So I sez to myself, I sez... that a X-Men Evolution drabble was just the thing I needed to chase the boredom away. This drabble smacked me upside the head in the shower, and so here I am clad in my PJ's at 3:30 in the afternoon, hair dripping water everywhere, typing it up. ^^


Title: Walls

Fandom: X-Men Evolution

Pairings: Lance/Kitty (mentioned), Lance/Pietro (hinted, one-sided)


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It's over Kitty. See ya 'round.

Kitty Pryde stood on the doorstep of the Brotherhood house, twisting the hem of her shirt in her hands, Lance's words echoing over and over again in her mind. She just couldn't believe that he would actually mean what he said. She'd had no idea what was coming when Lance had caught up to her outside of the school after their last class. She had still been angry with him for some altercation or another - something that for them was completely the norm, she thought wryly - and had done her usual turn-and-flounce-away routine.

What deviated from that routine, was that Lance hadn't immediately followed along behind her, begging for forgiveness and a chance to set things right. No, he'd stood there, as cold and hard as the stone his powers allowed him to manipulate, and told her that it was over.

Shocked into stillness, Kitty had watched as Lance gave her a final wave and then strode across the grounds to the newly re-paved student parking lot, climbed into his jeep and drove off. He hadn't even waited for Pietro, Todd, Tabby or Fred to arrive.

He'd simply...left. Calmly, casually, as though her words, his words, their fight had meant nothing.

Which was why Kitty now found herself knocking on the door of the Brotherhood house. The door opened, but it was a different face then the one she wanted to see that peeked through the crack.

"Pietro?"

"It's you." Pietro's eyes narrowed as he all but hissed at her, his tone dripping with venom. "What do you want?"

This was not going how she planned it. She had expected to see Lance, not come face-to-face with Pietro's attitude. Completely unprepared for such blatant hostility, Kitty found herself momentarily at a loss for words. "I..."

Pietro closed the door and Kitty thought for a second that she had just been given the brush-off. But then Pietro opened the door enough to let himself out, shutting the door behind him. Passing her on the step, he jerked his head roughly in the direction of the garden in the back. "Come on."

Huh? Kitty cast a doubtful look back at the door. "But-"

"NOW Pryde." Pietro didn't even stop as he vanished around the side of the house. Kitty bit back the urge to retort, and followed him quietly. She still didn't know what was going on, but if Pietro knew, maybe he would explain it. Pietro stood at the back of the yard, as far away from the house as he could get without actually going into the forest. His arms were folded across his chest, his eyes almost as cold as Lance's had been. She blinked.

"What on earth do you think I did?" she blurted out suddenly. "You look like-"

She stopped suddenly, but Pietro didn't even bat an eyelash as he finished her sentence for her.

"Lance. I look like Lance, isn't that what you were going to say?"

The X-Man nodded slowly.

"Yeah, well, I've known him for so long, it's only right that I pick up a few of his facial expressions. After all, this is the one we're most used to," Pietro spat out as though his words tasted bitter in his mouth.

"What are you talking about?"

"We really did think you were the one," Pietro went on, ignoring her question. "And I bet you have no idea just how much we were counting on you."

"Counting on me?" Kitty was well and truly confused now. "Pietro, what do you mean? What's wrong with Lance?"

Pietro didn't say anything for a few minutes. He studied her silently, as though evaluating her sincerity. It made her uneasy, but she straightened her spine, meeting his eyes squarely. He nodded, as though coming to a conclusion. Still, he didn't speak. He merely cocked his head to the other side as though studying her from the other angle.

"What are your parents like, Kitty?"

His tone was a lot calmer then it had been, which reassured her greatly, but the question threw her off-key for a minute. "My parents?"

"We saw them, way back when you and Lance first met. They seemed like nice people. Well," Pietro corrected himself, "Nice for a pair of humans, anyway."

"They're great," Kitty replied warily. "The best. Why?"

"Bet they love you like you're their prized possession," Pietro said casually. "Even when you got into trouble."

"Of course they do," Kitty said staunchly. "They're my parents."

Pietro chuckled. "Oh, of course. Sorry. My bad." He shrugged. "They ever get mad at you? "

"Well yeah. Most parents get mad at their kids at some point in their life." Kitty rolled her eyes. "What's your point?"

"I find it hard to believe their precious pretty kitty could ever do something to rate disapproval in their eyes," Pietro said, and he honestly did look amused. "Or your professor and fellow X-geeks."

"Don't call them that!" Kitty was starting to get fed up with Pietro's little game. She had come to speak to Lance, and damn it, she was going to! She whirled around, intent on ignoring Pietro.

"So when you told Lance you hated him and stormed off, did he smile at you? Or just shrug?" Pietro's voice was like a shot in her ears, loud and penetrating. She stopped in her tracks, turning around slowly.

"What did you say?"

Pietro gave an exaggerated sigh. "I asked kitty-cat, if you'd open your ears, if he smiled or shrugged at you?" Pietro's smile was wintry cold. "I'm betting he shrugged and gave you a wave goodbye, like nothing you said could possibly ever matter to him."

Kitty's blood pounded in her ears as Pietro described Lance's exact behavior. "Wha...."

"Kind of a shock for you, right? I mean, doesn't he usually chase at your heels like some obedient lapdog?" Pietro laughed cruelly. "Were you surprised that he didn't instantly beg for your forgiveness?"

"... How did you know that?" Kitty's voice came out sounding rather small and quiet. She searched Pietro's eyes. "How did you know that?" she repeated insistently.

"He didn't care, you know." Pietro replied after a minute. "You could have told him to die, or that you wanted to make time with that ugly Russian X-geek. You could have said the most hateful, hurtful things in the world to him and he wouldn't give a shit."

Kitty wanted to argue with him, rail against his words, that Lance would never ignore her like that. But the final tone in Pietro's voice made her pause. Instead, she asked again, "How do you know?"

"Because that's who Lance is," Pietro said, just as quietly as she had done. "The REAL Lance Alvers. The one who doesn't give a shit about anybody, because nobody gives a shit about him. THAT Lance."

Kitty shook her head. "No, that's not true, I care about him, YOU guys care about him--"

"So what?"

She stopped again, blinking in confusion. "He cares about you. I know he does."

Pietro chuckled, and the amused sound of it irritated her. "It's funny how you X-geeks see the world," he said, ignoring her last remark. "You look at us and see mutants using their powers for fun and following the word of a megalomaniac and think 'EVIL! EVIL! Must fight the evil mutants!' - and never give a second thought about what's going on."

"The last time I checked, you guys WERE the bad guys," Kitty shot back.

"By whose standards? Yours? Pardon me while I laugh. Like YOU could ever hope to stand up to Magneto if he had your future in the palm of his hand." Pietro's eyes narrowed. "Then again, maybe you could. Maybe you and the other X-geeks would openly defy him even if you were in our situation. But then you'd be dead. And despite all of the problems the Brotherhood has and will continue to have, none of us are suicidal just yet."

Kitty didn't know what to say. But Pietro wasn't finished.

"You X-men with your hopes and dreams and white picket fences with puppies and two point five children. You have no idea what true hardship is. You just told me what your parents are like. You've never grown up with foster parents who barely noticed you were alive. You've never been treated like a sideshow freak - before you ever knew you were a mutant. You never found out you were the child of a terrorist bent on world domination. You've never lived in some dank back alley, scrounging through garbage cans for food, fighting off gang members who wanted you off your turf."

"You've never lived in back alley," Kitty argued hotly. "Don't give me that garbage can routine - Evan told me about the two of you growing up together. You had it okay until you found out about your father and turned to a life of crime!"

"I wasn't talking about ME you arrogant little princess," Pietro snarled. "I was talking about Lance!"

"...Lance?"

"Yeah I had it pretty good until my father - my REAL father - decided to rip it to shreds. But Lance was shipped from foster home to foster home - each one worse then the last - until he decided enough was enough and ran away. At age twelve." Pietro's eyes were dark. "When the Brotherhood was formed, it took weeks before Todd would even go near him, because we were scared shitless of him."

"Scared? Of Lance?"

Pietro rolled her eyes at her naivety. "He was 16, two years older then us, bigger, stronger, and tough from a life on the streets. Not to mention he had a power that could crush all of us, even me. I'm fast but even I have trouble running when the ground is shaking beneath my feet. Fuck yes he scared us."

Kitty wrapped her arms around herself. "... Go on."

The silver-haired mutant raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you want to hear?"

She bristled. "I said go on!"

"Lance had walls, thick walls. He was like this strong silent presence in the group, wary of everything and always ready to fight. The only reason we became friends in the first place was because Toad, Freddie and me decided." Pietro's eyes softened for a fraction. "Lance saved Toad during one of our first missions as a team. He didn't have to - but he did, risking his own neck. We decided there had to be a decent mutant under the garbage, and began to work on drawing him out. But he didn't actually start acting like a normal person until he met YOU."

The brunette reared back. "Me?"

"Yeah you. It musta been like a dream come true to him. He had a permanent home, he was going to school - something he loves but he'll deny it if you ask him - and people that cared about him, even if he didn't really believe that last part. And then you show up. Treating him like a friend, flirting with him, showing an interest." Pietro shook his head. "We teased him about it but the truth? You were good for him. You were making him act like the teenager he was, instead of the young thug he had been." His eyes narrowed again. "You cut it close with some of your stunts - calling him a hood, but instead of making him retreat, it was like he wanted to prove you wrong."

"Pietro..."

"I didn't want Lance tied to an X-geek but at least Lance wasn't acting like a dickhead anymore. But then you had to push it too far." Pietro moved closer to her, his eyes flashing fire. "You just had to pull your little poor-me-evil-Lance-I-can't-forgive-you-until-you-beg-me routine over and over. And now he's back to where he was. Walls back up. Congrats Kitten, you just killed whatever potential relationship you were hoping for."

Kitty's mind whirled, making her a bit dizzy. Her chest ached under the impact of Pietro's words. "I need to talk to him--"

"Go ahead. But you won't get very far. Lance was slipping for a few weeks now, with all the little princess acts you've been pulling lately. I'm taking it as a positive sign he hasn't left the group yet. We were worried when we saw he left school without us, but at least he came home."

"Pietro, you're crazy." Kitty glared at him. "Lance wouldn't shut me out. We've had this argument before."

" I know. Many times before. Too many times before. Which is why I know he won't listen to you." Pietro gave her a pitying look. "You can't just dangle love in front of someone and whisk it away whenever something disagrees with you."

Hot tears stung Kitty's eyes. "I never--"

"Bull shit you didn't!" Pietro suddenly appeared right in front of her eyes. "You did it all the time. You kept stringing him along, rewarding him with a kind look if he followed every word you said, treating him like garbage if he didn't. You don't know how much Lance tried to change for you Kitty, but if you truly cared for him, he shouldn't have had to."

Kitty deflated under the heat of Pietro's words. She stared at the ground for a long while before raising her brown eyes to flashing gray.

"How can I fix this?"

"You can't." Pietro said flatly. "But we can. Leave him alone."

"But I--"

"If you're going to say you love him, spare me. You don't love him Kitty - you don't even KNOW him. And you never really wanted to find out." He softened just a bit. "I don't blame you. Lance is a scary guy underneath the outer layer. Maybe you could sense it. maybe that's why you were so desperate to make him into something he wasn't. But if you love someone Kitty, then you have to love all of them, the good and the bad."

His words made sense, and her mind knew he was right. She replayed his words, trying to find a point she could objectively argue, when his tone pierced through her confusion. Kitty's intelligent mind crystallized in a flash, sudden realization lighting her eyes.

"You love him," she breathed, staring at him in shock. Pietro shrugged.

"So what?"

"What do you mean, so what? All this time--"

"What I feel here doesn't matter," Pietro cut her off again. " I thought Lance would be happy with you."

"But you were constantly trying to break us up!" she argued, her voice rising in pitch.

"Of course I did. Ever notice as soon as you tell Lance he can't do something, or shouldn't do something, that's when he gets the most determined to prove you wrong?" Pietro smiled. "He's a stubborn asshole, but I know how to handle those." he sniffed. " I got a lot of practice with Evans."

"But why did you do that when...." Kitty's voice trailed off and he finished her sentence for her again.

"When I love him?" His expression turned thoughtful. "Maybe it's a dim belief in the old saying 'if you love something, set it free. If it's meant to be, it'll come back to you.' Or maybe I'm a masochist at heart. I know!" He snapped his fingers. "The entertainment value alone of seeing Lance try and win you over with all those ridiculous plots and schemes - we've got enough blackmail material on him to last for EONS."

"Be serious Pietro," Kitty said in a low growl. "Tell me WHY."

The speedster sobered.

"I did it because I do love him Kitty," Pietro said with finality. "And if seeing him happy meant he was with you, then that was okay."

They stood there in silence for a few minutes. Eventually, Kitty risked a glance at her watch. "It's getting late," she said. Free of the anger she'd initially held, her voice was now tired and strained. "What happens now?"

"Now the rest of us try and coax back the Lance we were starting to see emerge. And it won't be easy." Pietro sighed. "When we came home today, it was like seeing a stranger. A familiar stranger. Tabby doesn't know because she wasn't one of us, but Todd actually jumped away from him. And Fred...I thought big Fred was going to burst into tears. Those walls are back." His eyes brightened a tad. "But maybe they're not as strong this time. We'll see."

"I didn't mean for this to happen."

"I know. You wanted a typical boyfriend that you could go ga-ga over like the rest of the girls in your class. You wanted the bad boy your parents wouldn't approve of, but you didn't want the bad boy image to be as deep as it was. No emotional baggage, just fun. Right?"

She couldn't argue with him. It was the truth, and they both knew it.

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry," she offered, one last chance at reaching out. Pietro sighed and nodded.

"It wasn't your fault completely," he responded finally, the words leaving his mouth reluctantly. "But it'd be best if you kept away from him for a while."

"I understand." Kitty turned to go, her movements slow as though she were wading through quicksand. Then she stopped and turned back around. "Pietro...you should tell him."

Pietro gave her a sad look, the first time she'd ever seen such an expression on his face, before going into the house through the back door.¡±.... He already knows," came his faint words through the screen door.

Kitty stared at the door for a minute, before making her way home. There was nothing more to say.


End

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