Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Jubilee was awake enough to be cranky, but that was about it. It was early
enough that it was still dark out, and cold as hell. Everyone else seemed to
be in a damn cheery mood, even Rogue. Logan had shown up this morning,
carrying her friend in his arms, despite Rogue's laughing protest. He just
kept saying he was going to keep his promise, whatever that meant.
Finally, Sidre sent them a disapproving look, and Logan put her down, but
not without a long, deep kiss that had Risa whistling and a couple other
people cheering. It just made Jubilee more cranky.
She pulled her cloak closer and huddled against the front of the inn as Alyn
came up to her.
"Would you like me to carry your pack?" he asked politely.
"Oh. I would not mind," he said.
"I said no."
Looking worried, he leaned against the wall beside her. "Are you feeling
ill, Jubilee? Perhaps Sidre could --"
"I'm fine, Alyn," she said tiredly. "I didn't sleep well is all. I don't
feel like talking."
"All right," he said, sounding hurt. "I will leave you alone."
Jubilee sighed as he walked away. She didn't know what was wrong, but she
was just feeling out of sorts. She was having nightmares about Rogue. She
wanted to go home. She wanted Alyn to look at her like a *girl*, not an
encyclopedia. And she wanted to not be freezing her ass off. Right now, she
thought, she should be in Jamaica or the Virgin Islands, sunning herself on
the beach. Or taking a nap in a hammock with a wonderful ocean breeze
cutting through the heat and blowing over her.
"Hey," Rogue said, leaning where Alyn had been a moment before.
"You OK this morning? You look kind of tired."
"Gee, thanks," Jubilee said sarcastically. "It's the butt crack of dawn,
Rogue, of course I'm tired."
Rogue chuckled. "Fair enough. But I noticed you chased Alyn off, too."
"I don't feel like playing Twenty Questions right now. I didn't sleep well."
"I'm sorry," Rogue said. "Insomnia or nightmares?"
"Nightmares, then insomnia," Jubilee said. "I keep dreaming that one of
those *donte* things is killing you and Risa, and I can't stop him."
"Oh, Jubes, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault."
"I know," Rogue said quickly. "I just mean ... you know, if anything
happened to me, it wouldn't be your fault. Sometimes things are just meant
That was like a jolt of caffeine for Jubilee. "What does that mean?" she
asked, standing up straight. "Do you know something I don't?"
"Don't be silly," Rogue said. "I'm just saying, things happen. That's all."
Before Jubilee could ask anything more, Sidre called to Rogue, who looked
awfully damned relieved to end the conversation.
Jubes pondered the possibility that her nightmares were happening because
she was picking up vibes from her friend. She narrowed her eyes and studied
Rogue and Sidre, leaning close together and talking. A movement to the side
caught her eyes, and for a moment she watched Logan watching the other two
women as well. He then looked straight at Jubilee and raised an eyebrow. She
shrugged back at him. *Don't ask me*, she thought.
They set off a short time later, and Jubilee's mood didn't improve much.
They were traveling on a wide, relatively smooth path, and at least the
walking helped keep her warm. Most people sensed her mood and stayed away
from her, but a few minutes into the journey, Alyn came up beside her.
"Have I ..." he hesitated. "Have I done something to make you angry with
"No," she said. "You haven't done anything wrong."
He nodded and was silent for a moment. "Would you tell me more about your
world?" he asked finally.
Jubilee sighed. "In my world, they have something called kissing. When boys
and girls like each other there, they kiss. Do they do that here, too?"
He blushed. "Yes, we have kissing also."
She stared at him until he flushed even more. "What ..." He cleared his
throat. "What else do you have in your world?"
Jubilee did a fair imitation of a Wolvie growl and sped up, away from him.
Behind her, she heard Risa laughing. "She wants you to *kiss her*, idiot!"
Alyn's response was lost as Jubilee moved ahead, next to Logan and Rogue,
who looked like she was walking in her sleep.
Logan smiled at her -- an actual smile, not a smirk -- the first time she
could remember him doing so. "He's just a slow mover, Jubilee. He'll get
around to it," he said. "Or you could do like Marie, and just jump him. I
promise he won't mind."
That earned him an elbow in the ribs from Rogue and a growl from Jubilee,
but he didn't look too upset about it.
They were a day and a half into their journey, and Jubilee had finally
regained her good mood. The exercise and the sun, combined with a night
without a single nightmare, helped her bounce back. She even approached
Alyn and started telling him about roller coasters before he could even ask.
Things seemed to be fine between them, but the way he looked at her was a
little different now. More intense, more like he was trying to read her
mind. She stopped in her tracks at that thought and looked over at him.
"Alyn, I guess I've never asked you. What is your Gift?"
Risa and Celeste passed them by as he smiled down at her. Startling her, he
reached down and tucked an arm around her waist and lifted her easily,
pressing her into his chest. She kicked her dangling legs slightly and
"Like my sister, I have above-average strength," he said, not letting her
go. "I told you I did not mind carrying your pack as well as my own."
"Hmmm," Jubilee said, on impulse sliding her arms around his neck. "I guess
I should've let you carry it. But I guess I could use the ..." She trailed
off as her eyes met his.
"I wanted to kiss you the first time I saw you, Jubilation Lee," he said
softly. "But I did not want to offend you."
"I'm, um. I'm not offended," she managed.
He grinned and lowered his head.
"Hurry up, lovebirds!" Risa yelled at them. "We do not want to lose you!"
Jubilee groaned as Alyn set her back down. He started to take the bag from
her back, but she stopped him. "I got it," she said, smiling. "I'm stronger
than I look." Strangely shy, she held out a hand.
Alyn took her hand in his, surprisingly gently for someone who could
probably break her in half, and they followed the others.
*The *donte* slid through the forest, its darkened skin changing and
blending with every sly step. It had picked up a new trail; it was the girl
that HE wanted. Although it had different orders, the *donte* never forgot
and it never gave up. The new target could wait; this one was the most
important. HE had made sure that was known. The last one had failed, and
twelve soldiers had been slaughtered because HE was so angry.
Not that the *donte* was concerned for the dead. It only knew that HE would
be pleased to have the girl.
The *donte* wanted, above all, to please its master.*
Jubilee tossed and turned in her sleep. "No," she said.
*It made no sound as it slithered along, melting into the foliage. There
were others with the girl. They would have to die, but the *donte* felt no
concern. It must be done.
They had made a fire, and instinctively the *donte* shied back from it. It
had vague memories of standing in the sun, standing in front of a fire
before, but now it could barely stand the light. It saw a female, standing
guard over the others, who were sleeping. This female was not the one, but
she would have to die before it could get to the one it wanted.*
"Risa," Jubilee muttered.
*It crept closer, and the female with a bow saw it only seconds before one
of its knives plunged into her chest. She reached for a knife of her own,
and the *donte* moved to strike her, but then it saw, across the clearing,
the girl it wanted. Absently, it snatched the first girl's knife while
watching the other one.
She was wrapped in a blanket, with a man curled around her. It remembered
the white streak in her hair, though it was shorter than in the image HE had
given the soldiers. It glanced once more at the girl it had stabbed. Her
skin was dead white and her breathing labored. The wound, combined with the
poison on the knife, would kill her at any moment.*
"NO!" Jubilee snapped awake and yelled. "Risa!"
There was dead silence in the clearing for half a second, then nearly
everyone was on their feet, scanning the woods around them with weapons --
or claws, in Logan's case -- at the ready.
Risa stood in the middle, bow drawn. She was uninjured. "What were you three
yelling about?" she asked, still peering into the forest around them. She
glanced at Jubilee, then Jean and Celeste.
Jubilee looked at the other women in surprise. "You had the dream, too?" she
"I have dreamed of the *donte* for three nights," Celeste said.
"I had the dream, too," Rogue piped up. "I guess I've just trained myself
not to wake up screaming from nightmares."
"I dreamed of it, too, I guess," Jean said. "It's a dark creature that
blends into its surroundings, right? But I only had the dream tonight."
"Me, too," Rogue said. She laughed a little and glanced at Logan. "But, um.
I haven't been getting much sleep lately."
She and Jean exchanged a glance and small smiles.
"You were seeing my Dream," Sidre said quietly, and everyone turned to stare
at her. She was sitting on a log beside the fire with her elbows braced on
her knees. "I suppose the link we forged to help Rogue with her power is
still somewhat intact. You saw what I Dreamed."
Risa swallowed hard and looked at the other women one at a time. Then she
turned to Sidre, kneeling in front of her. "I am to die, then?" she asked
Sidre hesitated, and Alyn answered instead. "No, sister," he said. "We know
it is coming now. We are prepared for it. Right, Sidre?"
Jubilee noticed Rogue watching the older woman closely. Sidre looked at each
of them before sighing. All she said was, "We will be careful."
Which didn't mean a damn thing, as far as Jubilee was concerned.
The attack came the next night.
They were sleeping in shifts, or trying to sleep. None of them were really
getting any rest. Jean was curled up next to Scott by the fire with her eyes
closed. She hoped she looked like she was sleeping, but she was really
keeping a psychic lookout on the whole camp. It was hard, tiring work, and
she was grateful to have Scott close. Just being able to lean back against
him and feel his arms around her helped give her strength.
She felt it the second the *donte* came within range. She was careful not to
probe its mind because she didn't know what, if any, psychic abilities it
might have. But even without trying, she felt its focus, its determination,
its eagerness to please its master. She waited for it to come closer. It
wouldn't be wise to let it get away.
Jean focused on the members of their group. When she had them firmly in
mind, she thought *now*, and they sprang into action.
In mid lunge, the *donte* was caught by two arrows, a thrown knife and a set
of adamantium claws. They'd decided ahead of time that Scott and Jubilee
would only use their power if absolutely necessary. For good measure, Jean
held the shadowed one in place with her telekinesis, but it was unnecessary.
The creature was dead.
Logan insisted on cutting its head off before he would believe it was really
dead. Jean supposed she didn't blame him. He was doing everything in his
power to protect Rogue, and even if he hadn't experienced Sidre's Dream
himself, hearing about it obviously spooked him.
"Sidre," Rogue said, expressionlessly watching Logan at his grisly task. "In
the Dream, that thing was coming after me. That means Deven must know I'm
"Yes," Sidre said. "He must."
"How would he know that?" Logan asked.
Sidre shrugged. "We lost contact with our people in the castle more than a
month ago. Until that time, he had no psychic abilities that we knew about.
However, we have no idea what Gifts he has absorbed since then."
"I knew this was a lousy idea," Logan said, standing up. "I say we leave
now. If he knows we're here, we're walking into a damn trap."
"We're not leaving," Rogue said flatly. "Well, *I'm* not leaving. But maybe
you should go."
Logan glared at her. Jean figured she'd be peeing her pants if anyone gave
her a look like that, but Rogue didn't back down. Finally, Logan growled and
turned, popping the claws on one hand and swiping them across a large tree,
leaving three deep, jagged gashes behind.
He stared at the tree, then pulled in the claws and turned back to Rogue.
"I'm not leaving you," he said finally. The young woman nodded and then
walked into his arms, where he pulled her tighter.
Jean let out a long breath and leaned back into Scott as the group
scattered. "It's 'Days of Our Mutant Lives' around here," he said in a low
voice just for her ears.
She laughed softly and rubbed a hand on her forehead.
"Headache?" he asked, moving to gently massage the back of her neck.
Jean sighed and tilted her head forward to give him better access. The man
could melt her into a puddle with just a neck massage. There were actually
no words in the English language to describe the full-body version. She'd
tried, and failed, to explain it to Ororo before.
"I just have a really bad feeling," she said reluctantly. "Something is
Scott pressed a kiss to the back of her neck. "It'll be OK. We'll just be
She wished she could believe him.
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000