A/N: Not my first X-Men fic, but definitely my first readable one. I hate when movies end right before the part I really want to see -- so, as usual, I decided I'd take matters into my own hands. *rolls eyes* This is how I have several dozen fic beginnings on my computer and almost no finished pieces. Well, this one's almost done, I'm just posting it in fairly small segments.

The vast majority of the first person dialogue is in this chapter. In fact, I may never use first person again. Not in this story, anyway.

Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men -- comics, movies, cartoons, or otherwise -- and if you sue me, you'll get a great whopping 30 bucks, a collection of ticket stubs, and possibly a sword. So don't bother.

Face Value

I. Thoughts and Morals

Xavier's School -- a mansion. I don't know what I had expected, but it wasn't a mansion. And this room... Mutant children who live here must be confused sometimes by the mixed messages adults give them -- they live so comfortably in the luxury of this house, cared for by the good Professor, who tells them to be tolerant and accepting; yet they fear setting foot outside the school, they fear humans... some fear their own families.

I cannot live in this world. How had I thought I could? It was so simple in the circus -- I could make people fear me, though I would not hurt them, and when they had all gasped and cowered, I would do something funny and they would laugh, and all wounds would be healed. They paid to be entertained, and I could entertain them easily -- and they loved me for it. Beyond that, hiding was no big deal. I didn't go out in the daytime, no one saw me, everyone was happy. I was lonely, perhaps, but I had a few friends -- other oddities like myself, not mutated, but certainly strange enough besides. One of them was a tattoo artist, and, being on friendly terms with me, he gladly carved the sacred symbols on my right upper arm where I could not reach.

The circus was simple, understanding. Here it's so different -- people are frightened of me, and it's real fear, the kind of fear that is the fear of spiders or drowning or abandonment... not the kind of fear that I can make all better by simply falling off a rafter or pretending to get tangled up with my tail.

Xavier's mansion. The school for gifted youngsters. I don't believe I've ever heard of a more ironic euphemism in my life, except perhaps when my fellow circus performers would pass me off to normal people by saying I had a skin condition. Big laugh.

I was perched on the curtain rail, pondering the room, letting myself think of things I hadn't dared think about in years. My tail whipped back and forth like a restless cat's; I looped it around the rail beside me to still it. I let go of the rosary I had been lightly fingering and held my hand out in front of me, staring with unseeing eyes.

Most mutants look normal on the outside. Coming to this school, this strangely homelike place, only served as a reminder of that fact. The children walk together, laugh at jokes, run in the halls against the rules, lessen their fear through companionship. Despite the occasional sights of their active powers -- Kitty Pride running through walls to class, Bobby Drake frosting over briefly to cool off after playing basketball -- the children, and even most of the adults, look perfectly normal.

But when I walked into the front hall, into the huge room full of scared children recently returned from hiding in the woods, I was not greeted with warmth. I cannot blame any of them, for had I been one of them, and seen someone like myself walking into a house I had until recently called I would have greeted me the same way. Dozens of young pairs of eyes stared at me, unbelieving, apprehensive, accusing, frightened. I know they were scared. I know they had just been attacked, driven out of their school, some even shot with tranquilizers. But despite that, their estranged, distant glances pained me in a way I could not describe. I had long known that humans would not accept me, and I pitied them for their narrow-mindedness; but would my fellow mutants not accept me, either?

My outward appearance is a hardship I must bear without complaint, lest I go mad. Of all the mutants I have met in the last few weeks (and I've met more than I could have imagined even existed), the only ones who have not given me any strange sideways looks or been hesitant in approaching me were Magneto, the Professor, and Mystique.

I am a freak among freaks; an enigma to those who don't know me, an ironic oxymoron to those who do. Devout demon. How strange, eh. Normal people come to me with a strong idea of what I must be like, based solely on what they have seen. Then, when I open my mouth and speak in a normal, human voice with a strong German accent, in near-perfect English (a second language to me), they are obviously taken aback -- whether they had expected a demon-like voice, guttural and otherworldly, or an animal with no language at all, I do not like to speculate. It is difficult, I think, for people to see the normal person under the blue skin, the intelligence and feeling behind the yellow eyes.

I closed my eyes, hiding at least one aspect of my strangeness, and tried to clear my mind of any more such thoughts. Picking up the dangling rosary, I began to recite it under my breath, believing longingly, as I always did, in God's grace and unwavering acceptance of all His children -- be they white or black, Jewish or Arab, gay or straight... mutant or human. It always calmed me; and besides, it would keep me occupied for quite a long time.

A/N: I left a few bits of iffy grammar in here on purpose -- I mean, English is a second language to Kurt, it can't be expected to be perfect. I also didn't use as many contractions as I usually do, for the same reason. So, if you're going to flame anything, please don't flame the grammar. It has an excuse.

What do you think? Shall I continue, or simply beat my head in with a rock and spare you all the pain of reading this piece of junk? (Mom, if you're reading this, I'm *just kidding!* No beating of heads will occur anytime soon, trust me.) PLEASE REVIEW! (I *will* sic my hell-spawn, plastic-chewing, house-destroying cat after you if you don't review, so be warned...)