Written almost nine months ago for the X-Men movieverse challenge. The prompt was Kitty gen, with Kitty using her powers for the first time.

Shortcuts and Bypasses, or, How We Get From Point A to Point E

The first time it happens, she is alone.

She likes to think of herself as an average teenager, someone who likes reality television and cell phones and being with her friends and shopping at the mall. It's because she's being denied three of those four things that she storms into the den angrily and throws herself onto the couch.

She's overestimated the distance before, landing with her shoulder smashed into the arm or underestimated it so that her head makes contact with the cushions and her feet dangle over the edge, but she's never sunk through it. At least, not until today.

There are certain parts of a sofa that one should never see. There's also about three dollars worth in change which will supplement her meager (by her standards) allowance, if she can only get to them.

Apparently, falling in was no problem; getting out is a different story and requires some leverage. When she does make it out, nickels and dimes in hand, she crawls on her hands and knees away from her temporary prison and there is a moment of complete and utter shock. Her mouth goes dry and she cannot move.

She just fell into the couch. Not on or off, but in.

Something is definitely wrong with this.

It is twelve noon on a Sunday. Her parents are weeding the garden. She is supposed to be at the mall but a low (by her parent's standards) grade in Chemistry is keeping home.

She is alone, and will one day appreciate this fact, because others have not been so lucky.

The second time, there is a witness. It is her cat.

This time she walks through the glass door from the backyard to the kitchen. She does not even notice until her cat runs away from her, and she turns to find the door closed behind her; not open, unmoving and suddenly frightening.

When she tries to put her hand through the glass, she slams her knuckles into the solid mass. They hurt for half an hour and she puts ice on them before trying to find the damned cat.

She wonders what exactly is going on here.

The third time, her friends watch as she walks through another door, this time in a fitting room at the mall. Once again, she does not notice the disruption until she turns to see her friends looking at her strangely in the mirror.

None of them talk about it, and she does not say anything.

When she arrives home, there is talk of anti-mutant protests and legislation on the news and for the firs time, she wonders if that is what she is. Her father says nothing about mutants, and her mother shakes her head sadly.

She goes upstairs and tries to put her hand through the wall. It takes her four tries and she succeeds when she concentrates hard enough.

There is a man at her house one day. He is in a wheelchair, telling stories about how well she's done in school and how much better she will do at his school. Her parents smile and nod and look encouragingly from him to her and back again.

He asks to speak in private and her parents agree. He tells her different things about a school for people like her, controlling her powers and being with her peers.

She wonders how she can control something she doesn't understand.

Her parents agree that it is a splendid idea. They want the best for their only daughter.

She wonders if this is the best.

Inside her head, the man tells her that it may not be the best, but it is the safest.

The days leading up to her departure, it happens more and more frequently. She falls down the stairs and gets stuck in the bottom step. Again, no one is home. No one is ever home.

She struggles to get out and eventually goes slack, falling into the basement and – luckily – onto a pile of boxes full of her baby clothes and toys. She cries, feeling stupid and fifteen and thinks that i yes /i she is a mutant and hates whatever genetic malformation cursed her with this (she got an A in Biology, after all).

The next time, her mother watches as she walks through not one but two doors. She drops the plate she has been drying and stares in horror at her daughter, mutant manifested.

That night, at dinner, they don't talk about it but it's obvious that her father knows as well. They eat dinner in silence and when she gets up to clear the table, her father grabs her hand.

"We don't love you any less, or differently," he tells her. "We love her just the way you are."

Dishes slip out of her grip by accident, not through her hands. She thinks there is something big and metaphorical she may be missing here, but she lets them hug her.

She walks through three more doors that night, because she can and she will.

Her parents drive her to the school, since it is just two hours away. They talk about movies and sports and the stupidity of the cat on the way. They do not discuss politics or the anti-mutant legislation that is being discussed in the Senate which was in the paper this morning (the paper her father promptly crumpled up and threw in the trash). The closer they get to the school, the quieter they all become.

Three teachers await her and two of them look like they could be mutants. The third, a tall woman with red hair, looks normal. She tries very hard to like them, and when the man – he's cute – smiles at her, she feels a bit better even though she cannot see his eyes, just her own scared reflection in his sunglasses.

The teachers talk to her parents, and then she says her goodbyes and promises to visit. She hugs them and they kiss her and tell her they love her.

She has to share a room with another girl. Her name is Jubilee, which she thinks sounds funny but doesn't say. There is another bed with no occupant, but Jubilee tells her that people come in and out of Mutant High all the time.

She can't even unpack before there is a crowd at the door, all eager and waiting to talk to the new girl. She feels a bit special, but when they ask her what her power is she is nervous.

"What's yours?" she replies, and the boy flicks a lighter and there is a tiny spark then a ball of flame, carefully controlled within the palm of his hand.

Suddenly, she is not so different anymore.

"So," he asks, "what's yours?"

She stands, and smiles, and concentrates hard.

She walks into the closet, and back out again.

They stare at her in shock, for a moment, and then they clap. They tell her how great that power is, that she can steal food and answer keys to exams and she smiles. At dinner, served at a large and pretty table in a dining room, a boy named Bobby sits next to her and asks her questions about her home. He is cute and she smiles. Maybe this Mutant High isn't so bad after all.