A/N: Argh! I am so sorry this took so long! I had tons of homework, not to mention the state Mu Alpha Theta competition. I worked really hard on this though, and I actually am satisfied by the way it turned out. I hope it makes up for the wait.
Disclaimer: I didn't own X-Men: Evolution the first time. I didn't own it the second time. Unfortunately, nothing has changed.
Betrayal Part Three: Return
The alarm went off far too early for a girl who had tossed and turned all night long. Kitty moaned as she opened her eyes, and no sooner had she done so than an overwhelming sense of dread and worry came over her. It took a moment for her to recall why, and then she sat up in bed so abruptly that her vision went blurry. As she waited for her eyes to clear, she tried to calm her whirling thoughts. Stop it. Stop worrying. Kurt's back; he must be back. He wouldn't stay out all night.
Still, no matter how hard she tried to talk herself into it, she was so distracted while getting dressed that she ended up trying to put her shirt on as pants and her shoes on the wrong feet. By the time she managed to get all her clothing on the right appendages, she remembered that it was a Sunday. Exasperation flooded her system and she flopped back onto the bed. There was no point in going downstairs; no one would be up at this hour on a weekend: she had set her alarm for six thirty.
Actually, that might be exactly what I want, she mused. If anyone else had heard about the dance from Scott, Logan, or the Professor without hearing her version, they would likely not be too happy to see her. Kitty decided to have breakfast early and then retire to her room.
After eating her cereal and fruit, Kitty walked out of the dining hall and ran straight into Ororo. She gasped and stammered an apology. Before she could duck past Ororo to head for her room, the African said, "A moment, if you please, Kitty."
Kitty didn't "please", but Ororo's tone told her she had no choice. She turned to face her with reluctance. The look on Ororo's face made her cringe. "I have heard what happened last night, Kitty." She held up her hand as Kitty started to protest. "I have also heard from Scott what your reasons were. While I was not there to observe the situation, I highly doubt that you had no other course of action." She looked at Kitty sternly. "I had hoped that we had taught you better than that, Kitty." Ororo swept past Kitty into the dining hall without a backward glance.
"Wait!" Kitty called desperately. When Ororo turned, Kitty realized that what she wanted to say was useless. Instead she asked, "Is Kurt back?"
Apprehension built up in the young girl as Ororo's stern expression did not change. "No, Kitty," she said simply.
Kitty let Ororo go this time. She was stunned. Never had she imagined that Kurt would stay out all night! Nigglings of doubt tugged at her then, but she pushed them harshly away. These were harder to get rid of than her doubts last night.
Kitty ran into Jean next. When she saw the redhead coming she tried to duck into a side passageway, but it was no use. Don't try to avoid me, Kitty, came Jean's voice in her head. She moaned inwardly and turned to face Jean, trying to ignore the increasing tension she felt.
However, Jean didn't say anything to her. Somehow that made it much worse. The disappointed look on her face was more than Kitty could stand. "Say something," she begged. "You know you want to, so just say it!"
Jean continued to look at her. "I think you've already heard everything I wanted to say."
Kitty stared at Jean, then turned and ran towards her room. She passed Evan, who glared at her as she barreled past him. She didn't stop; she had to get away from the horrible accusing looks the others gave her. Kitty blinked away tears as she ran. It's not fair! None of them understand! The other voice inside of her was speaking up now, with growing insistency. What if they're right? What if –
In her mad flight she didn't see Logan in front of her, and ended up phasing straight through him. He called to her to stop, and she turned angrily. "What?" she yelled, losing her patience at last. "Are you going to scream at me too? I had to do it!"
Logan curled his lip. "You disgust me," he said. "Deserting your own teammate under fire. I can't believe you showed your face around here." Kitty felt like she had been slapped. Tears rolled down her cheeks. But Logan wasn't finished. "Elf-boy cares about you, you know," he said. "Though for the life of me I don't know why. His looks have made him more sensitive than most people, and you crushed him. More than that, you destroyed him. I'm not surprised he didn't come home. I will be surprised if he comes home without one of us dragging him back." He glared at Kitty and stalked down the hall, his last words like daggers in her heart. "You better hope Kurt comes back alive."
Bitter tears welled up in Kitty's eyes. Logan's words had been all too clear. He's right. He's right, and Scott's right, and the Professor…She sank to her knees in the hall and wept for her friends, and the Institute, and a poor boy named Kurt to whom she had done the unforgivable.
* * *
Kitty honestly had no idea how she had gotten to her room after her collapse in the hallway. She only recalled lying on her bed and staring at the ceiling without seeing it as her thoughts whirled. How could you? How could you? her mind screamed. She didn't even try to silence it as she wept, wracked with guilt and grief.
It took the better part of two hours for Kitty to calm down enough to think. She stared blankly into space and desperately tried to think of some way to redeem herself. Her thought process was interrupted several times by more bouts of tears as she thought of things she could have done the previous night but were impossible now.
The word came around lunchtime that Kurt had been found, in the form of the Professor sending out a mental message to the entire Institute. Logan had gone out searching for him, aided by Jean's mental directions and his own amazing sense of smell. He found Kurt about five miles out of Bayville behind a lonely gas station. Kurt had apparently crashed there after exhausting both his mutant powers and his own physical strength. It was nothing short of a miracle that he had not been discovered, but the station was far enough out of the way that it received few visitors.
When Kurt arrived back at the mansion, Kitty stayed in her room. She heard Jean leave her room to go down and see Kurt. Kitty knew she should go down also, but she didn't think she could face him without crying.
Kitty? The mental call came from Professor Xavier. She ignored it and continued to sit on her bed. Kitty, come down here.
Could she ignore a direct order from the Professor? Kitty didn't think so. Very reluctantly, she got off her bed and slowly began walking downstairs. She didn't bother to use her powers to get her there quickly. Anytime she saw him would be too soon.
When Kitty arrived in the main living room, she immediately saw Kurt. The other mutants surrounding him looked up when she arrived. She didn't even notice as they drew back slightly. All she saw was Kurt.
Kitty held back a gasp. The blue mutant looked awful. Dark circles lined his eyes, and scratches marred his matted blue fur. He looked like he had been running all night. He has run all night, said the Professor in her mind. I'm just grateful Logan found him when he did.
Unbeknownst to Kitty, the other students had quietly left the room, probably at a request from Professor Xavier. She was only aware that Kurt had finally looked up at her, and the sad, pained look on his face almost started her crying again.
The silence dragged on. I have to say something! "Um…hi, Kurt," she stammered. Mentally she kicked herself. That was not what she had wanted to say. She tried again. "I'm…I'm glad you're back."
Kurt looked down at the floor. "Ja," he said quietly. Kitty could not believe what she had just said. If there were an award for saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time, I'd get it.
"Kurt," she began again, and her voice faltered. "I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry." Tears filled her eyes again. "I never meant to…I didn't mean to hurt you!" The words sounded pathetic even to her.
"Ja, Kitty," Kurt said again. "It's okay." He looked up at Xavier. "Professor, I am going up to my room."
"Of course, Kurt," the Professor answered. "I'll have your watch fixed in time for you to go to school on Tuesday." Kurt teleported out, leaving the Professor and Kitty alone.
"But…" Kitty protested, too late. She stared at the place where Kurt had just been. It's not okay. Not at all.
Professor Xavier wheeled himself out the door past Kitty. "I'll see you at dinner," he said. Disappointment filled his voice. Kitty bit her lip as the nebulous plan she had thought of before leaving her room came back to the surface of her mind.
"Professor, wait!" She ran out the door and stopped by his wheelchair. He looked up at her, his face unreadable. She took a deep breath. "When you get Kurt's watch fixed, would it be possible to add a feature to it?"
"Depends on what it is," he answered.
"What if it was…"
* * *
The next day at school was living Hell for Kitty. Everywhere she went crowds surrounded her. Normally she would have enjoyed this, but these crowds all wanted to know about Kurt. Comments such as, "I'll bet he doesn't dare show his face around here!" and "The demon must be scared to show up for school now that we know about him," filled the hallways. When asked a direct question about Kurt, Kitty always answered enigmatically.
"Kurt is sick today. But he'll have a big surprise for you when he gets back!" No matter how hard anyone pressed, she didn't say another word. Not even when Liam came around to ask her about Kurt did she tell him anything.
Somehow she made it through the day without losing her cool. She was already tense about what she planned to do tomorrow. Kitty intended to tell Kurt about her idea tonight and see if he thought it would work. And if it did, then maybe he actually would forgive her.
The final bell rang and Kitty rushed out of her class as fast as she could. She wasn't in a particular hurry to get back in Scott's car, since she had been slowly tortured by the silent treatment during the morning ride, but she wanted to get away from the incessant talking and speculations about "the demon", as they were now calling Kurt.
Kitty was heading for her locker when the hallways fell silent. She could think of only one thing that might cause all those students to stop their conversations. The Professor must have had Logan drop him off to get his make-up work. But…but he isn't supposed to be here until tomorrow! she thought wildly. I haven't told him my plan yet! How can this possibly work if he doesn't know his cues? Her heart stopped for a split second, then restarted at triple speed. She knew what she had to do. If she could calm herself long enough to speak…Kitty turned around – and found herself looking directly into Kurt's holograph-induced eyes.
She froze. Paralysis took hold and she would not, could not will her body to move. Her carefully rehearsed lines flew out of her head completely. All she saw was Kurt's eyes, pain and a hint of betrayal in them even now. And beyond them, the hallway of students murmured and gaped as they witnessed the confrontation.
Out of the corner of her eye, Kitty saw Josh and some of his football buddies moving towards Kurt, anger on their faces. This would be a horrible risk – if no one believed her act – she was out of time. She had to act now.
Kitty took a deep breath – and beamed at Kurt like she hadn't seen him in years. "Hey, Kurt!" she chirped, forcing cheer into her voice. "I'm glad you're feeling better! Have you, like, shown them yet?" Josh and the others stopped their advance and stared. Kurt stared at her too, uncomprehending.
Kitty looked around the hall at all the faces – some angry, some fearful, and some curious. She let her eyes widen, and her voice took on a note of surprise. "You haven't?" she asked incredulously. Her eyes sparkled, and she grinned infectiously. "Show them now, Kurt!" Without waiting for an answer she turned to the crowd. "Wait until you see this," she said. "It is sooo cool! He can turn into anybody!"
She saw Kurt's eyes widen and prayed that he understood what she meant. She took hold of his arm and dramatically gestured to his new holo-watch. "Watch this," she instructed, and pressed the little button on the side that she had asked to be installed. Immediately Kurt's image blurred, shifted – and became a 50-year-old man.
The gasps of shock from the crowd were just what Kitty was hoping for. She pressed the button again and again, and Kurt's image went from a middle-aged man to a beach bum, a grandmother, George Washington, and even a voluptuous teenage girl. Kitty stopped at that last one, and said to the excitedly chattering crowd, "Remember the mutant from the dance?" This time she pressed a different button, but luckily no one was close enough to tell the difference. The holograph-inducer turned off, and Kurt stood staring at them in his true form.
Before anyone could say anything, Kitty laughed and grinned up at Kurt with admiration. This is going better than I had hoped, she thought. Maybe I should become an actress! "He sure had me fooled then!" she said, bubbly laughter accompanying her statement. She winked at the crowd as if sharing some great secret. "Believe me, when we got home and he told me it was all a joke, and then showed me the watch – ooh, I was so mad at him! But I have my ways of revenge for scaring me like that," she added, grinning evilly. "You've only seen the beginning of them, Kurt."
Kurt had the sense to react to that appropriately. "Oh, no," he lamented. "I am doomed! You shall never see Kurt Vagner again!" The gathered students laughed, and Kitty relaxed slightly. It was working – now if only no one thought to ask how Kurt had disappeared, they would be in the clear.
"Turn off the holograph now, Kurt," she instructed. Kurt looked surprised for a minute, and Kitty nodded at the watch meaningfully. Come on, figure it out…
She didn't need to worry. Kurt grinned at her and said, "Sure, Kitty." He pressed a button and his "normal" hologram popped up again. The ever-growing crowd of students gasped. Some even applauded. Kurt took a few bows, and Kitty allowed herself a sigh of relief. It was the perfect thing to do to cement their act.
Her relief was short-lived, however. Josh pushed his way up to the front of the crowd and looked suspiciously at Kurt. Then he asked the one question Kitty had been praying not to hear. "Well, then how did you disappear like that at the dance?"
Fear shot through Kitty's chest; fear that she was careful not to let show. Contrary to her outside appearance, her mind was in turmoil. Kurt figured out what I was doing before, but this! How can I ever pull this off?
Kitty beamed at Josh to hide the horrible feeling building up in the pit of her stomach. She had no choice. She had created this mess, now she had to finish it. The only thing to do was to hope Kurt caught on. "That was the most amazing thing of all!" she said, stalling for time. "He really thought of everything! He can actually project an image that mirrors what's around him." Seeing the confused look on Kurt's face and on several other people, she added, "That means that the hologram makes him blend in perfectly with the crowd around him. He didn't disappear, the holograph just made him look invisible!" Silently she hoped that no one knew too much about holographic projectors, because what she'd just claimed Kurt had done was currently impossible. From the impressed looks on the surrounding people's faces, no one knew that.
Josh still looked unconvinced. "Show us," he ordered. Kitty swallowed. She had really hoped that no one would call her bluff. Now it was all up to Kurt. Who has no idea what I'm doing. Face it, Kitty; you're in for it this time!
"Of course," she said, ignoring the slightly panicked look on Kurt's face. He knew that his holo-watch couldn't do that. "Now, when Kurt presses this button, he will to all our views disappear. He will have blended in perfectly with his surroundings - like a chameleon. Then he'll press it again and the hologram will disappear, and then pop! Back comes Kurt!" She stared at Kurt the entire time she was speaking, and at the end mouthed a single word to him. Teleport!
Understanding dawned in his Kurt's eyes. He gestured towards his watch, pretended to press a button – and vanished. A few seconds later, he reappeared in the exact same spot and bowed. As the gathered students chattered excitedly, Kitty's knees went weak with relief. It worked…it actually worked!
Several students came up to Kurt exclaiming over his watch, but Kitty was too drained to listen. She had been so full of tension over the past two days that now it was all she could do to stand up. The students, ready to go home after a long day, finally streamed away. From what Kitty heard, the gossips had already picked up a new topic. It was over.
Kitty looked up. The only people left in the hallway were Jean, Scott, and Kurt, Evan having had to leave earlier for basketball practice. She stared at them mutely, not having the energy to even beg forgiveness anymore. Kurt walked towards her hesitantly. "Kitty," he started. He seemed to lose what he was about to say. Then he shrugged. "Thanks." Kitty looked up at him, startled.
"Thanks?" she whispered, trying and failing to keep her voice from wavering. "After all that – you're thanking me?" Tears rushed to her eyes and spilled over. "Oh, Kurt – I'm so sorry – so sorry-" Kurt caught her up in his arms and hugged her briefly. Then he released her, offered a quick smile, and walked down the hall towards the parking lot. Jean followed him, after a glance at Kitty that somehow made her feel a little bit better. The only person left now was Scott.
Scott stared at her for a time that seemed endless. She resisted the urge to squirm under his gaze, and gave him look for look until he finally spoke. "You did a good job back there." He did not smile, but there was acceptance in his voice. "That took a lot of thinking. I'm impressed." He clapped her on the shoulder and turned away, following the others. When he was about halfway down the hall he looked back. "You coming? It's a long way to walk."
Kitty smiled shakily. Unexplainably, she felt like bursting into tears. It would be a long time before the team fully trusted her again, but at least now they were speaking to her. At least now, she had a chance.
Kitty wiped her eyes on her sleeve and managed a real smile. "I'm coming. Wait up!"
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