Jubilee was a bundle of nerves as she crouched quietly outside the closed study door. Eavesdropping on a conversation that included two telepaths was perhaps not the brightest idea she had ever had, but considering they were talking about her, she figured it was in her own best interest.
She could just barely make out Sean talking inside. "Emma and I are concerned about the lass. That's why we decided to bring her to the Mansion after we talked to ye on the phone earlier. The call did nothing to ease the lass's fear about Logan. She still insists he is in some kind 'o trouble. She has nae been sleeping well for the past week or more that we can determine and when she does sleep she has nightmares of Logan.
"I find it hard to believe that Jubilee would be upset by a bad dream."
Emma's crisp voice rose in her student's defense. "No, Scott, not *just* a bad dream. She fell asleep at the dinner table the other night and in the grip of her nightmare almost took out the dining room before we could subdue her."
"Aye, ye should have seen the look on the lass's face. She was terrified. Emma believes between the exhaustion and the sleep deprivation, that Jubilee's nae thinking straight right now."
Emma cut in smoothly, continuing the train of Sean's thought. "That is one of the reasons we brought her here. The Mansion is a safe place to Jubilee, she feels protected here. We also wish Hank to give her a complete check up."
"Jean, were you able to talk to Jubilee? Did she tell you anything?"
"As much as she would allow me to, Scott. I concur with Emma. Jubilee is very stressed right now and in an extremely fragile mental state. But I can find nothing that would cause this unreasoning fear that Logan is in trouble."
"Could he be in trouble? Could the lass know something?"
"It is unlikely, Sean, but we of all people should know how often the unlikely happens. To calm Jubilee, I did an astral search. I could detect no sense of any kind of trouble from Logan."
"What about Jubilee's desire to talk to Kitty?"
"I believe we should allow this. If she can see that Kitty is not experiencing any signs of distress we may be able to persuade her that these feelings of anxiety are being caused by the lack of sleep.
"I agree, she needs to talk to Kitty. However, I have a feeling that only Logan's return will ease her fears."
"Fine. Then we will leave Jubilee in your hands." Jubilee was surprised when she heard Emma pause, and then say with enough menace in her voice to freeze a cobra, "Take *care* of my student, Cyclops. I do not wish anything to happen to her."
Outside the door, Jubilee climbed to her feet. Ok, they didn't believe her. She didn't blame them much, at times, she wasn't sure she believed herself. But that didn't matter, she had a job to do and she was going to do it. They were going to let her talk to Kitty which was a step in the right direction. If Kitty was receiving bad dreams too, then the X-Men would have not choice but to go in search of Wolvie. If not, she thought grimly, then she was going to have to go after him herself.
"Jubilee are you sure you want to do this?" Jean asked.
"DUH! Like I got any choice in the matter," Jubilee answered as she dropped bonelessly into one of the Control Room chairs. Swinging one leg up over the side of the chair she leaned over the console and started punching numbers into the video com unit.
"Look," she said to the hovering Jean and Scott, "I can handle this on my own you know. I ain't gonna wig on Pryde or anything."
Scott tried again in his best concerned leader voice. Jubilee privately thought that Paige did it much better than he did. "Jubilee, we aren't concerned that you are going to "wig" but we are worried about your emotional well-being and your fixation on these dreams of yours. You have been suffering from insomnia. Lack of sleep and these nightmares when you do sleep could be impairing your judgment."
"Riiighttt! You're afraid I'm gonna wig." She knew the real reason that they were concerned though they didn't say anything. She and Pryde were rivals of a sort. Nothing ugly or rude but Pryde had come first. She was Wolvie's daughter of the heart. Wolvie himself had said so in her last dream. She knew that the other X-Men sometimes looked at her and compared them, but she couldn't seem to control the childish jealousy that Kitty inspired in her. She always felt like such an uncouth mall-rat compared to the polished and oh-so collected Kitty Pryde. However, deep down she knew that if Wolverine had decided to contact Kitty for help, that was fine with her, so long as he was safe.
The computer's voice acknowledgment of the connection to Muir Island interrupted her rambling thoughts. As the video screen cleared, the smiling blue-furred visage of Kurt Wagner, the leader of Excaliber filled the screen. Kurt was dressed for an evening at home in a loose fitting sweatsuit.
Jubilee decided that she really wasn't in the mood for small talk and decided to cut straight to the point. "Hey, Kurt. Can I speak to Kitty, please?"
"Sure Liebshen, let me go get her. This may take a minute, so hold on. I think I last saw her with Herr Wisdom."
Kitty strode quickly into the Muir Island Control Room a minute later. Behind her trailed a scruffy looking man dressed in a rumpled black suit puffing on a cigarette.
Kitty turned back towards the man, "Pete, that is ridiculous. He does not talk. Even if he did talk, why would he wait all these years just so he could go around insulting you in private."
The man gave her a disgusted looked as he took a drag on his cigarette. "I don't know why the bloody overgrown rat won't talk to you. But he does talk. And not only that, he steals me cigs."
He paused in the doorway of the room leaned casually against the frame. Lifting his cigarette and pointing it at Kitty he said, "And I'm going to catch him at it."
Taking another deep drag and blowing a ring of smoke into the room, he turned and disappeared out the door.
Kitty's profile on the video screen made it quite easy to see the love and affection in her face as she shook her head after the departing man and muttered just loud enough for the microphone to pick up, "Stupid, git."
Jubilee cleared her throat. As Kitty Pryde turned back towards the monitor, Jubilee felt the jealousy stab at her. She stumbled over her greeting, "Um, like hi."
"Hello, Jubilee. What can I do for you?" Kitty smiled.
Time to bite the bullet, she thought. "Ok. Like this is going to sound completely lame but have you had any weird dreams lately?"
"No, nothing strange."
Damn. Well, lets try another track. Trying to keep her voice light and casual she tried again. "Nothing where you are trapped or running or that involves Wolverine?"
"No." Kitty was beginning to look concerned. "Jubilee, what is the matter?"
Jubilee looked nervously back at Jean and Cyclops sitting across the room. She really wished that they would leave. She knew that they thought she was just overreacting to a few anxiety induced bad dreams. She knew she wasn't overreacting but she couldn't seem to convince anyone else of that fact. Their concerned insistence that they be here for this call to Kitty was beginning to annoy her.
She turned back to Kitty's image on the screen, "Nothing's the matter."
She heard Scott discreetly clear his throat behind her. She rolled her eyes. She was really beginning to understand why Wolvie complained that sometimes he had an overwhelming urge to punch Cyke in the nose. Oh yeah, she was definitely beginning to understand that urge.
"Ok, Pryde. Here it is. I think the Wolvster is in trouble. He has been gone for two weeks, no word to anyone."
Kitty smiled at Jubilee reassuringly. "That isn't anything to be concerned about. He's disappeared before, Jubilee, he can . . . "
Jubilee interrupted her before she could complete what she had heard way to many times of late. "I know he has vanished before and I know he can take care of himself. When I was with the X-Men," a faint smile touched her face as an image of a groaning Gen X team flashed through her mind, "I disappeared with him a couple of times myself," she finished with exasperation heavy in her voice. "But this time he is in trouble. I know it. So the big question is, have you heard from him?"
"No, I haven't. Jubilee, you are obviously worried but Logan IS well able to take care of himself. He has been doing this sort of thing for longer than most of us have been alive. Has Jean or any of the other telepaths picked up anything wrong from Logan?"
She would bring that up. It was the one doubt she had. She couldn't explain why none of the team telepaths had detected Wolvie's distress call and she had. "No, neither Jean or Betsy have picked anything up."
"Has he been gone longer than any other time he has disappeared? Has he missed the time when he said he would be back?"
"Well, no, not exactly."
Kitty sighed and looked out from the screen with sympathy in her eyes. "Jubilee, I know you care for Logan a lot, so do I, but you have never shown any powers of telepathy, precognition, or even empathy. Why do you think you all of sudden feel Logan is in trouble?"
Jubilee hated the sympathy and concern in Kitty's eyes, hated the way Cyclops out of the corner of her eye was nodding his head in agreement with Kitty. How was she going to explain. She wasn't really sure herself. It was a feeling, gut instinct, the kind that Wolvie had taught her to believe in. She just knew . . .because. Looking into Kitty's earnest face, comprehension of just what Wolvie had been trying to tell her last night hit Jubilee.
The anger and jealously that always stole over her when someone mentioned Logan's previous relationship with Kitty Pryde vanished. The new knowledge was like wildfire through her veins. She almost laughed out loud with the awareness. Yeah, Pryde knew the Wolvster longer, maybe in some ways, she even knew him better but she saw him as a child, a daughter, sees her father. She remembered the pride in Logan's voice when he spoke of Kitty. He was her mentor, teacher and father figure when an adolescent Kitty Pryde needed the stability of a man in her life. He was her rescuer. She thought about the history in the X-Men Archives about Kitty and Logan and Logan's old teacher Ogun. Kitty needed Logan to rescue her, but Jubilee had rescued Logan.
For Kitty, Logan would always be that invincible rescuer. The man who saved her from Ogun and taught her to use her strengths and skills. In Kitty's mind, Logan was invincible. He had come through wars, the Weapon X program, Juggernaut, alien empires, the loss of his adamantium and even his own dark nature. For Kitty there was nothing that Logan couldn't handle.
But Jubilee didn't need, and more importantly didn't want, an invincible father and she knew all about Logan's weaknesses. Hell, she'd met him when he was nailed to a cross and dying in the middle of the Australian Outback. In that instance, she realized that she wasn't Logan's pseudo-daughter, wasn't some imitation of Pryde as she had often worried about being. The relationship was different from the beginning. She felt the exultation race through her as the realization crystallized on that one all important fact. She wasn't an imitation of Kitty Pryde, she wasn't his daughter, wasn't just a teammate, she was Wolverine's partner. And his relationship with her was unlike his relationship with anyone else, even the other X-Men. Logan trusted them with his life, but he trusted her with his soul. She was the one he let his guard down with. She was his partner.
She had a terrible feeling that somewhere, somehow, he was dying again. He needed her and she was going to go help him, with or without the X-Men's assistance.
Her mind whirling she knew what she had to do. It was time to play dumb. In the end it was ridiculously easy to fool everyone since they were so bent on convincing her that she was just suffering from sleep deprivation, that she had finally realized the error she was making. If Logan had been around to see the sweetly innocent act she put on, he would have been extremely suspicious considering he had never known Jubilee to be overly accommodating in anything she did but without him, the charade was complete.
Later that evening she had her strategy. She felt better now that she had a plan and a course of action to follow. She hadn't decided yet if it was the right plan but anything at this point was better than nothing. At least everything with Jean and Scott had been taken care of. She had spent the rest of the afternoon convincing them, that Kitty had convinced her, that Logan was safe and sound somewhere drinking a beer and smoking a cigar. Now it was time to put Phase II into action.
She stood for several minutes just staring at the wooden grain in the door panels. She remembered making the gouge in the doorframe from rollerblading. The memory of the lecture she had gotten from both the Professor and Cyke about rollerblading in the house made her smile. They just couldn't understand her logic of the situation. Falling on the carpet in the hallway was way more comfortable than falling on the asphalt of the driveway. They never did see her point in that one.
She was procrastinating and knew it. Better get it over with. It wasn't like she hadn't thought about this choice very carefully, and in her mind at least, decided on the best person. She just hoped he saw it that way.
She'd never actually been in his room before. After a quick look she decided it suited him. The black iron and brass bed dominated the room while the other furniture in the room was well oiled antique oak and pine. Tasteful, elegant and very masculine. The only light came from a bedside table, which cast his face in light but created shadows throughout the rest of the room. That to seemed to be right for this particular X-Man whose own past was shrouded in shadows.
He was lounged back on the bed, propped up on some pillows like some godling lounging on his throne. The black silk of the sheets gleaming richly in the lights and showing up in stark contrast to the lean hardness of the rest of him. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans with his bare feet crossed at the ankles and she could see where his shirt was tossed carelessly across the end of the bed. He looked the perfect picture of ease, indulgence and relaxation. She knew it for the sham that it was. She had fought too many times by his side, seen his lightening fast reflexes in one to many Danger Room sessions. The tension in his body was like a tightly wound spring, just waiting for the right . . . or the wrong . . . movement to set it off. For a split second he caught and held her eyes, sending the small hairs on the back of her neck straight up. Dangerous it screamed, then it was gone.
She blinked, the thought running through her mind that Rogue was a blithering idiot to run from this man to that amnesiac Magneto wannabe, Joseph. Definitely an idiot.
Giving herself a mental shake, ok, back to reality, Jubes. "Hey, Gumbo."
"So, cherie, what bring you to Gambit's room dis evenin'. Beginning to tink you gonna stand in de hallway all night."
"Didn't think your proximity sense extended out that far."
He flashed that wide grin of his and shrugged one shoulder. "Dat's what training's for, non?"
She paced around to the side of the bed and sat in a overstuffed wingback chair against the wall. She was back up almost immediately to take a few steps back towards the bed. She was fidgeting, knew she was doing it and hated herself for it but she couldn't seem to stand still. Her nervous energy was expressing itself in her pacing and the incessant popping of her gum.
Remy, for his part, was content to just sit back and watch her with merriment in his eyes. He knew that whatever was eating at Jubilee had to be good to make this usually blunt and straightforward young woman this nervous. He quickly hid his grin as she glanced up at him from under her bangs.
Taking a deep breath she began. "I got like . . um . . . a mondo favor to ask you."
He gave a small sigh, he should have known. "Petite, dis more of your 'Logan's in trouble' stuff?"
"Look, Gumbo, I know all the arguments. Jean and Cyke and Emma and Sean have all expounded at great length that Wolvie can take care of himself. Even Pryde told me." The frustration of the last couple of days making her voice rise with every sentence. She took a deep breath to calm herself down.
She started again, once more in control. "I know he can take care of himself. Trust me on this one, I know. But Gambit, I also know, like deep down on some out there cosmic plane, he's in trouble. I can't let that go. I gotta go see for myself."
"So what you need da Cajun for, hmmm?"
"I'm not like totally stupid. When I was running with Wolvie, it wasn't all fun and games."
At Gambit's snort of understatement, she stopped to look at him, hands firmly planted at her hips. "Ahem."
"Sorry, `tite, please. . ." He gestured for her to continue while trying hard to suppress the grin that threatened to overwhelm him.
She gave him one more hard look and went back to her pacing. "Like I was saying, he made sure I knew a few things. Namely that the cavalry can't arrive if they don't know where you are."
"You need dis `ol Cajun to play Cavalry?" the amusement now plain to hear in his voice.
Against his better judgment he was curious. "How?"
She had him now. She could see his interest in the way he was leaning forward on the bed and facing more in her direction. Now all she had to do was to get him to agree.
"Like I said, I ain't stupid. Figured I would take one of the tracer beacons. Wolvie's in Madjipoor. I go, I ask a few discreet questions, and find him. When I find Wolvie, if he is ok, then I get grounded for life and have to sit through another of Cyke's lectures plus bonus lectures from Frosty and Banshee. If he is in trouble, then I hit the beacon and the good guys come running. But I need someone on this end who'll keep an eye on the computers for my signal."
"What makes you tink dat Logan be in Madjipoor?"
Glancing down at her tennis shoes, she mumbled something under her breath.
"What was that?"
Making a small face she said again, "I got my sources."
"Jubilee . . . ." The warning edge plain in his voice.
"Oh, all right. He booked the flight using a credit card set up in one of his fake accounts. I called the card company, told them my card disappeared for a few days and someone found it and returned it and I wanted to make sure no one had put any unauthorized charges on my account." She grinned impudently at the Cajun, "They were most helpful."
Gambit had to give her points for her thoroughness. She had done her background work on this one. Hell, he thought, even Cyclops would have been proud. At least at her planning, if not exactly at what she was planning to do. It seemed she had been listening to all those lectures on being prepared and not rushing into a situation blind. "Dat only tell you where Logan go. What you do `bout Banshee and de Queen?"
"Got that one covered. I've got an invite to stay awhile. Gonna send back a message saying that I've been invited to stay a few days longer and chum with my old pals. Considering everyone thinks I'm bonkers they'll believe that Jean and Scott want to keep an eye on me. Course, if they call to check up on me, I need someone here to tell them I'm having a wonderful time and miss everyone terribly. Fearless Leader and Jean get the opposite. I've already convinced them that I now understand that Logan is fine. Now I just explain that I am totally wiped and I'm headed back to school."
"Why me, cherie?"
She began ticking off points on her fingers. "Well, for obvious reasons, Cyke and Jean are out." She moved to the next finger. "Hank, I think would understand why I gotta go, but big blue can't lie or keep a secret. He always ends up smiling and giving it away." She pulled back on her middle finger. "Guthrie? Oh please. Moving along we have Bishop. He thinks I'm dreaming the whole thing and our resident southern belle tends to think I can't take care of myself." She held up her hand, fingers spread and wiggled them at Gambit. "As for Joeneto. . . he don't count. I don't care if his memories got wiped, I still don't trust him." She concluded softly, "Which leaves you."
"And you t'ink you can trust me?" The range of emotion behind that simple question making his voice rough. "Why you trust me, when even some of de X-men, don'? Ain't the whole story, `tite. Why me?"
She looked into his eyes. Red on black. Demon eyes. But no demon ever had that combination of hope and fear in them. Jubilee was good at spotting pain and fear in others. She'd had enough in her own young life to recognize the defenses in others. So she decided to go for the truth, or as close to the truth as she herself was comfortable dealing with. "Cause somewhere in your past Gumbo something really bitchin' happened. There's a hole in your soul that ain't ever gonna go away. Just like me. Only sometimes, you find something or someone who makes it better. Makes you complete-like. You realize that there's something or someone gives you a reason to be a better person than you were before. And if it comes down to it, you'd move Heaven or Hell to keep that feeling. When Wolvie's at my back, I ain't afraid of *nothing.* And you do understand that, Gumbo, cause I've seen your eyes when you look at Rogue and when you stand together with the X-Men."
Tension hung as thick and heavy as the shadows that enshrouded the room.
She tried again, "I gotta go."
He sighed. She knew she had won.
"You'll do it?"
"Oui. Better go pack."
Throwing herself against him, she gave him a big bear hug. "Gumbo. . . Remy . . .thanks."
He pushed her back far enough to look down into her dancing eyes. His own were somber. "Just come back in one piece, `tite. Gambit hate to have to explain dis one to Scott."