To the Gallows Foot and After: Part 2

Melissa Nolen

The dream started as it always did . . .

She was back in Australia, the cold wind cutting into her shorts clad legs. Clothes designed for Southern California didn't offer much protection in the Australian Outback at night. She was scared, her stomach muscles clenched so tight that she wanted to just curl up in a ball. But she didn't curl up, she kept walking until she stood in front of the man nailed to the large X shaped cross. Her stomach roiled and twisted as once again she looked at the damage the Reavers had inflicted on him in their quest for vengeance.

She remembered this; knew this dream well. This was where it had begun -- where one mall rat had formed an unlikely friendship with a man called Wolverine. The sequence never varied, she knew it by heart. Knew that once again he would sense her presence and slowly open one eye and say the words that had forever altered her life, "So kid, you gonna help a man or what?" but instead the dream changed around her. Logan looked down into her wide eyes and smiled at her. Shock ran through her, that wasn't supposed to happen. She could see the pain and resignation plainly in his eyes and it frightened her.

This was wrong! Before, yes, he had been in pain but even then she had seen the defiance shining in his eyes. She took a step towards him to play out her role of rescuing him and nursing him back to health, trying to get the familiar dream back on track, but the dream continued off course.

The nailed Wolverine smiled sadly down at her, regret and love and pride in his eyes. "I'm sorry kid. Tried to do right by ya. Tried to give you what ya needed. Sorry I wasn't always there, that I didn't get it right. Want ya to know, I'm proud of ya. Yer strong, stronger than you realize. Remember that."

She didn't like the finality in his voice, the surrender. This had to much of the feeling of a last good-bye to it. She started to argue, "Wolvie, what are you talking about? Shut up and let me get you down from there," but she stopped as Logan continued as if he hadn't heard her protests.

"You and Kitty. . . ," he trailed off again. Jubilee bristled at the mention of Kitty's name. She knew she was being silly but couldn't quite control the stab of jealousy that hit her at his next words, "Failed Kitty too you know. . .Kitty, daughter of my heart." His words cut at her and she felt the tears forming. "You and Kitty . . . you don't get much luckier than me, to find a daughter in Kitty and then to find you, darling."

She shook her head, refusing to let the hurt bother her, remembering back to the first time that she had discovered the link that existed between her and Kitty Pryde. Jubilee didn't want to hear herself labeled as Kitty's substitute, her stand-in, as she had once overheard herself described in a conversation between Jean Grey and Storm. The memory was still sharp and fresh in her mind as if it had happened just days ago instead of years.

She had been going downstairs late one night at the X-Mansion, soon after she and Wolvie had hooked back up with his teammates. She was still unsure of them and they were unsure of her. She had stopped outside of the living room doorway when she heard voices within. Both of them were wondering about Logan's perchance for having young girls attach themselves to him.

She heard Storm say, "He becomes their father figure so easily - Kitty, Elsie Dee and now this child, Jubilee. I know Logan would never do anything improper, but it sometimes worries me the way they attach themselves to him. What is it about him, Jean, that draws them so? And why would a man of Logan's temperament put up with a child following him around? I have seen grown powerful men run when he hits one of his rages. Why don't these children run?"

Jean had answered that night with a light laugh, "Ororo, I don't think you have to be concerned. Logan found a very emotionally satisfying relationship with Kitty. She was the daughter he never had. I've always thought that for him, Kitty and Elsie Dee and now Jubilee remind him of his humanity; that someone needs him, depends on him. As for what they get out of it, `Ro, we live a dangerous life, and I am sure there is great comfort for them in knowing that Logan would do anything it took to make sure they stayed safe. It is I think, why they do not fear him."

Storm had sighed at her response, "Yes, I know Jean but still I can not help but feel that Logan is using this girl Jubilee as some kind of substitute for Kitty. To appease the guilt he feels about letting her think he was dead when we were all living in the Outback. I do not wish the child to be hurt, I like her, but neither do I want Logan to suffer. He has been hurt enough. And for all that the girl is obviously fiercely devoted to him, she is not Kitty. She lacks Kitty's maturity and seriousness."

From her hiding spot, Jubilee heard Jean give a very unladylike snort. "She definitely lacks Kitty's seriousness, but relax, Ororo, I think she and Logan will be fine together. I sense a great deal of strength in this particular child."

Jubilee remembered the rage that had swept through her at the overhead conversation. She forgot her hunger and crept back to the room assigned to her, her thoughts in turmoil. She knew that she and Wolvie had something special going. Was she wrong? Just who was this Kitty Pryde person they were comparing her too anyway? What had been her relationship with her Wolvie? And am I just a Pryde substitute doll?

It was over the next several days when Logan sat her down in front of one of the computer screens and set her to reading the various histories of the X-Men that she ran across her first reference to Kitty Pryde. She quickly scanned for any and all references to the other young woman. When she was done, she was shaking. God, she thought, I can't compete with that. Kitty Pryde had been quiet, studious, talented, and a frigging genius. The records also made clear that she and Wolverine had been extremely close. That day she had felt like some kind of cheap imitation but had never spoken to Logan about her thoughts or her fears. The hurt faded with time as she got closer to Logan and their unlikely friendship grew stronger. Usually the jealousy never crossed her mind but any mention of Kitty usually sent a spike a pain into her gut.

That pain hit her again as Logan continued his ramblings, only now he had switched subjects from Kitty to herself. "Never had a partner like you, kid. Hell, never really had a partner. Worked on teams before, had some good friends in some of those teammates but I never had a partner. Always been the loner, even when I was part of something else." He snorted at some unnamed thought. "Ya know kid, I've been telling people most of my life that I could handle any situation on my own, I think you are the only one ta never believe it. You'll never know how much you've kept me sane . . . . Just wanted you to know. To understand. If Kitty was the child of my heart, you were the keeper of my soul, kid. Remember me." And he disappeared.

No, that wasn't the way the dream went. She looked around frantically at the barren landscape. He was gone. But that wasn't supposed to happen. She had to play her part, she still had to rescue him.

The realization hit her so hard she dropped to her knees in the sand. Rescue! the thought blazed in her head. She understood now. Understood the other vague dreams of searching and helplessness and boiling anger. Wolvie was in trouble and he needed her help for a rescue.

She awoke in the morning better rested than she had been in a week. She remembered everything from the dream, including the frightening one-sided ramblings from Wolverine. She had to find out if she was going crazy or if her suspicions were true. The feeling that Wolverine was in trouble was still strong, pounding at her to do something. First things first though, she had to contact the mansion and see if Wolverine was even there. She was hoping that all of this was just some kind of bad dream but she had a feeling that it was somehow a lot more.

It wasn't until after lunch that she was able to get away from her schedule to use the phone in the library. Her heart racing she dialed the Westchester mansion of the X-men.

"Xavier's," a rough voice barked into the connection.


A suspicious pause before answering, "Yes."

Jubilee chuckled, "Oh, lighten up Bish, it's Jubilee. Man, you really need to work on your people skills."

Without letting the time-lost X-Man get in a reply she jumped to her question. "Listen, can I talk to Wolvie?" She held her breath hoping that any minute Bishop would call Logan to the phone. Bishop's next words turned the knot of worry in the pit of her stomach into a spiked ball.

"Logan is not at the mansion, Jubilation. He left a few days ago on some private business."

Struggling to keep her voice calm she replied, "Oh. Well, thanks. Bye."

She stood staring at the phone in her hand, feeling the icy touch of fear along her spine. Beast's favorite phrase, "Oh, my stars and garters," ran through her mind. He really was in trouble.


"Lass, I know that Logan is yur friend, but ye can't go running off looking for the man on the strength of a bad dream," Sean Cassidy patiently told Jubilee again.

Jubilee shook her head in denial. "He's in trouble." She turned pleading eyes on the headmaster of the Massachusetts Academy. "He needs me."

Sean stood up from where he was sitting behind his desk and walked over to lean against the bookcase. He looked down at Emma who was sitting beneath him on one end of the leather couch, "Emma, you try talking to her."

Emma had been carefully studying the young Chinese-American girl seated at the other end of the sofa. She knew that unlike the other students in Generation X, only Jubilee had any real experience with her and her past activities in opposition to Xavier and the X-Men. The others had just heard stories but Jubilee had direct experience with her and the Hellfire Club and Emma knew that part of Jubilee still did not fully trust her. Emma doubted that even Jubilee realized that when she was in a room with Emma she automatically strengthened her mental shields. Shields that for a non-telepath were surprisingly strong. Jubilee was not going to believe any sweet words or empty phrases from her. She glanced up at Sean leaning solidly against the bookcase and sent a thought to him, *I do not believe she is going to listen to us. If we can not get through to her on this, I suggest we call the X-Men. They might have better luck with her.*

Sean's reply was tinged with his worry over his student, *Agreed.*

At Sean's acknowledgment, Emma looked back at Jubilee. "Jubilee, you are overwrought. You are suffering from insomnia and exhaustion. It is not uncommon for those suffering from sleep deprivation to suffer from delusions."

Jubilee interrupted, "I am not some psycho nut case. He IS in trouble."

"Jubilee, you are suffering. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? Those bruises under your eyes do not tell of a good night's rest. Yesterday morning your concentration was so poor that you failed at a training session that you should have been able to do blindfolded. You have not slept well in days, by your own admission. Every time you do sleep, you are beset with nightmares involving Wolverine. Jubilee, the sleep deprivation is affecting you. These feelings that Logan is in some kind of danger is just another manifestation of that fatigue."

She sat up on the edge of the couch, her hands balled into tight fists, "No!" she exploded. "You don't understand. He is in trouble, I know he is."

Not able to look at the earnest pleading on Jubilee's face, Emma and Sean exchanged glances. Sean got up to place a soothing hand on Jubilee's shoulder. "Ok, lass. We'll call the X-Men."

Jubilee sank back down into the leather cushions of the couch, feeling the relief sweep through her. Sean was going to call the X-Men, everything would be all right now.