Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Jubilee, Husk
Challenge/Prompt: halfamoon Day 7: Squeaky Wheel
Word Count: 1,649
Date Written: 11 February 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Okay," Paige says, dropping her books on her bed and walking over to Jubilee's bed. "You wanna tell me what Ah did taday to piss y'all all off?"
Jubilee looks up, pausing in the bubble of gum she's blowing. She sucks her gum back in slowly as she gazes up at her room mate in surprise and doubt. "Ya gotta be kiddin' me, Hayseed."
"No, Ah'm not. What did Ah do that was so wrong? Y'all are all actin' like Ah'm th' plague! Even Jono won't look at me!"
Jubilee rolls her eyes and flips over onto her back. "Ya can't be that dumb," she mutters, but then she sits up, almost swallowing her gum, when she sees the tears beginning to brim in the other girl's eyes. "Come on, Paige," she says more gently. "Ya know whatcha did. Ya got Frostie started. Not only did we get a pop quiz, but we suddenly have a test tomorrow. All because ya couldn't shut up."
"All Ah was doin' was askin' questions." Paige pouts.
"Yeah, an' askin' questions an' askin' questions an' askin' questions an' askin' questions -- "
"Is it mah fault Ah want to learn?"
"Ask Cassidy, not Frostie," Jubilee advises with a slow shake of her head. She piques an eyebrow at the girl. "Ya really didn't know what ya were doin' to us?"
"No, Ah didn't! Like Ah said, Jubie, Ah want to learn. Ah wanna learn everythin' Ah possibly can about mah powers an' about how to be th' best X-Man Ah can be an' -- "
"Number One," Jubilee says, cutting her short, "nobody can teach you how to be the best X-Man ya can be. It's somethin' ya gotta learn fer yaself. When yer out there on the field, yer not gonna be thinkin' 'bout what ya learned here in books. When I was with the X-Men, we didn't have time to think about books an' studyin' an' stuff like that. It was always go, go, go, go from one battle to the next, go from savin' one life to almost losin' another," she snorts, "go from almost losin' one life an' managin' to save that one to losin' somebody ya didn't even know was in danger . . . "
Paige's blue eyes widen in surprise. She's never heard Jubilee talk so gloomily before. "Ah know Sam says there's some tough times -- "
"Girl," Jubilee retorts, shaking her head, "ya don't know tough times 'til ya wear the X."
"Ah think you're wrong," Paige whispers softly after a moment. She forces herself to perk up. "Besides, that's why Ah wanna learn everythin' Ah can here."
"Yer still not tellin' me ya didn't know ya were pissing Frostie off today." Jubilee pops her gum.
"Ah didn't, Ah swear." Paige sinks onto her friend's bedside. "Ah mean, why should she be angry 'cause Ah wanna learn?"
"'Cause she's Frostie."
"But she's our teacher. She's supposed to want to teach us, an' ya can't really learn if ya don't ask th' right questions."
"With Frostie, the only right question is the one not asked."
"What do you mean?" Paige asks, genuinely puzzled.
"She doesn't want us askin' questions, Paige. She wants us sittin' in there with our mouths shut just takin' her stupid tests an' all."
"Well, that's a dumb way to learn."
Jubilee whistles. "Let her hear you say that, an' yer'll earn us a test every damn day!"
"Ah don't wanna do that, Jubilee," Paige admits, wrapping her arms around herself as though she's suddenly cold, "but Ah do wanna learn, an' Ah do have questions."
"Then ask Cassidy. Or, Hell, ask me. I was an X-Man. Could still be one now if I wanted to be." She doesn't mention that even she has things to learn. Instead she shrugs casually and tosses out, "I already know, like, half this stuff at least."
"But Ah'm really not supposed to ask questions in Miss Frost's classes?" Paige puzzles.
"Only if you wanna piss her off."
Paige hugs herself underneath Jubilee's suddenly scrutinizing gaze. "Ah'm sorry Ah got us into so much trouble today. Ah really wasn't tryin' to."
The younger girl nods. "Ya were just tryin' to learn."
"Precisely." Paige inclines her head, affirming what she's said so many times already today. "Daddy always said th' squeaky wheel gets th' grease."
Jubilee narrows her dark eyes as she examines Paige. "Why do you wanna learn so bad, Hayseed?"
"Ah told ya: so Ah can be th' best X-Man Ah can be."
"There's more to it than that."
Paige swallows and looks down at her feet. She's come to know that tone well over the short time she's known her room mate. She's not going to get out of answering the questions with full honesty. Jubilee knows when she's being lied to, or even simply not told the entire truth to, and she's not letting Paige out of this one again. "Ah . . . " She takes a deep breath, sighs, and plunges in, "When Sammy left us to become an X-Man, Ah was so jealous Ah could barely stand it, an' it wasn't just because he was gettin' away from home. He was goin' to th' city an' havin' all these neat adventures, but that wasn't th' real reason why Ah was jealous or, at least, not th' only one."
She shakes her head and hugs herself more tightly. "He was doin' somethin' with his life, Jubilee, somethin' Ah didn't think Ah could do but Ah wanted to do so badly. He was makin' somethin' o' himself, an' he was able to help Momma with th' bills more than Ah evah could staying at home. You're right. Ah don't wanna learn everythin' there is to know just so Ah can be th' best X-Man or even just be an X-Man. Ah wanna learn -- "
"Fer yer family," Jubilee whispers, sitting fully at attention now. She scoots closer as Paige nods.
"Yeah. Ah wanna be able to support 'em. Ah wanna be able to make sure mah brothers an' sisters get th' educations they deserve an' everythin' else they need. Momma an' Daddy never did go to college. We were too poor. Momma didn't even finish school, but look at what she's done with her life: She's totally devoted herself to us, an' Ah know some people would say she's our momma an' she's supposed to do that, but," she continues, gazing steadfastly into Jubilee's eyes and causing the girl to nod in thought, "we both know not all parents are good. Jono's parents clearly don't care 'bout him, an' how many mutants have been thrown away by their folks for bein' what we all are, what we were born ta be?"
"God doesn't make mistakes, Jubilee. He made us th' way we are fer a reason, an' Ah like to think that He answered mah prayer to be a mutant so Ah can help mah family. But Ah can't do that if Ah don't know what Ah'm doin', an' Ah can best help mah family by learn' as much as Ah can, knowin' as much as Ah can. Just because Ah learn it here doesn't mean Ah use it on th' field. It doesn't even mean Ah use it here in th' city." Jubilee almost laughs at that comment, because Snow Valley is about as far away from being a city as she has been in in years. It's a big place compared to where Paige comes from, but for a child of Los Angeles and New York, it might as well be just another one-horse town.
"But if Ah know it, if Ah learn it, Ah can use it wherever Ah am, wherever Ah need it, rather that's here in th' city or as an X-Man or back home. That's why Ah wanna learn everythin'. It's why Ah asked Mistah Cassidy today if we can maybe get a Home Economics class started -- "
Jubilee's mouth drops wide open, revealing her wad of chewed gum. "Ya didn't!"
"Ah did, an' Ah know that's probably gonna make y'all mad too, but Ah wanna learn everythin' not just about bein' a mutant but about bein' th' best big sister Ah can be. That includes everythin' from what Momma would be teachin' me if Ah was still with her like cookin' an' ironin' to th' medical stuff to th' stuff Ah was askin' Miss Frost about today t' . . . well, everythin'."
Jubilee's been watching Paige's wide and innocent eyes this whole time. Finally, she asks gently, "All so you can be there for yer brothers an' sisters an' give 'em everythin' they need?"
"Not just what they need, but what they deserve an' Momma too. Ah wanna get to where Ah can support 'em an' she doesn't have to work. She's gettin' older, ya know." Jubilee resists the urge to remind Paige that they're all getting older every day. "She deserves ta be able ta rest some an' put up her feet, 'specially after all she's done fer us. But yeah, Ah wanna know everythin' so Ah can take care o' mah family." She peers intently into Jubie's eyes for a long moment before concluding quietly, "Is that really so bad?"
"No." Jubilee shakes her head. "Nah, it ain't bad at all, Paige." She scoots closer to her on the bed, her eyes locked on hers. "But ya are wrong about one thin'."
Jubie wraps her arms around the older, but more innocent, girl and brings her into a tight hug. "I think yer brothers an' sisters already have th' best big sister they could ask fer."
Paige closes her eyes as Jubilee hugs her. She feels a few tears slip free just underneath her eyelashes. "Thanks," she breathes and hugs her back tightly. And maybe, she thinks but doesn't dare say aloud. Maybe she isn't without brothers and sisters in this place. Maybe she's got a new, little sister right here in her arms.