Kitty knows the evening is taking a turn for the worse when Jubilee switches off the TV abruptly and says "This is boring. Let's play a game."
Bobby reaches for a handful of popcorn, apparently oblivious to his impending doom, and answers with his mouth full. "I've got some cards in my room." This is a relief. Even if John talks them into playing strip poker, it probably won't be as bad as the alternatives.
"We don't need cards," Marie says, leaning off the bed to refill her soda, which is tricky while upside down and wearing gloves. She makes a face, and Peter steadies the glass for her. She flashes him a smile before righting herself and looking at them all, glass raised. "Let's play truth or dare."
"Sure," Jubilee says, and scoots over to sit cross-legged on the edge of the bed next to John. Bobby and Marie are sprawled on the other bed. Peter and Kitty get the floor, leaning against opposite beds. Kitty is aware that this is because they are at the bottom of the social ladder. Peter probably knows this, too, but he doesn't care, which is one of the things she likes about him.
"Isn't that a little ..." she begins, and then trails off, because being her she can't finish the sentence with anything without looking like she just can't take the heat. She waits, hoping John will help her out by adding "lame" or "girly" or "junior high school." John can say all kind of things she can't.
"Why not?" John says instead. "Unless you're not up for it, Drake."
"Hey, I'll play," Bobby says, and that's pretty much sealed their fate. They're being stupid, but they're boys; they probably don't understand that all party games popular with teenage girls are weapons of war.
It wouldn't be so bad if Marie weren't here. Jubilee probably just wants to prove that she's the wildest thing going, which Kitty is willing to grant her without arguing. Watching her and John fight over who's the toughest might even be fun, if your definition of fun is watching things get broken. That's not what she's worrying about.
Kitty likes Marie, even in her stranger moods; if she were being perfectly honest, she'd have to admit that in a weird way she likes Marie better in her stranger moods. She gets along with Marie better when Marie's swearing and shoving her hair out of her face like she can't imagine why it's there than she does when Marie's putting on lipstick and blowing kisses at the mirror.
She doesn't even mind it when Marie frowns at her homework and mutters "This is utterly pointless" in a dark voice not her own, and goes to sit on the windowsill and chain-smoke, staring out at the garden below. It's kind of charming, which is a bad, bad thing to think, so she tries not to. But it's certainly better than watching Marie flirt with Bobby because she's nervous or John because she's angry. That seems worse than most of the things she says when she's not herself.
"You first," John says, grinning at Jubilee. "Truth or dare?"
"Dare," she says. For all her bravado, Jubilee is not much into telling uncomfortable truths.
John smirks, glances at Bobby. They grin at each other, partners in crime. Marie leans to catch John's attention, raising a questioning eyebrow. John waggles his eyebrows at her and licks his lips. Marie and Bobby both roll their eyes.
"Take off your shirt," John says.
Jubilee gives him the finger and smiles. She strips off her shirt and tosses it dramatically into a pile in the middle of the floor. Kitty rescues one sleeve from the popcorn bowl. She's wearing a black bra that stands out against her tan skin. "Next?"
John claps and whistles. Peter blushes. Kitty tries not to laugh at that. It's totally not fair.
"Bobby, truth or dare?" Jubilee asks.
"Truth," Bobby says.
"Who's the first person at the mansion you ever had a thing for?"
John flicks open his lighter and snaps it shut again. He looks nervous already. Kitty's not very sympathetic. He knows Jubilee always hits back.
Bobby looks around, and then smiles just a little sheepishly. "Dr. Grey."
There's laughter all around, but it's friendly. It's just like Bobby to play it safe. Marie's laughing, too, although she gives him a "friendly" shove that makes him wince. Maybe he hasn't gotten away without hurting himself after all.
"Peter, truth or dare?" Bobby asks. More playing it safe.
"Dare," Peter says after a moment's thought.
"You have to kiss someone in this room," Bobby says.
Marie whistles encouragingly. Kitty digs her fingernails into her palms. She's afraid he won't because she's three years younger than he is, and she's more afraid that he will just to be kind. She also hates herself for even thinking this way, like something straight out of the magazines for teenage girls she pointedly doesn't read.
Peter considers this, looking amused, and then scrambles up to his knees. He looks at Marie, and then leans in quickly and kisses Bobby lightly on the mouth.
Bobby jumps like he's been stung and scrambles backwards on the bed as everybody laughs. He scrubs at his mouth with the back of his hand.
"Yeah, yeah, very funny," he says.
"Woo-hoo," John says. "Go, Drake."
Kitty wonders if Peter knows how thoroughly he's taken the wind out of Marie and Jubilee's sails. It won't be nearly as funny now when one of them tries to make John kiss Bobby. She suspects he does know. Peter's a lot smarter than he looks, and he doesn't like seeing people get hurt.
"John," Peter says calmly. "Truth or dare."
"Truth," John says. It's easy enough for John to lie.
"What is the worst thing you've ever done?"
John looks at the lighter in his hand. He frowns. "Who, me?" he says. "I'm a perfect saint."
"It is a fair question," Peter says.
John looks up at him and shakes his head, his cockiness a little shaken. "I won't answer that."
"Forfeit time," Jubilee says. "I think you should lose some clothes too."
There's the sound of general agreement to that. John starts to peel his shirt off, but Jubilee shakes her head. "The pants."
"Okay," John says, raising his chin. "Sure thing, sweetheart." He strips off his pants. Underneath he's wearing gray boxers. It's not that much more skin than he shows in gym class. Of course, in gym class he's usually not that ... interested. He sits cross-legged on the bed, chin up like he's daring anyone to say anything. "Rogue, truth or dare?"
"Dare," she says, in her soft Southern accent.
"Your turn to kiss somebody," he says.
Marie looks annoyed. "You know I can't."
"I didn't say it had to be on the lips."
Marie's quiet for a moment, and then she smiles wickedly. She goes down on her knees in front of Bobby, and before Bobby seems to understand what she has in mind, she leans in and kisses him through the fabric of his jeans right at the seam between his spread legs.
"Oh, man," John says. Kitty's not sure if he sounds appreciative or mad.
Marie pulls away a little and looks at him, one eyebrow raised in an expression maybe not entirely her own. "Isn't that what you wanted to see?"
"It's just a game," John says.
"By all means, let's finish the game," Marie says, and that mocking tone isn't hers, either. "Katherine, truth or dare?"
It's Kitty, Kitty starts to say, but she tries not to talk to Marie's alternate personalities. It makes her ask too many questions about her life. "Truth," she says.
"What do you think of this little game so far?"
And she knows she should lie, but the urge for honesty is too strong for her. "I think it's really junior-high-school, and I hated junior high school."
"You don't like the atmosphere?" Marie asks, with a sharp little smile. She reaches out to run her gloved fingers down the side of Kitty's face.
Peter starts to reach for Marie's arm, to stop her. Kitty pushes his hand away.
"I can take a dare," Kitty says. She picks up Jubilee's discarded shirt and holds one sleeve of it up to Marie's face and kisses Marie through it, feeling her lips pressing back, warm even through the black cotton.
After a minute Marie leans back with a more normal smile. Her lipstick is a mess. "Wow," she says. "Did I just do that?"
"Bring on the hot girl-on-girl action," John says. "I want to see some skin."
"Oh, you do," Marie says, looking at him challengingly. She reaches for the top button on her shirt. "Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint you."
"I think we need more drinks," Kitty says, hoping no one will notice the full two-liter of Coke that's rolled partway under the bed. "I'm going to go get some, okay?"
"I'll come with you," Peter volunteers. "We can carry more."
"Okay," Jubilee says. "But if you're not back in ten minutes, that's a forfeit."
"We got it," Kitty says, and drags Peter out of the room.
"I am not going back in there," Peter says when they're out in the hall.
"No," Kitty says. "Because I value my sanity, and also my clothes." She raises a hand to her lips. She isn't sure what she thinks about that, but she doesn't have to be. Thankfully, most of the time no one makes you tell the whole truth.
There are footsteps on the stairs. It's Logan, looking cranky.
"Have you seen Marie?"
Kitty tries not to look visibly flustered. "She's around here somewhere," she says.
"Was she wearing my shirt? Someone took my shirt."
"I don't think she was wearing your shirt," Kitty says. "Maybe somebody messed up the laundry."
"Yeah, or maybe it's under her bed," Logan says. He strides toward Marie's room.
Peter looks at Kitty ruefully. "I think chivalry demands a rescue."
Peter watches Logan stop outside Marie's door and frown, as if hearing voices beyond it. "I have no idea."
"I have a good idea," Kitty says, and phases through the floor, dropping a little painfully to the hall outside the library and ducking inside. Maybe Peter will find her, and they can spend a quiet rest of the evening reading in front of the fire while whatever drama the rest of them end up having plays itself out.
Assuming Peter can find her. As the sound of Logan reading people the riot act begins to carry from upstairs, she stretches out on the warm rug by the fire contentedly. Hide and seek is really more her game.