Title: Portraits in a Gallery: Who Are You
Back in Westchester, Scott and Kitty were having a talk of their own. They'd only been dating a few weeks, but Kitty had had a crush on Scott ever since her early teens. When she approached Scott in the aftermath of his break up with Jean, reminding him that she was now twenty-one and fully date-able then offering a shoulder to cry on and maybe more, he'd rebuffed her. Kitty was disappointed, to be sure, but when he explained that he just wasn't suitable company and that he might be tempted to take advantage of her when he shouldn't, her hurt had eased somewhat. She stayed close, but not too close, to him in the months that ensued, offering him friendship and no-pressure companionship when she thought he needed it. Finally, he'd asked her out, and now that they were at long last 'together,' she was usually somewhere north of cloud nine on a full-time basis. Ever since Jean's breakup with Logan yesterday, though, Kitty felt like she'd been abruptly flung back down to earth.
"I'm just saying that – that I know it hurt, and I know it takes a long time to get completely over it, especially with the special psychic bond that you and Jean shared," Something I can never give you, popped into Kitty's mind, but she thrust it aside, "but you've been really – you've been kind of caught up in her breakup with Logan. It's all you've talked about today, and I – I just think that it's not – not good, you know?" She'd tried yesterday, several times, to have a talk with Scott about this – each time he got bent out of shape like she'd never seen and either got snippy with her and clammed up or began putting her, Kitty, down.
"It's not all I've talked about," Scott countered, not hiding his irritation and not looking up from the paper.
"OK. But you've talked about it a lot. I just think – "
"Don't worry about it, Kit," he pronounced, flipping to a new page. "Weren't you headed out shopping with Jubes today?"
Kitty didn't answer; she just took a deep breath to steady herself. His tone had been so dismissive just then and his complete refusal to talk about this with her was very troubling. Did he want to go back to Jean? Why was he pushing her away so hard? Why was he refusing to even look at his feelings about all this?
"I'd rather stay here with you. Even if you don't want to talk about it, I – I'd just kind of like to stick around today."
Scott did look up at her now. "What?" Her sad tone had caught a bit of his attention and now her sad expression was catching more.
"Nothing." She shuffled off toward his bathroom, shoulders slumped.
"Hey – Kit – what's wrong?" Scott put down the paper and followed her. "You can go shopping if you want. You don't have to hang out around here. I'm probably going to be working on the plane most of the afternoon anyway, and you know I don't like company then." She didn't answer and he leaned up against the doorway, then peered in more closely. She was turned away from him, with her head down. It looked like she was wiping her nose or something with a kleenex. "What?" he asked again.
"Do you want to go back to Jean?" she asked in a small voice.
"How can you even ask that?" Scott replied, angry. "You know what she did to me. Do you think I'm stupid?"
"Then why – why all this? Why are you always mad now, since the Jean thing?"
"Christ, Kitty, I'm not mad. Just because I'm not singing love songs and tiptoeing through the tulips every second doesn't mean I'm mad. I told you when we started this – I'm not a kid, Katherine. If we're going to be together, I can't have you pitching a crying fit every five minutes or needing constant reassurance that I don't want Jean anymore. If I wanted her, I'd be dating her. I'm dating you. Can't you get that?"
She sniffled, but didn't answer in words. Scott sighed, huffed, and then went back to the desk and his paper. A few moments later, Kitty came out, red-eyed but otherwise quite composed.
"Are you going shopping, then?"
"I think I made a mistake."
"Don't worry," Scott shrugged. "Just quit getting so upset over nothing. There's no reason for it."
"I think I made a mistake in dating you." That brought Scott's head, and his irritation, back up.
"Jesus, Kit, haven't you heard a word I've said? I'm not inclined to indulge another drama queen. I've had enough of that, thank you. Don't up the ante like that just to get me to fawn over you and say I'm sorry when I haven't even done anything wrong."
"Scott," she sighed in frustration, shaking her head, "Who are you even talking to? Is it me or is it Jean?"
Scott rocked back on his heels with that. He blinked once, then twice, but didn't say anything. He seemed frozen. Kitty took in a shaky breath, then continued.
"I think I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. And maybe I am silly to think that people – people who are together talk when there's something bothering them or to think that we should be happy because of being together, not – not angry. I don't know. You're the only man I've ever – " Scott wasn't sure if she'd been about to finish that with 'dated' or 'loved' when she cut herself off. "I'm sorry," she repeated, determinedly gathering herself. "I'll go now."
She was opening the door before Scott found his voice. "Kit – Kitty – wait!" She stopped, but didn't turn around. He came up behind her and anchored his hands on her hips. "Don't go, all right?"
"You don't want to be with me, not really," she struggled out in a sad little whisper. "It's OK. I get it now. It was a mistake, and I'm sorry. I love you and I would've given you anything, but I can't – it just feels like you're using me to take out your frustrations and you won't talk to me about anything." If there was ever a time she'd wanted to just disappear, it was now, but she felt like she owed Scott something, at least this much, even if the words cost her. "I don't want to do that because I want to remember the things I loved about you, and I don't want to remember you hurting me like this. You'll always be in love with her, Scott. Your whole world revolves around her. She dictates everything you do, even now. I know you think I'm dead wrong, but – " She felt his restraining grasp turn to a full-body embrace, but she still didn't turn around. "Take care of yourself, OK?" Pushing his arms away from her body with gentle hands, she freed herself from him and headed down the hall, resolving to get back to her room before she burst into tears. Scott stood in the doorway, watching her go, suddenly wishing he had her powers and could sink right through the floor, all the way into the earth.
"No – no – let me guess. Molson's, right?" Marie and Logan were currently enjoying a pizza and wine dinner while playing a rousing game of 'Guess the Favorite.' Marie was winning – the flashes gave her an edge – but Logan had gotten favorite color (green, not hard to guess after one look at her room and her wardrobe), favorite author (Tolstoy – peeking at her bookshelf helped there), and favorite painting of hers (the one of them together, which led to a minor awkward moment, but it passed quickly). He enjoyed the challenge, and his little victories, but even more than that he enjoyed *playing* at something. He couldn't ever remember playing a game or even just feeling playful ever before. Struggling for survival didn't come with many recess breaks.
"Yeah, you got it. Saw that one, didya?"
Marie nodded, and sipped her wine. "Can I ask you something?" Her tone was still playful, and things had gone well today – his instincts had been right; she hadn't pressed him on anything, just listened to what he chose to tell her – so he gave her a nod of his own.
"Did it feel good to wreck the hotel furniture?" He laughed, and so did she. "I've never destroyed anything for stress-relieving purposes, and I'm curious."
"Yeah, it did. Jeannie made me plenty pissed and I – " Suddenly, he realized she didn't know about the latest round of demolition. She'd been talking about the first one, the one right after he met her.
"She made you mad?" Marie asked softly, but with steel in her eyes. Logan could've sworn he saw protectiveness in her expression.
"Yeah. Like I said – she said things. Don't matter much now."
Marie gave a wordless hum, then her expression turned curious. "How long were you together?"
"Seven months. I really kinda don't wanna talk about this shit, OK?" She smiled and nodded demurely but something about the way she did it made Logan add, "It's not a big deal."
Marie took that in for a moment, then swayed towards him. "The things she said, the hard things – Logan, whatever they were, I hope they didn't hurt you. I hope they didn't get stuck in your heart." He couldn't help quirking a smile at her words – what an unusual, but aptly visual, way for her to put it. Her expression was still serious, though, and she continued. "You don't deserve any more heaviness on your heart. None."
Logan was moved by her words and the fierce surety with which she'd said them. "That's real nice of you to say."
"I mean it," she replied immediately, but then seemed to catch on to the fact that they were embroiled in serious conversation yet again. This was supposed to be fun; they'd already had their quota of serious conversation for the past couple of days. "But come on, you guess next."
"Anything – you pick." Smiling to encourage him, she was relieved to see him begin to think about it, to begin to get back into the little game they'd been playing.
"Good one. What's your guess?"
"Ooooh, close, but no won-ton. Want another guess?" Logan grinned at her, thinking it over. He glanced down at her plate – one that had seen five pieces of pizza come and go, and was about to receive a sixth. "Well?" she prompted as she reached for that sixth piece.
She blushed prettily. "You could tell, huh? I'm not exactly a dainty eater, not when it comes to this."
"Nothin' wrong with a healthy appetite, darlin'," he volleyed back, unconsciously flirting a bit. "Your turn."
"Hmmmm. Do I pick the category?"
Logan concentrated, then nodded. "Got it."
"I do too. Banff – but not the town and not the touristy places in the park. Your favorites are the ones you can only reach on foot, by snowshoe, the ones only a few people are strong enough and in tune enough with the land to get to."
"No fair," he replied. "You had a little help there."
Admitting to it with an impish nod, she explained, "That's one of my favorite flashes. I painted some of the places we saw. Those will go up at the shindig tomorrow night."
"There's a shindig tomorrow night?"
Marie nodded. "Moonbeam is throwing this 'special viewing' for some of her clients. She's hoping to sell more of the paintings." Marie suddenly brightened with an idea. "Hey – maybe tomorrow, I could show you around the city. You know, since we didn't actually end up leaving the apartment today. We could go on a little tour and wind up on Granville. That way, you could either head back to your hotel or come to the viewing, whatever you'd like."
"Aw, I don't go in for those black-tie kinda things." Logan tried to stave off the unpleasant memories the idea of an event like this was stirring up. "But I'm sure it'll be real nice."
"Well, it's not black tie – believe me, I don't make enough to afford a nice dress – it's sort of business casual. I'm going to wear a black skirt and a red turtleneck-y kind of thing. You'd be fine in just about anything but jeans and flannel. But if you don't want to go, that's totally fine by me. I don't really enjoy those kind of 'smile and shake hands' kind of things either. They're pretty annoying."
Logan quirked a half-grin at her. "I think I'll head back to the hotel, but the tour sounds real nice. Let's do that."
"Good." Logan took a long pull of the wine. "Whose turn is it?"
"Yours," Marie replied decisively.
"That's an easy one." Her eyes were sparkling, playful, once again, and Logan felt himself getting a little lost in them. "No fair."
"It's fair," he teased. "I don't have any ideas." Marie rolled those glimmering eyes at that. "What?"
"Oh, sure, you don't have any ideas."
"I don't," he protested.
Marie giggled and shook her head. "OK, then, go ahead, guess."
"No, it's not pancakes," she replied with laughter in her voice. Logan was enjoying the fun of it all but he really didn't have a clue what her favorite breakfast might be.
"No, it's not waffles." She was laughing outright now. "Do you have another guess, by any chance?"
Logan mock-glared at her. "No, no I don't. I think you should just tell me since you're so sure about it."
Marie raised her eyebrow and a smirk played on her lips. "Well, OK then, since you're *totally* clueless……….." She dipped her head to one side, playing at confiding something secret. "It's cranberry magic muffins and Eastside JJ Beans coffee. Home-delivered, of course." With a wink, she sat back, letting more of her laughter bubble out. Logan laughed a little too, but he also felt a pleasant yet sobering warmth spread through him. He resigned himself to just experiencing the sensation, just enjoying it, and not analyzing it for now. Now, there was more fun to be had.
Scott sighed when he came back to his room to find the flowers he'd sent to Kitty on his own doorstep. From the looks of it, she hadn't even opened the note and ergo hadn't read him pouring his heart out and begging her forgiveness for being such a monumental asshole. He bent down to pick the roses up, and saw that she had written something on the outside of the note's still-sealed envelope. Jubes said you dropped these off outside my door. I can't accept them. I'm sorry.
Not as sorry as I am, Scott thought grimly. He shuffled into his room and deposited the flowers on his desk. He didn't blame Kitty for not accepting them – he knew a couple dozen white roses wouldn't make everything that he'd screwed up this afternoon somehow miraculously better. He'd cut her deep, and he didn't know if there was ever a way to make that better.
He'd been so reluctant to date her, but she was always around, always hanging out in the background, never demanding, just giving him company when he needed it, and space when he needed that. In the end, her open admiration of him was too alluring to resist – it soothed so many of the wounds Jean had inflicted. So, he'd asked her out and watched with a sense of deep satisfaction as she practically imploded with joy on the spot. She let him take her to bed that first night, going along with whatever he'd wanted, and she'd been nothing short of completely trusting with him the entire time. And what had he done? Let himself bask in her admiration until he needed someone to take his anger out on – and worse, he hadn't just indulged in some fit of screaming temper, oh no, he'd done it calmly, coolly, deliberately. He'd needled her where he knew her sore spots were, and manipulated her into leaving him the hell alone about things he didn't want to talk about. Talk about? Hell, he didn't even want to think about them. But now he could no longer hide from himself the fact that he needed to.
Scott flopped down on the bed. He'd try again, tomorrow, with more flowers, and with anything else he could think of. What had he given Jean to soothe her? Flowers, jewelry, sometimes candy, sometimes – no, no, he thought, bringing himself up short. That's what's gotten you in to this mess, Summers, keeping Jean in the center of your life. She's kicked you out of her life, and you should return the favor. You're dealing with Kitty now, think about what Kitty would like, what might be meaningful to her.
Scott thought on it a long while, finally resigning himself to the fact that no good ideas were forthcoming. He didn't really know Kitty well enough to know what she liked or what she didn't, or what was meaningful to her. All he knew was that she practically worshipped the ground he walked on, and he'd been a big enough bastard to stop right there. What he'd really have to do to fix it was start from square one – if she'd even speak to him anymore. Christ, Scott thought, I've really messed up here. I've got to do something about this, about my life. I can't go on feeling bitter and angry all the damn time anymore.
What, exactly, he could do to change that, though, still escaped him.
Marie lay in the dark of her apartment, watching Logan's broad chest rise and fall. He'd fallen asleep on her bed; she'd coaxed him to lie down and just spend the night here when she saw his eyes begin to blink open and closed sometime past midnight. Just a moment or two after he tugged off his boots and took her advice, he was out. Marie was fairly sure he'd heard her parting whisper – 'About the furniture, though – you claw it, you've bought it.' – judging by the smile that appeared after the words and still lingered a little on his features. Her own lips curled into a smile in the low-lit room. For a long time, she'd wondered if she'd ever get to see him like this with her own eyes, not just with her mind.
She was tempted to reach out a hand to caress his face, but she resisted, not wanting to chance anything that might wake him. He was everything she'd hoped he would be, and more - he was straightforward, kind, thoughtful, and tonight he had shown he could also be funny as hell when he wanted to. If Marie's thoughts still included ideas about a more romantic, less platonic, kind of relationship, she was happy to put them on hold for now. While it was disappointing that he'd said he didn't want them to be lovers, she knew that any progress on that front would only be forthcoming at his own pace, in his own time. That wasn't her most optimistic, blue-sky hope for them, but it was enough. After all, she'd found him, or, rather he'd found her – and that was the important thing. Never again would she ache to look upon him, to talk to him. Never again would she feel so alone.
A slow, steady snore began rumbling out of him as his sleep deepened. She looked forward to him waking up with her. Even if she was going to let him have the bed in favor of joining Binky on the couch, they'd sleep and wake under the same roof for the first time, and that was special. Before she stole off to the living room, though, she wanted to spend as much time as she could just watching him slumber. She thought it quite the beautiful sight.