Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
A bath, hot meal and some sleep went a long way toward returning Jubilee's
usual good humor. With her new perspective, she was able to see the pluses
of going on a great adventure.
Or, one plus, at least.
A cute boy.
His name was Alyn Battim, and he was Risa's brother. He was about her age,
and a dead ringer for a young George Clooney, minus the dorky "Facts of
Life"-era hair. His hair, in fact, was one of the cutest things about him, a
thick, straight, rich brown mess that flopped down over his brow in an
unbelievably endearing way. And then there were his eyes, a melted-chocolate
brown, remarkably intense as they stared into hers while he asked question
after question about her world.
Rather than finding all that inquisitiveness annoying, Jubilee found it kind
of intoxicating to have all that intensity focused on her. She couldn't
remember the last time a guy paid that much attention to her. He was hanging
on her every word, though she doubted he really understood half of what she
was telling him. After all, how could one understand the true glory of The
Mall without experiencing it oneself?
"And what is this ... pizza?" he asked, never taking his eyes off her face.
Jubilee laughed. "Alyn, you'll just have to come back with us for a visit.
Experience it all yourself."
Risa, who was sprawled on the floor of Sidre's house next to them, laughed.
"You are wasting your time on that one, Jubilee," she said. "He will barely
leave our house. His books might miss him if he left."
"Risa ..." he said, laughter tingeing the warning in his voice.
"Besides," his sister continued. "He might have an *adventure* if he left
home, and The One knows what a nightmare that would be!"
"Enough, sister," Alyn said, blushing in what Jubilee thought was an
extremely cute way.
Jubilee grinned. It had been a while since she'd had a good crush.
It was certainly a distraction, something she needed since she'd discovered
that her best friend was a princess. Here she'd been living with royalty all
these years and hadn't even known it. Of course, neither had the princess in
"I'm a ... princess," Rogue said flatly when Sidre had revealed the truth.
"Do you suppose," Rogue had asked Jubilee pleasantly, "that they have such a
thing as crack in this world?" Before she got an answer, she continued.
"Sorry. Got the wrong girl. I'm from *Mississippi*. No princesses there."
"That may well be, Emmarie," Sidre said, stressing the name. "But the fact
remains that you got to your Mississippi because I took you there. Along
with your guardian." She frowned. "Although I do wonder what has happened to
"My name is *Rogue*, and ... did you say Captain Logan?" She and Jubilee
looked at each other. What were the chances?
"I do know a Logan," Rogue said slowly. "But he's not my guardian. He's ..."
She obviously didn't know what to say about him.
Unfortunately, Jubilee did. "Dude, you've got the hots for your *baby
sitter*! Isn't that a little ..." she trailed off as she remembered that
Rogue was having major Logan issues at the moment. Open mouth, insert foot.
And while you're at it, prepare to have your ass kicked.
Luckily, Rogue had more important things on her mind and simply rolled her
eyes instead of pounding the snot out of her friend. Sidre gave a perfect
description of Logan, down to the pointy hair and growliness, and even Rogue
Sidre had taken Rogue with her to get supplies for a trip. Sidre was certain
that Logan would be following close behind, and since she needed to visit
someone in his home anyway -- someplace called Roan, in the Forest of Marn
-- they were going to wait for him there. She still wouldn't say why Rogue
had been taken away or why she'd come back. But she did promise that Rogue
would learn to control her skin.
Jubilee had approximately a million other questions, and she wondered why
Rogue couldn't see that they hadn't learned much more than they knew when
they first showed up. Her mind was obviously preoccupied with the Logan
concept and the thought that she would soon be able to touch. Jubilee had
been accused of having an overly suspicious nature, but she couldn't help
wondering if Sidre had told her those things specifically to keep her mind
occupied. Obviously Jubilee would have to be the one who watched out for
Rogue this time.
Of course, her track record in that department so far wasn't exactly
They left before dawn, and Jubilee leaned against Rogue, who was propped up
by the wall, yawning. It was cold enough that their breath came out in
clouds of vapor, but at least this time they were properly dressed. Both
Rogue and Jubilee had flatly refused to wear dresses, choosing instead to
wear tunics and slim pants like Risa, along with boots and the cloaks they
had been wearing before.
Sidre and Risa were packing bags that Jubilee was sure she was going to have
to help carry. That alone was enough to ruin the morning. Though Jubilee had
hoped for an SUV, van or at least a wagon and horses, it appeared they were
going to do more walking on this journey. Perfect.
"Rogue," Sidre said, apparently willing to use that name as long as the girl
followed her own plans. "Please go fetch your cousin. She is late. Four
houses down on the left."
Rogue straightened. "My what?"
Jubilee wasn't psychic, but she just knew what was coming next. Suddenly she
understood why blondie looked so familiar. "Celeste. Your cousin." Sidre
scanned their faces. "I thought she had told you."
Again, Jubilee had the feeling that Sidre was just playing them. She knew
damn well that nobody was answering their questions with anything but "Ask
Sidre." Rogue didn't seem to notice. Jubilee determined to keep an eye or
two on Sidre. She didn't care for being manipulated.
"She's my cousin?" Rogue didn't sound as appalled by the idea as Jubilee
would have been. But maybe the idea of having real family members who were
like her was appealing. No wonder Celeste had been able to touch Rogue. She
probably had the same power.
"I am," Celeste said coldly, appearing next to Risa, apparently out of thin
air. "Or so they say."
Rogue ignored the frosty tone. "Were our parents siblings, then?"
Celeste sighed and turned her back on them, testing one of the bags for
weight. Finally, she answered. "Our mothers were sisters, and your father
was my father's cousin."
Rogue hummed to herself and sank back against the wall. Sometimes her
friend was hard to read, but it was easy to see that Rogue was pondering her
parents. Her real parents, not some jerks who kicked her out when she turned
out to be a mutie freak. Rogue didn't talk much about what her life was like
before Xavier's, but what little Jubilee knew wasn't very happy.
Unfortunately, that was life for a lot of mutant kids.
Sidre gathered them together and handed out bags to carry. Jubilee found
that the straps on the bag could be placed to balance the weight of the bag
perfectly on her back. It wasn't too bad, though she dreaded setting out
carrying anything at all. Again she wished for a good plane, train or
automobile. But she got something better.
"Here, let me carry that," Alyn appeared beside her, smiling and tugging at
"Hold up!" she laughed, falling off balance and ending up in his arms.
Technically speaking, she could have avoided the fall, but where was the fun
in that? She found she enjoyed the position quite a lot, though she could do
without Rogue smirking at her exaggerated clumsiness. She thought of
flipping her friend off but decided not to risk it. She had no idea if Alyn
-- or worse, Sidre -- would know what it meant.
Instead, she pushed herself out of his arms and smiled. "Are you trying to
knock me down?"
The sweetie actually looked worried that she thought that. "Oh, no. I only
was offering to carry your bag for you."
Before Jubilee could answer, Risa piped in from behind him. "Alyn, you get
your own bag to carry."
It finally sunk in that Alyn was coming with them. Morning plus Jubilee did
not equal quickness of thought. "You're coming with us? But what if we run
into an adventure?"
Risa laughed, but Alyn looked perfectly serious. "I suppose you will have to
protect me, Jubilation Lee," he said.
"Will do," she managed before Risa dragged him off to find his pack.
"Cute," Rogue said softly. "Do his arms feel as strong as they look?"
"Mmmm-hmmm," Jubilee hummed. "Stay away, girl. I'd fight you for that one."
Rogue snorted. "Do I look like I want sparklers up my ass? No man is worth
"Not even your guardian?" Jubilee snuck a look at her friend, who was
frowning. "Don't you think it's odd that he was supposed to protect you, and
then he ended up saving your life, like, multiple times? That's fate, babe."
"I don't know. This whole thing is just --"
Sidre clapped her hands and motioned to the road in the opposite direction
from where they'd come. That was apparently leaderspeak for "let's get a
move on." Sighing, Rogue and Jubilee fell in line behind Celeste, who was
back to ignoring them. Rogue moved slightly ahead, leaving room for Alyn to
walk next to Jubilee. Jubilee smiled at her friend's back, then turned to
face a day of question and answer with Alyn.
They had quickly passed out of the town and into more grasslands, coming
upon a house from time to time. The houses became more rare, finally
disappearing altogether as they headed into a wooded area. This area seemed
fairly well traveled, because the path was pretty clear and smooth. Whatever
enemies they had were apparently not nearby, because they made no effort to
be quiet. Risa and Alyn even sang for part of the way, their voices blending
wonderfully, making Jubes wish she could carry a tune and join in.
They walked for two days, stopping for several short breaks during the day
and for five or six hours at night. Jubilee would collapse the second they
stopped, frankly pretty proud of herself for not whining. Not that she had
much of a chance to whine, with Alyn peppering her with questions all day
He was a wonderful distraction, though, and she reassured him of that
whenever he worried that he was annoying her. He offered at least 10 times a
day to carry her pack as well as his own. She turned him down, though she
was tempted to let him a few times. As long as Celeste was carrying her
bag, Jubilee wasn't going to wimp out.
Near the end of the second day, they started to see houses in the forest.
Most of them were wood, though a few used stone as well. Jubilee thought it
was odd that she saw no people, but Alyn whispered that the Untamed -- the
residents of this area -- kept to themselves and only made themselves known
if they wanted to speak with you. Apparently nobody did. Sidre kept them
walking too fast to stop and chat, anyway.
"This is where Logan is from?" Rogue asked, though Jubilee didn't think it
was really a question.
"He is from the town, Roan," Sidre answered. "We will be there soon."
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