Three Weeks Later
Claire sat in the bushes watching the men in the booth above. The one they called Charles Xavier and his followers had put her in here, in this 'danger room', under the guise of tracking her recovery; but she knew the truth. They were watching her, gauging her, trying to see how much a threat she truly posed. Unfortunately for them she knew what they were doing, but they could not be sure if she knew. She had that to her advantage, and she always used all available resources to get what she wanted.
So now here she sat, in the bushes watching men that weren't real guarding a building that didn't exist. Frankly she felt ridicules, but she would play their game and bide her time, good things came to those who wait. She watched the perimeter, looking for a weakness so she could get inside and obtain her objective. She crept forward and when one of the guards turned his back she moved past him silently and crouched behind a sign next to the fence.
She paused, cocking her head. Cable was near by, she could feel him in her head, where he had been a permanent visitor for the last three weeks. She focused her attention on him, he was agitated; probably about the guard she had taken out at the checkpoint. She gave a feral smile, lets see just how worked up she could get him. Peeking around the sign she watched the guards and when they weren't looking she took off at a run and flipped deftly through the spaces in the barb wire fencing. She felt him frown at her unnecessary risk, giving her a feeling of satisfaction.
Once inside the fence it was only a matter of avoiding the lights until she got to the building and found a way inside.
Charles Xavier and Gambit sat in the control room watching the girl below them try to get into the building. They had told her it was to make sure she was healing properly, but Charles was sure that she didn't buy that. He knew that she wasn't stupid, what he didn't know was how intelligent she was. They didn't know what she was capable of or the extent of her mutant powers. They could only know what she showed them, or was Cable was able to discern from the fractured memories or thoughts in her head.
As if on cue Cable walked into the room and peered into the danger room below.
"She down there?"
"Yes, so far she hasn't had any problems. She shows quick reflexes and a strong survival instinct. Like Logan she appears to have heightened senses of smell, sight, and hearing."
"Not ta mention de hairballs blood lust, no? She took out a security guard at de check point, mon ami." Remy said, not taking his eyes off the monitors controlling and recording what was going on in the room below.
"So what your saying is that the apple didn't fall too far from the tree and she's a loose cannon?" The muscle in Nate's jaw twitched as he clenched it. He had told the others about the state of her mind. It was like a fractured and splintered mirror, but they didn't see what the shards reflected, it horrified even him.
"If she is indeed Logan's daughter then that may be the case. Unfortunately we only know what she is willing share with us, which isn't much, and what she shows us in tests like these." Charles places his forefingers together and rested his lips against them. "Unfortunately we have no way of knowing if she is showing us everything. Can you pick up anything from her?"
"She knows I'm here."
"You can sense each others presence's?"
"Yes, it seems that we both have a psychic radar for each other. Makes it easy for us to avoid each other." He paused silently for a moment before scowling, "She wouldn't."
"She wouldn't what?" Charles asked.
"We got movement people," Remy sat forward in his seat, turning away from the heat sensory system to look out of the window. The group watched as she ran from the woods to the sign and proceeded to take to two hundred yards of open ground to flip in between the wires. They let out a collective breath when she cleared the barbed electrified wire and landed solidly on her feet.
Remy whistled as he leaned back in his seat, "petite got guts, can't be more 'en 2 ½ feet between those wires."
"What she has," Cable bit out, "is a vindictive sense of humor. She knew I was watching and did it to make me angry."
"The question is Nathan, why would she want to do that."
"Because she is testing us at the same time we are testing her."
Claire got inside the building without any trouble, only one guard inside the door to take out. She knew that the stunt at the gate had gotten their attention, and that they would be watching to see how she got to the center of the building of the building. Not wanting to give away all of her secrets she had to stop them from watching her. Shorting out the building's power was easy enough, throwing the building into darkness; but they had heat sensors too so she lowered her body temperature to that of the rest of the room so she could move undetected. Her infrared lenses slipped into place, coming up from the bottom of her lids and she walked down the hallway and listened at the door. She could only smell one person inside, so she silently opened the door and walked in. They were walking against the wall trying to find the door, they didn't appear to show any sign of being a threat so she waited until the found the door and left the room without detecting her before she turned to the air duct and climbed into it. She was close to the objective, a captured team member, and then she could get out of this place. She grumbled to herself as she moved slowly through the vent, stopping at each opening to smell the air before moving on. Suddenly she caught something in the air and smiled, perhaps this wouldn't be so bad after all.
"What in da hell?" Remy sat forward in his chair as he watched Wildfires thermal reading disappear from the screen.
"What?" Nate came forward and leaned over the Cajuns chair.
"Her thermal reading disappeared from da screen right after da power went out. Do ya tink dat it's a bug in da system?"
"No Remy, most likely Ms. Claire is giving us a taste of what she can do."
"How is she gonna get around in da dark do ya suppose?"
"Logan doesn't need his eyes to get somewhere, I suppose that neither does she."
"She's toying with us Professor," Nate said as he turned to leave, "She is going to give us just enough information to raise more questions. She has already shown that she has no regard for the team's safety. We should get ride of her before someone gets hurt."
"And do what with her Nate? Turn her over to the FOH? That's is not our way." Charles sighed tiredly.
"Perhaps in this instance it would be the lesser of the two evils."
Jubilee sat on the edge of the dock, her feet crossed in front of her and her chin resting in her hand. Her hair was tucked behind her ears, but the wind kept pulling at it trying to dislodge it, making her wish it were short again. She came here, back to her home with the X-men, to get away from it for awhile, to take a rest. She should have known better. Trouble followed these people whereever they went. She ought to know, she had been around for a lot of it. Yet this time the timing was truly rotten, life had really given her an upper cut to the chin when she wasn't expecting it. She drummed her fingers against her leg, trying to decide what would be the best way to deal with this. What exactly do you say to the most important person in your life when they spring the news on you that they might have a daughter from a life that they didn't remember? Oh yeah, and they almost killed her, but only because she tried to kill him first. Wolvie had always been her Wolvie, until she left and that bitch Kitty had come in and tried to usurp her position; but now she came back to claim her spot in his life and then this happens.
She was pretty sure that there was some cosmic joke she wasn't getting.
Logan stood up the path from the lake watching his little girl stew about life. She only came here when something big was on her mind, and because of the events of the last few weeks he didn't even have to look anywhere else when she wasn't in the house. He lit his cigar and started walking towards her.
He knew that the kid had been dealt a rough hand lately. First Bastion, who she still didn't talk about, then her room was burned, and lastly Everett died. She had been through worse in her life, but not in such a short period of time. He felt helpless, knowing that he couldn't magically take her pain away, but Jean had pointed out to him that maybe that isn't what she needed. Logan sighed, frustrated cause truthfully he didn't know what she needed.
"Don't even think of coming near me with that thing in you mouth." She hollered over her shoulder as he got closer.
"Thought never even crossed my mind darlin'." He said as he sat down next to her, exhaling a ring of smoke.
"Good, cause I'd have to toast ya." She grinned at him, but he noticed that it didn't reach her eyes.
"What's up kid?"
"Not much. Life."
"Is that all, and here I thought it was something big." She gave him a bitter smile.
"Why does it always have to suck so much? I mean, I do my part. I smile, I make people laugh, and I save the world on a regular basis. So why is it when I try to cash in my paycheck for a little bit of happiness it always gets sent back with a big Not Enough Funds stamp on it?"
"Don't know kid, the only reasoning I can find is that without a little bit of pain we won't know happiness when it comes our way."
"What if you've forgotten what happiness feels like? How will you know it then?" She drew her knees up to her chest and put her head against them. Logan threw his cigar into the lake and put his arms around her stroking her back.
"Come on kid, let it out, just let all that pain and hurt bleed right outta ya." He rested his chin on her head as she sobbed into his shirt. Her small body quivering as she tried not to make any noise.
She buried her head into his shoulder while she cried, feeling safer in his arms than she had in a long time, knowing in this moment that coming home was the right decision. No matter what happened she could face it as long as she had Logan.
Claire sat crouched in a tree, watching Logan as he watched the girl on the dock. She studied the girl who sat hunched on the dock, she reeked of pain and unhappiness, it hung in the air like stale smoke. Her gaze switched back to Logan, who because she was downwind, had no idea that she was there. She was unsure about that girl, Jubilee, she didn't know if she hated her because she got the father she never had, or if she hated Logan for abandoning her too.
Suddenly she smiled because it occurred to her that no one here knew she knew so much about them, not even Nathan, who without his knowledge had provided the information. She had discovered that when he was preoccupied she could gain access to his memories without him knowing it. He was her private encyclopedia to the X-men.
"What you doing petite?" A voice came from behind her.
"Spying on a private moment of pain and weakness."
"Ah, well why don't you come down ere so we can have a chat, no?"
Claire turned and looked down at him. "Why?"
"Not gonna bite chere, just want ta ask you about what happened earlier."
Claire jumped out of the tree, landing on her feet finding herself less than a foot away from him. She took a step back, watching his eyes. "What did you want to know?"
"I was impressed by how you got into da building, was jus wondering how you evaded the heat sensors."
"Charles send you out here on a data recovery mission?"
"Non, it jus dat I never seen anyone do dat before."
She nodded and turned away from him and started to walk down the path as she spoke. From the back he could see her long hair fell to about the middle of her back and it needed to be brushed and trimmed. Her body was clad in a black leotard, which showed off her small trim figure, which consisted of muscle. Some would say that she was under weight.
"It's quite simple actually, I can adjust my body temperature to what ever I desire. If I'm cold I can raise my body temperature until I am warm enough, or like you saw, I can lower it to avoid detection if I desire. Remy?"
She turned to look at him, "why are you looking at my ass?"
"Why not?" he smiled down at her as he stepped closer.
"You consider yourself quite the ladies man don't you Gumbo?"
"I've been called worse."
"I don't doubt that," she smirked at him, "must be hard for you knowing you can't get the woman you want, a woman you can't touch."
His eyes darkened momentarily, "what do you know about dat?"
"You'd be surprised by what I know. However, what I don't see is why you are here trying to charm me right after I gutted Logan in the danger room."
"He wasn't real chere."
"It was a test chere, you know that. Charlie wanted to see what you would do when faced with him. That has not'in to do wit us." He reached up and stroked her cheek.
Claire grabbed his hand and spun him around pinning it behind his back, using her other arm to hook it under his armpit and lever his other arm above his head.
"Didn't you mother ever tell you not to wander off with strangers? Here you are all alone in the woods with me and no one knows you here. I could kill you and dispose of the body before anyone knew anything was wrong." She hissed into his ears.
Remy's arm was pulled painful against his back. He was on his knees and he could feel the joint of hi shoulder pulling, threatening to come out of joint. He gritted his teeth, knowing she would be able to smell his fear. His other arm was held above his head useless, and he had a potentially lethal psychotic behind him. How did he get himself into these situations.
"You could chere, but you wouldn't do that."
"Really, and why is that?" Her lips were close enough to his ear to brush up against it. He closed his eyes, not believing this. This was not the type of girl to be attracted to, one who would kill you as soon as kiss you.
"Because then you would have played you hand, your gonna hold on to it until you see da opportunity you need."
"You think you got me all figured out huh Gumbo. You think that since you've done some pretty bad shit you know what to expect from me, how to handle me. Well I got a news flash for you," she jerked his arm up higher on his back, "anything you've done I've done worse, and you can't figure me out and you can't handle me. People have tried and they are all dead. I have a real penchant for getting rid of people who annoy or disappoint me. And Remy?"
"Yeah?" he ground out.
She kissed his temple, "there is no us." She let the arm above his head drop and reached around to grasp the side of his head.
"What's going on?" A voice from behind them said.
Claire was still or a moment before she let go of Gambit and turned to face the new arrival. Remy fell forward and rolled to his feet, rotating his shoulder to release the tension in it.
"I was demonstrating to your leader how his unwanted advances would be the death of him."
Jubilee stood before her, she had never been this close to the young girl before. Logan was probably afraid that she might try to hurt her. The girl was Asian with dark shoulder length hair. There was a pair of dark glasses perched on her head. She was wearing a waist length black leather coat, jeans, T-shirt and sneakers. She stood in front of Claire with her hands on her hip and an eyebrow raised even though she was afraid. The girl had spunk, Claire almost liked her in that moment, almost.
"Hmm, whatever, Remy scram, I wanna talk to little miss attitude for a bit."
"Petite, I don think dat be a good idea."
Remy sighed, knowing that Logan was gonna kick his ass, but nodded and turned to leave.
"Jus call Remy if you need anything. And you," he pointed at Claire, "had better behave."
Claire gave him a smile that looked more like a snarl than anything else before turning to Jubilee.
"So, what do you want?"
Jubilee stood there a moment watching the woman in front of her. She wasn't too tall, a little taller than herself. Her hair was longer, but a shade lighter and unkempt. Her skin was honey colored, her nose slim, and her lips might be full if she didn't always have them pressed together. Her eyes were a vibrant blue surrounded by dark lashes that were narrowed at her. Her eyes brows arched gracefully over her lids but were pulled together on her forehead.
"If you keep scowling like that your going to get wrinkles."
"Don't have a whole lot to smile about, but neither do you. Cut the crap, we both know why you're here."
"All right, lets make this simple. You hurt Wolvie I'll kill ya."
"Look, I like your spunk and all, but I'm not the least bit afraid of you, and I'm not in the mood to humor you. Your loyalty to him is admirable, but are you sure he's worth it?"
"Why are you so hateful?"
"Because it's the only thing I've ever experienced. I never had someone there to protect me, to hide me from the hate in the world like you did."
"You don't know anything about me lady. No one has protected me from anything."
"Really? Then how come the first time you have to face the shit the world throws at you by yourself you spark goes out? I know more about you than about anyone else here."
"I'm nothing like you."
"Your right about that, I never gave up. I almost like you Jubilee. You know how I feel, what it's like to be abandoned."
"Well don't get all mushy, I don't think were gonna be close friends." Jubilee sneered at the woman in front of her, and was surprised by the sad look that momentarily passed over her face so quickly she wasn't sure if it happened.
"I don't think that. I never have friends, no one is willing to take that chance. And you are the last person I would expect or accept that from."
Unsure of what to say, Jubilee nodded and turned to walk back to the house. She was unsure about what to think of Claire. She had come to find her to get some answers and sort her feelings out, but now she had more questions and was more confused than she was before. Claire was dangerous, that much was obvious, but there was something else there, something underlying the harshness and the hate. Was she imagining it or was Claire only setting her up as a way to hurt Wolvie?
"You didn't imagine it, it is there, but it's fractured." Jubilee wheeled around to see Cable coming out of the trees.
"Is everyone sneaking around today or something?" She grumbled. "What do you mean 'fractured'?"
"Her mind, but she is getting better. Two weeks ago she was much worse than she is now. It's as if my powers are somehow helping her to pull her mind together and give it some order."
"How can you tell?" She asked as they walked back to the mansion together. She felt kind of odd, her and Cable had never really been all that close, never had reason to be; but something in the pit of her stomach told her that was all about to change.
"For one, she's talking. When she first came her sentences were limited to no more than a couple of words. Secondly because she isn't living moment to moment anymore. She plans ahead and analyzes more. I have sensed her watching us, judging."
"Is that good or bad?"
Cable sighed, "I'm not really sure."
"So basically she's like Marrow, but with an attitude problem?" At that Cable did something she had never seen him do, he smiled.
"Something like that."
"So what did you mean by I didn't imagine it?"
"I'm not sure, this is only a hunch, but whatever you think you saw I think you are right. When you were talking to her there was a momentary flash of emotion, something close to regret."
"Oh," great, just what she needed, Wolvie psychotic daughter wanting to be her friend.
They walked in silence for a moment, each lost in their own thoughts. Nate had been almost sure that Gambit was done for, her anger was the only thing that kept her from being alerted to his presence; but when Jubilee showed up there was a sudden shift in her emotions. Claire didn't like most people here, she wasn't even all that fond of him even though she was stuck with him; but it seemed that she felt something like kinship to Jubilee, and that scared him to the marrow of his bones.
"Do you know where Wolvie is?"
"Hmm? Yes, I believe he was talking about some test results with Hank."
Jubilee's world screeched to a halt, "test results?" She took off running towards the house before Nate could say another word.
Logan walked slowly out of the lab. So it was true. He rested his head against the wall. Pregnancy he could handle, but how do you react when you get the news that you have a grown kid whose mental stability is less than questionable, which is probably your fault by the way, and is out for blood. He closed his eyes and growled, this was not his week. His eyes flew open as h felt a hand on his arm and found himself looking into a pair of large concerned eyes.
"Oh," Jubilee bit her lip. "You ok?"
"Not really." He had to give her points, this was tearing her up inside, he could tell, but all she did was nod in understanding.
"Look, Jubes," He put an arm around her and brought her into his embrace. " I know this is hard, you've had a rough couple of months, maybe we should get away for awhile." She sniffled for a bit before shaking her head.
"No, you're needed here. I ran into Claire in the woods and" Logan let out another growl.
"Did she hurt you darlin'? Cause if she did, daughter or no daughter. . ."
"No Logan, we just talked."
He grunted and she continued. " I guess I understand her a little better now. She acts the way she acts cause she's hurting. I mean she is still a grade A nut case and a menace to society and all, but I understand why she acts the way she does. Especially after everything that has happened recently."
"You sure darlin'? Just say the word and we're gone."
"No, I think you should go talk to her."
"Yeah, I figured you might say that."
"Well one of us has to make sense, lord knows it's never you." She gave a weak smile as he hugged her again before walking down the hall to find Claire.
After a long search her found her on the roof. He stood there for a moment watching her. It was raining and windy, but she was steaming where the water hit her and didn't seem fazed by it. Her hair ran straight down her back, ending at the curve of her tiny waist. She looked deceptively small and fragile. Which only made her more dangerous because you might not see it coming.
"You gonna sit there watching me all night or are you going to say something?"
"Haven't really decided yet, 'sides don't really think there is anything I can say."
"Your right about that asshole." She spit out harshly.
He sat down next to her, but she refused to look at him. "Look, I know you're angry, you have every right to be; but I didn't know about you."
"If this is supposed to make me feel better then you really suck at it."
"I just want to let you know that if I even suspected that I had a kid out there I would be looking for you in a second and nothing would stop me from finding you."
"Why?" She asked turning to him, the rain running down her face. "Because your such an upstanding guy? That doesn't' work with me. I know more about you than you do. Besides what would be the point? What would you have done if you had found me?"
'Protect you from whatever caused you so much pain and made you so hateful." He reached out a hand to her, but she jerked away.
"DON"T touch me! Don't EVER touch me! You'd protect me?" She let out a hard harsh laugh. "Would you protect me like you've protected Jubilee? You've done a real bang up job there. How long did it take you to crush her spirit? One year, two? How long Logan?"
"I know Jubilee is having problems. . ."
"You are so blind. She has one big problem, you Logan. You left me, you left mom, you left Jubilee. Tell me Logan is there anyone you haven't left?"
"I can't change the past, but now that I've found you"
"I found you."
Logan was silent for a moment, looking at his daughter beside him. Her body was taught, her eyes were hard, but he saw the slight shake in her lower lip. He suddenly realized that the kid was right, she was in pain and it was his fault. He felt his heart rip as he came to the knowledge that no matter where he went from here the people he cared about would get hurt. If he chose to help Jubilee he would be confirming Claire's worst fears about him, if he started to form a relationship with is daughter Jubilee would lose the attention she so desperately needed from him.
"Do we have a future for any sort of relationship?"
Claire sucked in a breath and looked at him, his face was blank, but there was a twitch in his jaw. Since she had become connected to Nate she had been introduced to new emotions that she was not familiar with but had never felt them first hand until now. As she looked at the man next to her, her father, who had followed her out to sit in the middle of a storm to talk to her she felt hope.
"That depends what you want."
"I'll be willing to take whatever you can give me."
*For gods sake Claire. You clearly want to know your father so take a chance.*
*Butt out Tin Man*
*I can't, your in my head remember, and you are projecting quite loudly in your agitated state. You've come quite far in putting yourself back together the last couple of weeks.*
*All thanks to you, we both know that I wouldn't have gotten this far without you, and I'm far from being better and normal.*
*I'm not Logan's number one fan, but I know he doesn't care about that. What are you afraid of?*
*Anything that doesn't hurt.*
*. . .*
"Can we try?" He held his hand out to her.
"I'm a killer."
"I hurt the people around me."
"I'm not normal."
"I don't care."
She turned to look at him, she held his eyes, "I'm ugly and deformed inside."
He looked at her, studying her face. There was moister there that he was sure wasn't from the rain. "No you're not."
She tentatively reached out and took his hand. The palm was rough against hers and almost twice the size, it swallowed hers up when it closed over it. She looked up at him and gave him a small smile and they just sat like that for awhile, holding hands in the rain.
"Logan, you know I can't forgive you, not yet."
"I can't forgive myself darlin."
"I won't hurt her, Jubilee I mean." He simply nodded.
"Maybe we should go inside."
"You go, I'm gonna sit here for awhile." He squeezed her hand before he got up and went inside to find Jubilee. Claire sat there and closed her eyes, baring her face to the rain. She wasn't sure about this. Part of her wanted to trust him, but the other part, the part that had kept her alive for so long told her to kill him and be done with it. She didn't know which half was the right half - not anymore. She knew one thing though, even though she didn't want them to, these people had changed her, and it scared her. She couldn't go back to the way she was, she knew she wouldn't survive it again. What was done was done, she had to move on, and she had to learn to trust.
Although Thicker than Blood is over the story
of Jubilee, Logan, and Claire will continue in a sequel story when I decide
what to do with them. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing
it! Let me know what you think!