The Challenge

Chapter Two – Day One: Saturday Morning

By Crow Skywalker

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Disclaimer – I don't own X-Men Evolution or its characters, nor do I claim to. I'm writing this fic purely for fun and no profit is being made from this.

Author's Notes – This chapter turned out a lot longer than I originally intended it to be. I just got up this morning, started writing…and this is the result. Anyway, I don't have much to say here in the author's notes right now, though I'd like to thank my reviewers. V son sayian, DOJ, ali-cat333, person, Pyro Tsunami, girl707, and She-Wolf, thank you for the great reviews. I really appreciated them, and I dedicate this chapter to you. Enjoy!

Pairings/Warnings – Lance/Kitty all the way! :)

Summary – Takes place after the events of 'Growing Pains', and is AU after that. When the Brotherhood challenges Kitty Pryde to walk in their shoes for a week, all bets are on as Kitty leaves the Institute to live with the Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood are powerless for however long she stays – and Kitty's determined to win this challenge.

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It was a beautiful Saturday morning out, the Institute an eerie quiet in the early morning. Most of the newer students were still asleep, and those who were up and about were the older students, who were down in the Infirmary checking up on the Professor to see if he was alright. Word was, he'd woken up sometime during the night and he was going to recover just fine. This was a great relief, and now everyone was sleeping worry-free. That was, everyone except Kitty and Rogue, who were up and about in their shared room.

"Ah can't believe you're doing this Kitty," Rogue sighed from where she sat on her bed. She was dressed in her favorite green outfit, already showered and ready to greet the day – despite the fact that she was tired. Kitty had woken her up so that she could help her pack and keep her company, and Rogue had reluctantly agreed after Kitty had insisted for over ten minutes, and had then finally resorted to hitting Rogue with a pillow until she got up.

"It's only for one week, how bad could it be?" Kitty replied as she poked another shirt into her overnight bag. It was already stuffed packed with clothes, so much that Rogue doubted Kitty would ever get it closed. Kitty would probably never get the zipper pulled shut.

"Bad. Anything could happen to you over there!" Rogue moved to help Kitty, grabbing a bag of her own from under her bed as she went. Handing it to Kitty she said, "Here. Take this too. You're taking way too much stuff for just that one little bag – it's going to explode soon."

Kitty took it, giving Rogue a thankful smile as she removed a few items from her little bag and started packing stuff into Rogue's. "Well, they can't use their powers for however long I'm staying, so it won't be that bad!"

Rogue frowned, looking quite unimpressed. "Kitty, they're guys…just because they're powerless doesn't mean they aren't gonna be any trouble!"

"I can handle them Rogue," Kitty insisted. "And if it does get out of hand…I'll like, give you a call, okay?"

Rogue crossed her arms. "You'd better call. The others are gonna have a fit when they find out, and they'll want to know if you're okay."

Kitty looked troubled. "Do you think the Professor will try to stop me?"

"It's likely. Ah mean, he's not just gonna let ya walk off with the Brotherhood for a week. It's dangerous."

The younger girl scrunched up her nose, finally zippering both her bags closed as she finished packing. "I already said that I'd go through with this – I accepted the challenge…I really hope nobody's going to try and stop me."

"Scott will definitely try," Rogue took a seat on Kitty's bed, leaning back so that she was propped up on her hands. "Jean, maybe, too. Kurt will just try to talk you out of it. Dunno about the rest."

"I'm going to like, try to leave here as quietly as I can. Maybe if they don't see me leaving, there won't be a confrontation," Kitty admitted, standing straight as she surveyed her room. "That's it I think…everything's packed for the week. And hey, if I need anything else, I'll just call."

Rogue suddenly gave her an odd look. "If you leave without a confrontation that means everyone will be worried sick about you because they won't know where you are!" She furrowed her brows, "And then I'll have to admit that I know where you are, and I'll be put on the spot for questioning!"

Kitty looked thoughtful, "Never thought of that. I guess I'm going to have to tell someone where I'm going."

"I think the Professor would be your best bet – he's probably the most understanding guy here in the Institute," Rogue replied.

Kitty checked the clock next to her bed, which read '7:12' in big neon red lights. Frowning, she asked, "Would he be up this early? He had a rough night last night, and I don't want to bother him if he's resting."

"He's always up early, Kitty!" Rogue shook her head, "In fact, he probably already knows you're coming. Just phase down to the Infirmary, let him know what's going on and talk it out until he understands, then come back here and grab your stuff." She raised a brow, "What time are ya leaving, anyway?"

"What, eager to get rid of me so you'll have the room to yourself?" Kitty grinned at her friend teasingly before saying, "Somebody's supposedly coming to pick me up at 8:30. Lance phoned last night to tell me that much."

"I thought I heard the phone ringing at an odd hour of the night," Rogue narrowed her eyes at Kitty. "How'd he get your number?"

Kitty shrugged, looking kind of sheepish. She knew that if it had been the other way around, and someone had called late at night for Rogue and had woken Kitty up, Kitty wouldn't have been too happy either. "I have no idea. I've never given him my number, so he must have like, looked it up in the phone book or something."

Rogue gave her a disbelieving look. "Your number here at the Institute is in the phone book?"

"All our numbers are in there," Kitty rolled her eyes at her friend's lack of knowledge. "We live here almost year round, and we all have our own phones for our families and friends to phone us, so it's only logical that those numbers be in the phone book as well."

"Hmm," Rogue leaned back on the bed, "Never knew that."

"Well now you do," Kitty smiled. "So if you ever want your friends to phone, just give them your number."

"Ah'll remember that," Said Rogue, staring up at the ceiling, suddenly feeling very tired. "So, are ya gonna go see the Professor or what?"

Kitty looked hesitant, reluctant to go. "Well, I suppose now is as good as time as any."

"You only have about an hour left to talk to him and explain your situation anyway," Rogue rolled over on her side, propping her head up with a hand. "Ah'd get going if Ah were you."

Kitty nodded, walking towards the door. She was about to phase through it when she looked back at Rogue, who was still sprawled out on top of her bed. "Did you want to come with me? For like, support and that."

Rogue gave her an incredulous look. "Support? Kitty, I don't support this one bit!" She suddenly smiled, a sight that no one saw very often. "Besides, it's your challenge…and this is part of it. You have to convince the Professor to let you go…Ah can't help you –" she gave Kitty a wicked look, "It'd be cheating!"

Kitty grinned in response. "I suppose you're right. Are you going to stick around here?"

"Ah think Ah might take a small nap," Rogue admitted, lying on her back. "Your bed is pretty comfortable. Wake me up when ya get back, okay?"

"Sure thing," Kitty replied, phasing through the door and making her way towards the Infirmary. Hopefully this wouldn't go as bad as she thought it was going to go, and she would easily talk the Professor into letting her go for the week. She had a feeling it was going to take a lot of explaining, though.

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"I can't believe you actually agreed to that stupid challenge, Lance!" Pietro complained, sitting in the large armchair in that was usually placed in front of the television. Lately, however, very little television was being watched in the Brotherhood's boarding house due to the fact that the place was literally falling apart. The floors were covered in garbage, the walls were crumbling apart, the smell of leftover food that lay around on the floor going bad was enough to make one sick – and they had absolutely no money to fix things. They were lucky the electricity hadn't been cut off yet, because no one had paid the bills since Mystique went missing.

"Yeah!" Fred agreed, kicking a pile of junk out of his way as he came into the living room with a pile of sandwiches held high upon a plate. Todd jumped wildly around his feet, his large eyes staring up at the plate of food.

"Yo, c'mon Fred! Share the food!" Todd whined, his green tongue darting out to snatch the plate away. Fred grabbed it before it could reach the plate, however, and threw Todd across the room. Todd hit the wall, making more paint and plaster peel and crumble off as he sunk to the ground.

"Hey!" Lance crossed his arms from where he stood, "You're the one who officially made it a challenge!" He looked accusingly at Pietro. "None of this would have happened if you'd kept your stupid mouth shut!"

Pietro raised his hands defensively. "It was all going good until you agreed to us not using our powers! We had one of the X-Men staying here for the week – just imagine the fun we could have had with her – and then you went and blew it!"

"I ain't going no week without my powers!" Todd said once he'd pulled himself off the wall.

"Me either!" Said Fred, taking a seat on a less messy part of the carpet. Setting the plate of sandwiches between his legs, he started eating them.

"We had her in our grasp, and you ruined that, Lance!" Pietro accused him. "You agreed to her terms without even asking us if we agreed to them or not!"

"Yeah!" Todd jumped onto the back of the chair, his tongue darting across the room to snatch one of Fred's sandwiches before the bigger mutant could realize what had just happened. Snapping his tongue back, Todd ate the sandwich whole, talking as he chewed. "You could have at least asked us what we thought of it! I would have never agreed!"

Pietro sat forward, sneering up at the boy standing not too far away from him. "You were a bit too eager to have the X-Men chick stay with us, Lance. Is there something you're not telling us?"

"Oh, oh, oh!" Todd suddenly started jumping up and down on the back of the chair. "Yeah! Tell us Lance, why so eager? And why did you save that chick yesterday when the school's mascot almost crushed her?"

"Yeah Lance, do tell us what you were thinking when you pushed her out of the way," Pietro smirked, his eyes narrowed wickedly.

Lance looked hesitant to answer, but when he finally opened his mouth to reply, Todd was already talking.

"I know, I know!" He grinned wickedly, making smoochy faces, "Lance and Kitty sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S –" The ground suddenly started to shake, and he shut up as pieces of plaster from the ceiling started to fall on top of him.

Lance silently glared at the other mutant.

"Ah, I see Todd hit a sore spot, huh?" Pietro asked. "So it's true, then? The great Avalanche has a thing fore the Shadowcat girl?"

Lance denied it, shaking his head. "No! I just didn't want her to get squashed by a giant flaming bird, that's all. I would have done it for anyone!"

"Really?" Pietro looked skeptical. "So you would have saved any one of the X-Men from that fate, huh?"

Once again the ground beneath their feet started to rumble as Lance glared at the white haired mutant. "It was just a stupid reaction I had, okay? Get off my case!"

"Hey, what do you think Mystique will do if she comes back and finds a chick in the house?" Todd suddenly asked, deciding it was best if they change the subject. The old boarding house couldn't take much more damage, and Lance's power to make earthquakes was sure to bring the house down around them.

"She'll probably have our heads," Pietro replied with a laugh, leaning back in the chair tiredly. "But somehow I doubt that she'll be back for a while."

"What?" Todd frowned, "A while? I don't think she'll be back at all!" With that, he jumped off the couch and started towards the entrance of the living room. "She's probably dead, and we're all just sitting here stupidly waiting for her to return!" His stomach growled, and he stopped to look back at them. "I don't know about you, but I'm checking out her room. There's bound to be some real food, or maybe even some cash hidden away in there!"

The rest of the Brotherhood listened as he bounded off up the stairs, and they waited to hear the telltale noise of Todd trying to get into Mystique's room. Just like all the other times he'd attempted to do so, there was a large bang and Todd came flying back down the stairs seconds later. With a growl, Todd got to his feet and tried again, only to bounce off the door and slide backwards again.

"Man, this door must be made of steel or somethin'!"

"Just give it up, Toad!" Lance called. "You'll never be able to get in there!"

"It doesn't hurt to try!" Todd called back, and there was another loud bang. "Okay, so maybe it does hurt…"

Pietro smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand, running it down his face in irritation. When he finally opened his eyes again, he spotted a clock hanging sideways on the wall opposite of him. "Hey, what time is the girl supposed to be coming here, anyway?"

Lance glanced at the clock, his eyes widening slightly as he saw the time. "I'm supposed to pick her up in a few minutes."

"So that means I still have a few minutes to use my powers, huh?" Pietro stood up, cracking his fingers. "I think I'm gonna go for a run. If I'm going to be stuck here with no powers for a week, I'd better enjoy using them for a few minutes before the week officially starts."

"Does this mean I have to go pick her up alone?" Lance asked dryly.

"Hey, you ruined the challenge…so you're going by yourself. If the X-Men decide to tear you apart, it's your own fault." Pietro pushed past him, grabbing his coat off a broken coat hanger as he went. "Have fun picking her up!"

Lance glared at him as he walked away.

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Kitty walked down the stairs towards the front entrance of the Institute, both bags in her hands. They were packed full and kind of heavy, but she didn't mind carrying them. Rogue had offered some help, but Kitty had refused. Now, walking down the stairs with Rogue behind her, she was as silent as she could possibly be. So far she had managed to make it this far without being noticed by anyone else, and she was grateful for that.

"You sure you have everything you need packed?" Rogue asked quietly as they moved, her gloved hands sliding over the railing as the descended the red carpeted stairs.

"Pretty sure," Kitty replied, quite confident with her words. She'd gone back to her room after her talk with the Professor and had gone over her things, making sure she had everything she could possibly need while away for a week.

"So how'd it go with the Professor?"

"Really good, I think. He was really understanding." Kitty thought back to her conversation with the older man, and the shocked expression he'd had upon his face when she had told him what she was about to do. "He was a bit surprised at first, but he's letting me go anyway. He told me if anything happened and I needed help, then I could give him a call."

"Great, so I guess this means you'll be spending a fabulous week with the Brotherhood," Rogue said with an amused tone, stepping off the last step and walking with Kitty towards the door. "I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with them at the boarding house – I know I did," she said sarcastically.

Kitty grinned, looking at her friend. She'd almost forgotten that Rogue had once been a member of the Brotherhood, and that fact suddenly came back to her. "Oh come on, I'm sure it wasn't that bad living there!"

Rogue rolled her eyes skyward as she shook her head. "Trust me, it was."

Kitty laughed, opening the front door just as the ground beneath her feet started to shake. Her laughter died as she met Rogue's glance, biting her bottom lip as she opened the front door fully to see the front gate of the Institute fall in on itself, crashing to the ground with a loud thud. An old looking jeep drove over it, driving fast across the Institute's driveway before the driver slammed on the brakes and the jeep slid to a halt just before the front steps.

Both girls stood unmoving, staring at the jeep below, their faces grim.

"And that's Lance's grand entrance," Rogue commented dryly, running a hand through her hair. "If everyone was asleep, they're sure as hell awake now. Ah'd go now, if Ah were you. Scott and the gang will be here any second, dressed and ready for a fight."

Kitty nodded, tightening her hold on her bags as she made her way towards the jeep. Lance greeted her from the driver's seat of the van, grinning wildly at her as she threw her bags into the backseat and climbed into the passenger's seat. She frowned and narrowed her eyes at him as she put on her seat belt. "Thanks for waking everyone up – I was hoping to get out of her quietly without everyone knowing."

As if he'd heard her, Kurt suddenly bamfed into view right next to Rogue, startling the girl. He was dressed in his X-Men uniform, and his eyes were wide as he surveyed the scene. "Vhat's going on?!" He asked, and he suddenly spotted Kitty sitting in Lance's jeep. "Kitty? Vhat are you doing with one of the Brotherhood?"

"I'd like to know that too," Came a masculine voice, and Scott stepped out of the Institute, Jean following close behind. A sleepy Spyke followed the both of them, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

Kitty sighed, pushing a stand of hair behind her ear as she looked up at the gathering X-Men. "I'm going to go stay with the Brotherhood for a week," she explained. "Please don't try to stop me."

"Kitty, why would you want to go live with those losers?" Spyke spoke, suddenly feeling a lot more awake. "Are they blackmailing you or something?"

Lance growled at the insult, starting to stand in the jeep when Kitty gave him a look that told him to back down. He obeyed, although grudgingly. He instead opted to glare at the spiked mutant, mentally noting that he owed Spyke an ass kicking in the future.

Finally, Kitty looked back at her friends, giving them an apologetic smile. "No, they're not blackmailing me. Let's just say..I promised to do this. It's only for one week, and I'll be back before you know it."

"We can't let you go, Kitty," Scott said evenly. "They might try something with you, and there's no one there to help!"

Kitty rolled her eyes. "I do know how to like, use a phone you know!"

"But Kitty-" Jean pleaded, and suddenly she stopped and turned towards the entrance of the Institute where Xavier was silently wheeling forward. Ignoring the fact that he shouldn't have been out of bed, she spoke of the problem at hand. "Professor, please talk some sense into Kitty!"

Xavier looked at all of his troubled students, meeting their gazes before he finally looked at Kitty. "Let Kitty be. It's her decision, and I see nothing wrong with it. She's still going to attend school and come to her training sessions, so I don't see a problem with her living with the Brotherhood."

"But Professor!" Scott started, and Xavier looked at him sharply.

"Scott, please stand down and respect Kitty's wishes."

The eldest student frowned, looking back at Lance and Kitty. "Fine. But if you touch her Alvers, I'll personally see to it that you and your little buddies never see Bayville again, got it?"

Lance smirked at Scott, making the other boy clench his teeth in anger. "Whatever you say, Summers." He laughed, starting up the jeep and putting his foot down hard on the gas peddle. Kitty screamed, grabbing hold of the side of the jeep as it jerked foreword.

"Kitty, be careful, okay?" Kurt cried, watching as the jeep sped off leaving a trail of dust.

The X-Men stood there for a long time after the dust had cleared, staring at the broken gate hanging off its hinges on the ground.

"This can't possibly be good," Spyke said quietly.

"It was her choice," Xavier told them. "Now, how about some breakfast?" He started to wheel the chair back into the Institute, heading towards the dining room. The others followed after him, still slightly baffled as to why Kitty would take off with the Brotherhood.

Only Rogue stayed behind, her arms crossed and a smirk on her face. "Good luck Kitty, you'll need it."

She headed back inside to join the others.

To Be Continued…