"HOW COULD YOU BE SO IRRESPONSIBLE?!?!"
Ange winced, hugging Jubilee a little tighter. "It was an accident, okay? There IS a failure rate, you know."
Sean calmed down slightly, which is to say he was now merely utterly furious instead of rampagingly homicidal. "When did this happen?"
"Right after I got back," Jubilee said, returning the hug. They'd worked the story out that morning when they woke up. "I was・ I was scared, and I kept having these nightmares and・ and・"
"I heard her crying in the middle of the night, I found her in the rec room sobbing her eyes out, I tried to comfort her and・ well・ one thing led to another." Ange shuffled, looking down at the floor. "I didn't mean for it to happen, I just・"
"It helped, you know?" Jubilee rested her head on his shoulder and smiled at the teachers. "It really did. When he's there, I can sleep. I don't have the nightmares anymore." That part was true・ so far, anyway. When she'd fallen asleep in his arms at dawn that morning, she'd had the best sleep she'd gotten since it all started.
"YUIR ONLY FIFTEEN!"
"It happens." Angelo shrugged, carefully interposing himself between Jubilee and Sean. "We'll cope."
"She's underage, dammit! Ye never should have gone that far!" Sean advanced on the younger man with the light of avenging father-figurehood in his eyes.
"He was only being there for me!" Jubilee stamped her foot. "He didn't do ANYTHING that I didn't want him to do!" And he hadn't・ all he'd done was hold her and kiss her, not rushing her into anything at all. "You've got no right to・ yell at him・" Uh-oh. She went pale, clapped her hand over her mouth and ran for the nearest bathroom. Angelo was right behind her.
"Poor baby・" He held her hair back gently. "And poor Jubes, too."
"Y-yeah," she choked, her stomach heaving again. "Poor me・oooh・"
"I won't yell at you." Emma leaned against the doorframe. "Just wanted to clarify・ you are planning on taking responsibility for this baby, aren't you, Angelo?"
"Of course!" He looked up at her with an expression of deeply affronted dignity, which isn't easy to do when you're holding somebody's hair while they vomit, but Ange was strong-willed.
"Because, after all, it IS your・ error, and therefore you'll provide all the support and encouragement Jubilee needs, as well as standing as a father to the child."
"Absolutely right." He streched up a tendril of skin and snagged a washcloth, dampening it under the tap. Jubilee whimpered, leaning against him.
"And you're going to stick to that story, aren't you?"
"Like glue, Ms Frost." He shrugged, wiping Jubilee's face gently and kissing her forehead. "I'm gonna be right here, the whole time."
"Very well." She turned to leave, then looked back at them wistfully. "You're a good friend, Angelo."
"The best," Jubilee managed, in a slightly slurred voice. "I・ uh-oh・"
Some time later, when her stomach was comprehensively empty, Jubilee leaned back and sighed shakily. "Gawd, I hope this doesn't keep up the whole time."
"It doesn't. It should be gone in a month or two." He helped her to her feet, wrapping a gentle arm around her shoulders. "Come on・ time for breakfast. I'll make you some fresh orange juice and toast."
Jubilee wrinkled her nose. "Juice and TOAST? What kind of boring breakfast is that?"
"The kind you can keep down," He said firmly. "Trust me, I know. I had a couple of friends who went through this back home. Toast."
She sighed. "Okay, okay. Toast. Can I have jelly on it?"
"Awww・" She pouted, looking up at him with her very cutest expression. "Just a little bit?"
"Do you want to have another throwing up session?" He guided her firmly into the kitchen. "You can have some cereal if you want, but no sugar bombs. Paige's healthy thing is okay."
"I'd rather have the toast," Jubilee decided, looking around the small kitchen. No-one else was there yet. The original students still ate in the kitchen, clinging to the last vestiges of what they'd had Before The Herd Stampeded In And Started Making Rude Comments About The Furniture. "The juice sounds good, too."
"Coming up." Ange dug around and fished a couple of oranges out of the fruit bowl. "Let me know if you start feeling sick again, okay?"
"Will do." Jubilee fiddled with the tablecloth. "Ange?"
"Yeah? Hey, do you know where the juicer is?"
"It's in the cupboard on the left. And・ thanks. Fer everything." She rested her chin on her hand and gazed at him. "I couldn't do this without you."
"You don't have to," Angelo said reassuringly, putting the oranges and juicer down on the table. "I'll be here, 'kay?" He leaned over and kissed her gently, cupping her cheek. "I promise." He kissed the tip of her nose, and smiled.
"Thanks." She kissed him back, tangling her fingers in his hair and pulling his lips against hers. Things were just getting interesting when - according to the Third Interruption Law of Relationships - Everett and Paige walked in, chatting amiably.
The chat stopped abruptly as Jubilee and Angelo leapt apart, both blushing furiously. Paige, rather surprisingly, recovered first. "Uh・ you guys want us to wait outside?"
"No, thassokay." Jubilee looked down at the tablecloth, still blushing. "Ange was just, uhm, makin' me some juice・."
"Si, that's right." He picked up one of the oranges, as if to submit it for evidence.
"Has this been going on long?" Ev demanded, looking a bit・ unsettled. Or angry, if you wanted to think of it that way.
"Long enough." Angelo looked down at Jubilee, his eyes asking her how much she wanted him to say.
She sighed. Might as well get it all over this morning. "Yeah, long enough. I'm・ uhm・" she looked down at the floor. Ev could always tell when she was hiding something if she looked him in the eyes. "I'm pregnant. Emma used the Medlab equipment to confirm it this morning."
There was a moment of absolute silence, then both Ev and Paige spoke simultaneously.
"You're WHAT?!" Ev shouted.
"Is the baby okay?" Paige asked, hurrying over to put an arm around Jubilee's shoulders. "Are YOU okay?"
"We're both fine," Jubilee assured her, deeply grateful for the unconditional support in the other girl's eyes. "Emma said that so far everything's normal."
Ev took a deep breath, and turned to his best friend. "Angelo・ did you do this?"
Angelo winced. "Do you see anyone else in here clamouring to take responsibility?"
Ev took another deep breath. "Right. Can I talk to you outside for a second?"
"Sure. Paige, could you get that juice started for me?" Angelo followed Ev out of the kitchen with a resigned look on his face. He wasn't even all the way out of the door when the first punch landed.
"You BASTARD!" Everett raged, slamming him up against the wall. "How could you do this to her?!" Fist driving into stomach. "She's barely fifteen!!" Backhand across face. "You-"
Ange tried・ and failed・ to push the physically stronger Ev away. "Look, amigo, it was-"
"I don't want to hear it!" Heel connects with knee. "I'm gonna kill you, you-"
<*Ey! Knock it off!*> Jono appeared from somewhere, dragging Ev off. <Wot the 'ell's going on?*>
"Ange!" Jubilee issued from the kitchen like a bullet from a gun. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?"
"No, 'sokay・" Ange dabbed at the blood that dribbled from his split lip and winced. "He's just trying to protect you."
"Well, it's WAY too late for that," Jubilee snapped, glaring at Ev, who had the grace to look a little shamefaced. "And if you *ever* hurt him again, I'll paf you into next year!"
"No buts!" She turned her back on him, and tucked herself under Angelo's arm. "C'mon・ breakfast is gonna hafta wait. We gotta get this over with. I gotta make sure EVERYONE knows that if they hurt ya, they're gonna answer to ME."
Ten minutes later Gen X and their instructors were crowded into the comm suite, facing a screen full of X-Men. The X-Men all looked sleepy, confused, or both. Mostly both.
"What is going on, Jubilation?" Storm asked, yawning daintily. "Is there some sort of emergency?"
"No. I just wanted to tell everyone at once." She lifted her chin, glaring around at teammates and screen alike. "I'm pregnant, and if any of you even THINK about hurting Ange I'll never speak to you again!"
For one second, there was a silence so absolute that you could have heard a pin drop. Then bedlam broke out. Horrified denials vied with furious accusations, several people's powers began to manifest, and Rogue had to forcibly restrain Wolverine from trying to claw his way through the screen. Eventually, Adrienne and Storm managed to calm the crowd enough that individual voices could be heard.
"How COULD she-"
"I'LL KILL HIM!!"
"NOT IF I GET HIM FIRST!!!"
"EVERYBODY SHUT UP!!!" Sheer surprise at Marrow's outburst, rather than the volume, temporarily quieted the clamour to a steady rumble. "Good. Surface dwellers, fah・" She leaned in, and looked Jubilee up and down critically. "You healthy?"
"Yes." Jubilee leaned back against Angelo, who wrapped his arms around her.
Marrow looked approving. "He good to you?"
"Very." She smiled, tilting her head back to look up at him.
"So where's the problem?" Marrow shrugged.
"The PROBLEM, Marrow, is that Jubilee is only fifteen." Professor Xavier spoke for the first time. "She is far too young to-"
Marrow rolled her eyes. "Sparkler, you gonna keep the baby, or abort?"
"Keep," Jubilee said firmly. "We・ we can do this, right, Ange?" She looked up at him, pleading silently for his support.
"Right." He hugged her close. "It's gonna be okay."
"Okay・ how DARE you say that?!" Rogue demanded furiously. "Ya knock her up, after everything she's been through, and ya say it's-"
"I didn't see any of you running to comfort her! She needed someone, and I was the only one there!" Angelo glared, the fierce expression a powerful contrast to his tender hold on the girl in his arms. "And it just-"
Jubilee sighed, reaching up to cover his lips with her fingers. "I can't do this." She smiled sadly at him. "Not ta you." She lifted her chin, looking around. "Ange offered to take the blame for this, so I wouldn't have to tell anyone, but the baby isn't his. I wish it was," she said softly, resting her cheek against his chest. "But it wasn't him. It・ it was Bastion. So don't yell at him, okay? He was just tryin' to help me." Before anyone could speak, she pushed her way out of the crowded comm suite and left.
Twenty minutes later, she was sitting on a rock in the woods, ignoring the dampness from last night's rain. She was cold, but going back into the house didn't really appeal. She couldn't have gone through with the charade, not after seeing the blood and bruises Angelo had suffered for her sake. But she really, really didn't want to go back and see the pity on all those faces.
A jacket landed on the rock beside her with a soft thump. "Put it on, or you'll freeze."
"'kay." She pulled the jacket on, looking down at her feet. "I'm sorry if I embarrassed ya in there."
"Es nada. You okay?" Angelo pulled himself up onto the rock beside her.
"No." She traced an intricate pattern on the surface of the rock. "Ange・ about・ uhm・ us. I know I kinda, like, completely blew the story in there, but・" She bit her lip. "If you don't wanna, I'll understand, but・ well・ I like ya a lot, an' I think, maybe, it might turn out ta be more than that if I gave it a chance."
There was a small pause. "Jubilee・ are you asking me if we can still be・ whatever we are・ even though I'm not pretending to be the baby's father any more?"
"I'll take stupid questions for five hundred・. You even have to ASK me that?" He scooped her up in his arms, hugging her tightly. "Amante, I told you I'll be here for you, and I meant it." He pulled her onto his lap, resting his forehead against hers. "I may never put you down again."
"Good." She snuggled down, burrowing her face into his neck. "Mmm・you're nice and warm."
Angelo yelped, his arms tightning a little. "Jubilee, your nose is freezing!"
"I know. You're nice and warm," she repeated, her voice muffled as she nuzzled the cold spot against his warm collarbone. "I don't s'pose you'd consider putting your hands over my ears? They're cold too."
"I'll ears you・" He cupped her ears in his hands, raising her face to a perfect kissing angle. "You know, your lips look a little blue. I should warm those up too." He grinned, and leaned down to kiss her lightly, tenderly and very thoroughly. The small part of her that wasn't floating off on a cloud of warm fuzziness noted that he was extremely good at it.
"Look at the sky," she murmured, some time later. "All the clouds are gone. It's gorgeous."
"It is," he agreed, gazing at her eyes. "Blue's my new favourite color." She chuckled and swatted him, and he grinned. "Okay, okay, no more cheesy compliments. I got a better idea." He plopped her down on the rock, and slid down onto the ground. Kicking a smaller rock out of the way, he fell to one knee, clasping his hands and gazing up at her. "Jubilation Lee, will you do me the honour of going out to breakfast with me?"
She laughed for the first time in days. "You weirdo!"
"I know, I know. Will you? My knee's getting wet." He grinned up at her. "I know a great pancake place in Snow Valley."
"Sure, why not?" She slid down the rock, and tugged him to his feet. "C'mon."
He wrapped his hand around hers・ several times. "It's gonna be okay, Jubes." He smiled down at her, eyes dancing. "They have *muffins*."
Oh, don't worry, there'll be another one. <g> Does nothing SATISFY you people?!