Meet the Family

by Ramos

Title: MEET THE FAMILY Author: Ramos Rating: PG for language Summary: Jubilee brings a boyfriend home with her. Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Marvel Comics. No profit is made from their use. Feedback: Always

September in Salem Center

The phone in the main hall rang three times before Jean reached it and answered it with a breathless hello. Scott poked his head out of his office a moment later, just in time to see her break into a delighted smile.

"Jubilee! Honey, how are you?" She listened intently while her husband's arms went around her. A stubbled chin rested on top of her head. Scott heard only a succession of short responses, and knew full well that Jubilee was talking non-stop on the other end. After a few minutes, good-byes were said, and Jean hung up the phone.

He raised an eyebrow at her when she stood pensively in the circle of his arms, looking at the instrument. "What's up?"

"Jubilee's going to come home for a visit next weekend."

"Okay, we'll get her room dusted・"

"She's bringing someone with her," his wife interrupted. "A young man named Hayden. Hayden Wright."

Scott frowned. "She's mentioned him before, hasn't she?"

Jean 'uh-hmmed' and gave him a thoughtful look. "They've been dating for several months."

"Uh-hmm," Scott replied, with a different emphasis. "Sounds like something serious is in the works."

"She didn・t say anything specific, but she・s never brought one of her boyfriends here before."

They were both quiet, thinking about it. Scott sighed.

・When Jubilee graduated from college this spring I was really hoping she・d come back home and join the team.・

Jean leaned into Scott's embrace and put her own arms around his waist. ・We all were. I・ve actually missed some of the antics she and Bobby got into. But if she was already serious about this boy, that may be why she refused.・ Jean chewed her lip thoughtfully for a second. "I guess we'll just have to entertain him, and wait for a big announcement."

Six days later, the majority of the X-men were gathered in the media room. Beast was fully dressed and well groomed, and Bobby had forsaken jeans to wear a pair of slacks. Wolverine had said he'd be damned if he'd dress up for one of Jubilee's boyfriends, but had actually gone to the trouble of shaving his chin. The group toyed with magazines or pretended to watch the sports cast on the television, but the tension began to sing in the air.

Bobby was the first to break. "So, who is this guy, anyway?" he asked, poking the leather arm of the chair as he lounged and attempted nonchalance.

"Dunno," grunted Wolverine.

"Gambit know," muttered the Cajun. He ignored the suddenly sharp look from under Wolverine's battered and once white cowboy hat.

"Well, spill it, shugah," demanded Rogue. Her fingers rubbed each other in their new gloves.

"Boy be Hayden Wright. Doctor Wright, precisely."

"A physician?" asked Dr. McCoy.

"Jus' 'bout. Got one year o' residency left, I hear."

"Man, he's gonna spend years paying back those student loans," groaned Bobby sympathetically.

"Nope," replied Gambit, toying with a cigarette he was forbidden to smoke in the house. "Family's high ton. 'Spect they paid for everything up front, give him a little more on the side. They・re old money - got a credit ratin' like Croesus.・

"Well, it seems Jubilee has made a good catch," commented Betsy tartly. "She certainly has had no luck in finding employment. It's been, what, four months now since she graduated from college?"

In his customary corner, Bishop shifted. "This -Hayden- must have very weak abilities if he's able to move freely in the normal world."

Gambit grinned, knowing the stir he was about to create, and threw in his ace. "Got no abilities. He's human."

Consternation ran around the room; even Wolverine sat up and pushed the hat back on his head. "What are you talkin' about, Gumbo?" he growled.

"Boy's human. No mutant ability a-tall." Silence reigned in the room.

"Well, we - as mutants - are a minority," offered Hank. "We shouldn't be surprised that our Jubilee would marry outside her immediate genetic heritage."

"We don't know for sure that she's gonna marry this joker," protested Bobby. The others in the room gave him the disgusted look the comment deserved.

The sound of a car horn honking merrily sounded outside. "They're here," he added unnecessarily.

Wolverine did not move from his chair as the couple came through the oak panel doors into the room. The others moved forward and were formally introduced, and he reluctantly gave the guy points for shaking Hank・s furry hand with only momentary hesitation. The obligatory hashing of specialties between two doctors was mercifully short, but it gave him a chance to size up the guy attempting to lay claim to Jubilee・s heart. Hayden Wright was as tall as Cyclops, and looked like he・d played sports in college. His shoulders were broad under a sports coat that had never seen a rack. An equally tailored and expensive-looking cream shirt was set off by an exquisite silk tie, and Wolverine felt his upper lip curl.

He stifled the reflex action and focused on Jubilee. Her left hand was bare, he noted. Both hands flitted expressively as she traded affectionate insults with Drake, then settled with familiar ease on Hayden・s arm. Her dark hair was expertly styled in what he supposed was a fashionable blunt cut, with tasteful earrings swinging just under the edge. Her silk sheath dress set off her figure without being blatant. A pair of heels added two inches to her height, bringing her up to five foot six. She was every inch a polished young woman, fit to be seen on the arm of a young up and coming doctor. Wolverine smothered the irritation again and finally stood up.

Jubilee turned as she caught the movement, and Hayden turned with her.

・This must be Wolverine, right?・ Hayden・s teeth were amazingly white and even in a boyishly charming smile, and Wolverine would have bet his Harley the kid had never been in a fistfight in his life. He took his hands out of his pockets and offered one.

・Jube tell you about me?・

・She・s mentioned you all once or twice. Said you were a kind of brother-slash-father figure to her when she was growing up.・

・That・s not quite right, Hayden. I told you he was a brother, father, platoon of marines with attitude figure while I was growing up.・ Jubilee・s sapphire eyes sparkled up at her man, then turned to Wolverine, her voice softening. ・He・s also been my best friend for just about ever.・

The deep affection in her gaze unaccountably caused a huge lump Logan's his throat. He was saved from having to respond by Jean・s interruption, offering to show the two to their rooms, and he ignored the tiny leap of relief in his chest when he realized the couple would not be sharing a room.

At five o・clock, Jubilee walked into the kitchen and stopped short. ・Okay, what is wrong with this picture?・ she demanded. ・The guys are watching football and womenfolk are cooking. I think we・ve done a time warp here.・

・Do you really want Bobby in here helping?・ Rogue replied, arranging a plate of hors d'oeuvres.

・Heck, no. He・d hoover the whole thing before we got it out on the table.・

・That was mah point.・


・I hope you・re not including me in that remark, Jubilee,・ Bishop・s voice was even deeper than usual as he stood up from the open industrial size refrigerator which was barely larger than he was, his hands holding several vegetables.

・No way, Bish. What, football not violent enough to keep you interested?・

・Exactly,・ he replied shortly. He retrieved a large knife from the drawer and began to slice tomatoes in quick and precise strokes.

・Gotcha.・ Jubilee checked the oven, ignoring Jean・s demand she leave the door shut, then lifted the lid of each pot in succession.

・If you want to help, there・s a bag of spinach over there with your name on it,・ said Storm pointedly.

Jubilee heaved a martyred sigh and began to attack the greenery. Rogue eased up next to her and gave her a bump with her shoulder.

"So?" she drawled, expectantly.

"So what?" Jubilee replied, bumping her back.

"So, TELL!" she demanded.

"Well, Jubilee started, "he's a doctor, almost, and・"

"Oh, we know all that stuff," Rogue interrupted impatiently. "Tell us the good stuff."

"Like what?"

・Like how much have you told him?・ Trust Storm to cut to the heart of the matter.

・I told him I grew up in a place full of other mutants like me. He must have thought this was a halfway house or something, ・cause he was quite impressed when we drove up.・ ・Did you tell him about us?・

・I told him you were bossy, Storm, but no details. I didn・t give him a complete dossier on everyone's powers and code names.・

・Does he know ・who・ we are,・ Jean asked pointedly.

・No.・ Jubilee tore the stems off the green leaves with unnecessary violence. ・I didn・t think he was ready for the full disclosure. Maybe later. There・s a lot・ we have a lot of things we haven・t discussed yet." She took a deep breath. "So, we should probably avoid subjects like, say, Shi・ar battle cruisers.・

・How・d he take the news that y・ere a mutant?・

・Pretty well, once his jaw finally shut. He was shocked at first, especially when I showed him some sparkles. But he said he loved me, just the way I was, and he didn・t want to change me." She rinsed the spinach leaves; her next words all but lost under the sound of the running water. "And, he doesn't think I'm too young.・

Rogue and Jean exchanged significant glances behind her back, but remained silent as Jubilee worked.

"Does he treat you well?" Bishop's voice was a bass rumble, but the concern was obvious. Apparently the big guy wasn't completely oblivious to the girl talk. Jubilee gave him a warm smile.

"Yes. Yes he does."

・Good.・ Wolverine was not the only person with protective instincts.

・And do ya love him?・ Rogue was always interested in matters of the heart.

・Yeah.. I really think I do.・ (That was enthusiastic, she thought to herself.) Lightly, she added, ・He・s handsome, rich, and very wonderful - and he・s not anti-mutant. What else could a girl want?・


Bobby and Hayden were both fans of the same football team, and that team was as usual giving an abysmal pre-season performance. Between plays, Drake was grilling the doctor on the details of the new Mercedes he'd driven up in.

Standing outside the French doors and listening idly, Gambit and Wolverine were indulging their nicotine habit.

"The homme, he seem like a good guy," Gambit supposed. "Iceman seem ready to clasp him to our collective bosom."

"Bobby just likes his ride," Wolverine growled. "Thurston Junior's gettin' on my nerves."

"You think mebbe he not the man for de petite?"

Logan didn't answer, but tossed his half-smoked cigar into the flower box and stalked away.

From the recliner, Scott regarded his guest with some misgivings. He・d really held out hope that jubilee would rejoin the X-Men. He・d understood her reasons when she・d stayed in Boston after graduating college, and he・d been sympathetic to her striking out on her own. But in his gut he・d always felt she was one of them. And now this man (human, a previously unsuspected and prejudiced part of his brain wanted to sneer) was planning on taking her away for good. He cleared his throat. Since the Professor had not made it back to the mansion yet, he decided it was time someone played father figure. "So, Hayden. How'd you two meet, anyway?"

Hayden groaned at a dropped pass, then replied. "Jubilee brought this kid into the emergency room where I was interning - she was out rollerblading and he crashed into her with his skateboard. The boy had a broken collarbone, and she stayed with him the whole time and kept making him laugh. I thought she was his nanny, or something. But when it turned out his family didn't have insurance, she paid for the ER visit."

"That's Jube," Bobby observed. "She's got a soft spot for kids."

"What really got me, though, was that all the time she's helping me with this kid, she's got a three inch gash in her leg bleeding all over the floor. She never complained once."

"Jubilation has always been very caring of others, Hayden.・ Hank's mellifluous voice brought a tender smile to his fellow doctor. ・That she would ignore her own wound to help a child is not in the least surprising.・

"I know. She has so much energy, and she cares so much about people, even when she acts so cynical. That's what really attracted me in the first place. I know that she's a little bouncy sometimes, but・ she's got so much passion, you know?"

The other men in Jubilee's life agreed with the obviously besotted young man. Jubilee・s spirit didn・t come in industrial size packages. It came in tanker loads.

Hayden leaned towards Bobby and whispered in a conspiratory tone, "And I know that once we get married, she・ll settle down.・

Bobby stared at the carpet, and abruptly came to agreement with Logan and Gambit. This poor fool had no idea what he was talking about. Tame down the walking firecracker? Him and what army!?

"So, you accept the fact that Jubilee isn't fully human?" Scott asked.

"Well, I've seen her fingertips sparkle. They really seem kind of pretty. It's not like they're destructive or anything."

"Um, Jubilee can put on quite a fireworks display if she gets mad," Bobby said evasively.

"Really? That seems kind of dangerous." Hayden pondered it for a moment, then obviously dismissed it and went back to the game. No one had the nerve to mention the fact that Jubilee・s sparkles could destroy entire city blocks if properly motivated.

Outside on the terrace, Gambit turned his back and grinned like a maniac at the sloping lawn, but he found enjoyment in the oddest things.


"Jubilee, would you light the candles, please?" Storm carried the last dish to the huge dining room table and fussed with some of the napkins. The men were straggling in, still discussing the game.

"Here, hon." Hayden proffered a lighter. She looked at it, then smiled. Reaching out her hand, she brushed the wick with her fingertip. It burst into flames.

"Wow," Hayden breathed. "Hey, that's pretty neat." Jubilee's smile grew wider, and she gave him a quick kiss before lighting the rest of the candles.

At the last minute, the Professor managed to join them. His generic wheelchair was a bit too tall to slide under the table, so Bishop transferred him to one of the Queen Anne chairs with a minimum of fuss.

Jubilee tried to frame an apology in her mind, but as usual, the powerful telepath caught her thoughts and gave her a subtle nod in reply. He would keep up the pretense of being a 'normal disabled' until Hayden learned the full truth. She gave him a grateful look, but half a lifetime of experience told her he was busy 'listening' to Jean bring him up to date telepathically.

The conversation over the course of the meal kept swirling oddly as they veered away from taboo subjects before their guest. Jubilee kept the silences to a minimum by telling Hayden little tidbits on the group, like Rogue and Remy's on-again, off again relationship and teasing them all without mercy. Hayden sat beside her and joined in with anecdotes from his work. At one point, Hank asked him what he planned on doing after he completed his requirements.

"Well, that kind of depends of Jubilee. After all, were at the perfect place in our lives, ready to take the next step.." There came a quiet thump, and Hayden's eyes widened a bit, but the others pretended not to notice that Jubilee's foot had just connected with her beau's shin. The subject was quickly changed to the Professor's trip to Washington, and everyone, Hayden included, raised a toast to the defeat of another piece of legislation limiting mutants・ rights.

"I just don't see what the big deal is," Hayden offered. "The mutation gene isn't contagious, and yet half the staff at the hospital will refuse to work on patients they suspect are mutants. This entire issue is being blown completely out of proportion, and in the meantime the possible benefits to society are endless."

He had the complete attention of everyone at the table. Professor Xavier gestured to the younger man encouragingly. ・Do elaborate, Dr. Wright.・

"People with genetic mutations could provide a huge service with their abilities. If someone could, say, encourage plants to grow, they could take contracts in third world nations to help boost crop production. We had a guy in the ER one night who could control fire. He should have had the city begging him to take a job in the Fire Department. I mean, the commercial possibilities are phenomenal! Just think, if they ever found a mutant who could control the weather, that would be worth a fortune!・

Ororo thoughtfully pounded Rogue on the back, since the southern belle seemed in danger of choking on her wine.

After dinner, Jean and Bishop (mostly Jean) pushed Jubilee out of the kitchen and back to her guest, saying they・d handle clean up detail. She gave Jean a thankful peck on the cheek, waved cheerfully at the sight of Bishop with a dishtowel over his shoulder, and headed back through the silent dining room to the media room where the sound of voices spilled out into the hall. She・d nearly reached the main passage when a hand shot out of the darkness and brought her to a halt.

・Tell me you・re not seriously considering hookin・ up with this guy.・ Wolverine・s gravely voice was lower than usual. Jubilee twisted her arm enough to make him let go.

・If I am, it・s none of your business. You have no say in the matter.・

"The hell I don't," he growled back.

"Wolverine, you are the best friend I've ever had. I will always value your opinion. But you have no more right to tell me what to do than anyone else here." Her emphasis on the word brought a wordless growl. ・You gave up that right two years ago. Surely you remember the night I offered myself to you, complete with a little red bow? Don・t tell me you・ve forgotten the single most humiliating moment of my life.・

Wolverine had the grace to flush slightly.

・You got on your scoot and took off, saying I'm not the one for you, you're not the one for me, or some other macho crap."

・And now yer tryin・ to prove something, by showing up with this dweeb?・

・No. I・m getting on with my life. With someone who wants me. Someone who doesn・t see me as just a thirteen-year-old tagalong.・

・So tell me, just how does this guy see you?・

"He's asked me to marry him."

Wolverine was utterly still. ・And what did you tell him?・ he demanded quietly.

・I haven・t・ I haven・t answered him yet. But I・m going to.・

She stepped around him and continued out into the main passage. The unfamiliar squeak of rubber on the polished floor caught her at her dormant reflexes. She whirled, then relaxed as Professor Xavier・s ordinary wheelchair rolled forward again.

Xavier did not say anything, for which she was grateful, but his concern was plain on his face. His unwavering support of her flailing attempt to establish a separate life meant a great deal to her, and his forbearance in questioning her as he might have done perversely made her feel like giving him an answer anyway. Unable to marshal her swirling thoughts into a coherent message, she instead constructed a wordless illustration deliberately lowered her barriers.

In her mind, a shimmering image formed. A woodland path stretched before her, and at her feet it divided. On one side the path continued to a shining fairy-tale castle, with pennants flying. The other meandered into a dark and forbidding forest, full of sharp rustling sounds and exciting, dank smells. Xavier gazed at her with understanding, then wheeled himself down the hall.

Jubilee, however, suddenly lost her nerve. She did an about face and instead slipped into the hall lavatory. The cold water on her face helped, but she spent several long moments staring at herself in the mirror before once more joining the jumble of people. Wolverine, she saw instantly, had already come in and was standing in the open French doors with an unlit cigar in his fingers. Bobby and Scott were reviving some disagreement about the game while Rogue and Remy were sitting together murmuring about heaven only knew what. There was no sign of Hayden.

・Have you seen・.・

Beast pointed at the windows, adding his own analysis of the incomprehensible sports debate, and she took it to mean Hayden was out on the terrace. She stepped past Wolverine without a word, but was completely aware he watched her pass by. Hayden・s familiar form was leaning against the stone railing.

・Hayden?・ she called softly.

He turned and held his arm out to her, and unaccountably she rushed into his arms. ・I・m so sorry, Hayden. I didn・t think it would be quite like this.・

His arms wrapped around her tightly, and he dropped a kiss on the top of her head. ・Hey, this wasn・t so bad. Really.・

She smiled up at him. ・Does that mean you don・t want your ring back?・

His beautiful white teeth flashed as he smiled back down at her. ・Does this mean you want to keep it?・ He stroked her face with one hand. ・I love you, Jubilation Lee.・

His mouth came down on hers, and in that moment, she thought that some fairy tales just might come true after all.

Bobby poured himself a generous scotch at the bar, which promptly disappeared under a large hand.

・Hey,・ he protested.

・Stuff it, Ice Cube.・ Wolverine appropriated the bottle as well, but Bobby knew better than to dispute ownership. Every X-man knew Wolverine would have a bad time when his prot・・announced her engagement. He・d watched over Jubilee for more than ten years, ever since the spunky kid had saved Logan・s bacon in the Outback of Australia. In his opinion, the old guy was actually handling it well.

Bobby found a seat on the other side of the room, took a quick peak at the necking couple on the terrace, and settled in to watch the tube. He didn・t have Wolverine・s hearing, so the sweet nothings outside could just stay outside.

Jubilee put her head on the warm chest of her fianc・and sighed. ・So, what・s the plan. Tell me our future.・ She could tell Hayden was smiling. ・I・ve never been very good at looking forward.・

・Our future. I like the sound of that.・ His hands stroked her back. ・Well, I・ve been talking to a group in California. They・d like me to come out and talk about a position they have opening up next year, after I finish up.・

・California is a long way away,・ she said casually. ・The long distance bills would be huge.・

・I thought you were from California. Anyway, we wouldn・t stay there long. A couple years, maybe four or five. Then we・d move back home to Boston." His voice slid into a silly singsong. "You・ll be a doctor・s wife, and my mother will drag you into all her charities・・

・Surely there・s more to life than being a doctor・s wife and your mother・s flunky,・ she laughed.

Hayden chuckled and wrapped his arms around her. ・Isn・t this the part where I say you can get a job until we have kids, and you get ticked off at my macho attitude?・

・No, goofball. Still, California is a long way from our families.・

・A few years away won・t be so bad. We can always go home to visit. And you," he emphasized, dropping a kiss on her nose, "can do anything you want. Or nothing. Just try not to give my mother heart failure." Another kiss found her mouth before he tucked her head under his chin and held her close. "Besides, it's not like these people are really a part of your life anymore.・

Jubilee pulled her head back to look at him. ・Yes, they are.・

・Honey, you・ve been living in Boston all through college. In the two years we・ve been dating, how many times have you come home to visit?・

She started to answer, but thought that maybe she・d leave out the missions they・d ask her to help on once or twice. That would definitely be out of the question if she went to the other side of the country.

・Hayden, I ・I・ve been trying to make a separate life, and they all understood that. Just because I didn・t visit them didn・t mean I didn・t care about them.・

"C'mon, Jubilee. These people are your past. They・re not even blood relatives. You can't possibly expect to maintain ties with them.・

・Why not?・

・Look at them - they're hiding out here from the world, and you・re moving out into the world. They・re recluses. For all you know, they could be supplying help to those terrorists."

Jubilee frowned. "What terrorists?"

"The X Men, or whatever they call themselves. Look, I know you feel some sympathy for them, but you're not like them. You can make rainbows and sparkles with your hands, but that's no big deal. You're beautiful, you're smart・ "

"I'm a mutant, Hayden. Above all else, that's what I am."

"No one has to know that, Jubilee. We can keep it a secret."

Hayden wrapped her up tight in his arms and gave her a hug that was surely meant to be reassuring. It wasn・t. Jubilee・s arms were pinned against his chest. For some reason it made her nervous, but she quelled the emotion. She・d spent her college years practicing this exact skill, keeping her attitudes and her powers buttoned down like Rogue・s gloves. The world she was accepting along with his ring would require that kind of corseted control. But the trickle of nervousness came again. She was accepting it not just for herself, but for her future. And her children・s future . . .

Jubilee pushed his chest away, giving herself more space. She looked up into his eyes. "And what about children, Hayden?"

Inside, Bobby heard the word children and perked up. He couldn・t imagine Jubilee as a Mom.

"Well, hey, with your beauty and my brains・" Hayden joked.

She refused to be put off. "You know what I mean. What if they're mutants?"

Hayden took a deep breath. ・There are new genetic tests coming out all the time. Prenatal determinations of any genetic defects are going to be accomplished long before any fetus is viable. Termination would be a simple procedure・・

Jubilee・s hand shot out and touched his chest. ・Excuse me. Did you say termination?・

At the same moment, Bobby said, "Excuse me?" and toed the French door open a little wider. The voices from outside were louder, and carried clearly into the room. The rest of the group started dropping the threads of their conversations as they became aware of the escalating argument outside.

"Bobby, close that door immediately!" Jean demanded. "This is none of our business!"

"Close it yourself!" After a long moment, Jean reached out telepathically and began to ease the door shut. Bobby stuck his foot in the way.

・The mutation factor is just one more of several genetic anomalies・・ Hayden・s voice receded into a wordless yammer. In Jubilee's mind, the corset of conformity suddenly became a straightjacket. It was an unfortunate mental association with the time she・d been confined by a real straightjacket, unable to breathe or move properly, while she endured the emotional torture and physical abuse at Bastion・s hands. She stepped back, twisting out of his hold.

・Jubilee, calm down!・

"Now, dat dere was a mistake," Remy muttered.

"DON'T tell me to calm down!" Jubilee snapped. She took one step before Hayden grabbed her arm.

・Let go of me,・ she warned in a quietly furious voice.

Furry paws the size of his head stopped Logan's forward momentum, and only the fact that Beast massed more than he did kept Logan from knocking him aside.

"If our Jubilee cannot handle one stuffed shirt with cretin tendencies, then she's not the X-man I remember." Beast released Logan's shoulder. But from the look in his normally calm blue eyes, If Jubilee・s would-be suitor didn・t behave himself, Logan would have to work quickly to get his fair share of stomping Dr. Hayden Wright into a greasy spot on the flagstones.

"Jubilation, I'm sorry," Hayden began.

"Not as sorry as you're gonna be, bub." Logan growled.

"I need you to listen to me. I'm not sure what went wrong just now・things were going so well, just like I planned, and ・"

"No, you listen to me." Jubilee took a breath, reestablishing a firm grip on her temper.

"Getting married was your idea. I've told you ten times that I wasn't ready for marriage. But you kept pushing and pushing. Well, now that I know for sure how you really feel about my 'little secret,' as you put it - - well, then, where we're at, is over."

"Don't be ridiculous." The stress was beginning to tell on him. ・I・m the best thing that could happen to you. Look at how far you・ve come from where you started.・ His arm waved expansively, taking in the mansion and her life there.

Jubilee gaped at him. ・Let me put this in a football metaphor, all right? This weekend was sudden death overtime. You just dropped the ball at the one-yard line. Game over, you lose.・ He frowned at her, and she took pity on him and pushed her anger down further. ・Hayden, you're, like, the liberal banner holder in your family. You know that your mother and the rest of your family have a problem with my Chinese heritage. They would never accept it if they knew I・m also a mutant.・ She held out one hand in an appeal to his common sense. ・Just think of the trouble you・ll be saving yourself in the long run."

"I know my mother's a little old fashioned," he protested. "But they don't have to know about your mutation, or about these people."

"These people are my family," she corrected icily.

・Your family died a long time ago, Jubilee. These people didn・t even raise you! You were at a boarding school, remember? These people sent you away, and they should mean nothing to you!・

Jubilee inhaled sharply as his words ripped open old wounds. ・They・re still my family.・

"This isn't a family!" he finally snapped. "It's a goddamn freak show!"

The peanut gallery managed to catch the words, "O.K., that's IT!" before a burst of red and white light left spots dancing in their eyes. A sudden BOOM shook that side of the mansion, rattling the glass in the windows.

A thud came from the direction of the lawn, and without any further thought the X-men boiled outside to see Jubilee hop the stone railing with remarkable grace and stalk across the damp grass towards a stunned Hayden. He sat mostly upright, shaking his head. The front of his shirt was singed in two starburst patterns, below the tattered remains of his fancy silk tie. Hayden focused in horrified awe at the sight of Jubilee's hands trailing angry plasma sparks that fell and sputtered into the dew.

"You can make assumptions about me that are based on your own tight-assed little fantasies. You can live in your own little ・mutants as a useful second class・ world," she shouted, getting louder with each step. He gaped at her as she straddled his prone legs, and made a belated effort to scuttle backwards as she grabbed the front of his shirt. "You can cold-bloodedly talk about terminating my children,・ she raged, as smoke began to rise from the clenched fabric, ・but don't you DARE insult my FAMILY!"

Hayden・s head twisted to one side, eyes scrunched shut.

"Weenie!" Jubilee said in disgust, letting him drop flat. She regarded him for a moment, thinking, then called out over her shoulder. She seemed not at all surprised that she had an audience. "Rogue!"

"Yeah, sugah?"

"In my room, on my dresser, is a little velvet box with a great honkin' diamond ring in it. Would you get it for me, please?"

"Sure thing, Jubilee!"


"Yes, Jubilee."

"Give this - person - a quick memory rinse, would ya?"

"Jubilee, you know that's not the sort . . . " the professor began.

"Spun, fluffed and folded!" she snapped. She tilted her head to one side, considering the man at her feet. He'd either fainted, or was playing possum. "Nothing too drastic, maybe. Just make sure he can't remember exactly what you all look like or where the mansion is located."

The professor reflected. "That would seem prudent."


"Yeah, Jube?"

She turned and grinned, not at all nicely. "Feel like taking a spin in a brand new Mercedes?" She received an enthusiastic double thumbs-up in reply. "Drop him off in a parking lot somewhere, ・kay?"

Trudging back through the damp grass to the terrace, Jubilee spent a moment looking up at her friends ・her family. They all beamed proudly at her. How could she have forgotten what real love felt like, given to and received from people who allowed you to be exactly who you really were?

She took a shaky breath. "Hey, Cyclops?"

"Yes?" he replied, wondering what task she'd find for him to execute. She regarded him for a long moment.

"Is that offer still open?"

A broad smile spread slowly across his face. The others looked at him questioningly.

"Yes, I believe it is, Jubilee."

"Cool - I'll take it. I'll need a couple days to pack up my apartment, but then I'll be moving back into my old room. If that's okay with you, Professor?" She looked up at the man in the wheelchair.

"I think that would be entirely satisfactory, Jubilee. Welcome home." The others began to cheer and clap, but the older man winked at her.

An image was suddenly projected into her mind, causing her to laugh. The fairy tale castle went up in flames, while the peasants danced on the green and sang rude French songs. Gambit gave her a hand up over the edge of the railing and spun her in a hug. Several of the others joined in a group hug, despite the sarcastic comments.

Logan, however, remained propped against the stone wall. Jubilee gave him a challenging look, but couldn't hold it against the warm joy of homecoming. Suddenly she snapped her fingers in his direction, and the end of his cigar burst into flames. He puffed on it appreciably. As she walked past him, she barely heard the low words.

"Ya growed up pretty good, there, darlin'."

She did not look back at him. "Thanks."