SORRY ALL WHO'VE ALREADY READ. My muse whopped me overnight and ordered a bit of a different handling. Originally, this was only backstory for the Kyro/Romy fic I'm working on right now, but it's sort of grown into its own thing on me. Hope you like. And I think I'm just going to keep going into the other piece.
Old A/N: This story is really a prequel to something I'm working on now, called Light Switch. I don't own the characters or universe or anything else that is the product of Marvel.
Fight and Shadow
Chapter 1: Friendship Renewed
Marie stumbled, gasping, into the cold night air behind the mansion. Her shoulders shook and her eyes burned, but she could not cry. Shock. She was in shock.
"I felt you should be the first to know," Storm had said kindly.
"Know what?" Cold dread knotted in Marie's stomach.
"The Cure…" Storm hesitated. "We've received word that the Cure is not permanent."
Marie's world ended right there. Marie ended there! For without the Cure, her skin turned rogue and all that was normal and right in her world crashed and burned on the ground.
Marie struggled to catch her breath, but managed to reach the cold stone bench screened by tall shrubs and small trees. Someplace private, safe. So why didn't she feel safe anymore?
Her bare hands rested in her lap. She studied them. The skin was so normal looking, white and soft from heavy use of lotion and sunscreen. Her arms were bare. Since she took the Cure, she'd left gloves and scarves and sweaters behind, dressed in the least clothing she could get away with for the weather.
Her life had changed so drastically when her mutation appeared; a little less so when it disappeared. Bobby hadn't really taken much advantage of it. Some, but not enough. He was hurting. She understood that. He had just fought and nearly killed his one-time best friend. Many of them mourned John after Pyro had destroyed him.
But after he was over it (or claimed he was), he still didn't have much time for her. Still made time for Kitty. Still…
And now, it would be all over again, just worse.
"How long do I have?" Marie asked, trying to hold back tears.
Storm maintained her composure, but her eyes were soft as she replied, "A few months. Maybe less."
And Marie nodded, rose, and managed to keep her feet going out of the office. She wouldn't cry. She'd wait until she got outside. She would not cry.
She had maybe a few months, and the odds were good that she wouldn't even lose her virginity in that time. Especially once everyone knew. And they would know soon.
She cried then. Tears and hair mingled in her eyes, blending light and shadow in the darkness.
Kitty shivered in the darkness, wedged between their two trees. John's tree braced her back, and her feet pressed against her own. The ground was hard beneath her, but she neither noticed nor cared.
John was coming back.
"I didn't want you to be surprised, so I'll be telling the rest of the team tomorrow," Storm said. She was staring out of the window, her white hair blowing a little in the slight breeze. "You remember that a number of the Brotherhood have been apprehended."
Kitty nodded, even though Storm couldn't see her, and wondered where this was going.
"Pyro was among them."
She sucked in her breath.
Storm turned, eyeing her carefully, waiting for her to exhale. Finally, she sighed. "He'll serve his somewhat lengthy probation here."
How did Storm know? How did she know what that news would do to her? She felt like a semi had slammed her in the gut. And now, after the mess with Rogue and Bobby, after his leaving had changed everything between all of them. At one time, they had all been best friends. All it took was John's leaving to shatter and destroy them all.
She wanted to hate him. She did hate him. But…
Love and hate rode a very fine line.
Her face was wet with silent rivers coursing unchecked and uncheckable from her eyes. She stared up at the distant stars, imagining his face up there, when the sounds of what should have been her suddenly made themselves noticed.
Kitty sat up, listened. Someone was crying. Over there. On the stone bench.
Almost two years ago, Kitty had sat curled up in a little ball in her favorite tree on many afternoons. She'd read or snack or just find pictures in the clouds. But on this day, she'd been sprawled at the foot of the tree, crying her eyes out, in the middle of the night.
She had phased. She could barely feel the ground or even the tree. Just a shadow in the darkness.
Suddenly, warmth licked up her legs and she drew herself up and melted halfway into the tree.
"Sprite?" St. John Allerdyce stared at her through the ball of flame in his hands. He looked terrible, like he had woken from a bad dream. His dirty blonde hair went every which way and his eyes narrowed at her like he couldn't believe it was her.
Not that she looked any better.
Crying in the mud at the bottom of her tree, wearing only her pajamas, had not been a good idea.
She rubbed her eyes, became solid. "Kitty Pryde."
"Oh." He sat down next to her.
She started crying again.
"What…um…" John rubbed the back of his neck before tentatively wrapping one arm around her and patting her shoulder in some gesture that belonged in a torture chamber, not a comfort session. "Don't cry," he pleaded.
She hiccupped and tried to stop. "I—" and she was off again.
"What's wrong?" The heat drew up to her face.
She turned away.
"My parents," she finally choked out.
He nodded. "Right."
And that was the beginning of their trees.
Seemed like it was always tears.
"Rogue?" a tentative voice called out of the darkness.
Marie straightened, pulled her arms in close, forgetting that wasn't necessary yet. "Who's there?"
She watched as a human form pulled out of the shadows, barely there, just a whisper of color that solidified into ever brighter detail.
Of all the people on all the nights, it had to be Kitty Pryde that caught her crying. But as the moonlight caught on Kitty's face, she realized that Kitty had been crying too.
Kitty gulped, working her own uncovered fingers together. In nervousness? Fear? "Rogue, I'm…" The words hesitated at first, then stumbled out of her in their hurry to be said. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Marie stared at the girl who had once been her friend. Kitty's shoulders were shaking. Tears continued to fall, and fall, and fall.
"You were always stronger than me," Kitty went on. "I kept telling myself that. Bobby wouldn't leave you. You'd be okay. And I…I screwed it all up. I always screw—"
"I'm not stronger," Marie shouted suddenly. "I'm scared!"
Kitty and Marie stared at each other for a long moment.
Kitty whispered. "I know."
Another moment passed.
Marie took a deep breath and demanded, "Why? You were my best friend. Why did you do that?"
She was surprised at herself, at how much pain one question could contain.
Kitty sat down on the ground ungracefully, her face mournful. "Because he was the closest I could get to John."
Marie's mouth fell open. That she had never expected. Perhaps, she should have. Perhaps it should have occurred to her where Bobby went when he was trying to do the same thing: save a man who had left them and they didn't yet know had fallen so much. Or at least save the memories.
She tightened her fingers into a fist. Memories. She knew a lot about those. More than anyone else. She reached out and touched Kitty's shoulder.
"Would you do it again?"
Kitty closed her swollen eyes. "No." She gasped and shuddered. "Never."
Surprisingly, that was enough for her to forgive Kitty. She doubted anything would be quite enough for her to forgive Bobby.
She let go, her hands falling back to her lap. "The Cure's failing." She brought the words out with a tremendous effort, but they fell flat on the air between them.
Kitty sucked in her breath. Hard.
Marie looked up, managed a tiny smile. "I'm not sure I would have wanted it with Bobby anyway."
Kitty started crying again. Somehow they ended up tangled in a fierce girl-hug, the kind after a breakup or a birth or a funeral. Marie felt odd and tingly by moments and realized they were phasing in and out of this world, this unreal situation. But how she had missed Kitty!
Finally, they pulled away and Marie stared at her…friend? "Why are you out here?"
"John." Kitty stared at her own hands. "He's…" She looked around, at the bushes, the trees, the mansion windows. A huge breath blew out through her mouth. "He's coming back."
That one threw her. Marie caught her breath. "For real?"
Kitty nodded. She flickered out and in again.
"I see why he called you Shadowcat."
Kitty blinked up at Marie. "You do?"
Marie realized then that Kitty had no idea how invisible she made herself, melding in and out of shadow in the night. But no one else did either. They never saw her do this at night.
"Yes," Marie replied simply.
Kitty drew herself up. "Well, I've got news for you," she said sharply, catching Marie by surprise. "I see why you're called Rogue and it's because you're a fighter. You are strong. You never needed anyone else to deal with who you are and you don't now."
Marie's mouth fell open again. She shut it abruptly. Kitty stood before her with a fierce expression and balled fists and for once, Marie knew that she would not be able to brush her off. So she didn't. She tried to understand just how she was supposed to fight the return of a mutation that had always been a curse and never a gift.
"I don't know how."
"Well, find out," Kitty ground out. "Be Rogue. Be the girl that Bobby fell in love with, that Logan fought for, that was my friend."
Marie drew up herself at that. "Like I'm not!"
"No," came the quiet reply. "You're not. You're being Marie."
Bare arms. Bare hands. If Marie was the price for that, Rogue could stay away forever. Marie crossed her arms. "So?"
"So humans become mutants by surprise. They don't learn control from nothing." Kitty brushed back her hair, clearing having slipped into her analytical role. "But mutants fight the cure. They have some sort of control."
"Fight the Cure?" Marie huffed in exasperation. "That's the last thing I want to do. I want to hold onto it, as long as I can!"
The two girls stared at each other.
"Maybe we should just drop it." Marie scrambled to her feet and brushed herself off.
"Shadowcat," Marie retorted.
"Forgive me?" Kitty stared at her a small smile on her face.
Marie studied her.
A/N: I hate it when endings elude me. I hope it works well enough. Please, please, please review!