disclaimer: not mine

A/N: another one...



No one thought that Logan would be his biggest supporter. That the naturally suspicious and jaded man would be so adamant about giving him a second chance. But when they all thought about it, it made sense. The older man saw a lot of himself in the youth. He had made mistakes too. He had been angry and violent once. And he had also turned around and started down the twisted and barbed path to something that resembled redemption. If he could make that choice and be accepted after what might have been decades of bad deeds, then a few months away with the enemy shouldn't be enough to condemn John Allerdyce.

"He's dangerous," Storm argued.

"So am I," Logan responded calmly.

"He's killed people," she replied.

"So have I," was his answer again. "So have you."

"What if he's a spy? What if Magneto sent him?"

"Come on, Storm," he sighed. "Do you really think Magneto would send him here, the place is practically crawling with people who can read his mind. Besides, no one trusts him, who's gonna tell him our secrets?"

"I just don't get it," she shook her head. "Magneto has his powers back. He's trying to start his war again. It's not like John has no where else to go. Why come back now when the Brotherhood needs him?"

Logan frowned, knowing all too well what brought John back to Westchester. "Maybe he got tired of being the bad guy."


"So what the verdict, Bossman?" John asked as Logan entered his room. It was just that, a room, a spare left by a student who decided homesickness was worse than the ridicule he faced at a regular school. The other teens knew he was there and generally gave his doorway a wide berth. Why isn't he in a cell? Why isn't he locked up? John was wondering the same things himself. The first thing he did after being delivered to his new living space was check to see if he was locked in. He wasn't. He could roam the halls and terrorize the kids if he wanted, and when he got especially bored, it was tempting.

"You can stay." John raised his eyebrows at that, it was not the answer he expected. "There's only a few days left in this term so you can't really graduate this year-"

"Bobby and Rouge will be devastated," he muttered under his breath.

"-and then there's summer," Logan went on as if he hadn't said a word. "You can stay for that too. If you want you can stay all the way through next year and at least pretend you're learning something. After that, I don't know, you'll be your own man."

"And if I decide I don't want to stay?" he wanted to know.

"I give you to Storm. You're the one who came back here, Pyro. You play by our rules now."


Too much had happened for her to just go home. It didn't work like that. She was a soldier now, she had seen blood pooling on the ground, smelled the acrid fumes and heard the screams and howls of the battle. No person, no seventeen year old girl, woman now, could just turn around and head back to Illinois and spend the summer with her family and pretend they all didn't know what she had done and seen and just how much she had changed. It didn't work like that.

But after a few days of wandering the halls of the mansion alone, her friends graduated or vacationing, the teachers planning their next maneuvers against the Brotherhood or living their own lives, and Bobby and Rogue having disappeared to who knew where to figure out their own future, she began to regret it. Someone had changed the codes that gave her access into the underground floors, much less the Danger Room. Storm and Logan had been dodging her questions about it and almost anything else for that matter. And she had a sinking suspicion she knew why.

"Do you think I'll hurt myself training down there alone?" she shrieked. "I'm not that stupid! I can take care of myself!"

"You're a young girl, Kitty," Storm murmured patronizingly. "And you've been through a lot this past year, we all have. Why don't you want to take a break from training for a while?"

"I'm not a child anymore, Storm," she argued. "You made sure of that."

It was a cruel thing to say, she knew. Scott would have never recruited her for the X-men if her skills and powers hadn't been needed, but he wasn't there and it was easy to blame the other woman for her loss of innocence. And she couldn't help that she wanted something to be easy again.

And that brought her attention to the presence of John Allerdyce, the very definition of unease and innocence lost. The thought that he was breathing the same air as her sent memories of burning cars and scorched earth flashing across her internal vision. She knew that even if she tried to avoid him it wouldn't really work. For the all the room and sheer scale of the mansion there were only so many places the two of them could go. So she didn't even try. She didn't even attempt to stay out of his way and prevent an awkward and mostly likely negative run in. Why should she make anything easy for him? He obviously wasn't thinking about the school's condition when he walked out.

They had never been close but before he left she thought she could count him as a familiar acquaintance, at least. A comforting warmth beside her if not an adept conversationalist or confidante. They weren't friends, but than again, John wasn't really friends with anyone. He was just John.


A week had gone by since the school had emptied for the season and her mounting frustrations were bringing her to the verge of implosion. Logan and Storm were in the bottom levels, going over some intel Warren had brought in on the movement of Magneto's camp. That much she knew because that much Warren had told her, but nothing more.

"Logan said to leave you out of this one, Katherine," he told her apologetically.

"But I'm an X-man!" she shouted. "I'm part of the team, why wont they let me help?"

"Ease up, Kitty." Warren said while walking away quickly, unwilling to get into what were becoming more and more frequent verbal spats with the young woman. "Enjoy your summer as a kid, that's what they want for you, to just be a kid. Don't worry about what they're doing down there."

The unfairness of the situation stung. She was allowed to fight, she was allowed to put her life on the line only a handful of months earlier but now she was a kid again? It didn't work like that.

"What'd you do to deserve that shut out?" a voice wondered from behind her. She spun around to find the source, already knowing a line that insensitive and tasteless could come from only one mouth. There he was, the flame throwing former enemy in the flesh, leaning against the wall holding a sandwich. He took a satisfying bite out of it as she scowled at him.

"Hello, John. Welcome back," she sneered sarcastically.

"Maybe they don't trust you," was his reply. She gaped at him, burning and shaking at the fact that he of all people was talking to her about trust. At the fact that he was probably right.

"Fuck you," she growled before sinking into the floor. Coward, she told herself


He was in the kitchen a few days later when she came down for a midnight snack. More like early morning, she thought to herself. It was past four AM.

He was sitting at the bar holding a bottle of water between his hands and looked up slowly when she entered the room. She stopped, temporarily stilling while she decided if staying in the same room with someone who would probably insult her again was worse than the sacrifice of her pride that would come with turning and fleeing the room. In the end pride won out, which she had expected from the start, it was her last name after all.

"I couldn't sleep either," he said to her. It was probably intended to be a peace offering, the only flimsy apology he would offer, but she was too tired and generally angry to care.

She walked non-chalantly over to the cabinets she knew held granola bars and cookies without saying a word, careful to give off an air of disinterest.

"I meant what I said, Kitty," he told her back as she reached to grab the Oreos.

"Oh, I'm sure you did John. You probably know exactly what it looks like to have someone not trust you," she responded, still not meeting his gaze.

He clenched his fists around his drink and exhaled sharply, his upper lip pulling into an ugly expression. "I do," he told her matter of factly, "but that's not how I meant it."

"Then how did you mean it?" she burst at him, throwing the unopened pack of cookies onto the counter. "How the fuck am I supposed to take a comment like that? I didn't do anything for them to stop trusting me! Anything! And yet I'm being punished and you…You're allowed to roam the damn halls like you belong here. So tell me, John, how did you mean it."

He looked at her with confused, glazed eyes, like the sight of her was too much for his brain to comprehend.

"What happened to you?" he asked quietly.

"What do you mean?" she snarled.

"You…You used to tell me that people who cussed were just too lazy to think of intelligent things to say. Remember that?" he scolded.

"Jesus John, a fourteen year old girl said that to you. I've changed."

He laughed abruptly and it ended up sounding more like he was choking. "That's obvious. I'm just trying to figure out when."

"When?" she stalked closer to him, the anger and resentment and confusion that had taken root and wrapped around her life finally bringing her to the breaking point. "When? How about the night Scott woke me up and asked me to walk into the fucking White House, you know, before he died. Before Jean died, before the Professor died. Before they turned my into some goddamn fighting machine they think they can turn on and off. Take you pick!"

"I lost them too, Kitty!" he yelled, standing up so rapidly the stool he had been perched on fell over and clattered loudly on the tile floor.

"Go to hell, Pyro, you don't get to start caring now!"

"This is why they don't trust you anymore! Don't you understand? I get that you're sad and pissed and probably really, really lonely, but that's no excuse for you to act like this!"

"Like what?"

"Like I used to."

His words ripped her open. Because it was true and they both knew it. How had the roles been reversed so quietly and quickly, without her realizing? Two tears that felt cold when they slid across her flushed cheeks slowly meandered down her face and eventually stopped at her chin.

"This conversation is over. Enjoy your water and your insomnia."