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Right Before Them

Title: Right Before Them
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Jubilee with cameos from Wolverine, Banshee/White Queen, Cyclops/Jean, Professor X, Bishop, Shard, Skin, and Synch
Rating: PG-13/T
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog #60: Unseen
Warning(s): Cannon Character Deaths, Spoilers
Word Count: 2,087
Date Written: 4 April 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.





The mansion is more full these days than it's ever been before. Mutants and their few, non-mutant friends are constantly scurrying to and fro, from this mission to that one, from this near crisis to that narrow escape, from one disaster to another. The school is always a blur of activity.

But what Jubilee sees most nights, she keeps to herself. They wouldn't believe her if she told them everything she sees through her now red eyes. They wouldn't believe her if she told them that there are probably about a hundred more people that walk, and float, through these halls, unseen by most of them. There's a few of the new kids that see them. She sees it in their eyes, but like herself, they dare not speak a word. Acceptance is hard, even among their own people, and they don't dare to make those who have taken them in think that doing so was a mistake.

But it's a mistake sometimes, Jubilee knows too, to stay silent, so she does say something now and then. She tells Bishop one night as she's been watching him patrol the yard like a strong, silent sentry but seeing the little, aching boy in his dark and troubled eyes that he's not alone. He looks at her in surprise, a man who's been through so much but still does a double take when she tells him his sister is always near him.

"I gave up that hologram program long ago," he whispers in a hushed, tiny voice that would surprise anybody else hearing it.

"I know, Big B," she tells him patiently. "I wasn't talking about the hologram." But before he can deny what she knows is truth, she turns and roller blades away from him. She can practically feel him shaking his head as she goes, and she does hear Shard's soft and disappointed sigh on the night wind. So much has changed, and yet, some things still stay the same.

She's in the refrigerator on another late night, reaching for a bag of Wolverine's blood and denying her own, human impulse to reach for ice cream instead when she notices Emma sitting at the table and staring at nothing. She seems to be looking at nothing, but Jubilee knows the older woman too well. She's revisiting her past again, mulling over her past regrets, her past misdeeds, and the one man who, Jubie knows, actually touched her well-guarded heart where so many others have failed.

She tries to ignore her. Really, she does. She grabs the bag of blood, walks over to the sink, and rips it open with her teeth. But watching Emma's reflection in the window that's missing her own, Jubilee nonetheless finds herself saying quietly, "He's still with us, you know, and we both know you don't love Scott."

"What?" Emma snaps, but her Ice Queen tone no longer fools Jubilee. She sees through so many things these nights that she never did before.

She turns around and faces her former headmistress, her voice smooth, cool, and low. Emma's secrets are her own; Jubilee can't help it that she knows too many of them. "He's still with us," she repeats, "Cassidy. And you don't love Scott. You never did, just like he never loved Moira. He only tried to be true to her, because that was the kind of man he was: a honest man, a . . . Hell, I guess you'd call him a gentleman."

"There aren't too many of those left," Emma whispers, and she certainly wouldn't call Scott one, not after all he's done. Her haunted, blue eyes examine Jubilee carefully, but the girl doesn't flinch as she did when she was her student. She stands as tall as she can, proud and fearless before her scrutinizing gaze. "You see a lot of things you don't allow others to know, don't you, Jubilee?" she asks softly. She could get the truth from her mind, but she knows the truth already when she hears it spoken.

"Yeah," Jubes answers softly. "Just like Ev. He's here too, you know, and he doesn't blame you."

"Some of you did. You certainly turned away from me swiftly enough."

"And we're sorry for that. Least, I am, and Mister Cassidy, and Ev, and Ange." She feels, more than sees, the latter two of her dearest friends and one time loves come closer to her sides while Sean hovers above Emma, looking longingly down upon her. "Cassidy's real sorry. He already loved you. He just didn't know what to do about it."

She turns quickly, feeling emotions choking her throat, and hurries from the room. She's said too much, and yet there's more she'd like to say, more she'd like to say but more that would never be believed, not even by the telepath whose words her Vampire hearing still picks up as she leaves her behind. "It's a little too late for that, don't you think?"

Jubilee wonders if it is too late. So many of the lost souls she sees every night in this place are already dead, and so many others still live yet wish they did not. She doesn't have the answers for them. She wishes she did, but all she can offer are the bits of truths she knows, the knowledge she sees. She hears Bishop talking to somebody in his closed room and slows her pace as she crosses in front of it. He's speaking to his sister, and Jubilee smiles through the tears that glitter in her blood red eyes. At least she's managed to help one lost friend.

But she still hasn't found the one man for whom she's been searching for so long now. She sees Angelo and Everett every day, those two loves of her life have been restored as well as they can be. She sees almost all the friends and loved ones she's lost, all but one, the one she most wants to see, the one she herself most needs to see.

She walks around another corner in the school and stops dead still when she sees the Professor, his head hung low and fading in and out of the phantom plane, as he hovers just in front of Cyclops' door. Everybody avoids Scott these days, even Emma, Ororo, and his own children. They have good reason for avoiding him, but the man made a mistake just as they all make mistakes. It only happens that his was the greatest any of them have ever made.

But the Professor needs her. She sees it plainly in his fatigued face and hesitates no longer. Instead, her head held high again, Jubilee boldly walks up to and through the Professor and knocks loudly on Scott's door. It actually takes three knocks before the man who was once ready for any mission at the drop of a hat finally cracks his door open. He hasn't shaved in three days, and he stinks of alcohol. He isn't the leader he once was, but then, none of them are the people they once were.

"He forgives you," she says simply and takes her gratitude in the Professor's quick and eager nod.

"What?"

"He forgives you," she says again, just as simply and easily as before.

"What? Who?!"

"The Professor."

Anger flushes Scott's face. "Jubilee, don't you dare -- "

"I dare," she says, raising her gaze to his and sliding down her hot pink shades so that he can see the truth in her red eyes, "because I see him, Scott. Every night, I see him, and he wants you to know. He wants you to know he forgives you and he's here every day with us all just like Jean," she continues, glancing into the bedroom behind him, "is with you every day, and she doesn't like what you're doing to yourself."

"Jubilee -- " He actually growls her name, but she knows he needs to hear these messages and isn't going to stop.

She shoves her hand harder against his door, keeping him from shutting it, and continues, "They're with us every day, Scott. They miss us just like we miss them. They love us -- " Her voice breaks; tears spill down her cheeks.

"I know," Scott says a little more gently. "I know you miss them, Jubilee. I miss them too."

"No! No, you don't understand! Every night, I see them! I see them all as they walk, unseen, around the rest of you! They want to be seen! They want to be heard! But our hearts are so tired and so full of pain and regret that you guys never see them! So I'm telling you, Scott, and you damn well better listen to me," she hisses, her fangs showing, through her hot tears, "they forgive you and they love you still!"

She starts to turn away from him when she hears Jean's quick message. She turns swiftly back around, the tails of her yellow trench coat flapping around her like a big, yellow cape as she whirls. "She says she misses playing Pirates with you!" Scott's jaw drops wide open, but she doesn't see it as she turns from him and into her own sorrow and runs.

She runs out of the school, across the grounds, and on into the city. She runs and runs and runs until not even her Vampire stamina can keep holding her up. Then she collapses onto the moist sand of a beach where the X-Men used to go grilling and partying when she was younger. She can practically smell the hot dogs and hamburgers Wolvy used to serve, but he's not there. She looks around and sees the Professor again along with Everett and Angelo and little Illyana. There are so many faces peering down into her own teary one, but not a one of them is the one she needs.

She looks at the Professor, needing his answers still after all this time. "Why isn't he here?!" she cries.

Charles reaches out for one of his most beloved students, surely the one, out of all of them, who is hurting the most right now, but his hands pass through her flesh as they always do when he tries to touch something now. His sorrow matches hers and echoes in his vision and voice. "I'm sorry, Jubilee. It's just not time yet."

"Not time?" she repeats, her voice suddenly sounding hollow. "Not time?! When is it time, Professor?! It's never time for us to be happy, for us to be whole!"

"I'm sorry, my child," he whispers and feels ever more wretched as she collapses on the ground, not caring that the unseen watch her, not caring that her tears hurt them because they can not comfort her, not even caring that some one might see her break down now and think her weak.

"You're anything but that, chica," Angelo whispers, reading her mind.

"Yeah," Ev intones, but she doesn't care. She doesn't care. She doesn't want them. She'll always care for them, always love them, but they're not the ones she wants the most right now. They're not the one she needs. Her cries echo across the beach, sounding like the wild howls of the heart-broken beast they are, and somewhere, unseen and unheard, equally lonely and miserable howls answer her back.

He's right there with her, right there reaching for her along with the others, but she can't see him. The Professor shakes his head. "I'm so sorry," he says, and if Jubilee hears him, she thinks he's talking to her still. "It's just not time. Neither of you are ready."

"NO, I WASN'T READY!" she yells. "I WASN'T READY TO LOSE HIM! JUST LIKE WE WEREN'T READY TO LOSE ANY OF YOU!"

"Just like he," Charles speaks both knowingly and sorrowfully, "wasn't ready to leave you." He looks into eyes as haunted as his own as he adds, "Or to leave this world at all."

They've always been a set match, and even now, across the deserted beach, Wolverine and Jubilee howl in unison. And all those who see them both can do is cry and ache for them both for, just like the people Jubilee's tried to reach for them, she herself isn't ready. She wasn't ready to lose him, and she isn't ready to accept that he's gone, and until she has, until she, too, can grieve, she'll never see what's right before her red eyes or, rather, who, still howling and crying and calling her name into the wind.

The End

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