Dreams of Fire


Jeremy Harper

Note – The Astonishing X-Men are the property of Marvel Comics and are used without permission.

"You are like your namesake, Katya," laughed Nikolai the Deathless. "Sleek and beautiful and far too impetuous for your own good."

Kitty Pryde smiled. "That's something of a failing in me," she admitted with good-humored placidity. Her smile faded, and her expression became thoughtful, serious - almost melancholy. She picked up a goblet of wine, rolled its stem between her thumb and fingers. "Impetuous. Yup, that's me all right." She took a deep breath, sipped her wine, set it down. She pushed back her chair and stood up, her cheeks slightly flushed, her large, golden-brown eyes alight with an emotion Nikolai could not identify. He frowned, perplexed, and looked at her curiously.

"Are you all right?"

Kitty did not answer. She started to walk around the table towards him, moving with languid grace, the fingers of her left hand trailing along the smooth silk of the red tablecloth. Nikolai pushed back his chair and shifted to face her. She stared down at him, her eyes very bright now. They almost seemed to glow. Under their hot, focused gaze Nikolai felt himself grow warm. Kitty raised her right hand and caressed his face. Silky fingertips traced the shimmering jet lines of thorn-vine tattoos. Nikolai shivered, an electric charge racing the course-ways of his nerves. "Like I said before," Kitty murmured in a breathy whisper, "they're not ugly, your tattoos. Truthfully, I think they look good on you. They make you look..." she pursed her lips thoughtfully, "exotic, Peter."

Nikolai shook his head. Every time she said that name, he felt something spark inside him, like flint striking stone. It made his concentration waver for a brief split-second. He forced the distraction away and focused on Kitty's rapt face. He now recognized the look in her eyes – yearning. He had seen her look at him that way before, during his brief imprisonment in the Institute, when she came to visit him. But that longing, though poignant, lacked the smoldering fire he saw in her eyes now. Kitty leaned down, bringing her face close to his. Her thumb brushed across his lips. Nikolai shivered again, his throat constricting, his breath growing harsh. "What are you doing to me?" he demanded in a hoarse whisper.

"Something I've always wanted to do to you," she whispered back. She brought her mouth close to his ear. "May I ask a question?"


"What Vultariax said, is it true? Do you desire me, Peter?" Her tongue darted out, licking at the rim of his ear. Her strong, slender arms slipped around his shoulders. "Do you lust for me?"

Nikolai's hands clenched tight. He flushed a deep, rich red that spread from his face down beneath his poet's blouse, across his broad chest, as her wanton question ignited his blood. The lust of dragons surged within him. "That is a dangerous thing to ask me, Katya," he managed to rasp out. "You are playing with dragon's fire."

Kitty looked deep into his white-gold eyes, her face a scant inch from his. "I'm use to that." She crossed the inch, kissed him, pressing her soft lips against his. Nikolai froze for a moment, a part of him refusing to believe this was happening. Then disbelief vanished, charred to nothingness by a glorious fire. He groaned into Kitty's kiss and embraced her, his right arm circled Kitty's shoulders, while his left went around her waist. He pulled her up into his lap, his arms tightening around her slim body, his kiss growing fiercer. Kitty groaned in turn, her hands running through his jet-black hair, playing with his ponytail. She licked at his lips; Nikolai opened his mouth, gladly accepting her tongue. His hands began to roam up and down her back. Suddenly he stood, picking Kitty up with him. Supporting her with his left arm, he lashed out with his right, clearing the table with two great sweeps, sending their forgotten dinner crashing to the floor. Platters clanged, china and crystal shattered, water and wine puddled on the rug. Nikolai laid Kitty across the bare table, still kissing her passionately. She tried to wrap her legs around his waist, not quite succeeding because of the ornate blue samite dress encumbering her.

There was a whisper of motion in the chamber. Kitty and Nikolai somehow managed to stop kissing and looked towards the sound. Kitty's three rusalki maidservants stood in front of the door to the bedroom, looks of shock on their faces. Giggles bubbled out of Kitty, the improbable sight of scandalized ghosts striking her as very funny. Nikolai was less amused. "Do you lack wits?" he demanded. "Leave, now, and do not return until we call for you." The rusalki made hasty curtsies and vanished. Satisfied, Nikolai started to kiss Kitty again, but she turned her face away from them.

"Peter, wait," she asked. Nikolai could not hear her over the roar of his blood. He rained kisses on her cheek, licked at her ear, suckled at her neck, just above her silver collar. "Peter, please!" Nikolai heeded her that time, sensing her urgency more than hearing her words. He looked closely at her, his eyes wide. They were both gasping. Kitty caught her breath, swallowed, and looked up at Nikolai, her eyes very large, unfocused and dreamy. "Please, not here. The bedroom..." It took a moment for him to comprehend her request. He nodded once, licked his lips and gave her a brief, gentle kiss. He stood, feeling a little unsteady. He took Kitty's hands, helped her up off the table, pulling her to him for another kiss before sweeping her up in his arms and carrying her away.

Candles illuminated Kitty's bedchamber, casting everything in diffuse light and gentle shadows. The large bed's canopy curtains were pulled back and the spread and blankets turned down. Nikolai carried Kitty to the side of the bed and set her down. She reached up, taking his face between her hands. Nikolai sighed at the contact and again gathered her against his body, bowing his head to kiss her. Their loveplay was gentler now, not quite as fierce but still passionate. Kissing, they sat down together on the bed, their hands roaming eagerly over each other, Nikolai stroking Kitty's chestnut brown hair, skimming over her back, playing along her sides. Kitty quivered and moaned in response to his attentions, her own hands fumbling at the laces tying shut his poet's blouse. She freed the last one, parted the shirt and slipped her hands under it, exploring the hard planes of his chest and stomach. Nikolai broke away from Kitty's kiss, letting his head loll back, a tigerish purr rumbling in his throat, his eyes narrowed into glittering golden slits. He had never been touched so intimately before, or with such affection and tenderness. He shrugged out of the poet's blouse and cast it aside.

Kitty paused for a moment, wetting her lips as she drank in the sight of a bare-chest Nikolai. She had almost forgotten how good Peter looked, his body and arms heroically proportioned, anatomically perfect, like a Greek god's, with the black arabesque of his tattoos emphasizing the cut of his well-defined form. She felt hot, burning with a wondrous heat she hoped would last forever. She sidled over to him, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him greedily, bruising her lips against his. She licked at the line of his jaw, down his throat, kissed her way back up to his lips. Nikolai growled in approval and thoroughly returned her affection, placing kisses on her cheeks and forehead, returning to her gasping mouth, sliding his tongue over hers. Kitty hugged him harder, molding her body against his.

Finally, reluctantly, they broke away to catch their breath. That sat still for a moment, gazing into each other's eyes. Kitty was smiling, while Nikolai seemed awestruck. He reached up with his hand and gingerly stroked her cheek, as if afraid she would vanish if he were not careful. She covered his hand with her own and pressed it against her face. Nikolai smiled. He pulled away his hand, caught up Kitty's and kissed it. He let it go, stroked her face again, letting his hand slide over the side of her neck, her shoulder, down her arm, to her wrist, where he unknotted the sash end tied around it. Freed of the sash, he lifted her wrist to his mouth and licked it. Kitty trembled. He repeated the process with her other wrist, then leaned forward to kiss her gently as he began to work at the laces of her samite gown and silk blouse.

Kitty sighed blissfully. She had missed his kisses, the fire and steel he imparted them with, gentle yet strong. He was much changed, his body re-forged by magic, his memory clouded and confused, but his kisses still possessed the power to thrill her like no other. She felt the last lace of her blouse give way. She leaned away and pulled her gown, blouse and slip down over her shoulders, baring herself from the waist up. She heard Nikolai inhale sharply, watched his white-gold eyes, all ready hot with desire, glow even brighter. The prominent flush on Kitty's face and chest deepened as her arousal plateaued to a new height; it felt so good to be desired with such ardor. Nikolai clasped her hips and pulled her back to him, kissing her hard, dipping down to nuzzle at her neck, then at her breasts, licking at them, making Kitty gasp. She reached around to untie his ponytail, letting his mane of black hair fall loose, running her fingers through its fine locks. Suddenly she pulled out of Nikolai's embrace, stood up, shimmied the rest of the way out of her clothes and kicked away her slippers, posing before him Eve-naked.

Nikolai took in a shuddering breath. Gods and devils, he had never seen a more magnificent sight. She was beautiful beyond compare, her form lithe, curvy and toned, with long, shapely legs and strong, slender arms. Chestnut brown hair haloed a flushed, angelic face and lovely neck. Her breasts were small and pert, their nipples pink and very erect. Her stomach was flat, her pale skin rose-tinted, flawless. Her body felt like fine silk wrapped around a strong but pliant steel core. He caught her in another embrace, pulling her to him so he could kiss her again, long and deep, before diving down to ravish her neck, growling in annoyance at the silver collar interfering with his attentions. He took hold of it and spoke a Word of Opening. It snapped apart. He threw it away and nuzzled at Kitty's now bared throat.

Kitty sighed, letting her head roll back, her eyes closing as she concentrated on the wonderful sensations whelming her senses. She felt Nikolai's hand, strong and rough-textured, slide down the curve of her back, stopping on her backside and giving her a squeeze. She let out a soft, kittenish sound - half-moan, half-gasp. She pulled his face up, kissed him, then unbuckled his belt and threw it after her collar, the buckle and poniard clattering. Nikolai stood up, kicking off his shoes and letting Kitty skin him out of his trousers. Kitty took a steadying breath, stepped back and took in her first sight of a naked Peter, full and very much aroused. She swallowed to loosen her tightening throat, feeling that familiar, excited churning in her stomach. There was some nervousness there, as well, but surprisingly not much, considering the circumstances. She caught him in a rib-creaking hug, resting her head against his chest, listening to his quick, powerful heartbeat. "It has been so long," she whispered. "And I never got a chance to be with you."

Nikolai hesitated, not knowing how to respond to that. He stroked a hand through her hair, caressed her back. "I... I have never been with anyone before..." he murmured reluctantly.

Kitty looked up at him thoughtfully. He's in a new body, and he doesn't have any of his past memories, so I guess that would make him... Kitty smiled brilliantly, nine parts of it angelic, one part devilish. "I've always wanted to de-flower a virgin," she said playfully. Nikolai's eyes went wide and his blush, which had faded a little, immediately darkened to a deep, deep red. Kitty laughed, joyous, affectionate and gleeful. She stood on her tiptoes, bussing him on the lips, then held his hands and pulled him into bed with her.

They settled under the blankets, playing with each other for a little while longer before making love, Nikolai on top, Kitty guiding him a little. They kissed deeply, holding tight to each other, shivering together from the intense, shared sensations cascading over them. They started a fast rhythm, both of them very eager. Kitty lost control of her voice almost immediately, her low moans quickly transforming into wails of pleasure. Nikolai vented tiger-like growls and purrs, reveling in the feel of Kitty's strong, slender body writhing in ecstasy beneath him. He lavished her lips, her face, her throat with fierce, fiery kisses. Kitty ran her right hand through his hair, bunching it tight in the black mane, and her left arm wrapped around his shoulders. After what seemed to be both a mere second and a glorious eternity, Kitty arched and screamed happily, golden light enveloping her senses, running through her blood as climax flooded through her with tsunami force. Nikolai groaned, burying his face against her neck as he became lost in his own joy.

They lay against each other, spent and pliant, panting in deep breaths, holding each other tenderly. Sighing, Kitty kissed Nikolai's throat and cheeks. He stirred, letting out a soft breath, lifted his head and looked at Kitty with wide, soulful eyes, and an excited thrill stirred in her when she saw they were ocean-blue.

"Kat-ya..." he breathed, stroking her face, his voice oddly clumsy, as if he had not used it in a long time. His eyes glittered, a light of realization filling them. Kitty gasped and started to tremble, not sure whether to believe what she was seeing. The tattoos on his face were shimmering, fading away. They vanished all together, leaving his face pale and pure in the candlelight.

"Katya," he whispered again, touching her face with a trembling hand. He glanced around the bedchamber, then at her. "I... remember..."

"Peter...?" she asked, not daring to believe. He blinked, nodded and smiled. "Oh Peter!" she cried out, hugging him hard, pulling him down to her, kissing him deeply...

Kitty woke up, slowly, reluctantly, not wanting to leave the beauty of her dream for the cruel reality of the waking world. A dream, only a dream – but it had felt so real... She wanted to cry. She sat up in bed, covering her face with her hands momentarily, as she took a shuddering, steadying breath and steeled herself. She dropped her hands as a quiver ran through her, the after-effects of the dream still close at hand. Her nipples were hard and the skirt of her nightgown was damp and her body felt too sensitive to touch. She sat still for a while, waiting for her nerves to come down from their sensual euphoria. Finally she sighed, threw back her blankets, open the curtains of her canopy bed and swung her legs out. "Hello?" she called. A rusalki materialized before her. "Could I have a drink of water, please?" The rusalki curtsied, disappeared, and returned with a wooden cup. Kitty murmured thanks and took it.

At least I didn't have those nightmares again, she thought as she sipped at her water. Her lips curved up in a wistful smile. Guess Peter is having an effect on me, too. She rubbed at her eyes. She could not recall ever having such a vivid dream before. She lifted the cup to her lips again and paused as an errant thought took hold of her. Peter was very close to remembering who he was. She had no doubt about that. In his current state, maybe seducing him could finish what she had started, bring him fully out of Koschei's enchantment... The idea appealed to Kitty on several levels. She looked at her maidservant, was about to ask her to send for Peter, but stopped, remembering Emma Frost's contemptuous accusation about thinking with her hormones, not her head. Scowling a little, she finished her water, set the empty cup on her nightstand and ran her hands through her hair. No, it was a bad idea - a tempting one, beautiful and desirable, but bad all the same. Besides, I doubt it'd be as easy as all that. Kitty smiled sadly. It's pretty to think so, though. She rubbed her arms and stood up. "Could you draw a bath for me, please?" she asked the rusalki. The ghost curtsied, and Kitty followed her to the bathroom.

With a violent start Nikolai jerked out of his trance, jumped to his feet, stared unseeing for a moment, his breath rasping in and out. He blinked, shook his head. Whatin hell was that? He could not fully recall the vision that he just experienced. He could remember snatches of it – fiery, intoxicating kisses, skin like silk caressing him, Kitty writhing beneath his touch, her face stained pink, her eyes half-closed, smoldering with desire. There had been a revelation as well, but it was gone now, irrevocably lost when those damn steel gates slammed shut in his mind. Nikolai groaned in frustration, shook his head. He could feel the blood run hot through his veins. He was still very much aroused, nowhere near sated. He glanced at the door leading out to the hall. Kitty's chambers were not very far from his. Perhaps... He took a step towards them, but checked himself Vultariax's mocking, metallic voice echoed in his mind. He grimaced and spat. No. Flirting is one thing, but this... entirely different. She flirts with me, but that is not the same as truly wanting me. It would be... improper... pressing such attentions on her. He took in a deep breath and resigned himself regretfully to a cold, unsatisfied night. "Baldek," he called out. His ghostly manservant manifested behind him. Nikolai began to unlace his poet's blouse. He suddenly shuddered, remembering delicate, skilled hands undoing those laces, stroking the hard skin and muscle beneath. It had felt so real... "Prepare a bath for me, a cold one. As cold as you can make it."

I have no excuse. I'm a pervert and I felt like writing some smut. However, I'm not so much of a pervert that I'm willing to sacrifice the 'believability' of my story (if such a term can be used for a story based on a fantasy comic book). Despite their flirting, teasing and feelings, it makes no sense for Kitty and Nikolai-Peter to get together that way right now, thus why I resorted to the use of a mutual dream. I seem to be fond of those, using that device in Pushing It and my Ranma ½ lemon, Lemon Pie. Anyhow, hope you all enjoyed this, and don't think too badly of me for writing and posting it.

On to reader mail:

AmoKitty: Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad I didn't disappoint. If you liked Kitty and Peter flirting in Conversations, I wonder what you'll think of this? It's very flattering, having my poor descriptions compared to Cassaday artwork. He's damn good, isn't he? I sorta wish I got into Planetary now, despite my dislike for the deconstructive games Warren Ellis likes to play with super heroes.

I'm glad you like the way Koschei has been portrayed. Sometimes he can be a rather pathetic figure, in Russian folklore, but obviously I've decided to go with his more malevolent depictions, where he is a frightening, almost invincible evil. I agree with you about Ord – he can be somewhat menacing, but some of his lines does undermine his villainy. One of Whedon's quirks, I guess.

I'm letting my chapters find their own length. I'm not usually afraid of long stretches. I think the next chapter of Deathless is going to be at least as long as Conversations, maybe even as long as War in San Francisco, the longest chapter so far.

Things will really heat up next time. I'm starting to hit the home stretch, so get ready. Thanks again for your comments and interest.

B: Glad you liked Chapter 9. Hope you liked this, despite it being somewhat (talk about understatement!) explicit. More Deathless will be coming hopefully before the end of the month, and I also plan on another collaboration with my partner-in-crime. Speaking of whom. ;)

Lia Fail: Thanks for your praise, Lia. I always look forward to your comments. I got to admit, I felt hungry too, writing that chapter. I would definitely like to try the mushroom casserole – I love mushrooms. You're so right about Illyana. Even though I don't think I have that good a grasp on her as an 'adult', I wish I could find a way to work her into this story. Perhaps it's a good thing I can't – I'm having enough trouble dealing with one resurrected Rasputin as it is! It's still fun, though.

I finally got back to the Astonishing team. Sorry it took so long, but having them off-stage was necessary to advance things between Kitty and Nikolai. As I've told you before, I've grown very fond of Hank, over the past few months. I just wish I could see him hang out with Simon Williams again in the comics – at least Wonder Man got spared from the hackery happening in Avengers Disassembled.

Koschei has something nasty planned. Wait and see. You're right about me having the confrontation between Koschei and Nikolai happen as a flashback. I really wanted to add it to the story, but I couldn't figure a way out for it to work without hurting the flow. Having Koschei simply remembering it worked out much better.

Write to me soon, Lia. Take care.

Enigmagirl2727: Thank you. I'm glad you've liked how things are going. Baring any unforeseen plot twists, Deathless should be wrapping up in another four chapters. But don't worry – I have some ideas for more stuff. You'll have to wait and see.

Thanks for the favorable comparison to what's happening over in Astonishing. I like what's happening there, though part of me, the egotistical part, wishes that what I'm writing now could be the 'official' way Peter came back, even though 'Gifted' has better ties with past X-Men history. I wonder how the fan boys would have reacted to learning Peter being as sorcerously apt as Illyana, even though his magic is quite a different animal compared to Snowflake's. Oh well. Hope to hear from you soon.

Kitty Rasputin: How's this for a quick update? True, it's only a side-story, but less than a week's turnaround ain't too bad, is it? Hopefully, I'll show you what Koschei has planned for Kitty soon, maybe sometime around Thanksgiving, though I'm loath to make a firm deadline. I hope you liked this little interlude. I tried to make it tasteful, and I hope you think I succeeded.

I wouldn't mind you trying to get me. It gets lonely in the boondocks of Massachusetts. Some company would be nice. ;)

Kirayoshi: Oh yes, some explosions are coming. I'm looking forward to setting them off.

As for your question, Nikolai is, in fact, Koschei's sole 'childe'. Some of Danila's origin will be revealed next chapter. Danila calls Nikolai 'Elder Brother' as a term of respect and affection. It's a Russian thing – or, more precisely, a Russian folklore thing.

That's all for now. Next up: Deathless Chapter 10, Treachery.

Thanks all for your time and tolerance,

Jeremy Harper