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20 August 2006 @ 03:59 am
You've Got To Go There To Come Back - Chapter 15  
And, after a very weak attempt at a oneshot Kyro fic with Admit It we return to our regularly scheduled full-length fic.

Title: You've Got To Go There To Come Back
Author: sleepall_day
Rating: PG-13.
Timeline: Directly after Alcatraz events of X3.
Summary: After the fight at Alcatraz, Pyro is found and brought back to Xavier's mansion. For his criminal actions he has been given house arrest at Xavier's School and he must learn to adjust.
Author's Note: This is my all-time first fic, and lovethiscity was only recently created purely to post it. As I'm a new writer, I'd appreciate any comments, feedback, suggestions, or Aaron Stanfords that you would care to throw at me.

Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men or any Marvel characters. This is just for fun. Any resemblances you find to actual people, living or dead, shows that you have strange friends.


Chapter 15: “What I mean is – it’s just one of those inevitable things.”

I tried to shift away from the cheesy moment by loudly playing with my lighter, but it wasn’t as heavy as my Zippo.

“How about giving me back my other lighter?” I asked Kitty, who was still leaning over the balcony.

“When we get back,” she said. I guess she was still afraid I’d run.

“All right,” I said understandingly. She looked so peaceful, looking out over the still-busy city, that I felt bad pulling her away from it.

I gently shook her arm and said, “Want to head back now?” Kitty turned to at me, and the two of us gave the city below one last look before we wordlessly headed back to the elevator.

We did say we were going to head back, but it was agreed silently that we would wander the streets a little longer. The city was beginning to empty, and the two of us did some late-night sight-seeing. I think I even put my arm around her a couple of times, like when we passed through the edge of Central Park. Even more surprising was that she didn’t stop me.

When Kitty started to yawn, we headed back to her car. I was opening the passenger door as I said, “I can drive back part of the way, Kitty. You look so dead.”

“I can do it,” she said, yawning again. That’s when I walked around the front of the car, grabbed her by the shoulders, and walked her over to the passenger side.

“Kitty, come on,” I said when she protested. “Get some rest, okay?”

“All right,” she grumbled. “But I’m not falling asleep.”

She didn’t have to tell me why. I don’t care what she said earlier tonight in her room; she didn’t trust me to not make a run for it. But as I started up her car and started the drive back, I had no doubts. I mean, did I want to leave the school and my being imprisoned behind? Of course I did. And of course I was thinking about it. Who wouldn’t be? But what was I going to do? Run off somewhere, only to have to beg for a job so I wouldn’t starve? Sure, at least until someone recognized me and I was caught again, this time in for a ferociously worse punishment. Or until Magneto found me again and killed me for betraying him. Yeah.

I confirmed some directions with Kitty and drove back to the mansion.

I laughed to myself as I drove, thinking, besides – leave? There would be no kitchen practically going up in smoke and flames every time someone pissed me off, no Shirtless Wonder, no girls snickering about the fact that he was called the Shirtless Wonder, no Cyclops destroying inanimate objects in a rage, no Bobby Drake to annoy. There would be no Kitty trying to make me somewhat more sociable, and even I had to admit that it was working. Here I was, driving her home from a night out, and no matter how much I wanted to make my own rules, I was doing what she wanted me to do. I wasn’t sure if I quite wanted to put my finger on why yet, even if I knew already.

I glanced over at Kitty, who looked back at me. She rolled down a window and looked so cute leaning back. Her eyelids were drooping, and by the time we had reached the more country-like roads of Westchester – I could smell the trees from the open window – she was asleep. I reached over and patted the top of her head, saying to myself, “I knew you couldn’t stay awake.”

When we were about ten minutes out from the mansion, I pulled over to the side of the road and shook Kitty awake. “Hey, Kitty-cat. Get up. Get up.”

“Hmm?” Kitty said sleepily, rubbing her eyes. Then she sat up with a startled jump, and sharply breathed in. “Where…”

“Hey, it’s okay. We’re not far from the school. Look,” I said. I wasn’t mad at her for thinking I’d driven in completely the opposite direction, or something. Hell, I expected her to think so. “Just waking you up so you can drive the rest of the way.”

Kitty was awake now, and she did take a look around. She relaxed, gave me a funny look, and slowly said, “Thanks, John. All right.”

Kitty took the wheel, and I returned to the bottom of the backseat. Kitty pulled into the dimly lit garage, and said, “Wait here for a sec,” before phasing through pretty much everything – the car, another car, and whatever was in front of the garage walls.

She returned a minute later, whispering, “No one’s around. Come on.”

Kitty took my hand, which she’d never done before, and when I stared at her, she said, “The garage door squeaks,” by way of explanation.

Okay, when I said that it felt kind of nice and tingly when Kitty phased the anklet through my foot – definitely because it was small. Kitty phased us both through the wall and it felt like I’d just plunged into an ice-cold pool. It didn’t feel cold, but it was the same kind of sudden shock. “Good God!” I said. “Feels like there’s a million little crawly things all over me.”

Kitty grinned and said, “You get used to it after while. It starts feeling less weird.”

We stood there in the hallway for a second, and then she dropped my hand awkwardly. She followed me to my room, where I dug under the mattress for the anklet. I didn’t really know what to say, so I just said “Here,” and sort of shoved it at her.

Kitty took it gingerly, and then carefully put it back onto my foot. Then the two of us sighed and just leaned back on the bed. “Whew. We made it,” Kitty breathed.

“I think so,” I said. “Could be that someone noticed I was missing though, and we’ll both get in trouble in the morning…”

“Augh, just don’t say that,” she said, clutching her face. “We’ll be fine, I think… I hope.”

Exhausted, I patted her on the back as a goodbye, and said, yawning, “Goodnight, Kitty. Thanks so much for tonight.”

“It was fun,” she said.

“Maybe we’ll do it again sometime.”

Kitty laughed and said, “If we survive in the morning.”

She ruffled my already-messy hair, and then with a quick “Goodnight,” she left.

As soon as she’d gone through the wall, I collapsed on the bed and heaved a long sigh. It’d been weeks since I’d stepped anywhere away from the mansion. The last things I remember thinking before I fell asleep were that there had been no sleep that night – the sky was tinged with purple, already starting to look less dark – and that I could hardly believe that the girl I once thought was one of the most straight-laced kids at Xavier’s School, someone I used to tease, had broken me out.

I was so busy trying to act like I didn’t care about her, that I didn’t care about the things she was showing me, that I didn’t get to really look at her tonight. It all happened so fast. I remembered the blurs that the cars had become once Kitty and I were high up on the hotel balcony and felt like the entire night had been like that. We’d been out the whole night and it still felt too short. I needed to do this again. It’s like I closed my eyes for a second and it was over.

We did, in fact, survive the next morning. For some reason I was up early even though I hadn’t slept much. Guess I was just anxious to see if anyone had noticed we were gone. I woke up, and found that I was clutching my lighter – no, wait. It wasn’t the plastic one I’d used to make the fireworks last night. It was the shark Zippo. Now when had that happened?

As soon as I changed, I tucked the lighter into my pocket and went outside for a walk. I reached the private cemetery that was on the very edge of the area I was allowed to be on, and noticed there was one other person out there. It was Cyclops.

I imagined he must be looking at Dr. Grey’s tombstone, but he was looking at his own, which was right next to hers. I approached him as quietly as I could.

“Kind of like finding your name on a bunch of boxes in the basement, isn’t it?” I spoke up.

Cyclops jumped at my first words, and then turned around, with a weird look. “What?”

“Never mind,” I said with a grin. I was smiling more at my own memories than the look on his face though.

I noticed he was trying to discreetly wipe away some tears. “It’s just… not right that this should be here,” he said, indicating his tombstone. “Not while Jean’s is here, and she’s really gone.”

I just kept quiet, until Cyclops continued, “It’s just not right, is it?”

Sensitive topic or not, I said, “What are you asking me for?”

I guess I’d lost my touch, because instead of being offended, Cyclops just laid a hand on my shoulder and started just rambling at me.

“You’re right. It’s just… I’ve invested so much into this place. And she was such a huge part of it. It’s like everything I worked for was destroyed when she came back – she was there but so gone at the same time. I just got so sick of caring. Right before I fell unconscious under the water, I felt the Professor trying to help me, and yes, he did save me, but he couldn’t do anything to save Jean. That’s why I didn’t come back right away. Just wasn’t ready to start caring again. And… you’re still young, John. You know… she… we were going to get married. So I guess that’s not really something you’d be much for talking to about, huh?”

Good God, to hell with that man. I’d never forgive him for making me feel sorry for him. Ugh. Didn’t he have someone else to have pity parties with?

“I couldn’t tell you what that feels like, Mr. Summers,” I said, since that’s what I used to call him in class. “Life and death – they’re married to each other, they say. It just happens that way.”

He gave me another funny look, but I must’ve struck a nerve because a single tear was falling from behind his sunglasses.

I shook my head at myself. What I’d just said had been a line from the poem I wrote years ago, the one that won an award. I really don’t know what was going on with me, why I couldn’t just say something stupid or sarcastic and walk off. And I don’t even know why I was thinking about poetry so early in the morning. Oh well. I guess I just couldn’t be mad at him when he was like this.

I cleared my throat and said, “What I mean is – it’s just one of those inevitable things.”

I stepped back so I could leave, but he stopped me by saying, “I know what you meant, John.” Then he unexpectedly lifted his sunglasses, pointing his red optic beam straight at his own tombstone. It exploded immediately, leaving a smoky pile of rubble, and I jumped back as some of the tiny pieces came raining down.

The remains of the stone pieces were still crumbling onto the ground, and I said dryly once the noise settled, “I can just see the headline now: One-Eyed Vandal Strikes Again, Inanimate Object Death Toll Rises to Two.”

“I feel better,” Cyclops said simply. Then he added, “I hardly think an entire room counts as an inanimate object, though.”

I just shrugged.

“By the way. Jason Payton’s finally talked,” Cyclops said.

“Are you serious?” I gaped.

“Yeah. Gave us a date – three days from now.”

I said hesitantly, “Do you believe him?” because I sure didn’t.

“Not particularly,” Cyclops said casually. “But it’s all we’ve got so far.”

“Can I try talking to him?” I suggested.

Cyclops scoffed, “Uh, no. Storm would have a fit.”

“I thought you were head teacher below the Professor.”

“Yeah, no, not since I died, remember?” Cyclops said in the most sarcastic tone he could manage, pointing at the crumbly pieces of tombstone on the ground. “And if you want to know the truth, it was probably decided a long time before that happened that I wasn’t going to be the head anymore.”

I ignored the last comment and crossed my arms, looking at the mess on the ground again. “You’re cleaning that up, you know.”

“Since when did you care?” Cyclops asked, but his tone was friendly.

“Since Storm’s been sticking me on clean up duty every chance she gets. She thinks it builds character. Me, I think she brought me here in the first place as an extra pair of hands.”

Cyclops chuckled at that and said, “Well, don’t be so hard on yourself. I always thought you were a good kid to have around. Misguided, maybe. Do you remember what I said to you when you first came here, John?”

“Uh… not to call the Professor ‘Wheels’?”

Cyclops slapped his forehead and said, “That was a lost cause once Wolverine got here. No, that’s not what I meant.”

I furrowed my eyebrows in thought, and offered, “Oh, that calling you ‘One-Eye’ isn’t that funny. Which it kind of is, by the way.”

He sighed loudly and said, “No, not that either, and it isn’t! I was actually talking about when we had that chat about your power.”

“Oh… that.”

“Yes, that – and I hoped that you would remember it, John,” he chided.

“You told me that I was a destructive individual that needed a good sense of discipline,” I reminded him.

Cyclops cocked his head at that, and said, “Huh. Good memory. Well, yes, I guess I did say that. But I remember that I told you that I liked your power – the ability to control fire, wow. I mean, it’s so destructive, in some ways it could be even more destructive than my own power, but you can do so much more. I just saw this spark in you, John. I always do when I find a student that I think has so much for potential for helping people.”

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, not wanting another lecture.

“What I said was, you’re already good at setting the fires. Now we’re here to help you learn to put out the fires, and figure out when to start them and when to stop them.”

I nodded at him, looking at the ground. “I remember that. But did you mean that literally or figuratively?”

He laughed, and said, “Both.”

“I’m a more literal kind of guy, Cyclops.”

“Tell that to Peter,” he replied. “Poor Peter’s new nickname is spreading like… well, like something you set on fire, John. At least he seems to like it.”

“Oh, come on,” I said, rolling my eyes. “How come every time you hear motivational slogans like, ‘It only takes one person to make a difference,’ or whatever, it’s never about something dumb like what I did?”

Cyclops just laughed at me, and shook his head. “It wasn't dumb. You just don’t know what you’re capable of doing. You are a fire starter, and I see good things coming from you.”

Okay. It was starting to get way too corny for me. Time to put a stop to it. This was exactly the reason why the two of us never could have conversations that were too lengthy. “Are we forgetting who actually went off and joined Magneto?” I reminded him calmly. “Because, there are plenty of people around who remember, and they can always give you a refresher.”

Then all Cyclops did was give me a nod, and said, “You’ll see.”

I left before we could get into any more conversation, and ran back to my room. The thing that had stuck to my mind the most about what Cyclops and I talked about was the random piece of poetry I’d thrown out there. I don’t think I really realized how much I missed writing until just now. I dug through my drawers until I found an old notebook I used to keep little ideas in, and started writing about my stay at the mansion and anything else I could come up with.

Since I hadn’t gotten much sleep, I took a nap after writing several pages in the journal. I was awakened by a frantic pounding on my door.

Nobody really came by my room except for Kitty. In fact, it's pretty clear to most of the mansion's residents that I hate visitors, so it was probably her. I sleepily rolled over and called out, “Just come in.”

“I can’t. It’s locked.”

That made me sit up in my bed. What the hell! That was Bobby’s voice. “Read the sign, dumbass,” I told him.

“Come on, Pyromaniac, just open up the damn door,” he said, sounding a little less annoyed than I imagined he would be.

“Go. Away. Bobby,” I said, holding up a piece of paper I didn’t need and setting it on fire. I shoved the paper until the door.

Jo-ohn! Damn it!” he shouted, and then I could hear a thumping outside my door. I’m sure he could’ve just used his powers to put it out, but I must’ve made him mad enough to resort to stamping on it. Bobby keeps his head level about so many big things like split-second battle decisions that he can’t keep his temper about the little things. It’s funny.

He then sent an icy breeze underneath the doorframe, which made me stop laughing. I growled loudly, and then threw myself at the door, shouting at it, “What? What is so important?!”

I could hear that Bobby was standing directly on the other side. “There might be an attack on the school, and you need to be kept safe along with everybody else, you maniac!”

“Oh, come on, calm the hell down,” I snapped. “Like that guy could possibly be telling the truth.”

“Do you want us to take any chances?!” he snapped back.

“We’ll be fine,” I said nonchalantly.

Bobby scoffed loudly, and then said, “Well, if you think you know any better, then why don’t you find out where the terrorists are attacking? Because that’s what they are, you know. They actually do mean business despite what you might think!”

“Bobby, honestly, do you even care what happens to me?” I said. My voice was getting calmer as his was getting more frantic.

Bobby ignored my last statement and just whined, “Just come out, okay? Come on, man. They want to talk to us about new emergency protocols and safety procedures, okay?”

I decided not to dignify him with any more answers.

Bobby was silent for a minute, but I could tell he hadn’t left yet. I let him wait. He finally gave in and said, “Aw, come on, you maniac. Come on.” It was probably the closest he’d ever get to answering my question.

I’m pretty sure it was mostly out of concern for my own safety, but I quietly got up and unlocked the door. “Yes?” I said.

Bobby gave a really quick grin in the corner of his mouth, and then got rid of it right away. “Most of the older students are meeting with staff later. All this info’s going to be given to everyone, though.”

“Yeah, so what’s going on?”

“Like I said, there might be an attack on the school. Payton finally leaked the info that it’s going to be in three days and gave some pretty heavy hints that it’s going to be the school,” Bobby said.

“Well, yeah, but I thought that they weren’t believing him.”

Bobby goggled at me. “You knew about it?”

I raised my eyebrows. “Cyclops told me this morning. So what? Nothing’s changed has it? Why would he be talking now?”

Bobby just shrugged, and looked around. “Well, that’s all I know.”

I narrowed my eyes. “It’s got to be a decoy.”

“Heh. You’re not alone. Don’t worry, the staff’s agreeing with you right now, but they’re just not taking any chances with everyone’s safety. Someone’s still trying to find out the real location.”

By then we were in the common room waiting for some other people to show up. I started pacing. Something had to add up. There had to be a way to figure out what was going on.

Bobby, who had been sitting in one of the armchairs, stood up all of a sudden and said, “Where is everyone?”

Neither of us knew, so we both headed off towards the headmaster’s office. As we were approaching we could hear a lot of arguing in there.

The door was ajar, so Bobby just stepped in. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Things have changed,” Storm said curtly. She was surrounded by Wolverine, Cyclops, Kitty, Peter, and Warren.

Bobby tried talking to Storm to figure out what was happening, and I just stood next to the doorway, trying to look inconspicuous.

Then, Hank McCoy walked in, dressed in a suit as usual. “Oh, there you are,” Storm said in a relieved tone. “Do you have the recording?” she asked, getting straight to the point.

“What recording?” I asked.

Storm looked at me like I shouldn’t be there, but answered. “We’ve been trying to get word from the terrorists that Payton works with, the Friends of Humanity. But they contacted us first.”

Hank was looking even more stoic than usual, and pretty tight-lipped. “The government department I work closely with was contacted this morning. The Department of Mutant Affairs informed me immediately and I’m allowing a sharing of this information with the staff.” He turned on an audio recording of a telephone call from that morning.

It was a slightly distorted male voice. “Listen carefully. We are committed to passing the Mutant Registration Act into law. If you continue to work against it or get in our way, we will be forced to take further action. We are in possession of the New Legacy Virus. It will be unleashed into the general population if you do not step down from this fight. You will also receive further instructions for the release of Jason Payton.”

I don’t know if it was the distortion of the voice, but it really creeped me out. “Great,” I mumbled. I started to do what I usually do when I get a little nervous. Play with my lighter and try to look casual.

“The President has already been informed,” Hank said simply.

“And?” Wolverine growled.

“He wishes to uphold the United States policy of non-negotiation with terrorists,” Hank replied.

“That means more work for us,” Wolverine said resignedly, leaning back.

“New Legacy – what does that mean?” Bobby asked. “I thought the Legacy Virus was contained.”

“We thought so too,” said Hank, referring to the lethal virus that wiped out a good chunk of the mutant population a few years back. “It only goes to show that nothing is for certain in this world.”

“How do we even know this is for real?” scoffed Bobby. “Can’t they be bluffing? I mean, they haven’t even done anything to show that they have such a virus. They haven’t even told us what it does. It’s got to be different somehow – otherwise they wouldn’t call it new.”

“Don’t you think we know that?” Wolverine said sarcastically.

That phone call really must’ve been the only information they had, because nobody gave any real answers. Most of the kids just murmured in agreement with Bobby, that it must have been a bluff. I started twirling a band of fire around my fingers.

“You guys really think they’d go through all this trouble only to have us call their bluff?” I said, hoping I looked nonchalant playing with my fire. I racked my brain. “There’s gotta be a reason for what they’re doing. For one thing, why do they want us to release Payton later?”

Wolverine actually shrugged. He normally hated admitting he didn’t know the answer to something, so I was surprised. But he said rather characteristically, “Beats me, but I don’t care. These jerks need to pay. We’ll use him to find the rest of his jerks and teach them a thing or two.”

Avalanche. The thought suddenly hit me. This current situation was starting to feel really familiar to me. Very briefly I got to know this guy who called himself Avalanche when I worked with Magneto. He was a pretty big guy, and could create huge waves of vibration with just his hands. I guess he didn’t always get along too well with people, but he was always nice to me. There was one occasion where Magneto had sent the two of us into a government compound because he wanted something destroyed. Guess he was too occupied with something to do it himself. Either that, or he was too important.

At any rate, we got caught by some guards, which wouldn’t have been a big deal for a couple of mutants like us, but we had to keep quiet, so we let ourselves get caught. Then when it came down to the big rescue Magneto demanded that I was returned. Just me. He wanted Avalanche to stay behind and finish the job, while the guards who had caught us thought Magneto was just cutting a deal. I did feel kind of special after Magneto said he only wanted me back, but, I guess we can forget about that now.

The point of the story is, Avalanche was able to stay and destroy the place. The Friends of Humanity were letting us keep Payton for a reason. Now we just had to figure out what that was. I was trying to block out the chattering from everyone else as I thought, and then suddenly couldn’t really do it anymore. It was just too distracting.

“Did he have anything else on him?” Storm was asking Cyclops.

“No, just that Glock…” Cyclops replied, sounding a little distracted.

“I saw that thing. That was no Glock,” Wolverine answered. Then he added derisively, “Boy Scout.”

“Sure looked like it to me,” Cyclops glared.

“Was it even a gun?” Wolverine retorted.

“Of course it was! What else could it be?” Cyclops was shouting, and then I had to interrupt.

“Maybe you guys should check that thing out, then,” I interjected. “Could be a clue.”

Wolverine and Cyclops both glared at me, and then without another word rushed off to find the safe that Payton’s things were being held in.

“That’s probably it,” Bobby said softly, staring off into the direction they’d run off in.

“Whatever, dumbass,” I grumbled, sinking into a nearby chair.

Bobby looked at me reproachfully, maybe even a little bit hurt, and said, “I thought you were the one who said we had to be civil, Pyromaniac.”

***
Thanks for reading - any feedback is useful feedback! Thanks.

Chapters: 1 and 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13, 14
 
 
 
Iris: pyro - my favorite small iconsleepall_day on September 1st, 2006 09:31 am (UTC)
Heh, thanks! You know, I'm not sure if I intended for that to be the end result, but I guess that's what he's turning out to be.
just_a_duck on September 4th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
Your Pyro seems to have a natural gift for strategy. Not as much as Cyclops of course, but he's pretty good.