This was a fic written by request (at the X-Universe Board), as a memorial to Piotr Rasputin, following his... unfortunate... demise in Uncanny X-Men #390. Apparently I made a few of the patrons cry, so this can't be THAT bad ;)

Anyway: stuff to get out of the way...

Rating: G, for excessive warm fuzziness ;)
Disclaimer: Nobody here belongs to me, but instead to Marvel Comics, which means I'm making less than nothing from this piece of fanfiction. Unfortunately :(
Notes: *text* = inner thoughts.

- Phil.

by Philip Hunn

My little sister’s grave is lightly sprinkled with the winter snows that have covered the Xavier Estate for the past few days, the black granite largely untouched by the elements still, and the gold lettering that marks her date of birth and date of death still clearly visible. I kneel and place some flowers down in the little pot that rests in front of the headstone. Illyana loved posies, and these flowers were some of her favourites-–bright red and blue tulips that have been plucked from Dutch soil and transplanted here to the United States. ‘Yana would never have seen them if she had had a normal life, but once she had, she fell in love with them almost straight away. Like her friendship with Katya, that love survived her magical de-ageing and her loss of her mutant powers. I place a hand on the top of the gravestone and say in a gentle voice "It is good to see you again, my little snowflake-–your big brother has missed you very much. He still misses you, you know-–every day, every hour, every minute. I would give all that I am to see you again, my dear sister." I use the Russian that I have not spoken properly in years, since ‘Yana could not understand much English besides that which I taught her-–the usual textbook phrases about saying please and thank you, about asking directions and buying a newspaper, that kind of thing. I find Russian much easier to convey ideas through, even after so many years here in America. English is a muddled mongrel language, but I can make myself understood. With Russian I can allow my heart to soar, to take my sister on flights of fancy beyond Shi’Ar space, beyond life and death, beyond everything that we have seen in our lives. I take a deep breath and begin to tell her the stories of what we X-Men have recently done-–beginning with the reunion of Katya, Kurt and myself in America, and continuing with our fight against the false X-Men and Cerebro. I use trees as the "bad guys", as Logan would no doubt call them, hurling little snowballs at them as and when I am demonstrating doing a fastball special with my little friend. In my mind, I can hear my sister giggling and cheering for the next move that we make, shouting, "Get them, big brother! Get them!" At this point, I would pick her up, spin her around and hold her above my head as she demanded to join in, and we would fight the bad people together, side by side.

"Oh, ‘Yana..." I say, tears beginning to bead at the edges of my eyes at that thought. "Please forgive me. I have been away for so long that I have neglected you, and I did not mean for that to happen-–I promise you that. You will always be in my heart, my precious sister-–until the day we meet again." I take a deep breath and kiss the headstone gently, a solitary tear dripping onto its obsidian surface. "I love you, snowflake."

I stand, and turn to leave, when I see Logan leaning against a tree, clad in his trademark leather jacket, plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy hat, thick gloves on his hands and heavy boots on his feet. "You planning to spend all day out here, tin-can?" he says in his gruff, cigar-roughened voice.

I tilt my head slightly, puzzled. "How long have you been there, Logan?" he shrugs.

"Not long-–maybe a minute or so. Wouldn’t have mattered if it’d been any longer, though-–Russian ain’t my strong suit, so whatever you were sayin’ to yer baby sister stays between the two o’ you." He walks up to me and puts his hand on my shoulder, standing on the tips of his feet to do so. "I ain’t gonna pretend to know what you been goin’ through, boy, but you know I’m here if you need to talk." I sigh.

"Thank you, Logan," I reply. "The thought is appreciated, but I really think I should try to get over this by myself." Logan holds his hands up.

"It’s your call, Petey, but let me tell you a story first. Can I do that?" I nod, intrigued.

"Sure-–da," I say. "What is it you wish to tell me?" Logan folds his hands and crosses his arms across his body, looking briefly to the grey sky.

"Once upon a time, there was a man," he begins. "Nothin’ remarkable about that, but this man, he was wild-–drunk every night, a different woman every night, whatever; he thought he’d never need nobody for nothin’. He went through life hittin’ out at people he didn’t like, or who got in his way. He thought he could survive by himself, because everything he’d ever known had fallen down around him. Then, he met a woman-–a beautiful woman, who gave him her heart and her soul, and put the beast in him to shame-–and he thought that his life was turnin’ around. But then, just as he was about to marry this woman, she told him he was unworthy, and even later than that, she died, poisoned and broken, and the man, he thought that his life was going to crumble ‘bout his ears. He felt like the beast was going to take over again-–like his life was goin’ to be worth jack again. But he realised that he had friends, this man. He realised that if he let his friends in, that they could help him-–they couldn’t make the pain go away, but they could at least make it hurt less." He smiles. "We’re here for you, Petey-–don’t suffer in silence. Talk to the Prof, or me, or Jean, or even One-Eye. Bottom line is, this is a team, and we won’t let one of our own down." That brings a smile to my face.

"Thank you, Logan," I say again. "I will bear that in mind." The little man grins, exposing sharp canines, and he touches the brim of his hat with a forefinger.

"Good. You’re a good kid, Petey-–don’t make me have to change my opinion of you." He points to the mansion. "Kitty asked me to come out here, by the way. She wants to show you how to play 'Quake II' on her computer. I tried it myself, but I guess this ol’ Canucklehead ain’t the videogame type. I kept getting my ass kicked, so I took that as my cue to come get you." I raise an eyebrow.

"Are you sure she asked for me specifically?"

"Well, there ain’t any other guys named Peter around here, are there?" Logan says, shrugging. "No doubt about it, pal-–she wants to humiliate you live an’ in person." He grins. "You should feel honoured."

It is considerably warmer inside the mansion than outside, as evening continues to tighten its grip on the world. Kitty’s room is decorated with posters of bands and old Hollywood films, and is lit gently by a set of four lightbulbs hanging from the centre of the ceiling. Kitty has her hair tied back into a ponytail, her thick auburn curls nevertheless cascading around her face like a waterfall. She is blossoming into a truly beautiful young woman. She turns as I enter the room, getting up excitedly from her chair and fussing over me as if I am a little boy.

"Put your coat down on the bed-–don’t worry about all those clothes, I’ll put ‘em away sometime-–and come and sit down, Peter. I want to show you something." She sits back down in her red folding chair, and I take the blue one that is positioned next to it. The computer monitor glows, and is suddenly filled with screaming aliens who seem to be erased from existence by Kitty almost as soon as they appear, as she presses buttons on the computer’s keyboard with astonishing speed. I find it hard to keep up with how many she has murdered, until she ends her game and hands me her computer’s joystick. "Here," she says. "Maybe you’d be more comfortable with this." I take the stick uncertainly, eyeing the carnage on the screen warily.

"Katya..." I say quietly, "perhaps I am not cut out for such things. If Logan cannot play, then what chance do I have?" Kitty shakes her head.

"You won’t know if you don’t try," she says. "Come on-–one game won’t do you any harm."

"Please, Katya." I put the joystick down on the desk’s surface with what I think is a certain amount of finality. "I don’t want to do this."

"Why not?" Kitty’s voice is full of inquisitive curiosity.

"I have just been to my sister’s grave, Katya. It isn’t... appropriate. Do you see what I am getting at?" Kitty’s face falls.

"Oh. I see." I smile hopefully at her.

"We could still play chess, if you wish." Her eyes light up, and she switches off her computer and finds the carved wooden box that holds her favourite birthday present-–a set of antique wooden chess pieces that I bought for her shortly after she first arrived at the mansion. They were hard to find, but the end result was worth it, I think.

"Which colour you want to be, Peter?" She holds up two pieces-–one white, one black-–and puts them behind her back, shuffling them around so as to make my choice anything but straightforward. She holds out her hands and, smiling coyly, says "Pick a colour, any colour." I tap her right hand, and she unfurls it to reveal a black pawn. She squeals with delight and says, "I get to go first! Get ready to get beaten, Peter!" Opening out the box, she unfolds it into its chessboard shape, setting out her pieces as she does so. She is already planning how she is going to beat me, I can see it in her eyes. She is ruthless when it comes to games, it must be said-–absolutely ruthless. In fact I am at a loss to explain how she manages to project such an air of innocence at all other times. She pushes a pawn out into the centre of the board and says "Your move, Peter."

"Be gentle?" I say, as I move a knight out into the middle of our miniature battlefield. She grins wickedly.

"Never," she replies.

It is a foregone conclusion. Kitty’s quick mind and sheer malice have me beaten quickly and mercilessly. We play again, to the same conclusion. She asks me to play again, but I refuse, laughing. "Katya, I am no good at chess! Perhaps you would be better off playing the Professor?" Kitty laughs, a musical sound.

"That wouldn’t be fair!" she says indignantly. "It’s no fun playing against someone who knows your next three moves better than you do!"

"And I am different, somehow?" I ask. "How so?"

"You don’t have head powers, for one thing," Kitty replies. "And you have a lovely head of hair. And you’re much cuter than he is." She kisses me on the cheek. "Come on, Peter-–I think I want some dinner, and I don’t want to eat it by myself, all right? I think there’s some ravioli in the refrigerator that we can share. All we have to do is heat it in the microwave and it’s good enough to eat. What do you say?" I pause for a second, looking as if I am thinking her offer over seriously.

"I say... what is stopping us?" I grab her around the waist and bound down the stairs, with Kitty shrieking blue murder in my ears until we arrive down in the kitchen. Out of one of the windows, I see Logan standing quietly. He turns and nods silently, a small smile on his rough face. I smile back and I have to admit to myself that Logan, for all his faults, is wiser than he lets on.

*Thank you, tovarisch, I think. You give good advice.*

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