((Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Marvel Comics and whatnot. I don't own them, I can't keep them, so I'm just borrowing them for this exciting little romp. Enjoy your reading!))
Chapter 6: Monster in the Mirror
Logan merely looked up from his motorcycle magazine when Ororo came into the kitchen, while Hank McCoy smiled at her entrance.
"Good morning, Ororo," Hank greeted politely, sitting at the table with his oversized mug of coffee.
"Hi, Hank. Things going well today?"
"Splendidly. By the way, I made a pot of tea for you while I had the hot water. Double Bergamot Earl Grey--your favorite, I believe?"
"Why, thank you, Hank." Ororo went to fetch herself a cup.
"Since we're all making nice-nice with morning chatter..." Logan finally growled. "How's Elf doing this morning, 'Ro?"
"All right, it seems," she said, sitting down with a steaming cup of tea. "He's with Kitty. They're in the den studying German, and I tossed the others out."
Logan relinquished his pointed gaze. "Hn. Elf needs some time with that girl, without the others stickin' their noses in or makin' smartass comments."
Hank frowned. "You know Ray didn't really mean--"
"Whether he meant it or not, Elf didn't need to hear it," Logan growled. "And it's a good thing he didn't."
"That's true," the shaggy mutant admitted. "Mr Crisp is a bit sharp-tongued."
"A bit, Hank? Kid wouldn't know subtlety if it up an' bit him in the--"
"Did anyone see what happened in the den yesterday?" Ororo interrupted. "Kurt was rather upset that afternoon."
"I did--but I must admit I wasn't watching too closely," Hank replied. "Kurt and Kitty remained in the den long after everyone else had taken their leave. Until Mr Alvers called requesting to speak with Kitty, that is."
Ororo nodded sadly. "I suppose that was it."
"He's makin' up for it now," Logan observed, still paging through the magazine. "If they get some uninterrupted time in there today."
Ororo shook her head, looking down into her tea. "You do realize that Lance asked her out when he called yesterday. And she accepted."
Hank had the decency to look a bit concerned, but Logan merely cleared his throat, unruffled. "Just ground the girl. Nobody'll argue--'cept maybe her. You think anybody wants the Half-Pint traipsing around with Mudslide?"
"Indeed not," Hank concurred.
"I know. I don't either," Ororo confessed. "But that's so...intrusive. Kitty hasn't done anything to warrant a restriction, and I have to admit, Lance hasn't misbehaved in any of the public situations he and Kitty have been in. Shouldn't Kitty be the one to make these choices?"
"Sure she is," he replied. "She just needs some help to make the right ones. We ought to just set her and the Elf up for a date. Get her mind off the Rock-Tumbler."
"Don't be so impersonal, Logan--it's Kurt and Kitty we're talking about!" Ororo protested.
"I ain't. It's them two I'm worried about."
"Kurt is already quite attached to Miss Pryde," Hank reassured her. "He just needs to muster the courage to act upon his heart's urgings."
"Poetic, Hank. If ya ask me, Elf should just grab her hand an'--"
Ororo glared at him. "They're just kids, Logan."
"Ain't gonna be kids for long. They sprout up right under your nose." He looked up from his magazine again. "And you think bein' kids stops 'em from usin' their powers to wreak all kinds of havoc? The twerps in the Brotherhood don't have half a brain between 'em and every one of 'em is underage, but that doesn't stop 'em from tearing down a few buildings when they're pissed off."
"Indeed," Hank said with a frown. "If Kitty associates with those ruffians, she's liable to be in one of those buildings at some point."
"They do have greater responsibility because of their powers, but--"
"Don't preach to the converted, Storm." Logan closed his magazine. "We ain't exactly got the fate of the world in our hands, but there's one little Half-Pint whose fate I do want to help along."
"And poor young Mr Wagner has been pining after the girl for some months," Hank concurred. "I suppose by now he deserves a little assistance."
"Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?" Ororo asked, surprised. "Kurt doesn't--"
"He's worried most that Half-Pint thinks he's ugly," Logan informed them. "Back when she first got here, her little bout with the heebie-jeebies at the sight of him didn't help his confidence any. But that's all changed. She ain't shriekin' when he 'ports into the room or jumpin' away when he sits next to her--ain't scared of him at all now. He just needs to get over his own fears."
"That's a mouthful, coming from you, Logan." Ororo hid her smile behind her cup. "And I thought the kids swore you to secrecy about Kurt's little 'problem.'"
"Weren't no secret, 'Ro. Kurt's been knockin' himself out to impress the Half-Pint ever since she walked in the front door."
"You're right about that, my friend," Hank said. "I would sometimes see the two of them at school between classes. A humorous study in adolescent interaction, that was..."
"He tried so hard, especially at first," Ororo agreed sadly. "Even teleporting to the nose of the Blackbird--my heart almost stopped when I saw that! I couldn't believe how he hovered around her, even though she was afraid of him. He latched on to her like a starving child, and tried even harder any time she showed him any sort of affection."
"First pretty girl his age to get within his range," Logan explained, as if it were obvious. "You look like he does, you don't get to know any pretty girls."
"She's a little younger than him," Logan continued, ignoring her warning tone. "And it was his first try with a girl, so I think he overdid it in the flirting department. Kid had the drives on high there for a while, full throttle." He snorted in amusement. "Got a little out of control. He'd never tested those engines before."
Hank looked to be hiding a laugh, while Ororo glared at them both. "Men..."
"Ororo," Hank said, with a bit of a placating tone. "Logan does have a point. Kitty is young, and Kurt is inexperienced. They are both in need of a little...shepherding."
"If ya mean the Elf's got hormones he don't hardly know what to do with, then--"
Ororo quickly interrupted Logan's growl. "While I know that it's best that Kitty not see Lance, I don't think that Logan's method of 'shepherding' is the right one. The idea of actually 'setting them up'...I don't want to be so invasive."
Logan rolled his eyes. "Whatever you want, 'Ro. Way I figure, give 'em time and space and a little encouragement, and nature should take its course soon enough."
"And what if 'nature' wants to 'take its course' a little too far?" Ororo demanded.
"That's what adults live here for, ain't it?"
"Logan...we ought not to be sticking our noses into this. The Professor would disapprove."
"Maybe not," Logan aceded, pinning them with a stern, pointed gaze. "But you can't say he approves of her dating Alvers."
Hank and Ororo frowned into their cups, both silently agreeing. This was not likely to end well; any time the X-Men and Brotherhood crossed paths, mayhem was soon to follow.
And when that mayhem was trampling all over the heart of the sweetest, most vulnerable boy they knew, it was likely to be the most painful chaos they had ever seen.
Later that morning, after Kitty had "like, totally Germaned herself out," she'd excused herself to her room to "freshen up." Kurt, believing this to be a girl thing, had trotted off in search of other entertainment.
At a quarter to twelve, he was in the kitchen attempting to beg snacks off of Ororo, who was preparing everyone's lunch. She was shooing his furry hands away from the platters of sandwiches, while feeding him slices of lunch meat to placate him.
At a quarter to twelve, the doorbell rang.
"Guest for Kitty at the front door!" called out Scott's voice--with a distinct note of disapproval.
Rahne and Jubilee hustled into the kitchen, closing the door hurriedly behind them.
"Oh...my...God," Jubes breathed. "It's him!"
"Ororo! Avalanche's out there!" Rahne reported, wide-eyed.
Ororo barely had time to blink in surprise--Kurt was suddenly gone from her side in a puff of smoke.
Kurt reappeared in the front hall, holo-watch absent even though it was against the rules. Scott was heading upstairs, a rather disgusted look on his face.
Ten feet away, standing just inside the door, was Lance Alvers. He was dressed nicely for a change, with unripped jeans and a button-down shirt, and his hair actually seemed combed. "Well, hello Furrby," he greeted unpleasantly.
"What are you doing here?" Kurt demanded, feeling his hackles bristling again.
Lance grinned widely. "Picking up Kitty."
"Vas?" Kurt stood still in disbelief. "You...you're...?"
"I asked her out yesterday," Lance said with a shrug. "And she said yes. Got a problem with that?"
"As a matter of fact," Kurt retorted, "I do."
Lance sneered. "Go hock up a hairball, Sideshow Boy."
Whether it was some instinct or merely pure anger that made him bare his teeth in a snarl at the other boy, Kurt didn't know or care at this point. "Verzieh dich! You can just--!"
"Lance! You like, finally got here!"
Kitty's excited voice cut off Kurt's tirade like a switch had been thrown, and the bared fangs disappeared before she could see them. He turned, saw her eager, flushing face and the beautiful Christmas sweater she'd put on for...for this date...and felt a shudder of anger, pain, jealousy, longing...
He teleported away before he completely felt like crying.
Kitty blinked in surprise upon reaching the bottom of the stairs. "Like, what's up with Kurt?"
Lance shrugged. "Wasn't happy to see me, as usual."
Kitty smiled, shaking her head at him. "If you were nicer to him, maybe he wouldn't like, totally hate you so much."
Lance remembered the look of hurt and pure envy on the Creepy 'Crawler's face before he'd vanished. "I don't think so, Pretty-Kitty."
Scott, just around the corner at the top of the stairs, had seen and heard all, a stern, disfavoring look on his face. He watched Lance hold open the door for Kitty, and both of them headed outside.
Kitty, are you ignoring Kurt on purpose? Or are you really just that blind?
Kurt landed in his room, tail lashing like a whip. His soccer ball sat innocently in the middle of the floor--and he kicked it so hard it rebounded off the far wall.
"Scheisse" he spat, all but hissing in anger. "How can he just stroll up here and take her out like that? Like he hasn't been our worst enemy since he first showed up! Der Narr--der Schwachkopf!"
Reaching his bed, he smacked his pillow clean off of it just out of ire. Sitting heavily on his comforter, he stewed a moment before his eyes caught his reflection in the large mirror across the room.
Crouched on the bed, a frightening dark figure stared back, expression twisted with resentment and yellow eyes glowing in anger. Like some distorted gargoyle glaring out at him, his own image mocked him with its freakishly demonic face.
A cry of pure agony and rage erupted from him then; his hand swiped his nightstand for something--anything--and latched on to an object. He hurled it, hard, at the nightmarish image in the glass.
I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you--!
The object had already left his hand when he realized what he'd just thrown. His precious holo-watch slammed into the mirror with a thick plastic whack!
The mirror wasn't cracked--but Kurt couldn't care less about the mirror. He was already up and dashing across the room, already regretting his fit of temper. He scooped up the watch, cradling it gently. It didn't look broken. "Dummkopf!" he whispered irately at himself. "Kurt, you stupid..."
His hands shaking in worry, he pulled the watch over his wrist and turned it on. It fizzled just a bit, but his human visage hummed quickly into view, giving him blessed relief from the dark blue nightmare in the mirror.
Thank God...he hadn't broken the watch.
Seeing his "normal" face didn't help his mood that much, though. Kitty was still leaving with Lance, going off to...what were they doing? What did Lance plan to do with Kitty?
Worry flooded him--Kitty was going out, alone, with one of the Brotherhood. One of their worst enemies. God only knew what might happen! What if it was some kind of trap? Or worse, what if it wasn't, and Lance just wanted Kitty for his own nefarious purposes...?
Even as he tried not to focus on the images that thought conjured up for him, his mind offered him a seemingly simple solution. He leaped up as if stung on the tail, grabbing his coat and boots with a somewhat desperate look on his face. He vanished in a puff of smoke.
When Lance pulled out of the Institute's drive, Kitty in the passenger seat, they had no idea that a fuzzy blue Elf was along for the ride.
To be continued...
|"Bugger off," "Piss off," you get the idea...|
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