Maturity in B Minor : Chapter Ten

by Dyce

Disclaimer: Peter Pan, and quotes from same, do not belong to me. I am making no profit from them, or from the use of Marvel's characters. If Marvel doesn't like what I'm doing with them, tough. And to all those people who were concerned about him, let me allay your fears. He's not dead.

Not yet, anyway.

Jubilee stared into her glass. "Is he still looking?"

Jono nodded, looking over her shoulder. Despite the bandages, silence, and perfectly serious eyes, he somehow managed to give the impression that he was grinning. Or maybe it just seemed that way to her. She was definitely getting better at interpreting his emotions, as well as the peculiar non-expressions that were all he usually allowed to escape. "Stop smirkin', Starsmore. Yer *sure* he's lookin' at me?"

~Yes.~ Jono signed. ~He's definitely・~ he flipped through the sign- language manual. ~Looking. At you.~ He wiggled his eyebrows.

Jubilee took the book, and looked for an appropriately scathing insult. Apparently the compilers of 'A Beginner's Guide To Basic Sign-Language' were all elderly Catholic spinsters without an ounce of viciousness in their souls. "Yer way out there, Jono. Why would he be lookin' at me?" Jono peeked under the table, and she blushed. "I'm sittin' down, Jono, he can't see my skirt."

Jono signed something to the effect that unless they had very good eyes, nobody could see her skirt even when she was standing up. Jubilee went even pinker. "It ain't *that* short."

Jono held up finger and thumb, about two inches apart, and wiggled his eyebrows. "You *bought* it for me, mister." He nodded, crinkling, and jerked his head towards the guy who was still, apparently, sitting behind her.

Jubilee turned, reaching for a salt-shaker on a different table and sneaked a glance at the guy in question. He looked about her own age, with curly brown hair and hazel eyes. Cute, definitely cute, with broad shoulders and a tight enough t-shirt to show off his muscular chest. He caught her eye, and winked.

Jubilee looked away, her cheeks going pink again. "I dunno, Jono, any guy who goes around trying to pick up a girl sitting with another guy・" Her voice trailed off. When she spoke again, her voice was very calm, and almost inhumanly level. "You were making gestures at him behind my back telling him I was available, weren't you." It wasn't even a question.

Jono shook his head, widening his eyes innocently. Jubilee glared at him. "You did." He nodded, hanging his head penitently. She sighed. "Jono, I don't, like NEED yer help to get a guy. I can find my own."

Jono nodded apologetically. ~ I helping.~

"No you are NOT helping, you're meddling. Stop it." He nodded again, and slapped his hand. "Yes. BAD Jono!"

He crinkled fondly at her, and she smiled. "I know, I know・ it's just because you love me. Y'know, most big brotherly types try to fend OFF other guys." Jono nodded and shrugged, pointing to her and making a distinctly hourglass-shaped gesture. "I'm a big girl, so I can have boyfriends if I want?" He nodded. Her mood changed suddenly, as it often did. "Gee, thanks." It came out rather snippier than she'd intended, and she winced. "Sorry."

Jono nodded placidly. He never let Jubilee's momentary fits of temper bother him. They always passed almost immediately. This time was no exception, and she sighed, resting her chin on her hand. "It's just・ there's something bothering me, and I don't understand it." She held out her other hand, palm up. "I just・ don't understand WHY, you know? Why they're like they are, why it makes me so mad・ There *is* a reason, it's hovering right on the edge of my mind, and I know it's there, but it's almost like I'm scared to pull it out into the open and look at it."

Jono nodded slowly. He'd wondered when this particular point would come up. He knew what she meant, and was much less bothered by it that she apparently was. While Jubilee finished her breakfast, he pondered the problem. <> He brightened. Of course. The old ones really were the best.

* * *

Jono got Jubilee's attention by the simple expident of poking her in the side. That was generally the best way when, as now, she was doing her lizard impression and lying flat on the grass with her eyes closed. Simply sitting down and waiting for her to pay attention to him, though usually his preferred course of action, never worked in this instance, as she invariably turned it into a competition to see how long she could pretend not to notice him, and how long he would go without doing something to get her attention.

She sat up, and poked him back. "What?" He'd wandered off after breakfast, leaving her for an almost unprecedented hour and a half entirely to her own devices. Rather to her own disappointment, she'd stayed precisely where he'd left her. Solitary adventure might be nice, but black-leather-wearing angst-blotting friends were hard to come by.

He held out a book. It was old, and tattered, and the words 'Peter Pan' were barely legible on the cover. Jubilee wrinkled her nose. "Jono, that's a kid's book! I don't-"

Jono held up an imperious finger, and pushed the book at her firmly. Looking at him, Jubilee realized that he was in one of his rare stubborn fits, and sighed. He would absolutely not be happy until she read his book, or at least made the effort to try. Sighing again, she opened the book. "Anything in particular that caught yer eye?"

He nodded, flipping the title page and opening carefully to the first chapter. Nodding resignedly, Jubilee propped her chin on her elbow, and began to read.

'Peter Pan

'Chapter One: Peter Breaks Through

'All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.'

Jubilee sat up, staring down at the page. The words seemed to leap out at her.

'All children, except one, grow up.'

"That's it, isn't it?" Her voice sounded rather far away. "They've forgotten about that." She picked the book up and held it gently, a small frown marring her delicate features. Jono nodded, eying her rather warily. She wasn't taking to the idea as well as he'd hoped.

Jubilee smiled wryly. "Sum total of all my problems right there." She opened the book again, and touched the line with one finger. "All children, except one, grow up. Even me."

She looked up at him, and smiled a sweet, rather apologetic smile, then dropped the book and ran.

**Oh, bollocks.** In the week they'd spent in San Francisco, Jono had devoted a large percentage of his time to keeping Jubilee away from one particular spot. So, of course, the minute he lost sight of her he knew exactly where she was going.

**I don't even want to know 'ow the gel got up there.** She was, naturally, on the Golden Gate Bridge, sitting on a railing, in an ucomfortably precarious looking position. Not wanting to risk startling her, he leaned casually on the rail just within arm's reach, and waved hello.

"Push off and leave me alone." She turned her head, looking away from him. A pained silence filled the space behind her, until she turned guiltily. Jono was staring out at the bay, his shoulders hunched. "I'm sorry, Jono. I didn't mean that." He nodded, still staring at the water. "I just・ ain't sure I'm ready to face this."

He nodded again, looking around at her. One big, rather bony hand wrapped itself around her smaller one, and she smiled a little damply. "I mean・ yer right, y'know? They all think of me as The Kid. They'll probably still think of me as The Kid when I'm ninety."

Jono rubbed his thumb over her palm, looking at her encouragingly. She looked out over the bay, trying to put her thoughts in order. "I just・ feel like I'm bein' smothered. I mean, I know they love me. Or they think they do, anyway, but・ they forget about me. Don't mean to, just, like, wrap me up in cotton wool and stuff me in a pigeonhole marked 'Kid' and *leave* me in there."

Jono nodded, squeezing her hand gently. "I missed them so much, and they just・ forgot." She rested her chin on her other hand. "I felt like as long as I *was* The Kid, they'd still be there, so I stayed the same f'r years, always dressin' the same and actin' the same ta make sure they'd always love me." She grimaced. "Pretty dumb, huh?"

He shook his head, reaching up to touch her cheek gently. Jubilee sighed. "Didn't work, though. I ended up all screwed up inside, and they didn't even realize there was anything wrong. 'Cause that *never* works. Things change, Jono. People change." Jubilee pushed her hair out of her eyes. "*I* change. I just pretended not to, and th' only people I fooled was everyone I cared about."

Jono frowned, then pulled the book out and flipped through it. Eventually, he located the sign for 'child', and pointed to it. "'Xactly. They think I'm still a kid. But I'm not." Jubilee looked up, her eyes full of tears. "I'm not Peter Pan, Jono. I'm not the one child who never grows up. I can't live that way, and I shouldn't have to. They shouldn't *expect* me to."

Jono nodded calmly, obviously not considering this to be an odd statement. She gave him a suspicious look. "This is the part where ya tell me of course they don't expect that, don't be silly."

~Do.~ Jono signed. ~You're left. Right.~

"Of course I'm right, that's not the point. How do you expect to cheer me up if you keep agreeing with me, huh?"

Jono reached over, and without apparent effort lifted her off the railing and enveloped her in a hug. Since the politely simmering biological fire(1) inside him rendered heat a pretty much moot point, he was still wearing his leather jacket, which in turn rendered Jubilee's voice somewhat muffled. "Okay, so this works too. But you've still got a lot to learn."

* * *

(1) Author's Note: It is NOT a 'raging bio-nuclear furnace', nor can it be described as an 'inferno'. If it was, he would be an Extremely Well Toasted Crispy Fritter by now, and possibly one that glowed green in the dark. The phenomenon in question is better if less dramatically described as a reasonably mild-tempered and well-behaved experimental biological central heating system with bonus flashlight function.)

* * *

"Don't argue with me." Jubilee, introspective fit over for the moment, towed Jono down a street. "Just do what I told ya to."

Jono dug his heels in, shaking his head firmly. Jubilee ignored him. "I mean it, Jono. Yer gonna get one and that's all there is to it."

He grabbed a tree, and sighed mentally as the small dynamo on the end of his other arm heaved, dragging his fingers loose. "Yer bein' a baby, Jono. You'll LIKE it once it's over, honest." He shook his head even harder. "Look, it doesn't have to be a big one, okay? But trust me, you need it."

Jono indicated his absolute lack of need for anything of the sort by wrapping both legs and his free arm around a pole and hanging on like grim death. Pulled up short, Jubilee scowled at him. "Wuss." He nodded, not loosening his grip one bit. "It'll be *fun*!" He shook his head once more, and narrowed his eyes, glaring at her.

Jubilee sighed. "I'm doin' this for yer own good," she advised him, and kicked him with almost surgical precision right in the left kidney. He dropped to the ground, wincing, aand she calmly grabbed one foot. Grunting a bit, she dragged him a little further down the street, and through a particular door. "Look, see what a nice clean place it is? I bet they even let you read a magazine while they do it." Jono gave her the evil eye and kicked her in the shins until she dropped his foot, then sat up, brushing himself off.

The woman behind the counter grinned, obviously enjoying the spectacle. "He's not too into the idea, huh?"

"Nope." Jubilee shook her head. "He's actin' like a big baby." She shot him a disparaging look. Jono glared at her.

"They all do." The woman nodded commiseratingly. "You should see what I have to do to my boyfriend to make *him* get a haircut."

Jono pulled his jacket up over his head, and glared out of the dark cave. Jubilee snorted. "Jono, if you don't get up and start acting like an adult right now, I'm gonna shave yer entire body. Clear?"

Ten minutes later Jono was slouched in a chair while Jubilee and the stylist discussed the arrangement of his head *over* his head. This was, he felt, taking friendship entirely too far. Baptising his shirts with snot was one thing, but cutting his hair without actually consulting him・ he slid lower down in the chair, sulking as obviously as possible.

"Stop that." Jubilee looked down at him. "I told you, the split ends have to come off before they get any worse. Aside from that, it's up to you, even if you *do* look like a sheepdog." It was amazing, she reflected. He had to be the only person in the world who could pout without the benefit of lips.

Jono gave her a reproachful look, and reached up the grab the magazine they'd been looking at, dragging it down to where he could see it. He took one look at the picture, and shook his head vehemently.

"He's right." The stylist nodded. "Short isn't him. What about・ this one?"

Jono gave him a look of pure horror. "Or not・" The man, whose nametag introduced him as Hi-My-Name-Is-Ric, flipped through again. "You're a musician, right? Well, this one's quite popular・"

After about half an hour, a style (just a trim with a little off the bottom and a bit of texture) was settled on, and Hi-My-Name-Is-Ric dragged Jono off to get his hair washed. Jono cast a just-throw-me- to-the-wolves-why-don't-you look over his shoulder as he went, and Jubilee grinned. It *was* for his own good, she reassured herself as she reached for a magazine. And it wouldn't take long-

"DAHling!" shrieked a skeletal vampire with red and black streaked hair, fishnet stockings, and about six inches of black stretch fabric to cover everything. "WHO did your HAIR? It looks like a grown out BUZZ!"

"Uh・" Jubilee leaned back slightly. "Actually-"

"Don't worry, dahling, Lilith will fix EVERYTHING!" The vampire, whose nametag did indeed read Hi-My-Name-Is-Lilith dragged her over to a chair. "I'll make you absolutely STUNNING, dahling. With THOSE cheekbones you can pull off ANYTHING, but that doesn't mean you SHOULD do just anything・"

* * *

Jono sighed, and backtracked for the eighth time to drag Jubilee away from her reflection in a window. It was almost entirely dark, and with the streetlights lit a darkened window made a good mirror. While the short, dramatic cut with the electric blue streak framing the side of her face looked good, though, he felt that her enthusiasm was a just a little excessive. Then again, it *was* pretty・ he crinkled fondly at her.

"Ya like it?" she asked once again. Again, he nodded, ruffling her glossy black hair. She batted his hand away, smoothing it carefully. "Stoppit! You know, I always wanted a streak or sumpthin' like Rogue or coloured hair like Betts, but I never had the nerve to go through with it. This looks so COOL!" She looked up at him, brushing the now rather shorter but no less unruly lock of hair out of his eyes. "You look pretty good, too. I can see yer face again."

He crinkled at her. For every two compliments she demanded, she returned at least one, which was an improvement on the usual one-to- four female/compliment ratio. He looked at the reflection again. Jubilee in her ankle high boots, short skirt and sleveless top, with a roomy unbuttoned shirt over all, and himself, all in black, with his billowing coat spreading slightly in the wind. He looked like a spectre of death looming over the tiny, helpless girl in her jewel- like colours.

Jubilee looked at the reflection again, admiring her new haircut. The outfit was a little daring for her, but she was enjoying the attention it had been getting, secure in the knowledge that Jono wouldn't let things get out of hand. She looked at them both, standing side by side at the window. She shone with bright colours in the white light from the streetlamp, while he half faded into the shadows, like a watchful guardian hovering behind her, ready to catch any misstep.

Across the road, an elderly man walking home after work looked across and smiled. A pretty girl was admiring her reflection in a window, and as he watched she turned smiling to the tall, lanky boy beside her. He lowered his head, obviously listening to her, then nodded, turning to follow her as she danced down the street. After a few steps, apparently exasperated by her boyfriend's slow pace, she darted back to take his hand, dragging him behind her. The old man nodded approvingly, you shouldn't let them get too far behind・

In a shop, a middle aged woman looked up as two youngsters hurried past the window, a young asian girl wearing the brightly coloured, immodest clothes that seemed so in fashion these days, towing a young man all in black. She sniffed disapprovingly as they vanished from sight, automatically muttering the usual complaints about teenagers these days, too young, too adult, too fast, going nowhere・

On a roof, a slender woman looked down in surprise as a slender girl hurried around a corner, towing a tall man behind her. The girl paused under a streetlight, and turned to look at the man, pointing towards a payphone. He nodded, pushing her gently towards it, and she smiled, kissing him lightly on the cheek before she dashed over to the phone, the lights shimmering on her black-and-electric-blue hair.

Domino frowned. That girl was almost certainly Jubilee. And the man with her was・ she thought a moment・ judging by the bandages covering his face, her fellow student Chamber. Hm. What were they doing in San Francisco, apparently alone? She shrugged. Maybe they were on vacation or something. None of her business anyway. She slipped down the side of the roof, and was gone.

On the street, Jubilee set the phone down slowly. When she turned, her face was so drained of colour that she looked like a corpse. Jono crossed the ground between them in two strides, his eyes demanding an explanation even as he reached out to steady her.

"Miss Frost is sending a plane for us. We have ta get ta New York right away." Her voice sounded thin and uncertain.

~*Why? What?*~ Jono signed.

"There was・ an accident. A car smash・" Jubilee took a deep, shuddering breath. "Bobby's in the hospital. She doesn't know how bad it is yet."

Jono hugged her gently, then took her hand, heading back to their hotel. Jubilee followed, all the spring gone from her step. "They・ they think he crashed because he dropped the phone or somethin'. He was talkin' on it while he was drivin'・ he was・ was askin' Frosty about me, he told her ta tell me he loves me, then like thirty seconds after he hung up there was a crash・" Her voice broke and wavered. "We gotta get there, Jono. I gotta see him."

Jono nodded, and sped up, long legs devouring the pavement. ~*You will.*~

End Part Ten