Category: X-Men Evolution

Language: English

Rating: M

Words: 12,980

Characters: Katherine Anne Pryde (15), Lance Alvers (18), Kristen Sparks (Alternate female version of Scott Summers, 17), Jean Grey (17), Brittnee Logan (Alternate female version of James Logan, 25), Rogue (Alternate male version of Rogue, 16), Karin Wagner (Alternate female version of Kurt Wagner, 17). Plus other various characters.

Summary: An alternate version of the X-Men Evolution episode Shadowdance. Please note that some genders, names, and sexual preferences have been altered. Lancitty and Jean/Cyclops. Rated M for language and man reactions.

Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution is the property of Marvel, but the character alterations are owned solely by Gaia's Marvel: A Universe United guild and its associates.

Thanks: A special thanks to Ultimate Cyclops and Dr. H. Lecter of Gaia.

Dancing in the Shadows

Kitty

"How did you get so good?" His breath was hot on the back of her neck, and if she hadn't been so heated already from all the erotic dancing it may have sent a shiver down her spine. Even so, his words still got to her, like they always did.

Lance Alvers, he was her Romeo – or at least he was as near as one could get to Shakespeare's famous fictional character – but tonight he was known simply as her date to the Sadie Hawkins dance, despite the X-Men's, her makeshift mutant family, disapproval. They had been playing their little game, or so to speak, ever since the manifestation of her mutant abilities and his attempt to use them, and subsequently her, to cheat on a test. It had meant being lab partners in Dr McCoy's chemistry lessons; countless hours spent talking on the phone in the early hours of the morning, when by all rights she should have been asleep; avoiding each other as best they could when their teams declared miniature wars on each other, then arguing about which side was in the wrong later; walking together in the hallways and dashing apart whenever one of their friends came into view. It was the game in which had resulted in him defecting to the X-Men, until he was framed for the younger recruits flight of fancy. She had taken the initiative and kissed him, albeit on the cheek, as he banished himself from the institute after a screaming match with Kristen. And just a few days ago she had taken the initiative again, and asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance.

"Well, my parents had me, like, learning ballet. And that was great. But when you go to a public high school and there's a club just, like, down the block… you pick up on other… styles." Katherine Pryde, better known as Kitty, explained rather loudly, struggling to make herself heard over the music blasting for the colossal rented speakers lining one side of the appropriately decorated and furnished gym. With its squeaky polished floorboards and basketball hoops the gymnasium usually took top spot on the list of her most hated places, for reasons which echoed her motive for dawdling on her way to each P.E class, for the ritual cleaning out of her locker and the hundred times she tied her shoes and checked her hair in the mirror to delay her arrival to the despised subject. It wasn't the teacher, or the lack of real, substantial work, it was her deficiency of hand-eye coordination and interest in the sports Bayville High offered that often saw the brunette being picked last for teams, and frequently lead to her humiliation on the field. If they had taught dancing aside from jazz and tap, if they had taught ballroom or ballet or even modern dancing, her name would have been on every sign up sheet and she wouldn't be coaxed into trying to kick a soccer ball or throw a javelin every period. Tonight was different, for obvious reasons. She wasn't dressed in a polo shirt, sweat pants and sneakers, but rather a blue, knee length dress – which Lance had tripped over himself to compliment her on when she had come to the door – and strappy, silver high heels. The classy attire donned by her and her classmates though was doing nothing to influence the far-from-traditional style of dancing the music called for. The dance floor was a mess of withering bodies and obscene dancing; many of the females opting to treat their male counterparts to the same back-to-front grinding that she was amusing Lance with. And if the shocked and horrified expressions on the supervising teacher's faces were anything to go by "Dirty Dancing" had just taken on a whole knew meaning for the adults.

Kristen

Sitting all alone at the table she had claimed for her and her X-Men, looking as glum as ever with a cheekbone digging into a fisted hand, was Kristen Sparks. Since arriving her ruby-quartz obscured eyes had remained practically glued to the attractive redhead and the blond footballer who had declared her best friend his date for the night, despite the Girl's Choice rule. Her hidden eyes may or may not have also taken a few glimpses at another couple though, too, if only to guarantee the well-being of her fifteen year old teammate, who – in her opinion – was quite confused when it came to boys, considering who she had asked to the dance: the unruly and perverted eighteen year old mutant from the Brotherhood. And she swore to God that if she saw that stupid cocky grin on his face one more time she was going to storm over there and give him a good knocking around. Because if there was one thing she hated more than her rival and his efforts to sweep Casper – his aptly aliased dancing buddy – off her feet, it was that look on his face, the one that made clear exactly what he was thinking about. The same look Duncan Mathews and his cronies had been wearing for the past hour, as they handed their dates cup-full after cup-full of the provided punch. And the only thing restraining her from approaching those guys was the respect she had for the telepath they had, unknowingly of course, in their party, and the knowledge that Jean could look after herself. Still, that didn't make the seventeen year old any happier about the pairing, especially with Kitty's words from earlier still ringing in her ears.

"You like her. Gawd, it's not that, like, hard to say. We've all noticed the way you two look at each other, like, come on it's obvious she likes you, too! So just, like, suck it up and ask her out already!" Kitty cried, throwing her hands up in the air in undisguised exasperation. Everyone was all dressed up and ready to head back out to the school, and the two females had met on the stairs, the elder having planned to give the Jewish teen a shortened version of The Talk, this being Katherine's first proper date and her deficiency of a father had left Cyclops concerned about the young girl lacking someone to threaten her date about bringing her home on time and that there would be no "funny business". But Kitty had beaten her to it, ambushing her with a quite unexpected lecture on decency and "not giving up" while going after the item of your adoration.

"It's not that hard," the fifteen year old went on, "you just have to–"

"Jean," Professor Charles Xavier's voice sliced though the air like butter – just as his thoughts did when informing his students of something or another – effectively silencing the opinionated teenager. "Your date has arrived." Kitty turned back to sunglass-wearing mutant, raising her groomed eyebrows as if to say 'See! He could do it!' before turning her head back around to watch the redhead stride out of the kitchen and to the door to greet the muscular blond.

After the photographs were snapped and appropriate goodbyes and see-you-theres were said, the front door was closed once more and Katherine turned her shining hazel gaze back on her victim. "You see!" she exclaimed, "That's what happens when you don't act on how you feel, people get snatched from right under your nose and you can't do anything about it. Now Jean's gonna be stuck with that loser all night when we all know you're the one she really wants to be dancing with."

"Kitty," the Professor called, motioning to her with his finger once he saw that he had her attention. A huge grin replaced the stern expression she had previously been wearing, and without another word she started down the stairs towards where Lance was waiting – looking very much like a kitten trapped in a roomful of German Sheppard's – staring at her feet as she went and struggling to compose her face so she didn't look quite so overjoyed.

"Hiya, pretty Kitty," He said, eyeing Logan as if the clawed female would go for kill if he took his eyes off her for a split second.

"Hey." She smiled modestly, ducking her head and sweeping a stray lock of chestnut brown hair out of her eyes, her cheeks glowing and her eyes sparkling with barely contained excitement already.

"Half-pint," Logan removed her cigar from between her teeth to grunt out, "You watch yourself, kid."

"Yes ma'am." Katherine rolled her eyes, moving to position herself beside her date for the customary snap-of-the-lens, before allowing Lance to take her arm and guide her down the steps and along the footpath towards his jeep. But she tugged him to a stop not a few paces away from the front door, half-turning back to call to her stubborn friend. "If I, like, don't see you dancing with her tonight, Kristen, I'm gonna be really pissed!"

Cyclops had had a whole car ride to mull things over, and had even done a few laps around the block when she had eventually reached the high school she and her X-Men attended, but she had still yet to come to a conclusion. So she sat at the round table, all alone, watching the star quarterback of Bayville High's male football team chat up her best friend. The same best friend she had been admiring and crushing on for years. The two of them had made their feelings known, back when Kristen had been sure that there were still feelings there, but they had agreed that they wouldn't pursue the affections, for reasons the leader of the X-Men still did not fully understand. But, as far as she could tell, Jean had gotten over her, moved on without a word of warning. Unlike her. She had fallen big time for the redhead, and she couldn't see herself getting to her feet and dusting herself off anytime in the foreseeable future. She had tried to hide it, to the best of her ability, in order to ensure that the telepath didn't become uncomfortable in her presence, because despite the immense liking she had for her second-in-command, she also enjoyed spending time with her, just as friends, and she would die if Jean wanted that to end all because the brunette could not keep her emotions in check. Clearly she had not been doing a very good job of concealing the said feeling though, because someone had noticed, Kitty had noticed. And the always enthusiastic and optimistic girl from Illinois, who had somehow managed to retain her Valley Girl dialect, seemed to think that the feelings were still mutual between Jean Grey and Kristen Sparks. Still, Cyclops had her doubts, after all, what did a fifteen year old know about love, especially one who had decided to ask a Brotherhood mutant to the Sadie Hawkins dance? Yeah, she was in love with Jean Grey, she wasn't going to deny that, at least not to herself, and it would be incredible if the telepath felt the same, but she didn't… and she never would. She risked another glance at Kitty; she seemed so preoccupied, so caught up in the music and the movements of her slender body– much to her partner's obvious delight – that she may not even observe that Kristen didn't dance with who she was supposed to that night at all.

Jean

"C'mon, Duncan, just let me go talk to her." Jean pleaded with her unrelenting date, attempting to squirm her way out of his embrace so she could go see how Kristen was holding up.

"Sparks? She's fine, babe. Stay here, dance with me, have another drink, she'll still be there at the end of the night." Duncan Mathews insisted, gesturing to his football buddy to pour her another drink from the punch bowl they had apprehended upon arrival. The redhead was seated on his lap, his muscular arms encircled her waist, his hands uncomfortably close to touching her concealed breasts, his breath reeking of the alcohol she had come to suspect he and his friends had tainted the fruit punch with. He, the other members of the football team, and the scantily clad cheerleaders that were allowing their dates to touch them quite inappropriately, were making her rather uncomfortable, and she longed for the sanity and safety of another's company, particularly that of her best friend, sitting on the other side of the room, looking like she could not possible be any more miserable. She accepted the plastic cup of punch graciously, but set it down beside her all the same. She had consumed as little as the stuff as she could manage without the blond male noticing her lack of appreciation for the somewhat non-refreshing beverages, but that wasn't to say she hadn't downed quite a few cups of the bitter-tasting liquid.

"I just want to talk to her, see if I can cheer her up." The telepath argued, wrapping her hand around one of Duncan's fingers and bending it backwards towards his wrist rather aggressively. He did as she had expected he would and retracted his arms from around her immediately, allowing her to spring to her feet. She turned and looked down at him, where he sat rubbing the hand she had violently attacked, struggling to control his features as to not betray the pain the redhead had caused him with the simple move to his mates. Jean tilted her head innocently and put on a sweet smile, "I'll be back in a bit." she told him with turning on her heel and striding out across the dance floor. When she reached the table her lonely friend was stationed at she collapsed into the chair beside her, legs outstretched, shoulders slumped, and arms draped haphazardly over her stomach.

The brown haired mutant sat up straighter and removed her face from her hands, a smile tweaking one side of her mouth upward. "Having fun with Duncan?" She wanted to know, out of concern more than anything.

Jean turned her hazel gaze on her fellow mutant, flashing her a slightly strained smile and righting herself in the hard plastic chair. She leaned in closer to the younger X-Men, putting her thin, red lips nearer to her ear so she wouldn't have to speak quite so loud to ensure she was heard over the pulsing music. "Not really." She confessed. Kristen seemed to brighten just a little at that news, secretly thrilled that her friend wasn't enjoying herself all that much with the burly blond.

"Why not?"

"He can't dance." The redhead laughed, before going on in a more serious tone, "And I think he may have spiked the punch."

Cyclops' eyes widened considerably behind her ruby-quartz glasses, and she turned her body towards the telepath, grasping her upper arm. "God, Jean, are you okay?" She couldn't believe Duncan would pull such a stunt, let alone at a school function. Actually… she could, and she knew exactly why he and his followers would do it, knew what they would have to gain from intoxicating their respective partners. Her free hand clenched into a fist, her short nails digging into the flesh of her palm; they made her sick.

"Yeah, I haven't drunk that much. The voices are starting to seep through the cracks though, especially when the person's touching me, but I'm coping." Kristen hurriedly removed her hand from her telepathic best friend's bare arm, the last thing she needed was Jean to be hearing her thoughts right now, even if she wasn't meaning to. But what worried and upset the seventeen year old even more, was what Jean might have heard while Duncan was touching her.

"You haven't had any have you?" the older X-Men asked next, seemingly oblivious to the other female's rapid withdrawal of her hand, that or she was just pretending not to have noticed.

"I've had a few cups." The sunglass-wearing teen admitted, gesturing the half-full plastic cup in front of her.

"They may not have spiked any of the other bowls, let me…" She picked up the cup, brought it to her lips and took a sip. Jean pulled a face, and lowered it back to the table top. "Yep, I think it's in all of them. You feel alright?"

Kristen wondered why she hadn't been able to taste the illegally added substance, but figured she had just been too caught up in her broodings to place the unusual bitter flavor. Still, it irked her; she was known to be rather observant when it came to the well-being of her team. "Yeah, I'm fine. Rogue might not be though; he's had quite a bit." She noted, motioning to the younger male X-Men that was seated a few tables away with his understanding classmate. "And Kit-Kat has made a few trips over there as well, hanging off that punk's arm. Do you think he knows?" the brunette wondered fearfully, casting her gaze across the dance floor till she found the couple in question. Lance had his hands on the young girl's hips, holding her flush against his chest. Cyclops eyes narrowed, but Casper didn't appear to mind being crushed against the Brotherhood field leader like that. She was still dancing, after all, rubbing her back against him in ways that was sure to provoke the kind of reaction the innocent teen would probably not be expecting. She had her hands back behind the earth manipulators head, fingers tangled in his wild too-long-for-a-boy hair, smiling and laughing at something he had said.

"Hard to tell." The redhead beside her mused thoughtfully, "Better keep an eye on her, if she's had as much as you think she has her powers might start playing up. And we can't have her falling through the floor in front of all these people."

"And if she isn't fully aware of what's happening Lance might try lurin–"

"We don't know that for sure." Jean interjected, rising to her feet. "I better be getting back, look out for Karin, okay? I haven't seen her."

"You don't have to go back to him." Kristen objected, jumping to her feet. "You could stay here… with me." She proposed without thinking, desperate to convince the beautiful redhead to stay. She couldn't stand to watch the love of her life walking away from her, and back into the footballer's arms. Couldn't believe that the redhead would actually want to go back there, where she would be loaded up with more drinks and tormented by that horrible waste-of-space's perverted fantasies. Couldn't understand why Jean would choose Duncan over her. Then again, the telekinetic mutant couldn't have known the latter was indeed and option for her.

Much to the brunette's disgust, and self-loathing, her best friend's expression transformed into one of pity and sympathy as she side-stepped away from the table and out of her reach. "I'm sorry, sweetie. I would really love to keep you company, but… I don't want him coming over here and… starting something." It made sense, so Kristen just nodded and dropped her hidden eyes back to the table, hands cradling the cup that held the contaminated drink.

Kitty

"Are you, like, having fun?" Katherine Anne Pryde inquired of her romantic interest, tipping her head back and to the side in an attempt to get a good look at her Romeo's expression. Her lithe, experienced body kept up with the beat, continuing its lavish movements as if the two of them hadn't been dancing like crazy for the past hour and a half, with only the occasional pause to refresh themselves with the fruit punch the school had provided. She had been dancing for a long time, as long as she could remember, and more recently she had learnt to suffer through exhausting simulated battles in the Danger Room, all on her lonesome. So she really wasn't all the surprised that they two of them hadn't had to sit down yet, endurance was a wonderful thing. By now, she didn't even have to think about what her body was doing, accustomed to every song, or at least style of song, from the endless hours spent practicing in front of her bedroom mirror, ballet shoes on or off dancing just came naturally to this teen.

"How could I not? I-I'm with the prettiest girl in the room, who also happens to be the best dancer. Is… is it even possible that anyone can not be having a good time around you?"

The blood rushed to Kitty's cheeks immediately after she was able to piece together and make sense of the few words she had caught over the raging music, and she lowered her gaze to the floor in an attempt to hide the stained flesh. She needn't have bothered though, for the colorful, flashing lights overhead were seeing to protecting the dancers from that embarrassing – as popular opinion would have it – aspect of the night. All she had really anticipated was a simple, and possibly enthusiastic, "Yes," and had consequently dreaded that his answer would be a resounding "No." But, who would have thought, Lance Alvers was as good at flattery as he was at making stink bombs. Which he happened to be very talented at, for everyone's information. Maybe it came from living with Toad, honestly, who knew, but wherever he had learnt how to fill water balloons with foul smelling liquid, or dance for that matter, she was glad he had.

"Y'know, all the guys are staring at you." He purred next to her ear, hands tightening almost possessively on her hips.

Casper sucked in a quick breath, somehow resisting the incredible urge to look for herself, figuring that she might lose all confidence she had in her dancing skills – despite what Lance had said about her being the "best dancer" – and start feeling self-conscious again. "Staring how?" she asked hesitantly, lifting her arms back into the air above their heads again, rubbing her shoulder blades against the Brotherhood mutant's chest.

"They're jealous." The eighteen year old informed her, in a tone that implied that she should have known. "They wish they were up here… with you."

"There's no way you can, like, known that!" The vegetarian scoffed indignantly, downright refusing to believe that anyone would be looking at her like that. Yeah, she had always had a thing about body image. "If anyone's looking up here, it's, like, totally because they're looking at you and wishing they were me, not, like, vise versa."

Shakedown chuckled, running his hands up Kitty's sides, over her shoulders – carefully avoiding her feminine curves – and brushing his fingertips up her arms, parting their bodies for a few moments to do a little hip wiggling of his own, though obviously in a more masculine fashion. "Whatever you say, pretty Kitty."

* * *

Kitty

The night was wearing on, and for the couple that still remained on the dance floor – one of the very few who had spent the majority, over ninety percent of the night, dancing – the songs were beginning to bleed together and the moves, despite their experience, were beginning to get rather repetitive. They were both tired, sweaty, with feet feeling as if they had been treading shards of broken glass all night long, and they had consumed quite a bit of the polluted punch. Still, they were reluctant to stop and take a break, unsure of whether they would actually be permitted to rejoin on the dance floor after their friends were through with them. They flashed each other a smile as yet another song ended, a silent assurance that they were still enjoying themselves, and not yet ready to part and reunite with their respective circles just yet. But this kitten was getting awfully tired, and, to her surprise, starting to feel a little lightheaded. "Just this, like, last one, then I think we totally, like, ought to sit down."

"Not gonna curl up and fall asleep in my lap, are you, Casper?" Lance asked, concern and humor mixing in his voice as his fingers brushed a stray brown curl out of her eyes.

"I hope not. Still got, like, a lot of dance left in me yet."

"Good. 'Cause this has been really–" His words were drowned as the intro of the next song erupted from the speakers. She gave a short laugh and turned her back on him once more, and his hands rediscovered her petite waist. They moved, in sync, as they had been for the last hundred songs; hips swaying to the beat, bodies withering this way and that. They were both familiar with the band, and with the song itself, but neither of the teenagers could believe that the organizing teachers hadn't been offended by the lyrics – seeing as what was so obviously implied – and had actually given it thumbs up to be added to the dance's soundtrack. But while the younger mutant just shrugged it off and continued moving in the indecent way she had been for the last two hours, Shakedown actually listened to the words this time, and let his imagination run rampant.

Well I wanted you
I wanted no one else
I thought it through
I got you to myself
You got off
Every time you got on to me
I got caught up
In favorable slavery

I guess it wasn't really right
I guess it wasn't meant to be
It didn't matter what they said
'Cause we were good in bed
I guess I stuck around so I could watch us fight
for all the wrong reasons
No, it didn't matter what I tried
It's just a little hard to leave
When you're going down on me
I guess I stuck around so I could watch us fight
for all the wrong reasons

Well you know my friends
Well they know your enemies
I'd pretend
Not to hear what they said to me
'Cause I got off
Every time you got on to me
Was it wrong
To go along with insanity?

Kitty gasped and jerked away from him so fast that her partner was incapable of holding on to her, and even if he had been she wouldn't have let that stop her from removing herself from his embrace. She reeled on him, eyes wide and mouth agape, astonishment and horror distorting her pretty features. Lance's face looked like it had been set in stone, his jaw clenched and eyes filled with shame. He had prayed relentlessly that his little "problem" would not arise, not tonight, not while he was around the fifteen year old. But as soon as she had come to the door, looking as gorgeous and innocent as ever with her chocolate brown hair chaotically gathered up at the back of her head so that the loose, wavy strands spilled down her neck and back; the minute they had stepped into the gymnasium and made a beeline for the dance floor, where couples had already been all over each other, grinding away, it had become doubtful that he would be able to maintain his composure. In fact, he was quite surprised he had managed to last so long, managed too keep his fantasies in check while Kitty was rubbing herself against him like that. But now the cat was out of the bag… or at least making itself known.

"K-Kitty, I...I…" He stuttered, struggling desperately to find the right words to apologize for the nuisance in his pants, and failing miserably. The brunette shook her head from side to side, her now tear-filled brown eyes never leaving his. "Don't," he begged as she backed away from him, his arms reaching towards her in a silent plea that she stay with him. She took another small step backward, mouth set in a firm line turned downward at the corners, he stepped after her, arms still outstretched. "Kitty, please…" She gave her head another unyielding shake, sending her curls flying around her head, and squeezing her eyes shut. Then she gathered up the soft material sitting above her left thigh, turned, and ran, stumbling, off the dance floor. "Kitty!" Lance called after her, but to no avail. Now their spectators really had something to stare at, the sorry looking teen who had just been ditched half way though the dance.

Kristen

The very second the faltering run started Kristen Sparks was on her feet faster than one could say Concerned and Protective Big Sister. It could have very well been anyone running away from their date, it could have been Jean running to confess how completely in love she was with the leader of the X-Men having discovered what a no-good prick Duncan was, but the chances of that – Cyclops would grudgingly admit – were almost as slim as the line Kitty was under the impression was between the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from the X-Men… or at least herself and Lance. Just because the night had been going well so far, for that poorly-matched pair if no one else, didn't mean that the optic-blast shooting mutant had disillusioned herself into believing that nothing was going to happen. Now, she wasn't any kind of chef, but she knew if you mixed a perverted evil eighteen year old mutant drop-out with an attractive – even if Casper didn't believe so herself – and intelligent fifteen year old, raging music, dirty dancing and alcohol, you were begging for critics to slam it in your face. So the seventeen year old was in no means surprised when she realized that it was indeed a very spooked looking Katherine careening towards her. She stepped away from the table to catch the frightened young ballerina by her bare upper arms before she could run into something – or rather, though something.

"What did that fuck do this time?" The older mutant demanded, dropping herself down to the little girl's height to get a better look at her saddened face, subconsciously scrutinizing every inch of visible flesh for bruises, scrapes or red patches that had not been there before she had been handed over to the Brotherhood boy. Thankfully there was nothing to be seen, and for the earth mover that was just as well, because if she had found any signs that he had physically hurt her she would have duplicated whatever he had done to Casper, but times ten, on him.

The vegetarian just shook her head from side to side, closing her tear-filled eyes and struggling to prevent her bottom lip from quivering. "It… it wasn't l-like that." She eventually got out, reopening her eyes and allowing the salty droplets to spill part-way down her cheeks before they were hurriedly wiped away by the taller, more experienced X-Men. "We were just… like, dancing," She wailed, as if nothing bad could ever occur while she was on the dance floor, "And I, like-" A strangled sob escaped her throat and she suddenly lurched forward, only to have Kristen resume her grip on the intoxicated girl's arms in an attempt to keep her upright. Thank the Lord her body hadn't become incorporeal yet, because there wasn't a force on Earth that would be able to catch her ghost-like body. "I felt something!" she managed to exclaimed before she was overwhelmed by another round of tears.

Cyclops' face quickly drained of colour as it dawned on her exactly what the "something" was. She straightened up, keeping hold of the traumatized female's skinny arms, and guided the shaking teen to the nearest chair, coaxing her to sit and sliding the bottle of water she had purchased from the vending machine down the corridor across the table top until it was in front of her. But the slender dancer just pushed it away again and dropped her forehead to the table. Kristen cringed and awkwardly patted the younger mutant's head before turning to stand with her back to the chair in order to scan the crowds for her redheaded best friend. When she spotted her – sitting on Duncan's lap, of all places – she did the only thing she could think of to get her attention, short of yelling her name at the top of her lungs and waving her arm above her head like someone trying to signal and airplane: She thought at her, fingers crossed the sensitive telepath's mind wasn't so corrupted with the footballer's disgusting thoughts that she wouldn't hear her. As it was, Jean Grey's head whipped up so fast it was a wonder she had not given herself whip lash, or broken her date's nose for that matter. Her hazel eyed gaze quickly found the perpetrator, who was beckoning wildly for her from across the other side of the room, Kristen's second in command gave a nod and rose to her feet; Mission accomplished.

The brunette took the seat closest to her friend then, petting her shoulder for lack of a better method of showing her support. "Sweetie, when you look like you do, and you were dancing like you were, it's a wonder this didn't happen sooner. Boys ju-"

"But I didn't mean to!" Casper sobbed, lifting her head off the table and fixing her stare on the ruby-quartz shades of the extremely worried older mutant.

Lance

"Kitty-Kat finally wise up and realize what a God-awful dancer you are? Or did whatever you drugged her with wear off sooner than you expected?" Pietro, Magneto's speedy son, snickered upon Shakedown's arrival at the table, having seen all that had transpired out on the dance floor between the star-crossed couple, but failing to have noticed why exactly it was that the Friendly Ghost had retreated so quickly from his teammates company.

"Yeah, yo, how'd ya manage to make your Pretty Kitty cry?" The most unhygienic member of the Brotherhood inquired from his squatted position on the plastic chair he had snagged as his own – the seat that would later have to be hosed down by the cleaning crew because of the putrid smell – before Lance could even open his mouth to reject Quicksilver's claim that he had drugged his date for the evening.

Lance Alvers just groaned and dropped into the free chair between the monstrous – and so far silent –Blob and the silver haired boy, putting his elbows on the table and lowering his face into his hands. It had been going so well, so perfectly, and then he had had to go and ruin it. If there was a bigger pervert on the face of the planet he would have very much liked to meet them. What had he been thinking when Kitty has asked him to accompany her to the dance, anyway?! She wouldn't have even been in any of his senior classes if it wasn't for her unrivalled intellect and her pushy parents. Kitty was fifteen, and by all rights should have been a freshman or a sophomore at the most, at this time of night she should have been at home, doing homework or watching television, not being preyed on by her much older peers for her considerable dancing abilities. And there he was taking advantage of those said talents by letting her grind on him non-stop for past two hours. It served him right, having her running away from him like that, but she didn't deserve to be suffering for his mistakes. And yet she was. The Earth manipulator's hands fisted in his fair, messy hair; he had blown it, his one chance to do something good with his life, his one reason for getting out of bed and forcing himself to go to school every morning, and he had screwed it all up. And for what? A single night of obscene dancing? Now Kitty was never going to speak to him again, she was going to ask Dr McCoy for a different lab partner, and they were going to end up like Evan and Pietro whenever their teams did battle. Great, just fucking great.

Shakedown leant back in his chair, exasperated and frustrated at himself beyond belief, his male organs had had to pick right then to spring into action hadn't they? They couldn't have waited till the night was over and he had retreated into the confines of his own room so he could deal with the disturbance properly, could they? Nope, they had had to do it right then, when that song was on, the one Kitty had proclaimed would be their last before they treated themselves to a well-deserved rest.

Suddenly Quicksilver leapt to his feet, knocking his seat backwards and to the floor in his haste, causing the eighteen year olds hands to fall away from his face as the molded plastic crashed to the floor, curious as to what had upset him teammate so. "Whoa!" he cried out, silver-blue eyes wide and incriminating. "Were you planning on leaving us with any dignity after tonight, Lance?

It was with that announcement that the other male mutants present cottoned on to what startled Eric Lensherr's son and they had too rose to their feet, varying expressions of apprehension and unease on their faces. The disgrace and humiliation really set in for the Brotherhood field leader then, and he could not agree more with what Toad said next: "That's sick, yo!" Shakedown covered his face with his hands yet again, cursing under his breath like he wouldn't have dared done around the X-Men's baby, regretting everything from his birth to his decision to stay on the dance floor with Kitty so dangerously close. Eventually his teammates settled back into their places, but kept quite a distance between themselves and the offending resident of their so-called boarding house, as if dethatching themselves physically would prevent anyone from associating them as a group.

"So… Kit-Kat's going to be accommodating to your… predicament and let you sweep her out of this poor-excuse-for-a-party, then?" The speedster questioned the older boy, curiosity as well as a hint of suspicion in his voice.

Lance Alvers lifted his face from his hands once more, offended as well as upset by the very suggestion that he even attempt to do anything with the young girl. Not only because Kristen and Jean would have his head, and Logan would likely hunt him down and castrate him as soon as she was informed of the situation, but because it was just… wrong! She was fifteen, and though he had had numerous fantasies and dreams about such a thing he would never dare violate her like that, even if he didn't have the other X-Men's wrath to deal with, and even if he was certain she'd be alright with it. He may have been a criminal back in Crete; he may have tried to use Casper's unique ability to steal answers to a test the very day her powers had manifested, but he couldn't even think about molesting Kitty, at least not while she was still so young…

His hands clenched into fists, he grit his teeth and fixed the lanky, light-haired male with a glare so fierce that it was just as well he was not gifted with Cyclops ability, because glasses or no he would have blasted the boy into smithereens. As it was the polished floorboards beneath their feet did quiver a little in their place, though it would have been scarcely noticeable to anyone but the mutant who had caused the movement. Unfortunately the look on his face did nothing to deter the frog-like teen from contributing his own devised quip into the banter.

"Bet the alcohol helped with that, eh, yo?" He waggled his eyebrows at the other boys seated at the table, a knowing smirk upturning one side of his discolored mouth.

"What?!" Shakedown demanded, slamming his sizable fists down on the surface of the circular table, this time generating a slightly greater tremor.

"Duncan 'nd his pals spiked the punch, Lance." The formerly quiet Blob deadpan-drawled, his deep voice hinting that that was information that the earth-shaker should have already been in possession of.

"You didn't know?" Pietro chuckled contemptuously, "You were taking Kitten over there so often that we thought you were trying to get her drunk so she wouldn't object to a bit of bathroom groping."

Lance felt his jaw slacken momentarily, and he glanced over his shoulder to see his obviously tipsy "pretty Kitty" slumping against the leader of the X-Men, who then tried her best to steer the dancer into a seat. His stomach lurched painfully with the knowledge that he had had a hand in doing that to her, but guilt made a rapid transformation into anger when he turned back to his friends to see the ranging expressions of mirth and amusement. That his mates would assume that he had been planning to take advantage of his date by getting her intoxicated was enough to get his blood boiling. Did they have no ethics, no morals? He had known they weren't exactly right in the head, being that they followed some of Mystique's stranger commands without question, but he hadn't realized how completely disgusting they were. Yes, they were extremely hormonal teenagers with some considerable talents, but was that really any excuse to think so poorly of him? Of course he had thought about sleeping with the ghost girl, but he would have never tried anything past a bit of snogging – not that they had progressed that far, though – in reality, not while it could still be considered statutory rape. Duncan and his crew may have been up for that sort of thing with their dates, which was probably their reason for tainting the punch in the first place, but he wasn't like that… at least he didn't think he was. He had more class and dignity then the losers he hung with, didn't he? Kitty didn't think of him as nothing more then some sex-crazed male, she could see the things that set him apart from his friends, couldn't she? It was enough to hope for that she had known he wasn't like the other members of his team, he couldn't hope that she still thought his intentions with her were nothing but honorable now, however, not after the presence, that haunted not only his underwear but also some majority of his thoughts while he had her in mind, had made itself known.

***

Kristen

The music had seemed to calm down considerably since the little incident between the youngest teen present and the partner she had chosen to be her date for the evening, so Kristen had to assume that the teachers supervising the students – some of whom were quite obviously drunk – had seen what had occurred and determined that that was their cue to alter the style of song and pray that that would result in more appropriate methods of dancing. It was just as well too, because with the student body in ranging levels of tipsiness it probably would not have been wise to have everyone grinding on each other too excessively, the school was only a short walking distance away from a few of the less expensive hotels this side of Bayville after all… That said, a good bulk of the population that was inhabiting the decorated gymnasium for the annual Sadie Hawkins dance had returned to the dance floor to resume entertaining the main purpose of the night; dancing, though this time in a vastly less obscene manner. The chestnut haired fifteen year old had remained at the table with Cyclops however, seeing as the male who had escorted her there had been deemed too irresponsible, hormonal, and just plain not good enough to be permitted to get within twenty feet of the X-Men's table. After a few comforting words their redheaded teammate had returned to her own date's beckoning arms, despite a stream of new objections and insistences that she stay, courtesy of the shade-wearer. Katherine had shot many meaningful glares that Kristen guessed had something to do with the one thing that they were both sure would get Jean to stay, but the leader of the X-Men had just pretended not to notice, and inwardly justified her actions by telling herself that she could not leave Kitty on her lonesome while the Brotherhood boy was still lurking around. And lurking around he certainly was, every time Cyclops risked a glimpse in his direction she saw that his eyes were only focused on one thing, and even when she wasn't looking at him she still felt like he was burning a hole in the back of her head, as if silently urging her to leave so that he could have a chance at redeeming himself with Casper. Well, she had news for him: Not going to happen.

"Feeling better?" The older brunette asked her quiet companion, who for some reason or another was staring at the bottle of water she had retrieved from the same vending machine that Cyclops had gotten her own from. At the sound of her surrogate big sister's voice though, she looked up.

"A bit." She confessed simply, putting on a weary smile for the other mutant and taking her brown eyes to the dance floor instead of dropping it back to the plastic bottle, gazing longingly at the easily moving bodies. She obviously wanted to be out there, in the midst of all that, which was what lead to Kristen's next question.

"You wanna dance?" It wasn't a question so much as a statement, she knew Kitty loved dancing, no matter what style, the real question was whether or not she'd be willing to dance with the optic-blast shooting female.

The slender ballerina looked back at her friend, eyes round in disbelief. "You want to, like, dance?" She asked incredulously, eyebrows receding almost comically into her hairline at the absurdity of the offer.

"What, you don't want to dance with me, Kit-Kat?" Kristen put her hand over her heart, feigning that the comment had hurt her supposedly fragile feelings.

"No offense, Kristen, but I've seen you dance; you're hopeless. Two left feet, try three! Besides, if you ever get up the guts to ask Jean to dance seeing you dancing with me first will, like, make her think it's totally just a friend thing. And you obviously like Jean more than 'just a friend'." The little brunette explained carefully with an absent-minded wave of her hand.

"You are in a better mood now, aren't you?" The seventeen year old laughed. It certainly did seem that she had recovered from the trauma of feeling her date's unmentionable standing at attention through his jeans, if her unreserved teasing was anything to go by that is. Cyclops knew it was all in good fun though, so she didn't mind the "three left feet" quip, it was quite true anyway, she was horrible at dancing.

"Definitely."

Kitty

Sitting there, staring at something he would never be allowed to have, touch, or even talk to, ever again was the worst kind of torture. It was the kind where you knew you have blown your chances at something life-changing, something you wanted more than anything else, something you would give almost anything to have, something just out of your reach, and still Lance Alvers could not make himself look away. She was beautiful, mesmerizing, and he was totally unworthy of her attention, let alone anything else. Even so, she was staring right back at him, with a perfectly sculpted, dainty chin resting on the heel of her hand and – unless he was mistaken – the inklings of a smile playing at one side of her mouth. And to make things even better it wasn't anything like the type of staring one did while trying to discreetly give someone a once over, either behind your locker door or over your text book, not that Shakedown would know anything about that… Anyway, the point was that they were looking right into each other's eyes, and with such intensity that they might as well have been trying to glimpse one another's soul, or at least convey some kind of message.

Suddenly, they both rose to their feet, and, ignoring the questioning looks they were getting from the mutants in their company, began to close the gap between their bodies one step at a time. They met in the middle of the dance floor, despite their respective friends' both physical and verbal protests, all of which the mutants causing the worry had just shrugged off. When they stopped walking they were standing a foot apart, not touching, unmoving, in the centre of the room. To the curious onlookers it appeared very much like the two teens had been drawn together by some unseeable force, as if suddenly their puppeteers had decided it was time they rejoin for one last dance, and had maneuvered the pair accordingly. The couple being scrutinized however had been very much aware of what they had been doing.

"Did you, like, hear about the punch?" The young female questioned curiously, holding the eighteen year olds gaze as if it was her life line, and it very well might have been, because as soon as she stepped away from him Kristen would swoop in and start demanding answers.

"I did. A-and, Kitty, about the… I'm really sorry." He stuttered, keeping his eyes locked on hers just as fiercely, only his own optics were silently pleading for her forgiveness.

"It's okay." The brunette answered easily, smiling understandingly up at him in a way that made his heart swell with joy and his own mouth turn upwards into a sheepish grin. "I'm sorry, too. I… I should have realized that, uhh, that, like, yo-" Lance halted the surge of tongue-tied nonsense with a well-placed finger to the centre of her lips, chuckling lightly at her glowering expression as he did so.

"Just shut up and dance, Pryde." He laughed, reluctantly removing his finger from her pouting lips. "You know you want to."

Kitty just rolled her eyes and smirked, surprised by his sudden boldness considering what had happened earlier, just as he was secretly shocked by how quickly she had forgiven him. He had been willing to grovel, to get down on his knees and beg for her to take him back if that's what it took to get one last dance, to ensure that they would still be mixing deadly concoctions in chemistry, staying awake well past midnight just to finish discussing whatever silly topic they were going on about, and steering clear of each other at all costs when their teams decided it was time for another battle. It was absurd really, how greatly he depended on those simple things to keep him sane, how prepared he was to ignore his friends' mockery, and how he wished that maybe one day he wouldn't have to bite down so hard on the inside of his cheek to prevent himself from leaning down and pressing his mouth against hers…

Seeing that there was no risk of him getting worked up – or so Katherine dearly hoped – with the style of dancing now being performed in the gym, the ghost girl happily complied with the earth-manipulator's suggestion, or rather order, and brought her hands up to his broad shoulders, unknowingly startling him out of his musings. It was probably just as well she had too; it would definitely not have been wise to permit him to continue on that train of thought, which was why Shakedown began frantically cursing himself for forgetting where he was, and who was touching him, yet again. He swiftly withdrew his hands from his pockets and placed them carefully on Casper's petite waist, hastily composing his face so his expression wouldn't give away what had caused him to zone out so quickly. Thank the good Lord she was not a telepath. The fifteen year old gave him a modest smile as they started dancing again, this time with minimal movement on both their parts, shuffling their feet and occasionally moving their hips as they travelled in their small, slow circle.

Kristen

It was ridiculous, absurd, totally out of the question, however Cyclops had to admire the young girl, had to give Kitty her props; it took a big person to forgive and forget like that, to return to someone after they had wronged you, especially in the manner that the male had done so. There must have been more than physical attraction between them, the seventeen year old realized, to have Kitty letting Shakedown off the hook so readily, to allowing him to touch her like that again so easily. Then again, maybe Casper was just plain crazy, or at least too intoxicated to see sense. Yeah, that seemed like a more logical explanation, because honestly, how could anyone find anything in Lance that was even the slightest bit likeable? He wasn't even that good looking – or at least Kristen didn't think so anyway – for Pete's sake! And yet there they were, in the middle of the dance floor, laughing and smiling as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile Kristen was forced to suffer through her own company yet again, and had once more resorted to casting longing glances in the direction of the redhead she held much adoration for; all while shooting glowering looks – which were unfortunately mostly concealed by the specialized shades she was made to wear twenty-four seven – at Jean's burly blond dancing partner, who was indeed looking worse for wear after all the alcohol he had knowingly consumed.

A startled, shrill scream which was soon joined by a whole chorus of panicked yells quickly drew the lonely brunette's hidden eyes away from the couple – who too had stopped swaying and were now wearing equal expressions of shock and bewilderment – and landed on the swirling red vortex-like thing that had materialized between the pair she had previously been looking at. Lance – who had been in the process of twirling the younger teen under his arm when the portal had ripped open in the space between them– had his eyes riveted on the strange phenomenon as it grew, forcing him and his wide-eyed date to put more and more distance between them in order to avoid coming into contact with bizarre mass.

"Lance!" Cyclops heard Casper yell accusingly over the wild exclamations of the crowd.

"It wasn't me!" The startled Brotherhood boy shouted back, though he didn't sound quite so sure of himself, the seventeen year old would even go so far as to venture that he was scared.

Just as the optic blast shooting mutant was rising to her feet and starting in the direction of the odd occurrence with one hand posed and ready at the stem of the ruby-quartz sunglasses a monstrous red creature charged head-first out of the glowing rift and right into – or rather though – the now intangible Katherine Pryde. After which all hell proceeded to break loose.

Kitty

Kitty stood there, open mouthed and wide eyed as the last of the thick, crimson, scaly tail passed through her ghost-like body. The feeling was decidedly unlike anything she had ever felt before, certainly dissimilar to walking through a wall or phasing to allow something or another in the Danger Room to go through her rather than hit her. It wasn't something she could readily explain though, it was just… different. Not exactly bad or good different either, it didn't hurt, or make her feel nauseous, nor what it a particularly pleasant sensation. So she just stood there, in a shocked daze, as more of the bear-sized dinosaur-looking beasts catapulted from the dark, two-dimensional gateway and into the gymnasium. Screams of undisguised horror filled the air along with the loud, hurried footfalls of her peers as they either fled from the hall or attempted to take refuge behind one of the many upturned tables.

"Casper, move!" An agitated Cyclops bellowed, already out of what the Jewish girl called her depressed-loner-who-wants-so-bad-to-be-dancing-with-that-sexy-redhead slump and into what she referred to as overprotective-obsessive-fearless-leader mode. And strangely enough the older brunette actually succeeded in what the massive creatures terrorizing the party-goers had been unable to: startle her into commission.

Turning from the waist the little ballerina spotted the famous Jean Grey holding a hand to her right temple and employing her considerable abilities in order to protect the greasy flesh and contaminated blood of the rowdy footballers and their respective dates, thrusting her free hand out in front of her to telekinetically shove one of the alien monsters out of the way, but not before Duncan and a few of his mates landed in the punchbowl. If the situation hadn't been quite so dangerous the fifteen year old may have laughed. And really loudly at that, she realized when she saw the expression of the blond male's face. If she wasn't mistaken it was one of total horror that he may just have ruined his father's best suit jacket and his mother's favourite blouse, mixed with the same slightly confused look that the other intoxicated boy's wore, the one that seemed to indicate that he didn't quite understand what had happened and how he had ended up where he had. Further assessment of the situation saw Rogue ushering his friend – Chuck, if she was remembering correctly – to join the flock of shrieking students as they barreled out the auditorium doors, Karin dissipating in the all-too-familiar brimstone-smelling cloud, and a streak of red light incapacitating yet another of the huge animals. Struggling to determine where her strengths would be best utilized and finally pinpointing one of the beasts making a beeline for the fleeing teens, Katherine was abruptly knocked off her feet by a quake that saw the polished floorboards she had previously been dancing on shuddering rather violently. She wasn't at all surprise to find that the perpetrator was none other than the Brotherhood boy she had asked to the dance, though the sight of the red beast tumbling to the ground just ahead of him did see the X-Men going rather wide-eyed with the knowledge that a close encounter with the previously unseen foe had only narrowly been avoided.

"C'mon, pretty Kitty, on your feet." He chided with a sense of wry humor that made her want to smack that deliberate smirk right off his face. Even so, she took his offered hands with a roll of her eyes and permitted him to pull her back to her feet.

Kristen

After a few minutes of fighting off monster after monster Cyclops realized with a jolt where exactly she recognized the towering beasts from: the wide-screen in the control room that had been monitoring Karin's progress through the other dimension Forge had discovered she passed through when she teleported. Unfortunately the information didn't much offer her any insight into an easier approach to battling the creatures. It did, however, suggest where they had come from and how they had come to be in the high school's gymnasium – one of the few places Nightcrawler had teleported to while testing the mutant genius' contraption. Gritting her teeth the female footballer lifted her specialized shades and sent another beam of red in the direction of the last scaly, crimson fiend still on its feet.

"Jean!" She called to the soccer player who was telekinetically moving the other-worldly animals back into the portal one by one.

"Yeah?" The redhead responded, looking over her shoulder but keeping her arm fully extended at shoulder height in front of her as another of the beasts disappeared into the dimensional rift.

"This way," The slightly younger of the two gestured to the open double doors of the auditorium with a sweeping arc of her left arm.

"Just a sec." Jean stalled, using her powers to lift the dinosaur-looking animal that Kristen had just put out and directing it towards fissure.

With a nod the optic blast-shooting mutant turned her attention to the approaching ghost girl and her entourage of Brotherhood mutants. She looked over the motley crew with raised eyebrows, taking in the males' untucked shirts, mismatched, poorly fitting suits and scantily done-up ties, acknowledging that the field leader was the only one who appeared to have put any thought into his attire for the evening with a wry smile; undoubtedly he had done it for his date. She took in their helpless, expectant please-tell-us-what-the-the-hell-we-should-do expressions with a smirk of satisfaction. Her rival may have been older than her, he may have had a smaller all-male team to lead, but when it came to the crunch it seemed that the only thing he knew how to do was get his ass kicked by the X-Men, oh and how to have Katherine hanging off his every word. But when confronted with aliens he wasn't the same smart-ass, oh no, he was actually bringing his team to her, looking to her for guidance. Unfortunately there wasn't time for gloating about it right then, or rubbing it in the field leader's face, so with an exasperated sigh she motioned for them all to follow her out into the corridor.

Jean

There was nothing like a scene that could have been out of Jurassic Park to get the adrenalin pumping and expel alcohol from the blood stream, Jean Grey realized as she fought to catch up with the combined group of mutants – which had gained Rogue and Chuck, his human friend, at the last corner – ahead of her. Still, she couldn't determine which she loathed more: dancing with a guy who had no sense of rhythm, playing oblivious as she sipped the spiked punch out of the plastic cup that was being constantly refilled, and having to sit on the aforementioned quarter back's lap and listen to his thoughts while her best friend sat alone; or, fighting dinosaurs in the school gymnasium as the rest of the student body fled and praying that none of them would remember her standing with her arms outstretched as the demons were lifted into the air by an invisible force. Hmm, now that was a hard one. She had to choose the latter of the two though, even though she had had to, like Kitty, discard her high heeled shoes and her dress was now splattered in punch, simply because she got to spend time with the leader of the X-Men rather than the decidedly drunk, dirty-minded blonde male.

"Cyclops," she heard the youngest member of the squad call out, "Like, where are we going?"

"Forge's lab, Kit-Kat. When Karin—" Kristen started to explain before she was cut off by Shakedown.

"Isn't that this way?" He demanded, coming to a stop in the middle of the hallway and pointing at the downward-leading staircase to his left. Casper and the other Brotherhood boys came to a stop, forcing the redhead's teammates –and Chuck – to halt in their tracks as well, giving Jean the opportunity she needed to push past the males and join the shade-wearing brunette.

"This way's quicker." Cyclops stated firmly, but Pietro, Blob, Toad and Lance still looked dubious.

Kristen

She should have known that something along those lines would occur sooner or later, but still she had been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and allowed them to follow in her wake if they so desired, figuring that a few extra hands wouldn't hurt if they did discover more of the creatures down in Forge's lab as she suspected they would. But she should have expected it wouldn't be that easy, should have realized that nothing was ever that easy. Having another willing team of mutants at her disposal, ready to follow any order she gave without question, was obviously too much to ask for, especially when the team of mutants in question was only held together by the need to survive and cause trouble, and hadn't had any training of disciplining to speak of. They didn't respect themselves, let alone each other or anyone else, Mystique only had them wrapped around her finger because they were scared of her, and unfortunately they sure as hell weren't afraid of a seventeen year old girl, never mind that she could shoot red energy beams with enough power to wipe out all of Bayville from her eyes, and all she needed to do was remove her glasses. Actually, that wasn't strictly true anymore, seeing as she had swapped her ruby-quartz glasses for the spare visor she kept in her locker in case of emergency – and this definitely counted as an emergency – the alteration of accessory didn't much matter though, she could still blast them all to smithereens.

"Well, we're going this way, and we're gonna save the school first." The earth manipulator declared defiantly, reaching forward and grabbing hold of his Jewish date's upper arm, "C'mon Kitty."

Kristen gawked at him, not only was he totally incorrect in his belief that he could "save the school" – which was unbelievable on its own - before the X-Men, but he actually thought he could take the ballerina with him, that she'd actually choose him over her team? Casper met her concealed eyes for a second, took in the expressions of the Rogue and Jean, where they stood subtly shaking their heads and flanking the leader of the X-Men, then she looked back and met Lance's cold, hard stare. "I'm sorry, Lance, I can't go with you." The older brunette really, really hoped that that wasn't regret she was hearing in the fifteen year olds voice, or if it was that it was Kitty regretting her choice to ask the Brotherhood member to the dance. It didn't matter that much, or really at all considering their current predicament, the optic blast-shooting mutant would have just appreciated some clarification.

Katherine phased her arm out of Shakedown's grip and started towards the awaiting group of mutants. But before she could close the gap between herself and the other residents of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters the ceiling directly above their heads suddenly collapsed and gave way, sending chunks of plaster had linoleum, and a very unlucky crimson creature, raining down on all the mutants. The breast dropped like a lead weight, impacting upon the ghost girl's chest, expelling the air from her lungs with a soft oooff, and knocking her to the floor – or rather, straight through it.

"Shit!" Cyclops exploded, and had turned to race down the stairs before all off the dust and debris had even had a chance to settle, with Jean and Lance right on her heels.

At the bottom of the staircase all three barged through the door to the classroom that was directly under where they had previously stood on the floor above, the remaining males chasing after them. But the classroom was completely untouched, not a desk, chair, or stick of chalk out of place. Spouting a long stream of curses the leader of the X-Men pushed past her second in command and the rival commander of the Brotherhood, the latter of which had been standing dumbstruck in the doorway, and back out into the hallway. Without another word she turned and sprinted down the corridor, her smart dress shoes squeaking on the floor as she raced for the next set of stairs leading downwards. Once on the ground floor it was a tossup between three classrooms; Kristen beamed open the first – nothing. The second door was blown in by a way of telekinetic energy – nothing. The third was pushed open – and there was Kitty, lying unconscious amidst a mess of broken desks, the beasts that had been phased with her leaning over her body, biting through the soft flesh of her thigh. Without a second thought the seventeen year old spun the dial on her visor then mashed her finger against the appropriate button, blasting the dinosaur-like creature away from the unmoving, slender ballerina. Jean rushed straight in, dropping to her knees on the floor by the young brunette, cringing at the damage that had been done to her leg.

Lance

"Lance, shirt now." The redhead held her hand out towards him and snapped her fingers, motioning for him to hand over his shirt. Without a word he did as he was asked, stripping off his jacket first and pitching it onto a nearby desk, not bothering with the buttons on his shirt he yanked it open and tossed into the telepath's waiting hand.

Kristen sparks moved forward then and dropped to the floor by the slightly older female, carefully holding Katherine's leg up as Jean tore the thin material into long strips then proceeded to wrap them tightly around the large, bleeding wound, tying them in tight individual knots on the outside of her thigh. Shakedown looking on in awe, slowly wandering closer, jacket forgotten in his hand. The other Brotherhood boys along with chuck and Rogue were crowding the doorway, reluctant to get any closer. The crimson liquid was quickly seeping through the makeshift bandages, and, muttering curses, the redhead instructed the leader of the X-Men to put pressure on it as she checked the fifteen year olds pulse.

***

Kitty

She couldn't remember how she had gotten out into Lance's jeep, or how his shirt had come to be in bloody shreds tied tight around her leg. But she wasn't complaining, not about the shirt thing anyway, considering the extremely nice view she now had of her date's chest. What she was complaining about the severe pain being generated by the wound on her thigh – according to Lance a "dinosaur had found her tasty." It honestly felt a huge chunk had been taken out of her leg and that her knee and only hanging on by a disgusting thread of flesh, but of course Shakedown had assured her that that was far from the case and that her leg was very much intact, minus a couple of layers of skin that the "dinosaur had eaten".

"I'm going to die." She wailed from her position in the back of his car, where she was sitting sideways, her back up against the door and her legs draped over his lap, his hands pressing down quite painfully over the manmade bandages. Casper tipped her head back so it dangled out of the car, her fingers sweeping the sweat-drenched strands of her fringe of her forehead.

"You better not, Cyke would kill me."

Lance

Jean had ordered him to take Kitty out of the school and back to his jeep, making him swear that he would stay there with her until they finished returning the strange creatures to their own dimension. So there he was, sitting outside of Bayville high in his jeep, his hands keeping pressure on his date's leg in a so-far-unsuccessful attempt to stem the bleeding. He wanted to drive her to a hospital, get her on painkillers and order the doctors to fix her, but he had been told to stay put. Besides, they would want to know what had happened to her, they'd want medical details and other pieces on information he wasn't in a position to give, and they'd most likely blame him for the alcohol still in her system. They'd make him wait outside as they did whatever they needed to, and he knew that was something he wouldn't be able to do. Patient he was definitely not. Which was why sitting in his car with the young mutant in his lap and his hands drenched in her blood waiting for Kristen and everyone else to get back while Kitty tried to convince him that she was going to die, was not much fun at all. He wanted to strangle himself for letting that happen to her, wanted to bury the stupid beast that had done that to her in the bodies of its dinosaur buddies, but instead he was stuck, unable to do anything to expel his fury, as his pretty Kitty lay dying in his lap. He told her over and over that she was going to be fine, but he didn't believe it himself; there was no way she was going to be fine, there was too much blood, she was too pale, too weak, she was going to die, right there, in his lap, and he was incapable of doing anything about it.

"You better not, Cyke would kill me." A weak attempt at making her laugh on his part, but she still smiled for him, that gorgeous, innocent, forgiving smile; she knew he was lying.

She brought her head forward again, leant forward to rest it on his bare shoulder, as if it had become too heavy for her to hold up on her own. "Some party, huh?" She murmured after a couple minutes, "I bet, like, everyone will be talking about it tomorrow." And there it was, in the silence after those few words, the implication that she would not be there to witness the numerous discussions that tonight's events would lead to. Shakedown fought back tears. "I hope no one saw me phase." He forced himself to laugh.

"I wouldn't worry; I think everyone was too busy running for their lives to notice your ghost act." This time she didn't smile, he didn't blame her. Silence again, her breaths coming in ragged gasps, sweeping over his collarbone and bringing Goosebumps to his arms. He wanted to hit something, wanted to make the earth shake until the world fell to their knees.

An eternity passed before she spoke again, "Thanks for coming with me, Lance." He had to look away, squeeze his eyes shut to stop the torrent of tears quickly building up from exposing him. She wasn't accusing him of anything, there was no regret in her voice; she was glad she had asked him, that he had said yes, even though she wouldn't have attended the dance without him, even though she would've lived till tomorrow if he had said no.

"No problem, pretty Kitty." He turned his eyes back on her, and without thinking took one bloody hand off her leg and tilted her chin up. Her expression was bewildered, curious, he didn't open his mouth to offer and explanation, it wasn't like he had one to give anyway. He dipped his head, caught her slightly parted lips with his own and let his eyes close, letting his instinct guide the slow movement of his lips, taking in the subtle strawberry taste of her lips and how willingly they caressed his own, committing it all to memory. When they parted he saw movement over her head, and grinned. "They're here."

Epilogue

Kitty

As clumsy as she was, she had never used crutches before, which was undoubtedly obvious to anyone who spared her a second glace as she attempted to get her books out of her bag and into her locker with only one foot on the ground and crutches balances precariously under her armpits. It was her first day back in school after a week spent recovering and whatnot in her bedroom at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. After Lance had kissed her – and she had kissed him back – the x-Men had arrived on the scene and she had been plucked from the jeep and rushed back to the mansion where Doctor Henry McCoy had been waiting with a syringe full of morphine that had been injected into her arm despite her protests before Logan could lift her from the car. Everything after that was one big blur; she didn't think that she missed anything important though. Lance had come in to visit her every day after school, bringing flowers that looked suspiciously like the ones out the front of the institute, or from outside of the high school. They'd talked and laughed and kissed until Logan or Kristen had come in and thrown him out.

Suddenly a pair of familiar hands were on her waist, wrapping around her from behind, "Welcome back, gorgeous," he murmured by her ear, pressing his lips against the side of her head briefly before releasing her and stepping into her line of sight. "Allow me." Lance easily removed the text books from the hand that had been juggling them and slid them neatly into her open locker. Prying her back pack out of her fingers he set it down on the floor at their feet and leaned in for another, proper, kiss, on the lips this time, steadying her with as hand on her waist.

"Hey!" Another voice interrupted, breaking them apart, "None of that here, thank you, Kit-Kat has to get to class." Kristen reminded the two teens, an arm around the waist of her redheaded best friend who was tapping a finger on the face of her watch in a mock chastising manner.

"Yipee." Katherine whooped sarcastically, rolling her brown eyes and reaching out to slam her locker door shut. First class: PE, and for the first time ever she had an excuse that didn't involve "I suck" which would allow her to just sit and watch as her class mates frolicked around the field, many thanks to the dinosaurs for that.