Sunset: Part 1

by A.J. Matthews

Disclaimer: These characters are the creation of someone else; they are not mine, so please don・t sue me.

Muir Island

Jubilation Lee lay in the hospital bed, unmoving and unresponsive. The X-Men stood there by her side. Kitty Pryde was sobbing. ・It can・t be!・ she shouted.

・Why did she do it?・ Kitty cried. ・Why did she have to・・ She choked on a sob.

・Damn it, Hank, there has to be something you can do for her!・ shouted Scott Summers angrily, as he clung to the eighteen-year-old・s limp hand.

・No one regrets more than I that I cannot help her. In spite of Moira MacTaggert and my own best efforts, she is leaving us.・ Beast aka Hank McCoy looked at Jubilee sadly.

・De petite will be fine. She cannae be defeated so easily,・ said Gambit reassuringly. ・Dis will not break her.・

・Shut up, Cajun,・ growled Logan aka Wolverine. At this moment, he looked more feral than ever before, with his teeth bared and his eyes flashing with anger. He glared at Scott aka Cyclops. ・This is all your fault, squinty!・

・My fault?!?・ Scott said incredulously. ・Just how the hell is this my fault!・ he demanded, glaring back at Wolverine.

・You and Chuck are the heads of this group- you・re supposed to plan for everything!・ Logan growled. ・You screwed up big time, little man!・

・Wolverine, please・・ said Jean Summers. ・We・re all upset right now.・ She leaned against Scott reassuringly. She looked tired and pale, not good considering she was three months pregnant.

Wolverine turned away, listening to one of the few people he ever bothered listening to. Inside, his mind was screaming. This is all your fault! You didn・t protect her!

Professor Xavier entered the room, noticing the silence. ・Beast, is there any news?・ he asked quietly.

Hank McCoy shook his head. ・She・s entered a coma. I don・t know if she・ll ever wake up after・・

・I see. X-Men, I think it・s time you went home and got some rest. You can・t do any good if you fall asleep from exhaustion. We・ve been here for nearly seventy-two hours straight. It・s especially not good for you, Jean. I・ll stay here with her,・ the Professor said in his quiet voice.

One by one, the X-Men left slowly, except for Wolverine and the Professor.

・Are you ok, Logan?・

・Of course! Jubes will be just fine!・ Wolverine stormed out of the room, hiding his concern.

Professor Xavier looked down at the unconscious girl, who bore cuts and bruises all over her body, where the blanket and hospital gown did not cover them. An oxygen mask was fastened over her mouth and nose, and an IV dripped into Jubilee・s right arm.

・I・m so sorry, Jubilee.・ The Professor spoke into an empty room. If anyone・s to blame, it・s me. I sent all of the X-Men there, and you, because you insisted on coming ・just for old times sake・.・

A few days before・

・X-Men, please report to the Common Room,・ Professor Xavier・s voice said over the intercom system.

The X-Men entered the Common Room, and were amazed to see Jubilee standing there next to him. She had grown taller and thinner since the last time they saw her. Her dark hair was now worn in a long ponytail, and her cheekbones were more refined.

・Miss me?・ Jubilee grinned and laughed, one of her merry laughs that had not been heard around the mansion for a long time.



・Well, I・ll be・・

All of the X-Men rushed forward to hug her, except for Kitty aka Shadowcat, who never knew how to interact with Jubilee. Jubilee felt that it was Kitty・s fault that she had been sent to Generation X and had never gotten over it. So Kitty was amazed when Jubilee, after hugging everyone else, ran over to her and hugged her, too.

・How ya doin・, Pryde?・ Jubilee said with a shy smile.

・Fine, Jubilee,・ Kitty stammered.

・Look, Kitty, we need to have a long talk later, okay?・ Jubilee said, worried that Kitty would say no, after the way she・d been treated.

Kitty nodded slowly. ・Okay.・

The entire X-Men group were getting ready to party when Cerebro interrupted, beeping and bleeping.

・Warning! Mutant activity in the vicinity of Government buildings. Mutant Identifications: Sabertooth, Mystique, Toad, Mr. Sinister, and 3 unidentified mutants.・

・Ah man, they・re ruinin・ Jubilee・s welcome home bash,・ drawled Rouge in her southern drawl.

・I・m afraid the reunion will have to wait until after this threat・s been dealt with,・ said Professor Xavier, as he scanned the printout. ・Those buildings contain vital documents that, if destroyed, could shut down the mutant-human peace talks.・

・We・re on it, Professor. Let・s go, X-Men,・ said Cyclops.

・Wait!・ Jubilee cried.

The X-Men stopped and looked at her.

・Let me come!・

・Jubilee, I don・t think・・

・C・mon, just for old times sake?・ she pleaded. ・It・ll probably be the last chance I・ll have to work with you again before I have to go back to Ms. Frost and everyone.・

The X-Men looked at each other.

・It・s ok with me,・ Scott said.

・You know you・re always welcome, Jubes,・ said Wolverine, grinning.

Kitty nodded. ・Okay with me, too.・ She thought Jubilee had grown up a lot since they last met.

・Fine wit・ me, petite,・ said Gambit, smiling. Some things never changed with her.

・What harm could it do?・ Storm asked.

・I see no reason why she should not come,・ Beast said.

・C・mon, hon, it・s unanimous!・ Rouge drawled.

Jubilee grinned happily. ・Wait till you see my new tricks!・

All of the X-Men and Jubilee raced to change costumes, and then boarded the Blackbird.

*X-Men, Jubilee, be careful. We don・t know what powers this unidentified mutant has,* the Professor reminded them.

・Roger, Professor. See you in a few hours,・ Cyclops said.

Jubilee grew excited as they landed an hour later. She hoped to prove herself this time, and show them that she had grown up a lot since the last time she・d seen them.

・Everybody, focus on the mission: stop the mutants. No showing off,・ Cyclops said, looking pointedly at Wolverine, who glowered back.

・What・s the plan,・ Jubilee asked. ・Three on each or what?・

The others looked at her in surprise.

・Yeah, I guess,・ said Cyclops.

Worrying about his pregnant wife being here had distracted him, Jubilee could feel. Her latent empathic abilities had recently begun to emerge, so she could feel the thoughts and emotions around her. She decided to keep an eye on Jean, just in case, and made certain that she shielded that.

・Well, lookee lookee, it・s Wolverine and-・ Sabertooth took a double look at Jubilee and whistled appreciatively. ・Wow! Miss Jubilation Lee! The dream team, together again!・

Wolverine growled at Sabertooth. ・Shut your mouth! You know what we・re here for!・

・Indeed he does,・ Mystique・s voice chimed in. ・But you won・t stop us this time. Not while we have them・・ She gestured, and Mr. Sinister and Toad appeared.

Mr. Sinister was holding a little girl with silvery hair, lavender eyes, and pale skin, who struggled feebly, but was no match physically for a man much taller and stronger than her.

・Cease struggling, child. Who knows what will happen to your friends if you don・t・・ Sinister said suggestively.

Toad held a very small boy- almost a baby, really, in his arms. The baby had soft, pale yellow hair, with rosy coloring, at emerald green eyes. Toad put a finger to his lips. ・We wouldn・t want to disturb the baby,・ he said with an evil grin.

Mystique jumped down with a small child in her arms, as well. This child was a boy as well, with yellow hair and dark green eyes. He was struggling as well, but was not strong enough to break free.

・I believe we have the advantage here,・ said Sinister, snickering evilly.

・Cowards! Hiding behind children!・ yelled Cyclops.

Jubilee looked very angry. ・How dare you!・ she shouted.

Everyone stopped and stared at her.

She continued speaking, looking directly at Sinister. ・How dare you call yourself a man, when you hide behind a child. Do you think you are so poor a fighter that you need a shield?・ she said scornfully, hoping it would work.

Sinister glared at her and squeezed the girl・s arms hard, but the child didn・t cry out in pain. Instead, Jubilee noticed, she seemed to be concentrating on something.

The X-Men looked at Jubilee, uncertain if she had a plan in mind.

・I bet I could beat you,・ taunted Jubilee as she raised her hands slowly.

Sinister glared more. ・You could not beat me in a fight, child! What・ What is happening!・ he shouted, as a brilliant light burst forth from Jubilee・s hands and blinded him. The little girl twisted free and ran over to Mystique.

・Let him go now!・ she said in a clear voice. ・Falcon, are you ok?・

Falcon nodded slowly as he tried to jerk free.

Sinister growled, leaped forward and landed on Jubilee. ・You・ll pay for that!・ he shouted as he hit her hard across the face.

The X-Men raced forward to help both Jubilee and the little girl, when Sabertooth leapt out of his tree.

Wolverine leapt on him, growling. The two of them rolled back and forth, not noticing Jubilee getting beaten pretty badly.

This is bad, Jubilee thought. I used most of my power up just blinding him. Maybe a few sparks will do the trick and keep him occupied. She let loose with a dazzling display of firecrackers, which enraged Sinister more.

Meanwhile, Jean levitated the baby out of Toad・s arms, and little Falcon as well. Her kinesis was a little weak, but she managed to set them down near the little girl.

・Shadowcat, get these children out of here, ok?・ Cyclops said. ・We・ll cover you!・ He blasted Mystique back into a wall.

Kitty ran over to the children.

・Come with me. I・ll take you someplace safe.・

The children looked at Kitty, each other, and then nodded. Falcon picked up the baby.

Mystique changed her form into another Cyclops and blasted him back. Jean ran over and deflected the blast.

・Be careful, Jean,・ said Cyclops worriedly.

Jean nodded and used her kinetic powers to levitate Mystique into the air.

Jubilee was flung directly into a wall. ・Hey, that hurt!・ She retaliated with another firecracker, making it stronger this time, so that when it sparked, it hurt him.

In the meantime, Gambit, Rouge, and Storm had managed to defeat Toad by knocking him out with one of Storm・s lightening bolts.

They raced over to help Jean and Cyclops because they were worried about Jean as well.

・Know what, little firecracker?・ taunted Sinister.

・What?・ Jubilee looked at him warily.

・You and your friends are never going to leave this place alive. In less than two minutes, this place will blow up. It was all a trap.・ He laughed. ・Toad, Sabertooth, Mystique! It・s time to go!・ Before he left, he jabbed out with his leg and hit Jubilee・s right ankle hard.

Jubilee crumpled to the ground in agony. She knew her ankle was broken, from the pain. She was more worried about the others.

・Get out of here! Now! It・s going to blow up any minute now!・ she yelled to the X-Men.

・Huh?・ said Cyclops, not understanding.

Jubilee knew they would never make it in time if they tried to help her. She also knew that they would never leave her behind. There was only one choice- to use her new power to transform things into light. Jubilee had gained this power through months of training and had only recently mastered it. Reaching with her new power, she transformed all of the X-Men into beams of light and flung them away, to where Kitty stood with the children.

*Goodbye,* she said in their minds.

The X-Men were stunned as they reappeared next to Kitty.

Jean looked stricken. ・Jubilee, no!・ she screamed and began running back towards her.

・Jean, what are you doing?・ asked Scott.

・Don・t you understand! That place is about to explode! She・s trying to save us from it!・ Jean continued running towards Jubilee, seeing her lying there.

Oh no! Jubilee thought. She flung up a light shield that stopped Jean and the other X-Men from reaching her, thinking only to protect them.

・No, Jubilee,・ Jean sobbed. ・Please don・t do this!・

*I choose this!* she said, as the bomb went off.

・JUBILEE!・ all of the X-Men yelled at once.

To be continued・