Sweet Child of Mine: Chapters 7-10

by Somogyi

Disclaimer: The X-Men and Generation X are property of Marvel Entertainment. Characters are used without permission, no profit is being made, and no infringement on copyright is intended.

All comments and criticisms are welcomed. I'd love to know what you think.

Chapter 7

Scott sat on the living room couch, feet propped on the coffee table, flipping through the channels in search of something half-way-decent to watch. The unmistakable thumping of the braces on the floor announced Jubilee's approach.

"I thought you were getting ready for bed," he called over his shoulder.

"Well, I put on my pj's and brushed my teeth," she said, rounding the side of the couch, "but I'm not really tired yet. What'cha watchin'?"

"I'm trying to find something. Pull up a seat," he said, patting the cushion beside him.

Leaning her crutches on the far side of the couch, Jubilee sat down beside him. "No luck?"

"There never seems to be anything good on Saturday nights."

"Try the Comedy Channel."

"What's on?" Scott asked as he switched the channel.

"You'll see."

They both watched the screen in silence as a scene from what looked to be a B-rate black-and-white sci-fi flick played out. Only the scene was being projected on a movie screen, and the silhouettes of three theatergoers--one apparently human and two looking more machine--were superimposed on the bottom of the television image. Interspersed throughout the film were the sarcastic comments of the trio. Their commentary was actually even more amusing than the movie itself. Before long, Scott and Jubilee were laughing aloud, and even adding some of their own comments.

They watched in rapt attention as the scene suddenly turned serious--as serious as was possible from such a genre of film. A man stood in a living room. Unbeknownst to him, a creature was entering the house via the chimney. It emerged from the fireplace accompanied by gasps from the television audience.

"Look out!" the human in the audience shouted in warning.

"Behind you!" yelled one of the robots.

"What the hell--?" Scott muttered, frowning as he tried to fathom what sort of creature had appeared.

It uncoiled itself, revealing a globular head and a long tail. The front portion has all sorts of labyrinth-like folds in it, while little cylindrical processes jutted out of the sides of the tail. As it stretched out, its shape became almost instantly recognizable despite the very ancient and quite obvious claymation special effects.

"Is that. . . ?" he wondered aloud. "It couldn't be. . . ."

"I think it is," Jubilee murmured, grimacing in disgust. "Looks like somebody's science project went awry." She shuddered. "That, or a certain biology class specimen revolted."

The creature began to inch along by undulating its tail--a tail that was, in fact, a spinal cord attached to a head that was, in reality, a brain.

"Dr. Frankenstein should have stopped at this place," Scott remarked.

They both jumped as two antennae popped out of the front of the cerebrum.

"Up periscope," Jubilee muttered.

"Are those--?"

"Eyes. Yeah."

The film's protagonist turned around, and a look of horror crossed his face a moment before the creature pounced. It wrapped its cord around his neck and began to strangle him.

"Ugh," Jubilee moaned. "That's disgusting."

"That's called using your head," Scott replied.

She groaned again. "I've heard of mind over matter, but this is ridiculous."

The man struggled to pull the creature from his neck, but to no avail. His cries for help managed to alert the other people in the house, who rushed to his aid.

Scott and Jubilee could not pry their eyes from the set.

"So, uh, what do you think this flick is called?" Scott asked.

"Mmm . . . dunno . . . 'Attack of the Killer Brain' maybe?"

"How about 'Strike of the Sentient Cerebrum'?"

"Too wordy. Something simple, like 'Brawlin' Brain'?"

" 'Mischievous Mind'?" Scott suggested.

" 'Naughty Nervous System'," Jubilee countered.

" 'Killer Cranium'."

" 'When Brains Attack', tonight on Fox," Jubilee announced.

"Followed immediately by its sequel. . . ." Scott added, allowing a dramatic pause. " 'When Brains Go Bad'."

They both broke into peals of laughter, and almost missed one of the robot's remarks, which included the film's true title.

"What'd he call it?" Jubilee asked.

Scott frowned. "Apparently, it's 'The Fiend Without a Face'." He looked at Jubilee and shrugged.

"I think I like our titles better."

"I agree."

"So, whaddaya think?" she asked.

"Not bad. What is this show anyway?"

"Mystery Science Theater 3000," she replied, putting her feet up on the table in an almost-mirror image of Scott's position. "So, what do you wanna do tomorrow?"

"I don't know. What do you want to do?"

It was the perfect set-up; she could not resist. "How about the same thing we do every night--" As she paused a beat, Jubilee nearly sniggered aloud.

"Try to take over the world?" Scott finished for her.

She stared at him, mouth agape, as he smiled at her.

"What?" he asked, chuckling at her shocked expression. "You and Bobby aren't the only ones who watch cartoons, you know."

"I never pegged you as the 'Pinky and the Brain' type, Cyke." She shook her head. "Then again, I'm still trying to digest that whole Three Stooges thing."

"To each his own," Scott said, turning his attention back to the show. Jubilee followed suit.

The creature had since been dispatched from the man's neck. It lay writhing on the floor, trying to get away. One of the onlookers went after it with a baseball bat. Unfortunately, his strike missed completely, and the creature escaped from whence it came up the chimney.

"Swing an' a miss," Jubilee remarked with a sigh. "Todd Hundley he ain't."

Scott chuckled. "You remembered his name?"


"Hundley. The Mets catcher you used to have the crush on. The one Piazza replaced."

Jubilee turned and looked at Scott in disbelief. "Gosh, it just sorta . . . I don't know . . . it just came to me. When I wasn't even thinking about it."

"I had a feeling it would. When you don't push yourself too hard and just take things at a natural pace, everything will fall into place. Just as your body is recovering, your mind is slowly healing itself."

"You really think so?"

"Well, isn't this a perfect example?"

"I guess so."

"Don't guess, Jubilee. Know."

She had a Master Yoda crack halfway to her lips when she stopped herself. For some reason, making light of Scott's sincere words of encouragement seemed inappropriate. Which had to say something in and of itself, since Jubilee had never been a stickler for propriety. Once again, something about his tone instilled her with hope, convinced her that he knew what he was talking about. There was definitely something about Scott that could inspire confidence even in the most doubting of hearts. It really was no wonder that he was such a good leader. She realized then that one day he would easily step into the Professor's shoes to help see his dream become a reality.

"Thanks, Scott," she whispered, glancing at him a moment before turning her attention back to the television screen.

Scott said nothing, but placed his hand on her knee briefly, giving it an encouraging pat. For some reason, the gesture struck Jubilee as quite paternal. She had never really thought of Scott in that regard before. Even during all these weeks that she had been living in their house, while she viewed Jean as part friend, part big sister, and part surrogate mother, the same notion had never extended to Scott. Perhaps that was partly because she had not spent much time with him--alone or otherwise.

Looking back, she had a feeling that it was not because of a lack of desire on his part, but rather because Jean had been overly protective and unwilling to let others help out with her care. Now, though, she was willing to bet that given the opportunity, Scott would not mind spending some time with her; heck, with the way they had hit it off today, he might actually enjoy it.

It was hard to believe, but she had definitely had a great time today. If someone had told her a few months ago that she would be sitting on a couch watching TV and hanging out with Cyclops on a Saturday night, she would have called them nuts. Now, though, it was not so hard to imagine doing it again.

Sighing contentedly, Jubilee concentrated on the television screen once more. Before long, she could not stifle a yawn. Soon afterwards, she felt her eyelids growing heavy. Blinking, she tried to fight it. She was not quite willing to let this feeling of coziness end. But, ultimately, her fatigue won out, and she began to doze.

Scott had noticed Jubilee nodding off, but had said nothing. He figured she would go to bed when she was good and ready. There was no reason to act like a strict parent during her weekend of freedom. He had been sitting with his arms extended across the back of the sofa, and was a bit surprised when he felt her head come to rest against his shoulder. He looked down at her, eyes closed and face peaceful in slumber, and smiled. Slowly, careful not to wake her, he wrapped his arm around her. Jubilee sighed in her sleep, and Scott tightened his hold slightly.

It had been a long time since he remembered feeling this way. Probably not since the time he and Jean had spent in the future, living as Slym and Redd Dayspring, raising his son, Nate. His most cherished memories of those dozen years were the nights he had spent holding his son in his arms, the child's warm body pressed close, the boy's soft breath warm against his cheek, his face smooth and innocent in slumber. During those times, it was not difficult to pretend that the world was safe for his family, that he could protect them from harm. That they could all live peacefully in a world that did not fear and hate them.

He was reminded of a conversation he and Jean had had a few months back, not long before Jubilee had come to stay with them. They had discussed the possibility of starting their own family. Jean felt she was ready; Scott did not. He had watched the disappointment spread across her face as he tried to explain that he did not feel that he was ready to become a father. The truth was, he had been feeling rather disillusioned with the world. People's tolerance for mutants had reached an all-time low, and persecution was widespread. It hardly seemed like a wise decision to bring a child into such a world.

But now, sitting here with Jubilee nestled beside him, he realized why Jean had insisted that even though there never seemed a perfect time to raise a child, that wariness should not stop them. Knowing the way the opportunity to take care of Jubilee had brought Jean such happiness, seeing how alive and vibrant Jubilee had been since coming to stay with them, Scott knew that Jean had been right. Having a child, even during a questionable time in the world's history, meant having hope for the future. Lord knew they could all use a little hope about now.

The show ended, and Scott reached for the remote to click off the television. He looked down at Jubilee, who was still fast asleep. For a moment, he considered waking her so that she could go to bed, but then thought better of it. He slowly placed his feet on the floor, and sat forward, trying not to wake her. Still holding her up with his arm, Scott quietly rose to his feet, and gently lifted Jubilee into his arms. Cradling her against his chest, he carried her into her room and then put her in her bed, tucking the comforter snugly around her. Throughout it all, she did not wake. As soon as she was in bed, she rolled onto her side and nestled into the pillow, murmuring something unintelligible. Scott stood watching her a moment to ensure himself that she was still asleep. Smiling, he could not resist gently stoking her hair. He watched her another minute or so before silently leaving the room, shutting the door behind him, and heading to his own room.


Scott awoke with a start. He peered into the darkness of his room, trying to get his bearings. As he sat up, his hands bracing to either side for support, he recognized the coolness of the sheets beside him. It still felt strange sleeping alone, without Jean in the bed. He sat quietly, trying to figure out what might have awakened him.

He heard a noise then, coming from what sounded like across the hall. Throwing back the covers, he hurried to investigate the source of the noise. As he entered the hallway, he realized it was shouting. Coming from Jubilee's room. He quickly opened her door, and through the moonlight pouring in between the blinds he could make out her form thrashing about in the bed.

"No!" she was shouting, arms raised to keep back an invisible attacker. "Stay away! Don't touch me!"

"Jubilee?" Scott called, approaching her bed. "Jubilee, wake up."

"No! Don't hurt me! Stop it! Oh God, no!"

Scott bent down, prepared to shake her awake.

Suddenly, Jubilee shot bolt upright, arms flailing wildly. "No!" she screeched, one hand connecting painfully with Scott's jaw. The other got him on the temple, jarring his glasses, and for a moment he feared they would be thrown off. Squeezing his eyes shut tightly, Scott stepped back to make sure the ruby quartz lenses were still in place before returning to Jubilee's bedside. He quickly grabbed her arms, pinning them to her sides.

This only seemed to make her fight harder. "No! Let me go, you bastard! Get your hands offa me!" she spat.

"Jubilee, wake up. It's Scott. Jubilee, it's just a dream."

Finally, her eyes shot open, though she still seemed disoriented as she continued to struggle.

"Jubilee, you're safe. It was just a nightmare. You're okay."

For a moment, she said nothing, just looked around the room, eyes wide, chest heaving as she breathed heavily. Then she saw who it was that was restraining her, and she relaxed slightly. "C-Cyke?"

"Yeah, Jubilee, it's me." Slowly, he loosened his hold on her, waiting to make sure she would no longer react violently.

"I-It's really you?"

"Yes, it's really me."

"Y-You're okay? You're n-not hurt?" She reached up, touched his temple with shaking fingers, as though to reassure herself.

"No, I'm fine. It's you I'm worried about. You were having a nightmare."

"Oh God, it was just a dream!" she cried, relief filling her voice. "Thank God you're okay," she gasped, throwing her arms around his neck. "I-I thought. . . . Oh God. . . ." She choked back a sob.

"Shh," he soothed, embracing her and gently stoking her back. "It's okay, kiddo. I'm fine. You're fine. Everything's okay. You're safe and sound, in your bed. No one's going to hurt you. I wouldn't let them."

She tried to speak, but all that came out were low, miserable moans. She continued to tremble as the sobs wracked her body.

Scott held her tighter, rubbing her back, stroking her head, as he began to rock her. He whispered soft, soothing words, trying to calm her.

It took many long minutes before her tears began to stop, and even longer until the shaking quelled. Even then, she continued to grasp onto him tightly as her breathing slowly returned to normal.

"That's it," he murmured, rubbing her back in small circles. "It's all right. Everything's okay."

Slowly, she finally loosened her hold on him, and pulled back. Sniffling, she swiped at her wet cheeks.

"Here," Scott said, reaching for the box of tissues on her nightstand.

"Thanks," she mumbled, taking one to blow her noise. "Oh geez. I got you soaked." She pointed to the shoulder of his tee shirt, which was saturated from her tears.

"Believe me, I've been covered in far worse things. No worries." He offered her a small smile, which she seemed unable to return. He regarded her a moment. "So, how're you doing, kiddo?" he asked.

She closed her eyes in a slow blink, even as a shiver ran through her. "I- I still can't shake the images from my mind. They were horrible."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

She shrugged. During these past weeks, whenever she had had a nightmare, it was usually Jean who comforted her. Whenever that occurred, Jean had only to use their mindlink to reach into her brain and see the images that haunted her thoughts. As such, Jubilee never had to describe them before, really never had occasion to talk about them at all. Perhaps giving voice to her fears would help her get over them, she realized.

"It was the usual dream."

"You always have the same one?" he asked.

She looked at him in confusion for a moment. She found it strange that he did not know that. Perhaps she had been assuming that Jean had told Scott about her nightmares; apparently, that was not the case. Jubilee was not sure what to make of that fact.

"Yeah, it usually plays out pretty much the same way. I wake up here, in this bed, 'cause I hear some kind of noise. I hear it coming from your room, and I go to check it out. The room's empty, but I see blood on the floor. I hear a noise from the closet, and when I open it, I find you inside. You've been hurt."

Shivering involuntarily, Jubilee looked up at Scott. Once again, she felt the need to touch his face, to reassure herself that he was alive and well. This time, when she touched his cheek and temple, he placed his hand over hers and slowly nodded against her palm.

"You . . . your eyes . . . they were gouged out." Pulling her hand away abruptly, Jubilee grabbed another tissue and dabbed at her nose. "You ask me if I've seen Jean, and I go to find her. Which I do, in the kitchen. She's lying on the table. Only she's dead. E-eviscerated." Jubilee lowered her head, even as fresh tears began to fall. "It . . . it was so h-hor-horrible."

She felt Scott's hand on hers, squeezing it gently. "But it's not real. It was just a dream. Jean is alive. She's fine. Just like I am."

"I know," Jubilee whispered. "It just seemed so real at the time."

Scott nodded. "What happened next?" he asked gently.

Jubilee took a shaky breath. "I-I realize that I'm not alone. *He's* in the kitchen with me."

"Who is?" Scott asked, although he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.

"S-Sabretooth," she replied, the name like venom on her tongue. She shook her head, unable to voice what it was she found him doing in her dreams. "He tries to attack me next, only I manage to slow him down and run away. I book it out of the kitchen, and run right into you. Literally. You tell me to run away, and go to hold him off. As I try to make it to the door, I hear. . . ." She paused, slowly licking her parched lips. "I hear him kill you, too."

Once more, Scott reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. This time, however, he did not let it go.

"As I'm trying to escape, he catches me, taunts me. He starts to cut me. I close my eyes. But when I look back, it's not him who's about to kill me. It's . . . it's . . . Oh, God . . . it's W-W-Wolvie. I try to talk to him, to reason with him. I beg him not to do it. But my words don't phase him. And then he . . . he raises his claws . . . and then h-he . . . he plunges 'em right into my chest. And it hurts. Oh God, it hurts so much. And I know I'm g-gonna d-d-die. . . ." The tears overwhelmed her once more, and she was no longer able to speak.

Scott quickly took her into his arms again, and slowly began to rock her. "It's okay, Jubilee. It's okay. It was just a dream. It wasn't really Logan. He would never hurt you. He'd sooner die than ever harm you. You know that."

He could barely feel her nod against his shoulder.

"And Sabretooth never hurt you, or Jean, or me. He was never in this house. You're safe. No one's going to hurt you. I won't let them."


"I promise. No one will hurt you. I'll protect you. You're safe here."

He felt her sigh against him, even as her body began to relax. This time, it took only a couple of minutes for the tears to stop. As Jubilee pulled back, he gently framed her face with his hands, and bent down to place a tender kiss on her forehead. Jubilee looked up at him then with an expression of complete and utter adoration.

"Now, why don't you try to get some sleep?"

Nodding, she lay back against the pillows. Scott pulled the covers back over her, and tucked her in.

"Can I get you anything?" he asked. "Some water, maybe?"

She shook her head. "Scott?"

"Yeah, kiddo?"

"Would you . . . do you think . . . would you sit with me? I-I don't think I could fall asleep alone."

He smiled at her warmly. "Of course I'll sit with you. For as long as you like." He got up, and retrieved the wooden chair from where it sat by the window, setting it up close to her bedside.

She looked over at him and managed a small smile in return. "Thanks, Scott."

"Just try to get some rest, okay, kiddo?"

"I will." With a final glance in his direction, Jubilee closed her eyes. She let out a loud breath before finally allowing herself to relax. She could feel Scott's presence from where he sat only a couple of feet away. This put her at tremendous ease. As she drifted off to sleep, she realized that just knowing that he was watching over her would keep her demons at bay, and that there would be no more bad dreams that night so long as he were close by.

Somehow, some way, Scott had known exactly what she needed to be at peace. For when Jubilee awoke several hours later, she found him still sitting in the chair, arms crossed, legs stretched straight out in front of him, and chin to his chest, as he slept beside her, guarding her with his mere presence. As she rolled over to go back to sleep, Jubilee had never felt so safe, so protected, nor so loved.

Chapter 8

Jubilee shuffled into the kitchen, where she found Scott sitting at the table, sipping a cup of coffee as he read the Sunday paper.

"Mornin'," she said, the word half-swallowed by a yawn.

"Barely," Scott remarked with mock sternness as he turned a page in _The Times_. "I was beginning to wonder if you were going to sleep the whole day."

Jubilee glanced up at the clock. "It's just past eleven-thirty. The day is still young. Got any more coffee?"

Scott glanced up from his paper to regard her. Suddenly, his jaw dropped. "Jubilee . . . where are your crutches?" he asked, realizing that she was walking unassisted.

"Hmm? Oh, those? Well, when I woke up, they were nowhere to be seen. An' I tell ya, I had to pee like the dickens. So I had no choice but to hall butt to the bathroom without 'em. It was a bit of a shaky start, but I managed okay. I remembered then that I had put 'em down by the couch before I sat down to watch TV. with you last night. Which still didn't do me a bit of good. So I just decided to go get 'em. 'Course, on the way, my stomach grumbled, so I then decided to make a detour to the kitchen. An' here I am."

Scott shook his head in astonishment, even as a proud grin spread across his face. "Jubilee, this is wonderful. You've achieved an incredible milestone today. You should be proud."

"Yeah, yeah, it's great. But first things first. I need some eats."

"What do you feel like? I could whip up some eggs. I've been told that I can make a killer omelet."

"Nah, I think I'll just have some cereal. I think I need a sugar buzz to get me kick-started."

"Well, why don't you have a seat, and I'll get it for you. Don't overdo it on your first try."

Her first instinct was to tease Scott for sounding a bit too overprotective like Jean. But then she felt her knees getting a little wobbly, and realized that he was probably right. So she pulled out the chair opposite from his and sat down as he got together her breakfast for her.

"Did you eat already?" she asked as she poured herself a big helping of sugar pops.

"Yeah, I had a bagel with my first cup of coffee."

"First? What number's this one?"

"Two," he replied with a smile. "I had to find some way to pass the time while I waited for you to get up."

"Sorry 'bout that. I had kinda a rough night."

"I know. And it's no big deal. This is a vacation of sorts for you. You deserve to be able to sleep in."

"Amen to that." Truth to tell, since she had come to stay with Jean and Scott, six days of the week, Jean had her up before seven a.m. for her physical therapy sessions with Logan. Sundays were her allotted day off, but even then, Jean rarely let her sleep past eight; sleeping until nine was an extra-special indulgence. While she would have expected Scott to be even stricter when it came to discipline and schedules, she was quickly learning that apparently he also valued the importance of a respite.

"Did you sleep okay . . . afterwards?" he asked her as he folded up the section of the paper he had been reading.

"Like a log. Thanks for sitting with me. I didn't mean to sound like a baby asking you to leave a night light on."

"You didn't. After the dream you described, I don't think *I* would have wanted to sleep alone. I'd have done whatever I could to put you at ease. If you had asked me to check under your bed for monsters, I would have done it without hesitation." There was no mistaking the stark sincerity in his voice.

Jubilee nodded her appreciation. "Thanks, Scott. I hope your neck didn't pay the price for your good deed."

"Not too bad. I figured maybe we could take another swim this afternoon. That'd probably get out any remaining kinks."

"That sounds great," she said, nodding, even as she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"What's wrong? Still tired?"

"A little. But I think I'm getting a headache."

"Do you think you're getting sick?" he asked, concerned.

"Nah, I tend to get them when I don't sleep well the night before."

"You sure?" He reached across the table to feel her forehead with the back of his hand. "Well, you're not warm. You feel okay otherwise? No other aches or pains?"

"Nope. Just this pressure behind my eyes. Like I said, I get these kinds of headaches once in a while."

"Do you want to take something for it?"

"Hank prescribed me some meds, but they make me too wonky. Knock me out for a few hours. An' we were gonna go out this afternoon."

"Well, are you feeling up to it?"

"Maybe not both shopping an' a movie. I don't think I'm up for both."

"Well, a mall sounds like it'd probably be too much for you right now." He watched as her face sank almost imperceptibly. "But I know how much you want to get the skates. So how about this: let's skip the mall, but rather hit a couple of sporting goods stores. Then maybe we can rent a movie, that way you can feel free to lounge around more comfortably on the couch."

"Can I wear my pajamas?"

"Sure, but only if I can wear mine, too."

She grinned. "Deal."

"So, that sounds okay?"

"That sounds awesome, Scott."

"Great. So why don't you go get dressed, and I'll take care of the dishes?" he asked, grabbing his mug and her bowl and carrying them to the sink.

"Okay." She pushed out her chair, but paused before attempting to rise.

Scott took notice of her lack of movement. He was about to ask her what was wrong when he realized the cause of her hesitation. "You want me to go grab your braces for you?"

"If you don't mind," she replied, smiling sweetly.

"Sure thing. Be right back."

"Thanks, Scott," she called after him.


Their shopping trip proved successful. At the second store, Jubilee found the perfect pair of roller blades. They were even on sale. When she had tried them on and skated a few yards down the store floor, Jubilee had never felt more excited: not just at the prospect of owning the skates, but of the newfound freedom they would provide once she was ready to use them. She vowed then and there to work extra hard so that she could use them as soon as possible.

So, with skates in hand--along with a new helmet and all the necessary accompanying protective gear--they headed to a video store. There the trouble began as they tried to agree on what movie to rent. Scott ultimately let Jubilee pick out two videos; she chose *Mystery Men* for some mindless comedy and *The Matrix* for some "kickass action" as she colorfully phrased it. And so, missions accomplished, they headed back home.

After Jubilee put her new purchases away, Scott asked her if she was feeling up to that swim. Encouraged by her newfound desire to heal her body ASAP, Jubilee excitedly agreed. She changed into her suit and donned shorts and a tee-shirt over it, shoved a towel and hairbrush into a bag, put on her flip-flops, and then walked with Scott to the mansion, talking non-stop the entire way. Scott merely nodded and smiled, laughing often, getting a few words in edgewise now and again. She was so distracted by their conversation--practically one-sided though it was--that it did not even occur to her that she had made the entire trip on her own. Scott did notice, however, and planned to point it out to her later that afternoon. He was sure that once Jubilee realized her latest accomplishment, she would not be able to wait to tell Jean.


"I still can't believe you managed to talk me into doin' that," Jubilee laughed as she and Scott began the walk back to the house.

"As I recall, you didn't require much in the way of convincing," Scott pointed out.

"Yeah, well, still . . . God, when Jean hears that I dove into the pool--man, she's gonna freak!" Something in her tone made it perfectly clear that Jubilee was reveling in her recent roguish behavior.

"I think it would be in both of our best interests if we didn't mention this to Jean."

"Probably right. So, you think she's having as good a time as we are?"

"So we're having a good time?"

"Well, aren't we?"

"I can only speak for myself. . . ."

"Well, *I've* been having a great weekend," Jubilee said plainly. "Can't remember the last time I've had this much fun. 'Course, that could have somethin' to do with bein' semi-crippled for the past couple months, but hey. . . ."

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, Jubilee. It's been a pleasure spending time with you."

"Bet you never thought you'd ever say that to me, eh, Cyke?"

"Honestly, no. But I'm glad to know that I was wrong." Smiling, he turned to see her reaction and realized that she had stopped a few paces behind him. He quickly closed the distance between them. "Jubilee, are you okay?"

"Just . . . a little . . . winded," she panted. "Can we . . . hold up . . . a minute?"

"It's no wonder you're tired, what with walking all the way from the house to the mansion yourself, and then all that swimming and diving."

Eyes wide, Jubilee looked up at Scott, who was grinning knowingly. "Geez Louise! I did walk the whole way myself, didn't I?"

"I think you were so entranced by the sound of your own voice, you didn't notice."

Jubilee moved her hand to slug him on the arm. But when she let go of the brace, she found that one crutch was not sufficient to hold up her weary form. Losing her balance, she began to fall.

Scott caught her almost instantly, and held her upright.

"Thanks," she muttered, grasping his arms for added support. "Guess I overdid it a bit today, huh?"

"I think we both took things a bit too quickly today. Here, grab hold," he said, stooping down in front of her.

Jubilee was too tired to protest. Wordlessly, she wrapped her arms around Scott's neck as he placed one arm across her back and the other beneath her knees and lifted her into his arms. He then bent down so that Jubilee could retrieve the crutches, which she held under her arm and across her lap. "Hmm . . . feels like you've put on some weight," he remarked as he resumed their trek.

"Must be the braces," she muttered, even as she felt a flush creep across her cheeks.

"No, I think it's you. But that's a good thing. You were skin and bones when you first came to stay with us. You look much healthier now."

"I do have decent biceps now," Jubilee pointed out. "I could give Linda Hamilton in T2 a run for her money.

"That you could," Scott laughed. "That you could."

A few minutes later, he put her down in front of the house so that he could unlock the door. "You okay the rest of the way?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine, thanks," Jubilee replied, using the crutches to enter the house.

"You know, you'll probably be ready to move on to just using a cane soon."

She turned to look at him, face expectant. "You really think so?"

Scott nodded. "Why don't we ask Hank about it tomorrow?"

"Okay." A bright smile quickly spread across her face. "I'm gonna go shower."

"Me, too. Wanna watch one of the movies afterwards?"

"Sure. *Mystery Men*?"

"It's a date."

"I won't tell Jean you said that."

Laughing, they each headed to their rooms.


When the credits started to roll, Scott reached for the remote, clicked the movie off, and started to rewind the tape. "That was one sick movie," he remarked, shaking his head.

"Oh, I thought it was quite realistic. Seems like an average day in the life of the X-Men."

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Oh yeah. The Shoveler reminded me a bit of you."

"Me? Please."

Jubilee nodded emphatically.

"Personally, I felt more of a simpatico with Roy."

"Mr. Furious? You? Puh-lease, Cyke, don't make me laugh." At that moment, the only sound was of her stomach rumbling.

"Hungry?" he asked.

"Yeah. Guess a bowl of cereal didn't cut it. What's for dinner?"

"What are you in the mood for?"

"Something quick and easy."

"Pizza," they said in unison. Then they laughed.

"Topping?" Scott asked, getting up from the couch.

"Pepperoni okay?"

"Sounds good."

"I'm gonna go take a Tylenol," Jubilee told him, also getting to her feet.

"Headache still bothering you?"

"Yeah, it's gotten a bit worse."

"You sure you don't want to take the meds Hank gave you?"

"Nah. I don't want to miss dinner and *The Matrix*. I want to be perfectly lucid when I watch Keanu," she said, heading for the bathroom. "But if it's still this bad before I go to sleep, I'll take one then."

"Okay. I'm going to go order the pizza." Scott headed into the kitchen, found the take-out menu in a drawer, and placed the order. Then he returned to the living room. The tape had finished rewinding, so he ejected it and returned it to its case. He was in the process of placing the other movie into the VCR when he thought he heard a noise from the other room. It sounded like a crash.

"Jubilee?" he called, standing up. "Are you okay?"

There came no reply.

"Jubilee, did you drop something?"

Still no response.

Concerned, Scott headed for her room. Finding it empty, he headed for the bathroom. The door was ajar. He noticed the light reflecting off of the metal of one of her braces on the tile floor. His first thought was that she must have dropped one of her crutches.

"Jubilee, everything all right?" he called, knocking on the door. As he did so, it pushed inward a few inches, and he got a better view of the fallen brace--lying beside Jubilee's prone form.

"Jubilee!" he called, concerned that she had tripped and fallen. He began to push the door open the rest of the way, but found its movement hindered by the crutch. Bending down to move it out of the way, Scott quickly pushed the door open and entered the room. "Jubilee, are you all right? Are you hurt?"

But she did not respond. It was only then that Scott realized that she was trembling slightly.

"Jubilee?" He knelt down beside her and reached out to her. She did not react to his touch. He looked at her face, saw that her eyes were glazed over, her mouth slightly agape, with no awareness of her surroundings. What the hell was going on?

Looking at her more closely, he realized she was not merely shivering. In fact, the movements were increasing in intensity. Within seconds, her limbs began to jerk erratically, her entire body shaking. Scott realized then in horror that she was having a seizure.

Tamping down any feelings of panic, he forced himself to remember his first aid training. He gently turned her onto her side and pointed her head downwards to allow any secretions to flow outward so that she would not choke on them--which was a good thing, because a moment later, she began to vomit. She did not bring much up, thankfully, since her last meal had been hours ago. When she seemed to be done, Scott reached into her mouth to make sure her airway was clear and then pulled her body back away from the mess.

He did not restrain her, but he did try to limit the movement of her head so that she would not injure it on the hard tile floor. He quickly reached for a nearby towel and folded it beneath her head to cushion it. Then all he could do was wait and watch helplessly as her body spasmed uncontrollably.

The seconds ticked by like eternities as the seizure continued to torment her body. Scott was beginning to fear that it would never end when the tremors noticeably declined in intensity. Before long, there was only an occasional twitching, until finally she was still save for the movement of her chest as she breathed.

"Jubilee?" Scott called, gently pushing her hair back from her sweat-soaked brow. "Kiddo, can you hear me?"

She made a sound low in her throat, but it was swallowed by a coughing gag. Scott held her on her side as she continued to cough, the movements wracking her body. When she was done, he slowly helped her to roll onto her back.

She looked up at him, trying to get her eyes to focus. "M-Momma? Daddy?" she called, her voice soft and high-pitched, like that of a scared, small child.

"Jubilee, it's Scott."

"D-Daddy?" she whimpered again. From the glazed look in her eyes, it was evident that she was not truly seeing him. "'M . . . c-c-cold. . .." She started to shiver.

"I'll be right back." Scott hurried into her bedroom, grabbed the comforter from her bed, and carried it back into the bathroom. When he returned, he found Jubilee on the floor, knees bent practically to her chest as she curled herself into a tight ball. She was still shaking. As he knelt beside her, he realized it was not just a chill that was wracking her body; she was sobbing as well.

"Jubilee, what's wrong?" he asked, gently touching her shoulder.

"'M sorry, Daddy."

"Sorry? What are you sorry for?"

"I-I . . . d-didn't m-m-mean to. . . ." She began to sob harder, and her body quaked even more.

He reached for her, and she flinched from his touch.

"Shh," Scott soothed, letting his hand remain and gently rubbing her back. "Jubilee, it's okay. I won't be angry with you."

"Y-you pr-promise, Daddy?"

He was about to correct her, but then paused, deciding against it. It seemed easier not to contradict her present hallucination, but rather just go with the flow. "I promise."

She paused, licking her lips. "I wet my bed," she whispered finally, fresh tears falling.

Scott stared at her questioningly; knowing that there was no bed to be seen in the vicinity, he thought at first that this was just part of her current hallucination. But then he took a better look at Jubilee, and saw that her sweat pants were indeed soiled. He knew that it was common for a seizure victim to lose bladder or bowel control, just as it was likely that they could vomit.

"I'm sorry, Daddy," she cried repentantly.

"It's okay, kiddo," he assured her. "No big deal. No need to cry," he told her, reaching to cup her cheek.

"Y-you . . . you're not mad?"

"No, kiddo. Why would I be mad?"

"'C-cause last time. . . ." Her voice caught on the words.

"I'm not mad at you, Jubilee. Now, how about we get you cleaned up?" he asked, tenderly stroking her cheek with his thumb. "Getting out of the wet clothes should also help warm you up a bit."

She nodded emphatically.

"Okay, I'm going to take off your sweat pants."

Nodding, Jubilee rolled onto her back and straightened her legs, allowing Scott to grab the pants by the ankle cuffs and tug them off of her. As he put them aside, he saw that she began to shiver again. He hurried to retrieve a washcloth, which he wet down with warm water. Kneeling beside her, he gently wiped her legs with the cloth.

"Better?" he asked her.

She nodded. "'M tired. . . ." she whispered, closing her eyes.

"You just rest, kiddo," he told her as he dried her legs with a towel. Then he carefully lifted her in his arms and laid her on the open blanket, which he wrapped snugly around her before once more taking her into his arms. By then, Scott knew she was half-asleep, but he still felt the need to assure her that he was going to do everything in his power to make sure she was well. "I'm going to get you to Hank, let him examine you and run some tests. Hopefully he'll be able to figure out what caused your seizure, and prevent it from happening again."

She murmured something unintelligible before snuggling closer against his chest.

Looking down at her face, Scott was struck by how peaceful it looked at that moment. He could not help but smile. "Don't worry, kiddo, we're gonna get to the bottom of this," he said as he carried her out of the house and toward the mansion. "I promise."

Chapter 9

"Jean, will you please slow down?" Ororo asked from where she sat nervously in the passenger seat. Her gaze darted between the busy highway and her friend.

Jean did not reply. She merely gripped the steering wheel tightly, her eyes focused on the road. Abruptly, she cut the wheel to the left, and began to weave between the other vehicles on the highway.

Ororo gazed at the speedometer, and swallowed when she realized that they were pushing eighty. "Jean, perhaps you should allow me to--look out!" she gasped, catching sight of a car switching lanes in front of them, directly in their path.

But Jean had seen the SUV, and reacted quickly, swerving to avoid colliding with the other vehicle. She then floored it, passing the car and flipping off the driver as they sped past.

"Goddess! Are you trying to get us killed?" Ororo brought a hand to her chest, even as the other gripped the handrest on the door tightly.

"I need to get home to her," came Jean's reply.

"Surely we can do so in a manner that will not compromise our lives?"

"Our exit's coming up. We'll be home in about ten minutes." Jean continued to stare out at the road. Slowly, she shook her head. "I can't believe he didn't call me last night, when it happened. Why didn't he call me?"

Ororo could sense the underlying pain and anger in Jean's tone. She wondered the same thing herself. But she had also known Scott for enough years not to question his judgment; she was sure there was a reasonable explanation. She was surprised that Jean did not share her confidence.

Was it really less than two hours ago that they had been enjoying a leisurely breakfast after a weekend of being pampered? Sitting across from her, Jean had looked more relaxed than Ororo could remember seeing her in weeks. It was wonderful to see her friend well rested, her mind unoccupied with a dozen tasks she felt needed to be done, smiling warmly and laughing easily. The first day at the spa, Jean had been uneasy with the whole idea, and constantly worried about Jubilee, wanting to call her at least half-a-dozen times every hour. But after a long massage and a luxurious hour in a sauna sitting beside Ororo, she had finally begun to unwind. By that evening, thoughts of home had seemed the furthest thing from her mind. It was not until earlier that morning, when breakfast was over and they were chatting over coffee before their departure that Jean had finally decided to call home and see how the weekend had gone back in Westchester.

Jean had pulled her cell phone out of her bag and dialed home. There was no answer; only the machine. She was surprised, but not troubled at that point.

"Maybe they decided to join the others at the mansion for breakfast?" Ororo had suggested.

"I'll try there," Jean agreed. When she called the mansion, it was Logan who answered.


"Good morning, Logan. Is Scott there, by any chance?"

"He's down in the medi-lab, with the kid."

Jean paused a moment. "Oh. I didn't realize Jubilee had another physical scheduled for today."

This time it was Logan who fell silent.


"Jeanie, she's not getting a physical." His voice sounded tense, drawn.

Jean felt her mouth go dry. "Wh-what's happened?"

"The kid had a seizure last night."

"A seizure? Oh God." Jean could feel Ororo's concerned gaze on her. "How is she?"

"She's okay. She was out of it for a bit, but Hank said that's normal afterwards. He's running a whole bunch of tests, and so far everything checks out okay. Shit, Red, I thought Scotty called you."

"I haven't spoken to him since I left Saturday morning. We're leaving now, and we'll be home as soon as we can. Please tell Jubilee I'm on my way. You can reach me on my cell phone if there's any change." Without even waiting for his reply, she clicked the phone off and gathered her bag. In mere minutes, they had paid for their meal, checked out, and were speeding home.

"Jean, our exit is approaching," Ororo warned. "Perhaps you should--"

"I know," came Jean's terse reply. She cut across three lanes of traffic and screeched onto the off-ramp.

Ororo held tight to the dashboard as Jean made a sharp turn onto Graymalkin Lane. Less than a minute later, they were tearing around the circle drive. Jean brought them to an abrupt halt in front of the mansion, slamming the car into park. She barely remembered to cut the engine as she grabbed the keys, threw the door open, and hurried up the front steps.

"Jean, wait!" Ororo called, hurrying to catch up with her. She had to sprint down the main foyer to reach her and catch the same elevator down to the sub-basement. During the short ride, Jean stared up at the floor indicator, fingers clenching and unclenching at her sides repeatedly. As soon as the doors opened, she was out of the elevator and striding down the corridor at a full clip toward the medi-lab, Ororo hot on her heels.

Jean burst into the medi-lab, eyes quickly scanning the room. All of the beds were empty. The only occupant in the room sat in a chair at the far end of the room, studying the pattern of the floor tiles. Hearing her enter, he was almost instantly on his feet.

"Jeanie," Logan called, quickly closing the distance between them. He looked toward the doorway a moment before Storm entered, a bit out of breath. "'Roro. Damn, that was quick. You called less than two hours ago."

"I think we may have left my stomach back on the freeway," Ororo said, looking around the room.

"Where is she?" Jean demanded. She was trying desperately not to draw conclusions from the girl's absence.

"The kid's fine," Logan reassured her. "Hank wanted to rerun one of the tests, compare it to yesterday's results. An MRI or CAT scan--whatever it is where he has to put her into a long tube. It freaked her out a bit last night, so she asked Scott if he would stay in the room with her." Logan glanced at his watch. "That was 'bout twenty minutes ago. They should be back soon. Why don't you take a load off while we wait?"

But Jean merely shook her head. Crossing her arms across her middle, she began to pace the room. Ororo took the seat beside Logan and the two whispered amongst themselves, giving Jean the privacy she apparently desired.

Just over fifteen minutes later, Jean stopped pacing abruptly, her head snapping toward the doorway. Moments later, Hank came bounding into the lab, followed shortly by Scott, who carried Jubilee cradled in his arms.

"Jubilee!" Jean cried, hurrying toward them.

"Hey Jean," Jubilee replied as Scott carried her over to her bed. As he gently placed her down, she let go of his neck and then scooted back against the pillow while Scott covered her legs with the blanket. "So, how was your weekend at the spa?" she asked, as though nothing were out of the ordinary.

"Oh, sweetie, I was so worried about you," Jean said, bending to embrace Jubilee tightly.

"I'm fine," Jubilee told her. When Jean did not let go, she hugged her back. It took her a moment to realize that Jean was trembling--on the verge of tears. "Oh gosh. Really, Jean, I'm fine," she assured her, rubbing her back. "Ask Hank, he'll tell ya. I passed all my tests with flying colors."

"The young lady speaketh the truth," Hank agreed, consulting Jubilee's chart. "Everything appears normal."

"How do you feel?" Jean asked, finally pulling back. Sitting down on the bed beside Jubilee, she gently cupped the girl's cheek and caressed it softly.

"I told you, Jean, I feel fine," she insisted, covering Jean's hand with her own and nodding. "I felt kinda tired and weak last night, after it happened. And I think I was kinda out of it for a while. But Hank said that's normal."

"A seizure uses up a great deal of energy, leaving the body in a hypoglycemic state," Hank explained. "One often feels weakened when they have low blood sugar. And disorientation is common after a seizure as well."

"But what caused the seizure, Hank?" Jean asked.

"It's hard to determine. Suffice it to say that seizure activity is not an uncommon consequence of a head injury."

"But she was injured almost two months ago."

"Yes, but even so, such injuries often have residual effects that can last months, if not years."

"Can we prevent it from recurring?"

"I have placed Jubilee on anti-convulsants as a preventative measure," Hank explained. "We will have to do periodic blood testing, to make sure the level is appropriate. But as Jubilation said, all the tests indicate that she is fine. There is no physiological cause detectable, no consequential damage from the seizure. She should just take it easy for a while, but otherwise she gets a clean bill of health."

Jean sighed audibly as she reached for Jubilee's hand and gave it a squeeze. Jubilee smiled in return.

"Now, if you all don't mind, my patient has had a busy morning, and I think she could use some rest," Hank told them all.

"I hope you feel better, Jubilation," Ororo told her. "I will come see you later."

"Thanks, Storm. I can't wait to hear all about your weekend."

"You rest up, kid," Logan told her. "'Coz tomorrow mornin', you an' me got a date in the gym."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Wolvie," she replied, waving, as he and Ororo left.

"I will be back to check on you in a little while, Jubilee," Hank told her. "Now, try to get some sleep, okay?"

"No prob," she said, stifling a yawn. "Thanks, Hankster."

"My pleasure." With a wink and a smile, Hank bounded out of the room.

"Go on and lay down," Jean told Jubilee as she got up. The girl complied, and Jean tucked the blanket around her.

"Do you need anything?" Scott asked, walking closer to stand beside Jean at the bedside.

"No, I'm good, Scott, thanks." She beamed up at him, and he smiled back.

Jean lightly touched Jubilee's forehead, smoothing her hair back. "You get some rest now, okay, sweetie?" She bent and placed a soft kiss on her brow.

Jubilee looked up at them. "Would you sit with me till I fall asleep?"

"Sure," Scott replied at the same moment Jean said, "Of course."

They looked from one another to Jubilee.

"Actually, I was wondering if you'd both sit with me?" Jubilee clarified.

Once again, they looked at one another. Jean shrugged almost imperceptibly, while Scott nodded.

"Whatever you want, kiddo," Scott told her. He went to retrieve a pair of chairs, which he brought over to her bedside.

"Thank you," Jean muttered, sitting down in the chair closest to Jubilee's head.

Scott silently took the other seat.

Together, they watched the girl as she closed her eyes and sighed contentedly. In mere moments, her breathing took on the slow, steady rhythm of slumber.

Jean continued to watch her sleep, comforted by the sight. She nearly started when she felt Scott's hand cover her own.

"Did you have a good time at the spa?" he whispered.

Jean pulled her hand back out of his grasp and stared at him in disbelief. <*How can you even ask me such a question?*> she projected back at him, obviously not wanting to disturb Jubilee's slumber with a verbal conversation.

He looked at her in confusion.

<*Cut the crap, Scott.*>

<*Jean, what--?*>

<*Why the hell didn't you call me? How could you keep something like this from me?*>

<*Jean, I wasn't keeping anything from you.*>

<*Like hell you weren't! The seizure happened last night, and I wouldn't even had known before I got back if I hadn't tried calling *you*!*>

<*Jean, when I brought her over yesterday evening, Hank ran all sorts of tests. He assured me that everything appeared normal, that she was going to be fine. I saw no need to disturb you unless it was an emergency.*>

<*Emergency?! For God's sake, Scott, what qualifies as an emergency in your mind? Would she have had to lapse into another coma? Or would it have to be more of a near-death experience?*>

<*Jean, you've over-reacting.*>

<*How the hell else do you expect me to react when I find out you're keeping things from me?*>

<*Jean, I saw no need to ruin your last night away. It's not like you could have done anything anyway--*>

She could see the muscles in his jaw tighten. <*Jean, I'm sorry if you're upset. But I was only trying to--*>

<*Stop it! Just stop it, Scott. I refuse to sit here and listen to you offer me petty excuses.*> And with that, she clamped down on their mindlink, effectively severing any means of psychic communication. To add insult to injury, she turned her body away from him in her chair, crossing her arms.

For Scott, it felt like a slap to the face. "Don't you dare try to silence me when I'm trying to speak to you," he said, grabbing her arm.

"Let go of me," she hissed.

"Only if you agree to hear me out."

"Shh!" she snapped, turning to look at Jubilee. Murmuring in her sleep, the girl rolled over onto her side. "Lower your voice, or you'll wake her."

"Then let's take this outside," he said, rising, his hand still on her forearm and thus urging her to her feet.

"Fine." With a final glance back at Jubilee, Jean pulled her arm out of Scott's grasp and walked with him into the corridor, making sure the door to medi-lab shut behind her. "I don't know what there is left to say," she remarked tersely, arms once more wrapped around her middle as she leaned against a wall.

"Jean, why are you acting this way? Why are you so angry with me?"

"How can you even have to ask me that? I reluctantly leave Jubilee in your care for the weekend, and when something serious happens to her, you can't even be bothered to pick up the phone and call me!"

"Jean, I already explained--"

"Excuses, Scott! What you offered me were pathetic excuses! You should have called me immediately." She silently shook her head, as though berating herself. "God, I never should have gone away for the weekend. I never should have left her."

"What you really mean is that you never should have left her with me, isn't that right, Jean? Because no one could possibly care for her like you could, right?"

"Obviously not!" she spat back. "For over eight weeks, I've taken care of her Scott, and she's done fine. She's been making steady progress, improving every day. But the one weekend I agree to go away on this stupid vacation, this happens. I trusted you to watch her, Scott. To take care of her. How could you let this happen? How?"

He stared at her, nonplused. "You don't honestly blame me for her seizure, do you?"

When she did not reply, he felt his own anger beginning to rise. "Oh, that's rich, Jean. That's just rich. My caring for Jubilee this weekend is no more to blame for her seizure than your not watching her is. And I can't believe you would even consider implying otherwise. What the hell has gotten into you?"

"I could ask you the same thing, Scott. I always thought you were a mature, responsible adult. The type of man who would have called me to inform me about any significant change in Jubilee's health. Apparently, I was wrong."

Scott laughed then. "Christ, Jean, I think that spa must have done something to your sensibilities, because you sound nothing like my wife."

"Actually, Scott, I feel like I'm seeing clearly for the first time in weeks. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go consult with Hank to see what sort of changes need to be made in Jubilee's care." With that, she turned on her heel and started to leave. "Don't just walk away from me," he said, grabbing her arm. "I'm not through talking with you."

She turned on him, eyes flashing in anger. "Well, *I* am through with *you*! Now, get your hand off of me!" She gave him a telekinetic shove that was perhaps a tad stronger than she had intended. She sent Scott flying across the hallway and crashing into the far wall with a loud bang. Jean did not even bother to look back to see him sprawled on the floor, rubbing the back of his head, as she sought Hank in his office.

In the medi-lab, Jubilee rose from where she had sat huddled by the door, listening to the fight as it transpired. She navigated her way back to her bed through hazy, tear-filled vision, and climbed up, drawing the covers tightly around her. She lay that way for a while until she finally cried herself to sleep.

Chapter 10

"You know, Scott, you'd've made a great firefighter," Jubilee told him from her perch in his arms as he carried her into the house, Jean closing the door behind them.

"But if I were using the traditional fireman's carry, you'd be bent over my shoulder," he pointed out.

"Nah, I think this way is more fun," she said, kicking her legs playfully as he brought her into her bedroom.

"Just a sec," Jean said, pulling back the covers telekinetically even as she put the pillows against the headboard, fluffing them manually. "Okay, all set."

Scott wordlessly placed Jubilee down in the bed and stepped back, allowing Jean to settle the covers around her.

"There you go," Jean said, sitting down on the side of the mattress. "You're looking much better this morning, sweetie," she told her, gently stroking the hair on Jubilee's temple. "Your color looks much better."

"It's all this bed rest. I think I'm indulging too much. I feel like I'm getting out of shape already."

"Well, Hank wanted you to take it easy one more day," Jean pointed out.

"Enjoy it while you can," Scott added. "Tomorrow you start your physical therapy with Logan again."

Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Lucky me." She turned to look at Jean. "So, you never did tell me how your weekend was. Did you enjoy being pampered?"

"It was wonderful. Quite relaxing. I just missed you, that's all."

"Yeah, right. A weekend of massages and facials and hot tubs, versus cooking and cleaning up after a teenaged kid. No contest there."

"None whatsoever," Jean replied simply, patting Jubilee's leg. "Are you hungry, sweetie? Would you like me to make you something?"

"Oh, no, I'm fine, Jean, thanks. I'm still full from breakfast." When Jean looked at her questioningly, she went on, "Scott brought me something while I was still in the medi-lab. An egg-and-cheese muffin thingie."

"You were getting her room ready at the time," Scott explained to Jean.

She nodded. "Oh. Well, do you need anything to drink?"

"Nope. I'm good. I think I'm just going to read for a while," she said, reaching for a book she had left on her nightstand.

"All right, sweetie. You just let me know if you need anything. I'll just be in the next room."

"Sure thing. Thanks, Jean."

Nodding, Jean smiled at her. She gave her hand a quick pat before rising.

"If you're in the mood later, I can bring the chess set in here and teach you how to play, like you've been asking," Scott told her.

"Sure, Scott. That'd be great. Maybe later this afternoon, after lunch."

"Just let me know. And in the meantime, shout if you need anything."

"Will do." She smiled and waved as he followed Jean out of the room and into their bedroom.

Scott sat down on the bed and began to remove his shoes. "Well, she seems to be doing well. More restless than anything else."

When there came no reply, he looked up to watch Jean retrieving some discarded clothing from the back of a chair, and placing the items on hangers.

"Jean? Did you hear me? Don't you think Jubilee is in good spirits?"

Still, she said nothing as she returned the clothing to the closet. In fact, she made no indication that she had even heard him.

"So how long are you going to keep up this silent treatment, Jean?" Scott asked, angrily tossing his shoes across the room so that they hit the wall with a loud bang. "How long are you going to continue to shut me out?"

"I have nothing to say to you."

"Bullshit. There's obviously a lot left unsaid between us, or else we'd be talking."

"I've said all that needs to be said."

"Damn it, Jean. I told you I was sorry I didn't call you about Jubilee. I thought I explained my reasoning. You may not agree with it, but can't you at least accept it? Can't we just move past this, and get on with our lives?"

"Maybe I can't get past it."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean? That you're never going to forgive me for a mistake? A mistake, I may point out, I made out of love for you."

"If that's a sign of your affection, I'd hate to see what you'd do to those you hate."

"Oh, for God's sake, Jean, will you cut the melodramatic crap? I'm sick and tired of this holier-than-thou attitude of yours."

She turned to face him then, eyes flashing in indignation. "What--?"

"You know damned well what I mean. Jubilee's been staying with us for almost two months, and in that time I feel like I've barely said two words to her. *We* agreed to take her into *our* home, Jean, to care for her *together,* but you've barely let me get within two feet of her. Time and again, I've offered my help, but you've pushed me away, rebuked me. You want to do everything your-goddammed-self."

"That's not true, Scott. I'm not the only one--"

"Well, you have let Hank handle her medical care, but I suspect that has something to do with his medical degree. Hell, I'm surprised you've let Logan be in charge of her physical therapy rather than take on that responsibility yourself as well."

"You're just jealous of the time I've been spending with her, that's all."

"Not jealous, no. But after spending the weekend with her, I'm sorry I never did so before. Sorry you never gave me the chance."

"I never stopped you--"

"Like hell you didn't! That's what I've been trying to tell you, Jean. You've been monopolizing care over her. In the process, you've not only worn yourself down, but you've isolated her from the others here--from her friends, the people who care about her. You don't own sole rights to her love, you know. Did you ever stop to think that perhaps what she needed was a change of pace, some new company? That maybe you were suffocating her with your attention?"

Jean simply stared at him, too stunned to reply.

"You know, this weekend was the first time I can remember hearing Jubilee laugh. I don't mean just chuckle. I mean, throw her head back and laugh from deep in her belly with the careless abandon of a child. Because that's what she is, Jean--just a child. I'm not sure you know that. While it's true that on the one hand, you're coddling her like one, on the other hand, that same kind of care can be stifling. Sometimes, it's best to just let her be, and to try to do things on her own, for herself."

Jean's eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips in annoyance. "So now you're criticizing the way I care for her? At least she never had a seizure when *I* was watching her!"

Scott threw his hands up in exasperation. "Go on and continue to blame me for that. Fine. Nothing I can say will change your mind anyway. But let me also point this out to you: while *you* were gone this weekend, and Jubilee was in *my* care, she managed to walk the entire way to the mansion, without any help. Plus, she was able to walk for a short distance without the crutches at all. So perhaps you should reconsider whether letting her do things for herself at her own pace might not be the better way to go."

Jean brought a shaking hand to her mouth. "She . . . she walked . . . without the braces?"

Smiling proudly, Scott nodded. "She didn't even notice not having them," he said, his voice softer, as he took an unconscious step closer to her.

Jean could not help but return the grin. But almost as quickly as it appeared, it faded. "Maybe she pushed herself too hard. And that physical exertion taxed her, affected her brain in some way to cause the seizure."

"You can't for one minute accept the fact that someone other than yourself is capable of caring for Jubilee, of helping her. In fact, you can't stand the idea that she may actually have enjoyed the time she spent alone with me this weekend--without you around."

"Don't be ridiculous, Scott."

"No, I don't think I'm being ridiculous at all. In fact, I don't think it's me who's jealous where Jubilee is concerned. I think you need to start looking in the mirror, Jean."

"I am not jealous!"

"Stop it!" came a shout from the doorway. They both turned to see Jubilee standing there, leaning on the doorframe, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Both of you, just stop it! I can't stand to listen to you fighting!"

"Oh, sweetie, we weren't fighting," Jean said, hurrying to the doorway to help Jubilee inside. "C'mon, let's go sit down."

"I don't need your help!" Jubilee snapped, shrugging off Jean's hands. "I don't want to sit down. I just want you two to stop fighting."

"But, Jubilee, I already told you, we're not--"

"So now you're going to start lying to her, too?" Scott asked his wife. "She's got ears. She knows perfectly well that we're arguing."

"About me," Jubilee cut in. "You're arguing about me. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you fight."

"Oh, sweetie, it's not your fault," Jean told her.

"That's something we agree on," Scott added. "Kiddo, we're mad at each other, not at you."

"But you're fighting *about* me. I'm the cause. I never would have agreed to come stay with you guys if I knew this was going to happen. I didn't mean for you two to get mad at each other. I've never seen you two fight like this. You're the happiest couple I know. But now I'm tearing you apart."

"You're not, sweetie," Jean told her as she put an arm around her shoulder.

"No, I think we're doing a bang up job of that all by ourselves," Scott amended.

Jean shot him a look that could melt the coldest of glaciers. "Dammit, Scott, you're not helping matters here!" She felt Jubilee start to cry. "Oh, sweetie," she crooned, pulling Jubilee into her arms. The girl held onto her tightly, sobs shaking her small frame, her hot tears dampening Jean's blouse. "I hope you're happy, Scott Summers. Now look what you've done!"

"Don't you dare blame me for this, Jean. You're just as much at fault as I am. It takes two to argue."

"Stop," Jubilee whispered in between sobs. "Please stop. Stopstopstop."

Glaring at him one last time, Jean turned her attention back to the crying girl in her arms. "Shh, Jubilee. It's okay, sweetie. It's okay. C'mon, let's get you back to bed." Jean slowly began to lead the girl out of the master bedroom and toward her own.

"I see we're back to the silent treatment!" Scott called after her. "That's just like you, Jean, to shut me out! To retreat, rather than talk to me! To push me away, rather than let me in! If that's the way you want to play things, fine by me!"

Jean tried to ignore his angry shouts as she led Jubilee over to her bed and helped her into it. She continued to hold the girl in her arms, rocking her gently, rubbing her back, and whispering soft words of reassurance. All the while, she heard loud banging noises coming from her and Scott's bedroom as he opened and closed drawers. A couple of minutes later, she heard his loud footsteps treading down the hallway, toward the living room. A moment later, she heard the front door slam shut. Both she and Jubilee started at the noise.

"Did Sc-Scott . . . l-leave?" Jubilee asked against her shoulder.


"Where'd he g-go?"

"I don't know, sweetie."

"Wh-when's he comin' back?"

"I don't know, sweetie." Jean continued to rock Jubilee in her arms, even as she blinked back her own tears. "I don't know."


Jennifer Sorowitz V'02
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If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it. -William Arthur Ward

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