Scenes From A Life

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Note: This series of scenes was written by Seraph and Dex as a way of filling in the 'lost months' of Jubilee's life from July 2006 to February 2008. They constituted part of Seraph's reapplication for Jubilee.


Starting The Journey

Jubilee slammed the kitchen door back against the wall as she strode in, small coloured sparkles popping from her hair. She moved to the refrigerator, rummaging around inside before she grabbed the chocolate bar she'd stashed there earlier and tore open the packet with unnecessary forcefulness.

"Bad day?" Warren asked mildly, wings moving and settling back to smoothness as he turned.

"Dude, don't even get me started. It's like, you know, you expect people would trust someone after a sufficient amount of time and effort but do they? Nooo. No, they still think you're the same stupid kid you've always been and then they expect you to be thankful that they're not kickin' you back to the fuckin' God damn mansion an makin' you someone else's problem," she replied, waving the chocolate bar for emphasis as she ranted.

She was pissed, and she was of half a mind to tell them where they could shove their glorious X-Men and head out on her own. If they still thought what they thought about her after all this time, was she ever going to get their respect?

"I read the mission breakdown. I'm guessing that Ali and Haroun tore strips off you for going off on your own?" Warren took a sip from his mug, letting Jubilee rant. He knew very well the need to blow off steam, and unlike him, Jubilee didn't have a partner to rant at. In fact, she'd seemed very much alone since coming out here to the West Coast Annex.

"That's just it. I _didn't_ go off on my own. The radio completely fritzed out an I was tryin' to get back out when I was jumped. I don't see why that's so hard to believe, or thinkin' that I'd lie about it," Jubilee said, frustration evident.

"I'd say it's more a reaction to the possibility of losing someone in the field. Ali usually responds to that with anger. It's her way of compensating." Warren didn't say whether or not he agreed; the almost maddening calm he had at times had to be a product of the boardroom. "Besides, there are procedures when we lose communications, Jubes. It does look a lot like you tried to shortcut them in the report."

"You agree with them then? That I did somethin' stupid?" Jubilee asked, taking a bite of her chocolate bar and doing another round of pacing. She needed to burn off this energy, do something, because right now she just felt like punching someone. "I'm not a fuckup, no matter what they say."

"Calm down, 'Lee. I'm saying that it doesn't look like you did exactly what we train you to do. Most times, that's not an issue, but in this specific case, you got the worst case scenario." Warren took another sip from the mug, and then gestured with it. "You know that Ali's always had some reservations with your attitude. It's stuff like this that compounds it."

"Yeah, yeah. I know all that, ya know? But I'm sick of tryin' to toe this imaginary line that keeps movin' every time I turn around. Like, you never had to go through this shit, did you?"

It was an old story, really. She'd done her best, changed as much as was possible and it still wasn't good enough for any of them as far as she knew. Her 'attitude' as they referred to it was simply that she didn't take well to orders, and never really had. But she tried, and she'd thought she was doing okay for the most part.

"No. But I grew up in the mansion under much different circumstances. The X-Men didn't have leaders, trainers, or, well, any experience. We fumbled through to learn how to show other people." He sighed, tucking his wings in tighter. "Jubilee, if you want to prove that you can be an X-Man to Alison and Haroun, you've got to take what they're saying seriously. No offence, kiddo, but your attitude is shit. Joking, wisecracking devil-may-care might be your style, but it's pretty unprofessional, and you know Haroun thinks it's going to get you killed some day."

"Haroun's a bully, an he just doesn't like the fact that I can get the job done an I don't have to act like some little yes girl to all his brilliant ideas," Jubilee replied, a little sullenly now.

She knew Warren was right, and if she'd been in a better mood she'd have seen the sense in what he was saying, at least...maybe she would. She didn't know any more, all she knew was that she was getting sick and tired of being here. It wasn't like she'd wanted it to be, and being an X-Men in the West Coast Annex seemed to be all about being told how you weren't shaping up.

"You know what? Haroun and Ali have also proved themselves, Jubilee. In the field and as X-Men. You haven't yet." Warren sighed. "I know it's not easy, especially since saying you've got some personality conflicts with them is like saying Paris Hilton might be a touch indiscreet with her camcorder. But you came here to be an X-Man, and here, you do it their way, like it or not."

Jubilee was still for a moment, eyes meeting Warren's from where she stood and she could see he was trying to help. It was true also that both Haroun and Alison had only ever tried to help her, even if she didn't always agree with their rules, or the way they did things.

Truth was, even after... nine months, had it really been that long? She still didn't know what it was she wanted, or even who she really was. It was frustration and confusion as much as anything else that made her feel so restless and unwilling to listen. She didn't know what to do, only that here wasn't the solution she'd thought it would be so many months ago.

"I think... Dude, I think that's just it. I don't know what I want anymore," she replied softly.

"Good girl." Warren said, and for once, there wasn't any of the playfulness in his eyes. One of the things you could trust about him was that under the cover of boy millionaire, Warren Worthington cared. He cared about people, especially his own. "Jubes, look, this isn't my place to say anything. I don't know what you want or what you need. But you've made a lot of decisions based on what you've told everyone you want. Not necessary what you actually think."

He paused, finishing off his coffee. "All I can tell you is that you always have a place back, well, if not here, somewhere. Too many people care, Jubilee. Figure out who you are, and then come back to the rest of us."


Day In The Life

Jubilee dropped her bag on the ground and slumped onto the grass in a move that would have seemed almost boneless to anyone watching. Even though she'd been in Hong Kong now for a month that hadn't meant she hadn't kept up with her Tai Chi and various other forms of physical exercise. She might have left the X-Men behind but she wasn't going to waste any of the training she'd received.

Hong Kong wasn't at all like she'd imagined it was going to be, to be honest. Her great-grandfather and grandmother were as welcoming as ever but the cousin she'd found such a bond with was now serving in the army and elsewhere, and college was a series of one boring lecture after another, and she was beginning to think she'd made a mistake...again. She wondered how many mistakes a person was allowed before they were meant to be wise enough to avoid them.

It didn't help that the school, while officially instructed in English, was full of native Chinese speakers, who regularly mocked her accent and confusion with the language. She looked like a normal Chinese until she opened her mouth, and the pure American came out, earning more mockery than a non-Chinese student would receive. Only the fact that she lived with her grandparents saved her from the more focused hazing practiced by the Halls. It didn't take a great leap to realize that she'd have been specifically targeted.

All in all, her entire 'getting to know myself' journey so far had been a complete and utter fucking disaster. She was beginning to wonder just what she'd thought she'd find in China that she wouldn't have found in the U.S, and it was as this thought drifted idly through her mind that a shadow fell across her and she looked up to see an extremely good looking man.

[What?] She asked in Mandarin, accent butchering what would otherwise be perfect.

[They were right. You really do speak Mandarin like crap.] He said, laughing as he continued to walk past, leaving her sitting there stunned. It wasn't more than a minute later that another presence made itself known, quietly leaning against the tree behind her.

"Well, that was interesting. His father is an aerospace engineer. Lots of clout. Too bad his son is just a brainless bully. Well, gets better grades than you." This one wasn't extremely good-looking. Jubilee recognized him from a couple of her classes. He was thin and withdrawn, only speaking up to add an ironic point when addressed directly. His name was Yon, she remembered, but everyone called him Danny. He rubbed his eyes under his glasses.

"Hah! Everyone gets better grades then I do, I don't think it means much," Jubilee replied, a wry smile gracing her lips for a second. "So, sellin' somethin', or just bein' kind to outcasts?"

"Not really. There's a certain joy in being an outcast." He sat down beside her. "Danny Chou. I've got a couple of classes with you. Noticed that not only are you American, but you're also a little older than most of the first years. I'm used to being the oldest in my classes."

"Jubilation Lee, I think my parents decided I needed a happy name or somethin'," Jubilee replied, holding out her hand in greeting. "I usually go by Jubilee though. As for age, yeah, I'm a real dinosaur, but I left my cane at home. I figure I might be tempted ta use it on our fine student body were I to carry it around, ya know?"

"I wouldn't. You'd be the one the school comes down on." Danny nodded but didn't shake her hand. "I was curious, since the only people who are likely to be our age in first year are either the terminally unmotivated, or people with other interests that going to school simply provides us with the freedom to do so afterwards. Which one are you?"

"A little from column A and a little from column B," Jubilee admitted with a slight smile, realising that this was the first time since she'd started at the school that she was having an honest to God conversation with someone. "I like to think that I'm not so much terminally unmotivated as pursuing a doctorate in boredom. So which one would you be?"

"Other interests, which graduating or failing out would remove my current comfortable existence from me and leave me stuck doing real work or something." He said with a sly grin. "True mediocrity takes real effort some times." Danny gestured around the quad. "Half of them work like they want to be Japanese, and the other half are networking the whole time, starting the influence of the latter part of the century now. You looked more like the type that wants to dance."

"Dude, dancing is what it's all about," Jubilee replied with an answering grin, liking where this conversation was going, and simply liking the way the guy talked. It had been awhile since she felt at ease with anyone. "I used to know someone from Japan, he was all about the inferiority of Western culture. Annoyed the crap out of me then, annoys the crap out of me now."

"This place is designed for annoyance. Fortunately, I know a cure." He passed over a slip of paper. "Here's my mobile number. There's some of us going out tonight. Give me a call later and you can meet up."

Jubilee took the slip of paper, looking over the number and then pulling out her cell phone to type it in. "I think I can do that," she said finally, noting the time on her watch. She needed to get to her next class, even if she'd rather just lie about in the sun here. "I've got to go, catch you tonight, hey?"

"That was the intention." He said, closing his eyes lazily.

Jubilee smiled but didn't reply as she picked up her bag and started walking back to the building most of her classes were held in. There'd be time enough to continue their conversation tonight.

Checking You Out

She felt like she could dance all night, the music a steady thrum in her veins as she felt Danny's hands grip at her arms as she moved and she looked over her shoulder, giving him a grin before she moved into the crowd, getting lost in the beat. She didn't know now why she'd ever felt like an outsider, Danny and his friends had shown her the true Hong Kong, the one outside classes and people who thought they were better then her just because they'd been born here rather then imported.

It was at the table later, stacked high with empty water bottles and the odd shot glass, that she met James Fung. He had come in while most of them were on the floor, in a chaotic mess, and had only waved Danny over to start with. As they trickled in, all her friends said hello, and Mei whispered in Jubilee's ear that James was in school at UCLA. He was lean and sharp featured; curiously tanned and possessing a Californian sensibility in his dress and attitude.

It was a little like looking at home.

"Hi," Jubilee said, sitting down next to Danny and eying the guy. She wasn't sure if he was a poser or someone from out of town yet, but she contained her questions for the moment.

"You're the American." He said, punctuating it with a quick laugh. "Danny keeps mentioning that I need to check you out." He said the final words in English, a slightly mocking tone. A lot of American and British slang was emulated in Hong Kong, without having a Chinese equivalent. As a result, much of the younger person's Chinese was laced with atrociously pronounced English. James, on the other hand, spoke perfect English, and it was obvious his joke was meant for her.

"So, Miss Jubilee from the undisclosed location, US. Should I 'check you out'?"

"I don't know," Jubilee responded, giving the guy a quizzical look. She didn't have a bead on this guy yet, but he seemed just a little too polished. He seemed to be trying to get her on side, and she wasn't sure why. "I guess that depends on why you'd be wanting ta check me out, don't it?"

"I haven't decided that yet." He brushed his hair back from his face with an easy gesture. "So you tell me what's worth checking out about you?"

Yeah, like that was happening. She'd never had much patience for games, and this guy was obviously playing something. "Dude, cut the crap already and just tell me what you want, kay? Cause yer takin' up valuable dance time here."

"Well, I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to fuck you. But I don't want to keep you from your dancing."

"Wow, ya really know how ta charm the ladies, don't you dude? Who’s to say I'd even want ta fuck ya?" Jubilee replied with a snort, poking Danny in the ribs to get him to move. "I ain't some cheap whore; you gotta work a bit beforehand."

"Yes, assuming it's worth it. That," James held up a finger. "I haven't seen yet. Danny said you're interesting. Perhaps to him."

Jubilee sent Danny a look, one that said 'We'll be talking about this later, buster' before turning back to James. "I'm terribly interesting, just ask me," she said with an easy grin, settling back into her seat. "Or I could just show you."

She reached a hand forward, opening her palm and allowing a spark to form in the centre.

To his credit, James didn't flinch. Instead, a slow grin crept over his face. "You're a mutant."

"No, I'm a celebrity Chef. Now, that make me interestin' enough for ya? Or would you like me to show you my perfect 10 gym routine as well?" Jubilee replied, a cocky grin gracing her features as she sat back again.

"If it's on the table, sure." He said. James got up from his seat. "You win. I'm officially impressed. Celebrate with a dance?" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag with a half dozen pills. He swallowed one and tossed the rest over to Mai, who squealed and passed them out to her friends, including Jubilee.

Jubilee swallowed the pill and stood, walking toward the dance floor with James as she felt a buzz slowly building. Tonight was going to be a good night, she could tell.


Day In The Life II

'Hate me today

Hate me tomorrow

Hate me for all the things I didn't do for you'

Jubilee groaned and flailed at the alarm clock before turning back over and laying a leg against James’s. He was not going anywhere as far as she was concerned, she needed the warmth.

"It's a Saturday, who the hell works on a Saturday, dude?" Jubilee mumbled, burrowing further into his back. "Tell them you're sick."

"Lee, these people aren't lawyers. They're not going to reschedule a delivery like FedEx." James said, sliding out from under her grasp. Most days, they didn't get up until well into the afternoon, but every few weeks, James had to resupply his stock, and that meant an early morning.

In the world of the Hong Kong drug trade, he wasn't even a little fish. He was a university kid with his toe in the water, dealing strictly to club kids and students. He mostly stuck to party drugs; easy to move, easy to hide, and had decent profit margin. Cocaine, heroin, meth; those were big industry, which meant Triad or independents used to fighting for territory. He wasn't interested in getting close to it. His business was known for clean drugs, making just enough to live comfortably with a minimum of work, without risking the occasionally fatal lesson given to more ambitious dealers.

"Bring me something back?" she replied, rolling over onto her back so she could watch him dress. "And be careful."

She hated these days the most, when she'd be worried about whether he was going to come back okay or not. Even with him being a microscopic organism in an extremely large pond, there were still risks. She'd dealt with too many risks in her life to welcome even little ones.

James smiled as he shrugged on his coat. "It's just Yin today. It'll be fine." He leaned over to kiss her, taking a moment for a brief caress across her breast. "I'll pick up some dim sum on the way back."

Jubilee smiled and lay back down, closing her eyes as she drifted, not really sleeping but not awake either. She hadn't thought that this would be her life when she first met him, hadn't really thought about anything much beyond what was right in front of her since she'd left America some time ago. She couldn't say she regretted that, it made decisions a lot easier, and she was happy here with James and her friends.

She just wished her grandfather had been able to understand that. He hadn't liked her associates, or the way she was neglecting her schoolwork. He hadn't understood her desire to explore more then the role which the world seemed determined to thrust her in to.

She still felt the simmering frustration and irritation at what, to her, seemed unnecessary worry about the risks of what she was doing. It wasn't like she was using hard drugs; she'd never touch anything like cocaine or heroin, and she certainly wouldn't be with someone who did that either. If she took a few party drugs to carry her through the night, what was the harm in that? Heck, she'd done worse damage to her body by smoking and that was legal. And if James made money off it, off the kids who wanted that buzz, then it was just good business. He wasn't hurting anyone, and he made her happy, James wasn't David to lie to her, or make up stories.

It was what had drawn her to him from the first, his honesty. It was a refreshing change from the men she'd been with so far in life.

~*~

Jubilee's voice rang out clear and somewhat amplified by the tiles in the bathroom as she sang along to Blue October. It was noon, and she'd finally decided that it was a good idea if she actually did something with her day. She'd managed a coffee, and something resembling breakfast, although she'd never been a great cook, having been an indifferent student of Lorna Dane's.

Now she was attempting to develop a new weapon of mass destruction, otherwise known as her singing voice, as she showered and washed her hair. Later she'd try and clean a bit and then spend the rest of the afternoon playing on James's Xbox before going clubbing. She might have felt guilty about her somewhat mundane existence, considering all the things she'd been going to do with her life. The X-Men, her schooling, trying to save the world from itself.

It didn't need saving though, least, not by the likes of her. The X-Men had never really needed her, and in fact, were better off without her...

She was doing it again, and she'd promised herself that she wouldn't do that to herself any more. She wasn't some emo child to blame herself for everything life brought about, or to think of herself as worthless or without merit. She was here wasn't she? She was looking after herself. It wasn't about feeling like she didn't count, it was about finding the places where she felt the most herself, the most open to the possibilities life could show her.

She was doing alright here, despite whatever her grandfather might say.

It had started out innocently enough, the argument, she'd come home in the early hours of the morning and he'd been waiting for her. She'd been lagging when James had dropped her off and the site of him, giving her that 'I'm disappointed in you' look had her instantly on the defensive. He reminded her too much of Nate sometimes, and with everything...She just didn't want to talk right then.

He'd asked her what she thought she was doing, told her that her teachers were concerned, that they'd talked to him. She wondered if they'd mentioned the fact that the 'Jooksing' was almost universally hated on campus, she didn't see why she should care about a place like that, not when her friends had shown her somewhere different, somewhere she was accepted and valued for who she was.

Finally, he'd given her an ultimatum, a command to clean up her act and get her studies on track again or he'd send her back to the US. She'd replied by packing her bags and leaving that night, turning up on James's doorstep half asleep and hoping he'd take her in. As dramatic gestures went, she supposed it hadn't been terribly original and her grandfather hadn't bothered to talk to her since. It was a matter of pride, she supposed but she wasn't going to be the first one to break. Let him apologise to her first, and then maybe she'd let him back into her life.


Arrested

He didn't look happy, but Jubilee didn't expect him to. The officer, an older man with a puffy face and a worn suit, sat back in his chair in the room, regarding her silently as she fidgeted. On the table between them was the plastic bag full of ecstasy tablets that had been found on her in the airport. They had come for her even before she'd hit Customs, which she knew meant she'd been singled out and set up.

Someone had decided that James wasn't too little a fish to bother with any more, likely that Yin, she thought sourly. He'd been picked up twice, although both times he'd been smart enough to get rid of his stash before they could reach him. But with the eyes on him, he couldn't get his supplies, and to her own surprise, Jubilee had agreed to help him.

"You're an American. It causes trouble." The cop said finally, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Dude, what trouble? I don't know where those drugs came from," Jubilee replied, popping her gum.

She'd figured that acting her age would not do her well here, she hoped the idea of busting a foreign teenager would be a little less desirable to these people. If all they did was contact her Grandfather to come get her, then that wasn't too bad. She had a feeling though that the amount of ecstasy that she'd had on her, even if it had been in one of her bags was going to be a problem. Why the hell had she said yes to James? She wasn't a drug mule, had no experience with anything like this, the only thing she could think was that she'd been stupid again, and the idea of what her friends would say to her at this time just made her want to hit something.

"Miss Lee, the drugs were found on your person, and you submitted to the air services counter in Thailand that only you had touched your luggage, which makes the drugs now yours, knowingly or not." Inspector Kwan said with a sigh. "The trouble is that, as an American, we find ourselves in a unique legal problem. With a class one felony charge like this, there is clear precedent to charge and convict you under Hong Kong law. However, considering the nature of the One Country, Two Laws system, the United States is cautious about allowing their citizens to potentially be incarcerated into a prison system that could be amalgamated into the standard PRC one at any time."

He leaned forward and went on. "In case you were under any illusions, Miss Lee, you have been charged and will be convicted on one count of drug trafficking. That carries a maximum penalty of 25 years, although it's more likely you'll receive between fifteen to twenty. This is what we call an open and shut case. So unless you're ready to make a deal with us, you won't be a free woman again until you're closing on your 40th birthday."

Jubilee kept her expression carefully blank, despite the chill that was currently working its way from her gut to her extremities. She had a feeling prison would not be a walk in the park and she had absolutely no desire to experience it. She knew absolutely nothing about the Hong Kong justice system and she was getting the feeling that perhaps in the time she'd been here, it might have been smarter to learn more of the world around her then where the best dance clubs were.

She had a feeling that knowledge of the American legal system garnered from years of watching Law and Order would not help her here.

"Do I get a phone call?" she asked finally, voice steady despite the effort it took to stop her hands from shaking.

"No. What you get is a very good offer. You turn in the people who you are carrying these drugs for, and who you got them from, and we'll change drug trafficking to a possession charge, which carries a much lighter sentence." Kwan said. They knew Jubilee was just a mule; they'd arrested enough of them to tell the difference between the pawns and the real dealers.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jubilee replied, sitting back as she watched the man. "What people? I've already told you I don't know where those drugs came from."

She wasn't entirely sure how she was going to get out of this one but one thing she did know, you didn't rat out people, not if you didn't want to end up worse then dead.

"That's a shame. Because if you're just an unlucky tourist, you're going to be serving the next two decades in prison for someone else's crime." Kwan shrugged as he got up to leave the room. "I'll give you some time to think about your story."

Jubilee kept her face impassive, aware that she was more then likely being watched. She'd gotten herself into a world of shit, and no mistake. She was tempted for a moment to call the mansion, throw herself on the mercy of her former friends and team mates; she still knew the mansion number by heart.

It would be an easy enough option, but the truth was; they couldn't help her this time. Foreign governments and legal systems were not easily circumvented, especially not by Americans, and the desire for them to be here with her was selfish at best.

She sighed, resisting the urge to run a hand through her hair. She was going to have to strike a deal, and then hope that the judge was kind and didn't give her the maximum sentence. How she would survive 25 years in prison if it went wrong, she had no idea. It was the question, wasn't it? How the hell was she going to survive it? Not just for a day, or a year, although that was fearful enough, but every day for twenty five years.

The cold coiling in her gut had become a snake, filling her body with the chill of poisonous panic. How had it come to this? James had made it seem so simple, easy as pie. Who the hell had heard of people being put in jail for marijuana anyhow? Despite the protests clamouring in her mind, she couldn't help but make the observation that she'd done something monumentally stupid in just going along, in not questioning things more. It had been stupid, not just because she should know better, her years as a trainee and then a rookie cop should have taught her better then this, but because she'd done it without even asking the most fundamental questions. Like what the laws were like here, she knew nothing of the local legal system.

She'd agreed to carry drugs for James on a whim, still coming down from the high of the previous night and so sure she could take on the world.

Was that love? No, she couldn't use that as an excuse, she'd been bored. She'd missed the excitement she'd found as part of being an X-Men, the high of an accomplished life, being part of something bigger, something more real then the grind of school and a 9 to 5 job. No, even that was an excuse. The X-Men hadn't taught her that, had made damn sure she knew it was a job, not a game.

Truth now, the idea of putting one over on a few dumb customs officials had seemed like a walk in the park. She'd wanted to do it, to prove to herself that she could. She'd underestimated her opponent and overestimated her ability to meet the challenge. There would be no second chances this time. 25 years if she survived, God help her.

She couldn't help but wonder for a second though, where all her high ideals of loyalty had gone, perhaps she'd never had them, there was so much she didn't know.

Jubilee stood and walked to the door, time to get this over with.


On The Ship

They hadn’t bothered to cuff her, or bind her in any way, she supposed being in the middle of an ocean would tend to make escape somewhat unappealing. James had drugged her, and not in the good way. She’d woken up aboard ship, not that she could really tell, considering the sheer darkness, but the rocking motion and the slightly queasy feeling in her stomach seemed to indicate that she was on water at the very least.

There’d been a man, standing not far from her, one she’d noticed only after a time he’d been that silent. Admittedly, her situational awareness in the dark wasn’t exactly top notch anyway. She couldn’t really make out any features, just the fact that he was wearing some form of wool sweater and jeans, not what she’d expected of a smuggler.

He’d asked her questions, starting in Mandarin and then switching to several dialects she couldn’t understand but recognised as Chinese in origin before finally finishing on English. Testing her knowledge, maybe? She supposed it was worthwhile knowledge to someone.

She’d attempted to remain silent at first, figuring that she didn’t owe them cooperation of any sort, and so they’d left her in the dark without food or water. She’d been used to violence, familiar with both the giving and receiving of pain. The slow pain in her gut from hunger pangs, the dryness in her mouth from lack of water, these were things she was less familiar with. It had been a long time since meals were scarce, and water had never been a problem, even back then.

Jubilee wasn’t built for a starvation diet, her mutant power saw to that, and in the end she needed it to still be useable if the time came without killing herself doing it. So, she told them what they wanted, answered all their questions, even the ones that no person would have asked in a polite conversation. They left her alone again after that, this time with irregular visits to bring her food and water.

She was almost positive there were others like her on the ship, although, perhaps not exactly like her. She somehow doubted that anyone else had been sold to these people to settle the debts incurred by a botched drug delivery. Time alone meant time to think, time she could have done without. She had a lot to think about; after all, all the things she’d somehow avoided thinking about in the last months.

She’d left her home with the X-Men to find herself, and she had, she’d found the victim, the person who refused to think, or plan or act on her own, the one who refused responsibility at all. She’d trusted James because he made her feel good, and had allowed her to forget all responsibility, everything that came with being a functioning adult.

She needed to find a way out of this, to start thinking constructively again, the time for self-flagellation was not now, and wasn’t later either. She could see her mistakes, and acknowledge them but wallowing in them was for the victim that she refused to be again.

~*~

Three meals a day, sometimes two, sometimes just one, all brought at, or around the same time of day as far as she could figure. She’d been counting for the past few days, taking note of how scruffy the person bringing her the food looked. She’d recognised that it was the same person always after the first day or so, and from then she could note differences, the stubble on his face as the day progressed, the fact that he was European, not Asian.

“Niho.” She said, watching as the man placed the bowl of rice and vegetables on the floor along with a plastic mug of water before stepping back and waiting.

He seemed surprised; maybe he thought she couldn’t talk at all? She hadn’t exactly been forthcoming with the chat, she supposed. Something about being sold like beef made her just a little less likely to be mouthy then usual.

“Niho.” He responded after a time, as though deciding such a response was safe enough.

She had no idea what else to say, she’d had a sketchy plan of perhaps befriending the man, perhaps getting him to help her, or at least trust her enough to let her close so she could make with an escape. Once they weren’t surrounded by an ocean, anyhow. She wasn’t sure it would work now; it seemed childish to assume a professional smuggler would fall for something so simple. Still…still, she needed any information she could get.

“What’s your name?” she asked, trying out her best, most brilliant smile.

“No names.” The man snapped, switching to English.

As a way to prevent her getting chatty, perhaps? Smart of him, if that were it, and bad luck for her. Still, fortune favours the stubborn, or was that the brave? Whichever it was, she’d persevere.

“Well, I’m Jubilee, anyhow. Well, Jubilation actually but most call me Jubilee. You guys do a bang up job of rice and vegetables, by the way. Couldn’t have done better myself…which is probably not as great a compliment as you’d like to believe but they’re great, really filling.”

And thus it began, her talking every time he came, talking to herself mostly since he continued to resist her attempts at conversation. She noticed her was more relaxed around her though, almost as if he couldn’t believe this idiot American could possibly be as much a threat as he’d been informed. Of course, these were all assumptions she was making, that the crew saw her as a threat, that James had told them of her mutancy. James had sold her out this far, she couldn’t imagine he wouldn’t go the whole way. Her getting away and coming after him had to have occurred to her former boyfriend.

He was right to be afraid of that, angry as she was with him, she could have quite happily killed the man in those first few days. Now, now she’d just settle for making him pay, and continue to pay for the rest of his life if possible. Firstly, she had to find a way off this ship and away from these people though. Escape now, revenge later that was the way it was going to be.

~*~

“You got any family?” Jubilee asked, leaving a pause in case the man was finally going to respond.

He looked at her blankly, waiting for her to finish her meal. They never left her with anything, always had someone with her as she ate. What she was going to do with a plate, a plastic mug and some chopsticks was beyond her, she was no MacGyver.

Well, okay, she could melt the handle off the mug and insert half a chopstick to make a fairly nasty stabbing weapon but seeing something on Discovery Channel and doing it in real life were two different things. She wasn’t sure if she could stomach stabbing someone, even if she got the chance.

She needed to conserve energy anyhow; they’d starved her for long enough that using her powers would make her seriously depleted in the event that she had to fight, she needed to make any use worthwhile.

~*~

It was easier then she’d expected in the end, but she never had shown James just what she was capable of. A blinding flash of power lit up the surrounding night like it was day and then she was running, twisting and dodging around the blinded as they groped around. She wasn’t sure whether she’d done permanent damage or not, and she didn’t particularly care.

She ran down the gangplank, across the hard concrete of the wharf, and out into the night of a city that would take days before she knew what it was called. Madripoor and Jubilee were only just beginning to make their acquaintance.


In The Cafe

She'd managed to find a cafe, one that actually served coffee and appeared to have a toilet. She'd ordered a standard coffee and something to eat before disappearing into the bathroom to do some surreptitious cleaning. She wasn't filthy; a few days on a ship were enough to make you smell rather bad but not enough to ruin your clothing. She spent some time with wet paper towels and hand soap, trying to get rid of the worst of the smell and would have washed her hair a bit had someone else not walked in. She smiled rather self-consciously and moved to dry her hands before walking back out into the cafe.

It reminded her of her first days in L.A, trying to figure out the rules without wanting to show that she knew nothing at all. She picked up her coffee and food and chose a table that was closest to the exit. Luckily for her, they didn't expect you to pay till after you finished your meal so she'd have the chance to do a runner if she was careful. It was the most desirable option at the moment, considering how hungry she was after using her powers so spectacularly.

She should call her grandfather, or the X-Men, if she could find a place to call from, and some money to call them with. Although, she supposed they wouldn't mind the reverse charges if it came right down to it. The thought of explaining things though, having to go over just how naïve she'd been. It was embarrassing, more then that, humiliating would be a better word. Besides, if she did call them, there was no way they'd let her go after James. She'd still have a criminal conviction in Hong Kong, maybe even a warrant for her arrest considering she'd broken her bail conditions, even though that hadn't exactly been her choice.

James deserved to pay though, and she was getting the inklings of a plan already. It wasn't much of a one, it mostly consisted of watching the ship she'd come in on and figuring out where that led her. She figured if they led her to information on the smugglers, and perhaps a way of getting them grabbed by the local cops, then that would be a start.

"This seat taken?"

Jubilee glanced up, noting the American accent with surprise. What were the odds of finding a tourist here, after all?

"Not at all." She answered, going for her best smile. "It's good to hear a fellow tourist actually, I kinda got lost."

"Well, let me just order some food and maybe we can figure out just how lost you are."

Jubilee watched as he flagged a waitress, her gaze measuring as he sat down in the chair across from her. Perhaps she wouldn't have to run after all, it wasn't the first time she'd pulled the 'lost wallet' scam on someone. She had a knack for looking hopelessly innocent that always seemed to work out well when it came to that sort of thing. She decided it was a sign, something that showed her she was on the right path. All she had to do now was hold on and see where it took her.

Madripoor

He joined her in the shower and she couldn't think of a good enough excuse to deny him. She'd only wanted a chance to get clean and spend some time alone; showers had always been her thinking place, even when she was little. It was as his hands tangled in her hair, pushing her head steadily downwards that she realised she wasn't attracted to him, not even a little bit.

She'd stay though; go through with it for the chance of this shower. He'd been like the two others, maybe a bit too old for university, but not out of place in the club. Tourists usually, since her Chinese was obviously American, and she felt more comfortable in English. Each of the dates had left her feeling uneasy, but it wasn't until now that she realized that she'd been convincing herself at the time that she was interested in them.

Dully, she admitted that it had just been the shelter and protection of a night. And the food, you couldn't forget the food. They were always inclined to feed her, as much as she wanted, she supposed they liked to see her eat when she looked like she hadn't eaten in months, giving her a model-thin look that made her popular enough.

~*~

It was over quickly, for what it was, she supposed it must have been awhile since someone had done that for him. He wasn't much of a talker, and she for once, didn't want to know anything. She wasn't interested in the man, didn't even want to remember his name, and didn’t want to remember him. She spent another thirty minutes after that, just letting the water wash over her, feeling it calming her and giving her strength.

He'd want to hold her, he seemed the type, didn't want to think of this as just a random encounter with a stranger. She wished she could just leave but there was nowhere to go that was safe to sleep out there, and she had barely enough money for a meal let alone a hotel room. She swore if she got out of this, when she got out of this, she'd buy a giant bed and wallow in the feeling of being the only one in it.

That was later though, for now she just had to go on, to do what she had to do. With a flick of the wrist, she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. It was only the one night; it was only ever the one night.