Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Shadowcat, Jubilee
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog Amnesty: 90: Repair and gameofcards: Two Character Meme (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team Clubs sent YOU!)
Warning(s): Spoilers, Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,610
Date Written: 11 December 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
With her fingers steepled and her legs crossed before her, Kitty looks expectantly to the door of her office, the same office that once belonged to Wolverine, the same office that never should have had to belong to anyone but the Professor who started everything they strive to do every day here. Jubilee will be here soon, and she’s still struggling to find the words to phrase the question she so desperately needs to ask her. Maybe she shouldn’t have called for her. Maybe she shouldn’t be asking her anything else at all.
Hasn’t she already asked enough of her, calling on her to lead a team of mutants when she’s still a kid herself and raising a baby for whom she doesn’t have to care to boot? Not that she’d ever asked her to take care of Shogo. Jubilee had seen something in the kid, she once confessed to Kitty, that reminded her of herself. She’s never once let him go since everything began, and despite being unable to spend large amounts of time in the sunshine with him and still being so young herself, she’s already proven herself a far more capable mother than many of the actual mothers Kitty’s known over the years.
But they’re still both so young, she thinks, not just Jubilee but herself as well. There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t wonder at least once what she’s doing here, why she’s dared to be so naive as to take repairing not only her family but all the X-teams she’s been able to draw together, the school, and the Dream itself all on her shoulders. Somebody had to do it. That’s often her argument, coupled with the fact that no one else had been moving to do what needed to be done. The others who could have done it are either gone or broken themselves, and yet every one of them has come to her in privacy and told her that she doesn’t have to do this alone.
She isn’t doing it alone, she’s told them all, but there are times, too many times really, when she feels like she is. Yes, she has her friends and family spread across their mission. Everyone who still lives and is still with them, not having gone rogue or evil or to another team that doesn’t just include mutants or simply insane, is playing an important part in pulling everything they’ve always stood for back together again. She is not alone. So then, why does she feel so utterly alone so often?
Kitty drops her pose with a heavy sigh raking her shoulders. Her feet hit the floor. Her elbows crash onto her desk, and her head lowers, with another sigh, into her hands. She’s so tired of feeling like she has to carry this weight alone, like everything hinges on her. She’s too young for so many, heavy responsibilities. That’s the whole reason why she’d escaped to college while she’d been able, and yet the whole time she’d been away at school, she’d been grieving and constantly thinking about her friends and family, the remaining members of whom are gathered here to this very spot and underneath her protection.
She’s been traveling the world and saving lives, sometimes even the universe, since she was fourteen years old. This is the first time she’s led a full team on a full time basis, but it isn’t the first time she’s led a team. She’s led several missions in the past and came out mostly on the winning side every time. She’s not unaccustomed to responsibility. She’s saved the bloody universe, as Wisdom would’ve said!
Captain America came looking for her when she’d spent time with SHIELD, not the other way around. She held her own in outer space against all kinds of odds and was an equal partner to Starlord, thus the reason why she had, for a time, adopted the name of Starlady. She’s saved the world. She’s saved the universe! She’s saved lives time and time again, and she has proven herself time and time again!
So why, then, does she continue to question her ability to do what she’s claimed she’s going to do? Why does she continue to feel like she’s out of her league this time? There’s no one else who can do what she’s doing. There’s no one else who’s willing to. She’d waited for Ororo to pick up the reins. She’d waited for Nightcrawler to come to his senses and pull the team back together. She’d even waited, hoping against hope that, in the wake of their cherished Professor’s death, Magneto would attempt to pull together the X-Men and finally make happen the Dream that Xavier had dedicated his entire life to?
How, she asks herself not even for the thousandth or millionth time, had the Professor done it? He’d started when he was young, but of course back then, he’d only began with five lives depending on him. Kitty closes her eyes and sees face after face flashing through her mind. Some are her loved ones. Some are children. Some are people she barely knows. There’s even a few whose names she does not remember.
The Professor had started with five souls, and he’d almost given up when they had been claimed by Krakoa. Now even Krakoa is depending on her. How is she supposed to save them all? She threads her fingers through her brown hair, thinking it’s a good thing it’s short enough now that she can’t just snatch it out by the handfuls. She rubs her temples and then hears her door open.
Kitty snatches away from her desk, sitting bolt upright and looks wide-eyed as Jubilee enters the room. She trudges toward her, her yellow trench coat flapping around her bare knees, and Kitty notes that she’s wearing the same old, pink bunny slippers she’d worn often when they’d first met. God, had that really only been a few years ago when they’d met while Illyana had been dying? It seems like several lifetimes ago!
“You called?” Jubilee asks, plopping down unceremoniously before her. Kitty glances at the door behind her, but Jubilee had barely pushed it open and it’s swung itself closed.
“I . . . “ Kitty rubs her temples again as her voice trails off and she wonders once more how to properly phrase this question. Maybe, she thinks again, she shouldn’t have called for Jubilee. Maybe she is going crazy, and if she is, she doesn’t need anybody to know it, least of all one of the loudest mouths she’s ever known.
But for all her fallacies, Jubilee is the closest thing Kitty’s ever known to a sister. She’s closer to Rachel and Illyana both, of course, but their relationships goes far beyond mere siblings. Ray’s already picked up her recent thoughts, Kitty knows, but she hasn’t called her on them. She’s been waiting for her to come to her, Kitty knows too, but she needs someone who might feel closer to what she’s feeling herself. She needs someone who has also grown up with the X-Men, who’s been leading missions since she was still a kid herself, who was also a surrogate daughter to the world-renowned Wolverine.
“Well?” Jubilee questions expectantly. “I’m here now. What’s up, Pryde?”
Mutely, Kitty shakes her head. The girl before her still looks just like that: a girl, a kid, seemingly no older than she was when they first met. Jubilee pulls her hot pink sunglasses down her nose and probes, “Well? You gonna keep staring, or are you gonna ask me whatever it is you meant to ask me?”
When Kitty still doesn’t answer, Jubilee asks, “Is this about my kids? I know the boys are getting a bit out of hand, but I’ve got it under control, I promise. They need some room to explore, to find themselves, and I’m giving ‘em that, but I’m not gonna let them do anything too crazy.”
“If it’s about the Monet situation, Jono and I are on it. We’ve worked up a plan. We just have to find her now, and that’s just a matter of time, and -- “
“No,” Kitty says quietly, interrupting her. “No, it’s not about any of that.”
“What is it?” Jubilee asks, staring at her. She’s about to ask something more, but as Kitty gazes across her desk into Jubilee’s blood red eyes, she sees something different in the girl at last. She still looks like the same kid, but she’s not a kid any longer. Neither of them are, but they’re doing what they can to make this crazy world a better place and helping all those who God places in their pathway as best they can.
She’s not doing a bad job as leader, Kitty reasons, not as headmistress or as field leader. She’s even handling being the official homo superior liaison to the government pretty well, all things considered. And she’s finally got a handle on her feelings for Piotr and Rachel as well. The problem, she recognizes, isn’t in a lack of capability or even a fear over her possible incapabilities. The problem is that she’s afraid. She’s afraid she’s going to somehow mess things up, but the voices she’s been hearing lately are making her even more afraid, afraid of inevitable failure, afraid that she’s slipping, afraid that she’s finally, after all she’s endured, going crazy.
“Jubilee,” she asks hesitantly, “do you ever . . . hear them?”
Jubilee’s gum pops across her face, and she licks it back into her mouth. It’s a nasty habit, and one Vampires don’t need, but it’s a habit she’s already had and, Kitty figures, probably one that helps with her own nerves, much like Wisdom’s smoking used to help him . . . back when he’d still been alive and trying, as she is now, to make the best out of a bad situation. Jubilee’s skin seems to darken a little, and Kitty wonders if it’s possible for a Vampire to blush. “Them who?” Jubes asks.
When Kitty hesitates again to answer, Jubilee suggests, “Wolverine? I hear him all the time. You know he had more than his fair share of ghosts too. He was always hearing, or seeing, somebody who’d been long dead. He didn’t talk about it often, but I’m glad now I listened when I did.”
“Not just Wolvy -- “ Kitty starts.
“No,” Jubilee agrees, shaking her head. “I hear Ange all the time too, and Ev. Sometimes I hear Sean yelling or telling me what to do -- “ She grins. “ -- or trying to tell me what to do.”
“But what about . . . “ Kitty asks hesitantly, “What about the ones who are still alive? Jubilee, I hear all those voices and more, but sometimes I . . . I hear Ororo calling me Kitten.” She carefully doesn’t mention that this is usually during her saddest moments. “And sometimes I do more than hear. Sometimes I can feel her arms around me, sometimes Kurt’s.” Sometimes Piotr’s. “But they’re all still alive.”
“They’re still ghosts,” Jubilee says with a knowing grin. “They’re ghosts of our memories. I don’t pick up on the Elf or Ororo, but sometimes I can hear Paige in my head back from our days in the first Generation X. I hear Frost too, usually bitching because I’ve done something wrong. And I’ll hear Rogue sometimes, and Gambit, and X-23 . . . “
“Why?” Kitty asks her, glad she isn’t the only one feeling her loved ones like they’re ghosts from the past even though they’re still alive. “Why when they’re still alive?”
“Because they’re still ghosts too. They’re ghosts of our pasts, and in the moments when they come to us, we need ‘em for some reason or another. Wolvy once told me he could feel me sometimes standing with him even though I was away at school. It helped him to calm down, to do what was right instead of just kill the scumbags he actually let live. You know Scott and the Professor never got anywhere with him on that, but I did. For some reason.”
“Because you were good,” Kitty replies, the corners of her weary mouth beginning to pull up into a small smile. “You were pure. And he wanted to keep you that way. He tried the same thing with me, but it didn’t work. Ojun didn’t let it. But you were lucky. You didn’t have that Demon on you.”
“But I had other Demons,” Jubilee admits.
“We all have our Demons,” Kitty tells her.
Jubilee nods and agrees, “And we all have our ghosts, Pryde. It’s nothing unusual you’re hearing them in your head now. You’re grown up, but your mother figures, your father figures, even your big brother figures, they all taught you and helped you become the woman you are today, the woman who can totally lead this team and lead this Dream finally into a reality.”
“You really think so?” Kitty asks in surprise.
“Would I be here if I didn’t?”
Kitty starts to say she thinks she would, because she’s offered her a place to live without prejudices and where she can raise her adopted son safely. But Jubilee is here for much larger reasons than that. She isn’t running from anything. She’s running to something, the same things they’ve all come here for: the Dream, the loved ones who are no longer with them, the family who still exists. Shutting her mouth, she just nods that she understands instead.
“You’re going to do it, Pryde, and we’re all going to be here with you to see it happen. And those who aren’t, like Wolvy and the Professor and Jean and Scott, they’re looking down on you. They’re guiding you every step, and they’re loving what they see.”
Kitty’s humbled by her words. “And you believe it?”
“I do -- “ Jubilee starts to say, but anything more she might say is drowned out by Shogo’s wail. “He just woke up from his nap,” she says, almost apologetically. “I need to get a bottle down him before I get ready to teach. Me. Teaching! Who’d’ve thunk?” She grins.
“I would have,” Kitty answers, standing, “and Logan would have to. He used to believe you’d be the next one to lead the X-Men.”
Jubilee stares at her. “He did?” she asks softly.
Kitty nods. “He did.” She shrugs. “Last X-Man and all that, I guess.” But her smile suggests that there are far deeper reasons behind his belief, and her own, that Jubilee can do all she’s already doing today.
“Maybe I will lead the X-Men one day,” Jubilee replies, “but that’s gonna be a long time from now, when you’re enjoying retirement like a fat, happy cat.”
“You really think I’m gonna retire one day?”
“Sure,” Jubilee answers with a wide grin, “but it better be a long, long time from now. I’m a Vampire. I’ve got eternity to lead the X-Men. In the meantime, I’m gonna follow you, and I’m gonna be there when you, when we all together, make the Professor’s Dream, our dream, a reality. Deal?”
Kitty beams. “Deal,” she says. Leaning back in her chair, she watches Jubilee leave and smiles. She’s not alone after all, and when she hears the voices in her head again, when she hears Ororo calling her Kitten in her sage, reassuring voice and feels Kurt’s fuzzy, furry arms around her, the spaded end of his long, blue tail gently tapping her leg as they embrace, she just smiles all the more. The Dream is going to become a reality, and they’re going to make it all happen together as the family they’ve always been and the family they will always be.