"Keety?" Piotr clanged over in his metal form. I looked up at his concerned face and forced a smile.

"Hey, metal man. I think you can power down now," I patted his arm and then focused my eyes on the sky. Piotr transformed and then wrapped an arm around my shoulder.

"Verr is your dragon friend?" he followed my gaze.

"I sent Lockheed back home to make sure everything's okay," I leaned against him with a sigh.

"It vas gut dat he came," Piotr planted a kiss against my cheek and squeezed me to him. For such a large guy that could become a practically indestructible giant, he was surprisingly sweet and gentle.

"I would have been fine," I rolled my eyes at him.

"Keety, vat happened?" he ignored my comment and continued to dote on me with little kisses and soft strokes.

"I was just caught off guard," I muttered.

We had gone off to fight against Magneto, something I had done a million times. He had plenty of new acolytes with powers I had never seen before, but that's not what had caused me to lose focus in the middle of battle. Magneto had apparently managed to recruit some of his old thugs. As I had been going hand to hand with a kid that couldn't have been more than eighteen and was able to throw some kind of flammable goo when I felt the earth quaking. I looked up to see Piotr stumbling to the ground and tried to follow the source of the quakes when there he was.

His eyes were thrown back in his head, his fists were balled up, and his uniform didn't look all that different. He had grown taller, some scruff made his face look older, but he still had shaggy long brown hair. I was almost hit by some flames that barely whizzed past as I stood watching him. I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Keety, watch out!" Piotr called and I noticed the kid with the flaming goo was still attacking. Suddenly in swooped my dear friend Lockheed, who scared off that kid I had been fighting and then came to perch on my shoulder. I scratched the little purple dragon's chin before turning back to make sure I had really seen who I thought. When I looked back, Piotr was getting up and moving towards the earthshaking mutant. Without thinking, I raced up and found myself standing between the two men, the little dragon still resting on my shoulder.

"Keety, move!" Piotr told me. I started to turn to assure him everything was fine, but then I saw the other mutant take off his helmet, letting it fall to the ground.

"Kitty?" he raked his gaze over me like he was trying to confirm that it was indeed the girl he had known so many years ago.

"Lance," I said calmly as Piotr came closer behind me, ready to attack. "This is Piotr, my boyfriend."

"Kitty?" Lance opened the door wearing street clothes and seemed slightly surprised to see me. "Twice in one day? What's up?"

"What are you doing with Magneto?" I asked as I pushed past him and into his place. "Again."

"I can't talk about that. Want a drink?" he sighed and closed the door.

"Water would be good," I nodded and followed him into the kitchen.

"So," Lance turned to face me. "How've you been?"

"You've always been terrible at small talk, and I'm not really in the mood. Why are you working for Magneto again?" I probed.

"You haven't changed," Lance shook his head with a slight grin. "You look great."

"Thanks. You seem well," I gestured around to his apartment.

"It's a step up for sure," he smiled and took a step towards me. His apartment was nice, but like any apartment, the kitchen wasn't all that big, so that one step meant we were only a couple feet apart at most.

"So you're not going to talk about Magento at all," I confirmed.

"No, but you knew that. Why are you really here, Kitty?" he took two more steps towards me and raised an eyebrow.

"Well, I…" Then before I could get another word out, he quickly stepped in to close the distance between us and crushed his mouth to mine.

I resisted at first, bringing my hands up to push against his chest and pulling my head back, but something within me didn't want to stop and I let it take over me. Suddenly my hands were wrapping themselves in his shirt and yanking him closer, and even when our bodies pressed fully against each other, I continued to pull. My mouth sought out his desperately and my eyes closed giving in to the sensations. He seemed a little startled at my enthusiasm, but he quickly brought his attention back to me as his arms wrapped themselves around me, crushing me to him.

I felt calm and restless all at the same time, releasing his shirt and moving my hands, one to his hair and the other to his waist. I tugged on the hem of his shirt until he pulled just slightly away from me, enough so that I could push the material over his arms and head. I had just barely tugged off the shirt when he clasped me roughly to him again, his mouth wandering all over my face, neck, and shoulders. His shirt fluttered from my hands to the floor as I wrapped my arms around his neck and let my fingers trail into his hair. I arched my back with a moan, pressing my body against him as my head flailed back from the sensations of his lips, tongue, and even slightly his teeth on the sensitive skin just below my left ear. He let out a soft chuckle that vibrated against my chest as his head lowered towards my collarbone and I let out a primal growl, a sound I had never imagined I could make before.

I tore myself away to rip my shirt over my head before reattaching to him, my fingers raking down his back as he lowered his head between my breasts. He teased me, grabbing the front closure of my bra between his teeth and a couple of fingers, quickly snapping it open and pushing the straps off my shoulders. I let the silky lace fall to the floor with our shirts before moving my attention to his chest. I ran my fingers along his pecks and abs, following them with my mouth. I could feel the deep intake of breath he took and the hair of his chest stand on end as I followed a trail of it down to his waist band. I started to lower myself to eye level with his belt, but he pulled me up by my arms and forced his mouth upon mine, his tongue not waiting to be granted access before sliding its way into my mouth. I focused on our tongues battling and wrestling, letting my hands float back up to his face, cradling his jaw and stroking the hair back from his eyes. His own hands thoroughly explored the curves of my exposed torso while his tongue darted around the warm cavern of my mouth.

Our breathing was becoming difficult and fast, but we didn't dare pull away until we had to gasp for air, our lungs on fire. Our bodies were sweaty and our chests pounded hard against each other as we gulped down air. My hands traced the faint wrinkles on his brow and followed the curve of his cheek down to his neck and then back up in the his hair. His own hands were tracing along my sides, smoothly gliding up from my hips to just underneath my breasts, one moving back to rest firmly on my spine and pressing me against him while the other slid up and then back down my arm, losing itself in the hair at the nape of my neck.

I squirmed forward, aching to reconnect our mouths, but he pulled ever so slightly out of reach with a sly smile. I pushed forward again, and with a deep throaty laugh, he bent his head and captured my lips. This time the kiss was gentle and painfully slow, and I almost pulled back in shock, but instead moved against him with need. Standing on tip-toe, I slowly rolled my hips against him, pressing my now hardened nipples into his chest. He groaned, using his large hands to pull me more firmly against him and I moved my mouth slowly down to his neck after pausing to nip at his chin. I let my arms fall to his waist, where I pulled away ever so slightly to reach his belt buckle. I yanked at the leather and metal as he planted kisses along my forehead, finally managing to get the buckle undone and shove it out of the way so I could work on undoing his pants. I could feel him twitch as I slowly unzipped his jeans, his hardness glad to be free from the tight material. Slipping my hands under the waist band, I pushed the denim off his slender ass, using a combination of hands and legs to pry his jeans down to the floor and around his ankles. I couldn't help but giggle as he stumbled around to kick off his shoes and jeans while still holding me to his chest.

"God, I've missed that laugh," he looked down on me with a gleam in his eye and suddenly a pang of guilt tugged at my heart. The lazy smile quickly fell from his face as I pulled myself away from him and grabbed at my shirt and bra lying on the cold, tile floor. "Kitty? Did I do something? I'm…"

"It's not you," I winced more at my lame response than his hands that were reaching for me or the pained expression on his face. "I just… I shouldn't… this isn't right."

"It feels more right to me than anything else has," he whispered after cupping his palm around my chin and forcing me to look up at him. In all the years I had known him, he had never been one for laying all the cards out on the table, especially when it came to his feelings. This revelation felt like a smack across the face that stunned me into silence. He closed the distance between us and pushed the hair out of my face, gently stroking my cheek. "You here… with me… us… this feels right."

"But…" I started. I couldn't seem to finish that sentence. There were so many reasons why I shouldn't be here, why I shouldn't be doing this, why I shouldn't step back into his arms like I was aching to do.

"The rest of the world can wait," he answered; brushing aside all of my thoughts as he used his thumb to gently wipe away a tear that had fallen to my cheek. "You're more important. You're more important to me than anything, even air."

With that, he lowered his head and began to devour my mouth. I wasn't sure if it was the sensations of his skin against mine, the loss of oxygen, or his words finally sinking in, but I felt dizzy in a fantastically thrilling way. I couldn't get enough of his lips, his arms, his hands, his eyes. I was drinking him in as fully as possible, feeling punch-drunk and heavenly. For years we had flirted and danced around each other, then for years we had tried to make it work, and then for even longer we had avoided each other and tried to be apart. It was funny how none of that seemed to matter as his lips brushed over mine so softly I wasn't sure our mouths had even touched before pulling away.

We stood there, him in boxers and socks and me in jeans and flip flops. His hair was mussed, and I was sure mine looked like a mess too. As I raked my gaze over him, his flushed face, his swollen lips, his glossy eyes, his pounding chest, his heaving bulge, I couldn't help but think I must have looked pretty similar.

"Tell me you want this," his voice wavered. I knew he wasn't demanding or pleading, but he was asking. He had always asked me what I wanted, trying to be considerate, even if he didn't always seem that way. He was no different now; afraid to keep going when I might not want to.

I wasn't sure what to say. I wanted him, but I wasn't sure I could tell him the same things he had told me. After our final break-up, the last and hardest one after so many, I had moved on. I had become numb and reckless at first, but soon Piotr broke through that. I had fallen hopelessly for the metal man, only for him to never return my advances. He had told me he cared, but I was too young and then tossed me aside for someone else. I had longed after him, even after we had thought him dead. I scattered his ashes and mourned him as I traveled the country promoting mutants and playing the super hero. After facing all that had happened and coming back to the X-men, we had discovered that he was alive, and while I might have rescued him from the lab where he was being held and researched on, he had rescued me from my miserable loneliness. After that, when I advanced, Piotr didn't try to stop me. We had become so inseparable and giddy I thought I had found love. And yet, facing Lance made me falter.

Now, I looked up in Lance's eyes which were hesitant and hopeful, but not at all expecting or pushy. He had broken my heart, more so than I realized until now. I had thought I was lost when I thought Piotr to be dead, but it was seeing Lance again that made me feel empty. Now I was in his arms, and the sensations I felt, both physical and not, made me feel more alive than I had felt in years. Was he more important to me than anything?

"Kitty?" he didn't move or ask for an answer, he just continued to hold me to him, looking at me with concern. I decided not to bother with thinking things through right now, at this second, all I wanted was to feel him, to be with him, to be loved by him. I shushed him with a light kiss before kicking off my flip-flops and dropping my shirt and bra to the floor.

"I love you," he murmured into my hair as we curled up naked together on his kitchen floor. "I've always loved you."

I should have been ecstatic. All of these years, isn't that what I had wanted? Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew no matter what I had been doing, who I was with, or what I told myself, I had just wanted him to tell me that he loved me. He had never said it. All of those years filled with kisses, fights, sly smiles, bitter words, and stolen moments and yet he had never before told me how he felt. I had heard other men say it, I had spent years trying to pry it out of Piotr who reluctantly caved before telling me he couldn't act on it, and I had even said the word myself. Instead of filling with an ecstasy similar to the one he had aroused in me earlier on this very floor, I was suddenly and inexplicably filled with rage. I rolled off his chest, quickly pushing myself to sit up and tower over him. He looked surprised, maybe even a little disappointed, but mostly just confused. He laid there with a hand behind his head and other still curled around me, his fingers absently stroking my skin. I shoved his hand back, pulling it from around me and tossing it at his chest.

"You broke my heart," I spat, blinking hard to keep the tears from escaping. He bolted upright, reaching his arms out for me, the lazy smile once again fell off his face. Before he could pull me to him and coo in my ear like I knew he would, I jumped up. I grabbed at my clothes, struggling to pull them on and put distance between us at the same time. "If you loved me, then why did you dump me? Why didn't you come after me? Why did you wait all of these years? Why did you never tell me before? Why now?"

"Kitty, I… I…" he got up, haphazardly throwing his own clothes on as he moved towards me. I shook my head furiously. I couldn't believe the nerve of him. Suddenly I found him disgusting. Was he too weak to do anything then or was he just using me now? It wouldn't be the first time a voice reminded me and I pushed aside the memory of when I had first met him quickly aside to focus on the present.

"I… I…," I mimicked cruelly. "You haven't changed at all."

"I wasn't good enough for you. I didn't know how to be. I thought I was doing the right thing," he ran a hand through his hair with a sigh.

"Oh and things are so different now," I grumbled.

"I'm not perfect, but I'm trying here. Isn't that all you ever wanted from me?" he threw up his hands, slumping back against a wall.

"What I wanted was for you to just be honest. To tell me how you felt! To not hide behind some stupid agenda that isn't even yours." I moved forward pointing a finger at him accusingly.

"What the hell do you think I'm doing? How many different ways do I have to tell you that I love you?" He pushed off the wall and moved towards me, emphasizing the last three words by taking my hand in his and squeezing.

"Oh and it only took you… how many years has it been now?" I pulled back my hand and rolled my eyes.

"I needed time. I had to figure out that I wasn't worthless, that I was enough. I had to get under control. Dammit, Kitty, I was a kid!" As he yelled, the ground shook ever so slightly underneath us.

"Looks like you've learned a lot of control there." I gestured to his balled up fists with a smirk.

"And you say I haven't changed. Picking a fight just after sex brings back old memories, doesn't it, Kitten?" I stumbled backwards at his words, feeling like I'd just been slapped. My mind rewound to the first and only other time that we had sex. It was right before we had broken up for the final time. He had been patient and comforting, careful to make sure I was okay and ready. After, we had been lying in his bed, much like we just had been on his kitchen floor minutes ago, and he had asked me to stay with him that night. That had led to a huge argument about the X-men, the Brotherhood, and ultimately our relationship. It had ended when I told him that I loved him, he hadn't been able to say it back, and I stomped out. It wasn't too unlike any of our fights, but he never came after me, never told me he loved me, and never tried to fix things.

"Don't you dare, Lance Alvers. Don't you turn this on me. I told you how I felt. I was always putting myself out there. I gave you everything I had!" Tears streamed down my face as I tried to shut the memory from my mind and focus on the argument at hand.

"Except a little patience, some time, understanding. You never understood how hard it was for me. You were a little princess with your parents and Xavier and the X-men. You never got that life wasn't as easy for me," he looked around at his place. I could see the pride in his eyes at what he had made for himself. It mattered so much to him to have these things, these possessions.

"You could have had the same things. You turned them down!" I spat thinking of the countless times Xavier had opened his doors to Lance and how many times I had begged him to stay.

"I was kicked out! First my parents, then Summers, and you…" he started.

"I fought for you!" I cut him off, jabbing a finger in his chest.

"And you lost!" he grabbed my wrist, pulling my hand from his chest.

"And maybe if you had fought for us, too, we would have won," I yanked my hand from his grip and turned to walk away.

"Kitty…" his voice suddenly changed. It was always like this. We screamed at each other until I would be fed up enough to leave and then he would plead, coming after me to try to make up. He put a hand on my shoulder, just like I knew he would, and turned me towards him.

"No. Nothing's changed," I knocked his hand aside. I hated this pattern we were stuck in. Who knew that after so many years we still would land back here.

"Yes they have. I'm here. I'm fighting. I will fight for you until I have nothing left," he took my hands in his, brought them to his chest, and bore into my eyes with the most determined look I had ever seen on him.

"And you'll lose. Just like I did," I shook my head, but as much as I thought about pulling away I stood still, letting him hold onto me.

"What are you saying?" his voice dropped. He wasn't angry anymore, he was scared.

"I'm saying I lost a long time ago. I have nothing left. I'm just an empty shell. I can't do this anymore," I sniffled, letting my head fall forward and staring at the ground.

"So that's it. All these years. Everything that's happened. Everything that could be. Over," he released his grip on my hands and they fell back to my side limply.

"It's been over for a long time," I looked up and saw his brow furrowed and his eyes were glassy, but no tears were falling down his cheeks like there were on my face.

"So this… today… it was?" he seemed more saddened and confused trying to work out what had happened. Maybe like me, he couldn't believe it had.

"Like a trip back in time. Like reliving an old memory. It just reminded me of all the reasons why I shouldn't be here. Why this doesn't work," I offered as I reached out a hand to brush the hair out of his eyes.

"No more trying. Just done… like that," he snapped his fingers and closed his eyes tight. When he opened them a few tears fell out and I wondered for a second why I didn't just fall back into his arms.

"Do you really want to keep dragging this out? Has it not gone on long enough for you?" I whispered taking a step forward so that our bodies were almost touching.

"Tell me you want this," he repeated himself from earlier. Just like then it wasn't pleading or demanding, but simply asking. The first time had been about us being together, but now it was about us being apart. I had thought he was being considerate, but now I wondered if he just didn't have the guts to go after what he wanted. Wondering if he always asked what I wanted because he didn't have the strength to make his own choices. I brushed a kiss against his lips, pulling back before he could respond.

"Goodbye, Lance," I stated clearly and calmly before turning and walking away. I didn't look back as I left, not bothering to open any doors, but simply phasing my way out. I felt numb, like there was no life to be lived without him, and yet, I felt strong. He had never been capable of acting, of going after what he wanted without someone else telling him what to do or how to do it. It was like the man I had been so desperately in love with was an illusion, a puppet, a little boy.

On the walk home, I considered whether or not I should tell Piotr about what had happened. I knew if I told him he would want to go and crush Lance, but if I didn't say anything there would be a secret between us that would grow and fester. As I reached the gates to the Institute, I finally decided that I would tell him what he needed to know. I had said goodbye to my first love, and was finally ready to move on.