Logan was watching her again.
It was weird. Kitty had known Logan for years now. The first time he'd shown up at the Xavier School she'd only been there a few months herself. And he hadn't given her this kind of scrutiny since she was sixteen and he was teaching her martial arts and tutoring her in Japanese and telling her to stop being such a whiner. Now that they were colleagues, now that she didn't need a gruff Canadian mentor to get her through the worst part of her adolescence without literally sinking through the floor every day, their relationship had changed. They were friends. And he didn't watch her so carefully.
But since that day when he'd cancelled his classes and spent the afternoon and evening locked in Professor Xavier's office he'd been acting weird. Weird for Logan, anyway. Still laconic as ever, but slower with his comebacks, as if they were lines from a script he didn't quite remember.
And now, as she finished up her class and gave everyone their assignments, turning off the projector and the display screen, Logan was there again, hovering at the door.
"What is it?" she asked, dusting her hands and leaning against one of the student desks. Kitty watched Logan stand at the door and fidget - and that was incredibly unsettling, because while he was the sort of man who didn't like to sit still he wasn't the sort to dither - before coming in and shutting the door behind him.
"Kitty," he began, then started to say something and shut his mouth halfway through the first syllable. She could feel her eyebrows draw up in surprise and confusion, because Logan just didn't talk if he wasn't sure what to say. He never fumbled for words.
"What's wrong, Logan?" she asked, taking a step towards him. He rubbed a hand over his face. Sometimes Kitty forgot how old he was, how many things he had seen. And sometimes the years were writ clear on his face.
"You're not going to believe this," he said finally, sliding into one of the desks, grimacing as it creaked under his weight. "But I think I should tell you anyway."
Kitty perched on the desk in front of him, feet on the chair, and smiled at his raised eyebrow. Her classroom, her furniture to disrespect. "We live in a school full of people who can control the elements and read minds and break the laws of physics, Logan. I'm used to the unbelievable. Hit me."
"It's about you," he said. "But it starts with the Professor. And with Mystique."
"Raven?" Kitty frowned a little; nobody at the school called her Mystique anymore, not since she had gone into semi-retirement.
"Stop interrupting me, kid," he said, and Kitty rolled her eyes and did her best to stay silent.
Which was harder than she expected, with the story Logan told her. An assassination, a world that reacted in all the worst ways to the differences of others. Echoes of a familiar story from her grandfather's days. The basest and ugliest impulses of humanity, turning upon mutants in terror and loathing. Hiding and secrecy and being hunted. Mutants rounded up and experimented on, their powers locked away through collars, their DNA tracked. Kitty shivered as he spoke, his voice flat to keep the raw anger from leaking through.
It hadn't happened. Not for her. She'd grown up in a world where mutants were, if not always accepted, at least acknowledged. She hadn't been trapped. She hadn't been an experiment, developing new powers in addition to her phasing, desperate to escape.
She hadn't been the leader of a revolutionary cabal. True, she had fought, but not against monsters that sounded less like robots and more like something out of a story to frighten children. Kitty had struggled, but not for her very survival. She hadn't rewritten the timeline again and again to buy herself and her compatriots a few days. She had never met Bishop, or Blink, or let Bobby stay by her side as she prepared to throw herself into a desperate attempt to save the world. She had never given orders and taken charge of the last efforts to prevent an unimaginably dark future from ever existing.
Except, apparently, she had. She had flung Logan's consciousness back over almost fifty years; she had held him there with her power and her will and her sheer bloody-minded stubbornness, and held him there long enough in spite of certain pursuit to help him change the course of history. And in doing so she'd removed herself entirely from ever having to do it in the first place.
It really was unbelievable. But Logan would never have made up a story like this. Even if the students thought some of his tales were full of exaggerations and embellishments… that was an order of magnitude different from this sort of elaborate alternate history. Kitty straightened up, hopping off the desk.
"The Professor can vouch for me," Logan said, looking up at her, an odd spark of eagerness in his eyes. "He remembers me showing up on his doorstep back in 1973, he saw what could have happened. He looked into my mind then, and he did it again when I got back. It's all real, Kitty."
"Why are you telling me this?" she asked, walking closer to him. It was rare that she had the advantage of height over anyone. "Why now? When I haven't done any of that? When I never will?" Logan didn't volunteer information. Logan didn't share. Which meant he must have been really bothered by this, enough that he'd sought her out. But why her?
"So I can thank you," he said simply. "I never got the chance. Not with the version of you that sent me back. But you're here." Logan unfolded himself from the desk, looking at Kitty with eyes that were strangely sad. "Thank you, Kitty. You saved us all."
"But I didn't," she said. "I really didn't."
"Some things don't change, Kitty," Logan said, his voice a low rumble. "You're still the same girl. If you had to, you'd do whatever it takes, and you wouldn't think twice. That's the girl I'm thanking."
He put a hand on her shoulder, warm and solid, and Kitty looked up at him. She could see it in his face, in his eyes, the knowledge of a dark potential that had been averted. The wish to do something to prove the depth of his gratitude. And the deep discomfort with expressing any emotion this openly.
She would go talk with the Professor, she decided. She would ask him what he had seen, and what he had done, and whether he'd seen her in a glimpse of the future as well. Whether he knew anything more about those days that would never come to pass. Whether he saw that hero in her as well. But for now she gave Logan a very small smile.
"You're welcome, Logan. And you can make it up to me by not calling me a girl anymore."
He relaxed, face easing back into that familiar squint he got when he didn't quite want to give in to a smile. "Nice try, kid."
"Keep that up and you're going to get wrinkles," Kitty said, and headed out the door. She could hear him chuckling all the way down the hall. Maybe Logan was right. Maybe the Professor would confirm everything he'd said; that somewhere out there in the possibilities of the universe, she had saved the world from ruin. Maybe there was a greater strength within her than she'd ever had to use, even if she'd never had to be that strong. But she could be, if she had to. She could do more than teach.
Maybe walls weren't the only thing she could walk through.