By Princess Alexandria
Average Everyday Love Affair Challenge piece – femslash of course.
SUMMARY: Kim is the architect hired to help rebuild the school after "Magneto" destroyed it in Planet X, but on a world where Jean didn't die. Both women were betrayed and left by their lovers, can they help each other rebuild more than just the school? Femslash
Kimberly came back into the house while flipping through the mail. The television was still on and every channel talked about the disaster. She knew she'd feel better if she turned it off, it didn't say anything new now, days after the Xmen stopped Magneto from killing the planet. Of course no one thought about that for more than a moment, no the news dwelled on the destruction a mutant caused.
"People around the world are stunned by this brutal attack." The reporter rehashed the same comments. "Manhattan is littered with rubble of once majestic buildings, bridges were twisted into useless mockeries of art. The government and FEMA are working to find and help the survivors." Kim stopped her tour of the mail to pick up her remote and turn the television off.
The phone started to ring and Kim almost expected to hear Vicki's footsteps. It bothered her when she did that, forgot. Years of living with someone made it hard to adjust to being alone.
"Pumpkin," Kim smiled just a little at her father's voice. "How are you holding up?" He spoke gently, and Kim was again grateful to have the dad she did.
"Well, she finished moving out. The boxes she'd stored here are gone. Vicki wants me to sell the house so she can get her money back out of it." They'd gone into it half and half, part of building a life together. It only meant that now that life had to be ripped apart brick by brick.
"Oh," He sounded hurt for her. "You love that house. You designed it. She can't make you sell that. It's more yours than hers. You put your blood and sweat into it."
"Yeah well," Kim clenched her jaw and refused to cry. "I don't know what to do daddy. I can't afford to pay her off. I just started my career." Her voice cracked. This was her dream home and the first house plan she saw to completion after she became a licensed architect. "I never would have gotten a loan for the entire amount by myself. Even with all the work I did myself."
"Oh pumpkin." He sighed heavily and Kim moved to lean against the kitchen island. "We'll figure something out. That cheating bitch isn't going to keep hurting you like this." He used to like Vicki too, welcomed her into the family during the commitment ceremony, Kim thought with some more pangs of pain.
"So have we heard from Jason?" Kim asked.
"He called your mom. He's fine, that's why I called you, so you could stop worrying."
"It's a mad house out there. I'm never going to stop worrying." Kim spoke quietly.
"You always did try to overprotect your brother. He's a grown man now Kim, regardless of his size he is a man."
"I know that daddy. I do."
"I'm going be working in Manhattan on the rebuilding. My firm is a flooded with all our clients calling." His voice changed to be less gently scolding. "That bastard destroyed three of my buildings." It was more irritated and overworked.
"You're not going to have time to sleep or eat are you?" Kim pulled the chair away from the breakfast table and sat. "You take care of your health. You aren't a young man anymore pappa."
"Says the princess, you just want my crown baby but I'm not surrendering it." He teased.
"Yeah, as if I wanna build big ugly eyesores like you do." She teased back.
"Those ugly eyesores paid for your education dear." His voice softened. "You hold on baby. It'll get better, I promise it will."
"Soon would be nice."
When she finally hung up Kim just sat still and stared outside at the new deck she'd just installed last summer and the hot tub she'd bought as a treat for them both.
The next day Kim was staring at her computer in her home office, working out the finishing touches on the house plans for the Robertson's.
The phone ringing made save her work and turn to answer it. "Hello, Kimberly Brown speaking." It was her work line.
"Kim," her dad sounded a little frazzled. "I need a huge favor."
"What ya need?" Her eyebrows drew together, not liking how stressed he sounded.
"I have a private client, not through the firm. You remember them?" It took her a moment to think of what he could be talking about, but once she did she sat up straighter.
"Their school took a lot of damage again and I can't take the time to go meet with them."
"Pa, I'm a residential architect."
"Baby, I can't help them and what they do is very important. At this point the residential architects are the only ones not flooded with work. The type of buildings they have aren't a huge stretch for you. Think of them as really big houses." He sounded firm and Kim nodded that she understood, not that he'd see it. "I'll email you the contact information. Swing by the house and pick up the backup plans for it, it's filed alphabetically. They may just have to go with the runner up set from the last time. Do this for me?"
"He's used to me only working part time because of my job, so he shouldn't have a problem with you doing it that way." He paused. "I don't have to tell you that you really shouldn't tell the people at your work who you're working for off the clock do I?" He spoke quietly.
"No, I know." Kim sighed. Xavier's institute of higher learning wasn't a secret anymore and she'd seen the picketers once when she drove past them on the way to a work site. Hopefully that had calmed down a bit now that it was older news that they taught mutants there. She'd been grateful that Jason wasn't going there anymore when she saw it. It would have been yet more to deal with at a time when her brother had far too many problems already.
Graffiti ruined the wall next to the gate, rude bigoted graffiti. Kim shook her head at the hatred people felt and drove up to the gate.
A cool male voice came from somewhere. "Your business?"
"I have building plans for Charles Xavier." Kim looked around until she saw a camera focused on her. "I believe he is expecting me, I'm Kimberly Brown."
"Okay Ms. Brown." A buzz sounded and the gate swung open. As Kim drove up the driveway her eyes widened to see piles of things on the lawn, clearly salvaged from the ruins, complete ruins, of the main building. She finally decided to just park off to the side and walk the rest of the way to keep her car out of the way of people who were working on salvage. In her work she had never yet had to deal with this. Most people were happily planning a home, not having to rebuild after something like this. Hopefully no one died in that.
"Amazingly no one did." A feminine voice answered her and Kim turned to the redhead standing up next to a pile of belongings Kim was walking past. "Everyone managed to get out, thankfully." The redhead smiled and took a few steps closer to Kim. She looked a little familiar, Kim thought she might have seen her on television at some point. "I'm Jean. The Professor wants me to walk you around back so you can get into his office."
"Okay." Kim waited for the woman to get to her. "telepath?" It didn't really require asking, the woman had answered questions she hadn't said after all.
"Yes." The slight hesitant look in the redhead's eyes told Kim that sometimes people didn't take that well.
"My brother's a telepath." Kim smiled at the redhead in a friendly way, making it clear that she had no problems with it. "Little brat used to ruin all my crushes by telling me what jerks they all really were." Her smile faded a little, thinking she really could have used his advice about Vicki, but he'd stopped doing that by the time Kim met Vicki. Maybe he'd had the right idea, god knows his heart was in the right place.
"Advanced warning. If only we all could have had that." Jean had a slightly bitter tone to her own voice and somehow Kim knew that even a telepath could get burned in a relationship. "Well," The redheaded telepath's voice was cheerier, but still didn't seem fake. "Shall we go? I know that the Professor is eager to get construction started. We lost most of our classrooms."
Kim did the polite talk about how she was the daughter of their normal architect, where she got her education, all the details one gave when accepting a job, but her eyes wandered over what resembled a tent city. Tents and trailers littered the lawn, housing who knew how many people.
"The faculty lived in that building." Jean explained softly. "The students are still in their dorms, and a few faculty are in there to keep an eye on them."
"The one's that won the coin toss?" Kim asked.
"The full time faculty."
Kim turned to look at Jean. "Are you full time?"
"No, that little blue tent is mine." Jean pointed out to the field. Kim didn't really know this woman, but she seemed nice and Kim had an urge to take her home and give her a real bed to sleep in. An urge she suppressed, because this was a woman, not a stray cat. She didn't even really know this woman, she just got that vibe that said she was someone worth knowing.
They came around to a large trailer with a ramp leading up to the large door. Kim followed Jean up the ramp and into a temporary office with an older bald man sitting at a desk filled with papers. "You must be Kim, Richard's daughter."
"Yes I am." She gave him the polite smile. "I brought the plans he wanted you to have." Kim stepped forward, aware that Jean wasn't leaving her here and heading back to work. She liked that.
"Good. I was hoping you could work with Jean on this." Kim turned to see Jean giving the older man a confused look. "Jean, I plan to make you the Headmistress of the school once we have a school again." And suddenly Kim felt like a third wheel, because Jean didn't look happy about her promotion. Kim felt a sudden urge to slip out of the room and let them talk, but it would be rude of her to do that. The silence that filled the room showed that they still could manage that talk with her there, standing awkwardly while Jean appeared to protest her promotion.
Dad, when I see you again you will owe me, Kim thought with a little venom as she considered how working with the unwilling would be. Would she have to press Jean to make even the simplest of decisions like she had for that one husband that had no interest in his own home? She hated that job. She went into residential architecture for a reason, and that was families and making people happy by helping them have their dream home or as close to it as they could have. She wanted to work with happy people, not people disinterested in the results.
A hand brought Kim out of her purposeful ignorance of what was going on around her, the only privacy she could actively offer the others in the room. "I guess we could go outside, have some lunch, and discuss the plans." Jean smiled just a little. "It's barbeque again and will be for a while most likely, but you are more than welcome to join us."
"I glanced at the plans, but I didn't have a lot of time to study them." Kim glanced at Jean and then the older man. "Normally I'm working with my own plans, but I'll be up to speed pretty quickly. I just had to finish my own work today before coming over."
"I'm sure you'll be more than adequate Ms. Brown." He told her, and started to move around the desk. That's when Kim remembered her brother saying that his Professor was in a wheelchair. The ramp should have been a reminder, but Kim hadn't caught it. "Jean, if you want to go ahead and save us a table I could escort Ms. Brown."
"Sure thing Professor."
Kim missed the other woman as soon as she'd gone. The Professor was someone that her brother respected a lot and for good reason, but he was a bit intimidating, even in that chair. "Um, I wanted to thank you for helping my brother."
"He's a good man." The Professor's chair started to move toward the door.
"I was really scared for him." Kim spoke quietly. "We all were." It might have been a while since it happened, but Kim still occasionally had nightmares of her brother shrinking away to nothing. "He's barely bigger than the action figures he used to collect, but I'm just so glad he's still here."
"Yes, it is unfortunate that some mutations have such drastic changes." His chair moved outside and Kim found herself following him down the ramp. "But he never gave up. That was important."
"And you've never discovered a mutation of your own?" He asked her and glanced back to see her expression. Kim had to force her fear of the idea off of her face.
"No, as far as I know I'm just human, but with what's in our genes I think I'd rather be. He's got it tough." She admitted. Some mutations were good and helpful, but her brother's had nearly killed him. "I wouldn't deal with it nearly as well as he does."
"Yes, well it is interesting how even among twins there can be difference like this." He finished his trip down the ramp and turned his chair to partly face her.
"Night and Day, that's us." Kim moved to walk along side of the chair, feeling a little awkward looking down at the man to talk while walking. "Next time I talk to him I'll tell him I saw you."
"Oh, I still talk with him often. He was a very good student." The Professor told her and Kim felt awkward again. He was her twin, but she didn't hear from him very much anymore. He called Mom more than he called her; it bothered Kim that they'd grown apart with his mutation. The Professor probably heard more from her brother.
"Jean will make a very good Headmistress." The Professor started to talk in a more businesslike tone. "And I want you to go to her with all your questions. She needs to get used to the idea of being in charge before I leave. I think its time for a change of pace, change can be rather good at times don't you think?"
"It can be." Kim's reply was more mechanical as she looked around at the people heading in the same direction. She knew that she recognized some of them.
"Jean could use something to occupy her time and mind. Make sure this school is everything she wants it to be." He told her and Kim turned to look at him again, wondering at why this mess here wasn't enough for Jean to think about.
"She's in charge. I've got it." Kim repeated it, knowing she'd gotten a little lucky with that. There would be none of that one person says they want one thing and another says something else. One contact was always better.
Kim watched the redhead study the drawings after they'd eaten, the drawings laid out on the cleaned off picnic table, and wondered if the woman really understood what she was looking at. She didn't want to start explaining the symbols if it wasn't needed, but would the woman ask if she didn't know or was she like the men who would grunt and pretend to understand just so they didn't have to admit to not knowing something.
"What is this symbol?" And Jean finally asked. That at least meant she wasn't robbing Kim's mind for answers.
"That's an electrical outlet." Kim trailed a hand over a line. "This is the wiring for an overhead light fixture." She moved her finger over to the walls. "These are windows, and they'll be tall ones. Lots of natural lighting. My dad's big on that. Used to always yell at us to stop wasting electricity and use the light God gave us. I think he just put in those big windows so he could see if we were misbehaving when he was gardening." Kim smiled just a little when Jean smiled too.
"Did you do that a lot?" Jean looked up from the plans with a teasing glint in her eyes. "Misbehave?"
"Oh no, never once." Kim's tone made it clear she was lying. Jean chuckled and it felt like they'd been friends for a while, instead of just meeting today.
"Jean?" A deep masculine voice called out behind her and Kim turned with Jean to see him approaching, a huge blue catlike man. Kim blinked once and put her polite mask on, rather than stare shocked at his appearance.
"Henry, this is Kim Brown, our architect." Jean introduced her and the man smiled at her. He even had fangs in that mouth.
"So nice to meet you Ms. Brown." He spoke like a gentleman and actually bowed his head a little. "Architect. That is fortunate that we have you."
"Thank you." Kim spoke just as politely and started to relax.
"Jean, I wanted to do a follow up exam today. I know I told you that when I released you."
"Well, I've been a little busy Henry. I'll make sure to come by later."
"Make sure you do." He clearly wanted to say more, but didn't because Kim was there. Instead he repeated himself. "Okay, make sure you do." He smiled at Kim. "It was a pleasure to meet you."
"You to." Kim felt it was a bit overpolite and felt strange, but she followed his lead and nodded back, before he left. "I think we need to check my dad's plans again." She muttered quietly to Jean. "Make sure the doors are big enough."
Jean smirked at her. "I'm sure they are. The last building had rather large doors."
"Anything else I should know so that this place fits the people?"
"Oh, I'm sure we can make this work." Jean held up the plans, and Kim remembered the Professor's wish for Jean to actually be involved in the planning. It meant that this set her dad sent was just a rough draft and that they'd be tweaking it. It meant more time, but Kim preferred that her clients got what they wanted, not that they settled for what they already had.
"No we can't." Kim looked into green eyes and made a decision. "This is just an example. I'm going to draw the final set to your specifications."
"I thought," Jean looked a little confused.
"I don't do things people settle for. It's a matter of pride. I work with all sorts of budgets and there are times when my clients don't have enough for all their dreams, but I never let them feel like they just settled, they need to be happy with what they get." Kim looked down at the drawing they'd been studying. "This was a runner up once and it wasn't what whoever decided wanted. This is settling."
"So what do we need to do?"
"We need to figure out what you want." Kim smiled. "We'll start by figuring out what you like."
"And how do we go about that?" Jean's smile really changed her features and it gave Kim a little pause, it made the naturally attractive redhead look like a goddess. Kim didn't need thoughts like that in her head right now.
"Well, there are two parts to a building, function and style." Kim pulled the separate pieces of the plan into one pile. She twisted them so that they were all facing the same way. "We need to know what kind of rooms and storage you need, the function, and we need to know what you find attractive," Kim glanced up, "the style." She glanced around at the other standing buildings. "Then we try and make the new building fit in with the old, but since it's the main building we have leeway.
"This might actually be fun." Jean leaned forward and rested her chin on her hands, with her elbows on the table. Her green eyes sparkled with something that hadn't been there before, interest in the project. Kim smiled at her again, while rolling up the plans to put them away.
"That's what it's supposed to be."
Kim had her notepad out and was making notes as Jean thought out loud. "Our art room needs more sinks than the last one had." Kim arched her eyebrow and Jean added more quietly. "It had three. I'm sorry, you never did see it." Jean looked a little thoughtful. "Would it help if you had?"
"Probably seeing it in action would have. Seeing where the traffic flow is, how the rooms are used."
"I could show you." Jean tapped a finger to her own temple, making it clear she was offering a telepathic tour.
"I wish all my clients could do that." Kim smiled and waited for the tour to begin. Flashes of halls of students, students in classrooms, locker filled halls filled Kim's mind and she closed her eyes to focus on the details that hit her. The lockers in the halls made traffic flow difficult, she noticed. The art room was another focus point.
"You teach art?" Kim asked with her eyes closed, taking in the room in her mind.
"I teach a lot of different things." Jean answered her mentally and suddenly Jean appeared in the moving tour of the old building, the students disappearing. "We all do."
"Well, we have some ideas of what's here." Kim's mental version of herself turned to Jean. "Now show me buildings, houses, art, you think are attractive. Then I can guide you to styles you might like."
The flashes of images almost seemed too fast for Kim to follow but she did her best to. Occasionally she'd see images with a man in them, clearly the man with Jean when she saw these places.
"Jean." The voice startled Kim, and the slideshow stopped immediately.
"What is it Scott?" Jean's voice was suddenly weary and wary. Kim opened her eyes and studied the redhead and then the man that had walked up to them. He'd been in a few of the images.
"I heard the architect was here. I thought perhaps we should all meet with her." He gave a small smile to Kim, but Kim noticed that Jean didn't really like the idea. The joy in the project was a new thing for the redhead. "So we can tell her what we need." Kim had the impression that something more was going on here. She noticed the awkward way he stood and the way Jean's earlier joy was gone.
"I'm already working with her Scott." Jean turned to Kim, "Kim, this is Scott, Scott, Kim Brown."
"Hello." Kim offered it up politely, but she could practically feel the awkwardness fogging the area and knew, just knew, that this man was an ex and a recent one. It seemed too like Kim's stilting conversations with Vicki to be anything but. "Um, I don't mean to be rude, but the Professor promised me that I'd only have to work with one person." Kim twisted the truth just a tad to make it her choice with a polite smile, her empathy for Jean forcing her to do it. He shifted his stance, looking a little more awkward.
"Yes Scott, the Professor put me in charge of this." Jean picked it up. "while the rest of you clear the site."
"Oh, well there are things that I wanted to make sure the new building had."
"Don't worry. I've got it covered." Jean's smile was a little fake now.
"Okay then." He sighed, but his eyes still lingered on Jean. As he left Kim watched him for a moment, and then turned her eyes to the other woman.
"Not even divorced yet." Jean told her and Kim turned to see the tall man walk up to a blonde woman and stand just a little too close. It filled in the rest of the story and explained why the excitement at the project had faded from Jean's eyes. Kim couldn't even imagine having to continue to work around Vicki and her new lover, which would be sickening.
"So now that you've seen what I like." Jean brought the conversation back to work, even the tone of her voice shifted to be more like it had been but it still didn't match. "What's next?"
"Normally I'd show you samples I thought you might like, but my samples are all of houses." Kim grimaced. "I do have the keys to my dad's house; we could look at his if I can find them."
"I'd rather see yours." Jean told her and Kim felt warmed by the interest, another thing she didn't normally feel with her clients. "Do you have them?" Kim hadn't brought them and she probably should have. She wasn't used to working with clients on her own like this and usually these meetings happened in her office at the firm. She couldn't really take Jean there.
"This is your house." Jean spoke quietly as Kim drove up to the garage, and it held a definite note of approval. Kim blushed a little.
"I designed it. Did a lot of the work building it too." Kim didn't add that she might very well lose it.
"Looks like your dad's love of natural light was passed down." Jean smiled as she looked at the large windows that looked out onto the front yard.
"Maybe a little." Kim put the car in park in the driveway and moved to get out. "Would you like a tour?" Kim asked as Jean slipped out of the car so gracefully. Kim spent the first few moments in the house showing Jean around. The house was actually large for the two people who'd lived in it, but portions of the house were for work.
"You live alone?" Jean asked softly as they walked past the empty bedroom that had been Vicki's office. Vicki hadn't worked from home but they had the space because Kim had built for the future they never had.
"I do now." Kim sighed and opened the door to her own office, letting Jean precede her into it. Jean had a sympathetic expression on her face and Kim normally hated to talk about this, but Jean was in the same boat. "Vicki moved out two months ago, right into her lover's apartment. Someone she met at work, all those nights I thought she had to work late she wasn't working."
"I'm sorry." Jean sat down at the table.
"Yeah, well," There was nothing she could say to that so Kim moved to pick up a binder. "I took pictures of the houses I've worked on. Take a peek and if you see something you like pull it out. I'll see if I can find a few other samples for you. Something more the right size." Kim moved to sit at her computer and logged on.
The site was cleared. Kim looked at it as she drove up and was impressed with how quickly these people worked. Not even one week and it looked like the start of a project not a ruin. She had the draft for the new building in the backseat ready for approval or adjustments and it looked like as soon as they did have a working plan construction could start.
Kim found a large group of people around the back, and the tent city had shrunk just a little. "Kim." Jean's voice drew Kim's attention around to see the redhead walking her way with a smile on her face. It sure made her feel welcome. "You're a little early." Jean said as she got closer. "I would have met you at the car."
"Well, I managed to sneak out of work a little early." Kim blushed a little. She'd had to go in and meet with clients today, do the monthly meetings, and when her coworkers saw her rushing to leave at the end of the day they'd teased about a hot date, if only that had been the case.
"So you've got the plans?" Jean glanced at the tube of plans Kim was holding, a hint of excitement in her voice. It made Kim smile to see Jean seemed to enjoy this as much as Kim did.
"Yep, all done." Kim noticed Jean's jaw clench and turned to look behind her to see that blonde leaning in to whisper into Jean's ex's ear seductively. Kim stared for a moment, before turning to see Jean's clenched fists. She didn't even know that man, but she didn't like him or his kind. People that didn't respect a relationship like that, betrayed like that, no Kim was firmly on Jean's side. She didn't need to know the stories, there were always stories weren't there? Vicki had reasons, had listed them, but it was just selfish disregard for anyone else's feelings. How much would it cost to end a relationship the right way, out of respect for the love that had once been there? Jean didn't deserve to have this rubbed in her face every day. "Where would you like to work?" Kim noticed her voice had softened a bit too much in her sympathy and tried to cover that up with her next words. "I'm hoping that you like what I have, but if not I can still make adjustments."
Jean hesitated just a moment, "Can we work at your house?" Kim was surprised by the suggestion and she knew it showed, because Jean looked like she regretted asking.
"Sure we could. Maybe we could pick up some Chinese take out on the way." Kim offered once she realized that Jean just needed a break from these ruins, and it wasn't just the building.
"That sounds great. I'm so tired of hamburgers." Jean reached out and took Kim's hand. "First though, you need to see all the work we did for you." Jean started to walk toward where the old building used to be and Kim was gently tugged into following along, an amused smile started to form on Kim's face at being lead around like a child. "We just finished clearing out the site, there are still piles of ruined walls and such in the back." Jean spoke as they walked up to the cleaned area.
"You all move fast." Kim gave her praise to Jean. "I think that we should be able to start up construction soon. It will still be a big push to finish by the start of school though."
"We can do it. We're more experienced at rebuilding this place than you realize. You don't really have a rookie team." Jean assured her, then her voice softened and became quieter. "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Sure." Kim turned away from looking at the space to look at Jean, who looked both sympathetic and a little lost. The expression made it clear what the question was going to be.
"How long were you and Vicki together?"
"Six years. We met in college at Metro. I had just started my Junior year in the Architecture program and she was just starting her Medical program." Kim sighed as she remembered how it had been in the beginning, working so hard to spend time together in spite of all the homework and jobs.
"I went to Metro." Jean interrupted softly. Kim smiled at the redhead, knowing that if she'd seen Jean on campus she might have remembered it. It was a rather large school, they could have both been there together for years and still never ran into each other. "So what happened?" That was a hard question, and one that Kim had only recently stopped asking herself. Jean knew the very basics already so she was asking for details. "You don't have to answer that."
"No," Kim understood Jean's need to hear it. It wasn't like others who asked out of mere curiosity. "She'd started coming home later and later, claiming there was a lot of work to do. She's a coroner for the police and we never went into detail about her work because of that, so I just assumed something really bad was going on. The police frown on details on cases being talked about outside, so I was used to being kept in the dark. It dragged on for months and she was always too tired or too busy to make love. You'd think I would have caught on then."
"No, you trusted your lover. People should be able to trust." Jean's voice held a little anger. "It had been months for Scott and I as well. I'm a telepath and I didn't know, when I asked him upfront he lied and I believed him. I was giving him his space to recover from something that had happened to him and he used it to cheat."
Kim wanted to ask what he had been recovering from that would need space, but she didn't. These were Xmen, and she knew that, so it could be anything and most likely wasn't pleasant. "Let's go to my place." Kim glanced toward her car. Privacy would be good and while no one was here with them now, she'd already seen how people seek Jean out. "We can talk there." Kim made it clear she was willing to continue this. It hurt, but at least this pain served a purpose.
As they got into the car Jean's soft voice said something Kim didn't agree with. "At least you don't have to go through a divorce. To try and split up the assets as if our lives together were just a business deal."
"No, I'm going through that as well. Our marriage may not have been legal, but the other things we did to build a life together were. Vicki wants her money out of my house, wants to me sell it. I've been spending every last dime I have for a few months just trying to make the mortgage, because it's now twice what I'd paid before and while she says she wants half the profits, she doesn't think she should continue to pay. She's not living there." Kim gripped her steering wheel tightly. "I'm losing my home. I can't make enough to buy her out and I can't continue to make the payments. My savings won't last forever like this. I know I should just put it up for sale, before I lose all my savings, but I just can't." She started up the car. "I built that thing, planned it for years to make it perfect, just what I'd always wanted. I don't want to move."
"Oh," Jean reached out and rested a hand over Kim's for a moment. "I'm sorry I assumed it might be easier."
"You didn't know." Kim sighed, but how many people thought same sex couples could just split up with less pain and turmoil? Was it because they figured gays didn't have real relationships?
"No, it was insensitive of me and I'm sorry." Jean let go as Kim started to drive. "You're house is very important to you. I haven't really had a home like that. I've lived at the mansion off and on ever since I was a teenager, but it isn't mine. This is the first time I've ever really had a say in what it will look like."
"It makes it mean more." Kim took the change of subject easily. "Planning and creating something makes it mean a lot more."
"It's a rather large house." Jean made the statement a question and Kim sighed heavily as they passed the mansion gates and got onto the main road.
"Vicki wanted children once we had our careers settled. The plan was to start in another two years." Kim remembered the discussions and while she wasn't one to eagerly want kids, she wasn't willing to deny Vicki that. It had cost a lot more to build large enough for a family of four and they'd turned two extra bedrooms into an office for Vicki and a shop for Kim to make her models of the houses. "At least we hadn't started that yet. I never thought I'd say this, but I could see her just taking the kids away and never looking back."
"Were you planning to adopt?"
"Vicki was going to be artificially inseminated. We decided it would be better for her to, because," Kim glanced at Jean with an apology in her eyes, "she didn't have a mutant in the family. My brother's mutation wasn't just telepathy and I couldn't go through that again with a child. It hurt enough with him. I probably carry the mutant gene, any child I have might be…" Her attention returned to the road, worried she'd insulted Jean. "It isn't that I don't want a mutant child, just that I don't want a child with my brother's mutation. I've done research and there are often similarities in mutations among family, not always, but often enough. He's just maybe six or seven inches tall, and if it weren't for the Professor he would have kept shrinking until he was gone."
"Really? I don't believe I ever met him." Jean sounded thoughtful.
"It was a while ago." Kim noticed her favorite take out place and pulled her car into position to turn in. "We were fourteen when he started shrinking. It took us a while to realize what was happening to him and then we spent a lot of time taking him from doctor to doctor for some hint of help. He took so many different drugs, he was refused service at so many different places, and I couldn't do anything." Kim turned when the traffic cleared and pulled into a parking spot without moving to get out. "It was hell and when the Professor called my parents were desperate enough to trust a man they'd never met. Jason left while I was at school, and he was just over two feet tall when he left. We had hoped that the Professor could help him get his size back, but it wasn't reversible and by the time they stopped it he was so small."
"That must have been very hard for all of you."
"It was." Kim opened the door but didn't get out right away. "I don't want you to think I spill all my problems with all my clients." She had just realized how personal the talk was and that she never ever let herself talk like that with the people she worked with.
"No, I doubt you are able to talk about anything too personal very often." Jean said as the redhead got out. "I really like the chow mein here." When they were walking up to the door Jean rested a hand on Kim's arm and spoke quietly. "Don't worry about being unprofessional with friends Kim, you don't need to be."
Jean did feel like a friend and it was nice to hear the woman confirm it. Kim blushed just a little and held the door opened for the redhead.