Through the darkened stairwell, Paige Guthrie looked up and saw her friend's mentor standing there, watching the scene that was playing out before him. She met his gaze, and he nodded and motioned her to go through the kitchen, to the lesser used staircase in the back of the house. Silently, she slipped from the sides of her friends as they watched Hank and Jean argue anxiously, and strode confidently to the back of the large mansion. She had been this route a few times already, when she had gone to visit her brother, Sam, while he was still on the team, and Jean had just washed the carpet on the main staircase, requiring everyone to go around. Tucking an errant strand of short blonde hair behind her ear, she climbed the stairs and was greeted by Logan at the top. Without a word, he turned and led her to his room, where the mysterious man she knew as Remy LeBeau, or Gambit, stood by the open window, smoking a cigarette.
The clouds had gathered once again, though this time, only a light mist fell, and the sun peeked through the clouds, scattering silvery diffused light around the room. With a look, Logan told her to wait by the door, then crossed to awaken Jubilee, who slept, thin and pale, beneath the dark covers of his bed. He sat on the mattress beside the girl and took one of her slender hands in his, whispering her name. After a moment, her eyes fluttered open.
"Guthrie's here t' see ya," he said softly, and she wondered if he actually remembered her first name. She had gotten somewhat used to being referred to by others as her brother's sister.
"Sam?" she rasped, but he shook his head and pointed toward the door. Jubilee's head rolled to the side and the girl looked over to see her former teammate standing on the threshold, watching her. "Paige."
The Kentucky blonde stepped into the room, giving her friend a slight smile. "Hi, Jubilee." Her attempt to hide her accent was abandoned; there was no room for pretenses here. Without a word, Remy and Logan left, though both girls knew at least Logan would be waiting just outside.
The carpet fell away beneath Paige's feet and she found herself kneeling beside the bed, holding her friend's tiny hand in both of hers, tears blurring her vision. "Ah'm so sorry, Jubilee. We nevah meant ta upset ya. It was all mah fault. Ah was the one who made the bannah and things. Ah just thought ya might need ta know that we love ya." The younger girl said nothing, and Paige went on. "Ange an' Jono are heah, too. We had ta skip class ta come see ya. We knew Miss Frost an' Mistah Cassidy wouldn't let us come, so we pooled all ouah money togethah ta catch a cab, but we still didn' have enough. Then Monet gave a pair a earrin's ta sell. She misses ya. We all miss ya. But we jus' want ya ta get bettah."
"How much do you know?" Paige could see the pain in Jubilee's eyes as she spoke the words, and the shame. How horrible this must be for her.
"The team knows that ya jumped outta yoah window, but everyone else jus' thinks theah was a death in yoah family or somethin' an' whethah you'ah comin' back is questionable."
"I'm not," she firmly stated, and Paige hesitated.
"Ya don't hafta. We'll miss ya, but we'll come visit ya when we can. Heah. Ah brought ya somethin'. Ah wanted ta buy ya somethin' pretty, but Ah spent all mah money tryin' ta get heah. So Ah decided ta give ya this." From her shoulder bag, she pulled a Counting Crows CD. It was one of her favorites, and she had always yelled at Jubilee whenever she had tried to put it in her own collection. Now, she gave it freely, and Jubilee realized how ludicrous those arguments had become in light of recent events. Now, Paige would have done anything if it would bring a smile to Jubilee's lips. The girl just eyed the gift, knowing she should thank her, but the words wouldn't come. Paige didn't seem to mind. "Jono an' Ange wanna see ya, too, if ya want."
"Don't let them see me like this."
The older girl could only imagine what was going through her friend's head as she glanced around the room, then her eyes settled on Jubilee's vivid blue ones once more. "Do ya want me ta do yoah hair?"
The young Chinese-American looked startled for a moment, then turned her head away, back toward the window, where the rain shimmered like fairies' wings as the sun reflected and refracted against it. She watched it for a moment, then looked back at the girl she had been sharing a room with before ... before everything, and she nodded. "Yeah. Do my hair."
(Written by Dana Night)
Jubilee trembled a bit as Paige pulled the brush through her hair, straightening it to it's normal spiky-locked shape. Teasing a few extra strands into place, Paige sat back and smiled at her, happy that she could help the younger girl when she was in such a poor state.
"Ah didn't expect ya'll t' look like y' do." she mumbled, glancing at Jubilee.
"What did you think I'd look like after going through a window?" her face suddenly became a mask of pain again, saddened at bringing up the memories. "Did you think that I'd look like the same old me?"
"No. Ah thought yah'd be like, worse in a way, but better in uhthers. Just not like this." Paige smiled bashfully and then stood. "Do ya want me t' send Wolverine foah Jono an' Ange?"
"Do I look okay? Really?" Paige paused and then nodded, smiling again. "Okay, tell Wolvie t' get them."
"No need chica, we are already here." Angelo pushed open the door and walked over to her, Jono trailing behind casually. "Mrs. Summers said that Paige was gone and found her up here."
Behind the three friends, Logan walked in, more pushed by Jean and Hank than anything. The chatter suddenly stopped as the redhead and the two men watched the children interact with each other. Jubilee fidgeted in the bed, pulling the covers straight as Angelo propped himself up on the side of the bed, Jono sitting on the couch and Paige still standing behind Angelo cautiously, twiddling her fingers together.
"I'm okay." Jubilee scowled at Hank as he moved to talk with her. He nodded and backed away, turning to go out the door. Jean frowned contemplatively and sighed, knowing it was a lost war. Logan sat down firmly as she followed Hank out into the hallway again. "You can go too if ya want Wolvie, I got three other people in here watching me."
"No, I'm here to watch you don't tire yerself out. You just go ahead and talk, but I'm watching fer how she does." he sat back on the couch, Jono turning his attentions from the hairy man beside him to the girl on the bed again. He almost seemed to smile at her, and she gave a weak smile back, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear.
"How come you guys came?" she almost whispered to them, playing with the covers. "I mean, why didn't ya call or something first?"
"Um ... well ..." Paige smiled at Jono and Angelo and then turned to Jubilee again. "Like Ah said, we had t' get out o' the school befoah Miz Frost and Mistah Cassidy were up, so we skipped. If we'd'a called ya, she'd find out right away befoah we even left by the telephone bill."
Jubilee smiled happily, clapping her hands together a bit. "Bravo! You guys really figured it out this time. Not like last time when you called and used her credit cards to get where you were going eh?"
Angelo smiled bashfully and Jubilee chuckled but then stopped, the pain in her stomach becoming more intense with the movement. "Chica, you okay?"
"Fine. I ... uh ... hurt my stomach the other day." Logan looked over at her carefully, studying her as she moved a bit from the discomfort. So Jubilee's chosen the 'don't-tell-everything-just-something's' approach, he thought to himself, biting down on a cigar.
"Darlin' I'm going to go and get some more coffee and smoke my cigar outside. I'll be back up in a bit to kick 'em all out." he stood and waited for her to respond before moving to the doorway to leave.
(Written by Nova Zion)
With all adults gone from the room, the three visiting teens exploded with comments and questions, each knowing their time was very limited. Closing her eyes, Jubilee held up a hand, and the room fell silent once more, all eyes upon her, watching expectantly. "I'm fine," she said to no one in particular, knowing this was the first and foremost question on everyone's mind. "I got a couple a cracked ribs, which're healin', my back's kinda scraped up, I sprained my wrist, but it's better, an' I gave myself this gash. Swear on yer soul no one but Ev an' Monet know." The three nodded solemnly. "So, uh, how long're ya stayin'?"
Angelo fielded this. "Actually, chica, just until Emma 'n' Sean get wind a us bein' gone."
"But Ah'd lahke t' stay longer," interrupted Paige, "if it's okay with you. Ah mean ... well Ah jus' thought maybe ya may want someone yoah own age evera once in a while, t' chat with. Ah could sleep in yoah old room, since it looks lahke y'all 're stayin' in heah. Ah could be in with a snap a yoah fingahs, an' out just as fast. But if ya don't think ya need-"
"No," Jubilee cut in. "That'd be neat."
Paige and Angelo beamed, while Jono tried to project waves of happiness at her, but only succeeded in a sparkle in his bright green eyes and a crinkle at their corners.
"How're ya gonna 'okay it' with the adults, though?"
Jono reached over and grasped the girl's hand with a tenderness she'd never felt from him before. Rubbing a thumb over the several tiny bumps that pocked the back of her hand, indicating where many IV's had been inserted, he told her softly, making his "voice" as unintrusive as he possibly could, *Luv, around here, a word from your mouth is law.*
(Written by Dana Night)
For the first time in the past week, Logan was completely alone. And he was hating it. In only 7 days, Jubilee had become such a part of his life, he needed to be there for her and he'd forgotten what to do on his own. Staring out over the slight hill in the back grounds of the Westchester mansion, he smiled as the mist fell and thought of Jubilee, wondering if she was alright upstairs with people she hadn't considered her friends only the other day. A slight breeze shifted in the air and Logan looked down at the now wet grass in thought.
She was a strong girl, a good girl and she'd get through it.
The words he'd spoken to Remy flashed through his mind and he shook his head, knowing that it could either be true or not. She was indeed a good girl, and very strong with a great mind to be able to get through this, but if she'd tried five times to kill herself, Logan could only think that she would probably do it again, even succeed.
He sipped at his coffee in the thermos he'd brought out, glad it was still warm even with the lid off. Lighting up the cigar that was still clenched between his teeth, he sucked the warm, yellow, acrid smoke into his lungs and exhaled, feeling his healing factor take out the toxins quickly. The one thing that kept him alive all these years had real side effects.
"Hey Storm." Logan nodded at the woman he knew was behind him, at least ten feet above, floating on the gentle breeze. Her scent had been downwind until the air had shifted a moment ago. "Yer gettin' pretty good at keepin' outta sight of me."
"I did not control the wind this time. As Remy puts it, Lady Luck seems to have done it for me." she smiled and sat down beside him on a dryer portion of grass beneath the shady tree. "Have you come out to enjoy nature and it's surroundings?
"Yeah. Told Jubes I'd come out and smoke this cigar and rest a bit." he leaned against the large, hard trunk, sighing as a small brown bird flew from their tree to the next, chirping in the early afternoon mist. He handed the black coffee to Storm, who took a quick sip to warm her up and passed it back.
"Who is with her? Remy again?"
"Nah. Some o' the kids from the Academy came to check up on her and they're talkin' up there. I gotta go clean the room out soon, so she doesn't get too tired."
"You seem to miss her now Logan." Storm turned to her old friend, smiling at him. "I marvel at the way you handle her. I would never have though to see you as one for children, yet here you are caring for one with such a passion and loving it. It is almost as if she is your own."
"I care about her. I know her past now, and there's a lot - and I mean a lot - of stuff she just hasn't told anyone and can't. She is like my daughter, but she was before. Now, it's just cemented there." Logan gazed at the black clouds coming across the horizon. "'Nother big storm comin', 'Ro?"
"Yes, close to a hurricane I'd say. And I realize that you changed the subject. How is Jubilee faring?"
"Good, she's good. Strong and tough, just like I taught her. Coping good." Logan nodded his head and gulped back some coffee.
"Logan, you are showing me yet another side I never knew existed." she patted his knee softly and then stood. "I must go, I am wanted in the kitchen to help start cooking supper for tonight."
(Written by Nova Zion)
Jubilee tried her best to suppress a giggle at Angelo's impression of a lecture Sean had given the other day, but failed miserably, her thin hands pressed firmly against her mouth, to try and prevent the telltale signs of actual happiness from escaping. Downstairs, the phone rang, and Angelo, Jono and Paige all paled considerably. The room fell silent, and all four teens strained to hear the conversation that ensued once Bobby answered the phone. No one stirred, and even the misty rain seemed to pause as the anticipation ran high within the small confines of the four walls. Suddenly, Drake's voice carried up the dark stairwell, shouting, "Paige! You're wanted on the phone."
Grudgingly, the girl stood and, casting a wan smile to her bedridden friend, turned and left the room. No one moved in her absence, and both boys seemed to visibly jump when Jubilee let out a short, dry cough.
*You all right, gel,* Starsmore asked, more to fill the silence than anything else.
"I'm fine." Her voice was irritated, and if he had offered a helping hand, she would have swatted at it. Angelo said nothing, only looked on. A moment later, Paige entered the room once more.
"Ang, Miss Frost wants t' talk t' you," she said, her voice weary. Turning to Jubilee as the Latino boy left the room, she added, "An she wants t' know if you'll speak t' her, too."
"Didja get busted?" Jubilee asked.
"Not as much, since Ah told her ya asked me t' stay heah. Ang might, though. An' Ah wouldn't be suhprised, Jono, if she asks t' speak t' you, jus' so she can give ya a pre-lecture, befoah ya go back an' get the real thing. But now she wants t' speak t' you, Jubilee, if you'ah up foah it, an' then she'll talk t' Mistah Logan or Doctah McCoy t' see if it's okay with them. Are ya up foah a trek downstairs an' a chat with Miss Frost?"
Jubilee paused, then nodded and began to sit up, just as Logan entered the room. Giving her a sharp look, and menacing glares to the other two teens, he asked gruffly, "What're ya doin'?"
"I'm gonna go talk ta Frosty ta see if I can get Hayseed ta stay here fer awhile."
He eyed Paige, who chose that moment to examine her fingernails as they rested in her lap. "Is that what ya want?" he asked finally. Jubilee nodded firmly.
"We got it all figgered out. She stays in my room, an' whenever I want, like, someone my own age or whatever ta talk to, bam an' she's right there."
"Don't y' have school?" This question was for Paige.
She looked up, blue eyes full of hope as she explained, "Ah've been workin' the past few days t' get caught up foah the next few weeks. Aftah that, I can stand t' be a little behind, if it's foah Jubilee's sake."
*Besides,* Jono chipped in, *me an' the other chaps can drop by an' give the gel 'er lessons an' rot.*
Logan nodded thoughtfully. They had proved it was doable, at least in verbal arguments. "All right. But ya ain't goin' downstairs fer a lousy phone call." Opening the top drawer of his dresser, he removed a phone that, although it was a little battered and seemed to have more duct tape than McGuiver, it still seemed to work as he stooped to plug it into the phone jack that was hidden behind the bed. With a polite nod, he handed the receiver to Jubilee, who took it gratefully in trembling hands.
"Frosty?" she said, and her voice seemed small, like that of a lost child. "Yeah, Ang, ya can get off fer now. Frosty, it's Jubilee. Miss me?" She paused, and a tiny smile crossed her face. "Yeah." She paused again, searching Logan's face and, with her free hand, she reached out to squeeze his, and his massive paw seemed to swallow her porcelain one. "Yeah. I think it'd be nice ta have her here, ya know?" Again a beat, and she licked her lips. "Thanks Frosty. I hafta go, but here's Wolvie." Angelo entered the room as the phone was passed from protegee to protector, and Jubilee gave Paige a little nod. "She says it's A-OK."
(Written by Dana Night)
Jono and Angelo bid goodbye to Jubilee, each with a kiss; in Jono's case, pressing where his lips use to be against her temple. Logan lifted her to the window so she could see them leave at an angle at least in the cab he'd called to come get them, payed for by Frost Industries. The sky had darkened considerably in the last few hours, the clouds speeding through the sky over the mansion as Jubilee had watched them do only the other day.
"'Ro says it's gonna be a big storm." Logan sat her back down on the bed and she smiled, taking the hand of the quiet girl beside her in her own. "How's about I get us those glow sticks ya stuck in the fridge later on and Paige can sleep in here for tonight? Like a...sleepover or somethin'? Ya still got the other Jackie Chan movie t' watch."
"Sure! And you stay too!" Jubilee was excited, hyperactive to say the least. Sighing, he pulled the blanket over her feet and motioned for her to lay back on the bed. "I'm not tired!"
"You're too worked up. Hank told ya to take it easy and yer not, so now I'm gonna make sure ya are. Lay down, go to sleep. Paige, can ya go and knock on Remy's door an' see if he wants t' watch J fer a bit more?" Logan kissed her temple as Paige stood shakily and waved goodbye, wondering why she had to have someone watch her sleep. She mentally tried to remember which door was his before noticing that the door she was in front of was opening up before her.
"Woah! Allo chere. I t'ought you was Bobby playin' a joke with de door handles again." Remy looked out on her as he stepped back in surprise. Paige smiled shyly and opened her mouth to speak as he walked back into the room to grab a t-shirt to go with his jeans.
"Logan was wond'rin' if ya could watch Jubes f' jus' a bit. He's gotta talk t' me about her condition and watch she can do an' evahr'thin'." she smiled and the Cajun nodded, heading down to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Paige followed and stopped at the doorway as Logan finished talking with Jubilee. Remy sat down on the couch, propping his feet up on the bed and Logan stood to leave with Paige. She could hear Jubilee turn her 'new' Counting Crows on next to the bed, listening to it blast through her earphones as she closed her eyes and slowly rolled over into a more comfortable position, Remy flicking cards back and forth between his hands as he lazily stared out the window.
Logan and Paige had gone down to the kitchen to talk, each sitting across from the other at the table as they drank cup after cup of coffee. Paige smiled and traced the lines of the wood through the polish, waiting for Logan to speak first as he'd brought her here.
"I wanna let ya in on J's condition and what she can't do right now, but first I wanna know how much ya know." Logan's gruff voice snapped the Kentucky native's thoughts back to reality and she raised her head, watching him as he spoke to her.
"Ah know, as well as Monet, Ang, Jono an' Ev, that Jubilee threw herself outta a' window an' that she's bin recuperatin'. The uthahs at the school jus' think she had a death in the fam'ly." Logan eyed her warily, sizing her up as she stumbled along, trying to tell him all they'd been told by Emma and Sean. She was only a few years older than Jubilee, 16 or 17 at the most, and she seemed okay, nice like her brother and respectful of her elders.
"Well, ya know almost nothin'."
"Whataya mean? Miz Frost and Mistah Cassidy said that's what happened."
"They don't even know all of what's happened to Jubes." Logan chugged what was left of his coffee and stood to drop the mug in the sink before returning to the table. The blonde girl fidgeted noticeably and clasped her hands, studying the burly man before her as he scratched his head in wondering where to start.
Hank slowly pushed the door to Logan's room opened and looked inside. Remy turned his head and motioned for him to keep quiet and come in. Jubilee slept peacefully, every so often groaning as a muscles shifted or knotted up. Walking quietly into the small bedroom, Hank sat down on the edge of the couch, praying it would make no noise.
"How is she?" he asked, watching her side move rhythmically up and down with shallow breaths as she slept curled in the corner of the bed, headphones blaring music loudly.
"She be fine. She don' seem to 'ave anymore nightmares, but you 'ave t' ask Logan about nighttime. Paige's gonna stay wit' her f' a bit I t'ink to have someone her own age t' talk t'." Remy stopped flicking his cards and sat forward as she turned over, still asleep. Sitting back, he smiled and nodded. "She be fine."
(Written by Nova Zion)
Paige gnawed on her nails, despite the Nail Biter she had applied only that morning. At that moment, any nervous habit was calming. Logan watched her pensively, judging her reaction to the news he'd just revealed to her about Jubilee. The room was silent for several minutes, save the light tap of the drawstring to the blinds against the wall as a breeze brought in the scent of rain through the open window. Finally, the blonde removed her hand from her mouth, and Logan noticed that the tip of her ring finger bled from where she had bit it to the quick. She pressed this finger against her palm, both to stop the bleeding and to keep from getting blood everywhere. She no longer wondered why it was required that Jubilee be watched, even while asleep.
"M-may Ah g-go see her?" For some reason, she couldn't gain control of her verbal skills, and her eyes kept wandering to a point in the ceiling that she was convinced that her friend lay, almost thinking that, if she stared at it long enough, she'd be able to see through the plaster and sturdy construct to assure herself that, yes, Jubilee was still asleep in her bed, safe and sound, with Remy flipping through muted channels beside her.
Logan considered the girl. She wasn't very old, seventeen, she had told him. But there was something about her that spoke of a maturity beyond her years. Perhaps being the second oldest of so many siblings had taught her to take command, even in strenuous situations. He tried to imagine himself in her shoes; just finding out that his best friend had tried to take her own life several times, and wanting to see her, but patiently having to wait until he was granted permission by some strange man he'd only met but a few times. "Yeah," he granted. "Go see her."
She smiled gratefully and abruptly stood, ignoring the small black spots that swam before her vision as she rushed up the stairs to Jubilee's side as if the hounds of hell were at her heels.
"So then Monet stands up an' says, all regal lahke, 'Theah is no way Ah am goin' in theah.'" Paige dipped the small brush back into the nail polish, swiping it on the edge before returning to her friend's neglected nails.
"What'd Frosty do?" Jubilee inquired, trying not to giggle at the image of Monet St. Croix flat-out refusing an order coming directly from Miss Frost.
"Well, she made her go in anyway. An' as she shut the door, she said, 'Monet, y'all will learn some humility, or y'all will end up turnin' out lahke Emma Frost, White Queen of th' Hellfire Club's Inner Circle.'"
"She actually *said* that?"
"Yup." The blonde recapped the bottle, then leaned back to admire her work. "Theah. All done."
Jubilee lifted her hand to her face and began blowing on the freshly painted nails. From this angle, Paige could just make out the reddish-purple bruise on her wrist, tracing the artery there, and she turned away, feeling that, somehow, she was invading her friend's privacy.
"What?" Jubilee had a smirk on her face when Paige turned back, but it quickly faded at the older girl's expression, which she was trying to keep blank. "What?" she asked again, though this time, her voice was grave.
"Ah.. Ah spoke t' Mistah Logan this aftahnoon. He tol' me about ... everahthin'."
Jubilee's eyes dropped to her blanket, then back to her nails, which were spread across her knees. "Yeah? An' now I guess yer wonderin' how I could be so stupid, huh?"
"No." Blue eyes met blue eyes, and a small, quirky smile crossed the Kentucky native's face. "Ah guess Ah was thinkin' that Ah wished Ah was nicah t' you when we were roommates. Heck, compared t' you, mah life's been peaches an' cream. Ya didn' need all th' grief Ah gave ya."
Jubilee paused, then returned the smile. "Ya didn't give me nearly as much grief as I gave you, Hayseed. Remember the time I put that mouse in yer underwear drawer?"
The blonde laughed. "How could Ah fohget? Meanwhile, Ah do believe that is the only time Ah've evah seen you wake up cheerful."
"Hysterical," the younger girl corrected, then quickly sobered. "Naw. You were a good roomie, Paige. Thanks."
This time, the smile was big and toothy, and Paige reached out to squeeze her friend's hand, not caring if her nails were wet. "You, too."
(Written by Dana Night)
"Jubilee! You give me that back!" Paige smiled and poked her friends arm carefully, needling her for the shared potato chips she'd stolen over to her side of the bed.
"Nrh nrh!" Jubilee stuffed her mouth with a handful of chips and tried desperately to chew them all at once, crumbs falling al over the bedspread. "Ooh can' have 'em Paigey!"
Rumble In the Bronx had stared on the TV, Logan saying he was going to get a beer or two while the previews were on. Paige sighed and leaned over the side of the bed, looking under to where Logan said there was a chip stash. Pulling out a bag of Dill Pickle with a tiny squeal, Jubilee looked over and promptly gave up her regular - Paige's favorite - for the dill.
"What? Does he have a whole supply or something down there? Oh, these are good!" she exclaimed, scooping up a hand full to chew through. Reaching for Bamf, Jubilee curled up and turned the volume up a it, the chips in one hand, remote in the other.
"Okay, ya can all be quiet again, the movie's startin'." Logan pushed open the door and then shut it after Remy walked in behind him. The older man sprawled out on the couch comfortably, ignoring the springs, while the younger man sat down on the floor cross-legged, resting as he reached under the bed for a bag of barbeque chips.
"Just how many bags did you sneak under there while I was sleeping?" Jubilee reached over and poked Logan in the arm, smiling at him. "We've all got a bag except for you!"
"Enough to get me through three movies, 'cept you fell asleep at the second." Logan picked up her hand and held it as the previews finished and the movie started. Paige watched the little girl and her mentor carefully.
Their friends at the Academy seemed to think that her relationship, no matter how long they'd known each other, with the legendary berserker Wolverine of the X-Men was inappropriate for such a young girl and old man. But sitting here on her bed with her, seeing them hold hands closely and watching him tolerate her chatter and ribbing with love, Paige could see a different side of it.
They needed each other. In different ways, some the same, but they truly and deep down needed each other. Logan needed her to keep him sane, help him to love people and life and Jubilee needed him to be a best friend, a father-figure to help her with life. They were closer than you could imagine, just sitting in the same room with them you could feel their love for each other.
"Yo, Paige. Yer staring off into space girl!" Jubilee nudged her elbow gently and then turned back to the movie while Remy pulled out a cigarette and lighter. "Oh no! To the window with you!"
"Chere, you gonna make Remy get up and go all de way over to de window to smoke his little friend?" Remy rolled over from his position on the floor to look up at her, his red eyes smiling merrily as he smiled up at her.
"I don't like the smoke. Even Wolvie has to smoke at the window." she bent over carefully and patted his head. "Good boy."
Remy pretended to scowl but nevertheless, stood and went to the window behind the ugly couch, opening it wide to light up his cigarette.
Paige rolled over in bed slowly, eyes still closed as she woke to the morning jumble outside her room. Something hard hit her arm and Paige's eyes flew open in horror only to realize that she indeed wasn't in her own room back at the Academy, but in Jubilee's room at the Westchester mansion and had just hit the wall rolling the wrong way. Sighing in relief, she sat up, wondering why it was so loud outside the doorway in a house full of adults. It didn't even get that loud in the Academy.
The movie last night had been great and she and Jubilee had stayed up until 1 AM talking before Logan had given her a look and Jubilee said it was time to go. Remy had left early, complaining about being tired and heading to his room to think and sleep. Paige had found Jubilee's room easily by Jean advice in her head; go straight to the staircase, left and then second door on the right, looking out over the side yard.
Sighing, she looked at the alarm clock, pulling back the covers. She'd actually over slept for once; the alarm read 10 AM. No doubt Jubilee was still asleep. Paige quickly got dressed in her clothes from the day before, mentally thinking that if Ang and Jono remembered, her stuff should be there that afternoon so she could feel clean again.
(Written by Nova Zion)
To her surprise, the girl was awake by the time Paige was ready. The younger girl raised an eyebrow as Paige came timidly into the room upon Logan's beckoning. The older man sat on the bed, clasping the young girl's hand in both of his own and dropped a kiss on her forehead. The girl scowled, muttering something about him babying her, but she quickly amended the statement by throwing her arms around his thick necks, stating loudly, "I love ya, Wolvie."
"I love ya too, darlin'," he replied, hugging her back, then released her and stood. Turning to Paige, he gave her another once-over before stating, to both girls, "I'm gonna go down an' have me some coffee and a stogie. " To Jubilee, he added, "Stay outta trouble." Facing the Guthrie girl again, he told her, "Remy's jus' down the hall, if you need anything." With a nod to them both, he left the room.
"Yo, Hayseed, ya know, they make even me shower, an' I'm the invalid."
Paige felt her face go a bright crimson as she sat on the shabby couch and began picking at a loose thread. "Ah showahed," she said defensively. "Ah jus' don't have any othah clothes 'n these."
"You could wear some a mine."
Paige decided this would not be the best time to tell Jubilee what she thought of her sense of fashion and told her instead, "It wouldn't fit me."
Jubilee seemed to accept this, but her eyes sparkled mischievously. Paige decided it was time to change the subject.
"Didya sleep well?" she asked.
Jubilee looked away, avoiding her eyes. "They say it's gonna storm t'day," she said after a slight pause.
"Yup." The blonde didn't fail to notice how quickly the subject had shifted once again.
The silence fell thick around them, and Paige could tell that it wasn't her turn to speak, but the way it hung, lopsided, thicker on Jubilee's side. Finally, the younger girl opened her mouth, chapped lips parting to relay what Paige was sure one of her darker moments. "Ya say Wolvie told ya everythin'?" Her head turned back, blue eyes gaining a sort of slight glazed look as Paige nodded. "What's the worst thing ya ever went through, Guthrie?"
The older girl thought for a moment before carefully responding, "Ah guess that'd haff t' when mah momma was sick. Ah was so scared, an' the littleuns all looked up t' me, lahke Ah was this goddess that could wave a magic fairy wand an' make everahthin' okay again. Ah was so glad that Sammy was theah."
A wry smile appeared on Jubilee's face, and she blinked, focusing, before her vision blurred, her eyes refusing to fix on any one point. "Yer lucky. Yer worst moment wasn't happenin' ta *you*."
Paige didn't know how to respond to this, nor did she know if there even was a good retort. She let the silence fill the room once more, but this time, it was neither girl who interrupted it, but rather the battering of huge, icy drops against the window that shattered the stillness. Two pairs of eyes turned to find that a false twilight had fallen, and though thunder rumbled through the ominous clouds, no lightening illuminated the sky to shatter the effect.
Finally finding her tongue, the blonde asked in her best imitation of her mother, "Ya want breakfast? Maybe t' get up an' get dressed. Ah'm sure lyin' in this bed foahevah has given y'all a case o' cabin fevah. Maybe we could go t' yoah room an' see how you want it arranged, if'n y'all go back t' sleep theah." The accent was a little thick, and she cut back, letting her own self seep back in, but still hearing the words coming straight from her mother's mouth. "Ah know you didn't arrange it in the first place. Mrs. Summahs told me she an' Rogue did the honors. But really, Ah think you can do bettah. We could nab somethin' quick foah breakfast, an' head down theah. You tell me what t' do, an' I'll do it. Sound terrific?"
Jubilee's bemoaned answer incinerated all hope, and she felt the ashes of the ground she had gained with her former teammate fall between her fingers with three simple words, "What's the point?" Throwing one thin arm across her eyes, her stomach began heaving with sobs as she whimpered, "Where's Wolvie?"
Paige fought back her own tears and stood. She had been told that Jubilee was not to be left, even for an instant, especially not in this state. So, she did the only thing she could think of. After whispering a word of reassurance to her friend, she lifted her voice, shouting over the late-morning clatter in other parts of the house, "Mistah LeBeau? Mistah LeBeau, could ya come in heah a minute?"
It was a half a heartbeat that seemed like an eternity and a half before the Cajun appeared in the doorway. Kneeling on the couch, clutching her friend's hand, Paige turned tearfully, whispering hoarsely, "Go get Mistah Logan."
(Written by Dana Night)
Remy left the doorway as quickly as he'd come, a concerned look in his demon eyes that could not be faked. Paige sat down next to Jubilee and began to rub her back softly, trying not to cry right along with her. The cherry facade, the bubbly spirit from deep within her shattered and Jubilee wept, rocking back and forth as she did, her hands covering her face as she mumbled incessantly about the nightmares and her wishes.
Remy came back to the doorway only a minute or so later, making Paige wonder if he was a super-speed enable mutant in some way. Logan followed just as quickly and Paige let go of the girl's hand and let the short, hairy man sit beside her, taking over her job.
The child before them all seemed to crumble from within, shaking her head and moving away from him as he pulled her closer, trying to stop her from swinging her hands at him and causing more injury to herself. Her powers had given out fully, her body and mind too weak to support them and instead she stopped suddenly, just staring at them as her mind snapped under the stress and Logan's words reached through to her.
Logan gathered her into his arms, rocking her as he did when a nightmare claimed her mind during the night, waking him to still her with soothing words from her thrashing. Jubilee shook her head, her eyes far and distant as Logan held her hands, stopping her from the habitual rubbing of her wrists when she was upset. They were still raw, an ugly shade of crimson red with angry purple welts standing out against the otherwise pale skin.
"That's right darlin'. Ya do like I told ya...don't touch yer wrists, they're still raw." Logan's rough voice seemed to be a tranquilizer to the shaking girl. Jubilee's sobs subsided, her breathing calming again as she followed his instructions. "Slow, settle down and breathe...you'll hurt yerself more...slow...."
Paige sank into the couch while Remy sat on top of the mini fridge, waiting for his okay that she was alright and they didn't need anything. Jubilee held tightly to Logan's neck as a spasm wracked her body and he tucked her head under his chin, rubbing her back gently, feeling the almost totally healed scars. His neck craned so he could talk directly into her ear, calming her, soothing away her panic attack, brushing away her fears.
"I'm fine..." she croaked out in a tear choked voice, lifting her head. Her wrists unbound themselves from around Logan's neck and he loosened his grip on her back, seeing her smile sadly and almost embarrassed-like at her friend. "Really, Paige I'm fine."
Logan held her in his arms still, as a father would a sick daughter, and she curled against him, eyes weary and strained by her common attacks, day nightmares in their own way to replace her carefree moments. The burly man brushed back her hair and gently pulled the trapped hairs from the clasp in the 'X' necklace she still wore, smoothing them into a shiny style again. Slipping a hairpin from the top of the night table, he slipped it in to pull back some hair from her hollow, bloodshot eyes.
Paige couldn't help but think of a skeleton seeing the once bright face. She was wasting away, dying before them if not in body, then in spirit. Smiling at her friend's look when her eyes questioned, she asked about breakfast in hopes of help, the depressive mood swing's obviously having changed her once again into a quiet girl.
"I'm not hungry." she stated quietly to Logan as every eye in the room turned to look at the back of her head. "Really, I'll throw up if you force me to eat. I can't."
"J, I told ya not t' pull this crap with me." Logan whispered it quietly to her and she shook her head. "Yer wastin' away from not eatin' enough good stuff and Hank'll give ya an IV if you don't eat some more soon. How about an apple? Or crackers..."
"I can't. My stomach feels all funny. I just can't." she pulled back and sat on his lap, touching her stomach gently and Logan sighed and then nodded in agreement. "Please don't force me to eat something, I'll throw up. Maybe later on, this afternoon."
"Then how about me and you stay here and have a little chat?" he began to help her into a sitting position before she stopped him, clutching his shirt desperately. "Don't...!" she started. "Please."
"Okay, I won't let go, we'll just sit here." he motioned for the other two to leave the room and close the door, hearing them head down to their rooms after a moment of hushed talk.
Logan's gruff demeanor rubbed away as he was left alone with his little girl. Tears brightened her eyes to what they had once been, only a short time ago, and Logan couldn't help but wish it was a different situation that made them like that. Jubilee looked up at him and searched his eyes for why he was so flustered, his usually calm facade melting away to reveal his concern again. Jubilee felt the guilty stirring's in her stomach and curled up against his chest, not wanting to see his pain, but to feel safe and secure.
"I'm sorry Wolvie...Paige said something about spending today redecorating my room and I just got worked up..." she felt him tense up under her, letting out a long sigh. "She didn't mean it."
"I don't think having her here is good fer ya Jubes. Ya got too worked up when Jeannie took ya into yer old room and having her here got ya worked up again. The last thing ya need right now is a reminder o' pain and panic attacks."
"I know." her voice was quiet; to a man with normal hearing, you couldn't have heard it as she gave in to what she already knew was the truth. "I know it's not good fer me, but she offered and I couldn't turn it down. I like having you around and I get scared when yer gone for a long time. I thought having a friend here would help..."
"I know darlin'. But kid, if I spent all my time locked in here, Hank'd make it so I couldn't see ya fer a while. He wants me outside, doing thing's with ya and on my own, or he's threatened to drag me out and lock the door if we stay in here."
Jubilee smiled at the image of _the_ Wolverine being taken down by a blue fur ball with a lock in his hands. Giggling, she sat up and Logan let her go as she moved to sit on the bed beside him, gesturing at herself as she fluttered her eyelashes. "Are you sayin' it would only take a flimsy lock to keep you away from wonderful little me?"
Logan chuckled and pulled her back to tickle her until she was laughing, careful of her stomach and ribs. "Never kiddo, never. I'd bust down that door so fast, yer head would spin."
"Well, lets...ha ha...hope not, 'cause then...ha ha...I'd be dead." she sputtered out between gulps of breath and giggles as Logan's fingers tickled her sides mercilessly. It was a side he had never shown to anyone but
Jubilee, the side that he could use to be a father, to play and enjoy life with someone instead of being tense all the time. He'd never even let Kitty know it, only Jubilee, and it would probably always be that way.
"Uncle, I call uncle! Mercy!" she cried out as Logan lifted her carefully into a bear hug. Jubilee squeezed him tightly in return and he feigned injury to her 'newfound' super strength. "I'm ready to eat."
Logan nodded, calming down a bit with her and then went to the door to call for Remy to bring breakfast up. "Hey! Where're you going?" Logan turned and looked at the girl who sat on her knees on his bed, hair pulled into little spikes again by the play fight. "I wanna go downstairs and eat."
Logan could see there was no giving in to her demand, her mood having come back to her bossy self, the side he saw as her 'immature' side; one that she had full rights to use. "'Kay darlin', ya jump on my back and we'll go get somethin', then later, we'll go outside if the storm stops."
Jubilee wrapped her arms tightly around Logan's back and clamped her legs around his waist, his strength carrying her easily. She brushed a lock of hair out of her face and kissing his temple, she ducked slightly as he opened the bedroom door. He was a few inches taller than she, but she was thin and it evened out to a good-hearted, old-fashioned piggy-back ride down the stairs to the kitchen.
(Written by Nova Zion)
Paige heard herself sigh, long and shuddering, for the millionth time since they left Salem Center. The cab driver was a big woman with a deep, grainy voice that didn't speak much English. After chattering away in what Paige could only guess to be Lithuanian, she finally demanded, "Where?"
"Massachusetts. In Snow Valley." The woman blinked, uncomprehending. "Berkshire Mountains?"
"Pay." It was a command she was used to, for who would expect a seventeen-year-old to carry the cash to get from New York to Massachusetts via taxi? Brandishing the Visa Platinum Rogue had given her, Paige was relieved when the woman nodded and spoke no more.
Now, her breath fogging her window as she stared out at the raging storm, she sighed again, still hearing Rogue's voice in her head. She knew the instant the Southern belle had pulled her aside that her stay at Xavier's mansion would be short-lived. ~It ain't your fault, sugah. Jubilee just needs comfort from people a little older, y'understand?~ Rejected, that's what she had been. One outburst from Jubilee and she had been sent away like a disobedient puppy dog.
She could just hear Angelo's teasing remarks once she walked in the door. ~Yo, chica, they couldn't stand ya there, either? So now *we* have ta put up with ya? Man.~ He'd lighten the remark with a grin and maybe a wink, but its weight would still be heavy on her heart.
Sighing again, she looked up in time to see the bold green sign proclaiming, 'NOW ENTERING MASSACHUSETTS' in big white letters, stark against the darkened skies.
(Written by Dana Night)
Kitty pulled the mail from the top of the dresser. She'd meant to read it last night, when she'd taken it from the mailbox downstairs, but Pete had insisted on going out for dinner and they'd been too beat to do anything but go to sleep right away. Shifting to be more comfortable, she felt Pete's arm tighten around her waist and sliced the first envelope with familiar hand writing, ripping a hang nail slightly, the cuticle bleeding.
"Damn." she whispered, quieting herself
as Pete groaned in response to a hangover and rubbed his stubbly chin
against her bare back. Curling against him comfortably, Kitty opened
the white envelope and pulled out a sheet of paper, the writing scrawling
long and high over the parchment.
It's Logan, but you probably know by the handwriting. I've been taking good care of myself, just like you said to do. I thought I'd write to let you know what I'm doing and how Jubilee is. I know you two don't get along, but Hank told me he'd let you know everything and I thought maybe you'd want to know about her.
Paige (Sam's sister) came from the Academy to visit with some of the other kids. Jubilee asked her to stay, but the girl said something and got her all worked up again, so I asked Rogue to have her go home since I knew I couldn't ask her myself. It may have been the wrong thing to do, but I thought it was right for the time.
Jubes' ribs have been healing. Hank said that she'd be able to move around good as new in a week or so. It's taking a little longer than we thought to get her fixed up again, but Remy's been helping a lot in caring for her. I almost feel like a dad. Her cuts are gone; the bruises are green and we've been making her eat a lot. I've been teaching her how to walk without a wheelchair. Well, that's been taken away; she's on crutches now, swinging around and everything.
In a week or so I'm leaving the team with her. It's something we talked about while she was getting better. It won't be permanent of course, just for a bit to let her get better. See Kitty, her mind's not well. She's actually a very sick girl and she deserves to feel safe and have some good memories. The nightmares still come and wake her up every night and I know more than anyone that you need some good times to think about to calm you down.
I think of you a lot. I like to think of all of you guys as my family, but sometimes you just need to get away, so I'm going and taking Jubilee with me.
I hope your Pete's taking care of you. If he's not, send him my way and I'll beat some sense into him. I love you Kitty and I hope you understand why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'll send you some postcards from where ever we stop and make think of you every night and hope you're doing okay.
Love you, Logan
Kitty blinked away a few tears as she read through the letter. Checking the postmarked date, she saw it had been written only a few days before, having been sent by a courier. That meant that they'd be leaving soon, within a few days. Smiling, she picked up all the mail into a bundle and put it on the dresser again, rolling over to hug Pete as he slept, curling into his tightening embrace of sleepiness.
(Written by Nova Zion)
Jubilee smiled as Jean came into Logan's room, silent on the plush carpet as she sat on the edge of the bed. Jubilee had been up for a while, staring at the ceiling as nothing had caught her attention on TV. Logan slept beside her on the couch, quietly snoring into a pillow, exhausted from helping her practice walking outside the night before.
Jean held up a cloth bag she carried, an emblem on the front bearing the Xavier school name. "They sent you gifts ... but this time they're going-away gifts since you'll be leaving here in a few days." she whispered, handing her the bag. "There's more in the hallway that you and Logan can look at."
"No, I..." Jubilee began to hand the bag back, but her curiosity got the better of her. Opening the fold, she realized it was a purse type bag that bore the school logo and held many shirts for her; each one a tank top for a color in a rainbow, tiny butterfly's decorating the chest. The six shirts were rolled into little cylinders in the bag and Jubilee pulled each one out, laying them on the bed carefully. Unbuttoning the front pocket in the bag, she pulled out notes from her friends, each one meaning to go with a gift.
Hope you're feeling better. These are going away gifts from us for two occasions, your leaving Gen-X and the X-Men. Miss Frost paid for it all (just so you don't feel guilty) and sent it up here. My gift is a bag of shirts. The bag is for our school and the shirts are for every color of the rainbow and they all have a butterfly on the chest to represent freedom. Enjoy them and come visit sometime! I miss you!
Logan opened his eyes at her joyful gasp; he turned over on the couch and grunted something in the way of 'what's this?' at the pair on the bed.
"I got presents." Jubilee announced, pulling out another note, this one from Angelo. She unfolded the blue paper and looked at Logan. "It's okay. Jean said there's more in the hallway, so could you and her bring it in here?"
"Sure." Logan stood and rubbed his forehead, heading into the hallway as a shout from Bobby came from his room on the left side, where Jubilee could see a box blocking his doorway. Yelling about being trapped, Jubilee laughed at him and Logan carried in the heavy object, cursing as he stubbed his toe on the door.
So glad to hear you're up and at 'em chica. I miss you around here; no one's around to play tricks with. Anyway, we heard about your going for a little trip and we thought we'd get you something for a going-away gift. Mine's a pack of some gross stuff (like the one you gave me for my birthday) that you can use to play with. Also, I'm sending a necklace. Paige said that wasn't special enough, so I bought the pieces and made it myself (don't tell the guys I do crafts). Hope you let us see you again sometime.
Jubilee got up from the bed and opened the top of the box, seeing that it contained all the gifts from her friends, not just Angelo's. Pulling out a smaller box, she found five squishy, sticky balls of different colors inside and a bag of candy he had once deemed as 'disgustingly sticky and sweet.' The necklace was in an envelope inside the box; a beautiful bone pieced choker with stunning turquoise beads between them. The leather wound around in twist, the pieces pulling it into a braid. Taking another note, she read it hungrily, impatient to see what she'd gotten and how much her friends cared about her.
It's Jono, sunshine. I wanted to send a gift that would mean something to you, but, truth be told, I couldn't find anything. Well, anything that Frosty'd let me buy :). I am sending you a cute blue seahorse Beanie Baby I found, since I know it matches some of your other gifts, but the real present is an album I made to give to you (see the back). Every single picture we had that had you in it is in there. Well no, that's a lie. Everyone that means something is in there. I hope you like it and think of us.
Jean chuckled, glancing at Logan as he looked at her. Impishly smiling, Jubilee slammed the album shut and put it behind her on the bed. "I'll look at that gift later."
I do hope that this letter finds you in better health than when we were last told of you state. Paige has provided us with the information about her visit to Westchester and came up with the idea to make you feel better through gifts, which she has said you love to receive. My present to you, Jubilation, is a doll that I found in a store Paige insisted I go into. I had told her it reminded me of you and that I refused to buy it, but she provoked me so I did. She has also made the pair of hideous clothes it is wearing to match your own. I really must insist once again on your adjusting your fashion statement. May you enjoy this gift and visit us sometime when you feel it is necessary.
Monet St. Croix
Logan took it from her as she picked up another letter, sitting it on the couch back with Bamf. Two of his favorite people in the world, Nightcrawler and Jubilee, reduced to doll size. The thought scared him as he turned around and focused on her face again.
I asked to have my present be seen last and they agreed. I couldn't think off hand of anything to get you that you didn't have or the others weren't getting you, so I thought of things that you might have and want another of. I know you don't wear baseball caps, but to match the shirts Paige gave you, I thought I'd give you a bucket hat with the school emblem. Then I got to thinking about how you'll probably go to Canada with Wolverine when you leave, so I got Frost to buy you a matching jacket. I hope you'll wear these gifts and think of all of us, because we miss you a lot.
Hope you're better,
"I look beautiful!" she exclaimed in a whisper to Logan, giving him a hug. Jean began to fold up the box before noticing one last gift at the very bottom. It was a small plastic package of hair clips, each set of two a different Sailor Moon character and another package held a kid's necklace of Hello Kitty, Pekkle and Kerropi, three Japanese cartoons by Sanrio; Jubilee watched them all the time with the a few other members of the school. A note was pinned through the plastic reading that it was from Penny, but that she hadn't written a letter, only pointed it out for her at a store.
"Well darlin', ya got enough presents to last ya 'til Christmas?" Logan sat back down on the couch and Jubilee smiled happily, curling up next to him. She grabbed a sticky ball from the box from Angelo and began to roll it in her palms, feeling the gooey texture.
"Here, throw this against the ceiling." she handed a ball to Logan and another to Jean, who tossed the ball up to meet the white stucco. The ball smacked to the ceiling and hung suspended to it, waiting the fall with a sticky plop. Jubilee tossed a purple ball at the wall and it slowly rolled down to meet the floor, where Jean smiled, picked it up and threw it back at the young girl.
"Now, J, these ain't gonna be all over my jeep when we leave tomorrow, are they?" Logan rolled a blue sphere in his hand, squeezing it and watching it return to it's shape.
"No...what makes you say that?" she smiled evilly as Jean excused herself and Logan tickled her sides, smashing the ball against her forehead. "Never, I swear."
Logan sighed and picked Jubilee up in a fireman's hold. "Let's go get some breakfast. Ya can tell the others what ya got and then we can pack up some stuff to leave tomorrow."
(Written by Nova Zion)
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE SEQUEL, ANOTHER CHANCE TRIP