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Jubilee has an assignment for Hope...

Jubilee sat yoga style on one of the chairs on the front porch of Xavier’s, and smiled at Hope as she appeared. It was several moments though before she spoke, almost as if she were caught on a thought.

Finally, she shook herself slightly and pulled out a phone, flicking to the timer on it before showing it to Hope. She did not turn it on just yet, there were explanations to give, after all.

“You’ve been doing well at your lessons but it’s time to put the skills you’ve learnt to the test. You’ve got two hours to find all the small chess pieces I’ve hidden about people in the mansion, without them knowing that you’re taking them or what you’re doing. Questions?”

Hope blinked once, then twice. "Uhm... how many do you have hidden? That knowledge would help me divide my time just a bit better. And do people know you hid those chess pieces on them?"

“Eleven people, scattered throughout the mansion,” Jubilee replied with a grin, considering what Remy had made her do as a test, this one was as easy as pie. “And no, they don’t. That would be cheating. Think of it as being able to use all your skill sets to get what you want.”

"Eleven people in two hours... you do not set your challenges lightly. And do you mean I am allowed to use other tricks then just pick pocketing?" Hope took in the information, her mind spinning quickly. "How many successful ones do I need to 'pass'?"

“Yes, as long as they don’t know what you’re doing, you’re free to use whatever means necessary,” Jubilee responded, giving Hope a relaxed smile. “And you won’t know that till you’re done. Like, gives you a bit more motivation, don’t you think?”

"Then I guess I better get to work... They are all here in the mansion?" Hope asked just before she exited the door.

“They were the last time I checked, that’s why you get a time limit. Well, apart from the fact that people might leave if you take longer. Like, remember that, you never want to spend a lot of time hanging around in any one place when you do this sort of thing.” Jubilee explained, her body the picture of relaxed as she watched Hope. “Marks tend to remember people who hang around for a long time.”

"Then I better get started. See you in two hours!" 

Hope finds her first target. 

"Ms. Jones? Angel? What are you doing here? Should you even be out of bed?" Hope frowned when she entered the kitchen, seeing Angel leaning against the counter as she attempted to reach for something. The purpose of finding the different chess pieces faded into the back of her mind for a bit.

Cookies. That was the goal. Cookies. Sooraya was at school, they were out of cookies, and the kitchen surely had some. Therefore, cookies. Of course, Angel's quest for cookies was hindered by the inability to properly utilize one of her arms -- damn surgery scars -- but that had never stopped her before. She jumped when Hope called her name and looked around. "Oh yeah, I'm good." Angel grinned. "I'm supposed to be moving a bit anyways. Ya know, exercise and all that. What's up?"

"And no one here to help you?" Hope hurried over. "I was looking for a little snack myself. May I help you over to a chair and I will fix something for the both of us?" She frowned a little once she came closer... was that something that resembled a knight in the sweat shirt that Angel was wearing?

"Well I wasn't expecting some cruel soul to put the cookies up so high," Angel admitted a bit sheepishly. "Help might be necessary. Thanks, Hope."

Hope moved to Angel's side where she had spotted the bulge. "Do you need to lean or can you manage it?" With one hand firmly on Hope's shoulder, they made their way to the table and chairs in the middle. "So what kind of cookies were you looking for?" Hope's hand inched closer to Angel's pocket, then quickly dipped inside, removing the small wooden object.

"Whatever you can get your hands on," Angel said brightly, more focused on cookies than anything else. "Unless there's Oreos. Then go for the Oreos."

"I am pretty sure there are Oreo's somewhere." Hope replied as she turned towards the cupboard, quickly slipping the chess piece in her pocket. It took three cupboards, but she unearthed a small package of them. "Do you want some milk to go with them?" She asked as she put the cookies on a small plate.

Angel beamed. "I like the way you think. Join me for a snack?"

"I am afraid I have to run." Hope replied apologetically as she put down the cookies and the milk in front of Angel. She had less then two hours afterall... 

On to the next location: the library... 

The kitchen had been a good start... with one chess piece at least present now in the little bag she had with her. Pausing for a moment, Hope considered other place where multiple people were present. Glancing around she spotted the door of the library. Shrugging internally, she went in. It was as good as a place of any to continue.

Pulling out an old favorite about art history she took a seat at one of the tables where she could oversee most of the library, trying to disconcern if someone had a chess piece in their pockets or bag. For the table next to her she recognized Ms. Pryde, her laptop in front of her, a suspicious bulge in her bag. Hope rose, moving to the other table. "Sorry, it was a little drafty over there..."

"Sorry about what?" Kitty asked. She glanced up and, seeing Hope there, smiled. Her eyes drifted back over to her laptop screen where a snowscape beckoned but she quickly hit the spacebar to pause her game.

Hope pulled up a smile. "For disturbing you? You seemed quite far away with what you were doing." She gestured towards the laptop, though her eyes kept a close watch on the bulge in the laptop bag. She took a seat next to it, putting the book down next to it.

"Nah. It was just a video game. I spend too much time on that when I'm trying to distract myself from real life. I just thought I'd do it down here so I could pretend I was being social," Kitty admitted. She leaned back in her chair, oblivious to her bag. "But don't we all? What're you up to today?"

"Got in a bit of a discussion with my art history professor last week." Hope admitted. "So I figured I would look to see if I could find an argument or two more to bolster my case." She picked up the book, showing it to Kitty and as she did that she gave the bag a little push so it dropped on the ground.

"Oh, I am sorry. So stupid of me." She quickly ducked down, gathering up the bag, liberating the chess piece in the meantime.

"No worries." Kitty took the bag absently, fighting the urge to let her eyes drifted back to the screen. "Need any help with that argument? My art history's spotty but depending on the subject, maybe I know something."

At least if it involves stolen antiquities. Kitty didn't voice the thought aloud. That particular part of her history had managed to remain well-buried thus far.

Hope slipped the chess piece in her purse as she opened up her book. "We were discussing this painting and we had a difference of opinion about..." 

Some targets are more intimidating then others... or when Hope encountered Scott

It was, if he thought about it really hard, a sadly typical day. Wake up, paperwork, get into his office paperwork, lunch and then paperwork. It said something that a meeting with Charles was the high point of his day so far, what had once been a source of fear and disappointment had morphed into something else over time, a meeting of equals to discuss the day. Which was why Scott almost had a spring in his step as he made his way down the stairs towards the main study, he'd seen the new shipment of tea arriving that morning.

Hope fingered the four chess pieces in her pocket. Not bad, but it could have been better... She made her way to the area around the professor's office, knowing it was a fairly well-traveled part of the mansion. Taking the hallway that would go past the office, she spotted Mr. Summers coming her way.

Scott nodded idly at Hope, only mildly surprised to see her near the office, a friendly if pro-forma move as his mind skittered off to think about the latest training scenario he was planning. This was one he could make a little more tricky than the other's and he was looking forward to unveiling it on someone.

'Seriously...' Hope mentally growled at Jubilee when she spotted the top a king flashing out of the pocket of Scott jacket. She would have planted a piece on Scott Summers. And if she needed to get it, she would have to act fast since he was probably heading towards the professor's room. No time for anything elaborate... just a simple bump and grab then. With that she subtle changed directions.

A pen had appeared in the man's fingers, twirling round and round and round as he paced down the final set of stairs towards Charles' office, already planning out the meeting. If he could keep the professor away from talking about the latest training debacle and focus on the individual sessions then he'd be pretty happy with the day.

Three, two, one... Hope bumped into Scott and her hand shot out towards his pocket, hoping to seize the chess piece. Unfortunately she found her wrist locked in an immovable grip...

Scott's eyes twinkled with amusement as he gave Hope a small smile. The man didn't say anything, just kept his grip firmly on her hand neither pressing too hard or letting her slip away. With his free hand he reached up and pulled out the king from his upper jacket pocket before flicking it up into the air and catching it.

Hope gave him a shrug and returned the smile, conceding she had been caught. She nodded at the hand that was still being kept in an iron grip and raised an eyebrow, signaling to let go.

Scott tilted his head to the side, as of considering her request while he kept a tight grip on her wrist letting the moment pass for one, two, three long seconds before he finally released the girl's wrist. Before she had a chance to speak, or react the X-man held up a finger, and then twirled the chess piece between his fingers before slipping it back into his jacket pocket and tapping it, a small smile tugging at his lips.

Another grin flitted over her face as Hope eyes the pocket with the chess piece in it, but then she shrugged and continued on her way.
Chatting with a friend brings Hope another chess piece.

"You know, I still wonder how you are going to explain to people where you learned Asgardian when your book is finished." Hope commented as she leaned against the door jamb of the common room on the third floor.

"I plan on asking Thor's help on that. If he will even speak to me, that is. Plus there is Asgardian language hidden inside old Norse language. They look slightly similar. Put I figure that I won't always be around and Asgardian tech will. I rather people study it before they touch the magical item and cause wormholes to Frost Giant domains." Looking up at Hope for the first time since her arrival, "I am making my Thesis paper on the Asgardian language. Now, if I start a book on the root language on Dwarves they might start thinking I am pulling their legs."

"Seriously?" Hope replied as she moved closer, taking a seat next to Tandy on the couch. "An Avenger? Quite ambitious, is it not? And how do you plan on explaining where you learned the Asgardian language?"

"I would tell him I learned it from Baldr." She out down the pen, "I don't count on actually getting through to him but I thought I would at least try. Plus, how many people could say they were a thrall to Thor's brother and were freed?" Closing the book, "If it doesn't work I'll ask Doug."

"Tandy, you know... even with Thor here on earth... for people who have not seen what we have seen here... I think it might make you sound completely ludicrous." Hope ventured carefully, distracted for a moment from her objective. "Or it might draw a whole lot of attention you might be very unhappy with and the mansion with you."

Tandy frowned at her friend, "You think I want to make profit off this? Have the world read this? No. The purpose of this book is just for the mansion. Like I said people have been touching magical items without thinking." She stood up from the couch and looked down at Hope, "I am not an idiot." She turned away from Hope and walked over to the table. "As for my thesis I have a work around for that."

Hope raised a sharp eyebrow at Tandy. "You know me better than that. I simply do not want to see you ridiculed or hurt in any way because of this. Though you have made curious how you plan to handle your thesis." she admitted... and suddenly it also occurred to her why she was here. While her friend had her back still turned to her, she scanned her form for any telltale bulges, then her possessions.

"I know. I still have another year before I actually have to start my thesis but all my professors are like 'start thinking about it'. I'll have a plan by then. Strange, never thought I would be going to school to learn linguistics, thought I would be heading to Hollywood as a director or something."

"I think we all are on very different paths then what we imagined years ago. I mean... would you have pictured me majoring either in political science when I first came here... or adding business classes as well?" Hope's eyes narrowed at Tandy's purse that was laying nearby. There was a suspicious bulge there. "What I wanted to ask... do you happened to have any of those small safety pins left you always carry around in your bag?" She gestured at the purse. "I have seem to run out of those."

"Nope. Thought you were going to be a professional party planner." Looking over at her friend. "Yea. There should be a few in the bottom. Go for it."

"Event planning is still useful skill set to have. You never know when it might come in handy. And thanks." She picked up Tandy's purse and dug in. She quickly found the chess piece and hid it in her hand. "It's really on the bottom, are they not?" As soon as Tandy look away for a moment, she hid the piece in her pocket. "Ah, there they are."

"That is where they generally end up if I have some." Tandy walked back and sat down once more. "Did you find any?"

"I did." Hope held up her hand with the small pins in it. "I will return them as soon as possible." Leaning over, she returned the bag to it's previous spot and rose from the couch. "I am afraid I need to head out though. Thanks for borrowing me these?"

"No need to return them. But I will let you know how my future thesis turns out." Tandy gave her friend a smile.

"That sounds great. See you later!"

The search continues outside. 

50 degrees was barely outdoors weather, but after the winter's yoyo temperatures, Billy wasn't going to chance letting it pass by. He'd found a semi-secluded corner of the garden, parked himself on a large overturned planting pot, and sounds of guitar chords floated across the yard, occasionally pausing while he scribbled down ideas.

Her two hours were nearly up... she was pretty sure of that. So she had moved outside in the hope of perhaps finding someone over there who had one of the chess pieces. The faint sound of music lured towards it's source and she smiled when she saw Billy playing the guitar. "How is it going? For what I could hear, you are working well..."

"Hey, Hope," Billy greeted as he looked up at placed the voice. "Thanks. This is just tinkering. You should come to a real show, sometime." He tucked the guitar pick between the strings, laying the instrument across his lap. "It's going pretty good. Just enjoying the weather while it lasts. How about you?"

"It was getting kind of stuffy inside and I wanted to get some fresh air. What were you working on?" As he had put down his guitar, she spied a small queen chess piece peeking out from his left pocket. She took a seat at his left side and gestured towards where he had been making his notes. "May I see?"

Billy flashed the pad toward her long enough to reveal a mash-up of musical notes, guitar chords, lyrics, and cryptic shorthand. "You're welcome to, though I doubt it would make sense to anyone but me. I could play you a bit, though, if you want."

"I thought I saw a bit that looked familiar..." Hope leaned closer to get another look, her hand closest to Billy moving towards his pocket. "There on the left." She pointed it out and hummed the tune. "I recognize it from my violin lessons." Her hand flashed out and pulled out the piece, tucking it away in her own pocket.

"You're pretty good at sight reading," Billy complimented, not catching the sleight of hand trick. "We should play together sometime. I don't do a lot of classical guitar, but it's fun at times, and I probably have a duet or two somewhere in my sheet music."

"It's been a while since I played the violin, but I would enjoy that." Hope pulled her phone from her pocket, pretending to have had a message and frowned at it. "I am sorry, Billy, but it seems I have to make a phonecall..."

"No problem," Billy said, giving a small wave. "If I can find that music, I'll drop it by your room at some point so you can look it over. Thanks for stopping by."

"I look forward to it. I hope you have a good day!" With those words, Hope continued on her way. 

There are others who are masters of the art of distraction: enter Marie-Ange

Half an office. This room had been half of someone's office once upon a time. Now it had a tidy little workspace with an easel, table, stool, miniature refrigerator and sunlamp that acted as an island amidst a sea of stacked boxes of art supplies and half-finished canvasses.

There was music on, quiet but recognizable as upbeat techno in the European style, and an electric kettle humming away atop the mini-fridge, and Marie-Ange was in a pair of soft cargo pants and a t-shirt that was clearly not hers, because only Doug Ramsey would have originally purchased a Snorlax t-shirt. She perched on the stool, and swiped at the paint on her hands with a damp rag. "Unless you are pizza you should have made an appointment with my secretary."

"I will keep that in mind for next time." Hope replied as she paused just outside the door opening. She had not immediately thought of it, but now that she passed Marie-Ange's atelier... it would be no surprise if Jubilee had hidden a chess piece here. "You mentioned you had a small space here, but I haven't seen it before."

"I try to keep it under wraps, yes? If only a few know about this place, then I only have the visitors I want." Clearly implying that if Hope knew about the room, she was welcome to visit. Marie-Ange slid her stool away from the table, and hooked a spare stool with her foot. "I can offer a seat, but I am afraid not much else, unless you would like to wait for tea? I promise, no mushrooms this time."

"I am afraid I do not have that long. I guess I was just being curious, having never been here." Hope stepped inside, scanning the room under the pretense of her being curious about the small space. "What are you working on?"

"Ah, that reminds me, I will need you to pose for cards soon." Marie-Ange said absently. "If you have gone to any hellfire events, I may need to you pose nude. Those sorts of cards always work better without a body double." She pulled a sheet of tracing paper off a canvas, to show some linework that was clearly a naked Warren Worthington. "That man is far too willing to take off his pants for me whenever I ask, and not even once ever for anything risqué. Just for art."

Her mind was suddenly wrenched away from her search for the chess piece. "Wait, what? You wish for me to pose nude? And what card are you talking about?" Hope blinked, now focusing on Marie-Ange.

Marie-Ange nodded. "Of course. You are associated with the Hellfire Club, and you have been inside the sphere of Doug's influence. Goodness, there are half a dozen cards easily that I would need to draw." She reached past Hope to point to an open box of half-completed tarot cards. "I presume you have no illusions about what Doug looks like undressed, so if you need examples of poses, there are several in that box of him, and others."

"I've seen bits and pieces..." Hope admitted, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. It was a lot less then it would have been previously though. "Usually I try to watch not too much when people partake in those activities. Still..." She reached over to the box and pulled out the various cards, examining the art work of the first one (without any nude people) with a knowing eye. "These are beautiful."

Then she went on to the second... which indeed did include a nude Doug. Her blush intensified just a little as she examined the card. "Nice... very nice..." Was her only verbal reaction though. Hope continued looking through the cards when she suddenly recognized someone else. "You didn't tell me Mr. Worthington was going to be in those cards?!?!"

"Warren? Oh goodness he is in more than just his own. Warren is one of my favorite people to draw." Marie-Ange said, laughing. "He is perfect, he hates clothes, he understands that I am not laughing at his penis, and he sends back actual criticism when he is done admiring himself. He is an excellent body double for half the mansion too." She couldn't quite stop smiling, and pinched a few of the cards from the stack. "Perhaps I should confiscate the ones I am in myself, if you are this scandalized."

"Not scandalized. Just... surprised. He is my boss at XFI." Hope corrected as she studied the card a little closer. "I can see why you choose to use him as a model though. I would say he is quite easy on the eyes." Her eyes twinkled and her blush faded a bit as she got over her first unease. She put the card to the side, this time pulling out one of the cards Marie-Ange had been holding. "I like the color play you have going on here."

"You work with Warren and you are surprised that he wants to take his pants off and be immortalized in art almost every waking moment?" Marie-Ange said, with a little laugh. "I rather like that one too, and Alexander is so well suited to ocean colours." Only a little abruptly, she pulled one of the sketchpads out of the middle of a stack and flipped through to find a few half-finished sketches of Alex and Lorna with merfolk tails. "See? All those blues and greens."

"Wow, they look great." Hope commented after she'd scanned the drawings with a knowledgeable eye. "And Warren... I should have known." She shook her head ruefully. "I hate to do this... but can I come by another time and see your other drawings? I'd like to see some more, but I have... other obligations."

"Are any of those obligations related to the break-in of my art studio last night by a certain crochet ninja?" Marie-Ange said, with a fairly amused grin. "I was left a note and a time limit for you, and probably half a dozen other suggestions that I did not bother to read." She took a chess piece out of the pocket of her cargo pants. "Jubilee knows better than to try to reverse pick-pocket me, so she was quite open about the request, she just did not tell me who she was teaching. Really, I should throw her in the dumpster for sending you after me. Did she send you after any of my co-workers too?"

"Uhm... Artie and Ms. Romanoff? I will be honest... I did not have much luck with them either." Hope shook her head. "Let's just say I still have much to learn. But uhm... let's think about the posing and I will get in touch with you?"

"I suspect Jubilee rather set you up for a bit of failure. It is how she was taught." Marie-Ange said, all seriousness. "Our mentor used to say, dere is always someone out dere better den you, chere." She patted a sketchbook on her drawing table, wrapped in leather string tied in knots. "Perhaps I should ask Doug to help you work on focusing even when someone is determined to distract you. Maybe once you are more comfortable with the idea of posing for a few drawings, yes?"

"Trust me, I had that lesson reinforced well today." Hope shook her head at herself. "And to work on that... might be a good idea. I'll keep it in mind." Tucking the chess piece away, she added: "J'espère que vous avez une bonne après-midi, Marie-Ange. Au revoir."

And another one aka Clarice in the Medlab.

It was something of a longshot, but Hope steadily made her way down the stairs to the medlab. She just needed an suitable excuse... Simplest excuse there was though... if you were a woman... and it was not even a lie... She poked her head around a few doors after knocking, looking for one of the people who worked here. "Oh, Ms. Ferguson."

"Clarice," she replied, "Ms. Ferguson is....I don't know who. Your third grade teacher probably. Not me," she didn't like the formality of titles, especially when they made her feel old. Today's scrubs, in a snub to maturity, were in fact bedazzled along the neck and shoulders.

"Clarice..." Hope repeated with a nod. "I was wondering if you perhaps had some Midol I could use. I ran out, my roommate is not home and my back has already started aching..." While she spoke, she scanned the office to see if she could spot any of the chess pieces Jubilee had mentioned.

"Oh sure," that was easy and it was an over the counter medication. Going to the cabinet, Clarice unlocked it and searched for the correct bottle for a moment before shaking out two pills and handing them to Hope in a little plastic cup. "I'll get you some water, too. Cramps are the worst."

As Clarice moved Hope watched closely and there definitely was a small bulge in one pocket. Nothing else seemed to be in there, so... Her eyes narrowed and she nearly didn't notice the PA holding out a small plastic cup. "Thank you. Usually if I can knock them out early enough... I will not have that much trouble the rest of the time, but if it gets going... Ouch!"

"Periods are the worst," she agreed easily, "I don't get the back aches, but I get cramps and stuff. It's no fun no matter what happens," on the other hand, if it meant not being pregnant, then she was good with that. Clarice had always assumed she'd have kids someday, but that wasn't looking likely and it had nothing to do with her lack of relationship. She wasn't sure she wanted to bring a kid that would likely have an obvious mutation into this world.

Now how to get the chess piece that was in the pocket? She could trip, but that might result in her staying a lot longer. Hope stepped closer to where Clarice was standing, her right hand to the side where the pocket was. "Would I be able to take a few with me? Just to tide me over until I have the chance to go in town and get some for myself?"

Taking midol incorrectly wasn't likely, but it still wasn't something that Clarice wanted to encourage either, "I'll give you two more pills," she agreed, "which you can take in four more hours. You think you can get to a store within the next eight hours?" That shouldn't be too difficult, especially since many were open 24 hours a day.

"That should be doable." Hope easily agreed. As Clarice turned to get out the pills from the cabinet again, Hope's hand flashed out and she quickly slipped the chess piece from the pocket before slipping it into one of her own.

Giving Hope two more tablets, this time in a little plastic baggie so they wouldn't get damaged, Clarice smiled, "There you go. Feel better. No one likes it when Aunt Flow comes to visit."

"So true." Hope replied as she tucked the tablets away. "Thanks, Clarice. Hope you have a good day." With those words she slipped from the room.
A final target.... 

Only ten minutes to go before her two hours were up... Hope had already started making her way back to the room where Jubilee was waiting, seven chess pieces in a small bag she had with her. But maybe she would run into someone else, who might just be carrying one more in his or her pocket and she'd be able to make eight...

Artie had just finished a shift in the ops room and was headed back to his room, now-empty travel mug and bag of snacks balanced in one hand, phone in the other, eyes on the twitter feed he was scrolling through.

She stifled a small yawn as she automatically scanned Artie's figure for the tell tale bump or bulge. Her eyes narrowed a little as he passed and she spotted something that looked like a knight poking from his pocket.

Thinking quickly, Hope pulled a piece of paper from her bag and dropped it on the floor. "Sorry, did you just drop this?" She called after Artie.

He stopped and turned, shrugging and mouthing "I don't know." as he stepped in to look.

As he bent over to pick up the paper, Hope stepped back a little, her eyes finding the chess piece. Now if she was quick, she could just pull it out and tucked it away. Unfortunately, when her fingers closed around the small piece, a hand wrapped around her wrist as everything he held clattered to the floor.

Artie pulled and twisted, flipping her over his hip to land on the floor with a thud. He'd been slow - she could have lifted it if she'd been faster but she hadn't. "Nice try". The text floated in the air, green on purple.

"Obviously I need more practice." Hope commented from the ground, rubbing her hip where she had landed. "I guess you have had to deal with pickpockets before though?"

Artie shrugged a maybe. "Be less obvious in your approach. I'm not carrying papers so why would I drop them? Pull me in with a cat video instead or just push past me." He tossed Hope's purse down onto the floor and picked up his phone. "Bring my things past my room later tonight."

"Definitely keeping that in mind for next time." Hope replied as she got to her feet and gathered her purse. Pretty obvious what he was saying actually... "And you can take them with you right now..."

He smirked. "Once you've gone. No second chances this time."

"Going already." Hope returned his smile as she started to head down the hallway. Time to meet Jubilee any way.

And evaluation time! 

"Here you are..." Hope quietly walked in, the seven chess pieces she had gathered firmly in one hand. "So... how did I do?"

“Interesting,” Jubilee noted, eyeing the chess pieces. She flipped herself back upright from her aerial yoga pose and grabbed the towel she’d placed nearby. She gestured for Hope to follow her as she headed to the gym exit. “What did you learn?”

"That I could still use some practice with distraction mostly." Hope followed, tucking the pieces away in a small. "That is still something I find hard. I get too intent on the goal."

“It’s a good skill,” Jubilee agreed, stopping to drop her towel in one of the laundry bins after she rubbed her hair dry. She headed back to the lockers for her toiletries. “How would you work on improving it?”

"Practice... lot's of practice." Hope replied. "It needs to become automatic."

“Doug graduated you, right?” Jubilee asked, opening her locker to rummage around in the bottom for a moment. She pulled out a small package wrapped in bright yellow paper covered in silver stars and streamers. “Open it.”

"He did." Hope confirmed as she opened up the colorful package. From it emerged a small silver trophy. The word 'Winner' was engraved upon it, along with her full name. "Thanks!" She exclaimed. "Does that mean I have completed the exercise to your satisfaction?" She added just to clarify, her voice calm once more.

Jubilee gestured for Hope to sit, turning back to her locker for a moment to grab out a few essentials before secreting them about her person. She closed the door before taking a seat in front of Hope and gave her a long, searching look.
“You did okay for an amateur, kid. You did enough to pass even,” She started, crossing her legs under her as she sat. “See, I can like, teach you the basics well enough. I can even totally test for those and you totally did a good job. You won’t really know how well you’ve learnt anything I’ve taught you though till you’re in a situation where fucking up kills either yourself or someone you care about. You grok what I’m sayin’?”

"I understand." Hope nodded. "When we started... the basics was what I was looking for. And to prevent from being targeted myself by pickpockets. And thank you for teaching me those." She was silent for a long moment, then added. "I will keep practicing, so that if I need to use it in a case like you described, I will be prepared as I can properly be."

“That’s good,” Jubilee replied, seemingly lost in memories before she met Hope’s eyes and grinned. “So, we celebrate, yeah? Like, you passed and that totally deserves cool donuts.”

"I do not usually say no to a jam-filled one. Even if my sweet tooth is not that large." Hope agreed as she rose once more. "One question though... how many chess pieces did you hide away?"

"Eleven," Jubilee said, before pulling another pawn from a jacket pocket. "And one on me, if you'd like, wanted to try for it."

"I know better than to even try." Hope retorted with a grin. "Seven out of eleven. That's not bad... not bad at all. Do you have any advice though to maintain my skills?"

"You can come out with me when I'm here," Jubilee offered with a returned grin. "Or maybe talk to some of the other shifty types when I'm not. I tend to have a few people who are okay with me practicing on them, so I'd look into that for yourself. Most people are pretty okay with helping out as long as they know about what you're doing."

"That I can probably do." A bit of a mischievous look appeared on her face as she added. "Now it's my turn to keep up my end of the bargain, but you and Mr. Sefton will need to pick a date, so that I can set everything we talked about in motion..."

“Gah. I knew you’d pin us down sooner or later,” Jubilee murmured with a slightly panicked look. “What month do people normally get married?”

"June, September and October are the most popular months, but those are going to be hard and really expensive to pull off on a short term. Everything has already been booked." Hope explained. "It might be easier to have this discussion with Mr. Sefton present as well. Why don't we make an appointment for some time next week and go over everything?"

“Sounds like a great idea to me,” Jubilee replied with a grin. She stood, and gestured for Hope to go ahead of her. “Now! Donuts!”


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