Disclaimers:

All characters owned by Marvel and currently made to jump through hoops for the amusement of Joss Whedon (and his fans). We just keep our fingers crossed.

AN: Props to Madripoor Rose for inspiring me to finish this little moment between AXM #21 and #22(whenever that gets released), with her recent missing scene one-shots. Had this one in mind for a month or so. Nice to finally finish it.

Rating: Mature, for adult situations, language and nudity.

Pairing: Peter/Kitty

Summary: On the eve of prophecy, Peter and Kitty talk about the future.

The Third Choice
by Kirayoshi

"There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will...
We defy augury:
There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
If it be now, 'tis not to come;
If it be not to come, it will be now;
If it be not now, yet it will come:
The readiness is all…"

--William Shakespeare
Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2

She collapsed, boneless, into his arms, the last tremors of her orgasm still sending tiny currents of pleasure through her synapses. Riding out the last waves of her climax, she marveled at how easily her body seemed to nest against his, like two matreshka dolls. How her breasts molded themselves against his chest and the gentle contours of her buttocks perfectly fit his hands. Sated, she reveled in the skin-on-skin contact, shutting out the alien world outside, and the responsibilities of tomorrow.

Were the Augers of Breakworld right, or was Ahrganne? Was he destined to destroy a world, or save it?

Two days ago (My God, she thought, was it only that long ago?) Kitty Pryde had been on the verge of losing her nerve in her latest effort to confront her feelings for Peter Rasputin, until the brawny young artist stopped her panic the only way he knew how. His kiss both put to rest the last of her inner demons and promised treasures which the two lovers spent the night unearthing. Their initial lovemaking was frenzied and passionate, full of new discoveries, as they explored each others' bodies for the first time. Over the years, she had almost forgotten that her body's natural state was one of phase and she needed to concentrate to remain solid, so instinctive and second nature that level of concentration had become for her. The first time Peter sent her spinning over the edge into climax, that concentration was shattered, causing her to phase through the mattress, through the floor and into the school's TV lounge. Mercifully she was able to grab a nearby throw blanket to cover herself, but her mad dash back to Peter's room had been noticed by some of the other students.

Tonight was different, more tender and less hurried, as Peter and Kitty sought to simply connect, to become one flesh, one heart, one soul. They took their time, letting their passion guide them, and their coupling, while slower and gentler, was still more intense than before.

For long minutes after they were done, Peter and Kitty just lay in each others arms, unable and unwilling to move, simply happy to be together in this alien environment. Finally, Peter lifted his head slightly to take in his lover's face. "Not that I'm objecting," he asked, "but didn't you say that you needed time?"

"Yeah, I did," Kitty admitted as she gently twined a tuft of Peter's chest hair around her forefinger. "But then again, people in Hell want ice water and I don't see that happening anytime soon either."

Slowly, reluctant to break off the contact with her lover, Kitty lifted herself off of his body and made her way to the sitting room. Their accommodations, provided by Ahrganne, weren't plush, but they were reasonably comfortable. Despite Ord's boasting that "we use diamonds to stuff our pillows" when the X-Men first encountered the alien warrior, and considering how dense the building materials on this world were(she still found it painful to phase through most walls on Breakworld), the bed she shared with Peter was not much harder than her mattress back at the mansion. Under normal circumstances, she felt that she could sleep soundly in this bedroom.

It occurred to her as she retrieved two fruits from the basket of food from the table that very few moments of her life since she first discovered she was a mutant could be classified as 'normal circumstances'.

"Katya?" Peter lifted his body up by his elbows to better watch her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine Peter," she returned to the bed, the fruits in her hands. The site of her nude body walking toward him never failed to illicit feelings of desire and adoration. He knew all too well that she had body-image issues, that she never saw herself as beautiful. He renewed his vow to constantly remind her of how beautiful he thought she was. In his eyes, there was none as lovely as Kitty.

However, in this instance, with her hand outstretched to him, holding one of the native fruits that Ahrganne had provided for them, Peter couldn't help suppress a smirk. "Are you trying to tempt me, my Eve?" he half-smiled as he whispered.

She smiled wryly in response. "This place hardly rates as the Garden of Eden," Kitty quipped, "but I figured we could use this. I'm sure you're right though. The food's probably safe."

Peter nodded, accepting the fruit, his fingers gently caressing hers in the process. He took a small bite, just enough to taste. Given the character of the Breakworld thus far, he was expecting the fruit to be bitter. While somewhat tart, the fruit's mild and pleasant flavor still surprised him. "Hmm," he nodded, taking a larger bite. "Kind of like citrus, with some grape mixed in. Quite good, actually."

"Sounds like a new SoBe flavor," Kitty quipped as she took a bite for herself. Within thirty seconds, she devoured the fruit, seeds, stem and all. She licked a drop of juice from her forefinger, a smoldering look in her eyes.

"I thought you weren't hungry," Peter commented wryly.

"Well, we did get in a bit of a workout there, didn't we?" Kitty answered, a smile that contained nine parts angel, one part devil, spreading on her face as she leaned forward, her body again resting on his. "Burn off the calories, right?"

"That we did," Peter nodded, his arms encircling Kitty's waist almost instinctively. "Katya," he continued, catching Kitty off guard with the amused glint in his eye, "should we survive whatever happens on this world and return to Earth, the first thing I intend to do is write a long and detailed thank you note to Pete Wisdom."

Kitty scowled playfully at her lover. "Like you didn't pick up some pointers from Zsaji," she quipped, lightly slapping his chest.

"You may find this hard to believe," Peter assured Kitty, "but I have almost no memory of her at all." Kitty huffed at his statement, but couldn't hide the humor in her eyes. "I'm serious, Katya. Within months of my return from Battleworld, I found that I had to consult my sketchpad to even recall what she looked like."

"Doesn't really surprise me," Kitty answered thoughtfully as her body once again relaxed against Peter's. "Logan once told me that he thought she had some empathic power, controlling your emotions…" Kitty stopped in mid-sentence, paused for a few seconds and shook her head disbelieving. "I can't believe the two of us!"

"What?" Peter raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "What can't you believe?"

"Look at us," Kitty groaned in exasperation. "Here we are, lying in a bed a couple hundred light years away from Earth, having made love for the second time in a week, and we're talking about our exes!"

"That does seem rather foolish of us," Peter conceded, his hand absently stroking Kitty's arm, "wasting our time with games of what might have been."

"Okay, Peter," Kitty announced, "I hereby propose that in the future, we don't bring up anyone else whom we've dated, seen naked or had sex with while we're in bed together. Deal?"

Peter gazed thoughtfully at Kitty before nodding. "Da. Deal." Kitty lifted her body up over Peter's, just enough so that she could kiss the tip of his nose. Peter smiled slightly, his arms slowly wrapping themselves around Kitty's slim waist. The smile faded slowly as Peter's thoughts reasserted themselves. "That is," he whispered softly, "assuming that you and I have a future."

Kitty lifted her head to look again into Peter's eyes, a faint scowl marring her face. "Don't invite trouble, Peter," she warned him gently.

"No need to invite it, Katya," Peter answered matter-of-factly. "With us X-Men, it tends to drop in uninvited anyway. We are many light years away from our home. We are divided from our teammates, alone and without allies, on a world that has essentially declared war on the Earth, and if Brand is to be believed they possess the technology to end that war with a single shot. Of the planet's population, only Ahrganne and her followers don't wish for our deaths, and from what she's told us their care facility would be as much a target as we are. And from what I've seen I have as much reason to trust Brand's SWORD agents any more than I would trust Ord or his masters."

"A painfully accurate assessment of the situation," Kitty nodded in grim agreement. "Of course, you know what they call that among the X-Men, right? Tuesday." Kitty giggled briefly at her own joke, adding, "Thank you, I'll be here all week."

Peter fought the broadening smile that threatened to escape his lips, but ultimately his efforts were in vain as even he found himself chuckling at Kitty's jest. "How do you do that, Katya?" he asked her, his finger gently tracing the outline of her lips. "How do you know just what to say to make me smile?"

"I know you, Peter," Kitty affirmed, her body slowly responding to Peter's touch. "I think I know you better than anyone in my life. We're a long way from the mansion, as you say, but I'm here in your arms, and it's like familiar territory. Like I'm home. Even if this was only our second time," she paused for a moment, regarding Peter with slightly hooded eyes, embers slowly being fanned in their depths, "the second of many, if I have anything to say about it," her voice grew huskier as she cuddled back into his chest, her hands stroking his pectorals.

"I personally have no problem with that," Peter agreed, his own smile turning slightly lupine for a brief moment. "Damn those Augers; the only future that I'm interested in right now involves you and me, back on Earth, perhaps starting a family..." Even as the words fell from his lips, Peter felt Kitty's frame shudder against his chest as her hand stopped its ministrations.

Peter mentally cursed his ill-chosen words. He didn't dare look at his beloved, fearing the tears he knew were forming in her eyes. "Katya," he murmured, "I am so sorry, I should not have brought up—"

Kitty immediately placed her forefinger to his lips, silencing him with a touch. "Don't you dare," she replied in an intense whisper. "Don't you dare blame yourself for the mindfuck Emma and Nova gave me. You had nothing to do with that. Do you understand me?" Charcoal eyes remained affixed to blue.

Peter nodded solemnly. "In my mind and in my heart," he assured her, "I do know that. But that knowledge brings little satisfaction. The ordeal you went through, what those two did to you..." Peter paused for a moment, silently cursing Emma Frost for her part in Cassandra Nova's efforts to destroy Kitty's psyche. "You still possess those memories, Katya. Of being betrayed by Gospodin Xavier, by the others, by me—" he nearly choked at that thought. "Of being imprisoned for so many months..."

"Eighteen months," Kitty interrupted. "The same period of time you were lost to us. To me. From when you first took the Legacy cure to when I found you in Ord's dungeons." She managed a sardonic half-smile at the thought. "That can't be coincidence, right?"

Peter couldn't help but smirk at his love's words. Gallows humor. He understood the concept. He remembered years ago, when the X-Men faced a seemingly inevitable end, courtesy of the Brood. "It's either laugh or cry," he had said then, "and I refuse to do those monsters, the Brood, the honor of tears." Clearly Kitty was refusing a similar honor to Cassandra Nova and Emma Frost.

And certainly what Nova had done to Kitty was monstrous. They created a dream world where Kitty and Peter had conceived a child, only to take that child, that life, away from her. They imprisoned her in a phase-proof cell until she could outwit the technology that kept her locked up. They fostered in her a single-minded determination to rescue her son, and used that all-consuming need of a mother to save her child as their tool to free the worthless lump of flesh that held Nova's mind, which would then inhabit Kitty's body once Nova's plans were finalized. Only Emma Frost's last-minute double-cross prevented Nova's plans from succeeding.

"Katya," Peter gently caressed Kitty's cheek as he spoke. "Tell me about Michael."

Kitty's eyes widened slightly in surprise. "Why do you want to hear me talk about a son who never existed?" she asked, her voice tinged in sorrow.

"Because you need to talk about him," Peter said sagely. "And I want to listen. What was he like?"

"He was beautiful, Peter," Kitty began to smile dreamily as half-remembered images drifted through her thoughts. "He had your eyes, your hair—unfortunately he also had my nose."

"And what's wrong with your nose?" Peter teased Kitty. "I like your nose." Pleased that his observation elicited a light laugh from Kitty, he pressed her further. "When did he start walking?"

"At ten months," Kitty answered. "And he was talking by fourteen."

"Was he speaking English first, or Russian?"

"Japanese, actually," Kitty shrugged her shoulders, "then English. I know, I was thrown too. Figured it was Logan's influence. He was a bright child, full of joy. Never woke up without a smile." The tears threatened to overwhelm her again, but she managed to control the sorrow and anger that welled within her as she recalled how Frost and Nova had manipulated her. "The thing is that I never thought of being a parent before we first did the deed. But now, remembering what it was like to hold Michael, to breastfeed him for the first time, to rock him to sleep..." Kitty was almost unaware of the tear tracing its way down her cheek until she felt Peter's gentle finger wipe it away. She leaned into his hand, cherishing the contact, her hand clasping his. "Peter," she murmured, "I do want to be a mother. To bring a child into the world someday. Your child."

Peter regarded Kitty's face with a lover's concern. "Katya," he asked, "is that why you..."

"Peter," she groaned slightly, "I said 'someday', not right now!"

"Forgive me, Katya," Peter replied quickly. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Kitty's smile returned as she spoke; "I'm not upset, Peter. I guess I can understand why you'd think that. But I didn't come to you tonight because I wanted to get pregnant. I came to you because I need you in my life." Kitty blinked back a stray tear as she said the words she had kept bottled up for nearly a decade. "I am in love with you, Piotr Rasputin. I don't think there was a moment from the day we first met when I wasn't. Some crazy how or other I got you back, and I have no intention of letting you go again. And I'll be damned if I let Nova and Frost screw that up."

Kitty's quiet affirmation left Peter stunned. He found himself releasing a breath he didn't realize he was holding. A lightness he could never remember experiencing before entered Peter's soul, and his eyes began to moisten. He found himself gazing at her face in awe that she would freely trust her heart to his keeping, and silently vowed never to squander this precious gift of her love. "I have always loved you, Katya," he whispered. "I cannot imagine any life, any future, that does not center around you."

Kitty stared lovingly at Peter for a moment before arching her eyebrows. "Why, Peter," she teased her lover, "that almost sounded like a proposal."

Peter pursed his lips in thought. "It does, doesn't it?" he smiled knowingly.

Kitty lowered her face to Peter's, their lips meeting in a searing kiss. After ten seconds, Kitty broke off the kiss, a mischievous gleam in her eyes. "You're not getting off that easy, Big Guy," she grinned. "Before I say yes, you're gonna have to propose to me right. I'm talking candlelit dinner, flowers, the whole shebang."

Peter's smile matched Kitty's, joyous and welcoming. "It's a date," he promised, lifting her hand to his lips to kiss a knuckle. Sobering, he added "Of course, for that to work, for the next few days, we need to stay alive."

Kitty lifted herself off of Peter's chest with her elbows and hovered over his form, her face a foot away from his, determination smoldering in her charcoal gray eyes. "And we will," she answered, her words a whispered vow. "Right now, that's our main goal. Tomorrow we hook up with the X-Men and Brand, take down that super-weapon, and head for home. Do not pass Go, do not blow up Breakworld. Think we can handle that?"

Peter nodded gently, smiling. "Just like that, huh? Just the eight of us, including Brand and Hisako, against a planet?"

"Bring 'em on," Kitty growled, cuddling closer to her beloved.

No words were needed, as they cuddled and caressed each other languidly for a few more minutes, until finally succumbing to sleep. As he drifted off, Peter couldn't help but smile as he considered the path of his life; he felt a sense of destiny in this world, a sense that everything he had done before was in preparation for the coming day. Every battle, every hardship, every pain suffered or joy shared, it was all leading to an apotheosis.

Was he destined to destroy a world, or save it?

A show-killer, that's what Ahrganne had called herself. "The throng screams and your head crowds with two choices: kill or be killed. I won so often the roar became like the air to me. I couldn't even hear it. And in the silence, the third choice can be heard."

Ahrganne had brought Peter and Kitty to this facility, hoping to provide him a moment of silence so that he could possibly hear that third choice. And she was right. He heard that third choice.

The only choice that mattered. To protect his world and save another. To protect the woman sleeping in his arms.

And to love that woman for the rest of his life.

FIN