By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I don't really know where this came from but this pairing grew on me. R/R.

Her hands are trembling as she enters the gas station. She doesn't know why she's doing this. It's a silly, stupid thing to do. There's no reason for it and Kitty Pryde can't recall ever doing anything without a good reason behind it. She's too smart for this.

Kitty browses around, dutifully studying the vast array of snack foods as she attempts to rationalize just what exactly she's about to do. She's officially eighteen now and that makes her an adult. She tells herself that now she can do anything she damn well pleases because it's not as if there's anyone around anymore to make her decisions for her. So why the hell is she settling a stupid dare she agreed to on a whim two years ago?

"As if I need reminders," mumbles Kitty as her eyes scan the small selection of cigarette lighters. John Allerdyce had been particularly arrogant that day so Kitty decided to deflate his ego by implying that he was too much of a coward to smoke cigarettes despite his compulsive need to carry a lighter and the fact that smoking helped build his reputation as the bad boy of Xavier's. John had retorted with the fact that Kitty didn't smoke either, a fact that Kitty explained by saying she wasn't yet of legal age to do so but when she turned eighteen she might just try it out to see what it was like. John quickly decreed that on her eighteenth birthday if Kitty "Pure as Driven Snow" Pryde smoked one whole cigarette in front of him then he would grant her any request she liked within reason. Faced with such an option, Kitty could hardly say no to John's offer.

"Now or never," mutters Kitty as she walks up to the counter and stares past the girl to study the cigarette cartons. Kitty tries not to think about John, or Pyro as he seems to prefer these days. It's become a reflex for her since he left the Institute to join Magneto. John doesn't really deserve to occupy space in her brain these days yet somehow he manages to sneak in. Kitty tells herself she's too smart for this, too smart to hope that he'll come back. She's set to graduate at the top of her class and can probably pick and choose from the top colleges in the country provided the administrators don't ask too many questions. She's too smart to keep torturing herself this way.

"You gonna buy something?" asks the girl at the counter.

"Do you smoke?" asks Kitty in return, "I know that's kinda personal but I . . ."

"First-timer," replies the girl with a knowing grin, "Yeah, I smoke sometimes. Lemme pick you a brand."

"Just a pack," explains Kitty, "I have this stupid dare going with a . . . friend. I'm just going to smoke one."

"Famous last words," says the cashier as she puts the pack on the counter. Kitty takes her wallet out of her jacket pocket and pulls out a ten dollar bill along with her driver's license. She's throwing away perfectly good money for something she'll barely use and it's all because of John Allerdyce.

Kitty feels like John is responsible for a lot of things these days. Bobby hasn't been the same since Alcatraz and Rogue isn't around to help him. Kitty knows her other friends are still dealing with it, Jubilee in particular. John's departure hurt Kitty worst of all even though Kitty's too smart to ever fully admit it.

"Thanks," says Kitty as the cashier hands her a mixture of coins and dollar bills after checking her ID and taking her money. Kitty takes her license and the pack of cigarettes, stuffing both into her jacket pocket along with her change before heading out into the crisp air of the night. Fall is coming soon and the air is turning cooler. Kitty walks the streets of Salem Center until she comes to a small but nice park. She takes a seat on a bench and pulls out her pack of cigarettes along with a lighter she stole from John's private collection the day she knew he was gone for good.

"I dunno what I hate more," admits Kitty as she pulls out a cigarette from the pack and puts it to her lips, "The fact that you're not here or the asinine things you'd say if you were here." She flicks the lighter and watches the flame dance before her eyes. She doesn't owe John Allerdyce a single damn thing especially when he broke her heart. She's definitely too smart to fall for bad boys with hopeless futures.

"I was wondering where that one went," admits a hauntingly familiar voice. Kitty jumps at the sound, the cigarette falling from her lips and into her lap. John Allerdyce smirks as he takes a seat next to her on the bench.

"You were following me?" asks Kitty as she resets the cigarette and puts the lighter to its other end.

"Wanted to see if you'd go through with it," admits John, "Have to say I'm impressed." Kitty wants nothing more than to shove the lighter, the cigarettes, and possibly her foot up John's ass. Instead, she takes a practiced drag of her cigarette, feeling the toxic fumes pollute her clean, spotless lungs. John almost has a laughing fit as she begins to cough.

"I hate you," says Kitty matter-of-factly as she finishes coughing, taking the cigarette out of her mouth and simply holding it as if she's gathering the courage to take another drag.

"You don't have to smoke it all," assures John.

"You really don't have a clue, do you?" asks Kitty as she glares at him, "Maybe you do. Maybe you just don't give a damn. Is that it, John? Is that your reason for pissing away your friendships with Bobby and Rogue and me?"

"Rogue was never my friend," states John coldly, "Bobby, well, I'm sure you saw Alcatraz. We weren't very friendly." Kitty takes another drag, this time with less coughing. John rolls his eyes before taking the cigarette from her mouth and grabbing the rest of the pack as well.

"What're you doing?" asks Kitty as she watches John enlarge the flames from her cigarette, molding them into a ball in his hand that burns the cigarettes but not his flesh.

"You win the dare," says John, "You'll thank me later. What do you want me to do?"

"Was I your friend?" asks Kitty quietly as she watches the smoke rise up from the ball of fire in John's hand.

"That your request?" asks John in return as he dissipates the fire and pours the ash onto the ground.

"No," replies Kitty, "I just . . . wanted to know."

"You were," admits John, "Things are different now."

"Only because you made them change," retorts Kitty bitterly, "You could've come back, John. Things could've gone back to normal in time." Kitty doesn't like change. A few days ago, her parents told her they signed their divorce papers. Kitty's smart enough that she saw it coming a mile away but it still hit her hard. Life just seems to move so fast and nothing stays the same.

"Did you honestly think things would never change?" asks John, "Did you honestly think that you could walk through fire without getting burned? Life hurts, Kitty. It's just the way the world works and I thought you were smart enough to see that."

"I guess I'm not so smart after all," admits Kitty, "I shouldn't have wasted my time thinking about you."

"What do you want me to do?" asks John.

"Kiss me," says Kitty after thinking about it for a few seconds, "Kiss me like you actually love me."

"Not what I expected," replies John with an arch of his eyebrow, "I thought you'd make me come back to the Institute with you."

"I've got a cell phone in my pocket," reminds Kitty, "If I wanted you back, I'd call Logan or Ms. Munroe and they'd grab you."

"Yeah and I've got a very capable, very fit body that I can use to run away," retorted John, "Why do you want me to kiss you?"

"Maybe I just want you to keep a promise for once," says Kitty, "Just do it, John. I don't want to take up too much of your valuable time."

"Fine then, birthday girl," replies John as he leans closer to her, "Have it your way." Their lips gently brush against one another's. John takes his time, slowly opening his mouth and letting Kitty's lips move with his. Kitty likens the kiss to a spark that suddenly turns into a bonfire and she wonders if John is deliberately doing things this way. The thought is fleeting and soon neither of them wonders anything at all. Kitty reflexively whimpers as John finally pulls away, her throat emitting small mewling noises akin to the animal that shares her name.

"Stay," whispers Kitty, "John, please."

"Happy birthday," replies John quietly, "Don't say I never gave you anything." Kitty silently pleads with him as he stands up and walks away. She wants nothing more than to run after him, follow him like some stray cat as he walks down the road to total self-destruction. She hates herself for having such feelings towards him, towards a traitor who wouldn't hesitate to kill even her for Magneto's misguided cause.

Kitty Pryde always thought she was smart but really she doesn't know anything. She wasn't smart enough to keep her heart from breaking and she wasn't smart enough to avoid falling for someone who would only hurt her in the end. Kitty Pryde isn't all that smart and it's only now as John Allerdyce walks out of her life for the second time that she really understands that.