ashes

Ashes

by Farli

Disclaimer: The characters mentioned within belong to Marvel Comics. Nothing but the story itself belongs to me. A big thank you (wrapped in Tim Tams) goes to Rossi for looking this over for me before I sent it. Rated G.

Archiving: Please ask first.

Feedback: Welcomed and worshipped! farli@subreality.com

Summary: Set between Generation X issues 68 and 69, this is a simple short piece, centering on Jubilee.

DANGER: DO NOT CROSS

Dark red letters on bright yellow tape slapped haphazardly across the sooty doorframe. Several planks of wood, painted with blood red paint, informed passers by to stay out of the room.

For a long moment, her hands hesitated midair, before seizing and tearing at the tape, stripping it from the entranceway to the gutted room. Her room. Lower lip held tightly between her teeth as she pulled at the planks, the young Chinese girl ripped the panels barring her way to what had been her sanctuary and personal space since joining Generation X, and crossed the threshold into darkness.

Jubilee took a single breath as she stepped into charred remains of her room. There was nothing left untouched within to indicate that it had once been the living space of the former X-Men member, just the shadows of objects seared by the heat into the cracked plaster and the skeletons that remained of the furniture. Swallowing against the lump that formed in her throat, she took stock of the damage around her.

Nothing had escaped the firebomb's touch.

The posters that had once adorned the walls had been burned to a crisp, the metal pins that had held them fast melted into the cracks. The television with built in VCR had shattered, and was now a hollow shell. Well, at least the Hayseed wouldn't be able to blast her awake with her Cindy Crawford workout video in the early hours of the morn.

Lee had hidden Paige's only copy of the tape in the VCR.

"Whoops." Her voice seemed strange in the desolation about her.

Her eyes strayed to the bed now. All that remained of the duvet was dust that coated the melted coils that had been part of the much-abused spring mattress. The pillows were gone. Stepping towards the bed, reaching down to pick up, with extreme care, the brittle remains of the formally blue bamf doll that had once held pride of place on her pillow.

Her throat closed in sorrow as she cradled the toy between her fingers, tears forming in her eyes as it slowly disintegrated in her grasp. This was all she had to remind her of the shy blonde child that had been one of the first victims of the legacy virus. Colossus' sister, the girl once called DarkChilde. Former New Mutant and friend of Kitty 'Katharine' Pryde. Illyana.

She made to sit down, remembering at the last moment the extreme state of disrepair that the bed was in, and straightened. This toy, it had been Illyana's. She'd been tucked up in that big bubble-glass-thingy in the Med Lab that the Professor had placed over her as a safe guard for the rest of them against possibly catching the disease, and it was this that she'd held in her final hours. Jubilee remembered paying her visits, and in spite of the language difference, they'd formed a friendship, however brief it had been.

And now all she had to remind her of the girl was fragmenting into ashes before her very eyes. With infinite care, she laid the toy to rest on the remains of the bed, and continued her search of the room.

The mahogany desk looked as though someone had ripped it in half, before blasting it with Cyclops's optic blast. She sniffed, wiping at her eyes with soot-streaked fingers as she gazed at the few remaining objects on - and in - the desk. The photo album of her time with the X-Men had completely vanished, without even a hint of the gold that had been impressed into the leather. Her old shades, part of her old uniform and which had, for a while, been a part of the Gen X one, had been melted and melded with the charred wood. Her skates were missing, probably evaporated by the sheer flame that had ripped her room, her private place apart.

The large wardrobe, built into the wall, had been gutted completely, clothing in thin strands that hung like dark specters from their hangers. The faint breeze that leaked through the shattered windows caught the tendrils of fabric, blowing at the thick coat of black that painted them, but there was no colour to be saved. She turned away from the rest of the room, towards the windowsill.

There had been five framed pictures on the sill; of them all, only two had survived. Sort of.

The first was a large picture taken of her with the X-Men. The entire main team, back in 'The Old Days'. She remembered the day it had been taken clearly - She and Bobby had driven Scott to distraction with several of their more ambitious pranks. It had mad him all the madder (and them all the more amused) because he'd become the inadvertent main target in their prank war.

The photo was scarred by ash and flame, the glass of the frame having shattered and torn it in several places, leaving what remained vulnerable to the fire's touch. The only face still visible, the only one untouched and undamaged, was that of Scott Summers. For a brief moment, Jubilee didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

The other picture was that of herself, with her mother and father. Taken days before they'd died so tragically. She'd had their picture to remind her of their faces should they ever fade from her mind.

Now, only her young, smiling face peered up at her from the burnt frame. The images of her mom and pa were singed, ruined past redemption. Her heart twisted and she could feel herself shaking.

This room had been HERS. It had been hers completely, her sanctuary, her place. If she wanted to shut out the world, the bad grades, her jealousy at Monet and Everett's growing. *Call it what it is, girl - _relationship_, * or just wanted some time to herself, to recall her "When I was in the X-Men" memories (the very ones that her fellow team mates had scorned so), this had been the place she'd run to. This had been her home.

And someone had destroyed it, ruining all that was precious to her in the process.

Again.

First she'd lost her parents, her home in Beverley Hills.

Then she'd lost her mentor and best friend, Wolverine, when he'd departed the X-Men to do what ever it had been he'd had to do, after Magneto had ripped the adamantium from his bones through his skin.

She'd lost her place in the X-Men, albeit by her own choice, to join the next generation team to learn control of her powers after the whole Phalanx mess.

When Bastion had kidnapped her, and she'd eventually freed herself and come home with the others, she'd found all that she'd stored in the huge attic of the Mansion was gone. Any thing she'd not taken to Massachusetts had been kept upstairs. All gone, taken by a man who'd been fixated with ridding the world of 'mutant scum'.

And now, the few remaining objects she'd owned, that had been HERS and hers alone, the last physical links to her past, her memories. were gone. Destroyed by hate. By bigoted idiots within the very walls of the place she'd considered home. Safe.

The wind howled into the bare room, forcing something free from the wreckage behind what had once been the door.

A hat. A western hat, like the cowboys had worn on the wild rugged plains of early America. Wolvie's hat.

The only thing of hers to survive the vicious fire that had raged like the hatred within the hearts of those who'd started it. Trembling fingers picked it up, and she held it to her chest, arms wrapping about it, hugging it close.

And she sank to her knees in the fading embers of sunset that coated the charcoal room in a crimson red, tears spilling down her face and soaking into the rotting floorboards, mixing with the ashes of her past in the despairing present, trying to hide from the uncertainty of the future ahead of her.

~fini~