Author's Note: In the lj version of this I was able to link to the video of the song Kitty was singing, but I can't do that here, so please search youtube for "Down In A Rabbit Hole" by Bright Eyes

Chapter 2

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness

~Albert Schweitzer

He hated her for two reasons--one because she was an X-Men. That meant he hated her by default, hated everything she was about and stood for, even if they'd all been destroyed by now. Two, well two was a bit more complicated. Two involved the fact that he really had wanted her while they were at school, that part of him might have actually cared about her on some level. That was why he had stopped himself. She wasn't just a prisoner, she was that prisoner. The prisoner that made him pause and think about what he was doing before he did it.

Maybe in another life they could have been friends, could have been something more, but the harsh reality of their world now was that everyone was at war and no one had time to stop any care anymore. And he preferred it that way--it was so much better than a world where the Professor expected them to share their feelings and work together. John much preferred Magneto's harsh ruling to the teachers at the school.

But she had stirred something inside of him.

Looking at the simple ball of flame he had suspended over his open palm, John's eyes seemed ablazed by the fire's reflection as he focused on nothing else.

And back inside her cell, Kitty sat on the floor with her back against one of the walls, staring at the ground. She could still see their faces--the faces of her classmates and friends as they'd died. Death had a certain look to it--it was in the eyes, so empty and blank--and now it was the way she would remember most of them. It broke her heart as she tried to think back on what Bobby had been like alive and couldn't recall anything but the image of what he would have looked like as the shattered pieces of ice he'd died as.

It wasn't the loss of her power that had her so pitifully cowaring, but the loneliness that came from surviving something that no one else had. To be a lone survivor was a heavy burden to carry. She was the last one to have known them, the last one who knew what had really happened, and surviving when all of the people she had cared about were destroyed literally hurt. It wasn't guilt--Kitty knew this wasn't her fault--and it was something well beyond grief. It was as if every reason she'd ever had to smile was suddenly gone, and she was just as dead as they were, living in a shell of her former self.

Quietly, she hummed the tune of the only song she could recall at the moment. She remembered the words perfectly and couldn't help but relate to them completely. "If your thoughts should turn to death," she sung quietly, near whispering, "Gotta stomp them out like a cigarette..." So much easier said than done though when she was the only survivor. She really was Alice fallen down the rabbit hole, thrown into a world that was complete Hell compared to the world she'd once known.

"Get up," John snapped, walking into the room, and Kitty ignored him. He'd broken her depressed thoughts, but she was not about to let him order her around. Neither of them could use their powers in here, after all, which made him no better than her. "I said, get up," he commanded again, voice darker this time, holding a hint of warning.

Kitty looked up at him slowly through her bangs that had fallen in front of her eyes. Staring at him through cold eyes, she uttered one word. "No."

John stared at her for a moment, as if trying to figure out if she was serious or not. He noticed the way her shoulders were hunched over, the dark circles under her eyes that said she hadn't slept since she'd woke up there, and the lack of emotion--which once more bothered him. She was supposed to be full of defiant life. And without even realizing it, his own expression of cold anger softened ever so slightly--in the curves around his eyes and the corners of his mouth, movement so subtle he didn't even feel it.

"Come on," he said, holding his hand out as if to offer her help in standing.

"No," Kitty argued again.

"Don't you even want to know where we'd be going?" he snapped, completely annoyed with her defiance now.

"Don't really care."

"Wouldn't you like to wash the blood of your friends out of your hair?" John asked darkly, catching her eyes.

Slowly, she stood up, refusing his hand the entire time. What did she really have to lose in following him? If this was real, and she was allowed to shower, she was going to take the chance.

He reached out to grab her arm and she flinched, pulling away. He knew part of that was because of the last time he'd visited her cell, what he'd threatened and nearly done.

"Don't touch me," she hissed, looking at the floor again.

John didn't try to touch her again, just silently leading the way. And Kitty kept quiet as long as she could, but she recognized this place and it surprised her. "Is..is this the White House?" she asked. John just smirked, and that gave her, her answer. "And the President?"

"You're one of the few alive, Kitten," John reminded her in way of vague answer.

"Oh my god," Kitty commented, hand coming to cover her mouth as she realized that this was on so much of a bigger scale than just the X-Men. Who knew what Magneto was doing now that he had control one of the world's current leading governments.

John turned the corner, pausing to make sure she did as well, and while her look of horror should have made him feel better it did nothing. So once again he walked in silence until they were at the bathroom--probably one of the many the President himself used. On the counter beside the sink laid some clothes she could change into--John had just randomly grabbed whatever looked like her tiny size--and a towel.

Kitty walked into the bathroom and paused to look at her reflection. She didn't recognize the girl who looked back at her at all. Finally tearing her gaze away, she glanced back at him. "Can I shut the door?"

"No," John told her.

"If I'd wanted to run away, I could have the moment we stepped out of that cell," Kitty pointed out.

"Who would you run to?" John asked, and in that question Kitty felt completely devistated, because he was right. She had nowhere to go, no one to run to.

"Fine," Kitty muttered, turning her back to him as she unzipped the front of her X-Men uniform. Pealing that leather away from her skin tore at wounds that had healed against it, ripping open cuts that painfully began to bleed again. It was like slowly removing a bandaid that had been on a wound since it occurred. Peeling the uniform from her shoulders, she let it fall down her back, beyond caring if he watched. He was going to watch no matter what, and as a prisoner she no longer had the right to privacy, so Kitty wasn't going to let him enjoy her being embarrassed by it.

No, instead she took that uniform off and set it and her boots aside, turning back to look at him, to show him just had badly wounded that fight had left her. All those cuts and bruises that the uniform hid. There was nothing sexy about the moment as his eyes first caught sight of hers, then wandered down to look at her broken body. Kitty felt truly vulnerable, standing there, but said nothing.

"Shower," he told her, motioning towards the shower.

Kitty nodded, turning to carefully step into the shower. Turning the water on, she literally flinched and cried out when the water hit her wounds. The water made her muscles tense, made it all hurt so much more, and she found she couldn't move at all standing beneath that shower. Kitty turned to look at him, tears in her eyes mixing with the shower water that fell down her face, and she gave him a look that simply said, 'Well I hope you're enjoying this. It's what you wanted.'

John caught the look and closed and locked the door behind him, walking over towards the shower. Kitty's eyes widened with fear as he took his shoes, socks, and shirt off and pulled the curtain aside. These were all signs that he'd changed his mind after all, that he was going to do what he'd originally intended to, just to prove who was the alpha in this situation, and she was so completely broken there was nothing she could do to fight it. So what he said next surprised the hell out of her.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he assured her.

Something about the way he said it, about the way he looked at her, reminded Kitty of the John she'd once known, the John she'd gone to school with. It took her a moment, but eventually she nodded in reply.

Pulling that towel from the countertop--he could get another later--he brought it over and stepped into the shower behind her. "Just hold the fuck still so that I don't get any blood on me," he snapped, as if to remind her of who he was, that this did not mean he had changed.

Gently, so softly she barely felt it at first, he began to wash the wounds on her back that she couldn't get to. Pressing that towel against her skin, John washed away the dirt and sweat and blood that proved Kitty had fought until the very end. And as he carefully washed her skin, Kitty Pryde began to sob where she stood. He made no move to comfort her aside from what he was already doing, but with her back turned to him and she unable to see his expression, he easily wore a look of sympathy, perhaps even guilt.