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Nature and Science

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Nature’s mistakes. The last victim of crucifixion wondered silently if that was even possible. She had taken Biology, nature didn’t make mistakes – and yet, here she was being crucified like some ironic martyr.

The sun above her head made her brain feel foggy, as if it were turning its juices into steam. From below her, a disciple noticed her fluttering eyes and the sun circling her head like a halo.

“I think she’s awake…” The disciple reached down to pick up the rag of chloroform, but was stopped by a hand suddenly squeezing his throat closed.

Jubilee woke to a throbbing pain in her right wrist and feet. She glanced down at the man that she had felt holding her and squeezed harder. His eyes bulged, shocked by her quick recovery – he wasn’t the only one. She sucked in a deep breath, trying to clear her head. It only made the blood leak harder against the thick spikes holding her up.

Her voice was hoarse and it hurt too even think about talking. “You beat me up and nailed me to a cross?”

The man in her grip was starting to turn a shade of blue she had grown familiar with at a young age. “Please…”

“No mercy for the wicked, don’t you know that by now?” The powers she had gotten used to not using with her normal life back in California, hummed at the anger that throbbed in her chest.

She relaxed her fingers but the heat that built up against his throat raged against the tender skin there. He gasped; clawing at her already bruised and battered hand.

“You’ll remember this day for the rest of your life. Even if you don’t want to.” She whispered.

Jubilee felt the skin under her hand bubble before she pulled away and let him fall back. He clutched at his throat; the thin skin burned to a degree that she knew would never properly heal.

His fall caused several others around her to become aware that she was awake – and worse – one hand free.

“Somebody-!”

There was a time in her life when the thought of pulling one’s wrist free from a railroad spike was unthinkable. The only person she knew who could do so had the ability to heal and the pain threshold of a war worn soldier. The hurt she felt when the wood behind her burned away and the nails fell out of the gaping wounds was nothing compared to the sight of her teammate beside her.

The memory of the raid hit her hard when she fell forward, her legs not responding as well as she had hoped. Grass and dirt burned under her, seared flesh sealing wounds until she could call for any sort of help.

The memory. It tore at her, guilt building up bile in her throat.

They had broken into their home and tried to knock them out with chloroform; but years of time with the X-men and Generation X had made them light sleepers. How the intruders had won was still a blur, but now she was sure they had kept them heavily sedated so they could kill them without a fight.

Slowly getting to her feet, the pain was almost unbearable, but the unfathomable fury that pulled her up and towards the cross that held Angelo kept her moving. She was an atom bomb ready to take out everyone and everything if he was dead.

The first person to attack her received third-degree burns and a lovely greenish glow. His fellow followers kept their distance, but decided that one mutant could be left out of their holy display if their higher ups didn’t notice.

Bullets exploded with the protective heat that radiated off of her.

“Angelo.” Jubilee reached up and cupped his face, her powers carefully avoiding him. “Ange, please, you gotta wake up for me.”

His gray skin was pale and cold, his heartbeat was shallow – but he was still alive. It took her a few seconds to realize the blood that should have been flowing around the spikes, was barely dripping around the thick layer of skin he had managed to push around his wounds.

He was playing possum.

Jubilee gave him a small smirk, tears burning before they even left her eyes. “I’ll get you for that later, you slick bastard.” Her laugh was short and forced – almost a sob.

Turning back to the gathered Church of Humanity, Jubilee let the plasmoids surrounding her come back into her body. The group in front of her kept their distance, not sure when or where to attack her.

Her usual globules formed around her hands. “These are plasmoids. They’re a coherent structure of plasma and a magnetic field. They make up balls of lightning, a magnetosphere’s magnetic bubbles, and parts of comet tails, solar winds, the solar atmosphere, and the heliospheric current sheet. I can control the magnetic field that shapes the plasma and I can cause the chain reaction that makes them collide and explode. I hold the power to destroy planets and create galaxies. I am the fusion bomb man creates to destroy that which he cannot make peace with.” The plasmoids grew, lighting up the afternoon sky. “You’re stupid for thinking I’m a mistake of nature – for thinking anyone is a mistake of nature. I am nature. I am space. I hold the genetic make up of the universe and you call me a freak?”

“Jubilee, stop!” Cyclops’s familiar voice barely broke through the calm rage that built up the plasmoids surrounding her attackers.

I was happy. Don’t I deserve that? Jubilee looked over at the gathered X-men, keeping back so not to startle her into attacking them. “I was happy. Everything was normal. I have a boyfriend and a job and an apartment on the beach. I’m tired of fighting people who hate me just because they don’t understand me.” She noticed the plasmoids beginning to shrink and drift back into her. The power she was using to keep herself up and fighting was beginning to drain away. “They’ve never shown me an inch of mercy, even though I have.”

The ground was harder than she expected it to be as her legs gave out and everything she had sent out flowed back into her. The X-men easily overwhelmed her captors and began to carefully take down those that had been crucified with her.

She felt small and useless.

She felt relieved.

Lying down was the best feeling in the world, even more so than other bodies supporting her as she reached out and wrapped weak arms around Logan’s neck. His face was wet, but his voice was strong as he barked orders to Angel and those running the infirmary.

Time faded and Jubilee felt as though she was up in space like particles in the solar system. For a long time, she wondered if this was what she would become if she died. She thought of becoming a part of the magnetosphere protecting Earth and then the solar wind flowing around it. She flew with comets and spun with the sun’s planets.

“I am so proud of you, Jubilee.” Jean’s voice filtered through the silence of space, the phoenix riding through the black and starry expanse. “You have a long way to go before you get here though. It’s just not your time.”

“I don’t know what to do next…”

Warmth made the universe around Jubilee disappear and the starry blackness fade to a void that wrapped itself around her. “You’ll know what to do when the time comes. You’re doing just fine. I promise.”

* * *

The infirmary was bright and too white for Jubilee’s eyes. She squinted against the gleam and squeezed the hand held tightly in her own.

{Finally stopped surfin’ through space, have ya, gel?} Jonothan was sitting in a chair across the room, Paige asleep in another one beside Jubilee’s bed.

Jubilee groaned, her hand and feet bandaged, but not as heavily as the figure a ways beside her. Angelo slept with a half smile on his face, his skin having wrapped around her un-bandaged hand the best it could without it snapping back. He looked relieved and relaxed.

“I was pretty scary back there, wasn’t I?” She asked her old teammate, not looking away from the content smile on her boyfriend’s face.

{Yeah. Emma’s pretty proud of you.} Jonothan stood and neared the infirmary bed. {Everybody lived, because of you.}

She nodded, their foreheads bumping together as he bent down to hug her. “I’ll keep that in mind next time they leave me out of a mission.”

His telepathic laugh made her head ache a little, but it was good to hear before he left the room.

“We stayin’?” Angelo asked, playing possum again.

Jubilee laughed softly, so as not to wake Paige. “Nah…” She squeezed the skin wrapped around her fingers, too weak to stand up and climb into his bed. “Maybe just a day.”

“Yeah,” His skin surrounded her hand. “Just for old time’s sake.”