The Difference Between

Chapter XV : Between Us

During the semester, she had walked the grounds at night to clear her head or stargaze. Kitty's favorite spot had always been under the overgrown weeping willow. Hidden behind and under the branches she had always felt secluded and at peace. But now she was curled up against the tree and sobbing, feeling utterly wretched and abandoned under a night sky that felt suffocating instead of freeing.

What did I do to deserve this? Kitty didn't understand anything that had happened to her that summer. Nothing she had done had been consistent with who she was – her decisions had gotten her a wanted poster, a destroyed car that wasn't hers, angry parents, and an upset Bobby. Then, just as she began to love and trust John, he had betrayed her and broken his promise to stay. To top it all off, the divorce. What did I do to deserve this? She wondered again, wiping a cheek with her palm and hating herself for breaking down that way.

The sound of the willow's branches rustling startled Kitty, and she wiped her palm on her pajama bottoms, ashamed to be seen crying.

"Hey."

She timidly looked up into the familiar face of John, and he gave her a small, sad smile as he sat beside her, pulling her into an unexpected, warm embrace. Kitty's arms automatically went around him, embracing him tightly as she cried softly. It was insane, considering John himself had abandoned her earlier that day, but she needed comfort, and she wanted it from him.

"My parents…" she whispered, trying to find the words to explain how her world was crumbling.

"I know," he said, his tone touched with understanding. She felt his hand again her back, holding her steady even as she offhandedly wondered when he had become this way. "I saw."

She drew back, her fingers still gripping his shirt mournfully. She wasn't sure why, but his behavior scared her - searching his eyes for an answer, she felt herself once again lost in his eyes and touch, and it terrified her.

"It'll be okay," he said kindly, and Kitty drew back as if stung by the words, hugging her arms to herself and regarding him with a shaking head and frightened eyes.

"Right, John. Everything has fallen apart. People have died, gotten hurt! The world is going to shit and I'm going with it." She paused, calming herself down, her eyes searching the space in front of her. "I want to trust you so bad… but I can't."

Pyro would have not understood – but John did, and he ran a hand through his hair out of frustration with himself and the situation. He really couldn't blame her for being afraid of him in the sense that he would turn and leave her at any given minute. He really couldn't blame her for doing the exact same thing he always did – back away when open arms were there. He could only blame his stupid, stupid self. He stood and slammed an open palm against the tree. "Fuck! All I can do is make mistakes!"

Kitty looked at him wide-eyed from her sitting position. In a million years, he never thought the sight of a small girl with teary eyes in pink Hello Kitty pajamas would affect him so much. He sank back down dejectedly, his turn to be too ashamed to meet her gaze. "God…" he said, burying his head in his hands. "My biggest mistake is this. Hurting you." He looked at her morosely, chancing everything for a look into her eyes.

"John, I know people make mistakes," she said softly, slowly, her gaze as hesitant as his. "I don't want to make another and be angry at you."

She gave him a small smile and his mouth automatically mirrored the smile. She shifted, slowly, leaning against him once more, settling back into the place where she felt the safest. Their collective tension slowly ebbed off, and John's arms encircled her once more. God, if everything could always be this way.

It was several moments before she spoke again – several soft, hazy moments when the world felt all right and problems seemed to float by unnoticed and unimportant.

"Listen… I need to know. Do I… is this… I mean…" she halted and sighed, a soft sound tinged with self-frustration.

"Just say it," John said after she fell silent.

Kitty drew back to look him in the eye seriously. He could still see the flicker of fear in her eyes, and it made him slightly nervous. She bit her lip hesitantly. "What do I mean to you?"

He didn't have to think about it very long because he already had. She had been the core his thoughts revolved around ever since the moment their fingertips had touched through the glass separating them in that prison. He didn't have to think about it because he knew what she meant to him. As crazy as it was, as hard as it was to admit it to himself, he didn't want it any other way. He shrugged, letting a self-conscious smile slip as the answer left his lips. "Everything."

She was taken aback by his answer and it was written all over her face – for a split second, John was frightened and wondered if he had been wrong to tell her that. Panicking, he said the first thing that popped into his head.

"Do you like vanilla or chocolate better?" It was a simple enough question, but it was so off-topic at the time that Kitty's face became even more taken aback. She blinked a couple of times before a slightly amused expression appeared on her face. "Huh?"

"It's just… a dumb question." John managed, feeling his ears burn uncomfortably. He tried to think of a way to explain why he had asked her that. "I guess there aren't many things that I know about you."

She looked at him carefully, and he got the feeling she understood perfectly, and the unfamiliar feeling of embarrassment faded as she spoke. "Yeah. And there are a lot of things that I don't know about you."

The curiosity in her voice made him look at her more closely. "You want know about me?" It was a stupid desire, but he wanted her to want to know him.

She gave him one of her hesitant smiles. "More than you'd believe." Something changed in her face, and he could almost see her mind switching tracks, and she gave a weary, upset sigh. "My parents getting divorced is like… unreal."

"My parents probably divorced awhile ago," John said bitterly. He hated thinking about his parents because he missed them and detested them so much at the same time. "My mom… I found out that she's living in Virginia."

"We should go see her." John looked at her quizzically, but she was serious. "What else do I have to do with the rest of my summer? Let's just steal a car and go." She giggled slightly in her reference to her past experience with stealing cars, but grew somber once more. "I really can't be with my parents right now."

He placed his hand over hers. He completely understood, but he didn't know what his place in her life was. "I don't know if I belong here."

He expected her to go ape-shit on him and try to convince him why he did need to stay and why he did belong, but she just shrugged. "Me either."

"Let's just run away," she said, half like she was talking to herself. John then realized how similar he and Kitty were – and how she could run away from her problems just as easily as he had – but it would be a mistake, and he didn't want her to regret things like he had.

"No. You need to stand up to your problems." He gave her a little smile, a playful punch to the arm. "I'll be right beside you while you do."

She looked at him with a shy smile on her face. The way she looked at him was beautifully unnerving. "Vanilla."

It was John's turn to be confused. "Huh?"

She laughed softly, a sound he could get very used to. "I like vanilla better than chocolate, but I like chocolate a lot, too." She paused, looking thoughtful. "Actually, I'm not sure if I do like vanilla better than chocolate… I guess it depends on…" she trailed off, shaking her head in self-amusement.

John brushed a stray strand of hair out of her eyes, a very amused smile on his face. "Looks like I have a lot to learn."

She looked at him intently, and suddenly, her hands were holding his face and she was pulling him to her and kissing him crazily, in a way that John could never imagine Kitty kissing anyone. Even as he kissed her back urgently, trying to pull her as close as possible, he wondered where she had learned to kiss like that. She finally pulled back, leaving them both breathless and slightly dizzy.

And then she changed his life.

"I love you."

John literally felt his heart skip a beat, and he shook his head, suddenly feeling sick and weak. "You… you shouldn't."

Her hands still held his face, her eyes held his gaze. Her voice was soft. "Why not?"

Bobby's voice echoed through his head, a constant reminder of how unfit John was for Kitty.

She sure as hell doesn't need you.

John looked at Kitty earnestly, and it was hard. "I'm not good enough."

She sighed, somewhat exasperated. "It's not about being perfect, John. You're real. There's just something here between us." She still held his face, but now her thumbs gently traced a circle against his cheeks. He felt drunk on her presence, and he was hanging on every word that she said. "Can't you feel it?" She asked, and he resisted the urge to kiss that little mouth again. "The difference between us gets smaller everyday."

He stared at her long and hard. Kitty. She was just… beyond words. And she did mean everything to him. He wasn't sure when it had happened, but he loved her, and he was okay with the fact. He knew it would be hard to admit it to her, hell, it was hard admitting it to himself – but there was a beautiful, amazing girl in his arms who wanted them to have a chance.

He felt himself smile, and that smile had the shadow of his trademark smirk. He reached up and poked her nose playfully with the tip of his finger. "You're crazy."

Kitty's hands slid from his face to around his neck, her arms resting on his shoulders. She grinned. "Mostly."

John pulled her close, closing his eyes against her shirt and sinking into the feeling of her arms. "People won't understand this."

He heard her give a huff before she answered, her breath tickling his neck. "They don't have to."

John pulled back, trying to get up enough courage to tell her what she deserved to know. She looked at him curiously; she could tell he was struggling to say something.

"I do, you know. I… I do." It wasn't the most traditional declaration of love, but Kitty understood, and she smiled that little half-smile at him. "Yes."

God. Who ever thought he'd ever be this crazy about Kitty Pryde?

She tilted her head thoughtfully, a nervous little smile on her face. "You know, we're both still wanted."

John slid a hand up to rest at the side of her face, a playful smirk on his face. "Yeah, we are. Do you like having a hardened criminal as a boyfriend?"

Kitty pulled an over-dramatically thoughtful face that made John laugh – it was a deep, rich laugh, and she knew she was going to work on making him laugh more often.

She answered his question honestly, even as she grinned like a schoolgirl. "As long as he's you."

He smiled up at her, and somehow, in that moment, she knew it was all going to turn out all right.

---- x ----

Some stories don't have a definite ending, and this is one of them.

Kitty and John's wanted status slowly faded away into a bad memory, but Kitty was always a little jumpy around authorities after that. Kitty and John visited his mother that summer after a lot of uncertainty and hesitance on John's part – it was awkward at first, but mother and son finally made peace and came to terms with each other. John's father had disappeared several years before, abandoning his wife much like he had abandoned John.

Mystique used the cure antidote to form her own sect of the Brotherhood. Needless to say, Magneto was not pleased. This new Brotherhood created some trouble for the X-Men as well as Magneto, but in the end it didn't seem to matter about the shape of the world: Kitty and John were happy together. It shocked some, surprised others, drew smiles from others. Some said it was doomed to fail, others just rolled their eyes. But in the long run, the two made it work.

A woman can never change a man, but Kitty didn't have to. Some people have to become bad before they can be good, and John Allerdyce was one of those people. The difference between Kitty and John became nothing, and like it had been planned from the beginning of time, the relationship just happened and played out. Of course, nothing is without its problems. The two disappeared some time after John was infected with the Legacy virus. Some say they are dead. Others just smile. They know that the two mutants are together, wherever they are… and that is enough.

The End


Author's Note: Thank you darling readers for staying along for the ride! Please leave a review to let me know how much you loved and or hated the story, LOL :D also, I hope this didn't turn out too fluffy…? Keep an eye out for my next Kyro fic!