Telephone Tag

Telephone Tag

By Madripoor Rose

Disclaimer: The X Men are the property of Marvel Entertainment, no copyright infringement intended.

"You have forty-two new messages!" the machine chirped. Click. Beep. "Look, Pryde, I heard about what went down at Benetech and…" "Deleting message! You have forty-one new messages!" Click. Beep. "too bloody smart to let sentiment tie you to…" "Deleting message!" "Deleting message!" "Deleting message!" "Deleting message!" "You have thirty-one new messages!" Click. Beep. "chrome-plated commie barstard!" "Deleting message!"

Kitty gave up and deleted the rest of the messages. One long rant broken up by recording time. Her fond exasperation at Wisdom's voice railing on slowly became cold sickness in the pit of her stomach.

She sat there for a long moment, trembling slightly, then grabbed the phone, dialed the number, waited for him to answer.

"Did you know?"

"I know many things, luv, you'll have to be more specific."

"Did. You. Know."

"About SWORD, yes. The Breakworlders having a deal with them, yes. Their involvement in developing the mutant cure, yes. That Rasputin was alive and being held by them, no." There was a pause, and Wisdom sighed. Kitty could hear the clink of ice cubes in a glass. "How is he?" he asked, reluctantly.

"He was held captive and experimented on for two years. Kept locked in a room even he couldn't break out of. Gassed repeatedly and strapped to a table, awake and unable to move while they cut into him, taking blood and tissue samples. How the hell do you think he is?" she snapped with weary anger.

Wisdom swore softly, and something in Kitty relaxed at the honest sympathy in his voice. She went on, "When I found him, he thought, I dunno, that I was an angel. He asked if he was dead at last, and if he could rest. We've had him out for a couple weeks, Wisdom, and he still looks around at everything like he's not quite sure it's real. Or if he's real. He's not sleeping, and when he does he has horrible nightmares and wakes up the house with his screaming. I don't know how to help him."

"Well, Rusty's right about one thing. You always were my glimpse of heaven. Pryde, you can't help him with this. All y'can do is be there for him while he finds his own way out."

Kitty sighed heavily. "I know. I hate seeing him in pain and I hate that there's nothing I can do about it. I want someone to hit."

"Well, you could try giving him a good thump and knocking some sense into him. He does need that from time to time."

Kitty laughed softly. "That he does."

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The phone on the bedside table rang, shrilly, shattering the late night silence. Piotr blinked, sleepily, identified the noise as the telephone, and not the alarm clock or any of the mansion's warning sirens. He grabbed the phone before it could ring again.

It was too late. Kitty stirred beside him, waking up. "Hello?"

"Oi you…Razzpootin. I heard you goter back, you lucky barstard…no, yer not a barstard. Zhopa. You asshole, you doan deserver her an' you know it, you…."

"Zhopa," Piotr said, and hung up the phone.

Kitty rolled over, wondering if she'd been dreaming. "Peter? Who did you just call an asshole?"

"Wisdom," came the sleepy rumble beside her. "I was just correcting his pronounciation."

The phone rang again. Piotr picked it up, he listened for a moment, hung up, and turned off the bell.

Kitty's cellphone rang on the dresser.

Piotr groaned. "Why did you give him our numbers?"

"I didn't. Spy," Kitty sighed, as she got out of bed and padded across the room. "Wisdom, I'll talk to you in the morning."

"S'is morning."

"No."

"S'afta midnight, so izz morning!"

"I know it's after midnight here. That does not make it morning. Because morning doesn't count until after you've had some sleep. Tomorrow, Wisdom."

"Okay….I juss…I wannata say…I love you, Kit, an I wantcha ta be happy. An, an, an I hope he makes you happy, right, and if he doan. I'll beatem up! I'll hire a dozen guys to hold him down an I'll beatem up!"

"That's….sweet. Now, do me a favor. Drink two big glasses of water, take two asprin, and stop the booze for twenty-four hours, okay? I want you to be sober when I talk to you tomorrow."

"'kay. G'nite, Pryde. M'sorry woke you. G'nite."

"Good night," she hung up, and crossed back to bed, climbing under the covers.

"Sorry about that, Piotr. He's not in the best shape right now."

Piotr moved over, and reached for her. "Well, as long as we are awake…"

Kitty giggled.

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The phone rang. Kitty sighed and snuggled closer to Piotr as he picked up the phone. She kissed the nape of his neck.

"Nyet, Wisdom. I will not let you talk to Kitty now. We just got to bed and…stop sniggering…we had a sentinel attack at the school, it's been a long day."

"Why I'm calling. Anyone hurt?"

"No, noone was hurt. Call during the day, Wisdom. You know the lives we lead. You keep calling at night and interrupting our sleep and you are going to get Kitty killed, going into a fight overtired!"

"…y've got a point there. Sorry, mate. I'll stop the juvenile harassment."

"And if you believe that, then I'm the czar of all the Russias."

"Hey, with all the rumors about the Romanovs and your great-gran, you bloody well could be. Good night Russ--Rasputin."

"Good night, Wisdom."

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The phone rang. Piotr took a deep breath. "Wisdom. Are we planning another international incident?"

"Nah. It's just been…been a bloody awful day. How is she?"

Piotr hesitated, listening to the loneliness in the other man's voice, and how quiet he was. Not responding to his first jab in their usual game of verbal sparring. "She's fine. I'm taking good care of her. We just finished dinner, and the weather is nice, so she is out on the terrace, watching the younger students play, and working on her laptop. Lockheed is curled at her feet…" he put down his magazine and crossed to the French doors, looking out at her and painting a portrait of his beloved with words, to share with the other man who loved her too.

End