This was written for Prompt #4 – Blossoms from a table at LJ community Phase & Fire.

Scaredy Cats and Spiders

It was a beautiful spring day at the Institute and most of the students were lapping up the sunshine by taking out their basketballs, books and some even brought out their chess sets to play on the freshly-cut grass. Bobby and Rogue were taking a walk around the grounds, Rogue talking animatedly about something and Bobby listening intently, occasionally nodding and laughing. Jubilee was sitting on a bench, her legs spread out over the wooden slats as she read a magazine. Piotr was taking laps in the swimming pool, and a few of the younger kids watched him interestedly. They admired his powerful strokes and wished they could be strong like him.

Pyro, resident ex-Brotherhood member, was sitting against a giant willow tree, his elbows resting on his knees as he observed everybody outside. This was the first time he had been outside in such a long time. After the battle at Alcatraz he had unwillingly woken up in the mansion, four pairs of eyes staring at him. One of them had been Bobby's, his 'rescuer', as well as Hank McCoy, the Wolverine and Storm, who was now apparently headmistress of the school. They had allowed him to stay under a strict rehabilitation program he would have loved to refuse, but it was either that or spending the rest of his life cured and sitting in a hard, cold grey cell to 'think about what he did wrong'. Pyro had enough common sense to pick the first option, however much he resented it.

It had been a hard first couple of months. As well as having regular sessions with a psychologist Pyro had to gain the trust of not only his mentors but practically the whole student population. Of course they read and watch the news like good little X-Men, he had thought bitterly. But he could definitely understand why they were afraid of him. According to them he was an "extremely dangerous" mutant and was to be avoided at all costs. This pleased Pyro immensely at first as he preferred not to have eyes staring at him constantly and so took refuge in his old bedroom, often spending a large period of the day in there reading, jotting down his thoughts into an extremely private black book or staring out the window, watching the other students play outside in the sun. But after a while he felt rather lonely and craved some companionship, as much as he hated to admit it, and so befriended the only person who had seemed the least hostile about his arrival – Kitty Pryde.

Six months on and you could say Pyro was a changed man – but not quite. He tried to be polite wherever possible but sometimes those sarcastic comments just slipped out. However he had begun to realise that this was what he was like before he had left the school all those years ago. Maybe he really was back to 'normal'? Maybe he was 'John' again. Storm had definitely noted the improvement, although she warned him he should probably be more civil to Bobby. John had scoffed and said it was never going to happen. Bobby still hates my guts.

Storm also said she was thrilled to hear about the friendship he had formed with Kitty and purposely paired them up together for projects in the classroom. John had been allowed to attend classes because Storm had told him he 'had to complete his education' and 'it would get him out of his bedroom and interacting with the other students'. John hadn't originally wanted to get back into the school routine again and tried to get out of it but Storm would take no excuse. However in the end he was more than happy to sit back in Science while Kitty drabbled on about polypropylene and its uses, not taking in anything she was saying. She often poked him with her lead pencil to get his attention and he would pretend he had been listening the whole time, just like old times. John never told anybody but English was still his most favourite lesson and his classmates were quite surprised to actually see him working instead of distracting everybody and playing with his lighter out of boredom.

Yes, it seemed John had settled in rather nicely amongst the X-Men. Although he would never ever actually join them. That was still out of the question where he was concerned.

At the current moment John was resting outside underneath the grand willow tree. He breathed in the clean air and wafts of cherry blossom and lavender drifted over to him in the slight breeze. He hadn't wanted to come outside because he was sick of the scrutiny the students gave him, although many people had reassured him nobody ever did this anymore, and so taking his chances John had stepped out of the mansion and into the cheery sunshine. Settling underneath the tree far from all the activity on the basketball court, he watched them play and wished he could join in.

He soon got bored and almost fell asleep right there and then, but his hazel eyes happened to fall on the only student who looked rather out of place. Kitty Pryde was standing beside a fine-looking cherry blossom tree, just staring up at the sweet-scented pink flowers as if they were the most beautiful thing in the world. John thought they were rather nice, but he wasn't about to tell anybody about that. He watched as she just stood and stared, her hands sitting loosely in the pockets of her jeans and her hair blown about gently by the light breeze. She appeared to be deep in thought, and John thought it was odd to do some thinking whilst staring at a tree. He smirked; how funny it would be to just creep up from behind and scare her! In fact, I'm going to do just that.

John got up from the ground and brushed his hands over his jeans to get rid of the dirt that had accumulated there. Kitty was still staring at the tree like it was a humungous chocolate cake she was about to indulge in, and so John quickly jumped at the chance. He walked quietly and cautiously across the grass towards her, making sure not to step on anything that might alert her of his presence. Just before John was close enough to 'pounce' and frighten her, he was struck by a memory that had occurred three years earlier, when he had been known as 'St. John Allerdyce'…

As soon as he heard the spine-tingling shriek coming from above, John had a feeling she would be phasing into his room any minute. He was right. He looked up at the ceiling and first he saw small feet, slender legs and the bottom of a nightdress, and then the rest of Kitty Pryde landed on his floor. Her hair was tousled and framing her heart-shaped face, which was unusually pale. John tried to look indifferent but he couldn't help but feel concerned.

"What is it this time, Kitten?" he said impatiently. It wasn't the first time she had phased unpredictably into his room.

At first Kitty couldn't get a word out.

"What, cat got your tongue?" He smirked.

"Oh very funny, John," Kitty said finally, finding her voice. "There's… there's something in my room." Her voice shook a little and she screwed up her face just thinking about it.

John placed his hands on his hips and stared down at her with a raised eyebrow.

"Something in your room, eh? Are you sure it isn't Piotr coming in for a midnight rendezvous?"

Kitty sent him a death glare and there was something in her eyes that told him she meant business.

"There is nothing going on between me and Piotr, if you must know, it's something else."

John found himself feeling pleased at this sudden news – so she wasn't going out with Tinman, then? Interesting… he thought.

"Well, what is it?" He tried to sound nonchalant, maybe even disinterested, but a hint of curiosity had now edged into his voice.

"Come and see. Please. I'm not going in there until you get rid of it."

If John's eyebrow went any higher it might have disappeared under his mop of messy brown hair.

"Alright Kitten, show me." He had expected her to walk out the door where he would follow her up the stairs, but this time she grabbed his wrist and before he could protest she had phased the both of them up into her bedroom. Gasping, he said through gritted teeth, "Never-do-that-again!"

Kitty giggled. "You get used to it."

John was bewildered. Get used to it? Did that mean she would be phasing him around the school more often, or something? Before he could consider this idea further Kitty had let out a tiny scream.

"Look! There it is!" she pointed and backed towards the nearest wall, standing on the tips of her toes.

John looked in the direction of her finger and finally saw what she had been so terribly afraid of. It was a hairy black spider crawling slowly across the carpet and a rather large one at that. No wonder she had been frightened. Girls! John thought, shaking his head and looked at Kitty standing by the wall.

"You're scared of this thing? What did it ever do to you?"

Kitty didn't have an answer, and so John carefully picked up the spider and placed it in his hand, ignoring the protests from Kitty, and gently placed it on the tree just outside of Kitty's window, which was wide open.

"It's gone now, Kitten." He closed the window shut and turned around. Kitty had moved away from the wall, but she still looked a bit spooked.

"I found it in my bed, you know…" she said quietly. She looked like a vulnerable child standing there, and John had the impulse to scoop her into his arms and rock her gently to sleep like his mother used to do back in Sydney when he had nightmares.

"Here's an idea; don't leave your window open during the day. I don't care how hot it is. Buy a fan, or something," John suggested irritably. If Kitty kept phasing into his room unannounced about trivial things like spiders, then she could live without having her window open - ever.

Kitty nodded meekly. "Uh, sure. Well, thanks John."

"Don't mention it." Just before he opened her door to go back to his bedroom, John turned around and said, much to Kitty's chagrin, "We should rename you Scaredy Cat."

And unfortunately, the name had stuck, if only for a little while, and a common ritual involved John popping out from every corner in the school he could find and leaping out to scare Kitty as she walked past. He even caused her to phase to the next floor a couple of times, but once she had taken John down with her and they had landed on the kitchen floor in a complete tangle.

"Gerroff me, John! You're squishing me!" Kitty protested. John was practically lying on top of her.

"You're the one who made us get here!" John replied, rather annoyed, but he moved his body so she was directly underneath him and pinned her to the ground with his hands.

"What are you doing!" Kitty asked, dazed. He was so close; she could see every single detail on his face; the exact colour of his eyes (an amalgamation of green and light brown) and little freckles on his nose. His musky cologne reached her and it was almost like breathing in oxygen. His delectable pink lips were parted attractively and Kitty could feel his warm breath on her face.

Then he said rather huskily, "I've caught you now, just like I caught that spider. I've wanted to do this for the longest time…"

He leant in and their lips were millimetres from touching when suddenly they were interrupted by somebody clearing their throat. John had never gotten up so fast in his life, and he even had the decency to pull Kitty up, too. It turned out to be Rogue, who had come downstairs to get a drink. Her face was neutral as she said to her flustered friends, "Don't worry; your secret is safe with me!" Kitty felt her face burning and was stunned to see John's was, too.

Later that evening there was an invasion at the school, carried out by William Stryker, and John never even got to say goodbye to her or finish what they had begun…

John came out of the reverie all of a sudden, his hands still extended ready to scare Kitty, when she happened to turn around instead! John got the biggest shock of his life, and practically jumped half a mile in the air, cursed loudly and placed a hand on his chest where his heart was now beating rapidly. He closed his eyes for a moment and Kitty chuckled.

"Now who's the scaredy cat?" she said, almost like she had seen the exact same memory John had seen. She smiled at him warmly and it was genuine – John was grateful she wasn't really making fun of him.

He opened his eyes and couldn't help but grin sheepishly. He ran a hand through his blonde hair (Kitty found this gesture rather attractive) and didn't have any idea what to say. No snarky comments or cheeky grins – nothing. He was speechless, just like Kitty had been when she phased through his ceiling that night to tell him about the hairy, black spider.

"I think the cat's got your tongue now, John." Kitty grinned and stepped closer to him. "I'm not scared of spiders anymore."

John characteristically raised an eyebrow and subsequently found his voice. "What do you mean?"

"I've wanted to do this for the longest time…" she whispered, echoing John's own words.

And she closed the gap between them and nobody was there to interrupt this time around.


I hope you liked this.