Author's Note of Thanks: As the different pointed out, I only have about 6 readers for this story. So, since the one review I got from the different made my day, I am posting the final chapter. Thank you to those of you who have been reading and supporting this fic. It has been great. I hope I have the time/inspiration to complete another soon! Neveada
Chapter Four: So Much for My Happy Ending
Katherine Pryde sat at the wooden desk in the corner. None of the furniture in the room had changed since she had last been present. Other then the thick film of dust that layered the counter top, the desk looked to be in rather good condition. She scanned the bedroom seeing each tiny detail from the smallest crack in the floor to the hole in the ceiling. She breathed in the scent of the old home. She could still feel him. In this place, nearly a decade after their final encounter, he still haunted her.
Lockheed, oblivious to her spur of nostalgia, was content lying on the bed, curled up like a cat. Rogue had often remarked to Kitty how much like her namesake her pet was. "Ah swear, that thing sleeps more than any other creature on this earth," she had said one afternoon as the two sat outside on the Institute steps. They had just finished a training session and had opted to get some fresh air. Lockheed was sleeping next to Kitty, lying in the shade of the columns.
Watching him rest now, she had to agree with her friend. It was times like this that made her think Lockheed had to be a cat instead of a dragon. His tongue flickered in and out of his mouth, making a small flapping sound each time it protruded from his open jaw. She smiled. He was her dearest companion. Cute but fierce, he was perfect for travel and loyal to the point she often wondered if he thought she was his mother.
Kitty sighed, surveying the room once again. What am I doing here? she pondered as her fingernails drilled against the desk. Her purpose was about as easy to identify as Wolverine's age. She had a few theories, but she wasn't ready to explore them yet.
She had only mentioned Lance a handful of times in the past ten years. The only person she would talk about him to was Rogue. Her roommate had been supportive all through their relationship. She had come to terms with Lance's position with the Brotherhood and Kitty's feelings for him. She had never once said that Kitty would be better off without him, and even though she complained that Kitty talked to him on the phone too often, she had always said it with a smile.
There had been a time right after their separation when Logan had tried to comfort her. She had never told him anything of consequence, even though she knew she could trust him. She hadn't wanted to. He had understood. He had always understood. "There are some things that you have to keep to yourself, Half-Pint. I think, for you, Avalanche...Lance...is one of them. After all, you were the only one who understood him." No one else would have offered her closure like he had.
While the rest of the Institute pestered her about how wrong Lance had been for her, Logan and Rouge spared her the humiliation. She had never been more grateful to the two of them.
Colossus did not know much about Lance. He knew Kitty and Avalanche had dated briefly in high school but he did not know the extent of their relationship, or the reason it had ended. She had been prepared to tell him, but then they had broken up and she had gone off to London to join the Excalibur team. While there, she had had a meaningless fling with a mutant named Peter Wisdom.
The British man had become a close friend during her stay in Europe. Her mistake had been in believing her companionship with him was attraction. She had thought she was ready to move on. In the end, their breakup was a sweet release. Wisdom and Pryde didn't make sense together. Surprisingly, when she returned to the States, a different Peter was waiting for her. Colossus had heard of her romance with fellow fighter Wisdom and had asked her for a second chance. He had said that he loved her.
In Kitty's mind love was wanting to share all the small beauties of your life with another. Love was trusting another person with everything from your car keys to your life. Love was saying goodbye only when you had to. It was a feeling so strong you couldn't control it. It consumed you from your core and drove you insane. But at the end of the day, you liked the hand it had dealt you and you embraced all the gifts it had laid at your feet. Her vision of love was something no man had ever touched.
She knew that had she said yes to Lance all those years ago, things would have been different. He had loved her. Things had not been perfect, but nothing in this world ever was. She had been close. She had been so close to it. Tempting as his offer had been, she had had to make her choice. The effects of her actions had caused her pain for years. It seemed that wound still wasn't healed. What other reason did she have for being here now?
Stretching her arms above her head, she let her head drop back. Strands of brown hair fell off her shoulders and hung freely behind her. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She listened to the room. She could pick out the sound of her breathing, steady and calm. Across the room, Lockheed's twittering tongue added to the abstract orchestra. From outside, the muffled chirps of birds came and from the house the slight creaks and moans of time. Kitty waited for the memories to speak to her, but they did not. Only the sounds of the present fell to her ears.
Thankful, she sat up straight and returned to drilling her nails on the wood. There was something she needed to do here. The feeling, no, the need to be here had had to have had a purpose. Even in her deranged mind, there was purpose. Her subconscious desire to return to this place had to have a conclusion. Ready to explore the past, she started going through the desk drawers.
The top middle one only had a blank tablet of lined paper and one chewed pencil. She made a face at the teeth marks in the writing instrument and opened the next drawer. There wasn't anything in it. Or in the next one, or in the following. She opened the final drawer. At first, she assumed it was the same and slammed it shut. As it was closing, her eyes saw a small scrap of white stuck to the back of the drawer. Quickly, she yanked it out of the hinges. A letter was pinned to the wood.
Tearing it off, she inspected the coloration of the paper to determine how old it was. Judging by the yellow tint it had, she guessed not very recent. She used her thumb nail to cut through the envelope's closed flap. On the inside, a ripped scrap of paper sat. Holding open the envelope, she allowed the piece to fall onto the desk. There was a message written there. And it was for her.
If you?re reading this, it is because you turned me down. No doubt I am heartbroken, but there is something I need to tell you, even if the pain of seeing you is too great right now. Katherine Pryde, I love you. I have loved you since the moment I saw you. I will always love you, no matter what. Even if you can't love me, I know you are the one person on this earth who understands me. You have loved me enough for me to know that I have a purpose. I am not giving up on us. Though you reject me now, I have faith that one day, when the differences between us are aside, you and I will be together.
I am going away. By the time you read this, I will be gone. I am continuing to do what Professor Xavier intended us to do, because I want to be with you. I will fight until I die if that is what it takes. I want a world where we can be together, even if I must give my own life to get it. At least then others like us won't be burdened like we were.
I would never wish the pain I feel now on anyone else. Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever had to get through, but the thought of working towards a brand new day has kept me alive.
I love you Kitty. Please believe that, if nothing else.
The words became blurry. She blinked and water droplets washed away the last letters of his name. It took her a moment to realize she was crying. Tears that hadn't been shed in years, tears of a love long lost ran free. She gripped the letter in her right hand, bracing herself against the desk with her left.
Her body started to shake. He had loved her. He had cared. He had altered his entire life. He had become a changed man, but she had said no. They could have had it all. She could have been married by now. She could have had children. She tried to stand, but her feet would not hold her. She crashed to her knees, putting her head in her hands. What had she done?
Until this moment, she had never realized how much she truly wanted a family of her own. His talk of a brighter future, of buying a house and raising children together had been more than just words. His idea of getting a dog for the kids to play with in the backyard had been more than just a dream. He had been serious. All those time she had thought he was just entertaining himself with options for the future, he had been planning a future. He had wanted to be with her and she had sent him away.
It was hard to breath. Her nostrils were clogged and the tears were coming down so hard she couldn't see her hand in front of her eyes. She tried breathing through her mouth, but it was hard. Her nose was draining into her throat. All the excess flem was trying to escape and it was cutting off her oxygen supply. She gasped for air, her shoulders still convulsing with each attempt to control her sobs. Carefully, she pulled herself up onto the desk chair, and laid her head to rest on the counter.
A long period of time past before she was able to sit up again. She didn't bother to wipe her eyes clean. They were far to red anyway. She did not wish to agitate them further. Yanking an empty sheet of notebook paper off the blank tablet in the top drawer, she blew her nose. It wasn't soft like a tissue, but it did the trick. Now her nose matched her eyes. She stood, not sure where to go or what to do. What could she do now?
Lockheed was still sleeping on the bed, looking peaceful as ever. She made up her mind instantly. She joined him, moving him over so she had room. She'd spend the night here, give her mind time to think this over. Tomorrow was a new day. She could decided where her fate lie then. Closing her eyes, she drifted off to sleep.
Kitty heard the intruder before they entered the house. Aside of her, Lockheed was already sitting up, his ears at attention. She motioned for him to stay in the bedroom. Not making a sound, she got to her feet, and phased through the floor. In the living room, she heard the person unlock the front door and step inside. Keeping her breathing low, she watched the shadow of the intruder move across the floorboards. It was too bulky to be a woman, so she deduced it was a man.
When he started climbing the steps, she launched into action. Her foot came into contact with the male's abdomen. He went down hard. "What the hell?" he shouted, before getting back to his feet. He was tougher than she would have pegged him for. She did a back flip to put distance between them as he charged at her. As she landed, he threw a punch. She barely escaped.
Instinct told her to run, but her determination to put an end to this was stronger. Her adrenaline was pumping hard and she felt an electric current flowing through her that she had never felt before. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't thrilled by this battle. There was something about his motions and how difficult it was for her to land another blow that she found appealing.
A smile graced her lips as she ducked from another punch. His knee started to rise, ready to catch her in the stomach, but she kicked out her leg a second quicker, catching him off guard. He lost his balance and landed on the floor beneath her. She reached to grab him by his collar, but he offered a twist. He grabbed her wrist and dragged her down with him.
It was too dark to see his face. She could hear him breathing as hard as she was. Sweat beaded her forehead. She hadn't had a fight as good as this since she had fought Logan in the Shield training room. This man's hands were strong and she was surprised when she realized how gentle he was holding onto her. If this was a life-threatening situation, she could have easily gotten away.
"Who are you?" he demanded, sounding more annoyed than angry.
"Who are you?" she shot back.
He chuckled. "I used to live here," he told her.
Kitty felt her heart stop. She jumped back, phasing through his hands. No one had lived in the boarding house since the Brotherhood. She backed up, not watching where she was going and landed herself on the steps. She crashed the back of her knees into one of the steps, causing her to wince. It seemed the steps were sturdy after all.
The man approached her, his hand out. She tried to move, but it felt as if her legs were suddenly made of led. When his hand was in front of her, she did the only thing she could think to do. She placed hers over top of his. He seemed startled, and pulled away. He knew. The led dissipated from her legs and she sprinted up the steps to Lockheed. She heard him follow her, but she didn't care. She had the power to put enough distance between them.
"Let's go," she said as she entered the room. Lockheed flew over to the window. She unlatched the lock and yanked it up. The purple dragon glided out on the night's breeze. She started to put her legs out, just as he got a hold on her arm.
"Kitty," he pulled her back in. "What are you doing here?" She threw a punch at him, but he ducked. "Kitty," he tried again, holding her by both arms. She struggled, but he was strong. She didn't have the strength to break free. "Kit-Kat, it's me, Lance."
She didn't want to look at him. Moonlight was pooling in from the open window but she refused to look. She couldn't bring herself to look upon his face, the face that belonged to the man that had written that letter. A heart-wrenching letter that was still in her pocket, a souvenir she had planned on returning to the Institute with. She wanted to leave, but she couldn't phase. It was like cheating.
He let go. Face still turned away from him, she did not see the disappoint expression on his face. "I know you don't want to stay, but could you at least tell me why you came here?" he asked, his voice defeated. A tear slipped down her cheek. She bit back her bottom lip and rotated around.
He sat on the floor in front of her, watching the floor. His hair was still long, though nowadays he wore it tied back in a leather band. His bangs were hanging in his eyes so she couldn't see their rich hazel color. He was dressed in a while T-shirt and jeans. She was surprised that there were no rips in the knees. Boots covered his feet, decorated with dirt and a few pieces of grass. A tattoo adorned his upper right arm, a circular pattern of barbed wire. He looked different, older. She reached out a shaking hand, brushing his hair away from his face. His eyes lifted up to see her face and she gasped. He was crying.
"Kitty," he whispered.
She wouldn't be able to distinguish who moved first, but in the next instant his hands were on her face and her lips were crashing into his. The tears that had once been on his face mixed with the newly formed ones from hers. She wrapped her arms around him, fearing if she let go he would disappear forever. He laced his fingers in her hair, holding her against him, fearing the same.
When the two could no longer breath, they broke apart. Silence followed their act of passion as the two stared at one another, contemplating their actions. Kitty ran her finger over her lips, remembering the kisses she had shared with Colossus. No electricity buzzed through her like the feelings she was having now. Perhaps she had found the love she had desired for so long.
"Where did you go?" she asked, breaking the silence.
Lance shifted so that his back was resting against the wall. "I was in Japan for a while, then I went to China. I wanted to master all types of martial arts. They teach patience and understanding. Both were lessons I needed to bulk up on, especially after the incident with Wanda."
Kitty cringed as she thought of how many lives had been destroyed by the Scarlet Witch's outburst. She ran her fingers over his arm. "So you lost your powers?" she said sadly.
He nodded. "I had been in a doujo at the time, studying under a rather esteemed master. I felt dizzy. It started out small at first, then I lost ability to stand. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hut outside of town. I could barely move. I had to stay there for three weeks before I could walk again. The man I had been studying under had his nephew look after me. He was learning to be a doctor. I'm sure he had never seen anything like what I had. How many people lose a gene that caused them to control tremors?"
She smiled, despite the circumstances. Lance was no longer Avalanche. He was a regular human. That presented a serious problem. How could he defend himself? They were back at where they had started. Her fear from years ago was once again holding them apart. Then she recalled how tough he had been when they had sparred down in the hall. She had a feeling he could defend himself just fine. "Why did you come back?" Kitty asked, her hand in his.
Lance ran his free hand through his hair. "Pietro came to my house in Korea. He told me he had seen you here. He figured I should come back." She glanced down at her watch, then back at him. He grinned. "Pietro gave me a lift here. He said there was no time like the present." This time, she grinned.
The two sat together awhile longer in companionable silence. They watched the stars from where they sat by the window. As the sun rose in the east, Kitty noticed a small shape coming towards them. Lance saw it too. He stood up and braced himself for the object to hit him, but Kitty pushed him out of the way.
"Lockheed!" she exclaimed as she caught her purple pet.
Lance's eyes grew wide. "That's a d-dragon," he pointed to the creature snuggling in her arms.
"Yes," she kissed the crown of Lockheed's head. "This is my baby." He relaxed until she took his hand and helped him brush Lockheed's scales. The creature was smooth and cool. Resembling a winged lizard, he was strangely peaceful. After another pet, the purple creature actually leaned into Lance's motions. "See, he likes you," she smiled. He smiled to and continued to pet the dragon.
They fell into silence once again. The sun continued to rise, causing the sky to shift from gray to pink, to orange, to pale yellow. It was beautiful and alluring. But there was something unsettled between the two that had to be taken care of.
"Where do we go from here?"
Neither Kitty nor Lance knew what to say. Staring at one another, they did not move. Lockheed laid in Kitty's lap, not noticing the toll Lance's words had taken on his master. "I...I have a different life now, Lance," she started. "I am not the little girl I once was. I have a boyfriend..." here she paused. Colossus meant something to her, but Lance was her dream. "I...Lance, I'm sorry. Having you back here...I just don't know what to do."
"Kitty," he hugged her. "I love you. I could never love anyone else the way I loved you. I never expected to come back here. I did not want to ruin the great things you made for yourself. You should be happy." He paused, then, "I want you to be happy."
She placed her hand on his mouth. "Lance," she hushed him. "I read your letter." He froze, shocked by her confession. Tears came again. "I love you. It took me these past ten years to realize how deeply I loved you back then and how much I need you now, but...," she shook her head. "I just don't know where to go from here."
He nodded. "How about we just take this one day at a time? Give ourselves a second chance?"
For a moment, she didn't say anything. She brushed at her tears and ran a hand through her hair, then she smiled. "That sounds like a good idea."
Hand in hand, they left the Bayville Boarding house, heading back to the Xavier Institute. Kitty did not know what to expect when they walked through the doors, but she knew she would get through it. Lance had found her. Nothing was going to be easy from this point on, but today was the first day of the rest of their life together. And maybe she could still have her happy ending.