Characters: Kitty Pryde/ShadowCat, Logan/Wolverine, Emma Frost/The White Queen, Scott Summers/Cyclops, Dr Hank McCoy/Beast and Piotr Rasputin/Colossus.
Setting: Some time after Giant Astonishing X-Men #1
Summary:A stranger calls Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and delivers an equally strange message intended for a Mr. James Howlett. Which long-lost X-Man has finally returned for another chance at life, and how did she find her way home?
Disclaimer: All the characters, settings and previous events are property of Marvel; however the plot and words all belong to myself. This story is intended for entertainment purposes and no profits are being made. Thank you for reading.
A/N: This tale based Marvel's X-Men comics, particularly the Astonishing X-Men series by Joss Whedon. I am not familiar, nor do I pretend to be, with any other X-Men comic series. I apologize if I have gotten something wrong or taken anything out of context. I also apologize for any of the characters not behaving as they normally would. All feedback is loved and fully appreciated.
On a train bound for Westchester, among the throng of middle-aged men and women returning home from work for the day, a young woman was seated on the hard, plastic chair reserved for disabled, pregnant or elderly passengers. She had long, wavy brown hair that fell well past her shoulders, dark coloured skinny jeans accented legs that any dancer would have been proud of, and a tight, low-cut, deep red tee hugged her gorgeous figure. She wore big, dark sunglasses pushed right back on her nose, and a stick with a ball on one end rested across her knees. She looked around the train as if she had never been on one before and was still trying to figure out how it worked – a lot like a young child would.
She didn't relax until the train reached its destination half-hour later. She stood when the train came to a stop and a kind lady in her late thirties lay a gentle had on her arm and guided her out of the fast emptying train. It was just as well too, because without the lady's help the brunette might not have been able to find the doors before they closed again. Once on the platform the younger woman muttered a quick and grateful thank you before sliding her arm out of the other woman's grasp and going her own way before she could be offered any more assistance. It might have been wise to keep the helpful lady's company a bit longer however, for no sooner had the brunette moved away from her that she was swept up in the crowd and was carried along with the fast moving people, unable to go her own way.
But the momentary panic subsided as the crowd dispersed, giving her enough room to wave around her stick. Within a few minutes she managed to find somewhere to sit down, and once she had gotten her breath back and her heart beat back to normal she wiggled her out-dated mobile phone out of her tight pocket and flipped it open. It took her a minute to remember the number and another to dial it, but once she had done that she was fine. She held the device to her ear and crossed her index and middle finger of her free hand as she waited for an answer.
"Hello?" An unfamiliar voice answered on the second ring.
"Hi. This is..." the brown –haired woman had been about to introduce herself before she thought better of it and said instead: "Is this Xavier's School for the Gifted?"
"Yes." The female voice on the other end replied simply. "May I ask who is speaking, please?"
The woman in the dark glasses sighed and ignored the question, instead combating it with one of her own. "Can I speak to Emma Frost?"
Whoever had answered the phone was obviously put off by the woman's negligence to answer the inquiry, and took a few moments to respond. "No. Sorry, the headmistress isn't here. Could I take a message?"
She smirked, shaking her head in disbelief upon hearing that Emma was still an acting head of the school. "No, thank you," she replied curtly, "This is rather urgent. Is there someone else I could talk to? Mr Summers? Dr McCoy?" she paused before saying the last name, "Mr Howlet?"
"Mr Howlet?" The girl on the other end repeated, clearly confused. "Oh! You mean Logan! Yeah, I could put Logan on,"
"Thank you," she breathed, running a hand through her brown bangs. "Wait, wait! Could you just tell him something for me instead?"
"Yeah..." The female voice agreed, evidently getting more confused by the second.
"Okay thanks. Just tell 'im: 'The cat's at the station.' He'll know what it means."
"Make sure you tell him right away, it's very important," The brunette didn't wait for an answer before she snapped the phone closed.
Now all she had left to do was wait. She couldn't stop herself from smiling as she got off the bench, excited about what was to come. She made her way over to the double doors which marked the entrance and exit of the Westchester train station. She would wait for him there.
She knew it the moment he walked in, she didn't even need to see him; he still smelt exactly the same, cheap cologne and tobacco smoke. She knew he hadn't recognised her when he strode right past, but why should he? It had been years, and she knew she didn't exactly look the same. Besides, this was going to be much more fun without him knowing who she was. She waited until he had stopped walking to go after him, swinging her stick in front of her as she walked.
"Excuse me?" She said once she had come up behind him.
"Yes?" Logan answered his voice gruff, just like she remembered. That made her smile; it was nice to know some people never changed.
"Are you Logan?" she asked, just in case she had gotten it wrong. She doubted she had though.
"Yeeah, I'm Logan...Do I know you?"
She smirked, now it was time for the fun part. "Well, I sure hope Emma hasn't done something to your brain to make you forget me,"
She could tell by the silence that followed her words that she had thoroughly baffled him. That made her smile widen.
"Sorry? Emma? As in Emma Frost?"
"Yeah. The bitch that made us all go crazy a few years ago." She hoped she wasn't overdoing it.
"Finally!" Katherine Pryde grinned. "I thought you'd never get it!"
"Well it was kinda hard considering what you're wearing, bub. Why are ya dressed like that anyways? You in disguise as a blind person for some reason?"
Kitty shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, she had been dreading this bit. "It's-it's kinda not a disguise, Logan." she admitted.
"Huh? Y-you mean you really can't..." he trailed off, waving a hand in front of her uncovered eyes, "see?" he finished, though from what he had just done he already knew the answer.
"No," An awkward, uncomfortable silence followed that single syllable, but fortunately Logan was quick to recover, as always.
"Ah. So...how are you...even here?" he wanted to know.
"Tell you all 'bout it later. So, did you bring a car or...?"
"I parked the bike round the corner. Will you be right to walk?"
Kitty laughed, for the first time in years she actually laughed. "I'm blind, Logan. Not crippled."
The Wolverine chuckled and scratched the back of his head. "Right. Sorry,"
"S'alright," She waved off his apology, "So we going or what?"
"We're going," He replied, holding up his arm for her.
But Kitty's blind eyes prevented her from seeing anything but darkness and when she didn't move to thread he arm through his and just kept on staring in his general direction with her sunglass covered eyes Logan quickly realised his mistake. He carefully took her had in his other one and placed it in the crook of his arm before proceeding to lead her out the door.
"So, what was with the message you left?" Logan asked as they walked down the block to the parking lot where he had left his motorcycle.
Kitty laughed again and pushed her shades further up her nose. "I dunno. I couldn't talk to you, and I had to be sure you'd come so..."
"You leave a strange message?"
"Yep. I wanted to surprise you,"
"Well you certainly managed that, punkin," the older mutant snorted. "So, why me? Why'd ya ask for me?"
"I actually asked for Emma first, but she wasn't...Then I asked if there was anyone else I could talk to; Scott, Hank, you," Kitty explained.
"Why didn't you ask for Pete?" he asked curiously, not at all offended that he hadn't been the first person she'd asked for.
Kitty bit her bottom lip, directing her unseeing eyes down at her feet. "Well, I-I didn't know whether he had..." she stammered, unable to put her fears into words.
Logan stopped walking and dropped her hand, instead wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Kitten," he sighed, hugging her to his side, an odd gesture for him. "Peter hasn't so much as left his room since Breakworld, well, y'know, 'cept for meals 'nd stuff. Ya remember how Scott was after Jeannie...left us? That's how Pete's bin."
Kitty sniffed and only then did Logan realise that she had been crying. She lifted her head from his chest and pushed two fingers under her glasses, wiping away the tears.
"Thanks, Logan," the brunette murmured, giving him a brave smile.
"Anytime, kid. Now how's about we get you on ma bike and back to the mansion. I'm dying to hear how you managed to get outta that bullet."
"'Kay," Kitty agreed, linking her arm with though Logan's and letting him lead her the rest of the way to his bike.
"Woah," Shadowcat breathed as Logan helped her off the back of his bike. "That's a lot scarier when you can't see."
"Says the girl who sacrificed 'erself ta save the world." Logan pointed out, retrieving the blind mutant's collapsible cane from the under-seat compartment.
"S'not sacrifice if you don't die," She reminded him casually, holding out her had for the stick.
The male didn't respond, silently taking her hand and closing her fingers around the handle of her walking stick. He was remembering the funeral they had held for her the week after it had been confirmed that there was neither a way to stop the bullet nor to get her out. Everyone had cried for the lost, little girl out in space, the girl who had single-handedly saved the Earth.
The event had been held in the professor's rose garden, where Piotr's had been, before Kitty had carried his ashes to Russia. Hank, Scott and himself had said a few words in Peter's place, as the tin man had been too distraught to even stand up. The headstone had been placed next to Wing's, the cured mutant who had been pushed into committing suicide by Danger.
The female mutant however was thinking about the first time she had come to the institute, and how much both it, and she had changed since. It had been rebuilt so many times, as had her life. It had lost bricks and mortar and she had lost friends and comrades. She wasn't going to dwell on past events though, nor was she going to collapse into a pit of remorse and self-pity because of what had happened. She was back now, and that was all that mattered.
"Ready, kid?" The Wolverine asked, bringing her out of the past and back into reality.
The young woman gave a curt nod and started up the concrete driveway, feeling her way with the cane. The clawed man followed her dutifully, staying close just in case her clumsiness decided to make its return. He cast her unseeing eyes slightly upward, where she guessed the body of the school would be. As far as she could tell the mansion hadn't changed much, but then again it wasn't like she could see it.
It took the pair of them quite a while to get inside as Kitty had wanted to stop every now and then either to touch, smell of listen to something that caught her attention. When they had reached the wooden double-doors she had spent quite a bit of time running her hands over the smooth wood, as if to determine whether they were still exactly the same as when she had left them. The frequent stops didn't bother the older mutant at all, and neither did the occasional questions; he was just happy to have her back, and all to himself for the time being.
When they eventually entered the mansion Logan took the brunette straight to the living room and sat her down on the sofa, before leaving her alone so he could search for Scott and Hank. It didn't take him long to find the two, who had both been exactly where he had expected them to be; Hank in his laboratory and Scott in his office. On their way back to the living room he hurriedly explained how he had found her, telling all from the strange telephone message to the adventure up the driveway.
Both males were as pleasantly shocked and surprised as he had been when he had realised who she was at the Westchester train station, and all were equally anxious to hear her tale. For the X-men it may not have been totally unusual to have one of their companions turn up after they were thought dead, but that wasn't to say that had expected this; they hadn't expected Kitty would ever return, let alone by herself.
When the three of them came into the living room Katherine Pryde was sitting rigid on the sofa, her head tilted to one side, but as soon as Logan spoke she turned her head towards them and the biggest of grins spread onto her face.
"Here they are, half-pint," He said propelling Scott Summers towards the couch and pushing his down next to her. "I couldn't find Scott, I think he must be out with Emma, but Hank and Peter are here?"
Scott turned his head to look at Logan, his eyebrows furrowing quizzically as if to say 'I'm right here. Peter's the one who's not.' But the older male simply lifted a finger to his lips in the universal sign for quiet. The acting head of the school gave him a questioning look but obeyed and turned his face back to Kitty. The wide grin had already disappeared, evident that she was more nervous than happy to be sitting next to who she thought was Peter.
If Logan hadn't told him so Cyclops wouldn't have believed that ShadowCat was indeed blind; to him she just looked like the average teenager, wearing a pair of those big, dark sunglasses that the adolescents seemed to find fashionable these days. For all he knew Logan, had just plucked some brunette kid off the street and stuck a pair of glasses on her, but that would have been a cruel trick, even for the Wolverine, seeing as Kitty was the one mutant they did not joke about. But up close, even with the large sunglasses, Scott knew that this girl was Katherine Anne Pryde.
Tentatively, she lifted a slender hand up to his face, feeling the rough stubble on his chin, tracing his lips with the tips of her fingers, stroking her thumb over his cheek. She dropped her hand into her lap and frowned, though it was not evident behind her glasses. "That was a really cruel trick, Logan." She chastised him, as if he had exchanged her shampoo bottle for a can of whipped cream rather than pushed Scott down next to her and claimed that it was the love of her life. She just couldn't find it in her to be mad, not when she had only just gotten back, and not when his foolishness gave her more opportunity to prepare herself for her actual lover. "Did you really think I wouldn't be able to tell? I'm sorry about that, Scott."
"Don't worry about it, Kitty. We're just glad to have you back."
The young girl smiled and manoeuvred herself in closer to the fearless leader of the X-Men, draping an arm over his chest and cuddling herself to his side. And although Cyclops wasn't used to such open affection he wrapped his arms around her delicate frame regardless, drawing her in as close as physics would allow. He didn't want to let go; he wanted to keep his strong arms locked around her in a protective embrace forever. He could not stand to lose another one of his girls. Gradually, Hank moved in, crouching down by the armrest of the worn, overstuffed sofa and wrapping his own blue, furry arms around the returned little girl. Oh how he had missed having her smiling and bouncing down the corridors of the big, old house.
Logan was not impressed. He would have scoffed at the prospect of joining in the "group hug" if he hadn't understood these grown men as well as he did, if he too hadn't experienced the joy of having the brunette back in their lives. Still, he was beyond such displays and remained standing, crossing his arms over his chest and clearing his throat. "You have some explaining to do, kid." He reminded the group, watching them all slowly retract their arms and move awkwardly away from one another.
Kitty nodded and took a deep breath, "You'd better make yourselves comfortable."
And so, once everyone had seated themselves and assured her that they were comfortable she launched into a detailed, if brief, summary of the events that had resulted in her freedom from the bullet that would have otherwise become her tomb. She told the men of how she had remained intangible for fear that the giant missile would cause the destruction of another planet, like it had been intended to do for earth. She informed them of how exhausting it had been, lingering in that form, how weak she had felt. She told them of her struggle to keep it up, and how she had, in the end, lost the battle despite her will-power. She recounted how time had stretched on and on, and how, in spite of that, she had never seemed to get hungry or thirsty. Though likewise she had never recuperated enough to start using her powers again. The bullet had eventually run head long into another planet, far, far away from Earth and thousands of times the size of it.
She had survived, but as she had stumbled out of the wreckage the brightness of the sky had blinded her. She had walked for days until she had eventually come to a colony of extremely tall human-shaped life forms that had immediately taken her into a hospital like establishment. Nothing could be done for her eyes, but they could organize a way to get her home. She had jumped at the chance. So they had found a pod for her, given her instructions, wished her well, and secured her inside sending her on her way. The tiny shuttle had taken less than a day to get back to Earth, and in the meantime she had gotten to see the stars. NASA had seen her coming and had acted appropriately. Through the communication device in the ship she had been able to speak to them, assure them that she was indeed human. Nick Fury had met her upon arrival, volunteered the best medical staff and equipment to examine her eyes. But all she had wanted was to go home. He had offered her a ride too, but she had decided to take a more conventional mode of transport, though she had accepted some cash. She had travelled all the way from Montana to New York, alternating between buses and trains. And now here she was.
"It would be a simple procedure to repair the damaged nerves in your optics." Hank informed her, the first to speak after she had finished telling her tale.
"Give me a couple of days. There's someone I want to see first." She responded graciously.
"Of course. Piotr will be glad to see you."
Katherine smiled and gave another nod, though she hoped he would be a bit more than "glad" to see that she was back. Once more Logan took her arm and slowly, carefully led her upstairs, wordless except for gentle, quiet reassurances that Piotr Nikolaevich Rasputin had indeed waited for her. They reached his door and he left her there with nothing more than a kind squeeze of her hand.
Kitty took a nervous breath and patted her stomach, hissing at the butterflies that fluttered inside to "stop it." Her mind raced, her heart pounded and she rained her shaking hand to knock on the wooden surface that was his bedroom door. Once, twice, three times, then she dropped her hand back to her side, anxiously clenching and unclenching her fist. He took a long while to respond, and she would have given up and walked away if not for the muffled sound of movement she could hear coming from inside. Finally he opened the door.
"Logan I told you– Katya?" He yelped and she couldn't help but smile.
"Surprise." She murmured softly, anticipating to be swept up in his arms in a crushing bear hug. It never came. Instead she felt his large, calloused hands cup her cheeks.
"How..." The Russian giant trailed off unsurely and ShadowCat wished she could see him biting his lips. She put her hands over his, tiny in comparison.
"Not now. I just finished going over that with the others." She felt guilty now that she hadn't come to him first, but that couldn't be helped now. His fingers clumsily ventured to the stems of her glasses, attempting to remove them from her face so nothing would be obstructing his view. She was quick to react though and clamped her hands down over his, preventing him from doing so. "No, don't. Piotr..." She sunk her teeth into the inside of her cheek and swallowed past the lump in her throat. "I can't... I can't," Her voice cracked and she spoke no further, instead stepping into his warm, welcome embrace and burying her face in his chest. Always careful he pulled her inside and closed the door.
"Kitty... I can put you somewhere else. I can make you less afraid." I had promised her I could do that much, and reluctantly she had agreed. It was never meant to be her; it should have been me. But in all my arrogance, in all my selfishness, I hadn't realized what had happened until it was too late. Too late to save that poor little girl. So I did what I could. I gave her what I hope is something she would have liked for herself. I gave her to Piotr for her last moments. He'll never know, it's best that way, he's already endured so much.
"I'm so sorry, Kitty."