Disclaimer: The X-Men characters, and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant to infringe on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the X-Men and related characters in any way.
Copyright: No copying, distributing or editing of this material is permitted without the express permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright law. I abstain from violence... but my bodyguard doesn't. This takes place shortly after Colossus joins the X-Men.

by K-Nice

The sun sinks beneath the distant horizon of the Adirondacks, painting a landscape of purples and oranges across the cloud-dashed sky, He pays the picturesque tableau no mind.

A gentle breeze brushes his short dark hair, which is wet with sweat and flecked with paint.

This evening, he is not a farmer or a freedom fighter. He is a painter.

Birds chatter like monkeys in the trees and gnats tickle his ears. He ignores all distractions, burying himself into the act of creation.

He remembers the fresh air of his homeland. On their rural farm, his family knew nothing of smog or pollution. They lived simply, coaxing crops from the land, not only for themselves but to feed their brother comrades. There was joy in that, in waking early and coming in late, sacrificing for the sake of the common people of Russia.

There was a time he took pride in the mundane act of cleaning a tractor engine, because that tractor belonged to all of Russia and he was responsible for maintaining it.

He was also responsible for destroying it. He is powerful, like a Titan, brute strength, a force for devastation.

His fist curls hard around his brush. Such delicate bristles yet so powerful. They create lives and loves, broad strokes carving out worlds, fine lines populating them. They transfer to him the power of a god, of a son of Athena or Minerva.

When he was just a boy, his sketching was considered a pastime, a throwback to childish doodling in his father's eyes. Artists are weak. Astronauts, on the other hand, are heroes.

He slashes at his work, cutting it with steel grays, bleeding it with reds.

He is not the big dumb brooding giant they assume him to be. He is certainly not dumb. He knows. They call it middle child syndrome. There are books on it in the Professor's library. Stuck between the courageous big brother and adorable baby sister, he hid his supposed inadequacies in unswerving devotion to them. By protecting her, he took on her gentleness. By worshiping him, he took on his determination.

Perhaps he has gone too far in emulating them. He is a soldier, bringing the strength of steel to bear upon his enemies. He is a savior, protecting the weak and innocent. He boldly left his homeland to live among strangers, yet, through his kind disposition, those strangers became a family unto themselves.

His fingers smear paint as he presses his face to his creation.

Like God touching Adam on Michelangelo's famous ceiling, he seals his creative works with his own powerful touch.

He walks back to the mansion, his boat house mural complete. Ororo merely said it needed painted. She didn't specify one color. He has used his entire palate.

Illyana and Mikhail will always be with him now, smiling their approval down on him.

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