Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: femslashbb: Strangers, prompt_in_a_box: Memory, and 1_million_words: Green
Word Count: 1,860
Date Written: 25 February 2017
Disclaimer: The first line belongs to David Bowie. All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
Though we're strangers till now, we're choosing the path between the stars. She used to love that song, Kitty muses, almost reaching out to shuffle her Ipod player again, but that was before. Everything good that's happened in her life, it seems lately, was all before. Now she feels like a stranger in the very place that felt more like her home than her actual home when she was a teenager. Now she feels out of place, as though every one around her is a stranger. It doesn't even feel like she knows the familiar faces any longer, especially Rachel.
And she doesn't know this Rachel. Everything she shared with her beloved Rachel Summers before was with another person. It would almost be confusing, if she wasn't so accustomed to doppelgangers and time traveling. She understands that this Rachel is a different person than the one she knew and loved before. She understands that she's just another team mate to this girl. At least, she does in her mind, but her heart doesn't understand it.
Every time she sees her, Kitty wants to run to her. She wants to wrap her in her arms and never let her go again. She wants to weep with relief that she's back, but then when she's alone in her bedroom after having had another encounter with this Rachel, she weeps for her own Ray. This woman isn't the one she knew and loved and who loved her in return. She isn't the best friend who kept her from going crazy after she lost all the rest of her friends and her parents too. She isn't the beautiful, troubled girl who Kitty used to try so hard to make smile and forget her past and with whom Kitty first tested the proverbial waters of her own sexuality.
She has the same eager and bright smile when she makes her smile. She has the same laugh when Kurt tickles her. She has the same green eyes that look so much like her mother's and in which Kitty can become so easily lost with but only a glance. She has the same killer, long legs that makes men drool and that Kitty remembers so fondly wrapped around her in Scotland. She even cries the same for Kitty has caught this Rachel crying, too.
But she isn't the same. She remembers her as her best friend, Kate Pryde, but only her friend. There was never anything more between them: never any longing glances, never any secret touches, and especially not a love that was destroyed because of the stupid time force. Kitty's only a friend. This Rachel isn't even bisexual. Kitty made the mistake of letting her hand brush hers in a suggestive caress one night, and the way the other woman ran from her told her that there's absolutely no chance of rebuilding the most loving and powerful relationship she's ever had with this new Rachel.
Rachel's back, and yet she's not. She seems to be the same woman to all the others: From Kurt to Logan to even Scott and Ororo, she seems to be the same as the one they lost before, but they never knew Kitty's Rachel as Kitty did. Ororo senses Kitty's loneliness and she tries to help, but she can't understand. Kurt, meaning well, told her to try to accept this Rachel as the friend she is, and Kitty has tried. But not even Logan, who knows what Rachel meant to Kitty before, can makes things better. Lockheed might understand -- he certainly hung out in their room enough when they were together before --, but he's long gone and also not the dragon Kitty had always thought he was.
A soft knock comes on Kitty's closed door. She quickly hides the picture of herself and Ray underneath her pillow as she calls out, "Come in." The moment her door opens, however, she wishes she had said nothing or even pretended not to be here for it's the same woman who never leaves her thoughts who entered.
Rachel's eyes are big and sad, haunted by her past but it's a past that, although Kitty's familiar with, doesn't include her most cherished memories. There's nothing happy in this Rachel's past, Kitty tries to remember as the woman who looks so very much like her lover enters her bedroom. "I . . . " She looks down, biting her bottom lip like Rachel once had a habit of doing. "I wasn't trying to eavesdrop," she says softly, "but you're broadcasting rather loudly."
Kitty looks away, her teeth absently touching her own bottom lip. "Sorry," she says, but she doesn't really mean it. She can't feel sorry for this person, this person who's here when her own Rachel isn't, this person who wears her Rachel's face and body and is so very much like her Ray but also so vastly different.
The redhead shakes her head. "No," she answers softly, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not her. You loved her a lot."
Kitty inclines her head in a single nod. "I did," she admits, never one to lie about her feelings since coming to adulthood, but she also wonders where the other woman is going with this.
"I . . . I would be her if I could be."
"But you're not her. I get it. You're your own person."
"I wish I was her."
"But you're not," Kitty says again, wishing she would just leave.
"But I have her face."
You have everything about her, Kitty almost says. You have her face, her body, her laugh, her tears . . . Hell, you are her except that you don't remember me, because we never shared what I shared with her. But she doesn't say any of this. She simply remains silent and waits for the Rachel who isn't her Ray to leave her bedroom and leave her alone with her broken heart.
"I could be."
"No," Kitty tells her, speaking so softly her own ears can barely catch her words. There isn't anything in this world that she wants as much as to have her Ray back, but this woman isn't her. Her body may be familiar -- her mind, when they communicate telepathically, an old, familiar caress --, but for all intents and purpose, she is still a stranger. "You can't be. You aren't her."
"But I am her," Rachel argues, shutting the door and walking across Kitty's room. She kneels before her and tries to lure her into looking up at her. "I am the same person, Kitty. I just don't remember what we had before."
"Because you're not her," Kitty retorts, feeling the need to scream rising within her. "You're not her. You can't be her. She's gone." Her tears finally start to fall again, sliding hot and fast down her face.
To her surprise, Rachel reaches up and with the same gentility of the other Ray she knew and loved before, wipes away her tears. Kitty finally faces her, her brown eyes full of tears. "You're not her," she repeats again, her voice becoming a hoarse whisper. "You're not her."
"No, but maybe I want to be."
"We can't -- You don't -- You don't love me like she did," Kitty finally admits.
"Then teach me. Show me. Let me fall in love with you."
Kitty blinks rapidly through her tears, wondering partially if she's dreaming. She had considered this very option before, but when she'd tried to advance on Rachel, the other woman had all but literally ran from her.
"I was afraid before," Rachel explains softly. "I never knew love. I -- "
"You only knew pain and heartache," Kitty whispers, remembering the future that was the past for both the Rachels in her life, "and sorrow and what it was like to be a monster preying off of your kind for your survival."
Rachel nods. "You speak like you know."
"Ray and I shared a lot."
"Then share a little of it with me?" she requests softly. "You shared my pain before, even if it wasn't the same me. We fell in love before. I'm willing to guess it didn't happen overnight."
"No," Kitty admits, shaking her head and gulping down the tight balls of emotion forming in her throat. "No, it didn't." It happened sometime while they were still grieving their family and holding on to each other to make it through those lonely nights in Excalibur's early days on the cold moors of Scotland. One morning, she woke up from a night of falling into Ray's arms while still crying and winding up making love with her all night long and she realized she was no longer sad. She was happy, happy and glad to be alive at last all because of her Ray.
"I'd like to help you find that happiness again."
"What about you?" she asks softly.
"What about me?"
"What do you get out of it?"
"A new friend. The pleasure of making somebody else happy. And who knows? Maybe you can teach me how to love again. Maybe you're exactly what I need to make me feel alive again."
Kitty stares into her green eyes for a long moment. She looks so much like Ray, crouched as she is before her, gazing up into her eyes with those emerald greens that it seems to renew the tight ache in Kitty's heart all over again. Had not her Rachel whispered those very words to her once? Kitty asks herself, knowing full well she had. They had both made each other feel alive again when they'd thought they could never again feel anything but pain and heartache.
At last, she nods, her lips trembling upward into the smallest hint of a hopeful smile. "Maybe," she says, but she doesn't move. She doesn't know where to begin with this Rachel.
So Rachel begins for them both. She leans forward, her hands going to Kitty's shapely calves, and up and places her lips on Kitty's. There was always a fire about Kitty's Rachel's kisses, and this Rachel has the same, natural fire that reminded Kitty of the Phoenix. But unlike the other X-Men, she doesn't shudder away from the Phoenix because, for her, the Phoenix means much more than just a powerful, cosmic entity who has taken so much from them. To her, the Phoenix also means her dearest friend and the greatest love of her life. She means hope along with rebirth, and for the first time in a very long time, Kitty begins to feel the spark of that hope inside of her.
Her lips part, welcoming Rachel. She may not be the Rachel she knew and loved before -- they may still be strangers for all intents and purposes --, but that doesn't mean she can't learn to love her. She is still the same woman after all, isn't she? For the first time, Kitty thinks, Yes, yes, she is. She may not have the same memories as the woman she loved, but she is still that woman, and now . . . Now it's time to make new memories, she thinks, falling back onto her bed and pulling Rachel along with her.