Disclaimer: I own nothing worth mentioning.

Rating: M/PG 13, which ever applies to you. Just a bit of swearing for effect.

Timeframe: Set ten years after X3. Slightly AU.

A/N: This is my first Kyro fic; in fact, this is my first X-Men fic. I usually write crime show fanfics, so this is a little out of my writing comfort zone, and everything I know about the X-Men world is from the movies. I have absolutely no knowledge of the comic book world. I hope you guys enjoy this, review and let me know.

When the dust has settled,

What will become of the world as we know it?

When everything seems right, certain and straightforward,

What will send it crashing down?

Love, hate, anger, pain –


Uniting to fight feelings, to fight fear.

To fight the past.

"Great job everyone! Go home and get some rest."

In a way, fighting fires was like a war. Both enemies depend on oxygen for their survival, both are made of hydrogen and atoms and both posses weaknesses. Their own personal downfalls.

Fire was unpredictable, just like people. You don't know which direction it would go, or when it would send a wall of concrete at you, without mercy or second thought. It would fight with a burning intensity, destroying everything in its path.

Fire didn't feel, it didn't cry out with pain. It didn't leave behind loved ones, a life, or a past. It didn't beg for forgiveness before you destroyed it. It didn't plague your sleep with nightmares, reminding you of how many you had killed and destroyed.

You could go home at the end of the day, knowing that everyone is safe. That for once, people are on your side. The only casualty was the fire itself.

From being one of the most hated species on the planet, to one of the most trusted. How ironic.

He could control the fire, but he couldn't create it.

That used to bother John Alderdyce, AKA 'Pyro', but many years had passed since he felt the overwhelming urge to create it. Instead, he controlled it, making it disappear into nothing but ash and memories. It didn't give him the same thrill and sense of power than throwing balls of fire at his enemy, but alcohol and cigarettes can have tremendous healing effects, filling the void. He still carried his Zippo lighter, but it served a different purpose; a reminder of what he used to be, a reminder of what he could be.

John didn't know why he did what he did. The idea of helping people, saving lives felt hypocritical, after all the crappy things he'd done.

Maybe he was subconsciously trying to make amends; a form of penance for his days of merciless destruction. Prove to everyone that you don't have to be a 'X-Man' to do some good in the world, prove the Brotherhood that he could survive on his own. Maybe he was just trying to prove something to himself.

His life since the battle had been empty. Most of the Brotherhood had been killed, many captured and cured. The ones that did survive unscathed scattered, going into hiding, waiting until the day that they regroup and destroy the human world. John wasn't holding his breath. Their 'fearless leader' had been rendered powerless by the one thing they had been fighting for, and since then, new, more effective cures and antidotes had been invented. Hell, some clinic in L.A even claimed to have developed a 12-step program to eliminate mutant abilities. Like quitting smoking and losing weight. Some people were idiots.

John wasn't going to be the guy to reinvent the Brotherhood. As shitty as the world may be; as shitty as his life may be, he still had his powers, and that was enough for him. He wasn't the type of guy to fight for mutant-kind; he relied on himself and himself only. He had to look out for number one.

"Go home, Alderdyce," the chief commanded, "get some rest."

Home? Relax?

John had no home. The one place he'd even considered a home, he had turned his back on long ago. Turned his back on his friends, his teachers, his safe haven, and for what? Some crazy old guy on a power trip pretending to fight for a cause? Now he was on the wanted lists of every major American government security agency.

You can't relax when you don't know when your time is going to be up, or when your dreams are plagued by nightmare from your past.

You just can't.

"Excuse me, Miss, do you have the latest Danielle Steel novel?"

The young woman sighed and smiled politely, explaining to the woman they didn't stock 'those' books. If she had to explain once more that they were a rare bookstore, she was pretty sure she'd throw a book at someone's head.

This was Katherine 'Kitty' Pryde's life; ignorant customers or just being ignored.

A situation that was very different to where she was ten years ago, at Alcatraz.

She didn't use her powers anymore.

There wasn't any reason to since she left the school and decided to blend into the 'real' world.

That was five years ago.

Sure, she tried to stay there, but things are easier said than done. After the battle, they'd returned to the school, and things had tried to return to normal. But they couldn't and they wouldn't. So Kitty graduated early, getting early acceptance into college, which she flew through. She had a degree in biochemistry and made a feeble attempt at teaching, but she couldn't – it was far too painful. Then one day, she packed up her belongings and left – no warnings, no goodbyes, nothing. And she hadn't looked back since.

A lot of good a degree does when you work in a bookstore.

Kitty could get a job in a laboratory, but the solitude and quietness brought her comfort. She could escape from her old life; forget what she was. People wouldn't look at her like she was a freak; instead they didn't look at her at all. Which was a hell of a lot better than people trying to kill you.

Rogue, or Marie since she had gotten cured, told her she was running away. Away from what?

Alcatraz? Her past? Her abilities?

Rogue may have been her friend, but Kitty was not going to be lectured by a hypocrite. Someone who had 'sold out' her abilities just to make out with some guy. In hindsight, Kitty realised she had been slightly hasty to express this to her 'friend', more than likely prompted by bitterness and jealousy she felt. Needless to say, this was the end of her friendship with Rogue, leaving her completely and utterly alone.

Kitty could get the cure, but what was the point? She didn't want to be normal, but she didn't want to be a mutant either.

All she wanted to do was phase into the background of normality.

Kitty locked up the bookstore, pulled her jean jacket tight around her shoulder and started to walk home.

A cat meowed in the distance, breaking the silence of her thoughts. She jumped at the sound, for a split second it sounded like a scream. A psychological scar from Alcatraz, Kitty would sometimes hear or see things that weren't there. It pierced the stillness of the night – a mental reminder of the things she had seen and done. A reminder that at seventeen, when she was supposed to be more worried about boys and exams, she had fought for her existence, everything she stood for.

Everything she was beginning to doubt.

The war had made her cynical; she had lost everything – her naivety, her innocence, her dreams.

Head down, hands in pockets, keep walking, don't look up.

Kitty was running. She had been running for the last ten years. It was no way to live, she knew this. But she knew that sooner or later her past would catch up her and when it did, all hell would break loose.

What did she have to blame? Her mutation, the school, the Brotherhood, Alcatraz, the freaking cure.

The humans that wanted to destroy her because they feared what they couldn't understand.

What they didn't even attempt to understand.

And she hated them for it.

"Hey sweetheart, want some company?"

Kitty looked up, surprised. Two men were walking on either side of her.

"I'm fine, thanks," Kitty replied, trying to keep the fear out of her voice. She racked her brain trying to remember whether she'd packed a pocketknife in her bag. Nope she didn't.

The two men leered at her.

"You don't look fine, what's your name, darling?"

Kitty, silently cursing the fact she'd decided to take a short cut home, didn't answer and quickened her pace.

"Answer us when we're talking to you!" One of the men yelled, slapping Kitty and sending her flying to the ground.


All three spun around.

John quickened his pace. Why were there so many wannabe thugs in New York? He jogged over to where two guys stood and a girl lay.

"What the fuck do you want?" One of the men growled.

"Leave her the fuck alone!" John demanded.

"Oh yeah," one snarled, "Who's going to make us – fireman."

John forgot he still had his uniform jacket on. But that wasn't going to stop him from beating the shit out of these two thugs.

He took a swing, punching one square in the jaw. The other went to attack, but John got to him first, kicking him in the gut.

"Let's go," One of the men said, clutching his jaw and glaring at John, "the bitch isn't worth it."

The two staggered off.

"Hey, lady, are you alright?" John asked, standing over her and feeling slightly uncomfortable.

She slowly got to her feet and looked him in the eye.

"Thanks…" She hesitated for a moment, then stared at him incredulously, "John?"

John looked the woman up and down and smirked.

"Why, hello Kitten."

A/N: Hope you guys enjoyed it. This is a two-part fic, so the second should be up in a couple of days, tops.

Please review, your criticism (good or bad) can make a teenage girl smile.