Jubilee gazed up at the building that would be her home for the next year at least. Glancing around at the smiling faces and happy families around her, the leather handle of her bag creaked in protest as her grip tightened. She could have had that she knew. Storm, Jean, and even Scott had offered to accompany her, but in the end, the one person she’d wanted most hadn’t ever mentioned it, hadn’t even seen her off from the mansion and likely wouldn't even blink over the fact that she was gone, an ocean now separating them.
There had been no “Congratulations, Jubilee.” No “Good job, kid.”
Bobby, Rogue, and Kitty had been hurt, hadn’t understood her decision to attend Oxford instead of going to NYU together as they’d planned together for so long.
Maybe it was selfish, maybe it was cowardly, or petty jealousy, but she couldn’t stand to be so close the man who wore the face of the man who had become a father to her, but looked at her with the eyes of a stranger. No one else seemed to notice the change, but Professor X had pulled her aside and with pity in his eyes had explained changing timelines and alternative universes. It was like something out of sci-fi book, something difficult to wrap her mind around, but in the end, it had all boiled down to the fact that he didn’t remember her.
So she ran.
“Well, well, well, I certainly didn’t expect to find a lost little lamb so far from home. Where’s the runt?”
Heart racing, Jubilee dropped her bags as she spun to face the owner of the voice, sparks already forming on her fingertips. Face to face with Victor Creed aka Sabertooth, the notoriously cruel feral, Jubilee couldn’t help but glance at the crowd milling around them, seeming unaware of the deadly threat in their midst. “What are you doing here, Creed?” Jubilee demanded with more bravado than she was feeling.
Victor’s lip curling, revealing the tip of a fang, and Jubilee couldn’t help but take a step back, even knowing how much this monster got off on fear.
It was only when a lithe form stepped out from behind him that Jubilee noticed the thin fingers wrapped around Creed’s wrist.
“Mr. Creed, you promised.”
Jubilee was startled by the female voice, and her eyes were drawn to the pink hair that had slipped from beneath the hood obscuring the other’s features. Jubilee watched amazed at the change that came over Creed, the way his eyes softened, his features relaxed, making him look almost approachable. No, Jubilee shook herself. This had to be some kind of act. She needed to think fast, to get out of here and let the X-Men know. But no, there was an ocean separating them now. She had no one to run to.
“This is the kid my brother took in, Jubilation Lee.”
The hair on her arms stood on end as he said her name, something she’d half thought he hadn’t known given everything else he’d called her over the course of their numerous encounters over the years. She watched entranced as the hood was pulled down, revealing light magenta skin, pupiless green eyes that almost seemed to glow, and spiky pink hear that seemed to be straight out of an anime.
“Hello, Jubilation, my name is Clarice Ferguson.”
“Jubilee,” she blurted before she could help herself. “Everyone calls me Jubilee.”
“Jubilee,” Clarice said with a smile.
It was only when Creed tensed, his eyes growing sharp, that Jubilee noticed that they were quickly becoming the center of attention. While attitudes towards mutants might have been improved over the years, especially here in the UK where the prime minister was a mutant, those with visible mutations still drew unpleasant attention.
“Mr. Creed,” Clarice said, an odd inflection in her voice.
Creed glanced down at Clarice and he seemed to deflate. “Nothing to see here. Move along.” Creed’s voice was loud and carried and a glance at the imposing man was all it took for most eyes to shift away.
“What are you doing here, Creed?” Jubilee again demanded, repeating her previous question.
“It’s obvious where you got your manners from, brat. Hasn’t anyone ever taught you to respect your elders?”
Jubilee glowered, any fear she might have felt for the feral, suddenly gone.
“Clarice here decided that she’s had enough of me. Time to spread her wings and make her own in the world.”
His words held a shocking amount of pride and pain, both of which Jubilee was certain weren’t fake, so at odds with what she knew of Creed.
“That’s not true, Mr. Creed. We’ve talked about this. I need to learn not to depend on you for everything. As much as you don’t like it, I’m not a little girl anymore.”
“I know that,” Creed said with a huff.
“You don’t act like it.”
“Clarice,” Creed half begged.
Jubilee almost felt like she was intruding on something private, and felt a pang of homesickness and loss as she realized how much it reminded her of her previous relationship with Logan.
When Clarice suddenly stepped away from Creed and closed the distance between them, taking Jubilee’s hand in her own, and pulling her towards the old building's door before throwing a smile over her shoulder at a stunned Creed, Jubilee let herself be pulled along in shock.
The shock didn’t last long, and Jubilee pulled them into the first empty room they passed, locking the door behind them. “Clarice, do you know who that man is, what he’s done?”
Shoulders drooping, Clarice nodded. “You see a monster. I see a father.”
“Father?” Jubilee asked, incredulous.
“He rescued me from the slave pits in China. Maybe he pitied me, maybe he saw me as an oddity, but he could have left us there or killed us. Instead, he set us free, killed the slavers, and destroyed the entire ring so there wouldn’t be anyone to look for us. The others wanted to leave me behind because I looked like this, so Mr. Creed took me with him. He could have abandoned me like everyone else had done, but he chose to take me in, teach me to be strong, to not let the world break me. Yes, he has a monster inside, but I like to think that I’ve changed him. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second change? Didn’t your Logan get one?”
Jubilee felt as though she’d been sucker punched. Thinking back, she realized that it had been years since she’d seen Creed and even longer since he’d seriously tried to hurt her (Hurting Logan was a different story, but Jubilee couldn’t help but feel that in their fucked up relationship that it was more habit than genuine hate or desire to see him dead.). She knew that Logan had his own unsavory past, that he’d committed his own fair share of atrocities in his time. Would she have stayed with him if he’d still been that kind of man when she’d first met him? She couldn’t say, didn’t know anything for certain when it came to Logan anymore.
Jumping, startled when a hand cupped her cheek, Jubilee met those strange yet beautiful eyes, blinking past the tears that she hadn’t realized were streaming down her cheeks.
“Why are you crying?” Clarice ask, her question holding no judgment.
Defenses shattering at the simple question, the words poured from Jubilee’s lips in fits and stops, fragments of thoughts between her broken sobs. Somehow they ended up on their knees, Clarice’s arms wrapped around her, Jubilee’s face buried in her neck. Minutes later when she finally calmed, the realization of what she’d just done hit her hard, and she pulled back embarrassed. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what overcame me. We just met, and I just dumped everything on you.”
Clarice’s fingers wrapped around Jubilee’s wrist as she tried to stand, pulling her back down. “Do you believe in destiny?”
“Destiny?” Jubilee asked in confusion.
“I’m not really sure I do; maybe I’ve just been lucky.”
“Lucky?” Jubilee repeated in confusion again, not following Clarice’s train of thought.
“You needed someone, someone who would really understood. What are the chances of two foundlings adopted by ferals coming together at a place like this? Life can be cruel, but I like to think I’m proof that sometimes it gives us exactly what we need.”
Wiping at her wet face, Jubilee’s face went red as she noticed how damp Clarice’s shoulder was. Finally nodding, Jubilee said, “Yes, maybe we are lucky.”
Moving closer again, Clarice asked, “Can I kiss you?”
Jubilee’s cheeks went even redder at the unexpected question. There were a thousand reasons why should she should say no, but she found herself nodding shyly anyway.
There was no shyness about Clarice’s kiss, the tight press of their breasts together so different now than it had been minutes before.
Pulling back, both breathing hard, they shared a grin. “Wow,” Jubilee blurted.
“Think we should try that again?” Clarice asked, her turn to be half shy.
“Yes,” Jubilee breathed, feeling daring as she stole another quick kiss.
Jubilee wasn’t sure she believe in fate or destiny or if this was plain blind luck, but Clarice definitely intrigued her, made her want to learn more. Sharing a smile with Clarice, Jubilee thought that just maybe she would like it here after all.
Hearing the door close behind them, Creed dropped his cigarette and crushed it beneath the heel of his boot before pushing off from the wall he'd been leaning against, conveniently located beside the window of the room his brother's brat had pulled Clarice into. He hadn’t planned on leaving Clarice alone so soon, but it seemed like he needed to beat some sense into his runt of a brother.