Sweet Child of Mine: Chapters 16-22

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 17

Scott watched as Jean absently pushed the food around her plate with her fork. She had taken only a bite or two, and had been shifting it around into different piles for the past ten minutes. "Is your dinner okay?" he asked. "Do you want something else?"

"Hmm?" Jean looked up then, realizing that he was addressing her. "Oh, it's fine, Scott. I'm just not very hungry."

"I thought it was great, Scott," Jubilee said cheerfully, downing the last bite from her plate. "Really good."

"You know, Jean, you really should try to eat something," Scott told her. "You need to get your strength back. Do you want me to make you some soup?"

"I told you already, I'm not hungry," Jean replied, her tone curt, as she put down her fork. She wiped her mouth with her napkin and placed it onto the table. "I think I'm going to go lie down."

"Again?" Scott asked. "You just took a nap before dinner."

Jean stared at him a moment, eyes narrowing. "I feel tired."

"Fine. Go ahead and just sleep away the next ten years of your life," he said, tossing his napkin onto the table and pushing back his chair so that he could rise. "See if I give a damn."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"What it means, Jean, is that you're hiding. From me. From your friends. From what happened. Lying in bed all day is not going to change things. It's not going to make it disappear."

"What would you have me do? Go about on my merry way? Clean the house and bake cookies and plant a garden as though nothing happened?"

"I'm not saying you should pretend it didn't happen, Jean. But you have to face it--and your feelings--so that you can get on with your life. So that *we* can get on with our life. Why won't you talk to me? Why won't you tell me what you're feeling?"

She shook her head. "I . . . I can't, Scott. I just can't."

"Why not, Jean?" He walked around the table, knelt down beside her chair, and took her hands in his. "I'm your husband. If you can't talk to me about what happened, then who? You don't have to go through this alone, Jean. Let me in. Let me help you. We can get through this together." He squeezed her hands for emphasis.

"I-I'm gonna go do the dishes," Jubilee muttered. She hastily stacked the plates and silverware and carried them into the kitchen, leaving her foster parents alone to talk.

Jean sighed. "I just don't feel ready to talk about this."

Scott let out a loud breath. "When, then?" He felt his frustration grow. "It's been almost a week, Jean. I've tried to be patient. I've tried to give you space, time to yourself. But every time I try to broach the topic, you change it, or walk away, or go to take another damned nap! And I don't know what else to do, what else to say. I'm at the end of my rope here. I can't help but fear that if we don't deal with this soon, it's going to do irreparable harm to our marriage."

"Scott, why can't you understand that I don't want to talk about it? Discussing it is not going to make me feel better. It's not going to ease my pain. It's not going to make things right."

His brow furrowed in anger. "Did you ever stop to think that maybe *I'd* like to talk about it? That it might help *me*? Dammit, Jean, you're not the only one hurting here. You're not the only one grieving."

"I'm sorry, Scott," she said, getting to her feet. "I can't do this right now."

"So you're just going to walk away? Just like that? Jean, please. . . ."

She paused at the sound of his pleading. But after a moment, she continued walking away.

"Dammit!" Scott shouted, kicking the chair. "Dammit all to hell!" He stood, fists clenched, trying to decide what to do. To let her go, or follow. He could not stand to go on like this any longer. They had to have it out. He could not let this go any further.

Taking a deep breath, he followed Jean into the bedroom. She sat on the bed, getting undressed. He watched as she unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it over her shoulders. Below her white satin bra, he could see the outline of each and every rib. He gave a sharp intake of breath. Jean looked up at him, not realizing he had been watching her.

"You've lost weight," he said, still staring at her.

Shrugging, Jean rose to her feet to remove her slacks. She turned her back to him as she took off her bra and pulled a nightgown over her head.

Scott winced. Jean had never been shy about him seeing her body before. When had this wall gone up between them? More importantly, how could he break it down?

He walked up behind her, and slid his arms around her waist. Wrapping them around her middle, he pulled her back against him, nuzzling into her hair. "Jean, sweetheart, please talk to me. . . . ."

She did not reply. She just stood there tensely, stiffly, in his arms. Not reacting to his touch, or to his words. It was like he was holding a stranger.

"Jean, are you mad at me?" he asked, releasing his hold.

She said nothing as she stepped closer to the bed and gathered her clothes.

"You're angry with me about something, aren't you? That's why you don't want to talk to me, isn't it?"

Silently, she hung up her pants, put her blouse and bra in the hamper.

"Can you tell me what I did to upset you? Even that would be better than this silent treatment."

Jean sighed deeply as she picked up her brush from the dresser and began to run it through her hair.

"I'm right, aren't I?"

"All right, Scott. Yes, I'm angry with you. There, I said it. Are you happy now? Will you leave me be now?"

Scott was filled with a mixture of relief and anxiety. "But why, Jean? Why are you mad at me?"

She licked her lips. "It's not so much anger as it is hurt."

He walked closer, looked her in the eyes. "Tell me."

She bit her lip. She was trying to forget this, to work past it. But she could not. It was nagging at her, festering in the back of her mind, leaving her unsettled, not at peace. Maybe Scott was right. Maybe she needed to get this off of her chest, and into the open. It certainly could not be doing her any good to keep it bottled up inside.

"When we spoke on the phone last, the night before . . . the night before it happened . . . when I apologized to you for what I had said to you during our fight . . . I asked you to come home. But you refused."

"I didn't refuse," Scott countered defensively. "I told you that I'd be home the next afternoon. I explained to you, Jean, that I had made a commitment to the students."

"I know that, Scott. But I asked you to come home to me. And you pushed me away."

"I didn't push--"

"All right, so maybe you didn't push me away. But you certainly put me on hold. Like you always do. You always put the needs of the team first. Me--our marriage--takes a back seat to your commitment to the team."

He looked at her in confusion. Surely these words were not coming out of her mouth. "That's ridiculous, Jean. You know that you are the number one priority in my life."

"Then why didn't you come home to me, Scott? I begged and pleaded with you to."

"You did no such thing. You asked me to come home, I told you I would the next day. When I asked you if that was all right, you said yes. If it wasn't, you should have come out and said so."

"But that's just the point, Scott--I shouldn't have to. You should *know*."

His eyebrows rose in disbelief. "I'm not the goddammed mind reader, Jean. And it's not like you've been bothering to maintain our rapport lately, anyway. Ever since Jubilee came to stay with us, you've been retreating further and further from me."

"Oh, so now it's Jubilee's fault that we're not communicating anymore?"

"Did I say that? Jesus, Jean, you're twisting my words around. Hell, if anyone's putting our marriage second to other commitments, it's you. You're the one who's focused every waking moment of your life on the care of that girl. At the expense of our marriage. And I've stood patiently by, letting you push me away, watching you sacrifice everything--our relationship, your health--for her. And I haven't said boo, because I knew it's something important to you. But maybe now you'll realize that you can't focus everything into caring for her. That you have to leave something for yourself."

"You're saying it's my fault? That I did this to myself--purposely?"

"Certainly not purposely. But who knows? Maybe if you had taken better care of yourself--"

There was a resounding *smack!* as she slapped him across the face. Scott staggered backwards in surprise. Regaining his balance, he looked at Jean who stood with her hands balled into fists, lips pressed into a thin line, eyes shining with unshed tears.

"You bastard! How can you suggest--how can you even think--that I would deliberately do something to harm my own child? I did everything in my power to protect that child. I would never do anything to hurt it. Never."

"*Our* child. You keep forgetting, Jean, that it wasn't just your baby--it was mine as well. Though that little piece of knowledge seemed to be something you felt was unimportant for me to know. When were you planning to tell me? When you started showing? Or maybe you'd have decided to clue me in when you were giving birth."

"I wanted to tell you, Scott. Why the hell do you think I asked you to come home? You're the one who ran off to Massachusetts--"

"Because I couldn't stand being in the same house with a wife who refused to talk to me. What we had at that time was not a marriage. It was a farce. I tried to open the lines of communication, but you wouldn't hear me."

"I'm not the only one who's got selective hearing. When I finally did speak to you, you didn't listen to what it is I had to say. You chose to ignore me."

"Jean, I'm not a goddammed psychologist. To me, yes means yes and no means no. If you wanted me to come home immediately, you should have said just that. 'Come home. Now.' I would have been on the next plane."

"Bullshit. You would have made excuses about how you only had one lecture left. That you couldn't disappoint the kids. That it was only one more goddammed day. Well, what about me, Scott? What about your unborn child? The day I lost the baby was probably the time in my life when I needed you here with me most, and where were you? Talking to somebody else's kids, several states away. Where the hell were you when I lay on our kitchen floor, bleeding? When I lay on a table in the medi-lab, unable to fight the contractions of my womb as it expelled my unborn child? When I had to deal with the stone cold reality that my baby was gone, dead? Where the hell were you, Scott?" She glared at him as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

"I would have been here, Jean. If you had told me about the baby, I would have been here in a heartbeat," he told her, his own voice thick with unshed tears. "You're the one who chose to keep that news from me. You have no one to blame for your isolation other than yourself."

"Get out!" she spat, tossing the hairbrush at him.

Scott did not bother to get out of the way, or to try to deflect it with an optic blast. He just stood there as it hit him square in the chest. He barely reacted to the impact. "Is that what you really want, Jean?"

"Get out, you bastard! Get away from me!"

Slowly, he nodded. Silently, he grabbed his duffel bag from under the bed, unzipped it. He opened some drawers, pulled out a few garments of clothing. He walked into the bathroom, gathered a few toiletries, and tossed them into the bag on top of the clothes. Zipping up the bag, he swung it over his shoulder. He was halfway to the door when he turned back to face her.

"But just remember, Jean, exactly what it was you asked for this time." Without another word, he turned and left.

Jean just stared at the empty doorway through her tears. A jagged sob escaped her lips.

She could hear Jubilee's agitated, tear-filled voice coming from the hallway. "Please, Scott, don't leave."

"I'm sorry, Jubilee, but I can't stay here right now."

"Please, Scott, I know we can work this out. If you just stay, we can all just talk about it--"

"I've tried that already, Jubilee. There's nothing left to say. I'm sorry."

"Scott, please!" Jubilee wailed. "Don't go! Please don't go!"

Sounds of sobbing, more of Jubilee's pleading, then of the front door slamming.

Soon thereafter, Jubilee came into the bedroom, her face soaked with tears. "He's gone," she moaned. "Scott's gone."

"I know," Jean whispered, sniffling.

"How could you just let him go?"

"I couldn't stop him."

"Bullshit! I heard you shouting at him to leave. You told him to go."

The venom in Jubilee's voice caught Jean off-guard. She took an involuntary step backwards. "I . . . I. . . ."

"Don't deny it, Jean. I heard it myself. You told him to get out. Scott is gone, and it's all your fault! You guys are the closest I've ever come to having a real family, and now you've gone and ruined it. I hope you're happy now!"

"No . . . I didn't mean to. . . ." Jean reached toward her.

"No," Jubilee said, shaking her head as she took a step back. "I-I can't stay here now. Not anymore."

"Jubilee, please."

"I've gotta get out of here." Without looking back, Jubilee fled from the room.

"Jubilee!" Jean called. "Please come back! Please don't leave! Don't leave me alone!"

Jean fell to her knees, sobbing. Somehow, she had managed to push away those who meant the most to her. And now she was alone. Terribly, terribly alone. And she had no one to blame but herself.

She slid onto the floor, burying her face in her arms, and cried. She wept despairingly, until she had no more tears. By then she was so exhausted emotionally that she fell into fitful slumber. But even there she could find no respite, for the nightmares assailed her relentlessly. For Jean Summers, it felt as though she would never know peace again.

Chapter 18

Jubilee sat on the cushioned seat by one of the mansion's bay windows, hugging her knees to her chest, staring out at the bleary day. The sky was filled with gray clouds, the sun nowhere to be seen. A light, misty rain fell constantly, as it had for the past couple of days. It looked miserable outside. The weather mimicked her mood perfectly. Sighing, she rested her chin on her knees.

She did not move when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching her. It was not until a voice spoke her name that she shifted her body; even then, it was a mere turn of the head.

"Phone, kiddo," Logan said, holding out the cordless.

"For me?" Jubilee asked.

"Yep. Here ya go." As soon as he handed her the phone, Logan retreated.

"Hello?" Jubilee spoke into the receiver.

"Hey, Lee! You're a tough gal to track down."

Jubilee could not help but smile at the sound of the familiar perky voice. "Paige?"

"Yeah, it's me. I've been trying to reach you all day, but there's been no answer at the Summers' house. I finally decided to try the mansion."

"Oh, sorry 'bout that. I've been staying over here the past couple days."

"Really? How come?"

"Things have been a bit . . . intense lately. Jean seemed like she needed some space."

"You sound really down, Jubes. Wanna talk about it?"

"I don't even know where to start, Hayseed. . . ."

"Take your time. I'm not going anywhere."

Jubilee sighed. Even though she had very few memories of Paige other than after her accident, she nonetheless had a good sense of the well intentions of her former school roommate. From what Jubilee could gleam from talking with her old classmates, she and Paige had been reluctant friends. It didn't take much to peg Paige Guthrie as your classic overachiever and perpetual do-gooder. A typical Cyclops mentality. Which would help explain why there had been tension between an uptight girl like Paige and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kid like Jubilee. Nonetheless, Paige seemed determined for them to re-build that relationship. Whether it be to aid in the process of Jubilee recovering her memory or to fulfill Paige's sense of civic duty to do her part in easing Jubilee's convalescence, she did not know. But the fact remained that Paige made it a point to call her at least once a week to shoot the breeze. Truth to tell, with no preconceived notions because of her lack of memories of their interactions, Jubilee had been enjoying their chats immensely. It was actually really great to have someone her own age in which she could confide. And right now, she could really use someone to talk to about all that had happened.

"Well," Jubilee began, trying to decide the best place to start, "Scott an' Jean . . . they've been having some problems lately."

"I sorta gathered that from when Cyclops came to teach here. He tried to put up a strong front, but underneath, it wasn't too hard to tell he was upset. So, they've been at odds?"

"Yeah. Thing is, for as long as I've known 'em, Scott an' Jean have seemed so happy. They never used to so much as raise their voices around one another. But lately. . . ." She could not stop a shiver from running through her.

"Bad, huh? I remember when my momma and daddy used to fight. We kids used to huddle together in bed, trying to ignore it. But you never could. It's scary--even when you're old enough to know what it is they're really fighting about."

"I thought things were gettin' better, 'cause the last time Scott called home, Jean was finally willing to talk to him. Before that, she had refused every time. I don't know exactly what they said, but afterwards, she told me that he was comin' home. She was so excited. We both were. But before he ever arrived, things took a horrible turn for the worst. . . ."

"What happened?"

"The next day, I went about my routine as usual. Had my workout with Wolvie. He even told me that we could cut 'em down to every-other-day. I was so psyched. But when Jean came to pick me up an' walk me home, she looked terrible. I'd never seen her look so bad. Anyway, we went home, an' she went to lie down. I made myself lunch, watched some TV. I was in the kitchen, cleaning up, when she called to me for help. She had staggered into the kitchen, doubled over in pain, face white as a sheet. An' the blood. There was so much blood. . . !" Jubilee paused, swallowing at the lump in the back of her throat. The memory of that horrible afternoon filled her with such fear, such sadness. It was almost more than she could bear.

"Oh mah God! What happened? Is she okay?"

"Long story short, Jean had a miscarriage."

Paige gasped. "Oh, how terrible. Oh, poor Jean. Poor Scott. I'm so sorry, Jubes. That's just awful."

"I've never been so scared in all my life. I ran back to the mansion, got help. But by then, it was too late. They couldn't save the baby."

"Gosh, I-I didn't even know Jean was pregnant."

"Almost nobody did. She had only told me the day before, an' that was only 'cause I found her puking her guts out. Even Scott didn't know."

"What? You mean, he only found out *after*. . . ."

"Uh huh. So you can imagine how that didn't go over too well with him."

"Oh, sweet Jesus. No wonder they're fightin'. Did she purposely not tell him?"

"No, she planned to tell him when he came home. Guess she wanted to do it in person. Only, she never got the chance."

"Oh gosh. I can see why you're so depressed, Jubilee. That's a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through. And to be caught right in the middle. . . . I just want you to know that I'm here for you. Whenever you need to talk--day or night, no matter what the hour--you give me a call. Y'hear?"

"Thanks, Hayseed. I appreciate it."

"So, you're staying at the mansion, Jean's at the house. Where's Scott?"

"He's here at the mansion, too. That's the kicker. A few nights ago, they had another big blow up. The biggest ever. An' she told him to get out."

"No way! Geez, this *is* serious."

"I-I'm just afraid that this may be it. That it might be over between them." She paused, sniffling. The next words were spoken as little more than a whisper. "An' it's all my fault."

"Your fault? How can any of this be your fault? Every couple has problems."

"But they were doin' just fine till I came to stay with them. That's when all the trouble began. The tension, the distance. The first big fight happened after a weekend Jean was away, an' Scott was watchin' me. I had a seizure--"

"What? Omigosh! Are you okay, Jubilee?"

"I'm fine. It was no big deal. Hank said it was probably an after-effect of my head injury. I was so glad that Scott was there with me when it happened. It was scary, losing control like that. Your body doin' stuff you're not tellin' it to. But he held me, stayed with me through it all. He took care of me, made me feel safe. Just like . . . like. . . ."

"Like a dad?"

Jubilee blinked, felt the tears fall. "Yeah. Just like a real dad. It's funny, 'cause before that weekend, we had hardly spent any time together. I always thought Scott was kinda . . . I don't know . . . boring. Square. But the truth is, he's a pretty cool guy once you get to know him.

"Anyway, when Jean found out what happened to me, she went ballistic. Sorta lioness-protecting-her-cubs mode. An' she let Scott have it. Blamed him for what happened to me. Not that it was in any way his fault. It just happened. After that, things stayed pretty tense. Jean refused to talk to Scott, to even acknowledge his presence. I think that got to be too much for him to take. So he went to Massachusetts, to teach you guys. I think it was just an excuse to get away for a while. Not that I blame him. An' it's not like he stopped caring, even then. He called every night, spoke to me to see how I was doin'. An' he always asked about Jean. But she refused to speak to him--every time but that last call. That's when they sorta made up, an' he told her he'd come home the next day. But then it was too late. . . ." Jubilee paused, taking a shuddery breath.

"So ya see, Hayseed, ever since I came to stay with them, it's like I've put a wedge in their marriage. Most of what they're fightin' about is me. It's my fault they're not gettin' along. It's my fault that Scott left. My fault that Jean lost the baby. . . ." A jagged sob escaped her lips.

"No, Jubes. Oh God, it's not your fault. You had nothing to do with that."

"'Course I did. They were fightin' about me. Jean was upset, an' stressed out, 'cause of all the tension over me. An' that stress affected the baby, an' made her lose it. It's all my fault. I might as well have killed it. I don't see how they can ever forgive me."

"Jubilation, you listen to me, and you listen good and hard. *You* did not break up Jean and Scott's marriage. You did not make them fight. And you sure as hell did not cause her miscarriage. These things happen more often than you'd think. My own mamma had three of 'em. It has nothing to do with what the woman does, or those around her do. It's just that sometimes, things don't go right when the baby's starting to grow. Something in the genetic structure gets screwed up. Something incompatible with life. And the woman's body senses this, and takes care of it. It knows that the baby can never be normal, so it terminates the pregnancy. It's still tragic, but it's part of life. Please, Jubilee . . . please, please, please don't blame yourself. There's nothing you could have done."

Paige listened to the sound of her friend sobbing quietly on the other end of the phone. Her own eyes welled with tears for the pain Jubilee was feeling. She wished more than anything that she could be there with her, to hold her and reassure her that she was not to blame.

"Jubes?" she called softly. "You still there, girlfriend?"

Jubilee sniffled, wiped her nose on her sleeve. "Y-Yeah. I'm here."

"I know how bad you feel, Jubes. I know how close you've gotten to Jean and Scott, especially these past couple of months. But you have to realize that all this stuff going down between them is not your fault. They've obviously got some major issues they need to work through. Stuff that has nothing to do with you. It has to do with them, their communication--or lack thereof. So, please, hon, don't blame yourself. Guilt is gonna get you nowhere. Nowhere at all."


"No buts about it, Lee. Trust me on this one. Okay?"

More sniffles. "I-I guess so."

"Don't guess. Know."

A pause. "Paige?"

"Yeah, Jubes?"


"No problem. That's what I'm here for, Jubes. Like I told you, whenever you need me. I'll always be there for you."

"You're the best, Hayseed, ya know that?"

"Hey, I've been trying to convince you of that for years now. Glad to hear you finally admit it."

Jubilee managed a small smile. "Gosh, I think I need to get outta here for a while. Clear my head."

"Where you gonna go?"

"Not sure yet. Just anywhere but here."

"Well, just be careful, 'kay? You're still getting your sea legs back."

"Yes, Momma."

Paige chuckled. "How 'bout I call you again tomorrow?"

"That'd be great, Paige. Thanks again. For thinkin' of me."

"I think about you all the time, Lee. You better be planning to get your butt back here in the fall."

"Plannin' on it, Hayseed. Can't leave you roomie-less forever, now can I?"

"So I'll talk to you tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow it is."

"All righty then. Take care, Lee. Chin up."

"Bye." Jubilee clicked off the phone. Placing it down on the seat beside her, she went to the bathroom to wash her face and blow her nose. By the time she was done, she had a good idea of where she was going and how she was going to get there. All she had to do was grab the necessary means of transportation.

Chapter 19

Ororo's heels clicked a sharp staccato beat on the hardwood floor as she strode purposefully down the hallway toward her destination. Approaching the room, she saw that the door was open. She stopped in the doorway and peered inside.

Logan sat on the floor cross-legged, his back to her. His elbows rested on his knees, his palms facing upward, each thumb lightly touching his fingertips. From his relaxed stance and his deep breathing, she had no doubt that his eyes were closed in meditation.

She hesitated. She had come to his room in search of him, to speak with him. But he did not look as though he wanted to be disturbed. She considered leaving, but then thought better of it. This was important. And yet, it could probably wait until he was done. . . .

"Ya gonna stand there all day, 'Ro, or are ya gonna come on in an' say whatever it is ya came here ta say?"

The sound of Logan's voice put an end to her mental debate. "I am sorry to interrupt you, Logan," she began, taking a hesitant step inside.

"'S'okay. I was just about done anyway." Lowering his arms, he got to his feet and turned to face her. "What can I do for ya?"

"I was wondering if you have seen Jubilation this morning. We were scheduled to have a lesson over an hour ago. I thought maybe she had forgotten and came to you for a workout session."

"Nope. Haven't seen her today. Not since yesterday afternoon, actually. An' believe me, darlin', she knows what days she does an' doesn't have ta exercise. Kid was never more excited than when I told her we could cut it down."

Ororo's brow furrowed as she crossed her arms across her chest. "This is very strange."

"Did you check her room?"

"Yes, it was the first place I looked for her, in case she had overslept. In fact, her bed did not look slept in. I am worried about her, Logan. The turmoil between Jean and Scott is affecting her deeply. She has been quite upset about the recent turn of events."

"We all are, 'Ro. Nobody expected stuff like this ta go down between Jeanie an' Cyke. Kid probably feels caught in the middle. It's just gonna take some time. . . ."

"I fear it may already be too late. . . ."

This time it was Logan who scowled. "What do ya mean by that?"

Ororo shook her head, as though berating herself. "Goddess, I have been so foolish. We all have. Since her miscarriage, we have all been deeply concerned about Jean--almost to the exclusion of the rest of her family. I spoke to Scott about such matters, realizing that his loss had somehow been forgotten. But I did not think to counsel Jubilee. . . ."

"She's a tough, kid. She's been through worse."

"But that is not the point, Logan. Even after her accident--when she was faced with paralysis and amnesia--she did not have to endure alone. But now, she and her feelings have been completely ignored. I only pray that irreparable harm has not occurred."

"Come on, now, 'Ro. I'm sure the kid is fine. She probably went somewhere ta think, ta get away from the gloom an' doom around this place. Or maybe she went ta go see Scott or Jean, ta talk ta one of them. Have you tried askin' them if they've seen her?" "No, not yet. But that is a good idea. I shall go do so immediately. Have you seen Scott this morning?"

"Last time I saw him, he was headed fer the gym."

Ororo nodded. "I shall look for him there." She turned on her heel.

"Hey, 'Ro!" Logan called after her.

She turned back. "Yes?"

"Lemme know when ya find her, okay?"

"Of course." With a nod, Ororo strode once more down the corridor, toward her new destination.

A few minutes later, she walked into the gym. Scott was its lone occupant. He lay on a bench at the far end of the room, bench-pressing a barbell. As Ororo approached, she saw that it was well in excess of a hundred and fifty pounds. This was no light workout.

"Good morning, Scott," she said, stopping a couple of feet from his head.

"Ororo," he grunted, pushing the weight above his chest. "What's up?"

"I was wondering if you had spoken to Jubilation this morning."

"Nope," he huffed, lowering the weight.

"Do you remember when the last time you spoke to her was?"

For a moment he did not reply as he concentrated on lifting the weight again. "Not sure," he replied finally. "Been a while."

"Define 'a while'."

"Hold on . . . a sec." Lowering the weight to mere inches above his chest, Scott proceeded to do two more reps before finally returning the bar to its rack. Shaking out his hands, he sat up, and looked up at Ororo. "The last time I spoke with Jubilee? It's probably been a couple of days. Honestly, Ororo, I've been keeping to myself. I haven't felt like the most social person lately." He got up, walked to a table and picked up a bottle of water. He proceeded to down over half of its contents in several large gulps. "But what's with the twenty questions? Is Jubilee all right?"

Ororo found herself somehow relieved to see that Scott was not so far withdrawn that he did not still care about Jubilee. At least his heart had not hardened that much.

"Right now, it appears that she is missing. She never showed for our morning lesson, and no one seems to have seen her today."

"Maybe she just forgot about the lesson. She's probably got a lot on her mind lately--like the rest of us. Or she could have just decided to skip it. That wouldn't surprise me either."

"But for no one to have seen her? Her bed did not even appear to have been slept in."

"She could have gotten up early. Or fallen asleep somewhere else. I'm sure she'll show up. She probably just decided to find some private place to think. I wouldn't go jumping to conclusions just yet."

"I suppose. . . ."

"Just give her a little time, Ororo. I'm gonna go hit the showers. I'll catch you later." He was halfway to the locker room when he turned back to face her. "Have you tried the house?" he called.

She shook her head.

"Maybe she decided to go back and stay with Jean." With that, he turned and disappeared through the locker room door.

*Goddess, am I the only one who is worried about the girl?* Ororo wondered.

Deciding to follow Scott's advice and pay Jean a visit as her home, Ororo exited the gym and headed down the sub-basement corridor, toward the elevator.

As she approached the doorway to the medi-lab and Hank's office, Hank emerged, talking in low tones to Jean, who walked beside him. They stopped, and he turned to face her, taking her comparatively small hands in his large, furry ones. He said something to her, and she nodded, attempting a small smile.

Hearing Ororo's approach, Hank looked up and grinned in greeting. "Good morning, Ororo. How art thou this fine morning?"

"I am fine, Hank. And yourself?"

"Quite well, thank you."

"Good morning, Jean. How are you feeling?"

"Better, thanks. I just had a check-up with Hank, actually. And he seconded the notion."

"That is good to hear, my friend. Actually, I was just on my way to pay you a visit."

"Oh? Is everything all right, Ororo? You seem . . . troubled."

"I am a little worried actually."

"Is there anything we can do to ease your distress?" Hank asked.

"Well, have either or you seen Jubilee this morning?"

"No," Hank replied, even as Jean shook her head.

"Jean, when was the last time you saw her?"

"Not since she moved out of the house." Biting her lip, Jean lowered her head, unable to look Ororo in the eyes. "We, uhm, didn't exactly part on the friendliest of terms."

Hank put a reassuring hand on Jean's shoulder. "Why do you ask, Ororo? Is something the matter with young Jubilation?"

"I am not sure. She and I were to have a lesson this morning, but Jubilee did not arrive. I have not been able to locate her anywhere in the mansion. No one seems to know anything about her whereabouts. Neither Logan nor Scott has seen her. I am afraid she might have run away."

"Run away? Why on earth would she have run away?" Jean asked.

"Well, as we are all no doubt aware, these have not been the most pleasant of times for everyone. And I think she has been quite troubled by recent events."

"*I* am deeply troubled by recent events, Ororo, but you don't see me running away," Jean remarked coldly.

It was clear to Ororo that the comment was probably meant to be directed at Jean's husband. "Yes, Jean, but you are not a child who has suddenly been effectively abandoned by bickering foster parents in the face of a tragedy from which you are not completely immune."

Jean finally met Ororo's eyes, a stricken look on her face. "Are you saying this is my fault?"

"I am not blaming you, Jean. You did not purposely--"

"Damn it, Ororo, I just lost my baby, and my husband left me. I can barely muster the strength to get out of bed in the morning. You can't expect me to hold her hand. . . ." Jean's voice caught, and she bit her lip, even as she averted her eyes.

"Jeanie, no one is accusing you of anything," Hank said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "I think all Ororo is trying to say is that perhaps you two could have comforted one another, helped one another through this loss."

"So it's not enough that I'm a terrible wife and a terrible foster mother, but now I can't even grieve correctly? God, I'm just a failure as a human being!" With that, Jean burst into tears.

"Jean, I did not mean to sound reproving," Ororo said, taking her friend into her arms. "We are all to blame for not realizing Jubilee's pain. Goddess knows you have enough to deal with right now. This is not your fault." She continued to hold Jean, gently rubbing her back.

"I-I'm sorry, Ororo," Jean stammered, pulling back and swiping at her cheeks with the back of her hands. "I didn't mean to snap at you."

"No need to apologize, Jean. You have done nothing wrong."

"Obviously I've been neglecting my foster daughter," Jean replied, her voice steadying as she managed to rein in her emotions.

"Not purposely. You cannot help her without first helping yourself."

"Well, I think it's time I started paying more attention to her. So, when was the last time someone saw her?"

"Logan saw her yesterday aftern--"

"'Ro!" The sound of Logan's shouts preceded him by several seconds. He sprinted down the corridor, and came to a stop in front of the trio.

"Logan, have you heard from Jubilee?"

"Nah," he said, shaking his head. "But Paige just called. She spoke to Jubilee yesterday afternoon. She was callin' back, 'cause she was concerned after their conversation yesterday."

"Why? What did they talk about?" Hank asked.

Logan hesitated, eying Jean warily.

This look was not lost on Jean. "Out with it, Logan!" she snapped. "We don't have all day."

"Paige said Jubilee told her she felt she was to blame."

"To blame?" Ororo asked, brow furrowed. "For what?"

Again, Logan faltered. "For all the fightin' goin' on, between Scott an' Jeanie. An'. . . ." But he could not bring himself to say it.

"She thinks the miscarriage was her fault?" Jean asked. But she already knew the answer.

The others looked at her, sorrowful expressions on their own faces. It made them feel even worse to see Jean's pale face, her shining eyes, her trembling mouth.

"But why on earth would Jubilation blame herself?" Hank asked.

"Accordin' to Paige, Jubilee thinks all the fightin' has been 'cause of her. An' somehow, she thinks stress over the fightin' an' whatnot led to . . . well, was to blame."

"That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!" Hank spat, shaking his head.

"Oh God," Jean whispered. "How could I not have seen it? She must have been in anguish, and I didn't even notice. . . ."

"None of us did, Jeanie," Logan replied. "We were all livin' with her, an' none of us could see it. We all share the blame."

"The question is what can we do to rectify the situation," Hank said.

"We must find her, speak to her, reassure her," Ororo replied. "Jean, do you think you can do a psi-scan to try to locate her?"

Jean nodded. "I'll do one right now." Sniffling, she took a deep breath before closing her eyes and bringing her hands to her temples. For several long moments, she concentrated as her mind swept out, scanning the vicinity. Soon, she lowered her hands and opened her eyes. "Nothing. She's not anywhere on the mansion grounds. Further than that, I can't tell. There are too many people in Salem Center alone to get a definite fix on her."

"Now what?" Hank asked.

"Now we go look for her," Jean replied.

"Where on earth could Jubilee have gone?" Hank wondered. "How do we even know where to look?"

"We should search her room--both here, and at the house," Ororo suggested. "Perhaps we can find some sort of clue as to where she was headed."

"Paige said Jubilee indicated she wanted to get away from the mansion for a while. Somewhere to clear her head. The question is where that place would be."

"I don't know," Jean said, shaking her head. "She's been recuperating for so long, walking somewhere hasn't really been an option."

"But the kid can't drive. How else could she get around?"


The quartet started at the sound of Scott's voice reverberating in the metal corridor. They all watched as he walked briskly toward them, freshly changed, hair still damp from his recent shower.

"Would she even be capable of roller blading?" Ororo wondered. "Physically, I mean."

"Probably," Hank replied. "She was ambulating sufficiently well without even the aid of a cane. That was more of a crutch for when she became fatigued at the end of a day."

"But Jubilee never brought her skates when she came to stay with us," Jean pointed out. "There was no need."

"She got a pair," Scott explained.

Jean glared at him. "What? When?"

"The weekend you and Ororo went to the spa. Don't you remember, Jean? I took her shopping for a pair."

Jean rolled her eyes. "Wonderful. You provided her with the means to run away! Didn't I say that I didn't think she was ready--"

"Enough!" Ororo bellowed. "Bickering amongst ourselves will not help us locate her. We must put our personal differences aside and work together if we are to find her. Are we agreed?"

Reluctantly, Scott muttered "Yes," even as Jean crossed her arms and nodded her head.

"Good. Now, we have established that Jubilee may have had the opportunity to get away. What we need to determine is if she took advantage of that opportunity. Scott, do you know where Jubilee kept the skates?"

"Yeah. We put the blades, helmet, and other equipment in the back of her closet."

"Can you go check and see if they are still there?"

He nodded.

"I'll go with ya," Logan told him.

"Jean and I shall search Jubilee's room here and see if we can find any other indication of where she may have gone," Ororo said, taking charge. "Henry, can you see who else is present in the mansion, and if they are able to help us conduct a search of the nearby area?"

"Of course."

"All right. Let us all reconvene in the parlor in twenty minutes to decide upon our next course of action."

With that, they all hurried to complete their designated tasks with a deep sense of urgency.

Chapter 20

Staring out the passenger-side window, Jean sighed in frustration. She felt that she should be doing more. It had been over four hours since they had split up to begin the search for Jubilee. Hank had found only Remy, Rogue, and Bobby in the mansion to help out with the cause. Storm and Rogue had taken to the skies, making ever-widening circles beginning with the Salem Center area, and expanding to Westchester proper. Bobby and Remy had headed down Graymalkin Lane in the direction of town. Once there, they planned to canvas the area store by store, hoping that between Remy's charm and the trustworthiness of Bobby's boyish good looks, people might be sympathetic enough to the cause to take the time to remember if they had seen Jubilee. Hank remained at the mansion, in case Jubilee called or showed up. While there, he intended to contact local hospitals and shelters to see if anyone matching Jubilee's description had shown up within the past twenty-four hours.

That left Jean and Scott to take Graymalkin Lane headed in the opposite direction of Remy and Bobby. They were searching the road visually--as well as stopping at any store or house they passed; Jean was also conducting a psi-scan as they drove. What she had really wanted to do was travel under her own power; she could go faster, and she would not be forced to be in such close vicinity to Scott for such an extended period of time. Unfortunately, Hank had been the first to nix that idea, insisting that she still needed to take it somewhat easy during her recuperation. She could tell that even with the tension between them, Scott was glad to be able to keep an eye on her during their search. Damn him, why couldn't he be more upset with her? It would make being angry with him that much easier.

Closing her eyes, Jean pinched the bridge of her nose. She felt a headache developing, right behind her eyes. What she wouldn't give for a couple of Advil right about now. That, and a nap.

"You okay?" she heard Scott ask. There was concern--tenderness even--in his voice.

"Fine," she murmured, opening her eyes. She spared a glance in his direction, saw him doing the same. For a moment, he reached toward her with his right hand, intent on touching her, no doubt. But he caught himself, returned the hand to the wheel. He gazed out at the road again.

"No sign of her?" he asked.

"None." She sighed again. "We're almost ten miles from the mansion, Scott. How could she have gotten this far?"

"With almost a day's head start, she could probably get twice as far blading."

"But with her injuries--"

"Jean, Jubilee has been walking unaided for almost two weeks. Her balance has been fine. I'm sure blading is like riding a bike--it'd come back to her naturally. She could probably be in New York City by now."

"Don't even joke about that. We might never find her. . . ." Blinking, Jean turned her head away even further, staring out at the side of the road.

This time, she did feel Scott's hand on her knee. He gave it a gentle squeeze. "We'll find her, Jean." There was not a shred of doubt in his voice.

Jean could still not bring herself to look at him. Biting her bottom lip, she dared not speak. She merely nodded her head in agreement.

They continued on in silence.

"Looks like we're coming up on a gas station," Scott said a few minutes later.

"Can we stop? I need to use the rest room."

Scott pulled up in front of the small grocery store. Jean got out of the car, heading for the bathroom. Scott, too, got out of the car to stretch his legs. Glancing inside the store, he saw a young man minding the cash register.

*Leave no stone unturned,* Scott thought, heading inside. He walked over to the cashier.

"Can I help you, sir?" the kid asked.

"I hope so. I was wondering if you've seen a girl pass through here yesterday or today," Scott said, pulling out a photograph and handing it to the kid. "Sixteen, Asian, short black hair, about five-three, probably wearing a pair of roller blades."

The young man shook his head as he handed Scott back the picture. "Nope, sorry. You might wanna ask Betty," he suggested, pointing toward the back, where a middle-aged woman stood behind a small deli counter. "She was workin' most of yesterday."

"Thanks." Scott walked to the back of the store.

"Afternoon," Betty said with a smile. "What can I get'cha?"

"I was hoping you may have seen this girl pass through here," Scott said, holding out the photograph as he described Jubilee once more.

"Lemme put on m'glasses," Betty said, pulling them on from where they hung around her neck. She took the photo from him and studied it carefully. "Nope, she don't look familiar. Sorry. Pretty gal, though," she said, handing the photo back. "She gone missin'?"

Scott nodded. "For almost a day. My wife and I have been looking for her."

"You mean that pretty redhead who came in right before you to use the facilities?"

"Yes, that's her."

"You two look awful young to have a teenaged kid."

"She's our foster daughter."

Betty nodded knowingly. "Well, I hope you find her."

"Thanks." He started to turn to leave.

"Can I get'cha somethin' for the road?"

Scott hesitated. Turning back, he peered into the deli counter, considering.

A short time later, he returned to the car, a small bag in tow. Jean was already waiting.

"They haven't seen her," Scott said, putting the bag on the seat between them.

"What's that?" Jean asked as she fastened her seat belt.

"I figured you hadn't eaten since this morning, so I got you a sandwich," he replied, pulling out what looked like a hero. "Hope turkey's okay. I got you a tea, too," he said, putting the cardboard container in the cup holder. "Oh, and some Advil for your headache," he said, handing her a small foil package.

Jean looked at him in amazement. "Did you get anything?"

"A bottle of water," Scott replied, removing it from the bag and taking a swig.

"What about to eat?"

"I'm fine," he replied, fastening his own seat belt and starting the car.

Jean looked down at the sandwich in her lap. "Scott, I'll never be able to eat all this. Why don't we split it?"

"That's okay, Jean. You have it." He pulled the car back out of the space and drove back onto the road.

"Don't be silly. I'm not the only one who hasn't eaten since this morning. You won't do Jubilee any good if you start hallucinating with hunger."

He smiled at that. "All right."

"Good." She put her half on the paper bag, and placed the other half next to him. "Can you reach okay?"

"Yeah, that's fine." As he reached for the sandwich, his hand grazed hers. He glanced over at Jean, and she graced him with a small smile.

"Thanks, Scott."

"No problem," he said, returning the smile. Well, it was a start.


As dusk approached, Jean felt her hope sink. They had called Hank an hour earlier. Ororo and Rogue had already returned to the mansion, exhausted, their search fruitless. Bobby and Remy had likewise turned up nothing; at the time, they still had a handful of buildings to canvas. They would probably be back by now. Hank, too, had learned nothing.

Jean leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes, exhausted. "How much longer do you want to continue?" she asked Scott.

"It's up to you, Jean. I'll keep at it as long as you want to."

Eyes still closed, Jean smiled. "How about another half hour?"

"That sounds--what the hell?"

Jean sensed Scott's surprise a moment before his exclamation. Opening her eyes, she looked out at the road. In the distance, they could see flashing red and blue lights. There must have been an accident.

Slowing down, Scott drove until he reached a makeshift barricade of police cars. Several yards ahead of them, they could make out two more police cars, as well as an ambulance. On the side of the road, a sedan had evidently plowed headfirst into a tree, totaling the car.

"Looks bad," Scott remarked, staring out at the carnage. "I wonder if--"

The slamming of the car door cut off his words. Scott turned and watched in surprise as Jean started jogging toward the accident scene. He quickly unfastened his seat belt and opened his own door. "Jean?" he called to her. "Jean!"

But Jean was not listening. She had a single-minded goal at that moment: to reach the car wreck and see it with her own eyes. As they had approached, she had gotten a sense of something--like a psychic fingerprint left behind. She only hoped she were wrong. Jean ducked under the yellow police line tape. A cop approached her, but with a wave of her hand, she pushed him aside telekinetically. She did not have time for distractions.

On the asphalt, she saw tire tracks, leading toward the tree. There were also smaller skid marks--like those made by a bike. Or skates. They led in the opposite direction, toward the metal divider. And they ended in a pool of blood.

"Ma'am, what are you doing here? This is a crime scene."

Jean ignored the burly police officer, instead focusing on the blood. And something beside it. Something glittering in the flashing police lights.

"Ma'am? I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."

Jean walked slowly towards the blood and mystery object. The cop quickly gave chase.

Bending down, Jean saw a gold necklace. On it was a pendant. A script 'J' with a tiny diamond in the center. Jean stared at it in disbelief, blinking back tears.

Jean reached for the necklace, took the thin chain in her fingers.

"What the hell are you doing?" the cop shouted, grabbing Jean's arm. "That's evidence. Don't touch it. Really, ma'am, you're gonna have to leave now." He roughly hoisted her to her feet.

"Jean!" Scott shouted, approaching her, two more cops on his tail. "Jean, what's going on?"

Jean stared up at Scott, mouth trembling.

"Jean? Honey, you've gone white as a sheet," Scott said, walking closer and taking her by the shoulders. "What's wrong?"

Silently, Jean held up her hand. The chain dangled from her fingers.

At first, Scott stared down at the necklace, brow furrowed in confusion. But then he caught sight of the familiar pendant. He reached for it, let it fall against his palm so that he could get a better look. "Oh God," he gasped, his heart in his throat.

"Sir, if you two don't cease and desist immediately, I will be forced to have you both arrested."

"You- you don't understand, officer," Scott rasped, his voice sounding like sandpaper in his own ears. "That necklace . . . it belongs to our foster daughter."

The cop's eyes widened. "You sure 'bout that?"

Jean nodded. "We gave it to her a couple of months ago."

At that moment, two EMS workers were headed toward the ambulance, wheeling a gurney between them. The body on it was covered by a bloodstained sheet.

"Dear God, no!" Jean gasped, hand flying to her mouth.

Scott took a step toward her, his hand reaching for her back to steady her.

Without another word, Jean headed toward the stretcher. After a few strides, she broke into a run. "Wait!" she called to them.

Confused, the paramedics stopped and turned to look at Jean.

Approaching the body, Jean swallowed, summoning her courage. With a shaky hand, she reached for the sheet.

"Jean!" Scott called, hurrying toward her.

Before the paramedics could say or do anything, Jean pulled back the sheet, revealing the face of the victim.

The right side of the head was caked with blood, and the skull looked somewhat sunken. The nose appeared broken, pushed to the side in an unnatural position. But despite these disfiguring injuries, the blonde-haired face was distinctly male.

Jean took an unsteady step backwards, and fell to her knees before anyone could react. A moment later, Scott was beside her, holding her.

"It's not her," Jean gasped, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Scott looked over her shoulder at the corpse. He could not help but sigh in relief.

"It's not her," Jean sobbed. "Oh, Scott, it's not her."

"I know," Scott replied, tucking her head under his chin and resting his cheek on her hair.

"That was the driver." Scott looked up to see the cop who had just questioned them about the necklace. The officer gestured to the paramedics, and they covered the corpse before proceeding to load it into the ambulance. "Won't know for sure till the blood work comes back, but from the empty beer cans in the back seat, we suspect he was DUI."

"What about Jubilee?" Scott asked him, even as he continued to hold Jean, whose sobs were finally beginning to subside. "What about our foster daughter?"

"Looks like she was skating down the road when the car struck her. From the marks, don't look like it was going too fast at the time. Probably started braking, or turned to try to avoid hitting her, when it impacted. In either case, she got thrown across the highway, while the car hit the tree. Driver was killed instantly."

"And Jubilee?" Scott prompted, growing annoyed. "What happened to her? Is she all right?"

"Banged up a bit. Big cut on her head, bleeding like the dickens. But head wounds tend to do that. Probably got a concussion, too. She was unconscious when they took her to the hospital."

"So she's alive?"


"Thank God," Scott sighed, offering a silent prayer. "What hospital was she taken to?"

Chapter 21

Jean and Scott sat in a lounge at the Mid-County Medical Center, waiting for Jubilee's physician to come speak to them. Apparently, the doctor wanted to brief them before they would be permitted to see her.

"She'll be right with you," a nurse had told them, not unsympathetically. "Dr. Foxx is just finishing up with another patient." That was over twenty minutes ago, and with each passing minute, their apprehension was growing by leaps and bounds.

They sat side-by-side, clasping each other's hands tightly, as they waited. They said nothing. The silence was occasionally punctuated by Jean's sniffles, which prompted Scott to give her hand an encouraging squeeze.

"I think I'm going to go speak to the nurse again," Scott said finally, starting to rise.

"Scott--wait," Jean called, tugging on his hand. She inclined her head toward the doorway.

Scott followed her gaze. A thirty-ish woman in green scrubs and a white labcoat was walking toward them.

"Mr. and Mrs. Summers?" she asked as she approached.

"Yes," Jean replied, rising to stand beside Scott.

"I'm Dr. Foxx," she said, shaking each of their hands in turn. "So you two are Jubilee's foster parents?"

They nodded. "Doctor, how is she?" Scott asked.

"She's doing all right. Please, why don't we sit down?" she suggested, indicating the chairs. Scott and Jean resumed their seats, while the doctor pulled a chair over so that she could sit facing them. "I've worked in the ER a number of years, and let me tell you, it was a damned good thing that she was wearing a helmet. Her injuries are relatively minor. Jubilee's got a rather large laceration running down her temple and onto her cheek, which required a number of stitches. She suffered a mild concussion, and was unconscious for a short while before arriving at the hospital. In addition, her hands were scraped up pretty badly--probably from when she tried to break her fall. Other than that, no other injuries. She is one lucky young woman."

"Oh, thank God." Jean fought back tears of relief. "So, she's awake? Can we see her?"

"Of course. First, though, I wanted to ask you about something."

Jean's brow furrowed. She felt Scott's grip on her hand tighten.

"What is it, Doctor?" Scott asked.

"How long has Jubilee been staying with you?"

"Almost two-and-a-half months," Jean replied.

"Has she recently sustained other injuries?"

Jean nodded. "Shortly before we took her in, she had been kidnapped and beaten. She had a serious head injury, which required several operations. Broken ribs, a fractured wrist. She was comatose for a few days. When she awoke, she had amnesia and was temporarily paralyzed."

"Oh my." Dr. Foxx's eyes widened.

For a moment, both Jean and Scott were worried that the doctor would question them further, and that they would have to concoct a more mundane explanation for the true nature of Jubilee's attack. It did not take them long to realize, however, that while she was obviously surprised by the cause of Jubilee's previous trauma, Dr. Foxx was not especially shocked by the news. Glancing at the physician's face, Jean realized that her eyes seemed much older than her years. Lord only knew what horrors she had seen first-hand. Her unflappable demeanor was undoubtedly the consequence of witnessing countless injuries like those that had befallen Jubilee during her years working in a hospital emergency room. Not completely unlike the X-Men, she was privy to knowledge of some of the worst things of which humanity was capable. But while mutants such as Jean usually fought battles from the forefront, these doctors were left to pick up the pieces and deal with the damage left behind.

"But Jubilee has obviously managed a dramatic recovery," Dr. Foxx was saying, "if she was injured while roller blading."

"My wife and I work at the Xavier Institute, over on Graymalkin Lane," Scott explained. "Jubilee is being cared for by the doctor on staff. We've been utilizing the facilities there to help her recuperate. Physical therapy, and the like."

Dr. Foxx nodded. "All right. It's beginning to make a little more sense."

"What is?" Jean asked. "Doctor, is something wrong? Is there something you're not telling us?"

"It's just that when we asked her if she knew her phone number--to test her mental clarity--she gave us a 617 number. And when we asked her for her address, she told us of a different school. Also Xavier's, but a School for Gifted Youngsters. In Massachusetts."

"That's the school she attended before her injuries," Scott explained. "Because of the amnesia, she didn't remember going there."

"Dr. Foxx, are you saying . . . does Jubilee remember her time at the school in Massachusetts?" Jean felt her hope rising.

"Apparently. When we asked her whom we should contact, she said Mr. Cassidy--insisting that it not be Miss Frost. She did not mention either of you. Although, when we mentioned your names, she knew exactly who you were. Once she started talking about you, it seemed like things were starting to come back to her--albeit a bit vaguely. I suspect she'll recall more recent memories more clearly after she's rested."

"Oh my God," Jean gasped, and this time she could not prevent the tears from falling. "Scott, did you hear that? She's gotten her memory back. She remembers." She turned to face him, saw her own joy and relief echoed on his face. She reached for him, and he pulled her into a tight embrace.

Smiling, Dr. Foxx sat silently, allowing the couple a moment to rejoice for the good news that had come out of this near-tragedy.

Finally, Jean pulled back. Looking at Scott, she could not help but smile. He returned the gesture, reaching to gently dry her cheeks.

"So, Dr. Foxx, can we see her?" he asked.

"Of course," she said, rising. "I'll take you to her now, if you'd like."

Scott also rose, holding out his hand to Jean. She took it and got up. Still holding hands, they followed Dr. Foxx into a small room just off of the main emergency room.

"She's in the far bed, by the window," Dr. Foxx told them. "We're going to have her transferred to a room upstairs. We'd like to keep her overnight, for observation."

"Thank you, Doctor," Scott told her.

Dr. Foxx smiled. "I'll talk to you more later." With a final nod, she took her leave.

As Jean and Scott approached, they saw that both of Jubilee's hands were bandaged, as was the left side of her face--forehead to cheek. She looked pale and tired, but otherwise none too the worse for wear.

At the sound of their approach, she slowly turned her face toward them. Catching sight of the familiar couple, Jubilee's eyes immediately lit up, and her face broke into an enormous grin. "Jean, Scott," she called, her voice weak. "Hey there."

"Hi, sweetie," Jean said softly, as she walked up to the bed. She gazed down at the girl tenderly. She slowly reached toward her, gently caressed her uninjured cheek. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I was hit by a Mac truck," she replied with a wry grin.

"Luckily, it was only a small sedan," Scott deadpanned.

Jubilee smirked.

"Do you remember what happened?" Jean asked.

"Bits an' pieces." Jubilee closed her eyes a moment, as though searching her mind for the memories. "I remember bladin'. The sun was startin' to set. All of a sudden, I heard a car horn blarin'. I glanced over my shoulder, saw a car headin' straight toward me. I tried to veer off, to the other side of the road. There was the screech of brakes, then the car started to skid. Before I even knew what was happenin', I was knocked offa my feet. I was headin' across the road. I threw out my hands, tryin' to stop, but I went slidin'. Then everythin' went black. When I woke up, there were these doctor-types, pokin' an' proddin' me."

Jean gently sat down on the edge of the bed. "You're lucky to be alive, sweetie."

"Yeah, I know. Guess it was a good thing you insisted on me gettin' all that gear, huh, Scott?"

He smiled. "I'll say."

"So you remember staying with us all these weeks?" Jean asked her.

"Yeah. It's comin' back now. I think I was a bit confused when I first woke up."

"And you also recall your time with Generation X?" Scott questioned.

"Uh huh. That's clearer than it's been since what Tessa did to me."

"You remember that too?" Jean asked, concerned.

Jubilee took a shaky breath. "I know that she an' Shaw tortured me an' Ev. That's still kinda fuzzy too, but less so than it's been. Can't say that I mind forgettin' mosta that experience."

"That's great that you've gotten your memory back, kiddo," Scott told her. "Too bad it took another knock on the head to do it."

"I shoulda tried it sooner. That's how it always works in the movies."

"Just so long as this is the last injury you get for a long time," Jean said.

"Fine by me."

Smiling, Jean warmly clasped the girl's arm, afraid that touching her hand would cause her pain. "Jubilee . . . sweetie, do you remember why you ran away?"

She hesitated, nibbling on her lower lip. "I . . . I just . . . I needed to get away . . . from everythin' an' everybody. It was just too intense."

"I'm sorry if you felt caught in the middle," Scott told her. "You do know that all that was going on between Jean and me--the arguing, the shouting--had nothing to do with you."

Jubilee looked down at her bandaged hands. Her lower lip trembled. "But . . . you were fightin' about me."

"No, sweetie," Jean said, squeezing her arm. "We were fighting about us. The way I was treating Scott--"

"But I heard you, Jean. I heard both of you. You were arguin' about me--about how you stopped payin' as much attention to each other since I came to stay with you."

"That's not your fault, kiddo," Scott insisted.

"It's mine," Jean said. "The problems Scott and I have been having had to do with my behavior. I was pushing him away. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that it put a strain on our marriage."

"I'm sorry," Jubilee murmured. "I never meant to come between you."

"Oh, sweetie, you didn't."

"I *did*. I ruined everythin'. I nearly broke you up. And I-I. . . ." She broke into tears, unable to voice the words.

"What, Jubilee?" Jean asked gently. "What is it?"

"It's all my fault," she sobbed. "I never meant. . . ."

"Never meant what?" Scott asked, walking closer. "What do you think is your fault?"

"It was 'cause of me that . . . that . . . that Jean lost the baby," she finished, her voice barely a whisper. "Oh God, I'm so sorry. So sorry. . . ."

"Jubilee, look at me," Jean said firmly, taking the girl's face in her hands. When Jubilee tried to avert her eyes, Jean repeated, "Look at me."

Finally, she did, albeit hesitantly.

"You listen to me, Jubilation. My miscarriage was in no way your fault. You had absolutely nothing to do with it. I do not want you to go on believing for another second that you are to blame."


"No buts, sweetie. Unfortunately, sometimes terrible things like this happen. But it's no one's fault. Certainly not yours. Please tell me you believe that."

"I. . . ."

"Jubilee, we don't blame you for what happened," Scott said. "We never did. I'm just glad that you were there for Jean, to help her. I should have been; but since I wasn't, I'm so glad it was you."

He reached for her shoulder, gave it a gentle squeeze.

She looked from Scott to Jean. "I-I'm so sorry about the baby. You two would've made the best parents. I should know."

"Oh, sweetie," Jean murmured, reaching for her.

Sitting up, Jubilee gladly moved into the waiting embrace. Holding tight to Jean with one arm, she reached toward Scott with the other. Smiling, he sat down on the other side of the bed and hugged her.

"Thank you, guys, for everythin' that you've done for me," Jubilee whispered, holding tight to both of her foster parents. "Thank you for carin' for me, for watchin' out for me. For givin' me the family I thought I'd lost forever." She gave a small, quavering sigh. "I just want to let you know . . . to tell you . . . I love you guys."

Jean hugged her even tighter. "We love you, too."

"We're so incredibly lucky to have you in our lives, kiddo," Scott said, kissing her temple. "You're everything we could ever hope to have in a daughter."

Jubilee pulled back enough to look at him. "Really?"

Smiling, Scott gently cupped her cheek in his hand. "Really. I couldn't be more proud of you if you were my own flesh and blood."

Blinking back tears, Jubilee lightly covered his hand with her own.

Chapter 22

Jean and Scott were told that it would take a while for Jubilee to be moved to a room. They decided to wait with her until she was settled in her room. Jean sat with Jubilee while she dozed, during which time Scott called the mansion to let the others know that they had found her. Everyone was quite relieved to hear the news. They wanted to come see her, but Scott told them that she would be returning home tomorrow, and it was probably best to wait until then. When he had completed the call, he returned to Jubilee's bedside.

Sensing his approach, Jean turned in her chair and smiled up at him. <*Were they happy?*> Jean asked him telepathically, not wanting to wake Jubilee.

There was a brief pause in Scott's approach as Jean initiated the conversation. It had been a while since he had heard her voice in his head. But it was a familiar, comforting sensation--one he welcomed wholeheartedly--and so he quickly did his part to continue the exchange.

<*Everyone was quite relieved,*> he replied, sitting down in the chair beside her. <>

<*Me too.*> Jean reached for his hand, entwined her fingers with his own. <>


<*In a couple of weeks, she'll be almost completely healed. Her body was essentially so before this happened. I think now, with her memories returned, her mind will finally be able to heal as well.*> She gazed at Jubilee and smiled. <*She'll be able to return to school this fall.*> Although her thoughts were positive, Scott could sense an underlying sadness to them.

<*That's a good thing, Jean. That's what we've been striving for all along.*>

He gave her hand a squeeze. <*As do we.*>

Jean turned to look at him. She reached for his face, touched his cheek. <>

He covered her hand with his own, turned his face to kiss her palm. <*Always.*>

She smiled at him, bent closer to kiss him. <*Then you'll come home with me tonight?*>

<*If that's what you want.*>

He watched as she reached for him again. Her fingertips lightly grazed his temple. With her touch, he felt something else. His mind, which had felt empty for so long, felt fuller. He was no longer alone. She had reestablished their psychic rapport. It was like slipping into an old, comfortable pair of shoes after being on your feet all day. Like curling up under a warm blanket on a cold winter day. It felt like coming home again.

Smiling, he took her hand in his again, brought it to his lips to kiss it.

Without hesitation, he opened his mind to her, projected to her what he was feeling in his heart. Suddenly, Jean was overwhelmed with an outpouring of emotion. \\LoveSupportJoyHappinessRelief// touched her mind like a gentle caress. She felt Scott's strength, his warmth, his love cocoon her like a tender embrace. In response, she projected to him her own feeling of adoration, thankfulness, and love. Words were no longer necessary. As it had been for so long for them--as it was to remain for even longer--thoughts and emotions were all that mattered.


Several hours later, after finally seeing Jubilee settled in her room, and waiting until she was fast asleep, Jean and Scott returned home. He had had to wake her when they arrived in front of the house. She leaned heavily on him as they walked inside and made their way to the bedroom.

"I think I could sleep for three days straight," Jean sighed, pulling out a nightgown from a drawer and tossing it onto the bed.

"Don't plan on it. We have to be back at the hospital tomorrow morning to pick up Jubilee," Scott replied, sitting down on the bed to remove his shoes.

"Afterwards, then," she amended as she began to unbutton her blouse. "I'll go into hibernation after she's home."

"Just so long as I can join you," his voice said in her ear.

She held her breath as she felt his hands on her, sliding the shirt off of her arms. He gently pushed her hair over one shoulder, giving him access to the other. He kissed her neck, even as he ran his hand down her arm, caressing her skin. Closing her eyes, Jean sighed.

He was kissing her behind her ear now. She gasped as he took her lobe with his teeth. Then his hands were slowly sliding down her waist, onto her hips. He slowly turned her to face him. He ran his hands back up her arms, over her shoulders, toward her neck. Then he gently cradled her face in his hands, bending it upwards so he could kiss her.

Jean reached for him, tangling her fingers in his hair, pulling him closer. The kiss deepened, and she could not help but moan.

His hands were on the move again. Down her back. Cupping her ass, pulling her against him.

"Scott," she gasped, even as he placed a trail of tiny kisses across her jaw. "Scott, don't."

"Hmm?" he asked, mouth headed for her ear again.

"Scott, stop," she said, breathless, as she pulled away. She took a step back, away from him, away from the heat between them.

"Jean? Honey, what's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Scott, but I can't--" She gestured helplessly. "I just can't. Not now. Not yet. It's too soon." She looked down, tears of frustration stinging her eyes. It was not that she did not *want* to. After so long apart, she wanted this more than anything. Unfortunately, the body was slow to heal.

Scott could sense her feelings of regret though their newly restored mindlink. He was touched by her concern over what she felt to be his inevitable disappointment--especially considering he felt anything but. Seeing the tears in her eyes, he knew he had to immediately rid her of that mistaken notion.

"I know that, sweetheart," he replied softly, tipping her chin up so that she would meet his eyes. "I would never deliberately do anything to hurt you. You know that, don't you?" Along with his words, he projected his love and support to her--the equivalent of a psychic hug of reassurance.

"Of course, Scott. It's just . . . if we went much further, I don't think *I'd* be able to stop myself."

He smiled. "I just wanted to touch you, Jean. It feels like forever since you've let me touch you, since you've let me hold you."

Without another word, Jean wrapped her arms around his middle and buried her face in his chest. She felt his arms come up around her, enveloping her with his warmth, his strength, his love. It had been so long since she had felt this safe, this good. Too long. He sighed, and Jean could not help but smile. She did not want this moment to end. She wanted to stay wrapped in his arms forever.

Although she knew forever was a bit unrealistic, she figured she could settle for the next seven or eight hours. Slowly, reluctantly, she pulled back. But she quickly took his hand and tugged him towards her. "C'mon, Scott, let's go to bed."


Jean lay nestled in her husband's arms, listening to the soothing cadence of his heartbeat, feeling the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. For the first time in a long while, she felt happy. Content. Loved. She had missed feeling this way.

She would have thought that he was asleep, except for the fact that Scott's finger was tracing lazy circles on her arm.

"Penny for 'em?" she offered.

She felt the chuckle rumble in his chest. "Just thinkin'."

"About. . . ?" she prompted.

"Today, at the hospital. When we were talking with Jubilee."

"I still can't believe she's been carrying all that guilt around inside of her."

"Me either. But I guess it's a testament to how much we mean to her. She blamed herself because she couldn't stand to think that she hurt us."

"You sound surprised, Scott"

"I guess I am, in a way. I mean, I knew that you two were close. I just never expected her to take to me. . . ."

"Or you to her?"

He smiled. "No, I guess I wasn't expecting that either. It didn't take much, though."

"She's a wonderful girl, Scott."

"That she is." He paused, and she felt him tense a bit. "Don't you think. . . . It sort of felt like . . . I mean, it seems like . . . that is, she . . . we. . . ."

"Something's obviously on your mind, Scott. Out with it."

He sighed. "Tonight, at the hospital . . . it felt like we were a real family."

Jean smiled. "It did."

"I . . . I liked that feeling, Jean."

"Me, too, Scott. Me, too."

"I was thinking, Jean. . . ."

"Yes, love?"

"That when you're better, and Hank says it's okay . . . that maybe we could . . . try again. That is, if you want to."

Jean sat up to look him in the face. "You . . . you want to . . . to try to have a baby?"

"Whenever you think you're ready, I'd like to, yes."

"Oh Scott. . . ." She kissed him.

He reached to touch her face, caressed her cheek with his thumb.

"There's something else, Scott. Tell me."

He took a deep breath. "I was thinking that maybe, in the meantime. . . ."

She nodded encouragingly for him to continue.

"What do you think about our adopting Jubilee?"

She stared at him, nonplused. "You're serious?"

"Perfectly. I guess I was thinking that if we all felt like a family . . . well, then, why not make it official?" He smiled weakly. "What do you think?"

"Scott. . . ." Jean stared at him unblinkingly.

"You think it's a terrible idea, don't you?"

"No. Oh God, no. On the contrary, Scott. I think it's an absolutely wonderful idea. I- I love it."


"Really. You know, sweetheart, just when I think I know you completely, you say or do something wonderful like this. You never cease to amaze me." Touching his cheek, she kissed him again.

"Do you think she'll go for it?"

"After what happened today at the hospital--all we said to one another--I think so. I really and truly do. We'll ask her, see what she wants. Let her think about it for a while."

"We have to make it clear that there's no pressure," he pointed out. "That if she's not sure that this is what she wants, we'll let it drop."

"Of course, of course. That goes without saying. But I really do think she'll like the idea."

"I hope so, Jean. I really hope so."

"So we'll ask her tomorrow, after we bring her home from the hospital?"

"Sure. The sooner, the better."

"Great." Jean settled down beside him, once again snuggling in his arms. "Thank you, Scott," she whispered, closing her eyes.

"For what?"

"For giving me hope, and unwavering love. For giving me comfort, security. A family to care for. For making me happier than I've ever felt before."

He pulled her tighter against him. "You've given me all of that, and more, Jean. I love you."

"I love you, too, Scott."

Smiling, she fell asleep in his arms, dreaming about the family they soon hoped to have.


Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what you think: [email protected] or [email protected]


Jennifer Sorowitz V'02
[email protected]

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it. -William Arthur Ward

[main page | archive | forums | gallery ]