The Best Revenge
Disclaimer – X-Men: Evolution is the property of Marvel Comics and is used without permission.
For Lia Fail.
"Okay, I think we're about done," declared Kitty Pryde as she strolled the main drag of the Deerfield Mall, boutique bags dangling from both hands. She looked slim, fit and very fetching, dressed in a pink sleeveless spaghetti-strap tube shirt, a long, flowing blue skirt and crystal-white thong sandals. She was smiling, practically glowing with happiness and self-contentment. Her smile grew more brilliant as she glanced over her shoulder at her boyfriend trailing a few steps behind. "How are you holding up?"
Piotr Rasputin let out a soft grunt as he adjusted the multiple bags stuffed to capacity he was carrying. At least he would not have to worry about missing out on weight training today – this shopping expedition was probably the equivalent of a whole week of exercise. "I am fine, though I am getting somewhat hungry."
"You're always hungry," Kitty pointed out.
"That is because you are always running me ragged. I eat so much so to keep up my strength."
Kitty grinned at him. "Oh, you know you love it."
Piotr grinned back. "That is true. But I have been wondering…" he trailed off as he paused to shore up his hold on his bags.
"I know, Katya, that for you shopping is one of the seven lively arts. We are also on vacation, and thus should be indulging ourselves. Yet I have to wonder if we really need all this. It seems a bit much."
Kitty stared at Piotr in wide-eyed mock horror. "Need it? Of course we do! That's our fall wardrobe, Peter."
"It is still July," he pointed out.
"Hey, it's never too early to get ready to look good for the next season."
"Ah, I knew there was a reason. And, of course, nothing says autumn like swimsuits, shorts and tube tops." Piotr nodded at the bags Kitty carried.
Kitty stuck her tongue out at him. "Hmmph. Well, I was going to model those swimsuits for you, and maybe some of these as well," she gave the Victoria's Secret bag in her left hand a little shake, "but if you're gonna be carrying an attitude like that around, then you can just forget it, Mister."
Piotr looked stricken and shook his head sorrowfully. "I regret my loss." He then flashed her a grin. "But perhaps it is for the best. From the look she gave me today, before we left, I thought your mother was going to whack me with her broom."
"You only have yourself to blame, Peter. You're the one who got caught sneaking out of my room this morning. No one's seen me coming and going from the guest room."
"Unlike you, Katya, I have to take an indirect route in order to visit you." Piotr smirked. "Unless you want me to punch a hole through the wall. That I can do with ease."
"Well, Mom has been thinking about doing some renovation…" Kitty said with a giggle.
Peter smiled back, then frowned when a bag nearly spilled out of his arms. "Tcha! I can't believe how many things you got for me, Katya. I don't mind, you getting me clothes, but I am capable of picking out my own wardrobe."
Kitty rolled her eyes. "I know. I also know what you'd end up buying all the time if I didn't help you out. There's more to clothes than t-shirts, sweats, work jeans and work boots, Peter."
Peter set his bags down, knelt and started to rearrange them. "It is what I am comfortable with, Katya," he said. "And I thought you said I look good in them."
"You do, but I also think you'll look even better in these." Kitty giggled. "Besides, I like getting you clothes – especially when you're with me to try them on. It's like having a life-sized Ken doll to play with."
"So that is what I am to you, eh?"
"Yup. That, and a whole lot more." Kitty's expression suddenly became serious. Taking advantage of Peter's position, she stepped to him, leaned forward and gave him a deep kiss. "I love you, you know. I love you so much that it's almost scary."
Peter smiled seriously. "I know. I love you very much, too. You are the sun of my life, Katya." He kissed her back, and then stood with his bags, his smile becoming less solemn, his ocean-blue eyes shining with boundless affection and good-humor. "Shall we be off?"
Kitty laughed and smiled in answer. "Yeah. I'm a bit hungry myself. Let's stow our stuff and get something to eat. There's a great restaurant in the parking lot – Mike's Bar and Grille. It has the best deep-dish pizza this side of Chicago, and everything else on the menu is to die for."
"Sounds very good to me."
They continued on down the drag, walking side-by-side, chatting and laughing, when suddenly Kitty pulled to a stop. "Ooooh…" Piotr looked at the shops she was staring at. One was a very large bookstore, the other a brightly lit software shop. Kitty looked up at her boyfriend, giving him her best puppy-dog eyes. "Peter, do you mind if-"
Piotr chuckled. "No, I do not mind at all. Tell you what – give me your bags and the keys to the car. I will put these away and come back. I would not mind browsing through some books myself."
Kitty smiled brightly. "Thanks Petey. I think there's an art store down this end of the mall as well."
"Okay. Maybe I'll poke in there on the way back. In any case I will not be long."
Kitty handed him keys and her bags, then gave him a peck on the lips. "Can you handle all those bags alone?"
"With no problem. Just do me a favor and see if the bookstore has any Lord Dunsany. I've been meaning to read more of his work."
"Sure. You're looking for The Queen of Elfland's Daughter, right?"
Peter nodded. "Yes, and The Book of Wonder. I shall be back directly." Kitty smiled as she watched him head off, feeling completely and wonderfully love-struck. Their vacation, spent visiting her parents and hometown, was going very well. Peter was getting along with her mother and father splendidly, and Kitty was having a lot of fun showing him around Chicago and Deerfield. She could not recall ever enjoying herself as much as she had these past two weeks. Still smiling, she entered the software store. She looked around in there for a little bit, trying to decide what version of the new Star Wars first person shooter to get. She finally settled on the X-Box edition, so she could share it with the other gamers back at the Institute. Maybe I can convince Kurt, 'Berto and Sam to start playing against me again. The wimps won't even touch Halo anymore, and I didn't even school them that bad. Once done, she went to the bookstore and made a beeline straight for the science fiction and fantasy section, which to her delight she found to be extremely well stocked. Not only did she find both Dunsany collections for Peter, she also ran across a copy of Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness, a novel she had always meant to read. She was trying to make up her mind between getting Gene Wolfe's latest fantasy and a copy of The Demolished Man when a familiar voice suddenly spoke.
"Well, look who it is, the freaky geeky Kitty-Kat. Haven't seen you in Deerfield in, like, forever, Pryde."
Kitty's eyes went wide and she whirled around. Standing behind her was a tall, brown-haired girl about her age, dressed in a black and white halter-top, white designer shorts, and open toed platform heels. It took Kitty a moment to recognize her, but when she did she scowled, feeling her contentment and sense of well being vanished. She had really hoped she would never have to lay eyes on Reilly ever again.
Amy was heading to the bookstore to meet up with her best friend Reilly when she suddenly halted, struck frozen and dumb, watching enraptured as the most handsome man she had ever seen in the flesh strolled out of the art store. He was at least six and a half feet tall, with sleek, short cut jet-black hair, a fair complexion, and beautiful deep blue eyes. The black t-shirt he wore looked like it was painted on to his body, showing off the excellent cut of his torso, its definition and the thickness of his muscular arms reminding her of a statue of a Classical Greek athlete. Blue jeans and white sneakers completed his outfit. He flipped idly through a copy of In View magazine for a moment before putting the periodical away in the small plastic bag he carried and headed off towards the center court. Amy simply could not let this man walk away without making an attempt to get to know him better. Quickly formulating a plan of attack, she let her shopping bag dangle from her fingertips and briskly walked after him. She quickly outpaced his leisurely gait, and just as she was a few feet ahead of him, feigned tripping. She let out a little cry and dropped her bag in front of him, its contents spilling out – corny and clichéd, perhaps, but nonetheless quite effective. The hunk immediately stopped, kneeled down and started to gather up her things.
"Oh, thank you very much!" Amy said enthusiastically, favoring the man with a high-wattage smile. He smiled back at her, somewhat more reserved, and nodded.
"You are welcome. Here are your things, Miss." Amy nearly swooned when she heard him speak. His voice was like a tiger's purr – a deep baritone spiced with a European accent she could not quite identify. She had to clamp her thighs together to keep herself from squirming.
"Thank you again so much," she exclaimed as she accepted her bag back. "I can be so clumsy sometimes – it's embarrassing, klutzing out like that. I really, really appreciate you helping me out. My name is Amy Fletcher, what's yours?"
Piotr blinked, a bit put off by Amy's rapid speech and quick introduction. "Peter. Peter Rasputin," he answered, using the Anglicization of his first name.
"Oh, you're Russian! I was sorta wondering where you were from. I mean, your accent and all. But you speak English very well. Is this your first time visiting America?"
And I thought Katya had a knack for chatter. "Ah, no. I have lived in the States for the past four years now, though this is the first time I've been to the Chicago area. I am on vacation."
"That's nice! I hope you've been having a good time. What do you think of Chicago so far, Peter?"
"It is all right, as far as it goes. I am a bit of a… farm boy… at heart. I prefer the country and its open spaces to any city." He glanced down the main drag. "I do not mean to be rude, Miss Fletcher, but I must be going now."
"Oh, do you have to?" Amy asked in her best cajoling voice. "I really want to thank you properly for helping me–"
"I only picked up a dropped bag!" Piotr protested with a laugh.
"Doesn't matter. It's the thought that count. You wouldn't believe how many guys would just walk by, or worse, step on my stuff. Come on; let me treat you to a drink, maybe a bite to eat. There are some great restaurants in the mall, and I can tell you about some good places around town you'd like to visit. And if you're real nice, I may be willing to play tour guide for you."
Piotr's brows lifted a trifle. Now he understood. No doubt Kitty or Remy would find it amusing, him being so slow on the uptake about this, but in truth, he was usually unaware of just how attractive he was. As Kitty once put it, spending his formative teenage years working for a megalomaniac bent on world domination had done little to hone his knowledge of interpersonal relationships. "I am sorry, but I must decline. My girlfriend is waiting for me at the bookstore." He smiled to soften his rejection. "Thank you for the offer, though."
Figures, thought Amy. Of course someone this hot was going to have a girlfriend. Not that that fact deterred her intent any. She was not without experience when it came to attached guys. She smiled thoughtfully. "Oh, couldn't she spare you just for a little bit? Surely she wouldn't mind. No? Well, perhaps I could just give you my cell number, for when she can?"
Peter's countenance stiffened, and his own smile became a trifle forced. "I do not think that would be a good idea."
"Oh come on! You're a big boy – is she really that possessive?" She reached out, brushed a fingertip lightly against his chest. "Not that I blame her. But think about it – vacations are meant for changing your pace. I bet we'd have a good time, and besides, what she doesn't know can't hurt her."
All good humor fled Piotr's face. "That is a theory I do not care to put to the test," he answered with soft force. "Good day, Miss Fletcher." He walked around her and left. Amy watched him go, pouting. She was not use to rejection, but she sighed and put it behind her. You can't win them all. Shame she could not win this one, though, admiring Peter's backside as he strode off. He either must have it real bad, or his lady is a real babe. She watched him enter the bookshop and shrugged. Oh well, time to hustleReilly was waiting, and maybe she could find out if the big guy's girlfriend was anything special. She would have to be, considering that he did not even think her offer over. Most guys did that, at least.
In the bookstore, Piotr was trying to decide between feeling nettled and amusedwhen he spotted Kitty in the science fiction section, talking with a brown-haired woman her own age. Piotr pulled up short – Katya seemed less than enthused, and he did not like the look of amused contempt evident in the other woman's face. Frowning, he walked towards them.
"It's been a while Pryde," said Reilly. "You're not looking too bad, except for the clothes. Or maybe just no one told me the hippy look was making a comeback."
"At least I don't look like some reject from 'Girls Gone Wild'," Kitty snapped back.
"Hey, when you got it, flaunt it. Course, you wouldn't know that, since you never had it to begin with."
"And I fervently hope I never will, if having it means my ass will start to spread the way yours has."
Reilly's eyes went wide, then narrowed angrily. "Rowr… Pretty-Kitty's grown some claws. You use to blush and run for the girl's room every time someone looked at you cross-eyed."
Kitty suddenly felt very tired, the beginnings of a headache starting up just behind her forehead. This is ridiculous. "You know, it's been four years, Reilly. Aren't you, like, a bit too old for this high school clique nonsense, or are you so lacking a life that you just have to live in the past?"
"My life is just fine. I'm going to Florida University, Pryde. Sun and fun year-round, and I am, as always, the center of attention."
"Good for you."
"Aww, what's the matter? You jealous?"
"Don't you wish," Kitty said disdainfully. "Not that you need to know, but I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm going to a great school, on a fast track to getting my degrees in computer science, have lots of wonderful friends and the greatest boyfriend in the world." Not to mention I helped save the world a couple times. "What reason would I have to be jealous of a spoiled little bimbo like you?"
"You have a boyfriend?" Reilly laughed. "Oh, that's too rich. What is he, a pencil-necked computer geek with a face like road rash and coke-bottle glasses? That's the only kind of guy you could ever get."
Kitty was about to retort when she spotted someone out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head and saw Piotr walking down the aisle towards her. "Petey!" she exclaimed, skipping over to him, throwing her arms around his neck and standing on her toes so to buss him on the lips.
"Such enthusiasm," Piotr commented, startled by Kitty's display of affection, but feeling his irritation quickly dissipate.
"What can I say? I missed you."
"I was only gone ten minutes."
"That's ten minutes too long."
Piotr rolled his eyes. "Spare me," he said with a laugh.
Kitty grinned up at him, her smile mischievous. "Peter, I want you to meet an acquaintance of mine." She turned to Reilly, who was staring at Piotr with wide-eyed incredulousness. "This is Reilly Dupree. Reilly, this is my boyfriend, Peter Rasputin."
Piotr's eyes narrowed slightly. This girl's name sounded familiar. Kitty had mentioned her before, something concerning being shut in a locker… "How do you do?" he asked with cool politeness.
"Uh… fine, thank you," Reilly murmured back. This hunk was Pryde's boyfriend?
Piotr nodded, then looked at Kitty, his stoic expression warming. "Are you going to be a bit, or are you ready to go?"
"I'll just be a minute. Could you bring these up to the counter for me? They had both of those Dunsany books, by the way."
"Oh, and don't forget these." Kitty snatched both the Bester and Wolfe from the shelf and handed them to Piotr.
"Okay. I'll take care of them. Nice meeting you, Miss Dupree." Piotr gave Reilly a nod and headed towards the front. She stared after him, almost gape-mouth, while Kitty beamed at her.
"He's your boyfriend?" Reilly whimpered.
"Mmmm-hmmm. Nicest guy I ever met. He's smart, handsome, funny, poetic, considerate and so much more, and he's head-over-heels in love with me. Oh, and in case you're wondering, since you'll never find out for yourself, he's even better than he looks. I know that for a fact…" She gave Reilly a little wave and walked off. "Really nice seeing you, Reilly," she called over her shoulder. "Take care!"
Kitty and Piotr were walking out of the bookstore when Kitty noticed a blond girl standing at the entrance, staring at them. Kitty recognized her almost immediately. "Hello Amy," she said.
Amy did not answer. Instead she turned to Piotr. "She's your girlfriend?"
Piotr blinked, nonplussed. "Yes." He looked from Amy to Kitty, who was staring at him curiously. "You know each other?" Kitty nodded.
"Kitty Pryde's your girlfriend?" Amy reiterated in disbelief.
"I said yes." Piotr felt his annoyance return. "Do you have a problem with that fact?"
"She's only the clumsiest, geekiest girl I ever went to high school with! What could someone like you see in a scrawny little nerd like her?"
Piotr's face hardened, his gentle blue eyes turning steely. Amy swallowed nervously, suddenly feeling as if she was locked in a cage with a tiger she just slapped in the face. "Katerina Anna is the kindest, gentlest woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing," he said with gentle, contained force. "If you are blind to her qualities, then I feel sorry for you. Come, Katya." He hooked his arm through Kitty's and led her out. Kitty grinned at Amy as she passed.
As they walked towards the mall exit, Kitty heard Piotr muttering to himself in Russian. She shot him a mock-scolding look. "Peter! Language!"
Piotr winced, then laughed. "Sorry, Katya. I am a trifle angry."
"You shouldn't be. What Amy said rolled off of me like water off a duck's back. How does she know you, by the way?" Peter related his experience. Kitty laughed. "God, how lame can you get."
"Who is lame, she for hitting on me that way or myself for not realizing what she was doing?"
"Amy, of course. You could never be lame, Peter. You're just endearingly cute."
"Thank you, I think." They left the mall and walked through the parking lot to their rental car, Piotr watching Kitty with affectionate amusement. She was practically bouncing, smiling brightly to herself. "You seem very happy."
"That's because I am happy. Hey Peter, do you know what they say the best revenge is?"
"To live well, right?"
Piotr unlocked the driver's side door and held it open for Kitty. "So tell me Katya, is it true?"
Kitty gave Piotr a big, rib-creaking hug, smiling up at him with bright, joyful eyes. "You better believe it."
This story is based on the work of Lia Fail, and is set after Paint By Numbers but well before the murder of Peter's parents, as related in The Knight and the Maiden. I got the idea for this story after watching the first Kitty Pryde episode on DVD, and ended up writing it as a Christmas gift to Lia. She has given me permission to post here. I hope you all enjoyed it.
I would also like to apologize for the long delay with Deathless chapter 10. A number of factors have contributed to its lateness – the craziness of the Christmas season, a project I've been working on with Lia, and strange lack of enthusiasm that has suddenly surfaced towards that story. Don't fear, however. Having come this far with Deathless, I have no plans on abandoning it, especially since I'm within striking distance of finishing it.
I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for your time and tolerance.