The things she has seen cannot be numbered. An intimate knowledge that she feels in her bones. It is of a time before time and of all the things that scare her the most. The things she has seen cannot be measured. Her consciousness has reached the farthest ends of the galaxy and beyond and she understands the vastness that surpasses her. It surpasses everything and everyone that she knows, the things that grow and ripen, the people that live and die. It goes beyond all that she will ever know in this lifetime. And still, despite all that she knows, despite how far out she can go, despite how far she can run, despite every detour, she returns here -- to the same point, to the same coordinates, to the same arms. In the end, she circles back, time and time again, back to him."I did it all for you,"
The last time it happened the fear returned. Two lines. A positive. An ancient ache in her belly. Doubling over. Bile rising in her throat. A fate that wouldn't be unkind if she never told him. If she kept it hidden. If she went away for good and left them all behind. Better without me is the thought that plagues her, wringing her hands in the waiting room. Three more tests. Three more positives. The bile choking her now. Then the doctor's expertise. Bloods are taken. Stress. False readings. A long exhale. And then, tears -- so many tears. A crisis averted. No need to tell him. No need to tell anyone. A warning to be more careful next time. What she doesn't expect is the pain or the feeling of loss. The fantasies of what might have been. She hates feeling so vulnerable.
There is life in her lungs. She exists out here. An ephemeral entity, still, it would not take much to let go. It did not take much to begin and she does not remember any of that, no matter how hard she tries. There would be freedom then. Absolution. There is a calm here amongst the stars. A silence that soothes. Floating. The rest of the world has fallen away and it doesn’t matter whether it turns again or not. There is peace, just out of reach. Her voice makes no sound. It is cold outside. It is dark. But she knows if she stretches a hand out, just. a little. further... she will find it.
It would be so easy to surrender, to give in to that ache of the flesh, to indulge the cry for an ending, for mercy, for deliverance. Therein lies hopelessness. It is a hollow feeling, borne out of apathy, of loneliness, though it is anger that spurred her before, it is futile now. He has found his way back in and she hates herself for it. Their fates have been entwined for so long. He has betrayed her. She has betrayed him. A dark well of secrets rises up between them. A void of things left unsaid.
"I did what I had to. To keep you safe,"
"I died for you,"
"I can't stay,"
"Talk to me,"
"Look at me!"
Time. There is never enough. And when it is gifted to them, it is squandered, sullied by the needs of others. It never goes right. They both understand it. It is written plainly in the way his brow creases as he nurses a hot mug of tea across from her and chooses his words carefully. It is the second time he has awoken here. He is more stoic than she remembers. Fewer words leave his lips. Kitty holds the same expression as she balls her hands into fists and then releases them, as if she is gearing for battle. It is why they are here. It is why they have been called together. It is understood between them. But she is still so angry. If she could, she would shake him, slap him, hurt him.
There are things he has been made to do. Terrible things when he was not in control, a pawn to the force of the phoenix. He regrets it. He tells her so, and in the eyes of the others, he has earned his redemption. But Kitty is stubborn and won’t forgive so easily. There is always a fight with her. It is easier to fight him without losing control. Easier than if he finds out. This way, it can't be mistaken for passion. And better yet, when it is so difficult for her to utter sweet words now. It is too hard to forget, even with the competing memories of her host. He is there too. In his other form. It frightens her that their hosts have found a rhythm of their own. But there is hope -- a hope she will never voice -- that they have come together in some reality without pain. Without lies.
He says her name and she looks up, but does not continue. This name hangs between them. Illyana. Neither one of them utters another word. They sit in silence together. He moves the mug to his mouth and she notices the way his sweatshirt tugs and sags against his chest. Kitty spies the tattooed skin underneath and the letters of a name that she recognises. It does not seem real. Her fingers shake as she reaches out to take the handle of the mug. The searing heat against her palm brings her back. Her head feels full but before she can stop herself, she places a hand slowly over his and squeezes gently.
Later, when she sees the tattoo in its entirety, she shakes her head. Her fingers splay over the letters, tracing them slowly. Five letters. Kitty sighs.
“You know this is permanent?” she says, looking up at him. Piotr is still so tall that it is though she is still the child. That same naive girl, watching him from the top of the staircase, consumed by a silly infatuation. He smiles.
“Da, Katya. That was the point,”