Title: Meet the Family
Rating: PG for language
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Marvel Comics. No profit
has been made from their use.
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
"Jubilee! Honey, how are you?" She listened intently while her husband's
arms went around her and 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 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 'umm-ed' and gave him a thoughtful look. "They've been dating for
"Ho-boy. 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."
"We all were. I've actually missed some of the antics she and Bobby got
into. 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 attempting 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
"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, gotta 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 wood
"Well, we - as mutants - are a minority," offered Hank. "We shouldn't be
surprised that our Jubilee would marry outside her immediate genetic
"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
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 lips 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 in his
throat. He was saved from having to respond by Jean's interruption,
offering to show the two to their rooms, and ignored the tiny leap of
relief in his chest when he realized the couple would not be sharing a
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
"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
"Like how much have you told him?" Trust Storm to cut to the heart of the
"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 cruiser tactics."
"How'd he take the news that y'ere a mutant?"
"Pretty well, once his jaw finally shut. Okay, 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
"Yeah.. I really think I do." (That was enthusiastic, she thought to
herself.) Lightly, she added, "He's wonderful, he's not anti-mutant, and
he's a dreamboat. What else could a girl want?"
Bobby and Hayden were both fans of the same 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.
Gambit and Wolverine were standing outside the French doors, 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 question. 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 a kid
into the emergency room where I was interning at - 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
to those of us who know her."
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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 rang through
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
"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 uneasy thoughts as he'd taught
her, she instead constructed a wordless message and deliberately lowered
her mental defenses.
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,
Xavier gazed at her with understanding, then wheeled himself down the hall.
Jubilee however suddenly lost her nerve, did an about face, and went to
the bathroom instead. The cold water on her face helped immensely, and
after several moments of a long stare at herself in the mirror, Jubilee
once more joined 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
God 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
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 protégé 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
Jubilee put her head on the warm chest of her fiancée' 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
"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.
You'll be a doctor's wife, and my mother will drag you into all her
"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,
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 maybe she'd leave out the missions that
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."
"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
"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 that 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 can't imagine
Jubilee as a Mom.
"Well, hey, with your beauty and my brains." he joked.
She refused to be put off. "You know what I mean. What if they're
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
Jubilee's hand shot out and touched his chest. "Excuse me. Did you say
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! 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 as in her mind, the corset of
conformity suddenly became a straightjacket. It was an unfortunate mental
association with the time she'd been confined to a 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
"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
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." But from the look in the
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 how we got to this place.
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 just 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."
"Mother and the others are a little old fashioned, know, but they don't
have to know about your mutation, or about these people."
"They're 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 and tried to scuttle backwards as she straddled his prone legs and
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!"
"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!"
"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."
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?"
She walked through the damp grass to the terrace and spent a moment looking
up at her friends - her family. They all beamed proudly at her. She put
her hands on her hips and smiled fondly back. 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?
"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
"Yes, I believe it is, Jubilee."
"Then 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 as bald older man winked at her and
projected an image to her. The fairy tale castle in flames, the peasants
dancing on the green and singing rude French songs, made her laugh in utter
surprise and delight.
Gambit gave her a hand up over the edge of the railing and spun her in a
hug. Several others did the same, except for Logan, lounging against the
stone wall. She 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."