INDIAN SUMMER

BY MADRIPOOR ROSE

Disclaimer: The Astonishing X Men are the property of Marvel Entertainment. No copyright infringement intended.

Author's Note: Another take on Astonishing X Men 13. Spoilers for Astonishing 14. And spoilers for random X Men history and Colossus: Bloodline. For Anhayla and Amokitty.

Indian Summer: mild warm weather before the killing frost of late autumn.

Peter Rasputin hesitated, leaning against one of the bookshelves, and watched Kitty read. He hadn't actually been looking for her in the library. He'd been thinking about taking a book with him on his walk, idly planning to stop somewhere on the shore of Breakstone Lake to eat, and that it might be nice to sit for a while, and read a book under the open sky.

There were probably other things he should be doing. Catching up on the events of a world that had kept turning while he was locked away in that cell beneath Benetech. Making plans for the art class he would be teaching next semester.

Emma Frost had archly commented that the twenty student minimum requirement had filled almost as soon as the class was announced. By ten girls and four boys who hoped there would be a life study project that he would personally model nude for, one Snowflake Foundation scholarship student who felt obligated to attend because technically Peter was paying his way, and five students who actually liked to draw and wished to improve their skills.

Whether that was true or simply Emma being her charming self, he'd never taught before, and he was looking forward to the challenge. So he should probably be making lesson plans, seeing about school resources, buying supplies, checking with Scott about possible field trips to the museums and galleries in New York, starting on the immense amount of work teaching was going to be.

Or he should be doing something about the mail piling up: since his rescue and resurrection, the galleries and dealers were fighting each other to offer invitations to Peter Nicholas, not so subtly angling for information about any new painting he was doing, and whether he had representation, and who would be showing his work.

That's what he probably should be doing.

But the sun was out, the sky was blue, and it was unseasonably warm for early fall in upstate New York, and the walls were closing in on him.

He wanted out.

It had been a long time since he'd walked the school grounds. So he'd thrown together a quick picnic lunch, planning to stay outside all day. He'd have the grounds to himself. Some of the students were off on training missions. Logan had taken the rest into the deactivated Danger Room, to practice his peculiar brand of psychology. Pushing traumatized students further to remind them that they were just that good.

Peter had come into the library for a little light reading, and found Kitty Pryde there.

She was curled up on the sofa in her favorite alcove, reading. As always, he couldn't take his eyes off her. His Katya. His heroine. Glossy chestnut curls tumbled to her shoulders, loosely framing her face, with its adorable button nose, and tempting full lips curved in a slight smile. Intelligent gold-flecked brown eyes narrowed, absorbed in her book. As he watched, she shifted in her seat, bringing a knee up, resting her elbow on her knee, and her stubborn chin on her fist.

Peter's hands twitched, wanting charcoal and paper to capture the pose.

He changed his mind about the book, deciding that he would prefer her company on the walk.

Kitty had been through a rough time lately. Fighting the Danger Room's artificial intelligence in Genosha, where her father had been killed. Discovering Professor Xavier's betrayal of his own ideals in imprisoning the new-born Danger AI.

The suicide of the boy who Ord had assaulted with Benetech's mutation cure...the cure that had been developed by the experiments performed on Peter against his will, while Benetech held him captive. It shut off mutations at the genetic level, and the boy known as Wing had lost the ability to fly.

And Peter had heard rumors that Wing had a hopeless crush on Miss Pryde, a crush made more hopeless by his own rescue and return. He had vague memories of the boy in the infirmary, brightening as Kitty rushed in and greeting her...to be ignored as Kitty hurried to Peter's bedside where Henry McCoy had just finished examining him, authenticating his identity and ensuring that he suffered no ill effects.

'Adolescence,' Peter thought sadly. 'A wonder any of us survive it.' Perhaps the shattered daydreams on top of the loss of the telekinesis that allowed him to propel himself through the air had been enough to push the boy over the edge into despair. He didn't know.

Peter's own experience with that bleak drive toward oblivion had a different source.

Finding Peter himself, alive, kept in Benetech's secret labs as a test subject must have been a nasty shock for Kitty. She'd yelled at him, accusing him of being a shapeshifter or robot, because Peter Rasputin was dead and she'd carried his ashes back to Siberia herself and scattered them on the shores of Lake Baikal.

She'd carried someone's ashes. In those few minutes between Dr. Reyes giving up on cpr and going for help, Ord had teleported in, retrieved and revived Peter, and left the lifeless clone behind. When the resident X Men returned to the lab, they found what they believed to be the dead body of Peter Rasputin.

He had been trying to die. So lost with grief and the loss of Illyana, wanting the pain, the guilt, all of it to just end. And the Legacy cure was right there...waiting for a test. The shard of Grigorii Rasputin that infected his soul pushed depression to despair, and he'd stolen the cure and used it on himself, sacrificing himself for the rest of mutantkind.

He didn't think Kitty would ever forgive him for that.

Since his return, things had been strained between them. He'd been overwhelmed by freedom after spending two years in a cell, and she had been hurt by his withdrawal. He had reached out, only to have her explode with anger, misunderstanding his suggestion she skip the mission to Genosha, thinking he wanted to avoid her company, and making a crack about crowding him.

He'd told her he wanted to spare her the pain of revisiting Genosha, where her father died, and told her the problem was that she wasn't crowding him enough.

He cleared his throat. Kitty looked up and smiled, marking her place in the book with a finger, closing the covers around her hand and resting the book in her lap to give him her full attention. "Hi Peter."

"Would you like to go for a walk, Katya? It's a beautiful day out today, warm and sunny, but they say we might see the first snow fall at the end of next week." His face fell as he saw the title of the book she'd been reading. 1634: The Ram Rebellion. Was he interrupting her classwork?

"That sounds nice." She let the book fall closed and made a face at the cover, leaving it on the sofa cushion beside her. "I liked the other books in the series better, I can't get into this one. The stuff about Brillo the ram, and the ballet troupe was okay, but..." she shook her head, then, taking pity on his inquiring expression, explained. "Scifi novels. Time travel, a whole small town from West Virginia gets tossed into Germany during the 1600s. This one's about a ram that becomes a pop culture symbol and then an icon rallying a political movement. Let me hop upstairs and grab a sweater."

"Meet me in the kitchen." He nodded, and went to retrieve his picnic basket, adding some fruit, and on reflection, a couple of bottles of beer in a soft-sided cooler.

Kitty came into the kitchen wearing a mint-green cardigan shrugged on over her yellow teeshirt. She raised an eyebrow at the picnic basket as Peter strung the handle over his arm.

"Ooh, you brought munchies?"

"Just a snack," he agreed quickly, a spontaneous picnic seemed suddenly too contrived and romantic...too forced.

"So, any particular destination in mind, or shall we just meander?"

"There is still the hiking trail that loops through the grounds, yes? Or has it overgrown?"

"Nope, it's still there. Logan takes the kiddies dumb enough to get detention from him on 5 am marches."

"Good. I thought we could walk the trail."

They set out through the back door and through the garden, coming to the treeline and the carefully marked trailhead and the maze of dirt paths that wound around, splitting and rejoining in a tangled loop.

"We should probably check the N'Garai cairn," Kitty said, pointing to a path that crossed over into the national forest preserve that adjoined the Xavier estate, and the ancient gateway the X Men had finally sealed. "Scott's got it tied into the security monitors, but we try to get out there once a month for a live in person check."

"A prudent precaution," he agreed, and they set out.

It was cooler here, in the shade of the trees. Birds twittered and chattered in the canopy, and squirrels chased each other up and down tree trunks and from branch to branch, tails sephamoring the danger of human interlopers in their woods.

Peter and Kitty walked in comfortable silence for a while, and then Kitty snorted a laugh. "The N'Garai sure livened up my first Chanukah away from home. Remember how I wrecked the mansion fighting 'em?"

"Da," he agreed. "And I remember a very uncomfortable drive with your parents to the airport after their visit."

She looked up at him in surprise. "Uncomfortable? Why?"

Peter smirked. "Katya. When we came in to surprise you with your parents coming to visit...you were wearing only a bathrobe. And you flung yourself into my arms. In front of your parents."

Something in her heart clenched and relaxed. "You never said anything. Did Dad give you the third degree?"

"There were some pointed questions about our friendship, yes." He gave her a sidelong glance. "You know, when your parents decided to send you to Miss Frost at the Massachusetts Academy, Logan blamed me. Since your mother specifically told the Professor they thought you should attend a school with more students your own age. Logan said they probably thought I was luring you out to the poolhouse and doing unspeakable things to you."

"When I was the one leaping out at you in amorous ambush. Guess my letters home didn't help, all Peter this and Peter that. I was obsessed in the way only a thirteen year old girl can be," she thought back ruefully.

"My letters home were little different," Peter admitted. "I had my mama planning our wedding before I had to explain that things in America were different, that it was considered too young to wed a girl at eighteen, let alone fourteen."

"Another life," Kitty said airily. "Rachel's life, actually."

He looked at her inquiringly, and she raised her eyebrows. "Didn't you ever wonder about that timeline? I mean...not the post-apocalyptic mutant concentration camp Sentinels conquered the Earth nightmare part. The Peter and Kate Rasputin part."

"Often," he agreed. "As you say, another life."

"With an infinite number of alternate universes out there...there's got to be one where everyone got a happily ever after."

"And many where our world, flawed as it is, would be paradise." Peter cleared his throat, and tried to lighten the tone of their conversation. "Though I was always rather disturbed by Kurt's report that Pirate Kitty's world exists."

"Yeah. That was weird, even for us."

The N'Garai cairn was still a blackened stump, with a tangled mass of wild rosebushes growing around it. Four cameras on posts kept it under observation. Kitty stuck her tongue out and crossed her eyes at the nearest camera, then broke off a branch of heavily fragrant dark pink blossoms. Peter closed his eyes and took a deep breath of perfumed air.

"Pretty, if you don't know what it was," Kitty commented.

"Do I sense Ororo's hand in the planting? A lovely heirloom flower...and should a N'Garai emerge, it would be into a thicket of thorns, and a swarm of angry bees," he agreed, approvingly. An elegant and natural first line of defense.

"Yup. Storm's got a nasty streak under all that Mother Nature stuff."

Peter took another deep breath. Roses. He'd almost forgotten the scent.

They continued on, startling a brown rabbit that was snacking on the weeds near the trail. Where the trail branched again, they took the path that led to Breakstone Lake, coming out at a marshy section of shoreline, all cattails and pussy willow and mud. A small creek fed into the lake here, and the trail crossed it on a wooden bridge. They stopped on the bridge and listened to the babble of the brook, resting for a moment and leaning on the railing. Kitty dropped her roses into the water, and watched them float away.

Kitty sighed loudly. "Wow. I can feel myself relaxing," she reached around to rub the back of her neck. "This was a great idea, Peter, thanks for inviting me."

"Who else would I want to spend such a beautiful day with?"

She smiled shyly and looked away, changing the subject. "Oh, have you seen the boathouse? We've got two aquatic students, a were-dolphin and an amphibian, so it was practical to build a dock and get a small motorboat."

They walked along the shoreline to the boathouse, and Peter dutifully admired it, and they walked out to the end of the dock and back, then they continued for another two miles along the shoreline. There was a breeze here, by the water, and Kitty pulled her cardigan sweater closed, fastening a few of the buttons.

"Why don't we head for the meadow, and have our lunch?" Peter gestured to the next branching path leading inland with the picnic basket, "and then we can continue, or return to the house, as you like."

"I think we'll have to head back...or uh, I will. I have some errands to run before dinner, so..." Kitty said, a bit reluctantly.

The meadow had once been pastureland, when the Xaviers kept horses. Now it was a wide expanse of grassy sward, dotted with a few ancient oaks and elm trees. The grass was kept neatly clipped by the gardening service.

They settled under a glorious elm that had already begun to turn color, crowned with brilliant coppery red-gold leaves.

Peter folded his long legs under him on the red stadium fleece, and unpacked their picnic. Sweet red seedless grapes, Bosc pears and Gala apples, a brick of mild white Canadian cheddar. Rolls and blueberry muffins from the bakery in Salem Center. Some plump strawberries, red as rubies. A couple of paper napkins. And the cooler pack, with two bottles of Tinkov pilsner, and a bottle of blackberry flavored water.

"Mmm. You have good taste, Mister Rasputin," Kitty purred, and popped a handful of grapes from their stems.

Peter roughly tore a roll in half, then used the knife from the picnicware set in the lid to cut thin slices of cheese, making a sort of sandwich.

"Can I take one of the beers? I AM old enough to drink now, y'know," she asked teasingly.

"But of course. I just didn't know if you'd like a Russian beer. It isn't as bitter as Baltika, but... Did Logan and Kurt ever have the same argument about Molson's versus Jaegar with you as they did me?"

"Nope. Never get between a Canadian and a German when it comes to beer. We served Tink's at the bar where I worked...and there was a while there that I liked anything with a Russian connection that would remind me of you," she shrugged uncomfortably. "I wouldn't say I got drunk, exactly, but I sure was a maudlin tipsy."

"I'm sorry," Peter said quietly.

She leaned over and filched a slice of cheese from his bread. "You don't have to apologize for being abducted by aliens, Peter. I'm just sorry we didn't find you sooner."

"You couldn't have known," he assured her quickly, swearing inside. This wasn't what he wanted. Would there always be this chasm between them?

'I should tell her,' he thought. 'I should tell her I've wasted too much of my life, that I love her, that I've always loved her and I don't want to waste any more time worrying about hurting each other, or doing what's right. I want her. I want to kiss her. I want to undress her, and lay her down on this soft blanket, and make love to her...and that's exactly what she'll think. That I brought her on this walk, the picnic, to seduce her.

That it isn't love, its that I was locked in that cell for two years, and I'm just horny and grateful that she was the one who got me free. She's grown up, moved on, gotten over me, and I still want the little girl who thought I was her knight in shining armor and if I speak now she'll look at me pityingly and tell me that we're just friends and I really don't even have the right to expect that.

And I'll have to live with her, knowing that she thinks I'm a pathetic relic of the past, and it'll feel like dying a little bit every day...' he recognized the dark turn of his train of thought and shook it off. 'Shut up, Grigorii. I don't believe you and I'm not listening any more.'

But instead of pouring out his heart, he began to talk very rapidly about his upcoming art class and asking Kitty for teaching advice, and the moment passed.

They finished most of the food, and Peter packed it away so it wouldn't attract ants. Kitty idly picked through a patch of clover growing in the grass at the blanket's edge, looking for a four-leaf.

Peter shifted on the blanket, sitting up so that he was leaning against the trunk of the elm, and closed his eyes. Kitty laughed. "Are you falling asleep?"

"I am resting my eyes," he corrected her. But Kitty yawned, "you do look comfy."

He took a breath, held it, and spread his arms wide. He let it out in a sigh when he felt her warm body snuggle against his, and her head resting against his shoulder.

He could still smell roses.

She yawned again. It was warm. Just warm enough to be comfortable, a breeze just cool enough to be refreshing whispered through the branches overhead. Something touched his bare arm, below the sleeve of his teeshirt, and he opened his eyes enough to see leaves falling, swirling and spinning as they drifted to the ground.

Kitty shifted, moving closer, and yawned yet again.

"This is nice. I really am gonna fall asleep, I think. Haven't been sleeping too good." She was quiet for a little while, and just when Peter thought she had fallen asleep, she added, "it feels like we just lurch from disaster to disaster, and we never get any time to rest."

He gave her a little squeeze, and then let his hand linger on her hip.

Kitty's breathing grew deeper, more even, as she fell asleep. They dozed together for an hour, then Peter woke, and smiled happily at the woman in his arms.

Her lips were parted slightly, temptingly close, bare of any color save a thin gloss that made it all the more tempting to lean just that little bit closer and kiss her, damn the consequences.

He licked his lips.

"AHHH!" Kitty yelped, and sat bolt upright, looking around her frantically and turning away from him.

"Kitty!" Peter sat up and reached for her. "Are you--"

She was shaking, trying to breathe normally instead of the near hyperventilating panic. "Oh. Oh. Damn."

"Bad dream." It wasn't a question. Peter'd had enough nightmares of his own lately to recognize the signs. The worst ones were when you weren't sure if they were over for an instant, after waking.

"Yeah." She pushed a handful of hair out of her eyes. "Real kicker."

"Are you all right?" he wrapped his arms around her tightly, drawing her closer, and she burrowed into the embrace, resting her cheek against his chin with a sudden sweet smile.

"Gettin' better already."

XxXxXxXxXxX

The dream was still bothering Kitty. Not so much the whole Outer Limits face-melting dead daddy ending. That was to be expected. Going back to Genosha...talking to Peter about her parents...though the thought of Dad grilling Peter about his intentions did bring a wistful smile to her face.

It was the other part of the dream that bothered her. At the beginning, it had been realistic. Cuddling under the tree with Peter had happened. Charged innuendo, flirting, while she lightly stroked his thigh...she wanted that to happen. And more. So much more...

He was skittish. Deservedly so. The poor guy had been through hell. Taking the Legacy cure to save mutantkind, and waking up in that cell, alone. Tortured and experimented on for years. Years. Oh god, if Rao hadn't given Henry that sample of Benetech's cure...if Henry hadn't recognized Peter's DNA at the base of a retrovirus that turned off mutation as easily as Peter switched from flesh to steel...would they ever have found him?

She'd rescued him, and kind of flipped out over the half naked dead ex boyfriend thing. And then...finding out Professor Xavier had imprisoned and experimented on an AI born in the Danger Room for years...going back to Russia, losing the last members of his family and finding out he had an insane ancestor stuck in his soul...

It really wasn't something she could kiss and make better. He needed time.

She'd never been good at waiting.

And she'd never stopped loving him. She'd fallen in love with other people, over the years, had crushes...but Peter was the love of her life.

She hadn't been able to stop thinking of him when she ran into town to go to the bank and the post office. The picnic had been lovely, but she couldn't help wondering what would have happened if the good part of the dream had been real. If she asked if she was crowding him yet when they curled up for their nap...and started to rub the inside of his thigh.

In the bookstore, she wandered over to the romance section, hoping for a book with a Russian male lead. But even the hope of a little fantasy fuel deserted her. Scotsmen all over the shelves, and the closest the clerk could suggest was Danielle Steele's Zoya and frankly Kitty would rather set fire to the twenty dollar bill.

She ate at a vegan restaurant in town, not wanting to deal with the students and Emma tonight. She avoided everyone back at the mansion, when she returned.

She changed into workout clothes and headed down to the empty deactivated Danger Room and ran through a series of katas, letting the precise patterns of movement mesmerize her until she wasn't thinking of anything but the next block-kick-punch. It felt good, but she didn't push it, the ten mile stroll with Peter was enough of a workout.

She went back to her room and took a long hot shower, pulled her hair back into a ponytail with a blue scrunchy, and put on jeans and a black tank top.

It was still early, so she gathered up her laundry and ran down to the small room near the kitchen that had two washers and dryers. Noone else was running a load, so she put two in at once.

That was a mistake. It meant that she got done faster.

She hauled the laundry basket back upstairs and put her clothes away. Then sat at the foot of her bed and painted her nails, fingers and toes. It was a bright cotton candy pink, and when it was dry she applied the matching lip gloss, checking the effect in the mirror and trying to decide if she was too old for pink. That killed another twenty minutes.

Lockheed came waddling into her room through the catflap in the door. He hopped up into her lap, and she scratched his head between the horns. His eyes sqeezed shut with pleasure, and he burped.

A smudge of orange along his muzzle betrayed him. "Lockheed! You've been conning the kids into feeding you Cheetos again, you bad dragon," she scolded him.

He nodded happily, forked tongue darting out to lick cheese dust from his lips, and then he crawled up the bed to curl up by the pillows.

Kitty swung her feet and told herself it was time to stop kidding herself. She hadn't dolled herself up for a thrilling night of watching Lord of the Rings DVDs.

Nobody shaves their legs for Orlando Bloom.

She wanted Peter. And she wanted some kind of closure before this drove her completely crazy.

She'd go to his room. She'd go to his room and just tell him that she still loved him, and wanted him, and wanted to have sex with him. And that she'd understand if he wanted to take it slow because of everything. But it would be nice to know that he felt the same way and maybe they could have the sex and let the relationship happen.

And okay, if she scared him off by coming on too strong, she'd calmly ask exactly what he'd meant by 'You are not crowding me nearly enough' if he didn't want the same thing she wanted.

And then she'd go eat an entire carton of Breyer's Chocolate Rainbow ice cream, cry, and go find a bad guy to hit.

'Okay,' she thought. 'I'm going to get up and go confront Peter about what he wants out of this relationship, whether he wants to be friends, lovers, or friends with benefits, whatever.'

'Any minute now.'

'I can do this.'

'I'm totally cool.'

'I'm totally calm and I'm totally cool.'

She didn't move. 'My calm is exceeded only by my cool. Which is total.'

She tried to remember how legs worked.

'Here we go.'

She got up, went to Peter's room, and knocked at his door.

There was a pause before he opened it. He'd changed into sweats, a shirt that was deep blue with a turquoise stripe across his chest, and gray pants. The muted colors really made his eyes blue.

"Um. You busy?"

"No. I was just reading."

" 'cause if I'm bothering..."

"Come in, please." He stood aside so she could enter his bedroom, and closed the door behind her. "Is it about your dream?"

Oh lord, he thought it was the nightmare. Well, the first time she had done this, offered herself to him like this, it was after the Brood nightmare when he ran in to comfort her after she woke up in screaming hysterics.

Screaming hysterics sounded like a good idea right now. Especially since she couldn't look him in the eyes for fear she'd blurt out 'blue!' and it was hard enough getting through this without turning into a complete idiot.

Which she wouldn't.

Because she was totally calm. And totally cool.

"No. It's...well, not that part of the dream. I mean I have something to...I'll just go." She was babbling. When in doubt, chicken out. She'd try again later.

"Go?" Peter frowned slightly and leaned against the door.

"You know. It was nothing. And so, we're done. With nothing!" she said brightly.

He looked vaguely amused. Her eyes narrowed as his lips curved into a slight smile. "I think you should stay and tell me what's on your mind."

"I can go through you, you know. I have powers where I can do that."

"Are you going to yell at me some more?"

She flinched at that. This wasn't going at all like she'd planned. She stared at her fingernails, not meeting his eyes in case he still looked like he thought this was funny.

"No. But, we've been through all this stuff and I'm in my room thinking and if this was the perfect situation we'd be on a meteor hurtling into the sun or infected by the Brood or something really important that would draw us together and you wouldn't be standing there like a big dumb big guy and---" she listened to the words pouring out of her mouth in growing horror, with a faint hope that eventually she'd say something that made sense, and looked up at Peter from beneath her eyelashes.

And then he was pulling her close and kissing her.

He pulled back slightly and smiled, letting her catch her breath.

"Why didn't you say something?" she groaned.

He smiled, eyes twinkling. "Because you are very cute when you are panicking." They kissed again.

"Well, you are such a dunce," she drawled in the affected Valley Girl accent of her youth, pushing his blue sweatshirt up his ribs. He took the hint and pulled it off over his head, tossing it on the floor.

They kissed again, and Kitty peeled out of her tank top, kicked off her shoes, and stepped out of her jeans. She held on to Peter's waist for balance as she kicked free of the heavy denim. "While you've been watching me tap dance through the mine field, we could have been doing this," she pulled his sweatpants and boxers down, following them to the floor. Peter held onto her shoulders for balance as he stepped out of his pants, then gasped, his hands tightening on her shoulders as she decided to treat him to a different kind of tongue-lashing.

"Katya. Bed," he begged when she rocked back on her heels.

"There's a plan. Um. Should I nip down to the infirmary while you keep the engine running, or..."

He shook his head. "Nightstand. Just in case."

Her grin widened. "You do think ahead."

They fell onto the bed, and Peter groaned, kissing her neck. "Katya...I love you, you're so beautiful..."

It was wonderful. Peter was loving and gentle and passionate. His hands sculpted her body and he dropped kisses all over her skin.

They'd waited for this for so many years, so much frustration and heartache. Peter kept up a mumbled monologue in affectionate Russian and English. Kitty moaned love and encouragement back.

It was so good. It was so very good. "Oh god, Peter," she groaned into his ear, digging her fingernails into his back. It was so good...

She was almost...

She was tumbling...

She WAS tumbling. With a yelp, she managed to flip in mid-air, solidify and land on her feet behind the sofa in the Common Room.

On the first floor of the mansion.

"Oh my god!" she gasped, in stunned embarrassment as she grabbed an afghan draped over the back of the couch to cover her nudity just in time. The student who'd been watching television turned. "Miss Pryde?"

She was already running for the stairs. "Oh. my. god," she said to herself again. She'd phased. She'd phased while climaxing.

That had never happened before.

God. Peter. Talk about coitus interruptus. She had to get back to Peter and make sure that he understood that he'd been so amazing in bed that she'd completely lost control...that she wasn't playing a cruel joke.

By the time she got back upstairs, trying to run without tripping over the trailing folds of her blanket, Peter was waiting at the door of his room, wide eyed. He'd put his boxer shorts back on, inside out, and he was watching the stairs anxiously, waiting for her. "Are you all right?"

"Oh my god," she said again. "I phased!"

"Are you all right," Peter asked again with a small smile.

"Are you?" she asked, looking searchingly into his eyes. He didn't look upset...or like he had hurt himself when his partner vanished in mid-thrust.

"It was strange," he admitted, looking about as stunned as she felt.

"I can't believe I phased just then. That's never...it was totally your fault," she told him worshipfully.

His smile went wider, and smug. "I'd like to think so."

He closed the door, and reached for her, sliding the blanket from her shoulders.

She giggled helplessly.

Peter nibbled at her earlobe, then looked up. "What is funny?"

"Oh. It's just. I've heard the phrase, he screwed me through the mattress. But this was a little ridiculous."

He chuckled too, kissed her again, and she led him back to bed.

"My turn now, yes?" he slipped the boxers off.

"You'd better believe it, Tiger."

He growled playfully.

They spent the night making love, talking, and laughing, before Kitty finally fell asleep in Peter's arms.

She woke alone in bed, and sleepily watched Peter pull his sweatshirt on. "Hey," she called out softly.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."

"Where you going?"

"Kitchen." He grinned, guiltily. "I'm very hungry."

She stretched and looked at the clock on his nightstand. "Mn. It's a little early for breakfast, but I'm starved too," she sat up. "Where are my underpants?"

She followed his gaze to his easel. He unhooked them from the top of the tripod and tossed them to her.

She started to get dressed. "Think we have any of those blueberry muffins left?"

"Da. Eggs and bacon."

"Turkey bacon," she corrected him. "And cantaloupe, and toast and coffee. I'm gonna need a good breakfast inside me to face the day."

He raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Two students saw my impromptu streaking last night. By lunch everyone in the school is gonna know that Miss Pryde was running around naked last night."

"Ah. Your reputation will suffer?" he looked concerned.

"Eh. I'll pretend it never happened, and eventually Logan will attack Scott again and give the kids something new to gossip about."

They went downstairs, unable to stop grinning at each other, stopping every few steps to kiss.

"Wanna come to my room tonight? My bed's a double, that'll be a little more comfortable to sleep together, after." Kitty suggested as they walked into the kitchen.

Logan was sitting at the table, reading the Daily Bugle and eating a bowl of Kirby Krackles. The cereal box and the milk were still on the table.

Kitty froze. This reminded her of the time Ororo caught her necking with Peter in the attic when they were teenagers.

Only even more humiliating.

Logan looked at her. He looked at Peter. He grunted, " 'bout time," and turned to the sports page.

Blushing furiously, Kitty moved to the cabinet for coffee mugs. "So. Coffee?"

"Da. Please, yes. Are we the first up?"

"Hank ran out for Starbucks and Twinkies a while ago. The Queen should be down soon. So should Emma. Should be a nice quiet day."

But the Wolverine, as he was so often, was wrong.

The End.