Title: Outside, Inside Looking
Author: Carla
Recipient: Faechick
Featured character: Colossus
Summary: Colossus cannot always speak.
E-mail: escritoireazul@gmail.com (formerly ofluvandblood@hotmail.com)
LJ name: Of Luv and Blood
Author's notes: This takes place during and after Ultimate X-Men #56 and #57. The conversation between Curt and Ali is taken directly from issue #56.
Rating: 16+
Warnings: Implied slash
Spoilers: Ultimate X-Men through #57


Sometimes, language fails him.

Piotr will search his mind for the correct word in English, but cannot translate the emotion, the passion behind his thoughts. He cannot even ask for help because when he tries to capture the essence of his ideas, his vocabulary fails him completely, Russian as well as English.

It is only in speech that he loses his words. When he is able to hear-and he can hear for quite a distance more when he becomes metal, as the sound reverberates within his transformed ear canal-he is able to understand.

Piotr can hear every word Ali and Kurt exchange.

"Have you ever wondered which team Pete plays on?" Ali's voice is always low in her throat. She tries to sound sexual, sensual, but too often reminds him of the rasp of an older smoker.

Kurt jumps to his defense and Piotr can't stop his smile; Kurt is sensitive to suspected slights and is quick to stand up for those he trusts. "No offense, fraulein, but I'm not sure where someone such as you gets off questioning Piotr's loyalties."

Ali's laugh is even rougher than her voice. "No, dummy, I'm talking about his ... preferences."

Piotr has enjoyed walking with Longshot. He's friendly and polite, talkative and interesting. It is a combination that intrigues Piotr, because he has met no other young man or woman who values the polite tropes of life along with intelligence and accomplishment. It is noticeable particularly at the mansion and for all the work he's done to learn the slang of American speech, he cannot believe some of the words the others use. Longshot is well-spoken and chooses each word with obvious care; he understands the importance of language.

Piotr thinks maybe Longshot's preferences should be questioned, too, and does not mind that the young man walks a step behind him, though the position would afford him a close-up rear view and ample opportunity to appreciate it without being seen by anyone else.

Now he wishes he had chosen to walk with the others, so their conversation would never have degraded to this point. Piotr does not want to hear Kurt's reaction; he has experienced his prejudice before.

"You mean...? Ecch, do not be absurd. Piotr is as normal you and I."

Even as Piotr tries to cover his reaction-and it is difficult for metal skin to shudder and moreso to hide it-he recognizes that Ali defends him, in her own brash way.

"'Normal?' Way to be judgmental, man. I wasn't saying it's bad, I'm just-"

It is time for Piotr to end the conversation and when he does not immediately see Angel, he calls out for him in order to distract Ali and Kurt.

At first, he believes some of Longshot's luck has rubbed off on him and Angel has just stepped away long enough to provide the perfect excuse to break into the conversation, but he quickly realizes the reality is not so pleasant, like many other aspects of his life.

When Nightcrawler transports them into the enemy's stronghold, Colossus realizes he is too heavy and Nightcrawler too weak just as his friends disappear in a burst of brimstone. In the moment before he begins to fight his way into the complex, he is glad that Nightcrawler does not know the truth of his preferences; if he did, Piotr might have to worry that he'd be left behind on purpose during battle.

Colossus, on the other hand, can forget that he has such problems and can focus on hit and destroy. The whole of his life narrows to the metallic gleam of machine movement through the enemy.

His rescue, so hard-won, is unnecessary. Dazzler and Nightcrawler have rescued both Angel and Longshot. He is needed only to pick up the pieces, figuratively, and literally to carry the bloody, wounded, earth-bound Angel.

Piotr does not have time to reflect on the overheard conversation until they have returned to Xavier's and received their punishment for sneaking out of the mansion, stealing the jet, and helping a murderer disappear. Longshot's pleasant words come back to haunt him.

Piotr retreats to his room and spends much of his time staring out the window at a sky that is too often metal-grey. There is less mourning-induced rain without Storm in residence, shedding real and metaphorical tears for Hank. Now, when the weather changes, there is no reason behind it. He cannot blame Storm for the color of the sky, now that she is gone, chasing Wolverine across the country.

Piotr wishes he could take her place.

~~*

Piotr has always been different.

Mutant. Freak.

Too often those words combine into an insult the humans sling because they are afraid, frightened by the changes in evolution and the power inherent in the mutations. Piotr knows he would be different even if he could not coat his body in organic metal and deflect the projectiles thrown at him.

If only it was as easy to ignore the figurative barbs of the words Kurt speaks without thought or knowledge of the truth. If Kurt knew, the implied rejection would become actual and would be much worse.

Piotr does not speak of many things in his life. He is be an X-Man, and Professor Xavier may already know all of his secrets. If his teammates, his peers, knew the truth about him-the truths, for his secrets are multitudinous-he fears they would turn him out. Turn away from him.

He was once a part of the Russian Mafiya machine and when his world presses too tight, he misses the secrecy and privacy it afforded him. No one in Russia would think to question his preferences; whether they suspected or not, speculation was frowned on and privacy rarely broken.

Here he cannot even mention his political beliefs, his history. When he does, when he speaks to Professor Xavier about the need for decisive action, he is forbidden to join the others on missions. Even in this sanctuary where he is surrounded by others who are supposed to be like him, he is still different and must curb his tongue. He knows the most important morality is to look after his own, but he is not always sure who he should protect from whom.

When he cracks his knuckles, the sound is loud in his otherwise silent room. It is a habit he picked up from too much time spent watching Wolverine. In a fit of humor, he once told Ali that he and she would scrape if they were ever together, because she has more metal in her skin then he does. It made her laugh and distracted her from her quest to kiss him.

Now Piotr touches cool metal fingers to smooth metal forehead and knows that he lied, because nothing is more tempting than metal hidden just beneath flesh, and if he had the opportunity, he would not scrape, but willingly melt into open arms and a broad chest.

Logan can pierce organic metal. Logan can make him bleed. Logan....

Even within his own mind, words fail him. Perhaps, after all, some of the problem is only in his mind. He is always reminded of being an unwelcome outsider; as a mutant, as a foreigner, as a ....

He writes to his sister in Russia and his pen caresses his mother tongue; he would never use English to speak with Illyana, but even his letters are vague. He pours over each mission and spends too long forgetting his carefully chosen words.

He is distracted sometimes, by Longshot's conversation-though it was all a lie, he tries not to remember-or the exquisite frailty of Jean-Paul, helpless in a hospital bed with only Piotr to protect him from another murder attempt by Sinister. In the end, his thoughts turn ever to his American family, the X-Men and their acceptance.

He knows how tenuous that acceptance would be if they knew the truth. If some of them knew the truth, Piotr corrects himself, because he is certain that Jean does know, Jean who first welcomed him into the X-Men and who brought him this tantalizing freedom, and seems to approve. At the very least, she will not reveal his secrets and is not above using his innermost dreams to bring him home.

She was the first stranger to know he was different and to still touch him. He can remember that hug, when she appeared in his life, a petite red-haired minx offering him tactile acceptance. He remembers how he clung to her, dwarfed her with his body; she became safety to him then, when she offered protection from the Sentinels. If he ever finds the words to express his thoughts, he believes he will go to Jean first.

Kurt, however, would be a different story. Kurt would shun him. In the aftermath of Logan's disappearance, Kurt is his closest friend. Kurt thinks they should try to attract more single women to the school and they should double-date.

Piotr does not have the words to explain, so he recedes into silence and metal-tinged thoughts.

Language fails him most when he tries to articulate how much he loves.