Kitty grabbed her textbooks and raced for the front door, oblivous to obstacles like walls, furniture, and other students. Nobody here minded very much. Well, except for Rogue.
The others never noticed her approach, silent as a shadow even in the most frenzied hurry, but Rogue always cleared a path. At first, Kitty didn't think much of it -- hey, one less body to phase through, it made little difference to her. But unlike other new arrivals to the house, Rogue never got over flinching when Kitty's hand brushed through her arm to reach for a carton of milk at the breakfast table. The others only noticed when they happened to look down to see a stray hand passing through them like air, but Rogue always noticed.
Always. Every time. And, as Kitty gradually came to realize, Rogue always heard her coming in the hallway, and stepped aside.
"Your powers don't work on me when I'm phasing, you know." Kitty sank -- not literally -- into the seat beside Rogue. "You don't have to worry about hurting me."
"I'm not worried," Rogue snapped. "I just don't like it when you go charging through me. It's rude."
"Oh." Kitty's face grew warm. "Sorry." She stared at the back of Scott's head and tried to think of some way to fill the uncomfortable silence. "It's just casual contact, you know, like when someone bumps your elbow. Nobody else minds."
"Well I do."
Kitty decided to sulk quite pointedly in Rogue's direction.
Rogue ignored her. Or, you know, didn't notice.
"Do you think Rogue's right?" she asked Kurt later. "You know, about phasing through people being rude? It's not like I'm bumping into anyone, like everyone else does all the time."
"Only Rogue doesn't ever bump into anyone," Kurt said. "She's always careful, because of her powers."
"Wow, I totally never noticed that."
"Me either, but Rogue explained it to me the other day. Really loudly. And with a lot more words."
For the rest of the day, Kitty noticed every time someone touched her. It happened an awful lot. Casual, meaningless touches that meant nothing to either party involved. Only to Rogue, they'd mean unwanted flashes of other people's memories or creepy private thoughts, maybe even disaster if someone's hand lingered a moment too long against her bare skin.
Her heart ached at what her friend must suffer every day. No wonder she avoided people, skipped parties, and never even flirted with any guys. Kitty had almost hoped that meant -- but no, she knew Rogue liked Scott, or had liked Scott anyway, and besides, she knew Rogue could never really kiss anyone. It wasn't like she'd never thought about it before. She reminded herself that this wasn't about her own little fantasies, this was about Rogue's life.
Kitty definitely owed her roommate an apology.
"Hey." Kitty actually used the door to her own room, and perched on the edge of Rogue's bed. "I want to say sorry about earlier. I never stopped to think what it must be like for you, with your powers. It must be a real pain having to work extra hard to stay out of people's way all the time. No wonder you're always so grumpy."
"This is your idea of an apology?"
"I mean, I'd be all pissy and sullen too if -- "
The mattress springs squeaked when Rogue slammed her book down. "That's what you think of me!"
"No!" Kitty said. "I'm saying it all wrong. I think you're totally awesome! You're like my favorite person here and it totally sucks that I can't ever touch you."
Rogue quirked an eyebrow at her. "You want to touch me?"
Kitty felt the burn on her cheeks. "Well not like that or anything!"
"Like that, huh." Was Rogue actually smiling? "Now there's a surprise."
Face burning, Kitty wished she could sink through the floor. Oh wait, she realized, she could sink through the floor, and so she did.
Kitty picked a book off the library shelf at random and very firmly read it. Rogue had not discovered her secret crush, she'd only been teasing. Just normal roommate stuff. Nothing to get upset about or anything. This would all blow over by dinner. Sure. Firm nod, turn page. It would all blow over by dinner.
"I'm cool with it, you know." Rogue leaned against the door frame and studied her fingernails.
"What?" That came out squeakier than she'd hoped, and Kitty almost dropped her book straight through her own lap.
"If you do swing that way, or both ways, whatever. It's cool."
Kitty needed just the right response. Casual. Breezy. Dare she hope for witty? "Um, yeah, okay." (Okay, so not witty. Or even coherent.)
"There's a band playing tonight, at the park. I thought maybe, if you want to, we could go?"
"Sure," Kitty said, eager to take the peace offering. A concert in the park. Normalcy. Wait, since when did Rogue go to concerts in the park? Was this Rogue's way of saying she was cool with it, or that she was cool with it.
Had that been a wink?
Two hours later Kitty still hadn't figured out whether or not she had a date, but whatever she did have, she was dressed for it.
"Scott said he'd give us a ride." Rogue tossed her lipstick back in her drawer. "I heard this band's pretty good."
More than two syllables, she could manage it. "That's great!" (Or, you know, not.)
"Well, if you're ready . . . " Rogue held the door open for her. That was not too weird or anything.
They smiled awkwardly at each other in the backseat of Scott's car, and Kitty was grateful when Kurt popped in unexpectedly and landed in her lap. At least it broke the tension, although she was less thrilled when he spilled soda on her leg.
The band managed to surprise Kitty, because not only was the music pretty good, but it also had a great dance beat. She and Rogue moved off to the side of the tiny stage, where they had a little more room to breathe, and this time Rogue didn't need to use her mutant abilities to swipe Kitty's moves. She'd added a few of her own to the mix, and the way she moved her hips definitely got the job done.
"Nice moves!" Kitty pretty much had to shout to be heard over the music, and whatever Rogue said in reply fell victim to the drum solo. She moved a little closer, trying to hear without crowding her companion. "What did you say?"
"I said you look hot when you dance!" Rogue caught Kitty's wrist in her gloved hand and raised it, which meant Kitty had to close the gap between them as they danced.
Her stomach tensed with nerves and excitement, and then the song ended. Kitty started to step back.
"Wait." Rogue's free hand landed on her waist. "The slow ones are good, too."
Sure enough, the band started a softer number, one with actual lyrics that were audible over the guitars. Kitty shivered at the way Rogue's fingers pressed against her hip, and the way Rogue's breath warmed her neck. This was totally a date. With Rogue. An actual slow dancing, hands resting places date.
"I'm sorry I was cross at you this morning," Rogue said.
"I'm not," Kitty said. She grinned. "We should argue more often. The making up part totally rocks."