With a sigh, Lance entered one of his favorite old haunts. It had been about five and a half years since he had left Bayville, and he didn't realize how much he had missed it until he came back. This was his first stop, the diner a couple blocks down from the Brotherhood house, to get his morning cup of coffee and prepare himself for whoever might greet or object to his sudden return. He ordered a simple cup of coffee, threw in a little cream to cool it, and found a secluded booth by the window. For a while he just sipped his coffee and watched people stroll by the window. It was calming, allowing his fears of the welcome awaiting him that may or may not be warm slip out of his mind.
The calm didn't last as long as he'd like, though. He almost spit coffee onto the window as he caught sight of her. She looked almost exactly as he'd remembered her, but there were little things that were different. Her hair wasn't up in her trademark ponytail, but short and framing her face. Her already curvy body looked just slightly fuller, but in a maturing way that just made him follow the swing of her hips more than ever before. Then he noticed it, her hand was holding on to another. A little boy, with shaggy brown hair, blue eyes, and a big grin swung his arm happily next to her.
"No," Lance whispered to himself, "it couldn't be." But his thoughts about the boy and his relations were interrupted when Kitty swiftly turned into the diner. He grasped for a newspaper he saw sitting idly on the table next to his and ripped it open, unsure if he wanted to hide or just give himself a distraction. He peered over the top to watch her squat down to the boy's level.
"Pick us out a good table while Mommy get's some coffee, okay?" He watched as the boy nodded and sprinted towards the booth in front of his. With wide-eyes he watched the boy settle into the booth, picking up the crayons on the table and doodling furiously on the paper tablecloth. He then turned his attention to Kitty who was chatting up the woman at the counter as she fixed her coffee. Lance's head felt like it might explode from all the thoughts that fought to swim to the surface.
"She's a mom? Is he mine? She still comes to our place?" The thoughts spun, coming just as quickly as they left to allow room for another. She turned and he quickly pulled the paper up and tried to focus on an article in the middle of the page, but he seemed to be able to only focus on the lump in his throat and all of his muscles tensing as he sat, waiting. He wasn't sure what he was waiting for. Should he try to leave and hope she didn't notice? Should he try to stay put until she left? Should he go and greet her politely and then leave?
"Lance?" Apparently he wasn't going to be able to choose his own option as her voice cut through his thoughts.
"Lance," She said more impatiently as he slowly lowered his paper and met her eyes. They were soft and curious, but he could also see a wall she was quickly putting up, probably thinking same old Lance.
"Oh, Kitty," Lance responded. He felt like kicking himself under the table at his lame attempt to sound casual. Kitty gestured to the empty side of the booth across from him. Without a word he nodded and she slid onto the vinyl seat cupping her hands around her coffee as if she needed to warm them, but Lance knew it was her way to keep them busy. Lance turned his attention to folding the newspaper slowly and carefully, but he could feel Kitty's stare. He tried not to think much of it; she was probably in shock that he was here, and maybe even looking him over to see how he'd changed or hadn't since she last saw him. Finally, he looked up and let his eyes rest behind her to the boy now staring at him from the next booth. He smiled kindly to the grinning kid before turning his attention back to Kitty. She was still obviously in shock, her eyes moving over Lance, then to her coffee, then back to Lance. He caught her gaze long enough to motion to the boy behind her. She blushed, caught red-handed.
"Al, come sit with Mommy," she said softly turning to look at her son. Lance tried to hold a smile, but his face seemed to keep falling into a frown as he noticed more and more similarities between the boy and himself. He tried to shake it off as Kitty turned back to Lance.
"Al, this is an old friend of Mommy's," she paused, noticeably nervous, "Lance, this is… my son."
"Nice to meet you, Al," Lance quickly responded, holding out his hand. He didn't believe in talking down to kids, and apparently neither did Kitty who seemed happily surprised with Lance's gesture. The boy stuck his hand out without fear and tried to hold a grip on the larger hand in front of him. Lance found himself laughing. He certainly was like his mother, not a shy bone in his body. Before Lance could figure out what to do next, a tall, tan, muscular, blonde man walked up to their booth.
"Sorry I'm late, babe," he said as he bent down to ruffle the boy's hair. Kitty looked up at the man, her smile tight as if forced.
"I mean, Kit," he corrected himself. Lance felt a smirk tug at his face as he remembered how Kitty had once told him she hated impersonal pet names like babe or honey. So he called her his pretty kitty and she would purr in response. Shaking the memories from his thoughts, Lance looked up to the new arrival, who looked back and forth from Kitty to Lance.
"It's fine, Alex," Kitty practically whispered. Lance wasn't sure if she was referring to Alex's lateness or her sitting with Lance. Alex didn't hesitate to clear things up.
"Alex Summers," he said, holding out his hand for Lance's to shake. Lance's jaw dropped as he looked up at Alex. He did look awfully familiar.
"Lance," Kitty said a bit impatiently, shaking him from his thoughts. Lance took the offered hand and looked back at Alex. Now he was the one with shock written all over his face.
"You… this is… Lance?" he looked back and forth from Kitty to Lance, as if trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together. Kitty nodded solemnly and then gestured to Alex with her eyes.
"Uh… Al, why don't we… let's… how about ice cream for breakfast?" Alex finally finished giving Kitty a sympathetic look as he took the boy's hand.
"Ice cream?!" Al said excitedly. Alex nodded as the boy slipped out of the booth and began to jump up and down.
"It was… nice to meet you," Alex said quickly before waving to Kitty and rushing Al out of the diner.
"Summers?" Lance questioned immediately. Kitty, for once, seemed to be quiet and shy.
"Scott's younger brother," Kitty affirmed as she waved to a waitress for more coffee.
"Huh…" was all Lance could manage to grunt. He had so many questions, so many accusations really. He couldn't figure out where to start or if he should. They sat quietly, Kitty staring down at her hands and Lance staring at her as the waitress refilled both of their coffee cups. While Kitty fiddled with sugar packets, Lance took a large gulp to calm his nerves.
"So… Al… he's…" Lance began, thinking polite conversation was the best way to go.
"Yours," Kitty finished quickly before sipping at her coffee. Lance's jaw dropped yet again. He had thought there was a fair chance, guessing by the likely age and the boy's appearance, but it didn't make it any easier to hear. He kept his eyes focused on the dark, swirling liquid in his cup as he couldn't bring himself to look at her.
"I found out after you left," Kitty explained. "I went to the Brotherhood to see if they could help me track you down, but…"
"I didn't tell them," Lance answered as he finally looked up at her. Her eyes were glistening with tears.
"Yea," she said quietly, "and at the time, they were angry…" Lance nodded. No need to finish that sentence. He knew they would be angry, and in typical brotherhood fashion, that meant they weren't going to care.
"I even told Pietro… explained why I needed… I begged," Kitty swallowed loudly, holding back the emotions that were pouring back in. Kitty reached her hand towards Lance, but he couldn't seem to push his towards her.
"I don't blame you… for me not knowing," Lance comforted, his fingertips grazing hers.
"I named him Alven," Kitty whispered. Lance felt his own eyes tear up at the obvious reference to his last name. He smiled at her sweetly. She always had been considerate of him, if only he could have been considerate of her as well. They sat, hands touching, eyes locked, for several silent minutes.
"So… Alex seems… nice," he managed to choke out.
"He joined us just before Al was born," Kitty explained. "I'd tell him about what happened, and he was the only one who didn't… judge. Not like the others. He didn't know you and he didn't know the brotherhood. We became best friends."
"I'm glad you had someone to talk to," Lance offered, trying to control all the emotions he felt and be strong and supportive.
"He… well, Alex and I… our friendship…" Kitty tried to put it into words, but she couldn't seem to get the right combination.
"It's more than that now," Lance said knowingly. He recognized the look in Alex's face when he saw her. It was the same look he imagined that he had worn back when things with Kitty were good.
"We're getting married," Kitty answered as her grip around Lance's hand tightened. He felt like he should pull back, but he couldn't help himself.
"Congrats," Lance mumbled. He couldn't exactly be mad at her for moving on her with life, but he couldn't find it in him to be happy for her either.
"He wants to adopt Alven to be his own…" Kitty began, but Lance couldn't hold back any longer.
"So you want me to give up my rights to a child I never knew about in the first place?! Damn it, Kitty! I don't blame you for me not knowing, because I left and you hadn't a clue where to find me, but you really expect that you can introduce me to my child and just take him away from me all in the same day?!" Lance fumed as the ground began to shake. Kitty grabbed both of his hands in hers and looked him in the eyes until the quakes stopped.
"I told him no," Kitty answered. "I told him that I could never take away your child from you, whether you knew about him or not. I told him that if you ever came back that I would tell you about Al and you would want to be a part of his life. I told him that you would never consent, so neither would I." Lance clung to her hands as he began to relax a little.
"You never lost faith in me," Lance meant it as more of a question, but it came out like a statement.
"No, I never did," Kitty shook her head. They sat quietly, hands clinging, thoughts racing. Lance finally broke the silence.
"What now?" he asked. He had never felt so lost. He thought the most lost he would ever feel was when he had ended things with Kitty about five and a half years ago and left Bayville so she could move on with her life. He had realized after years of moving and searching that Bayville would always be home, and he couldn't ignore it anymore. But coming back, it hadn't given him the answers he thought it would. He had only hoped that somehow things would work out with Kitty, but he never allowed himself to believe it could really happen. Now they shared a child. It changed everything.
"You came back," Kitty finally responded.
"Yea," Lance said as he looked deep into her blue eyes, the blue eyes their child shared, "I came home."
Author's Note: I know Kitty talks like a valley girl in the show, but I figure as she grows up she grows out of it. Plus, it's just really annoying. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the name "Alven", but I liked the idea of the significance. I'll mostly refer to him as "Al" from now on.