Whistle A Happy Tune

by Dyce

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me, they belong to Marvel. Who mistreats them. And abandons them. Marvel is a bad parent.

Note: Although this story is set in the movieverse, it deals entirely with characters not seen - or barely seen - in the actual movie. This is just me trying to put in some background, and I'm drawing heavily on comics-canon. But since this is Movieverse, and Age Is Negotiable (for example, Pyro is not ten years older than Iceman), Jubilee, Kitty, and Remy are all within a couple of years of the same age. :) Yay.

Warning: Oh, and it has implied sex. <*g*> Bad Dycy, bad!

Jubilee muttered, kicking at the legs of her desk.

Sometimes she really didn't LIKE Rogue.

Oh, sure, she was nice. And polite. And sweet, if you liked that kind of sickeningly sugary, vulnerable stuff. And she never complained when Jubilee listened to her walkman in bed.

But she kept going around being all nice and polite and sweet and vulnerable and covered up like a mummy, and she was getting all the best guys!

Jubilee sighed, doodling little aces all over her English Lit homework. She didn't grudge Rogue her adorably misty brown eyes and her interesting white streak. And she definitely didn't envy Rogue her powers. And Rogue was completely welcome to Bobby. And John. And Logan... well, mostly, he WAS cute for an older guy... but Rogue could have him.

But was it absolutely necessary for her to enchant Remy as well?

Jubilee sighed, and started drawing little hearts around the aces.

* * *

The trouble was, she decided the next morning, sneaking little peeps at Remy under the cunning disguise of throwing paper planes at the back of Storm's head, that Rogue was so damn unattainable. And vulnerable. It was a lethal combination.

The thing about Remy... and Jubilee had studied Remy so assiduously that if he'd been something she could do a book report on, the teachers would have to invent a new letter to go before A... was that while he flirted with everybody, he didn't actually seem to want a relationship. Okay, obviously the flirting with Bobby had just been for the funnies (Bobby had been terrified, hee hee), ditto for flirting with Cyke (who had been, like, *traumatized*), and Remy couldn't POSSIBLY expect to get anywhere with Stormy. But Kitty had kinda liked him, and so had Wanda and Paige. But he'd never gotten around to asking them out. He'd asked Rogue, lots of times, but she always said no.


There might be some sort of connection there.

All righty, where's the pattern here? He'd flirted with Bobby and Storm, who were both entirely unattainable, presumably just for fun. He'd also flirted with Kitty, Rogue, Wanda, and Paige What did those four have in common? Better make it six. What did they all have in common?

They were nice. Polite. Cute. A little vulnerable.

He had NOT flirted with Doc Grey, or Logan, or John, or Cece or Tabitha-the-cow or Jubilee herself (Poot), who were all strong, independent types who didn't do the cute-and-vulnerable thing. Okay. Either he was a total me-big-man chauvanist pig... which couldn't be ruled out, but didn't seem like him... or he had some sorta thing about being in a relationship with someone who didn't have a vulnerability that he could get to. Which happened when someone had gotten hurt bad. They went looking for potential relationships with nice, obvious escape hatches.

Okay. So... he'd gotten hurt. She peeped at him again, and seemed to see a hint of sadness in the set of his mouth. Her heart melted alarmingly. It had never been his physical beauty that had attracted her - she tended to prefer brawny, muscular guys - but he was *fun*. They'd spent a lot of time together, making mischief and teaching each other tricks. (He'd taught her to pick pockets, she'd taught him some tricks of sleight-of-hand that even he'd never seen). And he didn't talk down to her because she was short and loud and chewed gum and wore tight shirts.

And geez, he smelled nice...

Jubilee sighed, and half-heartedly scribbled down a few notes. Okay. There HAD to be a way to get him to notice that she was a girl, and that she was very, very available, and that really, she was a much better choice than Mummy Girl. She just had to think about it. Hmm.

* * *


Remy looked up. Hey. Jubilee. He liked Jubilee. She was cute and brashly charming and he could pick her right up off the ground and let her little feet kick. He liked those qualities. "Yeah?"

She plopped down on the couch beside him, giving him a careful onceover with shrewd brown eyes. "You like it when people are honest, right?"

"Usually," Remy said warily. He wasn't really on intimate terms with personal honesty. He'd liked what he'd seen so far, and he thought he could get used to it, but he wasn't ready to make any sort of commitment.

"I mean in me." She gave him another one of those considering looks. "You like ME being honest."

"Oh. Yeah, I like that." He didn't bother to be French and charming at Jubilee. "It's one of my favourite things about you. That and the way you curse."

"Good." She propped her chin up on her hand. "I just thought that I'd mention that you're, like, very cute. Which is a thing I've noticed. Just thought I'd share that."

Remy stared at her.

"It's not like we have to stop being friends or anything. I just thought I'd tell you that I've noticed your butt, so I can stare at it without pretending not to." She gave him an engaging smile. "You can stare at mine if you like. I won't start expecting a proposal."

Remy continued to stare at her.

Jubilee waved a hand up and down in front of him. "Remy, stop looking so stricken. I'm not going to jump on you or anything. I just like to look. 'Cause you're cute. Okay?"

Remy blinked a bit, then nodded tentatively. "Well... okay, I guess. You look all you want." This was all coming as a shock, but it wasn't too bad. Jubilee liked his butt. She was going to look at it sometimes. He could handle that. She wasn't wildly in love with him, she wasn't wildly in lust with him, she just liked to look at someone who was aesthetically appealing without having to be sneaky about it. Which was actually a great idea. Yeah. He could go for this. "I get to look too?"

"Sure, whenever you want." She grinned at him. "So. Wanna go light Wolverine's pants on fire?"

Ah, things were all back to normal. Yay. "That's always fun."

* * *

Jubilee rested her ankle on the bench, and bent until her forehead touched her knee. "I'm still not sure about these new workout outfits."

"Well, they're scenic," Remy said doubtfully. Jubilee looked very, very good in the neck-to-toes black spandex. Better than most of her classmates, who might have big breasts and thin thighs, but didn't have any muscles to speak of. Jubilee had lots of muscle, and was as flexible as an eel. "But one little rip, and you'd be naked. That fabric's under a lot of stress."

"Exactly." Jubilee straightened up, and smiled at him. "Done warming up. Remy, thanks for spotting for me. Don't get many chances to work out properly any more."

"Any time." He smiled at her, glad that he'd opted for the loose tank top and sweatpants instead. On Jubilee, the outfit was attractive. On him... well, he'd feel insecure and exposed, to say the least. "I used to do gymnastics too."

"Really?" She smiled at him as they headed for the beam. "I love it. Could never have given it up - I didn't, even when I was out on the streets. You?"

"Moved on. Doing martial arts and stuff now." Still, he eyed the parallel bars fondly as they passed them.

"Yeah, well, anytime you need a spotter..." She smiled at him, and swung up onto the beam. "Okay. Let's see if you can keep up with me."

"Me? Keep up with you? Yeah, that's going to be a challenge." Remy grinned. "Could do it in my sleep."

"Oh, you think so?"

Forty minutes later, Remy conceded defeat. He'd been running from one end of the beam to the other the entire time, as Jubilee executed an alarming series of flips and leaps and so on that he'd been absolutely sure were about to crush her skull against beam or floor at any moment. And she kept not warning him when she was about to do a dismount. "Mercy!" he groaned, flopping onto the mats. "You got springs in those legs?"

"Nope," Jubilee said complacently, doing another perfect dismount and sliding down to sit crosslegged beside him. "No mutant agility or anything, either. Just natural skill."

"Then I bow t' your natural skill." Remy waved his hands vaguely. The girl was damn impressive. He HAD mutant agility, and she could probably just about keep up with him. "M' Guild would love you."

"Guild?" She gave him a surprised look.

Damn. He'd forgotten that only Xavier - and, he suspected, Wolverine - knew about his very shady past. "My family, mostly. Uhm... I'm not supposed to talk about it."

"Aha. That's where you got so good at thieving, I bet," Jubilee said, and grinned at his startled expression. "I know, I know. You can't talk about it. I won't push."

"Thanks." Remy stared up at the ceiling for a while, only half registering it when Jubilee started doing a series of slow stretches to keep herself warmed up. They were friends. Good friends. She was one of the best damn friends he'd ever had, and he realized with surprise that he trusted her. Enough to tell her about things he hadn't even mentioned to Xavier. "Jubes?"

"Mm?" She had one leg pointed up in the air, her knee resting alongside her ear and giving her an absurdly catlike look.

He sat up, looping his arms around his knees. "'F I tell you something, will you keep it a secret? From everyone?"

She straightened up, nodding. "Of course."

Remy looked down at his hands. "I belong to a... a Guild of Thieves. I was adopted into the LeBeau family - they pretty much run things - when I was a kid. There's another guild in N'Awlins, too. An Assassin's Guild. We are... were... hereditary enemies." He took a deep breath. "Until about eight months ago."

"Yeah?" Jubilee rested her chin on her knees and gave him an encouraging look.

"I...uhm... I'm married," Remy said softly. "To th' Assassin leader's daughter. But there was a fight at the wedding, and I got into a duel with her brother. And I killed him. So the alliance still stands, see, but I had t' leave. That's when m' Pere sent me here, for training. He figures I'll stay until the fuss dies down, then go back."

"Wow." Jubilee was silent for a while. That was unusual enough that Remy was getting a bit alarmed by the time she spoke again. "Did you want to? Get married, I mean."

"Did at the time." Remy shrugged, tracing invisible patterns on the mat between them. "Been crazy 'bout Belle for years."

Jubilee nodded. "I guess you really miss her, huh?" she said sympathetically, reaching over to touch his shoulder.

"I did," he said softly, suddenly aware of her fingers. They were calloused, a bit, and he could feel the uneven roughness oddly soothing against his skin. "We wrote to each other nearly every day, at first. But after a while it just... I d'no... seemed to fade out."

"Happens sometimes." She patted his shoulder once more, then drew her hand back. "I guess you've never been apart before, huh?"

He shook his head. "Not like this. We were never *supposed* to see each other, but we always did. Now... I haven't seen her in a long time, and I don' miss her much anymore. Goin' by the letters, she doesn't miss me much anymore, either."

"Oh." She uncurled, and leaned over to give him a quick, fierce hug. "I'm sorry," she said softly.

He returned the hug, resting his chin on her shoulder for a moment. "Thanks," he whispered. "Helped to talk about it."

"That's what friends are for," she said softly, leaning back and pushing a strand of his long hair out of his eyes. "Anytime you wanna talk, you let me know. About anything... Belladonna, dueling, whatever."

"'kay." He smiled at her, standing up and yanking her to her feet with casual ease. "So... still want a spotter on the bars?"

* * *

Jubilee melted happily into the couch-cushions. "Mmm... more of that..." she sighed blissfully. "Ohhhhhh, yeahhhhhh...."

Remy grinned, and kept massaging her foot. "You like this, huh?" he said teasingly, rubbing her toes with a calloused thumb.

"Mhmmmm..." Jubilee purred, a silly smile plastered firmly on her face. She didn't care. Oooh, that was niiiiice... "You could make money doing this..."

He chuckled, tweaking her pinky toe gently. "Probably. But I'll have you know I only do this for close, personal friends."

"Lucky me..." Jubilee made some more blissful noises. "Oooh, yeah, right there..." A startled noise made her sit up, and she met Kitty's startled eyes. "Hi..."

Kitty smiled, giving her a half-embarrassed, half-intrigued look. "If I look over the back of the couch, what will I see?"

Jubilee laughed. "Remy giving me a footrub." She swooned dramatically against the back of the couch. "This is, I kid you not, total *heaven*..."

Kitty gave her an envious look, slipping around to perch in one of the chairs. "What's on TV?" she asked, pointedly Not Caring that the sex-magnet she'd tried vainly to attract was massaging someone else's feet.

"I dunno... haven't been watching." Jubilee sighed again, making herself comfy as Remy switched feet. Oh, he was good at this... yes he was...

It was a shame about Belle. After their little heart to heart in the gym, she'd pretty much given up on any hopes for a relationship. Which wasn't to say that she wouldn't *like* one, just that she was a practical young woman, and knew that now really wasn't a good time. He might be more available later, and until then, she'd try not to think about it.

In the meantime....mmmm....

Remy grinned as Jubilee's eyes slid closed, blissful smile widening. There was nothing like a really good foot massage to relax a girl - something he'd taken shameless advantage of in the past - and even if he wasn't looking to get lucky, it was still something nice to do for a good friend.

Kitty was seething quietly as she pretended to watch TV, and Remy smothered a sigh. Sure, inspiring near-universal lust sounded good in theory, but in practice... He'd never even groped a single person at the school, male or female, but he already had a reputation as the campus Lothario. People looked at him and what did they see? Sex with feet, that's what. Not Remy LeBeau. Not even Gambit. Just a big neon sign saying 'Get Your Free Sex Here'.

Except Jubilee. He smiled a little at her toes, which were wriggling happily as he massaged her instep. Oh, Jubilee liked looking... and he *was* pretty to look at, he knew that... but she didn't make any assumptions about actually getting any of what she was looking at. It was purely aesthetic appreciation - well, mostly. They were both teenagers. It was hard to look at *daisies* platonically. But she treated him like a human being, not a walking, talking groin, and that was nice.

And... he smiled angelically at the sudden piercing shriek... her feet were incredibly ticklish.

* * *

Students weren't supposed to drink on campus.

That was a definite rule. Very strictly enforced.

Remy didn't care.

He took another swig of whiskey, only vaguely aware that his hands were shaking so hard that he spilled at least half the mouthful down his chin. Some of it got down his throat, though, and that was the important thing.

He managed to steady his hand enough to pick up a crumpled, stained piece of paper, smoothing it out against his knee so he could read it again, even though by now, he knew the words by heart. Half of them had been smudged out by drops of whiskey or salt water, he noticed vaguely, but what remained was clear enough.

'...meeting of the Guild Councils...'

'...forced to negotiate...'

'...truce too important to place at risk...'

'...Asassins demanding justice for...'

'...had no choice. You have been formally banished...'

'...permitted to live, provided you never return to New Orleans, or contact any member of either guild...'

'...tuition paid to Xavier, and funds in your private account, enough for a while...'

'...do not come back, not for any reason, for your own safety...'

Remy dropped his head to his knees, sobbing helplessly. He couldn't go home. He could never go home. He'd never see Papa again, or Tante Mattie, or Henri, or anyone, ever again, just because he hadn't let some idiot of a drunken Assassin murder him... they didn't want him back, they'd thrown him to the Assassins like a bone...

The sobs came harder now, shaking him like a leaf in a gale. Jean-Luc had promised, he'd *promised*, that day he'd taken a scrawny, terrified child into his home and family, that Remy would never be left alone again. That he would always be loved and wanted. And now he was being left alone again, and it wasn't fair, he was barely eighteen and it hadn't been his fault, he'd only been defending himself! They couldn't punish him for that!

But they could, and they were, and Remy was crying so hard that he couldn't see, couldn't think, with his nose running and his breath coming in wet, snivelling gasps as he tried to control the pain, tried to fight it back down under his shields and his facade of charming independence. He didn't need anybody. He was Gambit. He didn't need anybody. He would manage fine on his own.

Still shaking with uncontrollable sobs, he managed to crawl off the bed and stagger over to the dressing table, to get a handful of tissues and try to scrub some of the snot and tears off his face. But his hands were still shaking and he could see himself in the mirror and he turned his head away from the anguished mess that was his reflection.

He wanted Tante Mattie. He wanted to be held, and comforted, and told that everything would be all right, that he was still loved. Wanted to have his face dried off and his hair smoothed and to know that he mattered to someone, to anyone...

Somehow he was out of his room and down the hall, stumbling towards the identical hall on the other side of the building that housed the girl's dorm. He couldn't do this by himself, he couldn't stand it. And it was a tiny thread of comfort to know, even before he knocked on the door, even before Jubilee pulled it open, that she wouldn't turn him away.

She didn't, just took one look at him and hauled him into the room, closing the door behind him and then turning just in time to grab him as his knees gave out. He was too tall for her to hold up on her own, and somehow they ended up on their knees on the carpet, and finally there were arms around him, and his head was resting on a small shoulder, and he was babbling it all out, the letter and the pain and never going home again, never, and she was murmuring softly and stroking his hair as she rocked him gently. "Shhh..." she whispered. "Oh, god, Remy... I'm so sorry..."

"Not... not your fault," he gasped, knowing he was probably getting tears and snot all over her and too unhappy to care. "They don'... don' wan' me..."

"Then more fool them," she murmured, holding him close. "What happened wasn't your fault, any idiot could see that..."

At that, he just buried his face in her neck and howled.

It was a long time later that he stopped bawling, trailing off into the little hiccupping sobs that that come when someone is too tired to keep crying, and too tired to stop. Wearily, he let Jubilee get some tissues of her own and clean him up, and then tug him up to his feet just long enough to get him over to the bed and curl him up on it. "Thanks," he whispered.

"You're welcome," she said softly, sitting on the edge of the bed beside him and holding a glass of water to his lips.

He took a sip, trying to smile wryly, but knowing his face was so swollen by now that it probably just looked grotesque. "Sorry I made such a mess."

"Ah, what's a little snot on the neck between friends?" She smiled at him, a softer smile than the usual one, and brushed a strand of hair back off his forehead. "I'm always here for you, Rem, you know that."

"Yeah," he whispered, and the too-ready tears welled up again. "Thanks, Jubes. F'r treating me like a person... for being a friend..."

"Right back atcha," she murmured, putting the glass down on the bedside table and looking down at her hands.

"No, I mean it," he said, reaching out to touch her hand gently. "You... everyone else acts like I've g-got a big sign around my neck sayin' 'Free Sex Here, Come And Get It', but you..."

"Aw, hell," she said unexpectedly, rubbing a hand over her eyes. "Remy, I'm doing my best here but you're making it so damn hard..."

He blinked up at her, a baffled look on his blotchy, swollen, still beautiful face. "Wha?"

Jubilee sighed, and met his eyes, knowing she owed him no less. "I'm no different from everyone else," she said softly, letting herself touch his cheek. "I just hide it better."

He frowned at her, still looking puzzled. "But you don't... you've never..."

"Tried to seduce you? No, I haven't. But I'd have liked to." She bit her lip and smiled ruefully. "I just... you were so nice, and so much fun to be with, and you treated me like *I* was nice and fun to be with... It's a lethal combination." His eyes shuttered, and she hung her head a little. "I'm sorry... know my timing stinks..."

"You never said 'nything," he said softly, gazing at her with a heartbreakingly confused expression, as if he was wondering what else she'd been hiding from him.

"I knew you didn't feel like that, so what was the point?" Jubilee bit her lip harder, trying not to cry. "We're *friends*, Remy, we were friends before I even thought about anything else, and I didn't want to lose that. Especially after you told me about... about Belladonna and all that stuff. You needed me to be a friend, and you seriously did NOT need your emotional life to get any more screwed up, so I just... I cared too much about you to make things any harder, and we were still friends, I could be happy with that..." The tears overflowed, and she looked away from his searching eyes. "And I'm really sorry I'm telling you now, 'cause I know it's the last thing you need, but it just sort of came out..."

One slender, calloused hand appeared and cupped her chin, gently turning her face back so their eyes met. "You didn't want to make things harder for me?" he said softly, staring at her as if she was some sort of bizarre alien life form. "You didn't say anything about this because you thought it'd make things harder for me?"

"Well, it would!" she sniffed, hating that she was crying. He was going to think she was just another whiny chick who'd watched too many soap operas... "You and I both know that the absolute last thing you need right now is for your best bud to turn all mushy and dumb and-"

He kissed her.

It wasn't much of a kiss... they were both tired, and shaky, and tears did not make for passionate kisses at the best of times, but it still shocked and warmed Jubilee right to her curling toes.

Then, even more startling, he smiled softly at her. "That is, bar none, the most caring and unselfish thing anybody has ever done for me, you know that?"

She blinked at him, brain entirely derailed by the kiss. "What is?" she asked weakly.

He smiled, and touched her cheek gently. God, his hands were warm. "You not telling me," he explained patiently. "You didn't even do that really-obviously-pretending-there's-nothing-there-so-I'll-guess thing. You had... feelings for me, and I never even *suspected* it. Because you cared enough about me to know that I wouldn't be able to cope with that on top of everyone else treating me like a... a sex-object." He gave her another one of those entrancing smiles. "Wow."

"Wow's good..." Jubilee said dazedly. "Look, I wasn't trying to be all noble and self-sacrificing or anything, I just didn't wanna lose the friendship, and make things even more screwed up for you..."

"But you *were* being noble. For me. That's never happened before." He slid his arms around her and rested his head on her shoulder again, and her heart twanged painfully as she heard him sniffle a little bit. "I mean... you must really care," he whispered against her neck. "Or you would've let something slip..."

"I do really care," she murmured, wrapping her arms around him and savouring the feel of it. "I think I'm in love with you, to be completely honest. And I DO... well... lust after you. But it would've been totally selfish to try to act on it."

"And you *knew* that." He hugged her a little tighter. "You... nobody's ever cared enough about me to NOT say something..."

"Yeah, well... I did say something, didn't I? Just now?" She wasn't complaining about the hugging. No, she was not. She was praying fervently that it meant something, that somehow this situation would be resolved in a good way...

"But you tried really hard not to let me ever find out," he said softly, lifting his head and gazing into her eyes from very, very close. "That means a lot to me."

"Really?" Jubilee said weakly, brain derailing again. "How much?"

"Enough that I think I like the idea," he murmured, and kissed her again. This time the kiss was a lot longer, and a lot more involved.

A lot more involved.

A long time later, Remy heard a little voice piping an entirely incongruous little tune, and he chuckled, making her head bounce on his chest. "Are you singing?" he asked, stroking her hair gently. "And isn't that song from 'The Sound Of Music'?"

"Mhm..." she murmured sleepily. "You know th' one... 'Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle a happy tune, so no-one will suspect...'"

"I know th' one." He kissed the top of her head. "Why're you singing it now?"

"'cause that's what I've been doing. Whistling a happy tune so you wouldn't suspect." She snuggled a little closer, silky black hair spreading over his shoulder. "You realize we're seriously going to get into trouble for this."

"Don' care." He yawned a bit, holding her very close. "We'll plead extenuating circumstances."

"Yeah." She closed her eyes, feeling sleep getting ready to pounce. "Do you feel better now?"

"I do." Not great, yet, but better. And far less alone. He smiled, closing his own eyes. "Sleep well, ma chere."

"Will. You too." She yawned. "And get those bloody icy feet off my leg, before I murder you."

"Thought you loved me."

"Not that much."