Page two, Chapter 5 - Reunion
Return to page 1
Understanding that Piotr’s control over his mutation was less than complete, still Lejla trusted he would respond as she wished. She wasn’t disappointed. For days she’d fantasized about their reacquaintance. It was nothing compared to the reality of his lips against hers. No cold to interrupt, and God forbid, no roommates, Leli would have gladly remained in his embrace indefinitely.
Through the fog of her ardent response, Lejla’s fingers lightly caressed Piotr’s back. Sensing not fabric but warm pliant steel, she wondered vaguely if she should have bought him a shirt for Christmas. Excitement washing over her, the thought evaporated when Piotr pulled her tightly against his chest. Lejla knew it wasn’t the proper time, but something deep within wanted Piotr to bear her to the mattress, to take this a step further than they had on the cold snowy lawn. Not certain if she had the willpower to deny him, she was faintly relieved when he pulled away.
“I waited a whole month for that.”
Pouting lips betraying her disapproval, she wasn’t about to allow Piotr complete relaxation. She nuzzled his exposed neck, trailing gentle kisses up its length until she reached his ear. Brushing her lips across his earlobe, Leli made a soft sound in the back of her throat. She nibbled lightly, thrilled with his response; she giggled at the noises he was making. She continued the trail of kisses across the line of his jaw, returning her lips to his mouth. This kiss spoke less of passion and more of warmth and comfort, a seal over the growing bond between them.
This is love... it has to be, she mused, losing herself in his kiss a second time.
Lejla never took relationships lightly – life was too fragile, too unpredictable. She was in love with Piotr, of that she was now certain. Unlike her affection for Doug, this had no air of hopelessness. ...Yet, her heart held her back from telling him so. An ever present niggling voice in the back of her mind told her it was too good to be true, that she was cursed and this only a fleeting pleasure. With great difficulty she put the thought aside. She was no longer an unwanted waif. It was time to forget the past, embrace her new life with open arms.
Uncertainty melting into acceptance, she drank from his lips until she was overflowing with joy. She would tell him how strongly she felt, but not now. When the time was right she would know.
With a contented sigh, Lejla snuggled into the shelter of Piotr’s strong arms. She lay her head against his shoulder, fully aware that her hair would damage his clothing. What did it matter, the shirt was ruined anyway. She’d take the card Papa had given her and buy him another... maybe a dozen. She didn’t worry about her own needs. Everything she ever wanted was right here – love, if she dared name it that... belonging, safety... Even Emplate could not threaten her with Piotr to protect her. The Russian an integral part of her life, she didn’t think about her captor nearly as often. He surrounded her with a sense of security she’d never known before.
For several minutes, they shared the warm delight of holding each other close. Signing anything in this proximity was difficult at best. Lejla was satisfied to feel the steady beat of Piotr’s heart and the rumble of his voice as he told her of his family visit.
“I waited a whole month for that.” Piotr said happily, relaxing against the headboard of his bed. However, Lejla had other thoughts in mind, lips planting sweet kisses on the length of Piotr’s neck. The Russian could feel every peck of their dangerously textured surface, no matter how gentle. He smiled, trying not to release the quiet laughter her tickling was causing.
“Leli…” He protested, but her name came out in a chortle instead of the stern manner he intended. Just as he was about to even the score by tickling the red girl, his eyes widened with sudden surprise. Mischievous lips on his ear, Lejla touched a weak spot the Russian didn’t know he possessed. The little she-devil didn’t stop there. She proceeded to gently graze his earlobe. The toes on Piotr’s right foot reflexively curled at the vibrant sensation of Lejla’s teeth. Her soft throaty growl wasn’t helping the Russian’s twitching hormones either.
Piotr felt he would dissolve beneath the Bosnian’s torment – the way she teased his earlobe was excruciating. Piotr’s lips twitched into a boyishly contented smile. Then his body started to tingle with a very familiar sensation.
Why was it that his powers always wanted to go out of whack at the most bothersome moments?
Piotr groaned, though the sound was more one of satisfaction than from the fact that he could possibly revert back to flesh and become a human she-kabob.
“Leejlaa…” speaking her name in utter blissfulness, Piotr couldn’t move, paralyzed by the mere nibbling of his ear. Was this what it meant to experience an ‘intimate weakness’? His older brother had often spoken of this in more ‘lewd’ terminology, but Piotr had a feeling that was exactly what it was.
Please stop…please stop…please stop… He begged mentally. The only other motion he was able to make was unconsciously squeezing Lejla’s waist.
Oh, thank God! Piotr exhaled a tremendous gasp as Lejla’s lips moved to his jaw. The tingling feeling immediately vanished once she left his ear alone. His toes slowly uncurled from their tightened position, but his heart still raced from the sudden panic. Although the thought of reverting to flesh while so close to Lejla scared him, it was also exciting.
He was too embarrassed to tell Lejla what her devilish ear nibbling had almost caused him to do. She didn’t exactly give him the chance. Pressing her lips against his own, he forgot his momentary awkwardness. Caught up in the kiss, Piotr nearly lost control of his tongue as it dared to brush the back of his teeth, begging to go farther. Knowing that it had no metallic properties whatsoever, he checked his actions, forcing his tongue to the roof of his mouth until the kiss was over.
Keep it together, Rasputin. First you almost change back, and then you nearly lose your tongue! What’s wrong with you? Piotr began to question his strange behavior, unsure of whether it was teenage hormones or something more.
Definitely something more…
Satisfied, his glossy silver eyes stared dreamily at the beautiful girl, as if he had just had sip of red wine that went straight to his head.
For several minutes the teens took turns sighing ecstatically, just happy to finally be in the presence of one another. What bit of pride he’d nearly lost Piotr had managed to regain by holding Lejla tightly in his arms. He felt as if he could protect her from anything – he was the mansion’s ‘man of steel’ after all. He knew Lejla had suffered terrible things before she arrived at Xavier’s, things that she never described in detail.
No one will ever hurt you while I am here, he thought sternly, planting a kiss on the crown of Lejla’s head. He smiled, taking note of the shredded cloth on his chest, the remains of his shirt. Never very materialistic, the Russian mentally shrugged the thought of its destruction from his mind.
“It was wonderful seeing my family again. We spent most of our time working, but we still managed to have fun just being together.” Piotr said with a low happy tone. “Mama, she has a new job at a bakery!” The excitement was obvious in his voice as he continued, “It is more money than her job at the mill; things are starting to look better now.” Piotr told Lejla how tight money often was in his family, so he knew she would understand the importance of his mother’s new job. “She sends you many hugs and kisses and wishes greatly to meet you one day.”
“And ‘Yana,” the Russian rolled his eyes, his tone changing slightly, “I keep forgetting she is not a little girl anymore. Do you know I caught her kissing some town boy outside our barn?! I chased him off with snowballs before the heathen further ruined my sister. ‘Yana said she would never forgive me for ruining her love life. She does not have a ‘love life’,” Piotr was only half joking, “and she will not have one until she is thirty.” He sighed affectionately, “She hardly means the things she says, but sometimes I think she goes out of her way just to give Mama a hard time—a rebel without a cause I suppose. Thankfully, Illyana took a break from preteen rebellion over the holidays.”
“I tried not to bother Mikhail while I was home. Everyday I worked side by side with him outdoors; he hardly said anything to me.” Piotr’s voice trailed off. He propped his right knee up and held Lejla closer, self-conscious of his inadequacy in his older brother’s eyes. “I told him how high my grades were this semester and how much better I could control my powers… I guess he was just too busy to listen right then…he cares in his own way…” Piotr said absently, as if he were trying to convince himself more than Lejla of his brother’s love.
“Anyway, we were all together; that’s what really matters, da?” he asked with a rather rhetorical question. “And, what did you do during the holidays, my rose?” He said in a deeply engaging tone, gently nuzzling Lejla’s neck Piotr waited for her response.
Sincerely hoping that Piotr didn’t mind her meager communication, Lejla kept her response to occasional nods. She didn’t want him to think she lacked interest, but after a month of separation, she wasn’t willing to deprive herself of his touch.
“And, what did you do during the holidays, my rose?”
Grinning at his new word of endearment, Lejla was pleased that Piotr understood the significance of the flower in the first picture she’d painted of him. With the esteem he lavished on her, she was finally beginning to see herself as others saw her – not always a freak, but something rare and beautiful that required careful handling.
Lejla was reluctant, and not only because she averred the separation. A master of diversion, she often chose to deflect the conversation away from herself. She’d been doing it with Doug for nearly a month, every time the subject of the Russian had come up. Besides, signing would require her to give up her comfortable position against his body.
Nevertheless, this was Piotr, and if she really loved him, prevarication wasn’t the best way of strengthening their relationship. Heaving a sigh, she levered her body to an upright position.
< I missed you. > The declaration was overkill, he already knew that she had, but for some reason she needed to state it. Lejla resisted leaning in to emphasize with a kiss. That would be merely another way to delay answering.
< You know I go to Doug’s house after you leave > Of course he does, stop stalling idiot. < Jeanne-Marie and Fred go also. Doug’s Mother and Father very nice, treat us like part of family. > She smiled at the thought of how similar it had been sharing a room with Shine, almost like she’d never left the mansion. < We play in snow. I show Jeanne-Marie how make snow angel. > Lejla winked at Piotr, recalling that day on the lawn. She would never forget it as long as she lived.
Lejla shifted in Piotr’s lap, bouncing happily up and down as an excited child might have done. < I never have Christmas like this before. Too many presents I think. I never get so many presents in my life. > Until the last few months, Lejla had very few things she could truly call her own. She would have to show Piotr how different her side of the dorm room now looked. It was as if her friends at Xavier’s were trying to make up for her want in one fell swoop.
Smile still huge, her thoughts turned to activities. < I learn new game. > Lejla loved games – board games, strategy games, guessing games. It was one thing she and Piotr had never really indulged in to any great extent. < Doug teach me how play chess. He let me win once > Lejla added with a giggle. He’d also made quite a fuss about losing, a melodramatic scene that assured Lejla he’d done it on purpose. She was determined to hone her skills on Kurt so that she had a better chance of winning legitimately. < Maybe we play sometime? > She asked, cocking her head to the side, not knowing if he even knew how to play.
Pausing for a moment, Lejla bit her lip while she tried to think of other details. < We go shopping. > It wasn’t her first trip to the mall, but it had been more crowed. < Jeanne-Marie think I should wear things on top leather. She drag me all around mall. > Lejla overemphasizing the signs, heaving an exaggerated sigh. When it came to things of a feminine nature, Shine was irrepressible.
The mall trip had been an interesting experience, but with mixed results. Lela recalled with a shudder the gang of young teens that nearly ruined the day. < Doug almost get in fight with rude boy who make fun of me. > Lejla had been very proud of him, standing up for her at his own expense. That same day he’d spied a sweater, a familiar shade of blue. Lejla had been thrilled to find it under the Christmas tree < This sweater Christmas present from Doug. It looks nice on me, yes? > She crossed her arms, hugging the open cardigan to herself for emphasis. It was already looking a little threadbare in places where she’d accidentally brushed it with her claws, but she didn’t care. It was such a relief to have something bright to wear for once rather than her dismal leather straps.
Tiring of the conversation, Lejla pursed her lips. < Talk later at dinner. > She unceremoniously concluded it by relaxing back on Piotr’s chest. What she craved at the moment was the physical contact only the Russian dared. One of his roommates could come in at any time. Why spoil the precious private time with chatter they could finish in the dininghall.
Piotr could sense her smile as he called Lejla by her newfound ‘pet name.’
He tried to hide the adoring grin that was tugging at the corner of his lips when Lejla unwillingly pushed herself upright to ‘speak’ to him. Little did the red girl know that the way she was behaving was the way the Russian felt; he did not want to part from her touch either.
< I missed you. >
Piotr chuckled at how cute she was when she signed such endearing words. “I think you’ve shown that in more ways than you know.” He said with a suggestive quirk of his lips, hinting at her devious ear nibbling.
< You know I go to Doug’s house after you leave >
Piotr noticed that Lejla seemed a bit hesitant to carry on. Nodding, he prompted her to continue. Piotr knew Lejla and Doug were friends before they started talking. Truth be told, Piotr had a feeling he could not describe when he left for Russia knowing that Lejla would be in the care of another guy. This same feeling was the source of his doubt about Lejla’s feelings toward him when he returned.
< Jeanne-Marie and Fred go also. Doug’s Mother and Father very nice, treat us like part of their family. >
Knowing that Jeanne-Marie and Fred were also present made Piotr feel better – a little.
< We play in snow. I show Jeanne-Marie how make snow angel. >
Lejla’s wink prompted a victorious smile, as though Piotr were winning some unseen competition.
< I never have Christmas like this before. Too many presents I think. I never get so many presents in my life. >
Piotr’s grin widened at her excitement. He was truly happy Lejla had such a wonderful Christmas, even if she was at Doug’s house.
< I learn new game. >
< Doug teach me how play chess. He let me win – once > Lejla added with a giggle.
Chess? Piotr mustered a half smile. He hadn’t realized how much Lejla liked games of that nature. Piotr never really took the time to play ‘mind games’ such as chess. He’d much rather play games involving physical activity. If weight training were a game, he would definitely win it, hands down.
< Maybe we play sometime? >
“Puh-play?” Piotr’s voice heightened. I don’t even know how to play checkers!
Piotr had never had a sense of ‘strategy’ or planned anything that he did – he just did it. So how was he supposed to play this tactical game of chess? Little Molly had beaten him three times in a row at a simple game of tic-tac-toe. The Russian was terrible at board games. He would look fairly dimwitted compared to Doug if he tried to play such a game with Lejla.
Forcing a smile, he spluttered out, “D-da, sure.”
You idiot! Piotr winced mentally at his stupid reply.
< We go shopping. > Piotr had begun to tune Lejla out until she repeated her friend’s name again. < Doug almost get in fight with rude boy who make fun of me. >
Piotr didn’t say anything to this questionable information. Why was Doug defending her? Wasn’t there someone else with them who could have spoken up on Lejla’s behalf – Jeanne-Marie maybe? The indescribable feeling Piotr experienced while leaving for Russia had returned. As yet nameless, it slowed his breathing and tightened the chest muscles beneath his steel shielding. Scared that Lejla would see on his face what he was feeling inside, he kept his eyes focused on her hands.
< This sweater Christmas present from Doug. It looks nice on me, yes? >
“He bought you a sweater?” Piotr questioned in a slightly indignant tone. He looked at Lejla, at her beautiful (and probably very expensive) sweater. The fabric she wore with such adoration made his gift seem mediocre in comparison. It was funny how that confounded sweater was one of the first things the steel mutant noticed when Lejla greeted him at the door. He thought she had worn it for him. But, noooo, she had worn it because Doug bought it for her.
“I mean…that’s…that’s…nice.” He tried to recover, but it didn’t come out as smoothly as he thought it would.
She proceeded to hug the object of his aversion, wrapping her arms around herself. This action only made the Russian’s throat go dry. He suddenly had thoughts of Lejla and Doug and a mysterious emotion began nagging at the confidence he had in their growing relationship. Heart growing heavy, he looked over to his abandoned gift sprawled across his desk.
Tiring of this conversation, Lejla pursed her lips. < Talk later at dinner. > She unceremoniously concluded it by relaxing back on Piotr’s chest.
Still in contemplative thought, Piotr didn’t know what last words she signed before Lejla abruptly plastered her body to his. Her gesture made him subconsciously lean away from her, pushing his back against the headboard. A growing obscure mood seemed to be placing itself right between the knight and his rose.
“Uhm...Actually…I’m…I’m a bit tired from the plane ride…” he said tensely, although his words were true. He was extremely jet-lagged from the trip. Never making direct eye contact with Lejla, he gently pried the red girl away from his body. “I...I think I will take a nap before dinner.” His voice was a bit distant despite trying to sound as if there was nothing wrong. He really was tired, but the heaviness in his chest wanted Lejla to leave as well.
Swinging his legs over the opposite side of the bed, his back now facing Lejla, Piotr reverted back to his human state. He winced at the sharp pain in his forehead the transformation left behind. Yawning, he found he was more exhausted than he thought.
He shifted to face Lejla on the opposite side of the bed. “I just need to get some sleep.” He tried looking in her eyes, this time succeeding. With a strained smile he added, “I’ll see you at dinner.”
< This sweater Christmas present from Doug. It looks nice on me, yes? >
“He bought you a sweater?” Piotr questioned in a slightly indignant tone. “I mean…that’s…that’s…nice.” He tried to recover, but it didn’t come out as smoothly as he thought it would.
Hands dancing happily, Lejla didn’t notice Piotr’s responses had changed until she mentioned the sweater. The way he blurted out his comment made Lejla wince. What was wrong with Doug wanting her to be warm? It was only an article of clothing, and much needed at that. Surely Piotr didn’t wish her to be uncomfortable in her chilly classroom. Lejla shrugged off the uneasiness.
Tiring of the conversation, Lejla pursed her lips. < Talk later at dinner. > She unceremoniously concluded it by relaxing back on Piotr’s chest.
Avoidance was Lejla’s middle name. There was something going on with Piotr she couldn’t quite comprehend. His easygoing manner was gone – she could sense the stiffening of his posture even through his armoring. Did I say something wrong? The words passed through her mind but Lejla gave them no expression. Whatever it was, she didn’t want to deal with it now. Snuggling into his chest, she attempted to recapture their quiet elation. Piotr would have none of it.
“Um..actually…I’m…I’m a bit tired from the plane ride…” He said tensely. Never making direct eye contact with Lejla, he gently pried the red girl away from his body. “I...I think I will take a nap before dinner.” His voice was a bit distant despite trying to sound as if there was nothing wrong.
He gave Lejla no choice, pushing her gently but firmly away. Lejla could see the truth in his words. He did look tired, and had since he came through the door. However, she couldn’t help thinking that there was something else bothering him. Lejla eyed him suspiciously, an uncomfortable ache growing in her chest from his sudden indifference. Not ten minutes ago they were holding each other like neither ever wanted to let go – and now this?
He shifted to face Lejla on the opposite side of the bed. “I just need to get some sleep.” He tried looking Lejla in the eyes, this time succeeding. With a strained smile he added, “I’ll see you at dinner.”
Throat tightening, Lejla responded with a nod. She was being abruptly dismissed for reasons she could not fathom and it stung more deeply than she would admit.
She carefully slid off his bed, eyes darting over the three containers he’d said were for her. There was no way she could carry them all and Piotr didn’t offer his assistance. Fearing she might damage them, Lejla did not attempt to put the pieces of Piotr’s gift back together. She gently picked up each carving, depositing them onto the lid of the nearest bowl. The other two could stay in his room for later, she no longer had an appetite for his mother’s sweets.
Bewildered, Lejla moved to the door with her burden. She paused to glance over her shoulder, but Piotr’s attention was no longer hers. Her last thought before she quietly slipped out was a hope that rest would improve his disposition.
When he was sure Lejla had left the room, Piotr sighed with both relief and melancholy, thankful that the red girl was gone. Putting his Oreos on the floor on the opposite side of his bed and his snow globe on the nightstand, Piotr yawned again, stretching out on his back. He thought the feeling would go away after her departure, but it didn’t.
“AH-CHOO!” Sniffing, Piotr tried in vain to cleanse his mind from thoughts of Lejla and Doug together.