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Masquerade in X 4/?? [movieverse]

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  • Dyce-Elihara
    Disclaimers in previous parts. Pebbs is just the niftiest critter... :) Be it cold, be it late at night, if I mention that I m sad because I ve not gotten any
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2002
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      Disclaimers in previous parts.


      Pebbs is just the niftiest critter... :) Be it cold,
      be it late at night, if I mention that I'm sad because
      I've not gotten any feedback, then feedback I get, and
      at once.

      This section is for Pebbs and for Kitty, who both sent
      me such nice feedback.

      Masquerade in X
      (Part Four)

      By Dyce


      Cain was discovering some of the drawbacks to having a
      kid around.

      When they got into a new city, there had always been a
      routine. They found a nice hotel, booked a
      two-bedroom suite (for him and Tom) and a single room
      for Terry. That evening, Tom went out to look for
      work, Terry retired to her room to do... girl stuff,
      he supposed. Whatever that was. And Cain himself
      would order dinner, and then... well... there were
      some nice escort agencies in London who'd send as many
      girls as you liked right to your door. And he always
      saved a couple for Tom when he got back, which Tom
      always appreciated.

      But while Jubilee did have her own room, he couldn't
      just leave her there all evening. She had a broken
      leg. She might... fall down, or something, and hurt
      herself. Besides, he hadn't had a chance yet to buy
      her any books or nail polish or whatever it was girls
      amused themselves with. So she was going to have to
      spend the evening with him in the small sitting-room
      that joined his and Tom's bedrooms.

      But what the hell did you DO with a kid all evening?

      He ordered dinner early, and stretched it out as long
      as he could. She did seem to enjoy getting
      room-service, and the lobster kept her busy for a
      while, since neither of them had any idea how to get
      the thing open. He didn't let her have any alcohol,
      because he'd heard it made kids stunted, or something,
      and she was a titchy little thing already, but he did
      let her order as much soda as she wanted.

      That proved to be a mistake.

      By seven, she was all but vibrating in her chair,
      instead of being decently sleepy. She'd been so cute
      on the plane, all little and snuggly and *quiet*...

      "Okay... uh... what do you wanna do now?" he hazarded
      after a long silence, in which Jubes - that alleviated
      the problem with calling a mostly Jubilation
      personality by Jubilee's name - managed to nearly poke
      one of her crutches up his nose while seeing if she
      could reach the air-conditioning button.

      "Are there any board-games or anything around?" she
      asked, still waving the crutch around experimentally.
      "Or cards?"

      Cain brightened. "We got cards. And chips. You know
      how to play poker?"

      She smiled a sweet, innocent smile that would have
      charmed a statue. "Kinda. I've played a few times."

      "I'll give ya twenty bucks to start off with. Dollar
      ante," he said generously.

      Two hours later, he owed her five hundred and
      seventy-three dollars US, and the little brat was
      betting high enough that she had to have at least two
      pair. "We can stop playing if you're bored," she said
      solicitously as he scowled at his cards.

      Bored? That got a reluctant grin out of him. "You
      sharked me," he accused, calling her bet. "You're
      better at this than Tom, even."

      "Being small and innocent-looking does make it easy to
      play dumb," she agreed, giving him another one of
      those sweet, probably fraudulent little smiles. Oh,
      she was a charmer. Another few years, and she'd have
      guys lining up at the door.

      "You try it on Tom, next time," Cain suggested,
      grinning in anticipation. Tom was much better at
      poker than Cain was, and he tended to take advantage
      of it a bit. It would be fun to see Tom lose for a
      change. He dealt out the last cards, and looked at
      his hand. Two pair, nines high. Not bad. "Ten
      bucks."

      "I'll see the ten, and raise you fifteen." She pushed
      the chips to the middle of the table. "I'll try it...
      but won't he get mad? He doesn't seem like the kind
      of guy who likes to lose money, especially to a kid."

      "Oh, he'll definitely get mad. He always does." Cain
      shrugged. "You'll get used to it."

      She frowned at her cards as he pushed the added
      fifteen... and another five... into the middle of the
      table. "He seems awfully cranky," she said a bit
      dubiously. "Why do you put up with it? You're a lot
      bigger than him, you know."

      Cain blinked at her, rather shocked at the suggestion.
      "Tom's my friend!" he said reprovingly. "I wouldn't
      do that to him!"

      She gave him a long, appraising look, then reached
      over to pat his hand gently. "I guess you wouldn't,"
      she agreed, giving him a genuine smile this time.
      "For someone who's supposed to be such a badass,
      you're pretty nice sometimes."

      Cain felt himself blushing, and looked sheepishly at
      the table. "Yeah, well..." he mumbled. "That's
      different. You gonna play or what?"

      "I'll call the five and raise another twenty," she
      decided, tossing in the relevant chips. "Tom does
      kinda push you around sometimes, though."

      "I know." Cain shrugged, trying to pretend it didn't
      bother him. "Tom's a lot smarter than I am.
      Sometimes he gets impatient when I don't keep up with
      his plans and stuff." He called her bet, and sat
      back, waiting to see what she had in her hand.

      She put down her cards. Two pair. Eights high. He
      put his down too. She looked at the nines. "Damn!"

      "I won!" he said smugly, beaming and reaching for the
      chips.

      Instead of getting mad or sulking like Tom did, she
      grinned at him. "You still owe me five hundred and
      twelve bucks," she reminded him. Then she hobbled
      around the table and gave him a totally unexpected
      kiss on the cheek. "I had fun. Thanks."

      Cain blinked. A peculiar warm, mushy feeling was
      occurring in the depths of his massive chest cavity.
      "You're welcome," he managed, giving her a rather
      startled look.

      "I mean it," she said seriously. "You're good
      company, and you don't talk down to me just because
      I'm a kid."

      Emotional honesty was not a new concept for the
      Juggernaut... in fact, he hadn't lied about his
      feelings since he was in his teens, believing firmly
      that it was better to let it all hang out. He didn't
      usually have positive feelings to talk about, though.
      "You're a kid, but you're a real smart one," he
      admitted. "Probably smarter than me. But you don't
      talk down to me, either, or try to make me feel dumb.
      So you're pretty good company too."

      "Thanks." She kissed him on the cheek again, and
      reached for her crutches. "I'm gonna go get some
      shut-eye. I need to go shopping tomorrow, though, to
      get a few changes of clothes and stuff. Will you take
      me?"

      "Sure," he agreed, feeling a bit dazed. He could not,
      offhand, remember if anyone had *ever* kissed him
      without immediately wanting something in return. It
      felt very nice. "Just come back here when you wake
      up, okay? Only not before nine-thirty, 'cause Tom and
      I might be up late."

      "Okay." She pocketed the twenty he'd given her, and
      grinned. "If I get bored, I'll wander around the hotel
      a bit. If you can't find me, don't worry - I'll be in
      the hotel someplace, okay?"

      "Okay." Cain nodded, and ruffled her short hair
      gently. "Goodnight, kid."

      "G'night." She hobbled off.

      It was barely nine-twelve, but Cain didn't feel like
      ordering in any company. Those encounters, while they
      were fun at the time, tended to be a little
      unfulfilling in the long run. He was feeling quite
      happy and content right now, and he hadn't had to pay
      any money for it.

      * * *

      "We need to see what she can do," Tom said decisively
      over breakfast the next morning.

      Jubilation... Jubilee, she had to remember she was
      calling herself Jubilee again... didn't like being
      talked about as if she wasn't there. She could tell,
      though, that Black Tom still resented her presence a
      bit, and was trying to reassert his authority as
      leader of their little group. Under the
      circumstances, it was probably best not to challenge
      him for a while, so she kept her attention on her
      breakfast. The breakfast did require a lot of
      attention, since Cain seemed to be under the
      impression that she was a 'growing kid' and needed to
      eat like a horse... that is, if horses ate mountains
      of scrambled eggs tumbled over rolling plains of
      bacon, fenced in with hills of sausage, garnished with
      fried tomato, and enhanced with hot crumpets, milk,
      juice, and half a pale green melon drizzled with
      honey.

      He was eating the same thing, only about twice as much
      of it, as he nodded at Tom. "Definitely," he agreed
      through a mouthful of bacon. "You know any good
      places?"

      "There's a couple down by the waterfront." Tom sipped
      his coffee. "I might have something for us, if she
      works out." He gave her a thoughtful look. "Don't
      stuff yourself too much," he advised. "We're going
      out t' test-drive your powers right after breakfast."

      "No we ain't," Cain said, with unusual firmness.
      "We're going shopping first. She's only got one other
      change of clothes besides those ones, and she's
      definitely gonna need something to change into
      afterwards."

      Tom looked annoyed at that, but really couldn't argue
      with Cain's logic. "Okay, okay," he grumbled. "Right
      after lunch, then. I've got a few things to take care
      of anyway." He pushed his chair away from the small
      table, and stood up. "I'll meet both o' ye back here
      for lunch. One o'clock. Don't be late."

      "We won't," Cain and Jubilee chorused meekly - and
      accidentally. Tom seemed to take it personally,
      though, and stomped off muttering.

      "He's upset 'causa Terry," Cain said softly. "Don't
      let him get to ya. It's not that he doesn't like you,
      it's just... he's hurt 'cause she left, and he misses
      her."

      "I guess." Jubilee shrugged. Tom's constant bad mood
      was starting to grate on her nerves a little.

      "He'll get over it," Cain said comfortingly, and
      looked at her plate, still covered with food despite
      her best attempts. "Are you gonna finish that?"

      Shopping with the Juggernaut wasn't as deadly as she'd
      expected. He forked over her poker winnings without
      argument, then he waited quite patiently for her to
      make her selections. He was also very useful for
      carrying bags, since she couldn't operate her crutches
      without both hands free.

      Out of consideration for him, she kept it quick and
      mostly focused on basics (a few changes of clothes, a
      couple of pairs of shoes, underwear, and toiletries),
      although she did stop to gaze wistfully at a black
      leather coat that was just calling her name. She
      didn't have enough money for it, though, and she
      didn't want to start asking for more so soon, so she
      didn't let Cain see her mooning over it.

      * * *

      "What's yuir pleasure?" Black Tom inquired, swinging
      the long stick he carried around all the time.
      "Blowing things up, setting them afire?" His Irish
      accent was more pronounced than it had been before -
      maybe because he seemed to be in a better mood.

      "I'm better at explosions," Jubilee admitted, looking
      around. She was inside a big, dirty, very old
      warehouse full of... well, of junk. Chunks of
      concrete, bits of metal, what looked like most of a
      rusted-out car-body, old cardboard boxes, stacks of
      Just Junk... "What is this place, anyway?"

      "There's places like this here and there, if ye look.
      It's for just what we're here for, lass," Tom
      explained, looking around admiringly at the mess.
      "Well, usually it's more for demonstrations than for
      experimentation, but basically there's just a lot of
      junk f'r demonstrating various kinds of powers on. Or
      swordwork or an ability to split a concrete block with
      yuir head, only there's not so much call for that
      these days, with so many useful new powers comin' on
      the market."

      "Oh." Well, that kinda made sense. If she was going
      to hire someone for their mutant powers, she'd want to
      see them in action first too. "What do you want me to
      do?"

      Tom shrugged, sitting down on an elderly park bench
      marked with mud and mold. "Impress me."

      She shrugged, and set her feet. "Fine."

      She started with some of the cardboard, then the bits
      of broken board, just to demonstrate that if something
      was flammable she *could* flammate it. Then she moved
      on to the bigger stuff.

      It felt good to let loose, and she let herself get
      into it, playing with it a bit, bouncing things around
      and making the plasmoids fly in formation before
      blowing up. When she made her first effort at
      blasting the concrete, Tom visibly straightened up,
      paying close attention. She didn't do very well on
      the first attempt... just dust and a few chips. She
      powered up the plasmoids a bit for the second try, and
      by the fourth attempt had some pretty nice blasting
      going.

      "Not bad," Tom said, sounding a little annoyed about
      it. "Can ye focus the blasts, lass?" He tapped one
      of the blocks of concrete. "Enough to, say, bore a
      hole through the middle o' this block without cracking
      it?"

      "I dunno. I'll try." She frowned a little, focusing
      on the middle of the concrete. She'd have to sort of
      angle the plasmoids in on themselves...focus the
      blast...

      The first try blew a shallow crater in the surface of
      the concrete. Tom looked pleased, but Jubilee
      frowned. Her plasmoids had more concussive power than
      that, she knew they did. She just had to focus it
      right, getting it all pointing the same way instead of
      scattering energy all around the exploding plasmoid.

      She tightened her grasp on the plasmoids for the
      second try, sort of squeezing them all in together
      instead of letting them spread out, aiming them all
      right at the middle of the block. "Blast," she
      whispered under her breath. "*Blast*."

      For a split-second, she thought she had it.

      Then the unfamiliar grasp slipped, and there was
      too-bright light and a too-loud roar and the block
      didn't just shatter, it *exploded*....

      * * *

      Cain was enjoying a rare, peaceful afternoon without
      any company at all. He didn't like being alone all
      the time - he'd had too much of that - but when you
      spent most of your time with someone as chatty as Tom,
      and now Jubes as well, it was nice to have some peace
      and quiet now and then.

      Tom had found them a job... a nice, quiet bank-job, he
      said. He'd also said, and Cain had agreed, that if
      they wanted to introduce Jubilee to a life of crime,
      they should start out on the relatively nice, harmless
      ones. Like robbing banks and pinching jewels. Things
      that didn't really hurt anybody, except maybe the
      banks and insurers. Cain thought Jubilee could handle
      that. And she'd get a share of the take, and be able
      to buy herself... whatever nice things girls liked
      buying themselves... and she'd get to know how much
      fun a life of crime could be. Then she'd stay. Terry
      had never really taken to the whole life-of-crime
      thing. But Jubes had told him about the days before
      the X-Men had found her, when she'd made a living
      picking pockets and shoplifting, and he thought she
      might like it better.

      Besides, surely she wouldn't whine as much as Terry.
      Terry had never stopped whining, even in the middle of
      a heist. It had been fucking annoying, even if Tom did
      insist that she was just learning.

      There was an impatient knock on the door just as he
      reached that point in his musings, and he sighed.
      They were back, just when he'd been having a nice,
      uninterrupted think. Tom's knock was unmistakeable,
      and Cain ambled over to the door and unlocked it. "How
      did - what the hell happened to you?!"

      "A wee accident with the lass's powers," Tom said,
      sounding oddly pleased. He was covered from head to
      foot in grey dust, he had scratches all over him, and
      he was half-carrying Jubilee under one arm. She looked
      badly shaken. "No major damage, just a few scrapes
      and bruises."

      Cain nodded, but he wasn't convinced. Jubes didn't
      look good, sort of dazed and upset, and he took her
      from Tom's arm, feeling her head gently for bumps.
      "You okay, kid?" he asked as gently as he could. For
      the first time, he realized that even when he was
      trying to be nice, he still didn't *sound* very nice.


      "I..." Jubes gave him a dazed look. "We're fine."

      Tom looked puzzled. Cain frowned. "We?"

      "Yeah..." she said a little hazily, leaning into his
      supporting arm. He picked her up, and she snuggled
      absently against him, resting her head on his
      shoulder. "The blast, and the power going all over
      the place, an' we weren't properly integrated yet...
      'm Jubilee and Jubilation again..."

      "Oh." Cain gave Tom a worried look over the dusty
      black head on his shoulder. "Uh... Tom, can you get
      her some tea or something?" Belatedly, he realized
      that Tom probably didn't know what was going on.
      Jubes hadn't told him about her little
      split-personality thing, and since it seemed to have
      gone away, Cain hadn't mentioned it either. "Jubes
      has... uh... a problem. She split up her personality
      into a cute innocent one and a tough mean one to kind
      of trick Charlie, and she put them back together again
      when I convinced her to join us instead but I think
      they just got unstuck again."

      Tom blinked twice and then nodded. "Right," he said,
      and headed for the small counter and the electric
      kettle.

      Cain hoped the tea helped. He was pretty sure that
      was what you were supposed to give people who'd had a
      shock... well, the non-alcoholic thing. She was
      probably too young for brandy. Until the tea was
      ready, he sat down on the big armchair near the window
      and held her on his lap, rubbing her small back gently
      with one hand.

      Jubilee... or Jubilation, he wasn't sure... sighed and
      snuggled a little. "It feels weird, being separate
      again," she murmured. "I thought... I thought I could
      just put myself back together, no harm done, but the
      first big shock and I split again..."

      He didn't know what to tell her, didn't know the first
      thing about what Charlie called the Science of the
      Mind... so he just kept rubbing her back and letting
      her rest her head on his shoulder. "It'll be okay," he
      said softly. "You'll figure it out."

      "I hope so," she said quietly. "Although now that I
      think about it, self-induced psychosis might not have
      been my best option."

      Yep, this was Jubilation. He recognized the voice.
      "Well, you didn't have a whole lot of time to think
      about it, right?"

      "Not really." She sighed a little, straightening up,
      but she didn't get off his lap. He was kind of
      pleased about that. There was a definite charm to
      having the kid perched on his knee, gazing up at him
      with that serious little expression. "I guess I...
      we... will just have to learn to live with it."

      "Maybe if you just keep putting yourself together
      again, it'll stick," he said optimistically.

      Tom appeared with a steaming mug, for once keeping his
      mouth shut, and Jubilation took it, sipping slowly.
      "Maybe," she said, not very optimistically. "I think
      I'll stay split up until I get the hang of this
      blasting thing, though. Getting shocked apart like
      that isn't a lot of fun."

      "I guess so." Cain paused and frowned. "What blasting
      thing?"

      "Concrete," Tom explained. "See, when you punch
      through concrete, it has a way of going all to pieces.
      If the lass can get a hole through a slab *without*
      cracking it, though... that bank-job is going to be
      even easier than I thought."

      * * *

      Jubilation curled up in her bed, listening to the hiss
      and roar of traffic going by outside, the soft patter
      of rain starting to fall.

      It was strange. Jubilee's slightly silly presence in
      her mind felt kind of nice. She'd felt... lonely...
      being one person again. Well, that wasn't quite right
      - they WERE still one person. They remembered each
      other's actions, were fully aware of each other... the
      original had just polarised her personality into its
      lighter and darker parts, giving them separate names
      for convenience. It was like... Jubilation pondered,
      watching the bands of light from car-headlights
      gliding up the wall opposite the window, over and
      over. It was like... she was the personality's right
      hand, while Jubilee was its left. She was marginally
      dominant, but they were both part of the same mind.

      And... she turned on her back and stared thoughtfully
      at the ceiling. Cain liked Jubilation. Nobody had
      ever liked Jubilation before. The few people who'd
      ever seen this part of her personality had just been
      scared. Cain seemed to think Jubilation was strong and
      self-determining, instead of a weird, scary little
      thug. Jubilation would be the first to admit that she
      did have certain weird, scary qualities. But she
      wasn't a *complete* psycho.

      It had been a comfort to both of her to discover that
      all the worst parts of her psyche weren't really all
      that bad.

      She would stay separated for now. Just for a while.
      Until she was sure she'd gotten the hang of using her
      powers at their fullest extent. Xavier probably
      wasn't looking anymore... and she'd reintegrate soon.

      Soon.

      But not yet.

      Jubilation snuggled down again and let herself drift
      off to sleep, comforted by the gentle presence of her
      better self.

      (end)


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