WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

BY MADRIPOOR ROSE

Disclaimer: The X Men are the property of Marvel Entertainment, no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This is an X Men Three: The Last Stand fanfic. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've read the novelization. There are small differences as novelizations are generally written from early drafts of the script. Thus, general X3 spoilers. And stuff that could be considered spoilery for Astonishing X Men comics, which is where the cure plot came from.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Once More With Feeling. "The battle's done and we kind of won, so we sound our victory cheer...where do we go from here?"

XxXxXxXxXxX

It was raining when they returned to Alacatraz. Logan was cradling Jean's limp form, radiating a empty weariness that was painful to look at. Kitty found herself looking for Peter instead, as he stumbled and sat down on a chunk of broken concrete, resting his head in his hands. She came over to sit beside him. "How are you?"

His face was flushed when he looked up. "Feverish," he admitted. "A little dizzy."

She lay her hand along his cheek. "You're still a little warm. John tried to melt you, I saw it during the battle."

He nodded. "My armor was glowing red-hot, and I was igniting wooden debris. If Bobby hadn't... I thought I had cooled down enough to risk transforming..."

"We'd better get you out of this rain before you catch cold and I have to make you some chicken soup."

That won her a weak smile and a teasing, "is that a threat?"

She swatted his bare shoulder. "Oh very funny. Okay, so my one attempt at homemade matzoh balls had the texture of spackling compound. At least the kitchen ceiling didn't have to be repainted, or have you forgotten about the Great Pickled Beet Incident?"

"We both failed Home Ec. I still think Tabitha or Remy was playing a prank on me," he said with great dignity. "Root vegetables do not usually explode."

Kitty leaned up and kissed him. Peter's eyes widened, and then he closed them and returned the kiss with eager delight.

They'd been an item once, and after they'd broken up, she'd spent a sabbatical year abroad getting over it. Problem was, he hadn't. And Peter had regretted breaking up with her almost from the moment the words 'I met someone' left his mouth.

He pulled back after a long moment, and licked his upper lip, looking at her with hopeful confusion. "I thought you and Bobby?" he asked softly.

She shook her head. "He and Rogue were going through a rough time, and he needed a friend. She wants to take the cure, Pete. And Bobby's worried that she's doing it for the wrong reasons."

"Ah," he still looked at her, inquiringly.

She reached up again, to wipe away raindrops drizzling down his cheeks like tears. "John nearly killed you. Suddenly, making out with Zsa Zsa while I was at the Massachusetts Academy on that sister-school exchange program didn't seem that important any more. I miss you, Peter. I want to try again."

"I was a fool," he breathed. He'd cheated on her with the Hungarian born healer who had come from the Massachusetts Academy in her place, and confessed out of guilt afterward. Breaking up with her because she deserved better.

"You were a horny teenage boy with a younger girlfriend who didn't put out, who you hadn't even seen for a year, counting summer vacation, and she was a slut who wanted you and was willing to let you touch her boobs," she corrected him bluntly. "I did kiss Bobby. Even though I'm friends with both him and Rogue. I could have been the Other Woman if we were more confused about what we wanted." She sighed. "Love is hard, Peter. We're just teenagers. We're supposed to make our stupid mistakes now, so we can learn from them."

Without a word, they both looked over to where Logan still knelt beside Jean's body. And the empty place where Scott should have been.

They kissed again, very softly, and they got up to go help with damage control.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Subj: Golden Gate Gone

From: Snowflake at Cyberia dotnet

To: Nekochan at Xaviers dotcom, NotTheIronGiant at Xaviersdotcom

Hey guys, your first mission made the news over here, with the destruction of national monuments and everything. Call home, Petya. Mama and Papa are freaking. Are you okay? Is the school closing? Are you coming home? Better give us some warning if you are. Mama will want to cook all your favorite foods, and I kinda have some stuff stored in your bedroom.

I hope the school isn't closing, I know you both love it there. And I was looking forward to seeing the place and meeting Kitty when I come visit next month. I guess that's off if the school closes.

Gee, rereading this makes me sound like a selfish brat. I'm sorry about your teachers dying, and Doctor Grey going all evil and everything, I know you both liked her. Just...write back, okay? We're worried about both of you. I'm worried.

Illyana.

Kitty hit reply, and typed, "We're fine, the school isn't closing. You know your brother never checks email, he only uses his computer for Photoshop. I'll thwack him and tell him to call. We're dating again."

Kitty shifted her laptop into a slightly more comfortable position, and finished up the letter to her email penpal. She'd started writing to Peter's kid sister back in Siberia when they'd first started dating. She was the same age as Illyana, and it was a good way to practice her Russian and Illyana's English.

Their friendship survived the breakup and Illyana had supplied her with vile things to call Peter under her breath.

Kitty surfed a little, looking for fanfic. They had a free day...more like a free week while everything got settled. There had been another service in the Memorial Garden, and now the teachers...Ororo Munroe, and Kurt Wagner, were in the Professor's office with lawyers, and Angel's father. Doing something formal about keeping the school open. Doctor McCoy was in there too, and there were rumors that the Beast was going to resign his position and stay.

Logan took off again, and this time Rogue wasn't sure he was coming back.

He'd taken the train. Not Scott's bike.

Kitty smiled as Peter came outside, looking for her. He had car keys in his hand, tossing them lightly and catching them again. "Would you like to go into town? Maybe dinner and a movie?"

They were taking it slow. It was weird...with all this history. But they were dating like they had just met. Talking a lot. Kitty had been forced to admit their first go-round had more problems than her absence and the Hungarian Harlot...Peter'd had some self-doubts about their differences. Age, culture, intelligence. He wasn't a dumb jock but Kitty'd teased him too much about being...more right-brained.

She'd inadvertently convinced him that she'd be better off with another computer geek instead of a big dumb farmboy who couldn't do math in his head.

Peter had never said anything about nicknames like dunce and how it made him feel. They'd promised to work on communication better this time.

So they'd been spending more time talking than kissing.

"Call your parents. And check email more often, would'ja? Yana's spamming you."

He winced. "I forgot. We were on international news...Mama and Papa saw?"

"Yep. And they want to know if the school's closing. Tell 'em Miss Munroe's taking over as Headmistress."

"I will. Did you tell Illyana that we're back together?"

She grinned. "Can I resist a little long distance girl talk?"

"She will crow. And give me advice, and threaten my childhood possessions if I do not make you happy," he grumbled.

Kitty just grinned again. Noone would believe the gruff, buff, intimidating Russian still had a stuffed tiger named Pasha. It guarded his bed back at the farmhouse in Siberia.

"It's early there, but I won't wait. After I talk to my parents, would you like to go out?"

"Sure."

Peter went back inside, and Kitty stretched her legs out on the steps, squinting up at the sun. She did a quick check for the weather forecast, and local theater listings, looking for a good bad action movie where they could ignore what passed for a plot and neck a little between explosions, chase scenes, and cool special effects.

She shut down the computer, and followed Peter inside, to get ready for their date.

The time they had spent apart, growing up more, had changed things. The age difference between them was only a few years, but now it meant that Peter wasn't a boy, he was a young man. Always well built, he'd put on a solid layer of muscular bulk that her eyes registered with pure physical approval. It was also in the way he carried himself, and the way he thought. He'd matured.

And when their reestablished relationship reached an intimate level again, he was going to want to do more than the light petting they'd shyly begun exploring the first time around.

Kitty wasn't sure how she felt about that.

On a purely physical level, well...to quote Holly Hunter in Always, Peter was all polished steel and sex appeal.

On an emotional level...she wasn't ready. Being together again was too new, too fragile, to really be worrying about it anyway.

In the hall, she met Rogue, coming out of her room with a suitcase. She was wearing a new spaghetti-strapped sundress, and no gloves.

Kitty stopped. "Are you leaving?"

Rogue smiled. "I'm going home to visit. I just ran off when Cody...I need to see my parents, and his parents...and face it. Then I'm coming back. They're talking about taking non-mutant students, experimenting with an integrated school. Miz Munroe wants me to be a kind of liaison."

"That's cool."

Rogue pushed her hair back. "So...you and Pete, huh?"

Kitty shrugged. "Me and Pete. You and Bobby?"

Rogue's turn to shrug. "He's happy we can make out, and he feels guilty that I changed my dna so we can make out. Boy's gonna have a nervous breakdown."

They both giggled at that, and then Rogue grew serious. "I know the cure isn't for everyone, and it's going to be a real issue...but it was right for me. Ya think he'll ever see that?"

"He will. He's a good guy. He was just...make sure he understands that you chose this for you, not for him, y'know?"

"I know. Thanks Kit. I better go see if my cab's here."

"Hope everything goes okay on your trip home."

"I'll send y'all postcards."

XxXxXxXxXxX

Bobby Drake faced a simulated Pyro across the rubble-cluttered floor of the Danger Room. He forced an ice-up, and began the program. Maybe it was cheating, with the safety features he knew he couldn't get hurt, but he could still be beaten.

It was a standard program. Ducking, running, leaping, throwing blasts of sub-zero cold and icicle spikes.

He was distracted, at first, thinking of Rogue and what she was going home to face. He'd offered to go with her, but she figured she needed to deal with running away and nearly killing Cody herself. She'd promised to introduce him to her parents later, though.

He was trying not to think about the fact that she'd nearly killed a boy, and her parents were welcoming her home.

He hadn't heard from his own parents since after Stryker's raid. They screened calls, and his letters returned unopened. Hell...maybe they'd moved after Pyro trashed the place.

In the end, he was victorious, and stood over the defeated figure of Pyro. "I win, you lose." he told him. Thinking of the real Pyro, in jail somewhere.

He shut down the program, and went to the locker room, tired but energized, and ready to peel out of the sweaty leather and take a hot shower.

The backdrop of the playing field faded. The simulacrum of Pyro remained.

"You win. I lose."

"I."

"I."

"I fight...therefore...I am..."

The simulacrum shifted. Pyro. Magneto. Sabretooth. Toad. Mystique. Soldier. Sentinel.

A bland-featured, androgynous figure made of light, avatar of the artificial intelligence who had just lept the Turing barrier.

Danger laughed, and dove back into the datawell, reading-living-experiencing the training sessions of every X Man who had ever entered the Danger Room.

"Next time...I win!"

XxXxXxXxXxX

In her jail cell, Raven Darkholme tugged fussily at the sleeve of her orange prison coveralls, waiting for the block's turn out in the yard. She wasn't used to cloth covering her skin, it itched and annoyed her.

She stared for a long moment at the patch of her wrist blotched the same orange...and Mystique smiled.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Moira watched, disapproving, as she went through the set of physical therapy exercises with her new patient.

They'd had the argument a thousand times since his arrival, and she knew there was no point in starting it again.

He was adamant that they could carry on without him...that it was the point of teaching, to get the student to surpass the teacher. And that he wasn't sure this would work, that they had been through enough pain.

Instead, Moira made a list of the equipment she would need to force the atrophied muscles of a coma patient back to health.

Charles wriggled his new toes.

The End