"John" I said in greeting. It was a cold winter day, in a town near the Institute. Christmas lights lit up the small city I was in, and I walked over to this broken man I had once called my enemy. People walking on the street looked my way, but I didn't pay any attention to them.
"Kitten." He said simply, in a ragged old coat, his face looking worn and tired. He looked up from where he was sitting in the gazebo, which was surrounded by Christmas lights. It almost made me cry to see him like this. He looked so small and…alone. We had been meeting secretly ever since I had seen him, homeless on the streets one day in October. We just "clicked" as Jubilee would probably say. I brought him food, and as many clothing I could steal from Logan, Peter, or Bobby. I knew Logan noticed, but he never asked where I was bringing the shirts and pants I had stolen. I sat down next to John on the cold, hard, ground. I placed a bag in front of him.
"Food and drinks. I managed to get some leftover pizza from the fridge." I paused, looking at his shivering form. My face lit up as I remembered.
"I got you a coat! A real warm coat too." I said, and rummaged through my bag until I came up with a plastic bag. He smiled lightly.
"Kitty you didn't have to…" he said, trailing off.
"I know I didn't have to, I wanted to. Merry Christmas." I said, phasing my hand through the bag and coming up with a warm and heavy green coat. He smiled.
"Thank you" he said as he took off his torn, ragged old coat. The coat had cost $125.00, but for him and his smile, it was worth it. I had seen the coat when I was getting presents in a department store for my family and friends. I knew I had to get it for John. The sales lady smiled when I asked her if she would hold it for me, until I got enough money. If only she knew what kind of person I was spending that much money for, I thought, as I walked away from the store. The John I now knew was kind, caring, and only a bit sarcastic, but still in a nice way. I switched my focus to John's delighted face. He pulled it on, and laughed.
"This is brilliant Kitty. I'm warmer already." He said, and tears welled in my eyes. He was left homeless after Alcatrez, and even after I told him many times that he could join Xavier's again, he still refused. He said that he had done too many bad things, and he knew he would never belong there. So I let him stay homeless, reminding him every time I saw him that the Institute was still open for him. Not that I had asked anyone, but I would make it happen if he really wanted to. I knew that after I left the Institute for college, I would make John come with me. He didn't know, but I had been saving him money for college by taking a job at a café in town. I cared about him, and I didn't want to see him starve on the streets for the rest of his life. The only comforting thought I had as I slept in my warm bed was that he could control fire, and that gift wouldn't let him freeze in this cold, Upstate New York weather. I pulled a candle out of my bag and set it in the center of our large cutting board, which we called our "table." John pulled out his lighter and the flame jumped to his hand and onto the candle. We began to eat the leftover pizza.
He ate quickly, and I could tell he hadn't had anything to eat today yet.
"Best pizza I've had in a long time." He said, smiling at the taste. It was a bittersweet feeling, seeing him happy eating pizza, but then there was a sadness pulling at me, because he was homeless, hungry, and cold. The only ally he had was me. He finished his pizza, and I gave him the rest of mine.
"Are you sure?" he asked, his voice full of mixed emotions.
"Positive. I can eat at the mansion. You need it much more than me." I paused, "John, I wish you would come with me…" I said, looking him straight in his blue eyes.
"I told you Kitty, I can't." he said in a serious tone, and I sighed. He finished up my pizza and I smiled when I thought of the surprise I had brought him.
"I brought something. For us to do." I said, smiling at him. He looked back at me, confused, and I took another item out of my bag. He chuckled when he saw what it was.
"A board game? Sorry?" He said in disbelief. I nodded.
"Let's play." I said, and saw his saw his humored expression on his face, "C'mon, when's the last time you played Sorry?" I asked him in a playful voice.
"Not since my fam-" he said, but stopped.
"What?" I asked gently, hoping he would open up about his past. He sighed and began to talk.
"I used to play this with my family. Back in Australia when I was little. Before I found out about- this." He said, flicking his lighter open and the flame jumped to his hand. He closed his hand into a fist and the fire was gone. I nodded.
"My brother, we used to be friends. Then he found out…about, you know, and he suddenly he didn't like me anymore. He told my parents, and they abandoned me." He said, his voice empty. I stared at his face flickering in the candlelight.
"I'm sorry John." I whispered, and took his hand. He looked over at me, trying to be strong, maybe trying to be strong for me.
"It's the past. Can't do anything about it." He said in a low voice. He gave me a half-smile.
"So. Let's play." He said, in a mock-excitement voice. He opened the box and set it up. Then he noticed I had made my own cards.
"What?" he muttered.
"Just play." I said, taking the cards from him and placing them on the board.
"What'd you make them or something?" he asked.
"You'll see." I said simply. I took my red pieces and gave him blue ones.
"Nah, these remind me of Bobby. I think I'll take green." He said and gathered the green ones. I grinned.
"Christmas colors." I commented. He nodded. He took a card. His brow furrowed at the question.
"Did you know that scientists have not figured out why people are attracted to each other?" he muttered, reading the card.
"What kind of shit is this? What am I supposed to do?" he said, confused and amused at the same time.
"The question is on the back. That was the trivia fact." I said, hiding a smile. I knew what was on the back, but I didn't know what he would say to it. He turned it over. I saw his mixed emotions on his face form, and then he looked at me.
"Do I like you?" he whispered, almost like he couldn't believe I wrote that, "do you like me, Kitten?" he asked moving closer to me. I nodded. He looked at me for a moment, taking in everything about me, everything I had ever done for him, and everything I had ever said.
"Here's your answer." He said quietly, and then placed his lips on mine. I kissed him back, knowing this was the start of a wonderful relationship. Whatever problems we had in our way, I knew we would be able to work them out. It began to snow, and under the Christmas lights of the city gazebo, I got lost in this broken man's fiery passion.