Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters, locations and concepts belonging to Marvel Entertainment. No claim of ownership is made or implied by me in using their property. No part of this work is intended for material gain of any kind. It is intended for the sole purpose of creative exercise and the entertainment of others.


He was David Ishima, Jessica and Lindsay's landlord. David was a hawk of a man, sleek and solidly built, who looked to be in his early thirties. He wore his dark hair loose and long and had a fondness for loose-fitting shirts cut or unbuttoned to display a great deal of his toned chest, a habit Kitty hoped he wouldn't grow tired of any time soon. He and Jessica Drew had dated for a time, but they split some time before she lost her powers as Spider-Woman.

"Good morning, David," Peter said. "Are you looking for Jessica?"

David returned Peter's greeting with a friendly wave as he shut the door behind him. "Hey there, Peter. Actually I just spoke with her and thought I'd swing by here. Is Kitty around?"

Peter hesitated. Kitty knew he was waiting for her to phase out of him, and knew just as well that she ought to. It wasn't polite to hide her presence from David, after all. She held back. This was as close as she was ever likely to get to being invisible, and she liked that David couldn't tell she was there even though she was essentially right in front of him. After a moment, Peter answered. "Yes, Kitty's… in."

"Perfect. Lila Chaney's got a gig at the Chi Chi Club in a couple days. I've got tickets and I thought I'd invite her along."

Kitty's opinion of David immediately improved tenfold.

Peter's response was significantly more reserved than Kitty's hidden celebration. "I see."

"You don't mind, do you?" David thrust his hands in his pockets, looking as casual as his question sounded, but there was a slight wariness in the way he looked at Peter, as if he was a bit surprised by the response.

"Why would I mind?" Peter asked with a shrug, countering David's nonchalance in equal measure. "I know you to be a gentleman and am sure you will make a considerate and respectful chaperon."

Or a date, Kitty thought. At least, that was how she was planning to describe it to Ororo when she got the chance. Just to see the expression on her face.

"Well, you two used to date, didn't you?" David asked.

Kitty wasn't so sure she wanted to be party to this conversation anymore, but revealing her presence now would mean a lot of explaining on her part, so she stayed where she was. This was what she got for being curious, she told herself.

"Da, but we are not… We are friends now." Peter's face was granite-stiff. He crossed his arms in front of him. "If Kitty wishes to go with you, I am in no position to object."

David's eyes narrowed cannily, as if he'd just caught Peter at something. "But if you were, would you?"

There was an unmistakable jump in Peter's heart rate, and if Kitty wasn't still phased inside him her breath would have caught in her throat. He'd proven not too long ago that he still cared for her, something which had done more to help build a friendship over the wreckage of their old love than anything, but she never expected to find such clear evidence that he still cared this much. Kitty's own heart skipped a beat as surprise and indecision washed over her. She barely heard Peter's response to David's question.

"I am sorry. That isn't something I wish to discuss."

Damn it, Kitty thought. Not that Peter's attempt to be evasive mattered. She had all the proof she needed for how he really felt. She had no idea what to do with it, though. He'd been the one who broke up with her, after all. If he still cared so much for her, why hadn't he asked her to take him back? If he did, would she accept? Up until that moment, her answer would have been a resounding "no." Now she wasn't so sure. She'd been so afraid of having her heart broken all over again, but maybe, just maybe there was hope for them after all.

"I understand," David said, nodding. "Not my place to pry, anyway."

Peter relaxed a bit, letting his hands drop back to his sides. "I'm sure Kitty will be pleased when you invite her," he said.

A loose smile curved David's lips. "Hopefully. She seems like she could use some cheering up. She's been a little down ever since she showed up in that weird armor a few days ago."

At the mention of Illyana's armor, Kitty's eyes became saucer-wide, though neither man could see it. Like a sunbreak through thick clouds, realization shot through her in a bright rush. Not caring anymore if she was noticed, she phased out of Peter, dropping through the floor in a blink. Her mind was a whirlwind as she airwalked to her room and she had to consciously steady herself before excitement and uncertainty overtook her completely.

Could it really be that simple?

There was only one way to find out. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she tried to summon her best friend's Soulsword. She trembled, afraid of what might happen next. The responsibility as ruler and guardian of Limbo was not one she'd asked for or wanted, even a little, and after she learned how to send the sword off to wherever it went when it wasn't being wielded, her intent was never to take hold of it again. Too much darkness came with that power, and she wanted no part of either.

She felt a faint tickle in response to her call, but no enchanted sword glowing with mystic flames appeared in her hands. No armor draped her body like a sheet of silver leaf. Only the still brush of silence answered. She tried again, putting more effort into it this time. Still, nothing. Illyana's Soulsword, an artifact which even the seemingly limitless power of the Beyonder had not been able to deceive, had recognized the return of its true mistress, and there it chose to stay.

There was a phone in Jessica's room, right next to Kitty's. She phased through the wall separating the two and steered herself toward the nightstand next to the bed, where the phone waited. Reaching for it, she nearly jumped when it sounded a sharp trill just as her fingers touched the handle. It never got to ring a second time before she snatched it up and spoke a tentative, "Hello?"

"Hi, is Kitty there?" It was Illyana.

Kitty felt a lump growing in her throat and hastily swallowed it back down. "Hey there, roomie," she said. "How's it going?"

There was a soft chuckle. "Hurricane Magneto's still Headmaster. How do you think? When are you gonna get back here so we can suffer together?"

"Trying to get out of studying?"

"Moi?" Illyana said. There was a brief pause, and a slight tension filled the silence. "Actually, I just felt like calling all of a sudden. Weird, huh?"

The lump in Kitty's throat was stubborn, and made another push upward. "Not really. I was just about to call you, in fact."

Another silence. "You okay, Kitty?"

Kitty's hands were trembling again. She clutched the phone to her ear as if it were a lifeline. "I'm great, really."

"You sure?"

"Yeah," Kitty said, snatching at her eyes with her free thumb to banish the tears that were threatening to spill. She smiled. "Yeah, I'm sure."

fin