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FIC: Left of Center (PG-13) 1/1

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  • Catlin O'Connor
    Title: Left of Center Author: Catlin O Connor Email: catlinoconnor@yahoo.com Website: http://www.mutualadmiration.net, http://issuegirls.mutualadmiration.net
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2002
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      Title: Left of Center
      Author: Catlin O'Connor
      Email: catlinoconnor@...
      Website: http://www.mutualadmiration.net,
      Disclaimer: The X-Men belong to Marvel and Fox.
      Summary: "He bought her a music box."
      Rating: PG-13
      Archive: All those with automatic archival rights;
      anyone else, please ask first.
      Feedback: Is greatly appreciated
      Author's Notes: A Challenge in a Can fic
      (http://www.dymphna.net/challenge), written listening
      to You Get Me by Michelle Branch. My words were:
      Kitty Pryde. Content. Nail polish.
      I've never written from Kitty's POV before, so it was
      a definite change, and one I hope I did reasonably
      well :)
      Thanks to: Karen, Caroline, Helena and Heather for

      He bought her a music box.

      It's short and dark and glossy -- he says it reminded
      him of her hair in the sunlight when he first saw it,
      and she wonders if that's why he decided to buy it,
      but can never quite muster up the courage to ask --
      the wood is too inexpensive for her to know it by
      sight or feel, and the grain is rough against her
      fingertips and embeds splinters beneath the skin when
      she tries, and that makes her curse and vow to put it
      in some dark corner of her closet and forget all about
      it, and yet...

      She always ends up with it on her bedside table,
      gleaming like some dark sin -- chocolate or leather or
      the mud-facials Jubilee is always trying to persuade
      her to try; something wicked or luxuriant, something
      tempting that certainly shouldn't be in such close
      proximity to her at night -- and whispering to her to
      touch it, to open it, to simply *indulge* in the sheer
      delight of it.

      Her hand hovers over it every evening before she moves
      to switch off the light and the tip of her nail
      brushes over the lid for a moment, sending vibrations,
      silky and pleasant, down her fingers to her palms.
      Then she presses her hands together and closes her
      eyes; she's imagining his hands on her body, his lips
      soothing the abrasions his gift has left on her skin.
      She falls asleep thinking about his touch, cool and
      lovely, and the music box, gleaming with heat and
      desire. The two entwine together in her mind until
      her dreams are filled with images of making love in
      the chill of the Arctic, thrusting and plunging and
      rolling into fire and sweat and overwhelming passion.

      She wakes up after those dreams with her palms and her
      belly and her thighs moist with sweat and something
      more. She wants something more, and on those days
      it's easy to forget that she isn't beautiful or sexy
      or intriguing, it's easy to forget that she's not the
      sort of woman to inspire men to heights of
      overwhelming ardour or to be overwhelming, period.

      Her reminder comes in the form of Jean and Ororo and
      Rogue, the truly lovely, the *everything*, and she
      glances into the mirror after brushing her teeth,
      knowing that she won't see what they're seeing, she
      won't see beauty; instead her reflection gazes back at
      her with tired brown eyes, with acceptance, of all
      that she isn't, and all that she'll never be.

      Still, she sits on her bed in the warmth of the
      afternoon sun, placing her gift just out of the sun's
      reach, and it catches a stray shaft of light and
      glistens to her like a promise, a fantasy, a decadent
      dream. She smiles and shakes her head at her fanciful
      thoughts and gently leans the lid against the wall as
      the music begins to play.

      And she doesn't recognize the tune, but it's slow and
      sweet and something she can hum along to as she paints
      her toenails Princess Pink and reads the next chapter
      of her molecular biology textbook. She's a few
      chapters ahead of the class, but it can't hurt to be
      prepared and besides, knowledge is the one thing she
      has, intelligence is her defining characteristic.

      Who would she be if she wasn't the Brain? Who would
      need her then, who would want her? The knock on the
      door is an only too-welcome interruption of her
      thoughts, and when his baritone ripples through the
      air to her, she flushes and quickly sets the
      nailpolish down on her bedside table, too excited at
      the thought of his presence in her room, with *her*,
      to remember to place the wand back in the bottle and
      screw it shut.

      "Hey," he greets, calmly, surveying her form
      half-reclining on the bed, toes spread apart by cotton
      balls and carefully lifted away from the bedspread.
      He asks, with that endearing quirk of his lips, "You

      She can feel her cheeks heating and closes the
      textbook, then motions him forward with a flip of her
      hand that, naturally, slaps into the table with an
      embarrassing knock of knuckles and scrape of skin
      before her hand phases through the wood, too late.
      She hears the sound of a slick roll and a thump and
      realizes, too late, what it is that created that
      precise orchestra of noise.

      She doesn't want to look, doesn't want to see what her
      carelessness has cost her, yet finds she's unable to
      cast her eyes in any other direction.

      The music box twinkles on, lovely as ever, and she
      discovers that the nailpolish bottle has spilled a
      drop of color onto the table, but the horror, the true
      destruction, is that the wand has brushed the side of
      the box with a line of pink. It's faint, barely a
      smudge, but she can see it, and she'll forever know
      that she could have prevented it if she'd only, only


      She closes the nailpolish bottle, then, not wanting to
      see it again, drops it into the wastebasket beside her
      bed. She vows to remove the color from her toes, but
      she doesn't know how to fix the box. She doesn't know
      how to undo what she's done.

      "I'm such a klutz," she says miserably, and thinks
      that this is a fitting ending to her not-even-begun
      relationship with Bobby; her clumsiness destroying her
      one true thing of beauty. Typical. She manages to
      ruin everything of worth that she has ever had, why
      does she keep expecting that to change?

      "Kit," he sits down on the bed and places his hand on
      hers, and she's ashamed that while she should be
      castigating herself, instead she's remembering her
      dreams of flames and lust and wanting.

      He reaches over and closes the lid of the music box,
      picks it up, rests it between them. "It hasn't been
      sanded down," he says, running his forefinger over the
      top and wincing at the rough texture. "I should have
      done it before I gave it to you, but... I was too
      eager, I guess. Thank God I have an excuse to do it

      "I'm sorry." She whispers it and knows that the words
      are inadequate even as she's speaking them, but she
      doesn't know what else to say, she doesn't know how to
      make it right again.

      "For what?" He asks, sounding surprised. She keeps
      her gaze locked onto the pink smear on the dark wood
      and tries to ignore the faint dread swirling around
      her breastbone. "For this?" he taps the nailpolish
      mark and lifts his hands to her face, forces her to
      look at him. "Kit, I know I haven't exactly been Mr.
      Clarity, but you know why I gave you the music box,

      "It- it was a gesture of friendship," she says, though
      she's always hoped it was more than that, because it's
      always meant more than that to her.

      He shakes his head and says, "You're smarter than
      that. It's not just friendship, not just me telling a
      girl that I like her, that I want to be with her. I
      have... well, I have feelings for you, Kitty. God,
      how could I not? You're so... you're so special; you
      just pour your warmth, your light, into the world
      Even this, this nailpolish mark, it's proof of how
      unique you are, how everything you do improves the
      quality of your surroundings, makes life remarkable.

      He leans forward and kisses her, a soft brush of lips,
      smooth and cool against her own, and she knows she's
      going to cry soon, because his words are so lovely, so
      perfect, and the very thought that he might like her
      even half as much as she likes him fills her with
      something she doesn't recognize at first, because she
      hasn't felt it very often.

      Contentment. Not a feeling she has when she's alone,
      but a feeling he evokes in her, along with the fire
      and the emotion she's now willing to admit to herself
      is love; it's as though he fills her empty spaces with
      himself and joins the pieces of the jigsaw that have
      never quite fitted together.

      She smiles, because she might not be beautiful or sexy
      or intriguing, but Bobby cares about her, he wants her
      as she is. And for the first time, she thinks that
      perhaps simply being Kitty Pryde is enough.


      Longinus: "The hills will be scarred forever."
      Diana: "Monuments to victory. You will be remembered as a peacemaker, as the man who brought civility to the barbarian hoardes."
      Longinus: "Or the man who lit the fuse that destroyed the world."
      Diana: "Oh, such drama. Are you sure you're not Greek?"
      -- ROAR

      ~Mutual Admiration~ http://www.mutualadmiration.net

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