The Usual: Ya'll know this! Characters: MOSTLY NOT MINE. Tendo Aika is mine, but if you ask nicely you can borrow her. Money: NONE BEING MADE.

The world has gotten darker, harsher, and it's no longer about equal rights for mutants, but about survival. More time has lapsed, and time is running out for our heros......I have not read any Marvel since before they killed Gen X, so continuity can take a flying _________.

spoken in Japanese
((Inner thoughts))

Note: Shelter from the Storm is a self-contained story. It does NOT intersect with any other stories I have running. It lives in its own little world. So don't worry, I'm not giving away plot spoilers for anything else while writing this. :)

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I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love.
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

- Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan





Stormclouds Moving
Jeanne M





"Let me make sure I understand this...." Scott paces around, rubbing his temples, refusing to look at me. "The reason you got so upset last month is because Logan left a letter on your bed. You've been hunting down any trace of the man for the past few years, and then you get angry because he leaves you a letter. Now, you want my blessing to take a month off and go do God-Knows-What, which does *not* include looking for him? Jubilee, I really don't understand how your brain works."

"Gee, join the club." I hide a sigh at his frown, and attempt to forge ahead. "First of all, Wolverine did not leave me a letter. He left a note, and all it said was 'Hello.' That is not a letter, that is an insult. I bent over backwards for a long time to set things right, and all he has to say for himself is 'Hello' ? I don't think so. I quit, Scooter. Finito. As Emma would say, I've reorganized my priorities. And seeking his approval isn't one of them. First off, I need a vacation. When I get back from basking on the beaches in Italy, my first and foremost care is the well-being of my students." I idly toy with the end of my braid. "I know what being the 'junior mascot' can do to a person. I'm not going to let these kids go through the same insulting, demeaning treatment that the X-Men put me through when I lived here. I will not let them be treated as idiots simply because they are young. They are intelligent, powerful, resourceful, and deserve to be treated as adults. They've earned that right. The 'team' is not my responsibility, neither is the Dream. You guys entrusted these teens to my care, and I'm going to do right by them. All I'm asking is for a month to make sure my head is in order before I dive back into the world of teenage angst."

"What if I say no?" He sits at the opposite end of the War Room table, folding his hands together. A rather transparent attempt to control the situation. "If you leave without my permission, then you can't come back, not for a very long time, if ever. Are you willing to risk that? You remember what happened when Kitty left, you will be cut off from your family, the only people who have ever cared about you."

"Bullshit." The man has got to learn how to play poker sometime, he's never learned the value of keeping your cards close to your chest. "You gave me guardianship over six students. Six people that none of you can control. You oust me, and you've got the potential for a mini-mutiny on your hands. Besides....." I lean foward, giving him my best evil-smile. "I'm taking Remy with me, if he wants to come. You get rid of the two people who challenge you with the most frequency and the most success for a month. That's a lot of nice quiet time for you. Your call, Scoot. Toss the troublemakers out for a month, or have us spreading dissent among the ranks." I grin wider, sliding back into my seat as he rubs his visor in exasperation. "Life's a bitch, ain't she?"



*****



"This solves nothing." Ororo is looking at me in disappointment. I don't meet her eyes. "Jubilee, are you even listening to me? You are being irresponsible and irrational."

"I need to go, 'Ro. I can't stay here any longer. This place has always been suffocating for me, you know that." I shove more clothes into my duffle, discarding anything with the school logo onto the floor. "There's too many ghosts here now. Too many have come and gone, with no difference made. Not to mention that Charles, Scott, and I just don't get along. I'm not the thirteen year old girl that came traipsing in here blowing bubbles and telling jokes, and I don't appreciate them treating me like I'm still her! Besides, it's not like I'm just taking off to go lay on beaches or anything, I'm actually on assignment. Scooter said that 'If I was going to be in the way, I might as well go get Logan to help me be a pain.' I don't like it anymore than you do, 'Ro, but it was the only way for me to get out of here for any amount of time. I can always say I couldn't find him, I never said how hard I'd look. Besides, Scooter says that we need him for tactical reasons- we're short a combat trainer, and we need someone who can teach how to 'brawl' effectively."

"We don't need a 'brawler,' Jubilee. Besides, I think that between Domino, yourself, Sean, and Jonothon, the X-family has enough hotheaded fighters. All of you are combat and weapons experts, Logan's absence is acceptable with so many apt replacements."

"No absence is acceptable, not now when we need everyone we can get for this damned battle. But you'll excuse Logan because he's you friend." Now it's Ororo who won't meet my eyes, and I sigh. "You know it's true, 'Ro. Scott managed to knock it into my thick head that we need Logan the tactician as well as Wolverine the Fighter." I gesture to the crutch Ororo is leaning on to support herself. "We had too many get injured in that last furball, and we need all the support we can get. Our enemies are getting more desperate, and desperate people do dangerous things. I'm not going to risk the lives of my teammates just for the pride of one man. If Wolverine's presence will save lives, then if I find him then I'm going to drag him back here. Even if I have to use my "vacation time" to do it!"

She follows me around the room as I pack, staying a half-step behind me. "I understand your dedication, and it is admirable, but is it Logan you are trying to find, Jubilation? Or are you looking to run?"

"Ororo, I am a full-time member of the X-Men, something I used to dream about as a child. I've faced Brood, Sentinels, fanatics, out of control mutants, and a thousand other perils. Tell me exactly what you think I would be running from, 'cause I can't see how anyone could say I was afraid of something after all this time."

"Your failed relationship with Jonothon."

To my credit, I don't even flinch or skip a beat. She sure doesn't pull her punches. "Jono and I are adults, 'Ro, and we're both mature enough to keep our personal problems separate from 'work'. Any feelings I have about Jonothon are just that. Mine. It's more than I can say about your relationships with Forge or Cable." I feel the anger rise in me, and shake my head. "All I'm doing is taking a vacation, and to justify it to Scott I'm going to keep my eyes and ears open for rumors. That's all. If I find Wolverine, that's all well and good. If not, oh well. So I have Scott yell at me. What's new about that? Besides.....if I do find him.....I may have fucked up royally, but even after all these years....he was my partner. I owe it to him to try and work this out."

"But not now!" The vehemence in her voice startles me. "You are needed here! You are correct, Jubilation. There is a war waging out there, and we need every fighter we can get. I would love to have Logan here, he would be invaluable. We need all the friends we can find, and having him here would be a great comfort to many people. But we need you here as well!" Ororo grabs my arm and forces me to look at her, white eyes boring into mine. "The younger generation looks to you, as much as you pretend not to notice. You defer to me as the leader of the Gold Team, but it's you they listen to. I know you've always hated being the 'youngest X-Man' and the 'baby' of the team, but they see you as their leader. The woman, the rebel against authority, who wears the X not because she agrees with Xavier's methods, but because she knows this is the best path. They are wary of us 'old timers' because we cannot know the world they have grown up in. A dark, vicious world, where peaceful co-existence is a fairytale, and only survival matters. You know that world, and so they follow you." She releases my arm, grasping her crutch for more support. "If you leave now, they will feel abandoned. You know what that feels like, don't make them go through what you did."

"You fight dirty, 'Ro." I'm shaking. I try to steady myself. ((Come on Jubes, Deep breath.)) "That was uncalled for."

"Jean is about to have a baby. I am injured, as are many others. You have barely begun to recover from severe emotional trauma. Besides Hank, you are one of the most competent in the medlab. You would sacrifice the mental stability of your students, your building of your friendship with Remy, and your responsibility to the X-Men because you can hear the wind calling? You are a restless soul, Jubilation. But don't let the wind drive you from one life to another. Listen to its song and embrace its freedom, but don't let the sky suck you in. I don't want to lose you to the same never-ending road that claimed Logan."



*****



"Get out of my dojo" Aika is standing in the doorway, leaning on her cane. "I told you to meditate on your words, Logan. Not spend your time chewing them to death."

"Fer an old lady, yer damn impatient."

"It's 'you are damn impatient sensei.' We already had that lesson once, didn't we Logan?" Her smile holds vicious amusement. "Do you need a review session? I know you like getting rough with women, but do you really get your kicks from being pinned to the floor by little old ladies?"

"Aika!" I can't help being shocked by her words. And then I find myself pinned to the floor again.

Logan, we already covered this. You must think before speaking. You know that I demand the respect of all my students, including you. Because you did not think before you spoke, I have my fingers against all sorts of interesting ways to kill you. Do not let the other person bait you. Think. Breathe. Meditate in the NOW of time. And for the sake of the Gods, use that brain they gave you! She raps me on the head with her cane, then allows me to move to a sitting position.

"I already went back to the mansion, sensei. Many times." What is it about this woman's lectures that brings out the sulk in me?!? "I've been there a few times this year, and now I'm back to meditate on the results."

You did not speak to the women. Her voice is matter-of-fact. Correction, you did not speak to the one woman you needed to! Aika gives me a few more raps on the head with her cane, and I wince. Not only are you prideful and foolish, you don't listen!

I spoke to Jean and Ororo. Jubilee was not home.

Because you did not want her to be home. Our thoughts shape the universe, Logan-kun. I never thought I'd see the day that the mighty Wolverine was afraid of a twenty-year-old girl.

...Twenty-five, sensei. Jubilee is twenty-five.

Ohhhh.....twenty-five....I see....that's so much more intimidating! She smacks me on the head again, and I growl sullenly. Logan, my children are older than that, and you don't see me cowering in fear of them. They are bigger than me, younger than me, well-versed in combat, and possibly stronger. I suspect two of them are 'gifted,' as your friend Charles calls it. And I still smack them around when they sulk. You, on the other hand, are afraid of a girl - yes, a girl, she's barely twenty! - who has been trying to reach out to you. You have until sundown, then you must leave the grounds unless you can talk to me honestly. Tell me your fears, Logan, and I will let you stay. Otherwise you must leave this training hall, and you may not return while this festers on your soul.



*****



"Don't listen ta Stormy." Remy takes a drag on his cigarette and passes it to me as I inhale gratefully. I don't smoke often, but I'm making an exception today. "You do what ya gotta, p'tite. I don't t'ink you should go if yer gonna be keepin' eyes an' ears open for Logan, but 'dat's just Remy's opinion. You de one 'dat's gotta make de choice." I pass it back to him, laying down on the roof to stare straight up at the stars.

"What do you think I should do?"

"Don't know. Remy knows he want you to stay here. You got too much runnin' around in dat pretty head a yours, p'tite. Sort it out. Logan? He can wait. Dat homme got his own shit to deal wit', you don't need to go around huntin' someone 'dat doesn't want to be found. You did your best, p'tite. Everythin' that happened....is not just your fault, eh? An' you done your bit, said sorry an' tried to find him." He stubs out the cigarette, tossing it down the chimney before moving to rest his head on my stomach. "Don' sacrifice what's left of your pride, chere. Stay with Remy, p'tite. We have a good time, non? We could have a good time in Italy, oui, but not if ma p'tite has to be looking over her shoulder for a short Canadian."

"Oui" He chuckles softly at my use of French as I absently twist my fingers in his hair. "You an' me, Rem. We have a damn good time." I crane my neck to look at him. "Wanna raise some hell?"

"How?" I hear the suspicion in his voice and laugh.

"No stealing Xavier's brandy, I promise. I wanna go dancing. Clubbing. Get out of the house and away from memories that whisper in walls and stand in corners watching you."

"P'tite, when you talk like that, Remy knows it's time for you to get outta de house!" He sat up, eyes burning against the dark sky. "You're not healthy, p'tite."

"Nope." I continue looking up at the sky. "I'm fucked up right now, Rem. I know that. Jono took every ounce of self-respect I had, and shredded it. I trusted him, I let myself love him, and he destroyed me. I hate everything about myself. And people wonder why I'm skipping meals and missions."

"You can't control your powers anymore." It's a statement, not a question. He sighs, running his hands through his hair. "Dat's why you wear de power-suppression bracelets in training, and pass up missions to kid-sit. Merde, woman. Why didn't you tell someone?"

"Ehn, it's no biggie." At Remy's disbelieving snort, I tug on his hair. "I'm serious. The paffs still come when I call, but the intensity tends to get a wee bit out of control. My telepathy's having a field day, I just keep slipping past other people's shields and right into their heads accidentally." I roll onto my stomach to look at him. "Jono's the one who gave me the confidence and stability I needed to master my powers. I can't find my focus, so I'm staying out of the field until I can re-integrate myself with my powers." I grin, ignoring the sad look he's giving me. I don't want Remy feeling sorry for me. I'm sick of people feeling sorry for me. "That's why I want a vacation. I figured a few weeks away from Scott's required training sessions would help."

"Get up." His voice is expressionless, and inside I cringe. "Merde, woman. You can try the patience of a saint, ya know dat?"

"Yup." I accept his hand, and we head towards 'Ro's skylight. "It's one a my more charming qualities." I jump down onto 'Ro's soft, fluffy rug, put here to pad the landing of the mansion's resident roof-rats. Aka- me and Rem. We wander down the stairs, towards our rooms.

"Get changed, chere. Gambit is gonna take you out for dinner tonight. An' look nice, we're not gonna go to one a dose fast food resturants."

"Yes sir!" I start to move into my room when he grabs my arm and pulls me tight against him, putting his head against my neck.

"Take a bag, small, that can fit on the back of my bike. Only what ya need, chere." I can feel the whisper of a grin against my ear. "You an' me, we're goin' on vacation.....without Scooter's orders....how's 'Nawlins sound?"