle and unscrew the top. But before she could, her cellphone rang, nearly causing her to topple over in her chair with surprise.
It was impossible! No one had this phone's extension; she paid more then enough money to make sure this private number remained private.
At least...she thought she had...
Warily eyeing the ringing phone, she rose to her feet and padded across the room to pick up the phone from her bedside table. She took a deep, cleansing breath to calm herself, then clicked it on. Her voice was sharp, "If this is some punk asking me if I like scary movies...there will be serious bloodshed. And bub, it won't be mine."
The voice on the other end of the line was wry. "Jubilation Lee, is that any way to answer a phone? Child, you watch too many slasher films. Honestly."
Jubilee gasped into the phone, her fingers clutching so hard that her knuckles were white. "ORORO? But how did you...this number's not listed...you..."
"Jubilation. Please. We are the X-Men. How long did you think it would take us to crack into the AOL database and find this number?" Ororo's tone could be construed as nothing less then smug.
Jubilee let out a heaving sigh and flopped on the bed, "A lot longer then this? Okay, okay...so you found me. This a social call or is..is something wrong?" Sudden visions of Logan or Remy being seriously injured flashed through her mind, and she bit down hard on her lower lip.
"Oh yes...things are quite horrid." Ororo's voice held an almost icy calm to it.
"What?!? What happened? Is someone hurt? Oh God, don't let it be Remy or Logan! Tell me it's not Remy or Logan!" the young woman squeaked. Panic turned her thoughts into a blur. If she grabbed a cab in the next thirty minutes, she could be out of this Black Hole in the Universe within a few hours...which could be too late...she could ask the others to send the Blackbird, but what if they were using it to save Remy's life? Or Logan's? Maybe they were using it to lift a mountain, or a Sentinal, or maybe a really, REALLY irate Rogue off of their broken and abused bodies...
"As a matter of fact, it is Logan and Remy. They're dying...of lonliness." Ororo's tone was caustic.
Jubilee let out a quiet breath of relief. Oh thank God, neither one of them were really...wait-a-minute. Her eyes narrowed, as she asked warily, "Meaning what, 'Ro?"
"Meaning, young lady, why are you not home? Why are you off galvanting across the country for no sane reason, driving the two men you love up the proverbial wall with your notable absence?" Ororo questioned harshly. She could hear the younger woman take a sharp intake of breath, as if Ororo had slapped her. Well then, good. This entire phone call was to shock Jubilee into coming back after all. Shock value was paramount.
Jubilee gulped. Uh-oh. Ororo was mad...wait, insert FURIOUS. Jubilee could almost see the dark clouds surrounding the Mansion now. She stuttered, "Well..you see...I'm trying to find myself and that..takes space. Lots of it...so I went and found...space here. Yeah."
Ororo let out what could only be called a snort. "I am quite sure that finding yourself had nothing to do with this trip. Space, indeed."
Jubilee felt a flash of anger work through her, "Oh really, and why do you think I'm out here in the middle of proverbial NO-where-ville? Because I'm enjoying the scenic VIEW?"
"What do I think of this ridiculous situation? Very well, Jubilation, you asked, and now you shall recieve. I think you are in love with Remy and you do not know how to tell him. I think you are under the impression that he does not love you in return. I also think that is why you have run half-way across the country, because you are too afraid to even attempt to ask if he does, or does not. Might I add that I think that you are under some serious delusions? Yes, I believe I shall. That, Jubilation, is what I think." Ororo stated simply.
"Uh...uh...well...er..." Jubilee felt her face turn beet-red. If Ororo knew how she felt then everyone else must know, too. Aw...crud.
"I believe I have stated the facts quite clearly, and succinctly. Do feel free to try and find error in my logic." Ororo's voice was steely enough to mark it as a challenge.
There was a long sigh from Jubilee, and a muttered, "Jeez, did I forget to take down the 'Obviously In Love With Remy' neon sign when I left home? That was stupid of me...gotta remember to do that the next time I run off in the midst of outright paranoia..."
Ororo's tone softened slightly, "Jubilee...did it ever occur to you that Remy might indeed feel the same way?"
"Sure it did. And then I woke up from the nice dream," Jubilee sighed dejectedly.
Ororo gave out an aggrivated sigh as Bobby Drake and Warren Worthington III popped their heads into the study where Ororo was making her call. Bobby had a bowl of popcorn under one arm, while Warren carried a number of video tapes. "Are you coming, Ororo? We're about to start," Warren said, lifting one blond eyebrow.
"Yeah, the Xavier's Film Festival awaits us. I still say we should start with 'Mallrats', though," Bobby said mournfully. Warren gave him a look and whacked the younger man with one feathery wing.
"We are starting with 'Much Ado About Nothing', Bobby. You lost the coin toss, three times in a row. So please stop whining about it?" A wry look passed Warren's handsome blue face, as he shook his head ruefully for Ororo's benifit.
Bobby made a good natured 'Yuck' face at his old friend. "Yes, which I am re-naming 'Much Ado About BOR-ing English People In Italy Who Babble On'. I don't want to watch Keaunu Reeves do Shakesphere. He's scary enough as Bill. Or was he Ted? Anywho, who's on the phone, Storm? New boyfriend--OW, damn it Warren, watch where you're swinging those things. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to give me brain damage!" Bobby grumbled, rubbing his head where Warren had smacked him again.
Warren retorted, his blue eyes flashing with amusement, "It's hard to damage something that doesn't exist, Robert."
Ororo fought off a grin, as she said calmly, "Simply talking to the original Jubilee-prototype, as Henry would say, Robert. I will be there in...a moment?" Both ivory white brows rose on Ororo's beautifully carved face, as she watched both Bobby's and Warren's expressions widen with shock. Both men scrambled across the room, dropping the popcorn and the video tapes by the door as they went for the other phone extension in the room.
Bobby managed to grab it first. "Jubilee! Where are you? Come home! Come home now! They're making me watch Shakesphere and I haven't been able to think of a good prank in weeks! Besides the Jubilee-skrulls are starting to freak us all out!" He mock-shuddered, as he 'iced' the ground beneath Warren's feet, causing the other man to crash to the carpeted floor with a curse totally unlike the usually composed Angel.
"Er..hey Bobby..uhm...a Jubilee what?" Jubilee winced. She would have hung up the phone, but now they knew the number. Knowing the X-Men, they'd just keep calling. They were more persistant then born-again Christians.
"A Jubilee-skrull. They look like you, and talk like you, but they AREN'T you. Remy keeps bringing them home. Can we say, desperate? We can, because he is!" Bobby yelped, as a feathered wing smacked him solidly between the shoulder blades, sending him flying face first into the floor.
There was a slight scuffle for a moment, and then Warren's voice growled into the phone, "That's right. He's lonely, and miserable and FRANKLY Jubilee, if there is one thing more annoying than LeBeau himself, it is a MOPING LeBeau. I DEMAND you come home and make him stop. Immediately."
"Well, Feather-head, I would but..." Jubilee heard more questioning voices in the background. Then there was more scuffling in the background as someone yanked the phone away from Warren.
"Jubeciata! Get your skinny gringa butt back here!" Angelo Espinosa bellowed into the reciever, fury pouring through his tone.
"Uhm..hi Ang? How are you liking the X-Men?"
"HOW AM I LIKING THE X-MEN?? This is what you're askin' me? Chica, I'm gonna trace this call, track you down and then WHOMP your ass for asking me something that - that stupido! COME HOME! EVERYONE is miserable without you 'cuz LOGAN and REMY are MAKING us miserable!"
There was another scraping noise, and Paige Guithre yelled into the phone, "JUBILATION LEE! COME HOME NOW! The furniture can't take it anymore! Do you KNOW how many sofas Logan's ripped apart? FIVE! FIVE Ah said! We're all sittin' on the blessed FLOOR, thanks to you!"
Jubilee winced again. Well, there went the impression that Paige would at least be taking all of this in her usual calm manner. She stuttered, "Well, Paige..I mean..just like...put him in a room with, er, plastic furniture?"
"Put him in a room with - JUBI-LEE! I am gonna..." The phone was ripped away from Paige, and another voice hit her ear.
"Jubilation! Salutations!" Hank McCoy said cheerily into the phone.
Jubilee let out a quiet sigh of relief. At least Hank wouldn't scream at her.. "Heya Beaster."
"So I take it by your presence on our lovely Mother Bell instrument that the number which I so carefully hacked out of the rather pathetic AOL password system for Ororo was the correct one?" There was no mistaking the crafty, knowing tone.
"You're the one who - BEAST, I'M GONNA KILL YOU!" Jubilee squealed, stamping both of her feet hard on the carpeted floor, practically writhing with fury.
"Ah, but you have to return to your native homestead first to do that, do you not? Gives you a tad bit more incentive, hm? Or should I tell you about how Remy stays up all hours of the night talking to me just because he can't sleep? Now, anyone who can sit through two hours of me babbling on about the wonders of hydroxide in a oxyide mixture has either a yearning heart - or he's lost his ever lovin' mind."
"Don't tell me. Come Home."
"And to think they used to state your intelligence was less then average." Before Jubilee could get in a word edgewise, someone else took the phone from Beast.
It was Rogue, her tone biting, "Jubilee, yah remember the time yah wiped the floor with me in the Danger Room for hurtin' Remy? Yah don't come home - we're doin' ROUND TWO, sugah."
"AND I will HELP her," Betsy Braddock said in a low, dangerous tone, "Because I can take Logan being moody. I can certainly deal with Remy being angsty. Both together create an emotional maelstorm that is making my mental shielding cringe. Return Home. Now."
Jubilee was about give a scathing retort, when someone else picked up the line. Male, with a thick British accent. "Hallo? This Jubilee?"
Jubilee raised an eyebrow. Huh, had the Prof finally broken down and gotten a real English butler? (Of course, what Jubilee didn't know was this was Pete Wisdom, who would have been affronted at being called a butler. He would have asked that he at least be demoted to stable boy.) "Yeah?" she asked, curiousity taking over her slowly rising anger.
"Ahh, good. Come bloddy well home, y'crazy bird! I'm sick of Jubilee-skrulls bummin' m'fags, drinkin' m'coffee, and I am bloody well sick of sittin' on the floor because yer pal Logan never heard of anger management! No more bimbos! Come Back!"
Jubilee felt her teeth clench. It was one thing to be yelled at by the 'Family', but by some British dude she didn't even know? This was the final straw. She snapped back, "You have no right to talk to me that way, ya Monty Python rip-off! Besides the fact that if yer so freakin' concerned about your freakin' cigarettes and coffee, why don't you just tell them 'Bite Me'? Which is what I'm tellin' you, asshole. BITE ME!"
There was a slight pause, then Pete's bemused voice snickered, "Well luv, why don't you jest come back so I can? Might make up fer all those stolen cigarettes. Heh."
Momentarily speechless, Jubilee seethed. Really, what right did any of them have to tell her to come home like she was a child of five? Absolutely no right at all. So what if Logan and Remy were - miserable. It didn't matter...okay, so it was bugging her...but Logan and Remy were big boys. They could take care of themselves. They didn't need her around to play leash holder - right?
It was then she noted the dead silence on the other side of the phone. She frowned for a moment, wondering if she was about to get group attacked again - until another masculine voice spoke into the line, a firm tone of authority and slight disapproval, "Jubilee."
It took just that one word from Professor Charles Xavier to make Jubilee bite back any harsh words she had to say. She took a deep breath, and then said as calmly as she could into the phone, "Yes, Prof?"
"Come home." Xavier stated, putting a world of meaning into just two words. Come home, your family misses you. Come home, the two men you love the most are in pain because you are gone. Come home because that is where you belong. That was what those two little words said into Jubilee's brain. Then the phone clicked off. Jubilee was left in silence once more, contemplating. It was like he opened a door in her mind to the pain she was causing to herself and to those she loved the most. Actually, knowing the Prof, he just might have.
She didn't even realize that Ororo was still on the line until she heard the other woman speak quietly. "Jubilee, stay away if you truly wish, but remember this: your heart is not the only one lost and yearning. Remember that, and make your decision."
Then there was no other noise besides the dial tone. Jubilee bit her lip hard, clicking off the phone silently. Then she flopped back on her bed, folding her slender arms above her dark head. Well, Tante had told her that the summons would come like a lightening bolt out of a clear sky - and what better way to get a little electricity flowing then to enrage a Storm?
So she was going home. Yep. Going home. At long last.
Well, as soon as her bike was fixed, anyways.
"So let me get dis straight, son," Jean Luc LeBeau said thoughtfully, folding his hands into a steeple while he looked at Remy curiously. "Yah want me t'use de resources of de Guild t'help you find a girl ya can't find on y'own?"
The two LeBeau men were sitting in the plush living room in the Guild House, and Jean Luc was finding no end of amusment in the fact that of all the chairs in the room, Remy had picked the exact same one that Jubilee had on her first visit there two months earlier. He watched his son quietly, seeing that look of longing drifting through the back of the eerie 'demonic eyes'. It had simply been a matter of time, Jean Luc knew, before his son came here. He briefly pondered what Remy would do to find Jubilee. The older man would bet that the answer was just about anything.
"Yah, dat's pretty much the long and the short of it, Poppa." Remy fidgeted in his chair, letting out a quiet breath. He hated coming home - simply for the reason that he never really was home when he returned to New Orleans. It was always on some 'favor' to the Clan that he simply felt honor bound to uphold. Now, he was turning the tables. If his father wouldn't, or couldn't help him...he would have to go for more desperate measures. He had to find Jubilee. He'd do whatever he had to. Simple as that.
"Could take awhile, son - big country. No one really knows where dat girl went. Gonna have t'put a few dozen men on it...or have Tante Mattie do a readin'. This could take months. You think ya can wait dat long?" Jean Luc said, his expression unreadable.
Remy let out a long breath, looking to the window beyond his father's chair. Might as well start with the truth right here with his own father. "I love her, Poppa. Don' matter how it long takes, I jest wanna be with her. I've been waitin' my entire life t'find a woman who was gonna love me jest for me, t'understand the kind of life I've had t'lead. Jubilee understands it, 'n more importantly accepts it. Few more months, years...it's not gonna matter. I gotta be with her." His tone was firm, brooking no argument. He would wait. He was, well, sort of used it by now.
Jean Luc nodded his head slowly as he reached into his inner jacket pocket, pulling out a bio-scanner. He tossed it into Remy's lap, saying calmly, "Den you're gonna need dis." The look of complete amazement on Remy's face was enough for his father to add in amusment, "Thought ya might need dis a coupla months ago when I met de girl. She is a keeper, Remy. De kinda woman a wise thief can really love, 'n respect. Don' let dis one get away from you."
Remy stared up at his father in amazment before clicking on the bio-scanner. It pinpointed Jubilee to be a few hundred miles away. Huh. That meant she was somewhere in - Arkansas? Yeah, that sounded about right. He glanced up at his father once more, flashing a knowing grin. "Poppa, sometim's havin' a thievin' rascal fer a father is de best thing that ever happened t'me.."
Jean Luc smiled softly, "Consider dis one a downpayment..on all de favors de Clan owes ya."
There was a long pause, as father and son looked at each other solemnly for a moment. Then Remy moved forward and hugged his father tightly, "Merci, Poppa.."
Jean Luc held his son for a moment, pushing down sudden tears. "Non, mon fil...thank you. Now, stop gabbin' away with y'father 'n go find dat femme."
Remy straightened with an amused smirk. "Poppa, remind me when dis is all over t'introduce you to a man named Logan. I be thinkin' you two will have lots t'chat over.."
One thing that Jubilee couldn't fault Little Rock on was its parks. The one she had entered several hours earlier was truly beautiful. The trees were filled with leaves of red and gold, and a slightly cold breeze made the air crisp, but not overly so. She herself was bundled up in a short, black leather trench, matching pants, and a heavy blue sweater. Around her neck she wore a multicolored scarf of rich blues, purples, and dark reds, with matching gloves on her slender hands. The breezes played with her black tresses as she sat beneath one of the large oak trees, listlessly watching some children play football in a wide field below.
Her bike was fixed. Her bags were packed. All she had to do was get up, walk out the park, pick up her bike from the shop, and start home again. Yep. She just had to get up.
She wasn't getting up. Scared? Who her? Oh...yeah. She sighed heavily and glanced over to her backpack, where she had left her laptop. Earlier on, when she had entered the park, she had thought that it would be a brilliant idea to just email Remy and tell him how she felt. That way, the moment she saw his face she'd know where she stood.
Of course, every letter she started just seemed wrong. The words came out all jumbled and clumsy. She felt like she was twelve years old again and trying to ask if some boy LIKE-liked her. 'Why don't I just ask him to mark the Yes box if he loves me, and the No box if he doesn't?' she thought to herself with a weary smirk.
She knew what she wanted to say in her heart, but the words just seemed to get all tangled in her throat. She closed her eyes tightly, leaning back against the rough bark of the oak tree. Another breeze blew past her face, and she caught the strong scent of cinammon and other spices. It reminded her of an aftershave Remy favored and she sighed heavily, whispering, "I miss you Gumbo."
A long shadow fell over Jubilee's face and a soft masculine voice said, "Missed ya too, p'tite." Remy leaned against the tree, his trenchcoat floating around him as he folded his arms over his chest. He felt a smile blossom as Jubilee slowly opened her eyes wide, surprise spreading over her delicate features. She stood quickly, then turned around to look at him.
Then there was silence, as blue eyes met crimson ones. It was like the call of the sirens; neither could look away, and neither wanted to. Another gust of wind blew the leaves around them, causing their coats to flap in the wind. Jubilee took a deep breath, before speaking, "You found me."
Remy nodded his head, saying quietly, "Gotta a little help along de way." He took out the bio-scanner and watched as a surprised, then suddenly knowing look crossed her face. He couldn't help but smirk.
"That sneaky - he said he was just mucking with it...a better way to track the Clan when they went out on a big mission," Jubilee muttered quietly. "Should've known something was up when he said he just wanted to 'test' it on me."
"Yah, us LeBeau men know how t'get what we want when we really want it," Remy said, turning his eyes away as he put the scanner away. Then he looked up at her again, his expression a mixture of calm and longing.
Jubilee tilted her head as she folded her hands behind her, "Really now? What is it that you want?" She tried to breathe evenly. It wasn't exactly happening.
"Want you t'come home..." Remy let his hands fall to his sides for a moment. He wanted so much more, but if she just came home with him, right now..it would be enough.
Jubilee's heart twisted her chest. "There's nothing in the world I'd rather do then go with you..." Her voice filled with emotion she still couldn't say. She half turned from him, afraid to look into his eyes.
"You mean dat chere?" Remy took a step forward. He clenched his fist for a moment, then held out his hand slowly. 'Just let go, LeBeau..don't think...just go with yo'r heart..' he steeled himself quietly.
Jubilee turned towards him, blue eyes shining, "Anywhere, Remy. I'd go anywhere with you." She hugged herself for a moment, looking at that hand.
Remy let out a slow breath he hadn't known he was holding in, his voice quiet, "Will y'trust me when I say dat de thing you were runnin' away from don't want you t'be runnin' away no more?"
"So, the thing that I was...yeah, running from...," Jubilee smiled ruefully at her own admission, "...wants me around?"
"More den anythin'," Remy whispered, still holding out one black gloved hand. "You trust me?" A simple question, with a very loaded answer, either way. It could make or break him. All she had to do was say one little word, give him one small touch - and his life would be complete.
If she turned away - something inside of him would curl up and die. He knew it would be his heart.
Jubilee looked at that hand for another long minute, then at the man standing before her. Hope glimmered in his eyes, and love - love as well. He loved her. It wasn't a lie, it wasn't a dream. All she had to do was swallow her own fear...reach across that space...and touch him. Did she know how to love him the way he needed? Could she?
There was only one way to find out. And so she reached across that space, gloved fingers reaching out to curl around his own hand. She looked into Remy's face, into his heart, and murmured, "Always, Remy...always."
He nodded his head and without another word pulled her into his arms for a tight embrace, burying his face in her silky black tresses. She wrapped her arms around him, breathing in his warmth. She crushed her cheek against his chest, right above his heart. He spoke without thinking. "Love you, p'tite."
Then she said the four words that Remy had dreamed of hearing for so long.
"Love you too, Gumbo."