"If you wanna be my lover・ stay away from all my friends・" Remy sang along - sort of - to the piped music. His way, in his own estimation, made a lot more sense. If you wanted to stay in a relationship, you never let the person meet ANY of your friends. They learned bad things about you that way.
You shouldn't let them meet your wife, either.
"Remy, stop that." Kitty poked him. "You agreed to take me shopping, not provide a cabaret act for the entire store."
"If you're gon' drag me into a store wit' no magazines, you gotta expect dis." Remy leaned back in his chair.
"Well, what do you want me to do? Hunt around until I find a store that'll amuse you?" Kitty asked, exasperated.
"Non, I was thinkin' dat I'd go to dat newsstand over dere and buy some." He stood up, rubbing his hands together briefly. "Want me to get you somet'ing?"
Kitty gave him a you-aren't-fooling-me-a-bit look. "You just don't like being in here, do you?"
"Non, non, Remy loves being surrounded by cardigans and jeans." Remy grinned. "But dere's a new issue of Popular Mechanic over there dat's calling my name."
Kitty looked where he was pointing, and grinned. "Sure it's not the 'Sports Illustrated' swimsuit edition right beside it?"
"Dat's possible. It could be throwing its voice," Remy agreed amiably. "See anyt'ing you want? No, wait, let me guess・ Marie Claire and dat computer one・Wired."
"Right." Kitty smiled. "Go get your magazines. I'll be out in a few minutes."
Remy ambled over and started flipping through the magazines. He might as well get some for the others as well・ House and Garden for Stormy・ French Vogue and Cleo for Rogue・ he flipped through the Vogue, and his jaw dropped. That was a very pretty, rather daring dress, and that was a very familiar pair of blue eyes over a very familiar smile in a very familiar face trying to sell it to him. Jubilee had obviously fallen solidly on her feet.
Those feet were attached, he noted in passing, to very pretty legs.
* * *
Jewel kicked the door open, her arms full of coat, groceries, and two dresses she'd weaseled from that morning's shoot. Catalogues weren't as glamorous as magazines, she reflected, but the loot was better. Not to mention that it was more regular, more reliable, and you were less likely to get groped.
Two steps into the apartment, she tripped over a boot.
She rolled her eyes, stepping around the boot, its mate, a pair of high heels, and a discarded shirt to drop her coat over a chair and the groceries on the bench. The dresses were tossed into her room, and she picked the shirt up off the floor. Then she looked at the heels. Then she knocked on Jono's door. "Honey, I'm home! Are you busy?"
There was a resounding silence, and she snickered. "When you two are done, I'm making coffee out here." She cracked the door open and tossed the shirt through. "Nice shirt, whoever-it-is-that-Jono's-mending-his-broken-heart-with-this-time. I'd love to know where you got it."
"That catalogue you were in last month," an unfamiliar female voice said. "Page eight." She didn't sound terribly embarrassed. Jewel approved of that. If you were going to have a one-afternoon-stand with someone who you knew damn well had a fifteen-year-old roommate, then having her walk in should be expected and prepared for.
"Great, thanks. Carry on."
* * *
"Hi, Logan." Remy didn't look up from his magazine. "If y' lookin' for beer, don't got none left."
"What about cigarettes?" Logan grunted. "I've run o' cigars. Getcha some more tomorrow, if ya like, just need something ta tide me over fer the night."
Remy picked up the packet beside him and shook it. "Couple left in here. Grab de new pack outta that mess b'side you an you can have dis one."
"Yer all heart, cajun." Logan dug through the pile of magazines and newspapers with a resigned sigh. "Playboy, no surprise, Sports Illustrated, ditto, Popular Mechanic・ French VOGUE? Whatcha doin' with THIS stuff?"
Remy leaped out of his chair, making a grab for the magazine. "Lookin' for a present f'r Roguie, not dat it's any o' your business!"
Logan grinned, fielding the younger man's attempts to rescue his magazine. "Lookin' fer what? Underwear? Somethin' nice fer the evenin'?" He flipped through the glossy vehicle for advertising. "Hey, here's somethin', fashion fer teenagers! Bet she'd・" He trailed off, staring at the magazine in his hand.
Wincing, Remy peeked over his shoulder. Yup, the traitorous magazine had opened to THAT page. Nothing to do now but bluff・ "Wow, would you look at dat, mon ami? Dere's a girl who looks just like Jubilee in dere! What are de ooouuuuuurrrrrkk!!"
"Cajun," Logan hissed, one hand clamped around Remy's neck, the other poised to skewer him on three suddenly visible claws, "I'm only gonna ask this once, so answer carefully・ how long have ya known where she was?"
"Well, not sure exactly・" Remy hedged. There was a familiar snickt as the claws slid out to rest against his stomach. He squeaked. "Since we found out she left?"
"You don' tink Remy just let his petite amie wander off wit'out settin' someone t' watch over her, do you?" Remy looked as scandalized as one could in a state of near strangulation. "He have a tail on her f'r months now."
A vicious snarl rumbled up from somewhere behind Logan's sternum. "And ya didn't think to tell me?"
Remy's faux-horrified expression faded into a genuinely puzzled one. "Uhm・ Gambit kinda figured de other guy tailing her *was* yours." He frowned thoughtfully. "Huh. Maybe Banshee's, you t'ink? He have a few contacts on bot' sides of de law, coulda been him・ Emma already knew, so it wouldn't have been her, unless she wanted some backup aroun', which sounds like her now I come t'-" he trailed off with an inarticulate gurgle as Logan picked him up by the neck and shook him.
"Listen good, 'mon ami', cause I ain't in any mood ta repeat myself. The only reason I ain't killin' ya fer this is because ya know where she is. Tell me, or yer life loses all value."
"By dat reasonin', if I tell you, you got no reason t' let me live anyway." Remy pointed out. Logan growled menacingly. "But den again, who am I to deny a friend?" Remy squirmed uncomfortably. "I'd love t' tell you where she is, really I would, but de petite don' want you to know. Ain' Gambit's place to-"
The Canadian X-Man half snarled, half howled in fury.
The claws flashed.
The Cajun screamed like a girl.
"AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEI'll tell you I'll tell you I'll tell you! De address・. is written down・ in de black book・ in my coat pocket!" Logan let go, and Remy collapsed whimpering to the floor.
"Thanks for yer help, Gambit. Really, I appreciate it." He rummaged around in the pockets of the coat and located the black book. "I'll send Hank down 'fore ya bleed out."
"Merci・" Remy managed through clenched teeth. "You realize・ Remy gon' kill you・ de minute he can stand up・"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm sure Hank can sew it up as good as new." Logan grinned maliciously. It was the most cheerful he'd been in months, but Remy was in no position to notice. "'Sides, a guy only really needs one." The door to the boathouse closed on his humorless chuckle.
Gambit curled up in a gasping ball of pain. "De second Remy patched up, he gon' get a knife an' cut a slice of de skin off of *your* testicles・" he vowed groggily, and passed out.
* * *
"I'm not criticizing," Jewel said patiently. Some time later (and with the girl gone) she was 'sharing' a cup of coffee and a slice of chocolate gateau with her increasingly promiscuous best friend. "I just don't think it's fair. If you can have a string of meaningless flings that erode yer emotional health and destroy the last lingering shreds of your self-esteem then I should be able to too."
~You're still jailbait.~ Jono disagreed.
"Yeah, and she wasn't?"
~Three weeks on the safe side.~
"Rebel." Jewel sipped her coffee. "But *I'm* not even allowed ta make out on the couch."
Jono nodded. ~I promised Emma I'd look after you.~
"Which includes forbidding any attempt at sexual congress?" Jewel asked, in her best Beast-imitation. She liked to throw it in now and then. Just, he suspected, to see if it would throw him.
~Damn straight.~ He regretfully eased the telepathic tendril away from the taste of a particularly fine coffee. ~I've got to go. Playing with Christine's band in a couple of hours.~
"She the one who was in your bed when I got home?" Jewel asked acidly.
~No.~ He stood up ~She's the one who's hopefully gonna be there tonight.~
"Jono-" He closed the door behind him. "Dammit, this isn't good for ya!" She scowled. "I swear, if ya keep this up I'm gonna walk inta that room and sleep in there myself ta keep you outta trouble, so help me・"
* * *
"I'm takin' the Blackbird."
"No, Logan, you are not."
"Yeah, I am."
"You are not."
"I know where Jubilee is."
"I will just get my shoes."
* * *
"I can't believe he did this."
"Remy pretty damn surprised too."
"Remy, are you okay?"
"I GOT ONE BALL WIT' A CUT ON IT AS LONG AS YOUR HAND!!"
"It's not quite that-"
"YOU BE QUIET AN' STITCH!"
"Ah'm sorry, Remy, Ah didn't mean that the way it sounded・ Ah meant has the anaesthetic kicked in yet."
"Oh・ oui, de anaesthetic workin' fine. How t'ings going down dere, Hank?"
"The bleeding's stopped, and I'm done. You only needed a couple of stitches."
"Hank, dat sound like you belittlin' Remy's injury. Take dat tone again an' I slice YOURS open."
"Sorry. But don't worry, he didn't do any permanent damage. You should still・ uhm・ function perfectly."
"If my heart don' give out from de fright, you mean?"
"Great. Roguie, sorry I yelled at you."
"Aw, that's okay, Remy. You had a nasty shock."
"Great. Let's fly to Paris to celebrate."
"Ah'm gonna assume you're still in shock."
"Chere, Logan do dis to find out where Jubilee is. We got t' get dere first."
"Lemme just get mah shoes."
* * *
"Smile! Beautiful, that's beautiful・ you're sweet, you're innocent, let's see shy now・ oh, yeah, very nice・"
"I'm worried about Jono." Jewel muttered through her fixed smile.
"He's still having that series of meaningless and emotionally sterile sexual flings?" The photographer knelt, angling the camera up at her.
"Yeah." She tilted her head, eyes wide.
"He's eighteen. It's normal." He snapped one more shot, then stood up. "Okay, we're done. Take five before getting into the next outfit."
"Good. I've got a crick in my neck." Jewel stretched, listening to the popping noises. "I still don't think it's good for him."
"'Course it isn't. But what can you do?"
She nodded glumly, and padded over to the table where a selection of food was laid out for the staff. Models weren't supposed to eat, but there wasn't any actual rule saying she couldn't help herself. Ooh, the kind of croissants with chocolate inside・
"You're not going to EAT that, are you?" One of the other models・ Marianne, her name was・ gave Jewel a rather scandalised look.
Jewel looked down at the croissant in her hand. "Yeah. I'm hungry."
"But it's FULL of calories! Do you know how much exercise you'll have to do to work that thing off?"
"Uhm・none?" Jewel gave Marianne what Jono had dubbed the just-how-dumb-are-you look. "It's food. I need it to live."
"You're going to get fat." Marianne flounced away, elegantly emaciated body stiff with pique.
Jewel shrugged, and took a bite out of her pastry. Mmm・ sugar・ She polished it off in three bites, and considered. Yes, she probably had time for one of those tasty looking little sandwiches before she went to change・ Nah, best not to risk it. Photographers got so cranky when you kept them waiting.
She was in the middle of changing when one of the gophers - a freckled girl of about her own age - stuck her head through the curtain. "Hey, Jewel, some people here looking for a・ Jubilee, I think? The description sounded like you."
"Oh, great・ tell them I'm not here." Jewel yanked off the dress she'd been buttoning up, and reached for her own clothes. "And call security. Tell them these people have been harrassing me." If they'd been anyone she wanted to see - Sean, Emma, or Remy - they'd have known to ask for Jewel. "And tell everyone I'm sorry for bailing, but these people are pretty persistent. I can't stick around or・ well・" She trailed off meaningfully, and the girl gaped at her for a moment before dashing off.
"Great." Jewel hurried into her clothes. "Ya leave the country and ya still can't grab some peace and a quite living. Don't remember them goin' after Rogue like this. Or Chuck. Or・"
"Or me, darlin'?"
"Yeah." She picked up her bag, and turned around to face him. "Or you."
Whatever other words he had been about to speak died aborning as she turned, and their eyes met. There was no forgiveness in that icy blue gaze, no redemption in the perfectly made up face. He swallowed hard, fighting the urge to look away. She looked so different. He'd come looking for a child only to find a young woman, and doubt suddenly filled him. "Darlin'・" he whispered helplessly.
"Don't call me that." Her tone was calm, almost gentle as she bent to slip on her shoes. "Ever."
He cleared his throat, and tried again. "Jubilee・ I・" He couldn't think of anything to say. Anger he could have faced, hatred he had expected, but her cool remoteness was shattering his own composure, rendering him incoherent and unable to think of anything but how much it hurt to see her look at him that way. Anger or hate would at least have meant that she cared, but she was looking at him now as if he was・a stranger. And one she didn't like much. "I・"
"Have nothing to say that I want to hear." She slung the bag over her shoulder. "It's over, Wolverine." Wolverine. Not Wolvie, not Logan, just Wolverine in that cold, impersonal tone. "Do me the same courtesy I did you when you left and leave me alone."
"No." He was clear on that much. He couldn't let her go now. "Jubilee, we gotta talk-"
"No, we don't. There's nothing to say right now." She even sounded different. None of the slang, no cheerful tone, just the clipped, precise voice. It occurred to him suddenly, ludicrously, that she sounded like the Beast. "I assume you've read the note?"
"Yeah." He nodded slowly.
"It was a little melodramatic." She shrugged, a wry smile quirking her full lips. "I'm past all that now. It wasn't easy, but Jono got me through it."
"Jono・" He shook his head slightly, clinging to the proffered topic like a lifeline. "He been lookin' after ya?"
It was the wrong thing to say; her face hardened, and her voice chilled. "I don't need to be looked after, Wolverine. I can take care of myself."
"I know that. I just meant・ y'know・"
She relaxed slightly. "Jono has been・ very good to me." There was an odd gleam in her eyes as she said it.
Sheer, unreasoning fury filled him. "Has he-"
"That's none of your business either." She slipped past him, only to see Storm standing with arms folded. "Hello, Storm."
"Hello, Jubilation." Storm's voice was warm and concerned. "We've come to take you home."
"No thank you." Jewel said calmly. "And it's Jewel now."
"Very well・Jewel. We are concerned for you."
"No need to be." She shrugged. "As you can see, I'm doing fine."
"We think you should see someone-"
"I've been seeing a therapist for the last three months. Thanks, but I'm doing fine."
"You have?" Storm paused for a moment, nonplussed.
"Jono told me to." Jewel shrugged again. "He was right."
"That is good." Storm visibly collected herself, straightening slightly. "Nevertheless, you are but a child. You belong with your family."
Jewel lifted her chin, and looked Storm squarely in the eyes. "I don't have a family."
The silence stretched out for a long moment before Jewel turned on her heel and walked away, leaving two stunned and hurt X-Men in her wake. Just before she turned the corner that would take her out of sight, Storm lifted a hand, calling out helplessly. "You cannot do this!"
Jewel didn't look back.
* * *
High above Paris in the swiftly gathering darkness, an argument was going on.
"I tell you, chere, dat's de place. De guy I had tracing dem sent me a picture," Remy insisted.
"Ah'd feel a LOT better about goin' in that window if ya hadn't lost the address." Rogue hovered indecisively.
"It was dat or de oxygen mask. Remy only got so many hands," the heavily wrapped up bundle in her arms sprouted a hand on cue, which pointed to the window in question. "I'm tellin' y', dat's Jewel and Jono's apartment. Can we go in now? It getting' cold out here."
"Well, we're gonna take a little peek through the window first," Rogue decided. "Just to be sure."
"'kay." The Remy-bundle agreed. "We peek first."
Rogue dropped towards the window, and peeped in. Remy watched in fascination as a tide of crimson swept up her neck, across her face, and all the way to her hairline. "Ah, uh, Ah think we can wait out here a while."
"We won' have to wait long," Remy said reassuringly.
"How y' figure?" Rogue asked, still blushing.
"Jus' saw Jewel walk into de building."
* * *
Jewel stamped up the stairs, disdaining the lift. How DARE they follow her here!? How dare they assume that they could just come romping back into her life after SIX MONTHS and tell her to 'come home'? Where had THEY been all this time? Well, they'd wasted their time. She was out of here as soon as she'd rounded Jono up and thrown a few things into a suitcase. She still had the credit-card Emma had given her, as well as some savings of her own. She'd go・ somewhere.
Yanking the door to their apartment open, she marched past the couple entwined on the couch without so much as a glance. "They found me. I'm leaving, and if you ain't too busy, feel free ta join me," she snapped, storming into her room and slamming the door.
About a minute and a half later, Jono had shooed the girl out, yanked on some clothes, and tapped on her door. She reached back and yanked it open, still piling clothes into a suitcase. "You comin' with me?" He nodded. "Then go pack."
He nodded again and vanished into his own room. Ten minutes later, he was back out・ just in time to catch Rogue and Gambit climbing through the window. Under the circumstances, he could probably be forgiven for the extremely rude series of gestures with which he greeted them.
"What are YOU two doing here?" Jewel scowled, folding her arms as she stood in her bedroom doorway. "If you're trying the 'come home, all is forgiven' schtick, then yer too late. Wolverine and Storm got me at work.
"Damn." Remy unbundled himself and gave her an apologetic look. "Sorry, petite. We were coming here t' warn you dat dey were coming. Guess dey beat us to it."
Jewel nodded, relaxing slightly. "By about an hour."
"Told ya we wouldn't make it." Rogue stretched and winced. "All that 'cause ya didn't get her phone number・"
"Oh, hush." Remy scowled, adjusting his sweatpants gingerly. "YOU try thinkin' clear under dose circumstances."
Jewel's eyes narrowed. "Oh, guys? How did you know that they suddenly knew where ta find me."
Remy winced. "Don' hate me, petite. Remy was tortured for de information."
"I swear, it wasn' until Logan slashed・uhm・" He went a little red. "Well, let's just say I got stitches in one of two small but very important reasons for my existence, hahn?"
Jewel and Jono winced in unison. ~Shite. Poor bugger.~
"Jono sympathises." Jewel sighed. "Look, guys, it's good ta see you again・ really・" she smiled for the first time, "but we gotta finish packing and book a flight. We'll talk on the way to the airport, okay?"
"We'll call the airport and help ya pack," Rogue volunteered.
"Great. Feel free ta stay in the apartment until they calm down over us getting' away, the rent's paid up until the end of the month." Jewel looked at Jono. "So・ uh・ where will we go?"
~Home. My home, I mean. England.~ Jono's signs were fast and decisive.
"Right. England. London?"
"Okay. Rogue, can ya get us two first class to London, asap?" Jewel headed back to her room, then paused, frowning.
"Have you noticed that Storm's been actin' weird lately? Kinda irrational and stuff?"
Before Remy could answer, Rogue had nodded. "Storm ain't been herself for a long time now. Ah just figured it was stress, what with Onslaught and Zero Tolerance and all. Ah mean, ain't none of us been at our best."
"Maybe・" Jewel frowned, looking unconvinced. "I don't think it's just that, though. Just noticed it today, but her hands are kinda shakin' a little, and I don't think her eyes are focusing properly. Do either of you know when her last medical exam was?"
End Part Thirteen