Well Enough Alone: Part 1
by Polka Dot
Do you think those overly anal guys are Marvel are going to try to sue
me over this? At least I'm not getting Jubilee into an underage relationship
like they did with Kitty Pride and Collasus. How the heck did they ever
get that past the comics code authority? I think they should give Kitty
an eating disorder over the whole thing.
Hank observed quietly from the shadows.
"She's gotten a lot better." Bobby noted.
"No she hasn't." Hank saw no improvement, no change at all. Jubilee was faster, her movements sharper, her plasma bursts struck with a pinpoint accuracy that she had carefully honed over the years but the bursts themselves held no more power than in the past. She was learning but not growing. He had even begun to pay an almost sick fascination with her hair, noting that she had changed styles often over the years, but had never gone for long hair. It had grown out quickly after her crop job at Hulkbuster, but since then it seemed dormant. Of course everything was speculation. You couldn't drag Jubilee into a lab for tests or even a simple physical examination. This was accepted. Something had happened to her at Hulkbuster. Bastion had performed some sort of experiment on her. Never would she talk on it, but the fear in her eyes, her very poise was practically tangible. He had given up a long time ago trying to coax anything out of her. She chose to bury those memories. It wasn't healthy but at first there had been no time to set things right, and now it seemed as though the opportunity to mend had passed them all by.
"Really you don't think so?" Bobby was surprised, Hank was seldom this morose.
"No I don't." Hank frowned at himself. It wasn't too late. Everything would be harder now, he knew but he was a doctor and this had to be hurting her. "But I plan to change that."
"You're going to train her?" Bobby looked at his old friend skeptically. Hank seldom left the lab. Jubilee could probably train him.
"No my friend, I'm going to heal her."
"Is she sick?" Bobby looked at Jubilee. She looked well enough, she certainly wasn't showing any signs of illness.
Hank shook his head. "She's not sick. She's stuck. Haven't you noticed that Jubilee hasn't aged a day in the past 4 years. She's seventeen Bobby, look at her. Does she look 17 to you?"
"Well I guess not, but so what? I can never tell someone's age just by looking at them. Besides the chinese tend to be shorter. Some people just stop growing earlier than others. Look at Logan." Bobby's mouth curled just slightly. No matter what he'd always have that over his grumpy teammate.
"It's not just her height Bobby. Her face hasn't gotten any thinner. She's grown no curves. Her body is still that of a child's. Her emotional maturity is far below that of other young women her age. When Jubilee first came here, I took the liberty of running a projection on her growth rate vs. her power level. It was outstanding. She had the potential to become one of the most powerful mutants ever. But since her return from Hulkbuster she hasn't gained any ground in her powers. She is still only able to manifest powerful pyrotechnics in times of extreme stress and can't control those outbursts.
"I've reviewed the government's documents that budgeted for Operation Zero Toleration. They mention that experiments in mutation degradation were considered unethical if performed on human test subjects but they were approved for lesser species. I believe that Bastion performed some of these experiments on Jubilee. They seem to be partially successful. It seems they did degrade her body's ability to continual evolving and thus mutating, but they also seem to have degraded her body's ability to grow at all. She is stuck in the body of a thirteen year old. Although this may not seem like the worst fate to ever befall a young woman, she's likely not happy with it. Furthermore aside from the mental and emotional stress this is causing her, it can't be healthy. Somewhere along the line I feel there will be a serious physical backlash."
Bobby's eyes now became dark as he took in Hank's words. "Can you heal her?"
Hank shook his head. "I don't know."
Jubilee was not cooperating. No real surprise there, Hank hadn't expected the young woman to hop up on the lab table and spill her soul whilst he examed her. He was at least hoping for a confirmation of this theory.
"It's a simple question Jubilee."
"What difference does it make? Are you looking to become my personal barber? Because frankly I don't think you're up to the job." Jubilee's high pitched voice practically screeched on that final barb.
"I'm trying to help. I can't say for certain, but it seems like you haven't had your hair cut in at least a year. Surely that's bothered you? Don't you think that it's odd."
"I'm a mutant. We're odd by nature." Her eyes roamed over his shaggy hide to emphasize the point.
Hank sighed. She certainly was being difficult. "The genetic mutation that gives you the ability to produce pyrokinetic plasmoids and your rate of hair growth are two totally different things. This is indicative of a larger problem."
"Not so. DNA controls 'em both." Jubilee smirked. He couldn't fool her with his big words, she'd known him too long for that.
Hank nodded. She wasn't as dumb as she let on, but he had never fallen for that mask anyway. "True, but your DNA, that is the DNA I have on file for you from my initial examination 4 and 1/2 years ago, clearly indicates that your mutated genes do not extend to your follicles. Perhaps I need an updated sample."
"You want an updated sample, you can clean my bathroom. Is the inquistion over?"
"Indeed it is, in fact in ended nearly 400 years ago. Our discussion is not, however. I am endeavoring to undo the harm that Bastion's experiment," Hank hesistated, "ss may have done to you. Surely you can contribute a simple yes or no. Did the lab personnel ever mention the words mutation degradation within your presence?"
Jubilee scowled, then shrugged figuring it was best to remain evasive. "Sorry doesn't ring a bell. I'm off to play with the other mutants, if that's alright with you."
It wasn't, but she didn't stick around long enough for Hank to say so. It didn't matter, he got his confirmation. It was there in a flicker so fast that he nearly didn't catch it, but the minute widening of her eyes in recognition of the words mutation degradation gave her away. Hank bounded off.
"So is this a new service you're providing and if so why wasn't your bestest buddy here informed?" Bobby asked as he watched Hank clean the grout around Jubilee's commode.
"A. Because you can not afford me and B. because I only provide this service to charming young women possessing a sparkling wit and a vivacious personality." Hank stood for a moment to stretch out his aching back. It seemed that in the four years after Jubilee had returned from Hulkbuster she not only stopped growing, but stopped cleaning as well.
"I'm wondering if you've got the right bathroom." Bobby remarked. "Or do saracastic remarks count as sparkling wit and grumpy attitudes coincide with vivacious personalities."
"I was being sarcastic."
"Oh I thought I was the only one of us who did that. Anyway isn't Jubes gonna blow her top, or maybe your top off when she finds out you've invaded her personal space."
"She gave me her permission." Hank returned to hands and knees and took up a rather nasty looking toothbrush.
"Indeed, although I doubt she truly expected me to take her up on her oh so generous offer. I am collecting DNA samples as I clean up. I am going to compare them with the samples I have on file for her, taken over four years ago."
"What do you hope to find?"
"Ah, well then isn't this all really pointless?"
Hank sighed, but it was more in exhaustation than anything else. "It is far from pointless. If I find nothing than it proves my theory that Jubilee's body has stopped aging."
"Oh." Bobby frowned and scratched his head. "So does this mean that if I want you to clean my bathroom all I have to do is hold out on supplying you with genetic material?"
Hank looked up and smiled. "Overall an impressive deduction, however I'm afraid it won't work. You see you and Jubilee are totally different cases. She is learning but not growing. You are growing but not learning. It's a mental disease, not a physical one, besides half the time I have to remind you to flush the toilet. Your genetic material is in abundance throughout the mansion."
Bobby frowned. "Well there's no need to be insulting. I know when I'm not wanted." Bobby quickly turned and left.
Hank continued cleaning Jubilee's bathroom, knowing full well his Twinkie supply would be completely wiped out by the time he was done.
"I don't care!"
"Jubilee please listen." Hank had already tried the comforting doctor routine, the stern guardain schtick and the concerned friend role, he was now down to pathetic pleading.
"I never asked for your help and I don't need it. It doesn't bother me and besides what's so great about growing up? Death and taxes? Thanks but I'll pass." Jubilee tried for the fourth time to make a hasty retreat, but yet again Hank used his amazing agilty to block her escape route.
Hank decided to go for logic. "I am a doctor and whether you realize it or not, you are sick. Your body has betrayed you. I just want to undo the harm done."
"What harm? My cells aren't degrading. You said so yourself, you said they haven't changed at all, so it sounds to me like maybe I ain't gonna be the mutant menace that you thought I was. Well too bad, maybe I like being normal."
Hank tried to keep his face placid as he absorbed this little bit of information. "Well I'm sorry but failing to age is not normal. As for becoming a mutant menace, well I am not sure where you got such an absurd notion, Jubilation. I know that if you were to gain the full potential of your mutant abilities that you would surely handle them with grace, care and responsiblity. I, unlike Bastion, understand that power does not corrupt, merely that corrupt people abuse their power."
Jubilee paused thoughtfully. "I won't be your guinea pig. You find the cure and I might consider taking it, otherwise we can consider this discussion closed."
This time Hank let her leave. He had a long road ahead of him. He had to find out more about the procedure Bastion used. Jubilee, even if she was more forthcoming, probably didn't know exactly what was done to her. He was confident that the government had to have more information on the subject than he was privy to. He just had to get to it and despite his many talents he wasn't an expert computer hacker, but he knew someone who was.
"Note to self: All women succumb to flattery." He mumbled.
"You can flatter me all you want, but I really can't do it. I'm sorry Hank. It's illegal and I know that the X-Men have sometimes operated outside of the boundaries of the law in the past, but I would really rather not commit an obvious felony if I can help it."
Hank carefully thought that last statement through. If flattery wouldn't work then maybe he could guilt her into it. After all, Kitty always tried to take the high road. "Now Kitty, please rethink your objection. I know that you and Jubilee don't get along..."
"Whoa, stop right there! I am not doing this out of some kind of petty jealousy or anything like that. Way I figure it, if you're right and you can cure Jubilee of her immaturity problem, that's great. Maybe she'll grow up and stop seeing me as some kind of threat to her friendship with Wolverine. But like I said, I don't want to do anything illegal. There's got to be some other way."
"I'm afraid there isn't. You see the government isn't likely to hand over any documents that are going to incriminate them, so asking for the desired files will merely get us a denial of their existence." Hank figured that where flattery failed logic would surely pervail with this one.
"What if there really aren't any documents? I mean if they are incriminating than the smart thing to do would be to destroy them. It's been 4 years. They are probably long gone, Beast."
Hank winced. Her argument was logically sound. However there was one factor that she failed to take into account. "So true, however, we are talking about the United States government. For documents to be destroyed, they must be discussed and when they are discussed, new documents are generated, so you see, there is something out there to be found."
Kitty shrugged. "If you say so, but I'm not going to be the one to find it. I'm sorry, but like I said. I'm won't break the law."
Kitty walked out of the room and Hank sighed.
"You ask me, Jubes ain't de un with de immaturity problem. Dat girl is definitely de jealous un."
"Remy how long have you been eavesdropping?"
"Long enough ta know dat you need mah services." Gambit stayed in the shadows, but lit a cigarette, just so Hank could see his smile in the flickering flame.
"You know I don't allow smoking anywhere within the mansion, especially my medical lab."
Gambit blew out a lungful of smoke. "Ya I know dat, but seeing as how you're about to ask me for a favor, I figured, you'd let it pass."
"Well you were wrong, please put it out." Hank removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "As generous as your offer is, I'm afraid I can't take you up on it. I don't know which building such documents might be stored in. I was hoping that if Kitty couldn't find the appropriate file on the government's intranet, that she would be able to narrow down the possible government repositories that might store such information, however without her help, I'm really at a bit of a loss."
Gambit tossed the cigarette in the trash. "I see, but really Hank, I'm a bit hurt. A good theif don't just knock off de first house he sees. A little research is always required."
Hank didn't even try to hide his surprise. "And just how are you going to find out where the information is stored?"
Gambit wagged his finger. "Nah nah, a good theif never reveals his sources. Don worry, I get you what you need and you cure Jubie, ain't no big t'ing."
"And what will I owe you for this little favor?" Hank asked warily.
Gambit shrugged. "Well you know I'm quite fond of our lil Jubilee so I'm gonna be generous. Let's say I do dis for you and you let me skip out on next week's physical."
"My you are being generous." Hank noted. Gambit usually managed to worm his way out of his physicals anyway.
In a transition that Hank would never be comfortable with, Gambit turned serious. "She ain't sayin' nothing but dis is hurtin' her Henri. The sparkle is dyin' from her eyes. Bastion, he took a lot from dat girl, most of it can't ever be recovered. You get dis back for her, she deserves dat much."
Hank had to admit, he was impressed. He knew that Remy was a Master theif, but even still to infiltrate the US government and get the necessary files in such a short amount of time, was really amazing. The files themselves were also very impressive. They captivated Hank the way a car accident draws a motorist's eye. He was a mutant. To read about the experiments that attempted to destroy what to him was natural sent a shiver down his spine. To know that these experiments had been performed on a child and a friend tore him to pieces inside.
He understood Jubilee completely now. Or at least he thought he did. Before he always had an idea of how terrible the experience was for her, now he knew exactly how bad it was. Most people thought of torture as pain brought on by physical blows, electric shock even burns, but there was also the slow torture of sickness. She had been pieirced and sliced and prodded aplenty, but the real agony had come afterwards when the radiation made her vomit every hour, the chemicals and drugs turned her perceptions into vivid hallucinations and her once strong muscles and solid bone refused to respond to the misguided pulses that her brain sent out. It was like her own body betrayed her. How she made it across the desert that night, he would never know.
He understood her desire to train beyond all else. She wasn't just striving to become an X-Man, but she was building her body up to the point where it would never betray her again. She had an almost primal desire to never feel weak and ultimately helpless again. Hank always knew that Jubilee would benefit from a little psychiatric help. He could never convince her. He decided he would redouble his efforts, once he had healed her body, he would heal her mind as well.
Of course the files sought a cure for genetic mutations so in theory if these experiments were successful then the treatments ended, meaning there was no literature on reversing the process. He hadn't expected there to be, but even so he thought that perhaps some ideas would have been generated since the experiments were not successful. The doctors realized rather early on that the treatments they gave their patients were not degrading just the mutant DNA but their patients entire DNA. In fact all the early patients were dead now. Jubilee was part of the second crop. Theradiation therapy was lessened in their treatments and the DNA became dormant so instead of degrading, it just stopped evolving.
Jubilee was considered a partial success because she had already developed her mutant powers so the mutation was stopped, but not reversed. The solution to this was simple: Genetically screen all babies and determine those with potential mutant DNA, then allow these babies to reach an age just prior to puberty at which point they would be subjected to the treatments. Since they would stop growing before they reached sexual maturity, they would not be able to reproduce thus destroying the next generation of mutants as well as stopping this generation's development of mutant powers. Those individuals with tainted DNA would still be alive, though trapped in children's bodies, and therefore the elimiation of the mutant menace was considered humane.
There were proposals and even expenditure projections on implementing a procedure for screening all babies born within the US. It included a series of euphemisms that the hospitals could use when billing patients and insurance companies so that when the bill for baby's labor was examined, the test name would not hint at what the test was really for. The scariest part of it all was that the government was very close to approving the proposal and had even gone so far as to do a trial run by screening all babies born within a certain KC hospital. The results of that trial run were not included in the files.
Hank pondered on his next step. He needed to somehow wake up Jubilee's DNA from it's current dormant state. Shock therapy immediately came to mind, but whatever cure he came up with Jubilee would have to agree to it. So he had to come up with something that would be as painless as possible. He also had to develop some computer projections that would allow him to access his potential cure's effects and it's long term affects. He groaned miserably as he realized that once again he's have to depend on Kitty's aid.
Her head hurt. It wasn't a normal headache either. It was concentrated on her left temple and crawled down her spine, causing her neck to feel like a ball balanced on the end of a stick. There was a lump in her throat too and her heart felt fluttery, not in the good way.
She couldn't do it. She just couldn't do it. She trusted Hank. It wasn't that. She knew he was trying, but it was all so familar. It was like waking from a nightmare and finding that you were still trapped in the dream. Of course there had been times when her nightmares couldn't compare to what those doctors were doing to her. Hank wouldn't hurt her. Not intentionally, at least that was the mantra that she kept repeating in her head. It got her this far, but she could go no further.
She couldn't turn around though. Gambit was in the shadows watching. He'd know. He would see her cowardice and then she'd have to face up to it. It wasn't that he had lost his touch. She didn't see him in the shadows. He was quiet and ditched his jacket that reeked of cigarette smoke. Other than Wolverine no one else would know that he was there, but she knew. She always knew when unwanted eyes were watching her. She had learned to live as though the eyes weren't there, but she was always on guard and never let her mask fall.
She just couldn't do it. She placed a hand on the med lab door, trying to picture Hank's smiling face on the other side, his soft blue teddy bear fur. He wouldn't hurt her, it would be okay. Why couldn't she believe that?
Movement brought her out of her fear. Remy was walking up to her. Every muscle in her body was strung tight when he placed a hand upon her shoulder. She didn't turn around. She couldn't look at him and he knew that. He rubbed her shoulder softly. "It's gonna be okay, chere. Trust Henri."
Jubilee ground her teeth. She didn't need Remy's pity or sympathy. "I'm not scared, if that's what you're thinking. I just don't want to be in debt to Kitty for anything. Ain't no cure worth that."
Remy chuckled. "Oui, but don worry, from what I 'ere she didn't help out dat much an' it wasn't outta de kindness o' er heart neither. She ain't gonna be holdin' dis o'er your 'ead any time soon."
Jubilee turned around totally forgetting where she was. "What does that mean? Did Hank blackmail her into this? I mean that's not possible, Hank wouldn't do that and besides she's little miss perfect. What could he blackmail her with? okay Cajun spill." She craned her neck back to look him directly in the eye.
"Sorry mon petite, I ain't revealin' any trade secrets today, 'sides you're late for your appointment already."
Jubilee's mouth quirked and she threw a glance over her shoulder at the door behind her. For some reason Remy's presense gave her courage. "You'll avenge me if he turns me into a drooping old hag, right?"
"Ya better believe it." Jubilee opened the med lab door and walked in, aided by a Remy's light push. He caught her eye just before the door closed. It was full of fear.
It was a beautiful day. The temperature hovered around seventy and everything was in bloom. There were even birds singing, well actually there were crows sqwacking but it was definitely the perfect spring day, if you could ignore the retching sounds coming for the third story 4th window. Logan couldn't ignore them. Even without his heightened hearing, they were ear catching. It was the third time this morning Jubilee had thrown up and she spent at least half the night doing so as well. He had been in to see her a couple of times. Not surprisingly she wasn't in the mood for company. He had talked to Hank.
"A sad but necessary side effect. Her body needs to expunge the toxins introduced into it."
He didn't ask about why Hank was introducing toxins into her body. He knew that the explanation would be beyond him and trusted that Hank was doing his best to keep Jubilee as comfortable as possible. Personally he didn't think anything was wrong with the kid. She still had her spunk and she was powerful enough to take care of herself. He knew that physical age and chronological age didn't always match up and he didn't see the problem. So she remained young forever, she wouldn't have to deal with guys trashing her emotions and using her body like Kitty had. There weren't any guys good enough for his little Jubilee anyway. Course then again, he did enjoy his adult activities.
Logan's train of thought was quickly (and thankfully) derailed by an explosion that rocked the third story. It had a sickeningly familar blast signature and sure enough when he turned his head up to view the damage, it was Jubilee's belongings cascading across the lawn, blown out through the hole in the wall that used to be her window. He took the short way up, using his claws to climb up the brick wall and crawled past the still smoking curtains and burnt floor.
"Darlin'?" He tried to smell her, but acrid smoke was the only thing his nose picked up on.
"I'm fine. I'm over here." He heard shuffling behind the bed and sure enough she was back there. She was mostly on here back apparently blown in the opposite direction of the window. Her body was covered with small scratches and cuts from splintered flying debris.
"What happened?" He asked as he helped her get straight on her feet.
She blushed. "Well I, I saw a spider and..."
"You're afraid of spiders?" He was pretty sure he would've known something like that.
"NO! I wasn't afraid. I see one and I usually send a really small paf the spider's way. Once it's stopped twitching I get a tissue and toss it in the trash, but well this time I sent a really small paf it's way and Ba-Boom, no more wall." Jubilee sounded irratated, amazed and somewhat proud of herself. But then her face contorted and it was another mad dash to the bathroom.
Logan followed, not too closely. His nose was super sensitive too, after all. He didn't have to worry. Jubilee retched over the toilet for about 5 minutes but it didn't do any good. There was nothing left in her little body to expunge. His sensitive hearing didn't miss the small hiccups she made as tears trailed down her face. Jubilee closed the toilet lid and rested her head on the cool porcelain.
"I hate this Wolvie."
"I know." He crawled into the bathroom and tried to rub her back, but the quarters were cramped and he ended up pulling her into a tight hug instead. "You'll get a handle on this."
"I guess. I just wonder if it will all be worth it in the end."
Logan grunted his agreement. " I think you should drink some water, so you don't chafe your throat." He pulle dher up and dragged her back to bed and tucked her in. For right now she was still his little Jubilee.
Hank watched her pivot, crane her neck back and forth like a duck then roll, spring up and flip into the air. She missed the beam, again. This time her left shoulder grazed the 4" wide beam just before she ducked her chin into her chest and landed flat on her back on the mat below.
"Jubilee are you all right? Can I assist you in any way?" He asked with concern.
She shook her head and didn't even turn his way. "I'm fine." She answered, yet again.
She had been practicing for about two hours now. He was observing what had to be the worst performance of her life. He had told her to take it easy, warned her that it would be a difficult adjustment, reminded her that most gymnasts were considered over the hill by age 16 for a reason. She had to learn the hard way. Or so he thought. Considering she was missing more jumps, twists and turns then she was landing, she obviously wasn't learning quickly enough. It was painful to watch. It must be hell to live through.
When she stood up and grabbed her bottle of water, Hank thought the excercise session had come to a merciful end. He was wrong. She hopped over to the uneven bars and began swinging off the bottom one. This routine went much better. She was far from perfect, but thankfully she didn't fly through the air and land flat on her face like she had with the balance beam. Her hands never missed the bars. Her balance was off, her flips were not quite crisp but still skillfully executed. She was as usual poetry in motion.
It was because she hadn't gained a single inch in height. She didn't have to draw her legs up more than usual so the routine wasn't hindered, like on the balance beam. With her changing proportions, she didn't feel comfortable inside her own skin. A small lean in the wrong direction through her completely off balance and she didn't yet know how to adjust to compensate. In other words she was top heavy. Her chest had gained an inch or two. It was hard to tell exactly because she had recently begun to wear sweat shirts and baggy T-shirts. A new fashion statement that clearly announced just how uncomfortable she was in her own skin.
Jubilee was a cute kid for a long time, now she was quickly becoming an attractive young woman. The treatments he had given her were actually accelerating her growth. She was rapidly catching up to her true age and he worried that soon she would surpass it. He had lessened the treatments dramatically but feared ending them all together. Such a change could cause a shock to her system.
Unfortunately he was not the only one to notice Jubilee's approaching womanhood. The younger members of the team made no attempts to hide their appreciation of Jubilee's new proportions. Even Jono had given her a second glance or more. The older team members like Gambit and Peter were too mature to gawk openly but they had both been caught staring just a little too long at the 'youngest' X-Man. Although there was no real threat of anyone striking up a relationship with Jubilee any time soon, due to Logan's looming presence, it was making the transition more difficult for Jubilee. She would often catch the glances of the other teammates and squirm unhappily.
She was always loud trying to get everyone to pay attention to her, but now that she was getting attention, she wasn't comfortable with it at all. Not surprising really for Jubilee was a very private person. For all the talking she did, very few people really knew what it was she was thinking or feeling at any given moment.
He had asked her what she hoped to get out of all this, when the first treatment was complete. "I just want to get to about 5'3 & 1/4 inches." She had said. The significance of that hadn't escaped him. He had laughed amiably and let her go. He knew there was more to it than that. Or was there? He glanced across the room and noticed a stocky shadow in the corner.
"Pieces of us die everyday, as though our flesh were hell." Jubilee fisted the hair into her left hand and cut it off with a pair of scissors. It was neither a clean nor straight cut, but it didn't matter. She'd be doing the same thing again tomorrow. "Such an injustice as children we were told, that from God we fell." Her voice broke on the high note. That at least hadn't changed.
"This must be what it's like for boys, one day you're singing sorprano, the next it's barritone." She mused out loud to herself as she ran a brush through her lengthy locks one more time, before pulling her hair into a high ponytail. "I can live with a bad singing voice, but bad hair, no way."
"I'm really sorry about that. I think it's a side effect of the methodrine. I'll reduce the dosage on that tomorrow." Hank said as he watched her braid her ponytail into one long plait.
"Yeah well do something about it, because some of us don't like imitating a shaggy dog." Jubilee eyed Hank through the mirror. Her epression was unreadable, so he couldn't tell if she was really angry or just playing with him.
"At least your hair isn't blue." He pointed out.
"You haven't seen it in the sun."
"Really, blue highlights? I'll wager that it suits you."
Jubilee blushed lightly. Remy had said something along those lines as well the other day. She had tried to be cool about it, but for the first time in her life, she suddenly understood why all the other girls on the team giggled like idiots when Gambit was around. She had always known that he was good looking and thought he was cool with his mysterious ways, but now that her hormones had basically kicked into hyperdrive, she began to pick up on his other attributes as well. Before she used to find his accent amusing or annoying when she couldn't understand him. Now it sent a little shiver up her spine. He, like all the X-Men, had an impressive physique, but whenever you turned to look at him, he was either posing or moving like a some wild animal: graceful but dangerous. She wanted to look at him, but she didn't want him to know she was looking at him. It was absolutely horrible. She hated it and yet, she couldn't wait for meetings where she knew she'd be in the same room with him. Basically she had a crush on him, and she knew it, and she hated it because it was Remy, and she knew better, but she couldn't help it. Jubilee groaned in frustration and tossed her hairbrush across the room.
"Now now, there are women who pay good money to have hair like yours." Hank walked over and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Jubilee laughed a broken laugh. She couldn't believe she had totally forgotten that Hank was there. She wanted to cry, she wanted to scream at him for doing this to her, but despite everything, she still wasn't ready to break down yet. "So what do you want?" She asked as she shrugged his hand off her shoulder.
"I need to get some readings on your current power levels."
"That's fine by me." Jubilee tied off her braid and headed down to the Danger room. "I just happen to be in the mood to blow stuff up."
"Badabing, badaboom, badabing..."
"Bobby! I don't care if you are on my team, if you don't cut it out right now, the next blast is going to be aimed directly at your head!" Jubilee snickered up in the control booth. She still wasn't allowed to play with the other X-Men since she couldn't control her amped up powers, but she didn't mind right now. She was happy to have a little time to herself, to vent and to just not think about everything.
"Alright people, I think we've had it for the day. Iceman, I want to talk to you." Scott turned to Hank and Jubilee. "It's all yours."
"I think Bobby's in trouble." Jubilee noted.
"It is his main occupation in life." Hank sighed. "Now you've run this routine before, it's really very simple. Just blow the projectiles out of the air before they can hit you. Speed and volume will increase as the exercise progresses. If you are being overwhelmed just yell and I'll stop the program. All the safeties are in place."
Jubilee snorted."Not this old thing, I feel like I'm in preschool again."
"Well in a way you are learning to walk all over again. I know it may seem boring, but keep your concentration, even with the safeties on those projectiles will hurt if they hit you."
"Yeah yeah I know."
Jubilee stood in the middle of the danger room and blasted away. She didn't try to push it, she kept her plasma bursts small but accurate. Then the projectiles got a little bigger and she compensated. A few bursts were more powerful than she had intended but they still hit the desired target. She decided to get daring. Seeing three projectiles clustered close to each other she formed a large burst in her hand and tossed it at the cluster. Nothing happened. The burst never left her hand, instead it exploded and tossed her on her butt!
Now a couple projectiles were too close to be destroyed so she threw her arm up and braced herself against the imminent collision. The next thing she knew a thousand firecrackers went off right in front of her face or so she thought. The projectiles never hit her! She had shut her eyes before impact and opened them to find another projectile coming at her just behind her right shoulder. She waved her hand at it ready to send a plasma burst in that direction, but again the burst never left her hand.
It exploded! She was thrown back, cursing at her incompetence. She was doing more damage to herself than the projectiles! She threw up her arm again, ready to absorb the impact. Again no pain came just the sound of firecrackers. This time she kept her eyes open and what she saw caused her to scream more loudly than any shock of pain could.
The projectiles disappeared and the room grew quiet except for Jubilee's screams. Hank rushed through the door, first aid kit in hand. He dropped it when he saw Jubilee. She was hunched over on her knees, grabbing her right arm at the elbow and staring at her hand and forearm, screaming to God, to heaven, hell and everything else. Her flesh was gone, the bone glowed like a neon sign and was sheathed in a wall of living plasma that crackled, popped and flowed over her bone like molten lava!
Wolverine sat outside the medlab door. Inside he could hear Jubilee whimpering as Hank explained to her that there was nothing wrong with her arm. She was achieving her natural state, the final stage of her mutancy. Just as Kitty's natural state was phased and Bobby's was ice, Jubilee's natural state was one of pure plasmatic energy.
She wasn't taking the news well. Already at least a half dozen test tubes had been shattered up against walls, doors, thrown onto the floor. The acrid smell of smoke hit his nose. She had obviously set something ablaze.
The others in the hall flinched with every wail, every curse, every desperate plea that echoed down the hall. She wanted Hank to stop the treatments. She wanted him to stop aging her. She didn't want to become a walking Paf. There was a crash and several more of her signature pafs could be heard inside. He wondered if he should go in, try to calm her down, keep her from flailing Hank. Jean whispered for him to stay.
There was another angished wail and then all they could hear was a deep sobbing. Hank was apologizing, trying to comfort her, trying to tell her that she would adjust. She didn't want to adjust. Her voice was rising, and then he heard Hank tell her that if she didn't calm down, she'd only make it worse. Things grew quieter after that. Scott managed to disperse the small crowd that had formed in the hall. Bobby didn't want to leave, neither did Gambit, but Scott pulled his leader card and ordered them into a Danger room session.
Wolverine figured Gambit would win that session. He waited. He and Jean exchanged looks of concern in the hall, but the doors didn't slide open. Logan was getting frustrated, Jean was trying to keep his temper in check, she was worried too. Finally, mercifully the doors slid open. Hank came out looking morose. He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He glanced between Jean and Logan.
"There's nothing I can do. I can stop the treatments, but I have already undone a lot of Bastion's handiwork. She may not age as quickly as the rest of us, but she'll still age and eventually she'll reach her full mutant potential." Hank placed his glasses back on his face. "She's very upset, that's causing her powers to act up. Try not to stare too much. She doesn't like that."
Jean and Logan exchanged another glance and Wolverine walked through the doors. The lights were off but the room was bright. Jubilee was sitting on the table sobbing and glowing like a neon stick.
could handle a lot of things. She was a tough kid. No, now she was a
tough adult. But there was only so much humilation that even a tough
adult can take until enough is a enough. Blowing up her room was embarrassing.
Falling on her ass repeatedly while doing a simple beam excercise was
embarrassing. Glowing like a lightening bug is embarassing, but she
could handle it. After all Sunspot is basically a light vaccuum and
she figured she was better off than that, but the fact that she was
glowing so brightly that even her thickest clothing looked like something
purchased from the Victoria Secret catalog was just too damn much!
world exploded in a brillant display of fireworks that would've been
a wonder to behold if they weren't so destructive. The bricks rained
down on the mansion lawn and shingles from the roof were embedded into
the blossoming cherry trees that lined the driveway. Shards of glass
glittered down and then tinkled like rain upon the carport. Jubilee
lay within the midst of all this destruction giggling like a three year
old on Christmas morning. For as far back as she could remember this
may as well be the very best day of her life.
"She's burning herself out. Simply put every time Jubilee expells the built up energy inside of her she grows a little bit older. Phycially she's already passed her true chronological age. The problem is that the files Gambit obtained for me, fail to explain this and I myself am totally stumped. So like it or not Jubilee has to stop using her power." Hank felt he too was aging. He didn't know if it was psychological or if he failed to protect himself fully diring Jubilee's treatments and was feeling some sort of residual effect. He was working awfully hard lately, trying to keep up with Jubilee's progress.
"And how the heck do you expect me to get her to do that? She has finally stopped moping around now that she knows how to make herself look human. You want me to tell her she ain't allowed to be normal anymore." Wolverine hated this. He may be a father figure to Jubilee but he didn't think of himself that way. He didn't like disciplining her. First of all, she didn't like it and tended to be difficult to control. Secondly he figured she was smart enough to take care of herself and he felt like he was intruding on her indepence. "Why don't you get Jean to talk with her? She's been having better luck at getting through to Jubilee than I have lately. Something about Jubilee now being a woman and needing a mother figure."
"You know that you're the only one she'll listen to Logan. I have already explained all of this to Jubilee. She simply said and I quote, 'Whatever just try to fix it before I'm a total prune, kay'. Then proceded to her morning blow up session anyway. However you said it yourself, Jubilee can make herself look human, but she's not human. By expelling her energy every morning, she's actually making herself even stronger and thus increasing her mutation."
Logan nodded. He had noticed that Jubilee's power output was increasing. The danger room was taking a major beating, it was designed to handle a variety of battles but Jubilee had frequently pushed it beyond it's limits. "I don't think she will listen to me Hank. She's got some major issues. Too much talk by Bastion about mutants being freaks and for some reason the kid bought into it. She won't leave the mansion if she doesn't pass for human. I tried to get her out of the house before when she was glowing. She wouldn't even take a stroll through the yard."
"That's not surprising. She was a child at the time and children are very impressionable. Kidnap victums oftentimes end up sympathisizing with thier kidnappers, usually as a survival mechanism. If it wasn't for Jubilee's pride, she probably would've ending up helping Bastion willingly. You have to remember when Bastion first kidnapped Jubilee she was running from Mondo. She thought he was her savior. Learning otherwise was probably something that affected her during her entire stay at Hulkbuster. Nonetheless we have to get through to her that she is a mutant and she needs to learn to accept her mutation if she wants to live a long and and enjoyable life. Self acceptance is necessary for mental well being."
Logan snorted. "Ain't none of that going to work on Jubilee.That girl works on different motivations."
"That is why I am asking you to talk to her. You know what needs to be said to get through to her."
Logan shook his head sadly. "Maybe that was true once, but she's all grown up now and I ain't got a clue as to what to say to her."