Title: Lonely Child
Disclaimers: None of the characters belong to me with the exception of Lila. All others are the property of Marvel INC. There, I said it, so don't sue.
It was there again, the heart beat. It wouldn't go away, no matter how many times she watched the walls and practiced the meditations that were supposed to help. Nothing helped. Didn't they understand that? No matter how many times she told them it didn't they insisted that it would, if only she would let it. Right. Just like when mom told her that there weren't really monsters under the bed to help her sleep at night. But Mom had been wrong too, and the monsters were real.
'Shut up shut up shut up,' she chanted, thinking of songs, poems, even the weird sayings that the professor spouted off sometimes when he thought no one was really listening to him. Over it all she could still hear it, same volume, same pitch. Slowly driving her mad. Doctors sometimes told mothers to place clocks in their babies rooms or cribs to help them sleep, because it sounded slightly like the heartbeat that they had become used to over the past nine months. This however, was different. It wasn't comforting. It wasn't meant to be comforting.
Turning over onto her side, Jubilee looked at the clock. 3am, too early to claim that she simply couldn't stay in bed any longer. Tick…tick…tick…
'Stop it, stop it, its just in your head, that's all it is just in your head, tomorrow you can talk to the professor and maybe this time he will listen when you tell him that its not working…'
Lies, empty words that she told herself every night for the past week. It would always be tomorrow, because today was too painful, too surreal for her to say anything just yet, and the ticking continued to plague her night after night.
*Just something to keep you company* he had said with that odd smile that really wasn't a smile. Before leaving her that first time, broken and bloody in a cell with no walls, nothing but sheer whiteness, unbroken, cold. The ticking had come from everywhere, swallowing the silence that she could let hold her, keep her sane. Just another trick to break down her defenses, to make her want to tell him what she knew. Another nail in her coffin, she had thought, laying on the cold floor, letting the ticking wash over her, telling herself she could ignore it, she would ignore it.
Then days had stretched into weeks, and then months, and still it continued, never stopping. She could hear it when they were 'questioning' her, hear it when they dragged her kicking and screaming from the cell, hear it when she finally let exhaustion take over. Constant… always there…
Throwing off the thin sheet that she had tossed over herself, Jubilee rose and looked out the window. When she had been rescued she insisted that she stay at the mansion, that she would feel better there. It was more of a home to her after all, wasn't it? A place where she had finally found another family to take the place of the one that had been stolen from her all those years ago. A sanctuary. Funny how someone can be so wrong. Every wall she saw, every person she talked to reminded her of the person she had been and would never be again. Someone who had died with a strangers hands on her, choking her, ripping away what she had always thought hers to give.
Rape. Such a small simple word to stand for something so vile. Those had been her thoughts when he had finally left her. How could it possibly contain all the hate, the anger, the since of nothingness that had engulfed her? An unassuming word for an unassuming crime.
When they found her she tried to pretend that it hadn't happened, that she had been rescued in time. Wolverine had smelled them on her, a small trace of a scent, but she had thanked whatever god still listened to her prayers that they had decided to bath her that morning, even as she dreaded what they needed her clean for. Then the questions. Hank in his odd way trying to be as neutral as possible, hiding his feelings behind the cool doctors exterior. The professor and Jean trying to help, sending her positive emotions, telling her that she was safe. She had turned away their gentle probes, the machine that Bastion had used on her gave her an immunity to low level probes, they said, both trying hard to keep the worry out of their voices. 'I'm alright, alright, Ill be okay', it had become her mantra, her guardian, and for a while, they had believed her.
Until that morning.
The professor had found her in the kitchen, curled up in a tight ball, tears mingling with the blood that pooled around her. She had screamed when he touched her, trying to get away, confusing the moment with another one that had played and replayed in her mind for weeks. In that moment all her defenses were down and he had seen everything, knew everything, even the things she'd tried to keep from herself. She could hear his mental cry of alarm, felt his arms as he lifted her (funny how she never realized exactly how strong he was) and headed for the Medlab, telling Beast he was on his way and giving a diagnosis. Vaguely she remembered seeing somewhere in his office a metal for bravery in combat during the Korean War. She meant to ask him about it a thousand times, but it never seemed to be the right moment. She wondered how many times he had done this.
And he hadn't even minded the blood.
All the way there he kept telling her she would be all right, calming her cries, telepathically reducing her pain, even though doing so was costing him greatly. She'd looked up, seeing the pain written in his face, watched the tears that slid down his cheeks, dropping onto her head. Knowing that they were for her, not the headaches that seemed to tear him apart whenever he tried to use his powers.
Never saw him cry before either.
Then nothing. Waking up clean, the smell of the blood gone, an IV in her arm. And she'd panicked. Sparklers, firecrackers, they were all that she had, but they proved enough. Damaged equipment flew everywhere, she heard voices, Jeans frantic mental urgings, telling her that she was safe, that everything was alright, but she was beyond that, and only a telepathic bolt had stopped her powers. The next time she opened her eyes the faint beep of a genoshan collar sounded in her ears. A worried and haggard looking Logan sitting by her bed, holding her hand. And in that moment she realized they knew, and nothing would be the same again.
And that nothing would be okay again.
Don't slink away yet little girl
'No no no no no this is not happening this is not happening…'
You sure this stuff is supposed to work, man? She looks sick…
A snort, Yeah, head guy gives it to her all the time, makes her more agreeable, besides we wouldn't even need it if Pete weren't so squeamish…
'Why are you doing this I'm a person would you want someone to do this to your sister your mother why can't you see that…'
This isn't right man, she's just a kid, cant be more than seventeen, Bastion'll kill us if something happens to her…
'Hate them hate them hate them too much of cowards to do anything hope he does kill you…'
What? Afraid he'll fire you for messing with his piece of patch? Long as we don't kill her…
'God get off me get off me this is not happening you hear me this is all just a dream and you'll wake up and everything will be alright and Wolvie will be there you'll see…'
"…Jubilee…wake up…its okay…no one here will hurt you…"
Slowly the entreaty broke through the haze of the nightmare. Pain, it was the first thing Jubilee noticed when she stopped floating somewhere above the rest of her body. Pain…and an odd emptiness that she couldn't place.
"Professor?" her voice was hoarse, throat scratchy and sore. Before she could say anything a glass of water was being placed to her lips. Slowly, she sipped it, watching him warily, cursing the fear that she felt coursing through her. He would never hurt her, she knew it, but she couldn't stop the tremor that went through her.
"How are you feeling, Jubilee?" The voice was soft, soothing, comforting. Turning, she saw a swath of red hair as Jean leaned over her, felt a cool hand encompass her own.
"Tired," she answered, then looked around, "Where's Wolvie?"
"Resting," Charles answered his voice the same tone as Jeans, "He was up for almost three days straight."
Jubilee was puzzled. What would make Logan stay up that long, unless Jean was parading in her underwear for the duration, she couldn't think of anything else. The man caught a nap anytime he could get away with it. "What for?"
She watched with a feeling of dread as a look passed between the two people. Someone else might have missed it, but living with the two telepaths for years gave her an advantage. It was one of those what-are-we-going-to-say-now-looks.
At that moment several things became clear. One of which being that she was in the infirmary, not her own room, and she was in a hospital gown. Second, there was an IV that attached to what looked like two different solutions, both dripping steadily, along with a heart monitor. Something must have happened to her, something she couldn't remember.
Desperately she searched her memory, trying to find out what was wrong. She remembered waking up that morning, cramps practically killing her. She'd grimaced when she saw the small smattering of blood on her sheets, a sign that her period was early. 'Should be lucky it came at all, girl" she remembered thinking as she slipped a pad on. Walking into the kitchen looking for the industrial sized Tylenol that was always in the cabinet. Then the pain, so sharp it brought her to her knees, unable to even scream, the wetness that seemed to flow from her…then nothing. Waking up somewhere, panicking, then nothing again.
"What happened?" The words were little more than a whisper, almost lost in the methodic whir of the machines she was hooked to.
"You had a miscarriage," Jean said, her voice still conveying that sense of ease that seemed to permeate Jubilee's bones. "Charles found you in the kitchen almost four days ago."
Jubilee barely heard the rest of the explanation. Miscarriage. Something had been alive inside her, and now it was gone. Was that were this sense of emptiness came from, the loss? Joy and anger raced through her for a moment. Anger that her child was dead before it could even live. And joy, joy because she would never have to wonder who the father was, never have to deal with all the pain that went with bearing and rearing a child from such circumstances. Then nothing, almost as if her emotions decided to shut themselves down.
"Wolvie was with me the whole time?" she asked, her voice hushed and hollow.
She heard the professor sigh, "Yes, he finally fell asleep at the foot of your bed. Hank moved him though. He should be back soon."
She nodded her head, suddenly very tired. "Sleepy," she muttered, settling herself further into the covers. In moments she was asleep.
Charles watched his youngest student for a moment before turning and leaving the room, questions forming in his mind. Jean followed him when she saw Hank pass by, ready to take up his shift and look after the sleeping girl.
" The things people do to children," Charles murmured as he entered his study, Jean following close. "What kind of creatures would be so cruel to a little girl?"
Jean said nothing, sitting in one of the chairs, collecting her thoughts. Like the professor, she had heard Jubilee's dream, watched in horror, unable to change the past. And like him she didn't know the answer to that question.
"How do you think she will take all of this?" Jean asked finally, pushing her long red hair away from her face.
Charles rubbed the bridge of his nose, " I honestly don't know. Jubilee has lived a rather unusual life. An extraordinarily difficult one to be blunt. In the face of her other trials I hope she can do as she always does and takes it in stride." The words sounded cold, even to his ears. In truth, he didn't know how she would respond to this. Not knowing the answer frightened him, for he had seen, in his time as a psychologist, too many young women in the same position, lost, helpless. He knew the classic reactions, ran them through his mind, and prayed that she would be different.
Jeans eyes narrowed slightly at his words, "Take it in stride? She's a seventeen-year-old girl who has been repeatedly raped and is now lying in the Medlab recovering from a miscarriage! What the hell do you mean take it in stride?" She felt her temper rising, but did nothing to stem it. His words were cold, unfeeling. Her temper fled though, when she saw the look in his eyes. They were old, much older than the rest of his face, and extraordinarily sad, even afraid.
"I can tell you what to expect, but I don't know if it applies to Jubilee. I just hope this isn't the straw that breaks her back."
Jean only nodded in agreement before rising. "I better get back. She might panic again if the only one there when she wakes up is Hank."
After she left, Charles floated to his desk, carefully putting away the neglected papers there, making a mental note to himself that they needed to be finished. When his desk was clear he rested his elbows on the smooth oak and cradled his head in his hands.
Damn it, damn it, damn it! He should have known something was wrong beyond what she was telling them. He was suspicious when she declined an examination by Hank, even when going outside their circle for a doctor was suggested. He simply didn't want to know, because then it would make it too real for him. He recalled the moment he steered himself into the kitchen, shivering slightly at the emotions that he'd felt from the room. He couldn't place them, but everything fell into place when he saw her lying there, blood pooling around her.
'My fault, all my fault.' No matter what he had told himself over the past four days, he knew that the cause of the situation lay with him. Bastion would not have wanted Jubilee if he had been more forth coming with the information the man wanted when he was being questioned. Valerie Cooper had prevented the questioning from going too far, and Charles had shuddered when he remembered what theY called 'proper' encouragement. Then the attack, finding Jubilee gone. The frantic search that ensued that seemed to drag on for weeks before the location of the hulkbuster base was discovered.
He'd been relieved when they radioed in, saying they had found Jubilee and was bringing her home. What he saw was a thin, pale, broken image of a girl who was once so full of life that she couldn't sit still. The Shi'ar technology had healed the worst of her wounds, but he saw, everytime he looked at her, that the scars in her mind would never heal.
Then there were the sessions. She had insisted that she was recovering all right on her own, and didn't need anyone ' waltzing around my brain,' as she had said. So instead of psyche counseling, he allowed her to free talk, from anything as mundane as the weather to why it had taken so long to find her. At first the sessions were empty, she sitting in her chair staring out one of the many bay windows of his office, responding in monosyllabic flat tones when he asked her a question. Then, slowly, she began to let him in, telling him odd pieces of information here and there, letting him know that he was helping. Through her he learned of the machinery that had been used to probe her mind, what it felt like, what she saw. He learned of the starvation tactics Bastion used when she appeared to be fighting the memory inducing drugs, the electroshock therapy practiced to 'induce' a charge in her body when she refused to cooperate.
But she never trusted him with the most painful thing of all.
The worst part of the whole situation was that he honestly believed that this turn of fate had been avoided when Lily had pulled the three of them back in time. Everything else had changed: Onslaught was destroyed before he could be released. The boy killed outside the estate in the time he knew had been rescued by a rather drunk and annoyed Wolverine. The heroes that had given their lives to stop Onslaught were still alive and Franklin Richards was enrolled in the Massachusetts school. Everything had been going fine, until Graydon Creed had been assassinated. It hadn't come out until some weeks after the event that it had been orchestrated by Bastion himself to launch his Operation Zero Tolerance program, but in that time Jubilee had been abducted, young Everett dying trying to protect her, Monet wounded and left for dead.
The search had been frantic, but he had proved to be little help. The hulkbuster base was at a different local than the one he remembered any information he had proven useless when the X-Men had found only an abandoned military instillation. The exposure of the Creed assassination, however, had provided a means to find her. SHIELD had been ordered to find Bastion, and it had taken almost every government favor and more than a few bribes to get the information before SHIELD could. Now Bastion was somewhere in a SHIELD holding zone, awaiting trial.
Shaking his head, clearing it of everything accept the problem at hand, Charles reached for his address book. He knew Jubilee wouldn't be comfortable speaking to him or Jean about what had happened. She had once commented on how wonderful anonymity was when he asked why she spent so much time talking to strangers on the Internet. He knew someone she might be willing to talk to, the only thing he didn't know is if their past together would get in the way.
The softly spoken words made Jubilee turn to the door, a smile lifting her face when she saw Wolverine standing there in his usual jeans and flannel shirt. She'd kept that image of him in her mind all those months, thought about the softness of the flannel when she hugged him or fell asleep on him during one of their all night movie marathons.
"Hey furball," she answered, "Was wondering when you'd drag yourself out of bed and come see me."
For a moment Logan said nothing, he simply stared at the young woman lying in the hospital bed, too pale against the white sheets. He remembered the first time they had met, when he was staked up and left for dead. Waking up in diapers, a small ,Asian form near him, mumbling about how he was too big an inconvenience for her to be worrying over. Since then they had fought more battles than he cared to remember, shared more pain that any two people had the right to feel in several lifetimes. Now, seeing her like this, made him wonder if they were capable of weathering this storm like they had all the others.
"How ya feelin'?" he asked as he settled into a chair next to the bed, taking one of her small hands in his. They were cold, so he began to rub them lightly, feeling the delicate bones beneath the thin skin.
Jubilee humphed before smiling, "Like I want to take a long ride on your Harley, maybe to Mexico." She sighed, closing her eyes, "A cold Mexican beer and a turkey club with the works sounds like heaven right now."
For a moment Logan was pulled back into memory. It was one of the times when he decided that they needed a break. He'd woken her in the middle of the night, tossed her a duffel bag and told her to start packing. Within the hour they were riding his Harley and heading south. Two weeks of riding and they entered the small coastal village of Leaneda in Southern Mexico. Another two weeks of doing nothing besides sunbathing before they were called home. It was one of the happiest memories he had.
Logan cleared his throat before he spoke again, "So what are they feedin' ya in here?"
The young woman grimaced before answering, " Hank's in charge of my diet I guess, because all I've been given is 'nutritious' food. Stuff doesn't even have salt in it."
Something in her tone made him look at her more closely. Deliberately taking a deep breath, he allowed the scents of the room to drift over him. Most overpowering was the smell of disinfectant, chemicals, and other unnamed solutions that Henry used in his experiments. Beneath it all he could smell her, and he didn't like it at all. Fear, pain, anger, and a stark, barely contained terror wafted from her in waves. Her scent was also out of whack, a result from not eating properly, he guessed, added to her recent miscarriage.
"I'll see if I cant sneak in a burger or something when blue boy over there isn't lookin'" he gestured with his head to where Henry sat, examining another blood sample and making notes in the file in front of him.
"I heard that," Hank said, turning around and pinning them both with a stare full of mock severity. "I'll only tolerate one burger a week as long as she's in here," He added before turning back to his work.
Jubilee blinked at the concession, then frowned when she realized why he did it. 'Coddling the poor rape victim,' she thought bitterly, burrowing under the covers to escape the sudden cold that washed over her.
Logan watched her, concern playing in his eyes, "You all right, darlin'" he asked, moving closer.
Jubilee laughed, the sound cold and lifeless, "Well, lets see Logan: I've been kidnapped, tortured, rescued after months of imprisonment, subjected to more mental probes than Joseph, and miscarried. Not to mention the fact that Everett is dead because of me. What do you think?" With that she pulled her hand from his and turned, leaving him looking at her back.
Logan sat there for a moment, before whispering, "If you ever need to talk about anything girl, anything at all, you know where ta find me."
Jubilee turned, the glare she pinned him with making him shiver, "Thanks but no thanks." Then she turned away.
Not saying anything, Logan rose and left, but not before he heard the light, almost inaudible sound of a sob.
"Lila McNeil's office, may I help you?"
Charles Xavier sat at his desk filled with apprehension. The last time he had spoken with this woman was more than ten years ago, when they both decided that if they ever saw the other, it would be too soon. Now he sat, willing himself to say something before the receptionist hung up. He hated these sudden moments of doubt that he felt more often, now that he was making a conscious effort to sort through everything that came through him, not simply shove it somewhere to be forgotten.
The question was enough to bring him out of the semi-analytical state he had slipped into, "Yes," he answered, "My name is Charles Xavier, I would like to speak with Dr. McNeil."
"Please hold on for a moment."
Waiting. He always hated it, though he had learned that everyone had to wait for something at one time or another. It had taken many years before he was able to patiently sit and wait for the slightest bit of information, even if it took weeks to come. Now, as with all his other emotions after the battle with Onslaught, he was unable to exert any real control over his anxiousness. No matter how horrible it became at times, though, he liked it. For the first time in what felt like years, he truly felt like he was living.
'Her voice hasn't changed at all', he thought. "Lila?"
" Why are you calling?"
The question caught him slightly off guard, though he had expected something of the like. She had always been straightforward. "I have a problem that I would like you help with."
"What? Finally realized that I was right when I told you you were cut off from your own emotions?"
Charles laughed at that, "Sorry, someone already helped me with that problem, Lila."
Her muttered "Damn," made him laugh. "So, what is the nature of this problem?"
For a moment Charles said nothing, then asked on impulse, "Can we meet somewhere and talk about this?"
"As soon as possible."
Charles heard her sigh, then, "Hold on for a minute," He heard her muttering, though he couldn't make anything out, and the sound of paper rustling. "Im free tonight at 8."
Charles nodded, making a note on his ledger, though he doubted he would forget.
"Where is this meeting going to take place?"
Charles barely thought a moment before answering, "Michael's."
"I'll be there." Then the line went dead.
Charles set the phone down at steepled his fingers. Lila was never one to jump at dinner like she did. Usually it took several minutes before they were able to make a compromise. 'That was ten years ago, old man' he thought as the hover chair glided out of the room, 'Who knows how she's changed?'
"You're condition is improving, Jubilee," Henry said as he checked the IV and changed the solution bag. "Another two or three days and I should be able to let you return to your room, as long as you promise me that you'll rest."
"I can rest when I'm dead, Hank," Jubilee answered, watching the blue furred doctor as he fussed with the tubing. A memory flashed in her mind: being strapped to a table while a woman checked her IV, telling her not to fight the drugs, that it will go easier for her if she didn't…
The question jolted her, and she found herself curled into a ball, eyes squeezed shut with a worried Jean and Hank looking on. Slowly she straightened out, hearing her joints creak as she did. "I'm fine," she whispered, her tongue feeling like a piece of cotton in her mouth, "Just need some water."
She reached for the cup that came floating to her, sipping it slowly. She remembered the first time they had given her water after refusing her for days. She'd drunk it too fast, then vomited it up as the guards watched, laughing. She learned then to take things in moderation, much to their dismay.
"Is their anything you need, Jubes?" Jean asked.
'To be left alone would be nice,' she thought before answering. "Just some time, Jean, that's all."
Nodding, Jean moved to where Hank was standing, and Jubilee heard their hushed voices, though she couldn't understand what they were saying. "Just another day in paradise," she thought before drifting back to sleep.