Rated: PG-13 couple of dark themes
Disclaimer/ Author's Note: Ok, lets see,
first thing, this is an AU story. That said, I'm making Jubilee early
twenties. Out of Gen X, and either just out of college, or will be soon.
It doesn't really make a difference in the story, I'm just sick of her
being perpetually 13. Normal disclaimers apply, the X-men and the mansion
they live in belong to Marvel. I made up Kent, so I can claim him.
Jubilee sat across from Wolverine in a bar. Their table was next to the window, and she stared outside while absently poking her straw at her soda. Wolverine sat with his hands wrapped around a glass of beer staring at the people inside the bar. With a small grunt, he lifted the glass and tilted his head back to finish off the last drops. Slowly, Wolverine returned the glass to the tabletop, but kept his head in the air. Jubilee looked over at him, watching him sniff the air and narrow his eyes, searching for the cause of the irregularity in the bar scene.
"What's up, Wolvie?"
"Dunno... sumthin' just ain't right." He scanned the room once more then raised an eyebrow when he spotted the source.
"Who is he?" Asked Jubilee when she followed Wolverine's gaze. A young blonde man was approaching the table. He was tall, especially compared to her and Wolverine, probably a couple of inches over six feet. His blonde hair was long enough that it moved a bit with his determined stride, but not enough to get out of place. He walked with long steps, and the movements made his black trench coat fly gracefully behind him. The coat covered a non descript outfit of khakis and a button up shirt. The hormones in Jubilee instantly aged him in his early twenties, 23 at the most. She decided that she liked the appearance of this man; he was confident in his purpose, but also non-threatening. Jubilee hesitated to think anything more, because she knew better than to pre-judge anybody, good or bad.
"I do apologize Mr. Logan, I know how offensive you find me. However, it cannot be helped."
The man now stood at the edge of their table. Jubilee was surprised at his forwardness. Not many people would approach Wolverine so bluntly. Wolverine was not impressed with the man's tactics. He lifted his eyes with a menacing look and growled.
"Let me introduce myself. My name is Kent Alford. I'm here to talk to Miss Jubilation Lee."
Wolverine tensed his whole body. Jubilee looked up at the man, surprised.
"I don't know you."
"True, you don't, but I do know you, and all I ask is that I may speak with you. Your friend, Mr. Logan, however, is not invited to stay at the table while we speak. I know that I cannot stop him from hearing our conversation, but honestly," Kent paused at looked over at Wolverine who was still lowly growling at him, "Honestly, he intimidates me, and I don't think I'll be able to talk to you with him sitting next to you."
Jubilee raised an eyebrow, impressed and still a bit surprised. She turned to Wolverine, "Wolvie, it's ok. You can go get a seat at the bar and still growl from there. And, you can get another beer too."
Without a word to Jubilee, Wolverine stood up, picked up his beer glass, and then turned and glared at Kent, "Don't try anything, Bub."
Kent smiled lightly, "I never do." He motioned to the waitress and then sat down, not bothering to remove his coat. They sat in silence for a few moments. Kent looked directly at Jubilee's eyes. Jubilee held his gaze for a few beats, but then dropped it. She looked down at her soda.
"So who are you? Why do you know me?"
Before he could answer, the waitress came. "What can I get you?"
"Do you have any Blue Cord here?"
The waitress raised an eyebrow and shook her head. Kent sighed, and gave Jubilee a shrug.
"Not many places I travel to do, but it never hurts to ask." He turned back to the waitress, "I'll drink whatever Mr. Logan is drinking."
The waitress nodded and walked off.
"That's what I love about this place, they never card you."
Jubilee opened her mouth to ask her question again, but paused, and decided to take a different approach. "You know me, you know Wolverine, you've been here before, but you didn't know that they didn't have your favorite drink?"
Kent looked impressed at her observation. Then he looked over at the Wolverine who was sitting at the bar, watching them carefully. The waitress returned with Kent's beer. He grabbed the glass, raised it toward Wolverine then took a drink.
"It's really too bad that he instantly doesn't like me. I find that we have many similar tastes."
Kent continued talking before Jubilee could start again.
"I am not from this universe, Jubilation. I come from an alternate one. That is why Mr. Logan finds my scent offensive, it's not of this world."
"Why are you here?"
Jubilee snorted. "Karma? What kind of answer is that?"
"The best one I have. I travel from universe to universe, but I don't know how. All I know is that when I arrive, you are close by, and I am urged to talk to you."
Jubilee looked over at Wolverine. If he didn't have such an angry look on his face, she would have sworn that he was laughing at the story.
"I am in debt to you. You saved my life."
Jubilee snorted again. "Ok, Bub, whatever you say. So like what, are you here to be my guardian angel?"
Kent opened his mouth to speak, but the silence instead was broken by a scream from outside.
"Nice neighborhood." Kent sarcastically noted.
Jubilee didn't notice his comment. She was looking out the window again, scanning the parking lot for the source of the scream. She looked over at Wolverine, who was already out of the bar. Kent chuckled. Jubilee glared at him.
"This your doing?"
"Then what's with the laugh, Bub?"
"Bub? I think you have been hanging out with your friend Mr. Logan for too long." He paused, taking a deep breath to calm himself. "I don't know if I admire you, or pity you for your life's work of helping people."
When she didn't remark, he continued.
"I have met you many times over, in many universes. And you are always doing the same thing, helping other people over helping yourself. I haven't decided if this is a generous personality trait, or a lack of self confidence, and self worth." Kent himself snorted with an air of irony. "Regardless, the same thing always happens: you give your life to save that of another."
Jubilee opened her mouth in shock. "Wha-? How? Who?"
"The circumstances always change. Sometimes it's early in your life, sometimes after a long life. Sometimes you are a mutant...as you are on this world, right? Fighting those with evil intentions, sometimes you save a family member from petty thugs. Sometimes... sometimes you save strangers from accidents." Kent looked her squarely in the eye. Jubilee widened her eyes in shock.
Kent chuckled again. "You always ask me that. I find it odd having to tell the same person over and over again, especially when she was there. But that logic just confuses me further. On my world, I was a nobody - just a guy going to college with a part time job at a construction company. There are no mutants on my world. The Jubilation Lee there attended the same college. We did not know each other. My construction job was a job on campus. I worked for the company who was building a new building on campus. It was to be a physics building, but at this time, it was no more than I-beams and bolts."
Kent took another drink, and noticed that Wolverine was back at the bar, cooling down from whatever fight he started outside. Kent smiled. The release probably did him good. Jubilee also noticed that Wolverine was back. She raised her eyebrows in question about the situation outside. Wolverine wiped the sweat off his forehead and nodded to her.
"He really is a good friend. In all worlds that both of you exist, you two are friends if but for a little bit, despite the age difference." He paused, and decided to explain a bit further at her confused look. "On worlds with no X gene, Mr. Logan still has incredibly longevity. He always lives long enough to meet you." Raising his glass to Logan once more, Kent spoke looking him in the eye. "Some things *are* universal."
Jubilee smiled at Wolverine. He raised an eyebrow at her from across the room in response.
"I was working on the third level when I saw you pass by. That was the first time I ever saw you. My break was coming up soon anyway, so I decided to come down, maybe introduce myself." He raised his eyebrows in apology when Jubilee gave him an incredulous look. "When I was on the ladder somebody above me dropped a piece of equipment. I don't remember what. Even with my hardhat, it would have knocked me off the ladder, and the fall probably would have killed me. You yelled and ran into the construction site and pushed the ladder on its side. I managed to grab on to the beam before the ladder tipped over. But whatever it was that fell, bounced off the ladder and hit you in the head. You were knocked unconscious. You never woke up."
Kent sighed and finished his beer. He nodded to the waitress for another one. "You sacrificed your life to save me, a nobody in your life. I met your friends and family. You were top of your class in the bio-genetics college. Had great friends, and a great job waiting for you when you graduated. I believe it was a couple of weeks away."
I'm sure you can imagine the guilt I had. I was barely surviving in college, studying business, not liking it, and you die, saving me, in what I've decided it the stupidest accident. I felt like I should have been in a Wiley Coyote cartoon. That took me into deeper depression, because then I realized that by belittling myself, I was further belittling your death."
The next beer came and he chugged half of it down. "If you cannot tell, I still have some issues to deal with. And my traveling has not helped this fact."
Kent finished the beer and then reached into his coat. He pulled out three objects, a cigarette case, a lighter, and a small notebook. Jubilee declined his offer of a cigarette, but did pick up the notebook when he nodded at it. As she flipped through the book, he lit a cigarette, and fingered the lighter. He set the lighter on its end, standing it up on the table.
"That is yours. It was in your hand when I arrived at your side." He pointed at the black book with the cigarette.
Jubilee flipped though a couple of pages in the book, then closed it and tossed it back to him on the table. "I can't read this."
He nodded. "I know. Your version of English is not my native language. Inside is the story of my morbid bane in life. In that book I have written down everything that I have witnessed about you your life,... and your death."
"Not really, but I have it none the less. Maybe I'll translate it for you on my computer."
Kent sighed. He ran a hand though his hair, and then looked at Jubilee in the eyes.
"You are a remarkable soul, Jubilation Lee. And every time I see you it both gives me joy and pain. As that book is testimony, I have become a death omen for you. I arrive, I meet you, and soon something happens, and I have to witness your death once again."
Jubilee was un-phased by his prediction. "So now what? What do you expect?"
Kent sighed. The confidant man was gone, and a sad and depressed man sat across from her, taking a drag from a cigarette and staring at the black book on the table. "I expect nothing right now. Thank you for listening to me. I will be seeing you soon."
"You know, I've heard better pick up lines."
He gave her a cheeky grin. "And I've tried them, but you prefer honesty to cheesy lines."
Jubilee tilted her head a little to look at him differently. "Have I...have you...have we...?"
Kent smiled, raised one hand, and snubbed out the cigarette. "No, nothing more than an innocent drink." He pocketed the cigarette case and the book. Then pulled out his wallet. He tossed some bills on the table. Kent stood up, and adjusted his coat. Reaching over the table once more for the lighter he spoke quietly, so that Wolverine would not hear.
"The one consolation I have is that you always live you life as you want, filling each day." He reached into this coat once more and took out a card and a small knife. He poked his finger and gently put a spot of blood on the card. He handed it to her. "Good night to you Jubilation Lee."
Kent stood upright, and walked out the door with a nod toward Wolverine. Some of his outward confidence had retuned, and he managed to walk out of the bar with his back straight. Wolverine ambled back to the table.
"C'mon Jubes, lets get out of here."
Jubilee looked across the table to where Kent had sat, and then stood up. She nodded and took Wolverine's arm as he led them out the bar.
As Logan drove them back to the mansion, Jubilee sat slumped in the seat staring out the window.
"Do you think he's telling the truth Wolvie?"
"Dunno. I know that I've never smelled him b'fore. Woulda remembered that scent."
"Would you give your life to save a total stranger?"
Wolverine pulled the cigar that he was smoking out of his mouth and raised an eyebrow. He casually shrugged then replaced the cigar in his mouth. Jubilee didn't say anything more during the ride.
Jean walked into the kitchen. It was dark and the rest of the house should have been asleep, but she spotted Jubilee sitting at the table, her hands wrapped around a mug.
"Jubilee dear, what's the matter?"
"I met somebody tonight in the bar."
Jean smirked, "Logan let a guy talk to you while you were with him in the bar?"
Jubilee lightly laughed. "Yeah, well, this guy just had this presence about him. Made you want to listen to him."
"Then what's the problem?"
"He told me that he was my omen of death." Jubilee replied flippantly, but Jean sensed her underlying uneasiness.
Jean slightly jerked her head back in shock. She turned toward the stove and heated up a mug of water. She didn't say anything else until she sat down across from Jubilee with a mug of tea in her hands.
"Who is he?"
"His name is Kent Alford." Jubilee hesitated to say more. Jean smiled reassuringly.
"I can sense that there's more. Please tell me."
"I looked up all the records on him: He died six years ago in a car crash."
"How do you know that it was the same Kent Alford?"
Jubilee pulled out the card with the drop of blood. Besides the blood, there was a phone number and his name in small block letters.
"I ran a DNA test. That blood belongs to Kent Alford. I saw him poke his finger and put the blood on the card. I ran the tests twice. That is Kent Alford's blood."
"Could he be impersonating him?"
Jubilee sighed and took the card back, holding it delicately by its edges. "If, someone had taken Kent Alford's blood before he died and froze it for later use, it would have shown slight signs of decomposition. No matter how well you freeze it, blood does not stay in prime condition after *six* years."
Jean took a sip of tea. She gently entered Jubilee's mind to give her a feeling of assurance. Jubilee smiled when she felt Jean's touch.
"So he faked his death."
"He said that he was like, from an alternate universe. He travels and meets me, just in time to see me die. I got the feeling that he doesn't like it, but still can't help it."
"So you believe him."
Jubilee looked down at the card in her hand again. "I...I don't know."
Jean reached across the table and took hold of Jubilee's hands.
"You are a strong woman, Jubilation. I have seen you grow to who you are today. And one thing that has never changed is that you face what scared you. We are all here for you Jubilee."
Jubilee smiled at Jean. She closed her eyes, remembering and feeling the family and safety that the X-men gave her. Jean stood up and placed her mug in the sink. She looked once more at Jubilee and then entered the dark hallway.
End Part 1