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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The wind howled into the bare room,
forcing something free from the wreckage behind what had once been
A hat. A western hat, like the
cowboys had worn on the wild rugged plains of early America. Wolvie's
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