Down the Dark Path: Mourning Strength– by Victor Moore
Disclaimer: Marvel owns almost everybody. Gainix owns Dr. Ikari Yui, and the blue girl (Val & Raven's daughter Irene) is a nod to Tilman Stieve's wonderful 'Tales of the Twilight Menshevik', while Elisabeth Lee is mine.
Continuity Watch: This takes place about twelve years after my other fan-fic 'Down the Dark Path' which is branches out differently from mid-page 22 UXM#256.
* ... * Denotes telepathic thought.
"When's this gonna be over, mommy?" Pouted a young girl, while blowing the bangs out of her brown eyes.
"Now Elisabeth, please show some respect. We're at a funeral." Jubilee softly chided her daughter. Putting a hand on her shoulder to remind her to be quiet, she turned to look at the speaker giving the eulogy, and promised herself that she would not break into tears.
"The world has been given a new lease on life, by the sacrifices of these four individuals that we honor here today. When all seemed doomed, they tackled our worst foe and won. Moreover, in doing so, united us all for a common goal and I pray a new era in our Civilization."
Jubilee saw the flashes of light from news photographers' cameras bounce of President Valerie Cooper. 'Wolvie would've hated this', she thought to herself. Blinking back tears that threatened to explode, she glanced at her fellow mourners. All were dressed in black suits or dresses. Those with identities to hide wore shades and/or wigs.
Rogue was sniffling as her husband Thor comforted her gently standing in line with the remaining Avengers, SpiderGirl, Wanda, Janet, and Henry Pym who was in a wheelchair and missing a leg. Behind them were Hawkeye and Moonstone, the only survivors from the Thunderbolts. To her left, were her teammates in Excalibur, Kitty who could not fight the tears anymore being held by her husband Pete Wisdom, Megan, Brian and Remy. Behind them were the X-Men Samuel Guthrie who has been their leader for three years now, Jean Grey, and Monet St. Croix. Mystique sat along side them being the only surviving member of X-Factor, then there was X-Force most of whose members she did not know. All of them were behind the politicians and their bodyguards, including Amelia Voght the new ruler of Genosha.
"A lot of men and women from our planet died nobly in that conflict, to allow our four brethren to accomplish their goal." At a signal from the President, four large statues of three men and one woman were uncovered and a collected gasp overcame the crowd. Four children holding flowers, two of whom were mutants, Valerie's and Mystique's daughter Irene who had blue skin and a boy with leathery wings on his back, approached and stood before the blonde woman.
Stepping forth she gingerly took a bouquet and placed it in front of the first statue. "Senator Steve Rogers and former Avenger known as Captain America, we honor you." She then bent down and kissed the statue's feet.
She heard a woman crying and turned to see Wanda embracing Janet as the shorter woman lost her composure and cried into her partner. Jubilee turned back to the speaker, holding her daughter closer.
Taking another batch of flowers, Valerie went to the next monument, and followed the same procedure.
"Eric Magnus Lehnsherr, former ruler of Genosha and advocate of Mutant rights. We honor you."
"Doctor Ikari Yui of the Japanese Ministry. We honor you.
"Captain Logan, former Canadian officer and member of X-Factor. We honor you."
Jubilee's knees shook, her heart felt ripped out of her, but still she managed to keep her emotions in check, barely. Feeling Elisabeth pat her hand, she looked down and smiled into those big brown eyes. She did not need to look at Kitty to know that the woman was crying.
The children stood in front of Valerie, and everyone watched as seven fighter jets screamed overhead trailing red smoke. Then four of them broke from formation and rocketed towards the heavens.
"Never forget, that we survived extinction due to their sacrifices. They fought for us, all of us. We can no longer hide behind our petty differences or prejudices any longer. It's past time that we grow up. Our planet is a fragile little world. For it to survive, she needs us, her children to protect and care for her. These four saviors have shown us the way. Now it's time to show them that we will learn from their example. Pray for them, pray for us. It will not be easy, but if it's one thing our history has shown us is that we love challenges.
"Now I humbly ask you to take a moment of silence for our fallen brethren."
Remarkably, everyone did so, but she did not notice. This moment saw her memories of Logan, her 'father', flash before her like an old movie reel. All of them, good and bad played out before her and she drank it all in. She watched him hug her close at Elisabeth Braddock's grave, what felt like so many years ago, him playing with little Elisabeth like any happy 'grandfather' would, and so many more instances where he touched her life. So caught up in the memories she did not notice at first that some one was speaking to her.
"Miss Lee. As Captain Logan's beneficiary, it's my honor to give you this as a symbol of a grateful world, a token of our appreciation of what he has done for us all." Valerie handed her an open box with a silver medal and plaque inside.
She could not keep her hands from trembling as she accepted it. A tear tried to leak forth as she read his name on the plaque just below the medal. Biting her lower lip, she nodded her head. She felt if she said anything, the little bit of her self-control would evaporate. She did not want that. She had to be strong, like he was.
Valerie then kissed her on each cheek, stepped back, and walked away followed by the four children and secret service guards.
Minutes later the service was over and many people came up to her and offered her their condolences for her loss. She smiled sadly at most of them and thanked them for their kind words. Some of them she hugged lending her support to them, especially Kitty and Janet. Those two were in shambles and a part of her wanted to join them.
"Remy?" She asked when he came up to her.
"Can you do me a favor?"
'Anything Jubes, you know dat."
Turning to her daughter she quietly stated. "Elisabeth, I want you to go with Remy for a bit. Mommy needs to be alone for a minute."
"But mommy, I wanna stay with you."
"I know dear, but look at poor uncle Remy, he's so sad that he needs you to cheer him up." As if on cue, Remy's shoulders sank and he put a lost look on his face.
"But you're sad too."
"Okay mommy. C'mon uncle Remy, maybe we can find some ice cream."
"Oh, do you really think so petite?" She heard him ask as the two walked away.
The grounds were nearly empty as she walked up to Logan's statue. "You're not really here y'know. None of you are. Everyone knows that, because when you died up in space, the explosion shone like a small sun in the dead of night.
"A part of me knows that you died how you wanted to, on your feet fighting the good fight. And I'm kinda glad it happened that way. But couldn't you have waited for a couple of years, say when Elisabeth was a grandmother or something.
"Speaking of Elisabeth, she doesn't believe that you're gone. She thinks that you'll come back, like you always did, no matter what I tell her. She loves you so much, that when she finally accepts it, it'll break her heart."
After a deep sigh, she continued, "I don't have to tell you that I love you. I always will. You know that, we made that pact after 'mom' died. To never wait to tell the other our feelings."
"I miss you Wolvie. It feels as if a part of me is gone. But I ain't gonna cry. I gotta be strong for Elisabeth, just as you were my strength. I... I gotta go. Do me a favor? When you see Betsy tell her I miss her and think about her as well. Bye."
Jubilee got up, looked around, and saw Voght talking to Peitro, who had a medal case like she did, and Luna in front of his father's statue. He saw her and acknowledged her presence with a tilt of his head. She returned the gesture.
"Jubilee?" Asked a familiar voice laced with concern.
"Yeah Red?" She stopped and looked at the tall woman in front of her.
"How are you holding up?"
Jubilee lowered her head and softly stated, "no."
"Don't hold it all in. It only makes is worse." Jean said as she squeezed her shoulder.
"I have to, Red. I have to be strong. I can't allow myself to cry."
"Because Logan wouldn't cry?"
"But you're not Logan."
"Yes it does." After a moment, Jean continued. "Logan would want you to be yourself Jubilee, and you need to mourn him."
"Yeah right, what would you know about mourning." As soon as she said it, she wished she could take it back. She saw the pain in those green eyes. "Oh Jean, I'm so sorry."
"I know you are. Don't worry about it.
"Yes, Scott's death was a hard time for me. At first I clung to some hope that he was still alive, somewhere out there. You remember how I was at that time, withdrawn and angry. I didn't mourn him till three years later. I had to realize that he was gone. Although I loved him with all my heart, I had to let him go. Do you know who taught me that?"
Jubilee shook her head.
"Logan did. In his own way, he helped me get over Scott's death. I don't want to see you bottle it all up inside yourself like I did."
"But it's so hard. I was a kid when Betsy died. Now I'm an adult with a child that I must be strong for. I can't allow myself to break down in front of her."
"What would Logan want you to do?"
"He would... he would want me to be myself."
"Yes. You are strong Jubilee, much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Showing your emotions is not a sign of weakness though. It too can be a strength."
"By mourning, one can continue with life. It gives us the strength to live."
"Do you miss him?"
"Very much. He was a great friend... and more."
"I miss him too Jean. I wish... I wish..." Jubilee never finished as the tears erupted and the sobs came forth. She poured her soul out as Jean hugged her.
After sometime the sobbing subsided and she left Jean's arms. "Thanks Red. I needed that."
"Anytime Jubilee. Anytime." Jean kissed her on the cheek then walked over to Logan's memorial and began to talk to it, she patted her belly a couple times while doing so.
Jubilee left her alone, and headed to the limousine where Remy and Elisabeth were waiting for her.
"Mommy!" The six-year-old girl exclaimed and hugged her.
"You feeling better now, chere?"
"Much. Thanks for looking out for her."
"Was my pleasure."
He looked surprised when she grabbed him and hugged him. Elisabeth tried to hug them both.
"Not dat I don't mind, but dat was for what exactly?" He asked, when she released him.
"For being there Gumbo, just for being there." Then Jubilee stood on her toes and kissed his cheek. "And that's for the dinner you're gonna buy us."
"I'm hungry uncle Remy." Elisabeth chimed up at him with big brown eyes.
"Not the cute face! Anything but dat!" He threw up his hands defensively and sighed. "Dere goes me life savings. Okay petite you win." He then helped the giggling girl get into the vehicle.
Jubilee looked back and saw Jean watching her. 'Thank you again,' she thought to the other woman.
*Be strong Jubilee.* Jean's telepathic response replied. *Be yourself.*
'I will.' Jubilee entered the car and closed the door.
As they left the memorial, she could almost visualize Logan smiling down on her from the clouds. "And Remy, I want some ice cream for desert."
"Me too, me too!" Elisabeth cried out with delight.
Not able to help themselves, they all broke into laughter.