Astonishing X Men issue 21

By Madripoor Rose

It had been a long day. Kitty was tired. Phasing through the superdense alloy that was as common as concrete around here, fighting for every step they took since she and Piotr had landed.

It was easier to think of the Breakers as monsters. Ord, who tortured Piotr, who wanted all mutants dead, who killed Wing with the cure. The Powerlord who threatened Earth. The hordes that attacked Piotr on sight. The child in the subway shouting, "kill it". Black and white bad guys. So if the prophecy came true, no big loss.

Damn Anghanna. Damn her for the home she'd opened for the sick and the old and the injured. "Hospital. You have a word for it." Damn her for saying compassion was a mutation. And God damn her to hell for telling Piotr she had always thought the Colossus was a giant. And that his fated destruction of this world could be a symbol for change.

Kitty wondered about that mural in the Palace of Corpses. Did it show Piotr with the Breakworld on his back, like Atlas?

She sat down at the foot of the bed to take her boots off. On the other side of the sheer red curtain, in the living room area of this guest suite, Piotr peeled his costume top off, shrugging into the soft gray flannellike sleepwear. Carefully, politely facing in the other direction, giving her privacy. She watched the play of muscles under his skin, and knew that even those shoulders couldn't bear the weight of this world.

She stood to undress. Thought of Piotr eagerly pulling her tank top off, grabbing his sweatpants to phase them away. Damn Emma and Cassandra Nova. After waiting, after waiting and wanting so long, they had finally made love, only to have the joy of their requited romance spoiled by the illusion of betrayal.

Kitty splayed a hand across her taut stomach and felt her lips twitch in a bitter smile. Making her believe that she was rescuing her son might have been Cassandra's escape attempt. Giving her the memory of stretch marks was all Emma. had all faded to a bad dream. But she remembered screaming at Piotr not to touch her after what he'd done to her and their son. She remembered his face. And on the SWORD ship, telling him she needed time. Knowing what he faced here, she had asked him for more time.

Even though she was being unfair, he gave it to her. Shouldered the blame for the things that never happened, for things that had but weren't his fault. They hadn't spoken of it since.

"They left food," Piotr called out, breaking the awkward silence between them. "It is probably safe to eat...if you are hungry."

"I'm not."

"No. Best to sleep, I guess. Now I am Messiah, tomorrow will probably be busy." A touch of that wry Russian humor in his voice, then he continued quietly, "They bring me back from dead. They want me dead. I will destroy them. I will save them. I'm so tired..."

He sounded tired. Beyond tired. Wearied to the bone. She thought of him on his knees at Benetech, begging, pleading with her to tell him that he was dead at last, and could rest. Thought of the Legacy cure, and scattering ashes she'd believed were his.

She wanted more time. She wanted more time with him. She was afraid of loving him and losing him again. And now she knew just how stupid that was. She loved him. She always had, and always would. And she could lose him forever.

He could die trying to save this world. Destroying it would destroy everything he held sacred. Would destroy him.

Naked, she walked over and pulled the filmy draperies aside. Piotr turned at the sound of her footstep, and froze, staring at her wide-eyed, love and longing in his eyes.

"Now I am MORE confused...but somehow not as tired," he breathed, a hopeful, playful note lifting some of the despair.

Kitty had always been the skinny, geeky tomboy. She never felt as beautiful as she did, reflected in Piotr's eyes. She let her gaze trail down his body, bare muscular chest wrapped in an open gray pajama top...the red spandex shorts of his X Men outfit straining over his growing erection.

She went to him. She didn't know what the prophecy meant, but she could remind him that he had something to live for.

The End