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
This section is for Pebbs and for Kitty, who both sent
me such nice feedback.
Masquerade in X
Cain was discovering some of the drawbacks to having a
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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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.
But not yet.
Jubilation snuggled down again and let herself drift
off to sleep, comforted by the gentle presence of her
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