Collaborative RP style fanfic by shadowd and tru_blue_angel.
Piotr and Lejla exchange Christmas presents after he returns from Russian. However, their reacquaintance doesn’t end as they might have expected.
A small grunt escaped Piotr’s lips as he lifted his duffel bag off the luggage conveyer belt. Taking a seat in the lobby area, he awaited his ride to the mansion. He watched thoughtfully as luggage-toting people passed his seated figure in a rushed blur. He thought the airport would be a bit less crowded since the holidays were over. But then again, this was New York —the city that never sleeps. The airport was just as busy as it was when he was waiting for his flight to Russia nearly a month ago.
Pulling his duffel bag closer, he sighed contently to himself. Despite the loud and sometimes rude people bustling around him, Piotr’s mind drifted back to the wonderful time he’d had in Russia.
It was great to be with his family again – it was great to be home, seeing his mother’s smiling face and eating all the hearty food she had prepared for his arrival. The food at the mansion was good, but Mama’s cooking would never compare to his mama’s homemade meals.
Getting reacquainted with his sister and brother again brought him so much joy! Illyana was equally happy to see him. Piotr cheeks flushed with warmth remembering his sister’s loving embrace at his arrival. She had grown so much since he’d last seen her. Mikhail was his usual distant self, showing his affection for his younger brother in his own way, or so Piotr thought. He had done his very best not to agitate his brother while he was there. Unfortunately, the steel mutant was oblivious to the fact that just his breathing was enough to annoy Mikhail.
Spending the Christmas holidays with his family was better than any store-bought gift placed under an over-decorated tree. Thinking on it gave him a warm toasty feeling inside. A feeling the giant Russian hoped would carry him until he saw them again.
There was one thing that perplexed him. Though the love and affection of his family and farming community surrounded him, he still felt somewhat…void, as if he’d left something behind. Sensing his mild discontent, his mother asked him about the ‘red girl’ he spoke so much about. Embarrassed, he denied that anything was going on between them, but in the back of his mind, he realized that his mother knew better and could read his true emotions like a second-grader reading a Dr. Seuss book. She proceeded to make a motherly fuss about how quickly he was growing up that he already had a girlfriend.
Oh, what a beautiful girl! Her skin is the color of rubies!
Piotr smiled, remembering his mother’s reaction after he showed her a colored sketch he drew of Lejla. He gave the duffel bag in his lap a pat. His mother had insisted on sending ‘goodies’ back to Lejla, making his bag heavier than it needed to be. He never openly admitted it to his family, his mother had been right. The whole time he was in Russia, Piotr’s mind would drift back to Westchester New York, to the beautiful diamond-skinned girl who had graced him with his first kiss. He spent countless nights drifting off to sleep thinking and eventually dreaming about Lejla.
He couldn’t contain the smile creeping across his face. It wouldn’t be long before he would see the beauty of his dreams once again. He was anxious to know how she was doing, what she had been up to for the past month, to stare into those ocean-blue eyes...
The man beside Piotr trembled in shock at the sudden monstrous sneeze the Russian released, accidentally crumbling the newspaper he was reading.
“Ah… excuse me.” Piotr said quietly, receiving a mumbled ‘hmpf’ in response. Piotr sniffed a few times trying to ignore the stuffy itchiness inside his nose. It shouldn’t be much longer before someone from the mansion came for him. Professor Xavier said one of the teachers would be there to pick him up at about 10 o’clock. Groaning, he checked his watch. It still read the current time in Russia, which didn’t help him much in deciphering what time it really was here. He released a small yawn-like sigh, hoping someone would retrieve him shortly, before he fell asleep from jet lag.
“Ya ready, big guy?”
Piotr head’s snapped up as a familiar gruff voice caught his ear. The diminutive man stood beside his seat, chewing briskly on the end of a toothpick from the corner of his mouth.
“Da, Mr. Logan, I am ready.” Standing to his feet, Piotr nodded.
“How many times I gotta tell ya, it’s Logan –not mister, not sir, just Logan.” He said in his usual ill-tempered manner.
“Da. Right. Sorry.” He gave Logan a sheepish smile.
“S’alright.” Logan said, eyeing Piotr once-over. “Is that all yer stuff?”
“Da.” Grinning, Piotr held his duffel bag up for emphasis.
Snorting, Logan stalked off toward the exit, “I knew I shoulda hijacked Scott’s Harley…”
Piotr stifled a chuckle, following Logan to their mode of transportation.
The car ride from the airport was comfortably quiet for the Russian. He wasn’t intimidated by Logan’s silent loner persona as the other students at Xavier’s seemed to be. His brother Mikhail was intimidating; Logan was just… well… Logan.
Despite the quietness, the giant boy and the short man exchanged a small amount of conversation. Before long, they had reached their destination. Dropping Piotr off at the front door, Logan proceeded to drive the car around to the garage.
As the Russian made his way up the steps, despite the iciness of the cold air beneath his winter coat, he felt sudden warmth flood through his entire body. Only the thought of Lejla could bring such a feeling to the surface. Giddy excitement consumed Piotr in the form of a goofy lopsided smile as he turned the knob of the front door to his home away from home.
She’s still hanging around, Xian remarked to herself with a cocked eyebrow, returning from the front door with an armful of mail. The red girl had appeared in the front hall for at least the tenth time this afternoon and now she was practically pacing. In fact, the Asian thought that if she didn’t know better, she almost believed the girl was waiting for something in the post. But that couldn’t be it, Lejla passed her without a second glance even thought her burden was obvious. And what was with that cardigan and the French braids? Xian had to admit that one of Xavier’s most unique residents looked very attractive with her spiky hair tamed, and the sweater with its pattern of white snowflakes on a field of blue matched the color of her eyes.
Xian’s curiosity was nearly enough to make her go in search of a translator. Asking Lejla questions was useless since Xian’s knowledge of sign language was minimal. Maybe I should ask Carrie to teach me some, she mused. Stopping in front of her desk, Xian took her eyes off the girl for a few moments as she began to sort through the letters and bills.
Lejla noticed the Asian’s furtive glances, but didn’t pay them any heed. She was too preoccupied with thoughts of what she would do when she saw Piotr again. The Russian hadn’t been far from her mind the entire Christmas break. She worried about him, like she did with all those she cared for. Until recently, it had been her experience that people could be ripped from her at a moment’s notice and never seen again.
The vacation at Doug’s house was relaxing. Lejla had two extended families now, one at Xavier’s and a second at the Ramsey’s, especially since she’d told Doug’s mother that there was another boy she was interested in besides her son. Lejla was well aware that, while Mrs. Ramsey treated her warmly on this second visit and had invited her again for spring break, the woman wasn’t terribly fond of the idea there might be more than friendship between Doug and the Bosnian. Lejla had a feeling it had much less to do with her physical mutation than the fact that she was a penniless ward of Xavier’s.
Walking up to the large double doors, Lejla peeked through the glass again. She crossed her arms, hugging the warm sweater to her she was thankful that Doug had given her such a useful gift. The mansion was a trifle drafty and her leather strappings less than adequate when the cold winter air managed to infiltrate the spacious windows.
There was another fear besides something happening to Piotr, one a bit more insidious. What if Piotr had changed his mind about their relationship? What if the closeness they’d enjoyed just before he left had evaporated like a mist at sunrise? Maybe he told his family about her and they didn’t approve, as Doug’s family did not. Perhaps even more so, considering she’d never actually kissed Doug. What if, in gaining a little distance, he had second thoughts? At least he was returning, Kurt assured her when she’d questioned him. Leli could still see the curious gleam in her mentor’s eye when she refused to tell him why it mattered that much to her.
Of course it mattered. Lejla closed her eyes, an elated smile curling her lips. So what if it was almost a month, she could still feel the delight of his first kiss and wondered if she would remember it the rest of her life. The red girl suppressed an urge to giggle; it wasn’t as if she was likely to have a lot of other boys’ kisses erasing that experience. The thought she might never encounter the feeling again made her a little anxious.
Even with the sweater, it was cooler than she liked standing by the window. Stepping away from the glass, Lejla melted into the shadows of a potted plant set in the corner, that way she could see what kind of mood Piotr was in before he saw her. For someone who’d been held hostage for years, Lejla found waiting extremely difficult. His plane supposedly landed hours ago, surely it wasn’t that long a drive from Kennedy.
When the doorknob finally turned, she almost launched herself directly at it until she comprehended that it could be almost anyone. But that coat, and his height declared exactly who it was before the entire bulk of the Russian passed beneath the doorframe.
Lejla could barely contain her happiness at the sight of the smile on Piotr’s face. Her apprehension took flight, replaced by a spreading warmth that even the chilly air from the open door couldn’t smother. She nearly sprinted across the hall, pulling up short only when she suddenly recognized that she would hurt him in his unprotected state. Slightly gouging the hardwood floor in her attempt to halt her headlong dash, Lejla paused directly in front of him just as he closed the door and turned to face her. At a time like this, her inability to speak held little significance. The expression on her face far surpassed any words she could have uttered.
The Russian wondered if Lejla still thought about their kiss as much as he did. Did it mean as much to her as it did to him?
Well of course it did, you dummy. Piotr corrected his thoughts, knowing that Lejla would hardly be able to share a kiss with anyone as freely as she did with him due to her mutation. So was he more like Lejla’s one and only alternative, or did she truly feel as passionately about him as he did about her?
He pondered the thought as he passed through the threshold into the warmth of the mansion. Piotr shut the door firmly behind him before the blistering cold air could follow him inside. With his hand still on the doorknob, he paused. A scrapping sound against the floor perked his ears. He tensed as the sound halted rather close to his back. Puzzled, he slowly turned around to discover what had so abruptly stopped in behind him.
He was seeing red – literally, a rather beautiful shade of brick red to be exact.
“Leli!” Piotr bellowed joyously, dropping his duffel bag to the floor. The bright smile on Lejla’s face expressed the anxious happiness he was feeling, beaming a smile back at her.
Before he knew it, his body surged with a familiar tingling sensation. Unknowingly taking a bit of Russia back to America, steel arms scooped up the petite red girl into a snug embrace – such affection customary in his home country. The girl’s feet inches off the ground, Piotr continued to hug her. Finally placing Lejla back on the floor, he dropped to one knee so his stature was roughly eye level with the top of her head.
He stared affectionately into those eyes of hers. Eventually trailing his gaze over the rest of her face, taking note of her neatly braided hair, they quickly fell upon her misty blue orbs once again.
“I missed you.” He said, the smile on his face matching the softness of his words.
The sound of the front door swinging open and a curious scuttling noise drew Xian’s attention away from her sorting just before the Russian enthusiastically greeted the red girl and summoned his protective mutation. There was no mistaking the tenderness in the way he lifted the Bosnian in his arms.
Xian’s jaw gaped, For the love of... when did THAT happen? Some notably strange pairings had formed at Xavier’s of late – Kurt and Ororo, Rusty and Nina, Jono and Amara – this one had them beat by a mile. However, when Xian stopped to think about this relationship and what little she knew of the two teenagers, it nearly made perfect sense.
“There is definitely something in the air around here.” She muttered to herself. Deciding to give the kids some privacy, Xian picked up the pile addressed to Charles Xavier and quietly moved in the direction of his office.
The entire school could have been watching and Lejla wouldn’t have noticed. As his arms engulfed her, the sum total of Leli’s world consisted of Piotr Rasputin. She fiercely returned his hug, paying little attention to what her talons were doing to the back of his coat. Now that she was enfolded in his warmth, her heart literally ached with happiness.
She wasn’t aware that she was airborne until Piotr set her back on the floor. She sought his eyes as eagerly as he did hers.
“I missed you.” He said, the smile on his face matching the softness of his tone.
With her arms still around Piotr’s neck, Lejla was in no way ready to let go of him so she could sign an answer. Instead, she let her lips do the talking in the only way she was able.
Kissing Piotr was every bit as thrilling as it had been the first time, and maybe even more so after their long separation. Pressing closer, Lejla felt like she was melting in his arms. Again they where in a place that wasn’t in the least bit private but she couldn’t help herself, she’d begun to realize exactly how much she missed Piotr. Turning her head, this time it was she who deepened the kiss, until shivers ran down to her toes and her knees could barely support her.
Finally pulling away, her eyes immediately sought Piotr’s. Still unwilling to free her hands so they could find words, they told him the depth of her emotion. She wanted more than anything to ask him if they could find a more intimate place to renew their connection. Almost pressing forward for another kiss, Lejla became conscious of her selfishness. It was a long flight from Russian and he was probably weary.
Instead, Lejla leaned in and kissed him affectionately on the forehead. Reluctantly backing out of his arms, she signed simply, < Come upstairs >. They could take his things to his room, continuing this if his roommates weren’t present. If they were, well... this was a big house. Besides, she was eager to give Piotr the presents she’d not had time to secure before he left for home.
Lejla showed the Russian just how much she missed him by kissing him passionately. It was like she had read his mind when her crimson lips made contact with his. The Bosnian girl’s arms pulled his armored neck down closer to her and Piotr closed his eyes, feeling completely a part of the utopia known only as “Lejla”.
His shoulders relaxed into a slump when her kiss became more intimate, causing Piotr to crane his neck ever so slightly to the side, fully enjoying this long awaited pleasure. It answered all of Piotr’s questions of how Lejla truly felt about him. With all doubt removed, he decided not to let Lejla have all the fun, responding with passion of his own.
Lejla eventually pulled away, much to Piotr’s disappointment, her gaze meeting his metallic eyes. If it weren’t for the protective steel, the Russian’s lovesick glazed-over stare would have been more evident. Piotr thought the red girl was leaning in for another longer, more ardent kiss, but instead gave him a peck on the forehead. His steel cheeks grew warm with an unseen blush.
< Come upstairs >
He was still staring at her with that goofy teenage-boy grin on his face. Man, that kiss was…was…
“Huh?...Oh, da, right.” Piotr chuckled sheepishly, picking up his duffel bag and standing up. Holding out his hand for Lejla, he proceeded to lead her up the stairs.
Still hand in hand, Piotr walked down the familiar hallway to his shared bedroom. Lejla needed to stop by her room, so he waited in the hall for her. He really hoped his roommates weren’t in. He knew Neal had gone home for the holidays. Angelo, on the other hand, was a street hoodlum with no family and would probably be in their room staring idly at the ceiling, refusing to leave. Piotr tried to hide the frown at the thought of his roommate’s sometimes annoying behavior.
Reaching his room, Piotr decided it best to transform to his normal state, remembering his tendency to break doorknobs in his steel form. He gently slid his hand from Lejla’s as his body de-plated itself. He blinked at the light-headedness the conversion caused. He must have been more exhausted from the flight than he’d thought.
Knocking twice on the door and receiving no reply, he turned the knob to an empty room.
He wasn’t up for an unnecessary argument with Angelo at the moment. He only wanted to be alone with the girl who had been on his mind for the past month. Piotr frowned, groaning at the massive junk piles that had accumulated in his absence. He groaned again, kicking aside dirty clothes on the floor to get to his junk-covered bed. The room looked like a hurricane swept through it, bearing horrific things from a garbage bin. The piles of unsorted laundry and other miscellaneous objects all led to one side of the room.
“Angelo” Piotr muttered under his breath. He swore Angelo did things like this just to rake his nerves.
“Sorry, it does not look like this when I am here.” Piotr said, giving Lejla an apologetic smile.
Underwear, books, bandannas, sneakers… burger wrappers? You name it; it was on the Russian’s bed. If one was observant, Piotr’s eye could be seen twitching ever so slightly in light of the room’s messy state.
Taking the corners of his bed sheets, Piotr cradled all of the contents of his bed into a ‘sack’. He then proceeded to empty the sheet’s contents on Angelo’s bed. With a triumphant smirk, he tidily placed his sheet back on his bed in one fluid movement.
“That’s better.” He said, motioning for Lejla to approach. “I have some things for you…” He trailed off as he unzipped his bag and began to plunder through its contents. “Actually, my mama sent things for you. When I told her you loved sweets, she couldn’t resist. It is her way of greeting you.” Piotr smiled to himself, remembering his mother scurrying around the kitchen making delicious treats to satisfy Lejla’s sweet tooth. Since his mother could not physically show hospitality to Piotr’s little ‘girlfriend’, she insisted on sending it in microwavable bowls.
Piotr placed a medium-sized wooden bowl on his bed. It was covered by a matching wooden lid and secured tightly by thick twine tied repetitively around it.
“This is kissel,” Piotr said, pointing to the bowl. “It is…” Looking up, Piotr paused, trying to find the right American words to describe the bowl’s contents, “a very very sweet fruit pudding.” For some reason, the dessert just didn’t sound as good in English as it did in Russian, but Piotr shrugged the thought off as he pulled out another bowl identical to the first.
“In here are cookies.” Piotr tapped the second bowl. “They have been made by our family for years. They are called forgotten cookies, because the recipe was thought to be lost. Oh, da! One more thing…” Piotr pulled a rather large flatter bowl from his duffel bag, “I told Mama how much you like chocolate, so she made you a chocolate cake as well. I must warn you, its richness is not for the faint of heart.” Piotr flashed her a winning smile.
Biting thoughtfully on his lower lip before digging into his bag once again, Piotr retrieved a small egg-shaped, gift-wrapped object. “I…I got you something, too…er…well…actually, I made it.’ Rubbing the back of his neck, his cheeks flushed a bit, “It’s not much, but I hope you like it.”
Though the Russian downplayed his gift’s value, he had actually worked very hard on it, for a whole week. He truly hoped she liked it…
Piotr looked like Lejla felt – somewhere in the stratosphere and not really in contact with solid ground. It took him several seconds to reply to her request.
“Huh?...Oh, da, right.” Piotr chuckled sheepishly, picking up his duffel bag and standing up...
Lejla allowed Piotr to take her hand in his, barely aware yet of what he was doing. She savored the contact between them as they ascended the wide staircase side by side. It was like walking in a dream, maybe because she’d pondered so often how it would be when he returned – an end to the emptiness she’d endured ever since she watched him dive away.
She motioned him down the girl’s side hallway when they reached the top. Piotr now in tune with her desires, she didn’t need to drop his hand to sign. Jeanne-Marie was not present when she scurried inside, stopping only to grab for the bag containing Piotr’s presents. Lejla smiled at the thought of Shine off somewhere with Jamie. She hadn’t told her roommate about her changed relationship with Piotr yet, afraid that until he returned something might happen to jinx it. That anxiety was now a thing of the past.
Like a magnet, Lejla couldn’t help reconnecting with Piotr as soon as she stepped back into the hall. She never ceased to marvel how gently he held her hand in his armored form, like she was porcelain or some such other fragile material. Still, it warmed her heart because it made her feel highly valued. Lejla couldn’t help frowning a little when he broke the connection.
They entered to a sight that horrified the tidy Russian. Angelo was the single word that came to Lejla’s mind at the same time Piotr quietly breathed the same. She’d almost forgotten that Piotr roomed with her messed-up erstwhile friend.
“Sorry, it does not look like this when I am here.” Piotr said giving Lejla an apologetic smile.
Lejla returned his rueful expression. Shrugging, she offered him a brief condolence, < Not your fault >. Placing her bag by the door, she began to clear a pathway through the room. Gingerly picking up nasty smelling items of laundry, she followed Piotr’s lead, depositing them on Angelo’s bed atop the mountain that was already there. Once the task of tidying was complete, Lejla returned to the door for her bag.
“That’s better.” He said, motioning for Lejla to come closer. “I have some things for you…”
Like a little kid, Lejla nearly skipped over to Piotr’s bed. Carefully drawing his chair away from his desk, she dragged it over to where he was rummaging through his bag. She placed her own bag at her feet, craning her neck in curiosity as Piotr withdrew several items.
“Actually, my mama sent things for you. When I told her you loved sweets, she couldn’t resist. It is her way of greeting you.”
That really sparked Lejla’s interest. It was late afternoon, almost time for dinner. The red girl’s grin broadened. Piotr’s mama sounded like a woman Lejla would love to meet. < You carry all these for me? > No wonder Piotr looked so tired; even for him the burden must have been heavy.
One by one Piotr described the contents of the containers, making Lejla wonder at his mother’s generosity for a girl she had never met. Such treats, lovingly prepared, where a gift of welcome that nearly overwhelmed the Bosnian. A gesture not soon forgotten, she hoped that one day she could meet his family and thank his mother for her kindness.
While he was searching for yet another item in his bag, Lejla sliced the cord securing the top on the “forgotten” cookies and snagged one to sample. She hoped Piotr wouldn’t think her rude. Having described this wonderful food to a mutant with a black hole for a stomach, he couldn’t expect her to completely forgo a taste, could he?
Piotr bit thoughtfully on his lower lip before digging in his bag once again, retrieving a small egg-shaped gift-wrapped object. “I…I got you something, too…er…well…actually, I made it,’ he continued as he rubbed the back of his neck and his cheeks flushed a bit, “Its not much, but I hope you like it.”
Lejla regretted having to quickly swallow the delicious cookie, but Piotr seemed a little nervous about his gift. Glancing at the tall Russian as he handed her his present, Lejla eyes softened. There were already so many Christmas gifts in her room – more, in fact, than she’d ever received in her life to this date. Few of them were as significant to the red girl as this package.
Carefully slicing the paper open, Lejla’s smile grew when the subject of the hand-carved wood was slowly revealed. Lovingly cradled in her palm was the outermost figure of a matching set. Painstakingly painted in traditional Russian style – yet unique in subject – Piotr had carved Leli a set of nesting dolls. The outermost figure was of her friend in armored form. Lejla’s eyes drank in every detail before she twisted it open.
The next layer was Piotr in human form. Lejla examined it carefully; delighted to find that he had not forgotten to paint his figure’s eyes the same lovely shade of blue as his own. Raising her head, she gazed at him with unspoken admiration for his work and affection for the artist himself.
The third layer was simply a heart, red and otherwise unadorned. Lejla’s own heart skipped a beat when she noticed the thin groove testifying that there was at least one more secret hidden within. Apprehensive that she might damage the delicate carving, she handed it to Piotr so he could open it for her.
The Russian accepted the object with a shy smile, twisting the heart above Lejla’s hand so that the innermost object tumbled into the leather of her open palm. Lejla’s breath caught at the detail of the lovingly wrought figure, for it was an image... of herself.
Within his heart? He keeps ME within his heart...
Astonished, Lejla’s eyes traveled to Piotr’s face. No sign could possibly express how much this gift meant to her. Her arms longed to wrap around him, holding him as closely as he symbolically held her, but she didn’t dare touch him his unprotected body while in this emotional state.
At a momentary loss, yet unwilling to set her small replica down, she nudged her colorful bag towards Piotr with the side of her foot. She had also created something especially for him. As she worked on it, she’d pondered whether he cared for her as strongly as she did. His gift erased any doubts she might have still harbored.
Sucking in his lower lip, Piotr anxiously watched Lejla slice the wrapping from around his gift. Would she like it or would she think it was silly. Would she understand through his gift how much he truly cared for her? He hoped so.
Lejla carefully opened each layer of the nesting dolls, eyes showing sincere adoration for his gift. Hands clenching and unclenching at his sides, he grew eager for Lejla to reach the smallest nesting doll. Once the red girl uncovered the heart, she handed it back to Piotr. Understanding her plight, Piotr opened it, allowing the smallest doll within to roll into the leather-clad palm of her hand.
Lejla’s look of pure amazement was enough to erase all of Piotr’s doubts. Speechless (even with the aid of her hands), Lejla pushed a colorful bag toward Piotr with her foot. He smiled, although it originated more from Lejla’s endearing expression toward the small replica of herself than from the sight of her gift.
Flopping down gingerly on the side of his bed, Piotr picked up the gift bag, eager to see what hid inside it. Its appearance was rather deceiving, because it had a bit of weight to it, which also peaked Piotr’s curiosity. Reaching into the bag, Piotr’s hand met with a crumpling sound. It was definitely a plastic wrapping of some sort. Once his fingers felt some familiar ridges beneath the covering, Piotr’s face lit up like a small child finding goodies in his fireplace stocking.
“Oreos!” He exclaimed loudly with a laugh, naming his favorite cookies as he pulled them out of the bag. He ran his large finger lovingly along the plastic-covered ridges of one of the columns of cookies.
He didn’t waste any time opening the bag of cookies. It had been a whole month since he’d tasted the savory crumbly crème-filled goodness of his sacred Oreos. His family could barely afford American-made sweets, which is why his mama always made her own desserts.
Taking a cookie from the long column, Piotr expertly twisted off the top of the Oreo. However, he didn’t pop it into his mouth as he usually did. He breathed a small chuckle through his nose as he looked at the red-colored crème between his cookie and then over to Lejla. Of course, they were simply special holiday Oreos, but festive cookies were the last thoughts that surfaced in Piotr’s mind at the moment.
Piotr’s lips curled into a smirk, kissing the red crème of the cookie as he continued to eye Lejla. “Thank you.” He popped the crème-sided cookie in his mouth, “I shall eat them all tonight.” His voice held a mocking seriousness. He couldn’t possibly eat the whole pack tonight…well, maybe half.
As he shifted a bit on his bed, his gift bag tilted over with heaviness, hinting that there was another gift awaiting his discovery. Within the bag, Piotr found something very round and globe-like, almost too big for his hand to grasp. Its cool smoothness resembled glass. Cautiously, Piotr pulled the object out of the bag. He held his gift over his bed, feeling it was very fragile.
He picked it up by its large wooden base, turning it upright. At first sight, it looked like a large crystal ball, and the Russian thought it a rather odd gift indeed. But then again, the Bosnian girl did mention being raised by a gypsy woman, so maybe it had meaning in her culture. However, as the mist started to separate into twirling white shavings, Piotr recognized what his gift was almost immediately.
Swallowing the last bit of Oreo cookie, Piotr remarked “A snowball”, not knowing the exact name of his gift. He watched the white flakes continue their swirling paths within the globe before looking over at Lejla with a smile.
He’d never seen one of these snow globes up close. Constantly surrounded by snow for most of the year in his home country, there was really no need for such wintry reminder of their frigid hinterlands. However, once the ‘snow’ settled to the bottom, a small, rather distinct figure was revealed within the glass dome.
Actually, the figure wasn’t very small at all, but a bit hard to see with all the snowflakes floating about it. The object within was large enough for its glistening medieval attire to reflect distorted images of Piotr’s face as he peered into the globe.
“A little knight!” He said with a chuckle.
The detail was absolutely amazing! Everything from the knight’s metal helmet to his steel-plated shoes were so stunning that Piotr peered deeply into the globe, wondering if it were possible to see the eyes of the little armored man through the crack in his visor. His metal limbs were shiny, yet appeared worn in all the appropriate places. The knight was kneeling rather humbly on one knee, a pose that seemed very familiar to the Russian.
Piotr tilted the globe gently to one side, shifting some of the stubborn little snowflakes that landed on the figure’s armored suit and covered some of the more intricate details. A few of the snowy speckles had been concealing the knight’s hand. The Russian’s eyes widened with utter shock at the sudden déjà vu he experienced.
“And he is holding a –” Piotr’s words were suddenly caught in his throat after seeing what object the little man cradled in his hand.
A rose. He’s holding a rose! “Just…just like the picture you painted for me…” Voice trailing off, he slowly looked to Lejla. His brows furrowed with curiosity. “Did you carve this? I mean, the knight, the rose – did you carve it?” The rose was beautifully rendered. Every petal delicately clung at just the right angle. A symbolic gift like this simply couldn’t be bought in a store, it just couldn’t. Piotr was sure of it.
Is this the way she saw him – as her knight in shining armor? The thought made Piotr look off and contemplate silently for a moment. He found her notion rather endearing. The Russian knew it meant a lot for the Bosnian girl to trust someone so deeply. He was truly honored and touched that Lejla symbolized her faith and reliance on him in the form of a steel protector gently cradling a fragile crimson rose.
“It is beautiful.” Piotr said with quiet sincerity. Shaking the globe, he watched the wintry flakes swirl once again around the knight and his rose. He sniffed, uncertain whether it was from sentiment or simply a stuffy nose.
“I love it.”
I love you. The words echoed in his head but never formed upon his lips or rolled off his tongue.
< You are my flower > He stared intensely into her blue orbs. < My rose >, his smile warm and intimate as he signed those heart-filled words. Yes, that would be his name for her – Rose, his rose. He truly cared for her, this girl who held his heart captive since that unforgettable snow fight on the front yard of the mansion.
Moving closer to the center of his bed – and to Lejla, Piotr tucked his left leg beneath him. Was it just him or had she gotten prettier over the past month?
Piotr’s predictable response made Lejla giggle. Most times his appetite rivaled hers, but never for sweets unless it was his beloved manufactured cookies. His fondness bordered on obsession. Except for the fact that they were chocolate, Lejla didn’t see the allure. But she did love the boyish look on the Russian’s face every time he twisted one open.
While Piotr fondled the bag of cookies and almost ceremoniously pulled one apart, Lejla let the tiny carved figure in her had roll onto the surface of Piotr’s desk beside the other layers of his gift.
She turned her eyes to Piotr just as his smile grew impish. Now what was he up to? Normally he couldn’t wait to devour his Oreos, yet he sat there holding the two parts of the cookie as if he didn’t trust eating them. Was it the unexpected color of the center?
Piotr curled his lips up into a smirk, kissing the red crème of the cookie as he continued to eye Lejla. “Thank you.” He popped the crème-sided cookie in his mouth. “I shall eat them all tonight.”
Blushing furiously, Lejla ducked her head. There was something almost obscene about the way he kissed the cookie and then devoured it, chewing purposely slow, and yet she decided she liked it.
Lejla bit at her lower lip. For just a moment, she feared Piotr wasn’t aware that there was another special gift within the bag until it nearly toppled over. She held her breath as Piotr parted the tissues and drew it into the light.
He seemed puzzled at first, which amused Lejla. Surely Piotr had seen a snowglobe before.
“A snowball.” Piotr said, not knowing the exact name of his gift, watching the white flakes continue their swirling paths within the globe. He looked over Lejla with a smile. “A little knight!” He said with a chuckle.
Suppressing a snort at Piotr’s misnaming, Lejla was content with merely smiling sweetly. It turned into girlish giggle with his delight in discovering what she’d placed inside.
The Russian’s eyes widened with utter shock at the sudden déjà vu he experienced. “And he is holding a –” Piotr’s words were suddenly caught in his throat after seeing what the little man cradled in his hand.
Heart beating rapidly, Lejla leaned closer and waited for Piotr to understand the significance of her gift.
“Just…just like the picture you painted for me…” His voice trailing off, he slowly looked to Lejla. His brows furrowed with curiosity. “Did you carve this? I mean, the knight, the rose – did you carve it?”
Lejla signed simply. < Yes >
Sometime she would explain to him how she and Jeanne-Marie had searched for just the right size globe. How she’d begged Lawrence for some old silverware to sculpt the figure within. Shiro had also played a part, softening the metal so that she could form it into the right pose and welded the glass back onto the base. Even though he wasn’t aware, Doug helped as well – downloading some pictures of knights in armor at her request. Explanations could wait. Lejla adored the look of wonder in Piotr’s eyes. She wanted nothing to ruin the moment.
“It is beautiful.” Piotr said with quiet sincerity. Shaking the globe, he watched the wintry flakes swirl once again around the knight and his rose. He sniffed, uncertain whether it was from sentiment or simply a stuffy nose.
“I love it.”
Nearly melting from the look Piotr shared with her, Lejla rose from her seat. Moving as if in a dream, she leaned over until she nearly touched his bed. Weeks ago she thought she was falling in love with Doug. That was but a distant memory, eclipsed by what she now felt for the tall Russian.
< You are my flower > He stared intensely into her blue orbs. < My rose >, his smile warm and intimate as he signed those heart-filled words.
Heat flowing through her, Lejla’s eyes remained locked with his. Somehow her hands found the signs < And you are my knight. > Piotr had never been taught the last sign, but somehow Lejla knew he would understand just the same. There was another he would comprehend. Her mind lingered over that symbol, hands momentarily ceasing their movement.
Soon, very soon. My heart is not ready...
She must be sure before she made that declaration. Instead, her fingers formed different words. < Please change. > Her eyes reinforced her request. In this private place, Lejla desperately wanted to continue what they’d started downstairs.
Not waiting for Piotr to comply, she carefully crept onto his bed, pulling herself into his lap, Lejla slid her arms around his back. Her desire to be close to him had only strengthened with the long days of separation. There were far more satisfying ways to show him what she could not yet tell him in words.
< Please change. >
He didn’t need any extra signing to know what those two words meant. He was in tune with Lejla’s needs; he wanted the same thing. The movement and notions of the two love-struck teens were perfectly in sync with one another.
As the red beauty settled into his lap, Piotr almost instantly morphed into Lejla’s steel-plated ‘knight’. Lejla’s razored arms wrapped around the Russian’s already armored back. Tilting his still fleshly head, Piotr’s transformation was complete the very instant his lips met Lejla’s. His bed whined in protest at his sudden increase in weight, but Piotr ignored the noise, knowing that Professor Xavier had made certain its frame had the utmost reinforcements in case his powers were ‘accidentally’ triggered. This was, by no means, a fortuitous transformation.
He closed his eyes, fully taking in the long awaited kiss. The quick ‘peck’ he received at the door was a mere tease in comparison. This – right here, right now – was the real thing.
As magical as it was the first time in the snow, the memory of his first kiss brought a small shiver up his spine, or maybe it was just Lejla’s taloned fingertips tickling the arch of his back. The shiver caused the Russian’s large steel hands to find the small of Lejla’s back and gently pull her closer so that he could feel her warmth against his chest.
Cradling her petite frame in his arms, Piotr deepened the kiss. He groaned as the warmth and moisture of her lips made him both light-headed and anchored him in place. His hand stroked the side of her face, savoring her razor touch on his numbing armor. He gently fingered the braided pattern of her hair before his hand glided down to the small of her back once again.
Lips finally parting, Piotr exhaled softly, although it sounded a bit hollow in his steel form. The diamond beauty had literally taken his breath away. “I waited a whole month for that.” Lazily opening his silver eyes, he looked deeply into Lejla’s.
Still holding Lejla close to his chest, Piotr leaned against the headboard. His left arm supporting her back, he held her with his right hand resting lightly between her waist and hip. It was good to be back at school again; it was even better being with his rose.
Chapter 5 continued on page 2
Photomanipped pic of Colossus and Penance from a recent comic cover. (Kitty/Piotr shippers please don't throw things lol) -