Summary: When he returned, the last person he'd expected to hate him was Kitty. Kyro one-shot.

Timeframe: Post X3.

Archive: In the unlikely event that someone would actually want to archive this – ask and I'll say yes. Just let me know where it's going.

Disclaimer: All things recognisably X-Men are obviously not mine. I just like making up my own stories.

A/N: Written for the prompt 'touch' on the theme of 'firsts' for the kittyandpyro livejournal community.

The deep coolness of the night seeped through John's half-open window, soaking his skin. Sitting by the opening, he made no move to shut it or make himself warmer – only his thumb moved, flicking the wheel of his lighter incessantly.

He hadn't slept since he'd returned to the mansion. Maybe it was force of habit – when he was with the Brotherhood, they'd been obliged to do most of their work in the dark silence. Maybe it was because he was paranoid. Sometimes he wondered if the X-Men were just waiting for the right time to 'cure' him, or turn him over to the government, or maybe even kill him.

But in the end, he couldn't sleep because he'd be thinking about her. And he hated that.

Of all the people he'd expected to shun him, Kitty had been the last. He'd expected it from Bobby (and had been surprised when his former friend had welcomed him with not exactly open arms, but a tentative smile at least), expected it from Rogue, expected the distrust from the X-Men who were left. But he hadn't expected it from Kitty.

She was the true untouchable one. Rogue had once had no choice about it: if you touched her, you would die. Simple as that. And now she was Marie, people touched her skin with no consequences.

But Kitty – Kitty could choose to let you fall through her. She could choose to let you touch her or not, and that made her more intangible than anyone.

He'd noticed how she'd phase whenever she saw him coming, so that if he should accidentally brush past her, all he felt was a tingling sensation. He'd noticed how she wouldn't look him in the eye, how she turned away when he entered the room.

And he'd noticed himself noticing these things, and he hated it. Why should he care if she hated him? Why should he care if he could never touch her? She was just a girl. He was Pyro. He didn't give a damn whether anyone hated him or not.

But he did, and that was why he couldn't sleep. That was why he hated it here more than before – after all he'd been through, all that he'd done, he'd turned into someone who cared.

He had to get out.

Swiftly, silently, he made his way downstairs and began to walk through the mansion. It was time he got away from this place and started somewhere else. If he left her and all his thoughts of her behind, he might get a decent night's sleep for once.

"Where are you going?" came a quiet, angry voice behind him.

He paused, clenching his fists, debating whether or not to turn around and answer her. Why was she talking to him now, of all times? He kept walking, refusing to allow himself to turn back and look at the girl he was trying to get out of his head.

He didn't expect her to roughly grab his shoulder and turn him around. It was the first time she'd ever touched him on purpose, even before he'd left to join the Brotherhood. He hadn't thought such a small person could apply that much force, either.

"You're just leaving again?" she hissed at him, livid.

"So what if I am?" he shot back, crossing his arms.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm not letting you walk out of here."

"You can't do anything to stop me," he sneered, walking around her.

Kitty reached out and violently shoved him to stand before her again. "You're not going anywhere."

"Why the hell not, Kitty?" he spat, shaking himself free of her hold. "You don't give a damn about me, and I don't give a damn about you. So why should you care if I go?"

She went very still, and he laughed bitterly.

"Yeah. That's what I thought," he said, and walked around her again.

He had barely gone five steps when he felt it. That dizzy, tingling sensation he got whenever he walked through part of her. And suddenly, she was emerging through him and standing in front of him again.

"Don't go," she said, and he was surprised by the raw edge in her voice. She sounded almost desperate, something like a mix of sadness and fear and fury.

"Why?" he asked, without bitterness this time. Mentally, he kicked himself for not being stronger and just walking away. But he couldn't pretend that a part of him wasn't almost glad that she was trying to get him to stay.

"Because…" She turned her head to the side, biting her lip, looking angry at herself for reasons John couldn't fathom. "Because…"

"Because what?" He moved closer to her, and she took half a step back. What are you doing? his mind screamed at him. Just leave! And yet he couldn't move anywhere but towards her.

"Because damn it, John, I care!" she burst out furiously, chest heaving.

Taken aback, he stared at her, realising that her eyes were glittering a little too brightly in the darkness. She had tears in her eyes. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"You're the enemy. You abandoned us. You tried to kill us. And despite all of that, I care about you, even though I've tried everything not to! You think you can just leave now and not hurt anyone? Too late, John, because as much as I hate to admit it, you'll hurt me." She stopped, breathing heavily, staring at a spot on the floor somewhere to his left. And he realised that this was the reason why she avoided him and kept her distance like he was made of the flames he manipulated – she didn't want to feel the way she was feeling.

Well, they had something in common, then.

She lifted a hand slowly and haltingly reached out. He felt the touch of her cool fingers on the bare skin of his forearm, and resisted the urge to close his eyes.

"Don't go," she pleaded softly.

He licked his lips, wanting desperately to crush her in a fierce kiss. He wanted it so badly he could see it happening in his head, could already taste her mouth.

But in the end, he knew that he couldn't do it without losing himself in the process. She had already taken hold of him, and if he didn't escape, they'd both end up getting burned.

"I have to," he said to her, gently removing her hand from his arm. Almost as an afterthought, he lifted it to his lips and placed a soft kiss on her knuckles, just one gesture to let her know that he cared. And that was why he was leaving.

So he stepped around her and walked away, leaving her alone in the darkness.