Stepping Stones

A Spider-Man/Colossus Team-Up

By The Odd Little Turtle Named Froggie

(Marvel owns the characters. I, sadly, do not. Not making a profit, but input is nice. I make no claim to the goodies that others have created for my sole enjoyment including but not limited to the Star Wars references.

Same as before: Kiotr AU. No continuity, No BND/OMD/Back in Black, No secret wars, no messiah babies, No Limbo, and No time travel (but as you will see, the timeline jumps around). Villains have been Yahtzeed in—that is, shaken, stirred and thrown into the mix.

Special thanks goes to Author376 for all the great advice and back and forth comments, and to everyone at the LiveJournal Kiotr Community for the encouraging words/suggestions/etc. The alternative milk carton scene can also be found there.

Input is always welcomed and appreciated.)

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Chapter 1

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8 Years Ago…

January 14, 1982

11:42 pm

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Piotr Rasputin's large square hands shook with anxiety as his blue eyes took in the small crumpled white envelope that was specifically addressed to him. The postal service had really done a number on it, one of the corners was turned down and it looked as though an animal might have buried it before someone decided that it needed to be delivered.

The return address made his belly clench, and a broad smile stretched his lips exposing white teeth:

Kitty Pryde

c/o Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters

1407 Graymalkin Lane

Salem Center

New York

She wrote, he thought in awe, his heart kicking, just as she said she would. It wasn't that he doubted that the X-Man called Shadowcat would tell him something that she wasn't going to do. It was that she'd chosen him—a peasant, a farmhand, a construction worker—to correspond with. She was a beautiful young superhero—albeit an outlaw, but as far as he was concerned it was only a matter of semantics. Piotr didn't consider himself to be a superhero. He only helped Spider-Man in between working two jobs—one a dishwasher at an upscale restaurant, the other a steel fixer for a local construction company—and attending nightly classes finishing up his GED.

When he'd first come to America at the age of 16, the young Russian made the mistake of going directly to work to support his family back in Russia and not worrying about an education other than learning English. It was not until he had been passed up for a promotion with better pay because of his age and lack of schooling that he had immediately enrolled at the local trade school. Next year he was enrolling in an actual college to get a degree. Piotr didn't really care what kind of degree it was, just as long as the pay was good after he got out of college.

Piotr's powerful, well muscled body moved with easy grace across the small apartment to the kitchen area. He put the rest of the mail on the counter, ignoring the fact that there was currently something sticky on its surface and the electric bill was the letter on the bottom of the pile. Tossing his keys onto the coffee table and pulling his brown coat off his broad shoulders, Piotr never took his blue eyes off the letter and once he had everything settled, he studied the envelope closer. There was a Star Wars sticker on the back, over the flap like a seal of some sort. "May the Force be with you," it read. Below the seal was scrawled in neat looping letters: "Photos Enclosed. Do NOT Bend!" The envelope was anything but not bent. He hoped the photos were still intact.

He sat down at the stool of his drafting table and carefully opened badly mangled envelope, removing the letter inside then setting aside the photos for later. The same looping lettering made up his letter from the teenager he had met a week ago:

"Dear Piotr,

"I am so excited we got a chance to meet! I have been reading about you and Spider-Man in the Daily Bugle since I became an X-Man. It is too cool that I got to talk with a celebrity, even if you are considered an outlaw and dangerous. I can live with outlaw and I can live with danger. It's exciting. And I think it's great that we have the outlaw status and the fact that we're both mutants as a common denominator between us. Say, have you ever been to space? Maybe we could have a cool adventure like Luke and Leia!

"So, you're from Russia right? I'm from Deerfield, Illinois. I'm Jewish. What brought you to America? Do you have any family here? What's Russia like? I think your English is great. I know I said so before, but I just wanted you to read it to confirm it. There are so many colloquialisms in the English language that, I'm sure, most Americans get confused on, too. So don't worry about the slip up when we first talked.

"When is your birthday? Mine is June 1st. I'll be sixteen. I think that my teammates are going to throw a surprise party, but I'm not sure. I've got to use my ninja skills and find out more information. It's kind of neat being a ninja who can walk through walls. It's too bad that I had to learn to be the ninja I am the way I did, but I won't bore you with the icky details.

"I thanked you before, but I'll do it again. Thanks (and Spider-Man, too) for coming to our rescue and giving us the extra muscle. I got an eyeful! Cyclops says that, had it not been for your abilities, Dr. Doom and his Doom-bot army might have actually won and then he would have become a big threat to New York and possibly the world. You have no idea how much we appreciate it. And I got an A on my physics exam thanks to the neat stuff I learned and saw when you grabbed that cable and used yourself as an electrical conduit. Professor X was really impressed! Oh, and tell Spider-Man that I'm glad I got a chance to meet and talk with him too. He seems a pretty decent super hero.

"Well, anyway, I feel like I'm rambling, but it's nice to have someone other than the X-babies New Mutants to talk to. Or rather write to. I hope you write back soon. I am totally looking forward to reading letters from you. I hope you don't forget me. I would really love to be friends.

"Sincerely yours,

"Katherine "Kitty" Pryde
"AKA Shadowcat of the X-men

"P.S. Enclosed you will find three photos. The first is my ninth grade school picture (I look like a dork) that I've also sent to my parents. The second is a sneak picture taken by Ororo (that's Storm, by the way) of me playing a trick on my fellow students, Sam and Doug (Cannonball and Cypher). And the third is a group picture of the X-men and X-Babies New Mutants for the school year book last year. I wrote on the backs so you know which ones are which.

"Bye,

"Kitty

"P.S.S. Please don't forget to write. Remember, you promised to keep in touch!

"Bye again,

"Kitty"

Piotr reread the letter twice, looking again at the neatly looped printing and how she signed her name slightly different all three times she signed off. Giving a happy sigh that turned into a yawn, he sorted through the photos.

The first photo, was as Kitty had said. It was a simple school photograph of the teenager sitting in front of a gray backdrop. She had a lovely heart-shaped face with full lips that were smiling broadly; her nose was straight, short and charming; and her head was capped in a mass of thick dark hair that hung in ringlets over her shoulders. It was her eyes that he paid the most attention to, however. They were a tawny shade of brown flecked with just enough green that made them more hazel than brown. He studied her face a moment before flipping the wallet-sized picture over to read the back.

"To: Piotr

"From: Kitty

"Katherine Pryde, age 15, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Ninth Grade."

He put the photo in his wallet for safe keeping and picked up the next photograph. This one featured a laughing Kitty and two blonde boys. Piotr's heart did flip wondering if either of the two boys had stolen her heart yet. A sudden inadequacy poured over him as he studied the picture. Kitty, who was so much smaller than either of the two boys, had her hand over her mouth and one over her stomach, obviously laughing loudly and heartily. Piotr grinned at the mirthful expression on her face. The first boy, the tallest and skinniest of the two, had a deep blush on his slender face and a hand in his flaxen hair. The other boy, who looked somewhat plump in the picture, looked scandalized, his hands out, his feet akimbo. Piotr turned the picture over to read more of Kitty's neatly looped lettering, wondering what word she had crossed out before New Mutants; all he could make out were the letters 'X' and 'B'.

"Sam, Doug and me playing pranks on each other. Ororo snapped the picture from the front door. Sam's the co-leader of the New Mutants and Doug is the field tech. Doug's lost weight since then. He has regular workouts in the danger room now."

Piotr had no idea what a danger room was, but put the thought aside as he did the picture.

The third and final picture was the group picture. He recognized the X-men immediately. He assumed the younger looking mutants in the photograph were the New Mutants Kitty had referred to as the two boys from the prior picture stood grinning with them. Kitty sat at Professor Xavier's feet, hugging her knees. She was in a matching New Mutants uniform. A Latino boy was sitting near her giving her rabbit ears. The back read, "This shot was taken last year for the year book. The professor put me on the New Mutants training team for a semester and I couldn't use my individual uniform.

"X-men: Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Thunderbird, Banshee, Nightcrawler, Havok, Polaris, Rogue, Wolverine.

"Prof. X.

"New Mutants: me, Richter, Cannonball, Psyche, Cypher, Wolfsbane, Warlock, Sunspot, Magma"

Piotr studied the two teams noting the differences of the faces and uniforms. These are superheroes, he thought. They are called outlaws like Peter and I are.

He stood and grabbed some paper from his roommate's desk and sat back down to write Kitty a letter back. Within minutes after he began to write, Piotr had fallen asleep in his chair as the long day had finally caught up with him.

###

January 15, 1982

12:33 am

Peter Parker trudged up the stairs to his apartment, the steps creaking under his weight. After two jobs, three science and math classes, and two foiled robberies that day, he was exhausted. For two reasons, he prayed that his roommate, Piotr Rasputin was sleeping. First, Peter didn't want Piotr to feel guilty that he'd missed helping out on catching the thieves. Piotr always seemed to carry the guilt if he couldn't be there when people needed him. Second, Piotr had been googley-eyed all week since meeting the rogue group of outlaws who called themselves the X-men. Peter was not looking forward to another conversation regarding their adventure seven days ago.

It wasn't because he and Piotr had helped foil the nefarious plot of Dr. Doom while the Fantastic Four were nowhere to be found. And it wasn't because Cyclops, the X-men's field leader had offered Piotr to join the X-men. It was because Piotr was completely smitten with their youngest teammate, Shadowcat. Yeah, she was cute and witty and brave, but, frankly, Peter was tired of hearing how Shadowcat had used her mutant abilities to keep the civilians safe from falling debris or how her eyes lit up when she talked or how the sun made the auburn of her brown curls stand out. It was disgustingly cute how Piotr suddenly was head over heels for a girl he'd only just met. They couldn't talk about anything without Piotr bringing up Shadowcat. Sheesh.

Just once in the seven days since Dr. Doom's Doom-bots had ravaged New York, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, wanted to have a full night's rest and not hear anything that anything to do with Shadowcat.

Peter took the last step wincing as it creaked louder than the rest and fiddled in his pocket for the keys to the apartment. It was late and Peter feared the nosy woman across the hall, Mrs. Moglia, would be sticking her long nose out her key hole, just sniffing for something to complain about. He and Piotr tried to be as quiet as possible. Both worked two jobs and both went to school. They also both were crime fighters and the Daily Bugle usually had a field day smearing them—but thankfully, Mrs. Moglia didn't know that. She thought they were just two bachelors. And she let them know, at every opportunity she found, exactly how she felt about them.

As quietly as he could, he slipped the key into the slot, turned and pushed the door open. He heaved a sigh once he was on the other side, and the door was shut and bolted back behind him.

The apartment was dimly lit, only the kitchenette light and a small lamp on the side table near the sofa were on. He could see the hulking form of his roommate hunched over his drafting table on what was termed "Piotr's side" of the tiny apartment. It was the only part of the apartment, besides Piotr's room that was neat.

Not asleep. Great.

"Hiya, Pete!" Peter called and, to his astonishment, Piotr jumped, his head swinging up, and he transformed into his metal form, completely shredding his clothing as his body gained mass and height with the transformation. Completely covered in organic steel, the new weight of the man made the wooden chair buckle and splinter and the mutant called Colossus was suddenly on his shiny metal butt with a loud thud. Peter winced, thinking of their neighbors below and the probable cracks in their ceiling now.

Piotr grunted from his new-found position before picking himself up.

"Hard day at work?" Peter asked as he headed towards the light of the kitchenette, ignoring his now-nude and shiny friend. He tossed his jacket on the sofa on his way and grabbed the mail on the counter, dropping it instantly, startled by the stickiness on the bottom. He prodded it gently with a fork from the sink, noting the brown substance stuck to the electric bill and briefly wondered if he should give a sample to Doc Sampson for testing. One never knew these days.

"Da." Piotr scooped up the scraps of his clothing and splinters of the chair walking to the kitchen to deposit them in the garbage can as Peter opened the fridge. Spotting the milk, he nabbed it and took a long quaff from the carton, earning him a scowl from his shiny metal roommate.

"Must you do that?" Piotr inquired dusting off his hands over the garbage can.

"What?" Peter asked, slashed a hand across his lips catching the remaining moisture. "You do it too."

Piotr crossed his arms, hands resting on his large biceps, stared down at his roommate, the metal of his face deepening his frown. "I do not."

Peter grinned. "Do to." He swished the last of the milk around like he was sampling brandy.

"Do not."

"Do so."

"Nyet."

"Yup," Peter nodded then added before Piotr could object, "Times infinity." He put the carton back to his lips, earning him a deeper frown from the much larger man. He finished the milk and tossed it in the garbage can, but the can was so full that the carton bouncing off the top caused an avalanche of trash onto the linoleum floor. Both men groaned, eying the offending garbage volcano with distaste.

Piotr reached under the cabinet and withdrew a black garbage bag. Handing it to his roommate, he turned on his heel and strode to his bedroom intent on powering down and getting into his pajamas.

"You know," Peter called even as he began collecting the mess of wood, fabric, cans, bottles and moldy junk, "had you not crushed the chair, the garbage wouldn't have overflowed."

Piotr snorted. "Had you taken out the trash on your designated day, the crushed chair would have fit," he shot back over his shoulder even as he allowed his body to relax, his muscles unclenching as he reverted back to flesh and blood. He took a deep breath and gave a mighty yawn, fishing in his dresser for his yellow pajama set and a pair of underwear.

As he listened to his friend grumble and the rustle of the plastic, a small smile of satisfaction spread across his face as he slipped into his underwear and pajama bottoms. He caught his reflection in the mirror above the dresser, ran a hand through his messy black hair even as he studied himself. Fatigue had settled in pockets under his blue eyes and he had a shadow of a beard, making his face look more gaunt than usual.

He shrugged on his pajama top his thick fingers pausing over the buttons as his eyes flickered over the only image he had been able to salvage from his destroyed apartment. It was the grainy photograph of his baby sister, Illyana, smiling sweetly as their cousin, Konstantin Mishchenko, snapped the picture just before they left the Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik with the other defectors. He had so wanted to bring his sister with him, but the route had been too treacherous for the four year old, and even Piotr had nearly died of starvation aboard the cargo ship that had snuck them out of the country. Had the second mate not been so kind to his passengers, Piotr was positive that they would have perished.

He sighed, brushing the tip of his finger with his lips and then pressing it to the picture. "Good night, Little Snowflake," he whispered knowing she was no longer four years old but soon to be eight. Her birthday was in a few weeks. He had already bought the card he intended to mail her along with all of his earnings this quarter from his dishwashing job. He had to be careful sending letters home; he was not certain if the mail was checked by the KGB because he was mailing packages from the United States so he sent the money at random intervals. The last letter he received from his parents had told him that they were able to purchase a new tractor with the money and that the last winter was not as harsh as it had been, but he was still careful.

He walked back into the living room intent on finishing his letter to Kitty, saw Peter climbing back through the window from dumping the trash off the fire escape and into the dumpster below.

"Damn, is it cold outside," he complained, rubbing his arms and then slamming the window shut. He opened his mouth to protest when Piotr picked up his paper and some pictures and sat at his desk, but thought better of it. He didn't want his chair to be splinters in the trash.

"Kitty wrote," Piotr said with a smile.

"Goodie," Peter said under his breath, but smiled back and cheerfully intoned, "that's great, Pete. Y'know that's probably illegal 'cause of her age and everything, right?"

Piotr's smile didn't falter as it had the first time Peter had suggested the age difference. "As you say. I see nothing wrong with maintaining a correspondence. Here. Read."

Peter sighed and took the letter from his friend.

###

January 19, 1982

6:38 pm

Kitty put down her pen, closed her physics book and took off her glasses. Her physics course at Columbia University was killing her on top of advanced ninth grade studies, saving the world, ballet class, and computer programming lessons she, Hank and Doug were giving the students on the weekends. She couldn't understand why her parents didn't just let her graduate early and allow her to enroll full time in college. It wasn't like she was going to party all the time. She was a superhero with a secret identity. The teenager knew that she would be too busy getting others out of trouble than getting herself into trouble. Besides, Kitty didn't just want to take physics and genetics courses, which were all that were available, since those were the only courses being personally taught by Professor Xavier. She wanted to attend Columbia University's recently renamed School of International and Public Affairs. And she couldn't while still enrolled in high school. Kitty wanted to be the first-ever mutant ambassador to the U.N.

"Man, I'm beat," she murmured, pinching her nose.

She sighed dramatically. "All of this for what?" she lamented passionately. It bugged her to no end that her parents thought that since she was genius, she had to be a doctor, and she had to graduate from high school when she was eighteen. Well, she would show them. She hadn't quite figured out the complete plan, but she was getting there. "When will I ever need this? When will this end?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Pun'kin," Logan said from the doorway, startling her. "What's with all the drama?"

She blinked, a grin spreading across her elfin face. Logan was one of her favorite people. He was like a big hairy older brother with claws. He was short and grumpy and tough and smelled of cigars and whiskey. Kitty absolutely adored him. After two years of being on the team, she knew the man called Wolverine would never tell her a lie or betray her. She bounced up from her chair and all about steamrolled him.

To his credit, the feral mutant looked completely out of his element, standing there— a scowl on his hirsute face, an unlit cigar held in his teeth—in the doorway of a room that looked like Barbie and the Chicago Cubs had gotten into a bar room brawl with Star Wars, Dazzler, and several celebrities and no one won, but he stood his ground. After all, Wolverine was the best at what he did. Even it was putting up with his favorite hyperactive teenager.

"Wolvie!" She threw her arms around him and bombarded him with questions. He'd been gone for nearly three weeks tracking a ninja organization called the Hand. "How was your trip to Japan? Is Lady Mariko alright? Have you rescheduled the wedding?"

Logan said nothing only hugged her back. Tilting her head back, she peered at his face to look deeply into his silvery blue eyes. She saw great sorrow and vulnerability there. She had seen that look when Jean had died and when Lady Mariko had stopped the wedding the first time under the influence of Mastermind.

"I'm sorry, Logan," told him and meant it. She took his face in her hands and pressed a tender affectionate kiss to his forehead before embracing him once again. Knowing that he wouldn't talk about it until he was ready, and, quite possibly, that he would go to Ororo before talking to her, Kitty didn't say anything more. The only thing that she could do was lend him her strength.

After a moment, he cleared his throat awkwardly and pulled away. "Ya got mail, kiddo," he told her, the vulnerable look completely gone from the depths of his eyes. He held up the envelope from Queens to the light of her ceiling fan, eying the letter inside suspiciously. "So who's this Piotr?"

When Kitty screamed with glee, Logan nearly dropped the letter to hold his ears, but sucked it up, because, y'know, he was the Wolverine and all. She snatched it eagerly and flopped on her bed just looking at the envelope. Golly, he has nice handwriting, she thought.

She looked at him brightly after a moment. "He wrote!"

"Guess I should leave you two alone then," Logan groused, wondering who this boy was, and why he was writing his Pun'kin, and who allowed it to happen to begin with.

I swear, I'm gone for five minutes and the kid gets herself in to thickest pile of—

"I met him while fighting the Doom-bots," Kitty told him, her eyes shining bright, "in fact, Scott and Ororo both agree that if he and Spider-Man hadn't showed up when they had, it could have been a whole lot worse."

Logan had read about the incident in the paper while in Madripoor when he was searching for one of the Hand's ringleaders before going back to Japan for the last time. Most of the eastern seaboard was still without power because of an electrical surge that had shorted out everything, including the Doom-bots. Xavier's School was luckily on its own power source and could function normally. Crossing into the hot pink-walled room, inwardly cringing at the color, Logan grabbed her computer chair and turned it around, straddling it, chin braced on his arms as he chewed the end of his cigar. "You guys seemed ta have done just fine. Talk ta me, kid."

She took a deep breath, and he knew he was in for an ear full, and it was going to come out in one sentence. When Kitty got started, it was like a windup toy that was on automatic redial. There were only certain times she paused for air. He'd have to get the actual details from Ororo or one of the others. But as she started talking, he knew he missed this, missed this connection he had with the kid, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Even though she was talking about a boy. The way she was describing him though, Logan wondered about this Colossus from Russia and his age and his intentions toward his Pun'kin. Spider-Man was at least in his twenties by now, and superheroes didn't get kid sidekicks often. Not in New York anyway. And Wolverine had seen the two in action a year or so ago in Manhattan while Wolverine had been a bystander. Well, okay, the adamantium claw to the big toe didn't help matters much and only caused the Hulk to get angrier, but Logan had been trying to help draw the Hulk away from the crowd. He still wished he could have since the wall crawler's face when Hulk had screamed at him ("Hulk smash tiny spider and tin man!").

And suddenly the story was over with Kitty's proclamation, "Okay, now, get out. I've gotta read my letter!"

Oh, yeah. Logan already didn't like this Colossus at all. But he only smiled at her doe-eyed look, giving her peck on the forehead before striding to the door and leaving just as quietly as he came, his scowl melting back into place as he stalked the corridor like the trained killer he was. Cyke had a lot of explaining to do.

Kitty, meanwhile, tore open the envelope, dumping out the contents in front of her. Unfolding the neatly creased letter, she studied the scrolling script of the man of her dreams.

"Dear Katya,

"It was a pleasure meeting you and the X-Men as well. Spider-Man and I were glad to be of assistance. If you ever need us again, please be in touch. It seems you enjoy being a superhero. You make an excellent choice for the X-Men. I do not know why you would have been placed on a training team if you were already a full member of the X-Men.

"I did not realize you were injured in the battle. I am sorry that you got an eye full. I hope your vision is better and you are well. What was thrown in your eye? You should have told me and I would have seen to your injury. I am very happy to have helped you receive good scores on your physics exam. I am lucky to be such a conductor for electricity, though New York, New Jersey, and Delaware are not very happy with me right now.

"The photographs you sent with your last letter got bent in the mail, but they were not too damaged. Thank you for sending them. I especially thought your single photo was pretty, and keep it in my wallet to show my friends my new friend.

"As for your many questions, little one, I am not sure where to start, but I suppose I will begin with your first question. No, I have never been in space. My older brother, Mikhail, is a cosmonaut. I received a letter from him last month, though most of what he had to say had been blacked out, and I'm not exactly sure if he doing fine or not. I will have to wait a few more letters to piece together our code words.

"Yes, I am from Russia, though I have lived in America for five years and am a citizen. I was raised atheist, but I attend mass at Christmas with my roommate, Peter and his aunt. The Ust-Ordinsky Collective Farm near Lake Baikal in Siberia is my true home. Our closest city is Irkutsk. We get our supplies from there. I have two cousins, an aunt and an uncle in America, and I came with them to support my parents and little sister back home. We came by boat and had to be smuggled out of Союз Советских Социалистических Республик. That is pronounced Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik. I have seen in the news that it is called the USSR or the Soviet Union here in America. My uncle, aunt and cousins moved to California when my uncle's job transferred him last year.

"There is no place like Russia! It is a truly magnificent country. You have never seen anything like it. The weather in summer is perfect for farming and the countryside is beautiful. During the winter, the snow is the purest white. Lake Baikal contains more water than all the American 'Great Lakes' combined, and it is also known as the 'Blue Eye of Siberia'.

"My birthday is July 8th. I will be twenty-one. My little sister's birthday is at the end of January. She will be eight this year. I miss her and wish she were here with me. Do you have any siblings?

"I do not have any photographs of my parents or sister, but I have drawn them for you and enclosed them. There is also a sketch of you from the photographs that you sent me, but I've added Lake Baikal as the background so that you will know its beauty. I have also enclosed photographs of my roommate, Peter Parker, and myself and a few of our friends, Mary Jane and Colleen. Peter is a professional photographer and developed the pictures himself the darkroom he made out of his closet.

"I think you being a ninja who can walk through walls is very neat. You must have been through an ordeal to be so skilled at such a young age. If you ever need to talk about it, feel free to write.

"I would very much like to be friends though I am surprised you would want to be friends with me. I am a mere laborer with very little education. You said you take college courses at Columbia. What courses are you taking? I have a few weeks left of night courses, and I will receive my GED. Then I will begin the enrollment process in college.

"I am looking forward to a long friendship with you through correspondence. Please write back soon.

"Your friend,

"Пётр

"Piotr Nikoleivitch Rasputin

"Spider-Man's Friend, Colossus"

Kitty held the letter out in front of her happily. He wrote! He wants to be my friend! Piotr even answered all my questions!

"Yeess!" she squealed, hugging the letter to her breast and fell back on the bed in a fit of giggles. Only after a few moments did she remember that he had enclosed pictures and dug into the envelope for her treasures.

The first thing she found was the drawing of herself with a pretty lake and mountain behind her. The picture blurred as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this how he sees me?" she wondered aloud. Sniffling, she gave a smile as she noticed she'd been depicted in the costume Piotr had last seen her in as she sat hugging her knees like that of the photo she'd sent to him. Though it was a mere black and white sketch, she knew her own designs well enough to be able to pick the pink and purple costume out of the closet. Kitty giggled. He really did think she was a good X-man.

Instead of refolding the drawing, she pinned it on the corkboard on her wall next to her collage of grainy pictures and headlines of Colossus and Spider-Man from the Daily Bugle and Daily Globe. Her favorite picture was that of Colossus hitting the Green Goblin's glider with a two handed strike and the accompanying headline, "Green Goblin Given Colossal Clap!"

The next sketch was of what she presumed to be his parents and little sister. They were an older couple and the little girl with large eyes and elfin features looked out of place sitting between them. She wondered what it would be like to have a little sister or even children of her own. She also wondered if Professor Xavier could use his contacts to get Illyana into the States with her brother. If Piotr was sending money home to them, then she surmised there must be a great deal of poverty. Her heart squeezed, wanting to do everything in her power to help them. With a sigh, she pinned this picture on her cork board too. They were posted near a headline that read, "Mutant Menace! Spider-Man and Colossus Team-Up to Terrorize!"

There were two photos.

The first, Kitty flipped over to read Piotr's masculine script. "Myself and my roommate Peter Parker. This was taken last year. We are at Manahan's in Manhattan. We are celebrating Colleen's birthday. She is the brunette woman in the other picture with us."

Kitty frowned. Woman. She toyed with the idea that this Colleen may have already gotten Piotr, but set the thought aside quickly when she turned the picture back over to gaze at the stolen moment of time. Piotr was grinning devilishly into the camera, raising his beer bottle to the cameraman. She enjoyed everything about him, from his jet-black hair cut in a crew cut and his vibrant ice-spoked blue eyes ringed with dark lashes, to his aquiline nose and generous mouth and his cleft in his bare chin. He towered over Peter Parker who sat beside him also raising a beer bottle to the cameraman. Peter was in the middle of saying something, so his mouth was open wide and his smiling dark eyes were flashing. Though handsome, Peter appeared disheveled, with a mop of brown hair and mismatching clothing. She pegged him as a nerd right off, thinking happily, Piotr likes nerds!

The other photo featured Piotr and Peter and two women. Kitty took a breath, sizing up the competition. Both women were gorgeous. Kitty assumed the red-head was Mary Jane. She looked like she could be a model or actress. Kitty couldn't recall ever seeing a set of eyes so green. Mary Jane had her arm looped through Peter's, her red hair cascading onto his shoulder as they both smiled for the cameraman. The brunette, Colleen, had high, exotic cheek bones and full moist lips. And boobs. Let's not forget those. Kitty looked down at herself. Nope. Not old enough yet. Colleen leaned on Piotr's shoulder, smiling seductively for the cameraman. Piotr's face was flushed, but he was smiling happily into the camera.

Feeling depressed suddenly the teenager flipped the picture over to read its back. "From left to right: me, Colleen, Mary Jane, and Peter. Colleen's birthday last year. She no longer hangs out with us. She is dating someone named Scott Summers that Peter knows."

Relieved, Kitty let out a sigh. So, that's Colleen Wing that Cyke talks about sometimes.

Both photos were added to her board near a grainy photo of Spider-Man swinging on his webbing and Colossus running. The headline below it read, "Commie Colossus Stalks Spider-Man!"

As she hunted around her desk for more paper to write another letter, Professor Xavier's mental voice rang loudly in her head, "My X-Men! Join me in the War Room immediately!"

#

(Hope you enjoyed. Input appreciated.)