Illyana's Waltz

by Jeanne M.

Summary: Even though she's gone, she still calls the tune. This is a look at how some of the people who were closest to her are still coping with her loss. This is Illyana's waltz.

Legal junk: All these characters belong to Marvel Comics, I'm just borrowing them for fun, and I promise to return them unharmed and good as new once I've finished with the story. I'm not making any money off this story, unless someone from a comic company reads it and is so impressed that they decide to hire me to write stories for them. But since Vegas odds are against it, I'm not any making money. For all purposes, Jubilee is 17!!! I don't buy that crap Marvel handed us about her only being 13 when she joined Gen X. Besides, we've seen how many Christmas specials? This takes place just before the Gen. X/X-Man crossover. Other than that, here's the story...............

Type: Dramatic

Rating: PG

**denotes telepathic conversation**

<<spoken in Russian>>

......But her songs play on after her, and the universe listens.......

"Where is she?" Emma Frost's voice was smooth as ice as surveyed her student body with mounting displeasure. "I'm only going to ask you nicely one more time. Where is Jubilation Lee?" Six guileless faces and silence echoed her. As much as they respected the formidable White Queen, the students of the Massachusets Academy feared the wrath of their erstwhile senior classmate more. Jubilee's instructions upon her departure last night had been quite clear on the fact that anyone who finked her out on this one was going to wish that they had never been born.

**Sean, if they don't spill in twenty seconds, I'm ripping her location from their deceptive little heads!!** Emma's telepathic voice burst into his thoughts with the force of a hurricane.

**Give them a chance to answer ye lass.** Banshee surveyed his student body expectantly. Nothing but silence. **Um, maybe we went over that unit on team loyalty a little too well, eh?**

**This is no laughing matter Cassidy! Jubilee gets into more trouble on a regular basis than the rest of our students combined! Her social worker is coming tomorrow, what are we supposed to tell her if Jubilee isn't back by then? She cannot just take off on these jaunts of hers whenever she feels like it, the girl is getting as bad as your friend Wolverine!** Emma turned her icy glare toward him. **I don't know what you people let her get away with during her tenure with the X-Men, but this is my school, with my rules. She will be here. In her own room. By tonight. Or the others are going to share whatever punishment she gets!**

**Let me try before ye go an' do anything drastic now.** he turned away from Emma to look at the children, who had been shifting uneasily in their seats during the entire telepathic exchange.

"Tis important we know where ye students are at all times. Now, what is somethin's happened tae the wee lass? Miss Frost and I are responsible fer Jubilee, seein' as how she's got no one else. Where is she?" Sean Cassidy turned what Moria had deemed his "Wee Kicked Puppy-Dog Look" on full effect.

Where Emma's intimidation had failed, Sean's guilt trip worked.

"She said something about a friend and how lonely the kid must be. She also babbled something about egotistical adults and giri or gari or something!" Gaia clamped both hands over her mouth in shock as her teammates glared at her. She hadn't meant to say it aloud! What had happened? She had been picking up the empathic backlash of Emma and Sean's conversation and thinking about how upset Jubilee had been last night when she left. Then she felt Emma and Sean break their telepathic connection to have Miss Frost turn her glare on her........

"Miss Frost, I believe that in the future, Gaia would like you to stay out of her head. A common telepathic courtesy." Monet St. Croix's voice cut smoothly through the silence as Gaia colored in anger. A mental probe! Frost had triggered her outburst!

"Monet, when it comes to any of my student's safety, screw courtesy. We need to find Miss Lee as quickly as possible." Adrienne Frost stepped out of the shadows to everyone's surprise. "Suit up kids. You're going to go track down your errant friend, or I let Emma pick the punishment. I want her found ten minuets ago. Move out!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"One more smart ass comment about Pete Wilson, and I'm going to make that person hurt, a lot! Do I make myself clear?!?" Katherine Pryde stormed out the of the Danger Room, leaving her X-Men compatriots stunned.

"Watch yer mouth Marrow, or ya ain't gonna be able ta use it." Wolverine moved towards her menacingly, but the girl was unimpressed.

"What's the big deal, old man? All I did was ask her who this boyfriend was that everyone talks about so hush-hush like." And hope maybe I could get the pretty-kitty to spill some guts on how I can talk to Sam, she added silently. She looked around the room. "Well, are we training or what?"

"Well, we are now missing both Peter and Shadowcat, so I believe that the point of group training would be pointless today. Next time Sarah, use some tact." Storm sighed. "Go clean-up, everyone."

"Storm, where is Peter? Ah haven't seen him all day!"

"Chere, ya remember what today is, non?" Remy lit his cigarette as Storm glared at him. "It's not something a man forgets."

Rouge covered her mouth. "Mah God! Ah cain't believe ah didn't remember! No wonder he's been so moody lately! Guess that explains why Shadowcat's so touchy, too."

"You name me a time when Pete doesn't brood, Rouge. That boy's gettin' almost as bad as Cyke." Logan lit up a cigar, only to be suddenly doused by a tiny raincloud.

Ororo Munroe smiled. "Not in the Danger Room, old friend. You put out yours too, Remy."

" 'Ro, ya never give up, do ya?"

"Not as long as you continue to contaminate the rest of us with that foul reek! Just because you have a healing factor Logan, doesn't mean the rest of us should suffer!" Her smile faded as she turned towards the exit, "Logan, may I have a word with you?"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It's sunny. The sun shouldn't be shining. Peter Rasputin tilted his head up to the sky and sighed. If he didn't know any better, he'd say Storm did this on purpose. Shaking his head, Peter moved off through the trees. Still, he reasoned, the sun shouldn't be shining.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jubilation Lee jumped off the back of the pickup and waved. It had taken her almost all night to find someone willing to pick up a hitchhiker. "Shoulda called Wolvie ta come get me, woulda been faster." she griped. Damn state laws against hitchhikers. How else was a kid supposed ta get from one state to another? As the truck rumbled away, she turned towards the winding driveway and grinned as she adjusted her backpack. Well, not much farther now. "You call kid, I answer." Jubliee yelled to the empty air as she started off down the drive. "Ya know, Frostie is gonna blow a brain cell. Ya 'd think that I didn't know how ta take care a myself or somethin'! First star ta the left, an' straight on 'till morning, right kid?" Jubilee paused, as if listening for a response, then shrugged and continued on her way.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Kitty Pryde shot out of the ground like a fury, hovering a moment before settling back to the ground and becoming solid. She glanced around and allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction, she had angled the trajectory almost perfectly and was only twenty feet from her destination. Lockheed stuck his head out of her backpack, squawking his concern. Kitty had been not herself lately, and he was getting perturbed.

"Calm down." Kitty lifted Lockheed out of her pack, and the purple dragon settled on her shoulder. "See? That's not so bad, is it?" She rubbed his head affectionately, and almost walked right into Peter Rasputin.

Kitty phased, ghosting right through him. She phased through the next few trees for benefit before she went solid, silently trailing him.

"I shoulda known he'd be moping around here somewhere." She murmured to Lockheed.

The dragon just looked at Peter, and did his equivalent of a sigh. Humans, what sad creatures sometimes. He, on the other hand, was always fun to be around. Suddenly, Lockheed's ears pricked. Oh boy, something fun was going to happen now! He liked Kitty, and he liked fun. Lockheed grinned.

The wind shifted, and Kitty was suddenly aware that she, Lockheed, and Peter, weren't alone. "Shit." Kitty leaped into a tree, peering around for a sign of their unwanted intruder. She didn't want to disturb Peter, but.......... "Days like this make me wish I had Logan's senses." She whispered softly. All that Kitty could see were the stone markers, trees, and Peter, who had just stopped and was standing rigidly. Kitty's eyes narrowed as she scanned the area closest to him as her hand slipped to one of her throwing knives. If Peter had stopped, then he knew someone was here also. Then, she heard it.

<<Then Red Riding Hood took the big bad dog, no, wolf, I mean wolf. Not dog. And, giving a yell, threw him over her, um, shoulder. Yeah, that's how you say it. I think. Maybe. She threw him over her shoulder and then disabled him in three blows, and was back at the mall in time for the sale at Daytons. The end.>>

Katherine Pryde truly smiled for the first time in days. She knew that broken Russian, and the voice. Not to mention that only one person would butcher a story like that. Shadowcat slipped out of the tree, coming up behind Peter. She purposely stepped on a branch, and he whirled around, becoming a tower of steel. Kitty frowned and shook her head. "Shhh!"

"Katya! What are you doing here?"

"Same as you! I take it you noticed our guest too?"

"I take the left, you take the right."

Kitty sighed. "Peter, no. Come on." She grabbed his hand, dragging him behind the trees. "Shhh! Be as quiet as possible!"

"What is going on here Katya? Who is that?" Peter pulled back, shifting back to his organic form. <<Who else is on the grounds!?!>>

<<A friend, you oversized Ruskie. Now come on! I'll show you!>> Silently, the two slipped around the clearing. When they emerged on the other side, Peter didn't know if he should cry or smile.

Jubilee sat on the grass with a big picnic basket beside her. Sitting atop the basket was a very blue, fuzzy looking doll, a Russian translation book, and a photo of a little blond girl. There were fairy tale books strewn everywhere, and Jubilee leaned back against the headstone. <<What do ya want ta hear next? You pick, I've got all day. Well, actually I've only got until Emma pulls my travel plans out of the nearest head, but that's close enough.>> she dived for the picnic basket, managing to extract a small pint of Ben&Jerry's and a handful of pictures without upsetting anything. <<Man, Russian is hard! I had an easier time learning Shi'ar! You better 'preciate this 'Yana! I'm gonna get grounded, I have no ride home, and I'm almost out of stories to tell. Wait, no I've got one story left. You even play a part in it. Let me tell you about this bad dude named Bastian......>>

Peter started toward her, but Kitty squeezed his hand and motioned him to move farther back into the forest, away from Jubilee. <<No Peter, not now. Let her finish what she started. Jubilee is a long way from Massachusetts, and she obviously went through a lot to get here. I suggest we disappear for a time, let her deal with her own ghosts.>>

He looked down at Kitty in surprise. There were tears in her eyes and she looked so small standing there hugging herself. She was smiling, but was so sad it almost made his heart break in half. Almost. "Katya, are you going to able to deal with your, our, ghosts also?"

"Dunno. I came out here thinking maybe I could use this time to sort out my head, get a handle on things, only to find that a sixteen-year-old girl with waaay more problems than me is sitting here taking control of her life back and succeeding. I was just going to sit here and cry." Kitty sniffed, turned, and wiped her tears away. "That poor kid was psionically raped Peter! There's no nice way to say it! She was beaten, starved, and had her soul ripped apart for a madman's game, and she's coping with it better than I'm coping with my love life!" Kitty turned back, her eyes were brittle as she looked at him. "And I'm supposed to be the adult."

"Katya, no." Peter didn't know what to say. He wanted to hug her, tell it wouldn't go away, but that it would get better. He understood what she was feeling, he'd gone through it enough these past few weeks after Excalibur had disbanded. But he couldn't touch her without the past getting in the way and messing everything up again. "Katya, you're only a few years older than she is physically, but I doubt Jubilation was ever a child. If she was, it was so long ago that even she doesn't remember it."

"That doesn't matter!!! The fact is that we, the X-Men, were the entire reason she had her soul stolen from her!!! Everything she's gone through is our fault!! And here she is, sitting at Illyana's grave, paying a visit to the one person who never let her down. And we've never even said 'thank you' to her." Kitty glanced back towards where Jubilee sat, and moved deeper into the forest. "None of the others have said 'boo' to her since OZT. Did you see all the fresh flowers when you came in? I did. We go off and save the world, ignoring how much she's gone through, and she brings flowers to honor our dead. Our fallen. These are our friends Peter! She doesn't even know most of them! We've failed her just as much as we failed Doug Ramsey, John Proudstar, and all the others."

"If ya gonna run yer mouth off Pryde, at least get the facts right."

Lockheed chirped loudly and leaped off Kitty's shoulder. Peter and Kitty turned, shocked to find Jubilee standing behind them with Lockheed settling on her head, cooing happily.

"How did you know we were here?"

"Yer not the only stray Wolvie's picked up in his day Kat, although obviously yer not as smart as he makes ya out to be." Jubilee shook her head in disgust as she removed the dragon and set him down. "I knew Pete was here the moment I entered the cemetery. An' you're projecting anger somethin' fierce." She shrugged, "Ya hang with telepaths, ya pick stuff up. First among them is how to lock-up everything in your head. With most 'paths, all ya have ta do is put up a 'No Trespassing' sign, and they stay out. Bastian, on the other hand, stomped right through my barriers an' got to me usin' my feelings. It ain't yer fault I'm emotionally unstable."

"But, but...."

"I said shove it!!!!!" Jubilee whirled on Kitty, directing all her fury towards the older girl. "Don't you get it? I was Bastian's best bet 'cause I ain't a telepath who could block his sorry-ass intrusions, and 'cause I bottle it all up. I don't tell no one nothin' about me or my feelings, and that was his key. I got all this pain an' hurt locked up in me; all Bastian needed was for it to spill out, and poof. I let down everyone I ever cared about. Me. My fault, not yours. Never yours. An' if ya can't get a handle what yer feeling, yer a prime target for the next Bastian to wander through. And trust me, there will be another." Jubilee's head dropped and she hugged herself tightly, "There's always another."


"Excuse me?" Both girls looked at Peter, who was watching Jubilee.

"Why did you come here? I am here because Illyana is my sister and I love her. Katya was Illyana's best friend. Why did you come?"

"Peter!" Kitty was stunned. What had gotten into him?

"I liked Illyana. She was a kid, a sweet little kid that had a shitload of crap dumped on her. I guess she kinda reminded me of, well, me. We were both in over our heads in stuff that we really didn't understand, and I guess that we just kinda bonded. So we didn't speak the same language. Big dup. It's a girl thing. Ya got a problem with that?" Jubilee's head snapped up and she glared at the towering man. "I knew that the rest of you would be too busy up at the big house to come talk to her, so I did. I guess that's another thing 'Yana and I have in common," Her eyes shot sparks at the two alarmed X-Men, "We're real easy for you guys to forget about."

Kitty stared at Jubilee, for a moment speechless. Where the hell did she get off saying that? "Jubilee, I don't understand where all this is coming from! You were there with me when Illyana died! You know how much I cared about her, how can you say that?!"

"Because it's the truth!" Tears welled up behind Jubilee's eyes that refused to fall. "Honor. Duty. Obligation. Responsibility. Before I met you guys, those were just fancy words that ya heard at the movies. In my world, ya grabbed what ya could an' held on for the ride. Maybe the cops would catch ya, maybe they wouldn't. Ya could wake up one day in Juvie Hall, and the next in a boxcar headed for New York. Nothin' lasted, hell, nothin' was meant to last. Then I came through Gateway's portal an' my life changed forever. Before I met you guys? I didn't have a care in the world besides my next meal, an' most of the time I didn't even care about that. Logan taught me that there was more to life than hiding in the shadows. He told me that I could be someone, do something great, not just be another teen statistic on someone's list. I learned that teammates watched your back no matter what, friends should be forever, and that honor meant more than cash."

She sighed, and Peter thought her voiced sounded like a great warrior who had admitted defeat. He wanted to hug this small girl who cared about Illyana so much, but she wasn't a little girl. Not really. Jubilation. Right now her name seemed so ironic. Peter curled his hands into fists, it was all happening again. First with his little snowflake, and now with this girl. People who harmed children should be shot.

"Giri. The loose Japanese translation is an owed obligation. Maybe I never fought beside Illyana in the battles that you did, and so what if I never knew her the way you two did, but we were teammates in our own way, and I've got to watch her back. She's not really gone, ya know." Jubilee spread her arms out and threw her head back, slowly twirling in circles. "She's here. Can't you feel her? Ramsey an' Proudstar an' Warlock an' Revanche an' all the others, they're here too. Helping us, whispering to us so softly." She began to spin faster and faster, never missing a beat. "I know what yer thinkin', poor little Jubilee's finally snapped. Now she's hearin' voices. But I don't care what the almighty Prof. says. No one can ever completely leave their past behind. It comes along for the ride, whether you like it or not. And our ghosts carry lessons that we can always hear, if we just listen. 'Cause once in awhile......" She stopped and looked at the two of them, " ......we all fall down, and all it takes is a hand back up from a friend. That's the lesson Illyana taught me, an' I coulda sworn you'd know that too."

"They know darlin', sometimes they just need remindin' every once in awhile." Logan lit a cigar while Ororo looked at him with distaste. "Figured we'd come out an' make sure everything was okay."

Jubilee's face crinkled up. "Hey Wolvie, Storm. I was wondering when you two would join the party. Frostbite called you, didn't she?"

"Actually Jubilation, it was Sean. Miss Frost is very upset that you left without telling her. Apparently your entire team is out searching for you, but Sean had the foresight to call and see if you were with us. 'A friend in need?' Could you have made your travel plans anymore vague?" A smile hinted at the corner of Ororo's mouth, and Jubilee broke into a grin.

"Yeah probably, but look at it this way- it's a surprise training drill. Find-Jubilee-She's-Missing-Again-And-Her-Social-Worker-Is-Coming is one of Generation X's best exercises. I make a broad statement, threaten bodily harm, and see how long it takes people to find me. Think of it as a critical thinking type of deal." She winked at Logan. "Took 'em two weeks that time you an' me skipped off to Madripoor."

Storm laughed softly. "Are you ready for the lecture?"

"Hit me."

"You pull this again, and I will personally see that you do not get into anymore trouble. Do you understand me Jubilation Lee?"

"Yup. I take off again, you yell, and I have to come live in the big house with the rest of you nut cases until I learn the discipline that I'm so obviously lacking. I like the way yer mind works boss-lady. That way I get out of Frostie's hair and you can keep an eye on me."

"That ain't what she said, half-pint."

"Nope, Stormy's smooth like that. But I get the gist."

"My name is not Stormy. How would you like it if I called you Jubilation all the time?"

"Ya do anyway."

Logan laughed and tapped his cigar. "Give it up 'Ro, the kid's as bullheaded as me." A tiny rain cloud appeared over him and doused his smoke. "How many times am I going to get soaked today? It's out, it's out! Turn off the water!" He yelled.

"Now, I'm the last one ta ever break up a party, but seeing as how the longer I'm gone, the harder Adrienne and Emma come down on me, and I may never see daylight again- the last one to the Jeep has to explain this to my headmasters! Go!"

Peter smiled to himself as they all took off towards Logan's Jeep. He had been wrong- the sun had every reason to shine today. Thank you, little snowflake, he thought silently, I think I needed to be reminded........


............Non Omnis Moriar............


Author's Note: I can't honestly say "The End", because it isn't. Does Jubilee get grounded? Why does her social worker want to see her? Will Kitty and Peter ever wise up? I don't know, but I'm sure you can come up with your own theories, let's just hope that it all ends happily ever after. Send me feedback! Did you like it? Did you hate it? Tell all at [email protected]