Disclaimer: X-Men: Evolution belongs to Marvel, and there is no profit being made from this page.

Rating: T, for themes.

With the muggy air pressing down on her and the sunbeams stabbing her with their heat, all Kitty Pryde could think of as she unlocked the door to her large, unfamiliar, new house was trudging up the staircase and collapsing on her bed. But Kitty knew that a pile of homework that had to be completed sometime this evening awaited her, and this worsened her already grouchy mood. She slammed her petite frame into the door to force it open, mentally cursing the oppressive humidity that caused the wood to expand. She was tempted, as she entered the house, just to drop her metallic, pink Jansport backpack, crammed with books, on the floor and flop on the couch in the living room. She could chow down on sugary snacks and watch whatever mindless sitcom was on T.V.

Kitty did drop her backpack on the floor, sighing with relief as the weight of many heavy textbooks was removed from her shoulders. But instead of grabbing a soda and cookies from the kitchen, she walked outside to the back patio, pulling her shoulder-length brown hair into a ponytail as she did so, and began filling a watering can from the spigot. When her family had lived in Illinois, her family merely had a wooden deck with a wooden picnic table to match.

But in this new Westchester home, her parents had immediately departed on an expedition to Lowe's and returned victoriously with sophisticated glass and metal furniture. Kitty suspected that soon her parents would invite the neighbors, a family by the name of Summers whom they were already fond of, over to dinner and drinks on the back patio. After all, the backyard really was debonair, with its extensive area surrounded by a seven-foot brick wall, and accompanied by a colorful English garden that the previous house owner had obviously cared for.

In contrast to her parents, who adored gardening and were delighted by the various flowers, the only area of the garden Kitty paid any attention to was the roses. She had grown a rosebush back home, and while these weren't the delicate pink blooms she had doted upon, these would do. The red roses climbed and circled around the pierced brick wall in a tangle of petals and thorns. Kitty felt like she could relate.

Eager to escape the humidity, Kitty finished her watering quickly, and then reentered the house, locking both doors. The town of Bayville was only two hours from New York City, and she didn't want to take any chances, being from a small town where everyone knew everyone else. Kitty grabbed her backpack before running up the carpeted staircase, thanking God for air conditioning on the way. Once in her room, Kitty dumped her books on her desk in preparation for when she would do her homework, piled on by sadistic teachers who didn't care that it was only the second week of school.

Kitty tossed her now-empty backpack beside her oak desk and inhaled deeply. This was all she had been able to think about all day at school. Quickly, she walked over to the door of her walk-in closet, yanked it open, darted inside, then slammed it closed behind her. The closet had apparently once been a tiny room of some sort, because it contained a window, to which Kitty had added pale blue silk draperies to match the rest of her bedroom décor. She stood, breathing hard, looking out the window, not daring to turn around.

A throaty chuckle sounded from behind her.

"What's the matter, Princess, are you afraid I'm going to leap out at you?"

Kitty whirled to look at the full-length mirror, which did not show her reflection, but someone quite different. This girl was taller than Kitty, but how tall was difficult to say, because she leaned against whatever was on the other side of the glass. Her rich auburn hair reached beyond her shoulders and was parted on one side of her head, and her white bangs swept across her forehead. She was pretty, not in the classic sense, perhaps, yet undoubtedly so, with elegantly arched eyebrows, high cheekbones, and flawless ivory skin. Her eyes were forest green and somehow managed to appear feline, but their appeal was diminished by the constant sardonic expression within them.

"Hello, Anna," Kitty breathed.

A corner of Anna's mouth tugged up into a small, sly smile that Kitty was beginning to consider her trademark. "Guess you don't think you're tripping out anymore."

Kitty felt the heat rush to her cheeks at Anna's comment. When she had first discovered Anna on the day she and her parents arrived at the house, she had been examining her new room and had stumbled upon Anna's mirror when she had opened the closet door. When Kitty had spotted the reflection of a teenage girl dressed in goth style, she had been convinced there was lead paint on the walls and she was suffering from hallucinations. But when she had shown her parents the mirror to test their reactions, neither of them had seen anything unusual. Kitty speculated that only she could see Anna.

"So, did you have a nice day at school?" Anna inquired, raising an eyebrow, still wearing her odd smile. She pulled out a cigarette and a lighter, from where Kitty did not know, because she wore a short, tight, black leather skirt, and a lacey translucent dark purple shirt. A tight, black bustier and purple and black-striped leggings worn underneath the other articles of clothing showed off her lean but muscled form.

"I don't like it," Kitty admitted. She hadn't told her parents of her complaints because she didn't want to seem like a pathetic loser, but starting as a freshman in high school in a new town was difficult. Kitty had hung out with her group of friends in Illinois for so long that she had forgotten how to make new friends, but now she had no other choice. Socially, she had yet to make any progress.

"Aw, don't be like that," Anna admonished, her vulpine smile replaced by a far-off look in her eyes. "There's going to be so much fun stuff for you to do. Clubs, musicals, drinking behind the bleachers during football games . . . " She trailed off dreamily, and Kitty wondered if perhaps she was reminiscing about her own high school years.

"Did you do those types of things?" Kitty ventured, wondering about the goth girl's life, and if she had ever lived to begin with.

"Sweetheart, it's not me we're concerned about." The dangerous smirk returned to Anna's lips, and she took a long drag on her cigarette. "It's you." Anna exhaled the smoke directly into Kitty's face, causing her to cough as the acrid fumes burned in her lungs.

Regardless of what Anna or her parents said, Kitty couldn't bring herself to make any new friends. Kitty wasn't comfortable with such an extension of her vulnerability, and she would rather be alone than be rejected. She didn't want to deal with that kind of hurt.

Still, being alone at school was no great shakes, either. Watching other people with their friends reminded Kitty of how alone she really was. It wouldn't have been so bad if she had a sibling to share the experience with, but as an only child, Kitty didn't have anyone to talk to about her troubles beyond Anna.

There were times Kitty desperately wanted friendship. In her gym class, there was a group of three girls she noticed several times. They were always talking and giggling, and Kitty envied them for being such great friends, so comfortable and happy with one another. Two other gym classes besides Kitty's used the gym at the same time, so on Fridays, the gym teachers split the classes into groups to work out at different exercise stations, or students could risk public humiliation by dancing to hokey music in the middle of the gym. This arrangement was referred to as "Fun Friday." Kitty had failed to see how it was fun until she had observed the three girls dancing to the dorky disco music selected by the gym teachers, laughing at themselves all the while. It was then Kitty felt an ache to be a part of that, laughing without a care in the world.

Instead of eating in the cafeteria, Kitty studied in the library. She was just finishing a 'tell me about yourself' essay for her English teacher when she heard someone at the computer terminal beside her groan in exasperation. She turned sideways to tell the person to quiet down, but was startled to recognize one of the girls she had seen in her gym class.

"Sorry," the girl said, an apologetic look in her dark eyes. "This lab report is driving me insane. I'll try to be quiet from now on."

"Mr. McCoy's lab report?" Kitty questioned.

"Yeah," the girl nodded, tucking a strand of her sleek, black hair behind her ear. Then she frowned at Kitty. "Wait, you're in my class aren't you?"

"Yep." Kitty glanced briefly at the screen. "The laboratory analysis questions are supposed to come after the conclusion."

The girl smiled, and corrected her paper. "Thanks."

Kitty nodded, smiling back. "Anytime. Is there something else you were having trouble with?"

"Yes," the girl admitted. "I can't get the extended label on my Y-axis. The smaller labels are fine, but . . ."

Kitty had always loved computers and was quite accomplished in their use. "Click on the formatting pallet. There should a label for the Y-axis there. "

The girl complied. "Oh, great! Thanks a lot-" she faltered.

"Katherine. Katherine Pryde," Kitty quickly supplied.

The girl beamed, her teeth gleaming white. "Thank you, Katherine Pryde. I'm Danielle Moonstar, but you can call me Dani. I'm just trying to get my report finished before class."

"I can help you," Kitty offered.

"That would be awesome," Dani replied, genuine gratefulness in her voice. "I would've have done it last night, but I tripped at soccer practice -" she pointed to a purplish-blue bruise on a dark arm, "- and then, afterward, I didn't feel like doing anything."

Kitty grimaced. "Looks painful. Do you play for the school team?"

The girl nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah. With our team this year, we can make it to the championships."

"Cool." Kitty resumed her focus on the computer screen. "Okay, your demonstrative table needs to be aligned to the left –highlight it and click up there- and the cells should be merged . . ."

Gradually, the two girls honed Dani's lab report till it met all rubric requirements and mirrored the example that had been provided by the teacher.

"Katherine, you're a life saver," Dani declared, when the arduous task was finally over. "I don't know what I would've done without you."

"It's no trouble," Kitty replied, smiling at the other girl's melodrama. "Computers have always been a hobby of mine."

The bell rang, and the two girls rose, signing off their computers, and collecting their books.

"Sit with me today during bio?" Dani invited, holding the door for Kitty at the staircase."

"Sure," Kitty couldn't help but grin at Dani. The circumstances had finally changed, and she was making a friend. She felt positively giddy with happiness.

In biology, the class was working through several of lab experiments and working on a series of chemistry worksheets to go along with it. Kitty now sat side by side with Dani at a lab table, finishing a procedure while Dani drew Bohr models, labeling neutrons, protons, and electrons.

Kitty was testing the pH of laundry detergent when she glimpsed Dani erasing a portion of writing.

"Need help?" She asked casually.

"Yeah," Dani sighed in frustration. "I don't get it. I know the number of electrons and atoms are equal to the atomic number, but how do you know the number of neutrons?"

Kitty surveyed Dani's paper. "Like this." She pointed to an aluminum atom. "The number of protons and neutrons equal the relative atomic mass, so if you subtract the number of protons from the relative mass-"

"You get the number of neutrons!" Dani began scribbling on her paper. "Thanks, Katherine!"

"Call me Kitty." She felt slightly embarrassed at the juvenile nickname, but she ignored it.

Dani grinned. "Hey, Kit Kat!

Kitty rolled her eyes playfully, but she grinned. Now that she had someone to talk to, bio class passed in a blur, and soon Kitty was waving goodbye to Dani as she walked down the opposite hall to history class. Once there, Kitty couldn't concentrate on her teacher droning on about the economy of the Old South; instead she was up above them all, floating on a cloud. It felt like an eternity before the shrill ringing of the bell announced her last class of the day, breaking her daze.

Gym class.

Nervousness started an odd, fluttery feeling in her stomach as Kitty proceeded to the girls' locker room. She didn't know why she felt this way, but did her best to be calm as she changed into her gym uniform, exited the locker room, and walked to the gym. She could see Dani talking to her two giggling friends. Dani spotted her and waved, causing the other two girls to glance over at her in surprise. Kitty strode over to them.

"Hey Kitty!" Dani greeted before turning to her friends. "Girls, this is Kitty Pryde, technological genius. Kitty, this is Rahne Sinclair, and Jubila -"

"It's Jubilee," interrupted the Asian-American girl immediately. "Always Jubilee."

Dani rolled her eyes playfully. "She prefers her nickname."

"Kitty?" questioned the redheaded girl.

"It's short for Katherine," Kitty replied, not letting the smile drop from her face.

"This coming from a girl named after the weather, Rahne?" Jubilee jabbed jocularly. She smiled amiably at Kitty. "Us girls with nicknames got to stick together, right?"

Rahne held up her hands defensively. "Okay, okay. I didn't mean anything by it, I just was curious. And geez, Jubilation, way to get worked up over nothing."

Dani smiled indulgently at Jubilee and Rahne, who began squabbling good-naturedly. "Ah, kids. They're so cute at this age, aren't they?" An expression crossed her face as if something had just occurred to her. "Hey, my sister has to pick up some props for the school musical at the mall tomorrow. Rahne, Jubilee, and I are going along to shop. Want to come?"

"You should," Jubilee added. "We need someone else to help with Rahne."

"I have no patience for shopping," admitted Rahne. "So if you came, I'd have someone to talk to while these two," she waved a hand at Jubilee and Dani, "rearrange the store in a chaotic fashion frenzy."

Kitty had been smiling so much today that her cheeks were beginning to ache. "Sounds fun. I'll talk to the 'rents, okay?"

The gym teacher calling for the students to line up drowned out the replies of the three girls. They dispersed and stood in their assigned place in the rows organized by alphabetical order so the teacher could take attendance.

"If you want to participate in Fun Friday, find a group and get to a fitness station. Dancing is available in the center of the gym for those who would prefer such. "

Students surged around Kitty, quick to find their friends and organize themselves into groups. Kitty could see that Rahne, Jubilee, and Dani had gathered in the center of the gym, and were talking, waiting for the dorky music to start playing. When it did, they danced goofily, not sparing a thought to anything other than having fun.

Dani caught sight of Kitty, and once again, waved her over.

An invitation to dance. An invitation to join a group and have fun. Dani was allowing Kitty, a stranger, to laugh with her friends. Dani was offering Kitty a chance to be a part of their group, a chance to be friends with all three of them.

Kitty wasted no time in joining them, and had the most fun since her family had moved to Westchester.

After exchanging goodbyes with her newfound friends when gym was over, Kitty boarded the bus, once again in a happy daze. The giddiness had returned, and she was so high up on cloud nine that she nearly missed getting off at her bus stop. As Kitty closed the gate behind her and strolled up the laid-brick walkway, she was bursting to share her happiness with someone. Anna, of course, had been willing to listen to her for the past two weeks, and there was no reason she wouldn't now. Kitty relocked the door and hustled up the staircase, eager to share her good news.

"Anna!" Kitty called, tossing her backpack on her bed. This was irrational of her, she knew; Anna was unable to hear anything unless the closet door was ajar. Kitty grabbed the door and flung it open. "You'll never guess what happened, I-" she broke off abruptly and stared.

Kitty looked in the mirror and only saw her own reflection. There was no tough goth girl with a vulpine smile, only a bright, brown-eyed girl who obviously enjoyed dressing in pastel colors.

"Anna!" Kitty shouted at her reflection.

No goth girl appeared.

"Anna," Kitty whispered.

Her reflection didn't change.

Kitty closed the closet door and leaned against it. Moving to her desk, she slipped a compact mirror from her purse, opening and silently contemplated her reflection.

It occurred to Kitty, in the back of her mind, that while the humidity had dissipated, the heat remained, and she would need to water her roses.

Closing the compact mirror, she tossed it back into her purse and walked out of her room. When Kitty got outside, she filled a watering can at the spigot, same as always. But when she began watering the roses, she noticed something.

One of the roses had detached itself from the tangle and had climbed farther up on the brick wall, above all of the others. Only a single rose, but it was strong despite being alone, and was the highest of them all.

Kitty heard the sound of the automatic garage door sliding up, and realized that one of her parents must have arrived home early. Kitty finished her watering, already planning what to say in order to wrangle permission to hang out with her new friends.

So, any thoughts? Concrit is always appreciated.