John had never liked awkward silences, but sometimes the pauses are promising. Kyro one-shot. Companion to Long, Slow Seconds, but stands alone.

Timeframe: Post-X3

Archive: In the unlikely event that someone would actually want to archive this – ask and I'll say yes. Just let me know where it's going.

Disclaimer: All things recognisably X-Men are obviously not mine. I just like making up my own stories.

A/N: I wrote this as a sort of companion/sequel of sorts to my first Kyro fic, Long, Slow Seconds, but it stands alone. I hope you all enjoy!

He woke up, and the room was familiar. Same bed, same desk, same closet, same carpet, same damn curtains. He knew his old things were long gone. It didn't bother him. He hadn't expected the X-Men to keep his clothes and books after he left. After all, he hadn't thought he would ever be back at the mansion.

It didn't surprise him when he put his hand in his pocket and found nothing there, the comfort of his old lighter gone. He was, after all, a criminal now, and the X-Men weren't stupid. He was probably supposed to be in jail right now, cured and powerless. Yet here he lay, staring up at a ceiling he used to stare up at with someone else – someone who was probably walking around in the mansion right now.

The door opened, and Bobby walked through, shutting it carefully behind him. John tensed and stood up abruptly, fists clenching automatically, ready for a fight. And then he remembered that the person standing in front of him had come back after John had tried to kill him, and carried him away from the destruction of Alcatraz. The aggressive expression on his face faded, and he tried to relax his fingers.

They simply stood looking at each other for a good minute and a half. Bobby looked tired and something that wasn't quite sad, but close to it.

"Hey man," he said finally.

"Hey." John watched him warily. Another pause followed. "Where's my lighter?" he asked, knowing that there was no way that he could get it back. He didn't really need an answer to the question – he'd just always hated awkward silences.

Bobby didn't say anything, just looked off to the side, and suddenly John felt a rush of panic.

"What, did you cure me? Gonna turn me over to the authorities?" he snarled, feeling the spark of his anger igniting once more. "Took away my lighter because I won't need it now, like some pathetic human?"

He saw his old friend's jaw tighten, and remembered seeing him at Alcatraz, searching for Rogue.

"You haven't been cured," Bobby said wearily. "And as far as the authorities are concerned, you were killed at Alcatraz." After a few seconds, he sank into the chair at the desk and asked quietly, "Why'd you leave?"

"Why'd you go back for me?" John countered, half because he didn't want to answer him (his reasons all seemed so stupid now), and half because he wanted to know.

"I don't know," Bobby replied quietly. "We were friends once."

The full stop, the finality of that pause at the end of his sentence, reminded John of how much he'd screwed up and how much he'd lost.

"I didn't want to come back for you," Bobby continued. John narrowed his eyes. He knew he didn't deserve anything better, but that didn't take the sting out of the words. "But Kitty, she…"

And at that moment, she walked through the closed door, carrying a tray of food.

She stopped when she saw Bobby, but her eyes locked onto John's. He couldn't turn away. This was the girl he'd stared up at the ceiling with, the girl he'd kissed in the dark, the girl who had loved him, the girl he'd abandoned, the girl who had found him lying defeated and broken on the rubble of Alcatraz. She was looking at him with eyes that were tired from grief and loss, and he knew that though the emotions there were from losing so many people she had respected and cared about, he was at least partially to blame.

John vaguely heard Bobby say something indistinct that sounded like "I'll leave you two alone," before turning and leaving, but he barely noticed, too caught up in wondering what to say to Kitty. Sorry wasn't enough. What he wanted to say was Why?, but he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer.

"Kitty…" He stepped towards her and raised a hand, half-reaching out to her, feeling a need to touch her. Still clutching the try, she stood still, so still he couldn't tell if she were breathing, and his hand stopped just before it reached her shoulder. He released a frustrated sigh, and ran that hand through his hair. "Kitty, I…" His voice trailed away, blending into her silence.

I'm sorry, he wanted to say. I need you. But there was enough of Pyro left in him to hate the weakness in those words. So what he said instead was "Why did you do it?"

She turned to the side, and set the tray down. She placed her palms on the desk and leaned forward, head bowed and hair falling to hide her face. When she lifted her head and looked at him, there were angry tears crawling down her cheeks.

"Do you have any idea what it was like after you left?" she hissed. He just stared, dumbstruck at the anger and grief and pain he saw on her face. "I wanted so badly for Bobby to be wrong, that sometimes I snuck in here at night, expecting you to be lying on that bed wearing the same bad-ass smirk you always wore. I packed up most of your stuff and kept it in the back of my closet, hoping that you'd come back and explain to me why you ended whatever relationship we had, and why you just turned around and abandoned all of us three days later."

"Seemed like a good idea at the time," he said, but she continued as though he hadn't spoken.

"You left. You left the X-Men, you left your friends, you left me. I know all the things you've done. I saw how much suffering you helped cause. You tried to kill Bobby, my friends, my teachers, even me. I should hate you." Her eyes were drilling painfully into his, and he wondered why she hadn't tried to hit him yet.

"I never meant to –"

"To what?" Kitty spat out angrily. "To hurt me? Don't give me that."

"What the hell do you want me to do?" he snapped. He didn't want to hear this. He knew that he'd hurt her – badly – and he knew that at least once, he'd intended to do it, for what he'd though was her own good. But he couldn't change what had already been done. "Cry? Beg? Dammit, Kitty –"

"I want you to understand," she said, moving away from the desk to stand directly in front of him, so close that he could smell her shampoo. "I want you to understand that despite everything you've done to me, I came back."

Her last three words reverberated in John's head, crashing around until they'd destroyed whatever shreds of anger were left. On the edge of the world as he had known it, when he was sure he was going to die, she had come back for him. She had saved him. And he swallowed, forced down his pride, opened his mouth and said thickly, "I'm sorry."

And he was. He was sorry for leaving her, sorry for abandoning the X-Men, sorry for hurting her, sorry for the things he'd done, sorry for everything. And most of all, he was sorry for becoming the man he'd become. What he wanted was her, but he wasn't good enough. He'd had a chance once, but now it was too late. She deserved the world, and all he could give her was pain.

She blinked up at him with those arresting eyes, the fury fading into sorrow. "So am I, John," she whispered. "So am I."

Kitty turned around and began to walk to the door, but John couldn't let her leave, not like this. One of her hands reached for the doorknob.

"Kitty, wait." He tried to grab her hand, and she phased it through – but she stopped moving, hand still outstretched. Uncertainly, he grabbed her shoulders, and when she didn't phase, he spun her around. How could he make her understand?

Leaning down so his face was close to hers, he whispered, voice cracking, "Don't give up on me."

And then her hands pulled his head down and she was kissing him, hard. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer, fitting her to him like they'd never been apart, like he hadn't broken her heart and abandoned her. And it felt right. It felt right, and John hadn't felt like this in a long time.

They broke apart for air, arms still around each other. Her face was flushed, and for the first time since she'd entered his room, she didn't look tired or grieved. They gazed at each other, the pause not awkward or painful like the others, but promising.

"I never have, John," she said. She phased herself out of his hold and walked to the door once more.

But this time she paused and looked back at him, her lips faintly curved upwards.

And John smiled.