Ghosts of Years Gone By

Summary:
October 31, 2014: Kitty seeks out Piotr to encourage him, it doesn't exactly go as planned.

Xavier's Mansion


Characters

NPCs

  • Wendy/Oksana

Mood Music:
[* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKNwx82kPjY]


After the meeting with the Professor, Kitty went back to taking care of her own things, letting Illyana and Piotr have some time to themselves. It's still strange to her to imagine the Brotherhood Piotr she knew as Illyana's brother has become a man who studies paintings in the halls of Xavier's and shows emotion freely. However, knowing it must be difficult for him and knowing that he is still Illyana's brother (just a different Illyana and a different brother), she seeks out the large mutant.

She comes bearing a plate of cookies and Lockheed scrambling along behind her like a purple, scaly dog. His wings are folded and he clearly keeps hoping that she'll drop one and he can have it - he has enough manners to know that he can't just steal one.

The large mutant sits in one of the many armchairs of the Xavier's library. His eyes scan the pages of a very large, very cumbersome-looking book. Leo Tolstoy had always been one of Piotr's favourites. Anna Karenina isn't one he's read before, however, always leaning towards War and Peace over some of the Russian writer's other works.

The copy itself has barely been touched, presumably collecting dust for a rather long period of time on the shelf.

A single hand rakes through Piotr's hair as he adjusts in his armchair and his eyebrows draw together around the text therein. His jaw is tight-set and his blue eyes scan the words on the page.

Next to him, in a similar armchair, a very moony-eyed little girl sits with her own book: Nancy Drew, but she doesn't look much like she's reading her book. Instead, every few moments she sneaks a peek at the massive man. "See?" she says matter-of-factly, "I told you the library had lots of books."

Anna Karenina is not an easy read, but Piotr has become accustomed to the interruptions over the last hour or so. He sets the book down and his blue eyes focus on his reading-comrade. "You did," he agrees. The book is set face down on his lap and it's only then that he catches Kitty with Lockheed in tow. "But you don't seem to be enjoying your book, Oksana," which is decidedly not her name. "Maybe you should go play with the other children? I'm sure there's something more exciting than reading going on somewhere…?"

It takes Kitty a little while to find Piotr. However, when she does, she gives a soft smile seeing him reading Tolstoy with a little girl reading Nancy Drew. It looks as if he had been here for awhile. Which, of course, he has in his own reality. It's hard for her to remember that he's not the same person, despite the fact that the very reason she sought him out is because of that change.

There's, of course, a raised eyebrow at the girl being called a name that is certainly not her own, but she doesn't quite call him on it in front of her. "Not enough people come in here," she says with a grin. "It's good to see it in use." After a pause, she adds, "I hope I'm not interrupting? I brought cookies. If I let Lockheed eat them all he won't fly for a week."

The little girl peeks up at Kitty and then back towards Piotr. "I like cookies," she says quietly. And then, rather quickly, she slides off her arm chair, book in hand, and she skips towards the cookie plate. Pilfering a single treat, she skips off towards the door to go find something more fun to do. She skips out the door and then then peers back through the entrance, "Bye Mister Rasputin! I'll come make sure you know where to go for supper later! Don't worry, I'll make sure you get there on time and will save you a seat next to me!"

Piotr grants 'Oksana' a wave and then shakes his head with a chuckle. His hand runs over his chin and he looks back towards Kitty. "No. No interruption." His smile softens some, "I hope you're well, Katya…"

As the young girl skips off, Kitty lowers the plate enough to give the girl easy access to the cookies. "Just don't ruin your appetite, Wendy," she tells her. It's not exactly a maternal scolding, just a warning delivered with a bit of a smirk. Then, she watches the excited exit with an amused expression on her face. "Making friends already, I see," she says with a laugh. Approaching Piotr, she holds the plate out. "Snickerdoodles," she informs him. "There may be a lone chocolate chip cookie hiding out in there somewhere, too."

The purple dragon at her feet studies Piotr, flapping up to sit on her shoulder. A tail wraps protectively about her shoulders as he sniffs the man who used to smell exactly like trouble. "I am, thanks. I thought I'd come check in on you. It's been a bit of a rough journey for you."

"She seems to be," Piotr notes, "a friend, I mean." There's a flicker of a smile that fades moments later as she holds out the plate. "Thank you." It's a quiet phrase and he shoots her another ghost of a smile. Of course, part of that is because Kitty is, in many ways, a ghost.

His eyes turn up towards Lockheed and he nods towards the dragon. "You should probably give him one. Seems cruel to let him have none." Pause. "Unless he's already had a snack." The last has his lips curving upwards, but the smile doesn't meet his eyes. "It's been a journey," he agrees.

"He already stole one on the way up, so he's on a time out." Kitty gives Lockheed a mock glare which he completely ignores. For the moment he's not looking at the plate so much as Piotr himself. Then, her face turns more serious as she catches the faded smile. Setting the plate down on a table nearby, she frowns. "Sorry. This must be super creepy for you." Her hand waves about her to take in the general area - the school being here, the people, the new life. "And just in time for Halloween."

The young mutant tilts her head just slightly to study Piotr. "I don't mean to make anything difficult for you. I know I died in your reality and it must be strange to see me walking around offering you snickerdoodles. I can lay low if you'd prefer."

Beast arrives from OOC land.

Beast heads out to Westchester County.

"Lucky guy," Piotr states with another flicker of a smile. His arms slowly cross over his chest as he leans back in the chair, effectively leaning away from Kitty and her offered cookies. "Not as creepy as you'd think," there's a gentleness to his voice as his chin drops towards his chest. "More surreal than creepy. It's like stepping through into Alice's Wonderland, but nothing is nonsensical. Or maybe I've stepped the other way. From Wonderland into real life."

There's a stitch of a frown at the last. "I. Don't want to change anything you would do, Katya. Or. Kitty, if you'd rather." His lips edge downwards. "I'm not here to inconvenience or disrupt anything."

Despite her hardline against giving Lockheed more food, Kitty plucks one of the cookies from the plate, breaks it it in two and gives half to the dragon. Triumphantly, he glides to the top of a chair and starts to nibble it. For her own half, she just holds it in her hand for the time being. "Yes, I can imagine. Or, well, actually I can't." She's still attempting to figure out the whole deal.

"Whichever," she tells Piotr with a smile to whatever name she prefers. "Having a long name, I got used to people giving me a bunch of nicknames. Though, no one's ever called me Katya before." As for changing her patterns, she frowns. "I…I must say that I didn't know you here very well. I just knew you as Illyana's brother and that some called you-him dangerous. But, you're still her brother and that is obviously not who you are." Not any more. Even the Professor cleared him.

"Yeah…" Piotr says quietly. His fingers drum lightly on his leg and he glances between Lockheed and Kitty before allowing his gaze to move to the floor. "Well. I've heard some interesting things about myself here regardless. It's almost as if I get to live someone else's life. His lips twist to the side and his hands fold together.

"It's not mine, anyways. Not the one I chose or lived." He doesn't offer more information on that. "What's your friend's name?" he finally asks as his eyes rest on Lockheed, "And how did you find each other?"

Kitty finally chooses the seat from which Lockheed perches and starts to nibble on her cookie. By this point, the dragon has inhaled his, looking back at the plate with interest. For now, the phaser allows him to look, but will be quick to snatch him should he make a move on the cookies. "I'm sure. I know it's hard to hear, but it is a bit strange for us, as well." And, she's sure, incredibly strange for Illyana.

The question is garnered with a bit of surprise. She just assumed that if Piotr knew Kitty, he'd know Lockheed. For some reason, that didn't sink in for her. "Lockheed," she says. "We met through a complicated story involving aliens," she grins, though even that fades a little. "Did your Kitty not know Lockheed?" That's a sad thing to think about.

Piotr nods. "Right." The word isn't as convinced as he intends which has him forcing a gentle smile. "Sorry. I don't think you realize how much harder it is to be the only one who remembers an entire lifetime of memories. Even Yana has others who can corroborate it." He shrugs his shoulders. "Or what it is to be interrupted from protecting someone you've sacrificed so much for. Four students. Probably dead."

His head turns to the side. "So you'll excuse me if I'm a little skeptical that it's as strange for you as it is for me. This isn't just hard, this is…" there's a long pause as he considers the best word "…heavy."

Lockheed earns a smile. "No. Katya did not know Lockheed." He doesn't say more on the matter.

Kitty's eyebrows raise, suddenly horrified that that's what he thought she meant. "No…of course I didn't mean it's harder for us. Or even as hard. Just…strange. On our end. And I'm sure moreso for Illyana. She still has a brother, but now he is completely different. But, you are right, there are others who knew him." She looks down. "I know something of that," sacrificing much to try and save someone who died along the way.

"If you wish, I'm sure the Professor can try to find a way to put you back. It may be difficult, but if you wish to go back to your timeline, it may be possible." She looks back to her dragon friend and sighs. "I can't imagine not having Lockheed in my life. He's been a friend to me for many years." And stayed with her through many of her worst patches.

"Right," Piotr agrees quietly. His arms remain firmly over his chest. "Sorry. I guess I'm just sensitive. It's been a strange week." To say the least. He sucks on the inside of his cheek and then shakes his head, at the thought of going back, "I don't think there's much point now. There wasn't much left. They were…too strong. We couldn't best them. We already knew it was only a matter of time." He sighs. "I take comfort that they are still alive in some alternate world. Maybe not this one, but somewhere, maybe."

Lockheed wins a weak smile. "Well it's good you have a friend. And an ever-present one is… useful." He exhales audibly. "Plus he seems rather attached to you. You deserve good things, Katya."

"No, of course. You've…you've been through a lot this week." Kitty frowns, realizing she came here to check in on him and has, instead, put him on the defensive. "Yes, there seems to be multiple different realities, so it is entirely possible they are out there somewhere. Maybe even here, but just not at Xavier's."

The young mutant smiles and looks back to Piotr, giving him a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring it all up again. I honestly did just come in here to offer you cookies. Of which you haven't even had one!" She attempts to lighten the mood again, though her smile is a bit weak. "And, yes, it has been very good to have him by my side." Then, she smiles, "Oh, I don't know about deserving them. I mean, I'm not about to say no to them. But, thank you. You seem like you deserve a rest from being on the run and fighting for your life. I hope you can find that here."

A moment of surprise has Piotr's lips edging upwards as his arms finally fall from his chest. "Yikes. Well, we should rectify that," he reaches out and plucks a single cookie from the plate, but he doesn't eat it yet, instead rolling it over in his grasp. "It's not your fault," he finally adds. "I've been bringing it up in my mind. Over and over again," his voice is soft, nearly a whisper and his fingers clasp the cookie a stitch tighter. "And you do deserve good things. I can't imagine a world where you wouldn't Katya. You have a big heart and a willingness to offer it to the world itself."

He finally takes a bite of the cookie. He chews and nods. After swallowing that bite, he finally refocuses, "Tell me. How have things changed since HYDRA's attack?"

There's a blush at the compliment and Kitty looks downward, surprised. "Thank you. I guess I'm pretty different, though. From the Kitty you knew, that is." A hand reaches up to pat Lockheed on the head and she passes him another cookie. She can't help but spoil him when he desperately wants cookies. It's strange to hear a compliment like that from someone she doesn't really know and be unable to give one back.

It's easier for her to move on to explain how things are different here. "Some of the kids were pulled out of the school. Everyone seems to be on edge or wanting to blame someone. It's why, I think, people were so wary of you to start with."

Piotr allows his head to drop in assent. "Possibly. Some people are different. Some the same. I think the core of a person remains. Maybe not their behaviour, but perhaps something deeper. Their soul. Their heart. Whichever poetic diatribe you subscribe to — that remains. So while the other Piotr had learned to be calculating and perhaps, cruel, it's only because somewhere deep within me these things reside. They haven't been fostered, but they remains just the same. Dormant, but present."

His hands fold lightly on his lap. "What does the public know of the school? Are they leery of it?"

"Maybe you're right," Kitty tells Piotr with a frown as she thinks about it. "There's a Limbo version of me that is…not a nice person," she says. "She was killed, too, and then was brought back. Or, at least, that's what Belasco said. Who knows if he's telling the truth." And if that's the case, it seems like there's a lot of different realities where she ends up dead. Now, that's a troubling thought.

With a shake of her head, she plucks another cookie and takes a bite. "They don't know much. I think the government knows more. Or there're people who suspect things. There's always people who fear with that can't understand. But, there's enough other strange things out there, too. I'm not sure. Hank seems to think the school is always in imminent danger - of discrimination if not actual physical danger."

"It's a strange world," Piotr admits. "But I think people fear what they can't understand. And if they don't have an opportunity to understand it, then how can they ever lose that fear?" He shrugs and plucks the book from his lap. "People can only be as good as we trust them to be. And, I realize, trust is hard. It's easy to break. It's easy to burn, yet it's also a source of hope."

He lets the book fall to his lap again. "And maybe the school is always in imminent danger. The question is: is it in more danger in secret or in public when everyone knows what you do here? Strangely I think a lot of the battles we fight are in how we relate to the public…"

"It is," Kitty agrees.

"It is," Kitty agrees. "A very strange one." She frowns at that. "Yes. I think Hank feels very strongly about this since the world failed him in trusting him. He wants this place to be safe for everyone else who don't have, 'easily identifiable' mutations like me and even you." It's a fight they have had recently, in fact.

"But, you're right. I don't think we're ever going to get away from that. And hiding here only makes it seem like we have something to hide. Being a mutant isn't a bad thing." Of course, she's an optimist and always has been. "I just hope that the rest of the world will see it like that as well."

"Caution is important, but information is power. I'm pretty sure that's why the Professor started this place in the first place. Helping young people understand themselves is… well, it's a gift." Piotr shoots her a tight-lipped smile. With a slow small breath, he shakes his head. "Keep those thought close to you, Katya. I hope that you can maintain your outlook for years to come, and that this place continues to be a refuge for those that need it. Public, or not."

There's a nod from Kitty at his words of caution. "Yes, I know. And this should be a safe space. But, when it's keeping people scared from going out and helping. Or being used as an excuse…" she sighs. "Sorry. I just had this argument not too long ago and perhaps I am just eager to show others that we have nothing to hide from." Though, that's not exactly true, of course. "I like your outlook, too. It's nice to hear it from someone else here, to be honest."

"It's as safe as we make it," Piotr adds. "We lived in secret in my world and we paid the price. Living in open might not protect us either, but at least it's one less thing to hide. Secrets don't help us much." He turns his head to watch her and then flushes a little at the comment. "Training students to use their gifts is important, letting others know what we do could mean good things for the mutant community. Caution is still important, but it's not like the world doesn't know about metahumans." Pause. "Does it?"

The thought of living in secret leading to paying the price doesn't exactly lift the frown from Kitty's face. Instead, she reaches a hand up again to pluck up Lockheed from the chair and put him in her lap. He was reaching for the cookies while they were having this serious discussion. "Stop it," she tells him with a firm fondness she can't help but infuse in her tone of voice when dealing with the purple dragon. As such, she misses the blush that Piotr gives her when he says that secrets do not help.

"No, they don't. But, I guess sometimes they're necessary. Especially if they're to protect someone else." Though, even then, they can hurt more than they help. "And this school is worth protecting." She smiles when she looks back up to him. "Yes, they do know about mutants and metahumans. There's even an X-Team that is public. Red Team. I was thinking of joining them. They've asked."

And then he's caught. Between the smile and her large blue eyes, he's taken back to a time some years ago. His own blue peepers catch hers and for a moment he can't look away. Until he forces himself. He presses up from his seat and takes the book back to the shelf. He can't possibly be done reading it can he? "Are you going to join?" Piotr asks with another flicker of a smile. "Could simplify your life in some ways; complicate it in others." He shoots her a small smile and his eyes turn towards Lockheed. Dragons are easy to look at.

"I'm strongly leaning that way," Kitty tells Piotr, tilting her head just slightly as she keeps his gaze. When he turns away to put the book back, she shifts in her chair, rearranging Lockheed as he curls up there like a cat. "I can't just sit here and do nothing. Things are happening and I feel like all I'm doing is teaching Computer Science. Which is great, don't get me wrong, but I could be helping, doing more things like helping Illyana in Limbo." Though, she sighs. "But, you're right. It could be more complicated than that. I know you just got here, but do you know if you wish to stay at the school?"

Piotr inhales a sharp breath as he turns back to the bookshelf, his fingers dancing along the spines of books as if he's looking for a particular title. "It might be best for me to stay with Jericho and Yana for awhile." He swallows hard and faces the books again. "I love the school. Deeply. I love what it contains, what it represents, and its connection to me personally." He emits a sigh. "But it's also confusing. It muddies things." He clears his throat and tugs at one of the books, War and Peace, and then puts it back in its spot. "Connected here but living with the stabilizing influence of my sister could be wise. And her man-friend seems kind." He forces a smile.

"Man-friend." Kitty can't help but grin at the word that Piotr uses, then her face turns more serious as this is a serious matter. "I'm sure it's confusing for you. But, it may also be good to have people around you. Especially the Professor. Of course, only you know what's best for you." She nods at that. "Jericho's a good guy. And Illyana would certainly help. Are you thinking of teaching a few classes here?"

"It's very confusing," Piotr affirms. "Very very confusing." He shoots her a tight-lipped smile and then nods at the notion of some of the people around him: "Which is why I shouldn't live alone. I've never lived alone-alone anyways. And being with Jericho and Yana should help." He manages a half smile and grasps another book to look at. "Ororo suggested I TA for her. So. I'm going to do that, I think." He manages a forced smile. "Ultimately, maybe I'd teach art again. It's been a long time though."

"Well, you wouldn't be alone at the Institute. There's all the kids and the teachers. Not all of us live here, but many do. I live here for now, but I've been thinking of finding my own place. I'd be glad to help you acclimate, if that isn't too weird for you." Finally, Kitty stands, hefting Lockheed to sit on her shoulder again as she does. She's not about to dump the poor dragon onto the floor just because she's going to stand up.

"That sounds like a good idea." She moves again toward Piotr, but doesn't attempt to crowd his space exactly. "Art. That sounds lovely. I'm sure the students would love an art teacher. I know things are different here, but we can help."

When she moves towards him, Piotr doesn't notice thanks to the bookshelf taking up all of his attention, so when he finally twists to face her and sees KittyUpClose, his eyebrows rise with surprise. His arms immediately rise to his chest, and his lips curve into a small frown. "Uh. I know. Expectations just," he's twisting back to the bookshelf, "challenging. You understand, I'm sure." He coughs and steps to the side. Even though she's not exactly crowding his space, he must find the right book, right?

"I don't question your ability," he replies lowly. "To help, I mean. I'm sure you could help." He clears his throat. "I just… need…" his cheeks hue a pale pink as he peers over his shoulder at her, prompting him to watch the bookshelf again "…time. I guess." He swallows hard. "To grieve."

Seeing that her sudden closeness to him has set him on edge, Kitty moves backwards, even putting up her hands slightly to show that she means him no harm. "Of course. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was pressuring you to stay or to leave." However, she can't help but tilt her head a bit as she studies the poor displaced Piotr. Already she can tell she's making him uncomfortable by the way he crosses his arms.

"Yes, of course. Grieving is important." There's a moment when she makes a bit of a step forward, as if to put a hand on his shoulder, but then she's worried that it's too much of crossing his personal space. Then, despite all her worries, she decides to screw it. With a few steps, she reaches forward to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry," she says. Whether it's for his world or his being here or the fact that he feels out of place is unclear. Perhaps it's all of those things.

The hand on his shoulder completely disarms Piotr despite his best efforts. His hands drop to his sides and he sighs at the touch. He's always dissolved under touch. His shoulders slump forward and he nods, seemingly having lost his words for the moment. Moisture begins to accumulate in the corners of his eyes. He sniffs and tries to force a smile; the irony isn't lost on him: being comforted by the one of the very women he's grieving causes his entire demeanour to melt. His eyes clamp shut and he in hales a sharp breath, banishing his emotions to the furthest facet of his mind.

It's quite a reach up for Kitty to put her hand on his shoulder. It's a tentative touch at first, since she's unsure whether he will pull away or not under it. However, at the shoulder drop and sigh, she keeps the hand there. She doesn't attempt to move even closer or to do anything else than keep that steadying hand on him. She's unaware of any irony, only that the brother of her best friend needs help and even if she doesn't know him that well, she will give it. Especially after this talk, after which she feels the need to comfort and help him.

No tears are permitted to fall. Not now. Not after so long. Piotr steels himself, and despite the emotion that threatens to fall, he stands there in silence for several long beats, not giving into what bubbles on the surface. He takes a few long, deep breaths, allowing his mind to clear from its rather obvious duress and he his head shakes. "I should go," he finally whispers. His weight shifts from one foot to the other, aiming to move around Kitty slowly. "Thank you for your kindness, Katya," he states quietly. And then, with a really tight smile, he whispers, "I shall conquer this," it's a quote from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and one that has burned into his mind.

It's clear that Piotr is in some distress, which is exactly why Kitty came forward to comfort him. She's unaware that she is part of it, though she does know that her presence at times is uncomfortable to the man. Unfortunately, she assumes it is because he knew her to have died in his timeline and seeing her here in the flesh is difficult for him. As he pulls away, she steps back to give him a better way to move out of the room. "Of course. If you need anything, let me know," she tells him. At the quote, she tilts her head. The phrasing sounds familiar the way he says it, but she can't quite piece it together. "I'd be glad to help."

Piotr treads towards the door. He pauses at the last, steps entirely frozen from moving forward. He hesitates and considers the words. "Aye, Katya. I'm sure you would."

And with that, he steps into the hall, bound for Jericho and Illyana's apartment.


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