Birthday Wish: Parts 1-12
Author・s Note and
Disclaimer: ・The Birthday Wish・ is the beginning of an extended story
known simply as ・The Venus Factor・. Events within this part of the tale
take place in a niche that I have carved out between ・X-Men Unlimited・
#34 and ・Uncanny X-Men・ #402, about 3.5 years after the disbanding of
the Generation X team. Cut me a little slack and just run with the time
line. As always, these characters are not mine, nor is any profit made
off of using their likenesses. If anyone from Marvel ever reads this,
this true believer would love to write for you. And stop dismissing
Jubilee; she・s a great character. Until that day, MMM!
New Day Dawning
Monet awoke, her
eyes going to the calendar that hung by her bed. It was Jubilee's birthday.
'Please let this year be different,' she thought to herself desperately
as she crawled out from under the covers and made her way towards the
Further down the hall, Jubilee was still sleeping. Knowing her friend,
she wouldn't be up for several hours still. If there was one thing that
Jubilation was definitely not, it was a morning person. Monet stuck
her head into her roommate's bedroom briefly. 'Yep, sleeping like a
Continuing on to the kitchen, Monet pulled out a notebook that had all
of the details for Jubilee's surprise party that was going to be held
later that evening. Everything had been taken care of... Everything
except, she remarked to herself again, the one guest that Jubilee would
really want to see... Wolverine.
Monet shook her head in frustration. It had been more than three years
since Generation X had disbanded. Three years since Monet had moved
out to Los Angeles to join Angelo and Jubilee. Three years since Jubilee
had seen her friend, mentor, and father figure. 'Three years of hell,'
Monet commented to herself, thinking back on all of the mood swings
and periods of depression that her roommate had been through, all relating
back to the lack of one short, furry X-Man in her life. 'That's not
fair,' she conceded, reminding herself that it had been Jubilee herself
that had cut the tie, that it was Jubilee herself that had wanted to
move back to southern California... And she had done well, for the most
part, carving out a new life for herself with new friends. Most days,
she admitted, Jubes was what she always had been: strong, self-reliant,
and carefree. Most days, but definitely not her birthday.
Monet sighed. She did not always approve of Wolverine, or her roommate's
feelings for him (which she suspected transcended the bond of friendship),
but she did have to admit that the man had always come through for her.
At least until she had left for Los Angeles. Now it had been three years,
and he had not shown up once.
Not even on Jubilee's birthday.
Which brought Monet back to her initial fears that she had confronted
when she woke... 'Please let this year be different...'
Across Los Angeles, someone else was waking up. He stretched, opening
his eyes slowly and taking in the small, drab hotel room that he had
taken. Aside from the morning sunlight streaming in between the closed
curtains, nothing was different from when he had gone to sleep the night
before. His glance rested on the desk, where three wrapped boxes sat
silently, as though accusing him.
"When Jubes wants to see me, she will," he snarled at the
boxes in retaliation to their silent accusation. "I'm here, just
like I am every year. And will be every year..." The man known
as Wolverine trailed off, a look of uncharacteristic pain on his face.
"I won't ruin her birthday."
Hours later, Jubilee awoke to the warm California midday sun. Smiling
to herself, she pulled on her fluffy bunny slippers. She paused in front
of the full-length mirror, admiring herself. "Not bad, old lady...
Not bad!" she offered, looking at her reflection. She was wearing
a pair of red bikini underwear and a white tee shirt that was stretched
taut across her chest. "Not a little girl anymore, am I?"
she asked her reflected self. She turned to leave the room and looked
back over her shoulder, giving the mirror one last glance to the mirror.
"Like what you see now, Wolvie?" she asked quietly, speaking
to the air. Taking a deep breath, she left her room, closing the door
Part 2: Yesterday
Jubilee smiled as she walked into the kitchen, grabbing the Sugar Bombs
from the cabinet. Leaning back against the counter, she began eating
them straight from the box. Just like any other morning.
Monet shot an appraising glance at her roommate's attire and disheveled
hair and then looked at the clock on the wall. "I have a hard time
understanding how even you could think that three in the afternoon was
the morning," she replied.
"Well, we all have our days," the short Asian girl replied,
pausing her meal to twist her long, dark hair up and out of the way.
"Today happens to be mine."
"So, it is... Happy Birthday, Jubilee," Monet said, her face
splitting into a warm smile.
They hadn't always been the best of friends... Hell, there were many
times that they had downright hated each other. After Everett's death,
however, Jubilee had been the only person who understood what she was
going through. And that meant something. They had been through a lot
since she had moved out to L.A. to join Jubilee and Angelo, and it hadn't
always been easy ・specially after Angelo left last year- but Monet
was proud to call Jubilee a friend.
She stood from the table to give her a hug. "So, how long will
it take you to get ready for a birthday shopping trip?" Monet laughed.
"I thought I would let you choose your own present this year since
you never seem to like anything that I choose."
"Schowpink?" Jubilee grinned through a mouthful of cereal.
She slammed the box back onto the counter, dashing for her room. "Give
me five minutes!" she called over her shoulder.
Monet laughed to herself. Their friends had wondered how she would get
Jubilee to agree to leave the house on a day that she traditionally
spent moping in her room, but Monet had known it wouldn't be a difficult
Three and a half minutes later, Monet was shutting the door behind them,
careful to leave it unlocked.
'Goodmornin', Sleepin' Beauty,' Logan smiled from the top of a neighboring
building, looking down at Jubilee as she and Monet walked out of their
apartment building. His breath caught in his throat; he hadn't seen
her since her last birthday. Long gone were the days of the yellow raincoat
and shortalls... Today she wore a black miniskirt with a small, red-
striped shirt, and a pair of sporty sneakers. Her hair was up in pigtails.
Logan closed his eyes, imagining her standing close too him, looking
up at him, pretending to pout. "Wolvie, I'm not a kid..."
she would whine.
"Don't I know that now?" he asked himself aloud, his voice
pitched low in a primitive growl. He watched her walk down the street.
It was all that he could do...
'Do I do this for her, or is it really for me?' he wondered, not for
the first time since waking. When he had come here the first time, it
was only because he couldn't imagine Jubilee's birthday passing and
not seeing her.
They had never had a falling out... They just drifted apart. He could
see now that it had begun when she had left Xavier's mansion to join
Generation X. As Jubilee had gotten older, there was a part of her that
was simply cut off from him. His Jubes, his little firecracker... And
there was a part that just wasn't his. As time had passed, the part
of her life that he was excluded from grew bigger and bigger, the gaps
between his visits to see her at Emma's school longer and longer, and
the palpable tension between them thicker and thicker.
Then one day she was just gone, leaving him feeling cold and alone.
He wondered what he had done... He assumed he must have done something.
Why else, even with the difficulties they had had, would she have left
him with out a word?
Despite the fact that she had left him no forwarding address, he refused
to believe that she wouldn't want to see him. After a few months, he
finally tracked her down through Monet, who had sent a letter to one
of the GenXers that happened to be visiting the mansion... He couldn't
remember which of the little brats it had been. All he remembered was
that return address that he had read from a crumpled envelope held twenty
feet across the room. The way he figured, with his enhanced senses,
there was no way that he couldn't have seen it. Surely she wouldn't
mind him just knowing where she was.
Months later, when her birthday rolled around, he decided it was time
to find her.
Logan flew to Los Angeles, and had found himself standing on top of
the building across the street from Jubilee's apartment. He wasn't snooping,
he told himself, eager to rid his conscious of guilt. He was waiting.
Waiting for the moment when he would know that she was waiting for him...
Waiting for her to...
Logan shook his head, clearing it of the unwanted memory. He still didn't
know what he had wanted Jubilee to wait for him for. He didn't deserve
it. So he had waited alone that year. The entire day he waited, and
never even saw her. The blinds were drawn, the windows darkened. He
wasn't even sure if she had been home. He had debated on whether or
not to leave the gift, but in the end decided he would hold onto it
and save it. If Jubes didn't want him knowing where she was yet, well,
he wouldn't tell her he knew.
He carried himself back to the present. Picking up a bottle of whiskey,
he took a long swig. Should he have followed her? While it pained him
that he might not see her again today, he dismissed the thought instantly.
It was bad enough that he was lurking on rooftops and looking through
windows like some sort of sick peeping tom, he thought, shuddering to
himself. No matter how much he wanted to see Jubilee, there was no call
to resort to stalking. Hell, he'd kill any other asshole on the spot
that he caught doing the same thing to her, no questions asked.
Mulling over this disturbing thought, his mind swung back to last year.
He had held his vigil on the same rooftop again, eager for a chance
to even see his beloved little girl. He recalled how, two bottles of
scotch into the day, he finally saw her through her bedroom window.
He had watched her watch movies through the window all afternoon and
long into the night. He pictured himself in her room with her, content
with her companionship, he sitting on the bed with his back against
the same window he stared through, she laying in his lap, comfortable
in the cute pajama pants and tank top she was wearing. He could see
himself there, playing with her surprisingly long hair... He pretended
that that's where he was throughout the evening. What a night they would
have had... His sensitive eyesight watched every minute of every movie
with her. He was too far to hear the words, but he didn't need to. They
were all of their favorite movies. The night ended without his Jubes
looking out the window longingly, or even picking up the phone. The
last movie ended and then her light was gone. Another year gone by.
Another year where she hadn't needed or wanted him.
He sat on the rooftop, knees drawn to his chest, silently smoking a
cigar and sipping off of the whiskey, settling in to wait for Jubilee's
hopeful return. He looked at the sun overhead. On a day like today,
a man out in the open would much prefer a cold beer, but he would have
felt asinine bringing a cooler with him. Whatever this was, it was no
picnic. Steeling himself for the wait, Logan asked himself for the thousandth
time why the hell he had bothered to come here.
Part 3: Catharsis
and no Wolvie in sight. Jubilee sighed to herself as she picked up a
hat from a shelf, vaguely considering it. Too big? She couldn't decide.
Frustrated, she put the hat back and turned to Monet.
"M, maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I know that you meant well,
but I really... Don't feel like shopping." She smiled weakly at
the dark beauty standing nearby. "I tried, honest injun, but...
I think I just want to go home."
"Jubes, you know, you can't go on like this forever," Monet
replied, taking her friends hand and leading her out of the store to
a nearby bench. Before continuing, she took a deep breath, preparing
herself. This was a topic that had never been breached between them.
"I don't want to sound cruel, but you're the one who left. You
haven't called. You never told him where you were going..."
"Him? What the hell are you talking about?" Jubilee cut in
hotly, rising from the bench. "I left because I wanted to come
back home. I haven't called because there's no one that really wants
to hear from me. I never told him..." She trailed off futilely,
crumpling back onto the bench, tears in her eyes.
"Is that what you've been telling yourself all this time?"
Monet asked gently, taking her friend's slim hand.
"I..." Jubilee looked down into her lap. After a moment, she
raised her eyes to meet Monet's again. "I had to go. I loved him.
I still love him. I... I think I always will. If I was near him again...
If I saw him or talked to him, I couldn't hide that. Not any more. And
I refuse to hurt him."
"Hurt him?" Monet asked, perplexed. "How on Earth would
you loving him hurt him?"
"How couldn't it? I was always his little girl... I won't take
that memory away from him. I won't have it tarnished with idea of an
obsessive, emotionally unstable, weak woman. I won't. I want Wolvie
to remember me like I was- innocence in a yellow jacket, running after
him to help save the day."
"Well, if that's what you really think and that's what you really
want, you're in luck, Jubes. That's what you've got. Birthday wish come
true," Monet said, an edge in her voice. She hoped it would shock
some sense into her roommate. "If that's not what you really think,
though, and if it's not what you really want, maybe it's time to reconsider.
It's been almost three years, and I don't know what it is about your
damn birthday, but I don't think that I can take another year of this.
It's not fair." With that, she got up and left, not waiting for
Jubilee's response. She knew that Jubilee was furious with her, but
hopefully, deep inside, she was furious with herself as well.
Part 4: A Wolf
in Sheep's Clothing
As she ran
from the mall, tears streaming shamelessly down her cheeks, Jubilee
ran right smack into a thick body. "I'm... I'm sorry," she
stuttered, looking up briefly before backing away and continuing out
The man watched her retreating back, a faint smile playing on his lips.
"It's quite alright. Quite..."
He made his way through the crowd to a deserted pay phone. "I've
found her. Or rather, she found me. I'll be continuing as we had planned."
He hung up the phone, his eyes flashing yellow, and then followed her
out the door.
"Logan, are you there?"
Charles Xavier's voice cut through the silent afternoon. Logan shot
a baleful glance at his wrist to the small radio that Hank had put in
"Chuck, I told you that I needed a few days away. It's really not
a good time," he growled.
"Logan, I'm sorry to bother you, but something has come up and..."
"Listen, bub. I don't think you heard me. It's not a good time."
With a snarl, Logan ripped the watch from his arm and tossed it over
the side of the building.
Immediately he felt guilty. What was the point? Jubilee would never
ask for him. Even if she did, why the hell would she look for him on
the roof of the building across the street? What did he think he would
gain by this other than pain? Why did it have to hurt so much? He couldn・t
understand what was making him behave like this, but whatever it was
it was time to put it on a shelf.
He stood, not understanding his wound, but accepting it. Maybe it was
time to think about healing it.
He worked his way slowly down the fire escape towards the street. He
had to find his watch and see what Charles had wanted. He froze halfway
down when he saw Jubilee walking down his side of the street.
It had taken her almost two hours to make it home. She didn't consciously
take one path or another, but rather had let her feet choose for her.
Eventually, they had found her street.
After she had finally stopped crying, she had started thinking, all
of her thoughts swirling around her former partner. 'Wolvie,' she thought
to herself, 'what I wouldn't give to have yah here with me now. You'd
understand. I know yah would, even if you didn't reciprocate my feelings.
And you would make it all okay, just like always.'
She knew that she was lying to herself, but figured that if she was
wishing, she might as well go all out.
'You'd love me, too.'
By the time she had made it as far as her own turf, she had reconciled
with the fact that she owed Monet an apology. A big one. This hadn't
been her first outburst... Far from it.
On her first birthday in Los Angeles, almost a year after they had arrived,
Jubilee had locked herself in her room for almost a whole week. Finally,
Angelo had actually knocked the door down and literally dragged her
back into the real world.
Last year, she had just shut herself away for the day. The only comment
Monet ever made about it was the next day, when she had asked Jubilee
if her telepathic powers were finally gaining strength.
"Why?" Jubilee had asked, curious.
"You were projecting yesterday," was all that she had said
Jubilee sighed. She hated admitting that she was wrong, but it was time
to put the fires out on a few of the bridges in her life.
She looked up to cross the street to her building and froze. Not twenty
feet away from her, leaning casually against the wall with a knee propped
up and a cigar in hand... Smiling at her, his eyes crinkling around
"Wolvie!" She crossed the distance in a heartbeat and threw
her arms around his neck, burying her head in his chest. "You...
You're here!" she stammered in disbelief, tears welling in her
"Did you think I would miss today for the world, darlin'?"
he replied, still smiling down at her. He pulled her close, nuzzling
his mouth in her hair close to her ear. "Happy birthday, Jubes."
Part 5: Double
died at the sound of her voice. He thought he was a goner for sure when
he realized she was calling his name. He had been caught. He flushed
bright red, trying to ready any excuse at all that might seem plausible.
It took a moment for him to hear his brain telling him that it wasn't
anger in her voice; it was joy.
Everything was moving in slow motion, including his reactions.
He inhaled deeply, smelling her emotion. No hate, no anger, no fear.
Just excitement, happiness, and love. He sighed to himself, relaxing,
"You... You're here!" he heard her cry.
"Did you think that I would miss today for the world?" He
heard himself saying those words, the voice sounding distant in his
ears. "Happy birthday, Jubes."
He gathered himself to pounce down to where she stood below the fire
escape. His Jubilation, his Jubilee... He looked to the ground, and
a sickening wave of nausea hit his gut.
She wasn't talking to him.
Logan recovered quickly, time speeding back up to its normal flow. He
leaped from the building, landing with cat-like precision only a few
yards in front of where his mirror image was still holding Jubilee.
His lips curled back in a howl of rage and his claws popped to readiness.
Jubilee started at the sudden animal cry of fury behind her. She turned,
still safely protected in her Wolvster's arms. Nothing could hurt her
Her eyes popped open wide, and then she fainted dead away.
The arms that held Jubilee shifted quickly, flipping her around. One
arm snaked around her throat, holding up her dead weight in a vicious
chokehold. The other flew up in readiness.
"Well, that was much easier than we expected," a voice laughed
fervently. This time it was not his own voice, but rather another that
he recognized. His skin bristled. Mystique.
Before his eyes, her body morphed. She stood before him, blue skin fading
into the shadows of the dying afternoon.
He leapt for her, teeth clenched. "You bitch!" he snarled.
"Ah-ah-ah! Play nice, 'Wolvie'," she chided, smiling thinly
and stepping away with Jubilee, her chokehold tightening. "You
would kill me, but you also know that I would have more than enough
time to snap her pretty little neck. And we wouldn't want that, now
would we? Why don't you be a good little cub and take a nice big step
He knew that she was right. Shaking with barely contained fury, he complied,
taking a large step away from them.
"Now," Mystique continued, a coy smile crossing her features,
"since I have your attention, why don't you listen to me?"
Part 6: Crashing
since I have your attention, why don't you try listening to me?"
Her voice rang hollowly in his ears. It was all he could do to keep
himself in check and not lash out blindly. "Jube..." he groaned,
one hand reaching out slowly towards her still face.
Mystique took another step away from him. "If you behave, she will
live. If you don't," Mystique paused, shrugging, "she won't.
It's really quite simple."
Logan's arms dropped to his side and he hung his head. After a moment,
he looked up again, meeting Mystique's cautious glare. His eyes were
tinged with pain. "What do you want? I'll... I'll do anything.
Just let her go."
He hated it, but he knew he didn't have a choice. The beast in his head
told him not to worry, however. As soon as Jubilee was safely away,
he could take matters back into his own hands.
As though reading his mind, Mystique replied. "She won't be going
anywhere just yet. Someone wants to see you, and they don't want all
of your pesky X-Men along for the ride. We'll be keeping Jubilee as
an insurance policy. You'll do what you're told." She paused and
then sneered openly at him. "You're pathetic, you know. He's got
your balls in a vise grip, and there's not a damn thing you will let
yourself do about it."
Logan bristled, and Mystique began backing away. "You'll stay right
there for five minutes. Don't think she won't be dead in less time than
it takes to blink if you don't. I will kill her." Ten feet away.
Twenty. "We'll be in touch, Wolverine. Be a good cub, and stick
around here where we can find you. Wouldn't want anything to happen
to our little girl, would we?" Thirty feet. Forty. And then they
were gone around the corner.
Logan surged forward, but then made himself stop. He had no way of knowing
whether Mystique wasn't standing right there, waiting to kill his Jubilee
if he followed.
"Shh! Shh! Somebody's here!"
Monet looked up from the cake that she was putting candles in. Finally,
Jubilee was home. Monet crossed her fingers, hoping her roommate wouldn't
freak out about the party.
Someone dimmed the lights, and Monet lit the candles.
Sighing, Monet blew out the candles and hit the light switch closest
to her. Whoever it was, it wasn't Jubilee since they were knocking.
They definitely had horrible timing... Jubes should have been back at
least an hour ago; she was likely to show up any minute.
She crossed the room to the door and peaked through the peephole. Wolverine!
She started back, surprised. Maybe this afternoon wouldn't be so bad
Opening the door, Monet looked at the X-Man. He seemed... ragged. A
hundred things came to mind, but she didn't vocalize any of them. Instead,
she gave him a tight smile. "Ah, the uninvited party guest."
He looked at her curiously, and then she saw his eyes flash behind her,
taking in the situation. "Monet, we need to talk," he said,
his face blank.
"I'm not sure that I'm the one that you need to be talking to,
mister," she replied, motioning for him to come in. "In any
case, you need to get out of the doorway. We're trying to have a surprise
party here, and Jubilee should be back any minute."
"That's kinda what we need to talk about. I don't think Jubes is
coming back today. Why don't you send these folks home?" he said,
gesturing to the room full of guests.
"Wolverine, what the hell did you do this time?"
"So let me get this straight... Jubilee was taken by Mystique.
You don't know where. You don't know to whom. You don't even know why
yet, except that someone was trying to get to you." Monet sat in
a chair across from Logan, shaking her head.
"That's pretty much the sum of it," he admitted. His head
was still hung. Emotions crowded his head, shame first and foremost.
He was never able to protect those that he loved. He always put them
in danger. He always failed them. He closed his eyes trying to block
out the pain. This was why he avoided people. This is why he was always
brusque. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized this was selfish;
it was more to protect him than to protect anyone else. But Jubilee...
Never in a million years would he have intentionally endangered her.
She was his... Well, he didn't know what she was anymore, or even what
his feelings were for her, but he sure as hell wouldn't have wished
this on her.
"So what do we do now?" the girl across him asked. No admonishments,
no rebukes. Just a levelheaded response. He grudgingly admitted to himself
that she was one hell of a woman.
"Well, I will wait until I hear from them, whoever they are. And
call Chuck," he added, remembering that he never had found his
watch. "You," he added, "will continue on with whatever
it is you do." He withdrew the emotion from his face and looked
up to meet her eyes. "This doesn't concern you."
"This doesn't concern me?" she screamed, any sign of 'levelheadedness'
fading away as her voice rose. "How the hell can you sit in my
house, talking about my roommate -who, when I last checked, you haven't
even talked to in almost three years- and have the nerve to tell me
that it doesn't concern me? What do you have, balls of steel? You obviously
think with them. It seems to me that this whole damn thing is your fault!
You obviously couldn't prevent it, so what makes you think you'll be
able to fix it by yourself?"
Logan looked at her blankly. He turned to the kitchen, where the keg
that had been brought for the party was still on ice. Pouring himself
a beer, he gave Monet a grim smile. "Adamantium, babe, not steel.
Now, if I can use your phone to call Xavier?"
Part 7: Awakenings
in a dark, cramped space. She was bound and gagged. She panicked, trying
to remember how she had gotten here.
Wolvie... He had come for her after all. A brief wave of calm flooded
her as she recalled his rugged face smiling at her, his arms holding
her. And then... the other Wolverine. Feral. Dangerous. Furious. It
was the last thing that she remembered. Surely they weren't the same
man... Wolvie had never threatened her before. Even though she had abandoned
him, he would never consciously hurt her in any way. Would he?
She sat in the dark, her worst fears flooding her heart. Surely Logan
hadn't done this to her? She lay silently in the dark, wondering how
they had been brought to this point. Crying, she slipped back into unconsciousness.
Back at Monet and Jubilee's apartment, Logan was laying on Jubilee's
bed. He had just gotten off of the phone with Charlie. He considered
"Logan, I tried to tell you that something was wrong, but you wouldn't
"Chuck, you know damn well that 'Cerebro picked up something strange'
isn't the same thing as 'I told you so'," he had growled.
"You are correct, Logan, but... Maybe we could have avoided the
situation," his friend offered.
"Right, I gotcha, bub. It's my fault. I hear you loud and clear."
"Logan, that's not what I'm saying. Please stop being difficult
just because you are upset. I am worried about Jubilation as well, you
know. You're not the only one that misses her."
"I know that, but it's different and you know it. I l... I don't
know what I would do if she was gone."
"Well, in case you haven't noticed, she's been gone for three years,
Logan, and has been doing quite well for herself.・
Logan declined to respond, instead asking, "Do you have any idea
who I'm up against here?"
"No, unfortunately not, but I will continue to monitor the situation
and let you know as soon as I find anything out. I'll send a new watch
out with the team..."
Logan cut him off. "No, Chuck, this one's mine. I'm handling it
alone. Airmail the watch."
"Logan..." Xavier had paused. "Very well. You have three
days before I send out the team. I won't allow Jubilation to be harmed
because you won't accept help."
Logan hung up the phone.
The dying light through the window created shadows that played across
the wall. They silently echoed the thoughts that filled his head.
'Yeah, I sure am the best at what I do,' he considered ruefully. 'I've
never met anyone as good at getting people killed.'
In his mind, he tore apart every interaction that he had ever had with
Jubilee. What had brought them to this point? Always she had stood beside
him, supporting him, accepting him, loving him... Even when he had run.
She was always there waiting for him when he had buried his wounds deeply
enough to return. What had changed that had given her such a wound that
she would run herself? He had failed her, and now he had to pay the
price. He hoped desperately that it wasn't too dear.
He looked around her room. His senses were flooded with her. Her furniture,
her clothes, her pictures... He breathed in deeply. Her scent. He stood
and walked over to her desk. Books, notebooks, pictures of people that
he didn't know. He moved closer to the closet. Well, she still loved
shopping, though her taste had obviously changed. A lot of black; not
so much fabric. He ran his rough fingers over a silken halter- top and
unconsciously moaned as he pictured her in it. He shut his eyes and
held it to his nose, rubbing the fabric against his cheek. Jubilee...
His head fell and he slumped onto the floor of the darkened closet.
He'd been without her for so long. He hadn・t even known how he felt
until she was gone, and even then he hid it from himself because it
made him feel dirty. Jubilee was practically his daughter・ wasn・t she?
Now that he knew she really did want to see him...
For the third time in his life that he could remember, Logan cried.
Part 8: Charlantry
me again why I work for you?" Mystique said glaring at the imposing
blue man that stood in front of her.
The room they stood in was stark and sterile. Several doors led from
the metallic interior, which was sparsely decorated with desk and a
small laboratory area.
"Why, that's elementary, dear," Sinister sneered. "I
was the highest bidder. There's something immensely rewarding about
knowing that furthering science won out against all of the other petty
causes you've championed."
"I didn't sign on with you for any great cause, and I certainly
didn't sign on with you to be your errand girl," she frowned.
"No, you didn't. And I didn't hire you to have you question my
plan, either. I told you... I'm doing an experiment. I require your
aid because of your unique talents. That is all that you need to know
until I find it necessary to tell you more," he replied roughly.
"For now, I need you to wake the girl, but make sure you give her
another injection first. She needs to be fed. Make sure you look like
you're wearing a collar as well. And smoke a cigar before you go in
there; I want this to be absolutely convincing."
"Jubes... Jubes, hon, wake up," a voice pried her gently from
"Wo-Wolvie? S'that you?" Jubilee said groggily, shaking some
of the sleep from her head. She felt drugged. Propping herself up on
her elbows, she realized that she was no longer bound. Artificial light
streamed in from the door, which was now propped open. "I... Where
"I'm not sure, darlin'. I haven't been able to find out much yet...
These collars," he growled, fingering his own, "seem to block
our mutant powers, and they can transmit a heavy shock, too. So don't
you go misbehavin'. I don't want you getting hurt. I'll take care of
you, I promise."
Jubilee looked at Wolverine, confused. He didn't want her to fight?
Why was she in this closet but he seemingly could go anywhere he wanted?
Why the hell couldn't she think clearly?
Her thoughts were interrupted as Wolverine began pulling a wrapped-up
sandwich from his shirt. "Food?" she asked, her mind suddenly
dominated by the hollow feeling in her stomach.
"Yeah, smuggled this in for you. You need to eat it slowly so that
your body can process it. I'm not sure how many days it's been since
you ate anything," he said, offering her the sandwich.
"Days?" she asked, shocked. Surely she hadn't been sleeping
that long... Surely it hadn't been more than a few hours. She began
chewing on the sandwich as slowly as her ravenous hunger would allow.
"How many days?"
"Well, it's been about six days since I saw you on the street by
"Yeah... Listen, hon, I hear someone coming this way. I'm gonna
scoot. You eat and then get some sleep. I'll come back when I can."
He withdrew from the cramped quarters, his fingertips grazing her cheek
as he pulled away, the light going with him as the door was tightly
shut again. She heard the bolt slide home, locking her in.
'Six days?' she thought, horrified. If no one had found her yet after
six days, there was a good chance that rescue was not coming.
"So how did everything go?" Sinister asked as Mystique walked
back through the main room, morphing back into her own skin.
"Perfectly. She swallowed everything," the shape-shifter replied.
Part 9: Laying
rang once, and Logan sat up in bed. He listened to the quiet conversation
on the other side of the apartment.
"Yeah, I'm here. No, Jono, they haven't contacted him yet,"
he could hear Monet whispering.
He smirked. As though whispering did any good with him around.
"Are you really waiting two more days before you come out? Can't
you just say you 'happened' to be in L.A.? Or I could say that I had
already invited you, and forgot that you were coming... Please? I don't
want to see Jubilee hurt just because this prick thinks he can take
on the world by himself."
Logan bristled slightly, but stayed in place.
"Alright, well, I'll see you tomorrow, then. I guess that's an
acceptable compromise. But if something happens, I'm calling you. Okay.
Good to talk to you to, Jono. Bye."
Logan lay back down, staring into the night, running his options through
his head. Shortly before dawn he left the apartment.
When Jubilee awoke, Wolverine was lying next to her, his arms wrapped
protectively around her, seemingly still asleep himself. Her head felt
What the hell was Wolverine doing here? And where was 'here' anyway?
She snuggled against him, not willing to give this up, even if it was
a dream, and drifted back to sleep.
Wolverine looked at the map that was laid out before him. The signal
that Cerebro had picked up -which he now knew was Mystique- was from
somewhere within a two mile radius... He had to find out where before
the others were sent out. He had to save Jubilee himself.
He stared at the circled area on the map, waiting for something to jump
out at him. Not surprisingly, it was an industrial sector. Lots of warehouses,
and very little of anything else. He wondered for the thousandth time
how they had known he was here, and who exactly 'they' were.
Whoever they were, they obviously wanted to die.
He stood and stalked out of his motel room into the morning light, heading
for his bike.
Kurt, Bobby, and Warren all sat in a wide-open room at the top of the
Worthington Industries building that overlooked the New York City skyline.
All three were staring at Jonathan Starsmore.
"So tell me again exactly vat Monet said," the blue, elf-like
mutant known as Nightcrawler said, disbelief plain on his face.
~Look, I've already told you,~ he answered, a fist slamming down on
the conference table to stress his words. ~The Professor apparently
told Logan no teams would join the hunt until the day after tomorrow.
He hasn't even said anything to us yet, probably because he knew we
wouldn't wait, but there's no other team that he could pick. Jean has
her hands full at the Institute, and Storm's team is on the other side
of the world. We, on the other hand, have our heads up our asses in
New York City."
"Well, I can't say that I like this any more than you do, kid,
but maybe we should wait for the Professor's blessing," Warren
Worthington replied. "I'm sure if he's giving Logan time there's
a damn good reason for it."
~Why should Wolverine come through for her now?~ Chamber replied, what
was visible of his face twisted into a scowl. ~He abandoned her in Massachusetts,
and from what M says he hasn't even seen her since they got to L.A.~
Bobby Drake looked up at his teammate. "Listen, she didn't exactly
leave a calling card for any of us. Wolverine didn't turn his back on
her, and neither did the rest of us. It wasn't that way. You don't understand..."
he began, but Chamber cut him off.
~No, I don't understand, and neither did she, nor any of the rest of
us, for that matter,~ he interjected. ~We never understood why the X-Men
looked down on us, their younger counterparts. We never understood why
you kept us locked away in Massachusetts instead of in New York where
we could have learned directly from you and helped you. Don't say it's
because we were too young, because Jubilee herself was with the X-Men
long before she was with Generation X. We never understood, Jubilee
most of all, because you used to be her family, and then you sent her
away. From her point of view, at least her first family, her real family,
only left her because someone killed them. You?~ he paused in his rushed,
jumbled thoughts. He shook his head. More calmly, he began again. ~That's
why she left for Los Angeles with Angelo instead of returning to the
Institute. That's why she never said goodbye. And that's why she stayed
in Los Angeles with Monet.~
He glared out the window as the others just sat there speechless.
Part 10: Strange
The sun was
already almost at its zenith. Logan glared up at it, knowing the longer
it took him to find Jubilee the less time that he would have to rescue
her. Without the others. He couldn・t come up with a good reason, other
than personal pride, to want to settle this on his own, but he knew
all the same he didn・t want any of Charles・s help.
He looked at the row of warehouses before him. The third-to-last block
in the area indicated by Cerebro. Door number one? Or maybe door number
six? ・Where are you, darlin?・ he silently pleaded in his head. He turned
his bike towards the building on the far left and continued on.
・How・s our patient today?・ Sinister asked Mystique as she entered the
laboratory, not bothering to look up from where he was writing notes
into a slim black notebook.
・She just got her morning injection. I・m on my way in with breakfast
now,・ she muttered. ・If you need anything else, guv, please just ring
the bell,・ the blue beauty finished sarcastically.
・Oh, I think I・m fine for now, but thank you,・ Sinister replied, a small
smirk gracing his own chiseled blue features.
Grumbling, Mystique・s body shimmered slightly as she changed shapes
and walked down the hall to where Jubilee was being kept. She paused
at a table near the door and picked up an apple, placing it in her pocket.
She looked up at the guard who was flanking the prisoner・s door. ・Has
she woken up yet?・
・Yes, ma・am. I escorted her to the bathroom a few minutes ago,・ he replied
・Blindfolded, I hope?・
・Yes, ma・am. Just like you instructed. And we took several wrong turns,
・Good. Now remember, the signal to let me out again will be the sound
of these claws being dragged along the door. Let・s get this over with.・
The guard took her by the arm and opened the door to Jubilee・s cell.
・You can rot in here with the other mutie scum,・ he snarled, shoving
Mystique into the small chamber, slamming the door behind her.
・You・re back!・ Jubilee quickly crawled across the tight space to where
Wolverine sat crouched. ・Are you okay?・
・Yeah, darlin. I・m fine. Just hungry and tired is all. Here,・ he said,
fishing in his pocket. ・Brought you something.・ He tossed the apple
to her. ・Figured you were probably hungry. I don・t know how much you・ve
eaten since they brought us breakfast yesterday. I saved this just in
・Breakfast? Yesterday?・ Jubilee brought a hand up to her face and rubbed
at her temple. ・I don・t remember breakfast yesterday,・ she admitted,
whimpering slightly. ・I don・t feel right at all. Were you here?・ she
asked, taking a bite of the apple.
・Of course I was, darlin. I・ve been here every minute except when they・ve
been running the tests.・ A look of pain crossed his face.
・Tests?・ Jubilee raised herself to her knees and looked Wolverine as
directly in the eye as she could in the dark. ・What... what are they
doing to you?・ she asked tentatively. ・Are you okay?・ She took one of
his hands in hers, holding it close to her chest. Poor Wolvie. He comes
to rescue her and ends up a lab rat again. Wait. He didn・t come to rescue
her. He was caught with her. By... Wolvie? It was getting to be too
much for her. Tears began rolling silently from her eyes down her cheeks.
・Ah, it・s nothing I haven・t been through before,・ he admitted, taking
the forgotten apple from her hand, helping himself to a bite, and handing
it back. ・Don・t cry, babe,・ he added, wiping her cheek with his hand.
・We・ve got each other, and that・s what matters.・
He drew her to him and she huddled in the lee of his arm, seeking whatever
comfort was available. After a few minutes, the sedative kicked in and
she drifted back to sleep. A single clawed hand reached up and ran down
the length of the door.
Logan looked up at the next building. GeneSearch. Well, it sounded just
as promising as the countless others he had already been through. Frustrated
and tired, he walked through the door.
A stark lobby with no waiting area and a single receptionist・s window
greeted him. A comely brunette looked up from a magazine and met his
gaze. ・Can I help you, Sir?・
・I certainly hope so,・ he answered, pocketing away his weariness and
putting on a smile. ・I・m looking for a friend who works here. His name
is Carl Smith.・
・I・m sorry, sir, but we don・t have anyone here by that name,・ the receptionist
answered, giving him an odd look.
・Are you sure?・ he asked again, falling easily into the script that
he had been using all morning. ・This is GeneSearch, is it not?・
・Yes, sir, it is, but like I said, we don・t have anyone here by that
name. This facility is actually practically empty. There are only a
couple of researchers and some assistants here. And no one by the name
of Carl Smith.・
Wolverine inhaled, and for the first time all day found what he was
looking for. Not a lie, but fear.
・Thank you, ma・am. I must have been mistaken. Have a nice day,・ he replied,
backing out of the door again.
The receptionist looked down at a picture on her desk and then picked
up the phone. ・Sir? You know that man that you told me to look out for?
He just left.・
・Interesting,・ came the quiet, calm reply. ・Can you please page Ms.
Darkholme and have her meet our guest at one of the back doors?・
Part 11: Awakenings,
around the building, his skin on edge. He couldn・t place anything out
of place, at least not more than the scent of a lie, but it was the
best lead he・d had to go on all day.
The only thought in his mind was finding Jubilee. Once again he had
endangered someone he loved. His curse. He shook his shaggy head, frustrated.
It wasn・t fair. He thought of Jubilee, her smile, her sweet air of never-ending
support・ As long as he was being honest with himself, she was the girl
・o, he corrected- the woman that had stood by him through everything.
Sabertooth, Deathstrike, Mariko, Silver Fox・ She had never abandoned
him, despite his ornery disposition. She had always stood by him, accepting
him, never afraid of his inner beast, always waiting for him to come
Until she stopped.
And that・s when he realized how much he needed her.
Or was he just realizing this? He didn・t know anymore. He only knew
he had to find her, had to make everything all right. He still wasn・t
sure what he wanted from her. He didn・t feel safe calling this feeling
love. Not like that, anyway. After all, this was Jubilee. He couldn・t
love her. Could he?
Jubilee awoke in a cold, dark room. She awoke alone and more clear-headed
than she had been in ・ays? She shook her head, shaking away the confusion
that ensued when she considered her captivity.
・Drugged・ I・ve been drugged.・
She took measure of the locked door in front of her and fingered her
collar, trying to build a paf. Nothing doing. ・No doubt, Jubes, you・ve
hopped into the frying pan this time・・
So she・d been drugged. Someone was trying to disorient her. She struggled,
trying to see through the lifting fog in her mind. She must be building
a tolerance faster than her captors anticipated. Her captors・ Who were
they? She remembered her reunion with Wolverine, the other Wolverine,
the Wolvie who had visited her, the incongruities・ She shook her head
again. Could the real Wolvie please stand up? One of them must have
been real. She・d been on the farm roster too long to see this much action
solo. But who knew enough about her to know to use Wolvie against her?
Who would target her? Or was she being used against him?
This thought hit her like a semi. Was someone using her against her
Wolvster? How could she know who the real Wolverine was? Surely one
of them must be・ Even though it hurt her to think it had taken this
to get his attention, a little voice in her head couldn・t help but rejoice:
The side door of the building opened slowly. Logan snapped out of his
reverie, instantly alert. Auburn hair and blue skin wrapped itself around
・Funny meeting you here.・
Part 12: A Turn
of the Dice
Warren sighed, reclining back in his chair, "we've had the chance
to sleep on Jono's little speech. What do you want to do?" he inquired,
looking at Bobby.
"I'd never abandon Jubilee," he answered, snowflakes dancing
between his fingers as he shot a pointed gaze at Jonathan Starsmore,
"despite what some people think. I'm not going to start now."
Warren turned his gaze to Chamber.
"I think you know how I feel, mate."
"So then it's decided," the blue-skinned leader announced,
standing and stretching his wings behind him. "Suite up. Flight
393 on Blackbird Air is departing in five minutes."
"Now, now, cub. That's no way to greet the welcome wagon,"
Mystique laughed, falling easily into a fighting stance.
"Some fucking welcome," Wolverine snarled, swinging at the
"I thought I told you to play nice," she countered, easily
blocking his blow with a roundhouse kick.
"Maybe I don't know how," he growled, already lunging again.
"I think," she said, jumping back and touching a device on
her belt, "that she can still be dead in a second flat."
"You'll be dead in a second," he threatened, moving to attack
"So will she. Just keep that in mind."
Wolverine checked himself, pulling in his claws, growling.
Jubilee tugged her thoughts into reality. 'Stay true, Jubes. Stay true.
Don't let your emotions carry you away. Just remember, you're an X-Man.
You've been in worse situations. You can get through this.'
It was funny. After all this time she still thought of herself as one
of the X-Men. Sure, she'd been 'demoted' to GenX, but still - once you
reach the top of the food chain, there's no going back.
'So what are you going to do to get out of this, Lee?' she countered
herself, trying to keep focus.
She looked around the dark room, seeking anything to move on. 'Wait
and see. Wait and see.'
"So why don't you come with me nicely," Mystique asked, inviting
Logan inside the building.
He snarled in reply, knowing that at this point at least Mystique had
won the coin toss and got to move first. Now he just had to bide his