Disclaimer: Marvel owns 'em, I don't. Trust me, you think I'd have let GSAXM end the way it did if I owned 'em? I don't think so!
Rating: PG for now.
Author's note: The following is a little bromide for the sour stomach left by the events of Joss Whedon's final X-Men arc. Spoilers, natch. Also some speculation regarding post-Messiah Complex stories. Word is that Magneto may be regaining his powers, so I'll work that in.
Honestly I haven't thought past the first chapter. Any ideas would be welcome.
Summary: He thought that his teammates had abandoned her. He was wrong. Now Piotr Rasputin rejoins the X-Men for one final mission. For those who were lost. For Katya.
…But Not Forgotten
Love is Not a Victory March
"Maybe I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah --Leonard Cohen (covered by Rufus Wainright)
--Leonard Cohen (covered by Rufus Wainright)
He remembered the last time he ate, at a White Castle some seventy miles behind him. He didn't recall what the hamburger tasted like. He didn't care. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't even know what state he was in. Two days ago, he passed a sign that stated 20 miles to Mount Rushmore. So he was in South Dakota two days ago. That was the last time he bothered to check.
Which didn't bother him at all. He had no place he desired to be.
No, he mentally corrected himself. He did have one place he wanted to be. But that place was denied him.
That place was distancing itself from the Earth at near-light speed, and getting further every day.
And Scott just sat there, unmoved. All he would do was erect a statue at their headquarters, a monument to a heroine, and carry on as though she never once entered the Xavier Institute.
He almost wished he wasn't an atheist. He would have loved to have told Scott to go to Hell and meant it.
Kitty sacrificed everything to save the world. And he didn't even know if she was alive or dead. That's what truly galled him, the not knowing. Death would have at least brought closure. The promise of a reunion in another life. Again, if only he believed in such things...
He remained with the X-Men out of duty. He stood with his teammates during the hunt for the first mutant baby to be born since the terrible events referred to as M-Day. His encounter with Omega Red later hammered home the terrible truth that he no longer had a home in his native Russia. He rejoined the team when Scott relocated them to San Francisco. He joined the army of Earth's heroes against the Skrull invasion. And during that time, he reined in his emotions behind a wall of iron resolve.
But even his natural stoicism could only last so far. Every day brought small reminders of the love lost to him. A whiff of perfume, a favorite song on the radio, the sight of young lovers strolling along Fisherman's Wharf. He didn't even remember what it was that finally broke down the wall around his emotions, all he could remember was the wreckage of his room, and being restrained by Logan, Hank and Hisako. When Scott reprimanded him for his 'tantrum', he finally realized, with a shattering finality, that he could no longer remain with the X-Men. Especially a team being led by the man who essentially gave her up for dead without so much as an inquiry. His only response was a rapid fist (mercifully unarmored) to Scott's cheek, and the snarled, hate-filled words, "Consider that my resignation!"
Scott didn't even try to save her. That's what angered him above all else. He didn't even try. Scott kept saying that there was no way that they would be able to succeed. In a strange way, that almost didn't matter to Piotr. Scott didn't have to succeed. Piotr would have forgiven him if he had just tried.
So Piotr Rasputin departed from the Xavier Institute in an old van that Logan had given him as a birthday present years ago. He took with him some clothing, the few sticks of furniture he hadn't destroyed and his art supplies. He had spoken his farewells to Logan, who only nodded. He burned his bridges behind him, and never looked back.
That was two weeks ago. His van had become a makeshift home. He still had some money in his checking account from the sale of some of his paintings during his Piotr Nicholas period, so he could still live fairly comfortably. Not that it mattered much to him.
His painting supplies hadn't been unpacked once. He doubted that they would ever be unpacked.
Why should they? His muse had left him.
He glanced at his watch. Five fifty-three. It would be getting toward dinner time soon. Not that Piotr ever felt anything like appetite. He reminded himself to feed at regular intervals, to maintain his reserves. He had no particular desire to die. Even if he had no purpose in living.
Piotr took a cursory glance out the window to locate the next offramp from the highway--
Only to find nothing but blue sky, dotted with clouds, ahead of him. He glanced to the side, only to find more blue sky. He rolled down the window and peered out.
The van was hovering over the highway, some ten feet from the asphalt, the tires spinning ineffectively in the air.
"Magneto," he growled, "put me down now!"
"With relief," a familiar European voice called out from beneath the van. "I'd been holding your vehicle aloft for some time, I was wondering when you'd notice." Piotr cut off the engine as the van hovered briefly before slowly descending to the shoulder of the highway.
"I'll only warn you once," he muttered to his old adversary as he slowly removed himself from the van. "I don't wish to start a fight, but I will finish one."
"I'm not here to fight, my old friend," Erik answered, his voice almost grandfatherly, but still edged with the resolve that Piotr remembered the X-Men's nemesis having. "Indeed, I may be of service to you, if you'll hear me out."
"I see your powers are slowly returning, Erik," Piotr observed noncommittally. He addressed his former nemesis by his first name, hoping to maintain some civility. He maintained his flesh-and-blood form; if Magneto was again in full possession of his powers over magnetism, it would be safer to not face him in metal form.
Erik Lensherr smiled sadly at the former X-Man. "I am not quite the man I once was, Piotr," he answered cordially. "But 'tis enough 'twill serve. But please relax, we are no longer enemies."
"Many things are different, old friend," another voice greeted Piotr from behind. Piotr spun around, and found himself facing a blue-furred ally from his past. Gray catlike eyes peered out warmly from a leonine nose. "But there's one thing that hasn't changed. We still look after our own."
"Do you, Hank?" Piotr shouted, his patience worn to the nub. "What of Katya? When's the last time you checked in on her?"
"That, Peter," Hank McCoy answered, "is why we're here." Without another word, Hank pulled out a small cell-phone and flipped it open. "Transporter team," he spoke with mock-sweetness into the phone, "lock in on my signal. Three to beam up." Closing the cellular, he flashed a toothy grin, adding, "I always wanted to say that."
Before Piotr could protest, a shaft of iridescent energy surrounded his body. His vision faded and blurred as his molecular structure drifted apart, traveling along the beam to its point of origin.
"Four-ninety-eight—Four-ninety-nine—" she grunted out each number as the holographic shapes flew past her, targeting each one with her light pistol, sqeezing off shots with practiced ease. "Five-hundred!" With a victorious smile, she powered down the pistol, exited the targeting range and grabbed a towel and patted herself dry. She regarded herself in the mirror, locks of green hair plastered to her brow, matted with sweat. Nothing like taking out five-hundred holographic "clay pigeons" to start a day, she thought to herself.
Her daily target practice finished, Agent Brand returned to her office, just as the comm-alert flashed on her desk. She groaned inwardly; she suspected the reason for the page. Tapping her commlink key, she announced brusquely; "Brand. What's the bad news?"
"Dr. McCoy and Mr. Lensherr have arrived, Brand," an aristocratic female voice announced, "with Piotr. Who, I should add, is threatening to throttle my boyfriend even as we speak." Crashing sounds in the background confirmed that the newly-arrived "guest" was not pleased with his current situation.
"Understood, Frost," Brand answered. "I'll be down in ten seconds. Restrain him until I get there. I just need to collect someone. Brand out." She rushed out the door to confront her unwilling passenger.
Emma Frost turned back toward the enraged Russian, who wore a scowl on his metal face that could intimidate Logan. "I never thought that Scott would stoop to kidnapping," he glowered. "I don't care where you've taken me. If you don't return me, I'll bring this entire building down around your ears!"
"I'd advise agaist that," she answered, "as we're currently in geo-stationary orbit over the Earth, in SWORD's satallite headquarters." Piotr's face contorted further in a mask of cold anger that Emma had only seen once before, when he nearly bludgeoned the alien Ord to death for his imprisonment in Benetech. "Rage," he screamed then in voice of twisted metal, "I am made of RAGE!" She realized that she needed to diffuse the situation quickly. "Peter," she spoke as soothingly as she could as she shifted to her diamond-form, "I appreciate that you're upset. But there is a reason for us bringing you here, if you would please sit down and listen—"
Piotr lunged at her, knocking her onto the ground and grabbing her wrists with his hands, attempting to pin her to the floor. "You and Scott seem to be the ones who don't listen!" he bellowed. "I told you never to contact me again! All I want is to be left alone!"
"Typical," Emma snarled as she tensed her limbs, leveraging herself as she threw Piotr's weight off of her. "Thinking with your fists as usual. It's a good thing SWORD had the sense to send me down first." Rolling neatly to the side, she sprung to her feet and assumed a defensive posture against Piotr. "Always wondered if organic diamond could out-muscle organic steel."
"Stay out of my way, bitch," Piotr glared hard at Emma, his mailed fist reflecting the dim light of the chamber. "Diamond can still shatter!"
"And steel can still melt," Agent Brand's voice announced from the airlock behind him. Piotr turned around and faced Agent Brand, her eyes shielded by green-tinted glasses, her hands radiating enough heat to damage even Piotr's metal form. "Stand down, Rasputin. We just brought you here to talk."
Piotr regarded the two women before him. Each one powerful in her own right, he certainly didn't wish to antagonize them at the same time. He reverted back to flesh and blood. "And if I don't like what you have to say?" he asked, barely confining the rage in his voice.
"Then I'm sure we'd all be surprised," a warm, gentle voice trilled from behind Abigail Brand. A small lavender shape leapt upward, gliding on leathern wings toward Piotr, stopping just in front of him. Yellow eyes shone with wisdom and a faint merriment from behind his flat snout. "It is good to see you again, Peter."
The voice was warm and wise, oddly soothing. It reminded Piotr of actor Liam Neeson in the role of Aslan from the Narnia movies. Not at all the voice he imagined the being that hovered in front of him to possess.
"Lockheed?" he asked. "What are you doing here? And talking? You never talked before!"
"Oh I've talked before, Peter," Lockheed replied, and the words, Piotr noticed, were more sensed than heard. Like telepathic contact with Professor Xavier or Emma Frost, but not quite. "Just ask Wisdom. Of course then it was a great strain, and my voice was an ugly hoarse rasp." Lockheed perched gently on Piotr's shoulder, chuckling slightly. "Still, his expression was worth the pain in my throat."
"And you are still working for SWORD?" Piotr's voice took on an accusing tone.
"With, my friend," Lockheed explained, "not for. I needed their services, and they needed me to observe your team for them. Their psychics were well aware that Ord and the Breakworld were not done with the X-Men yet. I only agreed to their terms because it would allow me to protect Kitty."
Piotr glowered at the dragon on his shoulder, but the set in Lockheed's frame, and the way he lowered his head, indicated to the young man that the dragon was truly penitent, that he could trust Lockheed. "I wasn't able to offer my condolences," Lockheed continued, his voice sadder, more serious. "I was as connected to her as you were. She was the first living thing that I encountered after I was hatched. Her face became imprinted in my mind. That's why I seldom left her side ever since then."
"Thank you," Piotr answered, a deep resigned sorrow filling his voice. "But why was I brought here? Why didn't Scott respect my wishes to be left alone?"
"Because he knew, as did I," Emma interjected, "that if we went forward with this mission without you, you would have been even more furious."
Piotr started to speak, to question Emma's words, but found his thoughts lodged in his throat. He couldn't help but sense something akin to hope in Emma's voice. He began to grow dizzy with anticipation. Was she saying…
Lockheed craned his sinuous neck around so that he could look directly into his eyes. "We found her, Peter," he announced. "We found Kitty. She's alive. And we're bringing her back home."