We Make the Road by Walking
Summary: Rachel tries to get things right.
Fandom/Character: X-men, Rachel Summers/Marvel Girl
Written for: Lilith
Timeline: This takes place right after the events of Astonishing X-men 13 and 14 and refers to events of House of M.
Rachel awoke from a nightmare to find herself alone in the room she shared with Kitty. Nightmares seemed to be a constant part of all her realities. They anchored her to this one as much as Kitty did. They used to be, before M-day, a reminder of the fact that she had survived her nightmarish existence and made it out. Now they echoed her reality.
The moonlight that streamed into the room through the window was blocked partially by the sentinels standing guard outside, and not yet fully awake, she reached with her thoughts to look for Kitty and found her gone. She remembered as she woke up more fully that she had fallen asleep waiting for Kitty to return.
She hadn't realized how wrong things had become between them until she felt them click, briefly, in England. Fighting besides Kitty, alone on the astral plane, had felt right, and she had remembered that Excalibur had been the only place where she had truly belonged.
She had belonged, for a while, in the Askani clan, but she had never stopped feeling the absence of Kitty. She had died, she sometimes remembered, still hoping to find her way back.
Being with the X-men reminded her constantly of the fact that she shouldn't have been here, that she belonged elsewhere. It were the little things that made her feel unwanted: Scott's silence at Emma's statement that Rachel never should've been born or the fact that Scott had not asked her to join his team. He hadn't even asked her to come along when they had gone after the Phoenix and her mother. Now, more than ever, she was a reminder of an unwanted future for Scott. And she had tried letting go, tried to be friends with him instead of an unwanted daughter.
She had not wanted to come to the mansion again, had wanted a life away from it all, but instead, she had been drawn back in. She had seen, in one of her dream visions, a future for herself away from this, with Kitty.
But the future she remembered more clearly was the one where she had lost Kate. Or rather, Kate had let her go. It was this that had made her join the X-men again. But everyday, she found that things were turning out to be more and more like her own future. She sighed in relief at the tiniest differences between the life she remembered and the one she led and speculated endlessly on all the different paths that could lead to her future.
So, naturally, she told herself that that was why she didn't like the idea of Piotr with Kitty. Because it was another thing that brought this world closer to her own. There were differences still - the Piotr of her world had been a cynical, defeated man who constantly wished that he had made different choices in life, and Rachel knew that anyone but Kitty - Kate - would have been driven into despair by that. But Kate had found solace elsewhere, and sometimes, Rachel didn't think that either of them would've survived that world without each other. She realized also that in a better world - where Rachel would've been at the mansion with her parents, where Kitty would've been happily married, where her children would've been only slightly older than Rachel herself - it would never have happened. It was this that sometimes made her appreciated the starkness of her own world over the perfect moralities and the restrictions of others.
Kitty was always the same in every reality. She grounded Rachel, gave her faith, and kept her fighting. Rachel knew that she had fallen in love with her the second her thoughts had bonded themselves to Kate's.
But things had not been the same since she had returned. She had cried herself to sleep in Kitty's arms that first time they had met again, and she had been so like Kate in those first days, but then, she had drifted away and Rachel was still unable to grasp her.
Unable to go back to sleep, she slipped out of her bed and then out of the room. The hallways were quiet now, with everyone sleeping, and her head was empty of thoughts of others. She wondered where Kitty was and fought the urge to scan for her thought patterns around the mansion. They hadn't really talked since returning from England and Kitty had seemed even more distant lately. She had worried about this when Piotr had returned to them, as happy as she was to have him back. But she knew that wasn't why Kitty had been avoiding her. Something was bothering her, and in the old days, she would've told Rachel about it. But they hadn't really talked at all about anything. She hadn't even told Rachel how she felt about Piotr being back.
In England, though, they had talked. Being with Excalibur, in their old setting, they had fallen into familiar patterns. She had been tempted, when Pete Wisdom had asked, to stay with Excalibur. But Kitty had been eager to return to the X-men and to get away from Pete. And so they had returned.
As she walked into the foyer, she noticed that the lights in the kitchen were turned on. She walked in to find Emma sitting at the bar, drinking. Emma must have been shielding her thoughts, she realized, because she had not been able to sense her presence there. And now, she regretted having come down here. Seeing Emma at the bar, her mind instinctively looked for Scott and found him nowhere.
Noticing her presence, Emma turned around to look at her, "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
Ignoring her question, Rachel asked, "Where is Scott?"
"Contrary to the popular opinion here, I'm not his keeper," Emma replied and then smirking, added, "But Scott is not the one you're looking for, is he? I do know where Kitty is."
And she did. Emma, who had been shielding her thoughts before, let an image of Piotr with Kitty drift into Rachel's head. She pushed the image - and Emma along with it - out of her mind, "Stay out of my head, Emma."
"Gladly, darling. But you're broadcasting your thoughts at universal wavelengths."
She made a conscious decision to not get into an argument with a drunk Emma. Turning to leave, she said, "Goodnight, Emma."
She returned to her room to find Kitty there, reclining on her bed. She closed the door behind her.
"I slept with Piotr," Kitty said.
"Yes, Emma told me. Actually, she showed me."
"I don't even want to know how she knew."
"We need to talk," Rachel said.
"I know," Kitty replied, sitting up in her bed. "Do you remember your last day with Excalibur?"
Rachel nodded. She had let Kitty into her newly recovered memories, showing her the life she had led before she had come to her reality. She had also told Kitty that day about the exact nature of her relationship with Kate Pryde. She had never trusted anyone so completely, and she had thought that the bond they had developed then would always link them, even across time.
"I wanted you to stay with us then. I think that I would've willingly sacrificed Brian and Megan's happiness to keep you there. But it was your decision, and I let you make it."
"And I never would have been able to make it if you hadn't helped me face my fears," Rachel said. She was starting to wonder where Kitty was going with this.
"Why didn't you tell me that you were back?" Kitty asked.
"Why are we having this conversation now? I have been here for months."
"That we know of, but you were here -- here -- and you didn't tell me."
"Kitty..." Rachel started and stopped. She remembered that her first thoughts had been of Kitty when she had returned. She had found out that Kitty wasn't with the X-men anymore, and she knew that she needed that time away from the chaos, just as Kitty had. She said, "I was not ready to return to the X-men. Not after everything I had been through."
"And if you had gotten in touch with me, you would have known that I wasn't with the X-men either."
"I knew that," Rachel said. "But I also knew that if you had known, you would have found me, and then we would've both been sucked into this again."
"You know why I left the X-men?" Kitty asked, and Rachel nodded. Kitty had had too much of death -- Ilyana's, Rachel's, Petens, Piotr's, and her dads. In Rachel's time, death had been what had brought them together. But here, things hadn't gotten so bleak yet, and they could hope for better things.
Kitty continued, "And now, you, Pete, and Piotr are all back so things should be okay. But they're not. Pete has been alive all along, letting me think he was dead. And I never would've known otherwise if we hadn't run into him. But he walked out on me, Rachel. I expect that from him. You should've told me."
"Is this what brought this on? Pete?" She remembered the chaos of Kitty's thoughts when they had met Pete Wisdom again. She had been angry, shocked, and Rachel thought, still half in love with him. Kitty hadn't said any of this to her though, and Rachel hadn't questioned her. This was another reason that Kitty's relationship with Piotr had surprised her. She would've expected her going back to Pete sooner than getting back with Piotr.
Kitty said, "I waited for you to tell me. But you never did."
"So this thing with Piotr? Is this your way of getting back at me?"
"How could you think that of me?"
"I don't know what to think, Kitty. You haven't told me anything...not about him or even about..."
"There's nothing to tell," Kitty said now. "I love him, but it's different from how it used to be. In all the years we chased after each other, this was the one thing that remained undone. First, I was too young, then he was in love with someone else, and then I was with Pete. This felt kind of like a goodbye between us. I had expected to feel differently."
She felt relieved at hearing that, and felt also a glimmer of hope that she and Kitty might yet be able to recover what they used to have. She asked, "Does he know that?"
"I think so," Kitty said. "We didn't really talk afterwards. But we will." She leaned back against the headboard of her bed and closed her eyes.
Rachel turned the lights of their room off and slipped under the covers. "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you sooner. But I never doubted that we would meet again, and I just didn't think that it would matter if it turned out to be a bit later than sooner."
Kitty didn't reply and Rachel thought for a minute that she had fallen asleep. As she closed her eyes, Kitty said, "You were right before. I never would've come back to the X-men if I hadn't found you again."
Rachel smiled at that and thought that they might just get it right this time.