This story, like Fighting Fire, is also set during John's time at the institute, before he left to join Magneto. I know this is a real cop-out on my part, but it is quite hard to bring Pyro and Kitty together in any remotely realistic situation when they're on completely different teams. And boarding schools provide so many opportunities..! But I do have a sort of vague idea for a post-X3 Kyro story in the works... it may or may not come to fruition.
In the meantime, enjoy this please:) Like I said in the summary, it should only be three chapters long, if I've planned this right.
Oh – and there are some swears in there. If John were real, let's face it, he would swear. They're mostly few and far between though.
It was eight o' clock, and a cold November evening. Outside the sky was already black, but for the ominous grey clouds that brought with them that heaviness in the air that preludes a storm.
John stood with his hands on the sill, staring out his bedroom window and contemplating the best way of escaping this boredom palace for somewhere with drink and, if he was feeling particularly insubordinate, girls.
A knock on his door distracted him. He turned his head a fraction, though kept his gaze on the night sky outside, and called, "What?"
There was no reply. He turned – and blanched with surprise – recovering adequately well and automatically placing a scowl on his face.
"I don't remember saying you could come in," he sneered at Kitty Pryde, who stood there in the middle of his room having evidently phased through the door.
"I figured you were expecting me," Kitty blinked, trying not to be fazed by his less than encouraging demeanour.
"What for?" he noticed she had a rather large and full-looking bag slung over one shoulder. However there were no shoes on her feet (only pink socks, of all stupid things) so she couldn't have been anticipating a trip anywhere.
She dropped the bag on his bed with presumption that annoyed him, even though he recognised it as of his own more prominent traits.
"Tutoring … in science … remember?"
Aside from disliking the sceptical and condescending expression she was wearing as if to call him stupid for forgetting, he was entirely dissatisfied with the situation as it stood; it all came flooding back. The stern lecture that he would have to pay more attention if he wished to pass his science modular exams at Christmas… that a tutor would really benefit him, and that there was someone in his class who had offered to help anyone who needed it…
So there she was, currently burrowing through her satchel and making a neat pile of books and bits and bobs on his bed. Infuriating.
"Which science do you want to start with?" she asked without looking up from her task of – what appeared to be – lining up the books in alphabetical order?
"The science of you getting out of here," he sighed in frustration, turning away back to his window. It was a pretty lame comeback, yes, but he couldn't be bothered to deal with her.
"I'm here to help you!" she cried, "Do you want good grades or not?"
"Honestly?" he turned and raised a cocky eyebrow at her.
"Try being honest with yourself," she frowned and crossed her arms in a school-m'am-ish way for all that she looked like a child in her cutesy pink cardigan. "This bad-boy thing doesn't fool anyone… not me, anyway. You do want good grades really, everybody does. Otherwise you'd be a fool."
It was a nice thought of hers that likely brought her much comfort during the long hours she spent poring over dreary textbooks; that everyone really yearned to achieve the way she did; that deep down everyone wanted to work hard! She clearly had not been brought up the way he had – he had figured that the first day he met her – to learn that in the real world, grades were of little import.
"You keep telling yourself that," he glared, getting tired of her. "But when it comes down to it, you don't want to be here, I don't want you to be here, so I think it'd be in everyone's best interests if you weren't here!"
She scoffed and turned back to the books, picking a particularly nasty-looking one up with a flourish. "That's too bad, cause I promised Dr Grey I would teach you, and I don't intend to let her down. So you'd better pull your grade up for both our sakes, and you won't unless you sit down and let me tutor you."
Ugh, it was bloody demeaning, the way she patronised him. And it was downright humiliating, accepting a short, annoying girl a few years his junior as an authority figure.
"We'll do some physics tonight!" she smiled at him. "That should ease us in nicely."
In John's experience, physics eased you into nothing other than an early grave. But she had already plumped down on his bed, opened the book on her lap and gestured to his desk chair opposite. Reluctantly he sat down, figuring he could get this over with by nine and maybe still salvage the rest of his evening.
"What physics module are you doing this semester anyway?" she asked, flicking through the noticeably well-thumbed pages of her book.
"How should I know?" he muttered.
Kitty looked up at him with a crease between her little eyebrows. "What? You don't even know what you're studying?"
He twitched his lip at her moodily in response, slouching slightly further down in his chair.
Kitty gritted her teeth. "Look John, if you cooperate this will all go by much faster!"
He knew this to be likely true, but he was loathe to go down without a fight. "It'll go even faster if you scuttle on out of here."
"Well I'm afraid that's just not going to happen," she glared, "Now tell me – was it the solar system?"
She was met with a petulant silence.
"Yes, yeah, it was that one," he replied, striking on the first thing she said that sounded familiar, however unattractive the prospect of studying electromagnetism appeared.
"Ah," she slid the book off of her, shutting it again, and he caught the title: Advanced Astrophysics. Just the sound of it elicited a small grimace, and he decided that Kitty had just confirmed his opinion of her as an extraordinary nerd.
She picked up another less intimidating sort of book (at least this one had pictures) and flipped it open. "You know what magnetism is, yes?"
"I'm not a fucking idiot," he snapped, although it was quite possible his definition of magnetism differed from her own.
Clearly she wasn't taking anything for granted. "Magnetism is the process of things attracting or repulsing other things, with magnetic forces."
"I know," he hissed. She ignored him.
"It occurs due to the movement of electrical charge."
She had lost him there. But he wasn't about to say so.
"You'll probably need to know the Biot-Savart law for this – magnetism is found where charged particles are moving. Electromagnetism is where you have electrons in a current, or you can have them in a quantum-mechanical spin and orbital motion, and then you get permanent—"
She was obviously engrossed by this point, but must have looked up and caught the totally uncomprehending look on his face, because she stopped abruptly and went a bit red in the cheeks.
"Oh – I'm sorry! Was I going too fast?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Oh, look – take a look at this." She stood up and brought the book over to him, placing it on the desk and pointing at a colourful diagram of… god knows what.
"What am I looking at?" he rolled his eyes in a fashion most likely unconvincing, even to the not-overly-perceptible Kitty. But he was determined to keep up the image of not caring.
"It's a magnet – a bar magnet. And these lines – it's an experiment you can do, with iron filings. The filings are attracted and repelled, and they move to show you what the magnetic lines of force in a field look like."
He gave her another 'look'.
"Oh – sorry…"
"Oh my goodness!" Kitty leapt up off the bed and began scooping the various pencils and pages of doodles and calculations back into her bag.
"What are you doing?" John frowned, looking up from where he had been taking notes from her dictation – something he didn't remember having ever done with anyone else before, but he had always liked writing and found he was quick enough to be pretty good at this sort of thing.
"It's after eleven already!" she stared in disbelief at the clock on his bedside table flashing 11:48.
He blinked, genuinely surprised. It wasn't that time had flown, exactly. Now that he thought about it, it felt as though he had been listening to Kitty for a whole day. Simply, he hadn't been aware of time passing… at the time.
When he didn't move, Kitty cocked her head at him and reiterated, "We have classes tomorrow. And it's very late."
"Yeah, I guess," he answered, and was immediately surprised at himself. He glanced down at the page on his desk:
Force electric charge of particle x velocity vector x magnetic field
Cross product force perpendicular to motion of particle and field
What the hell was that? He blinked at it, briefly disoriented. It wasn't even Kitty's handwriting, neat and small and loopy, occasionally even with i's dotted with hearts. It was his own, and he realised that he hadn't worked as hard as he had in the past few hours for a very long time.
It had gotten off to a shaky start. Kitty had the tendency to get run away with when she became too absorbed in the physics that she apparently considered to be a most glorious thing. Several times he had had to stop her and ask her to back up and explain herself.
And of course, for a while he had been very averse to this that basically meant admitting he wasn't keeping up. But he had discovered, after the first few times he had essentially yelled at her to slow down, that she was too embarrassed at herself to be impatient with him.
And somehow, between her overexcitement and his unwillingness, they had settled on a dynamic that allowed him to take in knowledge and, remarkably, retain it. It didn't matter that Kitty's voice was too high-pitched and that she really was an insufferable bookworm.
At some point Kitty had produced from her bag a bottle of mountain dew – "School fuel!" she had cheerily called it as she took a swig. And it had annoyed him (was this sugar-sweet kid for real?) but he had downed half of it anyway. It had definitely propelled him on. Physics required a hell of a lot of energy, even if the topic was electromagnetism. And he had realised as he sat there, listening to her talk about monopoles and cosmology (though thankfully not in the same sentence) that he had ended up with drink and a girl after all. Just not in quite the sense anticipated.
He stood up and stretched in the most laid-back way possible, then continued to watch her pack away her things without offering to help. Even if he decided he was good at physics… it didn't mean he had to go all… like Kitty Pryde. Speaking of which –
"Bye John! You know, I was really pleasantly surprised tonight. I knew you could learn it if you applied yourself!"
She turned towards him, her hair not quite as combed down as it had been on her arrival, her books spilling out of her bag and her beaming smile criminally wide, bright and naïve.
"Good night! I'll see you tomorrow for Chemistry!" and with that she phased through the wall, leaving a strange silence in her wake.
John turned slowly to look out the window again. Most of the clouds had cleared, and a white waxing moon was visible over the skyline of the buildings in the distance, all twinkling with their tiny orange lights. He leant his forehead on the cool glass and thought that, even if he hadn't exactly been attracted by Kitty and her science tonight, he certainly hadn't been repelled either.
Not much (read: any) fluff yet, but two more chapters yet! Chemistry and Biology! I lurve me some science.