Special thanks once again to Karen and her alter ego Deanna for beta reading. I am the worst about punctuation errors.
Minor Disclaimer: The 2x4 comment isn・t mine.
I swiped it from JMS.
Except for the bruises, she looked much like the Jubilee of old but for the something that lurked in the back of her eyes that made him uneasy, the same uneasiness that always affected him when he looked Logan in the eye. Giving himself a mental shake, he sternly told himself to stop being silly. Jubilee was no threat. Clearing his throat, he called the meeting to order.
・Jubilee, are you sure that you are up for this?・
・Hey, 28 hours of sleep with not a single bad dream and I・m as good as new. Just ask the Hankster.・
・Very well. We will skip how you *got* to Madripoor for now,・ Scott said, cutting a hard stare towards Gambit, who had the grace at least to look contrite. ・What we are most concerned with right now is what was going on in Madripoor and what happened to Logan?・
・How・s he doing?・
Hank answered her question, ・Currently, Logan is still sedated and in the MedLab. He was most uncooperative.・
To the others at the table, Jubilee seemed to loose her focus for a minute, to turn inward and then she gave a quick nod, as if in answer to a question only she heard. ・Yeah, Hank, probably best you keep him sedated.・
・So Jubilee, can you tell us what happened?・
・Hmm, guess the best thing to do would be to back up and start at the beginning. You guys already know about the nightmares I was having about Wolvie. I told ya he was in trouble.・ She couldn・t help nor hide the small hint of I-told-you-so that crept into her voice at her last statement. ・Well, once I found him in Madripoor, I went after him. With a little assistance,・ she added, flashing Gambit a big smile, much to Scott・s annoyance. ・Finding Wolvie in Madripoor wasn・t so tough, ・cause most remembered me and Wolvie. I mean, the Wolvster got one big, bad rep over there. That helped bunches. He was being held by a nutball named Weston and some of his goons. Weston・s the body snatcher that・s got Wolvie right now. He・s some kind of mutant who jumps between one body and another; heard him talking ・bout how he・d been doing his body stealing act for centuries.
・So the consciousness I touched in Wolverine・s mind was this Weston?・
・Ya got it Jean.・
・I have fought the Shadow King・s possession before, it shouldn・t be to difficult to dislodge this Weston from his hold on Logan・s body.・
・Hmm, Jean, it ain・t that easy.・
・What do you mean, Jubilee?・
・Weston ain・t just a junior Shadow King, he takes people over completely ・ as in, you just got evicted.・
・Goddess, if that・s true, then Logan・s gone,・ Ororo exclaimed.
・Not exactly, Storm.・
Jean, struggling with her own intense sense of shock and loss, tried to keep her voice steady as she sought to explain the situation to Jubilee. It was obvious from Jubilee unconcerned attitude that she did not fully comprehend the situation. ・Jubilee, if Logan・s consciousness, his soul, was forced out from his body, with nowhere to go, he would . . . he would have died.・
・He had somewhere to go.・
・But Weston is in possession of Logan・s body.・
Jubilee grinned then, a big, wide ear-to-ear grin. ・And I・m in possession of Wolvie.・ She made a funny face then, her eyebrows drawn together in puzzled frown, ・Or is that he・s in possession of me?・
When the yelling finally stopped, Jubilee sat in the midst of the chaos her bombshell had created with a delighted smile on her face.
*You enjoyed that.*
*Darn right I did. Did you see the look on Cyke・s face? It was priceless.*
・I was asking you a question, you didn・t seem to hear me.・
・Sorry. Got distracted.・
・Jubilee, are you trying to tell me that Logan is . . .・
She raised one hand and gently thumped herself in the temple. ・Yep, right up here in the ole noggin. Kewl, huh?・
・Jean, is that possible?・
・I - I・m not sure. Jubilee, what exactly happened?・
"Well, according to the Wolvster, . . ."
・Hold on a minute, you can hear him? Talk to him?・
・Sure, I told you, he・s in my head.・
・So like I was saying, Wolvie says he went to Madripoor to meet Tyger Tiger who had some information she thought he might be interested in. Everything was uneventful like and . . ."
Jubilee suddenly stopped talking, her eyes growing round and huge in her face. "Ewwww Wolvie, how could you? Tyger Tiger - ewww!" She stopped and then if anything her eyes seemed to widen even more. "Oh! So that's how you . . ." She cut off abruptly and started to giggle, soon she was giggling uncontrollably.
*Get yer blasted eyes closed and get out of those memories.*
She tried, she really did but she couldn・t help it. It was like trying not to think of something. The harder you tried not to think, the more insistent the memory became. And she was getting an eyeful, as the mention of Tyger Tiger set off a chain reaction of Logan's memories.
She was now laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her cheeks and Logan was growling out a set of curses in what sounded like several different language. She could see that the others at the table were getting concerned but she was laughing to hard to do anything but wave feebly at them.
As Logan finally got the memories under control and she was no longer "seeing" his recent meeting or his past relationship with the tall exotic woman, she was able to gasp out, ・Ooh . . .I・m ok . . .really . . .just a small memory glitch. . . don・t mind me.・
Finally getting control of herself, she reached up to wipe the tears from her cheeks. Looking around the table, she saw the curiosity and concern on her fellow X-Men's faces; on everyone's face except Gambit's she noticed. He was leaning back in his chair with a faint smile playing about his lips and the look in his eyes of someone replaying a particularly delightful memory of his own.
She looked over at him, ignoring the others at the table, "Oh no, not you too Gumbo?" for having seen Logan's memories, she knew exactly what the former Master Thief was remembering.
"Oh cherie, it was in my younger and wilder days. But you "tite, I don' tink you quite old enough for dose `ticular memories."
She blushed, then grinned devilishly at the Cajun, "Gumbo, I know old ladies that aren't old enough for 'dose `ticular memories.'"
She stopped still for a moment, her eyes focusing inward on something the rest of them couldn't see. Oblivious to everyone in the room, she and Logan had an internal conference.
・Hold on Scott, I・m sensing some kind of change going on in Jubilee.・
Jean mentally reached out to do a light scan. She was as familiar with Jubilee and Logan・s psychic signatures as she was with her own, but what was revealed to her mind・s eye now, was like nothing she had ever seen before. Jubilee・s psychic signature normally was a chaotic mix of cool blues and greens shot through with lightening bolt streaks of silver and purple; Logan・s was his usual red and gold with darker shadows mixed within, showing only to clearly the darkness he struggled with every day of his life. It was quite clear that Jubilee was correct, she and Logan were both currently sharing Jubilee・s mind and body. But the pattern of that sharing was the most unusual arrangement Jean had ever seen. She wished for a moment that the Professor or Betsy were here to give her a second opinion on what she was looking at. For unlike other possessions she had seen, neither signature was dominating the other. They were counterbalancing each other, equally mixed together and yet still separate like a psychic yin-yang symbol; a perfect balance.
She watched as the combined signatures shifted and twisted and she knew the precise moment when Jubilee gave up command of her body and Logan took over. Blinking to clear her vision she refocused on the physical form of Jubilee and watched the outward manifestation of Logan・s takeover.
Before the assembled group, Jubilee・s posture was changing. Her boneless slouch was replaced by a tensed, hunched over perch on her edge of her chair. Her face lost the animated delight that so thoroughly marked her character, a dark frown replacing the expression on her face. If there were any doubts that Wolverine was inhabiting Jubilee・s body, those doubts were laid to rest.
Jubilee suddenly blinked, her face settling into a scowl as Logan took complete control.
"Ok," she growled, her voice pitched noticeably deeper, "let's try this again."
The others had sat stunned as the transformation took place before them. Storm, sitting next to Jubilee, tried hard to suppress the involuntary shudder that went though her as she remembered her own possession by the Shadow King. She still woke up screaming occasionally from nightmares of that possession. She did not understand how the child could be so flip about this experience.
Clamping her own iron will down on her revulsion, she asked the question they were all thinking, ・Logan?・
・Yeah, ・Ro, it・s me.・
・Oh, my stars and garters.・ Beast had climbed up out of his chair to perch precariously on its edge, his stare full of amazement and overwhelming curiosity.
Jubilee shook her head and emitted a convincing replica of Logan・s growl. ・Shoulda never let the kid start the debriefing anyway.・
*Hey, what・s that supposed to mean?* came the indignant voice in the back of his mind.
There was a little general shuffling as they settled themselves with thinking that this was now Logan sitting in front of them instead of Jubilee.
・Logan, what happened?・ asked Scott as he attempted to get the meeting back on track.
・The kid started it right, I went to see Tyger about some info she had for me. After meetin・ her I was getting ready to come home.・ Shaking his head in obvious disgust, he continued, ・That・s when I got careless and got jumped. Ended up in the warehouse that the kid eventually found me in. When I woke up I was hogtied to a table with an IV drip in my arm. Don・t remember much after that. What I got from Weston was through a haze of drugs. The only times I wasn・t completely under was when he was doing what he called mapping. He mentioned once that he had to go slow and map his entrance into my body and mind for a complete takeover. But I don・t remember much from those sessions. I was fightin・ the drugs and the pain most of the time.・
・De question remains t・ough, if dis Weston had Logan drugged, how he contact Jubilee wit de dreams?・
・Logan, do you know how you did that?・ Jean asked.
Shaking his head he answered, "Not sure about that one myself, Red. The only thing I remember is struggling towards consciousness, lotsa pain and then getting pushed out into blackness.・
"No, Logan, not blackness. I think I・m beginning to understand. I suspect that you were pushed to the astral plane. In your astral form you would have been able to contact Jubilee but neither of you being a psi, you wouldn't have been able to communicate directly. Your contact was on a much more basic and deeper level - Jubilee's dreams. The question Logan, is why didn't you come to myself or Betsy?"
"To tell ya the truth, I don't remember going to the kid. As for the rescue itself, I figured it was over for me. I'd made my peace with the universe and said my goodbyes when I smelled the kid in the warehouse. Next thing I know she's screaming like Banshee and there's this awful exploding pain in my head. I wake up and I'm here." Spreading his hands he indicated Jubilee's body.
A distracted look crossed his face as he turned inward, "Wait a minute. . ."
The expressions moving across Jubilee's face showed the internal dialogue going on in her head. Her eyes cleared as Logan resumed, "Kid tells me that when she busted up the party, the transfer had already taken place and that she felt me dying. She insists that she made me possess her. That's when she passed out."
A startled expression crossed Jean's face as she bit at her lip in sudden concentration. "A willing possession, that could explain it. Let me think on this for a minute."
Scott took back up the questioning. "Logan, it was obvious that Jubilee burned the warehouse but how did she capture Weston?"
Logan shifted uncomfortably in the chair, then with a slightly sheepish look on his face said, "Ain't my story to tell." Then he was gone and Jubilee was once again looking out of her eyes.
Twisting around in her seat until she was comfortable, she fidgeting until Scott asked, "Well Jubilee?"
She blushed, to the amusement of Sam, who had wisely decided to stay quiet through the meeting. He didn・t think he could ever remember seeing or hearing of a time when the sometimes overly confident Jubilee was discomfited, but it did seem that she was having a little difficulty in her explanation.
"It was an accident,・ Jubilee finally answered, ・I think.・
"What was an accident?"
"Well, see, after I woke up y・know, we had to go after Weston and Wolvie・s body. We caught up with ・em outside of the warehouse and I jumped them. Only it wasn・t just me. Well, I mean it was me but it was Wolvie, too. I was like pulling things from the Wolvster's memories, knowledge and stuff, using his memories to fight. I was way tired and in pain and it was just natural, ya know; using what was in my head. So really, I didn't have any control. It just sort of happened."
Beast, sensing her agitation, asked gently, "What exactly happened Jubilee?"
"Well, Weston popped Wolvie's claws and I was trying to get away, but then I was hit and went down and he charged and I・m thinking, like, I・m toast. I was searching Wolvie's memories for a way out but coming up blank and then Weston was on top of me and . . . and . . .・
"And?" Beast asked again.
Jubilee looked around the table at the faces around her; Storm・s uneasy, Sam・s expectant, Hank positively glowing with curiosity, Rogue, Remy and Jean, all looking supportive, and Scott trying his leader best to look stern and unflappable even in the face of this weirdness. She had wondered exactly how she was going to show them this next part.
Reaching out across the table she waited until everyone・s attention was on her outstretched hands. Reaching into the part of her that touched Wolverine she focused and her claws sprang into existence.
Hank, his eyes round in fascination, leaned forward to get a better look at the twisting plasmoid shafts sprouting from the back of Jubilee's hands. Glancing up at Jubilee he asked, "Am I correct in postulating that these are a manifestation of Logan's claws using your powers?"
Jubilee reached again, and with a faint audible "pop" the claws disappeared.
Hank reached for one of Jubilee's hands to examine the back, running one blue-furred finger over the unblemished skin behind her knuckles. "Amazing, especially when taking into account Jubilee's mutant power. She should be suffering at least 3rd degree burns. How's your control? Do you switch between the normal use of your abilities and the claws?"
"Nope, Blue. The pafs are independent of the claws. I don't have to turn one off to use the other. Control is kind of weird though. It's like when I use Wolvie's memories, I use the claws. When I fight like me, I'm throwing sparks.・
Hank looked thoughtful for a moment at the mention of Wolverine's memories. "Jubilee, what kind of access do you have to Logan's memories?"
She shook her head, trying to come up with the words to express the inexpressible. ・I don・t really see most of his memories.・ She grinned widely and then added, ・unless something happens to set one off, that is. It・s more like we・re separate but sharing the same head. I get what he knows, but it・s more like instinct. I don・t think about it, I just know it and it happens.・
・Jean, can you separate them and put Logan back into his own body?・
・Truthfully Hank, I don・t think so. This isn・t a typical possession - at least not from a telepaths point of view. I think I would feel better asking for help with this one.・
The disembodied voice of Scott Summers echoed down the subterranean corridor, ・Jubilee, are you sure that you are ready to do this?・
・Sure, I・m sure.・
*Ya got nuthin・ to worry about, kid.*
・Easy for you to say, Wolvie. It・s my body that・s gonna get clobbered,・ she muttered.
*Just do what I tell ya.*
・Don・t I always?・
*Don・t make me laugh.*
The doors to the Danger Room slid open in front of her as Cyclops continued, ・All right. We will be monitoring you from the control booth, at the first sign of trouble, I・m stopping the scenario.・
He watched her on the monitor screen as she entered the Danger Room. Through the pick-up microphones he could hear her murmuring to herself and realized that she was talking to Wolverine. As she smiled in obvious amusement at some internal comment, he wondered at the conversation going on between them. And at the same time he couldn't help but speculate on what kind of damage was being done to Jubilee's mind and soul after being possessed by Logan. Even Logan didn't know all of his past, everything he had done in his lifetime, but some of what he did know, would send a grown man running. What were those kind of memories doing to a impressionable child like Jubilee?
He felt reassurance flow down the bond he shared with Jean. Even if she didn't know his exact thoughts, the comfort she sent was automatic as she sensed his unease.
*What kind of psychic damage could Jubilee have from being possessed by Logan?*
*Truthfully, there could be some, but I don't think there will be any lasting effects. I don't know quite how to explain it but they are . . . connecting.* She thought about the entwined psychic signatures she had seen earlier, *Or maybe . . . balancing might be the better word . . . well with each other. I think they will both be ok.*
Taking that assurance from his wife, he focused his attention back to the screen. Pressing a button on the control panel in front of him, he started the session.
Jubilee stood lightly on the balls of her feet, every sense stretched to the utmost to detect the slightest hint of danger around her as she stepped through the doors. Now her job was to forget, to forget that this was a Shi'ar hologram, that this was a Danger Room simulation and that Jean, Scott and Hank were even now gathered in the Control Room watching her progress on the monitors.
*Submerge yerself in the program, kid. Believe in the reality around ya until ya react as if it was real, as if the dangers really could kill ya.*
They had wanted to check on just how much and how well she had integrated Wolvie's abilities. This was the test, a danger room scenario set up from programs that had originally been designed to test her when she was at the mansion with current programs designed to test Wolverine to the maximum.
She could feel him now, prowling the edges of her mind, offering comments, criticisms and above all, support.
The scene before her resembled nothing she had ever encountered before. A burned out, destroyed city lay before her. From the stories that Bishop had told of his particular future, she suspected that he had designed this scenario and pulled much of scenery from his own hellish childhood 70 years into a possible future.
A cold, damp gray fog wrapped the city in silence that concealed its dangers from her eyes. At Wolverine's insistence she stopped in the shadow of a toppled building, extending out her senses and breathing deeply of the smoke tinged air, straining her hearing to catch the slightest sound. She wasn't sure why Wolvie had her stop, her senses could not compete with his own animal keen ones.
*Superior hearing and smelling are as much about identifying what you smell and hear as about detecting it. I・m very good at identifying.*
・Modest, too,・ she murmured.
*Quiet. Listen. What do ya hear?*
She cocked her head to one side, straining her senses into the fog around her. She held her breath and then heard a soft scrape.
*Not likely. We・re being followed.*
* -- *
・Yeah, right. Sorry.・
Above them in the control room, Hank McCoy, let out a startled observation. "My stars, look at her move. She looks like a panther on the prowl."
The intercom system whistled sharply followed by Bishop・s gravely voice, ・Scott?・
・Dr. Strange has arrived.・
Never taking his eyes off the small force of destruction on the screen in front him, Scott hit the intercom button again. ・Good, please bring him down to the Danger Room.・
・We will be there in a moment.・
The distinguished looking man who entered the Control Room a few minutes later looked more like a New York businessman than the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. The richly tailored suit, the heavy gold and ruby ring on one finger, and the gray at his temples gave an immediate impression of money and power. However, few people realized that the true power he welded was of a magic few could control and even fewer believed in. As he stepped into the room the very air seemed to crackle around him.
Jean turned to greet the man warmly, ・Stephen, it is good to see you again.・ A faint smile touched her lips thought it didn・t quite make it to her eyes, ・I wish it could have been under better circumstances.・
The Doctor reached out to take her hand in one of his own. Giving a small squeeze of encouragement, he smiled back at her. ・I・m glad you called me. Friends should always look out for each other. So, where is my patient?・
Scott, his eyes still on Jubilee, pointed down at his monitor. ・She・s right here. Or he・s right here. From those moves, I・d say Wolverine was in control right now."
Jean closed her eyes as she sent her awareness downward into the Danger Room, ・Actually, Scott,・ his wife countered, ・it・s Jubilee in control but she is pulling heavily from Logan・s fighting expertise.・ Jean tilted her head to one side, listening to something only she could hear as she continued, ・She doesn't realize to what extent she is doing it. I don't think Logan knows either. But when Jubilee has no experience to base off of, she taps into Logan's and he provides the knowledge.・
Hank looked up from his own monitor, ・Then what you are saying my dear lady, is that what started out as a possession is turning into a gestalt; a combined personality.・
・Jean, I'm not sure I understand. In every case of possession we've come across, one personality takes control over the other.・
・In most cases, yes, but in Jubilee and Logan's case, neither personality is taking control over the other. It is like I said earlier, they are balancing each other, complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses.
・I can see Jubilee pulling Logan・s strengths but what is Logan getting out of this. It seems to be a very one-sided partnership.・
・On the contrary, a partnership is exactly what they have. Jubilee is pulling on Logan・s knowledge but Logan is using Jubilee・s control.・
・What do you mean?・
Dr. Strange interrupted them. ・Yes, now I understand what you were trying to tell me on the phone. Partnership is an excellent word choice for the two of them.・ The Doctor continued as he watched the battle taking place on the screen before him. ・All of us have a darker side, the animal part of our nature. But unless we are under an extreme amount of stress, that part of us never comes out in the open. Logan is different. He fights his beast every day, struggling for control of his animal side. But now that his consciousness in within Jubilee . . .・
・The child has tamed the beast.・
・Exactly, Dr. McCoy. And there lies the danger.・
・What kind of danger?・
・They are merging, becoming dependent on the other・s strengths. There is a danger in that. They must be separated immediately.・
・What about Weston? If Logan goes back to his own body, what happens to him?・
Dr. Strange smiled. ・Do not worry, I will take care of him.・
She was sunk so far down into the merging that she could no longer tell where she ended and he began. For now there was only the pulsing of her heart and red haze in front of her eyes as the robotic sentinels circled around her. She liked this enemy. They required no sympathy from her, did not require her to pull her punches or control the rage as she unleashed the combined power of her pryotechnic explosions and Logan・s claws.
Sensing the intrusion behind her she spun and launched herself at the three new attackers. Realizing her mistake milliseconds after she launched herself, she twisted around in midair to land heavily at Scott Summer・s feet. Panting hard, she clamped down swiftly on Wolverine・s desire to rend and destroy. She laid a soothing mental hand upon him and the berserker fury began to slowly abate inside of her.
Turning sharp eyes upward to the three who confronted her, she snapped out, ・Are you insane; coming up behind me. I could・ve, like, killed you!・
Scott resisted the urge to take a step back from the fire reflected in those eyes -- Wolverine・s wild eyes in Jubilee・s face.
・And yet you did not.・ Strange laughed then, ・Oh, don・t glare so at me, young lady. I am here to help you. I will need to prepare myself and set the mystic wards but I should be ready to begin the separation tomorrow evening.・
She took a deep breath to try to slow her accelerated breathing down and release the remainder of the rage that still simmered within her, ・We・ll be there.・
The three of them watched as she walked from the room, the tension flowing out of her body with every step. By the time she reached the Danger Room doors, her walk had changed from Wolverine・s controlled stalk to Jubilee・s more exuberant bouncy stride.
・By the Hoary Hosts, she is remarkable.・
・How so, Doctor?・ Scott asked, as he lead them out of the Danger Room and to the elevator that would take them back to the main levels of the house.
・I don・t think I ever seen an integration of personalities this smooth before. The trust between them is most remarkable.・ A thoughtful look crossed his face as he added to himself, almost as if the most untrusting Wolverine has already given her the guardianship of his soul long before now.
Rogue slowly levitated herself up within the branches of the oak tree, coming to a halt in front of Jubilee, who sat curled up in the V of two huge moss covered branches.
・How ya doin・, sugah? Or should that be y・all?・
・Hey Rogue. I like, don・t want to be rude or anything, but I kind of wanted to be alone.・
・No offense taken. Heard that Dr. Strange is goin・ ta separate you two tomorrow night. I just wanted to let ya know that if ya need someone to talk to, well, I guess ya could say that I got plenty of experience with dealing with the aftermath of having someone else in yoah head. Y・know where you can find me.・
・Thanks, Rogue. I・ll keep it in mind.・
Rogue reached out to lay one gloved hand on Jubilee・s leg and then continued to slowly float upwards into the clouds until she was just a faint green smudge in the distance.
*So what・s eating ya, darlin・?*
*Oh, and we・re sitting up in this tree ・cause . . .*
・・Cause it・s quiet up here.・
*You don・t like quiet.*
・I like quiet,・ she protested.
The voice in her head went silent, waiting with the infinite patience of the hunter.
・Ok,・ she admitted, ・so I don・t like quiet.・
・All right, already. Sheesh, beat it out of me, will ya.・ She picked at the bark on the tree limb in front on her with one broken fingernail. ・I-I・m worried. There I said it.・
*What ya worried about?*
・What happens if something goes wrong? What if the Doc can・t get Weston out of your body and you back in?・ Then very softly, ・What if I lose you?・
*Darlin・, nuthin・ is gonna go wrong. It ain・t good for me to be inside yer head like this, and you know it. I got stuff locked up in my head that gives me the willies sometimes. You don・t need to be carting around in your head the things I・ve done in my life. This needs ta be done.*
・I know, but what if . . .・
*No, ifs,* he interrupted. *Besides, you want to go around taking showers with your eyes closed for the rest of your life.*
She blushed hotly at the memory of the whole totally embarrassing, this is the kind of thing that you tell your therapist, bathroom scene after her Danger Room workout.
She picked some more at the bark in front of her, then switched gears. ・Wolvie, do ya think I・ll remember anything?・
・Like the fightin・ and stuff.・
*Like yer claws?*
She popped her claws and stared down at them. ・Yeah, those too. Frosty・s been telling me that I could control my pafs better if I really wanted to but I・ve never been able to control ・em to the point where they just stayed there and didn・t explode. When you leave, do ya think they will too?・
*Don・t know, kiddo. So, Emma don・t think yer living up to yer potential, huh?*
・She said and I quote, ・Jubilation, you use your mouth like it were another mutant ability. While not necessarily a bad thing, it sometimes requires you to back up that mouth of yours with something a little more solid. Remember, you can get more with a kind word and a 2x4 than you can get with a kind word alone.・・
Logan laughed loudly at that one. *I think she might have a point with that mutant ability bit.*
*Darlin・,* his voice turning serious, *I don・t know how much y・ll remember of me or if I・ll take with me anything of you, but I want ya to know, I・m proud of how you・ve handled all this. And if anything does go wrong, well, I wanted ya to know, I・ve had some good friends, teammates and lovers in my life, but you, kid, are unique among them all.*
She reached up to brush away a tear before it could run down her face. ・Love ya too Wolvie.・
They both went silent, each watching the sunset from Jubilee・s eyes; lost in their own separate thoughts and worries about the upcoming division. Logan couldn・t pick up any of her thoughts but the subtle nervous tension that had been with her since Dr. Strange had arrived slowly vanished. But with her calm, his own agitation seemed to have risen. He knew more about patience than most people ever learned in their lifetimes but this kind of waiting drove him to distraction. Distraction, yeah, that was exactly what he and the kid needed right now.
*Come on darlin・, get us out of this tree. We・re blowing this joint.*
As she climbed out of the tree she asked, ・Where are going?・
*Ta find a convenient distraction. Head for the garage.*
As Jubilee flipped on the light in the garage she stopped, her hands firmly planted on her hips. ・Ok, so what are we doing in the garage?・
*We, darlin・, are going for a ride.*
・You mean it? Where are we going? How long we gonna stay? Can I drive?・ all said in rush so fast he wasn・t even sure she had paused for breath.
Her enthusiasm bubbled through him. This was the Jubilee he knew. Yep, Emma was definitely on to something. *We・ll see. Fer starters though I think you better leave the driving to me.*
・Jubileeeee! Jubileeeeeee! Where in the hell has she disappeared to!・
・Mon ami, Gambit searched everywhere in de house. Jubilee is not here.・
・That doesn・t make any sense,・ Scott exclaimed as he ran his hand back through his hair. ・She has to be here.・
・Gambit, just tells you what he finds. De petite・s bed doesn・t look like it・s been slept in either.・
*No luck Scott. I can・t detect either Jubilee・s or Logan・s signatures on the grounds. Rogue checked in with me a few minutes ago, she didn・t see any sign of Jubilee either.*
Emma chose that moment to step out of the house onto the porch with Scott. ・What have you done with my student Cyclops?・
Gathering the shreds of his control, he turned to face Emma. ・Emma, now is not the time.・
・I think now is exactly the time,・ Emma answered, her voice icy. ・I leave my student with you X-Men for a few days to deal with some nightmares and I come back a week later to find that she had skipped out on you, traveled to Madripoor by herself, rescued Wolverine AND gotten herself possessed. I very distinctly remember asking you to keep her OUT OF TROUBLE. And now that she is back, you・ve lost her again hours before she is supposed to be separated from Wolverine.・
Sam came running up to Sean and Emma at that point, forestalling Emma tirade for the moment.
Scott sent up a sigh of thanks for the rescue, ・Have you found her Sam?・
・No, sir. But I think I know what happened to them?・
Emma stepped forward, ・Where are Jubilee and Logan, Samuel?・
・Well, ma・am, I don・t rightly know where they are, but I know how they got there.・
For a moment Sam looked like he really didn・t want to say, but then with a small smile directed at Scott that could have been pity, he answered, ・Wolverine・s motorcycle is gone.・
Scott sat down on the front steps of the mansion and put his head down in hands in defeat, while the headache that had been skirting him all morning flared into all of its pulsing glory. Why me, he thought, what did I do to deserve this.
At approximately 3:30 that afternoon, Scott heard the sweetest sound he could imagine as Wolverine・s Harley roared up Greymalkin Lane.
Emma beat him to the porch by only a second and they both turned almost identical disapproving stares on the rider who was slowly climbing off the motorcycle parked in front of them.
Jubilee moved a bit stiffly, as if she had been riding for some time. Giving a huge back-popping stretch she slipped the helmet off of her head and shook out her hair.
・Hi Cyke. Hiya Frosty. What・re you doing here? How・s Banshee? Hank told me what happened to him?・
・Sean is recovering. Do not try to change the subject, you know perfectly well why I am here. The question is Jubilation, where have you been?・ came from Emma Frost while at the same moment Scott said through clenched teeth, ・Jubilee, where have you been?・
The other X-Men, alerted by Jean to Jubilee・s return, met her at the front door. She found herself surrounded with a dozen different questions being fired at her and Wolverine at once. She was having a hard time not laughing since half the questions were directed and her and the other half at Wolverine. At which point Wolverine had all of it was going to take and directed her to take a step backwards from the fray. Holding up her hands she yelled, ・Whoa!・ while setting off a series of exploding pafs over everyone・s heads.
・Much better,・ she said, with more than a hint of Wolverine・s growl lacing her voice. We・ll take these in order. Jean and Rogue, we・re fine. Storm, we were in no kind of danger. Remy, yeah, it was a most excellent time.
Emma interrupted, her tones pure ice. ・Jubilation, I・ll ask you one more time, where have you been?・
She looked around at the expectant faces watching her and realized that even Dr. Strange was standing on front porch.
・Well, see, Wolvie was feeling kind of restless so we did what Wolvie always does when he feels restless.・
Rogue shook her head, ・Sugah, Logan goes and finds himself a beer and barfight when he feels restless.・
・Chere, you to young ta get into a bar,・ remarked Gambit.
・I know that. We only went ta the bar to find Major Anderson. He・s a bud of Wolvie・s. He・s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent too. He・s like, kind of old, but still cool. Then the Major decided that we needed to leave, ・cause it was a bar after all, so we wuz goin・ for some ice cream.・
・Thank goodness, someone with some sense,・ Jean murmured, from where she had a tight hold of her husband・s arm.
・But see that・s when the bar fight broke out.・
・Bar fight?・ parroted Sam, whose whole expression was one of utter amazement.
・Yeah, only those dudes weren・t so tough. I mean, did ya ever notice what nice THUNK! sounds the bad guys make when they hit the floor?
*Darlin・, maybe you better wrap this up, their eyes are starting to glaze over.*
・After the fight was over, me and the Major went for the ice cream; Bubblegum, my fav. I crashed at his place and here I am.
Emma, who had stood utterly unimpressed through the whole recital, crossed her arms in front of her and very slowly said, ・The truth this time, Jubilation.・
Jubilee, cut her eyes over at the White Queen, analyzing and weighing just how far she could go. Giving a small sigh, she said, ・Oh, very well. Wolvie was feeling restless so we hopped the bike and rode around and finally went into the city where we rented a hotel room and sacked fer a couple of hours and then came home. There, you satisfied?・
・Much better, Jubilation. Now go inside and get cleaned up and rested. I believe that Dr. Strange will be ready at sundown. You have 3 hours.・
The various X-Men watched in stunned surprise as Jubilee meekly turned around and went quietly into the Mansion.
Emma turned a triumphant and thoroughly smug smile onto Scott before adding as she too swept into the Mansion, ・That, Mr. Summers is how you manage precocious children; by not letting them get the better of you.・
Only after Emma was out of ear shot did Gambit turn to Sam and comment, ・Gambit still bet even money dat the first story de p・tite told was the truth.・
The furniture in the living had been pushed back against the walls to make room for the pentagram now chalked on the floor. As the sun set outside, Dr. Strange lit the five mystic candles, each placed at one point of the star. Jubilee lay on the floor beside Wolverine・s still drugged body in the middle of the pentagram. She was feeling a little nervous and vaguely silly as she watched Dr. Strange circle around the room. She had a sudden wish that some of the others could have attended this ritual.
・Jubilee, do you have the pendant I gave you earlier?・
・Please place in it your palm and then clasp Logan・s hand. Wrap the chain securely around both of your hands. The pendant will be the receptacle for Weston・s soul after he is removed from Logan・s body.・
Jubilee stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to control her nervousness. Finally giving up counting the ceiling tiles she called out, ・Hey Doc?・
・Hmm, is this like, gonna hurt or anything? ・Cause it sure hurt the first time.・
・You were not prepared the first time. There should be no pain.・
She went silent again as she watched him lay out several books on the floor beside.
・Will I remember Wolvie・s memories and stuff? Will he remember me?・
・You shouldn・t. You each might have a few lingering memories but those should fade.・
Strange looked over at her at that softly voiced ・oh.・ Was that disappointment he had heard her in voice? He knew that this child and Wolverine were close but surely she didn・t wish to keep the sometimes extremely violent memories of Wolverine within her. Enough, he admonished himself, it was time to get his mind back on his job.
He controlled his urge to sigh and only barely kept the exasperation from coloring his voice. ・Yes, Jubilee?・
・Does that mean I won・t be able to do the claw thing anymore?・
・Jubilee, the ability to manipulate your powers comes from you. The shape of that manifestation was chosen by Logan, as his weapon of choice. Whether you will be able to control your abilities to that degree without Logan within you, I don・t know.・
She silently digested that information and then ventured one more time. ・Hey Doc?・
*Kiddo, I think it・s time ta leave the Doc to his work.*
・Sorry, Wolvie says I got to shut up now.・
She wasn・t sure, but she thought she held Dr. Strange mutter, ・Wise, man・ just before her world went black.
She awoke in darkness, back in her old bed, in her old room. She seemed to be fine except for a faint headache centered between her eyes. Had it worked? Was everything ok now?
Very softly she called, ・Wolvie?・
Only silence answered her. He was gone.
Holding up her hands in the darkness she concentrated but produced nothing more than a few of her normal pafs which exploded brightly in the darkness, searing her vision and causing the headache to increase in strength. She pushed the sense of disappointment aside as she tried to figure out what had happened.
She struggled to sit up, the pounding in her head growing sharper with her movements. Focusing on the clock beside her bed, she rubbed her eyes until the numbers made sense; 1:30 in the morning. What had happened to Wolvie?
Rolling off her bed she rose unsteadily to her feet and headed down the hallway to Wolverine・s room. Flicking on the light and squinting into the sudden brightness she realized that he wasn・t in his bed. She fought down her rising sense of panic that something had gone wrong with the transfer.
She stood in the middle of room, the pounding in her head keeping time with thudding of her racing heart. Where was he? Then she remembered. Wolverine・s body had been kept sedated because of Weston, which meant that he would still be down in the MedLab.
She took off running and kept running through the deserted hallways of the mansion until she stood breathless outside of the MedLab door. With a trembling hand she hit the contact that would slide open the door. Unconsciously holding her breath, she let out a ragged sign of relief at seeing him lying on one of the diagnostic beds. Hurrying over she reached out to lay a hand on his shoulder just to make sure he was real. There was no sign of the drugs which had been keeping him sedated so she guessed that Dr. Strange・s transfer ritual had been successful.
He stirred restlessly then, a low growl forcing its way through suddenly clenched teeth. Remembering his words from earlier about the darker things that roamed his mind she realized that he was still caught somewhere between the drugs and the aftermath of the transfer.
Reaching back out to put her hand once again on his shoulder she whispered, ・Don・t worry, Wolvie. I keep watch for ya. I・m yer partner, and don・t you forget it. ・Cause somebody・s got to watch out for you and it looks like I・m it.・
Then crawling up on top of the sheet that covered him she curled in a ball, her back pressed into side. ・Nothing・s gonna get you while I・m watching yer back.・
Closing her eyes against the pain in her head she had one last thought before she drifted back into sleep: I thought he said the transfer wouldn・t hurt this time.
Emma shifted impatiently from one foot to the other, ・Jubilee, are you ready to go?・
・Sure thing, Ms. Frost. Ya seem ta be in an awful big hurry. Ya wouldn・t be like itching to see a certain Irishman would ya?・
・What?・ she answered, as innocent as she could make it. Emma・s voice had been sharp as glass but Jubilee had seen the small twitch at the corner of mouth so she knew that Frosty was just playing her part of being the big bad White Queen.
・Say your good-byes. It is time we departed. And on the way back to the Academy we are going to have a looong talk about that little stunt you and Gambit pulled so you could go to Madripoor.
Uh-oh, she thought. ・I thought you forgot about that.・
・I have a very long memory.・ Emma waved her off, ・Now, go. I will be waiting in the limo.・
All of the X-Men, except for Logan who stood off to one side, gathered together to wish her goodbye with a mixture of admonishments to please stay out of trouble and hugs.
・I・m sorry about the claws, Jubilee, I know how much you liked them. But it・s only been a few days since the transfer, they might come back on their own. And if they don・t, well, I・m sure that with practice you・ll someday be able to manifest that kind of control over your abilities.・
・Yeah, I know. Emma, like said the same thing. Thanks Jean.・
Jubilee stepped out of the circle of her former teammates and turned around to face Logan who stood patiently waiting for her. Throwing her arms around him she buried her face in his chest, getting out a strangled "Oh Wolvie" before the swirl of thoughts and emotions became to tangled to express in words. Somehow though, he understood, but then she thought, he had always understood. Tightening his own arms around her slim shoulders, he answered her the only way he could, "I know, darlin・. I know."
The threat of sudden tears contained, she pulled herself away while he cleared his throat suspiciously. "You listen to Sean and Emma and stay out of trouble."
She affected a wide eyed innocent look, "Who me?"
He chuckled, "Yeah you. You attract trouble."
Stepping close to give him one last hug, she said into his chest, "What can I say Wolvster, I learned from the best."
Grinning, she spun and bounded down the front steps to her waiting teacher. She turned to wave back to the rest of the X-Men as they filed back into the Mansion until only Logan remained on the steps. Giving one last wave she climbed into the car, keeping one hand behind her back as she climbed in, then very deliberately she "popped" her claws, then just as quickly banished them. They were nothing like what they had been; weak and pale instead of the hot plasma colors from before, they barely jutted an inch past her knuckles, but for right now, it was all she could manage. For a split second, she wondered if Logan had seen, then she heard the deep laughter behind her as the car pulled out of the driveway.