Masquerade in X 3/?? [Movieverse]
- Disclaimers in previous parts. :)
Masquerade in X
A cheeseburger didn't really seem right with the new
clothes he'd bought her.
Cain watched... Jubilee? Jubilation? It was harder
to tell when they weren't talking or looking at him.
Either way, he watched the girl eating her McPlastic
meal quickly, neatly. The red shirt and black jeans
suited her, strong colours that emphasized her black
hair and bright eyes.
She was so *small*. He'd picked her up again to bring
her in here, before he bought her the crutches that
now leaned against the table, and she'd all but
vanished into his arms. It was like holding a baby,
he guessed, although he'd never held a baby. There
was something about holding something very warm and
tiny in his arms that reached down past all his
defenses to tug at instincts he'd never known he had.
She licked a trace of ketchup off one slim finger and
gave him an inquiring look. "Are you gonna finish
"You have 'em." He pushed them across the table. He
hated fast food anyway. Meat and potatoes, bread and
beer. That was real food.
"Thanks." She dove daintily into the half-eaten
cardboard container of fries. "So what do we do now?"
"Well, you finish eatin', and I take you back to the
hotel and tell Tom we're gonna keep you. Then he's
gonna go nuts." Cain shrugged philosophically.
"Don't pay too much attention to him. He's upset
'cause Terry ran off with the X-Men."
"She's the redhead?" A fry disappeared into her
contemplative expression. "Why'd she change sides?"
"I dunno." Cain knew he looked grim. The girl didn't
seem intimidated, though. "Something about 'doing the
right thing', or some shit like that. Tom raised that
girl from a baby, after her mom died and her dad took
off. She shouldn'ta just run off like that."
The girl nodded gravely. "It's not right to just run
out on someone who's been taking care of you," she
said quietly. "I should call the X-Men. Tell them
I'm okay, at least."
Hell. He'd walked right into that one. "Yeah, I
guess. Just don't tell 'em where we are, keep the
call short, and use a payphone."
She nodded, polishing off the last few fries. "I'll
do that now." She grinned impishly. "I'll ask how
Terry's doing, too. If she's miserable and unpopular
at her new school, maybe Black Tom'll feel better."
Cain brightened a little. "He probably would. You
* * *
"Hello, Xavier School for the Gifted, please wait
while I get a teacher," Bobby rattled off, looking
around frantically for the aforementioned teacher.
There weren't any in sight.
"Bobby? It's me."
He dropped the phone, then cursed and scrabbled on the
floor for it, grabbing it and jerking it up to his ear
so fast that the mouthpiece smacked him in the jaw.
He ignored the incipient bruise, stammering eagerly
into the phone. "Jubilee? Is that you?"
"The one and only," she said with an oddly ironic note
in her voice. "Miss me?"
"Miss... Jubes, we all thought you were DEAD!" Bobby
almost wailed, clutching the phone as if it was a
lifeline. "Where ARE you? Are you okay?"
"I got knocked around a bit, but I'll be fine. Is the
redhead there? The Irish one?"
"Yeah, she came back with us. She mostly just cries a
lot, but she'll probably stop once she finds out she
didn't kill you, and we aren't supposed to hold
knocking the cabin down against her, and..." He
trailed off and frowned. "Jubes, how did you know she
"The Juggernaut told me." Jubilee's voice sounded...
different. Cooler. Less vibrant. "He found me and
took me to a hospital."
"The JUGGERNAUT found y... okay, forget it, that's not
important." Bobby held onto the last fading shreds of
reason with both emotional hands. "Just tell me where
you are, and I'll go find someone, and we'll come and
get you, okay?"
There was a soft, faint sigh on the other end of the
line. "I can't do that, Bobby. Look, when you see
Xavier, could you tell him that I'm sorry about this,
but it just wasn't working out?" Her voice softened a
fraction. "I'll miss you, Bobster. I really will. I
just... need some me time. I'll see you and the guys
A firm click told him that she'd hung up.
He dropped the phone again and raced down the hall
towards the Professor's office.
Xavier was there, in the middle of one of his physics
classes. Bobby didn't even notice the students.
"Professor!" he gasped, knowing that his hands were
shaking and that he probably looked like he'd seen a
ghost. "Professor, Jubilee's alive! And she called,
and she's not coming back!"
The Professor blinked.
Other than that, he showed no sign of peturbation. He
dismissed the students, summoned the other teachers,
and made Bobby sit down and drink a cup of strong tea
while the teachers were filled in.
When Bobby had told his story twice, the second time
repeating his conversation with Jubilee almost
verbatim under a barrage of questions, he made his
He didn't know what to think. The black, heavy grief
of Jubilee's death was gone, just like that, but not
quite. She wasn't coming back. It had all happened
so fast, and he wasn't quite sure how he felt about it
He did know that nobody had told Theresa about Jubilee
yet. The Irish girl had been tearing herself up over
causing Jubilee's death by collapsing the house while
Jubilee was still inside it. The shock of killing
someone, even accidentally, had been what caused her
split with the other two. Nobody really trusted her
He knocked on the door of the room she'd been
assigned. "Theresa?" he called quietly.
"What?" The word cracked a little. Oh, hell, she was
"There's something you should know." He leaned
against the door, trying to sound reassuring. "You
didn't kill anyone, Theresa, okay? Jubilee's alive."
The door opened so fast that he nearly fell through it
and into her arms. "She is?" Theresa demanded, big
green eyes appealingly damp, red hair ruffled around
Bobby nodded, smiling a little. Maybe having Theresa
around wouldn't be so bad. She sure wasn't hard to
look at. "She's not coming back to school, at least
not for a while, but she's fine."
A surprisingly pretty smile bloomed amid the
tearstains on her face. "Thank ye for telling me," she
said softly. "Thinking that I'd... ye know..."
"Yeah." Bobby put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"But it's okay now."
She smiled at him again, and he started to feel a lot
* * *
Jubilation looked at the phone for a long moment, a
Then she reached down inside herself, in a way she'd
discovered a long time ago. Last time, she'd used the
technique to resurrect Jubilee. Now she used it to
slide her other self carefully back where she'd come
from. Jubilee didn't resist as she was reintegrated
back into the core personality. If anything, she
seemed a little relieved. It was hard for an
incomplete persona to get through the day, and they
really did belong together, after all.
It took a few minutes of leaning against the wall to
reintegrate herself properly. They'd been apart for
so long that there were a lot of incongruencies to
When she was done, she opened her eyes again and
smiled a little ruefully. Then she went to find Cain.
He was standing in front of a bookshop, staring
moodily into the window. He looked around when she
came up again, his rather coarse face brightening a
little when he saw her. She smiled a little in
return, liking the pleased look on his face when he
saw her. It was nice to be appreciated.
And not appreciated like *that*, either. She'd gotten
enough of those looks to recognize them, and this
wasn't like that.
Then he frowned a little. "Which one're you?
"Both. I... sort of put myself back into one
personality again." She smiled at him a little shyly.
He wasn't a nice man at all, that was blindingly
obvious... but she was starting to like him. "Like
you said, you know? Living a lie, and all that." She
shrugged, holding her arms out and doing a little
pirouette. "This is who I am. And if people don't
like it, screw them."
He nodded approvingly. "That's right," he agreed.
"Are you done? Can we go?"
"Yup." She nodded. "I called, I talked to Bobby, I
made it sound like I was striking out on my own again.
The Prof's probably firing up Cerebro as we speak to
look for me."
Cain looked a little worried. "Tom told me about that
thing. He said it makes Charlie even more powerful at
brain-poking than he usually is. We should get
She balanced on her crutches and patted one ham-like
hand reassuringly, without even thinking how odd it
must look. "Don't worry, he's not going to find me."
The big forehead furrowed in rather charming
puzzlement. "Why not?"
"Because he's looking for Jubilee," she explained.
"And Jubilee doesn't exist anymore. I'm quite
different... from Jubilee and Jubilation both,
actually. The two combined make a third personality
that has a lot in common with both of them, but isn't
"Oh." Cain nodded in pleased understanding. "I get
it." He looked down at her. "So what should I call
you, if you're not Jubilee or Jubilation?"
"Uh..." She frowned, as they headed out of the mall,
Cain carefully slowing his pace to match hers. She
couldn't go too fast on the crutches yet. "I don't
know. I hadn't thought about that."
"I could keep calling you Jubilation. Or Jubilee." He
shrugged. "That IS your name, right?"
"Yeah, I guess..." She thought about it, and
shrugged. "Jubilee, I guess. That what I got called
when I was a kid."
He gave her a measuring look as they ambled through
the parking lot. "If the X-Geeks are looking for ya,
giving you a new name'd probably be a good idea,
though," he pointed out. "I'll call ya Jubilee, if
that's what you like, but you're gonna need ID in a
different name. Something they can't trace."
Jubilee blinked, and considered this. "Well, my
family name can be spelled with an i instead of two
e's," she said thoughtfully. "And... hmm... oh, I
know." She smiled. "My parents were gonna name me
Zhi-bao, before they thought of Jubilation. How's
He pondered it for a moment, and nodded. "It doesn't
sound anything like yer real name. Li Zhi-Bao it is."
An alias. A False Name. That was just so... neat.
And she was rather impressed that The Muscle That
Walked Like A Man knew enough about Chinese names to
put the family name first, as well as pronouncing it
properly. "Works for me," she agreed. "Let's go
introduce me to your partner."
"He's not gonna like it," Cain predicted as he lifted
her into the jeep.
He didn't like it.
He informed them both, at great length, of just how
much he didn't like it. He cursed, he blasphemed, he
criticized their intellectual capabilities, their
ancestry, and their personal hygiene.
Jubilee took her cue from Cain, who sat on the largest
chair in the hotel room and watched Tom as he paced.
The larger man's face drew gradually into a hurt
expression, and he interspersed little comments like
'Awwww, Tom...' and 'That ain't nice' into Black Tom's
Eventually, the Irishman calmed down a bit and scowled
assessingly at their new recruit. "She's too small to
be any use," he complained, having worked his way
through all the more serious complaints about
untrustworthiness and ignorance.
"Short'll be useful," Cain said placidly, relaxing a
bit. He seemed to think the storm had passed.
"Remember before Terry got too tall and... you
know..." He actually blushed a little, waving his
hands vaguely in front of his chest. "It's handy
having someone little who can wiggle in through
windows and chimneys and stuff."
"I suppose so," Tom grumbled, clearly not sold yet.
"But she probably doesn't know anything useful. We'd
have to train her right from the beginning."
"I can pick pockets pretty good," Jubilee spoke up,
frowning a little. She wasn't *useless*. "And I'm a
good acrobat, and a convincing liar, and my powers are
pretty useful sometimes."
The Irishman gave her a critical look. "What can ye
do with your powers, then?"
"I could incinerate your head right from where I'm
sitting, if you like," she said sweetly. He gave her a
surprised look, and she lifted a hand, summoning a
cluster of pink and blue plasmoids to hover around her
fingers. With a flick of her index finger, she sent
one to burn a neat hole in the carpet between Tom's
feet. "They explode, too, but I won't demonstrate
that one in here. It gets a bit... loud." She
banished them with a snap of her fingers. "They're as
bit or as small as I want them to be, they go where I
tell them to, and they vanish when I want them to go."
For the first time, Tom's frown smoothed out and he
looked... not pleased, exactly, but interested. "Now
that *would* be useful," he conceded. "I can think of
quite a few situations where a little flying explosion
that we can put anywhere we like would be very handy
"Me too," Cain agreed, giving Jubilee an approving
look. "Do you know how big an explosion you can make,
She shook her head. "I never really got a chance to
practice," she explained. "When I was living on the
street I didn't want to call that much attention to
myself, and after the X-Men took me in, they were
focusing on teaching me to 'control' my plasmoids.
Sending 'em through hoops, stuff like that." She
snorted. "Between Cyke and Storm, the X-Men have a
lot of issues around Being In Control and Not Letting
Your Powers Get Away From You." She summoned up
another plasmoid, and let it dance around and between
her fingertips. "I've always been able to control
them... well, after the first few times. That's
always tough. But I've had full control for over a
year now. They do what I want, when I want it. But
no, I don't know just how much they can do, yet."
"That's okay." Cain gave her another approving smile.
"I'll take you out to an abandoned warehouse or
something, and you can see how much damage you can
Jubilee returned the smile. "I'd like that," she
said, with sincere gratitude. She'd been a little
worried about not knowing the limits of her powers -
she might have needed them for something someday, and
found out at the last minute that they weren't strong
Tom looked at her with narrowed eyes, and then he
nodded. "She's got potential," he conceded. "And
since the X-Men have helped themselves to my student,
it's only far enough that I take one of theirs in
return, don't ye think?"
Cain and Jubilee both nodded, but when he turned away
they exchanged an oddly meaningful look. Whatever Tom
might think, Jubilee hadn't joined him. She'd joined
the Juggernaut. They had both had a lot of trouble
being accepted for who and what they were, and it had
made them very lonely, and although they both had
friends now, the idea of having someone around who
really understood them was a very appealing one.
* * *
"I can't find her," Xavier said quietly, meeting
Jean's eyes with sad blue ones.
Jean blinked, feeling downright bewildered.
"Professor... I don't understand. Jubilee isn't a
telepath, and she can't be walking around in a helmet
like Magneto's. Where would she *get* one?"
"I don't know how it happened," Xavier said, shaking
his head and turning his chair to gaze out of the
window of his study. It was raining outside. Storm
was very unhappy today. "But even with Cerebro's
help, I simply cannot find Jubilee. It is as if she
had ceased to exist." Jean felt herself go pale in
horror, and Xavier turned immediately, reaching out to
pat her hand gently and give her a reassuring little
smile. "Don't worry, Jean. I would have felt her
death. She is simply... gone. I can't explain it -
but she is alive."
Jean relaxed a little, and managed a lopsided smile.
"That does make me feel better, Professor... but I
hate to lose her. She's the first student who's ever
voluntarily left the school... well, except Annie and
Marie, but I can understand that. They wanted to be
part of a family for a while."
"Maybe that is Jubilee's reason as well," Xavier said
thoughtfully. "We know that her parents have died,
but whether or not she has any other relatives never
really came up."
"Maybe." Neither of them really believed that, but the
idea of little Jubilee out in the world all on her own
was a terrible one. "At least she's alive. She said
the Juggernaut rescued her, of all people."
"I know." Xavier smiled a little, looking pleased.
"Every now and then my brother does do something
almost selfless, despite his outward display of
villainy. It gives me hope that one day the two of us
will be able to move on from our troubled past, and
Jean frowned. From what she'd seen of the Juggernaut
while he ripped apart their cabin, she didn't have
many hopes in that direction. Still, at least he
didn't seem too inclined to actually *hurt* the
students, just frighten them. "Maybe," she agreed a
little dubiously. Then she brightened. "Theresa is
settling in well."
"Good." The Professor nodded approvingly. "She'll be
an excellent addition to the team, when she's a little
"I agree." Jean smiled, and stood up. "And I should
get to class, Professor. I'll talk to you later."
He nodded, and he was looking out the window again
when she left the office. He looked sad, she thought,
for all his efforts to keep her spirits up. It...
hurt... to lose one.
* * *
They'd left the hotel that afternoon, and were on a
plane headed for Great Britain. Tom liked England, so
they spent a lot of time there. He could stomp around
a lot and sneer at the English people, which was one
of his favourite things to do.
They were flying first class, of course, which they
always did, and Tom was across the aisle, staring a
bit moodily out of the darkening window. There wasn't
anyone sitting next to him, and his grumbles had
frightened the flight attendant away.
Cain didn't care. Right now, he was feeling very,
He looked down, a rather silly smile creeping onto his
face again. Jubilee was asleep, wrapped in a pale
blue airline blanket, and although she'd started off
leaning against the window, now she was cuddled
against his arm, head on his massive shoulder. Her
weight wasn't really all that noticeable, but she was
very warm, and she made an occasional little sighing
noise in her sleep that was absolutely adorable.
Adorable wasn't a word that was usually in Cain
Marko's vocabulary, but there just wasn't any other
word for it.
It had never occurred to him before that it was
possible to fall in love in a non-relationship way.
And this was definitely a non-sexual thing. Even if
Jubilee hadn't been far too tiny for that sort of
thing to be physically feasible, she was only a little
girl, and Cain's vices had never included *that* sort
of thing. And yet he was absolutely besotted with
her. Everything she did was either clever or cute, or
both. She herself was absolutely adorable. He had to
keep fighting the urge to carry her everywhere and
talk baby-talk at her, even though she was much too
old for that. She was just so little and cute and
smart... much smarter than he was. But that was okay.
So was Tom, and he liked Tom fine.
Not as much as he liked Jubilee, though. He was
definitely having that fake ID made out to identify
him as her next of kin. Her adoptive father, maybe.
Yeah... he really liked the sound of that. He'd never
wanted kids before, but now the idea was growing on
him. Maybe, if things worked out... he drifted into
happy daydreams of raising Jubilee as his own, of the
two of them becoming an unbeatable team, of getting
her a little costume in red and brown, like his, and
sitting on her on his shoulder when they went on
Across the aisle, Tom sighed and glanced across at his
Cain wasn't very clever or particularly nice, but he
was loyal, and a good friend. They'd been partners
for years. Cain had not, however, particularly liked
Terry. They'd never gotten along, which had annoyed
Tom a bit. If there was going to be bickering, he
would be the one doing it.
Now he suspected he understood it a bit better. He
didn't like Jubilee, either. Technically, she was
probably better suited to a life on the wrong side of
the law than Terry had been. Terry had had a
distressing tendency towards ethical conventionality,
whereas Jubilee so far seemed blithely indifferent to
legality and convention.
But she wasn't *his*. He'd loved Terry as much as if
she was his own daughter, and she'd heartlessly
abandoned him. Less than two days later, Cain had
turned up with another, younger girl who he was
clearly besotted by - which Tom could understand, yes,
Jubilee was very small and very cute and ideally
suited for a life of relatively non-violent crime.
The kind of foster-daughter every career villain
dreamed of, one who would love you and follow in your
gigantic footsteps and take care of you in your old
age instead of killing you and stealing your criminal
She was perfect. And she wasn't Terry, and he hated
her and he wished she'd go away.
An hour or two later, Jubilee drifted back into
wakefulness. The lights were down now, and pretty
much everyone seemed to be asleep.
Her head was on the Juggernaut's shoulder, and she was
surprisingly comfortable. The blanket wrapped around
her was soft and cosy. The big shoulder under her
temple was warm and solid. The long, steady breaths
coming from somewhere above her head were soothing.
And there was just something... nice... about being
snuggled into a cosy little nook between a nice thick
window and a not too nice and rather thick but
apparently semi-reliable adult.
Experimentally, she sighed, as if she was still
asleep, and snuggled a little closer.
There was a soft grumbling noise from well above her
head, and a big hand came around from his other side
to hitch her blanket closer around her, giving her
hair a clumsy little pat before it went away.
She smiled a little and let her eyes close again,
cuddling against Cain's massive arm and dozing off
contentedly. She didn't need anyone to make her feel
safe - she hadn't been afraid of anything for a long
time. But here, now, she felt... cared about.
Understood. And it had been a long time since she'd
felt that, too.
(end part three)
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