Heartbreaker

Written by Darkstorm5000

Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.

xxx

With a growling roar that was accompanied by the sound of high-performance rubber being generously left behind on a relatively warm asphalt surface, Kitty Pryde made her way with a strong sense of urgency down the semi-rural roads that surrounded Bayville's modest metropolitan epicenter. Or rather, judging by the fact that the speedometer on this black and white-striped motorcycle was currently registering at nearly double the posted speed-limit for this area, Kitty was riding like a woman on a mission. But in her case, and given the particular set of circumstances that had just transpired, it was more like she was someone who was on her way and determined to get some answers.

As she tore down this roadway that was luckily and thankfully all but empty at this late evening hour, Kitty thought to herself that she should've known something was up earlier as soon as she saw Rogue, Kurt, and Wanda all standing out there in the sub-level corridor of the Institute that lay in between the Danger Room and the women's locker room.

Which, Kitty had just exited after changing into her team uniform and where she was on her way to go log some personal time in the X-Men's state-of-the-art training facility, when she ran into this small assemblage...

"So, what's with you guys' hangin' out down here?"

But, no one responded.

And in that same moment, Kitty had noticed that all present were wearing expressions of a very serious nature. Which for Rogue and Wanda was nothing out of the ordinary, but in Kurt's case was a most telling sign.

"Okay, what's the matter?"

As she immediately went into 'X-Girl Mode', Kitty's mind instinctively raced through several end-of-the-world-type scenarios that she and the rest of the X-Men regularly trained for. But, what she hadn't been prepared for was to hear the news that her closest friends were about to break to her.

"Something...something happened while we were in Atlantic City..."

As Wanda continued and proceeded to carefully summarize the events of the last several days for her, beginning with the Brotherhood's post-graduation trip to Atlantic City, Kitty was fully expecting to hear a festive tale where things had gotten a bit out of hand and ended with someone having been escorted to the local lockup for a brief, all-expense paid stay. But as Wanda soon got to the part where they went to one of the casino-hotels in this vacation hotspot to pick up Lance, after receiving a frantic-sounding phone call from him, Kitty couldn't believe what she heard next. And those standing there, who themselves were fully expecting some kind of wildly emotional, yet understandably justified outburst from Kitty upon learning what Lance had done, were equally as surprised by the calm manner in which she replied to them.

"Rogue. I need to borrow your bike."

"Uh, Kit...sure."

Handing her the keys to her motorcycle without hesitation, Kitty just as quickly took them from Rogue and turned towards the underground elevator shaft. It was a request that Kitty had made of her friend and roommate not because she didn't have a car of her own, but because fuel economy, safety ratings, and the best in modern German engineering had just taken a backseat in importance. No, what she needed right now was a mode of transport that would get her over to the Brotherhood House as quickly as possible. And since she knew that Professor Xavier would neither approve of, nor appreciate, the X-Jet being used for non-essential purposes, she went with next best option.

With, option-two turning out to be a fully restored and ostensibly retro-fitted Harley Davidson XL Evo, a monster of a motor-bike that had been rebuilt and given to Rogue as a birthday gift by none other than Logan himself. Knowing that fact, and the type of relationship that existed between Logan and his surrogate daughter, would help explain in his choice of this fully decked-out ride for her. Which itself bore striking similarities to one of his own bikes, and was why Logan knew that Rogue could more than handle it. Knowing who it had come from would also better explain the reason to why the word 'Stripes' had been artistically stenciled on both sides of her bike at its rear, enveloped within a set of white custom-designed racing stripes that ran the bike's entire length.

It was also why when Kitty, after phasing up through the Institute from its sub-levels like the phantom that her mutant powers reminded many of, and then continued on her way out to its exterior garage where she tore out of there on this borrowed cruiser, Logan was quick to assume that it was the bike's owner who was responsible for such a thunderously-revved peel out. Which resulted in him yelling accordingly from somewhere nearby, although just out of sight, as Kitty made it to the estate's perimeter gate hitting 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds flat...

"Dammit, Rogue! I thought I told you to slow it down before you screw around and get yourself another ticket!"

Which, was yet another telling sign…

xxx

Back in the present as Kitty now sped along towards the Brotherhood House, she tried to think about what she was going to say when she got there? While she searched for those particular words, the only thing that she could even come close to being able to verbalize was the overriding need to scream at the top of her lungs, just as her mentor had done mere moments ago after she made her departure from the grounds of the Xavier Institute. So when she finally made it to her destination, Kitty decided to go with that compelling urge and directed a high-pitched shriek at the object of her current disaffection.

"LANCE!!!"

Hopping off of this barely stopped bike and tossing her helmet down onto the ground beside it, Kitty was already storming up towards the house where Bayville's other-half in the mutant population resided when she made this vociferous announcement of her arrival. It was a notice that all inside couldn't help but hear, given the loud and obviously infuriated tone that this usually amiable young lady was displaying at the moment. In fact, it was such a stark change in Kitty's normal demeanor that none of the residents of this house were surprised when she forewent a courteous knock on the front door, and instead used her mutant powers to let herself in.

"LANCE!!! I know you're in here!"

Having seen his jeep still parked outside when she pulled up, Kitty was certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was here. And judging from the lack of response to her last assertion, Kitty was also just as sure that he was in here somewhere hiding from her.

Not that it mattered, though.

Gifted with the ability to phase her entire body through virtually any surface or material known to man, there were precious few places on Earth that an individual could go to hide from Kitty. And knowing full-well that their home came nowhere close to fitting in to that category, especially since Kitty had just called out for a second time for one Lance Alvers from within the very walls of their residence, the rest of the Brotherhood knew that they were in what equated to a do or die situation.

And not wanting to end up in the 'die' half of that particular equation, since it was obvious that Kitty wasn't going to just go away like they had been hoping for upon first seeing her pull up outside, and because it sounded like she was out for blood and they didn't want it to wind up being their own, the Brotherhood decided to go ahead and 'do' something about it first. Which is why as she stood in the area that lay just inside of the front door, Kitty was unexpectedly presented with a welcoming gift.

Of sorts.

Pietro, Fred, and Todd all suddenly rushed in from an adjoining room, the trio dragging their life-sized tribute for Kitty in with them.

"Here, he's all yours!"

And just as quickly as Pietro had spoken those words to Kitty, he and his cohorts dumped Lance down onto the worn wooden floor right in front of her, all before making a hasty exit themselves. Having had extensive experience from those occasions when Wanda's temper had been pushed far past its boiling point, and seeing that Kitty's current demeanor had reached a frighteningly similar state, these three reacted instinctively to what they were sure was about to become another explosive situation. Which for them meant that it was every man for himself, as they all figuratively and literally headed for the hills.

While Pietro zipped around Kitty at speeds that put her own breakneck bike-ride over here to shame, heading out through the front door that lay behind her and slamming it closed behind him as he departed, Todd in turn used his incredible leaping ability to sail through the air almost halfway across the house and face-first out of an open far-side window. Meanwhile, Fred wasn't far behind Todd and opted to make his own personalized exit, using his considerable bulk, strength, and momentum to crash through the section of wall right beside that open window and continue on with his own escape.

"So, what're you doin' here?" Lance now said with a curious nod and innocent grin, sitting up so that he could look up at Kitty from his current floor-seat vantage.

"You know damn well why I'm here!" Kitty spat back, while returning the type of look down to Lance that could kill.

Hearing her tone that exuded a still-present deep anger and that now bordered on profanity, a combination that Lance could hardly ever remember hearing from her even in their worst of fights before, Lance knew that it was probably a good idea for him to get up to his feet. Before Kitty decided to use his current position against him, and put him in one of those painful floor joint-holds that he knew the Wolverine routinely taught to all of the X-Men.

"I don't get it. First you tell me that you don't want to have anything else to do with me, then you come over here acting like some kind of psycho!" Lance said, as he stood up and told Kitty the way that he saw things between them.

"The only reason I'm over here is because you weren't man enough, and obviously don't even care enough about me, to at least come in person to tell me what you did." Kitty now said in a non-shouting capacity, for the first time since her arrival this afternoon.

But before Lance could respond, Kitty used her own (ironically enough) cat-like reflexes to reach down and grab his left wrist and pull it up and over towards her. Which in turn caused Lance to nervously jump a little, his mind still entertaining his earlier apprehensions about being on the receiving end of bodily harm from this deceptively petite X-Man. In the end though, what he received was an up close inspection of his left hand for the second time in so many days, followed by yet another reaction of disbelief.

"I can't believe...I can't believe you could be this stupid!" Kitty now said with an indignant huff, shaking her head in disgust as she threw Lance's hand back at him and away from her after having gotten the visual confirmation that she came there seeking.

Of the fact that while he was in Atlantic City, Lance had gone off and eloped with a complete and total stranger, as evidenced by the wedding band that he was now sporting.

"So, is this your way of getting back at me?" Kitty looked up at him, doing so with a piercing stare right into his eyes, and asked, "Because of what happened at prom?"

With that question, both Kitty and Lance simultaneously flashed back to that night several weeks ago. To their prom night, where everything had been going amazingly well, until the subject of post-prom activities came up. While Kitty had assumed that they would spend the rest of the night living it up with their friends, Lance had made a very similar assumption, albeit one with a more intimate twist.

Having assumed himself that tonight would at last be 'the night' for them, particularly since he and Kitty had more or less been together for a few years now and it was what many couples did on prom night, Lance had went and booked a room for them at one of Bayville's modestly-rated hotels a few weeks in advance in anticipation. But what he hadn't anticipated, and certainly hadn't expected, was Kitty's less than receptive response to his plans for the evening. That, and the wicked argument that they wound up getting into once prom was over and they were standing outside...

"I don't get why you're all flippin' out on me?"

"Because, I would've expected something a little bit more romantic than 'So, how'z about we go 'n get it on?' Geez!"

"The way you're acting, you'd think I just asked you get down in the backseat of my jeep right here in the parking lot! I told you I got us a room at a nice hotel."

"But, it's about more than that. We're talking about taking our relationship to a whole new level. That means something really special for me."

"Us finally doin' it's somethin' special to me too. You think I'd drop a couple hundred bucks for one night on a room if I didn't?"

"Gawd, Lance! You really know how to swoon a girl, don't you?"

"And, you really know how to drive me crazy with all of your mind games!"

"Huh? What're you talking about?"

"C'mon, you're always doing it! One minute you act like you're all into me and want to be with me, then you're totally pissed and yelling at me the next. Like right now!"

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason I get pissed and yell at you is because you act like a totally insensitive jerk? Like right now!"

"Whatever. I'm going to go and have some fun tonight. You can either join me. Or not."

"Then, I guess it's 'Or not'!"

"Fine, do whatever the hell you want! I'm outta here!"

"Fine, I will!"

As Lance stormed off towards his jeep that night, both he and Kitty fully expected for the other to quickly reverse course. But as most arguments that couples have seem to go, a stubborn will and a desire to be seen as the one who was right on both of their parts would ultimately prevent any such speedy reconciliation. Resulting in Lance driving off that night by himself, while Kitty left soon thereafter in the company of Kurt & Wanda and Rogue & Ray.

And as the next few weeks ticked down until graduation, the only form of communication that was exchanged between this estranged couple (if it could be considered that) were a few bitter glares, interspersed between longing glances from each of them towards the other. Which is why Kitty hadn't even been aware of the Brotherhood's post-graduation jaunt to Atlantic City until they had already left, with Rogue having mentioned that Kurt had just gotten back from seeing Wanda off later that evening. It would turn out to be the ultimate twist of fate, as Kitty had been planning on going over later that night to talk to Lance about where things stood between them, much like now.

But where her original intention for such a conversation would have been to cover the prospect of them getting back together, their talk now had taken on an entirely different timbre.

"This has nothing to do with prom." Lance now said, with his brief and somewhat shared stroll down that most recent block of memory lane now over, "It just sorta happened."

"Bullshit! Marriage doesn't just fall out the sky, it takes two people and a couple of 'I do's' if I remember correctly." Kitty snapped back, her flirtation with profanity having now taken on a decidedly greater directness, "And seriously, what on earth makes you think you' re anywhere near ready to be married anyway?"

"And what makes you so sure that I'm not?" Lance defensively replied, resentful of the way that he felt that she was talking down to him. Again.

"Oh, come on! You don't know the first thing about making a real commitment!" Kitty asserted in an attempt to try and get through past Lance's stubbornly misguided notion.

"Like you know everything!" Lance defensively retorted to Kitty and her 'so-called' expert advice.

"Then, can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that this is what you want? To be married to the first inflatable bimbo in Atlantic City who'd hop into bed with you?" Kitty verbally lashed out in a way that was a bit uncharacteristic for her, the anger that she was feeling from this entire situation having completely boiled over and now taken direct aim at Lance's new wife.

Whom, Kitty had gotten a brief glimpse of from a picture that had been taken of her and Lance on Wanda's camera-phone the day after their wedding, while they were all still in Atlantic City. Although in the time since, Jennifer Stavros-Alvers had come here with her new husband to live in Bayville at the Brotherhood House. And as a matter of fact, had been sitting over in the next room this entire time and had heard everything that had been said during this emotional back and forth between Kitty and Lance.

Including, Kitty's less than favorable remark about her.

"You can be mad at me all you want, but don't talk about Jen like that." Lance now said in response to Kitty's fairly derisive comment. Which was possibly the most out of character thing said this evening, just because of the unexpected nature of it given Lance's generally apathetic attitude where others' feelings were concerned.

"Oh, and why not?" Kitty angrily put both of her hands upon her hips and eagerly inquired.

"Because…that's my wife you're talking about!" Lance blurted out, this time his tone and expression becoming a bit more contemplative, as if a great truth about the seriousness of those vows he'd taken with the woman over in the other room (which even now he could just barely recall) had suddenly revealed itself to him. Just as another vital truth had also become evident to Kitty right at that very same moment.

That, she could continue carrying on with an even more unsightly tirade here, grilling Lance about his choice of spouse, about whether he actually loved her, and why if he wanted to get married so badly that he didn't ask her?

But, Kitty realized that none of that mattered.

The fact of the matter remained that Lance was now married to someone else, and that her yelling at him like some crazy person wasn't going to change anything. So having already said her peace, Kitty felt it was best now for her to just go ahead and leave, while she still had a few shreds of dignity intact.

"You know, you're right." Kitty responded to Lance's last statement regarding the reality of his new marital status, staring up at him with eyes that mere seconds ago had burned with anger but were now struggling, yet wholly determined, to hold back the surge of tears now welling up behind them.

It was a sight that would haunt Lance for the rest of his life, seeing that degree, that level of hurt on display in them. And at last truly understanding what he'd done, in a way that Wanda's prior warning hadn't been able to get through to him.

Nor would he ever forget Kitty's final, parting words to him.

"I think we've said everything that ever needs to be said between us." Kitty now said in the coldest, most emotionally-distant tone that Lance, or anyone who knew her for that matter, had ever heard from Katherine Pryde, "I hope you two are happy together."

And without another word said, Kitty turned around to head towards the closed front door behind her, phasing her way back out through it in just the same manner that she'd done earlier when making her entrance. It wasn't until she was outside and walking away from the Brotherhood House towards Rogue's bike that Kitty would finally allow the floodgates to open, if just a little.

Wiping across her eyes with a quick swipe from the backside of one of her gloved-hands to dry a few stray tears, Kitty immediately followed that action by kneeling down to pick up Rogue's forest-green and white motorcycle helmet. Putting it on, Kitty didn't hesitate in jumping back on this borrowed bike and revving it up as loudly as possible, before tearing off back down this now darkening roadway.

While in contrast, Lance stood at an on-looking window from inside of the house and watched Kitty disappear into the twilight. Left there alone with his thoughts, with his almost instantaneous regrets over breaking the heart of and destroying a friendship with the only person in his life who'd ever really tried to love him in spite of himself, and an internal debate that continued to rage on within him as to whether any of his decisions over the last several weeks had been the correct ones, Lance wound up broodingly staring out of that window for far longer than he realized...

xxx

As this evening grew later and drew ever closer to midnight, so to did the level of concern increase for several residents of the Xavier Institute who had gathered within its main living room. For Rogue, Logan, Ororo, Kurt, and Wanda, it had been an evening spent watching television on the large wide-screen monitor in there, although none of them had been really paying all of that much attention to what had been on. Rather, their thoughts had been primarily focused this entire time on the person who was conspicuous in her persisting absence. So much so, that Logan had to be dissuaded several times this evening, through the combined efforts of everyone now present in here, from jumping on one of his own bikes and following the residue trail left behind from Kitty's earlier high-octane departure.

Which they all knew would lead him straight to the Brotherhood House, and most likely head-first into the less than charming young man who'd hurt his Half-Pint, a prospect that none in here thought could even remotely end well. But in all likelihood, what had actually managed to keep Logan glued to this sofa had been a reassurance from Professor Xavier following a cursory psi-scan that Kitty was fine, at least as well as someone could be given the circumstances, and merely needed some time alone to sort things out after receiving a shock of this nature.

With that said, it was still only so long that Logan's somewhat overprotective nature could be held in check. Particularly once his enhanced senses picked up the sound of a motorcycle approaching the Institute at a very high rate of speed, and whose engine was suddenly cut right as it reached the estate's perimeter. All, so that the rider could use her phasing ability to pass with the bike right through the security gate, and use it's sustained momentum to silently coast the rest of the way in.

"She's back."

Standing up for the first time in at least a couple of hours, Logan was all set to head out to the garage to see how his Half-Pint was holding up, when he received a notice to the contrary.

"Uh-Uh. Have a seat, Bubba." Rogue now said as she too stood up, while reaching out to grab a hold of Logan by the arm.

"'xcuse me?" Logan curiously snarled, turning around to first take a look back at Rogue, and then down at this lone bare-hand that she had wrapped around his wrist.

For most, just the idea of attempting to physically restrain this man capable of inflicting such incredible violence would be an unthinkable prospect. So too would it have seemed just as implausible to see Rogue touching Logan, or anyone for that matter, without a pair of her customary protective gloves.

Just as unlikely as it also would've been to have seen her at this time last year dressed as she was now, with the upper-half of her attire consisting of just a basic black tank-top. Wearing this sleeveless article of clothing in such a closed-in vicinity to others, Rogue didn't even seem to be concerned in the slightest with the prospect of her bare arms casually brushing up against anyone else in the room and causing her mutant absorption powers to accidentally trigger.

And for good reason.

It was a worry that had been all but fully negated thanks to the small device that Rogue had unexpectedly been given a few months prior, which was currently strapped around her own wrist. Making it perhaps the greatest Christmas gift that a certain young lady could have ever hoped to receive.

A miracle beyond even her wildest dreams and wishes.

"I believe that Rogue may have a point." Ororo now said from her adjacent seat, her statement meant as a reference of support for Rogue's attempt to impede Logan, "The last thing that Kitty needs is for us, all of us, to rush out there and overwhelm her at once with our concern for her. Now that we know that she has returned home safely, I'm certain that when given a proper night's rest she will be better prepared to speak with us about what has happened."

Ororo then stood up from her seat as well, retightening the sash to her African-print robe around her waist, before turning her attention to the young lady whose actions just a few moments ago she had given something of a vote of confidence to.

"Rogue, will you check on Kitty a little later once she has had a chance to settle in, to see if there is anything that she may need?"

And with the subject now apparently closed, this seemingly aloof weather-goddess then prepared to take her leave and head upstairs to turn in for the night. But, Ororo's words and her actions had been enough to convince everyone else in this room to more-or-less do the same, even someone as habitually headstrong as Logan. While Kurt quickly disappeared in a plume of smoke with Wanda so that he could teleport her home, Logan also went to go...do whatever it was that he usually did at night when he couldn't sleep. Which for him was a frequent reoccurrence.

In the meantime, with all of these various departures Rogue had been left behind as the lone remaining occupant in the living room. And, so too had the task fallen to Rogue to act on the hidden purpose that had been secretly set into motion for her. That, while she had meant what she had said regarding everyone not crowding Kitty right now, Ororo knew all too well from her own personal experience just how much someone trying cope with the unexpected loss of her first love would need her best friend's shoulder to cry on right about now.

Ororo also knew that the last thing that Kitty needed right now was to have a father figure-type, who while genuinely well-meaning in his desire to help, could be a bit overbearing in his intention. And, who would more than likely continue with his profanity-tinged ranting that had been repeated ad nauseum over the last several hours about Mr. Lance Alvers, about how he always knew that kid was no good, and about how he oughta still go over there and give him a piece of his mind, etc. Which, given all that she had been through over the last few hours was the last thing that Kitty would want to hear, and was why Ororo had gone to such great lengths to manipulatively point Logan in another direction until he could truly cool off himself.

Even, if it meant forsaking her own desire to go in there and try to comfort her 'Kitten' in the process.

xxx

After having waited the approximate amount of time that she estimated it would take for Kitty to phase her way from out of the garage back upstairs, and then having also thrown in a few additional minutes for good marginal measure, Rogue finally made her up to their shared bedroom to check on how her friend and roommate was doing. Opening the barely cracked door, Rogue peered into what was an almost completely darkened room, but was unable to determine visually one way or the other if anyone was even in there? So, she decided to employ another tried and true method to find out whether Kitty had made it back up here yet.

"Kitty? Kit? You in here?"

Pausing for a moment, Rogue waited both for a response to her query and simultaneously scanned the near pitch-black room once again as best she could from the better illuminated hallway for any sign of movement. When she was unable to confirm a presence in here through either of these means, Rogue had begun preparing to head out to the garage herself, thinking that perhaps Kitty was still out there or off on another part of the Institute's grounds? But, just as she was about to close the bedroom door and begin her trek outside, a voice spoke out to her from the shadows within to persuade Rogue otherwise.

"I'm in here."

Rogue instantly recognized that it was Kitty who was now talking to her, but at the same time could tell that there was something different, something wrong in her voice. Taking a couple of steps over to turn on a small C-3PO desk-lamp, a rare vintage piece of Star Wars memorabilia from Kitty's childhood that she had brought back with her from one of her more recent visits home to Illinois (for some ungodly reason, Rogue thought to herself every time she looked at it), she hoped to soon be able to visually confirm what her ears were already telling her.

Upon bringing a modicum of light back to their shared sleeping quarters, Rogue saw that Kitty had been in here this entire time laying on her bed with her back to the door, her face buried almost completely in her pillow. But even up here Kitty's thoughts continued to be dominated by the memory of what had happened today, as it had been ever since she had sped off from the Brotherhood House earlier in a metaphorical attempt to outrun them.

Having eventually gone to take refuge in a secluded spot not too far from the Institute that overlooked Central Bay, Kitty had hoped to clear her thoughts of everything that had gone on. But, all she wound up managing to accomplish was to spend the rest of the evening crying her eyes out until it was well after dark. That, and trying to ponder a few broader questions about herself, about her relationship with Lance, and drawing a few conclusions about them both that she'd subconsciously been reluctant to come to grips with. That while it would seem that their relationship had fallen apart because of their fight at prom, in truth the problems between her and Lance had been building for quite some time and went far beyond the subject of going up to a hotel-room.

There had always been an obvious and undeniable spark of attraction between Kitty and Lance that could be traced back to their very first meeting. So much so, that Kitty had somewhere in the time since prepared herself for the day or night when she and Lance would finally become sexually intimate, learning as much as she could about birth-control and protected sex to fill in whatever knowledge gaps remained for her after having endured both Bayville High's and the Xavier Institute's combined curriculum on this particular subject. Once that had been covered and she had obtained the necessary contraceptives to try to ensure a night of passion that would be as safe as possible, all Kitty had to do was wait for the right moment.

Which, is where their problems apparently seemed to spring up.

Kitty had always assumed that the right time would be when she and Lance were at that point in their relationship where they felt secure enough to handle such a major step-up in emotional intimacy. But during her secluded introspection this evening, Kitty realized that Lance hadn't ever really shown any interest in trying to relate to her on a higher emotional level. That, while she loved him and he had at least acted like he cared about her, she could easily count on one hand the number of times that he had ever really opened up to her regarding anything even remotely to do with his true feelings. Or, had ever gone out of his way to be emotionally supportive or consolatory for her when she'd needed it. And that wrapped up in a nutshell what she felt had been wrong in their relationship, and had been manifesting itself through their constant bickering, fighting, and repeated breakups.

That, perhaps she and Lance were ultimately just two people who were simply looking for different things in a relationship at this stage in their lives?

But, while such a clinical analysis of her current predicament was one that Kitty was able to easily accept in a logical sense, when it came to matters of the heart, especially a broken one, it was rare that things were ever resolved so painlessly. Which is why another part of her continued to persist in wondering whether she could've done anything differently? If maybe she wanted too much out of their relationship? If maybe her reluctance to give in really had driven Lance into the arms of another woman? If maybe he just wanted to be with someone bustier and better looking, like this…Jennifer? If maybe he really did want to be in a serious relationship all along, just not with her? If maybe she just wasn't meant to be with anyone? If...

It was a list of 'ifs' that could've gone on and on, and had been growing in Kitty's mind non-stop over the last several hours. To the point that it was driving her crazy and all she wanted now was for these questions, for these self-doubts that this little voice inside of her had her obsessing over, to just go away.

But, most of all what Kitty wanted was this pain, this longing ache buried deep within her to fade away and disappear, just like she had become so well-known for doing.

"Ah just came in to check on you, to see if you needed me to get you anything?" Rogue continued, having already turned on a light and proceeded further into their room, now leaning up slightly against the solid-wood desk that sat over in one corner.

"I'm fine." Kitty turned her face up just long enough to whimper out, her entire body still turned facing away from Rogue and towards the window that lay on the opposite side of this room.

In Kitty's voice, Rogue heard someone who sounded hoarse from the result of extensive yelling or crying, or a more likely a combination of both. And, someone who sounded as though she was on the verge of breaking into another lengthy crying spell at any second, but who was desperately struggling to hold back any such emotional tidal wave.

"Ah don't think lyin' on your bed in the dark with a face full of pillow really falls under the 'I'm fine' category." Rogue now remarked, having by now gone over to sit down on Kitty's bed right beside her and started supportively rubbing her back, which had been turned towards her for this entire conversation thus far.

But, Rogue didn't get much of a response from her mildly sarcastic attempt to get Kitty to at last look up at her, save for an incomprehensible mumble that Kitty made face-down into her pillow and that Rogue thought could've been translated to mean any number of things. Then a moment of silent interlude crept into the room, with Rogue continuing to gently stroke her hand up and down across one of Kitty's shoulder-blades, and with Kitty simply laying their almost motionless.

"That jackass really hurt you good this time, didn't he?" Rogue soothingly said after a few muted minutes had passed, "Ah won't sit here and pretend to know what you're goin' through right now, but--"

Rogue was in the middle of talking to her friend when she was unexpectedly interrupted, having at last elicited a response from Kitty just as she had been trying to get from her since coming in here.

Although, not quite in the way that she had pictured.

"Then don't, okay!" Kitty now shot up and sat up on top of her bed, screaming at Rogue at the top of her lungs. But as surprising as Kitty's sudden verbal snap at her should've been, Rogue didn't display any immediate reaction at all to it.

Rogue knew that she wasn't the one whom Kitty was mad at, and took no offense to her vocal lashing out. In fact, Rogue could clearly see that instant self-realization in the puffy, red eyes that were now staring back into hers.

"Rogue, I'm...I'm so sorry, I…I didn't mean to..." Was about all of her apology that Kitty was able to get out, before she totally lost it and burst into tears again.

"Shhh...Ah know, It's alright." Rogue said as she put her arms reassuringly around Kitty, who by now was crying hysterically, and lent her a shoulder that best friends were notorious for being there to offer when needed.

While Kitty slowly rocked back and forth in Rogue's calming embrace, her torrent of tears would steadily decrease until they were down to a soft-stream. Rogue had been through enough of Kitty and Lance's almost cyclical breakup/makeup patterns to know what to expect by now, and to know that just from her deep anguish currently on display that this situation would be nothing like those previous periods of separation.

Rogue's worry was that this was something else entirely, both in terms of magnitude and in its finality, that it was one of those experiences that fundamentally changes who a person is. That sure, this girl who sometimes wore her heart a little too openly on her sleeve, and who at the moment was bawling her eyes out, would always be the person they all knew as Kitty. But, that Kitty might not end up being that same person that she was before all of this…