Thanks much to all my reviewers and my fantabulous beta Tatiana K!
"We move in three hours!" Scott shouted. Kitty ran to her room and slammed the door, sliding down it.
"Bitch," she hissed. This was going to complicate things. What are the odds? Two clients with the same request, same asking price, same time—
Kitty cursed again as she realized it was the same client provoking a gang war. Oh, dammit! She cursed the client from now until next Sunday and back again. This was really going to split her loyalties. It occurred to her that it could be the government trying to eliminate the thief gangs, using the gangs as weapons of their own destruction (she wasn't a dumb woman), but there was no way to prove that. If that was it, though, there was nothing she could do to stop it except pull the Brotherhood out of the op and refuse ten million dollars that the Brotherhood could use: face it, they were the rattiest, sorriest excuse for thieves, loud and leaving trails of all sort, paling magnificently in comparison to the elite, professional White Gloves. Kitty only led them because Avalanche was her boyfriend, and she wasn't so heartless to let five human beings die for lack of good leadership and jobs.
But why would the government pit the Brotherhood, the loserest losers on the plane of thieving, against the White Gloves? Maybe this wasn't the government, maybe it was just some rich sadist looking for a rise by watching thief mutants beat each other to death over a diamond and a few dollars. Kitty pressed her hands to her temples and groaned in frustration. If this really was the case, then all her friends and cronies (and herself, a little dark part of her mind supplied) would end up killing each other without some huge sacrifice on someone's part.
Over the next two and a half hours, Kitty busied herself trying to figure out ways to avert the looming catastrophe without A) ruining the Brotherhood, B) ruining the White Gloves, C) revealing herself as the leader of the Brotherhood, or D) dying. Half an hour out from go time, Scott came down the hallway, banging on doors and giving the 30-minute warning. Kitty shouted something along the lines of "go away, I'm already ready" at her door and threw her papers down in anger.
She punched her mirror and shattered it, but bloodied her knuckles and was forced to pack with one hand.
"Vould you please not punch ze valls? You know, I'm on ze ozzer side, and I don't enjoy ze symphony of Keety breaking her knuckles her mirror, vhich, surprisingly enough, is connected to my vall." A prickly, familiar German voice said behind Kitty. "Or ze mirrors." She started to growl a response in anger, then composed herself into the 15-year-old girl she played.
"I'm really sorry, I slipped and my hand hit the wall." She said apologetically. Kurt arched an eyebrow.
"Uh-huh." He layered on the sarcasm. Kitty looked confused.
"I really did slip," she insisted innocently. Kurt's eyes darkened.
"Listen, girl, I know you're not who you pretend to be, so cut ze crap. You're obviously angry at somezing or you vouldn't have punched your mirror." He deduced, leaving Kitty fuming.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Kitty said in a level voice bordering on anger, forcing herself not to clench her fists.
"You're not fifteen. You're older. You're secretive and deceptive and have been lying to everybody about everyzing for years. I know zat ze Gloves didn't pick you up vhen zey robbed ze museum for ze Star of David, zat vould mean you'd've been too young to be sleeping out in a museum alone, if you had reasonable parents, and it sounds like you did. You came to ze Gloves in lies, but vhen you leave ze Gloves, I'll make it my personal mission to expose you." Kurt growled and vanished. Kitty listened for the bamf on the other side of the wall, but it didn't happen.
She screamed in pent-up rage and frustration, muffling her face in her pillow. How did that God-forsaken demon know all that?.! Crying in her anger, Kitty spent fifteen minutes calming down and getting back into character. She waited for her eyes and nose to go back to normal, then took her little case out into the hall, got ready, made sure nobody else was around, and called Avalanche.
"Avalanche, the White Gloves just got a call from the same client who called the Brotherhood. They're going to wipe out both our gangs by having us fight each other for the diamond and the money." Kitty said hurriedly, in hushed tones.
"What do you want me to do?" Avalanche asked.
"Get there early. Leave now, get there, steal the diamond, and get out before the Gloves get there. They'll rip the Brotherhood to shreds." Kitty said.
"We need you there to lead us, Shadowcat, we can't fly without a leader." Avalanche said, sounding worried.
"Well, you're going to have to! You act as the leader, have Quicksilver act as the leader, hell, have Toad act as the leader, I don't care!" Kitty snapped irritably. "Just get the diamond and get out before they get there. I promise I'll make it up to you rats somehow later."
"Shadowcat, wait!" Avalanche cried as Kitty hung up the phone, grumbling. She composed herself again as the rest of the Gloves appeared, ready for the mission. Kitty's eyes met Kurt's, and something dangerous flashed through the German man's eyes, but other than that he gave no indication of their encounter earlier.
"So how are we getting there?" Evan asked.
"We have to take a train, which leaves in thirty minutes from the Braddock Train Station. We'll get there in about two hours." Scott said, and Kitty cursed her luck in her mind. The Brotherhood were driving, and depending on traffic, they could get there in two and a half to three hours.
"Can't we drive?" Kitty asked.
"The train's faster and nicer, Kitty, plus we don't have to deal with traffic and it's more ecologically friendly." Scott said with finality, picking up his duffel and heading down to the garage. Kitty followed rather moodily, brain still whirring, trying to avoid this mess. She couldn't desert either of her gangs, but this was looking really impossible.
At the run-down Brotherhood CC, Command Central, an old boarding house, Avalanche ordered everyone to the Jeep, including the Scarlet Witch, who did not want to go, but she was their most powerful weapon. If the Glove Geeks were going to be there, they'd need her. They were on the highway in a few minutes, and since it was the middle of the day, there was really no traffic, so it was pretty much a clear shot to the California Museum of Fine Arts.
At the Braddock Train Station, Scott put the SUV in short-term parking and joined the rest of the Gloves down at the platform. Kurt was clinging to the shadows, Kitty was being uncharacteristically huffy on a bench far away from Kurt. Rogue and Evan were talking about what they'd do with their portions of the ten mil. The speakers above buzzed like cicadas in the still summer air. Scott looked down the platform both ways, seeing only track stretching far out of sight, riddled with the green spots of weeds. The covered platform, a weather-worn translucent corrugated plastic roof shielding it from the sun, was pretty busy. Seems like everybody wanted to get to San Francisco, where the Gloves were going. Scott thanked his lucky stars they didn't do metal detection on trains, or they would all be majorly busted.
"S'cuse me, dears, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. Are you planning to rob someplace?" A kind-faced woman in her fifties came over to Evan and Rogue, face creased in worry. Scott and Jean froze, and Kurt silently teleported away. Kitty pretended to look at her watch and not know them.
"It's jus' a game we play when we're bored wai'n' fer a train or a plane. Yanno, What Would Ya Do Wiv Ten Mil? It's real fun." Rogue thought up quickly, smiling innocently. The woman looked convinced, and returned the smile.
"That's very clever of you. Sorry to bother you, I just couldn't help being the concerned citizen." The lady ambled off.
"Oh, if only you knew," Kitty hissed under her breath, making Evan chuckle.
Suddenly, a garbled voice burst out of the speakers, catching everyone by surprise.
"The two o'clock train to San Francisco is running 45 minutes behind. We apologize for the delay."
Scott groaned and turned to Jean. "Now what?"
"There's really nothing we can do; sorry, Scott." Jean said apologetically. Scott took her hand and squeezed it.
"You're right." In the shadows, Kurt bumped his head against the cool stone wall of the building, wishing he wasn't covered in fur in the stifling, still, sticky heat.
Rogue and Evan joined Kitty on the bench and chatted with her for a while, until she excused herself to go to the ladies' room. Inside the building, she found a pay phone and called Avalanche's cell.
"Quicksilver?" Kitty asked confusedly and held the phone a few feet away from her face, as if Quicksilver could see her through the mouthpiece.
"Yup. Shadowcat? What 'cha up to?"
"Stuck at the Braddock Train Station, waiting with the Gloves for the train. It's 45 minutes late, so you guys had better not have traffic." Kitty said harshly.
"Nope, it's smooth sailing, we're, like, half an hour early. Oh cool, we just passed a sign for Frisco; we're thirty miles out." Quicksilver said, and briefly Kitty heard the roar of wind whipping past the mic. on the cell phone.
"Great." Kitty said and hung up, feeling lighter than she had all day. The Brotherhood were over an hour ahead of the Gloves, which was good for the Brotherhood, but not so good for the Gloves. Oh well, she shrugged to herself as she pushed open the door back to the platform, the White Gloves are rich enough to cope without it.
"What'cha so happy 'bout, Kit?" Rogue asked.
"Mm, I dunno." Kitty said, smiling lightheartedly. The garbled voice came back over the loudspeakers.
"The two o'clock train to San Francisco is back on schedule, thank you for waiting."
The buzzing of the speakers returned.
Kitty's newly lightened heart turned to lead in her chest. There was no way the Brotherhood would be able to get there in time now. Traffic always appeared ten miles out from the 'burbs of Frisco, no matter the time of the day. A part of her mind supplied that, hey, you're part of the Gloves too, you can't just always root for the Brotherhood, plus, any way you slice it, you're still getting a nice cut of the ten mil.
Another part of her mind said very negatively, well, she's the leader of the Brotherhood, which means they depend on her more than the Gloves do—they even replaced her with Kurt, so she could walk out on the Gloves and it wouldn't hurt them manpower-wise one bit.
The first part of her brain rebutted that by saying, the Gloves are her friends! If she walked out on them, it would make everyone really sad; it would totally hurt them emotion- and moral-wise!
Kitty shut up the fight in her head and sat down one of the other benches, only to jump up and grab her bag as the bullet train whistled into the station and slid to a smooth stop in front of them, a gust of cool air rushing out at them as the doors opened. She couldn't keep herself from smiling: thank God, some AC!
Once situated in their private compartment and safely speeding towards San Francisco, ten million dollars, and possibly their deaths, Kitty felt oddly happy. Kurt glared moodily out his window, but as if he could feel her eyes on him, he turned. His lips twitched as he bared his teeth at her and let a low growl rumble from his chest. Kitty glared murderously back at him, earning an odd look from Rogue.
"Girl, ya really know how t' hold a grudge, eh?"
Next time on The White Gloves: a vicious thief-gang war is sparked! Who will win? Who is the mastermind behind the plan? Tune in next week to find out!