I'd Walk Through Hell

Prologue

He flicked the lighter on and off, staring at the flame and thinking, much to his disgust, of her. Now that the war was done, or at least on hold until the so-called cure wore off (which he was sure it would; even his rudimentary scientific training told him that a serum made from the blood or DNA or whatever from a child whose talents only worked in close proximity would never last forever), he had nothing left to do. Nowhere to go. The Brotherhood was disbanded, seeing as Magneto was out of commission along with Mystique, who probably hated all their guts by now anyway, and he had no intention of leading anyone. Pyro worked like the fire he controlled: alone, fierce, and aloof. He, like the flames, had no allies and all kinds of enemies.

Not that that really mattered, of course. He was good at laying low, and that's what he'd do until Magneto came back.

Unfortunately, now that he had no war to fight, he had lots of spare time... most of which was spent thinking about a certain X-girl who could walk through walls.

Kitty Pryde.

It was funny. He'd never even told her how he felt about her. Everyone thought he'd had a thing for Bobby's girl, Rogue, but Rogue wasn't his style. He liked flash and confidence, both of which Kitty had (which was weird, seeing as she was such a nerd), and then there was the whole touching thing. He couldn't help it. Pyro liked to be able to kiss his girlfriend.

Not that Kitty Pryde had ever been, would ever be, his girlfriend.

As he was saying, he'd had a crush on the phaser for... well, who knew how long. There was something about her that just... drew him in, not that he'd ever shown it. She was like that. Pure and sweet, completely opposite him. And he'd thought that he was over her, but then seeing her at Alcatraz... god, that had packed a punch. She'd been so strong and determined, and it had sent a flutter through his stomach before he crushed it away and set about the work of destruction.

Pyro scoffed and stuck his finger in the flame of his lighter, careful not to use his powers. He winced at the sharp, almost unbearable sting of the fire, but held it in there until the weak thoughts of Miss Pryde were gone. He couldn't afford to think about her. He shouldn't think about her! She was an X-Geek! He was over that whole deal, anyway. Probably over the Brotherhood's deal, too, actually. Come to think of it, all Pyro really wanted was to burn things.

And to kiss-

No.

He rolled his eyes and stood from the park bench where he sat, stretching. It was mid-afternoon in October, and a beautiful day in New York City. Central Park was filled with people, humans and non, he expected. However, he'd have to go soon before the stores closed; he needed more lighter fluid.

As Pyro strolled across the green to the pavement of the sidewalk, he paused at the loud, tinkling sound of a girl laughing. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of two teenagers, probably a year or so younger than him, sitting on a rock formation and watching him, giggling. One of them said something to her friend, and they both smiled widely at him.

Once, not so long ago, John Allerdyce would have smiled back, winked maybe, and strutted off with a jaunty wave.

Now, Pyro closed his eyes briefly to fight away the sudden and unwelcome image of Rogue and Kitty, engulfed in flames, their laughter turning to screams. He hadn't hurt either of them, but they were familiar faces to put to the burning bodies of those he had hurt. Those he had killed. But he did push the image away, and built up his walls again, giving the girls a casual salute before continuing on. He'd killed people who deserved to die, and that was that.

As he rounded a curve in the path, Pyro found himself alone. This was unusual, especially for such a crowded day. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket, scuffing a stone off the path.

Suddenly, there was a sharp, unfamiliar sound. That was all the warning he got before he was on his knees, hands to his temples, wordlessly screaming in agony as a huge, rough presence shoved indelicately into his mind. It felt like needles of ice, so cold they burned, stabbing through his barriers like paper.

"Get-out-of-my-head," he managed to gasp, bowing over his bent knees in pain. He felt a hand fist in his hair, jerking his head up. Through red-hazed eyes, Pyro saw a woman with long blond hair, dressed all in white. Her blue eyes bored into him, and her smile was cruel.

"Tell me," the woman said crisply, "where is Katherine Pryde?" There was a moment of complete shock before he fisted his hands in his pockets and felt his lighter bite into his palm.

"What the fuck are you talking about," Pyro gritted. The pain in his head had lessened slightly, as if she actually expected him to tell her. The woman in white cocked her head contemplatively.

"I'm looking for the Kitty-cat," she said. "You happened to be broadcasting thoughts of her far and wide. Now, where is she? Tell me before I rip the answer out of you!" To punctuate this, she sent a stab of agony through his skull. A part of Pyro wanted to protect the girl he'd loved for so long, and the bigger part was just really. Pissed. Off. So he smirked painfully, and spat at her feet.

He gathered his strength, pitting all his mental energy against her in one mighty thrust in a desperate move that Mystique had taught him, and lit his lighter.

Pyro sent a fireball straight through the pocket of his jacket that hit his attacker in the chest. She fell back, shrieking, and he climbed to his feet and staggered into a run that got stronger as he got farther away.

There was only one thought on his mind as he left the woman in white farther and farther behind him: I've gotta tell Kitty.

Chapter One

Bobby was manning the guardhouse at the mansion that night, thanks to a little accident involving mud and Logan's motorcycle. He still blamed Rogue... she'd started the mudfight, after all. (Not that Logan would ever punish her anyway, she being his... what, little sister figure? Some people had all the luck. Not that Bobby wanted to be close to Logan...) It was supposed to end with the two of them, covered in mud, actually able to touch and... but that was a teenager's dirty mind, for you. He smiled a little, thinking of Rogue. The two of them had gradually rebuilt their relationship after she'd gotten the cure, and now he really thought everything was going to be okay. Magneto was gone, Storm had taken over the mansion until a doctor whose name he always forgot- Moira Something, maybe- figured out what was going on with the Professor's mind in someone else's body, and the students were recovering nicely from the attack at Alcatraz.

Suddenly, Bobby's mind was dragged away from the past by a sound from outside the gates. He looked at the screens, and his jaw dropped.

There was a figure kneeling before the speaker, one hand pressed against the button that turned it on. Bobby could make out a jacket, jeans, and a downward-bent blond head. And a very familiar-looking jaws-decorated wrist igniter on the hand that was pressing the speaker button. Bobby laughed in disbelief before pressing the 'SPEAK' button and leaning down.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't John Allerdyce," he said mockingly, wondering how his ex-best friend had the nerve to show his face here.

Only... only he wasn't showing his face. He still hadn't looked up. Frowning a little, Bobby looked closer at the screen. John was breathing hard, and as Bobby squinted, he could see the young man shaking visibly. Bobby jerked back, his elbow accidentally hitting the 'VOLUME UP' switch on the speaker.

"Fuck," he heard faintly. "God, gotta- oh, man- gotta warn 'er... ah, Jesus!" John was muttering to himself, his words disjointed and wracked with pain. He was gasping in between phrases, as if it was terribly hard to force the words out.

"What the hell," Bobby asked softly, staring at the monitor as John suddenly jerked his head up and stared straight into the camera. Bobby's eyes widened in horror and shock as he gaped at the sight of his once-friend, now-enemy's face, twisted with agony and desperation. Tracks of blood ran down his pale cheeks from the corners of his eyes and a single dribble of crimson ran down from his right nostril. "Jesus Christ," Bobby cried, hitting the 'HELP' button with a shaking fist.

"Whaddaya want," came Logan's gruff tones.

"Get- oh my God- get someone out here! Logan, get Storm!"

"What's going on?" Logan now sounded crisp and completely awake. Bobby leaned back against the counter, unable to look away from John's pleading face.

"It's John," he said slowly.

"Who?"

"It's Pyro," Bobby corrected.

"Pyro? Why the hell is he here? And why the hell should we help him?"

"Just get Storm!" Truthfully, Bobby was asking himself the same questions... or, he had been, before he realized that something was very, very wrong with John Allerdyce. And, even now, he knew that John was a killer, and not to be trusted. But there was something in that shaking form, those disjointed, hopeless words, that refused to be ignored.

"What's wrong with him?" Rogue was leaning against the door frame of the infirmary as Dr. Hank Macoy bent over the sedated body of one John Allerdyce. Pyro looked completely different than he had the last time she'd seen him; his hair was matted with sweat, his face pale and still, the blood wiped away. The expression of mocking superiority or burning danger was gone, leaving him looking helpless and hopeless and much more like the nineteen-year-old kid that he really was. He didn't move in his drugged sleep, and Rogue shivered. He looked so... broken. "Hank? What the hell happened to him?" Ordinarily, she didn't talk like that, especially not to Hank. But Pyro had once been one of her best friends, and even if he was a traitor and a murderer, something about seeing him so blank and still made her stomach churn. She would hate him when he was healthy and fiery and able to fight back. After all, who the hell knew what Magneto had said to him to make him join? Rogue knew all about being used, and she wasn't unwilling to give Pyro a chance to be John again.

Hank looked over, his face solemn.

"I'm not sure. If only the Professor were here... or Jean. But I think he's been attacked psychically."

"What? You mean, like someone broke into his mind?"

"Yes, I think so." Rogue straightened, coming closer to the bed. She looked down at the prone body, and chewed her lower lip.

"Is he gonna be okay?"

"Well, his vital signs are all fine. He lost some blood, but not too much. In fact, as far as I can tell, right now, he's just sleeping normally. With the help of a sedative, of course. Before, he was far too incoherent and delirious for me to examine him properly." Rogue raised a brow, tilting her head to peer at John's still features.

"You sure? He looks awful still for everything to just be normal." Hank shrugged.

"I've done the best I can for him. When he wakes up, we'll be able to find out what, or who, did this to him. And what he's doing here, of all places."

"Bobby... Bobby said he was talking. Muttering things, I mean. Something about having to warn someone. Could that be why? He has to warn someone here at the institute? But why would Pyro want anything to do with any of us," she mused, gazing down at the arches of his brows.

"Well, we'll find out soon," Hank allowed, turning to rearrange some hand towels on a rack behind him. Suddenly, John's eyes flew open and Rogue jumped about a foot, one hand automatically reaching to pull off a glove that was no longer there.

"Where is she?!" John was trying to sit up, but failing. He looked around wildly, his eyes so wide that the whites were visible all the way around the irises. Hank bent swiftly over him, attaching the padded wrist-restraints without much of a struggle from the weakened Pyro. "What the hell are you doing? Where is she!" He looked down at his bound hands, seemed to deem them unimportant, and went back to searching the room. Rogue stared at him warily.

"Where's who?"

"Kitty! Where. Is. Kitty?!"

"Kitty?" Rogue was nonplussed, unsure whether or not she should answer. "She's not here," she said finally, just as Hank slid a needle into the crook of John's tense elbow. He slumped back down onto the mattress, an odd expression of what Rogue could have sworn was relief on his face before his eyes slid closed.

"Don't let that bitch find her," he mumbled, too low for anyone to hear clearly. Rogue caught the first part, and wasn't sure if he was talking about Kitty or someone else. She frowned, backing away as Hank tightened the restraints a bit. He looked over at her as she edged for the door.

"I should have secured him before. I just didn't think. I'm sorry he startled you, Marie."

"Yeah, I, um... I've gotta go." She exited the infirmary without looking back, and headed for a phone.

"Hello?"

"Kitty? Is that you?" Rogue leaned against the wall of her bedroom, her mind racing.

"Yeah. Rogue?" Kitty was at home visiting her family, and had not expected a call from anyone, much less Rogue. After the other mutant had gotten the cure, and Bobby had gone back to her with open arms, the relationship between the two girls had been... a bit strained.

"Yes, it's me. Um, Kitty? I have to tell you something."

"What is it?" Kitty frowned. Rogue sounded stressed and uncertain, and it was making Kitty uncomfortable.

"Uh... John came back."

"What?!" Before the whole thing with Bobby, Kitty had had a massive crush on the resident bad boy of the institute, which only Rogue and Jubilee knew about. After the fire-manipulator had left to join Magneto, Kitty had locked away those feelings and turned to sweet, attentive Bobby Drake.

"Last night. There was something wrong with him."

"What do you mean?"

"I... I don't know. He just showed up outside the gate, shaking and mumbling and bleeding from the eyes."

"What!"

"Hank sedated him and restrained him in the med lab. He woke up a few minutes ago, just for a moment before Hank put him out again, and he... he asked for you."

"He asked for me?" Kitty was feeling a bit stupid, repeating everything Rogue said, but she was in shock. Pyro had asked for her?

"He wanted to know where you were. And before, when he was just muttering random things, Bobby said that he said something about warning someone. And when I told him you weren't here, he looked... relieved, I swear to God!"

"So you think he was, like, here to warn me? Why would Pyro have done that?"

"I don't know. None of us do. It's just... I think you'd better come back here and talk to him." Rogue didn't know if she was doing the right thing, but she didn't know what else to do.

"I'll come as soon as I can," Kitty replied, heart pounding. She was going to see John again. She was excited. She was uncertain. She was petrified.

What would she find in that med lab? On Alcatraz, that hadn't been the boy she'd fallen for shooting fiery cars at them. That had been someone deadly and heartless, someone who couldn't care less how many he incinerated.

But she had to go, she knew. She had to find out what was going on.