Standard disclaimer: The characters aren't mine. If I owned the X-Men, I wouldn't be writing fan fiction, I'd be on a yacht off the Oregon coast sipping chilled mango juice.

Story notes: Right now, what you see is what you get. This story has a definite setting, but you aren't to know that yet. All will be revealed, all will be revealed …

(1 June 2003)


The Untouchables
Part 1: The Best Medicine

Such a seemingly simple request. A measure of trust for the one man they could trust above all others. And considering the source of the request… Well, how could she refuse?

I will if I have to, she had grumbled, undeterred, perhaps even encouraged by the presence of the young woman standing only a few feet away, easily within earshot. But I won't like her – ever!

"Sugah?"

She wondered if that wasn't when things started to fall apart. Before that day, life had been simple. The good guys were good guys and the bad guys were toast. Sure the stakes were high, they always were, but that just made things that much more exciting. They were the untouchables, the undefeatable, the uncanny.

"Hel-looo..?"

But then she showed up on their doorstep, asking – no, begging for their help. Yeah, right. Help her? After all she'd done to their friend, to them? The nerve! There was never a moment's doubt that she'd be turned away. Whatever she was suffering (if she was indeed suffering at all and not just trying to trick them) was no less than she deserved. Let her rot.

"Earth t' Pryde, come in Pryde…"

When he had announced that not only would she be staying, she would be joining the team, there was almost open rebellion. There was no way that they could work with her! They were heroes! She was anything but. She was worse than a killer, a bad guy through and through. Bad guys stayed bad guys, they didn't up and join the good guys. That had to be some sort of cosmic rule.

"Okay, ah'm startin' t' take this personal."

Things were no longer so black and white, the line was irreparably blurred. Bad guys could be good guys. Good guys could be bad guys. Sometimes bad guys appeared to be good guys when compared to bigger bad guys. It was all so confusing. Who were the good guys? Who were the bad guys?

Was she a bad guy?

Am I?

"Ah hate t' break up the reverie, ah really do, but if y'all don't start rejoinin' the real world, y' gonna phase right out o' the car."

Kitty's eyes regained their focus and she looked around with a start at her surroundings. She was embedded into the front seat of the small car, and inertia was promising to eventually pull her completely out of the vehicle.

She swore under her breath. It had been years since that terrible night in the tunnels beneath New York City, and she still hadn't recovered completely from the wounds. Maybe some wounds simply never heal, she thought darkly.

Intangibility had been her mutant talent, the ability to move like a ghost through solid matter at will. She dubbed it "phasing," and had at one time thought there was no better gift in the entire world. Now, she wasn't so sure. Thanks to Harpoon, she was naturally intangible. Rather than concentrating to phase, she had to concentrate not to. One slip, and she became incorporeal. Fail to pay attention, and the world slipped by without her. Kitty often wondered just how far she could phase. Shortly after the attack, she was only held together by a chamber specially designed to keep all of her molecules in one place. She'd gotten better, but would she ever get like that again? Could she? Simply let go and drift apart. Let the planet's own rotation leave her behind in the quiet, peaceful nothingness of space…

But today wasn't the day to find out. Kitty relaxed her concentration enough to phase herself completely through the front seat, solidifying with a satisfying "thump!" in the back. She flashed a big toothy grin at her traveling companion and held up two fingers in victory. She didn't fool anyone.

"Y'all gotta be more careful, sugah," her friend drawled, glaring admonishingly at Kitty through the rearview mirror. As soon as the words were spoken, her face softened with concern, and she pushed a lock of white hair from her eyes. She lowered her sunglasses to look directly at Kitty in the mirror. "Lord knows the last thing either of us needs right now is extra attention. So, what could y' have possibly found more interestin' than one o' my oh-so-riveting Savage Land stories?"

Kitty smirked and phased through the front seat to reclaim her original place at shotgun. "Like anything could hope to be as fascinating as 'Rogue of the Jungle.'" Rogue stuck her tongue out at that and Kitty chuckled, but her mood became somber again. "Just thinking. You know. About old times."

"Good old times or bad old times?"

The pause was slight, but noticeable. "Well, not the best."

Rogue sighed. When she had all but kidnapped Kitty to come on this trip, she had hoped that her friend would be doing better than this. There was no doubt in the southerner's mind that anything was better than Kitty going back to her apartment to brood alone, and a road trip certainly classified as "anything", but as the car ate more and more miles, Kitty seemed to drift further and further away. Literally as well as figuratively. Rogue decided that desperate times called for desperate measures and took the next exit ramp off of the freeway.

"What are you doing?" asked Kitty. They had no particular schedule, but were hoping to be out of the state before stopping for the night and they still had several hundred miles to go.

Rogue pushed her sunglasses back up her nose and set her jaw determinably, a course of action firmly set in her mind. "Ah know of only one cure f'r your condition. The best medicine ever created by man."

Kitty raised her eyebrow.

"Ice cream."