"So, um, Lance? Are we like ever going to go out on an actual date?" Kitty looked up at him tentatively and he couldn't help but smile. They were lounging outside within the Institute grounds. She had brought a blanket out and they settled on a spot under a big oak tree. He had his back leaned up against the trunk and she was sitting between his legs, resting against his chest. While she traced random figures on his jeans with her fingers, he cradled her with his hips and stroked her hair lazily. "I mean we are back together, right?"

"Of course, Kit," he crossed his arms over her, pressing her into him. "In Mexico, after I saw you lying there, I knew I had to be with you no matter what. You never have to question that again."

"I remember waking up to find you right next to me. It was the greatest feeling," she sighed, resting her hands over his.

"It's crazy, isn't it? Just weeks ago you were here hating me and I was over at the Brotherhood house pining for you, and now, after the end of the world…" Lance trailed off.

"You're here with me," she smiled up at him. Lance still couldn't believe it sometimes. After Apocalypse, Xavier had welcomed the Brotherhood into the mansion, and he had accepted without hesitation. The other members hadn't been interested, except for Tabby. So they went back to the halfway house and he had moved out and into the Institute. The biggest surprise of all was that he had been paired up to share a room with Scott, and somehow, they got along really well. Part of it was probably that they both had a lot of the same habits. They were both slightly messy, they both stayed up late and got up early, and they both worked themselves hard, especially in training sessions. Oddly enough, they worked well together on the team, too. They started to share leadership responsibilities, and as strange as it was, they almost always agreed on the way things should be done. Lance knew a lot of the reason for getting along with Scott was that he had changed. Kitty had made him want to be better, and so now he got along better with all of the X-men, fitting in with their goody-goody ways. He stayed busier now that he lived with the X-men, spending the bulk of his time in training or working to gain the public's favor for all mutants. What little time he had left was used to focus on doing school work, he was now under Dr. McCoy's tutelage to help him secure his GED, or to be with Kitty. Since she was busy, too, also doing training, going to Bayville High still, and spreading goodwill in the community, they mostly stole little moments here and there to sneak away to some private little area within the mansion where they could just sit and be together.

"So, what do you want to do for our first official back together date?" he pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"Well, there's this dance at school coming up," she paused and bit her lip. "I thought it might be kind of fitting seeing as that was our first date…"

"The Sadie Hawkins dance," he smiled, remembering how it had been the first time they had truly spent a good time together. Well, up until those demon monsters from that demon world Kurt teleported through broke up the party.

"What do you think?" she twisted to face him.

"I would love to, Kitten," his smile faltered. "But I'm not sure I can go back to Bayville High."

"Too many memories," she frowned, but nodded.

"No, I mean. I'm not sure I'm allowed back," he looked away, ashamed of his behavior. He had caused them to break up by listening to Principal Kelly and stirring up trouble, which was his specialty. Granted, Kelly had moved on, attempting to run for Senator but losing and moving far away from Bayville and the mutants, but he wasn't sure the ban on him had been lifted.

"I bet Xavier could help us out. If he convinced our new principal to let you come, would you?" she cupped his jaw and made him look at her. Lance could tell she was nervous and he wanted nothing more than to please her.

"If the new principal is okay with me being there, nothing else could stop me," he grinned, his smile growing even wider as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

"You clean up nice," Lance turned to find Kitty coming down the stairs. Xavier had been able to convince the new principal, without using his telepathy, to allow Lance back onto the school grounds for the dance. If he behaved himself, the ban would be permanently lifted. Lance promised to be perfect, realizing that if he was allowed back on the school grounds that he could spend more time with Kitty. It was now the night of the dance and he had waited impatiently by the bottom of the stairs for Kitty to be ready. Lance reminded himself to breathe as she stopped in front of him. He looked her up and down appreciatively. She was wearing a strapless cocktail dress, the blue matching the color of her eyes. The top part looked like intricate origami work, stopping at a band that rested just below her breasts. The dress then flowed straight down, showing of her small hips and ending mid-thigh. She had paired it with a pair of open-toed chrome stilettos, which made him admire not only how she could still move so gracefully, but how toned her legs were. She kept her makeup simple, her skin looking dewy and fresh, her lips a natural pink and glossy color. Her hair was wound up in an elegant up do, small tendrils escaping and flowing down her neck and cheek, showing off the only jewelry she wore, simple, silver, teardrop earrings.

"You look gorgeous," he leaned in and brushed a kiss on her cheek, breathing in the soft scent of flowers, the perfume he had given her back when they were first dating. "And you smell incredible."

"Thanks," she giggled, sending him into a trance. "Like, ready to go?"

"Oh, yeah," he snapped out of it and took her by the hand. They walked down to the car and he helped her in to her side before climbing in and driving them to the school. It didn't take them long to get there, and they chatted the whole time, mostly reminiscing about the last and only dance they had gone to. Once there, they continued to compare the two evenings while sipping on punch and relaxing at a table. After a while, they started to mingle with other students, discussing everything from idle gossip to recent political activity involving mutants. The DJ had finally set up by the time conversation was dwindling, so Kitty dragged Lance onto the dance floor. He wasn't a huge fan of the fast dances, like most guys, he just shuffled his feet and tried to follow the girl's lead, but anytime there was a slow song he pulled Kitty into his arms with a content sigh. It was one such song when they were holding each other, her head resting on his chest, that he found himself blurting out something he had been thinking since the last dance they went to.

"I love you, Kitty," he murmured against the top of her head.

"Wait, what?" she pulled back a little so she could look at him.

"Uh," Lance was startled himself. He had thought it so many times he hadn't realized he had said it out loud until she had.

"What did you just say?" she asked gently, her eyes glistening with tears.

"I… I'm in love," he stuttered over the words. "I'm so in love with you, Kitten."

"I love you, too," a tear escaped and he gently wiped it away with his thumb before kissing her. The kiss was gentle at first, sweet and loving. Slowly, they relaxed against each other and she parted her mouth, allowing his tongue entrance and deepening the kiss. They finally parted after kissing through a couple of songs, their breathing difficult. A fast song started to play, but they held each other, still swaying ever so slowly.

"I'm going to fix my makeup," she kissed him on the cheek and he released her. He couldn't believe how lucky he was to be in love with such a smart, beautiful, and kind girl as Kitty and to have her love him back. He watched her disappear into the girls' bathroom and then he turned in the other direction, towards the guys' bathroom. He walked in and admired the lipstick stains and the swollen lips he saw reflected in the mirror. He was just about to wash up when in walked Pietro.

"Surprise, surprise. Look who it is. The bad ass turned X-geek," Pietro snickered.

"You're just jealous cause you're stuck with Wanda trying to blow your head off, Mystique throwing you around, and Toad's stench," he countered. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm here with a few dates," Pietro smirked. "What can I say? The girls love me."

"Speaking of dates, I've got my own to get back to," Lance started to shove past Pietro, but the other boy was too fast.

"Not so fast, Lance. How about a little… prank… for old times sake," Pietro's vicious grin reminded Lance of the smile Magneto would wear when he had a scheme in the works.

"Not happening," Lance made to move again, but once again, Pietro blocked his way.

"Aw, little Lancey doesn't want to get in trouble with his little Kitty Cat," Pietro teased.

"Screw off," Lance growled.

"Do the prank with us, or Blob will make you a Kitty pancake," Pietro threatened.

"If any of you even try to hurt her, the ground will swallow you all up," Lance spat back.

"Yeah, good luck catching me," Pietro rolled his eyes. "You might be able to overpower Fred or Todd, but Wanda and I got you beat."

"Why is this so important to you?" Lance sighed, feeling himself start to give in, if only to keep them from hurting Kitty.

"You left us for them," Pietro hissed. "You do this, and you prove that you're not a clone of Summers."

"I can't. I've got be on my best behavior," Lance ran a hand through his hair, debating his options.

"We're not going to get caught," Pietro laughed.

"What's the plan?" Lance frowned, promising himself that he would do everything he could to keep things under control and find a way to make the whole thing up to Kitty.

"You've got one phone call," Lance looked up to find an officer opening the cell and ushering him out. Lance had been to the police station enough that he didn't have to think about it anymore. He felt numb, following the uniformed man towards a desk. He was told to sit, dial one number, and make it quick. Lance dialed the number quickly, holding his breath as he heard it ring.

"Hello?" a kind older man answered.

"Professor Xavier? It's Lance," he sighed, trying to figure out what to say next.

"Lance? Aren't you at the dance with Kitty?" the calm British voice cause an ache in Lance's gut.

"Kitty," he thought sadly. She was probably still at the school, wondering where he was.

"Professor, I'm in jail. I need someone to come bail me out, please," he tried to steady his voice, pushing away the picture of Kitty slumped over a table, crying because she thought Lance had ditched her.

"I see. I will be there shortly and you will tell me everything that happened," the professor's voice was tight and Lance knew he was not giving him a choice.

"Thank you. And Professor?" Lance's voice cracked.

"Yes?" Xavier's voice sounded impatient and disappointed.

"Kitty…" his voice trailed off and he wasn't sure exactly what to say. Should he ask the professor to bring her? To apologize for him? To just have someone pick her up?

"Of course," Xavier said curtly before hanging up. Lance hung his head as he was sent back to the cell. He waited, passing the time by thinking out as many different scenarios he could of how this could have happened, of what would happen next until he felt himself going crazy. Then, he tried to focus on something happy, and his mind fell on earlier tonight, when he held Kitty close to his heart.

"I'm so in love with you, Kitten."

"I love you, too."

The words slowly tortured Lance as he sat in the cell, doing his best to avoid the other criminals, until finally, an officer escorted him out. He met up with Xavier at the front doors to the police station, and the two were silent as they made their way to the car. Lance wasn't surprised to find that Kitty wasn't there, nor when he saw Storm was driving, and not even when Xavier requested that Lance tell him what had happened. Lance tried his best to explain, making sure to mention the threats against Kitty and how he had tried his best to keep everything under control. Xavier continued to be silent, obviously mulling over what to do next. They arrived at the Institute and Xavier asked Lance to come with him to his office.

"I must tell you Lance, that the story of your arrest was not kept a secret. Your teammates do not trust you right now, and that is dangerous for all of you," Xavier spoke calmly and evenly.

"I understand," Lance nodded. He thought it would be too presumptuous for him to say much else but to agree with whatever Xavier said. He had, after all, gotten in to trouble when Xavier had put his own reputation on the line for him. It didn't matter why he did it or how hard he had tried to keep things from getting out of hand, he should have found a better way. Lance had resorted to his old ways, and now none of the X-men, even Xavier himself, could trust Lance's judgment.

"You are, of course, welcome to stay and try to work things out, but I warn you that it will be difficult and that you must follow any instructions you are given to the letter," Xavier's stern gaze bore into Lance.

"I understand," Lance nodded some more.

"So, do you wish to stay?" Xavier's face made it clear that he was concerned, but Lance couldn't tell whether he was worried that Lance would stay or that he wouldn't.

"I… I…" Lance couldn't figure out what to do. He wanted to stay, so much it hurt. Mostly because of Kitty, but also because he felt like he had made a family here, a life here. He was becoming the man he had always wanted to be and never thought he could. He knew without the X-men, he would be Lance the thug, the jerk, the hood. At the same time, he wondered if it was in the best interest of everyone else for him to leave. As Xavier had said, he was putting them in danger by losing their trust, and he might not ever be able to earn it back.

"Perhaps you should think it over," Xavier gestured that he should leave the room and then turned away. Lance got up and immediately went looking for Kitty. He tried her room first, but he only found Rogue who called him a few choice French words that Remy had taught her. He looked in the kitchen, next, but Kurt was there, immediately porting out at the sight of Lance. He tried the living room, but only found several glares from the new recruits. He had looked in every room in the mansion until all that was left was the danger room. He made his way in, careful dodging any weaponry that quickly aimed his way, but Wolverine was the only one inside, obviously venting some pent up rage at the high-tech training room. Lance quickly snuck back out, feeling extremely lucky that Logan hadn't noticed him, or at least hadn't ripped him to shreds. Then suddenly, he just knew where she was. He raced outside, the dark making it hard for him to see much of anything, so he had to move through the ground by instinct. He reached the tree, the one he and Kitty had been curled up under just days ago, and that's where he found her. She was still in her dress, her heels tossed aside and her hair was loose around her face. Lance carefully approached her, making sure to keep distance between them until she gave him a sign to come to her.

"Hi," he choked out the words, his mouth suddenly dry as nervousness crept into his throat.

"Why?" she sobbed. She was curled up on the ground, her legs tucked under her, her face buried in her hands. He knelt down until he was sitting on the ground, close enough that if he reached out he could touch her, but he didn't.

"They said they would hurt you if I didn't. I thought I could minimize the damage and keep you safe," he whispered. "Xavier gave me a choice to stay or go."

"What did you decide?" she asked, finally looking up at him.

"I haven't yet," he answered honestly. The pain radiating from her face was killing Lance, he felt like his heart was breaking for her. "What do you think I should do?"

"I think you should go," she said it easily like she was saying they should get a cup of coffee or eat waffles for breakfast.

"You want me to go," he repeated, not quite shocked, but still hurt.

"Why would you stay?" she wiped tears from her eyes.

"If you wanted me to," he slouched, feeling more defeated than ever.

"I don't," she looked him straight in the eyes, her blue irises piercing him.

"You don't love me anymore," he meant to ask it, but it came out as a statement.

"I'm not sure I ever did," and with that, she got up, taking her shoes in one hand, and walked away. He watched her until he couldn't see her anymore, not from the dark, but from the tears streaming down his face. Feeling numb, he picked himself up and headed towards the gates, not bothering to go inside and say any goodbyes or pack any belongings. He walked to the Brotherhood house, went straight in and up the stairs to the room he had used to live in, ignoring Pietro, Todd, Wanda, and Fred who had followed him, hounding with questions. He collapsed on the bed and fell asleep immediately.

Kitty had sat just inside the door, watching him from the window as he left. After she was sure he was gone, she went back outside to the oak tree, curling up against the trunk like she had rested against him that day. She pretended it was him, wrapping her arms around herself like he had and trying to block out the words she heard repeating in her head.

"You don't love me anymore."

"I'm not sure I ever did."

"How can you love a person that doesn't exist?" she asked. She wasn't sure who she was asking. Maybe herself, maybe him, though he wasn't here, maybe the air around her. She only knew that she was truly, deeply, and irreversibly in love, and that her heart would never be the same again. The world had almost ended weeks ago, and they had stopped it. Together. Now, Kitty realized, she wished it had.