Even when taken unawares, Wolverine reacted with the speed of his namesake. Years of training had honed his responses to a razor's edge. Hyper-senses and powerful instincts made him more than a match for any normal man.
Angelo was up and running before Logan's sensitive ears even registered the screech of tires.
In one split-second, Jubilee caught a glimpse of his anguished face as she turned, desperately trying to shield her stomach with the rest of her body. Then there was only bright agony, paralyzing fear, and an endless fall into soft, painless darkness.
* * *
There was a confused chattering in her ears. She wanted it to go away and let her rest, but somehow she couldn't quite wake up enough to tell it so. Struggling against the clinging darkness, she took a deep breath, trying to push herself into wakefulness. The air smelled of antiseptic and drying blood.
*Bastion*! Jubilee tried to scream, but only a faint whimper escaped her lips. <*He's found me he's caught me he's gonna hurt me again oh god Michael he's gonna hurt my baby he's gonna take him no please no not that anything else but not that-*>
"Jubilee? Jubilee, are you awake?" She could have cried in relief as Angelo's voice penetrated the fog in her mind. "It's okay, Jubilee, we're right here. You're safe, I promise." His hand brushed her cheek, and she turned her head fractionally, leaning towards the odd velvety texture that his mutation had given his skin. Bastion, she knew, would never have been able to reproduce such a detail. He was really him, and really with her.
"It's gonna be okay, darlin'." Wolvie's voice rumbled soothingly. "Yer a bit banged up is all."
Of course・ she'd argued with Ev, and stepped off the curb without looking, and suddenly a car had been almost on top of her. But she couldn't feel anything, couldn't even open her eyes・ What about Michael?, she wanted to ask, but she couldn't get her voice to work.
"This is all my fault!" Ev was there too, his voice anguished.
"That's right, it is." Angelo was positively snarling, Jubilee thought dimly. "You just couldn't take the hint, could you?"
"Take it easy-" Logan, of all people, was acting as peacemaker. Jubilee would have laughed if she could. But what about Michael? Was he okay? Why wasn't anyone telling her?
"How can you say that!?" Everett demanded. "Would you have given up if it had been the other way around? Would you have given *her* up?"
"Come on, calm down! This is a hospital, it ain't-"
Jubilee forced another whimper out through numb lips. They could argue later! She *had* to know about her baby. There was a rustle of movement close by, and she could sense them leaning over her. "What is it, darlin'? Ya hurtin'? Ev, go get a doctor or sumpthin'・"
"I'm there. You're going to be okay, Jubilee, I promise・" Ev's voice faded away. Jubilee whimpered again, straining to open her eyes.
"It's okay, Jubilee, it's okay・" Logan's hand rested on her forehead. With an incredible effort, Jubilee managed to shake her head slightly. Logan's tone became, if possible, even more worried. "What's wrong?"
Angelo's hand brushed her cheek again, and somewhere a long way away he squeezed her hand. "Michael's okay, Jubilee, you hear me? He was in shock at first, but he pulled out of it, and the doctor said he should be fine. I listened to his heart myself, okay? I heard him for myself, just to be sure." He said something else, but Jubilee didn't hear it. Her baby was safe, and that comfort followed her down into a dreamless sleep.
When she woke up again, morning sun was streaming through a window onto the blankets. Looking around sleepily, she saw Angelo asleep on a chair beside her, and Logan leaning against the windowsill, an unlit cigar in his teeth. Catching the change in her breathing, he looked around and smiled at her. "Hey, kid."
"M'not a kid," Jubilee corrected drowsily. "I'm practic'ly a mom."
"Still a kid ta me, though." He reached over to take her hand, speaking softly so as not to wake Angelo. "How do ya feel?"
"My face feels stiff, and it hurts ta breath." Jubilee looked down to see her stomach a comfortingly normal basketball shape. "Is Michael okay?"
"He came out better'n you did." Logan squeezed her hand. "Ya got a broken arm, a shattered knee, two cracked ribs, a mild concussion, and a hell of a lot of bruises, but yer gonna be okay. Ya landed all wrong tryin' ta keep anythin' from hittin' yer stomach, which is why it did so much damage. Ya came down on yer arm and knee 'cause ya couldn't roll, then went face-first into the pavement."
"Oh." She digested that. "Izzat why my face feels weird?"
"Ya look like the losin' end of a dozen rounds in the ring, and that's th' truth." He gave a slightly strained chuckle. "How many times I toldja not ta beat up the pavement with yer face?"
"Too many," she mumbled through swollen lips.
Before Logan could answer, Angelo stirred and sat up, eyes tracking to her face. "Jubilee?"
"Hi." She tried to smile, but winced instead as the bruises made their presence felt.
"Hey." He reached out to brush the hair back from her forehead. "How do you feel?"
"Better'n you look." The corners of her mouth lifted a fraction. "Ya look like the fourth day of a three day bender."
He touched his stubbled chin, grinning a little. "Ah, not even close. Just one night, and I didn't even drink anything except coffee. Hospital coffee, at that." He stroked her cheek lightly, leaning over to kiss her forehead. "Don't scare me like that anymore, okay?"
"Do my best." Her eyes felt sticky, and she was thirsty. "Ange? C'n I have a drink?"
"Sure." He extended one arm towards a small table, where a pitcher and glass sat surrounded by empty styrofoam cups and plastic wrappers. From the sheer amount of litter, Jubilee realized with a pang that they must have been standing vigil since the previous afternoon at least. Ignoring the accumulation, Angelo poured a little water into the glass, raising her head a little as he brought it to her lips. "Sip it slowly・"
"Who can sip?" Jubilee muttered in frustration, as nearly half the water spilled out of her bruised mouth and onto her neck. "That's enough, anyway・"
"Let me know when you want more, okay?" He smiled, wiping the spilled water off with the corner of the sheet. "I'll find you a spoon or something."
Logan watched, his withdrawn expression slowly changing to one of approval. It was possible, he admitted to himself, that he'd misjudged the kid. Angelo had flatly refused to be separated from Jubilee, not even falling asleep until dawn, and that only after demanding a solemn promise from Logan that he wouldn't so much as leave the room for a smoke without waking the younger mutant. Jubilee would be afraid if he wasn't there, he'd explained.
During the course of the night, they'd had more than ample time to talk, and Logan had been favourably impressed several times. Angelo had, for example, freely admitted that he was attracted to Jubilee, but had stressed that he had no intention of acting on that attraction, at least for now. That in itself had gone a long way to reassuring Logan, whose gruff explanation that he'd simply been worried about her welfare had in turn been accepted without question. Angelo's matter-of-fact belief that protecting the family was simply what one did, by whatever means necessary, had gone a long way to smoothing things over.
Logan had, however, gotten the distinct impression that the boy didn't approve of *him*. That in itself, had been surprising・ he could tell that Angelo respected him for his own achievements, as well as his association with the X-Men. No, the silent disapproval had another source. Jubilee, Logan suspected, although he couldn't pin it down any further than that.
Still・ he watched the boy fussing gently over Jubilee, resting a hand on her stomach as he sketched in the events of the last eighteen hours, telling her who knew she had been hurt, who had come to the hospital, and who was keeping an eye on things at the school. The description seemed to comfort her, especially the list of people who had come by the hospital at some point.
"I gotta go," he said, breaking into the inconsequential murmur. Jubilee looked up at him, surprise and hurt in her eyes, and he reached out to pat her hand gently. "I'll be back, darlin'・ but I promised Emma I'd go and get her when ya woke up, an' keep an eye on things while she's here. When she's done visitin' I'll come back, okay?"
"Okay." Jubilee nodded slightly, relaxing again. "Can ya ask her ta get me a nightshirt 'r sumpthin? This robe ain't too comfortable."
"Sure, kid." Logan leaned down to kiss her forehead. "Anythin' else?"
"Yeah・ kick Angelo out when ya get back an' make him get some sleep." Jubilee's eyes were already closing. "He won't leave unless ya make him."
"Okay, darlin'." Logan chuckled, speaking over Angelo's determined protests. "I'll pack him off with Emma when I get back. He can come back and take over fer me tonight."
Angelo nodded a reluctant agreement, realizing that he DID need at least some sleep if he was going to be any good to Jubilee. "Si, whatever." Logan left, still chuckling, and Angelo squeezed Jubilee's good hand gently. "Are you going to be okay, amante?"
"Think so." She grimaced faintly. "How bad do I look?"
Angelo eyed her critically. "Like a horse stepped on your face." He leaned forward, brushing her bruised lips lightly with his own. "Lucky for you you look good in purple, si?"
"Yeah." She smiled faintly, but her fingers were tightening on his. "How long I gotta stay here?"
"I dunno." He stroked her hair back gently. "I'll stay with you, I promise."
"I don't wanna stay in here," Jubilee protested, a note of fear in her voice. "I don't like it here, Ange. It smells like・ like there."
"Si, comprende." Angelo squeezed her hand again. "I'll get you out as soon as I can, okay?"
"'kay." She whispered. He kissed her softly, and they said nothing more until Logan returned with Emma, trailing a nurse with a firm set to her chin.
"Miss Lee, isn't it? How are we feeling?" The nurse smiled an empty, automatic smile. "Any pain?"
"Some," Jubilee admitted guardedly.
"Well, don't worry, dear. You're scheduled for a painkiller now, so-" the nurse pulled out a needle and reached for Jubilee's arm.
"No!" Jubilee jerked away quickly. "I don't want it."
"Of course not, Miss Lee, but it's rather necessary. You've suffered a great many injuries, and the pain will be quite excruciating once your current sedative wears off." The nurse, obviously used to dealing with recalcitrant patients, reached for Jubilee's arm again. "It's just a little pinprick, there's nothing to be afraid of."
"No! I don't want a needle NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!" Jubilee screamed hysterically. "LET ME GO!"
Logan promptly pulled the nurse away, while Angelo cradled Jubilee gently in one arm, stroking her cheek with his other hand. "Shhh・ shhh, amante, it's okay. Nobody's going to hurt you, I promise. I'm here, I'll take care of you・shh, it's okay, it's okay・"
After several minutes, Jubilee had calmed down enough that the shaking had stopped, and she was breathing normally. "I・ I'm sorry, but I can't・"
"I'm sorry too," The nurse apologized, patting her foot lightly. "I didn't realize you had a phobia about needles. It really is necessary, though・ the amount of pain you'll experience when the sedatives wear off will be more than enough to send you into shock, which in turn might endanger your baby."
"But・" Jubilee's lip trembled. She didn't want to do anything that might hurt Michael, but she just couldn't let some strange woman stick a needle into her arm, not after everything that had happened. Emma frowned, opening her mouth to speak, but Angelo forstalled her.
"Jubilee・ I know you're scared, and I don't blame you." He kisssed her gently, cupping her cheek in one hand. "Would it help if *I* gave you the shot? Would that make it easier?"
"Well・" It *would* help, she thought. She knew Angelo would never do anything to hurt her. "I guess so・"
"Okay." He relieved the protesting nurse of the needle, and held Jubilee's arm gently. "You sure you can cope with this?"
"Hey, I can cope with anything you can dish out, mister," she said with as much bravado as she could muster, which wasn't a lot.
"Good." He leaned down to kiss her gently, sliding the needle into her arm while she was distracted. The whole thing was over in the second it took for his lips to lift from hers.
"That wasn't so bad." She smiled up at him, the pain already starting to fade. "Yer good at that."
He was, Logan thought, suspicion rising to the surface like a breaching whale. The kid obviously knew his way around a needle. Which begged the question・ how? And was the knowledge current? He hadn't smelled any drugs on the boy, but・ he scowled. Beside him, Emma was doing the same thing. Mr Espinosa, they both decided, bore careful watching.
End (for now)