The giant had her by the wrist. The fingers were gentle, but the grip was firm, the musculature of his arms bear testament to the great strength he is capable of, but with Kitty, he is like a lamb. Still, she takes a sharp inhale when his grip tightens and the sound forces his hand away, spurned quickly, he wears the pain on his face and she folds in on herself.
“Please don’t go,” she whispers.
He doesn’t turn, pressing a piece of charcoal to the canvas. He won’t look at her and she understands why. Not like this. Fragile and confused. He would never allow himself to be that man. Never. Especially not with her. He is an honourable man. Kitty knows this.
“Please,” she presses and it's clear what she wants, a longing that they’ve both yearned to hear, a longing that hasn’t been spoken for fear of where it might lead. Now that they are old enough, now that she’s grown. But he won’t do it.
“This cannot be, малютка,”
Her face flushes bright red and she picks her robe up from the floor, vanishing through the wall.
“God please, please tell me —- am I finally dead?”
Colossus is on his knees, his arms wrap around her middle and he is weeping against her belly. He weeps openly. Ten years have passed. There are things she’s seen that he could never fathom. And Kitty has tried. To piece words together out of the memories of constellations and all the infinite reaches of the universe. And yet, despite all of that, in the light of wonder and awe, Piotr had been dead. He had seen terror and known fear. Kitty isn’t strong enough to lift him to his feet. She sinks to the floor instead.
“Your face,” he staggers, the words are choking him. “Your face,”
He stares intensely at a stack of papers in front of him, unmoving, his body tensing when she sits down next to him. Her hand moves to his shoulder and her knuckles find an old knot, kneading against it until she hears him exhale and sees his brow unfurl.
“Do you want me to leave?” she asks, feeling the warmth of his exhale against her cheek and fights back the urge to press her fingers to her skin where she’d felt it most. To make it linger.
“No. Please stay, I need your help with this,” he scratches his chin and she nods, sitting down next to him as they both stare at the phone number. It’s local to Boston. It's been under their noses this entire time. Kitty realises that his hand is trembling.
“Do you want me to dial?” she asks, but he shakes his head.
“I’ll be fine. Just stay with me,”
“You won’t talk, so I’ll speak for the both of us,” Kitty fights off the urge to add as usual, knowing that a petty swipe at his solemnity would only hurt him now and she doesn’t want to be intentionally cruel, despite how much his silence wounds her.
Piotr keeps his eyes on the canvas.
“Look, big guy…” It isn’t the term of endearment that it used to be and she immediately regrets its use when his shoulders stiffen, so she begins wringing her hands instead. “Peter…I was younger then, I didn’t understand what it meant and all the pressure I put on you to …do things, to be someone that you didn’t want to be. It was selfish. But, it still hurt… when you told me about her —”
“No. I have to say this or I’m never going to. And you need to hear it. The thing is, I wanted you to wait for me. I thought it was what we both wanted, because I didn’t understand. I didn’t know how the world worked. I came to this school thinking I knew everything because I was brighter than everybody else my age and I had to grow up so quickly, but I was a child in so many ways. I was still so naive and stupid about so many things. I thought …"
She takes a deep breath.
"...I thought we would live happily ever after, because I thought fairy tales were real. But they’re not. No matter how much you wish they were. I wished really hard for us, but that’s the thing about a wish. It lets you choose for other people, without their knowing, without their consent. I was only thinking of myself and of my own happiness. I never … I never allowed myself to see the truth. I never let myself believe, truly believe that you didn’t want me. And I’m sorry, Peter,”
He discards the piece of charcoal and stands quickly, his blackened fingertips moving to her face, crushing her to him with a kiss.
“Pete…” she says his name so tenderly that it breaks his resolve, turning his dark blue eyes on her for the first time since she’d found him in the chamber. Kitty smiles gently, brushing the hair from his face, seeing the torment in his eyes, knowing that he wants to turn away again. Kitty won’t allow it.
“You’re going to look at me. You’re not hiding from me again. I’m not letting you go,”
“It cannot be. Not like this, Katya,”
“Why? What’s so different now?”
His guilt is writ plainly on his face, but she won’t abide it. Kitty knows his words before he even speaks them.
“…After all the things that I have done,”
“They weren’t your choice! You did all that you had to do. You did what you thought was right,”
“But I was not right. I was wrong. And I did not do enough,”
“No. I won’t listen to this. You can’t believe that. You are one man, with strength and powers, but you are still only one person. You can’t save the whole world and you can’t do it alone,”
“No! You listen to me! You did all you could. You sacrificed yourself. You saved so many people. You saved the school. You can’t keep punishing yourself,”
“No, you have to listen —”
Piotr’s lips are on hers and he can taste the salt of her tears as he kisses her. Kitty has kissed him before, as an impulsive girl with a maddening crush, catching him by surprise. No longer a girl. He understands that, and urgently, as she pushes him back in his seat and climbs onto him. Impulsive as she’s always been, he stops her, pulling away from the embrace like he always does.
“We cannot do this,” he says, his breath is ragged and his eyes search her face.
“Peter, I swear —”
“No, I mean. We cannot... do this here,”