Disclaimers: All characters belong to Marvel Comics. I'm just having a little fun with them. No money is being exchanged.

AN: This story is unrelated to my other "Get Kitty out of the Giant Bullet" fic, "...But Not Forgotten".

Spoilers for Whedon's run on Astonishing and other recent MU events.

Summary: A rescue 20,000 years in the making...

Plan B

By Kirayoshi

"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff."

Doctor Who, "Blink"

WARNING! WARNING! OBJECT APPROACHING EARTH ORBIT!

Sensors sprung to life on the automated satellite, scanning the distant black between the stars. Electron-telescopes surveyed space methodically, seeking the object that tripped the outer rim sensors. Finally, the primary scope located the source of the disturbance. An enormous cylindrical shape floated smoothly past the orbit of Jupiter at near-light speed, and was now piercing the Asteroid Belt. Within hours it would intercept Earth's orbit.

IDENTIFYING OBJECT...IDENTITY CONFIRMED. OBJECT IS ARTIFACT FROM PLANET DESIGNATED 'BREAKWORLD'. OBJECT COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS 'THE BULLET'.

INTERCEPT ARTIFACT. INSTIGATE PLAN 'B'

Servos groaned into place, mechanisms unused for centuries flexed pneumatic arms, testing responses and performing rapid self-diagnostics. The satellite fired its retro-rockets, dislodging itself from Earth's orbit to plot a parallel course behind the Bullet. Once the satellite's destination was achieved, its primary function was activated.

A powerful tractor beam emitted from the satellite and snagged the bullet, breaking the monolith's trajectory and speed. The beam strained mightily to stop the bullet's momentum and after a few minutes emerged victorious. The bullet, now slowed to a fraction of its former speed, was effectively towed by the satellite towards the Earth, orbiting within the LaGrange point between Earth and Moon.

SCANNING FOR LIFE SIGNS...SCAN COMPLETE, POSITIVE. LIFE SIGNS CONFIRMED. COMMENCE WITH EXTRACTION. SEPARATE ORGANIC MOLECULAR STRUCTURE FROM ALIEN METAL AND TRANSPORT TO LIFE SCIENCES AREA.

The satellite's scanners performed their tasks with programmed efficiency and finesse. Molecular scanners discriminated between the alien metal and the human substance trapped within. Long range transporter beacons drew the molecules from the bullet like iron filings toward a powerful magnet. The beacons collected the organic molecules and painstakingly restructured them in the satellite's life-sciences bay, slowly reforming the original body. The bay's life-support systems blinked into being, flooding the chamber with light, air and heat. An unclothed body lay supine on the diagnostic bed.

RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE. SCANNING FOR LIFE SIGNS...

A thin blue line of light passed over the body, from head to feet, covering every square inch of the body's surface before shutting off.

SUBJECT IS ALIVE AND SLOWLY EMERGING FROM STASIS.

Lungs inflated, almost hesitantly. A heart began beating again, blood coursed through arteries, transferring oxygen to the body. Finally eyes opened, blinking in the unexpected light. A lithe hand reached up to block the light, as a harsh whispered voice asked, "Wh-where am I?"

Kitty Pryde slowly sat up from the bed, expecting every joint and muscle she had to ache in protest. For the last few hours—Days? she thought to herself. I don't even know how long I was trapped,—she had struggled to loosen herself from the strange metal's adamant grip. The act of phasing a mass of metal roughly the size of Manhattan Island through the Earth had completed the cellular damage that her repeatedly phasing through the Breakworld's native elements had started, fusing her molecular structure to the bullet itself. She struggled to free herself, but the molecular bond held her fast, like her body was sinking in a tar pit with no bottom. She couldn't even phase herself free; she had literally become a part of the bullet. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she could struggle no more and allowed herself to sink into the bullet, preparing herself for the end of her life.

Now, she found herself in a small room, white walls, neither doors nor windows, the only visible furniture being the thin table where she was lying. And when she lifted her frame from the bed, the first thing she noticed was how easily she moved, how light she felt. Wherever she was, the cumulative effects of phasing through all that Breakworld metal were no longer an issue. She stretched catlike, arching her back, reveling in the restored flexibility of her body.

The second thing she noticed, once she had stretched, was that she was completely naked.

Feeling somewhat self-conscious at this discovery, Kitty immediately returned to sitting on the table, folding her knees up to her chest in a vain attempt to cover herself. "Uh, hey," Kitty called out. "Is anyone out there? Uh, Scott? Peter? Logan?" After a few moments of silence, she added, "Oh, Peter? I'm completely naked in here. Just in case you were interested." That'll get his attention, she smiled knowingly to herself.

"Voice identification confirmed; Katherine Pryde." A mellifluous artificial voice chimed suddenly. Kitty turned around, hoping to catch sight of a speaker grille. Before she could discern where the voice originated, lights shimmered and shifted before her eyes, like a shower of color cascading in front of her. The lights and colors coalesced quickly, until a three-dimensional holographic image stood before her.

The figure before her sported green hair and lips, and wore a black military jumpsuit, thigh-high boots and a perpetual smirk of condescension. Kitty groaned inwardly; this was the last person she wanted to see at this time.

"Greetings, Katherine," the holographic Abigail Brand announced. "As you've probably figured out by now, I'm not the real Agent Brand but an interactive 3D hologram, programmed to assist you after your retrieval from the Breakworld Bullet. You are currently in an antiseptic clean-room aboard SWORD satellite 274. I trust that you are feeling well, with no ill effects from your fusing with the bullet—"

"Whoa, back up here," Kitty interrupted, and the hologram fell silent and stood unnervingly still, almost at attention. "You're interactive? As in, I ask questions and you'll answer them?"

"That is correct," Brand answered.

"Great," Kitty replied immediately. "Question one, where are my clothes?"

"I apologize," the hologram nodded softly, and Kitty suppressed a smirk; the real Brand couldn't be this polite if the world's safety depended on it. "It took us time, but as you can see, we finally achieved the means to separate your molecular structure from that of the bullet, by transporting all organic molecules from the bullet and reconstituting them in our bio-station. Unfortunately your uniform was composed of unstable molecules, which reacted counter to the transport beam. It was decided to simply transport you naked and provide a change of clothes upon your return." A hiss of imploding air, and a panel slid open on the wall behind Kitty, to the left of the bio-bed. Kitty approached the newly opened space and retrieved a pair of a sports bra and cotton panties, blue jeans, a pastel blue peasant blouse and Birkenstock sandals. "I trust that these will fit perfectly. And don't worry about modesty; I'm a computer program. My only sensors are audio."

"Thanks," Kitty answered, somewhat nonplussed. As she donned her underwear, she asked, "So, is the world safe? I managed to stop the bullet, right?"

"That you did," Brand replied curtly.

"Great," Kitty smiled as she put on her jeans and blouse. "So once I'm dressed, I'll just be off, okay?"

"I can't allow you to leave, Kitty," Brand warned her.

Kitty stopped suddenly as she fastened her left sandal. "Uh, no," she argued as she finished dressing. "I can leave any time I want. You remember phasing right? I mean, my powers still work, don't they?"

"They do, Kitty," Brand answered, "but this room's been sealed, with power dampeners on all walls. You won't be able to phase out."

"Excuse my while I call your bluff, sister," Kitty growled as she strode purposefully toward the nearest wall...and immediately flattened her face against it.

"As I was saying, Kitty," Brand continued, "I need to explain a few things before you can be returned to Earth."

Kitty growled out a string of sub-vocalized curses as she held her left hand over her nose and returned to her seat on the bio-bed. "Fine, Brand. It's your show, for now. But where are the rest of the X-Men?"

"That's one of the things that we need to discuss," Brand responded. Kitty was beginning to regard the holographic program with growing respect; it didn't respond in bland 'if/then' binary responses, but seemed to anticipate her reactions. Clearly she was dealing with some sophisticated programming. Possibly even AI, although she wouldn't be surprised if SWORD had access to such technology.

"To begin with, Kitty," Brand continued, "you should know that you were imprisoned inside the bullet for a long period of time."

"Really?" Kitty mused as she absently adjusted her top. "Just how long? A few months? Years?"

"Millennia," Brand answered flatly. Kitty whipped her head around hard enough to crick her neck at those words. "I must inform you that this is the year 22,317 CE. You've been trapped in the bullet for over twenty thousand years."

Kitty stood stock still, her mouth hanging open as her breath began to catch in ragged gasps. "...no..." the word came out as a faint whisper. "...No...you lying bitch…this is wrong...I was only on that bullet for a few hours. I'm still..." She glanced at her figure briefly. "It was just a few hours. I was trying to pull myself out of the metal..."

"The bullet was travelling away from the Earth at near-light speed," Brand continued. "In this case, Einstein's time dilation theory proves true; you were travelling so quickly that time slowed down significantly for you. A few hours your time turned out to be over twenty millennia on Earth. It was determined that the bullet's trajectory, while initially seeming to be a straight line, in fact curved almost imperceptivity, much like the path of a comet, and that the bullet would essentially orbit the galaxy and intercept Earth's solar system on this year..."

"Oh my God..." Kitty stammered as she took two more ragged breaths. "Everyone I ever knew...Mom...Logan, Kurt, Scott...Peter..." She rocked slowly on her seat, the dizzy sensation in her head threatening to overtake her. "My whole world...gone..." She shook her head and closed her eyes, remembering the meditational techniques that Logan had taught her, willing herself to calm down, to avoid going into complete shock. The Brand hologram remained on standby, silently allowing Kitty to center herself.

She thought back to that night on an alien world, two days—and twenty thousand years—ago, when she and Piotr made love. She prayed briefly that Piotr Rasputin was able to find happiness again in his lifetime. A stream of tears leaked out of her eyes for a moment. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing herself back to a calming state.

"Your loss was felt by many within the superhero community, Kitty," Brand began. "The X-Men placed a memorial statue outside the front door of their headquarters. Right next to the Jean Grey monument. It's quite nice. You'll be glad to know that Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, many of the worlds finest minds put their mental powers to work trying to find a means of breaking you free, and kept in constant contact with the X-Men regarding their progress. Hank McCoy worked long hours with SWORD agents in order to find a means of liberating you. Unfortunately we had other concerns as well. Shortly after your sacrifice, there was the matter of an all-out Skrull invasion."

"Bummer," Kitty muttered, still struggling to recover her wits. She wondered why she wasn't angry, why she didn't scream in rage for the life she had lost, the world she would never see again. It occurred to her that she might be going into shock. She listened intently on the hologram's words, desperate for anything, any clue she could hold onto. After another minute of anguished meditation, Kitty forced herself to speak calmly; "So if I'm stuck in the future, do I get the guided tour or what?"

"I cannot allow you to witness anything from this era," Brand answered. "And you're not 'stuck' in this time period; your thinking is too linear—" Brand gestured to the wall opposite of the 'closet' space, and the entire wall slid open, revealing a darkened room. Brand gestured toward the room, indicating that Kitty was to enter. With a resigned sigh, Kitty stepped tentatively in. As she entered, a gradual illumination flooded the space, revealing a glowing platform, a square roughly two meters per side. "This device was excavated from the remains of Castle Von Doom in Latveria, and will see you safely home."

Kitty pricked her ears suddenly, uncertain if she understood properly. "Home?" Kitty asked, her voice rising in irritation. "What home? My home was lost to me over twenty-thousand years ago."

"And that's the home where I will return you," Brand smirked, the smile of a secret about to be shared. "Or rather, 'when' I will return you." She regarded Kitty as though she were explaining the obvious. Kitty glanced at the platform, and back at Brand again when her words registered.

Latveria...

Doom...

"You guys have Doom's old time machine?" Kitty positively grinned at the thought. Brand simply nodded an affirmative. "Why didn't you say so?" Brand began to speak, but Kitty held up her hand. "I know, 'You didn't ask!' So. Time travel. You sure this gizmo will work?"

"Positive, Kitty," Brand answered. "In fact, it was you who told me it would work."

"I never said anything like that," Kitty protested.

Brand arched an editorial eyebrow at Kitty's comment. "Not yet, from your perspective anyway. Once you return to your time, you and Hank will contact SWORD, insuring that we leave this satellite available at this time to retrieve you."

"So you're able to rescue me," Kitty mused, "because I told you how to rescue me after I was rescued. Oy, I'm gonna need an ibuprofen when I get back to the mansion."

"Temporal mechanics does that to most people," Brand observed. "And you should know that shortly after the Breakworld mission, the X-Men relocated. Their mansion was destroyed—"

"What, again?" Kitty interrupted.

"—And after that," Brand continued without interruption, "they evidently saved the city of San Francisco from an irate hippie-goddess, I don't recall the precise details. At any rate, the mayor of San Francisco was so grateful that she offered the X-Men safe haven, and Governor Schwarzenegger named the X-Men California's official superhero team. Caused quite a stir with the SHRA, as I recall."

"Good," Kitty harrumphed. "Tony Stark's a jerk! So, what do I do?"

"Just stand on the platform and say 'Ready' when you wish to depart. We were able to set the controls of Von Doom's temporal conveyer to within six months of the Breakworld mission. We were unable to fine-tune the machine to allow you to return immediately afterwards."

"Six months, huh?" Kitty commented. "Hope Piotr didn't take it too hard." She stepped gingerly on the platform, and looked down at her feet. "I don't suppose I can tell the X-Men what to expect in the next few centuries or so?"

"You know better than that, Katherine," Brand scolded her in a tone that reminded Kitty a little too much of Emma Frost. "I will say this; whatever trials and hardships you and your friends encounter will be worth it in the end. Your generation of mutants won't be the last. And humans and mutants will finally learn to live in peace."

"That's good to know," Kitty admitted softly. "Thanks Brand. For everything." After a solemn moment, she announced, "Ready."

A blinding light filled the room, prompting Kitty to close her eyes. "There's no place like home," she whispered to herself. "There's no place—"


"—like home, there's no place like—"

Blaring alarm klaxons assaulted Kitty's ears as her eyes suddenly snapped open. The white antiseptic walls of the satellite were replaced by mortised stones. She darted her head around to view her surroundings. A bolted wooden door stood before her, a high arched window stood ten feet above the floor to her left, and beyond the window she distinctly saw a green flag with a black Germanic-looking 'D' embroidered in its center. "Damn!" she muttered to herself. "Shoulda known that the blasted time machine would have landed me here!"

She rushed off the platform and toward the door, only to find her passage blocked by an invisible force field. She held out her hand, feeling her way around the field; it surrounded her at a radius of three feet around, and two feet over her head, and as Kitty had suspected, was phase-resistant.

Before Kitty could react or even utter a suitable curse, the alarm sirens ceased their ear-shattering din, the door unbolted and swung open, and a squad of imposing humanoid figures marched inside with robotic precision, which proved to be surprising accurate as they were truly robots. Kitty shuddered as she observed their metal faces; they closely resembled miniature versions of the Sentinels she and the X-Men had encountered too frequently. The robot troopers surrounded Kitty in uniform formation and stood at parade-rest. After a few seconds, Kitty dared to speak; "So, you're my firing squad?"

"YOU WILL BE SILENT!" the sentry directly in front of her shouted through its speaker-grille. "WE AWAIT OUR MASTER! HE SHALL PASS JUDGMENT ON YOUR TRESPASS!"

"Look, Robo-Rent-a-Cop," Kitty growled at the lead robot, "I'm not here to cause trouble, but I'm ready to get in your grill if I have to. And I mean that literally."

"YOU WILL BE SILENT!"

"Okay, okay!" Kitty shouted. "Man, tough room." She folded her arms across her chest, muttering curses under her breath.

Within one minute, the towering figure of one of the world's last absolute monarchs strode into the room. Piercing eyes regarded her from behind an iron mask, mailed fists stood ready at his sides. Kitty suppressed a smirk as she stared up at the imposing figure before her; absolute ruler of Latveria and one of the most dangerous men in the world he may be, but there was something about Victor Von Doom that always reminded Kitty of Darth Vader. And after the prequels, she thought privately, I just can't take him seriously as a villain anymore. Curse you, George Lucas.

Von Doom glared at the young mutant before him. "Katherine Pryde," he greeted her with a cold cordiality. "To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"

Kitty chuckled with a very slight nervousness. "You mean this isn't Pismo Beach? I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque."

Doom breathed haughtily. "The need for America's superhuman defenders to be flippant has always escaped Doom. But I am still at a loss to explain your presence in my temporal laboratories. Especially considering that, the last time I followed the American news media, you were reported to have been trapped aboard the alien missile that had threatened to obliterate this world some six months ago, after using your formidable powers to render the entire mass of metal intangible."

"Yeah, don't remind me, VD," Kitty quipped. If her jibes had any effect on Doctor Doom, his impassive iron mask showed no sign of recognition. "I still got a headache wrapping my brain around that concept. Look, here's the set-up; the bullet's currently in a long-range orbit around the Milky Way galaxy and will return to the Solar System in 20,000 years, give or take the odd century. Kinda like Halley's Comet, only a longer trip. At that time, a satellite belonging to SWORD will separate my molecular structure, um, did separate my molecular structure—you ever have that problem with verb tenses after time travel, Doom? Oh well, long story short, SWORD pulled me out, set me on their time machine, and I guess your machine was at the other end of the trip. And here I am. End of story."

Doom stood before Kitty with oaken stillness for five agonizing seconds. He then walked toward a control panel on the wall beside the temporal conveyer and examined the device. "The readout counter on my time-transport," Doom observed, "indicates that it was used within the last five minutes, and the point of departure was the year 22,317 CE." Turning back to regard Kitty, he announced, "I accept the validity of your explanation."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Kitty replied. "So, any objection if I just say my goodbyes and leave?" She stepped forward, only to be blocked by two sentry-bots.

"You will remain as a guest for the time being, Katherine," Doom intoned, "while my private plane refuels. After which, you shall be escorted to Latveria International Airport, where my jet is waiting to escort you to New York."

"Well, that's right big of you, Doom," Kitty exhaled in relieved surprise. "Only could you make that San Francisco? I understand that the X-Men relocated while I was away."

Doom nodded in a courtly manner. "As you wish. All Latveria, to say nothing of the world, owes you a great debt for your sacrifice. And Doom always pays his debts. Guards, dismissed." Doom's robotic enforcers snapped to attention and marched off. "Now then, Miss Pryde," Doom greeted Kitty almost pleasantly. "Perhaps we can retire to the castle kitchen. My personal chef is, naturally, trained at the Institute of Cordon Bleu, and I have no doubt that you are famished after your journey through time."

"You wouldn't happen to have any vegetarian lasagna, would you?" Kitty requested.

"Castle Doom recently entertained a delegation from Italy," Doom announced, "and I do believe I have some left over in the larder."

"Doctor Doom," Kitty smiled broadly, "you're a real stand-up type of guy. Don't let anyone tell you you're a megalomaniac with a Napoleon complex."

"Have a care," Doom growled beneath his mask. "Just because Doom regards himself in your debt, that does not grant you license to take liberties."

Kitty swallowed hard and said nothing else on the way to the kitchen.


The nightmare was the same as before.

He saw her, his beloved, reaching out for him desperately, pleading to be saved. But when he reached for her hand, it proved as immaterial as air. The missile sped away from him, taking his love away from him forever, and all he could do is cry out her name; "KATYA!"

Piotr awoke, his face awash with sweat, his heart hammering in his chest. He forced himself to breath deeply, to steady his heartbeat. He forlornly turned his head to the empty space on the right side of his bed. She only shared his bed the one night, the one fantastic night, before Cassandra Nova, before Breakworld. Before he lost her. And he still could not bring himself to sleep in the center of his bed. That spot was reserved for her. For Katya. He gazed once more at the empty space next to him and fought the urge to weep yet again.

"I'm glad that you finally chose to rejoin the living, Peter," Emma Frost's cultured voice chimed in his head, prompting him to yank a pillow over his head and pull it around his ears in a futile gesture to drown out the voice. "Now, would you be a lamb and join us in the living room? We're having a team meeting, and you really should attend."

Piotr groaned despondently as he willed his tired form out of his lonely bed. "As you wish, your highness!" he sent back, his contempt for the former White Queen unmasked. As he reset the mental shields that Professor Xavier trained him to use from the first day he joined the X-Men, Piotr scolded himself for snapping at Emma. After all, she was there for Kitty during those last moments as Kitty lay imprisoned on that missile. She shed tears for her. Which put her one up on Scott, as far as Piotr was concerned.

After a brief shower and cursory shave, Piotr put on an old pair of cargo pants and a Hard Rock Café t-shirt that Kurt had given him as a birthday present. After putting on socks and shoes, Piotr trod downstairs to the main living room. As he approached the entrance, he heard the voices of his fellow X-Men, talking animatedly. Logan was actually laughing, a rare occurrence in itself. Finally, Piotr entered the living room...and stopped dead in his tracks.

She was seated in the Victorian wing-back chair, the one Emma usually reserved for herself. Emma and Scott were seated on the chaise lounge to her left, while Ororo stood at her right. Kurt, Hank, Logan, Allyson, Hisako and the other students were gathered around her, some sitting, some standing, all listening in rapt attention as she recounted her adventures. He could hear her speaking, but could scarcely believe that it was her voice that spoke; "—say this for Doctor Doom, he may be a totalitarian despot with dreams of world conquest, but he sets a pretty decent table. Anyway, he gave me a lift back to the states, I called up Logan on his cell and he picked me up at SFO and—"

"Katya?"

He didn't want to speak. He feared to even whisper her name, lest the spell be broken and this turn out to be no more than another dream. But he had to know. He had to know the truth.

All heads turned toward the entrance, to see the stunned figure of Piotr Rasputin standing in the doorway, his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide and staring. Kurt chuckled slightly while Logan nodded, fully understanding the warring emotions within the young artist. Ororo nudged the young woman in the Victorian wing-back, whispering; "Go to him, Kitten." She obliged, rising from her seat and approaching Piotr.

She reached her hand up toward Piotr's face, cupping his cheek. Instinctively he enclosed his huge hand around her small hand, letting their fingers interlock. "Katya," he breathed, awed by this miracle—for he knew no other word for it. "I'm afraid to close my eyes, to even blink, lest you disappear again."

Kitty regarded Piotr with a watery smile. She clasped her free hand around his as she spoke. "I feel your hand in mine, Peter," she declared, "and I become certain that I am not a ghost." She saw the tears flowing from his eyes, and felt a familiar lump forming in her throat. "You okay, Peter?" she asked him, a slight smile tugging at her lips. "I'm not crowding you, am I?"

The emotional dam burst, and Piotr started laughing and crying at the same time. "No, Katya!" he exalted, grabbing her in his arms and lifting her off the ground. "You could never crowd me nearly enough!" Kitty flung her arms around Piotr's neck, and their lips joined in a searing kiss. The world around them faded from view, if only for an instant, allowing two lovers, once parted by countless light years, now not even a millimeter apart, to have a long-deserved reunion.

The sound of applause from their fellow X-Men gradually brought their feet back to the ground. They turned their heads to the others, who applauded vigorously; glad to see that one of their own somehow managed to return to them. Scott then turned to the others and announced, "Let's let Peter and Kitty have a few days to themselves, guys. If we absolutely have to, we can save the world without them for awhile. Now, the rest of us have business to attend to, so let's away." He made pushing gestures to the other assembled mutants, indicating that they should give the reunited lovers some privacy. They gradually filed past Piotr and Kitty, each of them stopping briefly to pay their respects. Hugs were exchanged, words of welcome and gratitude were spoken, Emma embraced Kitty warmly, almost crying on her shoulder for a second, before pulling away, regaining her ice-queen composure and warning Kitty, "If you tell anyone, I'll deny it." Kitty vowed solemnly that Emma's secret would be safe with her. Emma nodded in satisfaction before leaving to join Scott.

Finally, Kitty and Piotr were the only two people left in the living room. His arms still encompassed her waist while her arms still draped over his shoulders, her hands playing with the hair on the back of his head. "I thought I'd lost you forever, Katya."

"You just keep loving me, Peter," Kitty promised, her lips straying over Piotr's left ear, "you'll never lose me. I love you so much, Big Guy."

"And I love you, my Katya." Piotr loosened his embrace slightly, prompting a slight pout on Kitty's lips. "Now, shall I show you around our new headquarters? This is a very nice place actually."

"Maybe later, Peter," Kitty demurred, faint embers glowing in her hooded eyes. "Right now, there's only one room I want to see." She winked at Piotr, a sultry smile playing at her lips.

A feral grin crossed Piotr's face. "As you wish, my Katya." Piotr suddenly lifted Kitty in his arms, cradling her legs with his right arm beneath his knees. Kitty whooped with surprise and clung tighter to Piotr, her arms never losing their grip around his neck. "I believe a proper welcome is in order," he breathed, his own eyes darkening with desire.

Kitty affixed Piotr's eyes with a canary-swallowing grin. "Whoof!" she growled before leaning forward, meeting his lips with her own.

Later Kitty would contact Abigail Brand and inform her of what SWORD must do in twenty-thousand years. Later she would again take her place as a member of the X-Men. Later she would rededicate herself to the dream of peace between humans and mutants, while combating those who dream of conquest or genocide. Later she would help fulfill the future that the Brand hologram promised.

But for now, the only future that mattered was the man who was taking her into his bedroom for a passionate afternoon of lovemaking. And the love which twenty millennia and countless light years could not sever.

Kitty Pryde was finally home.