Notes: Okay, I know I've done something like
this before with Dying Of The Light. That was just a short piece, though,
and I didn't really get to do anything 'in depth' in it. This is an attempt
to do something along the same lines, only this time taking a closer look
at the people and emotions involved.
"What's this about, Hank?" Logan asked.
He was standing in the back of a bar, talking to Hank on the only working payphone in the joint. The lack of interruptions could be attested to the fact that the last person who'd gotten uppity had been launched across the bar into a wall and had yet to get up.
"You need to come home, Logan. It's better that we not do this over the phone."
"I'm a bit busy now, Hank. I just got a lead on some guys who've been checking up on me. I was about to go and ask them why."
"Your fights can wait, Logan -- this is more important. Jubilee needs you here."
Logan's brow furrowed in sudden worry. "What's up with the kid? Why would she need me?"
"Just come home. I'll tell you when you get here."
Hank hung up the phone and sighed, his eyes tired and his face worn with lines of worry. He could not put off telling Jubilee for much longer. He had wanted Logan here for it, though. He would be able to help her much more then any of the other X-men could. In all the years Hank had been a doctor, he had never felt so helpless as he did at this moment.
There were procedures to follow, of course; things to be tried that might work. They were not certain, though. Nothing was with this kind of disease. For all the advances in science and medicine, they still had not found a sure cure for cancer. Hank made his way to the door and clicked off the light, launching the room into darkness.
Elsewhere in the mansion...
"You asleep, Jubilee?"
"Nope. Guess my body just doesn't want to quit for the day."
"Yeah, I remember back on the farm I'd go for these walks when I couldn't sleep."
"I sorta learnt ta sleep anywhere when I was a kid. Concrete's the hardest but ya get used to it."
"Was it hard?"
"Being on your own like that? Living on the street."
"Sometimes, like when you didn't have enough food and so you didn't eat for a week. Then you had to watch out for the weirdos as well. Course I learnt a lot from this guy, taught me how to get food and other stuff; after that I did okay. I got real good at avoiding the cops. The streets can be bad but they're better then Juvie. Least the bad guys don't pretend to be anything but bad guys on the streets."
Paige looked over at the bed where Jubilee lay. "What'ya mean?"
Jubilee stared up at the ceiling. "Well, ya'd hear these stories, like from people who got out of Juvie. One girl I talked to, she told me they used to beat the shit out of this kid regular like just because he'd talk back. She said that at least there they didn't do the 'other' stuff though."
Paige shuddered slightly; she could guess what the 'other' stuff was. Coming from a large family she couldn't imagine a time when she'd ever really been alone. Even at the school she was sharing a room with Jubilee. She wondered briefly what it must've been like.
"Did you ever get...I don't know, lonely?"
Jubilee thought for a second, letting the darkness sit around her in its own silent chorus. "Sometimes, I'd miss my folks a lot. Like at times I'd think that nothin' much had gone right since that night. Those were the worst days, though. Sometimes I'd just think about how lucky I was that I was in control of my own life, not having any adult tellin' me what to do and stuff. Then I'd see these kids with their parents. They'd be taking them to Mickey D's after school for a treat or somethin'. That's when I'd think about mom and dad. Course there wasn't much time for school either. You know, I don't 'spect you'd believe it, but I used to get A's and everything when I was a kid."
"If you tried."
"Sh'yeah, if I tried. You didn't miss half your school stuff, Paige. Most days it's hard enough just trying to catch up, let alone get anything remotely passing a good grade. Not that Frosty thinks of that. She just sees a slacker teenager, never really tried lookin' beyond that. Not that I helped much I suppose. I got my pride though. I couldn't just ask for help. Not from her and not from Sean."
Paige looked at Jubilee in puzzlement, trying to see her through the darkness. "Why? I could understand Emma, but why not ask Sean?"
Jubilee smiled wryly, "He's like an X-Man...well, former anyway. It's like I'd be...I don't know, weaker in his eyes because of it. I've always had this 'couldn't care less' thing going. If I admitted I did care, well, he might try to look closer, ya know? It only takes one card to bring the whole castle of cards to the ground."
"So why ya telling me?"
Jubilee looked over at Paige. "I don't know, maybe cause' it's so late, and maybe cause' you're a friend, but maybe just because I'm scared and I don't wanna have to be tough anymore."
"You don't really think there's anything majorly wrong do you?"
Jubilee sighed, "I don't know...like when I first got the headaches, I thought it was just nothin', right? Then they kept comin' back and gettin' worse. Hank looked scared, Paige. He looked scared and I don't know what that means."
"You can't be sure, Jubilee, ya can't know. It could've been something else scaring him."
"Could've been...start with the could've's and we'll be here all night, though."
The sun dawned bright on another day. Birds chirped, runners ran, and the world pretty much went on with its own business, as it is want to do. No matter how we might wish it the world very rarely revolves around us, even when we face the direst news. The world rarely stops. Logan looked up at the gates of the mansion, wondering yet again what this news was that Hank had thought was so important, and what it had to do with Jubilee.
There were few people Logan had gotten close to in his life. He wasn't exactly your touchy-feely type and he often made it hard for people to get close. Jubilee hadn't given up, though, and for some unknowable reason she was almost the only person not afraid of him. Even at his most brutal she'd never thought for a second that he could harm her. Logan held that trust close to his heart and it helped warm him on the colder nights, when he was feeling the most alone.
"Welcome back, Logan, you find what you were lookin' for?"
Logan looked to his left and saw the Cajun standing almost nonchalantly by the gate. There was a coiled wariness about him, though, as if he could spring in any direction given the slightest threat of attack. Logan recognised it because he knew his own body often bore the same stance.
"You know why Hank called me?"
Remy shook his head. "Non."
Logan grunted. "Want a ride up to the mansion?"
Remy grinned. "Thought you'd never ask, mon ami."
Remy hoped on the back of Logan's bike and Logan took off in a hail of gravel and dust up the road towards the mansion.
Jubilee sat on the steps of the mansion watching the dust cloud form in the distance. Her mind was only half on the new arrival, though; the rest of her energy and concentration was focused inward, trying to deal with the growing headache which had returned early that morning. The pain seemed to come in never-ending waves, going from soft to intense and back again -- never really ceasing, just getting more bearable.
Jubilee could hear Ororo singing as she worked on the garden a little distance off. Ororo had always had a pleasant voice and Jubilee remembered times when she'd just drifted, listening to the sound more then the words which were often in a language she had no familiarity with. The sound of Logan's Harley's engine got closer, a sound Jubilee could've picked out even in her sleep; it was as familiar to her as the smell of the man himself.
Logan pulled up and kicked down the kickstand of the Harley before dismounting and opening his arms. Jubilee grinned and walked into them, wrapping her own around his waist. Logan hugged her close, and smiled in return. "How ya goin', kid?"
Jubilee closed her eyes and rested her head against his broad shoulder.
"I've been better, Wolvester...I've been better."
Logan held her tighter against him. He'd never been good at words and he sensed that his presence seemed to be enough for Jubilee at the moment.