St. John dropped on the edge of the bed.
"You'd think by now you'd have told me what the hell is going on and why you're not surprised the room looks like this."
Jubilee turned slowly, giving him a view of her suddenly stiffening back. Uh-huh, like she thought she could get away with that. Then she was facing him, brown eyes dark.
"You remember when Specter got to the Mansion?"
St. John braced himself on one arm and nodded slowly, watching Jubilee lean against the desk in a bad attempt at nonchalance. He knew better.
"You know why we were all restricted from the sublevels without escort during that time?"
St. John took that in, frowning as he considered his answer. He honestly hadn't thought about it, and that worried him. Too caught up in the drama of Bobby, he supposed, a little smile curling up his lips in memory. Glancing at Jubilee, his smile faded.
"You telling me Rogue had something to do with that Specter guy?"
Jubilee nodded, eyes fixing to the left of his.
"She apprehended him near Regina and handed him over to Xavier's people in Canada." Jubilee rethought that, frowning. "Well, she drained him down to coma and left him tied to a motel bed, if my guess is right."
"Yeah. That's why he was at the Mansion so long--Jean and the Prof had to fix him up before they could turn him over in connection to a string of murders across the States and in Canada."
"That girl Alice that Rogue mentioned early on?" St. John tried to process everything. "Honey, you're gonna have to explain a few things. I didn't--"
"Yeah." Jubilee frowned again, then shook her head. "Look, Johnny, when we get home, I'll show you the letters, okay? 'Cause there's something I think you'll need to know--"
Jubilee froze and St. John frowned, watching the eyes go wide and dark, pupils eating up the brown, fixing on him so suddenly and intensely that he wasn't sure what to do.
"Johnny, check the bathroom again."
Blinking, he half rose, watched her hand come up in a rapid sequence that seemed to suggest he should make a move toward the bathroom door post-haste. Instinct said obey.
St. John slowly straightened, watching her jerk her head a little at the front door, and dawning understanding made him freeze.
"Gotta go anyway," he said slowly. "Be right back."
Jubilee was already moving, two steps to the door to flick the lock--shit, why hadn't he thought to do that?--and grabbing his coat and hers off the desk in one movement.
"Whoever's out there knows we know. Or something. Bathroom window big enough?" She pushed him inside and jerked the door shut, fumbling for the tiny lock that had about as much chance of keeping someone out as he had of becoming pope. Shit.
There was a knock on the outside door, and St. John jerked around, feeling a rush of sudden adrenaline that made him dizzy. Surprised, he reached out with one hand, bracing it on the bathroom wall.
"Excuse me?" The voice was liquidly feminine, like thick, warm honey drizzled moist and sticky across his bare back. St. John shivered a little at the sound, shutting his eyes briefly. He knew her. He knew he did. When he opened his eyes, Jubilee was climbing into the bathtub, going up on her tiptoes, checking the window locks. He spared her a quick glance, then walked back to the bathroom door, hand hesitating as it pressed against the smooth plywood.
"Okay, it's big enough, I think." Jubilee seemed very far away. "Lemme get these damn locks..."
"Is anyone there? Could you let me inside, please?"
She sounded--familiar. Warm, familiar, safe, wrapping him in soft wool and promises of safety. His hand slid down on the door until it reached the lock, flicking it open without much in the way of thought. Behind him, metal screeched softly, and he figured Jubilee must have gotten the window open. Why, he had no idea. Obviously, there was nothing to worry about behind the front door. Nothing at all.
"John, gimme a boost, babe."
Her voice brought his feet to a cold stop in the middle of the doorway, and the temperature of the room seemed to drop suddenly. Blinking, he stumbled a little, grabbing for the wall. What the *hell* was going on?
"Hello? It's very cold out--could you open the door, please?"
Oh, that wasn't good. She was cold. It was ten below out there, at very least, and sympathetic goosebumps marched up his arms and legs, making him shiver. So damn cold out there. Worried, he opened the bathroom door and got two steps across before a hand locked on his elbow, spinning him around. One look at his face, and Jubilee stepped back, eyes going wide and dark for some reason.
"Johnny, what the hell is with you?"
He blinked, caught off-guard by the strange quality in her voice. Like fear.
"She's cold, Jubes," he answered, shivering a little and trying to control the sudden chattering of his teeth. Cold. Very cold. "Gotta open the door." Surely Jubilee heard her. He tried to shake her off and unaccountably, Jubilee hang on, fingers digging into his arm. "Jubilee, stop it! Lemme get the door!"
"Johnny?" She was almost purring, and it sent a warm liquid rush through his body, up his spine, as if her warm hand was stroking his naked back. "Could you open the door now?"
"Just a second," he called. He knew her, he knew he did. Trusted her. Taking Jubilee by the shoulders, he pushed her away, noticing, as if from a distance, that she hit the bed a little hard. Well, damn, why'd she get in his way? Shit. Three more steps, and his hand was on the doorknob.
"Johnny. Empath." She was on her feet, hands ungloved, and tiny sparkles glittered around her hands when he turned around. It was instinct--he raised both hands, feeling the heat begin. "Empath, Johnny. She's sending you emotion. Listen to me, babe. Look at what you're doing."
"Johnny, is something wrong? Is someone stopping you?"
Yes, she was, and he damned well wished she'd mind her own goddamn business. Heat flared to bright life on his palm as he turned on Jubilee and watched her back off two steps. Good. He put a hand behind him, fumbling for the doorknob, but through his gloves, it was hard to feel the lock.
"Make her stop, Johnny. I'm very cold."
"Johnny, get a grip, man!" She was circling closer, and he felt his body prepare for a fight as she took a step toward him. A tiny ball of fire appeared in the center of his palm, and the heat startled him. "Johnny, listen to me. It's Jubes. Get the hell away from that door."
"St. John, she's not--" There, lock was turning, and St. John grinned, jerking the doorknob open and turning to face her.
"Thank you," she whispered, stepping inside.
St. John forgot Jubilee existed.
She was perfect. Blonde and tiny, in a soft white coat that emphasized the rich dark blue of her eyes. Like ice. Like--someone else he knew. Maybe. Or not. Didn't matter. No one he knew had eyes like that. No one. He felt the presence of others with her, but couldn't quite look away from the huge blue eyes that stared into his with such perfect trust.
She lightly pulled off a glove and her small fingers slid over his wrist, over the edge of his glove, and the touch of skin on skin was startlingly intense, washing through him like a warm white fog of pure sensation. He leaned into the bare touch, barely breathing.
"Where is your companion, Johnny?"
Companion. Someone here. Someone--
"The girl with you, Johnny?"
"Jubilee," he said softly, and she smiled.
"Jubilee. Where is she, Johnny?"
Blinking, St. John tried to re-orient himself in the here and now, looking around the room. Where the hell *was* Jubilee? Was she still pissy? Damn. He hated when she acted like that. Sometimes she could be so damn jealous, like when Piotr and Kitty started dating....
"She was--" he stopped, watching in surprise as three men pushed by him and went into the bathroom. The larger one knocked open the door with a single kick, revealing the empty room and the open window above the bathtub. Jubes had left. But--why? They weren't in danger after all. A squeeze on his hand slid her nail against his skin and he dismissed the thoughts, turning his full attention to the blue eyed woman beside him.
"I'm Janine," she said softly. Her head tilted and she raised her other hand, brushing lightly against his face in a warm caress that made him close his eyes. "All of you--get out of here. Go get the girl and the car. I think we have one. Johnny." The hand left his wrist and it was like withdrawal, making him jerk toward her again. She had the softest skin he'd ever felt. "You're a mutant, aren't you?"
"What's your classification?"
St. John blinked a little. Something he wasn't--
--supposed to tell. Something important. Something....
"Alpha," she breathed, as if he'd told her something wonderful, and he found himself smiling, glad he'd made her happy. The slim hand slid up his arm, stopping on his shoulder and brushing the skin of his neck just above the edge of the turtleneck. "That's wonderful, Johnny. What are you doing here?"
"Looking for--for someone." For the life of him, the name stuck on his tongue, and her smile faded, her nail pressed into his skin lightly.
"Who, Johnny? A girl? A friend?"
He nodded, mouth dry as she stroked his throat with the tip of her nail.
"Brunette with streaked hair? I met her once, Johnny, but I forgot her name. What's her name?"
Elizabeth Andrews. Erin Costevas. Janet Reed. Marie Summers. Rogue.
"Elizabeth," he whispered, and winced when her nail dragged down his jugular. It felt as if she was drawing blood, and he hated that her smile was gone. Her disappointment and hurt crashed through him. He'd hurt her. God, he didn't want to do that. Not ever, not ever, not *ever*....
"That's not the right one, Johnny. Is it?"
Somehow, he was sitting on the bed, and she was sliding into his lap, unbuttoning her coat so the dark blue of her shirt was visible. All pale, creamy skin that looked tasteable. The long arms were bare, and she stroked down his face with soft fingers. He turned his head, brushing a kiss into her palm.
"What's her name?" The voice was silky just against his ear, and her hair brushed across his face. Her neck was so close, and he'd bet she tasted sweet. Leaning forward a little, he licked across her throat, felt a wave of pleasure and gratitude that she was letting him touch her.
"Yes, Johnny." Her hands slid down his shoulders, down to the hem of his sweater, and she pulled it up sharply, hands sliding slowly over his chest. He sucked in a breath as she leaned closer, warm against his cheek and neck. "That's good, baby. Tell me her name. What's her name, Johnny, this girl you're looking for? Tell me her name"
Her lips pressed against his ear and he let out a shaky breath.
The pain in his ear was blinding and he almost jerked away, before she lifted her head. His blood was on her lips, and she smiled, slowly, revealing even white teeth just the color of pearls.