Summary: A series of conversations between Kitty and John, in the bedroom. Chapter 9: It's John's turn to give bad news. Post-X3.
Disclaimer: All things recognisably X-Men aren't mine - I just like making up my own stories.
A/N: This is the last chapter! Thanks for reading, and an especial thanks to those of you who reviewed. More Kyro one-shots are coming soon, so add me to your author alert list if you want to read more of what I've written. :)
This is going to bring me clarity
This'll take the heart right out of me
~ She Is – The Fray
John figured it out five hours before they told him, and made his mind up five seconds after that. As soon as they finished talking, he turned and headed straight for Kitty's room, thankful that nobody tried to stop him. He guessed that they figured he probably couldn't do any more damage to the school, not now.
He hammered on her door and it opened immediately.
"John, what are you doing here?" she asked him in surprise as she let him in. "I thought you weren't allowed to…"
"Kitty," he cut her off, standing awkwardly in her room with his hands jammed in his pockets. "I…" He stopped and took in her appearance – shadows under her eyes, hair unkempt and messy, face looking thin and gaunt. The exhaustion from helping in the med labs, tending to Jubilee, was taking its toll on her.
John cursed at himself under his breath, angry for not being strong enough to just leave. Instead, he was going to end up hurting her more than if he'd just left without saying goodbye. She was already going through hell; he was about to add more flames.
"What is it?" she asked him, peering worriedly at his face for a sign of…something.
"I need you to get me a lighter or a box of matches, whatever. And I need…I need you to help me get out of here."
John ran his fingers through his hair and tried vainly to think of a way to spare her the truth. But nothing came to him, and he knew he needed her help. She wouldn't give it to him without a reason – a real reason. And he needed to tell her in order to bring himself some clarity and some truth to their messed-up relationship.
"I've got the Virus."
There was nothing but shocked silence.
Kitty stepped back and shook her head violently. "No. No." Her voice sounded squeaky and broken. "You – you can't. This is just some sick joke, right? Right?"
John narrowed his eyes at her. "Would I joke about something like this?" he said harshly. "I'm sick. I'm dying." I'm dying.
"No," she whispered, tears forming in her wide eyes. He can't be dying, he can't be dying, he can't…
He couldn't stand her looking at him like that – like he meant more to her than he had thought he did. Turning away, he asked, "Look, are you going to help me or not? I have to get out of here, I can't stay."
"Why not?" she asked, clenching her fists.
John turned his fiery gaze back on her. "I'm dying, Kitty!" he burst out furiously. "I'm dying, and I'm not wasting whatever's left of my life stuck here like a worthless prisoner!"
The words seemed to unfreeze her, and she flung herself at him, tiny ineffectual fists beating at his upper body.
"No, you can't leave me. You can't leave me!" she screamed at him through her sobs. He caught her wrists and she struggled against him, trying to hit him again, but he held on firmly. Finally, she gave up and collapsed against him, weeping and trembling.
"You can't leave me," she repeated over and over again, muffled against his shirt.
He let go of her wrists and held her, struggling to keep his heart from cracking and releasing all the emotion he so carefully set aside. Her reaction had given him one more reason to stay, but he knew that leaving was the only right thing he could do.
"Don't leave," Kitty whispered, staring up at him. "Don't go. Please."
"You really think I'm going to stay just to let you watch me die?" He shook his head. "I told you before that if it was my last day on earth, I'd leave. I made my mind up a long time ago."
"Things are different now, aren't they?" She was pleading now. "Please, John. I'm already losing my best friend. I can't lose you, too." She let a hand slide up to his cheek, fingers shaking. "I love you."
And there it was. The three words he'd been afraid she would say – three words that could be his undoing. She loved him, and he knew he loved her enough to want to give her everything. But he couldn't give her what she wanted, couldn't hurt her that way.
"If you loved me, you'd let me go. You'd help me leave," he said, inwardly cringing at the cheap shot, disgusted at the way he was using her. "You're going to lose me anyway."
"Then why bother telling me?" she demanded angrily, phasing out of his arms. "Why not go and hurt me just once?"
"Because I couldn't leave knowing that you'd hate my guts!" he snapped. Why did she have to make this so hard? He cupped her face and leaned down so he was looking straight into her eyes. "I couldn't leave without saying goodbye first."
Kitty lunged forward and kissed him ferociously, lips bruising and desperate.
"Don't go," she begged. "The Virus…we'd have at least a month. A whole month."
"I can't let you die alone," she whispered, beginning to cry once more. A desperate gleam came into her eyes and she clutched his upper arms with trembling fingers. "I'll come with you. I'll look after you, wherever you're going, just take me with you."
"No." He detached her hands from him and moved away from her. "You belong here, Kitty. I don't. Never did."
"You do," she protested. But he could see that she knew he was right. He had never really belonged at the school. He had never really belonged with her.
"Come on, Kitty," he said, looking and sounding pained and tired. "Just help me. Please."
It was the please that got to her. John Allerdyce had never been a beggar or a pleader – Kitty couldn't remember the last time she'd heard him say the word. And that single syllable was all it took for her to realise that he needed her to help him leave as much as she needed him to stay.
Wordlessly, she slid into her closet and emerged a minute later clutching something in her fist. She pressed it into his palm, and his fingers curled around the familiar metal of a lighter.
"Where did you get this?" John asked her, recognising it as one of his old ones. When he had been living at the mansion, he'd kept a small collection of lighters in case he misplaced his shark Zippo. He never ended up using them.
Kitty's smile was sad as she gazed at the lighter in his hand. "After you left, I…sometimes, I'd phase down into your room. I kept it before they packed up most of your stuff, just in case."
John's lips quirked into a half-smile. "Thanks." He slid the lighter into his pocket and looked back at Kitty.
A tear escaped down her cheek as she moved forward and embraced him. As he pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, he felt them both become intangible, and a few moments later they were standing on the ground level.
Kitty pulled away and took his hand, leading him through the last wall, and together they walked through the garden and out the gates.
John glanced back at the school just once.
"Look after yourself, Kitty," he said, and turned to leave.
She pulled him back and kissed him one last time, long and soft and bittersweet.
"I love you," she whispered thickly, blinking rapidly to keep from crying again.
John hesitated. "I love you too," he murmured finally.
And she stepped back and watched him disappear into the night.
Love is watching someone die
So who's gonna watch you die?
~ What Sarah Said – Death Cab for Cutie