When: Post X-3
Kitty Pryde was sick – very sick. Deliriously sick, in fact, you might go so far as to say.
It had started off as the flu, and when she refused to stay tucked up in bed when there was so much work to be done in getting the school off the ground again, it had only gotten worse. Eventually Logan had almost physically forced her to get some rest and threatened to take away her laptop if she tried to get up.
As her state of health deteriorated overnight, she forgot Logan and her laptop and the threat, and stumbled up out of bed. All she knew in her flu-addled mind was that she was boiling hot. The solution? Go outside. So she phased straight through the wall and drifted unsteadily, hardly managing to stay intangible at all, down to the ground.
John of course knew nothing of this when he found her in the park. What were the odds that he would be the one to come across her as she weaved her erratic way down the path at two o' clock in the morning on that chilly Autumn night? Likely the few others who had seen her waved her aside as another drunken teenager. Tragic.
However when John caught sight of her tripping through the corner of the bench, he did take notice.
Kitty Pryde, as in Shadowcat? Drunk as a loon, out in the park at this time of night, in what he now saw were pyjamas? It didn't add up, to say the least.
So he stood up from where he had been leant up against a tree in the shadows, hoping to get some sleep, and approached her.
"Kitty," he said slowly once he was in front of her. She stopped where she was and swayed a little, but didn't appear to see him properly.
"Kitty," he repeated and reached out cautiously to nudge her shoulder. The only immediate effect was for her to wobble and blink, eyes out of unison.
There was a moment of silence in which neither of them moved.
Then she spun suddenly on her heel, and collapsed on her knees. Though it was dark and he couldn't make much out, there came from her the distinct sounds of someone throwing up.
"God, Kitty, are you completely drunk?" he curled his lip in disgust, wondering why he was still here even looking at her. Admittedly she was the most interesting thing he had seen for some time, given that most of his days recently had been spent in the company of pigeons and stray dogs.
He heard a tiny and hopeless voice, "I'm not well."
"I'll say," not knowing quite why, he leaned down and hauled her to her feet. Her face was now almost glowing, so pale and shiny with sweat she had become. He touched her forehead tentatively, and was surprised at how feverous she was.
As if to illustrate that fact, Kitty tumbled forward and was only saved from hitting the ground hard by John's catching her by the arms. "Bloody hell, sit down you idiot," he grumbled, pointing her in the direction of the bench and offering just enough help that she didn't quite fall face-first onto it. Then he sat beside her, uncertain of how to continue.
He was not particularly eager to be there right now. Kitty looked near to the verge of being sick again. On the other hand, he was not quite such a jerk as he would feel guiltless if he left her now, hallucinating in the park in the middle of the night.
Aware that it was cold, and she was ill, he reluctantly removed his coat and slung it round her shoulders. It was about ten sizes too big, and she looked all the more pathetic and small tucked into it, but much as he disliked her he didn't really want her to die. At least not under these circumstances. That would be pretty lame.
"Are you John?" he noticed she had turned to him, and he was grateful for this brief moment of almost-lucidity.
"Yes," he said, though the name wasn't his favourite. He reckoned though that she would not currently be capable of understanding that a person could go by two names.
"I'm Kitty," she said. Her voice told him all too clearly that her throat was full of phlegm.
A little white hand emerged from the folds of his coat and went to her face, touching her hot cheeks and dry lips softly. In the weak moonlight he could make out the glisten of tears on her profile.
"I feel bad," she told him. He could imagine it was exactly the voice and tone she would have used when she was sick and about five years old. Only now her mother wasn't there to take care of her. Just a homeless pyromaniac.
"You look bad," he admitted. He had never been very good at comforting.
Kitty's shoulders were quaking beneath the enormous jacket, and he had never felt so awkward. He had never thought he would be in such a situation, sat next to Kitty in the middle of the night while she cried and coughed.
He had to take her home, but he was none too happy at the prospect of visiting the mansion. Unfortunately, setting her on the right road and hoping she made her way back alone was not really going to cut it. She would end up lost and frozen or worse, knowing the types that hung around in the city after dark.
"Let's go back to your house," he said eventually, unwilling to even pronounce, 'the institute'.
"No," she said, and he faltered as he went to stand up. "It's too far."
"What? It's only about two—"
"No. It's in Illinois."
He sighed and decided there was no use listening to anything she had to say. He held out his hand impatiently. "Come on, Casper," he said in reference to her ashen complexion. It was utterly lost on her, naturally, but she took his hand in her own little clammy paw and let him pull her up.
"Where are we going?" she asked, and winced at the pain of either the headache, the sore throat, the itchy nose – it could have been anything, John wasn't going to ask.
"Home," he said firmly, then stopped again as he realised she wasn't following though still he held her hand. Looking back he found her rocking dangerously on her feet, and once again he caught her before she crumpled on the spot. "You're a basket case, girl" he grouched, hoisting her up in a fireman's lift. "And don't go and puke all over me or I'll just dump you in the gutter."
She did not, thankfully, merely allowed her dark head to loll against his shoulder, apparently lulled by the beat of his walk. He found her to be surprisingly light for someone he knew to be stronger than she looked. Combined with the fact that she was very still in his arms, it wasn't really much trouble carrying her and quite soon they were at the mansion.
Carefully he placed her down on the porch in a sitting position, balancing her against the heavy door after sliding off his coat. He had plans to ring the doorbell and then run for it, but before he did, he hesitated. Kitty looked up at him with massive and glossy eyes. Lingering on the step, he held out his hand to her, for what reason he couldn't say. She took it straight away, and then lifted it to her flushed cheek. She knew not what she did but it was oddly endearing, especially to someone who had not been touched tenderly for as long as he could remember.
"Get well soon, Kitty," he said softly.