Two hours into the ride I was beginning to suspect that Kitty Pryde was a mutant.

There was no way that a normal person could talk that long about things that were so inconsequential without pausing for breath. I felt like I was drowning in words …

"And of course Peter totally overreacted and did a real number on Pete …"

"Peter and Pete?"

"Yes. One was my old boyfriend. The other was my current boyfriend. Of course now it's the other way around …"

"So, you have a thing for dating guys named Peter? Is that some kind of fetish of yours?"

"No, no. It was just a coincidence. Besides, Peter is really named Piotr. Piotr Rasputin. He's Russian."

"With a name like Piotr Rasputin I wasn't expecting him to be Irish."

"Are you making fun of my boyfriend? I'll have you know he's very tall and strong." She winked at me. "He's got steel hard abs…"

"Yay for him. I'm sure there's an exercise endorsement in his future." I sighed and glanced out the window. This was already a long trip, and it wasn't nearly over yet.

"So, do you have a girlfriend?" She paused. "Or a boyfriend. Not that I'd judge either way…"

"No. No I don't. Not for a long time." I sighed. Rogue had never been mine—she would never be mine. I couldn't picture her with anyone else other than Remy—and try as I might, I couldn't see myself being anything else other than a third wheel in their lives. No, it was best I had left— it was better that way.

And I had a promise to the Lady to keep …

"I sense a story."

"You do?"

"Sure do. I have a sixth sense about these sorts of things. Don't make me tell you about my first Christmas I spent alone."

"I thought you were Jewish."

"Oh I am. But … it's a long story involving teenage angst, breaking and entering, and a jet engine being used as a blowtorch."

"That sounds much more interesting than my love life. Or yours, for that matter. Why didn't you bring that up instead of rattling on about Pete and Repeat?"

"That's Pete and Piotr. And you're trying to change the subject. That doesn't work on me. Once I grab onto something, I hang on like an … an attack kitten!"

"An attack kitten?"

"I'm running out of metaphors here. Don't judge me."

"Oh I'm not exactly the sort of guy who can judge others—at least not with a straight face."

"So you'll talk?"

"I'm talking now."

"Don't be such a smart mouth. I meant tell me about your love life."

I laughed. "You really are an attack kitten."

"Yes. Yes I am." She smacked my arm. "Now spill. After all, if you can't spill your guts to a total stranger who can you spill your guts to?"

"A priest?"

"You're Catholic?"

"I didn't say that. I was just giving an example of a total stranger I could spill my guts to. You know. If I were that type. Which I'm not."

"So you're the strong silent type?"

"Well, I don't have abs of steel …"

"And I don't think I'd find your picture in a dictionary as a definition for 'silent.' You say a lot. You just don't reveal anything."

"So the mouthy, mysterious type? Yeah. I guess I can see that."

"Okay. We've established that you're the mouthy, mysterious type. Why don't we try to remove a bit of the mystery if not the verbosity?"

"Verbosity? Is that a word?"

"If it's not, it should be."

"You're a pushy attack kitten."

"And you're still trying to dodge the question." She laid a hand on my arm. "Why do you keep so much of yourself hidden, Kyle?"

"No one cares. No one asks." Of course Rogue had cared …

"Oh, man. Now you're starting to remind me of a short Canadian I know …"

"Oh, really?" I looked at her again. There was something familiar about her … I was positive we had never met, but …

"And here you go changing the subject again …"

"Yes. I know. I do that. It's all part of my clever plan."

"Well, my clever plan is to keep hounding you until you actually tell me something real and true about yourself."

"Why?"

"Because you need to."

"What?"

"If you didn't want to talk to someone, you would just stop talking to me. You need this, Kyle. You need to talk to someone. Why not me? I said I won't judge."

I sighed. "She was very pretty. And she wasn't mine. And there's no way that she'll ever be mine. So I left. And then it happened again."

"I'm sorry."

"So am I." I looked out the window again. "But it won't stop me."

"It won't stop you from what?"

"It won't stop me from doing what I'm going to do. I made a promise. The kind of promise you can't break. Even if it's not what you want anymore."

"There's always a choice, Kyle."

"No. No there's not. Sometimes we make a choice that can't be unmade." I sighed. "Sometimes we damn ourselves when all we want to do is make sure we never hurt again."

"You really believe that?"

"You don't?"

"I've seen terrible things, Kyle. I've even done a few myself. I've seen people change. I've seen people be redeemed—even people no one could imagine ever finding their way back from a very dark path. I don't think you believe it yourself, but you're a good man, Kyle."

"What makes you say that?"

"Regret. No one who's capable of that is beyond redemption."

I thought of the box of Uru in my pocket. I thought of what I was going to do with it—what the Lady was going to do with it. "That's a nice thought, Kitty, and I'd like to believe it, but here in this place called 'the real world' things don't really seem to work that way…"