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Fic: The Evolution of Jubilee 2/3 [Gen, PG]

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  • avimara
    TITLE: The Evolution of Jubilee 2/3 AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass AUTHOR S E-MAIL: fishfolk@ix.netcom.com. Feedback is better than chocolate. Other headers in part
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2002
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      TITLE: The Evolution of Jubilee 2/3
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
      AUTHOR'S E-MAIL: fishfolk@.... Feedback is better than
      chocolate.
      Other headers in part one

      *******************************

      The tears were gone quickly, but the feeling of hopelessness persisted
      as the days wore on. Jubilee stopped hectoring people about writing
      letters, and went back to ignoring her school work in favor of
      shopping. Everyone assumed she'd just gone back to her pre-crusade
      self.

      But three days later, the museum deigned to notice the letters they
      had received. When the official-looking mail in a fancy envelope
      arrived addressed to Jubilee, she wasn't expecting it, and was a
      little nervous about what it might be.

      She didn't calm down much when she realized the return address was the
      Westchester Museum of Natural History, but she dragged the letter off
      to read in private.

      Five minutes later--and nursing a paper cut from the stiff
      stationery--she read the short and rather curt letter. Then she took
      it to Scott for a translation.

      He was in his office, head bowed and muttering at his computer, when
      she found him.

      "Mr. Summers?" she asked, leaning her head around the edge of the
      doorframe and dangling the letter between her fingertips.

      He stopped muttering and looked up. "Hmm? Oh, Jubilee, what's up?"

      "Well, I've just gotten a response from the museum, but I'm certain I
      must be reading it wrong." She handed over the paper, and sat down in
      one of his office chairs.

      Scott read it and frowned. "Minus the meaningless pleasantries," he
      said after pondering the paper for a moment, "the letter says 'We like
      our exhibit just fine. Now, please go away and take your friends with
      you.'"

      "That's rude!" Jubilee was surprised at how angry it made her.

      "Yeah, it is. Not surprising, though. Bureaucracies are not noted for
      their willingness to change."

      "But we're right!"

      "I wish that were relevant in this case." Scott looked at the letter
      one more time and sighed. "I expect the rest of us will start
      receiving similar letters in the near future."

      Jubilee slumped down and fiddled with the fraying fabric on the chair
      arm. "What do I do now?"

      He studied her for a few moments, and she fidgeted slightly under his
      regard. He looked at the letter again, then looked back at Jubilee.

      "What?" she asked.

      "How far are you willing to go with this? How much effort are you
      willing to put into it?"

      "Does that mean you have another idea?" Jubilee sat up straight again.

      "I don't know. It depends on whether you're willing to see this
      through. Of course, I'll admit I didn't think you'd put in the amount
      of work you've done so far. And I was wrong." Scott leaned back in his
      chair and crossed his arms.

      "Yeah, you were," Jubilee said.

      Scott leaned forward again. "Far be it from me to discourage activism
      in one of my students, but you've never really told me why you feel
      strongly about this."

      Jubilee shrugged, looking at the desk in front of her. "The more I
      thought about it, the more it pissed me off."

      She looked up and Scott nodded slowly. "Okay. Well, your next step
      should probably be letters to the local paper and a petition. If
      writing letters is too much, you might get more people to sign on to a
      petition. But it still won't be easy." He started to say something
      else, but stopped and shook his head. "Let me know how I can help."

      "I'm gonna go write a petition now," she said, jumping out of the
      chair.

      Her dander once again up, thanks to the rudeness of the museum's
      letter, Jubilee blasted out a petition based on her original letter to
      the museum in less than two hours. Next problem: getting it signed.

      *********************************

      Scott firmly nixed her creation of a sign that said "Mutant Rights,"
      and they settled on "Petition for a Fairer Exhibit." Rogue painted the
      sign for her, in a rainbow of colors that they vaguely remembered was
      meant to represent diversity. The sign hung off a card table Logan
      found for her in a storage closet, after she gave him puppy dog eyes.

      "Someday that 'pitiful me' look's gonna get you in trouble," he
      grumbled as he dragged aside a beat-up dining room chair and an
      abandoned steamer trunk to get to the table. He just shook his head
      when she batted her eyelashes and kissed him on the cheek.

      Table, sign, and folding chair in hand, she began to sit outside the
      mall or the local grocery store during her free time, working on
      homework when she got *really* bored. Sometimes one of the other
      students would join her for a while, but mainly she was on her own.
      The experience was strange for her, she'd seen similar tables set up
      before, but never stopped to look at what they had to say. Now, *she*
      was the one trying to catch the eye of a passerby, trying to entice
      them to look at her petition.

      Now and then someone would stop and read the petition, and some even
      signed it. Some people looked at her funny after they read it and
      walked away, but she just ignored them.

      It was on the third day after the museum's response that Jubilee got a
      taste of why Scott had been so reluctant to suggest this option.

      She was at the mall, right outside the Lord & Taylor entrance since
      they were having a sale. Most shoppers hurried by her without even
      looking, and when the stream slowed to a trickle, she retreated into
      the pages of a magazine.

      She looked up when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw someone
      approaching. Putting on the professional smile she'd developed in
      recent days, she looked at the group.

      //Pretty skanky,// was her instant assessment of the three men, whose
      greasy hair and self-righteous expressions made her think immediately
      of a pack of television evangelists.

      She stood up as they approached, hands braced on the edge of the
      table.

      The three spread out when they reached her and she took an instinctive
      step back so she could keep an eye on all of them.

      The man in front, his receding hair carefully pasted over the top of
      his head, didn't even look at Jubilee as he picked up her petition and
      started to read.

      //I'm surprised his lips don't move,// she thought as she crossed her
      arms and eyed his two buddies dubiously.

      Finally, he looked up from the paper at her. "You wrote this?"

      "Yes." She resisted the urge to pop her fireworks in his face.

      "You want the museum to have an exhibit on mutants?" The final word
      managed to sound remarkably like "cockroaches." "What would you want
      this exhibit to say?"

      //What does he want?// "It says right there on that paper you're
      holding."

      He looked down at it and his eyebrows went up. "But it says here," and
      he paused for effect and looked at his two companions, "that you want
      the museum to tell our children that human mutation is a natural
      process. That *mutants* are natural."

      "That's right."

      "A natural process?" His voice went up and the other two shook their
      heads in phony disbelief. "Are you implying that you want our tax
      dollars to go toward telling children something that directly
      contravenes what we're teaching them in Sunday school?"

      "Yes," she said, her hands shaking in anger. She clenched her fists.

      The man, his jowls wagging, tried to loom over her. "Young lady, I
      don't know where you got such foolish ideas, but I don't think you-"

      "If you got somethin' to say, maybe you'd better say it to me," a
      voice said with quiet menace from behind her. Jubilee sighed with
      relief as Logan came and stood just behind her, his hand on her
      shoulder.

      The two silent men started to step forward, but Logan growled deep in
      his throat, a primal sound that disturbed the hairs on Jubilee's neck.
      He stepped up to stand beside her, as they started to raise their
      fists.

      "Try it," Logan said. "Honestly, this young lady could kick your asses
      all by herself if she took a notion, but she's too polite for that.
      Now, me," and out of the corner of her eye, Jubilee saw him grin, "I'm
      not polite at all."

      The man who had spoken dropped the petition and took an involuntary
      step back from the feral smile, then tried to cover for it. "How dare
      you threaten me?"

      "Go. Away. Now." Logan took a step forward and the three men looked at
      each other and voted for retreat. They backed away, and when they were
      far enough, turned and took off.

      Jubilee couldn't look Logan in the eye as she sniffed back tears and
      gathered up her petition.

      "Where ya goin', kid?" he asked.

      "Back to the school. I should have known this wouldn't work, that just
      'cause the people I know in the community were nice that didn't mean
      other people would be."

      "You thought this was gonna be *easy*?" Sheer disbelief dripped from
      Logan's voice, and he leaned against the table next to her.

      "No," she said. "I don't know. I guess I didn't really think about it.
      Until now, the worst that's happened is people haven't wanted to
      help."

      Logan took the petition out of her hands and put it back on the table,
      gently pushing her into her chair. "Look, I'm sorry you had to run
      into guys like that, but that's why I was here."

      Jubilee looked at him in surprise. "Hey, what *are* you doing here?"

      "I hoped you wouldn't ever know I was around," he said, "but Scott
      sent me as your backup."

      "You know, I took care of myself for a year before I hooked up with
      this school." She glared at Logan. "I'm not a baby."

      "So don't act like one," he said. "Did I say I was your babysitter? I
      said backup and I meant it. I wasn't kidding when I said you could
      kick the shit outta those guys without me. But Scott and I figured
      it'd be better for community relations if you didn't have to."

      She looked down at her hands, surprised by the compliment. "I
      wanted...never mind."

      He rested his hand on her shoulder again. "Kid, you're doing a good
      thing. That's why I'm here, because I agree with what you're trying to
      do. But you should realize it might not work."

      Her head shot up. "Everybody keeps saying that."

      "We're just tryin' to help you accept the fact you can't win every
      fight. Doesn't mean you shouldn't try."

      Jubilee slumped in the chair and stared blankly at the oblivious
      shoppers walking by. //Could I be doing all this for nothing?//

      ***************************************

      Logan convinced her to stay at her table for the rest of the
      afternoon, but it was a half-hearted effort at best. When she finally
      dragged back to the school in time for dinner, she was seriously
      considering giving up.

      She threw herself down on the couch in the rec room and stared at the
      ceiling, counting tiles in an attempt to distract herself from misery.

      "Yo, Jubes?" Angelo called from the other side of the room where he
      was playing Final Fantasy with Bobby.

      "What?"

      "Kitty was lookin' for you," Angelo said, pausing the game for a
      second, "said to meet her in the computer room whenever you got back."

      "Was it important? 'Cause I'm kinda wiped at the moment." Jubilee
      groaned to herself. //She's probably just hacked another DOD website
      and wants to show off her computer prowess. I'm *so* not in the
      mood.//

      "Just go see what she's up to," Bobby said, tapping his fingers on his
      game controller.

      "Fine," Jubilee said, dragging herself off the couch.

      The computer room always seemed cold to Jubilee and she shivered as
      she passed through the doorway to the sterile room filled with rows of
      off-white PCs, and one corner of brightly-colored Macs. Kitty was in
      her element, though, singing an old Beatles song and clicking away at
      her favorite computer.

      She looked up at the sound of Jubilee's footsteps and grinned madly,
      which caused Jubilee's eyebrows to lift. "Um, what'd you do this
      time?" Jubilee asked. "Hack into the Professor's college records?"

      Kitty looked thoughtful. "Huh, that's-"

      "Kitty? Stop. Why am I here? Why am I not waiting outside the dining
      room for first crack at the meatloaf?"

      Kitty blinked. Then grinned again. "For this." She clicked a few keys
      and then carefully turned the monitor so Jubilee could see it.

      It was a website for Jubilee's crusade to change the museum exhibit.
      It had pictures of the museum and the exhibit, links to the petition
      and other information about mutant rights and evolution, and a link to
      sign the petition on-line.

      "Kit-Kat," Jubilee said, staring in amazement, "I wouldn't have
      thought of it."

      "No, I didn't think so. Do you like it?"

      Jubilee hugged her friend. "I love it."

      //I can't give up now.//

      **************************************

      Unfortunately, reports on what had happened at the mall trickled back
      to the school, and within 24 hours Jubilee found herself striding down
      the paneled school hallway past the paintings and vases toward the
      Professor's office.

      She was still a little subdued from the experience, but her typical
      brashness in the face of being called to the Professor's office was
      accentuated by the fact that for once, she knew she'd done nothing
      wrong. //Hell,// she thought, //nobody got hurt at the mall and it's
      been weeks since I stuck fireworks under Bobby's chair or superglued
      the pages of someone's books together.//

      "You wanted to see me?" she asked the Professor, opening the door and
      leaning against the dark wooden door frame.

      He looked up from the papers on his desk and pointed to a chair. "Yes,
      please sit down."

      She sat, stifling her normal smartass remarks and pretending to study
      one of the small glass sculptures on his desk.

      The Professor steepled his fingers and looked serious. "I wanted to
      talk to you about your project."

      She brightened. "You'll sign the petition?"

      "No, I can't. I'm not certain your crusade is a good idea. This school
      is a haven, and drawing attention to us is not safe, especially when
      linked with the word mutant. As you have seen, simply using the word
      attracts the attention of a most unfortunate element of society."

      Jubilee frowned. "But Professor-"

      "I applaud your efforts," he continued, "and your initiative, but I'm
      afraid I cannot allow you to jeopardize the school."

      Jubilee frowned harder. "That makes no sense. You and Dr. Grey go to
      Washington and you talk about mutants and mutant rights all the time.
      Doesn't it make sense that your students might care, too? Why would it
      be weird for your students to care about the lives of mutants?" She
      was on her feet and her voice was rising.

      The Professor looked startled.

      "You go on about living with the humans, and why can't we do something
      about that in our own backyard? Why can't we, right now, do something
      to teach humans that mutants aren't demons? Why can't-"

      "Jubilation!"

      She crossed her arms and held her ground.

      "Don't look so angry," the Professor said. "You've convinced me by
      your passion and by your logic. You may continue unimpeded. Just keep
      Mr. Summers apprised of your progress."

      Jubilee strode proudly out of the office and closed the door carefully
      behind her. She made it a few steps down the hall before the enormity
      of what had happened hit her. //I yelled at the Professor. I *yelled*
      at the Professor. Oh shit.//

      She slumped against a wall and concentrated on breathing evenly. //But
      it worked. I convinced him.// She looked up and down the hallway to
      make sure nobody was watching, then jumped up and down, pumping her
      fist in the air. "I *rock*!"

      ***************************************

      Momentum builds slowly, and to Jubilee's inexperienced eye, things
      seemed to barely move at all. But while her petition was slowly
      gathering signatures and the website got its first visitors, people in
      town were talking to each other.

      For instance, the manager of the local mall's accessories store
      described the petition (which she had signed) to her husband, who
      worked for a local biotech firm. He thought the story was rather cute,
      and mentioned it to the company's marketing director over a working
      lunch. Then, the marketing director (who used to do media relations
      for a local college) ran into a reporter from the Westchester
      News-Journal in the grocery store, and brought up the story of the
      teen on a crusade while they stood in the produce aisle.

      It was a moderately slow week in Westchester County, so the reporter
      passed the news on to his editor at the next editorial meeting. She
      said, "Isn't she the kid who's been writing us letters? Everyone's
      been clamoring for good news about today's teens, so let's give it to
      them. Run with it. Oh, and get a picture if she's photogenic."

      And that's how Jubilee (with Rogue, Kitty, and Bobby in the
      background) turned up on page A3 of the Westchester News-Journal under
      the headline "Xavier Student Asks 'Where Are the Mutants?'"

      That was exciting for Jubilee, but the experience was quickly eclipsed
      by a call from a New York Times reporter who happened to read the
      News-Journal story. (He read it mainly because his mother clipped the
      Barney's New York advertisement on the other side describing their
      suit sale and sent it to him with a note: "Darling, you'll never find
      a nice Jewish girl dressed like a schlepper.") However, the reporter
      never did buy that suit because he thought Jubilee sounded spunky and
      set out to interview her for a filler piece in the Times.

      The article wasn't long, but it was complimentary, and the
      accompanying photograph was flattering. (The New York Times agreed
      with the Westchester News-Journal that Jubilee was, in fact, quite
      photogenic.) Signatures for the petition and visitors to the website
      quadrupled in the next few days, and Jubilee started sending the
      signatures she'd gathered to the museum.

      --tbc in part three--
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