|Takes One to Know One
Author: Foxieglove PM
The Brotherhood accepts a long overdue invitation to join the X-men. For all of them, it means changes. For Todd, it means the biggest change of all.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Friendship - Toad/Todd T. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 46,820 - Reviews: 185 - Favs: 142 - Follows: 137 - Updated: 05-26-12 - Published: 06-17-09 - id: 5144056
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Sorry for the delay - I had some health problems and had to leave the internet for a while. Please enjoy! I'll make every attempt to upload the next one sooner, but I can make no promises. In the meantime, you all have been patient and wonderful and I thank you deeply for the reviews and kind words!
The garage light flickered annoyingly overhead as Todd knelt to examine the Corvette's hubcap. Logan had shown him the bent rim, likely from striking a curb. It was an easy fix luckily - all he had to do was take it off the tire and then weld the dent out.
He was on his own for the next hour - Logan having to leave suddenly to pick up Ororo. She'd apparently hit a pothole and by the time she came out with all the groceries, the tire had completely deflated.
"Tire's shot. She says there's a hole the size of a quarter in the side of it," Logan had said, gathering his jacket and van keys. "So I'm gonna switch vans with her so she can get the groceries home, then change the tire. You got enough to do?"
"Yeah, I'm good," Todd replied. "I'll do what I can and just because I like you, I won't even set the place on fire."
"More like because you value your life," Logan snorted. "There's soda in the fridge. There's beer too, but you're both having soda."
"Right," Freddy gulped.
"See? Another fine example of us valuin' our lives, yo."
With a smirk and a shake of his head, Logan climbed into the van and drove off. Freddy had stayed with Todd until he noticed it was past noon. "Hey, there's a movie that Lance and I wanted to watch on TV in about ten minutes - you want to join us? You should probably stop for lunch anyway."
"Eh, I'm good. I'll join you later though."
With a shrug, Fred had headed back for the main building, leaving Todd alone.
He whistled to himself as he inspected the tires, trying to break the sudden silence.
"Damn, yo daddy's been rough on you, hasn't he?" Todd smirked, starting to unscrew the lug nuts. He knew who this car belonged to. Given how detail-oriented Summers was, it was surprising that anything at all had happened to the Corvette. Likely, it had been taken out for a joyride.
A shadow fell over him as he spun the tire iron.
"Hey, back already - err . . ." The person looking down at him was not Logan. "H-Hey. Summers. How's it hangin'?"
Todd gave a small terrified yelp as the tire iron was yanked out of his grip. He immediately shrunk down and covered his head, until he heard the clatter of it being harmlessly thrown aside.
"I knew you were up to no good, Tolensky! I'd like to say I'm surprised to see you here taking the hubcaps off people's cars, but given that you've been sneaking around since you got here, I'm not!"
"Whaaat! I wasn't stealing your hubcaps! Get a grip - where would I take them? To the junkyard?"
Todd again yelped as Scott pulled him up by the collar of his shirt and gave him a shake.
"Don't play coy - you were going to take them and sell them to a pawn shop or something."
"Uh, hate to burst your bubble, but they aren't worth that much. And notice I was removing the bent one, Summers? I'm tryin' to fix it," Todd protested, squirming to get away.
"Sure, I believe you. Why don't we just have a little chat with the Professor." Scott began to drag him along.
Anger burned in Todd's face. Sure, he'd done a lot of lying and stealing, but was it so impossible for people to just believe him? Well, at least when he was actually telling the truth. He groaned to himself, wishing he hadn't gotten caught so many times.
"You're wasting your time, yo. All that's probably gonna happen is Professor Xavier will give you some long-ass lecture about how you should listen to people and not judge them. But whatever, it ain't my time anybody's wastin'. Just yours."
Todd spoke offhandedly, acting like he wasn't affected at all. But internally he was burning with embarrassment. People were staring as Scott marched him inside and up the stairs, keeping a hold of his wrist as though Todd were a naughty child.
"Keep on talking Tolensky. You want to think you're going to fool a telepath, go for it."
Ugh. It was useless to try and reason with him. Utterly useless. Todd knew he had no reason to lower his face or defensively hunch his shoulders, but he did anyway out of habit.
"So, got any idea who's takin' your baby out for night rides, or were you just careless cutting a left corner?" Todd asked, glaring at the floor as he walked.
"What are you talking about?" Summers demanded, though he didn't stop.
"Your Corvette, duh. The hubcap was bent. I told you. Either you were sloppy, or somebody's been snitching your keys and having fun while you're sleepin'."
"Well, I'll make sure mention that to the Professor. Anything else you want to admit?" They passed the Rec Room and Todd tried to put as much of Scott between himself and the open door as he could manage. He didn't know if Wanda was in there, but according to Murphy's Law, she probably would be.
"No," he said miserably, looking over his shoulder. Maybe nobody had seen him? Oh God, this was so humiliating.
A puff of blue smoke appeared in front of them and Todd sucked in his breath as Kurt stood up from his crouch. "Scott, do you know if the laundry's been -" He trailed off and looked at Todd, frowning. "What's going on?"
"Just a little matter that I'm sure Professor Xavier can handle."
Smug bastard. Todd didn't have to look up to see the self-satisfied smirk on Scott's face. For some reason, Kurt seeing him being dragged around like this was ten times more embarrassing than if they had run into Wanda. He wanted to punch Scott in the face and though Todd's hand made a fist, he kept it at his side.
"I happened to go down to the garage this morning, and who do you think I should finally find?" Scott began. Kurt just looked at him, then flicked his golden eyes back to Todd.
"Okay, so you found Todd. In the garage. Where he's been since yesterday, helping Logan with repairs," Kurt answered calmly. Seeing Scott deflate like a punctured beach ball cheered Todd up considerably. "And then what happened?"
"Oh, it was the sweetest thing," Todd lied, hit with sudden evil inspiration, "Scotty came down the garage and proposed! We're gonna get married, dawg!" He twisted his wrist free in order to clasp Scott's fingers, holding both their hands up and leaning into him.
Scott could not let go of him fast enough.
"What? I - I - no, that's not what -!" he sputtered and Todd cackled, hopping out of reach.
He landed beside Kurt who was making a serious effort not to laugh. "Scott, I never knew. Congratulations to you both."
"I - that's not - he was stealing my hubcaps!" Scott burst out. His reddened face nearly matched his shades.
"And that," Todd said, dramatically cheesy, "Was when he stole my heart!" He clapped a hand over his chest to add to the effect, and Kurt simply lost it. His laughter was infectious enough to set Todd off, making the boy forget his earlier parade of humiliation.
Scott stood there, gawking at them with an expression that really didn't help them stop laughing anytime soon.
"Since when are you two friends?" he asked, frowning.
"Ahaha, God, my face hurts so bad," Todd half-whimpered, massaging his cheeks as he tried to get control over his giggling.
"I, uh, couldn't really tell you, Scott," Kurt managed, leaning against the wall. He propped himself back up unsteadily. "Probably about two days now. Positive he wasn't just fixing your car?"
"Nah, I admit it, dawg," Todd drawled, before Scott could answer. "I was gonna steal his completely worthless dented hubcap. I wanted to make a funny hat, then maybe play some Frisbee out in the yard with the guys, y'know?"
"Okay, fine, I get it," Scott muttered, pushing up his sunglasses. "I guess you weren't stealing them after all."
"I accept your apology."
"Interesting," Scott iced, "Because I wasn't apologizing. You've done your share of stealing and lying, Tolensky, so you're just gonna have to accept that people are going to think of you as a thief and a liar from now on. Until you prove yourself to be otherwise."
The smile slipped from Todd's face. "So that's how it's gonna be, huh?" he asked, voice equally cold.
"Scott," Kurt protested. "That's not fair. He was fixing your car - something he didn't have to do - and you accused him of stealing."
"Logan never told me that the car needed fixing!" Scott snapped. "And if that wasn't suspect enough, Tolensky just admitted that someone's been taking it out for joyrides! If not him, then probably someone else he knows. Alvers, maybe?" he asked Todd, who was already riled up. The only thing that prevented him from slinging both fists and slime all over Summers' face was Kurt's cautionary hand on his shoulder.
"Yo, you know what - that's bullshit and I'll tell you why! 'Cause unlike you, Lance doesn't have to drive around in a pussy little red sports car to feel good about himself! Maybe the Jeep ain't as fancy as your car, but you know what? Lance paid for it himself, fixed it up himself, and he even maintains it himself. Therefore, it will likely continue to run long after your stupid fucking Corvette chokes and dies, or gets totaled in an accident caused by you tryin' to prove that your dick isn't as tiny as everybody thinks it is!"
Scott turned white with fury and for a terrifying moment, Todd thought he was about to be blasted across the room or at the very least punched in the mouth. He still held his ground, pale but defiant.
"Big words from somebody who hasn't made it to a single drill yet. What's wrong, Toad? Everybody already knows you're a terrible fighter and you scream like a girl when threatened. Not like you have any reputation to save."
"Scott!" snapped Kurt, affronted for his sake, but Todd clenched his fists, hissing a sharp intake of air. Anger made his words reckless.
"You son of a bitch. Not only will I be there tomorrow, I'll fucking wipe the floor with your face afterwards."
"Oh, so you'll change the Brotherhood's losing score all by yourself?" Scott mocked. "I'd love to see that, Tolensky. In fact, tomorrow I'll be making you the leader of your team. I'd advise you to warn the others of this so they aren't too surprised when they epically lose tomorrow."
Todd saw red and he spun on his heel, quickly walking away. He wasn't going to hit Scott. No, he would save it, because nothing would give Scott more satisfaction than to see Todd punished by whatever adult happened to walk in on the fight. That was always the way it worked; the instant you fought back against the bullies, was the same instant that the teachers showed up to hand you the detention slip.
"Yeah whatever, take your advice and shove it, Milhouse," he snarled over his shoulder. "See you tomorrow."
Todd was so angry he didn't even know where he was going. Just away from Scott - that's all he cared about. And not to the garage because there was a good chance that he was going to kick the crap out of that stupid car and probably break every window for good measure. And then Logan would kick his ass or at least never trust him to be around the garage again. Todd liked Logan's company and he liked the garage because it was a haven of sorts. Scott's anguish over his car wouldn't be worth losing that.
Thinking about it however - oh, that brought plenty enough satisfaction. Such that as he was envisioning driving Scott's bespectacled head through the windshield, rather than his own powerful kick, he barely heard Kurt calling his name. The elf caught up to him and stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
"Todd, are you okay?"
"Not really, no," he surprised himself by admitting, looking darkly over his shoulder.
"I'm sorry about him. He's being more of an ass than usual. What are you going to do?"
"Do? I wasn't bluffing back there, dawg. When I get there tomorrow, I will kick his ass up and down the freaking walls like a goddamned racquetball," Todd swore. He was angry enough that it was the true account of how events would unfold - at least in his imagination.
"Wow, you're more pissed at him than you ever were at me," Kurt said, hoping to get Todd to smile or at least calm down a little.
It worked, sort of. Todd felt some of his anger leave him. "Eh. You were at least never a smug bastard. Even when you won, you didn't really lord it over me. Sometimes you even stopped to make sure I was okay. But if Scott wins tomorrow, he'll never stop crowing about it. And I will be forced to bash in his fat head with a rock."
"So will the rest of us. Not all of us are out to get you guys, but Scott apparently feels threatened."
"Threatened! By what? We're here on your charity, we can't go home. We never really had a home to begin with - even before it got overrun by bills and foreclosure threats 'cause that bimbo Mystique kept leaving us dry! Sorry, no offense . . ." Todd remembered too late that Mystique was Kurt's mother.
Kurt's expression was unreadable, but he shrugged. "None taken. I don't care anymore."
There was pain there. Todd paused but didn't press the issue, instead trying to push through the moment. "Anyway, it was barely a home and we can't even have that anymore. We're here and we're still kinda reeling from it, Pietro and Wanda especially. Magneto is their father and he just . . . poof, he's gone. The rest of us are used to that sorta crap, but not them."
Todd was again silent for a moment. His anger at Wanda had left a while ago, though there was still the cringing embarrassment anytime he thought about her too much. "And Scott's all asserting himself over us - hardcore, yo. He's tryin' to break us into this place and this routine, meanwhile we're already broken! We might not act like anything's wrong, but trust me - you just look at Lance's face when he thinks nobody's looking and you can see lines in it. He's eighteen and he's had to take care of us for so long - suddenly losing that responsibility is a relief, but it's kinda painful too, you know?
"It's like he gets no acknowledgment that he's been holding all of our heads above the water this whole time - instead, he gets to watch Scott strutting around the mansion and passing judgments on him and on us like we had this coming 'cause we're such horrible people for not being able to make it on the 'bad guy' payroll. And Lance can't say anything about it because he's not in charge of us anymore! Summers is, and he's not giving us any time to adjust to the changes or the new people or anything. He's just pummeling us over and over with his 'I'm a great person and you aren't, so I'm gonna teach you about morality' crap! And the fact that the adults aren't even sayin' anything 'bout all this makes me wonder if they even notice!"
Kurt felt a pain in his chest at those words and reached out to put a hand on Todd's shoulders. "They do notice. Ororo's tried to speak with Scott. I've seen it. So has Jean, and so have I. And trust me, I'll be speaking to Scott again before tomorrow."
"Hell with speaking to him, dawg. Can't you just . . . ah, I dunno. Put him a crate and ship it off to Tokyo or something?"
"Tempting," Kurt grinned, "but I'm afraid not. Just try to remember that Scott doesn't speak for all of us. I'm glad you're here, and I know Kitty is thrilled about Lance and Wanda. She's even made friends with Fred. He's teaching her how to cook."
"Thank the powers that be," Todd dead-panned, though he smiled a little at the thought. "He out of his mind yet?"
"Close. He's at least taught her the difference between baking soda and baking powder. So what are you going to do?"
"About what? Bein' the leader of the pack tomorrow? No freaking clue, dawg. It was hard enough to just make up with Pietro and Fred after I ran off to join a herd of frogs," Todd snorted. "Lance and Fred might be amused, but Pietro's gonna throw a shit fit."
"I thought Lance was the leader, not Pietro."
"Lance is the unofficial leader. He lets Pietro take charge of the drills because Pietro needs something to do with himself lately. I think Magneto's dick move of ditching him and Wanda here renewed some - eh, what we call 'inadequacy issues.' He was always a perfectionist and he needs a function that lets him be one. As much as we want to knock him silly sometimes, ya gotta feel for the guy. I mean, sure, my Pop was an alcoholic jackass, but at least he didn't jerk me around emotionally."
Kurt regarded him quietly for a moment. The Brotherhood did function as a team, despite whatever Scott claimed. He rather doubted Scott would step down as a leader if someone else needed to feel in charge for a while. There was a lot that the Brotherhood boys could teach the Xmen, it seemed.
"Well, that's one hurdle definitely. And I'm not sure if I can help you with that. But another is the fact that you threw out your battle gear."
"Aw, fucking hell, I forgot! Shit, I can't exactly show up in jeans and a tank top for this, can I?" Todd groaned, covering his face.
"You could. It would just sting. A lot."
"That thing never afforded me much protection anyway," Todd muttered, running a hand through his hair. "And it looked stupid." He trailed off, looking at Kurt. "You, um . . . you said earlier that Professor made us gear?" Todd's tone was a study in misery.
"Yes, he did. It really doesn't look as bad as you're thinking."
"Whether it does or not, I don't got a choice, yo. Figures I'm already gonna get flattened by my teammates for all this. I might as well be in uniform. So, you wanna show me where . . .?"
Trying to smile reassuringly, Kurt put his hand on Todd's arm again and teleported them to the lower levels of the Danger Room.
His reaction to the gear wasn't nearly as negative as Kurt had initially feared. In fact, Todd had almost seemed eager to try it on. Not that he had said as much, but there was a light to Todd's eyes that hadn't been there before. Kurt smiled, able to hear the approval in Todd's voice, even through the occasional gripes as he examined the gear.
It was form fitting, though made of something more substantial than Todd's older costume and less liable to rip. Also, it was a dark gray with not even a hint of green anywhere and the utility belt was actually useful - compactly storing several first aid items, a tracer, and small microphone and headphone buds.
"For communication with each other," Kurt explained. "We have drills where we test the equipment, to make sure everyone can use their gear quickly and expertly. We'll especially be trained in First Aid and CPR."
"Wow, actually useful information? That's good. Cause I was wonderin' when Xavier expected us to have to do battle with metal tentacles - ew, nevermind. Don't answer that one." Todd made a face, then looked back at the costume in his hands. He still seemed a little reluctant. "There's really no 'X's on this thing, right?"
"No, there's not," Kurt said, sensing the problem. "Try it on, at least. Pietro can't complain too much if it makes you look great. You'll probably start a trend."
"Hah. I don't see nobody paintin' spots on themselves yet," Todd snorted, but he headed toward the changing cubicles. "It's weird Summers didn't comment on that. Everyone else who's seen me kinda stares for at least a minute or two."
"Well, he sees nothing but red. It's possible they don't even show up for him."
"Oh. So, I look normal to the one guy I don't even care to look normal in front of? Lucky me." Todd closed the door and a moment later he tossed up his jeans to hang over it.
Kurt blinked, confused by that statement. His phone beeped then and he fished it out of his pocket, reading the text. It was from Amanda. She wanted to meet him for a movie tonight. He smiled, though he was unable to text her back. Big furry fingers tended to be his worst enemy in that sort of thing, but it was no big loss. He enjoyed calling and hearing her voice. Kurt memory dialed her number and waited for her to pick up.
"Hey. So, do you want to go?"
"Sure, what movie?" he asked her. Movies were fine by him. Amanda would lean into him and he'd be able to put his arm around her and they'd just enjoy each other's company, the popcorn, and the film. A bonus was if the film was actually good - then they could talk about it on the way home.
She was listing off a couple, including the theater times. "I hear the one with the lizard - Ringo, or something - is pretty cute, and then there's that Zombie movie that's supposed to be a complete riot. I don't like horror, but I was reading the site, and the gore is so cheesy and fake that I don't think I'll get scared."
"That's cool. Either one is fine by me. What time do you want?"
Amanda told him, but Kurt suddenly wasn't paying attention anymore. Because Todd had stepped out of the cubicle and he was standing before Kurt, fidgeting awkwardly and trying to adjust his uniform. "Dawg, this thing is totally crawling up my ass. Did the Professor hire a team of pedophiles to design this?"
Kurt snorted, trying to stifle a laugh. "Nein," he managed.
"Eight's not okay? I guess seven would be okay then, it would give us time to walk around the mall."
"No, I'm sorry. Eight is fine. I was just distracted for a second. I'm trying to help Todd with his costume."
"Oh for - costume? Really? Man, why you gotta say it like that?" Todd hissed, flushing as he tried again to yank down on the seat of his pants. "This is embarrassing enough."
"I can hear him," Amanda said, sounding amused. "Say hi for me. I take it there's a few wardrobe malfunctions?"
"Ja, he has a killer wedgie," Kurt smirked. "Hey!" he shouted as Todd grabbed the phone from him.
"Yo, hi Amanda? Just so you're aware, your boyfriend won't be makin' it to the movies 'cause I'm' a hafta kill him now."
"As long as it's quick and humane," she giggled.
"Oh, I'll be quick alright. Ow!" Todd yelped as Kurt jumped on him, wrestling him for the phone. He managed to pin the boy's wrists over his head, going dead-weight over Todd so he could talk into the phone.
"Amanda, I'll see you at eight, ja?" Kurt said, trying not to let Todd buck him off.
"Okay. Meet you in front of the theater." She hung up and Todd scowled at him, letting go of the phone.
"Dawg, I'm still gonna kill you when you let me up."
"Oh? And who said I was letting you up?" Kurt asked, grinning. Todd's eyes widened. For too long a moment, he stared at Kurt then looked away.
"So, anyway, does it look lame on me or what?" he asked tersely. Kurt blinked and stood up, offering him a hand. The abrupt change of subject was uncharacteristic enough of Todd to know he needed to stop the horseplay.
"It looks good on you actually. And can you move around in it?"
"Pretty easily. Maybe I just need to stretch it out," Todd muttered. He jumped up onto the ceiling and hung down, looking at the floor rather than Kurt. "Already feels less like a sausage case."
Kurt thought of adding to that, but found that he was too embarrassed to say what had just popped into his mind. He shrugged instead, feeling awkward. "Well, anyway. It looks good. Much better than the old green one, ja?"
"Ja," Todd replied, grinning at him. He flipped back down. The uniform covered him completely from his elbows to his ankles. There were guards for the backs of his hands that didn't interfere with his webbing, plus reinforced shin guards. Black boots not unlike the ones with his other costume gave protection to the soles of his feet but allowed him to stick to and crawl along the walls. Along with that, he had a pair of goggles which he honestly could not discern the purpose for.
"So what're these?" he asked, dangling them in front of Kurt.
"No clue. Maybe eye protection. Does the sun ever hurt your eyes?"
"Not really." Todd tried them on and gasped. Everything was one color and he could see the slightest movement, even in his peripheral vision. A spider was crawling on the wall behind Kurt. A cubicle door swung gently to his right. At the same time, Kurt moved his hand and Todd groaned, taking the goggles off and pinching the bridge of his nose. His eyes had automatically snapped to each slight movement, and he was seeing more at a time than he was used to seeing. His eyes ached; he felt as though they were going to fall out of his head.
"Crap, okay, that's definitely not somethin' I want to wear in battle. Not unless motion sickness is gonna help somehow."
"It's probably something you have to get used to. And maybe it's for night vision?"
"Could be . . . I'd rather ask before I experiment anymore. But hey, this stuff is cool and it feels more comfortable now."
"Well, you're not the only one who got the wedgie experience. Think how fun it must have been for someone with a tail. Kitty also told me that the first time she tried hers on, it was so tight that she was worried about phasing her bare butt out."
Todd laughed at that. "I bet Lance wouldn't have minded a bit! Now there's a thought to cheer him up."
"Ach! Don't tell anyone I said that! She'll murder me!"
"Dawg, with the things that spill outta your mouth sometimes, how do you ever stay alive?" Todd asked, putting the goggles into a pouch in his belt.
"I ask myself that often," Kurt shrugged. "So, you going to break the news to the Brotherhood, wearing that? Or will that be a surprise for tomorrow?"
He chewed on his lip. "I don't know. I'm kinda hopin' everyone will be so wound up that they won't notice."
"You have Pietro on your team. He'll notice. But you know what - at least you look like you could be a leader in that gear. It gives you more dignity, for one thing." Kurt paused. "I think you should save it for tomorrow."
"I should let them pitch a fit about one thing at a time, huh?" Todd sighed and went back into the changing cubicle. "Probably a good plan."