Disclaimer: don't own X-Men, and Pyro isn't stashed under my bed. Or Remy. Nope. Just odd socks and Pokemon cards


Save Me.

I said maybe
You're going to be the one who saves me
And after all
You're my wonderwall
'Wonderwall' — Oasis

. . .

The Second Time

The second time, it was an accident. Or maybe destiny. Same difference. And she didn't really save him, only facilitated it. Did that count?

The call was of the anonymous nature, the kind that makes you wonder, if this a trap, or is someone just too good for their own good. After an hour of wandering the complex, she was definitely erring on the former. The place, this great sprawl of white tiles and long, steel corridors, it looked just like any other research centre, with nosy air conditioning and greasy fries. Logan grumbled as they reassembled, Rogue and Remy bickering their way around the sexual tension, Storm and Hank talking in hushed voices. Bobby tried to catch her eye, throw her a smile, but she looked down at her shoes instead. Suddenly they were fascinating.

"Hey," he said, his hand on her back. Comforting? "You okay? You look a little spooked."

She scuffed her boot. "Well, it's spooky."

"Yeah. C'mon, let's, uh, let's go back to the jet. Start it up."

When she didn't move, he made to pull her forwards, pull her to him, but she was a little too lost in her own world, a stumbled, sideways, and through.

Her phasing had been off recently.

This room was a solid cube, everywhere, screens. And the scenes they depicted, they were nothing like the building she had just combed. They were cells, people, banging off walls; empty corridors, men pacing up and down, caps pulled low, guns ready. Kitty couldn't hear the screaming, but she could smell it.

She stayed in the operations room, watch duty, as Logan and Bobby and Pete ran up and down the corridors, jumping from screen to screen. Lights flashed and bleated as she tapped on keyboards, opening doors. When she couldn't find the password, Logan simply ripped the doors apart. They freed two dozen, all Mutants, all with that air of nastiness that makes them movie bad guys. Only they didn't look like bad guys, not today.

There was one screen, still full. Three men, a table, a victim. Kitty held her comm. device up to her ear, guiding her white knights towards the last room. It was a box, a stone box.

"I can't get in," Logan muttered. She watched him slam up against the door. "I can't get in."

"We can't leave him!" Storm cried.

They were looking up at her, strained faces in the camera, beckoning her down.

"Get yo' game face on Shadowcat." That was Remy. He had tried to blast the door open, but it held.

When they called her that, Shadowcat, she felt like a different person. She didn't feel like a person at all. On the tiny screen, there was punching and kicking, and she was no doctor, but what they did to his shoulder, she could hear things rip through the fuzzy glass.

Kitty slipped through the floor and landed, like a cat, next to Bobby. He pointed her right. "That one."

For steel so thick, it didn't contain the screams. They were all watching her now, everybody. She recognised some of them, from past encounters, some as far back as Alcatraz. There was a girl, a pretty redhead of about her age, with raccoon eyes and blood, crusting. "Prosze," she said. She sounded foreign. "Prosze.Please."

Kitty nodded. It wasn't that she didn't want to, it was only that she didn't want to disappoint. She took a breath. She always held her breath.

Two men held him down, on his knees, one hand splayed across the scrubbed table. There was blood, hot and salt. The third man held a hammer.

"Look, kid, I'm gonna make this simple as doh, reh, mi. We know who you are. And we know you know where the X-Men are. And, hey, kid, look at me– "

They twisted him, forcing him to look.

Kitty released the breath. Mist wafted through the salty air. The men were only men; they didn't notice.

"You're gonna fucking tell me."

He spat out, red, on the floor. "Go to Hell."

The hammer, rose, fell, and there was a wet, squishing, tearing sound. A pause. A scream. Kitty wasn't sure if it came from her, or not.

She came back, a second later, Logan in tow. He was curled up on the floor, hand still taped to the table, blood dripping off the edge. Steady. Drip.

Kitty eased away the duct tape, slick with blood. She tried not to look. It wasn't really a hand, not anymore. He slithered to the floor. She didn't know what to say, so she held him instead, smoothing back his hair while he vomited. Logan helped them out.

Later, in the jet, him, unconscious with his head in her lap, Bobby pretending not to look, Storm came over with a look on her face. She crouched down beside them. Laid a hand to his forehead.

"Hank says he tried, but ..."

The two women exchanged looks. The bandages, so very white, was turning red already. "Look, Kitty. This is serious. What we just did."

"I know that," Kitty said. "I'm not little kid."

Storm smiled, a sad little thing. She brushed back a stray strand that had escaped Kitty's ponytail. "I know that."

"So tell me."

The best they could do was an old house of the Professor's, buried in the countryside. It had a long porch and an empty rocker and all around were pine trees, blue through the heat haze. "Here." Storm handed her a comm. device. "We'll be listening."

Logan carried him, still unconscious, up to the house. Banged his head off the doorpost.

"Thanks," Kitty said, pocketing it. She breathed deeply. The air here was hot and dry and baked her lungs. Storm surveyed her, this young woman, for a long moment, and then folded her into an embrace.

"You don't have to do this, Kitty. There are other people who could stay."

Kitty shrugged. "It's only for a little while, like you said. Until this dies down. And besides, they must have seen me too. Maybe it's for the best."

"You were very brave to volunteer," Storm said. "Especially, considering ..."

Kitty looked past her. Bobby stood on the gangplank. Staring at her. She waved goodbye, and he smiled, tightly. He didn't wave back.

Kitty and Storm climbed the old steps together. They creaked, groaning. Dark stains pitter-pattered across the porch. Kitty gulped. Storm squeezed her shoulder. "You saved them all, Kitty. If it wasn't for you, if you hadn't discovered that room."

How was it, that grown ups always knew what you were thinking?

"I could have stopped them. I just stood there." A confession, "I was scared."

Scared, because, just the tiniest, darkest part of her wanted to see him scream. This was twice she had saved John Allerdyce, only this time, she wasn't so sure he deserved it. But that didn't stop her sitting up, all night long, just watching him breathe.