Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: fffc April 2017 Special: Beginnings and Endings
Word Count: 2,292
Date Written: 1 April 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
Sometimes, she thinks she's crazy to be doing this. She has to be crazy. What else would she be doing here? Why else would she have ever come to the X-Men? She was only a kid when she followed them through Gateway's portal to the Australian outback, only a kid when she first saved Wolveroonie, only a kid when she fought alongside the team who had quickly become the closest thing she's ever known to a real family, only a kid when she almost died time and again fighting to save a world who couldn't care less about her . . .
She stops and turns, looks up at the great, big school behind her which has meant so many things to her over the years. Whenever she's felt lost, lonely, confused, scared, or any mixture of the lot, she's come home to the mansion. Even when she came the closest she ever has to dying, being nailed while still breathing and semi-conscious onto a cross, unable to defend herself because she'd lost her mutant gift and had not yet become a Vampire, she was brought here, and when she awoke to find herself on these familiar grounds, with her family gathered around her, with Wolveroonie so close and so worried, she knew she'd be okay.
But Wolvy's not here any more. Even he died. Even he was killed. Tears well in her red eyes. Every spot on these grounds holds another memory of her surrogate father. She can't walk the school grounds without thinking of him, and of Angie, and of Everett, and of the Professor, and of so many others who she's loved and lost. She swallows down the tight lump forming in her throat and asks herself again the same question that's been pounding away at her mind for hours. What the Hell is she doing here?!
She remembers swearing that she was done with the X-Men. She remembers walking away, knowing that those who remained no longer cared about her, and promising herself she wouldn't put herself through trying to be something she can't be. She's a Vampire, and there's not a damn thing she can do about it. She already felt like she no longer belonged here back when she was just a normal human again, but when she became a Vampire, those who agreed with her that she no longer belonged here, and even some of those who had still acted like they cared about her, no longer trusted her. They still expect her to bite them when they close their eyes at night. She even catches Storm looking at her funny sometimes.
But yet, she's here, and with the responsibilities she's just allowed to be placed upon her, she's not going anywhere any time soon. What was she thinking when she allowed them to place her in charge of this new group? She's gotta be crazy. That's the only thing that would explain it. She can't bear another death on her conscience, but how she is supposed to lead a team when she's still trying to figure out who she is, what she is?
Jubilee raises her eyes to the golden orange rays of the setting sun. She used to love this time of the year. Spring is in bloom. The days are getting longer and hotter. Soon, Summer will be here, and she's always loved Summer -- but that was when she loved to party. That's another thing she can't do any more. And besides, even if she could, who would she party with? The baby on her back? The kids looking to her for guidance and protection? People who she's supposed to trust with her life, with theirs, but who fear her every move?
That's the answer, she realizes, the breath that she only sucks in these days out of habit catching in her throat. That's the answer right there: She doesn't trust the X-Men, not any more. Too much has changed. Too much has happened. Far too many have died. The X-Men she knew and loved as a child would never have allowed one of their own to kill the Professor. The Wolverine she admired, upon whose every word she had once hung, would never have gone down and not gotten back up, and admittedly, even after the Professor was killed, she still trusted Logan to do what was right and protect the kids who needed him.
That's what she's doing here. Wolvy took the job of Headmaster not because he thought he could do it or was the right person for the position. He took it, because he was the only thing standing between those kids and certain, if eventual, death. Now he's gone. The unstoppable has been stopped, and in his wake, there's nobody left to protect the kids of the next generation except for those who are too busy looking over their shoulders at their own team mates to be able to protect the innocents who need them.
That's what she's doing here: She's continuing her Wolveroonie's work. She's continuing the Professor's dream, not just by fighting for a better world that she's wondered more than once will ever come to happen but by protecting the next generation of mutants in that world. And she will protect them, from Vampires, from humans, from mutants, from space aliens, from whatever they need protecting from. She will protect them and fight for them and guide them as best she can --
And yet, she can't even guide herself worth a damn. Shogo gurgles suddenly, sounding like he's giggling. "You laughin' at me, squirt?" she asks jestingly, moving him from her back. She looks down into his face and suddenly feels so much wiser. She still believes in the Professor's dream. She still believes in a X-Men group that's more than a team, that's a family. She still believes in guarding these kids until her very last breath, and it appears that Bishop was right after all this time: She is going to be the last X-Man standing. Being a Vampire will keep her Immortal and fighting for a long, long time to come, as long as she doesn't get her head chopped off.
She shakes her head, looking into her baby's eyes, and watching him laugh. He claps his hands together, then places them on her chin. He's clearly not afraid of her, and neither is the young woman standing close to her, whose presence Jubilee remembers as Roxie shifts her weight subtly closer to her. "Would you like me to lay him down for his nap?"
Jubilee nods. "Yeah," she says. "Yeah. Do that, please." She places her little one into Roxie's hands and is struck with the realization again that so many young lives are being placed into her own hands. Her eyes flick up to Roxie's. "Thanks."
She nods and smiles brightly at her. "Sure."
She's not alone, Jubilee thinks. Roxie's been walking with her all this time, not saying a word, not putting any pressure on her, just waiting for a chance to help her. She watches her closest friend walk her baby into the school that's been a home for her for so long and is meant to be a home for them all for a much longer time. The X-Mansion is home, she thinks. It always will be, no matter how many times it's rebuilt or where else in the world she goes.
She turns toward the setting sun again as a breeze picks up. Her mind travels back again, this time to the day she came home from Generation X with a single mission in mind: to get Wolverine's butt together for him. Even the Professor and Ororo had been unable to reach him, but she told him like it was and he snapped back to his normal self. Maybe she needs somebody to tell her like it is now, but she's the only one who's going to do it.
Kitty gave her this job, and she did so for a reason. They are two of the few who haven't allowed what's happened to tear them completely up inside, and they're both Wolverine's daughters. They're following a legacy left not just by the Professor but by Logan too. They're doing his work, because he's no longer here to do it.
Tears trickle down Jubilee's pale face. She wipes them away and turns again to look at the school through her hot pink shades. Her shades can hide her eyes from her students. They can leave them wondering what she's really thinking, maybe make the fact that they can't see her red eyes help them not to fear her so easily and senselessly. They can hide her emotions from the outside world, but she can't hide from her own emotions.
Wolvy's not the only one dead. He's not the only one she misses every day, not the only one for whom she grieves constantly even if his loss is the greatest burden on her heart. She's loved and lost so very, very many. She thinks of little Illyana who died from the Legacy Virus and of Jean, who gave her life so many times to save her friends and family, never once expecting that they'd come so close to doing themselves in. She thinks of Everett who was taken from them all far too soon and through a means that had very little to do with mutant powers. She thinks of Angie, who was never very much of a fighter and should never have been on the front lines. She thinks of Sean, who gave his life to save humans. Turning, her red eyes scanning the grounds again, she thinks of the day when so many mutants were brought together and crucified on these very grounds, herself included.
She's known too much pain, too much death in the short years that feel like several lifetimes she's been with the X-Men. And now there's a new group of kids trying to grow up with the X-Men, trying to grow up with her family. She's not really here for herself. She's here for them, for Shogo, for Wolvy, and for the Professor, for Sean, Ev, and Angie. She's here to make sure what happened before doesn't happen again, that history, as Cassidy liked to say it would if those still living didn't learn from it, doesn't repeat itself again. She's here to make sure there's as few causalities as possible.
This is the beginning of a new era, she thinks, walking into the school, and the closing of an old one. She still feels Wolvy, the Professor, Angie, and all the others moving with her every day over these grounds and through the hallways of the school. She feels them, because they're still with her. She learned from them. She loved them, and they will always be a part of her. Every one of them will always hang close to her heart, her mind, her soul, and everything she does. But they are dead now while these new students' lives are just beginning.
Grim determination sets into Jubilee as she reenters the school. These lives which have been placed into her care are just beginning to learn their way, but she's here to help them. She's here to make certain they don't just get killed in the line of duty or while caught between the X-Men who are meant to fight and the villains who are determined to take over the world. She's here to keep these kids alive, and that's exactly what she's going to do.
"Hey! That's my book! Give me back my book!"
"Don't you mean diary?" a voice taunts back as Jubilee turns into the hallway where a group of boys are gathered around a lone girl.
She smirks, lifts her fingers, and remembers with little pain that she no longer has the ability to shoot fireworks. Everything changes, it seems as times, but there are some times that never change. "Give the girl back her diary." Her words come out in a low, dangerous growl. Jubilee's eyes smile behind her shades as just the hint of fangs display from her unsmiling lips. They can't see her smile. They don't know half the things she does. They haven't experienced what she's endured, or the loves she's known. They don't know Wolverine, but they will one day. She sounds an awful lot like him, which is what's brought the smile to her red eyes. The boys hurry to obey her.
"We were just having a bit of fun."
"We didn't mean any harm, Miss Jubilee."
She nods. "Next time you wanna have fun, pick somebody else, not one of our own, to make fun of."
Jubilee passes through them, glances at the girl who hugs her diary to her chest and then takes off running. A girl with long, blonde hair and a shy nature that reminds her of her old room mate, Paige Guthrie. Yeah, some things change. Sometimes, everything seems to change, but some things still and always remain the same, like this place, these walls. The X-Men have changed so much that some days she barely seems to recognize the team, but this school is still her home. And she's still Wolverine's sidekick, his unofficially adopted daughter, the girl that's going to make what he wanted to happen since he's no longer able to. Most of these kids don't know him, but they will. She'll make certain of it, and she'll make him proud while she does it.
I'm home, Wolvy, she thinks, but the halls echo with the lack of his gruff but endearing voice. He's not here, but he is still with her. And she's going to make him proud.