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 Let’s Get Steppin’!, Sat. Feb. 18 , 2016 1:30pm
 Posted: Feb 14 2018, 01:32 PM

There was one simple fact that every mansion resident soon came to understand: there was no good way into the city.

Actually… scratch that. They could teleport in a flash! Speed through the air! Run the distance in the blink of an eye! Well, some of them could, anyway: Roan, Sam, or Tommy. All Kitty Pryde could do was none of these things. Even if her powers offered her an impressive freedom of movement (and plenty of shortcuts), it did absolutely nothing to increase her actual long-distance speed.

So instead, the girl had to pick her poison. She could drive her little electric go-mobile, risking gridlocked traffic on the way and nowhere to park when she got there, or she could take the tried and true but crowded and sloooow path and ride the train. At least the latter did give her a freedom of focus, though. She could occupy her time with other things. And today, she still had work to do, so today, that’s where she went.

And she already regretted it.

“Waitwaitwaitwaitwait!” It didn’t. For whatever reason, her MetroCard hadn’t automatically replenished. She’d had to wait in line to add funds instead and now the train was departing without her. Well, just because she refused to skip the turnstile without paying did NOT mean she’d accept narrowly missing her ride after paying.

If Kitty couldn’t walk through those doors, then she’d just walk through them.

The girl did have to catch herself as the train lurched forward, grabbing at the nearest rail and praying she didn’t spill her coffee. She also had to return the dirty look she got from a couple girls in the corner, clearly unhappy she’d just openly used her powers. Ugh. As far as Kitty was concerned, if they didn’t want public displays, they shouldn’t have gone out in public.

Luckily, at the opposite end was all it took to improve her mood: a familiar face. It didn’t even matter that she didn’t actually know the kid all that well. Everyone at Xavier’s was family.

Besides, now he was stuck with her.

“Hey! Ben! Mind if I keep you company?” The boy received her brightest grin as she just slid in beside him anyway. Between taking off her scarf and fishing out her tablet, Kitty was clearly making herself comfortable already, too. “How you doing?” she asked. Where you off to today?”

[Scarlet Spider | closed]
Scarlet Spider
 Posted: Feb 15 2018, 02:19 AM

It was actually not often that Ben came into the city in a normal manner. While it was a distance and took some work, Ben usually traveled into the city by web instead of taking the train. At night he could just swing between the trees to get where he was going from the mansion to the closest train station, and then from there, it was pretty easy to just follow the buildings into the central part of NYC. He'd done it so many times that he was pretty sure he could get to the city center where all of the highrises were with his eyes closed.

In the middle of the afternoon, however, it was a bit harder because he'd need to be discreet. So that meant that his little bit of shopping would require a boring trip on the train, it might have been better if he'd had someone to go shopping with, but he didn't. He was still so bitter from his run-in with Ruby the night before that he didn't want to really speak to anyone much less try to find someone he thought was a friend for a trip into the city. It was a secret whiny feeling that he got, that somehow he'd end up asking someone to come along and they'd deny him because they were really never friends in the first place.

He tried to tell himself that the albino girl was not important, but it didn't work. Instead he was walking into the subway with a scowl on his face. At least it was enough to keep anyone else from sitting down next to him.

Except apparently, his scowl was not enough to keep everyone away.

"Hi Kitty," He drawled, wondering just how she could be so damn chipper. Reminding himself that it was only his life that was falling apart at the seams, he just shrugged, "I'm alive, that's how I'm doing." Meaning no one had killed him, he'd not just taken a short walk off a tall building or anything else, but he couldn't really say that things were going well when he felt so damn awkward all the time. "I'm just going to the city. I wanted to go shopping."

Alone. Ben wanted to go shopping alone, but he didn't have the heart to tell Kitty to go find another seat. Instead, he just glanced over at her tablet to be a bit nosy and see what she was doing, because he didn't have anyone really to talk to, or anyone to interact with on social media he just returned to the game he'd been playing on his phone. It was just one of those stupid match three games, but his high level betrayed how much he played the game, "What about you? Heading to see your boyfriend?"

 Posted: Feb 17 2018, 07:54 PM

“Alive’s a start.” The girl’s smile softened with sympathy. Seeing Ben in a poor mood was an unfortunately common occurrence the last few months, but today was different. Today he seemed genuinely upset. But while that scowl of his had been hard to miss, it took a lot more than that to deter Kitty Pryde.

He didn’t immediately push her away either, which was itself a start. Asking him about it now, though, would probably change that; luckily, they had the whole train ride to build up to that discussion. For now, though, Ben brought up another important topic.

Yeeeeeaaaaaah. About that…

“No.” She could at least answer his question first. “I mean, maybe after, but right now I have to go to the library near Mutant Town. We’re helping with some renovations there on Tuesday, so I need to drop in and make sure we’re all set.”

On to more important things, though… She turned her attention from that tablet and the image on it — in the color photo of a group of kids, a section of it had been turned to black and white. But that could wait for a moment; this discussion was long overdue.

“But since you brought it up,” she continued, clearly changing gears, “I’ve actually been meaning to talk to you about that.” The girl made sure to gauge his reaction to that statement; whether he seemed confused or seemed like he’d seen it coming would be telling. Either way, she pressed ahead and asked him directly.

“Have you ever met Peter?” she inquired. “Do you know… what he does for a living?”

Okay. So maybe there was a pretty hard limit to how direct she could actually be.

[Scarlet Spider]
Scarlet Spider
 Posted: Feb 26 2018, 01:35 AM

If there was one thing that Ben hated more then anything else, it was the specific way that someones face changed when they started to feel sorry for him. Sympathy was never a good look for anyone he was talking to because no one cared to have enough empathy to ever help him.

It was like posting "thoughts and prayers" on social media after a tragedy, it didn't do any fucking good.

While Ben quietly seethed, there was no outward reaction to his own irritation. He just wanted Kitty (or someone for that matter) to put their money where their mouths were, it was easy to feel sorry for someone, but apparently so hard to help things change. His mouth twitched, but he kept it shut, knowing his luck he'd just feel like him and Kitty were close, and then he'd find out that they were never friends at all just the same way he had with Ruby. At least with the way things ended with Liv, they knew that they were no longer friends, just teammates, and while that was not Ben wanted at least he'd been part of that decision.

Blinking for a second, Ben realized that Shadowcat was actually answering his question about going to see her boyfriend. "Oh. Yeah, thats a long train ride." No wonder Kitty had been so adamant about getting on this specific train, he wouldn't have wanted to wait for a second longer to get on a train all the way to mutant town. Yet as polite as Ben was trying to be by not saying anything rude or smartmouthed, he was not polite enough to keep from being nosy and looking at the image up on her tablet. Just some kids he didn't know, so he turned back to his game on his own phone, he'd just managed to three-star his first level in the two-thousands, and he was pretty excited. He was not quite far enough that he had to wait for Monday for new levels but he was now just working on getting them all three starred, played that game a ton and at this point, it was pretty embarrassing.

"Talk to me about what?" He closed his game before putting his phone away so that he could actually give Kitty his full attention. Probably for the best that he didn't have his phone in his hand, he might have gripped it too tightly in surprise and broken the stupid thing because of what she said. "Have I ever met Peter?"

He could literally not believe what she'd just asked him. Was she touched in the head or something? "You never put it together that our names are similar, just like our powers and our outfits are?" He was not about to go saying outright that there was a big similarity between someone called "Spider-Man" and someone else called "Scarlet Spider" but she'd had to have put it together before now didn't she? Ben opened his mouth, almost so ready to just tell Kitty that her boyfriend was pretty much a father to two angry, broken spiders, his genetics being the original formula for not only him but his predecessor Kaine. Instead of saying anything he just shut his mouth, trying to carefully put together his words.

For Peter's sake, he didn't want to say the wrong thing, as far as he knew they had a decent relationship and Ben didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that. "It's hard to explain," He told her honestly, "You should probably ask Peter yourself. I'm fine for him to tell you the whole thing and how we know each other but it's just a weird situation and it's probably better that you hear it from him." He figured that there was no way that Kitty knew that he was just a clone with the way that she asked about him knowing Peter.

"Why did you ask anyway?" His brows pulled in as he looked into the X-Man's eyes, his stomach suddenly lurching when he realized something. The feeling was horrible, the pit in his stomach twisting uncomfortable but without the tingle of his powers when his spider-sense went off, "Wait are you worried that I'd tell someone? That I'd tell someone what Peter does in the city on his off time?" He really hoped that was not the case, "Is that why you asked?"
 Posted: Feb 28 2018, 12:32 AM

When did Ben sprout a second head?

Okay, so maybe there was still just the one, but it was an easy mistake to make given the way Kitty just gawked at the boy. Their names were similar? “Well… there’s E’s in both?” There were; the uncertainty in her voice was in whether she’d found the right solution. “I mean, two in ‘Peter’, but only one in ‘Ben.’ Of course, there’s one in my name, too, so…” Hmm… The girl furrowed her brow, one finger poking at her lip in the deepest thought.

Until she just couldn’t hold it in anymore.

The ruse crumbled in her cackle. “Oh, come on!” she pleaded. “I’m not THAT dense. But the one time I saw you together, you barely even grunted at each other.” It was a nod, technically, before the pair moved to stand awkwardly off to the side. In light of this latest revelation, maybe they were just trying to protect each other’s identities. Then again, maybe there had been more after that initial introduction, but since that was the night of that disastrous audition… well, safe to say Kitty’s attention had been firmly elsewhere.

“I know the whole thing,” she admitted, putting all cards on the table. Peter’s alter-ego, Ben’s lineage: she knew. “But I had no idea if either of you did. We’ve literally never talked about it.” She threw her hands in defeat. Again, in hindsight, they were clearly protecting each other’s identities, so while Kitty understood the bigger picture, it was the finer details she lacked. She knew the two spiders had swung off together after the meteor, but if they’d met before or after, or when they decided to go ‘masks off’, the girl had no idea.

But when Ben’s innocent question turned definitively worried, now the look of confusion on her face was wholly genuine. Where did that come from? “No,” she answered quickly, softly, before she repeated it more urgently. “No! Not at all!” The thought never even crossed her mind. And when it came down to it, that was Peter’s secret to entrust to whoever he saw fit; she wasn’t there to judge.

“Look, I’ve talked to Peter all about the school. He’s even visited a few times,” she explained. He’d actually dropped by both in and out of costume already. “But never once have I shared specifics about any of the students, because frankly, your stories aren’t mine to tell.”

And that went doubly for Ben himself. “I wasn’t going to betray your confidence like that, no matter how much I thought Peter deserved to know.” That was really the bottom line here. However, there was still his question of ‘why’. “If you hadn’t know him, I was gonna offer to set up a meeting for you. If you wanted one.” Not with ‘Peter’, of course, not immediately, but with Spider-man at least. Now, of course, there was clearly no need. “Looks like we’re already on the same page, though,” she added with a smile.

With a quick nod to his phone, however, she diverted to a simpler topic. “So what game were you playing?”

[Scarlet Spider]
Scarlet Spider
 Posted: Feb 28 2018, 11:04 PM

The way that Kitty was looking at him made Ben intensely uncomfortable.

The sort of uncomfortable that felt like he was going to get kicked out of something shortly, he thought he'd been plain about what he meant but apparently not. In the end, he ended up just staring at Kitty, "That was not what I meant at all." He was not about to just come right out and say it! Thankfully a moment later she was cackling like she thought she was hilarious but all she received from Ben was a deadpan look. "Well really what were we going to do? Talk about secret stuff with a room full of people that don't know who Peter is? Pretty sure he was trying to keep that a secret." Truthfully there were not many secrets in the X-Mansion, seemed like everyone gossiped all the time.

Turned out he was just proving his point, having Kitty tell him that she knew the whole thing caused him to flush darkly, she didn't know anything.

There was no way that she could know everything, hell Ben was pretty sure that even he didn't know everything. Yet having someone so easily imply that she knew everything left a bitter taste in the blonde's mouth. "So you've known all this stuff and never thought to talk to either of us about it? Never thought that maybe you should have brought it up somewhere that we could have actually discussed this privately instead of on the subway where everyone can just listen in?" His jaw clenched, and he had the strange urge to just shake the woman, all this time that he'd suffered trying to keep his issues to himself and some stupid X-Man knew everything?

"Who else knows?"

While Kitty's answer seemed honest, he didn't know what to really think. Right now he couldn't even think of a good analogy because an average person might have thought that he'd trust Kitty as far as he could throw her, but with Ben's powers, he could throw her pretty damn far. Might have been easier if he just threw her, she might phase through the subway car and be out of his hair that way. A moment later and Ben realized that the strange ache in his chest was a bitter disappointment, he was less upset that Kitty apparently knew his entire life story, but the thing that caused him the most heartache was the fact that Kitty had never approached him before now. How long had she known? How long had she known all the things that were wrong with him but never reached out to help? Why the fuck was he so upset about it?

It was a bitter realization, just like when Ruby said that they'd never been friends. He guessed he just expected more out of other people and they only constantly disappointed him, "Why did you care? Looks like everyone already knows my personal business. I didn't tell you, but you still found out." He shrugged as he wondered if it was just terrible to get up and bail on her, maybe if he got up and went to sit at the other end of the subway car she'd get the hint? "It's not important, just something to pass the time on the train."

 Posted: Mar 3 2018, 05:59 PM

With Laura, this was easy. There was enough of an age gap between her and Logan that it just made sense to think of her as his daughter. And biologically speaking, that’s all a father was, right? A genetic donor? But if that was the right terminology, that meant Kitty was dating one of their teen’s parents, which was… weird to think about. And very possibly unethical—probably for reasons like exactly this.

She was blowing it.

All Kitty had wanted to do was help. She’d thought she was helping. But when Ben began bubbling with anger, all the girl felt was helpless. How was she honestly supposed to respond when he was simultaneously mad at her for not doing this sooner AND for doing this literally the first chance she got?

Still, he was given the opportunity to say his piece without interruption. As he did, Kitty simply listened, watching the few other passengers as she tried to find the words to respond. No, the train surely wasn’t the best place for this conversation. However, there weren’t enough people yet that she’d felt the need to be so discreet; they were still a ways from the city proper. And nothing she had said had been incriminating, for any of them. But the brewing fight had started to draw some more specific attention, so when she did speak, she kept it calm, quiet, and now with an even greater need to be vague where it counted.

“Yeah,” she admitted honestly, “I wish we’d done this sooner, too. I’ve been meaning to ever since I found out who he was, but… it’s just been one fire after another lately.” And this conversation, important as it was, had kept taking a backseat. There had certainly been no pleasure in keeping such a massive and personal secret from someone she wanted to be open with, but she’d still put Ben first. Not that that was making this any easier, apparently. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

As for how she knew, and how deep the circle went, she answered as best she could. “Well, I am on Betsy’s team,” Kitty reminded him. ‘Betsy’s team’, not ‘security.’ The group had been formed in direct response to Sinister’s kidnappings, so naturally, they had been briefed in full. And since computers were her expertise, there was little she didn’t have access to anymore.

“Senior staff” -- Gold Team -- “has the same access, but I honestly don’t know who reads what. The rest” -- Blue Team -- “are a lot more restricted.” The one exception was probably Beast; as one of the O5, he’d surely have been grandfathered in, despite his decision to stay on Blue. Speaking of whom… “Of course, Hank’s team keeps their files” -- medical records -- “to themselves. Even I don’t have access to that.” If she were to guess, the first class probably had emergency access to those, and maybe Betsy, but those were the most restricted files the X-Men had. So there was probably still plenty about Ben’s situation she didn’t know, but then, she really wasn’t looking to pry here.

“So short answer? I don’t really know exactly who knows,” she surmised. It probably wasn’t the response Ben was hoping for, given his reaction, but it was at least an honest one. However, there was at least one thing she could say for sure. “I certainly haven’t told anyone. Not even Peter,” she pointed out again.

“And he probably deserved to know more than anyone.”

[Scarlet Spider | Spider-man for mention]
Scarlet Spider
 Posted: Mar 3 2018, 08:23 PM

Later Ben would come to understand that none of this was really Kitty's fault, but right now she just felt like another nail in his coffin, one more person who was just doing too little too late. For months he'd desperately needed some sort of intervention, needed help that he was sadly lacking.

As horrible as it was to think about it, Liv getting mad and nearly killing him was the best thing to ever happen to him.

It sounded so sad, but sometimes he thought that maybe the entire world would be better off if he just swan-dived off a building and didn't remember to cast a web. One Ben shaped crater in the middle of downtown Manhattan might have been the best for the entire world. He was finally at the part of his life where he felt like he could turn it around but he just found himself so utterly bitter towards the adults in his life. For the most part, people like Shadowcat were well-meaning but he was sadly not high on their priority list, other things took their attention. One child having a breakdown was not a big enough distraction to take them away from their jobs or their duties.

It was sad sometimes when Ben realized how desperately he just wanted someone to notice him.

"One fire after another and I have never been a priority for anyone." It was sick to think of like that, but it was honestly what Ben believed. He sat there and watched Kitty with a look that was carefully schooled into a blank mask, even though he was burning up with the urge to just shout right into her face he was eerily calm as he spoke to her. "Don't apologize. You could have made the time, but so could anyone else, and no one ever did because no one ever gave a shit about what I was doing." That fact he could be sure about because somehow not a single teacher ever mentioned the fact that he was pretty much breaking into Liv's room on a regular basis. Not even the other students ever told on him, which okay that said something for how they banded together but- "I needed serious help, and no one gave a fuck, so don't start telling me you are sorry. You might be, but honestly, I don't care, you had lots of time."

The fact that she'd been with Betsy explained how and why she knew all about him. He knew that Beast at least had some awareness of what was going on because he'd warned Ben about some kind of cellular degradation, he still didn't know what that meant when it came to the particulars, but it kind of sounded like a clone had the risk of just falling apart. "Enough people to prove my point." He rolled his shoulders, disappointed more than anything else but he didn't want to play misery poker again. Yet, even so, he did feel a little bit better that it was not public knowledge or anything. His secrets were not completely secret, but at least they were guarded, "Look I don't want to come off like a complete ass, but my point still stands, some people knew where I came from, people who knew my history and no one ever tried to reach out. I know that I might not have accepted it, but it's a shitty feeling to know that no one even tried. I get that you were busy, but even you could have just taken five minutes out between fires to ask me if I was okay but it's not important now."

It was not actually important, Ben thought about leaving quite often. They'd be better off without him, "Kitty?" He spoke her name gently, one of his large hands reaching out to catch her wrist. He was strong enough that he probably could have shattered all of the bones in her wrist before she had a chance to phase away, but he touched her so gently like she was a fragile bird that he was afraid to crush. "Next time you have a student that you want to talk to, don't get distracted every time you see a flame. I know your life is hectic, but there are kids at the school who could really use someone like you just reaching out to see if they are okay. Sometimes they are the fire, and no one stops to put them out." Ben had been there, his entire life had gone up in flames like a burning dumpster fire but he painfully didn't feel like he was significant enough to warrant the attention. At least he was aware enough to remind himself that he might not have accepted the help back when someone would have offered it, but at least if someone had tried, he wouldn't feel like he'd just been the one kid who slipped through the cracks.
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