To the Gallows Foot and After: Part 4

by Melissa Nolen


APOLOGIES: My apologies for taking so long with Part IV. For some reason I just couldn't stop making changes to it. For those of you reading this, you can thank Mirage for giving me a kick in the pants to go ahead and post it. Part V should be close behind.

SPECIAL THANKS: This first part is dedicated to Link, who quite correctly pointed out that Gambit capitulated to Jubilee's request way to quickly. I mean, you just don't let a 15 yr old girl run off, by herself, to one of the most dangerous port cities in Marveldom without feeling a twinge or two of unease. Thanks Link.

On with the story . . . .

He stood awkwardly with her outside the gate. The two of them seemingly alone, lost in the humanity thronging the airport gate, everyone hurrying and indifferent to one small girl and the tense looking man in the trenchcoat who stood at her side. The girl stood relaxed, sure of herself. The man looked uneasy, his agitation easy to read in the tightness of his shoulders and the nervous movement of his fingers as he shuffled a deck of cards in his hands.

"Jubilee, Gambit beginning to think dat dis is maybe not such a good idea."

"Ya can't stop me now, Gumbo."

He sighed, seeing the determined set of her small chin. "Cherie, you young and Madjipoor be a dangerous place. Gambit's not saying dat you can't go, but maybe I come along. Keep you out of trouble."



"Remy, I appreciate the offer but I have to do this. Besides, I've been on my own before, I can take care of myself."

"Don't doubt dat you can take care of yourself. I just have to 'member how you talked me into this craziness to know dat, but 'tite, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have a little help, just in case Logan really be in trouble."

"I understand, but it ain't necessary. I got it covered. Look, I'll call you when I get to the Princess and get the room. Tell ya what, I'll call every night. If ya don't get my call, you can come running. Ok?"

"I still don' like it."

"I'll be fine."

"You got your passport?"


"Credit card?"



"Bribe city."


She patted the unusual star-shaped "necklace" she wore. "Right here. Thanks for the lift to the airport. The bike rocks. I miss riding with Wolvie."


"That's me. Gotta go."

"Be careful, Jubilee."

"I will."

"And call me."

"Sheesh, I'll call, I'll call. You missed your calling as a mother hen. Yer tough macho image is blown forever." Grabbing up the backpack from her feet she headed down the walkway; turning to wave one last time before she disappeared around the corner.

Gambit gave one last decisive shuffle to the cards in his hands before making them disappear into a pocket of his coat. Turning on his heels, he headed into the crowd. No one heard him mutter under his breath, "Mon dieu, Logan is goin' ta kill me."


She was hacked. She knew this little toad of a man from some of the other times that she had been in Madjipoor. He was slimy, untrustworthy and had sources of information that would make the CIA and S.H.I.E.L.D green with envy. And anytime she had to get within 5 feet of him, she always felt like she needed a shower. But right now, Roach was the best source of information she had and she had worked with him in the past with Logan so he knew her. That he would be the stumbling block between her and Logan after the almost too easy trip from La Guardia Airport to Madjipoor was more than she was willing to put up with. The bartender/hotel keep at the Princess Bar hadn't even given her a hard time when she asked for a key to Logan's regular room over the bar. He had simply nodded his head in greeting and recognition at her as he tossed her the key.

"Look, Roach cut the `tude with me. I need some info and you are the broker."

He smiled greasily at her, "I do not deal with children."

Her gaze narrowed, children, huh, I'll show him children. If he wanted to play the game that way, it was fine by her. She was more than willing to play at this point. She smiled a particularly nasty smile as she thought of how the Wolvster would handled this dweeb. Well, she thought, I did learn from the best.

With no warning of her intent she launched herself at the greasy man. It was a beautiful flying tackle; Wolvie would have been proud. When the dust cleared he was pined to the floor still sitting in his chair, legs up in the air. Jubilee knelt on his bony chest with fingers pointed on either side of his head. She very carefully shot streams of plasma onto the dirty floorboards on either side of his head.

"I wouldn't move, dude," she grinned toothily down at him. "Looks like half an inch in either direction and you're likely to lose an ear. Nasty!" Her demeanor turned serious, "Now, let's start again. I need some information. You have the information. I pay. You take the money. Everyone goes away happy. Yes?"

Stammering out a shaky yes, Roach fearfully eyed the burning sparks of plasma that dripped down beside his head. He could feel the heat and smell the acrid smoke from where stray sparks had singed his hair. Looking up into the wild eyes hanging above him he could only think that this lunatic child was definitely a friend of that psycho nut, Patch. He was almost tempted to send her the information free of charge just to get her out of his office before she brought the whole place down. Damn muties, always messing with a man's livelihood.


Ok, this was stupid. She knew that. She could hear the lecture begin in her head from Emma Frost and Sean Cassidy. When they left off and faded away, Scott Summers and Jean Grey picked it up. But they were nothing to the lecture that Logan started up in her head. Logan, had never pulled any punches with her, never been anything other than himself. And this particular lecture was pure Wolverine. She made herself blush it was so realistic.

"I know Wolvster, but what else could I do?," she asked the mental image.

The Wolverine pacing in her mind, heaved a great sigh, and pulled a deep drag on his cigar, "I know kid, just remember what I've taught ya, and stay on yer toes."

"As if," she replied around the nervous popping of her gum.

An hour later, the knock came on the door. She took a deep breath and readied herself for the fight that it could well turn into. Logan, or Patch as he was known as here in Madjipoor, had as many allies as he had enemies and to complicate it even further she was positive that half of his now allies had been enemies at one time or another. She was counting on those same allies to remember her from her time running with Logan before they had met back up with the other X-Men, and on those occasions when she played sidekick when he went off on his extended excursions.

So far, she had not been seriously hassled as she poked around the sprawling district that held the dregs of Madjipoor・s society. She was sure that the information she had been able to gather so far was due in large part to the respect and fear that the local denizens held for Logan. She grinned as she remembered Roach and thought maybe just a little bit of fear and respect for her too. News traveled fast on the darker side of society and she had already caught mutterings about ・Patch・s crazy Chinese girl.・ She was hoping that this last bit of information she was waiting on would give her the clue she needed to find Wolvie. She didn・t know exactly what was going one but it was certain now that whatever it was, Wolverine was definitely in trouble. She just hoped that she wouldn・t be to late.

The knock came a second time.

"Come in."

Nothing happened. She waited. The thick envelope that came sliding under the door startled her in its ordinariness.

"Geez, Lee, get a grip. It's just an envelope." Nonetheless, she sat down quietly on the other side of the small room to watch for the next thirty minutes while listening intently to every creak and footstep that passed outside her closed door. It didn't even occur to her that her still wait would have startled all of her teammates. None of them would have made bets on Jubilation Lee sitting perfectly still and quiet for that long a period. Wolverine, however, would not have been surprised. He, after all, had been her teacher.

After thirty minutes of quiet, with nothing more exciting happening that a particularly bold cockroach walking across the floorboards, she slowly got to her feet. Walking over to the parcel she gently nudged it with one boot. Nothing. Giving a small sigh of patience stretch to the limits, she pulled on her gloves (remembering Wolvie's story about some pissed off ninja acquaintance with a fondness for poisons) and reached for the manila envelope.

"Better paranoid and silly than dead," she murmured to herself as she unfolded the paper.

The note was in a masculine hand, block printed and to the point.




She was getting a cramp in her thigh from crouching so long. She tried to shift her weight over to help relieve the strained muscle. She was not good at the hide and skulk stuff and she was having a terrible time controlling her temper right now. Her mind kept screaming at her to jump down from the catwalk where she rested to rescue the man bound below her. But still she sat, carefully hoarding the rage that burned within her for the moment when the battle would truly be joined. It wouldn't be far away now.

The wait was going to kill her though. Bad enough doing the cloak and dagger stuff to get to the warehouse district. Patience was not a Jubilation Lee strong suit, she was more the scream and jump school of combat, but for Wolverine's sake she planned and thought this one through. Now that she knew Logan was in trouble, she couldn't do him any good if she got herself caught.

But the scene happening below her was almost enough for her to blow the whole plan. Logan's body was tied down securely to a broad metal gurney, the arm and leg cuffs so tight that even from her vantage point in the roof struts, Jubilee could see them biting into his wrists and ankles. The continuous IV drip connected to his arm explained his lack of fight. She figured they were pumping him full of some kind of sedative to keep him quiet.

A strange wizened-looking old man was attending the equipment. Muttering to himself in a high sing-song voice that made her skin crawl, he shuffled back and forth between Wolvie and the banks of equipment lining the walls. She didn't even have to see his eyes to know that the old dude was quite insane.

"I'm going to enjoy this body of yours, Mr. Logan. This one I have now is quite old, but it has swerved its purpose very well. Yes, very nice. I've waited a long time to catch you in my little trap. So long. I'm going to enjoy having a healing factor, and if it truly slows the aging process then you and I are going to be together for a very, very long time." Jubilee started to shake as she finally understood what was happening below her.

Oh my god, oh my god. What was she going to do. She clenched her hands tight, digging her nails into the palms of her hands, focusing on the pain rather than the panic that was assailing her. She was an idiot. Oh, god, she was a fool. She had been so sure of herself. She should have taken Gambit up on his offer to come with her. Now Wolverine was going to be possessed by the junior Shadow King below her and she didn't know how to stop it. She closed her fingers about the tracer beacon at her throat and set a prayer heavenward that the X-Men would get here soon.

Checking the IV, the man ran his hand possessively along one of Logan's thickly muscled arms. "We are almost ready, almost done. You've put up a good fight, you know, but you never really had a chance. I've been doing this for centuries you know."

He giggled then, sending a shiver up Jubilee's spine. "But it didn't do you any good did it, Mr. Logan. Fight all you want. I've mapped your body and your mind now, and soon, soon, Mr. Logan, you'll be all mine."

A large man entered the warehouse doors calling loudly. "Weston! Weston, ya in here?"

"I am here," the old man below her called out.

The man came forward out of the shadows of the warehouse into the light. Jubilee's studied him. If she was going to get Wolvie out here, she better know who her fight was going to be with. What she saw didn't give her much encouragement. The man was big. Solid looking muscles covered his chest and shoulders, tendons cording thickly down his arms to end in square blunt-fingered hands. Even from her perch she could see the network of scars that criss-crossed his arms.

"When are ya goin' to be ready, old man. We've been here too long. I ain't got a good feeling about this. There is talk on the streets that there is someone here looking for him.・

Weston cut suddenly sharp eyes in his companion's direction, making the larger man squirm beneath his stare. "I am paying you enough that you will stay until I say we are finished."

The other man looked over to the bound body on the table next to him, an expression of distaste and no little worry on his face. "Look, Weston, I've heard of his guy. He ain't nuthing you want to be messing with. And he has dangerous friends."

"His friends don't matter. Not anymore. My preparations are complete. He is coming off the drugs I have been feeding him even now. I will possess his body, and this one," he said, holding up his feeble arms, ・can fall to dust. Tonight, his body becomes mine."

"Ya better hope so, old man. 'Cause if yer wrong," he said, jerking a thumb in the direction of the unconscious Wolverine, "he's gonna kill ya."

At her perch, Jubilee whispered fiercely to herself, "Not if I do it first."