Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters, locations and concepts belonging to Marvel Entertainment. No claim of ownership is made or implied by me in using their property. No part of this work is intended for material gain of any kind. It is intended for the sole purpose of creative exercise and the entertainment of others.

This story contains mild spoilers from issue #22 of Astonishing X-Men and is not intended to conform to any strict continuity.
The empty room suddenly felt too spacious, standing in it alone. It was strange how, even after Rachel had left, it never seemed quite so oppressively large. Even her modest studio had always been a place that she'd shared. It was far too much to think about having all too herself. It needed other people's belongings, their sounds, anything. Room to herself was not something she desired.

Soon she'd have her things in Peter's room. That would fix the problem, she hoped. She'd once again have that comfort she'd grown so attached to over the years.

Except being alone wasn't really the problem. It wasn't a conceptual void pressing at her from all sides like a giant's fist, it was a specific one. It just felt wrong without the flutter of small, leathery wings or the distinct and, to her, pleasing aroma of the smoke that accompanied dragonflame. Not once since her return from the Breakworld had she scratched behind his horns or listened to the little noises he always made, such expressive sounds that always made his moods so clear.

And yet he could talk. Possibly from the start, for all she knew. She never wanted to hear those deceiving grunts and coos ever again. She didn't even want to see him. He wasn't just her dragon. She'd never really thought of him as a mere pet. He was a friend. She was bonded to him on a level nobody understood yet none could deny.

He was a traitor.

She'd been crushed when Agent Brand gave her the news. So stunned she could barely speak. It was a miracle she'd managed to get even "Wow," out. So much had been happening at once, and one more thing like that had been more than she was prepared for.

Kitty gave her bottom lip a little chew and brushed her mouse-brown hair out her face. Steeling herself, she took slow, purposeful steps toward the door until her hand was on the knob. She paused long enough to give the room one last look and stepped into the hallway. Memories and sentiment weren't going to change what he did.

It was a short trip to Peter's room, and the halls were curiously silent. That was fine with her. She wasn't really in the mood for conversation, or even the usual pleasantries that came with passing others. Her own thoughts were distracting enough as it was.

She froze as soon as she stepped into Peter's room, her hazel eyes becoming hard and accusing as she settled on the small, purple creature lying on Peter's bed. "What are you doing here?" she said automatically, though it was all she could do not to hold out her arms and invite him to fly into them.

Lockheed lifted his head toward her, beady eyes looking pained and apologetic. "Coooo?" he said in a barely audible voice.

"Stop that!" Kitty barked, scowling with irritation. The dragon flinched and slinked backward, his thin, flexible neck bending so that his head could droop submissively while he whined almost helplessly. The young woman shook her head and balled her hands into fists before placing them on her hips. "You're not fooling anyone with that," she chided. "Not anymore. From now on if you want to lie to me you'll have to do it in one of those 'more languages than the Professor,' or better yet, stop lying to me period."

For a moment it seemed the little alien might blush, if the rough skin was actually possible of such an act. He paced uncertainly on the soft blanket, his light movements catlike while still distinctly pensive and occasionally punctuated with furtive glances in Kitty's direction. He snorted a puff of smoke through his nostrils in frustration, a tiny cloud of grey midnight.

"Fine," Kitty said, one eyebrow arching dangerously. Her hands lifted away from her hips and fell back against her outer thighs with a decisive slap. She marched over to the bedroom window and lifted the lower half. There was no screen to divide the room from the air outside. "If that's your choice, leave. Spy. Traitor." She extended one hand toward the window, finger pointing in the appropriate direction.

Lockheed shifted on the bed and did a backwards belly crawl away from the window, whimpering again. "Talk, damn it!" Kitty snapped. "That British git's never going to let me live this down, and if I'm going to have to put up with his 'I told you so's' every time I see him I should at least get to hear what your voice sounds like."

"And after that, then what?" a cool, sophisticated voice said from the doorway. Kitty swung her eyes over to see Emma standing there like a bemused sophisticate, clad in white and looking down her nose. "Do you intend to proceed with banishing him from your sight regardless?"

Kitty shot her a look that might have caused the former White Queen to burst into flames. "I'm not going to just forgive him after what he did," she said in a hard voice.

"Oh, I know," Emma said in mock sympathy as she sauntered into the room and rested her hip against one corner of Peter's bed. Kitty shot another glare, this time directly at that hip, as if it had no business in contact with anything relating to Peter. Emma paid her no mind, her attention focused on the miserable looking creature on the bed. "Appalling, what he's done, violating our trust like that. Telling Brand and her associates at S.W.O.R.D. what's been happening at the mansion was clearly much worse than the things I did right before our help was enlisted in dealing with Breakworld." Ice-blue eyes lifted their way to look at Kitty with calm indifference.

Kitty stiffened. "If you think you're off the hook over that…"

"Wouldn't dream of it, Dear," Emma said, tracing a lazy finger along the blanket while turning back to regard Lockheed. "And yet I don't see you trying to usher me through an open window."

The younger woman made a show of tilting her head a bit and pursing her lips thoughtfully. "Defenestration. Yes. I'll add that to the list."

Emma lifted an amused eyebrow. "Splendid. I applaud both your diligence and impartiality."

"I know what you're trying to do, Emma, and you can just forget it," Kitty said, slicing at the air with one hand. "I expected you to betray us. But him?" An accusing finger found its way toward Lockheed, who backed his way to the headboard and looked trapped and ashamed. "I thought I knew him, but I didn't. None of us did. Not once. Not ever." Each word seemed to etch itself into Kitty's face until it was a picture of misery.

The sound of someone clearing their throat drew the attention of both women back to the door. There, Rogue was leaning against the frame, using one arm bent at the elbow for support. "That so, Kitty?" the southern woman said. "Lordy, don't I feel silly, then. Here I was feeling upset about all the things Remy's done, all the way back to helping the Marauders. Not to mention my Momma trying to seduce nearly all the friends I've got and then trying to kill them and everyone else I know. But I see now that that don't even compare."

"Some room if you please," a British voice declared from behind Rogue and she stepped into the room to allow Betsy to join them. "You're both still comparing apples to oranges. Lockheed spied on us, and if anyone can speak to how unforgivable that is, it would be me. It was ages before I told any of you that Mojo had given me eyes that allowed him to witness everything we did, after all."

Kitty stared at the three women, her frown teetering at the edges before releasing an exasperated sigh. "That's-"

A light breeze heralded the arrival of yet another, interrupting Kitty before she could complete her thought. Ororo stepped inside, while the other women greeted her with smiles of varying degrees of warmth. "Betsy, what you kept from us may have matched the nature of Lockheed's crime," the tall woman said, long legs carrying her toward Kitty. "But we must also take into account the personal element this represents."

"Exactly!" Kitty says, sending a pointed look to the others. Her satisfaction with Ororo's agreement, however, was spoiled the moment she reached her and placed one gentle hand on Kitty's shoulder.

"Which is why my decision to allow the world to think the X-Men died in Dallas, and to hide the truth from all our dearest friends, is a more appropriate example. I know how much that hurt you, and I regret it, Kitten."

Kitty stared up at her former mother-figure, small hints of moisture building near the edges of her eyes. "No, that's-"

Again she was interrupted. Heavy footsteps and a grunt accompanied Cain Marko as he squeezed into the room. "Ancient history, though," he said, scratching pensively at his short reddish hair. "Just recently I lied ta all my teammates about taking the Gem of Cyttorak back with me. I violated their trust, and it was hard enough ta earn it in the first place."

"I never betrayed anyone," A light voice suddenly said from the doorway.

Emma shot an exasperated look at the speaker. "Robert!" she said sharply.

The mutant known as Iceman continued, a lighthearted and wry grin on his lips. "Although Alex killed two relationships I thought were going to work out for me…"

"This isn't helping."

"If she does get rid of the dragon, can I have it?"

"That's quite enough."

"Oh come on, it works great with my last name."

"Are you even listening to me?"

"Of course, the whole breathing fire thing could be a problem with my powers…"

"Out. Now."

Bobby shrugged and slid away from the doorway, only to pop his head back in an instant later. "Oooh! I was mind-controlled once!"

Cain and the four women visiting Kitty rolled their eyes in unison. "We're not counting mind-control Robert," Emma informed him. "We'll be here all day if we open that can of worms."

Bobby shrugged. "Oh, well, never mind then." He again retreated from the doorway, the last sign of him being his voice as he tossed in a final, "Alex is still a jerk, though."

"Is it my turn, then?" the next to arrive said. Peter walked into the room and put his hand on the window Kitty had opened. He slowly slid it shut while Kitty shook her head at him.

"Peter, no," she said in a slightly cracked voice.

The muscular Russian gazed through the window, as if watching the memories play before him. "When I decided I had given up on Xavier's Dream, when I chose to join Magneto and his Acolytes, I attacked one of my own comrades from behind. My grief and desperation could never excuse such a dishonorable and cowardly act."

A tear managed to roll down Kitty's cheek while others threatened to join it. She reached out to him, placing her palm against one thick arm. "That was different," the brunette insisted, though her voice betrayed her doubt, the words feeling hollow in her throat. "We all forgave you, even Bishop."

"Exactly," a strong voice bordering on venerable said. Professor Xavier walked into the room and made his way over to where Lockheed was watching the discussion with nervous interest. He gave the dragon a long, measured look. "I myself have violated nearly everyone's trust multiple times. And in manners both casual and sacred. The chance to atone for those errors in judgment is precious to me."

More X-Men paraded into the room, greeting Kitty while they chose a spot to observe the scene. A few seemed to be gathering thoughts on their own stories to add to the mix. "My, but it is becoming a bit crowded in here, isn't it?" Betsy remarked.

Kitty squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her hands against her head in frustration, as if to banish them all. "All right, I get it! Why are you all doing this?" Kitty sputtered, drawing herself up in a fragile show of stubbornness.

Emma quirked an eyebrow at her. "I should think it was obvious, Katherine. Because your friendship with Lockheed is one of the few constants any of us have had over the years. None of us wish to see you set that aside over such a trifle which he clearly felt compelled to do."

"Katya, what Lockheed did," Peter said, placing both hands on Kitty's shoulders. "Did it actually bring harm to you, or anyone you cared about?"

She tried to meet his eyes, but found herself looking away, toward the window instead. "Not really," she conceded. "But if he could talk-"

"What difference would that really make, Dear?" Emma said, cutting her off. "We've all suspected he has a strong mind. No telepath has ever been able to penetrate it, after all. More importantly, has that ever kept the two of you from understanding each other?"

Kitty tried glare at her, but the woman's face remained patient and impassive. Failing that, she swept her gaze to the others, who simply looked at her quietly, a few with slight smiles of encouragement. Heaving a sigh, she let her eyes drop back down to Lockheed, who was watching her, still pressed against Peter's headboard, but his neck craning toward her nervously.

"You're a very bad dragon," Kitty said slowly, and Lockheed began to cringe until he noticed the corner of her mouth quirk a little. A moment later it grew into a reluctant grin as she added, "But I'll try to forgive you."

Lockheed unfurled his wings and gave them a few bats until he was aloft. He flew over to her and Kitty offered her shoulder to him. Tiny purple legs touched base, and he settled into place, still looking at her with beady eyes that came dangerously close to a 'sad puppy' face.

Kitty winced with a smile. "You know that doesn't work with me," she lied.

The dragon let out a tiny snort that sounded relived, and vaguely amused. He bent his head toward her and gave her cheek a tiny lick, drawing another giggle from her.

Kitty drew her other hand over and lifted Lockheed away from her shoulder so she could wrap him into an affectionate hug. "I missed you, too."

"So, can I have him?"