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The Life He Chooses

Title: The Life He Chooses
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Lockheed/Shadowcat, Jean/Scott, mentions of Scott/Emma and Multiple Kitty Pairings
Rating: PG/K+
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts July 2016: ALL (Telepathy/Dragon/Juggling work and romantic life/Deception/Moon/Tunnels/Metal/Timepiece)
Warning(s): None
Word Count: 1,452
Date Written: 26 July 2016
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.




He should be sleeping. He's got a very busy day tomorrow. There's a species who have been stealing other planets' moons. They'll close in on them tomorrow, and it's bound to be a big fight. His tail lashes out and thumps his bed at the mere thought of frying the thieves at last. They were about to hit Earth and steal his Kitty's moon, but that's not going to happen.

Neither, the little dragon sighs, is sleep going to happen tonight. It's a good thing he became accustomed to going without sleep as an X-Man and Shadowcat's best friend and partner in crime (or, rather, heroics), because he's not going to get a wink tonight. Every time he shuts his eyes, he sees her. Sometimes, she's smiling in one of the memories where he made her grin and laugh. Other times, she's crying because of how he betrayed her, his best friend, the Earthling with whom he fell in love so many years ago.

He glances at his clock, and his tail strikes the bed again. It's so late there's only a few more hours before the alarms will ring to wake every one. Everybody will be rushing to and fro, but for now, the ship's still quiet. There's a metallic hum from the big, metal beast's engine, but it can only be heard by a few. Most of his team mates consider it to be soothing. He's even heard one or two of them say that it lulls them to sleep, but nothing can lull him to sleep tonight. Nothing can make him stop seeing her or ease his ache of missing her.

He remembers back to years ago when they were both more innocent and less knowledgeable and she first found him in the tunnels beneath the X-Mansion. She was only a kid, but he'd never known such bravery in a human. She protected him. She saved his life time and again, and in turn, he saved hers. She thought their bond was unbreakable; he, despite the lies he fed her and himself, knew it was only a matter of time before the survivors of his species came to collect him. He almost wishes they had all died out with the Brood's attack, but he's never been a lucky dragon except where she's concerned.

His memories shift to the last time they were together. She was older, more mature in actual, wisdom, and experience. Still, she pleaded with him to stay, but his is not a job that can be done from Earth. He thought a great deal about asking her to come with him. He still considers E-mailing her and asking her to come, especially since he's heard she's been having adventures with the Star Lord. What is it with his Kitty and Peters, any way?! He should change his name to Peter. Perhaps then, she'd see him as more than just a little dragon.

She already does, a gentle voice says within his mind, interrupting his thoughts.

His wings flex. He coos aloud, then hushes, not wanting to wake any one else. He's alone in his room, but his immediate reaction comes from years of not sleeping alone, from years of being with her and with whatever two legger with whom she decided to share their bed. Jean, he acknowledges the voice in his head with another flex of his purple, leathery wings. He should perhaps be annoyed that she dropped into his private thoughts so unexpectedly, but she already knows how he feels, just as he knows how she feels. Instead, he answers her with a direct question. And would you ask Scott, he queries, to leave as well?

No. There's a great sorrow in her mental voice, and he almost regrets asking. Almost. I can not trust myself to always be in control of the Phoenix force, Lockheed. You know that. That is why I chose to fake my death and continue to stay away from those I love. It is the only way to protect them. And besides, she adds, and he knows immediately that what she is about to say is the true source of her sorrow, he loves another.

He bristles at the memory of seeing her husband latched onto another Earthling. Yeah. He spits, and a puff of flame comes out of his large beak. Emma Frost. What in the world Scott Summers, or any man, ever saw in that woman, he'll never understand, but then what did his Kitty ever see in the string of Peters she's dated? Colossus was a gentle giant, but he was an idiot, too. Everybody knows Spiderman and Mary Jane belong together, and there was nothing walking on two legs that was more annoying than Peter Wisdom. He releases another puff of smoke as his tail strikes his bed again.

You're going to break your bed if you keep doing that, Jean teases. Her gentle laughter makes him smile as he remembers once more, and with great fondness, the old days. Jean was like a mother to most of the X-Men, and she and especially Ororo stepped in to take care of Kitty when her own parents let her down. He always preferred Jean for her gentleness. Ororo had a wild streak that was dangerous to his Kitty, and he didn't particularly like how they both felt more for each other than mere friendship. We don't have a lot of choice, do we? he asks, suddenly feeling as much sorrow as she feels thinking of her husband with another woman.

You do, Lockheed, she whispers in his mind. He wishes she was right, but he knows better.

"Coo." The sound of his own sorrow echoes in his still bedroom. You know that's not right, Jeannie.

You do have a choice, Lockheed. You can leave them. The X-Men do a lot of good work, both for Earth and for other worlds. You could join them as a full fledge member, show them what you're capable of, fight alongside her, live alongside her again. Or you could invite her to join you out here in outer space. Kitty's had a lot of interstellar adventures, especially for a girl her age.

His wings shift. She's had a lot of adventures for any Earthling.

True, Jean says, and it sounds like she's laughing again. So why don't you ask her to join you? She would in an instant.

But she wouldn't be happy, he returns, cooing aloud, not without her family, not without the X-Men. That's why she could never settle down in college. I couldn't do that to her.

A silence resounds between them in their telepathic bond. He understands it well to mean, So you'd rather break her heart instead? My heart's broken too, he wants to tell her, but he doesn't. Instead, he adds, And I can't leave my people. Not yet. Not without a fight.

She's worth fighting for.

He breathes fire, burning his third pillow that week. He won't get another one until the next shipment of supplies. I never said she wasn't! he squawks, wings flapping urgently. I have fought for her! Many times! And Jean's right. He could do so again, but then what? Spend the rest of his days at her side? As her pet? He can't go back to that lifestyle!

I have to go.

I'm sorry.

I know, her mental voice is gentle, and he knows she doesn't blame him, even if he does, in part, blame himself. I guess you're right, 'Heed. There aren't any answers for us, no real choices other than the work we do. Her words echo in his head as she retreats across the cosmos.

He lets her go, curling up into a tighter ball and staring at the charred remains of his pillow through his teary eyes. He sniffs and tucks his purple nose underneath his wing. He'd do anything to feel Kitty's gentle hands on him again, to have her scratch just that right spot on his nose or between his ears -- but he can't do that. He won't do that ever again. He's no one's pet, not even Kitty's, and if that means he has to love her from afar while never being able to voice his true feelings, if it means he has to stay away from her and make a name for himself with his people so that one day she learns what he is capable of and all that he has done, if it means he has to cry himself to sleep every night with never a true answer in his heart or mind, then so be it. That is the life he'll lead, and he'll always love his Kitty.

The End

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