Prompt #12 - Sunshine - from LJ community Phase & Fire.
A Sudden Revelation
The sun beat down on New York City cheerily on this unusually warm autumn day, and the students in Storm's History class revelled in it as they headed towards the bus stop that would return them to Westchester. Amongst these students was the usual bunch; Bobby, Rogue, Jubilee, Kitty and John. Bobby and Rogue were walking together, chattering about how interesting the expedition had been; Jubilee was telling Kitty a rather amusing joke and Kitty was giggling and smiling; and lastly, John had taken to walking by himself behind everyone else, his fingers caressing the Zippo lighter that sat in his jeans pocket. He had been bored the whole trip and was itching for something exciting to happen. Storm had been called to the mansion for important news that couldn't wait, and so had left the students alone, trusting they would return to the school like 'responsible adults'.
The bus trundled up to the stop and the mutants piled on quickly, making sure they acted as humanely as possible. One slight spark from Jubilee for example would give them all away. The bus was jam-packed with humans, with only a few spare seats at the back. Rogue and most of the others took these seats. Kitty had been left behind to tie up her shoelace, and so she and John were the last ones to get on.
"You first, Kitten," John said, gesturing with his hand.
Kitty blinked at him. When had John Allerdyce ever been courteous?
"Um, thanks," she replied awkwardly, taking things in her stride and stepping onto the bus.
They both headed down the aisle, finding all the seats taken. Kitty sighed. She hated standing up. She held onto a pole whilst John sidled up beside her, reaching up to hold onto one of the straps hanging above their heads. Two male humans who appeared to be in their late-teens or early-twenties were just beside them. They kept looking over at Kitty, and it made her feel extremely uncomfortable. She was glad she wasn't by herself – even though it was John she happened to be standing with. He wasn't exactly the best company, always making snide remarks.
The bus drove around the busy streets, often turning sharp corners and slamming on the breaks when it came to a traffic light. This was the reason Kitty hated standing up – with her small frame she was an easy target for losing her footing when the bus swerved. Normally good at keeping her balance (she wasn't named Shadowcat for nothing), the way the bus drivers drove these days made it seem like they wanted to turn Kitty into a right klutz. And subsequently as they rounded a particularly tight corner, she bumped into something, or rather someone. And it just had to be someone named John Allerdyce.
She pried herself off him and flushed pink, trying to regain her balance as the bus completed the turn.
"Can't seem to resist me, can you Kitten?" John said, a smirk tugging at the edge of his lips.
Kitty opened her mouth to reply but he cut her off.
"Don't bother trying to pretend it was an accident. Just because we went round a sharp corner is no excuse."
Kitty turned red even more and John's smirk became more evident.
"You're a prick, John," she said quietly, shaking her head, although secretly she enjoyed the attention he gave her. None of the other boys at school teased her, and Jubilee had told Kitty thousands of times that 'when a guy teases you it's his way of saying he digs you!' in Jubilee's words, of course. Kitty had always wondered if this statement was true.
John deliberately ignored Kitty's petty insult by saying, "You're not normally so clumsy, Kitty-cat. You must be so attracted to me or you wouldn't have bumped into me. If you wanted a kiss or something, all you had to do was ask!"
Suddenly one of the two guys who had been scrutinising Kitty interrupted the conversation.
"Hey, quit taunting her. You can see she doesn't like it."
John stopped smirking and turned to look at him, an eyebrow raised. Kitty looked at the guy with a mixture of annoyance and disbelief.
"Hey babe, you don't need a loser like him. Come over here and we can give you some real lovin'," his friend concurred.
Kitty didn't like the way he spoke in that sleazy tone and she looked away from him, feeling very vulnerable. The look on John's face, however, was priceless. He wasn't amused by this comment like Kitty assumed he would be. In fact, he was downright angered by it.
"Hey, if you want to speak to her, you do it through me first." His fingers clenched around the square-shape of his lighter hungrily. Kitty was in absolute shock. She had never seen John get so protective of somebody before, let alone her. The only thing he was really possessive about was his Zippo lighter.
The first guy laughed. "Oh, that's a joke. Wake up and smell the roses; she doesn't like you! So stop assuming that she does and quit pestering her."
John was about to retort when Kitty beat him to it, much to John's surprise.
"Stop putting words in my mouth - he wasn't pestering me!" It was a bit of a lie, but Kitty didn't want it to turn into a huge fight.
"You dirty little tart. He was speaking with such conceit I'm surprised his head could fit onto the bus. And you damn well know it!" the second guy proclaimed. The other people on the bus were trying to ignore the scene but nosy as they were, couldn't resist watching with open ears and eyes.
"That's real cute, man," John stated angrily, eerily foreshadowing an event that was to occur in the following weeks at the same museum they had just visited. He took out his lighter with his free hand and flicked it open, revealing a singular flame.
Kitty took hold of his arm. "John, no…" she said gently, but he shrugged her off. At the back of the bus where Bobby, Rogue and the others were sitting, Bobby watched with intense worry. Jubilee, on the other hand, was rather enjoying it. Rogue was watching with interest. Surely John had enough common sense not to show off his mutation, especially on a bus full of humans. She believed he would do the right thing.
The first guy grinned maliciously. "Hah, what you gonna do, burn me?" He laughed. John suddenly smirked, and a flicker of fear was present on the second guy's face but his friend didn't notice. "C'mon bitch, you know you want something better."
He went to grab Kitty but John had moved his arm to block his advances. Kitty instinctively moved closer to him, breathing in the soothing smell of his musky cologne as the first guy furrowed his brows. "Quit fucking around with him, girl!"
"Shut the fuck up, don't you dare speak to her like that again!" John's anger got the better of him and the flame that was hovering innocently on his lighter suddenly flickered, and a few sparks leapt onto the guy's hand, singeing his skin.
"Ah shit! What did you do, you bastard!" the guy yelled, shaking his hand and then observing the burn marks on his skin.
The second guy looked frightened all of a sudden. "Hey Joel, I think he's one of them mutants…"
The silence that followed was deadly. Bobby held his breath as almost everybody on the bus turned to look at John, and his lighter. Rogue looked determined. C'mon John! You can control your anger!
The arm that had been shielding Kitty dropped to his side, and John snapped the lid of his lighter shut with a loud click. He glared at the two guys venomously, but kept his cool and didn't say anything, his lips pursed. It was lucky that the bus suddenly stopped, and the two guys headed towards the doors to leave. As they left the first guy called out, "Just know what's comin' for you, you filthy mutant."
After the two guys and a few others had gotten off the bus, Kitty saw two seats free and jumped at the chance. She sat down, her cheeks glistening with fresh tears, and watched as John, clearly still irritated, sat down next to her. He crossed his arms over his chest and slumped in his seat as the bus resumed its original pace along the road.
"John…" Kitty whispered tentatively. "Thanks, for um… that." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Don't mention it, Kitten," John replied casually, and he sneaked a glance at her sitting beside him.
Kitty was looking down, but then she looked up and their eyes met. And although John's face was now characteristically expressionless, his hazel eyes gave everything away - he genuinely cared about her and they both knew it. Feeling flustered all of a sudden, she looked away from his heated gaze and stared out of the window at the flurry of buildings and cars going by. She wasn't sure if it was her imagination or not, but the sun seemed to shine more brightly for a split second, and then it returned to its usual intense glare.