Author's notes: This takes place in the comic book universe, as for timelines...this starts when Jubilee is about 13 (her neverending age in the comicbooks.) Feedback is loved and craved so please let me know what you think. Also thanks and kisses to Angel_w for her brutal honesty and reading my revisions, email after email.
Story notes: Italics indicate private thoughts
Sweat dripped from Jubilee's face as she heaved the pick again and again at the unweilding wall. Figures, she thought. The one time I get caught and I end up in a bad cowboy movie.
It had begun as a routine mission; there were bad guys and Gen X was sent in to save the day. (Mainly because everyone else had been out for the day). The team had been doing okay until Jubilee misudged an attack and ended up unconcious. Admist all the confusion she was taken and it was only afterwards that her teammates had realised that she was gone.
Jubilee had woken up to find herself in an underground mine that used various alien races as slaves. It hadn't taken her long to realise that the heavy anklets around everyone's legs were power dampners and any attempt to remove them resulted in death. She also learned from her cellmates that no-one ever left the Pits alive.
However, Jubilee had remained confident that sooner or later her friends would come and kick some alien butt, and by the end of the week she would be watching Buffy on tv and eating enough Twinkies and mallowmars to last a lifetime.
"...And all that's left is the emptiness inside that echoes and echoes, until the silence is so loud it hurts your ears..." anon
- Four years later-
She sat crouched in a dark corner, silently contemplating the scene beneath her. A guard was beating a slave with his whip, berating the cowering creature for not making the day's quota. She sat unblinking as the whip flew down a final time, taking the alien's life with it.
Jubilee turned and walked away leaving the scene behind her. It would do her nothing, she had learned, to become involved or care about these indivuals. Friendship meant nothing here, that much she had learned after she realised that no-one was coming to save her. Her hope faded as one day blurred into a week and then a month and finally years. Jubilee questioned the other prisoners very early on in her stay and soon found out that nobody knew what, where or why the Pits were, and no-one ever left the Pit; not even in death.
The years had hardened Jubilee, making her lithe and wiry. The constant fighting for food, water and shelter had made her strong and her body was now riddled with scars, a testament to her will to survive. Her hair had been cropped short, and her youthful body had matured into womanhood. She had been forced to conceal any burgeoning maturity on her body to keep the guards attention away from her. She maintained no innocence about what happened to some of the females when they were singled out by their captors. Time and time again women were forced in to pregnancy and then were torn screaming from their babies as the children were sent to another part of the mine. These women were left in a miasm of despair and often seemed to barely exsist, welcoming death when it found them. Jubilee was determined not to let that happen to her. She had spent enough time on the street and with Wolvie to know how to make herself inconspicuous and she had succeeded now for over four years.
She quickly left the corridors and walked back to a partially concealed room where she slept. It was nothing more than a niche but it provided some measure of safety for Jubilee to sleep. Jubilee settled down with her back to the wall, ever alert and keeping a worn knife within the palm of her hand. Never falling into a deep sleep, her breathing remained quick and shallow, and her eyelids flickered as she dreamt of things that seemed so long ago the figures were dim and the voices faint and distant.
Her heart ached at the blurred faces and a murmmered voice of Wolvie calling her "Darlin". She frowned, as she thought that not even her Wolvie was able to help her now. Jubilee suddenly shook herself awake as she heard a light footfall outside. Her body tense, she leaned forward, the barest hint of a snarl on her lips, ready to defend herself.
Two guards entered and quickly flanked her. She jumped up, knife ready, her heart pounding as she assesed the situation. Her one captor leered at her as he spoke in a language commonly used in the Pits. [My friend and I are hungry, female. We just happened to notice what a nice tidbit you've become.]
They quickly advanced and within moments they had disarmed her, but not before she had been sliced across her collarbone to punish her for resisting. Blood seeped through her clothing as the guard begain to tear off her clothes while the other held her down. [You are going to be such a tasty morsel. Some of the others didn't want to wait with you but I made them. I wanted you to be good for me.] He sniffed her hair and ran a tongue across the cut as she desperately tried to fight back.
Jubilee looked at the creature that was standing over her and noticed distractedly, that she wasn't really afraid, but getting furious. Her anger boiled inside as she coolly regarded them.
[You know what fellas?] Jubilee smiled a little, her eyes gleaming ferally. [Somehow I don't think so.] she felt hot, searing anger surge up inside of her and her shrill scream of rage echoed throughout the caverns as she struggled to get loose.
Her bound hands were clenched and her eyes widened as her hand began to glow and energy gobules started traveling up her arm. Convulsions racked her body as the energy spread from her arms, eventually reaching her legs where the anklet exploded in a flash of white light. The two guards had been blown away by the white hot fragments from the anklet and their bodies had been thrown into the far wall.
The air crackled around her with electricity as she transformed in to an element of pure energy. Her form pulsed with the various pinks, blues, yellows and greens from her paffs and she gazed around her in a sense of awe. Wonderingly, she felt herself lift up and take to the air, within seconds able to dip and soar among the huge expanses of the caverns. The sheer ecstacy of flight taking over by other thoughts. She was quickly brought back to reality as a weapon fired at her from one of the guards.
It was not a long fight. Once their weapons had been destroyed, the prisoners quickly overtook and killed their captors. Jubilee, with several million now free slaves at her heels, headed up to the fabled surface and daylight. After finally reaching the last barier, Jubilee pushed the door open and with a gust of fresh air, entered into freedom.
-Academy for Gifted Students-
Emma Frost walked quickly down the marble halls to her office, her rapidly clicking heels serving as a warning to anyone in her way.
"Tea, Nancy. Now." she barked at her secretary before going into her office to start on some paperwork. With Sean away on business, and her "gifted" students upcoming graduation, her desk was piled with things to sign and look over.
Sighing, she took the tea that her secretary had managed to bring in and leave without her noticing. A few weeks ago, Emma would have been able to sense her presence, but lately she had been distracted. Tantalizing whisps of a psi-presence were kept just out of her reach. They were faintly familiar, but she had been unable to put her finger on what exactly was bothering her. This had made her increasingly irritable, which was why she suspected Sean's sudden business trip was an attempt to escape for fear of his life.
"Men." Emma muttered. Sipping her tea she walked to the window overlooking the expanse of the academy. She glanced down as the groups of teenagers hurried, trying to make it to class before the bell, growing more and more irritated at their tardiness. Taking a sip of the hot liquid, the cup suddenly shattered on the floor as the presence focussed with stark clarity. *Jubilee!*
- Xaiver's Mansion-
Wolverine was sitting outside in the woods, trying to meditate. Guilt had been a constant companion for him the past few years and the few times he had found peace was in the solitude of the woods. What he didn't know, was that he had been watched for the better part of three hours.
She sat silently in the tree considering the man in front of her, finally making up her mind, she moved slightly and let the wind drift her scent towards him. Wolverine's head jerked up as he picked up a hauntingly familiar scent.
"Hey Wolvie." It was the softest of whispers, like out of a dream. "I'm back." His heart clenched as he saw Jubilee drop out of the tree in front of him. She was taller, painfully thin and had scars all over her body. Speechless he grabbed her, holding her tightly as his stomach turned in knots. He instantly knew that this WAS Jubilee in his arms, her scent was like none other in the world, one he had been trying to find for years. His mind whirled as he tried to think.Who had done this to her? Why? Where had she been? Was she okay?
Jubilee stood silently, hesitantly hugging him back, but the man holding her felt like a stranger. Not like the best friend she knew him to be, at least when she was younger.
"Gimmie a little air Wolvie. Give a girl some air." she pulled away and looked into his eyes. So many emotions hit her at once, she had to pause to sort through them. The ones that came the strongest were hurt and anger. Scratching idly at the scar, that stretched from her neck to below her collarbone, she asked a question that she had been wondering for over four years, "Why, Wolvie? Why did you stop?"
"Oh God, darlin. You can't think we stopped caring. There weren't any clues, no leads, nothin fer years. It was killing everybody so we finally stopped actively searching. Nobody ever stopped hoping. You have to understand, four years is a long time."
His massive hands clenched her shoulders, trying to explain, somehow, why he hadn't found her, why he hadn't managed to save her and protect her. He groped for the only option left to prove that he still cared. "But you're here and you can tell us who did this. Trust me darlin, I am going to make them pay."
Angry, she shook off his hands and stepped away. "God, you don't get it do you Wolvie? All the bad guys are dead. There's no one left to blame. God
dammit Wolvie! I would have never stopped! Never! I spent four years in hell because you guys stopped looking. Some freakin family..."Jubilee paused as she saw the guilt in his eyes. The powerful man in front of her stood with shoulders bowed, his muscled limbs heavy and wartorn. Suddenly the man she used to idolise became older, more worn and most of all human. Oh Wolvie, you may be able to take out a troop of bad guys but you're still human.
"God I'm sorry Wolvie. It ain't your fault that you couldn't save me. Maybe it was time for me to start taking care for myself anyway." she held him tightly, for the first time feeling like an equal. Squeezing his hand she turned and began to walk away.
"Please, Jubilee don't go. I just found ya an I can't loose you again so quickly. Please..." Reaching out, Logan pleaded with the girl, desperate not to let her go. Sighing Jubilee sat down on the grass and pulled him down next to her.
"I'll stay for awhile. Just hold me tight." Wolverine complied, his bulky arms sheilding her from the cool night air, and for the moment the demons that haunted them. Curling up next to his chest, she allowed herself the luxury of relaxing for the first time in years. About an hour later, she reluctantly pulled away and started to walk out of the clearing.
"Where ya headed Darlin?"his voice was husky as he looked at the girl he used to think of as his daughter.
"Don't worry, I'll be back. I just gotta see if the gang's still around. I don't want to deal with the Prof and his mindtrips right now. See ya later." Seconds a later a blue form streaked across the sky, as an astounded Wolverine chuckled, his heart finally light for the first time in years.
"Always knew the kid would find a way to fly."
- The Academy-
It took her breath away, looking down thousands of feet at the land below her. The sensation of actually feeling the wind whipping across her body and being able to control her flight, was a far cry from the times when Storm or Rogue would take her flying. For the time being, Jubilee was using her powers purely on instinct, changing her form from flesh to energy when the ocassion demanded it. Instead of overanalysing her new powers, she chose to just enjoy them.
Chuckling, Jubilee wondered how she was going to announce herself to her teammates. As interesting and amusing as just showing up might be, she didnt want to be responsible for any heart attacks or fainting that might occur. Instead she finally decided to just sneak in. Jubilee figured that her powers would trigger the alarms so she would have to sneak in; something that would be extremely easy to do considering all of the time she had spent around certain disreputable characters.
That night Jubilee was busy making her way across the compound when curiosity got the better of her and she decided to see what happened to her old room. As she shimmied up the drainpipe and vaulted up onto the ledge, she stopped dead in her tracks at her window. It was open, letting the sweet night breeze in and she stepped down into the room, the moonlight flickering off of the objects in the room.
"Wow." she breathed. The room, albeit cleaner, was exactly the way she had left it. I'm willing to bet Paige got her hands on it with the Lysol. Her breath caught in her throat as she lovingly touched the items on her dresser; the picture of her parents, a necklace Everett had given her, a teddy bear she had won at a fair, Wolverine's hat and a picture of the team the first time they had worn their uniforms. She picked it up looking at the bright faces, broad grins. God, a lifetime ago. The faces beamed at the prospect of adventures and being heroes, not yet marred by the pain the world often tends to dish out, still hopeful, their illusions not yet shaken by sights rather left unseen and still full of joy that she couldn't even pretend to remember-it had been so long ago. Jubilee dropped to the bed overcome with emotions.
"I was wondering when you were going to show up."
Startled, Jubilee turned to see Emma leaning against the doorway. Jubilee shrugged, trying to compose herself. "Yeah, well you know how it is. Always got people to see and things to do. I had to go and see Wolvie, you know how he gets when the guilt thing is going on."
"He isn't the only one." Emma strode over to where Jubilee was and silently gazed at the young woman's face. Jubilee's vivid blue eyes had faded, were tired and the usual sparkle dimmed by years of crushed hopes and sights Emma had yet to imagine. She was wearing a various remnants of different articles of clothing that did nothing to hide her gaunt appearance.
"Oh Jubilee." Emma fiercely embraced her, comvincing herself that the young woman she was holfing was real. She gently probed her mind for some details. The glimpses she got were of darkness, fear and bodies and bodies of dead aliens.
The situation was so surreal for Jubilee. For years she had dreamed of when she would be safe and with her friends. Now that it had actually happened she wasn't inclined to believe it. Not totally.
Emma pulled away. "We better go somewhere else, there are a number of students in this wing. why don't we go to my office and I'll send for some food and clothes and we can talk."
Jubilee mutely nodded. She wasn't quite ready to face her friends just yet so she allowed Emma lead her out of the room. Once in her office Emma sat next to Jubilee to sit on the sofa and held out her hand."Are you ready to talk?"
The girl forced a smile,"Sure thing Frosty. Just remember the movie rights are mine."
-Several hours later-
The GenerationX had assembled in the council room, digruntled and not terribly pleased at having a meeting at what Angelo called "an ungodly hour of the night that no sane person should ever have to see."
The members had only been told that Emma wanted to talk to them. The various members lay sprawled about the room with Jono standing at his customary position at the head of the table.
*I 'aven't heard anything in the news.*
Paige looked up from her laptop."The computer hasn't picked up anything. Nothing out of the ordinary has been reported."
"Well, whatever it is, Emma is keep a pretty tight lock on it. I can't get anything from her." Monet sniffed, a little ticked off. Surprises never amused her very much.
Angelo, however, was not yet functioning at 6am. he was currently nursing a triple expresso and fantasising about a land where people were normal and woke up at noon with a nap to recover right afterwards.
His musings were interrupted by Emma's arrival. She strode in wearing her usual outfit, a white leather bodysuit, with her face expressionless pausing to look at her students. She had promised Xavier that she would do her best with the six students put under her care. Of that six, four stood before her now; stronger, more in control of their powers and wiser to what the world could throw at them.
Paige had finally abandoned her compulsive drive for perfection, Monet had learned to trust her teammates, Angelo had almost fully gotten rid of the intense migraines that plagued him everytime he used his power. However, it was Jonothon that had been the biggest surprise. Once he had given up his self loathing, he had matured into a compassionate and decisive team leader.
"There is news about Jubilee."
"Dios!"Angelo choked on his coffee. "Well, what is it?"
"It seems that when she was kidnapped, she was sent to a a slaver's offworld mining operation. It enslaved millions of aliens which provided the labor for it to function. It's presence was just recently made public due to some.....situations that occured."
Angelo stood decisively. "Let's go, you can brief us on the way. This is the first lead we've had in years."
*Agreed. Send word to Rogue's team, we'll need their firepower. Inform Gambit of our position.* Jono turned to leave the room.
"Miss Frost, ya think we'll finally get a chance at finding her?" Paige glanced at Emma who was torn between exasperation at the boys and concern for Paige.
"I sure hope so, Hayseed. If ya don't you're worse than I thought." Jubilee said from the doorway.
Jubilee gazed at her old teammates. Paige had grown up from a country mouse to a sleek, sophisticated blond. Her unruly hair had been tamed into a layered bob and her face was artistically made up. Jono seemed to have lost his depressive state; he stood taller, the bandages on his face and chest no longer seemed the center of his world and he had lost his black wardrobe. Monet seemed about the same, admittedly taller, and now with braids in her hair. However, the once "perfect M" seemed more at ease with herself and others around her.
And Angelo, good ole Ange, seemed about the same. He had the same unruly grin, clothes and hair that she suddenly became surrounded in as she was literally wrapped by Angelo.
"Oh my gawd! Jubilee!" Paige rushed forward,with Jono, and Monet who all wrapped her in a huge hug. Jubilee stood in the middle of this warm, tearful, loving mess of arms, faces and tears. She choked at the love she felt from these people. Tears pouring down her face all she could think was, I'm home....home. I am finally safe.