The Xavier Institute. Jean Great walks through a corridor and calls out ‘Jubilee…are you in here?’ Though voiced in genuine concern, Jean Grey’s question rings as hollow as the sound of her footsteps on the cold metal floor. Truth is, she knows exactly where Jubilee is, how long she has been here, why she chose the Professor’s ready room, and what her youngest teammate is thinking. Jean knows these things because she is a mutant, born with the power to read minds and telekinetically move objects with the slightest thought. There have been many times in Jean’s life - first as Marvel Girl, later as a genetic template to the cosmic Phoenix entity, that she has felt blessed by the ability to reach out and touch another’s mind. To share their pain, their joy, their feelings of hopelessness, of happiness. But this is not one of those times.
Jean enters the ready room and sees Jubilation Lee sitting on a chair, creating some plasma “fireworks”. ‘I know, I know - “this area is off limits! All of Professor Xavier’s most important information is stored here! If you want someplace to sulk, try the Danger Room”! You’re like not the only person who reads minds, ya’know’ Jubilee exclaims. ‘Not at all. But I’m apparently much better at it than you are’ Jean replies, informing Jubilee that the only reason she is here is to make sure she is okay after everything that happened.
‘If you’re waiting for me to wilt and start blubbering, forget it. I don’t do that crying thing!’ Jubilee tells Jean that if she wants to know what she is thinking, then she can sum it up in two words: ‘Life sucks’ she declares. ‘Yes. Sometimes it does’ Jean replies, before asking Jubilee if she would like to talk about it. ‘Why? Is talking about it going to change anything?’ Jubilee mutters. ‘Not even a little, Jubilee. The only thing that might chance is the way you feel about what you - what all of us - have just gone through’ Jean explains. ‘FINE!’ Jubilee snaps. ‘Then you start - Ms Sally Jean Grey Raphael - tell me what you’re feeling!’ Jubilee shouts.
‘Fair enough. I’m sad. Hurt. Angry. Frustrated. But mostly…concerned’ Jean replies. ‘About me?’ Jubilee asks. ‘Yes. About you’ Jean tells her. I…I don’t know why I shouldda been surprised by everything that went down’ Jubilee begins, hugging her knees. She tells Jean that it is not like they didn’t see it coming a mile away, but that it is different when it actually happens. ‘No matter what you do to psych yourself up…no matter how much you say to yourself “I can handle this”, ya really can’t.
Jubilee tells Jean that it is making your stomach muscles tight because you are expecting a punch to the gut, then at the last second, life decides to kick you in the teeth instead. ‘I mean, it was just - what, six hours ago - practically everybody was either still cleaning up in Texas, or hanging out in Japan with the Head Twins - the whole mansion was as quiet as a - it was real quiet. Except in the med-lab - that’s where everybody was hanging out on a account of the pim - uh - on account of Illyana being sick and all’. Jubilee explains that she and Illyana were in the sick bed part, while Doctor MacTaggert and the Professor were butting heads over what to do for Colossus’ sister.
Six Hours Ago:
Jubilee holds a Bamf doll up to Illyana, while Dr Moira MacTaggert tells Professor Charles Xavier that she doesn’t mean to be negative, but that this is getting them nowhere. ‘We need a fresh perspective on this information we have concerning the child’s genetic deterioration. And barring that - we need a miracle’ Moira exclaims. Professor X looks at something on a screen as he tells Moira that once the Gold Team returns from Dallas with Forge, he is certain they can, at the very least, find some treatment to arrest the progress of this disorder. ‘“Certain“, are ye?’ Moira asks. ‘Where there’s life, Moira…’ Xavier replies.
Sitting on Illyana’s bed, Jubilee makes an attempt to speak in German: ‘Auf wiedersehen. Acch. Gesundheit. Sauerkraut’ she tries, before Illyana suddenly smiles, and exclaims ‘Katya!’ This confuses Jubilee: ‘“Katya”, what?’ Jubilee asks, as Kitty Pryde enters the chambers. ‘She was referring to me’ Kitty tells Jubilee, explaining that Katya is Russian for “Kitty”. Jubilee scowls at Shadowcat and mutters ‘Duh with a capital H. Like I’m new to this planet or something?’
Holding up some sheets, Kitty thanks Jubilee for looking after Illyana while she got the fresh linen. ‘No biggie’ Jubilee mumbles. ‘Not like I haven’t been keeping an eye on her for the past few weeks’. In Russian, Illyana asks Kitty if there is any word from her brother. Kitty responds in Russian, telling Illyana that Colossus will be home by dawn, and he asked that she promises to get plenty of rest before he comes back.
Jubilee admits to Jean that she could have shown less attitude, but that there was something about Kitty Pryde that totally torked her off. Jubilee points out that Shadowcat had not been an X-Man in, like, a zillion years, and after being back in the Mansion for five minutes she is acting as if she owns the place. She tells Jean that she had no idea what the two were talking about, but that it was clear Kitty just being there made Illyana really happy. ‘Which is the part I don’t get…Kitty’s old, like - what, sixteen, seventeen? Illyana is barely seven. Yet the two of ‘em act like they’re the bestest buds in the world’ Jubilee frowns.
Jean informs Jubilee that Shadowcat and Illyana go way back, as there was a time when Illyana was older than she is now, when she and Kitty were closer in age. ‘Yer losing me, Red’ Jubilee mutters. ‘Not surprising’ Jean agrees, before telling Jubilee that it would be easier if she showed her, and switches on a monitor, depicting images of Shadowcat and a teenage Illyana - Magik, as well as a photograph of Magik and the New Mutants. ‘I realize you’re not a big fan of studying, but all the information about the X-Men’s past - in all its incarnations - is in the archives’ Jean remarks.
‘From the first graduating class here at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters - through the second generation X-Men, to X-Factor, and the -’ Jean begins, as Jubilee interrupts: ‘- the pre-X-Force dudes, the New Mutants. So who’s the hot-looking blonde?’ Jean decides to start at the beginning, and explains that when Illyana was first brought to the States as the hostage of the lunatic assassin Arcade - ‘Her I recognize!’ Jubilee shouts as an image of the young Illyana appears. ‘Do you want to hear this, or not?’ Jean asks. ‘Scuse me for breathing’ Jubilee mutters.
Jean continues, revealing that, after an unfortunate encounter with an inter-dimensional warlock called Belasco, Illyana emerged from Limbo seven years older, and with her mutant ability to create teleportation discs fully developed. Although her childhood was shattered. Jean explains that Illyana joined and worked well with other members of the New Mutants, but that she always felt as if she was “an outsider among outsiders”. However, she became best friends with Kitty Pryde, perhaps because of their age, or perhaps because of their similar feelings about not quite fitting in.
Jubilee points out that even after Illyana reverted back to her original age, and she was returned to her parents in Russia, Kitty made a point to stay in touch through cards and letters. ‘Even though the kid had no memories about them being friends?’ Jubilee asks. ‘Even though’ Jean confirms. ‘Cool’ Jubilee utters, before telling Jean that if she wants to go check on Colossus, or someone important, but Jean assures her that she is already doing that. ‘Now, you were saying? Kitty had arrived and was watching over Illyana -’ Jean reminds her.
Six Hours Ago).
Morning arrived, and the Blackbird returned with Jean Grey, Storm and other members of the Gold Team - Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Bishop, and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin - Illyana’s brother. Jubilee, the Professor, Moira and Shadowcat waited in the hangar bay for everyone. ‘Lighten up, peoples! I haven’t seen so many long faces since the Champions disbanded’ Bobby joked as he exited the Blackbird. But he quickly shut up and looked concerned. ‘While everyone is gathered here - WHO is looking after my sister?’ Colossus demanded as he stormed down the hangar bay. ‘If I can’t trust any of you to tend to her needs in my absence, then perhaps I should not leave her in your care?’ Colossus declared.
Shadowcat began to cry, so Moira hugged her, while Xavier called out ‘Peter? Son…I’m sorry. We did everything we could. Colossus did not even turn around. He made no sound. No reaction. He didn’t sob nor did he punch anybody.
Jubilee tells Jean that since she has been hanging with the X-Men, she has mixed it up with Brood-things, Sentinels, Acolytes and everything. ‘So how is it ya can save the world every morning pre-wheaties…but when it comes to saving one little girl…zip?’ Jubilee reminds Jean that she asked her what she is feeling, and begins to cry as she declares that she feels like she just wants to be left alone. Jean puts her arms around Jubilee and hugs her close as she tells that we come into this world alone, and leave the same way. ‘The time we spend in between…time spent alive, sharing, learning…together…is all that makes life worth living’.