I've been awaiting Jubilee's birthday almost as much as she has, maybe more. We all know what it means. She has been more nervous than I have ever seen her. She's been spending a lot of time alone. That in itself is not so unusual, but at least when she retreats to her room the door bloody rattles from the level of music she plays in there. Her room has been silent for almost eight weeks straight.
I know what she's thinking. I'm thinking it too. Logan took off on one of his little jaunts the day after Scott and Jean's anniversary. We all expected him to. That's his way. And he comes back when he feels like it, or if there's an X-tra special need. He seems to know when to reappear. We never know when to expect him. So when he disappeared from his room at the same time as the keys to his scoot, Jubilee almost added flight to her mutant powers en route to the garage. I was right behind her. But she wouldn't have noticed me if I'd have had a full brass band with me. Her attentions were elsewhere.
My teke bubble sprung up as if I'd been eaves dropping all my life. But something stirring in me was overpowering the guilt I felt about it. I just kept thinking that I had a right to know. I was the reason this whole thing had started in the first place. I was the one who kissed him. I deserved to know.
He was strapping his bag to his scoot when she threw herself onto the back of it panting. Without looking up at her he said, "You're not comin' darlin'."
"I know." She was still. And he kept working without looking up. When he was done he planted his hands on the seat in front of her. He had something to say but he didn't want to. "Wolvie, I've seen you leave like dozens of times, maybe hundreds. But I never get used to it. The only good thing is that sooner or later you come back. And I watch for you every day that you're gone, hoping to see your scoot come around the corner. After yesterday I don't blame you for needing some time away from this." She stopped and took a soft slow breath. "I would ask, or even beg for you to take me with you, but I know that it's not the mature thing to do. I know you need some time alone. I want you to have it. I don't know if I'm gonna like doing the mature thing, but I have to grow up don't I?"
He met her eyes. "Jubes-"
"I'm not done, Logan, I'm not done." She waited for him to close his mouth before she continued. "I'm not gonna ask to come with you. I'm not gonna try to make you stay, not like it'd work anyway. I'm not even gonna ask you for a good-bye, cuz I know you don't do those. But I am gonna ask you for one thing. Will you do one thing for me? Logan?"
His voice was so low I could barely hear it. "I can't promise what I don't know darlin'. Tell me Jubes."
"Be here for my birthday. No matter what you decide, about a certain postponed conversation. No matter what happens after you answer that question. Be here for me on my birthday. Be here for your little girl."
"I promise Jubes." She slid off of his scoot. He hugged her, quickly, fatherly, and left.
I can't believe it, but I was jealous.
Two months later.Jubilee's Birthday.her 18th.
She didn't sleep at all last night. I know because I didn't either. She was on her tip toes all day. My heart was in my bloody throat. She didn't eat. I consumed enough coffee to drown a horse. The afternoon and its celebrations came and went. Jubilee smiled with her mouth, but her eyes said something else entirely. Everyone knew what-or who-she was missing. And no one said a word. But no one knew about the promise.except me. And I was depending on it almost as much as she was. If he didn't accept her as more than a daughter.. I can't even finish the thought. Not in my own bloody head or on paper. She never trusted me. Now I can see why.
He said it was nothing. Maybe it was. Maybe all this fuss was over nothing. But I can't shake the idea that I felt something in him that I have never felt before. And I yearn for it again. Is it just my own loneliness? Or is it his? And what of Jubilee? She has waited years for this. And now on the very eve of it's commencing should I-could I-step in and take it from her? If I were her I would have eliminated me by now, one way or another. She has heeded well the lessons taught to her. Xavier would be proud. If he knew of this. Logan will be proud. I'll see to that. I owe it to her.
Her birthday dinner plate returned to the kitchen rearranged, but not unburdened. When all the presents had been opened, and candles had been blown out, and the cake had been cut, and the guests had left, she disappeared. My heart sunk for her. Where was he? But a tiny voice kept whispering, "He will come."
The ticking of the clock finally got to me at ten past eleven and I compacted it into a cube the size of a die. In the silence that followed I heard Jubilee crying from the other side of the wall. Somehow listening to her cry appeased my own tears. I don't know how long she cried for the both of us that night. Then abruptly she stopped. I heard her footsteps as she bolted downstairs before I heard the roar of Logan's scoot. I crept out to follow her, but stopped short as she sat down at the bottom of the stairs, and waited. At first I was surprised. But then I thought, "Good for you."
He came in quietly and yet he filled the room to bursting. Ever so softly he whispered, "Happy birthday Jubes. Did I make it in time?" She nodded and rose to her feet as he came to a stop in front of her. He pulled a teddy bear wrapped in a red ribbon out of his bag and handed it to her. "For my little girl on her birthday."
She took the bear and held it against her. Then hugged him. "Thanks, Wolvie." She sat back down on the stairs and he dropped down next to her.
"Jubes, no use skirtin' around it. If you wanna have that talk now. I have a present for a grown up Jubilee, too." His hand darted into the pocket of his leather jacket.
She leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder. "I don't want to grow up Wolvie. I don't want to grow up if it means I have to chance not having you. I want this, and I refuse to risk it, not on any gamble." She looked up at him. "Maybe someday that'll change. Maybe someday what's risky now will be set in stone. Maybe then I'll grow up. But not today."
He hugged her. "Whatever you want Jubes." His voice sounded strained.
They sat there on the stairs all night, talking, just like they always had, until Jubilee couldn't keep her eyes open. She went to bed just as the sun began to rise, and Logan went outside to greet it. I followed him. I didn't know what to say, or if to say anything at all. So I kept silent, while I watched him reach into his pocket and pull out a small black box. Without my teke bubble I'm certain he must've known I was there. He confirmed it when he began to speak just loudly enough for me to hear. "No diamonds, no stones, no engraving, just a plain white gold band. The only one like it I've ever bought. Not a wedding ring, not an engagement ring, nothing so serious. Just a promise ring, for all the promises I've made to her, and all the ones I will make. When she's grown up. Maybe someday. But not today." He looked at it for a moment before stuffing it back into his pocket and going inside.
I stood outside alone, and I cried. But I
am not sure who the tears were really for.