The X-Men are copyrighted by Marvel Entertainment, all rights reserved. No money exchanged hands here. This is just for fun. Which is kind of the whole point of comics, so it's all good.

by Kirayoshi

I kinda figured I'd find the boy there, in front of the Phoenix memorial. He'd been reading up on recent events since Kitty found him and we all put the beatdown on Ord. Learning about Jean hit him real hard. Can't say I blame him. Hit us all hard. She was like the den-mother to us. Wendy in our little tribe of Lost Boys. Learning about how Magneto killed her without even a passing thought must have been like having the floor yanked out from under you.

He was staring at the inscription on the base of the firebird statue. She Will Rise Again. Given our current batting average, that's not unlikely. But part of me ain't looking forward to seeing it happen.

Emotions have a smell. Not a lot of people know that. The human body puts out different smells in different moods. I've learned to recognize them over the years. Pete's smell when I saw him at the memorial had 'remorse' all over it. I decided it was time to talk with the boy.

Kurt likes to kid me, saying that I would have made a fine priest. Sorry, Kurt but I'm too much of a Sunday football fan.

"Hey, Pete," I started. He turned slowly toward me, his eyes downcast. "You okay?"

Pete just stood there, his head hanging low. "Fifteen million," he breathed. "Fifteen million died in Genosha."

I nodded. "Yeah, we know."

"Emma and Scott informed me," Pete continued, walking slowly away from the statue. I followed him into the courtyard, hoping I wouldn't have to knock some sense into the boy. The boy's like a brother to me, but he can get pretty damn Russian with his tendency towards melencholy.

"They told me about Magneto's attack on New York," he went on, his hands hanging heavily at his sides as he walked. "About how Reverend Stryker had abducted Katya, the Professor relocated to Genosha and Ororo formed the XSE. Much has changed, but in the end, very little has truly changed. What world have I returned to, Logan?"

I just shook my head. "Same world you left, bub. It's the only one we got."

He sighed briefly, his shoulders sagging. He lost years of his life imprisoned by Ord, and got tossed back into the world and being forced to play catch-up from there. I didn't want to hit him with another bit of bad news, but it had to be done. He had to know. And I had to know something as well.

I'm the best there is at what I do. But that doesn't always include talking about feelings.

"Petey," I started slowly. "I don't know if they told you about this, but there's something you need to know. About Kitty."

He stopped suddenly and turned to me. That got his attention.

"Those fifteen million who died in Genosha," I said simply. "One of them was her dad."

Peter gasped, and I could tell that he was hurting inside for her. Given what happened to his parents, I figured he'd empathize with Kitty losing her dad. "By the White Wolf..." he whispered. "She didn't want to bring up the recent past when we were talking before. Now I see why..."

Now, while he was reeling from this latest revelation, I had to hit him hard. Hey, I'm not a nice guy.

"Pete, I figured you'd better hear that sooner than later. And I didn't tell you for your benefit. I need you to know that Kitty's still hurting from her dad's death. She's in a vunerable spot right now. So if you do anything to hurt her, friend or no, we're gonna find out what adamantium claws can do to organic steel. Comprende?"

Peter regarded me calmly, like I wasn't telling him anything he didn't know. "I understand, tovarisch. You are probably the closest thing Katya has to a father right now. And like any concerned father, you wish to know my intentions toward her. Let me assure you that I will inform you of those soon as I figure out what they are."

I had to supress a chuckle. "You're still in love with her, aren't you?"

"Am I?" he asked. "Heh. The last time I re-entered her life with the expectation of resuming our relationship, I ended up nearly killing a man named Pete Wisdom in a moment of insanity. So you'll understand that where Katya is concerned I take nothing for granted."

"It hurt her like hell when she threw those ashes over Siberia."

Peter looked away from me. "And I will forever regret causing her that pain. You asked if I still loved her, and the answer is yes. With all my heart. But there's more to it than that. I owe her. Years ago, she was willing to marry Caliban to save me. And now she saved me from Ord. She was the one who found me, who brought me out of my rage, who assured me that I was still alive, and finally free from Ord's experiments. I owe her my life. What was that Japanese word you used to describe such a debt?"

I felt my lips turn up in a genuine smile. Yeah, I knew exactly what he was talking about. "Giri," I nodded. "A blood debt. Believe me, I know what that's all about. You're lookin' at the guy who married Viper because of giri. It's something that you can't explain to the layman. You have to experience it."

"All I know," he said slowly, "is that I owe her everything. And would gladly give her everything if she would accept it from me." I accepted his words. They seemed to say it all.

"Just take it slow, Petey," I answered. "She's not a kid anymore, but you're both still young. You have time."

"I'm not going anywhere," he reminded me, smiling sardonically.

We just stood there in the courtyard, letting the autumn sun filter through the reddening leaves. The silence seemed appropriate somehow. A chapter had closed on Peter's life, but a new one was starting.

"I dunno about you, Ruskie," I commented, breaking the silence, "but I could use a belt. You up for some heavy drinking?"

"Can you get drunk on saspirilla?" he asked, smiling.

"I dunno," I answered as we headed for the garage. "Let's go find out."