Jubilee sighed as she tossed and turned in bed. Finally she sat up and slipped out, giving one weary glance over at her husband. Putting on her robe she looked once more at the sleeping form and wondered how she had made such a foolish mistake. At age 18, freshly out of Generation X, she had decided not to go on to the X-Men, wanting to spread her wings a bit more.
She moved back to California, got a job, and actually did very well. In a year she had her own apartment, great friends, and was on her way to owning her own boutique. Surprising since she had always been the one with the 'least' fashion sense. Then she had met Brian.
Brian Daniels. Your usual blond hair, blue eyed, tan Californian hunk. Except this one had inherited big from daddy dearest, and owned several companies, and had it huge in stocks. Jubilee had been flattered by all the attention she received from him. Fresh flowers everyday, expensive jewelry, and romantic restaurants. She had thought herself in love.
So a month after they met she had made the most foolish mistake she could ever make. She married the bastard. And that's exactly what he turned out to be. Firstly he would take all the letters from her friends, including the X-Men, made sure she never left the house without one of his 'people', told her what to do, drank all the time, and finally became abusive.
Verbally, physically, and sexually abusive. Jubilee shuddered as some of the memories flooded over her. The worst of it all was she couldn't leave him. He had already made sure of that. When she was aware of it he had gone through her things, soon he had found out who the X-Men were, where they lived, and everything else. If she left, then they were exposed.
So she broke off all contact with them, even Logan. Jubilee felt a few tears come to her eyes. Wolverine, how long it had been since she had even heard his voice. Her best friends, her mentors, and her guardian. The person she loved most in the world. It had been four months since she had stopped writing all together, and four months since she had been able to get her hands on a letter from them.
Jubilee turned back around throwing a glance at the moon, she wondered if they missed her. Then she walked back and got back in bed. With one last thought till she gave herself to a rare blissful sleep was, 'Wolvie I wish you were here. Help me please'. Little did she know across the continent a man awoke with a start. Logan stared at himself in the mirror. He could have sworn he heard Jubilee's voice...
"I know what I heard", Wolverine growled slamming his fist down into the table. Cyclop's looked at him sleepily. "Look Cyke I heard her voice, so either help or get out of my way, because I'm going to California!" Wolverine practically shouted. Jean smiled wearily. Even though it was 3 in the morning it was interesting seeing Wolverine unnerved.
"Logan, I am sure she is fine. Her last letter said she was great," Ororo said stepping forward.
Logan gave a low growl. "That letter didn't even sound like her! None of the last few ones did! The last real letter that sounded like her was the one that said she got herself married and not to bother coming out for awhile because she would be busy! Something's wrong I'mtelling you!", Wolverine growled.
"Maybe he has something. The last few letters sounded nothing like her," Rogue said standing up, a worried look smeared across her face.
"Finally!" Wolverine jumped in. Cyclops sighed, "All right, all right! Rogue and Wolverine will go and check on her...that's all!" he finally gave in. Wolverine looked over at Rogue, "Be ready in an hour," he said gruffly. Rogue nodded. 'What have I gotten myself into!'.
As the jeep sped down the near-deserted night-time highway, Rogue enjoyed the cool wind against her face, letting it whip her hair back over her shoulders unrestrained. So much like flight, in a way, she mused idly. When the road is so empty. Just me an' the wind. And...
She looked over at Wolverine. He hunched over the wheel, his blue eyes black in the light, narrowed and fixed ahead with grim determination. Passing headlights cast a freakish white light over his craggy features, giving him an almost maniacal appearance for a moment, then shrouding him again in darkness. She'd tried to start a conversation a few times, but he had either ignored her or cut her off with an abrupt comment and a growl. She sighed, unfolding the much-handled envelopes in her lap and re-reading the single address for perhaps the hundredth time. "Logan, Ah know you don't feel much like talkin', but how're we gonna find her, hmm? It's not like she gave us her new address since her and Brian's latest move."
"I'll find her, cornpone. Ya can bet on that," he rumbled in response, low voice almost snatched away by the wind.
Rogue felt herself bridle a bit at his tone. She was silent a moment, drumming her gloved fingers against the envelopes. This is ridiculous, she thought. Ah didn't come along to be snapped at an' ignored like some piece of baggage. "Listen, hairball," she began, turning in the seat to stare at him, clearly exasperated. "It was you who wanted to come on this turkey shoot. Least you can do is be civil. Ah'm worried 'bout her too, y'know."
She saw his fingers tighten dangerously on the steering wheel. "Ah mean, it's like she never even got anything Ah ever wrote to her. I thought the post office would forward 'em, but she never mentions ... she never asks about ... well, about anything Ah tell her. An' even *you*, of all of the team, don't know any more about her life than the rest of us do. Ah've always thought that just weren't right. Not knowin' her like Ah do." She looked out into the onrushing night. "Like Ah did, Ah guess."
The corner of his mouth curled downward, but finally Wolverine looked sideways at his traveling companion. "Why'd ya never mention it, Rogue? Bein' worried, I mean." He shook his head gravely. "I been pullin' my hair out fer months wonderin' what was up."
"Probably the same reason *you* never mentioned it, sugah," she replied. Something in his expression -- perhaps the beginnings of a worried frown, perhaps the way he dropped his eyes slightly, guiltily -- made her reach out a hand and lay it on his forearm. "Don't matter none, now. What matters is we're off to see the girl, and hopefully find that we're both just first-class worrywarts."
Logan nodded and was silent for several minutes again. "An if we're not," he snarled suddenly with a vicious show of teeth, "this 'Brian' might find himself in a world o' hurt. It's been weeks since I got to throw down good on some punk who deserved it and I can't say I'm not itchin' fer an excuse."
A soft smile touched Rogue's lips, but the flash of her eyes almost mirrored the Canuck's. Surely it wouldn't come to that, but if it did... "Little jealous, are ya, Wolverine?"
He blinked and she was rewarded with a truly blank look for a moment. "Jealous?"
"Sure," she grinned, adeptly turning the converstion to less violent topics. "Some sexy blonde beach mogul shows up an' steals your best bud?"
Logan snorted. "Jubes already left the X-men. She's a young woman. She can do what she wants. If she don't want us around, well, it's her call." He thumped the gas meter with one finger a few times. "Gotta stop ahead."
Sensing that perhaps her friend was more sensitive that he let on about the "loss" of the kid who had almost been a daughter to him, Rogue dropped the subject. She stuffed the letters into her waist pack and pointed to a Texaco on their right. "Good. Ah could use my mornin' coffee."
Logan swung the jeep into the station, noticing that dawn was beginning to inch over the horizon, a sickly, ruddy color that heralded rain. "Knew we shoulda took the blackbird," he groused.
Rogue laughed, a little tiredly, as she stepped out and stretched. "Scott would've had a conniption fit, an' you know it. We'll get there fast enough this way." She watched him grumble his way to the gas pump, then ran her fingers through her wind-tangled hair and headed towards the station's Quik Mart. Ah hope Scott an' the Prof are right. Wolverine needs to calm down before stormin' up to Jubilee's new home and the road trip could do the trick. She crossed her fingers. I really really hope they're as right as they think they are.
Back in CA, Jubilee was worried, more than a little worried to be exact. She had come back to her room to find that no one was there. Brian tried to make sure there was always someone there.
"A good time to do a bit of snooping." Jubilee said to herself. She knew where Brian's work room was and figured she could get to it unseen, after all, if he could blackmail her, then she could blackmail him.
Twenty minutes later she got back to her room sweating and shaking. She had made it and had her evidence. Brian was involved with the Friends of Humanity; he was supplying them arms and biologics, Bioweapons.
Jubilee shivered in the hot Californian weather.
Jubilee was sitting still on her bed. She knew she wouldn't bring the matter up with Brian as soon as he got back. That would be foolish, since he was part of FOH. He could easily have her killed ASAP. His bodyguards were never that far behind him.
Jubilee took a few moments to stare at herself in the mirror. Her hair was cut right below her ears and curled under. She was about 5'3. Her usual glossy tan skin was blackened by a few old bruises, and some knife scars across her stomach. She shuddered as she remembered that day. It had been the day she had told him about the baby.
He had not been happy--he took a knife to her. Managed to leave her alive, but killed the baby. She felt hot tears rush down her face, and soon she was sobbing. How could she have been so foolish. She felt small arms wrap around her. "Sheila!", she exclaimed at the young girl.
Sheila worked as a maid on the estate, and Jubilee had befriended the young 12 year old. She reminded her of herself when she was younger. "Are you all right Miss ?" Sheila asked cautiously.
"I'm fine, you must go though, Sheila. Brian will return soon...and if he finds you here..." Jubilee's voice quivered. She refused to bring an innocent young girl into her problems.
"All right Miss, but I was walking home and I heard you crying. I wanted to see if I could do anything," Sheila said scurrying off, and just in time too. Two minutes later Brian busted into the room. He face was flushed with anger, and his breath smelled of alcohol. "Bad day at work?" Jubilee asked meekly; when he was like this it was always bad.
Brian glared and walked over to the bar. He got himself a drink and came back over. Setting it down he grabbed Jubilee. Kissed her hard then drew back and hit her. Jubilee winced as the pain came through her, this was just the beginning she knew. She closed her eyes and prepared for another night..
Brian's fingers scrabbled at the buttons of her blouse, his breath hot on her cheek. Jubilee wedged her arms between their bodies, pressing her hands against his chest. She tried to push him away, but he just pulled her closer--his grip around her slight body vise-like. Jubilee's face still stung from where he had hit her, and disgust welled up in her stomach. Not just for her husband, but for herself.
What have I become? Jubilee asked herself, as Brian bruised her mouth with his lips. A whimper escaped from her throat, and she felt the familiar flush of shame spread to her cheeks. What happened to the fighter? To the kid who blasted Sentinals--who hated men just like Brian? What happened to the girl who ran with Wolverine?
She choked back a sob as the Canadian's familiar, craggy features rose up in her mind. Her shame grew as she imagined what her friend would say if he could see her now. The sunny, innocent girl gone--replaced by a weak, whimpering shell of a woman. Who couldn't even summon the strength to defend herself against the man who beat her, who had cut the unborn child from her belly.
"Oh, kid." She could hear his whisper inside her head, his voice full of sorrow. "Darlin'. What happened to ya? Why didn't ya tell me?"
I couldn't, Wolvie. I tried, but I couldn't.
Jubilee knew that she could have gotten a message out to Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men. Never mind that Brian would expose them if he found out. She would have made sure that he didn't. She was resourceful--or she had been, at least. Sheila would have carried a letter for her, she could have found an untapped phone, or slipped away from the guards Brian had set around her. No, it was her pride that had kept her from contacting her friends. She had thought that she could handle Brian on her own--at least convince him of a divorce. And when she couldn't, when the beatings had begun in earnest・when she found she could no longer get away or defend herself・something had happened to her--something so terrible she didn't even want to think about it. What had been a refusal to admit defeat had turned into something worse. Brian had slowly, oh-so-expertly, torn apart her spirit. That feisty, spunky, in-your-face, spirit. And she could not bear to let her friends see what she had become. Especially not Wolverine. Not him.
So ya let him walk all over ya?" Wolverine's voice snarled, his voice so loud it rebounded in her skull. She jumped in surprise, and Brian muttered darkly, his voice slurred. He wrapped his fingers in her hair, and yanked her down to the bed. Jubilee gasped, both from the sudden pain and from the rough, familiar voice still speaking inside of her head.
"Bull shit, kid. You taught me better than that. And I thought you knew・thought I had told you in all the words I could, that I'd always be there for ya. That you could always count on me for anything. Anything.
"Wolvie." Jubilee breathed, feeling tears roll down her face. Brian, who had begun tugging once again at her clothing, stopped. The drunken, angry glaze that had filled his eyes, cleared.
"What did you say?" he asked, his voice dangerously soft. Jubilee met his gaze squarely, pressing her lips together. A spark of defiance blossomed in her chest. Small, but bright.
"I asked you a question," he hissed, swooping down to press his face close to her own. Despite the rage in his voice, his eyes--she had called those eyes beautiful, once-- were clear. Calculating. Jubilee swallowed down fear, his gaze terrifying her. His connections to the FOH burned all too brightly in her mind, and she imagined those weapons he sold being used against the X-Men--against Wolverine. He knew who they were--where they lived.
She saw the blow coming, and turned her face so that the mattress absorbed most of the impact. His lifted his hand again, and Jubilee squirmed frantically, trying to escape from him. She instinctively lifted her hands towards his face, forgetting--
--the inhibitors. Brian's lip curled humorlessly, as Jubilee failed to produce any sign of her mutant power. He had learned the lesson of her fireworks the hard way, during the first fight of their marriage. She had stunned him with her spheres and stars of plasma, and afterwards, when he convinced her he would never hurt her again, he had ordered mutant inhibitors installed throughout the house.
Jubilee's eyes widened, and she clamped her teeth down on her lower lip. Brian didn't miss, the second time his fist came down.
Wolverine started from his sleep. His dreams of late had been awful. Filled with visions of Jubilee, beaten black and blue. Afraid and ashamed. This latest set had been the worse. He could still feel the bite of pain where the bastard had punched her, could taste and smell her fear, and her husband's rage.
"Sugah?" Rogue asked, her voice slurred. She slept in the bed of their single motel room; Wolverine lay stretched out on the couch. She sat up, and rubbed her eyes. "Heard you talkin' in your sleep."
Wolverine clenched his jaw, remembering his dream. So vivid・his sweet, little Jubilee. Oh, darlin'・
He stood from the couch, still fully clothed. "Get your things together." He told Rogue in a rough voice. "If we start now, we can get to California by this evening." Wolverine clenched his hands into fists as his teammate wordlessly complied.
And if that bastard has hurt Jubilee・
A low growl filled the room.
Traffic in the city barely slows, even late at night.
Hat pulled low over his brow, Wolverine swung the jeep across several busy lanes and ignored the horns, flashing lights, and curses that rose from other cars fading behind them. Rogue glanced at him with some concern. Not for his driving, which was always on the reckless side, but for the dark silence that had settled over him since that morning. He had muttered in his sleep most of the night, his words muffled but their meaning clear, their emotion unnaturally bared while his waking mind slept.
She heard them in her mind all day as they traveled, almost as if they filled in for the absent conversation. "I'd always be there for ya. You can count on me for anything. Anything." The raw emotion in that gravely voice sounded somehow unnatural. Fear for Jubilee, empathetic pain for her imagined hurts, and the sharper pain that hinted at her failed trust in him.
"Take the next left, Logan. Her old apartment complex is a few blocks up. It's the last address Ah could find."
They pulled into the parking lot before a low series of brick buildings. Even by streetlight, the place appeared neat and clean on the outside, landscaped with a few trimmed hedges, the stairs and doorways to multiple apartments newly painted. Strangely welcoming in the hazy dark of the city, the yellow of den lights gleamed in several windows.
Logan slammed the gearshift into 'park' and climbed from the jeep without even a glance around, the tips of his claws gleaming, shot a menacing few inches over his knuckles. With the engine off, Rogue thought she could hear the faint sound of him sheathing and unsheathing them repeatedly as they approached a lower floor apartment with the sign "OFFICE" displayed prominently beside the door. No lights were on, but one window glowed with the flickering bluish light of a television. She was relieved to see that the clawtips were gone when Logan lifted his hand to knock heavily.
Logan knocked again, more insistent, harder.
"Not open 'til morning!" came an irate voice from the other side of the door after Wolverine had pounded for several minutes, his expression growing darker as each minute passed. "No vacancies then either!"
Touching her hairy companion lightly on one arm, Rogue stepped in front of the peephole, looking as demure as any lovely Southern belle. "Ah'm really sorry," she began in a soft, winning drawl, pitched just loud enough to carry through the door. "Ah'm -- we're havin' a little car trouble, y'see. Mah brother here's awful impatient to get back on th' road. Couldn't ya'll just let us borrow a phone?"
She thought she felt Wolverine give her a newly appreciative glance. "Not gonna work tho', darlin'," he said, his voice rough with the strain of waiting. "These city folk're too scared --"
A chain rattled within, the dead bolt shot back suddenly and Rogue couldn't stifle a small, knowing smile as the door opened. Almost immediately, her smile faded. The hulking man in the doorway hardly needed to be afraid of unexpected late-night guests. He leaned forward to leer at her, scratching himself through his tattered, stained undershirt. "Now, little lady, what was it you were a'wantin'?"
Faster and more graceful than his size would warrant, Wolverine stepped between them, staring belligerently up into the big man's face. "Got a few questions fer ya, bub," he said. "'Bout a kid who lived here some months back."
The 'hulk' snorted, returning Logan's gaze with apparent disgust and glancing across at Rogue with not a little disappointment. "What's this? You with her, shorty?"
Wolverine took a single step forward, closing the space between them to mere inches. His fist clenched and unclenched at his side. "Kid's name was Jubilation Lee. Loud mouth. Loud clothes. Apartment 3C. Moved out not long ago. She had to leave a forwarding address. We'd like it."
"I don't give out information on residents, especially to pushy strangers," the owner relied nastily, his liquor-laden breath warm on Logan's face. "Get off my property, chump, before I call the cops."
The door began to close, but Wolverine stuck one boot against it and growled. "Not so fast."
Before Rogue could pull her friend back to regroup and perhaps try a less invasive tactic, the owner had shoved Wolverine back and reached behind him for a sizeable pistol which he leveled at them meaningfully. "You were saying, runt?"
"Logan, Ah think we should --"
*snickt* Claws flashed in the shadows and the gun spun out of the 'hulk's fleshy grip, skittering harmlessly across the wooden steps. Charging forward with a roar, Wolverine slammed the larger man against an inner wall and drove one set of fully extended claws deep beside his head. Cheap plaster cracked and fell into dust. "Now, bub," he growled. "I was sayin' that I needed a young lady's address."b
The eyes that gleamed back at him from his pinned captive held surprisingly little fear. "Mutie," the complex owner spat,"you picked the wrong man to mess with." Spittle flecked Wolverine's face. "But you can have the girl's address, if you want. Check the file cabinet over there."
Rogue slipped past the two men to the cabinet and began rummaging drawers. "If these are ya'll's records, they're in mightly poor shape," she said, thumbing through half-alphabetized folders with dates ranging back 20 years. "But Ah think Ah'v got it, Logan. Let's go."
With a snarl, Wolverine followed her somewhat reluctantly, kicking the abandoned gun further out into the parking lot as they passed. "Smelled wrong," he rumbled half to himself as the jeep roared to life. "Not fear. Hate from the first he opened the door. Like he knew what we were before I even popped my claws. And somethin' else -- eagerness? Anticipation? Expectation? Not sure." He backed the vehicle out into traffic.
Rogue looked back at the complex as they spun away. The owner still stood silhouetted by blue, televised light in the doorway, staring after them without comment. Strange, she thought. He should've at least yelled after us, ran for his gun, or for the phone. "Ah don't got your senses, Wolverine, but Ah got a bad feelin' 'bout this mahself."
She groped beneath the seat for a map, mentally repeating the address she'd seen to herself. "Ah can't say Ah liked what we just did, either," she added as a faint remonstrance.
If he noticed the criticism, Logan showed no reaction. "So where are we headed next?"
Back at the apartment complex, the owner slammed his front door and snatched the phone from the wall. He listened for a moment, then: "Yeah, let me speak to Brian. I know it's late, but he'll want to know. Yeah. They're in town. They're comin'."
*Tap tap tap*
Brian opened his eyes, the sound of knocking waking him from his light slumber. He blinked several times, letting his eyes adjust to the dim light of the bedroom. "Yeah?" he called.
The heavy oak doors swung open, and Brian recognized the face of his bodyguard, Alan. The heavyset man peered through the shadows, eyes finding his boss's face despite the thick darkness of the room.
"You've got a call, sir. It's Mr. McCain. He's got some news for you."
Brian permitted himself a small, knowing smile. "Tell him I'll be there in a minute." Alan nodded curtly, withdrawing from the room. The door closed behind him with a soft click.
Brian lifted his right hand from beneath the covers, trailing it gently along the bare hip of the slight woman curled in a tight ball beside him. She showed no sign that she felt his touch--her breathing never changed from its slow, steady rhythm, nor did she flinch. Asleep, Brian concluded. His dear, sweet little wife was asleep. He contemplated waking her--even considered telling her the news he suspected McCain had for him.
No, he decided. Best to leave it as a surprise. Not that she could do anything to change his plans, even if she did know. Not after last night, anyway. Certainly, not after this afternoon's "session".
Session. That was an appropriate name for what regularly occurred between them, Brian mused, finally slipping out from beneath the covers. He quickly reached for the robe draped across the chair beside the bed, wrapping himself against the chill of the room. Of course, he thought, if McCain's news was what he expected it would be, his wife would no longer have to worry about facing another of their prolonged 'sessions'.
She wouldn't have to worry, because she would be dead.
Jubilee heard the door close behind her husband, and let out a small, inaudible sigh. She shifted her leg just a fraction, and winced. She hurt. All over. Ribs, arms, legs--even her little toe throbbed, though she couldn't possibly imagine how that could have been injured. Her face, though--that was the worse. Brian never beat her hard enough to break bones, but Jubilee knew better than most that muscles carried a far-reaching ache that could feel just as terrible. And she felt worse than terrible.
Her bladder ached urgently, and Jubilee groaned into her pillow. Great. Just what she needed.
She heard footsteps outside in the hall, and she instantly forced her body to relax. Convincing Brian that she was asleep had become a survival trick, but she still had to be careful not to let herself slip. Nerves strung tight, she listened to the sound of shoes grow loud, and then recede into the distance. Doors slammed somewhere on the floors above and below her, and she thought she could hear voices--the deep, throaty voices of Brian's bodyguards. They sounded excited. Something was definitely up.
Jubilee frowned. What was it that Alan had said to Brian, just a few minutes ago? She tried to remember through the pain of a sudden, fierce headache. Something about a Mr. McCain having news? Now, why did that name sound familiar? McCain, McCain・who did she know・
And then she remembered. Her old landlord, a greasy, leering man whom she had never liked. The apartments, however, had been well cared for and affordable. Why though, would he be contacting her husband? She peeled her eyes open, wincing, and took in the dark, heavy shadows of the room. It was the middle of the night, if she wasn't mistaken. McCain calling Brian in the middle of the night? It didn't make sense. Why in the world would her husband be in contact with her old landlord? She had only lived there for a little while, and it wasn't as if anyone was going to come looking for her--
Looking for her.
Jubilee's heart stopped. Don't get your hopes up, Jubes, she quickly berated herself. Her mind refused to listen, and a dozen scenarios began to thunder through her imagination. Foremost in her thoughts was Wolverine. If anyone would come looking for me, it'd be him, she thought.
But if he--if anyone--had come with hopes of finding her, they would no doubt have run into McCain, the man being the logical person to ask about her previous residency. And if McCain was calling Brian--
Then anyone looking for her, would be walking right into a trap.
Jubilee pondered on what to do. She pushed aside the pain that was forcing to overcome her. She couldn't just let Logan walk into a trap. 'He's smart he'll figure something out', a voice said in her mind. 'Yeah right, even if he did figure it out he'd still come', the other came back. Jubilee immediately put a stop to her mind's argument. "Doesn't matter, whatever happens I gotta figure out something to do", she said softly.
'Come on Lee, your smart, where's all those great ideas', she thought, and for a moment her spirit's lifted, then her aching bones, and pounding head brought them back to the ground. 'Face it, there's nothing you can do. They get in here, and they can't even use their powers. The inhibitor's will stop them. Brian's not dumb, he must have known something like this would happen all along'. Then it hit Jubilee.
Why was she still around, why would Brian even have anything to do with her since she was a mutant...could she be some sort of bait, for Logan ? Why would they want Logan...THE X-MEN! The realization came to her. He had planned the whole thing, and she had fallen right into it. With Wolverine coming, soon the others would follow when he didn't check in. It was all nice and neat.
Jubilee pulled herself tighter. "I'm sorry Professor Xavier, I've practically killed all of your X-Men myself", she whispered, and began to cry again.
'I'm comin' Jubilee hold on I'm comin'. This Brian guy ya married is gonna hurt real soon. There ain't no way you ain't comin back with us to the mansion', Logan thought. Rogue kept her eyes on the road for him. "Suger maybe ah should drive", she finally said as they sent another car into a ditch. Wolverine just gave a snarl.
"Logan it ain't gonna be good for ya to go bustin into Jubilee's home like that, we ain't gonna be able to save her unless ya cool down", Rogue finally said exasperated. They had both given up the idea that her being in trouble might just be their imaginations.
Logan looked over, the thought flashed through his mind. "Yeah okay", he said defeated, but continued driving. He seemed a bit more relaxed, not much, but a bit.
'Ah hope Jubes is alright, she was one of the first X-Men Ah knew, and along with Storm and Jean she'll always come first when it comes down to everyone.' All thoughts of rationalization went out of her. "Hurry up Wolverine this ain't a sunday afternoon drive", she said loudly.
Wolverine gave her a curious glance, but speeded it up.
Jubilee wiped her eyes and forced herself to stop crying. This is not going to save the X-MEN, she chided herself. She stood up ignoring the pain and got dressed. She did everything silently as she strained her ears to hear what was going on downstairs. More importantly to hear if anyone was coming up.
She walked to the door and listened for a moment. Carefully she twisted the doorknob. She paused, listening again. Her heart was in her throat. She eased the door open silently and stepped out. She walked into the hallway and shut the door. Keeping close to the wall she inched down the hallway. She heard a shout from downstairs and she stopped dead in her tracks. She moved on when she realized it wasn't directed at her.
This was all her fault, she cursed. It was up to her to fix it. The X-MEN were in trouble and keeping quiet wasn't going to help them now. Only one thing could and she was going have to risk everything to get to it. She had to get to her beloved husband's office. Everyone seemed to be downstairs, maybe she had a chance.
She stopped at the corner and peeped her head around. She saw one of his body guards sitting by the door reading the newspaper. Damn! She kicked herself mentally. Like it would be that easy, Lee. She walked back down the hallway a bit, she stopped at the table. She stared at a crystal figurine. She picked it up thoughtfully. This is heavy. She smiled, it would work. She tucked it in her jacket.
She walked back, this time straight to the door. The body guard stood up when he saw her.
"Is Brian in there?" She asked as she pointed.
The body guard shook his head. Jubilee began to apologize then dropped her scarf that was wrapped around her neck to cover the bruises. The guard didn't flinch at the wounds. He was used to them, they all were. He bent down to pick it up for her, perhaps thinking she couldn't move that well after last night. Jubilee took out the figurine and brought it down full force on his head. He fell to the ground.
Without missing a beat Jubilee stepped over the guard and went to the door. She twisted the door knob experimentally. Locked. Well, at least that shouldn't be a problem. She took out a bent paper clip and slipped it into the door knob. In a minute a soft click gave way and she darted into the room.
She closed the door and locked it behind her. She flipped on a light, there was no turning back now. Jubilee began to quickly look around the room, being as quiet as she could. She went over to the desk and picked all the locks there. She opened the top drawer and rummaged through the papers.
Her heart was pounding so hard she could hardly hear anything. Her hands were shaking, hell everything was shaking. Where was it? Where was it? It had to be here, it just had to be. What if it wasn't? What if he hid it somewhere else? Tears filled her eyes. Jubilee didn't bother to brush them away.
"Please. Please. Please." She whispered as she looked through the drawers. Then her fingers fell upon something, her heart caught. She pulled it out and her heart leapt. "The key." She said smiling for the first time in months.
The inhibitor was on her left wrist. It looked like a normal bracelet, but Jubilee knew otherwise. She remembered the night Brian had held her down and strapped it on. Killing a part of her in the process. She put the key in and jiggled it around. It clicked and more tears fell down her face. Jubilee took the inhibitor off and threw it across the room.
She stood up shakily and stared at her hands. She willed her power and the familiar sparks encased her fingertips. She laughed somewhat hysterically.
"I got my powers back Brain. I'm not going to let my friends get hurt. This is a whole new game. And you are going to regret everything you did." She said vehemently as she increased the power to her hands until the light filled the room.
Jubilee's eyes filled with the beautiful light of her plasma bursts as they lit the study, feeling the warm tingle of her mutant power course through her fingers, reveling in it like a cool drink of water after a long, dry drought. It had been so long... so terribly long.
"Computer. Re-establish inhibitor."
Jubilee whirled around in the suddenly dark room, breath catching in her throat at the voice. A voice more familiar that the flow of her power these days. Brian's voice. Her hand closed compulsively over the bracelet's key, gripping it hard enough to make her knuckles ache.
Half in shadow, he leaned against one bookshelf, a casual nonchalance in his crossed-legged stance. A man used to obedience. A hard man. Jubilee could catch the dull gleam of one eye in the dim light, riveting her to the spot before his desk even as it simultaneously took in the inhibitor bracelet laying open at her feet. Swallowing the heart which seemed to pound in her throat and threaten to strangle her, she shuddered and dropped her eyes.
All traces of the brilliant fireworks had faded except for the acrid scent of singed horsehair from the expensive desk chair.
"Tsk tsk tsk." Heavy with mock-sympathy, Brian's voice crawled across the air between them, taunting her, threatening in its softness. "Where's your mind, girl? You know the entire house is outfitted with inhibitors. You're not such a fool as to have *believed* that that one single cuff was my only hold on your powers. No, not you, you minx. What game are you playing, hmmm?"
He chuckled, a sickly, grating sound that brought back the sensation of his fingers against her skin, his breath in her ears, her mouth. Frozen, Jubilee felt even the memory begin gag her and clutched at her chest with her empty hand.
His subdued laughter only continued. "Pathetic. You mutants are all pathetic," Brian approached with a slow, swaggering walk that sent chills coursing through his young wife's body, overriding the numbness that gripped her. She staggered, cringing even before the first blow fell. God help me, her mind whimpered silently. Somebody help me. Wolvie, where are you?
"That bracelet works like the thin rope around an elephant's leg, girl," the hated voice rang in her head. "As a reminder. That you're controlled. That you're nothing but subhuman rubbish -- a beast of burden for your betters. For you master. For me, girl. For me."
Dimly, Jubilee could feel the methodical blows, but her mind swam. To have had her power back, to have had hope that someone was coming to look for her, then ... this ... Some part of her seemed to switch off, Brian's litany sinking into the distance. He's right. I knew better. I knew the bracelet wasn't everything. What's wrong with me? Not thinking clearly. Maybe the thought of ...
She shivered, the comforting natter of her inner voice choking on the thought. How dare you even think of them -- of him coming for you? *You* left him, remember? And would you wish him into a trap? Would you? She could feel a hot stickiness on her face, taste the metallic taste of blood in her mouth, but she didn't care. It was as if it happened to someone else, someone far, far away. Just want to rest. Just curl up and rest. Can't worry about him. He can take care of himself. Must...rest...
The key dropped from her limp fingers.
After a long while, Brian peered down at his handiwork, his lips set in an unpleasant line. He nudged his wife's thin body with the toe of his boot once, twice, before turning for the door. Leaving the key glittering uselessly on the floor and giving the fallen guard only a cursory glance, he strode out. Other matters called, matters more crucial than the pitiful mutie who had been fool enough to marry him.
Curled into a ball in the center of the floor, battered face welting, bleeding, Jubilee murmured to herself and rocked back and forth, a tiny motion. He doesn't need me to look after him. He doesn't need me...doesn't miss me. The thoughts were distant, fragmented, as if from some other mind. Part of that other mind was also aware of the searing pain in her head, but kept the rest of her at bay, safe. He didn't need me when the Reavers crucified ... A momentary bolt of pain shot through her clearly, then faded again. He didn't need me when the wraiths... when Mariko... when the Sentinel.. . Another shock of pain shook her.
Jubilee blinked, opening her eyes slowly as the hazy cloud rent apart, feeling the newest cuts and bruises with a raw pain that took her breath. "He did need me," she whispered. "He does. He's comin'; I know he's comin'. And he's gonna need me when he gets here."
Slowly, she pushed herself to her feet and took stock of what she had learned. Although the house and grounds were equiped with inhibitors, there was apparently some sort of computer control, linked to Brian's voice commands, that could turn them on and off in sections of the house. Perhaps even room by room. "Great, Lee," she muttered. "And now that you have this information, just what do y'think you're gonna do with it?"
She considered, letting her sense of balance re-establish itself as she held on to the arm of the scorched chair. "What you've always done, of course." She grinned a little brokenly and wiped blood from her lips. "Use it against the bad guys however I can. Even when the bad guys sleep in my very bed."
Logan swore loudy. Massive iron gates barred the entranceway into the estate; high stone walls surrounded it on every side, surmounted only by the tops of trees. "Don't smell like her kinda place," he growled, tapping one extended claw repeatedly against the padlocked gates and scenting the air. "Ain't no guard." *sniff* "Dogs, though. Two or three of 'em, but they ain't nearby yet."
"It doesn't seem very welcoming, does it?" Rogue pushed her hair out of her eyes, staring up at the stylized wrought-iron lions that prowled the tops of the gate. As daylight had supplanted the darkness of the past night, fear and anger had given way to rationality, and she found herself more willing to consider the situation objectively. Just because Jubilee's letters never sounded quite like her... Just because they had no recent address from her... Just because her ex-landlord was scum -- and anti-mutant... Just because the one address they hunted down looked like a cross between a millionaire's mansion and Alcatraz... Just because... Just because... No proof, really.
No proof except a nagging suspicion and Logan's nightmare dreams. Was it enough to warrant breaking and entering? Rogue's lips curved faintly. With Wolverine along, it became a moot point. "Ah can fly us over, sugah."
"Well, get on with it, then."
Rogue looked up and down the private street for passers-by, then seized the soft leather of Logan's jacket and the hard muscle of his arms in a firm grip. Effortlessly, she soared upward, carrying the much heavier man with her. Up, over the thick walls, careful to lift Wolverine clear of the iron spikes that lined the top edge, she scanned the densely tree-lined "yard" of Brian's massive estate.
Logan gestured. "Drop me over there, that stand o' trees."
Rogue hovered briefly, then started toward the copse. Before she was more than 3 feet inside the walls, the air around her seemed to suddenly thin, the ease with which she stayed airborne fell away. Wolverine's massive weight dragged at her arms and shoulders painfully. Slipping. She could feel herself slipping in the air, and with a cry, plummeted downward, fingers cracking, losing their grasp. She barely registered Logan's surprised grunt and the *whud!* of impact before she dropped on top of him, knocking the wind from her lungs. With a shock, she felt the rough hair of his cheek against her face and snatched herself back, rolling aside hastily.
"What th'--?" came his simultaneous snarl.
Gingerly, Rogue sat up, one gloved hand lifted to her face. "M-Mah powers ..." She stared across at him, eyes wide, conflicting emotions written clearly in them. "Logan, they're gone!" Softer. "They're gone."
Wolverine reflexively ran his fingers across his own face, through the thick, black sideburns. "Ya sure ya touched me? Ya moved so quick--"
Lowering her eyes a fraction, she answered in a subdued voice. "Ah'm sure. A body doesn't go for years without ... without feeling another human's touch and not notice even the smallest..." She cleared her throat and, suddenly self-conscious, dropped her hand reluctantly. "Ah can't seem to fly either."
"I noticed," came the gruff reply. Logan rolled to his feet, arching an eyebrow at the sudden ache of bruises over his hip. "Some kinda dampener field." One set of claws shot out with a *snikt*, and he growled. "I'd say we ain't welcome here, Roguie. You okay?"
She nodded, allowing him to pull her to her feet, but didn't speak. Didn't trust her voice. No powers. They're gone. Ah-Ah *touched* him.
Logan's breath was suddenly at her ear. ""Don't think about it, darlin'. Not now. We ain't alone out here. An' I don't think I like the idea of Jubilee stayin' in a place fitted with general inhibitors." He rested a hand on her shoulder, the weight of his claws mildly surprising her. "Gotta get a move on."
Licking her lips, Rogue nodded again. "Ah'm right behind ya."
'Think Lee! Think!'
Jubilee looked around in the room, wishing she knew what she was looking for. Her gaze ended up on a small laptop. She studied it a while for afar then took a couple a steps towards it. 'Maybe...'
The door was opened and a young man with 'bodyguard' written all over him saw Rogue standing on the steps, smiling sweetly to him. Then he saw a claw directed to his lower parts.
"Where is she?" Logan growled.
Logan pushed the claw a bit closer, and the man started talking: "In the libary."
"Thank you sugah," Rogue said, and Wolverine and Rogue walked into the house.
"You're sure you're doin' the right thing, darlin'?" Worry. Love. Care.
"I'm sure, Wolvie. I love him so much, I can't describe it." Naive. Young. Foolish. Love. Admiration.
"Well, if you're sure, I'm not gonna do anythin' ta stop you." Trust. Care. Love. Respect.
"I love ya, Wolvie." Love. Respect. Trust.
"Me too, darlin', me too." Love. Respect. Trust.
Wolverine and Rogue rushed down the hallways. Suddenly Rogue stopped, "Wolverine," she said causing him to stop and swiftly turn. "What," he said gruffly. "May Ah be the first one to point out the small lil ole detail we forgot," she said smirking a bit even considering the situation.
"What?" he growled getting angry.
"We don't know where the library is," she finished. Suddenly a voice spoke out from the shadows.
"Oh I believe I can help you with that," the cold voice replied. "May I introduce myself," it began.
"I don't know who ya are, and don't really care Bub, I'm here fer one thing and you ain't it," Wolverine snarled.
"Oh but you seen I am part of the reason you are here, for you are here for my wife...as I was saying," the man said stepping from the shadows. Several men behind him, all holding stun guns.
"I'm Brian Daniels." he smirked. Rogue gasped, Jubilee hadn't been kidding when she said this guy was good looking, but how had she gotten past the cold gaze his eyes gave, and the arrogant cruel way he stood?
"Where's Jubilee?" Wolverine asked ,popping his claws and not even grimacing at the pain it caused without his healing factor.
Brian laughed, "My pitiful wife is in the library as said, don't worry you'll see her very soon...in fact why don't we move on to the library, I'm sure she'll be very happy to know that you will all die together...such a shame, and I did enjoy our session's together. Oh well, people were actually starting to think I liked the mutant slut." Brian replied.
Rogue glared and whispered to Wolverine, "Ah don't like the sound of that."
"You ain't the only one", he snarled, his eyes lighting up with fury. At that moment they stopped. Brian smiled.
"Right through this door", he said. Two guys came up to unlock it, and a few moments later stood back for him to open it.
Some time before those events Jubilation Lee had sit down at the computer. She immediately began to type, even though her fingers ached from the feeling. Not too long after she had the codes cracked, she hit the online email button. As soon as it came up she typed her letter.
X-Men, Rogue and Wolverine are in trouble. Must come immediately. Trap is set for you, be careful. General Inhibitors are placed all over, power's useless. Inhibitors will be down for only 20 minutes, tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. That is all I can manage, A friend.
She hit the send button. Now for if that didn't work. She sought out Sheila, and whispering to her, she told her to leave the house, find a phone, and call the X-Men. Giving her the number she told her what to say. Sheila ran for it, then Jubilee sat down to disable the inhibitors. She was surprised when she managed to get it ready for that exact time. "You're smarter than you thought." She managed a small smirk.
Suddenly she heard movements outside the door. She shut the computer down, and stood up cautiously, gripping the chair back. Then she prepared herself for whatever was coming through.
"Hello Jubilee", Brian said coming through the door. Jubilee cowered away a bit until she saw who followed. She gave a gasp, she hadn't expected him to let her see them. "Wolvie...Rogue!", she exclaimed. Brian laughed, walking over and grabbing her.
"How do you like what she's become Mutant, a pitiful excuse for a woman...but not that bad in bed," Brian finished, shoving her for Wolverine who caught her, and prepared to jump Brian, but was soon hit with a stun dart.
Jubilee felt another hit her too, and then another Rogue. All three mutants laid in a heap. The men grabbed them and began to drag them. "Oh, one more thing", Brian said and they stopped. He went over to his wife and slipped his wedding ring off and placed it in her hand, then closed her grip. Then he gave a wave of a hand and they continued to move them.
Jubilee awoke with a small groan. The stun dart hadn't helped her headache at all. "How are ya darlin ?", a voice suddenly asked. She looked up, her aching body completely against it. "I..." she couldn't come up with a word to describe what she was. She looked away ashamed. Suddenly she felt his arms go around her and he pulled her against him. Logan let himself get accustomed to her scent and feel again, he hadn't realized how much he missed her.
He was going to kill Brian for doing what he did. Suddenly he realized she was crying softly in his shoulder. "I promise Jubilee that nothing else is going to happen to you, I promise", he whispered. What she said next made him choke back a gasp.
"I just want to die...get it all over with." she murmured.
"Why Jubilee, yeah this thing happened...but Jubilee all you've lost is a few years, a few pounds, and a bit of innocence! You've gained life experience, and you'll appreciate it more! Darlin everything you've lost can be regained!", he told her a bit loudly. Rogue had just woken.
"I'd give up everything just to have back the one thing I can't", she suddenly whispered, her eyes were filled with a sad, regretful look.
"What...", Wolverine asked, but Rogue had already caught on when Jubilee subconsciously placed her hand on her stomach.
"Oh hun," she said enveloping the younger girl in a hug. "I'm so sorry, I ain't ever had the chance to be a mother myself, but I know I'd give anything for a child...I understand." Rogue whispered, rocking the now sobbing woman.
Logan came to realization and gulped, this was one thing he didn't know what to do. It sound so strange coming from a girl he had known practically her whole life, had trained and taught. He sat back down and watched grimly, he was not going to let Jubilee just give up. 'Brian I'm gonna kill ya, but first I'm gonna make sure you die a slow and painful death', he thought furiously.
"So, how do we get out of here?" Rogue asked, still holding onto the now calm Jubilee.
"I don't know, Darlin'. I'm lookin'." Wolverine was looking about the room. Which was hard to do with little to no lights. The door was bolted shut, and the inhibitors made it so he couldn't use his powers.
Jubilee looked down at the ground near her legs, and saw something shimmer. "What is it, Jubes?" Rogue asked.
Jubilee picked it up, and saw it was the wedding ring she had given to Brian, with "Forever" engraved on the inside of it. She felt new tears as she saw this. So, she thought, he never really loved me.
Rogue saw this, and hugged the girl closer. "I'm so sorry it turned out like this."
"Me too." Jubilee responded weakly. They both looked up as they heard a loud crash. Wolverine found a way out.
He leapt into the hall, and the two women could hear the distinct sounds of fists striking flesh, followed by heavy thuds. Jubilee flinched, and Rogue held her tightly.
"It's all right," she whispered.
Jubilee's eyes were haunted as she looked at her former teammate, and Rogue tried to keep her expression steady--to not let her see how disturbed she really was by the bruises, and the broken, beaten look in her face. A shadow blocked out the light streaming in from the hall, and Rogue tore her eyes away from Jubilee. Logan stood in the doorway.
"Yah sure made enough noise, sugah." Rogue berated Wolverine, taking Jubilee's hand in a firm grip and pulling her towards him.
He didn't say a word, eyes locked on his former partner. The young woman avoided his gaze, and Rogue could feel her trembling. Her palm felt clammy--
Rogue blinked, heart jumping. She had forgotten--oh Lord, how had she forgotten--that she could touch other people. Her powers were gone. She could・feel. She shook herself. Now was not the time. Already, she could hear feet pounding on the floor above them. It wouldn't be long before Brian and his small army swooped down on their position, and as much as she enjoyed having her powers turned off, she wouldn't be much use in a fight without them. Be careful what you wish for, she told herself sternly. You might just get it.
"Logan," Rogue hissed, trying to get his attention. It worked, and he whipped up his head to look at her. Rogue clenched her jaw. He was close to the breaking point--she could see it in his eyes. The rage, that dangerous, blind, beserker rage, was beginning to simmer just below his skin. And the only person who could calm him, the only one who had ever been able to reach him in that madness, was too ashamed to look him in the eye.
He stared at Rogue for only a moment, and then in a one smooth gesture, stepped forward and swept Jubilee up into his arms. Rogue reluctantly let go of the girl's hand, and then moved into the hall, immediately forced to step over two unconscious men. Logan followed on her heels.
"Which way?" she asked, eyes darting down the richly furnished hallway.
Logan pointed with his chin, gesturing towards the left. "That's the way we came in."
"Then Brian will have already set guards," Jubilee said, stirring. Her voice was faint. "Go right."
Logan nodded curtly, and followed her instructions without the faintest hint of hesitation. He took the lead, and from her vantage point, Rogue could clearly see Jubilee's hands knot in fists around his neck and shirt collar. That girl's never going to let go of him again, she thought.
The sounds of running men grew louder, and they could hear shouting. It echoed all around them, and they were finally forced to dart into a small room. Rogue closed the door just in time--feet pounded on the floor an instant later. She was sure they would check their hiding place--open the door and expose them--but they didn't.
"Now what?" Rogue whispered, her heart thudding.
"We wait." Jubilee told her. She glanced up at Logan, who still cradled her in his arms. "What time is it, Wolvie?"
A muscle jumped in his face as she called him by his old nickname, and he swallowed heavily. "Near dawn--I don't know the time, darlin'."
Rogue moved away from them, pressing her ear against the door. She couldn't help but listen to their words, however.
"Darlin'," Logan whispered hoarsely, "Why didn't ya tell me? I woulda moved heaven an' earth ta get ya outta here."
"I know, Wolvie." Jubilee's voice was ragged with emotion. "I thought I could handle it--thought I could change Brian. And when I found out I couldn't, it was too late. I couldn't--I couldn't let ya see what I'd become."
There was a long moment of silence, and Rogue found herself holding her breath.
"Don't ever be afraid to come to me, girl," Logan's voice was low, urgent. "Never."
There was a flurry of movement outside the door. Rogue had been so intent on listening to Logan and Jubilee, she missed the approaching sound of soft footfall. She stumbled backwards away from the door, just as it exploded open from a fierce kick. Brian stood in the doorway, flanked by a large number of men.
"So, this is where you've been hiding," he said in a cool voice. His eyes flickered as they found Jubilee in Logan's arms. He smiled maliciously at the other man, and tilted his head.
"You know, she called out your name last night. She's done it before, and I've always wondered・she's never called out my name during our・sessions. I can see now that you two must be very close." The way he emphasized that last word made Rogue's skin crawl. She hadn't realized the ways in which a single person could make the English language sound so・sleazy.
Logan was bristling, and he set Jubilee down on her feet. She kept a restraining hand on his arm, but Rogue was certain it was going to take more than her touch for Logan to control his rage. This Brian had abused and tortured the one person Logan cared most about in the world, and there wasn't anything short of a miracle from God that was going to keep the Canadian from getting his piece of flesh.
He leapt forward, claws springing from his hands--and a barrage of bullets ripped into his body. The roar of the guns deafened Rogue, but she couldn't block her eyes. Blood spurted from Wolverine's chest, the impact of the bullets tearing flesh. Jubilee screamed, the sound a mixture of anguish and rage, and Rogue felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. She was barely aware of her own cry, and then she found herself springing forward, charging the men with guns. They weren't expecting an attack from her, and she was able to tackle several of them to the ground, just by using brute force and a few well-placed punches.
One of them grabbed her by the hair, pulling her head back until she could barely breathe. Straddling her back, another man pinned down her flailing arms. She could hear Jubilee sobbing brokenly, and the sound of someone taking shallow, bubbly breaths.
Brian chuckled, and Rogue could hear him stepping lightly towards his crying wife.
"So this is what it takes to finally break you."
Wolverine tried to growl, but the attempt only made him cough and cry out in pain. "Bub," he gasped finally. "I'm gonna gut ya fer that."
"Not before I gut you." Brian replied smoothly. Rogue found herself being pulled to her feet, and then several men were hauling her out into the hall. Brian's velvet voice floated out after them. "Play with her for as long as you want--but just make sure she's dead when you're finished."
Rogue gasped, eyes going wide.
And then there were hands touching her--oh Lord, they were touching her--but the feel of their fingers on her skin only made her want to scream.
Jubilee furtively pressed her hands onto Logan's wounds, trying to slow the bleeding. He had been shot so many times, and with the inhibitors still on, she knew that his healing factor wasn't working. Unless her plan kicked in very soon, there was every possibility that he would die. And there was nothing she could do to help him.
Don't think like that! she ordered herself. You've never given up on Wolvie.
No. She might have given up on herself, but never Wolverine. Not him. Not ever. And he--he had never given up on her. He had told as much with the look in his eyes.
She found those eyes--they were bright with pain and rage. She placed blood stained fingers on his cheeks, even as he struggled to rise. "Shhh," she told him. "I'll protect you."
She wanted to laugh out loud. Her? Protect him? Jubilee bit down on her bottom lip, tasting blood. All he needed was a little time until the inhibitors went off-line. Just a little more time, and he would be back on his feet. She heard the safety of a gun click off, and she smelled her husband's cologne. "So, honey, are you ready to see your mutie friend's face blown in?"
Jubilee slowly raised her eyes. For you, Wolvie, she whispered in her mind.
"Wouldn't you rather kill me first?"
Rogue swallowed a scream, trying to break free of the hands holding her down. She managed to plant a boot in one man's groin, and he fell back with a cry of pain. Her flush of triumph died quickly though, as one of his friends landed a punch in her stomach. She doubled over, gasping. Someone grabbed her hair, yanking her head back. Somewhere, in the fog of pain and fear, she heard a clock bell chiming.
"Pucker up, lady." Hot lips pressed against her mouth, and Rogue tried to push herself backwards. And froze.
Memories not her own were flooding her mind. Emotions, fear, desire--and strength. With a muffled scream of disgust and rage, Rogue flung back her arms. The men holding her slammed into the walls, limply sliding to the ground. The man kissing Rogue was beginning to fade; she had been in contact with him for too long. Rogue placed her arms against his chest, thrusting him away from her. He flew down the hall, hitting the ground with a sharp crack.
Rogue hovered in the air for a long moment, her chest heaving. She had never imagined she could feel so much relief to have her powers back. Struggling to control the personality of the man who had been kissing her--she wished there was a way to just scrub clean the inside of her mind--she suddenly remembered Logan and Jubilee. She was turning around to fly back to them, when she heard a gun shot ring out.
She raced around the corner, and stopped short of the open doorway to where she had last seen Jubilee and Logan. Brian lay in front of her. Smoke rose from his chest, and the smell of charred flesh came from the third degree burns covering his face. He was dead.
Rogue looked up, and found Logan struggling to rise. He was covered in blood, as was the tiny figure in his arms.
"Logan, is she・?"
He looked up at the sound of her voice, and grimly shook his head. "She took a shot to the shoulder, though."
Logan just nodded, cradling Jubilee. He pressed his fist against her shoulder, his face a mask of concentration. Rogue glanced down at the dead man below her, her gaze flickering back to the Jubilee.
Forget the X-Men's oath not to kill--there were some people who just deserved to die.
Rogue stepped back in shock as the wound where Logan had placed his fist laced up...healing, then the rest of her wounds. A small groan came from Jubilee. Logan's eyes snapped open.
"What'd'ya do to her Wolverine ?", Rogue said amazed.
"Healed her...got no idea how, just did...don't think I could do it with anyone else, just with her for some reason or another", he answered as her eyes fluttered open. They searched the room, and her gaze fell on Brian, Rogue, then Wolvie.
"Thank you", she whispered.
"Darlin, you ain't got nothin to thank me for. I'd do anything for you", he told her, the last traces of emotion coming to the surface.
"Can we go...", Jubilee asked.
"Yeah Darlin, we can go", Logan answered and scooped her up.
"I can walk", she told her suddenly. He laughed at her tone. Cross, and 'I can do it myself'. She blushed, realizing how she sounded, and he put her down.
She stayed close to him though, never leaving his side. Suddenly Sheila rushed in. "Miss Lee, there's a bunch of people wearing obscene, tight clothing outside! They demand someone let them in!" she exclaimed. Jubilee, Logan, and Rogue all burst out laughing at her description of the X-Men. Sadness mirrored Jubilee's laugh, but she was going to live, and Logan knew that he would help her heal.
Jubilee took a deep breath and walked out into the sunlight a free woman. "Jubes!", she heard one person exclaim.
"Paige!", she said, happy that her friend had finally joined the rank's of the X-Men. Paige enveloped her in a hug, as did the other X-Men. Jubilee looked down, astounded that all of her wounds were healed. Her eyes fluttered to Wolverine's. He shrugged. Jubilee felt so good, it had been so long since she had no wounds. She even felt the one in her heart begun to heal. All thanks to her best friend in the world. "I love you Logan", she whispered as they were hounded into the blackbird.
"Love ya too, Darlin." was the only answer. She held his hand tightly as they took off...heading back to Salem Center.