Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Chamber/Jubilee, past Skin/Jubilee, past Chamber/Husk
Challenge/Prompt: fffc s61: Blue (Completes a line bingo.)
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 1,875
Date Written: 27 November 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
“How do you do it?” Jubilee asked late one night, looking imploringly into his soulful eyes.
Jono blinked under her gaze. How do I do what? he asked.
“You’ve endured so much,” she said, “gone through so much, lost so much. But you keep goin’.”
I’m a tough, ole guy. They know they can’t kill me.
“And you know,” she said, her eyes keeping contact with his though he tried his best to look away from her, “that’s not what I mean.”
He would have sighed if he had a mouth; she felt it in the drop of his shoulders and the whisper from his mind to hers. There’s not much choice, he said, still trying to be evasive, really.
“Oh, yeah, there is. Angie told me about the pact you two had.”
He what?! Jono snapped.
“He told me,” she said, her red eyes gazing steadfastly into his darkening orbs. “He didn’t want you to be alone. Ever. He was afraid I’d think somethin’ else was up if he just up an’ left one night without explainin’ what was goin’ on, an’ then . . . when we went to come back to Westchester . . . I think he knew something was gonna happen. He made me promise that if, for any reason, he couldn’t be there for you, I’d be there.”
He knew, Jono whispered, awed. Y’know, more than once, I thought that chap might be a little psychic.
Jubilee shrugged. “Frost used to say I had a latent telepathic ability. Now look at me. I’m not even a mutant any more.” She hadn’t intended to let her emotions out, but the sentence ended with an angry snarl, her eyes and fangs both flashing with her fury, aggravation, and shame.
That doesn’t change who you are, he said, reaching a hand out for hers.
“Doesn’t it?!” she snapped. “Most of the other X-Men don’t even want to look at me anymore, let alone be my friend! My own family kicked me out, and they’re a family of freaks to begin with!”
They didn’t kick you out, Jubilation.
“Well, no, but they would have if Wolvy hadn’t been here! Half the team wanted to hand me over to the Vamps, an’ the other half wanted to stake me!”
Yeah? Then why’re you still here? Why does Pryde have you teachin’ a class?
She sighed. “Some days,” she admitted, “I really don’t know. She could’ve chosen anybody else and gotten a better person for the job.”
No. Jono shook his head. She couldn’t have. You’re the right person for the job.
“No, I’m not,” Jubilee said dismissively, her eyes finally dropping from his. “They’re just stuck with me.” She glances at the baby playing with alphabet blocks in the middle of her floor. “Like Shogo is. I’m not the best there is at what I do, Jono; I’m just the only one there is to do it.”
Really? He raised an eyebrow at her. What happened to ‘she could’ve gotten anybody else for the job’?
“She could have,” Jubilee insisted, “but she didn’t. She chose me. I don’t know why.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what Wolvy said to her before he . . . before he died.” A tear slipped down the Vampire’s face. “She’s kinda trying to pick up his pieces, an’ I guess I’m one o’ those pieces.”
And she believes in you, Jubilation, Vampire, mutant, or whatever. She believes in you. So did Angie. So do I.
Jubilee fell silent for a while, but then, as Jono moved to leave, she finally looked up at him again. “You never answered my question.”
What question, Lee?
“Don’t be coy, Jono. You know exactly th’ one I’m talkin’ about. How do you do it? Night after night, how do you escape it all?”
I don’t escape it. I live with it. But, he relented, I can tell you what makes it easier.
“What?” she asked, suddenly feeling rather breathless. Breathing wasn’t something she needed to do any longer as a Vampire, but it was an old habit in which she still often indulged -- and often missed when she caught herself not doing it.
Remembering. Thinking. Remembering the good. Thinking about th’ one person who makes everything I’ve endured worth it. For Ange, that was you. For me, . . . I used to like picture Paige, he admitted, lowering his eyes again from hers. Especially her eyes. That gel’s got th’ most beautiful, blue eyes. When we were younger, it was like I could see th’ purity she held there in her eyes. ‘Course I wasn’t pure even back then. I don’t think I’ve ever been pure.
“We were all children once,” she said, but she didn’t laugh. She understood what it meant. Her innocence had been so long gone that she couldn’t even remember a time when she had felt pure. Her earliest memories involved finding her parents dead and wanting, with everything in her, to keep the bastards who had killed them, something she had never done. Now that she was a Vampire . . . Yeah, she wouldn’t hesitate a second to drink Reno’s blood or Molokai’s. Maybe the others were right to be afraid of her.
No, Jono said firmly, making her almost jump. Sorry. Telepath, he reminded her, an’ you were kinda screamin’ just now.
She lowered her head. “I didn’t mean to be,” she said, watching Shogo play.
I know, he acknowledged softly, sitting down beside her, and I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I’m glad I did. He placed a comforting hand on her knee. None o’ ‘em should be afraid of you, Lee. So what if you’ve got a blood lust? So did Wolverine, an’ look at how they felt about him. Most o’ ‘em would’ve followed ‘im anywhere.
“Yeah,” she agreed, “but that was only after he earned their trust, and that kinda took years.”
So win it back. Earn it back. You’re already doin’ a good job, and you’ve already got several o’ us behind you.
“Do I?” She looked back up to his eyes.
Sure. You’ve got me, Pryde, Paige, --
“She offered to give me free sessions, you know.”
His loud, mental bark of laughter surprised her. Sorry, he said, blushing as much as he ever came to doing so, but you gotta admit we could all use that.
She giggled, actually giggled for the first time in she didn’t know how long when she wasn’t playing with Shogo. Her baby looked up, smiled at her, and gurgled happily. He thought everything was fine, and she wanted him to keep believing that as long as possible.
“But what about you?” she asked, looking back up to Jono. “What do you do now? You don’t still picture Paige, do you? I mean, no offense, but after she’s been with the Toad of all people -- “
We’re not supposed to judge each other, Lee, he said quietly, but no, I don’t. I . . . try to think of other people. Like you sometimes.
She looked at him in wide-eyed surprise. “Me?”
Yeah. You. You’re an inspiration.
“I am not!”
Jubilee, you’re more o’ a kid than any of us, an’ somehow you’ve managed to hold on to that part despite everythin’ you’ve been through. That’s why Kitty chose you for th’ job: you can relate to those kids. Most o’ ‘em already trust you while th’ rest o’ us could be workin’ for years to actually earn their trust.
“They like you -- “
Yeah, they like me, but like isn’t th’ same thing as trust, Lee. You know that.
“I . . . I guess you’re right.”
He squeezed her knee. I know I’m right. Th’ world keeps tryin’ to knock you down, but you keep comin’ back, roarin’ back at it. Hell, you’ve got a baby now who you love an’ dote on just like you were his real mum -- “
“I am his mom!”
Yeah. He would have smiled if he’d had a mouth. I’ve been meanin’ to take you out to celebrate that for a while now.
“Really?” she asked in surprise.
Yeah. What do you say we stay inside? he asked after a moment. You’re a Vampire. This isn’t late for you. I’m wide awake, and we don’t have classes tomorrow. It’s not like either o’ us need to eat. An’ I think there’s a channel playin’ Rudolph.
“Rudolph?” she repeated in surprise, her eyebrows arching again. “Really, Jono?”
’Course! He was a mutant reindeer!
Jubilee burst out laughing. “Okay,” she relented when she’d finally calmed, wiping tears from her red eyes. “I never thought of it that way before.”
Sure. Besides, won’t this be Shogo’s first time o’ seeing it?
“Yeah,” she answered in surprise, reaching down and pulling the baby up into her arms. Her eyes met his again as she straightened up with Shogo in her lap. They both suddenly felt the desire to breathe again although neither needed to.
Jubilee’s eyes were blood red now, far from Paige’s pretty, blue shade, but that didn’t matter to Jono. He saw his past and present in her gaze, a reminder of the hard years they had both endured and struggled through and everything they were trying to do in the current day. She was the one he thought of now when he needed to calm himself down, or when he needed to fight through impossible odds. She was the one he was fighting every day and through every battle to reach. And he was beginning to see his future in her eyes as well.
Jono blinked as the television suddenly came to life. Noise and voices blared out. He tore his gaze away from Jubilee’s and thought again of Angie, the dear friend they had both lost. We won’t be alone, Angie, he thought, noticing Jubilee’s hand slip onto the cushion between them. He covered her hand with his own and gaze it a gentle squeeze. Neither o’ us.
“What channel’s it on?”
Five, I think, he answered, and although he proved to be right, he paid little attention to the animated, Christmas special. He spent the entire thirty minutes instead watching Jubilee and her baby out of the corner of his eyes and dreaming of finally having his own, real family this Christmas.