Carol of the Bells  * V *

By Nichole (Neko-chan) Johnson

Written: June 8, 2003

Rated: PG (may go up)

Pairings: Mainly Kurt/Kitty; canon pairings mentioned (Scott/Jean, Rogue/Remy)

Disclaimer: I don't own either the X-Men: Evolution series or the X-Men in general.  Each is the respective property of Warner Bros. and Marvel.

Author's Note: Really, really sorry for the wait—I mean, REALLY.  Monday, when I went to post it, FF.Net was down or something—I couldn't get into the site at all.  And yesterday, I worked a closing shift and therefore was unable to get online that night.  So it took me until Wednesday night, and I'm really sorry!  I had meant to post earlier, just know that!

Anyway, reviewer thanks are at the bottom, so if you want to read my wandered musings or just check and see if I thanked you personally, its all down there.  On with the story!

*           *           *

"The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place."

- Barbara De Angelis

*

She hadn't opened it for so long; had almost forgotten it even existed.  And it just lay there now, on the empty dresser, begging to be picked up.

It was a small album; the sort that most teenage girls tended to collect, with it's wild aqua-blue cover emblazoned with a cheerful, pink and orange flower in true mock-retro fashion.  She vaguely remembered picking it out herself, in her freshman year of high school.  It had been a whim; to start collecting photos.  Even now she couldn't seem to recall what had brought it on.

Kitty paused in her task, the bed half-made as she contemplated the small photo album with growing curiosity.  It had been another whim to take the album along with her.  She remembered the frantic search she had made for it, digging furiously through boxes of old belongings she had shoved far back in her closet for storage so many years before.  It had disappeared back there one day early on in college, when she had come home for Thanksgiving dinner with several boxes of her belongings in hand; trying to clear the clutter from her dorm.  And it had gone forgotten back there in her closet, along with the boxes, even after college when she'd moved into her first apartment and the boxes had once again been shoved to the back of her bedroom closet.

She hadn't even looked at it; had just thrown it in with the rest of her luggage, buried beneath her clothes in the overnight bag.  And on the plane ride over, it had been immediately forgotten in the midst of her anxiety.

But it beckoned to her now, and her task lay forgotten as she strode from the unmade bed to retrieve the little photo album from her dresser; perching herself absently on the foot of the bed as she did.  It looked nearly as new as the day she had bought it, with its glossy printed cover, but for a few tell-tale signs of wear on the corners and some scratched in pen marks on the inside cover.

Kitty couldn't help but smile with nostalgic remembrance at the very first photo that now looked up at her.  It must have been from her freshman year; she couldn't believe how young she looked in the picture, with her auburn hair bound in that ever-present ponytail she had worn in those days.  She was standing with Jean and Scott in what looked like the food court at the mall; cheeks slightly rosy at the close proximity of her one-time crush, half-turned from the camera as if the shot had been unexpectedly taken.

The next two she recognized almost immediately from the brief time she and some of the other girls from the Institute—along with Tabitha who had, at the time, been living with the Brotherhood—had started up the Bayville Sirens in a rare act of rebelliousness.  The pictures seemed to capture the feeling of the girl gang perfectly; they were wildly erratic, and full of energy.  Amara and Tabitha, with arms thrown happily about one another's shoulders, beamed wildly at the camera in one shot; while in the other, the two of them along with Jean could be seen dancing with reckless abandon amidst a small crowd at a club.

There were several more of the girls in the next few pages, some of them featuring the group in their daring Sirens costumes.  Kitty couldn't help but grin happily in remembrance as she peered at a wildly angled photo of herself in costume, blowing the camera a taunting kiss.  She definitely had fond memories of the few days she had spent living it up with the other girls.  The five of them had grown amazingly close in that short amount of time, and it had been a shame when they'd drifted apart after the Sirens were disbanded; especially Tabitha, who had continued to live at the boarding house with the Brotherhood boys.

But flipping through the album, she was relieved to notice that Tabby reappeared later on in photos, after the Institute's rebuilding when she rejoined the younger mutants for another year or so.  Boom-Boom had never been one to settle down in one place for very long.  Even when she was with the Institute, she seemed to come and go as she pleased.  In the end, everyone had been sad to see her go, though.

Especially Kurt.  Kitty recalled, with a sad smile, the trouble those two had caused.  Apart, they were both quite the troublemakers.  But together, they were a prank-pulling force to be reckoned with.  And they had been like blood-brother and sister in the end.

The few pictures she had of the two together in her album had to be some of her favorite.  What a bunch of hams, she thought to herself in amusement, shaking her head in dismay at one of the photos.  Tabby had her arm around the blue mutant's neck in a near choke-hold, grinning flirtatiously at the camera as she shot it a peace sign for good show.  Kurt had obviously resigned himself to his fate, and was grinning wearily at the camera from within her grasp.

Kitty flipped through several more pages of pictures: Evan and Kurt skateboarding in the school parking lot; Scott and Jean leaning together for a photo at the lunch table; the younger mutants posing in front of the fountain.  There were a couple of Rogue trying to hide her face with a book or holding a hand up to block the camera, glaring irritably, and Kitty couldn't help but smile at the memory.

She had even caught Kurt in his favorite position in the library; perched in the corner atop one of the bookshelves, absorbed in his English textbook with his tail swinging idly over the top of the bookcase like one of those old Felix the Cat clocks.  Kitty couldn't recall how many times she had found him in that position; it had been one of his endearing little quirks that amused her to no end, and it had become a sort of goal to catch him with her camera in that pose.  She recalled now how he had looked up in surprise at the sound of the flash, face a picture of mock outrage, and then proceeded to chase her around the room demanding she give him the film; a chase which had dissolved several minutes later into a tickle fight on the floor.  The look on Storm's face as she happened upon the scene had been one of the sweetest expressions she had remembered the woman having in her four years at the Institute.  Even now, the memory of it could bring a warm smile to Kitty's face.

She turned the page once again, glancing over pictures of Scott and Jean in their graduation robes, the gang's Caribbean cruise from earlier that year, and then photos from Rogue's graduation a year later; one in which Kurt was happily mauling the graduate as she mock glared at the camera in her ceremonial robes.  The happy gleam in her gray-green eyes, however, completely gave her away.

Flipping ahead a few more pages, she came across Kurt's graduation photos.  There were quite a few compared to the other three, but Kitty felt herself frowning slightly as she looked through them, for in most of them, it was his holographic form that was smiling at the camera; and she realized sadly that his smile wasn't quite the same when seen through the projected image.

Going back through some of the other pictures that were taken on Institute grounds of him without the holographic projector; she could tell that it was true.  Something about him just couldn't be captured from beneath the guise of his holographic projector, and it saddened her to realize it.

It's such a shame, she thought solemnly, that he had to hide underneath that image for so many years.  So many people never saw the real him.

It wasn't the furry blue elf side of Kurt that she realized people had not only been missing, but the real person beneath it all that a holographic image couldn't hope to project.

Trying to push aside the sudden sense of sorrow she felt over this newfound realization, she flipped idly through the graduation pictures, until one caught her eye.  Her fingers froze on the page, gazing at the picture with a sense of renewed hope and rapt nostalgia.

It was another of Kurt's graduation photos, but this one was real; without the hologram.  Resplendent in his burgundy robes, the blue mutant was grinning his trademark, Cheshire grin in all his furry, golden-eyed glory with Rogue and Kitty standing proudly on either side of him; similar grins on their own faces as they leaned in for the photographer.

She didn't know how she could have forgotten about that photo.  For the longest time, it had been one of her favorite out of the entire album; it had spent most of her first year of college tucked in her class planner, and she had often found herself slipping it out during lectures with a nostalgic smile; her last tie to the Institute.  She couldn't remember Rogue ever looking happier and prettier than she did in that picture; her Gothic style had toned down drastically the year before, but the change in appearance had really started to show in that picture as she posed with obvious pride next to her brother.  And Kitty herself seemed to glow beside the two of them.

But out of them all, Kurt looked the happiest.  And it had remained her most treasured picture, up until she'd misplaced it along with the rest of her photos, because of that.  She was glad she had happened upon it once again.

The photo next to it of just her and Kurt was just as precious.  Out of all of her photos, it was most likely the best of the two of them together.  There was something so content about it, whereas in most of the photos the two took together, they were goofing off like a bunch of kids.  It was like she was seeing a side of their friendship that was rarely captured on film.

It reminded her of the two of them now.  But with that old sense of closeness they were yet to reclaim.

When she flipped the page over to the very last photo in the album, she found a very similar picture.  This time she was the graduate, beaming at the camera in her burgundy robes, her auburn hair loose about her shoulders underneath her cap as it so rarely was in those days.  And Kurt was standing next to her, a hand on her shoulder, the most proud and content expression on his face she had ever seen.

She continued to gaze at that last photo for several moments, lost in memories.  Then smiling softly to herself, she removed the last three photos from the book and standing, went to the dresser and tucked them gently into the frame around her mirror.

Taking one last glance at her handiwork, she went back over to the bed to finish what she had begun, still smiling contentedly to herself.

*           *           *

The mansion didn't seem quite so empty and silent today as it had the night before, as Kitty wandered the halls in idle search of her old teammates and something to do.  She had peered in the library in search of either Scott or Jean, but found only one of the students curled contentedly into one of the easy chairs; nose buried in a book.  The girl hadn't even looked up at the intrusion, and Kitty had slipped out unnoticed, heading for the rec room instead.  She hadn't found any of her old companions there, either, only a handful of students watching a movie or playing a rather lively game of foosball in the corner; a sight which had brought back memories of their own.  Scott and Bobby had been the foosball champions back in the day; it had always been an event when the two got together to challenge each other on rainy days in the rec room.

Shaking the thought away, she wandered back out into the hall, wondering where everyone could be.

She was pleasantly surprised when several minutes later, she turned the corner to spot Storm moving regally towards her.  The windrider smiled pleasantly in greeting, blue eyes lighting up delightedly at the sight of the petite brunette walking eagerly towards her.

"Why, Kitty Pryde, it's a pleasure to see you again," exclaimed the dark-skinned woman warmly, inclining her head gently.  Her abundant, white hair spilled over one shoulder, bound loosely in one of her tribal patterned scarves.  She looked as though she hadn't aged a day; indelibly ageless in her regal beauty as always.

Kitty returned the warm smile, delight dancing in her eyes at the sight of the other woman.

"Ororo!" she greeted pleasantly, embracing the storm goddess warmly.  "I didn't know you were around here!"

The mutant known affectionately as Storm chuckled gently, embracing the young woman in return with old affection.

"My child, I assure you, my place will always be with this Institute and its teachings," was her gentle reply.  She pulled away from their embrace to hold the other woman at arm's length, studying her appraisingly.

"My, but you have grown since I last saw you!  And even lovelier."  Smiling tenderly like a doting aunt, she motioned as if to cup Kitty's cheek in her hand; patting the auburn curls that framed the young woman's face in a loving gesture.

"Thank you, Storm.  You look as lovely as ever yourself."

Both women moved into stride with one another, continuing on down the hall in companionable conversation.

"I hear you've gone into computer engineering, my dear," ventured Storm pleasantly as they walked.  "How has that been going for you?"

Kitty smiled faintly.  "It's been going well, I guess.  The company I've been with for over a year now has been progressing slowly.  It looks to be a promising venture with a lot of potential for promotions."

The older woman smiled down at her proudly.  "How wonderful for you, Kitty!  I must say, all of us have been quite pleased with how well you've done for yourself since leaving the Institute.  It's wonderful to see someone with your potential excelling out there in the world."

Something in the younger woman's eyes seemed to shift, though she smiled in continued warmth up at the other woman.

"Excelling…" she murmured distantly, "Of course.  I'm glad you think so, Storm.  I owe all of you here at the Institute so much."

"My dear, you owe us nothing.  Your presence here is all that we need."

They had come to a halt once again, and Storm leaned forward to give Kitty another affectionate squeeze.  "I'm so glad you decided to join us here again, Katherine, even if only for the holidays.  You and the others have been sorely missed."

Still smiling faintly with a sorrowful edge, Kitty returned the embrace warmly and watched as the older woman turned to part.  A thought occurred to her, and she turned after the windrider hesitantly, her eyes questioning.

"Storm…"

The storm goddess turned to regard her kindly.

Kitty inclined her head self-consciously.  "Have you seen Jean or Scott around?  I was looking for them earlier but haven't been able to find them yet."

The windrider put a thoughtful finger to her chin, smiling gently.  "I believe you just missed them, then.  The two of them left about twenty minutes ago for the airport to pick up Rogue."

"Oh.  Right.  I'd almost forgotten that Rogue was supposed to arrive today."

There was a mysterious sort of smile on Storm's lips now.  "Was there anything else you wanted, my dear?"

"Yes, actually… Have you seen Kurt, then?  I haven't seen him around yet today, either, now that I think about it," was Kitty's bemused reply.

At this, Storm's smile widened with tender amusement.  "Yes, as a matter of fact.  If I'm not mistaken, he and Logan decided to check out the Danger Room earlier.  The two of them are most likely still there."

She continued to smile affectionately, arching a fine brow at the younger woman for emphasis.  "It seems a rather unconventional form of reminiscing, if you ask me, but then, Logan is known for his unconventional methods.  I pity Kurt for taking up such an offer…"

Eyes twinkling merrily, the windrider turned and disappeared back down the hall, moving with her usual regal grace.  Kitty watched her go for a moment, and then turned determinedly in the direction of the elevators, heading for the Danger Room.

*           *           *

It was the oddest feeling, watching the two men engage one another in friendly combat from where she stood in the Danger Room's control room; after so many years of college, of studying and working unobtrusively in an office.  She hadn't seen battle in all that time; hadn't lifted a hand in combat in her struggle to find normalcy in a life where she hid her mutation.  Her combat skills had more than likely gone rusty in all that time.

But she could almost feel her training coming back to her, watching the two combatants through the wide observation windows and the various video screens.  And she couldn't help but feel a bit invigorated by the sight.

They hadn't turned on any of the training simulations.  It was just the two of them, in an empty arena of sterile white and gray metal; man to man.  Neither was in uniform, either; dressed merely in T-shirts and training sweats.  It was pure skill against skill; no frills or pretenses attached, and it was obvious by the intensity with which they fought.

She had only witnessed such training sessions twice in her time at the Institute, and both times it had been between either Logan and Scott, or Logan and Bobby.  She had heard of Kurt doing some special training with the genetically altered man, just as she herself had done in her later years at the Institute; with the two of them having powers that were mainly defensive, extra training had been required in order to learn how to use them to the greatest advantage.

But she had never witnessed any such sessions.

It was chilling almost.  Logan had always been an imposing opponent; his fighting style was fierce and animalistic in its nature due to the manner of his mutation.  She had seen him fight before and had faced him in staged combat many times.

It was Kurt that surprised her.  She had never realized just what he was capable of until now, and she was in awe.

It was clear that while Kitty had grown severely lax in her combat skills, Kurt had been quite diligent in continuing his training.  He was fighting with a sword, something Kitty had only seen him do a few times in high school, and it was obvious that he had improved greatly since then.  His movements were graceful and fluid; the sword becoming yet another extension of his body as he parried and thrust; easily blocking his opponent's adamantium claws with the flashing blade.

Whereas Logan's movements were fierce and wildly furious, Kurt's were smooth and agile; his acrobatic skills opposing the other's sheer willpower and ferocity surprisingly well.  There was no teleportation in this battle, only an intricate, dancing form of combat that Kitty could only describe as fiercely beautiful.  With sheer liquid grace, the blue mutant somehow managed to match this fierce opponent move for move, despite their differing methods.

Kitty found herself unwilling to disturb their battle.  Instead she continued to watch in rapt amazement on the observation screens.  Parry and thrust, parry and thrust; whirl.  Logan rushed and Kurt caught his claws on the edge of his blade, using the other man's momentum to toss his attack aside; attempting to throw his opponent off of his feet.  But moving with him, Logan managed to maintain his footing and bring one of his legs about in a startlingly vicious kick that aimed for the younger mutant's midsection; attempting to wind him.  Twisting his blade ever so slightly so that it wedged between the adamantium claws, Kurt flipped gracefully backwards over Logan's arm, avoiding the blow and nearly taking Logan down in the process.  Then disengaging himself, the acrobatic mutant leaped nimbly into a powerful whip-kick.  Amazingly enough, he caught his opponent by surprise with the swiftness of his attack, and his kick struck Logan viciously upside the head.

Kitty knew that for Logan, such an attack would hardly be felt.  But the swiftness and viciousness of it still amazed her, and she couldn't help but feel impressed all over again with her friend's apparent skill.

The fight continued in that vein for several more minutes; each opponent scoring occasional hits on one another but neither gaining any real ground.  For all appearances, the two mutants were fairly equally matched.

But after Logan scored a particularly rough blow on the younger mutant, the battle apparently ended.  Both men stood or sat in momentary silence, trying to regain their breaths in lieu of such a fierce work-out; and then Logan, retracting his claws with an air of finality, extended a hand to Kurt in a show of camaraderie and helped him to his feet.

Kitty had already left the observation booth, phasing quickly through the floor and hurrying towards the pair.

Grinning gruffly at the younger mutant, Logan clapped Kurt roughly on the shoulder; she could see him muttering words of encouragement and pride to his old student.  Still puffing slightly with exertion, the younger man beamed up at his instructor, and as he did, his eyes traveled over the other's shoulder to light on the slender brunette hurrying towards them.

"Guten tag, Katzchen," he greeted with a bright grin, raising his hand in greeting.  "Did you sleep well after our premature breakfast?"

He wiped his brow absently with the back of his hand, leaning wearily on his sword.  Logan glanced from him to Kitty while wiping the sweat from his own brow, stepping back slightly to allow for the young woman to join them.  He inclined his head at her in his gruff equivalent of a nod.

"Hey, there, half-pint," he greeted, still slightly breathless.  Glancing unobtrusively between the two of them once more, he made as if to leave.

"'M gonna' hit the showers," he grumbled with a pointed glance at Kurt.

He shot Kitty one last glance, a smile hovering over his lips, and strode unhurriedly away.  Kitty watched him go momentarily, almost regretfully, while Kurt tussled a hand through his damp hair in wry contemplation.

"Not a bad idea, that…" murmured the German mutant wryly.  Then he turned to grin at Kitty once more, still leaning lazily on the butt of his sword.

"So, I gather mein Katzchen had front row seats, ja?"

Kitty jerked her gaze back around from the door, her expression once again turning to that of impressed awe.

"My God, Kurt, I never knew you had it in you!" she exclaimed with amazed delight, her tone hushed as if afraid someone would overhear.

Kurt pretended to glance himself over, confused.  His eyes lit on his sword, pulling away from where he'd been leaning on the weapon to gesture at it questioningly.  "What, you mean the sword?  Naw, it's an heirloom—not the legendary, 'from-the-chests-of-maidens' sort."

She raised her brows archly at the joke, arms crossed from simple habit.  "Not that, silly.  The whole fight.  I've never seen you fight like that before."

Shouldering his sword with a small flourish, he laughed good-naturedly.  "My gut fraulein, you've never seen me fight," he corrected with jauntily lifted brows, shooting her a cheeky wink.

She rolled her eyes at him and grinned in return.  He then turned to head in the direction of the lockers and she moved to follow.

"You've gotten good with the sword," she commented absently, clearly impressed.  "I'd forgotten that you'd convinced Logan into getting you started on fencing.  If I remember, it was quite the battle, too."

He grinned wryly.  "Und that was before we got to the sword training…"

Kitty laughed, raising her eyes thoughtfully as they walked.  "What was it…like three or four months I think of you sucking up to him?"  Another laugh, as she shook her head wryly at the memory.  "I swear, I'd never seen you do so many unpleasant chores willingly…!  You must've waxed the X-Jet everyday for a month!"

Kurt grimaced in reply, rotating his right arm tenderly in reflection.  "Twice some days, actually," he remarked, "Ze elbow likes to remind me about it when it rains…"

The twinkle in his eyes caused her to laugh yet again.  "Ah.  Those were the days, right?" she remarked slyly.

He sighed dramatically in response.  "Ah, yes.  Those were the days, Katzchen.  What I wouldn't do for another one of Scott's rousing battle speeches or Herr Logan's wonderful early morning double-duty training sessions!"

"Okay, okay!" she exclaimed hastily, raising her palms slightly in surrender.  She shot him a sideways glance.  "What about one of my infamous muffins?"

The blue mutant pretended to grimace, grinning forcefully.  "Ach, always for mein liebling's muffins.  How could I resist?"

Sensing the frown of disappointment on his companion's face, he forced a real smile onto his features.  "Now, for some of the lovely, Frau Monroe's baked apple pie… Zhat, mein Katzchen, I would walk a thousand miles for…"

Kitty followed his sudden gaze in the direction of the door, alerted as well by the sound of footsteps on the smooth floor, to find Storm striding calmly towards them.

"And you would walk a thousand more, Herr Wagner?" continued the windrider with pleasant amusement as she moved to join them, inclining her head quizzically at Kurt.

He shook his head at her lightly in dismay.  "Ach, you took the words right out of my mouth," he murmured with mock disappointment.

"Well I apologize," she returned graciously, blue eyes twinkling at the banter.  "But I can assure you that your compliments do not go unappreciated."

She turned then to include Kitty, her expression growing more serious as she glanced between the two of them; but her eyes were still warm with affection.  "I came to let you both know that Scott and Jean have arrived with Rogue from the airport," she began, an eagerness to her tone.  "And they've brought another guest…"

Kurt and Kitty both shared a glance, then turned back to the storm goddess, looking both eager and curious.

Kurt grinned wickedly, stretching his neck lazily.  "And I suppose you don't intend to tell us who this mystery guest is and would rather us die from curiosity, am I right, fraulein?"

Storm smiled sweetly and inclined her head in acknowledgment.  "Of course," was her nonplus reply in all innocence.  She turned to Kitty, gesturing towards the door.  "They're gathering right now in the library, if you wish to greet them.  Kitty, would you care to join me?  I suspect Kurt wishes to tidy himself up before greeting his sister…"

"Are you kidding?  Rogue loves 'sweaty fur' hugs the best…"

Snorting lightly at the joke, Kitty went to follow Storm, shooting the jocular mutant a wry glance over her shoulder.  "Uh-huh.  Good luck with that venture, Fuzzy…"

With that, she followed the windrider out of the training room, a feeling of giddy delight rising within her at the thought of reuniting with the southern woman.

~          *           ~

TO BE CONTINUED…

*

Hmm.  No "Glossary" for this chapter—all of the German has either been previously used or is relatively commonly heard of enough to decipher for oneself.  So I won't belittle you all by putting a measly Glossary in this section that translates words like "ja", and "gut"—it would just be too sad…

I will, however, comment on some references made.  Part of me wants to leave them for all of you to decipher—no wait, you know what?  I will do that!  I wanna' see if any of you bother pointing out references to me in your reviews, and then I'll talk about it in the 'excess area' at the end of the next chapter.  Hmm, not a bad idea…  (Or its just me being incredibly lazy.  Meh.)

Uuurrrrgggh…So tired!  I spaced-out today while going through some old comics of mine in search of inspiration.  I feel more bogged down than inspired.  I think it was the whole 'lack of productivity' thing…  I have this terrible obsession with needing to feel as though I've accomplished something in a day—I hate going to sleep thinking, "Gawd, I didn't do ANYTHING productive today!"  I'll mean to, and then I'll wander into my room to get something and get distracted—sometimes it's a book I haven't read in a while, or maybe a comic; sometimes a TV show.  And then it's two hours later and I realize I just wasted precious writing time.  DAMNIT!!  Why am I such a short-attention-span-driven SHEEP?!!

Okay, I've wandered… This section is supposed to be for addressing my reviewers.  Bleeaargghh.  But I'm so sleepy and blah-blah.  How about THANKS EVERYBODY FOR REVIEWING, I'M GLAD YOU LIKE THE FIC, ROCK ON, AND I LIKE TOSTITOS—ESPECIALLY THE PEPPERONI ONES?!!  I think that should be sufficient.  G'night…AAAGGGGHHHH!!!  WHAT IN GOD'S—??!!  Damn you, Conscience, damn you!!  I know it's you Satan!!  I know it!!

*sigh* So I guess I'll be thanking you all anyway…  I'm going to have to be reeeeally selective, though, because there just isn't enough room to thank you all as much as you deserve—the few of you that read this boring crap, anyway only do it reluctantly so I want to try and keep the pain to a minimum.  Just know I love you all…Now sit still and pay attention:

Kiki:  I continue to love and adore you.  You are like my greatest fan, and vice-versa—I don't know if that is a good thing.  You should be worried, I think.  Anyway, the more I hear from you, the more I realize you are frighteningly just like me.  By your reviews, we obviously think alike.  Most of all, thank you for reading the 'Thank You' chapter—that takes frikkin' dedication, because I am one frikkin' long-winded be-hatch.  I hope you'll keep up the wonderful support!  (And post the next chapter of "Decisions", damnit!)

Min-kat: Yay, another person who likes the use of German!  Yeah, but I tend to overdue it sometimes because I'm going through this weird stage where I love the language far too much.  Is gut, ja.  No…no, not really.  I did that for awhile with Japanese, and now its German.  I'm seeing a horrible trend…

Pogue Mahone:  Gah!  Don't die!  You got Chapter V!!  You got it!!  Don't go into the light—your big, eloquent words of complimenty-goodness are far-too appreciated for you to move on to the ether over something as undeserving as my fic!  (Translation: Yes, more!!  My head hasn't quite reached exploding size yet!)  And, um…sorry I couldn't be so eloquent myself in thanking you.  I'm feeling really…weird right now.  I'm gonna' say 'rad' because it makes my crazy, blonde best friend happy.

Selene: Ohhhhhh…  I thought that may've been what you meant by being confused.  Um, sorry?  But I couldn't figure out a better way of implying that the scene was a flashback until it ended, when Kitty wonders 'why she recalled that at that moment' (or whatever the blahdie-blah I wrote there).  Yeah, I know; the difference in eye color is kind of…annoying.  I feel sort of blasphemous writing that her eyes are blue sometimes, but they are in Evo so I feel I should stay true to that.  Besides, if I start playing around w/their appearances, everyone would get all confused and not know WHAT to picture anymore.  I have this thing about wanting my readers to picture the characters the way I picture them; I know its impossible, but I try to accomplish that as much as possible.  So if the story gets kind of…bogged down by useless descriptions of how a character looks in a specific scene, you'll know why.  And you can call me on it, but I'll just tell you to 'f'-off and ignore you.  (j/k)  Hmmm?  So you're hoping I'm gonna' put Remy in here?  I have to admit, I was torn whether to do so or not for stupid reasons I won't go into at this time, but… You'll see what I decided to do in the next chapter, if you haven't guessed it already.

Topazera: I'm glad you're liking it, TZ.  And about the Kurt-Scott thing…well, I haven't specifically planned out any scenes between the two yet and I'm a little wary to do so, simply because I don't think I can relate to Scott's character enough to write him properly.  So I sort of try to steer clear of him in a fic as serious as this.  But if you want to see some of that—Kurt 'lightening' Scott up—you should check out my other fic (if you haven't already) "Why, Oh Why?"  Since it's meant to be humorous, I decided to have a go at writing a 'Scott-centered' chapter, which delivers a bit on that Scott-Kurt relationship you were talking about.  (I'm referring to chapter 2, which may or may not be posted yet at the time that you're reading this.)  Anyway, I hope you'll keep reading and reviewing!  You've got some great things to say!  (Yay!  My head's slowly yet surely on its way to exploding from all the complimentary goodness!)

Serenity's Wings:  Hmm, I'm gonna' have to say much of the same thing to you as TZ up there: check out my other fic.  As of yet, I don't plan on any of the Brotherhood appearing, but there is a high-probability of some of the 'New Mutants' appearing for the same reasons that Kurt, Kitty, and Rogue have been called back to the mansion.  Just a hint, but this fic is meant somewhat as a tie-in to all of the X-Men universes; therefore, characters from the original comics and animation will most likely be involved some way or another.

LeDiz: Yay!  LeDiz loves me!  I send cyber cakes to you, mein freund!  ^_^  Heheheh, I have you in suspense…  Serves you right for all the horrible things you've done to Kurty and Kitty in "I always do"!!  But seriously—naw, screw being serious!  WAFFLESSSSSSS!!!!!  WORSHIP MY NAVEL, CHEESE-DWELLING MUFFINS!!  LIARS, ALL OF YOU!!  YOUR HANGNAILS ARE MINE!!!  Ahem.  Sorry—reverting to my alter-ego, there: Happy Noodle Boy.  I was engrossed for far-too long in my beloved Johnny the Homicidal Maniac graphic novel today…  Hmmm…LeDiz, where the hell was I?  Oh, yes…Yes, yes I am evil.  I've been told my real father is Satan, but one can never believe one's younger sister when you've just called her boyfriend a 'retarded ass-monkey'.  (And don't worry; Kurt will get all 'life story' with us at some point.  I myself am rather curious as to what he's been up to, y'know.)

Triple X: WHAAAATT??!!  It was fluffy?!  I had no idea…  God damnit!  I'll have to be sure to have more brutal fight scenes in some upcoming chapters.  *in her notes, scribbles an arrow in between a clutter of fluffy scenes, labeled 'Big-Ass Fight Scene'*  Hmm, that should be adequate…*grins*

Rissa: Whoa—DUDE!!  I actually inspired someone to not only review, but to SIGN-UP in order to do so!  Whoa.  Just…whoa.  Never thought I'd see the day…  I'm so totally stoked that you did that and that you're enjoying this that much!  Thank you so much!  What an uplifter!  *lol*  Hmm, and while I didn't listen to Christmas songs while I was writing it, (I'm a bit of a humbug like that) I did listen to some really beautiful classical—mainly choral symphonies, like Mozart's "Dies Irae" from his "Requiem", and the hauntingly beautiful "Sanctus" by Schubert—as well as my most recent favorite movie scores; being X2, Ah! My Goddess the Movie, and other random ones I dug out of my collection.

OMG, but the A! MGtM music reminds me so much of Evo for some reason—maybe it's just because I've read and written so much Evo fiction to it, but to me, it captures the essence of Evo fiction so well!  Not to mention the odd jazz albums I threw into the mix—can't leave those out.  It's just so soothing writing to the gentle sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Miles Davis…

PallaPlease: Sorry, hon.  You definitely must've fallen on your ass there…  But I'm glad I gave you such warm-fuzzies, and I hope I'm able to continue doing so.  You're reviews always give ME warm-fuzzies, so I shall try to return the favor… ^_^  And what sorts of dirty thoughts are you getting about that cigar, missy?  Sheesh, you're like LeDiz and the awful 'tail innuendo'…!

(Urrrgggh… getting…so…tired…!  Damn you, Satan!  Quit pushing me—I'm goin', I'm goin'…!)

SpikeyAngel: Eh, it's not juvenile—especially not in the context you wrote it.  I'm always sitting in eager anticipation for them to kiss when I read Kurtty fics, too.  So I really am sorry to make you all wait.  But just like the Buffy/Spike relationship on BtVS, this thing requires careful planning and development in my opinion.  But, oh, don't worry—it will be in there… Hell, I've been daydreaming the scene up for over 2 weeks now!  It will be in there.  (And I'm a terrible writer for not leaving you all in suspense.  I spit on myself!)

RedLion: Ehhh, you're somewhat right and somewhat wrong, RL.  But since both of them didn't return for one reason only, no—they weren't.  But some of their reasons hold distinct parallels to one another's.  Ach, it's all so complicated trying to allude to it yet not give it away when I'm explaining this…!  Suffice to say, Kurt and Kitty are both very different in many ways, but are both in somewhat of the same place in their lives; and their reasons for returning reflect that.  Aaagh, how did I suddenly turn from bizarre insanity to existential musings?!  I must REALLY need sleep at this point…

Kaminarimon: Sorry, can't comment right now.  The swelling has become far too severe…

(SHUT UP, SATAN!!  THIS IS YOUR FAULT, AND YOU KNOW IT!!!  And stop telling me to call you 'Pepito'!!)

And last of all, to Kat, and those other few of you who requested that I e-mail you when this fic is updated, please go to my Profile page.  There you will find a link to my mailing list, which is simply a way for you to receive notification when my fiction is updated.  Joining is quick, easy, and utterly pointless except for the fact that you receive an e-mail every blue moon letting you know that I updated, along with my musive ramblings.  I wouldn't worry about receiving excess mail, because basically I'm the only one posting on the list, and I only do it when a fic has been updated or something pertaining to that.

So anyone wishing to receive instant notification of my fic updates by e-mail, just sign up for my mailing list.  There.

Ugh.  Now I am going to try and get some sleep… Neko needs sleep.  Like donuts and that crappy powdered coffee stuff.  OMG, this 'f'-er is long.  Jeezus.  I so need to shut up once 'n awhile…

Good night, all!  Happy reading and stuff like that.

~Neko-chan