by Te
May 26, 2003

Disclaimers: Not mine.

Spoilers: Vague ones for X2.

Summary: It is already on his skin.

Ratings Note: PG-13

Author's Note: The Spike put this in my head first. Cassandra
helped it along. Bas encouraged. Jenn audienced. It takes a
village, yo.

Feedback: Yes, please.


Kurt has sin all over his body.

When he was young -- younger -- it was something
between a lark and a game. How much pain could he
take? How many sins could be his in symbol, if not in

As he grew older, this changed. No amount of denial
(of the self, of the spirit, oh God) could keep him from
the knowledge that some sins had been left off.
*Important* sins. Large, mortal ones.

His skin had been hungry for them, and it had made
him restless, and more aggressive than was his wont.
Luckily, luckily, when you lived among circus people,
you lived in a world where the strange rapidly became
familiar. No one noticed his anger, or his restless need
for something he couldn't quite put words to (not
without hurt), and that was that.

And if the reason why they didn't notice perhaps had
more to do with the way they (all of them) saw him
than with anything else...

Well. The results were the same.

After a while, though, it had become plain. His face, his
back, his legs -- even a part of his tail -- was carved and
marked with the language of God, and of His children's
flaws. But there was still his belly.


And the sins that were missing, ah, yes, surely it made
perfect sense that they would be his own. Gluttony for
food and sensation, the wrath he did his best to deny,
ignore, press *down* (and perhaps this was why they c
aught you, why they could use you, ja?), and.

Lust. He can think the word, though it was difficult then.
He lived with circus folk, but his eyes were still golden,
his skin still so dark they needed the brightest spots to
show him with.

His tail still *there*.

Lust... lust was the easiest and the hardest of them all.
Easy to admit to, to understand -- was he not a man?
Healthy and young? Hard, because to admit to it, to
understand the depths of it, was to also understand
how very likely it was to remain unfulfilled. His skin
had not been satisfied with the mark of it.

Not for long.

But he was not a monster. Not then, and not now.
Surrounded by wealth and comfort and the staid reality,
it must be reality, of day to day life in America. Out of
his lovely, crumbling church and into a mansion. Of all

But it is not the trappings of the material that holds his
attention. Or not directly. His bed is soft and warm, but
his bed is empty.

There are people here -- such people! Such power! -- who
look at him and *look* at him, curious, yes, always, but...

They are as curious about his life, about the circus and
Germany and the church as they are about his skin, his
claws, his tail.

His tail makes the youngest of them laugh, and sometimes,
sometimes, he looks at them and sees something like

And he is not naive, he knows that the same hungers, the
same *sins* lurk in their hearts as do in his own. He may
be... inexperienced, but none of it is beyond the realm of
his comprehension. There had always been women who
came around to the trailers at night, who leaned against
the soft cushion of the tents and beckoned with pale and
clever-looking fingers. (Show me, demon, is it the same
as other men?)

And he *could* have had them, had them all if he wished.
His body functions, and he knows from the communal
showers that it is not so different from those of other
men. And there were nights when he wished (oh how, so
much) he *had*. That he had the memories of soft,
welcoming skin if not the fact of it.

But though he had never counted pride as one of his
signature flaws, he had always had enough. Enough to
turn them away with a smile, or a kiss on the hand.
Enough to leave them wondering, for he would not let
them see him want, see him *need*, when all they had
to show *him* was curiosity, and dreams of perversion.

He is a man.

But here... it is different here, because there is so much
*possibility*. Most of the students are very young, but
not all of them. And not all of the people who look at
him and see a man, a person (someone who wants so
so) are children. There is Ororo, whose name comes
so haltingly to his tongue. She touches him often --
casual brushes of her hand on him, and she almost
always touches skin.

His cheek, his hand, the point of his tail.

She comes to his room and demands he talk of his faith,
and she is so angry, with so much pain. He wants to hold
her in his arms and promise things he knows will
probably not be true, not in this world or life.

He wants to cup her hand with his own, and *press*.
"Here," he would say, "is my pride."

"Here is the anger I see in you," and he would push her
fingers until they traced the pattern of it. "Understand
this," he would say, and wish she could have all of it.

That she would want.

There is Scott, who almost never touches, but seems as
hungry as anyone else. More sin there, perhaps, but he
was very young when he first began to tease the truths
he could use from the Book, and do his best to put aside
those he could not. It is not so strange.

Scott is grieving, and when Kurt looks at his face, so
expressive even with eyes covered, he thinks it is perhaps
wrong that he knows this man better than he knew his
love. Everything about the man is an invitation to hear of
Jean, to know her, and of course to love.

He thinks she must have been very great.

Coiled around his arm is despair, perhaps the very greatest
of human sins. That which, in the end, causes even great
men to turn from God and deny His power. If he clasped
arms with Scott, would he feel it?

Would he understand why we were always to remember
these sins, so as not to live them and turn our faces from

He thinks, maybe, this could be something he could do. For
Scott -- for both of them -- but for Scott, especially.

And there is Bobby...

He has to sigh, uncurl his tail from around his thigh and
let it wave and move and seem to almost taste the air, like
a snake. In truth, he knows he's doing all the moving, but
when he's restless, when he's trying to think or not to

He watches the shadows shift and move and shift. The
window seat is just large enough to hold him in a crouch,
and he knows no one will bother him, this far away from
the games room, the TV room, the *other* TV room...

And thinking about the wealth around him is enough to
make him smile, but what really amuses...

There was a time, not so long ago, when he wouldn't
have been able to imagine doing anything but living in
the thick of all the humanity that would have him. There
had been so few...

But now, there are many. Adults, children, and none of
them expect him to perform for his supper, and the
only tricks he does are in the large and somewhat
terrifying training area. "Danger" room, ja, and the way
most of them use it makes the name perfectly sensible.
He does not think...

He cannot quite see himself in the black uniform, though
Bobby teases that they could make one with a hole for
his tail. It isn't that he doesn't think he could be of use
to them, or even that he can't see the rightness of their
cause. They are an army devoted to peace, an oxymoron
that even the United Nations couldn't quite make work.

But then, the U.N. doesn't have Charles Xavier.

They do not put pressure on him, not even the slightest.
He thinks maybe someone -- Ororo? -- had told them all
how deep his faith ran. Perhaps even exaggerated some?
He is not a saint, but Logan sometimes looks at him as
though he expects Kurt to attempt to proselytize, suspicious
and unwelcome.

He has been told that this is the way Logan looks all the
time, and it is not just him, but still, it is daunting.

It had never occurred to him that people could find religion
so *strange*, and yet, he thinks that it makes him more
alien than anything his body could do. When he mentions
it to Ororo, *she* seems surprised.

As if there had never been a doubt in her mind that it
could be this way, and why was he so surprised? Sometimes,
he is sadder here than he ever was in Germany. He thinks
that it has more to do with all the possibilities than
anything else. If there was beauty, and comfort, and food
to eat, and people could still not find what they needed to
make them happy...

And ah, he has to ask himself, then what are you doing
here, if you are so enlightened?

Because, he *could* be down there. He could be playing
a game or telling a story, or touching someone, anyone,
even Bobby with his too-young face and too-old eyes.

He is... very pretty. A perfect sculpture of American boy,
and Kurt doesn't think he will be with Rogue for much
longer. There is something there he has no experience
of, and yet can understand. Jean wasn't the only loss at
the dam, and Bobby seems to cling to Rogue for more
than just her beauty, and his affection.

He has come to understand that this Johnny, this Pyro,
was a good friend.

Loneliness is not a sin, save when paired with despair,
but he thinks he could carve a glyph for it onto his flesh,
if only to have something more to show to the boy than
just... what?

Bobby touches, and talks to him, and stares at Kurt's
skin like it's something wonderful.

"I never saw anything that blue," he says, and then
drags him out into the night to compare him against the

"God, I can barely even *see* you," he says, and laughs
when Kurt makes his eyes flare.

He enjoys making Bobby laugh. It's natural on him, the
way it isn't, quite, for Scott or even Ororo. He has a
face made for humor, and sometimes Kurt thinks that if
he has any place here, it's for this.

Make them laugh, forget their troubles. (touch) He
jumps down from the window and prowls silently through
the halls, past the bedrooms which are still empty, and
waiting for students.

Bearing false witness coils around his ankle. He
remembers being pleased with the design, with the hint
of the snake in it. On his ankle, and often hidden,
because it's another sin he never saw much of in himself.
He is not one of these golden and beautiful mutants,
who wear nothing of their power on their skin. Lies have
never been available to him, not truly, and he'd always
seen it as more of a reminder than anything else.

A little of what he could never have, meant more for
whoever could see it than for himself.

And yet, he knows there is a lie here, that he has made
himself alone less out of any great need to think than
because he was afraid of all the choices open to him.
That he walks to join the others (Bobby) less because
he wants company, or thinks the boy might need it,
than because...

Well, he *does* want company. Wants more of this
thing the others give themselves so casually. Home,


He finds Bobby in the kitchen, staring at a bowl of ice
cream that, on second glance, appears to be a solid
brick. Bobby doesn't look at him as he comes closer,
but chips at it a bit. Closer, and Kurt can feel the cold
radiating off the boy, and shivers. "Bobby?"

He jerks a little. "Yeah. Um. I'm maybe not the best
company right now."

It would be easy to nod, walk away. Perhaps return
to his window. Instead, he takes the bowl away and
sits next to Bobby. Holds the bowl between his hands.
"We could put it in the microwave?"

Bobby taps the spoon on the table. "Broken. Science
experiment gone wrong. Well, that was how Jubes
explained it."

Kurt nods, and considers blowing on the ice cream. He
thinks the bowl will leach him empty of heat before he
could begin to melt it. "Then perhaps something else?"
He pulls a chocolate bar from his jacket pocket. Pushes
it over.

Bobby stares at it for a moment, then blinks. Smiles.
Breaks off a piece and pushes it back to Kurt. "You
always carry candy in your pockets?" Muffled around a
mouthful of chocolate.

"When you work in a place where there are many,
many children..." He shrugs.

Bobby nods, sucks melted chocolate off his fingers, one
by one, and Kurt wonders what it would be like to have
five. He has never had trouble with his own, but still,
some things must be easier.

And he realizes he's staring when Bobby stares back.
Kurt looks down. "You know... you have been very
good to me. Very kind."

Hand on his shoulder, and Kurt looks up again to find
Bobby smiling at him. There is a bit of chocolate on
his chin. "We're friends, right?"

Kurt nods. "Ja, friends. Friends who talk with each
other? You can... I do not know what's bothering you,
Bobby, but you can talk to me. If you want."

Bobby squeezes his shoulder, but he's frowning now,
and not quite looking at Kurt. "I just... it's a war, right?"

"War is a terrible thing..."

Bobby waves his other hand, dismissing it. "No, I
mean... right now. Maybe it's not so big, so... *epic*,
but... we've had to fight. And people..." Another,
deeper frown. "People aren't always going to be
around. The way... the way they are now."


"You know, I see you, the way you look at everyone.
The way it's like... you're always so *shocked* that people
want to know you. Touch you."

Kurt tries a shrug, light enough not to dislodge Bobby's
hand. Gestures at himself with his tail.

And Bobby still isn't looking at him, not entirely. "And I
think that maybe you've been fighting this war all along,
like while I was here reading frigging English *lit*,
you've been... out there. Alone."

Bobby turns, just enough that Kurt is hit with the full force
of his gaze. Empty and dark and so very *sad*. And that's
not... "Bobby, I had many friends in the circus..." (is it like
show me but you're so) He can't finish.

"I think you spent all that time alone, and now that you're
here..." Still another frown, frustrated and small despite
the depth of feeling in his eyes. "It's just that my room is
empty now, and quiet, and it never gets too hot anymore,
and I don't. I don't think any of us has *time* to be

And Kurt can't think of anything to say. Reaches out with
his tail instead, up over the hand on his shoulder, down
along the length of Bobby's arm. *That* gets a smile,
but it's... different. Not quite happy.

"Do you know what I mean?"

And he wants to say something about how he'd never
looked at it as a war, that he thinks it might be dangerous
to do so, but more than that he just wants... a touch. A
taste of everything in Bobby. Lies on his ankle and lust
on his belly and all that anger. So much anger.

He leans in close, and Bobby is already moving, pushing
the ice cream out of the way and sliding his hand up over
Kurt's neck and into his hair, making it messier, making
him shiver at the feel of that cool, smooth palm on his

Bobby tastes like chocolate and something familiar and
faintly bitter that Kurt doesn't have a name for just yet.

He has kissed before, but this... soft mouth and wide blue
eyes and he has to close his own, because he hadn't
wanted. Hadn't expected... tongue in his mouth and he
hears a crash and Bobby jumps back and away and Kurt
has to blink, feeling stupid and just a little drunk.

"The ice cream..."

"What...?" And Bobby jerks his chin and Kurt sees that
he has somehow managed to knock the bowl off the table.
Glass all over the floor, but the ice cream itself remains
solid. "Oh, I..." He feels his cheek heat, and wants Bobby
to be able to see the blush, but is mostly glad that he
can't. "I will... get the broom."

But when he starts to move, Bobby just clutches him a
little harder. "You don't... I mean, I think Artie is the only
one still awake."

There's something in his chest, wide and hot and a little
painful. Hard to breathe around. He opens his mouth to
say something, but he has no idea what. And Bobby
kisses him again, wet and serious.

He's cool, but not cold, and Kurt thinks maybe if he just
kept stroking his head like that, kept tugging at his hair...
"We don't have to be alone," Bobby says, lashes brushing
against Kurt's cheek.

And he feels... so young. Every scrambled emotion, and
so much want. So many years.... "I. All right."

There is, he thinks, some kind of virtue in this. A denial
of the loneliness on his skin and an acceptance of
everything else. He is covered in sin, but this... surely, this
is not so wrong?

Hand on his chest, firm and sure. Kurt puts his own hand
over Bobby's, and pushes until it's over his heart.

He doesn't ask if Bobby understands.

It's in his eyes.